In Episode 2 of our Dragon Age: Origins playthrough, I continue the opening Mage storyline.
Having passed through the Harrowing, I have attained the rank of full Mage. First Enchanter Irving gives me the robes and staff of my new rank, and introduces me to Duncan, commander of the Grey Wardens of Ferelden. The Wardens are the guardians of mortal civilization against the threat posed by the Darkspawn.
Later, apprentice Jowan, apparently a friend but in fact a complete tool, enlists our help in an asinine scheme to destroy the phylactery that contains his blood — taken from all apprentices so they can be tracked down should they turn rogue. I react exactly how I have reacted every time I have gone through this storyline: I immediately go and tell First Enchanter Irving about this idiotic plan. And as always, he asks me to play along so that Jowan and his girlfriend can be caught in the act.
And so, armed with a rod of fire that I was able to cajole out of a Senior Enchanter who owes me a favor, we break into the secret catacombs of the Circle of Magi in search of Jowan’s phylactery. Some of the guardians are fairly tough, not helped especially by the ineptitude of my companions. But we succeed in breaking into the phylactery chamber and destroying the object we seek.
As expected, Irving and Knight-Commander Greagoir are waiting for us when we emerge. Also as expected, Jowan turns out to be dabbling in the forbidden blood magic he was accused of, which he uses to make his escape. I silently vow to kill the fool if I should encounter him again. Greagoir is enraged and demands a price be paid, but Irving backs me up. Thankfully, Duncan bails me out with an opportunity to join the Grey Wardens instead, and I happily depart from the Circle, thankful to be out from under the thumb of both Enchanters and Templars alike. Duncan and I travel to Ostagar, an ancient fortress about to be assaulted by a Darkspawn horde, where I meet the affable King of Ferelden, busy preparing for the battle.
As is not uncommon in Bioware’s games, Dragon Age: Origins is pretty linear, especially in the beginning. In the mid-game it does open up somewhat and gives you the opportunity to poke around a bit and take things in the order you prefer, and in the late game there’s a lot of different paths depending on the decisions you made earlier. This doesn’t bother me — the rich background gives me plenty to explore and is one of Bioware’s great strengths. I feel similarly about the Mass Effect games.
Stay tuned for Episode 3, coming on Wednesday!