Interview with David Gaider, Lead Writer for Dragon Age

At GaymerX this year, I had the chance to interview David Gaider: lead writer for the Dragon Age series at Bioware. He's the author of many books and comics, including Dragon Age:The Stolen Throne and Dragon Age: Asunder. 

Try counting how many times I say "okay". You might lose track.

See it directly on Youtube:

Updated: Transcript

Ashe/Lady Insanity = LI
David Gaider = DG

LI: Hello everyone! My name is Ashe, also known as Lady Insanity. And today, I'm here with David Gaider. Would you like to introduce yourself?

DG: Hi there! My name is David Gaider, I'm the lead writer for the Dragon Age series. I've been at Bioware now for about 15 years.

LI: Yay! So, a lot of my viewers already know the basics of "What is Dragon Age: Inquisition?" and "Oh, it's an Action-RPG and all that". I guess, I'll just jump into the questions.

DG: Sure.

LI: So, the first thing that I have to ask is a lot of people were really excited about Iron Bull and they heard all of that stuff yesterday.

DG: Yes.

LI: One of the things is that how it was previously race-gated and it was removed because of the animators and John Epler (cinematic designer at Bioware).

DG: Right.

LI: Before in the Raptr Q&A, it was mentioned that there were 2 race-gated romances. Was Iron Bull originally one of them?

DG: No-no-no. There were originally 3 race-gated romances. John jumped on that and - I mean the cinematic designers are already working incredible hours right now and he just decided that it would be cool if everybody, no matter what raced they played, could get access to Iron Bull. He put in some, some...he would go home at - I don't know what time he leaves, 10? 11 at night. And put in extra hours even after that night to make sure his character could get at it. It's not something we can ask people when they've already put that kind of hours, but he thought that would be - be special. I think that's indicative of the dedication we have on our team.

LI: A lot of people were really thankful for that. A lot of people were worried how would a dwarf and qunari work out? Especially since Iron Bull is larger than a normal Qunari-

DG: Yes he is.

LI: As far as the Inquisitor, right?

DG: Yeah.

LI: How much...larger?

DG: Um, I don't think it's a lot. It's a unique rig, though. That - that unfortunately adds extra complication when it comes to the kind of- getting any kind of...any point. I know a lot of people say "Well, if it's just the sex scene?" No, it was all the romances scenes and conversations. If there's any kind of touching or interactions between the characters. It was an extra complication cause that means the cinematic designers will then have to do multiple versions of the same scene...which, to them, means having additional scenes. So, it was really trying to manage the workload. But he thought- he had...I don't know if it was the nature of the Iron Bull scenes - maybe it had a little less interactions, but he didn't think it'd be that much extra work. I think he ended up saying if he had known how much work it would have been when he started it, maybe he wouldn't have attempted it. But it ended up working out, which was great.

LI: It's a good thing he didn't realize! Haha.

DG: Yeah, maybe! Haha.

LI: Okay, now going back to the general kind of thing with Dragon Age. And I have a lot of random questions about it. So, Dragon Age is a lot about hearsay. "The Chantry tells us" and a lot of people don't even know - the elves don't even know about their past. So it's all about learning from a bunch of people and saying "this is how the world is". 

DG: Right.

LI: Now, with the Warden and with Hawke, they were kind of - they have a different way of perceiving the world. They know where they come from, like Hawke knew their own family, and the Warden came from a specific Origin (they knew they were nobility or from the slums in Orzammar). Anything like that. How aware in Inquisition - there a different backgrounds, right? The human Inquisitor is supposed to have a noble background.

DG: Right.

LI: Is that that I think about it-

DG: That's for all humans. 

LI: That's for all humans?

DG: The human mage is from a noble background and ended up going to the Circle.

LI: So, I'll put it this way. The Grey Warden was extremely new - didn't know anything as far as being a Warden. But, knew everything else in regards to the Circle, the Veil, and all that.

DG: Sure.

LI: With the Inquisitor, as far as their background, they know their background but how much of a leadership role do they know? Being a leader.

DG: It's a little bit of a spoiler - I guess? I don't know. I think the best way to address that is we: don't start you off in a leadership position. It's not a - BOOM start the game and there's the Inquisition and you're the leader. There is a lead up to that and so by the time you step into that world, you should be comfortable with what's going on and what's your place with it.

LI: Okay! ...I asked that way more winded than I was supposed to. Haha!

DG: Haha, it's OK.

LI: As far as Inquisition goes, obviously I know you can't spoil anything like that, but a lot of the enemies and ones that we've encountered in the previous games...not even enemies. Some of them have been really gray as to what they should be like. For instance, Loghain. Loghain was visibly the Warden's enemy. But the thing is we know him from The Stolen Throne and his general past and how he perceives Ferelden in the grand scape of the world. He wasn't evil.

