Arl Eamon Guerrin. Although he is identified as a Big Good of Ferelden, some of his actions not seen directly in the game can make the player question just what kind of person he really is. Yes, he took in Alistair as a baby and saw that he was healthy and educated; but packed him off to the Chantry when he was ten to placate the jealous Isolde. Even this part becomes somewhat questionable when you understand that Eamon made the kid sleep in the stable. One has to wonder how he even got away with that, seeing as how Alistair's father was the king. Additionally, once Cailan's secret correspondence is reclaimed in the Return to Ostagar DLC, it can be read in the codexes - where it is revealed that Eamon was the one who convinced Cailan that he should divorce Anora. Loghain himself puts forth this interpretation of Eamon.
Loghain: Because Eamon, for all his merits, is a conservative man. He believes in tradition and inheritance, and would never see the daughter of a freeholder, however gifted, in power.
SF Debris makes a fair compelling case that Duncan killing Jory was a lot more justified than it appears to some. The Warden recruits had all been warned they'd reached the point of no return, they had to go through the Joining. Jory refused, and drew his sword on Duncan. In that moment, he became a deserter, refusing to stay at or report to his assigned post (being a Grey Warden), and showed by drawing his sword that he was prepared to fight, and thus kill, to affect his desertion. Desertion is a pretty stiff crime, especially in medieval times (in fact, in Ostagar, you meet an accused deserter, and it's treated as a Foregone Conclusion he'll be hanged for it as soon as someone gets around to sentencing him). So Duncan wasn't killing Jory to keep the Warden's secrets, he was executing a man who'd proven he didn't have the courage to fight the fight he'd signed on for. A harsh punishment to be sure. . . but a soldier on the line turning tail compromises the entire army; running off while still in the relative safety of the camp is little different.
Loghain. When you finally face him, he's actually not even a Boss, just an Elite. The Doylist explanation for this is that a Boss-ranked Loghain would be way overpowered to fight in a one-on-one duel, but it's still kind of jarring to discover that the most feared general in Ferelden is actually less powerful than Howe, a Rogue. Notably, if a fight breaks out in the throne room prior to the duelnote Which happens if the player loses the Landsmeet or just decides to challenge him anyway — meaning the player has access to the entire party and Loghain has all his soldiers — Loghain is Boss-ranked, indicating it's a mechanical decision.
Another explanation is that the ease of the fight is also a sign of how far the great hero has fallen in his intentions.
The Blood Mage Leader in "The Last Request." The quest itself is one of the hardest in the game, with room after room full of nothing but multiple mages partnered with multiple archers (the two toughest varieties of enemy in the game). Then you get to the end and it's just one mage and a couple of melee mooks (and the mage is easy enough to beat, since he won't stop casting from hit points after you kill the guys he's using as HP batteries).
This varies depending on how you are loaded out, level scaling, game difficulty, and outright luck. Some find him an easy fight, others are going to wonder what they are doing wrong that this "supposed to be easy" boss and his cronies have managed to tear your group apart four times in a row.
The "Paragon of her Kind" questline in Orzammar gets a lot of flack for this. With the escapades around the dwarven city, followed by the eventual gauntlet through the Deep Roads to reach Caridin's Forge, the journey ends up rivaling perhaps the entirety of the mage and elf questlines combined. It could almost be an entire game in its own right. The player has to traverse at least five fairly lengthy dungeons to complete it, seven if you're also trying to get the side quests done as well. Not to mention the minimum of five boss fights (assuming you go out of your way to avoid them, even in the main questline, and skip most the sidequests and exploring), two of which are That One Boss. This is made even worse by the fact that the final task ends up being a Kingmaker Scenario, making the first two tasks a completely pointless waste of time. Like the "Broken Circle" quest below, there's also a mod available that lets you skip 90% of the final Orzammar story-related quest ('Anvil of the Void'), bringing your party to the Broodmother boss fight directly. Making things even more tedious is that Orzammar is basically a giant U, with Dust Town on one end and the Diamond Quarter on the other. Many quests involve you running from the extreme end (or nearly so) of one side to the other and back again, adding a lot of unnecessary "fetch" to the Fetch Quests.
"Broken Circle" suffers similarly, since once you go past the big doors, you can't go back out until the quest is cleared. A very common complaint of the game is the Fade portion, which requires a lot of backtracking. To get an impression of how disliked it is, a mod that lets you teleport to your trapped party members and skip the rest of the Fade while getting all its special rewards is #8 on the DA Nexus most endorsed files of all time.
"Arl of Redcliffe" takes up the other third of the game not occupied by "Paragon of Her Kind" and the rest of the game (i.e. "Broken Circle", "Nature of the Beast", the Landsmeet, and the Final Battle). The real killer (particularly for completionists) is that its a three-parter, and theyre all potentially challenging. First you have to defend Redcliffe from an undead assault at night, meaning that if you miss the quests to make it easier on you, go to Redcliffe first, or both, you have a long slog of a siege on your hands. After that, you have to reach Connor and fight a mind-controlled Teagan. Then youre routed halfway across the world to Denerim and then all the way back to Haven, where you have to deal with the cultists living there, all of which are either Blood Mages or Reavers. Then you get saddled with a choice of when you fight the area boss- near immediately, or right after you get a pinch of the Ashes. Both are equally bad, but for different reasons. Not to mention Leliana possibly leaving. Only then does it end (the game leaves it as incomplete until you agree to call the Landsmeet and move on to the final third of the game). Even worse, unless you want an approval hit from Alistair, you are practically forced to do "Broken Circle" in the middle of the quest, only extending the arduous mess further.
The Random Encounter that's essentially a medieval version of Superman's origin. This is seen only in the Warden's Keep DLC, and provides you with the ore to make your own powerful blade.
The haunted orphanage in the Denerim Alienage is both this and Mood Whiplash for the game as a whole. All of Origins is a dark, but still mid-to-high fantasy adventure through a typical RPG kingdom. Then this quest happens, and there's screaming and dying children playing as ambient sound, and everything is coated in ridiculous amounts of blood. This change to cheesy, nightmarish horror is not even noticed, let alone Lampshaded by your companions, and is never brought up again after it's over. Everything just goes back to business as usual.
Broken Base: The Witch Hunt DLC. Either it was a great ending to the Origins storyline, or it was a pointless DLC that raised more questions than it answered. To some extent it depends on how invested you are in Morrigan.
While Loghain's death can be an Alas, Poor Villain moment, especially if you've recruited him in another playthrough and learned his view on the world, it is pretty satisfying to see him get completely destroyed at the Landsmeet debate after all he's put you and your party through.
The Essences and Fonts in the "Lost in Dreams" sequence will give your Warden 21 free attribute points. Entire builds are made out of the assumption that you're waiting until you get those points before your build comes into its own. The vast majority of players thus opt for doing the Circle Tower first, even though you can do the major quests in any order (though Beef Gates, as well as level scaling codes, imply that certain orders were intended by the devs).
It's pretty much agreed by fan communities that if you're playing a rogue, any build besides a heavy-Cunning, dual-dagger, Assassin/Bard, Back Stab-focused one is basically a waste of time. For Dragon Age: Origins Awakening, switch that out for "heavy-Dexterity" archer.
