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Follow the dark path or use the light

Character Creation

by Haeravon

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|								       |
| 	    		     Dragon Age II			       |
|								       |
Version 1.01
Written by: Nathan Garvin
Email: Theendbringer (at) Hotmail (dot) com.
If you're going to email me about this guide, make sure you put
"DRAGON AGE 2" in the title, or I'll probably end up deleting it as 

I have no affiliation with Bioware, Electronic Arts (EA), or any other 
parties involved with this game. This is a not-for-profit fan-made 
guide. If you wish to post, mirror, or quote this guide, feel free to 
do so. Credit would make me happy, an email would make me feel good. 
Let your conscience be your guide, just like all good people.

Now, I know this is a not-for-profit FAQ, but FAQ writing is time
consuming work. If you wanted to show your appreciation for this FAQ 
and/or support for future FAQs by donating to my PayPal account, that
would be an above-and-beyond gesture. If every person who downloaded
my FAQs donated a penny.. well, it would help out immensely. Now,
without any more PBS-style solicitation..

If you liked this FAQ, don't be afraid to click at the top of the
screen to recommend this to other people. It's good for the motivation.

This FAQ was made in Notepad, and is best viewed in a simple text
editor. The default text is Lucida Console at size 10 font, but any
fixed-width font will work.. if not with the intended aesthetics intact.

Table of Contents
I. Introduction				{INT001}
	1. Continuity			{INT002}
II. Hawke				{HWK001}
	1. Hawke/NPC Comparison		{HWK002}
	2. Warrior			{HWK003}
	3. Mage				{HWK004}
	4. Rogue			{HWK005}
	5. Table of Starting Stats	{HWK006}
III. Attributes				{ABL001}
	1. Strength			{ABL002}
	2. Dexterity			{ABL003}
	3. Magic			{ABL004}
	4. Cunning			{ABL005}
	5. Willpower			{ABL006}
	6. Constitution			{ABL007}
	7. Damage			{ABL008}
	8. Attack			{ABL009}
	9. Defense			{ABL010}
	10. Armor			{ABL011}
IV. Abilities				{ABL001}
	1. Specialization Points	{ABL002}
	2. Sample Hawkes		{ABL003}
	3. Sample Hawke Warrior		{ABL004}
	4. Weapon and Shield		{ABL005}
	5. Two-Handed			{ABL006}
	6. Vanguard			{ABL007}
	7. Defender			{ABL008}
	8. Warmonger			{ABL009}
	9. Battlemaster			{ABL010}
	10. Templar			{ABL011}
	11. Reaver			{ABL012}
	12. Berserker			{ABL013}
	13. Sample Hawke Mage		{ABL014}
	14. Elemental			{ABL015}
	15. Primal			{ABL016}
	16. Spirit			{ABL017}
	17. Arcane			{ABL018}
	18. Entropy			{ABL019}
	19. Creation			{ABL020}
	20. Force Mage			{ABL021}
	21. Spirit Healer		{ABL022}
	22. Blood Mage			{ABL023}
	23. Sample Hawke Rogue		{ABL024}
	24. Dual Weapon			{ABL025}
	25. Archery			{ABL026}
	26. Sabotage			{ABL027}	
	27. Specialist			{ABL028}
	28. Scoundrel			{ABL029}
	29. Subterfuge			{ABL030}
	30. Shadow			{ABL031}
	31. Duelist			{ABL032}
	32. Assassin			{ABL033}
V. Updates/Thanks			{UPD001}

|								       |
|			 Introduction {INT001}			       |
|								       |
Here I am again, trying to push out another FAQ before we've really
had time to absorb everything there is to know about this game. Still,
that's what I do. I'll be honest, this is-like most of my FAQs-a segment
of what I hope will become a much larger work. It is, however, a stand-
alone segment. It's apparently become my style to create a Character
Creation guide for a game before branching out into a full FAQ/
Walkthrough. This is mostly to get something out there, generate some
feedback, and better polish the most important part of any RPG-creating
your unique avatar. I'm hoping this will be like my Fallout: New Vegas
guide, where plenty of people let me know what they liked, what they
dislike, and what is just plain wrong. Corrections will be made, and
three versions later we'll have a pretty good guide on our hands.
Hopefully. This is a near-release launch, and you all have the right to
be skeptical, many FAQs that come out this early are either uselessly
incomplete or inaccurate (much like release-date reviews of games tend
to be.) Therefore I'm not claiming perfection, but I have done all
anybody can hope to do at this point: I've dedicated my spring break to
playing this as well as watching my fiance play. After a week of playing 
and seventeen hours of furious writing based off of several imperfect
builds, various notes written down over the course of gameplay, and
brute ability comparisons, this is what I've got. With any luck it's
mostly accurate and somewhat helpful, although it's certainly not as
in-depth as I would like it to be. At the very least I hope it gives
people who are new to this game somewhere to start. Oh, and for the 
record, the Xbox 360 version of this game does not frame skip for me,
Gametrailers. Get a new Xbox. The PC version is still far superior,

Continuity							{INT001}
If you've played Dragon Age: Origins, you can import your own history
from the first game into the second. Since my character was the queen of
Fereldon I found this immensely more satisfying than picking one of the
pre-made endings. Martyrdom is for sissies. It also gets you progress
towards the 'Epic' Achievement.

|								       |
|			      Hawke {HWK001}			       |
|			   (Character Creation)			       |
In Dragon Age II you'll play Hawke, which is a surname by which you'll
be named (like Shepard in Mass Effect.) Fortunately Bioware got their
senses for this game and gave your character a speaking role. You'll
actually get to interact with folks instead of lamely pantomiming and
performing canned expressions. This is also the character creation part
of the FAQ, which is vastly simplified over most RPGs. As that is the
case, this section will largely cover the classes Hawke can pick, which
are the only real gameplay-relevent choices you get to make before 
starting the game.

Hawke/NPC Comparison						{HWK002}
There are-like in all RPGs-several things that seperate Hawke from the
rest of his or her companions. First, Hawke can specialize in either 
one of the combat forms unique to the classes (Weapon and Shield or
Two-Weapon, Archery or Dual Weapon, for example.) This is a moot point,
as it's only worth progressing down one tree or the other. Hawke is
also the only character who can Specialize (Hawke can spend 
Specialization Points at 7th and 14th level to gain access to a new
Ability Tree, whereas your NPCs have access to one unique Ability Tree
each.) Lastly, and most importantly, only Hawke can equip new armor,
the rest of your party has standard outfits which increase as they
level. You can buy/find special upgrade for them as well, but generally
their armor is going to be inferior to Hawkes. After all, you can
equip a Helmet, Gloves, Boots, and Armor, and they only have one
outfit. This seems to be a growing trend in Bioware RPGs, as Mass
Effect and Dragon Age: Origins both allowed you to equip armor on your
NPCs, but the sequels both gave your NPCs static attire. Perhaps they
got sick of people looking at Morrigan's boobs? In any event, you can
expect Hawke to be a more resilient version of whatever class he is,
which is moderately useful in the case of Mages, but very important
for a Hawke-Warrior or Dual Weapon Rogue.

Warrior							{HWK003}
Warriors are the masters of melee combat. Some heft an enormous two-
handed weapon that strikes several foes at once. Others pair a one-
handed weapon with a shield that doubles as a bludgeon.

Warriors are either your primier defensive characters (Weapon and 
Shield) or excellent damage-dealers (Two-Handed). Either way, they both
excel at one thing: Crowd Control. Whether it's by luring them to you
and resisting their attacks, or by simply destroying them. All Warriors
are good at drawing aggro due to their armor, although in addition to
this a Weapon and Shield Warrior should get Taunt, and a Two-Handed
Warrior should.. well, just use their abilities. A Warrior should focus
exclusively on Strength and Constitution, as these will increase their
damage output and health, respectively. They're also required to equip
most armor and weapons, which really makes attribute allocation in
Dragon Age 2 a no-brainer. I'm perfectly fine with using Avaline as a
aggro drawing support character. For my Hawked I'd much rather pick
the Two-Handed approach, which is much more hands-on.

Mage								{HWK004}
Mages command arcane spells and hurl bolts of magic from their staves.
Despite their immense power, mages are vulnerable when their allies fall
or whenever enemy troops attack them directly.

