These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Because it's lower fantasy than its predecessor, the game forces the player to re-evaluate preconceptions built up by playing as the Warden, such as the fate of mages, the rightness of the Chantry, etc. Hawke having an apostate sister, or being one him/herself, gives the player a distinctly different starting perspective than, say, the Human Noble Warden.
Anders. Is he a tragic hero, a hypocritical asshole, or some combination of the two? At best, he's a revolutionary fighting against injustice. At worst, he's a terrorist who killed dozens of innocent people to kickstart a world war.
Merrill. Is she a careful, courageous researcher, fighting against prejudice and misunderstanding to discover the lost secrets of a dying race? Or is she a foolish blood mage whose pride prevents her from seeing risks until they harm the ones she loves?
Grand Cleric Elthina. Was she the only thing keeping the mage/Templar conflict stable, or did her refusal to take a side make things worse? A question also applicable to the Chantry/Qunari conflict in Act 2. Either the appearance of violent zealots was an inevitable consequence of the sustained Qunari presence in the city, or the deterioration of so many members of her church is an indication that she's dangerously out-of-touch with the rest of Kirkwall.
Orsino is either a good man who did horrible things out of desperation, or a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. Further complicated by him acting differently depending on which ending you take. Then there's his involvement with Quentin.
An in-universe case: If Hawke is Anders' rival, Justice eventually gets referred to as Vengeance. If Hawke supports Anders' decisions, they keep calling him Justice.
Even Snarky!Hawke falls prey to this. Are they just an unambiguously heroic figure that had no desire for power, or a Rich Idiot with No Day Job whose continued refusal to take a position of authority meant they were content to sit back and watch while Meredith practically turned Kirkwall into a police-state?
Alternatively, is Hawke's continuing reticence to lead simply because every time they're forced into authority, such as during the flight from Lothering, the Deep Roads expedition and the hunt for Quentin, they end up losing those closest to them? From Hawke's point of view, if they can't even run a mine without their workers getting repeatedly attacked by monsters, how are they supposed to manage running a city?
Marethari - was she trying to save Merrill from a fatal mistake, or was she denying Merrill her agency and endangering her clan by keeping them in one place for years? For that matter, there's an argument that Audacity was always at least as interested in her as Merill - they both heard its call the first time. While Marethari never shows intolerance towards humans like many other Dalish, nonetheless, was Hawke being a Shemlen and an outsider the reason that she repeatedly failed to give them critical information, which would have better helped steer Merrill away from her dangerous path?
Ass Pull: Orsino and Meredith turning on you even if you side with one of them as a result of a Conflict Ball, likely due to the game being rushed.
People are debating whether or not Anders is the most compelling character in the game and a tragic figure that's developed from his previous incarnation, or a complete jackass. Or both.
Carver's Sibling Rivalry with Hawke either gives him depth that Bethany lacked, or makes him an annoying whiner.
Similarly, Bethany is either completely generic and flat as a character, or a refreshingly well-adjusted Only Sane Woman in a cast of ridiculously dysfunctional people. As with Carver, it depends on how much the player enjoys a Dysfunction Junction.
Tallis. This boils down to how much one likes Felicia Day and her involvement in MOTA, as well as how much one likes the Qunari. Many found her character fascinating. Others were annoyed that she succeeds in her goals, irrespective of whether Hawke is anti-Qunari, and her dialogue has a tinge of "Can't argue with Qunari!" to it; thus they deemed her to be veering on Canon Sue status.
Merrill, especially as time has gone on. There's a good-sized faction of people who're angry with Bioware at taking a character who was a no-nonsense, hard-nosed female authority figure in DA1 and turning her into, basically, a MoeBunny-Ears LawyerCloud Cuckoolander, straight down to substantial physical changes to make her look far younger than her previous appearance. Others, however, argue that she's a hugely important component of the story, as while other characters might provide "comic relief", nearly all the rest of it is of the bitter, ironic kind; Merrill is the only one who can provide actual, legitimate levity thanks to her dogged innocence, and that the game desperately needs a character like her to provide Hawke a different perspective on things.
Broken Base: The sequel makes heavy changes from Origins, which is a far more traditional BioWare game. In-fighting is vicious and common, in just about every discussion about the game.
