I just need someone, somewhere in the narrative, to acknowledge that Dalish society is going to be really fucking complex, okay
I need 200-odd clans united by a few common cultural ties but with widely disparate traditions and opinions on those cultural ties, who know that no two of them are truly the same - how could they not, when they trade members and meet up ten times a century - and who embrace those differences, because none of them have the whole truth but parts of it lurk within all of them, all their strengths and all their weaknesses
I need travelling Keepers who hold their people together with their bare hands, who travel vast distances from clan to clan to bring the news that so-and-so has had a baby or Clan Virnehn is no more, who take on lives of dreadful isolation and constant fear of Templars because you can’t have too many mages in a clan but they are still Keepers, they are still Dalish, they are still needed and valued and they still have so much to offer
I need feuds and alliances that go back to the days of Halamshiral and sometimes even before, because history and tradition are everything, because if you can’t remember the past then what are you, because those bastards traded us 30 infertile halla one spring and we all nearly died, and that shit matters even if it happened in the Towers Age and nobody alive can remember it, not even Zathrian
(And because our two clans were founded by twins, or so they say, who loved one another so dearly that when they fled the Dales and had to go their separate ways, never to see one another again, they cried for ten days and ten nights and swore their descendants would never exchange a cross word, and so we will not, because we are Dalish, and we remember)
I need in-jokes so obscure that you need an atlas and a solid grounding in Dalish history just to understand why a hunter from Clan Suviniel seeing the sea for the first time is remotely funny, much less to understand that five generations ago they tried to take their halla across the Waking Sea and it was such a fiasco that the tale is still told around firesides to entertain the children, and the big children, and all right, sometimes the hahrens too
I need songs about how much your clanmates are irritating you today, about the fall of the Dales, about clans escaping the Dales and irritating one another, all in the same verse
I need Lavellans whose eyes flash fire when they learn what was done to Minaeve, who ask what clan and which Keeper and did they really think nobody would find out, who in their very first letter home write with a hand that shakes in anger I’m fine, Keeper, but let me tell you what Clan Saerim have been doing to their children, who tell Hawen, Lanaya, Mihris, Merrill, anyone and everyone they meet, who get the word out, who create consequences
I need Halamshiral to feel simple, because the steps may be different and the forks may be fancier but at least everyone present believes broadly the same thing about the Maker, Andraste, Orlais itself, and the same can never be said of Dalish clans and Falon’Din, Mythal, Halamshiral, Arlathan
I need Solas and Vivienne and Dorian to arrive in these simple, backwards camps and suddenly find themselves completely out of their depth, because it goes the other way as well, the politicking is familiar but the steps are so different and there are no fancy forks or even frilly cakes, not here, not for a very long time
I need the Dalish to feel like a living, breathing culture, because they are, because they should be, because even a culture obsessed with its past lives in the present and because wherever people go, we make societies around us, and the Dalish are no different, because a people can be proud and silly, stubborn and flexible, open- and close-minded, and a living, breathing, real life people can do these all things at the same time.
- The reason we’ve never heard of them in-game is quite simply that a bunch of mages, travelling alone or in tiny groups, who act as the backbone of Dalish society are really vulnerable to Templars. The Dalish would rather let humans continue believing that exile nonsense than risk the Chantry completely crippling their communications network in a single generation - which it could do, if it tried. Lavellan’s ‘We gave them to other clans, or...’ line is them nearly breaking silence, catching themself, and stopping just in time.
- They carry news between clans - everything from ‘So-and-so has had a baby’ to ‘The Grey Wardens request our help to fight the Blight; the army meets at Redcliffe in four months’. They also ferry clan members between clans, if a swap is taking place, and valuable artefacts between clans, if somebody wants to borrow somebody else’s arulin’holm.
- They act as independent judges during times when a clan’s Keeper is too involved to be neutral, or when there is a dispute between two clans who can’t reach an amicable settlement on their own.
- Some of the braver (or perhaps stupider) ones will venture into alienages periodically to perform marriage, birth and death rites. Needless to say, they’ve been avoiding Kirkwall in recent years.
- Also, you know, sometimes Dalish kids elope and need a priest.
- They take on apprentices, when there are children in need of training. Some of the really brave/stupid ones will even smuggle mage kids out of alienages before the Templars come down on their heads. (These kids, in turn, often grow up to be the ones who’ll wander back into alienages...)
- They also take on clans in the case of a Keeper, First and Second all dying, or if the only clan mage left standing is too young to take on full responsibilities...
- ...on which note, yes, they can do vallaslin too.
- There are Dalish myths about them - both the normal kind of myths, in which they are usually total badasses, and the urban legend kind, the ‘I hear they have somewhere secret to go to commune with the gods’ kind. They actually don’t, but hey, a little mystique is good for the image.
- Don’t ever raise your blade to a travelling Keeper. They bear a vast, sacred burden, and the least we can do is treat them with utmost respect. If you really think one’s possessed, then you’d better have some damn solid proof.
