D&D 4E Inquiry: How do 4E fans feel about 4E Essentials?

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
So, it SEEMS like the things that WotC really was telling a story about was the more 'advanced' stuff like a VTT (maybe 3D etc, nobody knows for sure) etc. Anyway, I never either believed the "crazy guy tragedy" story, nor really thought WotC earned much blame here. They imagined something well beyond that capabilities, but you get noplace if you don't dream, and what WAS provided was pretty good quality.
I agree its wasnt about Character Builder / Monster Builder
 

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When I was trying to build a Swordmage I noticed that I couldnt get shields (Abjurer) and attacks with Intelligence in melee(artificer), Swordbond (EK) etc etc without a ton of multiclass shenanigans and never did find away to teleport most of the time..
There are a number of ways to get a lot of teleports; the three that come to mind are the Monk of Shadow, the Echo Knight, and the Soulknife subclasses. But no you can't directly translate the Swordmage just as you can't really translate most of those backwards to 4e and have them do the same thing. Or a whole heap of things from 3.5 to 4e.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
There are a number of ways to get a lot of teleports; the three that come to mind are the Monk of Shadow, the Echo Knight, and the Soulknife subclasses.
I think 2 of those didnt exist when I was looking.

Monk of Shadows?
"At 6th level, you gain the ability to step from one shadow into another. When you are in dim light or darkness, as a bonus action you can teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space you can see that is also in dim light or darkness. You then have advantage on the first melee attack you make before the end of the turn."

I suppose in some games (lots of dungeon delving) that is all the time, thematically quite different
 


I think 2 of those didnt exist when I was looking.
Probably not. And comparing a fully featured edition to just the PHB and objecting that things didn't transfer was also an unfair criticism being made in 2009 of 4e. (And yes, 5e has been slow at producing things).
yeh sorcerers dont have the name magic of "wizard"
I'd say rather fluff, prime stat as intelligence rather than charisma, and some of the spells. It's not a high priority that the game absolutely needed but there is a difference between the spellbook wizard who chose to focus their learning on burning things well in combat but can cast things like invisibility and flight and the elemental pyromancer who almost is a conduit to the Plane of Fire. Both are legitimate character concepts and you can reskin either to the other but they are not the same.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Probably not. And comparing a fully featured edition to just the PHB and objecting that things didn't transfer was also an unfair criticism being made in 2009 of 4e. (And yes, 5e has been slow at producing things).
Right neither were out till 2020.... and I was looking in 2019. Very slow. (how many years into the game was that?)

I was looking at 5 years of development. So there is your tu quoque.

There are a number of But no you can't directly translate the Swordmage just as you can't really translate most of those backwards to 4e and have them do the same thing. Or a whole heap of things from 3.5 to 4e.
I feel they made the obvious translation rather poor, Eldritch Knight p-poor Swordmage (can't defend others with magic at all or teleport regularly) and Battlemaster similar issues to Warlord.

I'd say rather fluff, prime stat as intelligence rather than charisma
Einstein was a creative genius (and actually pretty charismatic in the classic sense too dodging certain questions poetically), he went to others when he wanted a mathematician to help create proofs to back his creative inspiration.
you can reskin either to the other but they are not the same.
I would say 4e actively didnt at first want my wizard can do EVERYTHING to be a thing till Mearles took over so yes the developers wanted Arcane Striker to be farmed out into Sorcerers and Warlocks, I very much think on purpose.

I can spend a couple feats and the right background to transform a 4e ranger into a fighter for every intent and purpose its basically a flavor difference too. (not good enough for people who wanted the name of their chain or scale using striker to be "fighter")

Just like I think my two favorite classes the Swordmages and Warlords were either impossible or a pain to build in a satisfying way in 5e and its very much seemed to be on purpose. (I know its paranoia insert smiley here). The latter because of course "Warlords cannot shout arms back on!"

Pretending roles arent real seemed to be a big thing at first for 5e... it took til November 2017 before they even had a defender able to attack anyone rushing past at level 18.
 
