First things first: I did not enjoy Dragon Age: Inquisition. While I quite enjoyed the first two instalments of the franchise (yes, even Dragon Age II), Inquisition left me wanting. Many things annoyed me about the game but I think the combat was the main issue I had. It’s certainly not the only thing, but hey, you have to start somewhere. Much of what made franchise enjoyable in the previous instalments had been discarded for dull, uninspired flailing with little to no complexity. I initially made mock skill trees for Mages only, but I wanted to address the combat system as a whole, and so I tackled the Warrior and Rogue trees as well. This is quite an extensive list of changes, so grab a cup coffee and make yourself comfortable. Keep in mind that all values are off the top of my head and are in no way meant to reflect balance.
Increase Base Health. While I suppose it’s realistic to die in a few hits, gameplay wise, it’s a bit of a hassle. Video games cannot quite handle the complexity of reality and so your health should represent your overall level of ‘unhurt’. If it depletes in a couple of strikes, it serves no purpose since you will hardly have time to react to it. Therefore, I propose to increase it.
Deeper resource pools. While a small mana pool is viable in a more fast-paced game (like the Wizard in Diablo III), a tactics game would benefit more from being able to decide what to cast when. Deeper mana/stamina pools also open up the possibility of resource-trading between characters, something I propose in this overhaul. This might also require resource regeneration be slowed down.
More skill slots. This one goes without saying. 8 skill slots are ridiculously restrictive.
Bring healing spells back. The official reason for getting rid of healing was to make combat pro-active rather than reactive. In other words, the ‘healing’ is done before damage is inflicted so this way you are required to anticipate attacks. While I commend Bioware for trying something new, it’s a jarring lore retcon that just replaces ‘heal spam’ with ‘barrier spam’. Not only that, your healing potions are technically part of your ‘support powers’ and have to be constantly replenished at camps, which can break up pacing. While I don’t pretend to have the answer to the aforementioned ‘heal spam’, I propose a potential solution in the Creation tree. Barriers should, however, remain.
Health Potion overhaul. Unlimited health potions, or double/triple the amount that can be carried. Potions are now on a 45-second cooldown after being used per character of they replenish as you fight. Potions heal by rapidly regenerating health over 15 seconds instead of giving health instantly. You may also find special vials that modify the effect of your healing potions just like Path of Exile. Maybe drinking a healing potion heals twice as much but over 45 seconds, or also restores a percentage of your maximum mana. Sky’s the limit.
Guard overhaul. The current state of GUARD is such that certain warriors are practically immortal. My proposal is to instead make GUARD reduce damage taken by the percentage GUARD you have. A Warrior with 30% GUARD has 30% physical damage reduction (and maybe 15% magic damage reduction). At the end of combat, your remaining GUARD drains to restore the percentage of your maximum health. GUARD decays at 1% per second, and certain status effects can destroy it. Caps at 50%. GUARD is calculated after damage reduction from your normal armour rating.
Barrier nerf. Barriers are a bit overpowered. The cooldown on the Barrier spell is increased, and while the BARRIER status itself decays slower, it absorbs less damage.
Attribute Points. Gain 5 attribute points on level up that you can distribute freely.
Weapon expansion. Warrior and Rogues can dual-wield one-handed weapons but will receive a damage penalty on the off-hand weapon, unless it’s a dagger or the appropriate talents are learned. Dual-wielding daggers confer no penalty but deal less damage. However, dual-daggers have faster attack speed and critical chance than a dagger-and-other-one-handed-weapon setup. Bows will miss 33% of the time, and you cannot move and fire simultaneously unless Basic Archery is learned.
Crossbows. Crossbows are basically stronger bows with a slower rate of fire but higher damage and armour penetration.
