Good news!
Also, bad news.
The good news is that I have learned how to both record videos I make on my computer and how to compress them to reasonable sizes.
The bad news is that I cannot get the audio to play when I upload them to I’m using compressed .avi files, but I have the same problem with them uncompressed. If anybody has some insight into the problem, or an alternative, let me know.
You’re this close to hearing the Emperor’s voice.


Next Game – Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Well, my gaming schedule is looking interesting. I received two games for Christmas.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Team Fortress 2

I might do a few articles about TF2, but I don’t expect to play it constantly. I know it’s a fantastic game, but it’s not a game with an “ending”. As I often say, there are too many games with endings for me to beat. I can’t also play the ones that have no ending. But it’s a cool game, and I do want to play it. 😛 If for no other reason than people keep bothering me to play it, and it’s a gift.

Amnesia isn’t at the top of my blog, but it’s a really short game (less than 20 hours) and I need a change of pace from playing Bioware games, have been in the mood for horror, and it was a gift. I might play Dragon Quest V after that, but I’ll need to determine how I’ll be doing screenshots of that game.

I might also be doing actual videos of Amnesia. I don’t think screenshots will properly capture the atmosphere. If anyone knows something about video editing, including basic compression, let me know. Without compression, this 20 hour game would consume about 1200 GB of space, and I only really have about 700 GB free at the moment.

I also intend to play Neverwinter Nights, Neverwinter Nights 2, and Knights of the Old Republic 2. Again, I’ll probably break these up with more non-Bioware related games, like Dragon Quest V, and Beyond Good and Evil.

I could use a little break from Dragon Age and Bioware in general. I want to get both Dragon Age: Awakening and Dragon Age 2. I’m a bit hesitant to pick up DA2 because I haven’t heard anything good at it…

Simple, but Solid, Origins – Dragon Age: Origins Review

“Dragon Age: Origins” is a good game, but it is overhyped at the time of my writing this.

Mind you that I jumped from Icewind Dale 2 to Dragon Age: Origins. the game is made in the spirit of the Infinity Engine games of old, and it at least carries on that tradition superbly.

Like in Baldur’s Gate 2, an array of colorful characters join the party. Colorful, but not all enthusing. I am a bit biased, and I am certain everybody has their own favorites. I greatly disliked about half of the cast which can join the party. I don’t mean that they lacked depth, but I suspect some characters are universally unpopular with players because of their personalities. To the contrary, even the characters I dislike have interesting backstories. Their tales are interesting, if not the people themselves. Thus I can’t bring myself to be too harsh on the companions overall. Beside, every companion has dialogue with almost every other companion, and often many dialogues. It’s practically impossible to see all the dialogue on a single playthrough, which can make subsequent playthroughs more interesting.

With a little imagination, it is easy to predict how the game turns out if the player makes different choices. The main body of the quests remain the same and little gets unlocked for subsequent playthroughs. Some things change based on which origin story was used, but these are minor differences. Playing the game differently can result in an accumulation of minor differences, but they won’t add up to anything significant if the player is looking for a completely different story. In many cases, the differences are just different plugs for the same slots. I cannot imagine the game’s alternate material being so exciting that it deserves a second playthrough; the most exciting events are basically the same.

Speaking of which, the enemies are uninspired. Most opponents are either generic soldiers and mages, humdrum forest animals, or goblin and ogre rip-offs. Even the game’s supposedly most fascinating enemies, the dragons, all look the same and appear to be ripped-off from the a certain chaos dragon of Warhammer Fantasy lore. Expect to fight the exact same handful of enemy types throughout the entire game; it is almost as bad as Ar Tonelico.

At least they are pretty rip-offs, played against some beautiful, if not creative, backdrops. The game is set in a Late Medieval Fantasy world, played to the hilt. People aren’t pretty: most people have bad teeth. The monsters are hideous. Most things are neither shiny nor clean. A hereditary system of human nobility oppresses a race of elves. Also, blood. Lots of it. If you don’t like blood, stay away from this game or turn off the gore. No knights in shining armor and riding white horses present here. It’s a depressing world. And most people look the same (seriously, many of the character models are too similar to each other.