DG: Right.

LI: The Archdemon? He was essentially evil.

DG: Mhm. Yes.

LI: So, I wanted to know as far as the "Big Bad". Is it still gray? Or is it - no, that dude is bad.

DG: Um, I don't know how much I want to talk about the Big Bad because we haven't really spoken about what's going on behind the scenes...yet. Um, I would like to say as far as the enemies you encounter - you're going to get a bit of both. Same as Origins.

LI: Okay. But as far as - I know the Red Templars were considered an enemy creature.

DG: Mhm.

LI: But will we be able to talk to them? Or is it truly - they see you, they attack you. And that's a done deal.

DG: Uh, for the red depends how far their, their um - how far the red lyrium has affected them. It gets to a certain point and they are essentially automatons. But that doesn't mean all red templars are like that. There is...some interaction. They're not just a mindless faction. There is some reason to it and you will encounter that.

LI: And does the same go for the Venatori?

DG: Yes. Absolutely.

LI: Cool! Are they the only knows we know as far as enemy factions that aren't just creatures who are going to go after you? The Venatori and the Red Templars?

DG: That's the only ones we've shown...

LI: OH. Okay, haha.

DG: Haha.

LI: Well, I did want to talk about the red lyrium, but I'm more interested in how blood magic works. There are a lot of...not "conflicting" opinions that we've heard from "oh, Bioware considers this" with blood magic. Like, is it - I believe the phrase "Is blood magic inherently evil?" Is it?

DG: That is a...there's an amount of judgment call. Even I, as a creator, I could come out and say "Yes, blood magic is inherently evil" but what would that even mean? What is the nature of evil there? Are we talking about morally evil? Morally wrong? Are we talking about evil as far sort of like a corruptive influence as far as darkspawn? There is evil - there is blood magic as is defined by the chantry, which is more involved in the use of blood sacrifice and mind control. But blood magic really goes further than that as well. I mean if you really think of it, the use of phylacteries is a type of blood magic. The Joining is a type of blood magic. So, I think it's a situation where blood magic is something that is often used for evil, but ultimately, it is a tool. Yet, one must address the moral question of it. If you have something like blood magic that is easily used for evil and so commonly used for evil, it presents such a tempting route to evil purposes. Does that mean that it should not be regulated or controlled or probably disallowed entirely? Sort of - I think the topic is more in common with gun control than anything else.

LI: So you mentioned blood sacrifices - as far as the difference between using blood as a catalyst versus using lyrium as a catalyst, what is the level between them? For instance, in Redcliffe, when you can either use blood or lyrium in order to enter the Fade, what is the amount that needs to be used? Is blood you not have to use as much as lyrium as far as cost goes?

DG: Woo, if you're going for cost breakdown, they both offer power - ultimately. Blood has the potential to offer more power, I'd say. But ultimately if you had enough lyrium at your command, you probably wouldn't need blood magic, per se. There's things you can do with blood magic that you couldn't do just with lyrium, like mind control. Cause blood magic is just not a source of power - it's a type of power. So, that allows you to control other life force - to control minds. Whereas lyrium is just a source of power for all magic. You can use lyrium to power blood magic as well. It's one of those things where blood magic is kind of a separate way of doing magic that allows different things. Allows a source of power. It's not to say blood magic is a source of magical power - it's actually both.

LI: This might go into story spoilers, now that I think about it. The difference between blue lyrium and red lyrium - as far as potency, is there a difference between the two?

DG: ...We haven't discussed what red lyrium is in order to go into detail on that. Um, ultimately I would say red lyrium is - I get a different type of red lyrium. It's like the difference between green kryptonite and red kryptonite. 

LI: OH. Haha.

DG: Haha, is that-

LI: No, that works!

DG: Ah, okay. It's like, it's like asking well which type of kryptonite is more potent. They sort of do very different things.

LI: This is actually a question I asked at PAX, but I didn't exactly get a clear answer. With Qunari magic. Hedge mages have a specific magic. Dalish have a specific magic. 

DG: Hedge mages don't have specific magic. Hedge magic - it's magic that hasn't been developed. It's like a river that gets dammed and thus the power sort of seeks alternate means of expression. Hedge magic can cover a wide, different mount of varieties, and end up with someone who's not actually doing spells - their natural magic tone is expressing itself in ways that normal mages consider - well, you basically ruin your talent. Because once you do that, there's no way to go back. Right? A hedge mage cannot turn around later and do proper spells. But sorry, I missed the question. Qunari magic?

LI: Qunari magic. As far as the Saarebas. I believe the Inquisitor will have - a Qunari mage Inquisitor will have basically Chantry-based spells and access to that.

