i really dont understand people who outright loathed dragon age 2
i mean yeah it had some shaky parts but on a whole i thought it was actually brilliant
it was nice not to play as the chosen hero who must save the world from destruction by the ultimate evil and instead just be this person in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time, depending on how you look at it)
and the fact that no matter what you did you just couldn’t fix things was just swoon worthy because honestly that’s how the real world works; you can’t heal the earth by slaying a dragon and saving a lover
i think people went into the game expecting another origins, and of course it won’t measure up to those expectations because they’re such different games with such different messages
origins was the story of a hero’s epic journey to vanquish the bad guys
dragon age 2 was the story of someone thrown into events beyond their control, and who ends up starting a revolution (no matter which side you’re on)
dragon age 2 wasn’t supposed to be pretty or happy; it always ends with a world in chaos and the knowledge that you were partially responsible for starting it, but maybe possibly it was necessary for the future to be better than what thedas is at present
dragon age 2 wasn’t a tale for someone looking for easy, shiny escapism. It was supposed to make you think and feel and agonize over what happens and wonder if there was another way and if grief and violence is worth a brighter future and no matter what conclusion you come to, dragon age 2 was what delivered you to it
and i think that’s pretty awesome
There’s a bit of dialogue before the final battle where purple Hawke says, “I was kind of hoping for a happy ending,” and Orsino deadpan replies, “I doubt we’ll be seeing that.”
And then everyone around you goes batshit while the world is literally burning all around you and you lose everything you spent 30 hours building. Awesome.
#though I think DA2 definitely can be wish fulfilment #’unhappy’ ending and all #just not for the most priviledged dudebros #like #for me personally #the first time I got to the end the ending was such a power fantasy #like maximum wish fulfilment #when you’re oppressed in any way you go about your life feeling like there isn’t much you can do about it #ever #and then in this game you got to FUCKING DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT #like maybe it wasn’t the standard perfect ending where you single-handedly defeat the evil and save everyone #and everything is right in the world forever #but that’s not really my fantasy anyway #it’s kinda simplistic and stratches my disbelief too much idk #my fantasy is exactly what we got at the end #to have an opportunity to really fight for yourself and your kin #and maybe you don’t win in a single battle but you get to really fight with all you’ve got #and visibly contribute to the change even if it’s not all sunshine and roses #idk idk #that’s in part why I think people talk about mage oppression so much more than elf oppression in DA #because the elf oppression is so real #and there’s nothing you can do about it #while the mage oppression you get that wish fulfilment of doing something about it even if you don’t get to really win you at least get t… #-o fight #dragon age #shit had I known the tags would be this long I’d write a proper post #oh well
I had a lot of babbly thoughts in my head upon hearing this quote again in the audio post of this line that I reblogged earlier, but this is way too long for a comment and I hate making huge text posts without cuts, so I’m dumping said babble here.
Part of what really gets to me about this line is that he doesn’t say, ‘future generations,’ or even just, ‘children,’ he says, ‘our children.’
They are very personal things, for him—the concepts of family and children.
I’m pretty sure that he’s very aware that he, himself, is probably never going to have any children, but the subject of family is still extremely important to him. It’s reinforced a few times in his dialogue, one reference which sticks out pretty clearly in my mind, specifically:
“We have toed the line for a thousand years. We have given up our families, any chance for children, any chance for love. And they fear us all the more. We can win no ground with appeasement.”
Being taken from his mother and losing his chance to have a family of his own, in turn, seems to be a wound that’s never really healed.
I think that’s part of what draws him to Hawke and keeps him there, regardless of whether Hawke reciprocates any of those feelings—the dedication that Hawke has to their family, what they’ve been through for the sake of their family. From his perspective, Hawke, of all people, should understand why this is so important to him.
And I believe it’s also large part of what made him open up his clinic in Darktown. We see more children and families in Darktown than anywhere else. There are all these families who have fled the Blight and lost so much, and all they’re trying to do is stay together. And he can help them, by keeping disease and death from tearing more families apart.
I think people too often forget about that side of him, and, considering that, how much it really must have hurt him to do what he did at the endgame, how necessary he had to have believed that it was, how cornered and helpless and out of options he was, knowing how many people it would ultimately hurt and even kill, and how many families will be torn apart by the coming war.
And in the whole concept of Anders being the Martyr that Bioware has been emphasizing, going from a healer to a murderer is the last thing he still has to give for his cause.
It’s scary how things escalate. First it’s his body, then love and any chance of a family, and finally his identity. After all, this is the core thing that he is - a healer. Maybe it’s faulty logic, but once you cross the line from preserving life to destroying it I doubt you can still consider yourself to truly be one. I have seen a lot of people mention that losing Hawke to get his rebellion was the most horrible thing to sacrifice. But I think this one’s worse.
Only makes sense that after that the only thing left that you can take is his life.
Cripe Jana, you’re making me cry.
Another very, very long reply.