The greedy Arl Rendon Howe kills the family and servants of the Human Noble Player Character to take control of their lands, all out of jealousy over the public love the family received. Joining Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir, Howe manipulates and carries out Loghain's most atrocious plans. Conducting a purge of Denerim's elven alienage, Howe has countless elves—including an orphanage full of children—put to death. Responsible for torturing enemies of Loghain, Howe loves this task so much he has his quarters moved next to his Torture Cellar. Fearing the influences Loghain's daughter may have over him, the power-hungry Howe tries to persuade Loghain to kill her and tries murdering her himself when this fails.
Bann Vaughan Kendells, the son of Arl Urien Kendells of Denerim, is a Serial Rapist and murderer of elven women who justifies his crimes by saying that elves aren't real people. When he appears in the City Elf Origin, Vaughan abducts the entire female half of a wedding party, including the protagonist if female, to be raped by him and his men. By the time the protagonist fights back, one woman has already been killed, and by the time the protagonist reaches Vaughan, their cousin, Shianni, has been raped by Vaughan and his friends. Unwilling to release his hostages, Vaughan instead tries to bribe the protagonist into letting him keep the women for the night and threaten to have his father burn the Denerim alienage to the ground. Such cruelty from Vaughan isn't an isolated incident, as the DLC prequel Leliana's Song features an overheard conversation where Vaughan is preparing to rape/torture one of his maids over a floor stain, and Valendrian tells of an elven dockworker's daughter who was kidnapped by Vaughan and found dead floating in the water a few days later.
Leliana's Song prequel DLC: Harwen Raleigh is the commander of The Hard Line troops who fought in the first Ferelden-Orlais war and lost his lands during that war. After King Maric refused to give him new lands to rule over because of his numerous war crimes, Raleigh was forced to serve Arl Urien. Arresting many people for minor crimes or offenses, Raleigh loved to torture them for days, letting his men rape the women and then selling off his prisoners to whoever pays the most. Later on, conspiring with Marjolaine to get his hands on secret Orlesian military documents, Raleigh planned to use them to convince Ferelden leadership to attack Orlais, which would restart the massive war between nations and allow Raleigh to reclaim his lands.
Critical Research Failure: Characters use health poultices by drinking them. (A poultice is supposed to be applied directly to an injury, not entirely unlike a heating pad.) This is turned into a Mythology Gag in Dragon Age: Inquisition, where Iron Bull complains about the taste of his subordinate's healing potions only for said subordinate to respond that "it's a poultice, you're not supposed to drink it."
Ironically, spiders. Just start up a mage story and do the clear the basement quest: you have a lone underpowered character facing off against a Spider Swarm, and these can be on the roof, or on the walls, or right behind you, no you won't see them until the Jump Scare scripts in. Aggressive, violent, dangerous, can poison, pin down, and scary as all get out.
What about literal demonic spiders? Corrupted variant (encountered mostly in the Deep Road) are like everything above, but Up to Eleven. They can use both Web and Overwhelm ability to stun your fighters, and use that time to tear your mage/rogue support a new one. Oh, but that's not all - they also have access to two sure-fire abilities, one of which (Potion Spit) deals a lot of damage, and other (Corruption Burst) lower your attack, so you have even less chance hitting them. Oh, and they hit like a truck in general, if you survive all the above.
Arcane Horrors. Their fights usually come with hordes of undead enemies they can heal, hard-hitting spells like chain lightning, and the one in the Brecilian ruins will teleport away every time you try to engage it in melee.
Darkspawn Emissaries in the late-game, such as in the Deep Roads or the Battle of Denerim can be surprisingly durable, and pack spells like Curse of Mortality and Misdirection Hex, which combined will be almost a guaranteed death sentence for even the tankiest of characters. While this alone would be difficult to deal with, they generally come accompanied with Darkspawn foot soldiers, Ogres, archers, or other Emissaries. The danger posed by Emissaries and the aforementioned Arcane Horrors is why the Mana Clash spell is considered a Game-Breaker.
After the Landsmeet, the number of bugs - some of them game breaking - seems to skyrocket. The worst of these is probably the one that has Alistair acting like he's the king, and everyone else thinking he's the king, when you have made Anora queen. One can fix this through mods on the PC, but confusion will quickly give way to annoyance, and on the consoles you have no choice but to live with them.
The Witch Hunt DLC, which is considered the last part of the Origins storyline, gets flack for being this. See Broken Base above.
Dry Docking: The fandom is especially rife with this. Just a mere throwaway mention in a non-canonical Alternate Universe DLC that suggested Alistair and Leliana were rumored to be lovers in that timeline caused an backlash from the rabid portion of Alistair fangirls.
Finn and Ariane, the two companions from the Witch Hunt DLC, were incredibly well-liked by players.
Cullen, despite only having a few lines of dialogue in this game, remains one of the most popular characters from it - mostly for the crush he has on the female mage Warden. His popularity is such that he returns in the second game and becomes a major participant in the third, even being promoted to potential love interest for a female Inquisitor.
Bann Teagan has many admirers in the fandom, as he's one of the few unambiguously heroic characters, stands up to Loghain, never steps on the player's toes, and even flirts with the female Warden.
Sandal, the simple enchanter son of Bodahn, is fun, energetic, and memetic enough that the fandom very fondly looks on him. His return in the next game was extremely well received, and many players were disappointed not to see him again in the third.
Dagna, in Orzammar, is the rare dwarf that decided to study magic and is downright Adorkable. She proved to be popular enough to be recruited to the Inquisition.
The Golden Ending for the Landsmeet questline is more uncomfortable the more you think about it. Sure, Alistair and Anora are a beloved ruling couple. However, the biggest issue that nobles raised to urge Cailan to drop Anora was her implied infertility. Alistair is a Grey Warden, who are infamous for low fertility as well. It's almost a guarantee that they will not produce a viable heir and another Succession Crisis is on the horizon.
For that matter, the Human Noble marrying Alistair/Anora and becoming Queen/King, while also treated as an Optimal Happy Ending, is also a short-term solution since the couple suffer from the same fertility problems as above. Male Cousland has low fertility as a Grey Warden and Queen Anora is still believed to be infertile. While King Alistair and Queen Cousland combine the beloved Houses Theirin and Cousland, two Grey Wardens are as good as sterile. In the short run they are a beloved ruling couple, but in the long run their chances of producing a viable heir are also next to none and another Succession Crisis is almost guaranteed down the line.
Faux Symbolism: The Fade level requires you to go between rooms which, for some reason, are arranged in the pattern of the Tree of Life◊.
First Installment Wins: Origins is usually considered the best game in the series in terms of story, gameplay, and overall world building, and is also seen as Bioware's farewell to their old style of RPG development before the EA buyout that resulted in their development of games being heavily shifted. By contrast, II is usually derided for its rushed nature and not really feeling like a unique game since it borrowed heavily from Mass Effect and Inquisition, while initially seeing massive success, has had some feel as though the quality of the game declined with time, and is sometimes criticized for its less engaging sidequests, story, and more divisive moments.
Foe Yay: A lot of people think that dialogue between Alistair and Morrigan is not hateful, but filled with UST. This potentially makes the Dark Ritual very interesting.
Franchise Original Sin: Let's just say a number of problems with later games found their origin in the Witch Hunt DLC.
The Witch Hunt DLC officially wraps up the Origins story, hidden behind a price tag and ending with a Sequel Hook. While it's a fairly inconsequential plot (what happened to Morrigan?), later games would get much more flak for hiding the complete story behind DLC content as well. Dragon Age 2 would get panned for its rushed release, with a more complete story planned for a DLC that ultimately got canceled, leaving the game an incomplete mess. While Dragon Age: Inquisition wasn't rushed to release, the entire endgame story (which wrapped up the fates of all companions, advisers, the Inquisition, and Solas, as well as the Sequel Hook) getting relegated to the Trespasser DLC behind a price tag, and then not even making it available to last gen consoles, really angered a lot of fans.
