How to Play the Dragon Age Reaver

How to Play the Dragon Age Reaver
Page content

Being a Dragon Age Reaver

If you’re a warrior and looking to be evil, reaver is the specialization you’re going to want. With the ability to suck the life from enemy corpses, deal out supernatural damage, and make enemies cower in fear, the reaver is a choice with much roleplaying potential. Even acquiring the specialization takes an act of evil, or at least of blasphemy.

The Dragon Age Origins reaver is a flexible specialization. It’s decent as a tank build, with a couple of effective if tricky-to-use area of effect talents. But it’s best as a class focused on dealing out damage. Reavers are good at keeping themselves alive (at least when they aren’t being self-destructive) and have creative ways of destroying their enemies. If this sounds like the warrior class for you, or if you already have a reaver and want to know how to use him or her effectively, read on.

Dragon Age Reaver Talents and Benefits

The reaver gains a permanent +1 to constitution and +5 to physical resistance, as well as the following tree of new warrior talents.


Devour: When activated, this talent allows the reaver to draw life energy from the nearby corpses of enemies. This life energy partially replenishes the reavers’ health. This is a good spell for midway through a long battle, when a lot of enemies have already been kiled.

Frightening Appearance: This talent plays off the supposedly disturbing appearance of the reaver, intimidating an enemy into cowering in fear unless that enemy sucessfully passes a mental resistance check. When succesfull this essentially paralyzes the enemy, allowing the reaver or other party members the chance for some easy damage. Also, once Frightening Appearance is learned the normal warrior talents Taunt and Threaten are permanently improved.

Aura of Pain: An interesting option, this is one of the few area of effect talents that affects the caster. Both the reaver and any enemies nearby take spirit damage as long as the Aura of Pain mode is active. It’s a good way to kill off enemies who are weaker than your reaver, or to use if your reaver has high spirit resistance.

Blood Frenzy: This is another sustained talent, and like Aura of Pain has interesting consequences. When active, the lower the reaver’s health is the more damage he or she is able to do to enemies. The reaver also takes on a penalty to health regeneration. It’s a tricky talent to use well—the reaver becomes very powerful, but is very much in danger of dying quickly.

How to Unlock the Reaver

Note: This section contains spoilers for the quest Urn of Andraste.

This is one of the trickiest specializations in the game to get access to. There’s only one way, and it involves the Urn of Andraste quest. When in the Mountainside Caverns you’ll meet a man named Kolgrim, who will propose a plan to defile Andraste’s ashes. You have to go along with his plan and defile the ashes, then speak with Kolgrim again after the quest is over. He’ll teach you the reaver specialization, and you’ll be officially evil. This action can alienate certain party members, however. See this article in The Dragon Age Wiki for details on how to gain the reaver specialization without negative consequences.

Specialization Combinations - Dragon Age Origins Reaver


You’ll need to chose a second specialization, don’t forget, and it’s important to think about how (or if) it will fit with the reaver you’ve created or are planning to create. Whether you are trying to decide on a second specialization after reaver or figure out if reaver will work with the specialization you already have, here’s an overview of how the different warrior classes function together.

Reaver +Berserker: For the warrior who wants to specialize in melee combat, this is the perfect combination. Both specializations focus on dealing out a lot of damage, and are best with one-on-one fights but offer limited area of effect options just in case. You even get modest health, constitution, and physical resistance bonuses to help with defense, along with the reaver talent Devour. The reaver/berseker can still be difficult to keep alive for long, though, so be prepared with plenty of potions and poultices.

Reaver + Champion: This is a combination for the balanced warrior, who wants to be able to tank and melee. These specializations complement each other pretty well, since the champion focuses on defending him/herself and others and the reaver focuses on attack. The problem with this combination is that the reaver has to pay a lot of attention to him or herself to stay alive, whereas the champion is focused more on helping the rest of the party. But this combination can work fairly well with careful attention and strategy.

Reaver + Templar: This is far from the most balanced combination. You’ll be able to handle mages and large groups, but you won’t be much use one-on-one. Plus, both these specializations take a lot of damage, so it’s hard to keep the reaver/templar alive for long. It’s possible to use this build strategically to do a lot of damage, but not recommended.

Tips for Maximizing your Dragon Age Origins Reaver

Stats: Your reaver’s Strength should be high, to allow the use of good weapons and armor and because the reaver doesn’t gain any attack or defense bonuses. Spend some points in Constitution as well, and in Dexterity since the reaver functions best as a melee damage class.


Combat Strategy: If you’re tanking, learn Frightening Appearance as early as you can. Its bonuses to Taunt and Threaten help keep the enemy’s attention firmly on you. If fighting melee (which is recommended), consider using Aura of Pain on groups of weak enemies, and increasing your reaver’s resistance to spirit damage so he or she can stay in that mode for longer. Use Blood Frenzy sparingly and carefully, and bring plenty of health potions. Devour can be a good way to rescue your reaver after spending time in Aura of Pain and/or Blood Frenzy. The nice thing about the reaver is that it’s effective one-on-one (with Frightening Appearance) or against a group of enemies. Just keep close tabs on this character—reavers need careful attention if they are to perform well.

This post is part of the series: Dragon Age Origins Warrior Specialization Guide

Trying to build a powerful warrior in Dragon Age Origins? In this series you’ll find everything you need to know about your four specialization choices—reaver, berserker, champion, and templar—and how to use and combine them effectively.

  1. Dragon Age Origins Warrior Specialization Guide: Champion
  2. Should You Go Evil or Good as a Dragon Age: Origins Templar?
  3. Dragon Age Origins Warrior Specialization Guide: Berserker
  4. Dragon Age Origins Warrior Specialization Guide: Reaver