Dragon Age: So, what did you do at Redcliffe Castle?

This isn’t a matter of life or death, it’s more important than that …

For many fantasy fans,  it’s a crucial part of the genre that heroes be heroic and that doing good deeds  is rewarded in stories. If that is important to you, you will not enjoy playing Dragon Age.

It is clear from early on in the game that this is a dark fantasy. Very dark indeed. Even where it is clear that evil needs to be fought, the people who fight it are far from good themselves. The vaunted maturity of the title means that players have the option to choose between the lesser evil and the greater evil, and to decide for themselves whether the means justifies the ends. And the game will not punish the player unduly for making the nastier choice; sure, some of your companions may disapprove but the game isn’t biased towards one type of morality over another. Being good won’t be punished, but there’s no inbuilt reward for it either.

One of the earlier moral dilemmas faced in the game takes place at the human stronghold of Redcliffe Castle. I was fascinated by an rpg.net thread which asked players to discuss the decision that they made there in game, and to justify it. The thread is full of spoilers for that part of the game, but I was impressed that different players made spirited defences of all the different options available.

As a GM, I found the storytelling consequences just  a little cheap (it wasn’t as true a moral dilemma as it probably should have been), but the device did work. It made people stop and think. And I can’t really talk about it without spoiling the encounter so I’ll stop there.

But if you are playing through DAO, do check out the thread. It’s really quite interesting to see a storytelling device play out that’s rather richer than we are used to in MMO questing.