The last piece of news
we covered for Dragon Age: Inquisition
showed off a brand new character who is sure to create a flare in the Dragon Age
world. This time, three characters get the treatment, but only one of them is a new face to fans.
First up, we have Cullen. This fellow played a part in both of the previous titles and is returning in the third instalment with a bigger role than ever.
[DRAGON AGE]: What can you tell us about Cullen?
[BRIANNE BATTYE]: Cullen spent more than half of his life in service to the templars. He's gone through a lot over that time. He survived what happened to the Circle Tower in Dragon Age: Origins, then watched Kirkwall fall to chaos in Dragon Age II. In Inquisition, the sky's torn open, demons are running loose, there's war… things aren't exactly looking up.
[DA]: Cullen made a pretty big decision at the end of Dragon Age II. How has his life changed since he sided against Knight-Commander Meredith?
[BB]: Meredith was Cullen's commanding officer; he wanted to trust her. But standing against her paved the way for him to help form what would become the Inquisition. The templars failed to protect their charges and the people of Kirkwall. The Order has not lived up to its ideal, and though it wasn't easy for him, Cullen now recognizes that. It's something he's still processing, but he's looking to move forward and fight for something he can believe in. The whole world's falling apart, and Cullen won't sit by and watch that happen. He wants to be part of a solution. If that means serving the Inquisition instead of the Order, then that's what he's going to do.
[DA]: As a former knight-captain, Cullen is certainly well-trained and experienced. What is his primary area of expertise?
[BB]: He obviously has insights into the Templar Order, as well as firsthand knowledge of the mage-templar conflict. Of course, those aren't the only reasons he was recruited into the Inquisition. Cullen is a driven individual with a strong sense of responsibility. He's a leader: someone people can turn to, someone they can trust to make the right call, even if it's a tough one.
[DA]: How would you describe his role in the game?
[BB]: Cullen is one of three advisors who help run the Inquisition. Specifically, he commands the Inquisition's military forces on your behalf. Cullen will offer tactical advice and assistance throughout the game. And you'll have plenty of reasons to seek it.
[DA]: So, it sounds like players will get to spend some time with him.
[BB]: For sure—but it doesn't have to be about work all the time. There will be opportunities to get to know Cullen himself. Though he was in Origins and appeared in quests throughout Dragon Age II, there wasn't a chance to talk to him about anything that wasn't an immediate issue.
[DA]: And now?
[BB]: In the previous games, Cullen was there as a templar. He had work to do. But why did he become a templar in the first place? Who was he before that? Who is he beyond that? These were questions I had to consider. In Inquisition, the player can explore these ideas with him.
[DA]: What did you enjoy most about writing him?
[BB]: Cullen's been through a lot. As a result, he takes his new position very seriously. Your soldiers depend on him, after all, and he will do right by them. He expects a lot of the Inquisition and of himself. Some of my favorite parts to write were the moments where he lets that drop a bit—the moments where you see him relax and he can be the person behind the soldier.
[DA]: You mentioned that he is one of three advisors. Does Cullen get along well with his peers?
[BB]: Cullen has a lot of respect for his fellow advisors. Of course, that doesn't mean they always get along. For example, Cullen is a practical person who appreciates a straightforward, honest approach. Leliana, who has worked behind the scenes for the Divine for years, won't come at a problem the same way.
[DA]: Cullen fans have united on social media using the hashtag #cullenites. What do you think it is about him that makes him so popular?
[BB]: Well, I'm sure his introduction in Origins won him some fans—especially among certain female mages. But I don't think that's everyone's reason or the only one.
Cullen is someone who fights for what he believes in. He tries to do the right thing, even if he isn't always successful. His history interests me, and I'm sure other people are also curious about what it will mean. How has it influenced the man he is now? I guess I know the answer to that, but I won't say more just yet.
Next, we have Leliana. Anyone who is familiar with the series will know her well, but she has a lot more to offer in Inquisition
. What does The Maker have in store for her?
[DRAGON AGE]: It’s been a few years since we last saw Leliana. What has she been doing?
[SHERYL CHEE]: After the Fifth Blight, Leliana was summoned to Val Royeaux by her friend and mentor, Divine Justinia V.
