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One of the most important decisions you’ll make while playing Dragon Age Origins is picking your main character’s two specializations. As a mage, these specializations will give you access to powerful new spells. Spirit Healer is one of the most useful Dragon Age specializations because it lets you keep your party from dying much more effectively than you can with potions or basic healing spells. This is a good specialization to take if you are planning to be a ranged mage, staying away from the center of combat at least part of the time. You can switch focus between casting damage and healing spells, or you can use your spirit healer as a designated healer, who saves all his or her mana for the purposes of keeping everyone else in the party alive and fit for combat.
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Dragon Age Origins Spirit Healer Spells and Benefits
A spirit healer gets a permanent +2 to magic and +0.2 to combat health regeneration, to keep you alive while you watch out for your party members. You also get access to a new tree of mage spells.
Group Heal: This spell heals all the spirit healer’s allies, for a much greater amount than the standard heal spell. The benefit of this in a combat situation is pretty obvious.
Revival: An incredibly useful spell, this one allows you to raise one or more party members from the dead during combat. The spell also restores a small amount of health to those party members, to keep them alive long enough for them to use a heal spell or poltice. This spell is effective over a certain area, which you choose, so if a couple of party members have fallen close to each other you can raise them all at once.
Lifeward: This spell affects just one party member, and puts a ward around the chosen ally that restores some of their health when their health meter drops below 1/3. This is a one-time activation spell, so it only lasts about a minute. This is a good spell to cast on a tank who’s taking a lot of damage, but needs to be cast at the right time and not too early.
Cleansing Aura: This sustained spell affects the caster’s allies and lasts as long as you want. It periodically heals all allies close to the caster as well as curing them of any injuries they’ve sustained. It takes a significant amount of mana, but is especially valuable for its duration and because it keeps you from having to rely on injury kits.
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How to Unlock the Spirit Healer
Though it appears that Wynne might be able to teach Spirit Healer, this is generally not the case. Instead, the only way to gain this specialization is by purchasing the right book. The tome is available at the Wonders of Thedas shop in Denerim for 15 gold. If you have the Warden’s Keep downloadable content, you can also buy the spirit healer manual from the Keep’s vendor.
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Just as important as learning how to use your spirit healer to maximum effect is deciding on a second specialization. As is the case with most decisions in Dragon Age there is no right or wrong answer, but some combinations are more effective than others.
Spirit Healer + Arcane Warrior: This is a good choice for the player who wants to 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. You’ll also be close enough to other close-combat party members to benefit them with Group Heal and Cleansing Aura. Watch your mana level, though—both these specializations drain mana quickly, so you’ll need a lot of potions.
Spirit Healer + Blood Mage: This combination results in a pretty balanced mage, one who can both heal and do a good deal of damage. You’ll want to spend most of your time on the edges of the battle, so you’re prepared to cast whichever of your spells is needed. In fact, this is the best combination for a mage who intends to stay away from the main combat area, a tactic which gives you a good position from which to determine strategy. Blood mage will allow you do deal out damage whenever your healing spells aren’t needed, and most blood mage spells work just fine from a distance.
Spirit Healer + Shapeshifter: These two specializations don’t really compliment each other, but they can be used in much the same way spirit healer and arcane warrior work together. Use spirit healer spells until you run out of mana, then shapeshift to deal out damage as long as you can. You can’t cast healing spells while shapeshifted, though, so you don’t have the same ability to keep yourself alive that you have when pairing arcane warrior and spirit healer.
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Tips for Maximizing your Spirit Healer
Stats: Mostly you’ll want to put points into magic and willpower, so you’re prepared for casting those mana-draining heal spells. Constitution would also be a good stat to improve, since spirit healers tend to be on the weaker side.
Combat Strategy: It might be good to designate a mage with spirit healer as the designated healer, who does nothing but keep the rest of the party alive. This saves up the charater’s mana for spells like Cleansing Aura and Revival. Alternarly, you could have two mages with spirit healer who take turns healing and casting their own offensive and area of effect spells. Use Cleansing Aura between battles to clear your party members of injuries, so they’ll be fresh for the next fight and you’ll never have to carry injury kits. And if you have a tank who tends to take damage from many enemies at once, consider casting Lifeward at strategic times to keep him or her going strong.