Breaking Down the Dragon Age 4 Teaser Trailer

With the announcement, finally, that there would, in fact, be a Dragon Age 4, fans everywhere sighed with relief.  At least there was confirmation, despite the few years’ wait for its release, and it gave fans hope.  Some have wondered how it was that I had nothing to say about it.  Believe me, I was ecstatic at the news.  As you may have noticed with my limited posts this year, I’ve continued to be busy.

By the way, hi!  Happy Holidays!

So about two weeks ago at the 2018 Game Awards, Bioware treated fans to the following teaser:

To the casual observer, or non-DA fan, it doesn’t seem like much, but for the devoted, myself included, there are plenty of small details to analyze and get excited about.  Fan theories soon followed as each frame of the video was scrutinized, and I have done my best to avoid it all.  After all, I have my own theories.

The Dragon Age games have been amazing at connecting events and characters, history and lore to create an immense, immersive world, and this trailer I believe does that as well.  And while there are easter eggs galore, to explore each one would cause me to write a treatise, I’ll pick 3 topics to break down.

Let the wild speculation begin.

The Opening Image: It looks like a sunrise/sunset over mountains, which is a familiar landscape from Inquisition.  Since the events of the third game were left open ended (which is why fans always believed there would have to be a fourth installment, I mean we just got around to who Solas actually was), this image could be interpreted a couple of ways.  It could be symbolic – a sunrise is often considered a new beginning while a sunset is referred to as an ending.  With the fate of the world dependent on the success of Solas’ plan to return the elves to their former glory by tearing down the veil, a new beginning for some results in an ending for pretty much everyone else.  It could also be representative of a location of the next game.  Skyhold, the Inquisition’s base of operations, is located within the Frostbacks, and regardless of your choice at the end of Trespasser about what to do with the Inquisition, it’s unlikely the keep would have been abandoned, and therefore still an element to consider in the next installment.

The Idol: The camera continues to move across a number of connected pieces – a skull, the pained face of, what looks like, Andraste – evident by the crown upon her head – and then red veins creeping upward.  As the camera pulls back to take in the whole of the twisted idol, fans are offered an “ah-ha” moment that harkens us back to the days of Dragon Age 2.  The red lyrium idol found in a primeval thaig that caused people to go insane is the same idol shown here.  In DA2 just a shard from the idol caused Bartrand, Varric’s brother to do unspeakable things.  What remained of the idol was repurposed into Commander Meredith’s sword, so we know that idol no longer exists, so why show us the idol at all?

Red lyrium was a major factor in Inquisition; the source of it and its effects were explored at length (finding it growing out of people was horrifying), so it’s a good guess that red lyrium, and the images represented within the idol will play a role in DA4.  Andraste is the founder of the Chantry, and one of your companions from Inquisition is now Divine.  Red lyrium in small, measured doses offers superhuman abilities, and is considered an anti-magic substance, and with the tenuous peace between mages and templars, perhaps by using red lyrium, those against mages will try to finally rid Thedas of magic.

The red veins also reminded me of blood magic, a much frowned upon use of magic in Thedas, with exception in the Tevinter Imperium.  With the Inquisitor thrusting a dagger into the mapped region of Tevinter at the end of Trespasser, it’s also possible that the story of DA4 will finally take us there, to not only explore this other world and the magical freedoms and politics associated, but also to see our old friend, Dorian again.  If you remember, he was part of a group looking to reform Tevinter, and we can be sure there are many opposed to the idea.  And powerful mages going head to head definitely sounds like at least a side quest with perhaps another excuse to use red lyrium?

The Mural: The camera draws back further and a painting appears behind the idol; one that resembles artwork Solas once painted upon the walls in his space within Skyhold.  The Dread Wolf appears on one side, the idol remains in the middle, and an elf stands in opposition.  At first glance, I thought it might be Solas warring with himself, but upon closer inspection, the elf is white haired surrounded by fire.  What we learned about Solas aka Fen’Harel during Trespasser was that he’s considered a god, and not just any god but the one that created the veil and tricked the other gods, trapping them behind it.

My guess?  It’s another Evanuris, the god-like Elgar’nan finally released from his captivity.  Known as the all-father and god of vengeance, whose symbol is associated with fire, wouldn’t he be the most logical choice to seek revenge upon Solas?  With the idol between them, the theory that red lyrium could play a major part in DA4, possibly swaying the outcome, feels like an understatement.

I lied.  I can’t end this without talking about…

The Words: And then finally, Solas speaks.  “So, you found me at last.  I suppose you have questions.”  Each game in Dragon Age has a new protagonist, and because of the spoken words in the trailer, words that echo those already spoken to the Inquisitor during Trespasser, I believe we’ll be playing as yet another new protagonist in search of Fen’Harel…among other things.  My reasoning, while I’d love to see my Warden again, that’s a dissertation for another day, is because Solas’ words feel as if he’s speaking to someone he doesn’t personally know.  While Solas will most likely be aware of this new protagonist, they will be searching for him after all, they probably won’t meet until these fateful words are spoken.

And then the teaser ends with #TheDreadWolfRises. ((chills)) Boom!  It’s all about Solas.  I may have squealed a bit. Many fans have a love/hate relationship with Solas, but I find him interesting and the possibilities are so exciting!

A new Dragon Age is on the way!  Eek!  Sorry.  I can’t help it.

Oh, there’s so much more to talk about, and this is already much longer than intended because you know I can talk Dragon Age all day long, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.  Are you excited about what DA4 has in store?  Do you agree or disagree with any of my theories?  What did you see in the teaser?  Let’s chat!

Advertisements

I Finally Played DA: Inquisition DLCs

DAII am so thankful for having such generous friends, like “D”, who let me borrow his XBox One in order to complete the Dragon Age Inquisition story line.

I still have a 360, which is by no means a bad thing, except to the multi-billion dollar gaming industry that dictates my game play.  I love the Dragon Age series, for many of you, this is not new information – just type in “Dragon Age” into my search bar to see all of the devotion.  I’ve already done a number of posts on the series, and so much more…

When it was announced that the DLCs for Inquisition, the extra content that gaming companies release that sometimes add a number of extra hours to enjoy, or not depending on the series, would not be released on older consoles, like my 360, I won’t lie, I was on the verge of tears.

