My Dragon Age Obsession

All DAI characters

Companion Cast from Dragon Age: Inquisition. From L to R: Sera, Cassandra, Solas, Varric, Dorian, Blackwall, Iron Bull, Vivienne, and Cole

For the past couple of months, I have been completely obsessed with the video game Dragon Age: Inquisition (DA:I), the third game in the series. I currently have about 200+ hours of game time on it so far and four characters (two mages, a rogue and a warrior). I’ve finished it twice and we have the Game of the Year edition, so I am attempting to play through the Trespasser DLC but have gotten stuck. I have started a Pinterest board to keep up with the obsession. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, I recommend you check out the Dragon Age universe wiki. This will give you a detailed description about the storyline of the three games if you so wish. For a briefer description, check out the edited comic below (which is linked on the Pinterest board) from Erika Moen & Matthew Nolan.

Edited Explanation of Dragon Age

Bioware, the company that also creates the Mass Effect series (another fantastic series if you love great storylines), has created the Dragon Age games. I love the series because they have great narrative storylines, the player can get really invested in the characters (both the main, as you can minutely create your hero down to the last physical detail, and secondary ones), and yeah the fighting is cool too. Plus there are progressively better graphics (really the difference between the first and third games is staggering) and hilarious companion conversations before/during battles really crack me up.

My favorite characters in DA:I are Iron Bull, Dorian,Solas and Cullen. Iron Bull and Dorian because their witty random comments are very entertaining, Solas because the intellectual/nerdy side of me loves his character and wants to do him even though he is kind of a bastard, and Cullen because he’s so awkward and shy it’s freaking adorable. Needless to say, these are also the characters I have romanced in-game.

I discovered fanfiction and have been reading that for awhile now too. It’s cool to see what other people can create from a beloved video game or TV show. Some of the writing is horrible (not just badly written but also bad grammar – sorry but the grammar nazi in me is coming out here). Some, however, is really good and you can tell that people put a lot of effort into writing good stories/books (some with over 100,000 words – the same as a PhD dissertation, in the UK at least) and genuinely want to hear feedback/comments from the people who read their works. I also discovered that the game series has released five books and a series of graphic novels. So excited to read them!!

I just finished The Last Flight (Dragon Age #5) by Liane Merciel and thought I would share my review on here. The book is set half during the Fourth Blight and right before the Fifth. The Blight is basically when the darkspawn (a group of tainted creatures like ogres – think of orcs and goblins from The Lord of the Rings trilogy) who corrupt an Old God and turn it into a dragon called an Archdemon, which in turn causes all the darkspawn to come up from underground and raze the countryside of Thedas. The Grey Wardens are the fighting force sworn to protect everyone from the darkspawn and kill the Archdemon. The story starts out with Valya, an elven mage coming to the Grey Wardens to help research info from the Fourth Blight as the darkspawn are stirring for another uprising. The book switches between the main storyline happening right before the Fifth Blight (which occurs during the first Dragon Age game, Origins), and the end of the Fourth Blight (about four hundred years earlier). While researching, Valya discovers a hidden diary from Isseya, a Grey Warden mage and twin sister to the hero of the Fourth Blight, Garahel. The symbol of the Wardens has always been a griffon, but I had no idea that they actually rode them into battle and Isseya’s diary is full of the battles with the darkspawn as well as how her brother managed to kill the Archdemon. Will the diary be able to help the Wardens on the onset of the Fifth Blight? 3 stars.

ThedasPoliticalMap.jpg

Map of Thedas

I was so excited to get the book because it has Wardens flying and fighting on griffons, which is pretty badass. It was cool that they described a bunch of cities/countries like Antiva, Nevarra, Starkhaven, and the Anderfels, which get only a casual mention in the games. I’m actually hoping the next game will be located in these areas. I liked Isseya’s character, though I would’ve liked more information on the mage Calien and being a member of the Crows, as well as being a blood mage in general. My biggest gripe was that the story was a little bit long in its grinding descriptions of the Wardens killing the darkspawn, which took up a significant portion of the book and just glossed over most of the characters, including the hero of the Fourth Blight, Garahel.

This is how I feel about video games, in particular playing a really good one like DA: I. Add in staying up till 1-5am because I’m so involved in the story that I completely lose track of time and you’ve pretty much got me.

Video Games Then and Now

Phoenix Comicon Day 2 and 3

Friday I was volunteering at the Youth Art Room table for Phoenix Public Library at Comicon. We saw a ton of people and made a bunch of free buttons and they made some cool masks. I even made one. I took a pic of this guy dressed up like Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon because it was a cool costume and I knew my son would love it (he did). There was also a guy dressed up as Pyramid Head from Silent Hill with an enormous foam head and sword, who looked something like this (pic below).

Toothless - Day 2 Comicon

Pyramid Head

Saturday was the first day I’d really had to browse the exhibit hall. This is the first real weekend of official summer weather here in Phoenix, over 100 degrees. So that plus mixing with over 1000 people in one large space means a lot of sweaty bodies and not much air conditioning getting around. I felt like this year, more so than two years ago, there was a lot less for reasonable prices.They were charging almost as much for kid’s shirts as adults. Plus there didn’t seem to be as many authors, or at least not as many cool ones. I totally missed Diana Gabaldon and by the end of browsing through the exhibit hall, I wasn’t interested in any panels, just going home. I did get a free Star Wars book and two pairs of cute earrings, so it wasn’t a total waste. Plus I caught a glimpse of actors Edward James Olmos, Summer Glau, David Morrisey (played in Walking Dead), and Jason Isaacs (who played Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies). I sadly missed seeing Karl Urban (Eomer in Lord of the Rings, and of course Dr. Bones in both the new Star Trek movies) and I think Ron Perlman (star of Hellboy and Sons of Anarchy) would’ve been fun to see too. Sadly I couldn’t get anyone’s autographs because at $30 a pop, I don’t think so. I’m perfectly fine with observing from a distance.

