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Dragon Age: Origins Nightmare Guide by David Milward


INTRO & ABOUT  |  CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT GUIDELINES  |  EQUIPPING CHARACTERS  |  COMBAT GUIDELINES  |  CHARACTERS
Areas in Order of Appearance:  
Origins  |  Ostagar  |  Lothering  |  Circle Tower  |  Warden's Keep (DLC)  |  Return to Ostagar (DLC)  |  Stone Prisoner (DLC)  |  Brecilian Forest  |  Redcliffe  |  The Urn of Sacred Ashes  |  Orzammar  |  Deep Roads  |  Denerim  |  Final Onslaught  
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Characters 
Aldarion  |  Alistair  |  Leliana  |  Mabari War Hound  |  Morrigan  |  Oghren  |  Shale  |  Sten  |  Wynne  |  Zevran  | 

MORRIGAN, SHAPESHIFTER / BLOOD MAGE

Morrigan

Strength 14 Dexterity 16 Willpower 21 Magic 24 Cunning 12 Constitution 10

Starting Inventory / Magic Staff (Steel), Morrigan's Robes, Clasp of the Wilds

Talent Selection

Starting Talents at 7th level

There's more than one way to develop Morrigan. She's two steps away from Blizzard and Tempest each, so she may be a natural candidate for a damage caster who can cast the Storm of the Century Combo. She'll also need to develop the Mana Alteration spell tree in order to acquire Spell Might to complete the combo. A benefit of this is that she'll then be one step away from Mana Clash, one of the best anti-mage abilities in the game. This is certainly a powerful build that works and cannot be faulted on any level. Problem for me is I've already designed my Arcane Warrior for this.

An alternative build for Morrigan is one that allows her to take advantage of both the Shapeshifter and the Blood Mage specializations in a nearly seamless system. The idea requires a bit of explanation. Once Morrigan develops her Blood Mage abilities, she will always keep the Blood Magic sustained ability active. Blood Magic draws upon health to power spells instead of mana. It amounts to a calculated gamble that the increased spell casting power will suffice to win the battle quickly enough to minimize the risks of drawing on health to empower spells. This gamble is often justified, since a single casting of Blood Wound for example often suffices to win a battle outright. If Morrigan's health is getting too low for comfort, she invokes the Flying Swarm ability. This will basically turn Morrigan into a fast and mobile spell-like entity that inflicts continuous nature damage on all enemies next to her. It also won't affect her comrades. Any attacks no her while in Flying Swarm mode will not detract from her health. It will instead reduce her mana, which will have been untapped while she was in Blood Mage mode. With Master Shapeshifter, the Flying Swarm will recoup health whenever it inflicts damage on the monsters. For an idea of what Morrigan can do with Flying Swarm, check out this video (not made by me):

So, Morrigan can let loose as a Blood Mage. If her health is getting low, she can turn into a Flying Swarm. Any attacks to her only reduce her untapped mana. Her own damage on the monsters recoups her health. Once she's back to full health, she can revert back to human form and resume Blood Magic. This can lead to quite a destructive and self-replenishing cycle, assuming the battle will even last that long.

If you do rely on Morrigan as your single Mage for your party, and whichever build you choose for her, be sure to include Heal in the mix so that she can aid her comrades once in a while. Get her Arcane Tomes if you rely on her as your sole mage. My progression for Morrigan was:

8th level

Bear Shape - More of a stepping stone to other abilities.

9th level

Sleep - A useful spell for a group of enemies that surround the party. Morrigan can also follow up by casting Horror on a sleeping target to either kill it outright or otherwise inflict plenty of spirit damage. This is the Nightmare combo.

10th level

Insect Swarm - See my comments above.

11th level

Death Magic - This doesn't work very well with Blood Magic, so it's really a stepping stone to other abilities in the tree.

12th level

Master Shapeshifter - The real point of this is so that Flying Swarm will recoup Morrigan's health whenever she inflicts damage.

13th level

Curse of Mortality - A deadly single-target spell. It inflicts minor damage, but also prevents the target from getting healed for its duration.

14th level

Blood Magic - Allows Morrigan to draw upon her health instead of Mana to power her spells.

