Dragon Age Forever: Distract Yourself From Donald Trump’s Impending Reign Of Doom With An RPG!

Before I started playing Dragon Age: Origins this month, the closest I ever came to participating in a role-playing game was poking around AOL chat rooms in the late 90s. My screenname at the time was Zorba2222, which in retrospect was probably misleading since I am not at all Greek. I just picked it off of a poster because I liked words with Zs and Xs. I don’t actually remember much about the chat rooms, only that I’m sure I did way more lurking than interacting.

It was intimidating; I was an awkward thirteen-year-old on my own in a sea of actions and A/S/Ls, with no real idea of how to actually participate in the game. Which was a shame, really, because thirteen-year-old me would’ve loved playing RPGs. I know this because thirty one-year-old me definitely loves it. A few weeks ago, my buddy Dufrau (who also writes about video games on Autostraddle dot com!) let me take her old PS3 and a bunch of games, and thus began my journey into Ferelden, the fictional backdrop of Dragon Age.

The first awesome thing about DA:O is how many ways you can customize your character! This is probably/definitely old news to anyone who is not a total RPG noob, but it made me endlessly happy. I spent way too long creating my character, and she ended up mostly looking like a cross between Furiosa and Lexa, the forever Heda of my heart.

I know what I’m about.

Her name is Buttercup, because my wife figured a sweet-sounding name might lull my enemies into a false sense of security. That way I could spring into action and merc them right the fuck up before they even realize what I badass I am. Infallible logic. Anyway, I’m Buttercup and I’m an elf, so my story begins in my home alienage. (Alienages are where elves live – they’re segregated and enslaved by humans, because humans are the worst all the time no matter if it’s fiction or real life.)

It’s the morning of my would be arranged marriage to a random elf dude, which I am 100% not here for. I spent most of the day complaining about the wedding to anyone I could talk to, but they all seemed to just think I was being sassy and not serious. I met another elf, Nessa, whose family was trying to get her to leave the alienage against her will. She asked for my help, but I couldn’t convince her father to let her stay. I was pretty devastated. Not only was I worried about Nessa’s fate, but I’d been given to believe that I could romance women in this game. How could I have already messed things up with my first potential girlfriend? Obviously I couldn’t leave it like that, so I restarted the game to replay our interaction.

Look at that searing eye contact. Sparks are flying.

After helping Nessa out, I finally had to go get married. Thankfully my wedding was interrupted, but, in the process, my fiancé was slain (sorry bro) and a few other women and I were kidnapped. I managed to fight my way out and save everyone, because I’m a total badass and, also, am playing this game on casual (the easiest mode). Speaking of the gameplay, I found it to definitely be a bit tricky to get the hang of, especially during battles. The nice thing about casual mode, though, is that you can’t hurt or be hurt by other characters in your party. I honestly don’t think I would’ve made it very far at all if I was playing on a harder mode.

Anyway, after I killed a bunch of important and terrible humans on my almost wedding day, I was recruited into an ancient order of Darkspawn (which are demons, basically) slayers called the Grey Wardens. Look at how cool I am, leading a bunch of dudes on a mission like a boss:

Don’t fuck with my clique

Not long after I became a member of the Wardens, my brethren and I were betrayed in battle by Loghain, the King’s father-in-law. Lots of people died, including the King and almost every other Grey Warden. It was really tragic and all, but I was saved by a witch named Flemeth. More importantly, I woke up topless to find out that her daughter, Morrigan, had patched me up.

This is some pre-Sanvers Sanvers action

Let me tell you about Morrigan: she’s sarcastic, selfish, lacks a moral compass, and isn’t ever completely trustworthy. And I love her. I have spent many hours trying to romance her, but I’m pretty sure she’s never going to love me back. The woman is ice cold; she disapproves of any nice and/or heroic thing I try to do and she is actively mean to me a lot of the time. Somehow, it only makes me like her more.

