Not really a plot hole, but: After his personal quest is finished up, you can talk to Anders in his clinic. Anders openly hits on you, male or female, only you've decided to romance the broody elf or the hot pirate chick or whoever this time around. Your only options to respond to him are either flirting back, setting you on his romance path, or using the aggressive option and watching him get all pissed off at you. Yes, it's only five rivalry points (and I suppose you could just avoid talking to him afterwards), but really? ("Am I making you uncomfortable?" "Well, uh..." "FINE I GET IT WHATEVER RHGGHARHG." Well, now you're making me uncomfortable, Anders!)
I was personally creepd out five seconds after the first time you see him. "What was that blue thiiinnggg... On no Anders you DIDN'T;" And I kept searching for the option to say 'Thanks for the map, Now goodbye and never contact us again.". Alas it was not present. Anyway, it could mean anders love you no matter what you say/do. Kinda similar to how easy it was to trigger Alistair's romance in Origins. Still a plot hole when you've been a jerk with him since day one.
OP: I don't really mind Anders—and I don't doubt that he has a crush on a male/female Hawke—so much as the fact that there's no option to opt out gracefully. They've could've used the middle option on the dialogue wheel for "no thanks," but instead it's basically "yes", "aww yes", and "hell no". And given that people tend to automatically talk to their companions after personal quests (thanks to DA:O and the Mass Effect games), it feels like a form of railroading.
Does "Maraas" mean "nothing" or does it not have any meaning? The Dragon Age wiki and the NPC character sheet on here seem to assume the former, but there's no source on the wiki, and I can't find any official confirmation either way, or remember how the in-game subtitles handled it.
What Mage-Templar war?
So, it constantly bugged me that Cassandra was talking about a Templar-Mage war while the events didn't seemed enough for that. Let's take a look at the endgame:
Anders, a mage who was in Kirkwall since six years or so, blow up a Chantry. you may kill him. Meredith, the Knight-commander of Kirkwall, go nuts and try to kill every mage in the city. Orsino go full retard and use blood magic even if you side with him. You kill him. You learn that a lot of templar (even Cullen, wich is blatant fanservice in my opinion but that's not the point) aren't as crazy as her. Cullen try to calm her, he fail and you kill her.
So why a mage-templar war ? I mean the problem was caused, in great part, by Orsino (who allowed serial killers For Science!), Elthina (who did nothing to stop the problem) and Meredith who ruled all the city whithout mercy. So now that they're dead, why a war ? The problem was localised in kirkwall and the principal sources of the problem are dead, so why and how does a problem solved in Kirkwall cause a rebellion in all the world ?
The answer to that can be found in the novel Asunder (and will probably be recapped in the opening to Inquisition). The short answer is the the event is Kirkwall heightened already building tensions between the Mages, Templars and Chantry, and another flashpoint arose that wasn't solved. Varric is simplifying when he says the Circles rose up after Kirkwall, it was about a year later after many other things had happened.
Tensions inside the Chantry aren't new in themselves, neither is the mage/templar problem. In Origins (yeah, i know your decision in Origins don't matter but still) you can ask Alistair to free the mages of Ferelden, and while he can't do that, from his discussion with Meredith in act 3 mages seems to have a way better deal in Ferelden than in others countries. So, the Grey Warden made a step forward mages freedom and Anders and Hawke took two steps back ?
While there have always been tensions in the Circle various sources in the francise suggest thst they've been getting worse in recent years. As for Alistair, probably mages do have better deal in Fereldan. But Fereldan is one country and not a very important one on the world stage. In the Free Marches, in Orlais, in Antiva and so on things are not so good. Mages are getting more vocal which the Templars are responding to by becoming more opressive rather than opening any kins of dialogue. Others in the Chantry, most notably the Divine herself, are trying to reach comprimise but the templar hardliners refuse to budge, which naturally creates more hardline mages. Whatever can be said about Ander's decision (and much can be said) he's not wrong that things are, overall, getting worse for mages, not better.
So you have the Divine herself who is in favor of the mages, a country in which mages have a better deal than anywhere else (except Tevinter of course) and in Orlais (the country that until 30-40 years ago, ruled half of Thedas )there seem to have court mages (from what I saw of Inquisition) and mages condition is still getting worse ?
Yep. Again, Fereldan is not influential on a world stage, what happens there barely matters to the rest of the world. Orlais may have court mages but even with that small concession the Templars there are barely better than in Kirkwall. The Divine may be the head of the religion but that doesn't mean she's in total control. Witness real world events, like the row in the Church of England over gay bishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury was in favour but he couldn't persuade many hardline clergy to agree. The Templars behave similarly towards the Divine. Hell, in Rise Of The Seeker the Knight-Commander of Orlais actualy plotted to have the Divine killed and replaced by the Grand Cleric of Orlais as both felt the Divine was too lax on mages. The problem is too endemic for her to fix and certainly too endemic for the new king of a minor country to change.
But aren't the Templars being controlled via their lyrium doses by the Chantry ? The chantry should have a better control over them than your exemple had.
Except the Templar leadership is part of the problem and it's the leadership that controls how the lyrium is handed out. And if the Chantry tried to withhold the lyrium from the Templar leaders all they have to do is take it anyway. The Chantry would not be able to resist the whole Order militarily since they are the Chantry's military forces. Plus large elements of the Chantry agree with the Templars attitudes. Basicaly the Divine overestimated how much control she had over the Order. If this really interests you you might wanna read Asunder. It's a pretty good book in it's own right, features Wynne, Shale and Wynne's son and it's gotta be fairly cheap on Amazon by now. If not then just wait for Inquisition, where details like this are bound to come up.
Weren't the Seekers especially created to prevent case like this ? what were they doing ? Plus, the Kirkwall issue is solved.
If you mean why the Seekers didn't fix Kirkwall, well, they dropped the ball. It happens. Their organisation is frankly too small to cover all of Thedas. If you mean why didn't they block the Templar rebellion then it's because they had the same problems as the Templars with regards to hardliners in positions of authority. At the time of Asunder the Lord Seeker was leading the Templar revolt. As for the Kirkwall "issue," it wasn't solved, it just ended. All mages in Kirkwall were dead or escaped. Nothing was solved and both Templars and mages were enraged by the event for their own separate reasons.
You mean that during the three years between Acts 2 and 3, when it was clear the Templars were the real leaders of the city and that Meredith prevented elections of a new viscount, when it was clear she was too extreme, the Seekers couldn't step in ? I have trouble believing that.
Oh I'm sure they could, they just didn't. As mentioned elements within the Seekers agree with Meredith's approach so they could have blocked attempts to deal with her. Or maybe something else kept them busy. They are based in Orlais, the centre of constant intrigue.
For three years ?Plus, if it's an order dedicated to watch the Templars, it should be widespread enough to do so in every Circle.
Yes, it should. But it isn't. In an ideal world the Seekers would have the numbers and resources to complete the task assigned to them. But as you may have spotted Thedas is not an ideal world. One of the biggest issues with the Circle is that the Templars are pretty much given carte blance to operate as they see fit in their own areas and the only check on their power is underfunded, understaffed, overly sympathetic to the Templar's excesses and not contactable by those most likely to suffer under Templar mismanagement. Also remember that this is medieval world, technonogicaly speaking. It probably takes a quarter of a year at least to get from Val Royeaux to Kirkwall and back even assuming no complications. Therefore things will progress slower.
May I point out that the Seekers is an hundreds year old order ? And that, as such, it should be better organized ? but I get your point.
Age is no indicator of quality. The Circle system is a lot older than that and anyone who's played either game can see how screwed up that is.
The Circle is an instituion created by people who hated mages and transmitted their hatred to their followers. The seekers were created to control the templars. plus, I don't mean having a perfect order, but having a Seeker in each circle would be common sense and spare them a lot of trouble. The Seeker see a problem, he remove the person who started the problem and try to change the events so that the problem dissapear. S/he can't do it alone, he ask for help from people s/he trust.
I agree, good system. But the problem is that the Seekers were created from inside the Templars. Most of them were Templars in the past. As such they agree on many issues and don't see that the Templars need much supervision.
The Seekers weren't created from inside the Templars. The Inquisition, when it met the Chantry, became its' arms, the Templars being the right and the Seekers being th left.
Sorry, I wasn't clear. What I meant is that most Seekers (not all but most) were particularly impressive Templars recruited for the Seekers. Also I'm not sure you're quite right on the Inquisition, given that in, well, Inquisition the Seekers are with the Templars whereas the Inquistion is with the Divine, hence why Cassandra has had to switch her loyalties. And the left/right hand thing doesn't refer to them. Cassandra is the Right Hand Of The Divine, her open agent, whereas The Left Hand Of The Divine is Leliana, her hidden agent.
Why is there a Kirkwall Circle in the first place?
Or at the very least: Why has it survived this long? It just seems like it would be a pretty simple solution to the possession and Blood Magic problem they have for the Chantry to just disband the Circle in Kirkwall, and send the mages there, as well as any future mages that appear in Kirkwall, elsewhere.
Kirkwall is the biggest city in the Free Marches so putting a Circle there makes sense. As for why it stays remember most people, including the Templars, aren't privvy to the information we have about why Kirkwall is so messed up, magicaly speaking. So as far as they know moving the mages wouldn't help and might just corrupt other, more peaceful Circles. Also bare in mind that the really bad problems with the Kirkwall Circle are quite recent. It's always been a difficult Circle but it's only reached the level we see in game since Meredith took over and treated it as bad as she does.
Starkhaven is the largest city in the Free Marches, not Kirkwall. Also, they should still have been able to figure it out, at least partially; The place has more "incidents" than most other circles, and that should ring some alarm bells (which we know it does), so why doesn't anyone consider the fact that the Veil might be thin there, and it might not be the best place to keep a bunch of mages if you're worried about them being possessed?
Probably because the number of "incidents" only serves to reinforce deeply-held prejudices about mages, to wit: they're all just one bad day away from ravening abominations. Given the Templar leadership that we're exposed to in-game, the prevailing attitude is likely that it's easier to simply kill whoever starts causing problems than to find a way to move the whole Circle elsewhere.
For one thing, where would you send them? My impression was that the Gallows houses the Kirkwall Circle specifically because it's an already-existing structure that was purpose-built to contain and control prisoners. From what we see of the exterior, it's built not unlike Fort Drakon from Origins. There may not be a lot of other places in the Free Marches to move the mages. Not to mention provisioning—if you're going to house a lot of people in reasonable conditions (and from what little we see, living conditions at the Gallows *are* reasonable, if spartan) you need a lot of supplies. Food, candles, clothing, cooking implements, probably basic medical supplies...the list goes on. Even if you could find or build and supply a new home for the Circle, there's the issue of actually *moving* the mages. At least some of them are likely to resist, for various reasons, and we've already seen with the Act of Mercy quest that it's not easy to move mages safely between Circles.
It's also worth considering that some of the Templars probably do know, or at least suspect, that there's something weird about the Gallows. Their solutions—like Ser Alrik deciding that *every* mage should be made Tranquil—just aren't particularly humane or effective. Even the decent, honorable Templars we see, the ones who care a little bit about what happens to their charges, aren't particularly effective about protecting either mages or civilians. Even the good ones are loyal to the Chantry, first and foremost, and have been pretty deeply indoctrinated in the beliefs that mages are Just That Dangerous. To be any kind of successful in a career as a Templar, you *have* to buy into at least some of the beliefs about the need to control and corral magic users. It's a flawed system.
Also on the subject of Starkhaven, I'm pretty sure Kirkwall is bigger and in any case Starkhaven had a circle as well, before Decimus burnt it down. Prior to that not every mage in the Free Marches ended up in the Gallows.
Why do people dislike the story so much?
It's bothered me for some time: a lot of people seem to think that the fact that Hawke's choices don't greatly effect the outcome of the story makes the game poorly written. I just don't understand this at all. Sure, it's frustrating, but that was kind of the point, as I saw it; Hawke's choices and motivations may not have made a difference, but his/her ACTIONS certainly did. Not every protagonist can be The Chessmaster, changing the world in exactly the way that they want to. Making other characters not bend to the whim of the player is not indicative of bad writing. It just seems to me that fans should really be focusing on the aspects of the game that were actually, objectively bad, rather than wasting time complaining that their choices didn't have the effect they wanted.
Well, the general answer would be personal preference; that aspect may not have bothered you (or me for reference) but there are plenty of people it's going to bother. More specificaly I'd go with expectations. Your choices do hit harder in Origins, people were probably expecting something similar.
I did find the game poorly written, because the whole deal with Hawke was simply stupid with the way it was set up. The game gives the impression that Hawke is some legendary hero, spends the whole story promising this, and in basically the last few minutes, or in hindsight even, it's revealed that no, actually, Hawke was just some random person bumbling around not knowing what was going on and not really affecting anything. Looking at the story, it's always other people who drive the plot forward. Varric's expedition found the idol and his brother brought it to the surface, Isabela brought the Qunari down on Kirkwall and they end up leaving no matter how it plays out, Anders blows up the chantry and sets the ground for the Mage-Templar War, and so on. The game tries to pretend the main character is important by shoehorning Hawke into every situation as some hero, but really all Hawke accomplishes is running around and killing people who have zero effect on the world. You could remove Hawke from the game and it would be basically the exact same story.
Er, not really. The only reason why most of those people were able to do what they did was their association with Hawke. Otherwise Varric and Bartrand wouldn't have been able to fund the expedition, Anders would likely have been caught by the Templars and Isabela by the Qunari or Castellon. Hawke is swept up in events rather than starting them off, true, but he/she then shapes them as he/she goes, beating the Qunari, saving or destroying the mages etc. And Hawke is a legendary hero, as in he/she is a hero with a legend about him/her. The very nature of the framing device should tell you straight off that Cassandra's idea of Hawke as the person who started all this is probably wrong. Flemeth states the real position in the first section; I forget the exact quote but she basicaly defines Hawke as someone cast into momentous events through no effort of their own by once there they fight. I can see how you might have got the wrong impression but I always saw Hawke as the plaything of destiny, not it's shaper.
Yes. That is what I mean by shoehorning Hawke into the story. "No one could accomplish anything without Hawke" is meant show Hawke is the hero, but it ends up being a really contrived way of making Hawke seem important over and over again. All Hawke ever really does is kill stuff. And for Varric and Bartrand, they had the funding for their expedition already, but then the partner got kicked out so Hawke could come along and save the day.
Well you didn't like that, clearly, whereas I enjoyed having a fantasy hero who isn't The Chosen One or similar for a change. I liked having a hero that's just trying to make the best of his/her situation and help where they can (part of why I almost always play Snarky Hawke). Which rather reinforced what I said earlier in reply to the OP; in the previous Dragon Age game you were, more or less, The Chosen One, able to dictate broad social and military changes pretty much by yourself and this is probably why it's disappointing to some that Hawke can only make small changes and help his/her family and friends. Side note; I'm not having a go at Origins, freaking loved that game and I do agree that it's the better game of the two, I just don't think 2 is bad, just not as good and different in tone and style.
Well, my problem could be that the tone and style isn't different enough. I would be fine with the hero not being The Chosen One if the game ever acknowledged that at any point. As it is though, after Flemeth rambling about destiny and Varric talking up the Champion as some legendary hero and so on, you have to play basically the entire game before it really becomes clear that Hawke is nothing special. Which I find to be poor storytelling. After building up Hawke as a mythic figure on par with the Warden, it's really only in hindsight that you realize that yeah, Hawke didn't really achieve or change much, and it was other people driving the plot. So the idea that 'Hawke is just a small time hero helping out family and friends' is something I find rather poorly presented. If it was suppose to be some clever twist then it failed for me. It really seems more likely to me that the story was another casualty of the rushed development of the game, that they tried to make Hawke some great hero, didn't really succeed, and the whole 'Oh, Hawke not being a real hero is the point of the story' is some after the fact justification that people are coming up with.
But Hawke does achieve stuff and change things—big things. He/she canonically kills the Arishok in single combat, which allows Sten to become the new leader of the Qunari and (considering the Qunari are gearing up for a large-scale invasion) is a very big deal, and either becomes a symbol of the mage resistance or mage oppression in the upcoming Mage/Templar war. Feynriel, Keran, Orana, Bodahn and Sandal, Lia, Idunna—all of them have their lives impacted by Hawke, and that's not even getting into the companions. I mean, there's no question Dragon Age 2 feels rushed overall, and that Hawke does a lot of reacting to things, but it's kind of unfair to compare him/her to the Warden, who's a political force out of necessity thanks to darkspawn and the Blight. The Warden has to go around and gather armies and get involved in politics and ancient curses and all that—that's their job. Hawke is just trying to survive and protect his/her family until they get nominated to Champion of Kirkwall. It's like comparing apples and oranges.
I agree completely. It's different style of storytelling and I rather like that but there's gonna be plenty who don't.
No Carver/Bethany, it's not a good idea to attack an ogre on your own, nor is to hide you've been tainted after you saw what happened to Wesley.
No Aveline, threatening the Arishok because people have converted to the Qun to hide from a crime they made because you didn't do your job properly is not a smart move.
Isabela, you really shouldn't hide in the same city as the army you've stolen their original version of the Quar'an written by their Prophet himself from.
Merril, since the beggining of mages, everyone who made a deal with a demon ended up crazy or posseded, what make you think it will be different with you ? And you know you're trying to repair a mirror who killed one/two of your clanmate don't you ?
No Anders, that's not how you improve mages' condition.
Fenris, you know that staying in the same place for six years will help your old master track you ? And do you wish to escape him or to kill him ?
Varric, you think keeping a shard of the thing that drove your brother crazy is a good idea ?
Orsino, is allowing serial killers For Science! a good idea which will make people think better of mages ?
Elthina, DO SOMETHING !
There was also the "witness your rise to power". What rise to power ? I still am an errand boy, only for The Viscount/Meredith now instead of some Lowtown guy. I still must pick a side and I can't say "fuck this I'll lead the city" or Screw This Im Outtahere.
So you don't think going from a penniless refugee into the official hero of a massive city state is a rise to power? You have high standards... And you can just decide to lead the city; as is repeated many times in Act 3 and before the political situation is such that you need Templar support to claim the Viscounty and as for the other option, Screw This, I'm Outta Here! is very much not Hawke's personality. Plus running away, not a very climatic end to a story. As for people behaving stupidly, well, yeah, that happens in fiction. If everyone behaves sensibly then there is no story. And some of those mentioned don't work anyway; for instance Fenris wants Denarius to find him so he can kill the bastard.
The hero of a massive city state who don't have power and can't, at any point, say to Meredith "I'm the Champion so respect me or I'll show you how I defeated the Arishok". Not that she would do it but it would be hilarious.
Well, yeah, but everyone answers to someone, barring maybe the Divine and heads of state. "Rise to power" doesn't mean "rise to ultimate power." And sure it might have been fun to tell Meredith what she can do and where she can stick it but for all that Bioware likes to give us freedom of choice ultimately it is still a game, we can't deviate too far from the plot or there'd be nothing to do. They did give us the chance to constantly tell Meredith (or Orsino or the Viscount or the Arishok etc) that they suck.
But it didn't seemed to that Hawke was treated differently in Act 2 and in Act 3. Or didn't I paid attention enough ?
Chat to random people in Hightown during Act 2 and most of them all but ignore you. Chat to random people in Hightown during Act 3 and the response is usually something along the line of "Wow! The Champion!" Meredith might still treat you with comparatively little respecy but Meredith is a massive hardarse and the only person in the city more important than you. Most people are now very impressed with you.
It can also be because the game focus only on the Mages/templars issue and that every other problem (the Qunariafter act 2 , dwarf cast system, the racism of the dalish against city elves, and so on...) aren't adressed at all or, if so, only in a minor sidequest before the focus return to the poor mages that are oprressed... and that turn into abomination or blood magic almost evry two minutes, thus making them hardly defendable. And the templars are worsened because, while, in DA O, Gregoir was a Reasonable Authority Figure, as much as Knight-commander could, Meredith is an exretmist.
So both sides are bad and have few if none members among them who make you think "i'm gonna help those guys."
I think it's rather unfair to condemn a story for focusing in on it's central plot point in the last act. The Mage/Templar plot was the plot of the game, the rest were sidelines. In Origins the mages' oppression was given some focus but then faded out of the plot next to the civil war and the Darkspawn because that was Origins main story. As for there being no-one on either side to sympathise with, I highly disagree. Despite what people keep saying the majority of the Kirkwall Circle show no signs of being Blood Mages or demon summoners. Witness the Templar assault on the Gallows and see magic getting thrown around but no demons or Blood Magic. If they're not doing it when they're about to die and, with the Right of Annulment called, they literally can't make their situation any worse then they're not doing it. And even some who are Blood Mages are not bad people, see Alain. On the other side you've got men like Cullen and particularly Karras desparately trying to find another way out. It's not just bad people fighting bad people. It's actually more tragic than that. It's perfectly decent people fighting each other because their situation and their extremist leaders are giving them no choice.
There are a few reason, first being a lack of focus. In most stories there is a central goal. In dragon age 2 it has a goal in the prolog and act 1 but then it loses it. In act 2-3 you are just running around doing random missions because Hawk feels like it. There are so many plots going on its easy to forget what the hell your doing when you enter an area and see 3-4 different quest markers. Lacking a central plot makes it harder to see story progression and easier to lose interest
There is a lack of agency in act 3 where the final battle forces you to choose a side.IT is done IMO very poorly. I didn't really feel a need to support either side, where was the go home and protect my house option? Or screw this demon infested city? Instead we are shoehorned into either murdering all the mages or fighting templars when we could have easily gone home. Contrasted to act 2 where Hawk's home was directly under attack or dragon age origins where the blight threatened the entire world. There is no agency because a non-mage Hawk may not have any stake in this, doubly so if Bethany is dead.
Add in all the stupid characters into the mix. Meradith is insane so I don't want to support her. Orsino let a blood mage murder my Ma because if he exposed it,mages would look bad. Either way I don't want to support these people I wanna go home and protect my dog.Elthina does absolutely nothing to help anyone in any way shape or form. She is probably the most useless character in useless character ville. Keeper Marethari's actions are just baffling. She wants Merill to come back so she decides to turn everyone against her and tells pall scary stories so he is so terrified of her he runs back into a monster that slaughtered a few of his friends. To top it off she allows a demon to possess her, doesn't tell anyone and then goes and gets killed. She pretty much screwed over her whole clan because Merill "MAY" have been possessed, but unlike Meril who had Hawk"The demon/carta/bandit/qunari/dragon slayer as back up Marethari takes no precouations what so ever and just says I can't beat you so go ahead and take me over.
