Bad Gamer Part 8: 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 1-7 here.
The decorators are in and are starting to haul broken bits of wood, brick and other debris out onto carts. I pick past them and make off to meet this mysterious friend Varric wants me to meet.
I find Varric on the battlements. He introduces me to Hawke, the Champion of Kirkwall. She fought Corypheus alongside Varric once before, and he’s hoping she’ll have some advice for us. Hawke scoffs. Her advice almost got the city torn apart. I tell her I’ll bear that in mind as I listen. They tell Emone that Corypheus was brainwashing the Grey Wardens who had him imprisoned. He turned the Wardens against one another. Hawke guesses that if the Wardens have disappeared again, it’s entirely possible that Corypheus is controlling them. It’s a bit of a reach considering we haven’t heard from any Wardens for a while, except for Blackwall that is. If Corypheus needs power, he’d be better off looking elsewhere for it.
Hawke has a friend—Stroud–who was investigating the Wardens for her, but has gone into hiding in a cave near Crestwood. That they were already investigating them doesn’t really bode well for the Wardens. Hawke promises she’ll help destroy Corypheus for good this time. It is, after all, partly her fault he’s still alive—she should have made sure he was dead. Another addition to the to-do list, then, to meet Hawke in Crestwood to see if the Wardens are indeed in trouble.
On my way back to meet with Skyhold’s blacksmith and find the war room, I bump into Sara. She’s upset she’s ended up in the middle of this mess. She wanted a war, not an archdemon. Fucking picky or what? As if I wanted to face an archdemon myself? I tell her I didn’t expect any of this either. She elaborates; she’s actually more upset that Corypheus is real because if he is, and his power is, then the stories about the creation of the world and the Maker are real too. I do understand that all of this must be scary for her, but she has the opportunity to leave if she wants to. I don’t. I am being hunted, targeted by this thing. Sara needs a bit of perspective. She believes everything should be simple. That there should only be simple questions and simple answers to go along with them. I think she’s nuts to think the world is anything but complex. Simplicity? Take your naivety elsewhere, crazy.
Vivienne stops me before I can go another step. She’s worried. I apparently look a total mess. Who cares? We’ve more important things to think about than my looks, and if anyone really cares that much they can piss off. Vivienne goes on to argue that I shouldn’t look this way in front of my troops, especially after I was delivered such a serious blow by Corypheus. Does she think I don’t know this? I tell her to mind her own business. Vivienne actually approves! She’s proud I don’t need any guidance, which is kind of strange coming from someone as arrogant as her. She tells me to be strong, then sends me on my way.
Blackwall asks me to inspect the fortifications with him. He’s impressed by our vantage point: we’ll be able to see Corypheus coming. I point out that this won’t really help us—even if we can see him it won’t stop him. Blackwall vows to take Corypheus down. He’ll even die for the cause. He’s really no use to me if he’s dead. Bit idiotic. Blackwall doesn’t see any difference if he dies as so many have already died because of me. Ouch. He asks if I’m really the Herald—if the people aren’t following a fraud. Of course I’m not the ruddy Herald. He warns me that my image gives them hope—that I should just let them continue to believe.
I can’t seem to go more than five feet before someone else stops me. This time it’s Cassandra and Varric having a fight. Cassandra’s pissed that Varric knew where Hawke was. That he didn’t tell her where she was. Varric can’t really understand why she’s surprised. She did, after all, interrogate and kidnap him. There’s a moment where a window opens up for me to intervene, but this isn’t my fight. I like the drama though, especially as I’m not involved in this particular quarrel and I get to learn a bit more about these two and their motivations. Cassandra can’t believe Varric wouldn’t get Hawke involved earlier when he knew what was at stake. She flips a table. Varric implores me to get involved, but this is actually quite funny. Cassandra wanted Hawke as their leader, is positive that had she been there at the Conclave she may have been able to save Justinia. Guys, what’s done is done. Cassandra argues that Varric is only working for himself, that he’s not really got the Inquisition in his best interests. I have to agree to be honest. He’s not really done anything to help out so far. Mind you, most others haven’t either. Varric wants to do as much as he can for now, then leaves us. Cassandra tells me she didn’t actually explain to Varric what she wanted with Hawke. I don’t really blame him for not telling her the truth to be honest, though he does need to stop keeping secrets. I tell her we need to do better if we can. That she needs to do better.
I find Cullen ordering the soldiers around. Handing out orders, absolutely in his element. He’s annoyed that they didn’t prepare at Haven better. That they didn’t save as many people as they might’ve been able to. Uh, hello? Don’t we have more pressing issues? Like looking ahead toward taking Corypheus down a peg or two? Maybe we’d get more accomplished if these guys weren’t wallowing in self pity. Cullen vows that no one will run the next time Corypheus comes knocking on our door. We’ll stand our ground.
