I’m Not Calling You a Liar: Complicated Canon & Unreliable Narrators in ‘Dragon Age II’

Dragon Age 2

About a month ago, I finally gave up trying to finish Dragon Age: Origins and just skipped straight on to Dragon Age II—and Maker’s breath, am I ever glad I did, because it was amazing. A character-driven, darker and grittier sequel set in one unholy mess of a city over the span of ten years? You can keep all your epic quests and your goofy Grey Wardens, I’m going to go hang out with the gang in The Hanged Man for the rest of my days.

Naturally, one of the first things I did once I finished was to go online and try to find all the memes and fanart and things that I’d scrolled past in confusion before playing the game, but which would now finally make sense. Coming straight out of a playthrough that had dominated my free time for the entire past month, it was pretty jarring to discover that, of course, not everyone had the same playthrough as me. Most of what I found was Garret Hawke/Fenris shipping, or people drooling over Anders, or Cassandra and Varric Dragon Age: Inquisition stuff that was confusing at best and spoilery at worst.

What I was seeing wasn’t my playthrough; the warrior Marian Hawke taking names and snarking at people with Varric at her side, who sided with the mages at every turn out of undying love for her sister, and who really thought she could’ve smoothed out everything with the Arishok bloodshed-free if he’d just come by The Hanged Man for a drink or nine.

Ultimately, I was left grumpily pondering one of the fundamental questions of fandom, especially with interactive media: what made my playthrough any more or any less legitimate than all these others?

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Magic & Magpies: The Real Reason Why Varric Isn’t Romanceable

Dragon Age

I’m a sucker for tragic romances. You know the kind I’m talking about: war-torn setting, impossible odds, and two people in the middle of it all without a clue as to how they got there. They wouldn’t have even met had a series of events not thrust them together in the first place, but when they do meet, it’s with the earth-shattering realization that they were meant to fall in love and change the world. Probably in that order.

Countless articles have been written about Varric Tethras, and rightly so—he’s our infamous narrator, the voice that navigates us through each dizzying chapter until the story’s completion. Many Dragon Age fans have speculated that Varric is asexual or aromantic, and given the complete dearth of asexual characters in video games, I fully respect (and encourage!) fans to identify a beloved character with whatever they so choose. It’s also perfectly reasonable to headcanon Varric anywhere on the sexuality spectrum given the fact that we have so little information on him in this regard, and I’m certainly not here to fire those theories out of the sky with anyone’s crossbow. Keep on keeping on, fandom.

For my part, while playing through Dragon Age 2 on our YouTube channel, I couldn’t help but notice something a little too intriguing to be overlooked. You’re all well-acquainted with Varric’s near-constant chatter every time you bring him along in the party. Regardless of what character combination you decide on, Varric seems to be free of bias, and shares snippets of his ongoing tales of adventure and romance as you stumble your way through Kirkwall. Not surprising to anyone, right? Except, the thing I couldn’t get over is, Varric sounds a lot like he’s dropping hints for us about his own personal story—the one we almost never hear about. I think he’s talking about himself. And once you start really paying attention, the reason why Varric isn’t a romance option becomes glaringly obvious.

Before you venture any further, though! Please note that none of these theories will be taking the DLCs into account.

Continue reading “Magic & Magpies: The Real Reason Why Varric Isn’t Romanceable”

Cassandra Pentaghast Masterpost: The Herald of Feminism

Dragon Age: Inquisition, Cassandra, Bioware

[Author’s Note: Only minor spoilers will be discussed. If you visited The Fade, peruse freely!]

After 100+ in-game hours and still more Hinterlands questing to be done, I’ve been having quite a lot of trouble settling on a title for this piece. Even knowing the subject of my love letter, it’s still next to impossible conveying precisely how I feel. My choices ranged from ‘Dragon Age Is Cassandra’s Playground & We Are Her Playthings’ to ‘The Life & Times of Cassandra Pentaghast: Queen of Everything.’ You can see my dilemma, then.

This time around, I’d learned well from my previous mistake while playing Dragon Age: Origins that judging an ill-tempered character too quickly might not be the best plan when playing a Bioware game. Still, I hadn’t thought much about Cassandra since her days shouting in the cutscenes of Dragon Age 2. It’s not as though I contested her clear prowess, just that I was enamored with Varric at that point, thus any character aggressively stabbing books in front of him was perceived as a threat—or taking up more dialogue that could’ve been his. May the Gods strike me down for my ignorance. As you’re obviously aware, Cassandra is now my queen and I’m here to tell you, in no uncertain terms, why that is.

Take a journey with me through this masterpost of epic proportions, establishing Cassandra as the single-most complex character in the whole of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s admittedly illustrious cast. If you’re not in love with her and ready to face a horde of darkspawn at her behest after this—I mean, it’s possible you’re actually Corypheus, but I’m sure even he’s a little bit jealous of Cassandra’s serious game. Aren’t we all?

Continue reading “Cassandra Pentaghast Masterpost: The Herald of Feminism”

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