Origins Dual Weapon Rogue Guide


1. Attributes and Core Talents

There are four attributes relevant to dpsing as a DW rogue:

Attribute Bonuses Considerations
Strength
  • +weapon damage* per point
  • +0.5 attack rating per point
  • +0.5 physical resistance per point
  • prerequisite for wearing most armors
  • prerequisite for using swords, waraxes and maces
  • used for Coersion’s Intimidation checks
Dexterity
  • +weapon damage* per point
  • +0.5 attack rating per point
  • +0.5 physical resistance per point
  • +1 defense per point
  • prerequisite for using daggers
  • prerequisite for dual wielding talents and some Rogue talents
  • makes you harder to hit
Cunning
  • +0.14 armor penetration per point
  • +0.5 mental resistance per point
  • prerequisite for some Rogue talents
  • prerequisite for some skills
  • used by the Lethality talent to take the place of Strength as a weapon damage modifier
  • used by the Exploit Weakness assassin talent to determine bonus damage (+0.33 damage per Cunning point)
  • used for Coercion checks
Willpower
  • +5 stamina per point
  • +0.5 mental resistance per point
  • sufficient stamina pool is needed to maintain Momentum which can put your stamina regeneration into the negative when you don't have +stamina regeneration gear to compensate

* Damage contribution depends on the type of weapon. This is detailed in the Equipment and Properties section.

Note that Strength may become irrelevant for weapon damage calculation if you pick up the Lethality talent.

At character creation, you begin with 5 points to distribute. I recommend putting all 5 points at the start into Dexterity to reach your talent goals sooner.


1.1. Race / Origin

The attribute differences between the races are so minimal that it doesn’t really matter what you pick. Play what you want to play! However, here is a quick rundown for "power gamers":

Each rogue begins with the following base attributes, with racial specific bonuses added on:

Attribute Starting Value
Strength 10
Dexterity 14
Cunning 14
Willpower 12

Each race-origin character combination begins with 2 preset skills (Poison Making and one other determined by origin) and 1 preset talent (Dirty Fighting). If you so choose, you can prevent the automatic selection of these starting skills and abilities by using the No Starting Abilities mod.

  1. Humans have the best racial bonuses, dps-wise.
    Origin Attributes Skills Talents
    Human Noble
    • +1 Strength
    • +1 Dexterity
    • +1 Cunning
    • Poison Making
    • Combat Mastery
    Dirty Fighting
  2. Dwarves have the second best racial bonuses.
    Origin Attributes Skills Talents
    Dwarf Noble
    • +1 Strength
    • +1 Dexterity
    • Poison Making
    • Combat Mastery
    Dirty Fighting
    Dwarf Commoner
    • Poison Making
    • Stealing
    Dirty Fighting
  3. Elves have no racial bonuses that increase dps.
    Origin Attributes Skills Talents
    City Elf
    • +2 Willpower
    • Poison Making
    • Coercion
    Dirty Fighting
    Dalish Elf
    • Poison Making
    • Survival
    Dirty Fighting

Notably, the City Elf is the only origin choice that has access to one of the top dw rogue daggers in the game, Fang.

Since you will end up with enough skill points to max out most of your desired skills, the starting selection is not all that important. However, if you want to obtain Momentum (your most significant dps talent) early on, you will need to invest in Combat Mastery asap. You will have one point at character creation for the skill of your choice to go with your race / origin presets. I recommend investing in your next level of Combat Mastery.

For your two talent point selections, I would recommend Dual-Weapon Sweep and one of the following: Flurry, Dual-Weapon Training or Stealth (depending on whether or not you have Improved Combat Mastery at the start).


1.2. Fade Bonuses

The Broken Circle quest line will yield a specific number of permanent attribute bonuses. Keep these in mind when you’re figuring out your attribute goals.

