D&D 5e: School of Abjuration Wizard Guide

A male drow abjuration wizard casts hold monster on an angry enemy.

D&D 5e: School of Abjuration Wizard Guide

Role in the Party

Wizards are famous for their powerful, earth-shattering spells, but also their squishiness and overall low hit points. Tactics aside, there are three ways to compensate for this: grab armor and shield proficiency from a multiclass or another source, cast defensive spells, or simply go with a wizard subclass that increases your defense, like the School of Abjuration.

The School of Abjuration’s most famous feature is the Arcane Ward, which is just free hit points. The flavor text describes how abjurers are called upon to exorcise spirits or guard locations against magical spying or close portals to other planes, but strangely enough, your subclass features don’t do these things.

In general, you’re a normal wizard with more hit points, and you’re incentivized to cast more abjuration spells than usual. Otherwise, you’ll just be doing normal wizard activities.





School of Abjuration Wizard Features

Abjuration Savant

Beginning when you select this school at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to copy an abjuration spell into your spellbook are halved.

Weak feature, but it’s not meant to be strong; it’s just a little ribbon feature to go along with your beefy 2nd level feature.

Arcane Ward

Starting at 2nd level, you can weave magic around yourself for protection. 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.

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.

Once you create the ward, you can’t create it again until you finish a long rest.

If all you do is cast one abjuration spell every day, this is just up to 45 extra hit points per day depending on your level, which would be solid on a wizard. However, the ability to recharge the ward makes this much higher in practice: there are a lot of commonly used abjuration spells out there, from Shield to Counterspell to Banishment, so you can add a few more hit points to your total.

Remember that the ward takes the damage and not you, so fully absorbing the damage with your ward will negate the need to make a concentration saving throw.

This is already good, but what if we went even further? This doesn’t require that you cast an abjuration spell with a spell slot, so you can cast rituals like Alarm over and over to regain 2 hit points every 10 minutes; this isn’t a huge amount, but it can let you top off your ward if you have extra time in the day.

However, the best way to recharge your Arcane Ward is with the Armor of Shadows invocation, which gives infinite mage armor, so you can quickly restore your ward to full hit points after every fight. This is sort of an exploit and not every dungeon master is on board with it, but it doesn’t have dramatic balance implications and is probably fine; you just start every fight with maximum ward hit points, but not necessarily maximum normal hit points, and it costs either a feat or multiclass to get it.

Overall, you can prevent so much damage with this great feature; excellent.

Projected Ward

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.

Your ward will most often be used to protect yourself, but sometimes you’re in a situation where you can be confident that you won’t take any damage, or the enemies would rather attack the wounded fighter than the full hit point wizard. This reaction lets you protect your allies from a distance, as long as you’re not too far away. It’s nice to have this ability.

Improved Abjuration

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.

Your Counterspell will be one of the best Counterspells out there; with 20 intelligence and a +4 proficiency bonus, you have +9 to your check and will almost always be able to dispel or counter a DC 15 5th level spell with a 3rd level slot. Solid, but you’re not always using Counterspell in every fight.

Spell Resistance

Starting at 14th level, you have advantage on saving throws against spells.

Furthermore, you have resistance against the damage of spells.

Straightforward resistance to spell damage and advantage on spells. Useful for obvious reasons. Remember that not everything you face at this level is a spell, but there are a lot of powerful spellcasters with a high challenge rating and having resistance to a Disintegrate is lovely.


Your defense is much better than the average wizard, and at high levels, it’ll be difficult for enemy spells to do anything to you. You can occasionally protect allies from taking damage and possibly protect them from an entire enemy spell. Several brief multiclasses and feats also synergize extremely well with your features.


Your low-level features only give you more hit points to throw around; that’s it. Your high levels also only help if your enemies have spells, so you will not do anything against an ancient red dragon or a Tarrasque. In general, you also don’t have the added versatility that some wizard subclasses offer. You also don’t have enough extra hit points to be running into melee all the time; you’re probably about on par with a fighter or barbarian but without their other defensive features like armor class or rage.

A male elf abjuration wizard with his pseudo dragon companion.

