The page details various suggestions on how to progress the builds of party companions.
Alistair is a very solid choice as a "tank" (the character that captures the attention of enemies and takes most of the damage) in the event that The Warden is not already playing a tanking role. Spending his early talent points on the Warrior school (threaten and taunt) and Weapon and Shield Talents will make Alistair the exclusive tank in the party. In melee Shield Tactics is crucial to avoid flanking damage while Overpower and Assault should be staple offensive talents for Alistair. Raising his dexterity and strength at a 2:1 ratio will give him a solid defense score while keeping his stuns reasonably effective. This build will take a while to come into its own, however; he won't be able to survive the attention of an entire group until around mid-game, so use Sten, Dog, or a sturdy Warden to off-tank a few foes per fight while you build him up.
Later on in the game Alistair will charge smaller enemy groups, unless you have an ambush staged. So make sure to give him a few moments so he can build up threat and make sure that the most dangerous target keeps its attention on Alistair so that target doesn't go in search of someone else in the party. Focus on the defense rather than offense for Alistair, because his role is to hold the enemies and suck up damage while the party's damage-oriented members attack the enemies. Equip Alistair with the best massive armor available. He should wear better armor than The Warden, because armor rating is a factor that keeps the enemies' attention. By wearing the heaviest armor among the party members he will make sure to draw the enemies to him. He should wield a good one-handed weapon to inflict high damage and further increase threat against his targets. In his secondary weapon slot, give Alistair a bow or crossbow for long-range combat. At higher levels, a high-quality dagger can be an optimal weapon choice for this build, dealing more damage due to his higher dexterity.
On the other hand if the main character is already a tank, then it is recommended that you explore an alternate build for Alistair. Alistair's starting dexterity is the highest of all the companion warriors, and he joins your party at a very low level, so it's possible to shift his focus to Dual Weapon Talents or Archery Talents, but keep in mind that acquisition of the better talents in these trees are very late game.
Another possibility for a player whose Warden is already a tank is to keep Alistair in a Weapon and Shield focus, but prioritize the offensive chain of talents such as Overpower and Assault rather than defensive talents like Shield Wall. Switch to 2 strength per level, 1 dexterity and use an axe for its higher strength modifier. Once Alistair has acquired Assault and Shield Mastery, he will be a veritable force of nature, and his stuns and knockdowns will rarely be resisted. With properly configured tactics, he can achieve surprising results in damage and crowd control. To effectively utilize this strategy, make sure Alistair gets Death Blow, allowing him to replenish his stamina with each kill and continue his onslaught. Adding knockdown immunity later on with Shield Wall and Shield Expertise only makes him more effective in this role - far more so (and much sooner) than if he had been relegated to Dual-Weapon or Archery talents.
For tanking it'd probably be best to take the templar and champion spec so Alistair can survive mage fights and buff himself and the party at the same time. If you do rank up his weapon and shield and warrior talents, and possibly make him a Champion, Alistair will come in handy against enemy mages and large mobs.
Apart from Champion, choosing Reaver would make him a far more effective tank. His primary purpose being to lock in foes and not buff party members. See, Tank, An Alternative Approach for the appropriate explanation.
If Alistair takes on a damaging role then he will be able to take on templar and beserker, the combination is ideal against both melee and mages. Or if weapon and shield focused can easily take up reaver or champion as well.
Dog's talents are varied; he can be used as a damage dealer in combat as well as provide minimal crowd control. It is unwise to underestimate him, as he has no attribute or level restrictions. Unfortunately, his abilities take a very long time to recharge, making them only practically usable once per encounter, so use care in his Tactics so he does not waste them. His lack of a ranged attack can also be a hindrance; even ignoring his poor endgame equipment scaling, it's not exactly optimal to take him to face the Archdemon, for instance.
Because other warriors have so many more talents and so many more equipment slots, Dog can be outstripped in the long run by veteran warriors, unless his Strength and Constitution are built up and he obtains Nemesis, he turns from an average combatant into a heavy damage dealer and secondary tank by the sheer size of his health pool. However, in early stages, he is very useful as a damage dealer. Alternatively, Dog can be outfitted as a strong early game tank/damage sponge, as he does not need to really worry about willpower, magic, and cunning. Please note that Dog also provides The Warden with Mabari Dominance upon successful completion of marking several points of interest.
