Arcane Warrior Guide - Guide for Dragon Age: Origins
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========================================== Dragon Age Origins (PC): Arcane Warrior Guide, by Erik Fasterius, firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2009 Erik Fasterius ========================================== ----------------- TABLE OF CONTENTS ----------------- 1.0 INTRODUCTION Just smalltalk before we get to the good bits... 1.1 What is the Arcane Warrior? 1.2 How to use this guide 2.0 ATTRIBUTES What you need and how to allocate your points. 2.1 Strength 2.2 Dexterity 2.3 Willpower 2.4 Cunning 2.5 Magic 2.6 Constitution 2.7 Allocation 3.0 SKILLS Character fluff and optionals. 4.0 SPELLS Ah, now we're talking! The meat of the guide. 4.1 Arcane 4.2 Primal 4.3 Creation 4.4 Spirit 4.5 Entropy 4.6 Arcane Warrior Spells 5.0 SPECIALIZATIONS A choice of two: Blood Mage or Spirit Healer. 5.1 Blood Mage 5.2 Spirit Healer 5.3 Shapeshifter (and why it's worthless) 6.0 COMPANIONS The tactical aspects - trying to keep it spoiler free. 7.0 COMBAT & TACTICS You've got your build, but how do you use it? 7.1 Using spells efficiently 7.2 Weapons 7.3 General Combat 8.0 PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER What does YOUR Arcane Warrior look like? 9.0 SPOILERS If you don't want the story ruined, don't read this. 9.1 Unlocking Arcane Warrior 9.2 Unlocking Blood Mage 9.3 Unlocking Spirit Healer and Ranger 9.4 Items 9.5 The Mage Tower 9.6 Tome Locations 10.0 SOLOING Nightmare too easy? (includes some spoilers) 10.1 Background 10.2 Build 10.3 Tactics 11.0 CREDITS, VERSION HISTORY, ETC The boring bits... 11.1 Credit where credit is due 11.2 Who can use this guide? 11.3 Version History ---------------- 1.0 INTRODUCTION ---------------- Alright, welcome to the guide! I'm Erik, just some guy from Sweden spending perhaps too much time playing games when he should be studying... I enjoy making guides, I've made a couple, mostly these type of character building guides. It's my way to give back to the community, where I lurk from time to time. You'll rarely, if ever, see me post anything in the forums, but sometimes a guide like this pops up from nowhere. 1.1 What is the Arcane Warrior? ------------------------------- Remeber seeing that specialization for the first time? "A mage, using armour and wielding weapons? Yeah, that's not right..." And you quickly dismissed it for being utterly useless. Well, let me tell you, it's far from useless! The Arcane Warrior is THE best fortified class in the game, easily surpassing warriors and other mages alike in terms of pure survivability. It has tons of armour, defense and all types of resistances! And don't forget the spells... The Arcane Warrior is an interesting combination of concepts. It blends, quite seamlessly, the spells of a mage and the survivability of a warrior. Massive armour, damage from both spells and melee prowess and utility abilities makes the Arcane Warrior one of the most versatile classes in Dragon Age: Origins (henceforth DA:O). It does require some careful planning and tinkering for it to work, though, and that's what this guide is for! 1.2 How to use this guide ------------------------- This is a guide. Not a step-by-step build, set in stone. Not a walkthrough. A guide to help you build your OWN Arcane Warrior, not someone else's. This is a collection of thoughts and ideas on the class from my points of view, and I'm pretty sure there are a bunch of other, equally valid views, other than mine. Keep this in mind when you're reading! I'll gladly accept any other tips and tricks you might know that I don't! Feel free to send me a mail with anything you think might be added to what's already written here. Praise and constructive critisism isn't also most welcome. But, please, DO NOT ask me about the story, some quest, choice or "How do I find X?", pretty please! This is NOT a walkthrough! There are the forums for that... You can find my email at the top of this page. You can easily search through this guide by using CTRL+F and a search word. All the sections have numbers associated with them, for easier reference. One last note before we get into the guide itself is that I'm playing on a PC. If there are variations from the PC and XBOX/PS3, then what you play on and what I've written here might not coincide. Let me know if there ARE such differences. With all that said, let's just straight in! -------------- 2.0 ATTRIBUTES -------------- Ok, you've just started your character, how do you allocate your attributes? Well, an Arcane Warrior can, depending on second specialization, need a bit of it all... 2.1 Strength ------------ You don't need ANY strength! Not one point. This is one of the beauties of the Arcane Warrior; your first specialization skill gives you a passive ability to use your Magic stat instead of Strength for determining whether or not you can equip your armour or weapons. So, no points here! 2.2 Dexterity ------------- This is a bit trickier. One of the drawbacks of an Arcane Warrior is your hit- rate. You'll find yourself missing your enemies quite alot in the beginning, as Magic won't contribute to your attack stat as for strength would for normal melee classes. However, with all the buffs and goodies you'll have later on you will probably get by quite alright without putting any points into Dexterity. Still, a few points might be just what you need if you feel your hit-rate really lacking. Get a feel for your character, and wait until you've got most of your sustainables before you start putting points here. 2.3 Willpower ------------- Ah, the great balancing act of mana and sustainables, this is where it's all at. The Arcane Warrior fights with his sustainable spells rather than throwing lots of spells around all the time, which means his effective mana pool will be more like a mana puddle, regardless of how much Willpower he has. What you need to consider here is how many sustainables you will be using regularly and how much mana to spare you want in terms of utility and *oh, crap!*-effectiveness. For a Blood Mage, however, you won't need this as much, since you can cast your spells from your hit points instead of from your mana (more on this later). Make sure you can use all the sustainables you want, and that's it. For those that aren't Blood Mages having a bit more Willpower can never be a bad thing. Don't neglect this stat, or you'll find yourself not only not being able to cast any spell, but you won't even be able to activate your sustainables! A Blood Mage might end up with around 20-30 Willpower, and other mages somewhere above that. There are items in the game that increases your mana, however, and these are CRITICAL for the Arcane Warrior. You can read about some of these down in the Spoilers section. 2.4 Cunning ----------- You won't need this at all, leave it to the rogues. The only reason to have any points here at all would be the Coercion skill, and for that you'll not need much. 2.5 Magic --------- This is your Strength. With enough Magic you can equip any armour and weapon in the game without having to use Strength at all. Magic is also needed to be able to learn most of the spells. The biggest and best armours require 42 Magic. Magic also affects how much Spellpower you get. I'm not 100% sure on this, but I believe that Spellpower is calculated as [Magic - 10]. This means that when increasing Magic by one, you will also increase Spellpower by one. Spellpower is important to you as it'll increase both your damage with spells (and their general effectiveness as well) AND your melee damage. You should aim for somewhere around 40-50 in the Magic attribute. 