The GWJ CRPG Club - Game 5: Dragon Age: Origins (In Progress)

Archdemon Dead! Vanilla Dragon Age is beaten. Noice.

pyxistyx wrote:

Archdemon Dead! Vanilla Dragon Age is beaten. Noice.

Dragon Age only goes non-vanilla once they introduce Iron Bull, so I am told.

Congrats, pyxi! One of these games I hope to finish before you do. Someday, somehow.

I haven't been blessed with much luck lately for free time. No progress from the Mage Tower. At least I have been wanting to play, which is good. I was worried about waning on this one. There may be hope yet.

I finished Lothering and the Warden's Keep. I've done all the setup stuff in Redcliffe, and about to commence the event. Progress has been a bit slow for me, but now that I've cleared away a few other things from my IRL to-do list, I should be able to focus my time here.

Why can't the voice actors all agree on how "Teyrn" is pronounced?

New to the GWJ Forums (but definitely not the podcast) and was inspired by this thread to replay DA:O. I thought it'd be fun to fire it up since I have nothing but (mostly) fond memories from almost a decade ago. Also, a CRPG Club? Count me in.

I'm the most vanilla (for both mods and character-creation aptitude) so I decided to roll with a Human Noble. I'm sticking with a dual-wielding rogue, which I'm pretty sure is what I ran with in my first play-through forever ago (although I was definitely a dwarf for that run). I decided to bump the difficulty up to Hard for this run, too. I've died a few times (mostly in the Fade), but nothing has seemed unreasonable up to where I'm at.


I passed through Ostagar and Lothering and everything seemed pretty familiar. I decided to go to the Mages' Circle first because I wanted to take care of the Fade first since I was always led to believe it was a slog (hence the Skip-Fade mod), but I was surprised by how "okay" it was. I didn't really have any prominent memories of the Fade from my first playthrough, and the Fade wasn't great by any means, but I dig that BioWare was trying something different with the 4 forms- if only to whack things with a giant stone as the Golem. One thing of note (and this is probably the biggest departure for me from my first run) is that I TOTALLY killed Wynne on my first playthrough in the Mages' Tower, because I remember having to respec Morrigan like holy hell to get her to have some healing spells. So I was pretty surprised to have Wynne join my party when I decided not to be a total jerk and declare that all Mages have gotta die.

Anyways, made it through the Mages' Tower pretty easily as a Level 7-ish squad, and decided to head to Redcliffe next. The party hit the Zevran speed bump and I decided to spare him. I remember being pretty ambivalent about him, and I think I still am. Talked to a few folk in Redcliffe and that's where my squad of Alistair/Morrigan/Wynne stopped.

So far I'm finding the game pretty enjoyable even though it is a bit dated. I don't mind the graphics (hence why I just jumped in straight-vanilla-like) and the companion banter still got a few chuckles out of me. I'm just kind of rolling as an average, ambivalent rogue-man, and having a good enough time even if I'm not taking the sarcastic or outrageous dialogue options. The combat is fun (I really, really like "combat-pause" RPGs; Baldur's Gate and PoE are my jams) and just challenging enough on "Hard" where I'm not squad wiping every other battle but I'm not exactly coasting. As others have mentioned in this thread, I forgot how damn good the "Tactics" are for companions- it is so great to have my mages doing "smart" things while I'm running around like a mad man with my rogue trying to backstab some fools. I'm interested in running through the Deep Roads again based on some of the comments in this thread. I'll probably try to wrap up Redcliffe in the next few days and then chip away at some of the DLC areas- peep a dead king on the battlefield, fight some ghosts in an old keep, pick up a pet rock, etc. I'm excited to see how things continue to play out- it has been a nice stroll down memory lane so far.

Welcome, funkasaurus!

Your writeup has got me excited to start too. I'm in the final stages of the previous CRPG game, and have to travel some next week, but I'm thinking I should be able to start next weekend. I'm looking forward to finally getting going on this.

Alright! I am underway! I finished Divinity: Original Sin this morning at 4am, so tonight I shifted gears to resume my Dragon Age play through.