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I feel they made the obvious translation rather poor, Eldritch Knight p-poor Swordmage and Battlemaster similar issues to Warlord.
Eldritch Knight wasn't really meant to be a swordmage. It was meant to be an AD&D Fighter/Magic User and a 3.X core Fighter/Wizard/Eldrich Knight (which was a patch in 3.X to make the AD&D Fighter/Magic User work). The swordmage was a far more specific class than that. And frankly the 5e Eldritch Knight was a better Eldritch Knight than the 3.X one (not a high bar).
And that may include the Defender Fighter . (And yes they eventually offered up the cavalier but its still rather easy for enemies to rush past him in quantity till maybe 18th level),
You're looking in the wrong place there. The 5e fighter gets extra feats for a reason - and the Sentinel feat makes up most of the 4e fighter's basic package; the ability to punish shifts (or disengages), the ability to punish people who attack people other than you, and the ability to flatten speeds to zero. It's a legit defender package, and you get a fighting style and subclass on top of that. It's a late start - but not that late given that 4e level 1 is about 5e level 3 and you can get this at 4th level.

Is it ever going to be as fun tactically? No. 5e is not that sort of game. But in this case it's not the defender that 5e is missing but the hordebreaker. On the other hand with multiple attacks per turn by default the 5e fighter is better at hordebreaking than a fighter that hasn't focused on hordebreaking.
and it was an active design choice that they didnt want someone to be able to thrash minions the way a fighter with rain of steel and other abilities can)
It was an active design choice that they didn't want minion rules in the game, just "bounded accuracy". One of the many many choices I disagree with.
Einstein was a creative genius (and actually pretty charismatic too dodging certain questions poetically)
So what? Just because some people have Int and Cha doesn't mean that some don't want one and some the other.
I would say 4e actively didnt at first want my wizard can do EVERYTHING to be a thing till Mearles took over so yes the developers wanted Arcane Striker to be farmed out into Sorcerers and Warlocks, I very much think on purpose.
The thing is that power selection means that you can't have a Wizard who can do EVERYTHING. You don't have the monster spellbooks. You can just make different wizard builds to do different things. And they didn't know what a controller was at first, just that they needed one and the wizard started too weak (although I agree it ended too strong).

Honestly if someone works out a striker wizard build that isn't a controller I don't care. I only really start caring if they can be a striker while keeping most of the control.
Just like I think my two favorite classes the Swordmages and Warlords were either impossible or a pain to build in a satisfying way in 5e and its very much seemed to be on purpose.
The warlord I think was on purpose. The Swordmage I don't see any malice in; it wasn't a PHB class and they had more than enough to do getting the PHB classes in there. Especially when multiple classes I'd consider far closer thematically to their 4e incarnations than to other editions (most notably the warlock, paladin, sorcerer, barbarian, rogue, and probably monk)
 



TBH I just eyeballed the list and marked it "yes" if that class was "Essentialized" in a manner similar to the Heroes of the The Words-That-Start-With-F books.
It IS somewhat ambiguous. I mean, is Vampire an 'Essentials' class? I would say 'no', but other people claim it is (my argument is that a careful reading shows that it is a standard design class, with AEDU slots, just that many levels have only one or two power choices, technically you could take MC feats and swap them out, no special rules needed, or write additional powers, this is unlike HIGHLY essentialized classes like Slayer, but also unlike the more mildly essentialized ones like Warpriest. Then there is the Mage, OBVIOUSLY an Essentials class, as it shows up in HotFK, but ALSO clearly a pure PHB1 style AEDU class, just slightly different from the basic Wizard builds presented there.

Then you have stuff that shows up in some of the later books like Skald and Berserker. They vary from PHB1 class AEDU to varying degrees, but don't quite fit any Essentials pattern either (and the Witch is pure AEDU). You also have Elementalist, which seems quite essentialist in its design, but technically it is neither classic, nor Essentials.
 

I could say the same about an "orb wizard" - except that transmutation, the changing of one thing into another, which reflects both alchemy and shapeshifting, is actually more strongly based than the symbolism round the orb. And this only makes the point that the worst of the old school schools is about as thematic as the best of the implement wizards.

So you picked one of the eight schools and you picked the worst one - and even to you that's about a match for one of 4e's basic three implements. But if you don't find the transmuter thematic of anything then why in the name of the little black pig did you pick it? This reminds me of the people who had decided that 4e was stupid before they played it and picked the most stupid options they could to "prove" their preconceptions.

And I do mean you picked out the single worst school in 5e. If we look at the RPGBot breakdown of wizard subclasses they're rated on a red, orange, green, blue scale. Literally the only red rated wizard subclass in 5e is the transmuter - and the only orange rated one is the school of graviturgy from a Critical Role book.