2.6 Constitution ---------------- The effectiveness of this attribute is greatly dependent on your second choice of specialization. (You can read about the other specializations below). Blood Mages need this attribute quite alot, as it powers their spellcasting, but Spirit Healers will have enough healing to be able to have less hit points to play around with. Still, any character will want SOME Constitution, or they won't survive long enough to get a heal. Blood Mages should pour everything into Constitution that they don't need for their other attributes. Plan ahead! 2.7 Allocation -------------- So, you know how much of the attributes you need, but WHEN do you need them? Well, keep in mind that for at least the first 7 levels, you are a normal mage. You'll be using a staff and casting spells like any other mage. This means that you need Magic and Willpower. You probably want to spike your Magic the first few levels to gain access to the spells you want and add a sprinkle of Willpower at the same time. You should leave the rest of the attributes until later. As you gain levels, continue to add points into Magic and Willpower until you reach your goal. If you need more +attack, add some Dexterity, but don't do this until you've got all your sustainables, so you know whether or not you actually NEED the +attack, or if it was just because you lacked a level or two. If you're going the Blood Mage route you really don't need to start to add any points to Constitution until level 10+, as you won't use it much until then. You should, however, add a few points in the early levels for all characters, just for added general survivability. If you're going to be using the Coercion skill, only add Cunning to those levels where you get a skill point. You might consider going to the Circle of Mages as your first (or second, depending on what you have unlocked) stop after Lothering just for the attribute increases for this reason, so you won't have to add any more Cunning than you need. ---------- 3.0 SKILLS ---------- Ok, this is the shortest section of the guide, simply because skills aren't that big of a deal in DA:O. They're the "other" stuff of your character, some skills that you can do on the side of your normal combat skills. Mages only get one skill per three levels, meaning you can max about two of them. Now, the Combat Training skills will give you some small amount of mana regen (rank 2) and decreased chance of loosing a spell from being hit while casting. This is semi-useful, having a spell fizzle really is annoying, especially when you don't cast that many spells to begin with. Poison Making is the only other skill that's actually very good for your Arcane Warrior. You can throw some splash-damage around, plus having more damage on your weapons can't be bad, can it? As for the rest of the skills, they're all kind of *meh*. Coercion is good if you want those extra dialogue options, although I have to say that the skill disappointed me in not doing as much for DA:O as similar skill does for other RPGs. Stealing, Survival, Herbalism, Trap-making and Combat Tactics are even more of *meh*. An Arcane Warrior don't need more Tactic slots, you're just going to be auto-attacking anyway, and when you need to do something other than auto-attack, you really shouldn't do it via tactics, but rather do it manually. Herbalism and Trap-making you can leave to some companion, the same goes for Stealing. I don't really get survival, to be honest. It seems so redundant, I never had a problem seeing the enemies on my minimap. And it's not as if you'll need the extra resistance you get from the last rank... Basicly, pick whatever you like, the differences are marginal. ---------- 4.0 SPELLS ---------- This is not a list of ALL the spells in DA:O, just those that I feel are in some way or another useful for an Arcane Warrior. There are of course different play- styles other than my own, and so I've tried my best to include them as well, to the best of my ability. If your favourite spell isn't in this list, feel free to send me a mail and explain to me what a numbskull I am for not using it! And, please, tell me WHY it's your favourite spell! I also try to include some explanation why I don't like some of the spells that might seem good. The key to playing an Arcane Warrior is sustained spells. Since you'll be using the heaviest of the heavy armour and weapons, you'll fatigue will be through the roof, meaning less spells to cast. The best way to counter this is to not use your mana actively, but rather through the sustained spells. You'll have so many buffs, so much armour and defense that you'll rarely get hit and take quit small amounts of damage when you do. Your resistances will be at the top as well - in short, you're the perfect tank. You're still quite proficient at dealing damage, and you can pop the occasional spell when the need arise. Think of the Arcane Warrior as a utility-tank with excellent damage capabilites. Your biggest problem will be to hold aggro - more on this later. There have been quite a few mails asking about using the Arcane Warrior as a "normal" mage, meaning casting more spells and dealing destruction with magic rather than your sword. Well, sure you CAN, but why would you want to? If you want a pure spellcaster, just go with a Blood Mage/Spirit Healer, that'll be MUCH better for those purposes than an Arcane Warrior could ever be. Not using the Arcane Warrior to the limits of the class' potential seems a bit wasteful. Keep in mind that starting a fight with all your sustainables activated might not be the brightest idea, you will want to cast what spells you can BEFORE activating them (more on this in the Tactics section). Keep in mind that you can only have a sustained spell on if you have enough mana to activate it in the first place. This means than you probably won't be able to have ALL of your sustainables activated all the time. Some you'll have activated all the time, some varies from fight to fight, and some will be very situational indeed. Don't be afraid to switch in the middle of a fight! One thing that an Arcane Warrior has to keep in mind when choosing spells, and this is quite important, is if the spell in question requires you to sheathe your weapons to cast it or not. This is one of the things the normal, staff- wielding mages don't need to worry about, as it doesn't apply to staffs. You, on the other hand, might have to sheathe your weapons when you want to use certain spells. This may or may not be a big issue for you, depending on your playstyle. Spells with a * next to their name CAN NOT be caster with your weapons drawn. A quick note on Weapon Enhancements: you can only have one activated at a time, but you can benefit from several if you aren't the only mage in the party. 