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Danella the alleged deserter

Discussion in 'Dragon Age: Origins' started by chevalier, Aug 24, 2016.

  1. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

    Dec 14, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Another one of those silly in-game minutes I'm wasting real-life hours sorting out. The entire thing is a spoiler, so just don't read on if you don't want to have your game spoiled. I'll be including a reference to matters beyond this specific quest (A Day in Court).

    The facts look like a brief AWOL case with a mitigating factor, something a civilized modern military would resolve with a short pay cut, arrest or loss of a stripe or two as a summary offence. Except one thing: she says she had asked the old captain (not Garevel, hence probably a Howe appointee and thus a potential sadist or close) to release her from her oath. You don't ask for a discharge to bring family with you to the city or keep from a farm a couple of leagues away; you ask for a leave. She didn't ask for a leave, she asked for a discharge. She went AWOL without intending to return any time soon, and that's desertion. She claims the family need her more, so she apparently has not previously thought about simply saving the lifes alone of the family by bringing them to the keep, only about getting released from the military to go home to defend the farm with its property without thinking about the rest of the kingdom and the lives of fellow soldiers.

    … But if you suggest fetching her folks she promises to return. She responds extremely well to the nudge, yet she needs it.

    Still, the dialogue options look like this:

    1. 'Desertion cannot be tolerated. The penalty is death.'
    2. 'Her motive mitigates her crime. One year in prison.' (Perhaps not too steep for AWOL in war time when holding an important scouting outpost, which is an important responsibility on which the safety of many soldiers and others may hinge, as well as the outcome of a battle and thus directly or indirectly the entire war.)
    3. 'Danella, bring your family here. And fight for us anew.'

    Of the three the last one sounds like the perfect solution and the making of a magnificent arl, sagacious, compassionate and inspiring, not a pushover if a bit too lenient and perhaps naive. On the other hand, it's a bit late for that, really, since the soldier has already committed the desertion.

    As if the two hands were not enough, there is a third: the way the game is perhaps a little foggy on details between AWOL vs desertion proper, which might well be somewhat intentional, compounded by how the chain of command obviously failed.

    So here's what I'm already sure about:

    1. Death would be way out of proportion.
    2. If it were a clear AWOL case (e.g. if she said she wanted to return), I would choose #3 without thinking.
    3. If it were a clear desertion case, I would send her to jail.


    1. 'Asked the old captain to release me from my oath,' doesn't guarantee that complete desertion was her intent at the time she actually went AWOL, which may have been on an impulse and without meditating on the intent; perhaps she didn't even know what her intent was.
    2. On the other hand, she's awfully sure of herself and entitled and doesn't seem to be realizing the weight of her duty (stops at not being a coward, doesn't even begin to think about her responsibility to and for fellow soldiers etc.)
    3. More importantly, if she managed to ask the old captain repeatedly, it means she must have started months ago, so it can't easily be chalked down to responding to an immediate threat.
    4. On the other hand, as per #1, asking for a discharge persistently still doesn't guarantee that she wanted to fully desert when she took matters in her own hands after being refused, not even if the said taking of things in her own hands had been premeditated long ahead. ;)
    5. But it still looks like she didn't even bother asking the new captain's permission. Or think about asking for a leave to bring her folks to the city as opposed to defending the farm. Even though she had had months to think.
    6. This, however, I mean the obvious implications of the timeline, does look like simplified or a little sloppy design.
    7. And something in Garevel's presentation is making me think he may be exaggerating it or even BioWare might be using the term 'desertion' in not exactly the correct way.
    8. The toolset apparently shows that you're considered a good ruler (VGK_GOOD_RULER) if you put her in jail for a year but a bad one if you release her. This is a clue as to how BW themselves are perceiving the choices here, I guess.


    What I know is that an impulsive decision to defend her farm after being vexed and antagonized by chain of command would come close to option 3. On the other hand, she would be very lucky to get away with just one year in prison for a failed desertion attempt at war time and an entitled attitude about it, even in the presence of a mitigating factor.

    I'm more and more inclined toward #2, though my first inclination was #3, probably influenced by having already commuted Alec's sentence to military service, effectively giving him a job instead of punishment. A case could be made that he wasn't already an oathsworn soldier and that theft of two bushels of grain wasn't the same as abandoning a scout's post in a tight war situation.

    What do you guys think? Anything I'm missing or misinterpreting in your opinion?
  2. xosmi Gems: 20/31
    Latest gem: Garnet

    Resourceful Adored Veteran

    Apr 30, 2006
    Likes Received:
    I just finished my playthrough of DA:O (and Awakening, during which this quest takes place.)
    As far as i know not much more background information is given on the circumstances, but the way you choose to deal with the situation does influence the end-game somewhat.

    Like your original post , spoilers abound from this point on :

    - If you decide to execute her, some of your soldiers will see this as being too harsh, and will join the peasant revolt that you have to deal with after finishing two of the three main plots of the awakening expantion, possibly making it harder for you to calm the crowd through intimidation/coercion.
    - On the other hand, if you decide to let her get off without any punishment whatsoever, other soldiers will take the opportunity to desert as well, influencing the upgraded state of your keep during the final battle when the mother attacks Vigil Keep.
    - The 'best' option would be to jail her for a year, which is taking the middle road - providing an incentive for your soldiers not to desert, while still being quite a lenient punishment considering the alternative of an execution.

    This can be important, since (depending on which you pick) you can only ever save the city of Amaranthine or the Vigil's keep during the final battle- not both.
    However, if for example you decide to save the city of amaranthine, having the keep fully upgraded will allow for some of your PC's to survive even if they are not in the active party. (all PC's not in the active party will be considered to have been present at the keep during the battle there.)

    So if you want to run into Nathaniel Howe in dragon age 2, you either have to take him with you while saving Amaranthine - or you need to have fully upgraded the keep.
    chevalier likes this.
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