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D&D 5E are spells Divine and Arcane anymore?

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So bardic magic is bastardized true magic?


"Bards say that the multiverse was spoken into existence, that the words of the gods gave it shape, and that echoes of these primordial Words of Creation still resound throughout the cosmos. The music of bards is an attempt to snatch and harness those echoes, subtly woven into their spells and powers." - PHB, pg 51



First Post
My GM has the house rule that spell scrolls are written in either arcane or divine format.

Thus, if a scroll of Detect Magic was written in Arcane format, then anyone with levels in Bard, Sorceror, Warlock, Wizard, Ranger, Eldritch Knight, or Arcane Trickster can use that scroll. If a scroll of Detect Magic was written in Divine format, then a Cleric, Druid or Paladin can use that scroll.

My Bard PC took a level in Druid, and can thus use either category of scroll.

When the gods created the world, were they using arcane or divine magic? I think that magic is not *inherently* divided into arcane and divine; those are two of the possible approaches which mortals use to *understand* magic. Mortals also divide foodcrafting into "cooking" and "baking", though the difference isn't inherent to the food nor the oven. Mortals categorize each other as nobles or commoners, they categorize words as prose or poetry...


I like diffrences when they mean something... but once you take away the meaning it just falls apart.

I wouldn't go as far as to say the meaning has been eroded. The divine and arcane nature of magic is still well defined in the flavor of the various classes, even if the mechanical boundaries are less rigidly defined.


Steeliest of the dragons
I made the split between Divine and Nature/Natural magic many many moons ago. So there is actually a triad of magical energies, each a separate source and with a separate mode for accessing.

In my homebrew world, Divine magics are spoken/cast/known through the language of the all-but-dead empire (like how Latin used to be the language of the Catholic Church). Cleric spells are cast in Old Selurian. Clerical scrolls are written in Old Selurian. It is the cleric's (paladin's what have you) connection to the divine and the imbuing of the divine essence in them that produces the magic, "triggered" [for lack of a better term] by the proper "prayer/invocation/spell" spoken in the "sacred" Selurian tongue...not the tongue itself. It has become, at this stage of history, a language used only by the priests, some academics (to access the ancient histories written in it), and very very few ancient noble houses that still bother to learn it. One does not hear conversations in this langauge. It is for ceremony and religious rite...and divine spellcasting.

Nature magic, insofar as PC's are concerned, is cast through the archaic/secret/cryptic Druidic language. This language has no written form and so there are no scrolls of Nature magic spells. It is said that those uninitiated by the Ancient Order [of Mistwood] who hear the druidic tongue are driven mad by its primordial incomprehensible power.

Arcane magic forms the largest slice of the "magic pie chart" and is accessed via the Arkanic tongue...the hodge-podge culled together by wizards throughout the ages that are proven to produce consistent results/effects. Arkanic incorporates, to varying degrees, the ancient remnants of/words from titanic and draconic magic and tongues, some elfin language/spell construction/grammar, "cosmic" sounds and secrets such as the Words of Making & Unmaking, and a host of other syllables that, taken separately, sound like so much gibberish or mumbling...not to mention the individual flare and inflection added on an individual mage-by-mage basis. Arcane spellcasters, by necessity and definition, know and speak and can decipher [to varying extents] the Arkanic "language" enough to produce [and reproduce] the known effects they want.

"Read Magic", as the long established starting spell, does not exist. All arcane casters can read "magic" [arkanic] and thus can prepare and cast Arcane-based spells from books and scrolls...including those that might not be on their allotted spell-school lists. They can not "learn/record/memorize/prepare" those spells (not of their individual spell lists/school types), but they can read the phrases from a scroll. Those that learn Old Selurian as an additional language could, similarly, cast Divine spells from a scroll if they wanted.

Clerics, or anyone else for that matter, who can somehow learn the Arkanic tongue (simply NOT done by wizards and students of the arcane. It is held close to the vest by mages in an "initiated only" kind of way, as the Druids do with their magical tongue) could cast arcane spells from scrolls. An "Acolyte/Cleric-turned-Warlock" or "Thaumaturgist/Exorcist/Ceremonial Magician" kind of character comes to mind. Someone who has not had some formal arcane-casting training is VERY unlikely to be capable of learning it....teaching it to one's self/learning it without instruction, takes many years to get right. There are no "Universal Arkanic to Common dictionaries" floating around.

Protection Scrolls [and, in my homebrew setting, Sending Scrolls], by their nature as tools (or commodities) for the uninitiated, can be used by any class and involve more diagrams/talismans, ritual, and/or some small repeatable phrasing that has been deemed "publicly-safe" to produce its effects.

So...yeah...the Divine/Arcane split is alive and quite well as far as I can tell...the Divine/Nature split, as far as "official/default D&D fluff" is concerned needs a good deal of work.


First Post
So...yeah...the Divine/Arcane split is alive and quite well as far as I can tell...the Divine/Nature split, as far as "official/default D&D fluff" is concerned needs a good deal of work.

Well, it's alive and well in your campaign setting. You have an interesting setup, and IMO, it's right where it belongs: in the description of how that setting works.

The PHB and DMG, IMO, go farther than necessary, in describing the "standard" D&D setting, right down the relative prices of wine and wheat.


The way I rationalize this, is that casting a spell requires you to focus your mind in particular ways that vary per spell. The type of mental focus required for fireball is something that wizards train in, sorcerers just kind of figure out, and warlocks have granted by patrons. The mental focus required for cure wounds is granted by deities or by the forces of nature; clerics, druids, rangers and paladins don't train or figure out that mental focus, it just pops into their brains when they pray.

As dabblers, bards have managed to figure out some of the mental focus required for cure wounds and similar spells, but they don't typically train in fireball. Meanwhile, the gods of Light clerics DO grant the mental focus required for fireball. I would not be surprised at all if we eventually saw sorcerer bloodlines (celestial?) that granted access to cure wounds, or even potentially a wizard school that did so (although for balance reasons such subclass would probably be weak in other ways).

This is why a spell scroll can be used by anyone with the spell on their class list. Both wizards and clerics have the mental focus required for detect magic so they can both use the scroll. If a wizard picks up a scroll of cure wounds he might understand the magical theory behind it but he just can't figure out how to make his brain think in the required way to actually cast it.

Anyway that's my explanation for it.


I'm genuinely curious... Has whether a spell itself was arcane or divine come up in anyone's game? I know whether the -caster- draws from arcane or divine sources matters for some 3E prestige classes and stuff, but has it ever been needed to know if that Light spell was divine or arcane? My group runs mostly homebrew stuff so it's never mattered for us beyond character fluff.

I think the divine/bardic/arcane/psionic/nature fluff difference is still useful and interesting.

In a recent session I described a desecrated worship idol as tainted with "evil, divine magic", on account of the spiritual defilement fluff. I could have said arcane I suppose, or infernal, or other things, but I went with divine. I was going for an "unholy" kinda feel. Perhaps I should have just said unholy!

Anyways point is I like the distinctions, even if they're just fluff, and I continue to use them.

PS - i'm stealing that druidic language to cast druid spells another poster suggested above! Love it!
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