Magic schools (RPG)

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This article is about lore behind magic schools. It contains a list of all the schools of magic found in published sources and the lore behind them. The final section discusses how mechanics in the MMO do not necessarily fit with the published lore.


Most spells fall into two main categories; arcane and divine. All magic on Azeroth came from the kaldorei, both divine and later arcane.[1] (APG 123) However, not all magic fits neatly into these two categories. Other magic types lurk outside or within arcane and divine, powerful and strange in their own rights. For example Priests have access to divine magic, while druids wield nature magic.[2] (DF 64) One of the most sinister is fel magic.[3] (WoWRPG 252)

Divine domains

Divine domains describe healer spells and help define divine spells.[3] (WoWRPG 255)

Magic derived from the worship of ancestors, and by the power of ancestors is the ancestor domain. Several faiths believe in ancestral worship, including tauren, orcs, and tuskarr.
  • Crusader[2] (DF 90)
  • Death
  • Destruction
  • Elements
  • Foretelling
  • Healing
  • Madness
The madness domain is magic often derived from chaotic and terrible sources such as the old gods. It grants power to certain nihilistic cults or crazed priests[2] (DF ).
  • Power
  • Protection
  • Spirits

Spirits has some overlap with the Elements and the Ancestors domain. It can cover abilities dealing with ancestral spirits, voodoo spirits and elemental spirits/spirits of nature.

  • War
  • Wild

Rune magic

Rune types

  • Marks

A rune inscribed on a creature.[4] (M&M 25)

  • Glyphs

Runes inscribed on an object.[4] (M&M 25)

  • Sigils

Runes inscribed on a surface subsequently acts as the rune's trigger.[4] (M&M 25)

Rune Patterns (aka families)

  • Awareness family
  • Beast family
  • Flame pattern
  • Frost pattern
  • Healing family
  • Motion family
  • Restoration family
  • Shielding family
  • Stone pattern
  • Storm pattern
  • Striking family


Branches mentioned in the lore in the RPG and other sources.

Divine branches

Arcane branches

Miscellaneous branches


Cutting across the categories of arcane and divine spells are the eight schools of magic. These schools represent the different ways that spells take effect.[3] (WoWRPG 255)

  • Abjuration - one who specializes in abjuration would be known as an abjurer.
  • Conjuration - one who specializes in conjuration is known as a conjurer.
  • Divination - one who specializes in divination would most likely be known as a diviner.
  • Necromancy (aka necromantic magic)- one who specializes in necromancy is known as a necromancer.
  • Enchantment - one who specializes in enchanting is known as an enchanter.
  • Transmutation - one who specilizes in transmutation would be known as a transmuter
  • Evocation - one who specializes in evocation is known as an evoker. Queen Azshara is the inventor of most evocation spells.[6] (S&L 76)
  • Illusion - one who specializes in illusion is known as an illusionist.
  • Universal - Spell falls under all eight categories. Not a true school.


The main schools split into several subschools. Some of the subschool categories can be found within more than one school.

  • Healing
  • Calling
  • Charm
  • Compulsion
  • Summoning
  • Creation
  • Glamer
  • Figment
  • Pattern
  • Phantasm
  • Scrying
  • Shadow
  • Soul
  • Teleportation


A descriptor further categorizes spells in some way. Some spells have more than one descriptor. Descriptors govern how the spell interacts with other spells, with special abilities, with unusual creatures, with alignment, and so on.[3] (WoWRPG 258)

  • Acid
  • Air
  • Blessing
  • Chaotic
  • Cold
  • Darkness
  • Death
  • Earth (aka earth magic)
  • Electricity
  • Evil
  • Fear
  • Fel
  • Fire (aka fire magic)

Fire magic is a subcategory of arcane magic.[2] (DF 166)

  • Force
  • Good
  • Language-Dependent
  • Lawful
  • Light
  • Mind-affecting
  • Seal
  • Sonic
  • Totem
  • Water

Special powers

These magical discriptions usually have ties to enchantments or enhancements or bonus abilities on items.

  • Frost/Ice
  • Holy
  • Unholy
  • Shadow
  • Positive
  • Negative
  • Nature

The World of Warcraft MMO Schools

The World of Warcraft MMO has schools that are used for game mechanics and may not fit into the lore described in other sources.

  • Ability arcane 32x32 Arcane - Not considered a school, but instead it is a path of magic (fire and frost fall under this path for example).
  • Ability fire 32x32 Fire - Not considered a school, but an elemental descriptor. Fire magic is a subcategory of the arcane magic.[2] (DF 166)
  • Ability frost 32x32 Frost - Not considered a school, but an elemental descriptor.
  • Ability nature 32x32 Nature - Not considered a school, but a branch of divine magic & sometimes arcane. In some cases it is considered its own branch (covering all spells that a druid would cast for example).
  • Ability shadow 32x32 Shadow - Not considered a school, but instead its a subschool.
  • Ability holy 32x32 Holy - Not a school, but instead is a branch within the divine path of magic.

Not technically magic:

Science Behind Casting

Arcane, Runic, and Fel

Arcane and Runic magic involve manipulating ley lines, which were laid down by the titan Norgannon during the creation of the universe. By manipulating the energies of the ley lines, arcane and runic casters can manipulate the world around them, causing changes in the physical universe[7] (MM&M 41).

Similar to arcane and runic magic, Fel magic involves the caster's manipulating the physical world by making compacts with demons. Every manipulation of fel energies requires a small sacrifice of the caster's humanity to the demon world, having a similar effect as arcane magic, but without the burdensome study.

Hydromancy, Geomancy, Pyromancy, and Aeromancy are magical specializations that require the caster use his/her manipulation over supernatural forces (like manipulating ley lines or compacting with demons) to command the loyalty of the elements from within the Elemental Plane.

Necromancy is a similar specialization that allows fel (like the dreadlords) or arcane (Cult of the Damned) magicians to use their powers to call upon spirits from the afterlife and reanimate dead flesh as undead minions [8] ( ).


Divine magic involves the blessings of a supernatural being.

The Holy Light of Creation grants supernatural healing and, in some cases, destructive powers to anyone who follows the strict discipline prescribed by its religious philosophy. More importantly, the user has to believe in the Light and that what they are doing is right.

The Forgotten Shadow provides similar powers to those people who follow its nihilistic religious doctrine. Troll witch doctors draw their abilities from the Loa gods, invoking their powers by enticing them with voodoo rituals[7] (MM&M 8). Some of the abilities of a druid are divine, drawing their power from the Night Elf goddess, Elune.


Nature magic involves drawing upon the spirits of the earth to invoke natural phenomenon.

Shamans draw upon the power of the elements, creating a personal relationship with each of the five elements (Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Wilds) and asking for their assistance when it becomes necessary. This procedure is unlike the elemental practices of arcane or fel magicians, who use their manipulation over the physical universe to command the loyalty of elementals at their leisure[9] (LotC #?).

Druidism draws its mastery over the natural world from the Emerald Dream, where the Spirit of the Wilds and the spirits of all living things in the universe reside. Unlike in shamanism, a druid makes a physical connection between his/her spirit and the spirits of the Dream, becoming literally a part of the natural world. This explains the way all druids appear to have foliage growing from them, and their ability to shape-shift, because their spirit has made itself one with all other living things[3] (WoWRPG 67).

There are arcane druids, who use supernatural forces to command a link between themselves and the Dream. Though this practice does require an advanced knowledge of the Emerald Dream, it does not necessitate the close connection and respect of the natural world that true druidism does[10] (W2Man 35).

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