The sequel to BioWare's acclaimed Dragon Age: Origins and the second installment of the Dragon Age series.The game tells the story of Hawke, a human hero who is destined to become the famous Champion of Kirkwall. Following the destruction of Hawke's hometown during the Fifth Blight, Hawke flees overseas with his or her family to the city of Kirkwall. Over the next decade, Hawke goes from an outcast refugee to revered icon, but the story of just how that reputation was made remains to be told...The game makes several significant changes from its predecessor. The art style has been changed to what has been termed "Stylised Realism", in an effort to make an "ownable" art style. Departing from the three races and multiple backgrounds available in the last game, the protagonist is now a single predefined human character, of either gender, with the standard three specializations of warrior, mage or rogue. Additionally, the Player Character is now fully voiced and also features a conversation wheel much like Mass Effect; though instead of moral intent it tracks the inflection of the response as either compassionate, sarcastic, or blunt.Two DLC's quests were added following it's release. The first Legacy, in which Hawke learns more about his/her father's past, was released for all systems on July 26. The second Mark of the Assassin, in which Hawke teams up with Tallis, Felicia Day's character from Dragon Age: Redemption, was released for all systems on October 11. An Expansion Pack, Exalted March was planned, but was cancelled so the developer team could focus on the series' next installment. Elements of its plot have apparently made their way into the sequel.The game received positive reviews upon release, with critics praising the companions Character Development, new gameplay changes, and a generally tighter story which deconstructed a lot of usual BioWare Tropes. However, many fans criticized the environments for being smaller, less detailed and very repetitive. A criticism largely aimed at EA by detractors, believing they rushed out the sequel in a very short development cycle.note From start to finish, Dragon Age II hit the stores in just under 18 months. Origins, meanwhile, had taken over four years. Furthermore the finale remained largely the same regardless of player choices and thus didn't really offer much in the way of closure. Several returning characters from previous Dragon Age games, particularly Anders, also had markedly different personalities.A tie-in novel has been published; Dragon Age: Asunder is set in Orlais shortly after the events of Act 3, but before Varric's interrogation, it expands upon the mage/templar conflict. An anime, Dawn of the Seeker, serving as an Expansion Pack Past for Cassandra Pentaghast, was released on May 29, 2012.The sequel, Dragon Age: Inquisition, is currently in development and is set for a late 2014 release.
Dragon Age II contains examples of following tropes:
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Abandoned Warehouse: So many it's a Running Gag. Fenris finds the few warehouses that are used to store things (and not just for clandestine meetings) rather novel.
Abnormal Ammo: Shows up every now and again. Varric can use Bianca to launch grenades, for example. Duke Prosper gets a little more bizarre, though, wielding a pistol... crossbow... thing that fires large globs of sticky green goo, which serve as an "Attack me!" sign for his trained alpha wyvern, Leopold.
Absurdly High Level Cap: The game has a level cap of fifty, but without using an exploit there is only enough content to reach the low- to mid-twenties by endgame. Presumably, this level cap was set in anticipation of future DLC that won't be coming, as Mark of the Assassin was confirmed as the final one when Dragon Age III was announced.
Accidental Pun: Lampshaded in-universe by Snarky!Hawke; a potion shop in the Gallows is low on stock and is looking for Hawke to "remedy that". He says it wasn't meant as a pun, but that he should remember it for future use.
Actionized Sequel: Especially the console versions, where the autoattack function was left out due to a technical oversight and only recently included through a patch.
Having your home and everything you built over last 10 years destroyed and then watch one of your children die protecting you.
It's clear that one of Leandra's biggest fears is to have her children and husband taken away because they are mages. She has already seen her cousin going through the same thing and then Bethany is taken by Cullen, specifically because she insisted on leaving her out of the Deep Roads Expedition. And this happens after she already lost one of her children.
Situation when Leandra is kidnapped is bone-chilling, mostly because how it's played out. You first find out she is missing from panicked Gamlen and go looking for her following a trail of fresh blood. When you finally find her she is not quit dead, turn into a zombie.
After Combat Recovery: Health, stamina, and mana are instantly restored as soon as everyone puts their weapons on their backs.
Alas, Poor Villain: Bartrand, and Meredith by game's end. Neither were sweethearts prior to obtaining the lyrium idol but they got really bad afterwards.
Alien Geometries: In the Primeval Thaig, although you'll have to take the characters' word for it.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Qunari invasion of Kirkwall. Subverted during the ending, when you learn that Cassandra has been interrogating Varric in Hawke's estate. You learn this after it's revealed that Cassandra is on Hawke's side.
Altum Videtur: The Tevinter Imperium is based more on Byzantium (which had Greek as lingua franca) than the Roman Empire, yet everything from there is named in a slightly warped form of Latin, including some remarks by Fenris, a former Tevinter slave. (His name, however, is Norse. While his original name, Leto, is Greek.)
However, the ANCIENT Tevinter Imperium is basically the Roman Empire with magic. So, the use of Latin is totally appropriate.
Fenris' name was given to him by a learned Magister, whose knowledge probably crossed the borders of Tevinter.
Amazonian Beauty: The concept art for female Qunari has some fans begging Bioware to let one or two be romance-able. Tall, muscular, with incredibly strong profiles, they fit the "Amazon" look to a tee. Unfortunately, they don't appear in the game. Doubly unfortunately, Qunari women cannot be professional warriors (though they can be Secret Police, and like all Qunari, they are allowed and expected to fight as militia in the event of an attack). Aveline fulfills this trope nicely.
Amazon Brigade: A party comprised of any four of the female companions (Female Hawke, Bethany, Aveline, Merrill and Isabela) is this. Noteworthy in that it's a rather well-balanced team, with its only real deficiency being healing magic (and if Female Hawke is a mage, you don't have to worry about that either).
Ancestral Weapon: The Staff of Parthalan, a limited item that was received by subscribing to the Dragon Age II newsletter, was used by a mage ancestor of Hawke's who fought alongside the legendary King Calenhad.
Or was a Tevinter magister sent to quash a slave rebellion in Kirkwall during the Exalted Marches, and then disappeared along the way. The in-game codex entry differs from the initial description given before the game's release.
The Mage Kit DLC includes the robes and staff of Hawke's father Malcolm. The item descriptions tell the story of Malcolm's courtship and elopement with Hawke's mother Leandra.
A couple of items in the Legacy DLC are indirect hand-me-downs from Malcolm as well.
Animal Motifs: Kirkwall's architecture (Hightown in particular) has a predilection for bird imagery.
Both the Hawke and Amell family names derive from birds of prey.
Appeal To Audacity: What ultimately convinces Cassandra that Varric is (mostly) telling the truth. Parts of Hawke's story are so fantastical they simply couldn't be made up unless they actually had happened, nor does Varric have anything to gain if they weren't.
Lampshaded in Legacy. Cassandra notes he's omitted the event that took place at the Grey Warden Fortress, causing Varric to admit he left it out intentionally; said event was so unbelievable that, despite witnessing it firsthand, even he still can't believe it actually happened.
Appeal to Fear: This is generally the crux of Meredith's argument against mages.
Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Averted in some parts of the end game, where the rest of your party helps fight, although you can't control them. Justified during the Deep Roads expedition, as Bartrand will not allow you to bring all of your allies with you. Also, your companions have very demanding lives even outside the group - the fact that Aveline (in charge of law enforcement for the whole city) manages to follow Hawke in her "off-duty hours" downright scares Varric.
Oh, you know, the usual. Attempted assassinations, uprisings, fancy dress parties with stinky cheeses.
Art Evolution: The physical appearances of Flemeth, Isabela, Merrill and the darkspawn differ noticeably from Origins. Elves have also changed in physical appearance, along with gaining Irish and Welsh accents.
Artifact of Death: Hindsight. The belt only offers protection against the very things that killed its previous owners (including its creator Thaulid) and ultimately no protection against the horrible death that is sure to befall you. Take comfort in the fact your painful end will protect another temporary owner from suffering your exact fate.
Artifact of Doom: The lyrium idol, which gives its wielder a massive power boost at the cost of sanity. Due to its corruption of Meredith, it's partly responsible for the mage/templar war; and if your sibling is with you in the Deep Roads when you find it, its corruption of Bartrand leads to them either dying or becoming a Grey Warden.
Aside Glance: Hawke can ask Bodahn about how he and Sandal got to Kirkwall. When asked if he knew the Hero of Ferelden, the dwarf addresses the camera directly.
Bodahn: The Hero of Ferelden is a fine wo/man. After all his/her accomplishments, may s/he find even greater success in the future.
A Taste of Power: The game opens with the player controlling an overpowered Hawke and one of his/her siblings (Bethany or Carver) against a horde of darkspawn. This is quickly revealed to be the result of Varric trying to make Hawke's story more interesting. See also Fake Action Prologue.
Attempted Rape: The young girl that Hawke was supposed to rescue from a group of bandits in Act III was instead protected by Feynriel from being gang-raped; he made the bandits kill each other while they were still awake.
Bad Boss: Hubert qualifies. He pays the miners at the Bone Pit as little as possible, forces them to use shoddy equipment and strikes his employees.
Back-to-Back Badasses: A Rogue ability allows you to appear next to a chosen ally. It can be upgraded to allow the Rogue to be in stealth when s/he does so.
Merrill has a unique spell that lets her do it.
The launch trailer also has Anders and Aveline pull this off.
The Bad Guy Wins: Repeatedly. In Act I, Bartrand takes the idol and leaves you trapped in the Deep Roads. This might even lead to: the death of Bethany/Carver.
In Act II, Sister Petrice's plan to start a war between the city and the Qunari may blow up in her face and get her killed, but it still succeeds in the end and gets her what she wants.
In Act III, no matter what you do, Anders' Well-Intentioned Extremist actions ignite Thedas' first world war between the Templars and the Mages. And the whole world considers you to blame.
In Legacy, Corypheus escapes with your character none the wiser.
Bad Guy Bar: The Hanged Man, although this is also the favored hangout of the two party rogues. Its status is lampshaded in Act II.
Seneschal Bran: Though where you would find a guardsman so eager to sell his honor and sword is beyond me. Isabela: Hanged Man. Fenris: Hanged Man. Merrill: Hanged Man. Aveline: Got to be. Sebastian: Even I know that.
Badass Family: Hawke, Bethany and Carver. Their father (Malcolm) was an apostate mage who trained Bethany (and Hawke if s/he is a mage), and their mother's (Leandra) maiden name is Amell, being distantly related to the Human Mage Warden from Dragon Age: Origins. If said Human Mage Warden in the first game was male and he performed the Dark Ritual, the Hawkes are also distantly related to Morrigan's demon-god baby.
The Mage Kit DLC reveals that Malcolm Hawke had a Dark and Troubled Past whilst travelling a long way from his homeland in order to reach Kirkwall. He also was a skilled unarmed combatant as a result of often posing as a mercenary, since he had to hide his Mage abilities from the Templars.
Legacy shows that Malcolm was badass enough that the Grey Wardens came to him for help.
Be Careful What You Wish For: In one banter, Sebastian says that the reason why he doesn't return to Starkhaven to claim his throne is because he is waiting for a sign from the Maker. Boy howdy did he get one. This is especially evident if you spare someone.
Friendly banter between Aveline and Anders brings us this exchange:
Aveline: I have to admit, Anders: of the mages I know, you're the one I expected to go out in a blaze.
Anders: The day is young.
In-universe, this is invoked in the codex "The Demon's Gift." This is a parable about how an elderly couple gives shelter to a beautiful young woman and she presents them with a mirror that can grant three wishes. The wife wishes to be young and beautiful, which causes her husband to berate her for not wishing to give them both youth. He then wishes she "weren't so stupid," which grants her insight and makes her realize that her husband never truly loved her and only tolerated her because her ignorance made his seem less so in comparison. In the end, they both wish at the same time that the other gets exactly what they deserve — at which point the woman's beauty and intelligence fades away and the couple is left with nothing but their contempt for one another.
Not to mention Xenon the Antiquarian, the proprietor of the Black Emporium, who centuries ago was granted immortality by a witch - but he failed to specify that he also wanted eternal youth, so by the time you meet him, he's so emaciated he's barely more than a corpse and has gone completely insane.
In Act 1, Hawke's first act as co-owner of the Bone Pit is to offer the Fereldan workers double their salary to return to work, despite it being out of Hawke's own pocket.
Rescuing Sandal on the Deep Roads Expedition and later giving Bodahn and Sandal a place to stay in the Hawke Estate, despite insisting that Bodahn doesn't need to repay you by acting as your manservant.
Offering Orana, a rescued Tevinter slave, a paid job and home at the Estate as a maid, if she wishes it, and by Act 3, also generously paying for her music lessons.
Lastly, the people of Kirkwall seem to see the Champion as this; by Act 3, it's a common discussion by various parties that they want Hawke to take the position of Viscount.
Berserk Button: Several times throughout the game the player is given the option to point out just why it is NEVER safe to mess with Hawke's family.
Overzealous Templars who mistreat Mages receive this response from a Paragon Hawke. Even if s/he is not a Mage him/herself, with so many friends, family members and allies who are Mages, it becomes clear early on that you do NOT hurt Mages around Hawke.
Betty and Veronica: One of each gender: sweet Merrill versus the no-strings-attached-growing-into-something-else relationship with Isabela and the romantic Anders versus the cynical Fenris. Subverted in the fact that neither Merrill nor Anders are as entirely Betty-like as they seem. This trope is actually subverted - the female "Betty" is a blood mage who deals with demons, and the male "Betty" is actually possessed by a demon. The male "Veronica" has serious issues due to his enslavement and the female "Veronica" is, as Aveline points out, a bitch-born whore and even more likely to betray you than any other party member, but, well, demonic possession probably tends to put a crimp on intimacy even more than those flaws.
Between My Legs: A framing shot in an Act III cutscene of two boys who are running away from a woman in the Undercity who is a blood mage, only to run into her.
Beware the Silly Ones: Hawke, if you take enough snarky dialogue options, is shown to be a highly intelligent and cunning individual who uses Obfuscating Stupidity and Buffy Speak in order to lure enemies into a false sense of security, that the gibbering moron in front of them can't possibly be dangerous... right?
Snarky Hawke: I'd make a terrible slave, for one thing I talk too much. [materialises a knife out of thin air and holds it to Danzig's throat] Snarky Hawke: And I also do that!
Bi the Way: With the exception of Sebastian (if you purchase his DLC), every potential love interest in this game is available to both male and female Hawkes.
Big Bad: Cassandra spends nearly the entire game trying to figure out who in the story is the Big Bad responsible for sparking the Civil War which began in Kirkwall. By the end of his story, Varric makes it clear that there was no single person masterminding events, but that everyone involved bears some responsibility and that events spiraled wildly out of anyone's control.
Big Bad Ensemble: Most of the villains (if you can call them that) have their own agendas that frequently clash against each other. Due to the game's moral ambiguity, who the true Big Bad is (or if there is one at all) is a matter of debate.
