Dragon Age: Origins =================== Dragon Age: Origins Class Guide - v 0.5 by Marc Seguin aka Asmiroth firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2009 Marc Seguin ==================== ----------------- TABLE OF CONTENTS ----------------- Introduction (DAO:1) Class Basics (DAO:2) - Warrior (DAO:2.1) - Rogue (DAO:2.2) - Mage (DAO:2.3) Group Makeup (DAO:3) - Typical Group (DAO:3.1) - Better Group (DAO:3.2) - Best Group (DAO:3.3) Characters (DAO:4) - Alistair (DAO:4.1) - Dog (DAO:4.2) - Leliana (DAO:4.3) - Secret (DAO:4.4) - Morrigan (DAO:4.5) - Oghren (DAO:4.6) - Shale (DAO:4.7) - Sten (DAO:4.8) - Wynne (DAO:4.9) - Zevran (DAO:4.10) Warrior (DAO:5) - Tank (DAO:5.1) -- Attributes (DAO:5.1.1) -- Abilities (DAO:5.1.2) -- Build (DAO:5.1.3) -- Summary (DAO:5.1.4) - Melee (DAO:5.2) -- Attributes (DAO:5.2.1) -- Abilities (DAO:5.2.2) -- Build (DAO:5.2.3) -- Summary (DAO:5.2.4) Rogue (DAO:6) - Melee (DAO:6.1) -- Attributes (DAO:6.1.1) -- Abilities (DAO:6.1.2) -- Build (DAO:6.1.3) -- Summary (DAO:6.1.4) - Ranged (DAO:6.2) -- Attributes (DAO:6.2.1) -- Abilities (DAO:6.2.2) -- Build (DAO:6.2.3) -- Summary (DAO:6.2.4) Mage (DAO:7) - Tank (DAO:7.1) -- Attributes (DAO:7.1.1) -- Abilities (DAO:7.1.2) -- Build (DAO:7.1.3) -- Summary (DAO:7.1.4) - Caster (DAO:7.2) -- Attributes (DAO:7.2.1) -- Abilities (DAO:7.2.2) -- Build (DAO:7.2.3) -- Summary (DAO:7.2.4) ------- VERSION ------- Jan 18, 2009 - 0.5 - More fixes Dec 02, 2009 - 0.4 - More build fixes, and typos corrected Nov 28, 2009 - 0.3 - Fixed some errors in build sections Nov 27, 2009 - 0.2 - Added builds, modified Rogue section, clean-up Nov 20, 2009 - 0.1 - First Version ------------ INTRODUCTION (DAO:1) ------------ Dragon Age:Origins is the sequel in pricinple of the Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Neverwinter Nights line of games. Though DA:O doesn't necessarily follow the Dungeons & Dragons method of gameplay, many similarities exist. What we find instead is a mix of D&D with multiplayer online games, such as World of Warcraft. All in all, this makes the game much more accessible to a wider group of people than your standard pen and paper RPG. And yes, there are spoilers abound. ------------ CLASS BASICS (DAO:2) ------------ If you've ever played any RPG in the past, you're probably familiar with the roles required to succeed in the long run. Where some games require only brute force and others exceedingly tedious strategy, DA:O tends to favor the latter. In only a brief amount of situations will sending in your group blindly succeed. You will find yourself pausing the game, issuing commands and probably reloading a few times along the way. Due to this requirement of strategy, it's a good idea to understand the basics of class makeup. Warrior (DAO:2.1) ------- Warriors are your typical grunt force trauma. They wade in, take a beating and dish one out in kind. These are the characters that get deep and dirty in combat, so they require a slightly less hands-on approach. With the right tactics set-up (the default scrapper is usually good), sending a warrior to attack and forgetting about him for a few seconds will not kill you. One of the key features of a warrior is their heavy armor and weapons. The former makes them quite effective at absorbing damage, if they can maintain the enemies' focus for long enough. Threaten and Taunt are key abilities for this type of combatant. When a character's main role is to absorb damage, they are referred to as a tank. Looking at the other side of the warrior coin, damage dealing. Warriors are huge brutes swinging massive weapons. In the later stages of the game, they can also attack a group of enemies with a single swing, making them quite useful for group attacks. Characters that focus on dealing damage to enemies at close range are referred to as melee damage-dealers, or melee for short. Rogue (DAO:2.2) ----- Rogues are your typical silent stalker. Residing in the shadows, they are the masters of ranged physical attacks, backstabs and poisons. Not to mention the other utility skills such as picking pockets and locks. Similar to the warrior, rogues focus on dealing maximum damage but while taking the least amount possible. If they can't kill the enemy quickly, they will use additional skills to further disable it. Typically, a rogue does not deal well with multiple enemies at once but excels at single target combat. There are really two key areas of focus for rogues in DA:O, damage up close and damage from range with a bow or crossbow. This has an impact in attribute allocation and even more so with abilities. A fully powered rogue at range is by far the deadliest character in the game. Ranged attackers are called ranged damage-dealers, or ranged for short. Mage (DAO:2.3) ---- The mystical mage. There really isn't much that a mage doesn't do, if only limited by their mana pool and abilities selected. A mage can fight up close, they can cast from the back, the can control groups of enemies, they can heal, they can even transform into other beasts. At the most basic level, a mage is the type of character the needs the most finesse. Just leaving them to cast whatever spell whenever is not the best way to win a fight and in some cases, will kill you outright. In part due to the large amount of spells they can choose from, you have a lot to consider in every battle you enter. Though the ability to heal is a very important one, it is never going to be the primary role of a mage. They are your ace in pocket, casting a clever spell to trick or trap the enemy making life easier for every other character. Of very interesting note is that with the proper specialization, the mage can fill in perfectly as a tank. So where you might find your options lacking in your party members you can also make your own true jack of all trades. ------------ GROUP MAKEUP (DAO:3) ------------ Though you could try to play the game alone if you wanted to, DA:O allows you and 3 party members to form a group. By the time you finish Lotherian, you'll potentially have 6 members to choose from, which is more than enough for the rest of the game. Over the course of the entire game, you will encounter 6 warriors, 2 rogues and 2 mages. Combined with the class you've selected, you can certainly form any type of team you would like. On easy and normal, it's very possible to play the entire game without any mages to cast healing spells. You could have 4 warriors, use potions and poisons and get through 99% of the game with relative ease, if you pay attention. On the hardest level however, you cannot forgo a mage for 2 main reasons. The first is their ability to heal members, which is more effective than potions alone. The second is their ability to stun/control enemies in combat. Many times you will encounter 2-4 ranked enemies who can easily tear your group apart. A well-timed Petrify or Crushing Prison is a lifesaver in those cases. Typical Group (DAO:3.1) ------------- Your typical group in combat will contain one tank, one mage and 2 damage dealers. In the early stages of the game and on easier difficulties you can choose to have all of them in melee range if you wish. The downside is that you are grouping up your characters, which can put them all at risk of area effect spells and abilities. This also means that your characters need to run around in order to engage enemies at a distance. Any time you are not swinging your weapon at an enemy and they are is time where you are losing. Better Group (DAO:3.2) ------------ A tank, a mage and 2 ranged attackers are an improvement over the typical group. While your tank runs in and engages the enemy, their role is not to deal damage but to absorb it, so there is no time lost. In the meantime, all your ranged attackers can focus on and eliminate enemy targets with relative ease. A possible hiccup here is that enemies will start to run towards your ranged attackers, meaning the tank will be running around a whole lot and you'll need to really manage your team. Still, from a damage dealing perspective, this group is a very solid make-up. Best Group (DAO:3.3) ---------- Obviously using the word best is subjective. Everyone will have their own opinion about this but in my experience, this is the easiest way to move through the game without continual reloading. As mentioned in the previous section, ranged combat is preferable to melee since you're dealing damage the entire time rather than running around. It also ensures that you're using the most powerful class in the game to their maximum potential. The best group is made up of a tank and 3 mages. I'm sure you're thinking, wow it's hard enough to manage a single mage, how can I handle 3? That's the beauty about it, you only really need to manage a single one. Put the other two on tactics that attack whomever you are targetting and let the computer cast away. I can guarantee that 3 mages casting Blizzard, Inferno and Tempest will destroy any group of enemies you encounter. Even more so if they all have access to Force Field to protect your tank and each other. If you're running with an Arcane Mage, you could potentially have Frost, Fire and Telekenetic Weapon spells all active at the same time! There are many ways to build your group and in the end it's up to you to decide which formation works best for you. ---------- CHARACTERS (DAO:4) ---------- Throughout the game you'll encounter a wide variety of characters. I briefly mentioned the fact that you'll encounter a total of 10 throughout but keeping them all with you at the same time can be a challenge. An important note when characters join your group: they will typically join at your level or +/- 1. If you find Wynne when your character is level 17, then she will be level 17 and already have all her attributes and spells selected. So if you want to have the ultimate control on your group's characters, find them early. All characters are optional, except for perhaps Alistair in a short part of the game. Alistair (DAO:4.1) -------- Location Found: Ostagar Role: Alistair comes with 2 abilities already in the Shield tree, so it's a good idea to keep him there and build him to become a tank. Dog (DAO:4.2) --- Location Found: Road between Ostagar and Lotherian (if you did the quest in Ostagar) Role: Being a dog, it's role is purely offensive and similar to a melee character but without weapons. You can equip him with a collar and some paint to enhance him but for the most part, it's a pet that you point to a target and he'll bite til they die. Leliana (DAO:4.3) ------- Location Found: Lotherian Role: Leliana comes with some archery abilities already selected but being early in the game, you can move her to another role