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For the World of Remnant episode about Semblances, see Aura (WoR episode).
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Your Semblance is like a muscle. The more you practice with it, the stronger it will become. But if you only focus on one aspect of it...if you fail to test the limits of what you think is possible...then you'll never truly grow.

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Semblance is a power exhibited by certain characters in RWBY. It is developed from a person's Aura and typically helps in battle against Grimm. Semblances are different between people and can range from super strength, manipulating objects to disorienting opponents.

Description

A "Semblance" is the manifestation of one's innate and personal power as an ability unique to each individual, with the effects varying greatly from user to user. With the sheer number of people unlocking their Semblances, it can lead to unrelated people gaining similar abilities. The nature of one's Semblance is noted as representing an aspect of their character. However, a person's Semblance can be similar to the Semblances of their parents or other family members.[1] The Schnee family Semblance, summoning glyphs, is unique in the fact that it is completely hereditary.

A person can name their Semblance when they fill out their application form for entering a Huntsman Academy. One example of this would be when Coco Adel decided to name her Semblance Hype when filling out her application for Beacon Academy.

According to "Aura", the fourth installment of RWBY: World of Remnant, a Semblance is a more tangible projection of one's Aura. Pyrrha Nikos implied this connection when she told Jaune Arc that the use of Aura can help him to discover his Semblance and Miles Luna refers to Semblances as being "fueled" by Aura [2][3].

Those that use Semblances are able to manipulate certain physical phenomena according to the nature of their power. Some individuals, such as Weiss Schnee, can use Aura to create "glyphs" that generate some desired effect - the most prominent being sudden disruptions in movement and/or bursts of momentum. Others have the ability to enhance their performance, such as Ruby Rose and Harriet Bree, who're able to move at incredible speeds. There are also those who can generate and/or manipulate a specific aspect of nature, like Pyrrha who can control magnetic forces. However, there also exist Semblances that depend on external factors in order to function, such as Yang Xiao Long and Nora Valkyrie, who gain enhance their strength by taking damage and absorbing electricity respectively.

Blake using her Semblance with Stone Dust creating a rock clone

Using Dust, certain individuals can modify their Semblances with elements, such as Weiss using Myrtenaster to change her glyphs and Blake Belladonna inserting Dust vials into Gambol Shroud to give her Shadow clones elemental properties.

Overuse of one's Semblance for prolonged periods may adversely affect its user at certain times. This was demonstrated by Weiss on one occasion after using a series of glyphs in rapid succession to assist Ruby, subsequently collapsing afterward. This is also seen in "End of the Beginning", when Glynda Goodwitch shows signs of exhaustion from using her Semblance to fix the city.

Pyrrha losing control of her Semblance due to stress

It seems that emotional turmoil or stress can affect one's use of Semblance, either negatively or positively, as exhibited in "Destiny", where Pyrrha Nikos' Semblance activates while talking to Jaune and accidentally slams him into the stone wall. Later, in "PvP", Pyrrha temporarily warps her weapon and shield for a moment during her tournament round. This phenomenon is exhibited by Weiss in "Tipping Point", when she accidentally summons a Boarbatusk, which then attacks a party guest. The earliest and most frequent example of this phenomenon is Yang Xiao Long's habit of accidentally activating her Semblance when she is angry.

In the case of Qrow Branwen and Clover Ebi, it is possible for a Semblance to be either uncontrollable or permanently active. Additionally, it may even be possible for a Semblance to affect one's surroundings.

Though specifics and details are not expanded upon, the subsequent loss of Mercury Black's own Semblance implies it is possible for a person to lose their Semblance.

Unlocking

Cinder unlocking her Semblance due to the massive amount of anger, stress and pain she endured after years of abuse and her beginning to reach her breaking point.

Semblances are unlocked during strong physical or emotional events. For example, Ruby unlocked her Semblance while training and Nora unlocked hers when she was struck by lightning due to outside physical forces that stimulated them.

Auras and Semblances can also be unlocked due to severe emotional stress or turmoil. Lie Ren unlocked his when his hometown was overrun by Grimm and his family was killed.[4] Cinder Fall unlocked hers after she began reaching her breaking point and experiencing severe anger and frustration due to the years of abuse she endured.[5]

There seems to be no age requirement for unlocking one's Semblances, as seen where Gillian Asturias unlocked hers before even being born.[6]

Evolution

According to Winter Schnee, Semblances are like muscles and are able to grow and evolve. A clear example is her younger sister's eventual mastery of summoning. Another example is Blake Belladonna, whose Semblance only allowed allowed her to create clones that pushed her in a certain direction, but as of "Of Runaways and Stowaways", they can stay around for longer and even interact with her. Another smaller example is where Emerald Sustrai can easily use her Semblance on three people, when years ago she had difficulties using it on two people.

