D&D 5E D&D Power Sources ≈ Magic The Gathering Colors

Yaarel

Mind Mage
D&D Power Sources

The D&D Power Sources work well to organize magical themes in the following way.

Note, the arcane power source that can do anything and everything, here divides up by themes.

Note, regarding the divine power source, divination includes fate and bless.

Note, the power sources below represent every D&D trope involving spells and features. These sources are reasonably comprehensive.

Note, the Plane of Ether, being the fifth element, is force, including gravity, and by extension telekinesis, flight, force constructs, and magical energy. Each of the five sources inherently uses the ethereal power source, especially in the sense of "magical energy". Moreover, force allows an Elemental Wizard to treat it as a fifth element to construct Mage Armor, a Divine Cleric to physicalize a symbol, a Psionic phantasm to become a quasi-real illusion, the mind of a Primal feature of nature to project outward and manifest physically, and so on.



Power Source (Approximate Color): Themes
Divine (White): bless, divination and teleportation
• Psionic (Blue): telepathy, enchantment and illusion
Shadow (Black): death, undead and fiend
Elemental (Red): earth-fire and air-water
Primal (Green): nature, healing and shapeshifting
Plus:
Ethereal (Colorless): force and magical energy



D&D Classes

With these five power sources in mind, each of the D&D classes typically combines two sources. Albeit an archetype might expand the base class to involve an additional source.



Power Source: Class
• Divine-Psionic: Mystic
• Divine-Shadow: Necromancer
• Divine-Elemental: Sorcerer
• Divine-Primal: Cleric
• Psionic-Shadow: Warlock
• Psionic-Elemental: Wizard
• Psionic-Primal: Bard
• Shadow-Elemental: Demon?
• Shadow-Primal: Vampire?
• Elemental-Primal: Druid
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Where the fifth element is ether, being magical energy, one can almost say, that the ethereal plane and the "Weave" are the same thing.

Just because ether exists, doesnt mean people know how to utilize it to do magic. Different power sources use different approaches to wield magic.
 


Bardic Dave

Adventurer
Abjuration for blue, surely? C-c-c-counterspell!

Although, abjuration also works for white (protection from evil is very circle of protection-ish).

That aside, I’m not sure I get where you’re coming from or what you’re trying articulate. As someone who’s played a lot of d&d and a lot of mtg, your post doesn’t really resonate with me.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
It feels like if there are going to be as many breaks as there are, that trying to emulate MtG's five colors might not be worth the trouble.

Color Source: Themes
White divine: divination and teleportation
Teleport and Divination are actually blue cards :) Is blink both blue and white? (I guess blue has teleporting others a lot).
If divination is actually seeing the future, is that mostly green and blue?


Blue psionic: enchantment and illusion
Illusion does feel blue as does charming. Are the blue effects more permanent though, while the red ones are temporary?

Black shadow: undead and fiend
Sure.

Red elemental: earth-fire, also air-water
Air water are definitely blue though in MtG. Hydroblast vs. Pyroblast. BEB vs. REB. The air and water elementals are blue.

Green primal: shapeshifting and healing
Is healing primary Green or primary white? (Healing Salve vs. Stream of Life).
Most of the shapeshifters are blue, right (with very few Green)?
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
It feels like if there are going to be as many breaks as there are, that trying to emulate MtG's five colors might not be worth the trouble.


Teleport and Divination are actually blue cards :) Is blink both blue and white? (I guess blue has teleporting others a lot).
If divination is actually seeing the future, is that mostly green and blue?



Illusion does feel blue as does charming. Are the blue effects more permanent though, while the red ones are temporary?


Sure.


Air water are definitely blue though in MtG. Hydroblast vs. Pyroblast. BEB vs. REB. The air and water elementals are blue.


Is healing primary Green or primary white? (Healing Salve vs. Stream of Life).
Most of the shapeshifters are blue, right (with very few Green)?

The original post organizes D&D magic into six sets of themes. This organization mainly derives from an analysis of every spell in D&D. It also considers other magical features. Each thematic is flavorful, and is about equally powerful to the other five thematics, in terms of spell selection and so on.

