Mark Plays ‘Dragon Age: Origins’: Hour 16

In the sixteenth hour of Dragon Age: Origins, I AM REALLY FRUSTRATED. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to play Dragon Age: Origins.

Hour Sixteen

You know, it really was only a matter of time before I hit a wall. (Don’t worry, though; I have a solution!)

For the most part, this is not a criticism of the game. I have no problems with it! Well, wait, I have one tiny complaint, but it’s rather inconsequential. I admit that what happened here in my sixteenth hour of gameplay is pretty much my fault for a few reasons.

So, I’m gettin’ shit done in Denerim, collecting payments for finishing off a whole host of quests. I get my armor made out of dragon scales AND IT TOTALLY RULES. I finish dumping the dead bodies for… ahem… someone. Can’t say who. Not important. I even picked up the first, second, and third assignments from Master Ignacio of the Antivan Crows. (Though I lost 1 point of approval from Wynne, who was pissed I’d help them out. Shush, Wynne, I’m a rogue, THEY CAN TEACH ME BEAUTIFUL THINGS. Right???)

The one place I hadn’t explored much in Denerim was the Deserted Building. Sweet! I had a mission to take out some ~hidden~ blood mages, so I thought it was worth checking out. I handled the blood mages before, so what’s the big deal?

I made three critical mistakes when entering this place:

1) I did not save often.

The first time, with some difficulty, I made it to that final area with the fire traps and the mages stuck behind the row of overturned tables. I died. I loaded the last save, and I was at the entrance to the whole fucking building. GREAT. Let this be the one and only time I need to learn this lesson. I was so mad I just started laughing. Like, that kind of laughter you get when you’re too tired to think about why something you’re laughing at is funny? That kind.

2) Sten is in my party.

Okay, I know me judging him as a character is biased. I admit that! If I’d had him for a longer amount of time and built him up as he leveled up, I’d probably feel better with him. But this entire hour, I felt like I had to babysit Sten, like I was his goddamn mother.

Sten, stop dying.

Sten, take a health poultice, please.

No, Sten, don’t immediately run to the most powerful villain and draw his attention.

Sten, no, I’m in Stealth, I told you to stay there.

Sten, would you please stop dying in the first ten seconds of every battle?

Sten, use anything that stuns an opponent first.

Sten, don’t walk in the fire.

Sten, fire burns you. Seriously, don’t do it.

At one point, Wynne turned to Sten and basically told him to wear a sweater. HE IS LIKE A BIG MAN BABY, I SWEAR. It’s distracting. At least Alastair worked better in the party and did constantly make condescending statements to Wynne. I am swapping him out as soon as I can.

3) I did not have a strong enough party.

And that’s part of the learning process of this game. Each character and class brings their own strengths, and they work together in different ways. So I’m not faulting the game. I made my own decisions, and those decisions sucked. What I wish the game had done was something I recall Borderlands doing. If you got a mission, it would tell you what recommended XP level you should be before you attempt it. It was great! You know if a mission or map was going to be too hard or super easy before you ever did it. Dragon Age just throws you into it, and you hope for the best.

Again, like I said, my complaint is inconsequential. It’s not a problem with the game. I’m just being entitled. My solution to this frustration? I’m just going to leave the Deserted Building and go elsewhere. I can finish this when I get stronger, you know?

So, off to see what Denerim has to bring me in the next hour!

My Character Stats

Strength: 24
Dexterity: 23+2
Willpower: 18
Magic: 14
Cunning: 17
Constitution: 21

Heroic Stats

Kills: 258
Damage dealt: 44288
Friendly-fire: 0
Greatest damage dealt: 90
Contribution to party damage: 37
Hit rate: 86
Most powerful foe slain: Uldred
Injuries: 6

-1 to approval of Wynne for taking Antivan scroll. Adama still adores me as he should.

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45 Responses to Mark Plays ‘Dragon Age: Origins’: Hour 16

  1. Ryan Lohner says:

    "Sten, don’t walk in the fire.

    Sten, fire burns you. Seriously, don’t do it."

    Because he's drawn to the fire. Some people never learn. So he will walk through the fire and let it burn.

    I didn't go into this place, so not much else to say here.

  2. Don't feel bad Mark. That deserted building is a pain. I have no clue why it's proportionally more difficult than all the other things in denerim but it is. I die all the time there unless I save it for really late in the game when I'm stronger.

  3. Captain Hook says:


  4. Ursula says:

    Oh my, you've been overwhelmed by the evil blood mages? Now, isn't that something. But don't worry, you'll be alright. It happens to many guys, you're not the only one.

