Arcane Warrior Spirit Healer Build - Paladin

Arcane Warrior Spirit Healer Build - Paladin - Dragon Age: Origins (DAO)

By zanuffas
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In this post, I will cover Arcane Warrior Spirit Healer Build for Dragon Age: Origins. This is a true Paladin-like build offering very high protection and constant healing to ensure that your party can survive the most difficult encounters.

Arcane Warrior Spirit Healer - Paladin Build

So the build has multiple roles that it can fill. This will not make it replace those characters but allow for some more offensive setups. The idea behind merging these specializations is that you can both play as a sturdy frontliner and a support healer.

First, by going with Arcane Warrior, you will gain the ability to wear heavy armor using Magic, instead of strength. So now you can equip those cool-looking, heavy armors, and still utilize spellcasting. To top it off, Shimmering Shield will provide sturdy defenses against any kind of damage if the need arises.

Spirit Healer, will add another aspect - strong support and healing. You will be able to activate Cleansing Aura, to apply non-stop heals on allies. Moreover, Group Heal will further ensure that everyone stays alive in situations where you need an "oh shit" button.

As a mage, you will also have access to the core spell arsenal - Regeneration, Heal, Glyphs, Haste, etc. So you can utilize all of these depending on the combat encounter and the situation you are in.

The build has been played and tested on Nightmare difficulty

Character Creation

If you are into optimizing there are a few things that you can do to optimize your build a bit.

dragon age origins character creation window

Race

There are 2 race options in my opinion:

Attribute Description
Human A little less optimized but can also be a choice for Arcane Warrior builds.
Elf The go-to choice for this build as it gets the biggest bonus to Magic.

Class

The choice here is obvious:

Class Description
Mage Get's access to spells and Arcane Warrior specialization

Background

Sadly only one choice is possible here:

Background Description
Magi All mages have to start in Circle Tower, no matter the race choice.

Attributes

For the start of the game, all points should be invested - +5 Magic. You will want the mage spells to be effective, especially on Nightmare difficulty. Moreover, this stat will play a crucial role in becoming a powerful Arcane Warrior.

Need help with level-by-level attribute/talent progression? For my supporters on Ko-Fi or Patreon, I offer attribute picks on each level, for optimal progression.

Skills

I would recommend getting Coercion, this will help with some early-game dialogues and quest options.

Skill Description
Coercion 1 level will help in the early game to unlock some additional dialogue options.

Spells

For the start of the game, I recommend picking:

Spells Description
Glyph of Paralysis Simple control spell, that will paralyze a single target.
Glyph of Warding Defensive glyph that is mainly used for progression, to unlock the next spell.

Quest Priority and Locations

Once you have finished Ostagar and Lothering, the world will open up and you can visit multiple areas. Below I will cover some progression recommendations, to obtain a few core items needed.

If you do not have Specializations unlocked:

  1. Soldier's Peak - obtain Warden Commander Armor Set.
  2. Return to Ostagar - get swords and shields for Cailan's Arms Set.
  3. Brecilian Forest (at least until you unlock Arcane Warrior)
  4. Circle Tower - additional attributes for progression. I would make sure to have Mana Clash or be close to getting for this quest.
  5. Your preferred quests

For those that have Specializations:

  1. Soldier's Peak - obtain Warden Commander Armor Set.
  2. Return to Ostagar - get swords and shields for Cailan's Arms Set.
  3. Circle Tower - additional attributes for progression. I would make sure to have Mana Clash or be close to getting it, for this quest.
  4. Your preferred quests

Full Build Setup

In this section, I will go with in-depth explanations of each important selection for attributes, talents, and skills. This will give you a better understanding of what role each decision will have on your overall build. The explanations can also be used to better decide your picks for optimizations

Attributes

In this section, I would like to go through the recommended attributes for Arcane Warrior Spirit Healer Build. You will be required to pick them every level up, so optimizing and not wasting any of them will prove vital for the build.