The class descriptions in the Players Handbook are vague about power source. However a brief sidebar describing the Weave loosely divides the classes into the arcane power source and the divine power source. Now psionics becomes more prominent, and the distinction between power sources more central to thematic concepts. Designers have mentioned by name, arcane, divine, psionic, primal, and "other power sources". More official D&D references to power sources seem to be on their way.

Each of the six thematic sets correspond well to a power source, especially when arcane splits up into its many themes. Probably the "elemental" power source can be renamed "arcane", in the sense of the alchemy-esque protoscientific flavor of the Wizard. But here, the power source is called elemental to disambiguate. Thus, in addition to divine and psionic, there is elemental and shadow, plus primal. The ethereal power source can relate to magical energy itself, thus somewhat resembles the 3e Universal spell school.



The number of power sources and their suggestive themes reminds one of the MTG colors. I am less familiar with MTG, and appreciate those of you who are knowledgeable about it scrutinizing specific examples from MTG. These six "power sources" here are robust presentations of D&D tropes. But their connection to MTG is more exploratory.



Healing is primal, relating to living creatures, and closing a wound is a kind of shapeshifting. Thus the Cleric is largely divine-primal. Likewise both Druid and Bard who are the primary D&D shapeshifters are primal. The main difference between the Druid and the Bard is, the Druid also is competent at elemental magic, while the Bard is also competent at mind-affecting magic (enchantment and illusion) whence psionic-theme magic.
 
Last edited:

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Scryfall.com is one of the best sites to search and see what's out there for MtG.

For classes or races, put it into the search bar as type:druid or type:shapeshifter

If you go to advanced search, and put the mouse in the type box it will let you see the list of all of them. The classes and races are technically subtypes. How they did the spellcasting names is:
1623728363037.png


For parts of names, just enter them in the search line, like

But that would miss that green has a bunch of gain life spells
I'm not sure how a non-MtG player would know to search for that though.

For a color by itself, use color:red
(in advanced search, you can also go more broadly by choosing "Including these colors").

To see the first set (which isn't actually a great representation of the color pie in many ways) see: Limited Edition Alpha (LEA) Card Gallery

For a more modern take see: Mechanical Color Pie 2017

Googling Maro Color Pie will give more articles. Maro also takes questions (and answers some) on Blogatog .

Good luck!
 
Last edited:


Yaarel

Mind Mage
I wonder if the best analogy for the five colors is something like an alternate (not matching the real ones) Wuxing / Five Phases, where they don't really go with elements or power sources and are much broader. Wuxing (Chinese philosophy) - Wikipedia

I'm apparently not the first to wonder about that (although I wasn't thinking of matching them up) - Reddit on trying to match them.

The Daoist Wuxing are ways of moving, "five motions". They correspond closely to the Hellenistic elements, especially the traditions that identify states of matter.

• Fire motion (goes upward) ≈ Fire element (plasma)
• Water motion (goes downward) ≈ Water element (liquid)
• Tree/Air motion (expands outward and encompasses) ≈ Air element (gas)
• Metal/Crystal motion (contracts inward and separates) ≈ Earth element (solid)
• Soil/Space motion (motionless) ≈ Ether element (force)

These equivalences show up in various Daoist systems.

With regard to the six power sources:
• Soil/Space and Ether correlate with ethereal power source
• Fire, Water, Metal/Crystal and Earth correlate with the elemental power source
• Tree/Air and Air also correlate with the elemental source, but have special affinity with the plants of the primal source
 

White - Arcane
Blue - Arcane
Black - Arcane
Red - Arcane
Green - Arcane
It's MAGIC: the gathering after all ;)

On a serious note:
White - Divine (Celestial)/Martial
Blue - Arcane/Psionic
Black - Arcane (Necromancy)/Divine (Fiendish)
Red - Arcane (Evocation)/Martial
Green - Primal
 

Staffan

Legend
I think the best place for insight into Magic color philosophy is probably Ravnica and its guilds. That shows you a how the colors combine in various ways, and I think that tells us more about the colors than looking at them in isolation.

