Mai 31

A Taste of Armageddon – Anna replays Dragon Age Pt.11

This is it! The End. THE END! All in capital letters. Maybe even in bold and cursive because this is how big this is. According to the game. We get cut scenes en masse, the likes of which we have not seen since the beginning in Ostagar. Some cut scenes are so incredibly important they even ignore the existence of mods, current armour and literally everything so you can see the vanilla characters in default clothes with a grainy film effect up close.  But I am ahead of myself.

You learn new things every time you talk...

You learn new things every time you talk…

First we arrived at Redcliffe to find the village overrun by Darkspawn. Seriously, is there something in the water? There must be! Those poor villagers hat to leave everything and run for their lives! Again! Naturally we kill every red dot on the mini map and do so again at the castle. Inside we hear that we made this entire journey for absolutely nothing because apparently the horde is marching towards Denerim, Dragon-Arch-Demon at the top and this huge army of Darkspawn was apparently so inconspicuous that no one noticed till now… This just in: Communication and News in Thedas are absolute garbage. And on top of that we need at least a night to get the Army ready to march back towards Denerim. Because of plot-reasons!

Loghain is forever stuck in his battle animation

Loghain is forever stuck in his battle animation

Riordan, who magically arrived before us takes Aren and Loghain aside to tell them the super secret Grey Warden secrets of secrets: Only a Grey Warden can kill the Arch Demon and the one who does always dies. Because! Riordan of course says he should be the one to kill it because he is older anyways. Ok. Sure. The NPC who literally showed up 5 minutes ago with zero backstory and all the plot relevant info is totally going to make this super easy, right? Right…

Loghain and Aren bond over a drink and some complaining about all Grey Wardens being secretive for nothing dicks that keep lying to their recruits. When Aren goes to sleep Morrigan shows up with „The Solution“. Because for no good reason and out of nowhere she knows about the dying thing. And can help. Through sex. And this is the point where even the last player should realise that someone wrote this game with a male player and some fantasy wish fulfilment on their minds. In short: Morrigan wants to get pregnant with a tainted baby that then in turn can take the soul of the arch demon in. But not the evil tainted one, the uncorrupted Old God version of the demon. The fact that you need some time from conception to even actually being pregnant is totally irrelevant apparently.

Morrigan knows exactly what to say to get Aren to cooperate...

Morrigan knows exactly what to say to get Aren to cooperate…

And because of the „no gender restrictions“ mod I have installed Aren has a chance to do the deed herself if she wants to. And she definitely does. Because a) she wants to live for fucks sake! and b) she has had the biggest crush on Morrigan since she met her so she is not going to say no to this and c) Morrgian mentions how sad Leliana would be if Aren were to die (manipulative but very effective!). Also: two powerful mages in a fantasy setting where magic can basically do everything – there is no way that „lesbian sex magic“ is not a valid option here! So steamy cutscene it is. After which the game cuts directly to the armies marching towards Denerim. Alistair gives a motivational speech, praising Aren as the leader that will save them (while probably still sneering at her) and there are tons of sad goodbyes at the gates of Denerim when we ready ourselves for the final assault. Aren takes Leliana, Wynne and Loghain with her while the rest stays to defend the city.

Exit left, pursued by bear...

Exit left, pursued by bear…

Inside the city I actually forgot that I can summon the armies I gathered to help and don’t even notice that it is a thing I can do until almost the end.

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Aren starts to get worried when she finds out Riordan didn't make it...

Aren starts to get worried when she finds out Riordan didn’t make it…

We fight through the market, the Alienage, the Palace and Fort Drakon. Riordan gets killed dramatically after slicing up the Arch Demon’s wing nicely and of course it is up to the remaining two wardens to deal with the Dragon. On top of Fort Drakon comes the last confrontation. First Enchanter Irving somehow got there too with Arl Eamon and helps. And the fight is actually over pretty quickly. At this point my party is at level 23 and super well equipped, so no one was even in danger at all. Cute more cutscenes of heroic dragon slaying and some voiceover.

