The Let's Play Archive

Dragon Age: Origins

by Inferior

Part 9: The Dogs Of War


Previously posted:

The army of Ferelden is camped around the ancient ruin of Ostagar, preparing to do battle with the dreaded darkspawn. Meanwhile, rookie Grey Warden Bianca is here to wander around and ask annoying questions...

[We've made it out of the prologue, finally. Ostagar is the point where all origin stories converge and the actual plot begins. As I'm sure you've gathered by now, this plot is predominantly focused on the enormous horde of monsters bearing down on the kingdom. Someone had better take care of business!

Oh, and Bianca leveled up, so I boosted her strength enough to equip some chainmail. Slightly hardier than the leather we were running around in, but it makes Bianca's proportions look weird.]

[Before we follow Duncan to the main camp, it's worthwhile exploring the little chunk of Ostagar we walked through in the last cutscene.]

Blergh. I'm getting vertigo just looking at the architecture.

The Tower of Ishal is off-limits. The men stationed inside are securing it now.

What is the Tower of Ishal?

I think they used it once to watch for Wilders coming out of the forest.

This is a pretty large ruin.

Goes back to the time of the Tevinter Imperium. Dwarven make. That's probably why it's still standing.

We do know our stone. Why is the tower off-limits exactly?

By orders of Teyrn Loghain. The tower is being secured by his men to be used during battle.

[By the by, Teyrn is Loghain's title, not his first name. It's the Ferelden equivalent to “Duke”.]

I'm told they discovered some lower chambers, and they don't know how far down they go. So for now, everyone's to stay out.

Lower chambers?

I didn't see anything like that when I was there, but who knows?

What lies beneath...? Well, besides us. Eh heh. I should go.

Maker speed your steps.

[Near the tower, there's some elfroot growing. Elfroot is used to make healing potions.

Yes, as Dragon Age has crafting, so too must it have gathering.]

[Healing potions in Dragon Age: Origins are actually called “poultices”. A Poultice is usually some mush wrapped in cloth and pressed against a sprain or swelling to ease pain. The exact mush used varies according to whatever your local shaman/druid/wise woman thinks works well this week.

It is not really the sort of thing you would chug in the middle of battle to make the bleeding stop. I assume Bioware's item naming guy thought poultice was just an olde timey word for potion, and no-one checked wikipedia until it was much too late.

Future Dragon Age titles would replace the magical poultices with healing potions. Now, let us never speak of this again.]

Not enough beard to be a hero.

This place hasn't seen such bustle in centuries, I'll wager. Need a hand getting anywhere?

Tell me about Ostagar.

Used to be a fortress, long time ago, so I understand. Back in the days when the Wilders used to invade the lowlands. Read the codex to find out more!

You were just on the eastern side of the ruin. The Tower of Ishal is there, but Teyrn Loghain's closed it off until the battle.

This side is the king's camp. We got the Grey Wardens here, the Circle of Magi, the Chantry... you can't swing a dead cat without hitting somebody important.

Where is the king?

Probably in his tent. He and Teryn Loghain are on the southwest side of the camp.

The king likes to spend time with his soldiers, though, sometimes even without his bodyguards. Drives Teyrn Loghain wild, that does.

Yeah, break bread with the grunts and next thing you know they'll be asking for the vote.


Do I hear dogs barking?

This is Ferelden, isn't it?

[Ferelden loves dogs. And you can hear dogs barking throughout Ostagar.]

The king has his kennels on the west side of camp. Stinks from all the hounds.

These aren't cute puppies, though- some of those dogs bite the darkspawn and get too much of that blood in them... It's like poison. Slow, painful death. Terrible.

Poor things. I want to ask you something else.

Go on then.

Where is Duncan's tent?

Not far. It's straight ahead, just past the royal encampment.

Most of your fellows are in the valley with the army, but the recruits seem to be staying up here for now.

I'll be on my way.

Good luck to you then.

[Ostagar is full of things to see and people to annoy. There is a lot of foreshadowing here for future events, and not just in the conversations that are obviously setting up plot points.]

Greetings. King Cailan is not in his tent right now.

Do you know where the king is?

I believe he's with the Grey Wardens in camp, drinking. He holds them in high regard, you know, as his father did.

(Persuade) Tell me about the king. You must see him a lot.

[Our first (Persuade) option. Our persuade score is given by our Cunning stat + 25 points for each level of the Coercion skill we take. If the score beats the difficulty level of the option then we succeed. If not we fail and embarrass ourselves.

