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    Character Creation FAQ by Haeravon

    Version: 1.01 | Updated: 03/14/11 | Printable Version | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

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    |								       |
    | 	    		     Dragon Age II			       |
    |								       |
    Version 1.01
    Written by: Nathan Garvin
    Email: Theendbringer (at) Hotmail (dot) com.
    If you're going to email me about this guide, make sure you put
    "DRAGON AGE 2" in the title, or I'll probably end up deleting it as 
    I have no affiliation with Bioware, Electronic Arts (EA), or any other 
    parties involved with this game. This is a not-for-profit fan-made 
    guide. If you wish to post, mirror, or quote this guide, feel free to 
    do so. Credit would make me happy, an email would make me feel good. 
    Let your conscience be your guide, just like all good people.
    Now, I know this is a not-for-profit FAQ, but FAQ writing is time
    consuming work. If you wanted to show your appreciation for this FAQ 
    and/or support for future FAQs by donating to my PayPal account, that
    would be an above-and-beyond gesture. If every person who downloaded
    my FAQs donated a penny.. well, it would help out immensely. Now,
    without any more PBS-style solicitation..
    If you liked this FAQ, don't be afraid to click at the top of the
    screen to recommend this to other people. It's good for the motivation.
    This FAQ was made in Notepad, and is best viewed in a simple text
    editor. The default text is Lucida Console at size 10 font, but any
    fixed-width font will work.. if not with the intended aesthetics intact.
    Table of Contents
    I. Introduction				{INT001}
    	1. Continuity			{INT002}
    II. Hawke				{HWK001}
    	1. Hawke/NPC Comparison		{HWK002}
    	2. Warrior			{HWK003}
    	3. Mage				{HWK004}
    	4. Rogue			{HWK005}
    	5. Table of Starting Stats	{HWK006}
    III. Attributes				{ABL001}
    	1. Strength			{ABL002}
    	2. Dexterity			{ABL003}
    	3. Magic			{ABL004}
    	4. Cunning			{ABL005}
    	5. Willpower			{ABL006}
    	6. Constitution			{ABL007}
    	7. Damage			{ABL008}
    	8. Attack			{ABL009}
    	9. Defense			{ABL010}
    	10. Armor			{ABL011}
    IV. Abilities				{ABL001}
    	1. Specialization Points	{ABL002}
    	2. Sample Hawkes		{ABL003}
    	3. Sample Hawke Warrior		{ABL004}
    	4. Weapon and Shield		{ABL005}
    	5. Two-Handed			{ABL006}
    	6. Vanguard			{ABL007}
    	7. Defender			{ABL008}
    	8. Warmonger			{ABL009}
    	9. Battlemaster			{ABL010}
    	10. Templar			{ABL011}
    	11. Reaver			{ABL012}
    	12. Berserker			{ABL013}
    	13. Sample Hawke Mage		{ABL014}
    	14. Elemental			{ABL015}
    	15. Primal			{ABL016}
    	16. Spirit			{ABL017}
    	17. Arcane			{ABL018}
    	18. Entropy			{ABL019}
    	19. Creation			{ABL020}
    	20. Force Mage			{ABL021}
    	21. Spirit Healer		{ABL022}
    	22. Blood Mage			{ABL023}
    	23. Sample Hawke Rogue		{ABL024}
    	24. Dual Weapon			{ABL025}
    	25. Archery			{ABL026}
    	26. Sabotage			{ABL027}	
    	27. Specialist			{ABL028}
    	28. Scoundrel			{ABL029}
    	29. Subterfuge			{ABL030}
    	30. Shadow			{ABL031}
    	31. Duelist			{ABL032}
    	32. Assassin			{ABL033}
    V. Updates/Thanks			{UPD001}
    |								       |
    |			 Introduction {INT001}			       |
    |								       |
    Here I am again, trying to push out another FAQ before we've really
    had time to absorb everything there is to know about this game. Still,
    that's what I do. I'll be honest, this is-like most of my FAQs-a segment
    of what I hope will become a much larger work. It is, however, a stand-
    alone segment. It's apparently become my style to create a Character
    Creation guide for a game before branching out into a full FAQ/
    Walkthrough. This is mostly to get something out there, generate some
    feedback, and better polish the most important part of any RPG-creating
    your unique avatar. I'm hoping this will be like my Fallout: New Vegas
    guide, where plenty of people let me know what they liked, what they
    dislike, and what is just plain wrong. Corrections will be made, and
    three versions later we'll have a pretty good guide on our hands.
    Hopefully. This is a near-release launch, and you all have the right to
    be skeptical, many FAQs that come out this early are either uselessly
    incomplete or inaccurate (much like release-date reviews of games tend
    to be.) Therefore I'm not claiming perfection, but I have done all
    anybody can hope to do at this point: I've dedicated my spring break to
    playing this as well as watching my fiance play. After a week of playing 
    and seventeen hours of furious writing based off of several imperfect
    builds, various notes written down over the course of gameplay, and
    brute ability comparisons, this is what I've got. With any luck it's
    mostly accurate and somewhat helpful, although it's certainly not as
    in-depth as I would like it to be. At the very least I hope it gives
    people who are new to this game somewhere to start. Oh, and for the 
    record, the Xbox 360 version of this game does not frame skip for me,
    Gametrailers. Get a new Xbox. The PC version is still far superior,
    Continuity							{INT001}
    If you've played Dragon Age: Origins, you can import your own history
    from the first game into the second. Since my character was the queen of
    Fereldon I found this immensely more satisfying than picking one of the
    pre-made endings. Martyrdom is for sissies. It also gets you progress
    towards the 'Epic' Achievement.
    |								       |
    |			      Hawke {HWK001}			       |
    |			   (Character Creation)			       |
    In Dragon Age II you'll play Hawke, which is a surname by which you'll
    be named (like Shepard in Mass Effect.) Fortunately Bioware got their
    senses for this game and gave your character a speaking role. You'll
    actually get to interact with folks instead of lamely pantomiming and
    performing canned expressions. This is also the character creation part
    of the FAQ, which is vastly simplified over most RPGs. As that is the
    case, this section will largely cover the classes Hawke can pick, which
    are the only real gameplay-relevent choices you get to make before 
    starting the game.
    Hawke/NPC Comparison						{HWK002}
    There are-like in all RPGs-several things that seperate Hawke from the
    rest of his or her companions. First, Hawke can specialize in either 
    one of the combat forms unique to the classes (Weapon and Shield or
    Two-Weapon, Archery or Dual Weapon, for example.) This is a moot point,
    as it's only worth progressing down one tree or the other. Hawke is
    also the only character who can Specialize (Hawke can spend 
    Specialization Points at 7th and 14th level to gain access to a new
    Ability Tree, whereas your NPCs have access to one unique Ability Tree
    each.) Lastly, and most importantly, only Hawke can equip new armor,
    the rest of your party has standard outfits which increase as they
    level. You can buy/find special upgrade for them as well, but generally
    their armor is going to be inferior to Hawkes. After all, you can
    equip a Helmet, Gloves, Boots, and Armor, and they only have one
    outfit. This seems to be a growing trend in Bioware RPGs, as Mass
    Effect and Dragon Age: Origins both allowed you to equip armor on your
    NPCs, but the sequels both gave your NPCs static attire. Perhaps they
    got sick of people looking at Morrigan's boobs? In any event, you can
    expect Hawke to be a more resilient version of whatever class he is,
    which is moderately useful in the case of Mages, but very important
    for a Hawke-Warrior or Dual Weapon Rogue.
    Warrior							{HWK003}
    Warriors are the masters of melee combat. Some heft an enormous two-
    handed weapon that strikes several foes at once. Others pair a one-
    handed weapon with a shield that doubles as a bludgeon.
    Warriors are either your primier defensive characters (Weapon and 
    Shield) or excellent damage-dealers (Two-Handed). Either way, they both
    excel at one thing: Crowd Control. Whether it's by luring them to you
    and resisting their attacks, or by simply destroying them. All Warriors
    are good at drawing aggro due to their armor, although in addition to
    this a Weapon and Shield Warrior should get Taunt, and a Two-Handed
    Warrior should.. well, just use their abilities. A Warrior should focus
    exclusively on Strength and Constitution, as these will increase their
    damage output and health, respectively. They're also required to equip
    most armor and weapons, which really makes attribute allocation in
    Dragon Age 2 a no-brainer. I'm perfectly fine with using Avaline as a
    aggro drawing support character. For my Hawked I'd much rather pick
    the Two-Handed approach, which is much more hands-on.
    Mage								{HWK004}
    Mages command arcane spells and hurl bolts of magic from their staves.
    Despite their immense power, mages are vulnerable when their allies fall
    or whenever enemy troops attack them directly.
