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: Honnleath, Morrigan’s personal quest, Brecelian Forest, Brecilian Ruins

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

Ah Christmas: a time of family, friend, food, and video games. One of my big goals over my two week Christmas break was to make substantial progress in Dragon Age Origins, and so far I’ve done a worse job with that than I had wanted to. If anything, Fiona has received less play time over the past two weeks than she would have if it were a normal work week.

Whining aside, I did manage to bust through a fair number of side quests, as well as the entire Brecilian Forest/Dalish Elves story arc, which has to count for something.

My playtime is now up to 37.5 hours according to my save file, and the game is still retaining a fresh and fun feel to it. A lot of times I’ll be chomping at the bit to finish an RPG by the forty hour mark, however with Dragon Age I have a sneaking suspicion that my hunger for this game will not be sated by a single completion.

My starting party for these adventures was Fiona, Morrigan, Leliana, and Alistair. Random thoughts follow.

Honnleath

- I decided that my first stop would be the village of Honnleath, home of Shale the DLC/pre-order golem companion character.

- Upon arriving at the outskirts of the village I was immediately assaultde by a wave of Darkspawn. Clearly something was awry, and I had barely beat off the first cluster before running headlong into another pack of the vermin. It was going to be one of those days.

- Shale was petrified in the town square, and the activation rod that I received from the merchant didn’t work at all. There was, however, a building to explore and so in I went. Dozens of Darkspawn later I found some survivors holed up behind a magical barrier.


Shale

- A little girl had gone missing, and in order to get the proper activation word from one of the survivors I had to save her. Go figure.

- The quest to save the little girl was actually pretty amusing. A lust demon disguised as a cat had the tyke enthralled, and the game allowed me to fast talk my way into a situation whereby I could kill the kitty-demon without harming the girl. It probably helps that I have all of my social skills maxed out.

- While doing the slide puzzle quest (ugh), the game bugged out on me and lost track of where the tiles actually were. The result was frustrating random clicking to arrive at the solution, since I could not see the results of my actions on the screen. I dislike slide puzzles at the best of times, and loathe buggy ones. Bad Bioware, bad!

- In the end I recruited Shale, and replaced the perennially-whiny Alistair with him. (After a few hours of dragging the golem around, I’m not so sure that it’s an upgrade – I have an unfunny smart-ass in my party instead of a wussy baby. Gah.)

Morrigan’s Personal Quest

- Somewhere along the way I found Flemeth’s grimoire, and gave it to Morrigan as a gift. This triggered an optional side quest in which it is revealed that Morrigan’s mother (Flemeth) unnaturally extends her life by possessing her daughters when her body is too old to continue.

- Since I have a thing for Morrigan (and her outrageous outfit), I decided that the only viable option open to me was to kill Flemeth, and so off I went to her hut in the marsh. When I confronted Flemeth she offered to give me her true grimoire as proof of her death, if in exchange I would lie to Morrigan. I decided that just wouldn’t do, and attacked.

- Unfortunately a sloppy podcaster had spoiled what happened next for me – Flemeth shifted into dragon form and proceeded to beat the ever-loving crap out of my party. Ouch.

- After a humbling defeat I changed my party around a little: Fiona, Rascal the Mabari hound, Shale, and Leliana made up the second assault.

- My second attempt on Flemeth went much better, but it didn’t take long for my lack of a dedicated healer to make itself felt. One by one my characters dropped, and it was only through some frantic clicking that I kept everyone alive long enough to injure Flemeth to the point where Leliana, as the only survivor, could deal the killing blow. Yikes.


Too close for comfort

Dangerous Travel

- After the fight I had ZERO healing potions remaining, and no components to craft more. This left me in the precarious position of needing to travel somewhere to buy Elfroot.

- Another (minor) spoiler I’d heard was that the Dalish elves stocked Elfroot, and so off to the Brecilian Forest I went, hoping not to encounter any random battles.

- Of course, as fate would have it I ran straight into the teeth of an ambush designed to kill Leliana. My party was killed on my first attempt. I tried to power my way through, not realizing that mages were involved, and that proved fatal.

