Ward Mage (Superseded)

(In the end, I wasn’t really pleased with this split class. It has been superseded by the glyph mage, based on the Glyphs of Cerilon article from Dragon #50.)

A ward mage is an arcanist dedicated to the study of symbols – specifically, magic symbols. These men of magic cast no spells but derive their power from the drawing of symbols and invoking of power words. Their knowledge lies in dusty tomes, arcane symbols, and (especially) wards. They believe wards to be the very first type of magic, and the basis of all other arcane traditions.

Although the secrets of ward magic is now obscure and largely forgotten, ward mages are adept in their use – a lore that they guard jealously.

I’ve been looking over ward magic from the Palladium FRPG. It’s an interesting system, but seems tricky to use in a game. So instead I’m going to retrofit the truename rules from the Tome of Magic. Like the binder, the ward mage is a special split class. Once again, I’ve limited ward mages to a three-level split class to keep the conversion work to a minimum.

Ward Mage Progression

Level XP Spellcasting
Special Ability
1 10,000 2nd-lvl Spells Minor Wards
2 20,000 3rd-lvl Spells Medium Wards
3 40,000 4th-lvl Spells Major Wards

Game Rule Information

Prerequisites: To learn ward magic, a character must be literate in at least three languages and be an experienced spellcaster. Both arcane and divine casters are eligible, and must be able to cast 2nd-lvl spells before becoming a ward mage. To learn more powerful wards, the character must meet the spellcasting requirements as given in the table above.

Alignment: Ward mages can be of any alignment, but tend to be Lawful or Neutral.

Split Class Restrictions: Ward magic is difficult and exacting, requiring focus and dedication. Ward mages are restricted from advancing in any other split classes, and characters who already possess levels in a split class are unable to advance as ward mages.

Special Abilities

Ward Magic: Wards are ancient mystic symbols capable of possessing or directing arcane energies. All wards are harmless until activated by the appropriate power words. Then – and only then – are they filled with magic. A ward mage is drained each time he activates a magic ward. Although he can prepare/create an arsenal of wards, a ward mage limited to activating one ward per day per class level.

Before activating a ward, it must first be inscribed. Wards can be carved or drawn on floors, doors, walls, trunks, books, weapons, armour, ships, and just about anything else including people. They can be obvious or cleverly concealed. A quick ward may be drawn in paint, ink, blood, chalk, or charcoal – although it will not be very durable and can be activated only once. An engraved or inlaid ward will take longer to create, but are more difficult to damage may be activated multiple times. At minimum, a ward requires one turn to inscribe.

When activating a ward, the ward mage can choose utter the power name backwards. This reverses the effect of the ward. Some wards may have different conditions when activated in reverse, such as affecting an area instead of a creature. Refer to the individual ward descriptions for details.

If the personal truename of a target is known, it can be used when activating a ward. If this is done, the target does not receive a saving throw against the effect. All ward mages learn their own personal truenames as part of their education, even if it is different from their common name.

Ward Descriptions

(Conversion notes for wards are provided here. Refer to the D&D 3e Tome of Magic for the equivalent truename utterances.)

Minor Wards:

  • Defensive Edge: Grant armour/shield +1 AC bonus, or armour/shield suffers -1 AC penalty.
  • Inertia Surge: Grant creature freedom from restricting effects, or affected area prevents movement.
  • Knight’s Puissance: Weapon gains +2 on attack rolls, or weapon suffers -2 penalty on attack rolls
  • Universal Aptitude: Creature gains +1 on skill checks, or all those in area suffers -1 penalty to skill checks.
  • Word of Nurturing, Minor: Give creature fast healing 1, or deal 1d6 damage to all creatures in affected area.

Medium Wards:

  • (Not yet converted.)

Major Wards:

  • (Not yet converted.)


About K-Slacker

Gamer and 5th-level magic-user.
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