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Disambiguous This article is about skills in your skill bar. For the skill type "skill", see skill (skill type). For types of skills, see skill type.

Skills are special actions carried out by characters and foes in Guild Wars and are one of the central and most important parts of combat. With a single campaign, every profession has access to a set of around 70-80 skills, including about 15 elite skills, that are unique to that respective profession and most of them are dependent on one of this profession's attributes.

The following table lists counts of character skills by campaign and profession excluding temporary skills.

Legend: All (Elite) / PvE
Profession Core Prophecies Factions Nightfall Eye of the North Total
Warrior 40 (5) 35 (11) 30 (10) / 1 25 (10) / 1 10 140 (36) / 2
Ranger 40 (5) 35 (10) 30 (10) / 1 25 (10) / 1 10 140 (35) / 2
Monk 40 (5) 36 (10) 30 (10) / 1 25 (10) / 1 10 141 (35) / 2
Necromancer 40 (5) 37 (10) 30 (10) / 1 25 (10) / 1 10 142 (35) / 2
Mesmer 40 (5) 32 (9) 30 (10) / 1 25 (10) / 1 10 137 (34) / 2
Elementalist 40 (5) 39 (10) 30 (10) / 1 25 (10) / 1 10 144 (35) / 2
Assassin - - 75 (15) / 1 25 (10) / 1 10 110 (25) / 2
Ritualist - - 75 (15) / 1 25 (10) / 1 10 110 (25) / 2
Paragon - - 0 / 1 75 (15) / 1 10 85 (15) / 2
Dervish - - 0 / 1 75 (15) / 1 10 85 (15) / 2
Common 1 / 1 - - 0 / 3 0 / 50 (3) 1 / 54 (3)
Total 241 (30) / 1 214 (60) 330 (90) / 10 350 (110) / 13 100 / 50 (3) 1235 (290) / 74 (3)

Learning skills

A character can only learn skills of his primary and current secondary profession, changing secondary professions will temporarily hide the skills for the old secondary profession until you change back to it. Learning a skill means it is made available for this character to equip, but does not affect other characters this player has. This rule generally also applies to mobs in Guild Wars, but some mobs have multiple professions.

There are currently six ways to learn a skill in PvE:

  • Unlocking and learning skill
  1. Gaining it from a quest (usually as the reward).
  2. Talking to a skill trainer, expending some gold and 1 skill point. Every skill you buy increases the gold cost of the next skill, to a maximum of 1 platinum (1000 gold) per skill after buying 20 skills. Skill Trainers can be found in all towns and many outposts.
  3. Talking to a hero skill trainer, expending 1 hero skill point or 1 platinum and 1 skill point (Nightfall and Eye of the North only).
  4. Changing Secondary profession unlocks few skills and character is taught them.
  5. Capturing it from a dead boss with a Signet of Capture, permanently replacing the signet with the learned skill.
  6. Learning PvE-only skill for 3000 luxon/kurzick faction.
  • Unlocking skill only
  1. Unlocking a hero will also unlock all skills of his default skill set (Nightfall and Eye of the North only).
  2. Priest of Balthazar will unlock skill for faction.
  • Learning unlocked skill
  1. Using a tome, provided that it is previously unlocked for your account.
  2. Talking to a skill trainer located in home campaign for that skill.

Note that only way to learn elite skills, is either using Elite Tome or using Signet of Capture on high-level bosses in the Crystal Desert, the Southern Shiverpeaks, the Ring of Fire, and throughout Cantha and Elona.

Unlocking skills

There are two kinds of characters: roleplaying characters and PvP characters. Other than a few basic skill of each profession and the skills automatically given to PvP characters, each skill must be unlocked in order to use it on PvP characters.

Unlocking a Skill is closely related to learning a Skill.

  • The first time a player learns a Skill with any PvE character, that skill is unlocked on that player's account for current and future PvP Characters, as well as all heroes. In PvE, unlocking a Skill happens in the same three ways as learning a Skill.
  • There are Priests of Balthazar in every arena. By redeeming Faction by speaking to these Priests, Skills can be unlocked. Unlike the other methods, PvE characters who unlock skills in this way don't learn those Skills. On the other hand, players can unlock any locked Skill this way, regardless of the character's Professions.
  • Whenever a non-elite Skill becomes unlocked (either from learning it in PvE or unlocking it with faction), it becomes available from all Skill Trainers of the corresponding continent (Prophecies skills from Tyria, Factions from Cantha, Nightfall from Elona, and Core from all) for PvE characters to purchase but only if that skill is available for that profession. Elite skills must be captured from the appropriate boss to be learned in PvE.

Equipping skills

Skills are equipped by opening the Skills and Attributes panel and dragging them from there to the Skill Bar while inside staging areas. Without exception, a maximum of eight skills can be equipped by a character at any time. Each skill can only be equipped once (you can't have multiple copies of a skill on your Skill Bar). Only one elite skill and up to three PvE-only skills can be equipped at a time. While in explorable areas, missions, or arenas, the Skill Bar cannot be altered.

