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[SPOILERS] Mages or Templars, whom did you choose?

Discussion in 'Dragon Age: Inquisition' started by chevalier, Dec 29, 2016.

  1. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Initially, it looked quite easy to me (this early into the storyline you don't know that a lot of this info is fake):

    • Those in the Hinterlands are rogue groups, accounts vary about them, even Solas refers to some of the apostate groups as little more than animals, but you don't witness apostates slaughtering people because a shovel just might be a mage staff and a wedding ring just might be magical.
    • Fiona and other Redcliffe mages denounce the Hinterlands rogue breakaways as apostates. By contrast, the rogue Templars are merely supposed to be in breach of orders to withdraw to Val Royeaux. Eventually Lucius essentially says did nothing wrong.
    • … Just after his underling punches and knocks down a revered mother. And just before he delivers a profoundly disturbing tirade. And refuses to even talk to you. Fiona, on the other hand, is polite and respectful. Despite having been the highest-ranking mage in Thedas she asks if she can have a moment of your time. No pushing, but an invitation to pay a visit and just talk. No asking for anything before she will even negotiat etc.
    • Information from Vivienne does cast the rebel mages in a doubtful light. It's not exactly clear if Lord Seeker Lambert had forced their hand or they simply went wholesale Libertarian. Both perspectives seem equally valid or invalid.
    • One point against the mages for causing problems for everybody when they use blood magic, which is not only when they have some sort of trouble with the Templars. By contrast, the Templars cause problems almost exclusively to the mages and are usually reactive. You also learn that Fiona had elected to the position of Grand Enchanter on a pro-freedom platform.

    This is at least 4:2 for the mages before you go to Redcliffe, with the mages looking somewhat bad, but still not as bad as the Templars with their current leadership.

    But later, when you do go to Redcliffe:

    • There's a new rift right on the village gate. Then it turns out the mages have allied with Tevinter. That's bad — everybody knows about the magisters' bad habits such as slavery and blood magic, not to mention using magic to control the country. It even turns out Fiona hadn't originally intended to talk to the Inquisition, only when the deal with Tevinter backfired.
    • They put themselves in servitude in hopes of eventual citizenship. That's silly. There are more silly and/or weak mages there, who are against the rebellion but stick with the rebels, even though there exist surviving loyal circles, there's the Inquisition etc.
    • According to Connor, the Magister kicked Arl Teagan out of the castle onto the street. And the mages tolerated that. They may be just as far gone as the Templars.

    This is a massive game-changer, obviously. Their situation may be desperate, but they are reckless and oblivious to the danger they pose. And selfsh.

    Here's where things become difficult:

    • Obviously, allying up with Tevinter is worse than punching a Revered Mother and being rude. Which is probably topped out by forcibly and humiliatingly ejecting the king's arl from his castle.
    • However, the Templars have left the capital defenceless to the rift threat and other threats, are openly against the Chantry as an institution (the mages don't question the Chantry itself) and are planning some sort of wholesale manhunt against the mages probably not much more civilized than the Hinterlands affair.

    At this stage you don't know about Lucius being fake, but allusions are made in Codex entries to having to investigate the Templars rather than simply joining forces with them. Also Cassandra's conversations and some other dialogue imply that going to Therinfal isn't just about begging Lucius to help, it's about getting him to see reason.

    There is a hint on the war table that accepting Champions of the just means you won't be able to work with the mages. However, that's just a plot help device in the interface rather than in-game knowledge. In-game information doesn't suggest as much finality.

    In any case, by allying up with one of the groups you're essentially using their help to patch up the sky. If anything, allying up with the mages implies giving them protection (immunity rather than actually fighting the Templars for them), whereas allying up with the Templars implies allowing them to crack down on mages. (You don't know that 'Lucius' is going to be replaced by one of the nicest templars ever. You don't know that the non-chosen group is going to tag along with Cory and attack you.)