Just…people. you gotta read this. Katie is the most awesome person, the lengths she goes to to address every single point in her reply…beyond compare.
A gaming metaphor for life.
But seriously, this is worth a read.
Always reblog Scalzi.
Perhaps one of the best metaphors for privilege, I have ever read.
Well, lemme take a stab at addressing this point-by-point. SUPER LONG, you have been warned.
I shall reblog this wonderful wall of text by katiebour for later reading.
Edit: I’ve read a bit now and would like to just leave a small nugget. I recall reading a fanfiction and a book (Admittedly a world of warcraft book, the one on Thrall and Aedelas Blackmoore) From the looks of it, if Aedelas had been treated differently. If people had looked beyond his father betrayal. He might have been a different man.
I also recall reading a fanfic, Eragon fandom. I think. A black dragon trying to be accepted, only to scorned at every turn labeled a villain or a monster for his appearance (they never looked beyond his appearance), eventually breaking due to a number of unfortunate events and in the end he gave the people what they wanted.
In fact there are a lot of psychology studies that point out how a child/man is treated will influences how s/he will be. In which case the Chantry is making the monsters they fear.
Okay that was a lot longer than I planned.
I never could understand that hate against Elthina. She viewed both sides as children who needed looking after. In someone in the position of authority she wanted to treat them both the best she could. I’m not saying it was the best decision to make, but she was trying to protect everyone.
Well, if we go with the two children analogy, Elthina is the single mother to a fifteen-year-old and a ten-year-old, and they also have a baby sibling (Kirkwall’s non-mage citizens) that Elthina focuses the majority of her attention on.
The teenager looks after the younger sibling in Elthina’s stead while she attends to the baby. Only, the teenager doesn’t always do a very hot job of it. He’s beating on his little brother, calling him names, saying how mom doesn’t want him, and he’s why dad left.
So the middle child tries to find coping mechanisms. He starts mutilating himself, he acts out at school, rebels against his elder sibling, and even starts taking out his anger on the baby.
A sensible mother stops letting the eldest son take care of the middle kid and finds someone better suited for the job. She has options, she has a niece who’d do it for cheap. Instead, she keeps letting the eldest look after the middle child, and maybe scolds the eldest when she sees him doing something he shouldn’t to the middle kid, however, not usually in a manner that’ll actually deter the eldest child from his behavior.
She doesn’t do anything to help her middle son, she doesn’t discipline the eldest for being a total shit, she says, “look at what your squabbling is doing to this household. Go to your rooms.”
She ignores the problems festering in her middle child, does nothing to protect him from his elder brother, until one night the middle child snaps and attacks her because of her neutrality.
Wow, did this get dark.
Wow. That’s a perfect metaphor for Kirkwall’s situation!
That’s a really excellent metaphor.
Reblogging for perfect analogy
Well that’s both a perfect and darkest analogy I have ever read.
I was writing a post on the BSN about character abilities. Hit a wrong button, browser went back, and entire essay vanished. BLEARGH!
However, I was on an interesting train of thought regarding companion specializations.
In DA:O, we could equip our party members with just about any armor and/or weapon. We had overall schools that they studied, but there was flexibility. Everyone could have a ranged weapon. Warriors could use any weapon they wanted. Mages could learn any school.
DA2 restricted us, and a lot of people were irate about that. Why couldn’t we give Isabela a bow, or Varric a pair of daggers?
BECAUSE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, that’s why.
All of these characters had other things to do in life besides practice a martial or magical art. They might spend a decade or two honing skill with one weapon, but that doesn’t make them a master of all.
And I kind of love that. As much as I love and hate Seb, one thing that I unequivocally love about him is that backstory- how he got up every morning before dawn to practice, to make his grandfather proud. Like Nathaniel whom he replaced, there’s a history with bows. Sebastian isn’t an archer because we gave him a bow- he’s an archer because that’s WHO HE IS. Give him a pair of daggers and tell him to stab someone, and the prince in his lily-white armor might recoil in disgust. Ask him to stab someone in the back and he’s likely to lecture you on the rules of warfare, and how backstabbing is a dirty, underhanded tactic and he’ll have none of it.
Beth is pretty flexible, although in the Entropy/Creation dichotomy she falls on the side of Creation. She’s Sunshine to everyone, kindness, forgiveness, healing of all sorts, but I find that her major personality trait is her fondness for “what-if?” What if Varric had stayed in Orzammar? What if the Hawkes had grown up in Kirkwall? What would Carver have thought of everything? What if she’d gone to the Circle? In a way, she and Seb are almost a perfect pair, the boy who can’t make up his mind and the girl who wonders about everything. That flexibility of “what-if” is reflected in the fact that you can spec her from the beginning of the game in just about any way you wish.
After she goes to to the Wardens or the Circle, she’s granted the Force Mage spec, and at the end of the game she seems to have graduated from “what-if.” Her entire speech of “For years I tried to understand why Andraste needed to lock us up, but now I know that the system is wrong” shows a stronger, more determined Beth. The what-if girl becomes a Force to be reckoned with.
