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Character Generation

Dragon Age: Origins Walkthrough and Guide

by CMBF  

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Character Generation

If you have played RPG type games in the past than you already know how important the process of creating your character can be because the choices that you make in the process are not just cosmetic!  You tweak the stats and skills in the creation process, settings that can determine whether or not you can create potions, poisons, or even when you can start wearing better armor and using better weapons.    In short, this is a process that often has an immediate and meaningful impact on your gaming experience - and unfortunately only works best when you already understand what your immediate needs are going to be in the game!

Because of that, this section is probably the most important for you to read if you have yet to play the game, because it will help you in making decisions that may well flavor your ultimate impressions of game play, the story, and your overall satisfaction with the experience.  It is not rocket science, but making some decisions early on can have a measurable impact later in the game.

Consider for a moment that your character represents you in the game - call it your Avatar - and to really enjoy the game you should have a connection to it, one that satisfies you, because you are going to be spending a big chunk of time with it.  Ideally you should want to take your time, play around with the settings, and make a toon that appeals to you, but that will require you to actually play through - at a minimum - the origin story several times, using different settings. 

Since it takes anywhere from an hour to two to do that just once, that may not be the ideal solution for you.  To help you make informed choices so that you can jump right into the game, this section covers the character creation process in some detail, and highlights a few of the choices that may be more helpful to you.

While the origin stories are all different, there are several common points to creating characters for the game that are essentially the same:

- Gender
- Race
- Class
- Background

- Gender: Male or Female
Sex does not appear to play any particular role in the game as far as character effectiveness is concerned - I tried both male and female and did not see a difference in combat, stat performance, or skills. 

Having said that, you should be aware that there are Achievements/Trophies in the game that are dependent upon the sex of your character - because they involve romancing specific characters that you recruit into your party.  If you want to obtain those Achievements / Trophies, you are going to have to play the opposite gender, so you may want to bare that in mind as you plan out your play or re-play strategies.

- Race: Human, Elf, or Dwarf
What you choose will have a decided impact upon how you play the game and your game experience and you will certainly re-play the game as a different race later, so if you are making your first character on your first play-through, just pick what you like best for now.

- Class: Warrior, Mage, or Rogue
While the first two selections have some impact, the third, Class, has a very obvious impact on how you play the game and what your experience will be.  Give each class some thought before you make your decision and jump into the game!

Warrior is going to be predominantly hack-and-slash, using a variety of weapons and weapon styles to do damage.  Magic is not part of the Warrior's skills set, though some magic stats are important because they do effect how well potions and magic items will work on you.  If you like wading in and getting a little blood on your armor, Warrior is a good choice for you.

Mage is just what you are likely thinking it is - a Magic-centric class that is not going to have a wide selection of armor and weapons, but nonetheless is able to deliver serious hurt on the enemy!  When you are playing a magical character, your tactics must be different - like a Ranger, you do your damage from distance rather than wading right into the fight - and like a Ranger, you are not as adept at soaking up damage as a Warrior or Rogue.  No, there is no Ranger class in this game, but you get the idea.

Rogue - the Thief Class.  There is a lot of the Warrior in the Rogue, but there is a finesse and a set of opportunities to this class that Warrior does not possess.  Considering that there are Achievements / Trophies in the game for persuading (Warrior will likely be who you use to get the intimidation ones) it makes sense that you will be earning those as a Rogue. 

You do not soak up as much damage as the Warrior Class, but you can handle more than the Mage can, because you can wear most of the same armor that the Warrior uses.  Like the Mage there will be some weapons and armor in the game that only your class can wear as well.

A more significant aspect of this class is its ability to open locks - and there are a surprising amount of locked chests and containers in the game!  Being able to get into those will help you to quickly amass wealth, gear, armor, and weapons, which you can equip on your character and your party members or sell to merchants for more wealth.  It is a decided advantage in the game, which is something for you to think about.  

- Background: Varies by the above choices.

