Best Rogue builds. Complete guide - weapons, skills, tactics

Best Rogue builds. Complete guide - weapons, skills, tactics - Dragon Age: Origins (DAO)

By zanuffas
Last updated:

In this post, I will be covering Rogue class. I will talk mainly about melee builds that use dual-wielding (DW). The guide goes into great detail on how to maximize your assassin build.

You will easily take out any enemies on Nightmare if you follow this post.

Early Game up to levels 7-9

As you can guess it is important what decisions you make early into the game. However, I am here to help with some of the heavy lifting for you

Character Creation

When creating a new character for Rogue build I recommend these things:

  • My suggestion is to start as a human. You get 15 Dexterity and 15 Cunning. Of course, other Races: dwarves and elves also work, but they will have one or two points less in these important attributes
  • For skills, it is a bit trickier. If you start as a Human or Dwarf Noble get Pickpocketing This will later unlock some additional side quests with large gold rewards. Dwarf Commoner, City Elf, and Dalish Elf should get Combat Training to unlock offensive talents.
  • I recommend getting Deft Hands and Dual-Weapon Training. The first talent allows unlocking the chest early in the game. The second boosts your dual-wielding abilities.

Where to invest the ability points?

This part is quite tricky for Rogue. At the start of the game, your damage depends on Dexterity and Strength. However, after we get a specific passive talent Lethality. It will change from Strength to Cunning.

So my suggestion is: get 18 Strength, including the +4 bonus from Fade Quest (you will need it to wear the best armors in the game). After that, you can start splitting your points between Dexterity (it should take priority in low levels) and Cunning

What talents and spells should I be getting?

For the beginning of the game here are my recommendations:

  • Improved Tools
  • Below the Belt
  • Deadly Strike
  • Lethality

I left out one talent which I think is optional – Stealth. I do not use it as much. However, you may want to think about it. You can invest one point and try it out. Keep in mind at level 4 it becomes much better.

Did you forget about Skills?

As you progress through the game you will obtain more skill points. I recommend investing 3 points into Coercion. Your natural investment in Cunning will cover the last one.

Then of course Combat Training to unlock better dual-wielding abilities. Get it to the maximum

As mentioned before I also recommend getting one point into Pickpocketing for the main character. This will unlock additional side quests.

Tactics – are optional. I do not recommend it as you will probably be mostly micro-managing your character, so having AI handle it seems like a waste.

Progressing through the game

You are free to choose whatever way you want to progress through the story. However, for the maximum value, I recommend these priorities:

  1. Circle of Tower quest – you will get a passive boost to your attributes. For example +4 to strength. This will mean that you will need to invest less into it to wear the good gear

So let’s move to the juicy parts

Rogue Assassin Build

This build sounds simple, however, you can expect to deal crazy amounts of damage to the enemies. The only thing that you need to do is position yourself correctly.

Assassin rogue build dao stats

As you can see the build will have 80 Cunning, 50 Dexterity, and will deal tremendous critical/backstab damage.

Attributes

You will have to concentrate on three attributes. However, the rest can be skipped: Constitution, Magic, Willpower.

  • Strength – 18, this includes the +4 bonus of Circle of Magi Fade quest (you will need 20, but you should get +2 from gear bonuses)
  • Dexterity – After you reach 30, stop investing in it. This will be enough to get all the required talents.
  • Cunning – invest everything else here. It will boost your damage, and increase your Coercion skill, and lock-picking ability. Everything that Rogue needs.

Specializations

Here you have several options. I recommend having: Assassin and Duelist.

However, if you do not have Bard in your party take the Bard specialization instead of Duelist. The reason is that you and your party will get large offensive bonuses from one of the songs.

rogue assassin specializations build dao

It does not matter which one you take first. However, with the Bard specialization, the Song of Courage will be available at level 10, so your party can enjoy its boons early on.

Talents

This section will cover what talents you should be choosing to maximize the capabilities of the Rogue Assassin build.

Here is my recommendation for the abilities:

Rogue Tree

If you have another rogue character (for Example Leliana) in the group you can skip Improved Tools and Mechanical Expertise.

Rogue tree talents

Lethality is the most important talent in this tree. It will change weapon damage calculation so that Cunning will be used instead of Strength if the latter is lower.

Assassin Tree

This tree will be extremely useful to you. You will get a Mark of Death which will allow dealing additional damage. Moreover, your passive abilities will also increase the damage that you deal.

Assassin ability tree rogue build

So each invested point into this tree pays off.

Dual Weapon Tree

For this tree, you will need to consider a few things. I recommend getting Dual-Weapon Expert and Dual-Weapon Mastery as an optional investment.

Dual weapon tree tlaents Rogue build

Punisher will allow you to deal large amounts of damage because it can also deal with critical hits.

The main ability to have in mind is Momentum. It increases your attack speed drastically. However, keep in mind, that you should only use it if the mage in your party does not have Haste activated. Otherwise, you will have your attack speed slowed (this is a game bug). Read more about it Haste + Momentum bug.

Bard tree (if you skip Duelist)

Here, my recommendation is to get Song of Courage

This song is extremely useful both for you and your party. Especially if you have two additional physical damage-dealing members.

Bard ability tree rogue build

The Song of Courage will allow you to maximize your offensive capabilities. However, you will lose some stamina and will not be able to use Mark of Assassin or Punisher as often.

