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    Class Guide by asmiroth

    Version: 0.5 | Updated: 01/19/10 | Printable Version | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    ===================
    
    Dragon Age: Origins
    
    Class Guide - v 0.5
    
    by Marc Seguin aka Asmiroth
    
    strongandlong@hotmail.com
    
    Copyright 2009 Marc Seguin
    
    ====================
    
    
    -----------------
    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    -----------------
    
    Introduction 	(DAO:1)
    
    
    Class Basics 	(DAO:2)
    
    - Warrior  	(DAO:2.1)
    - Rogue    	(DAO:2.2)
    - Mage 	    	(DAO:2.3)
    
    
    Group Makeup 	(DAO:3)
    
    - Typical Group (DAO:3.1)
    - Better Group  (DAO:3.2)
    - Best Group 	(DAO:3.3)
    
    
    Characters 	(DAO:4)
    
    - Alistair	(DAO:4.1)
    - Dog		(DAO:4.2)
    - Leliana	(DAO:4.3)
    - Secret	(DAO:4.4)
    - Morrigan	(DAO:4.5)
    - Oghren	(DAO:4.6)
    - Shale		(DAO:4.7)
    - Sten		(DAO:4.8)
    - Wynne		(DAO:4.9)
    - Zevran	(DAO:4.10)
    
    
    Warrior 	(DAO:5)
    
    - Tank		(DAO:5.1)
    -- Attributes	(DAO:5.1.1)
    -- Abilities	(DAO:5.1.2)
    -- Build	(DAO:5.1.3)
    -- Summary 	(DAO:5.1.4)
    
    - Melee		(DAO:5.2)
    -- Attributes	(DAO:5.2.1)
    -- Abilities	(DAO:5.2.2)
    -- Build	(DAO:5.2.3)
    -- Summary	(DAO:5.2.4)
    
    
    Rogue	 	(DAO:6)
    
    - Melee		(DAO:6.1)
    -- Attributes	(DAO:6.1.1)
    -- Abilities	(DAO:6.1.2)
    -- Build	(DAO:6.1.3)
    -- Summary 	(DAO:6.1.4)
    
    - Ranged	(DAO:6.2)
    -- Attributes	(DAO:6.2.1)
    -- Abilities	(DAO:6.2.2)
    -- Build	(DAO:6.2.3)
    -- Summary	(DAO:6.2.4)
    
    
    Mage	 	(DAO:7)
    
    - Tank		(DAO:7.1)
    -- Attributes	(DAO:7.1.1)
    -- Abilities	(DAO:7.1.2)
    -- Build	(DAO:7.1.3)
    -- Summary 	(DAO:7.1.4)
    
    - Caster	(DAO:7.2)
    -- Attributes	(DAO:7.2.1)
    -- Abilities	(DAO:7.2.2)
    -- Build	(DAO:7.2.3)
    -- Summary	(DAO:7.2.4)
    
    -------
    VERSION
    -------
    
    Jan 18, 2009 - 0.5 - More fixes
    Dec 02, 2009 - 0.4 - More build fixes, and typos corrected
    Nov 28, 2009 - 0.3 - Fixed some errors in build sections
    Nov 27, 2009 - 0.2 - Added builds, modified Rogue section, clean-up
    Nov 20, 2009 - 0.1 - First Version
    
    
    ------------
    INTRODUCTION (DAO:1)
    ------------
    Dragon Age:Origins is the sequel in pricinple of the Baldur's Gate, Icewind 
    Dale and Neverwinter Nights line of games.  Though DA:O doesn't necessarily
    follow the Dungeons & Dragons method of gameplay, many similarities exist.
    What we find instead is a mix of D&D with multiplayer online games, such as
    World of Warcraft.  All in all, this makes the game much more accessible to a
    wider group of people than your standard pen and paper RPG.
    
    And yes, there are spoilers abound.
    
    
    
    ------------
    CLASS BASICS (DAO:2)
    ------------
    If you've ever played any RPG in the past, you're probably familiar with the 
    roles required to succeed in the long run.  Where some games require only brute
    force and others exceedingly tedious strategy, DA:O tends to favor the latter.
    In only a brief amount of situations will sending in your group blindly 
    succeed.  You will find yourself pausing the game, issuing commands and 
    probably reloading a few times along the way.  Due to this requirement of 
    strategy, it's a good idea to understand the basics of class makeup.
    
    
    Warrior (DAO:2.1)
    -------
    Warriors are your typical grunt force trauma.  They wade in, take a beating and
    dish one out in kind.  These are the characters that get deep and dirty in
    combat, so they require a slightly less hands-on approach.  With the right
    tactics set-up (the default scrapper is usually good), sending a warrior to 
    attack and forgetting about him for a few seconds will not kill you.
    
    One of the key features of a warrior is their heavy armor and weapons.  The
    former makes them quite effective at absorbing damage, if they can maintain the
    enemies' focus for long enough.  Threaten and Taunt are key abilities for this
    type of combatant.  When a character's main role is to absorb damage, they are
    referred to as a tank.
    
    Looking at the other side of the warrior coin, damage dealing.  Warriors are
    huge brutes swinging massive weapons.  In the later stages of the game, they
    can also attack a group of enemies with a single swing, making them quite 
    useful for group attacks.  Characters that focus on dealing damage to enemies
    at close range are referred to as melee damage-dealers, or melee for short.
    
    
    Rogue (DAO:2.2)
    -----
    Rogues are your typical silent stalker.  Residing in the shadows, they are the
    masters of ranged physical attacks, backstabs and poisons.  Not to mention the
    other utility skills such as picking pockets and locks.  Similar to the
    warrior, rogues focus on dealing maximum damage but while taking the least
    amount possible.  If they can't kill the enemy quickly, they will use
    additional skills to further disable it.  Typically, a rogue does not deal well
    with multiple enemies at once but excels at single target combat.
    
    There are really two key areas of focus for rogues in DA:O, damage up close and
    damage from range with a bow or crossbow.  This has an impact in attribute
    allocation and even more so with abilities.  A fully powered rogue at range is
    by far the deadliest character in the game.  Ranged attackers are called ranged
    damage-dealers, or ranged for short.
    
    
    Mage (DAO:2.3)
    ----
    The mystical mage.  There really isn't much that a mage doesn't do, if only
    limited by their mana pool and abilities selected.  A mage can fight up close,
    they can cast from the back, the can control groups of enemies, they can heal,
    they can even transform into other beasts.
    
    At the most basic level, a mage is the type of character the needs the most
    finesse.  Just leaving them to cast whatever spell whenever is not the best
    way to win a fight and in some cases, will kill you outright.  In part due to
    the large amount of spells they can choose from, you have a lot to consider in
    every battle you enter.
    
    Though the ability to heal is a very important one, it is never going to be the
    primary role of a mage.  They are your ace in pocket, casting a clever spell to
    trick or trap the enemy making life easier for every other character.
    
    Of very interesting note is that with the proper specialization, the mage can
    fill in perfectly as a tank.  So where you might find your options lacking in
    your party members you can also make your own true jack of all trades.
    
    
    
    ------------
    GROUP MAKEUP (DAO:3)
    ------------
    Though you could try to play the game alone if you wanted to, DA:O allows you
    and 3 party members to form a group.  By the time you finish Lotherian, you'll
    potentially have 6 members to choose from, which is more than enough for the
    rest of the game.  Over the course of the entire game, you will encounter 6
    warriors, 2 rogues and 2 mages.  Combined with the class you've selected, you
    can certainly form any type of team you would like.
    
    On easy and normal, it's very possible to play the entire game without any
    mages to cast healing spells.  You could have 4 warriors, use potions and
    poisons and get through 99% of the game with relative ease, if you pay
    attention. On the hardest level however, you cannot forgo a mage for 2 main
    reasons.  The first is their ability to heal members, which is more effective
    than potions alone.  The second is their ability to stun/control enemies in
    combat.  Many times you will encounter 2-4 ranked enemies who can easily tear
    your group apart.  A well-timed Petrify or Crushing Prison is a lifesaver in
    those cases.
    
    
    Typical Group (DAO:3.1)
    -------------
    Your typical group in combat will contain one tank, one mage and 2 damage
    dealers.  In the early stages of the game and on easier difficulties you can 
    choose to have all of them in melee range if you wish.  The downside is that
    you are grouping up your characters, which can put them all at risk of area
    effect spells and abilities.  This also means that your characters need to run
    around in order to engage enemies at a distance.  Any time you are not swinging
    your weapon at an enemy and they are is time where you are losing.
    
    
    Better Group (DAO:3.2)
    ------------
    A tank, a mage and 2 ranged attackers are an improvement over the typical
    group.  While your tank runs in and engages the enemy, their role is not to 
    deal damage but to absorb it, so there is no time lost.  In the meantime, all
    your ranged attackers can focus on and eliminate enemy targets with relative
    ease.  A possible hiccup here is that enemies will start to run towards your
    ranged attackers, meaning the tank will be running around a whole lot and
    you'll need to really manage your team.  Still, from a damage dealing 
    perspective, this group is a very solid make-up.
    
    
    Best Group (DAO:3.3)
    ----------
    Obviously using the word best is subjective.  Everyone will have their own
    opinion about this but in my experience, this is the easiest way to move 
    through the game without continual reloading.  As mentioned in the previous
    section, ranged combat is preferable to melee since you're dealing damage the 
    entire time rather than running around.  It also ensures that you're using the
    most powerful class in the game to their maximum potential.
    
    The best group is made up of a tank and 3 mages.  I'm sure you're thinking, wow
    it's hard enough to manage a single mage, how can I handle 3?  That's the 
    beauty about it, you only really need to manage a single one.  Put the other 
    two on tactics that attack whomever you are targetting and let the computer
    cast away. I can guarantee that 3 mages casting Blizzard, Inferno and Tempest
    will destroy any group of enemies you encounter.  Even more so if they all have
    access to Force Field to protect your tank and each other.  If you're running
    with an Arcane Mage, you could potentially have Frost, Fire and Telekenetic
    Weapon spells all active at the same time!
    
    There are many ways to build your group and in the end it's up to you to decide
    which formation works best for you.
    
    
    
    ----------
    CHARACTERS (DAO:4)
    ----------
    Throughout the game you'll encounter a wide variety of characters.  I briefly
    mentioned the fact that you'll encounter a total of 10 throughout but keeping
    them all with you at the same time can be a challenge.
    
    An important note when characters join your group: they will typically join at
    your level or +/- 1.  If you find Wynne when your character is level 17, then 
    she will be level 17 and already have all her attributes and spells selected.
    So if you want to have the ultimate control on your group's characters, find
    them early.
    
    All characters are optional, except for perhaps Alistair in a short part of the
    game.
    
    
    Alistair (DAO:4.1)
    --------
    Location Found: Ostagar
    
    Role: Alistair comes with 2 abilities already in the Shield tree, so it's a 
    good idea to keep him there and build him to become a tank.
    
    
    Dog (DAO:4.2)
    ---
    Location Found: Road between Ostagar and Lotherian (if you did the quest in
    Ostagar)
    
    Role: Being a dog, it's role is purely offensive and similar to a melee 
    character but without weapons.  You can equip him with a collar and some paint
    to enhance him but for the most part, it's a pet that you point to a target and
    he'll bite til they die.
    
