For AW you have to go for the AW tree (when you got ALL the spells you became god on earth...).
And then sustained abilities like:
- Miasma (best taken as first)
- Death Magic to regenerate health
- Death Syphon to regenerate mana
- Virulent walking bomb (which you can cast with your weapon drawn)
just take these and the game is a piece of cake.
For the 2nd specialization I'd go for Blood Mage:
- Blood Wound (and you don't need to fight your way through nothing. Darkspawns just die hopeless....)
For weapon AW is best with sword (any sword will be fine) and shield (I used the Revenant Shield).
For the armor in my opinion it's just a matter of aesthetic (I prefer the Legion of the dead armor set), but for maximizing the power you'd want to wear anything that boost mana/stamina regen.
And more on topic:
Funny you mention the conversation options, I think they are the best reason to replay the game! I like being able to initiate romances, rather than be forced into some crappy romance conflict just because your NPC approval rating is high, like in the first game.
I'm with on this. Conversation in DAII is the best reason to replay the game.