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    Blood Magic Guide by atomicmew

    Version: 1.0 | Updated: 01/14/10 | Printable Version | Search This Guide

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    ===============================================================================
    Dragon Age Origins v 1.02 (PC):
    Advanced Blood Magic v1.0, 1/14/10 by
    Travers C (surfa808@gmail.com) aka atomicmew, Copyright 2010
    ===============================================================================
    
    1.0 Introduction
    	1.1 Why use Blood Magic?
    	1.2 Healing and how it multiplies your effective mana pool
    	1.3 A note on party composition
    	1.4 A note on potions and other consumables
    2.0 Unlocking Blood Mage
    3.0 Attributes and Skills
    4.0 Noteworthy Items - Improved Blood Magic
    5.0 Spells and Specializations
    	5.1 Blood Mage Spells
    	5.2 Arcane
    	5.3 Primal
    	5.4 Creation
    	5.5 Spirit
    	5.6 Entropy
    	5.7 Specializations
    		5.7.1 Spirit Healer
    	5.8 Power of Blood (Requires Warden's Keep DLC)
    6.0 Builds, Tactics and Tactic Slots
    	6.1 Morrigan
    	6.2 Wynne
    	6.3 Tactic Slots
    7.0 Additional Resources
    
    ----------------
    1.0 INTRODUCTION
    ----------------
    Hi, my name is Travers and thank you for reading my guide!  This is my first,
    so bear with me.  I'll be discussing mages and the Blood Mage specialization as
    it relates to Nightmare difficulty.  Keep in mind that if you play on a lower
    difficulty setting, some things I say may not apply.  I'm also not too
    concerned with role-playing.  Actually, from that perspective, there really
    just isn't any justification to take Blood Mage anywhere in the game, and so
    for the most part, this is a power-gamer's guide.
    
    1.1 Why use Blood Magic?
    ------------------------
    I've seen a lot of people on forums dissing Blood Magic or saying that Blood
    Magic is only good for Blood Wound.  While it's true that Blood Wound is
    insanely good, even without it, Blood Mage is by far the best specialization
    for a caster mage.  It has to do with the ability to amplify the amount of
    spells you can cast for a given amount of mana.  For example, if you had only
    40 mana left, as a normal mage you'd only be able to cast one fireball.  With
    Blood Magic you could cast ten (or more!) fireballs on the same amount of mana!
    
    Another huge upside is (IMO), built properly, blood mages actually require less
    pausing and can be run almost completely on tactic slots alone.
    
    Perhaps the biggest reason NOT to use Blood Magic is that lyrium potions are
    dirt cheap and are always in stock.  That, combined with ways of getting
    infinite gold, does make the game pretty trivial.  But why use potions when you
    can do the same thing without them?  Why not use Blood Magic and never worry
    about running out, restocking or taking time to craft potions either?
    Personally, I get a kick out of doing things efficiently.  In short, that's the
    theme of this guide.  Doing the most with the least amount of resources,
    setting companion tactics so you never have to pause, etc., etc.
    
    There are of course downsides to relying on Blood Magic.  There are basically
    two that I can think of (although they really aren't so bad).  The biggest
    downside is that blood mages spend quite a bit of time micromanaging their
    health and mana.  Since you cannot be healed when using Blood Magic, you need
    to know when it is appropriate or not.  This can be confusing and tedious if
    you plan to make a blood mage your main character.  Fortunately, Blood Magic
    has a very short recharge, which makes Blood Mages managable with tactic slots.
    The second downside is that using Blood Magic makes your character even more
    fragile than a normal mage, since you will likely be operating at around 50-90%
    of your total HP most of the time.   This can be a problem at lower levels, but
    later, it is more than made up for by using a maintainable defensive spell (or
    two).
    
    
    1.2 Healing and how it multiplies your effective mana pool
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    A blood mage is capable of using his health to cast spells.  With healing
    spells, mana can be converted and amplified directly to health.  Heal costs 20
    mana and gives you about 60 hit points, which immediately amplifies "effective"
    mana by a factor of 3.  However, spell costs are discounted by 40% (With
    Improved Blood Magic {see section 4.0}).  Thus, your effective mana is actually
    60/(100%-40%) = 100 mana, a total amplification factor of 5!
    
    Instead of having a small mana pool of 200, like a normal mage, a blood mage
    literally has thousands of effective mana!
    
