A ward is a priest ritual that has been bestowed on an item, that can take effect when the item is stolen from someone or taken from their corpse. It is one use only--after being triggered, or after failing to trigger, it's gone.
Up to three wards may be bestowed on an item. The item must be consecrated to your deity for you to be able to ward it. It is perfectly possible to mix wards from different deities by, for example, consecrating something to Gapp, warding it with a Gappic ritual, then consecrating it to Sandelfon and using Divine Sentinel to put a Sandelfonic ritual on it, but remember that for faith rods and prayer beads, it will destroy the item's charge (or, for impressed rods, nearly destroy it) to be reconsecrated.
To ward an item, you must first perform one of the following rituals on it:
- Divine Guard, which allows you to bestow a ward on an item that does not already have one
- Divine Sentinel, which allows you to bestow a ward on an item that already has up to two wards on it
- (Removed from game) Wicker Ward used to bestow a ward on an item of furniture and seemed not to require that the item be consecrated, but it got removed from the game along with house theft.
Each ritual that can be bestowed as a ward has a different effect. Offensive rituals affect the thief, defensive rituals affect the victim, curing rituals generally reverse themselves and affect the thief (dealing damage or whatnot), and miscellaneous rituals vary in whether they affect the thief, the victim, or the item.
It's thought that the victim's faith.items.scroll bonus affects whether the ward triggers, though this is uncertain. It's also unknown whether the bonuses of the priest who bestowed the ward matter.
If you look at a warded item in someone else's inventory, it will be obvious that it is warded, because it will have this like after its description:
The <item> looks as if it might violently object to being stolen.
If, on the other hand, the item is in your own inventory, or on a corpse, you will get more detailed information. The line looks something like this, instead:
It is bathed in a white aura.
Or perhaps like this:
It has a colourful aura, with flickers of dark white and red.
Anyone can see this line, even those who worship no deity.
The colour, or colours, of the aura show the kind of ritual, or rituals, the item has on it.
If the colour is "dark", that means that there are two rituals of that type on the item. If it's "ominous", that means there are three rituals of that type.
If an item is in your possession, you can also meditate over it at a high altar. This will tell you which specific rituals it's warded with, and the deity of the priest who bestowed them.
Stealing a warded item from someone, or taking it from their corpse, can trigger a ward! By doing this, obviously, you're taking your life into your hands, since there are several fun ward combinations that can kill you outright. However, since you've read the previous section, you know how to avoid this... right? Right.
Taking warded items from corpses is not skillchecked and will always trigger the ward, unless the item was simply placed on the corpse (see below). Stealing warded items likely uses faith.items.scroll.
Note that if a container contains warded items, and you take or steal the container, all of the wards inside of it may trigger.
Scouring wards from an item can also trigger them, and it seems to be more difficult to scour multiple wards at a time without triggering them.
If you plant an item on someone, then steal it from them, the ward will not trigger normally--it will instead do a small amount of damage and leave the ward intact. (However, if someone else steals it, it will trigger as usual.) Killing them and taking the planted item from the corpse will similarly not trigger the ward (though if a different person takes it than the one who planted it, it may not do any damage).
Similarly, if you place an item on a corpse, taking the item from the corpse again will not trigger the ward.
Ward testing can be more problematic for npks than for playerkillers, but testing the effect of a ward when taken from a corpse is fairly simple. First, there are a few npcs who will take items given to them--poor beggars in Ankh-Morpork will accept various items, and tramps in Djelibeybi will accept daggers. Giving them a warded item, then killing them and taking it from their corpse is an easy matter, and will trigger the ward. Similarly, you can throw a warded weapon at an npc--if it hits, it will end up in their carried inventory. This requires some skill, although not much for weak targets.
For testing the effect of a ward when the item is stolen, the capture the flag arena is probably the easiest choice. Other options include:
- Getting rid of all of your items except the warded one(s), then following an npc thief around and hoping.
- Finding an npc with that magical combination of 1)little enough perception that you can steal from them, 2)enough faith.items.scroll that you'll probably trigger the ward, and 3)poor enough defensive skills that you can hit them with a thrown weapon.
Who uses wards?
Obviously, any player might have their items warded. Aside from players, npc priests often have wards on some of their items, which range from the merely entertaining (Summon Fluff), to the annoying (Paralysis, Stasis), to the potentially deadly (triple Cure Serious Wounds--watch out for those ominous green auras!). If you're uncertain whether it's something you can survive, it may be best to wait for the corpse to decay, or use Withering Touch to destroy the corpse (taking items from the ground doesn't trigger wards).
A summary of the effects different rituals have when bestowed as wards.
|Artefact Inquisition||Victim sees artefact information about item, if applicable.|
|Breathe Underwater||Victim gets gills.|
|Celestial Anchor||Thief is anchored.|
|Cure Light Wounds||Thief is hurt.|
|Cure Medium Wounds||Thief is hurt.|
|Cure Serious Wounds||Thief is hurt.|
|Dark Sight||Victim gets night vision.|
|Detect Alignment||Victim sees item's alignment.|
|Detect Magic||Victim sees if item is magical.|
|Devout Inquisition||Victim gets information about the deity pool.|
|Divine Guard||Cannot be bestowed as ward.|
|Divine Hand||Thief is transported to place ward was bestowed, or to butchers' guild freezer.|
|Divine Sentinel||Cannot be bestowed as ward.|
|Dust Devil||Dust devil is summoned, obeys victim.|
|Endless Halls||Thief is put into Endless Halls maze.|
|Find||Cannot be bestowed as a ward.|
|Food of Life|
|Holy Sacrifice||Cannot be bestowed as a ward.|
|Life of the Party|
|Light||Light performed on item.|
|Longsight||Cannot be bestowed as ward.|
|Major Shield||Victim is shielded.|
|Paralysis||Thief is paralysed.|
|Raise Dead Pet|
|Raise Dead||Cannot be bestowed as ward.|
|Remember Place||Cannot be bestowed as ward.|
|Resurrect||Cannot be bestowed as ward.|
|Sacred Fins||Victim receives fins.|
|See Consecration||Victim can see holy aspects of things.|
|Splash||Thief gets wet.|
|Stasis||Thief is trapped in stasis sphere.|
|Summon Fluff||Fluff appears on victim/corpse.|
|Tongues||Victim can speak different languages.|
|Totem||Totem is summoned, obeys victim.|
|Unquiet Spirit||Cannot be bestowed as a ward.|
|Warm||Thief is warmed.|
|Withering Touch||Cannot be bestowed as a ward.|
- Although this seems not to be true for some small animals, who presumably aren't strong enough to carry it. A light weapon might still work.