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Being a Dragon Age Origins Arcane Warrior
Like any RPG, one of the best things about Dragon Age Origins is the way it allows you to fully customize your character. Mages in particular have a lot of options, and one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your mage is choosing his or her specializations. These new mage spells and abilities will shape the way you play, particularly the Arcane Warrior specialization.
The arcane warrior isn’t for the fainthearted, or for the mage who’s afraid of taking some damage. This is the specialization you’ll want to take if you’re planning to turn your mage into a tank or at least gain the option for close combat. Arcane warriors gain the ability to use normal weapons and armor as well as some powerful new modes, but they lose mana quickly and have to be built up carefully if they’re to succeed.
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Dragon Age Arcane Warrior Spells and Benefits
The Dragon Age Arcane Warrior gains a permanent +2 to dexterity and +5 to attack, as well as the following tree of new mage spells.
Combat Magic: With this sustained mode you gain several benefits. You’ll trade in some of your fatigue for increased attack and damage, and you will be allowed to use Magic to determine damage instead of Strength. Also, this mode allows you to use Magic instead of Strength to determine what kinds of armor and weapons you can equip. This is absolutely necessary for any mage who wants to be able to use decent equipment. You’ll never survive fighting at the center of the battle with robes and a staff.
Aura of Might: This permanent ability increases all the bonuses of Combat Magic, giving you more attack, damage, and defense. You don’t have to do anything special—once you learn this spell these effects are automatic whenever you’re in Combat Magic mode.
Shimmering Shield: A high-level defensive shield, this is another mode and will last as long as you can afford the mana cost. And that cost is high—this mode eats away at your mana quickly. The shield will block a whole lot of damage, as well as giving you bonuses to armor and resistance. With this mode cast, you’ll be able to deal out a lot of damage while taking very little yourself.
Fade Shroud: Like Aura of Might, once you learn this spell it is automaticallly active whenever you’re in Combat Magic mode. Supposedly putting you half into the Fade, this spell helps you avoid attacks (because you’re only partly physical) making it even harder for enemies to touch you. Most importantly, Fade Shroud boosts your mana regeneration during combat, which is essential since arcane warrior spells drain mana so quickly.
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How to Unlock the Arcane Warrior
There is only one way to unlock the arcane warrior specialization, and that’s during the quest Nature of the Beast. In the Brecilian Ruins, in the Lower Ruins area, there is a small room that appears to be a destroyed library. You’ll find a phylactery lying inconspicuously in a corner—just touch it unfortunately to activate the event. The soul of a long-dead arcane warrior will offer to teach you his skills in exchange for setting his spirit free. Take him up on his offer and destroy the phylactery to gain the specialization.
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You get two specializations, don’t forget, and your second choice is just as important as the first. After taking arcane warrior you’ll want to consider carefully what second specialization to take, and if that second tree of spells will complement your new fighting abilities. Or if you’ve already taken your first specialization, this section will help you decide whether or not to take arcane warrior as your second.
Arcane Warrior + Blood Mage: For the mage who loves being at the center of the action and wants to become a powerful tank, this is a good combination to have. These two specializations together will grant you access to a huge amount of damage. They also compliment each other well. 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 (all spells, not just blood mage ones). 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, and for arcane warrior gives you defense bonuses and the ability to wear quality armor). Going strategically in and out of blood magic mode can also help control the level of damage you’ll take, especially since heal spells don’t work as well while in blood magic mode.
Arcane Warrior + Spirit Healer: This is a good choice for the player who wants to be less of a tank and balance offensive and defensive capabilities. The arcane warrior is typically found at the center of the action, and spirit healer spells can keep you alive long enough to do a lot of damage. The sustained healing spells you get with spirit healer will come in particularly handy, and the spirit healer bonuses are just as useful to the arcane warrior. Both these specializations drain mana quickly, though, so watch your mana level and be prepared to use a lot of potions.
Arcane Warrior + Shapeshifter: These specializations are both intended to let the mage, a class that normally fights best at a distance, join the actual combat. Taking both arcane warrior and shapeshifter allows you to do just that for as long as possible. Since arcane warrior spells take such huge chunks out of your mana, when you run out you can switch to a shapeshifted form and continue to deal out damage this way, since you can’t cast spells while shapeshifted. Unfortunately you can’t even used sustained spells while shapeshifted, so you can’t take advantage of Fade Shroud’s boost to mana regeneration.
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Tips for Maximizing your Arcane Warrior
Stats: As an arcane warrior you should put a lot of points into Magic, since it not only allows you to cast spells but also serves as your Strength stat. Willpower should also be high, since you want as much mana as possible, and it would be a good idea to get Consitution and Dexterity up to a moderate level, especially if you intend to spend a lot of time using regular weapons.
Combat Strategy: The hardest thing about playing an arcane warrior is keeping your mana levels from plumeting too quickly. Start out by casting regular spells, especially ones that require you to sheath your weapon first, before using arcane warrior modes. Just because you can use weapons and armor doesn’t mean you should ignore the rest of the mage spells—a lot of them can come in very handy. Area of effect (AOE) spells like Crushing Prison, Blood Wound, and stun spells are especially important for the arcane warrior, who often finds him or herself surrounded by multiple enemies. Spend some time in Combat Magic and Shimmering Shield modes, but don’t expect to be able to use them for the whole fight. Going in and out of these modes at strategic times is key to using the arcane warrior effectively.