Attribute Bonus
Strength +4
Dexterity +4
Cunning +5
Willpower +4

1.3. Core Talents

You get 1 additional talent point to spend at every level. This is the boilerplate dw rogue with plenty of room for customization:

  Rogue Talent Description
Dirty Fighting The rogue incapacitates a target, who takes no damage from the attack but is stunned for 4 seconds (duration adjusted by target rank).
Combat Movement The quick-stepping rogue can more easily outmaneuver opponents, broadening the flanking angle from 120 to 180 degrees. Bonuses not mentioned in the tooltip:
  • increases the maximum flanking attack bonus from 15.0 to 20.0
  • increases the maximum flanking crit bonus from 3% to 4% for rogues wielding bows
  • passively adds +2% melee critical chance
Coup De Grace When a target is incapacitated, the opportunistic rogue strikes where it hurts the most, inflicting automatic backstabs against stunned or paralyzed targets. Bonus not mentioned in the tooltip:
  • passively adds +1% melee critical chance
Below the Belt The rogue delivers a swift and unsportsmanlike kick to the target, with +5 attack, dealing normal combat damage as well as inflicting -10 defense and -50% movement speed for 10 seconds (duration adjusted by target rank) unless the target passes a physical resistance check vs the attacker's Cunning.
Deadly Strike The rogue makes a swift strike at a vulnerable area on the target, with +10 attack, dealing normal damage and gaining +10 armor penetration.
Lethality The rogue has a keen eye for weak spots, and thus gains a bonus of +10% melee critical chance. Additionally, if the rogue's cunning score is greater than strength, sharpness of mind lets the character use the cunning modifier to affect attack damage in place of the strength modifier.
  Dual-Weapon Talent Description
Dual-Weapon Training The character has become more proficient fighting with two weapons, and now gains an additional 25% attribute bonus with the off-hand weapon (which makes it equal to the bonus for the main hand).
Dual-Weapon Finesse The character is extremely skilled at wielding a weapon in each hand, gaining a bonus of +5 attack and +5 defense.
Dual-Weapon Expert The character has significant experience with two-weapon fighting, gaining a bonus of +2.5% melee critical chance, as well as a possibility with each hit to inflict bleeding lacerations that continue to damage a target for a time.
Dual-Weapon Sweep The character sweeps both weapons in a 180 degree 2.5m self-centered cone, striking nearby enemies with one or both weapons and inflicting 50% more damage than normal. Unmentioned behavior:
  • If the target is within the center 100 degrees of the cone, it is hit with both weapons; otherwise with a single weapon.
  • No critical hit is possible.
Flurry The character lashes out with a flurry of three blows - main hand, offhand, main hand - dealing normal combat damage with each hit.
Momentum The character has learned to carry one attack through to the next, reducing attack swing time by 30%. (This attack speed increase corresponds to a dps increase of 43%.) This mode reduces stamina regeneration by 2, however. (The ability will deactivate if stamina reaches 0.)

I did not include the second row of Dual Weapon talents in the core selection. You will likely find that, as a dw rogue, you won’t be using a lot of specials, especially early on, due to stamina constraints. You don’t have much spare stamina to work with at low levels, and you will want to use Momentum as soon as possible, which is a maintained ability. So you will instead largely focus on your auto-attack damage. There is certainly the flexibility to pick up that tree however.

If you use a mod like Character Respecialization, Beguiler or Respecification, you'll be able to unlearn your attribute, skill, and talent points and redistribute them as you see fit. This affords you the flexibility to experiment and undo mistakes.


1.4. Specializations

At level 7 and 14, you receive a point to spend on the specialization of your choice*. Any of the specializations can be an excellent choice, but I’ll go over some basic pros and cons of each:

Assassin (+2 Dexterity, +2.5% melee critical chance)
Favors Cunning builds, but is a decent choice for all melee-centric rogues.

