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: Lothering, Redcliffe Village, Redcliffe Castle

Previous articles: 1, 2

Another week in and Fiona still looks the same, despite being up to 12 hours of play time. When I started these articles I was hoping to show the evolution of my character’s progression through the Bioware profile picture, however I’ve found that gear upgrades in Dragon Age Origins are few and far between. While I’ve been able to get Alistair into some heavy chain armor, the rest of my characters look much the same as when I picked them up and it’s starting to get under my skin. I’ve never been a loot whore, but I do like to get somewhat regular upgrades…. it probably doesn’t help that I’m still playing Torchlight, and that game showers loot on players for the smallest deed.

It is also worth pointing out that my Bioware profile is a few days out of date. The character pages claim to only lag an hour or two behind your progress, but nothing that I’ve done since Monday is displayed. It is a little bit frustrating.

Anyways – on to my experiences.

On Lothering

- Upon entering Lothering I found out that there was a bit of a ruckus going on in the local tavern, and like any good adventurer I couldnt’ help but poke my nose into it. Inside I was confronted by a number of Teyrn Loghain’s men who were hunting for Grey Wardens. I took the direct route and beat the hell out of them. Once subdued I was presented with the option of sparing their leader’s life, sending him back to Teyrn Loghain with a message, or killing him. Being more than a little miffed at the gall of the soldiers, I chose to kill him off, despite Leliana’s disapproval of the whole thing.

- As if one new party member (Leliana) wasn’t enough, I also decided to let Sten – the mysteriously murderous Qunari – out of his cage and allowed him to join the party. While I find the man far too emo for my liking, his back story intrigues me. I just can’t believe that he’d murder a whole family and then stick around to be captured. Sten’s been relegated to the camp site since I have no room in the party for him, but that suits me just fine for now.

- While running the quests in Lothering I seemed to constantly piss Morrigan off by accepting “goodie goodie” tasks. The woman just can’t seem to get it through her thick skull that sometimes doing a seemingly good deed is a means to a more selfish end.

- I don’t want to cooperate with the Chantry, however the plot keeps forcing me into it. I need to find a way to really betray them, and liberate mages everywhere. Hopefully the game will support long term scheming like this. I guess I’ll find out.

On Redcliffe Village

- Once done with Lothering, I traveled to Redcliffe. This seemed like a logical progression with Arl Eamon being sick.

- The quests in Redcliffe village center around preparing to repel a nighttime invasion by the undead who have showed up in the castle, and involved a frustrating amount of leg work. I was particularly annoyed with the village smith, who wouldn’t allow me to advance the storyline without promising to rescue his daughter. I damn near chose to kill the selfish bastard out of frustration; I wish the game had let me meet the assault without the smith’s help.

- I ran into my first game bug while in Redcliffe. I was able to suggest to Ser Perth that he use some oil that I found to help in the defense of the town….. except that I never found any oil. I think that it may have been hidden in the trapdoor that I located in the smithy, however I never opened the door to find out.

On the Undead Attacks

- I got my ass kicked – hard – the first four times that I tried to defend Redcliffe from the undead streaming out of the castle. This marked the first time that I ever had even the tiniest bit of trouble in Dragon Age.

- The first time I learned the hard way that fire burns. Alistair and Leliana happily engaged their enemies while engulfed in flames, which lasted about thirty seconds.

- The next three times I survived the initial waves of enemies – often without expending any potions – before dying trying to defend the docks. I simply ran out of health potions too quickly, and I had not stocked up on enough supplies to see me through the fight. Since I’m rarely saving, I didn’t want to lose any progress and so kept trying.

- I finally succeeded in defending the docks by ignoring the militia that were getting slaughtered by the camp fire (I couldn’t save them anyways), and immediately moving to the end of the docks where I could have my back to the water. Finally able to control where the enemies attacked me from and how many assaulted me at once, it was much easier to handle and I drove back the undead invasion.

- After the Redcliffe debacle I sat down and set up some tactics for my characters. Until that point I had been running with default templates modified only to add a “drink health potion” tactic.

On Redcliffe Castle

- With the village secured I moved to find out what was happening in the castle. Almost immediately I had to deal with Isolde, the Arlessa, who reminded me of a snake oil salesman. Despite my better judgment I allowed her to take Ban Teagan into the castle alone, but decided to sneak in through a secret passageway after they had left.

- Inside the castle the first person you meet (who doesn’t want to kill you) is Jowan – the blood mage that I thought was my friend in the mage tower. As you recall I wasn’t too happy with him, however I still let him out of his cell in order to keep him on a short leash.

- I seem to have developed a weird set of looting ethics. If I can use an item that I find in a barrel/drawer/chest then I take it, otherwise I leave it alone. It seems odd that a game like Dragon Age does not punish theft heavily – especially when done in front of people – but there you have it.

- While fighting in the castle I really started to finally feel like I was understanding the combat system, and perhaps even beginning to master it. I made good use of my environment, and positioned my characters in such a way that Alistair took the brunt of the attacks, while Fiona and Morrigan flanked him to use Cone of Cold in a wide arc (often through doorways) and Leliana backed everyone up with her bow. Crowd control was used strategically instead of preemptively, and I started focus-firing targets down. It felt good.

- When the dilemma of freeing Conner, Isolde’s demonically possessed son, presented itself I decided to allow Jowan to use blood magic to send me into the fade to battle the demon. This killed Lady Isolde (and pissed off Alistair mightily) but was consistent with my vision of Fiona, who really didn’t like Isolde.

- Inside the fade I was tempted to take up the lust demon on her offer to relinquish Conner’s soul in the short term by ultimately retain control, however I was worried that the decision would come back to bite me later in the game, and so I destroyed her. The fight against the demon was really well done, and I barely survived the encounter. Only my wide range of crowd control saw me though.

- When told that Jowan had been locked back up I didn’t put up too much of a fuss. He probably deserves to rot for a while, the weaselly little bastard.

Going forward
So now I’m caught up. I’m back at my campsite (tacky DLC and all) after defending Redcliffe, but the Arl is still sick. I have a quest to find The Urn of Sacred Ashes to cure him, but I’m not sure if that’s actually what I want to do first. I’ll have to mull over my options tonight.

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