Deep breath.

I had invested money and lots and lots of time to play the new game and then I was told I wouldn’t get any of the extras.  Nope.  Not having it.  It was kind of a slap in the face.  If the gaming companies are moving forward with the technology that comes with the newer consoles, then why did they even bother to release the game on the older ones?  I’m not going to rant about this now, but know there is a rant a comin’.

Needless to say, the DA:I extras did not disappoint and playing on the One was superior; the graphics are amazing, the details crisp, the subtitles and codex much easier to read.  I had one concern, moving over my character from the 360 to the One.  I read a number of articles that all said the same thing, but they were all incorrect.  I tried a variety of tactics to import the data, but they all failed, so if you’re like me, behind the times, let me give you a tip I received after talking directly with EA.

*If you started your game on the 360, you need to download the free version of The Black Emporium on the 360 before you can advance.  If you have all the DLCs for the One, you will obtain The Black Emporium in the pack.  Using the character you want to continue playing with, visit the emporium and create a new save.  On the screen there will be an option for exporting via the emporium to the One.  Nowhere did I ever find this information; most sites suggested using the cloud which, according to EA and my own findings, is incorrect.

You do need to have XBox Live in order to save this information to your account which is how the One will find it when you load it.  Now, on the One, under Extras there is the “Import from 360” option.  Character info will pop-up to ensure it’s the correct import and…Voila!  I wasted hours trying everything else.  Footnote, your character won’t import exactly, although it is pretty close, so I had to make a few changes which is why it’s good you start in the Black Emporium.

DAI JoHThe first DLC is Jaws of Hakkon, a new region to explore in the Frostback Basin.  There are a number of missions to complete while you search for the remains of the last Inquisitor, who is believed to have died in the area hundreds of years ago.  You will learn a great deal of history during this time with tales of the Avvars, the creation of the Seekers, and the previous Inquisitor and his political ties, lineage, and reasons for being in such a remote location.  The map is a bit confusing, as it is a place of peaks and valleys, so travelling from one location to another sometimes takes a little effort finding that one path.

With the new DLCs, you obtain new weapons and armor, but if you play these after the initial game, the armor ratings will be much lower than anything you currently have equipped, so use the schematics to build yourself something new, although most items remained of a lesser value than my current stock.  My favorites were both of the Qunari armors; they show a little skin and really are nice looking on your female Inquisitor in particular, and Dorian, because everything looks good on Dorian.

There are a lot of things to fight, so I think I ranked up twice before leaving the area (one must have been a carry over from Descent which I played first, because so much fighting), and there are loads of crafting items to utilize.  There are also more ocularum shards to find that will open a specific door in the area, useful before the boss fight.  Lastly, instead of runes, there are now sigils that have both positive and negative effects.  I didn’t use any, not yet anyway.

DAI DescentDLC number two is The Descent which takes place in the Deep Roads.  If you’ve played the previous two games, you’re probably like me and sort of huff at the thought of traipsing through the Deep Roads yet again, just as the Wardens must.  Wink wink.  Those blasted darkspawn!  And there are just. so. many and it is difficult.  Even at my high rank, I had to drop down from hard to normal in some areas because the enemies were just relentless and never ending.  I’m having nightmarish flashbacks just typing that.

I played Descent first, I’m not sure why, but if you’re early on in the game play, I would suggest visiting this area sooner than later because there is a ton of money to be made.  I think I ended up with 100,000 gold in addition to some great new armor and weapons.  You do have to be in Skyhold to access this mission from the war table, so you have a little time to rank up beforehand.

The Descent is a long, winding mission to solve the mystery of these random earthquakes that have started affecting the area.  This is of great importance because the dwarves mine lyrium, the whole of their economy, which both mages and Templars rely on.  You end up travelling further than anyone has before, and the landscape is quite beautiful and a little reminiscent of Blackreach in Skyrim.

Trespasser

The final DLC is Trespasser.  This is the one I couldn’t wait to get to – the end.  You cannot go back to anything unfinished once you begin, and you will receive a little pop-up at the war table with this warning.  The story takes place two years after you have defeated Corypheus, having been summoned by the council to the Winter Palace to defend whether there is still a need for the Inquisition.  After the events, you will have the opportunity to make this decision.

All of your friends have returned and you can interact with each, so make sure you talk to them multiple times to instigate cut scenes.  I played first as my female mage who romanced Cullen.  Great cut scene, fyi.  There is also a great scene with Dorian, as well as a couple of fun things with Vivienne and Josie.  There are dog treats to find which you will give to the mabari Cullen has taken a liking to that add perks such as cunning and magic, etc. but as this is the last DLC, I was confused as to why this was necessary.  Your rank will be high, your armor and weapons will be top notch, and you will have so many abilities you won’t know which ones to choose from most of the time.  This is one thing I wish they would have included from the previous two games, the ability to open the wheel of choices for all those abilities you have acquired so you can actually use everything in your arsenal.

This DLC is a great story for a number of reasons, one of them being that it continues to tie together other topics from the previous games.  The eluvians, the elven mirrors that have played a role in each game, are your means of travel in Trespasser while you try to stop a pretty big threat.  I won’t give anything away, but will only say that this paves the way for a great Dragon Age 4, which is years away, if at all, since it hasn’t been announced yet, and the creator of the series left Bioware a little while ago. 😦  So, wait, there’s a job opening?!  Bioware, please announce at least the promise of a new game…there are still so many story lines that require closure!

I freely admit it that I will play these DLCs at least two more times with my other characters I’ve created so I can see the endings for each, or at least until my friend asks for his XBox back.  This is the same friend I was able to encourage to play the game in the first place because of my (great) interest in the series.  For gamers who like RPGs, start at the beginning with Dragon Age Origins, forgive Bioware for Dragon Age II, but still enjoy it, and then find your way to Inquisition where all these stories converge.  You won’t be disappointed.

Game on!

Dragon Age Fanfic Update

DA-MageI’ve been updating my Dragon Age fanfic weekly over at AO3 (Archive of Our Own) and because I was initially sharing my writing here, I felt a little careless that I had ignored the updating here as well.