Complete Monster: Ser Otto Alrik is a high-ranking Templar who's infamous for his habit of illegally conducting the right of Tranquility on unwilling mages. Forever cut off from the spirit world, known as the Fade, Tranquil mages have undergone the spiritual equivalent of a lobotomy and are left as Empty Shells for the rest of their lives. Not content with the way things currently are, Alrik’s dream is to initiate the Tranquil Solution, a plan where every mage is forcibly made Tranquil, regardless of age or ability. When this plan was turned down by Knight-Commander Meredith for being too extreme, Alrik began taking steps to carry out his plan in secret, turning mages Tranquil such as he did with Anders’s first love, Karl. Also, in the mission Dissent, while pursuing a female apostate named Ella, Alrik heavily implies that he’ll use the Right of Tranquility to turn her into his willing Sex Slave, with the added implication that he frequently does this. This is proven in an overheard conversation between a newly made Tranquil mage and her former lover. In response to her lover trying to break through to her, the Tranquil mage emotionlessly responds, "I am Ser Alrik’s now."
Critical Dissonance: An example where critics, primarily major ones with previews and review copies, have higher recorded scores than the recorded scores of customers. On Metacritic, Dragon Age II has scores ranging from 79 to 82. Its user scores? Range from 3.9 to 4.4.
Enemy assassins have disproportionately large hitpoint bars and vanish off-screen during battle, reappearing only to backstab the member of your team with the lowest armor or health value for massive damage only to return to stealth immediately after. This means that, at best, the player has a seconds-long window to whittle down a large amount of health while dealing with whatever other backup they brought with them and places frail members at exceptional risk.
Enemy mages, while not as versatile as before, are still a large pain with dangerous area of effect attacks that can easily wipe out a party in seconds if they do not move out of their substantial range. The mages themselves are still relatively frail compared to warriors, but get around this by either covering themselves in an impenetrable shield for ten seconds at a time (at least they can't do anything while in that shield), or seemingly teleporting themselves to a random point on the battlefield to evade. Of special note are Blood Mages, Serebaas, and Arcane Horrors - three foes that you'll have to eliminate as soon as possible if you hope to win a battle.
While the Rage Demons of Origins were mostly minor foes with crippling weaknesses to ice spells, including the ever popular Cone of Cold, their successors have become far more dangerous. They're extremely resilient to most attacks, can dive into the ground for sneak attacks, are next to impossible to stun, and deliberately target the party members with either the least armor or lowest health, making them one of the biggest threats on the battlefield whenever they appear.
Revenants are just as deadly in this game as they were in Origins. Worse, they often appear alongside Arcane Horrors and have a nasty tendency of pulling you away from them, giving the Horrors time to cast their party killing spells.
More literally, poison spiders on Nightmare. Their stun poison attack lets them wipe out anyone in 1v1 combat unless you can stop that. And the biggest problem is that they always spawn at least 2, usually 3, at a time. Definitely a contender for the toughest non-boss enemy in the game, at least on nightmare.
Legacy brings back the older darkspawn and other cave dwelling monsters to give them a serious boost.
Genlocks, who were originally just smaller darkspawn infantry (barring powerful ones like the Forgemaster), return as apelike berserkers that aren't so bad on their own. Their Alpha cousins, on the other hand, are large menacing creatures that carry spiked shields that almost completely nullify head-on damage. Getting behind them is easier said than done as they have surprisingly quick charge attacks that do massive damage and send most characters flying. To make it worse, the areas where they're found are full of identical spiked shields as background pieces that allow them to ambush the player.
Hurlock Alphas return as hideous, three meter tall giants with massive axes capable of easily sending an entire party flying in one sweep. Worse, they actually seem to buff and coordinate other darkspawn into a much more dangerous force.
Deepstalkers remain much like their Origins counterparts, except for a few details: their spit attacks are fast, plentiful, and they can hurt. They appear in swarms and can easily pick off your least powerful party member through sheer firepower before you finally rip through them all.
The Ghasts in Mark of the Assassin. Just as bad as Deepstalkers, they also throw buffers and mages into the mix as well.
