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Mechanics and Character-Building Guide by C.LE

Version: 1.8 | Updated: 03/16/15

Chris Lee-Egan's
Dragon Age: Inquisition Mechanics & Character Building Guide               v1.8



===============================================================================
The officially latest (as well as latest, official) version of this FAQ/Guide
can be found at www.gamefaqs.com.
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
Table of Contents                                                            !-
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To navigate to the different sections, just use your browser's "find" to enter
the characters to the right of each section.  Make sure to include the
exclamation point or else you'll just jump to a random section reference in the
middle of a paragraph.

The pattern behind each shortcut key sequence is simple:  the first three
letters (more, if necessary to be unambiguous) of each related section,
separated by commas, beginning with a ! and ending with -.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
How To Use This Guide   !how-

Public Announcement on Bugs         !pub-

Mechanics               !mec-
    Guard                   !mec,gua-
    Barrier                 !mec,bar-
    Damage boost ordering   !mec,dam-
    Attributes              !mec,att-
    Combos                  !mec,com-
    Flanking                !mec,fla-
    Auto-Attack Sequences   !mec,aut-
    Dispel                  !mec,dis-
    Status Effects          !mec,sta-

General Strategic Considerations    !gen

Warrior                 !war-
    Weapon and Shield       !war,wea-
    Two-Handed Weapon       !war,two-
    Battlemaster            !war,bat-
    Vanguard                !war,van-
    Champion                !war,cha-
    Reaver                  !war,rea-
    Templar                 !war,tem-
    Notable Builds          !war,not-

Rogue                   !rog-
    Double Daggers          !rog,dou-
    Archery                 !rog,arc-
    Sabotage                !rog,sab-
    Subterfuge              !rog,sub-
    Artificer               !rog,art-
    Assassin                !rog,ass-
    Tempest                 !rog,tem-
    Notable Builds          !rog,not-

Mage                    !mag-
    Spirit                  !mag,spi-
    Storm                   !mag,sto-
    Inferno                 !mag,inf-
    Winter                  !mag,win-
    Necromancer             !mag,nec-
    Rift Mage               !mag,rif-
    Notable Builds          !mag,not-

Special:  Inquisitor    !spe-

Party-Building          !par-

Inquisition Perks       !inq-
    Forces                  !inq,for-
    Connections             !inq,con-
    Secrets                 !inq,sec-
    Inquisition             !inq,inq-

Potions and Upgrades    !pot-
    "Actual" Potions        !pot,act-
    Tonics                  !pot,ton-
    Grenades                !pot,gre-

Masterwork Crafting     !mas-

Multiplayer Addendum    !mul-
    Skills of Note          !mul,ski-
    Classes                 !mul,cla-

Appendix            !app-
    History             !app,his-
    All Works           !app,all-
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
How To Use This Guide                                                     !how-
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This guide is meant to be a way to analyze and critique abilities as well as to
highlight several effective builds and party interactions.  It also will try to
point out lesser known details and interactions (especially with regard to
buggy skills).

To that end, even in the sections where you *think* you know how things operate
(like abilities, which you may think you can look up online trivially), don't
completely skim - the way some abilities operate are actually quite different
from the way that the game tells you that they operate (such as Winter's Grasp
or Fade Step's upgrades).

Moreover, unless mentioned otherwise, alot of the non-trivial information here
has been produced through my own repeated testing and experimentation.  If you
find something wrong and can demonstrate it otherwise (e.g. through a forum
post or through your own data), let me know and I'll fix it up and give you due
credit (unless you say otherwise).  My contact info is at the end of this
section.

The upshot is that this guide is *not* meant to be used as a general
walkthrough.  For that purpose, you should go find one of many other decent
sources on playing Dragon Age: Inquisition.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to send me a
line (as people have found out over the years from my other guides, I try to
be good about correspondence).  My email is as follows, WITHOUT the underscores
(which is just a way to prevent automatic scripts from just pulling my email
address for spam purposes):
        s_i__mul_cr_a@uchicago.edu
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
Public Announcement on Bugs                                               !pub-
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As of this writing, we're on patch 5, and this wonderful game is nonetheless
still a heavy buggy game. Some of the bugs are noted where relevant in the
sections below.

Previously this section was a disclaimer that many ability rings were not
functional (the rings that are "Enhanced [Ability Name]"), but as of patch 5
many of them appear to be working.  I have not exhaustively tested all of them,
but work with the assumption that they function.  I've found at least one
exception, but rather than enumerate them here, I'll enumerate them where I'm
actually discussing the ability.  If you come across an ability ring that does
not work (and it's not listed as bugged in this guide), shoot me an email and
I'll do an update and provide you credit (unless you decline recognition).

Do note that patch 5 did introduce a new bug where many Amulets of Power will
not generate (especially ones for the player him/herself).  If you were
planning builds reliant on this, you may find yourself shy a few skill points
now.  Yeah, it does suck.
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
Mechanics                                                                 !mec-

STARTER'S NOTE:  this section is really heavy on math, numbers, and jargon, so
I recommend skipping past the mechanics section and jumping to the skills
(beginning section war-) and coming back when you feel a bit more inclined
to deep-dive into the game.  I've had a few people tell me this section can be
overwhelming if you're just starting with this guide, so sorry :).

Note:  where labelled some of the information here is HYPOTHETICAL (a theory
based on data); such information needs further testing to confirm/deny.  Also,
GhoXen and aznricepuff have done a lot of work to fill in the blanks on
mechanics, so to give them credit, I mark anything procured from their research
as such.  Otherwise, assume it is independent/original work.

Also note:  where equations and such are used, I do not presume to state that
these are the *exact* equations used by the game designers, but they--by my
own numerical testing--are accurate enough approximations of the actual game
mechanics that they serve as useable models for your own number-crunching.  If
you find discrepancies or have a better model, please feel free to share.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Guard                                                                 !mec,gua-

Guard is generally only generated by warriors themselves (with the notable
exception of Rally and Fade-Touched Obsidian/Silverite).  It is a powerful
extra level of defense; it basically acts as second health, being depleted
first before enemies can actually damage the character.  With sufficient armor
and guard generation, a warrior may be essentially invulnerable.  Moreover,
given the limitations on actual healing in this game (generally just potions),
Guard is essentially the main source of life-sustenance and in many case one
warrior with decent guard management will trump any number of healing potions.

[GhoXen] The maximum amount of guard you can generate is 25% of your maximum
health.

Enemies generate guard based on some internal equation and is not necessarily
equal to 25% of their maximum health.

[HYPOTHETICAL] When guard is active, you may also become immune to disabling
effects.  I say "may" because any enemy that has active guard gains "Immunity:
[various effects]", which goes away when their guard is depleted.  I myself
have rarely encountered disabling effects on my warrior, so this may either
mean that guard grants immunity to said effects or I simply don't have enough
data (disabling effects from enemies appear to be rare anyway).

Guard abilities are frequently listed as generating a percentage of guard; this
is a percentage of your maximum guard.  [HYPOTHETICAL] Fade-Touched
Obsidian/Silverite, which can generate 3/5 guard on hit respectively, instead
generates that absolute amount of guard, so will take several hits to hit an
appreciable fraction of your full guard potential (though obviously for
characters who aren't expected to be hit often, like ranged rogues or mages,
that "appreciable fraction" will happen more easily than melee rogues and
warriors).

Warriors alone possess abilities that let them get past their normal guard cap
of 25% of their maximum health.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Barrier                                                               !mec,bar-

Barrier is similar to guard - an extra defense that takes damage first before
health is effected.  If you have both guard and barrier, barrier takes damage
first (which is a beneficial ordering to the player, since generally only the
player will be able to do both guard and barrier).

Similar to guard, only one class of characters can readily generate barrier:
mages.  Unlike guard, barrier is at a constant level of decay; it takes ~12
seconds to go from full to zero barrier (or roughly akin to a decay of 8% of
maximum barrier per second).  In other words, if your mage does 50 weapon
damage, they will generate a 2,750 health barrier; but 229 damage is dealt "for
free" to that barrier every second.  The Knight-Enchanter passive
Knight-Protector reduces the decay by 35%; this means that instead roughly 6%
of maximum barrier is lost per second for a ~17s duration (in the above example
it would be 165 "free damage" per second).  Note that enemy barriers do not
naturally decay.
   The upshot of this is that unlike guard, which can be accumulated across
several fights, barrier is always a temporary defense, but at the very least it
can be a significant defense (at least initially).
    However, barrier has one major downside:  while active, you do not benefit
from armor (unlike guard).  As such, while you still get potentially thousands
of extra temporary health, physical attacks--particularly from fast attacking
rogue-types--will plow through your barrier pretty quickly.

Barrier is not capped in the same way guard is.  The actual Barrier ability can
generate defenses that are many times more than your maximum health. Do note,
however, that the barrier health number you see for Barrier in the Character
Record is most likely bugged; the true number is 5,500% of your base weapon
damage (less attack bonuses) but the game will show you some weird state that
may or may not be accurate (most notable if you unequip staffs from all your
mages).

However, there are some complicated interactions betwen Barrier (the ability),
barrier (the effect), and various abilities that interact your barrier.  First,
it's important to note that Barrier will *always* generate barrier equal to
at least your maximum health; even if your character has no weapon equipped,
they will still generate enough to cover your heatlh.

Second, Barriers from multiple mages overwrite each other; they are not
additive.  That means that if one mage generates a Barrier with strength of
3,500 and another does for 1,500 if the latter casts Barrier on someone who
just received a barrier from the former, their current barrier will immediately
drop to 1,500.

Third, every character has their own notion of what their maximum barrier is.
This is mostly irrelevant for warriors/rogues, but mages track their maximum
barrier independently of each other.  This is important since mages have
abilities that can generate a % of your maximum barrier, and it appears that
these are all relative to *that* specific mage's Barrier ability.

Fourth, Fade Shield (the Knight-Enchanter ability that generates barrier "equal"
to 30% of damage dealt) has a *very* weird interaction with barrier.  It does
not actually give you barrier equal to 30% of damage dealt.  Instead, what it
appears to do is take 30% of the damage you dealt, divide it by 1000, and then
treat that as a coefficient of your maximum barrier that it then restores to 
you.  This "maximum barrier" *ignores* whether or not you have Strength of
Spirits, so having this ability will not increase how much barrier Fade Shield
generates.
    As an example, let's say you dealt 600 damage, you do not have Strength of
Spirits, and you have a maximum barrier of 2,500:
        a) Take 30% of damage done; 600 * 30% = 180
        b) Take the result and divide it by 1000; 180 / 1000 = .180
        c) Use as a coefficient of maximum barrier; .180 * 2500 = 450
        d) You regenerate 450 barrier, or 18% of your barrier bar.
If you *do* have Strength of Spirits, then the equations are mostly unchanged,
except that the share of your barrier bar that is restored is reduced to 12%
(450 out of 3,750 instead of 450 out of 2,500).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Damage boost ordering                                                 !mec,dam-

The game distinguishes between two types of percentage buffs: additive (i.e.
50% buff plus 50% buff equals 100% total) and multiplicative (i.e. 50% buff
plus 50% buff equals 125% total).  Unfortunately, it does a really terrible job
of making it clear which is which.  Why this matters is that it helps you
understand when abilities are really good, or just look good on paper.  Hint:
multiplicative bonuses are much better.  I try to delineate in the abilities
section, when it's clear to me, when abilities are additive or multiplicative.

For example, if an ability does 300% weapon damage and has an upgrade that
increases it by 100%, it most likely is an "additive" buff, so instead of
getting 600% weapon damage (i.e. 300% multipled by a 100% bonus), you are
getting a net total of 400% weapon damage (i.e. 300% plus 100%).
However, some abilities get multiplicative bonuses.  Spirit Blade, for example,
does 400% bonus vs guard; this does not mean that its base damage goes from
300% to 700% (additive), it instead means that its base damage goes from 300%
to 1,200% (multiplicative)!

It appears that all general-purpose buffs for damage may be multiplicative,
but they are added together before being multiplied against your damage number.
E.g. a 25% bonus will increase your damage by 25%, but two separate 25% bonuses
will increase your damage by 50%, not 56.25% (or 1.25 * 1.25).

In addition, damage *decreases* (such as +6% melee defense, +2% fire
resistance, etc) are also implemented as multiplicative decreases as well.  So,
e.g. an attack that does 100 damage with 30% attack bonus against someone with
a 10% melee defense will do 100 * 1.3 * .9 = 117 damage.  Moreover, "defenses"
and "resistances" are aggregated separately. So a fire magic attack against
someone with 10% magic defense and 10% fire resistance will have a net damage
reduction of 19%, not 20%.

An implication to these multiplicative factors is that each point of increase
has diminishing returns (i.e. the difference between 0% and 1% attack bonus
is bigger than a 29% and 30% attack bonus), whereas each point of defensive
increase has *increasing* returns (i.e. the difference between 0% and 1%
defense/resistance is smaller than a 9% and 10% defense/resistance).  So the
long and short of it is that the difference between Tier 1 and Tier 3 materials
for resistances may not seem like a lot, but you're actually getting
progressively more bang for your buck for each additional %.

Lastly, ability damage modifiers (like when an ability says it does 300%
weapon damage) are applied *after* weapon damage has been modified by armor
rating.  Obviously this doesn't affect magic abilities, but it does mean
that a physical attacker against a high armor enemy will still do minute damage
with any physical abilities.

NOTE:  in the ability descriptions below, note that a "multiplicative" bonus
implicitly has a base of 1.  In other words, a 25% multiplicative bonus
actually means that damage is multiplied by 1.25, not .25.  This might be
obvious for numbers <100%, but it's important to note that if something is
an 800% multiplicative bonus, it really is a multiplication by 9, not 8, unless
stated otherwise.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Attributes                                                            !mec,att-

All basic stats use a baseline of 10; in other words, 10 is "neutral" or
"no-bonus."  For every point you have above 10 you get certain benefits, as
follows (all percent increases are additive):

STRENGTH, for each point above 10...*
    +1% damage vs guard.
    +.5% attack to warriors.

DEXTERITY, for each point above 10...*
    +1% critical damage bonus (additive).
    +.5% attack to rogues.

MAGIC, for each point above 10...*
    +1% damage vs barrier.
    +.5% attack to mages.

CUNNING, for each point above 10...
    +.5% critical hit chance.
    [GhoXen] +.5% ranged defense

WILLPOWER, for each point above 10...
    +.5% attack for all classes.
    +.5% magic defense.

CONSTITUTION, for each point above 10...
    [GhoXen] +5 health
    [GhoXen] +.5% melee defense

* In addition, Strength/Dexterity/Magic automatically increases per level for
a warrior/rogue/mage, respectively, at a rate of .5/level.

The increases bestowed by the stats above are based on a given baseline.  This
still needs to be fleshed out, but here are some baselines:

BASELINE DERIVED STATS:
    Attack:  0%
    Critical hit damage bonus:  40%
    Critical hit chance:  5%
    Flanking damage bonus:  25%
    Damage vs guard:  0%
    Damage vs barrier:  0%
    Melee defense:  0%
    Ranged defense:  0%
    Magic defense:  0%
    Cold/Fire/Electric/Spirit Resistance:  0%

In addition, classes having varying starting health that increases at varying
amounts per level.

HEALTH PER CLASS
    Mages:  450 at level 1, +6 per level after
    Rogues:  500 at level 1, +9 per level after
    Warriors:  550 at level 1, +12 per level after

Lastly, "Armor" or "Armor Rating" deserves some quick explanation since you
may miss how it works.  It's by simple subtraction - whatever (physical)
damage you do to enemies is reduced 1:1 by the target's armor rating, and the
same is true for enemies doing physical damage to you.  You'll notice that
you will tend to have a much higher armor rating than enemies, which seems
a propos since some enemies capable of doing a crapload of damage.  You can
see enemy armor values in tactical mode as a number next to a helmet symbol.
    You have a separate front and rear armor rating; normally they are
generally the same, but they correspond to the fact that you may be more
vulnerable to attacks from the rear.

The implication of the way armor works is that characters who attack quickly
(melee rogues mainly) are best suited for weak enemies - enemy mages frequently
have 0 armor, whereas enemy tanks may have enough to almost completely negate
dagger hits.  The other implication is that against high-armor targets, magic
and poison effects become much more powerful since they bypass armor
completely.

[GhoXen] Unlike enemies and only on Nightmare difficulty, you and your party
actually gets a 2x multiplier to the effectiveness of your Armor Rating.

No matter how high an armor rating you or your enemy has, at least 1 damage
will get through.  Similarly for magic resistance, if an enemy has resistance
they resist ~95% of damage, but always at least 1 damage will go through.  This
minimum applies *per* hit, so for abilities that do multiple hits (like Hidden
Blades or Energy Barrage) the minimum will be 1 per hit, not 1 overall (though
you're in bad shape if you're in a fight where this matters).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Combos                                                                !mec,com-

Combos are a fairly important aspect to DAI and when used can significantly
increase the damage capabilities of your party.  Unfortunately, it's a bit
obfuscated by the game how it works.

There are three aspects that determine the combo:  the incapacitating effect,
the detonator, and the detonator's specific combo capability (henceforth just
called "capability").  The first two are intimately tied with what character
class is doing that action.

Incapacitating effects:
    STUNNED [warriors]
    ASLEEP [rogues]
    FROZEN/PARALYZED [mages]
    SHOCKED* [mages]

    *This is not really an incapacitating effect, but is a set up for a
    specific combo.

Detonators come into three "types", also intimately tied with a given character
class.
    IMPACT [warriors]
    PRECISION [rogues]
    ELDRITCH [mages]
    WEAKNESS* [all classes]

    *This is not really a detonator, but acts as one for one specific combo.

Note that some specializations bestow the strong advantage of an incapacitating
effect or detonator not normally aligned with the class, but this will be
touched on later; for now just go by the above guide.

Before we get into the detonator's capability, what essentially drives a combo
is using a detonator on an enemy with an incapacitating effect.  If done
properly, the detonator cancels the remaining duration of the original
incapacitating effect and triggers a varying combo effect, such as additional
damage or some debuff.

The basic combo is an "in-class" combo, and occurs when you use a detonator on
an incapacitating effect associated with the same class, so STUNNED followed by
IMPACT or PARALYZED followed by ELDRITCH.  These aren't terribly special:  they
do some modest bonus damage, though they do count as legitimate combos (mainly
important for the Inquisitor's special ability that increases focus gain for
combos).

More powerful combos are "cross-class" combos, and these are triggered by using
a detonator on an incapacitating effect *not* associated with the same class,
such as STUNNED followed by ELDRITCH.

Cross-class combos, their effects, and the requirements
    RUPTURE:  physical damage over time that ignores armor; requires PRECISION
        on STUN or IMPACT on SLEEP
    SHATTER:  severe cold damage to target that knocks them down; requires
        FROZEN*
    DISCHARGE:  high electric damage to all near (and including) target, adds
        SHOCKED status; requires PARALYZED*
    NIGHTMARE:  high damage and adds FEAR to target; requires ELDRITCH on SLEEP
    WEAKNESS:  high damage and adds WEAKNESS to target; requires ELDRITCH on
        STUN
    ASLEEP:  no damage and adds ASLEEP to target; requires WEAKNESS (the
        effect, not the combo) on SHOCKED (but does not cancel SHOCKED)

    *SHATTER and DISCHARGE can be triggered by any cross-class detonator.

So now we get to the third component, the detonator's capability.  Well, unlike
Mass Effect 3 (which was another Bioware game that made heavy use of combos),
there doesn't appear to be a universal equation that dictates how much damage
combos do.  Instead, it appears to be based on the detonator itself, to the
point where some detonators are bugged and actually do little or no damage upon
detonation.  Thanks to aznricepuff's work, we now have actual damage numbers
for all detonators; note that the weapon damage levels are relative to the
source of the *detonator* and not the source of the incapacitating effect.
(This is why, for example, Spell Purge detonations are insanely powerful, since
they use damage multipliers designed for a mage's lower weapon damage despite
being on a warrior.)

Combo damage numbers (in terms of weapon damage):
    Legend:
        *   all detonators in this tree
        ()  in-class combo (no special effects)
        ~   this damage is done over 6 seconds
        !   this damage is done in an area of ~5m
                        Stun    Sleep   Frozen  Paralyzed   Shocked
    *Weapon&Shield      (250%)  500%~   325%    300%!       n/a
    Mighty Blow         (150%)  280%~   225%    300%!       n/a
    Whirlwind           (115%)  280%~   190%    300%!       n/a

    *Double Daggers     700%~   (415%)  550%    300%!       n/a
    Hidden Blades
    ...from rogue       700%~   (530%)  550%    300%!       n/a
    ...from crafting    0       0       0       0           n/a
    *Archery            600%~   (300%)  400%    300%!       n/a

    *Spirit             1200%   800%    (500%)  (500%)      n/a
    Energy Barrage      1200%   800%    (500%)  (500%)      n/a
    Immolate            1200%   800%    (500%)  (500%)      n/a

    Spell Purge         1200%   800%    n/a     n/a         n/a
    Stonefist           0       0       0       0           n/a

    Any Weakness        n/a     n/a     n/a     n/a         100

    Notes:
        1.  Combos do damage in a type that generally corresponds to their
            detonator, i.e. physical abilities do physical damage (subject to
            armor), with a few exceptions (some mentioned earlier):
                Discharge combos always do electric damage.
                Shatter combos always do cold damage.
                Sleep combos always do spirit damage.
                Hidden Blades as in-class combo does spirit damage.
                All Rupture combos (the one that do damage over time) do
                    physical damage that ignores armor.
        2.  All mage-type combos look like they do a lot more damage on paper,
            but keep in mind that staffs have much lower weapon damage numbers
            than non-staffs, so these inflated percentages merely help to keep
            it on par with other detonators.

So given the above, if you have the choice of detonating a frozen enemy with
either Deathblow or Lunge and Slash (a warrior detonator), it is probably
likely that you you prefer Deathblow; both will accomplish the SHATTER effect,
but Deathblow will most likely do more damage, given your rogue's typical
dagger weapons and a higher combo weapon damage multiplier.

As hinted above, some specializations bestow the advantage of giving a class an
incapacitating effect or a detonator not normally associated with that class.
This is advantageous because instead of relying on close coordination between
two classes (and sometimes having to fight the AI), you can now trigger
powerful cross-class combos at will with just one character.

Cross-class combo-potential specializations:
    Templar:  gives warriors an ELDRITCH detonator in Spell Purge; enables easy
        WEAKNESS combos with a warrior's innate ability to STUN
    Tempest:  gives rogues FROZEN incapacitation in Flask of Frost; enables
        easy SHATTER combos with a rogue's innate PRECISION detonators
    Rift Mage:  gives mages an IMPACT detonator in Stonefist; enables easy
        SHATTER and DISCHARGE combos with either winter or storm trees; BUGGED,
        though

Some strategic considerations:  because incapacitating effects are immediately
cancelled upon detonation, it does not always make sense to immediately
detonate effects when you can.  A short-lived incapacitating effect like STUN
may just barely give you the time you need to line up a detonator (even in
tactical mode), but e.g. FROZEN and ASLEEP are very long-lived effects and in
FROZEN's case can come along with a powerful debuff (Ice Mine's FROZEN effect
can be upgraded to temporarily reduce the target's armor to 0).  In such a
case, micromanagement is necessary so that you can take advantage of the
prolonged incapacitation effects but then detonate before it wears off - that
way you get both the benefit of having a target removed from the fight in
addition to a sudden damage boost.

Another strategic consideration:  even though in-class combos are much weaker
than cross-class combos, they are still better than nothing.  If you have a
PARALYZE'd target and no one else is ready with a cross-class detonator, it is
always worth using an in-class detonator if possible - it's still free damage.
This is especially true for area of effect detonators like Dispel, as it's very
unlikely anyway that you would have enough cross-class combos to set off
everyone FROZEN by Ice Mine, for example.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Flanking                                                              !mec,fla-

You are considered to be "flanking" if you are behind or to the side of an
enemy (though generally to the rear-left and rear-right, as being closer to the
front-right or front-left won't count as flanking).

While flanking an enemy, various rogue/warrior abilities have special effects,
but more importantly you get a general multiplicative damage bonus equivalent
to your "flanking damage bonus" you see in the attributes tab of the character
record.  Because it's multiplicative, it can be a significant contributor to
net damage (especially since you can increase this multiplier through
equipment crafting).  In fact, for melee rogues this can be a significant
contributor to their net damage.

Even ranged attacks benefit from flanking, so long as you are striking the
enemy from behind or from the side.  The major caveat to this, however, (and
the main reason why I have this section) is that for a ranged attack to
benefit from flanking it has to either a) be a basic ranged attack (i.e. a
regular shot from a bow/Bianca or staff) or b) be a non-magical ranged ability,
with the exception of Fade Step.

Obviously this excludes most mage abilities.  However, even for a mage, a
significant amount of their damage come from their standard staff attacks, so
it still behooves you to position properly.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Auto-Attack Sequences                                                 !mec,aut-

In tactical mode if you simply leave let your character do "Basic Attack" or
in non-tactical mode if you hold down your attack button (or make a successive
attack within ~1 second of your previous attack) your character will actually
follow a specific "sequence" of attacks.  If your character is interrupted in
any way (using an ability, getting knocked around, using your search effect,
moving, etc), when they attack they'll start over from the beginning.
    In tactical mode, your character adds an extraneous attack unconnected with
a sequence when resuming basic attacks.  Only after this and a long pause will
your character enter the normal sequence.

For the most part this sequence for your auto-attacks isn't worth paying much
attention to, but there are some edge cases.  A mage's Gathering Storm only
triggers off the second attack in the auto-attack sequence, so premature
interruptions will prevent this from ever triggering.  Similarly, a bulk of a
mage's weapon damage per second comes from the final attack in the sequence
when three projectiles are launched, so an early interruption will hurt your
long-term damage rate.  Conversely, the earlier attacks for two-handed warriors
are faster, so early interruptions will increase your long-term damage rate.

Thanks to aznricepuff, who documented all of the following.  Though, I round
off the pauses since I find it dubious anyone could precisely measure the
pauses to a precision of .01s; moreover, as a result I do not mention
aznricepuff's "effective damage/second" (which differs from in-game inventory
damage/second) since a lack of precise pause measurements makes this
"effective" measurement equally dubious.  Moreover, weapons themselves appear
to have variances in attack speeds, so these pauses should only be seen in a
relative light and not seen as hard-and-fast rules.  Anyway, auto-attack
sequences as follows:

    One-handed warrior (sword)
        Attack1 -> 0.6s pause ->
        Attack2 -> 1.0s pause ->
        Attack3 -> 0.8s pause ->
        Attack4 -> 1.3s pause -> [Attack1...]

    One-handed warrior (axe/mace)
        Attack1 -> 0.6s pause ->
        Attack2 -> 0.6s pause ->
        Attack3 -> 0.8s pause ->
        Attack4 -> 1.3s pause -> [Attack1...]

    Two-handed warrior (sword/axe)
        Attack1 -> 0.9s pause ->
        Attack2 -> 1.1s pause ->
        Attack3 -> 1.1s pause ->
        Attack4 -> 1.4s pause -> [Attack1...]
    Attack4 strikes in a circle all around the character.

    Two-handed warrior (maul)
        Attack1 -> 1.1s pause ->
        Attack2 -> 1.3s pause ->
        Attack3 -> 1.8s pause -> [Attack1...]
    All attacks strike with a small area of effect at point of impact.

    Melee rogue (normal daggers)
        Attack1 -> 0.4s pause -> Attack2 -> 0.6s pause ->
        Attack3 -> 0.4s pause -> Attack4 -> 0.6s pause ->
        Attack5 -> 0.5s pause ->
        Attack6 -> 0.5s pause -> [Attack1...]
    Attack1, 3, 5 use main-hand dagger.  Attack2, 4 use off-hand dagger.
    Attack6 strikes with both main and off-hand daggers.

    Melee rogue (at least one dual-blade dagger)
        Attack1 -> 0.8s pause ->
        Attack2 -> 0.7s pause ->
        Attack3 -> 0.9s pause ->
        Attack4 -> 1.1s pause -> [Attack1...]
    All attacks use both main and off-hand daggers.
    Attack4 strikes in a circle all around the character.

    Ranged rogue
        Attack1 -> 0.8s pause -> [Attack1...]
    Note that aznricepuff lists this as a 1s pause, but this is inconsistent
    with in-game damage per second for bows.

    Mage
        Attack1 -> 0.5s pause ->
        Attack2 -> 0.5s pause ->
        Attack3 -> 0.7s pause ->
        Attack4 -> 1.0s pause ->
        Attack5 -> 0.6s pause ->
        Attack6 -> 1.4s pause -> [Attack1...]
    Attack2 is the attack that triggers Gathering Storm (if learned).
    Attack6 actually consists of three projectiles, so it does three time as
        much damage as the other attacks.  It also applies the status effect of
        the staff:  chilled for 4s, shocked for 3s, or burning for 300% weapon
        damage over 4s.

Note that all warrior attacks unless mentioned otherwise strike in a small to
medium arc in front of them, so even though one-handed weapons are not listed
as having an area of effect damage, they can still hit multiple foes (though
two-handed weapons have much larger arcs and are more likely to do so).  Only
melee rogues with dual-blade daggers get this similar arc effect (normal
daggers only strike one foe).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dispel                                                                !mec,dis-

This section exists to basically reinforce the idea to you that dispel is a
really, really great effect.

Only two trees have access to it:  a mage's Spirit tree and a warrior's
specialization into the Templar tree.

What does it do?  A bunch of things, all in unison.
    1.  Removes all hostile effects on your party members.  There doesn't
    appear to be any exception to this; if something is hindering your party
    members (such as the gradual freezing effect that the Dragon Hivernal does
    periodically), it will be removed.
    2.  Removes all hostile environmental effects.  Not too common, but most
    obvious with the various mines that enemey casters like to create
    everywhere.  The slowing ground effects created by Terrors are also
    dispelled by this.
    3.  Removes all beneficial magical effects on enemies.  Not too frequent,
    but most apparent when enemy spellcasters are around, as they seem to be
    able to make other enemies enchanted with an element (most notable by a
    glowing circle at their feet).
    4.  Deals thousands of damage to enemey barriers.  This means completely
    wiping out barriers on weaker enemies and doing insanely efficient damage
    to harder demons/boss-type enemies (not even matched by Spirit Blade).
    5.  Instantly kill demons that are in the process of being created by a
    Fade Rift.  This only works in the period of time where you can see the red
    circles appearing but they still are indicated by a blue dot on your map.
    If you're lucky, you'll be able to get two at once; very rarely you'll be
    ble to get three at once.  Do note that frequently in those cases, the
    enemies you can get multiples of are weaker (generally Spirits) whereas the
    enemies that can only be gotten one at a time are tougher (like Rage Demons
    or Terrors).
    6.  Trigger any combos as an ELDRITCH detonator.

That's a lot of effects and individually may be too specialized, but taken as a
whole makes dispelling a great effect to try to get into your party if at all
possible.

Spell Purge in the Templar tree has the bonus effect that it can be upgraded to
do great amounts of damage whenever it successfully dispels (which includes
effects as well as barrier, though not combo detonations).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Status Effects                                                        !mec,sta-

A slightly more rigorous explanation of status effects.

ASLEEP:  target is completely unable to do anything, is set up for a RUPTURE or
NIGHTMARE combo.  Targets are no longer asleep once they've taken direct
(not ongoing) damage, though there appears to be a little bit of an allowance
for attacks that were already en route when the target was put to sleep; rogues
have a special ability that make targets stay asleep for a few seconds longer
after being hit.

FEAR:  target is running around randomly, unable to do anything.  Targets stop
being feared once they've taken direct (not ongoing) damage, though there
appears to be a little bit of an allowance for attacks that were already en
route when the target was feared.
    Note that beasts (e.g. bears, wyverns, lurkers) tend to not actually run
away when afflicted with FEAR; they merely run in place.  This is actually
pretty good in your favor, since you don't need to worry about keeping track of
them, just in case they run off and snap to their senses near a fragile ally.

FROZEN:  target is completely unable to do anything, is set up for SHATTER
combos.  Targets frozen by an upgraded Ice Mine also have an effective armor
of 0.

PARALYZE:  target is completely unable to do anything, is set up for a
DISCHARGE combo.

SHOCKED:  target takes 20% additional damage (multiplicative) from magical
sources.  This is implemented as a -20 penalty to fire, electric, and cold
resistance [aznricepuff], so for enemies who already have some resistence, you
may see higher than 20% multiplicative bonus.  For example, if an enemy had 50%
resistance to fire, the 20% decrease would leave them with 30%, which means you
effectively just got a 40% bonus to your fire attacks/spells!
    Note that this does not influence spirit resistance, so shocked does not
benefit spirit damage.

STUNNED:  target is completely unable to do anything, is set up for a RUPTURE
or WEAKNESS combo.

SUNDER:  [HYPOTHETICAL] target has 20% reduced armor.  Obviously does nothing
for targets who have no armor.  Is disproportionately good against enemies with
high armor, as this can mean a massive increase in damage for your faster (and
therefore weaker per hit) physical attackers (think melee rogues or one-handed
warriors). Example:  doing 100 damage per hit against someone with 80 armor
yields 20 net damage.  With sundering, you end up doing 36, a whopping 80%
increase!
    Note that individual abilities may do custom amounts of sunder, but it
appears that 20% is the default when not specified otherwise.

WEAKNESS:  targets do 15% reduced damage.  Various rift mage abilities interact
with Weakness (including but not limited to further reduced damage dealing
capability).
    Note that individual abilities may do custom amounts of weakness, but it
appears that 15% is the default when not specified otherwise.
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
General strategic considerations                                          !gen-
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Race                                                                  !gen,rac-

For the most part the race abilities are generally well-balanced so you should
just go for whatever playstyle fits you.  The only caveat to this is that 
the human bonus (an extra ability point) is really good at first and then
diminishes over time as you approach the below-mentioned "ability cap", whereas
the other racial abilities tend to be good throughout the game.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Experience "cap"                                                      !gen,exp-

There's no hard experience cap in DAI.  This is part of Bioware's game design
philosophy that experience caps are restrictive (probably learned from their
early experience with Baldur's Gate where people either complained about or
tried to get around the experience caps), so there should only be "effective"
caps.

But that's not helpful for you, erstwhile reader, who is obviously reading
because they want to do some kind of thinking and/or pre-planning about playing
the game.  So for reference, you are likely to get to level 18 by the end of
game, and depending on how judicious you are with side quests and eager to
explore, this could be level 20.  If you don't mind grinding, then level 22 or
so is probably reasonable.

This translates into 19-23 ability points (counting the two you get pre-
distributed at the start of the game but which you can respec) that you can
plan on getting.  This is roughly enough to master a core skill tree and a
specialization, or some mishmash combination of minor investments in several.
You may also end up with an Amulet of Power or two for your characters which
bestow an extra ability (Varric, in particular, seems to get a lot of these
through his operations).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Ability cap"                                                         !gen,abi-

A problem you will come across as you get into higher levels is that there is
an effective "ability cap," because you are only allowed to allocate eight
active abilities for use in combat, and you can't switch in the middle of
combat.

What this means is that you should prioritize upgrades and passives.  These
improve your characters' power levels without using up a precious ability slot.
A corollary to this is that an ability point "wasted" on an ability you never
use is not wasted if it unlocks the way to some powerful passives.  For
example, Stormbringer in the mage's storm tree and Clean Burn in the mage's
inferno tree are passives that are generally powerful for virtually any mage
build and can easily be worth the one ability point otherwise "wasted" on their
prerequisite active ability once you hit the ability cap.

