And so begins my Dragon Age posts. As you may guess from the title... I really like mages. But to be fair to other classes, I have only played as mages so far. In my most recent file, however, I'm an elven rogue specializing in dual-weapon combat. Things are going well so far too :)
I usually consult the following website as it always helps if I need anything
Dragon Age Wiki
It is great :D
Now, my first post is gonna be rather technical regarding my Elven Mage and how he became quite unstoppable towards the end of Dragon Age: Origins. And throughout the expansion pack Dragon Age: Awakening, he wiped the floor with enemies!!
This is going out to Cillian :D
Starting from the beginning, I chose an elven mage as they gain the highest bonus to Magic and Willpower starting off. It's only a slight increase from a human mage, but every little helps. Dwarves cannot become mages.
As I level up, I throw all of my attribute points into Magic and some into Willpower too. I also raise my Cunning to 16 and leave it at that. Once Willpower [this determines the amount of mana you have available for spells] hits about 30, I leave it and raise Magic more and more. Eventually, I do come to a point where I put a few points into Constitution but I'll talk about that later.
Next are skills. Warriors and Mages get one skill point every 3 levels; Rogues get one every 2 levels. As a mage, I put the first few into Coercion and then to Combat Tactics and Combat Training. Coercion is persuasion. I find it really useful to be able to persuade people to do things for you, or to manipulate people in this game. You'll experience why during the game - there are loads of examples. Combat Tactics is used for making tactical commands for a character you don't control. These took me a while to grasp the concept of but they can be very useful once you know how to use them. I'm not even going to try explain them because I find it difficult to do so unless I were to show you. Combat Training is just frickin' handy... it allows mages to take more damage before a spell is interrupted by an enemy attack.
Spells... Each time you level up, you get a point to spend on unlocking a spell. I tend to stick to the Arcane Mastery spells [Arcane Bolt, Arcane Shield etc], Primal Fire spells [Fireball is so cool and Flame Weapons is handy], Spirit Telekinesis spells [Crushing Prison is a favourite of mine] and Entropy Hexes spells [I used to think they weren't useful but when used properly, they're deadly]. I find these to be a sufficient group of spells that do quite well.
Now for specializations [my favourite part!!]. At level 7, you get one specialization point to use. I always unlock Arcane Warrior first. It is, by far, the best one in my opinion. Combat Magic allows a mage to use their Magic attribute to count towards the Strength rating needed to equip armour or weaponry. It also turns your mage from a feeble spellcaster into a versatile warrior capable for physical combat. After that, you get another point at level 14 and I spend it on Blood Magic. This is when I start to put a few attribute points into Constitution because that's what counts towards raising your health. Blood Magic relies on using your health instead of mana to cast spells. My first reaction to this was, "but my mage had crap defences, his health is blown away so quick so why would I go off and lower it myself?". But in reality, when used effectively, Blood Magic can really be useful :D
Right. There goes my rant about how I train my mage. But why? Why do I do all those things? Well, I'm about to explain so hold on tight because it's not gonna be short :D
Combat Magic is an awesome spell. Once you get it, you can equip high level armour and weaponry to your mage. In battle, however, if you activate Combat Magic, it's secondary effect kicks in. It takes your Spellpower and uses that to calculate physical combat damage in place of using Strength to calculate it. Spellpower goes up as your Magic increases. This means mages do more physical damage. Also, the fatigue on your mage in changed into an attack bonus so higher fatigue means higher damage. Combat Magic, itself, has a fatigue of 50%, which is very high.
Shimmering Shield is the 3rd Arcane Warrior spell [after Aura Of Might which gives stat bonuses to Combat Magic]. This spell increases defences massively!! All Fire, Cold, Electrical, Nature and Spirit Resistances receive a 75% bonus. You also get a bonus to armour, and to physical and mental resistance. The only problem is that this spell consumes your mana rapidly while you have it on. But you'll see later why this won't be much of a problem :D Also, it adds a fatigue of 5% which adds to what I said above :)
Fade Shroud is an upgrade to Combat Magic in that it gives you a 25% chance of dodging attacks. Combining this with Shimmering Shield and you have one hell of a tank!! Even this alone contributes to a powerful mage. But couple it with Blood Magic and it gets even better :D
Blood Magic is another sustainable spell that gives 5% fatigue. It allows you to use health to cast spells at a reduced cost too!! Spells cast using health take 80% of their normal cost to cast. So a spell that would originally need 100 mana takes only 80 health to cast. It's a very good trade off :D There are a few items which make this decrease even larger so Blood Magic becomes even more effective. However, any healing effects you receive while Blood Magic is active only have 10% the effect they normally have. Now, combine this with the Arcane Warrior spells above and you have a mage whose mana is only being depleted by Shimmering Shield; the mage is attacking enemies with high physical attack damage [throw in your Flame Weapons spell and you get more fatigue and added fire damage]; high defences mean enemies don't hit you with much damage; you can still cast spells at the cost of some health.
Now this is quite a formidable combination of spells. But it get's better. Blood Sacrifice is the 2nd Blood Magic spell. It takes health from an ally and heals you. This is not affected by the healing restriction of Blood Magic. Whatever health you sap from an ally, you gain double that, so it is a good trade off. My tactic is usually to use this spell on an animal that my rogue ranger called to help me in battle.
Blood Wound is awesome!! Within a circular area, all creatures with blood become immobilized as their blood boils and they take constant spirit damage. It's a good way to stop enemies and give you a little time to think and maybe heal yourself. This spell is affected by fatigue. One thing about fatigue I didn't mention - positive levels of fatigue increase your mana cost for a spell. But negative levels of fatigue decrease your mana cost. However, there is a cap of +25% mana cost so any fatigue over 25% doesn't add more cost.
Finally, Blood Control. This is a very useful spell. Not always needed but can be extremely useful in tricky situations. When cast on an enemy, they become your ally for a period of time. They will also take damage from the spell too. If this spell is used on the last standing enemy, it counts as the battle being over so you can save, regenerate health and mana at a high speed and such. This is really useful if you're fighting strong enemies such as Ogres.
Now, I think that's pretty much all I needed to say. With these two specializations combined, you can create a really awesome mage. Cillian, I hope you appreciate this!