Designated Hero: The Dwarven Noble Warden from the optional backstory is definitely this. He exiled Alistair to become a wandering, bitter drunk, sent Loghain to his death against the Archdemon, and was utterly ruthless in dealing with the Blight. Despite all signs pointing to him being an incredible asshole, he's still considered "The Hero of Ferelden."
Designated Villain: It's funny how Hawke starts out as the bad guy to Cassandra, no matter how heroic the player chooses to play him/her. As a result, this trope may ensue. Of course, there's also the option of playing an absolute Jerkass instead...
Die for Our Ship: There's a very vocal minority that can't stand the idea of Isabela and Fenris hooking up, even though it only happens if you don't romance either of them yourself. There are even some who claim to have handed her over to the Arishok just for that - which ignores Fenris flat-out stating that he would never have done such a thing himself.
In-universe, at the end of the sidequest "Malcolm's Will" in the DLCLegacy, Mage!Hawke is not amused by Carver's joking reaction to the revelation that Malcolm didn't want his children to be mages. Even Snarky!Hawke doesn't find it funny.
Snarky!Hawke gets this treatment all the time as they make jokes in the middle of all sorts of serious quests. From helping the guards put down a dangerous raider band, to helping Fenyriel not turn into an abomination, to joking while Viscount Dumar is holding Saemus' corpse. Aveline will call Hawke on this.
Minor character Lilley from the "Inside Job" sidequest (who has about 10 lines of dialogue and gets killed off halfway through the quest) has somehow endeared herself to a lot of fans, some of whom go as far as to suggest she should have been made a permanent party member. This is probably all thanks to a surprisingly powerful performance from Alix Wilton Regan, though her being a good-looking Action Girl likely helped a lot, too.
Athenril seems to have attracted a similar following, probably for much the same reasons, and the fact that she's one of the elves people will hold up as a sign that the new elf design is good.
Ketojan. He really gave the feeling that he would be a party member, which meant his fate left a lot of players very disappointed.
If Varric is in the party when Dougal offers to front you the cash to get in on the Deep Roads expedition, when you mention that Bartrand won't like it if Dougal is involved, Varric will say, quote, "He'd lose his mind. Not that it wouldn't be funny to watch." Yeah... not so funny to someone who's already done a playthrough and knows what happens to Bartrand after the Deep Roads...
One of the "Bone Pit" sidequests has Hawke convincing the miners to go back to work. One of the miners doesn't want to go back after the dragon attack. He drunkenly says "What if something else comes, like uh...bigger dragons?" Cue Act III...
If all but one of your party is laid out on the floor and the game goes to a cutscene, when the gameplay resumes they'll be back on their feet with full health and mana or stamina bars, and no injuries.
A glitch can give Rogue!Hawke a whopping 35 defense score per point of Cunning, making him/her nearly untouchable by normal attacks.
Using the maker's sigh potions basically resets your character's talents, attributes and specialties. Occasionally, drinking it will cause a glitch to happen, and it's possible to keep your specialties, meaning you can unlock a third one. This has been patched out.
In the final boss fight, the boss will repeatedly paralyze all combatants to go on monologues... but if you've invested into Hawke and Aveline's defensive skills, and have her in your active party, she'll be immune, and proceed to smack around the boss. It's as if someone asked: "Why don't you just hit 'em?" This can actually cause a glitch with the post game autosave. If the boss isn't allowed to complete its stun-cycle at least once the autosave may be saved incorrectly and when you load you will be stuck in a wall listening to the final battle dialog until the game crashes.
It's possible for the Arishok to throw Hawke through the door and into the adjoining room where he can't get at Hawke. If you're playing a mage, the battle presumably goes down in history as Hawke running out of the room, barring the door, then sending in fireballs through the keyhole until the Arishok collapsed.
Harsher in Hindsight: Anders' destruction of the Chantry feels worse following the 2011 Norway attacks, whose perpetrator is also named Anders, and called himself a Templar to boot. They look quite similar as well.
Incest Yay Shipping: Hawke and Bethany. Owners of the computer version can even mod Merrill to have Bethany's appearance. There are plenty of fanfictions shipping Hawke with Bethany (or sometimes Carver too).
