Posts Tagged 'meta'

Dragon Age doesn’t know what century it’s in




So, what I think I miss most about Dragon Age: Origins is the way it felt consistently medieval.  Not completely, they brought in things from a lot of different cultures, and in fact, even managed to make up some of their own, but it was all woven into this framework of a series of different civilizations where the cultural fabric in all communities was membership to the same religion.  You had your outliers, to be certain–your pagan Dalish, your isolated dwarves, your foreign Qunari, but if you were part of what the Chantry would deem “civilization,” you probably went to your Chantry on a regular basis, even if you didn’t believe what they taught, because that’s where you got your news.  They even reinforce this mechanically with the Chanters’ boards.  (Something that notably disappears in Inquisition, when they really move away from this idea.)

In other words, it looks a lot like the actual Middle Ages, a lot more than “medieval fantasy” normally does, because it actually recognizes the role of religion as a keeper and transmitter of consistent culture.  More amazingly, its analog of the Roman Catholic Church isn’t automatically demonized… in a 21st century video game.  I was gobsmacked.  Sure, they definitely were much more of the “we must do this this and this to get the Maker to love us,” but that’s about what I expect from a religion that doesn’t teach that its slain founder was resurrected.

And even then, we get people like Leliana, who, despite all evidence to the contrary, believe the Maker is still working and still loving people.  (“Cool,” I immediately think.  "When this is over, can I have Leliana start a Reformation?“)

The problem is, in subsequent games Bioware started playing around a lot more with different cultures in space and time, which is completely fine.  But in later games, they didn’t make the same efforts to fit them in together with everything else.  Which is why I say Dragon Age doesn’t know what century it’s in.

So I finish Origins completely in love with Thedas and its culture.  It feels like a fully realized world, and if it draws heavily from fantasy tropes, that’s perfectly fine.  They’re still putting their own twist on them.

Then I start playing 2, and I run into this guy:

Keep reading

The fact that the masses are not illiterate has always puzzled me a little too. In Origins I assumed they were–I could see nobles being educated, but every one else? I mean, I think it’s made pretty evident in the first game that the education Alistair receives as part of templar training or the education that a mage receives are not the standard that every citizen of Ferelden can expect. Even Leliana kind of justifies her education when she talks about being raised by Lady Cecilie. And then along comes Dragon Age 2, and, no, apparently everyone but Fenris can read.

I really love your hypothetical situation with Varric. It’s 9/10s of the way to actually being a fic. It wants to be a fic. I want it to be a fic. It’s a beautiful explanation of how to reconcile the existence of fiction in Thedas.

Oh, this is fascinating and so clever.

So Varric blurs the lines, but rather than in the sublime way that you expect from high fantasy, it’s very mundane.  It almost invites skepticism, rather than wonder […] the cynical, bitter darkness of 2 is so different from the bleak, elegaic darkness of Origins and Trespasser.  It feels almost painfully modern.  (And I’m still not really sure how “dark” vanilla Inquisition ever got, when the worst things that happened were either inside your own head thanks to a demon or got erased thanks to, “magical time travel, go with it.”)

Yes. That is exactly why DA2 didn’t work that well for me, and I’m so glad someone put it better than I could have. I enjoy things like Hard in Hightown and the genre-blending metacommentary – they’re a major part of my love for Dragon Age – but you’ve got to play to some of the rules to bend them. (I actually love the “reading peasantry” thing and find it a welcome change, but it’s certainly not historically accurate.) DA plays with things like the nature of mythology, grand themes…. the human characters work because they’re placed against such an epic, unknowable background.

And the theory of how novels got off the ground is fantastic.



DAMN–the Dragon Age Meta Nexus

Ever wish that people tagged consistently?  That there was one place to find all the great meta and lore posts that have wandered across your dash and then been lost to the ether?  Well actually there is, thanks to @penbrydd.  Theory, character meta, lore–when we find it, he DAMNs it.

And if you’re so inclined, it’s easy and free to join, after which, should you find something DAMNable, you can archive it yourself, using tags that will actually allow you to find it later when you want it.

Basically, I don’t post lore and meta on @dawriting because I don’t need to–it’s already DAMNed.






(Warning: Contains spoilers for DA:I and Trespasser.)

Seriously, though…why do all these prestigious Tevinter families consistently seem to have just a single blood heir? Both Felix and Dorian are only sons and heirs of their fathers, and other noble-blooded Tevinter characters such as Maevaris Tilani and Livius Erimond also appear to be only children from what little we know about them.

In a society where bloodlines mean everything and Altus children are forced to memorize their family genealogies, where assassinations are so ubiquitous that a dinner party’s practically a dull affair without one, you’d think parents would take especial care to safeguard their bloodlines with as many children as they could manage.

