Lady of War: Commander Helaine, the mage Inquisitor's Knight-Enchanter trainer, is imperious and authoritative and offers to grant you the same authority. When questioned about what she's actually done to earn that authority, she can't or won't back it up; apparently part of learning to be a Knight-Enchanter is to exude authority whether or not you actually have it.
In a bit of a running gag, every time you gain an advantage, one of the advisors will point out that it could be easily countered if your opponent wasn't a complete idiot who refuses to change any plan already in motion no matter how many times it comes back to bite him. This even gets a callback after he's dead and the Qunari plot in Trespasser comes to light; the advisors give several versions of "See? If he'd been smart enough to do this we'd have lost."
The Knight-Enchanter specialization has its signature Spirit Blade ability. The quest for acquiring the specialization for your player character involves constructing the hilt for one.
The Chromatic Greatsword, which may be gained by completing a mini-game in the Trespasser DLC, embodies this trope even more faithfully. When slung across the back, it appears as a simple hilt whose blade emerges lightsaber style when it is swung.
The Prismatic Greataxe, added as a quest reward in the Trespasser DLC, consists of a staff which sprouts twin axe heads in the same manner as the Chromatic Greatsword.
Also from Trespasser are the triplet swords Bolt, Brand, and Rime; the craftable version is called Brand. These consist of a one-handed sword handle, which creates a blade of elemental energy when drawn.
Also from Trespasser is the Blade of Tidarion, a unique "staff" that is actually a hilt that projects a magical elemental blade. Despite its weapon class it's swung like a greatsword, enabling even a non-Knight-Enchanter mage to fight as a Magic Knight.
Not Trespasser but the Jaws of Hakkon DLC introduced the various Hakkon weapons. It's unclear what their business ends are actually made of — their connection to Hakkon Wintersbreath, an ice-based Avvar deity, hints at some sort of frost magic — but they look like they consist of nothing but pure icy-white light and are exceedingly powerful. Unsurprisingly, the sight of entire squads of Avvar warriors (or your own team) wielding these glowy things is pretty awesome to behold.
Last-Name Basis: Everyone calls the Inquisitor by their surname, if a name is used at all; more often they address them as "Your Worship," "Inquisitor," or "Herald." However, Sera (romanced or not) will use the Inquisitor's name in her diary, and a romanced Cullen will use the female Inquisitor's first name when writing to his sister Mia. Her amusing response is viewable only in his codex entry near the end of the game, and by the time of Trespasser, Mia herself is calling her brother's sweetheart by her first name too.
It's offhandedly mentioned by one of the party members that back in the days of the advanced (but ultimately lost) Elvhen empire, some spells required decades to cast. These spells were apparently awesome to behold and blended with other magic to create an "unending symphony" of magical energy. But as Elves were immortal in that age, they didn't understand the concept of time, so such long casting seemed trivial.
Focus Abilities are the most powerful by far, but have tremendously long charging times.
Of particular note is Cassandra complaining to Varric that he always puts his characters through undeserved hell, and she wishes he'd hand out some happy endings. Varric points out that he does this (and regularly kills off characters) because happy, peaceful lives make for boring stories. Meanwhile, the player of this BioWare game can probably sympathize with Cassandra quite a bit... especially if you're anywhere near the Sadistic Choice involving Hawke in the Fade.
Dorian: Where do you get all your arrows, Sera? You have hundreds. Sera: From your arse, that's where. Dorian: My arse should open up a shop. It's apparently quite prolific.
Nugs are now seen in several areas wandering the surface. In previous games, nugs were said to only live underground. The codex entry for them has a character noticing this and wondering if killing Archdemons causes nugs to spawn.
A running joke is having characters ask Varric about odd things from the previous book, which is the last game.
Bull: Hey Varric, I was reading your stuff. Where do your bad guys come from? Varric: Well, some of them come from Tevinter, and some are Ben-Hassrath spies, but I like the stories where the villain was the man beside you all the time. The best villains don't see themselves as evil — they're fighting for a good cause, willing to get their hands dirty. Bull: All right... that's really deep and all, but I meant "where do the bad guys come from, literally?" The way you write it, it's like they just fall from the sky and land on top of the hero. Varric: I like to leave some things to the reader's imagination.
Leeroy Jenkins: The Charging Bull ability turns your AI warriors into this. The purpose of the ability is to charge through enemy lines and then stop, turning to attack them from behind. Not the AI, though. It just keeps going... and going... and going... A patch eventually altered the AI behavior for the talent, and they now stop once they impact their target.
The Easter Egg item "Ardent Blossom." It's a crown of white flowers... which adds a pretty hefty (for a helm) 41 armor and also negates 25% of a foe's armor on-strike.
"A Jar of Bees" also qualifies. Inflicting the "BEES!" (seriously) status effect on an enemy causes it to panic and then take more damage over time than any other effect, enough even to keep dragons grounded. Creatures immune to panic will still take damage. Fully upgrade the recipe and not only will the effect jump to the nearest enemy should the first die, it can inflict two enemies with every grenade thrown.
The melodic line of the game's main theme pops up a whole lot when things are intense or emotional, usually very skillfully executed. Eventually, it's revealed to be an instrumental version of a Chantry hymn titled "The Dawn Will Come."
The theme you hear upon entering Val Royeaux is sung in the tavern as "Empress of Fire." The Emerald Graves also uses a few chords of the leitmotif. Likewise, the theme played in the Hinterlands is "Samson," named after the leader of the Red Templars.
The "Thedas Love Theme" plays when you and your love interest get intimate and romantic and also when Solas breaks up with a romanced elf Inquisitor.
Level Scaling: Averted for Rifts and High Dragons. Everything else gets scaled within a certain level range depending on the zone or intended level range for major story missions (which is shown when you are about to start one). The "Even Ground" trial makes enemies always match your current level.
In a truly bizarre case, yes. After the relentlessly cynical Dragon Age II, this game is way more idealistic. Your party members are generally nicer, both to you and to each other; the mages and Templars have both been humbled a bit after years of war; and the Chantry looks like it's starting to learn from its mistakes. And, best of all, the color palette is much more vibrant.
It's not only your companions, either. Much like the Warden in Origins, the Inquisitor can be played as incredibly selfless, humble and heroic, and in fact is viewed as a messianic figure. The Chantry (already portrayed as reasonable and well-intentioned, if mired in bureaucracy and typical power-struggles) has a lot of sympathetic characters, and it has some truly noble goals amidst all the political nonsense. And unlike Dragon Age II, here your actions change the world for the better.