The fantasy races, the elves and the dwarves, aren’t very different from their stereotypical counterparts in other settings. The dwarves are fine, stout craftsmen; most of the men are bearded, they venerate their ancestors, and live deep in the earth, mining. The forest elves, called the Dalish, are xenophobic, but I will grant the setting this: it makes more sense in a setting where the elves have been oppressed by the local dominant race. They’re the classic woodsy elves, but they are trying to rebuild a forgotten culture that was destroyed by humans. The city elves are different, but only in that they don’t have a real identity: they are just oppressed people with no better definition than that. I’ll give DA a couple points for not having a classic dwarf/elf warfare, but subtract another for the classic race apportionment: humans have the most land and people; dwarves and elves have relatively few people and little land, and the dwarves in particular are on the decline.

I really like the music. The battle music never feels intrusive; a considerable improvement over the Infinity Engine games, where the environment music seemed better for battle than the battle music. I can’t call any tracks to mind, but there isn’t anything wrong with a game where you can’t remember the music; better to not recall it than to recall it as being poor.

Combat is sort of fun. Something is missing. It was challenging. I died plenty of times. But I didn’t really enjoy the battles; often times, I didn’t try terribly hard and I didn’t really want to fight. The problem is diversity. I mentioned before that most of the enemies are the same. I didn’t really notice a difference in enemy tactics for most of the game. Nothing was so exciting that I ever took control of my other party members (which would have made battles significantly easier). I wanted diversity. I wanted every battle to be something creative. A few battles actually are creative, involving games of dodging, or careful movement, or some other quirk. I wanted more of those. I think we have advanced AI, graphics, and scripting enough that games like this can afford to make most battles very different from each other. Really, the game could have just cu tout most of its battles and left us with the boss fights. The lack of combat creativity is what really bothers me in a game in the Infinity Engine tradition. The IE games were heading in a direction of increasing complexity in battles, or so I thought, but I did not see that followed through in DA. Disappointing.

I can at least give the designers credit for the combat system. The three classes; warrior, mage, rogue; get a variety of cool abilities. Mages are probably the best of the three, but warriors and rogues can do more than just swing a sword and stab with a dagger. They are still geared toward combat, but they have a lot of options in combat, including various stances and interesting martial techniques. Because techniques and spells are bought in trees, characters won’t run out of abilities to pick by end game. If there is some replayability in the game, it’s in how players can build their parties. By the way, there isn’t much difference between characters based on their race, or even between party members of the same class. Party members have their own inclinations, and some things are preset, but different characters of the same class can be built the same way, so party members are relatively interchangeable.

The story isn’t very complex. Players expecting complex political drama will get some of that, but it boils down to “Monsters are invading and only you can unite a kingdom against the threat.” Some of the individual scenarios are really interesting, and the personas dramatica are often entertaining and rarely head-scratching, but as I suggested above, the game plays out basically the same from start to finish. Some people laud DA for the complex moral decisions, but I didn’t find many. Oh, there are decision points, but there is usually one right answer: even though I was playing a selfishly evil character, most of my decisions were the same that a good and noble character would make. Often, things I said out of selfishness did not have an actual effect: saying, “I expect to be paid for this” would elicit a “Oh, yes, you’ll be paid” – it just turns out the same way. Worse, in at least one situation, I tried to be quite evil, hoping for a really dark twist in a certain area, but nothing came of it. I wasn’t allowed to pursue the path I wanted. At certain points, if the player is using meta-thinking, dark paths can be pursued. They don’t change much about the game, and they would be out of character to choose no matter what archetype the player chooses, so they feel awkwardly placed. I won’t deny that a couple situations made me sit back and think for a while, but ironically those situations did not have much impact on the outcome of the game, or the game hand-waved the consequences.

If you play Dragon Age, play it for the story and the atmosphere. It’s a cool setting, and the designers put some thought into it. Enough choices are presented that any two given players will probably have significantly different experiences, and the game’s cinematics and pacing are impressive. Combat is smooth and battles can be tough unless players are being attentive. Just don’t expect a second playthrough to feel significantly different; things can change, but the core game remains the same, and some stretches are particularly boring. Beside that, the combat situations themselves are usually not very clever and most enemies look and fight the same. Dragon Age: Origins isn’t a complex or highly innovative game, but its quick-paced storyline and interesting characters, backed by a solid game mechanic, are enough to please most gamers.

