Originally Posted by Maylander
Actually, the reason you die a lot is simple: Orzammar is, by far, the hardest place to start. The easiest route is Mage Tower -> Redcliffe -> Orzammar or the Dalish.
Also, I generally prefer Leliana as an archer (she's really squishy as melee), but both will work out in the end.
By the way, do you have the Stone Prisoner DLC? It should come with any original copy of the game. If you have the DLC installed, you should have Sulcher's Pass or some such thing on the map - I strongly recommend heading there and doing that questline so you get Shale, a very powerful melee fighter.
I'll add a few pointers that should make combat easier.
- Get the Telekinisis line of spells on at least one of your mages (the line that ends with Crushing Prison). Mind Blast is a great AoE stun, Crushing Prison is excellent if you start out fights by popping it on enemy casters and Force Field is a very nice utility spell: You can use it either to make sure dangerous enemies can't do anything, or protect party members that take a lot of damage (for example use it on Leliana if a lot of enemies are hitting her - they'll keep on hitting her, but she'll be immune to the damage).
- Make sure at least one mage (I prefer all) is a Spirit Healers. Group Heal alone is more than worth it, and Cleansing is an excellent buff for intense fights (don't use it all the time though, it drains mana too fast). Also, Cleansing removes injuries on everyone but the mage, so losing party members will no longer require you to use truckloads of injury kits.
- Set up the tactics of fighters/rogues to be somewhat decent - for example by adding stuff like:
* Self: Any - Activate Mode: Whatever mode you want them to constantly use
* Enemy: Attack enemy targeted by the controlled party member (or some such thing, I don't remember the exact name - bottom line, it lets the party member attack the same target as the member you control).
* Self: Health < 50% (or 25% if you like taking a risk) - Use some sort of defensive cooldown or healing.
After that, control the mages primarily so you can control the fight through healing, buffing and generally making sure enemies are locked down (Cone of Cold, Crushing Prison, Paralyze, Petrify, Force Field and so on and so forth).