if you wish. I prefer keeping her at range though and focusing entirely on dexterity. At the end of the game, she is the dealiest character on your team. Loghain (DAO:4.4) ------- Location Found: Denerim, late in the game Role: He comes in very late in the game as a warrior. Odds are you won't level him more than 1-2 levels and his role is purely that of a 2 handed warrior. Morrigan (DAO:4.5) -------- Location Found: Wilds after Ostagar Role: The "evil" mage in the game, since you collect her early you can focus her on whatever role you wish. I personally don't like the Shapeshifter spells since you lose access to all other mage spells but it's your preference. Oghren (DAO:4.6) ------ Location Found: Orzammar Role: He's set up as a beserker and for 2 handed weapon damage. This is a great role to keep him in, especially if you catch him early in the game. Shale (DAO:4.7) ----- Location Found: Honnleath - DLC Role: Shale is a golem you can collect through downloadable content. Being a golem, you would think he would focus on damage dealing but in fact by the end of the game, you'll have maxed out every skill of his. Combined with the gems he uses to augment his body, it's up to you to decide if you want him to be a tank or a damage dealer. Be warned that he does area of effect damage, so if the rest of the group is near him, they will get damaged as well. Sten (DAO:4.8) ---- Location Found: Lotherian Role: You find Sten very early in the game but he still has a couple points into 2 handed weapons. Since you already have Alistair in tank-mode, keep Sten in melee mode. Statisically, he will be stronger than Ogren because you can give him 2 specializations - though odds are one will be beserker anyhow. Wynne (DAO:4.9) ----- Location Found: Circle of Mages Role: Wynne comes in already lined up to be a Sprit Healer, having a group heal and revival lined up. Being a mage, these are two good spells and even the entire tree is good later in the game. Try to collect her early so that you can maximize her attribute distribution and move her either into Arcane Mage or Blood Mage. Zevran (DAO:4.10) ------ Location Found: Random event after clearing 1 major quest. Role: Zevran is a melee rogue but depending on when you collect him, he can be very weak statistically. This is a tough call since you will most likely finish the first major quest at level 9-10 and really only need 1 rogue in the group. Leliana is a better choice so Zevran really takes a backseat in the game. Too bad, he's an interesting one at that. ------- WARRIOR (DAO:5) ------- Tank (DAO:5.1) ---- The tank's main role is to absorb damage and keep enemy attention. To that end, they will be focusing on defensive items and abilities. Attributes (DAO:5.1.1) ---------- Strength: 42 Dex: MAX Willpower: n/a Magic: n/a Cunning: n/a Constitution: 20 Since the best armor in the game requires 42 strength, that's what you're going to be aiming for. Past that point, strength's only purpose is to increase melee damage, which is not a goal for this role. Constitution at 20 is more than enough, especially if you pick up the Life Giver ring in Orzammar. There's nothing wrong with more hitpoints but the difference between 15 and 20 constituion is only 25 hit points. Dexterity should be maxed as much as possible for a few reasons. First, it increases your chance to hit. Second it decreases your chance to be hit, which is of great benefit to your healer. Abilities (DAO:5.1.2) -------------- Your main focus will be on the Warrior tree, the Shield tree and the specialization trees. Dual Wield and Two Hand remove the ability to use a shield, which is bad so avoid them. If your main character is a warrior, you can also acquire 2 new skills in the Warden's Keep quest. Warrior abilities: ----------------- Powerful: This one is a necessity for any warrior. Reduced fatigue and increased hit points is all good. Threaten: Again, a requirement for a tank. Every swing you take increases enemy hostility towards you. It should always be active and your tank should be hitting more than one enemy to keep them all on him. Bravery: Passive increase to defensive and offensive statistics if you have more than 2 enemies attacking the tank. This happens in 90% of all battles, so there's a definite benefit to be had. Death Blow: If your warrior strikes the final blow, he regains some stamina. This will only happen until you reach level 8-9, afterwards your other characters are doing the killing. Since you can only get this at 12, avoid it altogether. Precise Striking: A sustained ability than increases your chance to hit. Combined with Threaten this ensures you're hitting the enemy and getting their attention, which is a good thing. Keep it on. Taunt: Ahh, the meat and potatoes of engagement at the higher end. Send your warrior into the thick of things, cast this skill and watch everyone target him. In combat with 6 or more enemies, this can kill your warrior outright, so your healers need to be on their toes. Combined with Force Field on the tank this allows you to Taunt, Force Field, then cast as many area effect skills as you want with no risk to the tank. Disengage: This goes against the idea of a tank so there's no reason to use it. Perfect Striking: Practically ensures every swing is a hit, which sounds good in theory but it's 2 skill points you can put elsewhere for more benefit. Warden's Keep abilities: ----------------------- Blood Thirst: More damage output but you take more damage too. As a sustained ability, you should avoid using this as a tank. Thankfully you get it for free. Blood Fury: Another bad tradeoff for a tank. Losing hitpoints is never a good thing and there's no reason to use this ability as a tank. Shield Tree abilities: --------------------- Shield Bash: Knocking enemies down is good. On top of that, if every another party member gets grasped or jumped on, this attack will break the hold. Great livesaver. Shield Pummel: Stunning attacks are great as they set up the enemy for more damage. Alternating between Bash and Pummel will keep most enemies out of combat until they die or you run out of stamina. Overpower: Another knockdown attack, this time costing a bit more stamina. I personally prefer Bash because of the cost. You're really not aiming for damage but in a pinch it can free a party member from a grasp/jump. Assault: A shield damage attack. Again, your goal is to take damage and prevent it from hitting other party members, so you really don't need this. Shield Defense: This should be on at all times until you get Shield Wall. Increased chance to avoid missles is gold when you're surrounded by enemies. Shield Balance: Improves shield defense, nothing bad here. Shield Wall: You do less damage but take a whole lot less yourself. This ability should always be active once you have acquired it. Always. Shield Expertise: Being immune to knockdown is a huge benefit and should be the ability to select at level 12. A tank that's standing is a tank that's keeping all the enemies on him. Shield Block: Flanking reduces your defense to zero, meaning you can't avoid damage and therfore take more. This passive ability removes flanks from the front, which is a good 50% of all attacks. Shield Cover: Great for avoiding missles but Shield Wall is better. Shield Tactics: Now you're immune from all flanking attacks. You'll notice the change as soon as you acquire it. Shield Mastery: Improves nearly every shield ability you have, a great investment. Beserker Specialization: ----------------------- An interesting choice, since the attribute gain does not match up with the specialization abilities. A beserker trades stamina for more overall damage. Again, since the tank's main goal is to avoid taking damage and reduce the effect on others, there's not a whole lot to gain from taking this path, other than the 2 strength and 10 hitpoints taken by selecting it on the level up screen. Templar Specialization: ---------------------- The focus of a Templar is against mages. In many combat situations, there will be mages attacking you but your ranged attackers should be focused on them. The abilities of a templar are all in melee range and really don't affect regular enemies and therefore do not have any noticeable benefit to the tank or the group. Righteous Strike: Mana drain is good but there are poisons that do this more effectively. Clease Area: I've yet to see a huge benefit here, except for healing group members of dealy curses. Mental Fortress: Significant increase to mental defense, which really only stops Crushing Prison attacks. Holy Smite: Interesting attack that hits your target and others nearby for spirit and fire damage. The real benefit is the group stun and knockback attack that accompanies it. Champion Specialization: ----------------------- Now this is a tanking specialization. Increase attributes on your team and reduce the enemy's ability to hit you. Great! War Cry: A cry that reduces the enemy chance to hit is great for a tank. If you select Superiority later on, this can also knockdown all enemies around you. Rally: Gives your entire group a bonus to attack and defense. Nothing wrong with that at all. Motivate: Increases the bonuses from Rally. On its own, not that great since the upkeep cost is rather high. Superiority: Makes War Cry knock down a group of enemies. Very worthwhile when you have the stamina to spare. Reaver Specialization: --------------------- Some good and some bad here. The ability to heal from corpses and be more effective with Taunt and Threaten is good but taking damage to do more damage is definitely bad. Devour: Essentially a heal based on the amount of corpses around you. I had problems getting this to work consistently so it might be buggy. In theory though, very useful. Frightening Appearance: Works just like a stun on a single target. However the side benefit is that Threaten and Taunt are much more effective, so it's very useful to have. Aura of Pain: Give damage to take damage. It's sort of like you always being inside a Tempest or Inferno. Sure, everyone takes damage and thereby hits you more often but you also are losing hit points. This is a good ability to use if Taunt isn't working out or is on cooldown, just don't keep it active too long. Blood Frenzy: You no longer regenerate health and you do more damage proportionately to the amount of health you've lost. I personally feel the upkeep cost is too high here and your goal is not to do more damage. Not on my list of abilities to use. Suggested Build (DAO:5.1.3) --------------- Attributes: Focus on increasing strength to 42 early, so you can equip the best armor. Add to dexterity to use the shield abilities as they become available. Try to get Constitution around 20 when you have the points to spare. Abilities: I will only list 1 ability per level (2 for the first and one at level 5 when you become a Grey Warden) even though you can acquire more points from books and quests. Warriors get a free skill at level 1, depending on their origin story. As a tank, you want Shield Bash preferably, so a Human or a Dwarf Noble are the best races in that regard. 