I write under a pseudonym on the AO3 because I wasn’t sure of what kind of writing I was going to explore through this avenue, and this may sound odd, but I thought I might be embarrassed.

Truth is, I really enjoy writing this story, and I have written a “mature” chapter (or two) which involves a little smut.  I like that word.  It’s totally tame, especially compared to some of the stories I’ve read on the site, but it was something I wanted to challenge myself to write.  There’s a first time for everything, right?!

I will not be posting the more mature chapters here, but will share the link when they go up, as you have to choose acceptance for such content before continuing on the site.  That’s for any of you minors out there.  😉

I appreciate your continued support, and would love your feedback when we get to those racier scenes as it’s so different and new for me, but until then, enjoy Chapter Two of Redcliffe and The Circle.

~

The village had been under siege for days from a horde of undead from the castle, and the lad had been on lookout duty awaiting reinforcements, as they were ill prepared to survive another attack.  The people had taken refuge in the Chantry, hence the silence.  We followed the path that twisted down the hillside past the windmill, as the boy tried to catch his breath amidst prayers and thanks.

The heart of the village had been built on stilts and it rose slightly above Lake Calenhad. I do not know why I found this odd. Perhaps because I could not understand how it was defensible? I found that having that idea was odd as well. The silence had been deceiving. From a distance the village seemed almost abandoned, but there was a great amount of noise coming from the Chantry, and we were informed that the leaders of the town could be found within.

Villagers and soldiers moved quietly about, looking beleaguered and downtrodden after many days of turmoil.  The few knights present seemed to be gathering supplies and organizing what they could in preparation for yet another onslaught.  A small training area was filled with young, inept men, and it was clear that if they were going to survive the night, they would need help.

The doors to the Chantry were heavy, probably reinforced, which was good, and took a little effort to open. The stench of fear was palpable. The villagers were like refugees in their own town, huddled together, praying for mercy.  I overheard conversations of plans to leave the area, traveling to destinations outside Ferelden in the hopes they might outrun the evils here and the Blight.  I heard mention of Kirkwall, a city across the Waking Sea that was taking in refugees, and it reiterated to me that no matter what, we had to succeed.

The moment that thought settled in my mind, I shivered.  “No matter what” was a broad phrase with many meanings, but how many dire circumstances could one country survive?  An undead army was on the march in Redcliffe, the Brecilian Forest had had werewolves, darkspawn were scorching the earth in droves with an archdemon at their backs, and civil war was tearing us apart at the seams. Then there were the other facts, such as the king was dead, the Wardens betrayed, and there were only five people (and a trusty mabari) trying to unite all the inhabitants of Ferelden against the Blight.

A man stood in the center of a small group of soldiers and Templars, clearly the one in charge. When the men disbanded, I saw him rub his face in exhaustion and frustration – the burden of responsibility. We could sympathize.

His name was Teagan, the brother of the Arl, and he remembered Alistair as a boy.  His appearance softened, and he greeted us warmly, even referring to me as “my lady”.  I was relieved that he bore mages no ill will, despite the magical nature of the attacks. He even made a remark about my beauty to which I could not help but blush.  He was sly in his flirtation, and I was compelled to return the compliment. I was unsure how Alistair might respond, but it was all so new and unfamiliar, and honestly, it was harmless. I was starting to feel more like a woman, and less like a thing…it was nice to discover there was a distinction.

We learned from Bann Teagan that the castle had been inaccessible for days, and no one had been heard from, including the Arl and his family.  He had been duty bound to protect the village and its people, but with many of the castle’s soldiers scattered in search of a cure for the Arl’s strange illness, they were unprepared and incapable of doing more than riding out the storm behind the Chantry’s walls.

We took it upon ourselves to do what we could to help the situation by recruiting those in the village who had abilities to lend.  In our efforts we discovered an elven spy, who, after some persuading, offered us Loghain’s name as his contractor.  That man had his claws dug deeply into every region; playing a game we knew nothing about.

I knew very little of the politics outside the Circle, we had our own, but from what I understood the Arl was a powerful man with a swaying voice in the political circles.  This was one of the reasons Alistair suggested we seek him out. He would be a strong ally against Loghain, and that was something we desperately needed.  Obviously, this is why he had been singled out with hostile intent, so he couldn’t offer us his help or stand against Loghain. Rescuing him now seemed a priority, and in order to reach him we would have to defeat this current threat.

Night fell, and what came with it was something I could barely believe.

My time in the Circle was a time of study. We were taught about demons and spirits and the dangers of blood magic, but for the most part, it was clinical, with the exception of the Harrowing.  The Fade was an elusive entity, almost beyond study.  The ever-present threat of possession and the possibility of becoming an abomination were always at the back of a mage’s mind, but within the Circle walls, for the most part, these things were just ideas. We, as mages, had little experience with fighting, let alone actually defending ourselves against a legitimate threat.

I’ll never forget that moment I saw my first darkspawn in the Kocari Wilds.  My stomach sank, and with it my heart, that something so truly horrific could exist. They were beings of anger and hatred, with no other sense then to fight and kill.  They had no language beyond the garbled noises they made, and yet they could unite and strike in formation, leaving death and devastation in their wake. They scorched the very earth and left twisted remnants of themselves behind as reminders to those lucky enough to survive, that true evil existed and was living among them. Or below them, as it were.

I learned quickly that they were almost as frail as any mortal, as they were made of flesh and bone just as we were, so when I got my first glimpse of the creatures that now stormed towards us from the castle, I almost felt a sense of relief.  They were half skeleton beings with fleshy remains that hung like ribbons from various body parts.  Some wore bits of armor and carried weapons and shields, but they appeared fragile in their bony state.

They descended upon us in a cloud of bright green magic, and as I struck them, I realized their frail state was merely an illusion. The magic that bound them was powerful, and it took more effort than I could have imagined to defeat them.  Wave upon wave of the undead came from multiple directions, and for some time, I feared it may be never ending, but in the end we were victorious, but not without a few close calls.