Death of the Archdemon

The trail in Denerim led me to a town called Haven in the Frostback Mountains. The taciturn locals refused to help me in my search. Things got worse when I searched the back of a shop and found a knight’s corpse. The entire town turned on me and I had to kill everybody.

In the back of the local church, I found Brother Genitivi, the last knight who came searching for the Urn of Sacred Ashes. He has discovered its location and leads the party onward.

According to Brother Genitivi, the temple should be deserted. He stays near the entrance to examine some runes while I go in deeper. I immediately learn that Brother Genitivi is incorrect. There are cultists all over this place. I’m not sur ehow all of them got in here, unless they are sealed in here. The scenario made it sound like only the town’s leader had the ring which enabled people to get into here. Also, Genitivi stays behind saying that he’ll be safe near the entrance. However, at one ponit the party needs to return to the entrance to do something, and there they find a bunch of cultists. Strangely, they are not attacking Genitivi.

Meet the craziest of the crazy cultists. He obsesses over Andraste, who he insists has resurrected as a dragon.

This dragon. Yeah, I killed him.

The Temple Spirit guards the entrance to the temple. If you haven’t figured out, yes, this is basically the Quest for the Holy Grail. Anyway, he searches the party’s hearts, which gives the party some insight into each other.

Then he sends them off on some minor puzzles, none of which are particularly difficult. Except maybe the last. The final puzzle involves stepping on pressure plates the form a bridge. However, the party advises that you want to make the tiles solid, and it sounds like you need to make all of them solid. I kept at that for a long time, until I gave up and looked at an FAQ. No, it’s much simpler than I thought. You just need to make one tile solid at a time, then have a party member step on it. For whatever reason, having one person cross it enables the entire party to cross. Well, whatever.

Behold the Urn of Sacred Ashes/”1st Place in Speech & Debate” Trophy.
I took a pinch of the ashes, but I wished I could have taken the entire thing for myself.

Brother Genitivi wanted to share it with the world. I thought about killing him, but he did good work and is a prominent scholar, so I let him live. Never know when a man like that might again come in handy.

If you’re wondering, I didn’t fight the High Dragon. I thoguht about it, but I can’t imagine the fight being any more interesting than the Flemeth fight, and I doubt it’llb e as fun as the final boss… so I skipped it.

The ashes from the urn revive the arl of Redcliffe. He’s quick to give his support. We return to Denerim to confront Loghain.

I sought to persuade more people over to my side by helping the local nobles. I visited Arl Howe’s place to rescue the queen, who might have been killed if left to his devices. To free her, I needed to eliminate Arl Howe’s mage. I visited the basement, which Howe had turned into a dungeon. Creepy. I killed Arl Howe, rescued the queen, and had to fight my way past a bunch of powerful guards to escape. Got the nifty Summer Sword for my trouble. I thought about just surrendering; I actually ran with that scenario for a few minutes, but then reconsidered. It’s more fun to fight them and seems somehow fitting.

After helping out some other nobles (several of who were imprisoned in Arl Howe’s dungeon; he had a lo~t of people in there), I visited the Elven Alienage to check on another of Loghain’s schemes.

A slaver has been kidnapping elves. He tried to cut a deal with me. I thoguht about it, but decided it was more productive to take everything he had and kill him while I was at it. But then he bought me off befor ehe died. He offered to kill the last few elves to give my character more power. Personal power, AND this guy leaves? Sounds good to this selfishly evil mage.

… I’m a monster.
A monster with +1 constitution!

The Landsmeet – my opportunity to shine and show off how easily I got most of the nobles in my pocket. Didn’t even have to play off any of them.

Loghain is boisterous in his arguments, which doesn’t help him. Somehow, he still gets one person to support him. I have heard that it is possible to get everybody onto your side, but that nobody has discovered what method will execute that.

Either way, once Loghain loses, he refuses to go down without a fight. I agreed to duel him personally. I wanted to see whether my mage could handle Loghain solo.