Dog can also substitute other party members whose approval rating will change depending on course of action during general gameplay, as his approval is fixed on maximum.
Dread Howl is the most useful form of crowd control that Dog can provide as it delays nearby enemies with an AoE stun; Combat Training boosts critical chance, attack, and armor. Charge knocks down a target, functioning much like Shield Bash. Unlike a Warrior, Dog also picks up a second knockdown ability at Tier 4: Overwhelm, which is featured in the Ostagar battle cut scene, demonstrating that it knocks the target onto the ground and deals a series of hits. Shred is vicious; useful with such spells like Walking Bomb or Virulent Walking Bomb, dealing an automatic critical strike on a successful hit and bleed damage over time. It's also great for setting up shatter combos. When Nemesis is reached, Dog gains bonuses to health and health regeneration. Dog's main prowess comes from flanking attacks, where it is harder to be countered or blocked. He is also resistant to knockback attacks, and can't be grabbed or overwhelmed, making him an excellent choice against spiders, wolves, and even dragons and ogres if his defense is good (though do note that, correspondingly, he can't overwhelm spiders or ogres either, only humanoid foes).
Crowd Controller Edit
Dog's faster movement rate can be used in two ways. The common strategy of luring enemies out of their area and into your ambush is enhanced by Dog because he can outrun almost all enemies, causing most enemies to re-evaluate their target choice upon arriving in your ambush. He can also lead powerful single enemies, like Revenants, around in circles while your ranged attackers fire arrows from safety. Also, he can be sent out to take down mages very effectively. His Overwhelm ability is usually a one-hit-kill for the average mage mob, and the mage cannot defend himself while flat on his back. This can also be used to interrupt spells with a long casting time, and his high speed can get him there even if he's across the room when the mage starts casting. Additionally, his Dread Howl stun allows no save (though it only works on white mobs and critters), adding another foolproof instant interrupt to his arsenal. Dog makes encounters with mages easy.
Leliana is one of the more versatile companions and can fight in melee and ranged combat, performing utility, sniping and crowd control functions. This makes a build for her daunting as there are a lot of different ways you can go.
Leliana starts with a number of archery skills which you can develop to make a devastating ranged build. Arrow of Slaying can deal massive damage in one shot and is great for removing key threats such as spellcasters; even if it doesn't kill them instantly, it will hurt them badly. Scattershot is useful for crowd control, as it can remotely stun large groups of enemies. This is especially useful when setting them up for an area spell like Fireball.
To speed up Leliana's development the player's best recourse is to finish the first part of the Elven Treaty quest as soon as possible, stopping right before your descent into the Elven Ruins. Doing the first part of the Elven Treaty quest yields useful items like Andraste's Grace (significantly boosts Leliana's approval, which in turns improves her Cunning and lockpicking skills), bows with Rapid Aim, and the Dalish Leather Armors set (significantly boosts her Dexterity).
Alternatively, you can arm Leliana with a pair of daggers and increase her Dual Weapon talents for the maximum effectiveness in melee combat. Equip her with rune-slotted daggers (at higher levels) and maximize the damage bonuses to really shred through targets.
Her personal quest will give you Marjolaine's Recurve, one of the best longbows in the game. It has a 34 dex requirement and is definitely worth considering when leveling up.
