The Player’s Handbook introduced all 8 schools of magic as focuses for the Wizard. One school that is traditionally laughed off is Abjuration. You see, Abjuration is a school full of defensive or reactionary spells. Most Wizards know one or two spells from Abjuration – Mage Armor, Shield, Counterspell – but few actually focus on it. The wizards that do focus on Abjuration are problem solvers. They are there to exorcise demons, counter magical catastrophes, and close portals. These abjurers are proud and respected… By normal society. Will you be respected by an adventuring party as much as you are by churches or cities? Let’s find out with our Abjuration Wizard 5E Guide.
Counter the Apocalypse: Abjuration Wizard 5E
The Abjuration Wizard is, unsurprisingly, a strictly defensive wizard school. Surprisingly, this is a really good one. The options you get to defend yourself and your party are vast and potent. They center around an Arcane Ward – a really great health shield – as well as some great anti-magic later on, just when you need it!
Unfortunately, like all of the Player Handbook schools, you start with the School Savant skill.
Beginning when you select this school at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to copy an abjuration spell into your spellbook is halved.
This is… Actually not bad.
In most cases, if you manage to kill a Wizard or find a spellbook, you will find Abjuration magic. Spells to look for include Counterspell, Dispel Magic, and Protection from Energy. You could also find situational good spells, like Stoneskin or Remove Curse, both really strong wizard spells in the right campaigns.
Abjuration’s general usefulness is good for you, making this one of the best Savant skills. Even so, you’ll need to learn the basics. Get Mage Armor, get Shield. Consider Protection from Evil and Good, as it’ll be useful later. And, if your GM isn’t too good about getting you spell books or libraries, then ignore this ability’s effects and learn important spells naturally. You do not, under any circumstances, want to lose Counterspell or Dispel Magic by waiting for a spellbook to drop into your lap.
At level 2, you actually get a really strong ability to defend yourself with.
When you cast an abjuration spell of 1st level or higher, you can simultaneously use a strand of the spell’s magic to create a magical ward on yourself that lasts until you finish a long rest. The ward has hit points equal to twice your wizard level + your Intelligence modifier. Whenever you take damage, the ward takes the damage instead. If this damage reduces the ward to 0 hit points, you take any remaining damage.
Okay, so… That’s pretty great.
At level 2, this health shield will probably have 7 HP. If you got unlucky with your rolls and have low Constitution, this could literally double your HP. And it scales well, too; it’s like you have +4 Constitution on top of what you already have. By level 20, you’ll have 45 or 46 health to work with.
The caveat is that you need to cast a 1st level spell on yourself first… How tricky! A lot of Abjuration spells are designed to counter opponents, so you’d normally want to save them for lat-
It’s Mage Armor. You cast Mage Armor and you gain +3 AC and 46 health. That’s kinda easy.
But, I left something out… If this was all the ability had to offer, it’d be pretty great. But, the fact that the ward lasts until your next long rest limits your ability to best cast.
So… They let you heal it.
While the ward has 0 hit points, it can’t absorb damage, but its magic remains. Whenever you cast an abjuration spell of 1st level or higher, the ward regains a number of hit points equal to twice the level of the spell.
You… have healing now. Wow.
After your first abjuration spell increases your health, every other abjuration spell heals you for between 2 and 18. That’s a pretty big range, but because your lower-level spells are more common, you’ll probably be healing for about 6-8 per cast.
There’s just one problem, with Abjuration itself. Your spells are mostly reactionary, meaning you’ll be wasting spell slots if you just want to heal your barrier. There’s no real “spam spell” for Abjuration, other than Banishment, arguably.
There’s… A caveat, though.
At level 18, you have Spell Mastery, allowing you to cast a 1st and 2nd level spell as many times per day as you want. That means that, after you do combat, you could theoretically spam a level 1 or 2 spell to regain all your Ward’s HP. For level 1 spells, you have some absolutely insane options; Absorb Elements, Protection from Evil and Good, and Shield. We recommend Shield, since Protection from Energy is just better Absorb Elements, and Protection from Evil and Good is less universally useful.
You don’t want to choose an Abjuration spell for your level 2 Spell Mastery slot. That would make you take Arcane Lock. You do not need an infinite number of locks… Hopefully.
At level 6, you gain a bit of a side-grade as your Ward flies across the battlefield.
Starting at 6th level, when a creature that you can see within 30 feet of you takes damage, you can use your reaction to cause your Arcane Ward to absorb that damage. If this damage reduces the ward to 0 hit points, the warded creature takes any remaining damage.
30 ft range is perfect; you never want to be more than 30 ft away from your party so they can help you if you get hit.
While Arcane Ward is an incredible ability – able to take hits, and heal you – the Wizard is just not the class that should be taking any hits. You should be far away, spamming spells and cantrips. You just shouldn’t be taking damage.
So… Why don’t you send your Ward to someone else?
There are a few problems here. Firstly, your reaction is kinda important. It’s useful for casting Shield, Counterspell, or Absorb Elements… All really good for keeping you alive. Counterspell is especially good for you, since it heals your for 6 and you get some synergy at level 10 to make it even better.
