Best Archer Build - Complete guide

Best Archer Build - Complete guide - Dragon Age: Origins (DAO)

By zanuffas
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Many players enjoy playing as an archer. This class can greatly shine in Dragon Age Origins. Here I will cover a build that I think will be enjoyable for new and veteran players.

You have few companion options, however, their stats are not perfectly aligned and that could mean that for those who want to min-max, having your main character as an archer will result in an OP build.

As always you can expect gear, attributes, talents, and tactics recommendations to have the best archer build on your playthrough.

So let’s get into the details

Some details and tips before starting

To best utilize your build here are a few things that apply to most of the builds that I suggest:

Character Creation

It is fairly important what Race you choose for your build. Although all races can be archers some of them excel better at it.

  • The Human Rogue has the largest starting attributes 15 dexterity and Cunning. Dwarves and elves fall behind a little. However, in the long run, the difference is minuscule
  • Here is how I pick skills. 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.

Did you forget about Skills?

As you progress through the game you will obtain more skill points. I recommend investing 3 points into Coercion if you are a Rogue.

Skills dao archer build

Combat Training to unlock better Archery talents and increase some of your offensive stats.

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

Tactics – is optional and you will not have too many abilities. Still having at least 1 point will benefit you greatly if you micro-manage your companions.

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

Maximizing your group's potential

If your main character is an archer probably you will want to maximize all of its damage-related stats. Due to this, it is important to have Shale in the party.

Shale Rock mastery talents

Shale has a Rock Mastery aura. This buff provides +5% to ranged critical chance. Moreover, when Shale uses Rock Barrage the bonus is increased to +10% ranged critical chance.

That is not all. If you use Hurl Rock party aim speed also increases in total by -2 seconds.

So having Shale in the party will maximize everyone’s offensive capabilities especially if they are an archer. Of course, if you are the only ranged class in the party, feel free to test out if it fits your party composition.

Archer bugs

before playing an archer you need to know about a major bug. Contrary to what abilities say: Haste and Swift Salve decrease the attack speed of bow users. To fix this use the mod found here or use Repeater Gloves

Archer rogue build – Cunning based

This is an archer build that is probably the most overpowered. The idea is to have as large a ranged critical chance as possible so that your normal attack would constantly deal critical damage.

Archer cunning build stats

Unfortunately, some of the talents that archer has may seem important and strong, in reality, they are a waste of points, but we will get to that later.


For Rogue-based archer builds, you have these three main attributes:

  • Strength – you will need minimal investment into this attribute, for wearing better gear. My recommendation is 18 points (including Fade Quest +4 bonus). For some of the best armors in the game, you will need 20, but you will be getting at least +2 from the gear that you equip.
  • Dexterity 30 points. This is the minimum amount, you will 34 to wear some of the bows, but you should be getting at least +4 from gear. Otherwise, invest more based on the situation.
  • Cunning – this is the most important attribute of this archer build. It gives armor penetration, bonuses to lockpicking, higher damage, etc. Everything this type of build needs.


Here you have a few options. The main recommendation is to get Bard specialization (if you do not have another companion like Leliana in the group).

The second recommended specialization is Duelist. Although its talents are not important, it provides +2 Dexterity and +1 damage.

The third specialization (if you did not pick Bard) is Assassin. Unfortunately, the critical chance bonus is only for melee.

rogue assassin specializations build dao

I do not recommend Ranger specialization. Why is that? The pet can deal decent additional DPS, however, it requires some micromanaging (as it does not use skills by itself)


As with most of the builds, the cornerstone of it is the talents that you choose. I will go through each tree and write a short description of why you should select those abilities.

Rogue Tree

The idea is to get Lethality as soon as possible. However, before that, you still have some options.

Archer build rogue tree

I avoid Evasion (it interrupts your attacks). Stealth is optional and I do not use it as an archer.

Lockpicking (Deft Hands) is a great talent to put a few points. Of course, if you have other characters who already have an investment in it you are free to skip it.

Archery Tree

This tree is a fairly mixed bag. I recommend these abilities: Aim, Master Archer, and Scattershot

Archery tree talents archer build dao

Aim will increase your critical chance. Master Archer boosts all your talents and allows you to wear heavy armor (without penalty). Scattershot is AOE stun, especially great for crowd control.

You also have Arrow of Slaying. This is presented as a top-tier ability for Archer. Unfortunately, it has quite a long animation, and with correct buffs, you can out-damage this ability using normal attacks.

Of course, feel free to pick any other Archery talents, however, I recommend using them on Lieutenant or higher-tier enemies.

Duelist Tree

I recommend investing in this tree when you have everything else covered. The most worthwhile buff you get is from specialization passive points.

Duelist skills archer build dao

You can also get Dueling and activate it. It will buff your attack counteracting the medium investment to dexterity in the late game.

Bard Tree

Getting Bard specialization will unlock Song of Courage. This is all offensive sustained ability, increasing critical chance, damage, and attack – all you need for maximum DPS.

Bard ability tree rogue build

Try to get Song of Courage as soon as possible, recommended at level 10, when it first becomes available.

Assassin Tree

The only important skill here would be the Mark of Death.

archer build assassin tree dao

The other talents are only useful for backstabbing melee builds.

