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In D&D 5E, if you have a focus (like bards have instruments and clerics have holy symbols) for your spell casting do you need to pay for materials?

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Sometimes.

(PHB p.203, "Components") Your focus can only replace some of your material components. Specifically, components with a listed value are not substituted by the focus.

For example, if you wish to cast control water with its material component of "a drop of water and a pinch of dust" your focus will suffice. But if you wish to cast continual flame with its material component of "ruby dust worth 50gp, which the spell consumes" you need to provide that material component separately.

(It's worth noting that not all price-specified components are consumed during spellcasting: compare continual flame with something like Drawmij's instant summons. Priced components which are not consumed are still not substituted by a focus, though.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ It may be worth mentioning that many DMs will make you simply deduct the gold cost from your inventory, and not required you to actually have the item. Yes, it's a house rule, but it's a fairly common one, and makes book keeping easier \$\endgroup\$ – Shem Oct 15 '16 at 22:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is common (as are all modifications designed to not play the inventory/encumbrance game), but it's one I, personally, dislike and I won't be including. I think it'd make perfectly good sense to post a second answer describing whatever scheme you use, though =) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Oct 15 '16 at 22:11

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