Bad Gamer Part 6: What Happens If You Play Through Dragon Age: Inquisition Like A Total Jerk?
Bad Gamer is a new series following one woman as she tries to play her way through RPGs as the biggest asshole possible. Mild spoilers for the first few hours of DAI follow. Check out Parts 1-5 here.
After consulting the council (thanks everyone who voted!), I decided it’s best to side with the Templars—or, at the very least, to ask them for their help.
We still should do something with those Mages at Redcliffe though, so I offer my support to Vivienne to put them back in their Circles, perhaps even with the Chantry. If they can’t be trusted not to make idiotic alliances and allow the Tevinter Imperium to take over and play around with temporal magic, then they ought to be watched over. Protected from harm. Vivienne needs me to recover some books before the Circles can be restored, which I plan on doing just around the time when I manage to gather enough people together to close this bloody breach. Maybe we can fix all of this before the Mages cause too much trouble.
I don’t want to work with the Templars. I just want the breach closed as soon as possible. So when the council offer me a few different approaches, I opt for putting the Templars on a leash. Making them do our bidding, especially after the ludicrous display by the Lord Seeker at Val Royeaux, is the best way to ensure we can move forward without too much idiocy getting in our way. Josie, Cassandra and Leliana decide they’ll need noble houses’ support so the Lord Seeker can’t refuse obeying the Inquisition but they also demand I be there to lead them. I don’t care either way, but I think the Lord Seeker’s display at Val Royeaux has more than suggested his total indifference to Andraste’s Herald. Cullen agrees. We need the Templars, not the Lord Seeker.
So, off we go to Therinfal Redoubt.
When we arrive, ten Orlesian noble houses have gathered together to help support out petition to the Lord Seeker. A petition he has agreed to hear. One of the noblemen, Esmeral Abernache, approaches Vivienne as we enter and reminds her of their previous meeting at a Summer Ball. She remembers alright, though I’m not sure for the same reasons Abernache does. It’s pretty funny and I try not to smirk as he turns to me to ask if I’d like to “mark the occasion”. Pompous bloody nobles. I ask if he’d like an overblown speech. That gets me a bit of a stare, and then we’re off up the hill.
Abernache is surprised that the Lord Seeker has made such a fuss about seeing the Inquisitor in person—that after his little “spat” in Val Royeaux something must have changed his mind or got his attention. I haven’t heard anything of the sort, truth be told. Abernache tells me that the Chantry didn’t utilize the Templars as much as they needed to, and that wiser people ought to steer them. If he was anymore transparent about this kind of suggestion I’d fall over from the shock of it. If he wants me to consider having the Inquisition take control of them, it’s an idea worth thinking about. I make a note to bring it up after we’ve cleared this initial hurdle, and go to meet the Templar ambassador outside of Therinfal Redoubt’s gates.
There are a few gathered Templars who either offer their support or who suggest I need to be tested, but I ignore them and greet the Ambassador, Knight-Templar Barris. Barris isn’t really impressed by our show of power—by us bringing so many noble families. Until this moment, he says, the Lord Seeker refused to acknowledge the breach. He doesn’t think it makes sense. I’m inclined to agree, but then when does anything ever make sense? The Lord Seeker promised the Templars he’d restore their honour, but all they’ve done so far is retreat and do nothing. Barris knows his responsibilities. They can’t hide away from them forever, a fact which has Vivienne mildly reassured. Barris tells us to win over the Lord Seeker and then every Templar-Knight will lend their help to seal the breach. No small task. I tell him to join us right now if he’s that sure he wants to help seal the breach. He can’t abandon his orders and the Officers still following them.
Before we can see the Lord Seeker, he has a task for us to perform. It’s a ritual, of sorts, designed to reveal to him what a person honours the most and in which order. The flags on the wall must be raised in order—from most honoured to least honoured—and I can’t help feeling that this is some sort of trap. I refuse to do the ritual and demand to be taken to the Lord Seeker. No more bloody games.
