The Let's Play Archive

Dragon Age: Origins

by Inferior

Part 137: Mother's Ruin


Previously posted:

Bianca, Justice, Nathaniel and Anders venture into the ruined city of Drake's Fall in search of the Mother, leader of the darkspawn armies besieging Amaranthine. En route they encounter the mysterious Architect, who's clearly gearing up to deliver one heck of an infodump...

I only ask that you hear me out. Should you still wish to slay me afterwards, you may try.

...Fine. I will hear you out.

My kind has ever been driven to seek out the Old Gods. This is our nature. When we find one, a Blight is begun.

[Reminder: the Old Gods are ancient dragons, sleeping far underground. Their actual divinity is debatable. A Blight starts when an Old God is infected with the Darkspawn taint and becomes an Archdemon to lead the horde.]

Each time, we attack your surface lands, and you fight back until we are defeated.

To break the cycle, my brethren must be freed of their compulsion. For that, I need Grey Warden blood.

You're trying to stop the Blights?

Hundreds of thousands of my kind are killed before each Blight is ended. It is a plague on our race.

We do not begin a Blight because we crave power or destruction. We obey the call of the Old Gods--without choice.

Why do you need Warden's blood?

In order to become what you are, you drink the blood of my kind. To transform.

Similarly, we must transform. I have created a version of your Joining that uses the blood of Grey Wardens.

You take the taint into yourself. What we take is your resistance.

That is how my brethren are freed. In your blood lies the key to their immunity against the call of the Old Gods.

That's what the Disciples are? Darkspawn... wardens?

I like my blood where it is. In my veins.

Some new darkspawn seem intelligent. Others are insane.

Once they are freed, the darkspawn think for themselves, they speak, they act. Some, however, have reacted poorly.

They are flawed and they rage against me. The Mother gathers them to stop me... as she seeks to stop you.

I cannot defeat the Mother alone, and I cannot free the darkspawn unless she is defeated. Our goals are the same.

Kill this creature now, lest it make things worse than they already are. Do what is right and do not waver.

Darkspawn or no, he has a good point. Do we really want to keep killing each other forever?

Help me kill the Mother, and after it is done, I will leave to continue my work.

What is the Mother, exactly?

My most flawed creation. Freedom drove her mad, and she has poisoned the minds of the others.

She has influence with the ones who have not been freed, and she gathers them as an army.

I do not seek to rule my brethren. I only seek to release them from their chains.

Perhaps the other darkspawn don't want to be free. The things they've done... Is sentience a blessing?

And how would they know, when the choice has been deprived of them?

Without choice, there is only one path before them and that leads to the Blight. I believe there is another way.

How did you become free?

I was born as I am, an outsider amongst my kind. Why? I do not know.

So we're never going to get an explanation for why all this began?

Maybe in a future adventure.

Why do some of your kind become Grey Wardens? Why do some possess magic? I have no answers.

But still... Stealing blood from Wardens is perverse.

I thought it little different from your order's use of darkspawn blood. We both do what we must in response to the Blight.

The first blood came from Utha, freely given.

[Utha's backstory is explained in the tie-in book Dragon Age: The Calling, available in all good bookshops now about ten years ago. Essentially she signed up with the Architect when he saved her life.]

She was a Grey Warden, as you are, and joined us... many years ago.

She believed in the rightness of my cause. Do you?

...Very well. You have an ally. For now.

[We could have killed him, but let's give peace a chance.]

What if he's wrong? What if this doesn't stop the Blight but makes something worse?

No, this is wrong! Those who have fallen must be avenged!

(Persuade) You'll have to trust my lead, Justice.

I cannot trust it. But I will follow it. For now.

[Justice will turn hostile if you fail that dialogue check. Sigrun would also need to be placated if she was in the party.]

Thank you commander. I realize what a leap of faith this is for you. I hope that I prove worthy of your trust.

The Mother lies ahead, Warden. I cannot approach her physically--her Children protect her from my power.

But when you reach her, I will do whatever I can to help you. You have my promise.

He left in a hurry.


[The conversation took place in the basement of another Tevinter tower, which means another ancient mechanism to activate.]

[This one gives us an AoE stun ability. Enormous area, lengthy stun, pity we only get one shot.]

[Siding with the Architect has also given us this magical airstrike. It is very powerful but, given the constraints of the final boss arena, you are highly likely to set your entire party on fire if you try using it.]

