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 Dragon Age - Origins Class and Character Building Guide

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

- The Dragon Age Wiki for some supplementary info
- The Gamebanshee Dragon Age database for brushing up on some gear stats

Please follow GameFAQs' rules and guidelines regarding how this FAQ can and
should be used. They're kind enough to provide such a lovely resource for us
all at no cost, after all. If you borrow from it, it'd be nice if you give
credit where credit's due :)

Comments and corrections can be sent to bturnereebATgmailDOTcom.

                     Table of Contents and Navigation

Section I: General Starting Class Overview [DAOS1.0]
     1.1 - The Warrior [DAOS1.1]
     1.2 - The Rogue [DAOS1.2]
     1.3 - The Mage [DAOS1.3]

Section II: Class Specializations [DAOS2.0]
     2.1 - Warrior Specializations [DAOS2.1]
     2.2 - Rogue Specializations [DAOS2.2]
     2.3 - Mage Specializations [DAOS2.3]

Section III: Building the Warden [DAOS3.0]
     3.1 - The Tank [DAOS3.1]
     3.2 - The Two-Hander [DAOS3.2]
     3.3 - The Dual Wielder [DAOS3.3]
     3.4 - The Archer [DAOS3.4]
     3.5 - A Preface on Mage Builds [DAOS3.5]
     3.6 - The Nuker [DAOS3.6]
     3.7 - The Support Healer [DAOS3.7]
     3.8 - The Debilitator [DAOS3.8]
     3.9 - The Spellsword [DAOS3.9]
     3.10 - A Quick Guide to Spell Combos [DAOS3.10]

Section IV: Noteworthy Gear [DAOS4.0]
     4.1 - Amulets, Belts, and Rings [DAOS4.1]
     4.2 - Mage Armour [DAOS4.2]
     4.3 - Light Armour [DAOS4.3]
     4.4 - Medium Armour [DAOS4.4]
     4.5 - Heavy Armour [DAOS4.5]
     4.6 - Massive Armour [DAOS4.6]
     4.7 - Shields [DAOS4.7]
     4.8 - Waraxes, Maces, and Longswords [DAOS4.8]
     4.9 - Battleaxes, Greatswords, and Mauls [DAOS4.9]
     4.10 - Bows [DAOS4.10]
     4.11 - Daggers and Staves [DAOS4.11]

Section V: Building and Developing Your Team [DAOS5.0]
     5.1 - Alistair [DAOS5.1]
     5.2 - Morrigan [DAOS5.2]
     5.3 - The Dog [DAOS5.3]
     5.4 - Leliana [DAOS5.4]
     5.5 - Sten [DAOS5.5]
     5.6 - Zevran [DAOS5.6]
     5.7 - Wynne [DAOS5.7]
     5.8 - Shale [DAOS5.8]
     5.9 - Oghren [DAOS5.9]
     5.10 - Final character **SPOILER ALERT** [DAOS5.10]


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.

+ 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

- 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

+ A lot of versatility in roles and combat style
+ Tons of utility
+ Great survivability if built correctly
+ Best skill users of any class

- 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).

+ 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

- 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.


Class specializations become available at levels 7 and 14. All humanoid
characters other than Sten can learn 2 specializations, though only the PC
actually gets to pick both, as the others generally start with one. Level
requirements for each talent are in parentheses.

2.1 - Warrior Specializations [DAOS2.1]


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

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.


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.


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
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.


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]


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.


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.


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
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.


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]


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
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.


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
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.


Source: Taught by the Desire demon possessing Connor
Bonuses: +2 Constitution, +2 spellpower

Unbeatable for sheer offensive potential, Blood Mage is the way to go if you
want your mage to just be a spellcasting powerhouse. Be cautious when using
Blood abilities, though, as they have significant penalties that can result
in disaster if employed at inopportune times. If you like to nuke things into
oblivion while hanging well back from the front lines, this specialization
was made for you.