Attribute Description
Magic - at least +2 every level up.
  • You will increase your spellpower, meaning that enemies cannot resist your spells, even if they are bosses.
  • You will deal more damage both with spells and later on with your physical weapon.
  • Indirectly improves Attack stat that improves your hit chance. You will need a lot of magic to increase this.
Constitution - +1 occasionally, stop at 16-20 A little Constitution is needed as you will still want to survive some heavier attacks or when being overwhelmed.
Willpower - +1 on level up, stop at 25-30 For the build, willpower will play a crucial role, compared to other caster builds. You will use MP to activate sustained abilities but also cast spells. So limiting it will greatly diminish your capabilities in overall combat and support roles.
Need help with level-by-level attribute/talent progression? For my supporters on Ko-Fi or Patreon, I offer attribute picks on each level, for optimal progression.

Skills

The goal in my opinion is to get Combat Training and Coercion to a maximum. This will cover all the aspects that the main character would need in my opinion.

Skill Level Description
Coercion 4 Allows to overcome various dialogues, finish quests earlier, or avoid unnecessary combat.
Pickpocket 1 Access to one of the most lucrative quests in the game in terms of gold rewards.
Combat Training  4 Improves mana regeneration, and casting while under attack.
Tactics 2 Unlocks more slots, for the situations when you are controlling another character.

Arcane Warrior skills

Specializations

Okay, so the build core is 2 Specializations. When playing the game for the first time you will have access to neither. But there are ways to unlock all of them if you are curious, check the internet for that.

Specialization Description
Arcane Warrior The powerful and unique mage specialization allowing to wear heavy armor based on the Magic attribute. Moreover, with Combat Magic talents you can add this attribute to increase weapon damage and cast some spells while wielding a sword.
Spirit Healer As you will be using a lot of sustained abilities your mana pool will become negligible. Moreover, as a tanky character, you will have strong defenses against enemies. This leaves your HP pool as an excellent source of spellcasting.

So how I would recommend picking them? I am a fan, of first going with Arcane Warrior. Just using Heavy Armor early in the game, will help to pull away enemies from your tank, so that it would not get overwhelmed.

After that, you can slowly transition to a playstyle with sword + shield and spellcasting. This is mainly because the second specialization becomes accessible at level 14 - Spirit Healer. This is when you can access all of its talents.

Save up 4 Talent points for level 14. This way you can instantly pick all the Spirit Healer spells you need - instantly.

Talents and Spells

So this is one of the most important aspects of the builds, as picking good spells will make your combat much easier. Check this list for spells that can be cast without sheathing weapons.

Need help with level-by-level attribute/talent progression? For my supporters on Ko-Fi or Patreon, I offer attribute picks on each level, for optimal progression.

Arcane Warrior Tree

Get all the talents. They will maximize your resistance, damage, and armor.

arcane warrior talents

Spell Description
Combat Magic The core spell of the build it will allow you to increase the weapon damage based on your magic attribute,
Aura of Might Additional bonuses to the most important stats for Arcane Warrior.
Shimmering Shield It adds huge bonuses to various magic elemental resistances. However, to use it effectively you will need good gear, which is covered in the equipment section.
Fade Shroud A further bonus to improve mana regeneration and a chance to dodge attacks.

Spirit Healer Tree

Spell Description
Group Heal One of the main active spells that the build will use to ensure all the allies survive.
Revival Can be used to revive allies when they get downed in battle.
Lifeward See an ally close to death? This spell is an effective way to heal them and can be used on yourself
Cleansing Aura The goal of this build, that make you a true support character. With constant healing pulses your allies will be able to withstand more damage and survive difficult encounters. Be sure to have good gear to counteract the large mana drain.

Mage

Spell Description
Arcane Bolt Can be used to inflict fast damage when you need to finish off an enemy. Moreover, this is the first spell you obtain, so not many choices to avoid it.

Primal Tree

Arcane warrior blood mage primal tree

Path of Stone Tree

Spell Description
Rock Armor One of the core passives improving the armor value of the build.

Creation Spells

These spells will play a crucial role in making the build effective at playing a support role.

Healing Tree

I would also think of an option of delaying this tree for Mana Clash if you have or plan to have another healer like Wynne. The instant mage and demon kills are very valuable and make multiple fights easier.

Spell Description
Heal A good progression option to heal allies when they are under heavy attack. However, it will be phased out by Group Heal, which gives a stronger effect.
Rejuvenate Mainly taken for progression
Regeneration Provides a substantial regeneration bonus over time.

