Loghain is not a pragmatist

Not entirely true, obviously. He’s definitely an any-means-to-the-end guy, which is a pretty pragmatic approach to life.

But when you look at the really key turning points in his life, he’s not acting pragmatically at all.

Let’s run through some examples, shall we?

(1) Loghain leaves his father to die so he can babysit Maric

A combined force of Orlesian occupiers and Ferelden collaborators attacks the rebel camp where teenage Loghain has been living. It’s a losing battle but Loghain wants to fight. His father orders him to run, to get Maric to safety. Loghain loves his father, it’s his father’s last wish, he honors it. That’s absolute for him; his father’s wishes supersede his own. And just in case you might be tempted to think, “Well, he could do worse than to make friends with a Prince, especially since he has no hope with the authorities and his people all been slaughtered,” well… then you’d have to look at the first thing he does when he arrives at the Rebel Camp.

Does he wrangle himself a job, maneuver around with an eye for future advancement? No, he volunteers for a suicide mission.

When Rowan questions her dad about saving Loghain, her dad–the Commander–is almost pitying about it. He calls Loghain a sacrificial lamb. But Loghain suggested the battle plan. He volunteered for the riskiest job. That’s not pragmatism. That’s grief.

(2) Loghain and Rowan rescue Maric at the battle of West Hill

West Hill is the counterpart to Ostagar. A description of West Hill was the first thing that made me reconsider Loghain as a character, wonder if I’d taken the wrong angle (like lots of players, I’d initially assumed he was a one-note villain).

To recap: Loghain is a brilliant commander and strategist. He finds out that the Rebel army has been betrayed & is being slaughtered at the Bann of West Hill’s keep. What’s more, Maric, who’s kept away from the main force for his own safety, has been targeted for assassination.

Loghain can head to West Hill & see if there’s anything he can do to cut the Rebel army’s losses. Or he can go after Maric. He cannot do both.

Loghain saves Maric. When he has to make the choice himself, when it’s totally up to him, he chooses his friend. He leaves the army to be slaughtered, he finds Maric, and he gets Maric to safety.

He makes an emotional choice. He chooses out of love.

Then Maric makes a speech about how he’s one person, his royal line doesn’t matter, it’s the country of Ferelden that matters and the many individuals who make up his army who count. And he makes Loghain promise that if he’s ever in a similar situation, he’ll save the army and leave Maric to die.

Loghain promises… and we already know, from point #1, that he takes his promises very seriously.

(3) Loghain does not charge at Ostagar

There are lots of ways to look at Ostagar & I tend to believe that holding back the charge is the most strategic, most pragmatic decision Loghain could have made.

Trying to split hairs about why is a little silly; maybe it was Loghain at his most pragmatic, yes. But–just as easily–maybe it was Loghain at his most emotional.

When he was making up his own mind at West Hill, he chose differently. But this time he’s got a promise to keep, just like when his father sent him away with Maric. And if Loghain will abandon his father, a man he loves and idolizes above all others, to be cut down in battle (a losing battle against overwhelming odds, facing an enemy he deeply loathes–much like Ostagar), then yes, he’d do the same for Maric or Cailan. Did you catch that? FOR Maric or Cailan. 

More than that, Maric was the idealist. In a fundamental way, doing what Maric says is, for Loghain, doing the right thing. He doubts his own understanding of right and wrong. He doubts Maric’s common sense, yes, but not his ideals.

So holding back the charge is also an expression of trust, of devotion. Loghain trusts that Maric saw clearly, that Maric’s commands were worth putting into practice.

By holding back the charge, Loghain is honoring Maric.

(4) Loghain the Warden

Loghain’s approach to being a Gray Warden is 100% ‘let me make up for the wrongs I’ve done.’ He never tries to tell the PC what to do. Quite the contrary. He places himself under the PC’s command without reserve & repeatedly offers his own life, as though the only really useful thing he can do in the world is die.

That’s not pragmatic–it’s Riordan who’s pragmatic, talking about Loghain as an asset. Loghain himself is emotional.  


Loghain makes some terrible choices in the game. Absolutely. But that’s not really the debate I’m engaging in right now.

I see him as being pretty high-strung–one reason why he falls prey to paranoia in Origins. He’s not cold at all; he’s just got a really, really tight lid over a boiling cauldron of emotions.


MaRICH 2017 25f/31 - Rich as Gordon the triangle in the US/Canada tour of An Evening with Noel Fielding 2016 - courtesy of baker_in_the_sky instagram