Should you stop letting players get spell components for free?

About a month ago, I wrote a post about the practicalities of raise dead (and with it resurrection and true resurrection). One of the issues I touch on is component costs: specifically, diamonds.

It got me thinking: how many other spells are there with expensive components? How often do we handwave these things—and should we?

In the 2014 Player’s Handbook, 53 spells require a material component with a cost attached. That’s one in eight, approximately. Of these, 28 consume the component when cast.

Should we care about this? Rules as written, yes—but I don’t think any of the groups I’ve played in have ever tracked this kind of thing very carefully. Some of these spells are quite niche (eg, illusory script); others are so high level that they rarely come into play (especially as most of the published adventure paths finish in early Tier 3). Moreover, some spells have costs which, for their level, are insignificant (eg, the 5 gp component required for project image, a 7th-level spell), and I would love it if future editions of the game rationalized this a bit.

For other spells, though, the material component isn’t just flavour: it’s game balance. For example, the material components for both chromatic orb and identify are too expensive for characters just starting out. They are clearly not intended to be spells available straight out the gate. And many of the most powerful spells at higher levels have a high component cost because they are not intended to be used every day: simulacrum, raise dead, forcecage, and sequester, for example. They are meant to be special.

Now, you might argue characters in 5e amass so much gold so quickly that these costs become trivial. I disagree, for four reasons:

  1. Unless your DM is being very generous and given you (or allowed you to buy) a magical storage device, you are going to struggle to carry lots of gold around with you. (I did a whole post on this.)
  2. Even if you have the cash, you might not be near a vendor who can sell you these components. I would say you need to be in a large town for anything over 800 gp (eg, a scrying focus), a small city for anything over 3,000 gp (eg, the dust for sequester), and a large city for anything more than 15,000 gp (eg, true resurrection’s diamonds). That’s going to be tricky if you’re deep within a megadungeon, or trapped in the lands of Barovia, or lost in the jungles of Chult. (By the way, these figures aren’t pulled out of thin air: they’re based on the gp limits from the 3rd edition DMG.)
  3. Characters might not have as much gold as you think. For example, Level Up 5th Edition estimates that a character at 9th level might have 3,000 gp. That won’t last long if you are casting spells with a material component of 1,000 gp. (Mind you, my own analysis suggests this is maybe on the conservative side.)
  4. Spell components are storytelling and flavour. Finding them, saving them up, and using them when the need is greatest is all part of the fun.

Ultimately, though, as always, it’s your table, your rules. I’m not going to tell you how to have fun.

Here is the list of all the spells in 2014 Player’s Handbook which have a material component that costs money. If this post does well, I might cover Xanathar’s, Tasha’s, and other sources. Let me know if you’d like to see this in the comments below!


  • Chromatic orb requires a diamond worth at least 50 gp
  • Find familiar consumes charcoal, incense, and herbs worth 10 gp
  • Identify requires a pearl worth at least 100 gp
  • Illusory script consumes lead-based ink worth 10 gp


  • Arcane lock consumes gold dust worth 25 gp
  • Augury requires specially marked sticks, bones, or similar tokens worth at least 25 gp
  • Continual flame consumes ruby dust worth 50 gp
  • Magic mouth consumes jade dust worth at least 10 gp
  • Warding bond requires a pair of platinum rings worth at least 50 gp each


  • Clairvoyance requires a focus worth at least 100 gp, either a jeweled horn for hearing or a glass eye for seeing
  • Glyph of warding consumes incense and powdered diamond worth at least 200 gp
  • Magic circle consumes holy water or powdered silver and iron worth at least 100 gp
  • Nondetection consumes a pinch of diamond dust worth 25 gp
  • Revivify consumes diamonds worth 300 gp


  • Divination consumes a sacrificial offering worth at least 25 gp
  • Leomund’s secret chest requires an exquisite chest worth at least 5,000 gp and a tiny replica worth at least 50 gp
  • Stoneskin consumes diamond dust worth 100 gp


  • Awaken consumes an agate worth at least 1,000 gp
  • Greater restoration consumes diamond dust worth at least 100 gp
  • Hallow consumes herbs, oils, and incense worth at least 1,000 gp
  • Legend lore requires four ivory strips worth at least 50 gp each and consumes incense worth at least 250 gp
  • Planar binding consumes a jewel worth at least 1,000 gp
  • Raise dead consumes a diamond worth at least 500 gp
  • Reincarnate consumes rare oils and unguents worth at least 1,000 gp
  • Scrying requires a focus worth at least 1,000 gp
  • Teleportation circle consumes rare chalks and inks infused with precious gems worth 50 gp


  • Circle of death requires the powder of a crushed black pearl worth at least 500 gp
  • Contingency requires a statuette of yourself carved from ivory and decorated with gems worth at least 1,500 gp
  • Create undead requires one 150 gp black onyx stone for each corpse
  • Drawmij’s instant summons requires a sapphire worth 1,000 gp
  • Find the path requires a set of divinatory tools worth 100 gp
  • Forbiddance requires a powdered ruby worth at least 1,000 gp
  • Guards and wards requires, among other things, a small silver rod worth at least 10 gp
  • Heroes’ feast consumes a gem-encrusted bowl worth at least 1,000 gp
  • Magic jar requires an ornamental container worth at least 500 gp
  • Programmed illusion requires jade dust worth at least 25 gp
  • True seeing consumes an ointment for the eyes that costs 25 gp


  • Forcecage requires ruby dust worth 1,500 gp
  • Mordenkainen’s magnificent mansion requires a miniature portal carved from ivory, a small piece of polished marble, and a tiny silver spoon, each item worth at least 5 gp
  • Mordenkainen’s sword requires a miniature sword worth 250 gp
  • Plane shift requires a forked, metal rod worth at least 250 gp for each plane of existence
  • Project image requires a small replica of yourself made from materials worth at least 5 gp
  • Resurrection consumes a diamond worth at least 1,000 gp
  • Sequester consumes a powder composed of diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire dust worth at least 5,000 gp
  • Simulacrum consumes powdered ruby worth 1,500 gp
  • Symbol consumes mercury, phosphorus, and powdered diamond and opal with a total value of at least 1,000 gp


  • Clone requires a vessel worth at least 2,000 gp and consumes a diamond worth at least 1,000 gp
  • Holy aura requires a tiny reliquary worth at least 1,000 gp


  • Astral projection consumes one jacinth worth at least 1,000 gp and one ornately carved bar of silver worth at least 100 gp for each creature affected by the spell
  • Gate requires a diamond worth at least 5,000 gp
  • Imprisonment requires a special component worth at least 500 gp per Hit Die of the target (the component varies according to the version of the spell you choose)
  • Shapechange requires a jade circlet worth at least 1,500 gp
  • True resurrection consumes diamonds worth at least 25,000 gp

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