Khopesh's Systems of Magic
Best viewed in 800x600 HiColor (16-bit) resolution or better with Netscape 3 while in a comfortable chair, sipping a piña colada.

         In the boring, standard generic worlds of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, there are three forms of power; Wizardly, Priestly, and Psionic. (There is also Innate and Divine, but these are usually grouped seperately.)
         First, the terminologies: When referring to one of the first two of these groups as a plural, the term to use is that of wizardly or priestly magicks (alternatively spelled magiks). Example: None of this world's magicks can harm me as long as I chew Spischak Gum. Psionic powers are called disciplines. While you cast a spell, you use or call a discipline. The "magicks" of psionics is "disciplines." Example: None of those mind fools in this world can harm me with their petty disciplines. Innate and Divine powers are usually called powers (or, occasionally, magiks), although sometimes are used to explain some ultra-powerful version of one of the three base powers.
         Psionics is my personal least favorite for two main reasons: Disciplines are perhaps the most powerful of the powers and the folks at TSR have NEVER included psionics in the mainstream rules. Psionics were in the old orange first edition Players Handbooks and were included in the recent Players Option: Skills and Powers book (the main reason for many of its owners to have bought it in the first place), however, they were still not worked into the rules. These two books contain information of psionics in their backs; an appendix with instructions on how to incorporate psionics into the rest of the book and some of the other books. The Psionicists Handbook did the same exact thing; it contained rules for this new power and then went about adding them into every aspect of the game. However, only so much is possible in 128 pages. Recently, in the creation of the current Monstrous Manual, psionics have been added to monsters, making it possible to play psionicist characters with some actual challenge for the first time (how exciting is it to go around and kill creatures who cannot defend against you? Your only real enemies would otherwise be characters built by the Psionicists Handbook). Simply put, if psionics were truely integrated into the core AD&D game, I would care--I would use it--I would like it. Sure, Dark Sun is a world with functioning psionics, and yes, I do play Dark Sun, and yes, I do tolerate psionics in Dark Sun (but don't expect to find me playing a psionicist). Psionics are/should be to Dark Sun as blood abilities are to Brithright; EXCLUSIVE. Psionics are a "World Hook," to put it in Richard Baker's terms (from the World Builders Guidebook); they are a special power, (and should be) specific to Dark Sun. Either everybody and everything should have (wild or better) psionics or nothing should have psionics at all.
         Setting Psionics aside, we move to wizards and priests. Lets tour the campaign worlds that have significant magical systems:
Toril, the Forgotten Realms
While Torilian wizardly magicks use the standard system, there are also other divisions (hey, it's a REALLY big world!). There are Elementalists (see the Tome of Magic), Dimensionalists (see Dragon Magazine issue 229), Wu Jens (see Dragon Magazine issue 229 and/or the first edition Oriental Adventures book -not the Wizards Handbook; that's just a kit), and wild magic (see the Tome of Magic). All of these wizards use a modification of the "schools of magic" scheme with a unique twist. Nethrilian characters (using the Arcane Age rules, Nethril is a past realm) were infinately more powerful than current-day wizards, shaping raw magical energy into spells.

Torilian priestly magicks work in the generic form, and due to the size of the world, priesthoods of philosophy and forces exist as well. Dieties and extra-planar beings are worshipped for spells and powers.

Krynn, Dragonlance (in AD&D terms)
The Ansalonian wizardly system is of note; there are three orders of magic, white, red, and black, as sorted by alignment (good, neutral, evil). These wizards function much like priests; they have access to all but one or two schools of magic and are bound by the rules of their orders. A wizard's primary purpose is to protect magic.

Ansolonian priests work in the same manner as the wizards; divided into holy orders by alignment. Aside from the holy orders, priests still worship gods (some of which are draconian) in the standard manner.

Athas, land under the Dark Sun
The Athasian wizardly system is very simple. The Sorcerer-Kings are all defiler/psionicists of over 20th level who have begun a metamorphosis into a draconian form (see Dragon Kings). They have the ability to grant spells as a diety to templars in their cities (sorry, templars are no longer player character priests). The Sorcerer-Kings don't need more competition, and wizardly magic is therefore illegal (except for the few archmonarch defilers employed by the Sorcerer-Kings, listed in an old Dragon Magazine issue that I lost--no issue number, sorry). There are two types of wizards in Dark Sun, defilers and preservers. Defilers are evil and advance through levels more quickly than preservers (who are generic wizards of good alignment). The only other difference between the two wizard classes is that defilers destroy the natural life around themselves when casting spells (which is why Athas is a desert).

Templars are NPC priests who gain their spells from the Sorcerer-Kings and act as an elite police force for their kings as well (see the first edition of the Dark Sun Boxed Set). The other priests of Athas are elemental priests, with a special re-ordering of the spheres to fit in each element (earth, air, fire, water, cosmos). Druids connect their guarded lands with one of the elements and are therefore similar to the elemental clerics.

Psionicists exist here, just as common as the spellcasters. Every being has wild psionic talents, so there is a psionic balance that prevents power-hungry players from having everything they want.

Cerilia, empires of Birthright
This world has standard wizards, with one elaboration: only elves and blooded humans (humans with a divine bloodline; see the Birthright Boxed Set) can be wizards (mages) or speicialists (except illusionists; read on). Unblooded humans are "magicians," able to cast spells as an illusionist up to the third spell level, with only illusion spells available from those higher levels. Blooded wizards with source holdings (wizardly outlets that tap the land's natural magicks) can cast realm magic, a more powerful set of spells that can effect kingdoms and that are massive versions of other spells.

Priests are the same as most other worlds, with a priestly realm magic (similar to the wizardly realm magic) available to blooded priests with temple holdings (that derive magicks from the flock).

         These are all wonderful systems of magic (okay, so some of them aren't the best). Now, lets see some of Khopesh's stuff:

Tergie, land of RiverStrong, Khopesh's upcoming campaign world
The Tergan wizardly system is loosely like the Dragonlance system; divided by robes which group the existing wizardly schools. There are five groups of schools, called sects, and all wizards, regardless of alignment, must specialize in one of them. The sects are well-balanced, with an elaborate cooperative/opposite system that is flexible during character creation to open limitless combinations. Wizards are not too powerful in RiverStrong, reflected in their difficulty to cast spells in a sect other than their main and secondary sects.

Tergan priests are more complex, divided by race. Humans are called theists because they are the only race to worship actual gods. Elves hold faith in philosophies as described in the Priests Handbook, while dwarves bow before the mighty forces, such as the elements (also in the Priests Handbook). The other races mingle with these three for faith or have none at all. Some even follow false cults.

Magic for dummies, coming soon
Now here's an easy one. Priests are wizards who pray for spells and wizards are priests who study for spells; priests and wizards are a single class. Intelligence and wisdom are averaged and made a single ability. Poof! Rework the schools and spheres, and then divide. Each race has one of the major schools of magic and its adjacent lesser schools.

© 1999 Khopesh, L+d.
Khopesh (
Corrections needed? Ideas? Suggestions? Comments? Submissions? mail me! I love receiving feedback! Please mention how you found me, your URL, and comments. ###