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Dragon Age: Origins – Part II: Gathering the Clans November 16, 2009

Posted by emeraldsuzaku in Blog-along, Video Games.
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Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Whoo-boy. It was a busy weekend. In Ferelden, that is. I pretty much did nothing but laundry, some badly needed cleaning, and Dragon Age. Have I mentioned lately how good this game is? This game is good.

Let’s see. I cleared Redcliffe, including all the questing that involved, recruited the mages, and I cleared the Elves. You know, come to think of it, that doesn’t really sound like much. It’s funny, really. The game is so much fun, and really sucked me in, but there is so much to each segment that when I look back, it feels like I didn’t really get anywhere compared to the amount of time I spent.  I tried to figure out what was causing them to take so long, and I realized…I can easily spend 30+ minutes just talking to NPCs in a location. Since it feels like I’m actually having something of a conversation with them, I don’t even notice the time fly by. And then there’s the length of the dungeons. With all the encounters and occasional NPC interaction mixed in, those take hours. Plural. And of course that’s not counting the various party interactions and sidequests. Like sexing up Morrigan. Oh, you wild witch, you.

So, where to start. At the beginning, I suppose. That would make the most sense.

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, there was a massive battle, the Grey Wardens were all but annihilated, and we had been saved by a rather questionable witch of the wilds. Who gave us her daughter. Sweet. First stop, Lothering.

For a such a small town, there sure is a lot to do here. After dispatching the bandits (toll collectors…suuuuure….) , I checked out the town. Half the place was filled with refugees, and the other half wasn’t terribly happy about it. The first Chantry board of the game was here, which turned out to be an excellent source of income throughout the game. I picked up Leliana, a rogue, and she is still a staple in my preferred party. Her affinity for opening things people would prefer to keep locked has been very helpful—and has the added benefit of free party experience. Win/win! I initially started to stress the archer route with her, but then I had a change of heart (mostly because she couldn’t keep her nose out of melee combat) and refocused her into a basic rogue with a touch of dual-wielding. I also came across a caged gentleman with a wonderful sense of humor, and I just couldn’t pass up the chance to free him and take him into my service. Of course, as it turned out, pretty much everything I did pissed Sten off, so I replaced him at the earliest opportunity…some hours later. So I did some questing, ran around the Chantry, recruited a couple of party members, and drove off roving bands of bandits, bears, and spiders. All for the greater good and pocket change, you understand. After I was finished in Lothering, I decided that my next step should be Redcliffe. Oh, boy.

The events surrounding Redcliffe are a rather lengthy series of quests, and the fact that I elected to head there first added another whole thing. But more on that later. The people in Redcliffe seemed rather cranky, but then so would you if you were subject to undead invasion every night. The first step was to recruit a handful of villagers to defeat the undead horde (and a horde they were). That was easily accomplished with some promises and spare silver. Then the actual undead incursion started. It consisted of fighting off two waves of enemies. (Unless, of course, you leave the village after starting to gather the villagers, but before initiating the defense. In which case it happens without you. That was actually cool. Then I reloaded.) The first wave wasn’t too bad, but the second prompted me to switch the game over to Easy difficulty. It turns out that it is indeed very possible to horribly screw up spell and weapon selection as a mage. I ended up not being able to do jack to the undead critters. Luckily the easier difficulty fixed that. The village defense was followed shortly by a castle assault of my own, which went pretty well. Things got a bit hairy in the courtyard when I had to fight a revenant and a horde of archers and other undead baddies, but I pulled through.

It was interesting to see that Jowan poisoned the arl. I wonder who it is in the other origins…maybe some character specific to each of them? I released him from his cage (much to Alistair’s disapproval). When given the choice, I decided not to attack the boy, or kill Isolde and enter the Fade that way, much as that latter offer was tempting. Instead I went to the Circle to ask for help. Which brings us to…

…the Circle of Magi event(s). Redcliffe got to be put on hold for a while so I could spend a day dealing with that freaking place. I did get Wynne early on (buh-bye, Sten!), and then proceeded to fight my way up the tower. Not much of any remark happened until near the top, but the sheer amount of papers and notes I came across that relayed the plot was awesome. I eventually reached the Sloth demon (who didn’t even make mention that we had met earlier. Shame on him! Unless he was a different Sloth demon. Possible, I suppose.)  The Fade portion was both ludicrously fun and a royal pain in my arse. Not playing with a walkthrough, I didn’t do the areas in anything resembling the “proper” order, so the golem was the last form I got. It was really cool morphing into different spirits to navigate my way and defeat the various bosses and such, but all the backtracking was horribly annoying. The whole thing culminated in a boss fight that started me thinking that maybe I wasn’t doing it right, as the demon kept changing forms, but I finally got it down. Though, not until after realizing just how awesome massive AoE spells would be in my hands.

