There is a major moment regarding Anders's final personal quest. When he asks you to collect the ingredients he needs for his potion, investigate further about them. If you pay attention to what he says when he describes the ingredients and where he can find them, and you have even passing knowledge of chemistry as well as geology, you may realize what exactly he had you collect when you see him destroy the Kirkwall Chantry with a massive magical explosion. The ingredients are potassium nitrate and sulfur; both chemicals are basic components used to make explosives, like black powder. Boom. It helps that the Tevinter name for one of the ingredients is "sela petrae", almost identical to the Latin sal petrae (or Saltpetre), the common word for potassium nitrate.
The second time you see Flemeth, she tells Hawke that "It's only when we fall that we learn if we can fly," and that they "could never be a dragon" like her. Because Hawke is a hawk! They do start to fall as they lose what is left of their family and faces the devastating Qun and civil war, but in the end they win... or at least survive and run away with their love interest.
Varric being the narrator can explain a lot of the story design.
The repetitive nature of some dungeons may be annoying from a gameplay perspective, but they are essentially Varric saying "We went to a cave/warehouse/hovel and kicked some ass" and leaving it at that. He doesn't bother explaining what it looks like, leaving Cassandra to fill in a generic location. A generic, reused dungeon interior is now a part of the story that reinforces the narrative being told by Varric!
Its Actionized Sequel nature could be attributed to Varric spicing things up to keep the listener entertained, turning a boring story of how Hawke killed a few gang members in a back alley into a battle against two dozen in the middle of the street. With Warriors tossing people aside, rogues disappearing in smoke clouds, and mages making fire rain from the sky!
The Injury debuff has gone from having different effects to a simple maximum health reduction. In a story with so much action, it would take forever to describe every sprained ankle or broken rib. So instead, Varric might say they got pretty banged up or shaken and leave it at that.
Why can't the player customize or change the rest of the party's wardrobe beyond their weapons? Because Hawke is the main focus of the story, so Varric would naturally go into more detail about what they were wearing and pay less attention to everyone else.
This could also indicate the difference in relationship between the companions and the protagonist. In Origins, the Warden was essentially the boss of their group. But here, the companions are friends or associates of Hawke's. You might tell the people following you what they need to wear, but you don't dictate the wardrobes of your companions/associates.
Any decent author or piece of writing advice will tell you that it's best not to describe what the characters wearing from one day to the next, unless it's important to the plot. And fortunately, there are characters who fall under this. Aveline and her rise in the guard, Carver and Bethany's uniforms depending on where they end up by Act II, Hawke's love interest, Hawke and Tallis in Mark of the Assassin, and Anders in Act 3. Everyone else, like the companions Hawke doesn't romance and side characters like Gamlen, Bodahn, and Sandal, stay the same throughout seven years because any wardrobe change or change in hairstyle they might have had is not important to the story.
The outfit unlocked after Hawke romances someone is Varric giving them a Significant Wardrobe Shift to mark them as Hawke's love interest.
In Origins, the love scenes played out in snippets. Whereas here, Hawke and their love interest make out before just the aftermath is shown. Either Varric lacks the details, is respecting Hawke and their lover's privacy by not going into detail on how they spent their night, or just finds the narrative equivalent of a "fade to black" more tasteful.
Any time you die and just reload the game? That's Cassandra, an experienced combatant, pointing out that the tactics Varric is describing Hawke and co using don't make sense, and there's no way they would work. So Varric tries to do a better job of describing it.
Seems odd that nothing at all happens during the tree year Time Skips, then you're suddenly inundated with places to go, things to do, items to fetch, and people to talk to (and kill). Well, maybe a lot of that actually happened in the downtime, but Varric's tying it into the major happenings to keep things interesting and the narrative flowing. Avoiding "and over the next two weeks, Hawke collected old Qunari Swords, then it was quiet for a month or so, then there was a week preparing for the vacation to Orlais, and let me tell you, good thing s/he came back from that when s/he did."
The lack of armor among the Qunari makes a lot more sense when one realizes they're survivors from a shipwreck, and thus would have had to discard most of their armor while swimming ashore. It's unlikely that too many people in Kirkwall would be willing to sell the armor to replace what was lost. Even if they were, vendors in Kirkwall may have the right sizes for all races, but they are unlikely to have much in the way of a customer base. As a result, anything they could sell wouldn't fit the giants.
Qunari don't do anything that falls outside their profession. Why? Because they're all warriors, there is no one among them who can negotiate or buy materials from the merchants, nor would any of them know how to construct armor for themselves.
Once you've beaten the game, Varric's statement at the beginning is tremendously ironic. Similarly, his narration is full of foreshadowing that becomes Fridge Brilliance on the second playthrough. At one point when talking about Hawke's companions, Cassandra mentions a blood mage (Merrill), a pirate (Isabela), and finally "that Warden, Anders," to which Varric responds in a very bitter voice, "Don't remind me. I introduced them." This is because Anders was the only companion that Varric introduced to Hawke. Marethari asks Hawke to look after Merrill and Hawke meets Isabela in a tavern by chance. Varric basically tells us that Anders does something to betray Hawke and the rest of the group, but he says it in such a way that it's very easy to miss the first time around.
During the quest "Night Terrors", at least one of your companions is bound to turn against Hawke at the behest of a demon. Which demon lures them and the bait for which they fall is indicative of each companion's deepest flaw:
Anders (or rather, Justice) will only turn on Hawke if they show too much interest in making a deal with the sloth demon, because Justice is entirely too fanatical about his beliefs.
Aveline sides with the desire demon because the one thing she really wants in life is to have her husband back, and to stop blaming herself for his death.
Fenris is tempted by the pride demon because his pride was so injured by his enslavement, and his heart leaps at the chance to face his former captors as an equal.
Isabela succumbs to a desire demon, indicating her general greed.
Merrill also sides with the pride demon, showing how much she is unwilling to admit she is wrong about her use of blood magic.
Varric is lured by the pride demon thanks to his betrayal at Bartrand's hands, and his overwhelming need to prove that he is the better brother.
The only companion who can't be tempted by a demon is Sebastian, and that's only because he refuses to accompany Hawke to the Fade in the first place. If you have him in your party when you agree to the plan, he gains rivalry points.
Regarding the quest "Prime Suspect"/"All That Remains", and the major spoilers inside: There are a few tip-offs to Gascard's involvement with the serial killer. When confronting him, he will claim that Quentin uses young, beautiful women of low social status. Normal stuff for a serial killer, right? Well no, because the woman he claims is going to be the next victim is none of these things; she is an older noblewoman and not particularly good-looking. Another known victim, Ninette, was also an older noblewoman, while the lost mage, Mharen, was an elderly scholar. And of course Leandra, his final victim, is an older noblewoman as well. Furthermore, the flowers the serial killer sends his victims are white lilies, which are traditionally associated with funerals.