    Like with everything else, Hawke makes the best mage in the game.
    Arguably, at least, and this is because of their specializations. At the
    very least Hawke is the best healer in the game as you'll possess the
    Spirit Healer Ability Tree, which makes Anders' Vengeance Tree look like
    a cheap door prize. And of course Hawke has all the normal Mage trees,
    which means at the least you'll have more options than any other Mages
    in the game. Lets not lie here, you need a mage to heal, and at that
    Hawke excels. Other than that, pick another tree or two that has some
    great combo/crowd control options. If you have NPCs that can hurt 
    BRITTLE enemies, there's not much better than the Elemental Tree, and
    if you have allies that can STAGGER enemies, look no further than
    Chain Lightning in the Primal Tree.
    Rogue								{HWK005}
    Rogues can wield a dagger in each hand or rain arrows from a distance.
    They are particularly adept at tearing down individual opponents and are
    the only class that can pick locks or disarm traps.
    Rogues are the only class who can disarm traps and pick locks, and like
    the game says, it's almost a necessity to drag one along for this
    reason. But unlike in most games they're also useful in combat. Wonder
    of wonders, eh? I guess all the whining about the nerfed dual-daggers
    in the first game really lit a fire under Bioware's ass. Because of this
    the Dual Weapon Rogue has-by far-the highest DPS in the entire game.
    That's right, even more than a Two-Handed Warrior. They are, however,
    much less hardy and typically can only strike one foe at once. Frankly,
    I don't see much point in the Archery Rogue, not when the Dual Weapon
    Rogue has such astronomical DPS. That's not to say some of the Archery
    abilities aren't great-they are-but it seems more like an excuse to
    create a shoot-and-forget support character that rarely needs to be
    controlled. Varric works just as well in that role, why make that your 
    Hawke when you back be a backstabbing DPS fiend?
    Table of Starting Stats						{HWK006}
    |     (ATTRIBUTES)	|    Warrior	|      Mage     |     Rogue    |
    |Strength		|      13	|      10	|     10       |
    |Dexterity		|      10	|      10	|     13       |
    |Magic			|      10	|      13       |     10       |
    |Cunning		|      10	|      11	|     12       |
    |Willpower	 	|      11	|      12	|     11       |
    |Constitution		|      12	|      10	|     10       |
    |    (DERIVED STATS)    |    Warrior	|      Mage     |     Rogue    |
    |Fortitude		|       3	|       0       |      0       |
    |Critical Chance	|       0%	|       0%      |      3%      |
    |Magic Resistance	|       0%	|       3%      |      0%      |
    |Critical Damage	|      50% 	|      51%      |     52%      |
    |Stamina		|      105	|      160      |     130      |
    |Health			|      160	|      100      |     125      | 
    |								       |
    |		            Attributes {ATT001}			       |
    |								       |
    Attributes determine your derived statistics, which include such useful
    things like your damage, attack, defense, critical chance and damage,
    health, and stamina/magic. Typically a fairly complex system in most
    games, Dragon Age II has dumbed it down considerably. When all else
    fails, follow what your gear tells you-armor and shields for Warriors
    requires Strength and Constitution, weapons require Strength. For 
    Rogues armor requires Dexterity and Cunning, and weapons require 
    Dexterity. For Mages, armor requires Magic and Cunning, and staffs
    require Magic. That's right, to simply each class requires two
    attributes in equal measure, as shown below:
    Warrior:	Strength, Constitution
    Mage:		Magic, Willpower
    Rogue:		Dexterity, Cunning
    Strength							{ATT002}
    Strength increases damage and attack values for warriors. For all
    classes, it increases fortitude, which measures resistance to effects
    like being knocked back or set aflame.
    |   Strength	|   Fortitude	|     Damage 	|     Attack	|
    |		|		|   (Warriors)	|   (Warriors)	|
    |      10	|       0	|      n/a	|      n/a	|
    |      13	|       3	|       4 	|      66	|
    |      16	|       6	|       6	|      77	|
    |      19	|       9       |       7	|      90	|
    |      22	|      12	|       9	|      106      |
    |      25	|      15	|      10	|      125	|
    |      28	|      18	|      12	|      147	|
    |      31	|      21	|      13	|      174	|
    |      34	|      24	|      15	|      206	|
    |      37	|      27	|      16	|      244	|
    |      40	|      30 	|      18	|      289	|
    Dexterity							{ATT003}
    Dexterity increases damage and attack values for rogues. For all
    classes, it increases the likelihood of landing a critical hit.
    |   Dexterity	|   Critical	|    Damage 	|    Attack	|
    |		|    Chance	|   (Rogues)	|   (Rogues)	|
    |      10	|       0	|      n/a	|      n/a	|
    |      13	|       3	|       7 	|      66	|
    |      16	|       6	|       9	|      77	|
    |      19	|       9       |      10 	|      90	|
    |      22	|      12	|      12	|      106      |
    |      25	|      15	|      13	|      125	|
    |      28	|      18	|      15	|      147	|
    |      31	|      21	|      16	|      174	|
    |      34	|      24	|      18	|      206	|	
    |      37	|      27	|      19	|      244	|
    |      40	|      30 	|      21	|      289	|
    Magic								{ATT004}
    Magic increases damage and attack values for mages. For all classes, it
    increases magic resistance, which absorbs a proportion of damage from
    magical attacks and affects the duration of hostile magical effects.
    |     Magic	|     Magic	|    Damage 	|    Attack	|
    |		|   Resistance	|   (Mages)	|   (Mages)	|
    |      10	|       0	|      n/a	|      n/a	|
    |      13	|       3	|       5 	|      66	|
    |      16	|       6	|       7	|      77	|
    |      19	|       9       |       8	|      90	|
    |      22	|      12	|      10 	|      106      |
    |      25	|      15	|      11 	|      125	|
    |      28	|      18	|      13	|      147	|
    |      31	|      21	|      14	|      174	|
    |      34	|      24       |      16       |      206      |
    |      37	|      27	|      17	|      244	|
    |      40	|      30 	|      19	|      289	|
    Cunning								{ATT005}
    Cunning increases defense for all classes as well as the amount of
    damage inflicted by a critical hit. Cunning also determines rogues'
    aptitude for picking locks and disarming traps, with difficulty
    thresholds every 10 points.
    |    Cunning	|   Critical	|    Defense	|Trap Disarming/|
    |		|    Damage	|   		| Lock Picking	|
    |      10	|      50%	|        0	|    Simple	|
    |      11	|      51%	|       60	|    Simple	|
    |      13	|      53%	|       68     	|    Simple	|
    |      16	|      56%	|       83	|    Simple	|
    |      19	|      59%	|      102	|    Simple	|
    |      20	|      60%	|      109	|   Standard	|
    |      22	|      62%	|      125	|   Standard	|
    |      25	|      65%	|      xxx	|   Standard	|
    |      28	|      68%	|      xxx	|   Standard	|
    |      30	|      70%	|      xxx	|    Complex	|
    |      31	|      71%	|      xxx	|    Complex	|
    |      34	|      74%	|      xxx	|    Complex	|
    |      37	|      77%	|      xxx	|    Complex	|
    |      40	|      80%	|      xxx	|    		|
    Willpower							{ATT006}
    Willpower increases the size of the mana pool for mages or the stamina
    pool for warriors and rogues.
    |   Willpower   |    Stamina    |     Mana	|    Stamina	|
    |		|   (Warrior)	|    (Mage)	|    (Rogue)	|
    |      11	|      105	|      N/A	|      130	|
    |      12	|      110	|      160	|      135      |
    |      13	|      115	|      165	|      140	|
    |      16	|      130	|      180	|      165	|
    |      19	|      145	|      195	|      180	|
    |      22	|      160	|      210	|      195	|
    |      25	|      175	|      225	|      210	|
    |      28       |      190	|      240	|      225      |
    |      31       |      205	|      220	|      240	|
    |      34       |      220	|      235	|      255	|
    |      37       |      235	|      250	|      270	|
    |      40       |      250	|      265	|      285	|
    Constitution							{ATT007}
    Constitution increases maximum health for all classes.
    | Constitution  |    Health     |    Health	|    Health	|
    |		|   (Warrior)	|    (Mage)	|    (Rogue)	|
    |      10	|      N/A	|      100	|      125	|
    |      11	|      160	|      105	|      130	|
    |      12	|      175	|      110	|      135	|
    |      13	|      190	|      115	|      140	|
    |      16	|      205	|      130	|      155	|
    |      19	|      220	|      145	|      170	|
    |      22	|      235	|      160	|      185	|
    |      25	|      250	|      175	|      200	|
    |      28	|      265	|      190   	|      215	|
    |      31	|      280	|      205  	|      230	|
    |      34	|      295	|      220  	|      245	|
    |      37	|      310	|      235	|      260	|
    |      40	|      325	|      250	|      275	|
    Damage								{ATT008}
    Damage determines the effect of an attack from the equipped weapon 
    against an unarmored opponent. 