Ah, Carver, compensating for something? He’s so emasculated by his older sibling, by always being the second best, the middle child, the little brother always outstripped by Hawke the elder. His bitterness in his personal quest, the pointed dialogue where he sneers at the thought of any of his father’s letters being for him (after all, if he lives, he’s the only non-mage child in a houseful of mages) and it’s really not surprising that he chooses the biggest weapon he can swing to say “I’m not a mage, SO WHAT.”
Bianca is more than Varric’s crossbow. In my mind, she’s a symbol of his love/hate relationship with his heritage as a dwarf- for all of his ridicule of typical dwarves and their water-clock inventing paragon ancestors, he’s uncommonly fond of the wonder of his repeating crossbow. And Varric, spinner of stories, keeper of secrets; how could he not have a mysterious, anthropomorphized weapon who keeps others at a distance, who acts as a convenient excuse to push away those who get just a little too close? Asking him to put Bianca down for a pair of daggers is more than a simple swap of weapons- it’s a contradiction of his character. Varric may kill people, but he does it to their face, with style, singing Bianca’s song under his breath as he takes on all comers.
Isabela wields daggers because they’re hidden, a secret power, her tendency towards back-stabbing both a literal and figurative habit of years. You can’t haul around a bow and quiver of arrows while climbing rigging in a storm- bowstrings have to be oiled, wrapped, and you have to have two hands free to use one. A dagger you can fit between your teeth, in a thigh-sheath, in a tall boot, at your waist, on your back. Perhaps all of the above. She’s used to being backstabbed, first by her mother, and she carries that forward. Isabela’s not one to hang back and shoot from a distance, unless it’s with a cannon on her ship- she’s either up close, in your face, unapologetic, acrobatic, stunning and lithe, or she’s behind you, with a dagger in your kidney, and you never see her coming at all.
In a way it’s like the woman she used to be, invisible to her husband, a trophy behind the scenes to be exhibited at will, and the woman that she became, the strong, amazing, self-confident pirate who keeps friends and enemies within arm’s reach, melee distance always. Step one- do something, step two- ???? step three- profit! There’s little or no forethought to Isabela, and she says as much- “Don’t read too much into it, ok? It just seemed like a good idea at the time.” She’s not the kind of woman who sits on a castle wall, bow in hand, planning and waiting. Fools rush in, after all.
Fenris has been trained to be a living weapon, a bodyguard and a pet. So much of his power is based in lyrium and anger. Not for him, the precise, measured strokes of the duelist, the fencer, the show-swordsman. Not for him the concentration of the ranged attack. Like isabela, Fenris is in-your-face, but where she ducks and dodges, he leaps, rends, smashes, destroys. The power of his markings is the power to crush hearts, to lash out with spirit force, years of harsh conditioning pushing him to go on even when he’s exhausted, muscles screaming for respite.
He fights in broad strokes, application of massive force both physical and magical, and it simply wouldn’t make sense to give him a shield, to look to him to fight defensively. I think it’s telling that Isabela and Varric wonder if he can pick pockets or perform amateur surgery with his markings, and he’s completely bemused at the thought. It’s as if he’s never considered more delicate applications of his power. And a person wielding a giant weapon swings and follows through- there is no pulling the blow, no second-guessing. Maker help the person in melee range, friend or foe, who fails to dodge his strike.
Fen is like that in his romance as well- once committed, it’s an all-or-nothing proposition that goes from verbal to physical in the space of a night. He doesn’t know how to tread delicately, and when he retreats he does so just as completely. Like picking pockets or pulling out blades or reading a book, it takes him three years to learn to dance the steps of love, to acknowledge his own weakness and fear and that he might need to take a relationship in steps, instead of trying to embrace all the wonder and terror of love in a single fearless strike.
Aveline is one of the most balanced characters in-game- she has her moments, her fears, her weaknesses, her tendency to be over-protective and overbearing, so absolutely sure that she’s in the right and that only she can get the job done. But for all of that she handles the loss of her husband and the events at Ostagar with strength and fortitude. Everything Aveline does relates to personal strength and protection- I’m neither surprised that she starts with 2h weapons nor that she takes up the shield and keeps it.
She’s above backstabbery or trickery, and at the same time she must be in melee to step in front of and take the hits for those she cares about. You could hand Aveline a ranged weapon and tell her to stand back, but at the first press of enemies you’d find her at your side, shouldering you behind her and bringing up that shield to protect- that’s simply who she is.
Merrill has spent years studying lore, magic, stories, fragments of the past, analyzing lost artifacts under Marethari’s tutelage. Nature magic seems to be her forte, with the control and use of blood as a reagent and weapon in herself and others a recent addition. Blood magic seems to inhibit the ability to heal in both DA:O and DA2, and the codex entry for the school of Creation seems to imply that Entropy might also be involved:
Opposition in all things:
For earth, sky
For winter, summer
For darkness, Light.
