Casting spells is the cool part of D&D, but the wizard class seems to have so many options! It looks so complicated. Maybe it’s better to just be a fighter? What do these words mean?! We’re here to help simplify and explain the choices.
D&D 5E has many wizard subclasses to choose from, spanning several core books. Here are some quick summaries of each subclass, which will give a bit of insight to the theme, generalized game mechanics, and the likely play style to expect. This list isn’t the way you are expected to play the subclass, but our own interpretation of what the subclass archetype is trying to be. Your interpretation may differ, and if it does, please share how!
School of Abjuration (PHB)
Huh? – Abjuration is to stand strong against something, refusing to accept, or fight back.
Theme: Guardian to their allies.
Game Mechanics: Tank-like spell maneuvers, with a concentration on defense.
Play-style: You want to protect your friends and ensure the enemy cannot hurt anyone.
School of Conjuration (PHB)
Huh? – Conjuration is to summon or create objects and creatures.
Theme: The clever mage of creation and innovation.
Game Mechanics: Summoning focus, with ability to create things out of thin-air.
Play-style: You like to improvise and create things in the world.
School of Divination (PHB)
Huh? – Divining is to see the future. Rooted in the Latin word “divus” to see like God.
Theme: Carvers of their own fate, while also predicting the fate of others.
Game Mechanics: Focused on predictions and fortunes, and to the ability to bend the future to your will.
Play-style: You like being able to see and change the future of the world around you.
School of Enchantment (PHB)
Huh? – To capture someone in your song, rooted in the Latin words “en” for in, and cantare “to sing”
Theme: An enigma, who wants others to be lost in their aura.
Game Mechanics: Focused on manipulative spells, and controlling others.
Play-style: You have fun charming and persuading others, either with magic or your words.
School of Evocation (PHB)
Huh? – To evoke is to bring about. Rooted in the Latin word evocare “to call out”. In this case, to bring about destruction.
Theme: Bursting with destruction, the evoker lays waste to all but their allies.
Game Mechanics: Damage focus, with the ability to avoid friendly fire.
Play-style: You want to be the reliable damage dealer, with an array of ways to do so.
School of Illusion (PHB)
Huh? – To deceive or lie, rooted in the Latin word ludere “to mock”. Or, to trick people. 😉
Theme: All things should be questioned around this weaver of magic, as things may not be as they appear.
Game Mechanics: Significantly improved illusions, which can sometimes become real!
Play-style: You like to be mysterious and deceptive, playing games with people’s perception.
School of Necromancy (PHB)
Huh? – Using the dead to divine or cast magic. Rooted in the Greek words necro for “dead” and manteia for divination.
Theme: Appreciates the value of the dead, animating and using them for their own purposes.
Game Mechanics: Health bonus from death blows, and improved summoning of undead.
Play-style: Why endanger yourself and others when you can have the dead as your defense line?
School of Transmutation (PHB)
Huh? – To change or alter completely. Rooted in the Latin words trans for “thoroughly” and mutare for “to change”
Theme: All things are seen as equal opportunity, able to be changed into whatever is needed.
Game Mechanics: Alchemist-like ability to change substances, improved polymorph, and a magic stone with a choice of varying benefits.
Play-style: You like to customize and alter the world around to suit your needs.
Bladesinging (Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide)
Theme: A brash and brave mage, willing to dive into melee with supportive magic.
Game Mechanics: Best wizard to use weapons in melee, using intelligence rather than strength or dexterity.
Play-style: You like to have a wealth of spells at your disposal, and a reliable sword to back you up.
War Magic (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
Theme: Explodes into battle, able to withstand any sort of combat situation.
Game Mechanics: Focused on dealing a lot of damage to start, then switching to defense.
Play-style: You start off the battle dropping the high powered spells on your enemies, then defending yourself as your allies finish them off.
Chronurgy (Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount)
Huh? – “Chrono-” comes from Chronos, the Greek God of time. “-urgy” is a suffix for someone who practices something (eg. metalurgy, thaumaturgy, liturgy).
Theme: This wizard has insight into the perceptual depths of time itself. The Chronurgy wizard focuses on manipulating outcomes and controlling the future as they desire.
Game Mechanics: Able to make a creature reroll an attack or ability check, even after seeing the result. Has a boost to their initiative equal to their intelligence modifier. At later levels, they can put a creature into a time stasis, effectively paralyzing them. Additionally, they can plan their spells ahead by placing them into a bead, able to be used or destroyed by others. At their highest level, they can peer into the future of possibilities, deciding the outcome of a particular attack, ability, or saving throw roll.
Play-style: You really like the idea of counterspell, but want to be able to do it to everything. You’re not about direct combat or confrontation. You like to plan ahead and stop anyone who dares say otherwise.
Graviturgy (Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount)
Huh? – “Gravis-” comes from the Latin word gravis/gravitas for heavy/appealing. “-urgy” is a suffix for someone who practices something (eg. metallurgy, thaumaturgy, liturgy)
Theme: Seeing the energy that connects all things, the Graviturgy wizard utilizes gravitational forces to affect their enemies and benefit their allies.
Game Mechanics: Able to affect the weight of creatures or objects, making them weight twice or half as much. When a spell is successfully casted, you can move the target 5ft in any direction. At later levels, they can increase the damage done by another creature’s melee attack. At their peak, they can create a large gravity field which causes force damage, and makes it very difficult for any enemies to move.
Play-style: You probably really like dominoes or you know what a Rube Goldberg machine is. You like to play with the environment and the people within it. You’re not so much interested in combat as much as you enjoy watching your enemies struggle around you.