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Dusk Raven
2016-10-24, 06:57 PM
I've long been dissatisfied with how the spells are sorted in terms of "schools." Many of them are rather problematic - Enchantment and Illusion have some overlap and ambiguities, likewise with Evocation and Conjuration. Necromancy is obviously a bin for just about everything the designers consider evil, and Abjuration is weird. Unfortunately, creating an alternate system of schools is not a simple matter, as aside from Specialist Wizards I'm not quite sure what the extent of its relevance is.

I've also been long at a loss as to how to organize them into new schools, especially without knowing every spell. It's kind of difficult trying to categorize them, especially when you think of some small but well-known semi-distinct grouping and you wonder, "Are they distinct or numerous enough them to make them their own school, or should I include them in another school?"

I rather liked the Psionic Disciplines in 3.5e, as they were smaller in number, yet intuitive and inclusive. Of course, there are things magic can do that psionics can't, so it's hard to adapt it with broad strokes, and I'd like to come up with my own if possible. So to help me with this, I have two broad questions for the Playground - what do schools actually effect, and how would you divvy up the spells into different categories?

Sicarius Victis
2016-10-24, 07:15 PM
I'd probably just have a relatively large list of smaller, more logically-designed schools.

Creation - What you'd expect from a Conjuration school.
Destruction - Inflict, Harm, Destruction, Disintegrate, Shatter, etc.
Protection - Shield, Mage Armour, Wall of (Insert thing here), etc.
Abnegation - Dispel, Antimagic, etc.
Transportation - Teleport, Expeditious Retreat, etc.
Transmutation - Changing one thing into another. Not buffs and stuff.
Divination - Precognitive effects. Scrying would be its own thing.

This kind of thing. Where each school covers one "theme", with one or maybe two related effects based off of that theme. Not the 8-school crap that they have now.

Zaydos
2016-10-24, 07:17 PM
Schools affect: Certain feats (Spell Focus, Cloudy Conjuration, Metamagic School Focus), Specialist Wizards, and certain resistances (elves get a +2 on saves versus Enchantment, Gnomes get +1 to saves versus Illusions). PF might add more things they affect.

School divisions: I make any spell that creates something from nothing (the D&D definition of the Evocation school) Evocation; this means the entire Creation subschool gets shunted out of Conjuration. It is only in Conjuration so that Lv 1 Conjurers can be a thing (as in any Creation spell that existed in 1e was Evocation, half of them became Conjuration in 2e so it had the minimum required 2 spells per level, the other half got shifted in 3e for consistency I guess), and with Spell Compendium and PHBII it is no longer necessary for that purpose. This also helps rebalance schools in the one place it really matters Specialist Wizards. With this change Metacreativity becomes considered equivalent of Evocation instead of Conjuration.

I shift the Healing subschool from Conjuration to Necromancy (where it was in 2e). Necromancy is magic which manipulates life energy so this is intuitive. Evocation would also work (as it includes 'Create Something from Nothing' and 'Channel pure planar energies' i.e. what Healing spells do).

You might want to move Bestow Curse to Transmutation? Fear spells to Enchantment (they did do this in 5e). There is some fixing of Necromancy that might need to be done. But other than Bestow Curse and a few other spells, and Fear Necromancy pretty much is 'life energy manipulation' and 'undead boosting' and that's pretty functional/intuitive. Make a curse subschool for necromancy and give it a bit of fluff for what makes a curse a curse and it'd have worked better, still a heavy overhaul.

Illusion and Enchantment: I don't have a problem here in general, if you do move Phantasms to Enchantment. Glamers, Shadow, Figments, and Patterns all affect how everyone perceives things not just the target, while Patterns are mind-affecting they still are very distinctly non-enchantment.

Making more and different schools would be difficult (need at least 2 of each level due to specialist wizards), and really finicky, while this already fixes most of the non-intuitive issues making it not really worth the cognitive effort (Evocation - Creates energy/objects from nothing, Conjuration - Moves things from place to place, Transmutation - Transmutes things, Illusion - Creates unreal things, Enchantment - Messes with heads, Necromancy - messes with life force, Divination - Gathers information from nowhere, Abjuration - Anti-magic and wards). You could make Conjuration (Creation) its own school (it's more than large enough) if you wanted to. Curses remain as potentially sticky issue as to where to put them.

Dusk Raven
2016-10-24, 10:08 PM
Making more and different schools would be difficult (need at least 2 of each level due to specialist wizards), and really finicky, while this already fixes most of the non-intuitive issues making it not really worth the cognitive effort (Evocation - Creates energy/objects from nothing, Conjuration - Moves things from place to place, Transmutation - Transmutes things, Illusion - Creates unreal things, Enchantment - Messes with heads, Necromancy - messes with life force, Divination - Gathers information from nowhere, Abjuration - Anti-magic and wards). You could make Conjuration (Creation) its own school (it's more than large enough) if you wanted to. Curses remain as potentially sticky issue as to where to put them.