By My will alone is balance sundered
And the world given new life.
The School of Creation, sometimes called the School of Nature, is the second of the Schools of Matter, the balancing force and complement of Entropy. Creation magic manipulates natural forces, transforming what exists and bringing new things into being.
Creation requires considerable finesse, more than any other school, and is therefore rarely mastered. Those mages who have made a serious study of creation are the highest in demand, useful in times of peace as well as war.
—From The Four Schools: A Treatise, by First Enchanter Josephus.
Since Merrill has access to Entropy, but not Creation, and Anders vice-versa, I am inclined to think that a strength in one school generally precludes power in the opposing school, and thus, Merrill can’t heal because she’s naturally inclined towards Entropy.
Anders, oh, Anders. Why does his tree feature both great powers of healing and self-harm? Isn’t that his very nature? People have postulated, and I agree, that (one) of Anders’ study specializations at Kinloch was Spirit Healing. His tree says he’s “always had a knack for healing,” and is it at all surprising that a brash boy, used to thinking that he can control Fade Spirits- (because he’s learned so much and they very clearly break down into certain types, and all of those sacrificed years behind stone walls have to count for something, don’t they)-is it at all surprising that he’d make a deal with Justice?
Spirit Healing (Specialization, DA2):
Few mages are watched more closely by the templars than spirit healers. For all the good they can do, their consorting with any denizen of the demon-infested Fade is a matter of intense suspicion. Still, the benefits outweigh the risks, if only just.
There’s a reason for his Panacea/Vengeance duality that I think has less to do with Justice and more to do with Anders himself. He’s a damned powerful mage- in a world where some mages can barely light a candle, we see his mastery of Fire in Awakenings. We can also assume that Fire is his base element, since his magic first manifested in the barn-burning incident when he was twelve. He alludes to his command of “that electricity thing” which is very, very finely-tuned Lightning. And calling upon just enough Lightning to titillate and not to harm is actually damned hard. As an exercise, sing. Then sing softly, piano. Then softer, pianissimo. Go as soft as you can. It’s easier to just yell then it is to control your volume. Same thing with controlling the smallest bit of Lightning as an exercise in bedroom antics. Then you add in a healer so powerful that even Merrill says “Anders, you can heal anyone!” Then you add in a bit of Spirit with that Spirit Bolt to Keran.
And Justice gives Anders more mana, but Justice himself is a Fade Spirit, not a mage. And since Kristoff was not a mage, that pretty much means that any of Anders’ magical knowledge comes from Anders himself.
Anyway, back to Panacea/Vengeance- there are two sides to Anders, even before his merger with Justice. In Awakenings if you are pro-mage, you see one side; the cheerful, snarky guy with a knack for jokes and healing, harmless, right? His codex entry implies as much:
Anders has a rocky history with the Circle of Magi. Taken from his family when his talents first manifested, Anders was still a boy the first time he ran away from the Circle. Recaptured and returned dozens of times, Anders was still considered only a reckless scamp by First Enchanter Irving, who thought his easy temper and sense of humor made him no true threat.
That’s the public face he wears- the one that’s gotten him out of major trouble, most of the time, the one that makes casual friends and lovers with ease.
But if you’re anti-mage in Awakenings, you see Vengeance. You see the angry, bitter man who’s seethed for a decade or so in his stone prison. You see the powerful, dangerous revolutionary who leashes both his magic and his temper. You see the man who was locked up for a year with only his anger, along the occasional presence of a cat to keep him (relatively) sane. There is the fire, the lightning, the spirit and the power. Anders doesn’t speak about the Harrowing much except to decry the practice in general, but I don’t get the sense that it was any great trial for him. He’s spent his entire life learning to control himself and his powers- of Anders’ weaknesses, willpower isn’t one of them. Pride, perhaps, and rashness, a glib tongue, a compassionate heart and a fiery temper: these are the things that get Anders in trouble.
I don’t know if I could go back to Origin’s flexibility- the choice of weapons in DA2 seems almost integral to the personalities of the characters, and in the end I love characterization more than anything.
*noms on all the delicious head canon here.* great post <3
I can’t get comfortable enough to sleep, and staring at the walls is driving me nuts, so I’m just tapping this out with my good hand while I try to rest a bit.
So. I’m sitting here thinking about Dragon Age because, I mean, what else do I really ever think about anymore? At…
It always starts as a study of the human form, and then it becomes another Anders sketch.
This is a young Anders in solitary confinement.
It is never explicitly stated that Anders’ was tortured, he claims he was never raped and never tried to kill himself, but I am not convinced.
Anders’ life could not have been easy, no matter how much he downplays his struggle through it. All of the hurt and all of the shame that he was put through built up to give him that irrepressible determination and passion that is ‘Anders.’
Vengeance was not something that happened overnight, it was not something that can be blamed on Justice. All Justice did was to lend Anders the courage and the conviction to follow through with it all. Those feelings were always there, buried under so many layers of charm and cynicism. He will never let the Templars beat him.
