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Dragon Age

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Dragon Age - Origins Class and Character Building Guide %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% Dragon Age: Origins PC Class and Character Building Guide By: KerathArcwind %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% 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 should all at credit follow GameFAQs' rules and guidelines regarding how this FAQ can and be used. They're kind enough to provide such a lovely resource for us no cost, after all. If you borrow from it, it'd be nice if you give where credit's due :)

Comments and corrections can be sent to bturnereebATgmailDOTcom. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% Table of Contents and Navigation %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% Section I: 1.1 1.2 1.3 General Starting Class Overview [DAOS1.0] The Warrior [DAOS1.1] The Rogue [DAOS1.2] 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] %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% SECTION I: GENERAL STARTING CLASS OVERVIEW [DAOS1.0] %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% 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. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% SECTION II: CLASS SPECIALIZATIONS [DAOS2.0] %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% Class specializations characters other than actually gets to pick requirements for each become available at levels 7 and 14. All humanoid Sten can learn 2 specializations, though only the PC both, as the others generally start with one. Level 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 Magespecific 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. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% SECTION III: BUILDING THE WARDEN [DAOS3.0] %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% 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 DEXstacked 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 costto-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 resistance boost can be handy. Berserker - mostly useless, as the best bonuses occur only when you're using melee attacks. However, if you really want a health regeneration boost or some bonus Strength and hit points, take this specialization. Reaver - probably the worst choice, as the bonuses are pretty weak and the talents are almost completely useless to a ranged fighter. General stat spread: Strength - between 20 and 38 modified, depending on desired gear prereqs Dexterity - where most of your stat points should end up Willpower - 20 modified or more Magic - irrelevant Cunning - 16 base Constitution - irrelevant The idea with this spread is to have enough Willpower to allow you to use active attacks regularly, enough Strength to wear all the gear you want, enough Cunning to max out whatever skills you desire, and the rest put into Dexterity. Between the base hit point growth of warriors, the bonus from Powerful, and any Constitution bonuses you gain throughout the game, you'll have more than enough hit points to function well as an archer, and you shouldn't have to be relying heavily on poultice healing. The biggest variable here will be the kind of gear you want to use. Shortbows, longbows, and light armour will have minimal Strength demands, while heavy dragonbone armour and crossbows will have high demands. There's not really much point in Strength stacking even if you use longbows, since you gain just as much damage from Dexterity plus increases in accuracy and dodging. Wearing massive armour is a bad idea because it penalizes your archery. Difficulty rating: Early game - Very hard Mid game - Hard Late game - Hard to average

3.5 - A Preface on Mage Builds [DAOS3.5] This will be a more complicated section, as mages function quite differently from rogues and warriors in general. As the latter classes, it generally pays to pick one combat style and stick with it, whether it be dual wielding, twohanded weaponry, weapon-and-shield, or archery. Dabbling in other weapon trees usually yields very little benefit to your character, if any. However, with mages, they are equally viable when drawing heavily from a single school of magic, or dabbling a little in all of them. This means that a mage can pack more variety and versatility into a single character build than warriors or rogues can. I will be laying out fairly specialized roles for mage characters to fill, but in all likelihood any mage Warden you make will be a blend of these roles for the sake of versatility. In addition, the Arcane Warrior specialization is so distinctly different from any other build in the game that it will get its own little section at the end. Some spells are useful to a wide variety of mage roles and builds. I'll list them below. Staff Focus - adds a boost to your autoattack damage with staves. Nothing to prioritize, but it adds up over time. Arcane Mastery - a bonus 5 spellpower. Definitely not a priority, and unfortunately at the end of a feat tree, but if you have spare feats, it can't hurt. Heal - right at the start of a tree so you can get it without any prereqs. It's almost never a bad idea to have some kind of heal. Heroic Aura - one of the few banes of your existence as a mage is archers, and this helps counter the threat they pose. Glyph of Repulsion - a fantastic ability for warding off pesky melee types that cramp your style. You can giggle to yourself as they futilely bounce around trying to get to you. Death Syphon - arguably the most broadly useful mage sustained ability, Death Syphon lets you suck the energy out of corpses to replenish your mana. Mind Blast - A fast casting AoE stun with no prereqs. Can be a real lifesaver, particularly early in the game. Rock Armour - a sustained you can toss on to give yourself an instant and sizeable armour boost. Never hurts to have this around as an option. 3.6 - The Nuker [DAOS3.6] This role specializes in a scorched-earth approach to combat, filling the role typically associated with invoker-type mages in other games. The focus will be on both leveling whole armies of normal enemies with devastation area of effect spells, and being able to fry single tough enemies like bosses with equal ease. You will be a bit of a 'glass cannon', but it won't matter because things will usually die before they can do much damage to you anyway. The sheer carnage this role can wreak on the battlefield is unmatchable by any other. Base class: Mage Recommended Spells: Tempest - a nice electrical AoE that damages and drains the mana/stamina of anyone in its radius for a while. Half of the Storm of the Century combo (more on combos at the end of the mage builds). Blizzard - a nice ice element AoE that does damage and can freeze anyone in

its radius. The other half of the Storm of the Century combo. Fireball - a quick casting, potent fire AoE that knocks back and inflicts a DoT on everything it hits. Earthquake - a large earth AoE that damages and can knock down anything in its radius for its duration. Spell Might - for when you want to rapidly overwhelm enemies with fewer spells. A great fit for the Nuker role. Virulent Walking Bomb - stick a DoT on an enemy in the middle of a group, and when they die, they explode, inflicting huge damage on everything around them. Crushing Prison - one of the best single target abilities in the game, this paralyzes and inflicts a powerful DoT that will be a death sentence to all but the strongest of enemies. Chain Lightning - a forking lightning spell that's good for inflicting a lot of damage quickly to a large group of enemies, as well as rapidly draining their mana and stamina reserves. Stinging Swarm - a potent Nature spell that damages one enemy at a time until they die, hopping from foe to foe for its duration. Mana Clash - the magenuke; turns an enemy spellcaster's mana against them, using it to fuel the damage caused by this spell. This is guaranteed death for the overwhelming majority of mage enemies in the game. Almost feels like cheating, since the enemy never turns the tables by using it on your mages. Death Cloud - a large AoE that inflicts Spirit damage with each pulse for its duration. Specializations: Blood Mage - the perfect fit for this build. The Blood Mage's abilities are a great compliment to the Nuker's play style. Spirit Healer - a good choice, with nice stat bonuses and the ability to give your group a boost when the need arises. Shapeshifter - not a good choice, as you sacrifice all of your AoE devastation by changing forms. Arcane Warrior - though the protective bonuses from Shimmering Shield can be nice in a pinch, you generally won't want to suffer the fatigue and mana drain that comes along with these abilities. General stat spread: Strength - as low as possible Dexterity - as low as possible Willpower - low to moderate, depending on how much you use Blood Magic Magic - where the majority of your points should be going; very high Cunning - 16 base Constitution - low to moderate, depending on how large a 'pool' you like to have while using Blood Magic Strength is useless to almost every mage build. Dexterity won't help this build much either, since you aren't meant to survive in melee combat - you should be avoiding it either by hanging back while your tank does their job, and/or by slaughtering everything before it can get near you. Willpower will depend on how much casting you want to be able to do outside of Blood Magic, so this is a matter of personal preference. Higher Willpower is necessary to keep up lots of casting if you are not a Blood Mage or only use Blood Magic occasionally. Cunning should be base 16 for skill use, as it serves little other purpose for this build. Constitution is generally not a priority as you shouldn't be taking much damage, but it increases your mana pool and gives

you more of a cushion for mishaps while using Blood Magic or facing off against lots of archers. The main stat focus of this build is Magic, which should be stacked very high for maximum effectiveness. This has the added benefit of making both health poultices (outside of Blood Magic) and lyrium potions extremely effective. A nuker with a high Magic stat should have no trouble laying waste to whole platoons of enemies. Difficulty rating: Early game - Very easy Mid game - Very easy Late game - Easy 3.7: The Support Healer [DAOS3.7] In direct contrast to the Nuker, this role focuses on making your allies stronger and keeping them in the fight for as long as possible. For the most part, you won't have much spare time or mana to be casting offensive spells, instead devoting them to healing and buffing effects designed to maximize the performance of your entire group. This is probably the easiest mage role to stick on AI autopilot, as healing can be achieved relatively effectively with a good tactics slot setup. Base Class: Mage Recommended Spells: Weapon enchantment spells, e.g. Flame Weapon - getting one of these buffs can be quite helpful to your group, as it will add additional damage to melee attacks at a relatively low cost to you. Heal - a useful spell for any mage, as mentioned above, but absolutely critical to this build. Get this as one of your first spell selections. Rejuvenate - good for keeping a heavy skill using party member going for longer. Use wisely, as it has a long cooldown. Regeneration - paired up with Heal, this spell can keep your tank alive through all but the toughest encounters. Mass Rejuvenation - a useful spell in long battles, when your whole party is depleted of stamina or mana. Heroic Offense - use this when up against enemies with high evasion, or to give a boost to a character suffering from low attack bonuses, like an Arcane Warrior. Heroic Defense - use this on an ally with weaker defense in tough fights. Haste - boost up the attack speed of archers and melee allies (though don't bother with Momentum-boosted dual wielders). Be cautious, as it penalizes your mana regeneration while it's in effect. Glyph of Warding - a stationary AoE that buffs the defense, mental resistance and missile avoidance of allies within its effect. Anti-Magic Ward - protect an ally from harmful enemy spells. Force Field - can be good as a last minute keep-alive measure for a critically injured party member. Arcane Shield - definitely not a priority, but if you decide to invest a bit in Dexterity and/or are using a lot of mage equipment that boosts your defense and dodging ability, you may wish to stick this on as an additional survival measure. Specializations:

Spirit Healer - the ideal specialization for this role, as it adds group healing capabilities, helpful bonuses, the ability to remove injuries without kits, and battlefield resurrection to your bag of tricks. Blood Mage - grants nice bonuses, but using any of the Blood Mage's abilities as a support healer requires care and caution. Generally not necessary to fulfill your role effectively. Arcane Warrior - you generally won't want to use the full abilities of this specialization, as the fatigue penalties incurred will prevent you from healing effectively. However, staying alive is key to keeping the rest of your party alive, and being able to throw on Shimmering Shield in a tough situation can be nice. Shapeshifter - none of the forms give any benefit to this role, making it a very poor choice. The only reason to take it is for the armour bonus. General stat spread: Strength - as low as possible Dexterity - generally low Willpower - high Magic - high Cunning - 16 base Constitution - low (15-20 modified is plenty) Again, Strength is useless, but you may want a little bit of Dexterity for more physical resistance and some basic dodging ability, as many pieces of mage gear come with defense bonuses, and staying alive is a top priority for the support healer role. If you're dead, the rest of your group is likely to follow. Willpower and Magic should both be very high, kept either equal or with Magic a bit higher than Willpower. Willpower gives you a nice big pool of mana for continuous casting, and Magic makes what you're casting more effective, such as how many hit points are restored with each cast of Heal. Cunning is just high enough for skills, and Constitution is just high enough to give you a comfortable pool of hit points to keep you in the fight against archers or other mages. Difficulty rating: Early game - Average to easy Mid game - Easy Late game - Average to easy 3.8 - The Debilitator [DAOS3.8] Like the support healer, the debilitator role is a support role that is at its best when it is part of a strong team. However, unlike the support healer, the debilitator accomplishes this by weakening and incapacitating the enemy rather than bolstering their allies. This build revolves around using the mage's broad arsenal of debuffs and crowd control spells to maximum effect. Debilitators don't have the raw killing power of a nuker, but they can layer enough negative status effects on their foes to make any darkspawn want to crawl back to one of its broodmother's myriad bloated teats. This build will never suffer from having a shortage of spells to choose from. Base Class: Mage Recommended Spells:

