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Background:

In AD&D 2nd edition, the rules for specialist wizards specify that each school of magic has one or more opposition schools, indicated via a diagram and a table in the Player's Handbook (in the 2nd printing, these are on page 45).

It isn't clear why the particular schools are opposed directly (that is, in the diagram, e.g. Illusion opposes Necromancy), nor why, in the cases where the schools on either side are also disallowed, why those schools.

The only explanation I found in the text says that the schools may be disallowed "due to the nature of the character's school. For example, an invoker cannot learn enchantment/charm or conjuration/summoning spells" but I don't see how that follows, and even if that were obvious, it doesn't explain the other oppositions (since, for instance, a conjurer can learn invocation spells).

Question:

I'm considering changing the opposition schools in the following way: divide the eight schools into pairs, and each pair opposes one of the other pairs.

Illusion and Enchantment/Charm are opposed to Alteration and Conjuration/Summoning.

Necromancy and Invocation/Evocation are opposed to Greater Divination and Abjuration.

In this way all the specialties will have exactly two opposed schools, and the opposition is always mutual.

Could this unbalance the game? I'd be fine if it makes an otherwise weak specialty stronger, or weakens a particularly strong school. But I'd be concerned if it weakened some school to being pointless, or strengthened one such that it's clearly better than the rest, or even made it stronger than some other class. I'm only using the core rules, so I don't have to worry about schools that only appear in supplements.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This (with its latest edit) strikes me as the best result of being a little tighter about designer-reasons: the question asked is clear, if answerers have insight into designer reasons they can include them, and voters decide whether that made an answer better that one without. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 4 '18 at 2:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ This looks OK to me now as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage May 4 '18 at 2:35
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The Player's Option: Spells & Magic introduces a point-buy system for customising wizard characters. There, buying access to any school is the same cost: 5 character points. Moreover, the point costs for various advantages or disadvantages associated with being a specialist in the Player's Handbook are described and none of them are school dependent. So arguably at least the designers of Player's Option series did not perceive any given school to be game-breakingly more powerful than the others.

I should note that PO:S&M defines a school of universal magic that all wizards had access to. This replaced the school of lesser divination from the PhB and includes spells such as dispel magic, enchant an item, and teleport, so all wizards can do things that wizards of phantasy literature can commonly do.

Finally, I would like to point out that the only specialist with three opposition schools was illusionist. I think this could have been a reflection of the attempt of converting 1e AD&D illusionists into 2e. Their lack of access to invocation/evocation was arguably being balanced with spells like "Demishadow Magic".

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