Answer: Yes. He’s challenging. I had to stop using my blood magic casting to deal with him. I couldn’t keep him paralyzed long enough to keep him out of the fight and I couldn’t rely on blood sacrifice to keep my character going. But just using normal magic was enough to take him out of the fight. He didn’t do too much damage.

Loghain graciously surrender. I was impressed by how well he took all of this. So impressed that I let him become a Grey Warden. Alistair objected and said he’d refuse to marry the queen like I’d gotten him to agree to do. *sigh* I reloaded, and I tried to give him enough gifts so I could get the hardened dialogue that would neable him to go through with the plan. However, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get him to go along with my plans.

So I did the only thing I could do.
I agreed with the queen that Alistair needed to be executed, and told Alistair that it was for the good of the kingdom that I betray him and let our most hated enemy join our ranks.

Damn, this character is evil.

Honestly, I think I was guided a lot by meta motivations. I really wanted to have Loghain in my party. I saw my chance and I took it. Also, I didn’t like Alistair. He constantly whines and is a little naive. I can’t admire him. On the other hand, Loghain is very practical. He takes the Warden’s Oath and survives; he knows this is the only way he’s getting out of this alive. He knows his life is limited, but he doesn’t really mind. He doesn’t even mind so much later on when we discuss that a Warden must sacrifice his life to kill the archdemon. He knows he has lost his title, everything, but that doesn’t bother him so much. He takes it in stride. He’s open to speaking about his motivations and freely admits he probably would have been screwed against the Darkspawn with his plan.

By the way, I did guess that a warden must die for the archdemon to die. It explained why all the wardens were dead at the end of the first fight, and I knew people kept talking about the importance of one final decision at the end of the game. To be fair, I also remember reading something about “if the Warden makes the ultimate sacrifice…”.

By the way, Zevran and Loghain have a hilarious conversation.
Quoting from the transcript on the DA Wiki ( )
* Zevran: So, err….is it Lord Loghain?
* Loghain: I am no longer a teyrn, nor even a knight. Address me without a title, as you would any other Grey Warden.
* Zevran: So just Loghain, then?
* Loghain: Correct. What’s on your mind?
* Zevran: You know who I am, yes? I was one of the Crows you hired to kill the Grey Wardens.
* Loghain: I thought you looked familiar.
* Zevran: Well, I just wanted to report that I failed my mission, Loghain.
* Loghain: You don’t say.
* Zevran: I’m terribly broken up over it.
* Loghain: Hmm. Well thank you kindly for informing me.

That convo by itself is reason enough to take him in the party.

Alistair’s dead. Loghain is in. And it’s time for the end game. The party goes to Redcliffe, only to learn that the Darkspawn are a step ahead of them and are going to Denerim instead. The party must now hasten to Denerim to defeat the Darkspawn.

Before that, we’re told about the sacrifice that a Grey Warden must make. My character, of course, was all too happy to let Loghain sacrifice himself. Loghain was happy to sacrifice himself. See, everybody wins!

But Morrigan had a counter-offer! Have sex with her and her nascent child would absorb the death effect. She’d give birth to it, and raise it as a god in a human body. I thought about it, but settled on “no”. She then suggested I convince Loghain to do ti. Again I said no. She was so angry that she fled.

Well, why’d I make that decision? A few reasons
1) My character’s gay.
2) My character doesn’t really care whether Loghain lives or dies
3) My character does value honor, and Loghain nobly sacrificing himself seems like an excellent way of redeeming his honor.
4) Flemeth lied to us. Morrigan hid something from us. I’m not trusting what she says.
5) I dislike Morrigan on a personal level. She’s Chaotic Evil in the worst way. She whines whenever I make a good or noble decision, regardless of their utility. She wants to do evil for the sake of evil. It’s bizarrely inhuman.
6) Even if she’s telling the truth… an old god? Chaotic Evil Morrigan controlling an old god? Haha, no.
7) If Loghain agrees to sacrifice his life, I’ll assume we can make it to the final battle without him dying otherwise.

So no, I didn’t accept her offer. That’s right. She leaves with nothing. Everything she worked for; fail. Loghain will die. And despite what she thinks, the Warden will live and be honored for his accomplishments.