  • Mark of Death causes all attacks to the target to deal an additional 20% damage for 20 seconds.
  • Exploit Weakness adds 33% of your Cunning score (which is your Cunning value - 10) as damage to your hits. Obviously, this synergizes well with Cunning builds.
  • Lacerate cause backstabs to add a bleeding damage over time equal to 25% of the backstab damage.

Duelist (+2 Dexterity, +1 damage)
Favors neither build.

  • Dueling is a sustained ability that increases your attack rating by 10.
  • Pinpoint Strike causes all successful attacks for the next 15 seconds to have 100% chance to be a critical hit. However, this activated ability is on a long 180s cooldown.

Bard (+2 Willpower, +1 Cunning)
Favors Cunning builds. There is an exploit that allows you to stack the effect of multiple Songs of Courage if you are not the Bard maintaining the first Song of Courage.

  • Song of Courage gives party-wide bonuses to attack rating, damage, and crit chance that scales with Cunning. However, the ability may have a prohibitive maintenance cost, especially early in the game, so you may want to invest a bit into Willpower (or wear +stamina/willpower gear) to help offset that downside. Each point of Cunning imparts +0.1 attack, +0.05 damage, and +0.1 crit chance:

    Cunning Attack Damage Crit
    14 +3.4 +2.2 +3.4%
    20 +4 +2.5 +4%
    30 +5 +3 +5%
    40 +6 +3.5 +6%
    50 +7 +4 +7%
    60 +8 +4.5 +8%
    70 +9 +5 +9%
  • Captivating Song is a channeled aoe stun with duration determined by your available stamina pool, but the maintainer is rooted in place and cannot perform any other actions. Best used by a party member - not yourself - and synergizes well with Coup De Grace, allowing all your hits on affected targets to become criticals.

Ranger (+1 Constitution, +5 nature resistance)
Offers no personal damage increase, however Ranger pets can bring a fair amount of damage to the table in addition to offering utility. Pet stats do not scale with your stats, so it does not favor one build over another. If you choose to be a Ranger, I recommend maxing out the tree as soon as possible to buff your pet with Master Ranger.

  • Summon adds an additional damage dealing pet to your party. The pet is 75% of your level unless you have Master Ranger, in which case it will be 90% of your level, rounded down, and can potentially provide useful crowd control or target debuffs, in addition to contributing its dps.
  • Summoned pets have a prohibitive maintenance cost, especially early in the game, so you may want to invest a bit into Willpower (or wear +stamina/willpower gear) to help offset that downside.
  • Area transitions cause summoned pets to become unsummoned, but there is a mod that fixes that.
Level 10 Wolf Bear Spider
Health 245.5 406.1 245.5
Armor 5.5 6.5 6.0
Attack 79.5 80.8 79.5
Defense 83.0 59.5 83.0
Damage per hit 30.2 2x30.9 30.2
Armor penetration 4.8 4.3 4.8
Attack speed 1.6s 2.1s 1.5s
Stats Per Level Wolf Bear Spider
Health +14.5 +15.4 +14.5
Armor +0.2 +0.2 +0.2
Attack +2.2 +2.2 +2.2
Defense +2.3 +2.2 +2.3
Damage per hit +2.6 +2.5 +2.6
Armor penetration +0.4 +0.3 +0.4
Wolf Abilities Description
Howl
Cooldown: 20s
All enemies within 5m failing a mental resistance check vs. the wolf's strength attribute lose 5 Defense for 10 seconds.
Shred
Cooldown: 20s
Requires Master Ranger
The dog lunges at an opponent and tears it with its powerful jaws. If the attack hits, it is an automatic critical hit. If the target can bleed, it takes addition damage equal to the critical hit as a bleed effect over 10s.
Bear Abilities Description
Slam
Cooldown: 20s
The bears slams the target. If the attack hits, it deals critical damage and knocks the target down unless it passes a physical resistance check.
Shred
Cooldown: 60s
Requires Master Ranger
The bear becomes enraged, gaining +10 strength for a short time.
Spider Abilities Description
Web
Cooldown: 30s
The spider fires and web at the target, paralyzing it for 4-8 seconds (duration adjusted by target rank).
Poison Spit
Cooldown: 12s
Requires Master Ranger
The spider spits poison on target, dealing 50 + nature damage based on the spider's dexterity over 3s.
* Note that specializations are unlocked through gameplay. Each unlock is permanent, and specializations will stay unlocked for all subsequent playthroughs.


