Increases armor rating by <mag> points and negates up to <mag> points of spell damage or effect.
Wards are very useful defensive spells belonging to the school of Restoration which help both against melee and magical attacks.
All Wards have a certain amount of "Hit Points" (HP). If the HP reaches 0, the Ward is destroyed and you experience stagger. Casting a Ward does not give you its full HP immediately - there is a period of time of about one second during which the Ward "charges up", unless you dual cast it, in which case it is at full HP immediately. Whenever HP of the Ward drops below maximum value, it will immediately start regenerating it at a constant rate even if it's still taking more damage. Wards block only attacks from the front, however the angle is pretty generous(around 90 degrees).
The melee bonus provided by Wards is minor. While, in theory, even Lesser Ward provides more Armor Rating than Daedric Shield, using the Ward does not count as blocking and the bonus is not modified by armor skill levels. This means that Greater Ward, which boasts 80 Armor Rating bonus, decreases damage taken by just 9.6%. The Wards don't provide any additional protection against arrows. On a more positive note, non-magic damage doesn't deplete the HP of the ward and you get the full AR bonus the moment you cast the Ward no matter what its HP is, so you can use the Ward just like a shield without a problem.
However, one advantage that wards have over shields is that you can still attack with them active. Trying to attack while raising your shield will result in a shield bash. While power bashes can damage health, they cost a significant amount of stamina to perform; a character with 500 stamina can only do 5-6 power bashes before running out.
Wards block incoming spells completely. The spells deplete the HP of the Ward, rather than yours. However stronger enemies use stronger spells and can dual-cast them too, so using higher-level Wards becomes necessary as you gain levels. Also, stronger spells, such as Fireball, will break wards that are not fully charged; the player will not take "extra" damage from a spell that breaks the ward, but the player will be staggered, leaving him or her open to attack.
Wards require a large amount of Magicka to sustain, and cost reducing perks or gear are particularly helpful for ward users. The Ward Absorb perk makes this Magicka issue disappear almost completely.
Interestingly, Wards seem to be extremely effective against Dragon breath attacks. Because the game treats a breath attack as a series of quick low-damage attacks rather than a single strong one - basically, like a bigger version of the Flames/Frostbite spell - the regenerative nature of the Ward means you can completely block even an Ancient Dragon's breath with a Lesser Ward.
- Wards can negate all shouts from enemies or the player, rendering the caster of a ward immune.
The following spells use the Ward group of effects. Following each spell is the specific variant of the effect that it uses:
- College Practice Ward: Ward - Steadfast (
- Greater Ward: Ward - Greater (
- Lesser Ward: Ward - Lesser (
- Steadfast Ward: Ward - Steadfast (