No two wizards have to be alike, despite how they are perpetually portrayed in popular media as Odinic, wandering old men dispensing mischief and wisdom in equal measure.
They could just as easily be an angsty teenager who would rather “expelly-the-armus” of a rival rather than knock a noseless villain in the dirt.
‘Cause that’s never been done before.
As mentioned in our guide on the Wizard Class, there are a myriad of paths to choose when making your spellcaster reflect your style of play and their personality.
Are you a magical sword, shield, or shotgun? Rock, Paper, or Scissors?
If you’d like to play a wizard who can get in there and Reaux-sham-beaux it up with the best of them, you may consider an Abjurer.
Abjuration is that which Abjures, which is synonymous with words like oppress, dismiss, or forcibly stop.
Abjuration magic specializes in this principle as the school offers more wards, barriers, and defensive buffs than any other school.
As an Abjurer, you can improve your staying power (something all wizards desperately need) as well as provide front-line magical support for your party.
What Is an Abjuration Wizard?
The Abjurer is the magical shield of the party, protecting themselves and others from all threats be they magical or mundane.
The Abjuration Wizard’s Defining Abilities
- Arcane Ward
- Improved Counterspelling/Dispelling
- Spell Resistance
Like all school-specialist wizards, copying abjuration spells into your spellbook costs half the amount of time and money, but what sets the Abjurer apart is their abjuration-themed abilities that take their magic to the next level.
Arcane Ward gives you a magical ward that acts exactly like a personal shield you may have seen in some amazing sci-fi stories (the spice is life).
Once per long rest you can weave a personal ward that grants you a nice, cushy amount of temporary Hit Points (Wizard Level x2 + your INT modifier).
At 2nd level, assuming you maxed out your Intelligence, that means you get 7 hit points.
Considering a rogue and a monk both get 1d8 on their hit die, this can be a valid way to overcome the Hit Point deficit wizards are famous for.
Furthermore, when you cast an Abjuration spell of 1st or higher, you can refill this ward with more temporary hit points back up to its maximum.
Since the ward lasts until you finish a long rest, you may as well set it up whenever you cast mage armor when you get up in the morning.
At 6th level, the ward improves, and you can now use it to absorb damage your allies take within 30 feet. This should put you, if not on the front line, certainly close to it.
This will be the subclass’s main contribution to you and your party. A consistent stream of temporary Hit Points that you can put out in vulnerable moments will make sure you never have to buy your own drinks again.
At 10th level, you can finally get a bonus to your counterspell and dispel magic. Add your proficiency bonus to the check to get that extra edge against the enemy spellcaster.
At 14th level, you gain advantage on all saving throws against spells, and you have resistance to all spells that damage you. It’s like magic just can’t even bother you anymore.
Even if you manage to fail a saving throw you have advantage against, you will still only take half damage from the fireball or whatever the poor fool throws at you.
By 14th level, you’ll have about 30 temporary Hit Points in your Arcane Ward that you can simply refill by casting absorb elements as a reaction.
The Abjuration Wizard’s Limitations
- Extremely Limited Offensive Capability
- Long Casting Times
- Still a wizard
Although all Abjurers claim to be the tanks of the magical world, they lack one thing that all tanks have: a big freaking rocket launcher built into their cockpit.
You still have access to all the typical wizard combat spells, such as lightning bolt and meteor swarm, but you won’t be any better than any other wizard.
In fact, considering some of the other class abilities out there, you’ll be worse at them.
“So what?” says the Abjurer. “I’ll just counterspell their clichéd fireball.”
But what then? What will you do after you shut down the enemy spellcaster?
To overcome this limitation, you will have to put some serious consideration into whom and what your party offers in the way of offense or what offense you can drum up in the way of summon spells and animate dead.
Now that I think about it, the summon series of spells offered by Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is probably your best bet to deal with this limitation, unless you want to sword and board it up with some multiclassing, but we will discuss that later.
Long Casting Times
Similarly, your limited combat application means that, other than the occasional protection spell, most of your spells in combat will not be of the abjuration school.
Most of the abjuration spells available are downtime spells, meaning they will help the party with resting or the preparation and execution of some plan or other.
Guards and Wards, Symbol, and Private Sanctum are great spells, but they don’t save anyone from immediate doom.
While they will fill your Arcane Ward, you won’t be spending 10 minutes during combat to cast that spell, so it’s a bit useless.
It would be better to somehow transfer those spells into a scroll or magic item so you can save your spell slots for protecting you and your buddies in the thick.
