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Friday, December 14, 2018

Last-Minute Spell Components

Jason Vey blogged about material components for spells, which got me thinking about some things. Previously, I’ve talked about ingredients for spell scroll ink and vague ideas about allowing material components to alter spells on the fly, but never really delved further into the topic. But for the unrelated leech and apothecary class, I talked about a simple ingredients system: leeches and apothecaries spend coin on generic ingredients when stocking up for an adventure, recording just the value in coins on the character sheet, and deduct random amounts from that as they use up their supplies.

This could be adapted to a simple material spell components system:
Higher-level spells require material components to cast. Basic spell components don’t cost much and can be scrounged up instead of purchased, if the magician is short on cash. However they are acquired, the player writes down the total value spent (can be as low as 1 coin) as well as where the components are stored and any precautions taken. 
When casting a spell of level 2 or higher, roll 1d6 per spell level. Every 1 rolled deducts 1 from the value of the spell components carried. When the components run out, the magician can only cast 1st level spells until more components are acquired.
But wait! We can get even more interesting results with some ideas from the random keys technique!
Magicians can buy specialty arcane components, where available. Each specialty component has one or more keywords for the type of spell it affects: “fire components” for spells like Fireball, for example. Record the keyword(s) and value. 
A spellcaster can announce they are using special components. The player rolls 1d6 per keyword that matches the spell’s effect. Deduct the total from the value of the spellcaster’s supplies. If the spellcaster has enough ingredients and any of the d6s rolled are 5+, the spellcaster does not forget the spell, but retains it to cast again later.
Perhaps even more can be done with this approach. I may return to this topic later.

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