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D&D (2024) Make SPELL SCHOOLS Thematic (and Useful)

Horwath

Legend
I dont think that school are needed anymore.
it's some leftover from previous editions that does not have much value unless you really push mechanics into it.

Spells just need "type" or "tags", depending on damage type and effect:

fear, charm, summon, teleportation, acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison, thunder, force, radiant, necrotic, psychic, healing, shapechange, illusion, creation, etc...

spells could have one or more of those, or some maybe none at all.


then make all spell available to all and give all classes/subclasses 2 spells per level known extra from levels 0 to 5.
make subclass features work best with those or similar spells.
 

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Yaarel

He-Mage
Im in the process of bingewatching Dragon Prince. I love this show!

Out of curiosity, how might one represent the Xadia setting in D&D 5e? Xadia is the eastern subcontinent where magic flourishes innately, including elves and dragons. The western subcontinent is nonmagical, including humans.

There are seven "sources" of magic: namely the six "primal" sources, plus a "dark" source. Two primal sources − Sky and Ocean − often pair together for watery-icy weather effects. Each species of magical animal corresponds to one of the six primal sources. Somewhat like Magic The Gathering, a "nexus" is one of the certain landscapes that strongly correspond to a primal source.

Plus, "dark" magic is a somewhat a vampiric darkside that can exploit any of the six primal sources. The premise is, humans lack magic but invented dark magic to exploit the properties other magical creatures. Mostly this is material components, but the components derive from killing and dissecting magical creatures. It is inherently deathly and corrupting.

Using the Spell Schools according to how the original post defines them, the sources are as follows.

Sun source
• Invocation (Fire)
• Transmutation (Healing)

Moon source
• Illusion
• Enchantment

Star source
• (remains mysterious in the setting)
• Divination?

Sky source
• Invocation (Air)

Water source
• Invocation (Water)

Land source
• Invocation (Earth)
• Transmutation (Plant)

Dark source
• Necromancy
• Conjuration (Conjury)



Here, Dragon Prince is an example of how D&D Spell Schools are useful. When each School has an unambiguous definition, they organize themes and tropes, thus can help represent and create the flavor for almost any setting or character concept.

Each Spell School comes with its own nonoverlapping Spell List.
 

Yaarel

He-Mage
I prefer that each Spell Description no longer lists "components", whether Verbal, Somatic, or Material.

Instead, I would like each Class or character concept to describe how the character casts spells.

Some characters use Voice, whether an improvisational chant or poem, or a traditional ritual spell formula, or a command. Other characters use Somatic, whether dance or hand gestures. Some use Material components, such as the magical properties of certain kinds of stone or plant or animal part. Some use a magical Implement, like a wand or an animal totem. Some use a Symbol. Some use a Familiar. Some use the Mind, such as visualization or prayer of the heart. And so on.

Really, it is the Spellcasting Focus that matters, and it might be any of these methods for casting a spell.
 

Lojaan

Hero
Im in the process of bingewatching Dragon Prince. I love this show!

Out of curiosity, how might one represent the Xadia setting in D&D 5e? Xadia is the eastern subcontinent where magic flourishes innately, including elves and dragons. The western subcontinent is nonmagical, including humans.

There are seven "sources" of magic: namely the six "primal" sources, plus a "dark" source. Two primal sources − Sky and Ocean − often pair together for watery-icy weather effects. Each species of magical animal corresponds to one of the six primal sources. Somewhat like Magic The Gathering, a "nexus" is one of the certain landscapes that strongly correspond to a primal source.

Plus, "dark" magic is a somewhat a vampiric darkside that can exploit any of the six primal sources. The premise is, humans lack magic but invented dark magic to exploit the properties other magical creatures. Mostly this is material components, but the components derive from killing and dissecting magical creatures. It is inherently deathly and corrupting.

Using the Spell Schools according to how the original post defines them, the sources are as follows.

Sun source
• Invocation (Fire)
• Transmutation (Healing)

Moon source
• Illusion
• Enchantment

Star source
• (remains mysterious in the setting)
• Divination?

Sky source
• Invocation (Air)

Water source
• Invocation (Water)

Land source
• Invocation (Earth)
• Transmutation (Plant)

Dark source
• Necromancy
• Conjuration (Conjury)



Here, Dragon Prince is an example of how D&D Spell Schools are useful. When each School has an unambiguous definition, they organize themes and tropes, thus can help represent and create the flavor for almost any setting or character concept.

Each Spell School comes with its own nonoverlapping Spell List.
I actually think that this is a perfect example of how the spell schools are NOT useful. They don't fit. Not unless you seriously massage and squeeze them and.... just don't think about other things too closely (remember healing spells in evocation anyone?).

See how you have had to split evocation and transmutation again up already? You'll have to do that for almost every school.

It would be much more useful if the spells were comprehensively tagged on their own merits (not squeezed into a school) and then you could arrange them into whatever categories you liked.

Spell schools are GREAT as a structure for how wizards see magic. I would add as a rule that wizards cannot cast anything that doesn't fit into one of their schools (this is why no healing spells). It is not necessary and reductive for anyone else.
 

