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In AD&D 2nd edition, certain spells require different types of components to work. V, S, and M (Verbal, Somatic, Material). When material components, are required, these are listed in the spell description. Spell components are expended as the spell is cast, unless otherwise noted. Clerical holy symbols are not lost when a spell is cast. For cases in which material components are expended at the end of the spell (free action, shapechange, etc.) premature destruction of the components ends the spell.

In Dungeons and Dragons Third Edition, casting any spell requires the character to use particular actions or objects. Each thing the caster must do or have is called a spell component, and they are divided into six basic types.

  • Verbal (V): Words that must be spoken. Spells with a V component cannot be cast in an area of magical silence.
  • Somatic (S): Hand gestures that must be performed. The caster must have at least one free hand, and must not be grappled or restrained. Arcane spellcasters have trouble performing these gestures while wearing restrictive armor.
  • Material (M): An object or substance that must be held or touched during casting, and is consumed by the magic. This can be anything from a simple pinch of dirt, to a specially-cut diamond worth a king's ransom.
  • Focus (F): An object that must be held or touched during the casting, but is not consumed, and can be reused later. An example is the natural pond that druids use for scrying.
  • Divine Focus (DF): Applicable to divine spellcasters only, this indicates that the caster must present his holy symbol during casting.
  • Experience (XP): A number of experience points the caster must give up. This represents sacrificing a fraction of the caster's own life energy to fuel the spell.

Practically all spells have a Verbal component, and the vast majority have Somatic components as well. Materials and Foci are required slightly less often. XP components are rarely needed, being reserved for only the most powerful of effects.

A trained caster may leave out some or all of the components and still have the spell take effect, if he has access to appropriate metamagic.

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