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This is a follow up from my previous question "Is this Homebrew "Protective Aura" spell balanced?"

Inspired loosely by The Witcher's Quen Sign, I've created this abjuration spell that's designed to completely negate the damage from a single attack (or similar instantaneous instance of damage like a fall or spell), a whole body shield that dissipates after one use.

Shielding Ward

2nd-level abjuration

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S
Duration: 1 minute (Concentration)
Class: Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer, Wizard, Warlock

A magical aura envelopes the caster's body, protecting it from damage. While the spell is active, if the caster takes any damage from a single instance such as an attack, a fall, or a spell, the caster must make a Constitution saving throw to maintain concentration. On a success, the caster takes no damage; on a failure, the caster takes half damage. Either way, the spell ends.

Here's where it gets a bit tricky. The original "At Higher Levels" ability was a bit of a point of contention:

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the spell remains active for an additional instance of damage for each slot level above 2nd, provided concentration is maintained and the duration hasn't expired.

Even though I have increased the spell level as an attempt to justify it, and I still wish to keep it if it works at this level - I have created an alternative in case it's too broken:

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the spell ruptures with a mighty force when destroyed. All creatures within 5 feet of the caster must make a Strength saving throw; on a failed save, the creature is knocked back 5 feet for each spell slot above 2nd.

If I need to be more specific about "Balanced":

  • Which "At Higher Levels" effect is more balanced and why?
  • Does this spell's power match it's level or should it be higher or lower?
  • Could this spell be easily abused, if so how and what should be added to the description to prevent such a thing?
  • Is it redundant to reiterate concentration and duration at the end of the first "At Higher Levels" spell's description?
  • And most importantly, Does the spells description make sense, or should the description be re-worded a bit?

To clarify in case it needs to be, the caster still makes a concentration check every time it is hit with damage, regardless of if the spell nullifies it or not.

Also "Constitution check to maintain concentration" was done in replacement of "Concentration Check", unless I'm missing something, these are identical statements only "Concentration Check" is not officially mentioned.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there any logic behind the strange concentration mechanic which isn't present in any other spell that I know of? I am not certain enough on the balance aspect, but mechanically this just seems 'off'. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Oct 24 at 12:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd recommend playtesting the ability in its various forms and see what works best, then come back to us. 5 hours between iterations for a homebrewed spell is a bit short. See this meta question for some advice: rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/9212/… \$\endgroup\$ – JRodge01 Oct 24 at 12:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NobbynobLittlun: Don't answer in comments, even partially. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 25 at 20:01
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One issue I see with this spell is that it just seems like a less effective Resilient Sphere and there are other low-level spells that are arguably better.

A sphere of shimmering force encloses a creature or object of Large size or smaller within range. An unwilling creature must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is enclosed for the duration.

Nothing—not physical objects, energy, or other spell effects—can pass through the barrier, in or out, though a creature in the sphere can breathe there. The sphere is immune to all damage, and a creature or object inside can't be damaged by attacks or effects originating from outside, nor can a creature inside the sphere damage anything outside it.

This is a 4th-level Wizard spell, costs 1 Action to cast and has concentration for up to 1 minute. This spell is strictly better and does not have any limits on how many times it can protect you. Also, this protection is guaranteed, you don’t need to roll to see if you take half damage or not. With that in mind, there is zero point to up-casting Shielding Ward past 3rd level because Resilient Sphere does its job but better. And casting Shielding Ward past 4th level is wasting higher-level spell slots.


Also, spells like Blade Ward, Absorb Elements, Feather Falling, Shield, Shield of Faith and Blur just to name a few cover a significant portion of what your spell achieves. Either by making you harder to hit, in the cases of Blur, Shield and Shield of Faith, or by reducing or nullifying the damage you take from a specific source, as in the case of Blade Ward, Absorb Elements and Feather Falling. Further, with the exception of Blur being 2nd level, all these spells are 1st level or lower.

Does this spell's power match it's level or should it be higher or lower?

No, for what this spell does, it feels like it should be a higher level. However, by making it a higher level, it gets made redundant by Resilient Sphere.

Does the spells description make sense, or should the description be re-worded a bit?

Considering that it feels a bit too powerful to be a 2nd level spell, as it is very easily encompassing several 1st level spells and even stepping on the toes of higher-level spells like Fire Shield and Resilient Sphere to some degree, I feel the spell does need rewording.


