Schools of Magic – DM’s Pocket Guide
Welcome to DM’s Pocket Guide, where we discuss the rules, spells, and monsters of Dungeons and Dragons, 5th edition.
Rachel: Okay, so today we are going to be talking about the Schools of Magic. This is a bit of a follow up to Detect Magic, we had to learn the schools because of that particular spell. So let’s get into it. A nice summary of this appears in a box on page 203 of the Player’s Handbook, and it goes through the Schools of Magic. “Academies of magic group spells into eight categories, called Schools of Magic. Scholars, particularly wizards, apply these categories to all spells, believing that all magic functions in essentially the same way, whether it derives from rigorous study or is bestowed by a deity.”
Tricia: So this calls into, if you play a wizard, at the second level, you can like choose your particular school of magic, which there are these eight. And then as you’re playing through your wizard character, you like develop skills and stuff based on that. I have never actually played a wizard, so this also contributes to why I’m not very familiar with these different Schools of Magic. But the – I think the idea is that probably in the past, when wizards were like the big D&D thing, they created these, and then they were like, “Oh, also, just like all magic fits into these schools.”
R: Yeah, I recognize a lot of these categories from like playing Skyrim, or any kind of like, strategy game like that. It goes on to say the Schools of Magic help describe the spells but have no rules of their own, even though there are some rules that refer to the schools of magic.
T: Yeah, so these are just categorizations. They’re not actually doing anything. It’s just kind of helping you to be like, “Ah, this goes under that category.”
R: Exactly. Okay. So the first one is Abjuration. “Abjuration spells are protective in nature, though some of them have aggressive uses. They create magical barriers, negate harmful effects, contrast passes, or banish creatures to other planes of existence.”
T: So some examples of that would be like Remove Curse. Yeah, also Aid, so that’s kind of like a positive way. Aid, you’re doing a protective barrier thing. Remove Curse, you’re removing something harmful. A favorite, Counterspell, is an abjuration spell. So just like, nope! Abjuration are the Nope spells.
R: Changing something. Okay.
T: Nope, not changing things, just blocking things.
R: Blocking things. Okay. Conjuration comes next. “Conjuration spells involve the transportation of objects and creatures from one location to another. So the 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.”
T: So this would be like your Find Familiar.
R: Okay, yeah.
T: Bloop! Your familiar pops up into existence. Also, like Conjure Animals, Conjure Celestial. There’s a whole bunch of ‘Conjure.” Surprisingly, it’s a conjuration spell. But this would also include like Mage Hand. Yep, it’s coming out of nothing, conjuring it, and also Entangle. So you’re conjuring the plants out of the ground. This is one that I could actually see it maybe fitting in some others, but it is technically a conjuration spell.
R: Okay, yeah, it sounds like there might be a few that had a bit of a crossover. Next one is Divination. “Divination spells reveal information, whether in the form of secrets long forgotten, glimpses into the future, the locations of hidden things, and the truth behind illusions or visions of distant people or places.”
T: So this is Clairvoyance. This is Scrying. Those are kind of classic divination staring into a teacup things.
R: Detect Magic is a divination spell.
R: Man, the snake eats its tail, I tell you.
T: Yeah. But it’s also Comprehend Languages, which is sure. And Speak with Animals.
R: Okay. Yeah, revealing information, being able to understand. Yeah, okay, that’s cool. “Enchantment spells affect the minds of others influencing or controlling their behavior. Such spells can make enemies see the caster as a friend, force creatures to take a course of action, or even control another creature like a puppet.”
T: Yeah. So some of those would be Calm Emotions, Command – you can just make somebody do something – also Sleep and Animal Friendship.
R: My cleric from Curse of Strahd is feeling very attacked right now.
T: Enchantments! Sorry, that was a Dragon Age joke.
R: Yes, I haven’t played that series, unfortunately. “Evocation spells manipulate magical energy to produce a desired effect. Some call up blasts of fire or lightning and other channel positive energy to heal wounds.”
T: So yeah, so this is like super most basic magic: Fireball, Burning Hands, Cure Wounds, Eldritch Blast. Anything that’s like Kapow!
R: Okay, so all of this stuff you would, yeah, use – I see all of these things being used regularly. These are all evocations. Okay, cool. I don’t think I would have known that. “Illusion spells, deceive the senses or the minds of others that cause people to see things that are not there, to miss things that are there, to hear faint noises or to remember things that never happened. Some illusions create phantom images that any creature can see. But the most insidious illusions plant an image directly into the mind of a creature.”
T: Your Curse of Strahd character might be feeling called out now too. This would be like Disguise Self, Invisibility. But also fun ones like Color Spray.
R: Huh, fun times.
T: So anything illusory. That one feels pretty self-explanatory.
R: Okay, the next one we’ve got is Necromancy. “Necromancy spells manipulate the energies of life and death. Such spells grant an extra reserve of life force, drain the life energy from another creature and create undead, or even bring the dead back to life. Creating the undead through the use of necromancy spells such as Animate Dead is not used by good casters and only evil casters use such those frequently.” This is a bit of a moral…
T: Yeah, it’s interesting that that’s the only one that has that caveat when you could probably say, if you’re evoking Fireball on innocents, that’s also bad? You know, I don’t know, it’s an interesting thing. But necromancy is divided into these two categories, basically, where it’s either interacting with the dead in a negative way – Animate Dead, Raise Dead – but also, like, Chill Touch does necromantic damage. But it’s also – Resurrection is a necromancy spell because you’re just raising your own party from the dead and it’s therefore okay, versus raising the undead for dealing damage? That’s what your party is gonna do. It’s, uh, it’s kind of weird.
R: Yeah, that’s interesting that these spells also fall under necromancy.
T: Yeah. Also Clone. Clone is a necromancy spell.
R: Oh, yeah. Okay, I mean, I guess under the context, that makes sense. Okay, but the last one we have is Transmutation spells. I believe this used to be called Alteration. I was once corrected on this, that I was quoting 3rd edition even though I’ve never played it. It’s now called Transmutation. And these “change the properties of a creature, object, or environment. They might turn an enemy into a harmless creature, bolster the strength of an ally, or make an object move at the caster’s command, or even enhance the creatures innate healing abilities rapidly recover from an injury.”
T: Yeah, so that is Barkskin. You’re transmuting your own skin to be protective. This is Control Water. It’s also like Telekinesis.
R: Okay, yeah, that makes sense.
T: So those are the Schools of Magic.
R: Page 203 in the Player’s Handbook.
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