Internet Backdraft: Opinions about the game's quality are highly varied. In addition, debating whether or not the Rite of Annulment was justified and the fates of any surviving mages will get heated very quickly.
Carver, if he lives so long. The more terrible things happen to him, the more of a jerk he becomes.
Anders and Justice are this too, individually or combined. Though Anders still genuinely seems like a selfless, caring person (even on occasion to Merrill), it's often undermined by his more callous/cruel remarks to people with differing opinions about mages. Of particular note is his taunting Aveline about her dead husband, and being delighted if you choose to hand Fenris over to Danarius.
Bethany becomes this over the course of the story, but how far the game takes it depends on her fate. It's far less noticeable if she's forced to join the Circle, for example, but even then she's cold and sharp towards Hawke in later Acts. Warden Bethany, however is even more bitter and cold towards not just Hawke, but almost all the former party members. This is more noticeable during the DLC, in which she provides some scathing remarks, which she then frustratedly retracts. It's a cruel counterpoint to Act 1's sweet, kind and gentle Bethany.
Fenris. He gets Woobie points for his slave background, but the resulting hatred of mages makes him wholly unsympathetic towards them. He even asserts that Merrill is a monster while she's in mourning (see above). On the other hand, it's hard not to feel bad for him when you find out that he competed for the chance to be used as the subject of his master's ritual, not for his own sake, but to free his mother and sister from slavery... only for his sister to eventually turn him in to his former master in order to become his apprentice.
Gamlen Amell comes off as an unpleasant dick to pretty much everyone, even his own family, but when you find out a bit more about his life, it's hard not to find some pity for him. Despite staying by his dying parents' side and caring for them, they still seemed to favor Leandra over him and barely left him anything in their will, then a series of bad investments and decisions resulted in him living in squalor and cost him the woman he loved, and then he loses his beloved sister to a Serial Killer. At least it's possible to grant him something of a happy ending by reuniting him with his long-lost daughter.
"Press a button and something awesome happens" (one of the devs used the line in a preview in summary of the new combat system) is popular among detractors of the game, Bioware as a whole and "dumbing down."
You forgot Cassandra? Bullshit!!!
Moe: Merrill—besides having the regular enormous elf eyes, she also possesses the quintessential "cute and adorable" trait associated with Moe girls. As a bonus, she's clumsy and absent-minded.
Most Annoying Sound: Mage!Hawke shouting "I need mana!" in combat. Particularly annoying if he/she is a blood mage, since that means that he/she doesn't need mana at all.
Some fans' reactions to Anders nuking Kirkwall's Chantry in order to start a war between mages and Templars have been disgust and horror. Meredith using the event as an excuse to invoke the Rite of Annulment is often met with similar revulsion.
A lot of the bad things Hawke can do can have some justification. However, there's no justification for selling Fenris back into slavery to Danarius, even though he's been your trusted companion and potentially friend/lover for 7 years. Every one of your party calls you out on it, even though they normally can't agree on anything at all.
Mother Petrice crosses it when she murders Seamus Dumar, frames Hawke for it, and tries to use the whole affair to spark a war with the Qunari. When told that her actions will lead to a massacre on both sides, she brushes off the countless deaths she'll be responsible for like they're nothing.
One-Scene Wonder: Flemeth only makes two major appearances, once in the prologue after Hawke defeats the Ogre that killed Carver/Bethany and then near the end of Merrill's recruitment quest after being summoned from her amulet. However, Kate Mulgrew's performance makes those scenes quite memorable.
Hawke, Fenris and Isabela: Two potential love interests who have a canon attraction that turns into Friends with Benefits (and possibly more) near the end of the game. It also neatly avoids the Ship-to-Ship Combat issues.
Hawke, Merrill and Isabela: Merrill and Isabela are already close friends and ship each other with Hawke depending on romance paths.
Bethany or Carver being conscripted into either the Circle or the Templars if you leave them in Kirkwall during the Deep Roads expedition, or becoming Grey Wardens after being infected by the taint, or dying of the taint if you don't bring Anders, or dying at the hands of the Ogre in Lothering. Getting the Hawke estate back rings hollow because they aren't there with you. See above for why it gets even lonelier.
Anders blowing up the Chantry. Especially if you're in a romance with him.
