Traits are special item properties crafters can add to their items during the creation process. They can be applied to weapons, armor and jewelry and can only be added when the item is made, not afterwards. Before being able to add a trait to an item you first have to research it, and with each research on the same item slot the time required to learn another trait is increased.
Since traits are often a bit confusing to new players and frequently mistaken for enchants, we’ll take a closer look at them in this guide and hopefully clarify a few things for you.
- What are traits
- Armor traits
- Weapon traits
- Who uses traits
- Learning traits
- Getting items with traits
- What are trait gems
- How to get trait gems
- Most useful traits
- Which traits to use
A Trait is a special property added to a crafted item which makes that item do nifty things. Traits exist on weapons, armor, and jewelry. The kinds of traits you can get are different, depending on what kind of item it’s on. For instance, there is a set of traits specific to armor, and a different set which applies to weapons. Some traits might seem the same between item types, but they will take gemstones which are unique for that item’s version of the trait. Traits are calculated by a percentage value, such as “increases weapon attack speed by 20%”, and this percentage value of a trait is increased with increased improvement quality of the item. For example, here is how traits increase when you improve a bow with the Charged trait:
- White – increased charges by 21%
- Green – increased charges by 27%
- Blue – increased charges by 33%
- Purple – increased charges by 39%
Traits are not the same thing as an Enchant. You can have both Traits and Enchants on an item. Naturally, Enchantments are put on the item after it’s already been crafted.
|Trait Name||Gem||Trait Effect|
|Divines||Sapphire||Increased effect of mundus stones.|
|Exploration||Garnet||Increased exploration experience gained.|
|Impenetrable||Diamond||Increased resistance to critical hits.|
|Infused||Bloodstone||Increased armor enchantment effects.|
|Reinforced||Sardonyx||Increased total armor and spell resistances.|
|Sturdy||Quartz||Chance to avoid decay when killed.|
|Training||Emerald||Increased armor skill line experience with this armor type.|
|Well-Fitted||Almandine||Reduced cost of sprinting.|
|Trait Name||Gem||Trait Effect|
|Charged||Amethyst||Increases enchantment charges.|
|Defending||Turquoise||Increased total armor and spell resistances.|
|Infused||Jade||Increased weapon enchantment effect.|
|Powered||Chysolite||Reduced cooldown of weapon enchantments.|
|Precise||Ruby||Increased weapon and spell critical values.|
|Sharpened||Fire Opal||Increased armor and spell penetration.|
|Training||Carnelian||Increased weapon skill line experience with this weapon type.|
|Weighted||Citrine||Increased weapon attack speed.|
Crafters who use traits when crafting items include:
Technically herbs used for alchemy also have traits, but they don’t have to be researched in the same way for you to be able to mix potions.
You must research an item, in order to unlock a trait for that item. For example, if you want to craft a chest with Infused trait on it, you must first find one that already has the Infused trait and then research it at the appropriate crafting table. Researching an item to learn its trait will destroy that item. You have to unlock each trait for each item separately, meaning you have to research # of items x 8 traits!
- Blacksmithing = 112 research traits
- Clothier = 112 research traits
- Woodworking = 48 research traits
The lesser items for Woodworker is because they have only 6 craft items while the other two smith crafts have 14 each.
Research has a cooldown timer which varies per item based on how many traits you’ve already unlocked. The first time you research an item it takes 6 hours before it completes the trait unlock. The time for each item after that doubles.
- Item 1 = 6 hours
- Item 2 = 12 hours
- Item 3 = 1 day
- Item 4 = 2 days
- Item 5 = 4 days
- Item 6 = 8 days
- Item 7 = 16 days
- Item 8 = 32 days
At first, you can only research one item at a time for your craft. This means if you craft bows, staves, and shields and you research a bow, you won’t be able to research a staff and a shield at the same time. There is a skill you can spend skill points in that decrease research times and increase # of items you can research:
- Blacksmithing – Metallurgy
- Clothier – Stitching
- Woodworker – Carpentry
These skills have 3 ranks available, and they seem to be the same for all three smith crafts:
- Rank 1 – Requires craft rank 8 – Research time reduced by 5%, Research 2 traits simultaneously.
- Rank 2 – Requires craft rank 18 – Research time reduced by 10%, Research 2 traits simultaneously.
- Rank 3 – Requires craft rank ? – Research time reduced by 20%, Research 3 traits simultaneously.