We attacked Denerim. It was all very inspiring. No, not really. I guess the intro was neat, and a Grey Warden tries defeating an archdemon solo (which seems silly). But at this point, I’m almost done with the game, and I’m just not feeling as awed as I’d like. We fight a bunch of powerful Darkspawn, see lots of corpses, and encounter this.

Oh no… Archdemon… scary…
You know what would be scary? if the archdemon didn’t look exactly like every other dragon I had fought. If the archdemon had some kind of personality. If I hadn’t seen the archdemon at least three times before now. I see it now and it’s just underwhelming. It’s a big monster. So what?

The dragon doesn’t have many moves. He swipes with his claws, breathes flames, and likes to jump around now and then. Sometimes he creates a zone of spirit flame. At one point, he sends out hordes of Darkspawn to harass the party.

The highlight of the battle is the ballista. At some point, the dragon hops onto an inaccessible landing. You can shoot it with the ballista for massive damage.

In a noble display, Loghain draws his sword and tears apart the archdemon. His body is engulfed in effulgent light, then the entirety of the tower follows suit. Such a pretty end.

The Warden has saved Fereldan! The Queen asks whether I want a reward. I asked for a title and riches. Then I spoke with all the other party members. It was a nice send-off, and a relatively long ending. At last, the story came to ints conclusion.

Next up: the review.

Origins Mid-Game Stats

Please take a look at my current stats and let me know how I’m doing, and on what I can improve. I am currently done with every quest except the Urn of Sacred Ashes. (I’m so glad to have an actual blog; it makes listing stats much easier).

Beside analysis of what I currently have, I am looking for recommendations on what equipment to buy, if any.

Alim, my PC Mage
I have plans to pursue both blood magic and spirit healing with him.

I am thinking about replacing Shale with a different character, but I haven’t decided who.

I plan to drop Oghren and replace him with Sten. I’m also planning to use Alistair again soon, and I would replace either this slot, or Shale’s slot, with Alistair. Haven’t decided.

I don’t know whether I want to keep Zevran or use Leliana. I hear Leliana could be better because archer/bards are amazing. However, I do like Zevran’s personality. If I keep Zevran, I need to decide whether to have him use two longswords. I might do more damage, but would I do less damage overall because daggers have special abilities involving crits and backstabs?

Ends before Ashes

Another night at camp, another dream dragon. They are no longer impressive at this point. Ooh, yes, big and scary, but I just killed two dragons, and I’ve seen another one close up. This doesn’t particularly impress me.

Okay, now this is a little different. While resting in camp, a group of Shrieks attack. I control my character, but everyone else is an NPC. I wonder whether their stats were changed for this battle. The battle itself wasn’t hard, but points for making it interesting.

Here’s a few other things of note that I took care of…
In the dwarven city, I had an opportunity to spread the Word of the Maker to the dwarves. I refused. My character doesn’t particularly care about the Maker.

Using, the Golem Registry, I found a place which would have a record of Shale’s past, and went to investigate.

Dwarves. They record their history in style.

With this information in hand, Shale is at peace. It’s a surprisingly touching side-quest to a character whose presence has been mostly humorous and whose attitude has been callous throughout the game.

I collected a bunch of bloody parts and took them to an altar to resurrect this Pride Demon. Definitely the coolest looking demon so far in the game, with its psuedo-draconic features and deadly barbs. I don’t know why it was here, though. Apparently it had voluntarily had its body split into parts. Never found out why… anyway, I was given the choice between fighting it and taking money from it. I chose the money. Again, I don’t particularly care what the demons in this game are up to, so long as they stand out of my way and give me things when I demand them.

In Dusk Town, I found a quest that guarantees I will not run out of money again. A smuggler offered to give me his supply of lyrium to sell to a mage at the circle. I negotiated more coin from him, then when I sold it at the circle, I negotiated even more coin. I cleared 80 gold, form what I recall. Good-bye~ money issues. Man, for a while, this game was like an entry in Dragon Quest.

I explored some woods, where I stopped some bandits. I found this man, passed out, and unlocked a quest to return to Ostagar. … If I have the right DLC. Which I don’t. I could get it, if I had money. Which I don’t. x.x Or rather, it’s money I’m saving up for Dragon Age: Awakening. @.@

Dwarves and Deep Roads

Once the Dalish agreed to join me, I left to meet the dwarves. So, the elves were fairly stereotypical, or maybe generic is the word I should use: they were forest elves, and there’s really not much more to say.