Alistair, Sten, and Keiko had run into the thick of battle, and there were a couple of times when I saw them nearly surrounded and a panic and fear I had never felt before crept in.  I would yell out commands to both Morrigan and Leliana and somehow we were able to hold back the impending doom that seemed inevitable. This would be one of those arguments for why it was best to avoid personal connections within ranks – impaired judgment – something I would deliberate over when I was alone.

I sent out healing magic when I saw each of them wane in strength or stamina, and I was overcome with relief when the last of the corpses were struck down with no others on the horizon.

The Circle had definitely not prepared me for this.

We reunited in the main square and I looked everyone over in case they needed additional healing, but other than being exhausted from battle, everyone was miraculously unharmed save a few minor cuts and bruises. I made a mental note to remember to ask the First Enchanter for more training in spells that would be useful in protecting my companions amidst battle when we traveled to the Circle for aid. Maybe even Morrigan could teach me a few new tricks.  I would ask her when we were next in camp.  For now, we had to plan our next move.

~

Fanfiction Madness Continues…

Origins-WardenShieldYou may be wondering, “Why are you wasting your time with fanfiction writing?” And I would respond with a blank stare, before I started stumbling around for a way to make you understand.  People who are “fans” of something, and I mean devoted fans, get it right away, for others it takes a little more persuading.  Plus, I’m hoping the creators of the Dragon Age series will find me and offer me a job.  😉

Until a couple of years ago, I had no idea what fanfiction was.  Surprising, right?!  I had written an episode of the TV show Alias in college, but that was to build up my portfolio and to learn to emulate an existing voice, I never thought of it as fan fiction, although that is exactly what it was.  I was taking characters someone else had created and I wrote my own story.  I’ve been planning on writing a post on fandom, and this sort of ties into it, because there is no telling what will strike a chord in you.

Dragon Age to me is what Star Wars is to The Sis.  I’ll expand more on this in the other post.  As a fantasy enthusiast in a first person game, it’s easy to get swept up into the adventure and romance.  Not all my friends like fantasy and sci-fi so they may not understand, but how does one not want to be chosen to save the world, wield magic, create unlikely alliances, and find romance with a powerful witch or a sassy assassin or a sweet warrior?!  Well, I guess non-fantasy people.

Anyway…the other side of this coin is that as a writer, you have a fully flushed out world with fully realized characters, and there’s no pressure, it’s just fun to explore.  I love to write, it’s what I want to do, but as writers we place so much pressure on ourselves to get it “right” that we often lose the spark, especially when we’re still considered novices.  We don’t have anyone waiting for our next great piece, we don’t have fans coming to us in droves wondering what happens next…((pouts))

I’ve been doing a lot of this fanfic writing while at my serving job, because I often have long spaces of time with nothing to do.  I can come and go in this story without feeling any loss of momentum, or having to get in the right frame of mind, and at least I’m writing something – and I really like it.  To think about characters I have come to know in situations not previously explored is just fun.  Which brings me to my next installment in the Dragon Age story.  I hope you like it.  If you want to see where the madness began, with a writing prompt image, click here.

RedcliffeVillage

Redcliffe Village

The village of Redcliffe was famous for its hilltop windmill, and after hearing about it for years from the Templars who traveled Ferelden in search of what they considered uncontrolled magic; I was excited to finally see the twirling sails for myself. What I was not excited about was the eerie silence of the village that followed. As a Circle mage, my life was limited to the walls of the tower; silence was my old friend. Approaching a place that should be bustling with life, only to find it quiet, was to put it mildly, unsettling – as was the conversation with Alistair before we moved any further.

He asked to speak to me alone for which I received some knowing looks from the rest of the party who continued forward, allowing us some privacy. I was immediately tense. I found it easy to continue to maintain my distance from Alistair while on our journey, and although done purposefully, I hadn’t thought he had noticed. The events in the cave, the magnitude of what lay ahead of us, in addition to my irrational thoughts about a nonexistent relationship weighed heavily upon me, and I felt it best to recapture my level-headedness, through distance.

The Circle, although full of people, allowed each of us a great amount of time to find solitude, especially as we grew older. As children, there were always elders to watch over us, but even as a child I remember keeping my distance from the others; the bitter taste of betrayal from my family lingered for some time. Being sent to a strange place, to be treated like a dangerous object, to never be free…I didn’t know that was what lay in store for me when the Templars came for me, but my parents had.

But I digress. I know I had grown quiet since leaving the Brecilian Forest, but it was a habit, a coping mechanism, or whatever you want to call it, because retreating to the safety of my own mind was where I found comfort. I had not intended it to be alienating, especially to my companions, and I said as much when Alistair asked if I was all right.

I was also troubled by how the world suffered. Being locked away, sheltered, I only had the smallest of insights into what everyone else had to deal with on a regular basis. So far, each time we traveled somewhere new there was a new threat. The darkspawn were a recent development, but villagers had to deal with civil war and in-fighting, dragon attacks, bad crops, bandits, and so much more while trying to raise a family and just live their lives. The Dalish had been dealing with werewolves and were continually on the move due to a variety of fears and threats.

The mages only had the Templars to worry about, and the constant fear of possession, and the threat of tranquility – our world was contained, limited. So much more could happen on the outside, and I found it oddly thrilling. When Duncan recruited me, I had no idea what he was truly offering me…I’m not sure if he knew either, but what he had done was open the world to me…and then there was Alistair.

Not only did he want to talk about me and my well being since the cave, he bombarded me with news so surprising I was left literally speechless. As if our challenges weren’t already great, he shared with me that he was the bastard half-brother of the late king, making him the last in the Theirin bloodline.

I can only imagine the look I had upon my face, because he had to stifle a laugh. He shifted uncomfortably under my scrutiny as I tried to make sense of what this meant. Not only did this completely change him in my eyes, it affected our entire mission. Maker’s Breath! He could be the next king and he was wandering the countryside, killing darkspawn…I wondered if Loghain knew, which of course he did. As Maric’s former friend and advisor, I was sure he was privy to any number of the old king’s secrets.

Alistair assured me that this changed nothing, that he was devoted to our cause and the Grey Wardens, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was the beginning of something so much bigger. The Arl of Redcliffe would know what to do. Our only hope was that he had recovered from whatever strange illness he had contracted.

