So, we’ve finished analyzing the individual schools, now what? We’re going to finish Phase I by completely reorganizing the spells in each school based on the underlying magical mechanism of that school (i.e.: Life = Vitae, Energy = Evocation, Mind = Enchantment, etc.). So, we need to start building the actual spell lists. To that end, we begin again with Abjuration!
When I first wrote the Abjuration article oh-so-long ago, it was the true launching pad for Project Arcana, and we had not decided on many aspects of the project yet. For example, we hadn’t quite settled on basing it on mechanics, and our elegant “three form” structure wasn’t a thing; so there’s no mention of it in there. We’ll clear that up here.
As it happens, Abjuration is going to take a slightly different path than we originally thought. ‘Abjuration’ means to cancel things, which is one use of the school, but the underlying mechanics do so much more. Project Arcana considers Abjuration to be foundational magic, central to magic as a whole and available to all spellcasters. Like Vitae, we’ve decided that the school needs a new name to reflect this.
So we need to be firm on a couple things.
- It won’t have three forms, because we’ve only identified two focus areas.
- We’re renaming it “Neutrum” to reflect its neutral position with regard to other schools.
These spell list articles will all follow the same general format. All of this is subject to reassessment before the final Phase I PDF is ready, so that will be the definitive text on the matter when completed.
Neutrum – the Magic of Magic These spells act on magic itself, by enhancing, diminishing, dispelling, or preventing its use, or by imbuing it into an object or granting it to another creature.
Nullification – Spells in this form nullify magical energies. These spells can dispel existing magical effects or prevent them from being cast at all.
Connection – Spells in this form connect magical energy to the physical world or between schools of magic. These spells can create magical traps, imbue magic into otherwise mundane objects, and create the most complex magical effects.
The Neutrum spell list
Spells denoted with an asterisk(*) have notes below the table.
|Antimagic Field||Contingency (Evocation)|
|Counterspell||Druidcraft ** (*Transmutation)|
|Dispel Magic||Glyph of Warding|
|Forbiddance||Magic Weapon (*Transmutation)|
|Globe of Invulnerability||Prestidigitation ** (*Transmutation)|
|Mind Blank||Shillelagh (*Transmutation)|
|Mordekainen's Private Sanctum||Thaumaturgy ** (*Transmutation)|
|Nystul's Magic Aura (*Illusion)|
|Circle of Power|
** Druidcraft, Prestidigitation, and Thaumaturgy are included in Neutrum as 'training spells' with minor effects from many schools that any caster can learn.
Alarm Here we have an example of a spell linking magic to the world. This type of magic allows the caster to do things like set specific conditions for an effect to execute. This same mechanic is part of Magic Mouth, Glyph of Warding, and Symbol.
Guards and Wards This is a very complex spell which takes effects from several schools and connects them to an area. This may be quintessential Connection magic right here.
Planar Binding Binding another being’s magical energies to you is connective magic.
Spells Moved to Neutrum
Contingency I’m not sure why this was in Evocation other than someone simply didn’t have anywhere else to put it. This takes another spell available to the caster from any school, and stores it for quick-fire later. That’s a magical effect on another spell. Neutrum.
Druidrcraft All of these little “fun doodads” cantrips belong here (Prestidigitation, Thaumaturgy) as they are surprisingly complex little spells. As intended, these are little effects which casters use to practice magic, making them excellent candidates for Neutrum, which is foundational magic.
Elemental Weapon Though we are imbuing elemental energy (an Evocation trick), the fact that we are filling the weapon with magic is the overwhelmingly dominate aspect of this spell. That aspect places it in Neutrum.
Magic Weapon Imbuing magic into a weapon is Neutrum.
Nystul’s Magic Aura Ugh, this spell caused Dad massive nerdrage. He’s not wrong; the idea that this is Illusion is just plain silly. In one sense, we have a spell which defeats scrying (Nullifying magic? Neutrum.). In another, we have a spell which can trick other spells (Magic affecting magic? Neutrum.).
Prestidigitation See Druidcraft above.
Shillelagh Imbuing a mundane quarterstaff or club with magic is Neutrum.
Thaumaturgy See Druidcraft above.
Wish This one stumped us for a time, but we finally settled on Neutrum. Again, this school represents foundational magic. Wish, in its usual form, can recreate any level 8 spell from any school. So, in effect, we have a summoning of magical energy so pure that it is formless, allowing it to adopt the guise of any aspect of magic. It is the very incarnation of the magic which underlies all other magic. It is therefore the epitome of Neutrum.
Spells Removed from Neutrum
One of the more difficult discussions we had and decisions we made (There was a fight. There’s always a fight.) was to drop the basic ‘protection’ aspect of Abjuration in favor of the underlying ‘magic of magic’ mechanic. This meant that the many spells that were in this school because of their ‘protective’ aspects (which I skewered in the original Abjuration article) had to find other homes. Once we accepted that, it was surprisingly easy to divvy up these spells based on what they affect.
