Orgone is the conduit through which the power of the cosmos flows, focused through a sorcerer's will. Ritual practitioners must draw on this reserve of power in their souls to make a magic spell work. Spells require a constant infusion of Orgone through rituals that are performed inside a transmutation circle, which require a number of ingredients and can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours depending on the spell.

There are five schools of magic that spells revolve around and are taught at universities:

  • Enchantment Spells – These are spells designed to capture cosmic power within a crafted item, so that its power can be called upon in times of need.
  • Protection Spells – These are spells designed to ward a user, object, or location against a variety of possible harms.
  • Transmogrifcation Spells – These are spells designed to fundamentally alter or control another living being or creature.
  • Transmutation Spells - Changing the makeup of different materials or combining them with others to make new forms of matter.
  • Scrying Spells – These are spells designed to allow a user to perceive in ways that go beyond his five senses.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that many spells that fall into these categories cross boundaries. For example, an enchanted sword casts a barrier around an item (enchantment and protection) or a crystal ball made from transmuted elements that allows you to peer into the future (scrying and transmutation). With many of these effects infringing on each other's domain, the idea of schools of magic seems redundant. Getting a BA degree from. Harvard University or a PH.D from Hunter college seems pointless.

I want a way to make separating forms of magic into categories necessary enough to be relevant, instead of an interdisciplinary form of education for mages. How do I design a magic based curriculum based on these parameters?

  • $\begingroup$ So, you want (essentially) Enchanters to go to the Enchanting college and not to take any classes in Protection, is that correct? $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Dec 6 '19 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking for recommendations of schools, or how to justify the schools you've already picked? $\endgroup$ – James McLellan Dec 7 '19 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ The only real problem I see is with the enchantment school? The enchantment school puts a spell in an item, but the only available spells are from other schools. Seems like you just need to say "there are 4 schools of magic, and each can have you specialize in basic magic or enchantments". Aside from that you can make schools build off a basic concept and expand on that, meaning that learning transmutation doesnt make learning protection easier. And time spend on protection means less time and expertise with transmutation etc. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Dec 7 '19 at 10:32

10 Answers 10


One of the ways to measure the health of a society is by collaboration, and that can be measured by specialization.

For most of human history every individual was either a hunter or a farmer. With the rise of civilization we introduced what is arguably the most profound aspect of our species: our ability to collaborate and specialize. Not everyone has to be a farmer now. Now one person can spend all day making clothes and another working with the animals and another farming and another on the watch tower and another building homes and so on. This only works because of social trust - the more we trust and work with each other the more we can collaborate and specialize. This has been a measure of health in civilizations for the entire history of civilization. (quick aside: Liars and Outliers by Bruce Schneier talks a lot about social trust. Schneier is a well known name in encryption and computing circles, but this book of his is a good read on the challenges we face in a digital age around social trust)

When it comes to your magical universe, you want specialization! This is good. This means that you have an expert in Scrying who can do some Enchantment, but doesn't have to be an expert in both because he can find/hire/trust an Enchantment expert. And vice versa. Even within these five spells you'll have further refinements and more specialization. And that's good! It's a sign of a healthy society. It's akin to me being able to fix the basic plumbing in my house, but for complicated leaks and adjustments outside my comfort zone I can just hire a plumber. I've quite good at electrical work, and would be comfortable building out all the wiring in my unfinished basement without needing to hire an electrician, but for a large corporate office I would never try to touch that.

So it is in your world. Everyone will need to know some type of basics, but then you build on that with specialization. We teach all children to read, write, do basic math, learn a little chemistry, etc, but then they graduate high school and go into specialized field - Psychology, Chemistry, Math, etc, and then even beyond that more specialization - Math:Group Theory, Math:Number Theory, Math:Set Theory, Math:Discrete, and so on.

Have your world know some type of basics, and then educate and refine into specializations.


There is going to be some overlap. Consider a university: Everyone in the sciences takes Calculus from the math department. Biologists, agriculturalists, foresters, civil and ag engineers take courses in soils.

Some spells are symbolic: You cast your spell by doing manipulations of symbols on parchment, much like doing a mathematical proof.