Glyphs Tree

Spell Description
Glyph of Paralysis This is an excellent control spell that can be used to disable a single enemy. It can also be combined with a Glyph of Repulsion to create a huge explosion and paralyze multiple enemies. Sadly, this has friendly fire.
Glyph of Warding Gives a decent defense bonus. Overall I would use it on some choke points where you will be handling incoming monsters that will most likely attack you or the tank.
Glyph of Repulsion By itself, this is a strong spell that can be used to stagger or knock back multiple enemies. Moreover, together with Glyph of Paralysis, you can create a combo explosion to disable multiple enemies.

Nature Tree

Spell Description
Spell Wisp A very important spell that will improve spellpower and in turn improve weapon damage and attack values.

Heroism Tree

Spell Description
Heroic Offense Gives a significant attack bonus, making it easier to land attacks. This is a valuable spell for Arcane Warrior, which has a mediocre hit chance and addresses one of its main problems.
Heroic Aura Situationally useful to shrug off enemy ranged attacks but I would not prioritize it.
Heroic Defense Improves various defensive stats.
Haste If taking this tree, this is the goal - having improved attack speed for the whole party will prove valuable, improving overall performance.

Spirit Spells

Mana Drain Tree

This tree is an expensive investment, and I would debate how early or late you should need it. Once I started using Mana Clash on creatures from the Fade and mages, this made it so easy and addicting. The strongest enemies in the game get either obliterated or heavily damaged.

I would prioritize this or Heroism Tree, depending on your playstyle.

Spell Description
Mana Drain Progression spell
Mana Cleanse Progression spell
Spell Might Very valuable spell, if you have mana capacity as it will improve weapon damage and spell success chance.
Mana Clash One of the most powerful spells when dealing with enemy casters. It can destroy many of them with a single cast. Be sure to have high spellpower and sufficient mana for maximum damage.

Equipment

This is another important pillar of Arcane Warrior build, as good gear will make or break it. To be fair, due to the nature of the game and various story progression paths, it's hard to recommend a single-gear path.

In this section, you will find the gear that should be used with the build. Generally, the lower the item is in the table the lower its priority

Weapons

Item Description
Maric's Blade iconMaric’s Blade The idea of this blade is to use it together with Cailan’s Shield to get Cailan’s Arms set. Will greatly boost mana regeneration. Using it will guarantee that you can maintain the Cleansing Aura.
Spellweaver iconSpellweaver Provides a +5 magic bonus. Great for this type of build where you cast magic abilities often
Duncan's blade iconDuncan’s Sword Provides Medium mana regeneration
The veshialle iconThe Veshialle If for some reason you find yourself more doing physical hits than casting magic, get this weapon. It outmatches any other single-handed weapon from 60 magic/strength.

Shield

Item Description
cailan's shield iconCailan’s Shield Use this shield with Maric’s Blade for an increased stamina/mana regeneration bonus. Get this shield in Return to Ostagar DLC
Fade Wall iconFade Wall Boost to Stamina and mana regeneration one of the best shields for builds using Magic and sword attacks.
warden tower shield iconWarden Tower Shield Gives a mana regeneration bonus that you can obtain in Warden’s Keep DLC.
bulwark of the true king iconBulwark of the True King The shield comes with the Ultimate Edition of the game and can be used early in the game. Provides adequate stats bonuses to armor, willpower, and defense
eamons shield iconEamon's Shield A decent early shield that you can get in Redcliffe Castle. Boosts both defense and mana pool

Helm

Item Description
Helm of Honnleath iconHelm of Honnleath The best helmet in the Dragon Age Origins game all around. Get it in Stone Prisoner DLC
Executioner's Helm iconExecutioner’s Helm Boosting stamina/mana will allow you to have more sustainable abilities active.
Free scout arming cap iconLongrunner’s Cap Generally, it is reserved for rogues, but 0.5 mana regeneration is hard to pass.
The libertarian's Cowl iconThe Libertarian's Cowl Gives defense and bonuses to stamina regeneration.

Armor

Item Description
warden commander armor iconWarden Commander Armor Use it for the Warden Commander Armor set. The stamina boost is substantial and allows you to cast additional 1 or 2 spells.
Evon's The great mail iconEvon the Great’s Mail Counts toward Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale armor set. Provides larger bonuses than base armor
Wade's SUperior heavy dragonscale armor iconWade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Armor If you cannot afford Evon the Great’s Mail, this is a perfect alternative that you get by crafting from Wade

Gloves

Item Description
Warden commander gloves iconWarden Commander Gloves Best gloves to use for Warden Commander Armor set.
Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Gauntlets iconWade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Gauntlets Use it for Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale armor set.