I joked with Alistair about being a prince and the look of horror that dawned was one of the funniest things I had ever witnessed.

And then it happened– closure, or what I hoped it would become. His confession was what I needed to regain that perspective I was so in need of, and I got it (although I soon discovered it was to be short lived). The decision had been made for me, and for a moment my heart ached at the loss. I swallowed hard, and with it, the intention of burying my growing feelings. I suppose Morrigan’s suggestion offered us at least a chance at something, a connection, but it rang hollow now. It always had.

There would be many who would want to utilize this information to their own benefit, even if he chose to remain a Warden, his name would always hold sway, and should he become king, I was a mage. He could also be considered a threat to those political factions vying for the throne for their own purposes, and a target for anyone wishing to exploit such a connection. We would have to do what we could to conceal this knowledge.

I stared at him for a moment, longer than I intended, as I tried to wrap my head around the idea of him becoming king. He was a strong and brave warrior, but there was a vulnerability about him, something Morrigan disliked in him, which of course I found endearing. He would need to be protected, and although I disliked the idea of telling all our companions, we had to watch over him. He could not be allowed to charge into the fray, or take unnecessary risk, although I would never tell him that.

We had speculated that we were probably the last two Grey Wardens in Ferelden, but now knowing that he was also the last in a royal line…and I thought we had problems before.

~

This post got really long, so if you’d like to read the rest of the chapter, you can find it here.

Have a great weekend!

The Dragon Age Obsession Saga Continues…Part 4

InquistionPosterAs I’ve now finished a second playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition, I felt it was time to wrap up this series of posts.  Here are posts one, two, and three which are in regards to starting the game and importing a history, character creation, and dialogue and romance options with companions to bring you up to speed.  I am unable to discuss any of the DLCs because after the first one was released, Bioware decided not to release any others on the XBox 360, so I haven’t purchased any of them.

The anger I have about the gaming industry’s ploys to wrangle more money out of their gamers is real.  I was not ready to fork out $400 for a new gaming console, but if I want to know the rest of the story, that is exactly what I’ll have to do, and because you all know I’m passionate about this story, I’m going to do it…very, very soon.  ARGH!  As this post is not a rant on that, I’ll save that for fuel for another day.

This post is about the grand scale of the story of the world of Dragon Age.  Inquisition is part three and a culmination of the events in the previous two games where story lines and characters come together.

Origins-WardenShieldIn Origins, game one, your protagonist is from one of six “origin” stories (2 human story lines, 2 elf, and 2 dwarf)  in which each avenue ends with you becoming a Grey Warden, an old order of warriors chosen to fight a specific evil known as darkspawn and their archdemon, an old god twisted by their tainted blood.  They live underground and are rather hideous, similar to Tolkien’s orcs.  The presence of an archdemon is a time referred to as a Blight and when the Grey Wardens are needed most, as they are the only real solution to ending a Blight.  In this first game, there are a number of obstacles to overcome while you try to unite the country against the impending threat, and there is treachery around every corner as the Wardens are declared traitors after an initial battle against the darkspawn.

There are a number of characters who you meet in game one that will progress forward through each game, some of them taking on major roles in Inquisition.  Same can be said of characters from game two.  Fun fact: if you’re game one character is a human mage, you will be related to the protagonist in game two.

DA2In game two, you are a human whose family has escaped the Blight and traveled across the sea in search of a safe haven.  The entire game takes place in and around the city of Kirkwall.  Although many people didn’t care for this game, especially in comparison to Origins – you could only play as a human, there was a lot of repetition in the floor plans, and the primary single location of the city as the backdrop – this is where game three is setup; the conflict between the mages and the Templars.  Without giving too much away, one of your allies takes drastic action that incites a war between the mages, who are considered dangerous and are required to live in prison-like societies called Circles, and their captors/overseers, the Templars.

Fun fact: there is a Dragon Age 2 DLC that introduces you to a powerful darkspawn named Corypheus.  It was Hawke’s father, a mage, and the Grey Wardens who imprisoned him.

DAIGame three begins 10 years after the events of game one.  Your protagonist is found as the sole survivor of a terrible, cataclysmic tragedy where a resolution to the Mage-Templar War was supposed to transpire.  A conclave was called at the Temple of Sacred Ashes in Haven, a village you will have discovered in game one.  With no memories of what happened and a strange mark upon your hand, you are considered responsible for a number of the current problems, including a giant hole in the sky; a Breach in the veil, the line between reality and the spirit world, is the source of a demon invasion.  An old form of justice, an inquisition, is formed to solve the many problems that the world now faces.

Everything you’ve learned from the past two games will pay off as you make your way through Inquisition.  The things you know about the Wardens are relevant.  A relic you found in game two has resurfaced with a vengeance.  You will see old, familiar faces (Hello, Flemeth) and meet interesting, new ones (Well, hellooo Solas).  The world of Dragon Age is vast and all encompassing, and you will discover how well it’s constructed.  I instantly became devoted to the series because it combined things I love such as fantasy, medieval times, old world orders, magic, dragons, romance, and adventure, and then went above and beyond to make it a fully fleshed out universe.

As I’ve tried to end each of these posts with some relevance to writing, you will find, if you choose to play, how key world building is and character development.  It’s key to think multiple steps ahead, whether you’re writing a single story or a series.  How do people know one another?  This may reflect in how supposed strangers speak to one another upon meeting – there may be a history there.  What is their religious affiliation?  How do they feel about the history of their people?  Their government?  What consequences do their actions have later?  This is a good one to consider, especially in a serial.  Actions taken by a character may have unforeseen consequences that may be fun to explore later.  Think of the domino effect.

Consider epic tales like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones.  I would count Dragon Age among them.  There is so much more going on than the happenings of one person, and you get to live it first hand, well, vicariously through your character.  Your decisions have bearing on the world around you and shape it.  You become a leader in each game; you build loyalty and friendships or enemies.  You get to save the world, and maybe the boy too.  😉

Aren’t these a few of the reasons we write?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of posts as much as I’ve enjoyed talking about it.  I could do so much more.  I’m continuing my fanfiction shortly, so if you’re not inclined to play, you can follow along the journey of my Origin character as she tries to save the world and the boy.  I will continue to post them here, as well as on Wattpad and Archive of Our Own (which I just realized needs to be updated).

