Survival Out in the Wilds Part 3: Spell Reagents

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , ,

"Tell me why are we doing this again?" Isabel shivered drawing the heavy Worg fur cloak around her as they climbed their way over the rocky mountain path, the sound of the thin snow crunching underfoot and wind almost drowning out her voice.
"These potions must be delivered before the winter snows stops all travel through the mountains for the season and since stone giants are blocking the main pass.." Duncan moved beside her now helping her climb another boulder as she sighed "Couldn't we just get rid of them?"

Sandell grunted from the front of the group as his experienced eyes picked their path "All they want is their sacred statue back, I say when we get to Pryham we find the damm thief who stole it. Anyway I've travelled this mountain for 60 years I'll get us there... hows the leg holding up Samuel?"
The young priest leaning on his quarterstaff grinned from under the thick hood, his gloved fingers playing along the wood "I'm doing fine honoured grandfather with divine grace I've been blessed with health though I'm grateful for these cloaks and gloves Duncan made." The dwarf 's spluttering at the phrase honoured grandfather caused Duncan to smile, it seemed the priest had developed a sense of humour since his fever.  

Welcome to part 3 of the Survival Out in the Wilds series, in the last article we covered possible effects using monster hide and shell would have in crafting armour.  In this article we are now going to have a quick look at what uses other bits of a creature can be.

Our main topic will be the spell reagent rule, this rule set is simple but does rely on firm knowledge of a spells material components and some personal ruling for the DM thus is best for a player or DM that knows his choice of spells well.
In theory it works by the spell caster using a rare and more powerful spell components in the place of (or in addition to) the material components of the spell, granting the in game advantage of up to +3 additional caster level onto the spell depending on the component used.
Casting a spell using a spell reagent does not affect the casting time and uses the reagent up along with the material component. A reagent costs 25gp per point of bonus it grants (25gp, 50gp or 75gp respectively) and can only be used for the spell it was purchased for. However feel free to alter this cost however you wish as the rule set was primarily designed for players to gather their own.

To help understanding we’ll cover a series of examples:
The general enhancement spells such as Bull’s Strength and Bear’s Endurance are the easiest ones to judge and serve as a good introductory point as the material components involved in these spells are usually the fur, feather or dung of the creature the spell is named after.

So if our spellcaster wished to enhance Cat’s Grace he could replace the normal material component of cats fur with the fur of a large cat such as a lion, this would most likely only grant a +1 bonus to caster level however it could be easily argued that due to non magical nature of the animal no bonus should be rewarded.  
A more reliable reagent would be the fur of a suitable Dire Creature so a Dire Lion for this example, this would grant a +2 bonus to the caster level of the spell.
Now our spellcaster wants to cast Bull’s Strength and has a powered Minotaur Horn using this instead of bulls dung (in addition of not smelling) this would grant a +2 bonus to caster level unless it was a Minotaur Lord in which case a +3 might be allowed. Another alternative would be the silver horns of a gorgon which like the Minotaur Lord could also increase the reagents power to a +3 bonus , as general rule the more powerful and suitable the creature is to a spell the greater the bonus.
In the above example this is due to both creatures having a very bull like nature, simply using the horns of a strong creature such as some breed of dragons would not be suitable.

Simple enough so far however things quickly get interesting when more vague creatures come into play for example the Owlbear, it could be used for both Bear’s Endurance and Owl’s Wisdom however due to its dual nature a Spellcraft check DC equal to 15 + spell level would be appropriate to cast.
Consequences for failing the check could be that the spell just doesn’t cast or perhaps some side effects may occur depending on the reagent used, such as gaining a +2 to Constitution and Wisdom instead of +4 to a single statistic or the effect of Rage spell in addition on the person receiving the spell which lasts as long as the original spell is on them.

Other examples of alternative components would be adding a reagent to a spell or improving an existing component rather than replacing though this only works with spells that already have a material component as the example below.
The Displacement spell requires the material component of a small loop of leather, if a spell caster tried to use a Displacer beasts fur as an alternative without the loop would most likely require a Spellcraft check similar to above (as the the shape of the loop is important to the spell.) Using both components together would suffer no problems and would grant a +1 or +2 bonus however a loop made from Displacer beast fur would grant a +2 or +3 bonus.

For a general rule if you believe a spell reagent doesn’t quite fit a spellcraft check should be made using the DC 15 + spell level. Additional factors such as age or damage could cause additional difficulty to the spell. For example Using the fur of a summoned or polymorphed creature for a reagent should increase the DC.

As stated at the start this rule does require a bit of monitoring by the DM though in my previous experiences the party wizard often begins making his own catalog of spell reagents, which has led to some interesting adventures where the wizard has marched the party off to collect the ideal materials.

One further detail to be addressed is the number of reagents recovered from slaying a creature, this can cause a few arguments as after all an owlbear has a lot of fur and feathers and some players believe they should have at least 50-60 spell reagents from the body.
For the best balance I’d say about 5-10 usable reagents are available however this was mostly to balance the cost of the party selling reagents back to other mages.

The next article will focus on the juicy insides of the beasts and answer the question of just how does Dragon taste?

Quick Link: Part 1 Part 2 Part 4

“60 years grandfather? How much of it was spent lost?" the gentle teasing clashed with the mild irritation in Isabels voice, it was nearing nightfall and still they had not reached Sandell's clans mining post.
"Well we would of been there two hours ago if I was travelling with dwarves.. anyway be careful there's a cave opening ahead." grumbled Sandell who not minding the cold found his temper wearing thin with the complaints of the Enchantress.
Over the howling wind Duncan could swear he heard a familiar noise, his eyes now scanning the darkening skies they focused a circling bird possibly a hawk weaving unnaturally almost as if intended to noticed. His gaze dropping as it passed over the mountainside above he found his throat tightening as he spotted what the creature was trying to signal. "THE CAVE RUN NOW".

Almost scrambling he rushes over the rock grasping Isabel's arm as he passes pulling her surprised form into a sprint, the others knowing him better do not question what would cause the normally quiet man to shout and simply run. "Not again.. by the nine hells." Samuels pain voice cries out as slipping only to find the dwarfs powerful hand catching him a grim grin on his face "I agree now come on."
A growing thunder of noise above them the group barely reached the cave as the avalanche of snow and ice crashed over the entrance sealing it. Panting heavily in the pitch blackness the group tried to recover their breath, the silence broken by chuckle from Sandell "Swept away in a flood as a child, hit by a mudslide and now nearly crushed in an avalanche.. I think your god wants a personal audience Samuel." the young priests face shook his head smirking "Well I guess his Divine grace will have to learn to be patient."


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