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we kill the Archdemon

and it is over...

and it is over…

We cut directly to Anora and Alistair’s coronation and a big thank you speech from Anora this time. She grants Aren a boon and Aren wishes the circle to gain more independence. It is granted even though the chantry will most likely not be happy with it. Anora asks what Aren’s plans are and even though Aren would love nothing more than to just go home she feels so sort of duty to at least make sure the Darkspawn are actually gone for good. So she decides to stay with the wardens – for now.

in front of the throne

in front of the throne

After this it is time for a final goodbye to our companions. Oghren tells Aren that she is „alright – for an Elf!“ and gets an „you’re alright too – for a Dwarf!“ back. Shale confesses she was actually worried about Aren for a moment and decided to go to Tevinter to figure out how to become mortal again. Wynne got offered to be the new first enchanter but she turned it down – she wants to travel with what little time she has left and plans to go with Shale to help her become a Dwarf again. And of course she is proud of Aren, who has some tears in her eyes at this point.

Zevran jokes about assassins and murder but is actually happy to stay in one place for once. He will travel for now but Aren makes sure he knows he is always welcome to return to wherever she may be. Loghain is put in charge of recruiting new Grey Wardens in Ferelden and seems to be rather content. He even tells Aren that he didn’t think it would happen but he respects her a lot. Sten is getting ready to return home a.nd even offers Aren to come with him. (I see you Sten, calling her Kadan all the time now, I see you!) She refuses but they part amicably.

And Leliana? Decides to stay with Aren wherever she may go. For now they will both travel to Amaranthine to oversee the rebuilding of the Grey Warden Order. Afterwards Aren plans to go looking for Morrigan, who just as she said, disappeared right after the fight. Aren really doesn’t want to stop her from doing whatever it is she feels the need to do, but she feels it is her duty to at least make sure she is ok.

Awww!!!

Awww!!!

With all those plot lines tied up Aren steps out to make an appearance for the public and we get the epilogue text slides telling us what is going to happen in the next few months and years.

And with this Dragon age Origins is over. I actually cried during both the last goodbyes and the epilogue this time. I don’t even exactly know why but Aren is a very special character to me. She has the temper I would like to have and the optimism I dream of having sometimes. She is quiet and introverted but her convictions are strong and unshakeable. She is by far my favourite Warden OC and I am incredibly glad I get to play her through Awakening and Which Hunt too!

Mai 30

Ghosts, memories and romance – Julie Replays Dragon Age Pt. 9

Back to Denerim we go to start the political endgame, ergo The Landsmeet. When we arrive, the Alienage is still closed off „By order of Arl Howe“, which is something beyond horrible for Fian, which you know if you read her firt letter from Denerim to Aren. Being a city elf, she knows exactly what happens during a purge and not being able to go in there is extraordinarily frightening to her. Also, we as a player know that Rendon Howe is the powerhungry mastermind behind many of Loghain’s political actions – or at least very influential. So OOC and IC he is not the most popular NPC in the game.

… which is an understatement, to be honest. Rendon Howe (who afaic has a striking resemblance to Tobias Menzies) is basically the only NPC I reeeeeeeeeally really hate with the power of a thousand suns. I normally do not save using personalized Savegame names, but when I get to this point in the story, I totally do. You’ll see why in the next post.

It’s only a short trip from „Talking to Eamon and the elf next to him“ to „Let’s save Anora“.  She IS the well-loved queen after all and we really don’t want anyone in Howe’s vicinity and also we could really use her.

But before we go to the Arl of Denerim’s (namely Howe) Estate, we decide to take care of some of the last sidequests and while doint that, are being ambushed by Taliesen, a former friend and colleague and probably more of Zevran’s. (We ignore the nagging feeling that our previous dealings with the Crows via Master Ignacio might have tipped Taliesen off as to where to find Zevran.) He wants Zev to come back which is of course something neither Fian nor Zevran want, so we get to kill a bunch of Crows. Including Taliesen.

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Hello, Taliesen.

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No, Taliesen.

And for the first time in months, Zev can finally breathe freely, without looking over his shoulder the whole time. He asks if Fian wants him to leave, but when she tells him that she would really be sorely put out, he laughs and assures her that „we can’t have that“ and stays. And then, shortly after, he offers her an earring which apparently means a lot to him but he refuses to say that it’s a token of affection which is why Fian doesn’t take it. And then I really need to go to camp first for another conversation before rescuing Anora and he refuses to „come into her tent“, including a relatively hard near-fight scene. (I don’t handle relationship fights well.)