The earliest known instance of Semblance evolution is Ruby Rose's Semblance. At first, she could simply move at incredible speeds whilst leaving behind trails of rose petals and maintaining her physical body. From Volume 2 onward, most notably in "Best Day Ever" and "PvP", she was shown to transform her body into a cluster of rose petals. In the Volume 4 Character Short, she demonstrated the ability to divide herself into multiple clusters.

A Semblance can also grow to gain a unique new ability altogether. A good example would be Lie Ren who at first only possessed the ability to mask emotions, but later also gained the ability to see the emotions of others.

Uniqueness

Whilst Semblances are often said to be completely unique there do exist some that are similar, such as those of Glynda Goodwitch and Carmine Esclados' who share telekinesis, but differ in both how they manifest (purple glyphs and golden wisps, respectively) and overall potency; with Glynda's Semblance being noted to be much stronger than Carmine's. Semblances can be of the same type but if the visual effect is different they still both qualify as unique.[7]

There have also been Semblances with different names and effects but similar abilities, such as Yang and Adam's Semblances which mainly absorb damage (the former with her body and the latter with his sword) to augment them, and Blake and Sun's Semblances to create clones of themselves.

Classes

Semblances come in a variety of power types[8]. There can be purely offensive (like Yang's), utilitarian (such as Fox's or the Schnee family's), to completely non-combative (as the case with Robyn's). Semblances can also be categorized by their effects, as seen with the speed-based Semblances of Ruby and Harriet Bree [9] or the intelligence-type of Velvet's in Amity Arena.