For elf fans sick of human characters being portrayed as greater experts on and more qualified to recover elvhen knowledge than the elves themselves (especially given the elves' Applicability and Word Of Gaider Allegory to real historically oppressed minorities), the seeds were planted as early as the Witch Hunt DLC. Morrigan, a human hedge mage, steals a book from the Dalish to construct an Eluvian; then human Circle mage companion Finn effortlessly deduces that the word Eluvian means "mirror," anticipates where Morrigan took it, and utilizes ancient elvhen rituals to find it, all while Dalish companion Ariane stands there shocked and embarrassed that a human deciphered more ancient elvhen knowledge as a side hobby than the Dalish managed after centuries of dedicated study. On it's own its not so bad, but future games increasingly portraying elves as painfully inept at recovering or utilizing their own ancient knowledge (from the next game's Merrill being portrayed as a naive idiot for trying to construct an Eluvian from scratch even though Morrigan successfully did the same the previous game, to DAI Solas and Sera endlessly ragging on modern elves for not knowing anything), and human characters being increasingly portrayed as more qualified to recover and wield Elvhen knowledge than the elves themselves (again, Morrigan successfully constructing an Eluvian from scratch but Merrill being portrayed as an idiot for even trying, Hawke the human-only protagonist being portrayed as a better authority over whether Merrill could or even should try to recover a piece of her own heritage, and DAI's entire second half portraying Morrigan as a greater Elvhen expert than actual elvhen characters, as well as more qualified to drink from the Well of Sorrows than the Dalish Inquisitior, and more worthy to inherit Mythal's Elvhen godhood (with Mythal herself choosing human women like Flemeth and Morrigan to house her soul over her own elven people) over the elves themselves left a bad taste in many fans' mouths), can all be traced back to a minor plot of the easily overlooked DLC Witch Hunt.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: During the Human Noble origin, Fergus tells his eager son (your nephew) Oren that "[he'll] see a sword up close soon enough". Oren is one of the first people slaughtered by Howe's men when Howe betrays the Couslands.
Enemy archers. They're even worse after they learn Scattershot, which inflicts a nigh-irresistible stun effect on the entire party. It doesn't last long enough to serve as a true lockdown (unless there are just that many archers attacking you), but you won't enjoy seeing your spells and talents repeatedly disrupted.
Deepstalkers. Small swarmers that are only dangerous if you feed yourself to them on purpose. Lyrium potions were probably added as a reward for the annoyance, so they make a worthwhile break from the darkspawn.
Enemy mages can quickly become this if left unchecked.
In the final battle with the Archdemon, there are a few ballistae nearby. Going up to them will aim them at the Archdemon if it's close enough. Mashing the ballista fire button does a decent amount of damage (comparable to a powerful two-handed swing) to the Archdemon, but every time it is hit, it has to go through its hit animation. That means that due to the great firing rate of the ballistae, you can hit the Archdemon with it until it dies, slowly chipping away at its health as it can do nothing about it. If it flies away, just go to another ballista closer to it. The only real threat is the other darkspawn, but your other party members and your army can deal with them easily. The ballistae do jam up if you use them too many times, but can be repaired by a Rogue, as it becomes a "trap".
There's a particular armory vault door on the second floor of Redcliffe Castle that requires a key (or a rogue) to gain access. You're rewarded 40 experience for unlocking the door. The catch is that if you leave the area and come back, the door refreshes and can be unlocked for 40 experience every time. However, it's a lengthy process due to having to wait on the loading screens as you switch in and out of Redcliffe Castle's second floor, so YMMV indeed as to whether it's worth the trouble of doing more than a few times.
Reloading a save can refund you for those pricey specialization unlocks (be it through expenditure of coin for manuals or moral caliber to be taught by morally repugnant NPCs), but the specializations remain unlocked and available. They actually fixed this a few patches back, but fan outcry caused them to change it back. (It's likely that this is the reason specializations are handled differently in the subsequent games.)
Winter's Grasp can go off twice in a single cast. This happens at an almost alarming frequency.
Mana Cleanse does the opposite of its description and intent; it replenishes enemy mana to maximum. Later on the same spell branch, Mana Clash deals damage based on the target's total mana. Since most spellcasters have a higher capacity for mana than hit points, topping off their mana before Mana Clashing can be highly lethal. Between these two spells is Spell Might, which amplifies spellpower and makes Mana Clash a pretty brutal attack even on tougher-than-average wizards.
It's possible for a PC player to double attribute point increases with the Fade Essence Fonts, and the desire to get these is one of the reasons the level drags on so much. One particular Essence of Cunning can yield a whopping 10 point increase with very rapid right-clicking. The fonts can all be abused in some manner, resulting in potentially twenty or more points... each. Allegedly, one player has gotten up to a hundred off a single font.
One sidequest leads your PC to an abandoned, haunted orphanage in the Elven Alienage. A rare glitch can lock you in a windowless room all by your lonesome, complete with blood on the floors and a corpse in the corner. To make matters worse, the background music for this area is made up of children screaming, a sound that persists even if the game is paused. You will have to reset to an earlier save, but your immersion will be amped up.
It's actually possible to kill and loot Ser Cauthrien for her Cool Sword (complete with Codex entry!) twice. First, kill her at the Arl of Denerim's estate, then allow yourself to be captured by all the archers she brought with her. (Make sure you loot her body before that last happens, though, as you won't ever be able to return here either way.) Then once you go to the Landsmeet proper, there she is again, alive and well - even if you decapitated her. You can then kill her and loot her a second time, giving you two copies of the Summer Sword.
A number of bugs that have not been fixed by BioWare as of the most recent (and probably final) updates may actually be seen as good things, even if they are sometimes annoying, as abilities having limits not described in the text might be the only thing not making the game even easier. If Haste worked properly (and there is an unofficial fix), mages would be even more broken, and that would be just the start of the mayhem you can cause.
If you're a Dwarf Noble and choose to support Bhelen in the succession crisis, then his first task for you is to form an alliance with a noble house whom you may have severely humiliated in your origin story. Awkward.
Wynne talking with Alistair about giving birth in the Circle and having her newborn son taken from her. This was just one of the reasons Alistair's actual mother couldn't keep him.
During the Magi Origin, Niall and Senior Enchanter Torin can be heard discussing the growing influence of the Libertarian fraternity, which becomes rather ominous after the events of the second and third games and the Asunder novel.
Torin: Just think of what the Chantry would do if suddenly the Circles were petitioning for more independence, or even a split. Niall: Won't be pretty.
After a Dog that a non-HN Warden saved at Ostagar catches up with them, one response you can make is, "I've always wanted a dog like this." The World of Thedas: Volume 2 reveals that a City Elf Warden used to have a stuffed Mabari toy when they were a little kid, giving extra significance to the line.
Wynne asking the Warden about the nature of abominations. If told that abominations are only abominations by their actions, she's greatly relieved and grateful. You later find out she's being kept alive by a Spirit of Faith, and technically she is an abomination.
Ser Bryant in Lothering tells a mage Warden that he'd be a pretty lousy Templar if he couldn't tell they were a mage. Dragon Age II rolls around, and it seems he somehow completely failed to notice his apostate neighbors Malcolm and Bethany Hawke.
