Part 11: Hello BoysPART 11: HELLO BOYS
Bianca, an exiled dwarven noble. Daveth, a lecherous thief. And Jory, a knight who resembles a frog. Together, they are...
HEROES FOR HIREGREY WARDEN RECRUITS. And now it's time for a training mission...
You found Alistair, did you? Good. I'll assume you are ready to begin preparations.
Assuming, of course, that you're quite finished riling up mages, Alistair.
What can I say? The revered mother ambushed me. The way she wields guilt they should stick her in the army.
She forced you to sass the mage, did she? We cannot afford to antagonize anyone, Alistair. We don't need to give anyone more ammunition against us.
You're right, Duncan. I apologize.
Probation. Horrible Jerk: Alistair. Punishment Reason: Mage sass.
Now then, since you are all here, we can begin.
You four will be heading into the Korcari Wilds to perform two tasks. The first is to obtain three vials of darkspawn blood, one for each recruit.
What do we need darkspawn blood for?
For the Joining itself. I'll explain more once you've returned.
Surely you could've acquired some blood before now.
Of course. You must work together to collect the components, however. It's as much a part of the Joining as what comes after.
Nothing bonds a group like recreational killing, I suppose. What's the second task?
There was once a Grey Warden archive in the Wilds, abandoned long ago when we could no longer afford to maintain such remote outposts.
It has recently come to our attention that some scrolls been left behind, magically sealed to protect them. Alistair, I want you to retrieve these scrolls if you can.
What kind of scrolls are these?
Old treaties, if you're curious. Promises of support made to the Grey Wardens long ago.
They were once considered only formalities. With so many having forgotten their commitments to us, I suspect it may be a good idea to have something to remind them with.
So, the next part of the Joining is law school, right? 'Cause I can think of a dozen ways to wiggle out of a contract that old.
I'm hoping the large, angry army of monsters will forestall any legal challenges to our position.
A time-honored negotiating tactic, at least with dwarves. How will we find this archive, anyway?
It will be an overgrown ruin by now, but the sealed chest should remain intact. Alistair will guide you to the area you need to search.
And what if they're no longer there?
It's possible the scrolls may have been destroyed or even stolen, though the seal's magic should have protected them. Only a Grey Warden can break such a seal.
I don't understand... why leave such things in a ruin if they're so valuable?
It was assumed we would someday return. A great many things were assumed that have not held true.
What, the last Grey Wardens there couldn't take a few scrolls with them when they left? Were they that pressed for luggage space?
We are not a wealthy organisation, not anymore, and do you have any idea what coach companies charge for excess baggage? Do you?
Ugh, fine. Find the archive and three vials of blood. Understood.
Watch over your charges, Alistair. Return quickly, and safely.
May the Maker watch over your path. I will see you when you return.
[Silly hat brigade... assemble! I've given Alistair, Jory and Daveth some of the better armor I had lying around my inventory, and sorted out their weapons.
In classic Bioware fashion you can stop and have a chat with your sidekicks to find out their Interesting BackstoriesTM. Except for Alistair, who just mutters something about getting back to the mission.]
Where are you from, Daveth?
I grew up in a village 'bout a day's trip to the east. Little blot you wouldn't even find on a map.
Haven't been back in years. I struck out for the city as soon as I could outrun my pa.
I've been in Denerim for, what... six years now? Never liked it much, but there's more purses there than anywhere else.
So... you're a cutpurse?
...and a pickpocket, thank you very much. Or was, anyhow. Who'd ever guess I'd end up a Grey Warden?
How did the Grey Wardens find you?
I found them. I cut Duncan's purse while he was standing in a crowd.
He grabs my wrist, but I squirm out and bolt. The old bugger can run, but the garrison caught me first.
I'm a wanted man in Denerim, you see, so they were going to string me up right there.
Not very good at the whole don't get spotted aspect of thievery then?
I must just have a memorable face.
So what happened then?
Duncan stopped them. Invoked the Right of Conscription. I gave the garrison the finger while I was walking away.
Don't know why Duncan wants someone like me. But he says finesse is important, and that I'm fast with a blade. You bet your boots I am.
Besides, it beats getting strung up.
What do you think of Duncan?
All right, for an old bugger. He's faster than he looks, too.
Useful to know... maybe. Let's go.
