Dragon Age - Origins Class and Character Building Guide [Walkthrough]

Dragon Age - Origins Class and Character Building Guide

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                          Dragon Age: Origins PC
                    Class and Character Building Guide
                            By: KerathArcwind
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The purpose of this guide is to take a look at the different classes and
specializations open to the main character (generally referred to as "The
Warden" throughout the guide) and the various stat and talent builds that I
have found to work well. It also highlights some of the better endgame
equipment to keep an eye out for, and provides some suggestions on how to
build your allies based on the stats and talent sets that they start with.
This is my second guide for GameFAQs. I"ve played Dragon Age entirely too
much over the last few months, finishing the game with nearly every origin
and nearly every class/weapon build combination, so I am speaking almost
wholly from actual in-game experience and only occasionally from informed
speculation. I"ve tried to go into pretty good detail to help out players
that are having trouble making various builds work or just plain finding
the combat encounters in the game too difficult. This guide is based on game
version 1.02b, with The Stone Prisoner, Blood Dragon Armour, and Warden"s
Keep DLCs. If I get a chance, I"ll update with info from Return to Ostagar
and the upcoming expansion.
Version History
01/26/2010 - Version 1.0 submitted to GameFAQs
Acknowledgements
- The Dragon Age Wiki for some supplementary info
- The Gamebanshee Dragon Age database for brushing up on some gear stats
Please follow GameFAQs" rules and guidelines regarding how this FAQ can and
should be used. They"re kind enough to provide such a lovely resource for us
all at no cost, after all. If you borrow from it, it"d be nice if you give
credit where credit"s due :)
Comments and corrections can be sent to bturnereebATgmailDOTcom.
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                     Table of Contents and Navigation
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Section I: General Starting Class Overview [DAOS1.0]
     1.1 - The Warrior [DAOS1.1]
     1.2 - The Rogue [DAOS1.2]
     1.3 - The Mage [DAOS1.3]
Section II: Class Specializations [DAOS2.0]
     2.1 - Warrior Specializations [DAOS2.1]
     2.2 - Rogue Specializations [DAOS2.2]
     2.3 - Mage Specializations [DAOS2.3]
Section III: Building the Warden [DAOS3.0]
     3.1 - The Tank [DAOS3.1]
     3.2 - The Two-Hander [DAOS3.2]
     3.3 - The Dual Wielder [DAOS3.3]
     3.4 - The Archer [DAOS3.4]
     3.5 - A Preface on Mage Builds [DAOS3.5]
     3.6 - The Nuker [DAOS3.6]
     3.7 - The Support Healer [DAOS3.7]
     3.8 - The Debilitator [DAOS3.8]
     3.9 - The Spellsword [DAOS3.9]
     3.10 - A Quick Guide to Spell Combos [DAOS3.10]
Section IV: Noteworthy Gear [DAOS4.0]
     4.1 - Amulets, Belts, and Rings [DAOS4.1]
     4.2 - Mage Armour [DAOS4.2]
     4.3 - Light Armour [DAOS4.3]
     4.4 - Medium Armour [DAOS4.4]
     4.5 - Heavy Armour [DAOS4.5]
     4.6 - Massive Armour [DAOS4.6]
     4.7 - Shields [DAOS4.7]
     4.8 - Waraxes, Maces, and Longswords [DAOS4.8]
     4.9 - Battleaxes, Greatswords, and Mauls [DAOS4.9]
     4.10 - Bows [DAOS4.10]
     4.11 - Daggers and Staves [DAOS4.11]
Section V: Building and Developing Your Team [DAOS5.0]
     5.1 - Alistair [DAOS5.1]
     5.2 - Morrigan [DAOS5.2]
     5.3 - The Dog [DAOS5.3]
     5.4 - Leliana [DAOS5.4]
     5.5 - Sten [DAOS5.5]
     5.6 - Zevran [DAOS5.6]
     5.7 - Wynne [DAOS5.7]
     5.8 - Shale [DAOS5.8]
     5.9 - Oghren [DAOS5.9]
     5.10 - Final character **SPOILER ALERT** [DAOS5.10]
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            SECTION I: GENERAL STARTING CLASS OVERVIEW [DAOS1.0]
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This is just a very generalized overview to give some idea of what each class
is all about. More details, such as what stats to prioritize or what exact
abilities everyone gets, will be covered in later sections on actual
character builds. I"m generally assuming that the reader already knows the
basic mechanics of the game, such as what each stat does, what the difference
between defense and armour is, what fatigue is, etc. If you don"t, then you
may want to read up on that first.
1.1 - The Warrior [DAOS1.1]
Warriors are largely what you"d expect from an RPG - they are the most
versatile weaponry specialists of any base class, able to learn all three
melee styles (sword and shield, dual wielding, and two-handed weapons) as
well as archery. Their class-specific talent tree allows them to make better
use of heavier armour than anyone else, improves their performance when
they"re engaging large numbers of enemies, and gives them some control over
the degree to which enemies will prioritize them as a target, which is
particularly important for warriors filling the tank role. However, you
shouldn"t go into the warrior class expecting them to be the easiest class to
play, as they tend to be in many other RPGs. Like rogues and mages, warriors
require strategy to use well and can"t simply go charging head-on into any
battle they encounter, as tempting as that might be. In general, warriors
will be at the forefront, but recklessness and/or lack of preparation can
rapidly result in defeat and death.
Pros:
+ High HP
+ Best heavy armour users
+ Large weapon selection
+ Work relatively well on AI "auto-pilot"
+ Can achieve very high damage output across a wide variety of battlefield
conditions
Cons:
- Smaller bag of tricks than the other classes
- Greater need to manage stamina due to fatigue
- Not as sturdy as warriors in a lot of RPGs; caution and tactics still
required to survive
- More one-dimensional than the other classes
1.2 - The Rogue [DAOS1.2]
Rogues provide a broad blend of damage, crowd control, support, and general
utility. While not as sturdy or well suited to heavy armour as the warrior,
rogues have a nice bag of tricks that gives them as much (or even more)
survivability as their meaty frontline friends. Rogues probably require the
most positional tactics of any class type, scouting ahead to clear out
hazards or assassinate particularly dangerous targets before the rest of the
group charges in, staying on the move and making use of battlefield
positioning to maximize their impact. Rogues are more limited in their
selection of fighting styles than warriors, typically using either dual
wielding, archery, or some combination of the two. However, because of their
class mechanics, rogues are generally regarded as being better than warriors
at both of these styles of combat. There"s almost never a time when you won"t
want at least one rogue in your group, if only to clear out traps and pick
locks.