Just my take on this beautiful, multifaceted character.
(ps: I used a reference, credited on my Deviantart. Pfft, you guys thought I had imagination!)
I wanted to reblog this earlier, but I wanted to wait until I was in a physical and mental state to be able to comment on it properly.
I think sometimes it’s so easy to forget how torture in its many forms can break people. And solitary confinement used in this way is torture. Humans are social creatures. They thrive on social contact, for the most part.
Shutting someone away with nothing but the voices in their own head and the thoughts locked away in their own mind is a traumatizing experience.
Anders only mentions it once, and tosses it off like it’s nothing. Just like he mentions being physically abused by his templar ‘companions’ in Awakening.
In DA2 he says he’s never been beaten, but… that seems like skirting truth, to me. Maybe he’s never been raped by a templar, or maybe he’s lying. Maybe he’s been abused in other ways that weren’t quite rape. Maybe he has contemplated suicide, or maybe he hasn’t. It’s hard to say because he dismisses his own negative experiences so flippantly in Awakening that it’s hard to evaluate just how much he’s been hurt, or what he’s brushing off because it hurts too much to dwell on.
But regardless of the finer points, he’s been hurt. A lot.
He says his most recent punishment was solitary confinement for a year. I have a hard time believing they just jumped right to a year of solitary from meager slaps on the wrist. I can’t help but think they worked up to it. Maybe a few weeks. Then a few months. And yet, he kept running away, knowing the consequences.
And Justice? Justice didn’t make him the person he became. He was a driving force, yes, but he did not create Anders. All he did was shift all that potential, pent-up anger and rage into active mode. He turned it outward, instead of inward. He made Anders face up to the fact that other people were suffering as he was, and deserved better. That if he was able to break free from it, it was his responsibility to do something about it, because if not him, then who?
It was supposed to be a partnership. It… disheartens me when people view Justice as a parasite or a disease that poisons and ruins Anders. Their relationship in DA2 isn’t healthy… but it’s not one-sided. It’s a struggle to deal with forces that neither of them can really control. And they try. They try very, very hard. It’s clear they care about each other, to the greatest extent that they can. Their relationship is important to them.
Nevermind the way it must feel for Justice, to be riding along in the backseat for everything Anders says and does. It’s another type of confinement, even if it was willingly embarked upon, to start. Always present, but so rarely ever having a say. It’s his body too, Anders conceded that when they merged. It was a promise to share. And yet, Anders is the one calling all the shots and making all the decisions, even if Justice doesn’t agree with them. Even though it might be for the best that Anders doesn’t let him have his way with things… it doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult. It can’t be easy for either of them.
But I’m digressing. Back to the main point.
What happens to Cullen is a good example, also — of the kind of damage that can be done to a person through confinement and torture, be it mental, physical, or both. Cullen, you know what you went through? That’s what mages have to go through. All the time. Their entire lives. Trapped by the templars. Tempted by demons. Afraid. Alone.
And you going through that was enough to make you want them all dead, and think of them as subhuman. Inhuman. Monsters. Not people.
Sorry for going on quite for quite so long, Bram. Your picture and words just gave me a lot of feelings.
In DA2 he says he’s never been beaten, but… that seems like skirting truth, to me. Maybe he’s never been raped by a templar, or maybe he’s lying.
I never really tried to bring this up since I was expecting to be kicked in the head in different ways for going against what happens to be canon, but I always got the impression he was lying.
I got the banter where Anders mentions he’s never been beaten or raped by a Templar after the incident with Ser Alrik.
But when I was playing through Dissent… the way Justice is unleashed axactly after the moment Ella says she’d do anything not to be made Tranquil, and Justice is ready to turn on her as well as on the Templars… my headcanon was that Anders loses control because he happens to see an exact situation of something that happened to him earlier. That it is something he hates himself for a great deal and kills/almost kills Ella because now that self-hate and anger of being under the Templars’ grasp is directed outwards.
If Justice manifests exactly when Anders loses all control of himself, the events in Dissent are clearly the ones he feels strongest about. Justice doesn’t go rampant when blood magic is involved. He doesn’t go on a murder spree when Meredith announces she will annul the Circle. When rape is mentioned, he is instantly out.
When the banter with Sebastian played later and he just brought up being beaten or raped in first place, this was the first thought I had:
Suspiciously Specific Denial
A False Reassurance works because the speaker is being vague and non-specific enough to pull the wool over someone’s eyes. A Suspiciously Specific Denial, on the other hand, fails because the speaker is Saying Too Much. This may be unintentional, such as when the speaker is panicked, a Bad Liar, or perhaps just a little stupid.
I had to rethink the whole thing of course since Anders says he’s been fortunate and nothing ever happened, but I have to admit it took quite a lot of work. Especially since he has very interesting definitions of being kicked in the head not counting as a beating and he *never* lies.