    Heal is just a simple example.  Every other healing spell, Regeneration, Group
    Heal, Lifeward and even Cleansing Aura have much, much bigger conversion
    factors.
    
    Also, while it is technically true that you can't be healed under Blood Magic,
    this fact is circumvented by two things:
    1) Blood sacrifice steals HP from an ally and also amplifies by a factor of
    about 2.  Instead of directly healing yourself, use your tank as a blood
    battery.  Steal from your tank, and then heal it back up.
    2) Just disable it.  Disabling Blood Magic is instant.  Heal yourself back up
    and then re-enable it 10 seconds later.
    
    
    1.3 A note on party composition
    -------------------------------
    IMO, the most balanced party consists of 2 mages, a warrior tank and a rogue.
    With this, you should pretty much steamroll almost everything on nightmare with
    no effort.  You could of course (for example) take one less mage and another
    warrior, but this will make things much harder.  A mage is a squishy target and
    easily shutdown if you don't pay attention.  If your mage dies, so does your
    healing, and likely the rest of your team.  That's why it's a good idea to take
    more than one, so they can support each other and still keep your red bar up,
    even if the other dies.
    
    The game also strongly rewards you for pumping non-combat skills, and so a
    rogue is a must.  In fact, so much so that it is probably a good idea to make
    your main character a rogue and pass every coercion check without even trying.
    You can still have two blood mages in your party (Wynne and Morrigan), and that
    is what I do.  You do have to wait a bit until getting Blood Mage, since Wynne
    and Morrigan are already specialized.  But you can get to level 14 just by
    doing the Circle Tower and Denerim side quests, so it's no big deal.
    
    If you are dead set on playing a blood mage as your main, you can do that too,
    of course.  It doesn't really matter either way.
    
    
    1.4 A note on potions and other consumables
    -------------------------------------------
    I personally do not use any consumables at all (potions, poisons, swift salves,
    etc.)  They are not necessary, they make inventory clutter, and feel a bit like
    cheating (IMO).  They also just take up time and additional micro management
    which slows my pace down.  I strongly recommend not using consumables either.
    
    
    ------------------------
    2.0 Unlocking Blood Mage
    ------------------------
    If you don't have Blood Mage unlocked, there are several ways to do it.
    
    The legit way: In Redcliffe Castle when it is time to confront the demon.  If
    your main character is a mage, you can send yourself into the fade and convince
    the demon to teach you forbidden magic. This will unlock Blood Mage for all
    your future play-throughs.
    
    The cheat way: If your main is NOT a mage, first save your game.  Then enter
    "runscript wizard 25" into the console, which turns you into a mage and allows
    you to enter the fade.  Bargain with the demon, but do NOT save your game, as
    it will become corrupted.  Reload your latest save, and you should have it
    unlocked for Wynne and Morrigan.
    
    For more info on the console, check out the wiki page:
    http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Console
    
    
    -------------------------
    3.0 Attributes and Skills
    -------------------------
    This is very simple.  Dump every attribute point into Magic.  Eventually spare
    a few points for Cunning, so you can max out Coercion.  For skill points, max
    out Coercion and Combat Training.  If you have leftover points, you can put it
    into Survival for a marginal combat bonus or Stealing to unlock a quest chain.
    
    For your companion mages (Wynne and/or Morrigan), get Cunning to 16 and dump
    the rest into magic.  Max out Tactics and Combat Training.
    
    
    5.0 Noteworthy Items - Improved Blood Magic
    -------------------------------------------
    There are two items that give you Improved Blood Magic.  These items are huge,
    reducing the cost of your spells by 25%, letting you stay in Blood Magic
    longer.  They should definitely be priority on your list of items to get.
    
    Blood Ring - Obtained in Orzammar by finishing the "illegal" proving ground
    fights.
    
    Robes of Avernus - Obtained from killing Avernus in the Warden's Keep DLC.
    
    If you don't have the DLC, then you need to choose which mage in your party
    gets to use the Blood Ring.  If your main is a mage, then give it to Wynne,
    since you are capable of managing your mana and health better than she is
    (hopefully).
    
    There are a few also a few items that boost the amount of healing you recieve,
    directly increasing your amplification factor.  However, you should already
    have more effective mana than you know what to do with, and you will be over-
    healed most of the time anyway.  These items are probably best reserved for
    your tank.
    