    
    Leliana (DAO:4.3)
    -------
    Location Found: Lotherian
    
    Role: Leliana comes with some archery abilities already selected but being
    early in the game, you can move her to another role if you wish.  I prefer 
    keeping her at range though and focusing entirely on dexterity.  At the end of
    the game, she is the dealiest character on your team.
    
    
    Loghain (DAO:4.4)
    -------
    Location Found: Denerim, late in the game
    
    Role: He comes in very late in the game as a warrior.  Odds are you won't level
    him more than 1-2 levels and his role is purely that of a 2 handed warrior.
    
    
    Morrigan (DAO:4.5)
    --------
    Location Found: Wilds after Ostagar
    
    Role: The "evil" mage in the game, since you collect her early you can focus
    her on whatever role you wish.  I personally don't like the Shapeshifter spells
    since you lose access to all other mage spells but it's your preference.
    
    
    Oghren (DAO:4.6)
    ------
    Location Found: Orzammar
    
    Role: He's set up as a beserker and for 2 handed weapon damage.  This is a
    great role to keep him in, especially if you catch him early in the game.
    
    
    Shale (DAO:4.7)
    -----
    Location Found: Honnleath - DLC
    
    Role: Shale is a golem you can collect through downloadable content.  Being a
    golem, you would think he would focus on damage dealing but in fact by the end
    of the game, you'll have maxed out every skill of his.  Combined with the gems
    he uses to augment his body, it's up to you to decide if you want him to be a
    tank or a damage dealer.  Be warned that he does area of effect damage, so if
    the rest of the group is near him, they will get damaged as well.
    
    
    Sten (DAO:4.8)
    ----
    Location Found: Lotherian
    
    Role: You find Sten very early in the game but he still has a couple points
    into 2 handed weapons.  Since you already have Alistair in tank-mode, keep Sten
    in melee mode.  Statisically, he will be stronger than Ogren because you can 
    give him 2 specializations - though odds are one will be beserker anyhow.
    
    
    Wynne (DAO:4.9)
    -----
    Location Found: Circle of Mages
    
    Role: Wynne comes in already lined up to be a Sprit Healer, having a group heal
    and revival lined up.  Being a mage, these are two good spells and even the
    entire tree is good later in the game.  Try to collect her early so that you 
    can maximize her attribute distribution and move her either into Arcane Mage or
    Blood Mage.
    
    
    Zevran (DAO:4.10)
    ------
    Location Found: Random event after clearing 1 major quest.
    
    Role: Zevran is a melee rogue but depending on when you collect him, he can be
    very weak statistically.  This is a tough call since you will most likely 
    finish the first major quest at level 9-10 and really only need 1 rogue in the
    group.  Leliana is a better choice so Zevran really takes a backseat in the
    game.  Too bad, he's an interesting one at that.
    
    
    
    -------
    WARRIOR (DAO:5)
    -------
    
    Tank (DAO:5.1)
    ----
    
    The tank's main role is to absorb damage and keep enemy attention.  To that
    end, they will be focusing on defensive items and abilities.
    
    Attributes (DAO:5.1.1)
    ----------
    
    Strength: 	42
    Dex: 		MAX
    Willpower: 	n/a
    Magic: 		n/a
    Cunning: 	n/a
    Constitution: 	20
    
    Since the best armor in the game requires 42 strength, that's what you're going
    to be aiming for.  Past that point, strength's only purpose is to increase
    melee damage, which is not a goal for this role.  Constitution at 20 is more
    than enough, especially if you pick up the Life Giver ring in Orzammar.
    There's nothing wrong with more hitpoints but the difference between 15 and 20
    constituion is only 25 hit points.  Dexterity should be maxed as much as
    possible for a few reasons.  First, it increases your chance to hit.  Second
    it decreases your chance to be hit, which is of great benefit to your healer.
    
    
    Abilities (DAO:5.1.2)
    --------------
    Your main focus will be on the Warrior tree, the Shield tree and the
    specialization trees.  Dual Wield and Two Hand remove the ability to
    use a shield, which is bad so avoid them.  If your main character is
    a warrior, you can also acquire 2 new skills in the Warden's Keep quest.
    
    
    Warrior abilities:
    -----------------
    Powerful:  	This one is a necessity for any warrior.  Reduced fatigue and
    		increased hit points is all good.
    
    Threaten: 	Again, a requirement for a tank.  Every swing you take increases
    		enemy hostility towards you.  It should always be active and 
    		your tank should be hitting more than one enemy to keep them all
    		on him.
    
    Bravery: 	Passive increase to defensive and offensive statistics if you
    		have more than 2 enemies attacking the tank.  This happens in 
    		90% of all battles, so there's a definite benefit to be had.
    
    Death Blow: 	If your warrior strikes the final blow, he regains some 
    		stamina. This will only happen until you reach level 8-9, 
    		afterwards your other characters are doing the killing.  Since
    		you can only get this at 12, avoid it altogether.
    
    Precise Striking: A sustained ability than increases your chance to hit.
    		  Combined with Threaten this ensures you're hitting the enemy 
    		  and getting their attention, which is a good thing.  Keep it
    		  on.
    
    Taunt: 		Ahh, the meat and potatoes of engagement at the higher end.  
    		Send your warrior into the thick of things, cast this skill and
    		watch everyone target him.  In combat with 6 or more enemies, 
    		this can kill your warrior outright, so your healers need to be
    		on their toes.  Combined with Force Field on the tank this 
    		allows you to Taunt, Force Field, then cast as many area effect
    		skills as you want with no risk to the tank.
    
    Disengage: 	This goes against the idea of a tank so there's no reason to use
    		it.
    
    Perfect Striking: Practically ensures every swing is a hit, which sounds good
    		  in theory but it's 2 skill points you can put elsewhere for 
    		  more benefit.
    
    
    
    Warden's Keep abilities:
    -----------------------
    Blood Thirst: 	More damage output but you take more damage too.  As a sustained
    		ability, you should avoid using this as a tank.  Thankfully you
    		get it for free.
    
    Blood Fury: 	Another bad tradeoff for a tank.  Losing hitpoints is never a
    		good thing and there's no reason to use this ability as a tank.
    
    
    Shield Tree abilities:
    ---------------------
    Shield Bash: 	Knocking enemies down is good.  On top of that, if every another
    		party member gets grasped or jumped on, this attack will break 
    		the hold. Great livesaver.
    
    Shield Pummel: 	Stunning attacks are great as they set up the enemy for more
    		damage.  Alternating between Bash and Pummel will keep most 
    		enemies out of combat until they die or you run out of stamina.
    
    Overpower: 	Another knockdown attack, this time costing a bit more stamina.
    		I personally prefer Bash because of the cost.  You're really not
    		aiming for damage but in a pinch it can free a party member from
    		a grasp/jump.
    
    Assault: 	A shield damage attack.  Again, your goal is to take damage and
    		prevent it from hitting other party members, so you really don't
    		need this.
    
    Shield Defense: This should be on at all times until you get Shield Wall.
    		Increased chance to avoid missles is gold when you're surrounded
    		by enemies.
    
    Shield Balance: Improves shield defense, nothing bad here.
    
    Shield Wall: 	You do less damage but take a whole lot less yourself.  This 
    		ability should always be active once you have acquired it.
    		Always.
    
    Shield Expertise: Being immune to knockdown is a huge benefit and should be
    		  the ability to select at level 12. A tank that's standing is
    		  a tank that's keeping all the enemies on him.
    
    Shield Block:	Flanking reduces your defense to zero, meaning you can't avoid
    		damage and therfore take more.  This passive ability removes
    		flanks from the front, which is a good 50% of all attacks.
    
    Shield Cover: 	Great for avoiding missles but Shield Wall is better.
    
    Shield Tactics: Now you're immune from all flanking attacks.  You'll notice
    		the change as soon as you acquire it.
    
    Shield Mastery: Improves nearly every shield ability you have, a great
    		investment.
    
    
    Beserker Specialization:
    -----------------------
    An interesting choice, since the attribute gain does not match up with the
    specialization abilities.  A beserker trades stamina for more overall damage.
    Again, since the tank's main goal is to avoid taking damage and reduce the
    effect on others, there's not a whole lot to gain from taking this path,
    other than the 2 strength and 10 hitpoints taken by selecting it on the level
    up screen.
    
    
    Templar Specialization:
    ----------------------
    The focus of a Templar is against mages. In many combat situations, there will
    be mages attacking you but your ranged attackers should be focused on them.
    The abilities of a templar are all in melee range and really don't affect 
    regular enemies and therefore do not have any noticeable benefit to the tank
    or the group.
    
    Righteous Strike: Mana drain is good but there are poisons that do this more
    		  effectively.
    
    Clease Area: 	I've yet to see a huge benefit here, except for healing group
    		members of dealy curses.
    
    Mental Fortress: Significant increase to mental defense, which really only
    		 stops Crushing Prison attacks.
    
    Holy Smite: 	Interesting attack that hits your target and others nearby for
    		spirit and fire damage.  The real benefit is the group stun and
    		knockback attack that accompanies it.
    
    
    Champion Specialization:
    -----------------------
    Now this is a tanking specialization.  Increase attributes on your team and 
    reduce the enemy's ability to hit you.  Great!
    
    War Cry: 	A cry that reduces the enemy chance to hit is great for a tank.
    		If you select Superiority later on, this can also knockdown all
    		enemies around you.
    
    Rally: 		Gives your entire group a bonus to attack and defense.  Nothing
    		wrong with that at all.
    
    Motivate: 	Increases the bonuses from Rally.  On its own, not that great
    		since the upkeep cost is rather high.
    
    Superiority: 	Makes War Cry knock down a group of enemies.  Very worthwhile
    		when you have the stamina to spare.
    
    
    Reaver Specialization:
    ---------------------
    Some good and some bad here.  The ability to heal from corpses and be more 
    effective with Taunt and Threaten is good but taking damage to do more damage
    is definitely bad.
    
    Devour: 	Essentially a heal based on the amount of corpses around you. I
    		had problems getting this to work consistently so it might be 
    		buggy.  In theory though, very useful.
    
    Frightening Appearance: Works just like a stun on a single target.  However the
    			side benefit is that Threaten and Taunt are much more
    			effective, so it's very useful to have.
    
    Aura of Pain: 	Give damage to take damage.  It's sort of like you always being
    		inside a Tempest or Inferno.  Sure, everyone takes damage and 
    		thereby hits you more often but you also are losing hit points.
    		This is a good ability to use if Taunt isn't working out or is
    		on cooldown, just don't keep it active too long.
    
    Blood Frenzy: 	You no longer regenerate health and you do more damage 
    		proportionately to the amount of health you've lost.  I 
    		personally feel the upkeep cost is too high here and your goal
    		is not to do more damage.  Not on my list of abilities to use.
    
    Suggested Build (DAO:5.1.3)
    ---------------
    
    Attributes: 	Focus on increasing strength to 42 early, so you can equip the 
    		best armor.  Add to dexterity to use the shield abilities as
    		they become available.  Try to get Constitution around 20 when
    		you have the points to spare.
    