Best Race Options

I almost recommended the Kenku before noticing that Kenku Recall only works on a “skill” in which you have proficiency: Counterspell checks aren’t using a skill, so it doesn’t work. Instead, the Autognome from the Astral Adventurer’s Guide can add a d4 to three rolls per day; this should save an important Counterspell from failing if you roll badly. They also have poison resistance, tool proficiencies can heal with hit dice from the Mending cantrip, and have other useful features; an autognome with 1 HP and no ward hit points can use Mending and Armor of Agathys on themselves to restore themselves and their ward to full hit points if they have enough hit dice. They can even do it if there’s not enough time for a short rest.

The Monsters of the Multiverse Goliath can use their reaction to roll a d12 and add their constitution modifier, subtracting the total from any damage they take; they have 2-6 uses of this per day depending on level, so you can easily mitigate a lot of damage at low levels. This is a less solid option at high levels when options like Shield and Absorb elements are less expensive and protect you against multiple instances of damage, so play the Goliath in the low-level campaign.

Earth Genasi can cast Blade Ward as a bonus action 2-6 times per day; this multiplies not only your normal hit points but also the hit points of your ward. Combine with armor proficiency and the Shield spell to become almost invincible for several rounds and be very durable after that. Being able to cast Pass Without Trace also gives you versatility by letting your whole party stealth with the rogue.

Choosing the Right Skills

You’re a magic user and a big nerd, and your small-brained party members will depend on you for Arcana checks. You might also be saddled with NatureHistoryReligion, and Investigation, so proficiency in at least one of those is useful too.

You’re beefier than the average wizard, but your strength score is still probably terrible: go with Acrobatics to resist grapples, or maybe shore up a weak Athletics if you want.

Perception is the most used skill in the game, so take that; and if you’re playing as a paranoid wizard who wants to protect themselves and their allies from anything and everything, Insight proficiency can reflect your increased wariness of NPCs.

Fitting Feats

Eldritch Adept for Armor of Shadows is the easiest way to restore your Arcane Ward to full hit points in between every fight; it’s the best feat option for you.

Resilient (Constitution) is probably better for you than War Caster, since you’re meant to be a tanky type and you also want to take less damage from constitution saving throw spells and breath weapons and other effects. Your Arcane Ward already helps you avoid making concentration saving throws, but more protection is always nice.

Fey Touched is probably your best choice if you want an intelligence-boosting half feat since it comes with Misty Step and another 1st level spell.

Optimal Backgrounds

Cloistered Scholar is a good choice for any wizard, but it works well for an Abjuration Wizard in particular. Maybe all that time cooped up in the library made you paranoid of the outside world, so you studied abjuration magic.

A grizzled soldier is a good fit given the defensive focus of the School of Abjuration; the Soldier background will let you be a military mage with an actual rank you can flex.

Lorehold Student is your Strixhaven background of choice: if you’re going to be a tanky wizard, why not add Spirit Guardians to your spell list for free and get the Strixhaven Initiate feat for free? Not all tables use these backgrounds though, so keep that in mind.

Multiclassing Options

One level of Artificer gives you medium armor and shield proficiency maintains full spell slot progression, and adds some versatility to your spells known. You will be a defensive titan by level 3.

Two levels of Hexblade Warlock will get you the Armor of Shadows invocation, but also the same armor proficiencies as Artificer, short rest slots you can use on Shield/Absorb Elements, the Armor of Agathys spell which synergizes amazingly with your Arcane Ward (you can get hit and deliver cold damage without losing any of the temporary hit points), and several other delicious benefits. Praise the almighty Hexblade!

For heavy armor proficiency, either if you’re a Hill Dwarf or willing to tolerate the speed penalty or have 15 strength for some reason, a level of Order Cleric is fantastic; you get a pile of extra spells, proficiency in all armor, and your rogue can make a reaction attack for a second sneak attack per round whenever you cast a 1st level or higher spell on them.

Would I recommend playing a School of Abjuration Wizard?

The School of Abjuration Wizard is a simple subclass with fantastic potential; I can safely recommend it to almost anyone who’s considering a wizard. Some subclasses are stronger, but you will never regret picking Abjuration; you can hang back and be a normal but unusually resilient long-distance spellcaster or hop into melee and tank hits for allies depending on your playstyle.

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