Another strategy is to come up with a set of "backup" or "altenate" abilities
that you can switch to since for most fights you can actually see what enemies
you're about to face, even for some hard boss/Dragon fights.  For example, a
warrior may not need all of War Cry, Taunt, and Unbowed for trash mob fights,
so you can sub in abilities that do more damage; but the moment you spot a
Dragon you can switch in the full tanking arsenal since that will be more
valuable.  Alternatively, you might have a mage that splits some abilities
between two elemental core trees (maybe to get some passives), let's say
winter and inferno:  when you come into areas with lots of undead (who tend to
be cold resistant) you can swap in your inferno abilities, and vice versa when
you're in areas where you can make use of the freezing abilities of winter.
This way while you are not directly increasing your power once you hit your
"ability cap" you are still increasing your flexibility and combat capability.
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
Warrior                                                                   !war-

Rating System:
    4/4 - Iconic, notable across all ability trees, worth considering for any
        build (or being the centerpiece of a build)
    3/4 - Best-in-tree and worth prioritizing as you level up.
    2/4 - Nothing special.
    1/4 - Meh, may have some situationl use though.
    0/4 - Useless.  Reserved for skills that are particularly buggy.

Because Focus-based abilities are not really a trade-off situation like other
skills (since each character can only have one), I merely rate them on a scale
of "meh", "good", and "amazing".  I also make a note of whether tiers higher
than 1 are worthwhile.

Because iconic (4/4) abilities are particularly good or game-changing, here's
them pulled out and compiled into a quick list:
    Shield Wall (Weapon & Shield)
    Horn of Valor, when upgraded (Battlemaster)
    War Cry (Vanguard)
    Walking Fortress, when upgraded (Champion)
    Spell Purge (Templar)
    Wrath of Heaven (Templar)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Weapon and Shield                                                     !war,wea-

Synopsis:  a great tree; while lacking in straight out offense, has a great
defensive ability in Shield Wall and two solid detonators.

    <1> <2>
    / \ / \
  (3) <4> (5)
    \ / \ /
    (6) (7)
      \ /
      <8>

1.  SHIELD WALL
A toggle-able ability; while on you can't take any other action, but
front-facing or all non-directional attacks (ranged or otherwise) instead take
away a portion of your stamina instead of doing any damage; you also gain guard
for each deflected attack.  You also halt stamina regen while active.
    Damage prevented:  all
    Guard:  [HYPOTHETICAL] discrete 10% generated per 10% of health that would
        have been lost (e.g. 10%, 20%, 30%)
    Cost:  prevents stamina regeneration while active, 10x-1 stamina per attack
        blocked where "x" is the number of discrete 10% guard increments
        generated (e.g. 9stamina, 19stamina, 29stamina)

Upgrade:  CHEVALIER'S STEP
While Shield Wall is active you give an armor boost to nearby allies.
    Area of effect:  4m (centered on you)
    Armor bonus:  30%

Analysis:  4/4
    Even if you plan on being more damage-focused, it's worth contemplating
going weapon and shield style just to take advantage of Shield Wall.  It's a
little skill intensive to make total use of, but even if you just leave the AI
to use it, you'll still get great mileage out of this skill.  Shield Wall is an
amazing way to quickly generate guard and completely negate all manner of heavy
attacks - even non-directional magical effects like mines!  Also gives you a
nice way to approach ranged attackers without taking any damage (provided you
have enough stamina).
    Ability is best if you can actually focus enemy attention on this warrior
so you can deflect all sorts of attacks, which means this works will with
Vanguard trees.  It also works with a higher-damage build (think templar or
reaver specializations) since you'll probably be able to generate enough threat
that way to keep enough hits on you to make Shield Wall a great ability.
    Note too that you can just set up in a choke point with Shield Wall active
and block attacks and projectiles that may be going towards your allies, which
can be very useful in certain circumstances.
    Lastly, even at very little stamina, Shield Wall will still block attacks;
it effectively "gates" damage, though you may get staggered.



2.  PAYBACK STRIKE
Removes any disabling effect on you and does damage to a enemies in front of
you, knocking them back.  If you were recently damaged, you gain a damage
bonus.
    Damage:  200% weapon damage
    Recently damaged threshold:  within 5s
    Recently damaged damage bonus:  100% weapon damage (300% total)
        [thanks to aznricepuff for corrected number]
    Cooldown:  8s
    Cost:  35stamina

UPGRADE:  SWEET REVENGE [BUGGED]
When used while recently damaged, you also stun any taunted enemy.  Payback
Strike also is supposed to do more damage but instead does less.
    Stun duration:  2s
    Buggily changes Payback Strike damage to a flat 200% weapon damage (no
        recently damaged bonus).

Analysis:  2/4
    Presumably since you also have points in Vanguard that "recently damaged
bonus" is always active, which makes this a reliable damage dealer that
occasionally also gets your warrior out of trouble.  Only be warned that the
knockback can put enemies away from your party members' attacks since it
happens so quickly and to such a relatively surprising distance.



3.  BEAR MAULS THE WOLVES (passive)
You can't be flanked and you are less likely to be staggered when attacked from
the front.  You also gain +3 Constitution just for unlocking this passive.

Analysis:  2/4
    Solid if unspectacular defensive ability.



4.  WARRIOR'S RESOLVE (passive)
Every time you lose health, you gain stamina related to how much health you
lost.  You also gain +3 Constitution just for unlocking this passive.
    Stamina restore amount:  10 per 10% health lost (maybe even just 1 per 1%
        health lost)

Analysis:  2/4
    Since your warrior is probably taking a lot of damage, this is a great
stamina generation machine.  Is a great way to power up Shield Wall, since the
other abilities in this tree are fairly cheap.
    Note that this still works even when guard and barrier are active.  In
particular, with barrier active this will be a _massive_ stamina generator
since you will be receiving more effective damage (since attacks against
barrier ignore armor), which reflects a larger chunk of your underlying
health.
    Do note that the better your armor gets, the worse this ability becomes, as
it'll become increasingly likely that you only take 1 damage, which will amount
to 0 stamina regeneration.  Barrier will still give you a huge chunk of stamina
regen, but increasingly this ability will become a no-op.



5.  TURN THE BOLT (passive)
Ranged attacks from the front do less damage.  You also gain +3 Constitution
just for unlocking this passive.
    Ranged damage reduction:  50%

Analysis:  2/4
    Good damage reduction against enemies that are the most annoying for a
melee character like a warrior to deal with; the only trouble is getting them
to attack the warrior to begin with, which can be accomplished with assistive
points in the Vanguard tree (noticing a pattern here?).



6.  SHIELD BASH (acts as IMPACT detonator)
You attack with your shield.  You spin very slightly, bestowing a very small
area of effect of impact.
    Damage:  300% weapon damage
    Bonus damage vs guard:  800% (multiplicative, net 9x)
    Cooldown:  8s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  RING THE BELL [BUGGED?]
You also now have a lunging range with Shield Bash and do bonus guard damage.
    Bonus damage vs guard:  400% (1,200% total multiplicative, net 13x)

Analysis:  3/4
    Solid detonator that has the potential for triggering multiple combos in
close proximity to each other, and a great way to take down enemy guard.  The
lunging effect is a little buggy so it won't always trigger, but the extra
guard damage bonus from the upgrade is itself nice.



7.  LUNGE AND SLASH (acts as IMPACT detonator)
You lunge a distance forward with a strike and if it connects, you follow up
with another attack.
    Hits:  up to 2
    Damage per hit:  175% weapon damage
    Cooldown:  8s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  GREAT LUNGE [BUGGED]
    You gain a damage bonus depending on how far you lunge before hitting the
enemy.  You also trigger no cooldown if you lunged at least 5m [thanks to
aznricepuff for clarifying this mechanic].
    Damage bonus:  125% weapon damage when at least 5m away (300% total)
    Damage bonus:  250% when at 10m away [BUGGED to not work]

Analysis:  3/4
    The warrior's best option for closing distance rapidly (possibly better
than Charging Bull) and a decent detonator to boot.  Between Shield Bash and
Lunge and Slash (both with short cooldowns and low stamina costs), your warrior
could be a master combo detonator.



8.  TURN THE BLADE (passive)
All damage coming to the front is reduced.  You also gain +3 Constitution just
for unlocking this passive.
    Damage resistance:  20%

Analysis:  2/4
    Since you already have a shield (which provides 30% front damage
resistance), this further increases your warrior's survivability, to the point
where most attacks may do 1 damage to you.  May become less important at higher
levels though, where your natural armor gets high enough where this will be a
redundant passive in many fights.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Two-Handed Weapons                                                    !war,two-

Synopsis:  a decent damage-focused tree; though not recommended if you only
have one warrior except on Normal difficulty or less.  This can be a decent
damage tree on higher difficulties (especially since Whirlwind is a great
area detonator), but because of a lack of defense you'll need to be
comparatively more skillful here than in other trees.

    <1> <2>
    /     \
  (3)     (4)
    \     /
    <5> <6>
     |   |
    (7) (8)
      \ /
      <9>

1.  BLOCK AND SLASH
A toggle-able ability; you get put in a defensive position during which you can
do nothing else.  If you are melee-attacked while in this position, you deflect
it harmlessly and do a counter-attack.
    Damage per counter-attack:  150% weapon damage
    Cost:  10stamina to start, 5stamina per second after

Upgrade:  FLAWLESS DEFENSE
Counter-attacks do more damage and also grant you a bit of guard.
    Damage bonus:  100% weapon damage (250% total) [thanks to aznricepuff for
        corrected damage number]
    Guard amount:  15%

Analysis:  2/4
    The Two-handed Weapon tree's answer to Shield Wall.  Not quite as good
because it only affects melee strikes, and you need the upgrade before you can
generate guard, but does have the advantage in that it actively hurts enemies
(though the defensive effect of these abilities is more important).
Unfortunately, the AI is a lot dumber about using Block and Slash than Shield
Wall, so in tactical mode you'll need to micromanage this to be really
effective.



2.  MIGHTY BLOW (acts as IMPACT detonator)
You do a slow-wind-up attack that knocks enemies over and does bonus damage
against enemies already knocked over.
    Damage:  200% weapon damage
    Damage bonus vs knocked down:  100% weapon damage (300% total) [thanks to
        aznricepuff for corrected damage number]
    Cooldown:  16s
    Cost:  50stamina

Upgrade:  EASY TARGET
Mighty Blow costs less stamina and does even more damage against knocked-down
enemies.
    Cost reduction:  15stamina (for a net cost of 35stamina)
    Damage bonus vs knocked down:  50% weapon damage (350% total) [thanks to
        aznricepuff for corrected damage number]

Analysis:  2/4
    Alright damage, but really needs some kind of planning with your other
party members (a Rift Mage comes in handy here) so that you can actually get
enemies knocked down in a predictable fashion.  The wind-up for the attack is
really slow and the AI is really dumb about positioning in tactical mode, so
you essentially need to get this attack started as soon you trigger a knock
down effect (or even before) or else you might miss your window of opportunity.
    As a bonus effect, Mighty Blow is a physical attack that can go right
through an enemy's shield (most melee and directional ranged/magical effects
simply bounce off the shield).



3.  FLOW OF BATTLE (passive)
Each critical hit you do reduces active cooldown times.  You also gain +3
Strength just for unlocking this passive.
    Cooldown reduction:  1s

Analysis:  2/4
    This ability's strength really relies on your spec and your party's spec,
but can let you deal significantly more damage.



4.  SHIELD BREAKER (passive)
Each critical hit you do sunders the enemy, reducing their armor.  The effect
stacks with itself.  You also gain +3 Strength just for unlocking this passive.
    Armor reduction:  20%
    Duration:  12s [thanks to aznricepuff for corrected duration]

Analysis:  1/4
    Sundering effects have diminishing returns the more damage you do, and a
two-handed warrior benefits the least from sundering armor among physical
attackers.  Moreover, rogues have many more ways to sunder, so the net effect
of this ability is that it gives you some marginal party-wide damage boost.



5.  POMMEL STRIKE
You do an attack that stuns the enemy.
    Damage:  300% weapon damage
    Stun duration:  3s
    Cooldown:  20s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  LIGHTNING JAB
You can use Pommel Strike more frequently and the stun lasts longer.
    Cooldown reduction:  4s (for a net cooldown of 16s)
    Stun duration bonus:  1s (4s total)

Analysis:  2/4
    Solid damage, but mostly good because this is one of few ways to get a stun
effect for combo purposes.



6.  WHIRLWIND (acts as IMPACT detonator)
A toggle-able ability:  you do damage to all enemies around you.
    Damage per hit:  70% weapon damage
    Area of effect:  melee range (centered on you)
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  10stamina per second

Upgrade:  RISING WINDS
You do increasing damage with each rotation.
    Damage bonus per rotation:  15% weapon damage (total 70%, 85%, 100%, etc.)

Analysis:  3/4
    A great damage machine in crowded melee fights, especially since as a
warrior you should have some mechanism to keep people on you.  Can be used to
great effect to set off all sorts of combos when there're area of effect
disables like from Ice Mine or Sleeping Powder; also works great with Static
Cage with Lightning Cage upgrade, since the spinning will trigger lots of
bolts of damage (in addition to repeatedly detonating DISCHARGE combos for
anyone who gets jolted back).



7.  GUARD-SMASHER (passive)
You gain a damage bonus against guard.  You also gain +3 Strength just for
unlocking this passive.
    Bonus damage vs guard:  100% (multiplicative)

Analysis:  1/4
    Enemies with guard aren't terribly common so this won't help you for many
fights.



8.  CLEAR A PATH (passive)
Whenever your basic two-handed weapon attack damages more than one enemy, you
gain stamina based on how many additional enemies you hit.  You also gain +3
Strength just for unlocking this passive.
    Stamina restore amount:  10 per enemy hit beyond the first

Analysis:  2/4
    Most two-handed weapons come with an area of effect damage component, and as
a warrior you should have some ability to keep enemies on you, which means this
is a massive stamina generator.  Can be good to make sure you have a full
stamina bar before starting a Whirlwind session.



9.  EARTHSHAKING STRIKE
You make an attack that can hit distant enemies.
    Number of hits:  2
    Damage per hit:  150% weapon damage
    Area of effect:  12m (extending as a straight line from you)
    Cooldown:  20s
    Cost:  50stamina

Upgrade:  SHATTERED GROUND [BUGGED?]
The shockwave from Earthshaking Strike erupts into flames, doing ongoing
damage.
    Duration:  8s
    Burning damage:  200% [!!] weapon damage per second
    Burning duration:  8s

Analysis:  2/4, 3/4 with upgrade
    Really needs the upgrade; warriors just aren't made for good ranged/big aoe
damage, so the limited attack vector and low number of hits cap really hampers
the damage potential of this attack (though two handed warriors inherently have
a high weapon damage which makes this better than the numbers would suggest
compared to say a mage aoe ability).  The upgrade gives you some lasting
effects and makes the math of doing this move a lot better.  It should only do
20% damage per second, so it may be bugged and patched to be weaker.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Battlemaster                                                          !war,bat-

Synopsis:  a runt of a tree; has a great party-wide buff at the end of one of
its arms, but a lack of strong attack abilities means that this tree at best
should fulfill a supplemental role, never being your main focus.

      <1>
      / \
    (2) (3)
    / \ / \
  (4) <5> (6)
    \     /
    (7) (8)

1.  GRAPPLING CHAIN
You try to pull a distant enemy into melee range, doing some damage.
    Damage:  100% weapon damage
    Cooldown:  12s
    Cost:  20stamina

Upgrade:  GIVE THEM THE BOOT
After successfully pulling the enemy to you, you strike them with an attack
that knocks them over.
    Damage:  100% weapon damage

Analysis:  1/4, 2/4 with upgrade
    Grappling Chain is a little fussy to use; some enemies cannot be pulled
altogether, and enemies under immobilization effects cannot be pulled.  Suffers
greatly to comparison against taunts from the Vanguard tree, which also have
great knock-on defensive abilities; though there are some cases where Grappling
Hook is still better than Challenge i.e. trying to pull archers or Despair
Demons into range/away from party members.  The knockback is nice and helps
salvage the ability (pseudo-comboing with a couple skills in the two-handed
tree), though does not happen in cases where the enemy is not pulled to you.
    Things immune to Grappling Hook:
        Anything currently incapacitated
        Anything "immune to physical effects"
        All bosses and elites
        Beasts (i.e. bears, wolves, etc.)
        Wraiths
        Pride Demons



2.  CRIPPLING BLOWS (passive)
Your critical hits leave enemies weakened.  You also gain +3 Strength just for
unlocking this passive.
    Damage reduction:  15%
    Weaken duration:  10s

Analysis:  2/4, 3/4 with a rift or storm mage
    Weaken is always nice to have, but it really benefits well with a rift mage
(who have all sorts of passives requiring weakend enemies) or a storm mage
(wherein you can get lots of free sleep effects by triggering this passive on
SHOCKED enemies).



3.  HAMSTRING (passive)
Attacking an enemy from behind slows them.  You also gain +3 Strength just for
unlocking this passive.
    Speed reduction:  50%
    Duration:  3s

Analysis:  1/4
    Mostly helps when you're trying to chase an enemy trying to flee or going
towards a squishier party member... except taunting effects help even better
than this.



4.  COUP DE GRACE (passive)
You deal more damage to stunned or knocked-down enemies.  You also gain +3
Strength just for unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus:  30% (multiplicative)

Analysis:  1/4, 2/4 with a Rift Mage
    On its own, stun and knock-down is hard to come by, but with a Rift Mage
with Veilstrike (and sometimes Stonefist) this becomes a much more reliable
straight up damage boost.



5.  COMBAT ROLL
You rapidly move into position.
    Cooldown:  2s
    Cost:  20stamina

Upgrade:  ROLL WITH IT
Using Combat Roll removes any disabling effects from you.

Analysis:  1/4
    Theoretically can be used to flank an enemy, but unless this is a second
warrior you're building, you're not going to be able to flank an enemy because
you'll be the tank.  You can also use it to rapidly close distance or flee, but
other trees have much better ways of doing it other than an ability that does
nothing other than move you.



6.  DEEP RESERVES (passive)
At low stamina you regenerate stamina faster.  You also gain +3 Strength just
for unlocking this passive.
    Low stamina threshold:  <50%
    Stamina generation rate bonus:  50%

Analysis:  3/4
    Gives you a sizeable boost to stamina when you need it the most.



7.  HORN OF VALOR [BUGGED?]
Your entire party gains a damage and armor bonus.
    Damage bonus:  15% (multiplicative)
    Armor bonus:  50% (multiplicative) [BUGGED? should be 15%; thanks to
        aznricepuff for corrected number]
    Duration:  10s
    Cooldown:  18s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  THAT'S THE SPIRIT
Horn of Valor has a higher damage bonus.
    Damage bonus bonus:  35% (50% total)

Analysis:  3/4, 4/4 with upgrade
    Great party-wide buff.  The armor bonus is higher in practice than on
paper, which can be great for survivability.  With the upgrade, the net boost
in party efficiency is outstanding.  Too bad you have to go down a somewhat
mediocre tree to get here.  However, the net armor bonus and damage bonus to
your party is so huge that it may be well worth the skill points you have just
to get down here.



8.  WAR HORN
All enemies nearby are panicked.
    Area of effect:  8m (centered on you)
    Fear duration:  6s
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  BREAK THEIR SPIRIT
Your War Horn sunders enemies and also does damage to guard.
    Sunder duration:  6s
    Damage vs guard:  1,200% weapon damage

Analysis:  2/4
    Can be alright, though you should leave the wide crowd-control to mages or
rogues instead of potentially using up so many precious skill points to go down
this side of a mediocre tree.  Still, handy to get a breather in a crowded
melee fight.  With the upgrade has great situational use, doing lots of guard
damage and--in boss fights--frequently fearing all the tiny minions away.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vanguard                                                              !war,van-

Synopsis:  the ability to generate guard is far and away the warrior's
best competitive advantage against all other classes, so this tree is almost
mandatory for any warrior.  Skilled players can get away with just Shield Wall
or Block and Slash, but this tree also lets you taunt enemies, ensuring that
enemies are busy attacking the guy who can generate guard at will instead of
all the other squishy people in your party.  The upshot is that many abilities
in this tree deserve use in any warrior build.

    <1> <2>
    / \ / \
  (3) <4> (5)
    \ / \ /
    (6) (7)
    /     \
  <8>     <9>

1.  WAR CRY
You taunt all nearby enemies within about a ~6m radius.  For each enemy
successfully taunted, you gain guard.
    Taunt duration:  4s
    Guard per taunted enemy:  20%
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  CALL TO ARMS
When you war cry you also gain a boost to your armor for a short while.
    Armor bonus:  200%
    Duration:  10s

Analysis:  4/4
    Takes heat off your party members (within a range) and generates a
potentially massive amount of guard.  Less useful against single-target boss
fights, but 20% guard is still great guard generation.



2.  CHALLENGE
You taunt an enemy and gain guard.
    Taunt duration:  8s
    Guard:  10%
    Cooldown:  16s
    Cost:  20stamina

Upgrade:  THROW THE GAUNTLET
Successfully taunting an enemy with Challenge increases your stamina
regeneration rate.
    Stamina regeneration:  15stamina per second
    Duration:  ~4s

Analysis:  3/4
    Not quite as good as War Cry, but unlike War Cry has a much greater range
(which is handy when fighting enemies with disjointed body parts like Giants
or Dragons).  Might be filler, but as far as filler goes, Challenge still gives
you guard, can pull off a ranged attacker or melee attacker from a squishy
party member, and with the upgrade will help power your other abilities.



3.  UNTOUCHABLE DEFENSE (passive) [BUGGED?]
You gain a bonus to your armor.  You also gain +3 Constitution just for
unlocking this passive.
    Armor bonus when guard active:  20% (additive)

Analysis:  2/4
    This ability is supposed to increase your maximum guard, but intead gives
you bonus armor while guard is active, much like Trust the Steel.  In fact,
the effects stack.



4.  CHARGING BULL
A toggle-able ability; while active, you charge forth, knocking enemies over
and gaining guard for each enemy hit.
    Damage:  150% weapon damage
    Guard per hit enemy:  10%
    Cooldown:  8s
    Cost:  5stamina per second

Upgrade:  GORE AND TRAMPLE
After you finish your charge, your next ability costs no stamina.

Analysis:  3/4
    A great way to close distance and in clustered fights a very good way to
generate lots of guard very quickly.  Useful even in single-target boss fights
because it'll only cost you 5 or 10 stamina to generate 10% guard, which can be
a good time-buyer for something more extensive like War Cry or Unbowed.



5.  TRUST THE STEEL (passive)
When you have active guard, you gain an armor bonus.  You also gain +3
Constitution just for unlocking this passive.
    Armor bonus:  20%

Analysis:  3/4
    You will frequently have guard if you're playing right, so this is just
straight up constant defensive bonus.



6.  IT'LL COST YOU (passive)
A portion of melee damage done to you is dealt to the attacker.  You also gain
+3 Strength just for unlocking this passive.
    Damage returned:  15%

Analysis:  1/4
    Your warrior should be taking a lot of damage for the party, which means
free damage.  Unfortunately, the warrior will also be taking the least damage
of members in the party due to high armor, so the net damage returned might end
up being very low, especially at high levels (where your armor becomes too high
for most trash mobs).



7.  CUTTING WORDS (passive)
Your party gains a damage bonus against actively taunted enemies.  You also
gain +3 Strength just for unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus:  20% (multiplicative)

Analysis:  2/4
    Between War Cry and Challenge, this should be a massive boost in party
damage, especially in single-target boss fights where you can stagger War Cry
and Challenge to keep taunt up quite a lot.



8.  UNBOWED
You gain guard for each enemy nearby (~6m).
    Guard per enemy:  10%
    Cooldown:  32s

Upgrade:  STILL STANDING
Increases the guard generation of Unbowed.
    Guard generation bonus:  100% (multiplicative; 20% per enemy total)

Analysis:  3/4
    Straight up guard generation.  With the upgrade, this is massive, tied with
War Cry for the best guard generation capability out there.  In crowded fights
this freqently means full guard; in boss fights, 20% is nothing to sneeze at.



9.  BODYGUARD
A portion of damage dealt to nearby party members is instead dealt to you.
    Damage redirection:  50%
    Area of effect:  ~15m (centered on/following you)
    Duration:  15s
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  NOT TODAY
Part of the damage redirected to you is ignored.
    Damage resistance to redirected damage:  50%

Analysis:  2/4
    Can be suicidal at higher difficulties or in heavy fights, so make sure
you prioritize the upgrade and load your warrior up with potions; this is
probably best suited for a secondary warrior who's not your main tank, so that
they can just be a massive damage sink for everyone else; taking damage from
everyone else and reducing it thanks to the upgrade means a net reduction in
party damage; it also means that Healing/Regeneration Potions are much more
effective since you can focus them on one person.  Even without much setup, you
can still just selectively use this to take heat off vulnerable party members;
50% damage redirection from your squishy mages/rogues goes a long way in saving
their lives.
    The only trick is that party members need to be in the active radius to
benefit from it.  So, you'll need to do some positional party movement to take
the most advantage of it; or you can just treat it as a damage sink for other
melee characters.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Champion                                                              !war,cha-

Synopsis:  if you really need a super-tank, this plus Vanguard is the way to
go.  You end up losing some flexibility versus a different specialization, but
for a single warrior you can't go wrong.

    <1>
    / \
  (2) (3)
   |\ /|
   |<4>|
  (5) (6)
   |   |
  <7> <8>

1.  LINE IN THE SAND
You create a wall perpendicular to the direction you're facing, with the
warrior at the center of the wall.  The wall can be dispelled/destroyed.
    Size:  6m length, ~1m width
    Duration:  12s
    Cooldown:  20s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  AND NO FURTHER
Makes the wall you create larger.
    Size increase:  +3m length (9m length total)

Analysis:  2/4
    Can be good for all the reasons why Wall of Ice is good.  On the one hand
it's worse because you can't position it as flexibly, but on the other hand you
automatically position it in a way that is advantageous for funnelling enemies
to a tank.  Make sure you're facing the right way, though, as otherwise it
could be embarassing.



2.  BULWARK (passive)
Increases your maximum guard.  You also gain +3 Constitution just for unlocking
this passive.
    Maximum guard bonus:  25%

Analysis:  2/4
    More guard is never a bad thing.



3.  RESILIENCE (passive)
Every time an enemy hits you in melee, there is a chance that they get stunned
in the process.  You also gain +3 Constitution just for unlocking this passive.
    Stun chance:  5%
    Stun duration:  2s

Analysis:  3/4
    Simultaneously extends your tank's survivability and also lets you set up
combos.  What's not to like?



4.  COUNTERSTRIKE (focus-based)
You gain full guard, taunt all nearby enemies, and for the taunt duration you
counter-attack every melee strike you recieve (preventing damage recieved).
    Tier 1:  6s duration
    Tier 2:  12s duration
    Tier 3:  20s duration

Analysis:  good; higher tiers unnecessary
    The counter-strike effect is merely meh, the real star of this ability is
the extra taunt and the instant full-guard.  In a tough fight, you might have
all your guard generators on cooldown - this immediately gets you back up to
full and makes sure you still maintain control of enemy aggression.
    Tiers higher than 1 are not strictly needed; full guard occurs at tier 1
(which is the main star of this ability) and you do not necessarily need such
a long taunt (with good threat management, 6s is all you need to get enemies
refocused on this warrior).



5.  ADAMANT (passive)
You gain an armor bonus.  You also gain +3 Constitution just for unlocking this
passive.
    Armor bonus:  20%

Analysis:  2/4
    More defense is always good, but at high levels may be unnecessarily
redundant with your high armor levels.



6.  UNYIELDING (passive)
An attack that would kill you, but instead you stay alive and are briefly
invulnerable, albeit at low health.  You also gain +3 Constitution just for
unlocking this passive.
    Invulnerability duration:  5s
    Health set to:  5% of maximum
    Cooldown before Unyielding can activate again:  60s
    Adds health gate effect.

Analysis:  3/4
    Having a tank fall unconscious is potentially the worst thing that can
happen in a fight (and may result in a cascading series of failures as your
more squishy party members take heat).  Once a minute this gives you instant
insurance plan, for cases where your warrior is hit straight through their
potion-drinking threshold.  The invulnerability time even means you can get
mileage out of a Regeneration Potion (especially with the Lifeward upgrade).
Ideally your warrior is not getting knocked unconscious all the time (or even
lacking in guard) which limits the full potential of this ability, but that
also means that this ability is virtually guaranteed to not be on cooldown when
you most need it.
    This essentially gives you a health gate effect, a rather rare benefit in
Dragon Age.  See discussion for Guardian Spirit in mag,spi- for more
information.



7.  TO THE DEATH
You taunt an enemy.  While they are taunted, they increasingly do more damage
but also recieve more damage.  The effect ends when you are no longer in melee
range of the enemy.
    Effect range:  15m
    Enemy damage output:  5% increase per second
    Enemey damage taken:  5% increase per second
    Cooldown time:  32s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  EN GARDE
When you use To The Death, you immediately gain some guard.
    Guard:  25%

Analysis:  2/4, 3/4 with upgrade
    An extra taunt is great, but the effect is really weird; decent for squishy
folk, but can be suicidal in cases where you really want that extra taunt
(think Dragons or Giants).  If you can manage that guard and defense really
well, though, you can get a massive damage bonus against your foe (couple with
Walking Fortress for best outcomes).  The upgrade takes away the situational
aspect of it, simply because a categorical 25% guard is great.



8.  WALKING FORTRESS
You become briefly invulnerable.
    Invulnerability duration:  8s
    Cooldown:  32s

Upgrade:  SIEGE-BREAKER
Every attack that strikes you while Walking Fortress is enabled reduces its
active cooldown and generates guard.
    Cooldown reduction:  1s
    Guard:  10%

Analysis:  3/4, 4/4 with upgrade
    Great.  Super great.  Best triggered when your warrior is out of guard,
since this buys you time for those guard generators to run off cooldown.  With
the upgrade, you should just spam this whenever (set to "Preferred" in tactics
mode for AI); not only does this provide near-exponential survival increase,
but is a respectable guard generator in its own right.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reaver                                                                !war,rea-

Synopsis:  not well-suited for cases where you only have one warrior; its chief
abilities are major stamina and health drainers, so even when paired with
Vanguard you won't make for a good tank.  On a secondary warrior, however,
this is a respectable damage tree.

    <1>
    / \
  (2) (3)
   |\ /|
   |<4>|
  (5) (6)
    \ /
    <7>
     |
    <8>

1.  RING OF PAIN
A toggle-able ability.  You create a circle within which enemies constantly
take damage, moreso if you are at lower health.
    Area of effect:  15m (centered on you)
    Spirit damage:  15% weapon damage per second
    Damage bonus:  1.25% for each 1% missing health, multiplicative [thanks to
        aznricepuff for corrected number]
    Cost:  10stamina to start, 5stamina per second after

Upgrade:  TORRENT OF PAIN
While Ring of Pain is active, Devour is easier to use and Dragon-Rage is
cheaper to use.
    Devour cooldown reduction:  4s [8s total]
    Dragon-Rage health cost reduction:  20% [4% health/use]

Analysis:  1/4, 2/4 with complete tree
    This ability is expensive, costing you lots of stamina for a little bit of
ongoing damage.  However, if you complete this tree, the ability gets much
better, firstly because the upgrade actually matters, and because those
abilities in turn benefit from having a Ring of Pain active.



2.  BLOOD FRENZY (passive)
You gain a damage bonus based on how much health you've lost.  You also gain +3
Strength just for unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus:  5% for each 10% missing health (or .5% per 1% missing
        health) (multiplicative)

Analysis:  2/4
    Much of this tree depends on you lacking in health, so this turns out to be
a rather nice, constant damage bonus.  Unfortunately, being lacking in health
all the time can be bad.



3.  FERVOR (passive)
When an enemy dies nearby, you gain a brief damage bonus.  This effect can
stack.  You also gain +3 Cunning just for unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus:  20% (multiplicative)
    Duration:  5s
    Range for enemy death to occur in:  10m (centered on you)

Analysis:  2/4
    Won't help you in huge one-on-one fights, but the radius is pretty
generous, so even incindental foes being killed by a distant party member is
likely to give you a huge boost in damage output.



4.  RAMPAGE (focus-based)
While active, you attack faster, do more damage, and a portion of each hit
heals you.
    Duration:  10s
    Tier 1:  10% attack speed & damage increase and life steal
    Tier 2:  20% attack speed & damage increase and life steal
    Tier 3:  30% attack speed & damage increase and life steal

Analysis:  meh
    You basically need Tier 3 for the life steal to be significant enough to
stave off death.  Apart from that, the boost in DPS is alright, but not huge
considering what the standard other focus abilities set.



5.  TERRIFYING FURY (passive)
Your critical strikes have a chance to panic nearby enemies.  You also gain +3
Cunning just for unlocking this passive.
    Fear chance:  25%
    Fear duration:  6s
    Area of effect:  10m (centered on you)

Analysis:  1/4
    The best part of crowd-control is being able to deploy it when you need it.
Having it go off very randomly (and very contingent on having a high crit
chance set up) is not the best, made especially worse by the fact that this
crowd-control is fear, which goes away when an enemey is damaged, which is
likely since you aren't in control of when this activates so you may just end
up immediately breaking fear.  Can be semi-useful in large melees where you'll
scare off a bunch of incidentals, but that's what the 2/4 rating is
for--situationally good.



6.  SCENTING BLOOD (passive)
If a badly wounded enemy is nearby, you gain a movement speed and critical hit
bonus.  You also gain +3 Constitution just for unlocking this passive.
    Range threshold for wounded enemy:  10m (centered on you)
    Enemy low health threshold:  <35%
    Speed bonus:  50%
    Critical hit chance bonus:  10% (additive)

Analysis:  2/4
    In normal fights an enemy at 35% is going to die soon, so you won't get too
much benefit out of this; in harder fights you'll have sustained damage output
and mobility increases for what is likely the hardest part of it.  Decent, but
but either requires you to play suboptimally (i.e. leaving an enemey that
should be dead alive for the boost) or only kicks in occasionally (as above).



7.  DEVOUR
You do damage based on how wounded you are; you also heal yourself in the
process.  Devour is more effective when inside a Ring of Pain.
    Number of hits:  2 [thanks to aznricepuff for corrected mechanics]
    Damage per hit:  100% weapon damage
    Health restored:  20% of missing health
    Damage bonus:  2% for each 1% health you are missing (multiplicative)
    Ring of Pain bonus to health restored:  40% of missing health (60% of
        missing health total)
    Cooldown:  12s
    Cost:  65stamina

Upgrade:  CONSUME
After using Devour, your next Dragon-Rage has a much better chance to
critically hit.
    Dragon-Rage critical hit chance bonus:  25% (additive)

Analysis:  3/4
    Here's where the tree starts to make sense.  Both a decent attack move that
sets up and benefits from other abilities in this tree, but acts as a
potentially potent healer (with Ring of Pain active):  60% of missing health
means that if you're down to 50% health, you'll get back most of that and get
up to 80% health.  Nice; healing is rare in this game, savor it.  Also try
stacking it with weapons/armor that have bonus to healing effects (Devour is
one of the few consistent ways to benefit from that effect).