Or, Falling Into The Sky: Why The Dwarves Aren’t So Wrong After All
“You can’t go outside! You’ll fall into the sky!” Orzammar dwarves cry, in defiance of countless surface dwarves, Grey Wardens, and other surfacers repeatedly telling them that they won’t. And, indeed, in defiance of the fact that they themselves aren’t all glued to Orzammar’s ceiling. Falling up just happens out there, okay? Gravity doesn’t work right with all that sky messing things up.
As superstitions go, it’s an understandable one. Leaving Is Bad, for reasons that I doubt even the Shapers fully understand any more (maybe you shouldn’t have wiped the Titans from the Memories, guys). But there must be a reason, and what does the surface have that Orzammar doesn’t? Sky! So clearly the sky is dangerous. Perfectly logical. You know, I heard lightning comes from it sometimes. And the Fade is in the sky! The Fade has demons. Demons are in the sky. They’re probably the ones throwing lightning down at surfacers! Wow, that sky thing sounds terrible, I’m so glad we don’t have it down here!
Yeah, uh. That was before The Descent and Trespasser came out. Putting together the information we have now, I think there might be a more solid foundation to that superstition than we thought. And as with anything Trespasser, it all comes down to the nature of the Veil.
Sorry, dwarf fans, but this means that once again, we have to start with the elves.( Why is it always the elves? )
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 lyrium.
- 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).
*Possibly also because Justice was previously in a Warden body, and may have picked up the Taint and brought it with him into Anders?
Extrapolating 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...
If 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.
& if hints we’ve had about ancient elves being basically the same as human Cole* are correct
Then are there spirits of the Void too? Are they what Andruil was hunting?
Darkspawn = Void spirits taking physical form just like ancient elves possibly = Fade spirits taking physical form?
Maybe the Void has its own physical part just like Thedas is meant to be the Fade’s physical part, and people (= darkspawn) live there?
What happens to mortals when they die? All Solas says is ‘not what happens to spirits’, which is highly unhelpful. Corypheus, Architect etc could have ‘died’, gone to the Void, then created new physical bodies? That’s probably a bit convoluted esp given they had to do it in a few months maximum, probably more like a couple of days
* ‘Ancient elves were tied to the Fade’; Cole in Trespasser, possibly on Solas, ‘He didn’t want a body, but she asked him to come’; references in Trespasser to individual elves being sundered; Dalish myths about Elgar’nan + Elgar’nan means ‘Spirit of Vengeance’; Mythal reduced to a wisp and possessing Flemeth, etc, etc
Obligatory question mark to turn on answer box?
It occurred to me that I haven’t actually seen any in-depth commentary on the Forgotten Ones since Trespasser came out... which is kind of a shame, because I think we can make some fairly educated guesses about them, their natures and their motivations now.
To recap the non-spoilery stuff: the Forgotten Ones are the ‘evil’ half of the Dalish pantheon, gods of disease, malice, spite and fear. Most of their names have been lost, though we know of Anaris, Geldauran and Daern’thal. And Fen’Harel is said to have been a member of both pantheons, the only being able to convince both sides he was one of them. (We’ll get to that in a bit.)
Worship of the Forgotten Ones was banned in the time of Halamshiral, but continued in secret regardless; there are clans of elves who worship them, and I am avoiding using the word ‘Dalish’ in this sentence because I suspect the Dalish would vehemently deny those clans as their own. I doubt humans see much of a difference, though.
Oh, yes - and the Forgotten Ones have vallaslin associated with them.
So with that out of the way, let’s move on to the spoilery bits.( Read more... )
So we know printing presses exist in Thedas, and we know paper is relatively cheap in Thedas, because both of these things have to be true for Varric to be an internationally-bestselling writer of trashy fiction.
And in the real world, the popularisation of the printing press created an information boom that was every bit as massive and revolutionary as the invention of the Internet, and a corresponding spread in sedition.
So consider the following:
City elves, hiding presses in their homes, using tiny, barely-readable type to compress the entire Canticle of Shartan onto a single A4 pamphlet. “Read this and then burn it,” they warn, as they pass it discreetly in the street. In some homes, Shartan is tinder every Sunday.
Anders is not the only mage with his own press. In the mage underground a fierce battle is waged in paper and ink, a natural extension of the arguments among the Fraternities. The Libertarians, Aequitarians and Isolationists pass pamphlets back and forth with such haste that sometimes the ink has barely dried on the page before three responses are posted through the door. Loyalists are rare in the underground, but their occasional output has been known to cause the entire paper supply in a small town to dry up as rebuttals flow in. The Lucrosians charge two silver apiece for their pamphlets, and are generally ignored.
(Sometimes mages escape with books, or find a rare copy in their wanderings. These are preserved and jealously guarded, copied as many times as the ink will allow. Amaranthine is a known hub for the underground magic tome trade... how else would the Warden-Commander find a book on blood magic there?)