Like with everything else, Hawke makes the best mage in the game.
Arguably, at least, and this is because of their specializations. At the
very least Hawke is the best healer in the game as you'll possess the
Spirit Healer Ability Tree, which makes Anders' Vengeance Tree look like
a cheap door prize. And of course Hawke has all the normal Mage trees,
which means at the least you'll have more options than any other Mages
in the game. Lets not lie here, you need a mage to heal, and at that
Hawke excels. Other than that, pick another tree or two that has some
great combo/crowd control options. If you have NPCs that can hurt 
BRITTLE enemies, there's not much better than the Elemental Tree, and
if you have allies that can STAGGER enemies, look no further than
Chain Lightning in the Primal Tree.

Rogue								{HWK005}
Rogues can wield a dagger in each hand or rain arrows from a distance.
They are particularly adept at tearing down individual opponents and are
the only class that can pick locks or disarm traps.

Rogues are the only class who can disarm traps and pick locks, and like
the game says, it's almost a necessity to drag one along for this
reason. But unlike in most games they're also useful in combat. Wonder
of wonders, eh? I guess all the whining about the nerfed dual-daggers
in the first game really lit a fire under Bioware's ass. Because of this
the Dual Weapon Rogue has-by far-the highest DPS in the entire game.
That's right, even more than a Two-Handed Warrior. They are, however,
much less hardy and typically can only strike one foe at once. Frankly,
I don't see much point in the Archery Rogue, not when the Dual Weapon
Rogue has such astronomical DPS. That's not to say some of the Archery
abilities aren't great-they are-but it seems more like an excuse to
create a shoot-and-forget support character that rarely needs to be
controlled. Varric works just as well in that role, why make that your 
Hawke when you back be a backstabbing DPS fiend?

Table of Starting Stats						{HWK006}
|     (ATTRIBUTES)	|    Warrior	|      Mage     |     Rogue    |
|Strength		|      13	|      10	|     10       |
|Dexterity		|      10	|      10	|     13       |
|Magic			|      10	|      13       |     10       |
|Cunning		|      10	|      11	|     12       |
|Willpower	 	|      11	|      12	|     11       |
|Constitution		|      12	|      10	|     10       |
|    (DERIVED STATS)    |    Warrior	|      Mage     |     Rogue    |
|Fortitude		|       3	|       0       |      0       |
|Critical Chance	|       0%	|       0%      |      3%      |
|Magic Resistance	|       0%	|       3%      |      0%      |
|Critical Damage	|      50% 	|      51%      |     52%      |
|Stamina		|      105	|      160      |     130      |
|Health			|      160	|      100      |     125      | 

|								       |
|		            Attributes {ATT001}			       |
|								       |
Attributes determine your derived statistics, which include such useful
things like your damage, attack, defense, critical chance and damage,
health, and stamina/magic. Typically a fairly complex system in most
games, Dragon Age II has dumbed it down considerably. When all else
fails, follow what your gear tells you-armor and shields for Warriors
requires Strength and Constitution, weapons require Strength. For 
Rogues armor requires Dexterity and Cunning, and weapons require 
Dexterity. For Mages, armor requires Magic and Cunning, and staffs
require Magic. That's right, to simply each class requires two
attributes in equal measure, as shown below:

Warrior:	Strength, Constitution
Mage:		Magic, Willpower
Rogue:		Dexterity, Cunning

Strength							{ATT002}
Strength increases damage and attack values for warriors. For all
classes, it increases fortitude, which measures resistance to effects
like being knocked back or set aflame.
|   Strength	|   Fortitude	|     Damage 	|     Attack	|
|		|		|   (Warriors)	|   (Warriors)	|
|      10	|       0	|      n/a	|      n/a	|
|      13	|       3	|       4 	|      66	|
|      16	|       6	|       6	|      77	|
|      19	|       9       |       7	|      90	|
|      22	|      12	|       9	|      106      |
|      25	|      15	|      10	|      125	|
|      28	|      18	|      12	|      147	|
|      31	|      21	|      13	|      174	|
|      34	|      24	|      15	|      206	|
|      37	|      27	|      16	|      244	|
|      40	|      30 	|      18	|      289	|

Dexterity							{ATT003}
Dexterity increases damage and attack values for rogues. For all
classes, it increases the likelihood of landing a critical hit.

|   Dexterity	|   Critical	|    Damage 	|    Attack	|
|		|    Chance	|   (Rogues)	|   (Rogues)	|
|      10	|       0	|      n/a	|      n/a	|
|      13	|       3	|       7 	|      66	|
|      16	|       6	|       9	|      77	|
|      19	|       9       |      10 	|      90	|
|      22	|      12	|      12	|      106      |
|      25	|      15	|      13	|      125	|
|      28	|      18	|      15	|      147	|
|      31	|      21	|      16	|      174	|
|      34	|      24	|      18	|      206	|	
|      37	|      27	|      19	|      244	|
|      40	|      30 	|      21	|      289	|

Magic								{ATT004}
Magic increases damage and attack values for mages. For all classes, it
increases magic resistance, which absorbs a proportion of damage from
magical attacks and affects the duration of hostile magical effects.

|     Magic	|     Magic	|    Damage 	|    Attack	|
|		|   Resistance	|   (Mages)	|   (Mages)	|
|      10	|       0	|      n/a	|      n/a	|
|      13	|       3	|       5 	|      66	|
|      16	|       6	|       7	|      77	|
|      19	|       9       |       8	|      90	|
|      22	|      12	|      10 	|      106      |
|      25	|      15	|      11 	|      125	|
|      28	|      18	|      13	|      147	|
|      31	|      21	|      14	|      174	|
|      34	|      24       |      16       |      206      |
|      37	|      27	|      17	|      244	|
|      40	|      30 	|      19	|      289	|

Cunning								{ATT005}
Cunning increases defense for all classes as well as the amount of
damage inflicted by a critical hit. Cunning also determines rogues'
aptitude for picking locks and disarming traps, with difficulty
thresholds every 10 points.

|    Cunning	|   Critical	|    Defense	|Trap Disarming/|
|		|    Damage	|   		| Lock Picking	|
|      10	|      50%	|        0	|    Simple	|
|      11	|      51%	|       60	|    Simple	|
|      13	|      53%	|       68     	|    Simple	|
|      16	|      56%	|       83	|    Simple	|
|      19	|      59%	|      102	|    Simple	|
|      20	|      60%	|      109	|   Standard	|
|      22	|      62%	|      125	|   Standard	|
|      25	|      65%	|      xxx	|   Standard	|
|      28	|      68%	|      xxx	|   Standard	|
|      30	|      70%	|      xxx	|    Complex	|
|      31	|      71%	|      xxx	|    Complex	|
|      34	|      74%	|      xxx	|    Complex	|
|      37	|      77%	|      xxx	|    Complex	|
|      40	|      80%	|      xxx	|    		|

Willpower							{ATT006}
Willpower increases the size of the mana pool for mages or the stamina
pool for warriors and rogues.

|   Willpower   |    Stamina    |     Mana	|    Stamina	|
|		|   (Warrior)	|    (Mage)	|    (Rogue)	|
|      11	|      105	|      N/A	|      130	|
|      12	|      110	|      160	|      135      |
|      13	|      115	|      165	|      140	|
|      16	|      130	|      180	|      165	|
|      19	|      145	|      195	|      180	|
|      22	|      160	|      210	|      195	|
|      25	|      175	|      225	|      210	|
|      28       |      190	|      240	|      225      |
|      31       |      205	|      220	|      240	|
|      34       |      220	|      235	|      255	|
|      37       |      235	|      250	|      270	|
|      40       |      250	|      265	|      285	|

Constitution							{ATT007}
Constitution increases maximum health for all classes.

| Constitution  |    Health     |    Health	|    Health	|
|		|   (Warrior)	|    (Mage)	|    (Rogue)	|
|      10	|      N/A	|      100	|      125	|
|      11	|      160	|      105	|      130	|
|      12	|      175	|      110	|      135	|
|      13	|      190	|      115	|      140	|
|      16	|      205	|      130	|      155	|
|      19	|      220	|      145	|      170	|
|      22	|      235	|      160	|      185	|
|      25	|      250	|      175	|      200	|
|      28	|      265	|      190   	|      215	|
|      31	|      280	|      205  	|      230	|
|      34	|      295	|      220  	|      245	|
|      37	|      310	|      235	|      260	|
|      40	|      325	|      250	|      275	|

Damage								{ATT008}
Damage determines the effect of an attack from the equipped weapon 
against an unarmored opponent. 