    Depending on your class, your Strength, Dexterity, or Magic scores 
    affects your damage output (improving your damage by one point per two 
    points of said attribute increase). Also note that the very description 
    of damage tells you that this value is against an unarmored opponent. 
    Since every opponent has some armor, you'll invariably be doing less 
    damage than indicated.
    Attack								{ATT009}
    Attack determines the likelihood taht a normal strike from a weapon or
    staff will succeed in hitting an enemy.
    The higher your attack, the more likely you'll hit. Rogues tend to have
    uncannily high Attack values, but if you keep up with your Strength,
    Dexterity, or Magic, you shouldn't fall below 70%. Ultimately weapons
    and accessories will provide a good bit of your attack, as well as some
    some abilities (Control, Heroic Aura, to name a few.) Since your
    abilities and spells cannot miss, for the most part, as long as you're
    being an ability-abuser you'll do just fine. Note that Attack degrades
    in efficacy against higher ranked enemies, as shown below:
    		Attack = X% vs. normal enemy
    		Attack = X%-15% vs. enemy lieutenant
    		Attack = X%-30% vs. enemy boss
    Defense								{ATT010}
    Defense determines the likelihood of evading an enemy attack.
    Defense looks good on paper, but it's a largely useless stat for every
    class but the Rogue. It only comes from items and Cunning, and the only
    class to put points into Cunning is the Rogue. Also, since it's true
    value (Defense %) scales as you level, what might start out as 12% with
    a Defense score of 60 at level 2 end up 5% by level 12. On the other
    hand, if you have Cunning, a 200 Defense score equates to roughly a
    40% at level 12. Unfortunately Defense get hit the hardest by ranked
    enemies, so against bosses it's largely ineffective, even for Rogues.
    		Defense = X% vs. normal enemy
    		Defense = X%-20% vs. enemy lieutenant
    		Defense = X%-40% vs. enemy boss
    Armor								{ATT011}
    Armor determines how much damage the character can disregard from a
    physical attack.
    So it works like Defense, then? Instead of showing your odds of reducing
    damage, however, your Armor shows how much damage you resist. Everybody
    has at least some Armor worth considering, but Warriors tend to surpass
    Rogues, and Rogue tend to surpass Mages.. and that's just with brute
    equipment. A moderately well-equipped Two-Handed Warrior should be
    around 50%, and thankfully Armor holds up against ranked enemies better
    than any other statistic.
    		Armor = X% vs. normal enemy
    		Armor = X%-10% vs. enemy lieutenant
    		Armor = X%-20% vs. enemy boss
    |								       |
    |		             Abilities {ABL001}			       |
    |								       |
    Abilities are where you define how your character fights. All Warriors
    are-if they're any good at what they do-strong and high Health. Whether
    you become a crowd-controlling damage-dealer or an aggro-drawing
    defender is determined by your Abilities. 
    All NPCs have five Ability Trees and one unique NPC Ability Tree, the 
    latter of which typically requires them to be a mid-level character 
    before they can progress down the tree. Hawke, on the other hand, has 
    six Ability Trees, although one of them is generally useless as Hawke 
    will need to specialize in one or the other. For example a Warrior-Hawke
    has both the Weapon and Shield and Two-Handed Ability Trees. You can
    work on them both, but since you need to be using a two-handed weapon
    to use Two-Handed Abilities and you need a weapon and a shield to 
    perform Weapon and Shield Abilities, they don't benefit each other. Pick
    one and stick to it. NPCs have already picked one such Ability Tree and
    automatically excluded the other. For example Aveline only has Weapon
    and Shield, and Fenris only has Two-Handed. Characters gain one Ability 
    Point per level, although there are Tomes that can be purchased that 
    will give you more. In addition Hawke gains Specialization Points as he 
    levels, which will allow Hawke to gain access to new trees.
    Specialization Points						{ABL002}
    At levels seven and fourteen Hawke gains a Specialization Point to spend
    on one of three Specialization Ability Trees. Once picked, Hawke gains a
    passive bonus for picking up that tree, and he can progress through it
    as normal. You do not need to learn Specializations to pick them, like
    in Dragon Age: Origins.
    Sample Hawkes							{ABL003}
    Below I'll include a sample Hawke from each class which is close-if
    not identical-to the Hawke of that class that I created.. or that I 
    would have created, if I had known better. Anyways, at this point in
    time I'm far from ready to say that these are 'ideal' builds. I'm sure
    with more testing, playing, and input I'll find better builds, but this
    is the limit of my knowledge thus far, for better or worse. Each build
    is set up with twenty-two Ability Points. Why such an arbitrary number?
    The 'soft' experience cap of the game is about level twenty-five, if you
    don't miss any side-quests. With items like 'Tomes of Technique' you
    should be able to make up for what you might have missed in experience,
    and potentially get even more Ability Points. Being conservative,
    however, it seems reasonable to provide a rough build up to level 
    twenty-two so even the less fanatical gamers can bother with the builds.
    Sample Hawke Warrior						{ABL004}
    I prefer the Two-Handed build for Hawke, so this is what I'll show as an
    example. He'll pretty much stick to the Two-Handed tree, with a few
    points into Vanguard and Battlemaster. For his Specialization he picks
    Reaver, for the sole purpose of adding some damage to his attacks as he
    inevitably loses Health. He's all about getting into fights, using
    Cleave and following with as many of his Two-Handed abilities as
    possible. Then he performs basic attacks, waits for his cooldowns to
    expire and uses Second Wind if necessary.
    Two-Handed (7)
    (1) Mighty Blow
    (2) Giant's Reach
    (3) Sunder
    (4) Scythe
    (5) Whirlwind
    (6) Shattering Blow
    (7) Tornado
    Vanguard (6)
    (1) Control
    (2) Might
    (3) Cleave
    (4) Command
    (5) Claymore
    (6) Destroyer
    Battlemaster (3)
    (1) Bolster
    (2) Second Wind
    (3) Last Push
    Reaver (5)
    (1) Blood Frenzy
    (2) Sacrifical Frenzy 
    (3) Devour
    (4) Sustained Frenzy
    (5) Fervor
    Berserker (1)
    (1) Berserk
    Weapon and Shield (Aveline, Hawke)				{ABL005}
    Warriors who specialize in the shield trade damage for protection.
    Attacks made with one-handed weapons hit a smaller arc than two-handed
    weapons, although shield users have the perfect tool at hand for
    knocking foes around the battlefield.
    This Ability Tree is for conservative, or defensive, Warriors. They'll
    draw a lot of aggro, and they have the ability to endure more damage
    than any other class. They have some interesting offensive abilities,
    but they're mostly there for defense. The Defender Ability Tree is an
    obvious addition to the Weapon and Shield Warriors, as it grants them
    most of the great defensive abilities they'll want, such as Stonewall,
    Turn the Blade, and especially Environmental Aegis. Warmonger ensures
    they can draw and hold aggro better, even without using powerful 
    attacks, and the Templar Specialization, if pursued, will make them
    quite resistant to magic. Shield Wall is the indispensible defensive
    skill in this tree, as it gives you 25% damage resistance and a brute
    20% chance to turn hits into glancing blows.. the same thing that
    the Defense statistic does. Who cares if you lose damage? A Weapon and
    Shield character isn't really designed to be a damage-dealer anyhow.
    Again, there are plenty of abilities that can do damage in the Weapon
    and Shield tree, but I am fine with a Warrior who uses almost all of
    their Stamina to maintain defensive/buffing modes, punctuated by the
    occassional Taunt. With Resolute in the Defensive Tree and Annulment in 
    the Templar Tree you'll have a character with a base 60% magic 
    resistance. Elemental Aegis and Rally will produce a character who can-
    temporarily-give the entire party 60% elemental resistance. That is a 
    good thing.
    Two-Handed (Fenris, Hawke)					{ABL006}
    Warriors who wield two-handed weapons can reap tremendous damage through
    wide arcs of enemy flesh, although they forgo the protective benfits of
    a shield.
    If you want to deal considerable damage to multiple foes at once, this
    is the tree to pick. Although the Dual Weapon Rogue deals more brute 
    damage to one foe, the Two-Handed Warrior is better protected by both
    Health and Armor, and is one of the best crowd control classes in the
    game. Because of your flashy attacks and heavy armor, you'll draw a lot
    of aggro, but since you're a Warrior you should be able to withstand it,
    most of the time. Combine this tree with Vanguard for the Cleave
    ability and you can cheaply double your offensive power. Add on the
    Battlemaster Ability Tree for Second Wind to ensure that you always have
    some Stamina for prolonged assaults and the Berserker Specialization
    becomes an appealing choice. There are no real dud abilities in this
    tree, although it might be a better idea to learn the Activated 
    Abilities (Mighty Blow, Scythe, and Whirlwind), then pass on to the
    Vanguard and Battlemaster Trees to get Cleave and Second Wind.. which
    will double their effectivness and make them usable more often. 
