Game Alignments: Dragon Age

Once again we return to the next chapter in Game Alignments, a little write up I do each week that attempts to put characters from a title video game in the D&D alignment hot seat. In a perfect world everything has an absolute to it, right? Of course not, which is why we all love to bicker about our favorite characters and how they fit into the rule of things with their habits and actions. This time, however, we are entering dark territory with Dragon Age, a game that is about as gray as the stew Alistair makes for Leliana (too vague?). Anyways, here’s what I came up with.

Wynne :::: Lawful Good

Chalk it up to the grandmother of the game to play this alignment straight (like as if we weren’t expecting it, ha!). Wynne is not only a wise-cracking frigid mage, but also a complete textbook example of how a contradiction works in the world of Ferelden. As a mage, she belongs to the Circle of the Magi, a government-sanctioned organization of the mages in Ferelden that are kept under constant watch of the Templars, so if they do anything hinky, they’ll be there to stab them in the face. Most mages—sorry, ALL but one mage are resentful of this imprisonment, and, yep, you guessed it, our beloved Wynne is the exception. Wynne understands the troubles behind mages and how easily they can be corrupted by demons in the shadow realm known as the Fade, so she more than welcomes the rules of the law, and she couples this with her devout believe in the Maker, the monotheistic god in the land of Dragon Age. Wynne’s true moment of her defining alignment, however, shines through if you decide to help some cultists defile the ashes of the prophetess to the Maker, where she will flat-out turn hostile against your party and try to kill you. Dearest Wynne, you have more than earned your spot as Lawful Good, bordering even on Stupid Good.

Leliana :::: Neutral Good

Better known as the party’s feisty rogue that was once a professional assassin, Leliana is recruited early on in the game in a tavern. You see, Leliana is a Sister in the Chantry, the religion that the prophetess of the Maker spawned in the world, and she apparently had a vision—a vision that the Maker visited her in her dreams saying that she needed to join your party to help you. Starting off as what seems to be a religious nutter, Leliana actually proves to be more worldly than what you would expect from a Sister in the Chantry, and the party often comments on it. Later on you learn that she is actually on the run as a traitor to another kingdom in the game, where she was a state assassin. For her she not only has tried to escape her past, but has also attempted to make mends with it by trying to put her hopes into the Chantry. However, without much purpose, Leliana still has her streaks of self-indulgence, and isn’t shy of “bending” the rules to make sure good triumphs. With this in mind, Leliana earns her spot at Neutral Good.

Alistair :::: Chaotic Good

Your fellow Warden-in-arms, Alistair is the poster boy for a Robin Hood-type character—takes from the rich, gives to the poor sort of vibe. He largely keeps out of other people’s way unless the issue at hand is someone’s suffering (at which point mister knight-in-shining-armor will try to rectify the situation). He’s largely sardonic, observing the rather terrible state of affairs and cracking a joke about it. However, for a new Grey Warden recruit who now has the fate of Ferelden on his shoulders, he has a good spirit about him, and a dubiously humble presence (what with being the heir to the throne and all). However, what defines Alistair’s chaotic nature is his actions in justice, specifically when it comes to the issue of what is to be done with Teryn Loghain. Make all the advances you will, Alistair will outright refuse the order of things all at the behest to meet a personal vendetta against Loghain, having him executed—and if you refuse Alistair this choice, he will walk away from royalhood altogether and forsake his duty as a Grey Warden, earning him the spot as Chaotic Good.

Duncan :::: Lawful Neutral

Duncan, the warden commander during the beginning of the game, is perhaps the best example as to what exactly the double meaning behind the Grey Wardens actually is. For Duncan, his duty is not a matter of good or evil, nor does he pledge his allegiance to any of the kingdoms in the land. Rather it is simply his duty to carry out what is necessary for him to do as a Grey Warden, and doing so while following the letters of the law. In this case Duncan respects all justice that can be brought against man—especially if it means that he earns the right to conscript anyone he may like to join the Grey Wardens. However, to join the Grey Wardens is a death sentence, and for this Duncan, again, remains in the boundaries of neutrality, knowing that the Grey Wardens are a necessity. He proves this resolve in the Joining ritual at the beginning of the game for your character, where in order to join the Grey Wardens you must drink Darkspawn blood (doing so is usually fatal). When one of the recruits refuses to partake in the ritual after witnessing the death of another recruit, citing that he has a wife and kids at home to think about, Duncan takes no pity upon him and plunges his knife into him, killing the recruit, proving that your life belongs to the Grey Wardens one way or another once you join. For this Duncan heartlessly earns the spot as the Lawful Neutral.

Dog, a.k.a. “Barkspawn” :::: True Neutral

What first may seem like a joke actually turns out to be a perfect fit. There is no such thing as a “True Neutral” character in Dragon Age—they all have picked their sides and alignments (and even you are forced to do as much). However, there is one character in your party that will forever remain neutral to any occasion. A character that holds his tongue against everything and anything your character may do. A character that will remain the same in all capacities of life even if the world is coming to ruin. I’m obviously talking about Dog here, or popularly named as Barkspawn amongst the creative players. You can scold this hound all you want, but his opinion of you will remain the same, and he takes no issues or qualms against any sort of people, other than those that wish to harm his master. With this Barkspawn can stand proud on his four paws as the only True Neutral character in the entire freaking game. Congratulations, boy. Now please clean up this horrendous blood spatter that is decorating my armor.