Some spells are homomorphic -- they depend on the law of contagion. You can use the hair brush of the victim to find the body of the victim. At a much more difficult level you can use the hair on the brush to create a map between a voodoo doll and a person to manipulate that person.

Some spells supplicative -- they depend on convincing/coercing Orgone dwelling entities (Angels, demons, pixies, dragons...) to do your will.

Some spells are transformative -- they change the very shape of space and time. All scrying spells, portals, teleports

And so on.

Spells can use either the spellcasters own energy, or they draw on energy from elsewhere. Own energy spells are small in effect, but can still be complex. E.g. A tarnkappen spell to create an invisibility cloak for the wearer only requires bending light. Not much energy there.

A thunderbolt spell, powered by your own self would be a static spark.

Some spells have to be cast in pairs. Consider a catapult spell that has the effect of a 300 pound boulder hurled at a couple hundred miles per hour. The recoil would throw the spell caster into the next county. So the caster has to: * Create the impulse * Absorb the recoil * Aim the impulse.

This is why magic is hard.


Magic schools do not need to classify spellcasting. They can be a path.

My martial arts teacher has described martial arts as a tall mountain we are all climbing. We are all taking different paths up the mountain, but we're all trying to ascend to the same peak at the top. As he put it, "I know one path up the mountain, and I will teach that path to you."

Martial arts has two goals, if I may state them in an indisputable fashion. The first goal is to not get into a fight. In a real fight, everybody loses. The second goal is, if a fight is required, make sure you lose as little as possible. There are martial arts schools that will claim goals involving various ways of "winning," but I find the goal of "losing as little as possible" is a better phrasing. Win when times are peaceful.

So there's two goals at the peak of the mountain for all of us. But there are so many myriad paths up that mountain that I would fail to count them all. Each one is a different path that is recommended by a school. Each one's path encourages a different toolkit of ways of solving a problem.

Your magic system may specify five paths up your mountain. But, when you really dive into it, there's not five paths. There's many. Within those myriad paths, we classify them into five schools of magic, but every magic teacher really offers their own path up the mountain, based upon their life experiences. A university may choose to collect teachers with a predictable kind of path, and that would be worth something.

To make this work, I'd recommend breaking apart the description of the spell from what the spell is. "The glass is half full" and "the glass is half empty" describe the same glass state, but they do so from different vantage points. An sword that can be used to cast a barrier (enchantment and protection) can be thought of as using an enchanted sword to create a barrier, or a way to create a barrier with an enchanted sword. The enchanters will think of it one way, the protection magic people will think of it the other. And thus they will use different terminology and each will have its own slightly different flavor.

Bruce Lee was once asked the difference between a Chinese kung fu punch and a Japanese karate punch. He was quoted as replying that being hit with a karate punch is like being struck with a crowbar, while being hit with a kung fu punch is like being hit with a heavy metal ball at the end of a chain. You don't want to be on the receiving end of either.

There may be a difference between getting hit by a punch of an individual whose knuckles are hardened by a protection mage, or one whose knuckles are hardened by a transmogrification mage. They'll have their own flavors. Don't get hit by either. They hurt.


Mortal magic is like the visible spectrum of light:

The power of the cosmos is like white light; but when it flows through Orgone into a context that mortals can manipulate, disperses and refracts as if through a prism.

Each separate school is like a different wavelength of light: humans are able to pick out individual colors, but the schools actually blend together in a gradient. It's also possible that there are schools outside the "visible spectrum", which cannot be manipulated by mortals.

The human soul is stained glass:

Most people start off with "clear" souls, able to work with each wavelength of magic without any particular advantage or disadvantage. Over time, a practitioner's soul will become "stained" with the "color" of magic that they use the most. They'll develop an easier time channeling more magic of that school, but will develop greater difficulty channeling schools whose wavelengths are further away on the spectrum.

This effect typically never becomes great enough to entirely prevent someone from accessing a given school, but it will make it much less efficient for them to do so.

This encourages people to specialize in a few "adjacent" schools, and to collaborate with specialists in "non-adjacent" schools for spells that are particularly complex or demanding.