Azorius Senate – White/Blue. The epitome of order and the codification of law, both as a concept in service to order and as a field of study and knowledge.
House Dimir – Blue/Black. An organization of spies that trade in secret knowledge, and which employs psychic magic to literally rip secrets from your head and feed on them.
Cult of Rakdos – Black/Red. A combination of a religion and a circus, founded on the idea that in the face of a decaying world hedonistic pleasure is the only thing that makes sense.
Gruul Clans – Red/Green. A loose collection of clans who wish to see the world restored to its primal state.
Selesnya Conclave – Green/White. Hippies seeking communion with the World Soul, and desiring a world of harmony between their ordered version of nature and all its inhabitants.
Boros Legion – Red/White. Religious zealots seeking to forge a just society and root out corruption and lawlessness.
Orzhov Syndicate – White/Black. An organization combining the traits of the Mafia and a church, where people fall into debt and need to spend their afterlives in service to the syndicate.
Golgari Swarm – Black/Green. The circle of life, or perhaps of death. Life growing from that which is dead and rotting.
Simic Combine – Green/Blue. Biological monstrosities, seeking to combine and alter life forms into strange and wondrous hybrids.
Izzet League – Blue/Red. The lust for experimentation, crafting ever more dangerous tools and forcing elements into new shapes.

If I were to boil these down into a single trait each, they would be:
White: Order
Blue: Knowledge
Black: Death (this is the one that's most iffy)
Red: Passion
Green: Life

So Green + White becomes a cult dedicated to things living in harmony, Green + Black becomes the cycle of life and death, and White + Black becomes a Church using the forces of order to enforce service beyond death.

These things really don't match very well with D&D classes at all. I think Ravnica had the right tack on it, where you had multiple classes in each guild, just seen through that guild's lens.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I think the best place for insight into Magic color philosophy is probably Ravnica and its guilds.
Solid approach, looking at D&D Ravnica to see how designers are thinking about the MTG translation.

White: Order
Blue: Knowledge
Black: Death (this is the one that's most iffy)
Red: Passion
Green: Life
As you note, these themes translate less well into D&D mechanics.

• Death and Life are opposing themes.
• Passion and Knowledge are maybe opposites, maybe feeling-emotion versus thinking-reason?
• Then Order, maybe the Lawful alignment, seems odd.

The themes themselves are inconsistent, making the assignment of D&D mechanics ambiguous.

Still the Ravnica helps to consider.



I look at Strixhaven in a new way too. It is clear that Black is more than undead and fiend. It also includes natural death (Witherbloom) and symbolic death as a literary motif (Silverquill).



White - Divine (Celestial)/Martial
Blue - Arcane/Psionic
Black - Arcane (Necromancy)/Divine (Fiendish)
Red - Arcane (Evocation)/Martial
Green - Primal

This is helpful narrowing down of themes.

It seems that the "MTG Wizard" is unable to cast Fireball. Maybe narrow down the Blue Arcane with parenthetical specifics, for exactly which things Blue can do.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Martial is a seventh power source. I view the Martial power source as participating in every power source. For example.

Martial power source
• Divine (divination and teleportation): Knowledge skills (research and intuition), Perception (senses)
• Psionic (enchantment and illusion): Persuasion, Performance
• Shadow (death, undead and fiend): Combat training
• Elemental (earth-fire and air-water): Crafting tools, Survival (weather and terrain)
• Primal (healing and shapeshifting): Athletics (the power of a natural body), Medicine, Nature

So really the Martial power source is the nonmagical aspect of every magical power source.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I am starting to glance thru Common White cards. No doubt the following lists will be updated.

Much of White flavors as the divine power source (divination, fate, bless, time) plus the ethereal power source (ether, force, fly, light).

White
• +N/+N, Exalted ≈ divine (divination, fate, bless)
• Defend, Block, Protection, Prevent Damage, Life Link ≈ divine (divination, fate), or ethereal (force construct)
• Stasis ≈ divine (time)
• Vigilance ≈ divine (divination)
• First Strike ≈ divine (divination)
• Flavors: Cleric, Mystic, White Wizard, Holy, Honor, Morale, Heroism ≈ divine (divination, fate, bless)

• Spirit ≈ ethereal (ether, fly)
• Flying, Walk ≈ ethereal (force, fly, telekinesis, magical wings, mobility), or martial (natural wings, athletics)
• Destroy ≈ ethereal (force, disintegrate, magical energy)
• Flavor: Light ≈ ethereal (light)

• group tactics, soldier, wolf, noble ≈ martial (group tactics), possibly divine (divination, sense allies, alignment Lawful)


Note
• Gain Life ≈ primal (nature, healing)

"Gain Life" is both White and Green; I prioritize Green.