If he wanted to be a wizard who had a penchant for getting into the thick of things he could have chosen to be either a Bladesinger or a War Wizard. Or, if you were restricted to the PHB, he could have been an Abjurer who as their second level feature gains some temporary hit points every time they cast an abjuration spell. Now that's both more thematic than anything either the transmuter or the staff wizard gets and would have been a better fit for your character.

The idea that the schools are no more mechanically significant than the implements simply isn't true - it's just that Transmutation in specific is the worst school; I've mentioned the abjurer. Some highlights:
  • The Diviner at level 2 gets to roll two dice at the start of a session and swap any dice rolled in the session with those
  • The Enchanter gets a hypnotic gaze at L2 and the ability to redirect attacks at L6
  • The Necromancer gets to raise better undead with Animate Dead at L6 and gets to heal when they kill things at level 2.
  • The Illusionist gets to make their illusions part real at level 14
  • The Evoker gets to protect their allies by sculpting their evocations at L2 and does more damage with them at L10.
All of these are meaningful mechanical differences that underline the character concepts and are both more interesting mechanically and thematically than the orb/staff/wand of 4e. Yes, the transmuter was a bit of a turkey.

Because there's very little thematic resonance to the implements. So they couldn't really be fixed - but being able to be a Pyromancer Evoker was fun and thematic in a way that the orb wizard never was. You could play the striker burninator wizard.

The genuinely bad thing about the mage and why I avoided them was that they didn't come with Ritual Caster.

False. In both 4e and and 5e any wizard can cast any spell from the wizard list if they know it and mage spells were wizard spells and wizard spells were mage spells. If you wanted to be a staff wizard with a rack of necromancy spells you could. It wasn't weird that the school specialism was grafted on to the school specialist version of the wizard.

And honestly the necromancer specialism in 4e was pretty bad. At level 1 you gained two temps for hitting foes with necromancy (the 5e version where you regain hit points for killing (2* spell level or 3* spell level if a necromancy spell) is IMO more evocative). At level 5 you gained +2 to two skills. And at level 10 you got to ignore necrotic resistance. You could play a perfectly good necromancer with none of that.

And all the necromancy spells in that book work with non-Essentials wizards as well. Where's the problem?
Gosh, and here I thought that a dwarf transmuter would be thematic! lol. I think basically that choices should matter. I will say this for 5e, they are better at that in many cases than 4e is, and I'm not going to bash 5e for that. I just never thought that TSRs schools were all that clever, even back in the AD&D days I always was rather befuddled by the triviality of it all. Go back and read the classic "Master of Five Magics" NOW THERE is some thematic wizards!
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Eldritch Knight wasn't really meant to be a swordmage. It was meant to be an AD&D Fighter/Magic User and a 3.X core Fighter/Wizard/Eldrich Knight (which was a patch in 3.X to make the AD&D Fighter/Magic User work). The swordmage was a far more specific class than that. And frankly the 5e Eldritch Knight was a better Eldritch Knight than the 3.X one (not a high bar).
Unless that swordbond was common previously it looks like it was a shell game or faux swordmage especially with swordmage powers as spells available.
You're looking in the wrong place there. The 5e fighter gets extra feats for a reason - and the Sentinel feat makes up most of the 4e fighter's basic package; the ability to punish shifts (or disengages), the ability to punish people who attack people other than you, and the ability to flatten speeds to zero. It's a legit defender package, and you get a fighting style and subclass on top of that.
No marking penalty to enemies though? No way to really influence enemies to attack you instead of squishy allies, sentinel is only part of the package, ie no way to taunt/influence them to attack you in your buff armor or play a ruse to get them to rush you? Heck even abilities to taunt a flier into your reach would be nice.
I mean find a doorway so you can be the door stop is not anti-tactical its just bloody limited... and if even 2 enemies try they can run around you easily

It's a late start - but not that late given that 4e level 1 is about 5e level 3 and you can get this at 4th level.
I give 5e more delay than that level 1 4e feels closer to level 5. At that point my assertion the fighter is more like the ranger with two attacks The 4e ranger could take feats to become more controller/defender (like
1 5e feat is like 2 of 4e)... so its "kind of like" the ranger was given hobbling strike (induce slowing on a hit instead of extra striker damage) and world serpents grasp (prone slowed enemies)

Is it ever going to be as fun tactically? No.
lacks signature supporting powers that make it work better come and get it being my favorite.
5e is not that sort of game. But in this case it's not the defender that 5e is missing but the hordebreaker.
Definitely a feature I miss, and sure it wasn't identified as a role but it was martially supported in 4e and seems only on casters in 5e with large area effects. I think I recall that being one of the things they said you could do was fight the multi-tudes using that vaunted bounded accuracy (I think poodiddle on how that turned out)

That one opportunity effect even makes a polearm using RK have limited.