While the other companions are super thrilled about her and Zev (really cute conversations with Morrigan and Wynne. Wynne actually apologizes for her earlier comments about Fian’s relationship with Zev.), I think on what to do next, feeling a bit dampened. (There may have been some „nononononononononoooooo“ involved.) At that point, I remember that I still haven’t been to Soldier’s Peak! Perfect time to remedy that!

No, I don’t procrastinate the end, now why would I? *coughs*

(It’s just good that IT time is somewhat flexible and I can headcanon the Soldier’s Peak thing to before even knowing about Anora. I’m just saying.)

So, Soldier’s Peak is an old Warden stronghold which has been abandoned for years and years. When we enter, we get a pretty good idea, why.

Weird memory visions everywhere.

Weird memory visions everywhere.

We gather quickly that there has been a fight between the then-king’s army and the Wardens – who are supposedly non-political. The king of yore was a pretty nasty tyrant and they decided to stand against him. Who then decided to fight them and then starve them out.

Which turned out to be a pretty stupid idea for everyone.

Sophia Dryden, the great-grandmother of Levi Dryden (who wanted us to go in the first place), was the commander of the stronghold and under her command, not only with her knowledge but support, one of her mages, Avernus, summoned legions of demons and in doing so, teared the Veil, making the whole region vulnurable for stray magic and demons and kinds of weird stuff. Memory visions, for example.

The demons, surprise, surprise, turned against everyone and killed everyone, Wardens and king’s men alike.

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Avernus fled into the tower and the mightiest demon possessed Commander Sophia whom we meet. She does no longer look very humane, I’m afraid. In exchange for closing the Veil again, we promise Demon-Sophia to kill everyone in the Magical Tower and set her free.

No intentions of doing so, of course.

In the tower, we meet Avernus, who is also still alive. Not possessed but definitively blood-mage who prolongated his life way beyond his years. We gather that he did (again, with the knowledge and support of Commander Dryden) experiments on the Taint, trying to get more power out of it. The experiments were pretty gruesome and used human sacrifices and victims. While Fian cannot AT ALL condone that, she really, really wants the Taint cured, for the thought of turning mad in roundabout 30 years and killing herself beforehand or having to go into the Deep Roads again and in the worst case becoming a Broodmother, scares her like hell. So she not only allows him to live but to continue his experiments – in a humane way, though.

He looks like the Grand Nagus, don't you think?

He looks like the Grand Nagus, don’t you think?

He is not happy but happier than being executed or something and, satisfied, we leave him be. After killing Demon-Sophia, we leave Levi Dryden to have an eye on Avernus and start a thriving business. The fortress is save again and we’re pretty sure that more people will start coming there again.

It’s a really neat little DLC, especially lorewise – and corroborates what Fian knew from the beginning: The Grey Wardens as an order are people who are willing to to EVERYTHING to achieve their ends and what they see as a good end. Which makes them really less-than-ideal, if you ask me. But efficient. Alistair’s glorification of them all is however really missplaced.

Alistair being cute.

Alistair being cute.

After having secured the fortress,we go back to camp to talk to Zev again. A cautious „You seem different…“ finally leads him to open up about his feelings and it’s the first time, the word „love“ is spoken, without him making fun of it.

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Then he offers his earring again and when asked if this is a proposal, as it seems to be, he asks if Fian wants it to be.

OF COURSE SHE DOES! loveshower

Finally. ♥

Well. Now that we’re betrothed, we can focus on the story again. Back to Denerim!

 

 

Mai 29

Down and down and down we go – Julie Replays Dragon Age Pt. 8

So here we are, searching Dust Town for a way into the Carta and after very quickly discovering what we have to do, I manage to ignore the door that actually leads to them for at least half an hour before finally turning to the Dragon Wikia for a „How To“. Yeah, that happens sometimes. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Stop looking at me like I’m a Gamer Disappointment In Capslock.

*coughs*

To make a long story short, we of course kill everyone, including the Carta Boss Jarvia and Orzammar rejoices but does it help Bhelen enough?

Of course not. „You don’t mind going after that Paragon that disappeared two years ago and whom everyone thinks to be dead, right?“ „Why on earth…?“ „Well, if she supports me, I’ll surely be kind. Also, we can’t let Harrowmont find her, now can we?“ *clenched teeth* „Sure, Bhelen, why not look for a dead woman.“

Anything for the king that would discard the clan system. But first, we need to let some steam off, because he’s really horrible. To the Provings!

