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Regarding the Arcane Ward wizard class feature it states

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.

A player of mine is, probably correctly, asserting that RAW this means he can, for example, ritual cast Alarm to regain his Arcane Ward's HP as there is no specification that a spell slot needs to be expended.

The player and I are in agreement that for balance reasons this wont be happening, but I am curious about whether he is technically (the best kind of) correct or if we both missed something in the rules.

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That is correct

As you have quoted, there is no difference in a spell cast via Ritual or spell slots and both refill the Arcane Ward.

But, it is not as bad balance-wise as you think. You still have the hard cap of (PHB, 115)

The ward has a hit point maximum equal to twice your wizard level + your Intelligence modifier.

This is also confirmed via published Sage Advice

Q: Does casting alarm as a ritual heal Arcane Ward?

A: Any abjuration spell of 1st level or higher cast by an abjurer can restore hit points to his or her Arcane Ward. As is normal for healing, the ward can’t regain more hit points than its hit point maximum: twice the wizard’s level + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier.

But it's not that bad

It'll never pass that and that's okay. This is what the abjuration wizard does! However, as DM, you can always say there isn't enough time to complete the ritual spell (which is 11 minutes.)

Mearls has said this isn't intended

rules as written yes, as intended no

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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth mentioning as well that casting a spell through a magical item would work, whether that is intended or not has yet to be determined near as I can tell, since the DMG says "Some magic items allow the user to cast a spell from the item." So the caster still does actually cast which would meet the requirements of Arcane Ward. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth Apr 22 '18 at 14:33
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WotC Q&A says that this is fine.

Q: Does casting alarm as a ritual heal Arcane Ward?

A: Any abjuration spell of 1st level or higher cast by an abjurer can restore hit points to his or her Arcane Ward. As is normal for healing, the ward can’t regain more hit points than its hit point maximum: twice the wizard’s level + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier.

From: http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/sageadvice_july2015

Bear in mind...this is a marginal benefit at best. Every time you cast Alarm would take 11 minutes. Time that is being spent casting a spell, and thus is not time that would count towards any sort of Rest.

And, as you only regain 2x Spell Level hp to the ward, you'd only be recovering 2 hp to the ward for 11 minutes of non-rest effort

So, for a 5th level (18 int) abjurer to replenish their Ward from zero, they'd have to cast the spell 7 times, taking 77 minutes. Time the rest of the party would have to stand there twiddling their thumbs, and also time that the Wizard is not Resting.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The time-spent-idle consideration is another reason why I am ruling against it. Also, I haven't looked into higher level abjuration rituals that might possibly be available and don't know what ones will be coming down the pipe in future publications. Slippery slope. \$\endgroup\$ – JackChance Apr 22 '18 at 18:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JackChance Alarm is the only Abjuration ritual available to a Wizard. The other two abjuration rituals are available to Clerics: Ceremony (1st level, also available to Paladins) and Forbiddance (6th level). So a Cleric could significantly benefit from a 1 level dip into Abjurer if they are willing to spam that ritual \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Apr 22 '18 at 19:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @guildsbounty A 1 level dip into Wizard won't get you an Arcane Ward, because Wizards don't pick a subclass until L2. Even then, it won't be much of a ward because it's based on Wizard class level. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Feb 7 at 14:12
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Yes, He is Correct

There is nothing in the RAW that prevents the Wizard from ritual casting the Alarm spell over and over again to recover the Arcane Ward's HP. However, there are certain considerations to take into account:

Long Casting Time

Each ritual casting of Alarm would take 11 minutes.

Minor Recovery

Each ritual casting of Alarm would recover 2 hit points.

Poor Efficiency

Recovering a significant amount of HP for the Arcane Ward in this manner would require 1-2 hours. That's a fair amount of time to use up each day tied to a location and focused on spellcasting via ritual casting. I'd toss in random encounters and other potential dangers to spice things up as a DM. It certainly would not be a viable option in a time-pressure situation.

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