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I have been noodling about a story I might write. The story's main character will be a Diviner, follower of Savras in a convoluted way.

Doing some research on the D+D specialist choice, the Opposing Schools of Magic have me a bit confused.

Of the 8 schools of Magic, the 2 that seem the most in opposition are Divination and Illusion. I get the whole Lesser Divination (4th level and below) are available to all Mage Kin. But how/why would Conjuration and Divination be opposed?

Illusion vs Necromancy seems to have no real practical basis either. How are Enchantment and Necromancy not opposed? Undead are generally immune to Arcane Mind Manipulation.

I get Alteration and Abjuration, that's logical. Change vs. Protection.

Leaving Conjuration and Invocation/Evocation. A case can be made for opposition as CON moves stuff but EVO/INV creates stuff out of nothing.

I am confused about the published materials as a Specialist Diviner is barred from the good travel spells (Teleport, Gate and the like) and I don't see the rationalization. Why would a DIV be able to have full access to spells that obscure the truth? Seems like a glitch in the creation.

Anyone in Realms Space have the Origin story of School Opposition or a publication other than the PHB that could shed light on my confusion?

Thanks for the support in advance, Excelsior!!

unsigned post by 21:27, 1 May 2021 (UTC)

Greetings! What an interesting question.

I think you're taking the name a little too literally. What makes you think that "opposing schools of magic" are supposed to be opposed to each other in terms of pure metaphysics? They are opposing because they are opposite on the arbitrary schools diagram. I'm assuming you're taking about 2nd edition, so I'll try and explain why in those terms.

We can get an idea as to why certain schools of magic oppose each other in the The Complete Wizard's Handbook, and it is more to do with balance and ability overlap than metaphysics. "The choice of ... oppositional schools is somewhat arbitrary, but remember that we not only strive for balance, but also for schools with unique advantages and restrictions. The DM always has the option to invent a rationale for the existence of specific oppositional schools. For instance, the energies employed by conjuration/summoning and abjuration magic might induce agonizing headaches in a transfigurist, making it impossible for him to learn spells from those schools."

A lot of this changed in 3rd edition, and some source material even provides explanations as to why some schools were generally opposed to others.[note 1]

"Illusion vs Necromancy seems to have no real practical basis either"

From Tome of Magic in regards to prohibited schools: "As an illusionist... necromancy is perhaps the next logical choice, since the schools have some overlap with spells that frighten their subject."

TL;DR: It's more about maintaining balance, avoiding overlapping abilities and how they are learned and used, rather than opposition on a "practical", natural, or metaphysical basis. This is explained a bit further in Dragon magazine 163.[note 2]


  1. In this edition, one could essentially choose which schools that were prohibited (to a degree). A lot of this is more philosophical in terms of opposition, and some may say the 3rd edition rules make more sense than the 2nd edition rules in this case. You can read the sourcebooks for more information. Note that there were changes from 3e to 3.5e as well.
  2. No two schools of magic are mutually hostile due to their natures; opposition arises from how the spells are learned and used. Specialist wizards employ methods of study and mental discipline that enhance their abilities to use certain types of magic and erode their aptitudes for others. This is why generalists can freely use magic from opposing schools while specialists cannot. Specific pairs of opposed schools were selected according to common sense and game balance. For example, if invokers spend a lot of time learning how to bring things into being from nothing, they probably neglect to learn how to call things from one place to another. Illusionists, who spend their time trying to create believable unrealities, have a hard time casting magic that produces and channels real energies; there are three such schools: invocation/evocation, necromancy, and abjuration.
Possessed Priest (talk) 00:41, 2 May 2021 (UTC)