Working "within the system" I find, is usually easier when homebrewing for D&D and Pathfinder, except in cases where "the system" is nonsensical. Still, keeping the current schools (or at least their number) and moving the spells around would be simplest until I want to do a comprehensive overhaul (though, given the sheer number of spells if you include 3rd-party books, I'm not worried about having 2 for each spell level). I am looking for a way to organize spells in my own works and non-D&D related stuff, of course, but I'm also keeping the possibility of modifying existing schools open.

That being said, I suddenly got an idea - I'd move curses to Divination. This depends on how curses work, of course, Divination involves not just acquiring knowledge but interfering with fate (ie. True Strike) and curses are what happen when you influence fate for the negative.

Zaydos
2016-10-24, 10:17 PM
Working "within the system" I find, is usually easier when homebrewing for D&D and Pathfinder, except in cases where "the system" is nonsensical. Still, keeping the current schools (or at least their number) and moving the spells around would be simplest until I want to do a comprehensive overhaul (though, given the sheer number of spells if you include 3rd-party books, I'm not worried about having 2 for each spell level). I am looking for a way to organize spells in my own works and non-D&D related stuff, of course, but I'm also keeping the possibility of modifying existing schools open.

That being said, I suddenly got an idea - I'd move curses to Divination. This depends on how curses work, of course, Divination involves not just acquiring knowledge but interfering with fate (ie. True Strike) and curses are what happen when you influence fate for the negative.

Well that's how I'd reshuffle things, I mean broad sweeps (you could go through Abjuration, Transmutation, Illusion/Enchantment to look for individual spells that ought to be changed).

As for Divination interfering with fate, I wouldn't call True Strike an example. After all it's an Insight bonus, it just gives you knowledge of the perfect way to strike (or as the spell description says "You gain temporary, intuitive insight into the immediate future during your next attack."). However one curse which is specifically interfering with fate is already Divination (Unluck, the most randomly Divination spell in the game) so it'd still work.

Though as a note if you do make curses Divination the only lose 1 school when banning divination thing probably needs to be dropped.

Dusk Raven
2016-10-24, 10:33 PM
As for Divination interfering with fate, I wouldn't call True Strike an example. After all it's an Insight bonus, it just gives you knowledge of the perfect way to strike (or as the spell description says "You gain temporary, intuitive insight into the immediate future during your next attack."). However one curse which is specifically interfering with fate is already Divination (Unluck, the most randomly Divination spell in the game) so it'd still work.

Though as a note if you do make curses Divination the only lose 1 school when banning divination thing probably needs to be dropped.

Pathfinder already has that modification to the Divination school specialist - and if it didn't, I would follow Rich Burlow's advice (and his new Divination spells) to do the same.

Otherwise, I'd still move Curses over, since that's my personal interpretation of how they work, and I could probably find a few more proper examples of altering fate in the meantime.

nonsi
2016-10-25, 10:38 PM
I would follow Rich Burlow's advice.


what advice?





I would follow Rich Burlow's advice (and his new Divination spells) to do the same.


can you share a link?

RedWarlock
2016-10-26, 02:22 AM
I do this kind of shuffling myself, though admittedly I wound up with something like 14 schools when all was said and done. I split Healing, Polymorph, and Summoning each into its own school, Telepathy and Telekinesis each become a full school on its own, and Enchantment becomes redefined as any spell of a lasting duration. I also don't split hairs about schools, using school as a non-exclusive descriptor rather than a unique type, and I try to use as few open-ended spells as I can, with options like what is summoned or what Polymorph changes them into pre-specified when the spell is prepared.

Abjuration - Spells that negate or block other spells.
Conjuration - Spells that bring/create non-living matter.
Divination - Spells that gather information.
Enchantment - Spells that sustain themselves beyond the caster's active focus.
Evocation - Spells that create elemental energy.
Healing - Spells that use or manipulate positive energy.
Illusion - Spells that generate false sounds, images, and other sensory deception.
Necromancy - Spells that use or manipulate negative energy.
Polymorph - Spells that alter the form of a living creature into that of another living creature.
Summoning - Spells that summon or create creatures under the control of the caster.
Telekinesis - Spells that move or re-shape matter
Telepathy - Spells that affect the living mind and communicate thoughts.
Teleportation - Spells that break dimensional barriers and travel between planes.
Transmutation - Spells that alter non-living matter or augment living creatures.