1) Powerful + Precise Striking 2) Shield Defense 3) Shield Block 4) Taunt 5) Threaten + Shield Pummel 6) Shield Cover (DEX 16) 7) War Cry 8) Shield Balance 9) Shield Tactics (DEX 20) 10) Shield Wall 11) Shield Mastery 12) Shield Expertise 13) Rally 14) Motivate 15) Devour 16) Superiority 17) Overpower 18) Assault 19) Your Choice 20) Your Choice Summary (DAO:5.1.4) ------- The warrior tank is one of the more solid options as a character, if only because the variations are small. - Enough strength to equip massive armor (42) - Enough constituion to take a few hits (20) - Everything else goes into dexterity to increase defense - Focus on Weapon and Shield ability tree - The goal is not to do damage but absorb it - Invest in Threaten and Taunt early - Champion is your best bet as a specilization - Reaver is a decent second specialization if you can Melee (DAO:5.2) ----- Your role here is simply to do as much damage as possible, to as many enemies as possible. Since you can use heavy armor you can also jump in and take a few hits if ever required. Remember, the more armor you have, the less stamina you can use, so you might end up at the end with light or medium armor instead. Dual Wielding is an option for a warrior but does less overall damage when compared to a two handed warrior. This is due almost entirely over the need for a significant investment in Dexterity compared to putting all those points into Strength. If you want to Dual Wield, a Rogue is a much better option. Attributes (DAO:5.2.1) ---------- Strength: MAX Dexterity: 18 Willpower: 25 Magic: n/a cunning: n/a Constitution: n/a For a warrior in melee the role is rather simple, smash things. You should focus primarily on raising strength to do more damage and use better weapons. Dexterity is at 18 simply to acquire Disengage. If you don't plan on taking that ability, you don't need to put a single point here. Willpower has a direct effect on stamina and that has an effect on how many abilities you can use in combat. I find that 25 is sufficient for the most part but you can put more if you find the need. If you reach level 20, you'll have 60 points to allocate as you wish between essentially two attributes. Abilities (DAO:5.2.2) -------------- As a melee you have two main options, dual weapon and two-handed. Since you require dexterity for many of the dual weapon abilities and only strength for the two-handed ones, I highly suggest you go the latter route. If your main character is a warrior, they can acquire 2 skills for free in the Warden's Keep. Warrior abilities: ----------------- Powerful: This one is a necessity for any warrior. Reduced fatigue and increased hit points is all good. It allows you to use heavier armor with less penalty to ability usage. Threaten: This is a tank ability, so you should not have it active unless you want to get hit. Bravery: You shouldn't have any enemies attacking you so this ability does not incur any real benefit. Death Blow: If your warrior strikes the final blow, he regains some stamina. This will happen frequently as your warrior gets stronger but you have to go through 2 useless abilities to get here. I would avoid it until you've maxed other abilities first. Precise Striking: A sustained ability than increases your chance to hit. You need this on pretty much constantly at the beginning and much less as your strength hits the 40s. It does get overshadowed by Indomitable though. Taunt: Never use this unless you want to take a nap. Because you have no defensive attributes or abilities, odds are you will die in just a few seconds. Disengage: Great if you find yourself suddenly the target of an enemy. With proper planning, this shouldn't happen very much. Perfect Striking: Practically ensures every swing is a hit, which sounds good in theory but it's 2 skill points you can put elsewhere for more benefit. The same rule as with Death Blow applies here. Warden's Keep abilities: ----------------------- Blood Thirst: Since you're not getting hit, this isn't a big problem to have active. Indomitable gives a similar benefit with no risk though. Blood Fury: There are times where you need to knockback an enemy and have the hitpoints to spare. I would use this in rare cases but since the ability is free, that's not a problem when assigning points. Two-Handed abilities: -------------------- Pommel Strike: A basic knock down attack. Very useful against tough enemies and casters. Will also break grasp attacks. Indomitable: An increase to damage and attack while being immune to knockdown. This is slight improvement over Precise Striking and I would suggest this be active instead. Stunning Blow: A passive chance to stun opponents. Sure, the number isn't huge but a stun at any time is a great thing. Even more so if you put paralyzing runes into your weapons. Critical Strike: Almost a guaranteed critical hit and with two handed weapons, we're talking big damage. Used against ranked enemies (yellow and red) this can have a significant effect on their hit points. Sunder Arms: Two strikes and reduces the target's chance to attack. A very powerful ability for such a low cost. Shattering Blows: More damage against golems and constructs. I think I fought 10 golems total in the entire game, not much here to look at. Maybe in future content. Sunder Armor: Two strikes and reduces the target's armor. Golden ability against ranked enemies, where you double your damage and make the enemy weaker. Destroyer: I generally love passive abilities and this one is significant. Each attack effectively lowers the enemy's armor but it doesn't stack together. Still, combined with Telekenetic Weapons and other skills, this turns a heavy armored foe to paper. Ogres come quickly to mind. Mighty Blow: Similar to Critical Strike but somehow does less damage. Still quite useful. Poweful Swings: More damage in each attack but you lower your attack and defense scores. I personally prefer Indomitable here. Two-Handed Strength: Improves powerful swings by reducing the penalties. This is good but since Indomitable never had penalties to start, makes you wonder why it's an option at all. Two-Handed Sweep: Finally an area attack ability. I suggest you get this at level 10 since it will make a big difference in your damage output. It keeps its usefulness all the way until the end of the game. Beserker Specialization: ----------------------- Beserkers focus on dealing damage, straigth in line with what we want to do. Sure, there is an increased cost in stamina but with a bit more points into Willpower this isn't a big concern overall. Beserk: You do more damage but have a significant penalty to stamina regeneration. Further abilities along this tree reduce the penalty and that makes this a great ability to have active. Resilience: Nature resistance and smaller stamina penalty for beserk. Great. Constraint: Reduces the stamina penalty to almost nothing, which is nothing to sneeze at. Final Blow: Trade all your stamina for a single attack. Huge risk here since you can miss the attack and end up with no stamina. You can also start combat with this and deal rediculous damage, probably the easiest way to get the 250 damage in a single attack achievement. Still, having no stamina 2 seconds into combat is not a good thing but with potions can be very useful. Templar Specialization: ---------------------- The focus here is to kill mages. You will encounter your fair share along the trip but never enough to make any abilities here worthwhile. Poisons give nearly the same effect overall. There are no real offensive abilities to speak of. Champion Specialization: ----------------------- These abilities are mostly oriented towards improving your group and disabling the enemy, which is the role of the tank. There are better specializations for you to invest in. Reaver Specialization: --------------------- A mixed bag as before. The focus is more on defensive side of things than offense but there are some possibilities to look at. Devour: Essentially a heal based on the amount of corpses around you. I had problems getting this to work consistently so it might be buggy. In theory though, very useful. Frightening Appearance: Single target stun is good. Benefits to Taunt and Threaten are not useful to you since you don't use those abilities. Aura of Pain: Area effect damage is bad when you don't want to get hit. There are good odds that you'll incur the hate of many enemies if you use this and the tank is not prepared. Blood Frenzy: More damage as your health decreases. First off, you shouldn't be getting hit, second you increase your risk of dying the longer this is active. Next please. Suggested Build (DAO:5.2.3) --------------- Attributes: Increase Strength every level unless you need to increase Dexterity to access a new ability, which I don't think you'll require. Increase Willpower when you start having stamina issues. Abilities: I will only list 1 ability per level (2 for the first and one at level 5 when you become a Grey Warden) even though you can acquire more points from books and quests. Note about starting skills: Human: Shield Bash Dalish Elf: Pinning Shot City Elf: Dual Weapon Sweep Common Dwarf: Dual Weapon Sweep Noble Dwarf: Shield Bash As you can see, none are really targetted towards the melee build. 