Still a Wizard
So you’ve got some great defensive capability, but it’s not like you can pick up a shield to improve that 15 AC (if you’ve maxed out your DEX and cast mage armor).
Neither can you swing more than a d6 in weapon damage should you decide to branch out and stop depending on that single damage-dealing cantrip you are always casting.
Furthermore, you’ve only got so much to contribute before you need to take a nap. How many times can you save someone’s bacon with a well-timed Protection from Energy or counterspell? Three times? Better pack some scrolls.
In many ways, unless you multiclass or take feats, you are still just a wizard, and when the idiots start trying to poke holes in each other, you should be far away and slinging spells into the fray.
Black Citadel’s Ranking and Tier System
Color and Tier ranking is very helpful when you’re trying to digest a lot of information. In our ongoing series of 5e class guides, we use the following color rating scheme:
Red – C Tier. Red options can sometimes be situationally useful and might make for an interesting narrative choice, but they are largely less effective than other tiers.
Green – B Tier. Solid but nothing that is absolutely critical for a build, or Green can be very good but only in very specific situations.
Blue – A Tier. An excellent choice. Widely regarded as powerful in some way, useful, highly effective.
Purple – S Tier. The top of our rankings. Objectively powerful or transformative in some way. No choice in D&D is essential, but these options are worth strongly considering when you create your character.
Our goal here is to provide scannable but comprehensive guides for you as you develop your character.
While we might sometimes make reference to unofficial or homebrew content to illustrate a point (or just because it’s too cool not to talk about), every option we suggest is legal in the official rules for D&D 5e as published by Wizards of the Coast.
When building your abjurer, you will obviously need to make Intelligence your highest ability score. Your spells depend on it, and you depend on your spells.
But what about your secondary ability? This choice will define, more than any other, what kind of wizard you are, how you will apply your abjuration spells, and what your position on the battlemap will be.
DEXTERITY – This stat is the best choice if you do not intend to multiclass. Your Arcane Ward will grant you temporary hit points, but if you are still getting hit every turn, that can wear down.
With a high dexterity, you can improve your staple abjuration spell and mage armor and use a decent finesse weapon. Furthermore, the best options for multiclassing an abjurer depend on Dexterity. We will get to that later.
CONSTITUTION – Who likes more hit points? We all do! Especially you jelly-filled wizard types.
WISDOM – Wisdom can give you an edge in Perception and Insight. This is important because if you are the first one to know when danger is coming, you can snap that defense into place.
Also, if you choose to multiclass, a divine spellcaster like Cleric or Druid can vary your profile.
CHARISMA – Much like Wisdom, Charisma can make you more adept in ability check situations. In this case, those skills that can keep a situation civil or direct into chaos.
More importantly, multiclassing a wizard into bard or warlock can make you more viable in close combat or vary up your support capability.
STRENGTH – Yeah, I get it. You want a longsword. I promise, I get it, I really do. But you’d be better off with a scimitar and add your DEX bonus.
Remember, 1d6 + 2 (scimitar) is better than 1d8 + 2 (longsword) since that +2 also adds to your Armor Class, initiative, DEX saves, and a lot more skills than Strength does. Sorry.
Unless you use the custom origin rules from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything (which you should), you’ll need to make sure you focus on a race that either grants you a bonus to Intelligence or grants you some of the other proficiencies you will lack as wizard.
In general, humans and half-elves are great at everything, so just assume those are excellent choices. Below we have an alphabetical list of some of the better options to round out your Abjurer.
Changeling – In addition to having an optional bonus to Intelligence, you get extra languages and social abilities to provide your Abjurer with alternative roles in the party.
The bonus to Charisma also sets you up to multiclass into a Charisma-based spellcaster quite easily here.
High Elf – This is a given. Elves naturally lend themselves to wizards and High Elves even more so. The weapon proficiencies, Intelligence bonus, and extra cantrip will simply help you do more of what you already do.
Drow – This is a great alternative to the High Elf. You will not get an Intelligence bonus, but you do get some specific magic of a higher level than the High Elf Bonus cantrip.
Furthermore, all of the weapon proficiencies are finesse, allowing you to take advantage of the aforementioned “best stat choice” we discussed above.
For these reasons I place them higher than the High Elf, but beware of their sunlight sensitivity.
Gith (Githyanki) – The Githyanki are granted the bonus to Intelligence but also to strength. And hey, even though Strength might not be the optimum choice, a bonus is a bonus.
