Nightmare Fuel: Dragon Age: Inquisition

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  • As if the Red Templars weren't already terrifying in the power they wield, the Behemoth bears the remains of a templar's armor. Any templar who ingests Red Lyrium is in danger of becoming one of them. And judging by Meredith's fate, it is doubtful they can survive long even then.
    • The screenshots of Emprise Du Lion show a tower that has Red Lyrium growing out of it. It's not just in the deepest reaches of the Deep Roads anymore, it's on the surface and it's spreading.
    • As mentioned below, Red Lyrium is lyrium tainted by the Blight. The Red Templars are essentially ghouls/darkspawn.
    • The stuff will eventually consume you. One guy opened up the corpse of a Red Templar and saw the crystals absorbing the blood remaining in the corpse, then growing a little further. He immediately had the corpse destroyed. Apparently the Red Templars mine the bodies of their fallen to get more red lyrium - when they don't kidnap random people to feed it.
    • After claiming the keep in Emprise du Lion, two NPCs who are studying the Red Lyrium in the courtyard talk about how even the moles and earthworms can be changed. So the ecosystem is in grave danger.
    • The keep in Emprise du Lion also has Red Lyrium giants.
  • And how are the Templars getting their lyrium fix when they've cut ties with the Chantry? The Carta is fully willing to provide, especially after they stumble across a massive supply of Red Lyrium in the Hinterlands. The ones calling the shots there aren't in prolonged contact with the lyrium either, so every case that turns out like Bartrand is chalked up as someone trying to make money on the side.
  • The Breach, the cataclysmic event that tore the Veil asunder occurs during Peace Summit between the various factions in Thedas. As a result, thousands of the people who were at ground-zero were reduced to char-grilled husks, their barbequed remains still frozen either in mid-scream, running or cowering from the devastation. And the Inquisitor is the Sole Survivor of this event.
  • What has been shown of the new demons indicates that they're pretty creepy, with their weird teeth and mummy-like complexions. The Fear and Terror demons certainly live up to their names.
  • In the Bad Future showcased when recruiting the mages, Leliana looks like an old woman after only a year. There's a reason for this - in his efforts to fight the darkspawn taint plaguing his son, Alexius had been taking living tissue samples from subjects, particularly those that showed high resistance to it. Leliana was the most promising one.
    • The fact that the other two companions have obviously been infected by Red Lyrium, and are losing their grip on sanity. Poor Fiona has a massive deposit of the stuff growing out of her and into the walls of her cell, pinning her in place.
  • The Oculara that you use to search for the shards are made of the skulls of Tranquil mages. They have to be killed by decapitation at the exact moment that a demon is forced to possess them - and the Venatori worked this out through trial and error. There are whole shelves of skulls representing their failures...
  • 'The Enemy of Thedas' trailer is a dark, most sinister twist of the previous trailers. Before, it was continuous glorification of the Inquisition and their cause to save the world, but here it's all turned on its head; The Inquisitor and allies are all struggling and being beaten up by the various enemy factions, especially the demons, showing just how completely out-powered and outnumbered we are in this war, and our likely antagonist, the Elder One, whoever of whatever it may be, is the real one who controls the battle, not us.
  • According to the developers, there's a Downer Ending where you flat out lose. The Elder One wins, everything dies. Try sleeping well at night, knowing that all your efforts could be for nothing.
    • Though, to take away some of the sting, this ending is only possible if you're actively trying to Earn Your Bad Ending. Don't do a single side quest, and alienate every single one of your companions. That'll do it.
      • The strategy guide implies that you can also achieve the bad ending by getting thrown out of the ball at Halamshiral, which happens if your approval drops to zero.
  • In Dragon Age Keep, any character that dies is represented by a broken skeleton imposed over their silhouette, including family members and love interests of previous Player Characters.
  • In the Emerald Graves, there's the Chateau d'Onterre, along with a tragic, nightmarish backstory that puts Bartrand's estate to shame. There is no music, just a persistent, hollow background noise. Some areas of the manor are awash with sunlight through the windows, while others are pitch-dark save for the occasional candles and fireplaces lighting themselves as you approach. Walking corpses shamble quietly through the rooms, turning up in parts of the house you thought you'd cleared or creeping up on you if you remain in one place.