Though I haven’t been successful at romancing Morrigan, I also haven’t been completely celibate: I accidentally had sex with a sex worker. To be honest, it wasn’t at all how I envisioned losing my video game virginity. I didn’t even realize I was in a brothel until I started talking to the owner and she asked if I wanted men, women, or both. When she presented me with a lineup of people, I assumed selecting one would just let me start a conversation. Wrong. Instead, I suddenly found myself in a bedroom. She gave me a sexy look, the screen faded to black, there was a single moan, and then all a sudden I was alone in the room wearing just my underwear. What a blur.

Other than trying to charm Morrigan, there’s a ton of plot to get through in the game. It’s a pretty huge world, and every area is dense with people to talk to and things to do. Each time I think I’m almost done with a particular part of my quest, it turns out there’s another step I have to complete. I’m absolutely loving it, but I can see how it might get frustrating if you’re looking for a more straightforward thing where you just have to get from point A to point B.

Sometimes you don’t mean to, but you end up on fire, talking to a mouse — no big deal

I’ve put almost thirty hours into the game since I got it, but I feel like I’m nowhere close to being done. One thing I wish every single game had was the ability to rewind time like in Life is Strange. I’ve had many regrettable conversations (mostly with Morrigan, my sweet angry bb) and it would have been rad to re-do them. Slowly but surely, I’m getting better at combat; I’m figuring out how to equip the different members of my party and what tactics they need to learn and use. Hopefully by the time I finish Dragon Age: Origins on casual, I’ll be able to play Dragon Age II on regular. It’s important to have goals for the new year, as well as a distraction from our nation’s impending collapse. Happy holidays!

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Jenna is a designer and writer who lives in Boston with her wife, Stephanie, and their two cats, Flapjack and Ellie. She is very passionate about fictional queer women, interspecies friendships, and food. She's still hanging onto a semi-impressive DVD collection. Just in case, you know? You can find Jenna on twitter, instagram, or check out her design website.

Jenna has written 34 articles for us.

48 Comments

  1. I’m playing my first go round of Dragon Age: Inquisition and have successfully romanced Josephine. And, spoilers!, Morrigan shows up in DAI! She’s pretty damn hot but you can’t romance her in DAI either, sadly. But Josephine is really great and has ruffled sleeves and I couldn’t ask for more from a video game girlfriend. At some point next year I’ll grab the first two DA games.

    • Dont read it if you dont want the spoiler for a 7 year old game

      ****SPOILER*****
      Morrigan doesnt date your character if your character is a female, played this game twice wondering what i’d done wrong 🙁
      But, that Leliane story is amazing isnt it

        • Yeah, you have to be a guy to romance Morrigan (even then, it, umm… well that would be a spoiler).

          But you *can* romance Leliana regardless of Gender. (She’s much cooler and nicer anyway)

          Zevran (the mercenary elf who Loghain hires to kill you, but will join you if you spare him) is also romanceable regardless of Gender.

  2. Ha ha, I was never crazy about Morrigan. I usually left her in camp, since she constantly complained about everything and disliked almost every action I took. Plus, she was mean to Wynne, and I love Wynne (kinda the mother/grandmother I wish I had).

    Leliana is lovely though. I adore her. So, I’m guessing you went as rogue? Fun stuff.

    Other fun part: playing as mage and getting arcane warrior lets you solo most of the game on nightmare mode. It’s hilarious. =)

    I’m glad you’re enjoying Dragon Age! I hope you try Awakenings and II and Inquisition too! Theyt great games, and reading this makes me want to replay them yet again.

  3. ‘Let me tell you about Morrigan: she’s sarcastic, selfish, lacks a moral compass, and isn’t ever completely trustworthy.’

    Oh man, I can’t wait for you to play DA2 because you are going to /adore/ Isabela. She’s the gorgeous morally-grey pirate queen of my heart. And she’s romanceable! Everyone is bi! It’s the best decision Bioware ever made!

  4. Morrigan is straight in the game (which is fucking tragic), Leliana is the one you can romance as a woman. She’s pretty annoying at first I find but she grows on ya. If you were on PC you could mod it so that you can romance anyone. I literally had a female elf romance her, and it was pretty sweet, the only thing is sometimes the characters would refer to them as “he”, others as “she”, and I just went along with a genderfluid elf. And then I knocked up Morrigan! ~magic~)

  5. I didn’t like Morrigan on my first play through, I thought she was too rude. But because of the thing you mentioned where the game takes forever, it took me a couple of tries before I finished. On the game I actually finished, I absolutely loved her, but I had already fallen in love with Leliana by then, so instead of unrequited crush, she was my snarky bff.