Plus there is even smaller things, why can't I turn Anders and Merill into the circle, one is a blood mage and the other an abomination, both things the circle wants to prevent. Anders is no longer needed after getting the map and Merill never was. From a player stand point it makes no sense for a non hypocrite anti-mage Hawk to allow these two to walk freely. Merill isn't even needed to blow up the chantry. Also, almost every time we encounter a guard they are fighting 8 people at once. Are the city streets and outskirts so bad that every night a guard has to kill 27 bandits even after Hawk killed 3 major gangs? This isn't simply story/gameplay segregation, how hard patrols are is a story point in two of Aveline's quest. This just comes off as poorly thought out to me, how can there be so many bandits if every night a few die fighting guards?
Thanks for pointiong that. i kept searching the option "thanks for the map/ritual. Now goodbye and never contact us again."
Finally, the red lyrium that is never explained but drives a major plot point. First, I thought lyrium was toxic to humans to why the hell did Hawk even touch this stuff. What was it, why was it placed where it was, why would anyone screw around with red lyrium when no one even knows what the hell it is, how was it made, how did it bestow upon Meridith the ability to Mario jump and summon statues, did it control her or just make her more insane, did IT bring the statues to life to protect its host or is it just a hunk of insanity inducing rock with no will. Some vagueness can be good but making a major character be driving by something virtually unexplained is pushing it a bit for me. To bring back to the original question, people were sold on a game where you influence the story, that what all the interviews wanted to present. The final product wasn't what was advertised.
While you don't see Merril for long in Origins, she is a very level-headed dalish and focused on the mission, if just a little afraid of the humans. In DA:O she's someone that turned toward Blood Magic because a demon proposed her to do so, made a pact with this same demon (apparently forgetting that doing so is NOT a bright idea, never) and is turned into something like Liara was in ME 1, only an even more shy, even more innocent, even more oblivious to innuendoes, even more cute jailbait (I mean, does she look like an adult elf to you ?)
Anders's case is partially justified, even if there's no way in hell Awakening!Anders would merge with Justice, if so because Justice kept bringing the subject of mage's plight and Anders didn't want to take an active part on it. He was perfectly fine with "the right to shoot lightning, good food and a pretty lady" (quoted from memory)
And, in her brief appearance in Origins, Isabela appeard to be someone that, if flirty, wasn't as promiscuous as in this game (remember that YOUR WARDEN have to suggest sex to have it, Isabela was perfectly fine with playing cards) and otherwise pretty level-headed.
Varric's nickname for Anders
Why does Varric call Anders "blondie" when he himself is the same shade of blond, and even has the exact same hairstyle? Shouldn't his nickname be "blondie" too? Not a big deal, but Anders could have called him on it.
Because it's an easily identifiable feature of Anders that was apparent when Varric met him.
Perhaps because it's the nicest nickname for him at the moment. And Crazy Cat Dude was possibly taken.
Why aren't more people addicted to lyrium?
Not so much a plothole or fridge logic, just something I've been wondering. Both this game and Origins mention lyrium smuggling and lyrium addiction (especially for Templars). My question is though, why don't we see more of this in either of the games? And not just with the Templars, with civilians too. After all it's the stuff that gives Templars their powers and I can definitely see regular civilians wanting a piece of that. It seems like rich ground for a subplot or at least one or two sidequests but the devs barely did anything with it.
Well, there is Samson, who is pretty much a burned out lyrium addict. Reading between the lines, a lot of Meredith's symptoms match up perfectly with lyrium poisoning, such as her extreme dementia and paranoia. Templars are said to experience the symptoms in later life. Even without the lyrium idol, she was on her way to losing her marbles. Perhaps the artifact exacerbated what was already there?
Other examples: Carroll (the templar standing guard at the Lake Calenhad docks) is stated to be suffering from the effects of long-term lyrium addiction, thus his odd behavior. When the Warden finds Irminric in Howe's dungeon, Alistair (if he's in the party) will flat out state that he's acting crazy because of lyrium withdrawal. Then there are the tunnels underneath the Circle where Anders' act 2 companion quest, which are full of lyrium smugglers who are supplying the templars with illegal lyrium. I'm also fairly certain the reason Hawke was able to fool Ser Roderick so easily is that he's so lyrium addled that he'd believe anything. As for why more civilians don't get illegal lyrium to gain templar abilities, it's most likely that they don't have anyone to teach them. According to Alistair (though the description of the templar specialization in Dragon Age II implies this may have been retconned), you don't NEED lyrium to learn templar abilities, you just need someone to teach you how to do it, something most people probably don't have access to. Plus there's Alistair's claim that a templar fighting a non-mage is "just a guy in a metal suit." Those willing to defy Chantry law for their own gain would probably rather have an apostate (whose magic is useful against everyone, including other mages) on their side than a self-taught templar who is really only going to be more useful than a regular person if s/he's fighting a mage, making it unlikely there would be much of a demand for such people as mercenaries or hired muscle.
There's at least two sidequests involving lyrium smuggling in DA:O - one from the Mages' Collective and one in Orzammar from the Dust Town dealer. The issue of a loss of Chantry control of lyrium (and thus their stranglehold on the Templars) also pops up if you let Dagna help set up a Circle of Magi in Orzammar. You can also get Ser Conrad accused of lyrium smuggling in Act 2 of DAII.
Despite its addictive qualities and mana-boosting abilities, lyrium doesn't seem to have any real narcotic or stimulating effect one a person. Sure, you go into withdraw after you stop taking it, but it doesn't really appear to have any qualities that would make it attractive enough for your random civilian to start chugging the stuff long enough for the addiction to kick in. Even if it did, the stuff is so screamingly toxic that any unskilled dealer would kill off all their customers too soon to make a profit or themselves. Disregarding all of that, there are so many extremely profitable uses for the rock. If you're going to all the risk to smuggle an extremely dangerous substance under the nose of a government, you're not going to waste it by going for risky and non-profitable options when you can get big money doing something safer and more reliable with it.
One could argue that Cullen is an example of the wear and tear lyrium has on its users. It is true that he has been given a makeover since DA:O, but he looks very worn in Dragon Age II. Likely the events in DA:O did nothing for his beauty sleep, but the lyrium is probably not helping either.
Alistair himself implies that lyrium does nothing for the Templars' powers; it's just the Chantry's leash on them.
Elven Chantry members
Are there elf Templars and/or elf Chantry members?
There are elf Andrastians, but I don't really think an institution that internalizes anti-elf racism ("Humans are better than elves because Andraste was a human") would want elves in their upper echelons.
Example please? I don't remember hearing anything like that in either of the games.
An example of what? Elf Andrastians or Chantry species bias? The CE wedding was presided over by a Chantry sister and a few of the Alienage elves refer to the Maker. The Chantry is also the single uniting factor in Thedas. As the policies of the nations change, so do the Chantry and vice versa. The mages are oppressed and hated by society and the Chantry supports this. The elves are hated and oppressed by society so what are the odds that the Chantry is strongly against this sort of attitude?
Um, that's some nice supposition you've got there, but do you have any actual examples?
How about the fact that the only section of the Chant of Light to deal with the contributions of elves (the Canticle of Shartan) was axed from the current chant? Or the fact that the entire divide between City Elves and Dalish Elves are a result of an Exalted March that uprooted them from their settlements? Alienages themselves were created due to this, because elves were forcibly converted to Andrastianism and forced to live in slums by the Chantry. Does that sound like a tolerant religion. More importantly, does this sound like the type of religion that would give an elf martial authority and weapons training?
Without knowing when and why the Canticle of Shartan was de-canonized we can't say whether the Chantry "internalizes anti-elf racism". After all it was a very long time ago. Perhaps it was a decision made by a small minority whose thinking is no longer influential in the Chantry. And before you ask "well why didn't they just change it back?" religious institutions tend to place a lot of value in tradition and are not known for reversing old precedent. It could be they haven't done it because they're wary of making such a great change. Call it stubborn if you want, but that's just the way large religious organizations tend to be. The Exalted March on the Dales is also not a clear case of anti-elf racism because we don't know the cause. The Dalish say it was caused by simple anti-elf racism, but of course they would say that. The Chantry said it was because the Dalish were practicing dark magic and making human sacrifices, but of course they would say that too. And the humans who lived near the Dales say it was touched off by Dalish raids on human settlements. As for the alienages, this again is not a clear example of anti-elf racism. Remember, the elves don't have to live in the alienages. They choose to live there because it helps shield them from anti-elf extremists. As for giving elves martial authority and weapons training, we never heard any objection from the Kirkwall Chantry about that elf girl who joined the city guard. So that can't be the issue either.
For the above examples, I'll just add a few things. The verses of the Chant that included Shartan were removed by the Divine (the head of the Chantry in Thedas) that started the Exalted March on the Dales. The Exalted March (at least by in-game info) is mentioned to have been started by the Divine, so they could force the elves from the Dales to worship Andraste, because they were worshipping the Creators. Basically, that is your version of the Crusade - it was started to convert and subjugate. Whether the current Chantry is racist towards the elves - that is possible, considering the Chantry has a lot of power in Thedas and they never use that power to promote equality or at least make their lives better. And they're still bitter towards the Dalish, because of their different beliefs and because their Keepers are technically apostates.
It should be noted, however, that it was Andraste who freed the elves from slavery, we learn that in the quest for the Sacred Ashes, so she at least apparently wasn't racist towards the elves. Also, the exalted march was started by the Divine because the elves living in the Dales didn't worship Andraste, who had freed them and gave them their homeland (sort of). That they were led by what technically were apostates didn't help much. The Divine probably thought they weren't being grateful enough. That was probably also the reason the Shartan part was cut from the chant. The prejudice was there even before the chantry, the chantry in and of itself did not start it, and nothing in chantry lore besides the exalted march supports it, and even that is questionable.
Actually there is a subtle but very definite anti-elf basis hidden right in the Chant of Light. The Chant refers to the Maker creating spirits, growing disappointed in them then turning to humans. Elves are never even mentioned, strongly suggesting that the Chantry sees elves and elven history as unimportant. (This would also apply to dwarves but dwarves for the most part don't have to deal with the Chantry.)
If there are, their numbers are very limited, not the least because of their status. If there are any elves within the Chantry, they're likely lay sisters or low-ranking Templars with no hope of serious advancement.
Yes, there are. If you buy the Exiled Prince DLC, during Act 2 you can save an elf from being dipped in gold. She sends you a letter in act 3, saying that she just was affirmed as a member of the chantry.
Sebastian acknowledges in Mark Of The Assassin that he understands why some elves would turn to the Qun considering they don't feel like they have a place in the system under the Chantry.
Being a member of the Chantry is different to being an ordained priestess or taking vows as a Templar. After multiple playthroughs, I have yet to see an elf priestess or Templar. The Chantry does want elves to join, but they will never give them positions of power. It could be a racism thing. But it could also be that they will not insult the humans by giving the elves postions of power. A lot of second sons and daughters of nobles end up in the Chantry (Imnric in DA:O is the most memorable) and they will be considered for important positions.
It also is likely a practicality thing. Higher ranking Chantry members are meant to exercise some authority over others, both in and out of the Chantry. A lot of humans wouldn't accept the authority of an elf so even Chantry members who aren't racist might think twice before promoting an elf.
Anders Rivalry ending
This is a pretty minor gripe but the possibility of having Anders turn against the mages in the end bugs me. He is probably the most extreme pro-mage character in the entire series and him just turning against them for any reason seems entirely out of character for someone of his disposition, to me it feels a bit like convincing Lennon to kill all poor people or something along those lines.
Then you're not paying attention to how you get Anders to do that. In order to make Anders turn on the mages, you essentially have to be at maximum rivalry with him, which means that you not only actively oppose his efforts (therefore presenting someone that he deeply respects who still intensely disagrees with him) but you also have to repeatedly make it clear to Anders that he is incorrect and that what happened with Justice was horrible and wrong. When you convince Anders to side against the mages, you convince him that his actions were entirely wrong and that what he did with Justice was an abomination. Essentially, you're proving to Anders that his entire desire to free mages came from the behest of a demon and that his actions are fundamentally wrong. Anders' response is a My God, What Have I Done?, and Hawke gives him an opportunity to redeem himself in his own eyes.
Think you mean Lenin. Lennon probably wouldn't kill all poor people either, but Lenin was the communist.
Lennon probably wouldn't kill all of the poor people, that's why he used it in his analogy...
Damnit I had hoped no one had noticed that yet so I could fix it without noticing. By the way Chauncy I did mean Lenin its works better as an analogy because they where both Well Intentioned Extremists who honestly believed in their causes.
I'm still not clear how Anders is redeeming himself for his crime by killing all the mages who had nothing to do with it. I mean, he's the one that actually caused all of this, he didn't contact anybody in the Circle about it. Sure he did it in their name, but Orsino made it clear that the Circle most certainly did not approve of this act. I understand that that it would be a gut-wrenching experience for Anders, but it still seems irrational to punish the actual criminal by making him kill people you know are innocent.
By this point, open warfare is raging on the streets of Kirkwall. Mages and Templars are killing each other, and mages are throwing around blood magic. At this point, one side or the other has to be destroyed to end the conflict. Either the mages or the Templars are going to be routed. Convincing Anders to side against the mages is convincing him to put down the very uprising he forced to happen - effectively forcing him to clean up the very mess he started.
By attacking known innocents instead of attempting anything non-violent? By going along with orders to ignore a plea of surrender? By backing every mage into a corner, risking making them vulnerable to extremists and demons? Anders may have started this riot, but I wouldn't dare call supporting Meredith at all close to redemption.
What known innocents? That's the biggest problem of all in Kirkwall; there don't appear to BE any innocents. Yes, the Templars are way overstepping their bounds and stopping just short of declaring an outright Crusade against all Mages, but on the other side of that coin, every single mage in Kirkwall appears to be consorting to demons and blood magic constantly. Even Orsino himself was supporting Quentin's research under the table. The Circle was so corrupt that it was practically bleeding demons and blood magic from every window. The only truly innocent people here were the citizenry of Kirkwall caught between the overzealous Templars and the psychotic, possessed mages, all of whom were in danger once the war Anders started bleeds out into the streets.
The Circle includes every single man, woman, and child in the area who happen to have magical talent. No matter what you see, you can't honestly say that every mage was part of a malicious coven. Even abominations don't prove anything because we know that a mage doesn't have to do anything special to be taken over. Especially not when they're fearing for their lives. Despite this, they were all slated for execution without anything resembling due process even after an official surrender. That kind of blanket response was just begging for a riot. Even if that weren't true, the Rite was called in response to the bombing. The bombing that Anders admitted sole responsibility for. Now if the goal were to just round the mages up or kill off a few leaders, I'd be all for it, but this was nothing short of an extermination order. It's not riot control, it's ethnic cleansing. You're punishing the criminal by forcing him to help you kill off parties that were unrelated to the crime?
The Kirkwall Rite of Annulment had nothing to do with punishing the mages for the destruction of the Chantry and everything to do with asserting control. The Grand Cleric's death was a battle cry calling all mages to arms. It was an attempt to incite revolution throughout all of Thedas. By annulling the Circle, Meredith was attempting to quash what, by Anders' hand, had just been made an unavoidable revolution before it ever had the chance to get off the ground, by exacting a proportionate retribution against the Circle and reminding them that the Templars are ultimately the alpha and omega of their existence. It was a dominance display, and having Anders himself consign himself to siding with the Templars further helps the (ultimately in vain) effort of turning back the tide of rebellion by showing that even the perpetrator of the crime has come to respect the command of the Chantry and the need for the Circle to contain mages.
No, it was explicitly in response to the bombing. Meredith herself admitted that it was designed to placate the public. Even if it weren't, the mages didn't want to rebel after the bombing. They only did so right after Meredith declared the Rite and the Templars were ready to execute them all. You seem to be mistakenly assuming that Anders had mage support for his stunt. Orsino and his crew were as pissed at Anders after the bombing as anyone else because they knew that people would assume that they bought into his little "call to arms". Even then, the mages surrendered more than once, but were completely ignored. I don't know about you, but that robbed Meredith's crew of any sort of credibility or pretense of "fighting for the people of Kirkwall" because she deliberately ignored a potential victory. All this bloodshed was on Meredith and Anders' heads alone (though I might blame Orsino for being weak and stupid). I'm not sure what you were seeing, but it was clear to me that the Templars were the aggressors here.
Breaking the Cardinal rules
In the Cardinal Rules of Magic (A book in Gamlen's house), it says you can't teleport. So why are there various mages in the game who do exactly that?
Is this story-wise or game mechanics?
In-game lore states that you can't teleport. However, I don't think the mages in Dragon Age II are teleporting when they disappear and re-appear. They're just turning invisible.
It's illusion magic, not teleporting. In Origins there's this nutjob mage living in the forest who appears to teleport but Morrigan immediately says he's using illusions.
What I want to know is why every mage in Kirkwall EXCEPT Hawke knows that spell.
Because Varric embellishes and probably doesn't know that mages can't teleport. "And then SEVENTEEN MAGES teleported into the room!"
Also the Cardinal Rules are deeply suspect. Remember the Codex is in-universe and therefore not always accurate. Another rule is that you can't bring back the dead and Quentin seems to do something like that at least. And the very story of the Darkspawn's creation involves entering the Fade with one's body.
I interpreted what Quentin did more as keeping his victim alive through things that should kill them than actually raising the dead. That much should be possible in the setting, even if what he did was more extreme than anything else we've seen. Also, while it's possible that the cardinal rules are wrong, the "teleporting" mages are too common for this to be an explanation. The only possible violations of the rules we've heard of are ambiguous and portray the spell as incredibly difficult, but if so many random apostates could learn teleportation so easily then the Circle would have figured out that that rule is wrong by now.
Quentin was definitely not raising the dead. He was using magic to preserve and animate a corpse that had no will or mind of its own - this is something we've seen plenty of times in the game, whenever anyone animates corpses using either magic or demons. Leandra was only able to survive and speak because of the magic Quentin was using to animate the body, and after he dies she follows suit.
This is almost certainly a gameplay issue. After all both the Duelist specialisation and Isabela have skills that in-game cause teleportation but clearly that's not happening; a Rogue Hawke and isabela aren't mages. They're just hiding and moving fast. Presumably the mages are doing something similar via magic.
The Viscount having an Amell crest
Why does the Viscount have a Hawke family crest in the Keep?
It's the Amell family crest, actually. The Amells used to be big in Kirkwall, until one of them started having mage children like nobody's business. It's presumably left over from when the Amell name held more prestige.
Despite Gamlen's efforts to the contrary, its apparent that the Amells are still remembered fondly amongst the nobility of Kirkwall, which points as a reason why it was never removed.
Why do people know Hawke is Fereldan?
How do people in Kirkwall tell Hawke is a Fereldan just by looking at him/her? Some scenes imply that it's the way Hawke talks ("You sound Fereldan!") but as far as I can tell Hawke's accent is indistinguishable from everyone else's in Kirkwall. Am I missing something?
Fereldens do have a distinctly different accent from native Kirkwall residents, and the Orlesians, Antivans, and so on that are common in Kirkwall (compare Hawke's accent with Viscount Dumar's, or Elthina's, or Petrice's). Keep in mind that a lot of people in Kirkwall are also from Ferelden orginally, either as refugees or immigrants prior to the Blight. Finally, keep in mind that Hawke is not a stranger in Kirkwall; s/he is well-known in the underground and merchants by the first act gets going, and afterward everyone knows who Hawke is. All of these people will also know that Hawke came from Ferelden. It doesn't hurt that the first thing Hawke does after getting to Kirkwall is massacre twenty-plus lowlifes in the middle of the Gallows, which at the very least is going to get around.
Sorry but I'm just not hearing a difference in Hawke's accent compared to the rest of Kirkwall. Hawke's fame can't be the reason. There are several instances where someone identifies him/her as Fereldan when they had no idea who Hawke was. Lord Harriman for example in the Loose Ends quest (which incidentally takes place long before Hawke does anything to gain any city-wide fame) seems to identify Hawke's origin just form the sound of his/her voice. But I just don't hear anything distinctly Fereldan in it.
It depends on which gender your Hawke was i've noticed that the female voice does have a bit of an accent.
To my ears, both male and female Hawke have the ultra Received Standard thing going on. Since Hawke supposedly grew up as a farm boy/girl in the sticks, this has never made sense to me. It's like a couple of kids from Yorkshire suddenly sounding like BBC announcers.
It's not just his/her voice that identifies Hawke as a Fereldan. Many Kirkwallers know Hawke is Fereldan at a glance and Isabela is able to spot it right away based on his appearance. On the other hand, some Fereldan refugees mistake Hawke for a Kirkwaller based on the way he's dressed.
Somebody with some knowledge of linguistics will have to give me an example of how Fereldans talk differently than native Kirkwallers because I just can't hear the difference.
Any difference in accent could be a purely Informed Attribute. They character's accent is dependent on the voice actor's accent(and which accents they can pull off) and that's limited by the pool of voice actors they can get. They're not going to invest too much time into assigning a specific accent for every region in the game's world and making sure they're consistent.
Why not? Every Antivan has the same accent. Every Orlesian has the same accent. Every dwarf has the same accent (except Bodhan and Sandal for some reason).
The amount of Antivans, Orlesians, and even dwarves are far smaller than the number of Fereldens or Kirkwallians.
Oh really? Need I remind you that we saw an entire city of dwarves in Origins? I dare say we saw far more dwarves in Orzammar than we saw Fereldans in Kirkwall. And if they really had to they could have doubled-up on the voice actors for some of the background NPCs. We would have bought it.
And maybe dwarves live in a far more insular society than Fereldans. Which they do. Homogenization of accents occurred. I agree, it makes sense for there to be different accents for Dusttown and Hightown, but there isn't. You might argue that the noble dwarves speak with a noble inflection, and that is a different accent. Besides that, Ferelden was made of free-roaming barbarians and tribes. This might be more conducive to different accents.
Not all Antivans have the same accent. Zevran's accent is different from most Antivans, and the Fergus Cousland's wife Oriana barely had an accent at all. Not all dwarves have the same accent either; apart from Bodhan and Sandal, Ogrhen and Gorim have different accents(despite having the same voice actor), Bartand and Varric have different accents, hell, Trian and Behlen had different accents. All dwarves(except Bodhan and Sandal) have American accents, but they aren't all the same accent and they aren't consistently applied. Bethany, Carver, and Hawke all have different accents and Hawke's accent varies between male and female. Sebastian has a Scottish accent, which sets him apart from almost everyone else in the game, even other people from Starkhaven.
There is a difference between vocal inflections and accents. Yes, not all Antivans and not all dwarves talk the same. But that doesn't mean they have different accents. All Antivans speak with a vaguely Spanish-like accent. Some of them have deeper voices, gravelly voices, and so on, but their accents are all identical. The same is true for the dwarves. Apart from Bodhan and Sandal (who inexplicably have Fereldan accents) all dwarves speak with a generic Midwestern American accent. You don't hear any with Dixie accents or Brooklyn accents, only Midwestern accents.
Oriana's lived in Ferelden for years so that's plenty of time for her accent to fade.
