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Being a Dragon Age Origins Blood Mage
So you’re playing a mage in Dragon Age Origins, and thinking about taking the Blood Mage specialization. This is one of the more interesting Dragon Age specializations, with clear strengths and weaknesses. On one hand the spells it grants you are very powerful, but on the other hand they subtract from your health instead of your mana. This is a great specialization for mages who tend to hang back away from the battle and not take much damage, while the tanks engage the enemy directly. That way when you run out of mana, you’ll have health points to spend on blood mage spells without putting yourself in too much danger. Alternately, specialize in blood mage and arcane warrior for a powerful mage tank.
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Dragon Age Origins Blood Mage Spells and Benefits
A blood mage gets a permanent +2 to constitution and +2 to spellpower, as well as the following tree of new mage spells.
Blood Magic: This is a mode that allows you to spend health points on spells instead of mana. This applies to ordinary spells, and is necessary for the next three blood mage spells. A great option for those times when you run out of mana before the battle is over, and you’ve still got plenty of health. Unfortunately, any spells or effects cast on the blood mage while this mode is active will be less effective than normal
Blood Sacrifice: A rather disturbing option, this spell allows you to drain health from one of your allies. You gain health at their expense, and if you drain too much the ally can die. A good option for mages who tend to find themselves in the middle of battle taking a lot of damage, or a last resort to keep your mage alive at the expense of a less valuable party member.
Blood Wound: This is an area of effect spell, damaging all the enemies close to the caster and not harming any of the caster’s allies. It inflicts a good deal of damage and paralyzes enemies at the same time, unless they pass a physical resistance check. Certain creatures such as skeletons and wraiths that don’t have blood aren’t affected by this spell. This is a great spell to use on large groups of living enemies—anyone who’s played Dragon Age as a mage knows how useful AOE (area of effect) spells are. Blood Magic must be active to use this spell.
Blood Control: The most powerful of the blood mage spells, this one allows you to take control of an enemy and make it fight for you (unless it passes a resistance check, of course). Even if they do pass the check they still take a good deal of damage. As with Blood Wound, however, creatures that don’t have blood aren’t affected. Blood Magic must be active to use this spell, and it can be a lifesaver if you manage to use it effectively on a high-level enemy.
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How to Unlock the Blood Mage
There is only one way to unlock this specialization, and it doesn’t involve a book or a party member. At the end of the Arl of Redcliff quest, when you are in the Fade and speaking with the Desire Demon who possessed Connor, you must not kill the demon. Instead, agree to the bargain she proposes and for your reward ask her for arcane secrets. This unlocks the Blood Mage specialization for you and everyone else in your party.
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Now that you’re a blood mage, what second specialization should you take? Or if you’ve already taken a first specialization, is blood mage a good second choice? There isn’t one right answer—it depends on the kind of mage you want to be.
Blood Mage + Arcane Warrior: This is one of the highest damage combinations in the game. This is for the mage who loves being at the center of the action and wants to become a powerful tank. Arcane warrior spells drain mana quickly, but being a blood mage solves that problem by allowing you to use your health instead for other spells. You’ll take a lot of damage, though, so be sure to bring plenty of health poultices and buff up your constitution and magic stats (high magic means poultices will heal you for more). Going strategically in and out of blood magic mode can also help control the level of damage you’ll take.
Blood Mage + Spirit Healer: This combination results in a more balanced mage, one who can both heal and do a good deal of damage. You’ll want to spend more time on the edges of the battle, so you’re prepared to cast whichever of your spells is needed. You won’t be able to take as much damage, but blood mage spells except Blood Wound work just as well from a distance, and spirit healer is a powerful and extremely useful specialization to have. It’s highly recommended that you have at least one spirit healer in your party—if you’re a mage it makes sense to take it yourself.
Blood Mage + Shapeshifter: You can’t cast spells while shapeshifted, nor can you be in blood magic mode. You could build a tank this way and go in and out of shapeshifted form and blood magic in turns, but this is a clumsy way to do things. These two specializations aren’t terrible together, but they don’t complement each other like blood mage and arcane warrior do, and shapeshifter is arguably the least powerful and useful of the specializations. So this combination is not recommended. The main use you might get out of it is blood magic + flying swarm: when you’re low on health from casting blood magic spells, switch to flying swarm and take damage to mana while regenerating health.
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Tips for Maximizing your Blood Mage
Stats: Along with willpower and magic, put a lot of points into constitution. You’ll be using your health to cast spells, after all, and you’ll also want it to be very high if you intend to play as a tank.
Combat Strategy: Use blood magic strategically, not all the time. Switch in and out of blood magic mode so you can balance casting regular spells and blood mage spells. This way, you won’t run completely out of health or mana. Also, you’ll want to be out of blood magic mode any time you need to heal yourself. Use blood magic on large groups of enemies, then switch to regular spells to finish them off. A particularly good strategy is to combine Blood Wound with spells that do lasting damage—the affected enemy will continue to take that damage while they’re paralyzed and can’t do anything about it.