It was supported by system wide elements like opportunity attacks per turn, making choice of movement much more significant ie tactical (I suppose that is part of hordebreaking too)

On the other hand with multiple attacks per turn by default the 5e fighter is better at hordebreaking than a fighter that hasn't focused on hordebreaking.
Its a ranger more than the fighter. System features helped the horde breaking. Slowing an enemy because you took hobbling strike feat even gave the ranger a touch of defender.

It was an active design choice that they didn't want minion rules in the game, just "bounded accuracy". One of the many many choices I disagree with.

So what? Just because some people have Int and Cha doesn't mean that some don't want one and some the other.
There were tests my son took at age 5 they identified 3 types of intelligence. One was Creative Intelligence, Another was Pragmatic Intelligence and the other was something like Rote Intelligence. I do not remember the names exactly but they correlated with Cha/Wis/Int the way I see them.

I was saying somebody many consider the most Extreme in intelligence is actually better described as creative intelligence (the kind it takes to do theoretical physics on cosmic scale), but most think Intelligence is the hide bound analytic rote kind.

I find it rather ironic in the Alanis Morrissett style, not making any assertion over it. In 4e a Wizard with both high has 2 good defenses anyway :)

The thing is that power selection means that you can't have a Wizard who can do EVERYTHING. You don't have the monster spellbooks.
Rituals gave me hundreds more than I can have in 5e but yes in battle context you largely fight one way.
You can just make different wizard builds to do different things. And they didn't know what a controller was at first, just that they needed one and the wizard started too weak (although I agree it ended too strong).
every encounter power got a damage on a miss hurray. And all those control powers are now boosted by strong class features. (thematic or not - I agree with you I think they are more thematic).
Honestly if someone works out a striker wizard build that isn't a controller I don't care.
They were trying to class isolate instead of build isolate core role
its really a feature for newbies.
I only really start caring if they can be a striker while keeping most of the control.
Sure but if its easy to do a swap over without swapping tis going to be through a class feature and if the wizards powers were already powerful (their dailies were), giving stronger class features is tada a over powered boost waiting to happen.
The warlord I think was on purpose. The Swordmage I don't see any malice in;
Maybe not it was my sense of humor playing like I was persecuted.
 
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The thing is that power selection means that you can't have a Wizard who can do EVERYTHING. You don't have the monster spellbooks. You can just make different wizard builds to do different things. And they didn't know what a controller was at first, just that they needed one and the wizard started too weak (although I agree it ended too strong).

Honestly if someone works out a striker wizard build that isn't a controller I don't care. I only really start caring if they can be a striker while keeping most of the control.
Ehhhhhh, 5e is a bit hard to gauge because of its ritual rule, and the fact that you can juggle slots around and upslot stuff, but I once built a 4e 'Utility Wizard'. It was a tome wizard with expanded spellbook and the wizards apprentice theme. I just larded on as many rituals as I could buy, as well as items that would give me more choices of stuff to cast, grabbed alchemy and made lots of different ingredients and alchemical stuff, etc.

It was actually kind of sick. My character would end up with 100's of options by high heroic levels. I mean, just stupid amounts of stuff. EVERY single time we'd run into some situation he'd be like "Oh, wait a sec, I think I have a thing for that..." and actually it started to drive the other players a bit nuts. It was like being an AD&D high level wizard all over again, but even at 1st level the effect was pretty darn good!

To be honest, he was arguably just about optimal too. While I didn't have one specific killer combat shtick, I was able to pull out something pretty effective most of the time, and had more than the usual share of good stuff I could unleash. And with a bit of planning? hah! The GM in that game soon learned not to give any hints of what was to come!
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
My first time starting a thread...be gentle. ;)

I am currently active in the Survivor: D&D Edition thread on the forum and have observed that while there are plenty of participants in said thread who like 4E I have yet to see a single upvote for 4E Essentials. I never played either version of 4E, have only a cursory knowledge of 4E and know nothing about Essentials.

So, 4E devotees, what were the changes made in Essentials that you dislike?

If there are any fans of Essentials actually out there, what were the changes that you DID like?

NOTE: I am genuinely curious about this topic and have ZERO interest in starting any kind of intra edition flame war, so please lets try to keep things civil.
I skipped all the posts in between sorry if this is a repeat of things others have said.