But anyway, since I personally know someone who has been tortured, seeing a rape, a beating or a particularly gruesome execution can be just as damaging as being subjected to one.
I may be expressing an unpopular opinion here— I like ME but it’s not my favorite thing in the world like KOTOR or DA, take it with a grain of salt, I’m removed from things. PLEASE do not take anything of what I say below as an insult, I will try my very best to word myself politely and be nice and not combatitive.
I do not think that ME3 should get a completely new ending.
In honor of Dragon Age 2’s one-year anniversary, I thought I’d dust off my meta-pen and write up some thoughts about why, to me, this game has such staying power. Alas, I’m a little rusty — maybe it’s high time I did another meta-essay challenge :)
Vladimir Nabokov, my all-time favorite author, liked to say that literature was not for the casual reader. “One cannot read a good book: one can only re-read it,” he writes in his 1948 essay, “Good Readers and Good Writers”. “A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a re-reader.”
That mindset is obvious in the way he wrote his labyrinthine novels; while certainly you can enjoy The Real Life of Sebastian Knight or Invitation to a Beheading well enough the first time through, it’s not until the second or third reading that you begin to tease out the intricate patterns in the plot, the hidden codes, the jokes. (V-Dawg was the strangest sort of comedian in that his jokes were only funny if you already knew the punchline.) Nabokov himself blamed this perceptive delay on the physicality of reading, something that doesn’t necessarily occur when, say, viewing a painting or sculpture:
When we read a book for the first time the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation.
I would argue the same is true, maybe even moreso, for videogames. The first time you play a game, the physical mechanics of play—that is, learning button combinations, optimizing your party tactics, figuring out the best boss strategies—will inherently interfere with or overshadow your understanding of the game’s story. You can get so caught up in finding all the Figments in Psychonauts, for example, that you forget to actually look at the ones you collect. It’s only on the second and third playthroughs that you actually start to notice the shapes of those Figments, and you realize that not only do they contain massive spoilers for the end-game, but they also tend to be really goddamned freaky, because people’s imaginations are, well, really goddamned freaky.
This low signal-to-noise ratio is just the cost of doing business in creative pursuits, and most games writers, I imagine, go into their endeavor expecting that much of their story will be lost by the majority of players. Yet thankfully that doesn’t stop them from being brilliant, because there will always be that small segment of players who are good players, major players, active and creative players—who are “re-players”.
Dragon Age 2 is game for re-players.
Every time I think I’ve discovered everything there is to see about a quest or a scene or a storyline, I still find new things or new ways of thinking about them every single time I go through.
That’s the real magic DA2 holds for me.
After the last Anders confession, I thought about reiterating stuff from my meta essays about the Chantry, but I feel like that would be preaching to the choir, since most people I know on Tumblr have already read all those, anyway. So I’m just going to babble about the Chantry and Anders and Justice instead.
The Chantry, as an overall organization, particularly in regard to its treatment of mages and the management of the Circles of Magi, is completely and utterly broken and in need of reconstruction or reform.
The problem is that it’s too powerful and resistant to change to allow that to happen.
Do people not understand how much power the Chantry has?
I am just going to reblog this now. So I can read it later.
My immediate response to this confession, hopefully now contained. I was going to leave this alone, but then I thought, why? Everyone runs in to defend Anders or Fenris or Sebastian whenever we see a post about them, so dammit, I’m running in to defend Justice.
I’m not going to debate your disliking Justice, OP, because we all have characters that grate on our nerves and who we constantly avoid putting on our teams because something about their voice and their attitude and their opinions is severely unlikeable to us.
I certainly wish you were able to see him differently, because there is a wealth of information about Thedas available through his eyes, and certainly very telling signs of his interest in mages in the lead up to DA2 that- since you are clearly an Anders fan- would be quite fascinating for you. But beyond that, he is also a very polarized character, and understanding him can be a chore sometimes. He can sound hypocritical. He can be frustrating. He can seem deceptive. And really, aren’t all of the Dragon Age characters like that to some extent? For Justice, these are not out of any sort of malicious intent, merely because you are dealing with a creature- not a human, remember?- that does not understand the concept of middle ground until it/he meets the Warden. He’s used to a world of severe black and white, of demons versus spirits, of justice versus corruption, and he doesn’t know that there can be perfectly acceptable shades of grey until he joins the Warden.
I’ll admit, some of the things he says- particularly his painful misunderstanding of Dalish and human relations around Velanna and my elf Warden- can be annoying, but (and this is the one I keep coming back to every time I defend him) he’s not human. He doesn’t have our understanding of social mores, of social faux pas, of clearly marked don’t fucking talk about that you idiotbecause he doesn’t recognise taboo subjects, or facial cues, or any of the millions of other things about communication that come naturally to us.
So I get that he’s frustrating sometimes in Awakening, and I know that not everyone is going to like the same characters as everyone else. I have my dislikes list, the characters that very rarely see the light of day on my playthroughs, so I’m not disputing that you can’t like him (although I wonder if perhaps you don’t understand him).
