Each profession has a primary attribute available only to characters who have chosen that profession as their primary profession. For example, when chosen as a primary profession, the Elementalist has Energy Storage, which provides a larger Energy pool with which to use skills; the Mesmer has Fast Casting, which increases spell casting speed. The secondary profession you choose will not have access to this primary attribute, so it's important to note each profession's primary attribute when considering which profession will be your primary. The primary attribute lines are: Expertise (Ranger), Divine Favor (Monk), Strength (Warrior), Soul Reaping (Necromancer), Energy Storage (Elementalist), Fast Casting (Mesmer), Critical Strikes (Assassin), and Spawning [sic] (Ritualist.) [sic]
Attributes are the statistical descriptors for all creatures (including player characters) in Guild Wars. Most skills have an associated attribute that governs the effectiveness of that skill. Most weapons and offhands require a minimum investment in a specific attribute to function at their full capacity. Some attributes also have an inherent effect. The value of an attribute is known as "rank".
Primary and secondary attributes
Each profession has a primary attribute which also always has an inherent effect that is part of what "makes" the profession. One attribute from each profession is designated as its primary attribute and is only available to a character who takes it as their primary profession. Primary attributes tend to have fewer linked skills than secondary attributes.
Secondary attributes are every other attribute. A character will have all secondary attributes of their primary and secondary professions. This means that every character can eventually gain access to any secondary attribute and its associated skills. A majority of secondary attributes have no inherent effect.
Primary attributes have effects beyond the linked skills and items of the attribute. For example, Energy Storage will increase a character's maximum energy directly, and Strength will add to the armor penetration of every attack skill the character uses.
Secondary attributes, with few exceptions, only influence the skills they are linked to as well as proficiency with their related weapon type (where applicable). Exceptions include:
- See also: Damage calculation#Weapon requirements
Many weapons require a certain investment in a specific attribute to be used to their full potential. This requirement will be stated in the weapon information and only applies to the specific benefit that the requirement is listed for.
If the requirement is not met, the benefit tied to the attribute will be greatly reduced, though the exact penalty rules are unconfirmed. For example, Milius' Pillar would give the wielder +15 energy, +30 health, 10% HCT, and 20% HSR even at zero Earth Magic, but the damage would be greatly reduced.
List of attributes
Attribute points supply a character's base, "raw" attribute rank. An attribute can be raised to a maximum of 12 by spending progressively increasing numbers of attribute points. Attribute points are the only way to permanently increase a secondary profession's attribute
Each attribute has a corresponding rune that can be used to add an attribute-increasing suffix to armor. Runes add 1-3 ranks to an attribute, though the 2 and 3 rank runes come with a cost in maximum health. Only the most powerful rune on the character is considered for each attribute — the bonuses do not stack, but the health penalties do. As runes are restricted to the armor of their profession, only a character's primary profession attributes can be boosted in this manner
Headgear can also provide a +1 bonus to one of its profession's attributes. Hero headgear and some common headgear will add to the attribute of whatever rune is applied to it, and will add nothing without a rune.
Chance of increase
- Weapons can have upgrade components which give a chance to use a skill at a higher attribute rank each time a skill is used.
Several skills temporarily boost one or more attributes.
- Expert's Dexterity (stance): +2 to Marksmanship for 1...16...20 seconds
- Trapper's Focus (preparation): +0...2...2 to Wilderness Survival for 12...22...24 seconds
- Awaken the Blood (enchantment): +2 to Blood Magic and Curses for 20...39...44 seconds
- Aura of the Lich (enchantment): +1 to Death Magic for 5...37...45 seconds
- Masochism (enchantment): +2 to Death Magic and Soul Reaping for 10...34...40 seconds (PvE only)
- Armor of Frost (enchantment): +1 to Water Magic
- Elemental Attunement (enchantment): +2 to all elemental attributes for 25...53...60 seconds
- Glyph of Elemental Power (glyph): +2 to all elemental attributes for the next 10 spells for 25 seconds
- Glyph of Energy (glyph): +1...2...2 to all elemental attributes for the next 1...3...3 spells
- Elemental Lord (enchantment): +1 to all elemental attributes for 40...56...60 seconds (PvE only)
- Master of Magic (enchantment): All elemental attributes set to 8...13...14 for 1...49...61 seconds
- Ritual Lord (skill): +2...4...4 to all ritualist attributes for 5...29...35 seconds for one skill
- PvE only
- Certain attribute-increasing blessings are available from avatars of the gods.
- Four consumables increase all attributes by one (except attributes provided by attribute blessings, e.g. a character that does not have Necromancer as their primary nor secondary profession and is under the effects of Necromancer of Grenth will not have any of the Necromancer attributes, such as Soul Reaping and Blood Magic, increased by any of these consumables).
- While adventuring in Eye of the North, your character is treated as being level 20 if it is below level 20 by Journey to the North, which sets one attribute to rank 12 and three additional attributes to rank 9.
There are several skills and effects that can temporarily lower a character's attribute rank:
- Atrophy (hex): Sets the primary attribute to 0 for 3...6...7 seconds.
- Wail of Doom (hex): Sets all attributes to 0 for 1...3...4 seconds.
- Master of Magic (enchantment): Will decrease any high-rank elementalist attributes to 8...13...14 (e.g. from 15)
- Paranoid Indignation (hex): Decreases all non-zero attributes by 2 for 20 seconds.
- Touch of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh: Sets all attributes to 0 for 20 seconds.
- Stone Spores (environment effect): Decreases all attributes by 2.
- Weakness (condition): Decreases all attributes by 1.
- Under some disguises, forms and festival effects characters have their primary attribute set to 0:
- While adventuring in Eye of the North, your character is treated as being level 20 if it is below level 20 by Journey to the North. Any runes on your armor which boost attributes are nullified. No part of the rune works, that is, you won't get -75 health for a superior attribute rune which isn't actually doing anything. Skills which boost your attributes, such as Glyph of Elemental Power, Elemental Lord, Awaken the Blood no longer function correctly when this buff is applied.
- Attributes are capped at rank 20, the maximum that can be reached through runes and skill effects; however, items that offer a 20% chance of boosting skills by +1 can temporarily bypass this cap.
- Skills and Attributes Panel will show boosted attributes as blue numbers and reduced attributes as red numbers.
- Signet of Illusions, Symbolic Celerity, and Symbols of Inspiration causes certain skills to use the rank of a certain attribute.