I just started playing this game and I am somewhat disappointed a the lack of explanation of the basic game mechanics. With both the small manual that comes with the game and the official game guide, I still couldn’t find answers to some of my questions. Others I could find but took waaay too much time. So I thought I would start a thread so that others don’t have to spend hours looking this minutiae up or so that people who are new can ask questions about basic mechanics.
Movement: why does my party not do what I tell them to?
It is highly annoying when you want one party member, like your tank, to wade out into battle alone to focus threat and others of your party refuse to stay behind. It took me a while to realize that on the left side, under the party portraits, there is a toggle that allows you to tell your party to hold their positions.
Another reason party members could be doing strange things is because of their Tactics setting. This function is well covered in the literature but you need to remember to check the Tactics screen for each new party member you add or they may do annoying things. Speaking of Tactics, has anyone found it useful to put more skill points into combat tactics? I just turn them off for the most part and find them irritating but perhaps I am missing something.
Party Position: who gets to ride shotgun?
If I remember correctly, in BGII there was a option to place your party members in particular positions and change the shape of the position field (e.g. line, diamond, columns, etc.) Is there anything like that is DA:O? The way it currently stands, my mage is always out front when I move the whole party, which isn't endearing me to her.
Immersion: the joy of bonding
Though it is not often discussed, there are ways to enhance your immersion in a role playing game and one of them is the process of bonding with your character, a concept that was used to great effect in the recent movie Avatar. Certainly it is fine to choice a simple default build and move on, but consider that possibility that all the steps that go into crafting your character, including choosing their name and background, increase the potential for immersion in the DA:O world. The game has a great character generation system but even more powerful than that is your imagination – use it. I even went so far as choosing a theme song for my female arcane warrior, which is used well in this video: YouTube - Éowyn - Warrior Princess
Nothing like the sound of Swedish battle bards to enhance immersion.
Perhaps this subject is a no-brainer but I thought I would mention it…
Combat magic: central casting and other conundrums
I still haven’t fully figured this out. I understand that each spell has an activation cost in mana and a cool down period. However, there have been several times in battle when I will choose a spell (like Stonefist) in the quickbar, it sparkles, but I do not get the crosshair icon that allows me to cast the spell on that target. The icon will instead stay as a sword. I have tried left clicking or right clicking on the spell, left or right clicking on the target. Sometimes the spell icon will come up next to the characters portrait and sometimes it will not, but I am not sure if this means the spell is working or not. If someone could explain this to me, I would appreciate it.
Also, the Area of Effect (AoE) spells allow you to target an area or a victim (i.e. you get a crosshair icon on an enemy). Any feedback on how to use either to best advantage?
Threat: going aggro or why are the bad guys are always after my mage?
Threat is fairly well explained, but what is counter-intuitive is that your character generates more threat with increased healing, so be aware of that. My question here has to do with AoE spells. It is great to cast them as the enemy is coming toward you, before your party members get involved, but then your mage generates huge threat. Is there a way to cast AoE and then put the threat back on the tank in some way?
Mods: shapeshifting the mechanics
There are a few good places for mods, such as Dragon Age Nexus and DA Mods:
Dragon Age Nexus
Dragon Age Mods
A note about mods - if you patch the game, be sure that the mod will work with your newly patched version. There are some mods now that only worked with a specific patched version.
If, like me, you got really torqued off about the DLC content issue, you can use a mod to cover the base about additional storage. It is called Innodil's Pocket Plane and gives you a full party camp replacement with lots of storage, a merchant with an unlimited supply of crafting materials, etc. You can mod the mod if you like to have the merchant buy things from you at a high price, sell them to you cheap, or allow teleport in the middle of combat. Be aware that the merchant is actually a bird in a bird cage, which took me awhile to figure out. Since we are talking about a mod, I don't think that is a spoiler.
Innodils Pocket Plane Party Camp
Some useful mods (note that the actual files are on an invisible tab next to "Description" that says "Files" )
DAMOdder (manages mods): DAModder - Mod Manager
Open Locks Spells: Open Lock Spells
Spell Shaping: allows spell casters to shape and direct wide-area spells in a manner that does not hurt allies. Spell Shaping Skill
Free Love: Casts a spell on Morrigan to make her think all players are Male, and a spell on Allistair to make him think all players are Female.
[Gameplay] Free Love!
I think Fable asked about a trainer. Here is an in-game one:
Dragon Age Beguiler 003