[Editor’s Note: British spellings have been preserved upon request.]
Hi, and welcome back to “Leading the Pack,” where we celebrate the very best women and nonbinary characters from games! Today we’ll be taking a look at the ambassador of my heart, Josephine Montilyet from Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Where to begin with the joy that is Josephine? Ambassador for the Inquisition, Josephine can help out by gaining gold, resources, and favours all through her powers of persuasion and political scheming. Unlike her counterparts Commander Cullen and Spymaster Leliana, her solutions are usually bloodless, but nonetheless just as effective. Truly, Josephine proves the old adage that the pen can be mightier than the sword.
While she’s a strong and persuasive political ally, Josephine is also one of the nicest people in the world of Thedas. Amidst all the chaos that unravels during the game, she remains a true friend to the Inquisitor throughout. In her very first introduction to the player, she will greet a Dalish Inquisitor in their native language when most regard them with suspicion, demonstrating her open-mindedness and consideration for the Inquisitor’s feelings.
In her final scene of the epilogue DLC “Trespasser,” she will take the Inquisitor to an opera to help them unwind despite admitting that she has been bad at taking time off for herself lately. It’s clear throughout the game that Josephine is always supportive, considerate, and helpful in any way that she can be.
If charmed by this thoughtful yet powerful lady, you might choose to have your Inquisitor romance her. Josie is one of the few romances available to all Inquisitors—any gender, any race, and any class. Not only is her romance sweet and believable (who doesn’t get flustered around their crush?!) it contains no sex scenes, allowing players (including myself) to headcanon Josie as asexual. While more explicit representation is needed for the ace community, Josie is nonetheless a welcome possible addition, along with the representation she provides for the bi/pan community.
Not only is she open to romances with other women, she is shown to have strong friendships with them, too, particularly in the case of Leliana. She also has a clear, caring relationship with her sister Yvette, and is shown to be supportive of the rest of her family. Her personal quest involves an effort to reinstate her family’s trading rights in order to restore them to their former glory and respect among the nobility. Unfortunately, this leads to an assassination attempt on her life, and the Inquisitor must protect Josephine by nulling or destroying the assassination contract. Leliana advises the latter, high risk and quick option, but the peaceful Josephine prefers if you take the time to diplomatically negotiate with the concerned parties in order to resolve the issue that way.
Through this personal quest, the Inquisitor also learns more about Josephine’s past, including the fact that she used to be a bard. These are spies or assassins who infiltrate the courts of the nobility by posing as musicians. It seems that Josephine and Leliana have more in common than we first knew! Josephine honed her diplomatic skills and knowledge of “The Game”—in other words, the political machinations of a world dominated by many competing high-power families. However, her introversion meant that she did not enjoy entertaining crowds, and more importantly, unlike Leliana, she did not have the heart to assassinate potential foes. In fact, she quit being a bard when she accidentally killed another bard in self-defence. This was also when she decided to focus on using her powers of persuasion rather than violence to resolve conflicts.
Her diplomatic War Table approaches may not always be the quickest—and it may not even always be the most effective—but they’re usually my favourites because they step away from Thedas’ usual reliance on violent solutions, which includes video games in general. I also appreciate how the game doesn’t condemn Josephine’s (and potentially the player’s) shying away from the deadly approach, showing that it still takes a tough spirit to use an alternative method. Ending marriages and alienating dangerous political figures aren’t for the faint of heart, either! Yet Josephine carries out her tasks with skill and an enviable grace under pressure, while still making time to support those around her.
There are so many fabulous characters in Dragon Age: Inquisition, but personally, the multi-faceted Disney princess Josephine has my heart. And the fact that her voice actress is so great is just the icing on the cake!