I could see maybe in the case of arranged marriages – such as Halward Pavus and his wife Aquinea, who according to Dorian can’t stand one another – sharing a bed for long enough to produce a single child might be all they could stomach. But that doesn’t explain Alexius, who genuinely loved his wife before her untimely death. (WoT Vol. 2 describes Livia Arida as his “longtime sweetheart and fellow researcher.” That’s right, Alexius and his wife were mage nerds who married for love instead of ambition. D’awww.)

The only logical explanation I can find points to the Tevinter tradition of naming apprentices as heirs instead of one’s blood progeny. This seems to be fairly commonplace with Archons specifically: “Archons usually inherit their titles; they are the sons, nephews, brothers, cousins, or apprentices of previous Archons.” (WoT Vol. 1 p76)

Most notably, Archon Almadrius once started a bloody civil war when his Laetan apprentice, Tidarion, succeeded him as Archon and the Altus magisters refused to recognize his legitimacy. (WoT Vol. 2 p38)

I wonder, though, if these “apprentice heirs” aren’t a common practice among magisters and noble families, as well – perhaps even something akin to the ancient Roman tradition of “adopting” sons among the upper class. Roman “adoption” wasn’t the adoption we think of today; it was a way for noble families without sons to ensure that their names were carried on into the next generation, and a way for families with too many sons to be spared the expense of raising a dozen children.

Although Tevinter magisters don’t appear to actually “adopt” their apprentices from what we know of DA canon, there’s evidence to suggest that they might serve as heirs or at least protégés in the absence of a suitable blood heir.

Here’s a passage from the WoT Vol. 2 (pages 250-251) about Alexius and his wife Livia Arida:

Their only son, Felix, was born a few years later, and while the child displayed a little magical ability, it quickly became clear that Felix Alexius would never be much of a mage. Even with all his parents’ tutoring, he could cast simple spells only with immense effort. Gereon’s father, concerned that his future heir was, he said, “just barely more than a Soporati,” tried to have his own grandson assassinated. His gambit was effortlessly countered by Lady Livia, who then had her father-in-law killed, making Gereon head of House Alexius and safeguarding her son.

Gereon doted on his son. Since Felix could not learn much in the way of spells, Gereon brought in tutors to teach him history, music, literature – anything that the boy could study was offered to him on a silver platter. When Felix’s interests and talents turned out to be mathematical, his proud parents sent him to the University of Orlais to work with the best mathematicians in Thedas.

Since their son could not be part of their research, Alexius and Livia brought in apprentices. Livia took half a dozen of the most promising young scholars of the Fade and the Veil from across Tevinter under her wing, but Gereon chose only one: an exceptionally gifted student of thaumaturgy from the Minrathous Circle by the name of Dorian Pavus.

For the next few years, Alexius and Dorian worked on breaking the boundaries of magic itself, while his wife and her team of apprentices sought to determine the effects of such magic on the Veil.

First of all…can we all take a moment to appreciate Alexius’ badass late wife? Livia found out her own father-in-law wanted to get rid of the “embarrassment” of her magically challenged son and fucking murdered him. Mama Livia don’t play around. Alexius’ reaction to his father’s death isn’t mentioned, but I like to imagine the conversation went something like this:

Livia: Amatus?
Gereon: Yes, love?
Livia: You know how your dickhead old man wants our son dead?
Gereon: Oh yeah…I’ve been meaning to talk to him about that.
Livia: Yeah, I killed him. He’s dead.
Gereon: Oh…well, good, then. Thanks, sweetie.

And can we take a second moment to appreciate that Felix was a fucking mathematician at the University of Orlais? Am I the only one who finds that incredibly sexy?

Anyway. I digress.

We see in this passage that even though Felix remained his parents’ heir apparent, Alexius and his wife took on apprentices to serve the role their son would ordinarily serve, had he been born a more gifted mage. Dorian further confirms the idea of apprentices as their mentors’ trustees in his dialogue with the Inquisitor in DA:I Trespasser:

Inquisitor: What did you do in Tevinter while you were away?
Dorian: I went home…twice. Father was only there once. Mother was drunk both times. I also went to Qarinus, to see my good friend Maevaris. Then I settled some of Alexius’ affairs. That wasn’t fun.

With Felix dead and Alexius either dead with him or condemned and stripped of his titles, his apprentice Dorian was the one tasked with settling Alexius’ legal affairs. It’s not discussed whether Dorian actually inherited any status or holdings from Alexius, but I like to imagine that he did.

Dorian talks about heirs yet again in Trespasser during the conversation about his own father’s death:

Dorian: I received notice this morning: a perversely cheerful letter congratulating me on assuming his seat in the Magisterium. We only met a few times while I was home. He didn’t say anything about keeping me as his heir.

The way he says that Halward “didn’t say anything about keeping me as his heir” suggests that Halward had others he might have appointed as his heir in Dorian’s place. Since Dorian is an only child, it’s fair to presume that he might be referring to Halward’s apprentices – or perhaps he simply meant cousins or nephews who belong to the Pavus bloodline. It’s hard to know for certain.