DG: The Qunari player was never a Saarebas. A Saarebas is somebody who is essentially a hedge mage because they never received proper instruction. So, they - their talent are expressed - sort of turned into weapons. Any kind of instructions they receive is basically to challenge their magic power into destructive manners. So they just point a Saarebas at somebody and shoot, is basically all the Qunari would permit. They're not going to have more subtle arts - they won't be able to do crowd control. Or do different things.

LI: So, it's all geared towards destruction when it comes to Saarebas?

DG: Yes, they consider all the Saarebas to be weapons. The Qunari player is someone who did not live in the Qun at all.

LI: How far apart is magic research? As far as nations Orlais - Tevinter is known as the pinnacle of all magic research. 

DG: Right.

LI: Rivain has the hedge mages and a very specific kind of type. And they take spirits within them.

DG: Right.

LI: And Orlais has the University and also develops their an open way magic? Versus Ferelden and other nations. But, how's it work as far as - who is the top of the...I don't want to say magocracy, but of magic within the nations of Thedas?

DG: I think the main problem is, even when you look at Tevinter, is yes. Because magic is accepted there, there's a lot more - um, I'd say effort at research. However, they don't share their research. It's not like the Tevinter mages get together and work towards common goals. If they did, they'd probably make leaps and bounds. But since it's a magocracy, and a very - the mages are always fighting each other, they're all doing their own individual research. So does that work better than, say, if you had a Circle of magi? Where they're very restricted on the research they can do, but at least they can do as a group? I think it really depends on which group you talk to and what their sort of focus is. But, in nation does it exist that magic just without context. There's always context of dangerous or it's forbidden. Even with Rivain, they have the Circles there as well. And even when you look at the shamans, they have their traditions that they work for. Those are in a way a type of restriction as well. I wouldn't say that any one group overall excels versus any other. They may excel in other areas, sure.

LI: Oh, as far as certain areas, when it comes to...uh, what was it. Nevarra. 

DG: The Mortalitasi?

LI: Yes. I was going to ask with Necromancy. As far as how - why is it accepted over there? 

DG: That's just part of their culture. It's part of their death practices in that they - when they bury people, they believe in the exchange of souls. If someone's soul passes through the Fade and goes beyond the Fade to the Maker, there must be a soul (like a spirit) that takes that place. So, they basically invite a soul to assume the place of the soul who is now gone. So to maintain a zero sum balance. And that's why they create the Necropolis. Necropoli? The Grand Necropolis is the big one, where these bodies have these bodies have these spirits within them...are kept. To maintain the reverence for these people that are gone. It's a death culture, it may have been modeled to the Egyptians in a kind of way. It could be, if you think about it. These Necropoli have dead bodies that have been inhabited by spirits and mostly keep these within sarcophagi, but that basically means: here's the undead, mummified or tied up or whatever-

LI: They're still there, though? Haha. For an infinite time?

DG: Yeah! I mean, I know Cassandra talks about a bit. There are parts of the Grand Necropolis which have been abandoned because they fall into ruin and of course within those ones they get out. So you get undead that are kind of wandering around and...if you imagine it from the spirit's perspective, the one who was summoned to take that body, I don't think it's the best time [to talk about it]. But from the perspective of the Nevarrans, they consider it a reverential - maybe not towards the spirit, but towards the departed.

LI: You wrote Dorian. And the "fully gay" comment. But, it's less about his identity and homosexuality. But how does Tevinter interpret that? What Dorian is? He's completely different from Tevinter - I don't even know what to call their citizens. Tevinter citizens? Is there an actual word for it?

DG: There is. I forget what the term is, but there is.

LI: Haha. Um, I wanted to far as he's a pariah as far as how he's perceived. He doesn't accept how bad magic has gone, but as far as what he's doing, how bad is that in Tevinter? Beyond just seeing him as a pariah, would they cast him off? Is there a hierarchy?

DG: The thing is...the way the Tevinter magocracy works is they have a very specific notion of what is acceptable. They interbreed; it's all in an effort to produce "perfect" mages. Perfect is in quotes because they have a very set idea of what perfect is. And, to them, it means one must present themselves as that perfect ideal in all facets. In the way one dresses, in the way one looks, in the way one engages a relationship...anything that is considered to be means that any other families would be like "I don't want my mage child to breed with your mage child if they aren't perfect". So that means the families go out of the way to be seen as perfect - the parents and children both, so they have more opportunities to work up the ladder of the clans, basically. The families. So, if you have somebody like Dorian who refuses to abide by that. It's not that they're homophobic, per-say. I mean, they probably are perfectly fine - they probably accept that (under the surface) everybody is different and doesn't necessarily toe those lines, but the public face - the expectation is that publicly one must present that. Although, it's like "so, there's tossing aside tradition and deciding to be different". So that's what we see and is what we don't see even worse? That's the underlying thing. There's a lot of pressure within the Tevinter families to be a certain way. That's not everything that Dorian is obviously. He has bigger issues regarding the insidiousness - the struggle between Tevinter mages to achieve supremacy and how that corrupts them as a class. But, it does add to that and they sort of reject not only the need for that struggle, but the need for this facade that permeates the magocracy.