Cone of Cold - this spell will even freeze bosses, leaving them helpless for the duration. Blizzard - unlike with the nuker, your interest in this spell is its ability to freeze rather than its damage. Stonefist - knocks down your target, and can shatter them if they're frozen. Earthquake - AoE knockdown every pulse. Good crowd control. Glyph of Paralysis - lays a stationary AoE that acts like a trap - when an enemy enters its radius, they get paralyzed unless they resist. Also half of the tremendously powerful Paralysis Explosion combo (covered later). Glyph of Repulsion - useful for all mages but particularly for the debilitator. In addition to keeping you safe and often knocking your enemies down, it's the other half of the Paralysis Explosion combo. Glyph of Neutralization - an anti-magic glyph that's good for neutralizing enemy casters, as it dispels, drains mana, and prevents spellcasting within its AoE. Grease - a stationary trap-like AoE that slows movement and can knock down anyone entering it. Can also be lit on fire. Mana Cleanse - wipes out the mana of enemies in the AoE. Force Field - use this to keep powerful enemies, like bosses, out of the fight until you can kill off some of their underlings. Crushing Prison - paralysis and a potent DoT, difficult to resist. One of the best single target spells in the game. Weakness - debuffs attack, defense, and movement speed. Paralyze - single target paralysis. Good for the early levels. Miasma - a caster-centred AoE version of Weakness, in the form of a sustained ability. Mass Paralysis - AoE paralysis. A great spell for this build. Vulnerability Hex - makes the target susceptible to elemental damage. Great if you also have a nuker in your party. Affliction Hex - basically an AoE verison of Vulnerability Hex. Misdirection Hex - turns a single weapon user into a joke; all normal attacks miss, and critical hits only do normal damage. Has a long duration as well. Death Hex - turns all normal attacks against the target into critical hits. Great for dropping a single enemy really fast, particularly if you have dual wielders in your group. Disorient - Similar to Weakness, it debuffs attack and defense. Horror - causes a target to cower in fear if they fail a resistance check, effectively paralyzing them. Can't be resisted if the target is sleeping. Sleep - an AoE spell that puts targets to sleep. They wake up if hit. Waking Nightmare - an AoE spell that causes enemies in its effect to randomly be stunned, attack each other, or become allies of your party for its duration. Can't be resisted if the targets are asleep. Curse of Mortality - a spirit DoT that causes the target to be unable to heal in any way. Specializations: Blood Mage - a great choice, as it gives you the Blood Wound spell, which is easily one of the best AoE crowd control spells in the game. Spirit Healer - a good second choice, as it gives helpful bonuses and lets you keep your team in good condition in a pinch. Arcane Warrior - you don't really want to incur heavy fatigue penalties, so this specialization would really only be good for throwing Shimmering Shield on in a sticky situation. Shapeshifter - while the spider form can use Web, that's hardly worth sacrificing the dozens of incapacitating spells you can cast while unshifted. Could be useful for times when you run out of mana, but between Death Syphon

and lyrium potions (or just use Blood Magic), that really shouldn't happen much. General stat spread: Strength - as low as possible Dexterity - as low as possible Willpower - low to moderate, depending on how much you use Blood Magic Magic - where the majority of your points should be going; very high Cunning - 16 base Constitution - low to moderate, depending on how large a 'pool' you like to have while using Blood Magic This is basically the same idea as the nuker build. Strength is useless; Dexterity won't help this build much either. Willpower will depend on how much casting you want to be able to do outside of Blood Magic, so this is a matter of personal preference. Higher Willpower is necessary to keep up lots of casting if you are not a Blood Mage or only use Blood Magic occasionally. Cunning should be base 16 for skill use, as it serves little other purpose for this build. Constitution is generally not a priority as you shouldn't be taking much damage, but it increases your mana pool and gives you more of a cushion for mishaps while using Blood Magic or facing off against lots of archers. The main stat focus of this build is Magic, which should be stacked very high for maximum effectiveness. This has the added benefit of making both health poultices (outside of Blood Magic) and lyrium potions extremely effective. Played smartly, you'll be able to continuously inflict harmful effects on the enemies throughout even lengthy battles, which will rarely be resisted because of your hefty Magic stat. Difficulty rating: Early game - Easy Mid game - Easy Late game - Average to easy 3.9 - The Spellsword [DAOS3.9] This role is built around the Arcane Warrior specialization and its unique characteristics. There's a number of ways to go about Arcane Warriors, so I'll just try and give a general template with elements that are common in AW loadouts I've used and come across. In general, because the Arcane Warrior gains no weapon-specific feats the way rogues and warriors do and suffers from very high fatigue penalties, you will do most of your damage through normal weapon swings, bolstered by sustained self-buffs. It's not a thrilling play style, but it's extraordinarily effective if designed well. You're welcome to mix in a few spellcasts with your melee, but just bear in mind that fatigue will make it costly and limited, and many spells cannot be cast with a melee weapon drawn, so you'll have to sheathe it before casting. This can add a lot onto the cast time unless you're willing to pause the game and swap your weapon out before each cast, which can get tedious pretty fast. You may wish to find offensive spells that can be cast with a drawn weapon to streamline things, though there aren't all that many. Base Class: Mage Recommended Spells:

Rock Armour - as mentioned before, this is a pretty good spell for many mage builds, but it's instrumental in this build as it will greatly bolster your survival in melee. Arcane Shield - dodging probably won't be real high on your priority list, but this sustained spell probably works better on this build than any other. Flaming/Frost/Telekinetic Weapons - getting a weapon enchanting spell is definitely a great investment for this build. Regeneration - a great spell to toss onto yourself early in a tough fight. Makes you even harder to kill, which is saying something, and at relatively little mana cost. The 'Heroic' buff spell tree - all the spells in this tree are useful, as they improve the melee or defensive capabilities of yourself or allies. Spell Shield - despite your impressive defenses, enemy spellcasters can still rain on your parade. This can give you some protection while your mana lasts. Miasma - makes you into a walking AoE debuff totem, which will make you stand out even more in melee combat. Death Magic - can feed you some quick free heals when there's corpses around. Specializations: Arcane Warrior - an obvious choice, since this build depends on it. Spirit Healer - the best compliment to the Arcane Warrior, giving some very useful stat bonuses and boosting your survival even further. Blood Mage - an interesting choice to pair with a melee-built Arcane Warrior. Blood Magic is quite risky when you're on the front lines, but spells like Blood Wound can be very potent if used right in this build. Shapeshifter - a poor choice, as changing shape invalidates all the benefits gained from being an Arcane Warrior. General stat spread: Strength - as low as possible Dexterity - low to moderate (30 modified or less should suffice for most builds) Willpower - moderate to high (roughly 25-40 modified ought to do) Magic - high; where most points will probably end up Cunning - 16 base Constitution - moderate (20-30 modified should be plenty unless you plan on using Blood Magic a lot) Arcane Warrior stats will vary depending on exactly what you want to get out of the build. As with all mages, Strength is useless. The reason why you may want some Dexterity is that while Combat Magic makes Magic substitute in for Strength in melee, it is not a perfect substitution, and you will never get the same bonus to attack rolls from high Magic that a warrior would get from high Strength. As a result, even with very high Magic, your accuracy still won't be that great without buffs. Adding a bit of Dexterity can help to offset this as well as giving you a little dodging ability, which can work well with Arcane Shield. Willpower should be high enough to run all the sustained abilities you want (at the very least, all of the Arcane Warrior sustained spells) for as long as you want. Depending on your style, you may want some extra mana on top to be able to cast a few offensive spells, such as an AoE to get enemy hostility, being that you will lack Threaten and Taunt. Cunning at base 16 for skills, and Constitution until you feel you have a comfortable enough pool of hit points to survive in melee. Your extremely high defensive stats will make Constitution a bit less critical than for other melee characters, but it's still good to have a little as a

failsafe. The rest of your stat points should go into Magic to boost your combat damage, increase the effect of your spells, and make you recover huge amounts from even basic poultices and lyrium potions. Difficulty rating: Early game - Average to easy Mid game - Easy Late game - Very easy 3.10 - A Quick Guide to Spell Combos [DAOS3.10] Grease Fire Component spells: Grease + any fire spell (if you use Flame Blast, you have to hit the centre of the grease) Effect: A great big puddle of flaming grease. Shortly after ignition, the grease's effect of tripping people up is gone, but it'll continue to burn and inflict a fire DoT on anyone who steps on it for a while. Flame Quencher Component spells: make a Grease Fire, then cast Blizzard on it Effect: Gets rid of the grease fire. Storm of the Century Component spells: Activate Spell Might, then layer a Blizzard and Tempest on top of each other Effect: Big angry rampaging electrical AoE that'll annihilate just about anything that has the misfortune of getting caught in it. If used strategically, this spell combo is pretty much game-breaking. Shattering Component spells: use Winter's Grasp, Cone of Cold, or Petrify to harden a target. Then, use Earthen Fist, Crushing Prison, or a melee critical hit on them. Effect: The target shatters - instant death. Elite-ranked enemies seem to have a chance to avoid it, and boss-types won't be affected, but it works quite reliably on any unranked enemies. Paralysis Explosion Component spells: overlap a Glyph of Repulsion and a Glyph of Paralysis Effect: A very large radius and long lasting AoE paralysis effect that's nigh impossible to resist - even bosses get hit with it quite easily. It causes friendly fire so your party mates will probably get hit with it, but a mage running amok with their pick of helpless targets is already a nasty thing. Nightmare Component spells: cast Sleep on the desired target, then cast Horror Effect: Wakes the target up, but lays heavy duty spirit damage on them as well as the Horror effect. Improved Drain Component spells: start with a Vulnerability Hex on the target, then use Life Drain or Mana Drain Effect: Doubled effectiveness of your chosen drain spell. Entropic Death Component spells: cast a Death Hex on the desired target, then lay a Death

Cloud over them Effect: Enormous spirit damage to the target. Basically kills any non-boss (and a few bosses) outright. Shockwave Component spells: cast Force Field and Crushing Prison on the same target Effect: A huge shockwave that damages and knocks back everyone in its radius. Nearly impossible to resist. The recipient is unhurt by the shockwave. Advanced Reanimation Component spells: cast Animate Dead while Spell Might is active Effect: Basically just an improved version of Animate Dead, making a more powerful undead ally that has some special abilities. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% Section IV: Noteworthy Gear [DAOS4.0] %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% In this section, I'll cover some gear that stands out as exceptional in some way, which you should keep an eye out for to enhance your Warden (or a favourite ally). These pieces are often tricky or expensive to acquire, and thus represent more endgame-oriented loadouts. For early to mid game, you can probably figure it out decently yourself, as there's not an awful lot of variation in gear stats at that point for the most part anyway. I'll try and minimize spoilers here. Note that I will not be including gear gained through special promotional things, like preordering from particular retail outfits or getting specialty editions. I am limiting my gear to those found in the base installation, The Stone Prisoner, Warden's Keep, and the Blood Dragon Armour pieces, as those are what I'm personally familiar with and what most people are likely to have access to. I will also leave out gear that exists in the base installation but which I personally do not know how to find, as I don't like relying solely on third party information for this (not to mention, you could look it up as easily as I could). Finally, I will cover unique gear types, such as Dog's and Shale's, under the appropriate companion building sections later. 4.1 - Amulets, Belts, and Rings [DAOS4.1] AMULETS The Spellward +5 Willpower +8 Regeneration out of combat +30% Spell resistance +10% Chance to dodge attacks Chance to avoid missile attacks Where to get it: from Bodahn Feddic in your camp, for around 87 sovereigns This is THE amulet in the game, as far as I'm concerned. Once you can afford it, stick it on your Warden and never look back. It works well on just about every possible build. Lifedrinker +4 Spellpower Blood Mage Only

