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Proposal: Schools of Magic

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As a former member of the faculty at the University of Gwylim, I take an interest in matters of practical pedagogy, and I've spent the two seasons reviewing our Mages Guild curricula for the instruction of beginning spellcasters. This body of work has accumulated gradually over several centuries, and as a result it is somewhat haphazard and disorganized.

After casting about for a model upon which to reorganize our teaching texts, I came upon the curriculum of the Shad Astula Academy in Morrowind, where they teach magic in eight different disciplines. Though the divisions between the disciplines, or "schools" of magic, are rather arbitrary, magic being an entirely mutable art, this classification of spellcasting into schools of magic has the advantage of providing students with a structure for easy comprehension of the basics of wizardry. The proof of its value is the fact that Shad Astula graduates novice mages with a practical grasp of sorcery in half the time of our own introductory program.

For this reason, I propose that we adopt the Shad Astula disciplines, and reorganize the Mages Guild study program into the following schools of magic:

ALCHEMY: The study of the magical virtues of different forms of matter, their effects, combinations, and recombinations. To include the concoction of potions, elixirs, and magical draughts.

ALTERATION: The distortion of local reality through direct imposition of the mage's will. To include spells of paralysis, water breathing, water walking, lock opening, and personal elemental shields such as flame cloaks.

CONJURATION: The summoning and binding of spirits from Oblivion or Aetherius. To include soul trapping, spells that conjure Daedra or other creatures, spells to banish same, summoning of bound weapons and armor, as well as (for classification purposes) the forbidden necromantic arts of reanimation, conjuration, and manipulation of the undead.

DESTRUCTION: The splintering of material bonds by the direct application of force, typically elemental in nature. To include damaging spells of flame, frost, shock, and disintegration, as well as magic that drains essence or personal attributes.

ILLUSION: Altering perception in oneself or others. To include spells of light, invisibility, fear, frenzy, and silence, as well as magic that affects morale and obedience.

MYSTICISM: The class of spells used to alter the nature of magic itself. To include effects that dispel or absorb both spells and the magicka that feeds them, as well as telekinesis (which fits here as well as anywhere).

RESTORATION: The opposite of destruction, magic that resists damage or restores wholeness by reknitting the damaged material. To include wards, healing, curing of disease and poison, physical fortification, and the turning of undead (a forced purification effect).

THAUMATURGY: Magic that affects the will and personal state of mind. To include spells that calm or charm others, reflection of or resistance to magic, as well as levitation, which involves the personal rejection of gravity.

The experienced mage will immediately discern the arbitrary nature of these divisions—indeed, we may eventually find it advisable to combine one or more of these schools, assigning the spells within them to other categories. (Thaumaturgy seems a likely candidate for such amalgamation, and possibly Mysticism, as well.) However, these schools seem to be serving Shad Astula well, so I propose we tentatively adopt them as is, and refine as we go.

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