After Morrigan's Inquisition outfit was revealed, fans noticed similarities between it and the 'nice dress' Leliana suggested for her.
The entire rigmarole with searching for a miraculous relic that's the only thing that can save the poisoned Arl Eamon seems just a bit silly beside David Gaider's claim that it wasn't actually a lethal poison.
The Mage Warden's origin story is built around Jowan's forbidden relationship with a Chantry sister, and the trouble they'd both get into if caught. If the Warden romances Leliana, then by the end of Inquisition they can be in a very public romance with the Divine. Jowan really can't beat them at anything, can he?
When Mithra (in Zathrian's camp) demands proof of a non-Dalish Warden's identity, one of the options is to rhetorically ask her if a lot of people go around pretending to be Wardens. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, one of the Inquisitor's companions is doing exactly that.
It's Easy, So It Sucks!: A lot of players say that Nightmare isn't hard enough, and generally complain about the Fake Difficulty, terrible AI, insanely powerful crowd-control mechanics, and potions.
The Warden can cross this from the perspective of every party member: for several of the companions, there's a specific action you can take that makes them either attack you or leave the party altogether, regardless of approval level. However, for some of them, if you have a high enough Persuade or Intimidate skill and under the right circumstances, you can either convince them that you had to do it (or never did it in the first place) or intimidate them into submission and service.
Alistair: Sparing Loghain, unless you harden him and marry him to Anora and convince him otherwise.
Shale: Choosing to preserve the Anvil (even if you destroy it afterwards, you'll still have to kill Shale).
Leliana: Defiling the Urn of Sacred Ashes (unless she's hardened and you have a high enough Persuasion to talk her into submission).
Wynne: Either defiling the Urn or agreeing with Cullen about killing all of the mages (you can still have the Templars' support, so long as you let Uldred turn First Enchanter Irving into an abomination).
Morrigan: Refuse to perform the Dark Ritual before the Battle for Denerim and she'll leave for Orlais that night.
Zevran: If his approval is not high enough during the Landsmeet, he'll turn on you during a random encounter.
Outside of your party, there's also the instance of Branka leaving all the surviving female members of her expedition, her lover included, to darkspawn captivity with the deliberate intent to allow them to be turned into Broodmothers - a process that involves the victim being brutally raped while being tainted, leading to insanity and cannibalism - so that they could produce as many darkspawn as needed to lure into the traps that guard the Anvil of the Void. This also resulted in the deaths of all the men.
Arl Rendon Howe crosses it in the Human Noble Warden's origin when he massacres his best friend's entire household purely out of ambition and envy. This includes killing the Human Noble Warden's defenseless sister-in-law and young nephew. Howe will later take the opportunity to mock the Human Noble Warden by gloating about how he made Bryce and Eleanor (the Warden's parents) suffer before he killed them.
Bann Vaughan crosses it in the City Elf Warden origin story where he abducts the entire female half of an elven wedding party and succeeds in raping the City Elf Warden's cousin, Shianni. Loghain may also cross it for the City Elf Warden in regards to selling Denerim elves into slavery, including members of your own family.
Older Than They Think: Shale seems like an interesting and original idea for a character, that being a golem who turns out to have the mind of a female dwarf. Quite a few fans would be surprised to learn that the Forgotten Realms comic had pulled that exact idea off twenty years prior.
Paranoia Fuel: Why do you think those giant spiders are proceeding away from you in an organized fashion?
Player Punch: It's fair to say that every origin story provides at least one.
Regardless of your chosen origin, you'll most likely enjoy the thought of gutting Arl Howe and Bann Vaughn like fish when you get the chance.
The endgame is no picnic either, especially for those in a romance with Alistair or Morrigan.
For the Dwarf Commoner origin, Leske's likable personality makes his FaceHeel Turn during the main game all the more shocking. (This is only seen if the Warden is from that origin.) It's especially jarring if you play the sequel(s), then return to this game and play a Dwarf Commoner; Leske is voiced by Brian Bloom, who also voices Varric!
Porting Disaster: Edge Magazine's view on the console versions. Most other publications were less dramatic about the console versions being easier for a more casual audience (IGN even listed it as a plus in its video review). Other specific changes include each difficulty mode in the console versions being "bumped down" (ex. Normal on the console versions is equivalent to Easy on the PC version) and battles where enemies spawn in waves, such as the defense of Redcliffe, will have smaller waves in the console version (though this could be justified with how consoles have significantly less powerful hardware than PCs). The real Porting Disaster comes from the game's bugginess and how consoles get crappy, delayed patches, while PC gamers get official patches soon enough and unofficial fixes almost the same day the bug is introduced. (Yes, Bioware's DAO patches often introduce bugs.)
Dealing with friendly fire being turned on probably wouldn't be so bad if targeting abilities didn't have your cursor automatically center onto an enemy when it approaches close enough to them, forcing the player to swing the camera around wildly to find a spot on the ground where they can circumvent this to cast an ability that hit enemies while avoiding allies.
The limited inventory space. Even after all the inventory upgrades, your max will only be 125 (on PC) or 120 (on consoles) slots. If you pick up everything you can, you'll quickly run out of room in your backpack. This can be mitigated by the party chest available in the Warden's Keep DLC, but that only has 97 slots. The only other thing which helps at all is the fact that all party members can be equipped with two sets of weapons, which at least gets a few things out of the inventory, but it's easy to forget that this option exists because the second set is not seen unless you manually switch to it on the character screen.
"The Urn of Sacred Ashes" quest is basically the final act of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade transposed in a fantasy setting. You're breaking into a remote temple to find one of the holiest relics of your own religion (the Urn is the closest Dragon Age equivalent to the Holy Grail) which is rumored to have healing powers and is protected by a cult, you have to solve traps and puzzles, and a supernatural human guardian watches you. Note that, in both works, the protagonist immediate goal to look for the artifact is to use it to cure someone else, and it's proven to work.
The Darkspawn Chronicles DLC is basically the finale mission from The Battle for Middle-earth Evil campaign (the siege of Minas Tirith, played as the Orc besiegers) reimagined as a squad-based tactical RPG instead of a RTS. Both are a non-canon Perspective Flip where you're playing as the villain and the evil side triumphes over the good guys. You're leading a party of Orc-like warriors against the good guys' capital city, and mow down heroes from the canon campaign. Interestingly, The Darkspawn ChroniclesFinal Boss is Alistair, a character with some similarities with Aragorn (he's a king's hidden heir, and reluctant to assume his legacy at first). In BFME Evil version of Minas Tirith's siege, Aragorn appears in the last part of the battle and must be killed to win; Zevran and Oghren (who themselves are loosely inspired by Legolas and Gimli) are also encountered in The Darkspawn Chronicles, but not along Alistair. Note both games share the same publisher (Electronic Arts).
That One Attack: Let's just say that enemies in this game have a lot of ways of being extremely annoying to the player at their disposal.
Groups of enemy archers spamming "Scattershot", which stuns the entire party and is almost impossible to resist.
Ogres, dragons, and other large enemies using Grab to pummel your tank to death. Ogres get bonus point for having inescapable Ram attack that - somehow - could knock you down from across the room.
Creatures such as spiders or dogs with the ability Overwhelm, which allows the animal to knock a character to the ground and continuously cut the person to shreds. Nothing is fun about being helpless to defend with the character that's being overwhelmed, especially if said character is your group healer.
Revenants using Mass Pull to disrupt your carefully planned tactical spacing, interrupt your slow-recharging spells and talents, and render your entire party extremely vulnerable to some heavy hitting follow-up attacks.
