OneDnD Make SPELL SCHOOLS Useful

Horwath

Hero
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

Mind 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

Mind 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

Adventurer
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

Mind 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

Mind 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
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

Mind 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

Mind 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.
 

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.
It's interesting. That is how we played a long long time ago. One school could come "naturally," while the other had to be treasure. I remember liking it.
 


tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
my question is this... is there a reason to give schools to spells wizards don't get? I only see wizards interact with school.
Not assigning schools prevents anything from interacting with them. I gave a cleric player this robe a while back for example
1667961300769.png

Not having schools would also force GM adjudication of corner cases with non wizard spells into a bit of a calvinball type directionless situation & create problems for any sort of mystic theurge type subclass even before it could be built. Lets say a wizard takes magic initiate cleric for a cleric spell then has a wizard subclass that would otherwise impact the chosen spell as another example.

Not including them just invites problems for little if any gain.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Not having schools would also force GM adjudication of corner cases with non wizard spells into a bit of a calvinball type directionless situation & create problems for any sort of mystic theurge type subclass even before it could be built.
1667961300769-png.266244


Out of curiosity. This item mentions:
• Conjuration school
• Healing school
• Divine school

In this context, what is a "Divine school"? Did you mean the Divine "power source", the "Divination school", or something different?



Regarding the "Healing School", I am comfortable with Healing being its own School. I currently have Healing as a Subschool of "Transmutation" which I define as the shapeshifting of Plant and of Animal. Other editions made it part of Conjuration (in the sense of planeshifting from the Positive Energy Plane), Evocation (in the sense of radiant Positive Energy), and Necromancy (in the sense of manipulating death magic). But really, there are enough spells that relate thematically for each Spell Slot to sustain Healing as its own independent School.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
The Power Sources seem to relate to the Spell Focus, or might even be identical with it.

The Spell description should eliminate the "Components", whether Verbal, Somatic, or Material. Instead, it is the Spell Focus that matters. There are different ways to cast spells.



With regard to the Sorcerer, the body itself is the magical power source. Whether by inheriting some innately magical "bloodline", or undergoing bodily transformation by some magical creature or event, the body is magical. The Sorcerer is a living magic wand.

I now feel the best way to express this bodily flavor is for the Sorcerer to cast spells by means Somatic only.

In other words, Somatics is the Spellcasting Focus. Whether by the gentle dance of Avatar the Last Airbender, by the hand signs of the Hand of Vecna, or by wiggling ones nose like Bewitched, the body itself wields the magic.

Thus the Sorcerer never uses Verbal components or Material components.



Regarding the Power Sources, the Arcane Source manipulates the magical properties that are innately present in normal material objects. Typically, Arcane uses Material Components, such as certain stones, plants, animal parts, etcetera. An "Implement", such as a Wand or Orb, is like a high-tech tool (high-magi-tech) that substitutes any Material Component. In the case of the Sorcerer, the body is this high-tech tool, whence the Somatic gestures to activate and wield it.

The Divine Source uses a Symbol as the Spellcasting Focus, to wield the magic of linguistics, culture, community, and collective archetypes. Typically, the Divinist presents a visual Symbol, often a pendant on a necklace, but it might be coat-of-arms emblazing a shield, or a prominent tattoo. If a Divinist instead relies on Verbals as the Spellcasting Focus, such as a prayer or a meditative mantra, it is to invoke and attune a specific archetype.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
The original post strives to organize every spell in 5e into thematic spell lists.

Each school or subschool has its own list, with its own definition for which spells go into the list.

The theme for each list is nonoverlapping. As much as possible, a spell obviously belongs to one list and not any other list.

The purpose of these school lists is to make it easy to find and utilize salient themes and tropes. This thematic organization helps DMs build thematic settings and helps players build thematic characters.



Here is the definition for each school/subschool list.

DIVINATION
Spacetime and planarity.
• Scry
Seeing across spacetime, fate, luck, foresight, detection, clairvoyance, outofbody projection.
• Teleportation
Traveling spacetime, time travel, teleportation, spacetime distortions, extradimensional space.
• Planarity
Shifting across planes of existence that are beyond matter. Contacting and summoning Ethereal-Fey forces and Astral-Celestial thoughts.