Barris leads us to the Lord Seeker, though he’s not really happy about it. While we wait inside, Knight Captain Denam arrives and tells us he has been sent to die. That I’m the reason why everything has to be moved ahead. I’ve no idea what he’s referring to and ask Barris what’s wrong. When Barris questions him, the Knight Captain reveals all of the Templars should have been changed before they moved ahead—that now they’d have to get rid of the questioning ones. Several corrupted Knights with red tendrils beneath their skin attack and kill most of the gathered representatives before I can even take a breath. We’ve been blindsided. Trapped. The Knight Captain warns us that the Elder One is on the way and that we’ll all pay. We kill the Knights and start fighting our way through the Redoubt to get to the Lord Seeker. We find him standing at the top of a staircase, his back to us. When he turns, all he does is grab Emone and pull her into a bright light.
At first I think I’ve been dragged into the Fade, but then the world settles around me. It’s like something out of a horror movie. The green fog filtering across the floor, the fact that I’m alone, oh—and the bodies burnt beyond recognition across the hall. Fuck this place. This was such a blatant trap. Urgh! I don’t know who I’m angrier with: my council for insisting I be here, or me for agreeing with them. A voice whispers, though I do not know if I am simply hearing things or if there really is someone else here.
Cullen, Leliana and Josie stand motionless at the very end of the hall. Leliana speaks with a strange echoing voice and I know there’s something very wrong. She’s being controlled by a demon. When she puts a blade to Cullen’s throat, I resist the urge to roll my eyes. If this demon was going to do it, it’d have done so already. Not wait for me to arrive. Such theatrics. But then she does slit his throat. Oops. The demon jumps to Josie, who tells me part of the plan, it unwittingly. Rule of thumb: always let opponents talk. They’ll reveal all. The Elder One’s supposedly meant to come to back to Thedas some how and will then let the demon control my body. The demon can’t wait. It will be much more exciting than being the Lord Seeker. Aha! That explains his strange behaviour and his sudden obsession with me. Must I really do everything around here though? Mages being idiots at Redcliffe. Templars being idiots at Therinfal Redoubt. Idiots everywhere! Spare me.
The demon isn’t happy that I’m bored by the Elder One’s plan. It can hardly blame me: it’s utterly conceited. Demon!Josie steps out and in steps Demon!Cullen. As an aside, thank god I didn’t cause his death as there’d be a few people after my innards. He reveals I’m dealing with an Envy Demon. He conjures a double image of Emone and demands to know me so it can fill the husk with an accurate version.
I have to find a way out. This is really trippy. I go past scenarios with my double in states of trouble or in control. Images from a possible future. My demon-double shows me what could happen, what its plans might be with my body. Basically it’s more power, more strength, more death. I’d be mildly impressed if I weren’t so pissed off and confused. More theatrics follow, during which the demon declares its Inquisition would be far greater. I end up stepping into a room. The demon snarls at me and tells me to get out but I can’t figure out why. I can’t do anything here, or so I think. When I go to the door to leave, another voice stops me. He tells me he wants to help me, not help the Envy Demon. I’m curious, but I’m also not stupid. I tell him I’m not fooled by this obvious trap. But then he speaks again, tells me his name is Cole. I turn to find him standing on the ceiling. He’s just a boy. He speaks in riddles, but I can still get the gist of the conversation: that he really does want to help me. Cole tells me he’s been watching everything. He watched as the Templars became corrupted by the Lord Seeker. He reached out when the Envy Demon began to try and take my “face”, which is how he ended up in here too. Like a stowaway in my head.
I ask Cole how we got out. He doesn’t know—it’s my head. We’re in my head? Cole suggests that we keep pushing through my head in an effort to tire the Envy Demon into submission. This is crazy, but I suppose it’s worth a try. We run through the halls of my mind, through more scenarios of me acting like a total bitch. I must admit my double looks confident and in charge, and I kind of like it. I may even be taking a few notes. Overall this is just basically a labyrinth of “what ifs”, of friends and allies locked up or worse for not towing the line. I don’t know if I could ever be this evil, but if it meant I’d be all powerful. If everyone would obey my every word? Wouldn’t it be worth losing a few insignificant friends? Cole and Emone slowly wear the Envy Demon down and annoy it. I retrace my steps through the Redoubt in my head and return to the top of the steps where I was first ambushed by the Envy Demon.