[So... who is the Architect anyway? He was previously featured as the villain of Dragon Age: The Calling, where his masterplan was to both kill off the Old Gods and spread the darkspawn taint to everyone on the surface, forestalling any future conflict between the darkspawn and the other races. Needless to say, this was a Bad Idea, and his current blood-based scheme is considerably less genocidal.

The Calling didn't give any extra infomation about what he actually is, or why he looks so different from other darkspawn. It's only in Dragon Age: Inquistion that Bioware actually start to explain things, although there's a half-reference hidden in a pod outside the tower...]

[The main villain of Inquisition is Corypheus, one of a cabal of powerful mages who invaded the Golden City of the Maker in ancient times and accidentally unleashed the darkspawn plague on the world. Corypheus and the other mages became proto-darkspawn, twisted and powerful.

Inquistion mentions that another member of the cabal was the High Priest of Urthemiel, also known as the Architect of the Works of Beauty...]

I'm looking forward to never seeing another Childer as long as I live.

I'm looking forward to never seeing another spiral staircase as long as I live. My knees aren't getting any younger.

[There's one final mechanism at the bottom. This magic glowy orb gives us one full heal to the entire party whenever we need it. Useful!]

This is it. Final thoughts?

Our strength is the strength of ten because our hearts are pure.

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done.

Those who are about to die are a little upset about it, to be honest.

Now the pieces fall into place! The Grey Warden comes, the instrument of the Father!

Oh, and the Father, he is but a shadow! Oh, how my children protect me! How they love me!


I have told you many times, Mother, I am not 'the Father.' I am simply the Architect.

It does not change what you are! You took away that beautiful music! Left us with nothing!

It was a mistake to free you. It has left you with madness. I am truly sorry.

The Architect intends to free the darkspawn. I trust him. Well, maybe trust is too strong a word. He's definitely the lesser evil though.

Thank you.

Ah, but perhaps the Warden would like to hear how it was that the Father began the Blight?

[Last minute plot revelation!]

You want the source of the archdemon, the one who brought all our kind to the surface? Here he is!

I was correct. All of these creatures are irredeemable fiends!

Ah. There it is, then. Unfortunate.

I did find the Old God, Urthemiel. But I did not wish another Blight. I attempted my Joining ritual.

My hope was that this would free all darkspawn, unravel the curse from its source. Alas, I was unlucky.

Do you even think about the repercussions of your actions?

Is it not the way of the Grey Wardens to do what must be done, in the name of combating the Blight?

Stop comparing yourself to me.

The Blight is a menace, both for your people and for mine. To end it requires sacrifice and risk.

And how lonely the Father was. How terrible to be the outcast, the outsider!

He claims he wishes the darkspawn to be free. What he truly wants is to correct them!

However you feel about what I have done, the Mother is mad. She cannot be allowed to--

Begone, shadow! You cannot harm the Mother any more than you already have!


And now the hero is alone.

Oh, the Mother knows your ways. You will not let her be, no... not after what she's done.

So it must end, it all must come crashing down!

I didn't need to see that.

I didn't need to see any of this.

[This fight gets crazy hectic real fast. You start bunched up with four strong tentacles surrounding you. These can do a lot of damage real fast if they concentrate on one character. The Mother can also Scream to stun your entire party, letting the tentacles get more free hits.]

[I used the Architect's special ability to take out the tentacles while moving the party back away from the Mother. Once the tentacles die, a wave of a dozen or so Children spawn in- they're pretty weak, but each can use Overwhelm to stun and paralyse a party member. If you're unlucky multiple party members can be taken out simultaneously.

It can be challenging to use your AoE abilities to mop up the Children because of where you start and how they spawn in from all sides. The Tower stun ability is useful here.]

[The Mother doesn't actually have much health herself, so if you ignore all the adds and focus fire completely on her, you can end the battle really quickly.

I find this out after I beat the game.]

[Oh well. Here comes the ending.]


Where did that come from?

This is my god-killing knife!



It's over.

Is it?

I can arrange some fireworks. Maybe we could get a band in.

Shut up, Anders.

Oh, and go get my knife back.

Wait, what?


After the death of the Mother, the remaining darkspawn forces scattered and fled back into the Deep Roads. The raids on Amaranthine came to an abrupt end.

The Architect apparently kept his word, gathering his remaining disciples to follow the rest of their kind back underground. Those Grey Wardens in other nations were appalled to hear of the Architect's continued existence, but were unable to track him down despite years of effort.

Some within the order have claimed that the Architect's survival guarantees another Blight--and yet the Deep Roads have lately been quieter than any can recall. Most have resignedly decided that it is now in the Maker's hands.

