The customer raised an old greyed eyebrow 'Is that so' he responds with a gentle, venerable voice. 'Then I must ask its price. In my day, you see, this would have been exactly the sort of item I'd have looked for.. a rare find indeed.'
The merchant's grin widened 'It caused me great difficulty to acquire this charm, and so I cannot part with it for any less than three hundred platinum coins.'
'Mm.. but I am just a poor old man, prehaps we could work out some kind of arrangement' the gentle voice responds.
'I'm sorry sir, but as I sai-' the merchant was interrupted.
'Don't be so quick to respond, sir. Allow me to finish.' a more serious voice speaks up. The old man reaches into his robe and removes three small orbs of varying sizes and colours. One has a red core which glows within the light, another perfectly clear with three tiny bubbles within its middle, and the last with a silvery substance at its core.
The merchant reaches over the counter and seizes one orb, bringing it closer to his monacle. 'Hmm.. they appear to be genuine.. ah, yes.. crushed ruby.. and.. ah.. You have a deal sir'

Full Item Description
Materians, also called Mages' Orbs by the mundanes, are small, perfectly spherical glass orbs of sizes varying from a half inch in diameter to two inches in diameter. Contained within the glass mold are various powders, substances, and materials. Each materian contains the exact amount of material components a Wizard would need to cast certain spells. In essence, each materian has the spell components for a single spell. The Wizard need only throw the materian to the ground directly in front of him before he casts his spell. In certain underground communities, especially amongst communities of spell casters, materians also act as a type of currency, with each materian having its own unique value. Mundanes rarely possess the intellect to remember and recognize a materian for its worth, therefore mundanes rarely use materians; however learned Wizards should be able to recognize a materians value at glance, and even be able to tell what spell accompanies it.

Materians are fabricated through a magical process, though they are not magical items themselves. Decades ago, a few young entrepeneur wizards decided to create materians to sell to wealthy spell casters as a convenient means of acquiring spell components- so they did not have to adventure themselves to find them. At first, materians were not widely accepted as they were unnessicery. But as time went on, many wizards began to appreciate the convenience of having materians available for their practices. After several years of sales, the entrepeneur wizard had amassed such a fortune from selling their materians that they were able to upgrade their production methods, and the materians were able to be mass produced and sold at cheaper prices. This trend continued until eventually the use of materians had almost become a fad amongst spell casting communities- collecting and trading materians with friends. And so the trend continued, and the trading of materians became more common place, and wizards began to use them during trades. Eventually, the materian had actually become a currency amongst wizarding communities.
If you were to ask a mundane about a materian you would most likely be met by a puzzled look. The materian fad has remained completely underground amongst wizarding communities. If you were to show a materian to a mundane they would likely respond 'Oh, you mean a Mages' Orb, yeah.. I don't know what they do though..' As a rule, materians generally have no value to mundanes except with the occasional scholar or noble who might collect materians for decorative purposes, and amongst select merchants who commonly deal with spell casters.

Author's Notes
Realize that materians do not really fulfil a practical role within certain systems like DnD, where most spells can be cast by simply having a spell component pouch. The purpose of the materian is to add flavor to the spell caster's roleplaying experience, and possibly even pose the spell caster with difficult decisions such as 'Which combination of materians can I use to approach the value of this item, while not getting rid of the ones I am likely to use on my next adventure?' or 'Is this spell really worth what I could gain from trading this materian?'

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