Blood Mage talents:

Blood Magic (7) - a sustained self-buff that uses hit points rather than mana
to cast spells, and reduces the effectiveness of any healing spells or items
used on you to 10% of their normal strength. The health cost of the spell is
20% lower than its mana cost, and can be further reduced by Blood Mage-
specific items found in the game.
Blood Sacrifice (12) - heals the caster by sucking life force out of an ally.
Can only be used when Blood Magic is active, and does not suffer the 90%
healing penalty, but can kill the ally. A ranger's pets can be used as a
'battery' of sorts for a Blood Mage ally with this ability. It's easier to
manage than it sounds, as damage to your ally never exceeds 50 points, and
you gain 2 hit points for every 1 drained.
Blood Wound (14) - one of the most powerful crowd control spells in the game,
Blood Wound paralyzes all enemies in a large AoE and inflicts a very strong
DoT. Since Blood Mages tend to stack their Magic stat, this is nearly
impossible to resist. Blood Magic must be active, and enemies without blood
(such as golems) are unaffected. Used wisely, this attack can turn normally
difficult encounters into a joke.
Blood Control (16) - allows you to turn an enemy into a temporary ally if
they fail a mental resistance check. Depends on whether or not these
abilities are your cup of tea.


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.


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
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.
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
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.


Champion - a great choice if you want to support your party. The bonus to
defense will also help out your tanking, and War Cry can aid your
survivability and crowd control.
Templar - Cleanse Area is always useful, but probably the best thing about
this specialization is some of the gear it unlocks. A favourite for tanks.
Reaver - useful for the corpse eating heal (particularly if you have no mage
healer) and the boost to Threaten and Taunt. The last two abilities probably
shouldn't be used.
Berserker - probably the least useful specialization for a tank. Doing damage
isn't really your job.

General stat spread:

Strength: 42 modified
Dexterity: as high as possible
Willpower: 20-30ish modified depending on how much you like using active talents
Magic: 20ish modified
Cunning: 16 base
Constitution: 30ish modified

The general idea with tank stats is that you want to focus on Strength first,
so that you can start wearing heavier armours as soon as possible. If you
have the Blood Dragon Armour DLC, then this can allow you to get into a very
nice set of armour quite early on in the game, which will do wonders for your
durability. While investing in Dexterity or Constitution early on would do
more to keep you alive during the first few levels, it's a worse option in
the end. A lot of the other stat recommendations I listed can be fulfilled
simply by doing the Broken Circle quest and getting all the permanent stat
bonuses there. Willpower and Magic are really totally up to you, depending on
how much you use stamina and how important you think it is to get more or
less healing from poultices. Cunning should be 16 base so that you can max
out any skill you want, like Coercion; anything above that is up to you.
Constitution is also largely up to personal taste; some people like to put a
lot of CON onto tanks, but in general, it's not as helpful as you might
think. Each point of CON only gives you a 5 hp boost, which is pretty paltry
and generally only delaying the inevitable in a tough fight. By contrast,
high Dexterity can turn your tank into an unholy walking wall. Great dodging
ability from a combination of Dexterity and boosts from your sustained shield
abilities will mean that on top of your spectacularly high armour absorption
value, you're also difficult to hit. When I've played around with stacking
DEX versus stacking CON, I've found DEX does a lot more to keep my tank alive
than CON does. You can actually achieve very high defense values with a DEX-
stacked shieldtank.

Difficulty rating:

Early game - Hard
Mid game - Average to easy
Late game - Very easy

3.2 - The Two-Hander

Two-Hander builds tend to be designed to do as much single-hit melee damage
as possible, while having enough survivability to live to tell about it
afterward. On top of having great damage output, you can make use of heavy
armours and gain yourself a respectable hit point pool to keep you going
after a hard knock or two. The Two-Hander also excels at inflicting debuffs
on tough single targets, like bosses, while being highly resistant to status
effects yourself. Add in a little crowd control and AoE capability into the
mix, and you have a melee force to be reckoned with. You will be focusing a
fair bit on your activated talents, as spike damage is truly where this build
excels. Because of your painfully long swing time, you really don't want to
rely on autoattacks any more than you absolutely have to; stamina management
to keep dishing out active talents is key in this build.

Base Class: Warrior. The other two don't make sense because you can't learn
any two-handed talents.

