Guild Wars 2 – Play Your Way

Posted: 01/03/2012 by exacttec in Guild Wars 2
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Hey everybody, Jon Peters here with a look at how traits and attributes provide a deep level of customization to your Guild Wars 2 character. Put simply, attributes are characteristics that players can invest points into in order to increase their effectiveness. We have four basic attributes – power, vitality, precision, and toughness.


Let’s take a look at these new attributes and what they do. We’ve organized these attributes into offense, support, and profession-specific attributes.


  • Prowess: Improves the damage multiplier on critical strikes.
  • Malice: Improves the damage done by conditions like burning, poison, confusion, and bleeding.
  • Expertise: Improves the duration of all conditions inflicted by the character.


  • Concentration: Improves the duration of all boons applied by the character.
  • Compassion: Improves all outgoing heals that your character does, including self heals.

Profession-Specific Attributes

Each profession has a specific attribute that does something unique for each profession.

  • Brawn (warrior) — Improves the damage of warrior burst skills.
  • Willpower (guardian) — Decreases the recharge on all virtues.
  • Cunning (thief) — Decreases the recharge of the Steal ability.
  • Empathy (ranger) — Improves pet attributes.
  • Ingenuity (engineer) — Reduces the recharge on all tool-belt skills.
  • Guile (mesmer) — Reduces the recharge on all Shatter skills.
  • Intelligence (elementalist) — Reduces the recharge of the four elemental attunements.
  • Hunger (necromancer) — Increases the size of the necromancer’s life-force pool


When we first introduced the trait system, it was a flexible way to modify your character that helped build late-game customization and differentiation between characters. The new trait system does the same but does so in a way that makes these decisions easier to understand as well as more character defining.


Trait Points

From level 11 to 80, you receive one trait point per level. This means that every level 80 character will be assigning 70 points to help define their character.

Trait Lines

Every profession has five trait lines, and every line has 30 possible points that a player could allocate to it. Each time you place a point into a line, it improves two of your character’s attributes. The pair of attributes that get improved varies based on profession. For example, an elementalist that puts points into water magic will increase their Vitality and Healing attributes.

The trait lines for each of the professions, as well as the attributes tied to them, are as follows:


  • Strength: Power and Expertise.
  • Arms: Precision and Malice.
  • Defense: Toughness and Compassion.
  • Tactics: Vitality and Concentration.
  • Discipline: Prowess and Brawn.


  • Zeal: Power and Concentration.
  • Radiance: Precision and Expertise.
  • Valor: Toughness and Prowess.
  • Honor: Vitality and Compassion.
  • Virtues: Malice and Willpower.


  • Deadly Arts: Power and Expertise.
  • Critical Strikes: Precision and Prowess.
  • Shadow Arts: Toughness and Compassion.
  • Acrobatics: Vitality and Concentration.
  • Trickery: Malice and Cunning.


  • Marksmanship: Power and Expertise.
  • Skirmishing: Precision and Prowess.
  • Wilderness Survival: Toughness and Malice.
  • Nature Magic: Vitality and Concentration.
  • Beastmastery: Compassion and Empathy.


  • Explosives: Power and Expertise.
  • Firearms: Precision and Prowess.
  • Inventions: Toughness and Compassion.
  • Alchemy: Vitality and Concentration.
  • Tools: Ingenuity and Malice.


  • Domination: Power and Expertise.
  • Dueling: Precision and Prowess.
  • Chaos: Toughness and Concentration.
  • Inspiration: Vitality and Compassion.
  • Illusions: Malice and Guile.


  • Fire Magic: Power and Expertise.
  • Air Magic: Precision and Prowess.
  • Earth Magic: Toughness and Malice.
  • Water Magic: Vitality and Compassion.
  • Arcane Power: Concentration and Intelligence.


  • Spite: Power and Expertise.
  • Curses: Precision and Malice.
  • Death Magic: Toughness and Concentration.
  • Blood Magic: Vitality and Compassion.
  • Soul Reaping: Prowess and Hunger.

Minor Traits

Investing 5, 15, and 25 points in a single line will award the player a minor trait, which are unique bonuses that are dependent upon the number of points invested as well as the specific trait line in question. Think of these traits as a set of abilities that are designed to work well together and to help suggest a particular build or play style to the player.

For example, an engineer investing 25 points into the Tools trait line will receive one trait that will give him endurance whenever he uses a tool-belt skill, another trait that recharges all of his tool-belt skills when he reaches low health, and a third trait that gives him extra damage while at full endurance.

Major Traits

Investing 10, 20, and 30 points in a single line will unlock a major trait slot for the player. Each line has 12 different major traits that may be slotted into a major trait slot. These are major upgrades to player abilities and are designed to provide a lot of customization.

For example, a thief might slot a trait that drops a field of caltrops every time she dodges, or another trait that gives allies boons whenever she uses her Steal ability, or even another that gives her bonus damage whenever she flanks an enemy.

Training Manual

At level 11 you may obtain an adept’s training manual, then at 40 a master’s training manual, and at 60 a grandmaster’s training manual. The adept manual allows you to start spending trait points but caps the number of points in a line at 10. The master manual ups the cap to 20 points per line. The grandmaster manual allows you to completely fill a line with up to 30 points. Every time you use a training manual, you also receive a refund of all your trait points so you can experiment with your new options.


After a character has spent their trait points, they can visit a trainer to reset their traits and refund their previously spent points for a small fee.

We realized that an important part of building a character is some sense of permanence. With this new system, you are flexible enough to change if you really want to, but you should still feel like the choices you made matter while you are out adventuring or slogging your way through a dungeon. In competitive PvP, you have a separately saved trait build and can respec free of charge.


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