Part 73: DragonforcePART 73: DRAGONFORCE
Climbing through the Temple of the Urn of Sacred Ashes, Bianca and co. fight ever increasing numbers of lunatic cultists and suspicious lizards
[There are a metric shitload of dragonlings in this place. DA: Origins usually plays fair with enemy spawns, but not here. Dragonlings can spawn in anywhere and are normally triggered to show up just as you're busy fighting a group of cultists.
They aren't very strong enemies, but it's easy to get overwhelmed if you try charging ahead.]
[There's also the occasional Cultist Assassin, who can use Stealth to abruptly show up and backstab your characters. It's not a great way to start a fight.]
Aw. Hey there, little fella.
Actually, the hay is here.
So, is this the cultist's petting zoo, or...?
[Drakes are the dragonlings' big brothers. They're a little tougher, and they get 'Roar', an irritating special move that stuns everyone around them. Things can get a little dicey with groups of Drakes, fortunately the entrance to this cave serves as a good bottleneck.]
Looks like you're safe for another day, little goat.
Zevran, pass me your fish knife.
[As soon as we pick this up the game informs us we can get Wade the armorsmith to turn these into special armor. Time to start harvesting drakes.]
We seem to be heading... up? Yes, I think these caverns are going up to the surface.
Back in the temple. The cultists have not been taking good care of this place.
End of level boss arena?
Seems more like a mid-level sub boss. Or maybe an optional mini boss.
[It's a mage on a staircase, and he's brought all his dragony chums along.]
Well, it looks like you guys have this all under control.
The plan is for the big one to choke trying to eat Alistair.
Why do I always have to be the one that gets eaten?
[Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.
+10 DA LP points if you get that reference without using Google.]
His head is with the spirits now.
[The overseer has an unusual drop- a sword that only mages can use. It breaks all the rules!]
This looks promising.
I don't know about you, but I'm in a breakfast mood.
A nice egg for trying times.
How do you put a shield inside an egg?
The mother dragon must keep interesting company.
[The amulet is useless to us, as we have no blood mages in our party, but it does come with a killer codex entry, which I've put at the bottom of this post.]
This one leads them.
Are you sure?
He wears the finest armor. Petty tyrants always hoard the best for themselves.
Ah yes, 'shoot the shiny one first'. Good advice for every situation.
Stop! You will go no further.
Oh? Is that so?
You have defiled our temple. You have spilled the blood of the faithful, and slaughtered our young.
No more. You will tell me now, intruder, why you have done all this. Why have you come here?
I have come for the Urn of Sacred Ashes.
You did this all for an ancient relic? Know this, stranger...
The prophet Andraste has overcome death itself and has returned to Her faithful in a form more radiant than you can imagine!
I don't know. I can imagine a lot of radiance.
Not even the Tevinter Imperium could hope to slay Her now. What hope do you have?
And what happened to the Ashes?
They are still within this temple, but why do we need ashes when we serve the risen Andraste in all Her glory?
So you can give me the Urn then?
So you are after the Ashes. Hmm... perhaps there is a way for you to make up for your desecration of our home and temple.
Why do you suddenly want to cooperate with me?
Because you asked? I'm getting mixed messages here.
I was honestly expecting you to have tried to kill me by now.
It may be because I believe in second chances. All of us stumble through the darkness before being found and shown the light.
Perhaps through Andraste's mercy, Her greatest enemy will become Her greatest champion.
Just say what you have to say.
Allow me to introduce myself: I am Father Kolgrim. I lead the Disciples of Andraste.
The Ashes you seek reside atop this mountain, watched by an immortal guardian who refuses to accept the truth of the risen Lady.
Now the Ashes prevent holy Andraste from fully realizing Her new form. They are a remnant of Her past incarnation, and She cannot move on as long as they exist.
Ooooh, I'm steamed!
So... what? You want me to toss them out a window?
I speak not of destruction.
The Beloved needs to reclaim the Ashes, to make them Her own again. All it would take is a drop of Her blood.