Critical talents:

Powerful - armour and hit points will be your major way of living through
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
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

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.


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
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

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
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.


Duelist: An excellent choice. Keen Defense will give a nice boost to your
survivability, and Pinpoint Strike will let you shred even backstab-immune
targets with ease.
Assassin: Another excellent choice. The various boosts to your damage will
all let you do your job better.
Bard: Not a bad choice if you want to support your group while also fighting,
but not nearly as complimentary as Duelist or Assassin.
Ranger: The powers of this specialization generally won't help you all that
much. Not useless, but not a great synergy either.

General stat spread:

Strength: 20 modified (22 if you want to use Cadash Stompers)
Dexterity: as high as you can get it
Willpower: pure personal preference
Magic: irrelevant
Cunning: at least 30 modified
Constitution: irrelevant

Since patch 1.02, I feel that there's only one good way to go with the dual
wielding rogue: a pair of good daggers and as much DEX as you can humanly
cram onto yourself. With Lethality, the only thing you need Strength for is
equipping items. You can wear any drakeskin leather armour with 20 Strength,
so that's where you should cut it off. Willpower will depend entirely on how
much you like using activated talents - this build can work fine either
skillspamming or almost purely relying on autoattacks from Momentum. Magic
only boosts your poultice healing, which shouldn't really be necessary, and
you shouldn't be getting damaged enough to warrant boosting Constitution.
You'll likely want 30 modified Cunning so that you can disarm any trap and
pick any lock in the game, as well as giving you a boost to other relevant
skills like Coercion and Stealing. Cunning will also help your armour
penetration, though that'll already be pretty good thanks to dagger stats,
and with Lethality it'll also give you a general damage boost. If you chose
Bard as one of your specializations, you may wish to raise Cunning higher to
boost your buff strength. With Dexterity as your stat focus and a good set of
gear, you'll find that both your damage output and your dodge tanking ability
will both be extremely high, making all but the toughest fights a breeze to
waltz through. This build is easily one of the most potent in the game. Pop
into stealth, disarm any traps waiting for you, and walk behind the target
you want to neutralize first (mages are always a good choice). Move your
party's tank into view, pop out of stealth, stun your target and watch the
backstabs fly.

Difficulty rating:

Early game - Average
Mid game - Average to easy
Late game - Very easy

3.3b - The Warrior Duel Wielder

This build is similar to the rogue version, but will have some noticeable
differences. Because you do not have backstabs to supplement your damage, you
will be focusing more on head on combat and making your normal strikes as
effective as possible. Also as a result of losing backstabs (and, by
extension, losing extremely high damage output from well-placed autoattacks),
you will be more focused on active skill use in this build than in the rogue
build, making Willpower proportionally more important. Having high Strength
and two full-sized weapons will go a long way toward making up the backstab
damage deficit, and being able to use heavier armour without incurring as
much fatigue helps to offset having less dodging than your rogue counterparts.

Base Class: Warrior, obviously.

Critical talents:

Momentum - while this is somewhat less awesome without backstabbage, it's
still a cornerstone of any dual wield build. Get ASAP, unless you're planning
on using Haste all the time.
Powerful - there's really no warrior builds where this isn't a useful talent.
Less fatigue and more hit points all from an early talent is bitchin'.
The Dual Weapon talent tree - as a warrior dual wielder, you'll probably want
to get the entire thing sooner rather than later.
Riposte -  your only stun, and stuns are always useful.
Cripple - a nice debuff for taking down tough single enemies, like bosses.
Punisher - a warrior dual wielder should be able to put out a huge amount of
damage with this attack; easily one of the best spike damage talents in the
game, and a must-have for this build.
Bravery - you'll spend a fair bit of your time in the thick of it, and
Bravery will make you stronger when you are.
Death Blow - since you'll be using a lot of active talents, gaining stamina
back for killing blows will help you keep it up.
Dual Weapon Sweep - considering its low cost, short cooldown, and how early
you can get it, this is a surprisingly good talent for a little bit of
frontal arc AoE spike damage.