Hey, I'm following you, aren't I?
[Daveth is another rogue. He has both a basic archer skill (Pinning Strike, which lets you freeze an enemy in place for a short time), and some dual wielding skills (the basic Dual Wielder buff that lessens the penalty for using two weapons simultaneously).
Given Bianca's an archer rogue, I'm going to have Daveth as a dual weapon dude.]
I am ready.
You said you were from Redcliffe?
I hail from Redcliffe, but Duncan recruited me in Highever, a city off the northern coast. Have you traveled there?
[Highever is the city the Human Noble PC's family rules over. If we were playing a Human Noble, Jory would be kissing our ass right about now.]
I've never been to the surface before.
I was in Arl Eamon's retinue when he attended King Maric's funeral. It was in Highever that I met my Helena.
[Arl = Earl. This has been your daily Stupid Fantasy Analogous Words explanation.]
I was smitten. She has the most beautiful eyes, my Helena. For years, I found any excuse to return there. We married a year ago.
Arl Eamon gave me leave to serve in Highever, but I was attempting to persuade Helena to come to Redcliffe with me. At least, until I was recruited.
How did the Grey Wardens find you?
Last month, Duncan visited Highever, and the bann held a tournament in his honor. I won the grand melee.
[Bann = Baron. This has been your second daily Stupid Fantasy Analogous Words explanation.]
It was hard to leave my wife. We married only a year ago, and she is heavy with child now. Ferelden needs my blade, and I shall not falter.
Hmm. What do you think of Duncan?
He has a seemingly impossible task, with a scarce handful of Grey Wardens, yet he does not complain or ﬂinch from his duty.
What do you think we should do now?
We need to find those documents and the darkspawn blood. It should be... interesting.
With any luck.
[Jory is a fighter that uses two-handed weapons, which tilts him more towards damage dealing than the tankier fighters we've had previously.]
[Oh, and we've got Alistair as well. He's a sword and board, plank and tank, swing and thing, generic fighter man.]
A SHORT JOURNEY LATER...
[The Wilds. A gloomy swamp full of wolves, darkspawn and the odd enigmatic ancient ruin.
There are also a few sidequests to show off as well.]
Keep at it, meat shields!
I can use a bow as well. I'm just saying.
Looks like what's left of the scouts. You'd think they would've seen it coming.
Hey, this one's moving!
Who... is that? Grey... Wardens...?
Well, he's not half as dead as he looks, is he?
My scouting band was attacked by darkspawn!
They came out of the ground... Please, help me! I've got to... return to camp...
Let's try to bandage him up, at least.
I have bandages in my pack.
Thank you! *Groans* I... I've got to get out of here!
Did you hear? An entire patrol of seasoned men killed by darkspawn!
Calm down, Ser Jory. We'll be fine if we're careful.
Those soldiers were careful, and they were still overwhelmed. How many darkspawn can the four of us slay? A dozen? A hundred? There's an entire army in these forests!
There are darkspawn about, but we're in no danger of walking into the bulk of the horde.
How do you know? I'm not a coward, but this is foolish and reckless. We should go back.
We're far from helpless here. We'll be fine.
I still do not relish the thought of encountering an army.
Know this: All Grey Wardens can sense darkspawn. Whatever their cunning, I guarantee they won't take us by surprise. That's why I'm here.
You see, ser knight? We might die, but we'll be warned about it first.
That is... reassuring.
That doesn't mean I'm here to make this easy, however. So let's get a move on.
[Near the dead soldiers you find the remains of Missionary Jogby. And thus begins the sad sad tale of the Rigby family.
On the corpse is a letter.]
[It's an orienteering quest! You wonder why Rigby made it so hard for his son to find him. Maybe if he'd been a little less obtuse, Jogby wouldn't be dead. A valuable lesson for us all.]
That flower really stands out.
Beauty amidst the filth. The Maker's grace shines even here.
Heh. They should've sent a poet.
Give me a moment and I'm sure I can come up with a limerick. Just need a good rhyme for swamp.
[The flower is required to heal the poisoned dog we ran into two updates ago.]
[There are darkspawn mobs all over the place. Fortunate really, as we need to collect their blood. They all drop blood vials regularly, and we only need 3.]