(And sometimes those mages are elven, and the books are not about magic but about history, and the city elves print those, too, binding them with care and placing them somewhere anyone can go and look, because it is their history, and now their book, and it belongs to all of them, every single one.)
Paper is not as eternal as the Stone, but the Stone rejected surface dwarves long ago, and so they write their Memories onto paper and copy them relentlessly, storing them in endless libraries and warehouses across Thedas. If one archive burns, then the Memories will live on elsewhere. They write tales of Orzammar, too, and copy what they can from expeditions to recover lost thaigs, for one day Orzammar will fall. On that day the Stone may be lost, but the paper will live on.
It’s rare for casteless dwarves to be literate, but the surface is a land of opportunity and Sigrun is not the only one to learn. They have little interest in Memories, but a great deal in stories, and they tell tales of Paragons that Orzammar would never allow: Branka was off her nut, Tethras once fucked a bronto, Aeducan stole the invention which made him Paragon from another dwarf. Perhaps the stories are true, perhaps they aren’t, but they heal wounds their readers have had for so long that they had forgotten what it was like to be whole.
(One day a mage hands one of their manifestos to the carta dwarf they’re buying lyrium from, and a whole new group of furious essayists are born. It begins as simple venting - they do not have the mages’ academic training - but they learn quickly, and soon their newfound skills find a new target in the Merchants’ Guild for its perpetuation of Orzammar’s caste systems. One essay has a print run of 5000 and is read by at least twice that number of dwarves. It makes its way back to Orzammar, and soon the few literate inhabitants of Dust Town are doing readings to a dozen of their friends at a time, crammed into tiny buildings with guards posted on the doors.)
The Chantry bans private printing presses, but the nobles protest, because they need their weekly slander mags to keep up with the Game - and truthfully, many of the clerics like to read those as well. (Only to be informed about the depravity of the modern age, of course. They certainly don’t enjoy such scandal.) Templars raid homes, but the mages and the elves are careful, and the dwarves have lyrium to offer in exchange for silence. The Chantry tries to discourage literacy among the lower classes, but a learned child is a blessing upon his parents and unto the Maker, and the lower classes can spot hypocrisy a mile away.
And so the information age sweeps Thedas. The people are angry, the pamphlets impossible to stamp out, and the revolution draws ever closer.
So. An inevitable outgrowth of this is that I need to work out what my Forgotten Ones-worshipping Inquisitor actually believes in, ideally before she has another conversation with Solas.
And that means I need to pull away from pure lore for a bit and try to work out how the corrupted transmission of elven lore has affected those other elves.
See here for the canon sources and theories which I am basing this post on.
“I cannot stress enough how much I am going to murder the next person who calls me Dalish.”
To start with: I’m going to just go ahead and name these guys the Clans of the Forgotten, because I really, really doubt that either they or the Dalish would acknowledge the others as their own and I’m fed up of dancing around the word ‘Dalish’ in these posts. Undoubtedly the writers have a better name for them. If anyone can find it anywhere, please let me know.
Spoilers under the cut. All quotes are from the wiki page unless otherwise stated.( Read more... )
I thought I had a thing, so I replayed Golems of Amgarrak (which should tell you how much I thought I had a thing, because I fricking hate Amgarrak), and I am no closer to either proving or disproving the thing than I was before I dragged poor Alim’s ass through the Deep Roads but I’m going to try to verbalise this anyway:
- Amgarrak = some kind of attempt to create an artificial Titan?
- Amgarrak’s colourswitching doodaddery = somehow related to the Void/ to making golems? If the ‘real world’ = white then Void = black?
- Maybe proof that mortals are basically spirits with corporeal bodies???
- Something something something Orsino something Forgotten Ones something Harvester?
Some attempts at putting these thoughts into words under the cut. No solid or even semi-solid answers here, sorry - just a lot of question marks and confusion. Hopefully someone else can see something I’ve missed.
Hey, I was wondering if you had any meta thoughts on Malvernis, from the Dragon Age 2 Legacy DLC?
Full disclosure: I’m not currently at home, so I can’t play through Legacy to check anything. I’m writing this using only the wiki, YouTube videos, and my own memory.
This is mostly relevant because it means: 1. I can’t take screenshots, and 2. I have not had the opportunity to scrutinise tiny details for ten minutes solid.
I have to break this text up somehow, though, so here’s a picture of Hawke.
Now. Malvernis!( Read more... )
Poor Leonette Trevelyan. She’s been thrown out of the Fade, touched by the Maker, snubbed by the Chantry, and now taken over by an envy demon, all in the space of a month. And she’s got me hanging over her shoulder, being fascinated by everything.
In the last part of scrapbooking in Thedas, I found a codex entry that tells us Envy is a subtype of Sloth. More than a few people were confused by that, myself included - and, honestly, I’ve always been pretty confused by Therinfal Redoubt, too.
Well, Therinfal is done again, and boy, do I have thoughts. But let’s start out with the more general issue of why envy is a subtype of Sloth, of all things, before we get onto that.