Good talents:

Precise Striking - this can be a good ability to throw on if you're aiming to
improve your autoattacks by boosting your critical hit rate. It's also good
for counteracting a pesky Misdirection Hex, which enemy mages love casting on
you. Note that it drops autoattack speed, though.
Dual Striking - the opposite of Precise Striking, this is a good sustained to
activate early on in the game, since you can't backstab and your critical hit
rate will be low even if you're using daggers.
Disengage - if you end up catching more hostility than you'd like, use this
to turn their attention back to the tank where it belongs.
Flurry - basic multi-hit activated damage talent.
Whirlwind - I find this talent more useful on warrior dual wielders than their
rogue equivalent. Still, considering it's an end tree talent, I find the cost-
to-damage ratio a bit on the chintzy side. At the very least, you can chip
away at that achievement.


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
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
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
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.


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
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
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
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.


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, two-
handed 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


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
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.


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
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.


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

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.


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
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.

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
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.

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.

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]


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.

+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.


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

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.


+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

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]


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.


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.


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.


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]


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.


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.


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 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.


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

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]


Ancient Elven Armour - Tier 4 (Veridium)
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

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)
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.


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

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.


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.


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]


Armour of Diligence - Tier 6 (Silverite)
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

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

Wade's Superior Dragonscale Armour - Tier 7 (Dragonbone)
SET PIECE	                          ARMOUR  FATIGUE  BONUSES
Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Armour  15.63   18.20%   +1 Stamina
			                                   +50% Fire
			                                   +25 Stamina
Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Gloves   2.50	   2.27%   +0.5 Stamina
			                                   +10% Fire
Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Boots	   3.13	   2.92%   +0.5 Stamina
			                                   +10% Fire
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.


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 for your main character, as it has low enough
Strength prereqs that even rogues can easily access it, and it gives an
excellent blend of bonuses and protective value - despite only being grey
iron, it has better armour 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.


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]


Legion of the Dead - Tier 7 (Dragonbone)
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)
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)
Juggernaut Helm	          3.15	  3.75%	  +1 Armour
			                  +10 Mental Resistance
Juggernaut Plate Armour  18.38   26.25%   +10% All Elemental
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)
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
			                                  +50% Fire Resistance
			                                  +25 Stamina
Wade's Superior Dragonbone Plate Gloves	  3.13	  3.90%	  +0.5 Stamina
			                                  +10% Fire Resistance
Wade's Superior Dragonbone Plate Boots	  3.75	  3.90%	  +0.5 Stamina
			                                  +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)
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.


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.


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]


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.


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.


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

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.


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 alternative to Duncan's Shield, available around the same time in the
game. A little less raw defense but better stamina capabilities, and the
healing boost can be quite beneficial, especially if your tank is rolling
heavier 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]


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.

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

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.


All maces have a Strength modifier of 1.00.
Defining characteristic: Far and away the best armour penetration of any one-
handed 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.

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.


All longswords have a Strength modifier of 1.00.
Defining characteristic: Excellent base damage and critical hit rate.

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.

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]


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.


All greatswords have a Strength modifier of 1.10.
Defining characteristic: Very high base damage.

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.

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


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.


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.


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

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.


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]


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-than-
normal 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

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.


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

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

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

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 warrior-
class 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).

+ 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

- 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.

+ Immensely powerful damage character
+ High versatility in build and spell choices
+ Scathing sarcasm makes for some great dialogue moments

- 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.

+ 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

- 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


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.


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

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.

+ 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

- 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
- A little slow to get started because of how many talents she needs to truly
start shining

5.5 - Sten [DAOS5.5]

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 non-
deist 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.

+ 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

- 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 low-
maintenance 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-may-
care, 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

+ 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

- 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.

+ 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

- 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
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

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.

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.

All large crystals provide a bonus to resistance against the corresponding
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.

+ 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

- Lack of gear slots causes Shale to get a little bit overshadowed in the end
- 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.

+ 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

- Very little flexibility - you're basically stuck with two-handers unless
you want to nerf yourself
- Overlaps in niche with Sten

***************  SPOILER ALERT !!!  ***************

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.

+ Starts with a decent set of armour
+ Relatively simple approval-wise
+ Can use full-powered Champion buffs right off the bat

- 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

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