Leliana shows up alive in Dragon Age II, even if she was killed by the Warden in Origins. Now, that could be a bug... or it could be that when the Warden defeated her, they made the mistake of leaving her for dead less than twenty feet away from that world's equivalent of the Holy Grail, one that can heal anything. Yes, the Warden has just tainted it, but hey, Andraste moves in mysterious ways! Or perhaps the Warden spilled some of the untainted ashes they retrieved on the floor? Leliana herself says she's not entirely sure how she was brought back to life.
The mystery of Leliana's return is finally solved in the epilogue of Trespasser. She was saved from dying by a spirit, thus becoming a lyrium ghost. An interesting addition to the plot of Dragon Age II, which already had a lot of focus on possession and abominations. Funnily enough, Oghren, of all people, was the one to realize that the Temple of the Sacred Ashes was full of lyrium.
Fun fact: Word of God says Anders is just a nickname because he was at least born in the Anderfels. It makes sense that when fleeing from the Templars, he would go by a pseudonym. It's also entirely possible that he no longer remembers his real name.
As discussed above, there's a problem with certain previous companions (Leliana, Zevran) who can be killed in Origins and yet can still return in this game. But they're both rogues, and in Origins, rogues have access to a 'Feign Death' ability on their talent trees.
During Zevran's cameo mission, after you've killed the bad guy at the end, he stops to let Hawke loot everything in the camp (even lampshading the fact). Since none of the other NPCs bother to let you pick up your loot before starting the ending cutscenes, it seems odd that Zevran would. But after his adventures with the Warden, he's used to it.
As mentioned on the character pages, there's some debate over whether Fenris or Merrill's sexuality changes depending on Hawke's gender, as neither will express interest in people of their gender if romanced by a Hawke of opposite gender. Isabela is canonically bisexual, and Word of God states that Anders is as well; Karl was once his lover, as he will reveal in a romance with male Hawke. Merrill, however, will express interest in men even if romanced by a female Hawke, confirming that she's bi. There's actually a pretty good reason why she might not publicly express interest in women; with a declining population, elves are something of a dying people. Producing children is a big deal for elves, especially the Dalish. So while there's no explicit prejudice against homosexuality by elves in-game, it certainly makes sense for them to have cultural hangups about it. Merrill might feel self-conscious over these feelings, but her love for Hawke would override her hangups.
One of the complaints thrown around is that the player is railroaded in the end as you can only choose between mages and Templars, but it's on purpose. As each Act goes on, the level-headed people who want to prevent an open conflict (or even find a better solution) are killed in various ways, until finally there is no choice but to have a war. If you play Hawke as favoring one side from the beginning, it's not that big of a deal. But if you are trying to avoid the inevitable fate, the feelings of the player will match the feelings Hawke has as they are unable to avert a very bloody conflict. The fact that there only two choices in the end drives home the game's position as a Deconstruction of fantasy. You are not an almighty God-hero of legend. In the Frame Story, Varric repeatedly surprises Cassandra by telling her the truth of the "Champion of Kirkwall" - their involvement in pretty much all of Acts 1 and 2 are circumstantial, and Hawke was only pivotal because they happened to be in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time. Cassandra spots this and calls Varric out when his story becomes too unbelievable. Act 3's contribution to this Deconstructor Fleet? You don't get a third option. There are other people in this world, some who have more power than others. The world isn't shaped by your decisions alone, but a combination of yours and those of others.
Pol running away from Merrill like she was a monster was completely in-character. He is an escaped city elf, and apparently holds onto his Andrastian beliefs. Blood magic is therefore a huge deal for him and it makes sense that it would terrify him more than the other Dalish. It doesn't help that Marethari apparently told the clan that Merrill could wind up Tainted by the shard of the Eluvian she saved.
Right before Anders blows up the Chantry, he has a good long rant at Meredith and Orsino. He winds up going full Justice/Vengeance mode at them complete with the glowing lines and booming, echoing voice, signs that both Meredith and Orsino should recognize as making him an abomination and something they both should attack on sight. It's a sign of how far gone everyone involved is that this goes completely over their heads.
Varric knows a lot about the details of Hawke's personal and love life, as Hawke keeps a diary to which Varric keeps adding "embellishments". This would allow him to read the rest, even if it is just "Tried to give Fenris the Book of Shartan today. Turns out he can't read. Figures. Will have to remedy." That's enough to extrapolate the exact phrasing and details based on what he knows of them from his own experience. His friendship/rivalry reflects this: Either he's an "authorized biographer" and Hawke voluntarily lets him in on those details, or he's an "unauthorized biographer" who will "tell your story someday whether you like it or not" and snoops into Hawke's journal just to annoy them.
A lot of fans were really annoyed with Anders's sudden characterization shift here after Awakening. But after Justice's possession, he's of course not going to be the same. The point has been hammered home already that being an abomination means losing yourself to the demon possessing you, which Anders became the moment he accidentally corrupted Justice. In a way, it's actually a testament to how good both Anders and Justice were beforehand that it took them so long to do what all abominations inevitably do, and start slaughtering innocent people.
The moving statues during the last boss fight seem odd at first, with their joints fully capable of such full range movement. But remember, this was a Tevinter prison; the magisters probably had a spell (combined with red lyrium) to animate the statues themselves.
Anders' little rant on Karl and the fact that it only happens if a male Hawke flirts with him has raised many eyebrows, especially with his skirt-chasing antics in Awakening. But it makes sense when you realize that Thedas isn't that much better than our world when it comes to sexual politics. The rant is full of frustration at the system, but when it comes down to it, Anders settles for an awkward "like you" instead of stating that they had the same gender, and finishes off by seeking acceptance from Hawke. The only reason that he tells Hawke is because he thinks that he has found someone who can understand him without being too ashamed to talk about his relationship.
On that same note, Anders' rant on Karl is just one of the ways magic acts as a thinly veiled metaphor for homosexuality. There's this scene, which explicitly ties the two together through Anders' tirades. Then there's the oft-quoted "Ten years from now, a hundred years from now, someone like me will love someone like you, and there will be no Templars to tear them apart." But probably the most impressive is the line "Andraste said magic should serve man, and not rule over him." Why? Because it's an oft-quoted line from ancient religious text that is interpreted differently by everyone who quotes it, which is not too dissimilar from most religious justifications for homophobia.