Equipment

With Rogue build, you will want to maximize your damage, critical/backstab damage, dexterity, and cunning. The gear recommended will revolve around these stats and attributes

Weapons

Equip any of these two suggested daggers. The ones at the top are better.

Item Details
The Edge Has two rune slots and also provides the largest bonus to damage out of all daggers
The Rose's Thorn iconThe Rose’s Thorn This dagger is quite expensive and can be bought in Orzammar. However, it gives all the bonuses a rogue build needs
Duncan's Dagger iconDead Thaig Shanker Obtainable with Stone Prisoner DLC. Provides +5 to Cunning.
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

Armor

In the late game, you have a few options for the best Rogue armor.

Item Details
The Felon's Coat iconBattledress of the Provocateur It outperforms The Felon's Coat by a small margin giving a 50-point base stamina increase.
The Felon's Coat iconThe Felon’s Coat Boosts dexterity, increasing your damage. It will also increase stamina regeneration, allowing it to sustain Momentum for much longer.
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 for this build.
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.

Helm

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
Free scout arming cap iconQuicksilver Arming Cap Gives +2 to Cunning. Your main stat that boosts damage.
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

Boots

 

Item Details
cadash stompers iconCadash Stompers Equip these if your Warden will have 22 strength
Silverhammer's Tackmasters iconSilverhammer’s Tackmasters Gives +2 to Dexterity. Best boots for the Rogue in terms of damage. However, has low armor
Silverhammer's Tackmasters iconWade’s Superior Drakeskin Boots You can also wear them without Wade's Superior Drakeskin armor set as they give bonus Dexterity.
Bard's dancing shoes iconBard’s Dancing Shoes One of the best light boots in the game. Provide a large boost to the defense allowing to avoid more attacks
Dalish Boots iconDalish Boots Cheap boots, that provide +3 defense. This allows you to evade more attacks

Gloves

There are many options for gloves. Generally, I prefer to have increased backstab damage if I do not go for Wade's Superior Drakeskin armor set

Item Details
light gloves iconRed Jenny Seekers Gives +15% to critical and backstab damage.
light gloves iconBackhands Similar to Red Jenny Seekers, however, gives only +10% to backstab and critical damage
light gloves iconWade’s Superior Drakeskin Gloves Give's +1 to Dexterity. Best to wear with Wade's Superior Drakeskin armor set, but can be worn alone
Wade's Superior Drakeskin GlovesAngled Strikers These gloves are on the same level as the Dalish Gloves.
dalish gloves iconDalish Gloves Use these gloves together with Dalish Leather armor set

Amulets

Unfortunately, there are not many options here. The High Regard of House Dace is the best amulet but may be too overpowered.

Item Details
The high Regard of House dace amulet iconThe High Regard of House Dace You could call this an 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

Belts

My recommendation here would be Andruil’s Blessing because you are a main character and will deal large amounts of damage.

Item Details
Andruil's blessing iconAndruil’s Blessing The best belt in the game provides a large boost to all stats
destructionist's belt icon Guildmaster's Belt Gives +3 Cunning. Available early in the game through DLC.
Cinch of skillful maneuvering iconCinch of Skillful Maneuvering You get this belt after you finish Witch Hunt DLC. So it may not be accessible to everyone.
Dalish Hunter's Belt iconDalish Hunter's Belt This will increase Warden's stamina regeneration allowing him to use more active abilities.

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 Rogue
blood ring iconDusk Ring Decreases Strength by one, however, gives Cunning +3
harvest festival ringHarvest Festival Ring Obtained in Stone Prisoner DLC. Gives +2 dexterity and strength.
the lucky stoneThe Lucky Stone Gives +1 to all attributes and is also available early in the game.

Tactics

In this section, I will cover tactics that you can use to maximize the offensive capabilities of your Rogue in Dragon Age Origins.

If you have taken Stealth then I suggest, starting each fight with it. Get behind enemy lines, and target archers/mages.

Once you are ready use your tank to initiate the fight. Now you can easily concentrate on enemies and take them out from the back.

Mark of Death - I recommend using this skill whenever an enemy has a yellow or darker name. The normal ones die too fast

Momentum - try to keep it active all the time, it will drastically increase your attack speed

Punisher - Your main offensive ability, use it to deal a large amount of damage in a few strikes. Use it whenever it is not on a cooldown.

Conclusion

I hope this Assassin Rogue build will help you with your Dragon Age Origins playthrough. Feel free to leave a message if you think I have missed something.

 

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Discussion

Anonymous

Thank you for this guide.

I just got back in the game and early levels feel easier with this guide compared when I played the game years ago.

Thank you!

Anonymous

Wow, how can one person be so completely and utterly wrong all in one short article?!?

Yes... that is puzzling, how can they be wrong and write such a wonderful article :)

Anonymous

Thank you!!

Anonymous

This is great for base game, but what about Awakening onwards? How would you recommend to build for that?

Anonymous

Thanks for all the guides you're writing for this game :D helping me out a ton

Anonymous

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this great guide - it's a huge help!

Thanks!

Anonymous

same

Cheers!

Anonymous

can i pick all the trees? Or do I have to choose between one or two? my question is if i will have enough talent points to fill these trees (assassin, duel, dual wield, etc..)

Hey! You won't be able to fill all of them, unfortunately. However, throughout the game you will get about 25-30 or even more talent points. So you should be able to maximize everything that I suggest by the end of the game.

Anonymous

Thanks!

great builds you made here on the site, I'm using them all for my first playthrough :)

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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!