Dragon Age II does a remarkable job showing the imaginable horrors brought by fantasy lore as much as it does the horrors of subject matters that mirror Real Life issues a little too well.
Warning: Spoilers Off applies to these pages. Proceed at your own risk.
- Playing as a character who loses one sibling to death, potentially another to death, kidnapping, or betrayal, and a mother to horrific murder, watches friends suffer awful tragedies or slowly lose their minds, and is used by a friend (or lover, if you romanced Anders) as an unwitting accomplice in a murder makes Dragon Age II a goldmine of Adult Fear.
- The music that plays when you have only one wounded party member left alive.
- If you go to a certain spot in the Gallows, you can hear the echoing, disembodied sounds of someone being beaten... There's a lot of nasty implications in the background sounds, and also in the lines of the Templars, mages, and Tranquil hanging around the Gallows if you listen closely.
- The Bone Pit is generally a creepy place, particularly once you learn of the abuses that the Tevinter slave masters carried out there. What little music plays there is unsettling, and the sounds of animals fighting or howling somewhere in the distance doesn't help.
- And even the information you are given about the Pit is only really bits and pieces, just enough for you to start filling in the blanks with your own imagination. And then you realize that what you thought were just heaps of scree and slag at the bottom of the pit are actually piles and piles of bones...
- Don't forget the codex entry where the horrified representative tells his superior about the slaves being forced to push each other off the edge into the Pit, and how the superior ordered him to remain silent because whatever the overseers were doing to the slaves was resulting in tremendous productivity and that's all that mattered.
- If you spend enough time talking to Sandal, this disturbing monologue will occur.Sandal: 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.Bodahn: Huh. What's this?Sandal: When he rises, everyone will see.Bodahn: By the ancestors, what's gotten into you, my boy?Sandal: Enchantment?Bodahn: Hmph. That's more like it.
- Arguably this one gets even worse when taken with the revelations at the end of Dragon Age: Inquisition's Trespasser DLC.
- If you've followed all the Enigmas of Kirkwall through all the acts, you'll be blessed with the pleasure of finding out this interesting fact: Kirkwall was turned by the Imperium into a gigantic blood sacrifice ritual, causing such problems as failed Harrowings, constant problems with blood mages, people getting lost and a Veil so weak that demons could come in easily enough and in such numbers that they hunt down normal people because there's too much competition to get to the mages. Why is this? The Tevinters wanted the Veil weakened by the thousands of slave sacrifices in order to try and summon the Forbidden Ones, ancient powerful demons who taught the people how to use blood magic in the first place! How bad are they? In Origins, you faced one as a Bonus Boss - Gaxkang the Unbound. In Dragon Age II, you face another one, Xebenkeck. And the worst part? According to the codex, there's two left, Imshael and The Formless One. Not to neglect the special neighbor in the Vimmark Mountains, Corypheus, one of the Tevinter Magisters of old that tried to storm the Golden City and became one of the first darkspawn!
- And a little extra for someone who has come back after playing the third game. Since the player encounters Imshael in Inquisition, one is left to wonder... where is The Formless One, and how bad will that boss fight be when it finally comes?
- Based on the fact that Corypheus is held captive within the nearby Vimmark Mountains, it is entirely possible that Kirkwall was the site where the Tevinter magisters attempted to enter the Fade. Bet they don't include THAT in the brochure...
- It's easy to miss, especially in the first few playthroughs when you may be focused on other things. But as you travel around Kirkwall, note the ambient sound effects. It's not just music... it's chanting. Like echoes of ancient magic being cast. Tie that fact into the above-mentioned Enigma of Kirkwall codexes, and it suddenly becomes really very clear that there is something wrong with this place.
- Poor Feynriel! Thanks to his powers as a somniari, he gets horrifying nightmares of demons, all of which are real and very much out to get him. His mother is helpless to do anything, his father walked out on them, the Templars are hunting him down, and he gets caught by slavers when he tries to run away. If Hawke saves him, he heads off to the Dalish - but he's alone without friends or family, nobody trusts him, and the elders are afraid of him. Then, his nightmares get even worse and he finds himself trapped in the Fade and facing powerful demons. Hawke's choices can help him get better in the end, but wow.
- Even if Hawke helps him and he gets a badass upgrade, it carries some heavy Nightmare Fuel. In Act 3, Hawke is tasked with tracking down a kidnapped girl on the Wounded Coast, only to find her safe with all the kidnappers dead. Turns out that Feynriel massacred the entire group when they tried to rape her, through the Fade, with his physical body residing in Tevinter... which is located on the other side of Thedas!