Taliesen is probably the one exception; I'm not 100% sure what his accent is, but it doesn't sound even a bit Spanish to me. But all that proves is that occasionally they just had to use what voice actors they could get. The reason people are able to pick Hawke as a Fereldan are probably one part accent issues that don't translate very well, one part appearances, and one part fame. And one part that he or she stinks like dog.
Because Hawke smells like a mabari.
Or because Hawke has a mabari. Accents and stylistic choices aside, the gigantic dog is a pretty clear giveaway.
Fereldans are regarded as stubborn and determined by Free-Marchers, something which Hawke is in abundance, as well as having the look of someone unafraid to knuckle down and get their hands dirty when dealing with a challenge. There is a reason why Ferelden managed to defeat a Blight in less than a year, not to mention why Hawke never ran for the hills when the Qunari invaded or when Meredith went completely insane.
To add to the above point, I honestly thought it was because Hawke and Aveline were muscley (even if Hawke's a mage or his/her appearance is modified s/he's still nicely muscled; you can see it during romance scenes). It seemed to me that whenever people mentioned Hawke was a Ferelden they had a certain idea of what a Ferelden would look like; in their eyes, probably the formidable, brawling sort.
Where does Rock Armor come from?
If magic can't teleport matter from A to B or create matter out of nothing, where does the armor for the Rock Armor spell come from?
This is likely, considering even the buildings tend to be either made of stone or be in such disrepair that it's entirely believable that rocks could be pulled up from the ground between wooden planks. Now, if you managed to use Rock Armor on a ship at sea, that might be slightly more questionable.
Considering you use a freakish amount of elemental powers...
Maybe the rule about teleportation only applies to living beings? You can move matter from A to B, but only if it doesn't have a life attached to it.
Anders recognizing the Tevinter amulet in Legacy
Anders is convinced that the amulet you pull from Corypheus means he was an original magister, because the stamp used on it was that of the ancient magisters and hasn't been used since...but...if he recognizes it, it means there have been copies. If there have been copies, that means anyone could have stuck a symbol on anything.
That's only part of why he believes it. There's also the fact that the magister doesn't appear to know anything about the post-Tevinter world, we know he's been sleeping for years, it's clearly some form of darkspawn but one that's different from everyone but the Architect who was himself very odd, and he's still worshipping the Archdemon. It's everything together that's convincing him and templars aren't involved with this, only Wardens who have nothing to gain (and quite a bit to lose) from the anti-mage fallout that would result if people saw proof or what they believed to be proof of the mages' involvement with the creation of darkspawn.
I'm not contending whether or not he should believe Corypheus—I'm contending that the amulet was absolutely useless as evidence, and he immediately exclaimed 'So it's true!' upon seeing it.
That's something that would only occur to someone after the fact. Anders sees the amulet and his immediate, visceral reaction is a horrified 'it's true!' Later, when he calms down he can start to seriously examine whether or not the amulet and the other 'proofs' are valid or not.
Well...there doesn't seem to be any sort of substantiated evidence for that claim. Why bother acting like it's proof if it proves nothing? I imagine it was simply a writer plot hole. To put it in perspective, it'd sort of be like walking around in a town where no one knew what the President of the United States looked like, but the people were otherwise up-to-date, and claiming you're him. When they don't believe you, you pull out the image of a President's Seal and then they immediately believe you. If the image exists, there's no reason copies can't, either.
"Why bother acting like it's proof if it proves nothing?" Um, because people are just like that? Seriously, watch a procedural cop show sometime and count how many times one of the detectives declares that Suspect A must be the perp based on the circumstantial evidence they've found so far.
Him recognizing it doesn't necessarily mean there are copies; there could be drawings and sketches & what not in old books that he would have studied while in the circle.
And it stands to reason that he's not the only one to have seen it, and anyone could put that emblem on anything.
The image is probably outlawed. I can see the Chantry banning some emblem the magisters used to use once they came to power. Even the Tevinter Imperium nowadays pretends that they're sorry for all the evil things they've done, so I could see them banning the emblem as well. The emblem belonged to the guys that tried to overthrow the Maker and nearly destroyed the world in the process, after all. Just because you can still find their emblem in some book somewhere doesn't mean that the Chantry won't bring the hammer down on anyone with the gall to actually go around wearing it.
You mean like how Anders wears the Tevinter Chantry amulet? That's supposed to forbidden, too. He still wears it. He just doesn't wear it openly. And I doubt a hidden cult in the middle of no where cares what the Chantry thinks. My point is, if he's seen it, others may have seen it and remade it, too. It doesn't work as evidence.
The Tevinter Chantry amulet is only forbidden in some parts of the world. They probably get massed produced in Tevinter, where it is not forbidden to wear or make one. It wouldn't be too hard for anyone that hates the Chantry to find one, but the same cannot be said for the magisters amulet. The magisters amulet is likely not allowed to be made or worn anywhere in Thedas, as every nation condemns what the old magisters did.
My point was that clearly people can wear forbidden things. Like Tevinter Chantry amulets. So arguing no one would keep/make a copy because it's forbidden doesn't hold water.
My point is that it is exceedingly unlikely for anyone to be using that symbol. Anders outright says that no one has used it since before the first Blight. No where is it stated that there is a bunch of copies floating around, or that the symbol was ever widely known in the first place. The game indicates that a small group of magisters were the only ones who ever used it, I gave reasons why use of that symbol never became widespread, and as far as I can tell, the explanation makes a fair amount of sense. Can you explain, please, where exactly this idea that there are a bunch of people using this symbol came from? As far as I can tell there is no indication that that is the case.
Also, Corypheus is a darkspawn. Why would a darkspawn, who usually don't have possessions besides armor and a weapon(in-game loot notwithstanding), carry around something like that unless it meant something?
This is all a bunch of Fridge Logic. So Anders saw a forbidden and ancient Tevinter amulet, a ghoul speaking what was probably Tevinter (though how does Hawke speak that?), said ghoul calling on gods not worshipped since the first Blight, and said ghoul apparently having no idea that Tevinter had fallen or what darkspawn were as well as claiming to be a magister and going to the Golden City. So his first reaction was not 'Yeah, that's a lot of circumstantial evidence but this could all be an elaborate Chantry plot. Try giving me some real proof.' The DLC ends two minutes or so after Corypheus is defeated. Presumably, Anders goes home and does more thinking on it like he says he will and all of this occurs to him.
There's actually a fairly simple reason why the symbol of Dumat is likely no longer found outside of books: Dumat was the first Archdemon to rise, and then be slain. There would be no reason for anyone to wear the symbol of or call on an Old God that is long dead by the time of the games; Anders probably saw it in a book in the Circle or with the Wardens, which is how he recognizes it (or, as a poster below pointed out, it might be Justice/Vengeance who recognizes it and not necessarily Anders). His visceral "Oh Maker it's TRUE" reaction is because he's just been through several hours (or days) of serious trauma (going back to the Deep Roads, dealing with Corypheus's call and Vengeance, and then fighting Corypheus), he's stressed as all hell, and he's probably not thinking entirely clearly - and also that all the evidence really DOES point in the direction of Corypheus being one of the Blight-starting magisters. Perhaps he thought about it when he got back to the Hawke estate/his clinic and reconsidered, but at the time it was actually a fairly reasonable assumption to make. For a certain value of "reasonable."
Short Version: It's a leap of logic, pure and simple. Any one of the factors listed above would not be enough to prove Corypheus is one of the original Magisters, but put all of them together and, well, what else could Corypheus be? Seriously, do you have any other explanation for who or what Corypheus is that would account for all the evidence pointing towards him being one of the original Magisters?
It's also worth considering that it might not be Anders that recognizes it, but Vengeance, who may well be old enough to recognize the amulet from the last time he saw one.
That's even more impossible, Justice clearly had almost no contact with human culture in general when he first ended up possessing a corpse.
He was unfamiliar with Ferelden culture, having never left the Fade. But the ancient Imperial mages almost certainly spent a good deal of time in the Fade, hanging out with spirits and whatnot, and they probably brought (an incorporeal representation of) their religious symbols with them.
Why is Bodhan's accent so different from every other dwarf in Thedas? Whether they were born and raised on the surface or in Orzammar all dwarves seem to speak with a distinctly North American accent...except for Bodhan (and Sandal of course, but he's "special" so I don't think it counts). Where did Bodhan get that accent from and why don't any other dwarves talk like him?
Two guesses here: 1.) He's deliberately hamming it up for his clientèle. 2.) BioWare cast David Schultz and recorded his lines before their ideas for the dwarves were finalized (ironically, Schultz himself is American).
Bodhan seems to have a Ferelden accent, so maybe he's just one of those people who picks up the linguistic habits of the people around him really easily.
Is there any reason given as to why a devout man like Sebastian continues to follow Hawke, despite Hawke either being an apostate or at the very least working with apostates. I know he occasionally references things like Merrill's status as a blood mage during idle banter; my problem is that he never so much as commented on it initally or gave a reason for why he decided to keep traveling with Hawke in the first place unlike the rest of the cast. Aveline treated the Hawke family as a sort of an Enemy Mine situation due to the Blight, and eventualy befriended them. Fenris is visibly upset by the composition of Hawke's party, but initially sticks around out of a sense of gratitude. Varric sought out the Hawke siblings and for him the apostate aspect was probably a selling point. Anders and Merrill obviously have no problem being apostates themselves; and Isabela is well... Isabela. Sebastian by contrast joins up for his personal quest and just never seems to leave.
Sebastian may be pious, but that doesn't mean that he'll mindlessly follow everything he's told by the Chantry. He respects Hawke as a stable mage who doesn't need extra watching since s/he doesn't deal with demons. He doesn't turn in Merrill or Anders either out of loyalty to either them or Hawke and because neither of them were a danger to the city. He briefly considers turning Anders and/or Merrill in to Fenris, but decides to forget about it when the most anti-mage party member refuses to cross Hawke by doing so.
He's likely weighing the pros and cons of it. Anders and Merrill are more powerful than the average apostate and could likely do some serious damage to any templars sent after them on their own. Now, take into account they aren't on their own; if nothing else they'd likely have Hawke backing them, which will increase the body count significantly. Merrill will likely have Varric and Isabela protecting her as well. Half of dark town may well rise up to protect Anders because of his clinic work (maybe, maybe not, but it's a possibility Sebastian could account for). He likely thinks that the potential bloodshed isn't worth turning them in as they're relatively harmless, Merrill being, well, Merrill and Anders still running his clinic could balance out his helping apostates in Sebastian's mind. He does try to warn Anders off his rebellion, saying the Chantry will bring its full might down on him if he goes through with it.
It's pretty clear that he wants to turn in Merrill and Anders but he doesn't think it's worth aggravating Hawke.
By the time Sebastian joins the party permanently, he's likely heard of all the good work Hawke has done and Hawke did help him with his own personal quest regarding his family. In addition, Hawke is a respected noble and a friend to Sebastian. And at the end of the day, Sebastian's a good guy who doesn't mind helping his friends. I'm reminded of an optional bit of banter in the third act if Merrill is romanced, where Aveline asks her why she's sticking around when all these issues don't concern her, and her reply is that she loves Hawke, which is all she needs. It's kind of the same way with Sebastian - he is Hawke's friend. That is all the reason Sebastian needs.
The do-we-turn-them-in conversation with Fenris sums this up, albeit from Fenris' side. Fenris makes it clear that he doesn't like Merrill or Anders, but Hawke trusts them and Fenris trusts Hawke. To turn on them is to turn on Hawke and that's a line neither man will cross. See also Jayne with regards to Simon and River and Mal in Firefly.
There's also the thing where hardly anyone in Kirkwall ever seems to notice that mage Hawke is an apostate, starting with them casting spells in the middle of the freaking Gallows.
As far as he's concerned about Hawke, they are a mage that only uses their power for the good of the city, and considering he joins in act 2 he's only with Hawke a short while before they become Champion in which case nobody can touch them (especially since their mage power helped in defeated the Arishok in the first place). Bethany meanwhile he can only encounter in DLC, where's she's already part of the circle, with permission by Meredith to accompany them, or she's a Warden in which case she's exempt from Chantry law (presumably they allow Warden's to police their own mages, unless said Warden mage goes rogue like Anders). Or during the finale where the situation has already spiraled out of control and pro Mage Sebastian has (assuming Anders was killed) accused the Kirkwall templars of corruption and turned on them. Merril meanwhile is a Dalish and a trained First, and since the Chantry doesn't bother them regularly, presumably they allow the Dalish to police their own. Sebastian actually doesn't mind Merril anyway aside from her recklessness with Demons she doesn't push his buttons with anti Chantry ranting like Anders does. Anders meanwhile is technically an abomination. The Templar's will almost certainly execute him if turned in assuming he doesn't kill them first. They're be no peaceful way of sending him to the Circle. He'd be signing his death warrant if he turned him in and he presumably doesn't want Anders dead (until the finale anyway). Likewise with Merril in fact. She's a blood mage and has a demon pact. Templar's wouldn't take her alive.
Ok, so, in Merrill's friendship/romance path, she says Hawke's her only real friend. What bugs me about this is that Isabela and Varric obviously consider her a friend; they treat her well, watch her back, Varric even helps keep her fed. Now, I understand Hawke being her best friend, but there seems to be a lack of appreciation there.
Merrill's mouth has a tendency to run faster than her brain sometimes.
In the romance plot that could just be her way of saying the only person she ever loved in her own poorly worded way.
Merrill's hardly the most socially aware person around. She may simply not notice given that Varric and Isabela aren't likely to ask her in-depth questions about her past and the mirror the way Hawke does. Merrill, remember, regularly gets lost in places she goes all the time and hasn't noticed that she goes places she's not allowed to or that Varric is keeping her safe. She outright says that she hopes she gets mugged one day because she thinks it's some sort of greeting.
I agree. I think it's simply a case of Merrill not realizing what Varric and Isabela are doing. Also keep in mind that she grew up among the Dalish, a people for whom the treatment that Varric and Isabela give her is normal and expected. Dalish are tight-knit and treat everyone within the clan as family, so I would think that the way those two treat her would be viewed by her as natural, whereas Hawke actively attempts to get to know her better and learn about her. Also keep in mind that Hawke on a friendship path is just about the only person who hasn't reacted negatively to Merrill's work on the mirror, which is a Big Deal for her.
There's also an element of melodrama. How many of us have said to our partner or best friend "You're the only one that cares!" or something similar while in a bit of state. If we were thinking rationally we'd know that isn't the case, but emotions are running high. Add that to Merrill's eternal awkwardness and well...
To say nothing of the possibility that Isabela and Varric, while they genuinely do care for Merrill, are a bit more obvious in their pity of her. As her eventual dealings with Anders show, she's shy and inexperienced with people, but not nearly as naive as everyone thinks. Both Varric and Isabela act to protect and coddle Merrill, while Hawke directly supports or challenges her without forgetting she's one of the team's powerhouses.
Also, keep in mind that Isabella is actually an optional character, technically. It's very possible to not get her (I had to skip her quest due to a bug that prevented me from looting the correct item). I guess they could script that scene differently depending on if she was in your party, but that seems overly complicated. Doesn't really explain Varric, though.
Merrill does seem to recognize that Isabela likes her, from the Isabela/Merrill party banter that starts with Merrill asking Isabela "why do you even like me?" She reacts to Isabela in that chat just like she reacts to a female Hawke, ie, wondering how Isabela could ever find her interesting. Several cut scenes also imply that Merrill and Isabela hang out on their own. It might just be an oversight on the part of the writers, or, as someone says above, hyperbole based on Hawke being Merrill's closest friend.
As far as Merrill's concerned, Isabela and Varric are like clan members to her. They'll help her whenever she needs them to and she'll do the same for them. But Hawke is specifically taking an interest in her. He's helping her. He's not just a clan member - he's specifically a friend.
The Blade of Mercy
Why is the Blade of Mercy different depending on whether you give it to Fenris or keep it for yourself? If you give it to Fenris (or make him take it) it has the same model as his starting sword and has inferior stats. Why would the devs do this? Is there something here I'm missing?
Well, the blade does seem to react to him in the conversation. Maybe it's different depending on who uses it. Hawke is more badass than Fenris, so the sword is better for him.
If abominations are possessed mages, why do they only seem to attack by clawing you to death?
The demon possessing then affects their abilities. Rage and hunger abominations don't use magic; they're not intelligent enough. Sloth, desire, and pride abominations do use magic.
I have never seen an abomination that wasn't an Arcane Horror use magic in DAII. Not even when they were specifically identified as a sloth or desire abomination.
Desire abominations generally take on the physical form of a desire demon. Sloth abominations do use magic. You think that whole sequence where you were trapped in the fade at the hands of a sloth abomination happened because he was a really good speaker?
Then why doesn't it happen more often? If abominations above the Hunger level can use magic freely, why don't they?
It's not abominations above Hunger, it's abominations above Hunger and Rage. Notice Rage Demons don't do magic even in their own form. Desire abominations become their own forms, as do Pride, and they do use magic. As for the Sloth, they are, for the most part, not that bright. Most abominations we encounter are new to the whole mortal coil thing. Probably takes them a while to get used to physical bodies before they get round to learning to channel magic through them.
Addendum, the whole trapped in the fade deal in DA I seemed to imply that there isn't really a stringent hierarchy of demons by type, as the minor "lords" of the realms are all different types. It is implied that pride demons are generally the strongest by the first game, but this seems to be a generality rather than a rule. So it's entirely possible that the sloth abominations you faced were simply demons without enough power to control/focus/wield magic properly when they crossed over.
Additional addendum: The hierarchy is based on which ones the Templars have found hardest to fight. That says nothing about their actual power, just how dangerous the abominations known to be caused by them are. Make of that what you will.
Extreme Citizen Apathy
Dragon Age II takes Apathetic Citizens to untold heights of absurdity. Hawke and Co. are fighting Qunari in the streets; blood and innards are everywhere; dangerous, destructive magical spells are flying left and right, and none of the citizenry even notice.' It wouldn't bother me so much if the random background NPCs vanished during fights, but it seemed odd that they just stand there like nothing's happening. I mean, is Kirkwall just so crime-ridden that a giant fight between 12 millions random thugs and four apostates is just another Tuesday?
I think the ones who seem to be just standing around are supposed to be mourning over dead bodies or something.
Well, Kirkwall is pretty crime-ridden. But still, it's a little bit bewildering to see NPCs stroll non-chalantly through bloody fights like nothing was going on.
Welcome to RPG games in general. This has pretty much existed in any game that let you use abilities in populated areas since forever. Mass Effect lets you fire off assault weapons and throw grenades will-nilly in the heart of the Council Chambers and no one in Redcliffe in the first game will blink an eye if a Warden mage whips up a firestorm in the same room as Teagan and Eamon.
Maybe Varric has to say, "And then we got into a fight with x" so many times, he just doesn't bother talking about the panicking citizens?
The NPCs are, for the most part, completely part of the scenery. You can't interact with them in any way and they never register that you're there. They just go about the same motions. Now, not being a game developer I can't say how hard it would or wouldn't be to program NPCs who get freaked out and run away/cheer you on every time you put your sword to use in front of them, as that kind of thing is more the forte of sandbox games like GTA or Elder Scrolls. Still, rushed as this game is(they didn't have time to give darktown a night model), it's not particularly surprising.
As the NPCs in Origins will also ignore fights going on around them, I don't think Dragon Age II's short production cycle is to blame. More likely Bioware doesn't consider it an issue.
Am I the only one who's a little unclear as to Corypheus' implied Grand Theft Me trick? The point of the wardens is that that trick, when used by archdemons, doesn't work on them. An archdemon soul transferred to a warden body kills them both; how's Cory able to walk around wearing a warden meat-suit?
Because he's not an Archdemon.
And a number of other things—he's no Archdemon, he has ancient Tevinter magic, and he's one of the only living beings who entered the Fade in physical form. There's really no telling what he's capable of.
My personal theory is that he performed a soul swap and put Janeka/Larius's soul in his body at the same time that he put his own soul in their body. This prevents two souls from inhabiting a single body at the same time and destroying each other like when a Grey Warden slays the Archdemon.
Qunari mages in Mark of the assassin
So in mark of the Assassin it turns out Tallis was a follower of the Qun I was wondering why you couldn't bring up the fact that the Qunari treat mages like shit when she was trying to convince you of how good the Qun was. I havent played the DLC as a mage yet so maybe you can but this seems like an important thing to bring up since a good portion of the people Hawke is friends with/related to are mages not to mention Hawke could be a mage too.
Because it's not really relevant. Hawke does not engage Tallis in an argument of the minutae of Qunari society. Hawke listens to Tallis and expresses a general opinion: Qunari = good, Qunari = bad, don't care about Qunari at all. Any discussion on how the mages get a bad deal with the Qunari will simply be rehashing the Qunari = bad opinion.
I know its kind of a nitpick I thought that it should be brought up if only because the way mages are treated is a pretty huge part of the games plot.
I thought the same though - your dad and your sister, as well as possibly you, are mages, and depending on your choices in the game, your lover might be as well. "Sounds like tyranny" seems a little mild when describing a system that would consign that many important people in your life to having their lips sewn shut, and possibly their eyes removed, as a matter of course. Tallis does get really angry at one point describing the injustices in human society, and it would have been nice had the developers allowed Hawke to respond in kind.
During one of the party conversations, Anders brings this exact issue up when Tallis mentions the equality of the Qun. She simply says that there isn't anywhere in Thedas where mages can be free.
Again, like almost everyone in game, Tallis seems oblivious to the fact that the person standing next to her tossing fireballs around could possibly be a mage.
Why doesn't Sebastian try to kill Anders?
Seriously, the guy is sitting right there! What's stopping him from shooting Anders in the back as he leaves or offering to take Hawke's murder-knife and do it himself? I had a friendmance with Anders in one playthtrough and was playing my Hawke as someone who couldn't bring herself to personally murder the man she loved, but was so angry at his betrayal she wouldn't have stopped anyone else from doing it. I was half-expecting Sebastian to offer to do it himself. But nope, Sebastian just whines and bitches about my Hawke's refusal to kill him and storms off, promising to come back with an army and possibly raze a city full of innocent people, an act that would arguably make him as bad as Anders, if not worse. He promises to make Anders face justice someday, why not do it when he's not even fighting back?
If you were playing a Hawke that could not kill Anders, but would have let another, can't you understand Sebastian's feelings? He doesn't want to kill a former companion and friend of Hawke, and disappoint the memory of Elthina—but he'd let you do it. To kill Anders, he'd have to go through Hawke, too. He probably doesn't want to hurt Hawke/Hawke's companions, and because he doesn't want to die himself. As for whether he plans on razing Kirkwall—those could just be empty words. After all, chances are Hawke and Anders will be skipping town, so what would be the point? It was probably just a hollow threat. Most of what we see of Sebastian establishes him as indecisive and hotheaded, and his actions reflected that. On The Doylist side, Sebastian attacking would have made for a dead Sebastian, and they want him alive for future games/DLC.