( Yes, Leonette, that was a Sloth demon. )
“That was a Sloth demon?!”
*flops* Well, thank goodness that week’s over. I can play video games again!
As such, guess who has two thumbs and is now a Grey Warden!
“I hear some people have parental figures who don’t argue over the most politically expedient way to kill them.”
1. The Chantry can replace First Enchanters more or less at whim, according to Jowan. So it isn’t a safe position by any means, and the only way to retain it is to toe the Chantry line at least to some extent. I think it’s worth bearing that in mind when we discuss Irving, Orsino and (especially) Vivienne. None of them, especially not Orsino, is safe in their position.
Can the Chantry do the same thing to the Grand Enchanter? One would assume so, but then again Fiona was (I think) already GE in 9:31 when the first vote for independence was called.
2. I used to think Owain’s conversation with the Warden about why they wanted the rod of fire was there for comedy. I mean, look at it:
Warden: I need a rod of fire.
Owain: Rods of fire serve many purposes. Why do you wish to acquire this particular item?
Warden: What can the rods be used for?
Owain: Some mages require them for their research; others merely want to light fireplaces.
Warden: I anticipate having to light a fireplace.
Owain: I will set down that you require the rod to deal with a personal matter.
Every time I see it, though, and especially as we learn more about the Tranquil, I become less sure. I think Owain’s actively helping the Warden out here, and possibly even using his ‘robotic’ Tranquil status as a cover to some extent.
3. There is an actual, definable difference between a Harrowed mage and an unHarrowed one, at least in terms of their magic:
Warden: Since you have the password, can’t Jowan help you enter?
Lily: The ward only responds to the [magical] touch of one who has been through the Harrowing.
This is fascinating, in light of that thing Irving says later on about how Connor will be ‘forever changed’, and the way the Seekers get their powers. I don’t think what happens during the Harrowing is the same as being possessed and then unpossessed again - not least because being unpossessed is probably what leads to Blight immunity and a mage Warden is definitely capable of contracting the Taint - but there might be something similar going on there? Maybe?
4. Antimagic wards exist. There is a simple, effective way to stop mages from doing magic in a specific area that doesn’t involve, you know, lobotomising them, locking them up, or throwing them to demons. So. That’s fun.
5. Most of Eleni Zenovia’s really interesting lines are in Witch Hunt (’The prison is breached!’), but there are a few things:
- Firstly, she describes herself as ‘the essence and spirit’ of Eleni Zenovia. She’s not much given to tautology, so I’m inclined to believe these are indeed two separate things. Why is this relevant? Because Mythal, and Kieran, and that whole thing in the Inquisition end credits scene where Flemeth sends one thing through an eluvian before Solas takes another. (Also, because one of those words is spirit. Can we take ‘essence’ to mean ‘soul’? More evidence needed.)
- In the wake of Trespasser, I am suddenly very suspicious of the circumstances surrounding anyone being turned to stone by a powerful mage. Not that I think Valerius was Solas or anything - the question is more one of power. Is it possible to do it slower than Solas does? Is there an actual spell that’ll do this, or are creepy glowy eyes required?
6. The spell enhancer statue.
Looks a bit... wolfy, doesn’t it?
Alim’s diary entry is coming when I actually finish the origin, but there’s a tonne of codex entries and important lore in this section so let’s review everything we learn between waking up and leaving Duncan in his quarters. (The previous part is here.)
1. Envy demons are a subtype of Sloth demon (here) (ETA: Therinfal meta here), and the concept definitely wasn’t created by the writers solely for Therinfal Redoubt. Which leads me to wonder - is that what the duplicate party you fight during the Temple of Sacred Ashes is? They’re definitely some form of spirit, the Temple being what it is, and this would seem to fit better than any other explanation we have.
2. From the same codex entry:
‘A community afflicted by a demon of sloth could soon become a
dilapidated pit where injustices are allowed to pass without comment,
and none of the residents could be aware that such a change has even
So that explains Thedas, then. *rimshot*
3. The Fade codex entry is now hopelessly outdated, of course, but one line jumps out at me as suddenly very interesting:
The Tevinter Imperium once spent vast fortunes of gold, lyrium, and human slaves in an effort to map the terrain of the Fade, an ultimately futile endeavor.
Human slaves. Human. I don’t think that’s just an emphasis thing - we know that most slaves in Tevinter are elves, and we also now know that elven blood is somehow tied to the Fade. So why use humans? Maybe there’s something about their blood that makes it more suited to the task - maybe, since humans are less tied to the Fade and more tied to the material world than elves, human blood stabilises the Fade in a way that elven blood can’t?
4. We need to put Owain and Solas in a room together, stat.
Warden*: And now you are no longer a person.
Owain: My body is similar in form to yours, possessing an equal number of limbs, appendages, and internal organs. I perform the same physical functions. My mind is capable of higher thought processes. Am I to be denied personhood because I do not feel as you do?
Warden: A person is more than just physical parts.