Choices the Warden may want to make for an archer build include:
- Spend attribute points primarily on dexterity
- It should be noted that one of the primary damaging abilities for Leliana is "Lethality", which will take her cunning score and apply it to her damage. This trait applies to ranged as well as melee. As a result Dexterity should only be a primary stat until you have the dexterity required to use her personal bow of Marjolaine's Recurve. Should you use an archery build, make sure to take "Lethality" in the rogue tree and pile points into cunning. *This also applies to a dual weapon build*
- Choose talents from the Archery line, in particular to pick up Scattershot and Arrow of Slaying later on
- Progress though the Combat Training skills first before choosing other skills
- Equipping a bow (and only a bow) or adjusting combat tactics for better archery
Don't forget to build up her Rogue and Bard talents, especially the Deft Hands rogue series (she starts with level 2) if your main character is a Warrior or Mage and can't pick locks. Chests are a great source of extra loot to sell. Once you reach Captivating Song, Leliana can single-handedly lock down a handful of foes, which is an exceptional ability when swarmed by several difficult assailants. In combat, let the other companions lead and Leliana will gladly follow. She can either shoot at range with her bow, or wait a few seconds for the field to set and then maneuver in for flank attack or backstab tries from the enemy's rear. To conserve stamina for talents, do not overload her with armor; light armors such as Wade's Drakeskin sets are a good choice.
If the player has chosen to enhance Leliana's Archery skills, the Ranger is the strongest and most logical second Specialization, providing her with a pet to mitigate melee damage and increase her overall effectiveness. Her ability to call animal companions will add a 5th source of damage that can really help out your melee needs. The wolf companion has what appears to be all of Dogs abilities just about. And the bear brings the equivalent of a 2-hander/tank to the field, while the spider brings some crowd control. Adding the Mastery to the mixes gives more sturdy and powerful animals to the field with an overwhelm ability.
If the player chooses to enhance Leliana's melee abilities, then she can benefit either from the increased defense of the Duelist Specialization, or the increased attack power of the Assassin. Bear in mind, however, that Leliana's lack of any starting stealth abilities means planning ahead is critical if one chooses to focus her on the backstab-dependent Assassin tree.
Leliana's early game strength lies in her ability to use grenades (flasks), as she starts with 1 rank in the Poison-making skill. Each grenade type does 80 damage - that's more damage than any AoE a mage can cast from early-mid game. From mid-game onwards the player's build will determine her effectiveness. Note that many archery talents, unlike their melee counterparts, do not require a physical resistance check. Use this fact to assign effective early game tactics for Leliana.
Yet another strategy for Leliana is to do nothing but invest in all the rogue and bard/duelist talent trees. This means ignoring the dual-weapon and archery talent trees. You can then equip Leliana with an axe or dagger and a small shield. She will still backstab, and the shield adds to her defense(I recommend either Mythals Blessing or Wardens Recruit shields). Going through with this strategy means she will be able to pick any lock, enter stealth during combat, backstab at wide flanks and paralyzed enemies, and evade many attacks. You gain many actual attacks and talents, like below the belt, feign death, deadly strike, dirty fighting, and any talents from her specializations, so she still has many functionalities. First and foremost set her combat tactics so she automatically enters stealth whenever possible in battle. Give her duelist as her second specialization to further increase her offence and defense. Selecting this route means you won't have to concentrate your attributes as you would if she was an archer, meaning you can make her an all around fighter by equally increasing strength, dexterity, constitution, and cunning. Also note that the highest necessary cunning for rank 4 of deft hands is 22, limiting your necessary investment. Suggested equipment includes the ancient elven armor set, aohd, and mythals blessing.
Morrigan's early spells open up possibility for future combat dominance. She starts out with the several spells in the Cold chain so get to Cone of Cold and Blizzard as soon as possible. After Mind Blast, best thing is to increase your defense tenfold with Force Field (because there will be situations where enemies are concentrating on Morrigan rather than other party members). Then go for Crushing Prison which is a powerful single-target hold/damage spell. Build on her Entropy spells by picking up Sleep, Waking Nightmare, and Death Cloud spells (try combining spells for greater damage). Also keep in mind that you can get Bear Shape at level 8, Flying Swarm at level 10, and Master Shapeshifter at level 12. Note: See Shapeshifting_Mechanics for more on Shapeshifting.
Most mages must stay in the rear to be effective but with Morrigan it is not the case. Use her ranged spells early, until your mana is low or the enemy engages in melee, then switch to her bear form for increased survivability until her mana has gone up.It is important to note that animal forms are incredibly weak damage-wise since their damage does not scale with any stat. Her spells are more powerful, but her adaptability to the ever-changing combat dynamics can also be very useful.