    <img src=""&gt;

  5. Eliestav says:

    Ooh. THe blood mage building. That was harder than any of the bosses for me. AI suspect if Alistair had clense magic it would've been a lot easier.

    First time Playing
    Continuing Dwarven adventures, Fvqvat jvgu Uneebzbag, xvyyrq gur pnegn, naq abj V'z tbvat vagb gur qrrc ebnqf. Btuera vf…bxnl V thrff? Znlor vg'f whfg orpnhfr nsgre cynlvat gur Qjnes aboyr bevtva V'q or jnl zber vagrerfgrq va frrvat Tbeevz gura guvf qhqr. GUrl'er obgu Fgrir Oyhz naljnl. V zrna lrnu, V trg Btuera unf cybg fghssf jvgu Oenaxn yngre ba, ohg ur ershfrf gb unir n pbairefngvba fb V pna trg gb xabj uvz, naq ur snyyf va gur fnzr avpur nf fgra qvq.

    Fb fvapr gur fgbel vf nobhg Tbyrzf, V svtherq Funyr naq Btuera jbhyq obgu or pbby gb oevat qbja urer sbe cybg ernfbaf, naq JBJ VF GUNG ABG JBEXVAT. Rneyl tnzr V hfrq Funyr nf n gnax yvxr nyvfgnve, ohg vg qbrfa'g unir nf tbbq n trne abe gnyragf nalzber, fb n qvssrerag avpur zhfg or svyyrq. va gur zrnagvzr, zbeevtna arrqf znan pynfu be fbzrguvat.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      V npghnyyl fubhgrq "Bu pbzr ba!" bhg ybhq jura vg ghearq bhg gung V fgvyy jnfa'g qbar erpehvgvat gur qjneirf nsgre jvaavat gur gbheanzrag NAQ gnxvat bhg gur pnegn. Qvq n pbzcyrgryl qvssrerag grnz qrfvta guvf cynpr be fbzrguvat? Vg'f ovt rabhtu gb or fbyq nf vgf bja tnzr.

      • Eliestav says:

        Jryy V svtherq Gung gurer jnf tbvat gb or fbzr fbeg bs pbasebagngvba jvgu ouryra, jurer ur jbhyq rkcynva uvf zbgvirf naq pbaivapr lbh gb punatr ng gur ynfg zvahgr, ohg abcr. Ubhef vagb gur zvarf.

      • celestineangel1 says:

        V nterr. Bmnzzne/Qrrc Ebnqf vf njrfbzr va vgf jnl, ohg vg'f nyfb nyzbfg zber grqvbhf guna gur Snqr.

  6. Killer of Bambis Mom says:


    bless his heart. BLESS IT.

    • megotelek says:

      Sten would probably just annoyingly say something like "Fire is not supposed to burn." and refuse to budge from that position, no matter what the evidence is. Like him BURNING TO DEATH.

      I like Sten more on my second playthrough, but it's still like pulling teeth having a conversation with him.

  7. Peter says:

    First Time Gameplay

    OMG STEN. That's pretty funny, I have to say. (It's only funny to me now that I haven't experienced that in a while, of course! But I had Sten in the Circle Tower, the first time I ever took him anywhere, I think, and he died SO MUCH. I think I eventually stopped healing his injuries and just let him die. His health really is low)

    Yeah… I remember that Deserted Building. I think it's awesome that you are going to abandon it and come back later, Mark… it's better than what I did, which was to turn the difficulty down.

    Nyfb V xabj V nyjnlf pbzcynva nobhg vairagbel znantrzrag urer, ohg V tbg fb zhpu ybbg va gung Qrfregrq Ohvyqvat gung V jrag onpx gb gur Qrarevz znexrg rvgure guerr be sbhe gvzrf gb fryy fghss naq znxr ebbz, naq gung znqr vg frrz n ybg ybatre gb trg guebhtu gur nern!

    Once again, I learned the same lesson you did here, in the Circle Tower, with regard to saving. Twice I had to replay long sequences because I just DIED SO MUCH and forgot to save sometimes. And that shouldn't have happened, because that's a lesson I used to know! Always save frequently when playing RPGs!

    (Mass Effect trilogy gameplay spoilers)
    V yrnearq onpx va 2008 jvgu Znff Rssrpg ubj serdhragyl lbh unq gb fnir, ohg gura V guvax jura gur Nhgbfnir tbg fb zhpu orggre jvgu Znff Rssrpg 2 (naq 3), V zhfg unir "hayrnearq" gung yrffba. V znahnyyl fnirq va ZR3 irel vaserdhragyl orpnhfr V whfg eryvrq ba nhgbfnir fb zhpu.