    Abilities:	I will only list 1 ability per level (2 for the first and one
    		at level 5 when you become a Grey Warden) even though you can 
    		acquire more points from books and quests.  Warriors get a
    		free skill at level 1, depending on their origin story.  As a
    		tank, you want Shield Bash preferably, so a Human or a Dwarf
    		Noble are the best races in that regard.
    
    1) 	Powerful + Precise Striking
    2) 	Shield Defense
    3) 	Shield Block
    4) 	Taunt
    5) 	Threaten + Shield Pummel
    6) 	Shield Cover (DEX 16)
    7) 	War Cry
    8) 	Shield Balance
    9) 	Shield Tactics (DEX 20)
    10) 	Shield Wall
    11) 	Shield Mastery
    12)	Shield Expertise
    13)	Rally
    14)	Motivate
    15) 	Devour
    16) 	Superiority
    17) 	Overpower
    18)	Assault
    19)	Your Choice
    20) 	Your Choice
    
    
    
    Summary (DAO:5.1.4)
    -------
    
    The warrior tank is one of the more solid options as a character, if only
    because the variations are small.
    
    - Enough strength to equip massive armor (42)
    - Enough constituion to take a few hits (20)
    - Everything else goes into dexterity to increase defense
    - Focus on Weapon and Shield ability tree
    - The goal is not to do damage but absorb it
    - Invest in Threaten and Taunt early
    - Champion is your best bet as a specilization
    - Reaver is a decent second specialization if you can
    
    
    Melee (DAO:5.2)
    -----
    
    Your role here is simply to do as much damage as possible, to as many enemies
    as possible.  Since you can use heavy armor you can also jump in and take a few
    hits if ever required.  Remember, the more armor you have, the less stamina you
    can use, so you might end up at the end with light or medium armor instead.
    
    Dual Wielding is an option for a warrior but does less overall damage when
    compared to a two handed warrior.  This is due almost entirely over the need for
    a significant investment in Dexterity compared to putting all those points into
    Strength.  If you want to Dual Wield, a Rogue is a much better option.
    
    
    Attributes (DAO:5.2.1)
    ----------
    Strength: 	MAX
    Dexterity: 	18
    Willpower: 	25
    Magic: 		n/a
    cunning: 	n/a
    Constitution: 	n/a
    
    For a warrior in melee the role is rather simple, smash things.  You should
    focus primarily on raising strength to do more damage and use better weapons.
    Dexterity is at 18 simply to acquire Disengage.  If you don't plan on taking
    that ability, you don't need to put a single point here.  Willpower has a
    direct effect on stamina and that has an effect on how many abilities you can
    use in combat.  I find that 25 is sufficient for the most part but you can put
    more if you find the need.  If you reach level 20, you'll have 60 points to 
    allocate as you wish between essentially two attributes.
    
    
    Abilities (DAO:5.2.2)
    --------------
    As a melee you have two main options, dual weapon and two-handed.  Since you 
    require dexterity for many of the dual weapon abilities and only strength for
    the two-handed ones, I highly suggest you go the latter route. If your main
    character is a warrior, they can acquire 2 skills for free in the Warden's
    Keep.
    
    
    Warrior abilities:
    -----------------
    Powerful:	This one is a necessity for any warrior.  Reduced fatigue and
    		increased hit points is all good.  It allows you to use heavier
    		armor with less penalty to ability usage.
    
    Threaten: 	This is a tank ability, so you should not have it active unless
    		you want to get hit.
    
    Bravery: 	You shouldn't have any enemies attacking you so this ability does
    		not incur any real benefit.
    
    Death Blow: 	If your warrior strikes the final blow, he regains some stamina.
    		This will happen frequently as your warrior gets stronger but you
    		have to go through 2 useless abilities to get here.  I would 
    		avoid it until you've maxed other abilities first.
    
    Precise Striking: A sustained ability than increases your chance to hit. You
    		  need this on pretty much constantly at the beginning and much
    		  less as your strength hits the 40s.  It does get overshadowed
    		  by Indomitable though.
    
    Taunt: 		Never use this unless you want to take a nap.  Because you have
    		no defensive attributes or abilities, odds are you will die in
    		just a few seconds.
    
    Disengage: 	Great if you find yourself suddenly the target of an enemy.
    		With proper planning, this shouldn't happen very much.
    
    Perfect Striking: Practically ensures every swing is a hit, which sounds good
    		  in theory but it's 2 skill points you can put elsewhere for
    		  more benefit.  The same rule as with Death Blow applies here.
    
    
    Warden's Keep abilities:
    -----------------------
    Blood Thirst: 	Since you're not getting hit, this isn't a big problem to have
    		active.  Indomitable gives a similar benefit with no risk 
    		though.
    
    Blood Fury: 	There are times where you need to knockback an enemy and have 
    		the hitpoints to spare.  I would use this in rare cases but 
    		since the ability is free, that's not a problem when assigning
    		points.
    
    
    Two-Handed abilities:
    --------------------
    Pommel Strike: 	A basic knock down attack.  Very useful against tough enemies
    		and casters.  Will also break grasp attacks.
    
    Indomitable: 	An increase to damage and attack while being immune to knockdown.
    		This is slight improvement over Precise Striking and I would 
    		suggest this be active instead.
    
    Stunning Blow: 	A passive chance to stun opponents.  Sure, the number isn't huge
    		but a stun at any time is a great thing.  Even more so if you 
    		put paralyzing runes into your weapons.
    
    Critical Strike: Almost a guaranteed critical hit and with two handed weapons,
    		 we're talking big damage.  Used against ranked enemies (yellow
    		 and red) this can have a significant effect on their hit 
    		 points.
    
    Sunder Arms: 	Two strikes and reduces the target's chance to attack.  A very 
    		powerful ability for such a low cost.
    
    Shattering Blows: More damage against golems and constructs.  I think I fought
    		  10 golems total in the entire game, not much here to look at.
    		  Maybe in future content.
    
    Sunder Armor: 	Two strikes and reduces the target's armor.  Golden ability 
    		against ranked enemies, where you double your damage and make 
    		the enemy weaker.
    
    Destroyer: 	I generally love passive abilities and this one is significant.  
    		Each attack effectively lowers the enemy's armor but it doesn't
    		stack together. Still, combined with Telekenetic Weapons and 
    		other skills, this turns a heavy armored foe to paper.  Ogres 
    		come quickly to mind.
    
    Mighty Blow:  	Similar to Critical Strike but somehow does less damage.  Still
    		quite useful.
    
    Poweful Swings: More damage in each attack but you lower your attack and
    		defense scores.  I personally prefer Indomitable here.
    
    Two-Handed Strength: Improves powerful swings by reducing the penalties.  This
    		     is good but since Indomitable never had penalties to start,
    		     makes you wonder why it's an option at all.
    
    Two-Handed Sweep: Finally an area attack ability.  I suggest you get this at
    		  level 10 since it will make a big difference in your damage 
    		  output. It keeps its usefulness all the way until the end of 
    		  the game.
    
    
    Beserker Specialization:
    -----------------------
    Beserkers focus on dealing damage, straigth in line with what we want to do.
    Sure, there is an increased cost in stamina but with a bit more points into
    Willpower this isn't a big concern overall.
    
    Beserk: 	You do more damage but have a significant penalty to stamina
    		regeneration.  Further abilities along this tree reduce the 
    		penalty and that makes this a great ability to have active.
    
    Resilience: 	Nature resistance and smaller stamina penalty for beserk.  
    		Great.
    
    Constraint: 	Reduces the stamina penalty to almost nothing, which is nothing
    		to sneeze at.
    
    Final Blow: 	Trade all your stamina for a single attack.  Huge risk here 
    		since you can miss the attack and end up with no stamina.  You 
    		can also start combat with this and deal rediculous damage, 
    		probably the easiest way to get the 250 damage in a single 
    		attack achievement.  Still, having no stamina 2 seconds into
    		combat is not a good thing but with potions can be very useful.
    
    
    Templar Specialization:
    ----------------------
    The focus here is to kill mages.  You will encounter your fair share along the
    trip but never enough to make any abilities here worthwhile.  Poisons give
    nearly the same effect overall.  There are no real offensive abilities to speak
    of. 
    
    
    Champion Specialization:
    -----------------------
    These abilities are mostly oriented towards improving your group and disabling
    the enemy, which is the role of the tank.  There are better specializations for
    you to invest in.
    
    
    Reaver Specialization:
    ---------------------
    A mixed bag as before.  The focus is more on defensive side of things than 
    offense but there are some possibilities to look at.
    
    Devour: 	Essentially a heal based on the amount of corpses around you. I 
    		had  problems getting this to work consistently so it might be 
    		buggy.  In theory though, very useful.
    
    Frightening Appearance: Single target stun is good.  Benefits to Taunt and
    			Threaten are not useful to you since you don't use those 			
    			abilities.
    
    Aura of Pain: 	Area effect damage is bad when you don't want to get hit.  There
    		are good odds that you'll incur the hate of many enemies if you 
    		use this and the tank is not prepared.
    
    Blood Frenzy: 	More damage as your health decreases.  First off, you 
    		shouldn't be getting hit, second you increase your risk of dying
    		the longer this is active.  Next please.
    
    
    Suggested Build (DAO:5.2.3)
    ---------------
    
    Attributes: 	Increase Strength every level unless you need to increase
    		Dexterity to access a new ability, which I don't think you'll
    		require.  Increase Willpower when you start having stamina 
    		issues.
    
    
    Abilities:	I will only list 1 ability per level (2 for the first and one at
    		level 5 when you become a Grey Warden) even though you can acquire
    		more points from books and quests.  Note about starting skills:
    
    Human:		Shield Bash
    Dalish Elf:	Pinning Shot
    City Elf:	Dual Weapon Sweep
    Common Dwarf:	Dual Weapon Sweep
    Noble Dwarf: 	Shield Bash
    
    		As you can see, none are really targetted towards the melee build.
    
    
    1) 	Powerful & Precise Striking
    2) 	Sunder Arms
    3) 	Mighty Blow
    4) 	Powerful Swings
    5) 	Pommel Strike & Indomitable
    6) 	Stunning Blows
    7) 	Beserk
    8) 	Resilience
    9) 	Stunning Blows
    10) 	Constraint
    11) 	Two-Handed Strength
    12) 	Two-Handed Sweep
    13)	Critical Strike
    14)	Devour
    15)	Frightening Appearance
    16)	Shattering Blows
    17) 	Sunder Armor
    18) 	Destroyer
    19) 	Final Blow
    20)	Your Choice
    
    
    Summary (DAO:5.2.4)
    -------
    
    The melee warrior gives a lot more freedom of choice when it comes to 
    abilities.  You can go dual-wield but it requires more investment in 
    dexterity.  You can go archery for even more dexterity.  You can go into two
    handed weapons for a strength focus.  You can specialize into almost any tree.
    My personal preference for maximum damage is two-handed weapons as you simplify
    all these questions down to a single path.
    
