Ardwulf Plays: Dragon Age Origins Episode 7 – Journey to Lothering

In Episode 7 our our Dragon Age: Origins playthrough, we recover from the disaster at Ostagar and decide what our next steps must be. Along the way we find a new companion and new annoyances.

Distressed by the death of Duncan and the massacre of the Grey Wardens, Alastair intuits that we can use the old Warden treaties to gather support to fight both the Darkspawn and the traitor Loghain.

Morrigan’s mother turns out to be the legendary witch, Flemeth. She is able to tell us one theory behind the genesis of the Darkspawn, that archdemons are Old Gods awakened and corrupted. To our surprise Flemeth commands Morrigan to come with us, and we are obliged to agree. I suspect a deeper plot, but whatever Flemeth’s motivations and character, she does appear to be an ally against the Blight, and that’s good enough for me for now. At Morrigan’s suggestion we head to the village of Lothering, North of the Wilds, stopping at the party camp along the way.

In Denerim, the traitor Loghain tries to rally the nation under his command as regent for his daughter, Anora, the dead King Cailan’s wife. The nobles of the Kingdom appear to be unwilling to accept this.

On the road we are set upon by darkspawn, but are aided by the Mabari hound who we assisted at Ostagar, who joins our party. We dispatch them, but encounter some bandits as well, who I intimidate into not collecting their “toll,” but I attack them anyway and we finish them off. We arrive in Lothering shortly thereafter, just in time for Morrigan and Alastair to begin bickering.

DA:O was announced and envisioned as a “spiritual successor” to the hallowed Baldur’s Gate games, but I have to admit that it doesn’t feel like one of that family to me. Some feel otherwise, but I may have a different perspective. Baldur’s Gate was released in 1998, and I had been immersed in the tabletop roleplaying scene for many years by then. I did play PC games of the strategy sort, but Baldur’s Gate looked extraordinarily exciting at the time. For those of us around then and a part of that scene, though, it was intimately linked to D&D itself, an extension of the tabletop game. For me that link to D&D and the Forgotten Realms is as much at the heart of Baldur’s Gate as the story, the mechanics or the PC game genre.

To say that DA:O doesn’t feel like BG doesn’t say anything about DA:O, of course. And while I think I prefer D&D’s mechanical framework to DA’s, I think there’s little doubt that DA:O has a place near the pinnacle of its genre. Its subgenre, anyway — dissecting the changes made to the DA series in later games is going to need to wait until I’ve played those games. I’m particularly curious about Dragon Age: Inquisition, the first post-Skyrim entry in the series.

Stay tuned for episode 8, scheduled for tomorrow!

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