Blood carries power, strength, knowledge. Through it, all the power that is held in the Ashes will be returned to our Lady.
Great speech boss.
Not now, Kevin!
So, why have you not done this then?
The Guardian has foiled all our attempts to reach the Um. He keeps what power remains from the true Andraste.
He knows the Disciples, and we cannot touch him, for he draws his strength from the Ashes themselves.
But you could deliver our Lady what is rightfully Hers.
I could just imagine the grand cleric, if she were here. Her head would explode; I kid you not.
The rewards for performing such a service would be great indeed.
Guys, do you buy any of this?
A man with a beard like that? I think not.
His name is 'Kolgrim'. KOL-GRIM.
You speak of evil. I must destroy you.
Evil? Who are you to judge us?
To arms, my brethren! Andraste will grant us victory!
[We could have took Kolgrim's deal, but it is very, very evil. Certain party members will flat out leave if you do it. It does unlock the 'Reaver' combat specialisation for fighters though. Reavers get various strange abilities that let them absorb health from corpses, terrify enemies into submission and do AoE spirit damage because they HURT SO MUCH IN THEIR SOULS.
Anyways, Kolgrim's a tough two-handed fighter, but the biggest threat comes from his two supporting mages.]
[Once they're dealt with, Kolgrim folds pretty quick. Although he can deal out a ton of damage he has no multi-hit abilities, and his AI is dumb as a box of frogs. Tank and spank, as the saying goes.]
[He drops this sexy double handed axe, that I will probably never use because why would you want an axe that boosts Willpower, a mage stat?
He also drops a mysterious magic horn, which will come in useful soon.]
This looks like it leads outside.
Andraste looks different from how I always imagined her.
["Andraste" will chill out atop the cliff while you explore the area. You might expect her to swoop down at any moment given the loud introduction, but actually she does nothing. You can walk right past and complete the dungeon without ever fighting her.]
[Kolgrim's mighty horn lets us summon the dragon for a fight. There's also a gong in the area which we can whack to summon it too.
We don't have to fight her now, but the loot is well worth it so...]
[High Dragons are the ultimate super-bosses of Dragon Age. They can launch fireballs, do AoE stuns by flapping their wings, crash down in an area to deal massive area damage and maul one character with their jaws, which is almost always an instant kill. Even their boring standard swiping attacks deal a ton of damage.
High Dragons also have over 3500HP, so anyone hoping to win through a damage rush is going to be disappointed.
To show off all the nuances of this fight would probably take about thirty screenshots, and that might get boring to read after a while. So I edited the highlights together into a video that I hope is useful to anyone struggling with this battle.]
Fighting the High Dragon
Well, that was... fun.
Yeah, I'm amazing. Let's see what we've got.
How did it even fly carrying all this junk?
[The important items are Qunari Siege Gauntlets (light armor that increases our armor penetration), The Long Sight (a helmet that boosts critical chance with bows, great for Bianca) and the Deadhead Charge (an amulet that greatly increases resistance to physical attacks).
It also drops a Dragon Scale, which Wade can turn into some of the best armor in the game]
You know you're in the right place when there's a giant skull over the door.
I... feel like we have just entered the Grand Clerics bedchambers. Where no one has gone before...
I bid you welcome, pilgrim.
Who are you?
I am the Guardian, the protector of the Urn of Sacred Ashes.
I have waited years for this.
You are the first to arrive in a very long time.
It has been my duty, my life, to protect the Urn and prepare the way for the faithful who come to revere Andraste.
For years beyond counting have I been here, and shall I remain until my task is done and the Imperium has crumbled into the sea.
Wow, that sounds terribly dull.
There is joy to be found in my duty. Sometimes I even go outside.
Great. I need to clarify one thing first. The dragon wasn't really Andraste, right?
Oh yes. She was our light reborn. It would be utmost blasphemy if She were to be, say, killed by some gormless thugs greedy for a few sparkly baubles.
Just my little joke. No. Our Andraste has gone to the Maker's side. She will not return.