Yaarel

He-Mage
See how you have had to split evocation and transmutation again up already?
Even so, in this case the split is meaningful.

Evocation simply means any kind of elemental magic.

If the setting wants to separate each element into its own "source", that is fine. These sources still use the elemental/evocation school.
 

Yaarel

He-Mage
Spells just need "type" or "tags", depending on damage type and effect:

fear, charm, summon, teleportation, acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison, thunder, force, radiant, necrotic, psychic, healing, shapechange, illusion, creation, etc...

It would be much more useful if the spells were comprehensively tagged on their own merits (not squeezed into a school) and then you could arrange them into whatever categories you liked.

The spell tags that are thematically salient are:

Telekinetics, Conjury, Dweomer
Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Primordial
Plant, Animal, Healing
Enchantment, Illusion
Scry, Teleport, Planar
Necromancy
 
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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
Even so, in this case the split is meaningful.

Evocation simply means any kind of elemental magic.

If the setting wants to separate each element into its own "source", that is fine. These sources still use the elemental/evocation school.
No evocation is not. Conjuration contains elemental magic & evocation contains a number of non-elemental spells. Just skimming the 2014 spells bigby's hand, aura of vitality, cure wounds, dancing lights, darkness, earthquake, faerie fire, heal, healing word, tiny hut, etc.

"Evocation spells manipulate magical energy to produce a desired effect. Some call up blasts of fire or lightning. Others channel positive energy to heal wounds."

"
Conjuration spells involve the transportation of objects and creatures from one location to another. Some spells summon creatures or objects to the caster’s side, whereas others allow the caster to teleport to another location. Some conjurations create objects or effects out of nothing."

Evocation
Evocation spells manipulate energy or tap an unseen source of power to produce a desired end. In effect, they create something out of nothing. Many of these spells produce spectacular effects, and evocation spells can deal large amounts of damage. Representative spells include magic missile, fireball, and lightning bolt.

Conjuration
Each conjuration spell belongs to one of five subschools. Conjurations bring manifestations of objects, creatures, or some form of energy to you (the summoning subschool), actually transport creatures from another plane of existence to your plane (calling), heal (healing), transport creatures or objects over great distances (teleportation), or create objects or effects on the spot (creation). Creatures you conjure usually, but not always, obey your commands. Representative spells include the various summon monster spells, cure light wounds, raise dead, teleport, and wall of iron.
A creature or object brought into being or transported to your location by a conjuration spell cannot appear inside another creature or object, nor can it appear floating in an empty space. It must arrive in an open location on a surface capable of supporting it. The creature or object must appear within the spell’s range, but it does not have to remain within the range.
Calling: A calling spell transports a creature from another plane to the plane you are on. The spell grants the creature the one-time ability to return to its plane of origin, although the spell may limit the circumstances under which this is possible. Creatures who are called actually die when they are killed; they do not disappear and reform, as do those brought by a summoning spell (see below). The duration of a calling spell is instantaneous, which means that the called creature can’t be dispelled.
Creation: A creation spell manipulates matter to create an object or creature in the place the spellcaster designates (subject to the limits noted above). If the spell has a duration other than instantaneous, magic holds the creation together, and when the spell ends, the conjured creature or object vanishes without a trace. If the spell has an instantaneous duration, the created object or creature is merely assembled through magic. It lasts indefinitely and does not depend on magic for its existence.
Healing: Certain divine conjurations heal creatures or even bring them back to life. These include cure spells.
Summoning: A summoning spell instantly brings a creature or object to a place you designate. When the spell ends or is dispelled, a summoned creature is instantly sent back to where it came from, but a summoned object is not sent back unless the spell description specifically indicates this. A summoned creature also goes away if it is killed or if its hit points drop to 0 or lower. It is not really dead. It takes 24 hours for the creature to reform, during which time it can’t be summoned again.
When the spell that summoned a creature ends and the creature disappears, all the spells it has cast expire. A summoned creature cannot use any innate summoning abilities it may have, and it refuses to cast any spells that would cost it XP, or to use any spell-like abilities that would cost XP if they were spells.
Teleportation: A teleportation spell transports one or morecreatures or objects a great distance. The most powerful of these spells can cross planar boundaries. Unlike summoning spells, the transportation is (unless otherwise noted) one-way and not dispellable. Teleportation is instantaneous travel through the AstralPlane. Anything that blocks astral travel also blocks teleportation.
Invocation/Evocation spells channel magical energy to create specific effects and materials. Invocation normally relies on the intervention of some higher agency (to whom the spell is addressed), while evocation enables the caster to directly shape the energy.

Conjuration/summoning spells bring something to the caster from elsewhere. Conjuration normally produces matter or items from some other place. Summoning enables the caster to compel living creatures and powers to appear in his presence or to channel extraplanar energies through himself.
I'm sure someone can quote the relevant bits of 4e too. The complexity exists & has existed for a reason. Those reasons have predictable ripple effects as they interact with other areas of gameplay. Oversimplification reduces them to a meaningless term & removes their ability to be predicted around a common framework
 

Yaarel

He-Mage
No evocation is not. Conjuration contains elemental magic & evocation contains a number of non-elemental spells. Just skimming the 2014 spells bigby's hand, aura of vitality, cure wounds, dancing lights, darkness, earthquake, faerie fire, heal, healing word, tiny hut, etc.