Pros:
+ A lot of versatility in roles and combat style
+ Tons of utility
+ Great survivability if built correctly
+ Best skill users of any class
Cons:
- Generally relegated to using light armour
- Less margin of error than warriors due to lower hp and less armour
- Require somewhat more micromanagement than warriors to be effective
- Limited weapon selection
- Tend to be defensively weak and vulnerable in the early game
1.3 - The Mage [DAOS1.3]
If you"ve played BioWare RPGs before, you"re probably expecting the mage to
be a complete and utter powerhouse. If so, you guessed correctly. Mages have
the most raw power of any class, in addition to having an enormous bag of
tricks for keeping themselves alive against the odds and horribly
incapacitating and mangling even the strongest enemies. Many of their spells
are extremely potent on their own, but the spell combo mechanic can ramp up
the destruction to even greater levels. For sheer battlefield control and
dominance, nothing exceeds the potential of a mage. They also make excellent
group support characters, and can even be melee tanks if you pick the Arcane
Warrior specialization (more on that later).
Pros:
+ Far and away the highest damage output of any class
+ The only class that can heal
+ Enormously potent spell combinations
+ Surprisingly high survivability and crowd control with the right spells
+ Can become the heaviest armour tanks in the game with the Arcane Warrior
specialization
Cons:
- Require the most micromanagement of any class to be effective, unless you
just use them as a healbot
- Low hit point pool and poor armour, so positioning and defensive spells are
necessary for survival
- Very little equipment variety
- Actually kind of too strong; have a lot of overpowered abilities and tricks
that can trivialize encounters that would otherwise be very challenging.
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              SECTION II: CLASS SPECIALIZATIONS [DAOS2.0]
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Class specializations become available at levels 7 and 14. All humanoid
characters other than Sten can learn 2 specializations, though only the PC
actually gets to pick both, as the others generally start with one. Level
requirements for each talent are in parentheses.
2.1 - Warrior Specializations [DAOS2.1]
CHAMPION
Source: Reward from Arl Eamon
Bonuses: +2 Willpower, +1 Cunning
The Champion specialization is a solid choice for almost any type of warrior,
as it provides nice group buffing and crowd control abilities. It is
particularly well suited to tanks, since they"ll usually be in the thickest
parts of the fight. This is the only warrior specialization that bolsters
allies.
Champion talents:
War Cry (7) - An AoE attack debuff. Nothing spectacular on its own, though if
you"ve got stamina to spare, it never hurts either.
Rally (12) - A sustained AoE defense buff. Very handy for shieldtanks and for
giving a survivability boost to any rogues in your party. The main downside
is that it knocks allied rogues out of stealth when they enter its AoE, which
I"ve always thought was bloody silly.
Motivate (14) - Adds an attack buff to Rally. If you use Rally a lot, it"s
worth getting.
Superiority (16) - Adds an AoE knockdown to War Cry, turning it from a
mediocre debuff to a potent crowd control ability.
TEMPLAR
Source: Can either be acquired through a manual from Bodahn Feddic or taught
by Alistair once his approval is high enough
Bonuses: +2 Magic, +3 mental resistance
The Templar specialization serves one role and one role only - anti-magic
duties. Every ability they get is oriented toward countering magical enemies
in some way or other. This is a common choice for heavy tanks, but can be
useful for nearly any warrior, though less so for warrior archers due to some
of their abilities being melee-based.
Templar talents:
Righteous Strike (7) - A passive ability that lets you drain mana from mages
every time you hit them in melee. Sounds cool on paper, but to be honest I"ve
never noticed it making much of a difference.
Cleanse Area (9) - The most useful Templar ability. This is basically an AoE
dispel, allowing you to get rid of a lot of nasty status effects and other
damaging and/or incapacitating magical afflictions.
Mental Fortress (12) - A permanent passive bonus to mental resistance. Fairly
useful, since warriors tend not to have very good mental resistance, but I
wouldn"t make it a priority.
Holy Smite (15) - A small AoE attack that does damage based on your Willpower
and can also be stunned or knocked back. Kind of limited in usefulness unless
you have very high Willpower. Mainly designed to be used against mages, as it
drains mana from them and inflicts additional spirit damage based on the
amount of mana drained. This would be kind of a useless ability if mages
weren"t so ungodly powerful; killing enemy mages as soon as possible is
usually a good strategy in any fight, so this talent may be worth taking to
accomplish that, though I find the damage a bit underwhelming for its cost,
even with a decent Willpower modifier.
BERSERKER
Source: Can be learned either from a manual bought from Gorim, or taught by
Oghren once his approval is high enough
Bonuses: +2 Strength, +10 hit points
Berserker is the DPS warrior specialization. The entire purpose of the
abilities gained is to boost your damage output, so it"s generally the clear
choice for 2h or dual wielding warriors. Unlike in many games, Berserkers in
DA:O don"t have to sacrifice survivability in exchange for this damage. Just
watch your stamina early on.
Berserker talents:
Berserk (7) - a sustained ability that boosts your damage and mental
resistance, but imposes a penalty on your stamina regeneration. In general,
there"s no reason why a Berserker should ever not have this on in combat. The
major drawback is its obnoxiously long cooldown.
Resilience (8) - contrary to the in-game description, this talent actually
boosts your health regeneration while Berserk is active. Worth getting.
Constraint (10) - neutralizes the stamina regeneration penalty from Berserk
while it"s active, meaning there"s even less reason not to have it active in
combat.
Final Blow (12) - uses all of your stamina to unleash one big attack. Does 1
damage for every 2 stamina spent. Kind of situational, and be aware that it
can miss just like any other attack.
REAVER
Source: Taught by Kolgrim if you defile Andraste"s ashes
Bonuses: +1 constitution, +5 stamina
Reaver is probably the least useful of the warrior specializations, having
rather situational abilities and somewhat lesser stat bonuses. Reaver can be
a decent choice for tanks and damage dealers.
Devour (7) - consumes nearby corpses, and restores health, with the amount
based on your Magic stat, like health poultices. Probably the most useful
Reaver talent.
Frightening Appearance (12) - causes your target to cower in fear if they
fail a mental resistance check, and also boosts the effectiveness of Taunt
and Threaten. Pretty useful for tanks.
Aura of Pain (14) - an AoE DoT that hurts both you and enemies within range
with each pulse. Considering it hurts you for the same amount as it hurts
them, and also imposes a penalty on your health regeneration, this is far
from a great ability. Tanks don"t really want to be dropping their own hp and
regen rate, and since it"s an AoE, it"ll tend to attract hostility toward DPS
warriors. Kind of useless.
Blood Frenzy (16) - Adds between 0 and 10 damage depending on how low your
health is, and imposes a penalty to health regeneration. Basically a really
shoddy version of Berserk.
2.2 - Rogue Specializations [DAOS2.2]
ASSASSIN
Source: Can either be learned from a manual bought from Alarith, or taught by
Zevran once his approval is high enough
Bonuses: +2 Dexterity, +2.5% melee critical hit chance
Assassin is a great choice for any melee rogue, since it gets really useful
stat bonuses and a talent set oriented toward maximizing your damage output.
Not so useful for rogue archers.
Assassin talents:
Mark of Death (7) - a targeted debuff that increases all incoming damage
against the afflicted enemy. Great for dropping priority targets faster, like
mages and bosses.