4.1 Arcane Spells ----------------- This is quite a small tree - only four spells. Arcane Bolt - You'll get this one for free at level one. It's a cheap spell, mana-wise, and very good for those levels before you actually get the Arcane Warrior Specialization. This is one of the spells that DOESN'T require you to sheathe your weapons to use, which is very nice. You can use it as a way to pull more enemies to you, while you hack away at those in front of you. Arcane Shield - This is going to be one of your bread-and-butter spells, once you get the AW specialization. More defense = not being hit so often = good. Relatively cheap upkeep and quick cast time. Staff Focus is useless to you, since you wont' be using staffs. Arcane Mastery, on the other hand, might be useful. +5 Spellpower is +5 Spellpower, but is it worth the two points needed to get it? No, not in my opinion. However, if you find yourself without any spells you want when you've got all the other spells you want at high level, this might be a place to spend them. 4.2 Primal Spells ----------------- This is the more obvious damage-tree of the mages' spells. Quite a few Area of Effect spells (AoE from here on) plus some weapon enhancements and miscellaneous utility spells makes it a quite well-rounded tree. Flaming Weapons - This would be the most powerful weapon enhancement in terms of pure damage. At higher levels you'll see damage well above 10 for each hit, which isn't something to sneeze at. You'll probably find yourself having this on all the time - I know I can't live without it! Fireball * - This is one of those spells I can't decide on. It's a big AoE spell with knockdown and good damage, but it'll require you to sheathe your weapon. One of the things Arcane Warriors lack is ways of grabbing and keeping threat on enemies and Fireball is a great way to do just that. There are, however, better spells for this later on, especially if you decide to become a Blood Mage. If you got points to spare, this is a good pick anyday. Rock Armour - Another bread-and-butter spell: more armour makes you take less damage when you get hit. Stone Fist * - Some like to use this spell on frozen targets for the possibility of a shatter, which seems to work well. One thing, though, is that you won't have mana to use this spell consistently, and is thus better used on your other mages, should you want to. Frost Weapons - Another weapon enhancement spell. While not doing as much damage as the fire version, this is still a very handy spell to have. Quite alot of enemies are either immune or resistant to fire, so having some frost to balance it out is a good idea, especially on one of your companions. Frost Weapons also slows enemies hit, but not by much. You'll have Miasma, so this is a minor point, but worth mentioning nevertheless. Cone of Cold * - Another AoE spell, with the same problems as with the Fireball spell. Cone of Cold has a lesser area of effect but in turn freezes your targets, which may in turn shatter the enemies on potential critical hits. A good pick, if you have points to spare. The rest of the spells in this tree is either pure damage, utility or some mix of them both. You, however, won't have the mana to take advantage of either, so save them for your companions. 4.3 Creation Spells ------------------- This is more of a support-and-utility tree with a good mix of spells. While only a few are useful for an Arcane Warrior, some of the other spells are certainly worthwhile to have on one or two of your companions! Heal - This is the first healing spell in the game, and quite useful. You won't have enough mana to consistently heal, but you'll find yourself in moments when you sigh in relief in taking the spell as a single, well-places heal saves the life of the party. This is one of the things the Arcane Warrior excells at: emergency healing and utility. A must-have. In fact, every mage in your party should have it! Haste - This is a tricky one... Haste is one of the better spells out there in terms of just increasing your auto- attack damage (even with the attack penality), but it costs four points to get, three of them more or less useless and at best very situational spells! However, it is quite beneficial to let one of your companions use Haste instead of yourself. Maybe one of your companions starts with one or two of the prerequisite spells...? One thing to consider, though, is that Haste stacks up to two instances, meaning that if you only have two mages in your group (including you) it's a very good pick, still. Glyph of Warding - This is quite an awesome spell for those hard-hitting bosses, or for when your tank it surrounded by alot of enemies. While it's radius is quite small, it'll give you a whooping +30 defense while inside! This means you will survive the first onslaught of enemies and thin their numbers enough so that when the spell's duration is up you won't have any problem with the remaining enemies. Glyph of Repulsion - This is an excellent spell all on it's own, but it can also synergize with Glyph of Paralysis, the first spell in the Glyph line. While casting one on top of the other it'll create a big AoE stun. This can be really good in keeping all those pesky archers at bay. An even better tactic is to throw up a Repulsion Glyph (giving enemies a hard time to move through it), wait for it's duration to almost end, and THEN throw a Glyph of Paralysis on top of it. This is a VERY good crowd controlling combo. already known? Hm... Spell Wisp - More spellpower is never a bad thing, and this comes quite cheap as well. I haven't used this much myself, as the balance of mana and sustainables is quite a hard to maintain. This'll become much more useful if you become a Blood Mage as your second specialization. The rest of the healing spells are good, but not your for, you won't have the mana to use them. I highly recommend having at least one of your companions have them all, though, they'll get you through some of the harder fights. I haven't used the Glyph spells much myself, so I can't really give any advice on them, other than that you (yet again) won't have the mana to use them. Feel free to email me if feel you got something to contribute to this! 4.4 Spirit Spells ----------------- This is one of the more useful trees, if not only because it's got Crusing Prison and Force Field in it, but also a bunch of really good utility spells. Mind Blast * - This is both an excellent "Oh, crap!"-spell and a great aggro spell. While it won't distract already engaged enemies all too well, it's a great way to grab that initial threat. You will need to sheathe your weapons, though. All mages should have this spell! Force Field - Wow! This is the second best spell in the game! This spell will make an impossible fight into a cake-walk. Since all your mages already has Mind Blast (right? =P), they might as well get this one as well. Telekinetic Weapons - The last of the wapon enhancements, this one doesn't add any "pure" damage, but rather increases it by increasing your armour penetration. One of your mages must have this for the many heavily-armoured enemies you'll find in DA:O. Crushing Prison - Yup, this is the best spell in the game. It's like Force Field, except it does damage as well! Your Arcane Warrior really should have the whole Mind Blast line just for this, it's that good. Often you'll just start a fight by throwing Crushing Prison on the most powerful enemy in sight, Force Field on another, and then hack away. Another excellent feature of Crushing Prison is that it'll generate additional threat. You might even want this on your companion mages as well. At first glance, Death Syphon might seem useful. Think about it, though. You'll start fights by using the spells you want, activate all your sustainables, and your mana pool will barely be a puddle. What use is there to replenish what little mana you have? You won't be able to cast any spells consistently anyway. Your mana should be saved for those sink-or-swim moments when you really need it, and you won't need to replenish it, it'll do that for itself. Besides, the Fade Shroud (last of the Arcane Warrior spells) gives you enough mana for your regenerative needs. 