LI: As far as Dorian's lineage and his family...if I remember correctly, there are four different castes. Er, not castes. But...

DG: Classes?

LI: Classes. Is he at the top?

DG: He's not a magister. 

LI: Oh, so he's not.

DG: The second one is called...Altus? He's Altus. He's from a prominent mage family and thus is nobility. But to be a magister, must be part of the magisterium. That is like being a senator, right? So not every mage is a magister.

LI: And Dorian is nobility, and he comes from a very well off family.

DG: Yes, being Altus means he is eligible to become a magister. 

LI: Yes, but he is not actually involved as far as Tevinter politics or anything like that.

DG: Yes.

LI: So he just hates it. Haha.

DG: Haha.

LI: Before I totally shift away from Tevinter, how do they view elves? If they have magic and they have that kind of thing...

DG: There is a class that is specific to...well, that's specific to freed slaves. The Liberati - which the slaves who have magic and get freed from slavery. The Liberati - you can be the child and maintain that class. So you don't see a lot of free elves that would thus rise above the Liberati, which is considered the lowest rank of the magocracy. But then, to have any kind of magical talent places you above anyone else. It doesn't, right? For elves, there's a pervasive sense of...meritocracy, which is not necessarily true; but if you think about it, in a sense having magic talent means that's your ticket to success (in Tevinter's society). Potentially anyone, it's possible to have magical talent. Within Tevinter itself and even among the Elves or the slaves culture, it's like that's the ticket out. It leads, arguably that's a false sense, but it lends a sense of "We're not as unequal as everyone appears to be" as my child could have magical talent and they will be vaulted up into the ranks of the upper echelons. Even if once you're there, you could be at the bottom of the picking order. And even though it's down below, it seems pretty high. The idea that it could happen to your child is that there's this sense of support for the system because it seems like it is...that's there is some manner of equality there.

LI: They're not badly treated as it goes, as far as things go? Like in Orlais, you have the Elves that are serving the families or the higher echelons of Orlesian culture - they're not treated badly because of the family. But in Tevinter, if you have magic and you're an Elf, you're not treated as an Elf. You're treated as a person who has magic?

DG: Uh, you are treated as a person who has magic, but there are definitely is a social strata even among people who have magic. 

LI: So you never really get away from being an Elf.

DG: You never really get away from that. But like I said, even the lowest ranks of the magical classes still is a higher class than the Soporati (the non-magical class). To anybody who is part of the non-magical social class, if you're an Elven slave and the possibility can be vaulted into the ranks of the magic classes, that still places you above the wealthiest and most well-off of the Soporati. So that still seems an impossibly high dream. That your child...sure, I guess that's the tricker thing. There's nothing that you can do to make that happen, but I think the idea that it's possible is sort of like the chance of winning the lottery. Why do people play the lottery? The chances of winning aren't that good. But, everyone still buys into the idea that it could happen.

LI: Haha, I've asked too much about Tevinter. I've always been - I think you tweeted a couple days ago about what could be the next book. And I was like TEVINTER. And yea.

DG: That was a very common response. 

LI: As far as the book, are you planning to write one? Or is it just going to be the next one in general?

DG: I was just trying to think of if we're moving on to another novel, what would be something people would be interested in. I was making a list and was know, maybe the list of things that I want to see...wouldn't mind polling the fans if they had ideas of what would be interesting and that might pop out and "Well that's actually pretty interesting to follow!" So I thought, yeah it's worth checking and getting an idea of things - or certain ideas or places - or possibilities were more popular than others. I mean, of is just anyone who pays attention to Twitter at all. But it was interesting.

LI: Yes, there are so many of us. Haha.

DG: Yea, there are.

LI: With Last Flight that is coming out, is that the last one coming out this year?

DG: As far as I know.

LI: Okay. So there's not - I think Last Flight came as a shock to a lot of people because of Masked Empire coming out also.

DG: Right. Right.

LI: So I really wanted to ask as far as whether that's the only one. 

DG: Could another book just drop out of the ether? "Oh my god, I had no idea!"

LI: Haha.

DG: Trust me, I mean...I can't talk about anything that hasn't been announced, so it's entirely possible I guess that some book could drop out of the ether and until something is announced as far as you guys are aware, it's not in the planning. Right? We try not to talk about it before it's ready just because: what if it gets delayed? Canceled? So I don't want to hint at things we haven't talked publicly about yet.

LI: Okay.

DG: But I mean, ultimately I'm sure we do want to have more books and comics and who knows what else.

LI: So as far as the Game works in Orlais, within the Game there are a lot of people who are dragged into it. The servants and then they have to appeal to the-

DG: Oh, you mean the Great game?