Aid This spell grants temporary hit points, and nothing more. Though the spell describes bolstering allies “with toughness and resolve,” it does little else than grant them some extra HP. We’re tentatively throwing this to Vitae, though an argument could be made for Transmutation. Definitely not Neutrum.
Antilife Shell This does not actually act on any magic at all, but rather on life. The “magic of life” is Vitae
Arcane Lock Clearly an Evocation, as force is holding a door shut.
Armor of Agathys Again, we have a clear Evocation as the target is covered in a layer of bitterly cold frost.
Aura of Life An aura which prevents loss of life and negates necrotic damage? This is textbook Vitae.
Aura of Purity We’re suggesting that purifying things would be a form of Transmutation (much like Purify Food and Drink).
Banishing Smite Yeah, we’re going to put all of these Smite spells into Divinus because the gods just do whatever they damn well please.
Banishment Clearly Conjuration.
Beacon of Hope Mention of “hope” aside, this spell grants healing and prevents death. Vitae.
Blade Ward This one actually threw us a bit, but we finally settled on Divination. The problem here is that it grants resistance to physical damage from weapon attacks only, not from other sources. Guy stabs you, half damage. Trip and fall onto something pointy, full damage. With that sort of “intent” in mind, this spell is either A) a very very brief insight into the future, like a Spidey-Sense, or B) a telepathic reading of the intentions of those around you, allowing you to respond to their attacks more effectively. In either case, those are both forms of Divination, so that’s where it’s going.
Death Ward So clearly Vitae.
Dispel Evil and Good Good and Evil are not magical concepts, they are metaphysical ones. We’re going to leave good and evil strictly up to the gods. So, Divinus.
Freedom of Movement This one is going to Transmutation as it basically makes the target more limber and surefooted.
Greater Restoration These are pretty tricky spells, because they have several effects. We figured the greater effect of these were the curse, ability score, and HP effects. To that end, we’ve tentatively slotted this in VItae.
Holy Aura Divinus. Meddling gods…
Imprisonment Because of the teleporting around and whatnot, we’ve put this in Conjuration.
Lesser Restoration Cures disease, which is Vitae. See Greater above.
Mage Armor A magical force deflects attacks. That’s Evocation.
Magic Circle This one gave us some trouble, but we finally settled on Enchantment. In effect, the affected creatures are convinced that they cannot cross the circle in their actual minds. This explains why a creature can’t willingly cross it, but can be forcefully so.
Pass without Trace Another tricky one, but we finally decided Evocation. Effectively, a magical force is surrounding the targets which gently displaces and replaces the environment as they pass. This also explains the obscuring effect, which may appear to be “shadows,” but is just a color effect.
Prismatic Wall So obviously Evocation, it’s almost painful.
Protection from Energy This is going to Evocation as it is a dampening of energy by the use of magic.
Protection from Evil and Good Good and Evil again. Divinus.
Protection from Poison This is Transmutation as the harmful poison is converted to something harmless.
Resistance Tentatively Transmutation as, it seems to us, that this spell just makes you a quicker thinker in response to danger.
Sanctuary Here we have an Enchantment, because the creature is convinced it can’t attack you.
Shield Another force-derived protection. Evocation.
Shield of Faith We’ll throw this into Divinus.
Stoneskin Clearly a Transmutation as it literally turns ones skin as hard as stone. Hell, Barkskin is already over there.
Possible Additional Spells for Neutrum
Now that we’ve laid out the mechanic for Neutrum, it would be pointless and cruel if we didn’t come up with a couple of spell ideas. We want to reinforce the PA concept of working with the mechanics of the magic, instead of working with the effects. These are just ideas we had, so they aren’t rigorously playtested.
Grant – Level 1 Connective Neutrum
Range 60 ft, 1 bonus action
When cast, choose either a caster or a non-caster. If you choose a caster, you spend one spell slot that you still have available for the day and that caster gains an additional spell slot of the same level for the day. This slot is lost if not used before completing a long rest. This spell slot must be of a level the target caster can use. If you choose a non-caster, you spend one spell slot that you still have available for the day to cast a spell you have prepared. The target gains one use of that spell. This spell is lost if not cast before completing a long rest.
Deny – Level 2 Nullifying Neutrum
Range 60 ft, 1 action
When cast, target a caster. That target makes a save against your Spell Save DC using their spellcasting ability (in the case of multiple abilities available, use the best). On a failed save, you spend one slot you still have available for the day. The target loses available spell slots which total up to the spell slot you spent in this fashion, starting with the largest available. For example, if you spend a level 3 slot, the target must lose a level 3 slot if available, or a level 2 and a level 1. If the target does not have enough slots to lose in this manner, he loses whatever he has available, even if it’s none.
There you have it: Abjur… Neutrum! Project Arcana’s first revised School of Magic is complete. Neutrum was especially interesting because of the refinements in the goals of the project that happened after it posted. But, that’s the nature of a work in progress. And, of course, we’re not done yet. So, there may yet be surprises in store – for us as well as for you.
And, please, if you have ideas or opinions, post a comment here or on Facebook. We may be super, super smart, but we don’t know everything. We will give every serious idea serious consideration. And, who knows, your post could make a serious impact on PA!