Inquisitor: You listen to me, you don’t threaten the Inquisition, because we will fucking destroy you! We’ll skin you like a squirrel, clean you out like a dirty chimney, and wear you like a glove puppet with my fingers sticking out of your dead eyeballs. [pause] Josephine: I cannot endorse that message, but I do acknowledge it.
It annoys me how BioWare coddled so many devout Andrastian human characters regarding past crimes, and/or gave them easy-peasy redemption arcs.
Cassandra: The Seekers are just as responsible for the Mage/Templar War because they didn’t do their job of stopping Templar corruption or abuse, and encouraged the abuse of the Rite of Tranquility. While Cassandra became disillusioned and quit off-screen, she never really acknowledges this.
She carries no guilt as a Seeker who failed to do more to prevent the war (she angsts a lot about failing to protect the Divine or find Hawke, but not investigating Templar abuse and corruption like Seekers are supposed to do), and in fact primarily blames mages for the war and still idealizes Seekers and Templars. The Inquisitor can never really call her out on this. (To say nothing of her insulting the Dalish Inquisitor’s religion twice and not only never getting called out on it, but getting praised by the other characters for being so open-minded.)
Cullen: Was complicit in Meredith’s tyrannical reign for years, which caused the torture, rape, lobotomy, and deaths of a lot of innocent mages (many of which he implies he knew about), and didn’t try to stop her until she threatened HAWKE (a human noble). Like Cassandra, he became disillusioned and quit the Order off-screen, but also like Cassandra he still mostly suspects and blames mages for the war and idealizes the Chantry and Templars.
He gives some half-assed “I should have seen what Meredith was sooner” but then lets himself off the hook, and continues to see Circles and Templars as the best option despite witnessing their inherent corruption and abuse for years. The Inquisitor can never call him out on this. Most mage dialogue with him (especially romanced) has the Inquisitor acting all guilty and self-loathing for what mages did to HIM, and asking whether HE’S all right with you being a mage, rather than being pissed off or holding him accountable for what he did to your kind. The narrative itself handles him with kit gloves, acting like, “Oh, he feels so bad about it, so that makes it okay.” He SHOULD feel bad. He was complicit in something awful. Feeling bad is the first step to redemption, not the last.
Celene: I hate how the game completely glosses over all the horrible things Celene did to Briala and the elves, and how the Inquisitor can never find out about it, hold Celene accountable, and wring some guilt out of her. While you can headcanon that your Inquisitor knew and/or let her die or blackmail her into serving you along with Gaspard and Briala, the Inquisitor can’t specifically cite this as the reason.
Reuniting her with Briala basically involves convincing Briala to drop all the grudges she rightfully holds against Celene: had her family murdered in a fake assassination attempt so she could take Gaspard’s throne, let her think someone else did it so she could keep her unwittingly as a fuck toy, trivialized and dismissed Briala’s requests to help her people, then right after finally promising to help them she immediately, brutally massacred over 3,000 elves just to show the nobles she “wasn’t soft on elves” just because some nobles mocked her in a play.
You can’t find out about or convince Celene she was wrong. Like Cullen, she gives a half-assed, “Maybe I should have done more…“ but then lets herself off the hook. By convincing Briala to forgive her, Celene gets her lover returned to her under her thumb, in a relationship on her own terms, where she has all the power as Empress and Briala surrenders all the power she’s earned (elven spy network and eluvian network) to Celene.
Worse, the narrative acts like, “Well, she still cares about Briala, so that makes it all okay.” Like with Cullen, feeling bad is the first step to redemption, not the last.
Michel de Chevin: Like Celene, the game completely glosses over his jerkassery or crimes against elves in The Masked Empire, and doesn’t let the Inquisitor discover it at all. In fact, it depicts him as this golden boy who lost favor in Celene’s court for seemingly no reason, and unless you skip Emprise du Lion or side with Imshael, he gets everything restored to him guilt- and effort-free.
Compare Blackwall, who is very much tormented by guilt over what he did, the Inquisitor DOES find out what he did, is very much held accountable by all the other characters for his crimes, and has to struggle, bleed, and work for his redemption.
Compare Iron Bull, who has to make the difficult choice of allowing his Chargers or Qunari allies to die, and (if the Qunari die) has to struggle with knowing he’s Tal-Vashoth, he’s cut off from everything he found familiar and stable, he has to question his previous dehumanization (de-personization?) and demonization with Tal-Vashoth, and grapple with his guilt and moral implications of hunting down and butchering thousands of Tal’Vashoth whom he previously believed were just insane, rabid monsters. He’s very much shaken and (if Trespasser is any indication) takes years to recover.
Why do the devout Andrastian human Chantry and nobility characters get easy-peasy “Oh, they feel bad, so that makes it okay” redemption arcs while everyone else has to wrangle through blood, sweat, and tears to get their redemption?
Imagine a War Table Mission where an important and super influencial orleslain noble is threatening to jump off the highest tower off his mansion if the Inquisition doesn’t lend his support with some weird ass family vendetta
And if you pick Cullen to solve it, he replies to the noble with a letter that says “do a flip”
Y'all I was thinking the other day about Dragon Age 4 and I got the weirdest sense of both nostalgia and excitement - cause like when those trailers drop I just know that I’m gonna be scanning each and every one for clues and then they’ll announce the companions and I’ll end up falling in love with one of them and the forums are gonna erupt in activity and I’ll be trading theories and be up for hours creating my character and just I don’t know I’m excited about getting excited there’s something magical about the time from when a game is announced and when it comes out that’s almost impossible to describe
I’m still mad about Vivienne de Fer of Orlais, master player of The game, having a shaved head. So I spent the last few hours doing this just to make a point. I was gonna only do like 3 but she is so pretty with rows (and just in general tbh) I couldn’t stop myself lol.
Please don’t misunderstand my intent, Vivienne is gorgeous with or without hair, and I would’ve been fine with this decision if there were Black people all over the game rocking natural hairstyles. But that is not the case. It feels like game devs hear us asking for afro textured hair options, do the least amount of work (”here is an afro and a smaller afro.”) and then call it a day. It’s frustrating.
We’re so underrepresented as it is. And then to finally have a Black woman who is a major character, who lives in a society where fashion is important to the point of being ridiculous, have a shaved head? It’s just lazy and that’s all there is to it.
Like this is where a google image search for inspiration and a little bit of doodling got me. If I can do this then people who are being paid to do a good job can and should do better.
(Mixed media: watercolor, colored pencils + digital color correction)
It was my honor to be part of such an amazing project. Thank you so much for @elidoo and @latefortevinter for organizing it all. The book’s honestly full of amazing art by many artists, and i feel truly happy to have been part of it.