Perhaps the most annoying aspect of these abilities, however, is that none of them require a physical resistance check which could at least let tankier characters ignore the worst effects. On the bright side, Overwhelm and Grab can be interrupted by the attacker being frozen, paralyzed, knocked down, or stunned.
Enemy mages as a whole have a plethora of skills that'll piss off the player in some way or another.
Misdirection Hex, while entirely useful on enemies, is infuriating when on the player, as it causes all normal hits to be misses, and all critical hits to be normal hits.
Chain Lightning which can be a game-ender if your party members are standing close together.
Crushing Prison which is likely to be an extremely slow-acting death sentence if it's targeted at a mage; especially if it's your group healer.
Curse of Mortality, which causes a party member to stop regenerating for a while.
Fireball which can come off as a major annoyance due to its ability to knockdown your entire party.
Uthkiel the Crusher is one of the demons you have to kill during the Fade sequence during the "Broken Circle" main quest. He's a stronger version of the regular ogre darkspawn, with the ability to stun-lock you using nothing but its Charge talent. Trying to beat him can often be a Luck-Based Mission.
After rescuing Anora, Ser Cauthrien's fight at the front gate of the estate is considered to be one of the hardest fights in the game. Thankfully, there's an option to skip past it, and the "penalty" for skipping or losing is just a minor side quest that involves a prison break, one of the funniest moments in the game.
The Broodmother. Since she can't move away from her spot, you think she'd be easy as pie; but the only way to kill her is approach her (unless you have ranged attackers), and approaching her means you'll probably get grabbed and killed.
The fight with Jarvia during the second task in A Paragon of Her Kind. Besides the natural resistance of Dwarves to magic, the room itself is filled with traps and she's surrounded by a large number of henchmen and even calls in reinforcements at one point. Given that every single enemy present is a well-trained rogue, they also deal a very high amount of damage very rapidly.
The Circle of Magi main quest is this if you play as a Mage Warden. Said quest has Wynne as a Required Party Member, which forces to keep two Squishy Wizards in a game with an Arbitrary Headcount Limit of four party members. It's the quest where Wynne becomes playable, and her starting build is mostly devoted to healing and defensive buffs, without much offensive magic. The third floor of the dungeon is especially difficult with such a party because several rooms contain brainwashed Templars, who have anti-magic abilities. Since this part of the main quest is a Plot Tunnel, you're not even able to leave early, do other quests to train Wynne, and go back once you feel more ready.
The Fade, a later portion of the aforementioned Circle of Magi quest. Dull environments, a nasty difficulty spike, obtuse puzzles, alternate forms that are very slow (save for the burning man) and a boss at the end that goes through about five forms before it finally keels over and dies. And the best part: a whopping twenty-one free attribute points hidden in various nooks and crannies, forcing players with Completionist or Munchkin tendencies to go over every inch of every map, every time. It's pretty much a universal agreement that no one likes doing this after completing it the first time. "Skip the Fade" mods are some of the most popular out there.
In a sense, the trope might actually be Zig Zagged in this case for some. Most players report that the start-up portion of the Fade is frustrating slow and tedious, but once you acquire all the different transformations and realize what the developers were trying to accomplish, it actually gets quite entertaining experimenting with the forms; there are even some great character moments once you get a glimpse of the companions' dreamscapes. Then you get to the portion with the aforementioned boss and attribute points collection and it loops around to frustrating and tedious again.
The Deep Roads, a string of four locations (six if you include the optional Aeducan and Cadash areas) that all use the same dull cave environment and erratic difficulty spikes throughout the gauntlet. It's a common feeling to be sick of the Deep Roads by the time you finally reach Branka and Caridin's forge.
Orzammar in general can be this as it drags on for quite a while, with the game requiring a lot of backtracking in a much bigger location than most of the hubs.
There's a rather nasty map layout when you activate the encounter that starts Leliana's personal Side Quest. You start off at an entrance which is being attacked by ranged enemies on a higher cliff nearby; but to reach the cliff, you gotta traverse a small path up, and around, the hilltop that also happens to be filled with more enemies and traps. The actual fight against the enemies on the top of the hill isn't anything hard (heck, you can even kill them off with your own ranged attackers at the start), it's getting to them that's the rough part.
A similar case happens with the Denerim area for the "The Last Request" Side Quest, where the final battle against the Blood Mage leader isn't anything difficult... but the path leading up to him can be quite difficult due to areas full of traps, archers, and mages.
Depending on how attached the player feels to their favorite origin, it can be a little disappointing that after the hour-long prologue, each of the six playable origin stories converge at Ostagar, and you don't get many unique quests or story content apart from some flavored dialogue. It doesn't help that the devs were originally going to have more unique origin-specific content in the base game (such as the antagonist from their origin story becoming Loghain's right hand, like Rendon Howe from the Human Noble Origin) but found it too difficult and costly to implement and scrapped it. As Zero Punctuation puts it:
Zero Punctuation: You get one of six unique starting levels, depending on what sort of character you roll. So you've got six entire games in one... in theory. Realistically, you'll probably just play through once, then play the opening mission five times, because after that it's pretty much the same except for the occasional bit dialogue. For example, I was an elf, and every now and again characters would say, "HELLO! YOU ARE AN ELF!"
The City Elf arguably has as much reason to hold a personal grudge against Rendon Howe and Teyrn Loghain since the two purged their alienage and sold their people into slavery. Yet, unlike the Human Noble Warden, when the City Elf confronts Rendon Howe at his estate and meets his son Nathaniel Howe in Awakening, Warden Tabris can never bring this up and their quarrel with Rendon Howe is treated as any other non-HN Warden who has no personal grudge against him.
Sten unfortunately is the only humanoid character that has only one specialization slot and doesn't have anything to make up for it. While Shale and Dog dont have any specialization slots, the fact that Dog can utilize some exclusive abilities and Shale being able to adapt to any role on the fly makes them usable in certain situations. Sten is often left behind at camp once hes maxed out on approval rating and Oghren joins the party.
Two-handed weapon style is pretty much this, at least in comparison to two other options. While the game tries to mitigate the fact that you can't get bonuses from both weapons or shield by making two-handed gear more powerful, it's still hardly worth it. For starters, most of your skills are stamina-heavy, and the early ones are terribly underpowered in comparison note powerful swings give you bonus to damage... at the cost of attack/accuracy, meaning you have hard time actually hitting anything. Oh, and most 2h weapons have higher strength requirement, which means you'll be putting most of your points there, leaving you behind in dexterity/constitution department. Which in turn makes you extremely squishy, which - combined with slow attack speed - turns you intoGlass Cannon. One that couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, due to low dexterity. While you could make a decent build for two-handed warrior, it requires setup and support from rest of your team, which is hardly worth the effort. The other factor for the two-handed AI companions is a healthy dose of Artificial Stupidity; playing a two-handed warrior properly requires carefully timing abilities in between swings, which the AI is just terrible at, leading to 2h's biggest strength, its burst damage, being almost completely negated. The style does still have its fans for a Warden character; its main claim to fame is Indomitable, which makes the user immune to most forms of Crowd Control, and the aforementioned burst damage potential (especially using Sunder Arms and Sunder Armor) is among the highest in the game.
Oh, and Sten is designated a two-handed fighter. It's pretty much a scrappy twofer for him.
