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Kathril, Aspect Warper has this ability:

When Kathril, Aspect Warper enters the battlefield, put a flying counter on any creature you control if a creature card in your graveyard has flying. Repeat this process for first strike, double strike, deathtouch, hexproof, indestructible, lifelink, menace, reach, trample, and vigilance. Then put a +1/+1 counter on Kathril for each counter put on a creature this way.

There is a ruling in Gatherer that is confusing to me:

If cards in your graveyard have multiple hexproof abilities (such as hexproof, hexproof from white, and hexproof from black), a counter of each variant kind will be put onto a creature.

Why would this be true under the ability's wording and the rules?

702.11d “Hexproof from [quality]” is a variant of the hexproof ability. “Hexproof from [quality]” on a permanent means “This permanent can’t be the target of [quality] spells your opponents control or abilities your opponents control from [quality] sources.” A “hexproof from [quality]” ability is a hexproof ability.

So we see that "Hexproof from white" is a hexproof ability, thus is would count for Kathril's ability. I would assume that "Repeat this process for..." means that you do this action:

put a flying counter on any creature you control if a creature card in your graveyard has flying

but replace "flying" with the keyword that you are repeating the action for. As we go down the list, we eventually repeat the action for hexproof, so we follow this instruction:

put a hexproof counter on any creature you control if a creature card in your graveyard has hexproof

Due to 702.11d, if you have a creature with hexproof from white in your graveyard, that would count as having hexproof just the same as if you had a creature with normal hexproof in your graveyard. In either case, the instruction you are following then is to "put a hexproof counter on any creature you control".

How can these set of instructions cause you to put a "hexproof from white" counter on a creature you control? There doesn't appear to be any instruction to ever put a "hexproof from white" counter on a creature you control.

Does somehow "repeat this process for hexproof" actually mean "repeat this process for hexproof and every possible hexproof variant"?

Same question for Odric, Lunarch Marshal:

At the beginning of each combat, creatures you control gain first strike until end of turn if a creature you control has first strike. The same is true for flying, deathtouch, double strike, haste, hexproof, indestructible, lifelink, menace, reach, skulk, trample, and vigilance.

Again I would think that by a literal reading of the wording, if a creature you control has "hexproof from white" then this would cause all of your creatures yo be granted normal hexproof (they gain hexproof if a creature you control has hexproof; and having hexproof from white counts). But the rulings say the same as Kathril.

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Kathril will create a separate counter for each variant of hexproof creatures in your graveyard have. In the same vein, Odric will give your creatures each variant of hexproof a creature you control have.

The reason Kathril, Odric and cards similar to them work the way they do is because of the following rule:

702.1c. An effect may state that "the same is true for" a list of keyword abilities or similar. If one of those keyword abilities has variants or variables and the effect grants that keyword or counters of that keyword to one or more objects and/or players, it grants each appropriate variant and variable of that keyword.

Add to that the rule saying

702.11d. "Hexproof from [quality]" is a variant of the hexproof ability [...]

and we see why Kathril gives "hexproof from" counters and Odric gives "hexproof from" to creatures. If we look at the definition of landwalk,

702.14a. Landwalk is a generic term that appears within an object's rules text as "[type]walk," where [type] is usually a subtype, but can be the card type land, any land type, any supertype, or any combination thereof.

I think you'll agree that plainswalk, islandwalk etc. are variants of landwalk, and thus Cairn Wanderer gains all that are present (with the same reasoning used for protection).

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    While the citations are nice, this answer might be nicer if you decoupled it from the other answer and gave a ruling summary first. – JonTheMon Jul 20 at 19:45
  • @JonTheMon Thanks for the tip! I didn't feel a summary was really necessary, since the asker already knows the result and was just asking for the explanation. It makes the answer more self-sufficient though, so I added it anyway. And yeah, on reflection adressing another answer just stands in the way. Edited! – vaasa Jul 20 at 21:01
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    When I first read this answer I was thrown off by 702.1c talking about the wording "the same is true for" while Kathril uses the wording "Repeat this process for". But I realized that 701.2c is in the keyword abilities section, so the "or similar" at the end of the first sentence is referring to the phrase "the same is true for", and not to "a list of keyword abilities". Therefore, that rule also applies to similar effects that iterate over a list of keyword abilities, including Kathril's. – murgatroid99 Jul 20 at 21:22
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When Kathril says "Repeat this process for hexproof", it actually reads "Repeat this process for hexproof and all its variants". As printed, "hexproof" refers to the category of hexproof abilities, not to the individual hexproof ability which would be different from e.g. "Hexproof from white".

Abilities are grouped under what I would call categories. For example, Mountainwalk, Islandwalk etc. are grouped under "Landwalk". You will not find a creature in Gatherer with the "Landwalk" ability, it's always "[basic land type]walk", or "[quality] landwalk". However, cards can still reference the Landwalk category, such as Hammerheim, and you mentally unroll that "landwalk" category into all the possible, individual landwalk abilities.

Another example: Protection. Cairn Wanderer has an ability very similar to Kathril's, and it references Protection. Protection is the name of the category protection, but no creature will ever have the plain "Protection" ability, because the correct form for protection abilities reads "Protection from [quality]".

There are unproblematic ability categories whose abilities have no variants, so there is no need to differentiate. Examples include flying, trample, first strike, and so on.

Hexproof seems to be the only ability with multiple variants but whose category name is also a legal name for one of its variants. This is the unfortunate source of the confusion.

Kathril and similar cards like Cairn Wanderer reference categories, and you have to unroll their individual abilities. For Cairn Wanderer, it's obvious how it should work, Cairn Wanderer will never have "landwalk" or "protection", but only "mountainwalk" or "protection from black" as applicable. The same goes for Kathril and hexproof, with the unfortunately necessary caveat that you have to consciously separate the category "Hexproof" from its actual abilities.

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  • Why would protection cause any counter to be placed? Protection isn't listed in the abilities list for Kathril (or Odric; though I see that it does apply to Cairn). – GendoIkari Jul 20 at 15:27
  • The protection argument from the Cairn example also applies to landwalk. – JonTheMon Jul 20 at 16:12
  • I thought about it some more and will rewrite the answer. – Hackworth Jul 20 at 16:48
  • I don't know if there's a card with an example, but to be clear, if an ability simply said "put a hexproof counter on any creature you control if a creature card in your graveyard has hexproof" (no "repeat this for" bit), then it would still do the same thing; possibly add multiple hexproof counters, one for each variant of hexproof in your graveyard? – GendoIkari Jul 20 at 17:12
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    @Gendolkari ignoring for a moment the fact that ruling on fictional cards isn't all that possible, no, that ability you made up would give a plain hexproof counter, regardless of which hexproof variant you control. Maybe my answer clears things up a bit? I feel Hackworth's explanation breaks down the more we dig into it. – vaasa Jul 20 at 17:38

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