4.5 Entropy Spells ------------------ This is a utility-heavy tree, mixed with some potentially very damaging combos. While not many spells are useful for your Arcane Warrior, some might be quite the pick for your companions. Miasma - Another excellent sustained spell. Less attack means that both you and your party will get hit less and less defense means that you'll hit your enemies more often! The possible movement penalities are just the icing on the cake. It's well worth the high mana cost! Death Hex * - This spells totally depends on your party configuration. If you have a lot of people hitting your enemies with physical attacks, it's a death sentance for whomever you put it on, but if you've got more mages in your group it might be a waste. You alone hitting on a monster is not enough to warrent use of this spell. The prerequisites aren't horrible, but is more suited for a companion. Something to think about, at least. Drain Life * - This is a handy spell to have for those moments when you really need it, and it's very useful in the beginning of the game. Death Magic - Another sustained, this one a bit more situational. It's quite useful when you're surrounded but alot of enemies hitting away at you as it'll increase your survivability and reduce the need for healing, but it really needs quite alot of corpses to be of real use. Sleep * - Another excellent crowd control spell, as if we needed any more! There's quite alot of enemies in the game that it won't affect, however, so it's more situational than most spells. Synergized very well with Horror. Horror * - This is only useful on targets that are already affected by the Sleep spell, but when hit on such a target, it really does shine with a huge amount of damage. This is an excellent combo to take out enemy mages with. You should probably save these for one of your companions, though, you have other, more important spells to cast. 4.6 Arcane Warrior Spells ------------------------- You'll max this tree, there's nothing more to it. Grab the next spell in line as soon as you can, they are too excellent to wait for! As for passive bonuses, the Arcane Warrior will get +5 to hit and +1 to Dexterity. Combat Magic - Ok, so except from making the Magic attribute your new Strength, this spell will increase your attack and damage and is the thing that allows you to melee. What Did you choose this specialisation for? Combat Magic. You might not want to jump straight into armour and sword as soon as you get this spell, however, as your attack and threat generation might still be lacking. Try it out and get a feeling for wether you should wait or start using it straight away. Aura of Might - Combat Magic gains more bonuses? Great! Shimmering Shield - You're now a powerhouse. This should be active at ALL times. Armour, damage resistance AND all the other resistances tied together into one, neat spell. What's not to love? Fade Shroud - More bonuses for Combat Magic? Yup. The increased mana regeneration is marginally useful for you and your mana puddle, but the increased chance to avoid attacks makes your already nigh-unhittable ass even more solid. A quick note on the 1.02 patch: Shimmering Shield now deactivates when you've depleted your mana. This is not a nerf, this is a bugfix: Shimmering Shield is the only spell that required mana to use and DIDN'T deactivate when you went to zero mana. The Arcane Warrior is as powerful as ever, you'll just need a bit different tactics as to when and where to use Shimmering Shield. With the right equipment you can still have it active more or less all the time. ------------------- 5.0 SPECIALIZATIONS ------------------- Well, obviously you'll pick the Arcane Warrior as your first specialization, but what about the second? There really are only two to pick from, as Shapeshifter is totally useless. Blood Mage is more offensive and synergizes well with your mana puddle while Spirit Healer gives you more healing capabilities and general survivability. 5.1 Blood Mage -------------- This is, in my opinion, the best specialization for an Arcane Warrior, as it perfecly offsets all it's drawbacks, namely it's mana. With Blood magic, you won't have to worry about mana, you can cast any spell you want, as long as you have the hit points to do it. While this setup certainly is very powerful, it really does require some careful use and micromanagement. You'll be healed for less, which can be a problem, but you can fix that by going in and out of Blood Magic. This actually works, seeing as the cooldown is only 10 seconds. Passive bonuses are +2 to Constitution and Spellpower. One thing to note about the higher difficulties is that the AW/BM combo starts to lose ground to the it's Spirit Healer brothers just because of the sheer amount of damage that will be served to you on a silver platter. I still think that Blood Mage is the better specialization in terms of perfectly synergizing with the Arcane Warrior, but I've found, along with others, that it's survivability does lack that extra *oompfh* needed for Nightmare difficulty, unless you REALLY micromanage every single little move and don't use tactics at all... Blood Magic - This ability alone is reason enough to take the Blood Mage, as explained above. Careful micromanagement and planning is the key here. Blood Sacrifice - This is both a great and horrible ability. You can never get enough healing, but at what cost? If you take hit points from one of your companions, won't somebody have to heal them instead of you? However... This can be circumvented. You know that rogue specialization, Ranger, that you never thought anything about because all the others seemed to much better? Well, a for a Blood Mage, a Ranger is actually an excellent choice of companion second specialization! The Ranger can summon animals to fight for you... Which you can steal health from without any real penality! This is a very good synergy for a Blood Mage, I highly recommend it! Blood Wound - Did I say Crushing Prison was the best spell in the game? Well, yes, it is. But, this is better! It's basicly the same spell as and AoE! Watch as an entire horde of enemies halt in their progress and start to take damage. Did I mention it generates additional threat as well? So, those enemies who do survive the Blood Wound spell will most likely run straight towards you, which is exactly what you want. THIS is the best spell in the game! Blood Control - Take control of a powerful enemy and watch it tear through it's former allies, priceless. Even if it resists the spell, it'll still take damage from it. Oh, and extra threat. A Blood Mage won't need as much Willpower as other mages, because of his use of Blood Magic. Keep this in mind when allocating your attributes, just remember that you still need enough mana to be able to activate your sustainables. As a Blood Mage you will, however, need quite alot of more Constitution if you don't want to end up in micromanagement-death. 5.2 Spirit Healer ----------------- This is for you that want a less offensive Arcane Warrior, but all the more survivable. You'll get more healing, and the best healing ability in the game, a sustainable healing spell! Suits you perfectly... Passive bonuses are +2 to Magic and minor health regeneration in combat. Group Heal - This is an excellent spell for those times when you're in a pinch with several of your party members in need of a heal. A lifesaver, at times! Revival - I generally find that if you need to use this spell, you've already lost the fight, at least on the higher difficulties. Still, it's a prerequisite. Lifeward - Another healing spell, but quite situational. It's very for when you know that you'll be taking heavy damage very soon, but you'll need to plan it out ahead of time. You CAN use it for normal healing if all your other heals are on cooldown, however. Cleansing Aura - This is the reason the Spirit Healer specialization is an option to Blood Mage. It's a sustainable that heals. You'll be a walking health-dispenser, and you'll become the hardest thing to kill in the world. Keep in mind that this thing drains mana, and coupled with other sustainables (Shimmering Shield in particular) you'll more often than not find yourself out of mana quickly, if you haven't invested heavily into Willpower. The Cleansing Aura will deactivate when you've depleted your mana, so keep chugging those potions! A spirit Healer needs more Willpower than a Blood Mage if he wants to be able to cast any spells at all. Still, you probably won't need any Constitution, so it's not hard to allocate those spare points into Willpower. 