Back to School

June 7, 2017

So, the hard part. The real hard part. Schools.

Why are schools important? Well, look at literally all of D&D’s history – schools of magic have influenced what any magician can do as well as what they do well or poorly. This goes even to those that echew schools, like Mages, Warlocks, and Sorcerers. So schools must be addressed in any rewrite.

The problem is schools are so slapdash as a design element that they are nearly impossible to do without just adopting the bad system that already exists.

So I’m gonna have to change them a lot.

So, the schools we have are Abjuration (shielding, protecting), Conjuration (making stuff), Divination (knowing stuff), Enchantment (making ephemeral effects, tricking people), Evocation (energy stuff), Illusion (making fake stuff), Necromancy (dead stuff, one way or the other), Transmutation (changing stuff), and “Universal” (anything that doesn’t fit anywhere else).

There are also other “schools”, namely the Warlock’s patrons. Dark (demons), Fey (faeries and other sylvan types), Infernal (devils – yes, they’re different), and Star (outerspace old ones like Cthulhu). There are some other weird design eddies that have their own lists, this is especially common with things like Orientalized classes (such as the Far East/Oriental Adventures/Rokugan classes), but this is more due to flavor racism than actual design. Something I’m jetisoning right away.

So, Arcane casters will need schools. These schools will also be changed as necessary in order to fit the flavor of the class without affecting the classes before them or down the line. That means a couple things; the Arcanist base class cannot use schools per se, that the branching classes off of it need to start schools, and that schools need to be distinct. There’s going to be two classes I work on first because of this; Warlock and Wizard.

The Warlock’s schools will be distinct from each other and will have their own flavor. I’ll also be adding to them from the original archetypes. The Pacts offered will be Dark (or Evil) for both devils and demons, Light (or Good) for good-aligned Outsiders like Solars or good-aligned Gods making deals, Fey (for Faeries and other Sylvan creatures), Star (for Outsiders of arcane and hoary origin), Elemental (for pacts with beings of pure fire, water, wind, etc), Order (for beings of Law), and Chaos (for, well, beings of Chaos). I think this covers all D&D Outsider archetypes in one way or another (let me know if I missed something) and all of these spell lists/archetypes will be exclusive – if you have one, you can’t have any of the others. Because of this there will be a lot of overlap in one way or another. LIke Light, Dark, Fey, Star, and Chaos may all touch on necromantic spell forms but they do so differently – Light focused on healing and resurection, Dark on harming, Fey on natural cycles, Star on power, and Chaos on undeath.

The Wizard’s schools will be more rooted in the older schools and will have exclusionary forms based on a star shape.

magic school

The schools that are across the octogram are opposed – students dedicated to one school cannot use spells or spellforms from the opposition school. The two closest to them, though, are easier to understand and students get a slight discount on learning spells and spell forms from those schools. The greatest discount, though, is their own school, which they get bonuses from. The study of magic is going to be known simply as “Thaumaturgy”, and things that would have been “Universal” will now be “Thaumaturgical” and will include everything form very basic spells to meta-magic abilities.

When an Arcanist first creates their character, they are by default a Thaumaturgist. All Arcanists can use Thaumaturgical spell forms and perks. When they Specialize into their “Core Class” at level 3, they choose a school from either the Wizard School or the Warlock Pacts. I’m considering having a specialized Thaumaturge path as well that doesn’t get any discounts but can use all Wizard schools and delves deeper into understanding magic itself.

Next time, what “spell forms” are and how magic is going to be written up.

Told you this was a headache.

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