Cassandra actually thinks that Hawke is the Big Bad at first for causing the mess the Chantry is in, until Varric explains to her that things are more complicated than that.
The lead designer has said in a few interviews that the 'villain' was actually meant to be the circumstances, not the individual antagonists.
Big Damn Heroes: Hawke's timely intervention during the Qunari Invasion is why he/she becomes the Champion of Kirkwall.
Knight-Commander Meredith also has a BDH moment saving Hawke from a powerful Saarebas.
Bigger on the Inside: Somewhat less noticeable in Lowtown, where the houses are very cramped, both inside and outside. Some buildings in Hightown, however, especially ones in the middle of a square (including the Hawke Estate), look like they would have a few rooms at most, only to be revealed as being enormous estates on the inside.
Bilingual Bonus: "Chateau Haine," from the Mark of the Assassin DLC, translates from French as "Castle Loathing" or "Castle Hatred."
Blade on a Stick: Mage staves now have some sort of sharp end to allow for close-quarters combat.
This also seems to be the standard for most Qunari weapons, including throwing spears.
Blatant Lies: What happens when Varric wants to talk up Hawke's badassery or, in one notable case, avoid dealing with an absolutely horrific event.
Any enemy that gets killed by a critical hit, in fact.
Blood Magic: A key plot element, and far more prevalent than in Origins. By Act III, nearly all the mages in Kirkwall are blood mages; Hawke's sister Bethany, if still alive, is one of the few known exceptions.
Bloodstained Glass Windows: The Chantry has no shortage of fight scenes - Act I has Isabela and Anders's recruitment quests, Act II a run-in with Petrice's followers or the Arishok's men. One wonders how Elthina explains all the corpses they must keep finding. Finally, Anders blows the whole thing off the map.
All Qunari mages have their mouths stitched shut. However, this appears to be a form of magical seal that can be removed.
Towards the climax, Hawke fights a Harvester, a creature that is made from corpses.
Not to mention what happens to Hawke's mother.
Xenon the Antiquarian, if you purchase the Black Emporium package, is an immortal emaciated corpse, with numerous extra limbs protruding from his torso due to magical experimentation to try to prevent his own decay.
Bond One-Liner: The snarky option after beating the final boss of Mark of the Assassin results in one:
Hawke: Looks like the Duke... has fallen from grace.
Bonus Boss: Xebenkeck in Act II. Hybris and a High Dragon in Act III. Malvernis in Legacy. Finding and killing these monsters yields achievements.
Book Ends: The game begins and can end with Hawke fleeing his/her home.
Brain Bleach: Hawke needs some after finally seeing whatever lewd thing Isabela sees when one looks at the Amell coat-of-arms in juuust the right way.
Hawke: All right, so she said to look at the crest sideways, then cover the... Sweet Maker! Isabela! I cannot unsee that!
As does Bethany if Hawke accepts an elven prostitute's offer only to soon afterward turn him down upon Bethany's objection.
Bethany: The images are in my head and they are never, ever going away.
Breaking the Fellowship: Circumstances following the ending force all of the party to part with Hawke, except for Hawke's love interest.
Brick Joke: One of the miners who fled from the first Bone Pit massacre is wary of going back, drunkenly suggesting "What if something worse comes, like... bigger dragons?" Well, guess what happens much later in the game...
If you talk to him after finishing "Blackpowder Courtesy," the viscount has this to say:
Viscount Dumar: I'm preparing for the worst. The very worst. This may require absorbent linens.
Also if you bring Isabela on the "Haunted" companion quest at Bartrand's estate.
Isabela: I really should have visited the privy before coming here.
Broken Bridge: Rarely addressed as a plot point, and even then it's incidental, such as the barrier Merrill must break in order to demonstrate her use of blood magic. The frequent rubble-strewn passages and sealed doorways section off dungeons, but their appearance and removal goes without explanation.
Merrill is the sweetest character in the game and official resident Cloud Cuckoo Lander. This doesn't stop her from being a powerful Blood Mage who wields some of the most powerful abilities in the game.
After being congratulated on wiping out a gang of raiders in Act II, Snarky!Hawke can comment that he seems to recall that, but he does kill so many people...
But Thou Must: Some quests in the main plot will offer a "choice" to accept or deny the task, but either way it'll be added to the journal. Some requests are required, despite seemingly having nothing to do with the current plot.
It's noteworthy that accepting or turning down quests will affect how certain companions see you. For example, you can refuse the seemingly non-critical "Shepherding Wolves" quest, thus making Anders upset with you, only to find that it's mandatory and that you've set back your growing friendship for nothing.
Button Mashing: The console versions of this game have the player constantly hitting the attack button during combat for the player-controlled character instead of the automatic fighting of the computer version, although an auto-attack toggle was meant to be in the console versions and was only omitted due to a manufacturing error, and recently included in the patch.
Even with the auto-attack patch, though, you still have to constantly press the attack button to engage your next target due to the speed of the game.
Hawke and Bethany can become this, depending on player choices. Oddly, Carver, the sibling who has the most issues with Hawke, refuses to raise a hand against Hawke and gets pissed when people threaten to do so.
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": For dramatic purposes. Anders's "potion ingredients", sela petrae and drakestone, are actually saltpeter and sulfur.
Isabela's first appearance in Dragon Age II is similar to her introduction in Origins.
Never mind that, Isabela turns call backs into innuendo:
Isabela: Does he Arl your Eamon? Or Cup your Joining? Shank your Jory?
One of the ways to get Isabela to teach the Warden the Duelist specialization in Origins was to catch her cheating at cards. At the beginning of the second act, Hawke walks on Merrill asking Isabela why she always wins at cards, to which Isabela responds, "Because I cheat."
And also this:
Alistair: Yes, swooping is bad.
Flemeth's first words to Hawke & Co. are the same words first spoken by Morrigan in Origins.
"Well, well... what have we here?"
In a further nod to Origins, when confronted with Sandal standing alone amidst a pile of darkspawn corpses, like the Warden, Hawke can say something to the effect of "Sandal, you're surrounded by darkspawn corpses. What happened here?" The first answer is the same: "Enchantment!" But when confronted with a frozen solid ogre? "Not enchantment!" What is up with that kid?
When you ask the Arishok about further information about the Qunari, the following dialogue occurs, very much reminiscent of a conversation between Sten and the Warden:
Hawke: Tell me more about your triumvirate.
Hawke: Now you're just being difficult.
A very subtle call back can be found inside a chest after completing the penultimate boss fight midway through the final quest. Opening the unlocked chest will yield a rod of fire order form, presumably just like the one which served as a plot coupon in the original game's Mage origin quest. The item itself appears to be worthless. In the prologue, some darkspawn inexplicably have vials of their own blood as loot - a Call Back to the Joining quest from the first game.
If you ask the bartender for the latest news, he says that there's been a sudden thinning of pigeons in Ferelden. He goes on to ask who would hurt such innocent creatures. Who indeed...
The Cameo: Several of your companions from Origins and Awakening show up, although the circumstances of their appearance vary depending on the choices in the saved game you imported (or the pre-set backstory you selected at the start).
Leliana appears in the Exiled Prince DLC, having become "the Hand of the Divine" - a sort of secret agent for the head of the Chantry. She also makes an appearance in the ending, having been working with Cassandra the whole time. She also makes an appearance in Mark Of The Assassin.
Also, Alistair and Teagan appear and mention the Warden. Alistair can also show up as a drunk, the king or a Grey Warden. Teagan also makes an appearance in Mark Of The Assassin, along with Isolde.
Zevran appears in a sidequest where the Crows are still pursuing him. He also provides backup in the final battle if you help him during his quest, but doesn't say anything.
Nathaniel crops up in a side quest where he acknowledges Anders (if he's in the party) and whichever decision you made about the Architect in Awakening, implying that the Architect is an ally of the Wardens if he's spared. Like Zevran, he'll also appear in the final battle after his mission but won't say anything.
Fenris jokes that unlike other Dwarves, Varric's beard fell onto his chest instead.
Cast from Lifespan: The Elixir of Heroism, which gives an instant level up, works by aging the drinker a few years, granting them the skills and experience they would have earned over that time instantaneously.
Casual Danger Dialogue: Unintentional examples of this pop up whenever a random encounter and a random Party Banter trigger end up a bit too close to each other. Thus, while heads are being severed and fireballs are raining from the sky, you'll have Merrill asking Fenris why he's so cross all the time, or Aveline and Isabela bickering about relationships.
A good in-story example would be the Hawke family's flight from Lothering. They spend a couple of minutes talking about Kirkwall with the darkspawn horde contained only by a foot high wall of fire.
During the introduction of Tallis in Mark of the Assassin, Hawke wonders aloud who she is during the fight.
Hawke: Who the blazes is that?!
Varric: Don't know! Kill people, then ask!
Cat Fight: Hawke can walk in on the beginning of one between Aveline and Isabela in the Hawke estate. The best part is a smartass!Hawke's reaction: rushing in and gasping "Are there any good seats left?".
Another one, between the same characters, can also happen if you bring Isabela along when you start the Long Road quest.
There's one with Aveline and female Hawke on the second Questioning Beliefs quest if Aveline is at high rivalry. You have to get real catty with Aveline if you want her to stay in Kirkwall! She actually punches Hawke to the ground.
Chekhov's Gun: A few things like Isabela's relic and Bartrand's idol end up being very important.
Also those big bronze statues in the Gallows' courtyard. They come to life in the final battle.
Meredith is mentioned almost immediately after the Hawkes arrive in Kirkwall, and is seen walking by and frowning at a beggar-pickpocket at the beginning of year two. She doesn't come into play directly until the very end of act two.
In Act II, there is a beggar named Evelina in Darktown who, if you click on her, asks for a few coins to feed her starving children. In Act III you learn that she is an apostate-turned-abomination and have to kill her.
The City Narrows: Darktown, supposedly. In actuality, the other city districts are way more dangerous, especially at night, since that's where all the bandits and muggers are.
City of Adventure: The vast majority of the game takes place in Kirkwall and its surrounding countryside.
Civil War: The final conflict of the game is a civil war between mages and Templars. While we never really get to see it in full, we do get to see the opening shots. Hawke is forced to pick a side, and your companions, having their own allegiances, may turn on you depending on your choices and relationship values.
Cold-Blooded Torture: What Ser Varnell does to the Qunari delegates captured during "Offered and Lost."
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In cutscenes, magic appears this with different characters. With Bethany it appears to be a wispish purple, Anders' magic appears as a flaming dark blue (usually when manifesting Justice), while Mage Hawke appears as a intense white.
The Comically Serious: The Arishok and most of the Qunari can come across as this, having a very understated sense of humour, particularly if dealing with Snarky!Hawke.
Conflicting Loyalties: One of the major themes of the game, even much more so than in the first one. Pretty much every major quest is about finding a solution for mutually incompatible goals. Usually, the end result turns out worse than either alternatives.
Conspiracy Theorist: The talkative man in the Hanged Man. Among other things, he thinks the Fifth Blight (in other words, the whole plot of Origins) was invented by Ferelden and didn't actually happen.
Cassandra in the framing story. Some of her theories on Hawke's history and motives are a little... out there. She initially seems to be under the assumption that Hawke and company all came to Kirkwall together as part of a large plot to incite Mage sedition against the Chantry, were allied with the Grey Wardens (if Bethany or Carver joined them), and that Hawke knew about the lyrium idol.
Continuity Lockout: To a minor extent. The game makes very little effort to actively explain the setting to new players, though it's traditional enough that most people will catch on quick, and lore really isn't relevant to most of the gameplay. However, those looking for references to the first game's lore will have to search the DA wiki.
Continuity Porn: Over the course of Hawke's seven years, s/he might encounter Alistair, Leliana, Zevran, Flemeth, Bodahn and Sandal, Cullen, Nathaniel, Merrill (and anyone from her clan), Anders, Bann Tegan, Isolde, Sketch, Sophia Dryden, and Isabela. Not to mention hearing about other characters, general mythology gags, and enough references to the Origins Warden.
The Corruption: Due to Blood Magic, Fade Demons, and the Black City, many feel this is universally inherent in magic talent. And then there's the lyrium idol, which can inflict this even on Templars and dwarves.
If you collect all of "The Enigma of Kirkwall" secret messages, it is revealed that Kirkwall itself is a giant example of this, thanks to its peculiar placement of the streets and regular human sacrifices.
Crapsack World: Despite the Warden's best efforts in the first game, the land of Thedas is still a rather bleak and depressing place. Not only that, but It goes from bad to worse, partly thanks to you and your party's actions.
Cut-and-Paste Environments: A frequently cited complaint is that the dungeons and cave areas are all identical, but with various impassable doors thrown up to create a different flow. Lampshaded by Varric in the quest "On The Loose."
Varric: Another secret society meeting in a warehouse. You think the owners charge them rent?
The Legacy and Mark Of The Assassin DLCs, however, have taken this into consideration and as such feature unique dungeons.
A line of party banter from Merrill in Mark of The Assassin lampshades this as well, saying that everywhere in Kirkwall started looking the same after a while.
Cutscene Power to the Max: Not "cutscenes" per se, but Varric's story framing invokes a variation of this trope at times. Occasionally, Varric will embellish his tale, which in gameplay terms translates to being given A Taste of Power. The very beginning is an example. Varric initially romanticizes Hawke's tale, portraying him/her as a badass mage/warrior/rogue who was capable of cutting up darkspawn left, right and center before s/he even met Varric. Then the Seeker calls him out for his bullshit and Varric is forced to admit that Hawke had a far humbler beginning - the game's true prologue opens with a scene of Hawke fleeing for his/her life with his/her family in tow. A later, more humorous scene has Varric portraying himself as a One-Man Army when he singlehandedly broke into his brother's mansion.
A pretty awesome straightforward example occurs while playing the "Wayward Son" quest as a rogue, which even comes with its own Badass Boast line
At the end of the boss battle against Orsino, Hawke kills the last iteration of the Harvester simply by squishing it underfoot like a bug.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: While most of the controls haven't changed, many of the options on the radial menu have moved from where they were located in Origins, making playing the games back-to-back slightly jarring.
Darker and Edgier: Certainly darker than Origins. Much of the grimness comes from the personal level the game plays on, instead of an epic one.
Darker and Edgier in volume of gore, sexual situations, and dramatic tragedy. Also reconstructed with Sebastian, the rogue marksman as a paladin, and Merrill, a sweet, naive Moe who dabbles in every forbidden magic.
Visually edgier, as the color palette is less realistically brown, but virtually reduced to shades of gray, brown and intense red, with sharp contrasts.
Definitely not darker in terms of lighting. While Origins had very atmospheric, sometimes chiaroscuro lighting, the light in DAII is generally flat, without shadows, and almost uniformly bright.
This is by far Bioware's darkest game. While other Bioware games have their elements of darkness, they usually end in the triumph of the hero and in "good" endings, everything restored. This game however, is about a descent into madness with the hero caught in the middle. There is notriumph here.