Most of White "healing" is actually Prevent Damage, which is not the same thing as actual healing. Perhaps White is more about divinating to evade or deflect a fateful lethal hit.
 
Last edited:

On a serious note:
White - Divine (Celestial)/Martial
Blue - Arcane/Psionic
Black - Arcane (Necromancy)/Divine (Fiendish)
Red - Arcane (Evocation)/Martial
Green - Primal

I am in basically complete agreement, but (drawing from the 4E power sources) add I'd overlap Primal with Red and add Shadow to Black (and MAYBE Green). I wonder, would damage types would be the best division? E.G.: acid (Green, Black), bludgeoning (n/a), cold (Blue, White), fire (Red, White?), force (Blue), lightning (Red), necrotic (Black), piercing (n/a), poison (Green), psychic (Blue), radiant (White), slashing n/a), and thunder (Red).
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I wonder, would damage types would be the best division? E.G.: acid (Green, Black), bludgeoning (n/a), cold (Blue, White), fire (Red, White?), force (Blue), lightning (Red), necrotic (Black), piercing (n/a), poison (Green), psychic (Blue), radiant (White), slashing n/a), and thunder (Red).

Damage Types: Power Source

Cold (Blue): elemental (air-water, weather)
Fire (Red): elemental (fire)
Radiant (Red): elemental (fire, plasma, sun), ethereal (light)
Lightning (Red, Blue): elemental (fire, plasma) (air-water, weather)
Thunder (Blue, Red): elemental (air-water, weather) (fire, explosion)
Bludgeon, Slash, Pierce (Colorless): elemental (earth, metal), martial (tool, weapon), primal (shapeshift, horn, claw)
Acid (Red): elemental (fire burn, earth acidic chemicals, water solvent)

Poison (Green): primal (shapeshift, plant, beast), elemental (earth toxic chemicals, water solvent)
Necrotic (Black): shadow (death)

Psychic (Blue): psionic (mind)
Force (Colorless): ethereal (ether, force)
 
Last edited:

Yaarel

Mind Mage
WHITE
• ethereal (ether, spirit, light)
• ethereal (force, fly, magic wings)
• ethereal (force, block)
• ethereal (force, destroy)
• ethereal (ether, change power source)
• divine (divination, fate, bless, prevent damage)
• divine (astral, angel)
• divine (astral, alignment, Lawful)
• primal (heal, gain life)
• martial (group tactics, soldiers)

Like the D&D arcane Wizard, the Blue is all over the place doing anything.

BLUE
• elemental (air-water, weather, cold)
• ethereal (force, telekinesis, fly, magic wings, mobility: ≈ air-water)
• ethereal (force, destroy)
• ethereal (magic energy, dispel, counterspell)
• ethereal (ether, change power source)
• primal (shapechange, beast, aquatic, aerial)
• psionic (mind, telepathy, charm, illusion)
• psionic (mind, soul)
• shadow (undead)
• divine (divination, knowledge, lore)
• divine (divination, fate, "sorcery")
• divine (divination, scry)
• divine (divination, fate, curse)
• divine (teleportation, time)
 
Last edited:

Yaarel

Mind Mage
From an other thread
Dina (Witherbloom): MTG Class: Druid/WizKids Minis Class: Druid
Killian (Silverquill): MTG Class: Warlock/Wizkids Minis Class: Wizard
Quintoruis (Lorehold): MTG class: Cleric/WizKids Minis Class: Artificer
Rootha (Prismari): MTG Class: Shaman/WizKids Minis Class: Bard
Zimone (Quandrix): MTG Class: Wizard/WizKids Minis Class: Wizard

MTG ≈ D&D (WizKids Minis Classes)

Warlock (White-Black) ≈ Wizard
Wizard (Blue-Green) ≈ Wizard
Cleric (White-Red) ≈ Artificer
Shaman (Blue-Red) ≈ Bard
Druid (Black-Green) ≈ Druid