Seeing as the party already has a defensive/support caster in Wynne, Morrigan can function as a very effective offensive caster. To start her off, the player should aim for Force Field as early as possible. This allows Morrigan to freeze allies either as an emergency support move or as a way to setup her most powerful AoE attacks. Once she has Force Field aim for the three cone spells - Flame Blast, Cone of Cold and Shock - and Fireball. These spells can be cast one after the other in quick succession for massive damage, and they can be cast one after the other indefinitely assuming you have a good supply of Lyrium Potions. This combo is also (easily) the most damaging spell sequence in the game. Morrigan's shapeshifter forms can be used to great effect to make up for her deficiencies as an offensive caster. Spider and Bear form's Overwhelm can be used to bring down mages and other annoying humanoids (for lack of Mana Clash and spells like Crushing Prison), Flying Swarm allows her to tackle archers easily and skills like Poison Spit/Slam make excellent opening attacks (shifting to human form is instant, basically allowing you to use Slam/Poison spit then resume human form while the game is paused). Since Morrigan is also an NPC she may retain her shapeshifted form during most encounters, allowing her to enter battle already shifted. Do NOT use shifted Morrigan's forms to perform melee attacks unless you have completely run out of other options - she will never be able to reach a magic score as high as the PC's so her forms' normal attack damage is wayyy below decent, with the exception of the Flying Swarm's.
Note that for all the hubbub about Wynne and her spellpower, she will NEVER be able to outdamage a properly skilled Morrigan if you play without mods. This is because it takes Wynne forever to get Fireball + the three cone spells, and by that time Morrigan should be have become a much more versatile, more refined, more resilient offensive caster. Ultimately, although Wynne will do significantly more damage PER spell than Morrigan, she will never be able to outdamage Morrigan simply because a) spells do have cooldowns and b) Morrigan will have more attack spells. Not to mention Wynne is ill-equipped for going pure offensive caster since she lacks points in the requisite spell trees (eg. the Telekinesis line, critical for any nuker unless you don't mind killing your own tanker). Note that this does not mean that Wynne CANNOT be an offensive caster - she is simply inferior to a properly skilled, pure offensive caster Morrigan.
As a shapeshifter all of Morrigan's stats should go to magic, since her spells and the physical attributes of her forms are dependent on spellpower. Her gear should be dodge or defense oriented, so she can take care of herself and since defense/dodge bonuses are carried over when shapeshifting. Combined with her forms' high armor, defense and HP, good +defense or dodge gear significantly improves her gameplay. By around level 16-18 you should have a high DPS, AoE nuker capable of toughing it out with the best of them. She may not have Wynne's freakishly high spellpower nor Alistair's shield skills and armor, but with Fireball + the Cone spells she can easily outdamage all but modded Wynnes and with the best +def/dodge gear and her forms she can (quite surprisingly) be as resilient as Alistair is.
Once Morrigan has her offensive spells giving her a level of Spirit Healer and getting Group Heal is recommended, as with experience you will realize that some situations call for friendly fire damage. Giving her Heal is also recommended, and Sleep may be taken if the party lacks additional crowd control skills (a party without a Bard, Champion or Templar, for example). Finally spells like Arcane Armor and Rock Armor can greatly increase Morrigan's survivability in her human form, which is essential for keeping her alive in encounters where she is forced to help out her allies with her spells.
There are only three possible party healers in the original game: the player as a mage, Wynne, and Morrigan. If the player is not a caster, set up Morrigan as a healer early in the game. Give her Heal, Rejuvenate and Regeneration as soon as possible, and set her tactics to healer. You can add Spirit Healer specialization later, if you like, but it is not necessary.
Alternatively, you can take Heal the first time she levels after joining the party. Set up two tactics & make them #1 & #2 in the list. Those are to heal herself when her own health < 50%, and to do the same for any ally in the same situation. This will handle the majority of your healing needs for the entire party for the rest of the game. Then take Spirit Healer at level 14 with her & take Group Heal and Revival.
