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Building Better Magical Components

When it comes to casting spells in my D&D games, I like the tactics of oldschool Vancian magic (preperation, one time use, powerful spells, wide interpretation of effects). I want my magic system to be a lot more like Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! where a spell is such a powerful thing, that you use it as a last resource, rather than as a superpower that is your character’s primary way of interacting with the game world.

Additionally, I don’t like a lot of bookkeeping. Having my spellcasters track somatic/verbal/material components for their spells just seems like a waste of time. Half the time you forget to do it, and when you do remember, it’s always in that Wait, you’re tied up, can you cast that spell?” Shit, well I wouldn’t have let them tie me up if I had remembered I couldn’t cast this spell without waving my arms around!” And that’s also something I hate at the table. That feeling that a moment has an asterisk by it. A lot of gaming is like that though, so you kind of just make a ruling and try to do better next time.

However, one thing I love love love, is unique artifacts or components that have a one time use. I like the idea of scrolls, but bigger. Weird spells that have a list of collectible components and then can only be cast once. All my Magic-Users and Elves are encouraged to collect spells by any means necessary - so that they have high-level spells sitting there waiting for them when they get to a certain level. But I’d like to add onto this a bit more. I’d like for some of these spells to be cast even at a lower level, as long as you have certain materials with you. Maybe I’ll add in a chance for spectacular failure or mutations from DCC or WFRP. You can use them as pieces of treasure, or as pieces needed to craft magic artifacts.

  1. Feather from an angel’s wing and the light from it’s halo.
  2. A demon’s horn, ground into a powder, made into a paste with a sinner’s blood
  3. Hair from a unicorn’s mane, the hair loses its power if the unicorn dies.
  4. The venom from a purple worm
  5. The finger bones of a buried saint.
  6. A noose used to hang a traitor.
  7. A brick from the Cathedral of St. Arthos
  8. Nails from a crucified thief
  9. A virgin’s wedding ring and a widow’s veil.
  10. Dead man’s boots.
  11. A blade that’s been rusted by the holy water in the Eminent Cathedral
  12. A living, breathing, fairy in a bottle.
  13. The parchment from a holy man’s prayer.
  14. The foreskin of a serial rapist.
  15. The fingernails of someone buried alive.
  16. Moondust.
  17. Your own eyeball.
  18. The blood drippings from an iron maiden.
  19. A dwarf’s gold.
  20. Night in a bag.

Published on December 5, 2017.

Tagged: dnd   rpgs   tables