My pretty warden!

My pretty warden!

We fight our way easily through several opponents, my two favourite rogues side by side at one point.

Match made in heaven, those two.

Match made in heaven, those two. ♥ See the matching daggers? I’m cheesy, I know.

However, we do not give Bhelen the satisfaction of hearing us declare our victory for him, Fian and I really don’t like him that much. „For the Grey Wardens“ it is.

Afterwards, we start the long decent into the Deep Roads. After recruiting the very and always drunk Oghren who, while despising all nobles and royalty and their games, is glad someone finally cares enough to actually look for Branka, his-wife-who-left-him-behind-while-taking-everyone-else.

Anna’s experience pretty much matched mine, including the many side quest (If we go there, we might as well do it for some reason and gold, right?) and the feelings when talking to the Dead Legion Commander who tells us about how the Blight is a reprieve for them. We brave the mazes, old demons, darkspawn, ogres and spiders.

The spiders.

Giant. HUGE. Disgusting spiders.

Seriously, the giant spiders are so common in the Dragon Age Games that one would think I’m used to them by now and for DA2 and DAI, that’s true. But in DA:O they are so disgusting and ugh, I’m shuddering every time they appear.

We do get some camera kills with ogres, though o/

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And did I mention the Darkspawn? And that we actually see the Archdemon?

That was a very, very intense IC moment. And the definite, inarguable proof that it’s a Blight.

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Urthemiel, God of Beauty. Not so pretty anymore.

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We find Hespith and hear the poem. The first time I played the game, I didn’t really listen, this time, it hit me hard. Very hard. The creepiest, most vile thing ever. What Hespith tells us, is so despicable and horrid, it’s hard to wrap your head around. We find and kill the Broodmother – and I REALLY wanted to be the one who get’s the kill shot. But there was a graphics bug that made Fian decapitate the Broodmother while standing in front of her. Not so epic. I was vain enough to do the fight four or five times but always something happened that Fian didn’t deal the final blow – in the end, I gave up and let Oghren have the day.

The look on their faces when they see the Broodmother.

The look on their faces when they see the Broodmother.

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Dwarven Broodmother

It was allowed to happen.

It was allowed to happen.

When we finally meet Branka, she tells us about how she needed people to drive into Caridin’s traps which were supposed to keep people away from the Anvil of the Void, the ancient and legendary Anvil used to create golems. It wasn’t the first time, Fian heard that name – she had found old diaries of Caridin and already knows how these golems are created. It is not something one wants to repeat. And Branka want that Anvil SO BADLY she allowed Darkspawn to be created by one of her own. She allowed everyone to be eaten or corrupted and she basically made a Broodmother.

Yeah, no, sorry, can’t help her AT ALL.

But, since she trapped us down here, we have no choice but to go forward. When we finally meet Caridin, who had been turned into a golem himself and who actually recognizes Shale (or Shayle), he tells us the story again and we help him kill Branka. In turn for our promise to destroy the Anvil, he uses it one last time to forge the ugliest crown in the world to give to the king of our choice.

Then he kills himself.

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The look on Fian’s face…

We find the names of hundreds of dwarves who volunteered to be turned into golems, Shale’s among them and then go back to Orzammar to finally crown Bhelen.

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Who immediately executes Harrowmont, despite our protests. Did I mention, he was not nice at all?

Before going back to the surface never to return (hopefully), we get Leliana her nug Schmooples (♥), tell a mother about her lost son, make a dwarven house nobility, make way for the Legion of the Dead to be recognized as a house and give the Shaperate the names of the dwarven volunteers. They are thrilled and excited. Then we go back into the Deep Roads to find Shale’s home thaig, one of the most beautiful places in the Deep Roads.

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Never mind the big blood splotches.

Now, we can finally leave which we do gladly. Oghren’s try to reconciliate with his old girlfriend does not really work out – but after hearing what he did, Fian can’t really blame Felsi. (And honestly, didn’t try too hard to convince her otherwise.)

Now we have all contracts and can finally leave for Denerim with Eamon. Off we go!