There are a lot of Blood Mages in Kirkwall, despite the common "not all mages are Blood Mages" argument. But according to Leliana, mages from the Tevinter Imperium (a.k.a. Blood Mage Central) were sent to increase tension between the mages and Templars.
In Act 3, visiting Anders will trigger a cutscene where he's offering his favorite pillow to Varric because of an offhanded remark that he's had his eyes on it. It doesn't seem that important, but from a psychological viewpoint, the fact that Anders is suddenly giving away his treasured personal items is a strong warning signal that he is suicidal and is, in layman's terms, 'splitting his inheritance'. Anders is confident that he will be killed after he destroys the Chantry, and is preparing to make himself a martyr. Varric catches on and refuses it, telling Anders to keep it and dream about killing Templars while sleeping on it.
Anders approving of Hawke selling Fenris back to his master seems hypocritical, as he seeks to free the mages from the Chantry yet is willing to condemn someone else to slavery just because they don't share his viewpoint/he doesn't like them. But it goes deeper than that; he is willing to get rid of anyone who stands in the way of his goal, and since Fenris is a "mages should be locked up" person, that technically includes him. Anders is secretly happy because now one less person can stand against him. He might also view it as (pardon the pun) "poetic Justice", as Fenris (a supporter of mage slavery) gets sold into slavery himself and becomes effectively Tranquil.
Marethari sought to stop Merrill using blood magic, but in the end her pride was actually the bigger danger to her clan. Not only for taking the demon on, but also: keeping the clan there for so long (in Act 2, Merrill states that they should have moved on "years ago"), not stopping the out-of-control rumors of Merrill (which led to Pol running from her straight into the lair of the varterral), and for not telling the clan that she was dying. All because she had to prove a point to Merrill about the dangers of blood magic. She says that Merrill always knew the consequences, but chose to pay the price for her. Merrill even took precautions by bringing Hawke with her and was willing to pay the price if it meant helping her people. By leaving the rest of the clan out to dry, Marethari created the very situation she was trying to avoid, and the clan was wiped out unless Hawke took the blame.
Merrill speaks with a Welsh accent, while the rest of her clan have Irish accents. This seems like an inconsistency until you remember that Merrill belonged to a different clan during her early years, before her magic manifested.
The Circle of Magi has always seemed to be poorly designed. It preaches that mages are dangerous and should be monitored for everybody's sake. Reasonable enough, but it also offers no incentive for mage loyalty beyond survival, stifles most research into understanding magical phenomena aside from the most basic works, applies blanket punishments for the mages, and offers next to no public education about the functions of magic. All the while, alienating the mages from the non-mages and indoctrinating the non-mages close by into believing that magic is itself evil, and that mages can't be considered people. Then Fenris joins and gives his utterly unbending hatred of all magic, and it all makes sense. The Chantry was founded by former slaves of the Tevinter Imperium, so of course the methods they came up with to control future mages would be poorly designed. It was thought up by bitter ex-slaves and barbarians driven by fear and hatred. It's just that over the centuries, this fear-driven method has remained unquestioned dogma. The actual dangers themselves overshadow the design of a different method.
When there was the talk about the lack of a Human Commoner Origin story, many were disappointed. But looking at Bethany and Carver's (potential) induction into the Grey Wardens, that would have been what happened if it was a human commoner: a man or woman driven by the darkspawn seeking to regain everything suddenly by going into the Deep Roads, only to contract the taint and be found by the Wardens. It's similar to how every origin story happens in the same time. If it wasn't for the Warden's intervention, you would have died from the taint or been reduced to a ghoul.
Anders and Meredith are very similar:
Both of them start out somewhat extreme, but fairly reasonable. Anders doesn't want to start a revolution and the Templar atrocities in Act 1 are carried out by Ser Alrik, who threatened Templars who found out to avoid them reporting to Meredith.
Then, events occur that make them truly devote to their causes. For Anders, it is Karl illegally being made Tranquil and the subsequent mercy killing, combined with the treatment of mages in the Circle. For Meredith, it was Tarohne's attempt to turn Templar recruits into demons.
By Act 2, both of them have an external influence causing their mental state to deteriorate. Anders and Justice's estrangement becomes much more severe, while Meredith is succumbing to the Lyrium Idol. However, the inevitable war with the Qunari provides both of them with something outside of their growing obsession to stay focused on.
In Act 3, both of them start pushing friends away. Anders alienates the entire party except Varric and possibly Hawke. Meredith's actions cause even Cullen to question her.
In the endgame, both of them choose to kill innocents to achieve their goals. Anders destroys the Kirkwall Chantry to spark the mage revolution and free his people. Meredith orders the annulment of the Kirkwall Circle under false pretenses to guarantee the deaths of the hidden maleficarum. As it turns out, both had been planning these results for quite a while.
Think back to Dragon Age: Origins Awakening, and what Anders said during his Joining. When he said he would hold the Grey Wardens responsible if he woke up in two weeks on a ship to Rivain in his small clothes and with a tattoo branded on his forehead, it originally sounded like a joke. But seeing what has been done to mages in this game, it seems he was referring to being made Tranquil.
Most of the staff weapons seem to be designed to serve a double-function as both staves and polearms. Almost all of them have blades, and many have cross-braces as well. When one thinks about it outside of game mechanics though, it makes perfect sense that mages would use polearms. They're an ideal weapon for keeping melee-capable opponents away thanks to their long reach, which is essential when one is a Squishy Wizard. Use a few sweeps or thrusts with the blade/speartip to ward the attacker off, and open up some distance before hammering them with a spell. This doesn't come up in gameplay because of the nature of the combat system, but realistically they'd be the best melee weapon a mage could hope for. It also helps that their disguise as a polearm would draw less suspicion than a staff.
People who plan on taking the blood magic specialization will tend to favor constitution instead of willpower (which increases mana). The forbidden school attracts mages with lower willpower...
Meredith's behavior. Like every Templar, she's been addicted to a Fantastic Drug: Lyrium. Its side effects include delusions, paranoia, dementia, obsessive behavior, and hallucinations. She didn't even need the Lyrium idol!
Carver has a Meaningful Name - rather than being stuck in Hawke's shadow, he wants to carve his own path.
Potion-brewing/poison-making (a function separate from the party) seems like just a way of simplifying Dragon Age II so we don't have to use precious skill points on combat-unrelated skills. But if it wasn't a separate function, it would make no sense. In Origins, you were a traveling party that had no time to find someone with herbalism training willing to follow you through danger; as it was, the Warden got lucky with Bodahn and Sandal tagging along for enchanting. The companions could only rely on each other to be traveling herbalists. On the other hand, Hawke stays comfortably in Kirkwall and has more than enough time to find herbalists and runecrafters.
