SHALE (golem, warrior)
It joins your team at the end of The Golem in Honnleath quest [Honnleath].
Info: I would recommend switching Shale with one of your warriors (Alistair, Oghren or Sten). The main reason is that the golem can be more effective in battle and that it has a large number of useful talents. You also won't have to worry about providing a lot of armor pieces, because only two crystals are needed to make the golem more resistant to enemy attacks and more useful on the battlefield.
Bonus for good relations to: strength
Shale is a very unique member of the team, however in some aspects (development of the beast and its usefulness on the battlefield) it can be similar to commanding a warrior. The biggest difference is that instead of using standard melee weapons and armors you'll be dealing with two types of crystals. Having to fill only two slots helps a lot, because you won't have to spend countless hours on finding good items for this follower.
Crystals found during the course of the game come in two different sizes. Small crystals are a replacement for standard weapons and large crystals are a replacement for armors (complete sets). Naturally each crystal offers a lot of bonuses after being placing in golem's slot. Both types of crystals (large and small) come in five different forms - as spirit, fire, ice, electrical and natural crystals. I would recommend choosing large and small crystals from the same kind (for example, two spirit crystals or two fire crystals), because doing this will grant you with a small bonus to overall statistics. The last thing you should know about is the quality of the crystals. The better the quality the more you achieve by mounting a crystal. Generally you should be interested only in clear, flawless and brilliant crystals.
As I've mentioned before, it would be a good idea to install The Stone Prisoner DLC along with the game, because doing this will allow you to start collecting the crystals long before taking a trip to Honnleath. These objects can be found in the same areas as valuable weapons and armors, so you shouldn't forget about opening interactive objects and examining bodies of fallen enemies. You can also purchase the crystals from various merchants and it shouldn't be a surprise that most of them can be acquired during your stay in Orzammar.
Shale doesn't have any skills, but on the other hand you will be allowed to choose between eight warrior talents and sixteen unique golem talents. I would recommend choosing one of two playing styles - you can be an offensive warrior or a defensive warrior. If you plan on using Shale to charge at enemy units and to deal with them using powerful blows you should consider unlocking talents from the first row and from the third row. If you plan on using Shale to take hits and to distract enemy units from attacking weaker teammates you should consider unlocking talents mostly from the second row followed by talents from the fourth row.
The first row of golem's talents is best suited for an offensive style of play and you should examine them more closely if you want your golem to deal with enemy units swiftly and in direct combat. You should always start a new battle by activating Pulverizing blows, because this talent offers valuable bonuses to other abilities from this row. Slam is an ideal talent while dealing with single enemy units, especially since aside from having a chance of inflicting a critical hit you'll also knock back the target. Quake on the other hand is a great choice if you have to defeat a large group of monsters. Don't forget that you should always start by moving the golem towards them and stopping it once you're among enemy troops. The idea here is for the shockwave to affect as many opponents as possible. The last talent found in this group is called Killing blow and it's an excellent choice for boss battles, giving you a chance of inflicting critical hits. Don't forget that using all the talents after activating Pulverizing blows increases your offense AND it lowers your defense. In addition, using Killing blow ability will drain your stamina bar, so it's an ideal choice only for the end of the battle.
The second row of golem's talents contains actions best suited for a defensive style of play and you should take interest in these abilities if Shale is supposed to take hits and distract enemies from other members of your team (especially from your mages and archers). Stoneheart is the first ability in this row and the idea is similar to Pulverizing blows from the first row. This is a sustained ability which provides great bonuses to defense and elemental resistance, as well as strengthens three other abilities. Bellow has two major features - it allows you to stun opponents found near the golem and it attracts their attention, allowing other members of the team to have a breathing moment and to heal injuries. This is especially important while fighting faster and more powerful creatures like shrieks, so you won't have to worry that much about protecting weaker members of your squad. Stone roar is very similar to Bellow, however in this case you'll want to attract the attention of a single monster of your choosing. Naturally the best moments to use this talent are while fighting powerful bosses. Don't forget to activate Stoneheart before using Stone roar to receive a very useful bonus to health regeneration. The last ability in this row is called Regenerating burst and the idea here is that not only you'll have a chance to stun your enemies, but you'll also knock them back. Sadly you won't be allowed to use this talent too often, because it takes a long time to recharge.
The third row of golem's talents contains offensive abilities, however unlike the first row it doesn't focus on melee attacks but on ranged combat. Just as before the first talent from this group (Rock mastery) is a sustained one, offering precious bonuses to three other abilities. You should notice that having this talent activated improves your ranged attacks and protects you from enemies. In addition you can influence other members of the team by improving their aim, chance of inflicting critical hits or speed, but in order for this to work they will have to be standing relatively close to the golem. You may remember Hurl rock from your time spent in the Fade and the idea is for the golem to throw a boulder at enemy units. The good news is that you can hit more than one target as long as enemies will be standing close to each other. Earthen grasp should be used when enemy forces manage to get closer to the golem, because not only you'll have a chance to temporarily immobilize them but you'll also increase chances of them attacking a different target after regaining full strength. The last talent from this group is called Rock barrage and it's basically an upgraded version of Hurl rock ability. The biggest difference is that you'll have a chance of throwing several stones instead of only one and in addition enemy units may receive penalties to movement. Don't forget that using all the abilities with Rock mastery being turned on lowers your defense and armor ratings. It's also important to know that both attacks involving throwing stones at enemy units may result in the golem hitting and injuring allied units, so you should be choosing targets with no friendlies seen nearby.
The last fourth row contains four defensive talents and they should be a supplement to the talents from the second row (assuming that you've chosen the golem to become a defensive warrior). This is an unusual group, because it contains one sustained talent and three passive ones. Stone aura affects not only Shale but also team members standing close to the golem and you can count on bonuses to attack, defense and health regeneration. Sadly there are side effects, because the golem itself loses defense points, its stamina bar is slowly being drained and you're risking a chance of paralyzing the creature. As for the remaining passive talents, it would be a good idea to unlock all of them as your golem continues to advance to higher levels of experience. Each talent offers new bonuses either for the golem alone or for the entire squad (team members in the vicinity of Shale).
GIFTS FOR SHALE:
Developing your relationship Shale works the same as with the other members of your team, so in order to receive approval points you can complete quests together and have conversations. Don't forget to complete Shale's personal mission (A golem's memories), because if you don't make any stupid moves your relationship will advance to somewhere around 70 approval points after the quest has been completed. In order to maximize golem's approval you can naturally offer gifts and there are new presents reserved for Shale. The objects I'm talking about are various types of remarkable jewels which will be offered by certain merchants. Here's a list of vendors specializing in selling gifts for Shale:
- Alarith in Denerim (Elven alienage)
- Alimar in Orzammar (Dust town)
- Faryn in Frostback mountains pass
- Figor in Orzammar (Commons)
- Garin in Orzammar (Commons)
- Legnar in Orzammar (Commons)
- Quartermaster in The Circle tower (Student quarters)
- Silent owner in Denerim (Wonders of Thedas)
You can also find one of the presents in Wilhelm's cellar by opening an interactive crate (this object can be obtained prior to waking up Shale).