    - Enough willpower to use your skills
    - Enough dexterity to hit the enemy (20)
    - Everything else into strength to maximize the damage
    - Make sure Taunt/Threaten are disabled
    - Beserker is very powerful if you avoid using Killing Blow all the time
    - Reaver is a great second choice as a specialization
    
    
    
    -----
    ROGUE (DAO:6)
    -----
    
    A special note about rogues.  This class has the ability to backstab any
    opponent that can be flanked.  Stand in the dark area on the targetting circle
    and you will have a new animation when attacking.  This is a backstab that 
    deals additional damage to the enemy.  Many abilities further enhance backstabs
    and can make a very big difference in your play style.
    
    
    Melee (DAO:6.1)
    -----
    A melee's role is to get up close and personal to take out the enemy.  With
    this comes increased risk of taking damage but more control on the overall
    outcome of the battle.  Always make sure your rogue is on the backs of your
    enemies to ensure maximum use of backstabs.
    
    
    Quick Theorycrafting for you - Strength vs Cunning for dual wielding.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    First off, read this post
    http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/66/index/223777
    
    There's a lot of information that's a little too complicated for this guide.
    Basically, it states that dual daggers and full Cunning is the way to go.
    
    
    
    Attributes (DAO:6.1.1)
    ----------
    
    Strength:	20
    Dexterity: 	32/36
    Willpower: 	20
    Magic: 		n/a
    Cunning: 	MAX
    Constitution: 	n/a
    
    Attributes are a very strange thing for rogues.  Dexterity is a prerequisite
    for a whole pile of abilities.  If you plan on going with swords/axes, you'll
    need to invest into Dual Weapon Mastery at 36 dexterity, otherwise 32 will be
    enough to get all the abilities.  Strength is useful for acquring the best
    armor.  If you plan on going with Swords/Axes, then further investment into 
    strength is a good idea.  For maximum damage, cunning is the way to go.
    
    
    Abilities (DAO:6.1.2)
    ---------
    
    This is a melee rogue, so we're going down the Dual Weapon ability tree.  If
    your main character is a Rogue, you can unlock two more abilities in the 
    Warden's Keep quest.
    
    
    Rogue Abilities:
    ---------------
    Dirty Fighting: No damage but the target is stunned.  Typically this gives
    		time for the rogue to move into backstab range but combined 
    		with another ability, it allows backstabs from the front.  I 
    		use this all the time.
    
    Combat Movement: Increases the backstab range by nearly 100%.  Makes 
    		 positioning in combat a whole lot easier.
    
    Coup de Grace: 	Stunned and paralyzed targets get backstabbed.  This ability
    		makes melee rogues extremely deadly if you know how to manage 
    		your stuns. With proper planning a rogue can take out an ogre 
    		alone because of this.
    
    Feign Death: 	Drop to your feet and pretend your dead.  Sure, this makes the
    		enemy target something else but you have enough abilities to 
    		stay alive toe to toe with any enemy to make this something of 
    		a point waster.
    
    Below the Belt: Defense penalties are good, meaning everyone has a better
    		chance of hitting the target.  Especially good on yellow and 
    		red enemies.
    
    Deadly Strike: 	Increased armor penetration is fine but you get a better effect
    		from Telekenetic Weapons or even just points in cunning.
    
    Lethality: 	Actually, after having done some more number crunching, this
    		ability has a significant impact on damage output.
    
    Evasion: 	One in five chance seems high but when you figure you already 
    		have that chance with 32 dexterity, who cares?  Enemies 
    		shouldn't be hitting you in the first place.
    
    Deft Hands: 	Chest require Cunnin-10 to unlock. 1 Point in this skill is 10
    		more points in Cunning.  4 points here gives 40 Cunning and the
    		hardest chests need 70 to unlock.  30 Cunning is all you'll 
    		need to be able to unlock everything.
    
    Stealth:  	The first level lets you walk around.  The second lets you 
    		disable traps, which is very powerful later on.  The third lets
    		you stealth in combat, which oddly enough doesn't work super 
    		well until you get the fourth rank. Stealth in combat 
    		essentially guarantees a critical hit, which is good but I 
    		found myself getting by without it.
    
    
    Warden's Keep abilities:
    -----------------------
    Dark Passage: 	Passive ability that increases movement speed and defense while
    		in stealth. What's there not to love about this?
    
    The Tainted Blade: You lose health but do more damage.  Honestly, just coat 
    		   your weapon with a poison for the same benefit and no 
    		   downside.
    
    
    Dual-Weapon abilities:
    ---------------------
    Dual-Weapon Training: You deal near normal damage with the offhand weapon. 
    		      There really isn't a choice here, take this ability.
    
    Dual-Weapon Finesse: A bonus to attack and defense is what makes you a better
    		     killer. Again, a required ability.
    
    Dual-Weapon Expert: Increased critical chance and the chance to make the target
    		    bleed.  Don't you just love passive abilities?  Take this 
    		    one.
    
    Dual-Weapon Mastery: Now you can use axes and swords and maces in the offhand.
    		     Does have a big impact on damage output if you're going
    		     down the strength route.
    
    Dual Striking: 	Use this ability when you can't get into backstab range.  One
    		on one fights, mage kills come to mind.  It isn't used often 
    		but can make a difference.
    
    Riposte: 	Stun plus critical hit.  Combined with Dirty Fighting, this is
    		your mage killing ability.  Very powerful.
    
    Cripple: 	Critical hit plus penalties to defense and attack on the target.
    		You should use this ability in every fight and especially 
    		against yellow and red enemies.
    
    Punisher: 	Can you say crazy?  Does four hits with the last being both
    		weapons at once for two critical hits.  Did I mention it also
    		adds penalties to attack and defense with the chance of a 
    		knockdown?  Very powerful.
    
    Dual-Weapon Sweep: Interesting area of attack ability that does more than 
    		   normal damage.  Great for group attacks but backstab seems
    		   to do more damage.
    
    Flurry: 	Three normal damage hits.  Nothing wrong with more damage and
    		timed critically can make a big dent in enemy hit points.
    
    Momentum: 	Increased attack speed at the cost of a big drain on stamina.
    		You basically turn into a chainsaw, with the same effect as 
    		Haste from the mage tree.  It's good but costly.
    
    Whirlwind: 	Hits every nearby enemy with both weapons for normal damage.  I
    		rarely find myself surrounded by enemies with a rogue, that's a
    		tank's job. You kind of expect something more powerful from a 
    		skill with this name.
    
    
    Assassin specialization:
    -----------------------
    A focus on killing from this tree.  All about doing more damage, which is fine
    by me.
    
    Mark of Death: 	Mark the target for about 15 seconds where they now take more 
    		damage than normal.  You need to be in melee range to use this
    		skill but it's very powerful, especially on dragons and 
    		revenants. 
    
    Exploit Weakness: Backstab does more damage the more cunning you have.  I do
    		  believe it's cunning-10, so even if you never put a point 
    		  into cunning it's a damage increase.  With 30 cunning, it's
    		  20 more damage, very nice.
    
    Lacerate: 	You put a continual damage on the enemy with a successful 
    		backstab. I know it says "enough damage" but I've yet to see 
    		what the number actually is.
    
    Feast of the Fallen: If you kill someone with a backstab you regain stamina.
    		     Given the fact that you should be backstabing 90% of the
    		     time and providing killing blows too, this is a worthwhile
    			 investment.
    
    
    Bard specialization:
    -------------------
    All songs here are affected by cunning scores, so if you don't plan on 
    investing down that attribute, avoid this specialization.  Only the last song
    requires you to be in melee range.
    
    Song of Valor: 	Increase mana and stamina regeneration, which is beneficial to
    		the entire group.  Keep it active.
    
    Distraction: 	Good way to get an enemy off your back but there are better 
    		abilities to use for the same effect.
    
    Song of Courage: Grants bonus to attack, defense and critical chance for the
    		 group.  This is useful at the start of the game but near the
    		 end mana and stamina are a bigger concern.
    
    Captivating Song: Stuns nearby enemies but the bard can't move or attack. This
    		  is a niche ability, where its only use is in large group 
    		  areas where you need to keep everyone under control.  Sadly,
    		  the range is very small.
    
    
    Ranger specialization:
    ---------------------
    This specialization focuses on summoning pets to help the attacker. As a melee
    there are benefits to having more enemies attacking.  Having 3 rangers is 
    really impressive from a damage perspective.
    
    Summon Wolf:  	The basic wolf casts howl that reduces enemy defense.  The 
    		upgraded wolf can Shred, which is a 100% critical hit.
    
    Summon Bear: 	Basic bear can maul which knocks back the enemy.  The upgraded 
    		bear has rage which increases damage output and can Overwhelm.
    
    Summon Spider: 	Basic spider has web which immobilizes an enemy while the 
    		upgraded one has a poison spit for continual damage.
    
    Master Ranger: 	Gives you access to the upgraded anmials.
    
    
    Duelist specialization:
    ----------------------
    Duelists are more of an extension of the Rogue class than a true 
    specialization.  The abilities are improvements to existing ones or simply an
    overall upgrade to the basic class.
    
    Dueling: 	An sustained ability that increases your attack rating.  Keen
    		Defense will also increase defense while this is active.  I 
    		personally keep this one on all the time as more hits mean more
    		damage.
    
    Upset Balance: 	No damage but decreases enemy defense rating.  The Rogue has
    		many other similar skills so this can be used when the others
    		are on cooldown.
    
    Keen Defense: 	A passive increase to defense. Since your dexterity is already 
    		pretty high, this doesn't make a big difference in the grand
    		picture.
    
    Pinpoint Strike: For about 20 seconds, every hit is a critical hit.  Combined
    		 with Haste/Flurry, +Attack and -Defense skills, the Rogue is
    		 basically a killing machine.  The only downside here is the 
    		 cooldown of 3 minutes.
    
    Suggested Build (DAO:6.1.3)
    ---------------
    
    Attributes: 	Increase strength to 20 to wear the best armor.  Dexterity is
    		increased as you need to get new skills.  Every other point is
    		pretty much allocated to cunning.
    
    
    Abilities:	I will only list 1 ability per level (2 for the first and one
    		at level 5 when you become a Grey Warden) even though you can
    		acquire more points from books and quests.  Rogues
    		automatically get Dirty Fighting for free at level 1.
    
    1) 	Dual Weapon Sweep + Below the Belt 
    2) 	Dual Striking 
    3) 	Dual Weapon Training 
    4) 	Flurry 
    5) 	Deadly Strike + Dual Weapon Finesse 
    6) 	Combat Movement 
    7) 	Mark of Death 
    8) 	Lethality 
    9) 	Dual Weapon Expert
    10) 	Coup de Grace 
    11) 	Momentum 
    12) 	Exploit Weakness 
    13)	Riposte 
    14)	Lacerate 
    15)	Dueling 
    16) 	Cripple 
    17) 	Punisher 
    18) 	Feast of the Fallen 
    19)	Your choice
    20)	Your Choice
    
    
    
    
    Summary (DAO:6.1.4)
    -------
    
    The melee rogue is the do-it-all character.  You have a wide assortment of
    tricks up your sleeve, are a great way to make extra money and can kill a 
    ranked enemy whenever you want.  Not the best idea to let the rogue play on
    their own though, or you'll end up with no stamina left.
    
