This article on Dragon Age: Origins Awakening contains spoilers on Anders, Justice, Mhairi, Nathaniel, Oghren, Sigrun, and Velanna. You’ve been warned, now let’s get to it! I’m just about done with my second run on this fine Dragon Age expansion pack. In case you’ve been wondering about the new characters, here’s a quick write-up on each of them (and Oghren too!), along with the gifts they like. I’ve graded them based on how useful they were to my party and how much I enjoyed their dialogue. Your mileage may vary depending on your play style and personal tastes.
Oghren: Everyone’s favorite angry, drunken dwarf returns in Awakening and he’s better than ever! Players that are looking for a DPS (damage per second) warrior will love Oghren. He’s built for dealing heavy damage with a two-handed weapon. The writing and voice acting behind Oghren is more powerful than anything he could do with a sword, axe, or hammer. He provides brilliant comic relief no matter who’s in your party. Whether he’s trading barbs with Anders, hitting on Sigrun, or questioning Justice on the sex drive of a spirit inhabiting a decaying body, his lines are hilarious. In my first run, my party didn’t need a DPS warrior, but Oghren’s lines were so good that he stayed with me for most of my adventure.
Items for Oghren: Any alcoholic beverage (duh) and the toy horse.
Grade: Oghren steals the show with his dialogue and he’s great at doling out heavy damage. B
Anders: You would think that an apostate with wise-ass tendencies wouldn’t survive very long in Ferelden, yet Anders has made a record-breaking seven escapes from Circle of Magi and appears in fine health when you fist encounter him. Anders is a great healer that can provide buffs or offense depending on how you level him up. He has the abilities of Wynne matched with an Alistair-like personality. While his dialogue isn’t quite as funny as Oghren’s, Anders is no slouch in the humor department — particularly if you give him a pet cat (which he promptly names Sir Pounce-a-lot). I loved Anders conversations with Justice. The spirit thinks Anders has an obligation to help fellow apostates, while Anders feels that he has an obligation to not get killed.
Items for Anders: Kitten, bell collar, gold earring, scarf, book on phylacteries, and silver bracers.
Grade: Anders provides an outstanding blend of skills and entertainment. A
Nathaniel: Remember that prick Arl Rendon Howe from Origins? Well, here’s his son! Nathaniel went to Amaranthine to get revenge on the grey warden that killed his father, but had a change of heart. The good news is that you can recruit him and his lethal bow skills to the grey warden cause. In terms of gameplay, he’s just like Leliana — outstanding with a bow and useful for chests/traps. Although he learns that his father was a devious prick and warms up to you, he still has all the annoying personality traits you’d expect from someone with noble blood. His exchanges with Sigrun are particularly interesting; the contrast between a noble human and a casteless dwarf are pretty cool.
Items for Nathaniel: Howe bow, Delilah Howe’s letters, whetstone, locksmith’s tools, and sextant.
Grade: His bow skills are outstanding, but I usually don’t get along with rich people and he made miss Leliana. B
Sigrun: For someone that was born without a caste and ended up in the Legion of the Dead, Sigrun is a pretty perky lady. She has a bright personality, with some surprising deadpan humor thrown in. If you close your eyes, it’s almost like you’re adventuring with Janeane Garofalo. From a gameplay standpoint, her specialization makes her a great strength rogue with good survivability. Personally, I prefer cunning rogues for melee and dexterity rogues for archery. While I didn’t find her too useful in the game, I enjoyed her conversations on class with Nathaniel, watching Oghren hit on her (the payoff is awesome!), and watching her pickpocket Justice.
Items for Sigrun: Spyglass, potted plant, snow globe, warrior’s book, toy chariot, and soap-on-a-rope.
Grade: She’s a sweetheart, but I preferred Nathaniel as my companion rogue. Plus her personal quest is currently glitched on consoles. C+
Velanna: Replacing Morrigan as the party’s “angry magic bitch”, Velanna has that Dalish chip on her shoulder. If you like offensive mages — and they are ridiculously powerful in the game — Velanna is your girl. Although her specialization isn’t great, there are so many other offensive spells that more than make up for it. All that great wizardry aside, I just didn’t dig Velanna. She angrier than Morrigan and not nearly as sultry. When Justice was lecturing her on the wrongness of her actions, I was hoping that he’d just give her a shield bash after the third conversation. Some of you will dig her sharp barbs, but she just didn’t work for me.
Items for Velanna: Elven runestone, elven trinket, carved greenstone, shiny malachite, blank journal, discarded journal, and ornate silver bowl.
Grade: Incredible magic accompanied by an annoying personality? I’ll stick to Anders and Sir Pounce-a-lot, thank you very much. C-
Justice: The most unique playable character in Dragon Age, Justice is a spirit that got pulled into the physical world and placed in the partially decayed body of a dead grey warden. Unfamiliar with how things work in the “real” world, he’s struggles to understand things, but grows to appreciate the beauty in humanity. All that aside, he’s an awesome tank. Whether you prefer dealing damage as a DPS warrior, a backstabbing rogue, or a spell-hurling mage, it’s always good to have a tank to distract enemies and soak up some damage. Justice’s stats and specialization make him perfect for the job. Since his views are so alien, his interaction with the entire party is interesting.
Items for Justice: Elven prayer book, verses of dreams book, lyrium book, lyrium ring, Kristoff’s locket, and Kristoff’s mementos.
Grade: He’s an awesome tank with a background that’s very different from the others. A-
Mhairi: BioWare pulled off a nice swerve by promoting Mhairi on the official Dragon Age web site and during its media tour. The sound of a female tank appealed to some players, while others liked the fact that she’s essentially a grey warden fangirl. Unfortunately for everyone, Mhairi doesn’t survive the “joining” ceremony and dies early in the game. So why am I including her in this article? Well, for the past week the search terms “Dragon Age Mhairi dies” and “Dragon Age Mhairi dead” have been leading to some nice traffic. Maybe her corpse will provide another week of decent hits.
Items for Mhairi: Flowers for her grave.