CONJURATION
Force and magical energy. "Force" is physical but immaterial, such as gravity.
• Telekinetics
Motion, flight, or other propulsion by means of force.
• Conjury
An object or creature made out of magical energy, especially a force construct. The "force field" surface behaves as if solid but is immaterial. (Compare the Star Trek "holodeck" whose force constructs are simulations that form virtual realities.)
• Dweomer
Metamagic: detection of magical energy and alteration or negation of spellcasting. A "dweomer" is a technical term for an aura of magical energy.

EVOCATION
The four elements of matter: Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. (The fifth element is force. See Conjuration.) Elemental planes and states of matter.
• Earth
Damage types: weapon (bludgeon, pierce, slash). Earth, soil, rock, metal, crystal. Elemental plane of earth. State of matter: solid.
• Water
Damage type: cold. Water, condensation, waves, ice. Elemental plane of water. State of matter: liquid.
• Air
Damage types: lightning, thunder. Air, wind, atmosphere, fog, weather, detonation, sound, silence. Elemental plane of air. State of matter: gas.
• Fire
Damage types: fire, radiant. Fire, sun, stars, light, darkness. State of matter: plasma.
• Primordial
Damage types: acid, various. Unstable blendings of elemental substances and energies, such as prismatic sprays.

TRANSMUTATION
Life and lifeforms.
• Animal
Body and physical abilities, shapeshifting. Attuning Beast, skin, fur, horn, claws, and fangs. Animal products, such as leather, fur, and ivory.
• Plant
Vegetation, Plant extending to funguses, and Oozes. Plant products − wood, cotton, linen, resin, and food − and weaving and fabrication generally. (Whereas the Earth subschool can construct objects of earth only, such as stone or metal, and the Animal subschool can form objects of animal products only, such as leather and ivory, the Plant subschool can fabricate these and other materials generally, along with plant products.)
• Healing
Healing, regrowing wounds, shapeshifting into a whole and healthy lifeform, cloning, resurrection, vitality, vigor, rest, and restoration generally.

ENCHANTMENT
Damage type: psychic. Mind and mental abilities, telepathy, social skills, memory, playing with minds, charm, fear, domination, and morale.

ILLUSION
Willing reality into existence. Blurring the boundary between subjective reality and objective reality. Altering reality. (Where Conjury forms force constructs to simulate reality virtually, Illusion actually is reality even if temporary or partial. Illusions derive from a mental aspect that is psychologically immediate and compelling. To "illude" literally means to "play at" ones reality.)

NECROMANCY
Damage type: necrotic. The darkside of magic, especially death and demonology. Contacting and summoning Shadow-Undead, Infernal-Fiend, and Farrealm-Aberration.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
The UA Cleric playtest includes the following reclassifications for the spell schools.

They redefine healing spells as Abjuration.

There is an interest in tightening up the definition of the Evocation school as elemental energies. But the thunder damage type is now a Transmutation that alters solids, rather than an Evocation that wields elemental energy.

Separately, the "telepathic" spells have moved to the Divination school.

The updates are nonsystematic.



(2014 School → UA School)

Zero Slot

Dancing Lights (Evocation → Illusion) (but Light remains Evocation)
Produce Flame (Conjuration → Evocation)

1st Slot
Cure Wounds (Evocation → Abjuration)
Healing Word (Evocation → Abjuration)
Thunderwave (Evocation → Transmutation)

2nd Slot
Blindness/Deafness (Necromancy → Transmutation)
Flaming Sphere (Conjuration → Evocation)
Prayer of Healing (Evocation → Abjuration)
Shatter (Evocation → Transmutation)

3rd Slot
Aura of Vitality (Evocation → Abjuration)
Mass Healing Word (Evocation → Abjuration)
Sending (Evocation → Divination)

4th Slot
Stoneskin (Abjuration → Transmutation)

5th Slot
Hallow (Evocation → Abjuration)
Mass Cure Wounds (Evocation → Abjuration)
Reincarnate (Transmutation → Necromancy)

6th Slot
Contingency (Evocation → Abjuration)

8th Slot
Earthquake (Evocation → Transmutation)
Glibness (Transmutation → Enchantment)
Telepathy (Evocation → Divination)

9th Slot
Mass Heal (Evocation → Abjuration)
Power Word Heal (Evocation → Abjuration)
 
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