'Dragon Quest XI' Character Building Guide: Tips for Customizing Each Skill Tree

As you make your way through Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age, several companions will join the hero's journey. The members of your party will earn skill points with each level gained, which can be used in the Character Builder menu to unlock new attacks, spells and stat boosts. Wondering how to develop each character early on? Here's some suggestions to get you started.

Warning: this article may contain mild spoilers relating to the identity of your party members and the types of skills they use. While most of your teammates have been highly visible in promotional materials for the game and in the opening cinematic, if you want to avoid spoilers, please turn back now.

Character Building Basics

Especially in the early hours of Dragon Quest XI, it makes sense to narrow your focus primarily to one area of the grid, rather than spreading your Skill Points equally amongst every category. It's better to be lopsided than balanced, as you'll be able to unlock more powerful skills sooner.

The skill trees for each character can change due to story events, often yielding more powerful moves. If one of your companions leaves the party temporarily, it's worth checking for free skill points in the Character Builder when they return.

Once you get a few hours into the game, you'll be able to undo your skill point assignments at any time by visiting a campsite or church, in the same menu where you save your game. If you're unhappy with a character's current abilities, select the Rectification option to free up skill points for 20 gold each. You'll need to undo an entire category at once, you can't pick and choose individual skills.

Best Skill Branches for Each Character

Hero / Protagonist

The hero isn't the tankiest fellow in the early hours of DQXI, and for a while characters like Jade and Sylvando will be tougher than the pride of Cobblestone. He'll benefit from some extra protection, so focus on the single-handed Swords branch first to leave a free hand for shields. Once you've built up those skills a bit, give some love to the stat boosts found in the Luminary branch. Leave Greatswords and Swordmastery for later in the game, when your hero's parry rate, base stats, and access to god-tier equipment allow him to take a lot more damage. (At that point, however, you'll be able to dual-wield one-handed swords, so why bother?)

Best Early Unlocks:

  • Falcon Slash (Swords 16P)—Quickly attack twice for double damage.
  • Miracle Slash (Swords 16P)—Deals damage while slightly healing MC.
Erik Character Builder guide DRAGON QUEST XI
Erik's late-game skill tree in "Dragon Quest XI." Each character's building has it's own distinctive shape. Square Enix


If you're into stealing rare items and materials from baddies, Erik's your guy. But even if you're not, don't dismiss him. He has a solid chance of inflicting status ailments on enemies, and his agility allows him to act early in the turn order. Rather than doubling up on Swords, we'd recommend training Erik in Knives (lots of ailment-inducing attacks), supplemented by the stat boosts provided by Guile.

Best Early Unlocks:

  • Poison Strike (Knives 7P)—Attack and possibly poison enemy.
  • Half-Inch (Guile 8P)—Steals item from enemy (no damage).
  • Dual-Wielding (Knives 16P)—Equip knives in both hands, increasing damage and lowering defense.


It's hard to think of Veronica as anything other than a black mage … so we didn't. Ignoring whips entirely and favoring Vim skills will boost her MP and Magical Might. Equipping Heavy Wands as her primary weapon will boost her magic damage even more, but you don't need to worry about devoting skill points to this category right away. Frankly, Veronica's skill tree isn't all that useful. She's a huge asset to the party, but most of her awesome skills are spells learned from ordinary level gains.

Best Early Unlocks:

  • Fire and Earth Resistance +20 percent (Vim 10P)—Increase Veronica's elemental defense.
  • Ice and Wind Resistance +20 percent (Vim 10P)—Increase Veronica's elemental defense.
serena DRAGON QUEST XI character builder guide
Serena's skill tree in "Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age." Wondering how to develop each member of your party? Here’s some suggestions to get you started. Square Enix


Surprisingly enough, she's pretty handy with a polearm. Before everyone joins up, particularly when there are only four of you, you'll want Serena to focus on Spears. Your fledgling squad will benefit from the extra attack damage and defense, but she can still be the main healer. Later in the game, when she's mainly dishing out HP restoration and buffs, give Harpistry and Wands some love.

Best Early Unlocks:

  • Deliverance (Spears 7P)—Heavy damage to undead enemies.
  • Hymns (All elements, Harpistry 8P each)—Increase party's elemental resistance for a few rounds. A boss fight essential, even until late game.


The smiling knight is a good fit for either Swords or Knives in the early game. Like Erik, his high Charm and Agility stats give him decent odds of inflicting status ailments, but Sylvando has a lot of useful buffs and (eventually) healing. Thus, he is an exception to the "keep it lopsided" rule stated above. Be sure to build up Litheness to get to Showmanship, which opens up some of Sylv's best moves in the game.

Best Early Unlocks:

  • Fuddle Dance (Showmanship 12P)—Chance to confuse all enemies.
  • Hustle Dance (Showmanship 14P)—Restore 70+ HP to all party members.


Jade is a powerhouse fighter, able to take a punch and sometimes inflict status ailments. She completely lacks magic and healing skills, so whenever you have her in the party for a boss fight (which will be often), make sure you bring a restorative magic user like Serena or Rab along. Like Sylvando, Jade's a bit of an exception to the lopsided rule. She does more damage with Spears than Claws, and some of her best abilities come from Allure. Her other unique category, Fisticuffs, is mainly stat bonuses but a worthwhile investment.

Best Early Unlocks:

  • Hip Drop (Allure 6P)—A fierce, non-elemental attack for low MP cost. Consistently useful.
  • Multithrust (Spears 12P)—Unleash four random spear attacks on a group of enemies. Will also attack a single enemy 4x.
Rab Character Builder guide DRAGON QUEST XI
Unlocking a move on Rab's skill tree in the "Dragon Quest XI" character builder menu. Square Enix


This crusty coot is essentially the Red Mage of the group: a pu-pu platter of offensive and defensive magic, and moderate attack skills. Initially, I devoted Rab's skill points to Claws. Don't make the same mistake I did; he's not meant to be used as a melee. His attacks aren't terrible, but by the time he joins you will have better fighters. Instead, focus on Enlightenment first, then Heavy Wands. Like Veronica, he learns more interesting skills through leveling than through the Character Builder.

Best Early Unlocks:

  • Right as Rain (Enlightenment 6P)—Full party regenerates a small amount of HP every turn.
  • Caster Sugar (Enlightenment 12P)—Increase effectiveness of spells.

How did you evolve your squad in Dragon Quest XI? Do you think we've unfairly underestimated the value of Boomerangs and Whips? Let us know in the comments!