    Cole: It knows we're here.
    • For anyone who didn't quite piece together the truth: the nobles who owned the Chateau had a little girl who turned out to be a mage. Rather than send her to the Circle, they essentially hid her in the house, not letting her attend any functions or be seen by anyone outside the family and trusted servants - much to her growing agitation. Her frustration attracted the attention of a demon who "befriended" her and, through the use of a magic artifact, helped her have a "party" of her own... one at which all the guests danced themselves to death, including the child's parents. The demon then told the child they could play a new game, which turned out to be possession. The little girl became the Arcane Horror which must be defeated at the conclusion of the house exploration.
  • Dorian's father tried to alter his son's sexuality through a blood magic mind control ritual. The possibility of turning his son into a drooling vegetable instead was deemed an acceptable risk.
  • As noted above, red Lyrium is infected with the Blight. Yeah, the darkspawn can corrupt the very basis of magic, too... including that time when they didn't exist in the Primeval Thaig.
    • Also, because of that spoilered fact, this means that lyrium is alive, as minerals aren't susceptible to the Blight. That this was discovered after at least a thousand years In-Universe is worrisome.
  • Cole is almost always serene and gentle, in line with his unearthly origins. But... he is infuriated when he finally tracks down the Templar who condemned the original Cole, a mage at the Val Royeaux Spire, to a maddening agony of a death by leaving the mage in an oubliette-like cell to starve. All of the companions demonstrate OOC Is Serious Business at some point, but Cole being so obviously on the edge of an Unstoppable Rage is likely the most frightening.
    • Considering what Solas has said regarding how spirits can be twisted into demons when turned from their original purpose, this situation seems even more dire. Cole is a spirit of Compassion, not revenge or rage. There's a reason Cole is adamant that he be killed if he falls back into old habits.
  • The demon of Envy, which serves as the boss at the end of "Champions of the Just." In addition to looking like something that crawled straight out of Silent Hill, it can flawlessly assume the appearance and mannerisms of ANYONE. It does this by invading the minds of its victims and observing their reactions to nightmares that it creates. It then uses these observations as reference material for masquerading as the victim.
  • If prompted for his thoughts on what would happen if the Qunari conquered Thedas, the Iron Bull dispassionately speculates on the fates of most of your companions - while Cassandra and Cullen might do okay if they didn't die fighting (likely), all three of the mages would wind up dead or worse, Cole would be killed for being a demon, and Sera and Varric would end up mindless laborers after mouthing off too much - horrifying thoughts for anyone who's come to like and care for their companions.
    • His comments to a Qunari Inquisitor imply that they would be rendered mindless by the use of qamek.
    Iron Bull: Strong minds like yours ... they'd have given you a poison called qamek. You'd have been a polite, happy labourer for the rest of your life. And you'd have a handler to help you eat and make sure you didn't crap your pants.
    • Remember what Sten said to the Warden in Origins if you complete his personal quest? "I will not look for you on the battlefield." Completing this quest puts Sten on the path that will lead him the position of Arishok: the Qunari triumvir in charge of their military is convinced that the invasion of Thedas is unavoidable and will happen during his lifetime, even if he admits that it will break his heart. Bull's speculation may not remain conjectural for very long.
  • If you choose to take in the power and knowledge of the Vir'Abelasan, you get to hear the whispering echoes, or memories, or something, of all the servants of the mother-goddess of justice, Mythal, who gave themselves unto the Well. It's not comforting.
    • Mythal is FLEMETH. So, whoever drinks from the well permanently becomes Flemeth's slave. Either you or Morrigan has to do it - there is no option to just walk away.
  • The Reveal in Cassandra's personal quest that Seekers, including Cassandra, are made Tranquil without their knowledge during their training, before having the Rite of Tranquility reversed, is outright horrifying. The means of undoing Tranquility is also rather unnerving: It's done by communing with Spirits of Faith. There's a very fine line between spirits and demons, and while communing isn't the same thing as outright possession, it's still a little too close to it for comfort.
  • Party banter between Blackwall and Cole has the spirit give a rather creepy rhyme. It completely freaks Blackwall out.
    Cole: Mockingbird, mockingbird, quiet and still. What can you see from the top of the hill? Can you see up? Can you see down?
    Blackwall: Wait.