    Also my new (for me, it's refurbished!) Xbox should be arriving tomorrow so I shall finally be able to play again!!!
    Onward to Haven!

    • ZeynepD says:

      I think you are right with the nhgbfnir at 2 and 3, because I just realized that I didn't even notice this. It really must have improved a lot.

  8. Killer of Bambis Mom says:


    My nifty PS3 recording device comes today



  9. klmnumbers says:

    I'm kinda fascinated that you're using the dog the whole game. I never used the dog other than when I first got him, haha. I also never used Sten. My part was basically Morrigan for magery, Wynne for healery, Alistair for tankery, and me for buttstabbing on my first play through.

    You're making me want to do another playthrough. Mark.

    I THINK IT MIGHT HAPPEN. I bought Mass Effect as well. I've never played it, and I am SO EXCITED TO PLAY IT WITH YOU OMG. But for serious. I am running a ton of errands and then using the rest of today to play a new version of the game. ofc, I'm gonna romance Alistair again because I lurve him.

  10. Dr Facilier says:

    I'm sorry, did it become Disney day without My knowledge? Cause I am confused.

  11. Tahaneira says:

    OH THE BLOOD MAGE COVEN. Yeah, I tried to take the thing the instant I reached Denerim. Which was right after the Circle Tower, my first story mission. It… didn't end well. Not at all.

    Two-handed warriors are tricky to build. They have all the threat generation of sword-and-boarders with half the defense, so they attract just as many enemies while dying twice as fast. I think you'll find that you'll have the same problem with the two-handers in the second game as well. When I was lugging Sten be Btuera around I had to devote a portion of Wynne's tactics to giving him top priority for heals, and I had to bump up the spot at which he chugged potions as well. Once it was all sorted out, I appreciated the speed at which he mowed through enemies, especially once I started pointing him at stronger opponents as opposed to garden-variety mooks. But yeah, the tactics trees can be… a bit labyrinthine.

    Borderlands having a level notice for quests was nice; it's also practically unique in that regard. Off the top of my head, I can't think of another game that does that. You'll just have to get used to it, and save often. Fun fact: when I started playing Mass Effect 2 my favorite, favorite gameplay discovery was the fact that they mapped quicksave to one of the buttons on the controller. Every other gameplay modification can go home, that is the most important one.

    Quote of the Day:
    Zevran: Hmm… anyone up for a little bit of naked cliffdiving? No?

    (I couldn't find one that seemed relevant, so I decided to go for irrelevant.)

  12. Martha says:

    I ran into this problem when I played DA2. I basically replayed one hour of the game four or five times, because there was a big scene I simply COULD NOT get past. Spoilers for Dragon Age 2:

    Gur ovt svtug jvgu gur Dhanev ng gur raq bs Npg 2? V qvqa'g ernyvmr V unq gb znxr Vfnoryn rvgure qrsvavgviryl ybir zr be eviny zr, fb fur crnprq bhg naq gura zl cnegl qvrq ULCRE SNFG gur svef frira be rvtug gvzrf V gevrq gung svtug. Vg jnfa'g hagvy, va qrfcnve, V fjnccrq zl cnegl nebhaq naq raqrq hc gnxvat Sraevf gung V tbg guebhtu vg – naq bayl orpnhfr univat uvz gurer zrnag V pbhyq svtug gur Nevfubx bar-ba-bar. FJRRG IVPGBEL.

    So yeah, I had to learn those lessons the hard way, too. They're good lessons, though!

    • Tahaneira says:

      Jnvg, lbh cersre gb qhry gur Nevfubx? Jryy, V qb gbb, ohg zbfg crbcyr svaq snpvat uvz bar-ba-bar gur uneqrfg svtug va gur tnzr. V cersre vg orpnhfr vg'f n punyyratr, naq orpnhfr vg'f gur zbfg njrfbzr aneengviryl, ohg V svaq gur znffvir guebar ebbz oenjy gb or obgu rnfvre naq n uryy bs n ybg zber sha ivfhnyyl. V cvpgher purreshy one svtug zhfvp naq Vfnoryn naq Zreevyy fjvatvat sebz punaqryvref qhevat gung svtug. Vg jbhyq or n sha fprar gb jevgr va n fgbel be n zbivr.

