In Dragon Age: Origins, hostile creatures are assigned one of five ranks: critter, normal, elite, boss, and elite boss. Rank determines the color of an opponent’s name – normal creatures are labeled in white text, elites in yellow, and bosses in orange, Elite Bosses are also labeled with orange but its a bit bolder and darker orange like this: Archdemon.
Developers use rank to balance encounters based on the player – all things being equal, the normal enemies will be roughly equal level to that of the Warden; bosses and elite bosses are significantly stronger; and critters are weaker. In addition, bosses and elite bosses also come with extra skills and higher levels of resistance. Finally, changing the game's difficulty level will increase the relative strength of all opponents. In some areas, the developers have set up scripted encounters that are not based on the party's level, like the battle with the Archdemon or a High Dragon.
Ranks are also used for treasure generation; higher ranked creatures tend to drop more powerful consumables like Greater Health Poultices. For containers, rank is used to determine how valuable treasure you get; the higher rank containers contain heavier armor and more advanced runes.
- See Lieutenants for more examples.
- See Bosses for more examples.
Elite Bosses are designed to provide a challenge for the entire party. Each Elite Boss has its own unique abilities, some have high hit points; Others have special modes that allow them to regenerate health extremely fast, some Elite Bosses even have traps surrounding their battle arena, and particular scripting gives some Elite Bosses unique capabilities to do any of a number of things. Obvious examples include the High Dragon, the Archdemon and Gaxkang.
- See Elite Bosses for more examples.
The rank formula is:
min (max_creature_type_level, min (max (party_level +/- rank_modifier, min_area_level), max_area_level))
Note that the implication here is that the relative lethality of the enemy adjusts to match the party's level, but the enemies' level is restricted from being too low or too high for the intended difficulty of the area.