    Cole: Can you see the dead things all about town?
    Blackwall: How do you know that song?
    Cole: It just came to me. Everyone says everyone knows it. The children knew it.
    • You have to put the pieces together yourself to get exactly what this means. Cole is repeating a song that children were singing, specifically the children that were in the carriage that Thom Rainier, before he 'became' Blackwall, attacked. That panic in Blackwall's voice, when Cole says that rhyme, is because he realizes that Cole knows everything.
  • Appropriately enough, the Nightmare demon in the Fade. It takes the form of a giant demonic spider for the Inquisitor and Hawke and is quite terrifying to behold.
  • Blackwall's personal quest is as much a study in Personal Horror as it is a Tear Jerker. To recount: he was an Orlesian captain, Thom Rainier, who took money to assassinate a powerful nobleman, and ordered his soldiers to carry out the operation, claiming that the target was a legitimate target. But instead of catching the nobleman alone, they attacked him in a carriage with his family: the nobleman, his wife, their four children, and their retainers were all murdered. Rainier's men took the fall for him, but before he was sentenced he was taken by the real Blackwall, who invoked the Right of Conscription to make him a Grey Warden. He abandoned his men. When the true Blackwall was slain before Rainier could be go through the Joining, Rainier "couldn't let a good man die", so he assumed the Warden's identity. When you finally confront him about this, Thom "Blackwall" Rainier radiates nothing but despair and self-hatred.
  • It's strongly implied that the "plague" that wiped out the village in the Fallow Mire was actually the work of a well-meaning would-be herbalist who mistakenly believed that deathroot could be used to treat fevers.
    • As part of working your way through that region, you come across a codex entry which says that when one family, the Gardeners, fell ill, their neighbors' response was to seal them inside their home so they would die out and not infect anyone else. Later, you come across what is most likely their old house, as it still has heavy items barricading the door.
  • In Crestwood, once you seal the Rift in the lake, you discover that the Mayor ordered Old Crestwood flooded because refugees contracted the taint and were spreading it through the town. Companions can acknowledge that they get the cold logic of his actions, but everyone admits it'd be a pretty horrible way to die.
  • In Emprise du Lion, you meet an elderly woman in a devastated village who admits that your enemies are there because she sold a quarry to them. Why did she sell it? Because the war had resulted in lower demand for stone and she could no longer feed the town, and these people led her to believe that they could get the quarry back up and running and get the town back on its feet. Turns out, they were less interested in rock than they were in Red Lyrium and they started using the blood of townsfolk to help grow the Red Lyrium faster. And when they ran out of miners, they went to the town to claim more.... and went up to the former owner to ask for recommendations. At that point, she offered up the names of the sick and elderly in exchange for supplies that she passed around to the living.
  • Here's one in hindsight - Cassandra says she was trying to find the Warden and make them the Inquisitor, as Divine Justinia requested. Corypheus can control Wardens. Therefore, if she had found the Warden, they could have fallen under Corypheus' control. Cassandra would have accidentally screwed over the Warden - and the rest of the entire world. Enjoy thinking about how close that came to passing, especially if Leliana knew where the Warden was and had decided to tell her.
    • It also indirectly gives an insight into Justinia's politics, and it's not a pretty one. Depending on the player's choices, the Warden may be a merciless warlord who unrepentantly dabbles in blood magic, consorts with tainted Magisters, mentored Anders, and has a "cut heads first, negotiate later" approach to diplomacy. In fact, even if the Warden is an honorable and diplomatic person, by the end of Awakening they prove themselves to be both capable and willing to ruthlessly impose their will on others to reach their goals. Nonetheless, the Divine's first contingency plan, should the Conclave fail, was to take such a person and make him/her even more powerful and influential than s/he already was. That way, they could bully into submission both zealot Templars and extremist mages... "Appeaser". Yeah, right. Justinia was vicious; no wonder Vivienne admired her so much. And if that's not enough proof, look at her second choice: Hawke, the very person who is blamed for starting the whole rebellion in the first place and is a bogeyman to one side of the war.
  • Cassandra talks to Cole about what happened to the original Cole.
    Cassandra: What the templars did to you, to the real Cole... I knew the treatment was harsh, but...
    Human!Cole: There were beatings, worse than beatings. "If you tell anyone, I'll say you used blood magic."