Solas, Cassandra and Vivienne stop me to discuss Cole. They reveal he’s really a demon. I’m not sure we should have him around if he is, regardless of the help he gave me. Solas argues that he might not actually be a demon. That he’s unusual and unique. Not so easily defined. These guys! Make up your minds. I go to talk to him. I find him slipping into the minds of the dying and wounded soldiers. I tell him to stop. What right does he have to do this? Cole explains that all he wants to do is help. I think he’s more of a nuisance than anything, but maybe he’ll come in handy further down the line? I decide he can stay. For now. Cole can hear someone crying out in pain. The healers have done all they can. He wants to end their suffering, but I can’t condone that, can I? It would be wrong to not at least give him a chance for the healers to find another way to save him. None of us can see what will happen to him. Cole reluctantly agrees.
When I step back into the great hall, I find Varric sulking. I tell him there’ll be no more secrets. He’s pissed. He doesn’t see why he has to tell me anything unless its important, but why does he get to decide what is and isn’t important? If he’s going to be here, he needs to be here. On our side. Cooperating. Varric argues that he keeps pretending that none of this is real. Real mature. He apologizes. Vows to do better.
Who the heck do I find in the library but Dorian! Who approved his being here? He launches into a fairly sarcastic tale about the archdemon apologizing for being, well, archdemony. I’m slightly enjoying myself until he asks if he’s speaking too quickly. Excuse me? Fuck you, Dorian. He talks for a bit about the Tevinter being responsible for destroying the world. It ain’t destroyed yet, idiot. And if it were, why bother coming to Skyhold at all? Why try to help? He agrees: either way, he’s here to fight. He wished I’d helped to stop Alexius, but understands that he can’t dwell on “what ifs”. What’s done is done. Oh, hello. What’s this? A level head?! Thank fucking god. Dorian signs up for the Inquisition, and I’m kind of interested to see what he’ll be able to do to help us out. Dorian knows no one will thank him for his help, no one will thank me either. Who needs bloody thanks? Let’s just save our asses. Dorian claims to only know one thing for sure: that Corypheus needs to be stopped. No, duh? Thanks for clearing that one up, mate. Maybe you won’t be so useful after all.
I catch Leliana and Cullen on the tail end of a serious conversation. Cullen leaves, looking a bit sick. Leliana reveals she has the names of those we lost at Haven. She believes that she is to blame. Oh, why? Did she summon the bloody archdemon? Is she responsible for Corypheus’ actions? These people are giving me a headache. So much moping when we ought to be making plans and putting them into action. Leliana wishes she could have kept her men in the field to buy us more time. If she hadn’t pulled them back to safety they might have had a chance to warn us. I agree. She and her agents should’ve done their jobs. Leliana vows to be colder in the future.
I finally make my way to Undercroft which will act as Skyhold’s blacksmith and weaponry, among other things. I order some changes to be made to Skyhold’s decor, and leave in search of the war room. Josephine is thankfully straight to business. She thinks it best we deal with the threat to the Empress as soon as we can. She advises that we also need to achieve the court’s approval as well, though I’m not sure that’s really necessary. Empress Celene is holding peace talks in secret while a Masquerade ball takes place. It’s perfect for an assassin. I sarcastically tell Josephine I’ve nothing to wear.
Before we can even begin thinking about the ball, however, we’re off to Crestwood to meet up with Hawke and search for her contact. If the Wardens are involved, we’ll need to know what’s going on, what the connection is, before we move forward against Corypheus.
It’s raining, thundering even, when I meet Scout Harding on the road to Crestwood. She tells me there’s trouble ahead. Of course there is. Crestwood was flooded ages ago, but now a rift has opened up above the remains on the water. Reanimated corpses have been crawling onto the shores. Obviously I’ll have to fight them to get to Stroud, wherever this cave he’s hiding in is.
We actually meet a few Grey Wardens on the road. After dispatching some of the undead, I ask if they can stay and help. They can’t stop—their orders take them elsewhere, but they do implore me to help Crestwood’s people if I can. What absolute bullshit. They’re looking for Stroud as he’s wanted for questioning, and I fight the urge to seem at all interested in him.
A little farther up the road, I bump into an Elf who is eager to join the Wardens as a recruit. She thinks they are amazing. I warn her not to join them; I don’t trust them, and I can’t knowingly endorse their organization when so much is up in the air. She wants to help people and the Wardens are like heroes to her. I forbid her joining them, and she joins me as an agent of the Inquisition, though I can feel Blackwall staring at me. Questioning. Go ahead and say something, fuck-face. You’ve not got a leg to stand on at this point.
Major Dederick of Crestwood welcomes us into his home. He wonders if I’m here to stop the undead, to fix the rift on the lake. I would have to go into the cave system below Old Crestwood to get to the rift there. Dedrick tells me the darkspawn flooded the village, killing all the refugees they had taken in, which is why there are so many of the undead crawling out of the water now. I ask about draining the lake. He doesn’t want to ask us to risk out lives—there are bandits near the dam, demons around. I tell him just to admit they need our help. He gives us the key to the fort where the dam is located, and off we go.