There are six Origin stories that are associated with the Background choice - and in the next section we will explore all of these, but for now, here is the basic rundown:

Human Warrior = Human Noble
Human Mage = Magi
Human Rogue = Human Noble

Elven Warrior = Dalish Elf -OR- City Elf
Elven Mage = Magi
Elven Rogue = Dalish Elf -OR- City Elf

Dwarven Warrior = Dwarf Commoner -OR- Dwarf Noble
Dwarven Rogue = Dwarf Commoner -OR- Dwarf Noble

- Appearance and Voice
After you select the first three main traits, you are given the chance to name your character and then to adjust its appearance and voice.  You do that by using the sliding menus for each option as follows:

- Appearance: multiple selections for hair, features and skin tone.

This is your chance to personalize your character - decide how he or she looks, their hairstyle, even their voice.  As you are going to be spending a considerable amount of time playing this character and since in a way it represents you in the game, you may want to seriously consider spending a few minutes playing with these settings so that you end up with a character that you like.

If you are a serious RPG fan - consider what that means: (R)ole (P)laying (G)ame.  Creating a persona and personality for your character that you can play and remain true to is not just a good idea, it will actually make the game more interesting and fun.  You will not have to be confused about the choices that you will be making in the game, because you already know based on your character persona what sort of choices they would make.

I always try to play each character as true to form as I can - even when they make decisions that might make me uncomfortable or give me reason to pause - just remember it is not YOU making these choices, it is your character!


You begin with a set number of attributes in each category and have a number of points to spend as you like in addition to those.  Unlike the Skills and Specializations, your attributes have a much deeper impact on game play than you may realize, so we are going to go into some detail here so that you have a firm understanding of what they are and how they work.  First though, let us look at the present levels and the choice of how to spread out the additional points.

You are given 5 points to spend in addition to the base attributes already assigned to your character - for a Male Human Noble Warrior these are:

Strength - 15
Dexterity - 14
Willpower - 10
Magic - 11
Cunning - 11
Constitution - 13

You can add all of the points to one or spread them among several of the attributes - how you do that should correspond to the how you plan to play the character.  For instance it is possible to select any of the skills next that normally would apply to a different class - like trap-making or herbalism - and if you decide to go that route and create a hybrid-class, you may want to invest a few points in Cunning or Magic even though you are creating a Warrior.

For a pure Warrior, the most important stats are going to be Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution for now - but remember that every time you level up, you are given additional points that you can spend improving these attributes.  Now let us examine what each of these attributes actually does in detail.

STRENGTH: Measures a characters physical prowess and directly effects the damage that a character does in physical combat.  Your strength stat contributes to the accuracy of melee attacks, and is an essential stat for warriors, especially if they intend to use two-handed weapons.  The strength stat is almost as critical for Rogues as it is for the Warrior.

- What Strength Does -

Increases damage from all weapons except crossbows and staves.
Increases attack score in melee combat by 0.50 for each point purchased.
Is a prerequisite for most weapon talents and higher-level armor and weapons.
Contributes to physical resistance and intimidation.

DEXTERITY: Is the measure of agility, reflexes, and balance.  Higher dexterity improves a character's chances to hit, makes the character more likely to dodge incoming blows, and contributes to the damage dealt by piercing weapons such as daggers, arrows, and bolts.  Archery and dual-weapon fighting styles require high dexterity to master, making this attribute of particular importance for the Rouge Class.

- What Dexterity Does -

Increases the attack score for melee combat by 0.50 for each point purchased.
Increases the attack score for ranged combat by 1.0 for each point purchased.
Increases defense by 1.0 for each point purchased.
Increases damage from piercing weapons.
Is a prerequisite for some weapon talents.
Contributes to physical resistance.

WILLPOWER: Represents a character's determination and mental fortitude.  With high willpower, mages can cast more spells due to the larger mana pool this stat provides.  For Warriors and Rogues, willpower gives a larger stamina pool for combat techniques, and for special attacks.

- What Willpower Does -

Increases Mana or Stamina by 5.0 for each point purchased.
Contributes to mental resistance.