Becomes a Subverted Trope with regards to the Trespasser DLC. The final conclusion of the game is that the world is on the brink of multiple conflicts on multiple fronts, with Tevinter and the Qunari, Fen'Harel's plans, the mysterious conflict happening in Weisshaupt, and all the odds and ends you did not resolve in the main game. If anything, it's more ominous than the conclusion of Dragon Age II.
Limit Break: Focus Abilities are exceptionally powerful spells and skills that can only be used through teamwork, building up over time as your party coordinates attacks and brings down enemies. Inquisition Perks can be spent to gain more focus bars, which are spent all at once to make the abilities more powerful. A character's Focus Ability is determined by their specialization; there are nine specializations, one for each companion.
The Inquisitor:note The Inquisitor is the only character that potentially has access to up to three Focus Abilities Mark of the Rift. Causes damage in a large area and can banish demons outright.
Templar (Cassandra): Rally. All party members gain guard, additional mana/stamina regeneration, and damage resistance for fifteen seconds. Additional focus improves the effect.
Champion (Blackwall): Counterstrike. The user draws the attention of all enemies, gains full guard, and automatically counters all melee attacks. Additional focus lengthens the duration.
Reaver (Iron Bull): Rampage. The user attacks faster, causes more damage per hit, and absorbs enemy health for ten seconds. Additional focus increases the effect. The health absorption effect of Rampage and the health drain effect of Dragon Rage cancel each other out.
Assassin (Cole): Cloak of Shadows. All party members are made invisible for a set amount of time. Additional focus lengthens the duration.
Tempest (Sera): Thousand Cuts. A target and any other enemies surrounding it are attacked many times. Each hit strikes for three hundred percent of a normal attack. Additional focus increases the number of hits.
Artificer (Varric): Hail of Arrows. Any archery ability is used three times at once for a set amount of time. Additional focus increases the duration.
Knight-Enchanter (Vivienne): Resurgence. All party members, both conscious and KO'd, are fully healed and a glyph is placed that continues to heal all party members within it every second for ten seconds. Additional focus increases the amount healed by the glyph.
Necromancer (Dorian): Haste. Increases the party's speed by eighty-five percent. Displayed as the rest of the world being slowed while the party moves normally. Additional focus increases the duration.
Rift Mage (Solas): Firestorm. Rains flaming meteors over a six meter radius. Each individual meteor causes a hundred-fifty percent of a normal attack. Additional focus increases the number of meteors.
Literally Shattered Lives: Any foe who suffers a death blow from a magical frost effect will freeze solid, then explode in a blast of blood and frozen bits. On a gameplay mechanic level, combos can be performed by a mage freezing a foe solid with frost magic and then any rogue or warrior using a talent that deals a single particularly hard-hitting blow, dealing the "Shattering" effect, killing them instantly.Only low-leveled foes can be killed this way. In-universe, the Iron Bull loves doing this, and in banter keeps asking Vivienne to set them up.
"Bring Me the Heart of Snow White" is Vivienne's personal quest, riffing on her own self-made reputation as a villain, complete with a certain other Disney Villain's hat. The "Snow White" of the quest is a snowy wyvern in the Exalted Plains, which Vivienne needs for a potion of life for her dying lover/patron Duke Bastien de Ghislain.
Corypheus is from ancient Tevinter, and remembers when it was at the height of its power. Restoring it to its former glory is one of his primary goals.
Locked Out of the Loop: If Alistair is King of Ferelden and the Inquisitor saves the mages, Alistair gets a cameo in which he meets his mother, Grand Enchanter Fiona, but she can't say anything and he has no clue.
Loophole Abuse: The Golden Nug provides a form of this, for players who have it, albeit a form which was actually designed by the game makers themselves. Having this allows the player to purchase expensive schematics in a complete or nearly-complete game, and then use the Golden Nug to transmit them to new games - thereby granting new Inquisitors access to much better weapons and equipment than they would normally have in the early acts of the game. It adds to the game's replay value by making subsequent runs easier.
Lost in Translation: The Saga of Tyrdda Bright-Axe in the Hinterlands region, a collection of "Tales"-category Codex entries found when discovering eight specific landmarks in the region. It talks of Tyrdda Bright-Axe, the "Avvar-mother" who founded the Avvar barbarian tribe. Her legend mark "bright-axe" is described in the (translated) saga as such: "Bright her axe, unbreaking crystal, stirred to flame when temper flies". Historians studying the text apparently mistranslated the ancient Avvar word for "axe," as they thought her axe was topped with a crystal, or was made of some magically reinforced crystalline head, or even just really polished. It turns out they mistranslated "axe" from "hafted weapon". The weapon itself, after being found in a war table mission, is actually a Fire-typeMagic Staff topped with a crystal; Tyrdda was a mage. In light of that revelation, the parts of the saga which talk about dreams, demons, and her love affair with the Lady of the Skies (a powerful spirit) make much more sense.
Give Dorian the Virulent Walking Bomb upgrade and this will happen a lot. An archer's Explosive Arrow ability also tends to do this upon dealing a killing blow, as do critical kills on occasion.
Certain masterwork materials confer the "On kill: targets explode for X% of weapon damage" perk, with higher-quality materials dealing more damage. Very handy for dealing with Zerg Rushes, especially because the detonation can trigger chain reactions on other weakened enemies nearby.
Any smaller enemy that is killed by an electrical attack will sizzle with electricity for a moment, than detonate messily. This one is just a graphics effect, though.
Ludicrous Precision: A Tranquil and a dwarf discuss possibilities of disposing of the Red Lyrium in the Emprise du Lion region after you take Suledin Keep. The Tranquil states the infinitesimally small odds of complete eradication of the red lyrium.
Mage Tower: You can build one at Skyhold, though it's a cosmetic upgrade. In a minor example, Solas and Dorian (and Fiona, if you sided with the apostate mages) move into a tower off the main hall immediately after the Inquisition occupies Skyhold, but that same tower also functions as the library and the rookery for Leliana's birds.
The Knight Enchanter. It turns out to be a "Circle-approved" version of the elven Arcane Warrior style. Properly kitted-out, a Knight Enchanter is extremely powerful. Their spirit blade utterly destroys an enemy's magic Barrier or physical Guard meter and counts as Spirit damage, to which many demons are weak. Further passive perks let them regenerate their own barrier when they deal damage and regenerate mana quickly when near an enemy, so they can outlast an enemy while blasting through whatever defenses they put up.
Description: Wrapped in protective magics and wielding blades of arcane force, the Knight Enchanters are rare but inspiring sights as they lead the charge into enemy ranks.
One of the multiplayer characters is more like an old-school Arcane Warrior (it's his class, too).
