Project Arcana: Oh, Enchantment!


Don’t fall for it, Doc!

So, I mentioned in the Project Arcana discussion of the School of Illusion that, as a magic that works on the mind, Illusion is a close cousin to Enchantment. With that in mind, and feeling froggy, I decided to take a look at the School of Enchantment next. As we have in each of these discussions, let’s start by looking at what 5e feels encompasses the school.

Enchantment spells 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.

And, really, there’s not a lot of analysis to be done here. The first sentence contains all the meat: Enchantments work on the mind. The second sentence is just flavoring. It doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already suspect.

And a look at the list of spells shows that they adhere pretty closely to this ideal, with a couple of ridiculous outliers.

I feel like I’m taking CRAZY PILLS!

But when you start looking at it, you realize Enchantment has, what? Like only three spells, fer crissake! Compulsion? Geas? Enthrall? They’re all the same spell! Doesn’t anyone else notice this?

There’s certainly nothing to complain about as far as the spells generally staying with the description, but that’s because there’s not a lot of variety. The School of Enchantment has three forms that cover its spell effects: Attitude Adjustments, Onerous Assignments, and Internal Interferences.

Attitude Adjustments are spells such as Animal Friendship (1), and Charm Person (1). This covers the “…make enemies see the caster as a friend…” aspects of Enchantment. There are, by our reckoning, five spells that fall into this category.

Onerous Assignments is a big form with 12 spells that falls into “…force creatures to take a course of action…”. Tasha’s Hideous Laughter (1) and Otto’s Irresistible Dance (6) are in this group.

And, finally, for “or even control another creature like a puppet.” we have a form we’re calling Internal Interferences, because these spells interrupt or influence control of the muscles. There are 11 of these, including Sleep (1) and Power Word Kill (9).

As mentioned above, there are a few oddballs that are basically Enchantments, but with slight quirks that make them not quite right. And we wouldn’t be doing this reorganization if there weren’t a couple that clearly belong to other schools. In this case, we have Bless (1), and Hex (5), which are obviously misplaced Divine and Necromancy spells (respectively). And Crown of Madness (2) with its visible crown is clearly drifting well into Illusion territory, although the other effects of that spell are well within the School of Enchantment.

I really wanted to write more and do a nice, in-depth analysis of the School of Enchantment. But, as I mentioned above, there really isn’t a lot going on in this school. Most of the spells in each of the three forms are really the same spell. There is no practical difference between Tasha’s Hideous Laughter and Otto’s Irresistible Dance.

However, Enchantment is still a very powerful school. Any magic that can directly affect the mind can’t help but be powerful. In the next installment, I’ll talk more about the three spell forms and the spells that fall into each.