Best Leliana builds. Complete Guide - Dragon Age: Origins (DAO)

By zanuffas
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In this post I would like to go through some Leliana builds that I would like to suggest. These are both ranged and melee builds. So you can pick whichever you prefer.

You meet Leliana in Lothering, early in your journey. She is an Orlesian bard which brings some spiciness to your party. I would recommend playing her DLC Leliana’s Song after you have some chats with her, which expands her background and why she is who she is. 

Ranged Archer Bard build

Attributes

Leliana build attributes

As Leliana is a rogue, your main attributes are dexterity and cunning. Moreover, to wear some of the best armors at the end game you will need strength. I suggest this investment into attributes:

  • First priority - Strength 20 points. You will need it to wear end-game light armor. 18 points is also an option if you get bonus strength from other equipment: belts, rings, amulets.
  • Second priority - Dexterity – get it to 34 points. You will need it to use the best bows in the game and to get all the required talents. It will also boost your attack, damage, and defense
  • Third priority - Cunning - after you have 34 dexterity, put all points into this stat. Cunning will boost your songs increasing the bonuses that they provide. Moreover, after you get Lethality talent it will boost your damage directly.

You can also invest in the constitution for more survivability, but I view it more as a waste of points for this type of character as it should be avoiding direct combat.

Skills

Leliana skills

For Skills you main priority is to have:

  • Master Combat training, this row will provide: bonuses to attack, armor, and higher tier weapon talents.
  • After that invest to 3-4 levels into Tactics so that AI could comfortably use all the needed talents.
  • What is left you can put into Survival. This will give some additional nature resistance.

Specializations

Leliana bard build specializations

Leliana comes with Bard specialization by default. This is beneficial for us as we can start using songs early in the game to get their benefits for the whole party. Moreover, it gives +1 Cunning.

The second specialization is Assassin. We choose it because it provides +2 dexterity and increased critical chance. This will benefit almost all of Leliana's attacks and talents.

You can also go for Ranger specialization. You would then have an additional companion in the battle: Wolf, Bear, etc. However, they do not use their skills by themselves. Due to this, I do not recommend them as they need additional micromanaging.

Talents and spells

Leliana the Bard build talents

Assassin Tree

I suggest investing in this tree as the lowest priority. Even though Mark of Death is an excellent ability, there are others more important ones. Due to this reasoning only invest if you have other abilities that will be mentioned later covered.

Bard Tree

This is your main support tree. The amount of invested talent points depend on what party composition you have:

  • 2 or more mages in the party – Song of Valor – will benefit from higher mana regeneration
  • 3 physical damage dealers, like rogues and warriors, use Song of Courage. It will provide increased damage, attack, and critical chance benefitting them directly

Rogue Tree

My guess would be that Leliana will be the only character with high Lockpicking ability in your party at the time you get her. Due to this, I recommend getting Device Mastery as soon as possible. This will allow you to unlock chests for additional loot and gold.

Get Lethality as it will boost your damage. How this works: generally the damage for rogues is calculated from strength and dexterity. However, with this ability instead of strength cunning will be used if it is higher.

Archery Tree

These talents will provide the biggest boost to damage. I suggest getting all abilities. Even though you will not use all of them, the last ones in the tree will change Leliana's usefulness drastically. Master Archer is extremely good passive ability boosting your stats and abilities all around.

Arrow of Slaying will deal tremendous damage to single targets, great for taking out mages and other archers.

Scattershot will do AOE stun. Due to this, it is a great ability to control the battlefield especially when there are many enemies.

Allocating ability points

Here is how I would allocate ability points for Leliana:

Order Skill Description
1 Melee Archer Allows archer to shoot effectively, without interruptions, when being attacked.
2 Mechanical Expertise Allows, to unlock more difficult chests and better trap detection
3 Aim Leliana's main sustained ability. It increases damage, attack, armor penetration, and critical chance. However, the rate of fire decreases
4 Deadly Strike Mainly take this for progression
5 Lethality Instead of strength, Cunning will be sued for damage calculation if it is higher.
6 Device Mastery Allows to unlock the most difficult chests and gives best trap detection
7 Distraction (optional) Mainly take this for progression
8 Song of Courage (optional) Only take this if your party will contain three physical damage dealing characters
9 Defensive Fire Mainly take this for progression
10 Master Archer Boosts the effectiveness of all Leliana's archery related abilities
11 Shattering Shot The shot is effective against strong enemies and weakens their armor value
12 Suppressing Fire Mainly take this for progression
13 Scattershot This ability will AOE stun a group of enemies and will also deal damage. Great for when a start fights and enemies are packed in a group
14 Crippling Shot Mainly take this for progression
15 Critical Shot Shoots a critical hit and increases armor penetration
16 Arrow of Slaying This ability will deal large amounts of damage and do a guaranteed critical shot. Leliana should use it on strong enemies.