    This is hindsight and meta info etc., but:

    • The end of Champions of the Just is more satisfying and feels more like having done the right thing, according to people. The order goes back to being good, the new leadership is more than reasonable etc.
    • You probably may still experience pangs of collective guilt on behalf of 'society' pushing the mages into Tevinter exile and serviture (and into Cory's arms, so many of them dying in the Haven assault, including Fiona, etc.).
    • If you choose the Templars, King Alistair's mum is going to die, also being the only known ex Warden to have escaped the Call. It's probably on her head, not the Inquisition's, but anyway, in your lore (for DA4 and beyond) King Al's mum is dead, and the only known Warden cured of the Taint also is dead. Even worse if the Hero of Ferelden, too, is dead.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
  2. Paracelsi

    Paracelsi ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    IMO your character's class/background should play a major role here. The bottomline is that both groups need leadership/guidance/direction, and depending on your class/background you can have a better understanding of one faction or the other. Also, if you run around the Hinterlands long enough you'll see members from both factions attacking innocents. Something's obviously wrong with the leadership.
    Everyone offers pros/cons about each group, even Cullen/Cassandra (despite their connection to/preference towards the templars) will hint during some of their early conversations with that siding with them may not be ideal. Out of all the NPCs only Vivienne will react strongly against a particular group (the mages - she hates them) though she's also pretty candid with her intentions so at this point you should already suspect that there's some political/power play involved there.

    If your character is a rogue (lacks insight into magecraft or mage culture and the disciplined/military/noble/tactical background to connect with the templars) then its a tossup. Personally I went with the mages on my rogue because the thought of a mage faction with weak leadership offered far more terrifying scenarios in my mind.

    Note that this is not so much about you siding with one faction or the other with respect to the templar vs mages struggle. It's about you (and the Inquisition) choosing a faction to ally with/restrain in order to stabilize the region and end the immediate threat (ie, there's a hole in the sky and we're all going to die unless someone does something).
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
  3. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    It isn't a declaration of who's right or whom you support to win, but at the same time the practicalities of your choice are such that the Redcliffe mages are going to be protected from the Therinfal Templars if you side with the mages or that the mages will be left without help if you don't. It also affects what sort of people you're going to have under your command and be associated with by the general populace.

    And on this I'm quite torn. It's easier to understand Templars struggling to challenge their military + monastic chain of command than to understand those mages who, in their more democratic and fraternal society, voted against secession but still opted to go along with the slim majority and stick with Fiona and even Alexius rather than going over to Vivienne, Grey Wardens, Inquisition etc. Choosing a shady, slimy Tevinter magister over Vivienne's loyalist Circle remnant is pretty extreme, whereas non-red Templars don't seem to be aware of Lucius's doings, let alone decided to side with him. In this, they appear to be far less insane than the mages as a group, but it's hard to beat Lucius's tirade about 'his destiny'.

    The way I see it siding with the mages essentially means an Inquisition guarantee of safety because the Templars would become your enemies for attacking your allies, let alone your conscripts. It's harder for me to assign an interpretation to going to Therinfal because of the unknowns.

    In broader terms, my Inquisitor tends to agree with Vivienne's stated position and reasons, with the understanding that she really wants abuses to stop rather than somehow benefiting from them or from conveniently pretending they don't exist. Cut the abuses, restrict Templar rights, no on-the-spot Annulments, no prison-camp Circles, no collective responsibility, no guilt by association etc., but no independence either, let alone dissolution.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
  4. Paracelsi

    Paracelsi ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Indeed, it's the precariousness of the mages' position that usually makes me side with them. I suppose I could go the roundabout way and recruit the templars first and let them take care of the mages, but given the lessons of DA:O (Connor and the desire demon/the demon of Honnleath almost wiping out entire villages) and DA:2 (lots and lots of abominations) I think the mages need to be taken cared of, one way or another, ASAP.
    I suppose this comes off as a bit unethical but the dangers mages pose are very real, both to themselves and to the people around them.