Where to get it: during the Urn of Sacred Ashes quest For the hardcore Blood Mage nuker. The best boost in raw magic you can get from an amulet. Magister's Shield +6 Defense +4% Spell resistance -10% Nature resistance Chance to avoid missile attacks Where to get it: a sidequest in Denerim If you can't afford The Spellward, this is a decent holdover. Its stats also make it a great choice for giving to a melee rogue or tank companion. BELTS Andruil's Blessing +2 to all attributes +20% Nature resistance +1 Mana regeneration in combat +1 Stamina regeneration in combat +10 Physical resistance Where to get it: from the templar quartermaster in the Circle tower, for around 106 sovereigns I consider this to be the best all-around belt in the game, giving some really great bonuses that justify its steep price tag. Works well with just about any build. Archivist's Sash +50% Experience from codex entry finds Where to get it: from The Wonders of Thedas in Denerim for less than a sovereign Not something you want to wear all the time, but it gives a nice little exp boost if you slip it on just before getting codex unlocks. Destructionist's Belt +0.5 Mana regeneration in combat +3 Spellpower Where to get it: bought from Ruck in the Deep Roads A solid choice for a spellcaster ally, regardless of their role. RINGS Lifegiver +10 Constitution +3 Health regeneration in combat +2.5 Health regeneration out of combat +3 Armour +20% to healing received Where to get it: from Garin in Orzammar for around 87 sovereigns Easily one of the best rings in the game, particularly if you find yourself feeling a little too fragile but don't want to spend a ton of points boosting

your Constitution. A hefty price tag, but well worth it, especially to melee characters. Key to the City +2 to all attributes +4% Spell resistance +10% to healing received Where to get it: an Orzammar sidequest A great little ring that's surprisingly easy (and free) to get. One of my favourite endgame choices. Ring of the Warrior +2 Strength +2 Dexterity Where to get it: a Deep Roads sidequest Great stat bonuses for melee or archer characters, and it's free! Seal of Rat Red +10 Physical resistance +10 Mental resistance Where to get it: related to a Mages' Collective sidequest A ring that gives a nice boost for resisting nasty status effects, particularly in the early game when everyone's stats are low. Harvest Festival Ring +2 Strength +2 Dexterity +4 Attack Warrior or Rogue only Where to get it: Shale's quests Like a Ring of the Warrior but better! However, mages (most notably Arcane Warriors) can't use it. Dawn Ring +4 Strength -1 Cunning Where to get it: during the final battles A nice ring for any melee warrior, as the tradeoff is well worth it. Too bad you only get it very late in the game. Half of the Imperium Rings set, which gives +2 Armour. Dusk Ring +3 Cunning -1 Strength Where to get it: exploration during the Nature of the Beast quest A great ring for rogues. The other half of the Imperium Rings set, which gives +2 Armour. Worn together, the two rings offset each others' penalties to become purely positive stat bonuses. 4.2 - Mage Armour [DAOS4.2]

HATS Just want to start by saying that every last one of these makes you look like a complete and utter tool. You've been warned. First Enchanter's Cowl +4% Spell resistance +10% Chance to dodge attacks Where to get it: from Bodahn Feddic after the Landsmeet One of the better cowls out there for boosting your mage's survivability. Not too pricey either, but only available late in the game. The Libertarian's Cowl +12 Defense +0.25 Mana regeneration in combat Where to get it: found during the Broken Circle quests As good a cowl as you're likely to find throughout most of the game. Mana regeneration is almost always welcome, and the defense bonus is quite large. ROBES Reaper's Vestments +6 Constitution +20% Fire resistance +16% Spell resistance +10% Chance to dodge attacks +12 Armour Where to get it: From The Wonders of Thedas in Denerim for 90ish sovereigns My favourite as far as robes go, these offer a truly massive boost to the sturdiness of your average squishy mage. They give more armour than a lot of top tier leathers, and have other great bonuses - I'm always a sucker for spell resistance. First Enchanter's Robes +3 Willpower +3 Magic +9 Defense Where to get it: from Cesar's special stock for around 5 sovereigns Basically an improved version of Wynne's Senior Enchanter robes. A solid low cost choice. Robes of Avernus +3 Willpower +3 Armour Improves Blood Magic Where to get it: Warden's Keep quests A bit of a mediocre option unless you're a Blood Mage, in which case its bonus to your spell costs under Blood Magic make it a natural choice. Robes of Possession +5 Magic +12 Defense

+8% Spell resistance -1 Willpower +20% Cold damage Morrigan only Where to get it: Morrigan's personal quest This is probably the robe you'll have Morrigan end out the game with, unless you want to get her Reaper's Vestments. Tevinter Mage Robes +1 Mana regeneration in combat +5 Spellpower +4% Spell resistance Where to get it: From The Wonders of Thedas in Denerim for around 6 sovereigns, or from the Dalish origin if you're sneaky A really great all-around robe for any kind of mage, especially due to how early in the game Dalish characters can get it. Great bang for your buck. GLOVES Mage gloves are pretty straightforward - they're basically leather gloves that give bonuses to particular types of elemental damage. Just equip the best pair you can find that boosts your most-used element. Only one set really stands out at all. Elementalist's Grasp Armour 1.33 (Tier 6 light) Fatigue 1.13% +5% damage from all element types Mage only Where to get it: a Denerim sidequest The only gloves that boost all elemental damage rather than a single type, making them a good option for the multi-element nuker. SHOES Fade Striders Armour 0.75 (Tier 1 light) Fatigue 0.50% +1 Magic Mage only Where to get it: the Mage origin story Despite the otherwise crappy stats, these shoes can be worth using for those that wish to maximize their spellcasting performance, as they are the only footwear that provide a boost to your Magic stat. Magus War Boots Armour 2.25 (Tier 7 light) Fatigue 0.57% +12 Defense Mage only Where to get it: A Chantry board sidequest Solid armour and a huge dodging boost make this a good choice for any mage.

Imperial Weavers Armour 0.75 (Tier 1 light) Fatigue 0.50% +10% Chance to dodge attacks Mage only Where to get it: from Bodahn Feddic in your camp With a little investment, these boots can be acquired early on, and provide a nice little defensive boost. 4.3 - Light Armour [DAOS4.3] NOTEWORTHY SETS General sets: Duster Leather Armour Total set bonus: +2 Armour Where to get it: Orzammar For dwarf commoners and those who head to Orzammar earlier rather than later, this humble set can provide valuable added damage absorption. Dalish Armour Total set bonus: +2 Dexterity, +8 Defense Where to get it: Dalish camps, Nature of the Beast quest line For Dalish elves and those who head to the Brecilian forest, this basic armour set can give fantastic bonuses to rogues that can easily outweigh armour value. Unique sets: Wade's Superior Drakeskin - Tier 7 (Drakeskin) SET PIECE ARMOUR FATIGUE BONUSES Wade's Superior Drakeskin Leather Armour 9.00 2.30% +2 Dexterity +50% Fire Resistance Wade's Superior Drakeskin Gloves 1.50 1.15% +1 Dexterity +10% Fire Resistance Wade's Superior Drakeskin Boots 2.25 0.57% +1 Dexterity +10% Fire Resistance Set Bonus: +5 Defense, -10% Fatigue Prerequisite: 20 Strength Where to get it: From Wade's Emporium with the right components A decent set for Dexterity and dodge-based characters, and for any dragonkilling exploits you may undertake. HELMETS Armsman's Tensioner Armour 2.00 (Tier 6) Rapid Aim +6 Attack 18 Strength required Where to get it: from Varathorn after a few major quest arcs

A great helmet for any archer that wants to use a bow without the Rapid Aim property on it. Unfortunately, it doesn't become available until rather late in the game. Longrunner's Cap Armour 1.75 (Tier 5) +0.5 Stamina regeneration in combat 17 Strength required Where to get it: the Paragon of Her Kind quest line You can actually get two of these as acquisitions over the course of the quest line. Great mid to late game light helmets, as stamina is always handy. The Long Sight Armour 2.25 (Tier 7) +5% Ranged critical chance 20 Strength required Where to get it: an optional fight in the Urn of Sacred Ashes quest Probably the best all-around light archer helmet, as it gives good protection and a great bonus. Ranged critical boosts are hard to find. Can also be obtained for free relatively early on if you fight smart. MAIN ARMOUR Shadow of the Empire Armour 9.00 (Tier 7) Fatigue 2.30% +2 Strength +2 Dexterity +1 Stamina regeneration in combat 20 Strength required Where to get it: from Legnar for around 20 sovereigns A really nice light armour, which can be acquired quite early with its reasonable price tag. An excellent mid game armour piece, or an endgame piece for one of your allies. The Felon's Coat Armour 9.00 (Tier 7) Fatigue 2.30% +6 Dexterity +9 Defense +4 Armour +1 Stamina regeneration in combat +15 Physical resistance 20 Strength required Where to get it: From Wade's Emporium in Denerim after a few major quest arcs, for around 90ish sovereigns Though it comes with a hefty price tag and can't be obtained until mid game at the earliest, The Felon's Coat is pretty much the light armour piece in the game. It comes with bonuses in nearly everything a budding rogue could possibly want from their armour. There's few games where I don't buy this either for the Warden or for a rogue ally.

GLOVES Gloves of Guile Armour 1.50 (Tier 7) Fatigue 1.15% +2.5 Armour penetration 20 Strength required Where to get it: from a random Denerim encounter during the Landsmeet arc These gloves offer the largest armour penetration bonus of any piece of armour in the game. A bit of a niche piece, but if you're dual wielding longswords or want to make your arrows even more deadly against heavily armoured targets, it may be up your alley. Only acquired quite late in the game, unfortunately. Pushback Strikers Armour 1.50 (Tier 7) Fatigue 1.15% +5% Melee critical chance 20 Strength required Where to get it: as part of the Paragon of Her Kind quest line One of the best, if not the best, pairs of gloves for dual wielders, as 5% is a sizeable boost. Can also be gotten quite early on, and for free! Red Jenny Seekers Armour 1.50 (Tier 7) Fatigue 1.15% +15% Critical/backstab damage 20 Strength required Where to get it: end reward for a Denerim side quest A solid alternative to the Pushback Strikers, these make your crits bigger rather than more frequent. I'm not sure if this works for ranged crits or not. For the frequent backstabber, these are an excellent choice. BOOTS Antivan Leather Boots Armour 2.00 (Tier 6) Fatigue 0.56% +4% Spell resistance 18 Strength required Where to get it: found during the Urn of Sacred Ashes quest (hint: starts as a gift) A bit of a niche choice, depending on how much trouble those pesky mages are giving you. The only light footwear that provides protection against spellcasting. Bard's Dancing Shoes Armour 2.25 (Tier 7) Fatigue 0.57% +6 Defense Reduces enemy hostility 20 Strength required Where to get it: From Bodahn Feddic in your camp

A good early to mid game choice, as it gives a rather nice defensive boost. Great for dishing out damage without pulling enemies off your tank. 4.4 - Medium Armour [DAOS4.4] NOTEWORTHY SETS Ancient Elven Armour - Tier 4 (Veridium) SET PIECE ARMOUR FATIGUE BONUSES Ancient Elven Helm 1.60 1.72% +25% Spirit Resistance Ancient Elven Armour 6.80 8.05% +2 Dexterity +2 Armour +10% Spirit Resistance Ancient Elven Gloves 1.20 1.44% +2 Armour +4% Spell Resistance Ancient Elven Boots 1.60 1.72% +1 Constitution Set Bonus: +5 Defense Prerequisite: 22 Strength Where to get it: Various (Lothering, Brecilian Forest, Urn of Sacred Ashes zones) Not a fantastic set, considering how much trouble you have to go to in order to put it together, but it has low Strength requirements. Most noteworthy are the gloves, which give excellent protective bonuses and are well worth using outside the set. Wade's Superior Dragonskin Armour - Tier 7 (Dragonbone) SET PIECE ARMOUR FATIGUE BONUSES Wade's Superior Dragonskin Armour 10.63 9.10% +1 Stamina Regeneration +50% Fire Resistance +25 Stamina Wade's Superior Dragonskin Gloves 1.88 1.63% +0.5 Stamina Regeneration +10% Fire Resistance Wade's Superior Dragonskin Boots 2.50 1.95% +0.5 Stamina Regeneration +10% Fire Resistance Set Bonus: +5 Defense, -25% Fatigue Prerequisite: 34 Strength Where to get it: From Wade's Emporium with the right components Quite a solid choice for any medium armour user, this set provides a lot of very useful stamina-related bonuses, as well as a boatload of fire resistance, which is one of the more useful elemental resistances in the game. Also leaves your helmet slot free. Has the heavy duty protective value of Tier 7 equipment, but with the correspondingly high Strength prerequisite. HELMETS Camenae's Barbute Armour 2.10 (Tier 6) Fatigue 1.88% Rapid Aim Chance to avoid missile attacks 30 Strength required Where to get it: From Gorim in Denerim after completing a couple major quest arcs