[DA]: There’s definitely some history between them.
[SC]: Yes—Justinia was formerly known as Revered Mother Dorothea, the woman who saved Leliana when Leliana was betrayed and almost killed by her old mistress, Marjolaine. Because of their history, Leliana feels a close bond with Justinia; naturally, when Justinia needed her help, Leliana went to her side. She has been serving as the Divine’s Left Hand for some time now.
[DA]: How has her personality changed since her introduction to the series?
[SC]: Those who played Dragon Age: Origins might remember Leliana as a cheerful, optimistic young woman who tried her best to do what she thought was right. It’s now ten years later, and lots of things have happened. She’s not as carefree. Even if she wanted to show that side of her personality, she can’t.
[DA]: Why’s that?
[SC]: She’s a high-ranking member of the Inquisition with a great deal of responsibility, and she has to present herself a certain way for the Inquisition’s sake. However, if you prove that you're trustworthy, and that you understand where she's come from, she might let her guard down a little.
[DA]: How did you find revisiting Leliana?
[SC]: Coming back to Leliana gave me the chance to pull everything from Leliana’s various appearances throughout the Dragon Age world and fit them together.
[DA]: In what way?
[SC]: Leliana’s Song shared her backstory, establishing her relationship with the woman who would become the Divine. In Dragon Age: Origins, Leliana is coming to terms with her past and trying to figure out who she is. In Dragon Age II, and the Asunder and Masked Empire novels, we see Leliana in her role as Left Hand of the Divine. It’s been a long road for her, and in Inquisition, we’ll get to see how her journey has shaped her as a person, and where the path might take her in the future.
[DA]: Were there any challenges?
[SC]: Leliana is always a little tricky because of how the player’s choices in Origins can affect her. I had to make sure that no matter what the player did in Origins, Leliana’s role and character in Inquisition made sense. It's a matter of respecting her core nature, so that regardless of what happened (or happens) to her, she's always clearly "Leliana."
[DA]: You said that Leliana is now “Left Hand of the Divine.” What exactly does that mean?
[SC]: As we know, Cassandra is Right Hand of the Divine: the warrior who puts herself front and center, she’s bold and direct and driven. Leliana is the Left Hand—the “sinister” hand, as it were. She hangs back in the shadows. She watches the Divine’s back, watches for enemies, waits for them to reveal their weaknesses, and comes at them from the shadows.
[DA]: Those skills must be useful for the Inquisition?
[SC]: The Inquisition is a new power, a threat to some of the existing structures within Thedas. Naturally, some people will oppose it, and Leliana will deal with these opposing forces should direct action or diplomacy fail.
[DA]: So she gets along well with the rest of the Inquisition?
[SC]: The Inquisition is Leliana’s priority. She knows that infighting will doom it to a quick and messy end, so she’s often willing to put aside her own personal feelings to do what’s best for the organization.
[DA]: Can you give us an example?
[SC]: She has a healthy respect for Cassandra, even if she doesn’t always agree with her. Ultimately, their goals align, and they’ll work together for what they believe is the greater good. It’s a little like Mom and Dad quarrelling behind closed doors, but presenting a united front to the kids. Same goes for Cullen.
[DA]: And finally, the question on everyone’s mind: How is Schmooples?
[SC]: Ah, Schmooples. Maybe we should let people find out on their own when they play the game.
Finally, we have Solas. This elven mage is apparently very straight forward, but Dragon Age
doesn't really fit into the category of "average", does it?
[DRAGON AGE]: What can you tell us about Solas?
[PATRICK WEEKES]: He’s pretty straightforward, honestly. Just your average elven apostate who voluntarily joins the Inquisition in the middle of the mage rebellion to lend his expertise with the Fade.
[DA]: “Average,” huh?
[PW]: I like to keep it simple.
[DA]: There’s a lot of ground to cover with Solas, so let’s start with him as an apostate—meaning he practices magic outside the Circle of Magi. Did he escape with the rest of the rebel mages?
[PW]: Actually, he was never in one of the Circles to begin with.
