Have the existing Schools of Magic ever been ranked according to relative power level?

Tuzenbach

First Post
For instance, is the "Invocation/Evocation" School of Magic more powerful than, say, "Divination"....?


What about the others? How would you rank them according to either relative power or in-game importance?


Should this question even be considered?



Thanks!!!
 

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While I think a lot of it depends on personal preference, Conjuration is usually considered one of the stronger schools. Evocation is usually considered one of the weakest.
 

Dandu

First Post
Many people are of the opinion that, excluding specif broken spells, the schools go Conjuration/Transmutation, Necromancy, Abjuration, Divination, Illusion, Evocation, Enchantment.

Though it's subjective. After all, knowledge is power, and Divination can be quite powerful, depending on player abilities and DM interpretation.
 

Tuzenbach

First Post
Many people are of the opinion that, excluding specif broken spells, the schools go Conjuration/Transmutation, Necromancy, Abjuration, Divination, Illusion, Evocation, Enchantment.

Though it's subjective. After all, knowledge is power, and Divination can be quite powerful, depending on player abilities and DM interpretation.



So, are Conjuration and Transmutation considered to be equally powerful, then? Thanks!!!
 


For instance, is the "Invocation/Evocation" School of Magic more powerful than, say, "Divination"....?


What about the others? How would you rank them according to either relative power or in-game importance?


Should this question even be considered?



Thanks!!!

In which edition? - Evocation in 2e is vastly more effective than in 3e.

Also Enchantment almost loses to Illusion by covering argument - but both schools can be almost neutralised by the Mind Blank spell in 3.x
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
What about the others? How would you rank them according to either relative power or in-game importance?

There is no possible way to answer this. It depends on the player. The DM. The campaign world. Play style. Edition...and, most importantly, pure personal preference.

Should this question even be considered?

It can be considered. It just can not ever be answered in anything but a subjective way. If you enjoy madness-inducing pursuits, consider away. :)
 





Orius

Hero
I think it's in part edition specific. Abjuration got spruced up in 5e for example.

This. Evocation is strong in 2e because while some spells start getting capped, monsters don't have huge hp totals, so you can do some decent damage with it. By the end of 3.5, it's fallen out of favor because of damage caps and because save or die is much stronger, and those effects are in different schools. Also, remember 2e had specific opposition schools, so that affects things as well. 2e also has spells in multiple schools, and the definitions are a little looser than in later editions. And spells have shifted among schools from 2e to 3.0e to 3.5e to 5e (and at this point my head's spinning from trying to keep track of the changes). Frex, teleportation was generally Alteration in 2e, but shifted to Conjuration in 3.5. And spells were added, dropped, or dropped and re-added as well. Spells from outside core can also shift things around.

1e predates the modern setup, since mainly you just have the standard MU and illusionist. The schools originate here, but it's 2e that really introduces the idea of specialists.

I'd rank them like this in 2e:

  • Alteration (i.e. Transmutation from 3e onward). It's got a huge list, even in core, and outside core it just gets bigger. Just look at the school lists in the last volume of the Wizard's Spell Compendium. Because 2e's school definitions were kind of weak, this school kind of became a catch-all category for spells and there's all kinds of stuff here. And all you have to do to specialize is give up Abjuration and Necromancy and have a 15 Dex as a human or half-elf.
  • Evocation. Blasting spells are still pretty good in 2e. Only humans can specialize, and they need a 16 Con and give up Enchantment and Conjuration. Still leaves some decent choices.
  • Conjuration. Not as developed as it gets later, and summoning spells don't show up until level three. Need a human or half-elf with 15 Con to specialize, and you sacrifice Divination and Evocation. But it has enough decent combat spells to make up for the loss of Evocation.
  • Enchanter. Save or suck has always been pretty good in D&D, and 2e isn't really an exception. If you don't want to blast the hell out of everything, Enchantment is a good option. Any race that can go mage can take Enchanter with a 16 Cha, and only give up Evocation and Necromancy which still leaves a lot of very good spells.
  • Illusion. Probably the hardest to rank. I think 2e's designers saw Illusion as a power school because of 1e's illusionist, but illusions were subject to DM interpretation as well, so the power of the spells really depended on how much the DM was willing to let the player get away with. Specialization also requires the player to give up Abjuration, Evocation, and Necromancy, more schools than any other specialist, elf blood need not apply, but it's the only wizard option for gnomes, and you need a 16 Dex.
  • Abjuration. Defensive spells are always good, but 2e wasn't really on the ball here. Some spells that later ended up in Abjuration like (mage) armor or stoneskin aren't on Abjuration's list yet. The school is better at higher levels, starting with dispel magic of course. Specializing is human only, 15 Wis and Alteration and Illusion as opposition, so it's really not great for specializing.
  • Necromancy. Necromancy is kind of weak in core until you get the insta-kills and that's not until level 12. Even then, it's still pretty niche. Outside core, there's a number of spells that pump the school. Another human only school, requiring 16 Wis, and you give up Illusion and Enchantment.
  • Divination. Divination is another small niche school, and there's not a lot of power spells here, but it's still a good school. Like Enchanter, it's got the broadest race selection and requires 16 Wis. Also has the smallest sacrifice of all the specialists since it only opposes Conjuration. It's an okay choice for specialization.

3.0 went a long way toward balancing the schools. The player got to choose oppositions for the first time, and powerful schools required bigger opposition sacrifices. The designers seemed to rank the schools in these tiers:

Conjuration, Evocation, Transmutation
Abjuration, Enchantment, Illusion
Divination, Necromancy.

It could be argued that Evocation is only 2nd tier because of damage caps, though it still tends to be the combat mage school, and has the strongest damage options.