8.  DRAGON-RAGE
You do an attack that does more damage the more health you are missing and
which in turn costs you health.  Being in your Ring of Pain improves this
ability.  [from aznricepuff]: Dragon-Rage attacks in a cycling sequence of
three attacks; you will automatically advance to the next attack if your
following attack is made within 5 seconds of the previous.
    Number of hits: 1 (first and second attacks), 2 (third attack)
    Damage per hit:  150% weapon damage
    Damage bonus per each 1% health you are missing (multiplicative):
        1% (first attack)
        2% (second attack)
        3% (third attack)
    Ring of Pain damage bonus:  50% weapon damage (200% total)
    Cost:  5% of your maximum health

Upgrade:  RAVAGE
Your Dragon-Rage does more damage and reduces the cooldown of Devour with each
use.
    Damage bonus:  50% weapon damage (250%+ total)
    Devour cooldown reduction:  2s per hit

Analysis:  3/4
    Unique among abilities in that its paid for by health, and fairly unique in
that it has no cooldown.  A secondary, non-tank warrior will benefit most from
this ability, as that way you can spam this ability, doing increasing damage
for no Stamina, and setting you up for a Devour that will get you back for much
of that health.  The only caveat here is that Devour is fairly expensive
(65stamina) while Ring of Pain is a constant stamina drain, so you need to be
doing normal attacks or specially timing your abilities so that your stamina is
high enough to use Devour.  You could also turn off Ring of Pain; it's still
decent then, and will guarantee that you have enough stamina to use a
well-timed Devour (which you could turn on Ring of Pain just beforehand for).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Templar                                                               !war,tem-

Synopsis:  not as all-out defensive a specialization as Champion, but Rally is
hands-down the best focus ability in the game.  As a result, this may possibly
be even better than Champion since this tree comes with a cross-class combo
detonator and a powerful stun; this makes up for the fact that many of the
abilities are situational on the enemy you're fighting.

  <1> <2>
   |   |
  (3) (4)
   |\ /|
   |<5>|
  (6) (7)
    \ /
    <8>

1.  SPELL PURGE (acts as ELDRITCH detonator) [BUGGED?]
Dispels all magic in a radius around you.
    Area of effect:  5m (centered on you)
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  SPELL SHATTER
When you successfully dispel barrier or other beneficial effects on enemies,
you do massive damage.
    Damage:  600% weapon damage

Analysis:  4/4
    All the reasons why Dispel is great:  insta-kill demons from fade rifts,
do thousands of damage against barriers, and automatically dispel potentially
horrible effects from your party members while ridding enemies of their buffs.
Also acts as an ELDRITCH detonator, which functions as a cross-class combo
with a warrior's disabling effects (which the Templar tree happens to have the
best of).  It lacks Dispel's range, but unlike Dispel it can be upgraded to do
significant damage.
    Note that despite being an Eldritch detonator, Spell Purge buggily
detonates only a subset of the things it should be able to (it doesn't even
trigger a "fake" combo like Stonefist); it _only_ acts as a cross-class
combo detonator (so no combos against frozen or paralyzed guys).  However,
that's perfectly fine, as you mainly want the cross-class detonation anyway.



2.  BLESSED BLADES
You create a circle on the ground that grants all allies with a damage bonus,
increased against demons.
    Area of effect:  ~9m
    Damage bonus vs demons:  15% (multiplicative)
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  10stamina

Upgrade:  LIGHTS IN THE SHADOW
Every attack while buffed with Blessed Blades reduces the active cooldown of
Spell Purge and Wrath of Heaven.
    Cooldown reduction:  .5s

Analysis:  1/4, 2/4 with upgrade
    The buff is decent and cheap to do, though you need to keep your allies
grouped relatively close together to benefit from it.  Without the upgrade is
super situational, but with the upgrade will synergize well with two really
strong abilities.



3.  CHAMPIONS OF THE JUST (passive)
You gain a damage bonus against demons.  You also gain +3 Strength just for
unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus vs demons:  15%

Analysis:  1/4
    Highly situational, though demons are fairly common throughout the game
and main quest.



4.  MAKER'S WILL (passive)
Your entire party has a chance to weaken targets upon an attack.  You also gain
+3 Willpower just for unlocking this passive.
    Weaken chance:  5%
    Weakened duration:  6s

Analysis:  3/4, 4/4 with storm/rift mages in your party
    Weaken is a decent effect to be able to trigger reliably, even better when
you have at leat one rift mage in your party who can gain all sorts of
advantages as a result or a storm mage whose SHOCKED effects will result in
lots of enemies falling asleep from incidental attacks.



5.  RALLY (focus-based)
The entire party generates guard, mana/stamina, and also gains damage
resistance.
    Duration:  15s
    Tier 1:  10% guard, mana, and stamina (re)generation per second, 10%
        damage resistance.
    Tier 2:  20% guard, mana, and stamina (re)generation per second, 20%
        damage resistance.
    Tier 3:  30% guard, mana, and stamina (re)generation per second, 30%
        damage resistance.

Analysis:  amazing; higher tiers unnecessary
    A superb ability with a solid party-wide offense buff and a defensive buff
that, unlike Resurgeance, you don't need to wait for things to go badly to take
advantage of this ability. fall  And of course, unlike healing, this guard can
be used at full health and sticks around (instead of decaying like barrier) so
the benefits of a Rally can last for many fights for your less-frequently-hit
party members.
    Tier 1 is already good enough to turn the tide of battle, even for battles
in the future (thanks to loading up on guard for your party).  Beyond that,
Rally essentially buys you temporary immortality for your entire party and more
mana/stamina than you will ever know what to do with.  In many cases it might
just be an unnecessary "win-more" to wait for higher tiers.



6.  THE LAST SACRIFICE (passive)
When you fall unconscious, you heal your allies and give them a temporary
damage bonus.  You also gain +3 Constitution just for unlocking this passive.
    Healing amount:  100%
    Damage bonus:  50% (multiplicative)
    Duration:  10s
    Cooldown:  60s

Analysis:  2/4
    Abilities that rely on your character falling unconscious aren't great;
though the benefits from this are significant enough that it can help you seize
victory from the jaws of defeat, but in most cases you should never need this
while playing well.



7.  THERE IS NO DARKNESS (passive)
The entire party gains fire, ice, electric, and spirit resistance.  You also
gain +3 Willpower just for unlocking this passive.
    Resistance bonus:  10% (additive)

Analysis:  3/4
    Party-wide defense is never a bad thing.



8.  WRATH OF HEAVEN
You stun and damage all nearby enemies.
    Area of effect:  4m (centered on you)
    Damage:  400% weapon damage
    Stun duration:  4s
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  65stamina

Upgrade:  EMBRACE THE LIGHT
Wrath of Heaven gains a damage bonus against demons and has an increased
stun duration.
    Damage bonus vs demons:  300% (multiplicative; 1,600% total)
    Stun druation bonus:  2s (6s total)

Analysis:  4/4
    The longest-lived stun in the game (when ignoring consumable potions);
the duration also makes it particularly easily to combo with, not to mention
all the knock-on defensive benefits you get from preventing potentially many
enemies from attacking you.  The damage (along with the demon damage bonus) is
just icing on an already very delicious cake.
    Note, too, that the templar has an Eldritch detonator; frequently an
upgraded Wrath of Heaven followed by an upgraded Spell Purge will do enough
damage to instantly kill entire groups of enemies in one go.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notable Builds                                                        !war,not-

Not much to say here, just that if you have only one warrior, it is virtually
mandatory that you get some Vanguard for the guard generation and at least one
taunt.  If you are building a secondary warrior, only then would it be wise to
focus more on damage (Two-Handed plus Templar or Reaver can be decent).

Sample 5-point starter ("+" indicates upgrade as well)
    Vanguard: War Cry, Untouchable Defense, It'll Cost You, Unbowed+
This is a good core starting point to add onto; this will cover the bases for
tanking and give you lots of points leftover to get into another tree and pick
up a specialization.  Higher difficulties may require more investment (though
you can cheat it a little bit by getting a Shield and going down Weapon and
Shield, which offers huge damage reduction).
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Chris's Personal Favorite                                         !war,not,chr-

My personal favorite is a party-buffing semi-tank built on top of the great
damage and versatility of a templar (that I call a "commander" build).  This
relies on good positional/threat management from other party members in
addition to supplemental crowd control due to a lower proportion of investment
in vanguard here.

In exchange for being a bit more skill-intensive (a mage with good
barrier-buffing abilities is necessary here), you get the opportunity to use
Horn of Valor for great party-wide damage/defense, some limited guard
generation for boss fights, and of course the trash-mob-annihilating power of
Wrath of Heaven followed by Spell Purge.  In Nightmare I equip the commander
build with a weapon and shield for the extra defense of a shield, though in
lower difficulties you could easily get away with using a two-handed weapon,
which will supercharge the damage of the Spell Purge combo.

Note that this build is actually not very viable early on as a main tank; you
can sub out Challenge with War Cry for better tanking, but even then it's not
until you get the combined Wrath of Heaven and Spell Purge mayhem that this
build can suffice as your primary tank.  Early on I would bring on another
warrior who cna tank and let this build periodically help out with Grappling
Hook and Challenge and rely primarily on Horn of Valor to contribute to the
party.

"Commander" build:
    Battlemaster:  Grappling Hook+, Crippling Blows, Coup de Grace, Horn of
        Valor+

    Vanguard:  Challenge+, Charging Bull+

    Templar:  Spell Purge+, Blessed Blades+, Maker's Will, Rally, There Is No
        Darkness, Wrath of Heaven+

    + Get the upgrade, too

Total skill count:  19
These skills can be de-prioritized to obtain a minimum-viable subset of 17
skills:
    Grappling Hook+, Charging Bull+

On a human with a couple sources of free skill points (i.e. two Amulets of
Power), this build could hit its minimum-viable subset by level 13.  Once
you've completed out the build, suggestions for further investment include
picking up passives in the Vanguard and Weapon & Shield tree for more defensive
prowess.
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
Rogue                                                                     !rog-

Rating System:
    4/4 - Iconic, an ability worth considering for any build (or being the
        centerpiece of a build)
    3/4 - Best-in-tree and worth prioritizing as you level up.
    2/4 - Nothing special.
    1/4 - Meh, may have some situationl use though.
    0/4 - Useless.  Reserved for skills that are particularly buggy.

Because Focus-based abilities are not really a trade-off situation like other
skills (since each character can only have one), I merely rate them on a scale
of "meh", "good", and "amazing".  I also make a note of whether tiers higher
than 1 are worthwhile.

Because iconic (4/4) abilities are particularly good or game-changing, here's
them pulled out and compiled into a quick list:
    Long Shot (Archery)
    Stealth (Subterfuge)
    Opportunity Knocks (Artificer)
    And Take Them Down (Artificer)
    Flask of Lightning (Tempest)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Double Daggers                                                        !rog,dou-

Synopsis:  melee rogues will generally require this tree. Some can get away
with just investments in Stealth and/or Subterfuge so long as they have a good
specialization paired with it.  Note that unless otherwise stated, weapon
damage multipliers use only your main hand's dagger.

    <1> <2>
    / \ / \
  (3) <4> (5)
    \     /
    (6) (7)
    /     \
  <8>     <9>

1.  FLANK ATTACK
You make two strikes; after the first strike you warp through your enemy to get
on their otherside before making the second.
    Number of hits:  2
    Damage per hit:  200% off-hand weapon damage [thanks to aznricepuff for
        clarifying this mechanic]
    Cooldown time:  8s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  SKIRMISHER
You stealth after doing a flank attack.

Analysis:  3/4
    A good solid attack that can instantly position you on an enemy's flank
(though no good if you're already behind the enemy).  The stealth will
momentarily drop any aggro, though the enemy will resume any threat once you
reappear.  Even better if you have Easy to Miss from the Subterfuge tree, which
reduces all threat you have on an enemy by 100% if you flank an enemy.



2.  TWIN FANGS (acts as PRECISION detonator)
You jump up into the air and do an attack with both daggers.  You do extra
damage if you're currently flanking your target.
    Number of hits:  2
    Damage per hit:  200% weapon damage, first with main hand, second with
        off-hand
    Flanking bonus when flanking: 100% (i.e. a Flanking damage bonus of 25%
        becomes 125% when doing a flank attack with Twin Fangs) [thanks to
        aznricepuff for clarified bonus damage mechanic]
    Cooldown time:  8s
    Cost:  50stamina

Upgrade:  RIPPED FANGS
If you're flanking your target, your Twin Fangs also sunders the enemy.
    Bonus flanking bonus when flanking:  100% (200% total bonus)
    Sunder duration:  8s
    Sunder strength is at 40% reduction, not 20%.

Analysis:  3/4
    Solid damage, especially since you should be able to easily flank your
enemey thanks to the many positional skills a rogue has (even just Flank Attack
in this tree will do the job).  It also is a PRECISION detonator, so you'll be
able to see some huge damage numbers while you RUPTER/DISCHARGE/SHATTER the
enemy away.



3.  BLOODIED PREY (passive)
You gain a damage bonus against enemies who have less absolute health than you.
You also gain +3 Cunning just for unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus:  10%

Analysis:  1/4
    Most enemies have way more health than you, so this only helps you when
you are on the verge of killing an enemy.



4.  PARRY
You make a move to block an attack from enemy and then strike the enemy with a
quick strike.
    Damage:  200% weapon damage [thanks to aznricepuff for clarified number]
    Ignores 50% of attacker's armor.
    Cost:  10stamina

Upgrade:  EFFORTLESS RIPOSTE
If you actually counter a blow, no stamina is used up.

Analysis:  1/4
    Can be somewhat useful with a good trigger finger, but of all the things
for your rogue to do this has some serious opportunity cost, especially since
you should have a good tank and some good backup skills such that your rogue
isn't getting too much hate to necessitate this ability.  Plus, this won't do
anything against a melee rogue's *really* annoying threats:  ranged attackers
and casters.



5.  DANCE OF DEATH (passive)
You regain stamina everytime an enemy you're actively attacking dies.  You also
gain +3 Dexterity just for unlocking this passive.
    Stamina restore amount:  50

Analysis:  1/4
    Is more of a "win more" than a "help me win" - your stamina regenerates so
quickly anyway that your main constraint is cooldowns, not stamina.



6.  UNFORGIVING CHAIN (passive)
Each attack adds to your critical hit chance (a bonus that stacks).  When you
do critical hit, the bonus resets back to 0 and starts over again.  You also
gain +3 Dexterity just for unlocking this passive.
    Bonus critical hit chance per hit:  1%

Analysis:  1/4
    You rack up critical hits a lot quicker, but this is mostly of benefit to a
melee rogue who has low critical hit chance (which shouldn't hopefully be the
case later on in the game), as otherwise you'll likely only see an average
boost of a few percentage points to your critical hit chance from this skill.



7.  SNEAK ATTACK (passive)
When you attack an enemy's flank, you have doubled the chance of a critical
hit.  You also gain +3 Cunning just for unlocking this passive.
    Critical hit chance multiplier:  2x

Analysis:  3/4
    Unlike the similar Unforgiving Chain passive, this is of almost universal
benefit since any melee rogue should be good at flanking the enemy, resulting
in a significant damage boost; only for the most low-critical-hit-chance
melee rogues (which should be an anomaly) is this not better than Unforgiving
Chain.



8.  SPINNING BLADES
You spin around and make multiple quick attacks.
    Number of hits:  5
    Damage per hit:  75% weapon damage
    Cooldown:  16s
    Cost:  65stamina

Upgrade:  NEVERENDING SPIN
If you connect with your first attacks, you gain an additional number of hits.
    Additional hits:  4 (9 total)

Analysis:  2/4
    Decent damage, though mainly serves as cooldown filler between Flank Attack
and Twin Fangs.  Also aside from specific interactions based on hits (since
this triggers up to 9), this has trouble in the comparison with Deathblow also
in this tree, which can also detonate.



9.  DEATHBLOW (acts as PRECISION detonator) [BUGGED?]
You do an attack that triggers a bonus attack against enemies who have low
health.  [Thanks to aznricepuff for clarifying this two-hit mechanic.]
    Damage per hit: 200% weapon damage
    Number of hits: 1-2
    Damage bonus:  3% additional per 1% missing HP on target (multiplicative)
    Health threshold for extra hit:  enemy has <50% health
    Cooldown:  8s
    Cost:  50stamina [when not in tactical mode, the second hit also costs
        stamina]

Upgrade:  THRILL OF VICTORY
Your deathblow does more damage, and if it kills the enemy the cooldown is
instantly reset.
    Damage bonus:  100% weapon damage (300% total)

Analysis:  3/4
    Gives a melee rogue a second detonator ability and is rather decent against
low-health enemies.  For high-health enemies, it basically is just a filler
ability to use while the better Flank Attack and Twin Fangs are still on
cooldown.
    The upgrade is interesting and requires some careful usage, though I
believe it triggers if you detonate a combo and the combo damage itself ends up
killing the foe, so for good measure you can freeze/stun/paralyze the foe and
then Deathblow them.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Archery                                                               !rog,arc-

Synopsis:  At least a few points here are absolutely mandatory for a ranged
rogue; you can try and supplement it with Sabotage, but skipping this tree
entirely will horribly cripple your damage output.

    (1) (2)
    /     \
  <3> <4> <5>
    \     /
    (6) (7)
      \ /
      <8>

1.  DEATH FROM ABOVE (passive)
You do more damage when you are at a higher elevation than your target.  You
also gain +3 Cunning just for unlocking this passive.
    Maximum bonus damage:  25%
    Maximum height difference:  2m

Analysis:  1/4
    This bonus is hard to take advantage of in many fights, so a lot of time
it's just useless.  When you can get your ranged rogue in place, it's good.



2.  FIRST BLOOD (passive)
You do more damage to enemies that have most of their health remaining.  You
also gain +3 Dexterity just for unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus:  15%
    Health threshold:  >80%

Analysis:  1/4
    Enemies spend very little time at such high levels (except for fights
involving dragons or giants, but even then most of your time--by
definition--occurs outside the threshold).  So it's at best a slight damage
bonus and mostly works to combine with opening-shot shenanigans with Full Draw.



3.  LEAPING SHOT
You jump away from your target, launching a volley of weak shots in the
process that have a wide spread.
    Damage:  60% weapon damage per secondary projectile, 175% for main
        projectile [thanks to aznricepuff for clarifying this mechanic]
    Projectiles:  12 secondary, 1 main
    Cooldown:  12s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  ROLLING DRAW
Your next basic attack after a Leaping Shot gains a damage bonus and knocks
down the target.
    Damage bonus to next basic attack:  200% (multiplicative)

Analysis:  3/4
    A positional and potentially very powerful attack combined into one, can
instantly put you into a viable threshold for a Long Shot damage bonus (not to
mention getting you away from melee agressors).  Has great synergy with traps;
lay one as an enemy approaches (or after you Hook and Tackle in), then use
Leaping Shot to quickly get away.  Upgrade adds extra survivability since you
can know knockover the foe you just fled from, but doesn't buff any special
abilities. Do note that the volley of shots has a shotgun-like spread, so at
large distances not many of them will connect, though it is seriously
damaging when you are most likely to use Leaping Shot (i.e. up close).
    Major caveat:  for AI-controlled party members I strongly recommend against
leaving this on to be automatically used; they will use it in all manner of
inappropriate situations, meaning it'll be on cooldown for when they actually
need to get away or reposition, and also meaning that they'll be using it
suboptimally (i.e. when few of the volleys will actually connect).
    There are potential synergies with Leaping Shot, a high critical hit rate
and the various critical-hit-dependent passives in Sabotage and Artificer;
each individual Leaping Shot hit counts distinctly for these purposes.  With
all of the passives in place, a single Leaping Shot (combined with the critical
hits your other party members are getting) can be enough to (in addition to
re-positioning for a powered-up Long Shot) refill your stamina and reset your
cooldowns (including Leaping Shot's).  With mutually distant enemies, it even
becomes possible to volley back and forth almost indefinitely between them.



4.  LONG SHOT (acts as PRECISION detonator)
You fire a shot that does significantly more damage if you're far away from
your target.
    Damage:  200% weapon damage
    Damage bonus:  600% weapon damage at distances 15m or more (800% total)
    Cooldown:  8s
    Cost:  50stamina

Upgrade:  ARCHER'S LANCE
Long shot now keeps going through its target, doing some bonus damage per
target it hits.
    Damage bonus:  ???

Analysis:  4/4
    Good stable damage, gives you a ranged Precision detonator (effectively
making this the only non-Eldritch ranged detonator, a special distinction).
Really good if you can position your ranged rogue well, as 800% weapon damage
is no laughing matter.
    The damage bonus is not quite clear from the upgrade, but the main benefit
is that your shots won't be stopped unexpectedly by an enemy getting in the
way.  In fact, the shots will actually home a little to hit successive enemies,
up to within about a narrow 30 degree arc or so.



5.  EXPLOSIVE SHOT
You fire a shot that explodes and damages enemies in an area of effect.
    Maximum number of hits:  2 in addition to your target
    Damage:  100% weapon damage
    Area of effect:  4m
    Cooldown:  12s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  CHAIN REACTION
Your explosion does more damage the more enemies are nearby.
    Damage bonus per nearby enemy:  25% weapon damage
    Maximum damage bonus:  100% weapon damage (200% total)

Analysis:  2/4
    It's not the kind of area of effect damage that mages can brag about, but
it's still something.



6.  STRAFING SHOT (passive)
You can move faster while firing.  You also gain +3 Dexterity just for
unlocking this passive.
    Firing movement speed bonus:  100%

Analysis:  1/4
    Can help you position faster, though you might just be better off moving.
Completely useless in tactical mode since there's no way to tell someone to
move while firing.



7.  PINCUSHION (passive)
Each successive attack does increasingly more damage to the target.  You also
gain +3 Dexterity just for unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus per attack:  5% (stacks)
    Maximum duration for any given bonus:  10s

Analysis:  3/4
    It might behoove you to pay attention to the relative attack speed of your
weapon:  listed DPS divided by listed damage all multipled by 45 = maximum
damage bonus you can get with this ability (it's 45 instead of 50 because your
first attack itself has no benefit despite kicking off the 10s timer).  I'm not
sure how much variance there is, but you should prefer weapons with a higher
divergence of DPS and listed damage (indicating a faster attack speed) given
the choice.



8.  FULL DRAW
You take a short time to prepare an attack and then do significant damage, with
a damage bonus against unharmed enemies.
    Damage:  800% weapon damage
    Activation delay:  ~2-3s
    Damage bonus against full health:  800% weapon damage (1,600% total)
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  65stamina

Upgrade:  STUNNING SHOT
Full Draw also puts enemies to sleep.
    Sleep duration:  20s

Analysis:  2/4, 3/4 with upgrade
    Mainly good as an opening shot or for use against new enemies joining the
fight, as otherwise the activation delay means that you should prefer a Long
Shot given the chance; otherwise still serves as an ok filler between cooldowns
though the ability damage isn't as great as you think it is because of the
opportunity cost of basic attacks you're giving up by prepping a Full Draw.
    With upgrade you get a nice disabling effect that can either keep enemies
out of the fight for a while (almost long enough to chain-sleep them with
successive Full Draws), or prep them for a nice WEAKNESS/NIGHTMARE combo.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sabotage                                                              !rog,sab-

Synopsis:  A tree that can help fill in for both melee and ranged playstyles,
but lacks the oomph to be a main tree so needs backing up with a different core
rogue tree or investment in an appropriate specialization.

    <1> <2>
     |   |
    (3) (4)
    / \ / \
  (5) <6> (7)
    \     /
    <8> <9>

1.  POISONED WEAPONS
For a short time, all your attacks poison the enemy, doing damage over time.
    Duration:  10s
    Damage:  22.5% weapon damage per second [thanks to aznricepuff for
        corrected damage number]
    Poison duration:  8s
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  20stamina

Upgrade:  INFECTED WOUNDS
You gain a damage bonus to your attacks while Poisoned Weapons is active.
    Damage bonus:  10% weapon damage (to all attacks, basic or ability)

Analysis:  3/4
    For very little stamina provides a steady damage bonus with everything you
do (even your special abilities, so long as they involve your weapons, will
poison the enemy).  Not to mention that it has heavy synergy with the left-side
of this tree.
    Notably, poison gives your rogue a way to do damage that ignores armor.
It's not massive, but it's something.  Do note that it appears that the same
poison effect does not stack with itself, so repeatedly attacking the same
target with Poisoned Weapons won't do much other than refresh the duration.
You're better off attacking as many foes as you can for the duration (which
makes this slightly better for a ranged rogue who won't have to move to do so).



2.  CALTROPS
Scatter spikes all around you, slowing enemies and doing a low amount of
constant damage.  This counts as a trap.
    Duration:  30s
    Area of effect:  3m (centered on you)
    Damage:  10% weapon damage per second
    Speed reduction:  25%
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  TREAD LIGHTLY
Increases spread of Caltrops and slows enemies more.
    Radius bonus:  2m (5m total)
    Speed reduction bonus:  25% (50% total)

Analysis:  1/4
    Piddlingly little damage and the upgrade is mandatory just to get the
slowing effect to a noticeable level.  Even though this ability seems geared
for a ranged rogue who wants to kite their enemy, in reality you'll have other
party members to help divert attention and a true archer will have something
like Leaping Shot anyway to get away.  So this is actually probably best for a
melee rogue who can drop this in a pitched melee and get a small damage boost
(10% times two or three enemies is not bad, given the long duration) and make
sure any enemy who tries to break away is slowed enough that they can be pulled
back into the fight before they have a chance to hurt squishier ranged party
members.  Even then, the damage is low and a good tank should be able to mostly
keep enemies nearby, so despite its cheap cost the ability is still on the low
end of effective.



3.  FIGHTING DIRTY (passive)
Increases duration of all sunder and poison effects you inflict.  You also gain
+3 Dexterity just for unlocking this passive.
    Duration bonus:  25%

Analysis:  2/4
    Extra damage for poison is good, though sunder is a bit weaker and harder
to consistently come by.



4.  LOOKED LIKE IT HURT (passive)
When you criticaly hit you immediately regain some stamina.  You also gain +3
Cunning just for unlocking this passive.
    Stamina restored:  10stamina

Analysis:  3/4
    Can be really, really good in a high critical hit rate build (essentially
keeping you at full stamina all the time).  Works well in particular with an
artificer since the artificer not only has ways to boost your critical hit rate
(and benefit from it) but also has one notable ability that benefits from
having full stamina all the time (upgraded Elemental Mines).  Even without a
critical hit rate-specific build, a rogue naturally has a higher critical hit
rate than other classes (thanks to preferred bonuses to the cunning attribute)
so you'll still get a steady increase in stamina from this.



5.  EXPLOSIVE TOXIN (passive)
If an enemy dies while under your poison, they leave behind a large green cloud
that does ongoing damage to enemies in it.  You also gain +3 Dexterity just for
unlocking this passive.
    Duration:  8s
    Area of effect:  3m (centered on dead enemy)
    Damage:  50% weapon damage per second

Analysis:  2/4
    Great provided you can focus-fire and make sure an enemy dies quickly while
poisoned.  Best for crowded fights - pick the weakest guy, kill him first, and
that cloud will help take out the next one.  However, not very helpful when
dealing with enemies who like to stay away or for hard boss-type fights with
only one main foe.



6.  HOOK AND TACKLE
You launch a grappling hook at an enemy within ~20m and pull yourself towards
them, doing some damage.
    Damage:  100% weapon damage
    Cooldown:  12s
    Cost:  20stamina

Upgrade:  IT BEATS WALKING
Hook and Tackle no longer has a stamina cost or a cooldown.

Analysis:  2/4 melee or ranged artificer, 1/4 ranged non-artificer
    Can be a semi-decent way of quickly moving to the next target for a melee
rogue, is next to useless for a ranged rogue.  Shines with the Artificer tree,
since this lets you move quickly into trap-laying range, drop a Spike trap or
Caltrops, and then either get out really quickly (using Fallback Plan or
Leaping Shot) or stay and melee.



7.  CHEAP SHOT (passive)
When you critically hit, you also sunder your enemies.  You also gain +3
Cunning just for unlocking this passive.
    Duration:  12s [thanks to aznricepuff for corrected duration]
    Sunder strength:  50% armor reduction

Analysis:  2/4
    Requires some special speccing to really get a lot out of it, the Cunning
boost helps since it contributes to critical hit chance.  Also benefits
physical-attack-heavy parties since sunder is an effect that provides no gain
for casters (whose attacks/abilities already ignore armor), though sunder gets
less good the better your weapons are.



8.  TOXIC CLOUD
[Thanks to aznricepuff for clarifying the mechanics of this ability]: You
create a toxic cloud around yourself, poisoning enemies.
    Cloud duration:  12s
    Cloud damage:  22.5% weapon damage per second
    Poison duration:  14s
    Poison damage:  30% weapon damage per second
    Area of effect:  3m (centered on you)
    Cooldown:  15s
    Cost:  50stamina

Upgrade:  CONTACT POISON
Reduces Toxic Cloud's cooldown.
    Cooldown reduction:  5s (for a final cooldown of 10s)

Analysis:  3/4 melee, 2/4 ranged
    Great for a melee rogue to just toss around while in close-quarters combat,
essentially acting like Caltrops except doing much more damage at the
expense of any slowing effect.
    Ranged rogues will miss out on it a bit, unless as a parting move at an
enemy trying to close distance or when paired with either Leaping Shot from the
Archery tree or Hook and Tackle here.
    Note that you don't need the upgrade to get the poisoning effect, which
means that this ability has solid damage potential from the get-go.



9.  THROWING BLADES
You throw knives at all nearby targets, doing damage and sundering them.  If
there are fewer targets than the maximum, you'll hit the same target more than
once.
    Maximum number of hits:  5 [thanks to aznricepuff for corrected hit count]
    Damage per hit:  100% weapon damage
    Duration:  8s
    Sunder strength:  50% armor reduction
    Cooldown:  12s
    Cost:  50stamina

Upgrade:  PRECISION TARGETTING [BUGGED?]
If there are fewer than four viable targets, then every time a knife hits the
same target, it gets a damage bonus based on how many other knives already hit
that target.
    Damage bonus:  25% per previously-hit knife [may not actually work]

Analysis:  3/4
    Can be a way to quickly make tough enemies easier for other warriors/rogues
to take down, not as useful against lightly-armored enemies or if in a heavy
mage party, but fortunately the upgrade gives it rather nice damage agains
single targets, though may be bugged so it doesn't work
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Subterfuge                                                            !rog,sub-

Synopsis:  basically every rogue will find something to like in this tree; can
be both a great supplement or a cornerstone for a build.

       <1>
       / \
    (2)   (3)
     |     |
    <4>   <5>
    / \   / \
  (6)  <7>  (8)

1.  STEALTH
You drop a smoke bomb and become invisible for a long time or until you attack,
use a potion, or take damage, though some enemies (ones marked "perceptive")
may still reveal you, and still others may be in the process of launching a
ranged attack against you that may connect after you've been stealthed and
which will end up revealing you.  Attacks made shortly out of stealth gain a
damage bonus.
    Damage bonus:  50% (multiplicative)
    Damage bonus duration:  1s
    Duration:  30s
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  20stamina

Upgrade:  LOST IN THE SHADOWS
Stealth is now instantaneous and also dispels disabling effects off you.  You
can also walk straight through enemies.

Analysis:  4/4
    Amazing survival and maneuverability.  Instantly stop most attacks against
you and with the upgrade get out of disabled situations.  Reposition to the
flank or get out of combat or disrupt a rift.  The damage bonus can be
exploited with some high-damage ability.  Every rogue, ranged or melee,
benefits from this (imagine a from-stealth Full Draw).



2.  EVASION (passive)
You get a chance to completely avoid attacks.  You also gain +3 Dexterity just
for unlocking this passive.
    Evade chance:  5%

Analysis:  2/4 for melee, 1/4 for ranged
    Rather forgettable - may help in a pinch against sustained ranged attacks,
but in melee you should be doing a lot of threat management such that you'll
mainly just be taking incidental damage.



3.  EASY TO MISS (passive)
The threat you have against enemies is reduced, significantly so if you flank
them.  You also gain +3 Cunning just for unlocking this passive.
    Threat reduction:  25%
    Flanking threat reduction:  100%

Analysis:  3/4 for melee, 2/4 for ranged
    Makes it a lot easier for a melee rogue to be a melee rogue.  Both Double
Daggers and this very tree have ways to get you onto an enemy's flank, wherein
you generate no threat whatsoever, indespensible for long boss fights where
your high damage output can attract unwanted attention.  Ranged rogues can
still benefit from the 25% threat reduction, though it's not nearly as good
since flanking with a ranged weapon is harder to pull off.
    Note that a side effect of having a 100% flanking threat reduction is that
if you navigate your way behind an archer-type without triggering threat in the
first place (Stealth or Evade are handy here), you can freely hit them with all
sorts of attacks and your rogue will _never_ be targetted by the ranged
attacker.  In effect, this ability lets your melee rogues become really good at
taking out a really annoying category of foes.  While this strategy is true
against any enemy, archer-types are notable in that they are fairly stationary
(melee enemies and even ranged caster-types like Wraiths tend to move around a
lot), making them a fairly safe fire-and-forget target for assassination, once
flanked.



4.  EVADE
You make a quick jump that can be used to dodge attacks.
    Cooldown time:  2s
    Cost:  20stamina

HIDDEN STEP
You leave a decoy as you evade; enemies who hit the decoy cause it to explode
in smoke and deal damage.
    Duration:  ~1.5s or until hit
    Damage:  300% weapon damage if hit

Analysis:  3/4
    A minor survivability trick, but really good at position management.  It's
super cheap and has an insanely short cooldown such that you can dance around
the battlefield very quickly.  Melee rogues can use it to jump to new targets,
get away from a dangerous target, or get into flanking position (though you
can't generally evade _through_ an enemy, you may still be able to evade _over_
them in some cases).  Ranged rogues can also do these things and the flanking
maneuvering may be more important since ranged rogues generally have a harder
time getting into flanking position (simple geometry indicates that ranged
rogues have a much larger distance to traverse to circumnavigate an enemy into
flanking position).
    The upgrade is a little confusing and I think is the cause of a lot of
false claims of bugginess.  Basically, when you evade you very briefly leave
behind a decoy. If an enemy was basically in mid-attack as you evaded, they'll
hit the decoy instead of you; the decoy will explode in smoke and deal damage
to nearby foes.  The window of time is _really_ small, however and may not even
be stopped by tactical mode, so your timing has to be pretty good.



5.  KNOCKOUT POWDER
You throw some powder in front/around you, putting enemies to sleep.
    Sleep duration:  10s
    Area of effect:  6m (in a sort of cone in the direction you target)
    Cooldown:  20s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  DEEP SLEEP
Increases how long enemies stay sleeping, and they stay asleep for a little bit
even after they've been attacked.
    Duration bonus:  10s (20s total)
    Damaged sleep duration:  3s (instead of 0)

Analysis:  3/4
    Sleep is like panic in that enemies wake up when hit (with some allowance
for hits that occur just as they fall asleep), so it's not spectacular as a
disabling effect, though unlike panic you can combo off sleep, which makes
Knockout Powder quite good (you can end up with a panic effect anyway by
detonating with an ELDRITCH detonator).  Even better with Deep Sleep which will
make this ability unique amongst *all* combo primers that enemies will stay
momentarily incapacitated even after you detonate (though mainly useful for
non-NIGHTMARE detonations).