    Vanguard (Aveline, Fenris, Hawke)				{ABL007}
    A vanguard believes that a good offense is the best defense. Their
    powerful strikes are matched with ruthless technique.
    One word: Cleave. This is, in my opinion, by far the best Ability in
    this tree. After upgrading it you can use it every twenty seconds, for
    fifteen seconds, meaning you'll get a 100% damage boost three-quarters
    of the time for only twenty Stamina. Yes please. Pop Cleave on and use
    all your devastating Two-Weapon techniques and you can easily destroy
    most normal foes. With Second Wind you can regain any Stamina you 
    expended (provided you didn't regain it all in your killing spree) and
    do it once your cooldown time is up. Very nice. The other abilities
    in the tree don't really compare, although it might seem tempting to
    get Control and Might and then get the Rally ability from the 
    Battlemaster tree, I haven't found the expenditure of three extra
    Ability Points worth the small gains to attack and damage. With an
    upgraded Control, however, it might be worth your while to get
    Destroyer. Frankly the 90% damage resistance on all hits is good 
    enough (it's really as good as having Might active), but the extra 
    10% critical chance from Control can bring your critical chance up to
    20% (if combined with Sunder) and make the 50% damage resistance to
    critical hits that Destroyer gives a worthwhile perk. If you bother to
    get Assail you'll get yourself another 10% bonus to damage, which,
    mixed with Destroyer and Cleave can really become brutal. However, 
    having Control active, and using Assail, Cleave, and then popping off
    Scythe, Whirlwind, and Mighty Blow will take a fairly high-stamina
    build.. which is fine if you also grab Second Wind.
    Defender (Aveline, Fenris, Hawke)				{ABL008}
    Defenders Specialize in survivability, taking everything the enemy
    throws at them and walking away unscathed.
    Defender is a bit of a tease tree that's really only great for Weapon
    and Shield characters. Okay, it's great for everybody, but Two-Handed
    Warriors are likely to have more important things to spend their points
    on. The Stonewall Ability (and its upgrade, Bulwark) can make you 100%
    damage resistant, 100% knockback resistant, and 100% knockdown resistant
    for 10 seconds every 15 seconds. That's as good of a physical defense
    as anything in the game can offer you. Mix that with Shield Wall and
    you've got.. well, you've got a tank. Unforunately the Weapon and Shield
    character is more methodical with their attacks and probably won't see
    the Stamina returns that the Two-Handed Warrior receives, so the idea
    of using this constantly (like Immunity in Mass Effect) is probably
    out of reach. Environmental Aegis is another indispensible defensive
    ability, making you 40% (60% with the upgrade) immune to elements. The
    first time you get zorched by a Mage for over half your Health, you'll
    be able to determine if this is worth it or not. Best of all, you can
    give it to everybody with the Rally Ability in the Battlemaster Tree.
    Turn the Blade, on the other hand, sucks. Why, you ask? Defense is
    great! Sure, but as a Warrior you'll have around 60 Defense (because
    face it, you've got more important attributes to boost than Cunning.)
    +10% to that is 66 Defense, which will raise your ability to turn a
    hit into a glancing blow by a handful of percentages. Against bosses,
    this is going to drop to a brute 5%. A character with over double the
    60 or so most Warriors will have has a 29% chance to avoid attacks..
    and still a 5% against bosses. Also, the +20 Fortitude sucks because
    you can get Stonewall, which makes you immune to most of the things
    that Fortitude prevents! It is, however, a prerequisite for Adamant,
    which adds a nice 5% bonus to your damage resistance. Yes, I just
    told you that 5% Defense was bogus, but 5% damage resistance (Armor)
    is not. Why? You'll have at least a 50% damage resistance as a 
    Warrior if you've got anywhere near decent gear. Against lieutenants
    that'll be 40%, and against bosses you'll have 30%. That +5% will
    actually do work for you, unlike the 10% (or even 15%) Defense. Oh,
    and if you're going to get Bulwark, why, oh why, would you get
    Warmonger (Aveline, Fenris, Hawke)				{ABL009}
    The warmonger is a confident adversary, well-versed in taunting foes,
    cutting through them, and sending them to the dirt in a bloody heap.
    Warmongers are also experts in controlling enemy aggression, possessing
    abilities that draw foes toward them and that, through stun effects,
    cause enemies to forget who they were fighting.
    This tree is particularly useful for a Weapon and Shield Warrior, as it
    gives them the Taunt and Bravery abilities, both of which increase 
    threat and thus draw aggro. Those wonderful defensive stats aren't any
    good if the enemy is beating up your other characters, after all. It's
    also handy in conjunction with Primal Tree users, as Pommel Strike and
    Tremor both can cause STAGGER, which plays into Chain Lightning. Of
    course, if you're a Two-Handed Warrior you'll want to force a Mage to
    make use of their BRITTLE-causing spells instead.
    Battlemaster (Aveline, Fenris, Hawke)				{ABL010}
    When fighting solo, a battlemaster is an efficient killing machine. When
    fighting alongside allies, the warrior becomes a seasoned leader who can
    rally others to turn the tide of combat.
    A rather sneaky tree, it lures you into false premises in some areas.
    First, it's a great tree for a Stamina junky, as Bolster allows you to
    infinitely increase your Stamina by 5%, and Second Wind fully restores
    all your Stamina every 60 seconds.. which is essentially a free refill
    once per battle for most normal battles. With an upgrade is also makes
    your abilities cooldown faster (and when else are you going to be out
    of Stamina, except after expending abilities?) and decreases its own
    cooldown to 45 seconds. This is obviously a match made in heaven for
    the Berserker, who deals damage based on your remaining Stamina. By
    comparison the Mana/Stamina regeneration rate: +10 of Deep Reserves is
    bogus in comparison. Why do you need it with the other two abilities?
    That's right, you dont. Rally is good for teamwork, but the only
    crucial ability it works for is Environmental Aegis. Giving everybody
    60% resistance to elements can have a big impact on select fights. Of
    course, you could always strap on some items that give you specific
    resistances for specific fights, as most foes doesn't use multiple
    elements.. On the other hand, Synergy seems nice, but notice its range. 
    10 meters. You only get those bonuses when you're within 30 feet of your 
    allies, and as I stated above, Defense is useless for Warriors anyways. 
    You have better ways to improve your damage reduction, and better ways 
    to generate threat.
    Templar (Hawke)							{ABL011}
    The strong arm of the Chantry, templars serve as guardians of the
    Circles of Magi, hunters of apostates and maleficarum, and, rarely, as a
    standing army at the command of the Divine. Through ingestion of 
    carefully prepared lyrium, templars gain resistance to magic, including
    the ability to interrupt spells. Though the Chantry controls the lyrium
    trade, those with the right connections can acquire enough to emulate
    the abilities of the vigilant warriors.
    Templar must be purchased using a specialization point before any 
    talents may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted
    at levels 7 and 14.
    Damage +10% vs. spellcasters and Fade creatures
    The Templar is all about confounding Mages, and other enemies that like
    using their abilities too much. And at this the Templar largely excels.
    Cleanse is a wonderful offensive and defensive ability that silences 
    enemies in a large area while dispeling harmful effects on allies in 
    the same area. It's so good, in fact, that it's probably the only such
    ability a Templar really needs. Silence seems more impressive, until you
    note that it affects only one foe, even if it's for double the time. To
    be fair, you'll usually only encounter a few Mages at once, and the odds
    that you'll ever really hit two with one Cleanse isn't too common.
    Righteous Strike sucks, as it just gives a 10% chance to silence an
    enemy for four seconds with your attacks. Four seconds is nothing. But,
    it's a prerequisite for Annulment, which passively gives you magic
    resistance of 50%. Awesome. Holy Smite is decent, so long as you 
    weren't spoiled by the damage on the Two-Handed abilities. The eight
    meter range makes up for this limitation, and the chance to stun..
    well, it's better than nothing.
    Reaver (Hawke)							{ABL012}
    A true reaver has tasted the ritually prepared blood of a dragon. It is
    more than a state of mind. These fearsome warriors revel in death,
    regaining energy from the suffering of their foes.
    Reaver must be purchased using a specialization point before any talents 
    may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted at levels 
    7 and 14.