We take Caer Bronach easily enough and claim the fort for the Inquisition. Another base of operations can’t hurt, can it? After the initial setting up of base camp, we search for a door to the dam. Charter, Leliana’s eyes and ears here in Crestwood, tells me that one of their spies, Butcher, hasn’t checked in yet. She hopes he’s only been delayed but the news that he had secrets for us and the look on Charter’s face lead me to believe he’s probably face down in a ditch somewhere.
We run to the dam controls which, for some reason, is in the back of a tavern. As we burst through the door, two villagers startle. They were messing around in front of the fire. You know what, maybe if everyone wasn’t hiding in buildings ignoring their problems things might actually be a lot better. Instead, they get to mess around while I sort their shit out. Draining the lake is so easy I wonder why on earth the people of Crestwood haven’t bothered to do this themselves. Did they not want to rebuild? Ten years is a long time to leave a catastrophe unresolved.
As we run toward Old Crestwood, another bloody dragon swoops over our heads. Dorian exclaims rather sarcastically that there’s a dragon, but he sounds more scared than anything. Like he’s hoping I don’t lead them that way. Do I look like an idiot?
Old Crestwood is full of the spirits of the dead. Some hover in front of long darkened fireplaces, as if warming themselves and others still hang in the streets. We come across a wraith who actually speaks to us. Bizarre doesn’t even cover this situation. She demands to know why nothing in our world listens to her commands. This particular spirit embodies “command” and refuses to go back to the Fade until something in our world obeys her. I offer to do it. It might be fun after all, and the look on Blackwall and Bulls’ faces more than makes up for what she asks of me. A rage demon chased her, and so we must destroy it. Makes sense. I’d do the same if a rage demon chased me! Interestingly enough, the wraith claims to have sensed me coming. Like we share a common bond. I suppose I am a leader now, so I surmise that must be it. The wraith is actually delighted by this, and I don’t really think she’s spoken to anyone for a good long while if she’s happy having a conversation with me.
We find a letter in the Mayor’s old home. Somehow it’s still legible, though the content is both cryptic and worrying. The Mayor must have ordered some work of a more unseemly nature, or at least this letter suggests so. I wonder how many awful things I’ll have to order done before my time is up. We find the entrance to the flooded caves, and I lead my party in slowly and cautiously, mildly afraid of what we might find. We make our way through the damp tunnels, lighting torches as we go. Dorian thinks the temperature here has plummeted, but I’m not so sure. The thing that really gives me chills is that the spirits seem to be leading the way. Are they trying to help?
The next strange thing is emerging into Dwarven ruins on the other side of the first set of twisted, winding tunnels. It’s fascinating to find these here, but we really don’t have time to waste. The rift is deeper down in the ruins but not difficult to find at all. It’s gigantic, but it’s really nothing we can’t handle. Soon we’re back out into the sunshine of Crestwood. The gloom has moved on and it seems like all might be well here for a while. Blackwall glares despite it. He’s just pissed I managed to navigate the labyrinthian ruins following only my nose.
New Crestwood village is full of life and colour on our return, but not all is well. The Mayor is missing. And worse, he’s left a confession letter on his desk. The Darkspawn weren’t the ones to flood Old Crestwood. He did. He wanted to protect the village from the Blight affected refugees they’d taken in, so he decided to kill them all. He can’t stand the sight of the Old Village now the lake has been drained, so he’s disappeared. What a bastard. I’ll be putting the word out to Cullen and Leliana to bring him in.
Despite the successful rift closure, there are other things to accomplish here. We need to meet up with Stroud and Hawke. Hawke is easy enough to find standing outside of the cave. So easy that I wonder why the Wardens haven’t been able to find Stroud yet. Maybe they’re just idiots. I tell Hawke that I’m not sure Stroud can be trusted if the other Wardens are out to arrest him. What’s he been up to? Hawke isn’t surprised that the Wardens thought he was a traitor. Good men always end up following bad orders. I leave the others outside and step into the cave with Hawke.
At first there seems to be no one here, and then in the next breath I’m facing the pointed edge of a blade. The wielder of the blade is Stroud. Hawke tells him to stand down. I’m the Inquisitor! Stroud declares himself at my service which I find a little presumptuous. I don’t even know if I can trust him yet. I tell him I need more information. According to Stroud, the Grey Wardens—all of them, mind—began to hear the calling of their service. The call that tells them their lives are coming to an end. They all think they’re dying. Stroud worries who will stand against the next blight—everyone is afraid, and because of that they’re playing right into Corypheus’ hands.
I tell them that the Wardens are fools. How could they all be about to die at the same time? Try thinking logically, you fools! Something else is clearly going on. Warden Commander Clarel knows of a blood ritual to prevent future blights before the Wardens all die, but Stroud argued against it. His comrades turned on him and so he fled. Now he needs our help—to face Clarel and the others in the Western Approach to help solve their problem. What utter lunacy.
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.
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