Narrative Applications:

This will allow you to divide some spells up as "pure" representations of a given school, but also justify the use of some spells as hybrids of two or more schools where appropriate.

Depending on the number and variety of spells you intend to use, you can plan the spells out in advance, assign them whatever school[s] you deem appropriate, then use the results to plan out what order the schools should be situated in on the spectrum.


I'd argue the schools would form naturally if you could only be a master a very small area of what would seem to be a continuum of disciplines at the magical-phd level. The topics are split almost arbitrarily (or traditionally as is often the case) at a lower level so they fit nicely in a teachable curriculum.

Using real world academia is a perfect model: At high school you get taught Chemistry. Later on you might do something more specific like Materials. Then in a phd you get to see how ill defined the edges of these discipline are (Material Engineering, Material Science, Material Chemistry, Polymers, Ceramics, Nano-materials etc.), but that doesn't mean the subjects are nebulous nor useless, they just have a focus on specific outcomes. They are necessary because the expertise and equipment costs and are so high that it's difficult to have any more than a cursory understanding of numerous topics.

Ceramics and Material Engineering crossing over into Aerospace Engineering to design a new Jet Turbine seems like a perfect parallel for Combat Scrying and Material Protection crossing over with Enchantment for Swordologists. Plus I like the idea that the reader would have no idea just how deep the rabbit whole of magi-science goes.

It would be fine for your "Bachelors" level mages to be still being taught like a Chemistry undergrad is still taught Chemistry, even though they realistically are doing a whole heap of Physics.


All you need is different ways of doing the casting. One school draws runes; another chants words; another brews potions; another arranges objects in mathematical patterns; another dances. If the various effects are only achieved by a specific style of casting, you’ll have to get multiple degrees to cast compound effects or else work in teams with people from many schools.


You can't separate them

Well, not completely. Your mages will specialise in one field but need some knowledge in the others, to make full use of their magic.

Take inspiration from the real world - a person who studied pure mathematics or even programming can't really only use these skills. Not in all instances. A mathematician who will do some sort of analysis will do it in some context - be that in a biology field where they use mathematics to decipher DNA, a sociology where they use statistics to gather data for individuals, in financial field they'd be using it on cash flows and/or risk. They they need other knowledge.

Similarly, a software engineer can in theory build any sort of application. But in practice they won't if they don't have the business knowledge for it. A medical system will need awareness of medicine, a sociology system will need awareness of sociology, a financial system will need awareness of financing.

You don't need an actual degree in the secondary discipline to be able to work with it, but you need coaching and at least understanding the fundamentals.

So, similarly enchanters who only know enchanting will not be very effective, unless they are have enough skills to weave another spell and lay it into an item. They probably wouldn't need to study for a full bachelors degree (or equivalent) in Protection to be able to make a "brooch of shielding" but they'd need some knowledge in Protection and/or maybe a mage proficient in Protection.

On the flip side, a Protection specialist wouldn't be able to just make an enchanted item. Perhaps with some knowledge of Enchanting they'd be able to cobble together something but it will not be as efficient and elegant - a brooch of shielding is out of the question, the Protection mage knows very well how to shield but doesn't have enough skills to weave that spell into a very small item. Perhaps something like a large shield...but that's not very convenient. Other problems due to lack of Enchanting knowledge might include the spell wearing out sooner or even abruptly ending without (seemingly) any reason. Problems that an Enchanting specialist may have had a two semester course on.

A similar thing can happen with other disciplines outside of Enchanting. Protection + Scrying might be able to protect a caster from being scried on or maybe even guiding them towards things that will protect them (finding items, or even the futures where they don't get hurt). Or even slightly more mundanely (for magic...), protecting from overloading the senses when using scrying. But again, the full range of effects needs good skills in both fields - a Protection mage who doesn't know Scrying simply doesn't know how to protect against "bad future" or from sensory overload of senses they've never known of. A Scrying master without Protection skills cannot effectively isolate their senses from being tampered with or their fate from being scried.

And so on, and so forth.

So, specialisation gives you the tools you need for your field but you need other mages in order to make effective and useful spells. That's why you need a university that houses them. Different mages have to learn to work together.