1.5. Bonus Talent Points

Your character starts the game with 3 talent points and gains 1 talent point at every level. A few other means can yield up to 6 additional talent points:

  • Rogues get an additional 2 talent points after certain major plot milestones:
    • +1 upon becoming a Grey Warden
    • +1 upon the successful completion of the Landsmeet
  • Tome of Physical Technique gives you 1 additional talent point upon use, purchasable from:
    • Bodahn Feddic at your party camp (purchasable up to 3 times*, during your first visit to the camp after Lothering, again after the first visit while questing, and once more before the final battle).
    • Garin at the Orzammar Commons (purchasable once)

*The first Tome of Physical Technique available from Bodahn typically costs more gold than you will have the first time you visit the camp. One way to get around this is to avoid visiting your party camp for the first time until you have enough funds to purchase the book.


1.6. Dexterity Build

Strengths of this build include high avoidance (survivability) and attack rating afforded by having high Dexterity. The avoidance is quite relevant for soloing or Nightmare difficulty play, and the high hit rating allows your attacks to connect just a little more often.

Attribute Points To Invest
Strength min required to equip your armor and weapons after attribute bonuses
Dexterity all spare points
Cunning min required for Lockpicking, Stealing, Coercion or 16 min for skills
Willpower base

Note that Dexterity only increases dagger damage, so picking a Dexterity build basically locks in your choice to dual wield daggers.

Sample Dexterity Build Progression: Ranger / Assassin
Keeping in mind that you get 1 skill point every other level, and a new specialization at level 7 and 14, I'll hazard a guess that you'll be around level 23 when you finish the game and get:

  • +1 talent point for completing The Joining at around level 5
  • +2 from reading Tomes of Physical Technique at various levels: 10, 14 (whenever you have the spare funds to buy them)
  • +1 talent point for completing the Landsmeet successfully at around level 22
  • +1 from reading the last Tome of Physical Technique from Bodahn before the final battle around level 22

Assuming that, a sample talent progression might look something like this:

Level Talent Requirements
1 Dirty Fighting
1 Dual-Weapon Sweep Dexterity 12
Combat Training
1 Deft Hands or Stealth Cunning 10
2 Flurry* Dexterity 18
Improved Combat Training
3 Momentum* Dexterity 24
Expert Combat Training
4 Dual-Weapon Training Dexterity 12
Combat Training
5 Combat Movement Level 4
Dexterity 14
5 Improved Tools or Stealthy Item Use Level 4
Cunning 14
6 Whirlwind Dexterity 30
Master Combat Training
7 Summon Wolf Ranger specialization
8 Coup De Grace Level 8
Dexterity 18
9 Mechanical Expertise or Combat Stealth Level 8
Cunning 18
10 Below The Belt Dexterity 10
10 Summon Bear Ranger specialization
Level 8
11 Summon Spider Ranger specialization
Level 10
12 Master Ranger Ranger specialization
13 Device Mastery or Master Stealth Level 12
Cunning 22
14 Mark of Death Assassin specialization
14 Deadly Strike Level 4
Dexterity 14
15 Lethality Level 8
Dexterity 23
16 Evasion Level 12
Dexterity 35
17 Exploit Weakness Assassin specialization
Level 12
18 Lacerate Assassin specialization
Level 14
19 Feast of the Fallen Assassin specialization
Level 16
20 Dual-Weapon Finesse Dexterity 16
Improved Combat Training
21 Dual Weapon Expert Level 9
Dexterity 26

* These early selections assume you started the game with two ranks in the Combat Training skill tree, which is only possible if The Warden (your character) is a Human or Dwarf Noble, or used the No Starting Abilities mod. If none of that is the case, then pick them up at soon as possible, and pick up some other things until you can get these talents.