    Physical Damage: +5%
    Fire Damage: +5%
    Cold Damage: +5%
    Electricity Damage: +5%
    Nature Damage: +5%
    Spirit Damage: +5%
    The Reaver is all about dealing more damage as they sustain more damage,
    and almost without variation their abilities reflect this. In 
    conjunction with a Two-Handed Warrior and Cleave the damage output can
    get rather fearsome. First and foremost, the best ability the Reaver 
    has (and the whole point of the class) is Blood Frenzy, which increases
    your damage inversely proportional to your Health. At 50% health, you
    should be dealing 150% damage. The best part? It's passive, and you
    need only one ability point to get this ability. Add that to the passive
    bonus of the class and you've got a healthy chunk of damage without much
    of a commitment. Sacrificial Frenzy doubles the effect of Blood Frenzy,
    and to speed you on your way it deals 20 damage to you, better yet, it
    costs you no Stamina. Beyond that is Fervor, which is passive and will
    increase your attack speed by 30% for 10 seconds every time you kill an
    enemy. Again, with the power of a Two-Handed Warrior, this means you'll
    attack 30% faster most of the time. Aura of Pain is another ability that
    serves to decrease your health while at the same time harming enemies.
    You lose 5% of your health for every pulse (every four seconds) and 
    deals a paltry amount of spirit damage to enemies in a fairly short
    range. Again, the main purpose of this ability seems to be to reduce
    your Health. Frankly, Blood Frenzy works just fine for me. Then you
    have the black sheep of the family: Devour. This ability actually heals
    you, as it harms enemies. Best of all, it STAGGERs enemies, which a
    Mage with Chain Lightning can abuse. The flow of a Reaver's battle
    then seems to run like this: Start out with Aura of Pain and Sacrificial
    Frenzy, after your health is depleted somewhat, deactivate Aura of Pain
    and keep using Sacrificial Frenzy. When your heal gets dangerously low,
    use Devour. Frankly, hoewver, I'm quite happy just using Sacrificial
    Frenzy to boost my damage a bit (down until I'm at around 50% health)
    while using my core Two-Handed attacks paired with Berserk.
    Berserker (Hawke)						{ABL013}
    The dwarven culture is in decline, and many dwarves have turned to the
    surface, bringing their customs and battle traditions with them. Anger
    is only part of being a berserker. Anyone can fly into a rage, but only
    a berserker can channel that anger into brutal hits that cleave through
    armor, flesh, and bone.
    Berserker must be purchased using a specialization point before any 
    talents may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted
    at levels 7 and 14.
    Mana/stamina regeneration rate: +10
    This was my go-to specializtion in Dragon Age: Origins, and although it
    hasn't fared as well in the sequel, its base ability-Berserk-makes it
    worth a look. Berserks deals extra damage per attack equal to 10% (15%
    once upgraded) of your remaining Stamina, at a cost of four Stamina per 
    attack (two Stamina once upgraded.) So at its best we deal at least
    15% extra damage at a cost of two Stamina each hit. Lets compare it to,
    say, Cleave, which deals 100% extra damage at a cost of twenty Stamina.
    Berserk gives us 7.5% damage per stamina used (mind you, using Berserk
    itself costs no Stamina, only attacking while Berserk is activated),
    while Cleave gives a 5% bonus per stamina used. Granted, the lower your
    Stamina goes, the worse the returns are, but paired with other damage-
    boosting abilities (like Blood Frenzy and Sacrificial Frenzy in the 
    Reaver tree, which don't use any Stamina to boost damage) you'll 
    regenerate your Stamina as quick as you expending it by mauling enemies.
    Also there's Bolster and Second Wind, which become even more potent with
    the Berserker specialization. Adrenaline works somewhat contrary to the
    Berserk bonus, as it causes you to deal 5% (8% with the upgrade) extra 
    damage every time you attack. Unforunately it costs 20 Stamina per use,
    and even if you get rid of the cooldown time of 2 seconds, the animation
    for it still takes time. Even with several uses, you might be able to
    boost to 40% damage stacking, then pull off a few attacks.. which seems
    like an awful lot of work for such a short duration and alot of 
    Stamina. Barrage seems pretty useless, but the Reaver has an ability
    that's passive, works every time you kill something, and doesn't
    require any Stamina and doesn't incur any damage resistance penalties.
    Finally, Death Blow restores some Stamina when you kill an enemy, but
    5% is a downright paltry amount of Stamina considering that most enemies
    restore a considerable chunk of your Stamina bar already.
    Sample Hawke Mage						{ABL014}
    Hawke has the Force Mage, Spirit Healer, and Blood Mage Specializations. 
    Force Mage has a plethora of unique dehabiliting spells that put Entropy 
    to shame, and Spirit Healer has the best healing spells in the game. I 
    prefer both of those trees to Blood Mage. Elemental has the best pure-
    damaging spells in the game, and with cold spells you can make enemies 
    BRITTLE, which allow a Two-Handed Warrior to excel. And of course, 
    Creation is added for basic healing. This creates a dual-role healer/
    offensive mage with a good bit more Health and Fortitude than normal.
    Elemental (8)
    (1) Winter's Grasp
    (2) Cone of Cold
    (3) Fireball
    (4) Deep Freeze
    (5) Searing Fireball
    (6) Winter's Blast
    (7) Firestorm
    (8) Elemental Mastery
    Creation (4)
    (1) Heal
    (2) Greater Heal
    (3) Heroic Aura
    (4) Valiant Aura
    Force Mage (4)
    (1) Telekinetic Burst
    (2) Fist of the Maker
    (3) Unshakable
    (4) Gravitic Ring
    Spirit Healer (6)
    (1) Healing Aura
    (2) Revival
    (3) Group Heal
    (4) Unity
    (5) Refusal
    (6) Vitality
    Elemental (Anders, Merill, Hawke)				{ABL015}
    The Elemental Tree is a collection of everybodies favorite mainstays of
    fantasy magic. We have Fireball, and Cone of Cold, and.. other icy-firey
    stuff.. Anyways, this tree splits between two Fire Spells and two Cold
    spells, the latter are a good way to inflict BRITTLE on enemies, as well
    as slow them down considerably. What's not to like? The fire spells
    deal less damage, but have much greater range. It's the most basic, and
    probably the most effective brute damage tree the Mage has, and if you
    are interested in some of the abilities, you might as well just get them
    Primal (Anders, Merrill, Hawke)					{ABL016}
    Another basic tree, this contains earth and lightning (or sky) magic.
    Chain Lighting has a rather restrictive range, but its damage is good,
    and it really does bad things to STAGGERED targets. Tempest is a
    lightning version of Firestorm that deals half the damage over twice
    the time? Still not sold? Me either. You also have Rock Armor, which
    boosts your Armor by 25%, which, for 10% of your Mana, isn't a bad
    deal, really. Especially if you're Hawke, and therefore liable to get a
    decent Armor score. On the earth side we have Stonefist, which deals
    good damage, and if upgraded has outstanding physical force.. but
    really, I'd rather have the speed impediment and BRITTLE chance of
    Winter's Grasp. Then there's Petrify, which seems pretty good once 
    upgraded. 100% chance to turn any normal foe BRITTLE, albeit at a +20%
    damage resistance bonus, for 15 seconds? But then there's the word
    'normal', and you just have to wonder how infrequently this will work
    on bosses-when you need it. I'd just as well use Cone of Cold, myself.
    I really don't see any good reason to pick this tree over the Elemental
    Tree-just grab Rock Armor and be happy.
    Spirit (Anders, Merrill, Hawke)					{ABL017}
    Ah, another tree I'm not too fond of. You have the indispensible Dispel
    Magic, which is always handy.. even at a pathetic five meter area.
    Spirit Bolt deals moderate damage, but, as the game itself points out,
    can be used quite often. Walking Bomb functions like Corpse Explosion
    from Diablo II (anybody else still remember that game?), but its radius
    just isn't quite good enough to make it a must-have ability. If you're
    particularly good at micro-management you can put this ability to
    fairly good effect, but I'd opt for the guaranteed damage of a Fireball
    any day. Death Siphon is a real nutter, it's a mode you activate-
    sacrificing 20% of your maximum mana-to gain 5% mana for every corpse
    within 10 meters. This ability will-in most fights-probably not even
    cover the amount of Mana it wastes to activate! If you're not sold by
    the rest of these spells, you won't be sold by Spirit Mastery, which
    hardly even affects the most useful spell in the tree, Dispel Magic.
    Arcane (Anders, Merrill, Hawke)					{ABL018}
    Eww.. well, lets just get this over with. Elemental Weapons will enchant
    the weapons of your entire party, making them deal elemental damage (of
    an element determined by the staff you have equipped) equal to about 10%
    of their weapons' base damage. This means, for 10% of your mana you give
    everybody a damage bonus of a handful of points. Sounds good, but for
    most early-to-mid level weapons, it'll only add a handful of points.