1) Powerful & Precise Striking 2) Sunder Arms 3) Mighty Blow 4) Powerful Swings 5) Pommel Strike & Indomitable 6) Stunning Blows 7) Beserk 8) Resilience 9) Stunning Blows 10) Constraint 11) Two-Handed Strength 12) Two-Handed Sweep 13) Critical Strike 14) Devour 15) Frightening Appearance 16) Shattering Blows 17) Sunder Armor 18) Destroyer 19) Final Blow 20) Your Choice Summary (DAO:5.2.4) ------- The melee warrior gives a lot more freedom of choice when it comes to abilities. You can go dual-wield but it requires more investment in dexterity. You can go archery for even more dexterity. You can go into two handed weapons for a strength focus. You can specialize into almost any tree. My personal preference for maximum damage is two-handed weapons as you simplify all these questions down to a single path. - Enough willpower to use your skills - Enough dexterity to hit the enemy (20) - Everything else into strength to maximize the damage - Make sure Taunt/Threaten are disabled - Beserker is very powerful if you avoid using Killing Blow all the time - Reaver is a great second choice as a specialization ----- ROGUE (DAO:6) ----- A special note about rogues. This class has the ability to backstab any opponent that can be flanked. Stand in the dark area on the targetting circle and you will have a new animation when attacking. This is a backstab that deals additional damage to the enemy. Many abilities further enhance backstabs and can make a very big difference in your play style. Melee (DAO:6.1) ----- A melee's role is to get up close and personal to take out the enemy. With this comes increased risk of taking damage but more control on the overall outcome of the battle. Always make sure your rogue is on the backs of your enemies to ensure maximum use of backstabs. Quick Theorycrafting for you - Strength vs Cunning for dual wielding. --------------------------------------------------------------------- First off, read this post http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/66/index/223777 There's a lot of information that's a little too complicated for this guide. Basically, it states that dual daggers and full Cunning is the way to go. Attributes (DAO:6.1.1) ---------- Strength: 20 Dexterity: 32/36 Willpower: 20 Magic: n/a Cunning: MAX Constitution: n/a Attributes are a very strange thing for rogues. Dexterity is a prerequisite for a whole pile of abilities. If you plan on going with swords/axes, you'll need to invest into Dual Weapon Mastery at 36 dexterity, otherwise 32 will be enough to get all the abilities. Strength is useful for acquring the best armor. If you plan on going with Swords/Axes, then further investment into strength is a good idea. For maximum damage, cunning is the way to go. Abilities (DAO:6.1.2) --------- This is a melee rogue, so we're going down the Dual Weapon ability tree. If your main character is a Rogue, you can unlock two more abilities in the Warden's Keep quest. Rogue Abilities: --------------- Dirty Fighting: No damage but the target is stunned. Typically this gives time for the rogue to move into backstab range but combined with another ability, it allows backstabs from the front. I use this all the time. Combat Movement: Increases the backstab range by nearly 100%. Makes positioning in combat a whole lot easier. Coup de Grace: Stunned and paralyzed targets get backstabbed. This ability makes melee rogues extremely deadly if you know how to manage your stuns. With proper planning a rogue can take out an ogre alone because of this. Feign Death: Drop to your feet and pretend your dead. Sure, this makes the enemy target something else but you have enough abilities to stay alive toe to toe with any enemy to make this something of a point waster. Below the Belt: Defense penalties are good, meaning everyone has a better chance of hitting the target. Especially good on yellow and red enemies. Deadly Strike: Increased armor penetration is fine but you get a better effect from Telekenetic Weapons or even just points in cunning. Lethality: Actually, after having done some more number crunching, this ability has a significant impact on damage output. Evasion: One in five chance seems high but when you figure you already have that chance with 32 dexterity, who cares? Enemies shouldn't be hitting you in the first place. Deft Hands: Chest require Cunnin-10 to unlock. 1 Point in this skill is 10 more points in Cunning. 4 points here gives 40 Cunning and the hardest chests need 70 to unlock. 30 Cunning is all you'll need to be able to unlock everything. Stealth: The first level lets you walk around. The second lets you disable traps, which is very powerful later on. The third lets you stealth in combat, which oddly enough doesn't work super well until you get the fourth rank. Stealth in combat essentially guarantees a critical hit, which is good but I found myself getting by without it. Warden's Keep abilities: ----------------------- Dark Passage: Passive ability that increases movement speed and defense while in stealth. What's there not to love about this? The Tainted Blade: You lose health but do more damage. Honestly, just coat your weapon with a poison for the same benefit and no downside. Dual-Weapon abilities: --------------------- Dual-Weapon Training: You deal near normal damage with the offhand weapon. There really isn't a choice here, take this ability. Dual-Weapon Finesse: A bonus to attack and defense is what makes you a better killer. Again, a required ability. Dual-Weapon Expert: Increased critical chance and the chance to make the target bleed. Don't you just love passive abilities? Take this one. Dual-Weapon Mastery: Now you can use axes and swords and maces in the offhand. Does have a big impact on damage output if you're going down the strength route. Dual Striking: Use this ability when you can't get into backstab range. One on one fights, mage kills come to mind. It isn't used often but can make a difference. Riposte: Stun plus critical hit. Combined with Dirty Fighting, this is your mage killing ability. Very powerful. Cripple: Critical hit plus penalties to defense and attack on the target. You should use this ability in every fight and especially against yellow and red enemies. Punisher: Can you say crazy? Does four hits with the last being both weapons at once for two critical hits. Did I mention it also adds penalties to attack and defense with the chance of a knockdown? Very powerful. Dual-Weapon Sweep: Interesting area of attack ability that does more than normal damage. Great for group attacks but backstab seems to do more damage. Flurry: Three normal damage hits. Nothing wrong with more damage and timed critically can make a big dent in enemy hit points. Momentum: Increased attack speed at the cost of a big drain on stamina. You basically turn into a chainsaw, with the same effect as Haste from the mage tree. It's good but costly. Whirlwind: Hits every nearby enemy with both weapons for normal damage. I rarely find myself surrounded by enemies with a rogue, that's a tank's job. You kind of expect something more powerful from a skill with this name. Assassin specialization: ----------------------- A focus on killing from this tree. All about doing more damage, which is fine by me. Mark of Death: Mark the target for about 15 seconds where they now take more damage than normal. You need to be in melee range to use this skill but it's very powerful, especially on dragons and revenants. Exploit Weakness: Backstab does more damage the more cunning you have. I do believe it's cunning-10, so even if you never put a point into cunning it's a damage increase. With 30 cunning, it's 20 more damage, very nice. Lacerate: You put a continual damage on the enemy with a successful backstab. I know it says "enough damage" but I've yet to see what the number actually is. Feast of the Fallen: If you kill someone with a backstab you regain stamina. Given the fact that you should be backstabing 90% of the time and providing killing blows too, this is a worthwhile investment. Bard specialization: ------------------- All songs here are affected by cunning scores, so if you don't plan on investing down that attribute, avoid this specialization. Only the last song requires you to be in melee range. Song of Valor: Increase mana and stamina regeneration, which is beneficial to the entire group. Keep it active. Distraction: Good way to get an enemy off your back but there are better abilities to use for the same effect. Song of Courage: Grants bonus to attack, defense and critical chance for the group. This is useful at the start of the game but near the end mana and stamina are a bigger concern. Captivating Song: Stuns nearby enemies but the bard can't move or attack. This is a niche ability, where its only use is in large group areas where you need to keep everyone under control. Sadly, the range is very small. Ranger specialization: --------------------- This specialization focuses on summoning pets to help the attacker. As a melee there are benefits to having more enemies attacking. Having 3 rangers is really impressive from a damage perspective. Summon Wolf: The basic wolf casts howl that reduces enemy defense. The upgraded wolf can Shred, which is a 100% critical hit. Summon Bear: Basic bear can maul which knocks back the enemy. The upgraded bear has rage which increases damage output and can Overwhelm. Summon Spider: Basic spider has web which immobilizes an enemy while the upgraded one has a poison spit for continual damage. Master Ranger: Gives you access to the upgraded anmials. Duelist specialization: ---------------------- Duelists are more of an extension of the Rogue class than a true specialization. The abilities are improvements to existing ones or simply an overall upgrade to the basic class. Dueling: An sustained ability that increases your attack rating. Keen Defense will also increase defense while this is active. I personally keep this one on all the time as more hits mean more damage. Upset Balance: No damage but decreases enemy defense rating. The Rogue has many other similar skills so this can be used when the others are on cooldown. Keen Defense: A passive increase to defense. Since your dexterity is already pretty high, this doesn't make a big difference in the grand picture. Pinpoint Strike: For about 20 seconds, every hit is a critical hit. Combined with Haste/Flurry, +Attack and -Defense skills, the Rogue is basically a killing machine. The only downside here is the cooldown of 3 minutes. Suggested Build (DAO:6.1.3) --------------- Attributes: Increase strength to 20 to wear the best armor. Dexterity is increased as you need to get new skills. Every other point is pretty much allocated to cunning. Abilities: I will only list 1 ability per level (2 for the first and one at level 5 when you become a Grey Warden) even though you can acquire more points from books and quests. Rogues automatically get Dirty Fighting for free at level 1. 