Vambraces and Bucklers. Rogues now have access to the Weapon and Shield tree, but still cannot use Shields. Instead, they use Vambraces and Bucklers. Vambraces and Bucklers do not offer as much protection as a Shield, so to make them appealing for Rogues as well as non-Rogues, Shields now slow down its wielder’s attack speed by 20%. It’s all about sacrificing damage for defence. Vambraces and Bucklers are not class-restricted. However, to maintain a Rogue’s ability to dish out punishment, they do not gain GUARD on blocking (or with skills that generate GUARD, like Battering Ram) but instead, retaliate with a normal attack with the chance of a critical strike.
Lyrium Gauntlets and Grimoires. New Mage weapons – Lyrium Gauntlets (and Greaves) are melee weapons that turn the Mage into a Monk-type character. They are considered as Weapon & Shield (and as such benefit from Shield Mastery) with the effectiveness of Vambraces/Bucklers. Grimoires, on the other hand, are ranged weapon with a strong base attack, but short attack cycle and slower attack speed than the Staff.
No more weapon and armour restrictions… mostly. The skill tree redesigns are based on the idea that a mage can use a bow if he feels so inclined (though this requires a specific talent), and still be able to be specced in such a way as to still be effective in combat. That being said, Rogues cannot use two-handed swords or shields, and neither Rogues or Warriors can use Mage weapons.
Dodging. Warriors can roll out of the way, Rogues can jump away, and Mages can fadestep a few meters away. All dodging has a 5-seconds cooldown.
Cold magic ‘realism’. Cold is an absence of heat. Therefore, ice spells are fueled by the heat they dissipate or absorb and as such cost no mana but usually comes with relatively longer cooldowns. Cold spells also generate HEAT MANA. Check Status effects below for details.
Primal Magic Overhaul. In an attempt to be more lore-friendly, I have completely changed how Primal magic is used. You have Forms that you can use (Single Target, AoE, Cone, etc), and these Forms can be modified with a certain element: Fire, Storm and Frost via toggleable Sustained spells. Only 1 can be active at a time, but these particular Sustained Spells don’t have any cost or upkeep or even cooldown. They merely act like switches. Each form has 2 casting charges, meaning you can use them twice and each cast has its own cooldown. However, the charges occur only when you switch elements: if you cast Wave Form with fire, you can cast Wave Form again, but with either Storm or Frost, not both.
Status effect detonations. The idea of detonating (which will also remove it) a status effect for damage adds more complexity to combat. Do you remove or modify the ‘debuff’ (negative status effect) and deal more damage or keep the debuff and use that to defeat the enemy? I tried to make these detonations make as much sense as possible, like making BURNING detonate FROZEN. Magical expansion/contraction.
Specialisation-Specific Equipment. All specialisations are changed but not because the existing ones are bad; since the basic skill trees and combat mechanics have changed, the specialisations have been affected as well. Each specialisation has its own unique equipment. Some are compulsory for you to make use of certain specialisation abilities, while some merely enhance the specialisation’s abilities. Here’s a list of all specialisation items (review the specialisation skill trees for an explanation of the abilities):
PANICKED/FEARED: Runs around in panic. After 1.5 seconds, PANICKED breaks if the target takes damage unless otherwise stated.
BLEEDING: Physical damage over time (DoT) – deals 1% of your maximum health per second. Stacks up to 5 times. Does not break PANICKED.
POISONED: Physical DoT. Stacks up to 5 times. Does not break PANICKED.
BURNING: Magic DoT. Does not stack. Removes CHILLED and detonates FROZEN. Does not break PANICKED. Has a 10% chance to inflict PANICKED if renewed on an already-burning target.
CHILLED: Applies 25% MOVE SLOW and ATTACK SLOW.
FROZEN: Full disable. Detonates on KNOCKDOWN or critical hits – the remainder of FROZEN duration is replaced by CHILLED. Removes BURNING to apply SUNDERED and breaks 5% GUARD.
WET: Applies after CHILLED wears off. Reduces lightning resistance by 20%. Is replaced with ELECTRIFIED after taking lightning damage.
DRENCHED: Applies after FROZEN wears off (except on detonation). Reduces lightning resistance by 30%. Is replaced with ELECTRIFIED after taking lightning damage.