    Granted, if you're a Dual Weapon Rogue this is great, as your weapons
    have high base damage, and you make lots of attacks with them. If you're
    a Warrior, your weapons have absurdly poor damage, and most of your
    damage comes from Abilities, making the effects of this negligible.
    Then there's Arcane Shield, which can boost your (and eventually your
    parties') Defense by 20%. Again, great if you're a Rogue as you actually
    have a Defense score, not so great for everyone else. The elemental
    resistance is nice, but you need to decie if it's worth two Ability
    Points and 20% of your mana. Most Mages have Mind Blast by default
    (apparently it's their Miasmic Flask), and it does what it's supposed
    to do-stun enemies and give you a chance to escape their attentions.
    It really only works well if it's upgraded, however, and since you are
    the center of the effect, you need to be in the thick of combat to use
    it offensively. It's low mana cost and cooldown time make it very
    spamable, however, and capable of keeping lesser enemies off guard.
    Barrier would be nice-100% damage resistance is fantastic-but with a 
    six second duration and a 45 second cooldown you're better off just
    letting your Warriors use Stonewall. Then there's Crushing Prison, which
    was so fun in the last game.. in this game, however, it only has a 40%
    chance to even slow down normal enemies, and it deals its considerable
    damage-again, to one enemy-over ten seconds. There is no way in which
    Horror does not exceed this.
    Entropy (Merrill, Hawke)					{ABL019}
    The Entropy Tree is a bit of a mixed bag. First the Hex of Torment spell
    only affects one creature, but when you give a strong enemy a 25% 
    damage reduction penalty and your allies a 100% critical hit chance
    against it for 15 seconds, you can really put a dent in any enemy, and
    at 20 mana it's a bargain. An upgraded Misdirection Hex takes away any
    chance an enemy has to land a critical hit, and reduces their attack
    and movement speed by 75%, and lasts for 10 seconds. Put on an enemy
    Rogue and this can pretty much take them out of the battle. Finally for
    the good abilities we have Horror, which has a flat 100% chance to work
    and it stuns enemies for 10 seconds, upgraded it'll do a fairly large
    amount of damage every second it's stunned. It's a far better spell
    than Crushing Prison, as it does more damage, works more often, and
    fully takes any enemy out of the fight for the same amount of time.
    Sleep, on the other hand, suffers like Crushing Prison, as it's only
    likely to work on normal enemies 50% of the time-which is pretty lame.
    Especially since even when they're asleep they'll awaken after being
    hit. Finally there's Entropic Cloud, which tries to do a little bit of
    everything to the enemy and rarely succeeds at much. For that much
    mana, why not just use Horror? Sure, Entropic Cloud has a pathetic
    range, but I'd rather have a certain spell than a bunch of low-chance
    Creation (Anders, Hawke)					{ABL020}
    Another tree of mixed usefulness. Glyph of Paralysis can be useful if,
    and only if, it's upgraded. Paralyzing two normal enemies for four
    seconds is just a joke, but paralyzing four enemies for 10 seconds
    actually has some weight. Glyph of Repulsion can knock smaller enemies
    back for a duration of ten seconds, but there are so many better things
    you can spend thirty mana on, it just seems like a waste to bother.
    Heal is the basic and most useful spell in this tree, although it's
    really not enough by itself. A fourty second cooldown? That's 
    ridiculous. Finally there are the two buffs. Heroic Aura isn't much to
    write home about until it's upgraded, but once it is it gives the
    entire party +15% Attack, +8% Defense, +10% Damage, and +10% Critical
    Chance, although 20% of your mana is a hefty price to pay for it.
    Haste increases your attack speed by +50%, but with a ten second
    duration and a sixty second cooldown you'll have to weigh whether it's
    really worth it. If your Hawke is a Dual Weapon thief, it might be
    worth considering, as attack speed is wonderful, but Two-Handed
    Hawkes have their own ways of increaing their speed, and the other
    possible party members-Weapon and Shield Warriors, Archer Rogues, and
    other Mages just won't get as much out of it, since they're only
    secondary damage dealers.
    Force Mage (Hawke)						{ABL021}
    Force mages are a fearsome sight on the battlefield, bending the laws of
    nature to crush, toss, and debilitate their foes. Kirkwall's Circle 
    houses a higher-than-usual percentage of mages who excel at this 
    specialization, and their combined research as refined the school
    Force Magemust be purchased using a specialization point before any 
    talents may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted 
    at levels 7 and 14.
    Physical Force: 125% for all attacks and spells
    Elemental Force: 125% for all attacks and spells
    The Force Mage has spells that are more designed to keep enemies off
    their feet than they are to damage them. On top of this, these spells
    are typically fairly expensive to cast. They are also very good at
    knocking enemies down and affecting large areas. Case in point is
    Telekinetic Burst, which-when upgraded has a six meter area and deals
    30x physical force. It's a parlor trick compared to the ability it
    leads to, however. Pull of the Abyss costs the same mana and only has a
    five second great cooldown, but is area is-when upgraded-a whopping
    fifteen meters. It has the same physical force, and slows enemy attacks
    and movement by 50%. That's better than Telekinetic Burst and 
    Misdirection Hex put together! It's range makes up for its short 
    duration (five seconds) and lower rate of slow (-50% versus Misdirection
    Hex's -75%). Gravitic Ring is more of the same, getting up to eighteen
    meters and slowing enemies based upon how close they are to the center 
    of the effect. Sort of seems like a Mass Effect ability, no? Fist of
    the Maker is the sole damage-dealing spell, and when it's upgraded it
    covers a hefty ten meters, although it deals a fairly paltry amount of
    damage, at least it does with without regard to enemy armor, and it
    affects a lot of enemies. It's especially handy against STAGGERED
    enemies, to whom it deal 900% normal damage. It also comes with a
    cooldown reduction to make it usable every ten seconds, but at a cost
    of fourty mana per use, it's not all that feasible to spam it. Lastly
    you can buy the Passive Ability Unshakable, which gives you a +100
    bonus to your Fortitude, making you just a little over twice as
    resistant as a good Warrior will become. It's a good tree, especially
    if you don't need to rely on it for your physical damage.
    Spirit Healer (Hawke)						{ABL022}
    Few mages are watched more closely by the templars than spirit healers.
    For all the good they can do, their consorting with any denizen of the
    demon-infested Fade is a matter of intense suspicion. Still, the 
    benefits outweigh the risks, if only just.
    Spirit Healer must be purchased using a specialization point before any 
    talents may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted 
    at levels 7 and 14.
    Mana/stamina: +25
    This tree makes Anders' Vengeance Tree look like a joke. First, you get
    +25 Mana just for picking the tree, and second.. just look at that
    healing! Okay, Healing Aura kind of sucks, because it's focal point is
    you, and only characters within eight meters will get the benefits, but
    that's fine, Force Mage had a bum ability too (but it's still better
    than Ander's Panacea, which sucks twice as much.) Since we know that we
    need a Mage who can heal in our party, lets just compare the two best
    healing alternatives, and show how good Spirit Healer is. First we 
    have Anders' Aid Allies, which heals 30% of the parties' Health,
    costs 35 mana, and has a cooldown of 50 seconds. Compared to Group
    Heal of the Spirit Healer, which heals up to 50% of the parties' 
    Health, costs 30 mana, and has a cooldown of 40 seconds. Next up it's
    Anders' Regroup, which revives a fallen companion and restores 30%
    of their Health and 40% of their stamina at a cost of 45 mana, with a
    cooldown of 120 seconds. Compare this to Revival, which revives a
    party member with 50% of their Health, 60% of their Stamina, has a
    mana cost of 40, and a cooldown time of 100 seconds. The Spirit 
    Healer also has two Passive Abilities we should mention-Second Chance,
    which prevents party members from suffering injuries. Of course, you
    could always just use potions and Injury Kits to fix injuries, so it's
    not a great ability. Then there's Vitality, which gives you a ten point
    bonus to Constitution, which is fifty Health-or a 50% boost to your
    base Health. As if this weren't enough, your Health Regeneration Rate
    improves by +100, which makes you a fitting beacon of health. The only
    downside is you'll have to spend seven Ability Points to get these 
    abilities and their upgrades, where Anders only needs to spend three on
    Blood Mage (Hawke)						{ABL023}
    The Blood Mage is built around the idea of using Health instead of 
    mana (at a rate of one Health for two mana) to cast some unique spells.
    First, lets discuss Sacrifice and and Grave Robber, which only exist to
    to restore your Health (and hence are only useful if you buy into the
    other abilities, since you can't heal while using Blood Magic mode.)