What I would do is change the spell to make it more similar to Armour of Agathys. Its a 1st level spell that has a casting time of 1 Action, duration of 1 hour, grants you 5 temporary hit points and deals 5 cold damage to anyone who makes a melee attack against you. At higher levels, you get an additional 5 hit points and it deals 5 more damage for every spell slot above 2nd.

What I would do is remove the damage aspect, change the duration to concentration up to 1 minute and instead put:

A protective shield surrounds your body. This shield has 5 hit points. While this spell is active, the caster can't be damaged by attacks. If the shield’s hit points drop to 0, the spell ends early. At higher levels, when you cast this spell using a 3rd level spell slot or higher, the shield gains 5 max hit points for each spell slot above 2nd.

This way, the shield only lasts temporarily and by specifying the caster “can’t be damaged by attacks”, this opens up the possibility of environmental damage. This prevents the spell from stepping on the toes of similar-level spells, like Feather Fall and Water Breathing. It also means that other spells which grant resistance or immunity aren’t being overshadowed by this spell.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Resilient Sphere isn't "just better" because it also prevents you from doing anything useful while it's up. You can't even move while it's active. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Oct 26 at 7:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik Thats not necessarily true, first of all you can move whilst in the sphere “An enclosed creature can use its action to push against the sphere's walls and thus roll the sphere at up to half the creature's speed”. Second, you can cast it on a hostile creature to take them out of the fight or cast it on an ally after they’ve taken their turn. You can cast any number of healing or buff spells on yourself while the spell is active. An Eldritch Knight could use Action Surge, make an attack, cast a cantrip with a bonus action and then cast Resilient Sphere with their second action. continued \$\endgroup\$ – Liam Morris - Reinstate Monica Oct 26 at 8:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Alternatively, an EK with Improved War Magic could make a weapon attack with a bonus action and then cast RS as per this line in the Sage Advice Compendium “That said, a DM would break nothing in the system by allowing an Eldritch Knight to reverse the order of the cantrip and the weapon attack.” It is logical to assume if you can reverse the order of War Magic, you can reverse the order of Improved War Magic. Also don’t forget, it does not take an action to break concentration. You can cast RS, end concentration on a later turn (likely after you’ve healed yourself), and then take a full turn. \$\endgroup\$ – Liam Morris - Reinstate Monica Oct 26 at 8:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ A further thought i’ve just had, after casting RS, on a later turn you could take a Readied action along the lines of “if RS gets dispelled, i will cast Fireball at that enemy” or “if X happens, i will break concentration and cast Fireball”. Granted, while most of these suggestions are to do things before casting the spell or after ending it, they are happening within the same turn of casting the spell or allowing you a full turn afterwards. \$\endgroup\$ – Liam Morris - Reinstate Monica Oct 26 at 8:50
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In my estimation shielding ward is inferior to many of the defensive spells.

Mirror image doesn't do much if most foes don't rely on sight or don't make attacks. However, outside of those rare encounters, mirror image is likely to prevent 2 to 3 times more damage, without concentration.

Shield and absorb elements have a narrower use, but their triggers are still quite common (especially shield), they use an reaction instead of an action, they are one level lower, and they don't use concentration.

Blink protects you from basically all kinds of effects including damage for 50% of the rounds, and is only one level higher.

Death ward prevents one instance of unconsciousness or instant death, it lasts 8 hours without concentration, can be cast on others, and is only 2 levels higher.

The only thing close to abuse that I can think of is readying the spell until a predictably big instance of damage (like a breath weapon). This can spike the effectiveness of shielding ward, but depends heavily on the player's familiarity with the monsters.

Another consideration, is the class' spell list. Sorcerers and Wizards can choose from all the above listed spells except death ward so the introduction of shielding ward does not change much for them. The Warlock has access to some of those spells as well as armor of Agathys which works very well with Pact Magic, so the introduction of shielding ward doesn't change much here either. However, the Paladin and especially the Ranger have less good defensive spells to chose from, so shielding ward will make a difference.