Depending on your class, your Strength, Dexterity, or Magic scores 
affects your damage output (improving your damage by one point per two 
points of said attribute increase). Also note that the very description 
of damage tells you that this value is against an unarmored opponent. 
Since every opponent has some armor, you'll invariably be doing less 
damage than indicated.

Attack								{ATT009}
Attack determines the likelihood taht a normal strike from a weapon or
staff will succeed in hitting an enemy.

The higher your attack, the more likely you'll hit. Rogues tend to have
uncannily high Attack values, but if you keep up with your Strength,
Dexterity, or Magic, you shouldn't fall below 70%. Ultimately weapons
and accessories will provide a good bit of your attack, as well as some
some abilities (Control, Heroic Aura, to name a few.) Since your
abilities and spells cannot miss, for the most part, as long as you're
being an ability-abuser you'll do just fine. Note that Attack degrades
in efficacy against higher ranked enemies, as shown below:
		Attack = X% vs. normal enemy
		Attack = X%-15% vs. enemy lieutenant
		Attack = X%-30% vs. enemy boss

Defense								{ATT010}
Defense determines the likelihood of evading an enemy attack.

Defense looks good on paper, but it's a largely useless stat for every
class but the Rogue. It only comes from items and Cunning, and the only
class to put points into Cunning is the Rogue. Also, since it's true
value (Defense %) scales as you level, what might start out as 12% with
a Defense score of 60 at level 2 end up 5% by level 12. On the other
hand, if you have Cunning, a 200 Defense score equates to roughly a
40% at level 12. Unfortunately Defense get hit the hardest by ranked
enemies, so against bosses it's largely ineffective, even for Rogues.

		Defense = X% vs. normal enemy
		Defense = X%-20% vs. enemy lieutenant
		Defense = X%-40% vs. enemy boss

Armor								{ATT011}
Armor determines how much damage the character can disregard from a
physical attack.

So it works like Defense, then? Instead of showing your odds of reducing
damage, however, your Armor shows how much damage you resist. Everybody
has at least some Armor worth considering, but Warriors tend to surpass
Rogues, and Rogue tend to surpass Mages.. and that's just with brute
equipment. A moderately well-equipped Two-Handed Warrior should be
around 50%, and thankfully Armor holds up against ranked enemies better
than any other statistic.

		Armor = X% vs. normal enemy
		Armor = X%-10% vs. enemy lieutenant
		Armor = X%-20% vs. enemy boss

|								       |
|		             Abilities {ABL001}			       |
|								       |
Abilities are where you define how your character fights. All Warriors
are-if they're any good at what they do-strong and high Health. Whether
you become a crowd-controlling damage-dealer or an aggro-drawing
defender is determined by your Abilities. 

All NPCs have five Ability Trees and one unique NPC Ability Tree, the 
latter of which typically requires them to be a mid-level character 
before they can progress down the tree. Hawke, on the other hand, has 
six Ability Trees, although one of them is generally useless as Hawke 
will need to specialize in one or the other. For example a Warrior-Hawke
has both the Weapon and Shield and Two-Handed Ability Trees. You can
work on them both, but since you need to be using a two-handed weapon
to use Two-Handed Abilities and you need a weapon and a shield to 
perform Weapon and Shield Abilities, they don't benefit each other. Pick
one and stick to it. NPCs have already picked one such Ability Tree and
automatically excluded the other. For example Aveline only has Weapon
and Shield, and Fenris only has Two-Handed. Characters gain one Ability 
Point per level, although there are Tomes that can be purchased that 
will give you more. In addition Hawke gains Specialization Points as he 
levels, which will allow Hawke to gain access to new trees.

Specialization Points						{ABL002}
At levels seven and fourteen Hawke gains a Specialization Point to spend
on one of three Specialization Ability Trees. Once picked, Hawke gains a
passive bonus for picking up that tree, and he can progress through it
as normal. You do not need to learn Specializations to pick them, like
in Dragon Age: Origins.

Sample Hawkes							{ABL003}
Below I'll include a sample Hawke from each class which is close-if
not identical-to the Hawke of that class that I created.. or that I 
would have created, if I had known better. Anyways, at this point in
time I'm far from ready to say that these are 'ideal' builds. I'm sure
with more testing, playing, and input I'll find better builds, but this
is the limit of my knowledge thus far, for better or worse. Each build
is set up with twenty-two Ability Points. Why such an arbitrary number?
The 'soft' experience cap of the game is about level twenty-five, if you
don't miss any side-quests. With items like 'Tomes of Technique' you
should be able to make up for what you might have missed in experience,
and potentially get even more Ability Points. Being conservative,
however, it seems reasonable to provide a rough build up to level 
twenty-two so even the less fanatical gamers can bother with the builds.

Sample Hawke Warrior						{ABL004}
I prefer the Two-Handed build for Hawke, so this is what I'll show as an
example. He'll pretty much stick to the Two-Handed tree, with a few
points into Vanguard and Battlemaster. For his Specialization he picks
Reaver, for the sole purpose of adding some damage to his attacks as he
inevitably loses Health. He's all about getting into fights, using
Cleave and following with as many of his Two-Handed abilities as
possible. Then he performs basic attacks, waits for his cooldowns to
expire and uses Second Wind if necessary.

Two-Handed (7)
(1) Mighty Blow
(2) Giant's Reach
(3) Sunder
(4) Scythe
(5) Whirlwind
(6) Shattering Blow
(7) Tornado

Vanguard (6)
(1) Control
(2) Might
(3) Cleave
(4) Command
(5) Claymore
(6) Destroyer

Battlemaster (3)
(1) Bolster
(2) Second Wind
(3) Last Push

Reaver (5)
(1) Blood Frenzy
(2) Sacrifical Frenzy 
(3) Devour
(4) Sustained Frenzy
(5) Fervor

Berserker (1)
(1) Berserk

Weapon and Shield (Aveline, Hawke)				{ABL005}
Warriors who specialize in the shield trade damage for protection.
Attacks made with one-handed weapons hit a smaller arc than two-handed
weapons, although shield users have the perfect tool at hand for
knocking foes around the battlefield.

This Ability Tree is for conservative, or defensive, Warriors. They'll
draw a lot of aggro, and they have the ability to endure more damage
than any other class. They have some interesting offensive abilities,
but they're mostly there for defense. The Defender Ability Tree is an
obvious addition to the Weapon and Shield Warriors, as it grants them
most of the great defensive abilities they'll want, such as Stonewall,
Turn the Blade, and especially Environmental Aegis. Warmonger ensures
they can draw and hold aggro better, even without using powerful 
attacks, and the Templar Specialization, if pursued, will make them
quite resistant to magic. Shield Wall is the indispensible defensive
skill in this tree, as it gives you 25% damage resistance and a brute
20% chance to turn hits into glancing blows.. the same thing that
the Defense statistic does. Who cares if you lose damage? A Weapon and
Shield character isn't really designed to be a damage-dealer anyhow.
Again, there are plenty of abilities that can do damage in the Weapon
and Shield tree, but I am fine with a Warrior who uses almost all of
their Stamina to maintain defensive/buffing modes, punctuated by the
occassional Taunt. With Resolute in the Defensive Tree and Annulment in 
the Templar Tree you'll have a character with a base 60% magic 
resistance. Elemental Aegis and Rally will produce a character who can-
temporarily-give the entire party 60% elemental resistance. That is a 
good thing.

Two-Handed (Fenris, Hawke)					{ABL006}
Warriors who wield two-handed weapons can reap tremendous damage through
wide arcs of enemy flesh, although they forgo the protective benfits of
a shield.

If you want to deal considerable damage to multiple foes at once, this
is the tree to pick. Although the Dual Weapon Rogue deals more brute 
damage to one foe, the Two-Handed Warrior is better protected by both
Health and Armor, and is one of the best crowd control classes in the
game. Because of your flashy attacks and heavy armor, you'll draw a lot
of aggro, but since you're a Warrior you should be able to withstand it,
most of the time. Combine this tree with Vanguard for the Cleave
ability and you can cheaply double your offensive power. Add on the
Battlemaster Ability Tree for Second Wind to ensure that you always have
some Stamina for prolonged assaults and the Berserker Specialization
becomes an appealing choice. There are no real dud abilities in this
tree, although it might be a better idea to learn the Activated 
Abilities (Mighty Blow, Scythe, and Whirlwind), then pass on to the
Vanguard and Battlemaster Trees to get Cleave and Second Wind.. which
will double their effectivness and make them usable more often. 