But as to his horrid influence on Anders? Welcome to the party.
Firstly, Anders has had just as much of a terrible influence on Justice, so if we’re going to point fingers, it goes both ways. Anders even says as much in the scene immediately after Karl’s death, saying that his emotions were too much for his friend and that it changed him. Straight off the bat, our first introduction to Justice is Anders admitting the change is his fault.
And why wouldn’t it be? Has Justice ever been exposed to emotions before? Debatable, depending on how you view his possession of Kristoff’s body, but certainly not in the magnitude of what he would be experiencing now. Their first act together- according to the short story Jennifer Hepler wrote- was to slaughter the Wardens and soldiers travelling with them. A little extreme, certainly a violent response, but more than warranted, given that Roland stabs them through the chest with the intent to kill. At the point of their merger, Justice would have encountered Anders’ unhappiness in the Wardens, his suspicions, his belief that he wasn’t trusted or liked (go check out the short story if you haven’t read it before), and imagine being exposed to that after never having felt emotions before.
Imagine seeing colour for the first time ever, or even gaining sight for the first time ever. Imagine going your whole life without it, and then being bombarded with it over and over and over again. Except emotions never become easier to manage, unlike sight- let’s face it, most of us have had a lifetime’s experience and we struggle daily. Justice has to try and reconcile the wild highs and lows that are Anders moods daily, but he has to try and accommodate them into his black and white way of thinking. Are you surprised he’s possibly unbalanced?
There are issues with the merger, sure. If you rival or rivalmance Anders, you are putting he and Justice more at odds with one another and you as Hawke are making it worse. His horrid influence on Anders? Might not be so horrid if you weren’t so determined to make your displeasure known. And there are moments every now and then were Justice does not act logically- the moment in Legacy where Corypheus gets into their head, potentially killing Ella (again based on Hawke’s calming or abrasive influence on Anders)- but guys, you can’t judge a non human character by human standards.
They think differently to us. They act differently to us. They are different.
And Justice is no exception. He’s a spirit, for crying out loud, a concept, an idea, a value, a virtue. He’s not a person!!! His message might be warped by the pain and the anger and the anxiety all balled up within Anders, but that’s Anders influencing him right back.
So OP, I understand that you may not LIKE Justice as a character, but I am seriously over people acting like this is a one sided affair. If we’re going to talk about Justice’s horrible influence on Anders, let’s talk about Rival Templar Hawke’s horrid influence on Anders, because really I know which one I think is worse.
Defira, come to me for hugs and Fadecookies.
Reblog for the great answer.
“Don’t ever leave.”
Welcome to ‘Leah Sobs Grossly and Babbles Over Stupid Anders Things’ Corner.
I love this whole stupid scene. I don’t love it despite the stupidity, I love it because it’s stupid, and because they’re so overblown and melodramatic and goofy and utterly awkward because that is what this kind of love is, highlighted by that childish silliness and naive sense of drama and desperation.
Especially when you’ve lived your whole life believing it’s something you’ll never be allowed to have, and suddenly the impossible is not only possible, but reality.
Love isn’t rational. It doesn’t make sense, and it can’t be reasoned with.
It just is.
And I love these animations, the facial expressions (tiny little curves of skin and muscle, brows knitting together, a wrinkle or two marring an expanse of smooth forehead, the crinkling at the corners of the eyes, the tiny upturned bit of a smile), but I hate the gross red-orange filter that’s all over every inch of them in the actual gameplay and original screenshots.
Perhaps somebody at the design studio took the whole ‘~afterglow~’ concept a wee bit too literally.
No wonder everybody in Kirkwall knew they were sleeping together. They could see them glowing from all the way outside the city walls.
And now it’s my bedtime, before I make even more of an idiot out of myself.
I’m right there with you, which is odd because I normally don’t fancy the saccharine-flavored romances so much. Yet here it works. Why? Well I think in large part it’s supposed to stand in contrast to Act 3 where Anders is distancing himself from Hawke. That withdrawal wouldn’t have nearly the same impact if Anders was always a slightly insular person. But instead we see him as someone who is dedicated and perhaps even a bit clingy. Thus his retreat sends up big, flashing warning lights that something is awry.
Impressioniste also hit upon one of my favorite aspects of this romance: it’s Anders’ first real shot at love. This is such a big part of why I love this arc. Anders went from being imprisoned and stealing what moments he could with his lovers. From what Wynne and Anders tell us about life in the Circle, he would’ve been raised believing that love is something for other people. Mages don’t get a shot at it, don’t deserve it. That’s a real damaging thing to someone’s psyche. And even in the Wardens, Anders was eventually betrayed and assigned a templar overseer, so he gave up any shot at happiness so he could become the avatar of the cause of mages.