MAGIC: Is the measure for a character's natural affinity for the arcane arts.  This is a crucial attribute for mages, as it directly increases their spell power score, and as a result of that, the potency of all of their spells.  In addition to the above, the Magic score also has a significant impact upon the effectiveness of potions, poultices, and salves for all classes of character.

- What Magic Does -

Increases Spell Power by 1.0 for each point purchased.
Increases the effectiveness of potions, poultices, and salves.
Is a prerequisite for higher-level spells.
Is a prerequisite for higher-tier staves.
Contributes to mental resistance.

CUNNING: Determines how effectively a character learns and reasons.  Most skills like Herbalism and Combat Tactics require a quick mind (and high Cunning) to master them.  This stat also helps your character to find weaknesses in enemy armor and in attack and defense tactics.  Rogue's in particular benefit from this stat, as many of their class talents and special attacks rely upon it.

- What Cunning Does -

Increases the effectiveness of Rogue Talents.
Is a prerequisite for many skills.
Contributes to armor penetration, persuasion, and mental resistance.

CONSTITUTION: Represents health and resilience.  A higher constitution stat directly increases the amount of damage a character can receive before falling on the battlefield.

- What Constitution Does -

Increases health by 5.0 for each point purchased.
Contributes to physical resistance,


You are provided with a point to spend on a skill here.

Coercion (Passive)
With this skill your character becomes influential and is able to convince others to change their views or decisions. Depending upon whether you have a higher strength or cunning stat, you will be better at either intimidating or persuading respectively.

There are three upgrades to this skill - Improved Coercion, Expert Coercion, and Master Coercion.

Stealing (Activated)
This stat permits you to steal small items from others - whether enemy or friend - as long as you do not alert them to what you are doing.

There are three upgrades to this skill - Improved Stealing, Expert Stealing, and Master Stealing.

Trap-Making (Activated)
With this skill you can construct traps and lures from basic components.

There are three upgrades to this skill - Improved Trap-Making, Expert Trap-Making, and Master Trap-Making.

Survival (Passive)
This skill gives you improved situational awareness and the ability to detect lower level creatures nearby you, as well as a small increase to nature resistance.

There are three upgrades to this skill - Improved Survival, Expert Survival, and Master Survival.

Herbalism (Activated)
This skill permits you to create potions, poultices, and salves from herbs.

There are three upgrades to this skill - Improved Herbalism, Expert Herbalism, and Master Herbalism.

Poison-Making (Activated)
This skill permits you to make poisons and grenades.

There are three upgrades to this skill - Improved Poison-Making, Expert Poison-Making, and Master Poison-Making.

Combat Training (Passive)
This skill permits Warriors and Rogues to access higher tier weapon skills, and allows Mages to take more damage without their spells being interrupted.

There are three upgrades to this skill - Improved Combat Training, Expert Combat Training, and Master Combat Training.

Combat Tactics (Passive)
This skill adds a combat tactics slot and helps you to formulate battle strategy in combat.

There are three upgrades to this skill - Improved Combat Tactics, Expert Combat Tactics, and Master Combat Tactics.

Next you can choose specialization skills that are based upon your class. 

These skills are broken out by type, and by line - in a given line there may be four skills you can select, but in order to select the 4th skill in that line you must have already selected the first three skills.  Some of the skills will already be selected for you as part of the basic skills set of the class you are playing.

There are three types of skills - Passive, Sustained, and Activated.

Passive skills are just what they sound like - skills that you learn like muscle memory that you perform without the need to do anything special or make them happen.

Sustained skills use your stamina to maintain them, and you must turn them on in the trigger menus.  When they are active, their icon in the trigger menus will have glowing stars on it.  For this sort of skill there is an upkeep drain, and they add to your fatigue level as you use them.  If you turn them off, there is a brief cooldown period before you can reactivate the skill.

Activated skills are just what they sound like - you select them from the trigger menu, and they effect whatever you have currently targeted.  There is an activation cost to your stamina, and each has a more lengthy cooldown period before it can be used again. 