Vanguard (Aveline, Fenris, Hawke)				{ABL007}
A vanguard believes that a good offense is the best defense. Their
powerful strikes are matched with ruthless technique.

One word: Cleave. This is, in my opinion, by far the best Ability in
this tree. After upgrading it you can use it every twenty seconds, for
fifteen seconds, meaning you'll get a 100% damage boost three-quarters
of the time for only twenty Stamina. Yes please. Pop Cleave on and use
all your devastating Two-Weapon techniques and you can easily destroy
most normal foes. With Second Wind you can regain any Stamina you 
expended (provided you didn't regain it all in your killing spree) and
do it once your cooldown time is up. Very nice. The other abilities
in the tree don't really compare, although it might seem tempting to
get Control and Might and then get the Rally ability from the 
Battlemaster tree, I haven't found the expenditure of three extra
Ability Points worth the small gains to attack and damage. With an
upgraded Control, however, it might be worth your while to get
Destroyer. Frankly the 90% damage resistance on all hits is good 
enough (it's really as good as having Might active), but the extra 
10% critical chance from Control can bring your critical chance up to
20% (if combined with Sunder) and make the 50% damage resistance to
critical hits that Destroyer gives a worthwhile perk. If you bother to
get Assail you'll get yourself another 10% bonus to damage, which,
mixed with Destroyer and Cleave can really become brutal. However, 
having Control active, and using Assail, Cleave, and then popping off
Scythe, Whirlwind, and Mighty Blow will take a fairly high-stamina
build.. which is fine if you also grab Second Wind.

Defender (Aveline, Fenris, Hawke)				{ABL008}
Defenders Specialize in survivability, taking everything the enemy
throws at them and walking away unscathed.

Defender is a bit of a tease tree that's really only great for Weapon
and Shield characters. Okay, it's great for everybody, but Two-Handed
Warriors are likely to have more important things to spend their points
on. The Stonewall Ability (and its upgrade, Bulwark) can make you 100%
damage resistant, 100% knockback resistant, and 100% knockdown resistant
for 10 seconds every 15 seconds. That's as good of a physical defense
as anything in the game can offer you. Mix that with Shield Wall and
you've got.. well, you've got a tank. Unforunately the Weapon and Shield
character is more methodical with their attacks and probably won't see
the Stamina returns that the Two-Handed Warrior receives, so the idea
of using this constantly (like Immunity in Mass Effect) is probably
out of reach. Environmental Aegis is another indispensible defensive
ability, making you 40% (60% with the upgrade) immune to elements. The
first time you get zorched by a Mage for over half your Health, you'll
be able to determine if this is worth it or not. Best of all, you can
give it to everybody with the Rally Ability in the Battlemaster Tree.
Turn the Blade, on the other hand, sucks. Why, you ask? Defense is
great! Sure, but as a Warrior you'll have around 60 Defense (because
face it, you've got more important attributes to boost than Cunning.)
+10% to that is 66 Defense, which will raise your ability to turn a
hit into a glancing blow by a handful of percentages. Against bosses,
this is going to drop to a brute 5%. A character with over double the
60 or so most Warriors will have has a 29% chance to avoid attacks..
and still a 5% against bosses. Also, the +20 Fortitude sucks because
you can get Stonewall, which makes you immune to most of the things
that Fortitude prevents! It is, however, a prerequisite for Adamant,
which adds a nice 5% bonus to your damage resistance. Yes, I just
told you that 5% Defense was bogus, but 5% damage resistance (Armor)
is not. Why? You'll have at least a 50% damage resistance as a 
Warrior if you've got anywhere near decent gear. Against lieutenants
that'll be 40%, and against bosses you'll have 30%. That +5% will
actually do work for you, unlike the 10% (or even 15%) Defense. Oh,
and if you're going to get Bulwark, why, oh why, would you get

Warmonger (Aveline, Fenris, Hawke)				{ABL009}
The warmonger is a confident adversary, well-versed in taunting foes,
cutting through them, and sending them to the dirt in a bloody heap.
Warmongers are also experts in controlling enemy aggression, possessing
abilities that draw foes toward them and that, through stun effects,
cause enemies to forget who they were fighting.

This tree is particularly useful for a Weapon and Shield Warrior, as it
gives them the Taunt and Bravery abilities, both of which increase 
threat and thus draw aggro. Those wonderful defensive stats aren't any
good if the enemy is beating up your other characters, after all. It's
also handy in conjunction with Primal Tree users, as Pommel Strike and
Tremor both can cause STAGGER, which plays into Chain Lightning. Of
course, if you're a Two-Handed Warrior you'll want to force a Mage to
make use of their BRITTLE-causing spells instead.

Battlemaster (Aveline, Fenris, Hawke)				{ABL010}
When fighting solo, a battlemaster is an efficient killing machine. When
fighting alongside allies, the warrior becomes a seasoned leader who can
rally others to turn the tide of combat.

A rather sneaky tree, it lures you into false premises in some areas.
First, it's a great tree for a Stamina junky, as Bolster allows you to
infinitely increase your Stamina by 5%, and Second Wind fully restores
all your Stamina every 60 seconds.. which is essentially a free refill
once per battle for most normal battles. With an upgrade is also makes
your abilities cooldown faster (and when else are you going to be out
of Stamina, except after expending abilities?) and decreases its own
cooldown to 45 seconds. This is obviously a match made in heaven for
the Berserker, who deals damage based on your remaining Stamina. By
comparison the Mana/Stamina regeneration rate: +10 of Deep Reserves is
bogus in comparison. Why do you need it with the other two abilities?
That's right, you dont. Rally is good for teamwork, but the only
crucial ability it works for is Environmental Aegis. Giving everybody
60% resistance to elements can have a big impact on select fights. Of
course, you could always strap on some items that give you specific
resistances for specific fights, as most foes doesn't use multiple
elements.. On the other hand, Synergy seems nice, but notice its range. 
10 meters. You only get those bonuses when you're within 30 feet of your 
allies, and as I stated above, Defense is useless for Warriors anyways. 
You have better ways to improve your damage reduction, and better ways 
to generate threat.

Templar (Hawke)							{ABL011}
The strong arm of the Chantry, templars serve as guardians of the
Circles of Magi, hunters of apostates and maleficarum, and, rarely, as a
standing army at the command of the Divine. Through ingestion of 
carefully prepared lyrium, templars gain resistance to magic, including
the ability to interrupt spells. Though the Chantry controls the lyrium
trade, those with the right connections can acquire enough to emulate
the abilities of the vigilant warriors.

Templar must be purchased using a specialization point before any 
talents may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted
at levels 7 and 14.

Damage +10% vs. spellcasters and Fade creatures

The Templar is all about confounding Mages, and other enemies that like
using their abilities too much. And at this the Templar largely excels.
Cleanse is a wonderful offensive and defensive ability that silences 
enemies in a large area while dispeling harmful effects on allies in 
the same area. It's so good, in fact, that it's probably the only such
ability a Templar really needs. Silence seems more impressive, until you
note that it affects only one foe, even if it's for double the time. To
be fair, you'll usually only encounter a few Mages at once, and the odds
that you'll ever really hit two with one Cleanse isn't too common.
Righteous Strike sucks, as it just gives a 10% chance to silence an
enemy for four seconds with your attacks. Four seconds is nothing. But,
it's a prerequisite for Annulment, which passively gives you magic
resistance of 50%. Awesome. Holy Smite is decent, so long as you 
weren't spoiled by the damage on the Two-Handed abilities. The eight
meter range makes up for this limitation, and the chance to stun..
well, it's better than nothing.

Reaver (Hawke)							{ABL012}
A true reaver has tasted the ritually prepared blood of a dragon. It is
more than a state of mind. These fearsome warriors revel in death,
regaining energy from the suffering of their foes.

Reaver must be purchased using a specialization point before any talents 
may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted at levels 
7 and 14.