Might've forgotten something, just offhand.

bekeleven
2016-10-26, 03:40 AM
First, let's look at how current spell schools work in practice.

By Function
These are spells grouped by in-universe mechanics.

Conjuration: Spells that act by creating physical objects. As it turns out, you can accomplish basically anything you want by creating physical objects. Also, if you move something a short distance it's another school (transmutation), but if the distance is long enough it's conjuration.

Transmutation: Spells that act by changing physical objects. As it turns out, you can accomplish basically anything you need by changing physical objects.

Now let's cover subschools.

Evocation: Spells that summon energy. Only it turns out that you can conjure energy too (See: Orb spells), so Evocation is a subschool of Conjuration. Both in mechanics and flavor.

Enchantment: Spells that change people's minds and perceptions. Enchantment acts as a subschool to Transmutation, especially when it starts more explicitly changing bodies. Anything enchantment accomplishes, mechanically or flavorfully, is basically stuff transmutation can do with fewer immunities in the way. There are exceptions, but the spells this school is known for are very much not the norm.

Illusion: Most of Illusion is spells that change people's perceptions, meaning Illusion is a subschool of a Enchantment, which is already a subschool. Illusion also has a relatively small number spells that summon real (partially real, anyway) matter, which makes a minority of illusion spells conjuration.

By Flavor
These schools often mechanically overlap multiple other schools, because they are grouped by flavor.

Abjuration: Abjuration can do literally anything any other school can do so long as the effect feels "defensive" or "protective." Changing people or things? Done! Conjuring objects or energy? Done and done! Illusions? Etc. Sometimes it even forgoes the "defending" bit; Abjuration has a ton of straight up attack spells. The school's main focus is on antimagic, which is the closest it gets to mechanical identity, but that's a theme and not a rule.

Divination: Spells that find stuff out, generally by summoning a creature or magical construct (conjuration/evocation) or changing your body (transmutation). It also just has a bunch of random combat buffs, because they feel like stuff that you'd be able to do if you knew more stuff. The majority of Divination spells come in the form of: [[Through the method of your scrying sensor//contact with extraplanar entity//just because]], you now [[know the story resolution hook the DM kept trying to hint at earlier before giving up on you as a lost cause//put the BSF to shame in combat//have darkvision]]. But, again, it's really arbitrary what effects divination is given.

Necromancy: Spells that are eeeeeevvvviiiiiilllll. There is a nominal theme of life and death here (despite the healing subschool being moved out for some reason), but really, does that cover Wrack (enchantment), Amber Sarcophagus (Conjuration), Soul Link (Divination) or Kiss of the Vampire (Transmutation)? Necromancy is scattershot mechanically, covering undead creation and interaction as well as piles and piles of enchantment-style debuffs, but also tons of other areas.

So basically:

1. Mechanically, we have spells that make things (Conjuration), spells that change things (Transmutation). We have subschools of creating pure energy (Evocation), changing minds (Enchantment), and changing senses (Illusion). Again, these are all rather inconsistently applied, especially the relation of the schools to their subschools.

2. Conceptually, we have 3 non-exclusive categories: Protection/Antimagic, Knowledge, and Death/Malevolence.

How can we solve this? Well, first, you have to decide if you are dividing spells up by in-universe mechanics or in-universe intent.

Dusk Raven
2016-10-29, 12:30 PM
what advice?

can you share a link?

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=10546569&postcount=16 The thread it's in can be found from the GITP main page (not the forums), under Gaming, and "Looking for the gaming articles?" Burlew has a few interesting takes on old and new rules alike, some of which have given me ideas.

Nifft
2016-10-29, 02:08 PM
Air: Spells that have the [Air] descriptor, spells that deal with vision & invisibility, spells that grant flight.

Earth: Spells with the [Earth] descriptor, spells that give DR or an armor bonus, spells that paralyze, slow, or impede movement.

Fire: Spells with the [Fire] descriptor, spells that increase speed or grant morale bonuses, spells that incite rage.

Water: Spells with the [Water] descriptor, spells that negate movement debuffs, spells that calm or remove mental effects.

Void: Spells that Teleport, spells that let you visit the Ethereal or Astral planes, spells that disintegrate stuff.

Darkness: Spells with the [Darkness] descriptor, illusions, spells that create undead, spells that provide debuffs.

Light: Spells with the [Light] descriptor, illusions, spells that counter the powers of fiends & the undead, spells that provide bonuses & healing.

Law: Spells with the [Law] descriptor, spells that reinforce an object, spells that resist a specific effect, spells that Command or Dominate.

Chaos: Spells with the [Chaos] descriptor, spells that change a creature's form, spells that Charm, spells that break enchantments & remove curses.