So,  a couple of hours later I was out of the Fade and was able to finish the tower. Despite all pleas to the contrary I did not in fact kill everything in the Harrowing chamber, tempted as I might have been. Nor did I succumb to Uldred’s temptations, even though I thought it may unlock the Blood Mage specialization. No , I played the white knight and killed all the bad guys while leaving the innocents standing. Then I traipsed on down to the first floor and secured assistance for Redcliffe. Yay.

Before I left I also ran through the summoning rituals in the library and the common room upstairs. I don’t recall if I got anything nifty out of them, but the quests were done. The statue puzzle in the common room(s) was particularly arcane.

So, back to Redcliffe. Using the lyrium from the mages I popped into the Fade and rescued Connor. I was very tempted to trade the kid’s soul for the Blood Mage specialization, but I declined. Now I’m kicking myself, but whatever. I’ll pick it up for Morrigan next time around or something.

Of course, the arl still needed saving, so queue yet another (lengthy) quest chain. This one sent me seeking an urn of dead lady ashes. After a brief pit stop at Denerim for information, I was off to the village of Haven, which appeared to be a set piece for Siren or something. Very spooky, and the bloody altar didn’t help. I ended up having to battle my way through a bunch of cultists until I reached the revered father running the thing, who in turn tried to convince me that they weren’t all bad. Leliana wasn’t having any of it, so I killed the bastard. What can I say? The boobs made me do it. One NPC rescue later I was on my way to a huge temple where the ashes were supposed to be. Several hours, another failed coercion attempt, and some drake scales later I reached the peak of the mountain. Wow, is that ever a big dragon. Dang. I’ll have to come back to that. The “Gauntlet,” as the structure at the top of the mountain was called, beckoned me, so I had a nice spot of tea with the guardian inside. Then I went forth to be tested, which was fun. I like the rhyming riddles in this game. They amuse me. The one sticking point was a bridge puzzle, but after drawing the whole thing out on a piece of paper it started making sense and passing that section was made simple. I made it to the end and claimed the urn. Yay. On the way out I swatted the dragon kicking around and skinned it.

I made it back to Redcliffe with minor incident, but I also picked up a new party member. Zevran (which makes me think of Zathras every time) is an amusing fellow, but not very useful at picking locks, which meant that Leliana was staying. Sorry, buddy. In the end the arl was cured, and Jowan was packed off to the Circle. Yay, and stuff. Now the arl wants an escort to Denerim. I think I’ll do the Elves next, actually. Thanks, anyway.

The Dalish clan, much like the Circle Tower, was comprised of two main adventuring areas—the forest, and some old ruins. Also much like the Circle Tower, it took for-freaking-ever. But this time there were werewolves. Which made it cool. After the usual NPC interrogations I wandered into the forest, disturbed some revenants for their armor, returned an acorn to a giant tree who sounded like an ent from Lord of the Rings, and found some werewolves holed up in some ruins. Naturally I wanted to root them out. I fought my way through the wolves at the front gate and proceeded with an absolutely enormous dungeon crawl. Literally every time I thought I’d reached the end, there was another floor. But I did get the Arcane Warrior specialization out of the deal, so it wasn’t all bad. In the end I sided with the cute nekkid spirit chick, there was a shiny lightshow, people died, and the curse was lifted. The Dalish were free to join the alliance. Yay!

That was pretty much all the plot I went through over the weekend. I did do some other sidequesty stuff—mostly Chanters boards and random bits for the Irregulars. I did also get two sets of drakescale armor, as well as Superior Dragonbone Plate. Morrigan has been “slept” with (anyone else find it odd that she actually put a bra on just for that occasion? Does she carry one in her purse just in the event of sex? Is it a magical witch condom?), Leliana is up to a bit over 90 affection, Alistair is in the 70s or 80s, and everyone else is meh. Wynne is a bit friendly, but my tryst with Morrigan pissed her off a bit so she periodically disapproves.

Speaking of Wynne, keeping her around opened up a series of plot points that were really quite cool. And got me something spiffy. Also, her interactions with Alistair when I’m just wandering (or anyone’s interactions with Alistair, really) are absolutely hilarious (it’s a sock)!

At the moment I have the humans, elves, and mages behind me, a bit over 100 gold in the bank, and 100 inventory slots. My next step will either be Orzammar or Denerim. Probably Orzammar. I’ve put in something over 35 hours at this point, and I don’t see finishing in less than another 10-15 or more. I’m thinking this is easily a 60-hour game. I do still have some sidequests hanging out there, but only time will tell how many I actually do. I’m not doing the assassination ones by choice, and at this point I’m taking the rest as the opportunities present themselves. We shall see.

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