An invaluable substitute for arcane material components.
If you know where to look, the world is filled with esoteric materials to aid in arcane spellcasting. If you have enough of such an ingredient to spend, you can effectively ignore any material components your spell might otherwise need. These materials themselves cannot be reused.
Each of the four main esoterics hold sway over two different arcane schools, so the first step is to use the correct material. The cost for doing so is 1 gp × caster level × spell level. For example, the spell Nondetection usually requires a 50 gp diamond ground into a fine powder (and diamonds, even if easily affordable, are not easily ground). You could instead use esoteric geodes to cast this spell: 15 gp worth of geodes for a fifth level caster. Without diligence, though, esoteric geodes might well be harder to find than the diamond! Esoteric materials also allow a caster, by spending less material, to cast a spell at lower than their caster level: useful in training new proteges or forging weaker magical items.
You may also spend the incorrect material, but doing so is twice as expensive. Finally there is the rare esoteric, Yliaster, which can only be found in major treasure hordes.
They are naturally occurring environmental features, meaning that they cannot be easily found through Detect Magic or similar abilities: more the province of rangers and druids than the mages that use them. No, the only way to properly accumulate such ingredients is to diligently scour for them (through the feat below) or else to buy them in town.
The Five Esoterics
The powers and potential of these component replacers are still being unlocked.
Associated Schools: Evocation & Necromancy
This slightly viscous, pearlescent gray-black substance is most commonly stored in small vials, jars, and bottles. It’s most frequently found at sites of carnage and places where undead creatures dwell. Locations where multiple creatures died from flames, acid, or lightning are excellent potential sources of entropic resin. It seems to be organic in nature, or at least formed of trace substances from the bodies of organic life forms, though there is some debate on the issue among necromantic scholars. Unrefined entropic resin is potent, but can still be distilled and refined. The more it’s refined, the darker and more solid it becomes. The most potent entropic resin is pitch black and snaps if bent.
Greater Component Effect: Treat your caster level as though it were 1 higher for determining the number of damage dice used by this spell. This also increases the maximum number of damage dice a spell can have by 1, if applicable. For example, a 10th-level wizard casting fireball could expend 60 gp worth of entropic resin to deal 11d6 points of fire damage.
Limited Magic Effect: Use your full caster level (to a maximum of the spell’s minimum caster level + 3) for determining the damage dice of the spell.
Associated Schools: Abjuration & Transmutation
Geodes are loose, spheroid, rocklike structures found within flows of lava rock, areas of upheaval, and places associated with earth and fire elementals. Often mistaken for simple rocks due to their nondescript coating, geodes are hollow with various crystal formations hidden within. Formed from molten rock and exotic trapped gases that turn into crystals, geodes can have innate properties that help extend perceptions and pierce barriers, both astral and physical. Small or crudely worked geode fragments or nodes are more than potent enough to be used with low-level spells, but for more complex spells, it’s more efficient for the geodes to be cleansed, cut, and worked into a more refined state.
Greater Component Effect: Treat your caster level as though it were 2 higher for determining the duration of this spell.
Limited Magic Effect: Use your full caster level instead of the minimum for determining the duration of the spell.
Associated Schools: Conjuration & Illusion
Made of incredibly tiny polyhedrons, prismatic sand reflects a rainbow of colors. Most commonly found by sifting sand from warm beaches, this substance appears to be normal glass cut into very specific multifaceted shapes. Due to the substance’s apparent mundanity, spellcasters frequently try to manufacture it, but so far no attempt has been successful. When gathered in enough quantity, typically 2 ounces or so, prismatic sand takes on a rainbow sheen across its surface. To make prismatic sand more effective, it must be carefully separated from the normal sand it’s typically mixed with—it functions much better when pure. Prismatic sand also works better when treated with cleansing chemicals, polished, and shined with a variety of specialized cloths and materials. Individual grains come in all variety of prismatic shapes, and the more sides a grain has, the better its mirrored surface captures light. The most intricate grains bend, manipulate, and split light into a dazzling spectrum.
Greater Component Effect: You can either treat your caster level as though it were 4 higher for determining the range of the spell, or increase or decrease the spell’s area of effect by 5 feet if it’s a burst, emanation, line, or spread with a radius or length of at least 20 feet.