===

Note that Illusions are in both Light and Darkness. Shadow Evocations are pure Darkness; I'd probably put the rest in both (except Invisibility and related which are Air).

It is a matter of legend that there may be a 10th sphere of magic. Sages and magi debate the possible nature of the 10th sphere. There is much disagreement.

Pronounceable
2016-10-29, 03:03 PM
I have two broad questions for the Playground - what do schools actually effect, and how would you divvy up the spells into different categories?
Spell schools exist just to be an easy and intuitive sorting method for magic abilities (their success at this is arguable). It's just a game mechanic as abstract as hit points or alignment, so I find it best to not sweat the details too much.

So, I'd go for a sort of sorting that'll minimize the sweating of details:
Mind Magic: All the stuff affecting mind, brain, memory, senses or emotions.
Body Magic: All the stuff affecting physical bodies of creatures.
Soul Magic: All the fantasy stuff affecting creatures that doesn't fit into body or mind.
Summon Magic: Fireball also goes here.
Mystic Magic: Just throw whatever doesn't fit into the others in here.

You can be fancy and call them enchantment, transmutation, necromancy, conjuration if you want but those specific words have baggage. And you can also add categories like metamagic but I don't really see a valid reason for bloat.

digiman619
2016-10-29, 05:36 PM
Air: Spells that have the [Air] descriptor, spells that deal with vision & invisibility, spells that grant flight.

Earth: Spells with the [Earth] descriptor, spells that give DR or an armor bonus, spells that paralyze, slow, or impede movement.

Fire: Spells with the [Fire] descriptor, spells that increase speed or grant morale bonuses, spells that incite rage.

Water: Spells with the [Water] descriptor, spells that negate movement debuffs, spells that calm or remove mental effects.

It is a matter of legend that there may be a <final> sphere of magic. Sages and magi debate the possible nature of the <final> sphere. There is much disagreement.

It's Heart! How else do you expect to summon Captain Planet?

Nifft
2016-10-29, 07:50 PM
It's Heart! How else do you expect to summon Captain Planet?

What kind of lame power is Heart, anyway?

(Though I'd probably add a Green power source for the mysterious 10th sphere, for plant-themes spells and other druid stuff. That might be sufficiently eco-friendly to count as Captain Planet, but it would not have much heart.)

Yitzi
2016-10-29, 09:35 PM
Here's an idea I came up with, meant to be largely similar to the standard list but make more sense:

Abjuration: Magic that deals with other magic (so named because it is often used to protect against other magic). Contains such standards as dispel, antimagic, spell resistance, and anti-divination/anti-teleportation measures, but also includes things like permanency. More "ward"/protective-type things that are abjuration under the standard listing would be moved to other schools (depending on the exact effect they have/how they work), making it fairly small (but important due to the nature of its spells, and you can extend it with spells that grant metamagic effects to existing or yet-to-be-cast spells, etc.) Abjuration spells should allow for spell resistance, but usually target spells rather than creatures.

Conjuration: Magic related to time and space. Contains stuff relating to other planes (including all positive/negative energy spells), teleportation, telekinesis and anything that seems based on it, probably haste and slow, and even any epic-level time travel spells you decide to allow; the three main subschools are calling (anything from other planes, including bringing over positive/negative energy for cure/inflict/undead), teleportation (spacetime within a plane), and telekinesis (velocity of specific objects). Does not include spells that are conjuration(creation) under the standard listing; those are their own school (see below). Also, depending on how the "manifestation" aspect of summoning works, you may choose to put it under evocation instead (in which case it would become subject to spell resistance). Conjuration spells would usually allow for spell resistance, unless operating indirectly (e.g. hitting something with a magically propelled physical object.)

Creation: Turning magic into physical matter or energy. Pretty much corresponds to conjuration (creation) from the standard list, but you can add other energy types (cold, fire, maybe even electric, but stay away from force). Some things from evocation (e.g. light) might be moved here, depending on how they work...or you could even have a version for each (where the creation version does not allow for spell resistance and the evocation version does...but the evocation version would probably be more flexible). Creation spells should never allow for spell resistance.

Divination: Causing magic to be affected by the world instead of the other way around. Largely similar to the current list, though scrying effects could probably be done as conjuration instead (teleporting the light/sound from the target to your location instead of passing information magically; this would ignore normal anti-scrying abjurations, but would be blocked by teleportation-blocking measures as well as requiring you to know the location of your target and likely being a higher level for the same effect.) If using dual-schooling (see below), note that divination really only allows the spell to determine the information; you'd then need illusion (or maybe evocation or creation) if it creates a visible/audible effect, or enchantment if the caster just knows the information. Conditional spells would also have a divination component. Divination spells should allow for spell resistance, but scrying-type effects would technically act on the light (or sound) in the area of the target rather than the actual target for everything except finding the target.