- On my second attempt I spotted the assassin leader on the ridge above me, and so tossed out two Mass Sleep spells to pacify everything in the area, and then proceeded to burn him down. This turned out to be an excellent tactic: reducing the leader to zero health triggered the end of the battle. Like I usually do, I spared hiss life, and then continued on to the forest.

Dalish Encampment

- Upon arriving at the Dalish encampment and being introduced to the main story line there my reaction was: Werewolves?!? Really?!? It seemed so cliché, and I was prepared to be disappointed by a one dimensional plot. Boy was I wrong.

- I accepted all of the side quests from the elves except for Cammen’s whiny appeal for a wolf pelt to help him get a lady.

- Lanaya, the apprentice Keeper of the Dalish, struck me as extremely bipolar. Within a two minute timespan she went from friendly to hostile and then back again. My crime in her mind: accidentally clicking on a chest twice.

- I respected the Dalish chests and other lootables, and only picked the herbs in the camp. When I got to the vendor I went wild buying potions and crafting components.

Brecilian Forest

- Into the forest I went, and started slaying wolves, werewolves, and bears. Everything was going well until I stumbled across my first Wild Sylvan. I killed the tree-beast, but it startled the hell out of me.

- Along the way I found Danyla, the elven woman that I’d been asked to be on the look out for. Danyla had been turned into a werewolf and begged me for death, and also to conceal the nature of her fate from her husband. I obliged, and when I returned to Athras I lied about what had happened to his beloved. It was a very touching and heartfelt quest.

- The quest involving the Grand Oak Tree and the mad man was amusing. I allowed both to live, and instead traded for the acorn from the hermit in order to obtain the bark from the tree. Both NPCs were very well written and well voiced.


The Grand Oak Tree

- I disrupted all of the grave sites I came across in order to obtain the Tevinter artifacts. The grave site on the hill above the old oak tree was particularly nasty, and I died a few times before finally pulling out a win.

Brecilian Ruins

- The ruins continued the type of action that I had come to expect from the forest, with some spiders thrown in for good measure. My ample crowd control more than made up for my lack of healing, and I powered through most trash mobs without needing to quaff a single potion.

- I should take a minute to gush over how much I love Leliana’s rogue abilities. When exploring I usually control her so that I can detect any traps before blundering into them, and discover secret doors. It also makes it simple to loot as I go, since I can (finally) unlock every chest without needing to switch characters.

- When the dragon appeared I was initially scrambling to set my party up for a nasty battle, but the beast proved to be a push over. Sad.

- I released the Arcane Warrior from his prison, and learned the specialization. Fiona is now an Arcane Warrior, although she has none of the skills learned so far.


Using chain-CoC on a Revenant (cheesey but effective)

- I also solved the elven ritual in the ruins. I made a mistake on my first attempt, which was easily corrected by using a (rare) reload. From my notes: (1) get the jug from the fountain an fill it, (2) put the jug on the alter, pray, and then take a sip, (3) empty the jug back into the fountain. Behind the doorway that opened I tried to be respectful and talk to the spirit there, but was attacked anyways. I’m not sure if there is a “right” way to deal with her, but I didn’t try beyond my first attempt.

- When I finally ran into the werewolves again I chose to parlay with the Lady of the Forest. After speaking with her, I decided to bring Zathrian to speak with the werewolves and (hopefully) lift the curse.

- Zathrian proved to be stubborn, and when I tried to force him to be reasonable he decided to attack me. The resulting fight went well, with only Leliana dying in the middle of the melee. I had Morrigan lock down Zathrian with whatever CC she could muster (usually Cone of Cold), while Fiona tried to control everything else.

- In the end Zathrian lifted the curse on the werewolves, who frustratingly left without rewarding me or offering me their help. Perhaps when the final battle comes they will resurface – we’ll see.


The Lady and her flock

- When I returned to the Dalish encampment with news of what had occurred I decided to lie to Lanaya about Zathrian’s involvement with the curse, and instead led her to believe that he acted heroically. Total horse manure, but as I said earlier, she’s bipolar and unpredictable.

And that is that. My next destination will be Orzammar, which I have heard is the hardest of the four major quests.

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