Exploit Weakness (12) - adds a passive damage bonus to every backstab hit
based on your Cunning score. Since you probably have a pretty high Cunning
modifier as a rogue, this is a solid investment.
Lacerate (14) - causes your backstabs to inflict a non-stacking DoT. More
damage means a target that"s dead sooner, particularly against tougher enemies.
Feast of the Fallen (16) - passively allows you to regain stamina any time
you kill an enemy with a backstab. Note that this only works for true
backstabs where you"re flanking the enemy, and not Coup de Grace hits from
the front against incapacitated enemies. If you find yourself getting low on
stamina early on in battles, this is worth considering.
BARD
Source: Can either be learned from a manual bought from Alimar, or taught by
Leliana once her approval is high enough
Bonuses: +2 Willpower, +1 Cunning
The Bard specialization allows rogues to take on more of a group buffing
role. Because their buffs automatically affect the whole party no matter
where they are, unlike Champion buffs which are a circular AoE, this pairs
up particularly well with ranged fighting styles. A solid choice for any
rogue looking to play more of a support role. The effect of all Bard songs
are based on Cunning. Bards can only have one song active at a time.
Bard talents:
Song of Valour (7) - a sustained party buff that boosts stamina and mana
regeneration. Extremely useful in nearly every situation.
Distraction (8) - a sustained ability that decreases hostility and can
disorient enemies that fail a mental resistance check. Pretty situational and
generally not necessary.
Song of Courage (10) - a sustained party buff that boosts attack, damage, and
critical hit chance. A good choice if you have a melee-heavy party that just
wants to mow through grunts quickly.
Captivating Song (12) - a sustained ability that continually inflicts a weak
stun against all enemies in an AoE around the bard. While using this song,
you can"t move, attack, or use any other abilities. Useful if you get
swarmed, but not something you"d want on all the time.
DUELIST
Source: Taught by Isabela at The Pearl
Bonuses: +2 Dexterity, +1 damage
Duelist is an amazing specialization, providing extremely useful bonuses for
any type of rogue, though particularly for melee rogues. Provides a great
blend of offensive and defensive capabilities.
Duelist talents:
Dueling (7) - a sustained ability that grants a bonus to attack. Particularly
useful in the early game, and for making archery more reliable.
Upset Balance (12) - a targeted melee debuff that lowers the defense and
movement speed of an enemy
Keen Defenses (14) - grants a bonus to defense when Dueling is active. Since
rogues generally rely on defense dodging to survive, this is almost always
useful.
Pinpoint Strike (16) - an activated self-buff that turns all melee attacks
into critical hits for a short time. Quite useful when fighting shield users
that are immune to flanking or any other time when backstabs are not possible.
RANGER
Source: Learned from a manual you can purchase from Bodahn Feddic
Bonuses: +1 Constitution, +5% Nature resistance
Ranger is the most unusual rogue specialization, as it is purely pet-based
with no abilities that the character themself actually uses. If you like
summoning classes, this is the specialization for you. Pets can provide
additional damage and abilities and/or act as disposable tanks. Rangers also
pair up well with Blood Mages (explained in the Mage Specializations below).
The drawbacks are the mediocre stat bonuses and the fact that if a summoned
animal gets a killing blow, your party receives no exp for the kill.
Summon Wolf (7) - summons a wolf. Can howl, which is an AoE defense debuff.
Summon Bear (8) - summons a bear. Can slam, which is an automatic
critical if it hits and may knock the target back.
Summon Spider (10) - summons a giant spider (noticing a pattern?). Can use
Web, which immobilizes an enemy, and Spit Poison, a ranged attack that
inflicts a Nature DoT.
Master Ranger (12) - Gives a power boost to all your summons, so you should
get it if you use your summons regularly. The wolf becomes a blight wolf, the
bear becomes a great bear, and the spider becomes a poison spider.
2.3 - Mage Specializations [DAOS2.3]
SHAPESHIFTER
Source: Can either be learned from a manual bought from Varathorn, or taught
by Morrigan if her approval rating is Neutral.
Bonuses: +2 Constitution, +1 Armour
The Shapeshifter specialization is one that had a lot of cool potential but
unfortunately fell short in practice. While each of the abilities is useful
in its own right, the long casting time on shapeshifting and the extreme
reduction in tactical options (you can"t use any of your spells) while
shifted make it the least useful of the mage specializations.
Shapeshifter talents:
Spider Shape (7) - caster becomes a giant spider, gaining the Web (single
target paralysis) and Spit Poison (ranged DoT) abilities as well as Nature
resistance
Bear Shape (8) - caster becomes a bear, gaining a bonus to armour and
Nature resistance as well as the Slam (critical hit/knockback) and Rage
(damage self-buff) abilities
Flying Swarm (10) - caster becomes a swarm of winged stinging insects that
inflict Nature damage based on the caster"s spellpower. Mana regeneration
drops to 0, and any damage the swarm takes is removed from mana instead of
hit points. The swarm is immune to normal missiles and has high evasion
versus melee attacks, but is very vulnerable to fire.
Master Shapeshifter (12) - boosts the capabilities of each shifter form.
Spider becomes Corrupted Spider and gains the Overwhelm attack; bear becomes
a Bereskarn and gains the Overwhelm attack; and the Flying Swarm gains health
with every attack.
ARCANE WARRIOR
Source: Learned from a spirit in the ruined temple of the Brecilian Forest
Bonuses: +1 Dexterity, +5 attack
The most unusual of the mage specializations. Basically allows you to become
a heavy melee fighter with unsurpassed defensive potential, but with greatly
diminished active spellcasting ability due to massively boosted fatigue.
Arcane Warrior talents:
Combat Magic (7) - a sustained self-buff that lets you use your Magic stat
rather than Strength to determine weapon damage (while active) and to satisfy
weapon and armour prerequisites (passively once Combat Magic is learned).
Also gives up to +10 attack based on your spellpower. Greatly boosts fatigue.
Aura of Might (12) - adds bonuses to attack, defense, and damage while Combat
Magic is active. This is pretty essential - learn ASAP.
Shimmering Shield (14) - the best defensive self-buff in the game, Shimmering
Shield is a sustained ability that grants a sizeable bonus to armour, and
adds 75 points to all resistances except spell resistance (note that 75% is
where elemental resistances are capped, but mental and physical resistance
can go up to 100). Imposes a heavy penalty on mana regeneration. As of patch
1.02, it will deactivate once mana reaches 0. Try and have this up as much as
possible.
Fade Shroud (16) - grants a small bonus to mana regeneration and a 25% chance
to avoid incoming attacks while Combat Magic is active. Another essential
skill that should be learned right away.
BLOOD MAGE
Source: Taught by the Desire demon possessing Connor
Bonuses: +2 Constitution, +2 spellpower
Unbeatable for sheer offensive potential, Blood Mage is the way to go if you
want your mage to just be a spellcasting powerhouse. Be cautious when using
Blood abilities, though, as they have significant penalties that can result
in disaster if employed at inopportune times. If you like to nuke things into
oblivion while hanging well back from the front lines, this specialization
was made for you.