"Evocation spells manipulate magical energy to produce a desired effect. Some call up blasts of fire or lightning. Others channel positive energy to heal wounds."

"
Conjuration spells involve the transportation of objects and creatures from one location to another. Some spells summon creatures or objects to the caster’s side, whereas others allow the caster to teleport to another location. Some conjurations create objects or effects out of nothing."

Evocation
Evocation spells manipulate energy or tap an unseen source of power to produce a desired end. In effect, they create something out of nothing. Many of these spells produce spectacular effects, and evocation spells can deal large amounts of damage. Representative spells include magic missile, fireball, and lightning bolt.

Conjuration
Each conjuration spell belongs to one of five subschools. Conjurations bring manifestations of objects, creatures, or some form of energy to you (the summoning subschool), actually transport creatures from another plane of existence to your plane (calling), heal (healing), transport creatures or objects over great distances (teleportation), or create objects or effects on the spot (creation). Creatures you conjure usually, but not always, obey your commands. Representative spells include the various summon monster spells, cure light wounds, raise dead, teleport, and wall of iron.
A creature or object brought into being or transported to your location by a conjuration spell cannot appear inside another creature or object, nor can it appear floating in an empty space. It must arrive in an open location on a surface capable of supporting it. The creature or object must appear within the spell’s range, but it does not have to remain within the range.
Calling: A calling spell transports a creature from another plane to the plane you are on. The spell grants the creature the one-time ability to return to its plane of origin, although the spell may limit the circumstances under which this is possible. Creatures who are called actually die when they are killed; they do not disappear and reform, as do those brought by a summoning spell (see below). The duration of a calling spell is instantaneous, which means that the called creature can’t be dispelled.
Creation: A creation spell manipulates matter to create an object or creature in the place the spellcaster designates (subject to the limits noted above). If the spell has a duration other than instantaneous, magic holds the creation together, and when the spell ends, the conjured creature or object vanishes without a trace. If the spell has an instantaneous duration, the created object or creature is merely assembled through magic. It lasts indefinitely and does not depend on magic for its existence.
Healing: Certain divine conjurations heal creatures or even bring them back to life. These include cure spells.
Summoning: A summoning spell instantly brings a creature or object to a place you designate. When the spell ends or is dispelled, a summoned creature is instantly sent back to where it came from, but a summoned object is not sent back unless the spell description specifically indicates this. A summoned creature also goes away if it is killed or if its hit points drop to 0 or lower. It is not really dead. It takes 24 hours for the creature to reform, during which time it can’t be summoned again.
When the spell that summoned a creature ends and the creature disappears, all the spells it has cast expire. A summoned creature cannot use any innate summoning abilities it may have, and it refuses to cast any spells that would cost it XP, or to use any spell-like abilities that would cost XP if they were spells.
Teleportation: A teleportation spell transports one or morecreatures or objects a great distance. The most powerful of these spells can cross planar boundaries. Unlike summoning spells, the transportation is (unless otherwise noted) one-way and not dispellable. Teleportation is instantaneous travel through the AstralPlane. Anything that blocks astral travel also blocks teleportation.
Invocation/Evocation spells channel magical energy to create specific effects and materials. Invocation normally relies on the intervention of some higher agency (to whom the spell is addressed), while evocation enables the caster to directly shape the energy.

Conjuration/summoning spells bring something to the caster from elsewhere. Conjuration normally produces matter or items from some other place. Summoning enables the caster to compel living creatures and powers to appear in his presence or to channel extraplanar energies through himself.
I'm sure someone can quote the relevant bits of 4e too. The complexity exists & has existed for a reason. Those reasons have predictable ripple effects as they interact with other areas of gameplay. Oversimplification reduces them to a meaningless term & removes their ability to be predicted around a common framework
"Evocation", "Conjuration", etcetera as defined in the original post of this thread.

For example, Bigbys Hand is a force construct, therefore is a Conjuration, specifically Conjuration (Conjury). Wall of Stone manipulates the properties of the element of earth, therefore is Evocation (Earth).
 
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I personally think the way to make spell schools useful is to empower those that only take spells from their school, while those that want to not specialize, are more versatile, but not as powerful. Things like spell components, ranges, advantage on rolls, negating resistance, damage, and duration could be affected by specialization. Whereas the versatile caster uses the spells as is.
 

Yaarel

He-Mage
I personally think the way to make spell schools useful is to empower those that only take spells from their school, while those that want to not specialize, are more versatile, but not as powerful. Things like spell components, ranges, advantage on rolls, negating resistance, damage, and duration could be affected by specialization. Whereas the versatile caster uses the spells as is.
I am thinking, when a Wizard gains spells when leveling, these self-taught spells should only come from two Schools or Subschools. They might acquire spells from other Schools as treasure but need to figure out how to cast those.
 

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