Have a great weekend and Happy Writing!

Writing in Character (Even If They Aren’t Your Own)

TypewriterFontWriterI’ve been struggling to get into the head of my protagonist for the pilot I’ve been working on.  I have a few big decisions to make, but have yet to settle on anything definitive.  As the story is about sisters who have been separated – set against a space odyssey backdrop – I had this idea to begin or end each episode with the elder writing letters to the younger.  I thought of it as an exercise, in the hopes it might give me more perspective on these characters as a whole.

While I’m at work, I often find I have large blocks of time to make notes, write scenes, story ideas, etc. and it was my plan to utilize this time for this specific purpose, instead I have begun to write letters from Dragon Age characters to each other.

Yes, yes, I know.

I’m currently on my second play-through of Inquisition, so I suppose it was just a matter of time.  I had this random idea of what some of the current characters might say to their old friends from the first game, specifically, the hero, who is referenced in each game, but has yet to make another appearance.  A number of other characters make appearances throughout the series, a few becoming major characters in Inquisition (game three, and the most recent).

Leliana(Inquisition)My first letter is from Leliana.  In Inquisition she is one of your advisors, but she was previously a companion, and possible love interest, and her growth as a character has been noted throughout the series.  Her letter is a companion piece to the fanfiction I’ve been writing, so the letter is addressed to the mage of that tale.  The second letter I’ve been writing is from Cullen, a Templar who, although has had only small parts in the previous two games, has become an advisor and love Cullen(Inquisition)interest in the current game.  As my protagonist of the fanfiction knows Cullen from their time together early on in the first game, I developed a story in my head that they have remained friends all these years.

I’ve written quite a bit in just a few days, and although it’s not truly relevant to my own portfolio, it’s a fun exercise to get me out of my head, and it helps to break up the monotony at work.  I may post them, I haven’t decided yet.

As writers we have dozens of characters roaming around in our heads at any given time, and sometimes it’s difficult to know them all intimately.  We have to figure out techniques to bring all their traits and quirks to light.  In regards to my pilot, I’ve discovered I know some of the characters I wasn’t even focused on entirely much better than I thought.  As I’ve been concentrating on figuring out the protagonist, I found a couple of interesting sites and tips to help understand our characters better and will share those in the next few days.

In the mean time, if you are struggling with character development, try having them write a letter.  They could write to an old friend, someone they admire, a teacher they’ve always meant to thank, or maybe a letter to their past/future self.  Who knows what you’ll discover.

Good luck and happy writing!

Writing Prompt Challenge Accepted #11

Irene SheriThis image makes me think of the poem by Byron, “She Walks in Beauty” and I feel compelled to write a poem, which I just don’t do.  Be kind.  😉

She walks in moonlight with gentle grace

A coy smile upon her lips

A gentle sway in her hips

She knows he watches from a distance

The heat of his stare a fire upon her skin

A pause mid-step to relish the moment

Turns into a dance of seduction

At first she plays shy, ignoring the pull

She glances at the flowers

And tosses her hair

She hears the quick footsteps of her lover drawing near

Her heart skips a beat

And she waits

The footsteps have stilled

And yet she waits

A soft breeze stirs around her and she slowly turns

An innocent gesture draws his attention

One that stirs desire

She stands in moonlight

The embodiment of his heart’s silent yearning

He takes a step forward and reaches out

To find it all a dream

The following is a little excerpt from my Dragon Age fanfic that I am hoping to continue now that contest season is drawing to a close.  I’m not sure where this section will fall in the series, perhaps it’s the opening for Chapter 2: Redcliffe…?  I had this visual of my mage taking a moment after a battle.

For those unfamiliar with what I’m doing, I posted an image of concept art some time ago as a Writing Prompt from the game, Dragon Age Origins called the Brecilian Forest.  I was frustrated with my writing at the time and took to writing some fan fiction.  I loved it!  If you are interested in reading Chapter 1, click here.  It’s written in the first person like a journal.  *The following is a rough draft sample.

My feet swayed slightly across the surface of the water, causing a small ripple effect in the otherwise perfect stillness.  I sighed deeply, trying to gather my thoughts, when I heard the familiar footsteps of the one person I was trying to escape.

Should I do as Morrigan suggested or hold out for something more?  We had barely glimpsed the possibilities and I was feeling more compelled to play the paramour the more time I considered it.  What would it be like to be flirty?  How would he even respond?  Raised in the Chantry, I can imagine he’d blush.  Being free of the Circle was definitely expanding my horizons.

A moment later he was standing beside me.

“Would you care to join me?”  I asked.  I looked up, shielding my eyes from the glaring sun, and found Alistair without his armor.

A casual Alistair was quite the sight.  After the battle, the weight of his armor must have felt heavy, and he was quick to remove it.  I wondered who had aided him.  Surely not Sten?  I laughed a little at the thought.  His tunic and wool pants hung just so, and I had to force my gaze upward.  He looked tired.

“I don’t wish to interrupt your solitude.”  He countered.

Since Ostagar, one of us would seek out the other after any battle.  I had never even thought about that until this moment.  I patted the spot beside me, and smiled as he came to sit with me.  He removed his boots, rolled up his pant legs, and dipped his toes in the water.  He shivered slightly at the cool relief.

He didn’t say anything.  Neither did I.  We just sat there, dangling our feet.  I let my mind go blank and just reveled in the moment.  We had survived yet another fight.  We were still together.  As I sat beside him, I realized that I had never had a friend like him.  Things were just different in the Circle.  Alistair, regardless of circumstance, was my friend.  One I knew I could count on like no other.  That thought brought a special smile.  After a short time, I laid back on the dock, closed my eyes, and enjoyed the silence.  He soon followed suit.

“You were marvelous this night.”  His voice sounded distant, as if he were drifting off to sleep.

I turned to look at him and let my gaze linger, knowing I was not to be discovered.  He seemed at peace.  “As were you.”