There is no such thing as a hollow threat in politics. Seriosly, even knowing that neither side was prepared to start it, the threat of a nuclear war dominates almost half a century of western history. Any modern person with political power making this threat would be sacked within hours, regardless of intent. The real mystery here is how anyone present could hear a man with power to command an army make a threat like that and just let him leave.
Because he doesn't have the power to command an army. For all his talk he's made pretty much no effort to establish a powerbase in Starkhaven.
He specifically says that he doesn't want Hawke to kill him. So yeah, Sebastian does have basic self preservation instincts.
Anders' Lack of Planning Skills
Exactly how did Anders expect to accomplish his grand rebellion? He never gathered allies, acquired resources, took input from other mages, attempted to gain the public's favor, bothered to leave Kirkwall to get outside aid, established escape routes or anything else that would give the other mages something remotely close to an advantage. He didn't bother to even define what the end goal was beyond "freedom", as if screaming that word often enough would suddenly make everything better. Not for one moment did he think of any steps in between "blow up Chantry" and "mage utopia". Regardless of how you feel about bombing the Chantry in and of itself, it can't be denied that it was probably the worst tactical decision possible for the well-being of the mages. Why didn't anybody call Anders out on how idiotic his decision to declare himself "leader of the mage rebellion" was when he didn't think for one second about how to actually behave like a leader. The sheer selfishness of his decision to throw a match onto a powder keg and damn every innocent mage in the city to a war they can't win sickened me to my very core.
While this is not that smart it is pretty true to life with radicals who want to bomb things, ever read up on the real bomb throwing anarchists of the 1870s through the 1930s.
It's also worth noting Anders simply wanted to start all out war everywhere so the mages would be forced to fight the Chantry. Presumably he was hoping they'd win. He himself didn't seem particularly insistant on leading the revolution, just starting it. In fact he seemed to be counting on dying, being rather surprised if Hawke ends up sparing him. Since he'd been a Warden for almost 10 years by then (meaning a decade or two and it would be time for his Calling.) and him dying would allow Justice to be freed from his body to return to the Fade, it's likely he wanted death.
Actually, he does try some of those things—he was a part of an underground mage rebellion, and he was gathering allies. The public did start favoring the mages—remember the beginning of Act III? But Hawke never really gets involved because Anders deliberately won't involve him/her in the actual rebellion. But Meredith gets worse and the rebellion is all but destroyed over the course of the game. Blowing up the Chantry was his final, desperate act for action. In his mind, mages were going to stay oppressed unless something *big* happened. So he forced everyone's hand. Anders did not expect to live through bombing the Chantry. He never called himself the leader of the rebellion. He *wanted* to live, to a degree, but he also knew he wouldn't deserve it if he did. His plan hung on the crux of Meredith flipping shit and doing exactly what she had wanted to do—an Annulment. Because of that, rebellion was incited.
He never gathered allies, acquired resources, took input from other mages, - What, were you asleep when he explicitly mentioned that he's part of an underground organization that supports, protects, and smuggles mages out of Kirkwall?
attempted to gain the public's favor - What did you think was in those manifestos he kept publishing? Cooking recipes? And the fact that he's got flash mobs who show up to support him and that he has Varric making sure thugs and criminals leave him alone indicates he's doing pretty well on the public support front.
bothered to leave Kirkwall to get outside aid - If Anders leaves Kirkwall without Hawke backing him up, Templars will ensue.
established escape routes or anything else that would give the other mages something remotely close to an advantage. - Again, see the entire underground mage-support organization he was part of.
He didn't bother to even define what the end goal was beyond "freedom", as if screaming that word often enough would suddenly make everything better. Yes, he did. The end goal was to eliminate Chantry control over mages. A lofty, open-ended goal, but he had a defined goal.
Regardless of how you feel about bombing the Chantry in and of itself, it can't be denied that it was probably the worst tactical decision possible for the well-being of the mages. Tactically? Maybe. The local Kirkwall Circle would be slaughtered. But strategically? No, that was brilliant. The objective was to start a war, and the destruction of the Chantry and the Templar slaughter of the Kirkwall Circle would do exactly that. It was exactly what he wanted.
The whole point of the Chantry's destruction was to settle the boiling feud once and for all. Anders wanted to force Mage to defend themselves and fight their freedom or die trying.
Most people believe the logic behind blowing up the Kirkwall Chantry was that Anders KNEW that Meredith would invoke the Rite of Annulment. He was banking on the outrage of the other Circles that would ensue after the Kirkwall Circle got Annulled over the actions of a FOREIGN APOSTATE, with no real ties to the Kirkwall Circle.
Why didn't anybody call Anders out on how idiotic his decision to declare himself "leader of the mage rebellion" was when he didn't think for one second about how to actually behave like a leader. - This would matter if at any point Anders ever actually declared himself a leader. An instigator? Yes. A part of the underground? Yes. A martyr? Absolutely. but never once did he consider himself a leader.
The sheer selfishness of his decision to throw a match onto a powder keg and damn every innocent mage in the city to a war they can't win sickened me to my very core. - What "selfishness"? He did what he did for all mages, everywhere, and fully expected to die for it. There was nothing even vaguely selfish about it. He made himself into a martyr, and deliberately instigated a war so that mages would fight for their freedoms.
Anders did what he did for all mages? Really? Because all he accomplished was making sure that mage-nonmage relations would be ruined for the rest of eternity. From now on, only two possible outcomes exist - either the mages are brutally exterminated and all future mages are killed as children (or tortured and dehumanized into the equivalent of the qunari's saarebas), or the mages will be forced to destroy all Chantry members, all templars, and most of the normal populace (who will now see them as monsters who have been condemned by the Maker), crushing anyone without magical power beneath a second Tevinter Imperium. By making the mages' desires for freedom synonymous with mass murder and antitheistic terrorism, Anders has damned the entire population of Thedas to decades, perhaps even centuries of strife.
There are ways for a civil war to end short of genocide, you know. There's no reason it has to be as all-or-nothing as you're saying.
It think that's very rare.
Not really, the American Civil War didn't end in Genocide, the Korean and Vietnam wars didn't end in genocide, really you would have an easier time picking civil wars that did end in genocide. But your premise is flawed since it requires all chantry members, all Templars and all of the normal populace to be fiercely anti-mage, when even after what Anders did you have the head of the Chantry who is pro-mage, even after an attempt was made on her life, and is complicit with helping the Mages break free of the Lord Seeker's illegal imprisonment, you have plenty of Templars who aren't "they're a mage kill it" such as end of Act III Cullen and Evangeline from Asunder, and plenty of named characters who are pro-Mage in addition to the Mage Rail Road (made up of friends or family of mages along with sympathetic figures) and depending on your choices the Hero of Ferelden, the King of Ferelden, and the Champion of Kirkwall.
Perhaps not, but that's not how Anders saw it. For him, it IS all-or-nothing, and when both options are horrible, that says something about his motivations. To quote the man himself, "I've removed the option of compromise, because there can be no compromise". Anders will not be happy until the Templars are exterminated. Even then, judging by his Friendship bump if you sell Fenris back to Danarius, he still won't be happy until detractors are subjugated in another form of the Templar Imperium. Like many extremist freedom fighters, Anders isn't fighting for mage equality; he's fighting for mage superiority. When a group has been oppressed for a long time, sometimes that line is difficult to see.
I don't think Anders has ever implied he wanted mage superiority. He merely wanted a genocide of Templars.
Except he never stated that at all. He doesn't try to kill Carver at all, and his deal isn't "kill everyone who isn't us," it's "this institution doesn't work so it must be torn down." Both the II ending and Asunder show there are Templars who adhere to the "protecting Mages" thing over the "subjecting them" issue Anders was pissed about.
I've always thought it was selfish because he had to be the big martyr hero. He couldn't kill Meredith, or ask Hawke to do it, because then history wouldn't remember Anders, The Guy Who Freed All The Mages. Incremental steps weren't good enough for him; it had to be the one big gesture. That may have been Justice's influence, since Fade spirits don't seem to be good with the idea of consequences.
Also, keep in mind that a lot of Anders' irrationality comes from the fact that he is harboring Vengeance. Anders, quite literally, is not human anymore, and is in fact driven by irrational desires brought upon by an entity that is solely devoted to a single concept who does not understand concepts like "time" or being patient. Vengeance is not a rational entity, and it is actively taking control of Anders whenever it can.
I think that's the most important point. Justice had mutated into Anders definition of justice, which are concepts such as vengeance and radicalism. We also need to remember that creatures of the fade - benign or malevolent - influence humans on an emotional and spiritual level, not on a cognitive level. Throughout the game, Anders loses his touch with reality, becoming obsessed with abstract concepts and forgetting the human side of what he's doing. In a sense, what he does is egocentric, not selfish. He really does fight for freedom and against oppression, but only does so from his corrupt perspective.
I'm going to disagree with some of your points. What he did was selfish—he caused a war not everyone wants to be involved in because he really hates the Chantry and the Circle. Kirkwall is abnormal. The Circle of Ferelden was nothing like it—in fact, mages there probably had more opportunity than pretty much anyone outside of nobility. They had a warm place to sleep, good food, education, and friends with similar interests. He did it because he didn't want to sit on his laurels. His plan was haphazard and, well, selfish. It was about what he wanted for his goal.
Except that said goal was freedom for mages. The goal he sought was highly unselfish: he believed that it would be better to fight for one's freedom than to languish in what he perceived as an inescapable, institutional form of slavery. At the core of the whole matter is that Anders wants freedom for all mages, no matter the cost to himself personally. The manner in which he goes about the process of freeing mages is screwed up, but his goals are not selfish at all.
Sorry, the Fereldan Circle was better off than anyone but nobility? This would be the Circle that had a large scale infestation of Blood Mages and Abominations because they just couldn't stand it any more? The Circle whose Templars hunted down Anders even when he joined the Wardens, which is not only oppressive but illegal? That was going to make Jowan Tranquil against his will because they thought he might fail his Harrowing? That took Wynne's son away from her for no goddamn reason? It might be better than Kirkwall but it's still an Orwellian nightmare. A gilded cage is still a cage. Anders' actions may have been rash and morally reprehensible but the injustices he was opposing are very real, not just his issues. Unwise, perhaps, horrible, sure, but not selfish.
As for your second sentence, they only claimed that's why they turned to blood magic. We have no reason to believe them over anyone else. The Templar who hunted Anders was a lunatic zealot. Jowan was going to be Tranquil because he was caught performing blood magic. They take a mage's kids away because the children may or may not be mages. What will they do with that kid in the mage tower? Keep him there? To do what? If he is a mage, fine, he can stay—but if he's not, what do they do with him? Make him a templar? How effective will a templar be if he must hunt his mother? Turn him loose in the world? He has no money, no connections, no family. I assume that if a mage has kids inside the Circle, they hand him to the family, if they're willing to take them.
We have no reason not to believe them either. Why would they lie? They're gonna die anyway. And nobody denied that's why they did it, not even the Templars. Sure the Templar hunting Anders was a nutball, but she did come from the Fereldan chapter and had achieved a high enough position to lead a search party. It's not as if her attitudes had sidelined her. No, Jowan had not been caught performing Blood Magic. There were a few rumours he was a Blood Mage, that's it. If that's why they were going to Tranquilise him that's worse. They're mind raping him based on rumour. I doubt it though. They don't Tranquilise Blood Mages, they kill them. Finally you are really going to defend taking a child away from a mother because she has a certain trait? That was her son! He could easily go out into the world when he grows up after being raised by his mother or raised by a foster family but visit rather then taken who-knows-where and the two never being allowed to even see each other. Even parents in prison are allowed to see their kids and they've actually done something wrong. And even if none of the above were true the fact remains that mages are being held somewhere against their will. It could be the nicest place in Thedas and it would still be a prison for those who have commited no crime.
Because the blood mage who tells you this really wants to live—she begs for her life ahead of time. You're right, but she wasn't supposed to. If a police officer shoots an unarmed prisoner, he is not correct in doing so, even if he has his buddies back him up. It does not necessarily reflects upon the precinct he comes from. Yes, he was. Did you never speak to Irving? He'll tell you Jowan was seen performing blood magic—Jowan tries to tell you that it's because he's not doing good enough, and then if you confront him about the blood magic thing (notice how the mage here lies about his motivations?) he'll just say some Templar must have seen him sneaking around with Lily, and that's it—but we later find how he was completely lying to you. It wasn't a "few rumors"—they caught him, he was a blood mage. Yep, yes I am. The child can't stay at the Circle tower. Also, as I recall the new Dragon Age book is about Wynne's son—for all we know, she had the kid by a templar, and his family took the kid in. It's possible there were extenuating circumstances, who knows? Yes, there are very cruel aspects of the Circle, but it's not horrific. The Circle is a necessity. We don't have real world applications for mages. They can control minds. What if one gets in good with a world leader? They, in their dreams, can be possessed, become a demon, and firebomb a neighborhood. There's no way to regulate that. There's no way to control it, except for account for them all and account for the magic they use. The best that can be done is give them, as you say, a gilded prison.
The Blood Mage is doomed and she must know it. Spare her or not, the Templars will see her dead. And the motivation is hardly tough to accept. In and of itself the action of a police officer shooting an unarmed prisoner does not reflect on the precinct, but if the officer in question thinks this is OK and they have reached a high rank, lieutenant or captain, that does suggest a problem. Fine, you've got me on Jowan, I never spoke to Irving. Though personally I've never seen just using Blood Magic as evil. Some of my characters have used Blood Magic and been perfectly nice people. Jowan is not a bad person, he's just really, really stupid. You just assume that there are extenuating circumstances. I suppose we'll see in the new book but it is very odd to simply take the side of the people who stole a child from his mother without any evidence of such circumstances. Even if living in the Circle was not a possibility why is she never allowed to see him again? What possible reason could exist for that? Why are mage kids never allowed to see their parents? Why are they no allowed out ever? All but the worst convicts are allowed occasional trips out under supervision. The Circle is not a necessity and in fact makes things worse. Plenty of examples exist of mages living outside the Circle, in society without either controling it or going mad. The Dalish, the Mage Collective, the Wardens. Whereas the Circle creates bitter, angry mages with no way out of their undeserved imprisonment but turning to the very things the Circle supposedly is there to prevent. There are other ways. There is a real world comparison for mages. They are called humans. We all have the potential to do terrible things but we don't punish everyone for what they might do, just what they do do. We try to make sure most people are taught to be people who won't do terrible things. The fact that mages potential terrible things are worse changes nothing. Account for mages, sure. Make sure they are trained properly, fine. But don't lock them up in a prison for no fault of their own, isolate them from everyone but other mages and the people who kill them if they screw up, never let them even see their families and constantly tell them that God hates them. Let them be a part of the society they are meant to serve ("Magic is meant to serve man, not rule over him." Serve man, not be locked away. Andraste was smarter than her followers.) so they have reason to care about them and not fireball them. Let the Templars be a police force, not the SS. Treat mages like human beings (or elves), not bombs.
But she knows you have the power to set her free. You can even bring up that she probably won't be able to escape, but she says she'll find a way. It may suggest a problem, you're right—but it also, as I said, doesn't always reflect on the whole. Even if your characters have been good mages, almost every single blood mage we ever encounter in either game is evil or their power is used for evil. Even the good characters, like Jowan and Merrill. Being human is not like being a mage, because humans cannot control minds. Humans don't come with massive arsenals of weapons inside themselves. I can't really see how anyone would condone the use of blood magic when one of its abilities is to control another human's will. As I said, it's not nice to keep them there, but you cannot compare it against real life.
Merill doesn't use her power for evil, she just puts herself in dangerous situations, after first doing her utmost to protect others. Jowan does, but through stupidity, not malice. And the worst thing he does he does at the order of the regent of Fereldan. As for the rest, of course we meet the bad ones. We're adventuring. Be a dull story otherwise "the mighty adventurers encountered a powerful mage...who was a perfectly decent chap, so they passed the time of day and moved along." Mind control is pretty damn rare actually. In both games there are maybe three mages who can use it. In any case, my point stands. You are quite capable of killing lots of people, should you be locked up to prevent you from doing so? Because that is what you are saying should happen to mages, that they should be locked up to prevent what they might do. And you have yet to give a reason why separating them from their families entirely is needed. That said your argument that might just hold some water if the Circle actually worked. But it doesn't. By isolating mages and treating them like criminals it makes them bitter and angry and thus more likely to do the very things it claims to prevent. It's. Not. Working. The Dalish, Mages Collective and the Wardens are, for the most part, giving mages more freedom and getting better results. The only place where free mages are making a mess is Tevinter, which sucks because it's slave trading dictatorship, not because it has free mages. The Circle has had frequent uprisings, demon invasions and so on and has caused effectively a World War. How can you still suggest it's the way to go?
Oh yeah, the Dalish solution is brilliant. Just cast out any elf known to be dabbling in Blood Magic. Make it someone else's problem. Leave the rest of Thedas to clean up the mess. At least the Circle is an attempt to take responsibility.
Alright then, what about Redcliffe and Meredith's backstory? How would the above poster argue those? In Redcliffe Connor is a mage, who with very little training, calls a demon and ends up killing half the village before the Warden turns up and can, in game, destroy all of Redcliffe. He's a child, he's surrounded by a caring family with all the facilities money can pay and yet he falls pray to a demon - for very good reasons - and kills half his village. Now Connor himself isn't the issue but all those villagers who have lost their families, do you really think they are going to agree with mages being freed from the Chantry especially if something similar could happen again? Something's all well and good until its in your own backyard. Now Meredith knows how dangerous mages are, her sister's changing into an abomination wipes out her entire family and over 70 people. I don't think it was an coincidence that Meredith was sent to the Chantry rather than family, I mean what if she turned out to be the same? There's also the merchant who gives you the Mage Underground quests in the docks who says its because her sister was made tranquil even though she was soft and sweet and utterly defenceless - which in my mind sounds perfect for a demon to come a-calling. Perhaps she was offered it rather than her Harrowing? I always got the feeling that not only does the Circle keep other people safe from mages but mages free from other people.
Isolde chose Jowan, of all people, a mage seconds away from being forced into Tranquility, to tutor Connor because the alternative was the Circle, where she would never see her son again. Connor didn't become an abomination because he was simply he was a mage. There are many mages whose only communion with demons is their Harrowing, which they pass. He became an abomination because his tutor, the only alternative to being wrenched away from his family and placed into an Orwellian prison where he would be guarded by tin-plated mooks, was a pretty mediocre mage. None of that would have happened if he had received training from a proper teacher from the Circle, or if the Circle itself was primary an institution of education and not a prison.
Exactly. Since I got into this discussion I have never suggested that mages shouldn't be trained. It's the method of training that's the problem. To cover the points my compatriot above did not, Meredith made the jump from "a mage killed my family" to "all mages will kill people," an absurd logical fallacy. And then was willing to use a mysterious and highly dangerous artefact from the Deep Roads to empower herself against mages and provoked a World War. Not really an advert for the Circle there. As for the merchant's sister made Tranquil from the context it would seem she was one of Ser Alrick's victims. More to the point the merchant says "sweet and gentle" not "sweet, soft and utterly defenceless." A gentle person is very unlikely to fall to a demon because she doesn't want power like that. Unless of course she were backed into a corner by a fanatic in a tin can who wants to kill her for something that isn't her fault. The way forward is obvious; mages should be treated like the Dalish treat them. Have an more experienced mage train them, keep an eye on them, take them down if they do go Abomination, but don't treat them like criminals. Let them live with other people, let them still talk to their family and friends, allow them to feel part of the community. Give them reasons to care about other people. Outside the communal lives of the Dalish you are going to need a group like the Templars but, as I said earlier, let them be a police force not the SS. They don't need to hover over mages, hands on hilts, every day of their lives. Most people live fairly blameless lives without a policeman watching their every move, most mages will do the same. Treat mages like that and you'll have thousands, maybe tens of thousands of decent, well adjusted mages using their powers to make the lives of every person in Thedas better. And when one of them does go bad, the Templars can deal with it with help from other mages.
The biggest flaw in the Mages Should Be Free argument is that we really meet VERY few Apostates who can serve as good examples of why mages don't need the Circle looking over their shoulders. First, there is the issue of Blood Magic that needs to be addressed before anything further can be gone into: why is Blood Magic inherently bad? The answer isn't necessarily what it can do (control minds, as an example), as any form of magic can be capable of abuse. There is a reason why Blood Mages very reliably turn into Abominations, that I think's been overlooked in this discussion: to become a Blood Mage, the Mage has to directly make a bargain with a demon for power. It's not like just cutting your wrist and spraying magic; it's a Faustian Pact that, more often than not, ends in possession. Blood Mages are Abominations-in-Training, even if they're naive enough not to realize it (Merrill comes to mind, and but for the intervention of Merethari, she would have been no different). With this in mind, who can really serve as a good example of apostates acting responsibly without Circle oversight? Merrill, who very nearly made an Abomination of herself and inadvertently destroyed her clan? Flemeth, an ancient Abomination who kills Templars for sport, feeds on people who wander into her grasp, and raises new hosts as children? Anders, an Abomination responsible for nuking the Chantry? The Mages' Collective, whose first task for the Warden is to warn away Blood Mages so they can flee from their pursuers? Jowan? Connor? Zathrian? Even Merethari took a Pride Demon into herself and potentially caused the genocide of her clan, out of love for Merrill. Bethany is just about the only Apostate I can think of that is not, whether deliberate or through ignorance, a knife to the throat of everyone around them. There certainly are Apostates who don't blow up and kill people, but from what we've seen, they're few and far between. If Mages really are so responsible that they don't need Templar oversight, then where are all the responsible Apostates? And don't say that there are none because the Templars' existence forces the issue; there is one place that Mages are truly free of all Chantry oversight, and that is the Tevinter Imperium, the most horrible place of all. Those with power inevitably seek to use their power. Mages are born with that power. It's given to them freely, and without the discipline that comes from earning something, it cries out for abuse.
We do see—or at least hear about—responsible apostates. There's the Mage Warden and Mage Hawke if you go that route, as well as Malcolm Hawke and Bethany. You could argue that Warden mages like Fiona count, since they're not under Chantry oversight. Mage Hawke in particular can, if you play them that way, be living proof that apostate != maleficar, right up to the point where their companion blows up the Kirkwall Chantry.
