Magic and Classes

Magic on Middle-earth has a couple of important features which can more or less be derived from the Tolkien’s works.

One of the most prominent facts is that, regardless of its power, no creature can fly without wings. There are infinite examples to justify that — starting with the fact that Gandalf needed Gwaihir’s help to escape from the Orthanc tower, or descend from the mountain after the fight with the Balrog, and, finally, the fact that even the Valar, the most powerful beings on Arda, had used an island as a giant ship to transport them from Middle-earth to Aman.

This also implies that, besides flying, most other instantaneous or easy transport via magic — like teleport — is heavily restricted on Middle-earth. However, it is not against the spirit of the Tolkien’s ideas to assume that rare magical artifacts, such as immobile gates and portals, can provide a similar effect.

Furthermore, although Gandalf threatens Samwise to turn him into a frog, shapeshifting is usually rare, although it exists — the most prominent example is Beorn. Even the Valar and the Maiar, the most powerful of all, have difficulties in changing their physical shape once they become used to it, which can be explained as their habit (just as a person can get used to a particular suit).

Magic is to most people — at least during the Third Age — a mysterious and fabulous power, whereas the ones who wield it are often considered dangerous and evil. There are no “wizard guilds”, or communication systems based on magic (except for the Palantíri, of course; however, are of a much more ancient origin — see below), and there is no organized schools or “courses” of magic. The Elves are the only people who consider magic as something natural and ordinary, even to the extent of magic being an inherent part of their culture. Thus, the Elves do not perceive magic as something extreme or “unnatural”.

The classic spells, used by individuals, are relatively rare and most of the magic encountered in the Third Age is based on enchanted items such as Orcrist and Glamdring, the Elven cloaks from Lórien, and the One Ring itself. Although Gandalf had shown he could use magic to perform displays of fireworks (in Hobbiton), build a fire (under Caradhras) or fight using firebolts (on Amon Sûl, against the Nazgûl), most of the magic is not physical, but more likely focused on the areas of mind, spirit and emotion. The Palantíri, the One Ring, the Nazgûl, the Seat of Seeing on Amon Hen etc.; they all show a strong influence over feelings, willpower or perception of individuals.


Due to the highly restrictive uses of magic in Middle-Earth, the following pure-caster D&D classes are simply not feasible for players: Bard, Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard, and Warlock. Paladins and Monks are also not setting-appropriate. Other hybrid classes or spellcasting archetypes of remaining classes are permitted with DM approval and character explanation.


Evocation magic, unless specifically approved, is in general prohibited. There are few if any examples of damaging spells ever being used in the Tolkien world.

Magic and Classes

Lord of the Rings (5E) Praissen