Boots

Item Description
Warden commander boots iconWarden Commander Boots You get these boots in Warden’s Keep DLC. They are the best boots with Warden Commander Armor set.
Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Boots iconWade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale Boots Use it together with other Wade's Superior Heavy Dragonscale armor set items.
Cailan's Greaves Excellent greaves that give a significant boost to hit evasion.
Fade striders iconFade Striders Excellent boots that you can obtain very early in the game.

Amulets

Item Description
The spellward iconThe Spellward One of the best amulets as it increases the mana pool for more sustained abilities but adds a chance to dodge and significant spell resistance.
Pearl of Anointed iconPearl of the Anointed +1 to all attributes, great amulet for the start of the game.
Shaper's Amulet Additional willpower is great to improve the mana pool for more sustained spells.
Mark of vigilance iconMark of Vigilance Adds spell resistance and defense to avoid enemy attacks.

Belts

Item Description
Andruil's blessing iconAndruil’s Blessing The best belt in the game provides a large boost to all stats
Sash of forbidden secrets iconSash of Forbidden Secrets Only accessible if you finish The Golems of Amgarrak DLC. This is a truly powerful belt for casters and this Arcane Warrior Build.
Cinch of skillful maneuvering iconCinch of Skillful Maneuvering A powerful belt that gives a flat 10% chance to dodge enemy attacks.
destructionist's belt icon Destructionist's Belt Boost spellpower and mana regeneration. A decent alternative until you get Andruil’s blessing

Rings

Item Description
lifegiver iconLifegiver Boosts your survivability and HP pool for spell-casting
Key to the city iconKey to the City One of the best rings in the game. It gives +2 to all attributes. Can be obtained in Orzammar
the lucky stone iconThe Lucky Stone Improves all attributes resulting in higher spellpower and more mana.
wicked oath iconThe Wicked Oath +1 mana regeneration which is amazing early in the game. Still the bonuses to backstabs and criticals are better used for rogues later in the game
harvest festival ringHarvest Festival Ring A decent ring that can be used to improve your weapon hits in the mid-game.
ring of study iconRing of Study A decent ring that can be used to improve the main stat of the arcane warrior build.

How to use the Build

In this section, I would like to go through some general tips on how to correctly utilize the build.

Main mechanics

In this part, I would like to go through the core mechanics of the build. Using them you can construct your preferred playstyle and utilize everything that the various talent and equipment picks have to offer.

Sustained Spells

So the art of this build is to correctly use Sustained spells to fully utilize your mana pool. As AW Spirit Healer you will have to fine-tune the amount of available mana and what you can use for spellcasting. Let's start with spells that I think are mandatory to run:

  1. Combat Magic - well this will ensure that your sword attacks deal sufficient damage.
  2. Spell Wisp - a simple and cheap spell that will improve everything for the Arcane Warrior Build.
  3. Cleansing Aura - the true healing source for your build, as it will constantly release healing pulses.
  4. Haste - later in the game, you can stack this with another mage. However, if you do not have other ones casting it, I would then prioritize this higher.

I try to maintain 50% of free mana so that you could cast a few healing spells if needed. Going above this threshold will require to chug lyrium potions too often. In addition, there are some optional sustained spells, that I might use depending on the situation:

  1. Spell Might - increases spellpower and in turn your hit chance, heal amount, etc. I would turn it on after I have used up my mana fully and do not plan on using Lyrium potions.
  2. Shimmering Shield - use this for more difficult encounters. Gives huge bonuses to elemental resistances, armor, and physical resistances. However, it will drain mana fast, so be ready to use Lyrium potions.
  3. Rock Armor - Improves armor. Overall, you will already have high values of it, so I would not put much emphasis on it.

Maintaining Mana and Sustained Spells

For this build to be effective in prolonged combat, you will have to address mana management. Two sustained abilities will greatly diminish it - Cleansing Aura and Shimmering Shield. Just one of these can be addressed by using mana/stamina regeneration from items:

If you want to also use spellcasting or both of the mentioned spells together, Lyrium potions are mandatory. Otherwise, when mana reaches 0 the spells are disabled. However, this could be intentional, especially before your allies take care of most of the adds or heavy-hitting foes.