Mai 28

The Changing Face Of Evil – Anna replays Dragon Age Pt.10

We finally got all out treaties validated and our armies are promised to us. So with the Arl of Redcliffe we relocate to Denerim. We’ve been here before, several times so we can finish a bunch of side quests upon returning. The moment we step inside the palace in Denerim we meet Loghain and his military Commander, Ser Cauthrien. Whom I am absolutely in love with, seriously I have so many headcanons about that women it is almost embarrassing. (One of them involves her and Anora totally being a couple in semi-secret but I digress…) Aren is incredibly torn with reconciling the things she lived through in Ostagar with the things she learned afterwards, but she manages so be very diplomatic and keeping the whole encounter very civil. Not thanks to Alistar.

Ser Cauthrien - I still want to know more about her

Ser Cauthrien – I still want to know more about her

After a quick talk to Eamon she meets an elven woman who is the handmaiden of the Queen apparently and who suspects that Arl Howe is holding Anora captive. Having the Queen on our side would be a super great benefit so of course we go and rescue her. On our way towards Arl Howe’s castle we stop by Wade the armour smith who turns out newly acquired dragon and drake scales into fancy armour that has awesome stats but looks like crap. We get a lot of money for it by selling it back to him though, so it’s not all bad. We complete some more sidequest I have never in my life done before because I usually don’t have the patience for it. But they involve weird people in dirty hovels and a lot of blood. Until we finally, and remember we are STILL on our way to Arl Howe’s humble abode, get ambushed again, this time by an old work buddy from Zevran. Who of course offers Zev riches and reinstatement for betraying us. But Zevran and Aren are actually bffs by this point and Zevran only laughs about this while happy helping Aren dispose of the inconvenience. (This can turn out very differently btw if you neglect to get to know him at all. Just saying.)

Competing for the title of Worsed Dressed 9:31 Dragon

Competing for the title of Worse Dress 9:31 Dragon

Finally arriving at Howe’s estate everyone gets to wear ugly boob plate armour so noone will recognise the merry band of misfits. Anora is of course safely looked in somewhere (and super snarky, I love her!) and so we have to explore the dungeons. And boooy, does the arl have a dungeon. Complete with some torture chambers and a lot of blood on the floors.

I just played Leliana’s Song a few hours before this because my recent new installation of the game somehow made it so that all the achievements were gone. Meaning all the extra stuff you get from playing the DLCs as well. A good part of the DLC plays in this exact dungeon so I was actually kinda enjoying the fact that I knew where everything was. Also I generally really recommend that DLC. It’s from Leliana’s perspective and describes the events that let her to the chantry and to Ferelden. Including Marjolene’s betrayal. You play as Leliana for about two hours and it is fully voiced and quite fun.

Play it!

Play it!

In the dungeon we find several prisoners. Some we just let go but we also find Soris, an elf from the alienage that basically tells us the story from the city elf origin. Including what the son of the Arl did to them. Coincidentally said son is also imprisoned here because Arl Howe murdered and bribed his way into being the new Arl of Denerim. So that guy Aren actually stabs as soon as he tells her who he is. Very satisfactory! Also very in character because the elven woman involved in all this is no other than her childhood friend Fian. So she has even more reason to off the guy.

We also find an imprisoned grey warden named Riordan. Who actually answers some questions we have. AND offers help, but first he has to do some other stuff so he’ll see us later. And Aren is completely not interested in men at all, but if she would ever consider it then, well, that guy! (Totally irrelevant information but just fyi…)

Riordan - the plot device

Riordan – the plot device suddenly appearing ally

We finally find Arl Howe and his dungeon master (no, not the harmless D&D player, an actual one) and Howe is an utter asshole plus he quickly attacks us and we get to kill him and all his men. And steal the keys to freeing Anora from him. This is way more satisfying as a human noble given what Howe did to the Cousland family but it is still kinda nice as anybody else because he really is a dick. The attack on the cousland castle still happens when you don’t play a human noble, you can overhear some of his guards talking about it.

So we free Anora and are just on our way out when we get caught by Ser Cauthrien. She is reasonable and after a quick negotiation Aren lets herself be arrested in exchange for everyone else, including Anora, going free. Aren gets brought to Fort Drakon and doesn’t have to wait long until she gets rescued by the unlikely duo of Leliana and Sten who are absolutely hilarious together. The way out of the Fort is still a bit tricky but nothing the three of them plus Leliana’s lovely bear pet that she can apparently summon in dungeons too (wtf?) can not handle.