LI: Yes, the Great Game. With Briala and the other Elven servants, they always have to keep an eye out for what people say about Celene.

DG: Yes.

LI: Who is part of the Great Game and how do you even get involved with it?

DG: Uh, I think the thing to keep in mind is that it's not an official thing. Not an actual Game. There are not any real rules as far as traditions. It's really's a way the Orlesian nobility struggled to one up each other. Because they have a really great interest in maintaining a hierarchy among themselves. So really, it's come out of that. It dates back to when the originally the titles were abolished in Court and everybody for a while was Lord and Lady. Thus, the only way to supersede somebody, as far as social status, was to be acknowledged as being superior. So, they just started fighting with each other. Even when the titles came back, it became so ingrained in Orlesian culture by that point, it just continued. 

LI: How do people get dragged in?

DG: Because the nobility has influence. So you have a noble house and servants, well...the servants are going to get dragged into it because they're going to be given orders or instructions. They're going to naturally do things that their patron playing the game. To a degree, they're going to act because they also have an invested interest in the house succeeding. So they're going to jump into the Game willing. If you look at a comparison between Orlais and Tevinter, there is a sense that even the lowest of the low can achieve success in Orlais by being good players of the Game. That is even a bit more enticing, that is something you can directly affect with skill. There is always the idea that while...if I am smart, and have a good nose for intrigue, therefore I am going to be able to rise in social status even if I am not noble. If somebody who is noble and playing the Game and finds me useful, that means I am going to be...they're going to be my patron and they're going to give me a lot of money. I am going to become more successful. It just means that intrigue is a's a value that's applied to intrigue is skewed. There's a great amount's considered a virtue: your ability to deceive or your ability to make/convince people that you are better than you are. That's considered virtuous amongst Orlesians.

LI: Now that I'm thinking of, I guess you can say, I also wanted to ask, as far as the human noble for the Inquisitor, what noble for what nation though? 

DG: Oh! Free Marches.

LI: Free Marches?

DG: Yeah, you're a Marcher.

LI: Oh, okay. That clears up a lot of things. A lot of people were curious about what if it was an Orlesian noble and were you tied into the Game as far as not only yourself but the Inquisition. But having a Free Marcher...that totally clears things up.

DG: It will make sense once you play.

LI: A lot of my viewers already know about Keep, so we don't have to go into the nitty gritty about Keep. But, if you're not importing Keep at all, not using Keep to import a specific world state, what's going to be the World State? I know the Dalish Origin that did the Ultimate Sacrifice, but what else about the world is going to be in the default?

DG: Um, oh gee..I don't actually remember all the default settings. All I know is overall, any time there was a choice between the character being dead or alive, or this plot still having lingering chance of resurfacing, or it's done...we will always go towards the character being dead or the plot being done, just by virtue of - this is the sort of default for the player who has not played the previous games. We don't want...well, why have ultimate sacrifice? The Old God baby resurfacing at some point for a player who has no idea what this plot's the Old God baby in whatever form he appears in Inquisition, and somebody's going "What is going on with this plot? I have no idea" Same goes for characters - and that also leads us that if you do an import, we don't have to spend time explaining that this character in your game is alive...and when they appear we don't have to spend any time worrying about whether we have to introduce this character to who haven't played the games or know anything about this character. We're pretty sure that if they're present, it's because you want them there. You know what I mean?

LI: Okay. Yeah.

DG: That we don't have to dilute that appearance with explanations.

LI: As far as Sebastian and also Felicia Day's character...

DG: Tallis?

LI: Yes, Tallis. Will they actually exist in Inquisition? As like...they actually exist in the world? Or are they - 

DG: The DLC's for Dragon Age 2 occurred whether or not you played them. They may have just been tales that you haven't heard from Varric. When it comes to DLC, or books or comics, any characters that exist only within those areas, that even the player who did play the earlier games may not know, if they re-appear we do have to explain them. If Tallis was to come into the picture, we would have to introduce her in a way that somebody who never met her would still understand who she is, but not go into the same detail. They might not have the same context if they had done Mark of the Assassin. But, the basic explanation. Same thing for book characters. If Maevaris Tilani or Rhys or Evangeline were to appear, we can't rely on - I guess we could have a setting in Keep like "Did you read the book?" We could do that. But if we're going to bring them in, we're going to bring them in as a game character now, that's a little different. The Keep settings are really there for previous games.

LI: So, is there a chance maybe to put in "I read this book" later down the line?

DG: Maybe. I honestly don't know if they did that. I know it has been discussed.

LI: As far as Fiona goes, is she going to have a role in Inquisition?

DG: Maybe.

LI/DG: Haha!

LI: And that would have to deal with having to explain who she is...and what is her involvement...