15th level

Blood Sacrifice - Use with care. Can bail out Morrigan if she's low on health and she wants to continue to use Blood Magic, but can also kill a wounded party member. It's also a stepping stone to ...

16th level

Blood Wound - This is like Crushing Prison on crack. It may not score as much spirit damage on an individual target as Crushing Prison, but the fact that it has pretty much the same effect on multiple foes and can be cast without hurting your comrades even if they're in the area of effect means this spell often suffices to win battles by itself.

17th level

Death Cloud - Blood Wound inflicts spirit damage, so it makes sense to add a storm-spell that also uses spirit damage. This point will become evident when I describe Morrigan's inventory.

18th level

Cone of Cold - Now she starts to round things out by adding cold damage to her repertoire, which will be enhanced by her Robes of Possession. It may be an equally valid choice to take this and Blizzard earlier, especially if you rely on Morrigan as your only Mage. I suspect the reason I put it off till this point may be because Aldarion already had it.

19th level

Blizzard - Icing on the cake.

20th level

Affliction Hex - A minor spell with the benefit on reducing the target's elemental resistances.

21st level

Misdirection Hex - A spell that causes its target to pretty much miss all of its physical attacks. Keep in mind that it will draw that target's 'aggro' when you use it.

22rd level

Death Hex - The target will be vulnerable to critical hits for the duration. It will also draw 'aggro' from the target. This spell, in conjunction with Death Cloud, can also subject the target to the Entropic Death combo that inflicts massive Spirit damage.

23rd level

Blood Domination - This has some utility, but Morrigan's other abilities often prove decisive.

24th level

Waking Nightmare - Another card for Morrigan's deck. It works very similarly to Chaos in older D&D rules systems whereby multiple foes simply wander around and become sitting ducks for the party's attacks.

Skill Selection

Starting

9th level

Expert Herbalism - The real point to this is to be able to take advantage of a method for raising limitless gold that involves selling Potent Lyrium Potions at a profit. The method requires the Master Herbalism skill, so Expert Herbalism is really just a stepping stone.

12th level

Master Herbalism - And voila.

15th level

Combat Tactics - Unlike Wynne or Aldarion, I heavily script Morrigan since her participation is often in situations where I don't have direct control over her. I thus like to give her as many tactics slots as possible.

18th level

Improved Combat Tactics - Same thing.

21st level

Expert Combat Tactics - Same thing.

24th level

Expert Combat Training - Improving her ability to cast a spell despite damage.

Script

Self: Any - Blood Magic
Self Health < 50% - Flying Swarm
Enemy clustered with 3 other Enemies - Blood Wound
Self Mana - 10% - Deactivate Flying Swarm
Self surrounded by at least 4 Enemies - Waking Nightmare
Self surrounded by at least 3 Enemies - Sleep
Enemy Sleeping - Horror
Enemy Health > 75% - Winter's Grasp
Enemy Health > 50% - Lightning
Nearest Visible Enemy - Attack

I actually have rather more extensive scripting for Morrigan since many of her abilities will not harm comrades, and since her participation is often in scenarios where all of the other comrades have to join in as well.

Inventory

Weapon: Corrupted Magister's Staff
Helmet: Reinforced Magus Cowl
Armor: Robes of Possession
Gloves: Silk Weave Gloves
Boots: Enchanter's Footing
Amulet: Lifedrinker
Belt: Destructionist's Belt
1st Ring: Blood Ring
2nd Ring: Dreamsever

Some items provide bonuses that are helpful for any Mage build: Magic, Willpower, Spellpower, mana regeneration, and defense. Items that provide bonuses to Spirit damage will augment Blood Wound, Death Cloud, and the Nightmare combo. The Robes of Possession provides a hefty bonus to cold damage that will augment Cone of Cold, Winter's Grasp, and Blizzard. The Silk Weave Gloves will increase the damage she inflicts while in Flying Swarm form. The Blood Ring will also reduce the hit on health that she takes whenever she uses Blood Magic to cast spells.

Attribute Increases

I pump up Magic first to get fourth talents in various spell trees. After that, I go with +1 Magic and +2 Constitution. This makes sense, considering the particular system I have set up for Morrigan, and also because she has items that provide considerable boosts to Spellpower so there isn't as much of an onus to increase Magic as much.


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