Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dustin' the Wynne

With one month to go before Dragon Age II emerges from the Fade and onto store shelves, I suspect some of you may be slogging your way through Dragon Age: Origins for a second or third time in preparation for this momentous occasion, and perhaps to rework certain dialogue choices you’d prefer to see carry over to the sequel. Fantastic idea, but a word of advice before adventuring too far into Ferelden: Ditch the witch. No, not Morrigan, although I’m sure you’ve thought about tossing her out on her sarcastic broom-seat a time or two. No, I’m talking about freeing yourself from the condescending verbal onslaught of that smug, holier-than-thou Spirit Healer, Wynne. In fact, I’d like to propose a preemptive strike of her recruitment altogether, and here’s why.

My first DA:O campaign saw my noble but naive Rogue join forces with the seemingly wise and experienced Senior Enchanter. Wynne set an example for my good-natured Grey Warden, and as a newcomer, he tried to follow her prudent advice on the path towards enlightenment. However, the farther they progressed in their mission, the more aggravated he became with her incessant bickering and generally negative attitude towards the party as a whole. It’s one thing to berate the leader for his morally ambiguous choices (we all have to make sacrifices for the greater good sometimes, right?), but her cattiness towards the other party members was just obnoxious.

Look, if I’d like to see where things go romantically with Morrigan or Zevran, or Morrigan and Zevran, then that’s my prerogative as an adult human/elf/dwarf and frankly, she should keep her dry, spiteful opinions on the matter to herself. I say, what happens in camp stays in camp and shouldn’t affect the mish one way or another. Well, aside from inspiring additional skills through dialogue, of course. Excuse me, but isn’t that a positive thing? Well, you’d never know it from the amount of grief wrought upon you by the sanctimonious old spellcaster. Seriously, she may as well have a special power for that, too. New skill earned: Guilty Conscience—drains the target’s stamina, Area of Effect = hearing range. GAWD.

“Read my pursed lips: I do not approve of your behavior.”
So why put up with her at all? I indulged this thought on my second play-through and have to say, it turned out rather well. To paint the picture, my new heroine, a badass Arcane BattleMage with a penchant for the dark arts, really had no use for a Spirit Healer in the first place. I groomed Morrigan for the position of party healer early on so when the time came to defend Wynne and the rest of the Circle of Magi from the demonic possessions taking over the tower, I simply decided not to. Actually, it was Morrigan who made the suggestion, but I didn’t hesitate in heeding her advice. Understandably disgusted by the words of my fellow apostate, Wynne threw a bit a hissy-fit. Instead of joining my party, she went into full-on attack mode right there in the Apprentice Quarters. Even with a school of orphaned, mana-wielding children in tow, this self-righteous hag has the runes to point her staff at me. ME! Can you believe it? Well let me tell you, as a former resident who resented every second she spent growing up in that godforsaken prison off Lake Calenhad, my heroine conjured the gnarliest fireball she could muster and hurled it into the thick of the crowd. The glorious inferno of terror that ensued after that seemed to cleanse the foyer of injustice with every experience point earned. When the smoke finally cleared, there lay Wynne among the rest of the charred remains. I’ll admit, as much as I wanted her out of the picture, it was still pretty shocking.

Look, I may seem flippant about the way things played out, but I’m not completely heartless. I take the Rite of Annulment seriously, dammit! The truth is, I really didn’t enjoy slaughtering all those innocent mages (much), but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t all worth it to be rid of that silver-haired know-it-all for good. I blissfully spent the remainder of the campaign doing all kinds of crazy, dark shit I would have never considered under the tutelage of Wynne. The decision to expel her really liberated my heroine and allowed her to blossom into the cold-hearted queen of mean she eventually became without having to compromise the integrity—or loyalty—of her party.

In the end, it was a total win-win situation. (Except for, um, Wynne.) So if you’re up for another go, especially if you’ve not played the darker side of Dragon Age, do yourself a favor and give the campaign a whirl sans-Wynne. You’ll be surprised how good it feels to be that evil.
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