Barcelona, my mage, had just reached Level 3 and arrived in Ostagar when I halted that game at the end of December to concentrate on finishing Divinity. I picked things up tonight, and spent some time advancing the main quest lines in the area. A good chunk of the time was doing the first quest there. By the end, I had just hit Level 5.

A few years ago I played a start to a point maybe 2-3 hours past the point I reached tonight, and a lot of things were coming back to memory. One thing that I do remember was that I struggled with combat in my old playthrough. Maybe I've leveled up my RPG skills in the meantime, because tonight things were very manageable. I paused liberally, which made controlling my characters so much easier. Playing a mage was fun, too, as I could shift from damage dealer to healer as the situation demanded, and we pretty much rolled through the first quest. Good times.

I know what's coming for the next couple of hours, and am hoping I can get to fresh content over the weekend.

My modded system, so far, is steady as she goes. No crashes or noticeable glitches. With the graphic mods I've got installed, I'm perfectly happy with how things look.


Out of Ostagar and into the Wilds now. I'm still about an hour short of the farthest I've gotten in previous attempts. Our party is up to three, and we're Level 6/7. Steady as she goes.

So far so good. I'm enjoying the combat, the story and the characters.

I'm kind of haphazardly choosing skills and spells when upgrading. I'm hope I'm not gimping my characters in some way.

Wrapped up part of Redcliffe tonight, and decided to take care of some Mage Collective and Chantry Board missions before heading to Denerim to sell and buy some swag. Some frustrating stuff entailed.

Some Redcliffe Spoilers-


Starting with Connor, the Arl of Redcliffe's kiddo. I wanted to save him because I remember I had absolutely no patience for this last time and decided to just immediately kill the kid, demon and all. This time, despite best intentions, it turned out I made some sort of a mistake in the Mages' Tower by not saving all of the mages, so I couldn't consult them to help save Connor. And I told Bann Teegan we can't trust the Blood Mage doofus in the basement who started all of the zombie horrors in Redcliffe. So what option did that leave my crew and me? KILL THE KID!

So Dragon Age history repeated itself with me. Oh well. Decided to save for posterity's sake.

I ran into a really tough fight labeled "Refugees" on the map where there are 10ish peasants and about 15-20 darkspawn. Took me a few times, but I finally got past it after I decided to just focus down the super-Emissary hurling fireballs near the back of the field. After this I took care of a few more bandit-slaughterings and then Alistair decided to give me some sh*t for killing Connor. Whoops.

Anyways I get into Denerim, and suddenly everyone has some technocolored clothing glitches. I sell some stuff, buy some Lyrium (because I'm constantly running low on it with Wynne perpetually casting healing spells) and decide to head into the Wonders of Thedas. Click on the door and........ crash.

No biggie, I quicksaved in the Denerim marketplace. I decide to load up the game and........ crash to desktop. I try to load the quicksave again, and yet another crash. My last save? After I killed the kid in Redcliffe about 2 hours ago. Oh well. I'll start anew tomorrow.

Godzilla Blitz- when it came to spells and skills I mostly did the same. Then sometime during my foray into the Mages' Tower the spells and skills kind of clicked into place- I realized where I wanted my characters to push into a bit. I'm definitely playing Alistair as tank, Morrigan as glass-cannon destruction mage, and Wynne as my healer. If I recall correctly the only major change from my first play-through is that I used Sten/Shale instead of Wynne as a second melee. Which kinda reminds me that I need to go get Shale and see what's up with that hunk of stone.

I kept going this evening, pushing past the point I reached in my attempt a few years ago. I spent the time in Lothering, doing quests in and about the town. My main character hit XL 7, and so far so good.

After about 100 hours of Divinity: Original Sin, I have to say that it's so refreshing to have voiced dialog that doesn't sound like Monty Python's Flying Circus. I'm also really enjoying the back and forth background banter the characters are producing. Morrigan and Allistair in particular are super entertaining.

funk - Thanks. I think I'm starting to get a plan for what I'd like to do with character development now too. What I'm trying to wrap my head around now is party composition. Right now I've got me (mage - half damage/half healing), Morrigan (at the moment her default skills), Leliana (rogue), and Allistair (tank). This feels a bit squishy, but I'm not that interested in switching in Sten yet.

