Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spell and Potion Components

I don't think I ever played in a game where I needed to keep an inventory for spell components. It is one of those parts of the game, like weapon speeds, that never got used. Swords & Wizardry doesn't mention components for spells. Neither does Labyrinth Lord. OSRIC includes it to mirror AD&D as does Castles & Crusades. Resource management is not high on the entertainment list.

But...I like to use them as an enhancement. Spells can be cast as described in the books without components. But should a mage have the big toe of a fire salamander then maybe the fireball does an extra dies of damage. If the mage has a the crusty bits from a eyes as a dryad awakens then maybe his sleep spell will effect creatures higher than 4HD or add an addition die to total affected. I love using bits of critters for other stuff. In HackMaster they call it the yield. The great thing about this is once you get the players into it they may think of things you hadn't considered. "What if I use a displacer beast tentacle when I cast a Blur spell?" Instead of giving a +2 to armor class I may grant a +4. When components are used in this way they are consumed upon use. They are a one shot nitro injection.

As mention above what I like about opening this door in my campaign is it allows the players to be creative and add to the world. I went through the monster manual and picked out a few of them and described what part would enhance what spell. This opens the door to other knowledge the players can learn, maybe through rumors, books they find and the players have another source of income they can exploit.

The other aspect of the game this can enhance is alchemy/herbology. The potions are like spell, can be made like right out of the book, but let's say the player come across a patch of Blood Drops, small red flowers that only seem to grow near gallows. If a alchemist adds the Blood Drops to a healing potion it adds another die of healing (this one is from my upcoming adventure, Knowledge Illuminates). So adding these small details, enhancements, whatever you would like to call them can add a nice depth to a section of a campaign that is often overlooked.