      • Martha says:

        V qba'g xabj ubj crbcyr qb vg, orpnhfr V'ir urneq gung sebz sevraqf, gbb, ohg frevbhfyl, gubfr Dhanev fynhtugrerq zl cnegl va nobhg 25 frpbaqf RIREL. FVATYR. GVZR. Nsgre gur svefg srj nggrzcgf, V erterffrq zl cynl ol nobhg gjb ubhef gb fpbhe gur tnzr sbe nal dhrfgf/rkcrevrapr V unqa'g tbggra lrg, guvaxvat zl yriry jnfa'g uvtu rabhtu. JNFA'G TBBQ RABHTU. V jnf ng gur raq bs zl ebcr hagvy Sraevf yrg zr qhry gur Nevfubx, jub V xvyyrq ba gur svefg gel.

        V qhaab, V'z cynlvat n jneevbe naq V cersre oyhag, va lbhe snpr pbzong gb fgengrtl, V thrff. V'z whfg tynq V tbg cnfg gung jnyy.

    • BettyTheThird says:

      Guvf vf jul V nyjnlf gnxr Sraevf rireljurer!

      Ab, gung vf orpnhfr bs uvf ibvpr, ohg…jva/jva rvgure jnl!

      • Martha says:

        Gehr! V yvxr uvf npvqvp ivrjcbvag. Nyfb vg'f sha yvfgravat gb uvz or favccl ng Zreevyy/Naqref, bar bs jubz V nyjnlf unir va zl cnegl.

  13. ensignkt says:

    Ah, yes, unexpectedly dying and realizing your last save was that long ago, we've all been there. I've had some dark mutterings and downright loud "arghs!" result in my time.

    I was thinking about it and I realized that DA:O was one of the first games I got to anticipate for a long time. Most of the time before I would discover great games long after they'd come out. Which is actually sort of preferable, since they're cheaper and have patches and ultimate editions and the fandom has built up art and fanfic. But at least DA:O pretty much lived up to my expectations.

  14. accidentalbeard says:

    I died (without saving recently) in that blood mage hideout too! It really is disproportionately harder than other things happening in Denerim at the time.

    With Sten, I tend to take most skills like Taunt that increase enemy aggression out of his tactics tree until I have him at a high level with heavy-duty armor. That helps a bit with the not-dying part.

  15. BettyTheThird says:

    this is why I am addicted to the quick save button!

    also, on this play-through I did not even bother to free Sten, oops…but I took Leliana cuz everyone here sang her praises and it is the first time I actually LIKE her! Took me only like 5 play-throughs!

    • ZeynepD says:

      There's no quick-save button on the XBox. Mourn us. (I do.)

    • biblioteknician says:

      I was expecting not to like her, because my sister had told me about the game to get me to play it, and she didn't like her. But I fell for her right away!

      Gubhtu V jnf n yvggyr fgnegyrq jura fur fgrnyguznaprq zr naq cebpynvzrq ure ybir gb zr haqre gur fgnef. V unq nyernql fgnegrq ebznapvat Mriena naq unqa'g ernyvmrq gur tnzr jbhyq nyybj zhygvcyr nggrzcgrq ebznaprf fvzhygnarbhfyl! …. V pbhyqa'g uryc vg, V raqrq hc jvgu ure.

      Naq gura oebxr ure urneg jura V qvrq svtugvat gur nepuqrzba. Jubbbbbcf.

      • BettyTheThird says:

        well on my first play-through Leliana and I really had a bad start when she complimented my character on her hair and my girl was like "….you have THE SAME HAIRCUT what is your deal?" and then after she talked to me about shoes ("As long as I can kick people with them, I don't care!") I never bothered to ~get to know~ her. But this time my dwarf-lady and her are besties!

        Unun lrnu, avawnznaprf! Mriena vf cebonoyl gur bccbfvgr bs gung gub…

      • TrampyMcBitca says:

        Gubhtu V jnf n yvggyr fgnegyrq jura fur fgrnyguznaprq zr naq cebpynvzrq ure ybir gb zr haqre gur fgnef. V unq nyernql fgnegrq ebznapvat Mriena naq unqa'g ernyvmrq gur tnzr jbhyq nyybj zhygvcyr nggrzcgrq ebznaprf fvzhygnarbhfyl! …. V pbhyqa'g uryc vg, V raqrq hc jvgu ure.

        V qvqa'g xabj gurer jnf ebznapr va gur tnzr fb V jnf fhecevfrq jura Nyvfgnve fgnegrq gnyxvat nobhg orvat zber guna sevraqf naq arkg guvat V xabj jr ner fzbbpuvat. Nsgre gung, V jnaqrerq bire gb gnyx gb Yryvnan naq fur'f pbzcyvzragvat zr nobhg zl unve, bar guvat yrnqf gb nabgure naq V raq hc xvffvat ure. V ena onpx bire gb cbbe Nyvfgnve naq qebccrq uvz yvxr n ubg ebpx. Gura V sryg onq fb V jrag onpx gb n cerivbhf fnirq tnzr naq gnyxrq gb Yryvnan svefg. Ohg V fgvyy unq gb "qhzc" cbbe Nyvfgnve. Qba'g xabj jung V qvq gb trg obgu bs gurz gb fhqqrayl nqber zr.