A great helmet for crossbow users, as crossbows with Rapid Aim are relatively rare and crossbow Wardens are likely to have enough Strength to equip it. The missile avoidance bonus works well on archers too. MAIN ARMOUR Varathorn's Armour Armour 8.92 (Tier 6) Fatigue 8.75% +3 Armour +20% Nature resistance +25 Stamina 30 Strength required Where to get it: Made by Varathorn as part of a side quest A great choice for a medium main armour, especially since it can be gained for free quite early in the game. Very high protective value for medium armour with nice bonuses. BOOTS Cadash Stompers Armour 2.66 (Tier 6 leather, don't ask) Fatigue 1.69% +2 Dexterity +2 Armour +2% Ranged critical chance +2% Melee critical chance Increases hostility 22 Strength required Where to get it: Shale's quests These boots don't fit cleanly into any category, as they possess a sort of mishmosh of the qualities of light, medium, and heavy armour, with stats averaging out roughly into the medium armour category. These boots have outstanding bonuses, particularly for tank characters due to their surprisingly high armour value, Dexterity bonus, and increase in hostility. However, they also work great on DPS characters so long as you don't mind the possibility of pulling enemies off your tank. 4.5 - Heavy Armour [DAOS4.5] NOTEWORTHY SETS Armour of Diligence - Tier 6 (Silverite) SET PIECE ARMOUR FATIGUE BONUSES Armour of Diligence 13.12 17.50% +0.5 Health Regeneration +2 Armour Gloves of Diligence 2.10 2.19% +4 Armour Boots of Diligence 2.63 2.81% +6 Defense +2 Armour Set Bonus: +5 Willpower Prerequisite: 34 Strength Where to get it: Various locations (Orzammar, Redcliffe, Urn of Sacred Ashes zones)

What makes this set stand out so much is its outstanding protective value for heavy armour. The gloves have better armour than any other pair in the game, including the best massive varieties. A great set choice for a heavy armour user, and pieces of the set are exceptionally useful even on massive armour tanks. Wade's Superior Dragonscale Armour - Tier 7 (Dragonbone) SET PIECE ARMOUR FATIGUE Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Armour 15.63 18.20% BONUSES +1 Stamina Regeneration +50% Fire Resistance +25 Stamina 2.27% +0.5 Stamina Regeneration +10% Fire Resistance 2.92% +0.5 Stamina Regeneration +10% Fire Resistance

Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Gloves

2.50

Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Boots

3.13

Set Bonus: +5 Defense, -25% Fatigue Prerequisites: 38 Strength Where to get it: From Wade's Emporium with the right components This set sports identical bonuses to the medium variety, with higher armour and correspondingly higher fatigue and Strength prereqs. A solid choice for any heavy armour user. HELMETS Helm of Honnleath Armour 1.50 (Tier 2) Fatigue 2.36% +2 to All Attributes +3 Armour 20 Strength required Where to get it: Shale's quests My personal favourite helm Strength prereqs that even excellent blend of bonuses iron, it has better armour for your main character, as it has low enough rogues can easily access it, and it gives an and protective value - despite only being grey absorption than nearly any other helm in the game.

Executioner's Helm Armour 2.00 (Tier 4) Fatigue 2.59% +25 Stamina 26 Strength required Where to get it: Various ways in Denerim Provides a rather large stamina boost for a helmet. Other than that, it's not too remarkable. MAIN ARMOUR Evon the Great's Mail

Armour 15.63 (Tier 7) Fatigue 18.20% +1 Health regeneration in combat +6 Armour +10% Chance to dodge attacks +1 Stamina regeneration in combat Chance to avoid missile attacks 38 Strength required Where to get it: From Wade's Emporium in Denerim after completing a couple major quest lines, for 100ish sovereigns An outstanding piece of armour, offering damage absorption comparable to top tier massive gear and with a ton of other great bonuses, which justify its hefty price tag. A good choice for any heavy armour user. 4.6 - Massive Armour [DAOS4.6] NOTEWORTHY SETS Legion of the Dead - Tier 7 (Dragonbone) SET PIECE ARMOUR FATIGUE BONUSES Armour of the Legion 21.88 27.30% +3 Willpower Gloves of the Legion 3.13 3.90% +4 Attack Boots of the Legion 3.75 3.90% None Set Bonus: +3 Constitution, +3 Damage Prerequisite: 42 Strength Where to get it: The Deep Roads This set is oriented toward heavy duty damage output, with the survivability to let you dish it out. On top of that, it looks incredible, particularly on large hulking characters like Sten. There is also a helmet and shield that go with this set visually, but they are not necessary to get the set bonus. Blood Dragon Armour - Tier 6 (Silverite) SET PIECE ARMOUR FATIGUE BONUSES Blood Dragon Plate Helmet 3.15 3.75% +1 Armour Blood Dragon Plate 18.38 26.25% +3 Strength +3 Willpower +3 Armour +50 Health -10% Fatigue Blood Dragon Plate Gauntlets 2.63 3.75% None Blood Dragon Plate Boots 3.15 3.75% None Set Bonus: +3 Armour, +1 Defense, +1 Missile deflection Prerequisite: 38 Strength Where to get it: The plate is automatically in your inventory when you activate the DLC; the rest can be bought from Bodahn Feddic for around 3 sovereigns each The Blood Dragon Plate is what truly stands out in this set, as you get it for free right from the start of the game and it has an astonishing number of useful bonuses for a single piece of armour, making it a great choice for any character with enough Strength to equip it. The helmet also has excellent armour protection values. The lack of bonuses on the gauntlets and boots means you may want to mix and match rather than go for the set bonus.

Juggernaut Plate - Tier 6 (Silverite) SET PIECE ARMOUR FATIGUE BONUSES Juggernaut Helm 3.15 3.75% +1 Armour +10 Mental Resistance Juggernaut Plate Armour 18.38 26.25% +10% All Elemental Resistances Juggernaut Plate Gloves 2.63 3.75% +5% All Elemental Resistances Juggernaut Plate Boots 3.15 3.75% +5% All Elemental Resistances Set Bonus: +3 Strength, +3 Constitution Prerequisite: 38 Strength Where to get it: The Nature of the Beast quest locations Elemental damage putting hair on your cake? This is the set for you. While it tends to lag behind a lot of the other massive armour sets in terms of raw armour protection value, it gives unsurpassed broad spectrum elemental resistance. The helm is also quite a nice piece as a standalone. Warden Commander Armour - Variable tier (3-7) SET PIECE ARMOUR FATIGUE BONUSES Warden Commander Armour Varies Varies +0.5 Stamina Regeneration +1 Armour +15% Critical/Backstab Damage +10 Physical Resistance Warden Commander Gloves Varies Varies +10% Fire Resistance Warden Commander Boots Varies Varies +50 Stamina Set Bonus: +10 Health, -10% Fatigue Prerequisites: Dependent on tier Where to get it: Warden's Keep quests What stands out the most in this set are the boots, giving a whopping 50 stamina. The main armour gives some rather nice bonuses as well. Mediocre gloves and a set bonus that's a little on the anemic side mean that you may wish to only use pieces of this set rather than the whole thing. Its material varies depending on the level of your main character when you acquire it, with higher tiers corresponding to higher levels. It'll never be worse than steel and never be better than dragonbone. Either wait to go to the Keep until it hits tier 7, or go earlier and sell the pieces to a merchant with a low markup and buy it back when it upgrades to dragonbone. Wade's Superior Dragonbone - Tier 7 (Dragonbone) SET PIECE ARMOUR FATIGUE BONUSES Wade's Superior Dragonbone Plate Armour 21.88 27.30% +1 Stamina Regeneration +50% Fire Resistance +25 Stamina Wade's Superior Dragonbone Plate Gloves 3.13 3.90% +0.5 Stamina Regeneration +10% Fire Resistance Wade's Superior Dragonbone Plate Boots 3.75 3.90% +0.5 Stamina Regeneration +10% Fire Resistance Set Bonus: +5 Defense, -25% Fatigue Prerequisite: 42 Strength Where to get it: From Wade's Emporium with the right components

The bonuses are identical to the medium and heavy variants of this set, but obviously this version offers the highest armour values at the highest fatigue cost. This version tends to stand out less than the medium and heavy sets because there are so many other good massive armour sets in the game to choose from. Effort's Armour - Tier 6 (Silverite) SET PIECE ARMOUR FATIGUE BONUSES Duty 3.15 3.75% +2 Constitution Effort 18.38 26.25% +15% to Healing Received Effort's Gloves 2.63 3.75% +1 Strength Effort's Boots 3.15 3.75% +1 Armour Set Bonus: -10% Fatigue Prerequisites: 38 Strength Where to get it: Orzammar and the Deep Roads Probably the crappiest unique massive armour set, Effort nonetheless has a couple pieces that offer some useful bonuses on their own. HELMETS Corruption Armour 3.75 (Tier 7) Fatigue 3.90% +5 Dexterity +1 Armour +75% Spirit resistance 42 Strength required Where to get it: Denerim during the final battles Packing the highest armour value of any helmet in the game, as well as a terrific Dexterity boost, this helmet is Alistair's dream come true. Too bad the game's almost over by the time you get it. MAIN ARMOUR Knight Commander's Plate Armour 18.90 (Tier 6) Fatigue 27.50% +5 Willpower +40% Spell resistance +10 Mental resistance Templar only 39 Strength required Where to get it: bought from Faryn for around 27 sovereigns I have an unhealthy love of this armour. Because I don't abuse Mana Clash, mages are the most dangerous and obnoxious enemies I face in any given playthrough, and this armour does a tremendous amount to let me laugh in their overpowered faces. 40% spell resistance from a single piece of gear is amazing, and the other bonuses are great as well. I take Templar as a specialization on a lot of my warriors just so I can wear this armour, or stick it on Alistair as soon as I can if I'm playing a rogue. In my experience, the ability to shrug off spells definitely offsets the extra couple of armour points you could get from a different piece, though Blood

Dragon is always tempting just due to all the other amazing bonuses it gives. 4.7 - Shields [DAOS4.7] BUCKLER SHIELDS Mythal's Blessing Defense 1.50 (Tier 4) Missile Deflection 2.63 +1% Melee critical chance +10% to healing received 18 Strength required Where to get it: The Nature of the Beast quest areas About as good as bucklers get. Decent little bonuses for a shield with relatively low prereqs and no fatigue penalty. Ruck's Shield Defense 1.50 (Tier 3) Missile Deflection 2.25 +4 Attack +10% Spirit resistance 14 Strength required Where to get it: an Orzammar side quest Again, passably decent bonuses for a buckler. Good when you have very low Strength or want to minimize fatigue. TARGES Aeducan Family Shield Defense 3.00 (Tier 6) Missile Deflection 5.06 Fatigue 3.13% +1 Cunning +1 Constitution +9 Defense +4 Damage vs Darkspawn 30 Strength required Where to get it: reunite with Gorim as a dwarf noble This shield has really great stats for a targe, but is only available to dwarf nobles as far as I know. Champion's Shield Defense 3.00 (Tier 6) Missile Deflection 5.06 Fatigue 3.13% +12 Defense 30 Strength required Where to get it: pickpocket Vartag Gavorn An easily acquired shield that will give a boost to your tank's dodging until better shields become available. Dead Coat of Arms Defense 3.00 (Tier 6)