Owain: I have thoughts and memories. I remember my past, my childhood in the tower, and my apprenticeship. These experiences defined me. My lack of emotion simply adds to what is already there.
Warden: My statement was rude. I apologise.
Owain: I do not have the capacity to be offended. Still, I believe I am a person.
*I would just like to take this opportunity to apologise profusely to my Surana, for whom this comment was horrifically OOC. The sacrifices I ask him to make in the name of meta, honestly.
4.5 The Tranquil parallel is so obvious, and it’s so clear that the writers are Going Somewhere with the Tranquil cure now, that I wonder if we can use it to predict how the Veil coming down will affect the (especially non-mage) population of modern Thedas? Granted, it would help if we knew how Solas thinks people should be experiencing their lives, but I imagine we can make some vague predictions about people’s emotions becoming uncontrollable. Or their dreams? Magic? Ability to attract demons?
5. Trespasser’s First Grand Enchanter and DAO’s History of the Circle codex entries don’t match up; the former attributes the founding of the Circle to Kordillus I, the latter to Kordillus II. Pick whichever you like better for fic purposes, I guess.
6. Duncan says that “We can’t seem to eradicate [the darkspawn]
completely. No matter how hard we try, they always come back,” which
could be nothing more than a comment on their sheer numbers but could
also be an indication that they’re coming from somewhere.
7. Blood magic can be used to duplicate the powers of a somniari:
Although lyrium will allow a mage to send his conscious mind into the Fade, blood would allow him to find the sleeping minds of others, view their dreams, and even influence or dominate their thoughts.
It’s also been ‘all but stamped out’. Ha. Ha. Hahahahhahahahaaaaaaaaaaa. Okay, Chantry propaganda. Okay. If you say so.
Some random meta notes from this section:
1. The Sloth demon says that Mouse ‘let go of the human form years ago’, which sort of makes me wonder if Mouse is lying less than we think. I can’t think what incentive Sloth would have to lie? Unless it thinks that Mouse will kill it, perhaps, but I’m not sure it would care.
2. The wonky Dalish tent is actually kind of interesting, in that it’s there regardless of whether you’re playing Amell or Surana. Alim might have decided that it’s representative of his disconnection from his heritage or something Freudian like that, but personally, I’m wondering if it’s Dalish at all or a relic from Elvhenan. (Though ancient elvhen tents were probably much fancier, I guess.)
3. Fuck Bioware and their foreshadowing, honestly:
Spirit wolves for crying out loud you assholes I always wondered what relevance they had to anything going on in that sequence at all
4. Speaking of the spirit wolves, “The real dangers of the Fade are preconceptions, careless trust... pride.” Well, Solas has two out of three going on, so well done there, Mr Fade expert, sir. (Alim has the third all to himself, bless his trusting little heart.)
4.5 Still speaking of the spirit wolves, there is a codex entry somewhere (which I now can’t find, go me) that suggests Pride demons are all involved in some massive conspiracy of their own making. So, uh. Considering Solas, and considering the random appearances of spirit wolves here... I’m concerned.
5. I love the way Mouse just talks himself into a corner if you don’t call him out, and ultimately has to give up because he’s screwed himself over. No, there’s no meta point here: I just really like it. His own pride ends up his undoing.
6. This is the best place in all three games to get a good clear view of the Black City:
Things which intrigue me, but may or may not be relevant:
- It has buildings on both the top and the bottom, and the bottom ones seem to be upside-down (see the Crossroads? If it’s elvhen-built, this would make sense);
- It’s a very odd shape. Kinda reminds me of a dragon, though that’s probably just a faces-in-the-clouds thing.
- That one really tall tower which shall henceforth be known as ‘Elgar’nan’s Phallus’ because I just have a Feeling about the overcompensatory nature of it, okay
7. Speaking of things you can see from the Fade in the mage origin:
Hello sun hello trees hello sky sa alim who is a weedy wet chiz chiz chiz
I think we need to talk about the Dalish and ice cream? And hence, Orlais and ice cream.
Because, look. The Dalish liquid staple is almost certainly halla milk. It’s readily available, it’s less bacteria-infested than water, it’s easier to make than alcohol, and tea/coffee wouldn’t grow in southern Thedas’s climate, so those are out as well. My bet is that, except for fruit wines on special occasions, the Dalish drink mostly halla milk and herbal tea.
Which means they have cream! And they have magic (and enchantment, even), which means they are perfectly capable of freezing said cream in the middle of summer. And they have fruit, too.
I’d be willing to bet that the Dalish can whip up a batch of unflavoured ice cream in the middle of summer with so little effort that they barely think anything of it, and that flavouring it with fruit (or herbs - goodness knows what basil ice cream tastes like, but I bet the Dalish know) is almost as common.
And then there’s Orlais. Orlais, where magic is all but illegal and only the wealthy can afford ice-houses or enchanted freezers. Orlais, where getting cream into contact with cold in the middle of summer is a Herculean effort requiring probably more than a dozen people and a production chain that stretches halfway across the country. Orlais, where ice cream is the same rare delicacy it was in the real world until about the 1850s.