5.3 Shapeshifter ---------------- Yeah... You can't use any of your other spells in any of the animal forms. There isn't really anything else to say about this specialization, it's completely and utterly useless. -------------- 6.0 COMPANIONS -------------- You are not alone... Having a good set of companions that complement you in your abilities and skills is another tactical aspect of DA:O. There are quite a few to choose from, and I'll try to give some insight into each of them in this section without giving too much away. But first, what does a good party with an Arcane Warrior look like? Well, there's you, the Arcane Warrior. What is your role? You are mainly a tank. You have some utility spells, and you can throw in the occoasional heal, should the need arise. As a Blood Mage you can do devastating damage, but require more support from your companions. As a Spirit Healer you have more of a supporting role yourself, not doing as much damage while being unparallelled at mitigating it. How do you complement to that? Well, you'll probably be wanting somebody that can heal on a more regular basis, which means another mage. You should probably throw lots of support spells on this mage as well, and not focus on dealing damage with her - the healer aggroing the enemies is never a good thing. You'll probably want a rogue as well, if only for the Lockpicking. I myself hate it when I pass a chest and can't open it, I always feel like I'm missing some good loot... A rogue is an even better choice if you go the Blood Mage route, because of the Ranger specialization. So, that's you, a mage and a rogue. The last spot? Well, that's up to you. Another rogue is kind of useless, another warrior or mage brings more to the table. A warrior will add more general survivability to the party in terms of taking more enemies. Warriors are also quite competent at dealing damage, so you won't go wrong with one. Which one you pick will largely depend on what type of Arcane Warrior you are. Another mage adds more Crushing Prisons, more Force Fields, more Heals and more weapon enhancements. They might be squishier than a warrior, and you'll find yourself fighting them for the threat quite alot of the time, but it's well worth it. This is probably the best option if you go the Blood Mage route, as you'll be needing the extra support that another mage supplies. A warrior can add more damage and more damage soaking, which is always good for the general survivability of the party. You might even opt for a second tank, so as yo spread the damage between the two of you and make the healer's day easier. This is an excellent option if you went with Spirit Healer, as you can probably supply enough heals that you won't need a full-time healer mage for the job, but rather spreading the healing out between the two of you. This works wonders with the Cleansing Aura of the Spirit Healer. There's always the Roleplaying aspect as well, you might not really want to bring a certain character because you think he or she is totally bonkers for one or two reasons. Personally, my first Arcane Warrior/Blood Mage used the Hag, the Bitch and the Annoying Accent Girl, all fighting at range with me in the melee fray. My current Arcane Warrior/Spirit Healer uses the Bitch, the Huge Boulder and the Annoying Accent Girl, yet again. -------------------- 7.0 COMBAT & TACTICS -------------------- How does an Arcane Warrior fight? How does he use his companions? What spells, and when? Here I'll lay out some examples, but you really should try to get a feel for your own character and play in the way you like best. 7.1 Using spells efficiently ---------------------------- Ok, you have your spells and you have your sustainables. How to you utilize them to their full potential? Well, starting a fight with all your sustainables activated is not the best tactic. The other extreme, having NONE of your sustainables active is equally bad! When you activate a sustained spell or ability (be it on your mage or your other companions) you drain the mana listed as "Upkeep". Most sustainables cost around 30-60 in upkeep. So, if you have full mana and activate a sustainable, your new effective maximum mana will be modified. This means that you might just have wasted 60 mana! What you do is you FIRST cast a spell (Blood Wound, Crushing Prison and Force Field are clear winners) and THEN you activate any of the sustainables you deem appropriete for the fight at hand. Even Blood Mages should start fights like this, there's no need to waste hit points on spells when you can just as easily cast them for free with your mana. As an Arcane Warrior, you will want to find a balance between sustainables and mana. You do want SOME mana free to be able to cast the occasional heal or utility spell for when you really need them, so having ALL your sustainables active at all times probably isn't a good idea. This is less of a problem for Blood Mages, of course. How much free mana you want is up to you, play around and find what works for you. When it comes to the spells that require you to sheathe your weapons you will of course want to cast them before you start fighting, as a general rule. However, sometimes you just need to get that Mind Blast off, and then there's not much to do other than to just cast it. If you start to cast a spell right the second you when you need it, however, you might find that the sheathing cost you too much time, and now you're dead. Try to plan ahead, see where the fight is going and parry it accordingly. Different spells are best suited for different types of fights and different enemies - learn them all. Some spells are excellent for general crowd control (the Glyph spells, Crushing Prison, Force Field, Cone of Cold, Blood Wound...), some are better for pure DPS (Death Hex, Fireball...) and some are best used in a combination of spells and/or talents (freezing targets, Stone Fist, Horror...) You won't be using ALL the spells listed above, but try to find your own play style, what works for YOU. Try the different spells out before you decide which ones are good and which you can leave behind! 7.2 Weapons ----------- You have NO weapon talents at all - you'll be relying solely on auto-attack. So, what weapons do you use? Well, you have the three alternatives any other melee character has: sword & shield, two handed weapons or dual wielding. The sword and shield approach is good because you gain even more survivability to you already huge pile of defense, armour and sustainables. Another great pro of using a sword and shield is that you have two spots for added stats, since both the shield and the sword more than likely have stats of their own. You can, of course, use a mace instead of a sword, if you prefer. Two-handed weapons do more damage, but hit slower. They also have better armour penetration. Hitting slowly isn't really all that good for an Arcane Warrior, seeing as you want out as much as you can get from your different weapon enhancement spells. Hitting faster means more damage, in this instance. Another reason to not use two-handed weapons is that the best weapon in the game, hands down, for an Arcane Warrior, is a one-handed sword. Dual wielding will arguably do more damage, but without the talents that other melee characters get you will probably find it lacking. So, sword and shield is probably the best way to go, with dual wielding a close second. Stay away from two-handed weapons! 