The problem here is that you are basing your argument on those apostates encountered in-game by Hawke and the Warden. Of course most of them are going to be a threat: we're playing a game. We need things to fight. Most of the travellers we meet on the road are bandits, most Antivans are Crows, most Dwarves in 2 are Carta etc. It's not a fair sampling. As to Blood Magic you do not need to make a deal with a demon, that's just the only way to unlock the class in Origins. Hawke can become a Blood Mage without meeting a single demon, Malcom Hawke did in Legacy, Grace learned from Decimus and so forth. Anders even asks Merrill if she just cut herself and realized the power. He wouldn't ask that if it wasn't possible, even likely. You condemn the Mages Collective without proof. The mission you refer to is warning off the relatives of an accused Blood Mage, not warning off an actual Blood Mage. Now they might be lying but there is no evidence of that and given that another Collective mission is hunting down and killing Blood Mages I'm inclined to believe them. Most Collective missions come down to "get people to leave us alone non-violently." If that's not responsible what is? Then, as I keep saying, there's the Dalish. And yes, Zathrian, but if one insane Templar chapter does not condemn the Circle than certainly one single mad Keeper does not condem the Dalish. Given the reactions to Merrill Blood Magic and demon summoning are extremely rare among them. And Velanna was thrown out for wanting to use perfectly normal magic in a violent fashion. Then there is Ella, Alain, Terrie, Lanaya, likely Mage Warden or Mage Hawke, most Warden mages and even Morrigan most of the time. I mean she's brutal but she's not going around killing people at random or getting possessed. Even with the "it's a game so we need enemies" thing we still get many such examples. As for Tevinter, yes, it sucks, but as I already said it sucks because it's a slave owning, imperialistic dictatorship not because mages are free. Even Fenris admits most mages there are little better than slaves, only the chosen few Magisters have power. Take magic away from Tevinter and it would still be terrible. Also as I've said before my position is not "mages should be completely left alone," it's "mages should be trained and policed, not treated worse than criminals because of what they might do." And as I've also pointed out the Circle simply doesn't work, as has been proven time and time again. When something causes a World War it might just be time to try something else.
Really, the largest logically fallacy espoused by the Templars is that the mages will go bad if backed into a corner. Now, this may be true at least sometimes, but the people spouting it are usually the same guys who backed them into a corner in the first place. An apostate who meets with a templar is faced with, at best, lifetime imprisonment and, at worst, immediate execution. There's no such thing as due process for a mage: either you're serving the Chantry's whims or your a target. When you're facing an enemy that cannot be reasoned with, you can't really blame someone for defending themselves. The templars are basically running up to a wild animal, screaming and waving sticks, then get upset when they get bit. Any templar who thinks that maybe reasoning with an apostate might be a good idea is called an idealistic fool and essentially told to stand in the corner by their superiors who swear by the method that's barely functioned for over a thousand years. I'm not saying that an apostate isn't a potential danger or that there aren't numerous mages guilty of actual crimes beyond "being a mage", but the Templars really do bring a lot of this on themselves by treating every mage as if they're seconds away from tearing the blood out of an entire crowd and ripping the Veil out of spite. If they were really interested in reducing magic-related incidents, they'd learn to vary their tactics based on the mage's psychology. Maybe even bring Circle mages with them when they go after more impressionable apostates to take them without a fight or undue stress that could lead to possession. Sadly, their too attached to outdated religious doctrine to think of anything that logically. A peace keeping force should at least try not to be seen as the enemy of those they're supposed to deal with.
Logical fallacy though it may be, it's hard to argue against it when we see just about every mage in the game do exactly that. That's not to say that the Templars are blameless, but they do have a salient point when you consider the potential for devastation each mage poses. Some, like Wynne, Bethany or a good PC use their magic solely for good and benefit others with it. Quite a few use it for bad and hurt others - in fact there's a whole nation of them - and untrained mages carry with them the potential for devastation of apocalyptic proportions. Connor, a young boy and untrained, willfully allowed himself to become an abomination and inadvertently devastated Redcliffe, ironically only because his mother kept him from the Circle. If entire villages can be razed by a single mage on accident, then there needs to be some sort of governing authority to keep them in check. Kirkwall is probably representative of the worst excesses capable by such authority, but under the system intended that would not have been allowed to happen. Of course, none of it probably would have happened had they not set up a Circle in Kirkwall where the Veil is thin and demons are more easily able to pass through.
The system itself is the problem. It simply does not work. Most Circles are better than Kirkwall, but they're still little better than prisons and have very limited oversight. The mages within have no real power over their lives and are basically treated as loaded guns from birth to death. The Templars are not only religiously indoctrinated, but they're deliberately addicted to a substance that causes irrationality and a host of other problems that has been proven to be unnecessary. At any moment, a mage could be victim of punishments ranging from imprisonment without food or water to execution. This is all what happens when the Circle is functioning properly. Kirkwall is the worst of the worst, but the system was terribly designed from the get-go because it was designed by people who think like Fenris. It was always doomed to fail. The events of Kirkwall and the White Spire show that all too well.
Also not all mages go bad when cornered. Notice the girl on Anders Act 2 quest, she was backed into a corner and didn't get possessed or go blood magic. Likewise the mages in the first wave of the Templar attack on the Circle. Granted we see a lot that do but we are playing a game, a game that is futhermore Varric telling a story. He's not gonna repeatedly tell Cassandra "We met this apostate and it all went fine" nor are the game designers going to do that. It's boring. Oh, and plenty of the Feredan Circle didn't turn even though backed into a corner and most of those that did had to be tortured into it. That there has to be a system that watches over mages in case they do go bad is fair enough but the Circle system simply doesn't work. Treating an entire group like criminals just for being them and then being surprised when some of them act like criminals is deeply foolish.
The reverse problem still remains, however; the mages really are loaded guns from birth to death. Each one carries the potential for devastation on a global scale. Consider what could have happened if a possessed Connor hadn't been stopped by the Warden. The potential for destruction rivals that of a Blight. And the Blight itself was caused by mages who sought to increase their power - indeed, it's worth noting that people like Fenris garner their opinions from the fact that the Tivinter Imperium was run by mages who were some of the cruelest, most tyrannical people imaginable and used their magic to actively hurt others. The Circle system was established only after the overall defeat of the Tivinter Imperium liberated the better part of the continent from an equally oppressive and destructive system of rule by mages.
Once again, you confuse power with corruption. Tevinter is a horrible, slave-mongering dystopia because its ruled by horrible people who just happen to be mages. If they were to have no powers, they'd be just as horrible as ever. Magic simply makes it easier for them to impose their will on others. They actually did have a Circle system before, but that was subverted by politics, not mind-control. The average mage is just some random person who woke up one day with new powers. Ripping them away from their homes, isolating them with people religiously instructed to barely tolerate them, and then using them as weapons instead of people just results in a lot of powerful people who now have a grudge against you. It doesn't work. The mages need instruction and maybe some level of removal from others, but the current system is a horribly designed mess that fools like Fenris endorse because they just want mages gone, not helped or really managed. This whole rebellion shows just how it was unsustainable. For all your complaints, the organizations that do provide mages some level of freedom or just treat them as people actually do reach some better results than the Circle. There needs to be a system to handle mages, but the current set-up is horrendously flawed.
But if the Tivinters weren't mages, then their society wouldn't have been possible in the first place. They use blood magic to control others, and used that to conquer country after country, enslaving ever more people. Your average mage is a poor kid who woke up one day with powers - powers capable of razing whole villages or inviting in demons to commit atrocities that are only capable because they are mages. What's worse; that it can happen by accident or that it can happen by design? Either way, it's something that's only possible because mages, when untrained and unsupervised, are walking weapons of mass destruction. Take the example of Anders: a well-meaning mage who wants to be able to live his life freely. He then corrupts a fade spirit into a rage demon and sparks a global war. You can argue that it was the oppressive Circle system that caused it but it still shows that a mage carries the capacity for death and destruction so long as they carry human flaws like anger, greed, lust, desperation and confusion - that is to say, merely existing. And again, because it needs to be reiterated, there is literally nothing in this setting that can cause as much ruin as a rogue mage. Even if it is possible for mages to live peacefully as individuals or in a group, and I don't discount the possibility, so long as there is one mage willing to use their power negatively, with all the possible outcomes we know can occur, then there has to be some system to stop them from doing so. Kirkwall is clearly not that system, but there can hardly be an effective one that does not involve training mages from children in a controlled, monitored environment.
The problem is that the Circle is explicitly not that system. It does train and monitor mages from early life, which is necessary, but it also treats them as living weapons with no rights for their entire lives. A mage has no control over their lives or even the barest pretense of civil rights. They're expected to follow every demand the Templars place on them on fear of punishments ranging from torture to execution that can be doled out completely at the discretion of their guards. The Templars' have absolute power over their charges with next to no oversight. The mage is little more than a tool of the Chantry, a slave in all but name, in the Circle and they can't ever do enough to prove themselves worthy of actual trust. The Chantry depends on this strongarm system to intimidate mages into loyalty, and yet they still have constant dissension. On the other hand, self policing groups like the Dalish and the underground mage groups get much better results by actually treating the mages as humans/elves and giving them a reason to actually care about the fates of non-mages. There needs to be a system to control magic, but the Circle is not the way to do it. You won't prevent a second Tevinter by oppressing random mages like this. All that accomplishes is giving them a very good reason to hate "muggles".
This may be a game but its also a story. The story element is very important here. The game is being relayed to us through a story teller, the game is organized into Acts. We meet plenty of non combat npcs in this game. We could have stood to meet more good apostates and mages. There was plenty of opportunity for us to meet more good mages than we do in this game. What sealed the deal for me was the secret mage-templar alliance. You literally have no opportunity to reason with them and it would have been the perfect opportunity to show the player that there is another way, that apostates are largely reasonable people. If there needed to be a fight, it could have been a battle against some other party, say a group of bounty hunters looking to bust up the alliance for a quick buck. And you could fight to save this underground alliance. Orsino was another opportunity to show a reasonable mage but the thing he becomes at the end makes it clear that he's been consorting with the mage who killed your mother and that he had to have had a pretty good idea what that mage was up to if he was able to perform the same rituals. Most of the occasions the story had to show you sympathetic mages, it discards. Which means the story is either poorly written or we're meant to think that, whether all mages are evil or just some, mages as a whole are too volatile and dangerous to be allowed to run around free.
Except we do meet good mages. Terrie, the other named character from the Starkhaven breakout, if allowed to go free does nothing except try to help other mages escape Templar oppression. Marethari sacrifices herself for Merrill. The girl that Ser Alrick is trying to have Tranquilised just wants to see her parents. Bethany...well, Bethany. I know Merrill, while a nice person, is not a great example of a mage behaving responsibly but there's no flies on the youngest Hawke. And even in the example you brought up, the mage-templar alliance, it's not like the whole group jumps you on sight. Grace proves to be a nutcase out for revenge and a attacks and a handfull of people who are already on edge see the fight starting and join in. Most of the mages back off. Even with the fact that, as a game with a heavy combat aspect, most encounters have to end violently we still get plenty of examples of perfectly nice mages. Oh, and how much Orsino actually knew about what Quentin was doing is up in the air. The evidence suggests he was aware he was into some risky magic but not that he knew a thing about the murders etc.
Orsino knew the magic grafted bodies together and reanimated them. That's what Quentin uses it for and thats what Orsino uses it for. He couldn't be ignorant to that fact and still use the magic roughly the same way Quentin uses it. And the thing your side misses about this argument is that even if there are a few good apostates out there, every scenario we're in reinforces the idea that its all too easy for these walking powder kegs to explode with disastrous results. Even if it was only one out of ten, when you see the sheer devastation they can unleash, it totally justifies the normal practices of the templars. And if the game is anything to go by, its more like 9 out of 10. If you were an ordinary citizen living with near constant demon and blood mage attacks, tell me you wouldn't be in full support of the templars.
Except that 9 out of every 10 Templars we run into are violently psychotic fanatics ready to kill or tranqulise any mage that looks at them funny along with anyone who ever chatted with said mage. I'm sure most Templars aren't like that but again, it's a game, we need something to fight and often. The experiences shown in game are not indicative of large scale trends. How many of the average citzens of Kirkwall do you think run into dragons on a regular basis? And no, even if one in ten apostate mages were likely to go bad (which the survival of Dalish society and the Mages' Collective suggests is a massive over estimation anyway) it still wouldn't justify the Templar's treatment of them. First, if 1 in 10 people of any given group became criminals that would suggest a deep seated problem with that group, sure, but would you really suggest the other 9 out 10 be arrested and imprisoned as well, just in case? You really think that's a fair and just use of power? Second, as has been said, taking mages away from their families, treating them like criminals even though they've done nothing wrong, telling them that god hates them just for existing and putting them entirely under the control of a bunch of religious fanatics in tin cans who are trained almost exclusively to kill them is not a great way to get them on side. The Circle essentially teaches mages that humanity has no place for them. How is that supposed to make them hold onto their humanity (or elfanity for that matter)? By all means find and train them but the Templars' approach is only making it worse.
Blood magic is considered to be the definition of evil by the Chantry, which is fair enough considering the Tevinter Imperium used it as a method of ruling a brutal empire. However, the modern Chantry's main stance on mages is that they are a threat due to abominations. Blood magic has no risk of abominations, and as long as the power isn't drawn from the life force of slaves, doesn't seem to have any ethical issues. So the Templar stance on blood magic seems to be born of ancient prejudices rather than reality. Also, it should be noted that the Tevinter magisters were mages of incredible power and, since they seem pretty much the definition of excessive pride, doesn't it stand to reason that where they to be possessed, they would become pride abominations. Adding their existing power, surely these abominations would have been capable of tearing cities apart? Odd that there are no references to any Tevinter magisters becoming abominations. Also, in game, none of the abominations are that strong, although that could be because they are weaker demons. Perhaps the stronger ones just aren't that interested in posseing random mages.
Tallis' choice in allies
Wouldn't it have done Tallis a bit better of finding someone to work with that may not potentially have a massive grudge against the Qunari? I understand that this really only applies if the DLC is played after Act II but it still seems that after that point Hawke and company would be a really risky choice, even if she managed to keep them in the dark throughout the entirety.
Well, she needed to find someone with an invitation. It's worth noting that the Arishok respects you at least a little by the time you kill him—something the other qunari are aware of. Everyone else with a pass is Orlesian, which won't do. Hawke can ask why she's asking for help from him, and that's pretty much what she'll say.
Varric's story priorities.
If the whole game's narrative is Varric attempting to tell the real story of Hawke's involvement with the event that eventually lead to the Mage/Templar war to Cassandra, why does he leave in details about how Hawke did so many errands that have no relevance to the conflict? I know he likes to embellish Hawke's accomplishments, but Hawke delivering someone's mail or killing spiders in some random cave don't really add much to the supposed legend. Especially considering all the events relevant to the conflict that he just glosses over in the time-skips. Cassandra seems extremely patient given that he's supposed to be giving her something she could actually use.
Its not clear what is actually something told by Varric and what is just part of the actual flashback narrative. We can safely assume that most of the inane stuff Varric either skipped, or is stuff that Varric glossed over. "During this time, Hawke spent a lot of time delivering stuff to people despite being Champion. I guess it was a habit he picked up. More importantly, we learned that...." Then again, Cassandra might have been demanding details like that; interrogators - despite what Hollywood would have you believe - tend to spend long periods of time talking with their interviewees, putting together details and asking a lot of questions, sometimes about seemingly inane things. You never know when a detail rattling around in someone's head could be vital.
As to spending time in caves killing spiders, Varric probably has a lot of practice with those parts, and wouldn't miss the opportunity to tell fish stories about "And then Hawke slew twenty—no, no, wait, THIRTY GIANT POISONOUS SPIDERS!!! Man, they were coming out of the walls, I swear! And just when we thought that was over, BOOM, A DOZEN MORE GIANT SPIDERS!!!"
There's also the possibility that Varric's telling her all these details because she kept demanding that he tell her everything - a sort of petty revenge, perhaps?
How did Fenris know Danarius was in the city?
Not really a big issue, but in the Act 1 quest where Hawke and co. first meet Fenris, he picks the pockets of one of the dead soldiers and realizes Danarius came with them and asks for back-up. Fenris can't read at this point so... how exactly did he realize this?
Wrongly. At no point in Act 1 do you actually encounter Danarius. It's likely that Fenris found something on the body, like a symbol or a note he couldn't actually read and ran with the conclusion of "Danarius is HERE RIGHT NOW," because it was the worst/best-case scenario from his position. There's no evidence of Danarius ever actually being in town in Act 1, however, and even the house you hit is later identified as belonging to someone else who works for Danarius and not to Danarius himself.
I'm pretty willing to chalk up his conclusion to paranoia (which he has in spades, especially in Act 1) but the fact that there were plenty of traps and summoned demons in the mansion certainly indicates that someone with a decent amount of magic was there. Fenris implies the mansion actually belonged to a merchant Danarius either killed or had killed, but he doesn't specify when.
It should also be noted that there are different levels of illiteracy. Fenris could be functionally illiterate, meaning that he can comprehend and even write some simple sentences but is otherwise incapable of reading or writing anything with any degree of complexity. At the very least, he can probably recognize his master's name on a note.
This just occurred to me-if in Awakening, Justice had a good chunk (if not all) of Kristoff's memories while he was possessing his body, what happened to those memories when he switched to Ander's body? Would he still have some of them? Would that mean that Anders has access to them as well to an extent?
Maybe, but Kristoff wasn't really anything special. Justice was only interested in what he saw because he was new to the physical world and only had those thoughts to gain context about it from. Kristoff had no connection to mages or templars, nor did he have any grand secrets that could hint at further developments, so I doubt that Anders would be particularly impacted by anything that came from his head.
True... but it does make me laugh at just how screwed up the inside of Ander's head must look like by now.
Why does post-Act 1 Hawke help Tallis?
I just don't get this. Hawke's set for life, especially if you do Mot A in Act 3 when Hawke's the Champion. Tallis doesn't offer you anything, so why waste your time helping some random elf infiltrate an Orlesian house party?
Fun. Quite a lot of the random quests post Act 1 have no real benefit for Hawke unless one assumes s/he simply enjoys the ride and is curious to see how things turn out. Alternatively it's because Fereldans just love getting one over on Orlesians.
Aside from those reasons, Tallis did help Hawke by taking down several of the Crows in that ambush.
That's a headscratcher of its own; why did the crows attack Hawke?
It actually depends on what you did during the prologue. A note found on one of the assassins reveals they were hired by either the family of Friedrich (the noble you killed to gain membership in the Red Iron) or Cavrill (the merchant you robbed in order to join Athenril's gang).
Aveline does chide Hawke for wasting time on random adventures instead of more constructive acts, so it does seem that Hawke accepts most of these errands for entertainment as much as anything.
We see Hawke have the dialog option more than once to express a desire to leave Kirkwall to join a companion or someone else on an adventure. He even asks Bodahn in the third act when Bodahn mentions he'll be leaving with Sandal soon and in the epilogue he ultimately leaves Kirkwall. Bodahn comments on Hawke "having a bit of the wanderlust." Aside from that, Hawke is Fereldan and the target is Orlesian, so that might just make the heist that much more fun. Plus, as rich as Hawke is, raiding an Orlesian stronghold promises to drop some fat loot.
Any reason you can think of, really. It's an optional DLC mission. If you can't conceive of a good reason for your Hawke to participate, then don't. It's as simple as that.
Templars breaking Chantry law
How do the templars get away with Tranquilizing dozens of Harrowed mages per week, something which is explicitly ILLEGAL under Chantry law? I mean, forget the whole mage vs. templar issue or even treating mages like human beings, this is a blatant violation of a law instated by the CHANTRY, the very institution that set up the Circle and the templars in the first place. It’s especially jarring with Ser Alrick, who was not only operating his plans before Meredith was driven insane, but he took his plan to the effin’ DIVINE. You'd think that he would get arrested on the spot. Even if Kirkwall is unusually barbaric when it came to the treatment of mages, one would think that the Chantry as a whole would have a problem with its branch in Kirkwall completely disregarding its rules. The Chantry doesn’t seem like an institution that would let shit fly like that.
Well, there's the problem that the one who's supposed to enforce chantry law in Kirkwall, Grand Cleric Elthina, doesn't have the guts to stand up to Meredith when she should. But where did you get that dozens of mages were made tranquil weekly? I got the impression it was one or two per week/month - whoever Alrik could lure away without arousing too much suspicion. As for why he wasn't arrested, perhaps they (Meredith and Elthina) figured he would drop the matter and continue on as usual after his request was turned down, and then when mages began getting tranquilized they began investigating but couldn't prove he was behind it (he may have been valuable in some way - like being exceptionally competent in hunting apostates, for example - so that Meredith was unwilling to persecute him without solid proof).
For the dozens per week, I am probably wrong about it. I think I remember conversations with Anders on the subjects, but he may not be the most reliable or unbiased source. Regardless the Kirkwall templars are violating Chantry law by doing it. For the record, they did have proof. Neither Alrick nor Meredith near the end were really keeping it a secret. Anders claims that he keeps seeing more Tranquil appear in the Gallows, running shops no less, and that many of them had already passed their Harrowing. Whoever was behind the Tranquilizations was flaunting it. I can understand Kirkwall turning a blind eye on it. It just bugs me that Ser Alrick brought this to the Divine and the Chantry as a whole did not investigate this. One would think that, regardless of their opinions on mages, the Chantry would enforce its own laws.
They break their own laws because Might Makes Right and there's no one around to actually prevent them from doing so. The Kirkwall chantry basically works on the honor system with Templars, trusting them to behave responsibly.
It just goes to show the flaws in the current system. Namely that the Chantry is extremely slow to act to protect the rights of anyone when their own power isn't threatened (especially when magic is involved) and that their system for regulating their Templar armies is woefully insufficient. Like a lot of religion-ruled authorities, the Chantry is far too self-assured and dogmatic to be properly objective in ruling. It took a complete rebellion of both Templars and Mages to finally force them to acknowledge these issues.
Who's going to call them on it? Most people are terrified of mages, and the rest are either apathetic or in no position to be protesting. Templars and the Chantry have a pretty strong hold over the city, and even if someone threatened to tell on them, Meredith and the others could just arrange a convenient accident. Besides, a lot of what we see from the Chantry implies that they aren't very fond of mages either.
Sorry for killing your Templars, by for now.
There are many times this comes up in the game, but none so glaringly obvious as the first quest to recruit Anders. In game, most people IN the Templars are subject to freaking out over anyone daring to look at a Templar the wrong way, much less be a mage. As mage!Hawke, you help a known apostate, as well as being an apostate yourself, go into the Templar base and slaughter a group of ten or twenty of them in the middle of the night. Then you bound off and later in the same goddamn act, directly following it if you plan your events, the Templars are asking for your help again. Their Commander even personally asks for your assistance! I could take it as 'It was the middle of the night, no one knew who killed them', but Karl even says "You we're always too predictable Anders" and then has set an ambush for him. Since he is Tranquil, this plot seems to have bee run by a few guys in setting up the plan and it had to have just been a calculated plan of attack, not an emotional reaction to a friend dropping in. You kill a hell of a lot of criminals but even Templars who are criminals are protected no matter what they do wrong, as seen by Samson, Cullen and Alrik. So even if they were all child-molestic dog murderers, they'd have to be protected to the full extent of the law. If a cop dies in the US, it doesn't matter if he verbal abused orphans for fun, he's still a cop and the state will skin you alive for killing one of their own. Why does slaughtering Templars willy-nilly have no repercussions?
