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The Followers of "Dragon Age: Origins" (2009): It Makes No Sense to Recruit Any of These People

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My dwarven princess is currently in Lothering, and because I've been trying to play her as a pragmatist, I decided that she would leave Sten to die. Horrible, I know. But it also makes no sense to recruit him. Then I realized that it actually makes no sense to recruit most of the companions in this game, not just Sten.

Now, before you bite my head off or otherwise lecture me, I realize that one major theme in this game is faith. By recruiting these questionable people, the Warden has to demonstrate a tremendous amount of faith towards them.

Following the game's theme is a good enough reason to recruit every last companion, but if you really want to role play in a way that's true to your character, you might go against the theme of "faith" and just do with some cold, hard logic.

Let's examine some of the characters who should probably have been left behind.

Morrigan

. . . Why the hell should you trust Morrigan?

Granted, her mother saved your life, but it was her mother who did that. If you thank her in the hut before speaking to Flemeth, she insists that she didn't even do much.

Flemeth also insists that Morrigan go with you as a return favor for her having saved your life. So in other words . . . she saved you so that you would feel guilt-tripped into taking Morrigan along for some nefarious purpose she refuses to disclose. When put in that light, we should trust Morrigan and Flemeth because . . .?

The end of the game and Morrigan's offer of the Dark Ritual proves that Morrigan was there to get something all along. But that something also happened to save the Warden's life, so the Warden's blind faith is rewarded.

It still makes no sense to trust Morrigan. Even Morrigan is dismissive of you if you try too hard to be friendly in the beginning, because even she knows that being that trusting of her is crazy.

Of course, the player is forced by the narrative to take Morrigan along, so this is all just stating facts (not necessarily complaining).

Shale

Yes, that's right. It makes no sense to trust or recruit Shale.

When you get to Honleath, you discover that Shale murdered her former owner, the mage Wilhelm. Wilhelm's son is pretty pissed about it and wants to get rid of the golem, so he gives Shale's activation phrase to you.

Once you activate Shale, however, you discover that her control rod doesn't work. So essentially, there's this huge deadly golem that you can't control that has murderous tendencies and is unapologetic about it:

"I kill. Frequently. And not without pleasure."

-- Shale

What's more, if you try to ask Shale what happened, she gets cranky and refuses to speak about it. If I recall correctly, Wilhelm was researching demonic possession and believed the desire demon he had trapped was influencing Shale. It could be that the demon possessed Shale and killed Wilhelm in an attempt to free herself.

But the Warden doesn't know that unless she read Wilhelm's journal and comes to that conclusion. And even then, who's to say that Shale can't be possessed in such a way again?

It almost sounds like the argument against mages, doesn't it?

Given all this, it makes no sense to recruit Shale, but I always recruit her anyway. She's probably my favorite follower in Origins. She's hilarious, she's very useful as a tank (if you know how to spec her), and I love having her around when I'm playing a dwarven princess (which is most of the time).

I played a Cadash in Inquisition and thought it was pretty cool to play a character related to Shale.

Art of Sten as the Arishok.

Art of Sten as the Arishok.

Sten

As I said in the intro, it makes no sense to recruit Sten.

When you encounter Sten in Lothering, you discover that he killed a farmer family in a blind rage, the women and the children—all of them—with his bare hands. And he doesn't even seem sorry about it!

Why is there a reason to recruit him?

Yes, you need all the help you can get during a Blight, but do you need help from someone who might go nuts and bury an axe in your face?

Sten's behavior reeks of someone who is emotionally unstable. The fact that he flipped out over his lost sword—which was, granted, of significant cultural importance—with enough rage that he killed people leaves you wondering what he might do to you and your companions.

Sten is dangerous. That's all you know when you meet him. The Revered Mother even tells you so.

When you talk to Sten, he is nothing but dismissive and unimpressed. He has no respect for the Warden. There's no way to know he will follow you and obey your commands. What's more, if you do recruit Sten, he tries to take command from you during the events of Haven. He thinks your quest for the Urn is nonsense and will try to kill you and take over.

So Sten basically behaves in a predictable manner for someone who showed zero faith in your ability to lead and also once killed small children.

Again, from a role play perspective, why should you recruit Sten?

All that being said, I actually enjoy Sten a great deal as a character. His party banters with Leliana, Morrigan, and Alistair are hilarious. He never fails to call Morrigan and Alistair out on their flaws in a blunt manner that is truly entertaining, while Leliana constantly calls him out on being a secret "softie" who likes kittens.

There's also a conversation where the Warden can ask Sten if he likes nothing about Ferelden, to which he will answer that he likes the cookies.

Lol.

Yes. Sten is very amusing. From a role play perspective, however, there's no reason for the Warden to recruit him outside of blind faith and desperation.

Oghren's promotional art.

Oghren's promotional art.

Oghren

Aside from the fact that the game forces you to recruit him, it makes no sense that Oghren is there. Like . . . why?

If your character was mean to Oghren and didn't like him, you're still forced to have him in your camp. It's like he can't take a hint!

Think about it for a minute. Oghren is a self-destructive drunk. Would you really want a man who's constantly drunk swinging an axe around you?

If I had the choice to leave Oghren behind, my dwarven princess would do it in a heartbeat. She was commander of her father's armies, worked with the best of the best, and wouldn't want to bother with a belligerent and broken mess of a soldier too drunk to aim straight.

That's how my dwarven princess feels anyway. I actually find Oghren hilarious. It was sad what they did to him in the Awakening DLC. He went from a guy who would laugh when you poked fun of him to a guy who would break down crying if you didn't like his new helmet.

Anyway. As I said, it makes no sense to recruit an alcoholic!

Zevran

This one is kind of obvious—Zevran was sent to kill you. Recruiting him and expecting that he won't stab you in the back of the head later is nuts.

There are a few reasons you might recruit him, though:

  • You understand that he wants out of the Crows and that he's trying to use you for protection from them—which means he would never hurt you. This is true, and most of my Wardens understand this and usually befriend him.
  • The second reason: maybe your Warden thinks Zevran is cute. I've played some Wardens who spared Zevran because they were attracted to him and thought him charming (that was my excuse so that I could see Zeveran's romance and content). That's how my Wardens felt. Me personally, I think Zevran is better as a friend. When you romance him, he reveals that he took the Grey Warden contract intending to die. It makes romancing someone in such a mental state a bit questionable—in my opinion.

That's It

The rest of the followers—Wynne, Alistair, Leliana, and even Dog—have a reason to be around, are trustworthy, and their presence actually makes sense.

Just about every other companion poses some sort of danger or threat to the Warden that—depending on you and how you role play—may or may not be worth the risk in the end.

© 2019 Ash