Physical Damage: +5%
Fire Damage: +5%
Cold Damage: +5%
Electricity Damage: +5%
Nature Damage: +5%
Spirit Damage: +5%

The Reaver is all about dealing more damage as they sustain more damage,
and almost without variation their abilities reflect this. In 
conjunction with a Two-Handed Warrior and Cleave the damage output can
get rather fearsome. First and foremost, the best ability the Reaver 
has (and the whole point of the class) is Blood Frenzy, which increases
your damage inversely proportional to your Health. At 50% health, you
should be dealing 150% damage. The best part? It's passive, and you
need only one ability point to get this ability. Add that to the passive
bonus of the class and you've got a healthy chunk of damage without much
of a commitment. Sacrificial Frenzy doubles the effect of Blood Frenzy,
and to speed you on your way it deals 20 damage to you, better yet, it
costs you no Stamina. Beyond that is Fervor, which is passive and will
increase your attack speed by 30% for 10 seconds every time you kill an
enemy. Again, with the power of a Two-Handed Warrior, this means you'll
attack 30% faster most of the time. Aura of Pain is another ability that
serves to decrease your health while at the same time harming enemies.
You lose 5% of your health for every pulse (every four seconds) and 
deals a paltry amount of spirit damage to enemies in a fairly short
range. Again, the main purpose of this ability seems to be to reduce
your Health. Frankly, Blood Frenzy works just fine for me. Then you
have the black sheep of the family: Devour. This ability actually heals
you, as it harms enemies. Best of all, it STAGGERs enemies, which a
Mage with Chain Lightning can abuse. The flow of a Reaver's battle
then seems to run like this: Start out with Aura of Pain and Sacrificial
Frenzy, after your health is depleted somewhat, deactivate Aura of Pain
and keep using Sacrificial Frenzy. When your heal gets dangerously low,
use Devour. Frankly, hoewver, I'm quite happy just using Sacrificial
Frenzy to boost my damage a bit (down until I'm at around 50% health)
while using my core Two-Handed attacks paired with Berserk.

Berserker (Hawke)						{ABL013}
The dwarven culture is in decline, and many dwarves have turned to the
surface, bringing their customs and battle traditions with them. Anger
is only part of being a berserker. Anyone can fly into a rage, but only
a berserker can channel that anger into brutal hits that cleave through
armor, flesh, and bone.

Berserker must be purchased using a specialization point before any 
talents may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted
at levels 7 and 14.

Mana/stamina regeneration rate: +10

This was my go-to specializtion in Dragon Age: Origins, and although it
hasn't fared as well in the sequel, its base ability-Berserk-makes it
worth a look. Berserks deals extra damage per attack equal to 10% (15%
once upgraded) of your remaining Stamina, at a cost of four Stamina per 
attack (two Stamina once upgraded.) So at its best we deal at least
15% extra damage at a cost of two Stamina each hit. Lets compare it to,
say, Cleave, which deals 100% extra damage at a cost of twenty Stamina.
Berserk gives us 7.5% damage per stamina used (mind you, using Berserk
itself costs no Stamina, only attacking while Berserk is activated),
while Cleave gives a 5% bonus per stamina used. Granted, the lower your
Stamina goes, the worse the returns are, but paired with other damage-
boosting abilities (like Blood Frenzy and Sacrificial Frenzy in the 
Reaver tree, which don't use any Stamina to boost damage) you'll 
regenerate your Stamina as quick as you expending it by mauling enemies.
Also there's Bolster and Second Wind, which become even more potent with
the Berserker specialization. Adrenaline works somewhat contrary to the
Berserk bonus, as it causes you to deal 5% (8% with the upgrade) extra 
damage every time you attack. Unforunately it costs 20 Stamina per use,
and even if you get rid of the cooldown time of 2 seconds, the animation
for it still takes time. Even with several uses, you might be able to
boost to 40% damage stacking, then pull off a few attacks.. which seems
like an awful lot of work for such a short duration and alot of 
Stamina. Barrage seems pretty useless, but the Reaver has an ability
that's passive, works every time you kill something, and doesn't
require any Stamina and doesn't incur any damage resistance penalties.
Finally, Death Blow restores some Stamina when you kill an enemy, but
5% is a downright paltry amount of Stamina considering that most enemies
restore a considerable chunk of your Stamina bar already.

Sample Hawke Mage						{ABL014}
Hawke has the Force Mage, Spirit Healer, and Blood Mage Specializations. 
Force Mage has a plethora of unique dehabiliting spells that put Entropy 
to shame, and Spirit Healer has the best healing spells in the game. I 
prefer both of those trees to Blood Mage. Elemental has the best pure-
damaging spells in the game, and with cold spells you can make enemies 
BRITTLE, which allow a Two-Handed Warrior to excel. And of course, 
Creation is added for basic healing. This creates a dual-role healer/
offensive mage with a good bit more Health and Fortitude than normal.

Elemental (8)
(1) Winter's Grasp
(2) Cone of Cold
(3) Fireball
(4) Deep Freeze
(5) Searing Fireball
(6) Winter's Blast
(7) Firestorm
(8) Elemental Mastery

Creation (4)
(1) Heal
(2) Greater Heal
(3) Heroic Aura
(4) Valiant Aura

Force Mage (4)
(1) Telekinetic Burst
(2) Fist of the Maker
(3) Unshakable
(4) Gravitic Ring

Spirit Healer (6)
(1) Healing Aura
(2) Revival
(3) Group Heal
(4) Unity
(5) Refusal
(6) Vitality
Elemental (Anders, Merill, Hawke)				{ABL015}
The Elemental Tree is a collection of everybodies favorite mainstays of
fantasy magic. We have Fireball, and Cone of Cold, and.. other icy-firey
stuff.. Anyways, this tree splits between two Fire Spells and two Cold
spells, the latter are a good way to inflict BRITTLE on enemies, as well
as slow them down considerably. What's not to like? The fire spells
deal less damage, but have much greater range. It's the most basic, and
probably the most effective brute damage tree the Mage has, and if you
are interested in some of the abilities, you might as well just get them

Primal (Anders, Merrill, Hawke)					{ABL016}
Another basic tree, this contains earth and lightning (or sky) magic.
Chain Lighting has a rather restrictive range, but its damage is good,
and it really does bad things to STAGGERED targets. Tempest is a
lightning version of Firestorm that deals half the damage over twice
the time? Still not sold? Me either. You also have Rock Armor, which
boosts your Armor by 25%, which, for 10% of your Mana, isn't a bad
deal, really. Especially if you're Hawke, and therefore liable to get a
decent Armor score. On the earth side we have Stonefist, which deals
good damage, and if upgraded has outstanding physical force.. but
really, I'd rather have the speed impediment and BRITTLE chance of
Winter's Grasp. Then there's Petrify, which seems pretty good once 
upgraded. 100% chance to turn any normal foe BRITTLE, albeit at a +20%
damage resistance bonus, for 15 seconds? But then there's the word
'normal', and you just have to wonder how infrequently this will work
on bosses-when you need it. I'd just as well use Cone of Cold, myself.
I really don't see any good reason to pick this tree over the Elemental
Tree-just grab Rock Armor and be happy.

Spirit (Anders, Merrill, Hawke)					{ABL017}
Ah, another tree I'm not too fond of. You have the indispensible Dispel
Magic, which is always handy.. even at a pathetic five meter area.
Spirit Bolt deals moderate damage, but, as the game itself points out,
can be used quite often. Walking Bomb functions like Corpse Explosion
from Diablo II (anybody else still remember that game?), but its radius
just isn't quite good enough to make it a must-have ability. If you're
particularly good at micro-management you can put this ability to
fairly good effect, but I'd opt for the guaranteed damage of a Fireball
any day. Death Siphon is a real nutter, it's a mode you activate-
sacrificing 20% of your maximum mana-to gain 5% mana for every corpse
within 10 meters. This ability will-in most fights-probably not even
cover the amount of Mana it wastes to activate! If you're not sold by
the rest of these spells, you won't be sold by Spirit Mastery, which
hardly even affects the most useful spell in the tree, Dispel Magic.