For the moment I'll stay as I am and just wing it as I go, but for people who have played the game, is it workable to have one tank and three mages? I'm not that interested in devoting energy to making my main a healer, so I'm thinking that at some point I'd add Wynne to fill that role. That'd leave two damage mages, a tank, and a healer.

So may decisions!

At the moment I'm on the whole liking things quite a bit. Combat is kind of making sense, the story is engaging enough, and the gritty, third person perspective is a nice change of pace from Divinity. Thumbs up!

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

I'm kind of haphazardly choosing skills and spells when upgrading. I'm hope I'm not gimping my characters in some way.

I wouldn’t do that. The very first time I played DA:O I more or less did the same thing. There is an encounter at Redcliffe that, try as I might, I just couldn’t get past. Some of it was because I went straight there after Lothering, a lot more of it was that my character builds were dreadful.

In the end I lost 20 hours of my first playthrough attempt and had to restart from scratch. That was an over reaction for sure, but I did a little googling (just about back In those days) and rapidly realised that I’d completely gimped most of my characters.

However, there is a respec mod now. I would highly recommend you use it to be honest. The game doesn’t help you here - Morrigan’s default build is particularly bad - so it’s worth investigating and doing something about it.

In my opinion of course!

Ah, good to know, thanks! I found a character guide and will start to reference that as I go along. I think I'm early enough that I can recover, and might not be that for off from some good builds as is. If things are hopelessly messed up, I'll install that respec mod.

I'm still not sure how I'll develop my party, but I think that'll become clearer as I have the opportunity to add more members.

Do characters not in your party level up somehow, or do only the ones you carry along with you get XP?

They level up so no worries there

funkasaurus_rex wrote:

Anyways I get into Denerim, and suddenly everyone has some technocolored clothing glitches. I sell some stuff, buy some Lyrium (because I'm constantly running low on it with Wynne perpetually casting healing spells) and decide to head into the Wonders of Thedas. Click on the door and........ crash.

No biggie, I quicksaved in the Denerim marketplace. I decide to load up the game and........ crash to desktop. I try to load the quicksave again, and yet another crash. My last save? After I killed the kid in Redcliffe about 2 hours ago. Oh well. I'll start anew tomorrow.

So...the GOOD news is that you'll get another chance to save the kid!

The BAD news, is that this is because if you're getting that glitch in Denerim there's a good chance your entire game is screwed and you'll have to mod it up a bit and restart (you might, maybe get away if you install the mod that fixes the memory leaks and try again (see near the start of the thread, i'll see if i can find the proper link and instert it here for reference later)

I got the same thing and my only option was to restart the game from scratch.

ok, if you've not already, try this patch then play from where you last saved. If it still crashes, you might just have to bite the bullet and restart from scratch.

Thanks, pyxistyx! I was prepared for the doomsday scenario that you were dishing out- I tried the 4gb patch, but no luck. I saw that Denerim was giving you a tough time earlier in the thread, and was trying to be thoughtful for what I could do to take care of the issue. I was bracing myself to reset and then slog through another 15 hours of Dragon Age to get to the point where I'd inevitably


have to murder Connor in Redcliffe

but I decided to toss one last hail Mary.

I knocked my graphics settings down to "Low" in Denerim, and lo and behold, everything worked perfectly well. I don't know why (well I've got a hunch), but setting the graphics presets to Low seemed to solve the problem in Denerim. I turned my video settings up to High, or Very High, or whatever they should be set to outside of Denerim and all was well.

So I went on being a knucklehead. Wardens Keep/Shale/Return to Ostagar Spoilers:


I was surprised how quickly Wardens Keep flew by (I chose to spare the demon- go and do your thing in the world demon grandma; just don't murder people) when compared to Return to Ostagar, which seemed to just draaaaaaag on. Alistair wasn't Strength 36, so he couldn't wear all of the sick Ostagar armor, but at least Warden's Keep had a fun 'story'. Return to Ostagar reminded me a whole lot of the Mass Effect 2 Return to Normandy mission (I think that's what it was called?).