Gear

In this section, I will cover what gear should you use for Leliana

Weapons

Item Details
marjorlaine's recurve iconMarjolaine's Recurve I recommend this bow the most because it provides bonus cunning. This is useful as it will improve Bard Songs and increase party effectiveness
The Sorrows of Arlathan iconThe Sorrows of Arlathan An extremely good bow, that gives a large boost to attack speed. Unfortunately, it does not provide any cunning bonus.
Far song iconFar Song Another bow that you can get for Leliana. Unfortunately, it is fairly expensive, but will increase her personal damage greatly compared to Marjolaine's Recurve
Falon'Din's Reach iconFalon'Din's Reach This bow can be obtained early in the game. You will only need to defeat a small dragon not needing to spend large amounts of sovereigns
bregan's bow iconBregan's Bow You can get this bow early in the game, so definitely use it with Leliana, to drastically increase her damage.

Helms

Item Details
Helm of Honnleath iconHelm of Honnleath The best helm in the game can be obtained with the Stone Prisoner DLC. Gives +2 to all attributes. So with the helmet, you can have Leliana with 18 strength to equip the best armors in the game.
Free scout arming cap iconQuicksilver Arming Cap Gives +2 to Cunning. Will increase the power of Leliana's songs and bow damage.
the long sight iconThe Long Sight This hat will increase Leliana's critical rate allowing her hits to deal more damage more often.
Free scout arming cap iconLongrunner’s Cap Provides additional stamina regeneration. Will allow using more bow skills
Free scout arming cap iconFree Scout Arming Cap Gives +2 to Dexterity. Not as good as the above ones, however, still useful to wear

Armors

Item Details
The Felon's Coat iconBattledress of the Provocateur It outperforms The Felon's Coat by a small margin giving a 50 points base stamina increase.
The Felon's Coat iconThe Felon’s Coat Boosts dexterity, stamina regeneration, allowing for more offensive skills to be used by Leliana
The Felon's Coat iconWade’s Superior Drakeskin Leather Armor I only recommend equipping this together with Wade's Superior Drakeskin armor set. The armor by itself provides a bonus to dexterity
The Felon's Coat iconShadow of the Empire Not as good as the others, because provides only +2 dexterity. Moreover, it gives additional strength that may not be as useful to Leliana
Dalish armor iconDalish Armor Great armor early in the game. Can be bought in Dalish Camp. Moreover, you can equip it with other items for the Dalish Leather armor set bonus.

Gloves

Item Details
repeater gloves iconRepeater Gloves Get these if you are not planning to use Wade's Superior Drakeskin armor set on Leliana. Use these gloves only with Haste + Aim. This will remove the Haste bug for archers, which slows them down too much.
Wade's Superior Drakeskin GlovesWade's Superior Drakeskin Gloves I only recommend equipping this together with Wade's Superior Drakeskin armor set if you want Leliana to use more active abilities.
dalish gloves iconDalish Gloves Use these gloves together with Dalish Leather armor set

Boots

Item Details
cadash stompers iconCadash Stompers Equip these if Leliana will have 22 strength or you do not use Wade's Superior Drakeskin armor set
Silverhammer's Tackmasters iconWade’s Superior Drakeskin Boots I only recommend equipping this together with Wade's Superior Drakeskin armor set if you want Leliana to use more active abilities.
Bard's dancing shoes iconBard’s Dancing Shoes One of the best light boots in the game. Provide a large boost to the defense.
Silverhammer's Tackmasters iconSilverhammer's Tackmasters Provides +2 dexterity. Due to this, they are good boots that you can buy at the Party Camp.
Dalish Boots iconDalish Boots Great early boots that you can obtain cheap in Dalish Camp. Use these boots together with Dalish Leather armor set

Belts

There are many options. The ones in the top are the best

Item Details
Andruil's blessing iconAndruil's Blessing One of the best belts in the game. unfortunately, it may be used by other characters, so check other suggestions.
destructionist's belt icon Guildmaster’s Belt The belt provides +3 Cunning, it will definitely be handy as it will increase Leliana's Songs effectiveness
Cinch of skillful maneuvering iconCinch of Skillful Maneuvering Equip this belt if you have finished Witch Hunt DLC. It provides +1 to all attributes
Longbowman's Belt iconLongbowman's Belt The belt can be easily bought in the Party Camp early in the game. It will boost Leliana's critical chance
Dalish Hunter's Belt iconDalish Hunter's Belt An alternative to Longbowman's Belt. I personally prefer this one as with increased stamina regeneration Leliana can use abilities more often

Amulets

There are not many options for Leliana in terms of what amulets she can wear.