[PW]: Thedas is a pretty big place, and unless you go around burninating the peasants, you may never come to the attention of the templars.
[DA]: Without the Circle to provide training, how did he learn to control his power?
[PW]: Solas is largely self-taught; while he can comfortably defend himself, he cares more about exploring the Fade than he does about hurling fireballs.
[DA]: What makes the Fade so interesting?
[PW]: Okay, so, the Fade—bear with me, this gets a little weird—the Fade is the spirit side of the Dragon Age universe. It’s this incredible place full of dreams and memories, imprints left behind by powerful emotions or events in our world. Solas has trained himself to do something a lot like lucid-dreaming. He goes to ancient ruins where the Veil is thin, goes to sleep, and actually experiences the history of places no one else has seen in centuries.
[DA]: Is that sort of vision accurate?
[PW]: Absolutely not. It’s based off people’s memories, right? Ask ten different witnesses at a crime scene to describe what happened, and you’ll get all kinds of conflicting information. Solas knows that everything he sees in the Fade is subjective and imperfect. It’s like a gigantic Wikipedia entry full of “” notes, but still, Solas has found some amazing things.
[DA]: In past games, the Fade has been a dangerous place, full of demons.
[PW]: Yes. Most people in Thedas think of the Fade as demon-land… and Solas believes this is part of the problem. If you go into a realm that by its very nature reflects the thoughts and fears of living people, and if all you’re ever taught in the Chantry is that the Fade is this terrible place that wants to kill or possess you, then when you get there, of course it’s like that.
[DA]: Solas doesn’t fear the Fade?
[PW]: I’d say he respects it. It’s still dangerous, but because Solas found the Fade on his own, he went in without preconceptions, letting him explore the area and befriend spirits without the black-and-white mentality that holds back mages trained in the Circle. While everyone else guards themselves, assuming everything in the Fade is a threat, Solas will find a brilliant unimaginable light, smile delightedly, and move in for a closer look.
[DA]: Does that extensive knowledge aid him in combat?
[PW]: On the battlefield, Solas’s expertise with the Fade lets him manipulate magic in ways that would never occur to most mages.
Off the battlefield, when Solas sees a giant hole open up in the sky with demons pouring out of it, he knows that he can help where Circle mages cannot. As a result, although there is no guarantee they won’t locked him up as just another apostate, Solas comes voluntarily to the Inquisition.
[DA]: Did you find his character challenging to write?
[PW]: Writing Solas had its moments, yes. I personally love characters who are intelligent, characters who don’t necessarily break the universe they’re in, but who make players reexamine their own assumptions and look at that world in a new way. It’ll be interesting to see who thinks he’s fascinating and who thinks he’s out of his ever-Fade-loving mind.
[DA]: One would assume that opinions vary among his fellow companions as well.
[PW]: Absolutely. Vivienne is as loyal a Circle mage as you’ll find, so having this scruffy little hedge mage pop in and say, “You’re all close-minded, you should be making friends with spirits,” causes her to get icily disdainful as only Vivienne can. Solas and the Iron Bull also spar over Qunari beliefs, as Solas believes in freedom of thought more than anything else, and the Qunari tend to be pretty rigid there. On the other hand, Solas and Cole get along rather wonderfully.
[DA]: Because Cole is a spirit?
[PW]: Yes; Cole is trying to figure out what that means, and Solas can answer a lot of Cole’s questions. The two of them have fascinating talks about what it means to be a spirit, usually with the rest of the party watching the two with these narrow-eyed “What the what?” looks.
[DA]: In addition to dealing with the world’s perception of mages, he’s also elven. How does he deal with that much adversity?
[PW]: Honestly, Solas hates people who look at him and just see an elf. He considers that kind of attitude part of the black-and-white dichotomy that has led to so much tragedy in the Dragon Age world. Templars versus mages, demons versus spirits, elves versus humans… it’s more complicated than that. Come to think of it, “It’s more complicated than that,” may actually be Solas’s battle cry.
You'll be able to meet these three individuals, along with the rest of the colourful cast when Dragon Age: Inquisition
releases on October 7th in North America and October 10th in Europe on Xbox 360 and Xbox One.