List of Known Semblances

Notable Semblances

Name User Type Descriptor
Petalburst-mugsample.png
Petal Burst Ruby Rose Speed Allows user to move at inhuman speeds, making it appear as if they can teleport.
GlyphsMug.png
Glyphs Weiss Schnee, Winter Schnee, Willow Schnee Movement, Creation (Unofficial) Hereditary Semblance that allows users to create a flat glyph which has a variety of effects, from moving to summoning to creating Dust formations.
ShadowMug.PNG
Shadow Blake Belladonna Clone, Movement (Unofficial) Allows user to create clones of themselves, which push them in whichever direction they want, even in mid-air.
BurnMug.png
Burn Yang Xiao Long Offense (Unofficial) Allows user to absorb energy from the damage they have taken, and redirect it twice as hard at their opponent.
AuraAmpMug.png
Aura Amp Jaune Arc Effect (Unofficial) Allows user to amplify their own Aura or that of others.
HighVoltageMug.PNG
High Voltage Nora Valkyrie Offense (Unofficial) Allows user to to produce and channel electrical energy into their muscles, giving them enhanced strength.
PolarityMug.PNG
Polarity Pyrrha Nikos Control (Unofficial) Allows user to control the magnetism of metallic objects.
TranquilityMug.PNG
Tranquility Lie Ren Stealth (Unofficial) Allows user to mask emotions from the Grimm as well as see and track the emotions of others.
ViaSunMug.PNG
Via Sun Sun Wukong Clone (Unofficial) Allows user to create clones of themselves.
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Gliding Scarlet David Movement (Unofficial) Allows user to glide and maneuver in the air.
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Water Attraction Neptune Vasilias Control (Unofficial) Allows user to control water they come in contact with.
HypeMug.PNG
Hype Coco Adel Offense (Unofficial) Allows user to increase the effect and power of Dust.
TelepathyMug.PNG
Telepathy Fox Alistair, Arthur Curry (Non-canon) Intelligence Allows user to communicate with others telepathically.
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Photographic Memory Velvet Scarlatina Intelligence Allows user to mimic people's moves, including their fighting style.
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Memory Wiping Yatsuhashi Daichi Intelligence Allows user to temporarily erase the minds of others, break mind control, and heal others' minds.
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Killer Quartet Flynt Coal Clone (Unofficial) Allows user to create three clones, who amplify their attacks.
SandskatingMug.PNG
Sandskating Octavia Ember Speed Allows user to slide across sand at extreme speeds in a burst.
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Kindred Link Raven Branwen Movement (Unofficial) Allows user to create portals to people they share a bond with.
MisfortuneMug.PNG
Misfortune Qrow Branwen Probability Manipulation (Unofficial) Causes user to negatively manipulate probability around themselves.
BlankCharacter.png
Equilibrium Arrastra Skye Effect (Unofficial) Allows user to restore the Aura of a willing ally through Dust.
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Flash Asher Mora Creation (Unofficial) Allows user to release a bright light from their body that blinds others and damages Grimm.
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Beast Mode Fenix Nemean Offense (Unofficial) Causes user to enter a berserker rage, increasing their physical capabilities.
BlankCharacter.png
Fate's Hand Pyke Rite Probability Manipulation (Unofficial) Allows user to either improve a situation, not affect it, or make it significantly worse.
TelekinesisMug.PNG
Telekinesis Glynda Goodwitch, Carmine Esclados Control (Unofficial) Allows user to move and manipulate objects with their mind.
BlankCharacter.png
Golden Touch Xanthe Rumpole Effect (Unofficial) Allows user to permanently turn objects into gold.
ScorchingCaressMug.PNG
Scorching Caress Cinder Fall Control, Effect (Unofficial) Allows user to superheat, shape, and control objects.
HallucinationsMug.PNG
Hallucinations Emerald Sustrai Intelligence Allows user to modify what another person sees, hears and feels.
OveractiveImaginationMug.PNG
Overactive Imagination Neopolitan Creation (Unofficial) Allows user to create "physical illusions that can be seen by everyone."
NumbingAgentMug.PNG
Numbing Agent Hazel Rainart Effect (Unofficial) Allows user to be completely insensitive to pain.
AuraDisruptionMug.PNG
Aura Disruption Tyrian Callows Offense (Unofficial) Allows user to disrupt a person's Aura.
InvulnerabilityMug.PNG
Invulnerability Tock Defense (Unofficial) Allows user to gain an impenetrable defensive Aura shield for 60 seconds.
MoonsliceMug.PNG
Moonslice Adam Taurus Offense (Unofficial) Allows user to absorb and redirect energy through a weapon.
MettleMug.PNG
Mettle James Ironwood Intelligence Allows user to strengthen their resolve to carry through with decisions, helping them hyper-focus.
GoodFortuneMug.PNG
Good Fortune Clover Ebi Probability Manipulation (Unofficial) Allows user to manipulate probability positively.
Super-SpeedMug.PNG
Super-Speed Harriet Bree Speed Allows user to run at extreme speeds.
AuraVinesMug.PNG
Aura Vines Vine Zeki Creation (Unofficial) Allows user to extend their Aura from their arms and legs, essentially extending the length of their limbs.
AuraRootsMug.png
Aura Roots Elm Ederne Creation (Unofficial) Allows user to conjure roots to plant themselves in place.
FreezeMug.PNG
Freeze Marrow Amin Effect (Unofficial) Allows user to freeze a target in place.
LieDetectionMug.png
Lie Detection Robyn Hill Intelligence Allows user to detect lies when touching another's hand.
InvisibilityFieldMug.PNG
Invisibility Field May Marigold Stealth (Unofficial) Allows user to cover an area in a field which makes people and objects inside invisible.
PocketDimensionsMug.PNG
Pocket Dimensions Fiona Thyme Spacial (Unofficial) Allows user to absorb, store, and release matter through the palm of their hand.
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Mind Control Jax Asturias Intelligence Allows user to control the minds of those they make physical contact with.
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Aura Siphon Gillian Asturias Effect (Unofficial) Allows user to transfer Aura between different people.
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Preflexes Maria Calavera Defense (Unofficial) Allows user an increased sense and react to attacks almost before they happen.
MetalSkinMug.PNG
Metal Skin Rhodes Defense (Unofficial) Allows user to build defenses in his skin by coating it in metal.

Minor Semblances

Mercury Black

Revealed in the episode, "Lost", Mercury told Emerald that his father stole his Semblance when he unlocked it. His father used his own Semblance to steal Mercury's and claimed that he would give it back when Mercury became stronger. However, Mercury never got his Semblance back despite getting stronger, and after killing his father, Mercury still has no chance of regaining it. Marcus allegedly referred to it as a 'crutch' that made Mercury 'weak', not much is known about Mercury's Semblance otherwise.

Mercury is the only known character to have lost their Semblance.

Sienna Khan

As revealed in RWBY: Amity Arena, Sienna's Semblance was called Grudge. Her Semblance's "grudge" would activate on foes that have their Aura weakened or broken, making her stronger, faster and more vicious when going in for the kill.[10]

Vacuo

Bertilak Celadon

Bertilak's Semblance is generating heat, which radiates in waves close to him. He has a tendency to use this to increase a target's fatigue and exhaustion when they approach him too much, and he can also use it to form glass out of sand, then manipulating the glass to form a wall.