Blood Mage talents:
Blood Magic (7) - a sustained self-buff that uses hit points rather than mana
to cast spells, and reduces the effectiveness of any healing spells or items
used on you to 10% of their normal strength. The health cost of the spell is
20% lower than its mana cost, and can be further reduced by Blood Mage-
specific items found in the game.
Blood Sacrifice (12) - heals the caster by sucking life force out of an ally.
Can only be used when Blood Magic is active, and does not suffer the 90%
healing penalty, but can kill the ally. A ranger"s pets can be used as a
"battery" of sorts for a Blood Mage ally with this ability. It"s easier to
manage than it sounds, as damage to your ally never exceeds 50 points, and
you gain 2 hit points for every 1 drained.
Blood Wound (14) - one of the most powerful crowd control spells in the game,
Blood Wound paralyzes all enemies in a large AoE and inflicts a very strong
DoT. Since Blood Mages tend to stack their Magic stat, this is nearly
impossible to resist. Blood Magic must be active, and enemies without blood
(such as golems) are unaffected. Used wisely, this attack can turn normally
difficult encounters into a joke.
Blood Control (16) - allows you to turn an enemy into a temporary ally if
they fail a mental resistance check. Depends on whether or not these
abilities are your cup of tea.
SPIRIT HEALER
Source: Learned from a tome that can be bought either in The Wonders of
Thedas or outside Warden"s Keep. Contrary to what you"d expect, Wynne cannot
teach it.
Bonuses: +2 Magic, bonus to combat health regen
The most support-oriented of the mage specializations, Spirit Healer is a
solid choice for nearly any kind of mage, whether it"s making you a better
healer than you already are or giving you the option of being a great healer
if things take a turn for the worse. The bonuses are great and the spells are
all useful. Spirit Healers are the only characters other than Shale in statue
mode that can heal more than one character at a time.
Group Heal (7) - heals everyone in your group, regardless of how spread out
they are. Extremely useful, particularly when recovering from a large AoE
attack like a fireball.
Revival (8) -  this spell is the only way to revive an ally in combat.
Usually not necessary, but always nice to have as an option.
Lifeward (12) - places a latent buff on the recipient that instantly heals
them for a decent amount whenever their hit points fall below 1/3 of their
maximum. A good spell to throw on your tank in any tough fight.
Cleansing Aura (14) - a sustained AoE buff centred on the caster that sends
out pulses of healing energy to all allies in the area, with the heal amount
decreasing as allies move further away. Also heals all injuries of allies in
close proximity. Good for saving money on injury kits and in battles where
your characters tend to stay tightly grouped, but you don"t want to leave it
running as it drains mana very quickly.
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               SECTION III: BUILDING THE WARDEN [DAOS3.0]
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The first thing you need to do when building your character is to decide what
kind of character you"d like them to be - what play style you prefer, what
role you"d like them to fill, what you"d like them to be best at, etc. Below,
I"ll provide some guides for general character archetypes and how I"d
approach building them. If you"ve played through the game before and are
familiar with your possible companions, you may want to build your Warden to
fit the same role as a companion you don"t like so that you don"t have to
bring them along, or a role that complements a party of 3 companions you do
like. Bear in mind that whatever role the Warden chooses, they will be the
best at it. Because of the bonus stats, skills, and talents you can and do pick
up throughout the game, you will end up being better built than any of your
NPC companions are capable of being. For stat recommendations, I will specify
whether the amount is the base amount (the amount shown when you"re
allocating stat points after leveling up) or the modified amount (the base
amount plus all bonuses/penalties you are receiving from your specializations
and equipped gear).
When choosing skills, it should be noted that the Warden is the only
character that may learn Coercion, and thus it"s a good idea to put at least
a point or two in here, as it will unlock a lot of very profitable options
along the way. This is true for all builds, and is particularly easy to do as
a rogue.
It should also be noted that I strongly advocate taking both lockpicking/trap
disarming and stealth skills on rogue Wardens. They"re just plain too useful
to pass up, even if it means having to delay other talent choices. You can have
the lockpicking role covered by Leliana or Zevran if you wish, but there"ll
be a few locked chests where you won"t have access to them and won"t be able
to open unless you can do it yourself. The exception to this is if your rogue
happens to have very high Cunning modifiers, as they will not require as high
a rank of lockpicking/disarming talents if they do.
A quick summary of the roles covered and what they excel at:
The Tank - combining spectacular dodging with huge armour absorption and 360
degree defense, the Tank maximizes the Warrior"s survival potential while
keeping their allies safe.
The Two-Hander - the king (or queen) of spike damage, this build can shred
bosses and crank out huge damage numbers but is more limited in drawn out
combat.
The Dual Wielder - unleashing a constant barrage of smaller but still potent
blows, these melee fighters have unsurpassed sustained damage output and
great potential for inflicting on-hit effects, such as runic boosts.
The Archer - master of harassment from afar, you can inflict status effects,
respectable damage, and a little crowd control from the safety of the rear.
The Nuker - a mage focused on maximizing their pure destructive potential.
Whole armies can be levelled by the spells you"ll unleash.
The Support Healer - even a tank can"t do as much to keep their team alive as
a good support mage. You are your team"s best friend.
The Debilitator - while not as spectacularly damaging as many other mages,
the Debilitator can make any enemy cry with the sheer volume of debuff and
crowd control spells available to magi.
The Spellsword - built around the Arcane Warrior, this unusual mage becomes a
walking wall of magic-infused melee damage absorption. Relatively low damage
and greatly decreased spellcasting potential, but almost unsurpassed
defensive might via sustained abilities.
I"ll provide a relative difficulty rating at the end of each role based on my
experience playing them.
3.1 - The Tank [DAOS3.1]
The tank"s whole purpose in life is to make enemies attack them rather than
their companions and soak up as much damage as possible for as long as
possible without dying. The two critical characteristics of a tank are
maximized survivability through some combination of hit points, defense,
armour, talents and healing sources, and management of monster hostility so
that they can protect their allies. This role is a bit weak at first, as you
have access to only weak armour, which won"t change until you can boost your
stats to meet prereqs and get to areas where you can acquire or purchase
better gear. In addition, the stat you have to raise first is one that won"t
help your survivability much in and of itself, and you have to raise it a
lot. Bear all this in mind.
Base class: Warrior. You can also make a fair argument for Mage with the idea
of going Arcane Warrior, but management of enemy hostility is far more
difficult as a mage than it is as a warrior.
Critical talents:
Powerful - you will spend your whole life in the heaviest armour possible,
and more hit points is never a bad thing.
Threaten - one of the ways you make things attack you and not your allies.
Essential.
Taunt - to draw enemies onto yourself when Threaten isn"t enough.
Shield Wall - the lifeblood of your survivability. Get this ASAP and have it
on at all times.
Shield Tactics - immunity to flanking is a lifesaver in a number of tough
fights.
