Spell Components (Optional Rule)

When your character casts a spell, it is assumed that he is doing something to activate that spell. He may utter a few words, wave his hand around a couple of times, wiggle his toes, swallow a live spider, etc. But, under the standard rules, you don't have to know exactly what he does to activate the spell. Some of this can be answered if your DM uses the rules for spell components.

The actions required to cast a spell are divided into three groups: verbal, somatic (gestures), and material. Each spell description (found in Appendices 3 and 4) lists what combination of these components is needed to cast a spell. Verbal components require the caster to speak clearly (not be silenced in any way); somatic components require free gestures (thus, the caster cannot be bound or held); material components must be tossed, dropped, burned, eaten, broken, or whatever for the spell to work. While there is no specific description of the words and gestures that must be performed, the material components are listed in the spell descriptions. Some of these are common and easy to obtain. Others represent items of great value or scarcity. Whatever the component, it is automatically destroyed or lost when the spell is cast, unless the spell description specifically notes otherwise.

If the spell components optional rule is used in your campaign, your wizard or priest must have these items to cast the spell. Without them, he is helpless, even if the spell is memorized. For simplicity of play, it is best to assume that any spellcaster with any sense has a supply of the common items he is likely to need--wax, feathers, paint, sand, sticks, and fluff, for example. For expensive and rare items, it is perfectly proper for your DM to insist that special efforts be made to obtain these items. After all, you simply cannot assume your character has a valuable pearl handy whenever he needs one!

The three different aspects of spell components also change the conditions under which your character can cast his spells. No longer does he need to be able to speak, move, and use some item. He only needs to fulfill the required components. Thus, a spell with only a verbal component could be used by a naked, bound spellcaster. One requiring only gestures could be cast even within the radius of a silence spell. Most spells require a combination of components, but clever spellcasters often create new spells that need only a word or a gesture, enabling them to take their enemies by surprise.

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