7.3 General Combat ------------------ Some fights you need all the micromanagement you can possible get, others you just breeze through with a yawn. For the latter, you might even want to go in with most, if not all your sustainables activated. This is mostly applicable to the lower difficulties, as when things get tougher, you find yourself using the pause button more and more often. When it comes to boss battles or just general baddies you'll want to utilize all the mana you can before activating you sustainables. Find a balance of how many you can keep offline in the beginning of the fight for more spells to cast before going into the fray. Keep in mind that activating a sustainable isn't instant, you need to stand still and actually wait for it to activate first. If you have six sustainables to activate while the boss is running towards you, you might be a goner already! Threat management! Oh, how this can be hard at times. You might even want your companions to just wait for a few seconds, doing nothing, while you grab aggro from the enemies, just so they don't start chopping away at your companions the first thing they do. This gets even more important if you have a squishy-heavy party with lots of mages and rogues. Aoe-spells can really save your day in this aspect. Blood Wound will handle things marvelously, and you can even throw a Fireball or a Crushing Prison on top of that for even more control and threat. Keep in mind that while weapon enhancements are really good for your damage, you might not want to go into a hard fight them activated on your companions for the same reasons listed above. Since your companions will more likely only have one or two sustainables it's far more efficient for them to only activate them once they've used a spell or two first. You can live without the damage for a few seconds! As with any tactical RPG, planning is key. What monster is most dangerous? Which one should you disable, and which one should you focus all your damage on? It's a good bet to try to disable the casters (i.e. mages) as quickly as you can, Force Field is an excellent spell for this, especially if you have it on more than one character, as you can keep it out of the fight almost indefinitely. Use Crushing Prison on the thing you want to kill quickly and use Blood Wound for total battlefield devastation. Know what spells and abilities you have and when to use them and you'll be fine. --------------------------- 8.0 PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER --------------------------- As I said in the introduction, this is not a guide for the end all-be all of Arcane Warriors, this is a collection of my thoughts on the class as a whole. In the end, what type of character you want to create is totally up to you. There is no Ultimate Build, only the build which suits you best! The biggest decision you need to make is wether you want an offensive or a defensive Arcane Warrior and pick your specialization (Blood Mage and Spirit Healer, respectively) accordingly. This will affect your attribute allocation as well as your spell choices. Which companions do you want? Are you using a shield or a dagger in your off-hand? One thing that I've found helpful when trying to decide on a build (for any game) is that a try to imagine the character and what I want to do with it and build it after that image. It might help to read through some sections of this guide again and try to pick parts that you like and put them together to form some sort of complete image of the puzzle that is character building. Use this guide as just that, a GUIDE, not some sort of infallible writ! I'm pretty sure I've missed some spells and tactics that are the bread-and-butter of some other player out there! Maybe it's you? Feel free to send me a mail and tell me why I should try it your way! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 9.0 SPOILERS -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Please don't send me mails about "How do I find X, Y and Z?". This is NOT a walkthrough! Use the forum search, it's a good function. A note on unlocking specializations... They transfer between characters. This means that if you've unlocked a specialization on one character, all others will have access to it from the go, without having to go and do the related quest or buy the manual themselves. You can even save your game, buy a manual, and reload the game and STILL have the specialization unlocked! A good trick to know... 9.1 Unlocking Arcane Warrior ---------------------------- During the Dalish Elves quest chain you'll find yourself in some ruins in the middle of a forest. The Arcane Warrior specialization is taught by a spirit trapped in a gem in a room in the Lower Ruins. It'll "speak" to you and tell you that it wants to be released from the anguish it has endured by lying around for centuries. You can opt to help the spirit by destroying the gem, but make sure you have it teach you the Arcane Warrior specialization first! Actually finding the gem can be quite troublesome, seeing as it's quite small and very easy to miss. What you want to do is to make sure you hold TAB (or whatever button it is on the XBOX and PS3) to highlight all the usables/items before you leave any room in the ruins. Do this, look around in each room, and you'll eventually find the gem. 9.2 Unlocking Blood Mage ------------------------ At the end of the Redcliffe questline you'll have a choice of killing a young child possessed by a demon or to go into the Fade and try to kill the demon it- self. You'll want to go into the Fade. Inside, you'll eventually come face to face with the demon, and you can make a deal with it. It'll leave the boy for the moment, and you get to choose one of several "awards", granted by the demon, one of which is the Blood Mage specialization. Another reward is a book which gives you one more spell or talent to pick, so make sure you save before picking your reward. Make sure you yourself is the one entering the Fade, as if anybody else does so, they won't have the option to make any deal at all with the Demon. Getting into the Fade itself can be a bit of a bother as well - you have two alternatives. Either Jowan performes the ritual (killing Isolde) or you, having already gone to the Mage Tower, can enlist Irving and some mages in helping you. Performing the ritual will lose you quite a bit of approval, especially with Alistair (he's apparently againts ritualistic sacrifice for some reason...), but getting the mages won't make any fuss. There is also a way to unlock the Blood Mage completely unrelated to the Redcliffe questline, namely the Elven Alianage. When you (eventually) get to the bottom of the quarantine of the alianage, you'll find that the person that's responsible is in fact a Blood Mage. He'll beg and grovel for this life, and you can actually get him to teach you the Blood Mage specialization this way. Note that most party member's won't like this one bit, and you'll lose some approval, as opposed to the method above (if you do it right, that is). 