1) Dual Weapon Sweep + Below the Belt 2) Dual Striking 3) Dual Weapon Training 4) Flurry 5) Deadly Strike + Dual Weapon Finesse 6) Combat Movement 7) Mark of Death 8) Lethality 9) Dual Weapon Expert 10) Coup de Grace 11) Momentum 12) Exploit Weakness 13) Riposte 14) Lacerate 15) Dueling 16) Cripple 17) Punisher 18) Feast of the Fallen 19) Your choice 20) Your Choice Summary (DAO:6.1.4) ------- The melee rogue is the do-it-all character. You have a wide assortment of tricks up your sleeve, are a great way to make extra money and can kill a ranked enemy whenever you want. Not the best idea to let the rogue play on their own though, or you'll end up with no stamina left. - Enough dexterity for the dual-wield abilities (32) - Strength to get the best light armor (20) - Cunning to the max - Assassination is the best specialization since it maximizes backstabs - Duelist will increase your damage potential - If you have stealth, use it! Ranged (DAO:6.2) ------ The beauty of this rogue is that you will rarely get hit by anything and have the discretion to kill whatever you want, when you want. You also have very little need for melee range skills, giving you additional freedom in ability selection. If you find your ranged attacker is frequently swapping to melee weapons, you might have Dirty Fighting enabled in your tactics. Also note that if you are in melee range for too long (say 3 attacks) there's a strong chance you'll go into melee mode. No idea why. Attributes (DAO:6.2.1) ---------- Strength: n/a Dexterity: MAX Willpower: 30 Magic: n/a Cunning: 30 Constitution: n/a The only reason you would need strength is to equip better armor but better armor means more fatigue and you should not be getting hit in the first place. Willpower will give you the stamina required to use all your abilities but you may find you need more or less, depending on your style. Cunning, again, is required only if you wish to unlock doors and chests or invest in the Bard tree. Maximum dexterity means that you will be doing crazy damage with your bow, critical hits through the roof and near 100% hit rate. I assure you, a ranged rogue is the deadliest single character in the game. Abilities (DAO:6.2.2) --------- The ranged rogue will evidently be focusing on the Archery ability tree. Dual Wield options don't present any benefits to this role and even the specialization trees offer little in terms of pure benefits. If your main character is a rogue, you can acquire 2 free abilities in the Warden's Keep. Rogue Abilities: --------------- Dirty Fighting: No damage but the target is stunned. This is still a great ability even if you are attacking from range. Let's say someone walks up to you, use this and you can get in a few free shots and give time for the tank to pick them up off you. Combat Movement: Since you won't be backstabbing, not much point here. Coup de Grace: Again, no backstabs, no benefit. Feign Death: Drop to your feet and pretend your dead. This could be beneficial if you find yourself getting attacked a lot but in the larger picture you have much better options elsewhere. Below the Belt: A melee range attack, which you being ranged won't be using. Deadly Strike: Another melee attack, no use here. Lethality: Odds are your cunning will be higher than your strength and additional damage is always good. Increased critical chance is sugar on top. I'm not sure if this stacks though. Evasion: Your dexterity is going to be in the 50s at least, where enemies will miss you all the time anyhow. Not worth the investment. Deft Hands: If you plan on investing in cunning to 30, always select this ability when it becomes available. Otherwise, just leave it alone. Stealth: The first level lets you walk around. The second lets you disable traps, which is very powerful later on. The third lets you stealth in combat, which oddly enough doesn't work super well until you get the fourth rank. This is a very useful ability for a ranged attacker, especially at maximum rank. Use it whenever you can to break enemies chasing you or to increase your damage output. Warden's Keep abilities: Dark Passage: Passive ability that increases movement speed and defense. What's there not to love about this? The Tainted Blade: You lose health but do more damage. This only seems to affect melee damage, so no real benefit. Archery abilities: ----------------- Melee Archer: No longer breaks ranged attacks if you get hit. Excellent ability. Aim: You might shoot a bit slower but the overall damage seems to increase if only because of the increase to attack. At about level 10 this loses its luster as you will be hitting almost 100% of the time. Defensive Fire: Increasing defense and slower rate of fire does not mean more damage. I would not use this. Master Archer: Increases the function of nearly every other ability and allows you to use heavy armor without a speed penalty. This isn't a bad skill, it just shouldn't be the first thing you try to acquire. Pinning Shot: It either slows them down or disables them for about 10 seconds. A great tool to have fighting a group of enemies. Crippling Shot: Reduces the enemy's attack and defense, which is perfect against red and yellow enemies. No need to use against regular enemies. Critical Shot: Since this also has the benefit or armor penetration, you're going to see a big number here when it hits. Dragons, revenants and bosses will make you chain cast this ability. Arrow of Slaying: A single massive damage attack that can potentially kill the enemy in a single blow. Yes it's powerful but the cost is disproportionate to the damage when you compare it to Critical Shot. Rapid Shot: You shoot about 10% faster but can't get a critical hit. The only time this is a problem is when your critical chance with a bow is above 15%. Otherwise, keep this active at all times. Note that a bow with the Rapid Aim skill does the same thing as this and they do not stack. Shattering Shot: Normal damage but reduces enemy armor for a time. Has a huge impact on high armor bosses, especially when combined with telekenetic weapons (for melee). Also knocks down enemies. Suppressing Fire: Every attack further reduces the enemy's ability to attack. While this is certainly beneficial against some enemies most of the ones where you would think this to be great have other attacks that hit 100% of the time. This only appears to affect regular attacks to any great amount. Scattershot: Crazy powerful ability here. You will stun an entire group of enemies about 99% of the time, it is so rarely resisted. A great way to line up a group in order to send a few area of effect spells their way. Assassin specialization: ----------------------- Since this specialization focuses nearly entirely on backstabs and you won't be using that skill at all, there is really no need to go down this path. Bard specialization: ------------------- All songs here are affected by cunning scores, so if you don't plan on investing down that attribute, avoid this specialization. Only the last song requires you to be in melee range. Song of Valor: Increase mana and stamina regeneration, which is beneficial to the entire group. Keep it active. Distraction: Good way to get an enemy off your back but there are better abilities to use for the same effect. Song of Courage: Grants bonus to attack, defense and critical chance for the group. This is useful at the start of the game but near the end mana and stamina are a bigger concern. Captivating Song: Sure an area effect stun is nice but the range is small and you have to be in melee. Hard to use as a ranged attacker. Ranger specialization: --------------------- As a ranged attacker a ranger works incredbily well. You keep the pet active and send them in while you snipe from far away. It's almost like having a fifth party member. Summon Wolf: The basic wolf casts howl that reduces enemy defense. The upgraded wolf can Shred, which is a 100% critical hit. Summon Bear: Basic bear can maul which knocks back the enemy. The upgraded bear has rage which increases damage output. Summon Spider: Basic spider has web which immobilizes an enemy while the upgraded one has a poison spit for continual damage. Master Ranger: Gives you access to the upgraded anmials. Duelist specialization: ---------------------- The duelist focuses on melee attacks for the most part but there are some potential benefits in the long run. Dueling: A sustained ability that increases your attack rating. Keen Defense will also increase defense while this is active. If you find yourself missing a lot, then there's a benefit. Upset Balance: No damage but decreases enemy defense rating. This requires melee range so you won't be using it. Keen Defense: A passive increase to defense. Since your dexterity is already pretty high, this doesn't make a big difference in the grand picture. Pinpoint Strike: For about 20 seconds, every hit is a critical hit. Combined with Haste/Flurry, +Attack and -Defense skills, the Rogue is basically a killing machine. The only downside here is the cooldown of 3 minutes. You can pretty much kill 3 ogres with this ability active. Suggested Build (DAO:6.2.3) --------------- Attributes: Increase strength to 20 to wear the best armor. Dexterity is where you put every other point, unless you plan on lockpicking. 30 points and 3 ranks of deft hands are enough. Abilities: I will only list 1 ability per level (2 for the first and one at level 5 when you become a Grey Warden) even though you can acquire more points from books and quests. Rogues automatically get Dirty Fighting for free at level 1. 1) Deft Hands + Rapid Shot 2) Shattering Shot 3) Pinning Shot 4) Crippling Shot 5) Suppressing Fire + Improved Tools 6) Critical Shot 7) Summon Wolf 8) Summon Bear 9) Scattershot 10) Summon Spider 11) Melee Archer 12) Arrow of Slaying 13) Master Ranger 14) Song of Valor 15) Aim 16) Defensive Fire 17) Master Archer 18) Your Choice 19) Your Choice 20) Your Choice Summary (DAO:6.2.4) ------- The ranged rogue is the single deadliest character in the game. It has one job and it does it very well. Since you only need to focus on a single attribute, your options are narrower and you therefore become a stronger killer. - Enough cunning to open doors/chest, if you want (30) - Everything else into dexterity for maximum damage with a bow - Ranger is by far the best option as a specialization - Bard gives more benefit for less investment than Duelist - Use stealth if you have it! ---- MAGE (DAO:7) ---- The mage is an interesting class. You can't really pigeonhole them into a particular role as they can do pretty much whatever you want. Need healing? Need single target damage? Group damage? Crowd Control? Buffs and debuffs? Heck, mages even make incredibly good tanks. For these reasons and many more I won't break down the mage into particular roles just yet, there are simply too many options to consider. Instead, I'll break it down into tank and caster, the two core concepts behind mages. Tank (DAO:7.1) ---- The mage tank has specific requirements moving forward. First off, you must have access to the Arcane Warrior specialization. This can be acquired almost as soon as you leave Ostagar. With this specialization and its first ability, you will be able to use your magic attribute in place of strength when it comes to equiping weapons and armor. Without massive armor and good melee weapons you'll be