Magnetic Plot Device: Can be equally applied to both the Anchor and the Orb - both cause the hero (an otherwise "normal" person) to get dragged into wackiness over and over. A description of the Anchor is offered as "a needle pulling thread". The Inquisitor is the thread, not the needle - where the Anchor leads, they follow. And because the Anchor is a function of the Orb, they're intertwined.
Averted with the War Table mechanic. Inquisition power is split between three departments: Forces (Military), Secrets (Spies), and Connections (Diplomacy). The three advisors in charge of these departments will ask the Inquisitor for clearance to send their subordinates on missions which suit their skills (although most missions can be completed by any department, some are more efficient than others). There's a massive number of missions in the game that the main characters never even have to touch.
Played straight with the in-game map areas. The Inquisitor and their companions do everything here, including raiding keeps and forts, saving villages, performing random petty deeds, and fighting dragons and demons. Sometimes this is unavoidable (Fade Rifts can only be closed by the Inquisitor), but sometimes it's downright silly (the Inquisitor could send a small company or group of agents to deliver flowers to a grave site or look for a lost pet — there's no credible reason they would need to do it themselves). However, in some zones the player does need to call upon the Inquisition to repair a bridge or the like. You can also run into soldiers searching for useful materials in zones where you have enough camps set up, and they will often have a chest with a few goods for you ready.
Marked Bullet: During the Siege of Adamant, you can come across a boulder that one of your forces' trebuchets hurled inside. In a formal script, it has "All who walk in the sight of The Maker are one." Beneath it, a more vulgar soldier wrote "Stick this in your taint, Blighty!"
A Master Makes Their Own Tools: This is the point of Prestige Class-unlocking sidequests. In order to take a specific specialization, the Inquisitor first has to construct a set of tools specific to it: for instance, Assassins need to forge a special dagger, Artificers require a trap-making kit, etc.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Is the "Herald of Andraste" really guided by some divine providence or are they just that outrageously lucky? The game gives no clear answer to this question, and it's up to the player how the Inquisitor interprets this. Well, technically they are being guided by a divine being in the form of Solas, but whether the Maker is involved is up in the air.
Meaningful Echo: Cassandra at the start of the game and, quoted below, the Inquisitor (regardless of choices) at the end of Trespasser.
Inquisitor: You all know what it is. A writ from Divine Justinia authorizing the formation of the Inquisition. We pledged to close the Breach, find those responsible, and restore order. With or without anyone's approval.
An option during the assault on Haven. You can either run straight for the Chantry doors, or put a great deal of effort and risk into rescuing various civilians and a couple of soldiers along the way.
During the the battle at Adamant, you can either keep Hawke with you the whole time, or send them away briefly to help your soldiers. Prior to that, you can also tell Cullen not to take any risks that would endanger the soldiers unnecessarily.
Seen during one conversation with Leliana; you can either observe that the soldiers and agents are giving their lives for a worthy cause, or comment that they are not tools and should not be regarded as such. This conversation is one of the two which factors into whether or not Leliana can be "softened."
The Merch: In-universe. Several requisition table tickets involve producing some manner of Inquisition-branded merchandise for public relations fostering.
Mission Control: Leliana, Josephine, Cullen, and a few unnamed characters provide this in the multiplayer, framed as a report to the Inquisitor.
Similar to Origins, although it only covers major choices rather than individual companions. Morrigan narrates the immediate future of the Chantry, the mages and Templars, Orlais, and the Grey Wardens.
Trespasser ends on one, covering the lives of your companions and the fate of the Inquisition itself.
Moment Killer: Several romances include people walking in on private moments. Cullen even manages to resurrect one moments after it gets stabbed.
Monster Is a Mommy: Seen in a minor side quest in the Emerald Graves, when the Inquisitor is tasked with dealing with an enormous great bear that attacks the camps. Turns out that she's a mother with three cubs; unfortunately, because all bears in the game are aggressive by design, the only way to resolve the quest is to kill all four of them.
Monty Haul: The Descent showers you with loads and loads of loot. Most of it is pretty generic Vendor Trash, but it adds up to obscene, six-digit figures if you keep hauling it up to the surface for sale. Potentially justified, as you are plundering ruins of the ancient dwarven civilization which have not seen a looter since the First Blight. On the other hand, the Deep Roads also serve as an epic Power Sink, since all the construction operations to access collapsed areas cost 8-10 Power points apiece, and you aren't getting much of it back, since there are no Rifts or similar down there. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, since you will still end up with a significant amount of Power left over even after the cost of main quests and opening new areas.
Mook Maker: Fade Rifts continuously summon demons until the Inquisitor closes them.
Moral Event Horizon: Plenty of characters in the game consider making someone tranquil to be this. No matter how deserving an antagonist may be of A Fate Worse Than Death, if you decide to go down that road instead of granting a quick, clean and easy death (or something else, not only will the mages in your employ disapprove, but also plenty of your companions.
You must choose whether to ally with the mages or with the Templars. The group you don't pick will be partly destroyed, partly enslaved by the Elder One.
"Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts" eventually changes from a "stop the assassin" plot to a "stop the Empire from falling, no matter what the cost" plot. This means that you have several methods of resolving it, with many different possible outcomes for each person vying for the throne, but every last one of them has negative consequences. The most direct consequence is that you must cause the death of at least one of the contenders for the throne. Other consequences are only revealed in the Epilogue, such as the fact that even if you do save all three parties, another war seems inevitable.
Whoever drinks from the Well of Sorrows will get a rude awakening just before the final battle.
In the Trespasser DLC, the Inquisition will either continue as a peacekeeping force, or be disbanded entirely. Retaining the Inquisition allows the Inquisitor to maintain massive resources for the upcoming battle against Solas, but at the cost of the organization being vulnerable to corruption and infiltration. Disbanding the Inquisition means that all its forces go their separate ways, and the Inquisitor loses almost all of their resources and connections, but a core group of True Companions are still on task to stop Solas. In both cases, they are also recruiting new members for the upcoming fight.
Moving the Goalposts: Discussed between Mother Giselle and an Inquisitor that admits to a Crisis of Faith after the discovery at Adamant Fortress. Specifically, the Inquisitor says that everyone was wrong about Andraste being the one that gave them their mark and helped them escape the Fade. Since it was Divine Justinia the whole time, everything that makes them a Chosen One is a lie. Giselle says that you were probably chosen indirectly and that the fact that Andraste saved you is Metaphorically True. You can then call her out for changing the definition of "Chosen" to sound like what everyone just wants to hear.