    *Edit*: Seems like +heal items are broken, so scratch that.
    
    
    ------------------------------
    5.0 Spells and Specializations
    ------------------------------
    Spells are what make or break a mage.  This is the trickiest part, and
    subjective.  Therefore, everything here is mostly just opinion, and so I'll try
    to keep it brief.  However, there are a very few amount of "core" spells which
    comprise the concept.  So without further ado....
    
    P.S.: Spells will be presented in brackets [] to hopefully clear up any
    confusion.
    
    
    5.1 Blood Mage Spells
    ---------------------
    This is, obviously, the most important spell line.  [Blood Magic] is obviously
    a core spell, since it's what allows you to cast from health.  [Blood
    Sacrifice] is also core, since it allows you to basically stay in [Blood Magic]
    indefinitely, as long as you aren't taking damage.
    
    [Blood Wound] isn't strictly required, but it is the single most overpowered
    spell in the entire game.  Huge AoE, Stuns for the entire duration, does decent
    damage and has a ridiculously low recharge.  Don't take it if you want your
    game to be a little bit challenging.  Okay, maybe a little bit of exaggeration,
    but it really is good.
    
    [Blood Control] is also a strong control spell.  However, I've heard that it's
    glitched in that it doesn't do damage if it fails, and I also heard that it can
    steal experience points.
    
    5.2 Arcane
    ----------
    Every mage gets [Arcane Bolt] for free, but do not EVER cast it.  You have
    better things to do with your mana (and blood).  [Arcane Shield] is alright and
    will make you less squishy.  The rest of the line, although they are passive,
    are just too marginal to consider.  Only bother if you have points leftoever
    later on.
    
    5.3 Primal
    ----------
    No terribly strong lines late game, but decent early on, but you can do without
    any of these spells.  [Fireball] is decent combined with Shield Wall on your
    tank.  [Cone of Cold] is very strong CC early on, but it's no [Blood Wound].
    It does make a decent combo with [Stonefist] for shattering.  [Rock Armor] is
    decent, and probably stronger than [Arcane Shield].  Choose one of them and
    maintain it all the time so you don't die if something looks at you.
    
    [Blizzard], [Inferno], [Tempest] and the [Storm of the Century] are all
    situationally useful for clearing out entire rooms without line of sight.  But
    honestly, [Blood Wound] can basically do the same thing, doesn't take forever
    to cast and won't kill your companions when they walk into the area.
    
    5.4 Creation
    ------------
    Very strong lines here.
    
    The healing line should be maxed out by at least one mage in your party.  Other
    mages should take just [Heal].  These are core spells.  Healing amplifies your
    mana pool.  See section 1.2.
    
    [Haste] is a very strong spell.  It's costly at 4 points to get, but it will
    make running around so much easier.  (And there is a lot of running around in
    this game.)  It also amps up rogue and warrior damage like nobodies business.
    However, if you are relying on your mage to do damage, it may be prudent to
    skip this.
    
    The Glyph line is very strong, especially [Glyph of Repulsion].  Put it on
    yourself which makes you untouchable by normal melee.  Or put it in a doorway
    and be entertained.  Sadly it looses its oomph later on and becomes eclipsed
    when you finally get [Blood Wound].  It's a decent situational backup when
    [Blood Wound] is on recharge.
    
    [Glyph of Neutralization] is useful for completely disabling enemy mages for a
    very long time and it can't be resisted.  It also dispels friendly and enemy
    buffs, so be careful.
    
    [Spell Wisp] is a maintainable that increases your spellpower.  It basically
    pays for itself, and you should get it eventually.  Skip all but [Spell Wisp]
    for your main character.  For Wynne, I also like to get [Spellbloom], which I
    think is pretty underrated.  Eventually, Wynne gets [Stinging Swarm] as well.
    While it is statistically weak, the damage jumps to a new foe when the target
    dies, meaning it's impossible for Wynne to use it incorrectly.
    
    5.5 Spirit
    ----------
    [Crushing Prison] is kinda weak after the 1.02 update nerf with a long
    recharge.  [Force Field] isn't as useful for a blood mage, since you don't even
    have to deal with friendly fire, but it's still useful in a clutch.
    