Bianca's going to be a pretty persuasive character, as talking enemies to death is always fun and rewarding.]

I suppose I do, though he's spending most of his time with the Grey Wardens. He rides with them wherever they go, in fact.

Teyrn Loghain sees the king whenever he can and argues with him over coming battles but the king just waves him off.

The king wants to end the Blight with a single huge battle the bards will sing of for centuries. Do you think that's possible?

I have my doubts. Or to put it another way, fuck no.

That's how the teyrn feels. He'll do what the king wants in the end, though.

The king thought it was funny the teyrn called him reckless. And they fought about the queen.

Do they fight often?

More than usual, lately. Good thing the teyrn's the only one who can speak to the king like that.

Well, that's enough sinister gossip for me. I should go.

As you wish.

[Just opposite from the King's tent is Loghain's.]

You approach the tent of Teryn Loghain. State your business.

Tell me about Teyrn Loghain.

But... you didn't answer my question.

I'm not the exposition vendor here. Now, tell me about Loghain.

Ugh. How can you not know of Loghain? He helped free Ferelden. He was the brains behind King Maric's armies and drove out those damned Orlesians.

King Maric rewarded him by making him a teyrn. Can you imagine? A commoner became a high nobleman just like that.

Without Loghain, you can bet the king wouldn't be winning against these darkspawn.

Is the teyrn inside? What is he doing?

He's inside, but... I don't think it's my place to discuss his activities.

(Persuade) Surely you can tell me a little about him.

I suppose... as long as we talk quietly. He and the king have been arguing for days.

The teyrn's known the king since he was swaddled, so they don't stand on ceremony. The teyrn speaks his mind, and the king yells right back.

Good to know we have a unified front.

Personally, I think the king should do what Teyrn Loghain tells him. Without the teyrn, we wouldn't be doing as well here as we are.

(Persuade) I would like an audience with the teyrn, please.

Hmmm. I suppose you have a message for him.

No, I'm just nosy.

Also a good reason. Hold on, then...

Yes, what is it? Ah, you are Duncan's new Grey Warden, I assume.

[Loghain is played by Simon “Kain” Templeman, in full-on grumble mode.]

Yes I am.

Cailan's fascination with the Wardens goes beyond the ordinary. Are you aware his father brought your order back to Ferelden?

A fascination you don't share.

The Wardens are impressive, but not as relevant as Cailan thinks.

You're no surface dwarf; I can see it in your eyes. Smart of the Grey Wardens to look for new recruits in Orzammar.

That's worryingly perceptive of you.

I don't suppose you'll be riding into the thick of battle with the rest of your fellows, will you?

I don't know. I probably won't be riding, unless you keep some very small horses around here.

If Cailan has his way, you will. We do have some very big dogs.

Now I must return to my task. Pray that our king proves amenable to wisdom, if you're the praying sort.

He's not my king.

And yet the fate of the Grey Wardens lies in his hands. Remember that.

Backbiting, tension, scheming, gossipy guards. It's like I never left home.

[Opposite the royal tents are the kennels. The nobility just loves the smell of dog.]

Hmmm. This isn't good. I'd hate to waste such a promising member of the breed.

Are you the new Warden? I could use some help.

I don't know anything about dogs.

It's not what you know so much as what you are, really.

Compelled to help strangers?


This is a mabari. Smart breed, and strong. His owner died in the last battle, and the poor hound swallowed darkspawn blood.

I have medicine that might help, but I need him muzzled first.

Why do you think I could muzzle him?

You're a Grey Warden, or soon will be. All Wardens are immune to the darkspawn taint.

I... didn't actually know that.

The most you have to worry about is some tooth marks.

Just how smart is this dog?

Centuries ago, a mage bred them to be smart and understand what they're told. They can remember and carry out complex orders.

They're magical? Seriously?

Most valuable dogs in the world. Trouble is they generally imprint to one master; re-imprinting them is very difficult.

But without the medicine, re-imprinting won't be an issue. Will you help?

I’ll give it a shot.

Go in the pen and let him smell you. We'll know right away if he'll respond.

I'd just like to say, after surviving everything thus far, it'll be really annoying if I get eaten by your stupid dog.

Let's hope this works. I would really hate to have to put him down.

You're kind of cute, in an ugly way.

(The dog looks up at you respectfully, backing down from his aggressive stance. You can see intelligence in his eyes, as well as a great deal of pain. This animal is very ill.)

(Put the muzzle on the dog.)