Morrigan :::: Chaotic Neutral

I’m sure there will be disagreements amongst this choice. However, the truth behind the Witch of the Wilds, our beloved frigid Morrigan, is that she is not as evil as many try to make her out to be. Chosen as the character for the cover art, Morrigan is perhaps the best representation of the gray areas this game is all about. Recruited out of necessity to help save her way of life, Morrigan often takes up issues with trivial side quests or missions that either involve helping people or even killing them—to her they are all equally seen as a waste of time. However, she takes greater issues with helping the infirm, considering Morrigan often attempts to apply the nature of the world as a maxim to all life. Her social awkwardness rewards her with an opinion on life that favors neither good or evil, but her very actions are the pure essence of chaotic. This shines true in the greatest aspect through her constant ignoring and challenging of the laws of the land, earning Morrigan her spot for the Chaotic Neutral.

Arl Rendon Howe :::: Lawful Evil

Working as the Big Bad’s right-hand man, Howe is the source for most of your troubles as a Warden and then some more if your origin is the Human Noble. While Tim Curry has a knack for playing the bad guys, Howe is just down-right a total bastard—in the Human Noble origin, he attacks your family’s keep, as your brother’s wife and son murdered, and then finishes it off with killing your mother and father. Later you even come across his dungeons, where he has imprisoned political prisoners that would have otherwise provided evidence against Teryn Loghain or, at least, embarrassed him. However, for all of his wickedness, Howe is still a man of stature and obedience. Everything he has done—killed the Human Noble’s family, sent assassins against the Warden, et cetera ad naseum—has been under orders from Teryn Loghain. While Howe’s betrayal of King Cailan is certain, it was still done at the behest of a healthy vassal historical context of trying to establish a greater house amongst his own, earning him the spot as Lawful Evil.

Teryn Loghain :::: Neutral Evil

Loghain is the game’s nutter of an antagonist, hitting all the chords of what it means to be a manical douche who’s off his rocker. Loghain is a powerful lord amongst the nobles of Ferelden, but he is truly respected by few, given his humble origins. Awarded lands and titles simply because he was responsible for driving off an invasion from a kingdom in his youth, Loghain makes his doubts about King Cailan quite apparent, even outright showing disdain and disrespect at times. His crowning moment of evil, however, comes into fruition when he turns his back on the king and leaves with his army from the Darkspawn horde that the king was attempting to quell, effectively not only getting the king killed, but everyone else as well, leaving no witnesses (save you and Alistair). On top of usurping the throne, Loghain also has his biggest opponent amongst the nobles mortally poisoned, blames the Grey Wardens for the king’s death, tries to have you assassinated, sells Elves to slave traders, and also imprisons his daughter, the queen of Ferelden, when she begins to doubt his resolve. And why, do you ask, does he do all of this? All because he believes the very kingdom he fought an invasion against was apparently going to launch another invasion again. Of course no such invasion comes, while the entire kingdom of Ferelden is ravaged by the Darkspawn, all because Loghain pursued his selfish wants of wanting to run things his way. For this Loghain not only earns his part as Neutral Evil, but as Stupid Evil as well.

Sten :::: Chaotic Evil

You find Sten early in the game as a recruitable party member locked in a cage. Oh no, it’s not what you’re thinking—Sten wasn’t helplessly put in there by the forces of evil. Oh no. Sten was actually arrested for murdering an entire family, women and children all, and his punishment was to rot in a cage and to be left to the Darkspawn horde onslaught that was just on the horizon over the town. Approaching Sten in all walks to try and understand why he murdered a family turn silent with him only assuring the player that he did indeed murder an entire family. If you’re dumb enough to recruit him into your party, Sten shows no signs of trying to turn a new leaf or atone for his crimes—in fact, he’s one of the few party members whose approval rating goes up when you do rather evil things. Eventually, if you are able to befriend him, Sten will explain to you that he murdered the family because he thought they had stolen his sword, which is apparently a symbol of status to his people’s culture (I know I usually try to murder children when I think they’ve stolen something from me too). As if this isn’t enough for you, Sten will eventually challenge the player for leadership of the party, insisting that he can do better, which leads to a fight. For all of this, Sten has more than earned his right for the spot as the Chaotic Evil.

Thoughts? Comments? Disagreements? Don’t be shy to share.

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About Agamemnon
Started blogging back in 2007 amidst that whole Hellgate: London fiasco on a blog known as flagshipped.com. Eventually moved on to do my own thing in December 2008 at gameriot.com and started Caveat Emptor there. Wrote there for six months, gained some notoriety, and then left. Now I'm back.

One Response to Game Alignments: Dragon Age

  1. Sam says:

    I disagree. Alistair leans more towards lawful good or neutral good. Wanting to kill Lohgain is not a measure of chaotic nature. He wanted to kill him if anything because he was dishonorable in his actions at Ostagar and slandering the Wardens names. Not wanting to be king is not a measure of chaotic behavior either. He felt his place was better served with the Wardens. Not to mention he has little sympathy for blood mages and blood magic. He disapproves when you let Jowan out of the cell. Duncan could be lawful neutral, but maybe with good tendencies in my opinion. Sten is what I disagree with most. He is lawful neutral. He strongly abides by the Qunari code, he regrets killing all those innocents because it was irrational behavior. He has strict views on gender schemas. He disapproves when you rip Katylin off when you pay for the blade you took from her. Sten is honor bound, which leaves little room for good and evil. Howe is chaotic, he breaks the laws for his own benefit and glory, and feels little since of responsibility for his actions, and he betrays those close to him. He breaks imperial laws such as selling elves as slaves. His devotion is for his own glory, and does not have honor.

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