6.  AMBUSH (passive)
While in stealth and shortly after leaving it, your attacks ignore some of your
target's armor.  You also gain +3 Dexterity just for unlocking this passive.
    Armor penetration:  50%
    Duration:  6s

Analysis:  3/4
    Short-term damage boost and you're probably going to be frontloading some
powerful attacks when coming out of stealth which will magnify the impact.  Has
a nice synergy with the Flank Attack upgrade that re-stealths.



7.  SHADOW STRIKE (acts as PRECISION detonator) [BUGGED]
You lunge forward ~4m and strike your enemy, doing more damage if you were
either stealthed or have not been damaged in a while.
    Damage:  400% weapon damage
    Stealth bonus damage:  none [BUGGED]
    Uninjured bonus damage:  50% (multiplicative)
    Uninjured time threshold:  5s
    Cooldown:  16s
    Cost:  50stamina

Upgrade:  QUICK BLADE
You can use Shadow Strike more frequently, and if you are flanking the opponent
when you use it all your active cooldowns are reduced.
    Cost reduction:  10stamina (for a net cost of 40stamina)
    Cooldown reduction:  4s

Analysis:  3/4
    Really solid damage dealer, does great damage on its own, with possibility
of even more for doing things that you should already be doing (i.e. exploiting
Stealth and avoiding threat).  The lunging effect is really great for
detonating combos, letting you close the gap rapidly (not to mention the
ability activates quicker than either Twin Fangs or Flank Attack).  Only
problem is that your characters won't bother to try to walk into range first
before lunging, so you can easily wastefully lunge and miss.  Fortunately, a
miss like this doesn't use up stamina or start the cooldown, so you could
actually use this to help rapidly close the gap with an enemy (especially since
when ordering the AI to move the AI likes to pause a little before starting).



8.  MERCY KILLING (passive)
Attacks on sleeping or panicked enemies are automatic critical hits.  You also
gain +3 Cunning just for unlocking this passive.

Analysis:  2/4
    Attacks against sleeping or panicked enemies will bump them out of that
state.  At least with this you can use a highly damaging ability and make sure
that that first hit is lethal (or at least close to it).  But as a share of
total party damage, it'll take a lot of effort to get a lot of mileage out of
it.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Artificer                                                             !rog,art-

Synopsis:  requires a lot of positional micromanagement to get the most out of
it, and is hampered by the fact that it's schizophrenic in whether or not it
wants to reward you for being melee or for being ranged, to the point that some
abilities are good for mainly one or the other, not both.  Properly executed, a
decent tree, but the more impatient among you will find it underwhelming.

    <1>
    / \
  (2) (3)
   |\ /|
   |<4>|
  <5> <6>
   |   |
  (7) (8)

1.  SPIKE TRAP
You lay a trap at your feet; a nearby enemy will trigger it, taking damage and
being knocked into the air.
    Damage:  300% weapon damage
    Cooldown:  16s
    Cost:  35mana

Upgrade:  WATCH YOUR STEP
Using Spike Trap doesn't break stealth and enemies are launched higher into the
air.

Analysis:  2/4
    Solid, cheap damage that also acts as a temporary crowd control; the
knocking effect has a pseudo-combo with a warrior's Mighty Blow or Coup De
Grace.  However, if you're an archer, you either have to pre-emptively lay it
aggressively and wait for enemies to wander into it or use (a hopefully
upgraded) Hook and Tackle to close the distance rapidly, or else waste a lot of
time and potentially-dealt-damage just to move close to an enemy.
    The upgrade gives a slight increase in the crowd control duration, but also
lets you get free damage.  This can potentially be exploited (albeit very
weakly) since Stealth has such a very long duration that you can get two traps,
run away, and try again when Stealth can be used at fullpower again.
    Note that it may not be as obvious as poison or Elemental Mines, but Spike
Trap does damage that ignores armor, so a 300% here is actually better than
300% in other rogue trees against targets with armor.



2.  SET THEM UP (passive)
Your traps do more damage.  You also gain +3 Willpower just for unlocking this
passive.
    Trap damage bonus:  25%

Analysis:  3/4
    Absolutely essential for this specialization.  In theory this also benefits
Caltrops in the Sabotage tree (a skill that goes out of its way to explain that
yes, it benefits from skills that improve traps), but Caltrops do such
piddlingly little damage to begin with that it's mostly irrelevant.



3.  OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS (passive)
When anyone in your party critically hits, you gain a reduction to your active
cooldowns.  You also gain +3 Cunning just for unlocking this passive.
    Cooldown reduction:  .5s

Analysis:  4/4
    If you spec your party right, this can be fairly brutal for the artificer,
but even for the average party and average fight you'll find your cooldowns
refreshing faster.
    As mentioned under Leaping Shot, this has a surprising synergy given a high
critical hit rate.  Each hit from a Leaping Shot can individually critical hit,
which can mean that a single Leaping Shot (along with other critically-hitting
party members) can instantly reset all your other cooldowns, potentially even
Leaping Shot's (in addition to potentially re-filling your Stamina).



4.  HAIL OF ARROWS (focus-based)
While active, every arrow you fire or ARchery ability used is duplicated.
    Tier 1:  12s duration
    Tier 2:  25s duration
    Tier 3:  40s duration

Analysis:  meh at first, good later on, but only if ranged
    You literally double your damage output, since both normal attacks and
abilities are affected.  Even at 12seconds this can be substantial (though not
as much as other focus abilities that just straight out do damage to begin
with), but it's much more noticeably improved at tiers 2 and especially tier 3,
where you have more time to potentially use abilities more than once while this
is active.
    Of course, if you're melee-ing it up this is a completely useless focus
ability.  Too bad, too, since many parts of Artificer work well with an
in-your-face melee setup.



5.  ELEMENTAL MINES
You throw out an assortment of mines in an arc about 5m ahead of you.  Each
mine is one of three (fire, cold, electric) and have varying effects on any
enemy who gets too close to one.
    Number of mines:  9, 3 of each element [thanks to aznricepuff for
        clarifying this count]
    Damage:  50% weapon damage
    Fire burning bonus damage:  50% weapon damage per second
    Burning duration:  8s
    Chill duration:  8s
    Shocked duration:  8s
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  50stamina

Upgrade:  THROW EVERYTHING
Elemental Mines now uses up all your stamina, but you get bonus mines depending
on how much extra stamina was used [thanks to aznricepuff for clarifying this
mechanic]:
    0-4 stamina:  no extra mines
    5-9 stamina:  1 fire mine
    10-14 stamina:  1 fire mine, 1 cold mine
    15-24 stamina:  2 fire, 2 cold, 2 electric mines
    25+:  3 fire, 3 cold, 3 electric, plus an additional fire, cold, and
        electric per each additional 15 stamina consumed

Analysis:  3/4
    A solid ability for this tree, and it has range, which eliminates the
difficulty that both Caltrops and Spike Trap have for ranged attackers.  The
damage is minor but spread out, and hopefully you can hit enemies with multiple
traps which will up the total damage dealt.
    It is a little annoying that to really get the most out of the ability you
have to somehow lure enemies into running around and hitting _all_ the mines,
but ah well.



6.  FALLBACK PLAN
Use it once to place a marker.  Use it again within the duration and you'll
instantly teleport back to the original marker, at whatever health you were
when you first placed the marker.
    Duration:  15s
    Cooldown:  32s
    Cost:  35stamina

Upgrade:  BAIT AND SWITCH
You now also bring the closest enemy back with you to the marker.  You also
have more time before the marker expires.
    Duration bonus:  5s

Analysis:  3/4 melee, 2/4 ranged
    Good survivability move for a melee rogue; plop one down at the beginning
of the fight and it acts as an instant heal in addition to an instant escape
ability.  In fact, if you make sure to always reactivate this when you can, you
can significantly extend the life of your rogue.  The upgrade is not terribly
crucial, but can help you avoid the time-wasting walk-back into combat (if you
don't have Hook and Tackle to leap back in) by pulling an enemy into a
one-on-one.  Note that this could be disastrous if you end up pulling a hard
boss-type enemy away from your tank.  On the other hand, you can be a little
too-clever-by-half and use this to pull enemies into traps or a mage's mine
(either Ice or Fire).
    For a ranged rogue this is highly underwhelming; at best it serves as a
periodic heal.  At worst (with the upgrade), you may end up doing the very
thing you do not want:  keeping an enemy's unwanted attention.



7.  AND TAKE THEM DOWN (passive)
The entire party gains a bonus chance to critical hit.  You also gain +3
Dexterity just for unlocking this ability.
    Increased critical hit chance:  5%

Analysis:  4/4
    There are a lot of abilities that work with critical hits:  Looked Like It
Hurt and Cheap Shot in Sabotage; Opportunity Knocks in Artificer; Flashpoint in
a mage's Inferno tree; Flow of Battle and Shieldbraker in a warrior's
Two-Handed tree; Crippling Blows in a warrior's Battlemaster tree; and
Terrifying Fury in a warrior's Reaver tree.  So what this means is that not
only do you get a great boost to overall party damage, but you can get great
super-linear increasing returns if your party is properly built to abuse this.
    In short: a great finish for the Artificer tree that helps counterbalance
some of the iffiness of the other abilities, but like the rest of the tree
requires some forethought and planning.



8.  TRICKS OF THE TRADE (passive)
Your entire party gains a benefit to duration and damage of status effects.
You also gain +3 Willpower just for unlocking this ability.
    Status effect duration bonus:  10%
    Status effect damage bonus:  10%

Analysis:  3/4
    Not quite as generally good as And Take Them Down, which means it'll
require even more forethought and party setup preparation to take advantage of.
Think of ongoing damage effects (e.g. poison, spirit damage debuffs, burning,
bleed effects) that party members can do; because you get both a damage and
duration bonus, you're actually getting a 21% total damage bonus for status
effects which, party-wide can be quite nice.  Even if you don't have damaging
status effects, the extra 10% duration on disabilng effects (especially
long-lived ones like sleep, panic, or Ice Mine's frozen) can be quite nice.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Assassin                                                              !rog,ass-

Synopsis:  Essentially an extension of the Subterfuge tree, solid if you're
going that route, otherwise you're better off just putting points into the
Subterfuge tree instead.

  <1> (2)
   |   |
  (3) <4>
   |\ /|
   |<4>|
  (5) (6)
    \ /
    <7>

1.  HIDDEN BLADES (acts as PRECISION detonator*)
You make a number of rapid strikes from a distance.
    Range: ~8m
    Number of hits:  3
    Damage per hit:  300% weapon damage [thanks to Steven for fixing this for
        me]
    Cooldown:  32s
    Cost:  65sta

Upgrade:  OVERKILL
Lets you use Hidden Blades more frequently and lets you do more hits.
    Number of additional hits:  3 (6 total)
    Cooldown reduction:  4s (for a net cooldown of 28s)

* The game makes no mentions of this fact, but it definitely will detonate your
combos.  This may mean that this is a BUG and it will go away in a future
patch.

Analysis:  3/4
    Not bad for a melee rogue; expensive, but does a lot of damage and has a
bit of a range to it, letting you strike at a moderately distanced foe.  Is
also a semi-decent detonator io its own right.  Unfortunately is held back by a
really long cooldown.  However, it may be irrelevant since the high damage plus
doing this straight out of stealth may be enough to kill most weaker foes.



2.  THROATCUTTER (passive)
You do extra damage the more your target is wounded.  You also gain +3
Dexterity just for unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus:  2% for each 10% of missing health (total is multiplicative)

Analysis:  3/4
    Not bad, from start to finish averaging a 10% boost to all damage,
synergizes a little with trying to finish off a foe with Deathblow.



3.  I WAS NEVER HERE (passive)
If an enemy you were attacking dies, your Stealth cooldown is reset.  You also
gain +3 Dexterity just for unlocking this passive.

Analysis:  3/4
    Extra stealth is never a bad thing, especially as a set up for the next
skirmish in a fight.



4.  KNOCKOUT BOMB
You shoot a bomb directly in front of you, which explodes upon contact and puts
enemies to sleep.
    Area of effect:  ~6m
    Sleep duration:  10s
    Cooldown:  20s
    Cost:  0stamina

Upgrade:  COMATOSE [BUGGED]
Enemies put to sleep by Knockout Bomb take automatic flanking damage before
they wake up. [BUGGED to not do anything apparent.]

Analysis:  3/4
    Not nearly as good as Knockout Powder due to the lack of the persistent
sleep upgrade but you crowd-control is never a bad thing, either.  Note that
the targetting is weird and will shoot directly out at wherever you are
currently facing, which can be weird in tactical mode, so make sure you point
your character in the direction you want to sleep first.



5.  CLOAK OF SHADOWS (focus-based) [BUGGED]
Everyone goes invisible and stays invisible while attacking for a short while.
    Tier 1:  3s [BUGGED]
    Tier 2:  6s
    Tier 3:  9s

Analysis:  meh, good at higher tiers
    Rather gimmicky at tier 1 (3s basically just buys you one less attack from
foes), can be somewhat helpful at higher tiers, but the duration is still
sinfully short, though rogue focus abilities are generally a little
underwhelming to begin with so it does better in the direct comparison.
    Note that this ability is bugged; at Tier 1 it appears that attacking
_does_ break stealth, meaning you'll get almost zero benefit out of it until
at least Tier 2.



6.  KNIFE IN THE SHADOWS (passive)
You automatically critically hit when striking from stealth.  You also gain +3
Dexterity just for unlocking this passive.

Analysis:  3/4
    Coupled with all the other boosts you can potentially stack together, you
could make the first strike out of Stealth immediately lethal, which would then
be followed up by an immediate re-Stealthing courtesy of I Was Never Here.



7.  GAPS IN THE ARMOR (passive)
You gain automatic armor penetration.  You also gain +3 Dexterity just for
unlocking this passive.
    Armor penetration:  25%

Analysis:  1/4
    A slight extra boost to damage, though doesn't help much against squishy
guys.



8.  MARK OF DEATH
You activate on a target, and some portion of damage dealt to it also gets
stored up in the mark.  When time runs out or you activate early, the stored
damage is dealt instantly, with a bonus if activated early.
    Portion of damage stored:  50% [thanks to aznricepuff for clarifying
        mechanic]
    Early activation bonus:  100% (multiplicative)
    Duration before automatic activation:  8s
    Cooldown:  32s
    Cost:  10stamina

Upgrade:  MARK OF DOOM
While Mark of Death is active on an enemy, their armor is reduced.
    Armor reduction:  20%

Analysis:  2/4, 3/4 for inquisitor
    Unknown exactly how the damage storage works (there appears to be no cap),
but is good for both long-run fights (where you are sure that you'll get close
to the full 8s to store damage) and short-run fights (since you can activate as
early as needed).  Requires micromanagement on your part, but will reward you
for it.
    Note that for your inquisitor--who also has Mark of the Rift--Mark of Death
will also store the damage done by Mark of the Rift, which can result in an
insane amount of instant damage against tough foes.  Unfortunately,
non-inquisitors don't have a similarly high-powered ability they can use to
fuel the damage storage.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tempest                                                               !rog,tem-

Synopsis:  A fun and potentialy powerful tree that gives the rogue good
survival and damage abilities, but only fully realizes its power when you have
unlocked the entire tree (especially all three flask abilities).

  <1> <2>
   |   |
  (3) (4)
   |\ /|
   |<5>|
  (6) (7)
    \ /
    <8>

1.  FLASK OF FROST
You gain intense damage reduction and enemies engaged with you in melee are
frozen.
    Damage resistance:  85%
    Duration:  5s
    Freeze duration:  1s
    Cooldown:  32s
    Cost:  20stamina

Upgrade:  BITTER CHILL
Using Flask of Frost now also taunts all nearby enemies.
    Area of effect:  5m

Analysis:  3/4 if melee, 2/4 if ranged
    Works great if your rogue is suddenly taking a lot of heat or, with the
upgrade, your tank needs a breather from some heavy hitters.  85% damage
reduction is *massive*, you might as well be invulnerable, and the freeze
effect means even less damage is able to get to you.  One second may not sound
like a lot, but with tactical mode or good reflexes, it's still long enough for
you to immediately SHATTER that poor attacker with a detonator, preferably
something pulled from Double Daggers tree (or Subterfuge in a pinch).
    If you're ranged, it still offers protection ability if you suddenly start
recieving a lot of heat, but then you're probably less interested in the taunt
upgrade.
    Note that unlike what the in-game description says, it appears that the
enemy doesn't have to be actually attacking you though it's unclear exactly
what the requirement is; it may just be an enemy that happens to be attacking
_near_ you as you'll find that you'll even be freezing enemies who seem
heavily engaged with another party member.


2.  FLASK OF FIRE
All abilities cost no stamina, enemies who hit you in melee are slightly
knocked back.
    Duration:  5s
    Cooldown:  32s
    Cost:  20stamina

Upgrade:  UNQUENCHABLE FLAMES
All abilities now have no cooldown as well.

Analysis:  2/4, 3/4 for melee with upgrade, 4/4 for ranged with upgrade
    You need to plan around this ability a bit.  Make sure you have a lot of
abilities worth using (i.e. this isn't terribly useful if you reset all your
skill points and put them all into just the Tempest tree), and make sure that
they're not on cooldown.  Then drink the flask and spam away - this can be a
great way to use expensive skills without having to wait for stamina to regen.
    This ability becomes less situational with the upgrade - now you just need
one ability that's not on cooldown, and then you need to spam as much as the 5
second (potentially 8 second with Ride the Storm) duration allows.  Just think:
endless Deathblows or Long Shots!  In particular, a ranged rogue with Long
Shot, properly positioned, can let off a stream of high-power Long Shots (as
many as 5-6 with Ride the Storm) that can wipe out foes rapidly (melee rogues
will have difficulty pulling off this same trick simply because they don't have
an ability like Long Shot with a huge weapon damage multiplier and they need to
constantly reposition to attack multiple foes, wasting Flask of Fire time).
    The knockback effect is barely noticeable.  You'll see a little fire
explosion as it triggers, but for most enemies it just means the briefest of
pauses before they resume attacking again.


3.  FLASKMASTER (passive) [BUGGED?]
Increases your non-healing potion capacity and gives you a chance that drinking
a potion doesn't consume it and that activating a "Flask of" ability (what the
game calls an elixir) doesn't trigger its cooldown.  You also gain +3 Dexterity
just for unlocking this passive.
    Non-healing potion capacity:  +1
    Free elixir/potion chance:  25% [bugged, doesn't work for elixirs]

Analysis:  1/4 due to BUG
    The free elixir chance is bugged.  The extra potion effect is really subtle
and also doesn't affect healing potions (I guess since they're party-shared),
and really you should try to stock up regularly so you're notalways on the
verge of running out.  All in all a mixed bag.
    Note that despite the fact that the game says the free chance doesn't
apply to healing potions, it appears that it actually does (I've definitely
seen Sera drink a potion that didn't count against my carrying capacity).
    The not-affecting-flasks bug may account for a phenomenon I've seen where
it _looks_ like one of my flasks is not on cooldown, but trying to use it does
absolutely nothing (as in, it appears the visual effect doesn't trigger, but
the cooldown still occurs in the background).


4.  FURY OF THE STORM (passive)
At low stamina you gain a damage bonus.  You also gain +3 Constitution just for
unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus:  10%
    Low stamina threshold:  50%

Analysis:  2/4
    Low stamina is when your damage is the worst (since you can't use abilities
then), so this helps your damage out when you most need it.  The flip-side is
that--combined with the fact that the flasks themselves are cheap to use and
one of them even eliminates stamina costs for your non-flask abilities--you
won't actually thus benefit from this passive that often.


5.  THOUSAND CUTS (focus-based)
You quickly strike a bunch of different targets, finishing with a final 
dramatic strike.
    Damage per hit:  300% weapon damage
    Tier 1:  12 hits
    Tier 2:  25 hits
    Tier 3:  38 hits

Analysis:  good
    For your inquisitor you're probably better off with Mark of the Rift.
Damage is decent, but unlike--say--Firestorm, your rogue is occupied while the
ability is active, which isn't that much time, but is still an opportunity
cost.
    An advantage this ability has over other focus-based abilitities that just
let you do damage is that there is no targetting circle:  the tempest just
strikes anything that is engaged with your party (so no having to run archer
tempests into range).  Much more flexible targetting than Firestorm or Mark
of the Rift.



6.  RIDE THE STORM (passive)
The effects of your flasks last longer if one is used right after another end
ends.  You also gain +3 Dexterity just for unlocking this passive.
    Bonus duration:  3s

Analysis:  3/4
    Like many other skills in this tree you need to do a lot of pre-planning,
but when executed well this greatly increases the power of your flasks.  You'll
have to generally make sure your flask cooldowns are roughly lined up, and
you'll need to be good at sizing up the situation to know what you need to
exploit.  In a tough melee free-for-all?  Maybe drink the Flask of Fire first
so you can have a longer duration with Flask of Frost and Lightning, both of
which greatly aid survivability.  Against a single but tough enemy?  Maybe
drink a Flask of Lightning first, using only normal attacks to let your attack
cooldowns refresh, then pop the Flask of Fire so you can spam your most
damaging ability over and over.
    In short, this ability rewards you for just how well you are able to
exploit it, moreso than other abilities.


7.  KILLER'S ALCHEMY (passive)
Whenever you use a potion or a "Flask of" ability (what the game calls
elixirs), you temporarily gain a boost to your damage.  You also gain +3
Constitution just for unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus:  15%
    Duration:  10s

Analysis:  2/4
    You should strive to always be within 10 seconds of the last flask you
used, so this ability is just a flat-out 15% damage bonus.


8.  FLASK OF LIGHTNING
You become much, much faster.  This is represented in two different ways,
based on whether or not you are actively in control of the character using Flask
of Lightning.
    When actively controlled, the rest of the world slows down for the
indicated duration; buffs and debuffs on other characters and enemies are also
slowed down (as expected) but all cooldowns and mana/stamina regeneration as
well as buffs/debuffs on the character progress normally.  The latter may be a
buggy side effect as this would be normal for Haste (the necromancer's focus
ability), so the Haste effect may have been copy-pasted erroneously to Flask of
Lightning, since Flask of Lightning is suppossed to only affect one character.
    When not actively controlled, instead the character speeds up radically
(hard to tell how much faster, at least a 4x speed up).  Buffs on the caster
progress equivalently faster, but everything else is normal (including
cooldowns).
    (actively controlled character) Time slowed down by:  60%
    (different character) Character sped up by:  >4x [HYPOTHETICAL: a 6.66x
        speedup]
    Duration:  5s
    Cooldown:  32s
    Cost:  20stamina

Upgrade:  QUICKSILVER
Time essentially stops for everyone but you.
    (actively controlled character) Time slowed down by bonus:  39% (99% total)
    (different character) No change other than extra duration
    Bonus duration:  2s (7s total)

Analysis:  4/4
    Absolutely great!  You become so fast you basically move at relativistic
speeds, causing you to bump into the world of time-bending special relativity
where everyone has a different perspective on how events are progressing.  Case
in point:  the effect of this flask is radically different from the perspective
of the tempest and from the perspective of everyone else.
    From the perspective of the tempest, time slows down dramatically, letting
you get in all sorts of free damage, position yourself to/from conflicts, and
buying you time for some cooldowns to reset (they progress at "normal"--i.e.
not slowed-down--speeds).
    From the perspective of everyone else, the tempest moves much, much faster,
dishing out attacks and running around super quickly.  How fast?  Well, if you
use this on an archer, they basically become a machine gun.  My hypothesis is
that it is a 6.66x speed up, as this would be consistent roughly with how many
attacks an archer *seems* to be able to do, and also consistent with a
developer trying to normalize for the base 85% slow-down effect of Haste (as
either a compromise or a buggy re-implementation of Haste when trying to adjust
for the 60% or 99% slow down numbers and varying durations of Flask of
Lightning).
    The interesting side effect of the above is that--if you all you care about
is doing an insane amount of damage--you should activate the flask and
immediately switch to another character.  In large part this is because the
duration of the flask is *not* adjusted between the two perspectives above (an
exercise for the reader:  calculate how much of a speed up and how long that
speed up should last for both the unupgraded and upgraded uses of the flask to
produce equivalent outcomes).  Because the duration is *not* adjusted, you
effectively get a lot more damage mileage out of the speed-up effect rather
than the slow-down effect. even though strictly speaking you should either get
a much shorter duration or a much slower speed-up when not actively controlling
the tempest.
    The most face-melting use of the speed-up effect is by pairing a tempest
archer (so you don't have to waste time moving) with a mage with an upgraded
Static Cage.  Each of those machine-gun-speed arrows will trigger a bolt from
the cage; try this out with a runed bow (to double your bonus hits, see
mag,sto- for discussion on Static Cage mechanics) on a big creature like a
Giant and be astounded at how quickly you see their health disappear.
    There are still payoffs to actively controlling the tempest; because
cooldowns progress at "normal" (not slowed down) time, even if your net damage
output isn't as great, you will effectively get "free" time to reset your
cooldowns.  Moreover, even a ~6-7x speed up doesn't capture the immense
utility of stopped time at 99% slow-down; that's enough time to quickly run in
and revive someone without anyone noticing.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notable Builds                                                        !rog,not-

Subterfuge+Assassin was basically made to go together.  Abuse Shadow Strike and
all the related effects-out-of-stealth abilities to get lethal attacks that can
result in an instant restealthing.  Less steady damage compared to an alternate
melee rogue, but you get nice burstiness, survivability, and utility in the
form of two sleep effects.
    Sample 10-point starter build ("+" indicates upgrade as well):
        Subterfuge:  Stealth+, Easy to Miss, Sleeping Powder+, Shadow Strike+
        Assassin:  Hidden Blades+, I Was Never Here

Double Daggers+anything other than Archery is a solid starting point for a
melee rogue.  You got several good abilities, potentially two separate
detonators, and depending on how you fill out the rest you can fill all sorts
of niches.  Two notable examples follow:
    First, a Tempest specialization can make the rogue a temporary tank, in
addition to having abilities that can be abused with Flask of Fire/Lightning.
Plus, it rewards you for drinking lots of potions, and Regeneration Potion is a
good potion to use for a melee rogue.  Make sure to invest in detonators, since
with Flask of Frost you essentially can SHATTER detonate at will.
    Second, many of the Artificer's abilities can work nicely with an
in-your-face setup; Spike Trap at point blank range gives you breathing room,
Elemental Mines lets you deal mayhem while trying to close the gap, and
Fallback Plan gives you a great survivability trick.
    Sample Tempest 10-point starter build ("+" indicates upgrade as well):
        Double Daggers:  Flank Attack+, Twin Fangs+, Dance of Death, Sneak
            Attack
        Tempest:  Flask of Frost+, Flask of Fire+
    Sample Artificer 10-point starter build ("+" indicates upgrade as well):
        Double Daggers:  Flank Attack, Twin Fangs
        Sabotage:  Caltrops, Looked Like it Hurt, Hook and Tackle+
        Artificer:  Spike Trap, Set Them Up, Elemental Mines+

Archery is less flexible than Double Daggers; you'll find the best combination
with the poisonous end of Sabotage and either the Artificer tree or a subset of
the Tempest tree.  You'll need a lot of micromanagement to get the most out of
the Artificer tree.  Tempest is more fire-and-forget (a Flask of Fire + proper
positioning = massive Long Shot spam damage), but Flask of Frost and Flask of
Lightning are less generally useful for an archer.
    Sample Archery 10-point starter builds ("+" indicates upgrade as well):
    ...core skills (common to all the following builds)
        Archery:  Long Shot, Death from Above, Leaping Shot

    ...with sabotage
        Archery:   First Blood, Explosive Shot+
        Sabotage:  Poisoned Weapons+, Fighting Dirty, Explosive Toxins

    ...with tempest (machine-gun!)
        Archery:  Long Shot+
        Tempest:  Flask of Fire+, Fury of the Storm, Killer's Alchemy,
            Flask of Lightning+

    ...with artificer
        Sabotage:  Caltrops, Looked Like it Hurt, Hook and Tackle+
        Artificer:  Spike Trap, Set Them Up, Elemental Mines

A more esoteric focus would be a critical hit setup.  You'd need to spread
yourself around Double Daggers, Sabotage, and Artificer, with a possibility of
jumping down Mercy Killing in the Subterfuge tree.  This is expensive
skill-point wise (and would lead you to some awkward growing pains), but with
the right equipment you can get great sustained damage, with a lot of synergy
between Sabotage's Looked Like It Hurt and Artificer's Opportunity Knocks to
generate lots of stamina and get your abilities' cooldowns reset rapidly.
    Sample crit 10-point starter build ("+" indicates upgrade as well):
        Double Daggers:  Twin Fangs, Dance of Death, Sneak Attack
        Sabotage:  Caltrops, Looked Like it Hurt, Cheap Shot
        Artificer:  Spike Trap, Set Them Up, Elemental Mines, And Take Them
            Down

Another esoteric build would be a ranged "first-strike" sort of setup, that
would essentially revolve around Stealth, stealth-based damage bonuses, and
using either Full Draw or Long Shot.  An automatic critical hit (driven by
Stealth) with Full Draw can be lethal, resulting in instantaneous stealth to
wait and try again.  You'd need to dabble in Subterfuge and get Assassin,
resulting in a cludgy little lack of synergy otherwise, though you do get two
sleeping effects that can help a ranged rogue survive sustained enemy interest.
    Sample "first-strike" 10 point starter build ("+" indicates upgrade as
    well):
        Archery:  Long Shot, First Blood, Explosive Shot, Pincushion,
            Full Draw+
        Subterfuge:  Stealth
        Assassin:  Hidden Blades, I Was Never Here, Knife in the Shadows
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Chris's Personal Favorite                                         !rog,not,chr-

My personal favorite is a melee-based artificer build with a secondary focus on
critical hits (for the party, as well).  To achieve maximum effectiveness
requires that this build be used with the inquisitor (so that Mark of the Rift
can be used as the focus ability) and with some fairly decent skill; like most
artificer builds you need to be very good at positional management to avoid
wasting time and opportunities for attack by moving around a lot.  You also
need to be good at consistently flanking to maximize your damage output.

This build was conceived for Nightmare play, but still requires you to have a
good supporting party; a lack of crowd control for this build means your party
needs to be synergistic and you need to be good at managing threat (prioritize
Easy to Miss so you can safely damage foes from behind).

"Cr/aps" (crit + traps) build:
    Double Daggers:  Twin Fangs, Dance of Death, Sneak Attack

    Sabotage:  Caltrops*, Looked Like It Hurt, Cheap Shot

    Subterfuge:  Stealth+, Easy to Miss, Evasion, Evade+, Ambush

    Inquisitor:  Mark of the Rift**

    Artificer:  Spike Trap+, Set Them Up, Opportunity Knocks, Elemental Mines+,
        Fallback Plan+, And Take Them Down, Tricks of the Trade

    + Get the upgrade, too
    * This is mostly just as a prerequisite, but you won't have a replacement
    for it until much later in the game (after this build is complete in fact).
    ** You get this for free, so it's not included in the skill count

Total skill count:  23
These skills can be de-prioritized to obtain a minimum-viable subset of 19
skills:
    Spike Trap's upgrade, Fallback Plan, Fallback Plan's upgrade, Tricks of the
    Trade

On a human with a couple sources of free skill points (i.e. two Amulets of
Power), this build could hit its minimum-viable subset by level 15.  Once
you've completed out the build, suggestions for further investment include
upgrading Twin Fangs or picking up Stealth Strike as an additional damage
ability (which would also help with mobility).  You should also think about
what to replace Caltrops with (possibly Stealth Strike, in fact), since
Caltrops is very rarely worth the stamina cost (though with this build you'll
never have stamina problems, except right after using Elemental Mines).

To really get mileage out of this class, abuse Evade to get in and out of
range of your various skills while making sure the rest of your party has lots
of crit-boosting gear (to benefit Opportunity Knocks) while also having
another character that benefits from critical hits (to benefit from And Take
Them Down), like a mage using a Flashpoint-based build.  This build won't have
the sheer damage potential of a Flask of Lightning+archery build, but it sure
is a heck of a lot of fun to pull off.
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
Mage                                                                      !mag-

Rating System:
    4/4 - Iconic, an ability worth considering for any build (or being the
        centerpiece of a build)
    3/4 - Best-in-tree and worth prioritizing as you level up.
    2/4 - Nothing special.
    1/4 - Meh, may have some situationl use though.
    0/4 - Useless.  Reserved for skills that are particularly buggy.

Because Focus-based abilities are not really a trade-off situation like other
skills (since each character can only have one), I merely rate them on a scale
of "meh", "good", and "amazing".  I also make a note of whether tiers higher
than 1 are worthwhile.

Because iconic (4/4) abilities are particularly good or game-changing, here's
them pulled out and compiled into a quick list:
    Barrier (Spirit)
    Guardian Spirit (Spirit)
    Flashpoint (Inferno)
    Winter Stillness (Winter)
    Fade Shield (Knight-Enchanter)
    Restorative Veil (Rift Mage)

Honorable mention, because on its own it's not good enough to be iconic, but
when properly planned for can be iconic:
    Static Cage, with upgrade (Storm)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Spirit                                                                !mag,spi-

Synopsis:  An odd support tree, odd in the sense that you absolutely want at
least one mage with a couple points in it, but if you already have a mage with
it, more can be redundant.  So yeah, it's good, but not good enough to
necessarily justify redundancy.

       <1>
       / \
    (2)   (3)
     |     |
    <4>   <5>
    / \   / \
  (6)  <7>  (8)

1.  BARRIER
Creates a barrier; decays over time.
    Barrier health:  5,500% weapon damage (though the game only shows you
        the computed number, which may be incorrect)
    Area of Effect:  4m
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  50mana

Upgrade:  ELEGANT DEFENSE [BUGGED?]
Every time a barrier you have cast on yourself goes away, the cooldown is
reduced by 4 seconds.

Analysis:  4/4
    Every party needs at least one mage who can do this.  It so dramatically
ups your survivability that it's basically a requirement for Dragon Age:
Inquisition.
    That being said, the upgrade is kind of weird and possibly bugged since it
only triggers off of yourself (unlike what the in-game text says).  The
cooldown reduction can be significant, but you'll be needing to be doing a lot
of positional movement to make sure your mage is being affected by her own
barrier.  Knight-Enchanters may be doing a lot of movement anyway, so this
upgrade may work better for them.
    Note that it bears some clarification that because this ability is not
actually an attack against other enemies, your barrier doesn't get stronger
with "+x% attack" buffs; as far as I can tell it is only based off of your
base weapon damage and the only way to further increase it is to get the
Strength of Spirits passive further down the tree.


2.  PEACEFUL AURA (passive)
Reduces threat you generate to enemies.  You also gain +3 Willpower just for
unlocking this passive.
    Threat reduction:  50%

Analysis:  1/4
    In reality, you should have a warrior who can taunt and otherwise be good
at generating threat.  And this is not going to help you against archers who
aren't being actively attacked by any other party member yet.  This can help in
a slight pinch with a Knight-Enchanter build, but even then a Knight-Enchanter
is well-suited to taking a lot of punishment.  It might help a bit early on
before you take get some other more direct survival skils.