Item Details
The high Regard of House dace amulet iconThe High Regard of House Dace

You could call this overpowered amulet. It gives a lot of cunning, stamina, stamina regeneration, etc. However, to get it you need to finish Golems of Amgarrak DLC.

Pearl of Anointed iconPearl of the Anointed +1 to all attributes, good all-around amulet
Mark of vigilance iconMark of Vigilance This amulet provides +6 defense. Great for avoiding enemy attacks. However, I put it at the lowest priority, due to the reason that I prefer more damage

Rings

Item Details
harvest festival ringHarvest Festival Ring Obtained in Stone Prisoner DLC. Gives bonus strength and dexterity. You can use it as an alternative to Helm of Honnleath to get bonus strength for the best armors in the game
Key to the city iconKey to the City Provides +2 to all attributes, found in Orzammar. Will greatly boost Leliana's overall effectiveness
blood ring iconDusk Ring Decreases Strength by one, however, gives Cunning +3
the lucky stoneThe Lucky Stone Gives +1 to all attributes, available early in the game.
wicked oath iconThe Wicked Oath
Gives +1 stamina regeneration in combat

Tactics

Leliana the bard build tactics

I suggest starting with Archer preset. From then you can update the abilities with this logic:

Sustainable abilities: Song of Valor or Courage and Aim should be always active. Scattershot should have high priority so that it would be used at the start of the battle to hit enemies nearby and stun them.

For Arrow of Slaying, there are two steps: Use it on an enemy that uses Magic or Ranged attacks. However, if there are no enemies like that then use it on any.

We leave Dirty Fighting as a method for Leliana to defend if an enemy comes close

For other abilities, I left them as default and should be used when there is available stamina

As you play the game feel free to change the tactics in a way that would benefit you and your party. Always experiment!

Dual Dagger Bard Build

When you meet Leliana in the Lothering Inn, she has a dagger equipped. When you play Leliana Song, she also specializes in daggers. So for those that want to have this bard as a dual-wielding rogue, this build is perfect. It also results in using mostly auto-attack which makes micromanaging easier

Attributes

leliana dual daggers build attributes

  • Dexterity – dexterity is needed to obtain talents and wear dagger weapons. For the best dagger The Rose’s Thorn you need 30 dexterity. Your aim should be 26-28, and try to get the rest from equipment bonuses.

  • Strength – 18. Needed for end-game armors. The best armors will need 20, but you can get the remaining two points from other gear.

  • Cunning – dump the rest of the points here. This will boost your bard song – Song of Courage. Moreover, with Lethality talent cunning will be used to increase your damage.

Skills

Leliana dual daggers build skills

Maximum Combat training. Regarding tactics, you will not need any investment unless you plan to use some active skills. Otherwise put points into what you prefer: poison-making or pickpocketing.

Specializations

Leliana dual dagger build specializationsYou will have Bard specialization unlocked from the start. The second one needs to be Assassin. It will provide a passive talent that will increase your damage based on the cunning that you have. And you will have a lot of cunning

Talents and Spells

Leliana dual daggers build talents

  • Unfortunately, you will have lost two points in Archery. But let’s make the best out of the situation. If you don’t have another rogue in the party for loot reasons I would suggest getting Device Mastery as a priority to unlock chests and detect/disarm traps

  • Then obtain Lethality, which will allow you to increase damage from cunning rather than strength.

  • From the Dual wielding tree, your priority is Momentum sustained ability. You can also invest in passive dual weapon expertise talents as I did. But do that later on in the game.

  • The song which you are aiming for is Song of Courage. It will increase damage, critical chance, and critical damage for party members. I would suggest using this if you have two other physical damage companions. If there are two mages, then switch to Song of Valor to boost their MP regeneration and save 2 talent points.