The dilemma the Arishok faces is emblematic of a flaw within Qunari society as a whole. Qunari society is explained as working like a body, with each part of the body working in harmony. However, when one part of the body is separate from the others, it doesn't work very well. The Arishok's separation from the rest of the Qunari social structure puts him in a situation that (thanks to the rigidity of his society and beliefs) forces him to act in limited ways, based solely on his role within the Qun as a warrior. If the Arishok had landed with other representatives from his society with different roles, the entire war could have been avoided (or at least resolved with less bloodshed). But circumstances forced Qunari warriors into one of the worst possible positions they could have been in, and they couldn't adapt. The flaw therefore is that the Qunari society only works properly when it is unified, and a section of that society cut off from the others will lead to disaster. Considering the game's emphasis on the flaws of the societies, organizations, and other social structures populating Thedas, this was likely quite deliberate.
So, Qunari society doesn't allow its individuals to adapt to survive in new circumstances. Does that make them Anti-Social Darwinists?
Cassandra knew to connect the Orlesian sanctions against Kirkwall to Chateau Haine because she had an inside source, albeit one who "didn't have [Varric's] access." If they didn't, then it needed to be either an undercover servant (unlikely, as Chateau Haine was merely a well-built fortress that served as keep and mansion for a spoiled Orlesian lord, as well as the fact that the servants could easily con the guard out of the key thus granting them full access) or one of the guests at the party (which means that Cassandra knows anything about the heist by sheer dumb luck). So, which of the guests would Cassandra know, as the Seeker for the Chantry? Most of the guests are a) Orlesian, which might justify her knowing them by name if not by face, and b) not connected to the Chantry higher-ups in any way. There are also a few cameos from Origins sprinkled through that section, including Teagan and Leliana. Leliana recognizes Tallis, to which Tallis hides "Oh, Crap!" behind polite conversation. As evidenced by the endgame, Leliana is an associate of Cassandra and is assisting in the investigation of the Champion's whereabouts. Then, Inquisition reveals that they are actually of equivalent rank in the Chantry and work closely together. Connect the dots, and suddenly it's a lot less contrived that Cassandra knows just enough about Chateau Haine to get Varric rolling.
There being no option of becoming an Arcane Warrior actually makes a lot of sense: it was a specialisation was taught to the Warden by a spirit trapped inside of a gem; it was literally the last keeper of a long-forgotten Elven school of magic, which it passed onto the Warden before its death. No mages in Kirkwall would know of this form of magic, and with the heavy Templar presence, they would not be in a position to gain access anyway. Even after a Mage Hawke becomes so well known that they could have gotten access to any possible instructions, most mages are implied to have distinctive fighting styles related to their specific skills and comfort level, so Hawke would likely not have seen the need to learn it.
Double-points for all the specializations having some way for Hawke to pick them up in the first couple acts. Force Magic seems to be a Kirkwall thing, so they could have gotten books stolen from the Gallows to learn it. Spirit Healing is Anders' shtick, and Merrill knows Blood Magic. There's enough Templars around that Hawke could probably pick up the basics, they could have learned how to be a berserker from surfacer dwarves or muscle on the Deep Roads expedition, to be an assassin from some gang, and to be a Reaver, you have to consume the blood of a dragon - dragons which are faced in the first act in the Bone Pit. Isabela is the Duelist trainer in Origins, and the Shadow manual was available for purchase in Awakening, so presumably Hawke could get their hands on a copy in a port city like Kirkwall.
Why did Anders trust Justice enough to be possessed by him in the first place, and why does he seem to think back on their friendship so fondly when they actually argued a fair bit? Because looking back at the party dialogue in Awakening, Justice is the only one of the group (other than potentially the Warden) who seems to sympathize with Anders' bad treatment at the hands of the Templars, and treats his opinions on the matter with some respect. He grows to trust Justice for the same reason that he may have trusted the Warden and grows to trust a pro-mage Hawke - they seem to be the only people willing to hear him out.
In a romance, Hawke can only invite Anders or Merrill to move in with them, not Fenris or Isabela. This is because Anders and Merrill are mages; Hawke inviting them to live with them is sending a message to the Templars: don't mess with these apostates, or you mess with the Champion. Fenris and Isabela don't require the same sort of protection.
Another factor is that Anders and Merrill are generally the cuddlier romance option of their gender and would take more joy in living in the same house as the person they loved. Fenris is the kind of man who hates feeling controlled, and would definitely hate having to rely on Hawke. He may stay in his mansion purely because it feels like something that belongs to him, even if technically he doesn't own it. Isabela also isn't someone willing to be tied down easily. She is a pirate and a drifter, and would feel domesticated by living in the same home as her lover.
Even if the Dalish origin was not chosen in Origins, the Eluvian is smashed before the clan moves on resulting in Merrill retrieving a shard of the mirror. For the next seven years up until the death of the Keeper, Merrill has a pretty crappy life. She suffered seven years of bad luck from breaking the mirror!
From the Mage Pack DLC "Malcolm's Honour", the staff that Hawke's father crafted actually begins to make sense when you consider why he'd risk constructing one in Lothering, despite the Templars milling around. It's described as "deceptively simple" in the codex. This fits as Malcolm knew that, should he or his children ever be caught with it, they could easily pretend that it was merely a fancy club. Moreover, he deliberately carved it with an image of Andraste; it's an in-universe fact that any object representing the image of Andraste cannot be destroyed, not without great deliberation. Look at the Black Emporium's Andraste In Nude Repose-Invisible - they couldn't destroy it even if it was a very base depiction of Andraste; they simply decided to hide it. Same deal with the staff, even if Templars found out it belonged to a mage - the figure of Andraste adorning its tip would make destroying it problematic!
Why do Mage Hawkes have so little armor, with one arm bare? Because Hawke needs to be able to use their staff easily, something they couldn't do encumbered by lots of plate-mail.
Similarly, why does the mage's Armor of the Champion feature a frayed and somewhat charred tailcoat? While it's clearly ancient, you could argue that it's because mage Hawke is often either dishing out or on the receiving end of a ton of fireballs!
Why is Merrill able to stay sane, unlike all the other blood mages who seem to transform into abominations at the slightest provocation? Because she treats blood magic as dangerous but rewarding, so she presumably uses it in a calm state of mind after taking every possible precaution. For others, blood magic is a last resort after they become scared and furious and have nothing left to lose. Merrill's approach may have saved her life. It's also worth noting that she learned it from a demon already held captive on Sundermount without releasing it herself, whereas many other mages have to deal with a demon in the Fade on the demon's terms.