- Not to mention the fact that the girl he saved is now somewhat creepily obsessed with him. Is that a coincidence? Or did Feynriel intentionally or otherwise cause her to fall in love with him?
- Everything to do with the Primeval Thaig at the end of Act I, including the implication that the Profane you encounter are the remnants of the ancient dwarves who built the thaig, all driven mad by the lyrium idol and compelled to devour lyrium until it's all they live for. Even better is reading up on the codex, and realizing that it's all but stated that The Shaperate - the dwarves in charge of preserving everything about their history, good or ill - refused to preserve the memory of the thaig or the idol, and for very good reason.
- In the alley filled with the saar-qamek, there's an insane elven woman who screams "Baby! Come to Mother! Something sharp and shiny!" The way she says "shiny" is really disturbing.
- In the Anders companion quest "Dissent," you learn about Ser Alrik, who wants to use the Rite of Tranquility on all mages. What makes this even worse is that when you get to the scene where he threatens a young mage woman, it's heavily implied he's doing so to effectively make Tranquil women his sex slaves! To add in some Fridge Horror, consider that the Templars with him might be in on the whole thing. And finally, this quest shows how badly out of control Anders/Justice is becoming, turning into Vengeance. One of your companions is losing control and can potentially murder an innocent girl.
- And if you go to the Gallows, you will get to hear a human female Tranquil talking to her former lover.Jaken: Ive been searching for you everywhere. You werent in your rooms, the libraries...Jaken: No! Helena, its me. Dont you remember me?Helena: Of course. You are Apprentice Jaken. We were once involved in an illicit relationship.Jaken: Illicit? I-I love you!Helena: I am Ser Alrik's now. He is the only one who can command me.
- Adds an extra layer of horror if you're playing a warrior or rogue Hawke who left Bethany behind when they went to the Deep Roads. How close did Hawke's beautiful younger sister come to being targeted by Ser Alrik? She even mentions him in her letter to her sibling, saying that he gives her the creeps!
- Even worse, dialogue in Inquisition between Cassandra and Cole heavily implies that incidents like this are not restricted to the Gallows.
- And if you go to the Gallows, you will get to hear a human female Tranquil talking to her former lover.
- In the Varric companion quest "Family Matter," his brother Bartrand has gone insane and has been performing horrific experiments on people, driving his guards mad as well and rigging the place with traps. Not to mention the Lyrium idol is gone, and is now in Meredith's possession. It turns to Tear Jerker territory if you bring Anders along and temporarily make Bartrand lucid, showing how much its influence has destroyed him.
- Really, the idol itself deserves a mention. It drives people insane and is one of the causes of the Mage-Templar War. This is the reason that, when Cassandra tells Varric that the Champion "must have known what was down there," he responds the way he does.Varric: No. None of us knew. If we had, this would have all turned out very differently.
- Really, the idol itself deserves a mention. It drives people insane and is one of the causes of the Mage-Templar War. This is the reason that, when Cassandra tells Varric that the Champion "must have known what was down there," he responds the way he does.
- Meeting the monstrous spider for the first time during the Deep Roads expedition can't be fun for arachnophobes. And if you have a fear of scorpions or other crawly spiky things, say hello to the Varterral◊!
- Leandra's death. She's killed by Quentin, a demented blood mage, so he can use her head to reconstruct his dead wife using parts from other women he's killed. If Hawke hadn't killed Quentin, then she would have been aware of what he was doing to her for the rest of his life, completely unable to do a thing about it. For bonus points, it's clear that he removed her eyes (probably because they were the "wrong" color) and replaced them with someone else's. And it's implied that Leandra was aware of everything the entire time.
- Not only that, but the first of his notes about his wife just sound... wrong. He really doesn't seem to be focused on her as a person.
- At one point, Sandal claims to be seeing an "old lady" with a "scary laugh" by his bedside at night. Bodahn brushes it off, walks away, and the scene ends with Hawke and Sandal staring at one another in a painfully long, uncomfortable silence. Never is this scene explained.
- Something to keep in mind - Sandal is a dwarf (or at least half a dwarf), and dwarves don't dream. In other words, this can't be disregarded as something Sandal saw in a nightmare and just thinks he saw while he was awake.
- The little tidbit in "Alone" that will simultaneously want to make you grab the Brain Bleach and kill Danarius in the most brutal fashion possible. It can make even the most ardent Fenris hater feel bad for him.Danarius: Do I detect a hint of jealousy? It's not surprising. The lad is rather skilled, isn't he?
- Danarius's voice. There is no doubt in this man's mind that all he's done and all he's doing is perfectly acceptable - no, worse, that it's right. If you hand Fenris over, the letter makes it clear that he thinks that a mind-wiped Fenris is happier and better off that way. He even invites you to come and visit sometime.Danarius: You weren't always this way, Fenris. Once upon a time you had affection for me. I remember it fondly.