3.5 mixes things up even more. Gaining teleportation is what bumps Conjuration up to the top, and Transmutation is still high because of the buffs. Because save or die becomes the strategy at high levels, Necromancy becomes more important. Evocation falls quite a bit. Dandu's rankings are probably about right.

Not familiar enough with 5e to rank, but I decided to dump the starter set's Evoker for an Abjurer. I know the blaster mage isn't what it was in its glory days in AD&D, so I wanted something else. Conjurer, Transmuter and Abjurer seemed like the best options, and I went with Abjurer for its defensive abilities to mitigate squishiness.
 

I think with all editions, that the power of illusion magic depends greatly on the sort of DM you have, and the creativity of the player. Some DM's have no grasp of how to make decent rulings regarding illusions, thus undermining the school entirely.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Yup, illusion is totally a wild card - dependent on caster creativity and DM's "tolerance".

In 2e, Alteration was too good a school to pass up because of the utility, so it made abjuration as a specialty a terrible choice. Necromancy was interesting because all the oposition school were the "subtle" stuff. In our last 2nd ed campaign, our mage was a necromancer and he tossed a lot of fireballs around.

In 5e since abjurers have better defenses *and* don't have to give up utility spells, they are suddenly excellent choices.
 

Joshua Randall

Adventurer
3.5 Conjuration got a huge buff in the form of the Orb spells (from various splatbooks) -- direct damage in the Conjuration school. Oh, and it bypasses spell resistance.

I'd put 3.5 Conjuration in the top tier, for that reason.
 

3.5 Conjuration got a huge buff in the form of the Orb spells (from various splatbooks) -- direct damage in the Conjuration school. Oh, and it bypasses spell resistance.

I'd put 3.5 Conjuration in the top tier, for that reason.

Alternatively (additionally?), the Orb spells completely nerfed Evocation. Why would anyone ever Evoke a magic fireball when they can simply Conjure real fire? I really hate those spells.

I always put 3.x Conjuration near the top because it covers Teleport and most travel spells, which I consider the be the most fundamentally important utility spells.
 

Orius

Hero
Given the various edition shifts, I'd probably rank them like this:

Abjuration: Stronger in more recent editions, but in general you don't want to lose dispelling, banishment, and other various defenses.
Conjuration: Always a good school, gets stronger past 3.0 when it takes teleportation from Transmutation.
Divination: Not a powerful school, but has detections, scrying, true seeing, legend lore, etc, so you usually don't want to give it up.
Enchantment: Medium power. Spells like sleep, charms, domination, and so on are always useful, but this is a school that can be dropped without losing too much of importance.
Evocation: Strong in AD&D (particularly in 1e where magic missiles and fireballs and the like don't cap), but weak in 3.x and possibly later, where it's worth sacrificing.
Illusion: Depends heavily on DM adjudication, though 3e and later has stronger guidelines. As a result it can fluctuate between stong and weak. Illusionist has more unique and exclusive spells in 1e, and it's the only arcane caster option for gnomes in AD&D. Also a school that can be sacrificed without losing much.
Necromancy: Somewhat weak on the low levels, it's stronger later when the caster gains death spell/circle of death, finger of death, and wail of the banshee. Arguably, animate dead can be powerful too, but that depends on how much the DM wants the PC to roam around with a bunch of expendable zombie slaves. Not strong on direct damage though. It can be worth sacrificing, but a well-built necromancer has potential.
Transmutation: Later editions reigned it in from the ridiculous number of spells it had in 2e, but it still remains a powerful and versatile school, even after losing teleports to Conjuration. Don't sacrifice it.

Specialist picks:

2e: Go with an Enchanter, Necromancer, or Diviner if you want that extra spell. While Enchanter loses the big combat spells of Evocation, there's still stuff from Conjuration to attack with. You also sacrifice the instakills of Necromancy, but you've still got Illusions' phantasmal killer and weird to fall back on. Necromancer is good if you don't want to bother with illusions and enchantments. Talk your DM into letting you (ab)use the Complete Book of Necromancers. :devil: (even if he says no, the book does have a pretty comprehensive list of the spells you can cast from several 2e sources). Diviner is better than it looks, since you're only dropping Conjuration and it's not as good as it will be post-AD&D. No matter what you pick, see if you can talk your DM into letting you use the optional abilities from Spells & Magic. Past core, elementalists, wild mages and some of the Player's Option specialties offer interesting choices.

3e: You get to choose oppositions. Avoid dropping Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, or Transmutation; they have some important spells you don't want to lose.

5e: Haven't really played it enough, but Abjurer has some good defenses, and Conjurer and Transmuter look like they're pretty good too. Evoker really depends on how good the typical damage spells are in the game. Enchanter seems to have it's abilities based on Charisma, so it's a MAD wizard and I'd avoid it.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
The power loss of evocation has been over several editions, and has gotten rather stark in 5e.

I was looking at ogres the other day. In 2e a fireball had a pretty good chance of killing an ogre. In 5e you will need *three* fireballs *if* the ogres fails all saves! In other words, if the party is being charged by 4 ogres, in 2e fireballing them is going to make a huge difference. In 5e... it's mostly going to make them angry, there are far better spells you could cast on them to help your party win.
 


Tuzenbach

First Post
The power loss of evocation has been over several editions, and has gotten rather stark in 5e.

I was looking at ogres the other day. In 2e a fireball had a pretty good chance of killing an ogre. In 5e you will need *three* fireballs *if* the ogres fails all saves! In other words, if the party is being charged by 4 ogres, in 2e fireballing them is going to make a huge difference. In 5e... it's mostly going to make them angry, there are far better spells you could cast on them to help your party win.


They nerfed it that much? See, this is when rules need to be ignored.
 

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