    Your conversations with some of the mages you meet (like the Inquisition creature researcher) should tell you that most of these mages are people who have spent most of their lives inside the circle. In the months after the events of DA:2, many of them are probably afraid, angry, reckless, confused, desperate, etc. - recipe for disaster, in my ears.
    The fact that the templars played a major role in how events ultimately turned out (gleaned from early conversations with Cassandra, where she acknowledges that the Seekers were indeed aware of the brutality of the templars and that a rebellion was imminent, and yet Lucius and her superiors refused to act for whatever reason) doesn't win points them any points from me, either.

    Vivienne's battleground is the political/social scene and one of the things people like her hate the most is when the rules change, since she's the type who spends most of their time/efforts studying the rules currently in place. She sees the rebel mages as incompetent fools who were so bad at the "game" that they had to ruin it for everyone else, including the ones who were actually playing well and were close to a breakthrough (ie, her). With Vivienne it's all about her ambition - you don't exactly see her trying using her influence to try and reason with the rebel mages/templars or ease the suffering of the people affected. You can see how the average person wouldn't be particularly fond of her, people tend to have a hard time relating with someone who views them as more of a statistic.
    The only thing that you know for sure about her is her ambitious drive- what her ambitions actually are is left vague, though she does seem to believe in justice and fairness.
    Vivienne's disdain for anyone who doesn't "play by the rules" (of the political game) should become more apparent in your conversations with her and her banter with other NPCs.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2016
  5. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    I get that sentiment sometimes from posters in threads from 2014 in various forums. Their logic goes more or less like this (no numbers because it isn't strict inference, it's a bit more intuitive and blurry):

    • the mages are irrational and irresponsible, and their leadership even more so
    • in fact the leadership should get their own trial in Skyhold for what they did
    • in terms of moral ground or 'worthiness' the mages don't necessarily beat the Templars or their cause
    • their collective and individual actions in Redcliffe are dishonourable, stupid and self-destructive, from top down and bottom up and everywhich way
    • the Templars invite more sympathy
    • but the mages have children there, young apprentices, some Tranquil, some helpless Loyalists etc. with them, who need saving — from their own incompetence and probably Fiona's much more
    • they are also a huge mass of civilians
    • and you don't just take time to build a coalition and go negotiate with an unstable egomanic prick when you have a Tevinter Magister on your doorstep and your absence would make the Inquisition vulnerable, which realistically wouldn't be done overnight, and dude has time magic anyway
    • so it really makes every sense to do things Leliana's way for once
    • afterwards, however, you can do things Vivienne's way and declare them prisoners, not allies

    IMO the mages are clearly incapable of self-governance because they are incompetent but also because they aren't even interested. They don't feel a sense of responsibility, they don't want to be accountable, they readily excuse evil actions such as allying with Tevinter, mistreating the Tranquil or the people of Redcliffe along with the arl and the Fereldan crown who had gone out of their way and took huge risks on behalf of the mages. Also how they irresponsibly undercut their income base, i.e. the Tranquil formari, expecting I don't know who to fund them — or they just didn't think? They are clearly incapable of self-governance and clearly selfish in their cause.

    However, helping them doesn't do wrong to the Templars. First, you don't abandon the Templars to their fate in-game, their fate is only a plot consequence. Second, the Templars, including ser Barris, obeyed Lucius despite knowing better. Third, the Templars are soldiers and protectors, so unlike civilians they have already essentially pledged their lives to and for the cause — their casualties are different from civilian casualties. And so on and so forth.

    Because of the sense of urgency and plot connection and fluidity you can view it as following through and reacting to what's happening in Redcliffe, rather than yay for the mages, nay for the Templars.

    Reluctantly, but I would save those people before the more or less faithful Templars. At some point you have to allow heroes to make their sworn sacrifices, which includes allowing people like ser Barris to eventually die for the Maker, for justice etc. You aren't even doing him an injustice because that's what he has dedicated his life for. Including his life expectancy.