The other angle is that Merrill (most of the time) doesn't use blood magic to hurt anyone; she initially turned to it to fuel her magic enough to cleanse the shard of the Eluvian. Even though she's a Black Magician Girl, she's got a total of two spells that are even vaguely blood magic-related (only one of which involves hurting someone else). She sees it as a tool, not a weapon. She knows she's taking a risk by dealing with demons, and thus only goes to the demon twice - once before the game's events to learn blood magic in the first place, and once when she goes to get more information (by which point it's already possessed Marethari.)
If you walk to the end of the Sundermount path in Act 1, you'll find a cave blocked by a magical force field. In Act 3, you find out that the cave contains the demon with whom Merrill was communicating and the Keeper beat you there. But if you visit it in Act 2, the force field is already gone and replaced by an awkwardly positioned ox cart. This is the period when the Keeper begins spreading nasty rumors about Merrill. She broke the defenses on the demon's resting places even before Merrill went to ask her for the instrument she needed, and was probably under the demon's influence even back then!
Anyone whose Warden became good friends with Anders in Awakening may have found themselves becoming frustrated at such a level-headed person becoming stupid enough to think being possessed was a good idea. But the reason that Fade spirits are so dangerous is partly because they are incredibly persuasive. In addition, the Warden was Anders's main support system as per BioWare-protagonist tradition, and maybe his only close friend at Vigil's Keep; the epilogue slides of Awakening show that after a period of time, the Warden leaves Vigil's Keep to continue their adventure. This would cause Anders to feel lonely, and he knows that Justice has lost his host since Kristoff's body could no longer sustain him; two lonely friends could easily think this was a good solution. Couple that with the sadness of being forced to give up his beloved cat, plus the fact that he's still being bullied by Templars, and you've got one hell of a recipe for disaster.
In Inquisition, Solas reveals that spirits reflect those around them. Someone seeing a benevolent spirit but expecting to see a malevolent demon will get the latter. Anders was conditioned by his time in the Circle to think that any mage allowing any spirit into their body could only ever result in an Abomination, so that's exactly what Anders/Justice became. If only Anders had a chance to have a long talk with Wynne, things may have turned out differently. His romance with Hawke reflects this; Hawke is supportive as a friend, but as a rival they consistently refer to Anders as an "abomination", making Justice more hostile. In a Rivalmance, Hawke believes that Justice is Vengeance, and encourages Anders to think so too. And guess what? He was. A tragic case of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
There's also the fact that Justice was corrupted by Anders' influence and not by the Warden's, for several reasons: first, half of the Warden's origins (the Dalish and both Dwarven's) are not Andrastians, meaning that they have different views about the matter. Second, even if the Warden is Andrastian, they spent over a year confronting everything (from darkspawn to demons), meaning that talking with a spirit isn't really a big deal because they've seen things far weirder and are conditioned to simply kill Justice if he proves dangerous (like all the spirits they met before). Third, the Warden can also have spent said year with Wynne (who is, by the Chantry's definition, an abomination), and also met the Great Oak (who is benign and harmless compared with the rest of the sylvans). When the Warden met Justice, s/he already had a relatively wide perspective about the matter, and know that the world is far greyer than the black-and-white view of the Chantry. In contrast, Anders shares the same view about spirits with the Chantry.
Why is the statue of the Champion in the Kirkwall Docks shown as a Knight, even if Hawke is a Mage? Because it's overlooking the Gallows, and the Templars are too embarrassed to admit that Hawke is a member of the very people they are sworn to hunt. Every time Mage Hawke encounters Meredith, she only has one emotion: anger.
How and where did Anders learn to make explosives, considering that gunpowder seems not to have been invented in Thedas's human society, and the supposedly stolen Qunari formula turned out to be fake? Recall that Anders was at Vigil's Keep with Dworkin the Mad (the dwarf who loved to blow stuff up), and may have learned a few tricks from him. He also likely met the merchant Armaas, who had left the Qun. Who's to say he didn't tell Anders how to make the powder?
It's very easy to miss, but if you take Bethany/Carver with you for the Deep Road expedition, when the party finds Sandal after the first encounter with darkspawn, they stay a few steps behind (putting their hand on their forehead like they are suffering from a fever or a headache). That's very early during the expedition, and it's the first sign they have been tainted by the darkspawn. It counts as a stealthy Moment of Awesome as well, as it means that they keep pulling their weight during the whole expedition and fight numerous battles despite succumbing to the taint.
One wonders why the Libertarian Fraternity in the Circle is populated exclusively by revolutionaries such as Uldred, Anders, or Adrian from Asunder. Or, more importantly, why a party which advocates mage emancipation is allowed to exist. The answer is simple; the fraternity is actually a sting by the Chantry. Having a political party whose goals run contrary to the Chantry doctrine allows the Knight-Commander to easily weed out potential troublemakers. Any savvy mage would join the Aequitarians (the party of Comes Great Responsibility) or Loyalists, and remain off the Chantry's radar. Those two fraternities are probably only popular in name, and only the real fanatics would hold mage freedom views and be open about them.
The reason Varric is so universally awesome is because he is essentially the Deuteragonist masquerading as a regular party member (downplaying his role is easy for him to do, being The Narrator and all). But even in his own narration, Varric is almost as important to the plot as Hawke: it is his (and Bartrand's) expedition that brings the lyrium idol to the surface, he introduces Hawke to Anders, he keeps the whole Hawke Enterprise going from the shadows, and in the end is the only companion who is guaranteed to remain at Hawke's side. He cannot die (unlike Hawke's surviving sibling), is not mutually exclusive with another companion (unlike Anders and Sebastian), and will never betray Hawke (unlike Isabela with the relic, and Anders and/or Aveline, Fenris, and Merrill in the final mission depending on friendship/rivalry and what side Hawke chooses). Another really subtle clue is that only Hawke (with Bethany/Carver) and Varric ever get a Tall Tale segment in the narration.
A small point but valid: Anders is a cat person. Fenris = wolf = dog. No wonder they're constantly at each other's throats.
Merrill's naivete is played up and makes her come across as being childish and easily manipulated by demons she refers to as spirits. However, her naivete is about social customs and behaviors (especially human ones due to being Dalish and having little to no contact with humans prior to joining Hawke). And as we see with the other mages of Kirkwall, blood mages require a lot of mental fortitude and strength to resist the demons. Merrill only calls upon blood magic when she has no other option and remains calm. She is a blood mage the entire time she is with Hawke (roughly seven years), while almost every other blood mage we see in game get possessed immediately or shortly thereafter. We're supposed to underestimate Merrill. Not just because she is so in game, but because we're used to the human customs/behaviors that fly right by her.