Missile Deflection 5.06 Fatigue 3.13% +1 Constitution +1 Stamina regeneration in combat 30 Strength required Where to get it: from a Revenant The main perk to this targe is the stamina regeneration. KITE SHIELDS Eamon's Shield Defense 4.00 (Tier 3) Missile Deflection 4.50 Fatigue 3.52% +6 Defense +25 Stamina 22 Strength required Where to get it: Redcliffe quests The combination of two key stat bonuses for shieldtanks - Defense and Stamina - make this shield a great early to mid game choice. Havard's Aegis Defense 4.00 (Tier 3) Missile Deflection 4.50 Fatigue 3.36% +4% Spell resistance Chance to avoid missile attacks 22 Strength required Where to get it: Ostagar quests For a shield you get very early on in the game, Havard's Aegis has extremely useful bonuses. You can continue using this for most of the game and do just fine. Redcliffe Elite Shield Defense 4.00 (Tier 6) Missile Deflection 6.00 Fatigue 3.84% +1 Willpower +3 Defense +15% Electricity resistance +2 Attack 32 Strength required Where to get it: the Urn of Sacred Ashes quest as a rogue or warrior Sporting a well-rounded set of bonuses, this shield makes a viable alternative to Eamon's Shield or Havard's Aegis for the mid game. HEAVY SHIELDS Duncan's Shield Defense 6.00 (Tier 6) Missile Deflection 9.00 Fatigue 6.00% +3 Willpower

+6 Defense +1 Stamina regeneration in combat 38 Strength required Where to get it: Denerim after the Landsmeet is assembled This shield has an excellent bonus set for shieldtanks. Too bad it's only obtainable quite late in the game. Earthheart's Portable Bulwark Defense 6.00 (Tier 5) Missile Deflection 8.00 Fatigue 5.76% +1 Strength +1 Dexterity +1 Constitution 36 Strength required Where to get it: From Bodahn Feddic for under 10 sovereigns For the shieldtank who prefers stat bonuses to raw defensive value. Nice because of how early in the game you can acquire it, if you so choose. Fade Wall Defense 6.00 (Tier 6) Missile Deflection 9.00 Fatigue 6.00% +3 Defense +20% to healing received +1 Stamina regeneration in combat +25 Stamina 38 Strength required Where to get it: possible drop from a side quest in Denerim near the end of the game A solid game. A healing heavier alternative to Duncan's Shield, available around the same time in the little less raw defense but better stamina capabilities, and the boost can be quite beneficial, especially if your tank is rolling on Constitution than Dexterity.

Howe's Shield Defense 6.00 (Tier 6) Missile Deflection 9.00 Fatigue 6.00% +12 Defense +10% Fire resistance +10% Cold resistance -2 Willpower 38 Strength required Where to get it: Denerim just prior to the Landsmeet Sort of like the Champion's Shield's big brother, this shield provides a whopping bonus to your dodging and some useful elemental resists, but the penalty to Willpower is a bit unsexy. And it belonged to Arl Howe. Icky. Still, not a bad shield. 4.8 - Waraxes, Maces, and Longswords [DAOS4.8] WARAXES

All waraxes have a Strength modifier of 1.10. Defining characteristic: Higher Strength modifier than any other one-handed weapon type, giving better damage with very high Strength values. The Veshialle Damage 9.60 (Tier 7) Critical Chance 1.60% Armour Penetration 4.00 3 rune slots +2 Strength +5% Melee critical chance +1 Stamina regeneration in combat +10% Critical/backstab damage +2 Nature damage 31 Strength required Where to get it: From Bodahn Feddic for around 145ish sovereigns Though it comes with a heavy price tag, the Veshialle is the best waraxe in the game and a heavy contender for best melee weapon. One of the only unique dragonbone axes, and thus one of the only ones that can take three runes. A great choice, particularly if you have high Strength values or a high critical rate. Almost perfectly suited to dual wielding builds. Axe of the Grey Damage 9.00 (Tier 6) Critical Chance 1.50% Armour Penetration 3.50 2 rune slots +3% Melee critical chance +2 Armour penetration +6 Damage vs darkspawn 27 Strength required Where to get it: in Denerim after the Landsmeet is assembled A solid all-around axe that really shines in the last battles, as all your enemies are darkspawn. Also quite good against more heavily armoured targets. Aodh Damage 9.00 (Tier 6) Critical Chance 1.50% Armour Penetration 3.50 2 rune slots +3% Melee critical chance +20% Fire resistance -5% Cold resistance +1 Fire damage 27 Strength required Where to get it: part of a Denerim side quest One of the main advantages to this axe is that it can be obtained fairly early in the game. Its one drawback is relatively minor compared to its bonuses. Bloodline Base stats vary with tier +3 Dexterity

+10% Spirit resistance +1 Armour penetration +4 Damage vs darkspawn Where to get it: the Deep Roads The tier of this axe will depend on your level when you acquire it, but it can go as high as tier 7. You can use the sell/re-buy later trick to upgrade it. The other unique axe that can have 3 rune slots, and with a pretty decent spread of bonuses. MACES All maces have a Strength modifier of 1.00. Defining characteristic: Far and away the best armour penetration of any onehanded weapons. High Constable's Mace Damage 7.50 (Tier 6) Critical Chance 0.75% Armour Penetration 7.00 2 rune slots +1 Stamina regeneration in combat +6 Damage vs darkspawn 28 Strength required Where to get it: Denerim after the Landsmeet is called A bit of a mediocre weapon against anything but darkspawn, especially given that you only get it quite late in the game, but it's still worth considering for the final confrontation where its damage bonus will really come in handy. Vanguard Damage 7.50 (Tier 6) Critical Chance 0.75% Armour Penetration 7.00 2 rune slots +3 Strength +3 Constitution +1 Stamina regeneration in combat 28 Strength required Where to get it: the Paragon of Her Kind quest line Probably the best all-around mace in the game, with decent stat boosts and ever-useful stamina regeneration. Longswords All longswords have a Strength modifier of 1.00. Defining characteristic: Excellent base damage and critical hit rate. Starfang Damage 11.90 (Tier 8) Critical Chance 3.40% Armour Penetration 4.20 3 rune slots +3 Dexterity +3 Damage +2.5 Armour Penetration

31 Strength required Where to get it: Warden's Keep quests The clear choice for those with the Warden's Keep DLC, this longsword outperforms nearly any other one-hander, and best of all, it's free. On top of its outstanding base stats, being in the unique 'Tier 8' of Starmetal materials, it gets bonuses that help to overcome the inherent drawbacks of using longswords and help you crank out excellent damage, with 3 rune slots for versatility. Not to mention it looks pretty sweet. Spellweaver Damage 10.50 (Tier 6) Critical Chance 3.00% Armour Penetration 3.50 2 rune slots +5 Magic +1 Mana regeneration in combat +10% Spell resistance +3 Electricity damage Arcane Warrior only Where to get it: The Urn of Sacred Ashes quests This sword can only be wielded by mages with the Arcane Warrior specialization, and when you take a peek at its stats, it becomes clear that this weapon is admirably suited to that role. A near perfect fit for melee Arcane Warriors. Keening Blade Damage 11.20 (Tier 7) Critical Chance 3.20% Armour Penetration 4.00 3 rune slots +2 Armour penetration +6 Attack +3 Cold damage Warrior only 31 Strength required Where to get it: a Denerim side quest later in the game Sort of like Starfang's little brother in the stats department, the Keening Blade offers a very nice stat spread and three rune slots, and it doesn't cost you a penny. If you went for the Starfang greatsword or don't have Warden's Keep, this is a great choice for an endgame 1-hander. 4.9 - Battleaxes, Greatswords, and Mauls [DAOS4.9] BATTLEAXES All battleaxes have a Strength modifier of 1.10. Defining characteristic: Very high critical hit rate for a two-handed weapon. Faith's Edge Damage 15.00 (Tier 6) Critical Chance 4.50% Armour Penetration 5.25 2 rune slots +2 Willpower

+5% Critical/backstab damage 34 Strength required Where to get it: part of a fight in the Urn of Sacred Ashes quest A decent choice for a two-hander, though its stats are not particularly noteworthy compared to some of the other weapons on offer. Mostly good to use if you happen to like the aesthetic of battleaxes versus greatswords or mauls. Maetashear War Axe Damage 15.00 (Tier 6) Critical Chance 4.50% Armour Penetration 5.25 2 rune slots +1 Damage +5% Melee critical chance -1 Dexterity 34 Strength required Where to get it: an optional fight in the Urn of Sacred Ashes arc An alternative to Faith's Edge with comparable stats, this axe leans a little more heavily toward raw damage output. GREATSWORDS All greatswords have a Strength modifier of 1.10. Defining characteristic: Very high base damage. Ageless Damage 16.50 (Tier 6) Critical Chance 2.25% Armour Penetration 5.25 Weakens nearby darkspawn Messy kills +4 Damage vs darkspawn Increases hostility and intimidation +0.25 Stamina regeneration in combat 34 Strength required Where to get it: an optional fight in the Orzammar palace This sword is most noteworthy for the bonuses against darkspawn, since you spend so much of the game fighting against darkspawn enemies. The major drawback to using this blade is that it has no rune slots. Meteor Sword Damage 16.50 (Tier 6) Critical Chance 2.25% Armour Penetration 5.25 2 rune slots +2 Strength +3 Damage -25% Spirit resistance 34 Strength required Where to get it: bought from Gorim after a few storyline quests An interesting alternative to swords like Ageless and Yusaris, this greatsword is more oriented toward raw damage output against any target. The

spirit resistance penalty can be a bit of a bummer if you fight things that love using Crushing Prison, like Genlock Emissaries. Starfang Damage 18.70 (Tier 8) Critical Chance 2.55% Armour Penetration 6.30 3 rune slots +3 Strength +2.5 Armour penetration +8 Attack 38 Strength required Where to get it: Warden's Keep with the right materials A quintessential choice for most of the game as a two-handed user, Starfang provides solid performance across a number of fronts - high autoattack damage, 3 rune slots for great flexibility, and other useful built-in bonuses. Can make a perfectly serviceable endgame weapon if you like greatswords. Mauls All mauls have a Strength modifier of 1.25. Defining characteristic: Highest Strength modifier of any weapon type in the game; outstanding armour penetration. Chasind Great Maul Damage 14.40 (Tier 7) Critical Chance 0.80% Armour Penetration 14.00 3 rune slots +5 Damage +2.5 Armour Penetration +0.5 Stamina regeneration +75 Stamina 38 Strength required Where to get it: from Gorim in Denerim after a few storyline quests, for around 150 sovereigns The most expensive weapon in the game, but if you can afford it, this monstrous weapon is well worth it. If you're going to use a maul, make it this one - with the best overall damage performance of any two-hander in the game, there's not much the Chasind Great Maul isn't awesome at. 3 rune slots for great flexibility, enormous damage output, and mindblowing armour penetration, letting you crush Revenants like beer cans. The added stamina is also fantastic for making the most of the Two-Handed skillset's numerous spike damage talents. The only area where it's lacking is critical hit rate, but that's a small price to pay for the other stats on this beauty. The Chasind barbarians' utter lack of subtlety at its finest. 4.10 - Bows [DAOS4.10] Bows of all types have (or should have) a stat modifier of 1.00. It's currently broken for crossbows, and will hopefully be fixed in a future patch. Bows also, unfortunately, never have rune slots. I'll include crossbows here in case BioWare fixes them or you happen to have a custom mod that makes Dexterity improve their damage the way it's supposed to.

