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Dragon Age: Origins PDF Print E-mail
Written by Silver Sorrow / Starfox   
Monday, 07 March 2011 00:00
Article Index
Dragon Age: Origins
The Hands Of Destiny
The Grey Wardens Wants You
Too Damn long to write here!
Talents, skills and other things
Character creation and other self-torments
All Pages


Dragon Age: Origins


The Grey Wardens Want You, Bitch

Long ago during the first Blight, long before your character was a lump in his or her daddy's pants, a bunch of soldiers, fed up with the futility of dying with no headway being made against the first Archdemon and his crew, foreswore fealty to men (which includes women, I suppose) and drank the Darkspawn blood. Usually this causes the person to go nuts, but they added other stuff to it, like a sprinkling of nutmeg and some maraschino cherries. They mastered the taint and killed the first Archdemon, but they were all wiped out in the process. I think. The acolytes (or whatever...I lost interest a long time ago, frankly) became Grey Wardens themselves, founded the Grey Warden order in a proper manner, and defeated a couple more Blights in the ensuing years.

Several decades before your part in this story, the Grey Wardens were banned from Ferelden for their part in conspiring against the king. The details of this aren't explained unless you play the Warden's Keep DLC (just $7 and 10% of your immortal soul!), but that's just the way it goes. At least Bethesda had the decency to straight up LIE when they were accused of cutting out content for the purpose of turning it into DLC ("No, really! The Orrery wasn't cut out! We're serious!"), but these guys...yoiks. No shame at all. Are you surprised the DLC fits so seamlessly into the game? It's because it IS part of the game! It's just been omitted so you'll pay for the full experience.

Surely, Bioware is on their way to turn marketing into an art. No matter if you don't have the DLC installed, you still find this guy at the party camp who wants you to help him. If you decide to help him you're transferred to the DLC buying page. Of course you may choose to not help him and leave him alone but the guy won't budge. He will remain there, following your party everywhere until you actually buy the damn thing! It's the first case I know of a commercial proposal so shamelessly plugged directly within a game. You're tempted to give the guy money just to make him go away! It's also the first time that someone want me to help them and ask me money to do it. Good go Bioware, a true product of our society.

Anyway, the Grey Wardens are few in Ferelden, having only been granted access only twenty years previously by King Maric. As the story starts, you learn that Duncan, a senior Grey Warden, is not only looking for aid in the fight against the Darkspawn, he's also recruiting. And he thinks you, yes YOU, have potential. I guess you do. Maybe. But never mind that now. We have stuff to kill. Or be killed by. Whichever.


If It Doesn't Engage You In Conversation, Kill It

Most things want to kill you. At the very least, they wish you were dead. This is a distressingly true statement in real life, and it's just as true in the game. But rest assured that there are no [adherents to a religion known to have a distressingly large number of terrorists associated with it] here. Filthy rotten [aforementioned adherents].

On the fauna side of things, we have: wolves, bears, undead of various types, werewolves, dragons in small, medium, large, and VERY large, demons, wraiths, a couple of realistic-adjacent animals (bronto = rhino), a few made-up animals (deepstalkers), and even a few rats if you play as a human noble. Otherwise, you won't have to worry about fighting rats. Ever. Fighting *as* one, however...just wait'll you visit the mages.

Oh, there are dogs, too. Mabari warhounds, I mean. Your own warhound is smarter than any of your other companions. Hell, he has 50 IQ points on Morrigan, easy.

Let's not forget Ents malevolent possessed trees, tainted wolves, demon-possessed corpses, demon-possessed people,** a demon masquerading as a cat (DLC only), and so on.
[** I wonder how a demon would like it if a human possessed HIM, huh? I'd take total control over his every action...just to stand in line at the DMV. All day.]

Scenery props include regular animals such as cats, regular dogs, squirrels, goats, dead cows, an alleged butterfly or two, and halla, which are elvish (elven?) deer, I guess. No horses, though. Like that's a big surprise when it comes to Bioware's games.


Dragon Age: Origins


...And The Most Terrible Foe Of All:

The game itself. It hates you and wants you to die.


This Window Into A World You'd Never Wish To Enter

At the top left of the screen are the character portraits lined up vertically. Each one shows the face, health, and mana/stamina of each party member. Top middle is reserved for the various functions (Tactics, Journal, etc.). Top right is the map of the area. Bottom right is where the annoying Tool Tips pop up, much like that stupid paperclip in MS Word. Bottom left, covering the middle, is your quickbar. This is where you can stow shortcuts to your spells, talents, potions, etc.