I started 4e with the original release. By the time Essentials rolled around, I had no interest in buying a "new" or "watered down" set of rules. Why should I after all - I had a rules set that I knew and liked well enough. So I've never read it, but I've also never really understood the need for it. Just like the D&D Player's Strategy Guide - felt like a money grab, and not something I was interested in.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Implements of Tarot.
Thematics of the 4e implements.

1)Sword or Dagger aka Athame (spades)
2) Stave and Rod (clubs)
3) Crystal Ball aka Orb (diamonds)
and one we didnt have but are suited for alchemy
4) Cup and Cauldron (hearts)
 
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Undrave

Hero
I think the Abjuration school is nonsense. It's not a in-universe classification, it's a META classification. It's not like Illusion, or Transmutation, that reflects a specific way it impacts the world... it reflects the way you USE that impact. Shield, for exemple, should be evocation, since it's summon a wall of energy to protect you, but that energy could just as easily have been put to use offensively.

I still think it was a mistake to make a specific subclass for the eight school instead of having a generic School Specialist subclass with options in it. It would have create a different outlook on the Wizard so that subclasses weren't just about 'I mostly pick those spells" but could have been more about your philosophical view on magic, the way you interact with your study subject, the purposes you seek to fullfill by researching magic, that sort of thing.

I think they didn't really quite do as much with implements as they could have. It turned out to be a pretty minor feature, and frankly the outright superiority of attack bonuses over all else meant that Wand was pretty much the optimum choice, though the lockdown aspect of orb did mean there was a fair argument for it. Staff proved to be a boondoggle, as it sucked you into a kind of AoE oriented front-line build concept that never got any real support and went against the whole idea of being a controller too much. Likewise when Summoner was introduced they never really got bold enough with Wizard summons to make them a viable alternative to the orbizard. Tome likewise didn't really offer all that much, the bigger spell book feature really isn't that much of a benefit. Frankly in all the years I ran 4e wizards are only swapped my spell selection a handful of times, you pretty much BUILT AROUND specific tactics and thus specific powers, swapping them out was unlikely to be a good idea!

Yeah I don't think they really pushed them well enough, but I kind of always liked the idea, in 4e, of subclass pushing you to a different secondary stat and I liked the idea of the implement being used to reflect that and having riders on powers similar to what Martial types would get for their weapons. The Staff would obviously prefer CON, the Wand DEX for accuracy and the Orb be CHA to impose your will! That sort of thing. The Tome could go with WIS to show you have a flexible mind.

There was something there to dig into.

Overall, I think the wizard wasn't actually WotC's great success with 4e. The thematics are way too broad, so it swallowed other classes, like Sorcerer and Invoker, and the pushing control into the powers was always a bit problematic. That was before MM became a "wizards must be gods" guy and invented the Mage...

That's for sure, the Wizard is the weakest of the PHB1 class in many ways. And I think they really should have come with something to define the Controller role, the same way Strikers have damage bonus, Defenders can mark and Leaders have 2 bonus action heal per encounter. Not sure what it could have been, specifically... maybe a way to, once or twice per encounter, spread a condition? Or get to use the same At-Will twice in a single round without using your Action Point? Just random spitballing here.
 

S'mon

Legend
It was an active design choice that they didn't want minion rules in the game, just "bounded accuracy". One of the many many choices I disagree with.

5e is going for a world-sim approach: orcs are orcs, these are orc stats. Players know what baseline orc stats are, and can plan accordingly. It's good for combat-as-war and other aspects of living-world sandbox play. This approach wouldn't work with minion stats.

Of course the actual campaign hardbacks WoTC published would nearly all work fine with minion stats.
 

Aldarc

Legend
If your goal is accessibility for new players then although the whole "There are eight schools of magic and these are in opposition and you can't cast from opposed schools" thing is silly (and not coincidentally dumped by 5e) most of the schools themselves are good.
No. The bottom line is that if your goal is accessibility for new players, then there are a lot easier ways of doing that than anything that D&D has ever done with its magic systems. Rarely, if ever, have I seen a player come into D&D with a mind on playing a sort of wizard that leans into a particular school with a few exceptions: i.e., Illusionist and Necromancer. But these are two magical traditions that have strong themes and aesthetics.