SHORTBOWS Defining characteristic: Very high rate of fire for excellent damage output, but only accurate at short range. Scout's Bow Damage varies with tier Critical Chance varies with tier Armour Penetration varies with tier Rapid Aim Dexterity requirement varies with tier Where to get it: in Dalish areas, typically The thing that makes these bows stand out is that they have Rapid Aim, which is quite uncommon on shortbows. Other than that, they're unremarkable. The Dark Moon Damage 8.00 (Tier 7) Critical Chance 1.60% Armour Penetration 6.60 Optimal Range 26m +2 Willpower +10% Nature resistance +1.5 Armour penetration 30 Dexterity required Where to get it: bought from Varathorn after completing a few storyline quests One of the only unique shortbows with stats that stand out in any particular way. Willpower is always a nice stat for archers due to all their sustaineds and the costs of their active talents, and armour penetration rarely goes amiss. Good to pair up with an Armsman's Tensioner or Camenae's Barbute. LONGBOWS Defining characteristic: Lower overall damage output than shortbows, but with more 'punch' per shot and far greater range. Intermediate between shortbows and crossbows in general characteristics. Falon'din's Reach Damage 9.60 (Tier 7) Critical Chance 1.60% Armour Penetration 8.80 Optimal Range 46m +2 Damage Rapid Aim A decent all-around longbow with tier 7 stats and useful bonuses. Not much else to say here. Far Song Damage 9.60 (Tier 7) Critical Chance 1.60% Armour Penetration 8.80 Optimal Range 46m +2 Damage

Rapid Aim +3% Ranged critical chance +10 Attack +10% Critical/backstab damage 34 Dexterity required Where to get it: from Owen's replacement in Redcliffe for around 120 sovereigns The definitive longbow of the game, Far Song's stats outclass just about every other bow out there. Comes with a hefty price tag, but if your PC is an archer, it's well worth the investment. Marjolaine's Recurve Damage 9.60 (Tier 7) Critical Chance 1.60% Armour Penetration 8.80 Optimal Range 46m +3 Cunning +3 Damage Rapid Aim 34 Dexterity required Leliana only Where to get it: Leliana's companion quest A bow that compliments Leliana's abilities very nicely, as the Cunning bonus boosts her bardic songs as well as her rogue abilities. Definitely worth getting for her if she's a staple party member, and it doesn't cost you a penny. Spear-Thrower Damage 9.00 (Tier 6) Critical Chance 1.50% Armour Penetration 8.00 Optimal Range 44m Rapid Aim +2.5 Armour Penetration 30 Dexterity required Where to get it: the Deep Roads A lesser cousin of those listed above, the Spear-Thrower is equippable a little earlier due to lower Dexterity requirements and still features the ever-useful Rapid Aim property. Crossbows Defining characteristic: Excellent damage per hit, range, armour penetration, and critical hit chance relative to other bows, but very slow rate of fire, and has Strength prerequisites to equip rather than Dexterity, resulting in a demanding stat spread to both equip them and have good damage. Antique Warden Crossbow Damage varies with tier (4-7) Critical Chance varies with tier Armour Penetration varies with tier +1 Damage Rapid Aim Strength requirement varies with tier

Where to get it: Warden's Keep DLC One of the best crossbows in the game due to having Rapid Aim and having up to Tier 7 stats. It also seems to have a better version of Rapid Aim than other crossbows, making its rate of fire more competitive with longbows. Sailor's Crossbow Damage 12.00 (Tier 6) Critical Chance 3.00% Armour Penetration 10.00 Range 50m Rapid Aim 26 Strength required Where to get it: buy it from Barlin in Lothering The other crossbow with Rapid Aim. Since crossbows fire so slowly, having anything that boosts rate of fire is a real boon and has a very large effect on your damage output. This crossbow is quite nice because despite its high tier, it's available very early in the game. Seems to fire slower than the Antique Warden Crossbow, despite their Rapid Aim properties appearing identical in their item descriptions. 4.11 - Daggers and Staves [DAOS4.11] DAGGERS All daggers have a stat modifier of 0.85. Defining characteristic: the quintessential 'offhand' weapon; high critical hit rate, great armour penetration, and high attack speed. Feeds off both STR and DEX rather than just STR for damage. Dead Thaig Shanker Damage 6.00 (Tier 6) Critical Chance 4.50% Armour Penetration 7.00 2 rune slots +5 Cunning +0.5 Armour Penetration +6 Attack Interrupts spellcasting 26 Dexterity required Where to get it: Shale's quests A fantastic dagger for any melee rogue, as its bonuses tend to compliment their fighting style excellently. Particularly nice for melee-oriented Bards and anyone who loves ruining a mage's day, while also packing a better-thannormal punch against heavily armoured targets. The Rose's Thorn Damage 6.40 (Tier 7) Critical Chance 4.80% Armour Penetration 8.00 3 rune slots +2 Dexterity +1 Health regeneration in combat +3 Damage +5% Melee critical chance

+30% Critical/backstab damage 30 Dexterity required Where to get it: buy from Garin in Orzammar for a little less than 150 sovereigns Though it comes with a whopping huge price tag (the second most expensive after the Chasind Great Maul), The Rose's Thorn is pretty much the definitive dagger in the game. Benefitting from the high base stats and 3 rune slots of Tier 7 gear, it also features some astonishingly good bonuses, most notably in the critical hit/backstab department. Laying the hurt as a melee rogue is almost too easy with this thing. Thorn of the Dead Gods Damage 6.00 (Tier 6) Critical Chance 4.50% Armour Penetration 7.00 2 rune slots +3 Damage +3 Armour penetration 26 Dexterity required Where to get it: a Deep Roads side quest A nice alternative to the Dead Thaig Shanker (or use them together), the Thorn of the Dead Gods is more oriented toward steady raw damage output across a wide variety of situations. MAGIC STAVES Staves feed off the Magic stat for prereqs and damage. They never miss unless blocked by inanimate obstructions, but also never score critical hits. The bolts they fire don't do much damage, and are always elemental - the element depends on the particular staff. They almost completely ignore armour, and never have weapon rune slots. They can only be equipped by Mages, and all staves come with an innate spellpower increase based on their tier - this bonus stacks with any spellpower bonuses on the weapon, e.g. a Tier 3 staff with +2 Spellpower as a bonus would give a total of +5 Spellpower to its wielder. Heaven's Wrath Damage 6.00 (Tier 6) Armour Penetration 35.00 Range 56m Spellpower 6 +1 Mana regeneration in combat +5 Spellpower +10% Electricity damage 32 Magic required Where to get it: buy from Bodahn Feddic in Redcliffe after the final assault begins A nice all-around staff, particularly if you like laying Storms of the Century on your foes. Unfortunately, it's only available very late in the game. Staff of the Ephemeral Order Damage 6.00 (Tier 6) Armour Penetration 35.00

Range 56m Spellpower 6 +3 Willpower +5% Spirit damage 32 Magic required Where to get it: buy from Alarith in the Alienage A good staff for a healer-type Mage that needs a good supply of mana, or for anyone who loves dropping Walking Bombs or Crushing Prisons on their foes. Not available until fairly late in the game. Staff of the Magister Lord Damage 6.40 (Tier 7) Armour Penetration 40.00 Range 58m Spellpower 7 +6 Willpower +2 Mana regeneration in combat +6 Spellpower +10% Fire damage +10% Spirit damage 36 Magic required Where to get it: buy from the Templar quartermaster in the Circle tower for around 130 sovereigns This is pretty much the definitive staff in the game, with a correspondingly hefty price tag. If you can afford it, it's clearly the way to go - Tier 7 stats and bonuses that put your magical abilities through the roof. Winter's Breath Damage 6.40 (Tier 7) Armour Penetration 40.00 Range 58m Spellpower 7 +25% Cold resistance +3 Spellpower (Wonders of Thedas version only) +10% Cold damage Radiates Cold 36 Magic required Where to get it: You can get a weaker version for free from Warden's Keep, or a stronger version for around 30 sovereigns or so from The Wonders of Thedas in Denerim. A good mid-game staff, particularly for Morrigan as she tends to orient toward cold-element spells in the Primal tree. If you have Warden's Keep, it has the additional benefit of not costing you anything and being acquirable quite early in the game, unlike the majority of Tier 7 staves. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% Section V: Building and Developing Your Team [DAOS5.0] %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% %% In general, there's a ton of flexibility in how you put together your team in this game, as you can make just about any team work provided you use the right strategic tactics with each. Typical teams include at least one

character who can serve as a tank, as you will likely have at least one or two party mates who can't survive very well if they draw a lot of enemy hostility and will need to be protected. A well-geared and well-built tank can be a real lifesaver in many situations, particularly ambushes and other scripted encounters where you start in a disadvantageous position. You generally also want to bring at least one rogue character along, since picking locks gets you extra exp and loot to sell as well as occasionally valuable bits of gear and consumables, and being able to stealth ahead and disarm a room full of traps before the rest of your party engages the enemy can save you an absolute ton of grief (not to mention the exp you get from trap disarmament). Most people bring along at least one mage, since magical healing is a tremendous boon and no one can handle AoE havoc like a mage. The final party slot is pretty much up to you, and even the three aforementioned characters are quite negotiable if you come up with tactics that take their absence into account - for instance, I play almost exclusively mageless these days. In this section, I'll go through all of the permanent NPC allies you can add to your party in the game (in roughly the order that you're likely to encounter them) and the builds I've found suit them best based on their initial stat, talent, and specialization loadout. Several arcs at the beginning of the game (origin stories, Ostagar) will give you temporary NPC allies - in general, just look at the talents they have and pick the most appropriate tactics. For instance, Ser Jory is a two-hander, so set him to Scrapper. Daveth, on the other hand, is a rogue with archery talents, so setting him to Archer with Ranged behaviour is a good option. Note that all permanent allies except for Dog have a bonus stat that increases as their approval for the Warden rises - you get bonuses at 25, 50, 75, and 90 approval. 5.1 - Alistair [DAOS5.1] Race: Human Base Class: Warrior Specialization: Templar Most Appropriate Build Archetype(s): Tank Best Default Tactic Set(s): Defender Romance?: Yes (Female Warden only) Bonus Stat: Constitution Where to get him: Automatically joins at Ostagar Gift Hint: He might crack jokes all the time, but his taste in objects is definitely stonier. Unless you started as a Human Noble, Alistair will be the first permanent ally you find. In general, Alistair is a 'good' character, in that he wants you to act in a just and honourable fashion. His Templar background makes him a bit mistrustful of mages, particularly Blood Mages and other maleficar; in spite of that, though, he's not particularly religious despite the context of his upbringing. Alistair tends to work best being built as a tank, because he comes preloaded with a bunch of Shield tree talents (though not the really critical ones, unfortunately - you'll have to wait a few levels for that). However, because you get him at a relatively early level, Alistair is a bit more malleable than your other warrior allies and can be put satisfactorily into any warriorclass role. Nonetheless, it's advisable that you follow the tank build for

him, as it tends to yield rather nice results. Good 2nd specialization choices for Alistair are Champion (for group buffing and helping him dodge even better) and Reaver (for increasing his ability to draw hostility and to add a little self-healing capability). Pros + Great tank in the mid to end game + Has some rather amusing dialogue throughout the game + Great control over his character development due to how early you get him Cons - Can be a little 'high maintenance' for some key plot choices, losing approval if he's along for them - Comes with a slightly silly initial talent setup for a tank (e.g. no Shield Wall - what were they thinking?) 5.2 - Morrigan [DAOS5.2] Race: Human Base Class: Mage Specialization: Shapeshifter Most Appropriate Build Archetype(s): Nuker, Debilitator Best Default Tactic Set(s): Damager, Debilitator, Controller Romance?: Yes (Male Warden only) Bonus Stat: Magic Where to get her: She will automatically join after Ostagar Gift Hint: She might be a no-nonsense Witch of the Wilds, but she's a material girl at heart. Morrigan has gained a lot of notoriety for being difficult to please, but really, it just involves developing a true understanding of her character. Morrigan, while definitely not a 'good' character, per se, is not evil either. Instead, she just takes a hard-line view of things based on pure logic and pragmatism, in which you should always be looking out for yourself first and foremost and not doing things that don't result in some kind of gain for your efforts. As both someone rooted in evidence-based logic and a maleficar, she has a strong disdain for the Chantry and its religion, and particularly the Templars. She has pity for those who have their freedom taken against their will, but despises those whom she sees as being weak, willing accomplices in their own imprisonment, hence her scorn for the Circle of Magi. Favour cold practicality over sentiment, and you'll have Morrigan on your side. Morrigan comes pre-loaded in a way that suggests playing her as a blend of damage and debilitating effects. Her initial specialization is unfortunately not too helpful, but her cold-based and electrical-based spells are both potent and predispose her to heading down the path to Storm of the Century for enormous AoE chaos, and she has some solid debuffing abilities as well. However, being a mage, she is quite flexible and can be adapted to serve a support role or even to be an Arcane Warrior when she reaches level 14. Morrigan is definitely one of the more versatile characters in the game, as mages tend to be. Any of the three remaining mage specializations can be a good choice for Morrigan depending on what role you would like her to play. Pros: + Immensely powerful damage character + High versatility in build and spell choices