Many players interpret Merrill as being an adorably sweet person despite her practice of Blood Magic. This is a sign that Dark Is Not Evil in the DA universe. However, her story arc actually disproves this. Blood Magic is not bad because it is inherently corrupting (although human/elf nature is definitely inherently corruptible by such easily accessible power); it's bad because the vast majority of populace fears it (admittedly for a good reason) and believes it's bad. In other words: a blood mage may not do anything bad to the people around her, but those same people will expect her to do so out of fear. It's a lose-lose situation.
It is also essentially a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy which fits right into a trend, with various other prejudices playing out the same way. The actual dangers of mages and prevalence are often direct results of many people fearing them, and those fears drive people in power to lock them up, dehumanize them and mistreat them, instead of properly teaching them. This makes them out to be the ticking bombs everyone says they are and then forces them into positions where they have no choice but to turn to immoral measures out of pure desperation. The Arishok came to Kirkwall with absolutely no interest in conversion or conquest until fanatics, pressure, and the knowledge that he can never return no matter what because of the relic drove him to launch a suicide attack on Kirkwall and turn him into what he was believed to be. There is a definite theme here with how outside forces whose prejudices and fears essentially forced them to prove their beliefs as to be correct, and then everybody forgets how they were originally (or just don't bother to know the true story).
It also speaks to Merrill's Fatal Flaw of Pride. Merrill's spin on this flaw is somewhat unique. She is a kind and considerate person, but her decisions actually lack consideration for others. Merrill knows the risks and takes precautions (such as taking Hawke with her to kill her if she is possessed), but her pride comes across in how she considered that was enough, and has not taken into account that it is not only her that will get affected by her actions. Other people, indirectly or not, will possibly get hurt.
Party Banter during Act 1 has Varric saying that Merrill has never seen a dwarf because all she and the other elves did was frolic in the woods. Merrill responds that they did frolic, just not in the woods, because the trees might "get jealous". At first, this seems like just another Cloud Cuckoo Lander remark (or maybe some Deadpan Snarking), but when you think of the Sylvans in Origins, this makes perfect sense. Sylvans are trees possessed by demons and spirits from the Fade who have gone mad from the lack of sight and voice, not to mention the difficulty of getting a tree to uproot and move. Just imagine you're such a spirit trapped in a tree, and you're confronted with a bunch of frolicking elves; wouldn't you be jealous? Add to this that there are especially many Sylvans in the Brecilian Forest (with the Veil being thin there), precisely the place where Merrill and her clan lived for many years. Frolicking in those woods would indeed be a bad idea.
It may be All There in the Manual, but what World of Thedas has to say about Rivain explains Isabela's disinterest in mage-Templar debates. Besides her "I'm just that shallow" front, it really isn't a big deal in Rivain, which is pantheistic rather than Andrastian; the Circle's main purpose is to keep the Chantry happy. Rivaini mages stay in touch with their families, and female mages have the opportunity to train as seers, who often end up as community leaders.
At the beginning of Act 2, if you have the Exiled Prince DLC, Hawke can speak to Sebastian in the Chantry to formally recruit him. You find him talking to the Grand Cleric about his distress regarding the deaths of Flint Company three years earlier. Elthina tells him that "death is never justice". Three years later, she'll be murdered by someone who supposedly is seeking justice.
Ever wonder why in every fight, Hawke and Company has tons of enemies that try to grind you down with sheer numbers? Varric is telling the story. For all we know, he could be exaggerating all of the fights in order to make Hawke sound more badass.
Confirmed in Inquisition. In party banter, Iron Bull expresses disbelief that so many people attacked Hawke, to which Varric mostly admits he made up.
At the end of "Shepherding Wolves," the Saarebas gives Hawke a talisman before he dies and calls it "a secret thing." When Hawke asks why he has to die, he says "I may be corrupted, I cannot know." Anders calls this a spineless and pathetic argument, but he could actually be wrong; the talisman gives Hawke boosts the effects of blood magic. Maybe he was corrupted after all...
As a Saarebas (meaning "dangerous thing"), he is donned in chains with his lips sewn shut (though he can still speak) and is kept under constant watch by an Arvaarad so the Saarebas doesn't corrupt others with his powers. Yet despite this treatment, Ketojan still remains an ardent follower of the Qun and would rather kill himself than be without it. Treatment of a mage under the Qun is far more oppressive than those in the Chantry, which leads one to wonder why Ketojan does not resent his treatment. However, according to the Qun, everything has a proper order and the individual is not truly individual but part of the whole, like a great organism. Regardless of your role in life, the Qun will treat you with respect since you are only doing what is in your nature. This even extends to the Saarebas; while the Qun pity the Saarebas, they are also granted the greatest respect since they are selflessly striving under constant threat from within (demonic possession), which is the highest virtue of the Qun. It's shown from one of your interactions with Ketojan's handler that he still holds respect for the Saarebas, even when killing him under the rules of the Qun for straying away from his sight. This also explains why the Qun has a lot of popularity in conquered areas, since the subjects are respected despite being unable to change their life station.
It's easy for us to forget that "Valentine" comes from valens, Latin for "strength." Aveline therefore has a pretty strong Meaningful Name: She's a warrior, an Amazonian Beauty, and has excellent strength.
Hawke's love interest changes their outfit after their first night together. The change fits the character of each very nicely:
Fenris wears the red armband Hawke gave him, even though he walks out on them; this was not a dalliance to him. He also takes to wearing the Hawke family crest on his belt. At this point, he's probably appointed himself Hawke's bodyguard, whether they like it or not.
Isabela wears the armband Hawke gave her, changes her leather boots and gloves to black, and adds a black corset that draws even more attention to her ample bosom. This adds to her "sexy pirate lady" look, while the red armband contradicts her not getting tied down.
Merrill changes from a Dalish armor to a fancy dress fit for any human noblewoman, minus the shoes. She's no longer an outcast among both the Dalish and the city elves; she's part of Hawke's family. Also, said dress probably serves as another warning sign for the Templars to leave that particular mage alone (in addition to her possibly moving in to Hawke's mansion). It may also serve as a warning to Kirkwall's high society: a way to say "This elf is not a servant: treat her as such at your own peril."
Anders does not change his clothes in Act 2. When he does after "Justice" in Act 3, you realize that Sebastian was right: his cause is more important to him than Hawke. note Sebastian also doesn't change his outfit, but that's because his relationship with Hawke is chaste, so they don't even have a "first night together."