What makes the githyanki ideal is the weapon AND armor proficiency. You can don scale mail and a shield (or a greatsword!), get up in your enemy’s face, and spray your verbal components all over their visor.
Gnome – Gnomes of all types are a natural choice for all wizards given their Intelligence bonus and bonus spells. Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot that singles them out for Abjurers specifically.
Hobgoblin – This may not seem like a typical choice for a wizard, but their Intelligence bonus, weapon and armor proficiencies, and saving face ability (bonus to saving throws) syncs well with an Abjurer, who will need a bit of combat presence.
Warforged – Like the elves and gnomes, you can get a bonus to intelligence here. While you do not get proficiency with any armor, you will get a permanent +1 to AC that will stack with your mage armor and any magic items you can get.
The Constitution bonus is always a plus, and their Sentry’s Rest ability will thematically gel with your Abjurer tendencies to ensure the safety of your party’s rest.
Background Choices will also be what defines your character’s personality and secondary abilities. As a wizard, you will get proficiency in all the bookish wizardly business.
Your background will give you access to skills that can alter your secondary role in the party.
Acolyte – Abjurers are protectors by nature. Even though there is a spiritual flavor here that may not support you on a mechanical level, the Shelter the Faithful ability plays into the Abjurer nature of protection and defense.
Haunted One – This background gives you ample reason to be a monster hunter. Many terrible monsters are adept magic users, so the extra defenses from abjuration will serve you well here.
You can gain research skills and gain allies through your Heart of Darkness ability, so cast mage armor, and Van Helsing it up!
Sage – Sage will help you be more of a scholar, and as a wizard, this will definitely open up your skill proficiencies to make you a better researcher and plot-hook finder (Is that a thing? That should be a thing).
Soldier – The vehicle proficiency here is a good flavor technique, allowing you to drive the carriage while concentrating on protection from good and evil or counterspell-ing your way out of a daring chase.
Urchin – The dexterity-based skills will ensure you have indeed improved your Dexterity if able. Abjuration spells like dispel magic, nondetection, and shield will help you as you sneak around and reach into cookie jars without being caught.
Wizards gain access to Arcana, History, Insight, Investigation, Medicine, and Religion.
Arcana – This is of the utmost importance. Many GMs will factor an Arcana check into counterspelling or dispelling, depending on the situation.
Furthermore, not only are Abjurers wizards, but they are magic specialists, focusing on how magic works and how to shut it down.
History – This is largely a thematic choice that depends on what type of role you wish to fulfill in the party. Are you a researcher, a healer, or a scholar?
Insight – Much of what you do as an Abjurer involves anticipation. A good defense is a planned defense, and any strategy is dependent on your ability to anticipate your foe.
Often, an Insight or Perception check can determine whether you act during the surprise round. This can set you up to cast the right ward or protection spell to negate the enemy’s element of surprise.
That being said, as a Wisdom skill, this might not be in your maximized skill-set.
Investigation – This is largely a thematic choice that depends on what type of role you wish to fulfill in the party.
Medicine – This is largely a thematic choice that depends on what type of role you wish to fulfill in the party. Are you a researcher, a healer, or a scholar?
Religion – This is largely a thematic choice that depends on what type of role you wish to fulfill in the party. Are you a researcher, a healer, or a scholar?
Alert – This feat will make sure you are involved in any surprise round, allowing you to establish a defense immediately for you and your party.
Fighting Initiate – This feat can beef you up in combat. An option that improves your defensive capability or even allows you to put out more damage will make you less dependent on offensive spells that are of different schools.
Polearm Master – This feat will allow you to make extra attacks of opportunity. This is an excellent choice because you will be able to get attacks in while not using up the actions required for spellcasting.
Sentinel – This feat will also allow you to make extra attacks of opportunity. This is an excellent choice because you will be able to get attacks in while not using up the actions required for spellcasting.
War Caster – Should you decide to multiclass or be of a race that is granted weapons and armor, this feat will allow you to make the best use of those proficiencies without sacrificing your spellcasting.
Multiclassing your Abjurer is not necessary, but it is a cool thing to do. Think of it like this:
Not every Abjurer will benefit from another class, but every other class can benefit from being an Abjurer.
Here are a sample of the best options:
Artificer – The Artificer functions much like a cleric, however they are arcane spellcasters who rely on Intelligence just like your Abjurer does.
Not only will you be able to stay focused in your Stat choices (you’ll want Dexterity or Constitution to be your second highest), but you can get extra spells that Wizards normally cannot access, such as cure wounds.
