Tuesday, 26 April 2022

V is for Verbal (Spell Components)

As a GM I love spell reagents, read components. Many fantasy TTRPGs provide mechanics for these. How each are portrayed at the table is a matter of taste, but please...don't.

D&D 5e has three components and for the most part they are nearly fully abstracted. The Material components can be simply part of a "component pouch" or "focus." Never mind that each spell that has a material component is specific. If you need a the fingernail, the component pouch is fully stocked. However, if the spell states that a material component is consumed or has a specific monetary value, i.e., 500 GP diamond, then the character must have that specific item and can not "handwave" the reagent.  Verbal and Somatic (magical gestures) components require the character to be able to speak or move, respectively. A Silence spell can be particularly effective sometimes.

I love this mechanic in the abstract and have constructed vignettes in play for the characters to collect reagents.

GM: A flash of lightning, followed instantly by peals of thunder and the crack of a tree crashing in the forest to the right of the cart path distract you from your wet and mud soaked misery.
Player (Magic User): Oh, I need a piece of wood from a tree struck by lightning! I immediately turn to run into the woods to find the tree.
Player (Ranger): No! There's a wolf pack following us just inside the tree line! I told you that already. I yell for him to stop, but don't chase after him.

I had a player once just announce at a dinner party that his character was stealing the butter plate with the butter for his Drop spell.

This mechanic certainly has some history, especially in the Satanic Panic of the 80s. "The Players Handbook has the descriptions for casting real spells! And the ingredients too!" Alas, I never did find that Ice Giant's toe nail to make that Strength Potion.

Also, butter. See butter is slippery. Just the component for real spells.

Posted by caffeinated at 10:00 PM in d10