    - Enough dexterity for the dual-wield abilities (32)
    - Strength to get the best light armor (20)
    - Cunning to the max
    - Assassination is the best specialization since it maximizes backstabs
    - Duelist will increase your damage potential
    - If you have stealth, use it!
    
    
    Ranged (DAO:6.2)
    ------
    
    The beauty of this rogue is that you will rarely get hit by anything and have 
    the discretion to kill whatever you want, when you want.  You also have very 
    little need for melee range skills, giving you additional freedom in ability
    selection.
    
    If you find your ranged attacker is frequently swapping to melee weapons, you
    might have Dirty Fighting enabled in your tactics.  Also note that if you are
    in melee range for too long (say 3 attacks) there's a strong chance you'll go
    into melee mode.  No idea why.
    
    
    Attributes (DAO:6.2.1)
    ----------
    
    Strength:	n/a
    Dexterity: 	MAX
    Willpower: 	30
    Magic: 		n/a
    Cunning:	30
    Constitution: 	n/a
    
    The only reason you would need strength is to equip better armor but better
    armor means more fatigue and you should not be getting hit in the first place.
    Willpower will give you the stamina required to use all your abilities but you
    may find you need more or less, depending on your style.  Cunning, again, is
    required only if you wish to unlock doors and chests or invest in the Bard
    tree.  Maximum dexterity means that you will be doing crazy damage with your
    bow, critical hits through the roof and near 100% hit rate.  I assure you, a
    ranged rogue is the deadliest single character in the game.
    
    
    Abilities (DAO:6.2.2)
    ---------
    
    The ranged rogue will evidently be focusing on the Archery ability tree. Dual
    Wield options don't present any benefits to this role and even the 
    specialization trees offer little in terms of pure benefits.  If your main
    character is a rogue, you can acquire 2 free abilities in the Warden's Keep.
    
    
    Rogue Abilities:
    ---------------
    Dirty Fighting: No damage but the target is stunned.  This is still a great
    		ability even if you are attacking from range.  Let's say 
    		someone walks up to you, use this and you can get in a few 
    		free shots and give time for the tank to pick them up off you.
    
    Combat Movement: Since you won't be backstabbing, not much point here.
    
    Coup de Grace: 	Again, no backstabs, no benefit.
    
    Feign Death: 	Drop to your feet and pretend your dead.  This could be 
    		beneficial if you find yourself getting attacked a lot but
    		in the larger picture you have much better options elsewhere.
    
    Below the Belt: A melee range attack, which you being ranged won't be using.
    
    Deadly Strike: 	Another melee attack, no use here.
    
    Lethality: 	Odds are your cunning will be higher than your strength and 
    		additional damage is always good.  Increased critical chance is
    		sugar on top.  I'm not sure if this stacks though.
    
    Evasion: 	Your dexterity is going to be in the 50s at least, where enemies
    		will miss you all the time anyhow.  Not worth the investment.
    
    Deft Hands: 	If you plan on investing in cunning to 30, always select this
    		ability when it becomes available.  Otherwise, just leave it 
    		alone.
    
    Stealth:  	The first level lets you walk around.  The second lets you 
    		disable traps, which is very powerful later on.  The third 
    		lets you stealth in combat, which oddly enough doesn't work
    		super well until you get the fourth rank. This is a very useful
    		ability for a ranged attacker, especially at maximum rank.  Use
    		it whenever you can to break enemies chasing you or to increase
    		your damage output.
    
    
    Warden's Keep abilities:
    
    Dark Passage: 	Passive ability that increases movement speed and defense. 
    		What's there not to love about this?
    
    The Tainted Blade: You lose health but do more damage.  This only seems to
    		   affect melee damage, so no real benefit.
    
    
    Archery abilities:
    -----------------
    
    Melee Archer: 	No longer breaks ranged attacks if you get hit.  Excellent
    		ability.
    
    Aim: 		You might shoot a bit slower but the overall damage seems to
    		increase if only because of the increase to attack.  At about
    		level 10 this loses its luster as you will be hitting almost 
    		100% of the time.
    
    Defensive Fire: Increasing defense and slower rate of fire does not mean more
    		damage.  I would not use this.
    
    Master Archer:  Increases the function of nearly every other ability and allows
    		you to use heavy armor without a speed penalty.  This isn't a
    		bad skill, it just shouldn't be the first thing you try to 
    		acquire.
    
    Pinning Shot: 	It either slows them down or disables them for about 10 
    		seconds. A great tool to have fighting a group of enemies.
    
    Crippling Shot: Reduces the enemy's attack and defense, which is perfect 
    		against red and yellow enemies.  No need to use against regular
    		enemies.
    
    Critical Shot: 	Since this also has the benefit or armor penetration, you're 
    		going to see a big number here when it hits.  Dragons, 
    		revenants and bosses will make you chain cast this ability.
    
    Arrow of Slaying: A single massive damage attack that can potentially kill
    		  the enemy in a single blow.  Yes it's powerful but the cost
    		  is disproportionate to the damage when you compare it to 
    		  Critical Shot.
    
    Rapid Shot: 	You shoot about 10% faster but can't get a critical hit.  The
    		only  time this is a problem is when your critical chance with
    		a bow is above 15%. Otherwise, keep this active at all times.
    		Note that a bow with the Rapid Aim skill does the same thing
    		as this and they do not stack.
    
    Shattering Shot: Normal damage but reduces enemy armor for a time.  Has a huge
    		 impact on high armor bosses, especially when combined with 
    		 telekenetic weapons (for melee).  Also knocks down enemies.
    
    Suppressing Fire: Every attack further reduces the enemy's ability to attack.
    		  While this is certainly beneficial against some enemies most
    		  of the ones where you would think this to be great have other
    		  attacks that hit 100% of the time. This only appears to 
    		  affect regular attacks to any great amount.
    
    Scattershot: 	Crazy powerful ability here.  You will stun an entire group of 
    		enemies about 99% of the time, it is so rarely resisted.  A 
    		great way to line up a group in order to send a few area of 
    		effect spells their way.
    
    
    Assassin specialization:
    -----------------------
    
    Since this specialization focuses nearly entirely on backstabs and you won't
    be using that skill at all, there is really no need to go down this path.
    
    
    Bard specialization:
    -------------------
    
    All songs here are affected by cunning scores, so if you don't plan on 
    investing down that attribute, avoid this specialization.  Only the last song
    requires you to be in melee range.
    
    Song of Valor: 	Increase mana and stamina regeneration, which is beneficial to
    		the entire group.  Keep it active.
    
    Distraction: 	Good way to get an enemy off your back but there are better 
    		abilities to use for the same effect.
    
    Song of Courage: Grants bonus to attack, defense and critical chance for the
    		 group.  This is useful at the start of the game but near the
    		 end mana and stamina are a bigger concern.
    
    Captivating Song: Sure an area effect stun is nice but the range is small and
    		  you have to be in melee.  Hard to use as a ranged attacker.
    
    
    Ranger specialization:
    ---------------------
    
    As a ranged attacker a ranger works incredbily well.  You keep the pet active
    and send them in while you snipe from far away.  It's almost like having a 
    fifth party member.
    
    Summon Wolf:  	The basic wolf casts howl that reduces enemy defense.  The 
    		upgraded wolf can Shred, which is a 100% critical hit.
    
    Summon Bear: 	Basic bear can maul which knocks back the enemy.  The upgraded 
    		bear has rage which increases damage output.
    
    Summon Spider: 	Basic spider has web which immobilizes an enemy while the 
    		upgraded one has a poison spit for continual damage.
    
    Master Ranger: 	Gives you access to the upgraded anmials.
    
    
    Duelist specialization:
    ----------------------
    
    The duelist focuses on melee attacks for the most part but there are some
    potential benefits in the long run.
    
    Dueling: 	A sustained ability that increases your attack rating.  Keen 
    		Defense will also increase defense while this is active.  If
    		you find yourself missing a lot, then there's a benefit.
    
    Upset Balance:	No damage but decreases enemy defense rating.  This requires
    		melee range so you won't be using it.
    
    Keen Defense: 	A passive increase to defense. Since your dexterity is already 
    		pretty high, this doesn't make a big difference in the grand
    		picture.
    
    Pinpoint Strike: For about 20 seconds, every hit is a critical hit.  Combined
    		 with Haste/Flurry, +Attack and -Defense skills, the Rogue is 
    		 basically a killing machine.  The only downside here is the 
    		 cooldown of 3 minutes.  You can pretty much kill 3 ogres with
    		 this ability active.
    
    Suggested Build (DAO:6.2.3)
    ---------------
    
    Attributes: 	Increase strength to 20 to wear the best armor.  Dexterity is
    		where you put every other point, unless you plan on 
    		lockpicking.  30 points and 3 ranks of deft hands are enough.
    
    
    Abilities:	I will only list 1 ability per level (2 for the first and one
    		at level 5 when you become a Grey Warden) even though you can
    		acquire more points from books and quests.  Rogues
    		automatically get Dirty Fighting for free at level 1.
    
    1) 	Deft Hands + Rapid Shot
    2) 	Shattering Shot
    3) 	Pinning Shot
    4) 	Crippling Shot
    5) 	Suppressing Fire + Improved Tools
    6) 	Critical Shot
    7) 	Summon Wolf
    8) 	Summon Bear
    9) 	Scattershot
    10) 	Summon Spider
    11) 	Melee Archer
    12)	Arrow of Slaying
    13)	Master Ranger
    14)	Song of Valor
    15)	Aim
    16) 	Defensive Fire
    17) 	Master Archer
    18) 	Your Choice
    19)	Your Choice
    20)	Your Choice
    
    
    Summary (DAO:6.2.4)
    -------
    
    The ranged rogue is the single deadliest character in the game.  It has one 
    job and it does it very well.  Since you only need to focus on a single
    attribute, your options are narrower and you therefore become a stronger
    killer.
    
    - Enough cunning to open doors/chest, if you want (30)
    - Everything else into dexterity for maximum damage with a bow
    - Ranger is by far the best option as a specialization
    - Bard gives more benefit for less investment than Duelist
    - Use stealth if you have it!
    
    
    
    ----
    MAGE (DAO:7)
    ----
    
    The mage is an interesting class.  You can't really pigeonhole them into a
    particular role as they can do pretty much whatever you want.  Need healing?
    Need single target damage?  Group damage?  Crowd Control?  Buffs and debuffs?
    Heck, mages even make incredibly good tanks.  For these reasons and many more I
    won't break down the mage into particular roles just yet, there are simply too
    many options to consider.  Instead, I'll break it down into tank and caster, 
    the two core concepts behind mages.
    
    
    Tank (DAO:7.1)
    ----
    
    The mage tank has specific requirements moving forward.  First off, you must
    have access to the Arcane Warrior specialization.  This can be acquired almost
    as soon as you leave Ostagar.  With this specialization and its first ability,
    you will be able to use your magic attribute in place of strength when it comes
    to equiping weapons and armor.  Without massive armor and good melee weapons
    you'll be lying on the floor in a pool of your own blood very quickly.
    