But how about the dwarves? Do they live underground, collect gems, and build wondrous things? Look at that statue; it’s all you need to know.

I get a laugh every time I see this guy. He’s standing at the market outside the dwarven city, trying to look intimidating. But he’s wearing deep lavender battle armor, a silly helmet with long funny horns, and I think he’s cross-eyed.

Outsiders are welcome to camp outside the dwarven city, but one needs the dwarves permission to actually enter the city itself. Loghein sent an emissary, whose having trouble at the gate. The dwarven gatekeeper, however, lets the Warden inside without fuss. I guess being part of the Wardens comes with its perks.

I nag about the dwarves being stereotypical, but the city is very pretty. I wonder how they stand the heat; I mean, tey are literally over a volcano. It should be too hot for anybody to stand. Or even if they are fine, the humans in my party should be sweltering in their armor. But nothing is ever made of it. I find that odd because this game tries to be realistic and dark, and sheds blood all the time; but people sweating from heat is something they forget.

By the way, notice the weird stained-glass window on the right side in the second picture? What’s up with that? I don’t think any of the other windows in the city are stained glass, so why that one?

The problem of the day: ascension conflict. The dwarf king is dead and did not leave any clear instructions about who should succeed him. Unlike human lands, hereditary succession is not assumed. The two candidates for the throne are Prince Bhelen Aeducan and Lord Pyral Harrowmont. Harrowmont claims that, while he was at the king’s deathbed, the king named him his successor. Prince Bhelen claims there was no such statement, and that his father would have wanted him to be king.

Their debate turns bloody as Prince Bhelen’s lieutenant kills one of Harrowmont’s men. Good way of emphasizing that nothing will be done unless the Warden settles this matter.

It’s hard to decide whose side to take. I went with Harrowmont because he seemed relatively cool-headed and genuinely disinterested in the throne for personal gain. Also, he and Prince Bhelen each have a quest for the Warden. Prince Bhelen’s involves what appears to be fraud. A friend also told me that if you agree to help Prince Bhelen, then take his fraudulent letter to scribes, they reveal the fraud; I tried that out, sure enough it’s true. I really don’t need any more proof that Harrowmont is the one to go with; although Alim, my PC, doesn’t mind some deceit, he doesn’t want to be the one deceived. Especially because a person who deceives me once is likely to do so again; Prince Bhelen is not a good long-term ally.

Harrowmont wanted me to prove my loyalty to him by helping him win the upcoming tournament. The side that won would gain acclaim and popular support, helping solidify their claim for the throne. It’s like a duel of honor, where the duelists aren’t the concerned, but seconds who fight in their place. I’ve always felt that’s kind of cheesy, like aristocrats paying commoners to go to war in their place.

However, before the battle could commence, I had an opportunity to sway some of Harrowmont’s disillusioned fighters to rejoin the tournament. In retrospect, I might as well have done nothing, because they don’t help in the fight. I mean, during one or two battles, you can choose to have one or both of them help you in the battle, but you could instead pick your own party members, and your own party members are going to be much better combatants than these guys.

The tournament is a series of four battles against increasingly difficult opponents, under ostensibly different situations. Practically, this just means that sometimes I fight with allies, sometimes without, and sometimes I fight more than one opponent solo. I don’t know how that last one is considered fair; it’s not like Prince Bhelen has anything less at stake than Harrowmont. Is there a battle going on in the background about which I am just unaware?

These are the opponents for the four battles. The battles themselves, like I mentioned, aren’t particularly impressive. Strategies vary from “hit one guy with a spell” to “hit many guys with many spells”. I do like main enemy #3’s helm, though. Tres chic dwarven battle gear.

After a few easy fights, I was found the victor of the tournament. But Harrowmont wasn’t done yet sending me on quests. Next, I needed to clear out a gang of thieves in Dusk Town, the poor district of the city.

Wardens: Protectors of the land. Heroes of battle. Errand boys.

