ossobuco: Legion from Mass Effect 2 (lyna/alistair)
[personal profile] ossobuco

Oh, boy, it's been a while.

I was delayed by a couple of things. Life, first and foremost, but also constant crashing, which (to judge from the Bioware forums) many people have encountered in Orzammar. I guess rendering those vaulting stone ceilings is just too much for any video card that did not come from THE FUTURE, so thanks a lot, Bioware, for thinking of those of us with actually pretty high-quality computers and who STILL CANNOT HANDLE YOUR YEAR AND A HALF OLD GAME, ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Ahem. Anyway. Issue appears to have been fixed by turning the graphics quality waaaay down. D: Everything runs super-fast, but it looks terrible. I seriously felt like I was playing Drakan: Order of the Flame again (not to knock that game, though, because it's awesome). Ah, well, such is the price to pay for not melting my video card.

After some browsing of bug forums and the wiki, I found out where I went wrong with Leliana (there is apparently some totally innocuous response to something she says about Marjolaine that begins a romance path with no warning) and reloaded an earlier save. Had to play through the stupid Shale DLC over again, but since it takes about twenty minutes, no big deal. Once that was done, well, there's one giant glaring item left on my to-do list, and that is... caves. Ugh. Look, I'm an elf. I can do with human lands in a pinch—I mean, maybe there are too few trees for my taste, but at least there is soil under my feet and a sky above my head. But going underground? Ohh, no, no, thank you. Are you sure we need the dwarven armies? We couldn't call up Orlais or, I dunno, Antiva, instead? No? Ah... well.

… but let's fight that high dragon first. :D

I don't really need to describe it much, other than it was fucking epic. I brought Wynne for healing and Alistair and Shale for tanking, because when it comes to dragons, that's the only way to go (and I wanted to put Shale's combat abilities to the most grueling of tests). The battle lasted FOREVER. Wynne's wards were immensely useful. Have some screenshots.

The assault begins.

Alistair's not having the best day.

Wynne is a BAMF. She just is. Stares down high dragons and doesn't afraid of anything.

Probably my favorite shot of the whole ordeal. It's just so picturesque.

Anyway, having opened an extra-large can of whoopass on that high dragon, it's into the Frostback mountains we go! But when we get to the entrance to the dwarven kingdom, it seems that they've shut the doors and won't let anyone in, on account of their king having died and the assembly of nobles being unable to agree long enough to vote for a successor. Oh, well! We tried! Sorry it didn't work out, but good luck with that!

… or I guess we could help them with their problems. If we must. Oh, no, it's no trouble, none at all.

Now, I played this over the course of, like, three weeks, so you will have to forgive me if this is condensed. It's not fresh in my mind and a lot of it was fairly menial anyway. There's one thing that I do want to talk about, though, and that is the question of how in any stretch of the imagination can I be expected to make this choice in a rational and helpful manner? I'm an elf! Even if I weren't an elf, I'm an outsider! I know nothing about dwarven culture, politics, social expectations, kingly duties, any of it! I (Tracy) felt really awkward being put in the position of having to determine Orzammar's fate and the direction of their society, especially given that neither guy seemed quite so great. I ended up choosing Harrowmont for totally selfish reasons (i.e. because he seemed less hot-headed and therefore less of a liability with regard to what I need from the dwarves, namely support against the Blight), but that is hardly just.

I'm sure that these feelings are the intended result, by the way. I just wanted to point them out.

Anyway, after doing some side-quests, I pick my guy and proceed to do a whole bunch of stuff to prove his worthiness in the eyes of the ancestors, including fighting in a tournament, clearing out a crime syndicate, and oh, yeah, venture into the Deep Roads and search for a Paragon—basically, a dwarf whose accomplishments are considered so great that he or she is venerated almost on par with a deity—to support Harrowmont.

Now, there's something very sobering about venturing into the place where you know you are going to die. I mean, you may not die in the immediate future, but if a Grey Warden survives thirty or so years after their Joining, the Taint begins to overtake them at last, and when they feel their bodies beginning to give up, they go to the Deep Roads in what amounts to a kamikaze mission—charge among the hordes of darkspawn and kill as many as you can before you fall. There's almost a sense of panic to it for me (Lyna). Here, death is terribly real. And I (Tracy) wish, I wish so much that this had been addressed more directly in game. I believe it would be Alistair's first time in Ostagar and the Roads as well, so I would have loved to talk to him about these feelings.

