I Messed Up.

Endgame spoilers

I’m at the Landsmeet, the trial/tete-a-tete against my rival Loghain, the guy who’s seized control over the country over the bodies of countless others. I’ve marshaled my forces. Regrettably, I gave up the chance to have a sweet coterie of werewolf bodyguards when I released them from their curse, but I’m still feeling pretty good about this. Loghain is gonna pay. I’ll sweep the approval of the nobles and then I’ll go on and save the world.

I’m confident even as the tribunal riddles me with questions. Didn’t the Grey Wardens betray the nation? Am I responsible for the death of the king? Did I spirit away the queen as part of a cruel plot to depose Loghain? No, no, no. I’m cool, you guys. Loghain’s the jerk! HE spirited away the queen (his own daughter)! He’s been running a slave trade in the ghettos! He fled the field on the day of battle! While we’re knee-deep in darkspawn invasions he’s making plays for power!

Videogame logic dictates I’ll seize the day. I’m comfortable because I’m the awesome hero. I’ll put my BFF Alistair on the throne and everyone will like me. With that in mind I’m not immediately shaken when the queen — the queen whose life I just saved — comes out and accuses me of kidnapping. You jerk! That was Loghain’s doing!

(I guess I should’ve waited until AFTER the Landsmeet to mention my plan to seize her throne)

In an instant the conversation shifts. She’s convincing people I’ve committing all these heinous deeds. Uh, HELLO, I had a bunch of werewolves at my beck and call and gave them up for the greater good! How noble is that?

The vote is called. The first two nobles go my way. I experience a brief surge of confidence. Turns out they were the only supporters I had. Hey, you guys, remember when I did that super-heroic thing where I killed all the demons in the mage tower? No? Nobody?

No, nobody remembers. Loghain wins four votes to two. I sit and stew and accuse myself of all the wrong moves I’ve made. When I routed those slavers they offered me a signed letter that would implicate Loghain in their dirty dealings. Why didn’t I take it?? No wonder everyone hates Grey Wardens: they’re so politically inept that they’ll tell the queen their plan to depose them and follow with “but we can still be friends, right?”

My self-flagellation lasts a few moments. It feels like forever. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Prison? And then what? Game over?

It’s not game over. It’s a videogame, after all, and videogames want you to win. As the palace guards are closing in a rousing cry of “Fuck this!” comes from my pal Arl Eamon, “They won’t take us without a fight, men! WRECK THEIR SHIT!” The battle isn’t particularly hard. The palace guards me are no match for my double fireball and backstab surprise, especially when I’m blazing through the game on Casual difficulty. After the victory I pound my hands on the table and say, “Alistair’s king, any objections?”

There are no objections. There’s a lot of fancy language, and there’s a blood feud of Alistair vs. Loghain in there somewhere, but I know the score: I made a shitload of bad decisions both during and before the Landsmeet and the game gave me an out. I accept my title of leader of the armies against the Blight in guilty silence and never a word is spoken about my violent coup. It was videogame logic, not me, that beat the demon horde.

I feel humbled.