Skyrim Special Edition
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About this mod

Reduces cost, increases magnitude, increases charge speed, (optionally) improves ward absorb perk, and (optionally) adds a chance-based stagger to melee attackers.

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Better Wards

Makes the following changes to Skyrim's vanilla wards (lesser/steadfast/greater):
-Decreases the base cost for each spell and makes them follow a linear progression, 34/58/86 -> 20/30/40
-Increases the base strength of all wards by 25%, 40/60/80 -> 50/75/100
-Cuts charge time in half
-(Optional) Brief chance-based stagger against melee attackers. The chance to stagger a melee attacker scales with restoration. It is 70% at 20 restoration and 100% at 100. You must have the attacker relatively close to your crosshair (or center of the screen) for the stagger. Only the player can do this.
-(Optional) Additionally the Ward Absorb perk has been renamed Ward Master and has the following effect:
Wards cost 20% less and recharge your magicka when hit with spells.

The ward magicka absorb ratio has also been increased from 25% to 70% as well.

Everybody knows by now that vanilla wards were too costly. The cost reduction was aimed at making them usable, but not free. Also the vanilla spells got less efficient as you progressed to the next one. They now follow a linear progression, maintaining the same magnitude:cost ratio across the board. Credit to Macavity's mod Reduce Ward Cost for these numbers.

Increasing the base strength was to put them more in line with the destruction spells they were meant to block. In case you didn't know, wards operate as a shield that gets damaged when hit and recharges back to its full strength after a brief delay. That means even if you have a 40 magnitude ward up you cannot take two 25 damage spells in quick succession. If you do your ward will break and you will be staggered. Skyrim puts you in many situations where you have to face multiple enemy mages at the same time. Increasing the strength by 25% enables it to withstand hits quicker in succession (though still not too quick) without breaking because of the increased buffer.

I also increased the charge speed of all wards by 100%. I found a variable that, when increased, sped up the charging process. As Tolfdir said in-game, you can't just cast a ward with a fireball already coming at you or it will break because it hasn't fully charged yet. This change was intended to make this very thing possible. After increasing the charge time by this much I found I was able to "catch" a fireball from mid range if I cast my ward sometime during its flight. Casting one just before it hits will still result in your ward being broken as normal. Because wards negate your magicka regen while active I wanted to give players the option of casting wards on reaction, but only from the right range and with good timing. Increasing the charging speed also allows the ward to take hits a bit quicker in succession without breaking.

The chance-based stagger was added to make wards feel more like magical shields. The armor rating bonus is nice but hardly worth its cost against melee attackers because it doesn't stagger the them like a normal shield would. Having the chance to breathe and counter attack is an important element for a defensive mechanic and vanilla wards let the attackers just keep slashing away. I wanted the chance element so that they are still inferior to normal shields against melee early in the game but later they approach full strength. If you don't like this addition I made a separate version without the stagger.

Lastly I wanted to make the ward absorb perk more worth spending a perk on. Ward master reduces the cost by a fair amount. The biggest change though was increasing the absorb ratio from 25% to 70%. In vanilla absorbing a spell barely did anything to improve your situation. I initially had this ratio lower but I find most of my mages also have to continuously dump magicka into damaging spells at the same time. At 50% I could sustain a ward almost indefinitely but with no real room to cast other spells. Increasing it to 70% gives you some extra magicka to work with for damage output.

Hopefully these changes will make using wards more worthwhile, but not overpowered.

This mod will likely conflict with any other mod that specifically makes changes to the vanilla ward spells or the ward absorb perk, though not in a way that will break your game or cause CTDs. For compatibility with perk overhauls use the No Perk version and put Better Wards lower in your load order. The only thing that will differ is you won't have this mod's Ward Master perk.

Ordinator - Compatible with "No Perk" version
Wards Act Like Shields - Compatible

Only download one file. All the features marked optional are included in the base version of the mod. If you don't want these features download one of the alternate "No ___" versions.
Better Wards can be safely installed mid-playthrough. Installation with a mod manager like Mod Organizer or Nexus Mod Manager is recommended.

To manually install, extract the .7z file you downloaded to your Skyrim folder using a program that can do so, such as 7-zip.

Better Wards can be safely removed mid-playthrough. A mod manager like Mod Organizer or Nexus Mod Manager is recommened.

To manually uninstall, delete the following files from your Skyrim Data folder if present:


Q: Does this affect NPCs?
A: Yes, but NPCs can't stagger your physical attacks with their wards. The charge speed increase, magnitude increase, and ward absorb perk buff all affect NPCs.
Q: Does this work with Spellbreaker?
A: The Spellbreaker won't get the ward strength increase or the melee stagger, though as a shield it does still stop them from attacking fluidly. However like other wards, the charge speed is increased and it will benefit from the improved spell absorption from the Ward Master perk (formerly Ward Absorb).
Q: How did you increase charge speed?
A: The variable that effects how fast wards charge up to their maximum effectiveness is a Game Setting called fMagicWardPowerMaxBase. It starts at 1.3 and I made it 2.6. If you want wards to charge faster increase that variable even more.
Q: Can you make a version of this mod with XYZ?
A: I'm currently done with modding and not taking requests.