In any case, it’s something interesting for us to ponder about Tevinter culture and the significance of the mentor/apprentice relationship among mages both academically and socially.


@mirabai0821 *INTENSE NERD SOUNDS* this is amazing. I am so happy they mentioned Roman “adoption”, my brain immediately went there. Also holy fuck Livia Gereon is my hero and also damnit I’ll never be able to execute Alexius ever again bc he’s a gd cinnamon roll driven to excessive measures out of love and desperation. Aaaaagh.

I’ve been trying to figure out how I think things work in the Marches too bc Mira is the Bann’s only surviving heir but she probably hasn’t been home in close to 7-8 years.

@lustfulpasiphae knew you’d like this

The Nature of the Blight


I just wrote this up for someone in my inbox: it’s the most thorough description of What We Know About The Blight that I’ve done in a while, so here are the important bits without any of the personal, private-reply stuff:

1. The Blight acts exactly like magic.

  • During Broken Circle,
    certain party members (Morrigan and… Alistair? I think?) will comment
    that the squishy organic ooze in the higher levels looks remarkably
    like the Blight.
  • The Origins codex entry for lyrium
    tells us that ‘Mages [who take too much lyrium] have additionally been
    known to suffer physical mutation: The magister lords of the Tevinter
    Imperium were widely reputed to have been so affected by their years of
    lyrium use that they could not be recognized by their own kin, nor even
    as creatures that had once been human‘.
  • The Taint can be used to
    cast spells, which is how genlock emissaries exist and also why
    Corypheus gets twice as much power from red lyrium as from normal
  • With normal magic, you get blue lyrium. With Taint magic, you get… red lyrium.

2. It’s probably somehow connected to the Void.

  • ‘Yet
    even a god should not linger there, and each time she entered the Void,
    Andruil suffered longer and longer periods of madness after returning.
    Andruil put on armor made of the Void, and all forgot her true face. She
    made weapons of darkness, and plague ate her lands.’ (Here)
  • ‘[…]
    the Empty Ones grew to believe that the Blight was to be the tool by
    which the Maker would end all of creation. They preached that it came
    from the Void, a place of nothing,’ (Here) (That’d better not be a hint that Solas is going to start another Blight in DA4…)

3. The cure for it is probably having been possessed by a spirit.

Note the wording, because it’s important: the cure is not being possessed, but having been
so. Anders still has the Taint because Justice is still with him*, but
Fiona – who became possessed in The Calling and was saved in the same
way as Connor can be – does not. This would also explain why Seekers
seem to be immune to it; they’re possessed too, but only very briefly.
And Leliana’s Blight resistance
is probably from a similar source: I think her ‘vision’ may have
involved being temporarily possessed. (A reminder here, as well, that if
you get the Circle to cure Connor then Irving makes a vague reference
to subjects of the cure being somehow ‘forever changed’. Considering the
Seekers have undergone a very similar experience, and also that Connor
can be found in Redcliffe Castle in the Dark Future when Alexius is
experimenting on Blight-resistant people, I think this may be what
Irving is referring to.)

Avvar mages are probably all immune to the Taint, as are cured Tranquil (see: Seekers).

also because Justice was previously in a Warden body, and may have
picked up the Taint and brought it with him into Anders?

from that, and from what Karl says about Anders ‘bringing the Fade into
the world’, I think the cure might actually be being touched by the
Fade, rather than a spirit per se. If Solas destroys the Veil, it’s possible that he would cure every Grey Warden in Thedas as a side-effect…

since it’s now looking very unlikely that the Veil exists outside of
Thedas, the Hero of Ferelden may have cured themself simply by leaving the continent.

4. So to sum up…

we take normal magic to be ‘Fade magic’, i.e. magic that comes from the
Fade, then the Blight/darkspawn magic might be ‘Void magic’, i.e. magic that comes from
the Void. This doesn’t explain how it got into the Black City (my guess is eluvians) or why
the Blights are a thing (my guess is Veil + something to do with
dragons: ‘the blood of dragons is the blood of the world’, etc), or
indeed what the heck darkspawn even are, but I believe this is a solid foundation in what it is. And from there, eventually, we might get to the rest of the answers.


Less like breaking the fourth wall and more like bouncing a ball off it a couple of times.

Blogger Gatherings!

Click the button for reports from the 2010 Spring Blogger Gathering, hosted by Linett of Nimrodel!

Berethron of Brandywine hosted the 2010 Summer Blogmoot.

The Winter Blogmoot was held on December 4, 9 p.m. EST at the home of Telwen of Silverlode.

Next up: The Spring Blogmoot of 2011 shall return to Nimrodel with Tuiliel (Whart, aka user-1027520) hosting! Linett is looking forward to another local moot!



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