Anyways, I went to get Shale and ran into the Kitty-Demon. I tried to keep the cat-demon from overtaking the daughter, but after 5 or 6 failed attempts I reloaded and decided to just let the demon roam free in the girl's body. I know, poor moral choices, funkasaurus. I think that's my biggest hang-up: on Hard, I feel like I get into some fights and I chose to go with whatever choice will allow me to circumnavigate the sometimes laborious or even seemingly impossible combat scenarios. It isn't a big deal, but I remember allowing the demon to possess Amadia (or whatever her name is) in my previous play-through 10 years ago because I got sick of trying to win a fight where I'd get fire-balled 30 times in 2 seconds.

Anyways, I'm getting the Urn of Ashes, and I still more or less remember what goes on here. If I recall, a party member is gonna be a jerk to me here soon, but I'm not really using that party member right now. So we'll see what happens.

Glad you got through that, funk! Clever solution for the graphics problem! Sorry I didn't help, but I had held off on looking inside the spoiler text until I got to that point.

Sorbicol wrote:

They level up so no worries there

Most excellent, thanks!

I've got a few days of travel coming up starting tomorrow, so I'll jump back in to this on Friday. I'm itching to keep going.

My goal is to finish by the end of March, mid-April at the latest. I really want to catch up so I can play the next CRPG game from the start of the session.

dang! I didn't even think of lowering the graphics settings. Good thinking!

I happened into a lot of free time the past two days {thanks, snow day!}. Which translated me forming a bit of a love/hate relationship with DA:O (at least on the Hard difficulty). There have been quite a few fights where I've had to cheese it extra-hard (swapping everyone to bows, including Alistair, to plink down an enemy's health while avoiding aggro'ing the target or just running in circles as Wynne, casting group heal from time to time).

Urn of Andraste and Brecilian Forest spoilers-


I spent entirely way too much time trying to get the Urn of Andraste's ashes for Arl Eamon's sorry self. Haven, and moreso the temple, was a masssssssive pain!! Mage fire balls and chain lightening galore! "What's that, you think you killed the Cult Overseer and you're home free? Surprise, here's 15 dragonlings and Drakes!" I wrapped up that questline, though, and then took care of a few other side quests that popped up on the overworld map.

I decided to head into the Brecilian Forest next, and I totally forgot almost everything about this story line from my first playthrough. I didn't even remember that werewolves were involved! I made it through the forest and temple really quickly compared to the Urn missions, thankfully. I noticed that I really started to skip over some of the dialogue here though- not sure if it is because I didn't find the story at all engaging or if I'm beginning to experience a bit of DA-fatigue. But that's probably because I spent a lot of time today playing DA:O, shoveling out driveways and cars from the snow storm, and watching episodes of Game of Thrones in between those two activities.

I'm not going to have much time to continue my push this week, but I figure I'll start on Orzammar over the weekend. Then the Landsmeet! I'm not sure if I'm going to mess with any of the DLC- Liliana's story, Awakening, or Witch Hunt. I'm leaning pretty heavily into finishing this up, taking a Dragon Age break, and then playing DA2 and DA:I- despite how much I loved DA:O my first time through I never actually played the other games in the series! For shame!

I got back to playing tonight after some work travel this week.

Nothing tremendously noteworthy. Party members are still Levels 6/7. We cleared up what seemed like everything to do in Lothering, and made our way to Denerim. Looks like lots of things to do here!

I played a bit more tonight, mainly picking up quests and talking to people in Denerim.

When I tried to load my Denerim save this evening, the game kept crashing. Repeatedly. Nothing I could do.

However, I remembered the funkasaurus solution, tried that, and my game fired right up! Score! Thanks!

I'm happy to hear the low-graphics fix worked for you, Godzilla!

I pushed through Orzammar for a bit this weekend.


I chose to side with Lord Harrowmont over the prince because once again I didn't have the patience for the Prince's missions- I preferred to just jump into the proving grounds and cut through some Dwarven champions. The Deep Roads are.... well, the Deep Roads. Mostly how I remember them. I just got to the archdemon/bridge cut scene, which I remember, so I don't think I have a whole lot further to go.

