I have decided I want to tweak the magic system for the reboot of my campaign. I want to emphasize the mechanics of magic a bit more. I want wizards to have a studied feel to them, where they truly understand the workings of magic. Spontaneous casters should have to work harder to understand the workings of magic, since they are more instinctive in casting it. I want to reward those spells that require a material component as fewer do in 3.X. Magic should have a mystic feel to it not just a, I drop a fireball over there for Xd6 damage. Enough blabbing and onto some mechanics.
As far as material components are concerned I am not worried about the pinch of salt, or small dash of this or that. When a spell calls for a frog’s eye, a feather, or a gem worth XXX gold pieces these are the types of spells I am looking to impact. I am going to put the effort on the player, for deciding what level of burden they want to carry with their material components. Components that meet the letter of the spell description will allow the spell to function as written. Fouled or damaged components may cause a weaker spell or a failure altogether even magical backlash. Now the player that seeks out a rare or more expensive version of a component will have greater effects.
Let me offer up an example using a familiar spell like fireball. The materiel components are a ball of bat guano and sulfur, simple enough to obtain.
Poor or damaged components:
The party plummets down a step decline tunnel in a dungeon, and they land in a giant puddle soaking them all. As they start to regain their bearings the spell caster hears the groans of more zombie ratmen. Instinctively he reaches into his pouch and grabs the ball of sulfur and bat guano though damp in his fingers his words and gestures take form in the air and the red dot of the fireball rips from his hand down the hallway. He sees a small burst of flame, he hears the bodies of a undead ratmen hit the floor but the groans of the still burning and unharmed zombie ratmen continue to grow closer. The wizards fireball was only a 5′ radius in for half normal damage because the components were soaking wet.
Normal components with no adverse conditions: As per spell description.
Exotic components with no adverse conditions:
Let us say that the party while exploring a cave system comes across a cave that houses a few dire bats. After defeating them he gathers some dire bat guano and mixes it with some rare purified sulfur that he acquired as payment for a job performed for an alchemist (not the PC class alchemist, just a potion maker), to make his fireball material components. Later in the cave system they party encounters a fungus queen, and some of her spawn. The wizard wins initiative and lets a fireball fly using one of his dire bat guano/purified sulfur material components. The explosion of fire is blinding, and larger than normal, as the parties eyes adjust after the explosion of fiery light they see the all her spawn laying in still burning piles on the floor as the fungus queens continues to burn and writhe, missing an arm. The effects of the spell were treated as maximized, with a 50% increase in area of effect.
I need to work on ironing out the mechanics of how it will effect the spells but that is the feel I want to generate for the mechanic. I am thinking that maybe with better components a metamagic feat/feats of up to +4 level increase can be applied based on quality of improved components. For bad or damaged components maybe something as simple as half all variables. Of course play test will reveal the flaws in the system.
In the next installment of Magic in the Twin Falls, I plan to discuss spontaneous casters VS. memorization casters.