MTG ≈ D&D (Strixhaven Classes)

Relatedly, shared archetypes according to D&D Strixhaven setting:

White-Red (Lorehold) ≈ Bard, Warlock, or Wizard
Blue-Red (Prismari) ≈ Druid, Sorcerer, or Wizard
Blue-Green (Quandrix) ≈ Sorcerer or Wizard
White-Black (Silverquill) ≈ Bard, Warlock, or Wizard
Black-Green (Witherbloom) ≈ Druid or Warlock



It seems the MTG-to-D&D conversion officially eliminates the Cleric class. But this seems unnecessary, because a cosmic force Cleric makes plenty of sense. Magic itself is the sacred cosmic force.

I love the Bard class for any primal Shaman concept, but Bard features lack elemental magic, and would need an archetype. WizKids has it as Bard, but the Strixhaven setting appears to make it Druid.

It is unclear why WizKids would change the Warlock Killian Silverquill (White-Black) into a Wizard, when the Warlock class can use the Silverquill archetype. There is no problem with him being a Warlock.
 

It seems the MTG-to-D&D conversion officially eliminates the Cleric class. But this seems unnecessary, because a cosmic force Cleric makes plenty of sense. Magic itself is the sacred cosmic force.

I love the Bard class for any primal Shaman concept, but Bard features lack elemental magic, and would need an archetype. WizKids has it as Bard, but the Strixhaven setting appears to make it Druid.

It is unclear why WizKids would change the Warlock Killian Silverquill (White-Black) into a Wizard, when the Warlock class can use the Silverquill archetype. There is no problem with him being a Warlock.

Not to repeat myself, but since the other thread has derailed...
I dig official rules on an elementalist Bard. Between Prismari and "privative" settings, there's a lot of room for this archetype. Anyone know if there's a 3PP version out there? Houseruling (at low levels at least) wouldn't be too difficult, either. (Of course, M:tG doesn't really have an "elementalist" class either, as you say, it seems to be Druid. But I would say it overlaps with the M:tG Shaman, as well.

I mean, we're making giant assumptions based on a few early announced mini sets and a playtest document, but right now it almost feels like Strixhaven is steering folks away from "Patron" classes (Cleric, Warlock, etc.)
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Not to repeat myself, but since the other thread has derailed...
I dig official rules on an elementalist Bard. Between Prismari and "privative" settings, there's a lot of room for this archetype. Anyone know if there's a 3PP version out there? Houseruling (at low levels at least) wouldn't be too difficult, either. (Of course, M:tG doesn't really have an "elementalist" class either, as you say, it seems to be Druid. But I would say it overlaps with the M:tG Shaman, as well.
The classes for the WizKids minis seems to differ from the classes for the Strixhaven setting anouncment. For the minis, Prismari is a Bard − and an elemental Bard sounds kinda awesome, and helps actualize the artistic and dramatizing aspect of Prismari. However, for the Strixhaven setting, the Prismari archetype doesnt seem to be available for Bards − probably because the Bard lacks elemental features. I guess, WizKids was an earlier approach thinking broadly, and the setting a more recent approach thinking thru the details of the class features.

Perhaps there can be a compromise, where the Prismari archetype itself guarantees spells known, so that Bard can take it. Also, perhaps it can allow the character to have a favorite elemental damage type (earth-fire fire; or air-water thunder, lightning, or cold), to substitute the damage type of other known spells. Probably, these spells and modifications should only be for one of the four elements, and let the player picks which one.

I love how the Druid and the Bard differ from each other, as both are attuned to natural life, but the Druid plays with elements while the Bard plays with minds. But the concept of an artistic elementalist seems cool, and I am fine with a subclass archetype allowing the Bard to do it.


I mean, we're making giant assumptions based on a few early announced mini sets and a playtest document, but right now it almost feels like Strixhaven is steering folks away from "Patron" classes (Cleric, Warlock, etc.)
Strixhaven setting has Warlocks, and perhaps this was a reconsideration of an earlier assumption to remove them. However both agree there is no Cleric. This too deserves reconsideration. A Cleric whose cosmic force is magic, sounds like an awesome concept, and can make alot of sense for the Mage School feel.
 
Last edited:

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top