There's also a lot of swearing. Real swearing, not the Pardon My Klingon that Origins engaged in.
Dark Messiah: Cassandra implies that amongst those in the Chantry, Hawke is considered this.
Anders definitely serves as one throughout the story.
Dashed Plot Line: A prologue, three acts, and an epilogue, with 1/3/3/2 year skips between them.
Day Old Legend: Killing a nameless high dragon will let you loot her Fire Gland, which, in turn, can be crafted by a local enchanter into an amulet named Urzara's Tooth. This unlocks a Codex entry, which claims that Urzara's Tooth is a 200-year-old relic of a dragon-worshiping cult.
Deadpan Snarker: Hawke by the boatload if you play him/her that way. The rest of the party will often get in on it. Flemeth will react approvingly to smartass remarks from Hawke.
Deadly Hug: Marethari will give one to Merrill if you take the optimistic approach to the way the battle ends.
Also, Anders to Karl at the end of his first companion quest.
Deal with the Devil: In Origins, it was possible to make deals with demons that didn't carry any repercussions for the Player Character (though other people weren't so lucky). In Dragon Age II, demons always betray those who bargain with them. As Anders puts it, "demons will trip you up every time."
Deconstructor Fleet: Of the Adventure RPG genre. There's no Big Bad (despite the insistence of some characters that there must be), the central plot doesn't involve Saving the World, and as opposed to being The Chosen One destined to change and influence the world, Hawke is an ordinary (if badass) person simply trying to survive with his family. Hawke is ultimately a Failure Hero by the end of the game.
Defector from Decadence: The Mabari. According to Fenris, when the Ancient Tevinters took Mabari War-Hounds along with them during an invasion of Ferelden, the Mabari took one look at the Alamarri tribesmen and immediately decided to switch sides, joining forces to drive out the Tevinters. This is given as the reason why the Mabari are so beloved by the Ferelden people and have been a staple of their military stratagem ever since.
Degraded Boss: It's hard to decide what's a boss battle in this game, but before the final battle you will fight Demons of Pride as normal encounters.
Revenants, too. Although they were already somewhat degraded by Awakening.
Deliberate Values Dissonance: In a world full of demonic possessions, it's not surprising that your party has little to no understanding or empathy for a man in a quest who appears mentally ill. Because he's not possessed, they assume he's lying about thinking he hears voices and just not accepting responsibility for his actions. Killing him is the only action in the game everyone in your party agrees upon.
Demonic Possession: A standard threat to mages in Thedas. Anders is also willingly possessed by Justice.
An ingame codex entry found in Legacy speculates that Corypheus is at least partially responsible for this, along with all the other things that make Kirkwall such a crapsack place to live.
Depending on the Writer: Awakening's Anders (written by David Gaider) was womanizing, flirty, shallow, snarky, and laid-back. Dragon Age II's Anders (written by Jennifer Hepler) is a moody, obsessive, serious person, although he still snarks when he's in a good mood. This is explained due to the fact that Anders is possessed by a spirit, and thus, not the same person that he once was. There is some debate on how much of the change is justified or was necessary.
Aveline's starting shield previously belonged to her deceased husband Wesley. But since it's starting equipment, it rapidly falls behind other shields you pick up during play. If you stick Wesley's shield in storage or sell it to a vendor, Aveline will be cross about it in Act II, and you'll pick up Rivalry points for it.
Dialogue Tree: Unlike Origins more traditional dialogue selection, a new icon wheel has been added to streamline the experience, similar to Mass Effect. The game adds the use of an icon in the center of the wheel to help deduce intent, along with the paraphrased line. These icons make it possible for the game to track personality, based upon which attitude the player most often takes, and will sometimes alter lines to reflect the dominant personality.
Dirty Cop: Captain Jeven, until he gets jailed for corruption.
Disproportionate Retribution: If you supported Bhelen for the throne of Orzammar in Origins, the sequel reveals that he apparently had all of House Harrowmont murdered for opposing him, save for one nephew who is now on the run. If Hawke helps Renvil Harrowmont escape Kirkwall, it's revealed that Bhelen's assassins continue to hound him as far as Rivain.
Lord Renvil Harrowmont: Bhelen's reach is long … and his vengeance a terrible thing to behold.
If you choose to spare Anders, Sebastian will inform you that he intends to raise an army and burn the entire city of Kirkwall to the ground.
Distracted by the Sexy: Bethany, if you bring her and Sebastian with you for Mark of the Assassin, will get distracted by his smiling.
Doom Magnet: Hawke. It's even worse because most of it is unintentionally his/her fault.
Hawke: Just once, I'd like to go one week without an insane mage. One week.
In Legacy, Hawke will remark that s/he wants to go someplace peaceful for once, like a beach. If Varric is in the party, he'll respond that the day Hawke goes to the beach is the day that an angry armada of demon pirates shows up.
Downer Ending: The story does not end well, though you can probably figure that out due to the framing device. The mages and templars are now closer to all-out war, several innocent lives are lost in the crossfire (some of which are caused by Hawke, depending on player choices), all of Hawke's companions save his/her love interest are forced to abandon him/her, and Hawke, the one person who could conceivably put the whole thing right again, has gone missing.
Even Anders' destruction of the Chantry was fruitless, since it DIDN'T start the war he wanted it to, it takes 3 more years for an entirely different crisis to start it.
Varric: Nobody said this was going to be a happy story.
Dummied Out: Vigilance, the Infinity+1 Sword from Awakening, is in the game files, but is unobtainable. This is actually pretty funny, since the epilogue of Awakening states that the sword is continually being stolen and passing from one owner to another; maybe you can't obtain it in this game because someone stole it.
Access to the game itself ended up hinging (at least temporarily) on the status of your account on the official forums. If banned, users are reporting they can no longer access the game.
To specify, the game requires online authentication before starting the first time, and a user was prevented from authenticating by a ban on his EA forum account. EA claimed that this was an unintentional side effect, and resolved the incident fairly quickly.
A "Release Control" program made by the same team behind SecuROM (and attributed to Sony - take THAT how you will) was also found, and showed up as SecuROM on initial scans. The behavior, according to official statements, is supposed to be a time check against EA's own servers to enforce a street date, and after that check passes successfully, it is supposed to delete itself (failing the check would prevent the game from loading). The presence of this is never mentioned in the End User License Agreement. Remaining traces of it can be deleted after the check passes with no impact whatsoever.
Dual Wielding: Rogues retain this ability from Origins, warriors lose it.
Duel to the Death: Hawke can face the Arishok in single combat to determine the fate of Kirkwall.
Dwindling Party: It's impossible to hold on onto everyone by the end game, since one of your siblings dies in the prologue, and the other will always leave you after the Deep Roads. Also, some party members' choices are exclusive of each other's by that point, such as Sebastian and Anders over whether or not you kill Anders for his actions. Depending on who you side with, you may lose the ability to get Bethany or Carver back (although you'll never fight them), you may have to fight Merrill and Anders if you side with the Templars, or you may lose Fenris and Aveline if you side with the mages unless you manage to max out either their friendship or rivalry bar. Also, it's possible to lose Fenris, Anders, Merrill and Isabela during their personal quests before that as well. By the end of the game, you can theoretically lose everyone except Varric.
Dynamic Entry: The Vendetta skill from the Duelist specialization fulfills all three criteria for this trope. It's a Flash Step behind the opponent with a rather large range, and can hit For Massive Damage even without upgrades.
Dysfunction Junction: As is traditional, the party is comprised of people just filled with psychological issues. Quite possibly the worst case in any Bioware game to date.
Easy Evangelism: The Qunari are shockingly successful at acquiring converts. Even the Qunari themselves are surprised. The group in Kirkwall is composed entirely of soldiers, and they aren't actively evangelizing at all since there is an entire separate caste dedicated to that. This makes the more fanatical members of the Chantry attempt to start a war with the Qunari.
Eldritch Location: Kirkwall is famous for having the Veil be notoriously thin thanks to the horrors of the Tevinter Magisters. This explains why so many mages get possessed there in particular. The Primeval Thaig may well count as well; it was built by prehistoric dwarves and full of red lyrium and ancient creatures Varric assumed were myth. Also see Alien Geometries above.
Its also implied that Corypheus, an Ancient Tevinter Magister turned Darkspawn likewise might be responsible, even though he's been asleep in his Grey Warden prison in the Vimmark Mountains for the past 1000 years.
The Raiders of the Waking Sea are an armada of pirates who fought to protect Kirkwall during the Qunari invasion. After the Qunari were stopped, they went back to piracy.
Also, during the Qunari uprising, Meredith and Orsino are forced to cooperate to save Kirkwall. She will also overlook mage Hawke's abilities for the time being.
Orsino says that he views his coverup of Quentin as this. He is fully aware that Quentin and his experiments are pure evil, but he also fears that, if Quentin's crimes were ever made public knowledge, Meredith would use him as justification for furthering her mage oppression agenda. Of course, this doesn't explain why Orsino didn't simply leave Quentin facedown in a sewer...
In the Mage ending, Carver (if he's still alive) and Cullen (if you treated him nicely enough) will assist you in the final battle once it becomes clear how far off the deep end Meredith's fallen.
Et Tu, Brute?: Like you wouldn't believe, making this something of a Crapsack Game. Merrill, Isabela, Varric, Aveline, and Fenris will ALL betray you to one of the fade demons if given the chance. Even if you're best friends and/or lovers. Isabela will betray you at the end of chapter 2 (after revealing she's been lying to you all along), but if you have exceptionally high friendship with her she will come back later on... after her actions result in a massacre and a small war. Fenris and Aveline may leave you if you side with the mages in the final chapter, and Merrill and Anders may leave if you side with the templars.
Not to mention Sebastian, who, if you do not execute Anders after the Chantrysplosion, not only leaves you, but swears to raise an army and burn Kirkwall to the ground until he finds and kills the mage.
Everyone Is Bi: The only party member that can only be romanced by one gender is Sebastian. The only ones that can't be romanced at all are Varric (who likes to say his heart belongs to Bianca), Aveline (who can be flirted with for a while but ultimately falls for someone else), and your sibling (who is your sibling).
Evil Versus Evil: While the conflict starts off grey, the mage/templar conflict becomes this in the end, with Orsino becoming a blood mage that aids and abets serial killers, and Meredith a Knight Templar driven mad by the lyrium idol.
On the other hand, particularly honourable mage apostates such as Malcolm Hawke (and possibly Hawke him/herself) seem to Take a Third Option, instead believing this simply means that magic is merely a tool to be used to serve others, but should never be abused for one's own personal benefit.
Eye Scream: Oh man, yeah. Arrows, knives... not for the squeamish.
If you look closely at Ketojan, you might notice blood spatter on his mask directly underneath his eyes, which has some disturbing implications.
Face-Heel Turn: Any of the non-rogues can turn against you in the finale - Merrill and Anders if you side with the Templars, Fenris and Aveline if you side with the mages. If you've reached friend or rival status with someone, they will stay at your side regardless, with the exception of Anders, whose support for the mages is so fanatical, he will never side with the Templars.
A crisis point was found for Anders which suggests that at full rivalry, with certain dialogue options selected, he could have been convinced that blowing up the Chantry and being possessed by Justice were both wrong, and he would side with the Templars if Hawke asked. His writer has said on the official forums stated this is supposed to be in the final game. It is only through a recent patch that this has been made achievable.
Failure Is the Only Option: Basically the whole main plot. No matter how much Hawke tries to prevent the catastrophe, every main story quest ends with the worst possible outcome and the world spiraling deeper down into madness.
Varric himself heavily implies that the Civil War was inevitable, no matter what happened or what anyone did to prevent it. The game's events only added the final fuels to the fire that accelerated Thedas into the war.
Fake Action Prologue: The game starts off with a playable action sequence of Hawke and one of his/her siblings (a warrior or a rogue will have Bethany, and a mage will have Carver) fighting off two groups of darkspawn plus an ogre, but this particular scene reveals itself to be made up by Varric, who narrates the story of Hawke for Cassandra. During this playable sequence, the player character's health meter constantly regenerates, is wearing the Armor of the Champion (which you don't get until the final act), and his/her abilities' cooldown times are very short.
Also, Bethany's breasts are considerably larger, should you choose a warrior or a rogue Hawke.
Fantastic Racism/Fantastic Slurs: Many of the native Free Marchers resent the influx of Fereldan refugees into their city. Just walking around Kirkwall will net Hawke a fair number of nasty comments and there are several quests where Hawke is targeted by thugs because of his/her nationality. The favoured slur against the Fereldan refugees is "Dog-Lord", due to the country's infamous affiliation with mabari hounds.
Otherwise, all other prejudices established in the first game carry over:
Elves are sneaky and poor, forced to live in the alienage, often called "Knife Ears".
The elves return it right back towards humans. "Shemlen" (or its shorter form "Shem"), which in elvish means "Quick Children," is often uttered in an insulting way among both Dalish and City Elves.
Everyone sees the Qunari as brutish monsters while the Qunari themselves subvert this trope, hating those who don't follow the Qun rather than for a racial issue. Those who convert to the Qun are welcomed with open arms, regardless of race.
Although some Qunari, such as the Avaraad, get instantly hostile when they realise they are dealing with "Bas-sarebaas", human and elven mages, accusing them of being demons trying to poison their minds before attacking.
From the loading screen, no less. "Never play cards with Qunari, you can never tell when they're bluffing. And never play with Elves, they never pay their debts. And never play with Dwarves, they kill you when they lose."
A few times the Qunari are referred to as "Ox-men", due to their horns. Their stubborn disposition might also be a reason.
There is Fantastic Prejudice against mages, especially since magical ability is inherited through blood.
The Farmer And The Viper: In Act 1 you run into an escaped mage named Grace. During the game you have a chance to save her life at least twice. But by Act 3, she's infiltrated a team of mages and Templars who both want to rebel against Meredith. She finally shows her true colors when she kidnaps your sibling (if they survive) and tries to kill him/her. And when you fight her, she reveals that she's been possessed by a pride demon.
It's a little less sudden if, after you take the choice to let her escape, you notice while going to the herbalist in the Gallows or near the area that Grace and Alain are standing around by a wall (despite the fact that Grace should be far away by now). When you talk to them, Grace seems to adamantly believe you must have ratted her out regardless, as otherwise there'd be no way the Templars would have caught them, and reacts very bitterly at your presence.
Fate Worse Than Death: Oh so many - becoming tranquil, becoming possessed by demons, becoming a prisoner of one's own insanity, the eventual effect of taint exposure (either becoming a mindless ghoul or simply dying a slow, painful death). Many a Mercy Kill is performed to spare people from this, the first one seen being Aveline's husband Wesley.
The fate of those who are captured by the Qunari but refuse to convert to the Qun may also qualify. Y'see, the Qunari don't kill their captives. Those who refuse to submit to the Qun are put through something called "qamek" which turns them into mindless laborers. The Qunari waste nothing. Fenris flat-out says he would never have turned Isabela over to the Qunari because he knows exactly what they do to their prisoners.