PARALYSED/STUNNED: Full disable. Takes 10% more damage from all sources. Breaks 5% GUARD.
SUNDERED: Armour reduction. All ability effects that drain GUARD are increased by 30%. Status Effects that break GUARD will break 5% more.
ELECTRIFIED: Lightning DoT. Does not stack. Applying WET or DRENCHED on an ELECTRIFIED target are instantly removed and the duration of ELECTRIFIED is extended.
SHOCKED: 20% reduced Fire/Lightning/Ice resistance.
STAGGERED: Brief full disable. Usually moves the target in a given direction. Breaks 5% GUARD
KNOCKDOWN: Full disable. Usually moves the target in a given direction. Breaks 10% GUARD.
IMMOBILISED: Movement disable. Can still attack and use abilities that are not Displacement type.
MOVE SLOW: Movement speed reduction.
ATTACK SLOW: Attack speed reduction.
WEAKENED: 10% weapon damage reduction. Stacks up to 3 times.
SILENCED: Mage and Spirit Warrior ability disable. Cannot cast spells.
FEEDBACK: Overrides SILENCED. When a Mage or Spirit Warrior tries to cast a spell, they are interrupted and take damage equal to 25% of the ability’s mana cost.
ENTROPIC CHARGE: 4% damage increase from all sources per charge. Stacks up to 25. Charge lasts 4 seconds. When new ENTROPIC CHARGE is applied, charge decay timer is reset. Charges decay 5 at a time.
HEAT MANA: 2% magic damage increase per charge. Stacks up to 35. Lose 1 HEAT MANA charge every time a spell is cast. Charge lasts 8 seconds. When new HEAT MANA is applied, charge decay timer is reset. Spells with No Cost are unaffected. Sustained spell upkeep is unaffected.
Single Target: targets a single enemy or ally, or self.
Not Self: Cannot target self.
Personal: Affects the caster.
AoE: Circular area of effect. Modifiers include Cone AoE and Line AoE.
Point-Target: targets a point on the ground.
No Target: Affects an area around the caster. Can be centred on the caster or offset in a direction specified by the spell.
Instant: Does not emit a projectile. Effect happens instantly at the place or on the target the ability was used on.
Projectile: Emits a projectile. Ability effect happens once the projectile impacts.
Beam: Mixture of Instant and Projectile. Visual indicator only. Technically Instant.
Close-Quarter: abilities that can only be cast in melee range, like Shield Bash.
Displacement: Moves the caster or the target.
No Cost: does not cost any stamina or mana to cast. Usually has longer cooldowns.
No Upkeep: Sustained abilities with No Upkeep do not tax your mana/stamina pool and/or regeneration. Usually comes with positives and negatives, or drains resource in some other way. (eg: drains mana on attack)
Glyph: Places down a circle or object that repeats an effect every set interval for its duration. Eg: AoE PARALYSED every 2 seconds for 8 seconds.
Trap: Places down a circle or object that takes a brief period to prime. Usually triggers an effect when an enemy comes close enough, but some become active the moment they are primed. (eg: Crossbow Sentry, Artificer ability)
Cast Time: Spell will only take effect after a brief timer has elapsed. Any action, unless otherwise stated, will interrupt Cast Time. Can also be interrupted with STAGGERED, KNOCKDOWN, PARALYSED, STUNNED, FROZEN, PANICKED and FEAR.
Channelled: Spell must be maintained for its effect to endure. Any action, unless otherwise stated, will interrupt Channelled. Can also be interrupted with STAGGERED, KNOCKDOWN, PARALYSED, STUNNED, FROZEN, PANICKED and FEAR.
Passive: ability is always active at no cost.
Sustained: Toggle-able ability. While on, it will have an Upkeep of your maximum mana or stamina and/or mana/stamina regeneration rate unless it has the No Upkeep attribute.
NB: these skill trees were made back in 2014 and were meant for a blog. They are not responsive.
– All icons used are from DotA2. Warrior specialisations icons are from Skyrim. –