Free Form Spell Components

I was thinking the other day that spell components need to be cooler. I’ve never really liked the long list of specific things that normally come along with the listing of spells. I wanted something cooler and creepier. So here it is.
Magic-Users routinely gather odd bits and pieces and use them to enhance their spell casting. It doesn’t matter if it is some organ or other bit from a monster or a special or unique item. The Magic-User doesn’t have to determine which spell that the component will be used at the time of collection only when a spell is cast. They can use these to enhance a spell that this thematically connected to the spell. For Example:

The hand of of thief: Knock
The lips of a succubus: Charm Person
An arrow head used to kill a dragon: Magic Missile
The ear of a deaf person: Silence
The eyes of a Drow: Darkvision

You get the idea. It’s up to the the creativity and imagination of the player to come up with what works. It’s up to the GM to be fair whether it works or not. Once the component is used so its mojo.
Effects: For each unique component used the caster gains a “+1” benefit. This will depend on each spell. Start by modifying the Saving Throw (if there is one). If not, increase the caster’s effective level for duration or effect. Just use common sense.
It’s up to the player to maintain a detailed list of what he has collected. This may prove to be a little interesting in the case of a player character’s death and the Magic-User starts harvesting bits and pieces of his fallen comrade.

5 thoughts on “Free Form Spell Components”

  1. This is perfect! This is definitely how I’m going to handle spell components in the future. Players who care will gather spell components, players who don’t want the hassle will ignore them.

    I’d suggest that cheap spell components that are difficult to keep large amounts of (handfuls of fresh cobwebs, a fresh fish, etc) should be worth something too.

    But that cheap spell components that are easy to keep (a pouch full of sand) should be worthless.


    Cheap, easy spell components are OK for spell levels 1-2. Cheap, problematic spell components OR expensive, easy spell components are OK for spell levels 3-5. Expensive, problematic components are OK for spells 6-9.

    Or do 1-3, 4-6, 7-9. Whatever is easiest to remember.

    And of course you can go downward. You could use a big diamond as a prism for a Color Spray. Who would do it?


  2. This kind of parallels a house rule I plan to try out during an upcoming S&W campaign:

    “Spells don’t become unprepared after casting. Instead, casting causes 2HP “strain” damage per spell level. Certain rare materials may be expended to avoid strain when casting a spell. Casters should be on the lookout for substances, creature parts, relics, herbs, etc. with possible magical sympathies.”

    I’d like to leave it open ended to see what players come up with as sympathetic materials.


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