Shield Expertise - immunity to knockdown in Shield Wall mode is extremely
useful. A tank that"s on their ass isn"t doing their job.
Shield Mastery - this goes without saying, as it makes all your shield
abilities better.
Good talents:
Bravery - you will spend most of your life being surrounded by lots of
enemies. Might as well make the best of it.
The Shield Bash Tree - all the attacks in this tree are useful when you can
spare the talents, both for supplemental damage and for crowd control.
Death Blow - might as well get some stamina for killing things once you can
spare the talents.
Shield Defense - good to use until you get Shield Wall; if you rely more on
dodging than armour, you may want to continue using this.
Precise Striking - the critical hit bonus can be useful if you get hit with
an inopportune Misdirection Hex. Depending on your preferences, you may wish
to have this on all the time.
Specializations:
Champion - a great choice if you want to support your party. The bonus to
defense will also help out your tanking, and War Cry can aid your
survivability and crowd control.
Templar - Cleanse Area is always useful, but probably the best thing about
this specialization is some of the gear it unlocks. A favourite for tanks.
Reaver - useful for the corpse eating heal (particularly if you have no mage
healer) and the boost to Threaten and Taunt. The last two abilities probably
shouldn"t be used.
Berserker - probably the least useful specialization for a tank. Doing damage
isn"t really your job.
General stat spread:
Strength: 42 modified
Dexterity: as high as possible
Willpower: 20-30ish modified depending on how much you like using active talents
Magic: 20ish modified
Cunning: 16 base
Constitution: 30ish modified
The general idea with tank stats is that you want to focus on Strength first,
so that you can start wearing heavier armours as soon as possible. If you
have the Blood Dragon Armour DLC, then this can allow you to get into a very
nice set of armour quite early on in the game, which will do wonders for your
durability. While investing in Dexterity or Constitution early on would do
more to keep you alive during the first few levels, it"s a worse option in
the end. A lot of the other stat recommendations I listed can be fulfilled
simply by doing the Broken Circle quest and getting all the permanent stat
bonuses there. Willpower and Magic are really totally up to you, depending on
how much you use stamina and how important you think it is to get more or
less healing from poultices. Cunning should be 16 base so that you can max
out any skill you want, like Coercion; anything above that is up to you.
Constitution is also largely up to personal taste; some people like to put a
lot of CON onto tanks, but in general, it"s not as helpful as you might
think. Each point of CON only gives you a 5 hp boost, which is pretty paltry
and generally only delaying the inevitable in a tough fight. By contrast,
high Dexterity can turn your tank into an unholy walking wall. Great dodging
ability from a combination of Dexterity and boosts from your sustained shield
abilities will mean that on top of your spectacularly high armour absorption
value, you"re also difficult to hit. When I"ve played around with stacking
DEX versus stacking CON, I"ve found DEX does a lot more to keep my tank alive
than CON does. You can actually achieve very high defense values with a DEX-
stacked shieldtank.
Difficulty rating:
Early game - Hard
Mid game - Average to easy
Late game - Very easy
3.2 - The Two-Hander
Two-Hander builds tend to be designed to do as much single-hit melee damage
as possible, while having enough survivability to live to tell about it
afterward. On top of having great damage output, you can make use of heavy
armours and gain yourself a respectable hit point pool to keep you going
after a hard knock or two. The Two-Hander also excels at inflicting debuffs
on tough single targets, like bosses, while being highly resistant to status
effects yourself. Add in a little crowd control and AoE capability into the
mix, and you have a melee force to be reckoned with. You will be focusing a
fair bit on your activated talents, as spike damage is truly where this build
excels. Because of your painfully long swing time, you really don"t want to
rely on autoattacks any more than you absolutely have to; stamina management
to keep dishing out active talents is key in this build.
Base Class: Warrior. The other two don"t make sense because you can"t learn
any two-handed talents.
Critical talents:
Powerful - armour and hit points will be your major way of living through
battles.
Sunder Arms - on top of debuffing attack, this is actually one of your best
DPS skills, as it hits twice, doesn"t cost much stamina, and has a relatively
short cooldown. It"ll regularly do more damage than Mighty Blow and will be
ready again sooner. And you can get it nice and early due to its low
placement in its talent tree.
Sunder Armour - a more useful debuff than Sunder Arms and about the same
damage output, but with a longer cooldown, a higher stamina cost, and more
prerequisites. Still a must-have.
Bravery - you"ll be in the thick of it very often, and damage bonuses are
always welcome in this build.
Death Blow - with your huge hits, you"ll get killing blows pretty often.
Gaining stamina for each one will help power your active talents.
Indomitable - damage bonus and knockdown/stun immunity? Score. Sign me up.
I"d use this for the stun immunity alone, particularly later in the game when
you get swarmed by scattershotting archer hordes.
Stunning Blows - once you have this talent, every critical hit you land will
have quite a good chance of also stunning your opponent. A great passive.
Mighty Blow - your bread-and-butter DPS skill for the early levels, and still
useful later on.
Destroyer - basically a passive Sunder Armour with every attack. Why the hell
not?
Two-Handed Sweep - probably the best melee AoE in the game. It"s 360 degrees,
like Whirlwind, but seems to do slightly better damage and has a powerful
knockdown.
Good talents:
Pommel Strike - being able to knock an annoying baddie on their ass is always
handy. Unfortunately, you can usually only get one swing in before they"re up
on their feet again. However, its low cost and how early you can learn it
make it handy, particularly for disrupting spellcasting.
Precise Striking - good to pair up with Powerful Swings or Indomitable,
particularly in the early levels when your attack bonus isn"t that high yet -
after all, a miss hurts a lot for a two-hander because of how long your
recovery is. You"ll barely notice the decrease in speed, since it"s absolute
rather than relative, and you"ll get a nice crit bonus too, which works
particularly well with the Stunning Blows passive.
Powerful Swings - good for mowing through grunt-level enemies. Since it can
be used at the same time as Indomitable, it"s good to have it on once you get
Two-Handed Strength to reduce the penalties.
Critical Strike - another good spike DPS skill, much like Mighty Blow but
with a slightly different effect. Get it eventually, but it"s not a priority.
Disengage - to lose enemy hostility in a pinch. Definitely not a priority,
but it can come in handy.
Specializations:
Berserker: Yes, yes, and more yes. This specialization is all about improving
your damage, and that"s what you do. This is pretty much a no-brainer.
Reaver: This specialization can work out okay. Corpse eating to heal is good
in a pinch, and if you do happen to lose some hit points, you may as well get
a damage bonus for your trouble. Be careful with the AoE DoT, because that
can take hostility away from your tank and stick it onto you, which is bad
news.
Champion: Not a bad choice, as more Willpower means more stamina, War Cry can
be good for giving yourself a bit of breathing space if you get surrounded,
and buffing your group is rarely a bad thing.
Templar: Cleanse Area never hurts, but you"ll already be getting a mental
resistance boost from Berserk and you attack so slowly that the mana drain
thing will have minimal impact. I"d only take it if you want to wear templar
gear.
