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All Rules in Esoteric Material Components

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Implementing Esoteric Components

Source Pathfinder Unchained pg. 151
There’s more than one way to introduce esoteric components to a game. Three variants are detailed below.

Optional Components

Source Pathfinder Unchained pg. 151
The esoteric material components system can be added directly on top of the normal spellcasting system. Spells don’t need esoteric components to be cast, and normal material components function as normal. Expending esoteric material components worth the listed values allows the caster to replace normal material components she lacks (but not to replace expensive material components). It’s far more useful in this system to pay double the amount of esoteric components to gain the greater component effect. A 6th-level wizard casting fireball can do so using a normal spell component pouch. If he’s missing his pouch, he can expend 18 gp worth of entropic resin to cast the spell anyway. He could expend 36 gp worth (with or without a spell component pouch) to make the spell more powerful with its greater component effect.

Adding esoteric material components as an option makes spellcasters considerably more powerful. When used this way, esoteric components are essentially an additional type of treasure. Use esoteric components as treasure only rarely, and consider ignoring the rules that allow scrounging for components. Esoteric components might not be very well known in the world, and aren’t readily available to purchase.

Mandatory Components

Source Pathfinder Unchained pg. 151
If esoteric components are mandatory, casting any spell that requires a material component requires expending the proper amount of esoteric material components instead. A 6th-level wizard casting fireball must expend 18 gp worth of entropic resin, and can expend 36 gp worth to make the spell more powerful with its greater component effect. If he doesn’t have enough components, he can’t cast the spell. However, if he had 15 gp worth of entropic resin, he could cast the fireball at caster level 5th. A spell that doesn’t require material components can be cast normally, but the caster can choose to expend esoteric components for the greater component effect.

Under this system, a spell component pouch includes 1 gp worth of each common component, plus an additional 1 gp worth of a common type of the buyer’s choice. Requiring esoteric components significantly impacts a spellcaster’s treasure acquisition, so the mandatory components variant should be used with caution, especially if the campaign already uses variants that make spellcasting less powerful (such as limited magic; see page 146). Include esoteric components in most treasure hoards and in NPC spellcasters’ gear.

Lowering Your Caster Level

A spellcaster using esoteric material components can voluntarily cast a spell as though she had a lower caster level. This means if she doesn’t have enough components—or would like to save some money—she can still cast a less effective version of the spell. She can’t lower her caster level to be lower than the level at which she could cast the spell. Table 4–7: Esoteric Material Component Cost shows this value for clerics, druids, and wizards, but a spellcaster with a slower progression has the same limitation. A bard couldn’t cast a 3rd-level spell at a caster level lower than 7th, for example.

For spells that don’t continue to increase in power after a certain caster level, it’s usually best for the spellcaster to cast that spell as though she were a lower caster level to reduce the cost of her esoteric components.

With Limited Magic

Source Pathfinder Unchained pg. 152
In a game that uses the limited magic variant, you can add esoteric components to take some of the sting out of the weakened spellcasting. It’s best to include the components as described in the optional components variant, rather than saddling spellcasters with both weakened spellcasting and decreased treasure.

Limited magic uses a fixed caster level, which acts as the baseline for casting a spell using esoteric components or gaining the greater component benef its. When used together, the esoteric components and limited magic systems also allow another option: expending esoteric components to gain the benefits of a higher CL or save DC. The specif ic limited magic benef it is listed under each component description. The caster must expend components whose value is equal to twice the esoteric component cost for his caster level (rather than the spell’s minimum caster level) to gain the limited magic benefit. For example, a 6th-level wizard casting fireball could gain the limited magic benef it by expending 36 gp worth of entropic resin.

As with greater component effects, expending multiple types of esoteric components can apply other limited magic effects, but requires a Spellcraft check. This option is deliberately more expensive to discourage casters from using it too routinely.

A spellcaster can choose to apply either greater component effects or limited magic effects—but not both—on the same casting of a spell.