If you help Merrill with all her quests with the mirror, you end up having to kill the possessed Keeper Marethari. And unless you choose the counter-intuitive 'I assume responsibility' dialogue option when confronting the clan, you also have to slaughter the entire clan. Including people like Feynriel's mother, Arianni, Paivel the story teller, and Master Ilen the craftsman. It's especially horrifying if you played as a Dalish Warden in Origins.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Before the game's release, many fans weren't thrilled about the fact that the game had a new player character, Hawke, in place of the Grey Warden from the previous game. The "Destiny" trailer went a very long way towards reconciling people to the idea.
Carver, as of Legacy.
The entire game, as of Legacy, and to a lesser extent, Mark of the Assassin. The DLC corrects some of the blunders of the game (like repeating dungeons and waves of annoying enemies), whilst keeping and expanding on the good stuff (like the Hawke family).
Before its cancellation lead it to being held back for the third game, many at Bioware have suggested that the Exalted Marches expansion would have been a further attempt to do this.
Trying to avoid friendly fire on Nightmare difficulty is an exercise in frustration due to your cursor automatically centering itself on enemies that it approaches closely as you try to cast your abilities. We hope you didn't want to cast area-of-effect stuff against enemies engaged with the melee member(s) of your party! It's even worse than the first game because you can't zoom out the camera as much anymore to swing it around and try to find some spot on the ground to hit enemies while avoiding allies and the automatic-targeting on enemies.
Screwed by the Network: Detractors of the game have accused Bioware of dumbing the game down under orders from EA. Supporters who liked the game have pointed out the coincidence of Bioware officially cancelling the rumoured-to-be Awakening-style expansion, The Exalted Marches, just a few days before the launch of Mass Effect 3.
Squick: Some of Isabela's sexual remarks, which is lampshaded in-universe.
Stoic Woobie: Ketojan, and any other Saarebas by extension. Tranquil as well, particularly Karl.
Despite what you may feel about Meredith's methods, she was in fact correct that a great deal of the Circle mages were indeed practicing blood magic. This includes First Enchanter Orsino, who turns himself into an abomination and attacks Hawke, even if you choose to protect him.
Since it still wasn't all of the Circle mages this goes both ways. Orsino wasn't off-base when he told Meredith:
Blood magic! Where do you not see blood magic?! My people cannot sneeze without you accusing them of corruption!
If you read the "Enigma of Kirkwall" entries you'll discover that the Tevinter magi specifically built Kirkwall as a giant amplifier for blood magic through use of the city's architecture and secretly sacrificing thousands of slaves. The ritual sacrifice probably contributed to the weak Veil in Kirkwall (as stated in the codex), making communication with Fade demons a lot easier. No wonder so many Circle mages turn to blood magic; they're practically compelled to do so. This point is expanded on with a Codex entry you find for Legacy which explicitly states that is why Kirkwall suffers a great deal of abominations/possessions.
The Rock Wraith provides the most frustrations for players.
The Arishok has titanic defenses, nasty combo attacks, and hits harder than anything you've come across in the game so far - and he drinks healing potions. A lot of your duel will likely be spent dodging him around the pillars and running for your life.
The battle with the Arishok is slightly less difficult if you have the (free) Black Emporium DLC, because your faithful mabari can be summoned to keep the Arishok off your back while you scamper off to catch your breath.
Corypheus of Legacy proves to be much tougher than either of the others.
The Pride Demon backed up by a Blood Mage and a horde of Shades on the Docks in "The Last Straw." Many people find that fight to be the toughest of the whole finale and cite it as a reason for sparing Anders, since he's the only healer at that point.
The second game makes changes to the dialogue wheel, predefined character with a voice, combat, and many other mechanics. This crops up as a complaint due to that. This is reflected in the reviews for the game, which range from "best RPG combat ever" and "refreshingly original narrative" to "dull and unnecessary gameplay changes" or "unfocused and inferior story." Most reviews seem to strike somewhere between the middle, though this still puts the game lower than Origins.
The DA:O rogue was something of a Skill Gate character, but complaints from players who couldn't get the hang of them were numerous enough to remake them into another flavor of fighter. It didn't help that the AI didn't provide a good example of how to use them. As a YMMV, the changes could be as much an improvement, as the rogue can now be played as another flavor of fighter, and lockpicking/traps cost no additional skill investment.
