GW2 Character Traits

Guild Wars 2 game designer, Jon Peters, dished up some tasty information regarding GW2 Character "Traits" and how they are used to improve a character's abilities and effectiveness.

Traits come in Minor and Major varieties and combine with your skills and attributes, becoming part of your overall "build", in order to make your character even more powerful and unique. Each profession has 100 traits distributed across five unique "Trait Lines", similar to the profession-specific attribute lines in the original Guild Wars.

Beginning with level 11, each time your character levels up you'll receive one trait point. These points can be assigned to the various traits with players being able to invest up to 30 points in any one trait line. By the time you hit the Guild Wars 2 character level cap of 80 you'll have earned 70 trait points which is enough to fill 2 1/3 of your available trait lines.

For every point that's invested into a trait line, two of your character's attributes are improved. The pair of attributes that gets improved will vary depending on the character's profession. For example, a mesmer who puts points into Chaos trait line will increase their Toughness and Concentration attributes. With so many traits for each profession, there are countless variations to allow GW2 players to build a really unique character based on the choices they make during their game play.

TIP: While you're free to spend points in all 5 lines if you choose, most trait lines tend to pair best with either a particular weapon set or a particular playing style better than others might. For example, the Necromancer's Death line has some terrific traits for minion master builds and combines well with choosing a staff as your primary weapon.

The Three Tiers of Traits

In total there are three tiers of traits, each worth 10 points, for a total of 30 that you can spend in a single trait line. Starting at level 11 you'll gain 1 trait point each time you level,

At level 11 you can visit your local profession trainer who will sell you a book, an Adept's Training Manual, that unlocks the first tier of traits, giving you the ability to spend up to 10 points in each of the 5 trait lines. Then at level 40 you can get a Master's Training Manual, and at level 60 a Grandmaster's Training Manual. 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.

The three tiers of traits are :

  • Adept - Available at level 11, allows up to 10 points to be invested in any one line.
  • Master - Available at level 40, allows up to 20 points to be invested in any one line.
  • Grandmaster - Available at level 60, allows up to 30 points to be invested in any one line.

Major and Minor Trait Slots

Each trait line has a number of major and minor slots. Each trait line has twelve different major traits that can be slotted into a major trait slot. There are many more minor traits.

Investing 5, 15, and 25 points in a single trait line will award the player a minor trait. These offer unique bonuses that are dependent upon the number of points invested as well as the specific trait line in which they are invested. 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 instance, an engineer who invests 25 points in the Tools trait line will receive one trait that gives him endurance whenever he uses a tool-belt skill, another trait that recharges all of his tool-belt skills when his health gets low, and a third trait that gives him extra damage while his endurance bar is full.

When a player invests 10, 20, and 30 points in a single trait line, a major trait slot will be unlocked for that character. Major traits slots result in a major upgrade to the player abilities and provide a lot of customization options. Each trait line has 12 different major traits that can be slotted into a major trait slot.

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

GW2 Necromancer traits image

Trait Lines by Profession

The trait lines for each of the GW2 professions, as well as the attributes tied to them, are as follows:


  • 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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


  • Strength: Power and Expertise.
  • Arms: Precision and Malice.
  • Defense: Toughness and Compassion.
  • Tactics: Vitality and Concentration.
  • Discipline: Prowess and Brawn.
Some Guild Wars 2 players will worry about choosing the wrong trait line or wrong combination of traits for their character. Don't, as the rules for changing traits are extremely flexible. After you've spent your character's trait points, you have unlimited switching of major traits in trees you spent points in, whenever you are out of combat. If you want to reallocate all of your trait points you can visit a trainer who will reset your traits and refund all of your previously spent points for a small fee. In competitive PvP, you have a separately saved trait build and can respec free of charge.

While the GW2 trait system may appear to be deceptively simple on the surface, it still offers a lot of room for experimentation with various builds as there are countless unique trait combinations to try, which will let you actively master the profession you've chosen.

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