I totally forgot to bring my phone with me yesterday, so I have no pics to share. But I will include some that our local newspaper took of costumes that I thought were particularly cool. As with the first and second days, there was a lot of video game/anime/manga-influenced characters, with a couple of historical figures thrown in for good measure. I even saw a guy dressed up like a British Red Coat. The light rail is definitely the way to go to get there, even though the walk back to my car afterwards (in the heat after walking quite a bit for past few days) felt like a million miles away. I’m pretty much a people person and my job is basically customer service, so I’m used to dealing with people all the time, but man, that was way too many people. I was feeling seriously claustrophobic.

King Arthur and Patsy - Day 3 Comicon

King Arthur and Patsy from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (I saw these two on my way out)

Steampunk Ghostbuster - Day 3 Comicon

Steampunk Ghostbuster

Steampunk Storm - Day 3 Comicon

Steampunk Storm from X-Men

Phoenix Comicon 2015 – Day 1

I haven’t been back to a comic convention since I went to my second one (though my first major one) two years ago. Again this year, the library is allowing people to help out in the Youth Art Room at Phoenix Comicon and I jumped at the chance to do it. I missed it by two weeks last year. Extra added bonus, I got a free full event pass to the event! So I went today to pick it up, despite only having about 4-5 hours of sleep last night, which was mostly my fault as I had stayed up to read more of the third Outlander book, Voyager. The author, Diana Gabaldon, is supposed to not only be signing copies of her book on Saturday but also doing a panel at Comicon, so naturally I will be going back. I am a latecomer to the Outlander series, having only discovered it about a month or so ago after finally getting to watch the first season of the new Starz show, highly recommended if you haven’t seen it yet. It has a bit of everything in it, for guys and girls. I mean how can you not totally lust over actor Sam Heughan’s version of Jamie Fraser, with his long curly red hair, kilt-wearing, Gaelic speaking, Scottish-accented self! (Note: the pics below don’t really capture the hotness as well as I would like, but you get the idea.) I was definitely enthralled, but the show actually has a really good storyline too, except for the fact as I found out after reading the first book, that the first season only covers about 40% of the actual story. Not to mention, if you read further in the books, you discover that Jamie’s incredibly strong yet vulnerable, well-read, and pretty smart. So pretty much the perfect fictional man…Le sigh.

Jamie Fraser in KiltJamie Fraser shirtless

Anywho, back to my original story. I decided to pick up the event pass, which I assumed would be a pretty quick thing but the process dragged on for an hour. I was thankfully saved by the lovely volunteer coordinator who not only waited in line with me to get my pass at the correct location but also showed me where I was supposed to go tomorrow. I was impressed by the kinds of kids programming they had available there, which is great as there was a ton of kids. I had a little time before I had to go pick up my son from daycare, so I decided to walk around and see if I could check out the Exhibition Hall (example pic below at bottom of page), where the main vendors, authors, comic book artists, and celebrities were going to be. Only problem, as I found out, was that the freaking hall didn’t open up until 4pm and I had to stand around for roughly another hour before I could get in. Plus then I only had an hour to browse before I had to leave. I did get some free stuff from Dark Horse Comics and bought a couple of things while there, but as usual, most of the cool stuff was out of my price range.

Comicon logo

If you’ve never been to a Comic Convention, it can be a little overwhelming, but still pretty fun. It’s definitely the best place to be as nerdy as you want and celebrate that fact, as well as wearing whatever costume from popular culture you can think of – mostly today there were a lot of video game, anime, manga/comic, movie and TV show characters. There was a guy dressed up as Butthead from Beavis and Butthead (it was more of a giant head), there was a gaggle of girls dressed up as My Little Ponies (both shows originally were popular and came out when I was a kid, and I know for certain most of these kids weren’t even born then, but that’s a whole other thing), a kid dressed up like a tape recorder, a guy dressed up as a Nintendo Game Cube, someone with a whole Loki costume, many girls in scantily clad outfits (mostly anime characters I think), one really cool looking Red Royal Imperial Guard (ala Star Wars), a kid in a Darth Vader costume, a kid in a full Stormtrooper costume, and tons more. The energy there is crazy. For example, about 10 minutes before we were allowed to go into the exhibition hall, one of the staff guys starts getting everyone to make noise, i.e. screaming and clapping and we all did it. Mostly b/c we could be loud and also because I think most people (or at least me) were tired of standing in line and just wanted to get in already. It’s a good thing I’m not claustrophobic because the amount of people in there was insane! And it was a freaking Thursday, a day I figured most people wouldn’t be there because they had to work. While I had been waiting in line the third time to get my pass, the vounteer guy told me they were expecting anywhere from 75-90K people this year. I can believe it. Last year they apparently had over 77,000. They’ve got an impressive list of actors there again this year, and I am hoping to see some of them, at least from afar as I can’t afford to get signatures or have a photo taken at $30+ a pop. Last time I was there, they had John Barrowman, star of Torchwood and several Dr. Who episodes, who is so campy but I love him. After my 3 hours there today, I was tired, had sore feet and felt totally drained. I will be back tomorrow morning to do my volunteer shift as part of my work shift and then have to come back to work in the library in the afternoon. Hopefully my feet will stop throbbing by then.

Phoenix Comicon Exhibition Hall