But, let’s say your monk just got brained for 35 by an ogre two-handing an axe. Abjuration doesn’t have too many AC-based reactions that protect someone else. In order to save your monk friend, you can now just send over your ward to eat some of the crit. Then, spend your future rounds using Shield, Banishment, etc. to build your ward back up.
If you’re not worried about taking damage, then make your Cleric love you by making their job easier.
The most famous spells that Abjuration offers are Counterspell and Dispel Magic; the dynamic duo to shut down any enemy caster. Thank goodness Wizards of the Coast knew that these two spells would be important!
Beginning at 10th level, when you cast an abjuration spell that requires you to make an ability check as a part of casting that spell (as in Counterspell and Dispel Magic), you add your proficiency bonus to that ability check.
It’s pretty rare that you get a raw, numerical bonus to your ability checks, so this ability is pretty stunning! By level 10, you should have a +5 to your Intelligence. Adding your Proficiency means you roll at a +9 to dispel or counter. That just means you have to roll a 10 and end any spell in the game! That’s crazy!
By level 20, if you’re in a high magic campaign, that becomes a +12. A 7 can end a level 9 spell… using a level 3 one. Counterspell and Dispel Magic was probably already what your party knew you for. Now, you’re superb at ending magical effects with any spell slot!
Unfortunately, this ability does less and less as you lose low-level spell slots; it doesn’t make the automatic success any less automatic. That shouldn’t be an issue, however. With some luck, you shouldn’t need more than 4-5 Counters/Dispels per day!
“Shouldn’t” being the operative word here.
Finally, you get an ability that plagued earlier editions. Well, the name plagued earlier editions. This ability is all-new, but…
Starting at 14th level, you have advantage on saving throws against spells.
Furthermore, you have resistance against the damage of spells.
Getting advantage on saving throws against spells would probably be good enough. You get two chances to resist save-or-dies, you get some decent chances to save against Dexterity or Constitution effects. You’ll basically be guaranteed to avoid Wisdom-based effects! And don’t even get me started about spells like Maze! If you’ve ever had advantage on saves before, you know how good it feels to fail miserably on the first dice, and then crit the second. This is a major upside for you.
Now, if that wasn’t enough, you also resist the damage of those spells you have Advantage against. That’s… Bonkers. Considering most spells that deal damage target Dexterity or Constitution (important, common saves that Wizards don’t get proficient in for free!), you’ll love this. Even if you succeed at the save, a lot of those damaging spells still deal some damage. This way, you quarter damage from Fireballs, and halve it if you fail the save. Or, you take half damage against Finger of Death, which kills your character instantly if it does too much damage.
It’s like Evasion… If evasion could target the 5 other saves, too!
As with most abilities, there are some downsides. Considering you’re so good at counterspelling, would this be useful against the super-powerful spells? Well… Sure, but you’d still want resistance against a 4d12 Toll the Dead, right? Even against weaker spells that you don’t want to counter, you’ll get mileage from Spell Resistance.
It also isn’t quite as good as Evasion, since you still do take ¼ of the damage from a saved Fireball. Hopefully, that damage shouldn’t matter… but it might.
What’s important here is having the ability to notice a spell being cast at you, determining whether or not you can trust Spell Resistance to save you, and then Counter accordingly. It’s pretty hard to identify whether a spell is worth countering, but… Use your head. You’re level 14, there’s 7th level spells being flung around. Be safe, and then sorry if it ended up being just Scorching Ray or something.
Best Race for Abjuration School Wizards
While Abjuration spells don’t normally care too much about your Spell DC, you still want your Intelligence to be as high as possible. Int is good for your Ward, your Counterspelling, and your other spells. Afterwards, both Dexterity and Constitution are important; your AC, your health, and your saves rely on those two.
The Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica offers some strange, strange races. The Simic Hybrid might be the most obviously odd choice amongst them, but there’s a method to the madness. +2 Constitution, +1 Intelligence is perfect for you. Darkvision is always nice, and Nimble Climber is a good substitution for Flight until midgame. Later on, Carapace adds 1 to your AC without impacting Mage Armor – Perfect! It’s a great, scaling race that will work wonders for you.
Mordekainen’s Tome of Foes came with a healthy dose of races to choose from. The Gith are an option that can choose from 2 subraces. The first, the Githyanki, have +1 Int, +2 Strength. Not amazing, but you get free proficiency in Medium Armor. That means you can ditch Mage Armor and instead activate Arcane Ward with Shield or a Protection spell. Githzerai rely on Mage Armor, but give you advantage against mental effects instead. Not bad, if you’re worried about creatures with non-spell charms or frightens!
Conclusion – Our Take on the School of Abjuration Wizard 5E
The Abjuration school is shockingly good, but relies entirely on spells to deal damage. That’s not much of a problem; your contribution to the party will be through counterspelling and good utility spells. Just remember to learn the important damage spells if you want to hurt anyone. This is one of the best options for Wizard in general, especially if you want a Wizard who has trouble dying.
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