Felony Misdemeanor: When Gamlen tries to raise the issue of rent, Leandra (fairly) points out that her children had to work in unsavoury jobs to pay off his debts (and get them into the city); however, she is also outraged by the fact that she might have to pay rent at all. While Gamlen is at fault for losing the estate and money, Leandra and her children are living in his hovel, and wouldn't have even set foot in Kirkwall had it not been for the Blight. He also remains there even after they move into the Hightown mansion.
Fetch Quest: Inversion; unique valuables can be discovered in the course of adventuring, and the quest rewards are for locating the individuals who want them.
First Girl Wins: Averted. During Act I, you receive a letter (although it's addressed to Carver) from a young girl back in Lothering named Peaches. If Hawke is male, the letter makes it very clear that she had a massive crush on him, but her feelings remain unrequited, as Hawke never returns to Ferelden after the Blight (and ultimately ends up with someone else if the player chooses to pursue an LI). If Hawke is female, the letter tells that she was Carver's girlfriend, but he slept with her and then never talked or wrote to her after the Blight. And he never ends up returning to Ferelden, either.
However, it can also be played straight (or averted again) with Merrill and Isabela, the female party members you recruit in Act I after the prologue.
Flash Step: Several Rogue talents behave like this, such as Backstab and Back-To-Back. It is also said that Mages who teleport are using this.
Flavor Text: Possibly due to rushed release, item lore, abundant in Dragon Age: Origins, is completely and frustratingly absent, except for some special items who get Codex entries. Expect to find items like the "Sword of Pandemonic Knickers" or "The Archon's Sneeze" without any explanation why they're named so. Some items with special properties merely have generic names like "Amulet", "Ring" or "Sword".
A component Anders needs for the ritual to separate himself from Justice is called sela petrae, and can be found growing on sewage. A chemistry student begins to recognize saltpeter, which fits. The ritual isn't a removal. It's a bomb. Another component, drakestone, is most likely sulfur.
Another thing to note is after you've distracted the headmistress of the Chantry at the end of the quest, she notices a troubled Anders and hopes that his visit to the Chantry has given his soul a "balm."
In that same vein, at the beginning of the Justice quest, it's possible to ask Anders about the components of his potion. At one point he says "just mix the ingredients together and boom...Justice and I are free."
The loading screen for the Templar's hall is a graphic of Meredith being consumed by darkness. The previously warm color scheme now swamped with black makes her eyes glow red, much like in the end battle.
The banter between Sebastian and Anders contains some pretty blatant examples, most obviously the conversation Sebastian initiates discussing Anders' plans to become a martyr if he has to. He also potentially approaches Hawke with his concerns about how far Anders is willing to go. He's right.
Sebastian: Don't think he won't choose his cause over you.
The first scene in the game has Cassandra leafing through Varric's book, which has a page with stylised portraits of Hawke's eventual companions.
Players keeping an eye out for notes find several, collectively referred to as "The Enigma of Kirkwall", discussing oddities about the seemingly random street placements and mass human sacrifice with no appreciable gain, leading to the conclusion that someone was attempting a massive spell in the area. It's eventually revealed that the Veil in the area's so thin that demons have begun possessing Templars, mages are spontaneously turning into abominations and learning blood magic with remarkable ease, and the Qunari steadily grow more enraged despite many overtures to peace with them. It could also more readily explain why Justice was corrupted into Vengeance, since Anders was previously more concerned about escaping the Templars than fighting them. While the intention of The Plan behind the spells in Kirkwall remain unclear, it has a definite effect by the game's end.
In Act 1 during The First Sacrifice quest, if you choose the "Why should I care?" option when talking to Emeric about tracking down a serial killer, he comes out with this gem. Cue Act II...
Emeric: Imagine if it was someone you loved.
If you interact with the Chanter near the Chanter's Board in Act 1, she says "And Andraste did say, 'Those who harm the house of the Maker do harm unto the Maker Himself.'" A small nod to the immense amount of harm the house of the Maker is in for.
In Act 2, you may notice a woman named Evelina standing next to Tomwise in Darktown begging for money to feed her starving children. You don't gain anything for giving her money or not. She later turns out to be a Blood Mage that is taking children under her care. In Act 3, she turns into an abomination, and you have no choice but to kill her.
A little gem from some banter between Isabela and Anders:
Isabela: You want to free the mages. Let's say you do, but to get there you kill a bunch of innocent people.
An example that ends up straight or subverted: during Varric's exaggerated intro, Carver is wearing Grey Warden armor. While this does foreshadow a possible fate for Carver, it's not the only one, and it's the player's choices that determine whether it's accurate.
That's because Varric is just repeating what the rumors say. If that does happen, Cassandra says, "So the Champion's brother WAS a Grey Warden!", indicating that this was part of the legend.
During the confrontation over the elf Qunari converts, the Arishok asks what Hawke would do in his place - which is it how all ends if Isabela comes back. After the Qunari leave, Meredith sees the cheering nobles and briefly gives Hawke a seriously nasty look before naming them Champion.
When questioning Isabella over her lost ship, she mentions being run aground by the reef. A rumour at the Hanged Man mentions how the Qunari dreadnaught was said to be fighting another ship before both were run aground by the reef.
Trying to take Isabella with you whenever you enter the Qunari compound will lead to her making an excuse and running away. It's obvious that something's up but you won't find out what until the end of Act 2.
During Varric's companion quest "Questions and Answers" early during Act I, you can ask him what kind of person Bartrand is and Varric tells you that he's the kind of dwarf that would sell his own mother if it would mean a better share in the lyrium market. Then, at the end of Act I, Bartrand betrays his own brother without so much as a second thought, simply because he doesn't want to share the profits.
In Varric's Act 2 companion quest "Family Matters", Bartrand reveals he sold the idol to a woman who "glittered like the sun, but [whose] heart was cold as ice". It doesn't make a lot of sense then, but once you'll get to know Meredith, it will.
Framing Device: Cassandra, a Chantry Seeker with an "interest" in Hawke, is holding the dwarf Varric, a merchant prince and acquaintance of Hawke's, in custody. He is telling her the story of Hawke's rise to power, as the current state of the world and the Chantry have been affected by him/her. Throughout the story, they give commentary on Hawke's past actions, thereby alerting the player to any changes their decisions may have made before the end of the game.
One has to wonder if the story has parts where Varric tells how Hawke spends several minutes examining and comparing several pieces of equipment in minute detail.
The DLC later expands on this concept, with Legacy and Mark of the Assassin acting as parts of the story that Varric apparently left out until Cassandra coaxed him into revealing the details.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the ending, one of the book's pages has a drawing of a woman who strongly resembles Morrigan as well as an image for Flemeth. There is also a gag of Shale chasing birds in the same sequence.
From Bad to Worse: Dear Maker, does it get worse. First, you're forced to flee from the Blight into a city that's not enthusiastic about the influx of refugees, then Kirkwall is invaded by angry Qunari, and finally, you find yourself caught in the middle of a Civil War between mages and Templars that threatens to engulf not just Kirkwall, but the entire continent of Thedas.
This occurs in droves with the Hawke family: at the start of the game, the player character can opt to state that, "Whatever happens, we must stick together," but by game's end you've lost at least one sibling and your mother, with the other sibling either lost to the Grey Wardens, lost to their class-relevant faction, or dead. Either way, Hawke is more or less alone within his/her own family.
Gameplay Ally Immortality: Any friendly characters who are not part of the party cannot die in combat. They will still usually have a health bar, but if it runs out nothing happens.
Dog is an exception. While he functions as a friendly character who is not part of the party, he is technically a sustained ability. But even so, he merely despawns when he "dies", sustains no injuries and can be summoned again after a short cooldown.
No one ever seems to recognize people wearing robes and carrying mage staffs as mages until they start casting spells, if even then.
Fenris will glow by default when shown in combat during cut scenes (like in his personal quests), but this won't start happening in-game until/unless you start filling out his specialization branch.
A possibly amusing one would be if one's warrior!Hawke takes part in the "run in a figure 8 around the pillars during the fight with the Arishok while you keep bombing him with tar bombs and combustion grenades in the midst of slashing/bashing at him" tactic; the cut scene and people react as if Hawke charged head-on into the fray, when during gameplay it's more or less a desperate run for life until Hawke finally drains the Arishok of all his health.
Gateless Ghetto: You only get to explore rather limited districts of Kirkwall. Considering the extensiveness of the city's infrastructure, it must be several times larger than shown to keep itself running.
Gay Option: With the exception of Sebastian, who is a straight male and celibate, all love interests can be romanced regardless of Hawke's gender.
Genre Blindness: Initially appears played straight, especially when Hawke is a mage. Robe on your shoulders, staff on your back, yet no one knows you're a mage unless you tell them. Even the ones trained and posted to watch them on a daily basis. However, by Act III it's fairly clear that Hawke and/or Anders are well-known magic users, but are deliberately left alone due to Hawke's social status and Varric's bribes. Though it's still played straight if Hawke is a blood mage, as no one ever calls him/her on it, even if constantly accusing other mages of it.
Varric: 'I don't like this'? [[Tempting Fate That's right up there with 'What could possibly go wrong?'...
Genre Shift: Combat is much faster paced and less tactical than the first game. In terms of story, it has a smaller scale focus, is more episodic, and has a much larger emphasis on humor. Sort of the difference between The Lord of the Rings and Buffy the Vampire Slayer if they were in the same universe.
Gilligan Cut: During the Mark of the Assassin DLC, when Hawke and Tallis get thrown into the dungeon, Hawke can state that his two (currently free) companions will get them out. Cut to the two companions... hopelessly lost.
Made even funnier if the other two party members are Anders and Fenris, because not only are they hopelessly lost, they're too busy arguing to make a real attempt at finding Hawke.
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!: Many mages believe it's better to die fighting for their freedom than live in the Circle or be made Tranquil. It's suggested Anders blows up the Chantry to force mages to rebel or let themselves be killed.
A Glitch in the Matrix: During "Night Terrors", you have to break Feynriel out of two "demon dreams" like the ones from the first game's Fade quest. Outright telling him it's a trick will freak him out, as will playing along once he realizes everything's too good to be true. The best results come from pointing out loose threads and then letting him pull on them.
Gondor Calls for Aid / Chekhov's Army: Implied. The Seeker is helping the Chantry to seek out both Hawke and the Warden (the PC from the previous game) to put an end to the war between the Templars and mages. Hawke is a "Champion" to the people of Kirkwall, and seen as a freedom fighter for defying the tyrannical Meredith. S/He may also be an inspiration to mage rebels (especially if Hawke is a mage him/herself), or respected among certain Templars, depending on which faction s/he chose to aid. Meanwhile, the Warden is the commander of an elite military order (and might even be royalty, depending on what choices were made) who's most famed for raising an army and stabbing a dragon to death to end an invasion. Is it safe to assume that the two banding up to form The Cavalry is an option for the next game?
Go Through Me: When Meredith goes off the deep end, Cullen tells her she'll have to go through him to get to Hawke, regardless of which side Hawke picked. If Carver joined the Templars, he does this too.
The Guards Must Be Crazy: The guards at Chateau Haine in Mark of the Assassin are highly susceptible to distraction by thrown pebbles and curiously unconcerned about waking up on the floor after having been sapped unconscious: "Damned blackouts, keeping me off patrol..."
Guide Dang It: A couple of the loot-based achievements require you to find items that are only available in one specific area for a very limited amount of time (and you can't go back without reloading). Most notably To get all 4 volumes of "The History of the Chantry" you have to grab the third volume during a literally couple-second long break in the action during the battle at the Chantry during the "Following the Qun" quest in Act II. If you're not in exactly the right place when the battle concludes and quick enough to highlight and grab the book (it's on the central altar) in the three seconds before the next cutscene starts, too bad. There's also the option of selecting it during the battle, which is a far easier method. Still ridiculously frustrating.
The events of Act II's finale depend heavily on how friendly you are with one previously plot-unimportant party member and whether or not you brought along another, mostly unrelated party member (though you may realize who it is if you befriended them andplayed the first gameand befriended a particular party member then as well). Fenris hates the Tevinter magisters and mentions in his quest Questioning Beliefs that he's from Seheron. Sten, your Qunari companion from the first Dragon Age, also hates the Tevinter magisters and is from Seheron, though he'll only mention this after you've befriended him quite well. That similarity may be enough to cue you in to the fact that Fenris knows a thing or two about Qunari, even if you didn't bring him along for your first meeting with the Arishok.
Harder Than Hard: Nightmare, whose key feature is enabling friendly fire. Better turn off those auto-cast area-effect spells in your companions' tactics menus.
Headbutting Heroes: Several party members make it quite clear that they loathe each other and only work together out of loyalty to Hawke. This is especially evident with Fenris and the party mages.
Anders does a really good job of getting on Sebastian's bad side. It gets to the point where Sebastian is flabbergasted as to how Anders has friends at all.
The Heart: Grand Cleric Elthina is the main reason that everyone in Kirkwall hasn't killed each other. Then Anders blows up the Chantry with her in it. Then the Mage-Templar War happens.
The Hero Dies: Conversed. According to Varric, the hero dying makes for a good story. Hawke doesn't.
Though he was talking about Anders when he brought it up... See the second entry below.
Heroic Sacrifice: Marethari pulls off one of these out of love, in order to save Merrill from being possessed by a Pride Demon.
Depending on your point of view/actions during the game, Anders either attempts to pull one of these off and fails, or he succeeds rather terribly.
Heroic Second Wind: In the "Destiny" trailer, Hawke is about to be killed by the Arishok when he draws a rune on his arm, and sees a series of flashbacks. He then proceeds to wipe the floor with the Arishok. Which involves him apparently putting his flaming arms into portals, which then come out of portals above and behind the Qunari, much larger, while Hawke's eyes glow in a not-good way This is also a skill of a Warrior, where if fully upgraded, you can recharge your stamina and recharge your skills faster.
A non-mage Hawke accomplishes this as well, assuming s/he faces Idunna without a mage in the party.
Hero of Another Story: Several of the cameos. You only run into the Grey Wardens during Act II's climax because they were in the area on a secret mission - likewise, Nathaniel never explains what his expedition in Act III was for. Zevran has stopped hiding from the Crows to go on the offensive, and is close to overthrowing the whole organization.
Highly-Visible Ninja: The first rogue set is a muted greytone suited to lurking the city night, but second set is a foppish affair topped with a...Nice Hat. And the Rogue Champion outfit is veryred.
Home Base: You start off with your uncle's house, and upgrade to a mansion as the game progresses. All party members have their own bases around Kirkwall, where you visit them to talk and get their personal quests.
Hope Spot: Lots. There are a few that are particularly noteworthy. Such as finding the serial killer. Look, your mom's getting up! You made it! She's still ali- dear Maker. What's this, you've defeated the Pride Demon and the Keeper is going to be okay? That's amazing! Let's have a group hug! Oh, we might be able to find some kind of compromise between the mages and the Templars? Excellent! No more bloodshe- DAMMIT ANDERS.