+ Scathing sarcasm makes for some great dialogue moments Cons: - Very high maintenance for retaining approval during a lot of plot choices - Poor initial specialization choice - Her unique robes are horribly skanky 5.3 - The Dog [DAOS5.3] (Actually, you get to pick his name) Race: Mabari warhound Base Class: Unique Specialization: N/A Most Appropriate Build Archetype(s): N/A (see below) Best Default Tactic Set(s): War Dog Romance?: No. Don't be sick. Bonus Stat: None. Aw. Where to get him: Automatically joins you during the Human Noble origin, or can optionally join in a random encounter after Ostagar depending on your previous choices. Gift Hint: Dog already comes with 100 unwavering Approval, but you can give him bones to make his chances of finding items in areas much higher. The dog is an interesting character, acting as a sort of mishmosh of tank, melee DPS, and crowd control. He can be a very potent ally in the early game, but unfortunately rapidly loses relevance in the later game due to his extremely limited gear selection. If you talk to him in the various areas you visit, you can ask him to go search for items, which can include gear pieces, codex entries, gift items, and money. He is the ultimate in unjudgemental loyalty, standing by you no matter what choices you make in the game. The dog can only wear two pieces of equipment that are unique to him: collars and warpaints, covered below. I feel that the dog can go two ways in terms of stat builds. Build 1: Strength focus This build tries to maximize the dog's damage output by putting the majority of your stat points into Strength, with a few extras put into Constitution. Because this loadout gives the dog almost no dodging ability and because he will only be able to attain armour absorption roughly equivalent to leather, you don't want the dog to be tanking in this build. Only use this if you are confident of your ability to keep hostility off of him; the Constitution won't help him much if he gets swarmed - it's mostly just there to help him survive AoEs and to let him survive if one or two enemies break off from your tank. For this, I'd usually go 2:1 STR:CON on level-ups or something similar. Build 2: STR/DEX split This build gives the dog a lot more survivability at the expense of raw damage output. In this build, I usually go roughly equal between Strength and Dexterity. This allows the dog to offtank a lot more effectively, though he still won't be a great dodger the way rogues and shieldtanks are. Pros + Has some great tricks up his sleeve in the early game, like Dread Howl + Overwhelm is awesome, especially for magekilling + Doesn't require any approval management

+ Cheap to gear and remove injuries from + Some of the stuff he finds is pretty useful Cons - Extremely limited gear selection greatly hinders his performance in the mid to late game - Limited talent selection relative to other characters - Extremely poor armour penetration - No runes due to not having a weapon - The only melee character with no way to gain or lose hostility - No bonus stat points Noteworthy Gear COLLARS Mabari War Harness +4 Armour penetration +8 Armour Where to get it: Circle Tower This collar is the better choice for people wanting to build the dog as a damager, as 8 armour is the most you can find on collars and the armour penetration bonus helps compensate for an area in which the dog is painfully lacking. You can also find it for free. Pure Bitch Braid +8 Attack +8 Armour Where to get it: an optional fight in the Urn of Sacred Ashes arc An alternative to the War Harness, I feel it's a little less useful overall but may be a good choice if you feel like the dog is missing his opponents too often. Warpaint Kaddis of the Courser +2 Dexterity 12 Strength required Where to get it: bought from Barlin in Lothering A good choice if you're going for the STR/DEX split build. Kaddis of the Lady of the Skies +30 Physical resistance 10 Strength required Where to get it: from the Circle Tower A good all-around choice, helping the dog to shrug off some obnoxious status effects. As an additional perk, you can get it for free. Kaddis of the Trickster +3 Damage 12 Strength required Where to get it: bought from Alimar in Dust Town

Probably the best choice if your aim is to maximize the dog's damage output. Warpaint of the Vanguard +1 Stamina regeneration in combat 12 Strength required Where to get it: bought from Barlin in Lothering A decent choice for allowing the dog to use his talents more rapidly, though I found he usually had enough stamina to do his job in all but the longest fights. 5.4 - Leliana [DAOS5.4] Race: Human Base Class: Rogue Specialization: Bard Most Appropriate Build Archetype(s): Rogue Archer Best Default Tactic Set(s): Archer Romance?: Yes (either gender) Bonus Stat: Cunning Where to get her: Can be recruited in Lothering Gift Hint: She's very devout, but also a bit of a girly-girl. Talk to her to find out more. Leliana is a devout follower of Andraste and the Maker, even if it's not quite in the way the Chantry would like. She's a sweet-natured lady with a complicated past, who can bring all sorts of useful rogue and bard skills to your party. In general, like Alistair, Leliana prefers for the Warden to be 'good', and particularly values mercy, redemption, and reverence for the things she holds holy. She's definitely not above killing when the situation calls for it, though, and she has a good eye for spies and traitors. Leliana generally works best as a rogue archer, as she starts with a bunch of archery talents and not much by way of dual wielding. She is a bard, so she does a good job of buffing your group, and her Cunning shouldn't be neglected - some blend of Dexterity and Cunning, probably a little heavier on the Dexterity to give her better accuracy and survivability (she'll get a fair bit of Cunning from her stat bonuses), is a good idea. She comes preloaded with some lockpicking/disarming talents, which is great, but no stealth, which kind of sucks. For a second specialization, the best choices would be Duelist for more accuracy and dodging, or Ranger to have disposable summons supplement your party in various ways. Pros: + Starts as a pretty good utility rogue, as her mechanical talents and high Cunning make her a great lockpicker and trap remover + Early access to the Bard specialization makes for a nice boost to your party + Combination of Bard skills and archery abilities make her a terrific endgame support and damage character, particularly once you get Lethality Cons: - No Stealth skills, so using her as an advance scout requires some remedial talent points - A wee bit on the crazy side; party dialogue tends not to be terribly interesting - A little slow to get started because of how many talents she needs to truly

start shining 5.5 - Sten [DAOS5.5] Sten Race: Qunari Base Class: Warrior Specialization: None (boo!) Most Appropriate Build Archetype(s): Two-Hander Best Default Tactic Set(s): Scrapper Romance?: No Bonus Stat: Strength Where to get him: Can be recruited in Lothering Gift Hint: He might be a gruff military man, but Sten has an appreciation for culture and the finer things in life. Sten is a warrior of the Beresaad and a stalwart follower of the Qun, the nondeist life philosophies of the Qunari religion. It's kind of cool to see a religion in a fantasy setting that isn't deist for a change. Sten has a pretty different character dynamic from your other characters in that he doesn't want you to be nice to him and doesn't necessarily want you to agree with him - what he wants is a strong leader whom he can trust with his life and whom he can follow with confidence to victory. Sometimes, putting Sten in his place when he questions you can actually make him respect you more, where being placating only earns his scorn. Sten has an inherent dislike of mages and magic in general, which colours his reaction to various plot choices, and generally prefers fighting to talking. Sten is mostly kitted out as a two-hander DPS warrior with some off-tanking abilities. He generally won't be quite as sturdy as Alistair, though his bonus stat in Strength can help him equip heavier armour sooner rather than later and helps him with his damage-dealing abilities. Because you get him relatively early, you can conceivably shift him into a different build archetype, but it will probably weaken him in the long run. Give him the biggest weapon you can find and some decent armour, boost his Strength with some Constitution added into the mix, and watch him go. Pros: + A solid set of starting feats for being a two-hander damager + Surprisingly funny dialogue + Very easy to gain influence with once you unlock his personal quest Cons: - Only gets one specialization rather than two - Can be a bit high maintenance with some plot choices, particularly with those having to do with magic - From a stats perspective, Sten is outclassed by Oghren in just about every way 5.6 - Zevran [DAOS5.6] Race: Elf Base Class: Rogue Specialization: Assassin Most Appropriate Build Archetype(s): Rogue Dual Wielder

Best Default Tactic Set(s): Scrapper Romance?: Yes (either gender) Bonus Stat: Dexterity Where to get him: Can be recruited after a random encounter upon completion of your first major army recruitment quest Gift Hint: Zevran would die of joy if he ever got the key to Fort Knox. A former Antivan Crow, Zevran is a skilled assassin with a silver tongue and an insatiable libido. While Zevran generally likes the idea of being good and doing the right thing, he frequently finds that doing is not really the best way to get the job done, and getting the job done is always paramount. His morals are pretty flexible, and in general, he will be an uncritical and lowmaintenance character to have along with you. Even when he occasionally voices an objection to your course of action, you can usually get out of it with no actual loss of approval from him. Dangerous, flirty, and devil-maycare, Zevran will cheerfully accompany you into the maw of hell, so long as you don't get too pushy or nosy. Zev is designed to make use of the dual wield talent tree, having gotten a couple talents from it already and being an Assassin. The fact that he starts with Momentum is terrific, though some of his other dual wield trees are a bit sickly and will need to be bulked up sooner rather than later to have him performing up to snuff. His stealth skills are very good, but unfortunately, he comes with no mechanical talents whatsoever, so you have to wait several levels after he joins you until he'll be a decent lockpicker and trap disarmer. Generally, you're going to want to stack Zevran with a ton of Dexterity, aided by his stat bonuses. Cunning is helpful too to give a bit of a boost to some of his Assassin talents and to help with lockpicking/disarmament. The Duelist specialization is generally the best fit for Zev as a 2nd specialization to help his dodging and give him some additional striking power, though Bard can work fine too, especially if you've raised his Cunning a lot to get more damage output out of Assassin talents. Pros: + Starts with great damage output potential and strategic abilities + Low-maintenance in terms of approval of your actions; quite easy to gain his approval + Can make a passable archer in a pinch due to very high Dexterity + Fun personality with great dialogue + Can have very high survivability in the endgame due to dodging, especially with the right gear Cons: - Extremely fragile at first without some careful micromanagement - Starts with no lockpick/trap disarming talents - Takes time to really come into his own because of how many talents he needs to hit his stride 5.7 - Wynne [DAOS5.7] Race: Human Base Class: Mage Specialization: Spirit Healer Most Appropriate Build Archetype(s): Support Healer Best Default Tactic Set(s): Healer, Supporter Romance?: No