I felt his hand drift closer to mine, just enough to touch, and that small hint sent my pulse racing.  And instead of fighting every impulse, I succumbed.  I let my hand move to take his, and when I felt his fingers intertwine with mine, I finally exhaled.  Out of the corner, I saw him glance my way.  After a long moment, which equated with me building up some semblance of nerve, I turned toward him, and was caught off guard by the innocent, bright smile that greeted me.  He inched over and closed the distance and I could not but help to smile in return.

Happy Friday everyone!

The Dragon Age Obsession Saga Continues…Part 3

InquistionPosterSo in my absence and “sticking my head in the sand” I have neglected one of my favorite topics, Dragon Age.  For those of you who are new to my rambles, I have a particular fascination with the game series, some might call it an “obsession”, I would almost call it that myself, except I saw this…Obsessed:Dedicated

…and I felt a lot better about it. 🙂

I started this series some time ago, here’s Part I and Part II.  I’ve decided to write Part III on the companions, the merry band of misfits you recruit to join your cause.  I was trying to go in order of how one might proceed through the game, so perhaps this one should be about story, but Dragon Age is currently amidst a March Madness-type narrowing down of favorite characters to create The Dragon Age Ultimate Party, so I felt this was appropriate.  My choices, just FYI, are The Warden from Origins as the leader along with Alistair for the warrior, Varric from DA2 for the rogue, and Dorian from Inquisition for the mage.  #DAUltimateParty

So before I discuss the companions, of which I won’t go into too much, because “Spoilers”.  Any Doctor Who fans out there? 😉  Here are a few of the pros and cons.  In the two previous games certain actions were only available after a character “liked” you enough.  Their approval allowed for romance options and loyalty.  There was gift giving available and specific tokens for individuals, in addition to personal quests that would garner favor.  A bar on their character profile page gave you some indication of your friendship with them, but that disappeared in Inquisition.  At first it really bothered me, because how am I supposed to know if someone likes me enough?!  But this is more true to life.  The “so-and-so approves” or “greatly disapproves” text still pops up, so your only indication of character favor is based on how many times you’ve seen your favorite agree or disagree with your choices.

Also out for the majority of conversations is the positive, negative, or sarcastic indicator that allows you to choose how you would like to respond.  The Sis saves before every. single. conversation. which allows her to see the results of each conversation option and its effects.  She wastes a lot of time doing this, but she also probably has a better understanding overall.  I will, on the other hand, play the first time through just as I want.  As I always play “nice” when a character’s morality is measured, it’s fairly easy for me to distinguish what my character would say.  In all of the games, this wins favor with some while others find my do-gooder behavior tiresome.

In keeping with the idea of conversation, there’s lots of it!  This is something I truly appreciate, and Dragon Age as a series has never failed in this.  You can make quite a bit of conversation while in camp, but one of the best additions was the added supplementary conversations while you’re just walking around.  I became rather partial to who I kept in my party because of this; Dorian, Blackwall, and Sera seemed to be the most talkative and some of the things they talked about…so much fun!

InquisitionParty

I’ve started playing the Mass Effect series, also from Bioware, and with the confirmation of a game 4 due out next year, I’m hoping they take a cue from Dragon Age in regards to the romances; conversations, scenes, options.  With Inquisition, Bioware raised the bar.  Romance options are not only based on race, but also sexual orientation.  In the previous games, there were characters that could be romanced specifically by either a male or female lead, some by both, but this time around, there were more lines drawn.  Dorian is gay, as is Sera.  Solas can only be romanced by a female elf.  Commander Cullen, an NPC, is (luckily) a romance option who can only be wooed by a female human or elf.  This approach, in addition to creating a transgendered character found in Iron Bull’s party, has garnered Bioware a great deal of praise and plenty of accolades including a Special Recognition Award from GLAAD.

Here is the lineup: Your advisors are Leliana, Josephine, and Cullen, all NPCs, but of which two are romance options.  I would include Cassandra, a warrior, as well since she’s with you from the very start and initiates the Inquisition.  Along your travels you can recruit the following: Varric – a dwarven rogue, Solas – an elven mage, Blackwall – a human warrior, Iron Bull – a Qunari warrior, Dorian – a human mage, Sera – an elven rogue, Vivienne – a human mage, and Cole…he’s a bit of a complicated rogue.

What you’ll realize is that these characters are 3-dimensional, and this is a great lesson for us storytellers!  There is diversity, and passion, and spirit, and those make for good characters in any medium.

As I’ve rambled, yet again, I’ll wrap it up.  Goodness, I almost need to do another post on this topic alone.  The politics in the game surround a mage/templar conflict.  The companions you recruit all have their own backstory and ideas on how this problem should be resolved.  Because of this conflict, I chose to play my first time through as a female human mage.  Most characters and even NPCs will have their viewpoints and will treat you accordingly until you “win” them over.  There’s fear and skepticism, conflicting religious ideology, political intrigue, and so much more.  As you move forward, making decisions, and influencing the people around you, you will find that this is a fully fleshed out world where your choices have consequences and can shape the world around you.  Again I say, “It is so much fun!”

If you decide to play and want to know your romance options, here’s a guide from IGN.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

The Dragon Age Obsession Saga Continues…Part 2

InquistionPosterSo, it’s time to continue the obsession saga series known as Dragon Age. I present to you Part 2: Creating your Character aka The Protagonist.

As I mentioned in the first part, I will discuss topics in the order they are encountered, so this post will deal with character creation and we’ll move on from there.

Character creation is one of my favorite things to do in games. If I could get paid to make characters all day, I totally would. Some games do this better than others, and I had really high hopes for this option in Inquisition given the previous games, and from early game footage we knew the graphics were going to be amazing, and for the most part it is really good, but it has its downsides.

InquisitionCharactersIn Origins (game 1) you were given a choice of 6 different origin stories to play through as an elf, a human, or a dwarf. Comments made in game play, and how NPC characters treated you, etc. were all based on this choice. In 2 you could only play as a human, Hawke, which many people didn’t care for (in addition to a number of other factors – we won’t go into that here – I still liked the game). There was also a DLC called the Black Emporium that allowed you to change your character’s features at no extra cost, i.e. gold or favor anytime you wished. Inquisition returns to the original format of different races and includes a fourth option, the Qunari; a race of large beings with horns, usually. You do not have an option to change features, but Bioware did try to have the character creator mirror actual game play, and it is very close.  What this means is what you see is what you get, pretty much.