Enchantment: The magic of affecting minds. Largely the same as in the standard, though it might also include many of the save-or-lose spells from necromancy (basically, anything that works by targeting the enemy's mind goes in enchantment, while anything that targets the enemy's life-force goes in necromancy). If using dual-schooling, it's also important for transmuters: Transmutation can turn your body into that of a dragon, but enchantment is what allows your mind to control the tail (installing the drivers to use a modern analogy), or to be able to fly without thinking about all the details. Enchantment should always allow for spell resistance.

Evocation: Forcing magic to act as energy or as solid "force fields" (or, more rarely, as matter). Largely similar to current evocation spells, but would also include force spells from other schools (assuming they work like "classic" force fields; if they instead exert a force in the sense used in physics, that would be conjuration). Evocation should always allow for spell resistance.

Illusion is removed; figments and glamers are typically evocation, creation, or transmutation (creating, cancelling, or modifying light, sound, etc.), patterns and phantasms are enchantment (with dual-schooling, patterns are both enchantment and either evocation or creation), and shadow spells are conjuration.

Necromancy still exists, as the manipulation of spirits and life-force...but with undead and negative energy spells moved to conjuration, and some of the other save-or-lose moved to enchantment, it's a significantly smaller school. (If you want to add non-positive-energy-based invigoration/non-physical healing spells, though, that's probably where it would go.) It should allow for spell resistance. (You can rename it vivomancy if you don't want to have a necromancy school that doesn't include undead creation.)

Transmutation is about changing the forms of physical objects. It loses some effects (mainly to conjuration), but mainly stays how it is in the standard list. It should allow for spell resistance by the thing being transmuted.

Dual-schooling: Some spells are made up of magic doing several fundamentally different things, and thus really use two schools. If you want to allow for this (instead of just using the primary effect), you'll have to decide how that interacts with all the things that make schools different.

So to decide what school a spell should go in, you'd have to figure out how it fundamentally works...which is some extra work, but will make for a much more consistent and sensible system (which seems to be your goal).

Nifft
2016-10-30, 07:13 AM
Magic: the Dragoning

Red: Spells that explode stuff, also fire and domination.

Blue: Spells that prevent stuff, also lightning and desert survival.

Green: Spells that summon stuff, also poison and plants.

White: Spells that support allies, also cold and underwater.

Black: Spells that make the people fall down, also acid and swamps.

Knight Magenta
2016-11-01, 03:31 PM
Magic: the Dragoning

Red: Spells that explode stuff, also fire and domination.

Blue: Spells that prevent stuff, also lightning and desert survival.

Green: Spells that summon stuff, also poison and plants.

White: Spells that support allies, also cold and underwater.

Black: Spells that make the people fall down, also acid and swamps.

Scrolled down looking for this :p Magic colors are both good and bad. There is (intentionally) overlap in MTG of many abilities. For example, fear is both red and black. Conceptually fear of death and fear of fire. This makes it hard to place all DnD spells.

I would add some really common spells to colorless, such as detect magic/read magic.

Nifft
2016-11-01, 05:26 PM
Scrolled down looking for this :p Magic colors are both good and bad. There is (intentionally) overlap in MTG of many abilities. For example, fear is both red and black. Conceptually fear of death and fear of fire. This makes it hard to place all DnD spells. Sure, but that's also a problem with the current system.

To use your example ("[Fear] effects"), we have Phantasmal Killer and Weird in core. Both are [Fear] effects, neither is in the Necromancy school.


I would add some really common spells to colorless, such as detect magic/read magic.
Makes sense.

GnomeWorks
2016-11-03, 12:40 AM
The latest revision of my mage class has the following schools:

Artifice is the art of manipulating magical energies and binding them to items, or otherwise manipulating the magics inherent in objects.
Conjury heals creatures, weave protections of both physical and magical natures, and can conjure obstructions and barriers.
Malediction is baleful magics, impeding creatures or harming them in subtle ways, or even calling forth the dead.
Sorcery is vulgar magics, powerful but obvious, with a wide variety of effects with clear applications.
Thaumaturgy deals with the direct manipulation of energies and the elements, primarily intended as a combat school.
Wizardry is subtle magics, a school whose effects are incredibly varied, which often require clever thinking to utilize to their fullest.

In general terms, thaumaturgy and conjury are the easiest schools to deal with as a player; thaumaturgy is all about combat and dealing damage or creating short-lasting battlefield control, while conjury is all about healing or otherwise protecting people.

Malediction and sorcery are a step up in complexity, malediction is basically a grab-bag of spells you'd more associate with standard d20 warlocks, necromancy, and curse-type stuff, while sorcery consists of things like fly and what-not that are spells that have pretty clear applications (but can also be used cleverly) that aren't immediately associated with a more specialized school.