[If we had killed the Architect, the Disciples would have still retreated back to the Deep Roads, but there would be no peace in the depths.]

Word of the Grey Wardens’ heroic salvation of Amaranthine spread like wildfire. When the magnitude of the losses at Vigil's Keep came to light, sympathy drove generous donations from all over Ferelden into the the region's coffers. Amaranthine was restored to her former glory within a year, Vigil's Keep in five.

[This is considerably less happy if we had burned Amaranthine.]

Because of the Wardens‘ support for law and order in Amaranthine, Constable Aidan and his men were able to distribute the smugglers‘ goods to the battered survivors in the grueling days that followed the darkspawn defeat.

[Help the smugglers instead of the Watch and they gradually take control of the City after the battle.]

The darkspawn messenger, set free after joining the Wardens in the battle of Amaranthine, struck out on his own. The city soon buzzed with stories of a cloaked but lisping figure who aided travelers in danger. At the same time reports of isolated cases of the darkspawn disease emerged. No one connected the two.

[Yes, the nameless darkspawn gets his own epilogue]

The arling's peasants suffered greatly during the war, and suffered yet worse in the years that followed. Success at the first riot at Vigil's Keep emboldened them. and thus other uprisings followed, often put down with brutality.

[Oops. Should have beaten down those grumpy peasants when we had the chance.]

Although the war devastated many farms in the arling, all agreed the loss would have been greater without soldiers for protection. The farmholders developed a certain reverence for the Warden-Commander--as well as an ongoing reliance on the Grey Wardens for order and protection.

[Well done everyone who voted for protecting the farms. Who controls the cabbages controls the world.]

Vigil‘s Keep stood alone against a horde of darkspawn. The Mother's forces outnumbered the Vigil's defenders many times over.

But the sturdy dwarven walls proved impervious to any boulder an ogre could throw. The Vigil's soldiers, clad in silverite, each felled a dozen darkspawn before they died. The Vigil held one night, then two, then a week. and eventually the attacking horde broke upon her walls. The keep developed an almost mythic reputation, the few survivors immortalized in song and legend.

Peace allowed the Wardens to replenish their numbers. Soon, Vigil's Keep bore a capable army with Wardens at its core. From their ranks emerged new heroes to challenge threats to Amaranthine and all of Ferelden.

Through taxes and levies, the Vigil was rebuilt. Years later. Voldrik Glavonak stood on the battlements and pronounced that the defenses were acceptable. He would never speak more highly of any human engineering.

[You only get this ending if you buy/find all the keep upgrades from Wade and Vodrik. Fail to do that and Vigil's Keep gets flattened if you choose to save the city instead.]

Dark whispers of conspiracy against the Wardens fell silent after a rash of accidents and disappearances culminated in the apparent suicide of Bann Esmerelle. The nobles of Amaranthine remained dutiful. Some even suggest they were cowed into submission.

[No mercy for conspirators. ]

Among the many legends that the Vigil spawned was one of the great heroes of the next age, a sheepherder-turned-soldier by the name of Ser Alec the Valiant, who eventually founded an order of knights that lasted a thousand years.

[Yeah, that one peasant you guys voted to spare from execution turns out to be the Greatest Fereldeen Hero.]

The Commander's blade, Vigilance, crafted from the bones of an ancient dragon. was boldly stolen by Antivan Crows. The blade changed hands many times thereafter, with some master swordsmen pursuing the weapon their entire lives. Some claim that this legendary blade has had a life of its own and that its power is steadily growing.

[It also turns out that sword we made has become sentient. It happens.]

Dworkin Glavonak further refined his lyrium-sand explosives, but left the Wardens' employ after qunari mercenaries tried to assassinate him. Although the dwarven bombardier took his secrets with him, the learned say he left clues for others to follow in his footsteps.

The Vigil's soldiers, wearing the distinctive silverite armor that Master Wade crafted, came to be known as the Silver Order. Under the tutelage of the Wardens. the Silver Order developed into one of Ferelden‘s most revered military forces, a lasting memory of the Vigil's famous commander.

[Hope the armor doesn't turn sentient as well.]

With Velanna and the Architect gone from the region, the Pilgrim's Path began to see traffic again. The massacre of the militiamen and the merchants, however, led to hostilities between the neighboring human settlements and any Dalish clans that passed by.

One human villager soon kidnapped and murdered a Dalish child. The clans reacted by giving the Wending Wood a wide berth, but both sides know that at some point the elves will return for revenge.

A few years after Kal'Hirol was emptied of darkspawn, Orzammar began sending expeditions to rediscover the knowledge of smithing that had been lost within the thaig.