    To be fair, the Templars have a bunch of mitigating factors:

    their chain of command is far more formal and equipped with both military and religious sanctions (think real-life Templars or Hospitallers disobeying orders in the face of Saladin or Baibars)
    they have to get drugged up before they go batshit crazy, whereas for the mages it's enough to be put in a bad situation but with free will preserved
    they aren't selfish, they balance mages' freedoms vs the safety of many, not the good of the Templar Order (this changes with Lucius), whereas the mages, underneath their soft words and manners and plight of the opressed are in fact looking out for no. 1 and happily ignoring the dangers posed by magic to the general populace
    Cassandra is so completely right when she says: 'The mages made their suffering known. The Templars never have.'

    But yes, it's very hard to view them as viable negotiation partners (let alone potential allies) after Lucius acting the way he did in Val R and the Order following him even before getting high on red lyrium. The decision to split from the Chantry and crack down on the mages through collective responsibility was before red lyrium and Cory came in.

    It may look cynical or brutal, but she's right actually.

    Same. I have zero sympathy for partially amoral gold diggers, but she's correct on the merits.

    It's rare but you do. She does so when you ask her in dialogue with Enchanter Elandra in the Crossroads (that refugeee village south of Redcliffe). In some of her conversations she seems not unmoved by the suffering of others. She's presumably trying to benefit from the situation, but I see that as a form of opportunism secondary to doing the right thing. So she wants to do the right thing but also profit from it. And then she probably isn't even too aggressive at pursuing the profit. She seems to be more altruistic and concerned with the right thing to do than the average authority figure but simply more conscious and methodical about added personal benefit in contrast to most people being hazy about both.

    She doesn't go that far. I'm relatively fresh after her initial conversations in Haven just after recruiting her, and she seems to be taking a privileged perspective but still concerned with the suffering of the many, innocents especially, and whether Templar or mage or neither. I suppose she might be regarding casualties as statistics, but she isn't really a user, I think.

    Admittedly I've only had so little conversation with her as is possible before even moving to Skyhold, so I guess I still have a lot to learn about her.
     
  6. Paracelsi

    Paracelsi ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Yep, oh I definitely respect Vivienne for her views and I personally see nothing wrong with what she does. The only thing that concerns me is if she gets her way without opposition, since people like her need a counterpoint to truly shine (in the overall sense).

    In many ways she's like the polar opposite of Cole, I suppose. Cole is basically an ideal given sentience and who is now trying to fit into the mortal world better, while Vivienne is a human trying her damndest to embody certain ideals in a setting which (often enough) badly needs them. It adds a certain philosophical layer to the game especially considering that both of them have major roles to play.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2017
  7. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    So far I've decided that there's no reason for Lel to deny the Inqusitor her knowledge, especially where it could support the conclusion she wants the Inquisitor to make. This is similar to how there's no reason for Varric and Cullen to hold back, which is basically DA2. Lel would have access to DA1 info and lore. Cass and Giselle should have a lot of access to Chantry lore and be willing to share most of it, likewise Vivienne as a First Enchanter + Imperial Advisor + whatever else she does. Hence most of what it says in Asunder should be fair game, so I've decided to read the book. I'm 84% through and have more background knowledge, but it isn't really forcing my hand.

    Well, obviously, Lord Seeker Lambert is openly defying and disparaging the Divine, so he's the traitor, not the First Enchanters he decided to murder. Evangeline is right — the duty of a Templar at that point is to protect the mages from the Seekers. I can see how they don't seem to have too many options, and it wouldn't really have been reasonable to cast all hopes on Wynne somehow being able to not be deterred from getting the Divine to intervene. At that point they had their hand forced, though the Resolutionists hijacking the Conclave was certainly self-destructive and the point stands that Fiona is hardly competent and reasonable, not to mention the things that happen already in DAI.

    So I'm leaning toward the mages, but I'm hardly convinced. It just doesn't seem right to abandon all of them to either Tevinter or what are now apostate Templars under Seeker leadership, even though the extent of their irresponsibility (including even Wynne briefly falling to the dark side at some point) certainly gives me pause.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
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