DG: Yes. If Fiona were to appear, we would have to explain. Because for many people who haven't read the Calling or Asunder, they might not have any idea who this person is or why Grand Enchanter Fiona should be significant to them whatsoever. That's fine - if she was to appear, we would have to present: this is Grand Enchanter Fiona. This is who she is. If there's any relevance to her previous - her life as a Grey Warden. We could explain that. But really, the idea is always that for people who have read the books, or any of the tertiary products, that gives them a deeper understanding, but does's like if you read The Stolen Throne prior to reading Origins. You don't need the Stolen Throne to understand Origins, but having it gives you extra context to - adds to your experience. We would never do something, to even understand what's going on, who this character is: now you have to read the book?  "Oh, okay, now I can play it now." No.

LI: You don't need to do that.

DG: No, it means that you have - you will get more out of it. That's the goal.

LI: Can I ask about...confirmation on...if Fiona is Alistair's mother?

DG: Haha.

LI: The...the thing is that Laidlaw put on Twitter "Yes" but then the original twitter poster deleted the original one so the context is removed. And then, Mark Darrah answered in the Raptr Q&A that "just like Alistair" as far as how half-elves look. Haha...

DG:'s weird. I never actually meant it to be a thing. I thought the book was fairly obvious and people were asking and I never confirmed. I think the lack of confirmation led people to - it's almost like a conspiracy theory as to "Whoa! Maybe it's this" until finally it became such as I am not even sure whether to discuss it, to be honest. do I explain this? It comes up in the game and I will leave it at that. I don't really want to get into it before that because, like I said, it will come up in the game. That will say everything about it I think I need to say.

LI: Do I even have any more questions? Okay, so those were my questions. More people asked their own questions.

DG: Oh, alright!

LI: Yeah..

DG: This is like fan questions?

LI: This is all fan questions.

DG: Alright, let's do it.

LI: Alright. So, can we refuse sex and still continue the romance?

DG: It varies according the character.

LI: Okay.

DG: We did not do that with every character... again, it depended on the character and the writer, really. But it is possible in some situations, yes.

LI: What is the reasoning behind Cullen being only romanceable by a female Inquisitor? Is there any reasoning?

DG: Um, that is sort of a larger question. That sort of leads to "Why did we change the system from DA2 to Inquisition?" in terms of DA2 had four characters that were bisexual. Why did we change that? Why was Cullen made straight is more of a question of "Why do we have straight characters? And straight characters?" My answer to that question is because that's where we eventually landed. Some characters have to be straight. Some characters have to be gay. Some characters have to be bisexual. Eventually, once we made that decision, that means there's not going to be these other things. There's a simple answer, which is yeah. That's what we decided. The more complicated question is why did we decide there must be straight characters. And that was more like - I said this every time we talked about the romance system for DA2, for instance. Every time I said that if we had the resources, if we had enough romances to go around, I would prefer to have set sexualities. And that making all of them bisexual is a compromise of sorts - not one I really like, because bisexuality itself is not a compromise - it's a distinct sexuality. But, I didn't want to tell four bisexual stories so it even varied in DA2. Isabela, for instance, is very open about her sexuality. She talks about romancing either sex. Then you go all the way to Merrill, who doesn't mention it at all, and the idea was to leave room for ambiguity, but where we ultimately ended up on is that ambiguity wasn't necessarily helpful. I know some people like it, some people really hated it, some people diluted their characters and that led to...that sort of ran down a road of where people called player-sexuality, which isn't a term I really like. Because it implies the player's perception of their sexuality dictates their sexuality.. dictates the reality of their sexuality. So, that if you're a man romancing Merrill, because she never talks about her sexuality, that lets to pretend that she's straight if you like? But you seeing her as straight does not make her straight. She is bisexual, even if you're not exposed to that. That's the same as a bisexual person - a bisexual woman could be in a current romance in a man. That doesn't make her straight - that makes her bisexual. Us changing that wasn't that we didn't want to deal with that - it's that... okay, getting away from that ambiguity with that - okay, we like to have set sexualities so we can tell different stories. We can have actual representation. We can tell stories so that they are bisexual stories adjacent to gay stories and straight stories, as well. It's about having all types of people and not needing the ambiguity means we can include having that part of their character.

LI: So, specializations...we've been told are involved on a narrative basis. People are going to be able to recognize it. But how in depth is that? Is it really a part of your identity  that people will consistently mark on it?

DG: Which, sorry?

LI: For your specialization. Like, you're a Necromancer. Having that...people consistently refer to that within the story.