Artifice and wizardry are the most complex to use; artifice has buffs and item enhancements, which can do a lot of weird things, while wizardry is mostly the weirder things you get in the core d20 spell list or things like scrying that have really open-ended effects that are really only useful if you know what you're doing, as a player, and like sorcery is a grab-bag of things that don't fit into a more specialized school.

Dusk Raven
2016-11-03, 03:11 AM
Scrolled down looking for this :p Magic colors are both good and bad. There is (intentionally) overlap in MTG of many abilities. For example, fear is both red and black. Conceptually fear of death and fear of fire. This makes it hard to place all DnD spells.

I would add some really common spells to colorless, such as detect magic/read magic.

I actually like MtG's color system, such that I've attempted (intentionally or otherwise) to base something off it. Perhaps it's because they've managed to hone it into an interesting philosophical system as well as a setting.

In any event, my first instinct with magic is to divide them according to the in-universe details of what they do. Not necessarily the best from a gaming standpoint, but I'm worldbuilder first and foremost, so that's how my mind works. It should be noted that the following infodump I'm about to give is from the perspective of a mechanical if unknown universe, where things don't have intrinsic meaning outside of their innate properties. It's possible to create a system of magic based on symbolism or what we would call subjective things and come up with something different, but that's not what I did because I didn't think of it - this is simply what my mind came up with first, left to its own devices.

Initially I had a list of schools, however what I wrote up turned out to be a first draft, and as I wrote I found I was getting closer to discovering what I really saw magic as. At this point, I've discovered that I view magic (at least for these purposes) as the manipulation of the various "essences" of the world - matter, energy, life force, souls, magic, and reality itself. Obviously, these can be altered depending on the setting - for instance, some might see life force as a sub-set of energy, souls, or matter, or a setting might not have distinct souls as we "recognize" them.

From there we go from what we are handling to what we are doing with it, which is either creating, altering/reassembling, destroying, or controlling, each of which has varying levels of difficulty depending on what you're trying to handle - it's easier to create energy than life, for instance, while magic might actually be easier to create than alter or control.

Now, these in and of themselves aren't necessarily "schools," they're "seeds," building blocks of spells. Schools come in where you need to take the theories and the equations and actually make them into workable spells, and schools can draw upon more than one of the combinations above. Flaming Sphere, for instance, both creates and controls energy. Illusion spells can appear to create energy, matter, and even souls, but require an influx of magic, or tight control, or their lack of essence means they cease to exist. And Divination spells are basically when you try to impart knowledge of the world to your mind, directly or indirectly. At this rate, the schools are looking to be more like tags than concrete divisions, sometimes overlapping.

If it sounds complicated, well, my opinion is that if something's worth thinking about, it's worth thinking about deeply. Of course it might also be a bit much because I'm a person who tends to go for the vague big picture rather than concrete details. But the reason I'm not posting them right now is because I don't have those details yet, and it's going to take even more time and thought than I've already given it.

ideasmith
2016-11-15, 11:27 PM
I came up with this set while planning a set of specialist sorcerers. (I came up with the names just now however.) For ease of use I reference existing schools and descriptors. There is a good deal of overlap: for example, speak with dead is both Knowledge and Mortality.

Alchemy: School: Evocation; Subschool: Creation; Descriptors: Acid, Earth, Fire

Domination: School: Enchantment; Subschools: Phantasm, Pattern; Descriptors: Fear, Mind-Affecting

Heraldry: Subschools: Calling, Summoning, Teleportation; Descriptors: Air, Electricity, Sonic, Water

Knowledge: School: Divination; Descriptors: Language-Dependent, Light

Mortality: School: Necromancy; Descriptors: Cold, Death

Shapeshifting: School: (Transmutation), only those spells that lack descriptors

Shelter: School: Abjuration ; Subschool: Healing; Descriptor: Force

Trickery: 'School': Universal; Subschools: Figments, Glamour, Shadow; Descriptors: Darkness

Vadskye
2016-11-16, 04:05 PM
Dusk Raven, I like your idea of "seeds". It captures something that I consider critical: blending schools (or tags, or seeds). Unfortunately, 3.5 sticks to a strict regime where every spell has a single school. That makes its system totally unable to adequately describe complex spell effects; I think the most egregious offender is Guards and Wards. That also gives rise, by necessity, to another problem with the existing spell divisions; the schools are largely differentiated by what they do, not how they do it.

