Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Scarce spell components

I'm currently reading a translation of a couple of the Black Books from Swedish folk-magic, and one thing that struck me was the really interesting items (what D&D-me would call "material components") are needed to properly do the spells. For instance:

  • A "blade of regret" - a steel weapon that was used in some way that the user later regretted.
  • Filings from the wedding ring of a bride who lost their husband on their wedding night.
  • A Rowan twig that has been gathered on Maundy Thursday.
  • A pea that has been grown in the eye-socket of a human skull.
  • A headpiece worn by a baby that was baptized in the same church that you were.
  • A horseshoe from a horse that has thrown its rider, killing him.
Etc.

The idea is that it's not that the item itself is innately valuable; no 500 g.p. gems to be crushed up or anything, but that the circumstances of its creation are so rare that an ordinary item becomes valuable due to its provenance. I kinda like that idea as a mechanism for keeping some more powerful spells rarely used, even though they might end up in someone's spell book.