That's essentially it for the HUD. You interact with the world mostly through a mouse pointer, which is far too small for anyone running at a good resolution. You can use the mouse solely to move, or you can use a combination of keyboard and mouse; if you want to move around like you're in a game that has a better interface, you need to hold down the right mouse button (assuming you're right-handed in this example) while steering with the mouse, and use the movement keys to actually move. Despite becoming second nature after extended use, it remains cumbersome and irritating, and it didn't do my mouse OR my wrist any good.**
[** Go ahead. Say it. There. Feel better now? Good. I hope you die.]


Remember: It's Not Technically "Murder" If They Beg You To Kill Them

Like anything worth something, this game has characters fleshing out the story.

...I'm not sure what that statement means. Not a friggin' clue. Moving on.

In this game you will find a menagerie of NPCs, some of them even worth engaging in conversation. Primarily though, you will be interacting with your party members more than anything, sometimes while naked.

...well...okay, you're all wearing underwear,** thanks to the legions of nervous mommies (fascist soccer moms!) and politicians (nutless douchebags!) who think that video games, not their saccharin parenting/brain-dead paranoia, is to blame for their kids going totally freuding bananas.
[** Because nudity is wrong and shameful in the eyes of whatever imaginary deity is currently in the lead.]

How about an overview of the characters? Because Odin knows that's easier than actually coming up with insights into a game featuring not only elves, but gay elves too. Okay, so he's bi. That doesn't change the fact that he's going to give you a reacharound at some point, which is mighty White of him.


Thankfully, not everyone or everything in the game wants to kill you, although you might feel like killing *them*; your companions, for example, aren't all out to get you. However, it's in your best interest -- on several levels -- to *keep* them friendly (through the use of gifts or encouragement, etc.), otherwise they might just pack up and leave. You might even have to fight a couple of them if your decisions aren't to their liking. For example, defiling a certain excessively-holy relic will cause the pious in your posse to turn on you; you'll be forced to kill them, thus depriving yourself of potentially useful meat shields helpers. It's best to make morally sound decisions...you know, if you like that sort of thing. Or you can be as evil as you want. They're not called "White" Wardens for a reason.

Lessee...there's Duncan, a senior Grey Warden who recruits you at the beginning of the game, no matter what your origin story. I liked Duncan a lot; I didn't think there was enough of him to go around, but then again...the story's all about YOU, isn't it? Selfish little bastard. I'd rather the entire story be about Duncan than you. I...I just can't look at you right now.

Dragon Age: Origins

[Long, tormented nap.]

Your first legitimate** companion, depending on your origin story, is Alistair. He was a Templar when Duncan recruited him into the Grey Wardens six months prior to your part in the story. He's a wisecrackin' ginger rascal with an infectious laugh. You have the ability to romance the hell out of him IF you are female. He makes a good tank, so max out his Strength and Constitution.
[** Ha! ...no, no...you'll see.]

If you play as a human noble, your first constant companion will be your Mabari Warhound (if not a human noble, you'll get the chance to add him to your party after a certain turning point in the plot), whose name is...up to you, really. This was a supremely nice touch on the part of the devs. I don't know about you, but I named my four-legged friend Dogmatix. He (or she?) is the only one in the bunch who loves you unconditionally no matter what, and no you can't have sex with the dog you sick freak.

But to console yourself, if you start as a human noble, you may have sex with a human male or an elf female (your gender doesn't matter so it's up to what suits you the most, really) early in the game a feature that none of the other origin stories have. I suppose that to the nobles go the spoils, as usual. There is definitely a bit of sex in this game (even more so if you donwload the good third-party mods) but as Zevran (another of your companions) would say: the Maker didn't give us these parts just to look pretty.

Speaking of bestiality, Morrigan is another companion you will pick up early on...after the aforementioned turning point from the above paragraph. Morrigan is a shape-changer, which makes the fact that you can (if male) romance her a decidedly uncomfortable prospect. Sure, she's all icy and cruel and maybe even a little bit evil...you know: total turn-on...but don't let that blind you to the horrible, horrible notion that out of whim or just plain meanness, she might decide to change into a giant spider at the worst possible moment.

All eight eyes glinting, mandibles chittering in demoniacal laughter as you helplessly spill your seed, screaming and screaming and screaming in horror, your mind forever shattered...

Oh, and she's a human apostate mage (a "Witch of the Wilds," so to speak), so you're going to want her in your party. Or so I'm led to believe. She dislikes just about every decision you make in regards to helping people ("Morrigan Disapproves -12" has become something of a tiresome meme...which is true of all memes, really), because she's a total pudenda.

Taller and thankfully more taciturn is Sten, a Qunari warrior. You'll find him in the first village you get to after recruiting Morrigan, and I can't say he's any more pleasant to have around than Morrigan at times. He questions your motives, your leadership abilities, and so on (even going so far as to attempt a mutiny if his opinion of you isn't high enough), but at least he has quite a few funny lines. Sten's another tank, but thanks to the insipidly SLOW nature of two-handed weapons, I'd suggest getting a respec mod that lets you turn his talents to something more useful, such as sword and shield or dual-wielding. Romance? You can't ask him to bang your gong no matter what, so I wouldn't worry about it.