3.  GUARDIAN SPIRIT (passive)
At low health, a barrier automatically comes into place.  In addition, an attack
that would kill you instead reduces you to minimum health and triggers the
barrier effect.  You also gain +3 Constitution just for unlocking this passive.
    Barrier:  100%
    Cooldown before being able to reactivate:  60s
    Adds health gate effect.

Analysis:  4/4
    Good pinch survival if you're getting hit with a lot of incidental damage.
Won't help you if your mage becomes a sustained target from, say, an elite or a
boss.
    However, the best part of this ability is that it adds a "health gate"
mechanic to your mage.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, an X gate
in RPG-style games is a mechanic whereby an attack that would otherwise
overwhelm your X is capped.  For example, in Mass Effect 3, you had both a
shield and health, with attacks depleting your shield first.  With the shield
gate effect, an attack that would do 1000 damage to your 100 shield would not
result in 900 "bleed over" damage to your health; instead, the excess damage is
negated; moreover, further damage to you is very briefly ignored. This mechanic
exists in many games to prevent characters from completely one-shotted by a
powerful enemy attack.
    There exists no comparable gating effect in Dragon Age Inquisition, with
two exceptions: a mage with Guardian Spirit or a warrior with Unyielding.
Unlike the latter *any* mage can get Guardian Spirit, whereas the warrior needs
to go into a Champion specialization (obviously problematic for single-player
where only 1 of 3 warriors can do this, excepting the inquisitor).
    So, as long as the cooldown for Guardian Spirit is expired, any attack that
would bring you to 0 or less health is instead capped and the barrier effect is
immediately triggered.  Now, you don't get any temporary invulnerability
(unlike the warrior's Unyielding), but this effectively greatly extends a
mage's survivability, letting you cheat death once/minute.  Moreover, because
it's a barrier effect, it can trigger other helpful abilities (like
Rejuvenating Barrier, Veiled Riposte, Mana Surge, or Chaotic Focus).



4.  DISPEL (acts as ELDRITCH detonator)
Removes hostile effects from allies and beneficial effects from enemies,
including doing significant damage to barriers.  Can also abolish demons coming
from rifts if you Dispel them before they are fully formed.
    Area of effect:  5m
    Cooldown:  8s
    Cost:  35mana

Upgrade:  TRANSMUTE MAGIC [BUGGED?]
If you successfully dispel barriers, you generate barrier and gain a temporary
damage bonus.  (May be BUGGED since this does not trigger off status effects,
as suggested in game.)
    Barrier:  50%
    Damage bonus:  25% (multiplicative)
    Duration:  10%

Analysis:  3/4
    The ability to insta-kill demons coming forth, do 1000s of damage to
barriers, get rid of environmental spell hazards (like mines), rescue your
allies from debuffs, etc. is quite great.  You won't be using it all the time,
but when you need it, even the short 8s cooldown will still feel like an
eternity.
    Because Dispel acts as an ELDRITCH detonator, you'll still find use for it
outside of magic/rift fights.  It's not spectacular as a same-class detonator
but can be a great way to set off a lot of WEAKNESS/NIGHTMARE cross-class
combos at once.
    The upgrade improves the utility of the spell, giving you souped up
anti-magical advantages.  Unfortunately it's a bit bugged in that it only
triggers off barrier dispelling, but fortunately barrier dispelling is still
common.   Moreover, getting 50% barrier almost at will in some of the tougher
fights in the game (where barriers are generated basically at will) is nothing
to sneeze at.



5.  MIND BLAST (acts as ELDRITCH detonator)
Enemies near you get knocked around and your threat is reduced against them.
    Area of effect:  5m (centered on you)
    Cooldown:  8s
    Cost:  20mana

Upgrade:  FORTIFYING BLAST [slightly BUGGED]
For each enemy affected by Mind Blast, you have Barrier generated.
    Barrier:  10%

Analysis:  2/4
    By default the spell is a little underwhelming; Peaceful Aura is a constant
effect and it's still not that great and like that passive, Mind Blast is not
really going to help you if an enemy has had no significant threat being
generated by other party members.  That being said, it can still detonate, and
at higher difficulties it can be the only thing that might save your mage from
an onslaught of angry foes (i.e. when you mismanage threat or your taunts are
on cooldown).
    The upgrade is good; however, aside from Knight-Enchanters you shouldn't be
regularly that close to foes.  It's also a bit touchy - while definitely not
completely broken as of patch 3, it doesn't always trigger even though enemies
are visibly knocked back.
    Note that with Mana Surge this can be a quick way to trigger free spells
and combos; it appears Mana Surge has a very short internal cooldown, so you
can use this near a foe to generate 10% barrier which will disappear in about
1.25 seconds, triggering Mana Surge (and freezing the foe and granting you a
free spell).  A pretty good effect, but requires some set up.



6.  REJUVENATING BARRIER (passive) [BUGGED]
When you have an active barrier, mana/stamina regeneration is increased.  You
also gain +3 Constitution just for unlocking this passive.  (BUGGED because
this does not work on allies, despite what is said in-game.)
    Mana/Stamina regeneration bonus:  35%

Analysis: 2/4 because of a BUG, 3/4 with Fade Shield
    Unfortunately only works on yourself, so the net effect is that when you
have barrier active, your mana regeneration is increased by 35%.  Very sporadic
boost unless you can generate barrier at will because of Knight-Enchanter's
Fade Shield (and obviously the "stamina" regeneration part of it is completely
irrelevant due to the bug).  Could be better if the bugginess is ever fixed.



7.  REVIVAL
Unconscious allies get back up again and are healed a bit.
    Area of effect:  2m
    Cooldown:  60s
    Cost:  85mana

Upgrade:  LIFE WARD
When you revive an ally, the revived ally and nearby allies get a buff giving
them a little bit of protection and an auto-revive in case they go back down
again.
    Damage reduction:  25%
    Duration:  15s

Analysis:  2/4
    Can be amazing to instantly get your tank up if they got one-shotted
through their healing potion threshold (or if you're just low on potions).  Can
also be used to spot-revive a random party member who's taken too much
incidental damage/heat without having to waste a lot of time and potentially
expose another party member to unconsciousness.  Notice all those "cans."  The
mana cost is exorbitant, and the area of effect tiny, and party members who are
down probably still have significant threats near them (though the upgrade goes
a long way into ameliorating this problem).  In certain situations this ability
can grab you victory from the jaws of defeat, just be aware of the limitations
and don't think that because you have this you can be more reckless.



8.  STRENGTH OF SPIRITS (passive)
Your barrier is stronger.
    Barrier bonus:  50%

Analysis:  2/4
    A really odd passive in that it doesn't increase a stat for you.
Fortunately, you don't need it; it increases your maximum barrier for various
barrier generation purposes (except for Fade Shield), giving you extra
protection and making you an excellent support member for your party.
    Unfortunately, this skill is really far deep into the tree, and you may
not really need the extra survivability boost, especially if you have other
skills that can make it easier to cast Barrier more frequently (think Clean
Burn, Flashpoint, or Winter Stillness).
    Also note that while this increases your Barrier by 50%, it does not
lengthen its duration; your barrier will still decay at its normal rate, which
means you're effectively losing more barrier per second than before.  However,
it does mean that at any given % of barrier (ignoring Fade Shield), your allies
will have 50% more absorption power than before.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Storm                                                                 !mag,sto-

Synopsis:  A solid damage-focused tree with potentially amazing combo
opportunities from its signature paralyze disabling effect.

    <1> <2>
    / \ / \
  (3) <4> (5)
    \ / \ /
    (6) (7)
      \ /
      <8>

1.  CHAIN LIGHTNING
Deals damage to a bunch of loosely-grouped enemies, potentially bouncing between
them, and putting them into a shocked state.
    Electric damage:  250% weapon damage
    Area of effect:  5m
    Maximum number of hits:  4
    Shocked duration:  8s
    Cooldown time:  8s
    Cost:  50mana

Upgrade:  ARCING SURGE
Makes Chain Lightning hit more enemies.
    Area of effect bonus:  4m (9m total)
    Additional number of enemies:  2 (6 total)

Analysis:  3/4
    As far as status effects go, shocked is merely middle of the road, but the
real star is the damage potential here, especially with its wide area of effect.
The mechanics of this spell is such that the bolt will actually arc and "bounce"
between foes; though in keeping with the storm tree's love of multiple enemies,
the bounce will _only_ occur when there is more than one enemy.  With
two or more enemies though, the initial bolt will keep bouncing around until it
reaches its maximum number of hits.  With the upgrade, this can mean up to 750%
weapon damage to two enemies, 250% weapon damage to six, or some idiosyncratic
combination in between.  Thanks to JacobFireSquirrel for drawing my attention
to the bouncing effect.



2.  ENERGY BARRAGE (acts as ELDRITCH detonator) [partially BUGGED]
You batter the enemy with a bunch of weak hits, using your staff's element.
    Damage:  66% weapon damage per projectile
    Projectiles:  12
    Cooldown:  16s
    Cost:  50mana

Upgrade:  ENERGY BOMBARDMENT
Each projectile also reduces your enemy's magic resistance to your staff's
element for a short time.
    Magic resistance:  -2%
    Duration:  4.5s [thanks to aznricepuff for corrected duration]

Analysis:  3/4
    Good single target damage and (assuming you're wise enough to use a staff
of a non-electric element) gives you much-needed diversity in case you run into
electric-resistant enemies.  While it can detonate combos, the time it takes to
both cast the spell and for the projectiles to travel means that for many
short-duration disabling effects this actually won't get there in time to
detonate.
    Where this ability can really shine, however, is in conjunction with the
Lightning Cage upgrade to Static Cage.  That upgrade zaps enemies for extra
lightning damage every time they are hit while inside the Static Cage.  Guess
what?  Each projectile counts as a separate hit, which means you are close to
doubling the damage of an already high-single-target-damage attack.
    Note:  Energy Barrage is slightly bugged in that its attack animation
counts as "movement" for purposes of Winter Stillness, so it will reset the
3-second threshold.



3.  STORMBRINGER (passive)
A random enemy will get struck by electric damage periodically in combat.  You
also gain +3 Magic just for unlocking this passive.
    Electric damage:  300% weapon damage
    Shocked duration:  ~6s
    Range:  25m
    Cooldown:  15s

Analysis:  3/4
    Essentially a free nuke every 15 seconds.  It doesn't do as much damage as
other nukes, and you can't manually target it, but it doesn't cost mana, so
what more could you want?



4.  LIGHTNING BOLT
You do damage and paralyze the enemy, paralyzing them for longer if more
enemies are around.
    Electric damage:  200% weapon damage
    Paralyze duration:  2s per enemy nearby (including the one being targetted)
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  65mana

Upgrade:  EXPLODING BOLT
Lightning Bolt does more damage the more enemies are nearby.
    Damage bonus:  200% weapon damage for every enemy within 4 meters (not
        including the one being targetted).
    Knockback threshold:  >2 enemies nearby

Analysis:  2/4, 3/4 with upgrade
    Against one enemy it's really mediocre, but when there's at least one other
enemy nearby this offers Winter-tree-level disabling power, with a powerful
DISCHARGE combo potential to boot!  (Theoretically you could do a DISCHARGE
combo with just one enemy, but the window of time to connect a detonator--2
seconds--plus the fact that DISCHARGE's main benefit is the area of effect
damage means that one enemy is generally a waste).



5.  CONDUCTIVE CURRENT (passive)
The lower your current mana, the more damage your spells do.  You also gain +3
Magic just for unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus: 5% for every 10% missing mana (total is multiplicative)

Analysis:  2/4
    This appears to use your current mana level, so in many cases this could
be a straight up bonus of at least 25% (assuming you tend to be at half or less
mana after each cast).  This also affects ongoing effects, so e.g. if you have
a Blizzard in progress, you'll note that it will continue to do more and more
damage as you run out of mana.  Unfortunately, your basic attacks are not
affected, so especially if you have many spells with long cooldowns the net
effect on your damage output might be muted (though Chain Lightning is in this
tree and with a cooldown of 8s is a nice way to frequently do damage as well as
deplete your mana).
    Thanks to OniTokko for pointing out that I had left this skill out.



6.  GATHERING STORM (passive)
The second attack in your auto-attack sequence reduces your cooldowns.  You
also gain +3 Willpower just for unlocking this passive.
    Cooldown reduction:  .5s

Analysis:  2/4
    When you continuously attack (or make an attack within a short time of your
previous attack), your character creates a sequence of attacks, ending with you
slamming your staff down onto the ground and shooting three projectiles.  The
_second_ attack of this sequence is what triggers the half-second cooldown
reduction (and _only_ the second).
    This has several implications:  one, if you are quickly casting spells of
various sorts in tactical mode, you may rarely trigger this as in tactical mode
your character's basic attack will launch one projectile before starting a
sequence (essentially creating an extraneous, un-sequenced basic attack), and
then even once you start the sequence the _second_ attack is needed; so if you
cast a spell before you get to that attack, you'll reset your basic attack
sequence (and need to do the extraneous attack in tactical mode) and not get
the Gathering Storm benefit.
    Two:  spells with long cooldowns are more likely to benefit from this; even
if you're doing nothing but attacking, a spell with a short cooldown like Chain
Lightning will get at most a .5s reduction.  However, a spell like Pull of the
Abyss or Barrier will get in the neighborhood of 1.5-2s.
    Three:  it's vaguely possible to "game" this ability if you manually manage
your attacks so you interrupt yourself after the second attack (by moving) and
starting over again.  This is impossible in tactical mode (since your character
has a lag to responding to your commands and your character will add in an
extraneous attack if you interrupt with a spell), and even outside tactical
mode this may require way too much micromanagement to be useful.
    Four:  the cooldown reduction is an immediate .5s reduction for all your
spells.  Because it happens as a flat amount, it is effectively magnified by
any cooldown reduction you have.  If you have Winter Stillnes and a 15%
Cooldown Amulet, your cooldowns are already reduced by 43% (see Winter
Stillness in mag,win- for the equation to determine this).  This means your .5s
cooldown reduction is actually more like a .86s cooldown reduction.
    The upshot is that this ability isn't as great in practice as it could be
by its description (which simply states any "basic attack").  However, this
will generally still be free cooldown reduction in most, non-degenerate
tactical mode cases, and can be a significant percentage reduction when you
spend more time attacking while waiting for a long cooldown.  In short, it's
not a huge cooldown reduction, but any cooldown reduction is welcome, so it's
still an alright passive.



7.  STATIC CHARGE (passive)
If an enemy attacks you while you are casting a spell, they will be paralyzed.
You also gain +3 Constitution just for unlocking this passive.
    Electric damage:  100% weapon damage
    Paralyze duration:  6s

Analysis:  2/4, 3/4 with Spirit Blade
    It would be very uncommon if you're a mage keeping their distance to be hit
with an arrow just as you're casting a spell.  However, if you're up in a bunch
of potential melee attacker's faces while spamming a zero-cooldown ability
(Spirit Blade), then this becomes a powerful defensive play.



8.  STATIC CAGE
You form a circular boundary on the ground.  After it fully appears, if an
enemy tries to leave the circle by moving over it (no teleporting*), they will
be knocked back into the center of the circle and paralyzed.  Some enemies are
immune to the knockback effect, which occurs independently of the paralyzing
effect.
    * Teleporting Terrors will actually be caught by the cage, but other
teleporters will not.
    Radius:  9m
    Duration:  8s
    Shocked duration:  7s (for enemies paralyzed)
    Paralyze duration:  2s
    Cooldown:  32s
    Cost:  65mana

Upgrade:  LIGHTNING CAGE
In addition to being knocked back into the circle, enemies take damage.  In
addition, every time an enemy inside the cage is hit, they will take extra
damage.
    Electric damage: [thanks to aznricepuff for corrected numbers]
        37.5% weapon damage for hits from rogues or 1h warriors
        32.5% weapon damage for hits from 2h warriors
        50% weapon damage for hits from mages

Analysis:  3/4, but can be the cornerstone of an entire party with the upgrade
    Great crowd control, though only against melee attackers.  Make sure you
keep your party members back out of the circle so the hapless melee-ers keep
trying to charge at you while they keep getting thrown back and peppered with
ranged attacks (and combo'ed with powerful DISCHARGE effects).  The duration is
sinfully short, alas.
    The true power of this ability comes out with the upgrade.  Because those
extra lightning bolts trigger off any kind of "hit" (which is any non-ongoing
effect that causes damage) but those extra lightning bolts are flat damage
bonuses irrelevant to how big of a hit the trigger was, you can exploit this by
using characters who can do a lot of hits (even if those hits are not
necessarily high-damage).  Energy Barrage was mentioned earlier as being
particularly good with the Lightning Cage upgrade, but think also of Leaping
Shot (which does up to 13 hits), Whirlwind (an arbitrary number of hits),
Spinning Blades (up to 9 hits), etc.  In particular, a non-actively controlled
archer with Flask of Lightning will do a mind-numbing amount of damage to
anyone in an upgraded cage (they will do on the order of eight attacks/second,
each triggering atleast one bolt [see note below on runes; see section rog,tem-
for discussion on Flask of Lightning]).
    Note that the damage multipliers listed for the extra bolts are based
off the weapon of the character triggering the bolt, not off the weapon of the
caster of the cage.  So, in particular even though 2h warriors have a lower
damage multiplier than other classes, the high base damage of a two-handed
weapon means that they can generate quite a bit of extra electric damage inside
an upgraded Static Cage.
    Note also that the bonus damage from weapon runes (like corrupting runes or
fire runes) also separately triggers the lightning bolts, effectively doubling
the extra electric damage.  Unfortunately, ongoing damage (like from a Blizzard
or poison effect) does not trigger the bonus electric damage.
    The upshot is that the upgrade makes this ability _so_ good it can be
not just character-defining, but party-defining; however, it can't be rated a
4/4 because it _has_ to be party-defining to be that good (if that makes
sense).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Inferno                                                               !mag,inf-

Synopsis:  great damage, but the crowd control is finicky and can't be combo'ed
which means the inferno tree is going to be weaker than the other core mage
trees; anyone can do damage, but it's the mage's job to keep everyone at bay,
and if the mage can't really do that, then... well...  There is some synergy
with the Necromancer specialization that helps this out a bit, but that
requires a very specifically-prescribed build.

    <1> <2>
      \ /
      (3)
      / \
    (4) (5)
    / \ / \
  <6> (7) <8>

1.  FLASHFIRE [BUGGED]
Deals fire damage and inflicts fear/panic to one enemy.
    Fire damage:  300% weapon damage
    Fear duration:  8s
    Cooldown:  20s
    Cost:  65mana
    BUGGED:  Enhanced Flashfire ability rings do nothing

Upgrade:  BLISTERING PAIN [BUGGED]
Increases fear duration.  Bugged to do nothing
    Fear duration bonus:  0 (should be 8s for 16s total)

Analysis:  2/4, 3/4 with at least Pyromancer (or when the upgrade is fixed)
    Useful as a fire-and-forget spell to temporarily take an annoying archer
out of the fight, but otherwise mediocre - panicking enemies will snap out of
it as soon as you damage them (though the game is a bit forgiving if the
attacks hit virtually as soon as the enemy was feared, in case some projectiles
were in flight), so this is nowhere near on par with winter's freeze or storm's
paralyze.  Plus, to boot, panic doesn't count as a disabling effect for combo
purposes, so the relatively high damage of Flashfire is nullified by the fact
that both Lightning Bolt and Winter's Grasp can combo for significant damage.
    With the upgrade, Flashfire comes into its own simply because there's no
other mage ability in the game that can take someone out of the fight for so
long and this lengthy duration now outweighs the lamer damage and general
fragility of the crowd control effect; they'll still snap out of it if you
accidentally hit them, but properly used Flashfire can buy you quite a
breather.



2.  IMMOLATE (acts as ELDRITCH detonator)
Deals intense and lasting fire damage in an area.
    Fire damage:  300% weapon damage
    Burning:  75% weapon damage per second
    Burning duration:  8s
    Area of effect:  3m
    Cooldown:  16s
    Cost:  35mana

Upgrade:  WILDFIRE
Increases damage done and makes it easier to cast.
    Fire damage bonus: 170% weapon damage (475% total)
    Burning bonus:  75% weapon damage per second (150%/second total)
    Cooldown reduction:  4s (for a final cooldown of 12s)

Analysis:  3/4
    Highly efficient damage, especially with the upgrade; as of patch 3 it now
properly detonates, which is a bit of a mixed blessing.  It's now no longer safe
to use as a default nuke, but on the plus side being able to set off area of
effect cross-class combos (e.g. rogue's area sleep plus this = lots of free
damage and panic effects via NIGHTMARE) is really powerful.



3.  FLASHPOINT (passive)
When you critically hit, your next spell can be cast without triggering its
cooldown.  You also gain +3 Magic just for unlocking this passive.
    Cooldown before Flashpoint can activate again:  10s

Analysis:  4/4
    Even with modest critical hit gear, you'll be triggering this with
regularity, generally shortly after the internal cooldown wears off; using
spells that hit multiple targets (e.g. Chain Lightning, Energy Barrage, or even
an Immolate on tightly-grouped enemies) will increase the likelihood of
triggering Flashpoint regularly.
    There are two ways that Flashpoint helps you out.  The first way is that
Flashpoint essentially lets you reduce the cooldown of your slowest spell to
within some neighborhood of 10s (the internal cooldown before Flashpoint can
activate again); the more bonus to critical hit you have (either through +%
chance to critical hit, bonuses to Cunning, or party abilities), the closer the
cooldown is to 10s.  For example, Barrier has a default cooldown of 24s.  With
modest crit gear, and if you *only* use Barrier when you have Flashpoint
triggered, you can use Barrier close to every 10s while still keeping one use
of Barrier in "reserve" in case of emergencies; this effective cooldown
reduction is better than stacking Winter Stillness, Barrier's Elegant Defense
upgrade, and two triggers of Clean Burn!
    The second way is that close to every 10s, you can get a sudden boost of
damage.  This works best with high-impact fast spells, but you can imagine
doubling-up on Immolates or Chain Lightnings!  Or the crowd control of being
able to Horror twice!  Of course, you'll need to be able to have the mana to
rapidly cast such spells twice, but that's a separate problem with several
solutions (mana reduction from masterwork crafting, Lyrium potion, etc).  Note
that some spells do not work well with doubling up (only one mine or wall of
any one type can exist per caster so no doubling up on Fire Mines).
    In short, Flashpoint is a subtle passive that can be potentially very
powerful if properly taken advantage of.  With a high crit build, the extra
advantages you gain out of getting a "free" (as in time) spell so regularly can
be immense.



4.  PYROMANCER (passive)
Increases how long enemies are feared and burnt for.  You also gain +3
Willpower just for unlocking this passive.
    Burning duration bonus:  25%
    Fear duration bonus:  25%

Analysis:  2/4
    The burning duration is nice, though when you are first able to unlock
Pyromancer you'll only have Immolate benefitting from it.  The fear duration
bonus is not terrible, but not as great since you may end up breaking fear
early a lot more often.



5.  CLEAN BURN (passive)
Reduces your active cooldowns every time you cast a spell.  You also gain +3
Willpower just for unlocking this passive.
    Cooldown reduction:  1.5s
    Cooldown before Clean Burn can activate again:  ~1-2s

Analysis:  3/4, 4/4 with Spirit Blade
    You won't cast spells *that* much, but the cooldown reduction is fairly
significant, especially with an upgraded Chain Lightning, Immolate, or
Stonefist (all of which have short cooldowns themselves).  However, this
ability is mostly insane with the zero-cooldown Spirit Blade, essentially
allowing you to speed through all your spell cooldowns as if they don't exist.



6.  FIRE MINE
You mark a small circle on the ground.  After it activates, the moment an enemy
or enemies are in it, it erupts for massive damage.
    Fire damage:  1,600% weapon damage
    Activation delay:  3s
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  35mana

Upgrade:  SEARING GLYPH
Enemies hit by Fire Mine are also launched into the air and set on fire.
    Burning:  200% weapon damage per second
    Burning duration:  8s

Analysis:  3/4
    Really efficient, insane damage, able to almost one-shot weaker enemies.
With the upgrade it can even one-shot average enemies, albeit over time.  For
big damage, this is the star across all mage trees, and all you need to do to
gain from it is just to have a little good foresight or a good tank who can
keep enemies taunted inside a just-laid-mine.



7.  CHAOTIC FOCUS (passive)
Every time you cast a fire spell other than Wall of Fire, you drain half your
current barrier and add a proportional amount to your spell's damage.  You also
gain +3 Magic just for unlocking this passive.
    Barrier consumed:  50% of current
    Damage bonus:  up to 100% (multiplicative), 200% for Fire Mine
        (multiplicative) if 50% of maximum consumed

Analysis:  1/4, 2/4 with Fade Shield
    A mage should theoretically be standing back and avoiding damage, so this
theoretically lets you convert an unnecessary barrier into lots of extra
damage.  The exact mechanic is that if the amount of barrier consumed is equal
to 50% of your maximum barrier (the most possible), your fire spell's damage is
increased by 100% (multiplicative), 200% if Fire Mine.  For anything less the
damage bonus is reduced linearly, so if the amount of barrier consumed is 25%
of your maximum barrier (i.e. you cast a spell with only half your barrier
remaining), then you get a 50% multiplicative bonus to fire spells (100%
multiplicative for Fire Mine).
    Do note three things:  the damage bonus is irrelevant to how much barrier
you can actually create and how much or little damage your fire spells do; if
someone creates a 3,000 barrier on you and your Flashfire only does 50 damage,
the most you can do is 100.  Second, the damage bonus only applies to *direct*
damage, not any ongoing damage (like that from Immolate or Fire Mine's
upgrade).  Lastly, Wall of Fire is completely unaffected by Chaotic Focus.
    So yeah, this is nice for periodically nice bursts of damage, especially if
your mage is avoiding damage so you can get that maximum multiplier.
*However*, if your mage is standing back and avoiding damage, why would she
be buffed with a barrier to begin with?  Isn't that barrier better off on
someone, you know actually going toe-to-toe with enemies?  And if it really is
such an emergency that your mage needed a barrier at the expense of a warrior,
do you really want to consume half of it immediately at your next fire spell?
So yeah, some significant caveats; at best this means at the start of a fight
(when all your party members are clustered together) your mage gets the first
spell cast with a significant boost; after that you won't see much benefit.
    Still however, though, if you have Fade Shield (which lets you gain barrier
proportional to spell damage done), then your mage will very frequently have
spare barrier, thus guaranteeing a constant level of damage boost which in turn
will also gain you extra barrier (though not enough to make up for how much you
lose).  The only thing keeping that interaction from being insane is that a
mage with Fade Shield is probably going to be spamming Spirit Blade instead of
a fire spell, though as a periodic way to supercharge an Immolate or Fire Mine
it's not bad.



8.  WALL OF FIRE
You create a passable wall of flames; enemies who cross the threshold are
panicked and set on fire.
    Size:  6m length, ~1m width
    Duration:  20s
    Burning:  200% weapon damage per second
    Burning duration:  8s
    Fear duration:  4s
    Cooldown:  32s
    Cost:  35mana

Upgrade:  LASTING FLAMES
Increases the length of the wall and increases the burning duration.
    Size increase:  +3m length (9m length total)
    Burning duration bonus:  4s (12s total)

Analysis:  3/4
    In some ways better, in some ways worse than Wall of Ice.  Wall of Fire
will actively hurt your enemies while also providing some protection, but
unlike how Wall of Ice was not reliant on a status effect to accomplish its
protection (and thus vulnerable to resistances), Wall of Fire is definitely
prone to becoming a useless defensive spell against panic-immune enemies.  At
least it's cheaper to cast.
    One advantage Wall of Fire has over other fear effects is that it continues
to re-fear enemies; in other words, let's say a swordsman crosses the fire:
they catch fire and turn to run.  After a few steps, you hit them with a few
attacks/spells.  He turns back around to attack you, but crosses the fire
again.  They get panicked again, etc.  Because of this, in some situations,
Wall of Fire can be unparalleled defense and offense.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Winter                                                                !mag,win-

Synopsis:  Possibly the strongest of the core mage trees by a small margin,
trading off a lower damage output with significantly increased crowd control,
utility, and defensive capabilities.  In other words, damage is nice, but all
the other stuff is better.

    <1> <2>
    / \ / \
  (3) (4) (5)
      / \
    <6> <7>
      \ /
      <8>
       |
      <9>

1.  WINTER'S GRASP
Freezes enemy in place; incapacitates with "frozen."
    Ice damage:  200% weapon damage
    Freeze duration:  4s
    Chill duration:  8s
    Cooldown:  16s
    Cost:  65mana

Upgrade:  WINTER'S CHILL
Adds area of effect, but only primary target is incapacitated with "frozen."
    Bonus ice damage for direct hit:  200% weapon damage (400% total)
    Area of effect:  3m

Analysis:  3/4
    If a mage is about battlefield control, Winter's Grasp is the ideal
realization of that concept.  The damage is on the low end of basic nukes, but
that's because its disabling effect is unmatched - a standard 4 seconds of an
enemy completely knocked out, followed by more time of an enemy being chilled.
You can both do a lot of damage and prevent a lot of damage in those 4 seconds,
especially if near the tail end of it you can detonate a SHATTER combo; as
usual, don't detonate too early or else you'll cheat yourself out of some debuff
duration.
    The upgrade is absolutely essential, giving it a significant area of effect;
even if "chilled" is not as powerful as actually freezing an enemy, it is still
an improvement in the battle conditions in your favor.  It also dramatically
increases your mage's damage output in group combat situations.  Also notably,
an unlisted bonus of this upgrade doubles your damage against a target if
you make a direct hit, which makes this almost the hands-down best basic
mage nuke in the core trees; ironically, it ends up doing more damage than the
nominally-high-damage-focus inferno tree basic crowd-control nuke (Flashfire)
does.  (This probably has to do with the way the area of effect is implemented
in-game, as an additional effect that does 200% weapon damage in 3m, which
means if you hit a target head-on, they get hit both by the original effect and
then the area of effect.)



2.  FADE STEP
You become insubstantial and move very rapidly for a short time, letting you
pass through enemies.  In tactical mode you select a direction and move in a
straight line; outside of tactical mode you can steer a bit.
    Duration:  2s
    Cooldown:  12s

Upgrade:  FROST STEP
Enemies you pass through are chilled and take damage.
    Ice damage:  400% weapon damage (instead of 300% listed in-game)
    Chill duration:  8s

Analysis:  3/4
    An important survivability move that can also be doubled as a way to quickly
close the gap with a distant foe (important for Knight-Enchanters), though you
won't use it nearly as much as your other abilities.  While a mage won't have
the sheer aggro-dropping-power of a rogue with stealth, this gets pretty close:
you'll be able to warp out of danger incredibly rapidly and hopefully get the
enemy to focus on someone less squishy.
    The upgrade is not truly necessary unless you're going for a rapid-mobility
Knight-Enchanter setup; your decision-making about where to Fade Step should be
determined by what destination is safe rather than how many enemies you can
damage.  Still, a chilled enemy will take longer to pursue a mage, so in cases
of fleeing from melee enemies the upgrade point is still useful; just know that
you won't miss it too much.
    Note:  Fade Step does more damage than listed in game, doing 400% weapon
damage.  Also notably, Fade Step also allows you to get flanking damage bonus,
which is not normally possible with spells.



3.  MANA SURGE (passive)
If your barrier is reduced to 0 for any reason, you freeze all nearby enemies
and your next spell doesn't use mana.  You also gain +3 Magic just for unlocking
this passive.
    Area of effect:  3m
    Freeze duration:  2s

Analysis:  2/4
    Good emergency survival ability, but does nothing if the enemy who dropped
your barrier is a distance away... which is likely since your mage is probably
far from the front-lines of combat.  Knight-Enchanters can make good use here,
as they will constantanly be generating and losing barrier down to 0, though
they may not have/want a non-Spirit Blade to burn for free in an effective
way.
    Note that Mana Surge will not let you cast Blizzard for free.  Note too
that simply having your barrier run to 0 without any enemy intervention (i.e.
it just runs out) still triggers a freeze effect (so you could freeze nearby
enemies who were not responsible for your 0 barrier) and a free next spell.
There appears to be no duration on this "next spell free" buff, so this means at
the end of a fight you could potentially get your next non-Blizzard spell opener
for free at the next fight, no matter how far away it is (so long as you don't
leave the area).



4.  WINTER STILLNESS (passive)
If you do not move, your mana rate and cooldown rate are improved.  You also
gain +3 Willpower just for unlocking this passive.
    Meditation idle threshold:  3s
    Mana regeneration rate bonus:  50%
    Cooldown rate bonus:  50%*

Analysis:  4/4
    Probably one of the best skills in all of the mage's skill trees.  With the
exception of a Knight-Enchanter setup, your mage will generally be immobile
anyway, so this will rapidly escalate your mage's casting abilities something
like 95% of the time.  The only downside is that *any* movement resets the idle
threshold counter... if a melee enemy pushes you around a bit just from running
into you, that counts as movement!  All the more reason to keep your mage away
from the front lines of combat.
    Some abilities--when not used in tactical mode--buggily break Winter
Stillness because they induce some trivial movement.  In fact, merely trying
to aim an ability might be enough to break Winter Stillness!  Tactical mode is
less sensitive to these disruptions, and I only document cases where I've seen
an ability consistently break Winter Stillness in tactical mode.
    *Note: By cooldown "rate", I don't mean that your cooldowns are reduced by
50%.  Rather, imagine that your cooldowns are determined by a number that is
increasing until a threshold is met to indicate a "ready" ability, and *that's*
what gets increased by 50%.  In practice, this means that your cooldowns are
reduced by 33% by this ability (which is still mind-numbingly awesome), but
this distinction is necessary for how it interacts with other cooldown
modifying abilities.
    Pedantic note:  to calculate a modified cooldown under this scenario, do:
        [cooldown] / ((1 + [bonus_1]) * (1 + [bonus_2]) * etc.)
i.e. cooldown bonuses are multiplicative.  So for a 24s cooldown and with
Winter Stillness and a Cooldown Amulet (+5%) active, the final cooldown would
be 24 / ((1 + .5) * (1 + .05)) = 15.24s.



5.  FROST MASTERY (passive)
All freeze and chill durations are increased for you.  You also gain +3 Magic
just for unlocking this passive.
    Freeze duration bonus:  25%
    Chill duraiton bous:  25%

Analysis:  3/4
    Literally every winter spell benefits from this.  While chill duration
lengthening is nice, you'll be spamming said spells anyway so you get less of a
benefit.  The freeze duration increase is *massive*.  This could mean up to a
full 1.5 extra seconds off an Ice Mine, which in the world of fast-paced DA:I
combat is an eternity, especially when you're trying to make a combo detonator
connect.