DG: There is reactivity to each of the specializations. The nature of the specializations is that they really don't need to dominate - think that that's why we decided not to do the blood mage in terms of it seemed that blood mage was a weird outlier that magic exists in the lore. It sort of demanded a lot of reactivity, so at the end of the day, when we finally looked at it, we went "Can we provide the reactivity that it requires?" and if the answer was no, maybe we shouldn't do it. And that's why we looked at those things. We wanted the reactivity, but we didn't want one specialization out of 9 to sort of dominate the amount of content required to do it properly. In previous games, we always had blood magic and always intended to have reactivity, but because it was one that required so much, eventually it's like once we start the cutting process, it's like well...what can we do? What can't we do? Well, we can't give it what we intended. So, it ended, it doesn't have what it kind of means. I think if we ever do blood magic properly, it will require an approach from maybe a different standpoint than just a specialization. Like maybe a class of its own...or I don't even know. A story I think is what that that calls the context of Dragon Age, anyway.

LI: Okay.

DG: We definitely have reactivity to their classes. People responding to...they definitely do respond that you are that specialization.

LI: The people who respond to it just the soldiers? The Inquisition? Or also NPCs like townsfolk?

DG: I'm not sure if the townsfolk would recognize what specialization it is? You definitely get a lot of reactivity amongst your inner circle. 

LI: So mainly like the advisors and also the companions?

DG: Exactly. I mean like, if your a tempest, I'm not sure that somebody could look at you and go "He's a tempest!" Haha. You know what I mean? I mean, even with the Templars, you don't necessarily walk around in Templar robes. Even though, heh, with the game works, people are sort of blind to what you're wearing anyways. "Gee! You're wearing robes and have a staff. Could you be a mage?" Yeah.

LI: Haha.

DG: But they'll probably more recognize class rather than specialization.

LI: So, how do we get advisors? Are they recruited throughout the game or are they pre-existing? Just like how Josephine was pulled in by Leliana, according to the release?

DG: Right, uh...that sort of does tell into how the Inquisition relates to the game and how you become the leader of the Inquisition. That's kind of spoilery, so I can't get into it.

LI: Okay. So, there was the NPC that apparently we can flirt with, but can we go into a full-fledged romance with that person or just flirting?

DG: Yeah, that's why we wanted to sort of correct that before it got out of hand. There were definitely different levels between what somebody will consider a romance or not a romance. I mean, if you talk amongst fandoms, they have different layers. Even within the ones we consider romances: "that's not a real romance" "that got more content". Okay, fine. That's why we wanted to correct that before expectations got out of hand. It's not intended to be a full-fledged romance. 

LI: Okay, but is it anything like how Aveline was? That you couldn't romance her, but you could push her to kiss on the cheek or something like that?

DG: Haha. Umm, I don't think I can-

LI: Can say that?

DG: Don't want to say just yet. I think that's the sort of thing you'll have to encounter during play.

LI: Okay. But, not girlfriend/boyfriend with the Inquisitor.

DG: Definitely not a full romance, no.

LI: How big is Skyhold in comparison to the other hubs in games. Like the Normandy SR-1 or SR-2? 

DG: We will be showing Skyhold pretty soon.

LI: Oh, really? Like pretty soon? 

DG: Oh, I don't know how soon. But I know there are plans to go into certain aspects of the game and show them off. I think Skyhold is one of them.

LI: Oh. Will people freak out at the different mounts? Like the bog unicorn.

DG: Haha. I don't think I'm a good judge of figuring out what people will freak out over. As far as I can tell, people will freak out about anything...haha.

LI: Haha.

DG: I...I don't know. It depends on what the questioner means on freaking out. Some of them are really cool! Um, yeah. I don't even know.

LI: Oh. Heh heh heh. Um...

DG: Haha. What's with the little giggle?

LI: What is Cullen's surname?

DG: Oh, shit. I forget!

LI: Haha!

DG: It came up! I remember when it came up, I was reading in the document "Oh! I can even tweet it out! Oh my god, he has a last name!" ...Oh, I don't remember. That's a question someone will have to ask Brianne. 

LI: They'll be so sad to hear that. (The fans). Haha.

DG: Haha.

LI: Oh, will something like the Black Emporium be back? The ability of changing your face? And more of what I want to know is that as far as small section of...a little library that will tell us about the world, I guess you can say.

DG: Um, I'm not aware of anything like the Black Emporium? But that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I just may not have...there's a lot of parts of the game that I have - even as I've playtested the game, "Oh! When did this come into being?"

LI: Haha.

DG: Just like...there'll be people...we have such a large team, though, that there'll be people off working in this section. Especially if something that doesn't necessarily involve writing. And then, they'll eventually finish and it'll get dropped into the game. You don't even see it developing - it'll just be BOOM it's in the game. So, there may very well be. I don't know. But what's the other part of that?

LI: As far as the codex, yea. The way that Black Emporium was that it added way more to the story as far as - it was a cache of information. 

DG: Oh, well the little codex's you could get on/from the various statues.

LI: Yea, that you could just poke and within that small subset.


LI: Haha.