Imagine your Lavellans and Mahariels being ushered into the Imperial Court and given a bowl of this incredibly rare, incredibly expensive delicacy... and going, “It’s just ice cream. We have that, too.”
Dalish politics is largely based on favour and precedent.
Precedent always wins, because history is everything. There are clan alliances that go back to the days of Shartan, and these are fiercely maintained... and then there are clan alliances that were formed only yesterday, but were formed because one of the negotiating Keepers suddenly found a way to prove that there had been an alliance in Shartan’s time, no, really, I swear I’m not just saying that to get you to help us. One of the first things Dalish elves do when opening negotiations with a new clan is to sit down and trace back their political allegiances and bloodlines until they find a point of intersection - usually not more than five or six generations, because there are few enough Dalish. But if you don’t like what you find out, well, you can always just keep going back...
Keepers desperate to find common ground with a clan that has previously been staunchly neutral or hostile towards theirs will sometimes resort to ‘Well, we were all on the same side in Shartan’s army!’; hence, ’An alliance by Shartan’ is an idiom which means, loosely, ‘An alliance between parties with nothing in common’, or sometimes ‘a spurious and unconvincing reason for doing something’.
When precedent fails, the alternative is favour: literally just do something big enough for the other clan that they have to pay you back, or else find proof in that same web of alliances and bloodlines that they already owe you. Hence the Dalish quests in Inquisition.
For political (and ‘citizenship’, and surnaming) purposes, travelling Keepers still count as members of their original clan. So a popular and often-called-upon travelling Keeper can be a major asset; their clan may arrive somewhere to find that another clan now owes them because Trevor the Travelling Keeper saved half of its members from the plague last month, or helped them to secure their new alliance with another clan...
(Conversely, of course, they might arrive to find that ‘their’ Fen’Harel’s Keeper destroyed all the other clan’s food supplies last month because he thought the other clan wasn’t prepared enough for winter, and they’re in the doghouse. But then, the other clan clearly wasn’t ready for winter, so whose fault is it really?)
And inevitably, of course, there’s war.
I can’t see Dalish wars being particularly... visible affairs. First, it’d be way too dangerous to let humans see them that divided, and second, a medieval battle had to be planned in advance: get two sets of Dalish mustering on opposite sides of a field and it’s basically an invitation to the local noble to send their knights to join the party.
What the Dalish are really good at is guerilla tactics. So you’re gonna get sabotage, you’re gonna get kidnappings and hostage-takings, you’re gonna get lone hunters being sniped off by hunters from different clans.
Considering how strongly (and for what good reasons) they bang the ‘all Dalish lives are precious’ drum, I think we’re probably looking at more hostage-taking than actual killing? “You can have the Keeper’s grandson back when you agree to our demands”, that sort of thing. “We’ve got all your halla, so we win.”
And with sabotage, that gets fun really fast. Sneak in and steal/destroy all their food, then refuse to share yours with them until they surrender. Break the aravels, burn the blankets... turn them all into werewolves, yes, Zathrian, I’m looking at you. That seems exactly the sort of guerilla tactic they’d use on one another, too: something designed to force a surrender with as little actual bloodshed as possible. It’s still a war, but a war by other means, and with all those alliances going on it’d still have the capacity to spiral out of control. So Clan A kidnaps all Clan B’s halla because Clan B stole all Clan C’s food stores, and Clans A and C are allied, only what Clan A hasn’t reckoned on is Clan E, who are related to Clan B’s Keeper through a marriage with a recently-transplanted hunter from Clan D, and Clan D aren’t getting involved because they’re already embroiled in an argument with Clan F over the Theft Of The Vallaslin Ink, which was actually stolen by Hawke to give to Solivitus, only nobody else knows that and Clan F blames Clan D because last year Clan D gave them some ironbark that had rotted...
Dalish wars are probably less about who can fight and more about who can avoid fighting the longest. By the time you reach the point where elven blood has been spilled, everyone’s in such a state of frothing rage that the only good solution is to send each clan involved to a different country entirely and hope they don’t see one another for the next ten years or so...
...or just exile the biggest players and start over, of course. I’d be wiling to bet that happens a lot, too.
so hey your dragon age thoughts are always v well thought out and interesting so i was wondering what you thought of the scaled ones??
[GIF: Ronaldo from Steven Universe and his infamous ‘Snake people, or sneople, control our government’ line]
Right now, I’m not sure what to make of them, but I will happily throw some theories at you. YMMV on how much like Ronaldo I end up sounding.
So first, speaking of Ronaldo, the conspiracy theorist in the Frostback Basin has some things to say that might be relevant:
I speak of Orlais’ attempts to rouse the Snake Kings of the Earth against Tevinter’s alliance with the Moon Men.