If your benchmark are the Wizard, Sorcerer, and Warlock, then I think you have room to make the shielding ward stronger. The interaction with concentration is unusual and should be removed. I think you can fix both of those problems by removing the 'save no damage' and lowering the spell's level. Moreover, self spells refer to the caster as 'you'. Finally, the number of damage instances can grow with the spell level, but with a 1:2 ratio like magic weapon. Hence, I would play test one the following:

Shielding Ward

1st-level abjuration

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute
Class: Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer, Wizard, Warlock

A magical aura envelopes your body, protecting it from damage. For the duration you have have resistance to all damage. The first time you take damage, the spell ends.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the spell ends the second time you take damage instead of the first. When you use a spell slot of 5th level or higher, the spell ends the third time you take damage instead.

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Quite overpowered with the first bonus effect.

Multiple absorptions per spell cast is just plain problematic. About the only way I could see that even potentially working is if it was changed to check per potential damage die, and the check was made before hit/miss was actually determined. Otherwise, you're encroaching hard into the territory of a 9th level spell with 500 gold worth of rare material costs, invulnerability.

You don't mention the DC of your concentration check. You might be able to salvage the spell as-written if the DC is the damage to be mitigated rather than 10. I'd want to playtest that pretty hard, though. My gut says that it would make the spell still very powerful at low levels, but largely pointless at higher levels. This isn't inherently problematic. The Sleep spell is a thing, and it has the same kind of power curve.

I don't like the Thunderwave on higher level casts. It adds chaos more than anything. I'd probably just avoid using it above second level on anything besides a paladin. This may be enough to get balance for you, though. Still maybe not at second level. Is this equivalent in power to Warding Bond or Protection from Poison? I'd say no.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In regards to the DC, i would assume they are using the DC to maintain concentration, page 203 of the PHB: “Taking damage. Whenever you take damage while you are concentrating on a spell, you must make a Constitution saving throw to maintain your concentration. The DC equals 10 or half the damage you take, whichever number is higher.” \$\endgroup\$ – Liam Morris - Reinstate Monica Oct 25 at 11:44
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  • Which "At Higher Levels" effect is more balanced and why?

I would say neither.

I looked through all spells tagged with Warding on DnDBeyond. Only two (out of 27) 5th level or lower defensive combat spells gain any benefit from being upcast at all.
Those two spells are Absorb Elements (which increases retaliatory damage on a melee attack afterwards) and Armor of Agathys (which increases temporary HP gain by 5/level along with retaliatory damage from getting hit).

It's ok to have a spell without any upcasting benefits.

If you're just desperate to have upcasting benefits, do not make them increase the defensive benefits of the spell.

  • Does this spell's power match it's level or should it be higher or lower?

Even with no upcasting benefits, it should probably be a higher level.
For reference, Primordial Ward is a 6th level druid spell that grants resistance to one elemental damage type - and can turn into immunity to that damage type for one round, which ends the spell.

By my untrained eye, your spell is:

  • (+1) Better - works on every damage type
  • (-2) Worse - no passive resistance
  • (-1) Worse - only affects one source of damage rather than a whole round

So.. approximately level 4? We need to remember that Immunity is really strong.

On the other hand, Mirror Image is your spell, but less reliable and works three times.

Which, by my untrained eye, your spell is:

  • (+1) Better - works on saves as well as attacks
  • (+1) Better - Works unfailingly on the triggering damage
  • (-2) Worse - 1 use instead of 3 uses

Which lands it at 2nd level.

I would split the difference here and call it 3rd.

  • Could this spell be easily abused, if so how and what should be added to the description to prevent such a thing?

With upcasting that increases defensive benefits, yes. Without upcasting, no - a sorcerer might use it to gain immunity as long as they have sorcery points (with Quicken spell), but they burn resources fast while doing that, so it's probably ok.

  • Is it redundant to reiterate concentration and duration at the end of the first "At Higher Levels" spell's description?

You can probably get rid of the concentration check and just make it reliable for the one instance of damage - and let the character choose not to use it (with the normal possibility of losing the spell to the concentration check for damage they just took). Without upcasting benefits, you have some room to make the spell more reliable and more usable without making it unreasonably powerful - Shield is a good example of an extremely reliable and usable spell that could not be that way if upcasting it had benefits.

  • And most importantly, Does the spells description make sense, or should the description be re-worded a bit?

It's pretty well-written for how it works - though if you keep the concentration mechanic in, that should be cleaned up.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Primordial ward gives resistance to all those elemental damage types, not just one as you claim. Whereas mirror image does not require concentration. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Oct 26 at 0:25

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