I blame Varric for over-quantifying the number of people in general that Hawke killed. My rule of thumb is that Hawke probably fought 1 person for every 10 that appears onscreen.
Maybe the commander in charge of that unit was the one who authorized the ambush and didn't bother to inform anyone else? It probably looked like a routine operation to them, something to be handled by whomever found it.
You might recall that you didn't leave any witnesses of that massacre; even Karl was killed. Also, there was some indication that Alrik — the templar who organized the ambush — was acting without orders from Meredith.
Incidentally, there are a few templars who try to take the law into their own hands in Act 2 and murder Hawke if s/he killed Ser Kerras in Act 1.
The Templars don't appear to have any idea who was actually there save for Anders. No one present at the brawl with the Templars survived, so no one could report what actually happened there beyond finding a huge pile of mangled Templar corpses. And while the Templars are hunting for Anders, Anders is protected by the citizens of Kirkwall in the first act and by Hawke's status in the second and third acts (as well as Varric's bribes and Aveline deliberately turning a blind eye), and even then the Templars are still looking for him.
Stop the Mage-Templar war?
Okay, so Cassandra just heard the story of how Hawke promised Anders that all Templars would die and then spent the next seven years doing his utmost to fulfill his promise. He never returned a single mage to the Circle's custody; he supported Merrill fully in her use of blood magic; he welcomed Anders back into the group with a hug and an admonishment for not finding a way to blow up the Templars along with the Chantry. How exactly is she planning on getting Hawke to stop the war? Is she planning on delivering the Chantry's surrender?
The Divine is pretty desperate at that point. She might recognize the plan has little chance of succeeding, but there isn't anything else she can do.
We don't know what Cassandra's plan is. I mean Leliana is with her and she's hardly a rabid anti mage type. It may be she has a third option.
This is the Mage-Templar war, not the Mage-Chantry war: The Templar side is in open rebellion against the chantry: even a completely pro-mage Hawke (or a libertarian-of-the-year mage-Warden) would have their use.
Also after reading "Asunder" it becomes a bit clearer: The Divine is pro-mage. Not exactly close-down-the-Circle-and-let-them-all-free pro-mage but overall her sympathies are with them. She was trying to reform the Circle before everything went sour, the only reason it didn't work was templar resistance.
letting Cullen live?
Let's say that throughout all the years s/he lived in Kirkwall Hawke has been fanatically pro-mage. Every templar who dared lay their hands on an apostate was swiftly drained of their blood and reduced to ash. Near the end of Act III Hawke has just finished dealing with some difficult blood mages and is just about to begin finishing a plan to assassinate Meredith with the remaining saner rebels when suddenly Cullen shows up, led by a traitor and with a contingent of loyalist Templars in tow. Now this is the same guy who's spent years talking about how Templars have an inherent right to do whatever they please with mages. He's always opposed everything Hawke stands for. And now he and his squad are out in the wilderness, completely at Hawke's mercy. Seems like the perfect time to loosen the Templar grip on Kirkwall a little more right? Nope. Instead Hawke decides to let Cullen make a mass arrest (something s/he has never allowed to any Templar). What.
Could you enlighten me on what quest this is? I'm drawing a blank here.
Best Served Cold.
I can see three explanations here. First: Hawke's friend/lover/sibling is right over there, still groggy from mind control. A big knock down fight would put them at serious risk. Second, Cullen almost certainly informed Meredith before acting on his tip off, so killing him would probably spark off the mage-templar war right there. Third, while anti mage freedom Cullen does not say "Templars have an inherent right to do whatever they please with mages," he's just rather quick on the judgement for mages. The guy is probably Meredith's last stabilising influence. If he dies, Meredith will likely call the Right of Annulment the next time a mage looks at her funny.
How did Marethari know...?
... that Merrill was coming for the demon and get up there in time to do it first? It's fair to assume the Dalish have scouts who would have seen her and Hawke coming but that could have been for any number of reasons. How did she know what they were planning? Did she have someone spying on Merrill's house who overheard her intentions?
Or maybe the demon appealed to her own sense of pride and convinced her that Merrill would eventually try to release it and fail to contain it, and that Marethari would be strong enough to contain it if she released it herself, and Merrill arriving moments too late was only a coincidence.
Also the barrier to the demon's prison is broken way back in Act 2. Something to think about.
Ketojan and Hawke's 'role'
Linked to the above Headscratcher about not being able to contradict Tallis, when Ketojan says that Hawke's role wouldn't change within the Qun because s/he is similar to a Qunari already, it's a little weird how a mage Hawke can't point out 'well actually, my role in the Qun would probably leave me short a tongue and bound for the rest of my life, so actually it would change just a little bit'. Hawke never seems to want to contradict Qunari about what his or her 'role' would be in the Qun (considering it would be vastly different for rogue/warrior Hawke).
The guy's about to kill himself and if Ketojan says that then Hawke has accepted that. What would be the point?
The point is to make an argument, to point out the irrationality of the statement (since Qunari seem rather big on their logic). And, perhaps, to open his eyes just a bit - if he were able to become a party member as many people expected, you'd almost certainly have to point out a few flaws in his philosophy, considering that if it's right, he has to die, one way or another; the only way he can live is if it's wrong.
As I said Ketojan only says Hawkes role wouldn't change if Hawke has accepted that he's going to kill himself. If you've accepted someone is dying why argue?
Perhaps Ketojan has seen enough to human society to point out that, while the outward appearance is different, underneath it all, they're Not So Different. There's a fanfic out there somewhere (link?) which examines the idea of saarebas vs. Circle from the Qunari standpoint: Saarebas are bound in outward chains that do little to actually restrict their movement (seriously, look at them; they're linked to nothing and only go around his body), while Circle magi are given no physical binding yet are treated with just as much suspicion - they appear to be free, but aren't. Given that idea, a mage Hawke really wouldn't be so different after all, at least from Ketojan's view of the world. Granted, his view is likely quite skewed, but one's words are often based on one's perception rather than reality.
Ok so the templars invoke the rite of annulment, got that. Orsino begs Meredith not to, and says they'll submit to all her rules, just don't kill them all. She says no, rite of annulment, which has been established means every single mage will be purged from the circle. Orsino even says again later that Meredith can end this by calling off the rite, the mages won't fight unless she tries to murder them all. Meredith says no and the templars don't object. I don't see a problem with this. The problem is like 2 minutes after the second time Orsino makes this offer, bethany and some mages run up and say they won't fight so long as the templars agree not to kill them and the templars-.....spare them? Shouldn't the fight have ended right then and there with the other mages going "we don't want to die, we want to surrender like we tried twice already". The only reason this fight was happening was because Meredith invoked the rite that said she would be murdering every single one of them, once that obviously wasn't going to happen..why did the fight not stop? Or why didn't the templars just say to Bethany "we've told you people twice already it doesn't matter if you surrender, we're going to kill you"
Meredith was the one who rejected the surrender. The other templars were willing to accept one, but only get the courage to do so if Hakwe is allied with them and speaks on their behalf. As for why the other mages keep fighting: 1) some are pissed off about the injustice of it all (including those who lost friends to templars hours ago), 2) some see this as their one chance to escape Meredith and the Circle that's become ridiculously oppressive recently, 3) some actually are blood mages who have nothing to lose, 4) they have no reason to trust the templars after this massacre, and 5) mages who surrender during the Rite are to be made Tranquil according to Chantry law.
Basically, the mages have no incentive to stop resisting and Meredith has no desire to stop killing them.
^ This. Even though Bethany and her group's surrender was accepted, that doesn't mean the Templars aren't going to go back to them after the battle is over and go, "Okay, now that we have time to deal with you, it's Annulment time." The Rite of Annulment pretty firmly establishes that no mage gets to live. The entire Circle must be purged, and there's no reason to assume Meredith will not stick firm to that, especially in the state she's in. The red lyrium idol is compelling her to butcher every last living mage because, as Orsino very correctly accuses, she sees blood magic everywhere she looks. Furthermore, a sizable chunk of mages in the Circle are blood mages, given that every mage in Kirkwall seems to be a blood mage, so they have even less reason to turn themselves over to the Templars when they are actually guilty of the crime Meredith wants them put to death for, and slipping in with the innocent mages in Anders' revolution is their only hope of avoiding punishment for their actual crimes.
That said, the generic mage NPCs you actually see during the battle are almost all innocent mages. There was one abomination cornered in Lowtown, and Orsino, but other than that, the mages were likely within the confines of the law, for the most part. Moreover, Meredith wasn't really interested in prosecuting blood mages, or else she would have taken Orsino's offer of surrender more seriously. Her rationale was that because Elthina had been killed by a mage, the people would want blood, and she would satisfy the witch hunt by appealing to exactly that base instinct. It's exactly as insane as it sounds.
Of course her rationale is insane. Meredith was batshit-paranoid as a result of red lyrium exposure and was using that as a convenient excuse to cut a bloody swatch through the Circle Tower, because she suspected that every mage in Kirkwall was a blood mage (and, in fairness, wasn't too far off). The only reason she hasn't already declared genocide against the Circle Tower prior to this is the Grand Cleric. She's effectively been a restraining bolt on Meredith, up until Anders killed her. As for Orsino's offer of surrender, again, she's completely batshit paranoid at this point. She doesn't want Orsino to surrender, because to her fractured mental state, surrender just gives the mages an opportunity to connive some new evil plot and destroy Kirkwall with it. She wants to purge the entire Circle in a bloodbath.
One possible reason why the average templar might be willing to accept surrenders, despite orders, is because the knight-commander doesn't have the right to annul the Circle in the first place. A knight-commander can only request the Rite of Annulment, and the nearest Grand Cleric must first approve of it. Granted, the nearest Grand Cleric just got blown up by a mage, but the fact remains that Meredith's actions are still illegal. If Hawke tags along with the templars and openly accepts surrenders in spite of Meredith's proclamation, the more level-headed templars gain the courage to defy her more openly (which further contributes to her insanity).
Why is Blood Magic a Moral Event Horizon?
Because from what I understand, Blood Magic not only makes its user immune to demonic possession, but also doesn't require drawing energy from the Fade, instead fueling its use from the user. Not to mention it doesn't change the personality of the user any, because Merrill is... well, Merrill. Why exactly is it that all Blood Mages are exterminated on sight by the Chantry?
Well, I don't remember any mention of Blood Magic making the user immune to possession, but it's banned mostly because of how powerful it is. While the game doesn't really draw attention to it, the ability to control peoples minds and the ability to drain peoples lives for more power means that a single mage could theoretically do things like take over entire countries or wipe out armies. The Tevinter Imperium was able to conquer the entire continent through its use of Blood Magic, and when the Chantry came into being, its slogan of "magic should be used to serve man, not rule over him" meant that Blood Magic was considered inherently evil because you draw on a persons life to power it.
It doesn't make the user immune to possession. It makes the user more susceptible, in fact, because the only way to learn blood magic is by making a pact with a demon.
Except it's not the only way. If you bring Anders along in a party with Merrill, in party banter he presents a possibility by which Merrill could've learned Blood Magic, in the hopes that she wasn't stupid enough to contact a demon for it. "So, when you first did Blood Magic, it was just an accident right? You cut yourself and realized the power... you didn't actually deal with a demon?" She did deal with a demon, but that's not the point; Anders says, basically, it's entirely possible to use and learn it without actually having a demon teach it to you. But With Great Power Comes Great Insanity makes total sense. A mage crazy/evil enough to sacrifice other people for power is very possible in a place like Thedas. In fact, we've watched it happen before.
There's some discrepancies on this point. Aside from Anders' comment, Asunder suggests that any mage can figure out the most basic application of blood magic — the use of blood for power. But the more complicated stuff — mind control, summoning demons, etc. can only be learned from another maleficar or a demon.
Jowan in Origins also learns blood magic without any contact with demons, apparently by reading books he found in the Circle Tower (why they keep books with knowledge of blood magic in the tower, and within reach of apprentices no less, is anyone's guess). Maybe the knowledge originated from demons, but there's nothing keeping it from spreading without their influence after that.
There's an erroneous belief in the fandom that mages can only be possessed when they use magic. As blood magic is tied to the physical, it can be used freely without any risk of possession (if you don't mind casting from HP). This is incorrect. Any mage at any time can be possessed by demons, in a moment of weakness or by consent. Casting spells does not open mages up to demons; they are susceptible to possession solely due to the fact they are mages.
There is nothing to say that Blood Magic cannot be used for good. After all you can play a Hawke who is a Blood Mage and be the sweetest loveliest guy/girl you ever did see. However Blood Magic is a power that allows mind control and using other's life as power for yourself. You don't have to use those aspects of Blood Magic if you're a Blood Mage but they will always be possible, always a temptation. As such while a Blood Mage can be a good guy it's easy to see why most people assume they are not.
Nitpick: the player character is not an acceptable example of the behavior of people in-universe, because the player character is everything. The player character CAN be a perfect shining example of a Blood Mage who is good to everyone, but a similar case could be made that because the player character CAN be a non-Blood Mage who still murders people just for the lulz, it proves that even non-Blood Mages are wholly evil creatures. Nothing the Player Character can or cannot do proves anything about the rest of the world, because the Player Character's every behavior is at the whim of the player. That being said, however, there is a fair non-PC example of a non-psychopathic Blood Mage: Merrill, who genuinely is the sweetest, loveliest girl you ever did see; she's a bit dim-witted, but she doesn't misuse her Blood Magic, and she has the best intentions at heart. She's also a pawn in a demon's game of thrones who would have wound up possessed and beheaded if not for outside intervention, so take that as you will.
There's no reason not to use the PC as an example. The question is "Can a Blood Mage be a good person?" Since the PC is capable of being both a Blood Mage and a good person they act as proof. Sure it's at the whim of the player but if being a Blood Mage just means you are evil then it wouldn't be. Although it is indeed true that Merrill is also a fine example. As in Jowan from the previous game. Sure the moron made all the wrong decisions but his intentions were pure and none of his wrong decisions are directly related to his Blood Magic.
You can put it down to a slippery slope as well as being slightly addictive. You start off using it for good and only on yourself but between demons in the fade (so in my mind teasing voices while you sleep and little nudges to your mind) as well as how useful it is you decide if you push a little more to do this one little thing and it goes ok so you push a little harder etc. Suddenly you're more than likely influencing other people with magic for what you see as the right reasons while most likely at some level enjoying your influence over them with fade aspects pushing your personality to be slightly more extreme. Certainly Orsino seems to have not so much jumped headlong into it as much as fallen slowly.
"There's no reason not to use the PC as an example." Uh, there is every reason not to use the PC as an example. The actions of a mage PC are shaped by the game engine, not the actual in-universe laws of this fictional world. There is no chance of a mage PC being possessed by a demon, and a mage PC does not experience any of the addictive side-effects that blood magic seems to have. It's just not the same thing. As for Merrill and Jowan, the only thing they exemplify is how truly insidious blood magic really is. Merrill was seduced by a powerful demon that tried to possess her, and ended up having to kill her own mentor (and possibly her entire clan) as a result. Jowan's blood magic attracted a desire demon that possessed Arl Eamon's son and nearly wiped out the entire town of Redcliffe. Their "pure intentions" were precisely what blinded them to the danger of what they were doing.
Correction; the demon that attacks Redcliffe was summoned by Conner, not Jowan. Jowan's only contribution to that incident was poisoning Arl Eamon, something that had nothing to do with him being a Blood Mage or indeed a mage. As for the "the PC is not bound by the in-universe rules" argument, doesn't hold water. The PC may be unusual but they are still in-universe. Indeed,really the setting only exists as a backdrop to their adventures. If you can play a character who is a Blood Mage and a good person, which you can, then it is possible.
eh, while i agree that blood magic has a very high potential for danger, i disagree with merrill being successfully "seduced" by the pride demon. whether or not you agree with her "understanding what's going on", the game makes it pretty clear that you could have avoided the death if only the keeper didn't decide to "save" merrill (after all, your party can straight up kill it). I think, in the end, the blood magic thing is more of a stigma originating from the tevinter imperium's magister lords than anything else. After all, they probably did some pretty horrible things to subjects to fuel more "ambitious" projects.
Merrill was absolutely successfully seduced by the demon. If Hawke hadn't been there to help her out and convince her to turn away from the path of blood magic she would have eventually been possessed and become a Pride Abomination. And I don't think the game makes that clear at all. If anything it seems to say exactly the opposite, that the Keeper's sacrifice was exactly what saved Merrill from being possessed. It trapped the demon in a form that could be easily killed. Without her there, Merrill would have been possessed instead. Best case scenario, Hawke and co. have to murder her. Worst case scenario, Abomination!Merrill escapes the cave and goes on a devastating rampage across Thedas. All because Merrill thought her "pure intentions" would keep her safe.
Which is why Merrill brought Hawke and co. along. She is a good person and willing to sacrifice herself for her people but she brought along a group she knows can and has handled tougher demons than this so if it does go wrong they can stop it hurting anyone but her. She didn't realise that there might be others who value her life more than their own but she never once failed morally. A Blood Mage but still a good person.
Blood magic is not evil in and of itself. It's extremely dangerous and replies of harming the mage or others to fuel it, but in and of itself, blood magic isn't evil. However, the Chantry defines it as evil based on their orthodoxy, and everyone follows suit because of the prevalence of the Chantry's moral system.
Because it's usually used by nefarious lunatics that could give Hitler a run for his money. Also, it never goes well.
Not true; all player characters can learn Blood Magic and still be perfectly swell people. Even the Chantry (via the "World of Thedas" companion book) acknowledges that there have been instances where blood magic has been used for perfectly selfless and just actions, it just carries to steep a price to be used wildly (because in the instance quoted it still required the death of the caster to save another's life).
Plus there are instances in which Blood Magic is the only way, witness the Grey Wardens Joining and the binding of Corypheaus. Oh, and the Chantry uses a low grade version of Blood Magic all the time; the Phylacteries.
There's the possibility that Blood Magic being inherently evil was Chantry propaganda. In truth, Blood Magic is very dangerous, and most mages (even the Dalish ones), just don't know enough about it to do it properly.
Exactly. Using Blood Magic is not a switch that instantly turns you evil, it's just that certain things it can do, such as draining another's life or mind control, are terrible temptations that might eventually corrupt even the most well intentioned types. An (obvious massively toned down) comparison might be owning a gun. Having a gun is not going to force you to shoot someone. But if you ever find yourself wanting to shoot someone (without self-defense or such being involved), well, the gun is right there. Most people with guns won't end up shooting someone but someone without a gun simply can't. Similarly without the oppression involved I'd imagine most Blood Mages wouldn't drain the life out of people to fuel spells or mind control people for their own power but they'll always have the option to do so.
Why can't you become the Viscount without Templar support?
Why can't you become the Viscount without Templar support? You have the Guard Captain on your side who has made a point of making her group a counterpoint to templar oppression, you can have a mage underground, a noble underground, your own wealth and influence as the Champion, Circle support, King Alistair's support, tons of good will from citizens for all the favors you've done, even a smattering of underworld contacts to grease the wheels. Sure no one of these groups is enough on their own to oppose the Templars but surely united under the Champion, Meredith would have no choice but to accept the Champion as Viscount. Grand Cleric Elthina would not let Meredith act in revolt against the new Viscount and if she does she would be curbstomped facing the aforementioned factions and likely many defectors within her own camp. This is a huge plot oversight.
Or alternately, just become Viscount with the aforementioned backing without taking any anti-Templar stance. Let the Templars divide themselves in reaction to you and let Meredith be crushed in a battle on fronts from without and within.
The answer to both of these is because Anders set off a bomb in the Chantry that sparked a war. I also think you sorely overestimate just about all of the resouces you listed as being under Hawke's control. Most of the groups listed would see a rebellion against the Templars as, "Yeah, you go do that, I'll sit back here and watch your suicidal plan fail." The only oversight I see here is not taking into consideration that before the bomb went off, Elthina was strictly neutral and Meredith was actively prohibiting the appointment of a new Viscount, and afterwards, it was war.
As Seneschal Bran points out, for better or worse, the templars are now the ultimate power in Kirkwall as they represent security within the city. Other candidates put themselves forward for the position of viscount and Meredith re-buffed them all. As well-liked as Hawke may be, s/he cannot take the throne without the templars' support.
Also, by opposing the templars at the end game, Hawke has become a wanted fugitive. If s/he hung around in Kirkwall, the templars would hunt Hawke down.
The Doylist explanation is that they needed an incentive for players to support the Templars. There's no reason that Hawke couldn't hold Kirkwall, seeing as the Templars within the city have only a fraction of their antebellum strength, and a siege on the city would involve consolidating all the Templar armies into a grand host, which is complicated by A.) The Divine being moderately pro-mage; B.) All the Circles rebelling and C.) Orlais being in the middle of a civil war. It was probable that Hawke's knee-jerk instinct was to run, when if he had decided to take his chances and stay, he could have held the city.
There are problems with that logic. A) Hawke has never met the Divine and wouldn't know of her stance, so he/she couldn't count on the Chantry not going on another Exalted March against Kirkwall. B) The novel Asunder takes place a year after the big finale of DAII and at that point no other circles have rebelled. Varrik's conversation with Cassandra takes place three years after the events of the game (according to the "World of Thedas Vol. 1" that that puts Act III of the game at 9:37 with the events of Asunder and Cassandra's interrogation of Varric at 9:40), when everything truly has gone straight to hell. C) See B. At that exact point the civil war hadn't happened yet, and Hawke would have no knowledge of the situation in Orlais. From a Pro-Mage Hawke's perspective they just openly declared war on the entire Templar order, they need to get the hell out of dodge before the Templars amass their own armies (as well as volunteer hordes of faithful Andrastians) and descended upon the city (and we know that in the Pro-Mage ending the Templars do retake Kirkwall, just too late to catch Hawke and any of the party).
Where are all the Avaraad in Demands of the Qun?
We all know Qunari hate mages and don't trust them further than an elven vidathari could throw one. They sew their mouths shut and keep them in chains and assign a non-mage to "hold back the evil" in case they get possessed (which is likely, since they're untrained). They kill them immediately if they get separated from their handler, as well as killing anyone who came in contact with them, just because of the possibility of corruption. But during Demands of the Qun, you mow through a hundred or so Qunari, including several Saarebas...but absolutely no Avaraad are in sight! So where are they? I'd imagine if an Avaraad went Tal-Vashoth, his karatam would be slaughtered due to their leader deserting (after all, if mages are so evil, one of them must have tempted him to leave, right?). I can't see them just turning Saarebas loose on the city and coming back later to collect them; that'd be too much time spent unsupervised for a mage. There are plenty of Ashaad, though, so did the programmers just happen to mix up the two units?