Isabela: So how is your Donnic? Is he cocksure? Did he curl your toes? Pudding your peach? Arl your Eamon? Shank your Jory? Grey your Warden? Praise your Maker? How about "satisfy a demand of your Qun"?
Hypocrite: It seems all the major powers in Thedas like to harp about the dangers of magic as justification for their oppression of mages, but all are willing to have them develop their gifts in order to use them, whether to enchant weapons, make potions, or provide artillery fire on the battlefield. Even the Qunari do it.
Mage!Hawke can be played like this if s/he sends every stray mage back to the Circle with the justification that all mages should be controlled. All mages except him/her, apparently. Even moreso if Hawke is a blood mage.
During the quest "Finders Keepers," Hawke may refuse to reveal the location of Martin's cargo because he's dealing in poison. But Hawke can use poison in virtually every battle within the game, providing the player's pockets are deep enough.
Sebastian probably takes the palm, here. He goes to build up an army and promises to kill everybody in Kirkwall. Why? Because you let a murderer live.
He also had previously patronized Varric for letting his desire for revenge over Bartrand govern his life.
Orsino also counts, considering how he always preaches that he and the Circle are not guilty of Meredith's accusations and in reality he covered a sick mass murderer (responsible for the death of Hawke's mother and many other women) and secretly studies Blood Magic which ultimately turns him into a Harvester.
Hypocritical Humor: During an Act II quest, you'll have to go into an alley full of poisonous gas, there's a guard there warning people away.
Hawke: Yes, everybody should listen to him. Now, if you'll excuse me. [walks past]
Varric:Why couldn't they call it "The Pie Fields?" Everyone likes pie.
I Have You Now, My Pretty: Kirkwall's Templars are willing to make their charges Tranquil for this purpose - or use the threat of being made Tranquil for the same result. Danarius also gives off this vibe, as confirmed by the devs.
I Lied: Said word-for-word, even. If you press Anders for a reason when he asks Hawke to help him get into the Chantry unseen — something that very much does not mesh with his previously-stated purpose of creating a potion to separate himself from Justice. Hawke can demand to know if there was ever any potion at all. Anders flat-out admits that he lied.
Impractically Fancy Outfit: Inverted to hell and back when Hawke acquires The Mantle of the Champion. It's only lightly armoured and in some places the robes appears to be torn, ragged and fraying at the edges, which is exactly what you'd expect from armour that's been in a lot of battles.
Incest Is Relative: Gamlen wants to know details about a Lady Hawke/Isabela relationship. Has he forgotten Hawke is his niece?
Well it's pretty clear that Hawke is not the one that he'sfantasising about.
Incredibly Lame Pun: Oof, loads of these. For instance, a belt you get after killing a ghost of a golem (figure that one out) is called the "Rock Band". Heh.
Inherent in the System: While there are external forces at work as well, it's repeatedly pointed out that the Chantry's current system of handling mages is at best a merciful form of slavery and at worst a dehumanizing existence that causes many problems it's supposed to prevent. For every good Templar like Thrask, there are as many like Alric: corrupt, fanatical or both with life and death power over mages. The mages themselves are just as dangerous as the Templars say they are, but many see the The Dark Side of their powers as the only way out of a belief system that tells them how much the Maker hates them and guarantees them second-class citizenship (said belief system being formed from the dissenters of a mage-ruled empire may be a factor for this). See Vicious Cycle below.
The Arishok's critique of Kirkwall's system deepened into bitterness because he was bound there by a system of his own. And as brutal and ugly as that system appears to outsiders, the Qunari could never do anything but insist on its rightness - even the Saarebas immolating himself. A Tal-Vashoth in the Hanged Man in the 3rd act seemed almost as disillusioned with himself for being rid of the Qun.
Injured Vulnerability: The Massacre upgrade of the Warrior-Vanguard skill tree lets the character kill any normal enemy whose health is below 20% (and Elite Mooks with health under 10%) in a single blow.
Tallis: How can ham taste like despair? Why would anyone eat it if it did?
Insult of Endearment: Prim-and-proper Aveline keeps calling the Pirate Girl Isabela "whore", at first with disdain (though Isabela doesn't mind the moniker) but as the two women come to know and accept each other, "whore" becomes Aveline's term of affection of sorts for Isabela, which she now actively enjoys from her.
Likewise, Isabela initially insults Aveline's statuesque features with the nickname "Big Girl". By Act 3 it has clearly evolved into a compliment.
Some mountainous areas restrict Hawke's movement via the dreaded insurmountable ankle-high rocks.
Interface Spoiler: Weeks before BioWare announces any details whatsoever on the first major batch of DLC and the achievements for it are up, revealing it's about something called Vimmark Mountains, including cave systems and a prison tower.
Internal Affairs: The Seekers are this for the Templars, as one of them interrogates a dwarf in order to find the Champion of Kirkwall. Given the events that occur, this game serves as a study for what happens when IA does nothing or acts far too late.
Irony: Meredith in particular doesn't appreciate the irony that Kirkwall, known Thedas-wide as a Templar stronghold and powerhouse of their influence, can decide to crown Mage Hawke as their Champion.
Ironic Echo: A very subtle example in the phrase "there can be no peace." It's first said by Flemeth after Wesley's death in the prologue, and is repeated word for word by Anders, after he destroys the Chantry.
"It" Is Dehumanizing: The Qunari word for all non-Qunari is "bas," which literally means "thing." Their word for mage is "saarebas," which literally means "dangerous thing." Unsurprisingly, they treat outsiders poorly and mages worse.
Jerkass: A lot of characters come of this way in your dealings with them, but of all people Hawke (especiallya SnarkyHawke) sometimes seems to act like a sociopathic schadenfreude. Of particular note is after sleeping with Anders and he pours his heart out to you and asks to move in, a Snarky Hawke's response (complete with dirty smirk) is as follows, if Anders gets rejected.
Hawke: This was a bad idea. I think you should go.
Hawke: Sorry. You just weren't that good.
Jerkass Has a Point: While Fenris's endless rants about the dangers of magic can be annoying, the game's plot does show that he's not exactly wrong about how dangerous magic can be if used incorrectly or maliciously.
Kick the Dog: It's been known that the Tevinters were nasty folk to their slaves, but some of the legends of slave treatment depict downright gratuitous cruelty on the part of the slavemasters.
Varric also mentions how he always pictured Bartrand as a "Kick a puppy" kind of bad guy.
Sers Karras and Alrik, oh so much.
The player has the chance to do this from time to time, though not nearly so much as in the first game.
Kill 'em All: Can happen with the Dalish clan in Act III. If you fail to choose the "correct" dialogue option[[note]It's the bottom choice, if you're wondering.[[/note]] after Keeper Marethari is killed, they will attack, and the party will be forced to wipe out the entire clan.
Isabela: Don't forget to loot the bodies. Hawke: Do I ever?
Knight Templar: Aside from the more extreme Templars (especially Ser Alric, who wanted to make all mages Tranquil), every single person in Sister/Mother Petrice's faction of the Chantry fits this to a T. If you kill an innocent person because they're becoming "corrupted", and then try to shift the blame onto someone else in order to spark a holy war - this makes you a strong example of a Knight Templar.
Kraken and Leviathan: The artistic 'narration' cutscenes briefly depict a squid-like creature attacking one of the refugee ships in the prologue. Giant squid do exist in this universe, though since it is Varric telling the story, it should be taken with a grain of salt.
Lampshade Hanging: King Alistair hangs a lampshade on the fact that everyone calls your Warden from Origins "the Hero of Ferelden", after Teagan says that the Hero is waiting for them at Denerim:
Alistair: Must you always be so formal? S/he has a name, you know.
He will also comment, if Isabela is in your party, that she looks different. Isabela's reply makes sense both as a comment on the years that have passed and a nod to the graphical overhaul between games:
Isabela: Don't we all?
Bodahn mentions how odd it is that messages never arrive while you're at home.
Choosing a certain wry dialogue option with Merrill during the scene after her recruitment mission is completed brings up the following exchange
Hawke: I miss the cold. And the dirt. Kirkwall isn't brown enough for me.
Merrill: Ferelden wasn't THAT brown! The dirt and muck gave it character.
After his bodyguards are killed and he's looting the bodies, Javaris draws attention to You ALL Look Familiar ("Why do they look the same? Did I hire brothers?") and Randomly Drops ("Why can't I pick up his boots? They're right there!").
Carver questions whether the Qunari you meet are the same sort as Sten. "I don't remember the horns."
Last Second Ending Choice: Various characters (particularly Anders) repeatedly warn you that "there is no halfway" and everyone will have to pick a side eventually. True to their word, your relative standing with the Circle and the Templars prior to the final quest has precisely zero relation to the ending you get. That's decided by a single dialogue choice in a single conversation at the beginning of the quest.
When Carver discovers that his namesake was a Templar friend of his and Hawke's father, he asks if Hawke ever wonders where his/her name came from. Hawke replies, "I'm sure someone spent far too much time choosing my name."
Comments from a drunkard in the Hanged Man, such as the completely original "Do you ever feel like you're in a story someone else is telling?" And then there's:
Talkative Man: Do you ever feel like the world's getting...simpler? Like everything from eating to fighting is a lot less complex than it used to be?
When Isabela asks Varric why he has a nickname for everyone but none for himself he replies with:
Varric: Because it's my story.
One of Isabela's innuendos:
Isabela: [Does he] establish his canon?
A random bit of dialogue when examining the windows in Hawke's estate:
Hawke: I wonder where Varric is today. Telling stories about my exploits to anyone who will to listen, most likely.
Let's Dance: Said by Silly!Hawke to the Arishok when he/she accepts a duel with him.
Level In Reverse: Some of the 'dungeon' areas use the same geometry, except with start points and objectives moved around. It's pretty blatant as the minimap shows all of the geometry, even when the doors to the other areas won't open.
Level Locked Loot: Most equipment requires certain stats. Warrior equipment requires strength and constitution, Rogue equipment requires dexterity and cunning, and mage equipment requires magic and willpower.
Level Scaling: Affects enemies and most loot. The latter often results in randomly looted equipment outpacing its named but fixed-stat counterparts in terms of quality throughout the entire game. Towards the end, even a designated Infinity+1 Sword (e.g. Celebrant) will prove technically inferior to the "regular" swords you loot everywhere.
Level-Up at Intimacy 5: This and the inverse; for every possible companion there are perks to having a stronger, though not necessarily positive, relationship. Some of them also upgrade the player character.
Lightning Bruiser: If you play as a dual-wielding rogue you are this, to an extent. While you might not have as much HP as a warrior, you can still take a good amount of damage, and if you have the Speed buff activated, well...
A warrior using the 2H tree and the right buffs can pull this off too. Nothing like instant kill reaving dashes and whirlwinds against pretty much any non-elite enemy.
Ludicrous Gibs: Frequently. Very frequently, as critical hits that kill the target reduce them to flying chunks. Weapons with the "Messy Kills" enchantment also deal this. And class combos, especially AoE ones, result in so many, the party would need goggles to do battle. Varric's crossbow is the most egregious case, thanks to his naturally high critical hit chance, rapid firing speed, and high critical damage; pretty much anyone he points his crossbow at has a chance of exploding into a gory mess. Of course, he is the one telling the story.
Turns out that enemies exploding quite so often was unintentional, as in a recent patch the amount of explodium enemies appear to have consumed was somewhat reduced.
Luke, You Are My Father: Gamlen discovering that he has a daughter, Charade, as part of a certain side quest in Act III.
Lying Finger Cross: One of the dialogue option icons is a crossed finger, indicating a Lie option.
Macguffin Girl: Hawke and his/her surviving sibling become this in Legacy, since they're the only ones who can free Corypheus.
Magic Knight: While the Hawke in the Destiny trailer exaggerates the martial prowess of mages in this game (magical prowess too, for that matter), mages later in the game can equip some form of armor, and also use their staves to physically attack. On the plus side, Mages now have blades on the other end of their staves, which definitely is a welcome change from Origins where unless you were an Arcane Warrior, you'd have a hectic time in close-quarters combat. On the warrior side, two of the three specs involve magic of some sort: Templar and Reaver, meaning pretty much all Warrior!Hawkes will have at least a little touch of magic to them (it helps that Templars are less situational here than in Origins, since mages are more frequent as enemies). Fenris is probably the purest example, since his particular lyrium powers allow him to unleash spirit pulses and magically buff himself.
Malevolent Architecture: In a very literal sense during the final battle. The final boss brings the Gallows statues to life to combat you.
Master of Unlocking: Again, the rogue class is generally used for unlocking chests, and can increase their skills in doing so.
Matriarchy: Behind the scenes, outsiders might think Qunari society is this - the breeders (Tamassrans), administrators, financiers, builders, merchants, food distributors, bureaucrats, and much of the priesthood are all women. This is played with, as according to the codex, neither the men nor the women of the Qun see it this way. "The brain can be said to rule the body, but so does the heart, the arms, and the stomach. It is a part of the whole." The Tamassrans have their purpose and fulfill that, as do everyone else.
Moreover, only the Arigena (head of the craftswomen) is explicitly female. The Arishok (head of the military) is always male. The Ariqun (high priest of the Qun) apparently can be either. The Ariqun isn't necessarily their leader, but rather one third of a Triumvirate.
Meaningful Background Event: In Legacy, just before Hawke delivers the killing blow to Corypheus, his eyes briefly change colour and Janeka or Larius in the background is seen to briefly stumble, clutching at their head... a clear sign Corypheus is now possessing them.
Meaningful Echo: Carver can tell Hawke he's with them once in Act I and once in Act III, with radically different meanings each time.
Meaningful Name: During the showdown with Bartrand in the second act, the manservant who saw the events that led up to the current situation and informs the party is called Hugin, one of a pair of ravens that watched the events of the world and told Odin what was happening.
A letter for an Act III quest comes from a Reginald Thaddeus Spincter, concerning his daughter. Hmmmm...
Mercy Kill: This is a possible outcome for many quests dealing with people getting possessed by demons or corrupted. The most notable example (and the first to occur in the story) is Aveline or Hawke being forced to kill Wesley in the prologue, to spare him from suffering a drawn out, painful death from the darkspawn taint.
During Act II, you may have an Optional Sexual Encounter with your love interest. Depending on how you've handled this Act, this may very well occur right before the quest "All ThatRemains," especially if you're not following any particular guide and just quest until you've no choice but to return home, and since they both take place in your own home one will lead directly into the next. Particularly jarring if your LI is Isabela, due to what she may say at the end of the encounter - essentially, that love is messy.
Even within several individual quests things may suddenly shift, especially with a Sarcastic Hawke cracking decent jokes at very bad times.