Multinational Team: The Free Marches, Nevarra, Orlais, Ferelden, Antiva, Tevinter, the Dales, Par Vollen, the Fade, and (secretly) Elvhenan are all represented in the Inquisition. Depending on the player's choices, it can also have allies in the Deep Roads Dwarves, the Anderfels, and the Avvar.
Multiple-Choice Past: A more literal example than most, as the online Keep is used rather than directly importing saves from the older titles, which allows players to tailor the major events of the first two games to their liking. For the new character, the general origin story is preset, but the player gets opportunities to choose how certain aspects of it played out in conversations.
If the Inquisitor is from a human noble family, in one optional conversation with Josephine, Josephine will ask the Inquisitor if the Inquisition could take advantage of their noble lineage to gain allies, and will ask about the Inquisitor's relationship with their parents. The Inquisitor can give multiple answers, from their parents trusting them, to not being in their good graces, etc. Human mages have an optional conversation with Vivienne where they can discuss what their life was like in the Circle prior to the mage rebellion.
A Qunari Inquisitor can discuss their views on the Qun - which they were raised outside of - as well as their involvement in mercenary work, including any particularly impressive jobs they completed.
A dwarf Inquisitor can say whether or not they believe in the dwarven religion, whether or not they've been to Orzammar, what their job for the Carta was, and whether or not they miss that work.
A Dalish Inquisitor can vary in their belief in Dalish gods, whether or not they enjoyed the Dalish life in the wild, what they feel the best path of the Dalish should be, and their opinions in general of humans and whether they are angered by humans' treatment of elves.
Magical green veilfire exists primarily to reveal hidden glyphs and solve puzzles, but since you're able to carry around a torch of it, it's also very convenient for illuminating the way around dark caves and ruins. Its codex entry notes that mages like to use it simply as a light source, since it requires no fuel.
Mages that are impatient and without horses can use Fade Step to get around in short bursts- it beats walking.
Trespasser offers the Veilstrike Focus ability that turns your Inquisitor's devastating Limit Break into... a magical flashlight with very limited duration. It also makes your party invincible, but that lasts for barely three seconds, so it's hardly any more useful.
Murder, Inc.: The House of Repose in Orlais is an exceedingly polite and honour-invested version of this trope, upholding a contract signed over a hundred years ago because not following through might tarnish their reputation, even though all the original parties involved are long since dead from natural causes. They are even willing to explain the details of the unusual circumstances to the victim-to-be as a gesture of courtesy (out of embarrassment, according to their representative). And they have no objection to Josephine attempting to revoke the contract; they make no move to stop her from doing so, only acting according to the contract itself, and if she succeeds, they immediately cease and desist.
Mutually Exclusive Party Members: A temporary example late in Act 1. Depending on whether you go after the mages or Templars, you will not be able to have Cole or Dorian in your party, respectively, until after the attack on Haven.
My Beloved Smother: The Inquisitor can find a letter in Skyhold addressed to one of Leliana's agents, Rector. The letter was written by his overly fussy mother, who nags her son to get a warm blanket and then complains over his insistence that he be referred to by his code name.
What do you mean I have to address the letters to "Rector?" Is that what they call you there? Why? Your name is Wilbur Quigley. It's a good name. Wilbur was your uncle's name. He fought in the Battle of River Dane; we are all so proud of him. Are you ashamed of your given name? Why are you ashamed, Wilbur?
There's a ladder with the phrase "Can I get you a ladder to get off my back?" scratched into it, which was a notoriously annoying battle quote for a violent-voiced Warden in Dragon Age: Origins.
Another example occurs when Iron Bull complains about the taste of the concoctions the healer of his mercenary company makes. Said healer reminds him that they are poultices and therefore not meant to be ingested (which is what your party members did with them in Dragon Age: Origins).
Yet another involving Iron Bull takes place after his personal quest, if you sacrificed the Qunari Dreadnaught; Saar-qamek returns from Dragon Age II, but this time in liquid form on the blade of a Ben-Hassrath agent sent after Bull.
Similarly, a common complaint among fans is that Templars, the elite mage-hunting armed forces, seem to be totally oblivious of the apostates in your party in the second game walking around wearing full robes and carrying giant magical sticks. In Inquisition, there's a Dalish mage dressed the same way who insists she's carrying a "bow", not a staff, even as the Inquisitor and the rest of her team point out her Paper-Thin Disguise. (The "bow" is seen in the tie-in comic Magekiller. It actually is shaped like a bow.)
When talking about the events at the grand ball the Empress of Orlais threw, Dorian remarks, "I hope you tried the ham they were serving. It tasted of despair. Fascinating." The ham also gets a mention in Party Banter when Varric and Blackwall compare the worst things they've ever eaten.
In the Trespasser DLC, when a romanced Cullen asks the Inquisitor to marry him, there's a mabari playing around his feet who keeps barking in between sentences. This is absolutely because the mabari in Origins was a notorious Moment Killer who barked audibly through all the conversations at camp, including the romance dialogues.
One that crosses Bioware universes can be found in the Lost Temple of Dirthamen, where picking up any of the Plot Coupons within triggers the very same hackles-raising scream that announces the arrival of a Banshee in Mass Effect 3.
Naughty Nuns: Right outside of the Haven Chantry at the start of the game, there's a Lay Sister that swoons over the Iron Bull after he joins the camp. During one conversation between herself and another sister, she comments that the reason she's walking funny today is because she went to his tent the night before to "thank" him for all his work for the Inquisition. Then he thanked her all night long. Like we said, she is a Lay Sister.
Nay-Theist: Subverted; while the Inquisition is not a part of the Chantry and can have some anti-Chantry policies, it is still a fundamentally Andrastian organization, in spite of the fact that the Inquisitor can be a non-believer.
Blackwall: So... You were the Divine's right hand, and Leliana the left? Cassandra: Yes. And if you make a joke about the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing, I will punch you. Blackwall: Heh, I would never make such a terrible joke.
New Game+: Trespasser released with a free patch that included "the Golden Nug" statue, which becomes accessible once you've completed the main story. Using it will save all of your schematics, recipes, herb seeds, and Skyhold decor, allowing you to access them all by using the Golden Nug in another playthrough, even if you're midway through the game. This allows you to craft endgame schematics on a new character, though you will still have to work with early game materials, resulting in gear that is stronger than what you'd be able to craft with a completely fresh character, but weaker than properly endgame gear.
The Arc Villains for the Mage/Templar recruitment missions tell you the Elder One's plans in their attempts to destroy you. Alexius accidentally sends you one year into the future in a botched attempt to erase you from the timeline, and you find out from your captured friends what happened. The envy demon taunts you with what it will do once it has impersonated you.