    [Mana Clash] - is it really worth the 4 points?  Although it can outright kill
    most mages, it can be resisted (unlike [Glyph of Neutralization]) and is in a
    pretty weak line.  Regardless, the AoE is HUGE and considering just how much
    damage it can do, it's easy to see why people love this skill.  For me, by the
    time I have enough points to spare, it doesn't really matter.
    
    [Virulent Walking Bomb] is another player favorite.  It has the biggest
    potential AoE damage in the entire game, bar none.  That makes it a double
    edged sword since it can literally blow up your tank or even your entire party
    if used incorrectly.  For me, it's just not worth the headaches and the
    reloads.
    
    
    5.5 Entropy
    -----------
    Paralysis and Sleep lines are basically inferior versions of the Blood line.
    If I needed more CC I'd take [Blood Control].  That said, Sleep line is
    definitely the better of the two, and Morrigan already comes with these lines
    partially specced.
    
    Hex and Death lines depend on if you want to do damage with your mage.
    Personally, I prefer to depend on my warrior and rogue to do damage and save my
    mages for support and CC.  However, [Affliction Hex] + [Blood Wound] looks like
    a seriously sweet combo for big AoE damage (as if it wasn't overpowered
    enough).  Of course, there's always [Entropic Death] and [Misdirection Hex] and
    [Death Hex] are pretty sweet against bosses.
    
    5.7 Specializations
    -------------------
    There are basically only two options for a main character: Spirit Healer and
    Arcane Warrior.  Shapeshifting is just completely inferior.  Arcane Warrior is
    a different playstyle than what this guide describes.  See Sajber's excellent
    FAQ on Arcane Warrior for that.  If you are using Wynne and Morrigan, of
    course, you don't have any choice.
    
    5.7.1 Spirit Healer
    -------------------
    
    For a main character, I suggest only one point for [Group Heal].  Let Wynne do
    the majority of the healing.  Take Wynne up all the way to [Cleansing Aura],
    which is useful at least for clearing injuries.  It's very possible to maintain
    [Cleansing Aura] indefinitely on your main character with [Dark Sustenance] and
    [Blood Magic], but it may not be worth the effort.
    
    5.8 Power of Blood (Requires Warden's Keep DLC)
    -----------------------------------------------
    These spells are only available to your main character and only if you have
    Warden's Keep.
    
    [Dark Sustenance] is insanely strong.  It basically gives you a huge amount of
    mana for a small health sacrifice.  By now, I hope I don't have to explain how
    abusable this is.  There is a slight downside in having a moderately long
    casting animation.
    
    On the other hand, [Blood Grasp] should be taken out back and shot.  Not only
    is it weak damage, it's bugged and gives you a status effect that doesn't go
    away.
    
    
    ------------------------------------
    6.0 Builds, Tactics and Tactic Slots
    ------------------------------------
    
    6.1 Morrigan
    ------------
    Morrigan comes with the worst specialization in the game and a ton of subpar
    spells.  However, they are still useful early on before you can start investing
    in the Blood Wound tree.  You could also go for Cone of Cold, which is great
    early on, but eclipsed later.  Regardless, she is the only other mage
    companion, and that makes her essential.  You will definitely want to use tomes
    on her to give her a few more spell points.
    
    At about level 20 or so, Morrigan had the following spells (pre-requisites also
    listed). Anything not mentioned, isn't really a good use of her time.  Of
    course, there is room for addition since the level cap is higher.  This is just
    an example and by no means definitive.
    
    >Arcane Bolt, Arcane Shield
    >Blood Magic, Blood Sacrifice, Blood Wound
    >Winter's Grasp, Frost Weapon
    >Mind Blast
    >Heal, Rejuvenate, Regeneration, Mass Rejuvenation
    >Glyph of Paralysis, Glyph of Warding, Glyph of Repulsion,
    	Glyph of Neutralization
    
    This gives her a ton of protection, good healing and as much crowd control as
    you could possibly ever need.
    
    6.2 Wynne
    ---------
    Unlike Morrigan, Wynne hardly comes with any wasted spells.  You may even find
    that you have spell points that you don't know what to do with.  I had Wynne
    setup with the following spells.  Both this build and the build above basically
    reflect my opinions in the previous section.
    