    Also worth mentioning that because you are the tank and using sustained 
    abilities you won't have the liberty to cast any spell any time.  You will 
    require additional party members to pick up the casting slack.  Due to the
    sheer number of available spells to the tank I will only discuss the ones I
    think the tank should acquire.  I will discuss all the mage spells in the
    caster section in 7.3.
    
    
    Attributes (DAO:7.1.1)
    ----------
    
    Strength: 	n/a
    Dexterity: 	20
    Willpower: 	30 or 40
    Magic: 		MAX
    Cunning: 	n/a
    Constitution: 	n/a or 20
    
    With the proper skill allocation you shouldn't need any points into strength.
    Cunning is only useful for the Coercion skill on your main character but only
    very little.  A run through the Mage's Circle should suffice in regards to stat
    boosting.  The distribution of stats depends on it you take a second 
    specialization or not and which one that is.  If you go Blood Mage, you'll need
    more constitution and less willpower.  Any other form will require a higher
    investment in willpower.
    
    Important to remember is that while the warrior and rogue still do tremendous
    damage when they are out of stamina a mage can only rely on a staff for what
    seems pitiful amounts of damage.  If you find yourself always going out of mana
    feel free to put more points into willpower. 
    
    
    Abilities (DAO:7.1.2)
    --------
    
    If your main character is a mage you will have the option of not only selecting
    two specializations but also possibly acquire two extra spells through the
    Warden's Keep quest.
    
    
    Mage spells:
    -----------
    
    Arcane Bolt: 	Simple spirit damage, nothing complicated though a bow would
    		have more overall utility.  This is simply a pre-requisite 
    		for the next spell.
    
    Arcane Shield: 	A sustained shield that increases defense, meaning you will 
    		avoid incoming damage.  This should always be active.
    
    Rock Armor:	Provides an increase to armor so the hits you do take do less
    		damage.
    
    Winter's Grasp: Single target ice spell that has a good chance of freezing the
    		opponent.  Great setup for a shatter attack, which means an
    		instant kill if there's a critical physical attack on them.
    
    Frost Weapons:  Every swing does cold damage.  It's a sustained ability that I
    		don't think the tank should be using.
    
    Cone of Cold: 	Very powerful spell that has a great chance of freezing
    		whomever it connects with.  This should be used in almost every
    		group encounter.
    
    Heal: 		For when you need a quick jolt of hit points.  This spell is
    		never wasted.
    
    Mind Blast: 	A wide area stun which reduces threat levels.  Not to zero
    		though, so you still need someone else to attack the stunned
    		enemies to get them off your mage.
    
    Force Field: 	This will save lives, plain and simple.  Instant cast to either
    		remove an enemy from combat or save a group member from death.  
    		Great tool for use against dragons.
    
    Telekenetic Weapons: This spell ensures every weapon hit does extra damage 
    		     against armored foes.  Think ogres, dragons and revenants.
    		     Very powerful.
    
    Crushing Prison: The golden spell of a mage.  Not only does this last as long
    		 as Force Field but it also does damage to the enemy.  It gets
    		 resisted from time to time but every mage in your party should
    		 have this spell.  Imagine three mages with this and Force 
    		 Field.  You could keep the entire battle to one on one fights.
    		 Insane.
    
    Miasma:		If you have the mana, this is a good spell to keep sustained as
    		it decreases enemy attack and defense with a fairly good range.
    		
    
    Disorient: 	Single target spell that reduces attack and defense.  More of a 
    		pre-requisite for others down this line.
    
    Horror: 	Interesting spell where a single target is immobilized.  If they
    		are asleep when this is cast, a bug chunk of life is taken away.
    
    Sleep: 		Area attack that puts all enemies to sleep and they wake if 
    		they are hit.  This is a very powerful crowd control spell 
    		and combined with Horror can do significant damage to a single
    		target with no risk to the caster.
    
    Waking Nightmare: Beauty of a spell in group combat.  Not many enemies have
    		  mental resistance, especially the weaker ones.  Expect to 
    		  see a bunch of people just randomly moving around, sometimes
    		  hitting their own party.  Great way to keep enemies off the 
    		  tank while doing group damage to them, especially when 
    		  combined with Sleep.
    
    Death Magic: 	Keeping this active is a good way to keep healing your tank
    		during combat.
    
    
    Warden's Keep spells:
    --------------------
    
    Dark Sustenance: Lose a bit of health, gain a good portion of mana.  You would
    		 think this is a bad tradeoff but you actually gain in the long
    		 run, especially if you use an easily acquired healing potion 
    		 or heal spell right after.  Blood mages get even more benefit 
    		 here.
    
    Bloody Grasp: 	Lose life to do damage.  There is less benefit here since you
    		can do damage better with regular spells than this ability.
    
    
    Shapeshifter specialization:
    ---------------------------
    
    Basically you turn into an animal and lose access to all your spells while
    gaining access to a few abilities.  This is by far the weakest of all the
    specializations in the game and should be ignored.
    
    
    Spirit Healer specialization:
    ----------------------------
    
    This spell line provides you with many ways to heal your group and your tank.
    Very powerful on the more difficult levels and even more so if you don't have
    another mage in the group.
    
    Group Heal: 	Heals the entire group for a significant amount.  Combined with
    		Heal this is what keeps groups alive when there are no healt 
    		potions.
    
    Revival: 	I find if I am using this something has gone drastically wrong 
    		in the fight.
    
    Lifeward:	Keep it active on the tank and you save a few heals in the long
    		run.
    
    Cleansing Aura:	Beautiful spell if you have other melee in the group as the 
    		aura isn't terribly large.  However it is a significant mana 
    		drain.
    
    
    Blood Mage specialization:
    -------------------------
    
    A very interesting combination of spells where you trade hit points for mana
    or damage.  If you pay attention to combat, this can be a devastating option.
    
    Blood Magic: 	You use hit points to cast spells.  One of the reasons a blood
    		mage requires a significant hit point pool instead of mana.  
    		Can be powerful if you plan ahead.
    
    Blood Sacrifice: On its own, why would you potentially kill a teammate to heal
    		 yourself?  Well, if that someone is a Ranger pet then there's
     		 no real problem at all!
    
    Blood Wound: 	Enemies with blood (everything but a golem pretty much) take 
    		big damage throughout the area.  This is a great equivalent to
    		Taunt and perfect for a tank.
    
    Blood Control: 	If they have blood they become the mage's pet, else they take
    		significant damage.  More damage is great.  Possessing an 
    		Emissary is even better.
    
    
    Arcane Warrior specialization:
    -----------------------------
    
    The core specialization behind a mage tank.  With this build you acquire the
    abilities to tank, equip what you want and be practically immune to damage.
    
    Combat Magic: 	Just selecting this ability means you can equip any item by
    		swapping the strength requirement for magic.  Massive plate 
    		here we come. On top of that, with it active you have a higher
    		attack stat and use spellpower for damage, which with a high 
    		magic stat should be very large indeed.
    
    Aura of Might: 	Improved Combat Magic.  Yes please.
    
    Shimmering Shield: Blocks damage and increases armor and resistance but costs
    		   a chunk of mana to keep up.  Combined with crafty mana 
    		   management this really isn't a huge problem.  Another 
    		   mainstay of your sustained spells.
    	
    Fade Shroud: 	This really is the icing on the cake.  Better mana regen and
    		even a better chance to avoid attacks.  Very powerful and 
    		passive!
    
    
    Suggested Build (DAO:7.1.3)
    ---------------
    
    Attributes: 	You have a fair amount of choice, depending if you go down the
    		blood mage or spirit healer specialization.  Dexterity at 20
    		will let you hit the enemy most of the time, constitution at
    		about 20 is fine for spirit healer but 30 is better for a blood
    		mage.  Get willpower to where you have enough mana to keep your
    		spells active and the rest goes into Magic.
    
    Abilities:	I will only list 1 ability per level (2 for the first and one
    		at level 5 when you become a Grey Warden) even though you can
    		acquire more points from books and quests.  Mages
    		automatically get Arcane Bolt for free at level 1.
    
    1) 	Winter's Grasp + Heal
    2) 	Mind Blast
    3) 	Force Field
    4) 	Telekentic Weapons
    5) 	Crushing Prison + Frost Weapons
    6) 	Cone of Cold
    7) 	Combat Magic
    8) 	Rock Armor
    9) 	Arcane Shield
    10) 	Weakness
    11) 	Paralyze
    12) 	Aura of Might
    13)	Miasma
    14)	Blood Sacrifice
    15)	Blood Wound
    16)	Shimmering Shield
    17) 	Fade Shroud
    18) 	Blood Control
    19)	Your Choice
    20)	Your Choice
    
    
    Summary (DAO:7.1.4)
    -------
    
    The beauty of this character is really in it's simplicity.  Keep a few spells
    sustained, equip massive armor, a few spells and rarely get hit. Seems like 
    the perfect combination to me.
    
    - Have enough willpower to keep your sustained abilities active
    - Combat Magic and Shimmering Shield should always be on
    - Get dexterity to the point where you hit enemies
    - More magic means more damage and better armor
    - You must be an Arcane Mage
    - Blood Mage is a great supplement with Spirit Healer a lesser option
    - Use Blood Wound on a Ranger's pets for some free healing!
    
    
    Caster (DAO:7.2)
    ------
    
    The caster's true strength comes in the insanely wide amount of spells at their
    disposal.  You can focus on single target attacks, group attacks, helping the
    rest of the group or any combination of the above.  It's really up to you.  
    There are only a few "core" spells that every mage should now, after that, it's
    up to you.
    
    A note on Staves, each one does a particular type of damage, so 
    
    
    Attributes (DAO:7.2.1)
    ----------
    
    Strength: 	n/a
    Dexterity: 	n/a
    Willpower: 	40
    Magic: 		MAX
    Cunning: 	n/a
    Constitution: 	n/a or 20
    
    With the proper skill allocation you shouldn't need any points into strength.
    Cunning is only useful for the Coercion skill on your main character but only
    very little.  A run through the Mage's Circle should suffice in regards to stat
    boosting.  Depending on the role you wish to play, caster or tank, you'll have
    a few more options when considering attributes.  For a caster, 40 willpower and
    maximum magic is a great way to move forward.  Plenty of mana and the spells
    will be powerful.  
    
    Important to remember is that while the warrior and rogue still do tremendous
    damage when they are out of stamina a mage can only rely on a staff for what
    seems pitiful amounts of damage.  If you find yourself always going out of mana
    feel free to put more points into willpower. 
    
    
    Abilities (DAO:7.2.2)
    ---------
    
    As I mentioned, plenty of options available to a caster.  I'll go through
    every single spell possible for a mage and mention the few core skills I think
    you should take and my thoughts on the rest.
    
    Again, if your main character is a mage you can acquire two free spells through
    the Warden's Keep quest.
    
    
    Mage spells:
    -----------
    
    Arcane Bolt: 	A simple spirit based damage attack.  Every mage has it.
    
    Arcane Shield: 	Increases defense while active.  You shouldn't be getting hit 
    		so there's not much need for it.
    