Sten doesn't like helping people that much either, being a monomaniacal type (you recruit him to fight the Darkspawn and that's all he wants to do) in search of some form of atonement for his actions prior to your meeting. He will point out that certain decisions on your part are pointless and won't help defeat the Darkspawn...and damnably, the game is inflexible in this regard, not letting me retort, for example, that helping a certain person out will make our course of action easier.

Side Note: Some of my companions just aren't Big Picture people. Sten's the worst of the lot.

There's a difference between Sten and Morrigan though (aside the obvious) that is related to your character "coercion" skill (only the player has this skill as it is only intended for conversations). If your coercion is high enough you can often "persuade" Sten that the situation is not what he thinks or that a particular action can be necessary which will prevent loosing points with him and in some instance allow you to gain some. With Morrigan, your coercion level is of no use at all. You're confronted with her to an awful lot of no win situations where no matter what you say if you don't do as it pleases her, you'll loose points, period. It's not even open to discussion. Which is perfectly fine as it fits the "Me, Myself and I" character's personality. Her opinion is the only good one and the rest of the world is wrong.

On the lighter side of humanity (along with Wynne and Alistair), we have Leliana. Dear, Leliana. Sweet, delicious L...you get the idea. She's available for either male or female enjoyment, but I think it's only natural and good that my female character will lay with her beneath the moribund moon. By the fire. With a bunch of people watching HEY CAN'T WE GET A LITTLE PRIVACY HERE?!?

Side Note: "Share my tent" seems to be a metaphor, as I guess they couldn't get the camera in there. Dark, too. (And adding a night vision effect just turns it into a scene from Paris Hilton's only blockbuster hit.) So there you are by the fire, test-tasting and judging all that is Leliana's,** While I could see Alistair and Sten wandering around...yeesh.
[** With the first drop of your blood in her veins, I'll BET her face will be convulsed in mortal pain, what with your Darkspawn taint and all. Although I doubt you'll have the inclination to eat her corpse and thus turn into a Slipperman. But...my chocolate fingers smell like garlic. Why *is* that, brother John? Sure...don't answer. Why don't you and your honey pouch, which your slouch will wear very low, go play in the rapids?]

ANYWAY, Leliana is a bard from Orlais, which explains her accent. I've seen some backlash to the voice actress' accent, which is odd. She's French, providing a French accent, y'know. But what the hell do we Americans know about French accents? We think that they all sound like Pepe Friggin' Le Pew, for Azazel's sake.

Corrine Kempa did a very good job as Leliana (but I'm biased as Silver knows it). Being a dual language person (French/English) certainly helped although the accent there is very subtle. Another good example of a more pronounced French accent in the game although it is faked (but doesn't sound like it is) would be Arlessa Isolde in Redcliff. All other French accents in this game are hoplessly and blatantly faked... and worst they sound like being faked.

Your Mabari Warhound, [choose name], is four-legged fury. He (or she) is also the funniest of all the characters...well, everyone else's reactions to the dog makes him (or her) the funniest character. He's also handy to have in your group, considering that his Overwhelm ability is a useful weapon against bad guys, well-suited to the nickname of "mage-raper."

Wynne is, to put it bluntly, old. She's, like, 40 or something. She's all weary and aged, and doesn't hesitate to inform you of that fact in every frippiting conversation. She's also grandmotherly and can be quite annoying when you show some sort of confidence in your abilities. "Do not let your confidence blind you to your weaknesses, dearie. Want a cookie?" I switched her Ostacal with petrified rabbit doots... Anyway, she's a healer mage, which makes her quite useful.

Considering that you die quite a lot in Dragon Age even at the easiest difficulty setting, she's certainly the one companion you'll want to keep near.

Shale is a golem, available through the Stone Prisoner DLC. Shale's an excellent tank alternative, and keeps referring to you as "it." Could be worse.

Zevran is the bi elf who wants to give it to you SO HARD. He's also an assassin whom you meet in less than cordial circumstances. If you're not into funny smirking entendre-spewing elves, just kill him when you meet him.

By the way, these companions can be de-recruited through various means, leaving you just with the dog. (That is, only if you're a human noble; other origins can simply ignore the quest that would add him.)  Fine by me.

To Clarify, Sex

If you are male, you will have the chance to have sex with the following NPCs: Morrigan, Leliana, and Zevran.

If you are female, your choices are: Allistair, Leliana, and Zevran.

If you use certain mods, the field is wide open and you can pick and choose whomever you want. So I'd definitely go with the mods. Remember, I won't judge you...but that doesn't mean I won't laugh at you.


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