Overall I feel like I'm starting to run out of steam a bit- I'm not worried at all about finishing up the game, but my enthusiasm has waned a bit since I began. I think the combat is just getting a bit repetitive for me- I'm still rolling with my duel-wielding rogue, Wynne (healer), Morrigan (crowd control / paralyzing / nightmare professional extraordinaire), and Alistair (ultra tank) so maybe I'm slightly to blame for my woes since I've not changed my squad since the Mages' Circle. I'm right around level 16/17, and I think I've put in about 30ish hours. My first playthrough clocked in at around 103 or so hours (according to Steam), so I'm definitely taking the less scenic route this time around.

I picked up DA2 for sale since I've never played it, and figured I'd want to keep it around for when the DA itch hits when I'm finished up with DA:O. I'm going to play through Awakenings and Witch Hunt for sure, but that might be a month or so after I've wrapped up Origins to give myself a bit of a break from the combat.

I'm getting my steam back for the game, but it seems like leveling up is going kind of slowly. I did a handful of quests in Denerim tonight and only leveled up by about a half level. I think I need to pick up the pace.

I'm thinking to go this way with my party, which looks a lot like yours, funk:
Main Character (me): Blood Mage damage dealer
Alistair: Tank
Morrigan: Debilitator
Wynne: Healer

(I haven't found Wynne yet, so for the time being I'm using Leliana.)

I don't have any travel for a bit, so I'm hoping that I can get in a good run of evenings where I can play for an hour or so, and maybe a couple of longer chunks of time over the weekend.

In all the play-through's of DA:O I've done, I've never used Zevran in any of them. Nothing about his characer interested me enough to invest him, considering how late in the game you come across him and by that time Liliana was doing it a lot better.

I made some conscious efforts this time to use characters I don't usually bother with - Oghren being the main one - but Zevran, Sten, the dog and (to a lesser extent) Wynne I rarely used. I did need to respec Morrigan not to use Wynne though.

Godzilla, did you go straight to Denerim after Lothering?

It's not looking good for making it through this one. I got hung up on some more action heavy games after playing Divinity, then the Banner Saga and haven't felt the urge to go back. I only made it up to the Warden trial before drifting away. I'm not finding the visuals and gameplay to be so bad as to need a lot of modding. The only thing I did was add something to make larger fonts since I am on a 55" TV. Having played Jade Empire this is an interesting look at the evolution of Bioware's style. It's a shame Jade Empire's world was not mainstream enough to carry on and instead they went with what is essentially LOTR with modern accents.

I suppose there is still plenty of time but I have classes starting in a week, which pushes my game time off to mid-May. The good news is that will help to keep my streak of not buying any games this year alive.

Sorbicol wrote:

I did need to respec Morrigan not to use Wynne though.

Humm. I might think about this. I could respec Morrigan into a healer, then keep Leliana or add some other damage-dealer.

Sorbicol wrote:

Godzilla, did you go straight to Denerim after Lothering?

Yes, I thought I read something about not going to Ferelden (sp?) right away? I wasn't sure where I should go so just picked the biggest city. Would there be a better approach?

imbiginjapan wrote:

It's not looking good for making it through this one...

No worries, imbiginjapan! Glad you tried it!

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

No worries, imbiginjapan! Glad you tried it!

Hell I voted for it... life just took me in other directions!

Things suddenly got harder. Not as hard as "Wow, I can't win this fight", but I did a longer series of battles in Denerim and pretty much every battle involved consuming lyrium and poultices, and pretty much every fight resulted in someone dead that required an injury kit to bring back to full strength. I wonder if I'm even breaking even on these fights. I burned through a lot of consumables...

And I think I need to work on the party auto-AI commands. Gosh, my party is stupid unless I click on them and tell them what to do. I as soon as I turn around to give someone else a command, there they go, running right at a party of enemies with a magic staff. Stop, you idiot, you are not a tank!

I've also noticed that sometimes a character will pause after I give them a command, for as many as 5-10 seconds, before doing whatever they want instead of what I asked them to do.

Main character up to Level 8 though, and making some progress with various Denerim quests.

imbiginjapan wrote:
Godzilla Blitz wrote:

No worries, imbiginjapan! Glad you tried it!

Hell I voted for it... life just took me in other directions!

Well then, thanks for voting for it! I'm liking it much.