Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Played Lately: Dragon Age: Origins

  • I'm still playing Dragon Age: Origins, amazingly enough. I wouldn't be if I weren't playing on Easy. But I'm not here to complain about that. Once again spoilers lie ahead, this time for those of you who have not experienced the Mage origin.

  • One of the things I've enjoyed about Dragon Age is discovering who my character is. In a prior post, I talked about meeting a game halfway and that's the tack I've taken here. Instead of trying to make decisions around who I think my character is, I'm discovering the type of person she is by the decisions she (yes, of course it's a she) makes.

  • The Mage origin did a great job not so much with the story telling, but by informing me what the life of a mage was like in this world. The first thing you experience is the Harrowing, a trial where a prospective mage is sent to the Fade (don't ask me) to fight a demon on its home territory. Win and you graduate to magehood. Lose and the templars kill you to prevent the demon from possessing your body. This impressed upon me that being a mage was dangerous, both to my character and to those around her.

  • Bioware immediately puts this understanding to a test. When the Harrowing is over, your friend, Jowan, asks you to help him and his lover, an acolyte of the Chantry, to escape from the tower so they can live together. While in another game I might have helped the lovers gain their freedom, my character had other ideas. A mage running free was a danger to everyone, not just because of their destructive potential. My character understood that a rogue mage made the political situation more difficult for mages like herself. So she immediately reported him to the First Enchanter. When Jowan turned out to also be a blood mage (look, I'm not making this up), it only proved my character right.

  • Letting the character take over has opened me up to new possibilities. I'm no longer forcing my character to behave a certain way. She still tries to help the downtrodden like any hero. But whenever the subject of magic comes up, she has a very cold view of those who step out of line.

  • There is a rule of improvisation that says when some one puts an idea forward, you should reply with a "Yes, and...." This allows a scene to build instead of the actors arguing about what is going on. I think we can do this with our video games too. This is what I meant about meeting the game half way. If we take what is offered to us and build on it, we will have a greater experience than if we struggle against it. My experience with Dragon Age has shown me that it can work.

© 2009 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. I like the mage origin, it's fairly lengthy compared to a few of the other origins. I decided to help Jowan, and I didn't like how that ended. So far the Dwarf noble and the city Elf are my two favorite origins.

  2. You have single handedly convinced me that my first character will be a mage whenever I get around to getting this.

  3. Mages are uber in DAO, I think you will have much fun.

  4. @ Jayedub - If I were to play through again, I'm thinking about trying the City Elf. I think it's because there is so little interaction with them in the game. I'm curious to see more.

    @ Yeebo - The mage was quite fun. I ended up playing as a healer, but had enough fun spells to lay on the offense.