[5e] Which Wizard school gets the rawest deal?


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I feel like there could be some merit to attempting to make a necromancer into a tank. False Life and Vampiric Touch seem like they are pushing you in that direction.

Too bad you'll be fighting the basic idea of being a wizard every step along the way. And your powers are basically worthless against a lot of monsters, because screw you.


mailed a second mongoose
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Last night I sat down with the PHB and put together a spreadsheet organized by school and level. (I'm at work now, but I can post it on Google Docs and put up the link later.) It becomes clear pretty quickly that necromancers get kinda boned, and enchantment begins to climb the ranks when you put it in context--still behind Conjuration, Evocation, and Transmutation for selection, but it's got good L1 and L2 choices as well as good high-level ones.

EDIT: Xanathar's tries to redress that balance--it adds a lot of necromancy spells, including a decent combat cantrip in Toll of the Dead.


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When you combine spell selection and special school abilities, which one has the least to offer? I suspect Enchantment will be a strong contender, but I haven't done the research to back that up.
The simple answer is that there's not going to be one answer. I will say, Enchantment spells in general do not work as a I think a lot of people expected them to work, nor how they imagine an enchantment-focused caster (Enchanter, Bard, or otherwise) to work. So from that perspective, a lot of people with specific ideas for their enchantment-based characters got a vaguely raw deal.

That said, enchanters still get an incredible amount of power. It's just that a lot of the lower-level deception/control spells only really work as short term 'convince the guards to let you pass, minutes later they know they've been tricked' manners, which is not what you might want to do with them (hope you had Disguise Self up as well).

Enchantment and Illusion, in general (and for all editions) are both the strongest and weakest schools in the game, in that they can do almost anything (at least so far as things within the powers of your opponents, as you can turn your most hated enemy into a unwilling or unwitting ally), yet they also often do nearly nothing, since both schools effectively require the DM to gatekeep the effects (and a 100% lenient DM basically gives you the game, meaning that the DM pretty much 'has' to do the gatekeeping).

How common is true sight though?
Compared to other editions, negligible. Seems like half the monsters in 3e got it for free after a certain level/CR. Now, it competes with concentration for spellcasters and only the biggest and baddest of outsiders have it up naturally.

Keeping animate dead up isn't too bad - the skeleton army thing is impractical for most general adventuring, so you're probably not having more than 10 around at best.
Now conjuration, that's worth considering, given how few times I hear people advocating for summoning, well, anything in 5e.
Minion-mancy in general is not-advocated for reasons other than effectiveness: increasing the number of creatures on the battlefield is an immense advantage to the side with the numeric advantage, but it slows combat down considerably. Those 10 skeletons are devastating... except that the opposition knows that and fireballs them round #1, but then the DM feels constrained to have to set up encounters with opponents who can do that first round fireball (meanwhile the necromancer feels picked on), and thus people stop playing with animated skeletons. Same with summoned monsters.


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That said, enchanters still get an incredible amount of power. It's just that a lot of the lower-level deception/control spells only really work as short term 'convince the guards to let you pass, minutes later they know they've been tricked' manners, which is not what you might want to do with them (hope you had Disguise Self up as well).
This not necessarily a bad or unrealistic thing. A close watch of Star Wars shows the stormtroopers Obi-wan used the Jedi mind trick on beginning to argue amongst themselves over letting the droids go even as Luke drives off. Troopers are then seen asking around Mos Eisley, but it is not until the Falcon blasts its way out of docking bay 94 that the jig is really up.

So those guards might not immediately raise the full alert. Especially if they don't want it known that they were the ones who let the enchanter pass. But that is question of the DM chooses to role-play the situation. It just as easily be that the guards not only raise the intruder alarm but put it out the intruder is an enchanter. Cue active anti-magic defenses.


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There seems to be kind of a conflation between school and arcane tradition in this discussion, but I think that's a mistake.

Some schools of magic have more strong spells than others. That's not the same thing as a school-focused arcane tradition getting a "raw deal" just because their school of magic is weaker, though. There are no barred schools; a wizard is still a wizard. A school-focused arcane tradition will let you get more "oomph" out of specific spells in your school, plus usually other abilities that aren't tied to spells at all, but the relative power of your specialty school compared to other schools doesn't matter all that much.


Hail Tzeentch!
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Illusionists get massively powerful once they hit the class ability to make an illusion real for an hour. Combine that with being able to reshape illusions and the spell Hallucinatory Terrain, and you can imprison any troublesome monster in, oh... a completely sealed granite egg 50-ft thick? And then either run for it or wait for it to run out of air. Granted, it's a high-level ability, but the spell lasts an entire day and I don't think there's a limit for how often you can make things real. For the cost of a 4-th lvl spell slot an Illusionist can control the terrain the party fights on for the rest of the day.


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Well, while being a <foo> specialist doesn't mean you can't cast every other spell, most arcane traditions get at least ONE area in which, by virtue of being a <foo> specialist, they can cast certain <foo> spells better than anyone else.

Abjurers get a damage absorb shield, are good at dispelling magic, and saving against spells.
Conjurers can summon mundane equipment, teleport, can summon tougher creatures, and can't have their conjuration-concentration broken.
Diviners get to mess with d20s (fun!), recover spell slots for casting divinations, and have enhanced senses.
Enchanters can trade actions to charm stuff, cause enemies to attack someone else, enchant two creatures at once, and mindwipe creatures they've charmed.
Evokers can avoid fireballing their friends, do more damage with (some) cantrips, do more damage with fireballs, and max damage with fireballs.
Illusionists get a better illusion cantrip, can manipulate illusions, trick people into attacking an illusion, and TURN AN ILLUSION REAL (for 1 minute).
Necromancers get to heal when they kill something with a necromancy spell, can summon more and bigger skeletons, get resistances, and control lots and lots of undead.
Transmuters have a bunch of, frankly, thrown together effects and aren't actually better at casting transmutation spells, so I guess they're the exception!

All in all, I love Diviners the most and think that Necromancers have some of the weaker effects, but opinions will vary.


Emperor of the Americas
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Transmuters get the ability to transmute a small number of substances into one another for an hour, a philosopher's stone, and a limited shapeshifting ability.
All transmutery themed stuff.


quiet desolation
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It would be nice if the transmuter's shapeshift wasn't so awful, though. Necromancers would also benefit from not having a level six ability that only really applies to one spell.


Emperor of the Americas
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Sure, the nerfed polymorph isn't great, the stone stuff is pretty good IMO, but the other two things are pretty meh[their 2nd level ability is of very limited usage, compare to the diviners Foretelling divice?]. But once you get to 14thlevel you can be as young as you want. While you can still die from old age. Wizards seem to have some never mentioned defense against that anyways(since every edition has had wizards who live way longer than they should, and every edition has NEVER explained that).
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