    Spirit!Cole: Yes. Beatings, worse. "Do you remember telling me no? You can't do that now. The Tranquil don't say no to anything."
    Cassandra: Maker's breath!
    Cole: Not all, but enough. The good templars were too afraid to stop the others.
    • Bear in mind that, prior to forming the Inquisition, Cassandra's job was to investigate abuses in the Circle - and she had no idea how awful things were, there or at Kirkwall.
    • The worst part is that Cole has never been to any Circles besides the White Spire. As much as supporters of the Circle System, like Vivienne, try to write Kirkwall off as a particularly extreme case, the things that happened there were not unique to it.
    • It becomes even worse in hindsight if you used a Mage Warden: The Circle feels like a prison during the origin segment; but as the game progresses, we learn that Greagoir actually kept his templars on a short leash and that for all his antagonistic relationship with Irving, he deferred to the First Enchanter in many affairs. He called for the Rite of Annulment only because he was convinced that all the innocent mages had already been killed, happily cancels this order if Irving is brought back alive to him, and allowed mages to travel freely so long as they first asked for permission through the proper channels. Based on what we know now, the oppressive Kinloch Hold may actually have been the most liberal and mage-friendly Circle in southern Thedas.
      • In fact, a codex entry found in the game confirms that Kinloch Hold was considered excessively liberal and tolerant of its resident mages.
      • It's likely that the circle in Montsimmard was also quite liberal and not such a terrible place to live. Vivienne's experience of life in a Circle was clearly far more positive and comfortable than many other mages we've encountered in the series.
      • Some of the dialogue options available to a human mage Inquisitor imply that even the quiet Ostwick Circle had some serious problems.
    Trevelyan: Some seemed all right at first. A smile here, a nod there. Yet when a mage was punished harshly, they turned to stone and watched.
  • The beginning of the Envy Demon's Fade sequence. The Inquisitor walks forward to see Josephine and Cullen standing looking at him/her, while a demonic Leliana starts talking about how she wants to see what the Inquisitor is like. She slits Cullen's throat. The Inquisitor's response is mocked by the demon, who assumes the form of Josephine and continues. It then takes Cullen's form and starts moving pieces on a war table, probing their thoughts. It's quite creepy.
  • Mixed with a bit of Fridge Horror, the demon Imshael. He at first seems to be Affably Evil, like any skilled Desire Demon (*ahem* Choice Spirit). But after dealing with him one way or another, you encounter a dying Red Templar suffering from all of the Body Horror that comes with Red Lyrium. Imshael offered the Red Templar a deal that would save his life. The Red Templar refused him. What did Imshael want that was so terrible that the Red Templar preferred a slow and painful death?
  • You can find a Codex entry in Valammar called "A Different Darkspawn?", which tells the story of a group of Dwarven smugglers trying to find the guy who has the keys to their cache. When they do find him, instead of him being dead, he apparently was found and cared for by a talking Darkspawn like Corypheus or The Architect. The guy writing the note remembers a story passed down from his grandfather's grandfather about three talking Darkspawn, dressed like kings and arguing with each other about "a city gone black". They ended up fighting each other and one ran while the other ate the third one. Give this a little thought: Not only did three other Darkspawn magisters like Corypheus survive, but, assuming they are capable of killing each other, there could be another two running around the Deep Roads somewhere and, assuming the legends that there were seven are true, another three entirely unaccounted for. Even worse, if the In-Universe speculation of an eighth old god is true, there could be a corresponding eighth magister. Last but not least, Word of God confirms that the player has already met one of the other magisters.
  • The Codex entry for the hurlock alpha describes one of the creatures who was taken prisoner by a noble. As the hurlock alpha was intelligent enough to speak, the noble attempted to broker peace with it, though not before having the darkspawn beat bloody by his guards. The hurlock alpha tricks the guards into releasing it and then snaps the noble's neck while mocking his attempts to negotiate.
    • Also worth mentioning is that the beating the Alpha received was so brutal the guards were covered in its blood. It casually mentions that as a result, the guards are already transforming into ghouls, and will soon be compelled to obey its orders. Or in this case, since it was killed, wander the earth slowly losing their minds.