Because you're not very Cunning-centric, you can delay getting Lethality, but you ultimately don't skip it since it gives you access to the survival-oriented talent Evasion, and survival is what the Dexterity build is largely about. Similarly, due to having an abundance of attack in a Dexterity build, you won't really miss the non-scaling +5 attack bonus from Dual-Weapon Finesse early on, so its priority in the progression drops a fair amount.

I always go for Stealth, since I find it useful, but if you do not, you'll free up four points to invest elsewhere.


1.7. Cunning Build

Strengths of this build include strong utility, as many utility skills use Cunning for success checks. Lethality and Expose Weakness talents favor Cunning for damage increases as well. Endgame mobs tend to have higher armor values, making Cunning’s armor penetration bonus give dw rogues an advantage in terms of pure dps.

Attribute Points To Invest
Strength min required to equip your armor and weapons after attribute bonuses
Dexterity 35 for Evasion, 30 otherwise
Cunning all spare points
Willpower base

Sample Cunning Build Progression: Assassin / Bard
Keeping in mind that you get 1 skill point every other level, and a new specialization at level 7 and 14, I'll hazard a guess that you'll be around level 23 when you finish the game and get:

  • +1 talent point for completing The Joining at around level 5
  • +2 from reading Tomes of Physical Technique at various levels: 10, 14 (whenever you have the spare funds to buy them)
  • +1 talent point for completing the Landsmeet successfully at around level 22
  • +1 from reading the last Tome of Physical Technique from Bodahn before the final battle around level 22

Assuming that, a sample talent progression might look something like this:

Level Talent Requirements
1 Dirty Fighting Cunning 10
1 Dual-Weapon Sweep Dexterity 12
Combat Training
1 Stealth Cunning 10
2 Flurry* Dexterity 18
Improved Combat Training
3 Momentum* Dexterity 24
Expert Combat Training
4 Dual-Weapon Training Dexterity 12
Combat Training
5 Combat Movement Level 4
Dexterity 14
5 Stealthy Item Use Level 4
Cunning 14
6 Below The Belt Dexterity 10
7 Deadly Strike Level 4
Dexterity 14
8 Lethality Level 8
Dexterity 23
9 Coup De Grace Level 8
Dexterity 18
10 Whirlwind Dexterity 30
Master Combat Training
10 Combat Stealth Level 8
Cunning 18
11 Mark of Death Assassin specialization
12 Exploit Weakness Assassin specialization
Level 12
13 Master Stealth Level 12
Cunning 22
14 Lacerate Assassin specialization
Level 14
14 Song of Valor Bard specialization
15 Distraction Bard specialization
Level 12
16 Song of Courage Bard specialization
Level 14
17 Dual-Weapon Finesse Dexterity 16
Improved Combat Training
18 Evasion Level 12
Dexterity 35
19 Dual Weapon Expert Level 9
Dexterity 26
20 Feast of the Fallen Assassin specialization
Level 16

* These early selections assume you started the game with two ranks in the Combat Training skill tree, which is only possible if The Warden (your character) is a Human or Dwarf Noble, or used the No Starting Abilities mod. If none of that is the case, then pick them up at soon as possible, and pick up some other things until you can get these talents.

I chose to go for Lethality and the first couple of Assassin talents early since their benefits really help Cunning shine. Moreover, with a Cunning-centric build, you don't have to invest in nearly as many Lockpicking points to be proficient at picking locks and disarming traps. One point is generally sufficient to eventually open up every pickable lock in the game, though you may have to return to a location later to reopen boxes if your Lockpicking score is too low at that point.

I always go for Stealth, since I find it useful, but if you do not, you'll free up four points to invest elsewhere.