lying on the floor in a pool of your own blood very quickly. Also worth mentioning that because you are the tank and using sustained abilities you won't have the liberty to cast any spell any time. You will require additional party members to pick up the casting slack. Due to the sheer number of available spells to the tank I will only discuss the ones I think the tank should acquire. I will discuss all the mage spells in the caster section in 7.3. Attributes (DAO:7.1.1) ---------- Strength: n/a Dexterity: 20 Willpower: 30 or 40 Magic: MAX Cunning: n/a Constitution: n/a or 20 With the proper skill allocation you shouldn't need any points into strength. Cunning is only useful for the Coercion skill on your main character but only very little. A run through the Mage's Circle should suffice in regards to stat boosting. The distribution of stats depends on it you take a second specialization or not and which one that is. If you go Blood Mage, you'll need more constitution and less willpower. Any other form will require a higher investment in willpower. Important to remember is that while the warrior and rogue still do tremendous damage when they are out of stamina a mage can only rely on a staff for what seems pitiful amounts of damage. If you find yourself always going out of mana feel free to put more points into willpower. Abilities (DAO:7.1.2) -------- If your main character is a mage you will have the option of not only selecting two specializations but also possibly acquire two extra spells through the Warden's Keep quest. Mage spells: ----------- Arcane Bolt: Simple spirit damage, nothing complicated though a bow would have more overall utility. This is simply a pre-requisite for the next spell. Arcane Shield: A sustained shield that increases defense, meaning you will avoid incoming damage. This should always be active. Rock Armor: Provides an increase to armor so the hits you do take do less damage. Winter's Grasp: Single target ice spell that has a good chance of freezing the opponent. Great setup for a shatter attack, which means an instant kill if there's a critical physical attack on them. Frost Weapons: Every swing does cold damage. It's a sustained ability that I don't think the tank should be using. Cone of Cold: Very powerful spell that has a great chance of freezing whomever it connects with. This should be used in almost every group encounter. Heal: For when you need a quick jolt of hit points. This spell is never wasted. Mind Blast: A wide area stun which reduces threat levels. Not to zero though, so you still need someone else to attack the stunned enemies to get them off your mage. Force Field: This will save lives, plain and simple. Instant cast to either remove an enemy from combat or save a group member from death. Great tool for use against dragons. Telekenetic Weapons: This spell ensures every weapon hit does extra damage against armored foes. Think ogres, dragons and revenants. Very powerful. Crushing Prison: The golden spell of a mage. Not only does this last as long as Force Field but it also does damage to the enemy. It gets resisted from time to time but every mage in your party should have this spell. Imagine three mages with this and Force Field. You could keep the entire battle to one on one fights. Insane. Miasma: If you have the mana, this is a good spell to keep sustained as it decreases enemy attack and defense with a fairly good range. Disorient: Single target spell that reduces attack and defense. More of a pre-requisite for others down this line. Horror: Interesting spell where a single target is immobilized. If they are asleep when this is cast, a bug chunk of life is taken away. Sleep: Area attack that puts all enemies to sleep and they wake if they are hit. This is a very powerful crowd control spell and combined with Horror can do significant damage to a single target with no risk to the caster. Waking Nightmare: Beauty of a spell in group combat. Not many enemies have mental resistance, especially the weaker ones. Expect to see a bunch of people just randomly moving around, sometimes hitting their own party. Great way to keep enemies off the tank while doing group damage to them, especially when combined with Sleep. Death Magic: Keeping this active is a good way to keep healing your tank during combat. Warden's Keep spells: -------------------- Dark Sustenance: Lose a bit of health, gain a good portion of mana. You would think this is a bad tradeoff but you actually gain in the long run, especially if you use an easily acquired healing potion or heal spell right after. Blood mages get even more benefit here. Bloody Grasp: Lose life to do damage. There is less benefit here since you can do damage better with regular spells than this ability. Shapeshifter specialization: --------------------------- Basically you turn into an animal and lose access to all your spells while gaining access to a few abilities. This is by far the weakest of all the specializations in the game and should be ignored. Spirit Healer specialization: ---------------------------- This spell line provides you with many ways to heal your group and your tank. Very powerful on the more difficult levels and even more so if you don't have another mage in the group. Group Heal: Heals the entire group for a significant amount. Combined with Heal this is what keeps groups alive when there are no healt potions. Revival: I find if I am using this something has gone drastically wrong in the fight. Lifeward: Keep it active on the tank and you save a few heals in the long run. Cleansing Aura: Beautiful spell if you have other melee in the group as the aura isn't terribly large. However it is a significant mana drain. Blood Mage specialization: ------------------------- A very interesting combination of spells where you trade hit points for mana or damage. If you pay attention to combat, this can be a devastating option. Blood Magic: You use hit points to cast spells. One of the reasons a blood mage requires a significant hit point pool instead of mana. Can be powerful if you plan ahead. Blood Sacrifice: On its own, why would you potentially kill a teammate to heal yourself? Well, if that someone is a Ranger pet then there's no real problem at all! Blood Wound: Enemies with blood (everything but a golem pretty much) take big damage throughout the area. This is a great equivalent to Taunt and perfect for a tank. Blood Control: If they have blood they become the mage's pet, else they take significant damage. More damage is great. Possessing an Emissary is even better. Arcane Warrior specialization: ----------------------------- The core specialization behind a mage tank. With this build you acquire the abilities to tank, equip what you want and be practically immune to damage. Combat Magic: Just selecting this ability means you can equip any item by swapping the strength requirement for magic. Massive plate here we come. On top of that, with it active you have a higher attack stat and use spellpower for damage, which with a high magic stat should be very large indeed. Aura of Might: Improved Combat Magic. Yes please. Shimmering Shield: Blocks damage and increases armor and resistance but costs a chunk of mana to keep up. Combined with crafty mana management this really isn't a huge problem. Another mainstay of your sustained spells. Fade Shroud: This really is the icing on the cake. Better mana regen and even a better chance to avoid attacks. Very powerful and passive! Suggested Build (DAO:7.1.3) --------------- Attributes: You have a fair amount of choice, depending if you go down the blood mage or spirit healer specialization. Dexterity at 20 will let you hit the enemy most of the time, constitution at about 20 is fine for spirit healer but 30 is better for a blood mage. Get willpower to where you have enough mana to keep your spells active and the rest goes into Magic. Abilities: I will only list 1 ability per level (2 for the first and one at level 5 when you become a Grey Warden) even though you can acquire more points from books and quests. Mages automatically get Arcane Bolt for free at level 1. 1) Winter's Grasp + Heal 2) Mind Blast 3) Force Field 4) Telekentic Weapons 5) Crushing Prison + Frost Weapons 6) Cone of Cold 7) Combat Magic 8) Rock Armor 9) Arcane Shield 10) Weakness 11) Paralyze 12) Aura of Might 13) Miasma 14) Blood Sacrifice 15) Blood Wound 16) Shimmering Shield 17) Fade Shroud 18) Blood Control 19) Your Choice 20) Your Choice Summary (DAO:7.1.4) ------- The beauty of this character is really in it's simplicity. Keep a few spells sustained, equip massive armor, a few spells and rarely get hit. Seems like the perfect combination to me. - Have enough willpower to keep your sustained abilities active - Combat Magic and Shimmering Shield should always be on - Get dexterity to the point where you hit enemies - More magic means more damage and better armor - You must be an Arcane Mage - Blood Mage is a great supplement with Spirit Healer a lesser option - Use Blood Wound on a Ranger's pets for some free healing! Caster (DAO:7.2) ------ The caster's true strength comes in the insanely wide amount of spells at their disposal. You can focus on single target attacks, group attacks, helping the rest of the group or any combination of the above. It's really up to you. There are only a few "core" spells that every mage should now, after that, it's up to you. A note on Staves, each one does a particular type of damage, so Attributes (DAO:7.2.1) ---------- Strength: n/a Dexterity: n/a Willpower: 40 Magic: MAX Cunning: n/a Constitution: n/a or 20 With the proper skill allocation you shouldn't need any points into strength. Cunning is only useful for the Coercion skill on your main character but only very little. A run through the Mage's Circle should suffice in regards to stat boosting. Depending on the role you wish to play, caster or tank, you'll have a few more options when considering attributes. For a caster, 40 willpower and maximum magic is a great way to move forward. Plenty of mana and the spells will be powerful. Important to remember is that while the warrior and rogue still do tremendous damage when they are out of stamina a mage can only rely on a staff for what seems pitiful amounts of damage. If you find yourself always going out of mana feel free to put more points into willpower. Abilities (DAO:7.2.2) --------- As I mentioned, plenty of options available to a caster. I'll go through every single spell possible for a mage and mention the few core skills I think you should take and my thoughts on the rest. Again, if your main character is a mage you can acquire two free spells through the Warden's Keep quest. Mage