As a support role, Artificers gel well with Abjuration wizards, boosting their already considerable support powers.
Furthermore, with subclasses like Armorer and Battlesmith, you can increase physical and magical defensive abilities by creating magic armor or by having a magical construct get between you and the bad guys!
Druid – Druids make for great summoners. The Abjurer’s abilities to protect their allies can extend to the summoned creatures and even stack with Circle of the Shepherd’s abilities in the same role.
Multiclassing Druid will make you a better, more resilient support caster. Besides, when you run out of spells, you can just turn into a bear!
Ranger – Rangers are predators and hunters without peer. If you were to multiclass as a Ranger, you could take an alternative approach to the Abjurer.
Instead of defending and supporting your party, you could become a hunter of magic users, utilizing your Abjuration specialty to cut down any advantage your magical quarry would have.
Combine this with the Monster Hunter background and the Mage Slayer feat, and you would be a force to behold in Ravenloft, Avernus, or the Astral Plane.
Progression of Sample Abjurer
Below we have a handy-dandy chart I stole from the library here at the Black Citadel. This chart will show you a character that we have running around here, protecting everyone whether they need it or not!
In addition, this character is linked here to DnD Beyond at level 20 if you would like to print him out and nerf him to fit your table tonight.
We gave him everything except gear as that will greatly affect his abilities and what purpose he can play at your table.
Bilgenox, The Hobgoblin Abjurer
Bilgenox was a quiet young hobgoblin. While his peers spent their time knocking each other about and playing painful social games against each other, Bilgenox quietly accepted his place at the bottom of the social ladder.
Once, while training with a group of older guards, they happened across an adventuring party that strayed into their realm. The wizard of the party turned and ran, dropping his spellbook in a muddy puddle on the cavern floor.
Bilgenox, as the smallest member of the troop, was not allowed any of the spoils, except for that one book the others deemed useless.
Bilgenox spent the next three years learning its secrets.
One day, while in the mess hall with his peers, Bilgenox couldn’t take the bullying anymore. His tormentor threw a lizard bone at Bilgenox, and out of reflex he cast shield.
A shadow of living darkness erupted from the ground and blocked the boney missile. While everyone was stunned, Bilgenox simply pointed his finger and cast magic missile.
That was the last time his tormentor bullied anyone, ever.
Since that fateful day, Bilgenox has led raiding parties to the surface, to the depths, and to other planes, always searching for more magical secrets to add to his arsenal.
He is a war leader and protector of his people, and any hobgoblin lucky enough to be in Bilgenox’s squad knows they have nothing to fear from their foes, mundane or magical.
Below is a tier-by-tier breakdown of Bilgenox’s Progression, along with an analysis of what abilities were granted as an Abjurer and the choices Bilgenox made for each one.
In Tier 1, Bilgenox was granted his earliest spells, his Arcane Ward, and his racial proficiencies. In general, you can expect your players to encounter Bilgenox as he is leading a raiding/mercenary party of hobgoblins.
To this end, his spells are focused on getting his squad through an area safely and without too much notice.
For this, Bilgenox chose standard abjuration spells such as shield and protection from evil and good. This will let him boost his own AC and the defensive abilities of his squad.
Nondetection will help to keep them hidden while on the move, and Counterspell will allow Bilgenox to meet any enemy spellcasters to shut down the advantage they could have on his team.
Bilgenox is proficient in the flail and the heavy crossbow. The scimitar will pair well with his light armor, and the heavy crossbow will maximize his damage output if he finds himself at range unexpectedly.
To make full use of his weapons and armor, Bilgenox has taken the War Caster feat, allowing him to cast spells without a free hand.
In Tier 2, Bilgenox is trusted with a larger force to lead. Furthermore, he is now capable of protecting them as they travel into areas both on the surface and in the underdark where magical and extra-planar threats may occasionally arise.
Bilgenox opted to increase his Intelligence by 2, thus adding to the Improved Abjuration ability he has. This ability will contribute to his dispel magic and counterspell skills, allowing him to lead his party despite magical threats.
Banishment will make him effective against summoners and wandering extra-planar monsters. Private Sanctum will allow his squad to rest and regroup safely while on extended raiding missions.
And finally, wall of force is a handy spell to pull out if you need to make an escape or change the battlefield.
Tier 3 Bilgenox is a terrifying enemy and a brilliant campaign leader. He leads entire armies now, and his mercenary companies are stacked with elite units.
He is now known as The Mage Slayer and has therefore taken the feat of the same name. He prides himself on making enemy spellcasters useless before overrunning them with the numbers of his troops.