If you want an ironclad Morrigan, go for Arcane Warrior specialization and wear massive armor + spells. Its also advisable that you make her a blood mage. Not only does she get a bonus to constitution but a slight bonus to spellpower will make her cold-based spells more likely to freeze enemies. Plus the fact that you can use blood magic, if you raise blood mage all the way up you gain the Blood Control spell which can come very useful against strong bosses with many minions around such as the Broodmother battle.
Maximize Oghren's berserker specialty and the Two-Handed school when the player gets the chance to do so. Capitalize on some of the top-tier talents quickly, that will increase his damage potential and make him an excellent damage oriented character. As with rogues, Oghren should allow the tank to control enemy mobs and then attack from the rear or flank. Because Oghren is so durable, he doesn't have to watch his spacing as much as a rogue. His skills are best used with heavy armor or massive armor.
Berserk increases Oghren's damage and the player can use Mighty Blow to hammer an adversary. Sunder Armor rips through heavily armored enemies, while Pommel Strike and Stunning Blows can knock an enemy out of combat for several seconds. Two-Handed Sweep is great at striking multiple foes, but make sure that you do not steal threat away from the tank. Even though it drains Oghren's remaining stamina, Final Blow deals massive damage and is suitable for ending battles. Critical Strike should probably be avoided in lieu of more powerful Two-Handed and Warrior talents, as it's a rather underwhelming ability. However, if Oghren is acquired at a high enough level he may already possess the talent.
When you get the second specialization for maximum effect with his berserker talent make him a champion. That bonus to willpower and the war cry ability will make his berserker skill so much better. Rally allows him to boost his allies attack and defense at the slight cost of sustained stamina.
Depending on the role you wish Shale to play her stats may vary. Two stats that should not be ignored, no matter the role, are strength and constitution. Strength should be brought up to 38 (with Crystal bonuses) no matter the role so that Shale may use Small Brilliant Crystals. Constitution should be brought up to 38 (with Crystal bonuses) no matter the role so that Shale may use Large Brilliant Crystals.
Shale serves dual purposes: the party's main tank or a heavy melee damage-dealer. It is good to note though that as Shale's equipment converts all of her damage into damage with an elemental property, you may have to switch crystals based on the creature/boss that you're fighting (i.e. having Fire Crystals of any level while fighting a dragon will make all of Shale's damage noted as 'Immune').
If the Warden wants Shale to act as the main tank, concentrate on the Stoneheart chain first. Stoneheart activates Shale's defensive talents and increases the golem's threat. Stone Roar gains a health regeneration bonus for Shale and attracts the attention of a single targeted enemy, who will veer toward Shale immediately and has a chance to stun nearby enemies if they fail a mental resistance check. Regenerating Burst damages and possibly stuns nearby enemies, plus it increases stamina regeneration and threat generation.
The Stone Aura chain supports a Shale tank strategy. It imbues nearby party members with bonuses to attack, defense, and health regeneration; however, the sustained ability paralyzes Shale and imposes a personal penalty to defense (also it drains stamina). Inner Reserves beefs up Shale's armor, and party members within Stone Aura gain additional bonuses to armor, spellpower, stamina regeneration, and health regeneration. Renewed Assault further increases Shale's armor and ability to resist hostile spells, and party members within the aura gain bonuses to attack, stamina regeneration, critical chance, and armor penetration where the enemies within the aura suffer penalties to attack, movement speed, and defense. Supernatural Resilience gives more bonuses to armor and the ability to resist hostile spells meanwhile the party members within the aura gain additional bonuses to health regeneration, damage, spellpower, and to resist hostile spells.
If the Warden wants Shale to act as the main damage oriented character, first concentrate on the golem's Pulverizing Blows chain. It activates Shale's offensive talents, which gives a bonus to damage with a penalty to defense. Slam swings at a nearby enemy and, if it connects, automatically generates a critical hit and knocks the target back. Quake hits nearby enemies with an AoE that damages and knocks them back. Killing Blow smashes a target with a critical hit (for successful connects) and extra damage equal to Shale's remaining stamina, which drains away after the blow.