Say what you will about Elthina, but she is not an idiot; assuming that Hawke is a mage, she will spot in from their first conversation. Yet after talking to them, she will realize that despite being an apostate throughout all their life, Hawke has shown that they are responsible enough to handle the dangers of magic. She has pretty much given them a reprieve from the Templars. No wonder Meredith feels pissed off whenever she's around Hawke; her boss has pretty much told her that Hawke is off limits. This may also explain why Bethany was caught if Hawke is not a mage and didn't bring her to the Deep Roads: Elthina knew that she wanted to experience life in the Circle, and gave her the opportunity to do so in a disguise as the Templars doing a sting.
Merrill points out to Anders that unlike him she knew what she was getting into with the Pride demon, realizing that "there's no such thing as a good Fade spirit." However, Anders was a Spirit Healer in Awakening, and the description of a Spirit Healer's views is literally the exact opposite of what Merrill says. It's no wonder Anders felt he could do good alongside a spirit of Justice if the basics of his starting specialization said that not all Fade spirits are bad! That said, the Spirit Healers do have to be more careful about possession due to the increased risk of interacting with a demon accidentally, but that covers preexisting demons (or at least Anders assumed it did). Spirits turning into demons is another matter.
There's one for Sandal, although you don't realise it until Inquisition. Among his seemingly random bits of chatter, he says: "One day the magic will come back - all of it. Everyone will be just like they were. The shadows will part and the skies will open wide. When he rises, everyone will see." When you play Inquisition, and the skies have literally opened, you start to get a feel for what he meant. He was seemingly talking about Corypheus, the Big Bad of Inquisition. However, he was actually talking about the Dread Wolf Fen'Harel. In the Trespasser DLC, Solas (Fen'Harel) states his plan to essentially unmake the world as everyone knows it, in order to restore Elvhenan. The lost magic of the elves will come back, and all of "the people" will be as they were centuries earlier, before Fen'Harel created the Veil.
Sebastian's romance is very different from the other four.
Hawke must: Be female (Sebastian is the only heterosexual romance option), not flirt with anyone else even once, have a full friendship/rivalry with him to even begin the relationship (and has less time to do it, as Sebastian is not available as a companion until Act 2), complete all of his quests, and kill Anders after he blows up the Chantry. Not only that, but the payoff is somewhat questionable. As a friend, he and Hawke will enter a "chaste marriage in the eyes of the Maker," with her taking vows as a Chantry sister. As a rival, there's an implied engagement once he retakes Starkhaven as he "will offer you nothing less than a prince." But in either case, there's not much else. Also, he and Hawke cannot be physically intimate, meaning the romance does not unlock the romance achievement.
So where does the Fridge Brilliance come in? Unreliable Narrator once again! Varric tells Cassandra that he honestly never understood Hawke and Sebastian's romance. He could understand Hawke romancing any of the four main story love interests due to the journeys they experienced, but with Sebastian (of whom Varric is not overly fond), he couldn't figure out how there was an attraction. Therefore, he glossed over a lot of the details because he found it incredibly boring.
While characters in Role Playing Games always start out weak and become insanely strong later, Dragon Age II actually takes place over a decade, explaining how Hawke was able to go from a poor refugee with decent fighting skill to an unstoppable fighter.
It's mentioned in Aveline's folder that she's the only one (besides any Love Interest Hawke may have) to comfort Hawke after Leandra's murder. This seems strange given that Varric is Hawke's best friend, but it makes sense for two reasons: It would be too predictable for Varric to comfort his best friend, and Aveline has known Hawke and Leandra longer than any of the other companions (to the point where she's practically part of the family). When they arrived in Kirkwall, Leandra even insisted that Aveline come and remain with the family as long as needed. It's quite likely that Aveline herself is grieving extensively.
There's one in Legacy which is also a Funny Moment. When meeting with Gerav, Varric introduces Hawke as "the one whose blood you want to drink, or bathe in, or whatever." If Hawke is in a romance he then adds, "I have to warn you, though, s/he's no virgin." If Hawke is not in a romance (or is romancing Sebastian), he instead says, "I have to warn you, though, you catch diseases that way." The fridge bit comes in when you remember that Varric reads Hawke's diary on a regular basis.
If Hawke chooses to duel the Arishok for Isabela's freedom, Cassandra will remark that she finds it romantic. This shows that she has a weakness for stories that others might find odd and foreshadows how she ends up loving one of Varric's novels in Inquisition, specifically one that was universally hated and he called his worst work.
Why did the Warrior class lose access to bows and dual wielding? Warrior!Hawke was trained to be a foot soldier in the Ferelden army. Skills like archery would be left to scouts or rogues, while dual-wielding is hard to learn and wouldn't be taught to basic infantry. As a result, Hawke does not have access to them. Even after gaining the means to hire professional trainers, Hawke chooses to stick to what he/she knows since it works, rather than going through the trouble of trying to learn something new entirely.
Why is the "Champion" specialization not available in the game? Because Hawke always becomes a Champion! As the story goes on, Hawke naturally gains the skill to lead others, while the stories of his/her deeds inspire confidence in anyone they meet, regardless of what class Hawke is.
In the quest "Haunted" Anders is the only companion to openly object to keeping the piece of the Red Lyrium Idol. Anders is still a Grey Warden and Red Lyrium is Blighted. It's probably different enough from a darkspawn that Anders doesn't realize it, but his Warden senses are alerting him to the danger.
Janeka, a Grey Warden met during Legacy, want to use Corypheus against the Blights, claiming that he will believe that a Blight is a threat to darkspawn and will work to end it. Sound familiar? It's the same logic the Architect used in Awakening to the Warden regarding his experiments with the Taint. It's also a Fridge Horror when you realize that Janeka is assuming that Corypheus will come to the same conclusion (note: Inquisition makes clear that's not the case. At all.) Bonus point if Anders is in the party, he quickly realizes where Janeka got the idea.
A minor one, but rather clever. As noted on the character pages, Hawke's brother and sister clearly take after their mother's side of the family, with Bethany resembling Leandra and Carver resembling their uncle Gamlen in terms of facial bone structure. Meanwhile, it's stated that Hawke heavily takes after their father Malcolm. Then you realize - the twins had to take after the Amells from a design perspective. We never actually see Malcolm anywhere in the franchise; we hear his voice in Legacy, but all that's shown of him is a pair of glowing eyes. Since Hawke's appearance is customized by the player, Malcolm has to remain hidden from view in order to be in keeping with the idea that Hawke looks like their father; so the twins, whose appearances are preset, have to look like the Amell bloodline. It's especially interesting because the resemblance is subtle, but strong enough to be noticeable.