  16. biblioteknician says:

    THAT BUILDING. THAT BUILDING THOUGH. I cannot even properly explain how many times that building killed me. You are not alone in this at all. Those blood mages in that last room are AWFUL. The first time I won that fight was one of the most satisfying moments of the game for me. Just. BLOOD MAGES I HATE YOU.

  17. Ccb says:

    Mark, don't blame yourself when the game doesn't autosave correctly. DAO's entire autosave system was pretty flaky, as I recall. It's not your fault!

  18. cat says:

    That blood mage building is one of my favorites in the game tbh, because all the enemies are so conveniently clustered in small rooms for the massive AOE attacks which are my #1 priority in every mage. BURN BABY BURN. It also helps to have a rogue along with high level stealth/traps, though, to run ahead and clear your way.

  19. Lyndsey says:

    Yeah… Sten is a die-er. Which is a shame because I do love him so much. I end up swapping him for Alistair despite myself.

    And Mark, I was just wondering, about how often do you talk to your companions in camp? Because it might sound strange, but I sorta want to know what you have to say about some of them, and while the banter is nice you don't get a lot of backstory unless you talk to them a LOT. and you don't really mention conversations you have with your peeples, so I was wondering if maybe you could start? I mean, you don't have to telegraph the whole thing out, just talk about it now and then.

    And that abandoned building was both really fun and fantastically frustrating.

  20. cckerberos says:

    The console version doesn't give you full control over your party members?

  21. JackoDaGreat says:

    It is funny when the autosave features do work. There you are, walking towards a ominous door and the game suddenly autosaves. The only appropriate response to that is "Well, I'm going to die".

  22. EmberQuill says:

    Oh wow, I had the EXACT SAME save issue on my playthrough. I got all the way through that same deserted building, died in the very last fight, and had to play through the WHOLE building again. The second time through, I hit the quick-save button right before opening any door. Which was good, since that final fight killed me several more times before I managed to win more due to luck than skill.

    And now I've learned my lesson. Save often. It's a lesson that, for some reason, I have to relearn for every new game I play.

    Fb V'z nobhg gb tb vagb gur Qrrc Ebnqf. Npghnyyl, V'ir orra "nobhg gb tb vagb gur Qrrc Ebnqf" sbe frireny qnlf abj, nf V unira'g orra cynlvat. V whfg…qba'g jnag gb. Bemnzzne vf jurer V glcvpnyyl raq n cynlguebhtu, nf V whfg trg fb fvpx bs gur cynpr gung V qba'g jnag gb cynl nal zber. Gur Qrrc Ebnqf pregnvayl qba'g uryc. V'ir npghnyyl arire orngra QNB, zbfgyl qhr gb Bemnzzne. V'ir qbar gur bgure guerr znva dhrfgf orsber (nygubhtu V unira'g qbar gur Oerpvyvna Sberfg dhrfg ba guvf cynlguebhtu lrg) ohg V pna arire rire svavfu Bemnzzne. Ohg V ernyyl jnag gb xrrc sbyybjvat nybat jvgu Znex Cynlf, fb V whfg unir gb fhpx vg hc naq trg vg qbar…

  23. celestineangel1 says:

    Ooooh, yeah. I learned quickly that saving often is a very, very good thing. I am now a save maniac. I save after every victorious battle, even the smaller ones. I save after every conversations and/or cutscenes where we learned new information. Sometimes, I forget to save for a while because I get so caught up in what's going on, and I inevitably regret it because I don't remember that I forgot to save until after losing horribly in some battle.

    Giving an idea of what level one should be at before a mission is definitely something I would like to see, too. There've been several times in this game I think I've been at a level that's really too low for the mission, with a party that's not ideal. So far, I've always managed to win eventually (mostly, I think, out of sheer luck), but it would still be nice to have some way of knowing if I should just back off and come back later. It should be maybe something that's on the easy and normal mode, maybe, or something you can choose to turn on and off according to your preference.

    But, I've also never played an RPG like this before, so, I'm probably making a lot of first timer mistakes. Not leveling my characters properly, not knowing what party to take into what situations, etc.

    I had the same trouble with Sten at first, too, though now it's Alistair who dies all the time. >:( I've managed to level up Sten so he doesn't die all the time, but Alistair… man, that guy is flimsy. (Probably my fault.)

    Tried to post this yesterday, and it wouldn't post for some reason.

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