spells: ----------- Arcane Bolt: A simple spirit based damage attack. Every mage has it. Arcane Shield: Increases defense while active. You shouldn't be getting hit so there's not much need for it. Staff Focus: About 10 more damage from a staff attack. There are benefits certainly since it's passive but in the grand scheme of things the gain is minimal. Arcane Mastery: 5 spellpower which is essentially a 5% increase in spell effect. I was hoping for something a bit more powerful to be honest. Primal Spells: ------------- Flame Blast: A cone of fire damage ahead of the caster. Does decent damage but will ensure enemies will target the mages after casting. Flaming Weapons: Makes all weapons do an additional 5-10 fire damage per hit. Great with a bunch of melee attackers. Fireball: A lovely spell that not only does instant fire damage it also knocks back the enemy and leaves a short term fire spell for more damage. There's enough time to cast this, then Inferno while the enemy is getting back up for some tremendous damage. Inferno: Lasts about 30 seconds and if an enemy stands within the large area of effect, they will most certainly die, even yellow ranked creatures. Combined with Fireball for some great damage. Rock Armor: Sustained spell that increases your armor rating. You're not getting hit so no real need here. Stone Fist: Knocks an enemy down and can trigger a Shatter effect on a frozen or petrified enemy. Earthquake: Large area of effect that makes all targets stumble to the ground. Effective to stop a large group from running to you while you pick them off with ranged attacks. Petrify: This single target spell turns the enemy to stone for about 15 seconds. This gives your mage enough time to either shatter them or have the group kill them without worry. Very useful spell, up there with Force Field and Crushing Prison. Winter's Grasp: Single target spell that does moderate ice damage and has a good chance of freezing the enemy. Frost Weapons: Enchants all weapons with frost damage for 5-10 extra damage per hit. Great with an all melee group. Cone of Cold: Cone attack that does some damage but even better, freezes most targets in place. A great way to setup additional damage without the enemy being able to return the attack. Blizzard: Think large area of effect, moderate damage and a very high chance of freezing the enemy. Quite powerful but high risk to use if you have any melee. Lightning: Single target for moderate damage that also drains stamina/mana. Shock: Cone attack that does the same thing as Lightning. Dangerous since it angers a lot of enemies. Tempest: Large area of effect spell that does ok damage but even better, drains mana and stamina from the enemy. This is rarely a concern though since it also drains mana/stamina from your group too so I don't use it often. Chain Lightning: A lightning attack that jumps multiple times from target to target. Can do some great damage at a distance but should never be used up close as it can devastate your group. Creation spells: --------------- Heal: Every mage should have this, there's no reason not to. Rejuvenate: Increase the stamina/mana regeneration of a single target. On its own, pretty good but replaced my Mass Rejuvenation. Regeneration: Increase the health regeneration of a single target. Not that useful really as the gain is minimal and won't prevent you from healing later. Mass Rejuvenation: All the group gains stamina/mana for a short while. The cost of the spell is essentially returned after the spell duration so it's win win. Too bad you have to take 2 less useful spells to get here. Heroic Offense: A single target gets increases attack for a short time. Not that good. Heroic Aura: The target is essentially immune from missile attacks. Your tank already has this ability. Heroic Defense: Increase defense and resistance on a single target. Not enough in my books. Haste: The useful spell in this line. The entire part attacks faster, which is great in a melee group but has no benefit to other mages. Glyph of Paralysis: Chance to paralyze a single target. Many other and better skills are available. Glyph of Warding: Boosts the defense and resistance of the group members around the glyph. Think Heroic Defense but group based. Decent but short range. Glyph of Repulsion: Knocks back enemies that try to cross the glyph. Great for a pure range/mage group otherwise not much use. Glyph of Neutralization: Neutralizes all effects and regeneration. Considering the amount of movement in this game, you will rarely if ever find a use for it. Spell Wisp: Grants an extra (100+spellpower)*0.05 spellpower but adds fatigue. This is at most 10 spellpower. Not a big fan. Grease: Area that slows down enemies and if you cast a fire spell can burn everyone within range. Use a grease trap instead of this spell. Spellbloom: Mana regeneration to friend and foe is not a terribly good idea. Stinging Swarm: For about 20 seconds a swarm of insects attacks a single target for some considerable damage. This target can still attack however and the cost of getting here is much higher when you compare to say, Curse of Mortality or Walking Bomb. Spirit Spells: ------------- Spell Shield: This is essentially a mana shield. I have two main problems with this spell. First, if you're using it, you're planning on getting hit, which is odd. Second, without mana, even an Arcane Warrior is useless. Lose the hp and take a potion instead. Dispel Magic: About the only use I can think for this spell is Curse of Mortality. Almost every other affect is negligible. Anti-Magic Ward: Other than the final runs of the game, there are very few instances where casters are a problem. That being said, three particular encounters are terribly difficult due to Crushing Prison, Curse of Mortality and Fireballs. Anti-Magic Burst: This spell typically causes more harm than good since you cannot control who gets affected. Mana Drain: A very useful spell for replenishing mana supplies. I use it frequently. Mana Cleanse: Very nice spell if you can get up close to enemy casters. Completely changes the tide of a fight. Spell Might: Sure spells are more powerful but the trade off is significant. You still won't kill someone with a single fireball but the mana costs will be nearly double. Mana Clash: Think Mana Cleanse plus great damage. Powerful but very situational. Walking Bomb: If you have a single tank, this is great. If everyone is in melee range, this can cause issues. Death Syphon: Rarely of any benefit as when there's enough corpses on the ground, the battle is over anyhow. Virulent Walking Bomb: Essentially a chain causing Walking Bomb. Same restrictions apply to both spells. Can be deadly when combined with a Fireball or other area effect spell. Animate Dead: The cost is huge for a pet that doesn't tank and does minimal damage. Spend that mana on a different attack for more benefit. Mind Blast: Get it. It will save your mage's life frequently. Force Field: Use it to either take out an enemy for some time or save your tank from death. Taunt, Force Field, area effect spells will kill most groups with ease. Telekenetic Weapons: Not very useful early on but when you reach a boss or large enemy (say an Ogre or Revenant) this has a very big impact on the damage you can do. Use Fire/Cold on regular enemies and this on every ranked enemy. Crushing Prion: Can you say overpowered? Every mage should have this spell. Not only does it remove the enemy from combat, it takes away about 50% of their health. Did I mention you can still attack these people too? Two mages in your group with this spell and Force Field will destroy 99% of all groups you encounter. Entropy Spells: -------------- Weakness: Penalties to defense and attack are good but every character has this ability. I prefer other abilities since they often inflict the same effect but do damage as well. Paralyze: Stops an enemy from acting for about 10 seconds. They can still be attacked. Great for controlling ranked enemies. Miasma: A sustained, area effect version of Weakness. Has its uses certainly but typically a Force Field is a better approach. As a tank you'll see more benefit but as a ranged casters, you're too far out of range for much use. Mass Paralysis: Practically the exact same spell as Mind Blast but you can target this one. Expect to have every enemy run to you if you tank can't get their attention after it wears off. Vulnerability Hex: Really only affects your mage and then only on high hit point enemies. I'd rather just throw an extra damage spell. Affliction Hex: Same as above but on a group. Even less useful. Misdirection Hex: Powerful against dragons and revenants. Keeps your tank alive. Death Hex: If you can get this to stick on an enemy, expect your damage numbers to go through the roof. Very deadly on any enemy you hit. Disorient: Again, penalty to attack and defense with no damage. Next. Horror: Same as Paralyze. Sleep: On its own, dangerous because woken enemies run for the caster. Combined with Waking Nightmare, look out for crazy time. Waking Nightmare: I wouldn't use it without first casting Sleep. Basically for 75 mana you take nearly every enemy out of combat for 15 seconds. This is almost as powerful as Force Field and Crushing Prison and will save your life. Drain Life: A better option than casting Heal on the mage but hard to justify spending the ability point on a single use spell. Death Magic: Useful for Arcane Warrior tanks but no real use for other mages. Curse of Mortality: This is probably the spell that will kill you the most, at least in my experience. The problem is that it takes a long time to take effect, so really is only of use on red ranked enemies of which there are few. Death Cloud: Remember Cloud Kill from Baldur's Gate? Meet it's powerful cousin. More damage than Inferno but arguably a more costly investment when compared. Warden's Keep spells: -------------------- Dark Sustenance: Lose a bit of health, gain a good portion of mana. You would think this is a bad tradeoff but you actually gain in the long run, especiallyif you use an easily acquired healing potion or heal spell right after. Blood mages get even more benefit here. Bloody Grasp: Direct damage spells are much more effective than this ability. Shapeshifter Specialization: --------------------------- As I mentioned before, the Shapeshifter is easily the weakest of all specializations. This is solely due to the fact that you lose access to all your mage spells while transformed and what's a mage without spells? Spider Shape: Bonus to nature resistance and you gain access to Web (Paralyze) and Poison Spit (damage over time attack). With Master Shapeshifter, you can now