Limited Magic Effect: Use your full caster level for determining the spell’s range and area.
Associated Schools: Divination & Enchantment
Verdant salts are found upon the dried, post-flowering pods of a common plant used in making textiles. The salt gathers on the plant only on dewy mornings following a full moon. Consuming verdant salts alters perceptions, and is said to improve the eater’s health. Grazing animals drawn to the salty taste frequently eat the crystals, so following deer or livestock that exhibit erratic behavior can lead a spellcaster to fields where verdant salts can be found. Raw verdant salts can be dissolved, refined, and processed into more complex salt crystals or solid rods of compressed salt. Such refinements take time, and require special training in order for a wizard, alchemist, or craftsperson to produce properly.
Greater Component Effect: Increase the DC of any saving throw, skill check, or ability check an enemy must attempt due to this spell by 1.
Limited Magic Effect: The saving throw DC of the spell equals the base DC + 3, or 10 + the spell’s level + your spellcasting ability modifier, whichever is lower.
Yliaster (Rare Component)
Associated Schools: All
The rare substance yliaster is the universal esoteric component, and has the same effect and price no matter the school of the spell it’s used on. It can even be substituted for an equivalent value of an expensive material component—5,000 gp worth of yliaster could be used to cast raise dead without a diamond worth 5,000 gp, for example. Yliaster is a claylike material found in small clods typically no bigger than a berry or thimble. It’s remarkably light, seems to be composed of many colors, and does not crumble or compress in the same fashion as normal clay or soil. A spell cast using yliaster can’t also benefit from common esoteric components.
Greater Component Effect: Increase the DC of any saving throw, skill check, or ability check an enemy must attempt due to this spell by 1. In addition, treat your caster level as though it were 2 higher for this spell. This increase can also raise the maximum damage dice of the spell beyond its limit. For example, a 10th-level wizard casting fireball could expend 600 gp worth of yliaster to cast it at CL 12th and deal 12d6 points of fire damage. This bonus also applies on caster level checks to overcome spell resistance and on concentration checks while casting the spell.
Price: Unlike with other esoteric components, the required amount of yliaster doesn’t vary with caster level. The cost of using yliaster is always 200 gp per spell level. Yliaster is even lighter than common components, weighing 1 pound per 2,000 gp of value. Few people, even experienced spellcasters, are able to find yliaster easily. Treat it as though it were a major magic item for the purposes of determining its availability. It’s typically sold in pieces worth 1,000 gp (five castings of a 1st-level spell), or multiples of 1,000 gp for larger pieces.
The following Esoteric feats may be of interest to any arcane caster:
Over the course of an adventuring day, a spellcaster can scrounge for esoteric components in her environment. At the end of each day, she can collect 1d6 gp worth of each common esoteric component. (Rare components can never be found by scrounging.) This requires her to explore a decent-sized area. Spending several days in one town or repeatedly going through the same few rooms in a dungeon doesn’t yield more than 1 day’s worth of components. A scrounger can instead hunt exclusively for a specific type of common esoteric component. Because esoteric components are naturally occurring, she must succeed at a DC 15 Knowledge (nature) check or come up empty-handed. If she succeeds, she gains 2d6 gp worth of the component she was searching for and none of the others. Depending on the likelihood of finding a type of component in an area, the GM can adjust the die size up or down. (For instance, Maeral Inenola is covered in verdant salts and has some prismatic sand left, but it’s completely devoid of geodes and entropic resin.)
When you cast a spell using esoteric materials, you reinforce your spell’s magical structure, making the spell difficult to stop or remove. When you use esoteric material components as part of casting a spell, you gain a +2 bonus on concentration checks to cast that spell, and the spell is treated as though its caster level were 2 higher against attempts to dispel it. This increase is in addition to any increases due to greater component or limited magic benefits.
Esoteric Abjuration (requires Geodes)
A carefully selected set of geodes causes the defenses you create with your spells to offer even better protection. When you cast an abjuration spell using geodes as an esoteric material component, you can grant a single target of that spell a +1 competence bonus on its Fortitude, Reflex, or Will saving throws for the duration of the spell. The spell must have a duration measured in rounds or minutes, and a creature can benefit from no more than one bonus from this feat at a time. When you gain geodes’ greater component effect with an abjuration spell, treat your caster level as an additional 1 higher for determining the duration.
