Nagato is a relatively tall and lanky man, with pale white skin and straight red hair, a color owing to his Uzumaki heritage. When he was very young, his hair covered his eyes, preventing his Rinnegan from being visible. When he started training to be a ninja he parted his hair so that only his right eye was covered. He generally wears a red long cloak with long sleeves on both sides and a hood, and dark blue pants. He does however, lacks footwear and walks bare-foot.
Nagato was a sensitive child, prone to crying over the sufferings of himself and others. When he met Yahiko he tried to break this habit by following Yahiko's philosophy that crying wouldn't change anything, but the attempt was unsuccessful. Jiraiya later pointed out to him that his sensitivity was actually a strength, as it allowed him to understand pain better and, in turn, be kinder to others. This view resonated with Nagato and caused him to realize that he wanted to take on all of his friends' pain so that they wouldn't have to. It also finally succeeded in ending his crying; when Jiraiya left their group it was Yahiko who cried to see him go, while Nagato only thanked him for all the guidance he'd provided.
In one form or another, Nagato spent his entire life placing the needs of others before his own: his main motivation for becoming a ninja in the first place was so that he could protect Yahiko and Konan; he viewed his role in the original Akatsuki as a powerful tool meant to help Yahiko bring peace to their country; as leader of his own version of Akatsuki, he felt it was his responsibility to save the world from itself, inflicting pains of such magnitude that nobody would ever harm anyone else ever again. While this indicates a growing self-importance Nagato regarded himself with, it was encouraged by the similarly growing esteem others regarded him with due to his Rinnegan: Jiraiya believed he was the reincarnation of the Sage of the Six Paths; Yahiko and the rest of Akatsuki believed he was the "Savior of the World"; the villagers of the Hidden Rain Village believed him "God".
As a child that grew up in the middle of other countries' wars, Nagato did not like killing and was horrified by his early acts of violence against those who had harmed his friends and family. He supported Yahiko's Akatsuki because it wanted to end the wars and deaths that he hated so much. After Yahiko's death, Nagato compromised his aversion to killing to a large extent, believing the deaths of specific individuals or even hundreds at a time could be justified if it served a greater and/or long-term purpose. But Nagato remains very clear in this distinction, as he shows mercy to those willing to cooperate with him and discourages others from defying him because it will only force him to strike them down. Minato Namikaze believes that, at some point along the way, Nagato's views were corrupted and subsequently manipulated by Tobi.
Despite the number of personal changes Nagato went through during his life, he always remained fundamentally kind and respectful. With his fellow members of Akatsuki, he mourns those who die in the pursuit of Akatsuki's goals and disapproves of name-calling amongst peers. He extends similar courtesies to his opponents, being honored to meet one so strong as Kakashi Hatake, despite also being determined to kill Kakashi because that very same strength would inevitably interfere with Akatsuki's plans. For all his kindness, Nagato has a certain prejudice against the Hidden Leaf because its ninja have played a role in a number of his life's tragedies. He tried to change this opinion because of Jiraiya's positive influence, but ultimately decided that Konoha's successes were predicated on the misfortunes of others.
Despite his conviction in Akatsuki's goals, Nagato is re-convinced of his former pacifism by Naruto Uzumaki, who believes the struggle for peace is worth any personal cost. He is humbled by Naruto's view, and goes from viewing himself as a god to viewing himself as the failed middle volume of a trilogy started by Jiraiya and ended with Naruto.
Rinnegan: Nagato's skill in so many types of ninjutsu was due in large part to his Rinnegan. Though he was not the eyes' original owner, being an Uzumaki allowed him to use the Rinnegan to their full potential; his skill was great enough to earn recognition as the "Third Six Paths". Among the many benefits granted to him, the Rinnegan allowed him to see all forms of chakra and made him immune to visual genjutsu. The greatest advantage of the Rinnegan was the access it gave Nagato to all of the Six Paths Jutsu: the gravitational powers of the Deva Path; the menagerie of summons available to the Animal Path; the limitless absorptive potential of the Preta Path; the control over others' souls with the Human Path; the different options of mechanization in the Asura Path; access to the King of Hell through the Naraka Path. Because of the limitations of his real body, Nagato had few chances to use any of these abilities directly. When the opportunity arose, though, he could shift between the different Paths seamlessly and instantly, performing the many abilities on a level he wasn't capable of when using them through others.
- Six Paths of Pain: With the Outer Path, Nagato could form what he calls his "Six Paths of Pain". By embedding chakra receivers throughout the bodies of six corpses - arranged to resemble body piercings - Nagato was able to control all of them remotely as though they were his own. He could control the Paths across great distances, but for more chakra-demanding techniques, it was necessary for the Path to first be brought closer to his position. An alternative to this was cutting off control of five of the Paths and focusing all of his chakra into one. The Paths can be used to react to threats in mere seconds and, because they are corpses, the bodies are unfazed by all but the most debilitating types of damage. In theory, each of the Six Paths of Pain could be used to perform any technique that Nagato himself was capable of. In practice, however, he limited each body to one branch of the Six Paths Techniques, the exception being the Deva Path through which he performed a number of miscellaneous jutsu. Each Path served a specific purpose, be it offensive, defensive, reconnaissance or repair. None of the Paths specifically specialised in taijutsu, but all were able to keep pace during hand-to-hand combat with even the most practised opponent. Though he considered all six Paths to be part of the Pain identity he gave himself, Nagato still regarded them as separate entities from himself, referring to them by whichever Path they embody. Although the Six Paths were individually strong, they were at their most formidable when used together, with the simultaneous use of all six being the primary reason for Pain's infamous invincibility. This was because the six Paths, as well as the Animal Path's summons and the King of Hell, share the same vision, allowing Nagato to coordinate their movements with maximum efficiency. They could attack from multiple angles and dodge attacks they couldn't have seen but that occurred within another Path's field of vision. Each of the Paths had its own importance in a fight – the Naraka Path's ability to restore all the other Paths, making it the most valuable – and therefore, Nagato would sacrifice other Paths to protect those further up the hierarchy. Despite the advantages the six bodies granted him in a fight, Nagato tried to limit his usage to as few bodies as possible to reduce the likelihood of anyone discovering the secret of how the Six Paths of Pain work. When the Hidden Leaf began to understand the idiosyncrasies of the ability, he destroyed the village in an effort to kill anyone who might know that none of the six Paths were the real him.
Ninjutsu Master: During his training with Jiraiya, Nagato was able to master every jutsu he was taught, covering numerous varieties of jutsu and all of the basic nature transformations, accomplishments unprecedented for adults, let alone ten year-olds.
Expert Hand-to-Hand Combatant:
Enhanced Speed and Reflexes: Following his first fight with Hanzo, Nagato's legs were badly damaged and his body was left frail. This limited his mobility for the rest of his life and rendered his original body largely defenceless. He regained some of his former mobility after being reincarnated and taking some of the Eight-Tails' chakra. When not handicapped, Nagato could rapidly move around a battlefield, closing the gap between himself and his opponents fast enough to force them to retreat.
Immense Chakra Power: Because he descended from the Uzumaki Clan, Nagato's chakra was naturally resilient. His actual chakra reserves were unusually vast, enough that he could perform a large-scale Almighty Push, Catastrophic Planetary Devastation, and Rinne Rebirth Jutsu, as well as numerous other jutsu, all in the same day. One of the Fifth Hokage's ANBU bodyguards attributed this chakra supply to his Rinnegan. Nagato could constantly alter the nature of his chakra to prevent him from being located by sensory-type ninja.