9.3 Unlocking Spirit Healer and Ranger -------------------------------------- These are by far the easiest of the Unlockables, they can both be bought by a shopkeeper. You can find the Spirit Healer Manual in the Wonders of Thedas in Denerim, and the Ranger Manual is sold by the dwarf in your camp. 9.4 Items --------- As an Arcane Warrior, what type of items do you need? Well, it depends a bit on what second specialization you took, but most items are universally good for all Arcane Warriors. Firstly, the heavier the armour, the better. You'll be tanking, and aggro in (partly) calculated based on what type of armour you're wearing, heavier meaning more threat. More armour also means you take less damage, which is good. You might want to start a fight out with some caster gear equipped (meaning a robe, a staff, etc...) before you activate your sustainables, that way you'll get the most out of the spells you cast. Items that give more defense is also good to keep an eye out for. You're most likely going to want to find some items with +attack as well, depending on how good you feel you hit your enemies. This will be more important at lower levels. Another stat, perhaps even more important, is mana. You'll need alot of it to be able to cast all the sustainables you want, regardless if you're a Blood Mage or a Spirit Healer. More mana also means you'll have more room for those utility spells (Heals, for example) when you really need them. Blood Mages does need items that give you more hit points, if you can find them. For them, hit points = mana, so you'll need just enough mana to cast all your sustainables and add as many hit points you can from there. Items that give you bonuses to attributes are also good, but shouldn't really be prioritized over the above types. Items that increase fire and frost damage are also quite good, as they DO increase the damage on your weapon enhancement spells. You'll probably be using the fire version, so give the frost items to some other character. When it comes to items in general, try to use your sense of balance in what you need for the items. Missing too often? Use attack-boosting items. Too little mana? Get more mana. Dying too easily of big-damage spells? Get more hit points. You get the picture. There are no real "bestest item EVAH!", just items that suits special play styles and works differently for different builds. Pick those that suits YOUR build best. One item to mention, however, is the Spellweaver. This is one of those items that really IS the "bestest item EVAH!", few though they may be. It's a very good longsword specifically for the Arcane Warrior (who are the only ones who can equip it). It increases your Magic attritbute by five, among other bonuses, and has two slots for runes. It's found in the caves along the Sacred Urn questline, guarded by a Cultist Overseer (a mage), some Reavers and a bunch of Drakes of different sizes. The part of the cave you're looking for is the north-eastern part. If you do you the quest and always head north-northeast you will find it, sooner or later. 9.5 The Mage Tower ------------------ This is a very good area to do quickly, if not first, after you've left the village of Lothering, the reason being the Fade portion of the quest and the permanent increases in stats inside it. You'll start at the bottom of the Tower, and work your way up to the fourth floor, doing whatever you want to do on your way there. A Sloth Demon will then forcibly take you into the Fade, where you have to do your best to get out. Scattered around the different "Island" of this part of the Fade are several stat-dispensers. Some you can grab straight on, some are blocked by a Massive door or a wall of fire and yet more require you to use the Spirit Form to be able to touch them. These are the number of stat increases you can gain: Strength: 4 Magic: 2 Dexterity: 4 Cunning: 5 Willpower: 4 Costitution: 2 Make sure you grab them all, because even if you don't really need strength for anything, it still adds to your attack, and since it's free it's really too good to pass up. You will need to do some backtracking to get them all, since you won't have all the necessary Forms the first time around an Island. I usually write down stuff that I can't get at the moment, for easier reference when I'm backtracking later on. If you want to use the Coercion line of Skills, I HIGHLY recommend you do the Mage Tower as soon as possible, since you'll only need to invest a single point in Cunning with all the bonuses you'll get from the Tower. 9.6 Tome Locations ------------------ There are a bunch of them, but where can they be found? Here's a short list of the ones that you can get out in the world, not including the ones which spawn in your inventory if you've got the Collector's Edition. Tome of Arcane Technique - Circle Tower, Quartermaster - Denerim, Wonders of Thedas, after Landsmeet - Party Camp, Bodahn Feddic Tome of Skill and Sundry - Dalish Camp, Varathorn - Elven Alienage, Alarith's Store - Random world encounter, Old Tegrin There are also a bunch of quests that'll give you another point to spell on a spell just by completing them, you won't have to do anything special for this. One, however, you need to complete in a special way - the Redcliffe Desire Demon (read above in the Unlocking Blood Mage section). When you get the option to make a deal with the demon, simply pick the one that says "something to increase my talents". When you come out of the Fade, you'll have a "book" in your inventory that'll give you one talent point to spend. ------------ 10.0 SOLOING ------------ Alright. This is for you who thought that Nightmare was too easy, you've already beaten the game at least once, and you want a real challange. You will use the quicksave and quickload functions alot since you will die... ALOT. You'll more than likely become very frustrated by this. If this seems like a good tradeoff for being able to say that you've solo'd the game, then read on! 10.1 Background --------------- I believe that the Arcane Warrior is one of the very few, if not only, class and build that can actually solo this game with any sort of consistency. There are a few problems that you'll encounter as a solo character which wasn't such a big problem when there were four of you, all these problems perfectly parried by the Arcane Warrior: 1) Stuns - Yeah. This is the reason why a wolf pack can be the most deadly enemy you'll even encounter in the game. You'll be on the recieving end of Overwhelm after Overwhelm, pinning you to the ground, unable to do anything, often for more than 10 seconds in a row. You'll need armour and alot of hit points to be able to survive the different stuns that the game throws at you. 2) Numbers - Can your character handle being beaten on by 20 mobs at the same time, some of whom are in melee, others firing arrows and yet more casting spells? Resistances, defense, armour and hit points, all factor in. 3) Durability - Can you still fight with your mana or stamina drained? Do you need to keep drinking potions, or can you actually do something useful without your energy? Of course, the Arcane Warrior brushes all these problems aside. Depending on which difficulty you're trying to solo on you might still be brushing or rather elbowing your way through them, though... An Arcane Warrior will, in the end, have all the neccesary armour, hit points, defense, resistances you could ever think of. Hit points? Well, a Blood Mage can utilize hit points quite well, so if you pump constitution... And, of course, the Arcane Warrior doesn't need any mana after the first 10 seconds of a fight, releasing all his spells as needed. A note on the 1.02 patch, which fixed Shimmering Shield (which now correctly deactivates on reaching zero mana) and changed Cone of Cold, Blizzard, Force Field and Crushing Prison. These are all key spells for a solo Arcane Warrior, and for those of you who've tried soloing before and after the patch it might seem harsh. That Shimmering Shield didn't deactivate was a big and needed to be fixed, but it's still one of the best spells in the game, you just need to be a bit more careful when and how to use it. Planning is more key than ever. As for the other changed spells, they're more or less numerical changes, increasing cooldown and/or decreasing duration. You CAN still solo with an Arcane Warrior! 