    Blood Magic itself takes a ridiculous 50% of your mana pool to use,
    but with an upgrade can sustain itself by using your Health at a 3:1
    ratio. With about 100 Health, and 200 Mana, Blood Magic allows you to
    have a noticably higher spellcasting potential of 300 points. Now,
    onto the two abilities that you'll actually use. First there's 
    Hemorrhage, which can deal heavy damage in a ten meter area. None of
    this damage is blocked (as the spell reduces enemy armor and damage
    resistance down to 0%), and has a 50% chance to paralyze normal enemies
    and deals a whopping 900% damage to STAGGERED enemies. The next ability
    is the one 'mind control' spell in the game-Blood Slave. This can
    outright kill lesser foes once it's ten-second duration is over, and
    otherwise has a 100% chance to enslave normal enemies. Again, normal
    enemies. I don't see how that's much better than the Confusion ability
    the Rogue has, and it doesn't hurt you to use it. So, you've got one
    good spell. Ehh.. Grave Robber requires you to be within six meters of
    a corpse (or, if you upgrade it, within six meters of any enemy). At
    least it doesn't require you to expend any mana. Then there's the
    aforementioned Sacrifice, which takes 20% of an ally's Health and gives
    it to you. If you get the upgrade you get +50% of the Health loss
    (or 30% of the ally's health), and if you kill them, an improved
    regeneration rate. Still, they can always heal themselves other ways,
    so it's at least a guaranteed way to heal yourself without getting into
    the line of fire. So lets do the count, that's one good ability, but to
    ensure you can use it well you need to expend.. five or six Ability
    Points? That just seems bogus to me.
    Sample Hawke Rogue						{ABL024}
    The Hawke provided here will be a Dual Weapon Rogue, as again, I prefer
    the Dual Weapon version to the Archer. This Hawke is built around 
    dealing as much damage to one enemy as quickly as possible-to achieve
    this I'll rely heavily on the Dual Weapon and Assassin Trees, with a
    good bit of help from the Shadow Tree to boost my Sneak attack and
    critical hit damage and to avoid drawing unwanted attention.
    Dual Weapon
    (1) Backstab
    (2) Critical Strike
    (3) Explosive Strike
    (4) Twin Fangs
    (5) Reversed Grip
    (1) Stealth
    (2) Evade
    (3) Ambush
    (1) Mark of Death
    (2) Bloodlust
    (3) Pinpoint Strikes
    (4) Relentless Strikes
    (5) Devious Harm
    (6) Assassinate
    (7) Overkill
    (1) Inconspicuous
    (2) Pinpoint Precision
    (3) Indiscernable
    (4) Disorienting Criticals
    (5) Decoy
    (6) Shadow Veil
    (7) Imperceptible
    Dual Weapon (Isabela, Hawke)					{ABL025}
    Dual-Weapon rogues wield an instrument of death in each hand. This
    talent tree is required for characters to equip dual weapons.
    Dual Weapon is my personal favorite tree. Combined with Assassin and
    Shadow you can rule the battlefield. Backstab is a great ability for
    any Rogue, as it can cause you to evade attacks if timed correctly and
    does a fair amount of damage. Getting it the 100% critical chance perk
    can be useful but isn't necessary considering that you'll naturally
    improve your critical chance up to near 50% (especially with Unforgiving
    Chain) and when you obtain Pinpoint Strikes you'll always critically hit
    for 10-20 seconds. Now that we mentioned it, Unforgiving Chain is a nice
    ability that gives you a +2% critical hit rate every time you hit, for
    ten hits (up to a 20% chance). Again, with Pinpoint Strikes it's not 
    essential, but you'll be hitting alot, and gaining that much critical
    hit potential from a passive ability isn't bad. Most importantly, you
    need it to get Explosive Strike, which gains 50% physical damage as you
    complete attacks. The idea is simple, get ten hits in a combo for 20%
    critical chance from Unforgiving Chain, then launch an Explosive Strike
    at +500% damage. Best of all, there's Twin Fangs, which deals damage
    about equal to twice of what the +500% Explosive Strike does, and always
    critically hits. The last and lowliest ability in the tree is Lacerate
    (and its upgrade). Too bad it's not a Passive Ability, as 10% of your
    Stamina for an ability with a 10% chance to deal paltry damage just 
    doesn't seem all that great to me.
    Archery (Varric, Hawke)						{ABL026}
    Archers specialize in picking off distant targets and suppressing enemy
    ranks. This tree is required for characters to equip bows.
    Varric is your default Archer (although he calls his Archery skill
    Bianca), and that's a role he can govern, as far as I'm concerned. The
    big disappointment with bows are their slow firing speed. With
    Inconspicuous, threat isn't a big deal, and certainly not worth keeping
    a character out of melee over. With all the same damage boosts, a
    Dual Weapon Rogue has a much higher DPS than an Archer, although beyond
    this they both fare pretty well. Pinning Shot can be just outrageous
    in this game, with easily the highest damage of any Archery skill, and
    when upgraded it DISORIENTs enemies, and pins them for up to 15 seconds.
    Shattering Arrow is great against BRITTLE enemies, and Hail of Arrows
    deals minor damage, but can hamper enemies in a huge area for a short
    while. Archer's Lance deals fair damage (especially againt BRITTLE 
    foes), and can outright kill lesser enemies, but getting a line of
    enemies requires more than a bit lof luck, and chances are you won't
    hit more than three enemies at a time under the best of circumstances.
    Sabotage (Isabela, Varric, Hawke)				{ABL027}
    Rogues who excel at these abilities are adept at stupefying and
    undermining their foes.
    Sabotage has a few interesting abilities, including one every Rogue
    seems to start with-Miasmic Flask, which is good for breaking aggro and
    leaving foes vulnerable.. at least, at the beginning of the game. Rush
    is also interesting, if for the sheer fact that it's one of the Rogue's
    few damaging ranged attacks. It doesn't do much damage, but, lets say
    your mid-level, say level 12, and you do 52 Damage-with Blitz you'll do
    52 damage to all enemies you hit with it, which is bound to be several.
    Now lets say you have Pinpoint Strikes on, and a fairly high critical
    hit rate-say, 100% (which is easily doable by this level.) You'll deal
    104 damage, which isn't anything to go crazy over, but with a 16x
    Physical Force you will knock nearly everything down. It's something to
    consider, anyways. Fatiguing Fog will slow enemy movement and attacks,
    and with upgrades it can give obscure you and make enemies DISORIENTED.
    If you want to do either of the latter two things, the best way to do
    it is with some additional slowdown. Finally there's Confusion. It's got
    a very nice duration (20 seconds) but a horribly small area of effect
    (4 meters.) Eh. All in all I'd rather invest my points into other
    things than bother with the latter two abilities at all.
    Specialist (Isabela, Varric, Hawke)				{ABL028}
    Specialist rely on precision, power, and speed to overwhelm their 
    This tree is nothing but a waste of points, and I'll tell you exactly
    why. If I didn't it wouldn't be much of a FAQ, right? First, it consists
    of three Sustained Modes that don't work together. To make you feel
    good, however, they throw in the passive Harmony, which gives you some
    perks of the other abilities while using one of them, to sucker you in.
    But lets look at the abilities. Power gives you a 3% chance to stun. By
    investing three Ability Points you get a 6% chance to stun, and you deal
    extra damage against Stunned enemies. By comparison Miasmatic Flask
    automatically stuns, and you start out with it, although there's no
    extra damage involved.. but it works on a radius. Also, Lacerate in the
    Dual Weapon tree has a 10% to deal extra damage. Even though it's 
    slightly less damage, it takes up half the Stamina. Use an ability like
    Inconspicuous and it doesn't really even matter if your enemy is stunned
    or not, they won't be attacking you anyways. Next there's Precision.
    This one's easy, attack is useless because any Rogue will likely have
    more than they can shake a stick at. Second critical chance sucks 
    because Pinpoint Strikes raises your critical hit rate to 100%. Granted
    if you had Precision (+15%), a high Dexterity (which you will get, about
    +30%) Throw the Gauntlet and Parry (20%), and the Duelist Specialization 
    bonus (+5%) you'd have a critical hit rate of 70%, but at the expense
    of quite a few more Ability Points (quite a few meaning about six more).
    Also consider that two of the best Rogue attacks, Twin Fangs and 
    Assassinate already have a 100% critical hit rate, which fills the gap
    between Pinpoint Strike uses nicely and renders the need of such a high
    base critical hit rate redundant. Lastly there's Speed. A +15% attack
    speed is paltry compared to just having a Mage cast Haste, although the
    10% cooldown for all talents is pretty nice.. still considering that
    you'd have to spend six Ability Points to get the best benefits out of
    this tree (+15% attack speed, 10% cooldown, +10% Attack, +5% critical
    chance, +1% stun chance), it just doesn't seem worth that high of an
    investment. Especially when you look at what those same six points will
    get you in Dual Weapon, Archery, Shadow, and Assassin..