This happens a lot with your companions, sometimes due to Friendship and Rivalry system (it can be especially obvious in party banter and talks with some companions like Fenris that they see you as a friend, or a rival, others will just use default phrases and sayings no matter what). However, a particularly off putting example is with Merrill, if you don't let her fix the mirror and are a rival, she will yell at you that she never wants to see you again. She has lost everything to fix the mirror, now she can't even do that, hates your guts and it really comes across the way she is basically holding back the tears as she shouts at you... you can then immediately have her back in your party and the naive and amusing banter continues...
The "On the Loose" sidequest that deals with three escaped mages in Act III is the epitome of this. Dealing with Emile de Launcet is a fairly lighthearted and hilarious little affair. Dealing with Huon insane Blood Mage who murders his wife to summon demons and Evelina insane abomination that you have to kill in front of her adopted children is horrifiying and heartwrenching. And you can deal with them in any order.
Morality Kitchen Sink: This game takes it even further than Origins, to the point that there is no Big Bad responsible for everything going wrong. Every major faction in the game is sympathetic to some degree and all of them are partially responsible for the Downer Ending. There are a few truly heroic and truly monstrous people, but they have surprisingly little impact on the setting as a whole.
More Than Mind Control: During an optional quest, demons will try this tactic on your party members to get them to turn on you. It works frightfully well, and the only one it doesn't work on is Anders due to his unique circumstances. Afterwards, the party members are apologetic, and you can decide to forgive them if you want.
Played straight with Anders if you bring him along in Legacy, where his Warden blood causes him to fall briefly under the sway of Corypheus, causing Hawke and his companions to have to subdue Justice in order for Anders to reassert control.
Varric: Yes, I know. And that nothing is costing me a fortune.
Also, despite being famous and armed to the teeth, bandits never decide against attacking you.
Worse, some of the characters will acknowledge in conversations that they know who you are and what you're capable of...and then attack you anyway.
Mutually Exclusive Party Members: Twins Bethany and Carver are mutually exclusive at the beginning of the game, and one will be shot down by Schrödinger's Gun. At the end, Anders and Sebastian become mutually exclusive if you have the Exiled Prince DLC.
My God, What Have I Done?: On Varric's personal quest, Bartrand says this if you bring Anders and he temporarily dispels his madness.
Also Anders, during "Dissent" when he murders/almost murders an innocent mage due to Vengeance/Justice. Hawke can call him out on it.
Hawke him/herself can have one when s/he realizes that s/he enabled Anders to create and plant the bomb that destroys the Chantry.
Mysterious Employer: The "Friends of Red Jenny" are simply that. Whether they know who Red Jenny is themselves, or if there is one, is left just as mysterious.
Mythology Gag: The Armor of the Fallen set is a Call Back to the Warden's Calling trailer for Origins. You can tell for three reasons: First, it has an armor set bonus, which is vanishingly rare in this game. Second, it looks identical to the armor in the trailer. And third, when you put on the complete set, your eyes glow.
If you bring Aveline along for Mark of the Assassin, you get a side quest called "The Du Lac Sign," which is one big reference to the Black Vials in Origins.
Varric: Who would deliberately go to a place called the Black Marshes?
Neck Snap: Fenris disposes of one of Danarius' minions this way.
A Qunari also kills a Kirkwall noble this way during the take-over of Kirkwall.
Nerf: Mages got hit hard by this, at least in nightmare when the only role they can consistently fill without causing a Total Party Kill due to friendly fire and the close quarters most fights take place in is healing. Conversely, Two-Handed warriors are now very powerful when correctly built.
Nested Story: There are a few parts of the game where Varric tells a story to Hawke or another character. This means that Varric is telling the seeker the story of how he once told a story.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Many of the From Bad to Worse moments in the game can be directly or indirectly blamed on the player and his/her party. The most notable examples are recovering the lyrium idol and providing Anders with the opportunity to destroy the Chantry.
Though let us not forget that the entire Qunari attack that led to the deaths of conservatively hundreds, likely far more, and the power vacuum of Act III itself, was a direct result of Isabela feeling snatchy one day.
And there's the possibility in Legacy that Hawke unwittingly allowed Corypheus to inhabit one of the Grey Wardens after defeating him.
No Mere Windmill: The Templars come across as Windmill Crusaders to an immigrant Hawke who has mage sympathies for one reason (Bethany) or another (himself/herself.) But mages repeatedly reveal mastery of forbidden magics to the point that Meredith begins to look almost reasonable for her anger at Orsino's denials. Conversely, and in keeping with the game's grayness, many of Anders' suspicions about the Templars are justified and they really do become excessively dictatorial. For example, the Tranquil Solution. In Act II, both Meredith and the Divine reject Alrik's proposal. By Act III, Meredith goes through with it, Tranquilizing Harrowed mages left and right, despite this being illegal in the laws of the Chantry.
Non-Lethal K.O.: Teammates who run out of hit points will get back up after combat.
Noodle Incident: What happened in Hawke's first year in Kirkwall working with either the Red Iron or the Smugglers. This includes a few Noodle Acquaintances, such as Lady Elegant, Tomwise and Worthy, all of whom apparently worked with and are on friendly terms with Hawke at the beginning of Act I. While Varric omits out part of the tale that are neither relevant or interesting, this omission is due in part to the fact that Varric himself only meets Hawke at the beginning of Act 1, thus likely isn't privy to first-hand knowledge of this period of Hawke's life.
Isabela apparently once spent over a fortnight in Aveline's brig for causing a brawl that lead to 20 people fighting in the street.
The last time that Isabela went digging for a stash she was certain contained the Relic;
Hawke: Yes, that turned out to contain several badly written poems and an old boot.
There's a nameless, easily-missed NPC who hangs around either outside the clinic or at the Docks at night. There's nothing to differentiate him from the random civilians except an unusual amount of lines, all of which revolve around some mysterious illness that no one, not even Anders, can seem to get rid of. No one in Lowtown will let him near the market, and apparently people stare at him as though he's Blighted. What the heck has this guy got?
The background between Leliana and Tallis. Their awkward reaction to each other upon meeting hints at a past they aren't willing to admit to.
No Sell: Mage Hawke can pull this off towards Idunna, the "Apostitute" working at the Blooming Rose, shaking off her use of Blood Magic.
Hawke: I will... NOT be... toyed with!
Notice This: Most containers and objects will have sparkles coming out of them. The ones that don't can still be highlighted by holding a key down. Which PC players will be doing for almost the entire game. Without a mod that turns it into a toggle, this game can be the cause of sore pinkies.
Merrill will mention to Anders that she'll give up on her mirror just as soon as he forgets all about the plight of mages.
Paragon/Snarky Hawke and the Qunari, which is frequently lampshaded.
In Act I, the Saarebas "Ketojan" notes that by hunting Tal-Vashoth and acting in the role of a guardian to mages, Hawke is bas-Avaraad, the Qunari equivalent to a Templar.
The Arishok notes in Act II that Hawke is what the Qunari would be without the guidance of the Qun to give them principles, ultimately deeming Hawke to be bas-alitan, an outsider worthy of respect.
Finally in Act III, upon retrieving lost blades for the Qunari Taarbas, he declares Hawke to be Ben-Hassrath and hands Hawke a Qunari weapon. It should be noted that to the Qunari, this has the symbolic value of one's own soul, and as we later learn that the Ben-Hassrath act as the defenders of the Qunari faith, this heavily implies they deem Hawke to be a Qunari.
Mark of the Assassin also has Tallis state that the goal the Qunari aspire to is to make the world a better place, which is exactly what Hawke earlier said they wanted for Kirkwall.
The Qunari and the Chantry extremists who want to destroy the "heathens." Never better shown than in the Escort Mission for the freed Saarebas in Act II: if the Sten sent to intercept them discovers that any member of Hawke's party is a mage, he will immediately try to kill them all to prevent their "evil" from "infecting" him.
Not So Stoic: The Qunari, despite appearing to rarely show emotion, can be seen as having a deadpan sense of humour, particularly in their interaction with a snarky Hawke.
The Arishok, whose veneer of being cool, calm, and collected at all times finally crumbles at the end of Act II, and he unleashes the full might of the Qunari ire against Kirkwall. First verbally, then for real.
Obfuscating Stupidity: The hallmark of most of Snarky!Hawkes' dialogue, often seemingly used to lure enemies into a false sense of security.
Oh Crap: Idunna, the blood mage working in the Blooming Rose, has this reaction if a mage companion breaks her control over Hawke.
Idunna: How did you ... Oh shit!
This is also the reaction of Orwald the Braggart if Hawke offers Aveline the opportunity to "have a word with him," causing him to realize that he just admitted to taking a bribe in front of the Captain of the Guard.
The reaction of the Templars when they realise that the red statue in front of Hawke is actually Meredith, frozen mid-scream with a look of complete horror on her face. And then again when they notice that now Hawke is glaring at them too. Cue all the Templars surrounding you beginning to back away... very slowly.
And the Grey Warden Janeka, when she finds out that controlling Corypheus is not as easy as she thought.
Oh My Gods!: A new one: "Flames," referring to Andraste's burning at the stake.
"To the Void" enters the lexicon as well, referring to the void that all souls must walk if they are not called to the Maker's side.
Bartrand once gives us the one-off "Andraste's tits!". Given as he was raised in Orzammar, he may well venerate the Ancestors, (unlike Varric, who is surface born and Andrastian), so this may well be a Dwarven slur to disparage Human religion.
Varric himself with his "Andraste's dimpled buttcheeks".
Carrying on the proud tradition from Origins, such as Shianni's "Andraste's ass, you'd think I'd learn some social graces."
If Hawke lets Fenris do the interrogation one optional quest, a slaver yells, "Andraste's great flaming arse!" Since Fenris has just stuck his hand in the guy's chest and rearranged his internal organs, this is understandable.
In Mark of the Assassin, Isabela gives us the line, "Andraste's Granny-panties".
Old Save Bonus: Saves from the last game can be carried over to influence events in this one. Otherwise the player chooses from three different builds: The Hero of Ferelden (Kills the Archdemon, survives and makes Alistair King), The Martyr (Dalish Warden who sacrifices herself and leaves the kingdom to Alistair and Anora) and No Compromises (Dwarven Warden-Commander who exiles Alistair, sacrifices Loghain to the Archdemon and makes Anora queen). Completing Dragon Age II with an save imported from Origins also grants the Epic achievement/trophy, which normally requires two playthroughs to be earned.
Ominously Open Door: How the investigation of the Harimman estate in Sebastion's companion quest begins. You find the inhabitants inside out of touch with reality in varying ways, culminating in the discovery of a demon below the mansion.
One-Hit Kill / One-Hit Polykill: Archers can instakill weaker opponents with a shot that overpenetrates, Punishing Lance. The skill is dramatically illustrated in Varric's cutscene.
One-Man Army: Every single party member. Varric offhandedly mentions at one point (less than halfway through the game) that Anders alone has killed 262 women, 583 men, assorted monsters and beasts, and at least two demons. And he's generally the healer of the group. Of course, Varric is an Unreliable Narrator, so who knows how it actually works.
Varric gets his own more traditional example in the exaggerated version of the storming of his brother's home.
Only Sane Man: Sebastian is the only who points out debating the Rite of Annulment as 'justice' is pointless when the culprit for the Chantry bombing is right there in front of them.
Open Secret: Maleficarum in the Gallows. The secret goes to the top.
Apostate mages are more common in Kirkwall than they ever were in Ferelden, and at least one (Anders) is using healing magic openly in the poorer quarters. This is deconstructed. They exist because Meredith is actually fairly reasonable early on and has bigger fish to fry; when she loses her mind, the Underground is almost completely wiped out.
By Act III everyone knows mage!Hawke is an apostate, and Meredith reminds you that her leniency only can go so far if you get too snarky with her. The only reason you haven't got imprisoned is your position in the nobility and it would hurt the Templars' standing with the people of Kirkwall if they imprisoned "The Champion." That, and she likely doesn't want to tangle with Hawke and Co, as even if she won her losses would be tremendous.
Our Dragons Are Different: In addition to importing the dragon lore established in Origins, Mark of the Assassin adds wyverns, a closely related species that does not get along with their cousins at all. Wyverns don't get anywhere near as big, alpha males being the size of the average drake, and they cannot breathe fire or fly, though they can jump huge distances. They breed like rats, however, and can spit a rather nasty venom.
Part Time Hero: Sarcastic Hawke. Their rousing speech effectively equates to "Wake up. Save the world. Go to the pub!"
Party of Representatives: Hawke's companions represent different parts of Thedas (though several of them have some history in Ferelden) and different stances on the central Mage / Templar conflict.
Pass the Popcorn: Anders will tell a Mage!Hawke that the mages in Kirkwall all look up to him/her for the hope of a better life, and that s/he should lead them. A Snarky!Hawke can reply that s/he doesn't want to lead, just to watch, with snacks.
When Aveline and Isabela heatedly argue in Hawke's manor before the Qunari crisis, Sarcastic Hawke rushes in asking if there are any good seats left.
Pet the Dog: The Black Emporium DLC adds a mabari hound, for the same purpose as Origins: to give everyone a literal dog-petting moment in their own idiom.
Several of your companions can do this literally in dialogue at Hawke's home. Apparently people come over just to visit Hawke's dog.
Point of No Return: Three of them, each one before the climactic ending of an act. The first two are clearly marked, with Bartrand / Aveline warning you to wrap up any other business you might have. The third isn't quite as obvious.
A lot of trouble could have been avoided if only the Arishok would have actually told the Viscount why he was staying in Kirkwall.
You would think that some time in the previous six years, Hawke might have mentioned to his/her mother to watch out for suitors sending white lilies.
Charade's attempt to attract the attention of her father Gamlen.
The alliance of mages and Templars against Meredith could have avoided being wiped out if they had approached Orsino or a mage-aligned Hawke instead of trying to threaten them into compliance without revealing their goals or identities.
While it's understandable why you'd keep it quiet, Malcolm, you could have prepared Hawke for Legacy by warning them that you were once were coerced by the Grey Wardens into reinforcing the seals that locked away an Ancient Darkspawn and that now your family's blood is the key to unlocking that prison.
Practical Taunt: It's part of the Warmonger talent tree and has an even better effect than in the first game, transferring all aggro towards other party members to the tank.
Pragmatic Villainy: Flemeth invokes this trope to refute Aveline's claim that she steals children. As if she didn't have better things to do!
Hawke sarcastically jokes about this when Anders asks for a favour in exchange for the Deep Roads maps.
Prestige Class: Simplified compared to the first game - each class has three possible specializations available from the start, but can only pick two (one at level 7, the other at 14). Each full-time companion has their own unique skill tree, while your sibling gets a specialization if they live past Act 1.
The Qunari as well, when they're relaxed. They do stand up straight when they want to be imposing, however.
Fenris is a less pronounced example. Compare his posture to, say, Merrill's.
Properly Paranoid: As you play the game, you see that the Templars' harsh methods are somewhat justified since blood mages really are extremely dangerous, but said paranoia also contributes to the Vicious Cycle.
