GuildWars Wiki
Disambiguous This article is about runes used on armor. For the rune used on bags, see Rune of Holding.


A rune is a kind of upgrade item that is applied to a character's armor. Runes differ from insignia - the other kind of armor upgrade - in that runes add a suffix modifier to the armor, whereas insignia add a prefix modifier. Each piece of armor can be upgraded with one insignia and one rune.


Most runes are available in three levels of potency: minor, major, and superior. A rune's potency is easily distinguishable by its appearance: a minor rune is a small scrap of parchment; a major rune is a large parchment square; a superior rune is a large scroll. Once identified, a rune's potency will be noted in its name; for example, "Rune of Major Vigor." Some runes are available only as a single level of potency; see the notes on these runes below under Types.


Some runes are usable by all professions while others are profession-specific. A rune's linked profession is easily identified by its appearance; see the table at the right for the symbol that matches each profession. Profession-specific runes also note the linked profession in their name, even before being identified.


Prof. Minor Major Superior
Common-icon Rune Vigor Minor Rune Vigor Major Rune Vigor Sup
Warrior-icon Rune Warrior Minor Rune Warrior Major Rune Warrior Sup
Ranger-icon Rune Ranger Minor Rune Ranger Major Rune Ranger Sup
Monk-icon Rune Monk Minor Rune Monk Major Rune Monk Sup
Necromancer-icon Rune Necro Minor Rune Necro Major Rune Necro Sup
Mesmer-icon Rune Mesmer Minor Rune Mesmer Major Rune Mesmer Sup
Elementalist-icon Rune Elementalist Minor Rune Elementalist Major Rune Elementalist Sup
Assassin-icon Rune Assassin Minor Rune Assassin Major Rune Assassin Sup
Ritualist-icon Rune Ritualist Minor Rune Ritualist Major Rune Ritualist Sup
Paragon-icon Rune Paragon Minor Rune Paragon Major Rune Paragon Superior
Dervish-icon Rune Dervish Minor Rune Dervish Major Rune Dervish Superior

There are four distinct types of runes, each providing a different kind of inherent effect.

Attribute Runes
These runes provide a bonus to a single attribute such as Fire Magic or Strength. Major and superior attribute runes also lower your maximum health.
NOTE: Health penalties on these runes do stack. Using multiple runes of the same attribute will only benefit you with the highest bonus but will penalize you with the combined health penalties of all. See the section on stacking below.
  • Usability: Profession-specific - can only use attribute runes for attributes of your primary profession (e.g. a N/R can use Curses runes but not Marksmanship runes)
  • Campaign: Same as profession (e.g. Ranger runes are Core items; Dervish runes are Nightfall items)
  • Effects:
Potency Minor Major Superior
Attribute +1 +2 +3
Health no change -35 -75
Absorption Runes
These runes provide damage reduction against physical damage. See the Absorption article for details on damage reduction.
  • Usable by: Warrior only
  • Campaign: Core
  • Effects:
Potency Minor Major Superior
Reduces physical damage by: 1 2 3
Stat Bonus Runes
These runes provide a bonus to either a player's health or energy.
NOTE: Runes of Vitae and Attunement are single-potency runes and are equivalent to minor runes in appearance and acquisition. The benefits from these runes will stack, unlike other runes.
  • Usable by: All professions
  • Campaign: Core
  • Effects:
Rune Minor Major Superior
Vigor Health +30 Health +41 Health +50
Vitae Health +10 n/a n/a
Attunement Energy +2 n/a n/a
Condition Reducing Runes
These runes grant a 20% reduction in the duration of certain conditions suffered by your character.
NOTE: All of these runes are single-potency and are equivalent to major runes in appearance and acquisition for PvE, but they only cost 1,000 faction to unlock in PvP.
  • Usable by: All professions
  • Campaign: Core
  • Effects:
Rune Conditions reduced
Clarity Blind, Weakness
Purity Disease, Poison
Recovery Dazed, Deep Wound
Restoration Bleeding, Crippled
Bug Bug! All condition-reduction runes reduce the length of Bleeding.


Runes are found as components of salvage armor obtained as loot. The rarity of the item indicates what type of rune and/or insignia the armor holds:

  • White armor contains no special components.
  • Blue armor contains a minor rune, an insignia, or one of each.
  • Purple armor is guaranteed to contain a major rune (and may also contain an insignia).
  • Gold armor is guaranteed to contain a superior rune (and may also contain an insignia).

You have the choice of either identifying or salvaging the armor first; both methods have their advantages.

