Part 109: Loose EndsPART 109: LOOSE ENDS
Our heroes have thwarted the Tevinter plot and uncovered evidence of Regent Loghain's involvement in slave trading. All that remains to be done is call the Landsmeet. Well, almost all.
[Today's update is a wrap-up of all the outstanding sidequests and mechanics I haven't bothered to show off yet. Need to get this all cleared away before the endgame starts.
Along for the ride are Alistair, Wynne and Morrigan. The reason for this 2-mage party will become spectacularly apparent later.]
The Irregulars thank you.
Any more work for me?
[We've touched on the Blackstone Irregulars sidequests before, but I've never really gone into detail about them. That's because they're all pretty boring- fetch quests, generic fights, etc- without any real plot.
Completing all of them unlocks this capstone quest, which actually is interesting. Slightly. Let's go!]
Here's Daddy Blackstone.
Please tell me we're not calling him that.
Ah, Warden. We finally meet.
I know why you're here. Taoran sent you. My own son wants me dead.
I suppose I should be proud, that I bred in him such ambition.
'Tis surely the fondest dream of every parent, to be murdered by their own child.
Why would he want you dead?
He is an ambitious child, hungry for the guild to be the way it was in his grandfather's day: a violent band, bolstered by secret funding from the nobility.
He disagrees with my belief that we can make our way without such back-room dealing. We can, instead, work with honor and integrity.
I happen to agree with you.
I appreciate your saying that, Warden. It's good to know that my beliefs are shared by someone of your station.
I have wrestled with my own emotions about my son for some time, in fear that I may have to turn a blade on him myself.
But I cannot bring myself to do it. Kill my own son? Even if it's what's best for my men?
I could take care of him for you. I hate patricide.
Now, filicide on the other hand...
I ache even discussing this, but... Taoran has killed his opponents and bullied my men. It has to stop.
Challenge him to a duel, and defeat him. Return to one of our posts, and I will reward you.
Consider it done.
As much as I appreciate your help, I cannot see you after the deed is done. Despite everything, you will still be the one who killed my son.
[Translation: there is no follow up to this conversation. Kill dude, finish quest.]
Last I heard, he was headed toward Lothering. You should find him there.
Come, men. Evil thoughts make me thirsty for ale.
[We actually have a choice about whether to kill the father (honor!) or the son (power!) or neither (apathy?) in this quest. Our decision changes absolutely nothing in this game or the sequels, so do what feels good, man.
Before we head out, there's another sidequest to be picked up in the market.]
The mages' collective thanks you. Maker's smile upon you.
[We've touched on the Mages' Collective sidequests before, but I've never really gone into detail about them. That's because they're all pretty boring- fetch quests, generic fights, etc- without any real plot.
Completing all of them unlocks this capstone quest, which actually is interesting... Oh, wait, no it isn't. Let's do it anyway!]
ON THE ROAD TO REDCLIFFE...
[Like the father said, Blackstone Jr. is found near the ruins of Lothering.]
Fancy randomly encountering you here.
My friend! Look, everyone, it's our Grey Warden associate.
Do you have business with me?
I am here to kill you.
Hm. I suppose my father got to you. Did he tell you about honor and integrity? About my evil plans to conquer the guild?
His beliefs are outdated and destructive. Since I put my plans in place, this guild has blossomed. We are better funded and better equipped than ever!
You were part of that. Stopping his supply chains. Bribing nobles in Denerim. Take pride, my friend. We are remaking the Irregulars into a political force!
Ugh, politics. You have to die.
You're entitled to your opinion, but I think my men might disagree with you.
Men! To me!
[So, while Alistair, Bianca and Barkley are having the shit kicked out of them, let's have a chat about COMBO MAGIC.
Certain magic spells cause bonus effects when cast in close proximity to each other. Some of these effects are explained by the game- for example, the skill tree states that casting Fireball and Grease in the same area will cause exactly what you think it would cause. Others aren't explained, but can be easily deduced- like, freezing an enemy solid then hitting them with a powerful strike will cause enormous damage.
And then there are those that aren't explained and aren't obvious. You just have to get lucky.]
[Let's say you buffed your mage with Spell Might, and then cast Blizzard and Tempest in the same area. In that case you would get very lucky indeed.]
By our powers combined...
I'm not saying the thing.
Holy fucking shit.
[This is called Storm of the Century, and it is the single most damaging magic spell in the entire game. It also paralyzes its targets for even more fun. Used wisely and you can destroy entire encounters before they start.
The downside is that the AoE is enormous, so you have a reasonable chance of killing your entire party as well.]
[I've never bothered much with combo magic before; I find it too much of a pain to set up the more complex moves, and the MP costs are prohibitively high.
On the other hand, I just wiped out an entire encounter with two spells. I think I've been playing the game wrong.]
Well, that worked better than expected. Is Taoran dead?
He was hit by lightning 17 times. He is exceptionally dead.
[Our reward is his evil hat and a few sovereigns.]
[In Redcliffe we can finish off the Mage's Collective quest we picked up by talking to this templar.]
And here you are again. More generosity from my friends at the collective?
I have a package for you from the mages' collective.