While he quickly goes off the deep end, Anders is partially justified in his paranoia about the Templars. They might not all be the brutal fascists he claims they are, but there are many instances where they can act wantonly and chillingly brutal.
Protectorate: In Mark of the Assassin, Hawke explicitly states that Kirkwall is under their protection.
Putting on the Reich: Lacking the visual elements, but the Templars under Meredith (especially Ser Alrik) have significant thematic parallels with Nazi Germany.
Pyrrhic Victory: The endgame. Regardless of who you side with, the Mages are wiped out, the Templars take massive losses, and the city of Kirkwall is left in shambles. Neither side can claim a moral victory, as the leaders of both sides succumb to insanity and evil. And the incident acts as the trigger for a world war between Mages and Templars, ultimately wiping out anything that could be described as a "gain". As far as the individual endings are concerned:
The Mage Ending has Hawke kill the insane Meredith, become a heroic icon to mages everywhere, and get out of Kirkwall alive. However, Hawke is now a fugitive and has lost everything that s/he worked so hard to build over the last ten years.
In comparison, the Templar Ending has Hawke become the Viscount(ess) of Kirkwall. However, s/he is now ruling over a city in ruins thanks to the final conflict, and Hawke becomes a symbol of hatred and oppression to mages worldwide. Hawke's gains are ultimately undone by the ensuing world war between the Mages and the Templars.
The Queen's Latin: The Free Marches are a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Germany before it was a unified state, but everyone has an American or English accent, with the exception of the Irish-accented Dalish (and Merrill's Welsh accent). Similarly, Isabela is from Rivain, which seems influenced by Spain or Portugal, and Fenris is from the Byzantium-based Tevinter Imperium; both sound English. Orlesians and Antivans are the exception, as they all sound French/Spanish (although Antiva is more Italian).
Possibly subverted with Starkhaven, as they appear to have a Scottish accent. Although application of this in game is patchy at best.
Everyone seen from the Tevinter Imperium speaks with refined English accents, even though their names are always Latin.
Race Lift: There are a couple of mods that make Isabela white (even giving her blue eyes and blonde hair). Heated arguments have gone over to the moral integrity of such mods, with some believing it is a harmless cosmetic change or that she was actually a white woman who has been tanned by the sun, and others feeling it is insensitive and immoral.
It also contradicts canon. Isabela is from Rivain, which is one of the few places in Thedas where the population is consistently darker hued.
Isabela herself, of course, underwent a Race Lift in the other direction from DA:O to DA2
Random Encounter: Taken up several notches from Origins and much more heavily used. You frequently bump into improbably large hordes of thugs while wandering around the various sections of Kirkwall, especially at night.
Actually, clearing out the streets forms a side-quest in each Act, culminating with the option to finish them and their leaders off at their base. This is different from Random Encounters, but those do occur, outside of Kirkwall.
Interestingly, Fenris's personal quest progression hinges on you bringing him outside of Kirkwall and getting one of these.
Randomly Generated Loot: Resulting in regular random weapon drops routinely out-performing unique named weaponry that you have to gain through arduous side quests. This is stark contrast to Dragon Age: Origins, where only the most basic loot was randomized and all the high-level equipment was predefined and obtained under specific circumstances.
Redemption Demotion: Inverted with Merrill. Normally, she has only a small amount of HP, but if she opposes you in the Fade, she suddenly has more than many bosses.
Hawke: The "second child" act is getting pretty stale, Brother.
Carver: Try it from this side, always running after you. [...] That was a waste, huh? Could have found my fortune if Bethany was going to die on your watch anyway.
Hawke: Do you feel better getting that off your chest?
Carver: I... I suppose.
Hawke: [coldly] Good. Because I carry every death with me. If you want that weight, be sure you're ready to take it.
Relationship Values: Upgraded from Dragon Age: Origins. You can no longer gift-spam to make people like you, as gifts are unique items of special importance to certain characters. They can only be given to that character, and come with an accompanying conversation. In addition, negative approval is no longer disadvantageous to the player; companions with negative approval form a Rivalry with Hawke, which grants a different ability from a Friendship.
Word of God states that Rivalries are not inherently bad, either. The bond of companionship is just as strong, the only difference being that Hawke and the companion have opposing viewpoints. In certain cases where the companion is misguided, it could be argued that the most moral thing Hawke can do is to oppose them for their own good.
Rescue Romance: If you let Feynriel go to Tevinter, he will at one point save a noblewoman by mentally forcing her attackers to kill each other. Said noblewoman calls him “her love” and asks you to take her to him, so she can thank him properly.
Retcon: Leliana, Zevran and Anders are alive and well, even if you imported a save where they were dead. Anders at least has an excuse, in that Justice may be keeping him alive. Although this doesn't account for the possibility of you handing him over to the Circle without ever recruiting him properly, in which case he didn't do half the things he claims to have done, and never even met Justice.
According to a dev on the BioWare forums, Zevran was meant to stay dead. If this is not the case, then it's the result of a save import bug.
Justice was bound to the body of the deceased Warden Kristoff and served for many years in the Grey Warden ranks, post-Awakening, before presumably departing back into the Fade. By Act I of Dragon Age II, set a mere six-months after the events of Awakening, Justice is not only bound to Anders, but has been for quite a while.
Gaider has said that the folks at Bioware liked Anders and the plot he was involved in too much to leave him dead.
Merrill is quite different from her DA:O version. Both in her personality and even appearance. In the first game she was reasonable and serious girl, but in the sequel she was changed into a Cloudcuckoo Lander. Appearance-wise, there's of course the new elf design, but her facial markings are also different and she is not as tanned anymore. Her interest in the history of her people and ways of reclaiming it, a core aspect of her character in Dragon Age II, were already there in Dragon Age: Origins, though.
Rule of Perception: Among the fanbase and in-universe characters, the Kirkwall mages have an Always Chaotic Evil reputation. In the latter case, this is because of a Freudian Excuse or because of simple prejudice. In the former case, it is because the number of named benevolent mages in the game can be counted on one hand. This is despite the argument that the mages are not all evil or extremists being uttered constantly. David Gaider and other members of the DA team apparently addressed this, saying that they wished they had included more mages who were not extreme or villainous.
Rule 34: There had to be someone who stared at the statues of Andraste and thought, "Boy, I'd like to see her naked." The nude sculpture inspired is, due to Chantry censorship, Unrevealed at the Black Emporium.
Taken Up to Eleven because the Chantry could not bring themselves to destroy so perfect an image of Andraste, even if they found her nudity taboo, that they simply rendered the sculpture invisible. So now people "study" it by touch.
Andraste has also been given the Rule 34 treatment in a smutty Romance Novel Isabela shows Bethany. It even has pictures! (Bethany: "Isabela, this is a vulgar thing!")
Isabela apparently invokes this about Aveline and Donnic with "friend-fiction." Aveline is not amused, though Varric finds it hilarious.
Finding Anders' Manifesto copies all over your High Town estate.
Mark Of The Assassin has Tallis going into a private room with someone to attempt to seduce them for a key. Hawke waits outside, making small talk with the other guests, and Tallis comes out having failed for some reason or another.
In the same DLC, avoid Orlesian cheeses at all cost. They're made with despair.
Merrill expressing her a desire to own a baby griffon called "Feathers" in party banter, only for someone to remind her that they are extinct.
Varric having loaned Merrill a ball of twine to help find her way, due to her atrocious sense of direction.
Merrill's not understanding innuendo, and Isabela's very...active...sex life.
Sarcasm Failure: In Act II, you'll meet a homicidal elf who has killed a bunch of people, but not by the method she meant to. Her sadness over this prompts Smartass!Hawke to say:
Hawke: You were going to kill people anyway? That's... not funny at all, really.
Also notable when Leandra is taken by a serial killer. No matter how Hawke is played, throughout that quest, s/he will sound terrified.
Hawke: I get it, you're crazy! Where is my mother?
Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Qunari. Conversations reveal just how alien their thought processes are compared to most of Thedas, but also show how they can be so successful in gaining converts despite this. This made their stay in Kirkwall tense for all sides.
Scenery Gorn: The Korcari Wilds in the beginning. It's a barren wasteland, and the only landmarks are the road to Lothering, and the pillars of smoke rising from where Lothering used to be.
The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: Subverted. Tallis tries to seduce various men to get a key only either they don't have it or they don't swing that way. Double subverted if you play male Hawke who can seduce the man who has it.
Schrödinger's Cat: If you're a rogue or a warrior, Carver dies at the beginning, if you're a mage, Bethany dies.
Secret Legacy: The main plot of the LegacyDLC. Hawke's father Malcolm helped the Grey Wardens to seal away a powerful darkspawn.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: With the exception of Nightmare, each difficulty setting is intentionally easier than it was in Origins
There's a bunch of unfinished plot threads, a massive civil war on the horizon, and both Hawke (and his/her Love Interest) and the Hero of Ferelden have mysteriously vanished if they did not die. Add to that, Cassandra and Leliana are still looking.
Bohdan mentions that he and Sandal will be moving to Orlais.
Also, Alistair is concerned with tensions between Ferelden and Orlais, which could lead to war between the two countries. He also mentions that Orlais has factions of its own - come Asunder...
The entirety of the Primeval Thaig is clearly setting up sequel hooks—or, at least, fodder for future lore.
The Nexus Golem in a Bonus Dungeon dangles references to a thaig beneath Orlais.
The Primeval Thaig could be connected to the strange ruins that the Dalish Elf in DA:O found at the beginning.
You run into a few Grey Wardens on their way to resolve some new threat they refuse to talk about.
As well as their extreme interest in the Primal Thaig, an investigation ordered by the First Warden.
Flemeth and Morrigan are still up to something.
Sandal said that "the old lady is scary". Which old lady? One that apparently watches him sleep, and has a scary laugh. Additionally, if Merrill lives in the Hawke mansion, she starts to think that Sandal is watching her.
With regards to the Qunari, while there are Multiple Endings involved and we don't know which is the "real" one yet, odds are very good that not only do they STILL not have their relic, but now they've also lost a large contingent of soldiers and an Arishok (you know, one of the three people that rule Qunari society). No one with half a brain could possibly expect them to take that lying down.
During Sebastian's companion quest "Faith", Sister Nightingale pretty much confirms that the entire Kirkwall crisis was orchestrated by the "Resolutionists," an international conspiracy of apostates hell-bent on toppling the Circle of Magi system.
If Alistair is alive and king, he wants to meet Hawke to discuss something important, but having run into Meredith first, he dismisses the topic as now being too late. Why then he went to the Keep first instead of Hawke's house or meeting her/him outside the city is anybody's guess.
The Band of Three's notes scattered across Kirkwall relate a disturbing story that is yet to be completed.
From the LegacyDLC, there's strong implications that Corypheus survived the final battle and is on the loose.
The next DLC, Mark of the Assassin, adds another one if you bring Aveline (an Orlesian) along. Her personal sidequest culminates in a battle with a Revenant, all for a small note linking her father's late doppelganger to the Orlesian "game." The characters are just as confused as the players, but it's yet another hint toward Orlais as the setting of DA3.
Sexy Discretion Shot: The sex scenes are tamer here than in Origins. Though at least they don't have ludicrous, randomly appearing ugly underwear like the Origins sex scenes did.
Sexy Walk: The standard walk animation for all female characters; just look at the way they move their hips. It also comes up during Party Banter between Merrill and Isabela, with Merrill wondering how she does it and if she could learn it to her.
Where did you get the maps for the Deep Roads? According to Anders, A Wizard Did It.
When you arrive at Kirkwall and the guard insists that there's no more room in the city, Hawke can say "There must be some room for the pretty people."
One quest has you framing a Templar for various illicit activities. The name of the Templar? Ser Conrad Vernhart.
Aveline gets on Varric's case about a novel series he's writing about a rogue guardsman He says in mock appeasement that he'll end the series with him retiring and buying a bar, saying that the cop is "too old for this shit."
Stab The Dog: The player can choose to Mercy Kill or outright murder people in order to complete a quest. In the beginning of the game, the player can choose to stab Wesley for Aveline, while in the end, the player may choose to kill Anders in retribution for the destruction of the Chantry.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Some conversations with the villain have options where you can cut straight to the fighting rather than talk.
Sidequest Sidestory: Frequently, completing a sidequest in one act will make you deal with its consequences in the next or even until the end of the game, such as the Bone Pit quests. Word of God is, this was the whole reasoning behind the three-acts-and-time-skips plot structure.
Sigil Spam: Three symbols—the emblem of Kirkwall, Hawke's family seal, and a third that resembles a stylized dragon in red—are everywhere, even the loading screens.
Situational Sexuality: None of the love interests besides Isabela make any mention of being attracted to the same sex when playing an opposite sex Hawke, but are clearly bisexual when playing a same sex Hawke. Word of God on this subject exists to support multiple interpretations of this.
Skill Tree: In sharp contrast to Origins, which had linear perk progressions, skill trees in DA2 do branch. Also unlike DA:O, where rogues and warriors talents largely overlapped, each class now has a unique shared set of them, although not all party members have access to the complete set (e.g. Merrill has no Creation tree and thus healing magic). Plus, each party member has a skill tree unique to them, while Hawke has three class-specific specialization trees.
Skyward Scream: Silly!Hawke will do this, in reaction to a fake bee sting, to distract a guard in Mark of the Assassin:
"If I die... make sure the world knows... I died at Chateau Haine!"
Smoke Out: The rogue's standard trick is running behind the target under a puff of smoke to initiate an instant backstab.
Spikes of Villainy: Some very subtle ones: Meredith gets a new sword at the beginning of Act III, right around the time she starts going off the deep end. See the spikes on its handle?
Hawke inverts it at the same time after becoming the Champion of Kirkwall and gets the opportunity to start collecting the Mantle of the Champion seen in the prologue. The Mantle is spiky everywhere and it is a symbol of Hawke's newfound Folk Hero status.
Don't forget Fenris's armor. Some of the other characters make references to the implications of having spikes on his armor during dialogue, for example, if Hawke is romancing Fenris:
Varric: You do know the elf is covered in spikes, like an angsty porcupine? He might have some... issues.
Spoiler Opening: The very first screen of the game shows a drawing of Orsino and Meredith facing off with each other, though on your first playthrough you probably don't know who they are.
Spy Fiction: Mark of the Assassin begins as The Caper but switches gears halfway through to one of these. Switch the Orlesians for Russians and the Qunari for U.S. intelligence and you have a textbook Cold War spy story, albeit one with wyverns in it.
Stealth Insult: Snarky!Hawke attempted this whilst talking to Janeka, but it quickly forgot the stealth part.
Snarky!Hawke: Nothing personal, but you're kind of crazy... and a bitch. Oh wait, I guess that was personal, wasn't it?
Stealth Pun: In the second act, next to your storage chest in your house is a.... Fat Lute. This is a reference to the Feastday Pranks DLC for Origins. One of the uber gifts you can give bard Leliana is a 'Fat Lute'.
