"Spellcaster" is a term that describes seven of the ten Guild Wars professions. Although the Assassin and Dervish professions also have spells, the term is generally used to refer to the five "pure" caster professions.
Magic is the prime arcane force powering spells, and has four principle schools to it – Preservation, Destruction, Aggression, and Denial. The four schools are linked to the four core caster professions – Monk, Elementalist, Necromancer, and Mesmer respectively. The Ritualist profession are an exception: due to their abiltiy in calling upon their ancestors for use rituals and ashes (since even before the introduction of spells) they are able to indirectly gain access to these four principle schools.
All pure spellcasters have 60 armor rating at max (not counting insignia or weapons) and use staves, wands and focus items. Both hybrid spellcasters have 70 armor rating at max (not counting insignia or weapons) and use two handed martial weapons.
Pure casters by campaign
Hybrid casters by campaign
Pure spellcasters have a large role in Guild Wars considering they take up half the profession choices. These roles are:
- Monks use divine magic for healing and protection. Their spells focus almost entirely on keeping their allies alive. Because many of their most powerful spells are enchantments, they are vulnerable to enchantment removal. While monks are capable of smiting their foes, they are generally ineffective at dealing damage (except to undead, who take double damage from holy damage). However, a Smiting Monk may be a significant foe should he focus on bringing utility skills such as Reversal of Damage.
- Necromancers use the dark arts to pressure their foes, often through hexes, conditions, and enchantment removal. Necromancers that specialize in Death Magic also use minions and wells against their foes. Necromancer pressure is especially potent because their skills tend to deal armor-ignoring damage in addition to their other effects.
- Mesmers specialize in shutdown skills such as Diversion. While many of the Mesmer's skills punish other spellcasters, a well-rounded Mesmer build will be able to at least annoy melee combatants in a pinch. Like the Necromancer, the Mesmer focuses on hexes, enchantment removal, and utility, and their spells tend to deal armor-ignoring damage as a side effect; unlike the Necromancer, Mesmers also have a large number of interrupt skills at their disposal.
- Elementalists, more than any other spellcaster, bring utility to the battlefield. Elementalists specialize in blinding their foes and snaring them. While the incidental damage from their spells is nowhere near equal that of the Necromancer or Mesmer, Elementalists can bring skills to assist on spikes, such as Lightning Orb. While many of their skills focus on hampering melee and flag runners, skilled use of their knockdown spells can be used to interrupt enemy spellcasting and their snares can hamper positioning. In small environments, Elementalists can also unleash devastating AoE damage.
- Ritualists are support-specialists: mixing healing, defensive, and offensive party support into their skills. Ritualists are unique because they summon spirits to support their allies or assault their enemies.
- The opposite of caster professions are the five martial professions.
- The game's artificial intelligence identifies a spellcaster as those wielding caster weapons or item spells. This affects the type of skill NPCs will use on allies and foes. Until a recent update, for example, Mesmer foes would only cast Chaos Storm on Assassins equipped with a staff and Paragons carrying a bundle, but not on Elementalists carrying a spear. This is still true in regular gameplay, but has been changed for Hard Mode, where casters are targetted regardless of the weapon they have equipped.