6.  WALL OF ICE
Creates an impenetrable wall of ice.  Can be destroyed with damage or dispel
effects.
    Size:  6m length, ~1m width
    Duration:  20s
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  50mana

Upgrade:  GLACIAL STRENGTH
Makes your wall larger and easier to cast.
    Size increase:  +3m length (9m length total)
    Cooldown reduction:  8s (for a final cooldown of 16s)

Analysis:  2/4
    Potentially useless, situationally amazing.  You have to get a knack for
knowing how to position this with environmental obstacles.  Poorly positioned,
it just vaguely slows down enemies from swarming your mage; optimally positioned
you create choke points, completely wall off a flank, protect your vulnerable
party members, and/or block ranged attackers.
    Regardles of whether you use tactical mode or not, get into the habit of
forcing your ranged guys to "Hold Position" behind the wall, otherwise they'll
gleefully try to run around the wall to attack their foes, thus defeating the
point of having a defensive barrier.
    If you're still not getting the hang of it, be patient.  Skillfully used it
can work wonders.  From personal experience, I've been able to pull victory
from the jaws of a near-wipe on Hard:  in one example, repeated use of Wall of
Ice let my main mage and Dorian at low health--with the other party members
unconscious and zero potions remaining--keep at bay and defeat around eight
undead in the northern fort of the Exalted Plains, something no other spell
would've allowed.
    The best part of this ability is that it has a capability that no other
skill in the core mage trees has:  it is still completely 100% effective
against enemies otherwise cold resistant or immune to a winter tree's disabling
effects:  a solid wall is still a solid wall.
    You can easily destroy the wall yourself with spells (trivially so, one
solid hit will destroy a chunk of the wall, even Dispel) so be careful with
aiming.  Enemies will occasionally try to hack at the wall (but physical attacks
destroy the wall much slower), but most enemies will instead just stand around
or try to find an alternate route.



7.  ICE MINE [BUGGED]
Creates a large glyph on the ground.  When activated, will detonate the moment
an enemy is in it, freezing them.
    Area of effect:  ~4m
    Freeze duration:  6s
    Activation delay:  3s
    Cooldown:  18s
    Cost:  35mana

Upgrade:  BRITTLE GLYPH
Enemies affected by Ice Mine lose their armor while frozen.
    Armor reduction:  100%

Analysis:  3/4
    The winter analogue to inferno's Fire Mine:  cheap and super effective.
Instead of insane amounts of damage, you get extremely long crowd-control.
While in some cases this can be worse than Fire Mine (especially where Fire
Mine's damage could outright kill an enemy) in harder and touchy fights Ice Mine
shines:  deadly enemies can be kept disabled for prolonged periods of time, and
can even be limitedly chain-frozen with Winter's Grasp.  And any loss in damage
can be made up for with good timing with a combo detonator;  6 seconds (7.5 with
Frost Mastery) is an awful long time to keep enemies out of combat, get some
free damage (especially with the Brittle Glyph upgrade), and then still get a
lot of bonus damage with a SHATTER detonation.
    Like Fire Mine, you can easily get many enemies into the area of effect.
Best success can be had with a tank who can keep some enemies busy while you
drop an Ice Mine right on top of them; 3 seconds is not terribly long to wait.
    Note:  due to a bug, occasionally the mere act of casting Ice Mine will
break Winter Stillness.  It's not as consistent as Energy Barrage, but it
happens with regularity.



8.  ICE ARMOR (passive)
When you are next to a frozen enemy or a persistent cold effect, you gain damage
reduction.  You also gain +3 Willpower just for unlocking this passive.
    Damage reduction:  50%

Analysis:  1/4
    Probably most useful for a Knight-Enchanter setup, as they will most likely
be the ones up in the face of frozen enemies or active Blizzards/Ice Mines.  You
can still get a little bit of mileage out of it for mages who keep their
distance with cooperative positioning with Walls of Ice.  Otherwise, if you're
in a situation where you're right next to a frozen enemy and *need* the 50%
damage reduction, you're doing it wrong.  Too bad you have to get this anyway
if you want Blizzard.



9.  BLIZZARD
Enemies in the area take periodic damage and are chilled.  Can be turned off and
on, your character can do other things while Blizzard is active.
    Ice damage:  75% weapon damage per second
    Chill duration:  8s
    Area of effect:  8m
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  5mana per second

Upgrade:  ICE STORM
Increases damage done and enemies who are in the area of effect long enough are
frozen.
    Damage bonus:  75% weapon damage per second (150%/second total)
    Freeze duration:  4s

Analysis:  2/4, 3/4 with upgrade
    Wide damage and disabling, most effective when you get three or more enemies
caught in its area of effect.  The best part of this ability is that it's
flexible:  you can keep it on for one second or for the full expanse of your
mana pool.  Obviously there's not much use for a one second use, but it means
that you can shut it off early if you need to save mana for a critical ability.
    The upgrade is absolutely mandatory.  Not so much for the freeze effect,
which takes an awful long time to kick in (you essentially need to keep an enemy
within the area of effect for about ~75 mana's worth), but because it doubles
the damage output of Blizzard.  At 150% total weapon damage per second in a wide
area for only 5 mana per second, Blizzard becomes a potentially quite
mana-effective way of dealing damage (Immolate and Fire Mine are more effective
but have much smaller areas of effect and are less flexible in their mana
usage).
    You can do other things while Blizzard is active, even cast other spells.
Your character will automatically stop Blizzard when there are no more enemies
in the area of effect or when mana is out.  I recommend stopping it a bit more
aggressively.
    Note:  if you have Restorative Veil (Rift Mage tree), you will not gain
mana back based on Blizzard damage, preventing at least one avenue for an
indefinite sustaining Blizzard.  However, you can trivially just do basic
attacks, and the mana you gain back from that will generally be enough to both
sustain a Blizzard indefinitely as well as permit you to cast other spells.
This has the side effect of making the upgrade more powerful as it makes it
more likely that you'll be able to keep Blizzard up long enough to freeze
enemies.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Knight-Enchanter                                                      !mag,kni-

Synopsis:  This tree is so good it will probably be nerfed in a patch.

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1.  SPIRIT BLADE
Make a magical melee attack.  This attack also includes rune damage (unlike
other magical abilities), so the rune damage will also get buffed.
    Spirit damage:  300% weapon damage
    Bonus:  200% bonus vs barrier (multiplicative, net 3x), 400% bonus vs guard
        (multiplicative, net 5x)
    Cost:  10 mana

Upgrade:  DEFENDING BLADE
An attack with Spirit Blade will repel projectiles.

Analysis:  2/4, 3/4 if you have Clean Burn or Fade Shield or Static Charge
    Decent on its own, even if it exposes you to danger, but where it really
shines is in its synergy with other skills.  There's no cooldown on this
ability; combined with a cheap mana cost, there are some powerful interactions
that perhaps the developers did not think all the way through.  The biggest
interaction isn't even with a skill in this tree:  the inferno tree has Clean
Burn, which is a passive that reduces active cooldowns by 1s every time you
cast a spell.  That basically turns Spirit Blade into a "spam this and always
have spells ready" attack button.  ...Yeah, kind of crazy.



2.  COMBAT CLARITY (passive)
When you are near attacking enemies, your mana regeneration increases.  You
also gain +3 Constitution just for unlocking this passive.
    Distance threshold:  5m
    Mana regeneration rate bonus:  50%

Analysis: 3/4
    As a Knight-Enchanter you're going to be in the front lines of combat a
lot, which means 95% of the time you'll get a 50% mana regeneration boost.
    Do note that the mana regeneration does not appear to stack with Winter
Stillness.  However, the two skills do complement each other, as if you're this
close to an enemy you are unlikely to be standing still, whereas if you're
outside the range of Combat Clarity you are more likely to be standing still
and benefitting from Winter Stillness instead.



3.  FADE CLOAK
You become immaterial, becoming invulnerable and able to pass through enemies.
    Duration:  2s
    Cooldown:  12s
    Cost:  20mana

Upgrade:  DECLOAKING BLAST
If you re-materialize inside an enemy, you knock them back and do a lot of
damage.
    Spirit damage:  1,000% weapon damage.

Analysis:  3/4
    Great mobility and survival skill in one.  And unlike the winter tree's
Fade Step upgrade, a Knight-Enchanter will love the damaging upgrade; not only
will you have a skill that lets you close to melee range safely, but you'll be
able to deal some upfront damage to start the skirmish.



4.  RESURGEANCE (focus-based)
You revive any party members, heal them to full health, and then provide
ongoing healing.
    Area of effect:  5m
    Duration:  10s
    Tier 1:  Heal 2% per second.
    Tier 2:  Heal 10% per second.
    Tier 3:  Heal 25% per second.

Analysis:  good; higher tiers unnecessary
    Even at tier 1, Resurgence can be a game-changer, basically giving you the
power to undo a party wipe and keep fighting.  At higher tiers, you'll be able
to win fights you have no business of winning; healing 25% health per second
is essentially 10 seconds of immortality.  However, the major downside to
Resurgeance is that it does nothing for you if you're not in trouble.  As such,
you'll find that as your power level grows you'll need this less and less.  The
situational power bump when things go badly is good enough that this is still a
"good" focus ability, just know its limitations.
    Because the main benefit to this focus ability is the party-wide revive and
full heal, you can get along just fine with just tier 1 usage; higher tiers are
mostly just "win-more."



5.  FADE SHIELD (passive)
Every time you do damage, a portion of it is used to give you barrier.  You
also gain +3 Magic just for unlocking this passive.
    Barrier generated:  a complicated equation; 30% of damage dealt as a
        fraction of 1,000 as a coefficient of your un-buffed maximum barrier

Analysis:  4/4
    Remember how Spirit Blade has no cooldown?  Yep, now it's an at-will
barrier generator (along with all your other abilities).  Not even warriors get
this kind of protection generation.  It also interacts with Veiled Riposte
(!!).  Do note that this does *not*, as the game says, generate barrier equal
to 30% of damage done, see section mec,bar- for a detailed explanation with an
example using actual numbers.



6.  VEILED RIPOSTE (passive)
When enemies damage you while you have barrier, they take some damage in
proportion to the damage they dealt to you.  You also gain +3 Magic just for
unlocking this passive.
    Damage:  20% of damage done

Analysis:  3/4
    With Fade Shield you will probably always have barrier active.  That means
you'll always be doing additional damage to enemies.  Which, in turn, will help
make sure your barrier keeps active.  That, my friends, is what we call a
"virtuous cycle."



7.  KNIGHT-PROTECTOR (passive) [BUGGED]
Your barrier takes longer to decay.  You also gain +3 Constitution just for
unlocking this passive.
    Barrier decay reduction:  35%

Analysis:  3/4
    With Fade Shield you hardly need the help, but it's something.
    Note that this is bugged such that if you have at least one mage in your
party that has this ability, *all* mages' barriers benefit from it.



8.  DISRUPTION FIELD
You create an area that slows down enemies.  Enemies larger than the area are
immune (like dragons).
    Speed reduction:  50%
    Area of effect:  3m (centered on you)
    Duration:  10s
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  65mana

Upgrade:  STASIS LOCK
Enemies are slowed down over the course of a few seconds to become
nearly-frozen.  Damage interrupts the effect, possibly preventing the stopping
from happening or causing a stopped enemy to resume moving a bit before being
slowed down again.
    Speed reduction:  99%
    Duration:  5s

Analysis:  2/4
    Not bad, 50% slow down is pretty good and stronger than the typical chilled
effect; plus, since it's an actual slow down it works on enemies who would
otherwise be resistant to a similar status effect.  However, in turn you gain a
hard inability to affecting anything larger than the 3m radius which is
excacerbated by the fact that the area of effect is *centered* on you, which
means you have to be real up and close to slow down/disable enemies.
    The upgrade is decent but mainly helpful if you want to immobilize a batch
of archers or are good at focus-firing on one melee fighter at a time; this
makes sure that any other melee fighters are out of the count, giving your tank
and any other melee-er some breathing room.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Necromancer                                                           !mag,nec-

Synopsis:  The weakest of the mage specializations, both because "panic" is
the weakest of the mage status effects and also because this skill tree mainly
synergizes with just inferno, leaving the others in the dust.  But, there are
still a few bright spots that can justify going into this path.

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1.  HORROR
Panics enemies.
    Area of effect:  3m
    Panic duration:  6s
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  50mana

Upgrade:  DESPAIR
Horror now has a debuff that does damage and weakens enemies.
    Spirit damage:  50% weapon damage per second
    Armor reduction:  20%

Analysis:  1/4, 2/4 with upgrade
    Panic is the weakest of the mage's debuffs since damage will end the effect
and it doesn't combo, so making a centerpiece ability out of just the effect is
necessarily going to be underwhelming.  The plus is that it has an area of
effect, but it'll rarely be your top choice between this and any other
disabling ability you have ready and the mana for.  With the upgrade, the math
becomes a lot better, as now it acts like an inferno spell, doing both panic
and damage (albeit low), in an area of effect to boot.



2.  DEATH SIPHON (passive)
Every time an enemy dies you gain health and mana.  You also gain +3
Constitution just for unlocking this passive.
    Mana restore amount:  20
    Health restore amount:  10% of max

Analysis:  2/4
    Won't actively help you win any one fight, but it does go a way to making
sure your mage can shrug off incindental damage over several fights.  In the
end, this has the subtle effect of leaving you with more potions for other
characters, possibly freeing up a belt slot away from purely regenerative
potions, and making this character the de facto reviver as other non-tank party
members suffer more incindental damage.



3.  BLINDING TERROR (passive)
Enemies you panic are debuffed to take more damage.  You also gain +3 Magic
just for unlocking this passive.
    Party damage bonus vs your panicked: 15%

Analysis:  2/4
    This would be a heck of a lot better if enemies stayed panicked after you
did more than couple hits to them, but eh, I guess free damage is free damage.
(I think it does well with ongoing damage, which at least anecdotally seems to
be less likely to knock enemies out of fear).



4.  HASTE (focus-based)
Your party moves a lot faster (demonstrated by a slowdown of time for everyone
else).
    Time slowed down by:  85%
    Tier 1:  6 seconds
    Tier 2:  12 seconds
    Tier 3:  20 seconds

Analysis:  good at first, amazing later
    At tier 1, this ability is simply a lot of fun:  you get a little of free
damage in, move some characters out of harm's way, all while watching
Matrix-style bullet time take place.  At tiers 2/3, you get brutal power; keep
in mind that cooldowns/regeneration for your party still go at normal pace, so
once at tier 2, you're starting to get significant combat advantage/extra moves
against the enemy.  The only caveat is that there's a little bit of a wind-up
time before the slow-down kicks in so it won't save you from immediate
catastrophe.



5.  POWER OF THE DEAD (passive)
When you kill enemies, you gain a damage bonus for a short time.  You also gain
+3 Willpower just for unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus:  20%
    Duration:  10s

Analysis:  2/4
    Not bad, you just need to make sure that this mage is paired with a good
damaging companion tree (i.e. don't do necromancer+spirit).  Not going to help
you in boss fights, save for ones where minions keep popping in.



6.  SIMULACRUM (passive)
When you're knocked unconscious a duplicate appears who can cast spells without
using mana.  You can't be revived until the duplicate goes away.
    Duration:  10s

Analysis:  2/4
    On its own, it's not that bad, but won't really help in the many fights
you'll be in where your mage *isn't* being knocked out.  It basically buys you
a tiny bit of insurance, letting you get some extra time to unleash spells that
may be potential game-changers in a situation where things are bad enough where
your mage gets knocked out.
    It's mostly useful when you actually have some clutch spells that could
help and would benefit from being able to cast them from free.  A 10s Blizzard
would be nice, but so would a free Revive (if you have other party members who
are collapsing).  Aside from that, use this as an opportunity to put all your
abilities on cooldown and positioning yourself in a way that would be
easier to get you revived once the effect wears off.



7.  SPIRIT MARK
You debuff an enemy to take damage.  If they die while debuffed, they join your
side for a brief amount of time.  You can toggle this on/off.
    Spirit damage:  75% weapon damage per second
    Duration:  12s
    Charm duration:  15s
    Cooldown:  20s
    Cost:  50mana

Upgrade:  LINGERING MARK
Target revived by Spirit Mark do more damage and stick around longer.
    Charmed damage bonus:  75%
    Charm duration bonus:  30s (45s total)

Analysis:  3/4
    Won't help you with one-on-one hard fights (since there will be no enemy to
revive), but for every other situation--provided you are a little sensible with
how you use this ability and target your enemies--you get a helpful NPC with
the fight.  The upgrade is absolutely necessary to realize the potential, but
you also need some sense in who you want as an ally (and consequently target
first).  Dinky slow Corpses might hardly have the chance to have an impact with
their shambling, but Terrors--with their teleporting, slowing, sonic-boom
mayhem--can be fearsome allies.



8.  WALKING BOMB
You debuff an enemy to take damage.  At the end of the debuff, a massive
explosion erupts, knocking enemies down.
    Spirit damage:  200% weapon damage per second
    Duration:  10s
    Explosion damage:  600% weapon damage
    Area of effect:  5m
    Cooldown:  20s
    Cost:  65mana

Upgrade:  VIRULENT
If the target dies from Walking Bomb, the effect spreads to affected enemies.

Analysis:  3/4
    Another good finish to a meh skill tree, the debuff damage is rather
significant and the explosion nice.  The uprade effect is hard to plan for:
600% weapon damage is not Fire-Mine-level instakill damage, and the duration is
enough that alot of other damage might have been done by other party members in
the meantime, but as an extra on top of an already solid skill, it's not bad.
With a great potential for mayhem.
    Note that you can prematurely detonate Walking Bomb by simply re-using the
skill.  This helps a bit with planning the final explosion, but more
importantly can help you maximize the impact of the explosion (let's say the
target wanders near a bunch of squishy Spirits or some such).  It can also be
a pinch survival move, if i.e. you desperately need the knock-down effect you
can detonate prematurely to get it.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rift Mage                                                             !mag,rif-

Synopsis:  middle of the road; not as abusively powerful as Knight-Enchanter,
but fits into more builds.  Has great debuffing potential and can help set up
area of effect abilities quite nicely.  Could have incredibly powerful combo
potential if not for a horrible tree-breaking bug with Stonefist.

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1.  VEILSTRIKE [potentially BUGGED!]
Knocks all affected enemies to the ground for a second or two.
    Area of effect:  5m
    Cooldown:  24s
    Cost:  35mana

Upgrade:  PUNCHING DOWN
Makes it much easier to cast Veilstrike and adds a "weaken" effect.
    Cost reduction:  15mana (for a final cost of 20mana)
    Weakened duration:  10s

Analysis:  1/4, 3/4 with upgrade
    Not bad, a cheap way to get some brief reprieve for front line fighters.
Has a pseudo-combo with a Two-Handed warrior's Mighty Blow (which is extra
effective against knocked down enemies) or Coup De Grace (extra bonus on
knocked down enemies).  It doesn't do outright damage, but fortunately it's
fairly cheap to cast.  The upgrade is mandatory, it makes the small knock-down
effect much more cost effective and--more importantly--adds a weakening debuff
that is necessary for synergy with the rest of the Rift Mage tree.
    Due to a potential bug, there is a weird interaction with the weakness
effect;  if you weaken an enemy that's been "shocked," you will actually put
them to sleep!  However, this does prevent the weaken effect from kicking in,
so the deeper you get into this tree the less beneficial and more actively
harmful this interaction becomes.



2.  STONEFIST (acts as IMPACT detonator) [BUGGED!]
Launches a boulder at the enemy, potentially knocking them down for a second or
two.
    Spirit damage:  500% weapon damage
    Cooldown:  8s
    Cost:  50mana

Upgrade:  SHATTERSTONE
Adds an explosion and a "weaken" effect.
    Area of effect:  4m
    Weakened duration:  10s

Analysis:  2/4 because of a BUG
    A solid staple nuke, doing massive damage every 8 seconds.  The upgrade
makes it more powerful, giving it an area of effect and the necessary weakening
effect for synergy with the rest of this skill tree.  It also can knock over
enemies (enemies closest to the impact are more likely to fall over and heavier
enemies are less likely to be knocked over; it's not as sure a thing as
Veilstrike), which means temporary reprieve and potential pseudo-combo with a
Two-Handed warrior's Mighty Blow or Coup De Grace.
    However, this ability could be much, much better if its IMPACT detonation
worked correctly.  In theory, because an IMPACT detonation is inherently a
cross-class combo with a mage's disabling effects, a Rift Mage could become a
self-comboing machine:  imagine setting off an Ice Mine or Lighting Cage and
sending off a Stonefist to simultaneously SHATTER/DISCHARGE detonate many
enemies at once; or imagine getting a powerful RUPTURE effect by hitting a
sleeping enemy with Stonefist!  However, a BUG currently exists where Stonefist
will *trigger* combos but do *zero* extra damage; in effect, Stonefist will
just prematurely end all incapacitating effects you are able to deploy.
    Fortunately, Stonefist is a decent nuke on its own that adds some elemental
diversity to a mage, so long as you are aware of the drawback that it'll
prematurely end any disabling effects.  Otherwise, I'll say that you're probably
better off going for the cheaper Veilstrike for weaken synergies.
    Due to a potential bug, there is a weird interaction with the weakness
effect;  if you weaken an enemy that's been "shocked," you will actually put
them to sleep!  However, this does prevent the weaken effect from kicking in,
so the deeper you get into this tree the less beneficial and more actively
harmful this interaction becomes.



3.  RESTORATIVE VEIL (passive)
You regain mana based on damage you do to weakened enemies.  You also gain +3
Magic just for unlocking this passive.
    Mana recovery:  10% of damage done to weakened enemies

Analysis:  4/4
    Absolutely amazing - combined with a supplemental mana regeneration skill,
you may never need to worry about running out of mana ever again.  It works
with both spells and basic attacks, so if you sap yourself out of mana, you can
basic attack your way back to full mana very quickly.
    There are some caveats - it doesn't appear to restore mana based off
ongoing damage, so you can't get an infinite-duration Blizzard with this.  It
may also be either capped at some maximum number to regen with any given
attack.  Nevertheless, with many spells this can serve as an instant discount
(e.g. Winter's Grasp or Flashfire will take away your mana, but then a huge
chunk of that mana will come straight back after they connect), in still a few
others it can turn spells into pure mana generators (think Fire Mine).
    Even with Blizzard - which doesn't trigger the mana regeneration, you can
end up doing basic attacks against an enemy, and those basic attacks will most
likely give you enough mana back so that not only will you be able to keep
Blizzard indefinitely, you'll also be able to cast other spells in the process.



4.  ENCIRCLING VEIL (passive)
Your duration-based effects last longer on weakened enemies.  You also gain +3
Magic just for unlocking this passive.
    Duration bonus vs weakened:  25%

Analysis:  3/4
    Only the most specific types of mages wouldn't love this ability.



5.  FIRESTORM (focus-based)
Meteors randomly hit locations in the area of effect, with a slight preference
for where enemies happen to be near.
    Area of effect:  6m
    Fire damage:  150% weapon damage
    Tier 1:  15 meteors
    Tier 2:  30 meteors
    Tier 3:  55 meteors

Analysis:  meh at first, good later
    Like other damage-based Focus abilities, at first the effect is on the
underwhelming side; in particular if this is for your Inquisitor you're probably
just better off using the Mark of the Rift.  With upgrades, this becomes better;
with at least Tier 2, the sustained damage is nice.
    This abilility shines disproportionately when there are more enemies; the
impacting meteors have a small area of effect, so clustered enemies essentially
multiplies the damage potential of this ability.



6.  SMOTHERING VEIL (passive)
Weakened enemies are even weaker.  You also gain +3 Willpower just for
unlocking this passive.
    Damage reduction:  30%

Analysis:  2/4
    Unclear whether this is party-wide buff or it only affects enemies that are
weakened by either an upgraded Veilstrike or Stonefist.  If it's a party-wide
buff, it's also an open question whether two Rift Mages (an inquisitor plus
Solas) would be a brutally effective defense.
    Anyway, rhetorical questions aside, if this ability functions as listed it's
great for party survivability.



7.  TWISTING VEIL (passive)
You gain a damage bonus against weakened enemies.  You also gain +3 Magic just
for unlocking this passive.
    Damage bonus vs weakened:  15%

Analysis:  2/4
    It only specifically affects *your* damage against weakened enemies, so the
net party-wide effect of this is going to be diluted, but it's still not bad to
have.



8.  PULL OF THE ABYSS
Sucks enemies towards the central point of the area of effect.
    Area of effect:  6m
    Duration:  12s
    Cooldown:  32s
    Cost:  65mana

Upgrade:  SHAKEN
Pull of the Abyss is easier to cast, enemies are also briefly weakened.
    Cooldown reduction:  8s (for a final cooldown of 24s)
    Weakened duration:  10s

Analysis:  3/4
    This ability is a bag of tricks whose power level depends on how you
interact with it.  It can be used to pull melee enemies away from vulnerable
allies, pull any enemy towards a tank, or--more powerfully--pull any enemy into
disaster.  The duration is long enough to set up all sorts of other
supplemental tricks (and have the mana regenerated to cast them); think of
pulling in a huge group of enemies and dropping a Fire or Ice Mine into the
central point; or pulling them into the maws of a powerful Focus-based ability;
or using it as an opportunity to toss grenades.
    Another way to think of this ability is that it effectively expands the
area of effect of other abilities you or your party members have to at least
6m, and those that already have areas of effect larger than 6m it gives them
the ability to have a supplementally-extended range.
    There are a few caveats:  the area of effect is not quite as wide as one
would like (though actually wider than the visual indicator seems to show, I've
seen enemies a few meters outside the circle still get progressively pulled
in); if you just leave the enemies alone while they're being sucked in, they
will be able to quickly "snap back" to close to their original positions when
the ability wears off; and some enemies are completely immune to being sucked
in by this ability (mainly elites).  Even with these caveats, this is still a
fun ability with a lot of great potential.
    With the upgrade, the ability becomes even more powerful, as now you
synergize with all the other abilities in this tree, most powerfully with
Restorative Veil.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Notable Builds                                                        !mag,not-

Many notable builds will involve some permutation of the Knight-Enchanter tree.
Fade Shield is the real star that holds a bunch of different strategies
together; you can go the traditional route with heavy Spirit Blade use or stay
ranged to sacrifice some of the insane DPS in exchange for some other type of
utility.
    With Spirit Blade you can use Clean Burn to power through all your
cooldowns.  You can also combine with Mana Surge and delay your attacks/manage
your threat so that you're constantly running out of barrier, freezing everyone
nearby (and triggering a free spell) [thanks to JacobFireSquirrel for
suggesting this interaction].
    Without Spirit Blade you'll need less investment in the Knight-Enchanter
tree (mostly getting up to Fade Shield), but you'll gain a lot of defensive
power that can be synergized with various other skills:  e.g. Rejuvenating
Barrier will set you up with high mana regen or you can do a dedicated inferno
damage build with Chaotic Focus.
    Sample 10-point starter builds ("+" indicates upgrade as well):
    ...core skills (common to all following starter builds)
        Knight-Enchanter:  Spirit Blade, Combat Clarity, Fade Shield

    ...for melee:
        Inferno:  Flashfire, Flashpoint, Clean Burn
        Winter: Fade Step+
        Knight-Enchanter:  Fade Cloak, Veiled Riposte

    ...ranged fire damage:
        Inferno:  Immolate+, Flashpoint, Clean Burn, Pyromancer, Chaotic Focus,
            Fire Mine

    ...ranged party defense:
        Spirit:  Barrier, Peaceful Aura, Dispel, Rejuvenating Barrier, Guardian
            Spirit
        Storm:  Chain Lightning+

Inferno and necromancy synergize together to some degree since both rely on
(the admittedly weak) fear status effect and both have a skill that augments
stuff related to fear.
    Sample 10-point starter build ("+" indicates upgrade as well):
        Inferno:  Flashfire+, Flashpoint, Pyromancer, Clean Burn,
            Wall of Fire+
        Necromancy:  Horror+, Blinding Terror

The rift mage's Restorative Veil works particularly well with Blizzard, as with
a steady source of weakness, you'll be able to generate more mana than you'll
consume for keeping Blizzard up, letting you do a large amount of damage.
Unfortunately, the pairing of those two trees isn't as powerful as it could be
due to the fact that Stonefist is bugged.
    Sample 10-point starter build ("+" indicates upgrade as well):
        Winter:  Winter's Grasp+, Winter Stillness, Ice Mine, Ice Armor,
            Blizzard+
        Rift Mage:  Veilstrike+, Restorative Veil

A rift mage is also an interesting pairing with storm, thanks to the
interaction with weakness and shocked causing sleep.  Combining the two trees
will let you generate spontaneous crowd-control constantly throughout a fight
(which will also mean many more sleep-based combos).  In other words, hit a
group of enemies with Chain Lightning then follow up with an upgraded
Veilstrike and you'll have a bunch of sleepy foes.  The best part about this
tree pairing is that it completely sidesteps the fact that Stonefist is bugged;
you can use it just for its upgraded weakness effect!
    Sample 10-point starter build ("+" indicates upgrade as well):
        Storm:  Chain Lightning+, Stormbringer, Gathering Storm
        Rift Mage:  Veilstrike+, Stonefist+, Restorative Veil, Encircling Veil

I also mentioned that the Lightning Cage upgrade to Static Cage can be
party-defining.  Here's one example of the mage component to it (note that it
does not rely on any mage specialization, giving you lots of flexibility in
choice, you could even just choose a specialization just for its focus
ability):
    Sample 10-point starter build ("+" indicates upgrade as well):
        Storm:  Chain Lightning+, Stormbringer, Gathering Storm, Static Cage+
        Inferno:  Flashfire+, Flashpoint, Clean Burn
You'll need some supplementary party members, but this forms a decent core; the
idea being that you use some modest critical hit gear to use basic attacks and
Chain Lightning to trigger a Flashpoint effect close to every 10 seconds, which
you can spend on a Static Cage (mana permitting).  You can also use Chain
Lightning with a Static Cage, as those 6 hits will trigger 6 extra lightning
bolts.  I use Flashfire instead of Immolate to provide this character some
defensive crowd control, though Immolate could also be used since its area of
effect can trigger multiple cage bolts as well.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Chris's Personal Favorite                                         !mag,not,chr-

My personal favorite is a Lightning Cage build and _only_ works for the
inquisitor (since it relies on using Mark of the Rift as a focus ability).
More specifically I consider it a "Flash/Regen control" build since while
Lightning Cage is a centerpiece ability for this build (to the point where the
rest of the party is selected to maximize it) the most important aspect of this
build _for the mage herself_ is the heavy use of Flashpoint and the many
avenues of generating mana.  I call it "control" because it primarily uses
all that mana and Flashpoint to cast lots of barrier around, keeping everyone
healthy, only then using its time devoted to Chain Lightning (for its
simple, pure, flexibly-targetting damage) or Lightning Cage shenanigans.

What follows is a 28-point build, which is fairly intense, but can hit its
potential as early as level 16 (but requires playing as a human, getting the
ability point inquisition perk, and collecting at least two Amulets of Power,
which unfortunately is now currently impossible as of patch 5's new bug).  In
the end, this build completely maxes out as early as level 22, more likely
level 23 if you don't want to finagle the outcome of Wicked Eyes, Wicked Hearts
just to get an Amulet of Power.

Note that more so than my other personal favorites, this particular build is
meant for Nightmare difficulty; on lower difficulties you don't need nearly as
much defensive investment and could probably get away with more offense.

Flash/Regen control build:
    Spirit: Barrier, Guardian Spirit, Peaceful Aura, Dispel+, Rejuvenating
        Barrier, Mind Blast+, Strength of Spirits

    Storm:  Chain Lightning+, Stormbringer, Gathering Storm, Static Cage+

    Inferno:  Flashfire, Flashpoint, Clean Burn, Pyromancer (or Flashfire+ once
        the bug is fixed)

    Winter:  Winter's Grasp+, Winter Stillness, Mana Surge

    Inquisitor:  Mark of the Rift*, Focused Teamwork

    Knight-Enchanter:  Spirit Blade**, Combat Clarity, Fade Shield,
        Knight-Protector

    + Get the upgrade, too
    * Mark of the Rift is free and isn't included in the skill-point count.
    ** Note that Spirit Blade is never used in this build; it is only here to
    fulfill a pre-requisite.  Offense is based on staff attacks or Chain
    Lightning.

Total skill count:  28
These skills can be de-prioritized to obtain a minimum-viable subset of 21
skills:
    Focused Teamwork, Strength of Spirits, Dispel's upgrade, Pyromancer, Mind
    Blast's upgrade, Winter's Grasp's upgrade, Knight-Protector
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
Special:  Inquisitor                                                      !spe-
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Your inquisitor has special access to a custom tree after Haven, so it bears a
brief discussion.  Note that you automatically get Mark of the Rift for free
after Haven.

  <1>
   |
  (2)

1.  MARK OF THE RIFT (focus-based)
You open a small rift, doing significant spirit damage/second to all enemies
within ~10m and outright instantly killing weaker enemies.
    Tier 1:  ?? [HYPOTHETICAL:  250% weapon damage/second for ~8s]
    Tier 2:  ??
    Tier 3:  ??

Analysis:  good
    It's hard to tell how much damage this does and what the criteria is for
insta-killing enemies (neither is documented in-game) and how long it lasts,
but from experience the damage can be pretty substantial.  [HYPOTHETICAL] The
insta-kill effect may unilaterally instakill any and all enemies of a given
type.  You'll find that it instakills the following creatures consistently
(other considerations, like relative health or level, may not even matter):
        Demons:  Wraiths, Shades
        Beast:  Nugs, Fennec Foxes, Rams, Halla and other deer-like, Wolves
            and other canines
        Undead:  Corpse, Corpse Archers, Ghouls
        Humanoids:  Shield-less foot soldiers, Archers
        Other:  Deepstalkers, Spiders
Regardless of anything else, elites and bosses (even if they are versions of
the above) will never be insta-killed.  Creatures not instakilled take intense
spirit damage for a short duration, possibly enough to kill them outright
anyway.
    Anyway, this is a solid focus ability that for your main character creates
a minimum threshold that all other focus abilities need to try to exceed, and
you'll find that a surprising number of them struggle in the comparison.
    Of note, unlike what it appears, Mark of the Rift actually does repeated
"hits" instead of Blizzard-style ongoing damage.  This means that it triggers
on hit effects, including critical hits and triggering Static Cage's ugprade.



2.  FOCUSED TEAMWORK
Whenever your party triggers a combo, you gain bonus focus.
    Bonus focus:  ??

Analysis:  3/4
    You should be trying to trigger combos anyway, even if not explicitly at
least passively by having your party set up with incapacitators and detonators.
As a result, this will mean a boost to how often you can use your focus
abilities.  You may be able to find better uses for a skill point (namely,
something that actively contributes to a specific fight instead of helping you
prepare for a fight in the future), but this is a pretty solid, universally 
useful skill.
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
Party-building                                                            !par-
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Alright, with all the above out of the way, let's get down to it.  Here are
Chris's four commandments for effective parties in Dragon Age:  Inquisition:
    I.  Thou Shalt Always Have a Tank
    II. Thou Shalt Have Barrier
    III.Thou Shalt Maximize Cross-Class Combos
    IV. Thou Shalt Minimize Melee Exposure

I.  Thou Shalt Always Have a Tank
Only on the lowest difficulty can you really get away without having a tank,
and by tank I mean a warrior that has partially invested in the Vanguard tree
for both taunt purposes and guard generation.  Guard is so critically important
as a renewable health resource that not having a tank who can shrug off and
arbitrarily regenerate from party-wide damage significantly makes the game much
harder (without much gain).

II. Thou Shalt Have Barrier
For the same reason as commandment one, even if you have some sort of chronic
allergy to magic in RPGs, you really must put a mage in your party if only to
give them Barrier.  Barrier so significantly increases your party's
survivability that it's silly to go without someone who can use it.  Though you
may find you need to micromanage it a bit - the AI tends to prefer targetting
the most injured party member without paying attention to context.  In other
words, the AI would rather put a barrier on a ranged rogue who took some damage
but is now safe than the tank who's at full health but about to be clobbered
because their guard is gone and they have the focus of several angry enemies.
Similarly, given a choice between putting a barrier on one injured but
positionally safe ally and three allies clustered together, the AI will
generally prefer the former, even though the latter would be a better strategic
choice.