Overwhelm enemies, tackling them to the ground. Bear Shape: Gains to armor and the ability to Slam (Knockdown) and Rage (increased melee damage). Master Shapeshifter gives you the Overwhelm ability. Flying Swarm: Odd ability here. You basically have an aura around you that does continual damage to enemies, moreso the closer you are to them. You can also directly attack casters, draining mana instead of life. You can't be hit by missles, are hard to hit with melee and take huge damage from fire. Master Shapeshifter gives you the ability to drain life when attacking. Master Shapeshifter: Increases the attributes of all forms and provides new abilities. Spirit Healer specialization: ---------------------------- This spell line provides you with many ways to heal your entire group. This should be a core specialization for one of your mages, it's that powerful. Group Heal: Heals the entire group for a significant amount. Combined with Heal this is what keeps groups alive when there are no health potions. Revival: Can be used to revive a tank but more than likely you've lost the fight if you have to cast this spell. Lifeward: Keeps the tank alive when everything else is on cooldown. Cleansing Aura: Very large range for what amounts to a half-heal every few seconds. You won't have it on every fight but when the entire group is taking continual area damage, it will save you. Plus it frees you from Injury Kits. Blood Mage specialization: ------------------------- A very interesting combination of spells where you trade hit points for mana or damage. If you pay attention to combat, this can be a devastating option. Blood Magic: You use hit points to cast spells. One of the reasons a blood mage requires a significant hit point pool instead of mana. Can be powerful if you plan ahead. Blood Sacrifice: On its own, why would you potentially kill a teammate to heal yourself? Well, if that someone is a Ranger pet then there's no real problem at all! Blood Wound: Enemies with blood (everything but a golem pretty much) take big damage throughout the area. This is essentially a magic taunt spell. Use with extreme caution. Blood Control: If they have blood they become the mage's pet, else they take significant damage. More damage is great. Possessing an Emissary is even better. Arcane Warrior specialization: ----------------------------- Great for a tank, very little use for a standard mage, if only for the first ability to equip heavy armor with your Magic attribute instead of Strength. Combat Magic: Just selecting this ability means you can equip any item by swapping the strength requirement for magic. Massive plate here we come. No real benefit to other damage since you'll be casting from the back. Aura of Might: Improved Combat Magic. You're not tanking, no need for this. Shimmering Shield: Makes you harder to hit but this shouldn't be a problem in the first place. Fade Shroud: Nearly immune to melee hits and mana regen. Heavy cost to invest if you don't plan on getting hit in the first place. Suggested Build (DAO:7.2.3) --------------- Attributes: Simple enough here, put enough points into willpower to have enough mana to cast your spells, 30-35 is usually good. Every thing else goes into the magic stat. Abilities: No matter what I put down here, there are going to be other alternatives that are just as appealing. I would suggest that you have more than one mage in your party and split the spells between them for even more devastation and power. Instead of breaking it down by level, I'll just briefly list the spells you should take a hard look at, regardless of the spells you have to acquire before taking it. Just remember that area effect spells will most likely make the enemy run straight towards your mage. Remember, mages automatically get Arcane Bolt at level 1. 1) Heal 2) Fireball 3) Mind Blast 4) Force Field 5) Fireball 6) Crushing Prison 7) Blizzard 8) Petrify 9) Group Heal 10) Blood Magic 11) Revival 12) Lifeward 13) Blood Sacrifice 14) Cleansing Aura 15) Sleep 16) Waking Nightmare 17) Haste 18) Death Hex 19) Miasma 20) Blood Control Summary (DAO: 7.2.4) ------- As you can see, the traditional caster role has a wide variety of options available. You can focus on single target damage, control, healing, disabling and some neat tricks along the way. There are three core spells that every mage should learn: Heal, Force Field and Crushing Prison. They are simply too powerful to ignore. If you have only one mage in the group, I would suggest a Spirit Healer as they provide a significant boost to survivability. If you have multiple mages, have them go down various spell trees to maximize your variety and increase the chance for spell combinations. - Increase Magic to get Crushing Prison early, then add to Willpower - More Magic means spells are harder to resist - More Willpower gives you more spells to cast, up to 15 mana per level - Don't buy 2 weak spells to get 1 good one - Staves hit 100% of this time but never hit for critical damage - Staves each have their own damage type, check their information for details. If you find an enemy is immune to your damage, change staves or go to a bow. Spell Combinations (DAO:7.3) ------------------ When you combine two or more particular spells together you can unlock a nifty combination. Some are more useful than others, that's for sure. Grease Fire || Grease & Fire Spell ----------- Anyone caught in the greas effect is also affected by lingering fire damage Flame Quencher || Grease Fire & Blizzard -------------- Removes the Grease Fire Storm of the Century || Spellmight & Blizzard & Tempest -------------------- Insanely deadly spell combination. You lose the effects of Blizzard but the entire cloud gets significantly bigger and does more damage. Works best if you have 2 mages working together to cast this spell. Shattering || Petrified/Frozen Enemy & Critical hit/ ---------- Stone Fist/Crushing Prison Odds are you'll see this one early on. This instantly kills the enemy. Paralysis Explosion || Glyph of Paralysis & Glyph of Repulsion ------------------- Instantly paralyzes everyone in range and removes both glyphs. Entropy Nightmare || Sleep & Horror ----------------- Lose the sleep effect but enemy takes a big chunk of damage. Improved Drain || Vulnerability Hex & Drain Life/Drain Mana -------------- The drain spells are twice as effective. Entropic Death || Death Hex & Death Cloud -------------- Very big damage but single target only. Spirit Shockwave || Force Field & Crushing Prison ----------------- You'll be seeing this almost every fight past level 15. Creates a knockdown shockwave on everyone but the target. Advanced Reanimation || Spell Might & Animate Dead -------------------- Skeletons that come out have more abilities and are stronger. --------------- SPECIALIZATIONS (DAO:8) --------------- It goes without saying that there are **SPOILERS** beyond this point. I'll briefly explain how to unlock each specialization. Once unlocked, it stays active on the next playthrough or reload. This means in many cases you should save your game, buy a book and then reload the game to get your money back. Warrior (DAO:8.1) ------- Templar: Learn from Alistair with high approval. You can also buy the book from Bodahn at camp. Champion: You need to cure the Arl in Redcliffe with the Ashes. You can decline the specialization if you are not careful. Reaver: Taint the ashes then visit the reavers to collect this specilization. Beserker: Learn from Oghren with high approval or buy the book from Gorim in Denerim. Rogue (DAO:8.2) ----- Assassin: Learn from Zevran with high approval or buy in Denerim from Alarith. Bard: Learn from Leliana with high approval. Ranger: Buy the book from Bodahn at camp. Duelist: Learn from Isabella at the Pearl in Denerim. You must catch her cheating or bring a high dexterity character with you to help out after a few failures. Persuasion apparently works. Mage (DAO:8.3) ---- Shapeshifter: Learn from Morrigan if your approval is high enough. Sprit Healer: You can buy the book in the Wonders of Thedas shop in Denerim. Blood Mage: You must be a mage and enter the Fade while helping cure the Arl's child in Redcliffe. Make a trade with the Desire Demon to learn this specialization. Arcane Warrior: In the Ancient Temple in the Brecilian Forest is a room with a phylactery and an altar. Help the spirit to die and you'll gain this specialization. ---- TIPS (DAO:9) ---- Here are a few tips and notes that you should keep in mind when playing Dragon Age. - Completing the Circle of Mages tower will reward you with 4 Strength, 4 Dexterity, 4 Willpower, 2 Magic, 5 Cunning and 2 Constitution. If you plan on minimally investing in particular attributes, do this quest first to give you a better idea of where to put other points. - PC bug: When you level up, you can redistribute attribute points. Let's say you are a mage and want to reduce cunning to increase magic. Put the 3 points into cunning and then click Reset. Now, click the left arrow next to cunning. This will remove 3 points giving you a total of 6 to play with. You can do this as often as you like but can only redistribute one particular attribute per level up. My Arcange Warrior had 1 strength and 1 cunning with this method. - At merchants, buy backpacks everytime you see them. They help you acquire more items to better equip your entire team. - At merchants, buy books in this order. Abilities, Attributes, Skills. - At merchants, if you see a Specialization book save first, buy the book then reload your game with the specialization unlocked. - Everything you sell to your Camp vendor stays on him forever. If you find you're low on inventory space, sell him some items to lighten your load. Alternatively, if you have the Warden's Keep DLC, complete that quest to unlock group storage. - When Enchanting, you don't lose runes put into weapons. If you want to move runes around simply remove them from a weapon and put them into another. - When Enchanting, Tanks should focus on Physical Resistance (60 max), damage dealers should look for Electric/Ice/Fire and Paralyzing runes. - The earlier you acquire party members, the lower their levels and the more you can customize them. Allistair joins at level 2-3 with only 4 abilities already selected. Oghren can be acquired very late in the game and leave no room at all for selecting a path other than melee. ----------- FINAL NOTES (DAO:10) ----------- The beauty of Dragon Age is there really isn't a bad way to play the game. There are certainly easier ways than others but if you want a challenge all the time, that option surely exists. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to send them my way.