I'm not an educated man, but I'm pretty sure blood shouldn't fizz like that.
[On the western side of the map, you find this small camp, overrun by darkspawn.]
[This is the camp of Missionary Rigby, father of the deceased Missionary Jogby.
No, I don't know what's up with the theme naming either.
Anyway, in the chest is Rigby's journal and a curious amulet.]
[The sidequest this unlocks is utterly stupid. You have to find each trail sign in order, click on it to unlock the next, then when all are unlocked, a cache of goodies is revealed. There is a problem though.]
[See what they're looking at... No? That's because there's NOTHING THERE. You have to hit the Tab key to highlight interactable points to find the trial signs.
At least they're all marked on your map... except for the last one. The one that has the actual treasure hidden in it. You just have to hope you bumble across that one.
I think we'll skip to the end on this quest.]
Wow, they managed to fit a lot into one log.
[This is decent armor for mages, and there's also a nice helmet for fighters and bow for rogues. Something for everyone really.
There is also a Chasind Crusher maul, which is a powerful 2 handed weapon that also has some powerful penalties to hit chance. Better to stick with weapons that don't whiff in my book.]
Damn these wolves! What has them so riled?
I can think of at least a dozen possible culprits in the Wilds. Darkspawn ain't the only things out here.
[Past the wolves is a treasure chest, the end point of the quest we started by checking out Missionary Jogby's corpse. You can find it just by wandering around, you don't need to follow the directions. This isn't the Lost Woods.]
[In the chest is an excellent Greatsword for Jory, and also a letter that wraps up Jogby's story.]
The Chasind knew which way the wind was blowing.
[Wolves fighting darkspawn. No matter who wins, we all lose.]
[Near the wolf battle is the corpse of Missionary Rigby. On his body is his Last Will and Testament, which is an awful morbid thing to just carry around.]
[So yeah, you have to travel back to Rigby's camp to find the lockbox.]
(You rummage around in the rubble and find Rigby's secret cache. Inside is an iron Iockbox scaled with wax.)
(Take the lockbox to bring to Jetta.)
(You stow the Iockbox in your pack.)
What, are we heading to Redcliffe now?
I'm sure we can pass it to a courier or something back at Ostagar. Let's go.
[We could've smashed open the box and scored a few gems and some money. We would also would've got a Lovely Amulet, which is a worthless item that apparently symbolizes the love between a wife and her husband.)
[Back on the road of the main plot, we come to this bridge. The Bridge of Death!]
[There's a Hurlock Emissary on the bridge that throws a few spells at you and then retreats when you close in. This is to bait you into running straight into a shitload of traps, hence why everyone is on fire.]
[And then you get swarmed by darkspawn. This bridge actually succeeded in giving me a TPW when I first started playing Dragon Age. I'd blame the AI except you can take full control of everyone at any time, so it was mostly just a result of me being lazy and not realising DA:O will occasionally kick your face in.]
Phew... looks like we weren't the first to fall for that.
This soldier had some interesting reading material.... and a bag of ash?
So... who's up for a little sprinkling?
Heretical nonsense. I want no part of it.
I could do with a few wishes. Let's try it.
Two for, one against. You have the deciding vote, Alistair.
Hey, I have no vote. I'm just here to observe. If you want to feed yourself to a demon, I have no objection.
And the motion carries. To the overhang!
[You see a pile of stones covered in a fine layer of dust and ash.)
(Sprinkle more ash on the pile of stones.)
[Gazarath is the single toughest enemy on the map. He's got some powerful fire attacks, but he's alone and has no AoE abilites, so it's pretty easy to surround him and beat him down.]
I suppose we've all learned a valuable lesson.
Hey, the demon dropped some sweet boots!
Or maybe not.
[You get some good mage boots from Gazarath. As none of our characters are mages they're kind of pointless right now.]
Those are the Warden ruins, dead ahead.
That chest seems to be the only thing left intact.
Worth a look.
I'm not seeing any scrolls...
Well, well, what have we here?
Are you a vulture, I wonder? A scavenger poking amidst a corpse whose bones were long since cleaned?
Or merely an intruder, come into these darkspawn filled Wilds of mine in search of easy prey?
...What are you wearing?
NEXT TIME: The Witch of the Wilds
NEW CODEX CONTENT:
The Korcari Wilds