Origins Dual Weapon Rogue Guide

3. Equipment and Properties

It helps to pick your armor and weapon goals before settling on your attribute goals, so without further ado, I’ll highlight some equipment choices that feature dps stats a rogue might be interested in. An avoidance-centric set is detailed in subsection 3.5. Avoidance.

Note that you can potentially net up to +8 to all attributes and +4 strength, or +7 to all attributes and up to +8 strength, depending on which items to which you have access / decide to use.

Some players recommend choosing armor that requires up to 20 strength maximum, especially since higher armors can impose a hefty fatigue penalty. However, certain sets, such as the infamous 100% avoidance sets, require a higher strength investment to achieve. Similarly, using a slow mainhand weapon typically requires a higher strength investment to equip, although there is notably one sword and one waraxe that don't have any strength requirements (mentioned in the Weapons section). Make your own decision about what you would like your gear to be, and use their requirements as a guideline.

Helmet Str Req Fatigue Bonuses
Helm of Honnleath
DLC: The Stone Prisoner
20 2.36% +2 to all attributes
+3 armor
Corruption 42 3.9% +5 dexterity
+1 armor
+75% spirit resistance
Free Scout Arming Cap 14 - +2 dexterity
Quicksilver Arming Cap 14 - +2 cunning
Body Str Req Fatigue Bonuses
Warden Commander Armor
DLC: Warden's Keep
24-42 23.1-27.3% +1 armor
+0.5 stamina regeneration in combat
+15% critical/backstab damage
+10% physical resistance
The Felon's Coat 20 2.3% +6 dexterity
+9 defense
+4 armor
+1 stamina regeneration in combat
+15 physical resistance
Battledress of the Provocateur
DLC: Leliana's Song
20 2.3% +4 dexterity
+5 armor
+15% chance to dodge attacks
+0.5 stamina regeneration in combat
+50 stamina
Gloves Str Req Fatigue Bonuses
Red Jenny Seekers 20 1.15% +15% critical/backstab damage
Cailan's Gauntlets
DLC: Return to Ostagar
36-42 3.6-3.9% +1 armor
+15% critical/backstab damage

Fatigue operates under the principle that heavy things make you tired, increasing the stamina cost of activating and/or sustaining abilities. For example, wearing the Warden Commander Armor early in the game may cause some stamina problems, but it becomes much more manageable with +stamina gear later in the game. Note that there is no swing speed penalty for wearing massive armor, but there is a fire rate penalty for ranged weapons.

Obviously belts, rings and necklaces don't have any attribute requirements to equip:

Belts Bonuses
Andruil's Blessing +2 to all attributes
+20% nature resistance
+1 mana regeneration in combat
+1 stamina regeneration in combat
+10 physical resistance
Guildmaster's Belt
DLC: preorder
+3 cunning
+5% chance to dodge attacks
Increases monetary gain
Cinch of Skillful Maneuvering
DLC: Witch Hunt
+1 to all attributes
+10% spell resistance
+10% chance to dodge attacks
Amulets Bonuses
The High Regard of House Dace
DLC: The Golems of Amgarrak
+6 cunning
+7% melee critical chance
+1 stamina regeneration in combat
+50 stamina
Chance to avoid missile attacks
Pearl of the Anointed
DLC: preorder, downloadable
+1 to all attributes
Increases Monetary Gain
The Spellward +5 willpower
+8 health regeneration while exploring
+30% spell resistance
+10% chance to dodge attacks
+6 defense against missiles
Rings Bonuses
The Wicked Oath
DLC: preorder, downloadable
+10% critical/backstab damage
+1 armor penetration
+1 stamina regeneration in combat
Key to the City +2 to all attributes
+4% spell resistance
+10% to healing effects received
Dusk Ring +3 cunning
-1 strength
Harvest Festival Ring
DLC: The Stone Prisoner
+2 strength
+2 dexterity
+4 attack
The Lucky Stone
DLC / Unlock
+1 to all attributes
Ring of the Warrior +2 strength
+2 dexterity
Dawn Ring +4 strength
-1 cunning

3.1. Fast vs. Slow Weapons

Let’s cut to the chase. Discobird did a bunch of theorycrafting and ranked the different weapon combinations by pure dps potential for a level 18 rogue. It makes specific assumptions about which weapons you are using, as well as buffs/debuffs and doesn’t take into consideration certain factors like attack rating (although a properly buffed Cunning rogue can reach a negligible miss rate) or equipment that has been released in more recent DLCs (the calculations were done over a year ago):