Arcane (Anders, Merrill, Hawke)					{ABL018}
Eww.. well, lets just get this over with. Elemental Weapons will enchant
the weapons of your entire party, making them deal elemental damage (of
an element determined by the staff you have equipped) equal to about 10%
of their weapons' base damage. This means, for 10% of your mana you give
everybody a damage bonus of a handful of points. Sounds good, but for
most early-to-mid level weapons, it'll only add a handful of points.
Granted, if you're a Dual Weapon Rogue this is great, as your weapons
have high base damage, and you make lots of attacks with them. If you're
a Warrior, your weapons have absurdly poor damage, and most of your
damage comes from Abilities, making the effects of this negligible.
Then there's Arcane Shield, which can boost your (and eventually your
parties') Defense by 20%. Again, great if you're a Rogue as you actually
have a Defense score, not so great for everyone else. The elemental
resistance is nice, but you need to decie if it's worth two Ability
Points and 20% of your mana. Most Mages have Mind Blast by default
(apparently it's their Miasmic Flask), and it does what it's supposed
to do-stun enemies and give you a chance to escape their attentions.
It really only works well if it's upgraded, however, and since you are
the center of the effect, you need to be in the thick of combat to use
it offensively. It's low mana cost and cooldown time make it very
spamable, however, and capable of keeping lesser enemies off guard.
Barrier would be nice-100% damage resistance is fantastic-but with a 
six second duration and a 45 second cooldown you're better off just
letting your Warriors use Stonewall. Then there's Crushing Prison, which
was so fun in the last game.. in this game, however, it only has a 40%
chance to even slow down normal enemies, and it deals its considerable
damage-again, to one enemy-over ten seconds. There is no way in which
Horror does not exceed this.

Entropy (Merrill, Hawke)					{ABL019}
The Entropy Tree is a bit of a mixed bag. First the Hex of Torment spell
only affects one creature, but when you give a strong enemy a 25% 
damage reduction penalty and your allies a 100% critical hit chance
against it for 15 seconds, you can really put a dent in any enemy, and
at 20 mana it's a bargain. An upgraded Misdirection Hex takes away any
chance an enemy has to land a critical hit, and reduces their attack
and movement speed by 75%, and lasts for 10 seconds. Put on an enemy
Rogue and this can pretty much take them out of the battle. Finally for
the good abilities we have Horror, which has a flat 100% chance to work
and it stuns enemies for 10 seconds, upgraded it'll do a fairly large
amount of damage every second it's stunned. It's a far better spell
than Crushing Prison, as it does more damage, works more often, and
fully takes any enemy out of the fight for the same amount of time.
Sleep, on the other hand, suffers like Crushing Prison, as it's only
likely to work on normal enemies 50% of the time-which is pretty lame.
Especially since even when they're asleep they'll awaken after being
hit. Finally there's Entropic Cloud, which tries to do a little bit of
everything to the enemy and rarely succeeds at much. For that much
mana, why not just use Horror? Sure, Entropic Cloud has a pathetic
range, but I'd rather have a certain spell than a bunch of low-chance

Creation (Anders, Hawke)					{ABL020}
Another tree of mixed usefulness. Glyph of Paralysis can be useful if,
and only if, it's upgraded. Paralyzing two normal enemies for four
seconds is just a joke, but paralyzing four enemies for 10 seconds
actually has some weight. Glyph of Repulsion can knock smaller enemies
back for a duration of ten seconds, but there are so many better things
you can spend thirty mana on, it just seems like a waste to bother.
Heal is the basic and most useful spell in this tree, although it's
really not enough by itself. A fourty second cooldown? That's 
ridiculous. Finally there are the two buffs. Heroic Aura isn't much to
write home about until it's upgraded, but once it is it gives the
entire party +15% Attack, +8% Defense, +10% Damage, and +10% Critical
Chance, although 20% of your mana is a hefty price to pay for it.
Haste increases your attack speed by +50%, but with a ten second
duration and a sixty second cooldown you'll have to weigh whether it's
really worth it. If your Hawke is a Dual Weapon thief, it might be
worth considering, as attack speed is wonderful, but Two-Handed
Hawkes have their own ways of increaing their speed, and the other
possible party members-Weapon and Shield Warriors, Archer Rogues, and
other Mages just won't get as much out of it, since they're only
secondary damage dealers.

Force Mage (Hawke)						{ABL021}
Force mages are a fearsome sight on the battlefield, bending the laws of
nature to crush, toss, and debilitate their foes. Kirkwall's Circle 
houses a higher-than-usual percentage of mages who excel at this 
specialization, and their combined research as refined the school

Force Magemust be purchased using a specialization point before any 
talents may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted 
at levels 7 and 14.

Physical Force: 125% for all attacks and spells
Elemental Force: 125% for all attacks and spells

The Force Mage has spells that are more designed to keep enemies off
their feet than they are to damage them. On top of this, these spells
are typically fairly expensive to cast. They are also very good at
knocking enemies down and affecting large areas. Case in point is
Telekinetic Burst, which-when upgraded has a six meter area and deals
30x physical force. It's a parlor trick compared to the ability it
leads to, however. Pull of the Abyss costs the same mana and only has a
five second great cooldown, but is area is-when upgraded-a whopping
fifteen meters. It has the same physical force, and slows enemy attacks
and movement by 50%. That's better than Telekinetic Burst and 
Misdirection Hex put together! It's range makes up for its short 
duration (five seconds) and lower rate of slow (-50% versus Misdirection
Hex's -75%). Gravitic Ring is more of the same, getting up to eighteen
meters and slowing enemies based upon how close they are to the center 
of the effect. Sort of seems like a Mass Effect ability, no? Fist of
the Maker is the sole damage-dealing spell, and when it's upgraded it
covers a hefty ten meters, although it deals a fairly paltry amount of
damage, at least it does with without regard to enemy armor, and it
affects a lot of enemies. It's especially handy against STAGGERED
enemies, to whom it deal 900% normal damage. It also comes with a
cooldown reduction to make it usable every ten seconds, but at a cost
of fourty mana per use, it's not all that feasible to spam it. Lastly
you can buy the Passive Ability Unshakable, which gives you a +100
bonus to your Fortitude, making you just a little over twice as
resistant as a good Warrior will become. It's a good tree, especially
if you don't need to rely on it for your physical damage.

Spirit Healer (Hawke)						{ABL022}
Few mages are watched more closely by the templars than spirit healers.
For all the good they can do, their consorting with any denizen of the
demon-infested Fade is a matter of intense suspicion. Still, the 
benefits outweigh the risks, if only just.

Spirit Healer must be purchased using a specialization point before any 
talents may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted 
at levels 7 and 14.

Mana/stamina: +25

This tree makes Anders' Vengeance Tree look like a joke. First, you get
+25 Mana just for picking the tree, and second.. just look at that
healing! Okay, Healing Aura kind of sucks, because it's focal point is
you, and only characters within eight meters will get the benefits, but
that's fine, Force Mage had a bum ability too (but it's still better
than Ander's Panacea, which sucks twice as much.) Since we know that we
need a Mage who can heal in our party, lets just compare the two best
healing alternatives, and show how good Spirit Healer is. First we 
have Anders' Aid Allies, which heals 30% of the parties' Health,
costs 35 mana, and has a cooldown of 50 seconds. Compared to Group
Heal of the Spirit Healer, which heals up to 50% of the parties' 
Health, costs 30 mana, and has a cooldown of 40 seconds. Next up it's
Anders' Regroup, which revives a fallen companion and restores 30%
of their Health and 40% of their stamina at a cost of 45 mana, with a
cooldown of 120 seconds. Compare this to Revival, which revives a
party member with 50% of their Health, 60% of their Stamina, has a
mana cost of 40, and a cooldown time of 100 seconds. The Spirit 
Healer also has two Passive Abilities we should mention-Second Chance,
which prevents party members from suffering injuries. Of course, you
could always just use potions and Injury Kits to fix injuries, so it's
not a great ability. Then there's Vitality, which gives you a ten point
bonus to Constitution, which is fifty Health-or a 50% boost to your
base Health. As if this weren't enough, your Health Regeneration Rate
improves by +100, which makes you a fitting beacon of health. The only
downside is you'll have to spend seven Ability Points to get these 
abilities and their upgrades, where Anders only needs to spend three on