Finding the thieves isn’t a mundane task. Oh no, you have to jump through another hoop to find them. See, the thieves get into their base through magic doors that appear and disappear throughout Dusk Town, and which can only be opened by using the appropriate word. What…? How do dwarves, who can’t use magic, have magic doors in the middle of their poor district? Were the writers even paying attention to themselves when they wrote this? Ugh… I’m going to try to not question the game’s inconsistencies. They’re starting to give me a headache.

So, I find these thugs and beat the crap out of them. Then they told me where to go and what to do in order to access the secret passageway.

The only thing here worth mentioning is the bizarre trap on one of the chests. There is a chest which cannot be normally accessed unless three other chests each have one specific object removed from them. I have no idea how this works. Are the three objects somehow weight-attached to this chest? Is it… dare I say, magic? What’s going on? How are these four chests connected? Why do I need to take items out of three other chests in order to take an item out of the last one? It’s not like I use those items to somehow unlock the last chest. Ugh… let’s talk about the boss.

Too shiny! Can’t stare at directly! Need sunglasses!

Jarvia likes to mix it up in melee and has a crew of thieves lurking around the battlefield. They’re “false stealth” thieves, I think; the kind that aren’t really there, but appear as if they are coming out of the shadows. There are also a bunch of difficult-to-notice wire traps around the area. I kept dying because I kept activating them without noticing. Jarvia fights up-close, then lures the party back toward the traps. I had Zevran spending part of the battle disabling traps while everybody else was busy fighting. Jarvia has a lot of hit points, so it’s impossible to disable her long enough to prevent her from getting up and moving into position for her traps.

A secret passageway leads out from the back of Jarvia’s base. Cue another rare moment of DA humor, as the party busts through a wall in a merchant’s shop, pissing him off. He’ll still sell goods to the party whenever they come through, but he is royally ticked at them for the rest of the game.

*sigh* One more task from Harrowmont. To solidify his claim for rulership, he needs a Paragon’s support. The Paragons are legendary dwarves, people who have accomplished incredible tasks, such as creating the golems the dwarves once used in their wars. In particular, he wants the support of Paragon Branka, a powerful smith who wandered into the Deep Roads (full of spiders and Deepspawn) in search of the lost art of golem manufacturing. I agreed to go searching for her, in hopes she was still alive.

But I’m not going alone. Oghren, Branka’s husband, insists on coming along. He’s a drunk, but a good fighter.

Oghren is the only dwarf who joins the party. Dwarves, in general, do not fit all the stereotypes often associated with them in common lore; at least, not the negative ones. Oghren, however, does have at least one of the worst stereotypes (drunkenness) to the fullest an is, unfortunately, the one who joins the party and thus makes the biggest impression.

We traveled the Deep Roads together, fighting Darkspawn, spiders, and more of those little creatures with the sharp teeth.

This crazy dwarf is one of the unfortunates who inhabits the Deep Roads. I don’t know how he has survived so long, but everything else seems to leave him alone. I learned what I could from him, then put him out of his misery.

In the deepest part of the, ah, Deep Roads, I found a bridge leading to a Darkspawn city. Yes, the Warden is about to destroy an entire Darkspawn city. What’s his relative power level again? Mind you, you can do this quest at the beginning of the game.

Also, dragon! The dragon depicted here is either breathing fire or has a really bad sneeze. I so look forward to doing vlogs, where I can better capture some of these events.

The dragon takes off flying. It seems like the same dragon from the Warden’s dream. Is it an arch-demon?

The dragon leaves, but the rest of the Darkspawn come charging across the bridge. My party fought their way through, aided by the Legion of the Dead, a group of dwarven warriors dedicated to combating Darkspawn in the Deep Roads.

I was hoping the Legion would follow me across the bridge and into the city, but they don’t go that far. Why not? This seems like a dream come true for them. An opportunity to destroy all Darkspawn in the area.