Esoteric Conjuration (requires Prismatic Sand)
Prismatic sand refracts the spatial energies of your conjuration magic, creating a magical distortion. When you cast a conjuration spell using prismatic sand as an esoteric material component, select one creature summoned, called, or moved from another plane by your spell. For 1 round, that creature hasn’t fully phased onto the current plane, causing all attacks against it to suffer a 20% miss chance (attacks without attack rolls deal 20% less damage). When you gain prismatic sand’s greater component effect with a conjuration spell, treat your caster level as an additional 2 higher for determining the range. This happens regardless of whether you chose to increase range or area with the greater component effect. This feat does not allow you to further increase the size of an area.
Esoteric Divination (requires Verdant Salts)
Scrying and other difficult divinations become more likely to get to the truth when you use verdant salts. When you cast a divination spell using verdant salts as an esoteric material component, you’re more likely to get good information. You gain one of the following benefits, as appropriate to the spell: you increase the likelihood of a percentage-based divination to work correctly by 5% (giving a –5 penalty on the d% roll for contact other plane, for example), you gain a +2 competence bonus on Perception checks while perceiving through a divination (scrying) spell such as scrying, or you can ask one additional question (with contact other plane or speak with dead). When you gain verdant salts’ greater component effect with a divination spell, increase the DC by an additional 1.
Esoteric Enchantment (requires Verdant Salts)
Verdant salts addle your target’s mind when properly combined with an enchantment spell. When you cast an enchantment spell using verdant salts as an esoteric material component, one target affected by your spell takes a –2 penalty on your choice of ability checks, attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, or skill checks for 1 round. If your spell allows a saving throw and the target succeeds at its save, it doesn’t take this penalty. A creature can be affected by only one penalty from this feat at a time. This is a mind-affecting effect. When you gain verdant salts’ greater component effect with an enchantment spell, increase the DC by an additional 1.
Esoteric Evocation (requires Entropic Resin)
Entropic resin flares from your hand when you use it for an evocation spell, striking a nearby foe. When you cast an evocation spell using entropic resin as an esoteric material component, you can damage one creature adjacent to you. The resin deals 1 point of damage per 2 caster levels of the spell (minimum 1), and matches the damage type of your spell. When you gain entropic resin’s greater component effect with an evocation spell, treat your caster level as an additional 1 higher for determining both the damage dice of the spell and the extra damage from Esoteric Evocation. This also increases the spell’s maximum damage dice if applicable.
Esoteric Illusion (requires Prismatic Sand)
Prismatic sand perfects and stabilizes the forms of your illusions. When you cast an illusion spell using prismatic sand as an esoteric material component, the DC to disbelieve the illusion increases by 2, as does the spell’s AC, if applicable. This benefit lasts for the duration of the spell, but doesn’t affect spells with a duration of instantaneous or permanent. When you gain prismatic sand’s greater component effect with an illusion spell, treat your caster level as an additional 2 higher for determining the range. This happens regardless of whether you chose to increase range or area with the greater component effect. This feat does not allow you to further increase the size of an area.
Esoteric Necromancy (requires Entropic Resin)
Your expertise with entropic resin causes your necromancy spells to strike fear in those they affect. When you cast a necromancy spell using entropic resin as an esoteric material component, one target of that spell becomes shaken. If your spell allows a saving throw and the target succeeds at its save, it is unaffected by this effect. If the spell causes the target to become shaken or frightened, this effect doesn’t increase the severity of that condition (so a spell that frightens a creature wouldn’t instead cause it to become panicked due to this feat). This is a mind-affecting fear effect. When you gain entropic resin’s greater component effect with a necromancy spell, treat your caster level as an additional 1 higher for determining the damage dice. (This also increases the spell’s maximum damage dice if applicable.)
Esoteric Transmutation (requires Geodes)
Geodes strengthen your physical prowess when you use them to cast transmutation spells. When you cast a transmutation spell using geodes as an esoteric material component, you gain a +2 bonus on attack rolls, ability checks, and skill checks based on your choice of Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution (you make this choice each time). This bonus lasts until the end of your next turn. When you gain geodes’ greater component effect with a transmutation spell, treat your caster level as an additional 1 higher for determining the duration.