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the snarky duo

the snarky duo

 

After that we finally go into the Alienage. Because now of all times they are finally kinda done with the counter measures to the supposed uprising. Very convenient. We step foot into the Alienage and there is a plague outbreak there that is decimating the population. Also very convenient. And to help there are Mages from Tevinter of all places here that offer their healing aid and are quarantining people. The amount of convinience knows no bounds! So either the Alienage in Denerim has the superpower of being the most convenient place in Thedas or there might be something rotten in the state of Denmark Ferelden.

2009 video game special effects...

2009 video game special effects…

And of course there is. We do our obligatory sidequests that involve ghosts, a creepy orphanage and finding stuff that belongs to other people before we start poking the Tevinter Mages. Because according to a very angry elven woman named Shianni they keep quarantining people but no one ever comes out of quarantine again. Including the leader of the Alienage. So Aren has the great idea to pretend tat she is sick to sneak inside – where she is promptly recognised and has to kill everyone in the room. Oops!

so many options

so many options

She snoops around and finds out that the Tevinters are not really here to help anyone except themselves. Apparently they made a deal with either Loghain or Howe that allows them to steal elves to sell as slaves back home. Given that Howe is dead by now their contract is definitely with Loghain now. That is… a bit not good one might say! Outraged Aren frees everyone and kills the slavers on the spot. When returning to Arl Eamon she is slightly disgusted with his reaction. He basically says „Well, of course it is all very awful but this is the greatest thing ever because now we have leverage against Loghain!“ And while he is not completely wrong the way this was phrased made Aren deeply uncomfortable.

other people are very happy we offed Howe...

other people are very happy we offed Howe…

Pushing those feelings aside we go to the Landsmeet. Finally. All the Nobles are there. Including quite a few for whom we have done some favours. *yay* Ser Cauthrien wants to stop us from going in but Aren talks her down, Silvertongue that she is. (I am fighting the urge to make a very lewd joke here…)

The Landsmeet is over surprisingly quick as I try to navigate the conversation options in a way that doesn’t sound like either a petulant child throwing a tantrum or a revenge screaming lunatic. Aren is diplomatic at foremost. And while she is a skilled fighter by now she will always try to talk her way through tricky situations instead of fighting. She is also no one who would deliberately antagonise someone if she thinks there is a chance for diplomacy still. So she tries to make everyone see reason, including Loghain. And Alistair for what it is worth.

Aren is very competent...

Aren is very competent…

She and Loghain agree to duel according to the Landsmeet’s rules and Aren wins. (Seriously, Glyph of Paralysis and 4 Auto-hits with her Sword and he was done for… Have I mentioned lately how massively overpowered the Arcane Warrior/Blood Mage is?) After the duel he yields and surrenders. And this is where the game keeps pissing me off. Because the give you someone surrendering and the person that most likely has gained your sympathy and friendship the most (Alistair) insists on decapitating him on the spot. Against all reason. He actually starts yelling at you for not immediately killing someone who surrendered… That is so out of character it is not even funny.

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Privilege, sure… That is why Aren actually had some sort of choice or what?

Riordan shows up and says it would be a better idea to have Loghain join the Grey Wardens and Aren is a bit conflicted, but for the exact opposite reason than Alistair is actually. Alistair doesn’t want this to happen because he thinks being a Grey Warden is an honour and a privilege. Aren thinks more of it as being a curse. Especially since she feels kind of tricked into it given that no one told her about the „30 years and then you go mad“ part nor the „don’t let the Darkspawn catch you or they turn you into something horrible by the most despicable means possible“ points in advance. So in my headcanon she definitely tells Loghain about the downsides and then offers him a choice. Because no matter what someone did, she would never ever want to do this to another person against their will. He accepts and undergoes the joining and Alistair flips his shit. A careful reminder that he agreed to marry Anora makes him do exactly that and afterwards he yells some more at Aren and then stops talking to her alltogether.

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and he was gone…

I don’t really know what the writers were thinking but they gave him a 180 personality change when you go this route and it bugs me! So with this depressing thought everyone starts travelling towards Redcliffe because we apparently think now that the big showdown will happen there – for whatever reason? I have no clue, but Eamon says it so everyone marches.

