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Queer Characters: Dragon Age: Origins

Bloody dragons.

So, today's the day that Dragon Age 2 releases in some regions. Hence my realization that I started this Queer Characters feature, and had yet to actually outline the instances in Origins. The entries on Hespith & Branka, Wade & Herren, Leliana, and Zevran comprise the more robust content--that which has a bit more subtext and are the more present examples.

Therefore, this is just a rundown of some of the smaller instances in which you can encounter LGBT content--some of this is better handled than others, truth be told. In conjunction with the past four instances, these show that the Dragon Age team is not just content with tokenism when it comes to sexuality. Instead of just telling us sexualities other than heterosexual are not persecuted, even if they're found to be not the norm, these instances create content that assures us that we shouldn't assume everyone we meet is straight.

The fact that I've been able to write this many entries outlining more than one gay character/couple in a game? Unfortunately, that feels pretty rare. So, let's get to it.

Isabela before Kirkwall.Isabela

This pirate captain of The Siren's Call is set to be a companion in Dragon Age 2 (and notably less... clothed), which cued players in right away that she was going to be a bisexual companion. Encountered in Denerim's brothel, The Pearl, you learn she has a bit of history with Zevran. He assassinated her husband, who was the previous owner of her ship--rather than be distraught, she took over the ship.

Known for her cunning and ability to fight many foes at once, she has created her own fighting style, which she calls duelist. It's a specialization she can teach you if you beat her at a game of cards (where she cheats), or rent out a room and have sex. This option is available to both male and female Wardens, and furthermore is available to engage in up to a foursome with party members. The combinations involve Leliana, Alistair, Zevran,

She is a woman who is self-confident, owns her sexuality, and won't let anyone boss her around. Or, as Zevran refers to her, she's "Queen of the Eastern Seas and the sharpest blade in Llomerryn."

The Pearl

The Pearl is Denerim's brothel. Prostitution is legal in Fereldan, so one can walk in, take care of some quests, and then pick a prostitute from a lineup. Your sex doesn't matter, as you can select from a range.

The unfortunate part is where it use quotation marks around "female" and "male" companions. It seems to be played for humor, but in ways that are generally insensitive to trans* experiences. It did cause me to think about how to go representing trans* people in games--as sex workers who just exist it just seems so derivative and poorly approached.

The city elf Iona.Iona

During the human noble origin, you can encounter Iona, a city elf who happens to be Lady Landra's lady-in-waiting. The encounter is brief, but if you go to the study, you can flirt with her a bit, also learning about her child in the Alienage. Regardless of being a male or female Cousland, you can then invite her to meet you in your bedroom later that evening. Unfortunately, when Arl Howe's men attack, she is killed at the door.

The hunky Dairren. He's rather bashful.Dairren

Dairren is met at the same time as Iona. If a female Cousland, the mother tries to set you up, but as a male Cousland, you can go flirt with him. Topics include discussing a book on passion that was banned by the Chantry, during which he sort of stammers and becomes nervous when you become suggestive about it. In the end, you can likewise invite him to your room, and he makes sure that the intent is clear, that this is what you want. Then you go, have fun, and he gets shot by Howe's men--that Tim Curry, being the voice of so many dastardly people.

Fort Drakon

When you go to rescue Queen Anora, you meet a large contingent of soldiers led by Ser Cauthrien. At first, my tactics didn't properly adjust to the fight, and when my party wiped, I was surprised that I ended up locked up in Fort Drakon. In my skivvies. With Alistair in my cell. Here you can allow party members to rescue you.

Or seduce the male guard with your male Warden. When the option presented itself, I was rather shocked, but having maxed persuade, I decided to see if it would work. Indeed, my male Warden slept with his prison guard to stage a jail break.

Shale

The reason I bring up Shale is because she's an interesting comment on gender. I know many people who were under the assumption (some probably still are) that she's a male golem. I still boggle at trying to gender robots, golems, and other such beings, so it was with a chuckle that I was amused to find her commentary on her own gender comes down to asking if you both can make enemies fountain blood, as that's an appropriately girly thing to do.


Any that I missed, and you recall in particular?

Given this, I always found myself not worrying about the state of Dragon Age 2 too much, as the world in that series has already been much more positive for LGB folk than the two Mass Effect games thus far. Here's to hoping that trust was not misplaced.

2 Comments

Briker Ed said:

I really enjoyed reading your articles.
They reminded me just how good the devs did with telling stories, immersion and believability in general.
You may hate some of the game's mechanics, debate whether 50% of the skills are useless but definitely can't argue the good storytelling, which so many games lack today.

eweandwhosearmy said:

Great series of articles on this one, for sure.

Kind of nice to take a step back and just appreciate how queer Dragon Age: Origins really was.

Recently started up my second runthrough on the Dalish origin but I've actually been reading the codexes this time.

Something awesome I found out?

In the elven pantheon there are... QUEER GODS.

ZOMG

Andruil and Ghilan'nain were lovers in elven mythology. Andruil was the goddess of the hunt and Ghilan'nain was a mortal. Blah blah blah, Ghilan'nain got messed up by some hunter and Andruil turned her into the first halla - the pretty white deer things that hang out at Dalish camps. You can read the whole thing on the dragon age wikia, it's actually interesting so long as mythology is your thing.

It's a pretty insignificant detail when you consider the greater scope of the game but that almost makes it BETTER, y'know? By being treated as such a normal thing, such a non-issue, queer identities are even more affirmed. That's something I really love about the series as a whole. The fact that some people are gay (and some aren't) never becomes A Big Thing. It's just normal.

Now if only the rest of the world could catch up...

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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eweandwhosearmy on Queer Characters: Dragon Age: Origins: Great series of articles on this one, for sure. Kind of nice to take a step back and just appreciate...

Briker Ed on Queer Characters: Dragon Age: Origins: I really enjoyed reading your articles. They reminded me just how good the devs did with telling stories, immersion and...

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