Bonus Stat: Willpower Where to get her: Can be recruited during the Broken Circle quest Gift Hint: Wynne might be getting on in years, but she's a lifelong learner. Wynne is a senior enchanter with the Circle of Magi, highly experienced in both the scholarly and practical aspects of magic. Because of her long stints as a mentor to young mages, she has the demeanour of a motherly advisor, trying to guide those younger and less experienced than her onto what she feels is the correct path and to keep them from danger and temptation. She wishes for the Warden to be a 'good' person, acting in an honourable and upstanding fashion, and despite being a mage, she does not harbour any ill will toward the Templars or the Chantry. Wynne starts out kitted in a way that makes the Support Healer build an obvious choice. Her spell choices and her specialization, coupled with her ample tactic slots, make her amazingly good in this role right from the moment you recruit her, even if Broken Circle is your first major recruitment quest. Being a mage, Wynne is quite versatile and can definitely pick up damage or debilitation spells, but she truly shines as a healer and group supporter. Her bonus stats will help give her an ample supply of mana, though investment in Willpower as well as Magic when she levels up is still a good idea, and a little Constitution to help her stay alive long enough to cast her healing spells is never a bad idea either. Though it seems anti-thematic, Blood Mage makes a decent second specialization for Wynne because of its useful bonuses, and she can work decently as an Arcane Warrior too. Pros: + An excellent support mage right off the bat + Relatively low maintenance for approval so long as you're not obviously underhanded, though gaining approval will mostly rely on gifts + Flexible, though not quite as much as Morrigan + Starts with a huge number of tactic slots Cons: - Starts with no Combat Training skill ranks, meaning her spellcasts can be interrupted quite easily early on - Can be a little preachy and overbearing in her 'mentor' role - Dialogue is pretty unremarkable 5.8 - Shale [DAOS5.8] Race: Stone Golem Base Class: Warrior Specialization: N/A (see below) Most Appropriate Build Archetype(s): Unique (see below) Best Default Tactic Set(s): generally Defender or Scrapper depending on build Romance?: No. Unsurprisingly. Bonus Stat: Strength Where to get her: can be recruited in Honnleath (requires The Stone Prisoner DLC) Gift Hint: Shale's appearance tells you most of what you need to know when it comes to finding gifts for her. Shale is, quite obviously, a big golem. She has a rather different perspective from your other party members, as she has existed for a very long period of time, well beyond the lifespan of any mortal race. In addition, up until you recruit her, she had spent the entirety of her remembered existence

as a thrall to whoever possessed her control rod, with no true free will or power over her life and actions. After a few decades of being stuck as a decorative statue in Honnleath, she's ready for a change of scenery, with some bird massacres along the way. Shale is a highly unique character in terms of builds. Like the dog, she has only two pieces of gear: small crystals for weapons, and large crystals for armour, however these tend to give much more powerful bonuses than the dog's collars and warpaints do. Shale is technically a warrior in that she gets the basic warrior talent tree, but does not get any of the weapon-specific trees; instead, she gets four unique talent paths, each of which begins with a sustained ability. Further talents in each path enhance the bonuses granted by that sustained ability as well as granting new abilities. Thus, Shale is capable of serving as a main tank, a melee damage dealer, or a group supporter depending on which of her modes is active. Her build will depend at least in part on which role you foresee yourself using most often. Shale does not gain access to the warrior class specializations. Path 1: The Pulverizing Blows Tree This talent set is basically designed to maximize Shale's melee damage output, granting large bonuses to raw damage and armour penetration, with the drawback being a drop in dodging ability. To utilize this mode to the maximum, you'll want lots of Strength, with excess points put into either Constitution (Shale already has boatloads of it, so this basically allows Shale to offtank by outlasting enemies), Dexterity (to help dodging), and/or Willpower (to help Shale keep up continuous active talent use) Recommended crystal type: Fire (for raw damage), Lightning (for damage plus dodging), Ice (vs heavily armoured targets) Path 2: The Stoneheart Tree This is Shale's tanking talent line, giving large bonuses to armour, health and stamina regeneration, elemental resistances, and increased hostility toward Shale from enemies. For this build, you really only need enough Strength to equip Shale's top grade small crystals - everything else should be going into Constitution (to make the most of Shale's innate regeneration and high armour absorption) or Dexterity (to try and get a bit of dodging in, though it's not really Shale's forté), with perhaps a sprinkling of Willpower to help her keep up active talent use. Shale is excellent at holding hostility in this mode, at least as good as a full shieldtank warrior, if not better, particularly against single targets like bosses. Recommended crystal type: Nature (for improved armour, hp, and regen), Lightning (for better dodging), Spirit (for better all-around stats and magic resistance) Path 3: The Rock Mastery Tree Shale's quirkiest and most situational talent set, it acts as a sort of hybrid of damage dealing and group buffing. More specifically, while in this mode, Shale grants buffs to ranged attack speed and critical chance to any nearby party members, and gains a bonus to defense against missile attacks. In addition, Shale is less likely to be attacked by enemies while in this mode. However, it comes with fairly steep penalties - lowered defense, armour, and melee critical chance. Shale gets a few ranged attack talents,

but her normal autoattacks in this mode are still melee. This is mostly useful for when you have a party with a lot of archers, or just to flip on in very specific instances (like the Arcane Horror sub-boss in the Brecilian temple). Since Shale will largely be hanging back with your archers to make the most of this build, you may want to focus less on Strength and more on Dexterity and Constitution for greater survivability. Recommended crystal type: Lightning (for better dodging and ranged defense), Nature (to offset the tanking penalties), Spirit (for magic resistance) Path 4: The Stone Aura Tree Probably Shale's most unique talent set, Stone Aura basically turns Shale into an AoE buff/debuff statue. When it is active, Shale becomes immobile and suffers an enormous penalty to defense, but gains a number of survivability bonuses, grants huge bonuses to allies within the radius of the buff effect, and sizeable penalties to any enemies within its AoE. While her defense will drop to 0 or close to it, Shale gets a sizeable armour bonus and a boost to magic resistance, while allies get pretty much all of their combat statistics boosted, along with rapid health regeneration, making Shale an alternative to having a healing mage when in this mode. Though she is immobile, the buff radius is quite large when the talent tree is maxed out, and if Stone Aura is set to be used when enemies are at short range, Shale will usually activate it in an advantageous position. Alternately, you can micromanage her to choose where to set up the buff AoE. Since Shale cannot attack in this mode, you want only enough Strength to equip her highest grade of weapon crystals and then crank the rest of your points into Constitution (Dexterity will be of little help because of the steep defense penalty in this mode, and Willpower is of minimal use due to Shale's inability to use active talents in Stone Aura). Your goal is to be a wall of well-armoured, rapidly regenerating hit points, so that you can keep the buff up as long as possible even under enemy attacks. Though her armour is very high in this mode, Shale will still need protection because she is a sitting duck in this mode and, as you get further in the game, enemies tend to have a lot of ways to get around armour and still cause high damage. Recommended crystal type: Nature (a must for the weapon crystal for the health regen bonus; large crystal provides nice armour bonuses), Spirit (for spell resistance) Shale's Equipment Shale's crystals have five grades rather than the typical seven which are, from worst to best: chipped, flawed, clear, flawless, brilliant. Any crystals of chipped or flawed grade only cause or protect from the corresponding elemental damage and have no other characteristics. However, from clear grade upward, each crystal type grants numerous bonuses to fit the roles they were designed for. These are outlined below. SMALL CRYSTALS All small crystals convert Shale's damage to the corresponding elemental type, and provide a % damage bonus to that elemental type. Stat to equip: Strength (38 for brilliant grade) Fire: bonuses to % melee critical chance and % weapon damage. Ice: bonuses to armour penetration and % critical/backstab damage. Lightning: bonuses to Dexterity and attack.

Nature: bonuses to Constitution and health regeneration in combat. Spirit: bonuses to all stats and armour penetration. LARGE CRYSTALS All large crystals provide a bonus to resistance against the corresponding element. Stat to equip: Constitution (38 for brilliant grade) Fire: bonuses to Strength, defense, and stamina regeneration in combat. Ice: bonuses to health regeneration, defense, and % healing effects received. Lightning: bonuses to Dexterity, % chance to dodge attacks, and chance to avoid missile attacks. Nature: bonuses to Constitution, armour, and physical resistance. Spirit: bonuses to all stats, % spell resistance, and mental resistance. Pros: + Extremely versatile in what roles she can fill in your party + Very sturdy and tough to kill in the early to mid game (less so in the late game when dodging starts to matter more than hit points and armour) + Ability to pick and choose elemental damage types and resistances to fit the situation + Ability to easily customize stat bonuses by adaptively swapping gear + Can replace mage healers with the Stone Aura mode + Some of the best dialogue BioWare's ever written + Very low maintenance when it comes to approval Cons: - Lack of gear slots causes Shale to get a little bit overshadowed in the end game - Carrying around a good variety of crystals for Shale to use takes up a fair bit of inventory space - Many of Shale's modes come with significant drawbacks - Small crystals do not have rune slots 5.9 - Oghren [DAOS5.9] Race: Dwarf Base Class: Warrior Specialization: Berserker Most Appropriate Build Archetype(s): Two-Hander Best Default Tactic Set(s): Scrapper Romance?: No Bonus Stat: Constitution Where to get him: Can be recruited during the A Paragon of Her Kind quest Gift Hint: Oghren likes to hang out at Tapster's. You figure out the rest. A disgraced member of the warrior caste, Oghren has turned increasingly to alcohol-soaked brooding since his wife and his house abandoned him to venture into the Deep Roads a few years beforehand. His main goal is to reunite with his wife and try to convince her to return to Orzammar with him, though he has never had the resources to carry out any such expedition. Oghren generally doesn't concern himself overly with right or wrong choices, or good and evil, preferring to solve most problems by drowning them in drink or flying into a berserk rage and introducing them to the business end of his weapon. Despite his downward spiral, he is still a formidable and talented warrior with valuable knowledge and insights.

Oghren, to an even greater degree than Sten because you get him later in the game, is kitted out to be a two-hander warrior. He starts with a solid selection of talents, and his specialization is a great compliment to his role. You'll mainly want to focus on Strength with Oghren, since he already starts with fairly high Constitution and will gain more as his approval rises. As a dwarf, he also comes with the ever-handy innate 10% chance to resist any hostile magic. That combined with the ability to have two specializations gives him an edge over Sten in this role. Champion is a great choice for a second specialization for Oghren, to allow him a little group buffing ability, and Reaver can work decently too for a little extra damage and self-healing. Pros: + Starts with a solid two-hand warrior talent set + Full of personality with great dialogue + Dwarf, so you get 10% free spell resistance + Very low maintenance when it comes to his approval of your actions Cons: - Very little flexibility - you're basically stuck with two-handers unless you want to nerf yourself - Overlaps in niche with Sten

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SPOILER ALERT !!!

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5.10 - Loghain [DAOS5.10] Race: Human Base Class: Warrior Specialization: Champion Most Appropriate Build Archetype(s): Tank Best Default Tactic Set(s): Defender Romance?: No Bonus Stat: Constitution Where to get him: allow him to go through a Joining after defeating him at the Landsmeet

Gift Hint: Loghain is a consummate military general and strategist, and what does every strategist need before the battle? Loghain spends the vast majority of the game being your primary antagonist, doing whatever he can to make the last remaining Grey Wardens quite miserable. Though he is a military hero and a brilliant tactician, Loghain is somewhat out of his element in political circles, and makes many poor decisions, often at the urging of the corrupt Arl Howe. He is a warrior first and foremost, and is at his best when he can focus on battle to the exclusion of other more trifling matters. Loghain doesn't really approve of or object to anything, since there's not much game left by the time he's joined you. You'll have to gain approval primarily through gifts and a few limited dialogue options. Fundamentally, what's most important to Loghain is Ferelden's independence, especially from the Orlesians, which is no surprise given his background. Loghain is fundamentally a shield tank, though he needs a fair bit of work to really get up to snuff in this role. Unfortunately, since you gain him so late in the game, you don't have much time to pull this off. Loghain suffers from a general under-abundance of Strength and, more importantly, Dexterity, and a bit of an overabundance of Willpower. Granted, this lets him use important talents such as Taunt more often, but it has unfortunately taken away vital stat points from Dexterity. Oh well, gotta work with what you have. Another major shortcoming to Loghain's talent set is that he may not have Shield Wall yet. This should absolutely be the first talent you grab whenever he levels up next if he does not have it. Do your best to mould him into the tank build in the time you have left before the final confrontation, and he'll serve decently enough. Good second specialization choices are Reaver for holding hostility and self-healing, or possibly Templar for some nice anti-mage abilities and gear options. Pros: + Starts with a decent set of armour + Relatively simple approval-wise + Can use full-powered Champion buffs right off the bat Cons: - Extremely low flexibility - Have to lose Alistair to get him - Starts with a suboptimal stat spread for a tank - Missing a few key talents despite his high level - Can be tricky to get his approval up to a high level before the end of the game.

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