Rock Mastery supports damage orientation and gives Shale more ranged options and it activates the golem's ranged talents and gains a large bonus against incoming ranged attacks, but with a penalty to armor, defense, and melee critical chance. Nearby party members also gain bonuses to ranged critical chance and ranged attack speed. Hurl Rock throws a stone projectile at a targeted area and all enemies near the point of impact take physical damage and may be knocked down. Earthen Grasp immobilizes enemies unless they pass a physical resistance check. Rock Barrage throws multiple rocks into the air, which rain down on a targeted area and inflict movement penalties and knock down anyone within if they fail a physical resistance check.
I'd like to share some thoughts on proper Shale party role on Nightmare. Assuming you are an experienced player, and, as such, go to Honnleath immediately after Lothering to get Helm of Honnleath and Harvest Festival Ring, you can have Shale in your party circa level 8. The game auto-levels Shale putting some heavy emphasis on the Pulverizing Blows tree and investing quite evenly in strength and constitution (relative weightings on auto-level: 1.4:1.9). Actually, these are sound choices. Until level 12 or so, Shale will serve you best as a damage-dealer/secondary tank. Quake is an extremely good mass-damage skill early in the game. Slam has its uses as well. By level 12-13, your primary warrior character begins to outclass Shale both as a tank and as a damage-dealer. By then, hopefully, you will have Rock Mastery tree maxed out, as a major role switch is due. From now on, Shale's primary objectives are: (a) to stay close to the archer(s); (b) to use Rock Barrage in conjunction with Wynne's Earthquake to trivialize a lot of otherwise difficult fights against overwhelming odds; (c) to assist the ranged characters with carefully aimed Hurl Rock; (d) to provide a great control tool by using Earthen Grasp: I prefer to save it for emergencies (e. g. multiple enemies going after your archer and mage), but feel free to experiment; (e) to use Taunt in case the enemies refuse to leave your ranged characters alone (after all, Shale is much more durable than any mage or archer). I prefer to invest in Stone Aura tree only after I maximize the Rock Mastery talents: the bonuses provided by the former are better suited for end-game situations and are more mage-oriented than anything, if you ask me. A typical simplified end-game combat chart flow with a party consisting of tank, archer, mage and Shale should be: Rock Mastery -> Rock Barrage -> Hurl Rock -> Earthen Grasp -> etc. -> out of stamina -> Stone Aura.
Stat distribution and optimal gearing: enough constitution to wear the best Large Fire Crystal (see Large Crystals) available with the constitution bonus provided by the best Small Nature Crystal (see Small Crystals) available, the rest into strength (as it's the only stat affecting Shale's Rock Mastery talents damage; please note: the damage from talents is not converted to elemental damage as dictated by Small Crystal type). I suggest getting a Small Flawless Nature Crystal (+4 Constitution) as early as you can by stealing from Piotin Aeducan in Orzammar Proving Grounds or an equivalently ranked target.
Fill out Sten's Two-Handed school as soon as possible and capitalize on some of the top-tier talents quickly, which will seriously increase his damage potential and make him an excellent damage oriented companion. As with rogues, Sten should allow the tank to control enemy mobs and then attack from the rear or flank. Because Sten is so durable, he doesn't have to watch his spacing as much as a rogue, and he can off-tank if the Warden needs him to grab a creature that the tank can't hold threat on. His skills are best used with heavy or massive armor and two-handed weapons, and crossbow suits for ranged attacks.
Sten is the only companion you get that starts out with no specialization, so you're at a slight disadvantage there. But if you unlocked the reaver specialization it comes quite in handy if Sten is your maximum damage dealer: because of its physical resistance check, you can lay on more damage without being thrown down by certain bosses. It works just as well if he is your primary tank. The talent Devour in the Reaver section allows him to gain health from dead enemies which is a big help when you're surrounded by a horde of darkspawn.