The Duelist, Ranger, and Shapeshifter specializations are widely considered to be lackluster, the latter especially so since it involves sacrificing a mage, one of the most powerful sources of damage and Crowd Control in the game, for a mediocre melee unit maybe a third as useful as a proper warrior. Duelist, meanwhile, has very limited benefits (you get some extra attack and defense, and guaranteed critical strikes... only in melee... every three minutes), and Ranger's utility is similarly limited compared to the powerhouse specs of the Bard and Assassin, which have better synergy (due to both relying on Cunning) and more powerful bonuses. Warriors avoid this trope for the most part; however, Templar has a bad case of Magikarp Power because its main claim to fame, Holy Smite, is a devastating ranged Area of Effect stun, but can't be acquired until level 15.
Tough Act to Follow: As stated under First Installment Wins, Origins set the bar very high in terms of story, gameplay, player agency, and overall world building. (To the point that the second game was initially panned for its rushed nature, human-only protagonist, recycled environments and heavily borrowed Mass Effect elements, and Inquisition has become increasingly criticized over time for giving the player less agency, lackluster side quests, a very conventional story and divisive worldbuilding revelations.) It doesn't help that the developers weren't sure whether Origins would be successful enough to launch a franchise and thus gave the player way more roleplay freedom and world-impacting choices in case this was the final game, which set a precedent that future games couldn't live up to.
Nugs. They're a cross between rabbits, pigs, and baby aardvarks, but they're cute enough that Leliana is enchanted by them.
Also, Deepstalkers. They may be ravenous lamprey-mouthed monstrosities, but those little "meep" sounds they make when you hit them are so cute it makes you almost feel bad for wiping out their nests. Unless you get a good look at their faces, which is hard, as they're small.
When mages activate combat magic with a certain talent equipped (the top tier talent for arcane warriors, meaning one you will use later), the eyes and mouth are visible from the back of their head.
The mouth movements, expressions and body language during ordinary conversation are, generally speaking, quite good, but during Leliana's song (her actual song, not the DLC of the same name), her mouth moves the same as when she talks normally. Hearing this rather ethereal voice (which, while beautiful, is quite unsettling in its own right) coming from mouth movements and body language which don't match it at all can kill the mood somewhat.
Try talking to Wynne while carrying any weapon that glows. Her face turns white as the clouds and her eyes become a terrifying black.
Cats are somewhat rare in the game, but on the occasions that the game shows you a cat up close, there's something a bit... off about their model. In one particularly nightmarish instance, Anders' adopted cat, Ser Pounce-a-lot, meows, and opens his mouth in a way that looks vaguely terrifying.
It is possible to stalemate the game during "A Paragon of Her Kind" by completing both "A Prince's Favor: The First Task" and "A Lord's Trust: The First Task," followed by "Shifting Allegiances" and "Betrayed from Within." After betraying both candidates for Orzammar's throne, neither trusts you, and it is impossible to continue either's quest line.
You can also grind the game to a halt by killing the Grand Oak and destroying all of the werewolf pelts you can get, leaving you no way to get an enchanted pelt from the Hermit and thus prevent "Nature of the Beast" from being complete.
Lily, in the Mage origin. Poor girl tries to follow her heart and ends up in the worst prison in the world for it — and she asks to go even if the (future) Warden tries to speak up for her, because that's what she thinks she deserves. Made even worse by a brief mention in Inquisition, which states that Aeonar was found completely abandoned...
Ruck, a young dwarf who's gone mad due to living off of spiders and surviving by tainting himself. He never wants to see his mother again because he's ashamed of himself, and he's desperate for attention from the female Warden out of loneliness.
A Human Noble's entire family except their brother (but including their nephew, who was only a child, and sister-in-law) is betrayed and slaughtered by a corrupt noble who had previously been a close ally and a friend to their father who fought alongside him in the previous war. Lastly, they are forced to abandon their barely surviving mother and father, who insist on staying behind to can buy their younger child time to escape.
A City Elf is living in a downtrodden ghetto when they or their bride is kidnapped for a Bann's rape party on their wedding day and in fighting to save themself/the bride have spurred the nobles to order a "purge" on their neighborhood. Their home gets locked for the majority of the game, and when they do get to return, several elves, including their father, have been kidnapped and are about to be sold into slavery. Or in some cases, like the elder, already have been.
The Dalish Elf loses their best friend while exploring and aren't allowed to look for him, being told it's hopeless as they were found horribly sick, and are drafted into the Wardens whether they like it or not to cure them. They do find that friend eventually: he's a darkspawn, who gives the Warden either a heartstring-tugging apology for the way things turned out or an Anguished Declaration of Love if they are female and took certain dialogue options, before they have to kill him. Furthermore, they are an orphan whose father was murdered by a group of humans and city elves and whose mother gave them up to Ashalle before leaving the clan in grief over her husband's death.
The Dwarf Commoner's family is so low in the social hierarchy, they're below the ladder; the future Warden is a Punch-Clock Villain for a mob boss to support the family, and their sister is forced to be essentially a prostitute. As added suck, their parents consist of a Disappeared Dad and an alcoholic mother who constantly berates them and only cares about where her next drink is coming from.
A Dwarf Noble ends up with nothing after they are either manipulated into or framed for murdering their older brother by their younger brother, and are left to die in the Deep Roads as punishment. When they return home, it's only to discover that their father has died while they were away from the grief of sending them to die.
The Mage has it the easiest, and their life story is no walk in the park: he or she was taken away from their family as a kid (never to see them again), upon graduating from apprenticehood is lied to and betrayed by their best friend and left behind to certain death or Tranquility by said friend after everything falls apart. Once they leave, their home is destroyed and almost everyone they know killed or turned into an abomination.
Accidental Innuendo: Female player characters who romance him and max out approval get to enjoy his "Massive Constitution"... meaning his approval-based Constitution buff makes him even more stalwart in battle. What did you think it meant, you perv?
Adorkable: As Leliana comments in party banter, his sense of humour, coupled with his awkwardness and nervousness around women, makes him strangely endearing and is a large part of his charm.
Base-Breaking Character: Alistair has a small but notable hatedom which is divided in its motivation; part of it comes from backdraft from his Mr. Fanservice status from people who aren't ardent shippers. Most of it comes from perceived Wangst about Duncan and the other Grey Wardens dying, but the rest is generally due to his insistence on leaving the Grey Wardens if you recruit Loghain. Immature tantrum-thrower who deserts while the country is on the brink of destruction because he refuses to set aside personal and irrational hatreds for the greater good, or rightfully angry and heretofore-stalwart companion who has reasonable objections to working with a slaver and torturer who framed him for regicide and tried to kill two father-figures in a row?
Lawful Good: No matter how much he personally disapproves of the The Warden's actions, he will follow them to the ends of the earth because they need to work together to save Fereldan from the Blight. The only thing that will make him desert you is sparing Loghain at the Landsmeet.
Memetic Mutation: He is the Butt-Monkey of the party and his liking of cheese has been built up to ridiculous levels - despite him only mentioning cheese perhaps three times within the game. The lead writer thinks the fans have kind of run away with the cheese jokes. The writers have, however, made "swooping" an Ascended Meme.
Wangst: Alistair has this reputation with some of the fanbase. If anything, he discusses and defies the trope. He is conscious of how it appears to those around him, tries not to wallow in self-pity, and at least makes the attempt to lighten up with a joke. It's also worth noting that most of his Angst is in regards to the death of his father-figure and all of his friends (things that tend to make most people faaaairly depressed).