If you level up enough to maximize this skill in your craft, you reduce the research time needed for 8 traits per item from a total of 1,530 hours (63.75 days) to 1,224 hours (51 days). To research all 8 traits on all 14 items it would take you 892 days, so investing skill points into reduced research times can be a wise choice.
Finally, if you work in two separate crafts, you can research an item from each craft at the same time. For instance, you can research something from Blacksmithing and Woodworking at the same time if you want to. You can also research the trait from an item crafted by another player.
Items dropped in the world can sometimes have a trait already attached to it. Otherwise, a trait can only be applied to an item during the process of creating it in the crafting system. Adding traits to crafted items might be considered either Intermediate or Advanced level crafting, not because it is difficult, but because it takes a commitment of time into researching traits. Another aspect of advanced crafting is the special set-bonus crafting benches. Traits affect your ability to craft the set-bonus gear, because you are required to have 2 (or more) traits learned on the specific item you want to craft.
For instance if you want to make a Death’s Wind style axe, you need to have unlocked 2 traits on the axes before you can craft it. The number of traits required to craft set-bonus gear goes up as you get to higher leveled set-bonus benches. For example the Magnus’ Gift set-bonus requires that you have 4 traits unlocked. You can add a trait to a crafted set-bonus item when you craft it.
Traits are applied to items with a Trait Gem during the craft process. You don’t have to add a trait to an item when creating one, but if you want to add a trait you will need a gem specific to the trait you want to add. Adding a trait to an item only costs you one trait gem, unless you are crafting a set, which requires a trait gem for each of the traits added.
Gem used for traits are a semi rare loot item found in loot containers such as barrels, crates, trunks, bookshelves, nightstands, etc. You also have a chance to get a trait gemstone when you refine raw materials. Additionally you can get trait gems by deconstructing items, in which case you will always get the trait gem that matches the trait on an item you deconstruct. So for instance if you deconstruct a bow with Charged, you should have a chance to get Amethyst. To clarify, you don’t always get a gem when you deconstruct, but if you do it will be the one for the trait already on the item you tear down.
Your chances of getting a trait gem are higher based on how you try to do it. For instance the % chance of a trait gem for refinement of raw materials is approximately 10%. It seems to vary a bit based on which raw material you refine–Iron ore versus Maple wood versus Jute/Rawhide Scraps. You have a higher % chance of a trait gem from deconstructing a white traited item. Then the % chance for getting a trait gem goes up when you deconstruct a green trait-ed item, and so on. I am still in the process of getting good percent values in my tests for these item drops. Sadly I was hoarding all my greens for researching.
Though by no means a rule, below is a list of armor traits which are in my opinion most useful to research, in that order:
- Infused (increased enchantment effect)
- Impenetrable (resistance to critical hits)
- Reinforced (increased armor values)
- Divines (increased mundus stone effect)
- Well-Fitted (reduced cost of sprinting)
- Sturdy (avoid decay)
- Exploration (increased exploration experience gained)
- Training (increased experience with skill line)
Different classes, builds and play styles may have different priorities. For example, Well-Fitted would for example be better for Archers and Rogues (you’ll want to always keep a decent portion of your stamina pool available for attacks), while Exploration though low-ranked in my opinion can be very useful to have when leveling. There’s always overcharge to consider, but even with Infused trait it’s not always easy to hit.
You also need to consider other classes’ preferences, since you will inevitably want to craft and sell armor to other players — there’s definitely a much smaller market for Training or Exploration traits.
If you’re in doubt as to which traits to use on which items, the table below is your best bet:
|Light Armor||Medium Armor||Heavy Armor|
|Shoulders||Divines, Reinforced||Divines, Reinforced||Reinforced, Divines|
|Boots||Divines, Reinforced||Divines, Reinforced||Reinforced, Divines|
- Reinforced only if you plan on tanking or taking tons of damage (or if you’re using a situational Mundus buff, like extra run speed).
- Enchants give different amounts of bonuses depending on item slots, so Divines may be better than Infused (don’t think too much, just go with the recommendations in the table above)
- Impenetrable trait works only in PvP.
For weapon enchants, in nearly all cases you’ll want to go for Precise (increased critical chance) as a damage-dealer or healer, while tanks typically go for Defending.
Adding traits to items is an important part of the crafting process. Researching all traits for all items in just one profession takes an enormous amount of time, but being able to add multiple different traits to items is what separates dedicated crafters from the rest.
For a more detailed overview of crafting in Elder Scrolls Online be sure to read our crafting guide. It also contains links to guides for specific professions which go into even more detail.
Credit for traits research and the guide goes to Rebelweasel of Elder Moot guild.