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Attributes are the basic building blocks for a character's combat and mental capabilities. The six primary attributes are Strength, Dexterity, Willpower, Magic, Cunning and Constitution. These attributes determine secondary attributes and resistances, combat prowess, non-combat skills, and reveal new options during encounters with NPCs.

The six attributes appear on the Character Record sheet, along with Armor, Defense, Attack and Damage. Characters begin with 10 points in each of the primary attributes; choosing a race and class will add points to some attributes and the game allows each player to distribute another 5 points for a consistent total of 74 points for every character. (If you skip character creation, the game will distribute those 5 points for you, according to the table below.)

Attributes can be increased during the game in three ways:

  • Characters will automatically gain 3 points per level;
  • Certain items will permanently add points to certain attributes;
  • Other items will temporarily boost attributes while equipped.

Sometimes the game rules consider your character’s attribute modifier rather than the attribute itself, i.e. the number of points you spent on the attribute.

Primary Attributes

At a glance

Attribute Classes Secondary attributes Talents & Skills & Other benefits
Strength Warriors
  • Increases damage from all weapons except staves & crossbows.
  • Increases attack in melee by 0.5 per each point above 10.
  • Increases physical resistance by 0.5 for per each point above 10.
  • Prerequisite for most weapon talents and higher-level armor and weapons.
  • Prerequisite for crossbows (but not bows).
  • Bows get strength-based damage bonus.
  • Increases Coercion effectiveness for intimidation.
  • Also needed by rogues without Lethality, if intending to engage heavily in combat.
Dexterity Rogues and Warriors
  • Prerequisite for some weapon talents (mostly dual-wielding).
  • Prerequisite for some shield talents.
  • Prerequisite for bows and daggers.
  • Very helpful for ranged attackers and many warriors.
Willpower All
Magic Mages
  • Increases effectiveness of potions, poultices, and staves.
  • Prerequisite for higher-level staves and many spells.
Cunning Rogues
Constitution All

Strength

See also: Attack, Damage, Physical Resistance

Strength measures a character's physical prowess, and directly affects the damage a character deals in physical combat. It also contributes to the accuracy of melee attacks. High strength is essential for warriors, in particular if they wish to wield two-handed weapons, and is nearly as critical for rogues. However, if you plan on taking the Lethality skill for a rogue, the strength modifier on weapons will be affected by cunning instead (though this will not affect strength requirements for weapons or armor).

Greater strength increases the base damage from all weapons except crossbows and mages’ staves, and, along with dexterity, determines whether a melee attack is successful. Consequently, strength is particularly important for warriors and rogues, although mages who use melee weapons also find it essential. Great strength is required to wield two-handed weapons or wear heavy armor. Strength also contributes to a character’s physical resistance and influences the intimidation side of the Coercion skill.

Each point of Strength increases damage by ~0.6 points from all weapons, except crossbows and magic staves. 0.3 points to each weapon when dual wielding.

Dexterity

Dexterity is the measure of agility, reflexes, and balance. Higher dexterity improves a character's chances to hit, makes the character more likely to dodge incoming blows, and contributes to the damage dealt by piercing weapons like daggers and arrows. Dexterity adds 0.2 points damage to each dagger when dual wielding. Archery and dual-weapon fighting styles demand high dexterity to master, making this attribute a favorite for rogues.

As the primary component of a character’s defense score, dexterity helps sidestep attacks entirely. Along with strength, dexterity also contributes to the melee attack score, which determines whether a swing connects with its target. For ranged weapons, dexterity is the only attribute that contributes to the attack score. Greater dexterity also increases the damage inflicted by piercing weapons like daggers and arrows, since the character is able to maneuver the weapon’s tip more deftly. Finally, dexterity contributes to physical resistance and is a prerequisite for some weapon talents. This attribute is most important for warriors and rogues.

Willpower

Willpower represents a character's determination and mental fortitude. With high willpower, mages can cast more spells thanks to a deeper mana pool. For warriors and rogues, willpower grants more stamina for combat techniques and special attacks.

Willpower affects the size of the pool of mana or stamina that a character can draw from to power spells or talents. This makes it essential for mages, but also very helpful for warriors or rogues who use talents frequently. Willpower also contributes to a character’s mental resistance.

Each point of Willpower raises the total Mana/Stamina level by 5.

Magic

Magic is the measure of a character's natural affinity for the arcane. This attribute is crucial for mages, since it directly increases a character's spellpower score, which determines the potency of all spells. The magic attribute also determines how effective potions, poultices, and salves are for all classes.

Unsurprisingly, mages gain the most benefit from a high magic attribute; the magic attribute’s modifier determines the mage's spellpower, which in turn governs the magnitude of a spell’s effect, including damage. For characters of all classes, the magic attribute also increases the effectiveness of healing poultices, potions, and salves. A high magic score is required to wield high-level staves or learn certain spells. Magic also contributes to mental resistance.

Cunning

Cunning determines how well a character learns and reasons. Most skills, such as Herbalism or Combat Tactics, require a quick mind to master--and an observant eye can more easily find weaknesses in enemy armor. Rogues benefit most from this statistic, as many of their class abilities and special attacks rely on subtlety or reading the target, not raw strength.

Characters cannot learn advanced skills unless they possess great cunning, so this attribute is useful for any character who wishes to use Skills effectively. It is doubly important for rogues, since many of their class-specific talents are greatly improved by high cunning. Cunning helps characters identify weaknesses in opponents’ armor, increasing the armor penetration score, and also contributes to mental resistance and the persuasion side of Coercion.

Constitution

Constitution represents health and resilience. Higher constitution directly increases the amount of damage a character can take before falling on the battlefield.

Every point in constitution increases a character’s health score, allowing more damage to be taken. Thus, it is important for all characters on the front lines of combat. Constitution also contributes to physical resistance.

Starting Attributes

These values are calculated with the information given on race and class based bonuses. You get 5 additional points to add as you like at character creation to further customize your character.


Race Class Human Warrior Human Rogue Human Mage Elf Warrior Elf Rogue Elf Mage Dwarf Warrior Dwarf Rogue
Strength 15 11 11 14 10 10 15 11
Dexterity 14 15 11 13 14 10 14 15
Willpower 10 12 14 12 14 16 10 12
Magic 11 11 16 12 12 17 10 10
Cunning 11 15 12 10 14 11 10 14
Constitution 13 10 10 13 10 10 15 12


Increasing Attributes

  • Specializations generally grant a bonus to attributes.
  • Some equipment can add to your attributes. Wearing item sets can also add to your attributes.
  • Throughout the game, you may purchase a Tome of the Mortal Vessel that will allow you to permanently increase your attributes upon their use. The owners of the Dragon Age: Origins Collector's Edition, can also benefit from the Grimoire of the Frozen Wastes which is available to every newly created character from the beginning of his background story, and will add 3 more attribute points to the character upon its use.
  • When the party is sent to The Fade by the Sloth Demon in the Broken Circle quest(The Fade: Lost in Dreams), they will find several essences and fonts in the different fade locations which add 1 point to a specific attribute (note also that instead using attributes on cunning for skills you can use those). There are 21 essences here. Additional essences and fonts can also be found when the party is stuck in the Fade in Blackmarsh in Awakening.
  • Some essence fonts in the Fade grant less than optimal stats (such as Magic for a Warrior or Strength for a Mage). Purchasing a Manual of Focus in Awakening resets all stat points, including the ones acquired in the Fade, to be redistributed as you like. However, note that in some versions of the game the Manual is bugged and will only return 99 attribute points maximum, severely hampering your character.

References

  1. Developer Post[dead link]
  2. Gamebanshee Preview
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