Relatedly, this change severely limited the Warrior class as well. Bow and Sword, in Accord warriors were one of the best builds in Awakening, but now the class doesn't even have access to archery abilities.
There are clashing opinions over various changes from Origins, particularly over character redesigns. Many were also displeased with how many Origins characters look with the new graphics engine. Especially worth noting are how the changes to the elves necessitated an alteration to Zevran's look, and that not everyone was happy about the Qunari getting horns.
The Fan Dumb entry above concerning the Grey Wardens is a perfect example of this trope.
Another common complaint is that it doesn't focus on the characters enough, when the substantial focus is actually about Hawke's relationship with their companions over the course of seven years, completely missing the point that unlike the first game, we get an indication that these people have a life outside of the main character.
True Art Is Angsty: This game is a poster child for this mentality, and many felt the writing veered into overdone melodrama.
Ugly Cute: Some have commented that the ghasts invoke this trope.
Those eyelids weren't made to be animated. And the eyebrows may look pleasant and harmless at rest, but more they come to life, the more they lurch. Nostrils seem to have been problematic as well. On the bright side, the eyes no longer have quite has much the dead-eyed stare from Origins.
Dwarves, with the exception of Varric. Their eyes look like they're made of acrylic, like something that a taxidermist attached to their faces after he was done stuffing them.
Also noticeable to tragic degree on Bethany if you take her to the Deep Roads. Makes you wonder why no one realized she was tainted sooner though. Oddly enough, the visual effects of the taint aren't present on Carver if he becomes infected.
Any fire you see is very nicely done, particularly considering how hard it is to make CGI fire look good.
Electricity also looks very good, especially when used in conjunction with Elemental Weapons, a mage talent that channels the elemental power of their staff to all the weapons of all party members. Seeing everyone's weapons coated in pure lightning while sparks fly all over the battlefield is a sight to behold, especially during nighttime battles.
Almost all of Anders' conversations and banters, as well as all of his quests, revolve around the plight of mages. The degree of championing changes as the series goes on—he browbeats everyone in the beginning, and gets progressively angrier and more introverted as it continues.
Anders: That's unfortunate. Hating someone just because they're a mage is a shameful thing.
Carver: I don't hate you because you're a mage. I hate you because you won't shut up about it.
Similarly, Fenris can't seem to go longer than half of a conversation without mentioning slavery/evil mages/Tevinter. Not that it isn't somewhat justified, given his background, but some of his lines about it go a bit over the top.
Fenris: I escaped a land of dark magic only to have it haunt me at every turn. It is a plague burned into my flesh and my soul.
In-universe, this is the main reason that Carver isn't overly popular in the party, as he comes off as rather whiny for reasons that are much more small-scale and even downright petty compared to the rest of the group and their problems. He mostly gets over it later in the game though.
Pol. Apparently, a few bits of gossip about meek, gentle Merrill is enough to get him to run away from her and right into the jaws of a Varterral that killed three of his fellows.
Emile de Launcet. He squanders the money his mother gives him to escape Kirkwall on drinks at the Hanged Man. He also falsely and publicly claims to be a Blood Mage because he thinks it'll help him get laid. Even Meredith dismisses him as a threat when she hears this.
Orsino. Besides his association with Quentin, who killed Hawke's mother, his reaction to the deaths of so many mages at the hands of the templars, which would have garnered public sympathy for the mages, was to prove Meredith right by turning himself into a Harvester and attacking Hawke and company.
The Woobie: It's almost easier to list those who aren't Woobies.
Hawke him/herself may be the crowner. Just try going through the game without wanting to give him/her a hug at some point. The best case scenario involves one sibling dead, his/her mother dead, him/herself vanishing from his/her new home at Kirkwall, and his/her other sibling as well as all his/her companions save his/her love interest driven from his/her side. The best case scenario.
Anders. Went from snarky comic relief to a paranoid and angsty nutcase. Life has not been good to him. His rudeness to various people, particularly Merrill, gradually edges him towards Jerkass Woobie before diving straight into Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds with his little stunt at the Chantry.