  • From the Rogue tree, it is also important to get Combat movement which will make you position yourself easier for backstabs. Coup de Grace is also great talent but I would only invest in it if you have free points

  • From the Assassin tree, your priority is Exploit Weakness. It will give a boost to damage based on your cunning.

Here is how I would progress with this Leliana build abilities:

Order Skill Description
1 Dual-Weapon Sweep This will be one of a few active abilities that Leliana will use
2 Mechanical Expertise Allows, to unlock more difficult chests and better trap detection
3 Flurry This will be one of a few active abilities that Leliana will use
4 Momentum It is an important sustained ability for Leliana. It will greatly increase her dual weapon attack speed.
5 Deadly Strike Mainly take this for progression
6 Lethality Instead of strength, Cunning will be sued for damage calculation if it is higher.
7 Device Mastery Allows to unlock the most difficult chests and gives best trap detection
8 Dual-Weapon Training This passive ability will remove the penalties for wielding dual daggers.
9 Distraction (optional) Mainly take this for progression
10 Song of Courage (optional) Only take this if your party will contain three physical damage dealing characters
11 Dual-Weapon Finesse This will boost Leliana's effectiveness when using dual weapons.
12 Dual-Weapon Expert The shot is effective against strong enemies and weakens their armor value
13 Combat Movement Mainly take this for progression
14 Mark of Death Leliana can use this ability to weaken enemies, allowing the group to kill them faster
15 Exploit Weakness Because Leliana will have high Cunning, this ability will provide bonus damage when she is backstabbing

Gear

Your priority is higher cunning and dexterity, which contribute to the Song's strength and your damage output. Backstab/Critical damage bonus is important. Stamina is not essential because you will not be using any active abilities (maybe Mark of Death from time to time).

For weapons use daggers in both hands, for higher attack speed. You will not use Dual Striking, so having an offhand large weapon is useless.

Weapons

Item Details

Duncan's Dagger iconDead Thaig Shanker

Obtainable with Stone Prisoner DLC. Provides +5 to Cunning so perfect to use with Lethality ability and to boost Leliana's songs strength

The Rose's Thorn iconThe Rose’s Thorn

This dagger is quite expensive and can be bought in Orzammar. However, it will greatly boost Leliana's melee damage

The Edge

Has two rune slots and also provides the largest bonus to damage out of all daggers

Duncan's Dagger iconDuncan’s Dagger

Large boost to dexterity, great against dragon fights due to bonus damage.

thorn of the dead gods iconThorn of the Dead Gods

Tier 2 version can be obtained in Lothering. Great value early in the game

Helmets

Item Details
Helm of Honnleath iconHelm of Honnleath It is one of the best helmets in the game. Provides +2 to all attributes. However, it requires 20 strength to equip
Free scout arming cap iconQuicksilver Arming Cap Gives +2 to Cunning. Will boost both Leliana's damage and song power
Free scout arming cap iconLongrunner’s Cap Provides additional stamina regeneration.
Free scout arming cap iconFree Scout Arming Cap Gives +2 to Dexterity. Not as good as the above ones, however, still useful to wear

Armors

Item Details
The Felon's Coat iconThe Felon’s Coat Boosts dexterity, increasing Leliana damage. It will also increase stamina regeneration, allowing to sustain Momentum for much longer.
The Felon's Coat iconBattledress of the Provocateur In this case Leliana is better off without Stamina bonus, so the armor is lower priority than The Felon’s Coat
The Felon's Coat iconWade’s Superior Drakeskin Leather Armor I only recommend equipping this together with Wade's Superior Drakeskin armor set if you want Leliana to use more active abilities. The armor by itself provides a bonus to dexterity
Dalish armor iconDalish Armor Great armor early in the game. Can be bought in Dalish Camp. Moreover, you can equip it with other items for the Dalish Leather armor set bonus.

Gloves

Item Details
Gloves of guile iconGloves of Guile These gloves are obtained close to the end of the game after the Landsmeet. They provide a large boost to armor penetration.
Red Jenny SeekersRed Jenny Seekers These globes will boost Leliana's backstab damage by 15%
Wade's Superior Drakeskin GlovesWade's Superior Drakeskin Gloves I only recommend equipping this together with Wade's Superior Drakeskin armor set if you want Leliana to use more active abilities.
Backhands iconBackhands These gloves will boost Leliana's backstab damage by 10%
dalish gloves iconDalish Gloves Use these gloves together with Dalish Leather armor set
Wade's Superior Drakeskin GlovesAngled Strikers These gloves are on the same level as the Dalish Gloves.