The dragon is a fearsome creature, and they must have seen her as an alternative to the absent Maker and His silent Andraste.
A true believer would not require audacious displays of power.
Says the immortal.
How did the belief spread to the rest of the disciples?
It began with an ancestor of the one known as Kolgrim. He saw himself as a new prophet, preaching the rebirth.
Some disagreed with him. I heard their cries of pain and loss which were quickly silenced.
Tell me more about the disciples.
When my brethren and I carried Andraste from Tevinter to this sanctuary, we vowed to forever revere Her memory, and guard Her.
I have watched generations of my brethren take up the mantle of their fathers. For centuries they did this, unwavering, joyful, in their appointed task.
But now they have lost their way. They have forgotten Andraste, and their promise.
And what about you? Who are you?
I am all that remains of the first disciples. I swore I would protect the Urn as long as I lived, and I have lived a very long time.
(Cunning) The first disciples? Did you know Andraste?
[Another rare Cunning check there, to ask something bleedingly obvious.]
Did anyone really know Her, save the Maker? She would sometimes spend weeks alone in meditation, often without food or water.
How is it possible you have lived so long?
I made a vow, to Andraste and to the Maker. My life is tied to the Ashes. As long as they remain, so will I.
What can you tell me about the Urn of Sacred Ashes?
You already know that the Urn contains the remains of the prophet Andraste.
What else is there to tell?
I guess that's an answer. How do I get to the Urn?
You have come to honor Andraste, and you shall, if you prove yourself worthy.
It's the wooden Urn.
You were going to show me a room full of jewel-encrusted Urns and ask me to pick the right one. Which is the plain wooden one, because Andraste was humble and not interested in material things and yadda yadda, so where's my prize?
I wasn't going to ask you to do that.
Oh...So I have to fight you? It's going to be an arena battle, right?
No! It is not my place to decide your worthiness. The Gauntlet does that.
If you are found worthy, you will see the Urn and be allowed to take a small pinch of the Ashes for yourself. If not...
What is the Gauntlet?
The Gauntlet tells the true pilgrims from the false. You will undergo four tests of faith, and we shall see how your soul fares.
But I don't believe in Andraste. Or the Maker. Or any gods, really.
You say that here, in front of me, a man rendered undying by the will of the Maker? In this place built to guard a holy panacea to all ills? That you seek to help you in your battle against the living embodiments of humanity's sin against God?
Hey, I'm not one of those casual atheists.
All right, let's get this over with.
Before you go, there is something I must ask. I see that the path that led you here was not easy.
There is suffering in your past--your suffering, and the suffering of others.
Bhelen's machinations led to Trian's death and your exile. You allowed this to happen.
Do you think you failed Trian?
...No. Trian deserved what he got.
Then you do not dwell on past mistakes. Neither yours, nor someone else's.
It's easy for others to judge what you've done, in hindsight, but it doesn't make it any better.
Oh, good. For a moment there I thought you were going to go on a weepy tirade and try to "share" your feelings.
Parshaara. Leave the past where it falls.
And what of those that follow you?
Alistair, knight and Warden... you wonder If things would have been dlfferent If you were with Duncan on the battleﬁeld.
You could have shielded him from the killing blow. You wonder, don't you, if you should have died, and not him?
I... yes. If Duncan had been saved, and not me, everything would be better. If I'd just had the chance, maybe...
And the Antivan elf...
Is it my turn now? Hurrah. I'm so excited.
Many have died at your hand. But is there any you regret more than a woman by the name of--
How do you know about that?
I know much; it is allowed to me. The questions stands, however. Do you regret--
Yes. The answer is yes, if that's what you wish to know. I do. Now move on.
Demand whatever answers you want, spirit.
You came to this land as an observer, but you killed a family in a blind rage. Have you failed your people, by allowing a qunari to be seen in that light?
I have never denied that I failed.
The way is open. Good luck, and may you find what you seek.
NEXT TIME: Everyone gets naked and learns the value of teamwork.
NEW CODEX CONTENT:
The Frostback Mountains (Ptarmigans! )