As part of my research, I’m going to be doing some autoethnography – meaning I’ll include some story about what I do and how I play games. This won’t be the only methodology I’ll use, that would be pretty boring, but if I’m going to research and write about games, I’m going to play them. Still sorting out which games, but for now, I’ll just make these posts on my gameplay of random ones.
Turn back now if you don’t want spoilers!
So this post is about Dragon Age: Origins with my Elf Mage, Neria. This was my first playthrough of Dragon Age. I won the game from EA Australia a while back and never got round to actually playing it. I started because A) I stopped playing WoW and suddenly had a whole lotta spare time on my hands (and starting nail polish art wasn’t fully filling the time) and B) I read part of an article about how you can have romances in the game and I decided I wanted one! This definitely influenced my gameplay, as you can tell below.
As you can tell, mages are not well-liked in this game. It was through the mages abuse of power that created the darkspawn, and mages are easy prey to be taken over by demons. So I knew I wasn’t going to be particularly liked, also because I chose an Elf, which in this game elves have been slaves of humans for a millennia. I tried to played her as kind, with a rare sense of humour, but also cunning and persuasive (a skill chosen) as the majority of her dialogue options. I rarely chose an aggressive option. She was kind-hearted, but knew the world would not return the gesture, so when required she would push for her own way.After the harrowing, the first major decision to be made was whether to help another apprentice, Jowan, who was warned by his (forbidden) lover that, as he had not gone through the harrowing, he was deemed a risk of being possessed by demons and thus was due to be made Tranquil – a process which strips mages of all power and individuality. As the game set up him as my friend, I started to trust him. I met another who had already been made Tranquil, a mere shell of a man who organised the storerooms. So I decided to help Jowan, although he kept asking for more help, more things that were not just frowned upon but hugely dangerous. Alas! My naivety led me into this, and I had to play it through. He was revealed as a blood mage, one of the most sinister types of mages that gives demons too much sway. He escaped, leaving his lover and I to face the consequences.Although my actions had unbound a blood mage upon the world (he could have still been taken if his phylactery was intact, but we had already destroyed that), the Grey Warden Duncan recruited me to fight the Blight in Ostagar.
When we reach Ostagar, King Cailan himself greets us. He is confident that it’ll all be over soon, that it isn’t even a true Blight, but Duncan warns that he believes this is only the start of the attack and that an archdemon is behind this all. I’m then told to introduce myself to Alistair, who is sassing up some mage. I immediately like him for his sense of humour – but I’m not ready to make a decision about who I will romance yet (I knew from the article that he was a potential lover).
I was then inducted through a secret ritual, known only to the Wardens themselves. This was attended by Duncan and Alistair. The ritual involves tainting ourselves with the darkspawn blood, giving us abilities and strengths to fight against them. Few survive the ritual, and the two men who were training with me died – one to the taint, the other tries to run in fear, but is killed. After taking of the blood, I have a vision of darkness.The battle at Ostagar was a disaster, and I had no major decisions to make. The king’s man, Loghain, abandons the battlefield, leaving the king to die and southern Ferelden to be overtaken by darkspawn.
We were saved by the Witch of the Wilds, Flemeth, and her not-so-willing daughter Morrigan. Seeing as Morrigan was voiced by the epic Claudia Black, I’m all ‘hells yeah!’ when Flemeth (voiced by the awesome Kate Mulgrew) offers her as a fighting companion.
I was tossing up – maybe I should romance her … maybe I should romance both of them … and then my friend who had already played the Dragon Age series before broke my heart and told me Morrigan wasn’t bi. I imagine she would have been very fun to romance! I liked Alistair, but I still wasn’t ready to make a decision. Romance is a serious thing, okay!
Anyway, a quest I’d done earlier to save a Mabari war hound proved useful – this little fellow found me and joined me as a companion. I named him Piffleflop!We passed through Lothering, heading up towards Redcliffe to talk to Arl Eamon about what happened. There were a number of options after Lothering. From the quests at Ostagar and meeting Flemeth, I had old treaties between the Grey Wardens, and the elves, dwarves, humans and the Circle. I was told I should use those to form an alliance to fight back the Blight, but stopping by the Arl seemed the most important step first. Alistair seemed to think he’d be super helpful, more than the others, and be able to fight back against Loghain’s control of the human kingdom – and that Alistair knew him personally.
I keep having nightmares, such terrible visions – the archdemon perhaps?I found out after my game that I completely missed two new companions in Lothering, Sten (unromanceable) and Leliana (bi-sexual). I’m getting used to Alistair around this point in the game and falling for him: he is sweet, but his sarcasm and humour sets off his innocence.
Morrigan, Piffleflop, Alistair and I push on up to Redcliffe village. Alistair then reveals to me that the Arl raised him because he was really the previous king’s bastard, and half brother to Cailan. I mean, Alistair was already hot, but now with a tortured backstory? I’m sold.So anyway, the Arl is on his deathbed for some unknown reason and the castle has been locked up tight. We clean up the village from darkspawn, since there’s no help from the main castle but Bann Teagan – Eamon’s younger brother -, then get approached by the Arlessa Isolde, wife of Eamon. Something is really wrong … so Teagan (below) goes off with Isolde alone to return to the castle, and I sneak up to the castle through the hidden passage in the mill. And who do we find in the castle basement prison? My old mate Jowan. I don’t listen to anything he says this time and I kill him, much to the disapproval of both Morrigan and Alistair.
Up at the keep, it seems the Arlessa knew that her son, Connor, had magic. She didn’t want him to be taken away, so she hired an apostate mage – Jowan – to train him. Unfortunately, Jowan also poisoned the Arl at the behest of Loghain. Connor tried to do everything to save his father, but his lack of magical know-how means he was easily possessed and controlled by a demon. I had a decision to make – to leave him and approach the Circle for help or to kill him. While playing, I though that there wouldn’t be time to go to the Circle, that the demon would be more powerful by the time I returned, so I chose the latter. Yeah. I killed a kid. Turns out, I could have gone to the Circle and saved him. The Arlessa wasn’t happy.
Only one thing would save the Arl now, and that was the urn of sacred Andraste. Most considered this a mere myth, a fairytale, but Isolde believed. She had sent out knights previously on a futile mission to find it. But there was a man who had been actively researching the urn, in Denerim – the capital city of Ferelden and where Loghain was.
We’d already been warned in Lothering that Loghain had blamed the battle loss on the Grey Wardens, and that any survivors were to be hunted – meaning Alistair and I. Loghain surely knew of Alistair’s true parentage, and would consider him a threat. When we got back to camp after this, Alistair was pissed at me for killing Connor, but calming him down and then a few flirts restored my standing with him. He wasn’t mine yet, but he was getting fond. And so was I.
Stay tuned for part two, where we follow Neria through her adventures in gathering an army to defeat the blight and the Archdemon, and her blossoming romance with Alistair.