Since the thing I love so much about Dragon Age is the opportunity to create multiple unique stories out of one broad storyline, it may seem odd that I have what I refer to as a perfect ‘canon’ run. Essentially I have a story for both Elissa Cousland:
and Aimée Hawke:
from which, in my mind at least, all other stories deviate: Elissa and Aimée’s stories are the ones I would tell if you asked me what happened in DAO and DA2; my other playthroughs are a ‘What If?’ variant on those stories.
The canon runs are not the first playthroughs I did, but the ones that came once I was familiar with the story and began reflecting on what, for me, was the perfect version of it. They were largely pre-planned, and played more thoughtfully than an average playthrough.
For instance, Elissa was a reluctant warden and a product of her noble upbringing, so she would see it as essential for Alistair to take the throne, and feel that, being of noble birth, she would be a more suitable queen than Anora. I knew going in that I wanted her to recruit everyone; that Connor would die because she would refuse to countenance blood magic, but feel that she couldn’t leave Redcliffe long enough to get help from the Circle; that she would put Harrowmont on the throne of Orzammar; and that her happy ending as Alistair’s Queen would require her to agree to the Dark Ritual.
Aimée’s story was a little less Disney. As the eldest of four myself, I felt that she would have a strong sense of responsibility, especially, given the family circumstances, to protect mages, and Bethany most of all. This drove Aimée’s actions throughout DA2, including her relationship with Anders. Finding that he had involved her in a plan which put Bethany in danger felt like too much of a betrayal; she couldn’t bring herself to kill Anders, but sent him away, refusing to let him help defend the mages. This led to Sebastian and Fenris abandoning her party. My post-game headcanon is that after they escaped Kirkwall, Aimée and Bethany went into hiding together, Isabella took Merill to Rivain, and Varric returned to Kirkwall once he knew they were safe, just to keep an eye on things. Aveline, of course, stayed in Kirkwall to restore order.
I should note that I’m not precious about my canon DA playthroughs at all – if you think the Dark Ritual should always be done, Zevran should never be recruited, and Isabella should be handed over to the Qunari, then good for you; the beauty of the games is that we can all choose the story that makes the most sense to us.
The playthrough I’ll be recording on this blog won’t be my canon playthrough; if you’ve read my earlier blogs about first times you’ll know it has the potential to be a train wreck that destroys Thedas. I’m ok with that – the plan is to share first thoughts and experiences and lay the ground work for that perfect run, somewhere down the line.