However, I don't think the schools need to be thrown out entirely. You could certainly create a new system to break the schools down differently, and that could be fun, but by fixing the first two issues you can salvage quite a bit of usefulness out of the 3.5 schools. All you need to do is allow multi-school spells and define the schools more rigorously. Here's how I define them in my system:

Abjuration: Abjuration spells reduce or negate damage, magical power, and other effects.
Sample spells: Dispel Magic, Protection from Energy, Protection from (Alignment)
Sample spells which are no longer Abjuration: Alarm (now Divination), Shield (now Evocation), Stoneskin (now Transmutation)

Conjuration: Conjuration spells transport and create objects and creatures to aid you. They can also transport you and your allies elsewhere.
Note: Conjuration is not able to create things that aren't objects, like energy or force.
Sample spells: Blink, Dimension Door, Fog Cloud, Summon Monster
Sample spells which are no longer Conjuration: Cure Light Wounds (now Vivimancy), Mage Armor (now Evocation), Resurrection (now Vivimancy)

Divination: Divination spells grant knowledge in some form. It can grant knowledge of the past, the present, or the future, but it always grants knowledge.
Sample spells: Pretty much all Divination spells, Sending
Sample spells which are no longer Divination: Prying Eyes (now Conjuration/Divination)

Enchantment: Enchantment spells affect the minds of creatures, influencing or controlling their behavior or mental capabilities.
Sample spells: Pretty much all Enchantment spells, all Phantasm spells, Mind Blank
Sample spells which are no longer Enchantment: Demand (Now Divination/Enchantment), Mind Fog (Now Conjuration/Enchantment)

Evocation: Evocation spells create and manipulate energy, and use energy to manipulate the environment.
Sample spells: Standard "blow stuff up with energy" spells, Telekinesis, Control Weather, Mage Armor
Sample spells which are no longer Evocation: Sending (now Divination), Contingency (now Universal), Continual Flame (now Illusion)

Illusion: Illusion spells create and manipulate sensory effects. This includes both "real" effects, such creating light or making things invisible, and completely unreal effects, such as figments. (Creating an "Unreal" tag which is applied to effects that can be disbelieved is useful.)
Sample spells: Pretty much all Illusion spells, Light, Darkness
Sample spells which are no longer Illusion: all Phantasms (now Enchantment), Nightmare (now Divination/Enchantment), Shadow Evocation/Conjuration spells (no longer exist)

Transmutation: Transmutation spells change the properties of creatures and objects. They can grant new abilities, enhance existing abilities, change a target's form, or even alter the flow of time itself.
Sample spells: Enlarge Person, Haste, Stoneskin
Sample spells which are no longer Transmutation: Telekinesis (now Evocation), Control Weather (now Evocation), Mage's Lucubration (now Universal), Etherealness (now Conjuration)

Vivimancy: Vivimancy spells manipulate the power of life and death, as well as souls. Spells involving positive and negative energy also belong to this school.
Sample spells: Cure/Inflict Light Wounds, Animate Dead, Death Ward, Finger of Death, Resurrection
Sample spells which are no longer Vivimancy: Fear (now Enchantment), Contagion (now Transmutation), Astral Projection (now Conjuration)

When appropriately combined to create multi-school spells, I think you can fit all of the spells into these categories, while keeping each school internally consistent. There are a few spells that I just don't like conceptually that I threw out, such as Shadow Evocation, but if you really tried you could squeeze them in.

Does this system make sense? I could give more examples to clarify the intent of the schools, if that would be useful.

Morphic tide
2016-11-22, 04:24 PM
My interpretations of the schools is as follows:


Transmutation:
Altering objects and the physical world. This is where Polymorph and the X to Y spells go.

Offensively, it's making the wind into poison or making yourself or allies into lethal beasts. Defensively, it's making you ally's skin into stony armor and warping their wounds closed.

In utility, it's changing materials into other materials, you turn tangentially related trash into what is needed. Able to do almost anything, but it has to start with something, and the changes are visible.

You don't get Acid Splash, you get Wind to Poison. You don't get Resistance, you get Stoneskin. You don't get Create Food, you get Ashes to Oats.


Abjuration:
Mystic protections and countering other mystical forces. This is where Harden and Protection from X spells come in.

Offensively, you make areas that burn those not allowed atop your foes or deflect their attempts at harm back on them.

Defensively, you make your allies resistant to harm of many forms or make areas that the wicked, just, kind or mad cannot enter without exerting their will.

In utility, your protections can judge a man's worth or an area where falsehoods cannot be spoken.

You don't get Smite, you get Circle against Evil. You don't get Summon Monster, you get Dispel Magic. You don't get Thorns, you get Retribution.


Conjuration:
Creation of matter and calling of beings. This is where Summoning and Creation spells go.

Offensively, you summon aid to slay your foes or create weapons from magical force.

Defensively, you create walls and call upon forces from above, below, beside and beyond to guard you.

