Part 7: This Update Is Brought To You By PC GamerPART 7: THIS UPDATE IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY PC GAMER
After successfully locating the mythical Shield of Aeducan, Bianca was framed for murder by her little brother, Bhelen. But didn't you want to know how the Shield got lost in the first place? You didn't? Oh.
[To publicize DA: Origins and show off the modding toolkit, Bioware released this little adventure module free with the December 2009 edition of PC Gamer magazine.
Hey, remember magazine cover discs? Weren't they great? You got demos and mods and freeware all bundled up in a little box. I know magazines put everything up on their website for download these days, but it's not the same.
Oh, man. I've just been overcome by nostalgia.]
A FEW WEEKS BEFORE BIANCA RECOVERED THE SHIELD OF AEDUCAN...
Tapster's Tavern is the one place where all levels of the rigidly stratified Dwarven society can meet.
As such, it is an excellent place for deals to be made - often of a somewhat illicit nature.
You've heard word that a Dwarven noble of wealthy means is looking to hire an adventurer for a small foray into the Deep Roads.
It should pay well - and, perhaps, give you some insight into the politics of Orzammar. Knowledge that can be worth far more than gold...
Well, this is it Jeb. Hanging around shady pubs, looking for quests. You're a real adventurer now.
[You're free to create any character to be the hero of this module. I've gone with a male human fighter, because I am unimaginative.]
So... pal. Heard any rumors lately?
[The module isn't voice acted, so no one moves their mouths when they talk. It's a little unnerving.]
(belch) By the Stone, I'm drunk. You, you seem like a smart sort. Any idea what I was doing?
...Having another drink?
Of course I was!
Why do I feel like I came to the wrong bar?
This looks more promising.
Ah, a surfacer. Perfect. What is your name, mercenary?
Really? Most hired swords go for something a bit more... colorful. Ah, well.
You have some business to discuss with me?
I heard you're organizing an expedition to the deep roads.
A small and quiet expedition, yes. I'm sure you'll understand that discretion is important here.
I represent one of the, shall we say, "lesser" noble houses. We haven't much power or inﬂuence. But I've lucked into a bit of information that might change that.
[Dwarven helmets look really sinister. Especially the way you can see the wearer's eyes surrounded by shadow.]
I think I may have uncovered the location of an artifact that's very important to a major house.
If I can confirm the rumor, or perhaps even retrieve the artifact, I'll have a great deal of leverage with them.
But I can't have it slip before I'm sure. If it's false we can't risk being discredited and if it's true I don't want anyone else claiming the glory.
You look capable. There's money and prestige in taking a little trip to the Deep Roads on my behalf.
Hot damn! Secret missions and ancient treasure. So long as the pay is right, I'll do it.
You're ambitious, I like that.
It's not a good idea to go off into the Deep Roads alone, even the Grey Wardens only do that when they've decided it's time to die.
There's some other able lads around this place, you should recruit one to assist.
What about your man, there?
And leave Bh- er, my employer unguarded?
Remind me, why did I hire you again? Ughh... Anyway.
Small though my house might be, we have enemies, same as all the others.
I'll be waiting. But don't delay long.
Who here's going to want to come on a dangerous mission at such short noti-- oh, right.
[belch] By the Stone, Im drunk. You, you seem like a smart sort. Any idea what I was doing?
I've got a job and you're helping me.
Really? Yeah, okay! Booze an adventure sounds about right!
I feel only slightly guilty about this.
[Orson is a tanky fighter, and he will come in very useful for the upcoming dungeon.]
Are you ready to proceed to the Deep Roads?
Yes, I'm done here.
Very well. Let us go then, with all due haste.
It's called a loading screen, Orson.
[Hey kids! Spot the five differences between this image and the one two pics above!]
The notes I found indicate the artifact is in a tomb in a ruined thaig.
The thaig was sealed off from the deep roads when the darkspawn overran it, but this tunnel should lead to where it once was. Just go through here and see if you can find it, then return here.
The notes say the tomb is protected by a puzzle, but you needn't worry about trying to get through it. You're hired for the brawn part of things.
[Off on our adventure! Most of this takes place in the same section of Deep Roads Bianca's been tooling about in for the last 2 updates.]