Rosa Schwein

Rosa's Semblance, Intangibility, allows her to briefly become intangible to avoid incoming attacks, as shown in her fight with Sun. When Rosa uses her Semblance, she briefly becomes a blur.[11]

Argento Pocoron

Argento's Semblance, Lag, allows him to make the target slightly slower than they can initially perceive, enabling him to dodge attacks he'd otherwise be unable to and deal damage he'd be otherwise incapable of doing. Sun Wukong compares it to playing a video game with a busted controller.

Umber Gorgoneion

Umber's Semblance, Stone Glance, allows her to put people into a temporary rigor mortis-like state just by making eye contact. Her Semblance is always active, so she is unable to control her powers, and has to wear thick, mirrored glasses to prevent herself from paralyzing everyone around her. It also requires her to maintain eye contact with her target, meaning that she cannot use it on multiple targets. Forcing her to change targets will release her previous victim, and she cannot use her Semblance on someone who is blind.

Her Semblance is a likely allusion to Medusa, who was capable of turning people to stone through eye contact.

August Caspian

August's Semblance allows him to amplify the emotions of those around him, whether positive or negative. However, Gus can only amplify emotions the target is currently feeling, and has very limited control over his Semblance.

Edward Caspian

Edward's Semblance allows him to temporarily block a target from using their own. When he is lucid, Ed can focus on singular targets at a time. However, his foggy memory causes his Semblance to be unstable at times, affecting everyone in the area.

Green

Green's Semblance allows him to release a foul-stenched smoke that causes nearby targets to choke, allowing for quick getaways, as shown in his fight with Sun. The smoke can be filtered out through the use of a gas mask.[12]

Lily

Lily has the Semblance to make small objects temporarily stick together, such as a house of cards.

Mistral

Opal

Opal's Semblance is described as a Blood Rush which causes lightheadedness and fatigue. She needs to extend her hands to use it.

Sil

Sil is capable of obscuring an area in Darkness through the use of his Semblance.

Marton

Marton's semblance allows him to Nullify Dust effects for his enemies.

Mina Lavender

Mina's Semblance allows her to produce Spider Webs that can be used to make weapons.

Jupiter Vasilias

Jupiter's Semblance allows him to turn water into vapor. He used this ability as a child to escape a bubble of water his younger brother Neptune had accidentally passed onto him.

Vermillion Raddock

Vermillion's Semblance can make the target he touches share their Semblance with him once their Aura comes into contact with his own. It is described as a feel of the victim's Aura being tugged at.

Abigail Pyre

Abigail's Semblance allows her to create an Ethereal Hand that lets her pickpocket people with ease.

Honey Wine

Honey Wine, an operative of Spider, has the power to distract and lure people who hear her Alluring Song, making them easy to command and oblivious to their surroundings.

Chameleon

Chameleon, another operative of the Spider organization, has a Chameleon Semblance, like her namesake. This gives her the ability to hide from others by blending in with the environment, like Ilia Amitola's Faunus trait. It required concentration, thus making the Semblance unreliable. Chameleon compensated for her weaknesses by including Invisibility Cloak fabric into her skintight clothing.

Other

Marcus Black

Marcus' Semblance, while never showing any form of a debut as of yet, had the ability to steal other people's Semblances through unknown conditions, which he had done to his son, Mercury. This was first revealed in "Lost" by Mercury, who also states that his father was leading on the possibility of his Semblance also being able to give back stolen Semblances, though it was left uncertain if he really could. The effects of Marcus' Semblance remained after his death with no known means of undoing it.

The Hunter's Children

All of The Hunter's Children has unlocked their Semblances in the story of the same name.

  • The Hunter's eldest daughter could lead her towards what she needed the most, which she used to lead her village toward what she assumed was a new and safer home from the Grimm.
  • The Hunter's eldest son was able to link people's Auras so long as they were in physical contact, even if that physical contact was something like a rope tied between people. This allowed him to boost the Aura and abilities of himself and other people. It could even turn him into a one-man army against the Grimm if necessary.
  • The Hunter's youngest daughter was able to calm any Human or animal. Her ability was extremely useful for protecting people from the Grimm by helping suppress negative emotions.
  • The Hunter's youngest son had the power to hide in plain sight. However, he had to close his eyes to do it, which meant that he could not move around without getting lost and tripping over. His power also did not hide his emotions, as such he was still able to be detected by the Grimm.