Boots

Item Details
cadash stompers iconCadash Stompers Equip these if Leliana will have 22 strength
Bard's dancing shoes iconBard’s Dancing Shoes One of the best light boots in the game. Provide a large boost to the defense.
Silverhammer's Tackmasters iconWade’s Superior Drakeskin Boots I only recommend equipping this together with Wade's Superior Drakeskin armor set if you want Leliana to use more active abilities.
Silverhammer's Tackmasters iconSilverhammer's Tackmasters Provides +2 dexterity. Due to this, they are good boots that you can buy at the Party Camp.
Dalish Boots iconDalish Boots Great early boots that you can obtain cheap in Dalish Camp. Use these boots together with Dalish Leather armor set
The lion's Paw iconThe Lion's Paw These boots will come with the Ultimate Edition. Moreover, they give bonus armor, which is extremely useful early in the game for dagger-wielding Leliana.

Belts

Item Details
destructionist's belt icon Guildmaster’s Belt As the Leliana build relies heavily on Cunning, this belt will definitely be handy to power up her Songs.
Andruil's blessing iconAndruil's Blessing One of the best belts in the game. unfortunately, it may be used by other characters, so check other suggestions.
Cinch of skillful maneuvering iconCinch of Skillful Maneuvering Equip this belt if you have finished Witch Hunt DLC. It provides +1 to all attributes
Dalish Hunter's Belt iconDalish Hunter's Belt Will increase Leliana's stamina regeneration allowing her to use more active abilities.

Amulets

Item Details

The high Regard of House dace amulet iconThe High Regard of House Dace

You could call this overpowered amulet. It gives a lot of cunning, stamina, stamina regeneration, etc. However, to get it you need to finish Golems of Amgarrak DLC.

Pearl of Anointed iconPearl of the Anointed

+1 to all attributes, good all-around amulet, that you get early in the game

Mark of vigilance iconMark of Vigilance

This amulet provides +6 defense. Great for avoiding enemy attacks. However, I put it at the lowest priority, due to the reason that I prefer more damage
Magister's Shield iconMagister's Shield Another amulet that provides bonus defense. however, it also decreases nature resistance. A good alternative to Mark of Vigilance if it is already in use

Rings

Item Details
Key to the city iconKey to the City Provides +2 to all attributes, found in Orzammar.
wicked oath iconThe Wicked Oath
One of the best rings available to a Leliana in terms of damage. It will boost backstab damage, stamina regeneration and give +1 to armor penetration
blood ring iconDusk Ring Decreases Strength by one, however, gives Cunning +3. It will greatly improve Leliana's damage and Songs
harvest festival ringHarvest Festival Ring Obtained in Stone Prisoner DLC.
the lucky stoneThe Lucky Stone Gives +1 to all attributes, available early in the game.
keeper's Ring iconKeeper’s Ring Can be obtained early in the game if your main character has Dalish Elf Origin.

Tactics

Leliana dual daggers build tacticsYou will have to always activate these abilities: Song of Courage/Valor and Momentum. Regarding Momentum and Mage skill Haste please check this explanation, as there is a bug when using them

Use Mark of Death on Elite enemies if you have the stamina to spare. Otherwise, let the AI handle other skills.

Conclusion

A good well rounded build for Leliana. It will allow you to support your party members with buffs and provide large damage.

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Discussion

Anonymous

I cannot find the 5th tactic on the Ranged Archer Bard build "Enemy: Target using ranged or magic attack." I can only see "Enemy: Using ranged or magic attack." What gives?

it could be that some tactics are only available as presets. Unfortunately, I currently do not have the game installed. But you can try using "Enemy: Using ranged or magic attack." instead

+1

Anonymous

Shattering Shot is already available at the time I got Leliana. I went directly for Suppressing Fire in the order you suggested for Archer build.

Anonymous

thanks for your guides, thay help a lot !

Glad to hear that!

Anonymous

Assasin' 2% crit bonus work only for melee damage... unfortunately

Ranger is a good one too, if u have a bloody mage or not a good tank in team ( and the only one good is Alistair), Summoning help the team giving another target to enemies.

For rest, very good guide, bless you for sharing it

Yes, that is true, Assassin crit only works on melee. Will update this

usually I have no good armor left for Leliana, so I just give the first Wade armor (not superior)

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