Warning: This article contains spoilers. I would, however, appreciate if you did not spoil anything beyond the point of the game that I discuss.

Areas spoiled: Orzammar, Carta Hideout, the Deep Roads

Previous articles: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Forty nine and a half hours into Dragon Age, and I have finally finished up the four main quests that started way back in Lothering all those weeks ago. I have secured the help of the Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and mages and am finally ready push out that slimeball Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir, and then take the fight to the dark spawn.

Along the way Fiona has crept up to level 18 and, in tandem with Morrigan, can dish out a nasty amount of damage while locking down ninety percent of the combatants on the field. The downside is that it doesn’t take a heck of a lot to kill her, and some of the tougher fights in the Deep Roads forced me to micromanage my mages to a new level in order to keep them alive.

Today’s post title, by the way, is courtesy of Oghren.

Into Orzammar

- If I had thought that the Elves and the Humans were nasty customers, then the Dwarves opened my eyes to the absolute depths to which a civilized race can sink in the Dragon Age world. Their caste system is brutal and unfair, with entire swathes of their race being treated as non-people by simple accident of birth.

- I absolutely loved the Dwarven lass, Dagna, who wanted to study with the Circle of Magi. Adorable. Given my distaste for the caste system, I took it upon myself to recommend her at the Tower despite her father’s rejection of her dream.

Fiona looking stoic

- The Orzammar storyline centers around choosing between two rivals for the throne of the underground kingdom. Harrowmont is a well-liked traditionalist who has an honest reputation, while Bhelen is the son of the previous king who is rumored to have killed both his brother and father. After speaking to the commoners and nobles I wasn’t sure who to side with, however a visit to Dust Town convinced me that getting Bhelen on the throne was the only chance to turn the draconian Dwarven system around. Even if Bhelen turns out to be a bastard, at least he represented change; Harrowmont, no matter how honest, believed that Orzammar’s social system was right and just and that felt completely wrongheaded. Bhelen earned my grudging support.

- While performing the Dwarven quests I made sure to gobble up all of the codex entries that appeared so that I could deal with the Dwarves from a position of knowledge instead of ignorance. On a few occasions this extracurricular research seemed to pay off, as Dwarves responded positively to an Elf knowing about their culture.

Decapitating the Carta

- Although I wanted to destroy the Carta – a gang of thugs that terrorize the denizens of Dust Town – immediately upon finding out about them, the game only allowed me to take a crack at them after an initial excursion into the Deep Roads at Bhelen’s request. This forced linearity grated a little bit in a game like Dragon Age.

- As per my normal pattern, I let Jarvia’s thugs live when I shook them down for information on how to infiltrate the Carta. I didn’t see them again, so I assume they decided to play it safe and not double-cross me.

- The corridors of the Carta hideout are narrow, and it is was under these conditions that I learned the power of casting Sleep with one mage, and following it up with Mass Paralysis. Since Sleep is instant cast and locks down most enemies in a hurry, which then allows the much more potent Mass Paralysis time to fire off.

- All in all the Carta, and Jarvia herself, were fairly trivial.

In search of Branka

- The final task required to put a Dwarven king on the throne is to locate the paragon Branka and win her support. Bhelen insinuates that if she is located but her support cannot be gained than killing her might be necessary. Upon hearing this I winced, but jotted a note down to do so if required.

Nearing the Anvil of the Void

- After receiving the quest I was accosted by Oghren, who had been a prick to me earlier. I gave him a rough ride in the dialog tree, but there didn’t seem to be a way to outright reject his help. I ended up benching Alistair for the entire Deep Roads expedition as a result.

- Along the way I decided to put together the demon in the “Asunder” quest, and since it didn’t seem overly aggressive I allowed it to go free. I scored a quick 25 gold for this flippant decision, and I’m interested to see if it comes back to haunt me.

- The Corrupted Spider Queen was the first real challenge I faced in the Deep Roads. She killed me twice before I finally managed to put her down. It was particularly challenging to crowd control the four spiders she periodically summoned before they tore apart my mages. The fight reminded me of a World of Warcraft raid, but on a smaller scale.

- When I met Ruck, the Dwarf driven mad by eating dark spawn flesh, I agreed to lie to his mother and tell her that he died a long time ago. I pitied the poor man, but he was still living in his own way, and so I allowed him to continue doing so.

- Speaking of tough fights, getting mobbed by eight shrieks is nasty business. I barely survived an ambush, with only Leliana up by the end of it. She seems to have a horseshoe wedged somewhere… she was the only survivor in the Flemeth battle too.

The Broodmother in all her nasty glory

- The fight with the Broodmother was intense. I died my first time through, and on my second attempt I survived with zero potions left. Ugh. The fight took a lot of micromanagement because I couldn’t allow anyone to stand near the tentacles, but I also couldn’t group party members up due to the constant AOE attacks from the Broodmother. The second wave of adds nearly did me in, and I had to blow a lot of CC just to have a chance. An extremely well done fight !

Dealing with a Paragon

- When I finally located Branka it was clear that she’d gone completely mad. I determined at that point that I’d have to kill her if the game allowed it, and I wouldn’t even feel bad about it.

- I stumbled into a strategy against the Spirit Anvil that felt a bit like an exploit. I had my party wait around a corner out of line of sight, pulled a single spirit with Leliana’s ranged attacks, killed it, and then clicked on the anvil when it lit up. Rinse and repeat. Doing this allowed me to avoid fighting multiple ghosts at once, which made the fight extremely easy. Did anyone else do it this way? If not, how tough did you find the battle?

- When I had to choose what to do with Caridin I found the decision excruciating. The Anvil of the Void was extremely powerful, but also malignant. In making my choice to destroy the Anvil I had a showdown with Morrigan, and I honestly expected it to end badly; I actually threatened her. In the end I only earned -1 approval which seemed weak considering the intensity of the conflict.

- The resulting fight against Branka was the hardest I’ve fought to date, and it took me four attempts to put her down. The biggest problem I had was that she could one-shot my mages, and so I had to be very aware of who she had aggro on, and if it was a mage I had to manually flee.

Crowning a King

- Caridin forged me a crown to give to the Dwarf of my choosing, and interestingly enough even that late into the adventure the game gave me the option of crowning Harrowmont.

- I stuck with Bhelen, and the idiot’s first order was for Harrowmont to be executed. I tried to convince him otherwise, but to no avail. He then started threatening the children of assembly members who didn’t vote for him. What an ass. Still, if Bhelen can change Dwarven culture to something less caste-driven then it won’t have been a total waste.

- As a final act in Orzammar I convinced the leader of the Legion of the Dead to fight topside during the final battle against the blight.

As an aside, when I got back to camp to talk to my allies, I was presented with the following absolutely inane dialog with Zevran. I’ve never tried to hit on the guy even once… but even if I had, option three is still juvenile:

“Is this after I ravish you in celebration?”

To the ladies out there…. is this something you say often to guys you work with?

Anyhow – I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here – I’m finally approaching the end game and I can’t wait!

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