Hawke is a Magnetic Hero who champions the downtrodden people of Kirkwall. Among their closest associates are a narrator-bard (Varric), a remarkably large and strong person (Aveline), and a priest (Sebastian). And their legend has far outstripped them, growing larger than life and changing details with every retelling. Hawke is the Dragon Age equivalent of Robin Hood and the companions are the Merry Men!
Heck, female Hawke's default name is Marian. The devs may have thrown that in for a bit of Lampshade Hanging.
Although they might not be shown in the game (save for the occasional adolescent), little children as young as six are taken to the Circle, as soon as their talent is found. This makes the Right of Annulment even more horrifying.
Bodahn doesn't mention his wife this time around. His wife was in Denerim in Origins. Denerim, of course, got attacked by darkspawn at the end of the Fifth Blight. This might also explain why he went so far away from Denerim after the end of the Blight. He couldn't stay in Ferelden due to grief.
After the main story, Merrill can never return to her clan regardless. That's bad enough, but if you don't romance her, she ends up entirely on her own with no clan, forced to leave her close friend/respected rival. Somewhat subverted by Inquisition, which mentions she stuck around Kirkwall and works to help the Alienage elves.
In Origins, if one plays a mage and reports Jowan to Irving, telling him that making sure that Lily's fate is not better than Jowan's is a rather vicious ploy makes him answer, "Do you think Chantry and Templar are models of magnanimity? They would make us all Tranquil if they could, and call it a kindness." Once you've played through Dragon Age II, this sentence will send chills down your spine because of how right he was.
And, Kinloch Hold is described as one of the most liberally-run Circles; Cullen scorns its "trust and leniency." Anders, if present for this, is scornful in turn, because apparently locking a runaway in solitary confinement for a year is considered lenient. Hammered home by the Unreliable Narrator of the second volume of World of Thedas, which features lamenting about how ungrateful Anders was that he got off so lightly, and an unnamed interviewer asking Irving if he regrets not making him Tranquil instead. note For a case where they weren't "lenient," Wynne's personal quest featured the story of a fourteen-year-old boy who was accused of being a maleficar, run through and left for dead.
The way the games are going, it's almost like it's becoming a theme each game to potentially wipe out an entire Dalish clan. note You kill Zathrian's clan in Origins if you side with the werewolves, Velanna's small clan in Awakening is wiped out before you ever meet her, Merrill's clan is killed in this game unless Hawke picks the correct dialogue option, and then in Inquisition a Dalish Inquisitor's clan can be decimated if the wrong choices are made at the war table. One wonders how far the genocide might go before the Dalish are either wiped out completely or rise up.
And then along comes Trespasser...
It's strongly implied that Corypheus can brainwash and control Wardens because of their taint. A Corypheus possessed Janeka/Larius was going to report to the Warden-Commander. Which Warden-Commander they are talking about? The First Warden? The Hero of Ferelden? Now imagine Corypheus gaining control of such prominent figure within the Order, then slowly brainwashing other Wardens to do his bidding. Now imagine what effects could be if he possessed, say, the King or Queen of Ferelden? The good news is that the First Warden is (according to the game's wiki) mostly a figurehead these days who spends most of their time caught up in political games in the Anderfels. The bad news is there doesn't seem to be a limit or requirement for Corypheus's Body Surf ability beyond eye contact, so he could easily find someone more useful. Luckily, the third game seems to make this point moot.
Eleni Zinovia's prophecy in Witch Hunt makes very little sense at the time, until you realize she's probably referring to the events of the Legacy DLC quest in this game: Corypheus, an ancient Tevinter-magister-turned-darkspawn, is accidentally released from his millennia-long-incarceration in a Grey Warden prison; he performs a Body Surf to a nearby Warden before Hawke delivers the killing blow, and then leaves inside his new host with no one the wiser.
Eleni: The prison is breached. I see the encroaching darkness. The... the shadow will consume all...
The entire game falls into the realm of Fridge Horror when you stop to think just how much torture and pain and insanity there is in Kirkwall, and how many of the quests deal with those same themes. The Bone Pit, Quentin, the schizophrenic murderer Kelder, and many others. It gets even worse when you realize this probably all stems from the attempts of the ancient Tevinter Imperium to summon the Forbidden Ones by turning the entire city into one huge, horrific blood ritual. In other words, Kirkwall has always been this bad, for over a thousand years. A few of the codex entries found in the Legacy DLC support this.
Sebastian's DLC adds some Fridge Horror to the whole thing when you realize that he only ever met Hawke because of his family being murdered. That's bad enough, but once he becomes a permanent companion in Act 2, he has a home base just like the other companions (in his case, the Chantry). That's where he is when he's not with Hawke, meaning that if he and Hawke had never become friends, the explosion would have killed him too. Joining Hawke's "merry band of misfits" inadvertently saves his life. He even points this out during the endgame.
The Chantry robes were redesigned for this game. Check out the gold embroidery on the front, it's so - oh, wait, that looks an awful lot like a stylized explosion. Damn it, Anders.
During the final battle, Hawke's LI or sibling can be stabbed by Meredith. This takes on a new level when we find out in Inquisition that red lyrium, the stuff of which Meredith's broadsword is made, is Blight-infected, meaning it's possible they could be infected with the Taint. Anders would probably be okay since he is already infected from the Joining, but what if the taint gets into Fenris's tattoos? The same applies to anyone that came into contact with the sword, but it's especially worrying in the latter's case, because of the prolonged contact and nature of the injury.)
Corypheus is sealed away in the Vimmark Mountains, near Kirkwall. Kirkwall has been the site of a lot of blood magic, to the point that the Veil is very thin there. It's already understood that the city was designed the way it is so the Imperium could summon the Forbidden Ones, but what if Kirkwall is also the site of the Tevinter Magisters' attempt to enter the Golden City? No wonder the place is a hotspot for possession.
Those Who Sleep reveals that Isabela's mother was a Viddathari (a convert to the Qun) who sold her to her abusive husband for refusing to convert. This puts a sobering new light on Isabela's furious and horrified reaction if Hawke decides to let the Arishok take her at the end of Act 2.
Some disturbing implications for those who played as a Human Mage in Origins. Since all of Warden Amell's siblings are mages, and the family was originally from Kirkwall, the obvious Circles to send them to would be the ones in the Free Marches. This means that for some players, their Warden might have had a sibling, two if one was sent to the Starkhaven Circle, in the Gallows when it was annulled.