  • As you wander across Orlais and Ferelden, you find dozens of little horror stories that walk the line between nightmare fuel and tearjerker. Most are quests, where the best you can find are the remains of a tragedy. Other look like quests, but they're only there to provide atmosphere — apparently, some people have no one left to wonder what happened to them. Either way, most powerful person in Thedas or not, you are far, far too late to save these poor souls...
    • In the Emerald Graves, you find a young woman's body in a river. Discovering what happened requires a long trek up to a precipice, which still doesn't answer all of the questions. The girl had fled Ferelden with her sister and nephew; she specifically mentions that this was shortly after her mother died. According to her diary, however, something... strange happened in the following months. She claims that her mother is in bed, sick, and, after a creepy game of hide and seek with her "mother" that results in her sister screaming desperately for her son (whose name the writer no longer recognises), she is sent out to gather rose hips for the tea... and plunges over the precipice to her death while picking them. Was she insane? Possessed? Enthralled by a demon? It's not quite clear, but her fate was pretty grim — and so, presumably, were the fates of her sister and nephew.
    • Also in the Emerald Graves is the "Lover's Promise" sidequest. You find a letter from someone warning their lover not to go to the Lion's Pavilion because of the Freemen and to rendezvous at their secret spot. Things get eerie when you reach the spot and find nothing but an abandoned picnic site with some supplies for a trip. Touch the site and an unearthly shriek fills the air as a huge Giant Spider climbs over a nearby fallen tree and attacks. The worst part comes after the battle: examining the spider's corpse reveals a lot of loot... including a wedding ring.
    • And again in the Emerald Graves, you find the notes of a researcher who was observing the behavior of demons spawned by the Fade rifts. He seems to have been smart enough to keep himself from catching their attention for quite some time, but when they finally did notice him... well, as Dorian remarks, a human body probably isn't supposed to bend that way.
    • In the Emprise de Lion, there is a tower sitting on an island in the Elfsblood River. A gory scene awaits you at the top, along with a diary entry explaining that its occupant had brought home a girl he found at a Fade rift, claiming that they loved each other and that he liked it when she "hurt" him. "Hurting" in this case apparently means placing him onto some sort of device and chopping him in half with an axe (which you can loot). And then there's the question of where the second corpse came from...
  • The Codex entry "Trading with Kal-Sharok" is fairly mundane stuff for the most part, right up until the last few sentences that strongly imply that all of the denizens of Kal-Sharok are Tainted.
  • By itself, the Exalted Plains is pretty much a Daylight Horror wonderland, with half the map consisting of ruined battlefields filled with corpses, both laying on the ground and walking, with the accompanying music being something comparable to long, dreadful chord combined with an eerie, low humming sound, but then you unlock Citadelle du Corbeau. Citadelle du Corbeau is an Orlesian fort built out of the ruins of an old Elven facility, and still contains many evidence of the former occupants, including the still functional elven superweapon topping the fort. That creepy humming you heard on the battlefields? In here it becomes the hum of the weapon as it scours the open areas of the fortification, incinerating anyone caught in its beam. Perhaps the worst part comes, however, when you get to the top of the fort and discover piles of dead bodies heaped against the door. Turns out that when the corpses attacked, the soldiers activated the superweapon, unaware of what it did. Not only did it power up the weapon, it put the fort on a lockdown; anyone not lucky enough to get inside before the doors closed on their own were locked outside and killed by the weapon's beam or the corpses, or both. The worst part? Most of the bodies are dressed in non-military clothes. The commander of the fort is deeply traumatized by the deaths, not only because of how many innocents were killed, but because she and the others trapped inside were forced to listen to them die.
  • Near Griffon Wing Keep is a huge canyon in the ground. You peer in to take in the view... and then you see the ominous blackened areas deeper in, and you are reminded that this is where the Second Blight occurred. Behold the Abyssal Rift.
  • What Corypheus planned to do to Calpernia. Getting a sneak peek of what it would be like when you meet with her former master, Erasthenes, in the Shrine of Dumat was disturbing enough, and his binding was just the prototype, whereas Calpernia's would be "the masterpiece." Being bound eternally to Corypheus's will in a constant state of physical torture would be a horrifying fate for anyone, but to former slave Calpernia? Her worst nightmare.
    Calpernia: He made so many promises, and every one, a lie! Vanhedis kaffan vas!