III.Thou Shalt Maximize Cross-Class Combos
You haven't really maximized your party's potential until you've become
systematic in how you use combos.  This means that each character should either
get a lot of incapacitating effects or a lot of disabling effects, save for
mages or the rare warrior/rogue builds that can easily do both.  In addition to
just being a good idea in general to load up on incapacitating effects, it
means that all your detonator abilities trigger free attacks all the time
(through the extra damage combos deal).  It also means more focus-based
abilities with the special Inquisitor ability.

IV. Thou Shalt Minimize Melee Exposure
A party of warriors, melee rogues, and a Knight-Enchanter may sound fun, but
suffers from a critical weakness:  enemies like Dragons or those equipped with
two-handed weapons.  That's because they possess the ability to attack everyone
in melee range with a swipe (though in fairness, you can also gain this ability
by equipping a warrior with a two-handed weapon or a rogue with a dual-blade
dagger).  This severely undermines a tank's ability to absorb party damage and
basically acts as a multiplier on the enemy's damage potential; if your party
as a whole is taking four times as much damage as normal because everyone is
being hit with a swipe of a claymore, you are going to be in bad shape very
quickly.  This can be extermely pernicious for long-running fights like a
Dragon, where you really need to be saving those Health Potions for when you
really need it, not because every non-tank keeps getting knocked to low health
every few seconds.  As such, I would limit melee exposure to your tank and one
other character if at all possible, and preferably one with good positional
abilities (like a Rogue with Stealth or Hook and Grapple) so that they can duck
out of a melee when the close-quarters heat becomes too intense.  A party with
a tank being the only melee exposure is in great shape, though you will need a
stronger reliance on crowd control abilities (Wall of Ice/Fire, Horror, Static
Cage, etc) in order to make sure enemies don't run past your tank and demolish
your squishies while War Cry is on cooldown.

Aside from the three hard-and-fast rules, some general other tidbits and ideas.
    - An artificer works very well in a party that is specced for high critical
      hit chance.  The artificer him/herself will have their abilities ready to
      use virtually all the time, while the rest of the party gains a
      significant damage boost form the artificer's And Take Them Down ability
      (+5% party-wide critical hit chance).
    - A rift mage works great in any party that has lots of close-quarter area
      of effect abilities (grenades included); Pull of the Abyss is a powerful
      way to magnify the power of all area of effect abilities, especially when
      upgraded.  Some ideas:  pulling enemies into a Fire Mine, an Ice Mine
      (followed by a near-global detonate by a Shield Bash), grenades, a
      warrior's Ring of Pain, into a Static Cage, grouped together for some
      Knockout Powder, etc.  It can also be used to augment your tank's
      defensive ability; War Cry or Challenge may be on cooldown, but you can
      use Pull of the Abyss to tug enemies away from squishies and towards the
      tank trying to chase them down.
    - As mentioned before, the Lightning Cage upgrade can be party-defining on
      its own.  Try experimenting with what classes work well with a cage mage;
      there are many trees across different classes that have multi-hit
      abilities that can be exploited.
    - Rogues with Subterfuge need less maintenance than other characters
      because they can drop enemy hate virtually at will (via Stealth), so you
      may want to put their AI potion threshold a little higher (and their
      health threshold lower), so they're not stealing potions away from
      someone who cannot or should not drop enemy hate (like your tank).
    - For multi-mage parties, make sure you diversify your elements, not just
      across your skill trees but also your staffs, otherwise you may find
      yourself in a fight that is much, much harder than normal because you
      made two mages inferno tree and gave them fire staffs against fire
      resistant enemies.  The only exception to this rule is when you *know*
      some big fight with a specific vulnerability, at which point load up on
      the right elemental staff and elemental tree (such as the Dragon
      Hivernal, who is fire vulnerable).
        Pedantic note:  the reason why diversification is a good idea (as
      opposed to just taking resistances in stride) is because by definition, a
      game generally *expects* you to win most normal fights (that's why in
      MMORPG parlance they're called "trash mobs").  Giving all your mages a
      narrow elemental portfolio will serve you well for most trash fights, but
      unnecessarily creates the downside risk that you'll come across a fight
      that essentially negates half your party (if you have two mages).
      There's no point to this; diversify and you'll sail through all fights.
      The only reason why a narrow elemental portfolio is recommended for
      specific fights like Dragons is that not only can you predict certain
      major fights, but because you are *not* generally expected to win these
      fights (the Dragons are intended to be hard, and not everyone will have
      the patience or skill to take them down, especially on higher
      difficulties).  Therefore, since you have a known variable (a potential
      vulnerability) and know that the game designers actively created a hard
      challenge for you, only then should you specialize and go all in on a
      specific element.
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
Inquisition Perks                                                         !inq-

While not directly impacting your party, the decisions you make in your
inquisiton perks can have lasting effects into how you are able to play the
game.  Instead of rating them on a scale like abilities, I make a binary "worth
it" or "not worth it" recommendation.  In an average play through you may get
twelve perks (around a level 13 Influence).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Forces                                                                !inq,for-

Synopsis:  probably the strongest overall category to go down, offering direct
combat advantages to your party in many ways, the most notable being able to
access higher focus tiers.


UNDERWORLD KNOWLEDGE
New dialogue options related to criminal activities (looks like a Crow in the
dialogue menu) and grants +25 experience to every Codex entry unlocked (base
50 experience).

Analysis:  worth it earlier on, not worth it later
    When you need it to unlock further perks down the category and when it's
early in the game that +25 experience can be huge (especially right about the
time Val Royeaux first crops up, with its myriad of plaques).  Later on
however, if you've gotten points in Forces in other ways (via Agents), you can
pass on this.  I also don't recall many dialogue options unlocked by this.



MASSACHE'S METHOD
Grants +5% experience from killing foes.

Analysis:  not worth it
    +5% early on is virtually a rounding error, and later on (if you've found
Agents to give you points in this tree) is a huge opportunity cost compared to
better choices.



RIDER'S POSTURE (requires 2 points in category)
Significant increase in ability to not be knocked off a horse

Analysis:  not worth it
    I generally don't make too heavy use of mounts until I'm trying to run
through low-level areas quickly or I'm trying to cross the expanse of some
specific areas (Hissing Wastes mostly, but also Forbidden Oasis and Exalted
Plains).



ANTIVAN-STITCHED SADDLE (requires Rider's Posture)
Further increase in ability to not be knocked off a horse

Analysis:  not worth it
    See Rider's Posture.



ADVANCED FOCUS (requires 4 points in category)
Increases maximum Focus to 200, unlocking tier 2 focus abilities.

Analysis:  worth it
    In most cases, tier 2 is just a linear increase in power from tier 1 so at
first blush it doesn't seem that much of an upgrade, but you'll generally not
be using your focus abilities at every turn, so this lets you build up more
power in those stretches of trash mobs where you don't need the ability.
    Note:  there is a BUG where if a character gets knocked out while building
up to tier 2, they will fall back to tier 1 and be unable to accumulate more
focus until they use their focus ability.  So be careful with your characters.



MASTER FOCUS (requires Advanced Focus)
Increases maximum Focus to 300, unlocking tier 3 focus abilities.

Analysis:  worth it
    Tier 3 abilities tend to be non-linearly better than tier 2 abilities, so
this is generally a great upgrade.
    Do note that depending on what focus abilities you use, you may not get so
much benefit from getting all the way to Master Focus; some focus abilities are
good enough at Tier 1.  For example, if all you use are Rally, Resurgeance,
Counterstrike or e.g. Mark of the Rift, you may never need more than Tier 1
since all of these abilities are perfectly servicable at Tier 1 and may even be
redundantly "win-more" at higher tiers (namely Resurgeance or Counterstrike).
This is worthy to note here since at least with Advanced Focus you will let you
accumulate "overflow" focus when you max out Tier 1 so you can get to Tier 1
again much faster, but with Master Focus you may end up just wasting an
inquisition perk on unnecessary focus accumulation.
    Note:  there is a BUG where if a character gets knocked out while building
up to tier 2/3, they will fall back to the tier 1 and be unable to accumulate
more focus until they use their focus ability.  So be careful with your
characters.



TRUE GRIT (requires capturing any keep)
Party gains a +10% (additive) increase to all defenses.

Analysis:  worth it
    Due to the increasing returns of defenses, this can be huge for someone
already geared up to have defenses.  As of patch 1.06 this has been fixed so it
now actually affects your party instead of just the inquisitor.



MORE HEALING POTIONS (requires 3 points in category)
Increases Healing Potion capacity by 4 to 12.

Analysis:  worth it
    Um, yes?



MAGE SCHEMATICS,ROGUE SCHEMATICS,WARRIOR SCHEMATICS (requires 4 points in
    category)
Grants some rare schematics for the respective class's weapons and armor.

Analysis:  worth it early on, not worth it past level 14 or so
    Schematics are a much better deal than the raw ingredients you get in other
categories for the same reason there's the expression "give a man a fish, and
he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for the rest of his
life."  The schematics you get are really good if you can get them early on,
but get outclassed later in the game by stuff you find.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Secrets                                                               !inq,sec-

Synopsis:  most people will be plowing through herbs so the herb-related perks
can be helpful; one other perk here is notable in that some quests cannot be
completed without it.


ARCANE KNOWLEDGE
New dialogue options related to the fade, and you gain +25 experience per Codex
entry unlocked (base 50).

Analysis:  worth it earlier on, not worth it later
    When you need it to unlock further perks down the category and when it's
early in the game that +25 experience can be huge (especially right about the
time Val Royeaux first crops up, with its myriad of plaques).  Later on
however, if you've gotten points in Secrets in other ways (via Agents), you can
pass on this.  I also don't recall many dialogue options unlocked by this.



OPTIMAL CUTTING
Every time you pick an herb, you have a 10% chance of getting 1 to 9
additional herbs

Analysis:  worth it
    Will make it a lot easier to maintain your potion supplies, including
upgrades.  The 10% proc chance means that the bonus will mostly kick in for
herbs you'll be regularly picking, but regardless in the long run this equates
to a roughly 45% increase in the total herbs you have at your disposal, which
is pretty massive.



EAGLE-EYED
Grants a significant increase to search discovery radius

Analysis:  worth it
    Less likely to miss stuff just because you ran by too quickly.



ENHANCED STUDIES (requires 2 points in category)
Grants an additional +50% experience for every foe studied, including ones
already studied.

Analysis:  not worth it
    Meh, I don't see the merit in devoting points into this category just so
you can gain slightly more experience than you have now; you should have no
problem in the normal course of the game of hitting the effective level cap.



DEFT HANDS, DEFT TOOLS (requires 4 points in category)
Lets your rogues unlock locks that require this perk.

Analysis:  worth it
    There are some good treasure behind those damned doors (that show up as
locks on the map), and several quests (like Blackwall's or the Mosaic
collection quests) cannot be completed without having this perk in tow.



FORWARD SCOUTS (requires capturing any keep)
Lets you see landmarks and quarries and logging stands on your map.

Analysis:  worth it, not worth it if you just like to google things
    Will save you a lot of headaches when trying to find those damn quarries
and logging stands, but if you have no ethical compunction against just looking
up their locations on the internet, then skip this.



TRAINEE/VETERAN/MASTER HERBALISTS (Veteran/Master requires the previous)
Grants you a collection of tier 1, 2, or 3 common/rare herbs, respectively.

Analysis:  worth it
    Translates into a lot of extra potions and the rare herbs mean you can
upgrade your potions sooner, which translates into a direct power boost.
However, there's no point in getting to Master too quickly, as you may end up
upgrading your potions past the point of being able to actually replenish them
reliably (because now they use an herb that you don't have easy access to yet).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Connections                                                           !inq,con-

Synopsis:  the weakest category; money is rarely an issue in most RPGs except,
ironically, when trying to buy some of the stuff this unlocks, at which point
you will never have nearly enough.  The crafting ingredients this is linked
with are a lot less handy to have than herbs or schematics since metal,
cloth, and leather are much easier to come by (i.e. just kill things).


NOBILITY KNOWLEDGE
New dialogue options related to nobility, and you gain +25 experience per Codex
entry unlocked (base 50).

Analysis:  worth it earlier on, not worth it later
    When you need it to unlock further perks down the category and when it's
early in the game that +25 experience can be huge (especially right about the
time Val Royeaux first crops up, with its myriad of plaques).  Later on
however, if you've gotten points in Connections in other ways (via Agents), you
can pass on this.  You do get a few notable dialogue options to recruit Agents,
so there's that.



STERLING REPUTATION
Increases sales prices by 10%

Analysis:  not worth it
    10% even over the course of the game is not going to make that much of a
difference; you'll either be swimming in cash or starved for it, it doesn't
help you get from the latter to the former.  It also sucks that for much of the
game, the items you sell are of such low value that 10% is a rounding error (in
the early parts of the game a lot of your money just comes from looting it
directly, not sales).



A FAVOR FOR A FAVOR
Decreases purchase prices by 10%

Analysis:  worth it (begrudgingly)
    There are some really expensive items out there (on the order of tens of
thousands of gold), so this can be a much better value proposition than
Sterling Reputation.  The earlier you get this the better; the savings add up
over time.



ELITE CLIENTELE (requires Sterling Reputation & A Favor for a Favor)
Shops offer to buy and sell for 15% better prices

Analysis:  worth it (begrudglingly)
    The only way to get much use out of The Short List.  This may pay for
itself because it brings those really expensive Influence-generating
treaties you can buy into affordable territory, which may result in more
inquisition perks over the course of the game than playing without this.



THE RARE STOCKS/EXACTING BUYERS/ONLY THE FINEST (Exacting Buyers/Only The
    Finest require the previous)
Immediately grants you a collection of common/rare tier 1, 2, and 3 crafting
materials, respectively (includes metals, cloth, and leather).

Analysis:  not worth it
    Crafting requires a lot more ingredients than making potions, so this gets
you much less than the herbal equivalent in the Secrets category.  Plus, the
*real* star of crafting are the masterwork ("Fade-touched") versions of the
metals/cloth/leather, and you can only get those from repeatedly farming them
off enemies/ore veins, which means you'll have plenty of these crafting
materials anyway.



THE SHORT LIST (requires 5 points in category)
Unlocks extra, expensive items in many stores

Analysis:  not worth it, unless you also have Elite Clientele
    This unlocks a lot of items you probably can't afford (unless you haven't
been blowing a lot of cash trying to keep your potion levels stable, boosting
your influence, or buying high-end schematics).



FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES (requires any keep to be captured)
Merchants will notify the Inquisitor of any sales.

Analysis:  not worth it (BUGGED?)
    I got this and have never been notified of said sales.  So... yeah.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Inquisition                                                           !inq,inq-

Synopsis:  has a few useless abilities, but two potentially great ones


HISTORY KNOWLEDGE
New dialogue options related to the Chantry, and you gain +25 experience per
Codex entry unlocked (base 50).

Analysis:  worth it earlier on, not worth it later
    When you need it to unlock further perks down the category and when it's
early in the game that +25 experience can be huge (especially right about the
time Val Royeaux first crops up, with its myriad of plaques).



ANTIVAN TAILORING
Increases inventory space by 15.

Analysis:  not worth it
    What kind of person runs out of inventory space from the default 60?  You
should be heading back to Haven/Skyhold at regular intervals anyway just to
do new operations or talk with companions to unlock quests/romances.  The only
time I've ever run out of space is during Wicked Eyes, Wicked Hearts, since
you literally can't leave until you finish.



IMPERIAL COURT TAILORING (requires Antivan Tailoring)
Increases inventory space by 15.

Analysis:  not worth it
    For the same reason as Antivan Tailoring.



TEMPERED GLASS FLASKS
Adds one more potion slot for party members.

Analysis:  worth it
    Greatly increases party flexibility: gives your party much more power and
survivability.  The only downside (if you can call it that) is that you'll be
blowing through herbs a lot faster.



EXCLUSIVE TRAINING (requires 4 points in category)
Grants one ability point to the Inquisitor.

Analysis:  worth it
    Great for non-human Inquisitors.  With a human, you start running the risk
of running into the "ability cap," but however you slice it it's hard to turn
down a free ability point.  The only problem is that to get here you may end up
needing to "waste" a point in one of the crappy inventory-space perks.
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
Potions and Upgrades                                                      !pot-

Note that every potion has an "ultimate" upgrade that provides the potion some
new functionality instead of just upgrading existing functionality.  These
"ultimate" upgrades also generally end up increasing the cost to replenish the
potion by adding an additional herb requirement.

To make this section less cluttered and hopefully a bit more readable, I
abbreviate herb names as follows:
    Tier 1 Herbs            Tier 2 Herbs            Tier 3 Herbs
    Ba  Black Lotus*        De  Deathroot           AB  Arbor Blessing
    Bo  Blood Lotus         DM  Deep Mushroom       AV  Amrita Vein*
    CG  Crystal Grace+      Em  Embrium             Fe  Felandaris*
    DL  Dawn Lotus*         GB  Ghoul's Beard*      VA  Vandal Aria
    Dr  Dragonthorn*        PL  Prophet's Laurel*
    El  Elfroot             Ra  Rashvine
    RE  Royal Elfroot*      RN  Rashvine Nettle*
    Sp  Spindleweed
    Wi  Witherstalk*

    * Indicates rare herbs
    + Crystal Grace is a rare herb, but in the herb garden shows up in the
    "common" herb section.

Moreover, I'll say this now just to avoid saying this repeatedly later, but all
upgrades marked "II" require the "I" version in addition to the herbs.  All
ultimates require one of the II-level upgrades as a prerequisite as well.

Because upgrades for potions are not either/or decisions (just a matter of
time), I mark good upgrades as "priority."  On the other hand, the actual
potions themselves *are* either/or decisions (since they each use a finite
number of available potion slots), so I use a similar scale to abilities as
follows:
    4/4 - Amazing; someone should have this if at all possible.
    3/4 - Decent, can't go wrong with it.
    2/4 - Flawed, only use it if you are expecting to use it or you have the
        extra space to spare.
    1/4 - Bad, wasted space
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Actual" Potions                                                      !pot,act-

I say "actual" potions because for purposes of times when the game references
potions for equipment or abilities, this is what they mean.

Table of "actual" potions, replenish costs, upgrades, and upgrade costs:
    Legend:
        !   prioritize getting this ugprade
        +   an ultimate upgrade
        ()  extra replenish cost per ultimate upgrade
        []  total effect post-upgrade

    Healing
            Heals 385 health.
        Inc. Heal I     29 El, 1 DL             +50 healing [435 health]
        Inc. Heal II    34 Em, 5 PL             +67 healing [502 health]

    Regeneration    1 El (+1 Ra)
            Heals 26 per 2s for 60s.
        Inc. Dur I      18 El, 1 RE             +8s duration [68s]
        Inc. Dur II     11 Ra, 11 DM, 2 PL      +10s duration [78s]
       !Inc. Heal I     18 El, 1 RE             +3 healing [29/2seconds]
       !Inc. Heal II    11 Ra, 11 DM, 2 PL      +4 healing [33/2seconds]
       +Lifeward        9 Em, 18 AB, 2 AV       Double healing at <25% health.
       +Proximity       9 Em, 18 AB, 2 AV       Adds 3m area.

    Lyrium          1 El [+1 DM]
            Increases magic by 30 for 20s.
       !Inc. Mana I     18 El, 1 Ba             +25 cur/max mana
        Inc. Mana II    11 Em, 11 De, 2 RN      +25 cur/max mana [+50 mana]
        Inc. Dur        9 Em, 18 AB, 2 AV       +20s duration [40s]
       +Inc. Magic      9 Em, 18 AB, 2 AV       +30 magic [+60 magic]

HEALING POTION

Analysis:  4/4, obviously
    You have no choice in not using it, but that's fine since this is your
bread and butter.  Prioritize upgrading this above all other potions, tonics,
and grenades.



REGENERATION POTION

Analysis:  3/4, 4/4 with Proximity Heal
    On its own this is a nice supplemental heal that any party member can
enjoy.  However, with Proximity Heal, a single party member can be a medic,
providing a healing reserve that can keep the entire party at full health,
even through brutal boss/dragon fights.  Best used on someone who won't mind
moving around a lot to position near other party members, so probably not
a tank and hopefully a character with ranged attacks for maximum flexibility.
A tempest rogue gets a double benefit since they can be the medic and also
gain a damage buff (due to one of their abilities proccing off of potion use).
    Note that regeneration potions have two ultimate upgrades; each increases
the replenish cost, so this could be a very expensive drain on your Rashvine
reserves if you don't properly plan for this eventuality.



LYRIUM POTION

Analysis:  1/4, 2/4 with a mana bonus for a mage
    The magic boost will mean only a barrier damage bonus to anyone who is not
a mage, which is not terribly useful since barrier can be easily dealt with by
dispel effects and anyway wasting a potion to be rid of a repeatable barrier
is not a great idea.
    With the mana upgrade, a Lyrium Potion becomes a quick boost in spell
capability for a mage.  It can mean potentially powerful openers that can be
decisive for a battle, it can also mean being able to use a crucial ability in
the nick of time (like a Revive).  The damage boost itself for a mage is nice
(at most 15% base, 30% with upgrade, but with diminishing returns the higher
your base attack already is), but is short without the upgrade.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tonics                                                                !pot,ton-

Table of tonics, replenish costs, upgrades, and upgrade costs:
    Legend:
        !   prioritize getting this ugprade
        +   an ultimate upgrade
        ()  extra replenish cost per ultimate upgrade
        []  total effect post-upgrade

    Fire Resist     1 Sp (+1 Ra)
    Cold Resist     2 Sp (+2 Ra) [BUGGY COST?]
    Elec Resist     1 Sp (+1 Ra)
    Spirit Resist   1 Sp (+1 Sp)
            Increases resistance by 40% (additive) for 60s.
        Inc. Dur I      5 Sp, 1 CG/Wi/DL/Dr     +30s duration [90s]
        Inc. Dur II     5 Ra                    +30s duration [120s]
        Inc. Potency I  5 Sp, 1 CG/Wi/DL/Dr     +10% resist [50%]
        Inc. Potency II 5 Ra                    +10% resist [60%]
       +Proximity       5 AV, 1 Fe              Adds 3m area.

    Mighty Offense  1 El (+1 Em)
            +13 base weapon damage for 20s.  Warriors only.  Note that any of
                  the "Bonus v" upgrades can alo be used to fulfill the prereq
                  for the ultimate.
       !Inc. Damage I   18 El, 1 DL             +26 damage [+39 weapon]
       !Inc. Damage II  11 Em, 11 DM, 2 RN      +19 damage [+58 weapon]
        Bonus v Guard   11 Em, 11 DM, 2 RN      +50% damage bonus v guard
        Bonus v Barrier 11 Em, 11 DM, 2 RN      +50% damage bonus v barrier
       +Crit Bonus      9 DM, 18 AB, 2AV        +100% critical damage

    Rock Armor      1 El (+1 Ra)
            +12 front/rear armor rating for 30s.
        Inc. Dur I      18 El, 1 CG             +30s duration [60s]
        Inc. Dur II     11 Ra, 11 Em, 2 RN      +30s duration [90s]
       !Imp. Potency I  18 El, 1 CG             +11 armor [+23 armor]
       !Imp. Potency II 11 Ra, 11 Em, 2 RN      +12 armor [+35 armor]
       +Stun            9 Ra, 20 VA             50% chance for 2s stun on hit

    Tears o' Dead   1 Bo (+1 De)
            Next 3 hits within 10s poison for 44/second for 15s.
        Inc. Dur I      23 Bo, 1 Dr             +5s duration [20s]
        Inc. Dur II     14 De, 14 DM, 2 RN      +5s duration [25s]
       !Inc. Damage I   23 Bo, 1 Dr             +37 damage [81 damage/s]
       !Inc. Damage II  14 De, 14 DM, 2 RN      +67 damage [148 damage/s]
       +Enhanced Pot.   11 De, 22 AB, 2 AV      Instead 5 hits within 15s.

FIRE RESISTANCE TONIC
COLD RESISTANCE TONIC
ELECTRIC RESISTANCE TONIC
SPIRIT RESISTANCE TONIC

Analysis:  1/4, 2/4 with Proximity Resistance
    Never really worth stocking up on a regular basis except for perhaps the
Spirit Resistance Tonic because of those damned Fear Demons who can pepper even
a high-health warrior to death very quickly, even through guard and barrier.
But even then, it's not worth using up your one spare potion slot (though maybe
you can spare the secondary one if you have the inquisition perk) unless you
get Proximity Resistance, which bestows resistance to *everyone* nearby, which
is a much more efficient way to use these potions.
    These potions also have a specific use in specific dragon fights, who tend
to adhere to a specific element.  Depending on how you plan on using these
potions you should prioritize different things; if you just plan on having a
couple on hand for aforementioned Fear Demons (and maybe Pride Demons) then
potency is more important since those fights will rarely last more than 60s.
If you plan on using them against dragons, then prioritize duration, since
those fights last a long time and you really want to be able to get the most
efficiency out of your limited potion supply.



MIGHTY OFFENSE TONIC

Analysis:  3/4
    Best used against high-armor foes, as the net relative damage boost can be
massive.  Since armor rating is taken into account before ability multipliers,
this can be a significant boost in your warrior's overall DPS.  The specific
damage boosts aren't terribly useful, especially the barrier damage bonus one
(dispels are much better than wasting a potion).  The damage bonus against
guard can make situational potion use against Pride Demons and specific dragons
quite handy.



ROCK ARMOR TONIC

Analysis:  2/4 for tanks, 3/4 for everyone else
    Ironically not as great for tanks, since you probably already have enough
armor and abilities to reduce most basic attack damage to 1 if you're doing
everything correctly (and the armor boost won't necessarily save you against
massive single-swipe hits).  It can be *very* important in saving the skins of
your squishier characters (or even non-tank warriors), as the armor boost
(especially if you've been keeping your characters properly geared) can be a
huge reduction in net damage, especially against those damned templar rogues.
    The duration bonuses aren't as good as the straight up armor rating 
bonuses, since chances are you are drinking the potion to deal with a very
immediate threat and hopefully you should have that dealt with in the initial
30s duration you get out of the potion.  Longer durations are only useful if
someone in your party isn't pulling their weight (i.e. a tank or a mage with
crowd control).



TEARS OF THE DEAD

Analysis:  2/4
    To really get the most out of this, you need to hit three separate targets
since the poison effect--to the best of my knowledge--does not stack (only
poisons of different variety stack, not repeated poisons of the same type).
Even then, you'll need the damage upgrades to really make the pain felt, and
even then this will be best against targets with high health and high armor,
both so that the poison has a chance to last long enough to do reach its
damage potential and also so that you're properly diversifying the rogue's
damage capability.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Grenades                                                              !pot,gre-

Quick meta-analysis:  the different grenades offer you different scaling
potential (i.e. how good is a grenade at level 1 versus how good is it at level
20?).  Antivan Fire and Jar of Bees do a fixed amount of damage, and are
therefore very good early on but get worse as enemy health grows.  Confusion
relies on your enemies fighting each other, so scale directly with enemey
strength.  Pitch grenades amplify your own damage (while diminishing the enemy)
so scales directly with your _own_ strength (with a limited amount of scaling
with the enemy's strength).  So when you're thinking about what grenades to
invest in, consider too what kind of advantages you need and when; for example
Pitch may pay off more in the long run, but Antivan Fire will be more
immediately useful.
    Do note that in the late, late game, with decent equipment, your characters
will be so powerful that you generally won't even need to bother with grenades,
so even Pitch (which theoretically scales directly with your power and should
never have diminishing returns) will nonetheless run out of use.

Table of grenades, replenish costs, upgrades, and upgrade costs:
    Legend:
        !   prioritize getting this ugprade
        +   an ultimate upgrade
        ()  extra replenish cost per ultimate upgrade
        ()  total effect post-upgrade

    Pitch           1 Bo (+1 De)
            "Oozes" ~4m area for 60s; "oozed" enemies slowed by 50%.
        Inc. Dur I      16 Bo, 1 CG, 1 Bo       +30s duration [90s]
        Inc. Dur II     9 Ra, 9 De, 1 GB        +30s duration [120s]
       !Debilitate I    16 Bo, 1 CG, 1 Bo       "Oozed" +25% taken, -25% dealt.
       !Debilitate II   9 Ra, 9 Re, 1 GB        "Oozed" +25%, -25%. [+50%/-50%]
      !+Immobilize      5 AV, 1 Fe              Initial hit stuns for 10s.

    Confusion       1 Bo (+1 De)
            Enemies within ~4m of hit fight for you for 20s.
        Inc. Dur I      27 Bo, 1 BL, 1 Wi       +10s duration [30s]
        Inc. Dur II     16 Em, 16 De, 2 GB      +10s duration [40s]
        Rage I          27 Bo, 1 BL, 1 Wi       "Confused" +25% dealt.
        Rage II         16 Em, 16 De, 2 GB      "Confused" +25% dealt [+50%].
       +Mind Wreck      14 AB, 14 VA, 3 Fe      635 spirit damage at end.

    Antivan Fire    1 Bo (+1 Ra)
            Enflames ~10m area for 30s, deals 46 fire damage/s.
       !Inc. Dam I      22 Bo, 1 DL, 1 Dr       +42 damage [86 fire/s]
       !Inc. Dam II     13 Ra, 13 DM, 1 GB      +76 damage [142 fire/s]
        Inc. Dur I      22 Bo, 1 DL, 1 Dr       +30s duration [60s]
        Inc. Dur II     13 Ra, 13 DM, 1 GB      +30s duration [90s]
       +Shockwave       22 VA, 11 Ra, 2 Fe      Initial hit stuns for 5s.

    Healing Mist    1 Sp (+1 Em)
            Heals for 289 in ~ 4m
        Inc. Heal I     20 Sp, 1 RE, 1 DL       +38 healing [327 health]
        Inc. Heal II    10 Ra, 10 Em, 2 PL      +50 healing [377 health]
        Healing Mist    10 Em, 20 VA, 2 Fe      Mist also revives.

    Jar of Bees     1 Bo (+1 Ra)
            Creates a ~3m mine; when activated, an enemy takes 163 damage/s and
            has a 10% chance/s to be panicked for 15s.
        Inc. Panic I    25 Bo, 1 D              +10% panic [20%/s]
        Inc. Panic II   15 Em, 15 DM, 2 GB      +10% panic [30%/s]
        Inc. Dur I      25 Bo, 1 D              +5s duration [20s]
        Inc. Dur II     11 Ra, 11 Em, 2 RN      +5s duration [25s]
       +...& Wasps!     13 DM, 25 VA, 3 Fe      Instead affects two enemies.

PITCH GRENADE

Analysis:  1/4, 2/4 with Debilitate I or II, 3/4 with Immobilize
    Wasting a precious potion slot just to slow enemies is not a good idea.
However, this grenade gets much better with each upgrade.  Debilititate
decreases damage dealt by "oozed" enemies by 25% while simultaneously
increasing damage they take by 25% (Debilitate II doubles these numbers).  This
is some serious combat advantage, especially the way the math works out where
the increased damage is less prone to diminishing returns (since it's
implemented differently than the way party buffs are).  With Immobilize, this
is a _very_ nice grenade, as a 10s stun is almost long enough to let you wipe
out weaker enemies with out taking a scrach (and you can always detonate it
near the end for an extra shot of damage).
     Do note that to benefit from this grenade, the enemy must actually have the
status effect "oozed," and some enemies are immune to it (generally ones immune
to physical effects or too big for the area of effect).



CONFUSION GRENADE

Analysis:  3/4
    A very good grenade, able to take the worst of fights and turn them into
trivial encounters so long as you have good aim.  The only problem is that
if you're in a fight outside your bounds, you still have to fight the enemies
when the potion wears off (though the Mind Wreck upgrade helps with that).



ANTIVAN FIRE GRENADE

Analysis:  3/4, 4/4 with Shockwave upgrade
    Great straight-up damage. The only trouble is that very few fights will
last upwards of 90s, and those that do tend to be fairly mobile, so to get
the most bang out of your buck focus on the damage upgrades first, especially
since the returns are *huge* at first (going from 23 to 66 damage/second is
almost a whopping 200% increase).  The shockwave upgrade is also great because
not only does it provide wide crowd-control (and combo potential) but
guarantees up to 5s of fire damage.



HEALING MIST
Analysis:  2/4, 3/4 with Healing Mist upgrade
    Radius is limited so your party members will have to be fairly close by.
Really though, Regenerating Potions have greater versatility, can also affect
an area (more flexibly), and use a really easy-to-find herb (Elfroot).
    With the Healing Mist upgrade this grenade becomes much better, as now you
have a healing potion that can also do insta-revives, which can be great in
situations where a party member has fallen next to a dangerous foe.



JAR OF BEES

Analysis:  2/4
    Jar of Bees does reasonable single-target damage (though eventually gets
heavily outclassed by Antivan Fire after it's been upgraded a bit), but also
has a panic chance that can be useful as crowd control since the damage done
by Jar of Bees won't break its own panic.
    When prioritizing upgrades, you should evaluate whether you care about
a higher chance of panic or more total damage; panic chance upgrades will
increase the chance that you'll send your target off on a scared run, while
the duration upgrades will mostly affect the damage done (and only slightly
increasing panic chance).
    For more specific numbers, I ran a test of 2,000 runs under the varying
conditions possible.  The two numbers you see in the cells of the following
table is first the approximate average time before the enemey begins to panic,
and second the chance that the enemy is never panicked during the entire
Jars of Bee duration.
                10% panic           20% panic           30% panic
    10s         4.3s/38%            3.5s/14%            3s/4%
    15s         5.8s/22%            4.3s/4%             3.2s/.6%
    20s         7.1s/13%            4.8s/1%             3.4s/<.1%
As you can see, increasing the panic chance has a more immediate, direct
effect on the chance of getting an enemy panicked, both in a significantly
reduced mean time before panic and a significantly reduced chance that an enemy
is not panicked at all.  Increasing duration primarily increases the panic
chance by reducing the chance of complete failure to panic (as evidenced by an
increase in the mean time before panic), so you should only prioritize this
path if you're interested in damage.  Notably, just upgrading to 20% panic
chance significantly reduces the chance of complete failure (which makes sense
since the jump to 20% is a bigger relative change than the jump to 30%).
Though do note that a a higher panic chance also bestows the possibility that
you can beat on an enemy who is swarmed and they may get re-panicked again.
    Anyway, the upshot is that this grenade is best used to knock tough foes
out of the fight for a while, but to really accomplish that you need at least
the 20% panic chance upgrade and possibly the first duration upgrade, just
to increase the certainty that you panic someone and that they stay out of the
fight for a while.
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
Masterwork Crafting                                                       !mas-
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Masterwork crafting items, available after you unlock Skyhold, have the
potential to impact your party-building quite a bit.  As a result, it behooves
discussing what masterwork items work well in certain situations.

As a bit of background:  masterwork crafting items are "fade-touched" versions
of normal crafting ingredients.  The only way to obtain them is to farm
crafting ingredients; whenever you mine metal, harvest leather from a beast,
or harvest cloth from a humanoid, there is a small chance that you also get
a fade-touched version of the item.  So if you want a specific fade-touched
item, find a place where you encounter enemies who drop it and just keep
killing them, travelling back to a camp to "reset" the area if needed.