Aveline's pose on the character selection screen has her weapon on her right hip, but she carries it like everyone else during gameplay.
Stockholm Syndrome: Lia from the quest The Magistrate's Orders shows shades of this, practically begging you not to kill her kidnapper because he cried that the demons in his head made him do it and because he let her escape, ignoring the fact that he killed several elvish children and intended to do the same to her. If you do kill him, Lia has a small cameo in Act III, thanking Hawke again for what they did for her and saying she was out of her head when she asked them to spare her kidnapper. If you let him live, she and her father leave Kirkwall and Lia will eventually grow to fear every man, thinking him a monster in disguise.
Stock Puzzle: Some very easy sliding puzzles involving floating barrels show up when Hawke enters the Fade. They're basically just a reason to give free attribute points.
Legacy has a pretty lazy beam puzzle that Hawke must solve to free his/her party from a chamber and get a legendary Grey Warden helmet.
Stone Wall: Several flavors provided by specialized skillsets. Aveline's Made of Iron Guardian tree combined with Defender tree can make her unstoppable, and Isabela's Flynning makes her virtually untouchable. A trained Spirit Healer/Force Mage PC can diminish all attacks to rapidly regenerated Cherry Tapping.
Stop Poking Me: Hawke responds to clicks with annoyance or surliness, depending on personality.
Strong Family Resemblance: Regardless of how you customize Hawke, all of Hawke's family members will bear a resemblance to him/her. Which will be a nice change from the human noble, dwarven noble, dwarven commoner, and (to a degree) city elf origins from... Origins.
Stupid Sacrifice: In the mage ending, Orsino's desperate transformation into a monster only hurts the people who were trying to help him. He kills, at most, five Templars before Hawke and company (who supported him) need to put him down.
Apparently, the writers didn't want this to happen, but other departments wanted another boss battle.
Succession Crisis: After Viscount Dumar dies with no heir, Meredith uses the threat of one to justify taking over his responsibilities. Then she opposes any attempt to replace him until the "blood mage problem" is dealt with. After three years of this, even the most well-off in Kirkwall are getting wary of her.
Suddenly Blonde: Because of difficulty programming helmets to work with horns, the Qunari were hornless in the original game. Now that they've worked around that little problem, the horns have been added in like they were never absent. Word of God explains Qunari born without horns (like Sten) are said to be blessed and destined for greatness. Qunari who abandon the Qun tend to cut them off, like the mercenary Qunari and the merchant from Awakening. Although strangely, the Tal Vashoth in this game all still have their horns.
One could say the Tal-Vashoth are still technically following the Qun, but have taken up roles as murderers and thieves. This is why Maraas becoming a mercenary is such a big deal: kill and steal all you want, but there is no place for mercenaries in Qunari beliefs.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Stroud the Grey Warden who you meet when trying to save Bethany or Carver in the Deep Roads and/or during the Qunari Invasion of Kirkwall is remarkably similar to Riordan the Orlesion Warden who is a key figure during the last few missions of Origins. They even share the same voice actor it makes you wonder why Riordan was even killed during The Battle Of Denerim.
Take a Third Option: Presented just so it can be explicitly denied in the main mage-Templar conflict. "Night Terrors" features a third option presented by a villain. At the start, it seems your choices are saving Feynriel (risky, and he'll still have to live with his powers) or making him Tranquil. Then Torpor comes along...
And what apparently happened to the dwarves in the Primeval Thaig who became Profane. But they're still mobile. And hungry.
Three petrified pirates make an appearance during the Mark of the Assassin DLC and require Isabela to free them from their cursed state.
Take Your Time: Played both straight and averted. Secondary, Side and Companion quests generally disappear when you go to from act to act. However, within a single year? The looming threat of a poisoned district, dangerous blood mages on the loose, or an insane serial killer kidnapping your mother? It's fine, feel free to wander the Dalish camp or take that random item back to that random NPC. The safety of hundreds can wait.
Very much averted with the Act II Fenris quest "A Bitter Pill." Fenris will get mad (i.e. rivalry) if you try to do anything else other than continue with the quest, and if you persist in ignoring his pleas, he'll leave to handle things himself and will get killed.
Talking Your Way Out: Varric can help out Hawke in conversations, which could end in violence. Not that violence isn't fun, but hearing Varric's lies is, too.
Hawke: I'll let Varric negotiate the price [for a golem control rod].
Tall Tale: At the beginning of the game, The Narrator, Varric, tries to start his story as a tall tale (resulting in a Tutorial Level wherein you control unkillable Game Breaker characters), but is soon interrupted by his listener, who wants to hear the real story. He still occasionally lapses into tall tales later (and is always interrupted again).
Team Pet: People who buy the game new can obtain an item that allows them to summon a Mabari hound in battle. Unlike in Origins, this hound isn't a full companion; this allows you to bring the dog and three humanoid party members. Word of God says players can still experience all the joys of being a dog owner.
To the point where you will arrive home to see your companions there to see Dog rather than you!
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Aveline and Isabela. Also, Fenris and Anders, which gets so bad that each may approve of Hawke doing something that they would normally consider a Moral Event Horizon simply because it negatively affects the other.
Thematic Theme Tune: "I'm Not Calling You A Liar" is aptly given the subtitle (Varric's theme) on the soundtrack.
Then Let Me Be Evil: Applies to both the Qunari and a good portion of the mage criminals in the story take this route after getting fed up with the populace of Kirkwall.
Time Skip: Hawke's rise to power takes a full decade. Three of these are present just so the player doesn't go crazy, and they're arranged in such a way that the game takes on a Three Act Structure, not counting the introductory levels. These are explained as the parts of the story that Varric doesn't find relevant/interesting.
Title Drop: Anders comments about the reappearance of dragons when taken to the Bone Pit.
Took a Level in Badass: Warriors and rogues are a LOT more powerful this time around, and a lot more impressive to watch in combat, and their skills have a much more visible effect on the battle field.
Genlocks in the Legacy DLC in comparison to their Origins counterparts. In the first game they were funny little things that could have been dwarves in a costume, in Legacy they're nightmarish gorilla-esque monsters.
Remember Feynriel, the half-Elven apostate you rescue from kidnappers in Act I and help free from demons in the Fade in Act II? By Act III, we learn that his ability as a "Somniari", a rare mage who can enter the Fade without lyrium and can bend the Fade to their will, allowed him to rescue a young girl in Kirkwall from bandits, killing each and every one of them... while asleep, whilst in Tevinter, which happens to be on the other side of the (known) world.
Or, if you romance Merrill and take both her and Anders along for Legacy, their conversation about Merrill poking through his books for "dirty spells."
Or a book Isabela provides to Hawke about "One hundred and one uses for a phallic tuber"
Or Hawke's reaction to running into Anders affectionately warning Isabela "Don't come to me next time you pick up one of these diseases" (no doubt the sexually transmitted variety) as she's exiting his clinic.
True Companions: Par for the course in a Bioware game. Instead of a random group of adventurers thrown together by fate to stop some Big Bad, they're friends and/or rivals who bond over the course of six years. While some of them genuinely can't stand each other, they put up with it for the sake of the overall group.
Averted at the end of the game, where the player is forced to choose between letting Anders live or keeping Sebastian's loyalty.
Debatable, Hawke can be played as religious, and Anders has nothing against the religion of Andraste as much as he dislikes the policies of the Chantry. Both of them are sociable (possibly, in Hawke's case, and Anders' runs a clinic). These are two things that the Ubermensch is not, according to Nietzsche.
Uncanny Valley Make Up: Tarahne, the head maleficar from the quest "Enemies Among Us," is made up rather garishly. It helps drive home the point that she's barking mad.
Un Entendre: Varric and Isabela do this at one point in party banter when talking about knives.
Unreliable Narrator: And how! The entire game is told in retrospect by Varric, who often changes details for "emphasis" or "theatrical effect" and leaves out all the "boring parts." More than once you'll go through a sequence of being an incredible Bad Ass or doing something astounding just for the Seeker to cut in and yell at Varric for making stuff up. This could also be the reason why half of all enemy mooks die in a bloody explosion for no apparent reason, and may also be at least partially to blame for why even a gang of thugs who only had four or five guys in conversation can suddenly call in three dozen heavily armed warriors for the party to fight through. Varric openly admits to enjoying embellishment.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The random Non Player Characters don't bother to look up from what they are doing, even if the Champion of Kirkwall him/herself is fighting off bandits, assassins, or illegal dog trainers. It must happen so often that it's hardly a surprise.
Unwinnable by Mistake/ That One Mission: Act 3's "No Rest for the Wicked" is regarded on quite a few forum threads as an extremely glitchy mission on the XBOX 360 and PC. In most cases, the quest plays fine until Hawke enters the warehouse Isabela leads Hawke to in the Docks. At this point players' testimonies point towards a key cutscene not triggering, an unreachable enemy that's phased into the wall texture, and occasionally a key item not being dropped.
PC players can simply fix this with the Debug menus, summoning the items they need, among other things. Console-players however get the short end of the stick.
Urban Segregation: Kirkwall. Hightown is where the nobility live and is the safest part of Kirkwall. Lowtown is the remnants of Kirkwall's slave quarters, now used as the dwellings of the city's lower class. The really dangerous criminals live in Darktown, the city's Absurdly Spacious Sewage System (which used to be a mine). There's also the standard Thedas Alienage.
Vendor Trash: Called "Junk." It even comes complete with a little trash can icon.
Vicious Cycle: Varric points out in the narration how the mutual distrust and hatred of the mages and Templars (and Meredith and Orsino in particular) builds over the years.
Snarky!Hawke can call Sebastian's campaign for revenge one of these as a joke, and Elthina will agree.
Video Game Cruelty Potential: Following on from the first game. However morally gray the overall setting is, there are some actions without any justification - e.g, giving Feynriel to a demon or Fenris to Danarius.
Villainous Breakdown: Happens to pretty much everyone in the game. The mages break out the blood magic when they're cornered (except for like six random Circle mages who don't even have names) and the templars start getting way too eager to kill them first. On a more direct note, the entire game is basically Meredith's breakdown.
"On the Loose" features a Villainous Breakdown occurring in the middle of the fight. As the Evelina abomination takes more damage, it loses control and briefly transforms into demons of Rage and Desire.
Visual Pun: During Varric's narration about Loghain's betrayal at the Battle of Ostagar, he is shown holding a dagger behind his back.
Lampshaded later by Merrill, who in Act III calls them "easy on the eye".
War for Fun and Profit: Twice, with different outcomes each time. First, Sister Petrice tries to instigate war between Kirkwall and the Qunari. Her efforts get her killed unless you go out of your way to help, but contribute to the Qunari attempt at conquering the city in Act II. Later, Anders tries to instigate war between mages and Templars, and he succeeds all too well.
We Are Everywhere: Mark of the Assassin reveals that there are Qunari located throughout Thedas, although at least some of them have ceased following orders and are trying to lead normal lives.
Anders deserves special mention with the way he sets off a bomb that destroys the Chantry, killing countless innocents and starting a war in which even more will die, specifically to avoid a compromise.
What the Hell, Hero?: If you take clearly immoral actions, or do something that your party mates disapprove of, they can do this to you. Your party mates will also occasionally call out each other. Most notably, Anders will always give Merrill hell over being a blood mage.
The player can demand this of Anders at the start of the endgame.
Weapon of X-Slaying: Bonuses against darkspawn, undead, or demons are a common property of weapons. There are also weapons of Qunari slaying and human slaying, each issued at an appropriate moment in the plot.
Weapon Stomp: In one of the first scenes from the game, a wounded hurlock reaches for his sword but is stopped by Hawke stomping on its wrist. It screams in rage before being cut down.
Or, if you're playing a mage, gets blown up.
Wham Episode: If your jaw didn't drop when Anders blew up the Chantry, you must have read a spoiler.
Also, All That Remains.
From the Legacy DLC: the Magisters that tainted the golden city are real and is now free possesing a Gray Warden
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: This is exactly why people are so afraid of mages. Meredith is a non-mage example, especially after she starts using a sword forged from the cursed lyrium idol you find in the Primeval Thaig.
The irony is that blood mages, whom everyone is most afraid of, also happen to be using the one form of magic that isn't inherently at risk of turning them into demon bait, though the game repeatedly stresses that that in no way means people aren't justified in their fear of it.
What If the Baby Is Like Me?: Malcolm Hawke (the protagonist's father) felt this way when Leandra was pregnant with the protagonist. He hoped that he/she would not be a mage, like him, so he/she wouldn't have to live in fear of being locked up by the Chantry. If the protagonist is a mage, though, then evidently he accepted it, and made the best of it, doing everything to ensure they would remain free.
World of Buxom: Virtually every female character in this game has large breasts, due to the, well, limited selection of character models. Even Merrill, the companion with the smallest build, would have a D-cup in real life.
Actually, Aveline's guard armor is just excellent camouflage. In the Prologue, where she's wearing casual clothing, she's quite buxom.
Aveline describes the Hanged Man as this, though not without fondness.
Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Discussed in-universe. Party banter reveals that Varric writes this way, at least in regards to his guard serial. He admits to Aveline he isn't sure how it will end, which confuses her.
Yank the Dog's Chain: The quest "All That Remains." Leading up to the battle with Quentin, you have a vague hope that, perhaps, your mother can be saved. Alas, it is not to be, as Leandra had been killed long before Hawke arrives.
Fenris gets several of these. During the romance scene with Hawke, Fenris remembers all of his lost memories only to lose them just as suddenly. It's such a shock he leaves Hawke for three years. When there is finally a chance to reclaim pieces of his past, it turns out it was just a trap to enslave him again.
There's also a fun little conversation you have with Flemeth:
Flemeth: We stand upon the precipice of change. The world fears the inevitable plummet into the abyss. Wait for that moment... and when it comes, do not hesitate to leap. It is only when you fall when you can learn if you can fly.
Hawke: What should I do?
Flemeth: Do as I do. Become a dragon! *laughs* [Beat]. You could never be a dragon.
Aveline discusses the dashed hopes at Ostagar after her last companion quest.
You Are Not Alone: In "Wayward Son" during Act I, Mage Hawke tells this to Feynriel, a young half-elven apostate.
Feynriel: Why do you care? You don't even know me!
*Hawke creates a blinding ball of light in one hand*
Hawke: *gently* I am you.
You Can't Go Home Again: Lothering was destroyed by the darkspawn — not that you ever see your home. Your mother and Bethany lament this early in the game.
Aveline can make reference to this in the first conversation following your first year in Kirkwall.
Aveline: You can't go home again; that's supposed to be a sign of maturity. It's not the same if you don't have the option.
Your Cheating Heart: Vincento. According to Arianni, he didn't desire a wife and abandoned her the moment she found he was pregnant with Feynriel; however when a Male Hawke talks to him, he claims he has a wife back in Antiva. It should be noted if you're playing as a Female Hawke, he instead claims he is single.
We never actually do find out if he was married at the time he fathered Feyrniel with Arianni, either.