Blood Mage (Hawke)						{ABL023}
The Blood Mage is built around the idea of using Health instead of 
mana (at a rate of one Health for two mana) to cast some unique spells.
First, lets discuss Sacrifice and and Grave Robber, which only exist to
to restore your Health (and hence are only useful if you buy into the
other abilities, since you can't heal while using Blood Magic mode.)
Blood Magic itself takes a ridiculous 50% of your mana pool to use,
but with an upgrade can sustain itself by using your Health at a 3:1
ratio. With about 100 Health, and 200 Mana, Blood Magic allows you to
have a noticably higher spellcasting potential of 300 points. Now,
onto the two abilities that you'll actually use. First there's 
Hemorrhage, which can deal heavy damage in a ten meter area. None of
this damage is blocked (as the spell reduces enemy armor and damage
resistance down to 0%), and has a 50% chance to paralyze normal enemies
and deals a whopping 900% damage to STAGGERED enemies. The next ability
is the one 'mind control' spell in the game-Blood Slave. This can
outright kill lesser foes once it's ten-second duration is over, and
otherwise has a 100% chance to enslave normal enemies. Again, normal
enemies. I don't see how that's much better than the Confusion ability
the Rogue has, and it doesn't hurt you to use it. So, you've got one
good spell. Ehh.. Grave Robber requires you to be within six meters of
a corpse (or, if you upgrade it, within six meters of any enemy). At
least it doesn't require you to expend any mana. Then there's the
aforementioned Sacrifice, which takes 20% of an ally's Health and gives
it to you. If you get the upgrade you get +50% of the Health loss
(or 30% of the ally's health), and if you kill them, an improved
regeneration rate. Still, they can always heal themselves other ways,
so it's at least a guaranteed way to heal yourself without getting into
the line of fire. So lets do the count, that's one good ability, but to
ensure you can use it well you need to expend.. five or six Ability
Points? That just seems bogus to me.

Sample Hawke Rogue						{ABL024}
The Hawke provided here will be a Dual Weapon Rogue, as again, I prefer
the Dual Weapon version to the Archer. This Hawke is built around 
dealing as much damage to one enemy as quickly as possible-to achieve
this I'll rely heavily on the Dual Weapon and Assassin Trees, with a
good bit of help from the Shadow Tree to boost my Sneak attack and
critical hit damage and to avoid drawing unwanted attention.

Dual Weapon
(1) Backstab
(2) Critical Strike
(3) Explosive Strike
(4) Twin Fangs
(5) Reversed Grip

(1) Stealth
(2) Evade
(3) Ambush

(1) Mark of Death
(2) Bloodlust
(3) Pinpoint Strikes
(4) Relentless Strikes
(5) Devious Harm
(6) Assassinate
(7) Overkill

(1) Inconspicuous
(2) Pinpoint Precision
(3) Indiscernable
(4) Disorienting Criticals
(5) Decoy
(6) Shadow Veil
(7) Imperceptible

Dual Weapon (Isabela, Hawke)					{ABL025}
Dual-Weapon rogues wield an instrument of death in each hand. This
talent tree is required for characters to equip dual weapons.

Dual Weapon is my personal favorite tree. Combined with Assassin and
Shadow you can rule the battlefield. Backstab is a great ability for
any Rogue, as it can cause you to evade attacks if timed correctly and
does a fair amount of damage. Getting it the 100% critical chance perk
can be useful but isn't necessary considering that you'll naturally
improve your critical chance up to near 50% (especially with Unforgiving
Chain) and when you obtain Pinpoint Strikes you'll always critically hit
for 10-20 seconds. Now that we mentioned it, Unforgiving Chain is a nice
ability that gives you a +2% critical hit rate every time you hit, for
ten hits (up to a 20% chance). Again, with Pinpoint Strikes it's not 
essential, but you'll be hitting alot, and gaining that much critical
hit potential from a passive ability isn't bad. Most importantly, you
need it to get Explosive Strike, which gains 50% physical damage as you
complete attacks. The idea is simple, get ten hits in a combo for 20%
critical chance from Unforgiving Chain, then launch an Explosive Strike
at +500% damage. Best of all, there's Twin Fangs, which deals damage
about equal to twice of what the +500% Explosive Strike does, and always
critically hits. The last and lowliest ability in the tree is Lacerate
(and its upgrade). Too bad it's not a Passive Ability, as 10% of your
Stamina for an ability with a 10% chance to deal paltry damage just 
doesn't seem all that great to me.

Archery (Varric, Hawke)						{ABL026}
Archers specialize in picking off distant targets and suppressing enemy
ranks. This tree is required for characters to equip bows.

Varric is your default Archer (although he calls his Archery skill
Bianca), and that's a role he can govern, as far as I'm concerned. The
big disappointment with bows are their slow firing speed. With
Inconspicuous, threat isn't a big deal, and certainly not worth keeping
a character out of melee over. With all the same damage boosts, a
Dual Weapon Rogue has a much higher DPS than an Archer, although beyond
this they both fare pretty well. Pinning Shot can be just outrageous
in this game, with easily the highest damage of any Archery skill, and
when upgraded it DISORIENTs enemies, and pins them for up to 15 seconds.
Shattering Arrow is great against BRITTLE enemies, and Hail of Arrows
deals minor damage, but can hamper enemies in a huge area for a short
while. Archer's Lance deals fair damage (especially againt BRITTLE 
foes), and can outright kill lesser enemies, but getting a line of
enemies requires more than a bit lof luck, and chances are you won't
hit more than three enemies at a time under the best of circumstances.

Sabotage (Isabela, Varric, Hawke)				{ABL027}
Rogues who excel at these abilities are adept at stupefying and
undermining their foes.

Sabotage has a few interesting abilities, including one every Rogue
seems to start with-Miasmic Flask, which is good for breaking aggro and
leaving foes vulnerable.. at least, at the beginning of the game. Rush
is also interesting, if for the sheer fact that it's one of the Rogue's
few damaging ranged attacks. It doesn't do much damage, but, lets say
your mid-level, say level 12, and you do 52 Damage-with Blitz you'll do
52 damage to all enemies you hit with it, which is bound to be several.
Now lets say you have Pinpoint Strikes on, and a fairly high critical
hit rate-say, 100% (which is easily doable by this level.) You'll deal
104 damage, which isn't anything to go crazy over, but with a 16x
Physical Force you will knock nearly everything down. It's something to
consider, anyways. Fatiguing Fog will slow enemy movement and attacks,
and with upgrades it can give obscure you and make enemies DISORIENTED.
If you want to do either of the latter two things, the best way to do
it is with some additional slowdown. Finally there's Confusion. It's got
a very nice duration (20 seconds) but a horribly small area of effect
(4 meters.) Eh. All in all I'd rather invest my points into other
things than bother with the latter two abilities at all.

Specialist (Isabela, Varric, Hawke)				{ABL028}
Specialist rely on precision, power, and speed to overwhelm their 

This tree is nothing but a waste of points, and I'll tell you exactly
why. If I didn't it wouldn't be much of a FAQ, right? First, it consists
of three Sustained Modes that don't work together. To make you feel
good, however, they throw in the passive Harmony, which gives you some
perks of the other abilities while using one of them, to sucker you in.
But lets look at the abilities. Power gives you a 3% chance to stun. By
investing three Ability Points you get a 6% chance to stun, and you deal
extra damage against Stunned enemies. By comparison Miasmatic Flask
automatically stuns, and you start out with it, although there's no
extra damage involved.. but it works on a radius. Also, Lacerate in the
Dual Weapon tree has a 10% to deal extra damage. Even though it's 
slightly less damage, it takes up half the Stamina. Use an ability like
Inconspicuous and it doesn't really even matter if your enemy is stunned
or not, they won't be attacking you anyways. Next there's Precision.
This one's easy, attack is useless because any Rogue will likely have
more than they can shake a stick at. Second critical chance sucks 
because Pinpoint Strikes raises your critical hit rate to 100%. Granted
if you had Precision (+15%), a high Dexterity (which you will get, about
+30%) Throw the Gauntlet and Parry (20%), and the Duelist Specialization 
bonus (+5%) you'd have a critical hit rate of 70%, but at the expense
of quite a few more Ability Points (quite a few meaning about six more).
Also consider that two of the best Rogue attacks, Twin Fangs and 
Assassinate already have a 100% critical hit rate, which fills the gap
between Pinpoint Strike uses nicely and renders the need of such a high
base critical hit rate redundant. Lastly there's Speed. A +15% attack
speed is paltry compared to just having a Mage cast Haste, although the
10% cooldown for all talents is pretty nice.. still considering that
you'd have to spend six Ability Points to get the best benefits out of
this tree (+15% attack speed, 10% cooldown, +10% Attack, +5% critical
chance, +1% stun chance), it just doesn't seem worth that high of an
investment. Especially when you look at what those same six points will
get you in Dual Weapon, Archery, Shadow, and Assassin..