[We can also choose to give the package to the hardline Knight Commander in Denerim that the quest notice warned us about. This gets us some extra money, but it does mean we kinda sell out all the free mages to be horribly killed by religious zealots. Let's not do that.]
Oh? Oh! Yes, of course. I'll see to this matter personally.
Consider it handled, my friend. And good day.
[And that's it for the Mages Collective. ]
[Onward to Orzammar, for a sidequest I promised to do twenty updates ago and then forgot about. I've also shuffled Leliana into the party, because it's her lucky day.]
Home again... I'd half expected this to all be statues of Bhelen by now.
I have heard much about the halls of the dwarven kings, but the stories do it no justice.
It is so strange--harsh, yet beautiful.
[Talking to Leliana in Orzammar with high approval triggers this conversation.]
Yes, it is very grand.
And have you seen those tiny pig-like burrowing animals? They are adorable. I wish I could have one as a pet.
But they must be hard to catch and... oh, just ignore me. I'm so silly sometimes. Let's just go.
I'll see what I can to do.
[We can find us a rootin' tootin' nug wrangler in Dust Town.]
Yes? Why's someone like you hanging about Dust Town so much?
Do you know anything about the small rodents down here?
Nugs? Yes. They don't got much meat on them, but down here, you can't be picky.
Better than nothing.
Could you catch one for me?
What for? You going to cook him up yourself?
My friend would like one as a pet.
Yeah, I can find a mug for you. Could even get one from outside the city. Those ones in the deeps don't eat as much garbage.
Don't know what they eat but they always seem healthier, you know? Shiny coats; bright eyes. How much you giving me?
Real silver, huh? I'll get you a big one for that.
Give me some time. I'll hunt him down for you.
[The Idle Dwarf disappears and you have to reload the area to get him to return.]
I got him. He's all squirmy, but he's a big fellow.
That is a nug and a half. Here's forty silver. Look after yourself.
Forty silver? Real silver? I... I could buy something proper with that. A good meal... maybe a real blanket!
I knew you'd be good on your word. Nice doing business.
He's adorable... Don't eat him, Barkley.
Oh! It's one of those subterranean bunny-pigs! Ohhh, look at him! Come here, you...
He's pretty cute. Have fun.
Thank you so much. You've made my day.
BACK AT CAMP...
I know that look--you have something on your mind, don't you?
We need to talk.
No. I don't want to know where that name came from.
What will you do, when this is all over?
Hmm, I have not given this a lot of thought. What will I do...?
We've traveled far and wide... does it need to end?
I would like to see the world too. To be honest, I'm getting a little sick of all the cheeses in Ferelden.
There's so much out there--adventures to be had and stories to be told. I want to be a part of it all.
I might need some company... and you're not too irritating. You're welcome to come along if you like.
When you put it that way, how can I say no?
It is settled then. You and I... wandering the world, seeking our fortunes. I can't wait.
Hey Zevran, got any post saving-the-world plans?
I can help you decide. Care to join me in my tent?
No, I... no. I mean no offense, I simply... no.
Is something wrong?
I do not wish to talk about it.
Are you sure? You look like you do want to talk about it.
Enough! I said... I am not interested. Can you not understand that?
There are other things for you to focus on besides me, I am certain. Do... do those.
[Pictured: the first and last time a Bioware love interest doesn't want to have sex with the protagonist.]
To hell with men. What are you up to, Barkley?
(Barkley wags his tail and looks at Sten.)
...yes, it is good to have my sword at my side again.
I call her Asala--the soul, my soul.
She is forged from rare blue steel, and has served me faithfully for many years.
(He sits down and watches Sten attentively.)
Yes, you understand what it is like to have a weapon that is part of you.
Few others do.
Why do you never talk this much with the rest of the party?
Because intelligent conversation shouldn't be wasted on the deaf.
You seem different now.
I thought that this might be it.
Are you certain you wish to talk about this? I really do not know what to say.
Are you having second thoughts about us?
No, that's not it.
An assassin... must learn to forget about sentiment. It is dangerous. You take your pleasures where you can, when life is good. To expect anything more would be reckless.
I thought it was the same between us. Something to enjoy, a pleasant diversion and little more. And yet...
I know what you mean.
I grew up amongst those who sold the illusion of love, and then I was trained to make my heart cold in favor of the kill. Everything I have been taught says what I feel is wrong.
Yet I cannot help it. Since you asked me into your tent, I have been nothing but confused. Do you understand me at all?
I am no wiser than you in that area, Zevran.
All I need to know is if there might be some future for us, some possibility of... I do not know what.
I don't know. But I know how I feel about you.
Then we need say no more. That is all I wished to hear.
I am sorry for acting so strangely. I think I will be better, now. Much better.
Does that mean we can have sex now?
Care to join me in my tent?
Arr! Pirate Zevran reporting for duty! Prepare to be boarded!
Oh my gods, Zevran.
Everyone likes pirates.
BACK IN DENERIM...
[There's a few final quests to clear up here before we're done.]
[The bartender in the Gnawed Noble has a few outstanding errands for us to deal with.]
