Shale - Complete build guide - Dragon Age: Origins (DAO)
She is a large stone golem that you will meet in Honnleath village during the Stone Prisoner DLC quest. Shale has a wide variety of talents allowing her to take the offensive, support, and tank roles. Quite unique character for the Dragon Age Origins game.
As is expected there are some caveats to have in mind. I will try to go into great detail on how to build Shale to best suit your party.
How to get Shale?
I will try to spoil as little as possible regarding the acquisition. It is mandatory to have Stone Prisoner DLC.
You will have a random encounter where you can buy the Golem Rod. When you have obtained it, a new map Marker appears for the Village of Honnleath.
Once you are in the village you will encounter the golem. However, continue with the DLC quest, and as you progress you will be able to acquire the password for the rod. Then you can fully obtain the golem and it can join your group
How do Shale abilities work?
Shale has 4 distinct rows in Shale tree: Pulverizing Blows, Stoneheart, Rock Mastery, and Stone Aura.
Each of them is sustained ability and you can only have one of them active at a time. When you activate for example Rock Mastery, you can then use all abilities in the same row: Hurl Rock, Earthen Grasp, etc.
However, you cannot use any of the abilities from other rows: Regenerating Burst, Quake, etc.
This is the main difference in mechanics for Shale compared to other companions.
Mechanically Shale is a bit different from other characters you encounter. She has only two gear slots: small and large crystals. Moreover, it has fewer talents compared to other companions.
However, I plan to explain in great detail how to maximize these options to get the most out of Shale
The builds are fairly short as the main difference between them is what talents are used and how you position her.
Here you will need to make a few decisions as you run with Shale. As with all characters you will want to maximize your offensive capabilities. However, you can question how many defensive capabilities you need.
If you want to equip the best Large Crystal (best armors), you will need 38 Constitution. This is important because you lose points that could be invested into Dexterity or Strength.
At a minimum, you need to have 38 Strength. This will allow you to equip the best Small Crystals.
Dexterity – I recommend putting all points that are left into dexterity. It is a vital attribute so that your attacks do not miss. Shale does not have many active talents that can be used at the same time. So you will need to use auto attack often.
I think this is the most optimal build for Shale. She can replace Alistair as a tank and do some decent Crowd control.
The pillar of all of this is Stoneheart. When it is active enemies are more likely to attack Shale, she also regenerates hp and stamina faster, gains additional armor and elemental resistances. Everything you need for a solid tank.
The next step is to utilize your active talents correctly:
- Bellow – use it at the start of the fight to taunt enemies. Moreover, it also stuns them if they do not pass physical resistance checks. This skill has the lowest cooldown for this tree
- Stone Roar – I recommend using this ability on Elite or higher-tier enemies. It is effective in keeping bosses attention from your mages or other DPS party members
- Regenerating Burst – the strongest ability in the tree. Damages all enemies, stuns or knocks them down. Moreover, increases the likelihood that enemies attack Shale
As you can see the setup is fairly simple all you need to do is maintain your sustained ability and add some minor micromanaging for Shale.
Here is the tactics that I use for Tank Shale:
I take the preset for Defender and just add Perfect Striking to the bottom. It will only activate when Shale is being attacked by melee enemies, meaning when she is engaged in close-quarter combat. Perfect Striking will increase your attack, counteracting the low Dexterity attribute.
Shale Ranged support/offense
Why is that?
The main answer is Rock Mastery. This sustained skill will give passive buffs to your party members. The main one is +5% ranged critical chance. However, this is not all, as you use other skills in the tree: hurl Rock, Earthen Grasp and Rock Barrage you will get more buffs for the party
You do not want to waste your abilities, and here is how you should use them:
- Hurl Rock – this is a ranged AoE skill that knocks down enemies. However, it has friendly fire. Due to this, I recommend using it at the start of the fight when your party members are not yet close to the enemies.
- Earthen Grasp – extremely useful ability. It immobilizes enemies in an 8-meter range. Moreover, most of the enemies have difficulties resisting it. Of course, this makes it best used when you are surrounded by enemies.
- Rock Barrage – the last skill in the tree. It deals damage based on your strength. It knocks down enemies at also slows them down. However, it has a friendly Fire. Due to this, I recommend using it when starting the fight, so as not to hit your allies. Unfortunately, it also has a long cooldown of one minute.
The big drawback of this build is that Shale does not have a ranged auto-attack. Due to this, she will have to get close to the enemies once the talents are on cooldown.
I also recommend getting Constitution just to 32 and put the rest points into Strength. This way you will maximize your chances of knockdowns.
I suggest taking the default Archer preset
I also take Perfect Striking when Shale is being attacked by melee attacks. Another suggestion I have is to change the Hurl Rock tactic, to be used when enemies are clustered with two allies, this way you will deal more damage and stun a larger amount of enemies.
As previously mentioned Shale has two slots for gear: small crystal – weapon equivalent, large crystal – armor equivalent.
They are used as weapons, changing the damage type based on the element of the crystal:
You should always have on hand all element crystals: fire, ice, lightning, natural, and spirit. The idea is to change them based on the enemy you are fighting.
For example, if you fight undead or darkspawn you should change to fire crystal
Against Ogres you would use Fire, Nature or Electricity, and so on. However, if changing items becomes tedious I recommend always having a good Fire crystal as it seems to be the most effective.
Large Crystals are used as armors for Shale, try to equip the best that you can find:
Here it is a bit different. I do not think that element-specific resistances are as important in most fights. Of course in some they are essential but mostly it depends on the situation.
If you are using Rock Mastery I would definitely go for Large Fire crystal. However, for tank-type, I would either go for Lightning (for additional dexterity) or Natural (more armor and constitution).
I think Shale is an interesting character to have in your party. Clearly, it did not have as much effort put in as other playable companions, but still, you get a fully voiced companion.
To fully utilize her you will need to have few things in mind: attributes, gear, and talent quirks. Once that is out of the way you can have a fresh of new wind in your playthrough.
Feel free to leave any feedback if anything was missed.