(The mabari growls weakly, but does not challenge you. After you are done, he whimpers plaintively.)

[You can kill the dog here, if you were some sort of monster.]

Well done! Now I can treat the dog properly--poor fellow.

Come to think of it, are you heading into the Wilds any time soon?

I might be. Why?

There's a particular herb I could use to improve the dog's chances. It's a flower that grows in the swamps here, if I remember.

If you happen across it, I could use it. It's very distinctive: all white with a blood-red center.

Where in the Wilds would I find this flower?

It usually grows in dead wood that collects at the edge of ground pools. There should be plenty this time of year.

I'll see if I can find one.

Good. In the meantime, I'll begin treating our poor friend.

[Near the kennels we find these fun-loving individuals.]

Err... it's Pick, ser.

Go tell Teyrn Loghain that the war party is ready to begin scouting. We'll send word if we find anything amiss.

Yes, ser. Right away, ser.

[Remember that elf. There will be a quiz later.]

You're the dwarf who walks with the Grey Wardens? A respectable decision.

You know much about us dwarves?

Some, like all Ash Warriors. Our training originates from the dwarves.

Is there something you wanted? We have no time for idle chatter.

Pshaw, there's always time for idle chatter.

You don't look like the other soldiers in the army.

We aren't. We're Ash Warriors, as you should well know.

I think I've heard of you. You trained with the dwarven berserker warriors?

Our discipline was passed down to us from the time of Luthias the Dwarfson. He trained with the berserkers of your kind, long ago.

So you are the same as berserkers in Orzammar?

Perhaps. I have never been, so I cannot say for certain, but I'm told our traditions are the same.

I wasn't aware the berserkers had any traditions, unless getting blind drunk and urinating in public qualifies.

Maybe we have... diverged. We harness the rage inside us, nurture it, and draw it out so we cannot fall in battle until our last foe is slain.

It is a dwarven discipline, but we have adapted it to let us fight alongside our hounds.

That is our way; I trust my hound with my life, as he trusts me with his.

Is a dog that good in combat?

A trained mabari hound is as dangerous as any sword. We do not speak of a city pet or those things that sit in an old woman's lap.

Why have you painted your dogs?

[You can see the dog behind this guy has a pattern of white stripes on his back.]

They use scent to distinguish us from our enemies. But the blood of battle can confuse them.

So we paint ourselves with kaddis, which overpowers the blood, and also paint our hounds, so they know we are the same.

If the dogs are so smart, why can't they just use their eyes to tell the difference?

...What if the enemy is painted with kaddis as well?

Why? Would you steal our kaddis and give it to the darkspawn hordes?

I hope you're joking;

If you tried, we would kill you. And that is no joke.

OK, fine, I get it. I'll change the subject.

What are you preparing for?

To scout the Wilds and watch the progression of the darkspawn horde. With luck, we'll find and slaughter many stragglers.

The hunt will be good if my hound survives the blood of his prey. If he dies, I shall mourn tonight.

Survive the blood? What do you mean?

Darkspawn blood is poisonous, but not always fatal. Those who survive grow immune to its effects.

The Wardens say the tainted blood drives even the survivors mad eventually... but not today. Today we hunt, and we kill.

Wouldn't it be smarter to leave your dogs behind?

They fight at our side. We do not fret over their safety as if they were children.

But still it seems... aw, forget it. I should be going.

My thanks. There is hunting to be done, and I'll not be kept from it.

[Behind the royal tents is an area where soldiers are training.]

I think this army has a morale problem.

A serious morale problem.

[Can you spot who I'm going to talk to in this screenshot? I told you there'd be a test.]

Hey... I know you.

Hello? I'm sorry, is there something you needed?

What do you mean?

I deliver messages around the camp. You have a message for me?

[This is indeed what Pick does. After meeting with the Ash Warriors he'll roam around the camp passing messages until he finishes up here.]

(Lie) Yes, I do.

Then what is--? Oh, wait. Are you the one I'm supposed to give Ser Garlen's sword to? Because I think the smith's done with it.

(Persuade) Yes, you're supposed to give the sword to me.

Oh, that's such a relief! You really saved me from the switch, for sure!

Ha, no I'm just kidd—wow. Wow. This is a really good sword... Um.

I'd best get back to my duties again before I get in more trouble.

Er... sure. Bye, Pick.

Sorry, Ser Garlen.

NEXT TIME: We meet our new Grey Warden buddies and learn about tranquility.

King Cailan Theirin
Loghain Mac Tir