When the Nightmare is taunting you in the fade, it lets slip that it is the medium through which Corypheus commands his demon army. The Justinia-impersonating spirit then flips that around by sweetly remarking, "So if we banish you, we defeat the demon army? Thank you for that information, embodiment of all that men fear." Nightmare realizes his folly with an angry snarl afterwards.
From the resolution of Trespasser this could be leveled at Corypheus of all people. Had he not gone on a power trip with the Orb of Destruction and used it counter to Solas/Fen'Harel's intent, things would have gone even worse for everybody.
No Canon for the Wicked: Hawke has nothing good to say about Blood Magic, even if they were involved with Merrill and/or personally practised it. Of course, Tevinter mages and human sacrifices are also involved in this instance.
Baron Havard-Pierre d'Amortisan is a noble adventurer from Orlais who authored many of the notes you find in the game that serve as codex entries for various creatures like the quillback and the bogfisher. He has a penchant for Purple Prose, typically dips into cosmic horror when writing, has a scribe named Dunwich, and bears an uncanny resemblance (compare the two here and here◊) to Howard Phillips Lovecraft, creator of the Cthulhu Mythos. The fictional Havard-Pierre shares his first two initials with Lovecraft, while Amortisan is a Portmanteau of amor and artisan — the French word for love, and another word for a craftsman. You get to meet him and Dunwich in two particularly funny missions in the Jaws of Hakkon DLC.
No Kill Like Overkill: Varric has a chain of war table missions to track down whoever's ripping off his famous novel Hard in Hightown. The first unauthorized sequel (Siege Harder) was seen in the previous game, and this one adds another (The Re-Punchening). Said ripoffs are apparently so hilariously bad that when Leliana's agents finally catch the perp with another manuscript in progress, they mention in their report that they burned it, doused it in acid and then threw it into the sea. This happens after the previous mission already made Skyhold's code breaker department want to ritually burn the volume they were to peruse for hidden messages.
Noodle Implements: During one of their banters, Cassandra tells Dorian that she had heard odd stories about Tevinter Templars, to which Dorian replies they are all true, even the part with "the grapes and feathers". Cassandra says she was hoping to ask about that actually.
No Party Like a Donner Party: A codex in the Western Approach details an expedition that met this fate. After being trapped in the Blighted desert for three months, the remaining members of the Dorel party ended up eating the dead and drinking their blood.
No Power, No Color: In The Stinger, Solas is revealed to be Fen'Harel, the ancient elven trickster god. He approaches Flemeth and absorbs her powers, killing her in the process. Her lifeless body immediately turns ash-gray and colorless.
No-Sell: The Champion warrior specialization "Walking Fortress" ability and the Knight-Enchanter's "Fade Cloak" ability. Walking Fortress lasts longer, while Fade Cloak recharges more quickly and allows you to bypass whoever's opposing you by walking through them. Their augmenting skills diverge them even further, with Walking Fortress generating guard for every blow sustained under its effect (helping with tanking after the No-Sell effect wears off), and Fade Cloak gaining the power to Tele-Frag for massive spirit damage if it wears off while you're inside someone.
If your court approval drops to 0 during the Winter Palace mission, you will be forcefully evicted from the ball, and within a few in-story hours, Empress Celene is assassinated, Grand Duke Gaspard gets accused of high treason, Orlais descends into chaos, and the Elder One basically wins.
There are also a few cases where a normal game over (entire party dead) results in a non-standard game over text describing the outcome rather than the usual "Your Journey Ends" message. Mainly these are during main story quests: in order, if your character dies at the start with just Cassandra you won't get a second chance; if your whole party dies before closing the breach; if you die in "Champions of the Just" or "In Hushed Whispers"; if you fall at Haven; if you are kicked out of the Winter Palace; if you are lost in the fade; if you die at the Dalish ruins or fighting the dragon; or if you die during the final battle.
Leliana has one involving a ball of twine, a measuring stick, and a handkerchief. She doesn't mention it herself, but Josephine tells you that if you ever see her approaching with those objects in hand, run.
Leliana also tells you it's not a party until someone's undergarments end up nailed to a Chantry board, which is also a Call-Back to the Leliana's Song DLC.
Dorian brings one up when asked about Tevinter. It involves flying cows over Minrathous, though he asserts they did not have wings.
When Cassandra starts to inquire about Templars in the Imperium, Dorian preemptively informs her that every rumor she's heard is true, "particularly the part with the grapes and feathers." She admits she was leading up to that one.
The Inquisitor has the option to tell a story about themselves during Varric's Wicked Grace game, and since we only hear the beginning and the end of the story, it becomes this trope. The story will be different depending on the Inquisitor's background. Every version somehow involves a rabbit and Josephine declares it so scandalous that the Inquisition would be ruined if it became public knowledge. (She also requests to hear it again.)
If the Inquisitor is a Dalish Elf, the story starts with the Inquisitor's clan camping near a ruined fortress and hearing strange noises from inside and ends with naked people fleeing back to their village.
If the Inquisitor is a Qunari, the story starts with the Inquisitor's mercenary group hired to escort a merchant's caravan, and ends with the group's leader having a Let Us Never Speak of This Again moment with one of the caravan's mules.
If the Inquisitor is a Human and is not a mage, the story begins with the Inquisitor's aunt making the Inquisitor's entire family attend an opera, and ends with the Inquisitor's aunt refusing to speak to him/her for three months.
If the Inquisitor is a Human Mage, the story begins with the Inquisitor's Harrowing, and the Inquisitor feeling like something was missing, and ends with the Inquisitor somehow ending up in the Ostwick Circle's history book and the First Enchanter vowing never to speak of the incident again.
If the Inquisitor is a Dwarf, the story begins with the Inquisitor being sent to collect protection money from an elderly seamstress, and ends with the seamstress ending up never having to pay protection money again, and the mere mention of her name apparently terrifying the Inquisitor's boss.
At one point, it is possible that the Inquisitor is required to pass judgment on a corpse. There is apparently precedent (although this is only seen if they have the Nobility Knowledge perk).
The incident at the Conclave is, for the first half of the game, more or less a Noodle Incident. What was supposed to be a peace delegation between rebel Templars and mages ended with a massive explosion and a hole to the Fade itself torn in the sky, and nobody knows why because the only person who was there and didn't die (you) is suffering from massive Trauma-Induced Amnesia.
When Varric is discussing his novels with Cassandra, he'll mention that his editor is a stickler for grammar.