10.2 Build ---------- You've seen the general outline above, now for the details. Obviously, you're an Arcane Warrior, and you'll pick Blood Mage as a second specialization. Why not Spirit Healer? Well, while the Spirit Healer certainly has a quite formidable survivability, it's not well equipped to deal with large trains of enemies by itself, the Blood Mage is much better at that. And seeing as you'll be solo the entire game, you will need that utility. What about attributes? Well, it's quite easy as well: 42 Magic, MAYBE some into Willpower (to be able to cast all the sustainables you want) and the rest into Constitution. Get to 42 Magic as soon as you can, preferably around level 8-9, and then start pumping Constitution. Spells, I hear you ask... well, that's trickier. Seeing as you're alone on this one, you'll need to be able to do everything you want to do yourself. This will put a bit of a strain on your spell choices, as you'll need a better spread between AoE, utility and sustainables than a "normal" Arcane Warrior would need. You might be tempted to go mass AoE just for the heck of it, seeing as you only need to look out for number one, but I'd advice against it. Even with Storm of the Century you'll find yourself lacking in other departments. Walking Bomb and Virulent Walking Bomb are two excellent damage spells. Cast one or the other on a mob, cast some other damaging spells on the same mob, and see the whole pack go down. The ice spells are quite important for a solo run, as they provice much needed crowd control, Cone of Cold being the most important one, with Blizzard a close second. When it comes to sustainables, it's prioritizing that'll win the day. Arcane Shiled, Rock Armour, Miasma, Combat Magic and Shimmering Shield are still must- haves, but what about the rest? You'll probably want to skip the entire Fire tree and use the Frost Weapons enhancement for when you want it. Haste is as good as ever, but is it worth it? Maybe, it depends on whether you want more spells to cast or not. Spell Wisp is right out, that mana needed for it could be better used on more points in Constitution. Telekinetic weapons are good to have for those fights when you need it, and the road there is still quite good. Crushing Prison is still a good spell, but only if you get Telekinetic weapons. The Blood Mage spells really do shine through in a solo run, especially Blood Wound. Take that, coupled with a Blizzard and Virulent Walking Bomb and the entire room will be cleared before you know it. Blood Control is also very good. Heal is still a must-have. Still at level 1. You'll get by with these spells. The rest I recommend you pick for yourself, depending on what you like. Frost, Bombs, Blood and sustainables will get you throught most any situation, everything else is just icing on the cake. 10.3 Tactics ------------ Have you ever solo'd a game before? If you have, you know that the hardest part of any solo game is the first few levels when you haven't gotten the abilities that define your character yet, and DA:O is no different. I recommend grabbing Heal and Cone of Cold as soon as you can, quickly followed by Virulent Walking Bomb. At level 7 you'll get Arcane Warrior, try to have at least 38 Magic by then so you can wear the Blood Dragon Armour. You DO have that, right? It's the best armour in the game for this type of character, except maybe some Warden's Keep armour, depending on situation. As for those parts of the game where you can't solo (ie. the game forces you to have at least one companion), don't worry, just hit H (or whatever button it is on the consoles) to plant your companions at the beginning of the map. You can also disable all their tactics. The Tower of Ishal can be a bother, especially the troll at the end. Walking Bomb and running in circles might be your only chance this early in the game. You'll start having an easier time when you get to Lothering and beyond. In fact, when you're done with Lothering, I'd recommend trying to finish as many side-quests as you can, before beginning any of the major plot quests. The Mages' Collective, Chanter's Boards, Blackstone Irregulars, etc. Alot of those quests are quite easy and only require you to travel around alot. You could also resque Shale, as that quest is really easy, even at lower level. You might want to leave some of the harder quests for now, as the Back Alley Justice in Denerim for example. When you're done with side-quests I'd say head over to the Circle Tower. Quite a large portion of that is MADE for soloing, anyway, and you're probably enough level by now (read: 9 or 10) to be able to handle the rest of the fights in there. After that, just go whereever you fancy, the game only get easier from now on. When you hit level 14 you really start to shine. Blood Wound will be your favourite spell, if it wasn't already. Make sure you've saved up enought spell points so that you can go that far up into the Blood Mage tree the moment you grab the specialization. At this points you're pretty much unstoppable, even in Nightmare difficulty. The big bosses shouldn't be much of a problem either, you can just outlast them. You should still be using the Spellweaver and a shield to go with, but keep a caster gear for those big fights when you need the most out of your spells before activating your sustainables. Oh, and don't tear your hair to pieces just because you can't get past those wolves, quickload is your friend! ^^ -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- END SPOILERS -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------- 11.0 CREDITS, VERSION HISTORY, ETC ---------------------------------- That's all, folks! Hopefully you found this guide an interesting read and good help for making your very own Arcane Warrior. If you have any questions, comments, criticism or praise concerning the guide, please send me a mail. You can find my email on the top of this page. 11.1 Credit where credit is due ------------------------------- Big thanks to all of you who have sent me mails with either new ideas or just general critique, it's what makes this guide grow! A SPECIAL thanks to all of you who have in some way contributed to the guide! Here they are: Tim Rhodes Dekklin Jager Eev Schurink Duck of Doom Walther Pesce 11.2 Who can use this guide? ---------------------------- Anybody can use this guide for their own, personal use. Other than that, these are the sites that have permission to host this guide: GameFAQs.com SuperCheats.com DAOFanatics.com Neoseeker.com RPGLord.com GameGuideWorld.com StrategyInformer.com 11.3 Version History -------------------- ver. 1.03, 8th of December, 2009 - Added the Soloing section - Minor additions throughout the guide ver. 1.02, 19th of November, 2009 - Added the Mage Tower in the spoilers section - Added Tome locations in the spoilers section - Added the Items chapter in the spoilers section - Expanded several chapters in the spoilers section - Minor changes throughout the guide ver. 1.01, 14th of November, 2009 - Added the Stone Fist spell - Added sheathed/drawn options for all spells - Added some more discussion on party configurations ver. 1.00, 13th of November, 2009 - Initial release. Thank you, Bioware, for yet ANOTHER great game!