Ensuring high Attack

As an Arcane Warrior with a Sword and Shield, you will be using your sword to hit enemies. This is quite obvious however, it comes with a main problem - low hit chance. This can be addressed by having a high Attack value. Here is how you can increase it:

  • Invest into Dexterity - although this is obvious, it does not synergize well with the build, as your main stat is Magic.
  • Magic - this is the main stat that improves spellpower and in turn weapon damage, spell damage, heal power, and hit chance.
  • Spell Wisp - gives spellpower that increases Attack.
  • Spell Might - improves spell power that increases Attack
  • Heroic Offense - an excellent spell that can be used at the start of the combat before the weapon is drawn to buff yourself.

Using Control Spells

Most of the game will revolve around you utilizing various control spells at your disposal. Here is what you should be aware of:

  • Glyph of Paralysis + Glyph of Repulsion create a huge explosion that can paralyze multiple enemies. It will also hit allies so be careful of that. You can still use those spells by themselves as they can cover choke points or disable key targets.

Enemy Mages

One of the main and most destructive enemies in the game (besides Templars) is Mages. They can cast Fireball, apply Hexes, or freeze you or your allies. For this reason, I recommend taking Mana Clash.

In most cases, it will instantly destroy enemy casters if they have full mana. So use it the moment you see a caster enemy. It also works on enemies that might have mana, like Fade creatures, even though many of them don't use spells.

Sheathed casting or not?

So the main problem with Arcane Warrior is that many spells will force you to sheath your weapon. This is problematic as it slows down you in combat, and can mean life or death. For this reason, most of the spells that I recommend can be cast with weapons drawn.

However, if you are curious and maybe want to land a Fireball or two, you could get it and cast it just when the combat starts. This is when the weapon is not yet drawn, and you can inflict damage, aggro enemies and then use the spells that I recommend.

Healing allies

The last core part of the build is utilizing the wide array of heals available. This is what makes this a true Paladin build. Let's go through how and when you should use them:

  • Heal - I would recommend using this in the early game or when Group Heal is on cooldown. Otherwise, you have more cost-efficient choices.
  • Group Heal - the main healing option, especially in harder fights. The only downside is it's long cooldown.
  • Regeneration - this is an extremely cost-efficient healing option. Use it more or less always, especially on characters that are being targeted by enemies - like tanks or mages.
  • Cleansing Aura - the ultimate sustained healing spell, that will release waves of healing. It does become weaker the further your allies are, so be aware of that.

Early Game Combat

For the early game, you will be playing a normal mage, that concentrates on control:

  • Glyph of Paralysis + Glyph of Repulsion can be used on a group of enemies. Just be sure that your allies are not standing close to the explosion.
  • Glyph of Repulsion is perfect for covering choke points or cast on a caster so that melee enemies coming close would get pushed back.
  • Arcane Bolt is an excellent bread-and-butter spell to use whenever it is not on cooldown
  • Heroic Offense should be used at the start of the combat to increase weapon hit chance.

Late Game Combat

  • Mana Clash is a priority if you see a mage - just destroy it. It also works on creatures from the Fade.
  • As you will access Cleansing Aura your mana regeneration will be impaired. Be sure to stock up on Lyrium potions to be used in heavier fights.
  • Spell Might can be activated once you use up your Mana and you see the fight just needs to finish a few stragglers. This way you improve your attack chance without much effort.
  • Group Heal is a very powerful healing spell, and once you see that a few allies have lost some HP activate it.
  • Regeneration can be cast whenever an ally is about to be attacked by enemies, even if HP is still high. The total heal amount is substantial and you want not to waste any ticks.
  • Use Heroic Offense at the start of the combat, to ensure you land hits when they are needed to clear enemies. This will also overcome its limitation of being cast with the weapon sheathed as initially it takes a second or two before the weapon draw animation is finished.
  • Haste is a very powerful spell. Goog thing is that you can double its effect with another mage also casting it.

Conclusion

This post covered in-depth how to build Arcane Warrior Spirit Healer Build for Dragon Age: Origins. It is a very powerful setup offering a Paladin-like playstyle - strong healing options and respectable frontline capabilities.

Feel free to leave feedback below

Discussion

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Post author zanuffas avatar zanuffas
Gamestegy Founder. I have been writing game guides and builds for 4 years. I like to push myself to create something wonderful for the readers!