Yes my Queen.

Yes my Queen.

Mai 24

In the Hands of the Prophets – Anna replays Dragon Age Pt.9

The Ashes of Andraste. Mythical, most likely not real and even if, long lost and forgotten. Naturally this sounds like a great thing to run after in the vague hopes that it will cure a guy we have personally never met and who, according to the letters we found send from him to Kind Cailan, is of questionable character at best. Totally worthy quest to embark on. While we are getting ready for that we get an honest invitation into the Antivan Crows bc we are just that good at doing their sidequests.

Become an assassin for hire full time?

Become an assassin for hire full time?

At some point earlier in the game we went by Brother Genitivi’s house in Denerim and found a dude name Weylon who was actually an impostor who got really pissed off when we found the corpse of the real Weylon in a back room. The real Weylon apparently was brother Genitivi’s assistance and we find the good scholar went to a village that is on no map and noone actually knows about: Haven.  So naturally we go and look for the village that doesn’t seem to exist and, voila, find it directly because it is marked very prominently on out map. And where? Of course on the exact other side of Ferelden. Figures!

After weeks (months, years I tell you, years!) of travelling we enter a quiet little place where everyone is kinda rude and generally unwelcoming. What a surprise, the village that is hidden and on no map is not overly keen about strangers. We talk to a creepy boy that carries around a finger, find a bloody altar that was most likely NOT used to make food and get attacked by every villager and some cultists. Wait cultists? Yes, cultists.

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Alistair has some disturbing ideas…

Also in this place they don’t care about the chantry rule about only women being allowed into priesthood. They have a revered father leading the village. That alone should have told us that everyone around here is super evil if you really think about it. (The implications of this are actually pretty delightful if I might say so…ehrm.)

The evil dude priest gets used as interior decoration for their chantry by us and we find Brother Genitivi mostly unharmed captured in a backroom. He knows (or he has a pretty good idea) where the ashes are supposed to be and shows us to the temple where we leave the good brother in the entrance hall to study old writings so he won’t get killed.

Brother Genitivi

Brother Genitivi

What now follows is the usual almost-maze with many enemies in small and not so small side rooms, a lot of loot and some small dragons to top it off. We find a lot of lost and old lore lying around and Alistair is probably slightly annoyed about Aren’s tendency to just stand in a pile of corpses, reading the newest book she found. Leliana flirts with Wynne in the background while we murder ourselves through even more cultists until we meet the head weirdo Kolgrim.

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The cultist quarters in the temple look way better than the senior mage quarters in the circle tbh…

He tells us Andraste has been reborn and walks among (above) us again. Tiny set back – the ashes of when she died last time need to be completely destroyed with blood he has in a handy vial already. If we would be so kind to help out since he and his cult can’t actually get to the ashes. We accept for now even though everyone with us protests. But they can be shut up with a stern „I know what I am doing here!“

Andraste! (or is it?)

Andraste! (or is it?)

Two seconds later we get introduced to the reborn Andraste, a fucking high dragon that lets us pass towards the sanctuary. So now we know for sure that Kolgrim and his cult are a few druffalos short of a heard. And next we meet an oldish spirit person sorta guy who is known as „THE GUARDIAN!“. And speaks with a reverb that makes you feel like everything he says is written in capslock. THE GUARDIAN has been, well, „guarding“ (obviously!) the ashes from the moment Andraste died actually. And we have to pass trials to get to them.

The Capslock Guardian of DOOM

The Capslock Guardian of DOOM

First is apparently a trial of needles because he starts poking around in everyone’s past. For Aren that is Jowan and her decision to rat him out. She stands by it, still convinced she made the right choice. With Alistar we discover he has ptsd and survivors guilt. (No surprises here) Wynne admits she sometimes doubts her convictions, even the circle but adds that people that never doubt would most likely be wrong and dangerous. Leliana’s faith is brought into question and she insists that he beliefs are not made up for attention. (as if!)

