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Queer Characters: Herren & Wade

Bloody dragons.

Next Tuesday (or Friday in some regions) Dragon Age 2 releases. The original, Dragon Age: Origins is one I recall fondly, especially since it featured a world that had multiple instances of same-sex couples or attraction, rather than relying on tokenism. Yesterday I outlined the couple of Hespith and Branka, who were a pretty significant couple in the story found in Origins. Today's couple? Not nearly as strong in terms of driving the plot forward, but useful in the long-run, and also featured in the expansion, Dragon Age: Awakening, as well as the DLC The Darkspawn Chronicles.

Wade, being prissy as usual.Wade and Herren are never blatantly called a couple in the game, first. Therefore, for some, they seem as nothing more than and Odd Couple inspired comedic trope. Wade is a master craftsman, and considers it his artform. Which is not to say he is making armor Lady Gaga would wear, but rather wants to make armor with rare materials. He wants to challenge his expertise in smithing.

Unfortunately, Wade carries a bit of the starving artist mentality--he'd happily work on one piece of armor for ages, ignoring running a business. If it weren't for Herren running the shop, he'd likely be poor, or forced to close his shop. The two complement each other in a business sense, as Herren is very mindful of running a business, but wouldn't be able to actually make anything.

The first clue that they were a couple for me was that Wade is a bit of a priss (also, that facial hair configuration is something I became accustomed to seeing at IML in Chicago). He has the attitude of a diva we might expect from Broadway, except as related to what people usually identify as the very masculine craft of smithing (which is already subverted by the fact that Fereldan does have accomplished female smiths--Branka being one example). After that, he and Herren's bickering was read more in the light of the two being a married couple who've been together for quite some time. It's never confirmed in game, though David Gaider has confirmed it for any who remain skeptical. Unlike the case with Dumbledore, it is not something that could never be read into the characters before his admission, however.

Regarding such, it's hard to imagine how the pair could have been made more overt. Using terms of endearment, considering their friendly bickering, and professional relationship would probably have seemed a bit out of place. As their relation to the player never steps beyond that of customer and shop, we never get a chance to look at their more intimate moments.

As for their depiction? As stated, Wade is a bit of a primadonna, which is further illustrated when he and Herren accompany the Warden to Vigil's Keep in Awakening, where he complains about having to make armor for common soldiers at Turnip Keep. Herren, like any profitable arms dealer, sees the fact that outfitting a growing contingent of Grey Wardens would be an excellent way to earn coin. Herren, on the other hand, comes across as a peevish profiteer, though this personality is understandable considering Wade's wild abandon.

Herren, behind the counter, and all-businesslike.In fact, if the Warden goes on to construct Drakeskin armor, and continues on to make a superior version, Herren will bar your character from further frequenting the shop. He's willing to indulge Wade for a while, but realizes it as a cost. This puts the player in a position of wanting to use them as a shop in Denerim, or getting a decent armor set (it's really useful for its fire resistance--flame on).

Ultimately, they are a rather endearing example of a couple who've lived which each other so long that they know how to hit all the right buttons. Exasperation is a part of it, but it's difficult to imagine that with their strong personalities they would stay together if they didn't love each other in some regard. Therefore, they work as business and personality complements, and illustrate among the happiest relationships we've seen thus far in Fereldan (which may well say something about how the writers see relationships).

One point of contention for some is that in the DLC The Darkspawn Chronicles, you, playing as a darkspawn, can come across Wade and Herren in Denerim. You can't attack them as you can other residents, however. Before you reach them, Herren transforms into a Desire Demon and teleports Wade away from the scene. If that were the true aim of the relationship, therefore, it would be rather disheartening as to what it could possibly say about that relationship.

However, there are a few ways to look at this. For instance, The Darkspawn Chronicles is not canon, and there are a fair number of jokes had at the NPCs and companions' expense throughout the campaign. It's placed in an alternate timeline entirely. On the other hand, it is placing their relationship in an odd context where Wade was tricked by a demon (which means Wade is interested in men regardless--and would prefer them). In my opinion, it seems likely that this was done in an effort to both feature them, while making sure we couldn't actually attack and kill the couple.

Overall, considering Wade's renowned expertise and Herren's willingness to go where there is money, it was hardly a surprise to see them in Awakening. I would also not find it odd to see them show up in any of Dragon Age's further expansions on the world. In fact, they provided an amusing sense of comedic relief, relying as they do on the Odd Couple trope.

6 Comments

Mr. Bubble said:

Small trivia: Herren's voice actor is Cam Clarke (Liquid Snake, Leonardo[TMNT], Kratos[Tales of Symphonia]) who happens to also be openly gay. Whether this was on purpose or coincidence, I don't know.

VorpalBunny said:

Oh my dear ponies, I just had a look at his full credits and my eyes went agog at how much of his work I've listened to over the years. Not just in games, but in animated works as well.

Thankees for the head's up. Going to see if I can get in contact with him (already sent an e-mail).

Ultraboy said:

Holy Crap! Not only was he Kaneda in the English dub of Akira, but he was the voices of both Lance and Max in Robotech!

Zach Risso said:

For the record, Gaider also confirmed the Darkspawn Chronicles incident as a joke, and not at all canon. They are, in fact, a human gay couple.

VorpalBunny said:

Ah, thank you, Zach. I knew it wasn't canon, but I couldn't find the Gaider link. You wouldn't happen to have it, would you?

Diana said:

Actually, I interpreted that Darkspawn Chronicles scene in a completely different way: I assumed Herren had made a deal with the demon to get Wade out of the city - he basically sacrifices his body to save his lover, which is exactly the kind of tragic ending TDC was all about...

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Diana on Queer Characters: Herren & Wade: Actually, I interpreted that Darkspawn Chronicles scene in a completely different way: I assumed Herren had made a deal with...

VorpalBunny on Queer Characters: Herren & Wade: Ah, thank you, Zach. I knew it wasn't canon, but I couldn't find the Gaider link. You wouldn't happen to...

Zach Risso on Queer Characters: Herren & Wade: For the record, Gaider also confirmed the Darkspawn Chronicles incident as a joke, and not at all canon. They are,...

Ultraboy on Queer Characters: Herren & Wade: Holy Crap! Not only was he Kaneda in the English dub of Akira, but he was the voices of both...

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