In extended campaigns, Guards and Wards will keep his squad safe as they regroup and resupply.
In Tier 4, Bilgenox is at his best. His Spell Mastery and Signature Spell abilities reflect his specialty as an Abjurer at countering and dispelling opposing magical forces.
Furthermore, he can now summon wild monsters such as demons and fiends to wreak havoc before banishing or imprisoning them when they get out of hand.
Prismatic Wall will protect his armies and raiding parties, and Symbol will continue to protect his base camp.
Bilgenox is more than a chieftain or a leader. At this stage, he is a world power who can set himself up against any developed and magical nation.
A Beginner’s Guide
Wizards can fit any archetype. You can have the Gandalf type, the Harry Potter type, the Yoda, or the Harry Dresden.
With all of the spells, feats, and background options, you can add a little magic to any literary, cinematic, or gaming archetype.
An abjurer, however, is a more specific wizard focused on protecting themselves and the party from the dangers posed by other magic users and supernatural threats.
Another aspect of Abjurers is their ability to prepare the party in advance to deal with magical threats using rituals, wards, and circles.
When Gandalf spikes his staff in the ground and cries, “You shall not pass!” he is absolutely doing an abjuration spell. In fact, I would venture out and say Gandlaf is an Abjurer. Watch the movies again if you don’t agree.
How much of his spell casting and his concern is about protecting others and shutting down other spellcasters? Except for that bit with the pinecones, all of it.
Another great Abjurer is Eleven from the Netflix series Stranger Things. Now, I know that is not DnD fantasy, even though they mention DnD quite a bit.
But Eleven’s biggest abilities, aside from Telekinesis and clairvoyance, is her ability to turn the aberrations away and send them packing back to The Upside Down.
Finally, from the world of horror, we have any of the priests from any of the Exorcism movies. Abjurers, like the priests, can use enchanted literature and ritual to send creatures that are Not From Here back home.
Whether you want to play an old mentor protecting the unitiated, the tortured edgelord overly familiar with the supernatural, or the cloistered monk shouldering his pack to push back the minions of hell one more time, the Abjurer is one option you should explore.
Protecting the Party at Tier 1
Abjuration magic is largely about protecting the party in the moment from physical and magical harm. To that end, your first few levels will be dedicated to those spells that boost AC.
Mage armor, shield, protection from good and evil, and absorb elements will be your primary, go-to spells.
Most of those spells only work on yourself, but protection from good and evil and mage armor have a range of touch, which means you will have to be right next to the ally you are hoping to support.
To this end, we recommend you take a few close-range cantrips, such as acid spray, in order to stay viable if you are threatened. If you choose to be an Elf or a Hobgoblin, you’ll have a bit more options as far as weapons and armor.
Don’t get me wrong – you are in the front in order to support the heavy hitters of your party, not to damage yourself.
However, if you are a tempting target, you can become a liability. Therefore, do what you can to protect yourself while supporting your teammates.
Finally, your Arcane Ward ability will definitely give you some cushion, so make sure to keep it as full as you can.
Protecting the Party at Tier 2
This is where the fun stuff happens! Counterspell and Dispel Magic are the iconic abjuration spells.
With these you can shut down enemy spellcasters in a big way, disarm magical traps, and even the playing field for your nonmagical party members to go in and clean house.
Banishment will make those pesky aberrations, fiends, and celestials go home and never return. And those creatures that are native to your plane of existence? They will still end up going somewhere, albeit for a short time.
Furthermore, your protection spells now become an environmental hazard for enemies. When you cast spells like Nondetection, Magic Circle, or Private Sanctum, you create a safe space for you and your friends to heal or hide.
Finally, you also become better at doing what you’ve been doing since level 1.
Intellect Fortress and Protection from Energy continue to improve your party’s odds of surviving magical encounters out to eat their brains, souls, auras, or gear. Not to mention that you can spread those temporary hit points from your Arcane Ward around too.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Abjurers understand this maxim instinctively. They are not likely to go around slinging nukes or messing with people’s minds.
These wizards understand that magic is a big, scary power that can irrevocably ruin the uninitiated. So these wizards are the great protectors of the realm.
Often you will find them multiclassing as clerics or paladins in an effort to further expand their ability to defend the weak and powerless from supernatural threats.
So go out there and save your buddies! Goodness knows that any adventuring party is going to need someone with intelligence to make sure they don’t all do something stupid.
Just kidding, you know how smart your friends are. They would never do something stupid and need you to come save them, right?