Anyway, what the heck did we actually do... Oghren, a disgraced dwarven warrior, insisted on coming with us into the Roads to search for his ex-wife, Branka, the Paragon for whom we were searching. There were boss fights. Lots of boss fights. A spider queen (have I mentioned that playing this game has vastly increased my already significant fear of spiders dropping onto me from the ceiling? Because FUCKING SERIOUSLY), a darkspawn broodmother, some sort of demon that had been quartered (and that we figured we'd put it back together for shits and giggles, because what are you talking about, our self-preservation instincts are just fine, thank you), various ogres and other such beasts, what else? I can't remember. Oh, when we arrived at the Dead Trenches, there was the most fucking awesome cutscene, which involved what for me was, I think, the longest time spent shouting bad words at my computer ever. I mean... watching the party slowly approach the edge of the massive canyon, peering down into it at the hundreds upon thousands of torchlights of the unending horde of darkspawn, and then to top it off, the Archdemon itself flying up out of the trench. Fuck!

After this, there was a really fabulous siege-type battle with a bunch of darkspawn in front of the gates of the trenches. I played with some fun guerilla-style tactics, plus use of Sleep spells and strategic retreats and things, and it was a truly delightful battle.

Hmm, what else. Side quests, lots. Battles, lots. Hundreds of darkspawn met their ends on our blades. Finally we found Branka, who had gone pretty screwy in the head, had gotten her companions killed, and decided to use us to get through the series of trials and traps leading to an artifact once used to create golems (this being the reason that she had initially gone into the roads). We get through them and find the ancient forge, but who do we find? Caridin—the dwarven smith who alone had been able to forge the golems—himself transformed into a golem, and completely unwilling to surrender his anvil to us. Branka demands it, but when Caridin explains the exact methods needed to create golems (that is, taking the soul from a living body and binding it to a body of steel and stone), we side with him, defeat Branka, and destroy the anvil for good.

I was very tempted to side with Branka, since we're going to need all the help we can get against the darkspawn comin up not all that far in the future, and I'm just ruthless enough to consider it... but no. It would be bad. Alistair clearly doesn't like the idea of it, anyway, and Caridin seems infinitely wiser than Branka. So, we fight. Naturally, we win. I take her shield because it's excellent.

Caridin was a Paragon as well, so he forges a crown to indicate his support for whomever we choose, and then ends his too-long life by leaping into the rivers of magma below.

We return to Ostagar bearing the crown, and Harrowmont is declared king. Then, right in the middle of the council chamber, Bhelen and his followers attack, which makes me feel a little bit better about my choice (at least, to the extent that Harrowmont was clearly the more reliable of the two—nevermind that Bhelen's ideology would probably have been healthier for dwarven society, were Lyna more conscious of such things).

Once we leave Orzammar, I do my usual stop-off at camp and chat with everybody, plus a very productive round of gift-giving (fucking terrific swag down in those Deep Roads, let me tell you). Last but most definitely not least, I go and chat with Alistair. Now, here is the thing. Alistair and I (Lyna) are a pretty well-established couple at this point, and he calls me “my dear” and so on (which, by the way, is completely fucking adorable), and I am pretty unsure of how to continue from this point, since Dalish mores for this sort of thing are, like, the farthest from applicable that a thing can get, but, you know... I just spent way too long in the place where I will someday go to die (assuming I live that long). I feel like I should move some things along in my life, or, at least, enjoy what I do have to the fullest.

I (Tracy) have not been entirely sure how motivated Lyna would be to sleep with Alistair without fairly direct provocation. For the most part, I think she just has other things on her mind most of the time. That Blight thing, for one. Also, because of her Dalish upbringing, she tends to see sex as something you do to have children with the person to whom you are married or otherwise very permanently attached, and while her intentions toward Alistair are certainly monogamous (though very definitely not involving children, since the union of an elf and a human always produces human children, and no, thank you), I think her socialization might still prevent her from making an aggressive move towards sex at this stage.

But I—like her, apparently—decided, oh, fuck it, let's do this anyway.

I don't remember the exact wording of everything (it's been a couple weeks, you can't expect so much of me), but it mostly amounted to her up and saying, so, would you join me in my tent? and his replying, well, we have no idea what we are doing, but if you really want to? (and I believe this is certainly true, that neither of them have any clue what they are doing: Alistair grew up in the chantry with the original intent of becoming a Templar, so of course he knows nothing about it, and while Lyna would have surely gotten whatever the standard Dalish sex-ed amounts to, I'm sure she has little practical knowledge) and Lyna replies to that with, in effect, “eh, we'll figure it out.”

Given the above, I'm sure that the whole thing was significantly more awkward than the kind of hilarious ensuing cutscene might lead one to believe. I am also sure, however, that it was sweet and adorable.

Okay, party members! Now you may proceed with the dirty jokes and personal questions. So sorry to have delayed your fun. Also, Oghren, how many euphemisms for sex have you seriously thought up? How much time do you spend on this?

Well, with Orzammar all done, we are precariously close to the endgame, which people imply will blow my poor little mind. I expect I am not prepared, so I'm right now in the process of finishing up all of the side-quests and loose ends that I have thus far neglected. Next post: Shale feels terribly left out that I had gone to Orzammar without her, my party is fucking needy, and dragon scale armor is fucking sweet.
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