He started off as an unloved and unwanted orphan who was unwillingly made a Templar to get him out of sight. When he finds himself with the Wardens, he's finally happy. A few months after he joins, they die and the fate of the world rests on his and a complete stranger's shoulders.
In addition to this, he can find some measure of happiness again in his possible friendship or relationship with the Warden... and depending on what choices the Warden makes, even this happiness can be taken away from him and he can be forced to make some incredibly difficult choices. By the time Inquisition and The Silent Grove take place, it's implied that whatever your choices, Alistair is, by and large, not a happy man.
Awesome Music: When Leliana sings for you and the rest of the camp. You'll know it when you see it.
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Leliana's musical number, pretty though it is, has only the pretext of having visited a Dalish camp, and the Warden can't mention it after.
Les Yay: Leliana teasing Morrigan about how good low-cut dresses would look on her. Her romance with the Warden and DLC confirms that race and sex is a trivial matter that doesn't bother her.
The Woobie: As indicated in the Leliana's Song DLC. A professional spy and sometime-assassin, she was framed by her superior/lover Marjolaine as a traitor to Orlais when she discovered documents proving that Marjolaine was a traitor. Captured by guards, she was tortured and possibly raped, but managed to escape to Ferelden, where she became a lay sister out of desperation and fright. It turns out that the paranoid Marjolaine had her watched after that, convinced that Leliana intended to take her revenge with a plot spanning years.
Alternative Character Interpretation: He's either an unforgivable traitor who deserves to die or a misguided and ultimately tragic figure. He was clearly plotting treason during the lead-up to the battle at Ostagar, but the consequences were drastically out of proportion to his original plans. It's also possible he didn't realize that his plan to take over as ruler of the country in order to protect it would have the results it did. He shows contempt for some of the actions his followers take, such as Howe hiring an assassin to deal with the main characters.
Many fights are had over whether Loghain should be recruited into the Grey Wardens. People argue about whether or not what he did was justified as well.
As of Dragon Age: Inquisition, he's even one in-universe, with Solas lampshading the fandom debates in an early conversation about Ostagar, where he lays out the common arguments from both sides about Loghain's actions there, and notably doesn't come down on either. He also claims that according to the reproduction in the fade, which is a recreation based on the emotional impressions left by the participants, both versions are true.
Alternative Character Interpretation: There's a strong case to be made that one of the things that sets Morrigan apart from the rest of the party is that she is the only innocent - even the Warden has more life experience than Morrigan, who is only just now experiencing life without her mother's direct influence. This is subtly lampshaded (if such can be possible) by comparing her interactions with the more straightforward members of the party with her romance with the Warden, and the ending to Witch Hunt: for a character who regularly gets the last word in arguments with everyone else, it's surprising how often the Warden leaves her utterly speechless and confused. It's also implied that Morrigan and Flemeth do care for each other, just not as much as they do for themselves. She's also significantly less cavalier about killing than Alistair (who jokes about it), and doesn't try to excuse it the way Leliana does, despite Leliana being a trained assassin.
Jerkass Woobie: Morrigan can be extremely petty, cruel, and vindictive, not to mention she's basically the Thedas-equivalent of The Social Darwinist. However, growing up with no one but Flemeth for company would be enough to make her a candidate for Woobiedom alone. The results of her personal quest ( that Flemeth intended to possess her body against Morrigan's will) reaffirms this several times over - and, if romanced, she might as well have it tattooed on her forehead.
Angst? What Angst?: He'll steadfastly refuse to acknowledge any pain regarding his wife or his home, but if you befriend him, he'll gradually reveal that he misses Orzammar and is hurting. Massively averted if brought along on the Gauntlet in the Temple of Sacred Ashes. The Guardian barely has to prod him at all before he just spills out all his emotional baggage about Branka and his disgrace from his caste.
The Woobie: Take him along to the Gauntlet when looking for the Urn of Sacred Ashes. His answer to the guardian should be proof enough of this trope.
Ensemble Dark Horse: A DLC companion who was actually removed from the base game (due to a lack of time to finish her content), but has proven to be one of the most popular and beloved characters for her hilarious dialogue, unique gameplay mechanics, and many memorable moments.
It Was His Sled: Shale's former identity as a dwarven woman is quite well known at this point, as several sources tend to struggle keeping even her pronouns consistent.
The Un-Twist: The reveal that she was a dwarf woman before she was a golem (and Shale's own surprise at this) is the first clue that Shale being female wasn't supposed to be obvious. Of course, it's heavily implied that it was only a surprise to her.
Base-Breaking Character: Some resent her for any or all of the following: trying to tell you how to do your job, despite not being entirely aware of what it entails and going off the Knight in Shining Armor versions in the stories; her lecture about the Warden's Love Interest, where she either accuses them of being a Hormone-Addled Teenager (Morrigan or Zevran) or being foolish and selfish (Alistair or Leliana) without fully knowing the details of the relationship (though to Wynne's credit, she does apologize and admit she was completely wrong, and even takes some Shipper on Deck tendencies toward it afterward); her tendency to try and be everyone's therapist whether they want it or not; her taking credit for getting the party out of the Fade even though she succumbed to it when at least one other, potentially untrained, person didn't; and her hypocrisy in trying to get every mage she meets (including the Mage Warden) to go back to the Circle yet refusing to do so herself. On the flip side, quite a few fans love her for being a Cool Old Lady who is thoughtful, kind, and compassionate, if stern. The fact that she's one of the most unambiguously good (along with Alistair) party members also helps, as does the mother-son sort of bond she and Alistair can develop if they're frequently in the active party together. Many also enjoy how different Wynne is from the other companions, even in the sequels, and believe that she provided an interesting perspective on the Warden's journey.
Lawful Good: She's Circle Mage who strongly believes in both good and justice and also holds that the rules and laws of both the Circle Tower and the Chantry are necessary to control the dangerous power of mages.
Angst? What Angst?: He has a pretty dark past, but he takes everything in stride and apparently lives for the day. Arguably a subversion, however, in that deliberate levity may be his way of dealing with that past.
The tidbits you find in the Return to Ostagar DLC reveal that Cailan was far more politically savvy than virtually anyone thought. His bravado and seemingly nonchalant attitude may well have been a front.
Wynne supports this, if you talk to her in camp and mention how foolishly upbeat and overconfident Cailan seems. She basically says it's the king's job to act like it's all going swimmingly and there's nothing to worry about, so that the rest of the army will feel as confident as he seems.
His idealism about the battle could be seen as a variety of well-meaning Obfuscating Stupidity. His actual idealism is more clearly displayed in his belief that the differences between Ferelden and Orlais can be put in the past so easily, and that the two nations can be allies and friends barely a generation after one was driven out of the other after a long, brutal occupation.
Arl Eamon's letter to him implies that he didn't like the idea of dumping Anora, and it took almost a year for him to come around. It's unclear how many of those ideas were his.
Rumor is that it was Cailan and not Anora who was sterile, since he was going behind her back with other women and yet still never fathered any children.
The fact that he specifically requested that Alistair be one of the two to light the signal fire indicates that he wanted him kept out of the fighting. This suggests that Cailan knew exactly who Alistair was to him, wanted him protected in case he himself fell in battle (so the throne could go to a descendant of Calenhad), and may even have had some kind of fondness for his little half-brother.
