(This article was originally written for The Dragon Age Oracle blog)
So I’ve decided that my Dragon Age campaign will switch to following the story line (albeit a bit altered) of the videogame. My 5 players are level 5, and we’ve gone through most of the published adventures, which I believe springboard nicely into getting noticed by the Grey Wardens. I wanted to chronicle my conversion of the video game unto the tabletop, so I’m going to do it here at the Dragon Age Oracle, the web’s best place for Dragon Age content outside of Green Ronin’s site.
I’ll pick up the story after finishing the adventure included in Set 2, “The Autumn Falls”. There, they caught the attention of the Nevarran Grey Warden Commander, who instructed them to go to Ostagar and meet The Ferelden Commander, Duncan. Behind the scenes, Duncan already knew about this group of people because they had helped stop a Darkspawn assault on the Avvarian village of Redhold, and had defeated a Desire Demon in Denerim. Duncan was waiting. The party’s journey towards their fate would begin in the port city of Amaranthine, where the ship bringing them from Nevarra back to Ferelden docked….
Campaign Journal 1
In Amaranthine, the first thing the party wanted to do was change some of the coin they were carrying into smaller currency or jewelry. They looked around for a money changer and were led to the part of the city where the nobility’s more likely to be found.
Game bit: The party is wearing very finely crafted masterwork Armor that grants +1 on social tests, so they definitely do not stand out among the nobility.
They were led to an inn/pleasure house called The Hen and the Cock where the local nobility goes to “unwind”. There was sufficient money on hand to allow them to change their silver into Sovereigns, so they were able to take care of that bit of business. At the “Cock”, as the locals call the place, they overheard a pair of nobles talking politics. It seems that Arl Rendon Howe (of the Arl of Amaranthine) recently led an army to the Castle of Highever and killed most of the inhabitants along with the Tyern, Bryce Couseland, and his wife. The apparent reason for the attack was that Highever was planning on forging an alliance with Orlais against King Cailan. Most of the party had little interest in the politics of northern Ferelden, as they were eager to arrive in Ostagar and meet with Duncan.
Game bit: I planted this seed so that later on, Loghain’s treachery and alliance with Howe would make them remember this bit of knowledge. Also, this happened while the party was out of the country participating in the Autumn Falls tournament.
The night before they were due to ride south, one of the party members wanted to find healing potions. This led him deep into the underbelly of Amaranthine, where they were introduced to a city elf who claimed he could get them some potions.
Game bit: Since Dragon Age is a low magic setting and magic stores don’t really exist, there are no prices in the books for potions so all this was improvised.
The city elf made them pay some heavy coin to get information and access, but he found them what they needed. Only two of them were allowed to go, and they had to be unarmed. They were led to the door at a warehouse where a woman named Verescinse lives. Along the way they noticed that they were being tracked by a pair of elves up on the rooftops. One of the party members actually acknowledged the lookouts with a friendly wave. At Verescince’s house, the elf that led them there left them at the door after ringing a hidden bell. A pair of armed guards opened the door.
Inside, they witnessed a horrid sight. In the large, dark room they were in, an extraordinarily large oak table was cluttered with chemical components, flasks with smoke coming out of them, and more importantly five elves of various ages and sexes, strapped to the table. The elves were whimpering, their bodies twitching in pain. Every now and again they’d cry out for help.
There were about 5 guards in the room. And then Verescinse entered. She was a rather large woman in her 60’s, who quickly got down to business. She was very soft spoken, and knew what the two party members were there for. Throughout the conversation, the elves begged for help, but everyone in the room just ignored their cries. After receiving the potions, she offered them a poison and called for someone from one of the other rooms to come. An elven child arrived, obviously a servant or slave, and she instructed him to bring some “Crow”. It became obvious to them that the elves on the table were being used as test subjects for the poisons and chemicals she was mixing.
Game bit: An out of character discussion followed but they figured that there was nothing they could do about this situation. They’d get killed if they tried something now, and coming back armed would have been a messy thing to deal with with. With a really bad taste in their mouths, they chose to get on with this quickly and leave. The morality aspects of DA really hit them here.
She charged them 1 gold sovereign for the potions, and they were quickly led out by the guards. On their way back from this part of the city they again noticed a pair of lookouts following them, and again acknowledged them with a wave.
Back at the inn the two characters didn’t mention what they witnessed, mostly due to the fact that there are some elves in the party who might act on impulse and create a mess, so they just decided to get past what they witnessed.
The next morning they picked up riding horses and took off on their week-long trip south to Ostagar. On the second day of the journey, they were ambushed by some human bandits led by a dwarf. The bandits weren’t exactly very capable opponents, and the party quickly defeated them. They begged for their lives saying that they were from Highever and that Howe’s attack had left them destitute and desperate. The Apostate in the party chose to ignore their cries for mercy and killed the bandits outright, showing little mercy.
The rest of the journey south was uneventful, and the party eventually arrived in Ostagar. There, they were introduced to Duncan, who had heard about some of their exploits; and to Alastair, a young man who was already a Grey Warden. The King made it a point to seek out the new recruits and celebrate their arrival, as he was “anxious to fight alongside Grey Wardens in this battle against the Darkspawn”. The party was also introduced to Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir, and they quickly learned that he’s a man who’s not too fond of the Grey Wardens.
One of the party members privately asked Duncan about Arl Howe’s attack on Highever, but Duncan said he wasn’t too concerned with Fereldan politics right now, and neither were the darkspawn. “Defeating the Darkspawn should be your focus now boy, rather than concentrating on the whims of those who crave power.”
Game bit: I ignored the Human Noble opening of the video game and what Duncan knows or doesn’t know. At this stage in the story there’s no proof that Loghain and Howe are plotting together.
Later that evening, Duncan explained a bit of the history of the Grey Wardens to the party, and told them about the coming battle against the Darkspawn horde. He also sent them on their first mission.
He told them that in the morning he wants them to ride south along with two other recruits into the Korkari Wilds and collect Darkspawn blood for their coming Joining ritual. He also instructed them to find an abandoned Grey Warden outpost turned crypt, as he has learned that some Grey Warden documents were magically sealed and buried with a member of the order some time ago. He wants those documents back and in Grey Warden hands.
The party rode south in the early morning, and quickly met their first opposition of the day. As they rode through the cold forest, the party’s horses became spooked and ran off, knocking the Warden recruits to the ground. Then the noise caused by the horses alerted the darkspawn and a fight commenced. One of the recruits, a pudgy man named Ser Jory, became too scared and ran off, leaving the rest of the recruits to fight alone. Ultimately, the party was victorious, and were able to collect enough blood from the darkspawn before heading off to find the crypt Duncan mentioned…
Game bit: The horses getting spooked required a Dexterity (Riding) test, which everyone failed. The session ended after this fight against the darkspawn.
As you can see, it wasn’t too difficult to adapt this part of the game to the table top. Next, the Battle of Ostagar, Loghain’s betrayal, and what to do with Flemeth at the tower?
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