    Staff Focus: 	About 10 more damage from a staff attack.  There are benefits
    		certainly since it's passive but in the grand scheme of things
    		the gain is minimal.
    
    Arcane Mastery: 5 spellpower which is essentially a 5% increase in spell
    		effect.  I was hoping for something a bit more powerful to 
    		be honest.
    
    
    Primal Spells:
    -------------
    
    Flame Blast: 	A cone of fire damage ahead of the caster.  Does decent damage
    		but will ensure enemies will target the mages after casting.
    
    Flaming Weapons: Makes all weapons do an additional 5-10 fire damage per hit.
    		 Great with a bunch of melee attackers.
    
    Fireball: 	A lovely spell that not only does instant fire damage it also
    		knocks back the enemy and leaves a short term fire spell for 
    		more damage.  There's enough time to cast this, then Inferno 
    		while the enemy is getting back up for some tremendous damage.
    
    Inferno: 	Lasts about 30 seconds and if an enemy stands within the large
    		area of effect, they will most certainly die, even yellow 
    		ranked creatures.  Combined with Fireball for some great 
    		damage.
    
    Rock Armor: 	Sustained spell that increases your armor rating.  You're not 
    		getting hit so no real need here.
    
    Stone Fist: 	Knocks an enemy down and can trigger a Shatter effect on a 
    		frozen or petrified enemy.
    
    Earthquake: 	Large area of effect that makes all targets stumble to the 
    		ground. Effective to stop a large group from running to you 
    		while you pick them off with ranged attacks.
    
    Petrify: 	This single target spell turns the enemy to stone for about 15
    		seconds.  This gives your mage enough time to either shatter 
    		them or have the group kill them without worry.  Very useful 
    		spell, up there with Force Field and Crushing Prison.
    
    Winter's Grasp: Single target spell that does moderate ice damage and has a
    		good chance of freezing the enemy.
    
    Frost Weapons: 	Enchants all weapons with frost damage for 5-10 extra damage
    		per hit.  Great with an all melee group.
    
    Cone of Cold: 	Cone attack that does some damage but even better, freezes most
    		targets in place.  A great way to setup additional damage 
    		without the enemy being able to return the attack.
    
    Blizzard: 	Think large area of effect, moderate damage and a very high 
    		chance of freezing the enemy.  Quite powerful but high risk to
    		use if you have any melee.
    
    Lightning: 	Single target for moderate damage that also drains stamina/mana.
    
    Shock: 		Cone attack that does the same thing as Lightning.  Dangerous
    		since it angers a lot of enemies.
    
    Tempest: 	Large area of effect spell that does ok damage but even better,
    		drains mana and stamina from the enemy.  This is rarely a 
    		concern though since it also drains mana/stamina from your group
    		too so I don't use it often.	
    
    Chain Lightning: A lightning attack that jumps multiple times from target to
    		 target.  Can do some great damage at a distance but should 
    		 never be used up close as it can devastate your group.
    
    
    Creation spells:
    ---------------
    
    Heal: 		Every mage should have this, there's no reason not to.
    
    Rejuvenate: 	Increase the stamina/mana regeneration of a single target.  On 
    		its own, pretty good but replaced my Mass Rejuvenation.
    
    Regeneration: 	Increase the health regeneration of a single target.  Not that
    		useful really as the gain is minimal and won't prevent you from
    		healing later.
    
    Mass Rejuvenation: All the group gains stamina/mana for a short while.  The
    		   cost of the spell is essentially returned after the spell
    		   duration so it's win win.  Too bad you have to take 2 less
    		   useful spells to get here.
    
    Heroic Offense: A single target gets increases attack for a short time.  Not
    		that good.
    
    Heroic Aura: 	The target is essentially immune from missile attacks.  Your
    		tank already has this ability.
    
    Heroic Defense: Increase defense and resistance on a single target.  Not enough
    		in my books.
    
    Haste: 		The useful spell in this line.  The entire part attacks faster,
    		which is great in a melee group but has no benefit to other
    		mages.
    
    Glyph of Paralysis: Chance to paralyze a single target.  Many other and better
    		    skills are available.
    
    Glyph of Warding: Boosts the defense and resistance of the group members 
    		  around the glyph. Think Heroic Defense but group based.
    		  Decent but short range.
    
    Glyph of Repulsion: Knocks back enemies that try to cross the glyph.  Great for
    		    a pure range/mage group otherwise not much use.
    
    Glyph of Neutralization: Neutralizes all effects and regeneration.  Considering
    			 the amount of movement in this game, you will rarely 
    			 if ever find a use for it.
    
    Spell Wisp: 	Grants an extra (100+spellpower)*0.05 spellpower but adds 
    		fatigue. This is at most 10 spellpower.  Not a big fan.
    
    Grease: 	Area that slows down enemies and if you cast a fire spell can
    		burn everyone within range.  Use a grease trap instead of this
    		spell.
    
    Spellbloom: 	Mana regeneration to friend and foe is not a terribly good idea.
    
    Stinging Swarm: For about 20 seconds a swarm of insects attacks a single
    		target for some considerable damage.  This target can still
    		attack however and the cost of getting here is much higher when
    		you compare to say, Curse of Mortality or Walking Bomb.
    
    
    Spirit Spells:
    -------------
    
    Spell Shield: 	This is essentially a mana shield.  I have two main problems
    		with this spell.  First, if you're using it, you're planning
    		on getting hit, which is odd.  Second, without mana, even an
    		Arcane Warrior is useless.  Lose the hp and take a potion 
    		instead.
    
    Dispel Magic: 	About the only use I can think for this spell is Curse of
    		Mortality.  Almost every other affect is negligible.
    
    Anti-Magic Ward: Other than the final runs of the game, there are very few
    		 instances where casters are a problem.  That being said, three
    		 particular encounters are terribly difficult due to Crushing 
    		 Prison, Curse of Mortality and Fireballs.
    
    Anti-Magic Burst: This spell typically causes more harm than good since you
    		  cannot control who gets affected.
    
    Mana Drain: 	A very useful spell for replenishing mana supplies.  I use it
    		frequently.
    
    Mana Cleanse: 	Very nice spell if you can get up close to enemy casters. 
    		Completely changes the tide of a fight.
    
    Spell Might: 	Sure spells are more powerful but the trade off is significant.
    		You still won't kill someone with a single fireball but the mana
    		costs will be nearly double.
    
    Mana Clash: 	Think Mana Cleanse plus great damage.  Powerful but very 
    		situational.
    
    Walking Bomb: 	If you have a single tank, this is great.  If everyone is in
    		melee range, this can cause issues.
    
    Death Syphon: 	Rarely of any benefit as when there's enough corpses on the 
    		ground, the battle is over anyhow.
    
    Virulent Walking Bomb:  Essentially a chain causing Walking Bomb.  Same 
    	                restrictions apply to both spells.  Can be deadly when 
    			combined with a Fireball or other area effect spell.
    
    Animate Dead: 	The cost is huge for a pet that doesn't tank and does minimal
    		damage.  Spend that mana on a different attack for more benefit.
    
    Mind Blast: 	Get it.  It will save your mage's life frequently.
    
    Force Field: 	Use it to either take out an enemy for some time or save your 
    		tank from death.  Taunt, Force Field, area effect spells will 
    		kill most groups with ease.
    
    Telekenetic Weapons:  Not very useful early on but when you reach a boss or 
    		      large enemy (say an Ogre or Revenant) this has a very big
    		      impact on the damage you can do.  Use Fire/Cold on regular
    		      enemies and this on every ranked enemy.
    
    Crushing Prion: Can you say overpowered?  Every mage should have this spell.
    		Not only does it remove the enemy from combat, it takes away 
    		about 50% of their health. Did I mention you can still attack 
    		these people too?  Two mages in your group with this spell and 
    		Force Field will destroy 99% of all groups you encounter.
    
    
    Entropy Spells:
    --------------
    
    Weakness: 	Penalties to defense and attack are good but every character has
    		this ability.  I prefer other abilities since they often inflict
    		the same effect but do damage as well.
    
    Paralyze: 	Stops an enemy from acting for about 10 seconds.  They can still
    		be attacked.  Great for controlling ranked enemies.
    
    Miasma: 	A sustained, area effect version of Weakness.  Has its uses 
    		certainly but typically a Force Field is a better approach.  As
    		a tank you'll see more benefit but as a ranged casters, you're
    		too far out of range for much use.
    
    Mass Paralysis:	Practically the exact same spell as Mind Blast but you can 
    		target this one.  Expect to have every enemy run to you if 
    		you tank can't get their attention after it wears off.
    
    Vulnerability Hex: Really only affects your mage and then only on high hit 
    		   point enemies. I'd rather just throw an extra damage spell.
    
    Affliction Hex: Same as above but on a group.  Even less useful.
    
    Misdirection Hex: Powerful against dragons and revenants.  Keeps your tank
    		  alive.
    
    Death Hex: 	If you can get this to stick on an enemy, expect your damage 
    		numbers to go through the roof.  Very deadly on any enemy you 
    		hit.
    
    Disorient: 	Again, penalty to attack and defense with no damage.  Next.
    
    Horror: 	Same as Paralyze.
    
    Sleep: 		On its own, dangerous because woken enemies run for the caster. 
    		Combined with Waking Nightmare, look out for crazy time.
    
    Waking Nightmare: I wouldn't use it without first casting Sleep.  Basically for
    		  75 mana you take nearly every enemy out of combat for 15 
    		  seconds.  This is almost as powerful as Force Field and 
    		  Crushing Prison and will save your life.
    
    Drain Life: 	A better option than casting Heal on the mage but hard to 
    		justify spending the ability point on a single use spell.
    
    Death Magic: 	Useful for Arcane Warrior tanks but no real use for other mages.
    
    Curse of Mortality: This is probably the spell that will kill you the most, at
    		    least in my experience.  The problem is that it takes a 
    		    long time to take effect, so really is only of use on red 
    		    ranked enemies of which there are few.
    
    Death Cloud: 	Remember Cloud Kill from Baldur's Gate?  Meet it's powerful 
    		cousin.  More damage than Inferno but arguably a more costly 
    		investment when compared.
    
    
    Warden's Keep spells:
    --------------------
    Dark Sustenance: Lose a bit of health, gain a good portion of mana.  You would
    		 think this is a bad tradeoff but you actually gain in the long 
     		 run, especiallyif you use an easily acquired healing potion or
    		 heal spell right after.  Blood mages get even more benefit 
    		 here.
    
    Bloody Grasp: 	Direct damage spells are much more effective than this ability.
    
    
    Shapeshifter Specialization:
    ---------------------------
    
    As I mentioned before, the Shapeshifter is easily the weakest of all 
    specializations.  This is solely due to the fact that you lose access to all
    your mage spells while transformed and what's a mage without spells?
    
    Spider Shape: 	Bonus to nature resistance and you gain access to Web (Paralyze)
    		and Poison Spit (damage over time attack).  With Master 
    		Shapeshifter, you can now Overwhelm enemies, tackling them to 
    		the ground.
    
