I don’t remember if I stated my intent with this series of magic school revisions. If I have, I guess this will just be review. Or maybe I’ll say something new!

Some time in the last year or two, I believe I read something of Jeffro’s that commented on the overabundance of spells in D&D clones, or… something to that effect.

What actually stuck with me was uh, I think it was a challenge he stated, “to create a magic system with fewer than 100 spells.” It’s remained in the back of my mind for a while.

I mean really, I’ve thought about it.

I’ve plotted out different schools and hierarchies of spells that I thought were important, necessary, iconic, and/or fun… a bunch of times. I’ve compared lists between different editions, different games, even different genres.

In general, I think D&D (in particular) has moved away from some of its more compelling low-level spells that help define low-level play for Wizards. Reading about the history of Read Magic over at Cirsova has gotten me thinking about this in more ways than one.

Here and there however, I think Wizards of the Coast has introduced a spell or five that really did improve the overall tone and uh, magic system. In general.

But there were loads and loads of extraneous spells that just… did not matter, and kept getting ported over to the next edition (often with little in the way of revision).

Why fix what isn’t broken, right?


So, part of my goal has been to cut something like two-thirds of pretty much all spells. Get it down from the two hundred fifty to three hundred something spells that appear in 5e (I did an estimate weeks ago and I’ve already forgotten) to like, a hundred.

Well, maybe a little more than a hundred.

See, because there are a few other things I want to use the magic system to do.

Back when I posted my revised abjuration school, I included Turn Undead as a spell. Among other things, I want to make the spell list UNIVERSAL so that anyone who is open to learning spells can make use of them. But I also want to make each school of magic punchy and diverse and interesting.

In some ways, that means broadening the original scope of the school (like Divination, which really needed some better concrete effects), and in some cases, that meant actually NARROWING the scope of a school.

When I post my Evocation school, you’ll notice it uses all of about… three, maybe? Energy types. I think the only energy types my Evocation school deals are Thunder, Lightning, and Force.

But there’s further reasons for this!

See, I’m also preparing to roll out my massive character archetype/class system that has been in limbo for like, a bazillion years. And that requires me to finish the magic system to the extent that I can begin writing spell-like abilities into the classes.

The magic system therefore needs to be uh… “archetypal” enough that nearly any class could draw from it, while also being varied and interesting enough to make pretty much any school a Wizard might specialize in viable for play.

One of the things I’m DEFINITELY bringing back is the Wizard’s “one spell per level” approach to spellbook development. Oh sure, you can always add more spells by looting spellbooks or paying to copy them over, but as far as class features are concerned… you develop one new spell per level.

And for that reason, all those spells pretty much have to be winners.

There’s a caveat to that too, of course, which is that I will be incorporating 5e-style cantrips and the Wizard will get a couple of them, at least. There are way fewer attack cantrips though, which means you still might not be the mean, magical beast in combat that you always wanted to be.

But there’s more!

There are some druid spells which it seems they’ve been holding out, I mean… away from Wizards for the last couple editions, which seem so essential I wonder why they were druid-exclusive for such a long time.

Spells like Warp Wood, Heat Metal, and/or Rusting Grasp, which may vacillate between classes but are super-important to crippling the martial capabilities of classes like Rangers, Fighters, and Paladins… which as of 5e tend to pretty well outshine the magic-users whose names don’t rhyme with MORLOCK.

So, what moved since I posted those original lists?

Atonement took on the additional powers of Restoration–not pictured in the post, because it isn’t done, please forgive me–and it moved from Abjuration to Divination.

Planar Binding moved back from 6th-level Conjuration to 5th-level Abjuration where it was in 5th edition. It fits better in Abjuration, with the theming and everything.

Symbol, which I originally planned for Divination, moved back into Abjuration, displacing Reverse Gravity. I don’t know if Reverse Gravity will make it back onto the spell list. Sadface. Symbol just fit better, what with Magic Circle and all the ‘menu options’ available to other high-level Abjuration effects.

Magic Jar moved into the 6th-level void in Conjuration made when Planar Binding moved to Abjuration. I like Magic Jar but I don’t really feel that it fits in Necromancy. Magic Jar is important because it serves as the basis for “possession”-type powers which are otherwise sadly underrepresented in D&D. I might update Turn Undead to include exorcism.

Those are the big ones, but they’re BIG changes. In almost all cases, I think they strengthen their respective schools in their new locations. And I don’t miss Reverse Gravity that much.

Maybe just a little.

The next schools I have outlined (just waiting for transcription) are Evocation, Alteration, and Teleportation. I have three others which are… less important. But those are Artifice, Summoning, and Metamagic.