Most new players, IME, approach magic more thematically. For example, they want to play an elementalist, or a fire mage, or a dark magic, etc. Having seen it in action, more thematic grouping of spells would (as in Shadows of the Demon Lord or Fantasy AGE), IME, have been far more new player friendly than D&D's eight schools, which often have spells that are seemingly inconsistently applied (e.g., healing: is it conjuration, evocation, abjuration, or necromancy?).
 

No. The bottom line is that if your goal is accessibility for new players, then there are a lot easier ways of doing that than anything that D&D has ever done with its magic systems. Rarely, if ever, have I seen a player come into D&D with a mind on playing a sort of wizard that leans into a particular school with a few exceptions: i.e., Illusionist and Necromancer. But these are two magical traditions that have strong themes and aesthetics.

Most new players, IME, approach magic more thematically. For example, they want to play an elementalist, or a fire mage, or a dark magic, etc.
I'd say that of the eight schools diviners, enchanters, evokers, illusionists, and necromancers all have strong themes and aesthetics in almost exactly the way you talk about. and abjuration is reasonably thematic just not a strong archetype. This leaves conjuration (why again is teleportation conjuration?) and transmutation. Even in these two cases the problem is that you've basically got two thematic archetypes mixed up in the school. Transmuters are mixing organic and inorganic transformations for example and it causes a mess; if you turned half the transmuter into the biomancer it would be fine. And conjuration's not that different; both of them are very grab-baggy.

But when I say most 5.5/8 (with abjuration being the 0.5) to me qualifies as most - although I'm firmly of the opinion that the Nethermancer should be added back from 4e sharing the school of necromancy. And like I said the Biomancer is strongly thematic and covers much of the ground a transmuter does.
Having seen it in action, more thematic grouping of spells would (as in Shadows of the Demon Lord or Fantasy AGE), IME, have been far more new player friendly than D&D's eight schools, which often have spells that are seemingly inconsistently applied (e.g., healing: is it conjuration, evocation, abjuration, or necromancy?).
Who cares what healing is? I mean it's not as if it's something wizards can do and no one else bothers with the schools.

More to the point all your "more thematic grouping of spells" is is a slightly more polished version of the D&D schools of magic; all eight of them are meant to be thematic groupings of spells and some spells (like teleport) really are "none of the above"and might belong to e.g. a travel school. Having eight and only eight is a problem - as was the nonsense about "opposition schools" that infested earlier editions. But the idea behind schools is precisely thematic groupings of spells, and most of them work.

Also I'm firmly of the opinion some spells should be of multiple schools, allowing them to trigger the specialisms. Currently Invisibility is under Transmutation - which I can just about understand. But if it is there should also be a version that's Illusion.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I'd say that of the eight schools diviners, enchanters, evokers, illusionists, and necromancers all have strong themes and aesthetics in almost exactly the way you talk about. and abjuration is reasonably thematic just not a strong archetype. This leaves conjuration (why again is teleportation conjuration?) and transmutation. Even in these two cases the problem is that you've basically got two thematic archetypes mixed up in the school. Transmuters are mixing organic and inorganic transformations for example and it causes a mess; if you turned half the transmuter into the biomancer it would be fine. And conjuration's not that different; both of them are very grab-baggy.
I don't exactly agree - as I don't think, for example, that Evokers have strong themes and aesthetics - but I doubt that further argument will persuade either of us differently from our opinions.

Who cares what healing is? I mean it's not as if it's something wizards can do and no one else bothers with the schools.
I don't know. Who cares about any point you're trying to make here? Who cares about any of this really? Is this the route that you wanna take, Neonchameleon? A rude hand-waved dismissal?

More to the point all your "more thematic grouping of spells" is is a slightly more polished version of the D&D schools of magic; all eight of them are meant to be thematic groupings of spells and some spells (like teleport) really are "none of the above"and might belong to e.g. a travel school. Having eight and only eight is a problem - as was the nonsense about "opposition schools" that infested earlier editions. But the idea behind schools is precisely thematic groupings of spells, and most of them work.
I'm skeptical that they do work because it's pretty clear that many spells that exist in the game exist to be work-arounds for the different schools of magic, as in how many ways can non-evocation schools of magic get spells that are damaging evocation spells in all but name? Or to put it another way, let's take the spells from the PHB and give them to someone who doesn't have any foreknowledge of which spells belong to which tradition, give them tradition guidelines, and then ask them to sort the spells into the various traditions. What is the likelihood that many or most would end up in the expected tradition? We could even repeat this experiment with different people. I suspect that the thematic groupings
 

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