General stat spread:
Strength: this should be where most of your stat points go
Dexterity: 18 base
Willpower: 25-40 modified depending on your style and what gear you have
Magic: irrelevant
Cunning: 16 base
Constitution: put whatever points aren"t going into Strength or Willpower here
The idea with this stat spread is that you should be doing damage rather than
taking it. High Strength from the early game onward means access to great
gear and more damage output, as well as a high attack rating. It"s hard to go
wrong with Strength in this build. Dexterity is just high enough to get
Disengage; if you don"t want Disengage, it can be lower. You could try making
a two-hander that uses dodging for a bit of emergency defense, but I haven"t
found that to work very well so far. I like to use high Constitution instead,
since two-handers can"t benefit from the defensive bonuses that shieldtanks
get, so even with fairly high Dexterity, they still won"t be very good at
dodging. For the times that you take damage, you"ll generally be better off
relying on armour absorption and a decent hit point pool. Strength is
definitely a higher priority than Constitution though, as each point of
Strength will give you more benefit in general. Magic"s only effect is to
make poultices heal you for more, and you shouldn"t be taking damage all that
often if your tank is doing their job. Cunning to base 16 for skills. The end
goal is to create a character that can hit like a mack truck and can survive
a beating long enough for your group"s tank to get enemies under control.
Alternately, you can forgo Constitution and focus on stacking Strength for
some hideously high damage output, but it"s a riskier path and requires that
you put a lot of faith in your tank"s ability to control hostility. Make sure
that between gear and Willpower that you have a decent stamina pool, as this
build really only shines when you are unleashing chains of Sunder
Arms/Armour, Mighty Blow, Critical Strike, and Two-Handed Sweep. I like to
get my base Willpower somewhere around 20 and supplement with nice Willpower
or stamina-boosting gear, then build 2 Strength 1 Constitution per level
until I have a comfortable pool of hit points into the 300s or so. After
that, it"s pretty safe (and very effective) to just pile on the Strength.
Difficulty rating:
Early game - Average
Mid game - Easy
Late game - Easy
3.3 - The Dual Wielder [DAOS3.3]
This will actually be two different guides, as you can do this effectively as
either a rogue or a warrior. The role of the dual wielder is to crush enemies
with many lightning fast attacks as opposed to single large hits. The focus
will be more on finesse, incapacitation and the element of surprise than
brute frontal power. Dual wielders can get maximal effectiveness out of runes
that activate on a per-hit basis, like damage and paralysis runes. When built
correctly, dual wielders have the highest sustained melee damage output of
any character type.
3.3a - The Rogue Dual Wielder
I feel that this is a more well-rounded dual wield build than the warrior
variant, though both are very strong in their own ways. Rogues can take this
build to a truly frightening level due to how well their class mechanics and
specializations synergize with the dual wielding style.
Base Class: Rogue, obviously.
Critical talents:
Momentum - this should always be the talent you work toward in dual wielding
builds. It is the backbone of the entire build and one of the most powerful
sustained abilities in the game. The only time you shouldn"t prioritize this
is if you"re planning on having Haste up all the time, because the two do not
stack.
Dirty Fighting - probably the very first talent you learned, and one of the
best single target stuns in the game. Useful right off the bat, and extremely
useful once you pair it up with Coup de Grace.
Combat Movement - makes it far easier to flank enemies.
Coup de Grace - automatic backstabs on stunned/paralyzed enemies? Very yes.
Lethality - your Cunning will almost certainly end up higher than your
Strength, and +10% critical hit chance is nothing to sneeze at.
Combat Stealth - the ultimate in losing hostility and repositioning for more
backstabbing. Stealth also makes you a terrific mage neutralizer.
The Dual-Weapon Training tree - the better you are at dual wielding, the more
likely you are to land hits. Always a good thing. Get the first two in the
tree sooner rather than later.
Riposte - another stun for your arsenal; a perfect trifecta with Dirty
Fighting and Coup de Grace.
Punisher - lets you work in some excellent spike damage with your sustained
DPS output.
Good talents:
Cripple - a solid single target debuff, good for bosskilling.
Flurry - useful when an enemy can"t be backstabbed. Not as good as Punisher,
but it costs a bit less and you can get it earlier.
Dual-Weapon Sweep - a quick, cheap attack to boost your AoE damage.
Specializations:
Duelist: An excellent choice. Keen Defense will give a nice boost to your
survivability, and Pinpoint Strike will let you shred even backstab-immune
targets with ease.
Assassin: Another excellent choice. The various boosts to your damage will
all let you do your job better.
Bard: Not a bad choice if you want to support your group while also fighting,
but not nearly as complimentary as Duelist or Assassin.
Ranger: The powers of this specialization generally won"t help you all that
much. Not useless, but not a great synergy either.
General stat spread:
Strength: 20 modified (22 if you want to use Cadash Stompers)
Dexterity: as high as you can get it
Willpower: pure personal preference
Magic: irrelevant
Cunning: at least 30 modified
Constitution: irrelevant
Since patch 1.02, I feel that there"s only one good way to go with the dual
wielding rogue: a pair of good daggers and as much DEX as you can humanly
cram onto yourself. With Lethality, the only thing you need Strength for is
equipping items. You can wear any drakeskin leather armour with 20 Strength,
so that"s where you should cut it off. Willpower will depend entirely on how
much you like using activated talents - this build can work fine either
skillspamming or almost purely relying on autoattacks from Momentum. Magic
only boosts your poultice healing, which shouldn"t really be necessary, and
you shouldn"t be getting damaged enough to warrant boosting Constitution.
You"ll likely want 30 modified Cunning so that you can disarm any trap and
pick any lock in the game, as well as giving you a boost to other relevant
skills like Coercion and Stealing. Cunning will also help your armour
penetration, though that"ll already be pretty good thanks to dagger stats,
and with Lethality it"ll also give you a general damage boost. If you chose
Bard as one of your specializations, you may wish to raise Cunning higher to
boost your buff strength. With Dexterity as your stat focus and a good set of
gear, you"ll find that both your damage output and your dodge tanking ability
will both be extremely high, making all but the toughest fights a breeze to
waltz through. This build is easily one of the most potent in the game. Pop
into stealth, disarm any traps waiting for you, and walk behind the target
you want to neutralize first (mages are always a good choice). Move your
party"s tank into view, pop out of stealth, stun your target and watch the
backstabs fly.
Difficulty rating:
Early game - Average
Mid game - Average to easy
Late game - Very easy
3.3b - The Warrior Duel Wielder
This build is similar to the rogue version, but will have some noticeable
differences. Because you do not have backstabs to supplement your damage, you
will be focusing more on head on combat and making your normal strikes as
effective as possible. Also as a result of losing backstabs (and, by
extension, losing extremely high damage output from well-placed autoattacks),
you will be more focused on active skill use in this build than in the rogue
build, making Willpower proportionally more important. Having high Strength
and two full-sized weapons will go a long way toward making up the backstab
damage deficit, and being able to use heavier armour without incurring as
much fatigue helps to offset having less dodging than your rogue counterparts.
