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PvP Primer Introduction: Creating, Arming, and Practicing with a PvP-Only Character


Special note: Originally published September 27, 2006, we've recently updated the content in this article to account for widespread functionality changes upon the advent of Guild Wars Nightfall. In an effort to streamline the PvP character creation process, the entire system underwent revision and is fully documented in update notes.

What can you do if you have never engaged in competitive, player-versus-player (PvP) play, but you want to get started? Thankfully, Guild Wars has several in-game routes available to prepare you for PvP. In this article series, we'll go in-depth and explain PvP readiness and make sure you know how to excel in fierce combat.


Creating a PvP-only Character

When you first create a PvP-only character, you have several steps to take and choices to make. To make a PvP-only character, login to Guild Wars and select Create. In the next screen, choose "PvP-Only Character." After that, choose a campaign. This determines which character professions you can select from, and your character's range of physical appearance options.

Next, pick a primary profession. Your selection of a primary profession determines the default skills and equipment your character starts with. These default skills will be available to you even if you haven't unlocked them. Unlike the old system, you can assign your secondary profession after you get in-game.

Pick male or female, then color for your armor and body scale. Finally, customize facial features and make a character name. Note that all the options you choose during creation cannot be changed once you make the character, except for armor color, which can now be changed in-game. But, if you want to change your character's physical appearance, you'll need to delete that character and remake. During the creation process, you can use the Back and Next buttons to navigate between screens. The game remembers your choices if you use the Back button, so don't worry about having to redo something if you want to go to an earlier step.

When you've finished, your character starts in the Isle of the Nameless for training and PvP quests. To open your Skills and Attributes panel or your Inventory to choose a secondary profession and equipment, you will need to travel to the Great Temple of Balthazar. Use the map or the portal to get there.

Note: After you've completed the Nameless Masters quest, any future PvP-only characters you create will start in the Great Temple of Balthazar.

Also, by using map travel, you can visit any arenas you've unlocked or your guild hall.

On a brand-new account with no unlocks, you may step directly into competition without unlocking anything because when you first make a character, it begins with six skills, basic armor, and a basic weapon. Selecting Warrior, for example, lets you use pre-selected Warrior skills such as "Charge!" and Sever Artery. Note that as you accrue faction and unlock upgrades, you can apply these unlocks to your equipment in outposts. You can also change your Skill Bar and replace any of the pre-selected skills with ones you've unlocked.

Often, a PvP-only character will offer certain advantages over your Roleplaying character when it comes to competitive play. All PvP characters start at Level 20. If you have a low-level Roleplaying Ranger, and want to bring a Ranger to PvP, you'll have more success with a PvP-only Ranger because he'll have more Health, attribute points, and armor, plus he can use all the same skills as (or more than) your Roleplaying character. Some PvP arenas do not allow low-level characters, so making a PvP-only character grants you access to these high-level areas.


Skills, Attributes, and Templates

When you open the Skills and Attribute panel (available from the menu or by pressing "K"), you can adjust your character's skills, attributes, secondary profession, and template. If you haven't unlocked anything (unlocks are available through Roleplaying, PvP faction awards, or by purchase through the online store) you will see a list of skills, grayed out with a lock icon next to them. If you have done a lot of Roleplaying, you may have some unlocks available to use on your PvP-only character. From the skill list, drag and drop the preferred skills onto the Skill Bar. Above the skills you see your current attribute level, which you can adjust if you wish. By default, your PvP-only character begins with an attribute spread designed to fit pre-selected skills.

You can change these settings as many times as you wish. Most notably, the secondary profession now allows instant change, unlike the prior system where you'd have to remake your entire character.

Lastly, once you've decided on a suitable setup of secondary profession and Skill Bar, you can save it to a template. Simply select the blue disk icon and choose "Save to Template." Name it something memorable, and save it to your computer for this and any future PvP characters. Note that you can only load templates from the same primary profession (so if you have a Warrior template saved and you make a Monk, you cannot load that template with the Monk).


Arming Yourself

Open the PvP Equipment panel (available from the Inventory screen as a weapon icon or by pressing "J") to make PvP-only equipment for your character. This includes weapons, shields, offhand items, armor, runes, and "mods" (weapon or equipment modifications). Your available mods depend on what you've unlocked. For example, if you used an Identification Kit and identified a Poisonous Bowstring with your Roleplaying character, it means you've unlocked it for your PvP-only characters.

Any PvP-only character you create shows a list of unlocks on the equipment screen. Locked equipment appears in grayed out text with a lock icon beside it. When you allocate attribute points, weapons you can use without penalty show up at the top of the weapon list in white text. You can see the complete list of weapons by scrolling down. Weapons your character cannot use without penalty display in gray.