The fact of the matter is, because he is limited to only one specialization, he will never be as effective as other party members. His real use would be if the player had the Feastday Gifts DLC, his gift being a revival mean quick on its cooldown and sometimes able to heal the living members of the party more than expected; thing that's quite handy in a long fight with several mobs.
Wynne is a very solid choice to take as a healer. Depending on level, she joins the group with at least Expert Combat Tactics mastered, which gives her four additional combat tactics slots. During more difficult encounters of the game it is advisable to change her tactics so that she will consume a Lyrium Potion whenever she gets too low on mana. If you are carrying a healthy supply of Lyrium Potions this can improve the staying power of your party significantly. Wynne's Plot Spell will also significantly increase her usefulness as a healer in the endgame, and will help to mitigate her Lyrium Potion consumption.
Go up to the top-tier spirit healer spells as soon as possible. In the Creation tree, Mass Rejuvenation is a great party boost when you have a free spell point. Paralyze in the Entropy school provides excellent defense for those occasions when a creature locks onto her, and Earthquake and Petrify fill out the chain beginning with Rock Armor and deliver serious offensive muscle.
Save your mana for your healing spells unless absolutely necessary. Spot heal companions as wounds appear. If someone is getting hammered, such as the tank in a large fight, cast Heal and Regeneration continually. If several companions get injured at once or combat slowly chips away at everyone's health, use Group Heal to increase everyone's health. Later, add Lifeward to the rotation for companions who are close to death in a fight. If they fall unconscious, use Revival and raise them right back into the fight - the spell has an area of effect and can revive several companions, but the huge cooldown will restrict its usage to only once per battle. Remember to apply an Injury Kit to immediately revived companions while still in the fight, or, in later levels, use Wynne's ultimate Spirit Healer ability, Cleansing Aura.
Wynne is also quite useful as an in-battle buffer. She starts the game with Heroic Offense and Heroic Aura, which provide excellent situational buffs for damage dealers and ranged weapon fights, but if the player invests a skill point in the next spell, Heroic Defense, they will give Wynne a powerful anti-magic buff which is perfect for tanks going up against spellcasters and dragons.
Damager EditSimply put, full magic build for Wynne is the best DPS-oriented mage character, mage PC included, by a long shot, if acquired early. A full magic build means, first and foremost, investing exclusively into magic attribute while never touching willpower. For Wynne's initial willpower, plus plot skill attribute bonus (+6 willpower), should suffice until you gain your specialization point and spend it on Blood Mage, both for the sake of its passive spellpower bonus, and for Blood Magic mode that will solve your potential problems in mana supply department.
Four central pieces of gear you should acquire:
Silverite (Tier 6)
Requires: 32 magic
Damage: 6.00 (Physical)
Armor penetration: 35.00
+15% fire damage
The robes of the Tevinter mages are often enchanted to increase the wearer's magical prowess. This robe is particularly elaborate, and must have belonged to a prominent mage at some point.
+1/+2 mana regeneration in combat
+4% spell resistance
The emblem of the Imperium decorates this ancient golden torc. It is studded with garnets the color of dried blood, and feels bitter cold to the touch.
Lyrium has been inlaid into the leather of this belt, forming curious geometric patterns.
+0.5/+1 mana regeneration in combat
It's also highly advisable to have Black Hand Gauntlets and Dreamsever, since the most damaging spells/spell combinations in the game deal spirit damage. If you have Shale in your party, her Stone Aura, when maxed out, will grant an additional +10 spellpower boost.Overall, an adequately geared level 24 Wynne under the effects of Aneirin's Token-enhanced Vessel of the Spirit buff, Stone Aura, Spell Wisp and Spell Might should have an absolutely unparalleled total of 210-220 spellpower. (A single Mana Clash with such spellpower is sufficient to kill the mighty Gaxkang).