In utility, you can summon a workforce or make materials to build with.

You don't get Stoneshape, you get Wall of Stone. You don't get Create Undead, you get Summon Monster. You don't get Teleport, you get Mount.


Divination:
Seeing things beyond sight and working with the vague powers of fate. This is where Scrying, Curses and Boons come in.

Offensively, you force doom to be more likely for your foes and grant impossible understanding of how to strike.

Defensively, you make your allies fates more positive and give them a better understanding of how to avoid harm.

In utility, you can see things far away, learn of future events and directly tell whether or not a lie is spoken.

You don't get Circle of Truth, you get Discern Lies. You don't get Poison, you get Curse. You don't get Bull's Strength, you get Boon.


Enchantment:
Altering the thoughts of others and warping perceptions of a person. This is where Phantasm and Charm spells go.

Offensively, you make your foes see what isn't there and drive them mad with fear or rage.

Defensively, you make your allies bolder and make their minds think clearer.

In utility, you can make single people see you as more likable and force your own mind to be clearer and faster.

You don't get Curse, you get Madden. You don't get Glamour, you get Eagle's Splendor.


Evocation:
Creating and controlling nearly raw energy. This is where Fireball and Cure X Wounds go.

On the offencive, you sling fire and cover your weapons in lightning.

On the defensive, you make walls of energy and make short-lived Elementals.

In utility, you create short lived Elementals for labor or make scaffolding of force so more permanent structures can be made.

You don't get Summon Nature's Ally, you get Create Elemental. You don't get Acid Splash, you get Corrosive Smoke.


Illusion:
Altering and emulating the media used for senses. This is where Image and Shadow spells go.

On the offense, you intimitade foes and harm them with such strong mimicries of the senses that the true effects are brought about.

On the defense, you hide yourself and your allies while tricking your foes to hunt what isn't there.

In utility, you can make yourself appear as a more attractive other or make floors that only exist to those who believe in them.

You don't get Creation, you get Shadow Illusions. You don't get Alter Self, you get Glamour.

Necromancy
Manipulation of Life and Souls. This is where Transfer Life and Create Undead go.

Offensively, you rip the life out of foes and send armies of the dead to slay them.

Defensively, you give your live to heal your allies and call out the untapped power of their souls.

In utility, you can make the dead into a work force and have the lingering souls of the recently deceased tell you what-or who-killed them.

You don't get Cure X Wounds, you get Transfer X Wounds. You don't get Invisible Servant, you get Control Undead.

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Odd choices made:

Most of these are focused on the 'How' instead of the 'What.' That's because I think the schools of magic should all have access to some form of most of the things to be done. Abjuration is just too conseptually narrow for it to be offensive outside of buffs and droping exclusion zones on top of the enemy.

A lot of the example names are hypothetical home-brew, because more fitting spells don't have fitting names or don't exist.

Conventional Heal/Harm spells go in Evocation, because it's making energy from nothing. Meanwhile, Transmutation shapes the wounds closed and Necromancy is equivalent exchange.

Elementals are moved to Evocation, removing them from the Druid domain by implication. I mean, it could be that the Evocation version gets stronger ones or more of them at the cost of a narrower list or lasting less time, but Elementals are the building blocks of nature, not actual parts of it.

To count out thing the schools can do:

Transmutation:
Damage, healing, buffing, debuffing and field shaping

Abjuration:
Buffing, field shaping, information gathering and rule making

Conjuration:
Damage, summoning, information gathering and field shaping

Divination:
Damage, buffing, debuffing and information gathering

Enchantment:
Buffing, debuffing, information gathering and mind control

Evocation:
Damage, healing, buffing, field shaping and summoning

Illusion:
Damage, debuffing, field shaping and stealth

Necromancy:
Damage, healing, buffing, debuffing and summoning


Some of these effects are exclusive, but most are spread out a lot. It's safe to say that you can get almost anything done with any one or two schools, as it ought to be. Not having Transmutation or Conjuration ought not ruin the caster forever.

As for the limitations of the schools...

Transmutation:
Needs to have material to work with, often limited durations

Abjuration:
Needs to target a person or area, highly indiscriminate effects with restrictions on what they effect

Conjuration:
Low raw power or limited duration or high amounts of knowledge needed to properly (ab)use

Divination:
Limited variety of effects, highly focused

Enchantment:
Mind Affecting, limited variety of buffs and debuffs

Evocation:
Short or no lasting effect, biased towards powerful, brief effects, limited ability to use outside of intended purpose

Illusion:
Senses done one at a time to start with, only works as long as it's believed, damage and debuffs easily negated before full duration elapses

Necromancy:
Pricy, resource intensive, bad reputation