If taken to the Hissing Wastes, Blackwall shares a story about a disastrous search and rescue mission to the Silent Plains. After enduring a two-day Mushroom Samba because they lost their food to a flash flood and had nothing to eat except some berries the newest member of the group had found (Blackwall thought a ring of nugs was singing sea shanties at him), they awoke to find that a bunch of ghasts had stolen their weapons and armor and were dragging them off to some pit.
Inquisitor: How did you escape? Blackwall: You'd be surprised what a man armed with a rock and a headache can do.
The death of the Dowager's ninth husband. The previous eight all had clear (if weird) causes of death, but all she says about the ninth is that it was the most violent tailoring accident anyone had ever seen.
Redcliffe Castle gets taken over by the Venatori and, like in Origins, you're tasked with reclaiming it. Leliana even brings up the secret passage from the windmill.
The entire Winter Palace section is a salute to the fancy-party-plus-murder-spree Mark of the Assassin DLC from Dragon Age II - which in itself was probably inspired by the Stolen Memories DLC from Mass Effect 2.
Not Quite the Right Thing: During Dorian's personal quest where you meet up with his estranged father who Dorian is currently furious with due to attempting to use blood magic on Dorian to make him straight, you get the option to either tell Dorian to hear out his father or to cut his father out of his life and leave. The latter option doesn't make Dorian mad at you, but it's clear the better outcome is to let Dorian's father say his piece (especially since he only wants to apologize for destroying their relationship). Dorian even gets a big approval boost with you if you tell him to talk to his father.
"Not Wearing Pants" Dream: According to one of the dialogue choices after their conversation in the Fade (and thus in their dreams) with Solas, the Inquisitor once dreamed they stood in front of the war table naked.
The player can invoke this on any interactible object by pressing the "Search" button, which not only highlights said object, but provides a guide for plot-important items or collectibles. To be extra thorough on it, not only does the radar HUD flash and display dots for location, but party members sometimes flat out tell you to use search (phrased appropriately, of course). Console gamers will also feel the controller vibrate in their hands when something hidden is nearby.
In the Hissing Wastes, there are three ginormous hoodoos that dominate the map, easily the largest landmarks in the entire game. The Wastes are otherwise relatively empty, making it easy for you to see them no matter where you are. This is important for the "tomb raiding" quest there, because the only clues you're given are sketches of the hoodoos from specific angles to demonstrate where you need to be standing.
Oblivious Guilt Slinging: On subsequent playthroughs, it becomes clear that the Inquisitor is often the cause of this in Solas if they are friendly.
Occam's Razor: Completely ignored by everyone who believes in the stories that Andraste herself rescued the Herald from the Fade. Absolutely no one suggests that it could have been someone else that was present at the Conclave. And sure enough, it turns out to be Divine Justinia, literally the last person seen with the Inquisitor. Even the people present at the Temple, who see and hear the vision of Her Holiness talking to the future Herald, don't even posit that this was the option with the least amount of assumptions.
A memory found in the Fade dates from the First Blight, from a worshiper of Dumat. He muses how the darkspawn are bringing the empire to its knees, undoing centuries of achievements, and they stand at the gate. Then he sees Dumat, and recognizes his god based on his iconography, for a moment believing he's answered their prayers... then he realizes that Dumat's scales are mottled and decrepit, much like the appearance of the darkspawn... and then Dumat breathes fire upon the city...
Also in the Fade, the words "Oh crap" actually come up as a dialogue option when the Inquisitor is conversing with Divine Justinia. If this option is selected, however, the actual words spoken will be "Well, shit."
Old Save Bonus: Seems to be averted for the first time in the series, but in an unusual way. Dragon Age Keep, a web application that allows players to replicate their old world states for import to eighth-gen consoles, has manual input as the default method of world state creations (though it does try to salvage as much data as it can if you uploaded your DA player profiles to any of the Origin services earlier). Since everyone can use DAK, those who jump into the series at Inquisition and choose to customize their backstory won't be at a disadvantage compared to those who recreate their personal world state from the previous games (unlike in Mass Effect 3). However, it's not much of a bonus in gameplay terms, though some circumstances can lead to some additional war table missions. The rest is chiefly background fluff; for example, you can ask Varric about the fate of your other teammates from the second game, or ask Leliana about her relationship with the Warden from Origins.
Once More, with Clarity!: Near the start of the game we see part of Inquisitor's involvement in the events that set the plot in motion, where they sound unsure and maybe a little clueless of... oh, in as many words, what's going on here. Later in the Fade, the scene plays proper where a furious Inquisitor storms in demanding answers.
Sera makes it pretty clear from the outset that all she cares about is her fun, and her irreverence and confrontational personality regularly result in situations where she, and only she, is having a blast at the expense of whoever happens to be her current target. The pranks she pulls on the Inquisition's leadership are just some of many examples.
In the "Tresspasser" DLC, Josephine invites the Inquisitor to join her for an evening of Orlesian opera. Should they accept, the scene which follows makes it clear that Josephine is enjoying herself, but the Inquisitor, not so much.
Only Sane Man: One note found in the Exalted Plains consists of the journal of a mining foreman. At one point, a team of diggers breaks through into an elven tomb; the foreman immediately orders the tunnel to be closed off and for the teams to move to a different location to dig. The next entry is about him trying to convince the team that opened the tomb that 'vast elven riches' that probably don't exist aren't worth the danger. The last entry sees him trying to convince the rest of the miners to keep working (elsewhere) after the team of idiots has predictably died.
Opening the Sandbox: After the Inquisition is formed, you gain the freedom to explore three open world areas. The sandbox fully opens after you acquire Skyhold and obtain access to the rest of the open world areas. This leads to the "Leave the Hinterlands" meme.
Optional Party Member: Cassandra, Varric and Solas are the only party members that you are required to keep. All others can be turned away when they offer to join you; Sera, Vivienne, and Blackwall can be avoided entirely by simply not doing their recruitment quests. There are also other options to turn them away later (and Sera can be turned away at any time.)
The Order: The Inquisition, an organization formed to restore order and root out conspiracy.
Order Reborn: The original Inquisition was disbanded nearly a thousand years ago and became the Seekers of Truth when the Chantry was founded.
Cassandra is occasionally described as "crusading" in the dialogue, even though the holy wars in the Andrastian religion are called Exalted Marches, and the etymological root of the word "crusade" is "Cross", a real-life Christian religious symbol.
Varric, at one point, exclaims, "Jeez!" in party banter. "Jeez" is a shortened form of the "Jesus Christ!" blaspheme, even though in this world, Jesus has been replaced by Andraste.