RWBY x Justice League

The crossover between RWBY and DC Comics reimagined the members of the Justice League as people of Remnant and their powers as Semblances. Within chapter 9, it is stated by Jessica Cruz that she did not have a Semblance before entering Remnant's atmosphere.

Bruce Wayne

Bruce's Semblance is Detective Mode, which gives him the ability to detect patterns and unlock puzzles.

This is a reference to Batman's detective powers, and is named after an ability from the Batman: Arkham series of video games.

Clark Kent

Clark's Semblance is Sun Empowerment, which gives him super strength, speed, heat vision and flight. According to him, his Semblance can only work from the light of the yellow sun meaning that during the night time he can't use his Semblance and according to his knowledge he can't store the sunlight up to use his Semblance during the nighttime. It is described as letting him do anything that Dust can, though it is unknown if this refers only to the use of Dust as an energy source or if it allows him to use its elemental abilities as well. This is a way of creating Superman's powers in the RWBY lore, but also making them not too powerful.

Diana Prince

Diana's Semblance is Three Gifts, which allows her to summon three weapons with magical abilities: a tiara that keeps her mind clear, a lasso that forces whoever it binds to tell the truth, and gauntlets with the ability to protect others.

Barry Allen

Barry's Semblance is Lightning Speed, which allows him to move at fast speeds, leaving behind trails of lightning.

Victor Stone

Victor claims his Semblance is "Technology". Exactly what entails is unknown, but after telling Diana that he is going to show it to her, Victor simply channels an electric current from his bionic arm through Diana's whip to attack her. This suggests that Victor's Semblance allows him to manipulate technology or electricity in general and that he used it in order to build his cybernetic implants. He is also shown to command small flying drones, although it is unknown if he does so through his Semblance or cybernetics.

Arthur Curry

Arthur's Semblance is Telepathy, which allows him to communicate with animals telepathically. However, unlike the Telepathy used by Fox Alistair, it is not useful for communicating with Humans and Faunus. Arthur describes it as letting him feel the presence, emotions, location, powers, and weaknesses of creatures.

Trivia

  • Much like how the weapons in RWBY have specific noises associated with them, Semblances do as well.
  • While imagining new Semblances during a panel, Miles Luna thought of a Semblance that would allow the user to mimic someone else's voice.
  • The colors of someone's Aura and Semblance can differ from each other:
    • Pyrrha's Aura was red while her Semblance color was black.
    • Elm's Aura is brown while her Semblance Aura constructs are light green.
    • Harriet's Aura is pink while the lightning-like energy produced by her Semblance is yellow.
    • Vine's Aura is light blue while his Aura vines are light yellow in color.
  • Not everyone discovers their Semblance despite being an active fighter, such as Roman Torchwick,[13] or Arthur Watts.[14]
    • Fiona's Semblance was originally going to be Torchwick's Semblance, and it was originally called Deep Pockets. But the production team never found a moment for him to use it, so it was saved for a later character and decided Roman could be a great example of how some people don't unlock their Semblances.[15]
  • In an Reddit AMA, Eddy Rivas confirmed that there is a link between Semblances and Magic, but did not elaborate on it.[16]
  • Neon Katt leaves a rainbow trail behind her when she moves around, but the nature of this effect was never elaborated upon.
  • Volume 4 introduced a visual effect for Aura shimmering when it's under stress which is differentiated from Aura breaking. Aura shimmering only has a texture, while Aura breaking is accompanied by particles and cracking sound effect. This has lead to confusion. Notable examples include Qrow Branwen's Aura in "Punished", and Yang Xiao Long's Aura in "Volume 5 Yang Character Short".

References

  1. RWBY Livestream
  2. RWBY Volume 3 Live Stream
  3. Rooster Teeth Tumblr Q&A October 5, 2017
  4. "Kuroyuri"
  5. "Midnight"
  6. "RWBY: Before the Dawn"
  7. Reference required
  8. Volume 7 Blu-ray Director's Commentary - Chapter 3.
  9. RWBY: Amity Arena Harriet card bio
  10. Sienna's Amity Arena card info
  11. RWBY: Before the Dawn Prologue
  12. RWBY: Before the Dawn Prologue
  13. Rooster Teeth Tumblr Q&A October 5, 2017
  14. RWBY Panel | RTX 2020
  15. RWBY: Volume 7 Director's Commentary – Chapter 7
  16. RWBY Reddit AMA with Eddy Rivas
Setting
Semblances
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