Meeting an old "friend"

Meeting an old „friend“

Afterwards we go through a room full of spirits of the past that give us riddles – we pass every single one at first try. (I am always so super proud of myself if I get riddles in games right!). A door opens and Jowan stands in front of us. Not the real one of course, just a figment of Aren’s mind. Said figment suggests that she is now truly free of the circle. Yay. She remembers an earlier conversation with Wynne about a similar subject where Wynne was suggesting naturally she should go back. After a quick WTF? moment the explanation: She could go back and change things for the better. Become the new first enchanter, change the circle from within. Wynne seems delighted by the idea. Aren is confused by the fact that everyone around her seems to genuinely believe that she has any idea about what she is doing.

The damned bridge riddle...

The damned bridge riddle…

The next trial is a logic puzzle and it takes only two major disney villain deaths of falling into an abyss before they manage. Lastly everyone goes naked through flames. Fun times were head by everyone on this excursion. Behind the flames we find the ashes and at this point we save the game. Twice, just to be sure. Before Aren actually destroys the ashes. Why you say now? Because the damn Reaver specialisation is the only one I have not yet unlocked and I want it for further play troughs! That’s why. As expected, Leliana turns hostile. As not so much expected by me, Wynne does to. And a very pissed off Guardian appears screaming „HOW DARE YOU!“ and summons two elite spirits.

On another note: early hints about justice and vengeance being kinda closely related...

On another note: early hints about justice and vengeance being kinda closely related…

So there we are, Alistar and Aren fighting against said pissed Guardian, who is a boss level enemy, Leliana, who is Aren’s love interest, the elite spirits any Wynne, who keeps healing herself all the fucking time. And what follows is actually so far the most fun fight in game. Aren traps the Guardian in her Glyphs, stunns Wynne and helps Alistair take down Leliana and her frankly huge damage output first, then the spirits. Then she puts Wynne into a static cage and Alistair and her slowly chop down the Guardian. After that it becomes easy, she just has to interrupt Wynne’s healing. Seriously, horrible circumstances but the most challenging and fun fight so far.

Behold the absolutely terrible drinking animation... How do people in ferelden think this works?

Behold the absolutely terrible drinking animation… How do people in ferelden think this works?

Outside we get our reward from Kolgrim, we get to drink dragon blood. Absolutely nothing bad could ever come from drinking blood, right? But we get the achievement for siding with the cult and the specialisation. And that is when we say „so long, and thanks for all the fish blood“ and reload our save from earlier. The achievement and the reaver spec are still unlocked and we leave the ashes whole and just take a pinch for our healing purposes. And killing off her friends will be forever a brief nightmare flash in Aren’s mind, like a glimpse into an alternative universe.

Alistair tries to steal my glory moment!

Alistair tries to steal my glory moment!

This time, when we leave, the cult is super pissed at us because we didn’t help them. So we have to kill them all on our way out. Including the high dragon of course. Whom we fight 5 damn times because every time Alistair is stealing the show by killing it and for once in my life I want fancy action screenshots of Aren riding a dragon with her sword drawn damn it! I managed in the end. By fighting the dragon until it is almost dead, pausing, switching from staff to blade and shield for Aren, going into the tactics and putting Wynne, Alistair and Leliana on passive and then resuming the game and have Aren kill the thing with the sword and not the staff. Because apparently Staff Kills don’t trigger the action kill shot at all. (I tried, twice…) But any sort of blade does. So behold the majestic kill of the high dragon by the tiny elf!

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DAOrigins 2016-05-06 22-00-58-555

This is how it is done!

Afterwards we make brother Genitivi happy by telling him all about the urn and the ashes and make our way to Redcliffe where we heal the Arl. He is going to call a landsmeet and wants to put Alistair on the throne who is not thrilled at all by this. On out way there we manage to find Sten’s lost sword and he is so happy about it he almost smiles for a second. He keeps calling Aren „kadan“ afterwards and she has the feeling he is not telling her something about what that word actually implies but well… We also find Oghren’s ex girlfriend somewhere and play wingman for his frankly terrible flirting before we arrive in Denerim and find a whole new set of problems waiting for us there.

Oghren

Oghren

Next will be all about the Landsmeet, Denerim Politics, the Queen, the Alienage (Fian, where art thou?) and: more side quests!

But for those of you interested in the numbers and stats: This is how mine look now, before the landsmeet and at level 20. (Doing almost every side quest available plus the in game dlcs) You can enlarge the picture by clicking on it.

StatsStatsStats!

StatsStatsStats!

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