Along the top of the PvP Equipment screen, you'll see a row of tabs such as Two-Handed, One-Handed, etc. These represent different types of weapons and armor. Click a tab to find out what you have available. PvP characters have a range of basic equipment to choose from, though you can benefit from upgrading most of it.

To simplify matters, we'll use a sword Warrior as an example of how to create and set up PvP equipment. Assuming this is a standard sword Warrior, the Swordsmanship attribute will probably be at least 9 or higher. This means the Warrior can use a PvP sword without penalty (because of the requirement of 9 Swordsmanship). As such, the sword appears at the top of the list, in white text, under the One-Handed Weapons tab.

With a sword selected, you'll see several boxes: Inscriptions, Sword Hilts, and Sword Pommels. Each box has a list of modifiers you've unlocked. Select one from each box to apply it to the sword. Notice you can only select one thing from each box. When you have made your decisions, click "Create." The sword immediately goes into your character's hand. If you'd rather the sword went into your Inventory, uncheck the "Equip Immediately" box at the lower left. This box is checked by default, and will overwrite whatever weapon you currently have equipped. If you have a non-PvP item equipped, the game will ask if you're sure you want to destroy the item.

You may want to enable a total of four weapon sets. Do this by opening your Inventory and clicking the Weapon Sets button, then checking the boxes beside Weapon Set 3 and 4. After enabling, you can set up your two weapons and two offhand items in different combinations. This grants smoother and faster transitions between different weapon setups in battle. A caster will often choose to have a weapon set with normal maximum Energy and boosts to casting speed/spell recharge, another weapon set with armor/Health bonuses, and a weapon set or two with higher maximum Energy but less Energy regeneration.


Donning Armor

On the PvP Equipment screen, you have armor choices for the five different body locations: head, chest, legs, hands, and feet. Each section of armor offers different Insignia options to enhance your character's abilities. Read through the different armor Insignia choices to determine what works best for you. If you plan to have a PvP-only character that will use a lot of Enchantments, you may want to create armor that gives you extra defense while Enchanted.

Armor Insignia also affects your total Energy pool, so consider the skills you plan to use. If you have a battle-hungry adrenaline Warrior without many Energy skills on the Skill Bar, you can probably choose something besides Radiant Insignia (which gives you the highest possible Energy for a Warrior). However, if you play a spellcaster with a lot of high-Energy cost spells, you may want to use an Insignia that gives you extra Energy but less damage resistance.

In addition to Insignia, armor can also have Runes. While some Insignias, such as those granting extra Energy, stack with each other, the effects of Runes never stack. Once you have applied a Vigor Rune to a piece of armor, any other armor with Vigor Runes will give you no benefit. So you should select a different Rune for each section of armor.

Lastly, once you've decided on a suitable setup of equipment, you can save it to an Equipment Template. Simply select the blue disk icon and choose "Save to Template." Name it something memorable, and save it to your computer for this and any future PvP characters.


Practice Makes Perfect

By default, all freshly made PvP characters begin in the Great Temple of Balthazar. Enter the explorable Isle of the Nameless from here, where you can take a quest from the Guide. More than just a combat walkthrough, the Isle of the Nameless offers a static environment you can return to at any time to test new character builds, practice with skills, and observe the range of spells and weapons.

After you've done the basic quest for the Guide you can seek out the Nameless Masters, each with their own specialties. They'll demonstrate different aspects of combat and give you a consistant opponent to try out new skill combinations. For example, the Master of Healing can keep herself alive very well. If you plan to play a primary damage dealer, you may wish to engage the Master of Healing and see if you have any problems taking her down, and then adjust your build or your play style accordingly.

During your time at the Isle of the Nameless, you'll get the Team Trials quest and unlock the Zaishen Challenge. Here you form teams of four and compete against computer-controlled (AI) opponents. You can grab Henchman and enter this mission at any time. While the Team Trials take place in the Training Arenas and present the same opponents each time, note that with the Zaishen you can select the type of team you'll face and the map. With enough wins, you'll advance to the Zaishen Elite Challenge, a series of progressively more difficult matches.

The Zaishen give you an idea of common team builds you might encounter in the various PvP arenas. By playing against them, you can better prepare yourself for human opponents. As an additional reward, Balthazar rewards you with a certain amount of faction per day for playing against the Zaishen.

If you go through the entire Isle of the Nameless, understand everything there, and can beat each different team of Zaishen, you will know a lot more about PvP than if you just enter Random Arenas without any training. Nonetheless, this practice only serves to prepare you, and actual combat in Random Arenas will solidify your knowledge and open the way to more advanced PvP.