There are some exceptions to these rules:

  • When a character learns a skill as part of a quest reward, the player has the opportunity to replace any one of his character's current skills with the new skill, even while in a mission or explorable area.
  • The Signet of Capture can be equipped multiple times on your skill bar. To do this, you need to have purchased multiple copies of the signet from a skill trainer.
  • If an elite skill is captured with the Signet of Capture and there is already an elite skill equipped, both skills will remain equipped until the character enters another area. Only the first equipped elite skill will stay in the skill bar after changing an area.
  • When activated, certain skills, (the Signet of Capture, and the mesmer skills Echo, Arcane Echo, Arcane Mimicry, Arcane Thievery, Inspired Enchantment, and Inspired Hex) will replace themselves with another skill for the duration of the skill effect. Depending on the specific skills involved, it effectively causes one or more of the following, otherwise impossible scenarios:
    • Changing your skill bar during a mission or in an explorable area
    • Having the same skill more than once on your skill bar (only the mesmer skills or PvE skills can do this)
    • Having more than one elite skill on your skill bar.

Note that, upon zoning, your skill bar will be reset to what it was before you last left town, except for the ones acquired by Signet of Capture, which are permanently in your skill inventory now. If you have more than one elite skill on your bar because of a recent capture, however, all but the right-most one will be removed from the bar upon zoning.

Using skills

To use a skill, all of the following conditions have to be met:

  • The skill must be on the Skill Bar.
  • The character must be in a mission, explorable area, or arena.
  • The character must have a sufficient Energy or adrenaline to activate the skill.
  • The skill has to be recharged.
  • There must be a valid target selected if one is required.
  • You must have the valid weapon type wielded if one is required.

Targets are invalid if they are the wrong type (foe, ally, fleshy creature, minion, corpse, spirit), or protected by some effects (Spell Breaker, Obsidian Flesh). Some skills don't require targets (Lava Font).

The skill need not be from one of the character's professions. In practice, characters are usually restricted to skills of their own Profession. However, the mesmer skills Arcane Mimicry, Arcane Thievery, Arcane Larceny, Simple Thievery, Inspired Enchantment, Revealed Enchantment, Inspired Hex and Revealed Hex allow other skills to be used. If the mesmer "borrows" a skill that does not match his current professions, it will be used with an attribute rank of zero, unless the mesmer first uses the elite skill Signet of Illusions, which applies the attribute points in Illusion Magic to the next 1-3 borrowed skills used.

Core skills and campaign skills

Currently, all skills can be classified as belonging to a campaign or being "core":

  • Core skills are available across all campaigns.
  • Prophecies skills are available only to the owners of the original Guild Wars.
  • Factions skills are available only to owners of Guild Wars Factions.
  • Nightfall skills are available only to owners of Guild Wars Nightfall.

Skill overlap and duplicate skills

For the main article, see duplicate skill.

Some skills between the Prophecies and Factions campaigns are duplicates. For example, Prophecies' Heal Area and the Factions' Karei's Healing Circle differ only in their names and icons. For players with access to both campaigns, these duplicate skills allow you to make builds that can effectively use the same skill twice. Touch rangers make effective use of duplicates; by using both Vampiric Touch and Vampiric Bite, the ranger can "double" the use of the duplicated skill.

Skill use timeline

Activating a skill follows a certain timeline. T is short for time, the time difference between now and the time when activating the skill:

  1. T < 0
    Once a player clicks on the skill in the Skill Bar or presses the corresponding hotkey, the skill will be put in the action queue. The character will usually move until he is in range to activate the skill. A few skills, notably corpse affecting skills, will not cause the player to move into range; the player must do this manually. Skills without targets are automatically in range.
  2. T = 0
    The character is in range to activate the skill. If the target is invalid, the skill will not start, otherwise activation starts and the skill's cost must be paid.
  3. 0 < T < casting time
    The skill is being activated. The target may move out of range from this phase on. The skill can be interrupted or cancelled.
  4. T = casting time
    The activation is complete. If the target or skill has become invalid during the last phase (target dies, or is no longer dead, Spell Breaker was cast, player is hit by Blackout, etc.), the skill will fail. (Area of effect skills will cast successfully on dead targets.) If it resolves, all instantaneous and duration-based effects start now. The recharge time starts.
  5. Casting time < T < casting time + recharge time
    The skill is recharging and cannot be used. The recharge time for this skill instance can no longer be modified, except by effects that recharge this skill immediately.
  6. T >= casting time + recharge time
    The skill is recharged and ready to be used again.

< 0
= 0
< Casting time
Casting time
< Casting time + recharge time
Casting time + recharge time
> Casting time + recharge time
Effects Waiting for player to activate the skills In range to activate The skills is being activated The Casting is complete Recharging
Recharged and ready for re-use

Skill anatomy

A skill can be identified by a number of characteristics:

Name and icon

A skill's name is a unique identifier for each skill, and an Icon has a purely aesthetic value. There are currently no game mechanics that depend on a skill's name or icon. However all skills follow a color scheme depending on the profession and some skill types follow specific patterns. For example all Item Spells have the character whose ashes the item spell represents between two curtains.

Cost of using a skill

Skill costs have to be paid as soon as a skill is activated. The caster is charged the cost immediately upon activation regardless of whether the skill is succesfully performed or not. There aren't any skills that cost both energy and adrenaline.


A skill's effects resolve as soon as the skill's activation time is over and the skill resolves. At resolution, every effect is checked individually whether or not the target is valid for this effect.


Almost all linked skills have one or more effect variables in their description, which are colored green for easy recognition. In the game, each variable is of the form x...y, where x is the variable's value at 0 rank of the linked attribute, and y is the value at 12 rank. The value progresses linearly (before rounding) with respect to the linked attribute level, and always have integer values (before rounding) at rank 0 and 15. The formula is

VL = round(V0+L*(V15-V0)/15)

where VL is the value at rank L. Round to the nearest integer.

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