Dragon Age: Origins Updated Q&A - The Characters of Dragon Age
Executive producer Dan Tudge answers some, but not all, questions about the key players in BioWare's story-driven fantasy RPG Dragon Age: Origins.
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The Canadian development studio known as BioWare made a name for itself with in-depth fantasy role-playing games for the PC, most notably the Baldur's Gate series some 10 years ago. The studio has now come full circle with its next project, Dragon Age: Origins, which will be, of all things, an in-depth fantasy role-playing game for the PC (and presumably for consoles later on). Any good story has an intriguing cast of characters, and Dragon Age will certainly have a colorful cast, which you can see in this exclusive new video. Executive producer Dan Tudge explains.
GameSpot: We understand that in Dragon Age: Origins, no matter which origin you choose, be it noble human or elf mage, you are a Grey Warden, enlisted by the king himself to battle the forces of evil. Of the Grey Wardens, Duncan is a master and Alistair is a guide. Tell us how these two will mentor your character in Dragon Age.
Dan Tudge: As a Grey Warden, Duncan is charged with defeating the blight and must recruit the bravest warriors, mages, and rogues into the ranks of the Grey Wardens in order to defeat this blight. How you meet him and how he recruits you is actually different in each origin story.
Duncan introduces you to another young Grey Warden recruit named Alistair. Alistair is both charming and easygoing and never seems to be short of amusing commentary. I think players will enjoy having him in their parties.
GS: We understand that the Gray Wardens report directly to King Cailan, ruler of Fereldan. Cailan appears to be obsessed with attaining glory on the battlefield, even if his actions are hasty and ill-advised. Will you ever fight alongside the king? Will Cailan's brash obsession with glory come back to haunt him?
DT: I can't say much more other than you will play an important role in the Battle of Ostagar...
GS: The king's military advisor, Loghain, orchestrates many of the large-scale battles against the blight. How will players interact with him? And will players be able to contribute to these larger-scale strategic decisions, or will action focus entirely on the actions of the adventuring party?
DT: Loghain is a war hero and the leader of the armies of Fereldan. He's a very complex character with deep convictions. How you choose to interact with him will be up to you, but I will say that you'll have to make some pretty important decisions involving Loghain that could create a turning point in the story. The writers will kill me if I say any more than that.
GS: We also understand that there will be other characters in the mercenary camp who may join your party, such as Wynne, the female mage with the comforting voice. What is her role in the war? Will she favor wizard characters over others? What are her primary motivations?
DT: Wynne is a spirit healer from the Circle of Magi, focusing her magic on the ability to briefly summon protective and restorative spirits from the Fade. She has served the Circle for most of her life and is highly regarded within the circle. Players willing to get to know Wynne may eventually discover that Wynne is no ordinary mage.
GS: We also understand that the party may enlist the services of the thug, Sten. Where does this ruffian come from, and what is he after? How will he interact with party members from different backgrounds?
DT: Sten is a warrior of the Qunari race and has been trained as a soldier since birth (the Qunari are always at war). He's a very stoic and disciplined man with a strong code of honor, so how he treats others depends on whether or not they have his respect, which he doesn't give easily.
GS: Morrigan, the shape-changing witch and scourge of the Korcari Wilds, seems like she can be a powerful ally. What does Morrigan bring to your party? Is there a risk to adding (or not adding) Morrigan to your party, considering she has despised the race of man for most of her life?
DT: Morrigan can indeed be a powerful ally, and I think players will find her shape-shifting abilities a powerful asset in combat. She's power-hungry and selfish, so having her in your party with other members who have more-benevolent agendas and moral codes can result in some "tense" party dynamics. You don't have to have Morrigan in your party, but she does add an awesome dynamic to the player and party relationships.
GS: And Morrigan's mother, Flemeth, a legendary witch of the wilds, will also make an appearance in the game. Will she join your party? What is her relationship with her daughter like, and what role will she play in the story?
DT: Morrigan's relationship with her mother, Flemeth, isn't exactly sunshine and rainbows. In fact, Flemeth raised Morrigan to hold the rest of mankind in contempt, hating them for their weaknesses, and taught her to value power above all else. Both women are incredibly strong-willed and are practically more aptly described as rivals rather than family. They each have such a lust for power that you may be shocked at the lengths they'll go to in order to acquire it.
GS: We also understand that dogs can actually join your party. What role do dogs fill in the party dynamic? What's a good reason for choosing these battle hounds over friendly soldiers or mages?
DT: The Mabari hounds imprint themselves onto one master and are known to be fiercely loyal to that person. They are also absolutely vicious in combat. If you do manage to get such a dog to join your party, you will find them to be extremely intelligent creatures who you can command to overwhelm the enemy, knocking them to the ground, pinning them down, and horribly mauling them.
GS: Characters in the world will react differently to you depending on your actions. Are there party members that are exclusive to a certain origin type?
DT: Yes, there are party members unique to your origin. Each origin story has its own cast of unique characters who may or may not show up later on in the story. In any case, every character will react differently to you depending on any number of factors, including your race, gender, origin story, party approval rating, and other choices you've made along the way.
GS: And aside from hounds, soldiers, and wizards, what other types of characters will join you on your travels? Will it be best to focus on building a balanced party that's part brute strength and part sickly wizards, or will you be able to do well with just about any party?
DT: I won't ruin it by revealing all of the characters you can invite to join your party, but I will tell you that you'll have a great selection of them to choose from. Each one will have their own unique abilities, behaviors, and personal agendas, so it's completely up to you how you want to compose your party. You can pick them strategically, depending on the scenario you're preparing for, but sometimes it's just fun to mix characters just to see how they interact with each other.
GS: In a recent trailer, we saw humans release the hounds against an army of monsters. The armies seem to consist of at least two kinds of foe, Genlocks and Hurlocks. What are these creatures, and what's the difference between the two? What abilities do they possess?
DT: Genlocks and Hurlocks are some common types of darkspawn. Genlocks are the most numerous of the darkspawn and have short, stocky bodies. These guys are pretty tough and difficult to kill, especially since they have some resistance to elemental magic. Genlocks are good defenders, using fortification strategies, siege weapons, and traps whenever possible. Hurlocks are taller and more muscular, forming the strongest part of the darkspawn armies. They excel at two-handed weapons, especially the "alpha" Hurlocks that lead the charge.
GS: As we know, moral choices factor heavily into the gameplay. How will your choices affect the characters around you? To what extent will they go to push their own agendas on you, especially if they disagree with your actions? Aside from chiding you or romancing you, will we see characters leaving your ranks in disgust? Starting fights with other characters or with your own character? Betraying you for another side?
DT: Party interaction is one of the best parts of Dragon Age: Origins, much like it was in Baldur's Gate. The party approval system is something new we're introducing in Dragon Age: Origins, and it influences how your party members react to your decisions and behave towards you. Each character has their own personal motivations and moral code, so if you do things they don't like, they could leave your party, or even turn on you. On the other hand, if you gain favor with them, you could get special bonuses or certain other perks, which you'll discover.
GS: Thanks, Dan.
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