Is there any mystical (as opposed to social or economic) reason that Earth Elementalists can't just create piles and piles of gold and silver and such without limit? It doesn't look like there's a vis cost to summoning the stuff, and it appears to be repeatable daily or more... and potent elementalists can create crazy quantities of metals in even one roll.
What detail am I missing?
Well I see two possible answers to your query:
Based upon some interpretations of the rules, the caster may not be able to recover his Fatigue while the precious metal remains in his presence.
As per (viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5543&start=0), it could be that successive applications of Philosophical Summoning just keep summoning the same materials each time. In a world with lots of elementalists, the caster may have to deal with other Elemental Philosophers summoning from her stash as well...
Hm. Neither of those work, though.
By the rules, the fatigue spent is unrecoverable while the summoned thing is in a summoning container, and the summoner has no reason to summon his silver shavings or whatever into a container.
The section on summoning talks about how elementalists seem to be creating things and can even believe that's what they do when in fact they're pulling elemental material out of the environment. Summoning Bears is one thing - they already exist - but summoning elemental material appears to mean 'pulling atoms together in minute quantities from the air and ground and whatever to form the material'.
The problem of infinite wealth is specific to philosophical earth elementalists, for what that's worth. Fire, Water, and Air don't create anything of lasting value, though they're all situationally useful, nor do Medical or Theurgic elementalism or any of the other methods (Controlling, Refining.) It's just Philosophic/Summoning/Earth that I'm having trouble with.
Not in my game.
And I do not think this breaks anything.
I'd allow the infinitely wealthy hedge wizard. I've seen Superman Three. I know what happens when the schmuck suddenly turns up in a ferrari.
You might have a castle made of gold... but then what?
Actually, this does sound like a story seed - espesially for a group of magi dependant upon moneytrade or mining for their income...
This isn't that unlike the effect of using spells to create wealth...
In our game we use the rule that the silver consensus is in place (2lbs of silver per full order member) mainly because it makes for good drama and stories.
Otherwise we would have created a magical salt-pan which produced tonnes of salt every year and broke the salt ecconomy of scotland.
sort of as Ulf said, I think that the main rule for things like this should always be 'whats the story potential of this'