    >Blood Magic, Blood Sacrifice, Blood Wound
    >Rock Armor
    >Heal, Rejuvenate, Regeneration
    >Group Heal, Revival, Lifeward, Cleansing Aura
    >Heroic Offense, Heroic Aura, Heroic Defense, Haste
    >Spell Wisp, Grease, Spellbloom, Stinging Swarm
    
    6.3 Tactic Slots
    ----------------
    Tactics are a somewhat sore point for Blood Mages.  No matter what you do, it
    will be literally impossible to get companions to use Blood Magic as
    efficiently as possible.  Despite the shear amount tactics available, the
    system is quite limited.  On the other hand, controlling your mage and making
    sure she uses Blood Magic properly is seriously tedious.  That said, companions
    do use it just decently.  You should consider gluing the following setup should
    be glued to your mage companions:
    
    a) Self: Health < 50%			Deactivate: Blood Magic
    b) Self: Health < 50%			Heal (or Regeneration)
    c) Oghren (or Alistair): >= 75%	Blood Sacrifice
    d) Self: >= 75%				Activate: Blood Magic
    
    What you should notice right away is that order matters a lot.  It's all about
    priority.  If your health is less than 50%, you want to deactivate Blood Magic.
    This should be near the top, if not at the very top of your Tactics since if
    you continue casting without deactivation, you will die.  The slot immediately
    after should be a self-heal of some sort to pull your health back up.
    Regeneration probably works best since it's efficient and will always be
    available.  Note that putting the self-heal BEFORE deactivation leads to
    completely different and bad behavoir.
    
    *Edit*: If you're confident, you could also rely on your other mage to heal you
    back up, which is more efficient.
    
    The rest is pretty self-explanatory.  Use your tank as a blood battery with
    Blood Sacrifice.  Lifeward and Regeneration will top his health off anyhow.
    
    If you're above 75%, you want Blood Magic to be active.  That condition occurs
    in and out of combat; Blood Magic (along with a few other sustainables) are
    automatically disabled a few seconds after combat and out of combat.  This
    leads to your companions cycling Blood every 10 seconds when you're running
    around town.  Oops.  The sound will be annoying at first, but you'll get used
    to it.  If its really bothersome, you can disable the tactic until combat
    starts.
    
    You then have 8 Other tactic slots to do whatever with.  You want to set them
    such that you avoid healing your mages if they're in Blood Magic.  Be creative!
    
    Example Tactics
    ---------------
    
    Wynne:
    1) Self: Health < 50%			Deactivate: Blood Magic
    2) Self: Health < 50%			Regenerate
    3) Oghren: >= 75%				Blood Sacrifice
    4) Self: >= 75%				Activate: Blood Magic
    5) Enemy: Clustered			Blood Wound
    6) Ally: Health < 50%			Heal
    7) Ally: Health < 50%			Group Heal
    8) Morrigan: Being attacked		Heroic Defense
    9) Enemy: Target of Main		Stinging Swarm
    10) Morrigan: Mana < 75%		Spellbloom
    11) Morrigan: Mana < 75%		Rejuvenation
    12) Oghren: Health < 75%		Lifeward
    
    Morrigan:
    1) Self: Health < 50%			Deactivate: Blood Magic
    2) Self: Health < 50%			Regenerate
    3) Enemy: Clustered			Blood Wound
    4) Wynne: Being attacked		Glyph of Warding
    5) Oghren: >= 75%				Blood Sacrifice
    6) Self: >= 75%				Activate: Blood Magic
    7) Ally: Health < 50%			Heal
    8) Self: Being attacked by melee	Mind Blast
    9) Hero: Health < 90%			Regeneration
    10) Oghren: Health < 90%		Regeneration
    11) Wynne: Mana < 75%			Mass Rejuvenation
    12) Wynne: Mana < 50%			Rejuvenation
    
    Et voila!  Completely self-sufficient mages that kick butt that don't need to
    be micro-managed.
    
    ------------------------
    7.0 Additional Resources
    ------------------------
    
    Dragon Age Wiki http://dragonage.wikia.com
    Contains most basic info, although it is not entirely complete.  It's a wiki,
    so please improve it if you can!
    
    Dragon Age Nexus http://dragonagenexus.com/
    A list of in-game modifications and tweaks, including a mod that gives you more
    tactic slots.  However, be careful because that (and other mods) are basically
    cheating and could ruin your experience.
    
    Thank you Bioware for a great game and Gamefaqs for a terrific website.
    
    ---
    End
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