This is explained in Ser Ycke’s Pamphlets, of which I have read
many, which explain things such as why the snake appears in Tevinter
drawings, and how the Snake-Kings came to exist. (Crystals.) Did Moon
Men have their Tevinter Allies keep the Reptilian Ones here, so they could interrogate them at their Leisure? None can say, but I will say yes as that would Fit My Theories.
If one looks keenly, once can see the Frostback Basin must have been
manipulated by the hand of some Vast Thing. The crater in the Lowland
Fortress was not the natural settling of mountains, but came to exist
after the shifting of Something Below Ground! The Snake-Kings must be
vast, and their movements powerful to cause the Earth to Quake with
their moving. It is Clear as the Sky that Ancient Tevinter, along with
the Moon Men, came here to make an Attempt to kill a buried Snake-King
under the crater!!! Too many Signs and Portents are aligned to think
This person, whom I shall dub Ronaldo from Rivain, is a meta-er after my own Heart.
So first - yeah, I think we can safely assume that Ronaldo from Rivain is wrong about a lot of things. His comments about the dragon statues, for example, we know to be wrong, because we know that the statues are amplifiers for the ice-melting Tevinter death ray. (Come to think of it, Ronaldo’s version might be a little bit saner than the actual truth…) That said, he’s not a real-life conspiracy theorist, and has the distinct advantage of having been written by, you know, one of the game’s writers. I absolutely would not put it past Bioware to bury something groundbreakingly important in a codex entry that looks like total rubbish; it wouldn’t even be the first time.
Second, I’m not even getting into the Moon Men bit. There are ways some sense might be massaged out of it - Mythal is a moon goddess - but I’d like to use slightly less speculation than Ronaldo, and in any case we have nothing terribly solid to go on.
Third - ‘The Snake-Kings must be
vast, and their movements powerful to cause the Earth to Quake with
their moving’ is clearly a little bit off, though not nearly as off as you’d expect; we can now be fairly certain that Ronaldo’s conflated his Snake-Kings with the Titans.
This sounds like a terribly stupid thing to do until you realise that the only other time we’ve heard of the Scaled Ones directly, it’s been in the Deep Roads and within spitting distance of… you got it… a Titan.( Read more... )
It is possible that I’m now employing the ‘You’re not allowed to play Alim’s save again until you write his diary entry’ method of self-motivation, here. So yeah, my save is an entire play session ahead of the diary now. Go me!
Which means, among other things, the introduction of the healthiest, most functional mother/daughter relationship in all of Thedas.
Yeah, anyway, Flemeth. I do have some notes on Ostagar too, but let’s start with Flemeth. Because, well, it’s Flemeth.
1. Now that we know a bit more about what’s going on with Flemeth, some of her lines are starting to make more sense... and others of them are becoming even more cryptic.
Jory: Quiet, Daveth! If she’s really a witch, do you want to make her mad?
Flemeth: There’s a smart lad. Sadly irrelevant to the larger scheme of things, but it is not I who decides. Believe what you will.
I had previously categorised this one in ‘leaning on the fourth wall’ and ‘maybe vague allusions to the Maker’, but post-Inquisition...
...there’s a few things to be said here, but what really jumps out at me about it is a similarity to Solas and Flemythal’s post-Inquisition scene. Namely, they both contain vague references to higher powers than the Evanuris:
Solas: The failure was mine. I should pay the price. But the People, they need me. I am so sorry.
You know what’s still fascinating me? This whole ‘pay the price’ thing didn’t come up once in Trespasser that I could see - and believe me, I was looking for it.
From context, we can deduce that the price involved is death, but it is still very unclear which particular failure Solas is talking about. There are several thousand possibilities, here, and some of them don’t even imply higher powers, but then we also have this if the Inquisitor doesn’t drink from the Well (haven’t seen the alternate version yet):
Flemythal: Alas, so long as the music plays, we dance.
There’s a whole essay here on ‘The Music’ and its relation to the Calling, darkspawn, and even some of Cole’s banters. For now, let’s just settle with: there’s some kind of magic music, it’s the universe’s greatest earworm, and not even being a literal elvhen god will stop it.
...oh shit no hold on let’s not because I just had a thought
Cole [on Solas]: He hurts, an old pain from before, when everything sang the same.
Cole [to Varric]: Do you write to reach across? To hear the song that was sundered?
There was a song, and it used to be everywhere, and many of Cole’s other lines imply that it’s something to do with the Fade (and I am not getting into the Calling here), but the song was sundered. By the Veil?
The Chantry believes that the ideal situation for the world is one in which the Chant of Light can be heard everywhere in the world. What if Andraste didn’t say ‘the Chant’, though? What if she said ‘the song’?
Food for thought.
Flemeth: So much of you is uncertain... and yet I believe. Do I? Why, it seems I do!
Another line that’s gone from ‘leaning on the fourth wall’ to ‘fuck Bioware’s foreshadowing’, in which Flemeth takes time out of her cryptic old lady schedule to chat to Mythal. Probably.
Flemeth: I have protected [the treaties]. [...] Take them to your Grey Wardens and tell them this Blight’s threat is greater than they realise!