They're likely the same thing. Avaraad are specialist roles. In tactical combat, an Avaraad likely has other tactical duties beyond caretaking Sarebaas. More likely than not, the Stens and Ashaad and other Qunari foot troops are Avaraad, or the Avaraad handlers were kille din battle before you arrived and the Sarebaas are "loose" (which likely means just following the orders of other Qunari until the conflict is over and they can be put down.)
Tranquility and "Night Terrors" in Act 2
Possibly I missed something because I've never been able to bring myself to kill Feynriel in 'Night Terrors', but: Marethari mentions that killing Feynriel in the Fade will make him Tranquil. Anders is protected by Justice and if mage!Hawke dies the game boots up an old save, fine, makes sense. But you can fight and kill Merrill—a fellow mage—during her temptation scene, and she just gets kicked out of the Fade and is no worse for wear. Is Feynriel a special case?
Yes he is.
On account of being a somniari as opposed to a run-of-the-mill mage? I'll take it.
Not necessarily. It could simply be the result of being in Feynriel's dream, so to speak. They're in his mind, battling a demon that's possessing him. If any of the intruders die, they're simply booted back out of Feynriel's realm, but Feynriel is the processor. Kill him and you break the system. The system, in this case, being Feynriel's mind.
Why is Elthina well liked?
I cannot puzzle out why, in-universe or out, Grand Cleric Elthina is popular. Sure she's nice enough as a person but in her role actual role she is the embodiment of moral cowardice. The Qunari issue, hate preachers amongst her people, she does nothing. Told to her face that someone in her employ is misusing her authority, she does nothing. It takes someone being murdered in her house to snap her out of it and even then all she does is not help the bad guy. It's even worse with Act 3. Whatever one might think of the mages a blind man could see that Meredith is going nuts and massively overstepping her authority. Elthina could put an end to that in a moment. She is the authority to which Meredith answers. She could just say "Step down, let a new Vicount be installed and if you don't calm down on the mages there's going to be trouble so cool off or Cullen gets a sudden promotion." There, problem solved (Of course Meredith is Lyrium Idol crazy so that might not work but Elthina doesn't know that). What does she do? Oh yeah, nothing. She lets people suffer and die when she could easily and probably totally safely help, all the while praising the glories of neutrality. So why in the hell do people like her?
Probably because she's one of the very few authority figures in the game that isn't a complete lunatic. She also proves to be the only thing keeping Meredith on a leash in this game. Given how crazy everybody else is come Act III, she's a breath of fresh air.
I like Elthina, and I found her story to be very sad: she's a good woman, compassionate and caring, and I don't think she really wants to be political—she wants to be devoted to the Maker. But every single major player in Dragon Age 2—Petrice, Meredith, Orsino, Anders—is trying to escalate things into all-out war, in a very black-and-white, us-versus-them way, and both sides of the mage/templar conflict have good arguments, and she's being thrust into the role of mediator in a fight where people can (and do) blow up buildings and commit religious terrorism. And Hawke may be good at taking third options, but she's not. And she dies for it. Could she have done more? Absolutely, and Hawke can call her out on this. But she's in a really tough position for the entire game, one that she doesn't entirely want or deserve.
Oh I don't deny she's a virtuous human being, I just think she utterly failed in her job.
So what's the problem? People like her because she's a good woman trying her best to not become a political tool in a city full of extremists who is one of the very few stabilizing elements in this whole conflict. She's a priest, not a politician. She's supposed to be neutral. She probably could have done something to reign Meredith in, but the threat of blood mages and demons are very real and growing worse. It's a bad situation all around, so having one authority figure able to pacify the two lawful factions in this mess is one of the best things you could ask for.
Except she's not pacifying them. She's letting them both do what they want, treating them like children who will eventually get tired and calm down. If she was trying to calm them and failed I wouldn't have an issue but she's doing nothing.
Elthina is Stupid Good played extremely sympathetically. She might think that her actions will bring a compromise and a moderated peace, but her actions actually bring stagnation. She is an agent of the status quo, trying to keep things as they are, despite the fact that the Templars have become fascists and the Mages are becoming violent radicals because they lack political options, as she puts all her faith in the Maker. The Maker didn't save her, and the Maker didn't save the Chantry she died in. Meredith's actions and reasoning are so monstrous that even her attempts to halt the confrontation are suspect: by stonewalling the mages, she's basically condemning them to continue living under Meredith's lash. Both sides might have good points, but they are not on equal ground, so simply saying Both Sides Have a Point and telling them both to shut up is always going to end badly.
She might be well likes because of her passivity. An authority figure who's not taking a stand is a blank canvas for projection. If she did pick a side all hel would break loose for her, but in stalling she could both keep the conflict away from herself and gain sympathy from those who were tired of it.
In-universe she's popular for lots of reasons. Most importantly because she's a central figure in the Chantry, so of course devout Andrastians (which seems to be more or less the majority of humans on Thedas) are basically guaranteed to view her positively. The same way devout Roman Catholics really like the Pope, even though lots of other people don't. Apart from that, she's also the kind of person that just naturally comes across as likable. She's moral, wise, and has a very grandmotherly air about her without descending into "mean old lady" territory. As for out-of-universe reasons, I didn't intend to do this but when I sat down to think about it I found I had quite a lot to say on the subject. Be warned, this will be quite long. Part 1 To start with, I would strongly question the claim that Elthina is well-liked by players. Maybe it's just the forums I go to, but in my experience the reaction among players ranges from neutral ("she meant well but she could have done more to help") to, well, the opinion of the OP ("she is the embodiment of moral cowardice"). Very few fans I've ever talked to have a strongly positive opinion of Elthina, and I don't think I've met anyone who would give her unambiguous praise. Though to be fair, I don't think she deserves unambiguous praise either. No matter how you feel about her, it can't be denied that she failed to resolve the Kirkwall situation, and her death was a direct result of that failure. But is it fair to imply that her failure was the result of negligence? Or cowardice? I don't believe so.
The debate surrounding Grand Cleric Elthina reminds me very much of the real-world debate surrounding Pope Pius XII, whose papacy coincided with the Second World War. In fact the similarities are so great that I have to believe it was intentional. Like Elthina, Pius has been criticized for not taking a strong(er) stand against a great evil, in his case Nazi Germany. And the accusations leveled at both of them are nearly identical. They say Pius was weak, that he was a moral coward, and that his inaction allowed countless people to suffer needlessly. "If only the Pope had done something," they say, "then things wouldn't have turned out so bad." However, for whatever reason, there are a few things that these critics tend to ignore:
Firstly, the fact that Pius and Elthina are both people with their own unique perspectives and opinions. For instance, based on impartial historical research done on Pope Pius XII it's clear he was a man who believed very strongly that the best way to end a war was through negotiation and diplomacy, rather than one side crushing the other. After all, plenty of historians have argued that the complete crushing of the Germans in WW1 and the humiliating Treaty of Versailles laid a huge portion of the ground work for the next war. Even once the war was in full swing Pius remained fully convinced that the best possible solution was to hammer out a peace treaty both sides could live with, and that as a trained diplomat and a respected international figure he had a moral responsibility to try to broker that peace himself (and for the record, he did try quite a few times to make it happen). But in order for this plan to have any chance of success, in his opinion, it was crucial for both sides to view him as a political neutral. If at any time he made a decisive statement explicitly supporting one side or the other, whichever side he chose not to support would see him as biased and would reject any peaceful solution he might try to offer. (He is also reported to have said, privately, that a public protest from him would only have emboldened the Nazis and "submitted the poor Jew to an even worse fate.") I don't cite this to claim Pius was right, but to show that Pius saw things through the lens of his own perspective. You can say he was wrong in the end, but you can't say he had no good reason for acting (or not acting) as he did.
Obviously it's harder to analyze Elthina's thought processes since we don't have nearly as much insight into her character and history as we do about Pius. But what little we do know of her suggests she had a very similar mindset. She clearly favors a more "hands-off" approach in her administration of the Chantry, preferring to diffuse open conflicts when they flare up but otherwise trusting her flock to behave themselves. In her own words, "The Chantry is not a domineering father with the whip always in hand. She is a gentle mother, who knows that her children learn best when allowed to learn themselves." While she could have been more proactive (though it's still unclear to me how much direct involvement a Grand Cleric typically has in the management of the Circle and the Templars) she may have feared dire consequences if she strongly supported one faction or the other. If she sided with the Templars then this may have alienated the entire Circle of Magi, making them even more likely to lash out and/or resort to Blood Magic. Or if she sided with the Circle then the Templars may have declared an open rebellion right then and there, perhaps even forcibly deposed her under the logic that no Grand Cleric would say such things unless she were corrupted by Blood Magic, replacing her with someone more "agreeable" like Sister Petrice. And don't even try to claim that Meredith would never do such a thing. Either she's crazy or she's not. If she is, then this is a realistic possibility. Part 2 Going back to Pope Pius XII; ironically, it seems that in hindsight had Pius actually succeeded in ending the war with a negotiated peace things arguably would have been worse. Germany probably would have ended up keeping much of the territory it seized during its expansion, the post-war denazification of Europe would never have happened, and the Holocaust probably would have gone on much longer. But that brings me to the next point that critics tend to ignore: Hindsight is 20/20. It's easy to accuse Pius of moral cowardice for not loudly condemning atrocities like the Holocaust. But what's not so easy is this question: What did Pius know about the Holocaust and when did he know it? Even after all these years historians are still unsure exactly how much was known about the Holocaust before the whole thing blew wide open. While it was known years before the war started that the Jews were suffering brutal persecution and dying in large numbers, the true horrifying scope of the Final Solution wasn't widely known until later. Pius can hardly be accused of aiding and abetting a war crime that he may not have even known was occurring. Much the same can be said of Elthina. It's not at all clear from the game exactly how aware the Grand Cleric was of Meredith's violations of Chantry law or her growing paranoia. Obviously we can't trust Meredith to tell Elthina the complete unvarnished truth. So how was she to learn of it? From Hawke? Not exactly an unimpeachable source. We're talking about someone who is the son/daughter of an escaped apostate, possibly has a sibling who is an apostate (or may even be an apostate), and has two close friends who are notorious apostates (not to mention, one of them is an Abomination and the other is a Blood Mage). From where Elthina is standing Hawke has every reason in the world to lie to her. So when you really get down to it it's entirely possible, maybe even probable that Grand Cleric Elthina, through no fault of her own, honestly did not realize how bad things had become.
One last factor that seems very similar both for Pope Pius XII and Grand Cleric Elthina: These negative reactions often say more about the critic than the subject of the criticism. People who really disapprove of Pius' conduct during WW2 like to talk about what Pius "should" have done. He "should" have condemned the Nazis more strongly. He "should" have gotten more involved. He "should" have taken a side. Of course, these are usually the same people who will turn around and tell the Pope (the current one, obviously) to keep his trap shut on subjects like abortion, contraception, gay marriage, or whatever other thing they support that the Catholic Church does not. They want the Pope to take a bold stand, but only when he says or does things that they agree with. Now let me be perfectly clear, there is no hypocrisy at all in saying that you agree with the Church on some things but not on some other things. There is no law that says you must agree with absolutely everything that comes out of the mouth of any particular authority figure. But when you say that an authority figure must take bold stances on important moral issues, then turn around and condemn that authority for taking a bold stance you don't agree with, you have revealed the lie of your argument. You don't want them to take bold stances and strongly champion their beliefs, you want them to agree with you. You want them to champion your beliefs, and no one else's. For Elthina it's much the same. People say her refusal to take a side or get more involved was what allowed the Mage/Templar conflict to escalate out of control. But that's not exactly what they mean. People who say this don't wish Elthina had chosen a side, they wish she had chosen their side. Which for most players means siding with the Mages. If Elthina had chosen to side with the Templars then most of those same people who say "she's a coward; she should have spoken out" would instead be saying "she's a tyrant; she should have stayed silent". But again, they don't quite mean it exactly how they said it. No matter what Elthina did or didn't do, players would only be satisfied if she chose the course of action they personally agreed with.
Interestingly, this illustrates the biggest difference between Pope Pius XII and Grand Cleric Elthina. Whereas Pius was faced with a scenario that was extremely black and white (the Axis was clearly evil and wrong while the Allies were obviously right and good) Elthina's choice was much more grey. Meredith's insanity aside, there are plenty of very good reasons why a reasonable person might choose to side with the Templars and against the Mages. One need only look at the obscene number of Blood Mages and Abominations that keep popping up in Kirkwall, despite the Templars' best efforts to contain them. Maybe there's something unusual about Kirkwall that's causing this, or maybe not. But whatever the case, it can't be denied that the problem was only getting worse. Even the mages who had allied with Ser Thrask in a plot to overthrow Meredith betrayed him at the drop of a hat and murdered him with Blood Magic. Good gravy, even the First Enchanter himself is a Blood Mage, and he was aiding and abetting Crazy McCrazypants Quentin in his Necromancy research (surely there will never be any question whether that kind of magic is inherently evil, right?). Now you might say that while the Abominations are definitely a problem that doesn't mean every Mage should be considered a threat. And there's nothing inherently evil about Blood Magic. It's all in how you choose to use it, right? Yeah, right. Go ask Fenris sometime about how non-evil Blood Magic is and how Mages totally won't abuse their power if all restrictions are removed from them. [[Sarcasm Mode I'm sure he'd agree completely. Part 3 Now obviously none of this means that Meredith was right all along or that purging the entire Circle after Anders' little terrorist attack was justified. What it does mean is that if you put yourself in Elthina's shoes, account for the limited information she has access to as well as the misinformation she is undoubtedly receiving from Meredith, and remember to look at the whole situation through the lens of her personal perspective on how things ought to be, the question of who she should or should not side with or whether she should even take a side at all becomes extremely complicated. It's easy for the player to say what she should or should not have done, because we know how everything turns out. She doesn't. You can say she failed to prevent a disaster, and you'd be right. You can say things would have gone better if she had done X instead of Y, and again you would (probably) be right. But the one thing you cannot do is accuse her of not caring, not giving her best effort, or not having good reasons for doing what she did.
I suppose in the end all of this is a credit to the Dragon Age II writing team. That they've managed to provoke such a spirited debate over a fictional character that so closely mirrors a complex real-life debate, even among players who may not even be aware of the historical parallels, says a lot.
(OP here for reference) First, thank you for your well thought out and articulate response. I always like decent debate. However I'd like to contest a few points. First, the comparision with Pius, while apt, is not entirely fair. Pius had no direct authority over the Nazis or any other government. All he could do was publicly condem this or that action. Ethina is actually Meredith's superior (a point that was made in Origins, speaking with Alistair reveals the Templars in an area answer to that area's Grand Cleric). She has the authority to tell Meredith and Orsino what to do. Second, while Ethina may not be aware of Meredith's increasing mistreatment of the mages she is well aware, indeed she couldn't be unaware, that Meredith is holding illegal control over the secular authority of Kirkwall and that this is causing increasing unrest amoung the populace, yet still does nothing. Also Orsino is apparantly giving public speeches about how his people are being mistreated so she can't be completely clueless. Even if Orsino were overdoing it, where there's smoke there's fire and a good authority figure really should investigate serious claims made against those working for them. Finally I take issue with the idea that I only want to her to take a stand on my side of the issue. Obviously I would have prefered she support the mages to some extent (I hardly expected her to disolve the Circle but holding Meredith back from atrocity would have been nice) but even if she had come down on the Templar's side I would have respected her far more. As a figure of great respect amoung the populace, as you noted, even amoung the mages, such an act might have quietened rebellion, certainly more than doing nothing would. Or it might have done nothing. But it would at least indicate an attempt to actually take up the responsbilties she is supposed to embody. I wouldn't agree with her decision in such a case but I would respect her integrity, as I do with Cullen, someone on the other side of the debate from me but one who seems rational (unlike Meredith) and is actually trying to improve the situation (unlike Elthina).
"Ethina is actually Meredith's superior" Only on paper. Elthina's ability to actually control Meredith became more uncertain as she became more and more unstable. Whether Meredith would have actually listened if Elthina actively opposed her is an open question. And don't forget that Elthina herself has to answer to a higher authority, and we're given no indication that Val Royeaux disapproves of Meredith's actions. Her hands may simply have been tied. "Also Orsino is apparantly giving public speeches about how his people are being mistreated" Not true. He gave one speech where he alleges some outlandish Templar conspiracy to rule Kirkwall with an iron fist. Elthina has little reason to give any credibility to this accusation. And remember that at that point in the game, the biggest Templar crimes were committed by people other than Meredith. Ser Alrik and Sister Patrice were both rogue agents pursuing their own unsanctioned agendas without the knowledge or permission of their superiors, and when they were found out they were both put down. Apart from that, the worst the Templars ever did was things like keeping the mages locked up for longer than they should and denying them access to their staffs and spellbooks. And given the massive Blood Mage problem in Kirkwall, they could easily justify that as a necessary security measure. Templars are, after all, experts on the subject of safely controlling mages, and Elthina is not. "[E]ven if she had come down on the Templar's side I would have respected her far more." Would you? Did you respect Meredith and Alrik for their unflinching commitment to their radical anti-mage beliefs? Because those are the people that Elthina would be supporting if she sided with the Templars.
Sure, Meredith might ignore Elthina if she told her to stand down but that's hardly a point in Ethina's favour. Saying you didn't try to rein in someone under your command because they might not listen is not a valid excuse. That's an argument as to why Ethina intervening might not have worked, not as to why she shouldn't do it. As for Val Royeaux, we have evidence of the Divine opinions on such matters from other sources and there is no way in hell she'd support Meredith's actions so orders from above are unlikely. On evidence, Osino's speech does not seem to be an isolated incident, based on others reactions to it and even if it was the fact that Meredith has in effect declared herself dictator of Kirkwall is no secret. Even if Elthina doesn't believe the abuses heaped on the mages, that issue will definately be known to her, so the idea she's unaware of a problem still doesn't hold water. And yes, I would respect her more. I already said I respect Cullen more than her even though he's on the other side from me. Apart from anything else one can pick a side without condoning the actions of everyone on that side. I support the mages side of the issue, doesn't mean I have to like or agree with Grace.
"Saying you didn't try to rein in someone under your command because they might not listen is not a valid excuse." It is if you're afraid opposing them will provoke them into openly rebelling against you, which could easily have happened if Elthina had acted differently. If something is very unlikely to work, and there's a good chance it might make things worse if you try, that seems like a pretty good reason not to do it at all. And I didn't say Elthina is unaware of the allegations of mage abuse. Certainly not with Anders stuffing his Manifestos in every bookshelf he can reach. I'm saying she's probably unaware of any evidence that confirms the allegations. This admittedly is probably the fault of the Chantry hierarchy overall. Elthina obviously doesn't get out much and must rely on the information passed to her by her aides, and many of those aides (maybe even all of them) may have strong anti-mage feelings and so would have every reason to conceal or discredit any information that backed up complaints from Orsino or others. The Chantry system is definitely broken and corrupt. I don't dispute that. I just dispute the amount of blame that Elthina personally receives.
If Elthina truely believed that Meredith had gone so far that she'd disobey a direct order and that a significant number of Templars would follow her lead then she should have asked the Seekers to sort the situation out. So she's incompetant either way. That is one of their main duties. And as I keep saying, even if Elthina doesn't believe in the abuse of mages she most certainly knows that Meredith is illegally holding power over the city.
Warden!Sibling/Avaline during Best Served Cold
Caver/Bethany's kidnapping during this quest makes no sense if they Grey Wardens. First of all: the Warden Keep is in another city. Hawke visits two secret meetings and is then informed by Karen that his/her sibling was kidnapped. By the way Karen tells you about this we can presume the deed was done some time ago. It couldn't be more than a day to two between both meetings, yet conspirators somehow managed to formulate a plan, go to another city, kidnap your sibling and drag them to Kirkwall. Secondly, don't Wardens have any sort of security in their Keep? Can anyone just walk in? Best Served Cold can happen after player did Legacy DLC which means the Keep was already attacked once, because of your sibling. You think they would be more careful after this incident. Avaline is already in Krikwall so she is more "available" she can be also the Guard-Captain by this point. Doesn't anyone of her co-workers or her own husband realize she is missing? If they do why they are not looking for her? Either way kidnapping any of these three people (Carver, Bethany, Avaline) is rather stupid move. Thrask would not only have Hawke on his tail, but also the City Guard/Grey Wardens.
Problem is it's the City Guard we are talking about here. It was shown a few times that guards have a schedule, which can be easily checked. Donnic or any other of her co-workers could easily check if she was having a patrol or not. It's highly unlickely that her patrols would be missing from this schedule, since she is head of the City Guard and they have to know where to find her is something goes wrong and her help is needed. I don't believe Aveline wouldn't inform someone when she was going out with Hawke too. She is too responsible for that. So they couldn't simply assume she was running around with the Champion. It's also implied she was missing from a few hours to a whole day. It would be strange if her husband, who lives with her, didn't realize something is wrong.
Mages: Gameplay and Story Segregation
As any templar will tell you, Mages are dangerous. They can use blood magic, bind demons, become abominations, and occasionally summons shades and undead to attack you. But the game doesn't really support the idea that homocidal mages are that much more dangerous than all the other homocidal maniacs in the city. This was an issue in DA 1 as well - due partly to competitive balancing, an partly to the sheer diversity of kinds of enemies you could fight, there's not much to really prove that a random mage is more of a threat than a warrior or a rogue. Sure, the mage has blood magic, but no one questions the warrior's right to swing around a hammer bigger than he is or a rogue's right to carry his own weight in poisons, grenades, and trick arrows. There's just so much violence committed by everyone on everyone else using all kinds of tools, after a while it starts to sound a little unreasonable to say that mages in particular are really threatening. For every crazy exceptional mage, like Quentin or Uldred, there are also crazy exceptional 'mundanes' like Meredith or Marjolaine.
One assumes spells like Earthquake, Tempest, Blizard, and Inferno do more property damage than the ingame engine will allow. Then you bring in things like virulent walking bomb...it's unpleasant. The main issue, however, is that if a warrior or a rogue goes on a rampage, they're completely responsible for their own actions and can be brought to justice accordingly. A mage can be possessed at any time given a slight slip in judgement or alertness, and a pride or desire abomination can do considerably more damage than a rogue or a warrior. It's best to be preemptive about that.
True, one does not need to be a mage to be a dangerous lunatic. But the damage a single mundane person and a single mage can do is on entirely different scales. Let's compare Quentin to, say, Ser Alrik: while they're both monsters, Ser Alrik needs the support of his fellow templars to be any kind of threat to Hawke, and ultimately he's just a minor villain that's quickly disposed of. Quentin on his own is able to command a small army of demons, operates without impunity for years and deals an immense blow to Hawke personally. Meredith poses an immense danger to Hawke and to Kirkwall, but that's only because of the lyrium idol, an immensely ancient and powerful artifact that was only acquired under a specific set of circumstances. Orsino is able to use the blood of a few dead mages to transform into an undead monster that's nearly as dangerous as Meredith, and he could have done this at any time.