Build Dps vs 0 Armor Dps vs 10 Armor Dps vs 30 Armor
Dagger / dagger Cunning 100 100 90
Waraxe / dagger Cunning 96 96 83
Longsword / dagger Cunning 95 95 84
Waraxe / dagger Strength 86 85 68
Longsword / dagger Strength 84 84 68
Dagger / dagger Dexterity 83 83 66
Waraxe / longsword Cunning 79 79 68
Waraxe / longsword Strength 74 74 59

Momentum is not included in the calculations, but it would universally scale the dps values by +43%.

Note that there is only one Dexterity build weapon set: Dagger / Dagger. This is because each weapon type gets a different damage bonus from attributes, and daggers are the only melee weapons that get any damage bonus from Dexterity.

Dagger Longsword Mace Waraxe
50% Dexterity
50% Strength*
100% Strength* 100% Strength* 110% Strength*
6.40 base damage 11.20 base damage 8.00 base damage 9.60 base damage
8.00 armor pen 4.00 armor pen 8.00 armor pen 4.00 armor pen
4.80 crit chance 3.20 crit chance 0.80 crit chance 1.60 crit chance
1.0s swing speed 1.4s swing speed 1.5s swing speed 1.4s swing speed

* Cunning can be substituted for Strength if it is higher with the Lethality talent.

Aside from having the slowest swing speed, there are almost no maces in Origins that carry weapon properties that are clearly amenable towards practicing your roguecraft. More because of that than anything else, maces don’t quite measure up to the other one-handed options. (A Strength-centric dual weapon warrior might see things differently.) The following table lists some notable weapon choices:

Daggers Req Sockets Bonuses
The Rose's Thorn
6.40 damage
30 dexterity 3 +2 dexterity
+1 health regeneration in combat
+3 damage
+5% melee critical chance
+30% critical/backstab damage
Fang (Tier 7)*
6.40 damage
30 dexterity 3 +3 cunning
+5% melee critical chance
+6 attack
+10% critical/backstab damage
+1 nature damage
Duncan's Dagger (Tier 7)
6.40 damage
DLC: Return to Ostagar
30 dexterity 3 +4 dexterity
+10% critical/backstab damage
+10 damage vs. dragons
Dead Thaig Shanker
6.00 damage
26 dexterity 2 +5 cunning
+0.5 armor penetration
+6 attack
Interrupts spellcasting
The Edge
6.00 damage
DLC: preorder, downloadable
26 dexterity 2 +5 damage
+3% critical strike chance
+4 attack
Thorn of the Dead Gods (Tier 6)
6.00 damage
26 dexterity 2 +3 damage
+3 armor penetration

* In the PC version of Dragon Age: Origins, Fang does not spawn with the correct tier (7), but there is a mod that fixes that.

Swords Req Sockets Bonuses
Starfang (longsword)
11.90 damage
DLC: Warden's Keep
31 strength 3 +3 dexterity
+3 damage
+2.5 armor penetration
11.20 damage
DLC: The Darkspawn Chronicles
31 strength 3 +3% melee critical chance
+2 attack
+10% critical/backstab damage
Poison: Venom*
Duncan's Sword (Tier 7)
11.20 damage
DLC: Return to Ostagar
31 strength 3 +3 cunning
+2 stamina regeneration in combat
+4 damage vs. darkspawn
Maric's Blade (Tier 7)
11.20 damage
DLC: Return to Ostagar
none 3 1.5 health regeneration in combat
Weakens nearby darkspawn
1.5 stamina regeneration in combat
+6 damage vs. darkspawn

*Applying a weapon coating (poison) to your Blightblood will permanently remove the Poison: Venom property.