Some of the skills in each line will not be available to you even if it is the next selection in that line, because of specific requirements you may not meet at the present moment in stats - like Strength or Dexterity, or your current level is too low.  Some of the skills have multiple requirements like Strength and Level.  It is best to review these - especially the ones you are likely to want as the game progresses - to give yourself an idea on how you should be spending your upgrade points later.

For example, if you are playing Warrior and you know you are going to want the Death Blow skill (the 4th selection in Warrior, Line 1), you note that the requirements for that are Level 12, and a Strength of 25, so as you get closer to Level 12, you will want to be spending more points in Strength than you might otherwise do in dividing them between the attributes so that when you level up you can actually choose that skill.

A description of each skill is provided in the menu when you can select them - and it would be a good idea to read these descriptions and become familiar with what each skill does, so that you can plan out how you will build your character as you level.

 - Line 1
Powerful (Passive)
Threaten (Sustained)
Bravery (Passive)
Death Blow (Passive)

 - Line 2
Precise Striking (Sustained)
Taunt (Activated)
Disengage (Activated)
Perfect Striking (Activated)

 - Line 1
Dual-Weapon Training (Passive)
Dual-Weapon Finesse (Passive)
Dual-Weapon Expert (Passive)
Dual-Weapon Mastery (Passive)

 - Line 2
Dual Striking (Sustained)
Riposte (Activated)
Cripple (Activated)
Punisher (Activated)

 - Line 3
Dual-Weapon Sweep (Activated)
Flurry (Activated)
Momentum (Sustained)
Whirlwind (Activated)

 - Line 1
Melee Archer (Passive)
Aim (Sustained)
Defensive Fire (Sustained)
Master Archer (Passive)

 - Line 2
Pinning Shot (Activated)
Crippling Shot (Activated)
Critical Shot (Activated)
Arrow of Slaying (Activated)

 - Line 3
Rapid Shot (Sustained)
Shattering Shot (Sustained)
Supressing Fire (Sustained)
Scattershot (Activated)

Weapon and Shield
 - Line 1
Shield Bash (Activated)
Shield Pummel (Activated)
Overpower (Activated)
Assault (Activated)

 - Line 2
Shield Defense (Sustained)
Shield Balance (Passive)
Shield Wall (Sustained)
Shield Expertise (Passive)

 - Line 3
Shield Block (Passive)
Shield Cover (Sustained)
Shield Tactics (Passive)
Shield Mastery (Passive)

 - Line 1
Pommel Strike (Activated)
Indomitable (Sustained)
Stunning Blows (Passive)
Critical Strike (Activated)

 - Line 2
Sunder Arms (Activated)
Shattering Blows (Passive)
Sunder Armor (Activated)
Destroyer (Passive)

 - Line 3
Mighty Blow (Activated)
Powerful Swings (Sustained)
Two-handed Strength (Passive)
Two-handed Sweep (Activated)

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Comments for Character Generation

4 comments, latest first.
Nov 3rd 2015 Guest
I'm gonna call you on the rogues soaking up damage thing. For the Dragon Age games the rogue class deals a lot of damage, and is the only class capable of in-fight movement. Primarily because warrior and mage classes are better at taking damage. This is likely to make up for archery being one of the strongest classes, and mages not having melee weapons 3/4 of the time. As such, even with armor, damage soaking goes warrior, mage, rogue, in all three games. And in Origins rogues are....pretty squishy. Compared to a properly built mage who can be lifted and tossed from the maw of a high dragon, cast a spell, and start firing again. They are the worst at melee defense in origins without the AW spec. Rogues can't take much damage, but mages can't ESCAPE or up their damage until 2, and Inquisition, you just...sorta...jab at an opponent doing no extra damage and hoping you have enough mana to fry the jerk before he or she whittles your health bar to nothing.
ID #622117
Jul 16th 2014 Guest
There is its one of the specialization's
ID #419376
Mar 26th 2014 Guest
Actually, there is a Ranger sub-class of the Rogue. It is one of the many specializations you can choose starting at level 7.
ID #368443
Aug 1st 2013 Guest
No, there is no Ranger class in this game, but you get the idea.

That's where I stopped reading.
ID #301993