There are many schools of magic available in DND 3.5, supplied by both official and open source content. However in many of the games you play odds are you wont need anything outside of the 8 "traditional" schools of Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, enchantment, evocation, illusion, necromancy, and transmutation
Spells that protect, block, or banish. An Abjuration specialist is called an abjurer
Spells that bring creatures or materials to the caster. A conjuration specialist is called a conjurer.
Spells that reveal information. A divination specialist is called a diviner. Unlike other specialists, a diviner must give up only one other school.
Spells that imbue the recipient with some property or grant the caster power over another being. An enchantment specialist is called an enchanter.
Spells that manipulate energy or create something from nothing. An evocation specialist is called an evoker.
Spells that alter perception or create false images. An illusion specialist is called an illusionist
Spells that manipulate, create, or destroy life or life force. A necromancy specialist is called an illusionist.
Spells that transform the recipient physically or change its properties in a more subtle way. A transmutation specialist is called a transmuter.
Not a school, but a category for spells that wizards can learn. A wizard cannot select universal as a specialty school or as a prohibited school. Only a limited number of spells fall into this category.
Magic is applied to every field of human endeavour. War, commerce, building a better mousetrap, fixing the drains, preserving bread -- all of these sparkling facets of the rough diamond that is human experience interact with the magical in some way. Maybe fey gold with which to buy things or an acid arrow to clear a particularly persistent clog of hair from the plughole. Yet one aspect of human activity is shied away from in the formal colleges of magic, though it forms an important aspect of the thaumaturgical field.
In the yards, lavatories, and dormitories of various collegesof magic, young students swap tales and cobbled together spells developed over the years. Some famous names in the field of magic have a history that is only told in notes passed in class and some of their early work is... enlightening to say the least, shedding light on their particular obsessions. Some drop out entirely ro pursue this aspect of magic with complete devotion and clarity of purpose.
Cloistered away as they are in their universities and towers, magic users come up with some very peculiar ideas about sex, despite the presence of both genders in the colleges. Sorcerers are perhaps a little more worldly wise given that they are not shut away for a large part of their lives learning by rote, but their tendency towards arrogance also keeps them at a distance, and so much of their study is also based on conjecture and "playground rumour."
The fact is the erotic arts are one of the most beguiling and least discussed aspects of the magical profession. Just as with all other aspects of magic, there are both dangers and rewards. There is no immortality here, just the base pleasures of the flesh. The appeal of the erotic is a large attraction of this profession, and many a young apprentice holds close the dream of bringing a properly bound succubus into his bed.
Others just fiddle themselves into an early grave, hunched over their crystals balls while the girls at "the school for comely young elf maidens" unknowingly dance, wiggle and splash for their pleasure.
Beings that cannot exist inhabit a place that cannot be. Cursed by gods and feared by mortals, these entities fall outside the boundaries of life, death, and even undeath. They are untouchable by even the most powerfule deities, though they can be summoned and used by the weakest mortal.
The practitioner of pact magic contacts these alien forces by means of special symbols and rituals. Once a summoning is complete, he strickes a bargan with the summoned being to gain great supernatural power.
Lesser Pact Magic Edit
Pact Magic exists in many forms. Oaths, a lesser form of pact magic, are often used to add power to words. Indeed, oaths are so commonplace that a few recognize their similarity to the pacts made by pact magic practitioners
Before Creation, darkness was all, and it waits even now beyond the edges of all worlds. In time, the greatest of lights and the brightest of suns must dim and gutter. Day might banish night for a while, but night always returns
On various planes of existence dwell those who follow this notion to its ultimate conclusion. Most frequently called the Doctrine of Eternal Night, it posits that darkness is the only truly eternal concept of the multiverse. As such, it must be the greatest. Symbolically and physically, darkness is the ultimate force--the final result of all efforts
As with symbolism and physics, so too with magic. Wizards call down fire, druids channel the essence of nature, and clerics wield the powers of the gods themselves. Yet in time, the greatest of those magics fades, worlds crumble to dust, and even gods die. The magic of shadow is not flashy, beautiful, or divine, but it is eternal, and thus superior.
It all started when the first mortal looked up at the night sky. There he saw the infinite dance of the stars. The short trip from wonder to questioning took but an instant. From those questions the magi sprang.
The magic held in the stars represents the powers the gods used to make the world. The stars stand as the anchor points in the universal design. Channeling their power allows the magician to create effects in the world without fundamentally altering the shape or nature of the universe. It is a subtle, gentle magic based on knowledge and personal exploration, not the rending and tearing of the world.
Magi stand at the summit of the star magic world but nearly any arcane magician can learn to channel a few stars or Constellations. A magician's knowledge of the stars progress naturally from studies of other schools of magic. A student can sample many styles and schools without limiting himself to one.
Many arcane magicians find their abilities greatly enhanced with the addition of a few Stars or Constellations to their spells. If nothing else, the study is good for them, enhancing their knowledge of the universe. A few find the subject so facinating that they turn their backs on other schools of magic entirely, focusing all their hearts and souls into a single area of study. In this they join their brothers the necromancers, diviners, and transmuters of the world - looking for the key to power in a single source
When you speak a word in the true, original language of the universe, you tap the power of creation itself--for the ability to describe something is the ability to define it. A wielder of truename magic understands a language older and more fundamental than all others--a "mother tongue" whose words and phrases are the building blocks of the universe.
Except perhaps the gods themselves, no one can speak this original tongue. It's possible that no one ever did speak it--truenames might be more a set of instrutions encoded into a language, rather than a means of communication. But through careul study, the masters of truename magic can understand a smattering of this fundamental language. When such masters name a thing aloud in the tongue of truenames, they can exert unparalleled control over the creature or object they name. They can command it, alter it, renew it, or destroy it simply by speaking their desire aloud. The cosmos seems to hear a truenamer's instruction and reorders the universe in accordance with the spoken words.
Truenamers engage in ceaseless study of the world around them, learning the truenames of as many creatures and objects as they can. As they advance in their studies, they can uncover the personal truenames of friends or foes, enabling still more powerful magic.
Some traditional spellcasters also dabble in truename magic. By incorporating a bit of truename speech into their spells, they can achieve targeted but powerful effects beyond the reach of traditional arcane or divine magic. The Language of truenames is fiendishly difficult to pronounce, however, so such spells press the skill of their casters to the utmost.
If you want to cause the very earth to tremble when you say "thremcheumalach-tura'abachnir!" then truename magic is for you. If you want to force a babau demon to do your will simply because you know its truename is Kythel-cramuothan-praduvashedeo, then truenames can be your path to power.