    I’m excited for you to play all the games. This series is my fave! I love how the characters evolve over the games!

    Also, if you (or anyone) plan on reading the novelizations, I would recommend against The Stolen Throne. I was never able to finish because it was sexist garbage. It has some cool lore, but besides that it is useless. (Sorry, but it made me so pissed)

  6. Oh man welcome to Thedas (the name of the world)! I’m on Inquisition now and these games can be so queer, it’s incredible. Read all the codexs! You’ll love the characters in 2.

  7. So awesome to see new players to this franchise. Save is your friend,especially before returning to camp to commence in any wooing! If story has you hooked do not be put off by reviews of the subsequent two games because IMO this is what Dragon Age is all about. Have fun!

  8. I love hearing about new players to the franchise!

    The expansions are all worth exploring too. DA2 was a bit of a miss for me, I wasn’t that keen on it: but DA3 is *incredible*.

    Just a heads up: at 30 hours you’re probably around the half-way mark of DA: Origins, plenty of game left.

    Not counting that if you play the game again as a different race or gender the game changes and gives you different options.

    I’ve played DA:O probably 12 times now and I still find new stuff every time I play.

  9. Just a small note is I found the fighting in DA:II WAYYYYY easier? Like I played Origins on easy and played through DA:II on hard and it was super simple. That said, there is loads of fighting in DA:II that gets boring pretty quick and on my second playthrough I played it on easy which just made hours of fighting less stupidly long and the game more enjoyable. Dragon Age II is worth it for Inquisition though <3

    • I agree — I loved DA:II for the story, but I upped the difficulty to, ahem, normal from casual on Origins and didn’t find there to be much of a difference (there were a few fights where I switched back down). Same thing’s true for Inquisition I think, actually, but that may just be because after 100+ hours of playing Dragon Age I’ve improved, haha.

  10. I have nothing constructive to add, really, just happily ‘eeeeeee-ing’ and grinning like an idiot, it is super awesome to have a site I love (hello, autostraddle!) all mashed-up here with the game series I heart so much. I’m excited for you to play through the rest of DA:O, DAII and DA:I. So good, all of it! And the DA:I expansion, Trespasser, and the weddings. Gah! It’s all so good. Have fun!

    **potential spoiler**

    Pro-tip: if you romance Liliana, try and get on Morrigan’s good side for the end of the game, also being friends with Alistar may be needed too, you’ll get a helpful offer from Morrigan late in the game that is…well, helpful.

  11. YAY DRAGON AGE! For a long time I didn’t have a computer that could play Inquisition and I’m so glad I did, because playing through Origins and 2 were great introductions to Thedas. I’m so excited to see this on Autostraddle.

    Morrigan continues to show up 😉 with better graphics, even! Keep playing!

    (Make sure you pick up Leliana. I mean that less romantically and more as a party member, although this is the game to romance her in – she also appears later – if you want. My elf rogue Warden did <3)

  12. “(Alienages are where elves live – they’re segregated and enslaved by humans, because humans are the worst all the time no matter if it’s fiction or real life.)”

    You’re in for surprise if you play Inquisition… hehehe

  13. If you want to date Morrigan as a woman and you’re playing on PC, you can download the Equal Love mod: http://www.nexusmods.com/dragonage/mods/429/?

    Note that it doesn’t change the dialogue (as that would generally involve editing the voice files, which most modders aren’t able to do) so Morrigan is still going to talk about your character as if they’re a man. Some people find that to be too much of a dealbreaker, especially if misgendering hits them on a personal level, while others find it annoying but worth it if it means they can date whoever they want. It’s up to you how you feel about it, but the option exists.

    Many games with same-sex romances available let any player character romance any NPC, but many others give each romanceable NPC their own orientation, so it’s generally a good idea to look into which NPCs can be romanced with each player genders. Mods are generally available to let everyone be romanced with any gender, so it’s a good thing to know so you can plan ahead.

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