Experience is a numerical statistic measuring the "maturity" of a (player-controlled) character or the general level of knowledge and skill the character has acquired. In Dragon Age games, experience points (XP) are awarded in a manner very similar to Dungeons & Dragons; e.g. for defeating enemies, completing quests, or successfully performing other tasks such as picking a lock or acquiring a codex entry. When the character reaches a set amount of experience points, he/she will "level up" and be allowed to choose new abilities according to the character's class and the particular level reached.
Dragon Age: Origins
In Dragon Age: Origins, the maximum level for player-controlled characters (the Warden and companions) is 25, which is reached at 186,000 experience points. However, it is very difficult to reach the maximum level through normal gameplay; the developers expect that most players will be level 18–22 if they complete the game and all the side quests, and level 21–25 if they complete all current downloadable content as well.
In Origins, characters can gain experience points by:
- Killing an enemy
- Completing quests
- Picking a lock (if successful)
- Disarming a trap (if successful)
- Acquiring a new codex entry
- Donating to your allies
Experience distribution is full on-screen amount for the character doing the action (killing an enemy, picking a lock, etc.) and 2 experience points less for every other party member. For example, let's say the main character kills a genlock and the experience point gain shown on-screen is 33 exp. That character will have 33 points added to his/her total and each other party member will get 31 points added.
Upon gaining a level, characters receive 3 attribute points and 1 talent point each level. Rogues receive 1 skill point every two levels, while warriors and mages get one every three levels. A specialization point is granted at levels 7 and 14, and new tactics slots are unlocked at levels 4, 6, 10, 15 and 20.
|Level||Experience||Tactics Slot||Specialization Points||Talent Points||Warrior Skill Points||Mage Skill Points||Rogue Skill Points||Attributes|
|Requires Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening|
- ^a Plus an additional talent point for the Warden depending on their origin
- ^b Except Sten
- ^c Requires Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
Once obtained, any companion not in the active party will still level up. They will not gain experience as such, but if at any point they are two or more levels below the Warden, they will automatically adjust their level to one below. For example, say Oghren joins the party at level 12, and the Warden is level 11. If Oghren is left in the camp while the Warden heads off adventuring, he will not gain experience. However, as soon as the Warden reaches level 14, Oghren will instantly ascend to level 13.
This also applies to characters in the active party. If, for any reason, the Warden ends up two levels higher than another party member, returning to camp with them will advance them to the next level, regardless of how much experience remains before they would reach it normally.
If you choose to have characters automatically level up, the game will automatically distribute their attribute points, skill points and talent points. By default, this will result in a well-rounded character, but one less effective at a specific role than a player-customized character. The game also tends to spread talent points between different talent trees, granting a wide variety of basic abilities but no advanced abilities. As a result, it is recommended to handle distribution of points manually.
In Dragon Age: Origins, enemies will level up with the Warden (within pre-determined limits), so although a certain base level of strength is advisable to defeat certain bosses, there is no real chance of overpowering your enemies through grinding experience before starting a quest, as may have been possible in some older RPGs where enemies had static abilities.
For details, see Challenge Scaling in Dragon Age: Origins.
Unlike most other RPG games, grinding in the usual sense is not possible, because all enemies are fixed - there are no regenerating monsters.
Investing items in the Allied Supply Crates will grant 10 XP per item. The maximum gain for a single investment is 880 XP, so in order to convert money into experience most efficiently, buy stacks of 88 elfroots from Varathorn in the Dalish Camp to donate in your camp. Note that you must side with the elves in Nature of the Beast for this to be possible.
- On the PC, you should be able to donate only one stack, eliminating the need to make a new trip for each donation.
- To speed it up, buy stacks of 88 deathroots as well (it's slightly more expensive).
Bonus Talent Points
After completing certain key plot elements (Three in total during Dragon Age Origins) the Warden will receive a bonus point in addition to the ones they gain from leveling. The exception to this being that after the completion of the second plot element, a Rogue warden will gain a bonus skill point instead of a bonus talent point
- During Tainted Blood, return to Duncan with the three vials of darkspawn blood but not the warden treaty scrolls. Repeat the conversation for 750 XP every time and for a bonus complete all specialization quests and you will be able to assign them to you and your companions with ease . Note that using this exploit may skew the leveling of future companions (who may have a level comparable to the Warden, but none of the abilities they should have). This exploit is currently fixed for PC (by a patch) and PS3, but still exists for Xbox 360 (as of February 21, 2011).
- At any time during or after The Urn of Sacred Ashes, entering the Mountain Top from either side (the Gauntlet or the Ruined Temple) will result in 750 XP every time. (Confirmed on PC up to version 1.04)
- In Traps are a Girl's Best Friend, a useful glitch allows for easy levels and gold. Purchase all the Trap Triggers that Barlin has and make as many Spring Traps as possible. The traps can be sold to Allison for 50 and 100 experience points for each set of three. The exploit may be continued indefinitely because Barlin's supply of Trap Triggers is unlimited. To trigger the glitch you have to start conversation with Allison twice after giving her the first three spring traps and thus completing the quest. The first time she will just thank you, the second time, she will start asking about traps again.
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
In Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening, the maximum level has been raised up to 35 (from 25 in Origins) this cap also remains in all DLC thereafter, and a newly created character starts at level 18. Experience point mechanics remain the same.