    Scoundrel (Isabela, Varric, Hawke)				{ABL029}
    Rogues proficient in these dastardly talents delight in exploiting their
    enemies' weaknesses and controlling the flow of battle.
    Man, we're almost done with these skills. If only there was an easy
    Ability Tree that I could describe quickly to speed this up.. Oh, here
    it is! Scoundrel sucks. Blindside is decent, but honestly most enemies
    won't be engaging allies. Once you start beating on them, they'll focus
    on you. And Twist the Knife is outshone by Pinpoint Strikes. Then you
    have Armistice and Goad, which break aggro from other party members,
    which frankly should be the job of the Weapon and Shield character in
    your party. Failing that, most Mages come with Mind Blast and most
    Rogues have Miasmic Flask. They can break aggro just fine. Back to Back
    is just stupid, although I suppose if you were trying to make the best
    of the 120% damage on Blindside it would make sense. Brand gives other
    members of your party a 10% Critical Chance against an enemy, which 
    might have some effect on a boss. Finally Follow-Through gives such a
    paltry bonus.. ugh.. It's not like these abilities are downright awful,
    but aren't there better things you could spend your points on?
    Subterfuge (Isabela, Varric, Hawke)				{ABL030}
    Subterfuge talents focus on trick maneuvering and deception to gain the
    upper hand in battle.
    The Subterfuge Tree, as its name implies, contains the Stealth Ability.
    Yeah, it's a automatic way to break away from attacking enemies, but 
    it's just not a fantastic ability, not on its own, and not with any of
    its upgrades or subsequent abilties. There is one exception-if you get
    the Shadow specialization, getting Ambush might be a good idea. First
    it'll make all Backstabs automatically critical hits, and second it'll
    cause you to always gain a critical hit when you attack from Stealth. 
    Since you'll have a passive 3% chance to auto-Sneak, it can come in
    handy. Evade is a more interesting way to break from a confrontation, 
    although the best aggro-breaking ability the Rogue has is Inconspicuous 
    in the Shadow Tree. Speaking of Evade, it has a chance to stun enemies 
    while breaking aggro, and leads to the passive ability Subtlety, which 
    reduces the threat you generate by 25%. Still doesn't match 
    Inconspicuous, but then again, nothing really does. As for Chameleon's 
    Breath, I don't really care too much for it, especially with such a 
    small radius.
    Shadow (Hawke)							{ABL031}
    Shadow rogues employ misdirection and an unassuming facade to waylay
    their opponents with devastating attacks. As a smuggling hub, Kirkwall
    has more than a few practitioners of these techniques who will pass down
    their secrets to those they deem to be sufficiently skilled. 
    Shadow must be purchased using a specialization point before any talents 
    may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted at levels 
    7 and 14.
    Stealth Chance: 3% when Hawke takes damage
    Duration: 5s
    Now, if you're looking for a way to break aggro and keep yourself safe,
    this is the tree to look at. Better than any other method is the 
    ability Inconspicuous, which, when upgraded, not only sheds 100% of your
    threat, but reduces your threat generation to nil, meaning you really
    shouldn't get attacked at all unless you're the only character on your
    team left alive. Then there's Pinpoint Precision, which should be
    married to Pinpoint Strikes. An ability that gives a 100% critical hit
    rate, and an ability that increases critical damage by 25%? It's match
    made in heaven. The other abilities I'm less sold on. Disorienting
    Criticals is nice, but since there are only so many ways to become
    obscured (one is getting Shadow Viel and Stealth, but the duration is
    dreadfully short, another is with Chameleon's Breath, but it only works 
    in a 5 meter area (or 8 meters, if upgraded), and the last is with
    an upgraded Fatiguing Fog, but this is only a six meter range. All
    options leave much to be desired. Predator gives you a permanent 100%
    critical rate when you're flanking an enemy, but this seems moot with
    Pinpoint Strikes. Finally there's Decoy. Frankly Inconspicuous is a
    good enough way to reduce threat, and who really cares about the fire
    damage if the enemy beats up your decoy? It's peanuts compared to the
    damage you can do in twenty seconds with Inconspicuous.
    Duelist (Hawke)							{ABL032}
    Duelists specialize in calling out single opponents and eliminating
    them, quickly. While the art of dueling is less popular in Kirkwall than
    in the more-refined cities of Orlais, there are still plenty of trainers
    who can teach rogues they deem sufficiently quick of wit. The rogue's
    preferred weapon, be it blade or bow, has little consequence on this
    tree. A distracted and enraged foe is an easy target at any range.
    Duelist must be purchased using a specialization point before any 
    talents may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted
    at levels 7 and 14.
    Critical Chance: +5%
    The duelist is all about taking on an enemy one-on-one, while combining 
    favorable buffs for you and debuffs for the chosen foe. Frankly,
    however, my Rogues tend to do better when they're not the explicit 
    target of an enemy. This tree is all about boosting your Attack and
    Defense (by up to 60% with passive abilities and benefits from Parry and
    Throw the Gauntlet). Frankly, however, Inconspicuous gives me better
    odds-having the enemy go after allies and ignore me is better than
    having one pay sole attention to me, along with whatever enemies might
    be out there, and Assassin has better damage bonuses. The Defense
    bonus is nice, but not foolproof (like Inconspicuous, and for most of 
    the game my Rogue had a 90%+ chance to hit a normal enemy, which 
    rendered a good bit of the Duelist Tree useless to me. Frankly I'd just
    rather have Shadow and Assassin than Duelist.
    Assassin (Hawke)						{ABL033}
    Anyone can kill for money, but those who follow the Antivan traditions
    know how to do so with style. While every assassin is different, some
    favoring up close and personal kills and others striking at range, they
    are all deadly predators and skilled at exploiting their foe's 
    weaknesses. There are a surprisingly large number of assassins at work
    in Kirkwall, although most are away on contract at any given time.
    Assassin must be purchased using a specialization point before any 
    talents may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted
    at levels 7 and 14.
    Critical Damage: +10%
    Shadow had a few good abilities, and Duelist left me desiring more, but
    Assassin is where it's at. First you get a brute 10% bonus to critical
    damage for picking this tree, and you make all the critical chance
    bonuses in all other trees obsolete by obtaining Pinpoint Strikes. This
    makes all of your hits critical hits for 10 seconds (20 seconds 
    upgraded). With a 40 second cooldown, this means half your attacks at
    any given time should be critical hits. Also you can pick up Devious
    Harm, which gives you another 1% critical damage per point of Cunning.
    Now, most any Rogue worth anything will end up with at or near 40
    Cunning. That's a 40% critical hit chance. Add this to the base 50%,
    plus the 30% we expect you to get from Cunning, the bonus from 
    selecting the Assassin Tree (10%) and the 25% bonus from Pinpoint 
    Precision and you have a bonus to damage on critical hits of 155%.
    If you have a 100% critical rate for 20 seconds.. Absolutely unreal.
    And that's not even considering damage boosts from using your Archery
    or Dual Weapon abilities! Then there's Mark of Death, which can be
    used to further cut an enemies damage resistance by up to 50% for
    20 seconds. How perfect. Lastly we have Assassinate, which automatically
    critically hits (and therefore like Twin Fange should be used when 
    Pinpoint Strikes isn't active, to tide you over) and deals whopping
    damage to boot. Oh, and just to keep the party going you have the
    passive ability Bloodlust. I poo-poo'd the Warrior's Death Blow because
    they already gain Stamina-alot of it-for killing enemies, but this new-
    passive-source of Stamina for the Rogue should not be ignored.
    |								       |
    |			Updates/Thanks {UPD001}			       |
    |								       |
    This is my second near-launch FAQ post, and I'm hoping this one goes as
    well as my Fallout: New Vegas Character Creation FAQ went. I expect to
    be wrong about some things, but hopefully I'll be corrected and 
    enlightened. These are my expectations, anyways. Since there's not
    really anything to update or anybody to thank yet, I'll make a list of
    updates and changes I plan to make in the future:
    Version 1.01 Character Creation FAQ posted (3/13/2011):
     o=o Add various NPC builds.
     o=o Add the unique NPC Ability Trees to the Abilities section.
     o=o Replay to a point where I can discover the Defense values I'm
         currently missing.*
     o=o Put in locations of various Attribute and Talent Tomes.*
     o=o Complete the Full FAQ/Walkthrough.
    *(If anybody out there has knowledge of these sections, by all means
    let me know. It'll save me the trouble of finding them all myself.)