[We've touched on the Favors for Interested Parties sidequests before, but I've never really gone into detail about them. That's because they're all pretty boring- fetch quests, generic fights, etc- without any real plot. Woah, deja vu.
These quests are a little different from the other noticeboards in that there's two 'lines'. One has you doing errands for old gangster 'D'. The other has you helping young turk 'K'. Once you've done three missions for either of them, their final quest unlocks which, surprise, surprise, has you sent to kill the one you weren't working for.
This choice has no repercussions on anything. We're going to side with D because, well, everyone loves the D, amirite?]
[Wandering Denerim after accepting the quest will see you ambushed by K's cohorts.]
Little too close to my boss for comfort, friend. Time to teach you about letting dogs lie.
[I've bought the A-team for this mission- Alistair (best tank), Sten (best DPS) and Wynne (best healer). These crims don't stand a chance.]
His pockets are glowing. Is that normal?
K's not going to be so special when we're through with him.
I sent my best. and yet here you are. My brethren cant stand the competition, hmm? Fine, let's get to it.
Your hideout is just this one room? Color me unimpressed.
Do you know what rents are like in the city? Honestly.
[K's fairly hardy, and can pull the stealth-then-backstab trick for high spike damage, but with a high level Wynne along our party is functionally immortal.]
[And that's it for all the noticeboard quests. You might have noticed the Fighter-Mage-Thief theme for the three groups. I have no idea why that exists- all classes can do all quests, and there's never anything that depends on class skills in any of them.
Whatever, we're done.]
[One last place to visit...]
This is actually a very clean back alley.
[Many, many updates ago, we spoke to a crazed adventurer in Orzammar and got a lead on something terrible lurking in the back alleys of Denerim. I've held off doing the quest until now, because it is Quite Hard, but now we're ready.]
(Notes acquired from dead or terrified adventurers have directed you to this unassuming door. The house is marked with the initials "'VM.)
(There is no answer, although there is clearly a light inside.)
I'm here to discuss the stories of Gaxkang! I'm not leaving!
(After a pause, the door unlocks.)
That's a little unnerving.
Grey Warden, isn't it? Strange you would force such a visit in a time of Blight.
I suppose I am used to inspiring a different kind of seeker.
Your stories attract them. And then they disappear.
(Chuckles) The adequate ones find the beacons, and then I find them. But you... you are already brighter than the signal at Ishal.
Eyes are on you from a very high vantage, Grey Warden. I cannot hide in your wake, but I will not be a footnote!
[Gaxkang has two forms he flips between in this fight- an Arcane Horror that fights like a super-powerful mage, and a Revenant that fights like a super-powerful warrior. He also has insanely high resistances in both forms- trying to take him out with Mana Clash doesn't have a huge chance of success, unlike with almost every other mage.]
[Gaxkang's easier when he's a Revenant- even though his damage is higher, he can only focus on a single character at a time.]
[Wynne and Alistair's buffing abilities came in very useful here. Gaxkang doesn't have that much health, it's just that his defence is exceptionally high- so if you can get in a bunch of critical hits or other armor-ignoring attacks, you can take him out fairly quickly. Ideally before he turns you into paste.]
[Our reward is this awesome sword, to add to all of our other awesome swords.
Interestingly, the game ranks Gaxkang as the most powerful enemy fought on the player stats page, even more powerful than the High Dragons we've killed. I think he's actually an easier fight than them, because he doesn't have access to all their bullshit special moves but, hey, I don't write the rules.
Still, we've done it- we've killed the most dangerous thing in all Ferelden. The Archdemon is going to be a real anti-climax now.]
THE ARL'S ESTATE...
Ah, there you are! I was about to send out a search party.
I've been hearing of a great commotion in the alienage. What exactly happened there?
I have proof Loghain was involved in slave trading.
Maker forgive me: I should be appalled that such a thing could exist here, but I'm overjoyed you can implicate Loghain.
We must end the civil war quickly. What the Blight does not corrupt in this land, politics surely will.
The last of our allies have arrived in the city, we cannot delay any longer: I will call for the Landsmeet to convene.
Bring Alistair and join me at the palace as soon as you are ready, Warden.
THE LANDSMEET VOTE!
This is it- Ferelden's destiny is in your hands. What you vote for here will dictate the strategy we follow at the Landsmeet.
Who will take the throne?
a. Alistair, the bastard heir
b. Anora, the king's widow
c. Alistair and Anora, a political marriage
Alistair is kind, but does not want power. Anora is smart, but really, really does want power. Neither wants to get married. So, what's the best worst option?
and... What will happen to Loghain?
a. Execute him
b. Spare him
He caused all this death and destruction... but he is Ferelden's Greatest GeneralTM. We might still need him.
Also, it may get a bit awkward if we cut his head off in front of Anora.
Voting closes at the weekend!
And please do not nudge nudge wink wink spoil the consequences of this vote.
NEXT TIME: Political smackdown
NEW CODEX CONTENT:
Storm of the Century
Correspondence Interruptus (there is a Favors sidequest to find all 12 of these, which seemed like an excuse for Bioware writers to make as many innuendos as possible. Enjoy!)