Yet, despite all that, despite whatever psychological abuse he suffered in the Circle, despite his self-imposed chastity so he could focus on “more important things,” he still finds love. Is it any surprise that when he falls for Hawke, he falls hard? I don’t think so. This is the first time he’s ever been in love, the first time he’s ever been allowed to love. These emotions are so strong to begin with, and he’s feeling them for the first time as a grown man. It’s no surprise he acts a little giddy.
And that’s why it works. Anders overcame so much psychological conditioning to get to this point. He’s not a lovesick teenager, he’s a man who has been kicked and beaten (emotionally and physically), but at the end of the day it hasn’t shattered him. He can still feel these overwhelming, positive emotions when a different man might only be capable of hate. That’s a big thing, a powerful thing. It shows Anders isn’t completely broken or corrupt no matter what you think of his actions in Act 3. He still has the capacity to love someone deeply and completely.
“A world so full of beauty that beauty goes overlooked.”
I have many thoughts and feelings about Justice, but because I feel so much it is rather difficult to sort it all out. I have tried to write something that is more on the coherent side of appreciation, but I fear that it is a lost cause,…
*stands and applauds*
Sometimes I forget that I’m not the only Justice fan out there, that there are so many people who love him just as much as me, and when I read something so heartbreaking and eloquent and so magnificently thought out it just makes me want to dance with happiness.
There is so much of Justice’s journey that we aren’t privy to, so much that we have to guess at from what Anders alludes to or from those moments of fierce emotion when spirit is stronger than man. For me, that will always be the most disappointing aspect of DA2- not knowing what my favourite Awakenings character was thinking, how he was coping, how he’d sunk to this point where threatening a young girl seemed the best course of action. It frustrated me and broke my heart to find him reduced to what seemed like little more than a plot device.
Justice in Awakening is hands down my favourite character in the series, but I agree- even then you could see the beginnings of desire in him, which is inevitable I suppose. He’s never really been given the opportunity to want things before, the opportunity to understand how something can belong to someone (and really we as Wardens make this so much worse by showering him with gifts, giving him things that are his, where before he has never experienced ownership). His first encounter with Aura leaves us with the intriguing comment ‘this body has memories of her’, and all the myriad of meanings we could read into that. Can he remember Kristoff’s desire? His lust for his wife? His anger from any inevitable fight that couples sink to at some point? His love? His grief at being torn from her, knowing he is going to die in the Blackmarsh and never see her again? Anders talks about corrupting Justice, but the process had already begun well before the two of them merged. And by corruption I don’t mean that he was evil, not by any stretch of the imagination- instead it is sort of like a diluting of his essence, away from the purity of what he was. Before he was simply black and white, good and evil, just and unjust with no room for compromise. From the moment he enters the human world, he begins to see that there are shades of grey in between.
And Justice as Vengeance makes sense, because (and I’m at work so I don’t have my dictionary with me for an exact definition, please forgive me!) vengeance is the personal/ individual pursuit of justice beyond the limits of the law, which makes sense given what Justice has gone through. For the first time in his existence, he has a concept of personal grievances, personal anger and a personal need to right things. Before his merger with Anders, he needed to right injustices because he simply needed to- it’s what he was. Now he has reasons beyond that, and that takes him beyond the purity of what he was in the Fade. He’ll never be that spirit again, not just because he has an understanding of desire and anger and pride and all the other emotions and sensations that would bombard him on a daily basis, but because he now has an understanding of individuality.
He understands what it is to be more than just a spirit of justice. And in learning that, he will never fully be one again.
Do I believe that Justice is gone entirely by the end of DA2? Maybe. Do I prefer to hope and dream otherwise? Of course. There’s goodness in Anders, just as many beautiful emotions as there are dark and twisted ones; is it wrong to believe that Justice might have taken in the brighter parts, the decent parts, the loving, defiant, humourous, flirty, courageous, compassionate man that Anders was on his good days? I’ve already said before in lengthy rambles why I think there are redeeming aspects to Justice, why it’s wrong to write him off as a rabid, raving spirit who terrifies Anders and it tickles me pink when the fandom agrees with me. But that doesn’t mean that Justice, as he was, didn’t walk down a dark road in pursuit of that which he was programmed to pursue. He didn’t know how to want anything else, and Corbie said it brilliantly in her Unjust series: the world does not look kindly on a spirit with desires beyond what is considered acceptable. He wasn’t the same spirit he was when we first met him; that was inevitable.
Doesn’t mean I still don’t love him with everything I have. I still choose to spare Anders every time because I’m choosing Justice as well, or whatever spirit he has become now. I wish we’d had a chance to interact with him, to shape the creature he was becoming. Maybe I’ll just have to make do with choosing to support the mages, and loving him through Anders, in the hope that it shapes him to be a better man/spirit.
And combination-nc, that was just beautiful to read. It absolutely made my day to see this here- see, I promised I would reblog!! I am quite firmly in love with you now.
Gorgeous, beautiful, all of it. Bless you wonderful, eloquent people. ;;