Base Class: Warrior, obviously.
Critical talents:
Momentum - while this is somewhat less awesome without backstabbage, it"s
still a cornerstone of any dual wield build. Get ASAP, unless you"re planning
on using Haste all the time.
Powerful - there"s really no warrior builds where this isn"t a useful talent.
Less fatigue and more hit points all from an early talent is bitchin".
The Dual Weapon talent tree - as a warrior dual wielder, you"ll probably want
to get the entire thing sooner rather than later.
Riposte -  your only stun, and stuns are always useful.
Cripple - a nice debuff for taking down tough single enemies, like bosses.
Punisher - a warrior dual wielder should be able to put out a huge amount of
damage with this attack; easily one of the best spike damage talents in the
game, and a must-have for this build.
Bravery - you"ll spend a fair bit of your time in the thick of it, and
Bravery will make you stronger when you are.
Death Blow - since you"ll be using a lot of active talents, gaining stamina
back for killing blows will help you keep it up.
Dual Weapon Sweep - considering its low cost, short cooldown, and how early
you can get it, this is a surprisingly good talent for a little bit of
frontal arc AoE spike damage.
Good talents:
Precise Striking - this can be a good ability to throw on if you"re aiming to
improve your autoattacks by boosting your critical hit rate. It"s also good
for counteracting a pesky Misdirection Hex, which enemy mages love casting on
you. Note that it drops autoattack speed, though.
Dual Striking - the opposite of Precise Striking, this is a good sustained to
activate early on in the game, since you can"t backstab and your critical hit
rate will be low even if you"re using daggers.
Disengage - if you end up catching more hostility than you"d like, use this
to turn their attention back to the tank where it belongs.
Flurry - basic multi-hit activated damage talent.
Whirlwind - I find this talent more useful on warrior dual wielders than their
rogue equivalent. Still, considering it"s an end tree talent, I find the cost-
to-damage ratio a bit on the chintzy side. At the very least, you can chip
away at that achievement.
Specializations:
Berserker - most likely the best choice for this build, as it gives you that
lovely damage bonus. The dual wielding style of many smaller hits is actually
a pretty good compliment to Berserk"s absolute (as opposed to relative)
damage bonus, which makes you an utter wrecking ball in the early game and
still a great performer later. Access to this specialization is one of the
reasons to play warrior rather than rogue in a dual wielder build.
Templar - an interesting choice for this build, since you will probably have
decent Willpower, and the rapidity of your strikes means you may actually
notice the mana-draining effect.
Champion - since you"ll have to have at least decent Dexterity for this build
in order to get all the dual wielding talents, the Champion"s combination of
War Cry and Rally may aid your survivability some. Just watch that you don"t
pull a bunch of hostility by using AoE effects.
Reaver - probably the least suited specialization to this build. About the
only terribly useful thing would be the corpse eating, but you shouldn"t be
getting hit a lot if your tank is doing their job.
General Stat Spread:
Strength - see below
Dexterity - at least base 36
Willpower - you"ll probably want at least 30 modified or equivalent +stamina
gear
Magic - irrelevant
Cunning - base 16
Constitution - see below
The dual wielding warrior is one of the setups that allows for a large number
of potential build possibilities, all of which have associated plusses and
minuses. It"s hard to say which is the "best" build, since the warrior setup
doesn"t really lend itself to any particular stat loadout. What"s generally
consistent between these builds is having at least 36 Dexterity to max out
the Dual Wielding talents, a fairly high Willpower to be able to use active
skills often while running a couple sustained abilities, and the standard 16
Cunning for learning skills.
Variant 1: DEX stacking
This variant is built pretty similarly to the rogue dual wielder. Get as much
Strength as you need to wear the armour you want (probably only need 20
modified or so, since most of the best bonuses for this style of fighting
come from light armour anyway), don"t bother raising Constitution much (if at
all), and crank Dexterity as high as you can. You would use dual daggers for
this build, meaning that maxing out the Dual Wielding proficiency tree is a
relatively low priority. You"ll never be able to achieve the dodge defense of
a rogue, but you"ll be a little sturdier and will suffer from a bit less
fatigue. This used to be a poor option, but with the dagger fix in patch
1.02, it has become quite viable.
Variant 2: STR stacking
This variant is built around getting to Dual-Weapon Mastery sooner rather
than later so that you can use two normal-size weapons at the same time. With
this build, you"ll cap your Dexterity at base 36, add just enough
Constitution that you feel comfortable surviving (probably not much higher
than 20 base), and pump all the rest into Strength to massively boost your
damage output. With this build, you can have some pretty devastating weapon
combinations, such as Starfang in one hand and the Keening Blade (or perhaps
a Vanguard, Bloodline, or even better, a Veshialle if you want a non-sword)
in the other. This is probably the most death-prone of the variants, since
both your hit points and dodging ability will be low, but you"ll be able to
wear excellent armour, and your tank should be taking most of the hits
anyway. For killing things frighteningly quickly, this is likely the best
variant, and my personal favourite, give or take a couple CON points.
Variant 3: STR/CON balancing
This variant is fairly similar to the two-handed build suggested earlier,
balancing damage output from Strength with some survivability gained through
Constitution. While you shouldn"t be taking hits that often, it"s inevitable
that your tank will have a few enemies slip free of their hostility control,
and even a tank that"s doing their job can"t necessarily save you from big
spell AoEs and the like. This build will never have the damage output of a
Strength stacker, but will have far more margin of error if things go poorly
or you encounter some nasty surprises. You"ll still want to put the majority
of your points into Strength, but the proportion will be largely up to your
personal tastes; a general template might be to go 2:1 STR:CON.
Difficulty rating:
Early game - Hard to average
Mid game - Average
Late game - Easy
3.4 - The Archer [DAOS3.4]
Again, this will be two different builds as you can be an archer as both a
warrior and a rogue; your choice of base class will have a significant impact
on how this fighting style performs. The archer"s role is to hang back from
the front lines and pick targets of opportunity to incapacitate and slay one
at a time (though they do get a rather nasty AoE ability, but only one, so
you"re hardly going to be an AoE powerhouse the way a mage can be). Archers
make great mage killers and group supporters, and pack a good punch against
bosses, but can get swamped if they get surrounded by lots of foes, so make
sure your tank"s doing their job. Long charge times on most of their powers
means that, like mages, archers are at their best when they have some
breathing room.
3.4a - The Rogue Archer
In general, I feel that rogues are the better base class for archers, since
their specializations offer better synergy. They might be slightly inferior
if you"re planning on using crossbows, though.
Base Class: Rogue, obviously.
Critical talents:
Melee Archer - at some point, you"re going to get hit with melee attacks
while trying to shoot. Getting disrupted constantly gets old fast.
Critical Shot - great single shot damage.