    Bear Shape: 	Gains to armor and the ability to Slam (Knockdown) and Rage 
    		(increased melee damage).  Master Shapeshifter gives you the 
    		Overwhelm ability.
    
    Flying Swarm: 	Odd ability here.  You basically have an aura around you that 
    		does continual damage to enemies, moreso the closer you are to 
    		them.  You can also directly attack casters, draining mana 
    		instead of life.  You can't be hit by missles, are hard to hit 
    		with melee and take huge damage from fire.  Master Shapeshifter 
    		gives you the ability to drain life when attacking.
    
    Master Shapeshifter: Increases the attributes of all forms and provides new
    		     abilities.
    
    
    Spirit Healer specialization:
    ----------------------------
    
    This spell line provides you with many ways to heal your entire group. This
    should be a core specialization for one of your mages, it's that powerful.
    
    Group Heal: 	Heals the entire group for a significant amount.  Combined with
    		Heal this is what keeps groups alive when there are no health 
    		potions.
    
    Revival: 	Can be used to revive a tank but more than likely you've lost 
    		the fight if you have to cast this spell.
    
    Lifeward: 	Keeps the tank alive when everything else is on cooldown.
    
    Cleansing Aura:	Very large range for what amounts to a half-heal every few 
    		seconds.  You won't have it on every fight but when the entire 
    		group is taking continual area damage, it will save you.  Plus 
    		it frees you from Injury Kits.
    
    
    Blood Mage specialization:
    -------------------------
    
    A very interesting combination of spells where you trade hit points for mana
    or damage.  If you pay attention to combat, this can be a devastating option.
    
    Blood Magic: 	You use hit points to cast spells.  One of the reasons a blood
    		mage requires a significant hit point pool instead of mana.  
    		Can be powerful if you plan ahead.
    
    Blood Sacrifice: On its own, why would you potentially kill a teammate to heal
    		 yourself?  Well, if that someone is a Ranger pet then there's
    		 no real problem at all!
    
    Blood Wound: 	Enemies with blood (everything but a golem pretty much) take 
    		big damage throughout the area.  This is essentially a magic 
    		taunt spell.  Use with extreme caution.
    
    Blood Control: 	If they have blood they become the mage's pet, else they take
    		significant damage.  More damage is great.  Possessing an 
    		Emissary is even better.
    
    
    Arcane Warrior specialization:
    -----------------------------
    
    Great for a tank, very little use for a standard mage, if only for the first
    ability to equip heavy armor with your Magic attribute instead of Strength.
    
    Combat Magic: 	Just selecting this ability means you can equip any item by
    		swapping the strength requirement for magic.  Massive plate
    		here we come. No real benefit to other damage since you'll be
    		casting from the back.
    
    Aura of Might: 	Improved Combat Magic. You're not tanking, no need for this.
    
    Shimmering Shield: Makes you harder to hit but this shouldn't be a problem in 
    		   the first place.
    
    Fade Shroud: 	Nearly immune to melee hits and mana regen.  Heavy cost to 
    		invest if you don't plan on getting hit in the first place.
    
    
    Suggested Build (DAO:7.2.3)
    ---------------
    
    Attributes: 	Simple enough here, put enough points into willpower to have
    		enough mana to cast your spells, 30-35 is usually good.  Every
    		thing else goes into the magic stat.
    
    Abilities:	No matter what I put down here, there are going to be other
    		alternatives that are just as appealing.  I would suggest that
    		you have more than one mage in your party and split the spells
    		between them for even more devastation and power.  Instead of
    		breaking it down by level, I'll just briefly list the spells
    		you should take a hard look at, regardless of the spells you
    		have to acquire before taking it.  Just remember that area
    		effect spells will most likely make the enemy run straight
    		towards your mage.  Remember, mages automatically get Arcane
    		Bolt at level 1.
    
    1) 	Heal
    2) 	Fireball
    3) 	Mind Blast
    4) 	Force Field
    5) 	Fireball
    6) 	Crushing Prison
    7) 	Blizzard
    8) 	Petrify
    9) 	Group Heal
    10) 	Blood Magic
    11) 	Revival
    12) 	Lifeward
    13)	Blood Sacrifice
    14)	Cleansing Aura
    15)	Sleep
    16) 	Waking Nightmare
    17) 	Haste
    18) 	Death Hex
    19)	Miasma
    20)	Blood Control
    
    
    Summary (DAO: 7.2.4)
    -------
    
    As you can see, the traditional caster role has a wide variety of options
    available.  You can focus on single target damage, control, healing, disabling
    and some neat tricks along the way.  There are three core spells that every
    mage should learn: Heal, Force Field and Crushing Prison.  They are simply too
    powerful to ignore.
    
    If you have only one mage in the group, I would suggest a Spirit Healer as they
    provide a significant boost to survivability.  If you have multiple mages, have
    them go down various spell trees to maximize your variety and increase the
    chance for spell combinations.
    
    - Increase Magic to get Crushing Prison early, then add to Willpower
    - More Magic means spells are harder to resist
    - More Willpower gives you more spells to cast, up to 15 mana per level
    - Don't buy 2 weak spells to get 1 good one
    - Staves hit 100% of this time but never hit for critical damage
    - Staves each have their own damage type, check their information for details.
      If you find an enemy is immune to your damage, change staves or go to a bow.
    
    
    Spell Combinations (DAO:7.3)
    ------------------
    
    When you combine two or more particular spells together you can unlock a nifty
    combination.  Some are more useful than others, that's for sure.
    
    
    Grease Fire 		||	Grease & Fire Spell	
    -----------
    Anyone caught in the greas effect is also affected by lingering fire damage
    
    
    Flame Quencher		||	Grease Fire & Blizzard	
    --------------
    Removes the Grease Fire
    
    
    Storm of the Century 	||	Spellmight & Blizzard & Tempest	
    --------------------
    Insanely deadly spell combination.  You lose the effects of Blizzard but the
    entire cloud gets significantly bigger and does more damage.  Works best if you
    have 2 mages working together to cast this spell.
    
    
    Shattering		||	Petrified/Frozen Enemy & Critical hit/
    ----------			Stone Fist/Crushing Prison
    Odds are you'll see this one early on.  This instantly kills the enemy.
    
    
    Paralysis Explosion	||	Glyph of Paralysis & Glyph of Repulsion	
    -------------------
    Instantly paralyzes everyone in range and removes both glyphs.
    
    
    Entropy	Nightmare	||	Sleep & Horror	
    -----------------
    Lose the sleep effect but enemy takes a big chunk of damage.
    
    
    Improved Drain		||	Vulnerability Hex & Drain Life/Drain Mana
    --------------
    The drain spells are twice as effective.
    
    
    Entropic Death		||	Death Hex & Death Cloud	
    --------------
    Very big damage but single target only.
    
    
    Spirit	Shockwave	||	Force Field & Crushing Prison	
    -----------------
    You'll be seeing this almost every fight past level 15.  Creates a knockdown 
    shockwave on everyone but the target.
    
    
    Advanced Reanimation	||	Spell Might & Animate Dead	
    --------------------
    Skeletons that come out have more abilities and are stronger.
    
    
    ---------------
    SPECIALIZATIONS (DAO:8)
    ---------------
    
    It goes without saying that there are **SPOILERS** beyond this point.
    
    I'll briefly explain how to unlock each specialization.  Once unlocked, it
    stays active on the next playthrough or reload.  This means in many cases you
    should save your game, buy a book and then reload the game to get your money
    back.
    
    
    Warrior (DAO:8.1)
    -------
    
    Templar: 	Learn from Alistair with high approval.  You can also buy the 
    		book from Bodahn at camp.
    
    Champion: 	You need to cure the Arl in Redcliffe with the Ashes. You can 
    		decline the specialization if you are not careful.
    
    Reaver: 	Taint the ashes then visit the reavers to collect this 
    		specilization.
    
    Beserker: 	Learn from Oghren with high approval or buy the book from Gorim
    		in Denerim.
    
    
    Rogue (DAO:8.2)
    -----
    
    Assassin: 	Learn from Zevran with high approval or buy in Denerim from 
    		Alarith.
    
    Bard: 		Learn from Leliana with high approval.
    
    Ranger: 	Buy the book from Bodahn at camp.
    
    Duelist: 	Learn from Isabella at the Pearl in Denerim.  You must catch 
    		her cheating or bring a high dexterity character with you to 
    		help out after a few failures.  Persuasion apparently works.
    
    
    Mage (DAO:8.3)
    ----
    
    Shapeshifter: 	Learn from Morrigan if your approval is high enough.
    
    Sprit Healer: 	You can buy the book in the Wonders of Thedas shop in Denerim.
    
    Blood Mage: 	You must be a mage and enter the Fade while helping cure the 
    		Arl's child in Redcliffe.  Make a trade with the Desire Demon
    		to learn this specialization.
    
    Arcane Warrior: In the Ancient Temple in the Brecilian Forest is a room with
    		a phylactery and an altar.  Help the spirit to die and you'll
    		gain this specialization.
    
    
    ----
    TIPS (DAO:9)
    ----
    
    Here are a few tips and notes that you should keep in mind when playing
    Dragon Age.
    
    - Completing the Circle of Mages tower will reward you with 4 Strength, 
      4 Dexterity, 4 Willpower, 2 Magic, 5 Cunning and 2 Constitution.  If you 
      plan on minimally investing in particular attributes, do this quest first to
      give you a better idea of where to put other points.
    
    - PC bug: When you level up, you can redistribute attribute points.  Let's say
      you are a mage and want to reduce cunning to increase magic.  Put the 3
      points into cunning and then click Reset.  Now, click the left arrow next to
      cunning.  This will remove 3 points giving you a total of 6 to play with. You
      can do this as often as you like but can only redistribute one particular
      attribute per level up.  My Arcange Warrior had 1 strength and 1 cunning with
      this method.
    
    - At merchants, buy backpacks everytime you see them.  They help you acquire
      more items to better equip your entire team.
    
    - At merchants, buy books in this order.  Abilities, Attributes, Skills.
    
    - At merchants, if you see a Specialization book save first, buy the book then
      reload your game with the specialization unlocked.
    
    - Everything you sell to your Camp vendor stays on him forever.  If you find
      you're low on inventory space, sell him some items to lighten your load.
      Alternatively, if you have the Warden's Keep DLC, complete that quest to
      unlock group storage.
    
    - When Enchanting, you don't lose runes put into weapons.  If you want to move
      runes around simply remove them from a weapon and put them into another.
    
    - When Enchanting, Tanks should focus on Physical Resistance (60 max), damage
      dealers should look for Electric/Ice/Fire and Paralyzing runes.
    
    - The earlier you acquire party members, the lower their levels and the more
      you can customize them.  Allistair joins at level 2-3 with only 4 abilities
      already selected.  Oghren can be acquired very late in the game and leave no
      room at all for selecting a path other than melee.
    
    -----------
    FINAL NOTES (DAO:10)
    -----------
    
    The beauty of Dragon Age is there really isn't a bad way to play the game.  
    There are certainly easier ways than others but if you want a challenge all 
    the time, that option surely exists.
    
    If you have any questions or comments, feel free to send them my way.