- Word of God has confirmed that implication to be canon.
- It's even more disturbing when you remember Fenris admitting that, as a result of his mind-wipe and mental conditioning, his main priority as a slave was to maintain his master's approval. Consider the dawning horror he would have felt upon reflection on all the things he'd done and had done without ever questioning them.
- Danarius's voice. There is no doubt in this man's mind that all he's done and all he's doing is perfectly acceptable - no, worse, that it's right. If you hand Fenris over, the letter makes it clear that he thinks that a mind-wiped Fenris is happier and better off that way. He even invites you to come and visit sometime.
- Varric, in "Haunted," starts to act... strangely when investigating Bartrand's mansion again. At the end of the quest, he discovers a piece of the lyrium idol and all but begs Hawke to let him keep it. If just a small piece can do that to Varric, imagine the mental havoc the whole idol played on the minds of Bartrand and Meredith.
- During the quest "On the Loose," there's Huon's power-up scene, where he whispers under his breath about the power of blood magic as his skin grows pale and large blood spots appear all over his face. He's basically a shining example of the evil maleficar that the Chantry makes every blood mage out to be. The fact that he gets the power for his spell by murdering his very innocent wife is just the horrible frosting on this blood-soaked cake. And to further twist the knife for Hawke, the wife had just hours earlier begged Hawke to protect her from her husband... with good reason, clearly.
- The final battle. The Templars have been ordered to slaughter every Circle mage, despite the fact that the vast majority are innocent of any wrongdoing, and certainly none of them are guilty of blowing up the Chantry. And suddenly Hawke faces the choice between a group of well-meaning guardians, most of whom genuinely believe they're protecting the city, and a group of terrified mages, half of whom are about to make themselves into monsters just to try to delay the Templars and to give at least some of the other half a chance to escape. One of these groups is gonna get slaughtered, and it's up to them to decide who it will be. The worst part is that Hawke has absolutely no chance to influence the terms of battle or keep relative innocents out of harm's way, so even if you wanted a rebellion, this probably wasn't what you had in mind.
- Orsino's transformation into a Harvester using the corpses of the other dead mages.
- Replaying the quest "All That Remains" after finding out the identity of "O" might make you unable to look at Orsino the same way ever again. Granted, the letter is implied to be from before he found out about the particular brand of deranged Quentin is, but even when he speaks regretfully of his actions (...before turning into a Harvester...), it's completely not to the point he should be, and in part because of that and because of the note's general amicability, it still comes off as pure Fridge Horror.
- The revelation about "O's" identity only comes if Hawke sides with the Templars. If Circle!Bethany is there for this revelation, it's even worse, because you can see how much she has looked up to him and how devastated she is to find that he could have saved her mother if he'd just said something.
- The animated slave statues during the final confrontation with Meredith. While the Gate Guardians are almost robotic, the movement of the slave statues is so horrifically fluid and... organic that it leaps straight off a cliff into the Uncanny Valley.
- What happens to Meredith after you beat her. Start at :41.
- And made worse since for all we know, she's still alive.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition makes it worse. In party banter between Varric and Blackwall, Varric will admit that Meredith is still in the Gallows. No one has had the courage to touch the statue, much less move it. Thankfully, she finally gets removed in the Trespasser DLC.
- The short story written for Anders describes the immediate aftermath of him being possessed by Justice; he murders a large group of Wardens and Templars, and very clearly enjoys killing the Templars. The last thing he clearly remembers before regaining control of himself again is ripping a man's head clean off his shoulders, entirely without the use of magic, and enjoying the taste that he manages to get of his victim's blood. Even worse, the remains of the bodies are afterwards described as "a bloody abattoir of rent limbs and torn and eaten flesh." To cap it all off, the story is told entirely from Anders's own perspective, with Anders himself reeling with horror at the atrocity he just committed. It hammers in hard just how terrifying Anders/Justice are when they lose control, and how tragic their circumstances are.Anders: This is not justice. This is not the spirit who was my friend, my self. What has he become? What have I become? We must get out of here. There is no place for me in the Grey Wardens now. Is there a place for me anywhere?
- The situation of Justice himself is horrifying. In Awakening, he was just getting used to a world he didn't understand, talking to its residents for the very first time, making good friends - including the Warden-Commander themself, potentially. Now he's stuck inside a friend, for the most part unable to interact with anything or just talk to anyone anymore, even Anders ever since the possession took place. He's lost everything he only just had, and at the same time all of this is happening in Kirkwall, a place filled to the brim with the injustice he so despises.