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When a spell which consumes an expensive material component fails due to counterspell, is the material component consumed?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This question actually started as part of my answer to that previous question cited by @Chepelink, but I wasn't comfortable with presuming that everyone who'd voted for that interpretation would necessarily agree with this next step in the reasoning. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sebkha
    Aug 17, 2016 at 23:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related but not a duplicate: Does a countered spell cost a spell slot? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Mar 23, 2020 at 3:41

2 Answers 2

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Yes

It seems in line with the idea that a failed spell still consumes a spell slot.

So far as I can tell, as per p. 203 of the PHB,

If a spell states that a material component is consumed by the spell, the caster must provide this component for each casting of the spell.

It seems as though the material is consumed at the time of casting. The spell slot is also consumed at the time of casting, and as it is not returned on the event of failure, I'd think that the material components would not be, either.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with this line of thinking. Counterspell is a reaction to a spell that is being cast - the wording of the spell is a bit ambiguous, but saying "the spell fails" says to me that it was actually cast (with all that implies for spell slots and components) but has no effect. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 17, 2016 at 18:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JamesAlday And consuming material components is not an effect of the spell because ...? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Aug 17, 2016 at 21:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's the cost of casting the spell, not an effect that has a chance to fail. \$\endgroup\$
    – UrhoKarila
    Aug 17, 2016 at 21:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Exactly - the components are a part of the casting. They are required for the casting to actually happen/work. Imagine buying something - you require a verbal component ("may i have that item?") and a material component (cash). Counterspell doesn't prevent either of those, it just says that after handing over my money I get no item in return. The money is now spent, but it has no effect - like banking fees. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 19, 2016 at 0:26
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Inconclusive

5e is a bit vague about the exact process of casting spells. I scoured the basic rules, PHB, DMG, and spell list to try and get some clues. There wasn't much information anywhere.

The spellcasting rules subsection on material components unfortunately doesn't settle the matter:

If a spell states that a material component is consumed by the spell, the caster must provide this component for each casting of the spell.

If you have a diamond and cast a spell and it fails but you keep the diamond, then cast the spell again using this unconsumed diamond, you are still "providing this component for each casting".

We also have the language "which the spell consumes" written on consumable components, for example Nondetection states the material components are:

a pinch of diamond dust worth 25 gp sprinkled over the target, which the spell consumes

This does explicitly say that it's the spell which consumes the material, not the process of casting. If the spell fails because it is counterspelled, the target is invalid, etc, then it is not clear to me which, if any, of the spell effects should happen. That includes the spell consuming objects.

Although ruling that components are consumed at the start of the cast makes sense to me, I couldn't find anything in the rules that even implies this is the case, let alone an explicit rule.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry to keep messing with this answer, I was testing a stack bug \$\endgroup\$ Jan 12 at 1:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov np, it do be buggy. Keeps telling me I'm going to abandon my edits whenever I hit save too haha \$\endgroup\$ Jan 12 at 1:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ See my bug report: rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/q/11908/62294 \$\endgroup\$ Jan 12 at 1:26

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