I felt epic running through the city, killing everything in my path. But then things got creepy. As I was tromping down a passageway, I heard a creepy voice calling out, reciting a bizarre tale…

The talespinner is this sad creature. As near as I can tell, one of two things happen to the dwarves who are captured by the Darkspawn here: the males are killed and the females are turned into monsters that give birth to more Darkspawn. They’re fed the flesh of the males, which erodes their sanity, then they somehow get transformed into…

…this. Let us all hope this is the most disgusting thing I encounter in the game, because it’s almost vomit-inducingly ugly. The monster fights with long tendrils and its overwhelming hideousness. But even once you have beaten it, the battle is not over. For its appearance will haunt you long after you defeat it.

In the next area, we found Paragon Branka. She wasn’t willing to come back. Her obsession with the Forge has consumed her. She has sacrificed every member of her team in an attempt to get to the Forge, and is very close, but nothing has worked thus far. So… yeah, we don’t get to just drag her back. We are forced to help her get past the traps.

This is definitely the coolest trap. It’s a gigantic four-faced statue surrounded by four anvils, and protected by spirits. To destroy it, the party needs to destroy one of its protectors, then attack its respective anvil, thus destroying the respective statue’s face. Each face needs to be attacked three times to destroy it, and they shoot attack beams (blood, at one point).

After passing the traps, I found the anvil. And a little more than that…

No, this isn’t a mobile suit of power armor form Warhammer 40K. It’s Paragon Caridin, the one who created the golems in the first place.

He explains why we need to destroy the anvil: 1) he is simply unable to do it, and 2) golems are created from sacrificed dwarves and he came to hate doing it.

Shale, by the way, is one such golem, and it is at this point that Caridin reveals that point, along with Shale being a girl. It’s a surprise because Shale’s VA definitely sounds like a male. I wonder if all golems sound the same, or if it’s just a weird twist that made Shale stuck with that voice… or if that’s just how Shale has always sounded.

More importantly, I needed to decide whether I was going to side with Branka or Caridin. If I side with Caridin, I need to destroy the anvil. If I side with Branka, I need to kill Caridin.

I tried siding with Branka. I really did. I wanted the power of golems on my side. However, it put me in a bad position. First, Shale leaves the party. Second, Shale turns against the party. Third, I must fight all the golems, Caridin, and Shale. It’s just a battle I could not win.

So *sigh* I sided against Branka. And here’s another example of bizarre battle scripting. Branka somehow gains control of several of the golems, even though she might have never interacted with a golem before, and they should be more loyal to Caridin. Furthermore, Caridin does not help me fight. Why?

Regardless, the fight ends with Branka dead. Caridin agrees to toss in his support as a Paragon, and as proof of this, he forges a crown for whoever will become king.

Watching a golem hammer out a crown on an anvil of legend is an epic scene. It’s events like this that make me really enjoy this game.

But now the Warden must uphold his part of the deal. Time to destroy the anvil.

Amazingly, it takes just one blow from a puny mage to destroy the anvil created by a legendary smith. Let’s pretend the hammer is just able to do that.

But now that the anvil has been destroyed, Caridin wants his own torment to come to an end.

He turns toward the edge of a cliff and jumps. Goodbye Caridin, we hardly knew you, but your legacy will live on… maybe. Depends on whether I exterminate every other golem in existence and then Shale asks for her own destruction at end game. In which case, Caridin’s legacy won’t live on; it’ll pretty much just be gone.

Oghren, by the way, is surprisingly cool with the death of his wife. He’s quick to forgive the party for her death. That seems a little weird to me. It seems like a cheap way of letting him stay int he party. He’s kind of upset about it, but… not so upset he won’t stay with the group? I’m not really sure where his resolve comes from. Then again, after we get out of Orzimmar, he goes to hit on an old friend of his. So… he’s a sleaze? I have trouble thinking of nice things to say about Oghren.

Here’s the Golem Registry. It contains a list of all the golems ever made. I am showing this mainly because it looks pretty cool.

We returned to the Dwarven Assembly with the crown and Caridin’s blessings. With the Warden’s proclamation, and the crown, Harrowmont was made king.

Cool looking crown, mm? But not everybody agrees with Harrowmont’s ascension.

Prince Bhelen decides that if he isn’t going to be crowned king, he will just take the crown for himself. What a whiny brat.

Easily-won battle ensues!

Harrowmont agrees that the dwarves will give their aid to the Wardens in their time of need. Furthermore, I convinced the Legion of the Dead to come topside and offer their aid as well.