You specialize through process and aptitude. I have a system based on 7 schools of magic which each have 7 sub-classes, and very quickly ran into the same issue of having overlap. I approached it by considering a similar question I have seen here before (but cannot remember it right now - If anyone has seen it before and can link it would be appreciated.) One of the answers was something to the effect of different ways to boil water, you could place it over a fire, pass electricity through a metal coil placed inside (kettle) , drop hot stones into the water, etc. All of these achieve the same effect, but take a different approach to achieve it. So your orgon users have to have a certain mental aptitude to use a specific school. Bob, who is a type 1 personality which is easy to use enchantment spells, but very hard to use Transmutation Spells. So in order to control his pet wolf, he enchants a stick with the property that every time he waves it, his wolf bites the person he is looking at.


Jabberwocky University

Est. 361 BC

Student Guide for the Summer 2019 Term

Thank you for joining us at Jabberwocky U, home of the Devouring Oroboros'!

Please find enclosed an index to the colleges and degree programs for undergraduates at JWU for the Summer 2019 term. We want to remind students and parents that freshmen and returning sophmore students are required to live on campus, and should make arrangements for dormitory housing.

Please also remember that dragons of any kind are forbidden on campus grounds, and any damages done to dragons found on university grounds is at the owners' personal expense. JWU will not be liable for any damages done to personal property by dragons, deities, or otherworldly beings that have not been summoned by faculty or staff.

College of Economics

The Smatty Perlmutter College of Economics teaches the application of divination to problems ranging from individual fortunes to macro divination. Students will learn how to recognize and apply economic principles to divination - where, when, and how to apply divination for best effect. They will learn the application of divination at a personal, business, city, national, and world level. Applied divination - methodologies for responding to divination results will be taught, as well as critical thinking, research, and problem solving skills. Students will create an instructor-led divination response, and apply it to a to a practical problem.

College of Law

The Kaiser Wilhelm II School of Law (formerly the Prodicus School of Ethics) produces the finest legal professionals of the world each year. Students learn basic divination, and divination as it is applied to disputes. Philosophy, and the derivation of law from the philosophy of divined truths is examined. Students will learn how to conduct appropriate research and prepare - as well as argue - interpretations of divination and the law. Students will learn contracts, bindings, dissolution, and will participate in mock trials. They will learn how to negotiate disputes, arrange settlements, or argue a dispute properly before a Court of Divination.

College of Medicine

At the Catherine de Medici and Emperor Justinian School of Necromancy and Medicine students will learn the living and unliving body. Alchemy, and it's application to heal injuries will be taught. Students will learn and name all of the physical parts and orgone chakras of the human body. Students will specialize within one of the sixteen different fields of Medicine, or become involved in the fast-growing field of Bio-Transmogrification.

College of Veterinary Medicine

Students of the Germanicus Conservatory of Veterinary Medicine will learn for the care of creatures of all kinds. Students are invited to concentrate in farm, field, woodland, domestic, abyssal, and extra-dimensional focuses, or remain broad as general practitioners.

College of Logic, Frivolity, and Mathematics

The Xenophon School of Logic is one of the original five schools at JWU. Students will learn the purest language of mathematics, it's logic roots, it's illogical roots. Students will learn to compose and defend theorems in mathematical terms that can be used by other mathematicians or applied scientists to prove or disprove theorems.

School of Orgone

Students at the Saint Willoughby Cloister of Orgone will pursue the pure science of this fundamental building block of the universe. Students will learn how to apply fancy, will, and spirit - both rigorously and frivolously - to solve problems, and explore ideas.

School of Alchemy

Students at JWU's School of Alchemy will learn the real and hypothetical properties of materials. Students will learn proper laboratory method, how to perform research, theoretical and industrial alchemy.

School of Enchantment

Schools at the JWU School of Enchantment learn the application of applied sciences such as orgone, alchemy, and mathematics to solve practical problems. Students may concentrate in almost one hundred concentrations of enchantment including mechanical, electrical, and alchemical focuses.