Eventually house Helmi decided that Kal'Hirol was too important to be abandoned. At a tremendous cost of dwarven lives, they cleared the tunnels leading to Kal'Hirol of all darkspawn, making the road between Orzammar and the fortress safe again. Kal‘Hirol was reclaimed for Orzammar, once and for all.

As promised, Voldrik and Dworkin presented Orzammar’s Shaperate with the stone marker that told of how Kal'Hirol's casteless had taken up arms against the darkspawn. .

The Commander of the Grey was invited to Orzammar as a guest of honor at a feast commemorating the defenders of Kal'Hirol. The Shaper read the names of the casteless off the marker, then presided over a ceremony to return them to the Stone, as befitted warriors of their stature.

[I think things are going to be alright for the dwarves, at least if Bhelen can stop murdering people.]

In time, the arling began to forget the tales of apparitions in the Blackmarsh, and ever so slowly, settlers drifted into the region. Scholars said the Veil was still thin and thus the area still dangerous, but the people only cared that there were no longer frightened whispers in the shadows.

The village was slowly rebuilt. Twice the baroness’s mansion was rebuilt and occupied, once by a wealthy merchant and another time by an Orlesian mage. Both died mysteriously. Afterwards, the mansion was torn down completely and the site left untouched.

Anders remained with the Grey Wardens a few years longer, training the order's next generation of mages. But when the Circle Tower called on him to deliver a lecture on the nature of the Architect--much to the templars' dismay--Anders told the Commander of the Grey that his time with the Wardens was over.

And yet, not two months later, Anders returned to the order. Ever after, the Wardens were his home and his lasting companions.

[Yeah, right.]

When the walls of Vigil Keep were breached, the surviving defenders watched in horror as a section of stone collapsed upon Velanna. When the rubble was later cleared however, there was no body. Velanna was just gone.

[Rocks fall, Velanna dies. Or does she?

There are two different endings for each party member left behind in the Vigil if you choose to save the City instead- if the Keep was un-upgraded then they all die in various anti-climatic ways. If the keep was fully upgraded they get more uplifting endings. Most of them still die though.

Velanna gets an interesting alternate ending- if we'd taken her to Drake's Fall she would have another brief encounter with her sister, and her subsequent ending has Velanna abandoning the Wardens to chase her sister into the Deep Roads.]

Over the next years Nathaniel dedicated himself to the order and to clearing the blemishes on his family's name. After saving Teyrn Fergus Cousland from a bandit attack, a portion of Amaranthine was returned to the Howes.

Nathaniel passed the holding to Delilah's son, and when a new castle was eventually built there, a statue of Nathaniel was erected in its courtyard.

[Nathaniel Howe: His Dad Was An Asshole, But He's Alright.]

Once the darkspawn threat was ended, Justice left the Grey Wardens to pursue other injustices. Years later he appeared on the doorstep of Kristoff‘s widow and, smiling, simply dropped dead. Aura finally had a body to mourn. If the spirit itself remains alive, it has not shown itself

[All your favourite ghosts will return in Dragon Age 2.]

It was Sigrun who led the charge against the darkspawn when Vigil's Keep was attacked. Once again she had an army behind her, and once again, they fought darkspawn with no hope of survival. This time, Sigrun did not flee.

[Pour one out for Sigrun, who dies in almost every ending she gets.]

At Vigil's Keep, Oghren rallied a last-minute defense of the gate, taking on two ogres simultaneously to allow others time to regain the courtyard. He eventually passed out from blood loss, and when he awoke weeks later, nobody was more surprised than he to discover he had been credited as a hero.

Oghren continued to regale young Warden recruits with tales of his prowess in both battle and bed. His drinking prompted at least one recruit to declare that she'd rather re-attempt the Joining than lift another mug.

At the Warden-Commander's urging, Oghren took a more active role in his child's life. He visited Felsi often, and wrote letters--which the Warden-Commander graciously proof-read--nearly every week.

[Raise a glass for Oghren, who will never die.]

As for the savior of Ferelden, she did not remain as Commander of the Grey for long. The darkspawn were no longer a real concern, the Blight well and truly over. It was time for her to move on.

Some claimed the commander went to Antiva, chasing after the assassin Zevran. One rumor suggested the pair engaged in a terrible showdown in the Antivan capital, and others say they took over the Crows. Perhaps they adventure together still.

[And that's it. I hope you've had fun reading this LP!

I'll be back soon to do the last DLC Witch Hunt and finally, finally, finally wrap up the Dragon Age: Origins saga. See you then!]