Justice too - he started out as a fairly benevolent spirit whose worst fear was to become a demon. In Awakening, he's friendly and in awe of everything in the world. In Dragon Age II his personality is warped even further than Anders, and gets progressively worse during the game as he becomes the very thing he feared the most.
Carver. The brother of a dead apostate sister has quite a chip on his shoulder having to protect his surviving apostate sibling, while proving that as the only warrior in the family that he isn't a burden. He's either forced into being a Warden and hates how he was always bailed out by his apostate sibling, or he joins the Templars and express how badly he wants to kill his only living connection left to prove something. Regardless of his choice, Carver just feels like he has no control over his own life.
Merrill. When you consider how the Dalish treat their entire tribe like family, the way they ostracize her seems exceedingly harsh. Her reaction to Pol's death was heart-wrenching, and her next personal quest includes a Player Punch. Fenris and Anders also say some incredibly cruel things to her from time to time.
Bethany. For one, she's an apostate, so her entire childhood was spent constantly on the lookout for Templars. Then, either she or her twin brother dies at the hands of an ogre. If she survives, and is taken to the Deep Roads, she's infected by the taint. Unless Anders is there, she dies. If he is there, then she undergoes the Joining. It's a harsh life and totally destroys any innocence she has left. But if you left her with Leandra, she's discovered by Cullen and is forced into the Circle, because otherwise her family will suffer reprisals for harboring an apostate. Either way, you don't see her again until the endgame. It gets a little better if you're pro-Mage and she joins the Circle. You get to free her from her bondage to the Circle and she isn't guaranteed a miserable life and a miserable death before she hits fifty.
She also clearly feels a great deal of guilt over the fact that her family spent most of their lives moving around Ferelden to protect her from the Templars. She feels like a burden and wonders aloud to Hawke if it wouldn't have been better for everyone if she had gone to the Circle long ago.
Leandra Hawke. She's a grieving widow to start, and then one of her children gets killed in the beginning of the game. Later, she learns that her brother stole her inheritance. Another of her children either dies or must spend the rest of his/her life in the Circle of Magi, the Templars, or the Grey Wardens, and no matter which is the case she never sees that child again. That's because to top it all off, she's kidnapped by Quentin and put through an And I Must Scream moment.
Even Gamlen has some Woobie qualities. Though he's to blame for gambling the family fortune away, you have to feel bad for him when you hear about how he nursed his ill parents in their dying days, only to have their last words be of Leandra, and leave all their money to her. He resents his sister due to this for quite a while (as a mirror to Carver/Hawke), before becoming utterly distraught and miserable when she's murdered. The one high point of his story is that you can unite him with a daughter he never knew he had.
The orphans under Evelina's care. First, they have to flee to Kirkwall's slums to eke out a living after their parents are killed in the Blight. Then they have to watch their surrogate mother be taken away by the Templars when she tries to appeal to the Circle for help. Then when she returns years later, she's become an insane abomination. Finally, they have to watch helplessly as Hawke and company slay her, leaving them alone to an uncertain future.
Might as well add the remaining party members into the Woobie category - Aveline's main source of Woobieness is that her husband dies in the prologue (with either her or Hawke dealing the killing blow), but she's also clearly scarred from the events in Ostagar, and in Act III has to deal with Jeven trying to spread insubordination among her guardsmen. Then there's Sebastian, whose backstory is that his whole family was killed off by assassins ( sent by his family's friends, no less), and in the game's finale his mother figure, Elthina, is blown up by Anders. Isabela's backstory reveals that she was sold by her mother in exchange for a goat, and lived as her husband's property until Zevran killed him off. Since then she's lived a pretty rough life as a pirate, and even notes when Merrill is feeling jealous of the 'excitement' that she shouldn't want Isabela's life, because she's a 'good person and deserves better'. If Izzy returns during the fight with the Qunari in Act II, Hawke can also hand her over to the Arishok so that she can be taken back with them for punishment. Lastly there's Varric, who's had to put up with Bartrand's Jerkassery for a long time, is betrayed by him in the Deep Roads, and then either has to kill Bartrand or spend the rest of his days looking after him now that his brother's completely insane.