College of Art

The Diotima Colleg of Art teaches students beauty - both how to recognize it, and how to create it. Students will be invited to practice in several mediums: music, magic, light, and the written word to express fancy and actualize it into concrete form, as well as how to elevate the mundane to the extraordinary.

College of Philosophy

Why? Students of the Archelaus College of Philosopy are exposed to the greatest minds and most intractable questions of human existence. Students are taught to think for themselves and think from perspective, how to seek and recognize absolute truth, and how to recognize the many trapdoors and false starts in thinking.

  • $\begingroup$ I wanted to try to explain this answer in advance. I'm not certain if your asking to justify a set of schools that you've already chosen that are organized around game mechanics (defense, attack, detection, enhance), or if you wanted to go in a more narrative direction. Since several answers have already looked at the game mechanic perspective, I thought I'd explore the narrative one. $\endgroup$ – James McLellan Dec 7 '19 at 11:16
  • $\begingroup$ From a narrative POV, I think, no one - not even a student in War College - gets a degree in abjuration (self-defense). They take a self-defense class. A "school" of study is usually significantly bigger. Keeping with the War College metaphor - a student would study self-defense, tactics, strategy, logistics, and so on. To get this answer, I tried applying existing schools that exist under a typical university umbrella and tried exploring how magic, divination, orgone, and the like might change them. $\endgroup$ – James McLellan Dec 7 '19 at 11:18

I can think of two options

1. Each school of magic is based on a different fundamental spell or formula

All of a schools spells are based on a different formula, and each schools formula is unique, if you try to use a spell with the wrong fundamental structure, bad things happen.

learning a different school of magic is like learning magic all over again. Each school is like its own language (and may even have its own language), learning two schools is like learning Chinese and Spanish learning one does not really help you learn the other, it can even be a hindrance. Worse mixing them up can be very detrimental either from failure backlash or the random effects of botched magic. An example might be programming languages, some just are not really cross compatible.

Many spells have different versions built in each discipline, and although roughly the same they differin in the details of how they operate. You have to reinvent the wheel so to speak for each school. for instance each school has their own water walking spell but they each have different costs, rituals, and side effects. Perhaps the transmutation version creates a spongy mattress like surface to walk on, while the protection version not only lets you walk on water but also covers the caster in hydrophobic coating like effect meaning even rain just sloughs off the peerson, or the enchantment version creating a rigid but slick ice like surface to walk on.

You may learn about other schools superficially, like protection can do this and this but not this, you you are not going to learn their spells or spend much time on it. There might be geniuses that know two schools and can keep mixing them up but they are rare, as rare as meeting someone that can speak 4 languages fluently.

"The graveyard is full of students who tried to use spells from other disciplines"

Option 2, they do overlap just like real world schools of engineering but you still specialize.

Biology, geology, physics, chemistry, sociology, ect. these are all different fields of science principles from one often can't be applied outside that field while at the same time their is a huge amount of overlap. You learn a bit about all of them but specialize in one field for your degree. I myself am a paleontologist, I have degrees in both biology and geology, my knowledge in those fields os far more extensive than my knowledge of physics or engineering.

For your system a degree in Protection makes you an expert in protection you can cast other spells but the majority of your knowledge lies in protection spells, you have a larger variety of protection spells and can alter protection spells far more easily. You know the workings of protection sell intimately but that knowledge does not necessarily help you with any other schools spells, they are just different enough that principles you are not as familiar with apply.

you can think of each as being the equivalent of having a degree in X-engineering, much like how in the real world you have seperate degrees in material science, electrical engineering, civil engineering, ect. you know something about other fields and can even do some simple low level applications in others but the majority of your expertise is in that one discipline.

Bob is essentially Protection engineer, if you need a custom shield spell you talk to Bob if you need a water purification spell maybe you talk to someone else. but Bob is probably good enough to cast a water purification spell (off the self so to speak) but don't expect him to custom make one or diagnose a faulty water purification spell. Just like how you would not consult a electrical engineer to tell you why your dam collapsed or for how to create transparent aluminum, but you would want to talk to one about how to make a power grid.

Why do we do this, because becoming an expert takes time, too much time to let someone become an expert in everything, so your major tells everyone what you are an expert of.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.