DG: Haha. Um, yeah. We don't need a place for that, because it's really spread throughout the world. We wrote soooo many codex entries for this game. I don't even know how we got through it all. So instead of needing to go through the Black Emporium and poke through all the things, you'll be going throughout the exploration areas and finding lots of lore scattered around.

LI: You don't want to answer that.

DG: Haha.

LI: There are like a lot of people who are asking very specific questions and I'm just like "I know you can't answer that." Like, uh, Vivienne mainly. And her romance or her romanceability.

DG: Yeah...I can't talk about unannounced romances just yet. There's just this weird like "Okay, we're down to the last two!" Yeah, and putting up odds on all these characters and declarations: "This person isn't romanceable" and "I've been robbed!" Yeah, I'm sure that's coming.

LI: It's already happening, haha. Lot of people are "Iron Bull came out! NO, there's no chance for THIS character then!" And it's like, "Yes, there is...but no..."

DG: Eventually, it means there's going to be some characters that can't be romanced. There's going to be some character that aren't going to be romanceable by your chosen PC. And I...I find it funny that - if there's people that are going to be disappointed by that? Totally understand. You know, you saw that character and you had hopes that they have a romance arc. Cool, and if they don't, I think that some disappointment is totally legitimate. It doesn't mean they don't have an awesome story or great friendship arc that you will get to explore! There is stuff in the game other than just romances! I just hope that disappointment will be tempered that these characters are still awesome and that they will enjoy the experience.

LI: Since you mentioned a friendship arc, is there a rivalry arc?

DG: Not in the same way that DA2 had. We don't have sort of the friendship/rivalry working so that you had two different types of relationship. There was approval - and the certain relationships with approval. It can go negative as well, but it isn't like there's a rivalry relationship per se. There's negative approval, which can lead to hostility and possibly the character leaving the Inquisition. But, otherwise, more or less works the same like it did in Dragon Age: Origins in that there's the arc of positive approval, which can lead to friendship and possible relationship.

LI: If they leave the Inquisition, will they actually come back? Or they just gone?

DG: They're just gone forever.

LI: Forever? And they are never involved with anything? As far as...the world?

DG: Oh, they're still in the world.

LI: I mean, like...they're not involved in, say...they left the Inquisition. Now they're over at the Red Templars. Or something like that.

DG: Nope! If they're gone, they're gone-gone. They're not in the game anymore - they split. It's not like they'll go to the copper coronet [note: Baldur's Gate reference] and they'll just be hanging out going "Hey..."

LI: "Hey what's up, how are you"

DG: We make it obvious that if you say goodbye, we'll say "okay, do this" and they're gone for good. Just FYI, so everybody's like... "Well, I thought I would be able to track them down"  no-no-no-no. If you don't want it, if you don't want a character to be around, or you have a fight and they split...I mean, if you're looking at it in terms of negative approval, if you get a character to that negative approval and you have a fight and they're gone for good, that is a consequence of whatever decisions that you made. So, that means that that is a possibility that can happen. There's also not recruiting the character. There are some characters that you can say earlier "Well, I just don't want you here I think you should leave" and off they will go. And they're gone for good.

LI: Is every character going to be like you have to pick them up? Or are all of them optional?

DG: It varies. Some character you are going to meet for the course of their critical path, and some characters (like Isabela or Fenris) you'll have to go out and actually get.

LI: Is it going to, for me...I didn't know I could recruit Fenris first when I first played.

DG: Yeah. That's a very specific example that we came out of DA2 thinking we obscured Fenris' acquirement arc too much. The side plot that led you to him really seemed like a minor quest.

LI: Yeah, just meet this dwarf.

DG: If we had flagged it some way, saying this is a way to get a the very least. Or making it more obvious that there was a significant move better. The things that get you those followers that you have to seek out are more obvious, in terms of what they'll lead to.

LI: As far as the last question, who would you romance as far as Inquisition goes? Personally.

DG: Of...the romances that we've talked about? Umm, that's tough. I mean, I automatically eliminate my own [Dorian]. 

LI: Just because you've already dissected romance and you know what's to come?

DG: Yeah, yeah...also, it's weird. Because they're sort of...a little bit like my children. I guess. And that's just bizarre and a little creepy, actually. Haha. It's like if it's my character and somebody writes like porn about them, it's like "I'm happy knowing they have a sex life that exists outside of my control...that's cool? I just don't want to know anything about it..." In terms of the other characters, I think the romance I would choose...would be Iron Bull.

LI: Iron?

DG: Yeah, I would #RideTheBull.

LI: Haha. A lot of people are happy to ride the Bull. And the Fifty Shades of Bull.

DG: Fifty Shades of Bull. GO!

LI: Haha. Okay, but thank you so much for this. I really appreciate it and I'm sure a lot of people are going to appreciate it as well.

DG: Awesome.