Some see her as a strong queen determined to maintain her throne who was unwilling to believe that Loghain was truly evil because he's her father, and that she is ultimately determined to do what's best for Ferelden; she joins the Grey Warden on her own initiative, and her doubt in Alistair's ability to be a good king is quite frankly justified, what with him being illegitimate, having no previously demonstrated leadership skills, and not even wanting the throne in the first place. Support her and let her father find redemption, and she's even willing to marry a male human noble Grey Warden.
On the other hand, reject her and watch her abandon you at the Landsmeet and switch back to supporting her father, even at the exact moment that doing so would only risk prolonging Ferelden's civil war and losing support of the armies the Warden has personally gathered. Anora wants what's best for Ferelden so long as that still includes her being in power and no danger to herself. So where do her loyalties ultimately lie: the people of Ferelden, or herself?
Her governing toward elves. In the City Elf Origin, a human noble fully expects to get away with kidnapping and gang-rape because his targets are elves, which happens under Anora and Cailan's watch, which sure says something unflattering about her governing style. If Anora is crowned queen alone, unmarried to either Alistair or Male Cousland, then this is the only time an epilogue slide reveals that elves eventually riot due to food shortages, which Anora harshly puts down with a purge. Some think Anora is a good ruler apart from this racial blind spot, while others see it as another reflection of her poor governing and priorities.
Angst? What Angst?: If you execute Loghain, she will quickly recover from seeing her father's decapitated corpse and having his blood splattered over her after a moment of shock. She can even have a friendly conversation with his killer in the epilogue if the player was the one who did it.
Base-Breaking Character: Some see Anora as having legitimate cause for throwing you under the bus with Cauthrien, but some players don't buy that for a multitude of reasons. Even more contentious is her outright betrayal of you at the Landsmeet if you do not support her bid. Some people think it is a reflection of a strong and cunning queen, some people see it as an avarice-filled grab for power by any means necessary.
Narm: Her Rousing Speech. In contrast to Alistair's more steady diction, the voice actress doesn't deliver with as much strength.
He appears to be a standard Reasonable Authority Figure, but it's also fairly clear that he wants Alistair on the throne so he can have strong influence over a ruler. The Return to Ostagar DLC reveals that he was pushing Cailan to dump his wife due to his fears that Anora is barren.
His push for Alistair, a Grey Warden infamously known for their low fertility and also low life span, make it look like he's setting himself up for the position of King.
His role in Alistair's upbringing is also a lot less rosy than Alistair paints it, if you think about it. Hidden from his mother's family and sleeping in a stable with the dogs, until finally thrown out of even that? And now that Alistair is suddenly useful, he expects him to obey without question?
It looks particularly bad in the vanilla game, which makes it appear that he or his retainers outright lied to an orphaned Goldanna that her little brother was dead and then sent her away to fend for herself. However, given what other canonical sources have revealed regarding Alistair's actual mother, it appears that they were probably telling the truth about that child.
There's also his reaction if the Warden manages to persuade Alistair and Anora to marry. The Warden can point out that he doesn't seem pleased, to which he will say he's simply shocked that the Warden was able to do it. While he might be telling the truth about that, it also seems possible that he doesn't like the idea of someone else having a stronger position of authority and influence over Alistair than he himself will. On the other hand, if the Warden becomes Alistair's chancellor or, in the case of the Female Noble, his Queen, Eamon accepts it without comment and simply says at the coronation that since he won't be needed, he's heading back to Redcliffe. So it's possible that he just has some kind of strong objection to Anora, which does line up with Loghain's comments to that effect if he's spared and recruited.
Arl Gallagher Wulff
The Woobie: Not only did the guy lose his entire Arling to the Darkspawn, but tavern chatter amongst the other nobles reveals that both of his sons were killed during the evacuation of the West Hills.
Fanon: Due to his aforementioned flirtatious lines with a Female Warden (of any race or class), and a cut line for the 2 second game implying that he fell in love with the Female Warden but never had the courage to confess his feelings, it's near generally agreed that Teagan developed at least some romantic feelings for the Female Warden, whether she flirts or not.
The Scrappy: Isolde is almost universally disliked by the fandom for her responsibility-dodging, her tendency to shriek every other word, and the fact that she not only plays a large role in what happened to Redcliffe, but is never truly sorry for her mistakes. Her weird tendency to be a Clingy Jealous Girl with Teagan, who is her brother-in-law, doesn't endear her to anyone either. The fact that she's also something of a Karma Houdini doesn't help, nor does her honorary Wicked Stepmother status in Alistair's backstory.
Take That, Scrappy!: One of the options for resolving the Redcliffe plot is using her as a source of mana to enter the Fade, which kills her. The downside is that Alistair won't take it well, but that can easily be fixed either with mods or certain dialogue choices that will decrease his disapproval points.
What an Idiot!: One stupid decision after another makes her half-responsible for the problems in Redcliffe.
Base-Breaking Character: Duncan is very committed to doing what he believes needs to be done, morals be damned. The fact that he conscripts the Warden if they don't go willingly and kills Jory for trying to back out of the Joining makes him a rather hotly debated character. Indeed, RP-inclined players doing multiple run-throughs with different Wardens tend to find that the line between a Duncan-worshiping Warden and one who curses his name is quite thin.
Though, since Duncan has yet to return up to the end of Trespasser, fourteen years after he started getting dreams that signal the beginning of his Calling, there should be little doubt that he's long dead.
In the sequel, if the imported save is one with a Dalish Warden, Merrill mentions Duncan and his beard. She'd never seen human facial hair before and at first was under the impression that a squirrel was attacking his face.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Between him and Harrowmont, he's the more popular choice for a king, even among Dwarf Noble players. This is in part because the epilogues and Inquisition show him as a very good ruler, unlike Harrowmont, and he's actually grateful to the Warden, also unlike Harrowmont. He's also a loving husband to his casteless wife Rica, who is herself a bit of a fan favorite due to being the lovingolder sister of the Dwarf Commoner Warden.
Vindicated by History: When the game first released, it was common for players to despise him due to his ruthlessness and backstabbing, with even those who crowned him feeling like they had to "hold their nose" and do it. However, with the epilogues and Inquisition revealing he's a far better ruler than Harrowmont, helps Orzammar prosper while Harrowmont causes it to flounder, and Bhelen actually being grateful to the Warden while Harrowmont is not, Bhelen is now far and away the most popular choice.
Alternative Character Interpretation: Either a leader who upholds the law and provides the stability the dwarves need, or a weak leader who is bound by outdated and unjust traditions.
Memetic Loser: After Inquisition hammered home just how ineffective of a king he really is, people have taken to mockingly calling him "Failmont".
What an Idiot!: Was there a single decision Jowan made in this game that didn't end in an eternally escalating series of disasters? Of course, without well-meaning miscalculations, and unintended consequences spiraling spectacularly out of control, the game would have been much shorter. See also: Loghain Mac Tir.
The Woobie: His storyline, involving him trying to escape, becoming an apostate, losing his love, cheated and becoming awfully deluded in his actions whilst trying to atone, resulting in either his death (if the PC kills him or insists on his execution), his imprisonment (given back to the Circle, which is presumably this), or a life of exile (if the PC sets him free), is short but nevertheless rather sad. Giving him to the Circle is arguably worse than execution; it's highly likely the Circle will make him into a Tranquil as punishment for his crimes and to prevent from using Blood Magic again. The threat of undergoing the Rite of Tranquility was what made him seek to escape the Circle in the first place.
Adorkable: Nervously runs for the hills if the female mage PC suggests getting to "know" each other.
Sacred Cow: Let's just say there are fans who see them as this, and just leave it at that.