Guards and wards was an arcane abjuration spell that could be used to protect an area or structure with a variety of magical effects and wards.[3][5][6][9]


This spell had numerous effects that operated on an area up to 200 ft2 (18.6 m2) per level of the caster and as much as 20 ft (6 m) tall. Earlier versions could cover a much larger volume.[note 1] The area could take any contiguous shape the caster desired, even layering the ward on top of itself to cover multiple stories, provided the maximum volume was not exceeded.[3][5][6]

Numerous magical effects could be triggered within the warded area; the first of these included the following:

  • Arcane Lock: This effect operated much as the arcane lock spell but could be applied to all the doors in the area.[3][5][6][9]
  • Confusion: A more specific version of the confusion spell would cause any intruder that was faced with a choice in direction (such as at a corridor junction or intersection) to believe they were going the wrong way. This effect would make the intruder question their choices roughly half of the time.[3][5][6][9]
  • Fog: Every corridor could be obscured by a thick fog that restricted vision (even darkvision) to a mere 5 ft (1.5 m).[3] Older versions of this spell restricted visibility to 10 ft (3 m).[5][6][9]
  • Lost Doors: This effect caused one door per level of the caster to appear to be nothing more than a plain wall, much like the silent image spell.[3][5][6][9]
  • Webs: Creating webs in the same manner as the web spell, this effect covered any and all stairs within the guards and wards effect. The difference between this effect and the spell was that the webs would regrow in 10 minutes if burned or damaged.[3][5][6][9]

Secondly, the caster could choose one of the following effects:

  • Dancing Lights: Four corridors could be programmed with dancing lights that would repeat a pattern for the duration of the guards and wards spell.[2][3][5][6][9]
  • Stinking Cloud: Pungent vapors appeared in two areas like the stinking cloud spell except that they would reform within 10 minutes if dispersed.[2][3][5][6][9]
  • Suggestion: In a place that encompassed up to a 5 ft (1.5 m) square, a mental suggestion spell could take effect on any creature that passed through the designated area.[2][3][5][6][9]

Guards and wards could not be dispelled by anything less than a Mordenkainen's disjunction spell.[3] A simple dispel magic spell could only be used to remove one specific effect within the warded area.[3][5][6][9]


Verbal and somatic components were required, plus incense had to be burned along with a small amount of brimstone (or sulphur[9]), oil, a knotted string, and small measure of umber hulk blood. In addition to these components, a little silver rod was used as a focusing object.[3][5][6][9]


The spell was attributed to Netherese arcanist M'dhal in −1164 DR and was originally called M'dhal's mantle.[1]



  1. For comparison purposes, a 12th-level sorcerer/wizard could ward an area of 2,400 ft2 (223 m2) and a volume of 48,000 ft3 (1,360 m3, roughly 30% of the volume of the Big Ben clock tower). A 2nd edition wizard could cover 160,000 ft2 (14,900 m2) regardless of level, and assuming a 10 ft (3 m) "story", that's a volume of 1,600,000 ft3 (44,700 m3, 50% bigger than the Washington Monument). A 12th-level 1st edition magic-user could ward an area of at least 45,000 ft2 (4,180 m2) and a volume of 900,000 ft3 (25,500 m3), (the description is ambiguous and open to interpretation). See page 84 of the Players Handbook 1st edition, and page 178 of the Player's Handbook 2nd edition or page 226 of the Player's Handbook 2nd edition (revised).


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