Warden: What do you mean the threat is greater than they realise?
Flemeth: Either the threat is more or they realise less. Or perhaps the threat is nothing! Or perhaps they realise nothing! *laughs*
In the wake of the Trespasser reveals about Titans and the Blight, I’d say they realise nothing, wouldn’t you?
(Sidenote: It was Mythal who killed/subdued the Titans... could the Blight be her fuckup? ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE)
Number two is under the cut! I made it to number two!( Read more... )
I don’t know if it was intentional on Bioware’s part (it probably wasn’t), but I have just discovered that ‘not of the People’/’nothing of the People’ and ‘not a person’ are both the same word in elven: banal’vhen.
Whichg is honestly kind of fantastic, because the Dalish and the ancient elves do both seem to have a groupthink problem: the ancient elves in particular had some fantastic xenophobia going on that would absolutely have resulted in this kind of linguistic shit happening! And then the Dalish have inherited it, and it’s all gone downhill from there.
So if we say there is ‘nothing of the People’ (banal’vhen, again) in a city elf, or indeed in a Dalish who’s a bit weird... we’ve got undertones of ‘and therefore not a person at all’. When Solas says the same thing about the Dalish and city elves both (and you know he does)... we end up right back at ‘like waking in a world full of Tranquil’, and
Cole: You're real, and it means everyone could be real. It changes everything, but it can't.
It’s almost - but not quite - as deliciously xenophobic as the Qunari calling everyone else ‘things’.
(I bet poor Sera’s had it thrown at her a couple of times, too.)
ok but Trespasser has basically confirmed that every non-dwarf in Thedas has magical potential, and the only difference between mages and non-mages in modern Thedas is where they sit on the spectrum (mages in modern Thedas = Really Powerful mages in ancient Thedas, non-mages in modern Thedas = Boring Normal Mages in ancient Thedas)
Which means that it is highly likely that in fact, any ordinary human/elf/Qunari (who is not Tranquil) can do something approximating low-level magic. Probably not enough to do anything useful with it, much less anything dangerous, but enough to, say... bring the Fade into the world for a second. To channel a tiny thread of mana through something
Enough to enchant without lyrium. Enough to unlock a magic lock that just requires the touch of mana or to channel a bit of mana through some invisible ink like the stuff we saw in Last Flight
Here’s the other thing: if you train all the kids in magic from as young as possible, then those of them with actual magical aptitude are much less likely to manifest it by, e.g., burning the house down, summoning a demon, raising an army of undead, etc, etc, etc, because when it happens they will know what to do
We know that southern human society and the Qunari do not do this, because it would hugely upset that whole ‘mages are dangerous’ narrative they’re feeding their people
But the Dalish, the Avvar, the mage classes of Tevinter? Yeah, I don’t believe for a second that they don’t train all their kids in magic before the magic manifests and regardless of magical potential
Which means that they know. They know that even the most ungifted person has a tiny bit of magical potential locked away deep inside, and they know that magical training can help them to access it, just a tiny bit, just for a second
‘Old elven trick’ is most likely Dalish code for ‘I, a hunter, actually just did magic but like hell I’m going to tell that to you shemlen’
(Turns out you can convince most ancient elven artefacts and some varterrals that you’re an ancient elf with careful application of
that rudimentary mana-channelling that you learned when you were six)
(Also turns out that if your Keeper, or a Keeper from years gone by for that matter, sets up the magic just right, the rest of the clan can access it. I bet the Dalish get a lot of mileage out of this for things like passing notes - any random hunter from the next clan over can read the note your Keeper left on that tree, but good luck finding a human who knows how to do it)
The Avvar probably say something about talking to the gods
But the real fun would be in Tevinter.
Altus kids just get trained. All of them. As if an Altus family could ever produce a non-mage child! The idea is laughable. The same is true of old-blood Laetan families, because mages beget mages, and if your child is expected to be a mage then why wouldn’t you give them pre-manifestation training? You don’t want your house to burn down
New-blood Laetans are Laetans born from the ranks of the Soporati, so are largely irrelevant here. Slaves... usually don’t get trained, because why would you give your slaves training they might not need?
But the Soporati, oh, the Soporati. One mage child could change everything for them, so they pay for early training, they watch like hawks in case this child is the one, they jostle for places with prestigious pre-manifestation tutors, they pay conmen who claim they can make a child more magical but truthfully can’t do more than teach the child do channel the little bit of mana they could have learned to channel anyway
A lot of the Soporati probably have the same kind of baseline magical training as Dalish hunters, and that makes them more useful as workers, because if a Dalish Keeper can set up a spell for the hunters to use and access with just a tiny bit of mana to get it going then you bet a magister can do the same
So the Soporati, in their fervour to make it into the ranks of the Laetans, make themselves more exploitable and more able to prop up the system that they’re trying to escape
A perfect, self-sustaining, oppressive shithole of a system.
Please, Bioware, please make this headcanon canon