The hypocrisy of Qun
So the Qunari believe that their way is the only correct way to live, that any other cultures live in debauchery and suffering unless brought to the Qun. Yet all of them somehow completely miss that simple fact that one of their greatest enemies, indeed, the most dangerous due to being familiar with the Qun, is the Tal-Vashoth movement. It's not an external enemy, it's the direct result of the Qun itself, without it there wouldn't be any Tal-Vashoth. Why do they still insist on the Qun being the superior ideology if theirs is clearly not perfect too? Why don't they stay in their homeland and imrove their society first, so that it wouldn't give birth to more Tal-Vashoth, instead of coming to Thedas to conquer it and re-educate anyone there to the Qun?
Tal-Vashoth are those who have broken from the Qun. True, it's their society's fault for not giving them any useful skills other than combat, which is why they turn to banditry, but in the context of a fascist and fundamentalist pseudo-Hive Mind, it's pretty obvious they just think "They broke from the Qun and became evil, that proves us even more right."
Hypocrisy is the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform. While you could argue that the strictness and oppressiveness of the Qun was indirectly responsible for creating the Tal-Vashoth, the fact that the Tal-Vashoth exist does not in itself prove the Qunari are hypocritical. I say "in itself" because there are other legit examples of Qunari hypocrisy you could point to. For instance, the Qunari claim to hate lies of any kind and the Arishok will call Hawke out for even the tiniest white lie. And yet for nearly 2/3 of the game the Arishok keeps telling the Viscount and Hawke that he and his men are simply waiting for a rescue ship to take them home, when the truth is no ship is coming at all. They're actually in Kirkwall to find the book that Isabella stole from them and they can't leave until they find it. That was a lie no matter how you slice it. Apparently lying is okay when he does it.
Except the Qunari aren't lying by their definition, they are telling the truth. They're just big believers of Exact Words. The Arishok is waiting for a rescue ship, he just isn't telling you that the ship won't come until he finds the book. Nothing about that is untrue, they are waiting for a ship and that ship will take them home, you just never asked if there was any conditions for the ship to arrive. And at one point during Act II he outright tells you why they're still around if you press him on the subject, so it's simply a matter of nobody asking the Qunari the right questions.
They're hiding the truth. Their intent is to deceive. That's the fundamental definition of lying. And they can't pull the Exact Words excuse either. The Arishok specifically told the Viscount that they were simply waiting for a rescue ship, then later the Arishok reveals to Hawke that no ship is coming. The Arishok knowingly said something that is false. That's called lying.
Their intent is not clear, because the Qunari do not think the same way we think. All of the Qunari responses are short, using as few words as possible and being exact in their execution. From a Qunari perspective they are 100% truthful; they were asked why they haven't left yet, and their response was that they were waiting for their rescue ship to arrive. Nobody asked if the ship was waiting for anything. You're mistaking not being forthcoming with information that isn't being requested with proof that they're lying, whilst operating under the assumption that the Qunari's thought process are exactly identical to our culture's. You're also ignoring the context of his statement that he's there because of duty.
Hawke: It's been a long time. Arishok: It will take as long as needed. No ship is coming. There is no rescue from duty to the Qun. I am stuck here.
So again, no lie on his part; the Qunari are bound by their duty to remain until the rescue ship comes for them, but that ship will come once they are done their duty and at that point the will leave (which is why the Arishok tries to take over Kirkwall, because he is not allowed to leave by any other method but that ship, and that ship won't arrive until after he has the book back). They are waiting for the ship to come, nothing about that statement says that the ship is currently coming. There is no falsehood there, simply the Kirkwall leadership not understanding how the Qunari fundamentally think. Plus we only hear the Viscount relating what he was told, and we know for certain that the Arishok never respected the man and the most common word exchanged between them was "begone." We have no clue as to the actual question the Viscount asked (which again could have been "When are you leaving Kirkwall?" with the response being "When the ship to take us arrives." Which isn't a lie at all since the Arishok will only leave when that ship arrives. If it never comes, he never leaves, hence why his only way out of the city is as a corpse).
Does Anders Stay Dead When You Kill Him?
Or, rather, the Anders/Justice amalgamation that Anders is at the end of Dragon Age II, supposing you killed him after the Chantry incident. Justice was found in a corpse, and as such is shown to be capable of possessing dead people. Does killing Anders without destroying his body truly stop Justice, or is Justice just inside a potentially animate-able corpse?
Makes it easy as pie for Bioware to bring him back for Inquisition, if needed, so I doubt it.
Even if it didn't, we've seen Bioware's Dragon Age team has no qualms about ignoring your kills in service of the story.
Even though a grand total of three characters who can die have come back, one of them (Anders) who only dies off screen in a manner that no other characters witness, one of them (Zeveran) who only comes back to life because of a bug, and one of them (Liliena) who comes back because the DA team pulled a Not Quite Dead.
Isabela and the Qun
If you decide to give Isabela over the Qunari should she return with the Tome of Koslun, Isabela and pretty much half the party acts as if you personally betrayed her, and I honestly just wonder why. In Isabela's case, I suppose she thought her one good deed of the year excused her from starting an entire war, but that's to be expected because she's the one being punished and she is very selfish. Granted, I am not a fan of forced conversion, and being in the Qun would suck, but I am also a big believer that one should be punished for their crimes, and all of the other options have her essentially get off scot-free. I'm just wondering why giving Isabela to the Arishok is treated as Kick the Dog.
Because there's a rather big difference between "punishing someone for their crimes" and "handing someone over for a dose of torture followed by Mind Rape as punishment for theft." The punishment is massively disproportionate to the crime, whatever the result of the crime might have been. Especially since this isn't just some random person, this is a friend and teammate. Sure she lied to Hawke but she also risked her life on many, many occasions over three years for Hawke and just now returned to a situation fairly likely to get her killed after she got away just because she was worried about him/her. In such a situation handing her over to the Qunari is a betrayal. Punishing her might not be but that's tricky anyway, since stealing the Tome wasn't breaking any laws of Kirkwall; she stole a Qunari item from Orleasians. As for why the party objects, many of them really like her (Varric, Merrill, Fenris) or disapprove of the Qunari way of doing things in general (Anders, Aveline, Sebastian) so of course they're going to object.
Theft? It was not just theft. Let's talk about what she did. She was a pirate who had a hand in stealing the Tome of Koslun from the Qunari, lied to Hawke for years about it and dodged the Qunari and questions about the "relic" until the very moment before she got it back. She knew the Arishok had near-godlike powers of knowing what was going on in the city, she knew he was growing very tired of being there and was on the edge of rampage. And when the Tome finally popped up, there were Qunari sitting in the entrance and inside the building itself where it was being held. There was no way in hell she wouldn't have realized the Arishok knew exactly where it was. And in spite of all that, she still took off with it, dooming Kirkwall to an assault that killed of innocent people and guards, and damn near killed Hawke and Aveline (remember that the Arishok tried to eliminate Hawke before anyone else). She had every inclination of what the Arishok would do, and she still did it. She has literally hundreds of innocent lives on her head, and regardless of whether she and my Hawke were friends, she needed to answer for those crimes. Now, she didn't break any Kirkwall laws, but if you break laws in Russia and harm Russian people, if and when you are extradited for it you answer to Russian laws. Which is basically what happens if you toss her to the Qunari - They drag her to Par Vollen and she answers to the Qun. Their punishment is extremely horrible, yes, but Hawke didn't know that, and doesn't know until Fenris spells it out for him/her during party banter in Act III. Which occurs three years later. And Fenris doesn't say what'll happen to Isabela if he's in the party while you're in front of the Arishok. And Isabela returning the Tome doesn't make up for the hundreds of lives on her head. So no, it's not a betrayal. She put her own life ahead of the lives of hundreds of innocent people, and as a result, hundreds of people died for it. And if you don't let the Qunari handle it, she becomes a Karma Houdini. Hell no. She had to pay for that.
It is just theft. It's theft with very serious consequences but the actual crime is theft. If you steal something from someone and they commit suicide over losing it that's tragic but you are not now guilty of theft and murder. Lying to Hawke is A Bad Thing but it's not an actual crime. As for extradition, the Qunari have no extradition treaty with any country in Thedas. They're effectively in an armed truce with all of them. Plus the theft was from Orleasians, not the Qunari. She never stole anything from the Qunari themselves so even if they did have such treaties it wouldn't apply. The real world paralel would be suggesting that stealing a mummy from the British Museam should get you extradited to Egypt. She also is hardly soley responsible for the resulting loss of life, that lets the Arishok off. Y'know, the guy who actually orders his men to kill those people. The guy who you let go free if you give him Isabela, making him the Karma Houdini. In a choice between punishing a minor criminal who proked a war criminal and punishing the war criminal himself I know which one I'd pick. Hawke may not know the specifics of what the Qunari would do but he knows the Qunari; it is going to be horrible. Sure, Isabela behaved selfishly to save her own life but most human beings would. It's called survival instinct; much as we might like to think otherwise few of us would willing die to save others. If you're in the position to make the decision that means she's overcome that and is willing putting herself in a likely fatal position (on several levels) to save others. It doesn't redeem her right then and there but it means she's on the path to redemption and responded to that with "too late, go be tortured" is hardly moral. Also while Isabela is a selfish criminal she's hardly the only one in the group with innocent blood on her hands. Fenris killed the Fog Warriors who'd looked after him remember and Hawke is unlikely to get to the end of Act 2 without a few unlawful deaths in his past. It's a morally murky game set in a morally murky world, this kind of absolutist approach to crime and punishment doesn't really fit.
Okay incoming wall of text, so I'm sectioning it off in numbers. Bear with me here. 1) Actually, the Qunari do have a treaty with the lands of Thedas. Sten and Alistair even discuss it in party banter in DA 1. It's why they're not attacking them at the moment. Whether or not it includes extradition is not discussed, but that's not the point - she stole a priceless relic of the Qunari, knew they wanted it back, and instead of just *giving* it to them she led them on a goose chase that ended with the deaths of hundreds. Legally she may not be responsible (and that's arguable), but morally that's exactly what happened, and that's makes her culpable. 2) Regardless of who the theft was from, she knew the Qunari had to come find it. She knew it was a Qunari relic of massive importance. She acquired it in Orlais, but there was no question of who she stole it from. 3) I'd feel a lot better about her "survival instinct" if she wasn't knowingly dooming hundreds of innocent people to death and warfare because of it, which is precisely what she knew she was doing. She could've gotten the the tome, got it to H Awke, they went to the Arishok, and once Hawke was told that the Tome of Koslun AND Isabela would have to be taken, he could've fought the Arishok then. But, instead, she caused a war. Hence my problem. 4) The comparisons to Hawke and Fenris don't really apply; almost every death if not every death Hawke is responsible for was either in self-defense or defending someone else (and you can choose how that goes down), and pretty much all of those people are horrible (except maybe Thrask, but then you don't have to kill him). And Fenris was an escaped slave suffering from More Than Mind Control and hadn't thrown off the slave mentality when he killed the Fog Warriors. Theirs is excusable, Isabela's is pure cowardice. 5) Why does that occur if you let the Arishok have Isabela? I was cool with killing him for what he did - he certainly earned it - but if you give him Isabela, Hawke lets him walk. And I don't understand that. I'd really like to know the rationale behind that one, because I don't get it.
But, basically, this is ultimately a YMMV conversation. I think she crossed the Moral Event Horizon, you don't. I think giving her to the Qunari is okay (minus the fact that the Arishok walks for his part in the slaughter. And that's a very big minus. I wanted to kill him.), you think it's Kick the Dog. I'm not certain that divide is reconcilable.
Ok, I'm going to dispute the points, beacuse I'm enjoying the debate, but beforehand I'm going to say that I agree that it is YMMV situation and I bare you no ill will for merely holding a different opinion regarding a fictional dilemma. So 1)I agree that she has a moral responsibility but I don't think that handing her over to the Qunari is a fair punishment for what she did. 2)Actually no. Her story makes it fairly clear that, while she knew it was a Qunari relic when she stole it, she had no idea how important it was to them. She was just given the order "Steal this relic before it's sold to the Qunari." She could be lying about that of course but given that even when she's 'fessing up she's still puzzled as to why the Qunari care so much I'm inclined to believe her. 3) The thing here is that she's not just at risk from the Qunari. If it was only the Arishok after her I think by that point an Isabela high enough on relationship values to decide to come back later would be willing to go with Hawke and trust him to protect her if the Arishok demanded to take her. However if she did that she'd still be being hunted by the people who hired her, so her life would still be in constant deadly danger. Which is what happens if you spare her; only Hawke's later help sorts that. So again, few people are really willing to actually die for others. 4)Yes, Fenris and Hawke have excuses but they still did it. Fenris might have been badly mentaly beaten down but he was still a free willed individual. He could have said no, he didn't. Isabela is facing her death. That may be cowardice but it is a cowardice most of us would suffer from. If I knew hundreds would die and I could save them by dying myself I'm aware the moral choice is to die but I can't honestly say with any certainty that I could actually do that. 5) Well, the real reason is of course "Because that's how it's written" but in universe it's more of a philisophical issue with the Qunari. After all they seem incapable of iniative with the Arishok; with him dead they can't take any action but retreat, including taking Isabela. Just a WMG really but it fits.
Oh and to clarify, I don't think handing over Isabela is a Kick the Dog. A Kick the Dog is an act of evil done without reason. There are perfectly understandable reasons for doing this, I just disagree with them. If I was going to use a trope it would be closer to Disproportionate Retribution.
a) Isabela is responsible for the Qunari being in Kirkwall in the first place. She's not responsible for the Arishok losing it and deciding to have everybody in Kirkwall killed. You can blame Sister Petrice for a big chunk of it, but you know what? If Sten can learn to get along with non-Qunari people, so can the Arishok. Yes, she could have gotten the Qunari out of the city earlier, but as she points out to Hawke, she doesn't have the relic to give back and by the time she does, the war's already kicking off because of the two elven converts. Isabela didn't start the war and cost all those lives—the Arishok did.
b) Why does everyone assume Isabela gets off scot-free if you don't hand her over? Aveline very clearly wants to have some words with her, and Aveline is the Captain of the City Guard. It's "maybe face some jail time or community service, or a fine, or all three" versus "get tortured, mind-raped, and brainwashed, and God knows what else". If you want to use the extradition argument, look up extraordinary rendition and see how awesome that is.
One point me and a friend thought of, simply due to order of events as I played them, is bringing up the Arishoks refusal to turn over those elves for crimes they committed against Kirkwall, not to mention the act of assassinating a fairly high ranking person who was already under arrest for crimes because "the Qun looks after their own". It just reeks of hypocrisy for the Arishok to make these demands but not even try to answer why HIS rules somehow excuse the exact same actions he wants to call out Hawke for. Of course, the answer is that he's basically a Supremacist, but I think making him answer those contradictions and more explicitly expose his view point would have helped.
Blue And Orange Morality of the Qun
Just a bit of clarification on their moral structure, but I'm not sure why the Qunari are so difficult for people to understand. Either I'm wrong about their tenets, or they're just collectivists with horns.
That's where they start, sure, but they go to strange places with it. While most collectivists would state that the individual's needs are subordinate to the needs of society few would go so far as to refer to each other only by job titles and believe that the individual does not exist outside that role. And almost none would think of a tool as their soul. While more relatable than an Eldritch Abomination, The Fair Folk or similar types that normally gain the Blue and Orange Morality label their morality is wierd enough to count.
Why are Cullen, Bodhan,etc... in Kirkwall ?
So, I know the meta reason was to give some fanservice but is it ever explained in the game why are Bodhan and Cullen in Kirkwall ?
For Merril's clan it could make sense, since Dalish tend to move a lot but even then they stay around Kirkwall for seven years! And that's not counting the fact that, if you played a dalish and took a certain option at the end of Origins, the dalish could very well have their own land now.
Comments from King Alistair suggests the Dalish land is still very much a tricky experiment. And the Sabrae clan is sticking around because Marethari won't give up on Merrill.
You mean she don't want to give up on someone she cast out of/quitted the clan because of her blood magic ? That same someone who made a deal with a demon to repair a killer mirror ? God, is anyone except Aveline, Varric and the Hawkes sane in Kirkwall ?
For Bodhan he is a travelling merchant but, from what I can remeber of the first game, he told us he stayed in Ferelden. Plus, in Wtch Hunt (wich take place 2 years after awakenning) Sandal is at the Tower at Lake Calenhad. The same can be asked about Isabella and Anders (who's supposely on the run from the grey wardens).
Bodahn can decide to roam father afield and he can also take a trip back. After all Witch Hunt takes place during one of 2's time skips. Isabela and Anders are on the run so a big sprawling city makes perfect sense.
Isabela was shipwrecked near Kirkwall just like the Qunari. She could leave, sure, but she also knows that the book in somewhere in or around Kirkwall and that book is the only way to get Castetion off her back. As for Anders having max friendship with the Warden the Warden is no longer in command at Amarathine. As the epilogue to Awakening states he/she left shortly after the defeat of the Mother. The reason is different depending on your Warden but he/she always leaves. So Anders clearly didn't get on with his/her replacement nearly as well. Cullen is easy; as he explains if you ask him he was transfered shortly after the end of Origins. Which makes sense; You're Knight-Commander Gregoir, you like an amicable balance between mages and Templars. But you've got Cullen hanging around, still massively distrustful following the Uldred thing. Why not send him to Meredith, a Knight-Commander he knows will appreciate that attitude, and spare you the issue? I'll grant that it's rather coincidental at best that Hawke and the Warden happen to meet so many of the same people but hey, it's ficton. And the individual reasons for their presences there do make sense.
Yes, because it's way better risking being caught by an army from wich you have stolen their original version of the Koran than hiding from a crime lord. As for Cullen, you mean that, instead of trying to calm him, Gregoir send Cullen to a city where he'll become more crazy? Is this a world of idiots or just some people ?
It's not Gregoir's job to treat the mental health of his subordinates, just to keep the peace of his Circle. And it's pretty clear that Isabela is more worried that Castetion will find her than the Qunari and, given that he does find her and they don't, she was clearly right. Numbers don't make you a better tracker.
Since Cullen is one of Gregoir subbordinates, it's mental health, particulary if it make him more abusive towards mages is his responsability as it prevent him from doing his job properly. As for Isabela, the better question would be how, The Arishok having near godlike power of knowing what happend in the city, the Qunari didn't catch her beofre. But yes, the truth is, Castillon find her, the Qunari don't.
Well, it's not like Cullen is frothing at the mouth and screaming about how all mages must die. He's just a little too hardline to fit in with the Fereldan Circle anymore. By Kirkwall standards he's actualy vaguely moderate, as noted by the fact that he apparantly refuses to stay with the Templars when the war starts (since he's with the PC in Inquistion). As for why the Arishok didn't find our 'Bela I'd say 1: She's actively hiding from him whereas other things he finds out about aren't, 2: He's got good scouts but no contact at all with Kirkwall's underground nor any real way to make such contacts, whereas Castillon has plenty of underworld contacts and 3: He actualy misses rather a lot, everything Patrice does for a start.
Except that Cullen was frothing at the mouth and screaming about how all mages must die. First when you meet him in the second-to-last floor of the tower of Magi and when you bring Irving back. When Gregoir say that he's glad to see the First Enchanter back Cullen say something like "but he's a blood mage! Every mage is or will be, we must Kill Them All." Wich is a fitting attitude for endgame!Meredith but not before. He was tortured horribly but that meant he should be treated as a victim and healed, not just promoted somewhere else.
That was what Cullen was like less than half an hour after being tortured. That's not what one would call a fair appraisal of his state later. It makes more sense to judge him by his behaviour in 2, in which he's hardline but not insanely so. Which makes him a good fit for the Kirkwall Circle but not the Fereldan Circle. Plus remember this is a medieval society, not a modern one, they don't have our sensitivity to mental trauma. As a side point another, rather critical point occurred with regards to Isabela; she stole the book from the Orleasians and only encountered the Qunari ship to ship. Chances are they don't even know what she looks like or even her name.
But an Origins' epilogue says "The young templar Cullen never quite recovered from his ordeal. After months of attempting to convince his superiors that the tower was still a danger, he finally snapped and killed three apprentices before being stopped by his fellow templars. Eventually, Cullen escaped from prison, a madman and a threat to any mage he encountered.". I think that count as frothing at the mouth and screaming about how all mages must die.
That is one possibility and only one. I never saw that option myself. Plus Word of God is that a number of the epilogues were more what might happen rather than hard fact. After all, epilogues from Awakening regarding Anders are all wrong.
The sad but invitable result of an unexpected sequel. If they knew they were gonna make 2 I suspect they wouldn't have put in the epilogues.
I would say it's rather the desire to put the maximum of fan-favorites even if it contradict their fate and that, had Cullen and Isabella not been so popular, they would have sticked to their epilogue. As for Bodhan and Flemeth it's, in my opinion, a blatant try to bring Hawke to the level of the Warden, but it's not the place to talk about it.
Bethany and Merrill don't get along?
When you talk with Merrill about Bethany, and ask about why she's interested in how Bethany is doing, Hawke says "I thought you and Bethany didn't get along. Why are you worrying over her?" The closest thing to hostility seemed to be Bethany's concern over Merrill's blood magic, and Bethany, being who she is, kept it to herself for the most part, in contrast to Anders ("Your blood magic is dangerous but my spirit of Vengeance isn't") and Fenris ("You'd fit right in among the people who kept me as a slave"), so does it really seem accurate for Hawke to say that they were on bad terms, or Merrill to not contest this?
It could be that Bethany agree with all the others companions about Merril's Blood magic and tend to avoid her without being downright hostile.
Why was Isabela more afraid of Castillon than the Qunari?
Isabela is willing to cross the Qunari to stop Castillon from hunting her down and killing her. But, when you meet the man, he and his cronies are just like the dozens of other raiders, pirates, bandits, and other human thugs you and your party (including Isabela) tear through every other day in Kirkwall. Isabela was willing to make enemies of the Qunari, whom are not only amazing soldiers but also horned giants, and if your friendship/rivalry was high enough, march right up to their leader when the going got tough, but throughout the game she refers to Castillon like the boogie-man. He doesn't have access to mages, his men are not impressive, either in gameplay or in the narrative, and he himself is nothing special, especially when compared to all the enemies Isabela doesn't bat an eyelash at (darkspawn, dragons, giant spiders, undead, mages, Templars, Qunari, etc). So why is she so terrified by him?
I imagine that she considers the Qunari to be a more distant and obvious threat. She doesn't appear to be all that familiar with what they could really do to her and assumes that so long as she stays away from their territory and any horned giants, she'd be fine. Castillion, on the other hand, is a slaver with a large area of influence. If she crosses him, she'd have to watch her back for the rest of her life, never knowing who could be one of his flunkies. Given their similar livelihoods, she'd be far more likely to come into contact than him than any Qunari ship. I guess she assumes that she can run away from Qunari and other threats, but she can't run from Castillion forever.