When asked about the hostile apostates in the Hinterlands, Corporal Vale says the rebel mages holed up in Redcliffe have washed their hands of them. This phrase originates from the Bible's account of Pontius Pilate washing his hands and refusing to condemn Jesus. Unless a similar thing happened with Andraste, they shouldn't know this phrase in Thedas.
In talking about her and Leliana's service as the Hands of the Divine, Cassandra grumbles that Blackwall had better not joke about "The left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing." This expression originates in the Biblical book of Matthew, where Jesus instructs his followers not to make a public display of piety or good works.
Unlike the previous games, which each gave us a single high dragon to kill, Inquisition features a total of twelve of them, introducing a bit of variety in their appearance, abilities, and tactics. Ten are optional Bonus Bosses available in the base game, one only shows up if the Inquisitor drinks from the Well of Sorrows, and the last serves as the Final Boss of the Jaws of Hakkon DLC.
The Elder One has a pet dragon on his leash, which looks like an Archdemon but is eventually revealed to be just a regular high dragon corrupted by the Blight.
Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Played for laughs during Varric's party banter with The Iron Bull. When Varric asks if Bull knows Tallis, Bull sarcastically asks if Varric knows a Dwarf he met once, giving an incredibly vague description that applies to pretty much all Dwarves. Varric blithely responds that odds are he knows only knows him but is owed money by him.
Varric and his personal quest are the only time dwarves are involved in the main game, other than a few war map missions and references to the lyrium trade. They also feature in The Descent DLC, which has some revelations about their past and a few temporary party members.
Darkspawn also play a fairly minor role, even compared to Dragon Age II. You could finish the main storyline without killing a single one of them except Corypheus, of course. The low number of darkspawn encounters is also a plot point, since it's a hint that Corypheus's dragon isn't really an Archdemon.
The Desire and Hunger demons apparently decided to sit this invasion out. This one really jumps out since Desire was always the type willing to directly make deals in previous entries, and thus were essentially The Face for Demons as a faction.
Pair the Spares: If both are unromanced, and are in the party together often enough to trigger the requisite dialogue, the Iron Bull and Dorian will begin a relationship. There is also an indication that Josephine and Blackwall share a mutual attraction if neither is romanced, though this doesn't go much of anywhere after the truth about Blackwall becomes known. An un-romanced Sera will also hook up with Dagna after the main quest, and according to the last DLC's ending, they're still together. Finally, in the Trespasser DLC, it's possible for Maryden (the bard) to hook up with Krem, ZITHER!, or Cole (depending on how "Demands of the Qun" and "Subjected to His Will" were resolved) and for the Inquisitor, if they didn't romance anyone else, to start dating Harding.
Papa Wolf: A rare villainous example with Magister Alexius - everything he does in the game is intended to save his son's life.
Party in My Pocket: Party members disappear when the Inquisitor is mounted and reappear when the Inquisitor dismounts. The devs originally intended for everyone to have their own horses to ride, but in the end the idea was scrapped.
Party of Representatives: Party members embody various viewpoints and have differing levels of investment in certain issues, as discussed here.
Inverted as of the final game. Pretty much every companion is an example of My Species Doth Protest Too Much, and most join the Inquisition to lend their services by pointedly breaking away or distancing themselves from their own group: Varric the surface dwarf doesn't care for anything dwarven in nature, Solas and Sera are highly critical of and distance themselves from all other elves, the Iron Bull has been Going Native for so long he might as well be Tal-Vashoth, Dorian is tired of the cliche villainy his country is known for, etc. As a result, pretty much every companion and adviser ends up regurgitating the exact same Andrastian human muggle worldviews. (With only a few exceptions.)
Paying It Forward: Sutherland asks the Inquisitor to give him a chance to prove himself as a field agent (basically asking for a sword to scare some bandits away from his home village). Repeatedly putting your trust in him and his slowly-growing Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, instead of dismissing them as just another gang of upstarts, eventually allows them to become minor folk heroes in their own right. After Sutherland and his company decide to leave the Inquisition to take charge of their own hold, he asks the Inquisitor how he can repay their trust, and one of the available replies is to suggest that Sutherland pays it forward himself, finding a new bunch of promising hopefuls and helping them do what he and his own people accomplished with the Inquisitor's help.
Percussive Therapy: Cassandra, Cullen, Blackwall, and Sera work out their anger on various inanimate objects. The Inquisitor can invoke this by hitting anything in their line of sight, courtesy of the new click-and-hit function.
Inverted with Iron Bull, who at one point performs a Qunari practice of overcoming fear by having other people hit him with a stick.
As in the previous games, your choices may "close some doors forever". Unfortunately, while plot-related cases of "Lost Forever" are clearly designated by the game, some quest-related ones are not. In particular, the BioWare forums are filled with angry comments about several Requisition side quests in the Hinterlands, which depend on items which can only be randomly dropped by the mages and Templars which roam the area... Except that, if you've finished a certain couple of main story quests (both of which you're likely to receive many, many hours before you ever get those Requisitions, since they only appear after one that requires a resource from a high-level area), the mages and Templars won't respawn again. Already finished off all the mobs? Your choices are to either restart the game or reload a save from before then, potentially losing dozens of game hours. Given that the fans of BioWare games tend to be completionists by nature, this didn't sit well with them. Requisition quests from the zones are effectively infinite, but that's not readily apparent.
Several of the companions cannot be recruited after a certain point. For example, if you go to Adamant without having recruited Blackwall, he disappears. In fact, with the exceptions of Cassandra, Varric and Solas, every companion is optional and can be lost forever if their recruitment missions aren't completed in time or certain dialogue choices are made (thankfully the latter are clearly labeled in each case).
The same goes for the entireTrespasser DLC: Once you activate it on the War Table, all previous areas, including Skyhold itself and the other DLCs, are blocked off; and once the DLC is complete, it automatically goes back to the start menu. It truly is meant to be the mission saved for last. Fortunately, this one also comes with a big red warning message.
Playable Epilogue: You can continue to explore the world after you complete the main questline, including all DLC.
The Inquisition's headquarters, Skyhold, is a central area where the player can speak to their companions, similar to the party camp in Origins. The fortress is also customizable to some degree, similar to Admiral Anderson's apartment on the Citadel in ME3. The Inquisition gains other fortresses as the story progresses.
The village of Haven serves as the Inquisition's temporary headquarters until the player gains control of Skyhold.
Player Party: As in the previous titles, you can switch control to any member of your current party at will. This is even used for a small Easter Egg in Jaws of Hakkon.note With Varric in the party, visit the friendly Avvar village and go to the shop belonging to Trader Helsdim. Switch the active party member to Varric and interact with Helsdim to have him Squee! about meeting the famous author. Each of the companions also have their own specific sounds should you make them the active character and put them on a mount; the grunts, tongue-clicks, and "Whoa!" commands are unique to each one.
"Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts" is built on this trope. To unlock certain options for the plot, you need to both collect the many Halla statuettes hidden around the palace and also open the correct doors for the outcome you want (as it's not possible to open them all in a single playthrough). You must also talk to specific people at specific times and make specific choices. Failing even one necessary step will lock the player out of that solution.
A few judgments rely upon the player having specific origins, perks, and other options in order to have as many choices as possible. In particular, Mistress Poulin and Knight-Captain Denam both have options which can only be opened if you've found evidence that they're lying.
The Knowledge perks in particular (History, Arcane, Underworld, and Nobility) can affect certain quests and judgments. For example, there's one option to resolve Sera's quest in Verchiel which is only available if the Inquisitor has the Nobility Knowledge perk, while "All New, Faded For Her" has an option of which Solas greatly approves - but you can only do it if the Inquisitor has the Arcane Knowledge perk.
Point-and-Click Map: Unlike in the previous games, you can travel quickly between known places (mostly villages and claimed camps) even on the local map of the area, simply by selecting your destination (unless you are in combat) — which is probably due to the sheer size of outdoor levels.
The Power of Friendship: Focus is a resource that is built up in combat through teamwork and allows the party to use powerful abilities such as the game's only true healing spell.
Powerful People Are Subs: Apparently the Inquisitor, if you romance Iron Bull. He decides the Inquisitor has so much on their plate, they'd appreciate someone else taking charge in the bedroom.
This is also true of his relationship with Dorian, if they get together instead, as revealed in party banter. Bull has a memorable line in which he tells Dorian, "Don't top from the bottom."
Power-Up Letdown: Once you've acquired a bunch of tier 3 schematics and some decent materials, the equipment you can craft will be so much better than anything you can find that even the game's most powerful uniques won't be of much use to you anymore. When you're playing on average difficulty settings where there's some leeway to your gear quality, refraining from crafting all that overpowered stuff can make for a much more enjoyable gaming experience since it gives you the satisfaction of finding something awesome after a difficult battle instead of some crap you sell off at the first opportunity.
Power-Up Mount: You can now ride mounts to get around areas faster, and can amass an entire stable's worth of them. Many of these are different breeds of horses, but there are also other, more fantastical mounts, including dracolisks, nuggalopes, and the truly bizarre Bog Unicorn. note It's a "unicorn" whose "horn" is actually a sword jammed through its undead horsey head.
Pre-Order Bonus: The "Flames of the Inquisition" DLC, which includes weapons, gear, and an armoured horse.
Prestige Class: This time around, each character can only have one specialization, but it will have more effect on the story. Each companion has a set specialization that matches those available to the player (unlocked automatically after reaching Skyhold).
Templar is a Warrior specialization that focuses on damaging magical enemies and inspiring the party. Cassandra is a Templar.
Champion is a Warrior specialization that focuses on controlling the battlefield and protecting the party. Blackwall is a Champion.
Reaver is a Warrior specialization that focuses on causing more damage as they take more damage. Iron Bull is a Reaver.
Assassin is a Rogue specialization that focuses on spike damage and avoiding enemy attacks. Cole is an Assassin.
Tempest is a Rogue specialization that focuses on enhancing their abilities with unique potions and strengthening their ability to use items. Sera is a Tempest.
Artificer is a Rogue specialization that focuses on laying traps to damage the enemy and disrupt their movement. Varric is an Artificer.
Knight-Enchanter is a Mage specialization that focuses on close-quarters combat and protecting the party. Vivienne is a Knight-Enchanter.
Necromancer is a Mage specialization that focuses on terrorizing enemies and controlling the dead. Dorian is a Necromancer.
Rift Mage is a Mage specialization that focuses on damaging and weakening enemies while controlling the battlefield. Solas is a Rift Mage.
Hawke is contacted by Varric and aids the Inquisition after the reveal of Corypheus. You can customize Hawke's appearance and personality.
The PC from the first game can get a minor cameo through a letter to you, if still alive. They are away on urgent business, and are unable to help against the Elder One. Depending on the details of the world state you import, the letter may include details related to their love interest from Origins; if said love interest is Leliana or Morrigan, both of whom are at Skyhold with you at the time, they will even send along a second letter for the beloved's eyes only.
Played with concerning the multiplayer characters available. In passing around Skyhold, you may see them congregating a few at a time. They're also mentioned in some of the War Room reports.
Produce Pelting: Attempted defiance of the trope by officials in Val Royeaux. A sign in a forum area states that vendors that sell "loftable groceries" will be closed for a period before any scheduled public forum in the square.
Progressively Prettier: Courtesy of the new Frostbite 3 engine and some subtle redesigning: the world of Thedas and the people inhabiting it look absolutely stunning - minus the occasional Gonk. Varric, Cassandra, and Cullen manage to look better than they did DAII without sacrificing the effect the last three years of warhas had on them. Morrigan, Leliana, Alistair, Anora, and even Loghain (if he survived) look better than they did inOrigins, even though it's been ten years since the Fifth Blight ended.
Psycho Serum: If the Inquisitor becomes a Reaver, Cassandra will warn them that the path they have chosen is a dangerous one. Members of her family have also drunk dragon blood to become Reavers in the past, and they all eventually went mad because of it. They became addicted to the power and wanted more, which meant drinking more dragon blood. Eventually, they mutated physically as well (to the point of growing scales).
The walls of purple fire that block off certain optional areas in the Trespasser DLC are more or less the only fires in the whole game to consistently deal damage - so much damage, in fact, that merely touching the stuff results in a One-Hit Kill regardless of fire resistance.
For a less debilitating (to you) example, all of the spells on Dorian's Necromancer skill tree are colored purple.
You are tasked with reuniting the factions of the ancient order that helped end the previous magic wars.
Trespasser takes place two years after the main game ends, and all your companions can rejoin you save for Solas, whom you confront at the end.
A Quest Giver Is You: As the Inquisitor, you can send rank-and-file agents of your organization on missions (presumably, the same agents and similar missions as seen in the Coop Multiplayer). This is in addition to Player Party members who also work for the Inquisition but instead fight alongside the Inquisitor in normal gameplay.
Additionally, by speaking with Krem inside the Herald's Rest tavern and selecting the "How can we use you?" dialogue option, you can open up new missions on the war council table which the Bull's Chargers will undertake on your behalf. There's also the Sutherland quest chain, where your choices can enable a young farmhand to create his own adventuring company.