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DA Dwarves and Why I Love Them

classics_lover asked me for my thoughts on Dragon Age dwarves. Let me show you them.

If I have a reputation of any sort in Dragon Age fandom, it's probably as a dwarf fan, especially the two dwarf Grey Warden Origins -- the Dwarf Noble is my favorite origin, with the Dwarf Commoner as a close second. I've written quite a lot of fic about my Brosca and my Aeducan, and the single DA story I'm most proud of is an AU about a Brosca and Aeducan working together. I also created and sporadically maintain the Dwarf Appreciation Society on Tumblr. So DA dwarves are a bit of a niche for me, and one that I'm happy to sit in.

The obvious next question is "why dwarves", especially when I've never been particularly drawn to the dwarves in any other fantasy universe. And I think the short answer is politics and storytelling.

Anyone who knows me from Final Fantasy XII fandom can tell you that I am a fan of stories that are dense with politics, and that make the political situation an important part of the storytelling. Politicking is a theme that runs throughout the Dragon Age universe, but nowhere is it denser or better done than through the Orzammar quest in DA:O. However, this is only really true if you play a dwarf origin. My first time through, I played a human noble, and although I liked playing through Orzammar and the Deep Roads well enough, it's a much richer experience with more personal resonance if you play a dwarf. The events of the origin come back in both cases, especially for a Brosca, and unlike most other Wardens, a dwarf might have deeply personal reasons for wanting to see one candidate or the other on the throne. I like how the various character and political threads come together, and considering the different ways they can come out. And I find myself drawn to this story of a formerly immense and proud civilization on the decline: the ways some factions are fighting against it while others are looking for ways to grow and change, to fight the coming extinction of their way of life. And a not-insigificant percentage just leave, abandoning the old ways to set up a new life and integrate into surfacer society.

Aeducan is my favorite origin. When I decided to start a second game (before we'd even finished our first!), I spent half a day playing through the events of all the origins besides Cousland, and I knew immediately that my Aeducan was the character I wanted to carry forward. She's also the character I consider my primary canon Warden. But in terms of coming back to Orzammar, Brosca is hands-down the most interesting and best written -- their personal connection through Bhelen through Rica gives them higher stakes in the political game, as does their past association with the Carta.

One of my disappointments with DA2 was the lack of dwarf characters (I don't think there's a single named female dwarf character in the entire game) and the scarcity of new dwarf-related lore and content -- not much besides the Deep Roads expedition and a bit in Legacy, since Varric is not very connected to dwarven society -- so I was pleased to get more in Inquisition, particularly the ability to play as a dwarf again. My first Inquisitor was a Cadash, and although I was a little surprised to discover that she was a surfacer, it's a character choice I appreciate. I'm really intrigued by the ways that different dwarves adapt to surfacer culture. And although I could have wished for more dwarf-specific content, I did appreciate the connections we did get, particularly the opportunity to learn a little more about the Carta. Scout Harding, too, provided a bit of a window on how a dwarf might fit in with a mostly-human community. (Although we do see other dwarves living in Redcliffe -- I wonder if she knows Dywn, or is somehow connected to him?) And of course the return of Dagna made me extremely happy, even if a part of me was hoping that the master arcanist was going to be Sandal. The lack of an explicit meeting with Sandal and Bodahn Feddic in DA:I was a small disappointment, but no less real for that. Much as I like him, I had been iffy on Varric's return as a party member, but overall it worked out for me, especially in the ways it tied into the red lyrium thread.

And of course we got an entire dwarf-focused DLC in Descent (even if I found that particular sidequest somewhat disappointing as a player). I haven't yet had a good opportunity to research and digest all the implications of discovering the Titan, but I look forward to doing so, and hope it has an impact on whatever comes next.

As for the future, I'm hoping we get a better window onto the obvious problems in Orzammar, and I'd really like to get to Kal-Sharok at some point. The tease we got for that on the Inquisition war table was more tantalizing than satisfying. But I was glad not to see it ignored, and have hope that it's setting up more for the future.

This entry is also posted at http://owlmoose.dreamwidth.org/724712.html. There are currently comment count unavailable comments on DW.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 13th, 2015 04:50 pm (UTC)
Added you, btw. I thought I already had. Ooops.

Yes to ALL of this. I was also sorry that Kal'Hirol didn't make an appearance. It would have been an established settlement by the time of DAI, and it was a shame it didn't get any mention.

And I found it interesting playing as an Aeducan who kept Oghren in the party in all the missions, getting little tidbits of what the Warrior caste would think of X, Y and Z enemies. (Oghren became Sereda's BFF and wanted to punch Gorim when we got to Denerim)

DA2 was so obviously the Mages and Elves Only Club (No Dorfs) it was a shame. Although Varric kind o f made up for it. He was a better friend than Oghren :)

My hope for a future DA game is that they tackle the Dwarven lands that went under the Tevinter Imperium at the same time as tackling the Imperium (yes, yes, it'll never happen, but it'd be a great excuse for a Kal'Sharok visit). I actually forgot about Dwyn entirely, until you mentioned him. The bookseller dwarf looked kind of like him though. Maybe he got out of the mercenary business? :)
Nov. 15th, 2015 10:14 pm (UTC)
It does seem like Kal'Hirol could have at least made a war table mission, doesn't it?

My hope for a future DA game is that they tackle the Dwarven lands that went under the Tevinter Imperium at the same time as tackling the Imperium (yes, yes, it'll never happen, but it'd be a great excuse for a Kal'Sharok visit).

Totally agree. It would be great to get a true look at some dwarven society other than Orzammar. How has it developed differently, after being cut off all this time?
Nov. 16th, 2015 10:14 am (UTC)
And how have they used their grudge against Orzammar (for abandoning them) to make their identity separate to Orzammar dwarves?
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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