A while back, I asked for help on choosing arcane traditions for the Wizard for the Dragon Heresy RPG. I created four schools of magic – doors, essences, might, and mischief, which are themselves combinations of two of the spell types from SRD5.1.
Since the game’s launching zone is Norse-flavored, the schools are flavored by futhark runes, with the following associations:
- Algiz (Abjuration). The rune magic of Algiz is protective in nature, though some spells have aggressive uses. They create magical barriers, negate harmful effects, harm trespassers, or banish creatures to other planes of existence. The rune Algiz means protection, or a shield, used defensively.
- Ansuz (Divination). The magic focused through the Ansuz rune reveals information, whether in the form of secrets long forgotten, glimpses of the future, the locations of hidden things, the truth behind illusions, or visions of distant people or places. The meaning of Ansuz is a revealing message or insight, and (not coincidentally) is also the rune of Woden, who specializes in far-seeing and deep knowledge.
- Dagaz (Illusion). The rune magic of Dagaz is invoked to deceive the senses or minds of others. These spells cause people to see things that are not there, to miss things that are there, to hear phantom 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 in the mind of a creature. The meaning of Dagaz includes both awareness and blindness.
- Ehwaz (Conjuration). The spells of Ehwaz 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 Ehwazs create objects or effects out of nothing. The rune Ehwaz represents a horse or horses, and connotes travel and journeys.
- Gebo (Transmutation). Spells invoked with the knowledge gained through study of the Gebo rune change the properties of a creature, object, or environment. They might turn an enemy into a harmless creature, bolster the strength of an ally, make an object move at the caster’s command, or enhance a creature’s innate healing abilities to rapidly recover from injury. Gebo has the connotation of a gift, sacrifice, or fair exchange – giving up one thing to gain another of equal or higher value.
- Jera (Necromancy). The rune Jera signifies the life cycle and the harvest. Jeran spells manipulate the energies of life and death. Such spells can grant an extra reserve of life force, drain the life energy from another creature, create the undead, or even bring the dead back to life. A complicated rune, Jera’s association with necromancy is only part of its meaning, and the rune magic of Jera includes birth, life, death, and life-from-death (which can be as broad as ‘resurrection’ but is also ‘fertilizer’). Creating undead through the use of Jeran rune magic is not a good act, and only neutral or evil casters use such spells frequently.
- Mannaz (Enchantment). Spells cast with the Mannaz rune 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. Mannaz means “mankind” or “people,” and has a particular connotation relating to the attitudes of others to you and relationships in general.
- Thurisaz (Evocation). The primal energy of magic, the directed force of destruction and defense, is symbolized by Thurisaz. Such spells manipulate magical energy to produce a desired effect. Some call up blasts of fire or lightning. Others channel positive energy to heal wounds. Thurisaz has many connotations, all of which derive from power used with consciousness and wisdom in matters that must be resolved using force, violence, or physical compulsion.
With that introduction, I wanted to list out the current ideas for the schools of magic, to provoke comment and discussion. Appropriate abilities per level are a bit of an art form, so a broad commentary will save angst later. Any and all commentary is appreciated, especially suggestions to modify or replace abilities.
One caveat: this will be an OGL/SRD5.1 game, so avoiding abilities from official material is a good thing. Not only for the usual reasons, but keeping the flavor of the game unique makes it more interesting!
The study of wizardry is ancient, stretching back to the earliest mortal discoveries of magic. It is firmly established in fantasy gaming worlds, with various traditions dedicated to its complex study.
The most common arcane traditions in the multiverse revolve around the schools of magic. Wizards through the ages have cataloged thousands of spells, grouping them into eight categories called schools. In some places, these traditions are literally schools; a wizard might study at the School of Illusion while another studies across town at the School of Mannaz rune. In other institutions, the schools are more like academic departments, with rival faculties competing for students and funding. Even wizards who train apprentices in the solitude of their own towers use the division of magic into schools as a learning device, since the spells of each school require mastery of different techniques.
No matter which tradition you select at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to copy spells with the runes incorporated by that tradition into your spellbook are halved.
SCHOOL OF MIGHT
You focus your study on magic that creates powerful elemental effects such as bitter cold, searing flame, rolling thunder, crackling lightning, and burning acid, and specializes in both aggressive (thurisaz) and defensive (algiz) magic. Some from the school of might find employment in military forces, serving as artillery to blast enemy armies from afar. Others use their spectacular power to protect the weak, while some seek their own gain as bandits, adventurers, or aspiring tyrants.
Beginning at 2nd level, you can create pockets of relative safety within the effects of your spells. When you cast a thurisaz spell that affects other creatures that you can see, you can choose a number of them equal to 1 + the spell’s level. The chosen creatures automatically succeed on their saving throws against the spell, and they take no damage if they would normally take half damage on a successful save.
Starting at 6th level, your understanding of the protection runes has grown such that you may create a magical barrier, which can absorb any kind of damage by absorbing wounds or vigor caused by the attack. You may absorb damage up to your wizard level plus your Intelligence modifier. You may divide this protection among any number of targets within 30’ of your position, including yourself.
The ward can be replenished so long as it has even a single point of protection remaining, either by casting an algiz-rune spell (which increases the strength of the ward by an amount equal to the spell’s level) or by spending a spell slot simply to repower the ward, which adds points equal to triple the spell’s level.
Beginning at 10th level, you can add your Intelligence modifier to one damage roll of any spell with the thurisaz or algiz rune that you cast, or boost the defensive abilities of a magical shield by the same amount.
Starting at 14th level, your abilities to channel your spells’ energies has increased to the point where you halve the damage resistance of any defenses in place. This includes magical defenses (spell-based shields and arcane wards) as well as non-magical barriers (armor). This only works on spells up to 3rd level.