My double and I struggle for a moment at the top of the stairs. Emone doesn’t really know what the demon could gain from being me. Personally, I think it would’ve been far more powerful had it taken on the guise of Empress Celene than Emone. I’m the Herald of Andraste, but I’m not all powerful (yet). The Envy Demon scoffs, as if I’m just a naive child who can’t see my potential but I take that moment to push it back. We both leave my mind and the Envy Demon falls through the door. It’s as if no time has passed at all. I quickly tell Barris about the Lord Seeker being replaced by the Envy Demon. Before we can dispatch the demon, Barris realises that the red lyrium has caused all of this. That the Commanders were corrupted by it first so their orders would not be questioned. I conclude that it is the order itself who has made this possible. To be able to lead without question is dangerous, particularly when those below you can sense something is wrong. Barris vows to fix everything. He tells me to find any uncorrupted Templar Veterans and to bring them to the hall to defeat the Envy Demon’s barrier. In one room I encounter Cole who reveals that the Elder One wants Empress Celene though he’s hidden the reason why.
Once we’ve rescued and brought back the three veteran Templars, they and Barris gather in a group in front of the Envy Demon. While they break the demon’s barrier down, we watch their backs. We do our part, they do theirs, and then we’re off to confront the Envy Demon, which is an ugly looking fucker. No wonder its an Envy Demon! I’d be envious of others if I looked like that. We destroy it fairly easily and turn back to the Great Hall only to find several nobles and Templars waiting to greet us. Abernache has survived and hopes his losing his mind during the earlier attack won’t affect out ongoing relationship. I tell him he can serve us and the Inquisition. To be honest, I’m too tired and covered in blood to really care what I say to him, but I just know Josie’s going to give me an earful later for being so ungracious.
Barris is sorry that so many of the Officers were idiotic enough not to question those who had become corrupt. He asks what the Inquisition would have them do. I need their help with the breach of course. Barris doesn’t
know what they’ll do now that they have no leaders. I tell him the Templars can yield to the Inquisition and serve us. It’s obvious they need a guiding hand and we could do with the extra manpower. For now. The Templars are disbanded. The Inquisition is stronger than ever.
When I return to the war table, Cullen’s pissed that I made the decision to disband the Templars on my own. He’s just annoyed he didn’t have the balls to do it himself, and frankly I didn’t really have time to hold a committee meeting post battle with the Envy Demon. During the meeting, Cole suddenly appears on the table out of thin air. Cullen and Cassandra immediately draw their swords and run to my side to protect me, which is both weird and wonderful. I tell Cole to get off the table. I mean, honestly, can’t he just act normally for once? We were in the middle of business plans! He echoes his earlier statements. He wants to stay and help the Inquisition. While he seems like a handful, he did help me with the Envy demon, so I think he can be trusted. No one is really pleased by my decision to let him stay, but fuck it. I just want to crawl into bed. They didn’t have to crawl through their own minds. I did.
Before I can go to bed, Vivienne stops me to congratulate me on saving as many Templars as I could. She’s worried that the Mages will draw more demons to themselves and concludes Templars are the only thing standing between us and chaos. I think they’re all untrustworthy. I mean, hello? An Envy demon replaced the Lord Seeker himself and no one noticed?
Next time, we might finally close this damn breach in the sky and get some well earned rest. What kind of a world will it be once we do so?
Emma Fissenden is a writer of all trades. When she’s not pushing through her next rewrite, she’s playing too many games and editing fiction at @noblegasqrtly. You can find her on Twitter @efissenden, or check out her other series for TMS,Game Changer.