[The enemies are mostly the same too. Although they do change it up a little...]
[Shrieks are the stealthy darkspawn. They can fade from view at will and deal a lot of damage in close range. Not much HP though.]
Orson, you're incorrigible.
[Both Jeb and Orson start out at level 5, so there's nothing too challenging in this scenario.]
Some kinda... bug? Pretty... big. Or izzit one of them optical lusions?
I'm not afraid of no bug.
OH MAKER HELP ME. IT'S LICKING MY FACE.
[Some big spiders can use Overwhelm which lets them paralyse a character for a while. Any attack talents that knockback or stun the critter will cancel the effect, assuming you've got the stamina to use 'em.]
Let's never mention that again.
An ornate treasure chest... surrounded by bones. What do you think, Orson?
Yes. Yes it does.
[Deep stalkers are weak but numerous. They can use spitting attacks to slow your movement and attack speed.]
They'll be singing songs of that battle for years to come.
Alright, let's see what loot we get.
Oh wow! A copy of PC Gamer magazine. My second favourite monthly journal about video games!
It sure is a fine publication.
It certainly is!
[Picking up the magazine unlocks the Dragon Age codex. See end of the update for details.]
[Hurlocks are the other standard darkspawn troop units. They're a bit beefier than the Genlocks we've seen in previous updates. Also taller. Less likely to use ranged attacks, more likely to get stuck into the fray.]
[We also pick up some better armor for Jeb from this battle.]
Who are these guys meant to be, Orson?
Urrr.. On the right is... Paragon... Axey. He invented axes.
And on the left is Paragon... Blinky. He invented... fire.
This is my most educational adventure yet.
Funny. For some reason, I was expecting that door to be locked.
I wish I had my asbestos underwear on right now.
[The game throws a new enemy at you here, a Genlock Emissary. They can cast spells to debuff you and heal their allies. They can also occasionally blast you with lightning, for even more fun. Kill them first.]
I really wish these things would quit appearing from nowhere.
This looks like the place.
[The Golem can slam with best of them. It has ridic defense so most of your attacks will only be dealing half their normal damage. Best strategy is for you and Orson to stand on opposite sides of him, as he'll expose his back to whoever he's not attacking. Back attacks against all enemies do increased damage and have a higher chance to hit.
Flanking enemies is the go-to strategy against anything difficult in this game. Flanking and raining magical death onto them, but we'll get to that later.]
Well, there goes the warranty on my sword. I don't think swinging it at an animate stone wall is good for the finish.
What are we looking for, anyway?
Well, well! A golem!
This wreck is going to be a pain to clear away. And I'll have to carve some clues to solve this puzzle, my sibling's a bit dense....
You! What are you doing here? And why have you taken off your helmet?
For drama. And as to your other question...
The plan isn't quite what I originally led you to believe. There is evidence of a lost artifact being here, yes... but I'm going to plant it.
I don't have many men I can trust enough to this task, not enough to risk in these dangerous tunnels. So I sent you on ahead.
A surfacer nobody will miss. Those above ground will assume you're still below. Those below... well, I don't think anyone will care enough to pry.
I don't like where this is going.
In any event, I'm not going to explain myself further. There's no point to it.
You're tired and battered from fighting darkspawn. You've got a drunk at your side, and if you, somehow, happen to best me, you'll be on the run for the rest of your life.
Just hold still. It'll hurt less.
[Take out Dwarven Warrior first, as he has much less HP, then flank the Noble for best results.]
[Nothing to it.]
Okay, okay! You're tough, I can respect that. But you know too much. We're at a bit of an impasse here.
Impasse, nothing. I'm winning.
Oh, I've still got reserves, mark my words. Always keep something up your sleeves. I'll use them if you push me.
Well, perhaps we can cut a deal.
Indeed. If you were to go to the surface and lay low for a while, that'd serve my purposes well enough.
I'll of course have to ruin your reputation down here to make sure you don't sneak back in, you understand.
That's your best offer? No deal.
Always have a backup. Always.
NEXT TIME: We return to our regularly scheduled protagonist.
NEW CODEX CONTENT:
Dragon Age [This is what we unlocked by finding the PC Gamer. Six Bioware leads explain which of the 6 origins are their favourite. It's quite interesting.]