Thursday, August 30, 2012

Material Components

Okay, so I absolutely hate the crappy spell-slot system in pre-4th Edition D&D and in Pathfinder.  A lesser complaint of mine is the requirement for material components for certain spells.  Yes, having the wizard pull out a small bit of spiderweb, or a bat's ear, or whatever in order to cast a spell is very flavorful and mimics magic use as seen in fiction and historical sources.  I'm fine with that in a book or movie.  But having to remember to buy material components and track inventory in a D&D/Pathfinder game just kinda sucks.  Now, to be fair, I've never played in a game where the DM was strict about material component use.  My current DM (Hey, Steve!) only tracks some components, particularly if they are rare and/or very expensive.  But it's still a nuisance to keep track of stuff.

So, my alternative would be that instead of requiring the components to cast, you would give a bonus if they are used.  That gives players (and GMs) the option of ignoring the spell's material components if they prefer ease of play, but also providing the option for those who are fine with the extra work. So for the Identify spell, if you use the "wine stirred with an owl's feather" component, you can increase the range from 60 to 90 feet, or extend the duration from 3 rounds per level to 5 rounds per level, or provide a +15 enhancement bonus (instead of +10) on Spellcraft skill checks made to identify the properties and command words of magic items.

Conversely, if you like the material components rules, then you could still allow spells to be cast without them, but halve the spell's effect.  This allows players to make their own decisions and also allows for spells to be cast even if you don't have the component for some reason.

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