Scoundrel (Isabela, Varric, Hawke)				{ABL029}
Rogues proficient in these dastardly talents delight in exploiting their
enemies' weaknesses and controlling the flow of battle.

Man, we're almost done with these skills. If only there was an easy
Ability Tree that I could describe quickly to speed this up.. Oh, here
it is! Scoundrel sucks. Blindside is decent, but honestly most enemies
won't be engaging allies. Once you start beating on them, they'll focus
on you. And Twist the Knife is outshone by Pinpoint Strikes. Then you
have Armistice and Goad, which break aggro from other party members,
which frankly should be the job of the Weapon and Shield character in
your party. Failing that, most Mages come with Mind Blast and most
Rogues have Miasmic Flask. They can break aggro just fine. Back to Back
is just stupid, although I suppose if you were trying to make the best
of the 120% damage on Blindside it would make sense. Brand gives other
members of your party a 10% Critical Chance against an enemy, which 
might have some effect on a boss. Finally Follow-Through gives such a
paltry bonus.. ugh.. It's not like these abilities are downright awful,
but aren't there better things you could spend your points on?

Subterfuge (Isabela, Varric, Hawke)				{ABL030}
Subterfuge talents focus on trick maneuvering and deception to gain the
upper hand in battle.

The Subterfuge Tree, as its name implies, contains the Stealth Ability.
Yeah, it's a automatic way to break away from attacking enemies, but 
it's just not a fantastic ability, not on its own, and not with any of
its upgrades or subsequent abilties. There is one exception-if you get
the Shadow specialization, getting Ambush might be a good idea. First
it'll make all Backstabs automatically critical hits, and second it'll
cause you to always gain a critical hit when you attack from Stealth. 
Since you'll have a passive 3% chance to auto-Sneak, it can come in
handy. Evade is a more interesting way to break from a confrontation, 
although the best aggro-breaking ability the Rogue has is Inconspicuous 
in the Shadow Tree. Speaking of Evade, it has a chance to stun enemies 
while breaking aggro, and leads to the passive ability Subtlety, which 
reduces the threat you generate by 25%. Still doesn't match 
Inconspicuous, but then again, nothing really does. As for Chameleon's 
Breath, I don't really care too much for it, especially with such a 
small radius.

Shadow (Hawke)							{ABL031}
Shadow rogues employ misdirection and an unassuming facade to waylay
their opponents with devastating attacks. As a smuggling hub, Kirkwall
has more than a few practitioners of these techniques who will pass down
their secrets to those they deem to be sufficiently skilled. 

Shadow must be purchased using a specialization point before any talents 
may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted at levels 
7 and 14.

Stealth Chance: 3% when Hawke takes damage
Duration: 5s

Now, if you're looking for a way to break aggro and keep yourself safe,
this is the tree to look at. Better than any other method is the 
ability Inconspicuous, which, when upgraded, not only sheds 100% of your
threat, but reduces your threat generation to nil, meaning you really
shouldn't get attacked at all unless you're the only character on your
team left alive. Then there's Pinpoint Precision, which should be
married to Pinpoint Strikes. An ability that gives a 100% critical hit
rate, and an ability that increases critical damage by 25%? It's match
made in heaven. The other abilities I'm less sold on. Disorienting
Criticals is nice, but since there are only so many ways to become
obscured (one is getting Shadow Viel and Stealth, but the duration is
dreadfully short, another is with Chameleon's Breath, but it only works 
in a 5 meter area (or 8 meters, if upgraded), and the last is with
an upgraded Fatiguing Fog, but this is only a six meter range. All
options leave much to be desired. Predator gives you a permanent 100%
critical rate when you're flanking an enemy, but this seems moot with
Pinpoint Strikes. Finally there's Decoy. Frankly Inconspicuous is a
good enough way to reduce threat, and who really cares about the fire
damage if the enemy beats up your decoy? It's peanuts compared to the
damage you can do in twenty seconds with Inconspicuous.

Duelist (Hawke)							{ABL032}
Duelists specialize in calling out single opponents and eliminating
them, quickly. While the art of dueling is less popular in Kirkwall than
in the more-refined cities of Orlais, there are still plenty of trainers
who can teach rogues they deem sufficiently quick of wit. The rogue's
preferred weapon, be it blade or bow, has little consequence on this
tree. A distracted and enraged foe is an easy target at any range.

Duelist must be purchased using a specialization point before any 
talents may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted
at levels 7 and 14.

Critical Chance: +5%

The duelist is all about taking on an enemy one-on-one, while combining 
favorable buffs for you and debuffs for the chosen foe. Frankly,
however, my Rogues tend to do better when they're not the explicit 
target of an enemy. This tree is all about boosting your Attack and
Defense (by up to 60% with passive abilities and benefits from Parry and
Throw the Gauntlet). Frankly, however, Inconspicuous gives me better
odds-having the enemy go after allies and ignore me is better than
having one pay sole attention to me, along with whatever enemies might
be out there, and Assassin has better damage bonuses. The Defense
bonus is nice, but not foolproof (like Inconspicuous, and for most of 
the game my Rogue had a 90%+ chance to hit a normal enemy, which 
rendered a good bit of the Duelist Tree useless to me. Frankly I'd just
rather have Shadow and Assassin than Duelist.

Assassin (Hawke)						{ABL033}
Anyone can kill for money, but those who follow the Antivan traditions
know how to do so with style. While every assassin is different, some
favoring up close and personal kills and others striking at range, they
are all deadly predators and skilled at exploiting their foe's 
weaknesses. There are a surprisingly large number of assassins at work
in Kirkwall, although most are away on contract at any given time.

Assassin must be purchased using a specialization point before any 
talents may be taken from this tree. Specialization points are granted
at levels 7 and 14.

Critical Damage: +10%

Shadow had a few good abilities, and Duelist left me desiring more, but
Assassin is where it's at. First you get a brute 10% bonus to critical
damage for picking this tree, and you make all the critical chance
bonuses in all other trees obsolete by obtaining Pinpoint Strikes. This
makes all of your hits critical hits for 10 seconds (20 seconds 
upgraded). With a 40 second cooldown, this means half your attacks at
any given time should be critical hits. Also you can pick up Devious
Harm, which gives you another 1% critical damage per point of Cunning.
Now, most any Rogue worth anything will end up with at or near 40
Cunning. That's a 40% critical hit chance. Add this to the base 50%,
plus the 30% we expect you to get from Cunning, the bonus from 
selecting the Assassin Tree (10%) and the 25% bonus from Pinpoint 
Precision and you have a bonus to damage on critical hits of 155%.
If you have a 100% critical rate for 20 seconds.. Absolutely unreal.
And that's not even considering damage boosts from using your Archery
or Dual Weapon abilities! Then there's Mark of Death, which can be
used to further cut an enemies damage resistance by up to 50% for
20 seconds. How perfect. Lastly we have Assassinate, which automatically
critically hits (and therefore like Twin Fange should be used when 
Pinpoint Strikes isn't active, to tide you over) and deals whopping
damage to boot. Oh, and just to keep the party going you have the
passive ability Bloodlust. I poo-poo'd the Warrior's Death Blow because
they already gain Stamina-alot of it-for killing enemies, but this new-
passive-source of Stamina for the Rogue should not be ignored.

|								       |
|			Updates/Thanks {UPD001}			       |
|								       |
This is my second near-launch FAQ post, and I'm hoping this one goes as
well as my Fallout: New Vegas Character Creation FAQ went. I expect to
be wrong about some things, but hopefully I'll be corrected and 
enlightened. These are my expectations, anyways. Since there's not
really anything to update or anybody to thank yet, I'll make a list of
updates and changes I plan to make in the future:

Version 1.01 Character Creation FAQ posted (3/13/2011):

 o=o Add various NPC builds.

 o=o Add the unique NPC Ability Trees to the Abilities section.

 o=o Replay to a point where I can discover the Defense values I'm
     currently missing.*

 o=o Put in locations of various Attribute and Talent Tomes.*

 o=o Complete the Full FAQ/Walkthrough.

*(If anybody out there has knowledge of these sections, by all means
let me know. It'll save me the trouble of finding them all myself.)