The following is a table of known masterwork item effects, followed by what
fade-touched version of a common material they appear on.  Some masterwork
effects can appear on multiple types of fade-touched items.  Some fade-touched
items can have different possible types of effects (it is random which effect
you get when you find the fade-touched item).  Moreover, the same masterwork
effect on different items can have different "strength" levels based on what
tier the underlying crafting item is (higher tier items have stronger effects).

There are a bit too many masterwork effects to discuss all individually, so
in the table I list a footnote number to reference if it's worth discussing.
I rate these on a focus-ability-like sale of "meh," "good," and "amazing."
Assume that masterwork effects I do not explicitly call out are generally
"good."

Effects and their sources:
    Legend:
        * a special quest-related item, not normally available
        [] the value for x in the ability
        ~x~ see footnote x

EFFECTS THAT PASSIVELY BOOST DAMAGE/FOCUS
~1~ Berserk: +x% damage, but take +y% damage from all sources
        Dragonling Scales, Serpentstone [10, 100]; Veridium [20, 200];
        Stormheart [30, 300]
~2~ Damage +x% if not hit for 5s
        Canine Leather [10]; Phoenix Scales [20]; Varghest Scales [30]
    Damage +x% for each enemy within 8m
        Summer Stone [5]; Bloodstone, Pyrophite [7.5]
    Focus gain +x% for each enemy within 8m
        Samite [5]; Darkened Samite, Everknit Wool, Plush Fustian Velvet [7.5];
        Vyrantium Samite, Volcanic Aurum [10]
    Focus gain +30%
        Dales Loden Wool

EFFECTS THAT PASSIVELY BOOST MANA/STAMINA
~3~ Abilities cost x% less mana/stamina
        Ram Leather [5]; August Ram Fur, Ring Velvet [7.5]
~3~ Abilities cost x% less mana/stamina if not hit for 5s
        Silk [10]; Silk Brocade [15]; Royal Sea Silk [20]
~3~ Stamina +x
        Blue Vitriol, Bronto Hide, Drakestone,  Druffalo Hide [10];
        Bear Hide, Lazurite [15]; Great Bear Hide [20]

MISCELLANEOUS PASSIVE BOOSTS
~4~ Critical crafting chance of x% (item has 10% multiplicative bonus to all
            its stats: damage/armor rating, any stat boosts, etc)
        Ironbark* [20]; Great Bear Claws* [30];
        Dragon's Tooth, White Wyvern Hide*, Heartwood* [40];
        Essence of Perfection [100]
    Enter stealth when not attacking in combat
        Halla Leather
    Move x% faster when in stealth
        Fennec Fur, Nugskin [25]; Gurgut Skin [50]; Craggy Skin [75]
~5~ Take only 1 damage from all attacks but health is reduced to 12
        Gurn Hide, Quillback Leather

EFFECTS THAT TRIGGER AN ABILITY ON HIT
    Caltrops (10% chance, x% weapon damage/second)
        Lambswool [30]; Everknit Wool [50]; Dales Loden Wool [70]
    Chain Lightning (10% chance, 4 hits at x% weapon damage)
        Onyx [50]; Obsidian [75]; Silverite [100]
    Fade Cloak
        Silk [2%], Silk Brocade [5%]; Goldan Halla Hide*, Royal Sea Silk [10%]
    Hidden Blades (10% chance, x hits)
        Ring Velvet [4]; Plush Fustian Velvet [5]
    Horn of Valor (10% chance, x seconds)
        Ram Leather, August Ram Fur [5s]; Snoufleur Skin [12s]
    Immolate (10% chance, x% weapon damage)
        Dragonling Scales [50]; Phoenix Scales [75]; Varghest Scales [75/100]
    Mind Blast
        Samite [2%], Darkened Samite [5%]; Vyrantium Samite [10%]
    Pull of the Abyss
        Nevarrite [??]
    Shield Bash
        Serpentstone [2%]; Veridium [5%]; Stormheart [10%]
    Unbowed
        Iron, Summerstone [2%]; Bloodstone, Pyrophite [5%]; Volcanic Aurum [10%]
    Walking Bomb (10% chance, 5s duration, x% weapon damage explosion)
        Lustrous Cotton [75]; Imperial Vestment Cotton [100]
    Walking Fortress (10% chance, x seconds)
        Dawnstone, Paragon's Luster [3s]; Everite [3s/5s]
    Veilstrike
        Nugskin [2]; Rough Hide [5]; Craggy Skin, Lurker Scales [10]

EFFECTS THAT TRIGGER A NON-ABILITY EFFECT ON A HIT
~6~ Gain guard
        Onyx [2]; Obsidian [3]; Silverite [5]
~6~ Heal for 1% of max health
        Snoufleur Skin
    Panic
        Deepstalker Hide [2%]; Wyvern Scales [10%]
    Poison
        Deepstalker Hide [5%]; Rough Hide [10%]; Wyvern Scales [15%]

EFFECTS THAT TRIGGER ON BEING HIT/DYING
    Heal x% of damage taken over 10 seconds
        Iron [15]; Paragon's Luster [20]; Dawnstone, Everite [25]
    On dying: x% chance to instead heal for half health
        Lustrous Cotton [10]; Imperial Vestment Cotton [15]

EFFECTS THAT TRIGGER ON A KILLING BLOW
~7~ +x to magic for 10s
        Plaidweave [10]; Highever Weave [20]; King's Willow Weave [30]
    Gain x stamina
        Bronto Hide [20]; Bear Hide [35]; Great Bear hide [50]
    Target explodes for 75% weapon damage
        Nevarrite

FOOTNOTES
1.  Berserk
Analysis:  meh
    On lower difficulties you might be able to get away with this, but on
Hard or Nightmare on baically anyone it's suicide.  You may think you have
a character who hardly gets hit, but what you may not realize is that they
*do* get hit periodically, they just are able to shrug it off.  With even just
the basic Berserk (+100% damage from other sources), you'll find that 
incidental damage you used to be able to just shrug off will instead become
potentially lethal.  I'd stay away.

2.  Damage bonus if not hit within 5s
Analysis:  good for ranged, meh for melee
    Good to use for ranged characters; melee characters, even if good at
managing threat, will still take incidental damage quite a bit, so those
characters are better off with a differnet masterwork.

3.  Abilities cost less mana/stamina (if not hit within 5s); or increased
        Stamina
Analysis:  amazing for mages at 7.5% mana reduction; amazing for ranged mages
        at 10% mana reduction and higher; amazing for warriors/rogues for any
        increased stamina; amazing for ranged rogues at 20% stamina reduction
    7.5% may not sound like much, but is just enough of a boost above 5% to
be unilaterally good, you'll be surprised at just how much extra oomph you
get in day-to-day combat, especially if you're reliant on expensive skills.
The better cost reductions come with the caveat that you have to remain unhit
for at least 5%.  Like the damage bonus for not being hit, this is mostly
good for ranged characters, as melee characters will get hit way too much
with incidental damage (like enemies with two-handed weapons).
    Note that ability cost reduction can be translated into an effective max
stamina increase (since regeneration is relative to the total you have
available) by the formula:
        [max_stamina] / (1 - cost_reduction) = [effective_max_stamina]
So a 10% reduction in stamina costs is equivalent to a ~11 increase to your
max stamina.  As such, while the "if not hit within 5s" is not as good for
melee characters, the straight-up stamina bonuses give very similar boosts:
        10% stamina cost reduction          +11 stamina
        15% stamina cost reduction          +17 stamina
        20% stamina cost reduction          +25 stamina
As such, warriors/rogues will generally be better off with the straight-up
stamina boosts; you'll get almost the same effect as the ability cost
reduction variants without the caveat that you need to remain unhit.  The only
twist to this is that the 20% stamina cost reduction is much better than the
closest stamina boost; ranged rogues will be able to benefit with using the
20% ability cost reduction variant instead of going for the closest stamina
boost (+20).

4.  Chance of critical crafting
Analysis:  meh early on, amazing near the end
    For much of your gaming life, critical crafting is a pretty bad deal.  10%
extra stats don't mean much when you upgrade your weapons and armor fairly
regularly and the net effect of other masterwork ingredients are much better
than 10% boost on some piddlingly low damage or armor rating.
    However, once you get to your high teens and regularly are getting tier 3
(and maybe tier 4) ingredients, and your schematics are fairly mature (in that
you're not replacing them with regularity), then critical crafting lets you
obtain weapon power levels that are otherwise impossible.
    In fact, the Essence of Perfection that you can get during a story quest is
worth holding on to until you are using tier 4 ingredients for crafting; tier
4 is in very finite quantities (i.e. only from dragons), so it's best getting
a guaranteed critical crafting instead of trying to roll the dice at even 40%
chance of critical crafting, which is the next best level.
    NOTE:  the way critical crafting appears to work is based on some innate
random effect on the masterwork item itself (probably some modulo arithmetic).
What this means is that if a masterwork critical crafting will succeed, it will
_always_ succeed; the converse for failure is also true.  This means that you
could save your game, try to critical craft a bunch of items, keep track of
which succeeded, and then reload your game and then _only_ use the masterwork
items that succeeded (and then sell the others).  This is probably exploitive,
so if you want to play the "pure" experience, just craft as normal and roll the
dices.  Thanks to Matt Lahut for pointing out this mechanic.

5.  Take only 1 damage but only have 12 health
Analysis:  amazing for squishy classes at higher difficulties
    I believe this may be implemented by giving you insurmountable armor, so
barrier shenanigans won't work too well since your barrier will take full
damage, not 1 damage.  Nevertheless, this is better the higher the difficulty
you are on, as this guarantees that you'll be able to survive at least 12 hits
when on Hard or Impossible your squishier characters won't be able to survive
more than a few in the first place.  However, do note that this negatively
exposes you to ongoing effects and periodic damage; a bit of poison can be
enough to kill you outright.

6.  Gain guard/heal health
Analysis:  amazing
    There's at least one guaranteed Fade-Touched Obsidian that does this (in
the Hinterlands past the dragon) and it's worth holding on to.  For characters
that can do a lot of hits (e.g. archers with Leaping Shot or Flask of
Lightning, melee rogues with Spinning Blades, or mages with Chain Lightning or
Energy Barrage), these abilities grant some serious survivability boost.  The
guard generation is slightly better because they will be helpful even when
you're at full health, essentially letting you "over-heal".

7.  +magic on a kill
Analysis:  meh
    At low boosts, the effect is barely worth mentioning (+10 magic for a mage
is 5% extra damage in the best case).  At the +30 level, this might be worth
using in some cases; the duration is still super short, but provided you cast a
spell or two in that time frame you can get a bit of a nice boost in your
damage.  However, your mage has to be the one to land the finishing blow.
Given all these caveats, you'd probably do better using a different masterwork
item.
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
Multiplayer Addendum                                                      !mul-
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Skills of Note                                                        !mul,ski-

Most of the ratings and discussions of skills hold true for multiplayer, but
some notably change.  In part, this has to do with the fact that pick-up
multiplayer games are a little haphazard and consequently skills that need
a bit more tactical/coordinated use are not going to be as useful.  Moreover,
because the ability cap is much lower in multiplayer (only 4 slots) the criteria
for what should make your set of active skills is much stricter.  Notably,
all panic and sleep effects are much less useful because it's very hard to
get pick-up allies to ignore enemies you've cc-ed away with these effects.
    So, exceptional, notable, or particularly bad skills get notice here.



...FOR WARRIOR TYPES
Shield Wall:  4/4 when combined with decent aggro management
    Shield Wall is amazing in multiplayer, so long as you figure out enemy
attack patterns and can time attacks properly.  You can even Shield Wall in
doorways and block projectiles from hitting your allies, which is amazing.
Notably, if you're patient and skillful, you can essentially solo many
conflicts with just this alone (I solo'ed 4/5 routine demon rounds with a level
1 Templar with just judicious use of Shield Wall).

Challenge:  2/4
    There are many, many enemies in multiplayer.  Taunting just one is not
going to help that much, especially when it comes at the expense of another
ability.

Spell Purge:  3/4, with potential for Wrath of Heaven abuse
    There are far fewer circumstances where dispelling around you is worth it,
but Spell Purge gets off better than Dispel because of the self-combo ability
with Wrath of Heaven making Spell Purge worth a slot.  Ironically, because it
is worth the initial slot, you then are able to actually get use out of this,
and the upgraded effect is arguably stronger than Dispel's (possibly
obliterating Spirits or greatly aiding against other demon enemies).

Wrath of Heaven:  basically mandatory
    Your party will love you for abusing this.  You could immediately combo
with an upgraded Spell Purge, but especially on Perilous you should hold off
for a few seconds, just in case you need the extra damage your party members
can do or the extra survivability a near-full stun duration can offer.



...FOR ROGUE TYPES
Full Draw:  1/4
    Multiplayer moves so quickly that spending the several seconds to prime this
shot can be *agony*.  Worse still is if a party member kills the enemy you
were targetting (thus wasting time), since you can't control what your party
members do.  Possibly even worse still is getting the upgrade only to have
party members immediately break the sleep effect.

Hidden Blades:  4/4
    With a semi-decent dagger this can be a one-shot-kill against most trash
enemies.



...FOR MAGE TYPES
Guardian Spirit:  basically mandatory
    If you're a mage that can get this, you should.  Since you can only get
knocked out three times before auto-dying (and making enemies tougher), being
able to add a health gate effect can significantly improve you (and
consequently your party's) longevity.

Dispel:  2/4
    Unlike in single-player, there are far fewer cases where aggressively using
Dispel makes sense, even with the upgrade; burning a precious ability slot is
probably not worth it.

Flashfire:  1/4
    Low net damage (the lowest of all the basic nukes) and an effect that will
likely be immediately ended because some random party member will decide to
attack the panicked enemy.

Wall of Fire:  4/4
    Better than other panic effects because the wall sticks around and enemies
are likely to run back in when the panic wears off, triggering another round of
panic.  Essential to an Elementalist's raw power.

Ice Mine:  only useful for Perilous
    On lower difficulties, enemies have little enough health and fights are
rapid and fluid enough that it's probably just a straight up waste of ability
points/ability slot/time/mana to try and use this.  Fire Mine at least can
straight up kill enemies.

Horror:  2/4
    While the panic effect is much worse (I almost never seen enemies get a
chance to be panicked for more than a second or two), it may still deserve an
ability slot to act as good reserve pinch survival, which it does better than
Flashfire (since it affects more than one target and is cheaper to cast).
    Then again, a Necromancer has access to either Fade Step or Fade Cloak,
both of which also offer great survivability.

Simulacrum: 1/4, but you need it anyway to access a much better skill
    Also significantly harmed by the three-knockout limit, plus multiplayer
matches are sprawling fights wherein an extra 10s is not going to buy you much.

Death Siphon:  4/4
    If you're a mage that can get this, you should.  Much better than single-
player because you'll be surrounded by swarms of trash that will be slaughtered
very rapidly; combined with the fact that you can only have two health potions
per game and other healing options require lots of treasure chests to keep a
steady supply of if you use them with any regularity, Death Siphon significantly
adds to your survivability.  Moreover, the fact that you can constantly re-
generate mana due to dying trash enemies in massive sprawling fights
(especially during round 5) is crucial to both the Elementalist and
Necromancer's power potential.

Power of the Dead:  1/4
    Much worse in single-player because it is unlikely that your Necromancer
will be the one to land the killing blow to trigger this ability.  In single-
player you have up to 8 ability slots to pack with damaging effects; not only
do you have just 4 in multiplayer, but the Necromancer's selection does not
lend itself to high damage on impact abilities that are good for killing blows
(instead offering lots of ongoing effects that proc every two seconds and thus
are not useful for landing many killing blows).

Virulence:  1/4
    A special multiplayer-only ability for the Necromancer and it is much
crappier than it sounds, because *you* have to be the one to do the killing
blow to proc the status effect spread.  And, unfortunately, a Necromancer is
not really going to be the one landing a lot of killing blows since she does
not have the kind of brute high-damage attacks that an Elementalist or
Arcane Warrior will have.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Classes                                                               !mul,cla-

(Wherein I provide my thoughts on various classes, fully acknowledging that
multiplayer metagame is going to be inherently much more fluid than single-
player and thus I run the risk of getting out of date with new strategies.)



WARRIOR TYPES (roughly ordered by power-level)
Templar
    Slow to develop, but Wrath of Heaven followed by an upgraded Spell Purge
    can straight up wipe-out most enemies before a fight can even start even
    in Threatening (and can go a long way in Perilous).  Even in Perilous,
    Wrath is a great area of effect ability, Spell Purge is free damage in
    Venatori/Demon fights, and Templar also have good survival moves if you
    don't want to go this route (though you should seriously consider it).

Katari/Reaver
    Good at straight-up damage.  I'll be honest and say I don't have enough
    experience with these to comment definitively.

Legionnaire
    Can be basically invulnerable in most fights, but lacks significant damage
    output abilities.  Great to have in Perilous due to their unmatched
    ability to taunt and generate guard, but a little slow for lower
    difficulties.  Walking Fortress makes it really easy to run into danger
    to revive someone (and upgraded will also generate you guard).



ROGUE TYPES (under construction, still playing with them)



MAGE TYPES (roughly ordered by power-level)
Elementalist
    The Elementalist's brutal power-level comes from the three following skills:
        1.  Firestorm
        2.  Flashpoint
        3.  Wall of Fire
    Firestorm is brutal, brutal damage that is actually kind of amazing that
    is included in multiplayer, even with a 60s cooldown (which can be
    significantly cut down with Winter Stillness and Clean Burn).  It has the
    extra bonus that it may knock down enemies who get hit by a meteor, so it
    also acts as a survival move for not just you, but the entire party.
        Flashpoint is the glue that ties Firestorm in with the rest of the
    skills.  With any decent gear you can critical with some regularity; by all
    means you should strive to then burn that Flashpoint on Firestorm, getting
    a powerful effect and still leaving Firestorm ready to use on your next
    Flashpoint or in case of emergencies.  In round 5 matches, it could be that
    you could be having several Firestorms going on at the same time (my record
    so far is two simultaneous Firestorms, with a third starting just as the
    first ended).
        Wall of Fire is a great ability that will carry you all the way to
    Perilous.  Not only will it stop most charging attackers cold (thus
    offering survivability), but it will essentially keep most attackers busy
    alternating between panic and not-panic (given that your allies are most
    likely going to be hitting panicked enemies anyway), which gets around
    panic's major weakness.
        The Elementalist has a bunch of other support skills (like Death Siphon
    or Winter Stillness) that just adds to the overall package, resulting in
    a mage that has a nearly unmatched power-level in all difficulties.

Arcane Warrior
    The Arcane Warrior is an odd-class.  In terms of overall power-level, I
    would put him below the Keeper and possible even below the Necromancer,
    since the Arcane Warrior is not very flexible and doesn't add much to a
    party.  However, there's no denying that the Arcane Warrior is also just
    tough-as-nails and essentially idiot-proof.  Given that most multiplayer
    players you'll run into are idiots, you'll be glad when they show up as an
    Arcane Warrior.
        Rift of the Abyss + upgraded Fade Cloak = insane.  In addition, Rift of
    the Abyss will bunch enemies up so closely that your Spirit Blade will be
    able to swipe many enemies at once, powering up your barrier with Fade
    Shield.  Power-level diminishes a bit at higher difficulties because the
    Arcane Warrior is less additive to the party then say, an Elementalist or
    Keeper, but the Arcane Warrior gets up here regardless because in terms of
    pure, brute survivability the Arcane Warrior can basically solo Perilous
    and you don't even have to be that good at this game while doing it.  Put
    another way, the Arcane Warrior is a rare beast:  he lets you combine two
    trees that would have been impossible in single-player (Knight-Enchanter
    and Rift Mage).
        Note that with weaker gear or on higher-difficulties, you need a way
    to supplement your Spirit Blade if you want to keep your barrier up with
    Fade Shield.  Chain Lightning or an upgraded Fade Step are decent
    candidates.
        Additional note:  for the love of god, unless it's a very specific
    circumstance (i.e. you're trying to defensively line-of-sight an arcane
    guardian or those floaty demons or the starting wave of round 5 trash
    enemies), you should _always_ be using Spirit Blade.  I've seen far too
    many people using their staffs.  Make no mistake, Spirit Blade is _the_
    glue that holds together this class, and if you are using staff attacks
    in normal circumstances, that should serve as a clear signal that you
    desperately need to learn how to play this class better.

Keeper
    The Keeper's main power-level comes from her unmatched Barrier capability.
    Use it to keep allies alive; whenever possible try to also be in a position
    to also barrier-up yourself (since you have several skills that trigger
    off of a barrier that is on *you*).  I know that my parties always tend to
    do better if I roll with a Keeper; when I'm not a Keeper I'm always
    delighted when one joins the game.
        Aside from that, Static Cage/Lightning Cage is a really powerful
    support ability to have.  Not only will it stop melee chargers in their
    tracks, but the extra ~50% weapon damage zap can be a massive damage boost
    especially paired with Chain Lightning or with allies who have Energy
    Barrage, Elemental Mines, Leaping Shot, among others.  You won't get
    credit for the extra damage your allies are inflicting (they'll see the
    bonus electrical damage numbers as if they themselves were responsible for
    it), but ultimately it's about completing round 5, right?  And in case
    you're dubious about the damage boost, whenever you're encountering a
    treasure room guardian (especially Revenant) or your party has singled-out
    the boss in round 5, drop an upgraded Static Cage right on them and note
    how much faster their health disappears.  Your mileage may vary; Rift Mage-
    style Keepers will also offer extended party survivability, if less brute
    damage output.

Necromancer
    At first blush is really weak, the best build I've found involves an
    upgraded Blizzard and Death Siphon/Winter Stillness.  The net effect is
    quite good; Death Siphon will trigger so frequently that in round 5
    skirmishes, I've been able to keep a Blizzard active the _entire_ time,
    while still having enough mana to cast other spells.
        Blizzard may lack the whizz-bang-pow of Firestorm, but it does a
    similar (if slightly lower) level of damage and is easier to cast.  With
    Death Siphon, your Necromancer will more likely be able to get MVP as
    a result (so long as you are properly deploying Blizzard).  With Ice Armor
    and clever positioning, Blizzard can also essentially act as a 50% damage
    reduction buff, which adds to a Necromancer's resiliency (though even 50%
    damage reduction isn't going to do much against sustained hatred from
    enemies in Perilous).
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
Appendix                                                                  !app-
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
History                                                               !app,his-

2015/03/16:  v1.8
    Miscellaneous typo/grammar fixes.
    Adding new "Chris's Personal Favorite" sub-sub-sections to notable builds,
        as sections war,not,chr- rog,not,chr- and mag,not,chr-.
    pub-:  many ability rings now work
    mec,sta-:  adding note that beasts appear to not run around
    war,wea-:  downgrading Warrior's Resolve
    war,two-:  Mighty Blow can go through enemey shields
    mag-:  changing Iconic abilities due to some down/upgrades
    mag,inf-:  Enhanced Flashfire rings do nothing
    mag,inf-:  downgrading Fire Mine
    mag,inf-:  upgrading Flashpoint
    mag,kni-:  adding note to Combat Clarity
    mag,not-:  cleaning up discussion about Knight-Enchanter builds, updating
        for non-Spirit-Blade-focused builds as well
    mag,not-:  cleaning up discussion about rift mage builds

2015/03/06:  v1.7
    Miscellaneous typo/grammar fixes.
    mec,aut-:  new section
    rog,sub-:  adding note about Easy to Miss for ranged enemies
    rog,sub-:  Evade isn't bugged, I think people are just confused; upgrading
        as well
    Updates for 1.05 patch:
        mec,att-:  front and rear armor rating now both get boosted
        war,van-:  removing note about Charging Bull in tactical mode
        war,cha-:  Counterstrike apparently should be preventing damage
        mag,sto-:  Gathering Storm now works, but not quite according to plan
        inq,for-:  True Grit has been fixed


2015/03/02:  v1.6
    Many miscellaneous typo/grammar fixes.
    SIGNIFICANT:  rescaling all ratings to be more meaningful (there were are
        far too many 3/4s to be useful).  Significant re-rankings will be
        called out below.
    war,wea-:  Shield Wall is too iconic to keep at 3/4
    war,bat-:  Horn of Valor upgraded to be iconic with its upgrade
    rog,art-:  Opportunity Knocks can be iconic
    mag,spi-:  Dispel isn't quite good enough to be iconic
    mag,win-:  Winter's Grasp isn't quite good enough to be iconic
    mas-:  +magic on kill sux
    mas-:  adding mechanic on critical crafting thanks to Matt Lahut

2015/02/19:  v1.5
    Many miscellaneous typo/grammar fixes.
    Adding throughout for focus abilities whether or not use past tier 1 is
        warranted.
    mec-:  adding starter's note to skip to skills
    rog,ass-:  interaction between Mark of the Rift and Mark of Death
    rog,tem-:  some skill rewording and corrections
    mag,inf-:  Flashfire upgrade is bugged
    mag,inf-:  Clean Burn reduces cooldowns more, has slight internal cooldown
    mag,win-:  Winter Stillness note that some abilities are bugged and that
        cooldown bonuses are multiplicative
    spe-:  new section, re-labelled existing "spe-" section
    pot,ton-:  fixing Cold Resistance Tonic replenish cost, adding buggy note
    pot,gre-:  tweaking estimated radius of Pitch Grenade.
    mas-:  new section

2015/02/16:  v1.4
    Many miscellaneous typo/grammar fixes.
    mec,bar-:  barrier actually decays at 8.33%/sec normally (incorrect numbers
        due to a bug with Knight-Protector)
    mec,sta-:  clarifying that spirit resist is not affected by Shocked
    war,shi-:  clarifying Shield Wall cost/effect structure
    war,shi-:  clarifying Payback Strike targetting
    war,bat-:  adding more notes to Grappling Hook
    war,bat-:  adding more notes to Horn of Valor
    war,bat-:  upgrading War Horn
    war,van-:  de-emphasizing importance of Vanguard tree just a smidge
    war,van-:  downgrading Cutting Words
    war,van-:  adding aoe to Bodyguard
    war,cha-:  adding note to Unyielding about health gate
    war,rea-:  rewriting Devour mechanics to be easier to understand
    war,tem-:  modifying note for Rally
    war,tem-:  adding note to Maker's Will on benefit to storm mages
    war,tem-:  downgrading The Last Sacrifice
    rog,arc-:  Long Shot upgrade has slight homing.
    rog,ass-:  Cloak of Shadows is kind of bugged at tier 1k
    rog,tem-:  removing note indicating that tempest works best with double
        daggers
    rog,tem-:  updating Flask of Lightning to indicate mechanics when not
        controlling the character
    mag,sto-:  updating note on Static Cage
    mag,inf-:  adding a conditional upgrade to Flashfire to 3/4
    mag,inf-:  upgrading Flashpoint to a solid 3/4 normally
    mag,kni-:  adding note about Knight-Protector erroneously applying to
        entire party
    mag,kni-:  downgrading Resurgeance
    mag,not-:  adding a cage build
    inq,for-:  adding caveat to Master Focus
    par-:  adding note about cage build
    pot-:  note about increased potion replenishing costs
    pot-:  reformatting entire section for legibility
    pot-:  section is now done.


2015/02/09:  v1.3
    Many miscellaneous typo/grammar fixes.
    mec,bar-:  while barrier is active, you don't get benefit from armor.
    mec,att-:  armor rating multiplier is only for Nightmare.
    mec,sta-:  clarifying how Shocked is implemented.
    mec,dam-:  all multiplicative damage is added together first
    mec,com-:  adding damage numbers for combos.
    war,wea-:  clarifying Shield Wall mechanics, adding note about blocking
        choke points.
    war,wea-:  adding specific Payback Strike damage bonus, adding upgrade.
    war,wea-:  adding note about Warrior's Resolve working while guard or
        barrier is active.
    war,wea-:  adding note about Lunge and Slash mechanics.
    war,two-:  fixing Block and Slash's upgrade damage.
    war,two-:  fixing Mighty Blow's damage against knocked down foes.
    war,two-:  clarifying that Shield Breaker stacks.
    war,bat-:  Horn of Valor has potentially buggy but high armor bonus.
    war,cha-:  health gate note on Unyielding.
    war,rea-:  Ring of Pain corrected damage bonus.
    war,rea-:  Fervor stacks.
    war,rea-:  Devour strikes twice.
    war,rea-:  fixing Dragon Rage mechanics.
    war,tem-:  Blessed Blades doesn't do anything against non-demons.
    war,tem-:  clarifying that Wrath of Heaven is merely longest ability-based
        stun.  Also adding note about combo potential.
    rog,dou-:  Flank Attack uses off-hand damage.
    rog,dou-:  clarifying Twin Fangs damage mechanics.
    rog,dou-:  clarifying Parry mechanics.
    rog,dou-:  Deathblow hits twice, potentially.
    rog,arc-:  clarifying Leaping Shot mechanic.
    rog,sab-:  fixing Poisoned Weapons mechanics.
    rog,sab-:  Toxic Cloud always poisons enemies.
    rog,sab-:  Cheap Shot has a longer duration.
    rog,sab-:  Throwing Blades hits 5 times, not 4.
    rog,sub-:  clarifying Evade mechanic.
    rog,sub-:  clarifying Shadow Strike mechanic.
    rog,ass-:  adding Knockout Bomb targetting info, has 0 stamina cost.
    rog,ass-:  clarifying Mark of Death stored damage.
    rog,art-:  adding Elemental Mines mine count and bonus mine mechanics.
    mag,spi-:  correcting Guardian Spirit to indicate that Unyielding also
        provides a health gate.
    mag,spi-:  updating Dispel to note that Transmute Magic only works off
        dispelling enemey Barrier.
    mag,spi-:  Rejuvenating Barrier only works on self due to a bug.
    mag,sto-:  Energy Barrage's upgrade duration is only 4.5s.
    mag,sto-:  clarifying Static Cage's upgrade's mechanics.
    mag,inf-:  Immolate's upgrade does more bonus damage.
    mag,kni-:  adding rune interaction with Spirit Blade
    mag,kni-:  fixing very bad typo for Fade Shield.
    mag,rif-:  think the Pull of the Abyss physics bug is gone now.
    mag,not-:  adding starter builds.
    inq,sec-:  fixing Optimal Cutting notes.
    pot,ton-:  clarifying that Mighty Offense also boosts ability damage.


2015/01/27:  v1.2
    Some minor typo fixes.
    mec,att-:  fixing mage barrier damage bonus.
    Also, updates for patch 3, including:
    mec,com-:  immolate and 2h warrior combos have been fixed.
    war,two-:  combos have been fixed.
    mag,spi-:  Mind Blast upgrade has been fixed.  Can be used with Mana Surge.
    mag,inf-:  Immolate combo has been fixed.

    Adding starter 10-point builds for all the warrior and rogue (mage 
        forthcoming); thanks, Shane!

2014/12/29:  v1.1
    New section mul-.
    war,wea-:  Clarifying Shield Bash guard damage bonus as multiplicative.
    mag,spi-:  Adding note to Guardian Spirit about its health gating effect,
        upgrading.
    mag,sto-:  Added missing skill (Conductive Current), fixing numbering.
    mag,nec-:  Simulacrum is not actually bugged.
    mag,nec-:  Adding some notes about Walking Bomb.
    pot,gre-:  Adding missing analysis for Healing Mist.

2014/01/08:  v1.0
    New section spe-.
    mec,dam-:  Adding information about when armor rating is applied for
        ability modifiers.
    war,wea-:  Correcting cost for Shield Wall to be "stops stamina
        "regeneration" and provides a hypothetical cost for attacks deflected.
    rog,ass-:  Increasing range estimate for Hidden Blades.
    mec,att-:  Fixing starting stats after some tests.  Adding starting health
        info.
    mag,sto-:  Adding info about Energy Barrage breaking Winter Stillness.
    mag,win-:  Adding note about how cooldowns are modified by Winter Stilness.
    mag,win-:  Adding note about Mana Surge being triggered off of natural
        barrier dissipation.
    mag,kni-:  Removing bugged note for Disruption Field, adding notes about
        how striking an enemy in a field works.
    mag,not-:  Adding note about Pull of the Abyss and Fade Cloak interaction.
    pot-:  Fleshing out entire section

2014/01/02:  v.95
    Added my traditional "Stinger" at the end.
    mec-:  Added new sub-section about dispel (mec,dis-).
    mec-:  Integrated a lot of work done by GhoXen.
    mec,fla-:  After tests, removing hypothetical about direcitonal mage spells
        benefitting from flanking (so far only Fade Step does).
    war-:  Adding notes about bugged Untouchable Defense and Earthshaking
        Strike.
    war,wea-:  Added missing Lunge and Slash upgrade.
    rog-:  Adding notes about bugged(?) Bloodied Prey, Evade, Flaskmaster,
        Throwing Blades.
    rog,ass-:  Fixing Hidden Blades damage number (thanks Steven), adding
        range.
    mag-:  Adding note about bugged Barrier.
    mag,bar-:  Updating Strength of Spirits discussion.
    mag,sto-:  Adding note about chain lightning bouncing (thanks
        JacobFireSquirel).
    mag,win-:  Adding note Mana Surge does not interact with Blizzard.
    mag,kni-:  Making it clear that Disruption Field is centered on you,
        downgrading.
    mag,rif-:  Adding note about bugs related to Pull of the Abyss.
    mag,rif-:  Removed random asterisks from the section.
    mag,not-:  Adding note from JacobFireSquirel about a Knight-Enchanter
        synergy.
    inq,for-:  Focus bug drops you down to tier 1 regardless.
    inq,for-:  Adding bugged note about True Grit.

2014/12/26:  v.9
    Some whitespace/spelling/grammar fixes, plus:
    mec-:  Added a disclaimer.
    mec,bar-:  Finally nailed down a good model for barrier mechanics.
    mag,inf-:  Nailed down Choatic Focus mechanics.
    mag,kni-:  Clarified Fade Shield mechanics.

2014/12/23:  v.85
    Some whitespace/spelling/grammar fixes, plus:
    - Fixed my name (whoops).
    - Updating Poisoned Weapons to indicate non-stackingness.
    - Added analysis for Looked Like it Hurt (whoops).
    - Upgraded Opportunity Knocks.

2014/12/22:  v.80
    Just had to get this released so I could feel like I had accomplished
    something, despite the fact that there are still under construction
    sections (sorry!).
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All Works                                                             !app,all-

1999 Mode Guide (Bioshock Infinite)
Clash in the Clouds Guide (Bioshock Infinite:  Clash in the Clouds DLC)
Heart of Fury Guide (Icewind Dale 2)
Party Creation Guide (Baldur's Gate)
Party Creation Guide (Baldur's Gate:  Enhanced Edition)
Populous II Guide (Populous II)
Thief Guide (Baldur's Gate 2)
Ultimate Analysis (System Shock 2)
Ultimate Oblivion FAQ (The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion)
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
The Stinger
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Iron Bull:  "So Varric. Are you going to put me into any of your stories?"
Varric:     "(snorts) How could I not?"
Iron Bull:  "When you do, make sure you describe the musculature right. It's
    not just endurance training; there was a lot of strength work that went
    into this. How you use 'rippled?' Or 'ripped?' Ripped is good."
Varric:     "Hmmm. 'The Iron Bull's stomach rippled after every meal.' 'His
    shirts would always be ripped when he tried to put them on.'"
Iron Bull:  "That hurts, Varric. That's hurtful."
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