Arrow of Slaying - this is essentially instant death to the target of your
choice. It outdamages any other weapon talent in the game by a country mile.
Get ASAP. Nabbing the "Heavy Hitter" achievement is laughably easy with this
talent.
Rapid Shot - this is a great sustained ability for the early game, when you
don"t have access to bows with the Rapid Aim property.
Scattershot - Your one AoE, and it"s a beauty, too. One of the best crowd
control attacks in the game.
Master Archer - makes all your archery talents better, and lets you wear heavy
armour without any archery drawbacks. What"s not to like?
Good talents:
Dirty Fighting - good for getting some breathing space when a pesky enemy
manages to get into melee range.
Lethality - you"ll probably have more Cunning than Strength as a rogue, so
you may as well capitalize on it. Too bad the critical hit bonus only affects
melee. You can ignore this talent if you"re planning on using crossbows.
Aim - a decent sustained mode for enemies with very high defense, or for when
you"re under the effects of a Misdirection Hex.
Suppressing Fire - a sustained mode that makes every shot debuff enemy attack
scores, and it stacks, too. Can be paired up with other sustained archery
abilities, like Rapid Shot.
Pinning Shot - good for keeping an enemy at range when you get the jump on
them.
Crippling Shot - a handy debuff for boss fights.
Defensive Fire - you may wish to toss this on if your tank loses hostility
and you find yourself in hot water.
Specializations:
Bard - one of the best specializations to pair up with archery, especially if
your goal is to be a supporter for the rest of your team. The bard song buffs
affect your whole party even if they"re not near you. The stat bonuses are
useful as well.
Duelist - another great specialization for archers. While two of the four
talents are largely useless, the benefits of the Dueling sustained are very
helpful.
Ranger - this specialization pairs up better with archers than dual wielders,
as it provides another party member to distract things and keep them out of
your hair.
Assassin - probably the least useful specialization for an archer, as you
won"t be inflicting backstabs. The Dexterity bonus is quite nice, but aside
from that, it"s not a good pairing.
General stat spread:
Strength - 20 modified (or whatever your gear of choice demands for prereqs)
Dexterity - generally very high; see below
Willpower - 20 modified or more
Magic - irrelevant
Cunning - moderate to high; see below
Constitution - irrelevant
There"s generally two ways that I feel would be effective in building a rogue
archer, though your actual preference may fall somewhere a bit outside or
between these two. The common elements of both are only getting enough
modified Strength to satisfy equipment requirements - this will be higher if
you want to use heavier armour or high tier crossbows. Willpower shouldn"t be
too low, since you"ll want to have a sustained ability or two running but
still be able to make good use of all your active talents, which tend to be
quite costly. The various bonuses you get to Constitution as you go through
the game should be enough to give you a decent pool of  hit points, so I
wouldn"t recommend raising it much, if at all. The main differences between
the two variants will be how you distribute your stat points between
Dexterity and Cunning.
Variant 1: DEX stacking
This build raises Cunning enough to make your rogue skills perform at a high
enough level to get you through the game (30 modified), and puts the rest of
your remaining points into Dexterity. The benefits of this are that you will
get both good damage and good accuracy out of any ranged weapon you choose.
It"s particularly valuable to crossbow rogues, as Cunning will have no effect
on their damage. DEX stacking also has the added value of giving you great
dodging ability, meaning that you can tank quite well in a pinch.
Variant 2: DEX/CUN balancing
This build is oriented toward longbow and shortbow rogues, particularly those
who wish to get the most out of the Bard specialization. In this build, you
will still have a lot of Dexterity, but you will also want to invest a fair
bit in your Cunning stat, getting it to modified values of 50 or more. While
this will cost you in terms of accuracy and your dodging ability, you won"t
lose any damage, and will in fact do better damage against heavily armoured
targets due to the bonus to armour penetration from high Cunning scores. You
will also be an outstanding skill user even if you don"t get the maximum rank
for those skills, which can allow you to get a greater breadth of skills or
save a talent on lockpicking. Because of your lowered dodging ability, you may
wish to invest a bit more in Constitution than a DEX stacker would, or
possibly wear medium or heavy armour rather than light armour. This build
will generally have lower solo performance than the Dexterity-stacked
variant, but will make a better group supporter.
Difficulty rating:
Early game - Very hard
Mid game - Hard to average
Late game - Average to easy
3.4b - The Warrior Archer
A relatively uncommon build for the Warden, but a viable one nonetheless. The
downside is that the warrior specializations tend to do very little to
compliment ranged fighting styles. However, warriors do gain the benefit of
having more hit points, stamina, and base attack bonus than rogues, and most
importantly, gain a bonus to fatigue due to their talents, which can be a
surprisingly large asset when using the archer"s costly attacks.
Base Class: Warrior, obviously.
Critical talents:
Powerful - again, this is pretty much a no-brainer for any warrior, and the
fatigue bonus is particularly useful to archers.
Melee Archer - getting disrupted by melee attacks is never a good thing. Get
ASAP.
Death Blow - I"m not actually positive whether or not this works for ranged
attacks. If it does, it"ll be quite helpful. If not, disregard it.
Critical Shot - a great damage talent.
Arrow of Slaying - your one hit wonder power; instant death to the majority
of enemies you"ll come across. Get ASAP. Totally worth the long cooldown,
high cost, and stamina regen penalty.
Scattershot - crowd control at its finest.
Master Archer - makes what"s good even better. Should be a relatively high
priority.
Rapid Shot - a good sustained mode, particularly for the early levels when
you won"t have much of a critical hit rate anyway.
Good talents:
Precise Striking - a passive mode that does pretty much the same thing as
Aim, but unlike Aim, it can be active at the same time as Rapid Shot. Can be
good to throw on against enemies with high evasion.
Disengage - for getting out of tight spots when your tank loses hostility.
Perfect Striking - archery tends not to be as accurate as melee; this talent
can help to offset this against tough enemies.
Aim - generally lower damage output than Rapid Shot, but can be preferable
against high evasion targets or if a Misdirection Hex is thrown on you. Note
that it does not actually boost your critical hit rate, as crit boosts for
ranged seem to be largely nonexistent except on a couple pieces of gear.
However, Rapid Shot drops your critical hit rate to 0, so Aim can be
preferable nonetheless.
Pinning Shot - good for keeping a tougher enemy at bay.
Crippling Shot - a nice boss debuffer.
Shattering Shot - a decent single target debuff/crowd control combo of armour
penalty and possible knockdown.
Suppressing Fire - a good sustained to pair up with Rapid Shot, as it
inflicts a stacking debuff to attack bonus with every hit.
Specializations:
Champion - while not as well suited to archers as the Bard specialization,
Champion is still definitely one of the better choices as you"ll be able to
buff nearby allies and give yourself some room to breathe if you get
surrounded by using a Superiority-boosted War Cry.
Templar - Most of the talents are melee-based and thus kind of useless, but the
mental resistan

Dragon Age - Origins Class and Character Building Guide [Walkthrough]
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