I haven’t seen this many books in a long time. It’s hard to believe such places could exist. Perhaps that’s just the times speaking. Why keep a million books when I can store everything on a laptop?
But that’s part of the point of fantasy. These are things different from what we know.
Because I didn’t feel my duties to be pressing, I walked around and talked with a bunch of people. This Enchanter taught me about the various mage factions. Some are content with their lot; some want to change the system; others want to rule; a few want to isolate themselves completely. I’m in favor of whichever supports my decision to obliterate all who stand between me and power.
This is a tranquil mage. It’s a misnomer because, as I understand it, tranquil mages cannot actually practice magic. They are failed apprentices who had the magic stripped from them; as a side-effect, they become emotionless. It seems they are retained as caretakers. Soulless, robotic caretakers.
Meet the Templars. Knights in shining armor. Brave guardians of the Chantry. Keepers of a sacred tradition. They kill mages the moment they step out of line. But really, I’m sure they are nice people once you get past their paranoid magiphobia.
From left to right: Knight-Commander Greagoir (the most convoluted spelling of “Gregor” I’ve ever seen) of the Templars, Duncan (in the back; wish the shot captured him better) of the Grey Wardens, and First Enchanter Irving of the Chantry. Irving also moonlights as Saruman when things are slow at the Chantry (notice the staff).
Irving congratulates the MC on passing his Harrowing. He hands the MC a few new items in celebration of his graduation, then asks him to take Duncan to the guest quarters.
Duncan explains he is here seeking mages to join the Grey Wardens. The Darkspawn (demons) are breaking through dwarf lands and into human territory. Mages are essential to the kingdom’s defense. I expressed interest; joining the Grey Wardens means exploring the world, gaining membership in a powerful organization, and rising above discrimination. Plus, if the Darkspawn win, I’m screwed anyway.
Jowan approached after I left Duncan’s room. He introduced the MC to his girlfriend, an Initiate. I’m not yet sure what an initiate is; a member of a religious order, obviously, but I don’t know the details – I think she is training to become a Templar. Anyway, forbidden love. Jowan’s scared because he learned the Chantry intends to make him Tranquil, on suspicion of him practicing blood magic. He professes innocence, of course, and asks for my help finding his phylactery and destroying it, so he can flee.
Phylacteries are deposits of a mage’s blood. The Chantry and the Templars can use these phylacteries to hunt down mages. The phylactery is a trope: in some stories, a mage could cast a spell through the phylactery to harm, or even kill, the mage with which it is bound. However, the phylacteries in this game seem to be more of a homing device. One rigorously enforced; there aren’t many rogue mages.
Jowan asks for the MC’s help. He claimed that the MC could escape alongside him and that nobody would notice until it was too late. I stalled to make my decision. I figured Jowan for a love-sick fool who would say anything to effect his escape. Plus, the accounts of blood magic could be true. Furthermore, could there be a reward for turning him in? Finally, getting involved meant I could get myself killed, unless I knew this would work. I decided to inform Irving about the matter.
Irving took the news well and promised a reward for betraying them. He already knew about their relationship, and knows that Jowan is screwed, but he wants to take down the Initiate girl as well. He asked the MC to play along so the Chantry could catch them both red-handed. I agreed.
Jowan planned to break into the vault by destroying the vault door with a Rod of Fire. I acquired it for him from the storage room. It was easy; I just needed Irving to give me his signature on the requisition form. Irving pointed out that the rod wouldn’t work there, but that there was a weak wall elsewhere, and an artifact that could amplify the spell. It’s so nice to work alongside the man who owns the building.
As expected, the vault door was immune to the rod of fire; anti-magic glyphs. I continued playing along, and we explored for another entrance. Another door fell quickly to the power of the rod of fire (a pity I don’t get to keep it).
After we broke the door, a nearby statue came to life. It’s a creature called a Sentinel. Despite being knights in armor, they are pathetically weak. The creepy part, though?
They bleed. Yes, these things apparently are full of warm blood and bones. What demented mind built them like that? Couldn’t they have settled on just animating a statue or suit of armor? It’s a bit excessive, don’t you think?
The Deep Stalker is a name far too cool for this little guy. He’s like a tiny raptor from the Far Realm. With a name like Deep Stalker, I would have expected something much larger than a person, with huge claws, bulging muscles, and a job other than “dusty repository guard”.
I’m posting this shot just to show off how beautiful the repository is. The half-formed statue; the way the light pours into the room. It almost makes up for the goofy hat my character is wearing.
One of these two statues can talk. Sadly, it’s not the three-headed demon.
The talking statue was a prophet and a mage. The king she served became angry at her and had her turned to stone. The other two in my crew get worried about the statue and talk about it practicing dark magic. Naturally, I want to know more, but the conversation ends.
The more important statue is this dog. When I use the rod of fire on it, the statue amplifies the power and blows a hole through the wall, into the phylactery room. Thank goodness for convenient positioning.
The Sentinel Guardian is the “boss” of this mini-dungeon. He isn’t too tough, so I’m not too upset that he doesn’t drop anything. But one of his subordinates does; ironic. Also, redundant. I mean, he’s a Sentinel. And a Guardian. Kind of the same thing. What were the rest of those sentinels then? Guardian-posers?
I found Jowan’s phylactery on a desk before this cool-looking statue. If you are wondering why the room looks funny, it’s because the room is full of ice. I guess the cold temperature preserves the blood without somehow also freezing them. Jowan grabs his phylactery (presumably identifying it amongst the countless others by using sympathy magic) and smashes it. He pauses, relieved, and sounds just a little ominous. (Blood mage, blood mage, blood mage…)
The party steps out of the vault’s entrance and climbs up the stairs to the first floor. As planned, Irving and Greagoir approach the group and confront Jowan. Jowan is sentenced to death, and the Initiate is to be locked away. Jowan takes the news badly.
Jowan is a blood mage, no surprise there, but he really is in love. His girlfriend rejects him and he runs off. The Templar don’t give immediate chase to him and he escapes. The Initiate is taken away and presumably jailed.
Fortunately, the MC gets off without penalty. Irving explains the MC was employed by him. At his recommendation, Duncan takes charge of the MC and leaves with him to teach him the ways of the Grey Wardens.
And, by the way, when asked if I took anything, I did admit that I took a staff. They took it. And did not even reward me. That lying… yes, joining the Grey Wardens is great, but I was also hoping for a material reward.
*twitch* I could have lied and kept the staff. In retrospect, it didn’t matter whether or not I gave it up. Let’s call that a mark against staying “in character”, in one sense; yes, my character is selfish, but part of that is getting whatever he can out of things – if he thinks he will be rewarded, and continue to gain power, he will do nice things. However, if the game doesn’t care about some things (like whether I keep this staff), I might as well keep it, and act on my meta-game knowledge that I am definitely leaving this place and nobody can really stop me.
Now I’ll ask you, the reader:
When you started playing DA, did you have a “character concept” in mind? Did you know what kind of personality you wanted to run, and how you wanted your character to act? Did you stay “in character” throughout the whole game?