Waraxes Req Sockets Bonuses
The Veshialle
9.60 damage
31 strength 3 +2 strength
+5 melee critical chance
+1/+2 stamina regeneration in combat
+10% critical damage
+2 nature damage
Biteback Axe
9.00 damage
none 2 +1.5 armor penetration
+15% critical/backstab damage

The most impressive mace in Origins is unlocked through completing Golems of Amgarrak DLC, which is optional premium content that is tuned for level ~35 characters finishing up the Awakening expansion:

Maces Req Sockets Bonuses
The Reaper's Cudgel
8.00 damage
DLC: The Golems of Amgarrak
32 strength 3 +4 strength
+1 armor
+4 damage
Chance to knock target back

3.2. Critical / Backstab

All classes get a bonus to attack and critical hit chance when flanking an enemy (attacking from behind), however, only a rogue's attacks become backstabs when flanking, and the target is not immune to flanking attacks, for example, through Shield Tactics. In terms of damage, a Backstab and a Critical Hit do about the same damage.

  • Backstabs are not capable of being critical hits (i.e. you cannot shatter a frozen or petrified target with a backstab), even though they do the same damage as a critical hit.
  • Equipment properties that have +% critical/backstab damage increase both critical hit damage and backstab damage.
  • There are Rogue talents that synergize only with backstabs, not critical hits, so sometimes it is important to make the distinction.
  • Even while you’re backstabbing, there is the chance that you perform a critical hit instead. For example, the first melee attack that breaks Stealth is an automatic critical hit if it lands, not a backstab. If Coup De Grace conditions are met, the hit is a critical, not a backstab.
  • If a target is immune to critical hits, they are also immune to backstabs.

You would think that backstabbing devalues +melee crit chance, however, there are enough situations in the game where you can't flank your enemy or immunity to flanking leaves you only with the option to get critical hits that it still is useful to balance both.

Critical/backstab damage starts at a base +50% (i.e. you do 150% damage on a critical hit or backstab), and there is a cap of +350% on this property, which is additive across all your equipment. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about this in Origins, as it is not possible to reach this limit. In Awakening however...

3.3. Armor Penetration

One point of armor reduces physical damage taken by one point. One point of armor penetration ignores the effect of one point of armor. So, 1 armor penetration = +1 damage, against an opponent with armor.

  • Each point of Cunning above 10 adds 1/7th of a point of armor penetration.
  • Armor penetration is capped at maximum of 41.

If you are running a Cunning-centric build, you will probably reach ~70 Cunning near the end of Origins. A mage's Telekinetic Weapons party buff armor penetration bonus follows the same progression as Cunning, but imposes hard limits: a minimum of 1.0 and a maximum of 12.5 armor penetration. Each additional point of spellpower or magic will increase the armor penetration bonus by 1/7th of a point.

Cunning / Magic Armor Penetration
30 2.86
40 4.29
50 5.71
60 7.14
70 8.57

3.4. Enchantment!

For pure dps calculations, it makes the most sense to use Grandmaster +5 elemental damage runes. Obviously, you'll have to pay attention to enemy immunities (such as a Revenant's immunity to cold damage and a high dragon's immunity to fire damage), but other than that, you'll easily be adding +30 damage to your fast swinging attacks. Note that items increasing elemental damage will increase elemental damage from runes as well.

Some players have had success with Grandmaster Paralyze (8 second stun) runes as a means of control and forced critical hits in conjunction with Coup de Grace. Each rune fires independently, and each Paralyze rune has a fixed 5% proc rate. If the target is already stunned, the rune will not proc.

DAWiki has a list of weapon runes, but keep in mind that there are no Masterpiece or Paragon rune ranks, nor Hybrid runes in Origins.

3.5. Avoidance

As an interesting aside, it is possible for a rogue to gain up to 100% dodge just from gear and talents before factoring in defense in calculating your chance to be hit by melee attacks. Yes, this means that even a Cunning rogue can have high survivability with the right setup. This does not really help your dps in any way, but mobs that can't hit you can't kill you. As the saying goes, a dead rogue does zero dps. This information may be applicable for solo gameplay, Nightmare difficulty playthroughs, and is the keystone of some interesting strategies for difficult encounters like the final boss fight in Golems of Amgarrak.

Ability or Equipment Req Dodge Chance
Baseline Chance 5%
Dark Passage (Passive)
DLC: Warden's Keep
Evasion (Passive) 35 dexterity +20%
Cailan's Greaves
DLC: Return to Ostagar
36-42 strength +20%
Battledress of the Provocateur
DLC: Leliana's Song
20 strength +15%
The Spellward +10%
First Enchanter's Cowl +10%
Cinch of Skillful Maneuvering
DLC: Witch Hunt