The character creator allows for multiple interesting features to incorporate such as unnatural eye colors (pink, yellow, what-have-you or a combination of any along the color wheel), scars, tattoos, and even a broken nose. You could easily spend hours creating just the right eye size, nose shape, chin depth, even the height of the ears, and that’s all great, except…

Here are the downsides. There are no distinctions in hair options for male and female characters. They removed a number of the good ones from previous games (where did my cute bob with the braids go?!) and instead added 13 bald-ish options. You can go completely bald, have stubble, have stubble with a round head, or stubble with a slightly cone head, and the list goes on for 13 different options…gracious.

And let’s talk about beard options for male characters – there are like 40. C’mon now. I realize there are so many other things going on in character creation, especially having 4 races, but you took away multiple choices for one of the most essential features – hair to include all those others?

Side note, here’s a link to a video about some of the ugliest characters created, but be forewarned for explicit language. I found it hilarious!

One feature some gamers didn’t like was the lack of choice in body type. Elves are small framed, dwarves are short, Qunari are tall, and humans are well, human. There is no choice in making any character taller or shorter, heavier or thinner. You cannot create the rare tall elf, or the randomly short Qunari.

So after painstakingly creating your perfect character, choosing a voice of which there are only two across the board for any race of male and female characters, and a name which no one will ever use in game play because gaming is not quite that advanced yet, you start your game.

Depending on your race, whether you’re female or male, and depending on your class especially in this game, you will be treated accordingly in this world. Elves are second-class citizens, dwarves are generally not surface dwellers, Qunari are from a foreign land and in previous games have been referred to as an invading force trying to convert the world to their beliefs, and then there is the “ruling” class, the humans. In Inquisition, regardless of your class, you will be from a noble family, although if you are a mage, you will have come from a circle; a place where mages are kept locked away for the protection of the people.

This is the driving storyline of Inquisition due to events started in DA:2. We’ll talk about story in another post.

image (12)What makes the character creator fun, you might ask?  As a writer, sometimes I find it fun to try to create a character that might resemble one of my own creations.  If you’re really talented you can create a character that looks like someone else, like this, Nigel Thornberry.  So, after all my time spent in the creator, this was my first character, who I really liked despite her questioning eyebrows. 🙂  She does not resemble any of my imaginary friends, but after the play through, I suppose she could.  I really grew to love her and her choices, despite what some of her companions thought.

All right, that’s quite enough for one day. The Dragon Age Obsession Saga will continue with posts in regards to dialogue, companions, and story shortly.

Happy Sunday!

The Dragon Age Obsession Saga Continues…Part I

InquistionPosterSo the time has finally come for me to talk about Dragon Age, Inquisition.  Oh, yes…and I have lots to say, so let’s just call this Part I in a series, aka The Introduction.  Let me start off with this, I love it!  It’s beautiful, it’s vast, there’s plenty to do and see, and there’s lots of content to keep you occupied.  I finished it a little over a week ago, and immediately felt this void…I was sad to say goodbye.  I had spent so many hours with my merry band of misfits, and I was conflicted about whether or not to start a new character or do the responsible thing and do all the “grown up” things I had been putting off since it arrived.

There is this odd side effect to game playing – a sense of accomplishment.  You have a list of quests or things to find, etc. and as you complete each one, you can feel the satisfaction that you did something with your day.  Don’t judge.  It is satisfying, especially when in real life it usually takes much longer to see the fruits of your labor.  And when things aren’t going according to plan, you can spend a few hours slaying demons, saving the world, and finding romance.CullyWully

Hello, have you seen how much better Cullen looks since Origins?!  I was disappointed by a one year delay in the game’s release, but it was because of this delay that we got this new romance option.  So, thank you, Bioware!  He was worth the wait. 😉

DorianAnd then there’s Dorian, oh Dorian, Bioware’s first gay character who is not only dashing, but also sassy, clever, and has one of the best moustaches ever.  As I played as a woman, because I always do when it’s an option, he was a fun flirt option and a great addition to my party.

For those of you who have been following me for a while, you have seen the effect this game series has left on me (refresh your memory here or here or check out my Pinterest board entitled “A Minor Obsession Called Dragon Age“), and they did not fail to continue this trend with Inquisition.  I felt the best way to share the pros and cons of the new installment was to start at the beginning, before you even put in the disk to play, but worry not, I’ll keep this one short to begin with since I’ve already rambled a bit.

My excitement at its release enabled me to talk two of my coworkers into playing, and found myself a walking encyclopedia of information for their game play.  It felt nice.  Neither had played DA2 and because I was able to share a bit of the history and interesting points, I turned them toward playing that one as well.  I’m sinister like that.

If you’re interested in playing, you can find a plethora of articles, videos, and the like pretty much anywhere to garner more information, but why spoil the fun?  It was extremely difficult to avoid all the spoilers that continued to inundate my feeds, but as I’m always behind in my tv watching and anything else relevant in the world, I just averted my eyes and continued to scroll.

DATapestry

So for today, I’ll only talk about the Dragon Age Keep.  Even if you haven’t played the first two games, you can develop a back story that is unique to your new world by utilizing the Keep to answer a series of questions relevant to the first two games.  This will then carry over into the history, comments made, cameos, etc.  It makes each play through a different experience.  In Origins did you make Alistair king?  Did you romance Morrigan?  In DA2 did you fight the Arishok?  Did you become Viscount?  It’s these big decisions and many smaller ones that will determine your play through…it’s so much fun!

This is also a fascinating tactic to employ as we are able to see how the choices we make do indeed affect the world around us.  The other thing I like about this idea is that as storytellers, we can see how many of these events are connected, and how important world building truly is.  I’ll end on this note, it’s a whole lot of fun, and hopefully as I move forward in this series if you didn’t want to play before…you now will! 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!