Power of Blood Tree

You unlock this tree in Warden’s Keep DLC. You will need to drink Alchemical Concoction. This vial is found in Solder’s Peak during the quest.

dao power of blood rogue

You will then unlock Tainted Blade active talent. This is an extremely powerful ability. It will boost your damage based on the Cunning that you have. To maximize its effectiveness you can create a separate set that you use to cast this ability.

Unfortunately, Tainted Blade will be removed during dialogues and cut scenes, so have that in mind.

Example progression

Here is how I would progress through the game:

Order Skill Description
1 Melee Archer You will want the Warden to have this ability as early as possible so that its ranged attacks will not be interrupted
2 Rapid Shot Early in the game, you can use this sustained ability. You will not have items that give a Rapid Aim effect, and you will not land many critical hits.
3 Deft Hands Allows to unlock easy chests and detect traps
4 Below the Belt We mainly take this for progression
5 Improved Tools Allows to unlock more difficult chests and detect harder traps
6 Shattering Shot A great early-game ability that will weaken an enemy's armor and ensure a successful shot
7 Deadly Strike We mainly take this for progression
8 Song of Valor Your first song, that you can use to boost party members' stamina and mana regeneration
9 Lethality With this ability, Cunning will be used for damage calculation instead of Strength if it is higher.
10 Distraction We mainly take this for progression
11 Song of Courage This ability will boost attack, damage, and a critical chance of everyone in the party.
12 Aim With this passive ability, Warden will be able to increase the damage of its shots and land critical hits more often. Use this together with Repeater Gloves to reduce the negative penalty to attack speed.
13 Defensive Fire We mainly take this for progression
14 Master Archer This passive ability boosts almost all Archery tree abilities, giving them additional bonuses
15 Suppressing Fire We mainly take this for progression
16 Scattershot AOE ability that can stun multiple enemies standing close together. Extremely powerful at the beginning of the encounter
17 Mark of Death Use this ability to weaken an enemy so that they would take additional damage from each hit.


As with almost all builds that I suggest the priority is damage. We already know what attributes and talents we need, so let’s get into the equipment details.


Item Details
The Sorrows of Arlathan iconThe Sorrows of Arlathan The best bow in the game, available after you finish The Witch Hunt DLC.
Far song iconFar Song Has two rune slots and also provides the largest bonus to damage out of all daggers
Falon'Din's Reach iconFalon'Din's Reach Has a rapid aim bonus. Can be found in Brecilian Ruins by killing a small dragon and looting its hoard
Longbow iconMage's Eye Provides a 3% ranged critical chance and bonus attack. Can be found in Haven
bregan's bow iconBregan's Bow A decent early bow. Nothing fancy as you get it for free


Item Details
The Felon's Coat iconThe Felon’s Coat Boosts dexterity, increasing your damage. It will also increase stamina regeneration. It is a bit better than the other options below
The Felon's Coat iconBattledress of the Provocateur Gives less dexterity, but increases base stamina. Moreover, provides a bonus to stamina regeneration
The Felon's Coat iconWade’s Superior Drakeskin Leather Armor I recommend taking this armor only if you will equip other set items: gloves and boots
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.


Item Details
the long sight iconThe Long Sight Gives +5% to ranged critical chance. Use it if you are going to maximize the number of critical hits
Helm of Honnleath iconHelm of Honnleath Overall best helm provides +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 iconFree Scout Arming Cap Gives +2 to Dexterity. Not as good as the above ones, however, still useful to wear


Item Details
Cadash stompers iconCadash Stompers Gives +2 dexterity and ranged critical chance, the best boots for an archer. However, you will need 22 strength to equip the item.
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 the set as they give bonus Dexterity.
Dalish Boots iconDalish Boots Great early boots that you can obtain cheap in Dalish Camp. Use these boots together with Dalish Leather armor set


Item Details
Repeater gloves iconRepeater Gloves These gloves minimize your attack animations to the lowest value. Use them to have extremely fast shots even with Aim activated. Can be found in Return to Ostagar DLC
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.
dalish gloves iconDalish Gloves Use these gloves together with the Dalish Leather armor set. The gloves by themself give +1 to dexterity.


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


Item Details
Andruil's blessing iconAndruil’s Blessing The best belt in the game provides a large boost to all stats
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.
Longbowman's Belt iconLongbowman's Belt Can buy in the camp, gives +2% to ranged critical chance
Guildmaster's belt iconGuildmaster’s Belt Gives +3 Cunning. Available early in the game through DLC.
Dalish Hunter's Belt iconDalish Hunter's Belt This is an alternative option if you want to have higher stamina regeneration early in the game.


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.
the lucky stoneThe Lucky Stone Gives +1 to all attributes, available early in the game.


The tactics are fairly simple for Archer build - target enemies in further ranks. This way you can take out fast other archers or mages.

Archer build tactics.JPG

So always have these abilities active: Aim and Song of Courage. Duelist is optional.

Use Scattershot whenever it is not on cooldown. Shattering Shot should be used if the enemy is higher tier.

Also, use Tainted Blade whenever possible, however, it can drain your HP fast.


I hope you enjoyed reading about this build and it will help you make your Dragon Age Origins playthrough enjoyable.

The build concentrates on keeping distance, maximizing critical hit chance, and dealing as much damage as it can. This is perfect for your main character

If you find any discrepancies or want to suggest an improvement feel free to leave a comment below!


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!