While using this method it should be noted that fighting other mages/ranged that may escape a taunt or resist a CC and target Wynne while she's at low health can end badly. For this reason I save Lifeward for Wynne and health pots for tank. If you don't have very good crowd control however, your party will surely die quickly in anything above a hard difficulty setting so use with caution. I've used this in a Alistair(tank) Me(BM/SH), Wynne(SH/BM), Morrigan(SS/BM) setup and has worked quite well. If you are new to the game however I suggest building Wynne as an arcane warrior so she is as tough as your tank. Another note make sure your mages all have Force Field and your spirit healers have Group Heal and Revival if you plan on spamming AOE's. Also Morrigan is weaker statistically so make her the "CC" mage.
Since her first specialization, Spirit Healer, is already chosen when she joins the crew, you can only choose one second specialization as soon as the right prerequisites are met.
Blood Mage would be an excellent choice for a second specialization, as she can cast spells until her health is low and then deactivate Blood Magic and heal herself, giving her effectively infinite health. This is a good offensive magic damage dealer combo. While Wynne despises Blood Magic of all kind, she has no reaction, negative or otherwise, if you give her this specialization.
Another good choice for the second specialization is Arcane Warrior. Equipped with medium armor and all 4 tiers of the Arcane Warrior specialty class, she makes a decent brawler that is difficult to wound. Spirit Healer talents, the basic Heal spell and Mass Rejuvenation can all be cast with a sword out, making this a fairly hassle-free setup. Because her Magic score will be fairly high, you can use Combat Magic to equip her with a high-tier greatsword fairly early on for a surprising amount of damage; the longsword Spellweaver is also a useful choice if you have a good spare shield lying around.
Zevran contributes best when you sneak up on opponents and surprise them. So before you enter line of sight with a mob, Zevran should go into stealth mode and go around to the mob's rear where he can use Combat Movement to ensure a backstab and Exploit Weakness to deliver extra damage based on his cunning score. If he can't reach the enemy's rear, stay hidden and wait for adversaries to move and expose their vulnerable backs.
If you want Zevran in your party but also desire a rogue capable of lock picking, ensure that rogue is the Warden or Leliana. Zevran's skill set is intended for melee combat and poison making, and he comes with no Deft Hands abilities. You can either set aside talent points to learn these or focus on his melee/assassin talents, which are better for making him a useful member of your team.
As an alternative, Zevran can become utterly useful as a "backstage" character if equipped with a good bow and focusing on the archery line instead of his "natural" assassin skills. With the highest dexterity among all characters, late in the game (around level 20), he is almost untouchable and can significantly weaken any enemy if he can stay away from melee. Depending on the Warden's class, using Zevran as the archer and Leliana as dual weapon fighter, (she needs much more cunning than dexterity so she can deal more damage with daggers than with her bow, while Zevran is just the contrary) makes a really deadly team as long as they are together in the party, especially against heavy melee fighters like Ser Cauthrian and high-level mages. The drawback of this choice is, as it is not the obvious way, it must be made very early in the game to allow the player customize the points attribution and not let the program choose the default one.
Focus on Zevran's dexterity and willpower as he levels up. He will probably be an accomplished poisoner. He will take best to light armor, dual weapons, and archery with shortbows or longbows. Fill out Zevran's assassin specialization as soon as they open up (especially up to level 14's Lacerate). Concentrate on the Dual Weapon school whenever you don't have an assassin point to spend. Dual-Weapon Finesse should be a priority to avoid the standard penalties associated with fighting with two weapons. Progress only to Dual Weapon Finesse or Dual Weapon Expert, and forgo the use of full-size weapons in both hands in favor of using daggers for their faster speed. This makes much more sense for a rogue, since dagger damage benefits from dexterity and (via Lethality) cunning instead of strength. There is little need for a rogue to have Dual-Weapon Mastery beyond bragging rights. Whirlwind provides damage against multiple foes at once, while Riposte gives Zevran a stun attack for those targets that just won't go down. He starts as an assassin which is good for offense now when you get the point to do so make him a Duelist for a boost to defense which makes an excellent all around melee fighter. The focus, however, should be on disabling talents such as Riposte and Cripple. Talents like Whirlwind depend on your character to be surrounded by enemies, and this is not the optimal situation for a rogue, nor is it as easily attainable as a warrior with their threat-managing talents like Taunt.