  • Identify first: By identifying the armor first, you guarantee that whatever components are contained in the armor will be unlocked for your account. Identifying first also allows you to choose which component to salvage (or to salvage to crafting materials). Because there is a chance of destroying the armor when you salvage a component from it, this assures you can get the component you want.
  • Salvage first: If you salvage before identifying, you will not be able to choose which component to salvage - thus, there is a chance to destroy the armor and salvage a component you don't want. However, salvaging first allows you to obtain an unidentified rune. As mentioned above, you can identify a rune's potency and profession by its appearance alone. If you already have all runes of that potency and profession unlocked, you can trade the unidentified rune to other players who still require those unlocks.

Whether you salvage first or second, you must use an Expert Salvage Kit or Superior Salvage Kit to extract the armor components. If you identified first, a dialog window will allow you to select which component you want to salvage, as well as inform you of the % chance that the rest of the armor will be destroyed. If the armor survives, you can then salvage the second component from it (if it bears one) or salvage it into crafting materials.

In PvE, runes can be sold to and purchased from Rune Traders in cities. Traders only sell runes that other players have sold to them, so runes in high demand may not always be in stock. Also, traders do not deal in unidentified runes, so you will not be able to unlock runes by buying them from the rune trader.

In PvP, runes can be unlocked by trading in Balthazar Faction at a Priest of Balthazar. A minor rune costs 1,000 faction, a major 1,500, and a superior 2,000. Runes must be unlocked in sequence from lowest to highest potency: minor -> major -> superior. Note that this only unlocks the rune for your account; you will not receive an actual rune in your inventory. You can then use the PvP Equipment interface to craft PvP armor using your unlocked runes.

If a rune is unlocked "out of order" through PvE (e.g. identifying a major rune before the minor one), you will still be able to use the higher-potency version in PvP, but the Priests of Balthazar will continue to show the lower-potency version until you unlock it.


To use a rune, double-click it and then click on the piece of armor you wish to apply it to. Each armor piece can only hold a single rune. You can replace a rune with a different one by applying the new rune to the piece of armor that already has one - a dialog will ask you to confirm the replacement.

You can expert-salvage armor that you have attached a rune to in order to recover the rune, in a process identical to that for obtaining runes from salvage armor. However, the % chance of retaining the armor after salvaging the rune will be lower than that for salvage armor.

Note: As with all other items obtained from character creation, starter armor and PvP armor cannot be salvaged, so runes applied to them cannot be recovered. However, collector's armor can be salvaged, so runes applied to collector's pieces can be recovered.


Runes of Vitae and Attunement are stackable, meaning you receive cumulative effects from wearing more than one at a time. All other runes are non-stackable within their own type; you can only receive the benefit of the highest-potency rune equipped. However, health penalties from all equipped runes will stack.

Stacking Example: If you attach a Rune of Vitae (+10 health) to your chest armor and another to your head armor, you will receive +20 health. If you then attach another to your hand armor, the bonus will increase to +30 health. If you then attach a Rune of Major Vigor (+41 health) to your leg armor, the total bonus will be +71 health. (Adding a second Major Vigor will not increase your health further because Vigor runes are non-stacking.)

Non-Stacking Example: If you attach a Rune of Minor Curses (+1 Curses) to your chest armor and another to your head armor, you will only gain a bonus of +1 Curses. If you then attach a Rune of Major Curses to your hand armor, you will only gain a bonus of +2 Curses; the two minor runes will effectively be overridden by the higher-potency rune. If you replace one of the Minor runes with a Rune of Superior Curses, it will override the Major rune to give you +3 Curses. However, you will take the health penalties from both the major and superior runes, for a total of -110 health.

Runes stack with most bonuses from other sources, including inherent armor bonuses, armor insignia, weapon upgrades and inscriptions, Blessings, and skill effects.

  • Wearing a Rune of Purity (reduces Disease and Poison durations by 20%) and wielding a weapon with a "Cast Out the Unclean" inscription (reduces Disease duration by 20%) will give an overall reduction of 36% in Disease duration.
  • A Necromancer wearing a Wicked Scar Pattern (+1 Curses) with a Rune of Superior Curses applied to it would have total of +4 Curses. Using Awaken the Blood would boost this to a total bonus of +6 Curses.
  • A full set of Survivor Insignia (Health +40), a Rune of Superior Vigor (Health +50), four Runes of Vitae (Health +10 each), and a Hale staff of Fortitude (max. Health +60) will give a total bonus of +190 health.