Dresden Files RPG

A few weeks ago, I volunteered to run a Dresden Files RPG game at Origins this year.  The games have to be on file with Origins by March 1, and true to form, I’m fleshing it out today.  I spent a bunch of time reading the playtesting manuals, which really peg the humor and tone of the series.  These are going to be some awesome books and a very fun game.

The books are supposedly written by one of the characters, Billy the Werewolf, with margin notes from  Harry Dresden and his talking skull, Bob.  If anything, I’m having trouble focusing on the text, because the margin notes are so entertaining.  They’re perfect for the three characters, as established by Jim Butcher, and the whole thing is well done.  I’m going to be preordering them when that starts in April, and Evil Hat, Inc, the company doing the game, will be offering a PDF along with a hardcover preorder.

So I’ll have a real PDF right away, and can pick my books up at Origins.  Last year, I picked up their Spirit of the Century game, and their insomniac horror game, Don’t Rest Your Head. We haven’t gamed regularly in the past year or two, so I’ve not had the chance to play them, but maybe we’ll fix that eventually.

I am putting together a con module for DFRPG, and plan to run it for my friends (read: suckers) at PAX East.  Origins isn’t until mid-summer, so that’ll give me a chance to refine things a bit.   As it is, I’m enjoying reading the stats and writeups of the various characters and monsters.  The system (FATE 3.0) is pretty geared to storytelling, with the characters attributes being pretty much whatever they want them to be.  These Aspects describe the character, and give them situational bonuses (as well as weaknesses — the best ones do both).

For instance, the titular character, Harry Dresden, has the aspect “Epic Wiseass.”

I want to grow up to be him.

Um…

Remember how I said I’d be quiet?

Yeah.

I’m really happy with this bit of code, though.  It’s a programming chestnut that the hard things look boring and the easy things look exciting.  My boss is surprised when I can do the whiz-bang feature in 5 minutes, but sorting dates by  proper rules takes me two or three days.  This is one of those things. It’s almost a game.  The second map experiment (the refactoring) is going slowly. I suspect I need a long walk.

Sucker Punch

It was a fairly interesting moment in a game without too many interesting moments:

I’d just managed to get Cole and Trish back together by being particularly good. She respected me, we were getting back together “after this is all over.” Then the villain decides to ramp things up, and make them much more personal. You run around town saving people, barely making it to the next choice, but you have to do it, he’s got Trish held captive, and is going to kill her if you don’t.

You finally catch up to him, and he’s set up two bombs. One has six doctors, the other has Trish. The game flashes up it’s overdone/overdramatic dual choice: save Trish and be evil, save the doctors and be good. (Trish is a medical professional, so it’s not like saving her is strictly Evil, but this game seems to equate Evil with selfishness.)

The choice was easy for me, as Trish would want me to save the doctors, and at that point I felt that I cared more about what she thought of me than having her.   She is, effectively, the good moral compass for your character.  How well this works is questionable, as some of my later research implies that she’s not well liked or established. My playthrough latched onto her, perhaps because I identified with her grief and anger, and saw it as a natural process. Miss that though, and she’s capricious and annoying.

Happy with the movie that played after saving the doctors, and getting absolution from Trish, I continued on the game.  Last night, I finished it.  The in-game movie ending describes how the villain had killed Trish in order to make you a better hero made sense, but it had my mind working a bit.  That might not have happened, right? I might have saved Trish?

That interested the programmer in me, so I did a bit of research both on the two endings (good vs evil) and on the different ways the Trish Vs Doctors mission works out.  The developers of the game set up a Magician’s Choice with this mission.

For those not familiar with it, it’s a card force technique where you change what you do based on the choice of the audience assistant.  If you have two cards, one in your left and one on your right, and you want to be certain that the assisatant gets the one in your right, you have them pick a card.  If they pick the left hand card you say, “Okay, I’ll keep the one you picked,” and hand them the right card.  If they pick the right card, you just hand it to them, “Here’s the card you picked!”

This is a great trick when everyone knows what the card is except for the assistant, and if you do it well and quickly enough, it looks like the assistant picked the card, when instead you’ve guided them to it all along.

With the Trish vs Doctors mission, if you pick the Doctors, Trish is on the other building, and dies.  If you pick Trish, then the woman on Trish’s building is a fake, and Trish is on the building with the Doctors, and dies.  This is against the simulationist in me, and we can argue about how the villain knows which you’ll pick, but the truth is, the story makes sense either way, but not both ways.

I’d have never realized it, if they hadn’t mentioned it in the endgame movie, and I consequently wondered if there were other versions of the movie.  So very few of your decisions affected the game that I was surprised that they would change that bit of movie for more than one possibility.  If they had modified things more, I might have bought it, but as it was, I didn’t see it.  Maybe I’m a victim of my on analyzing here, but maybe it’s a poor technique overall.

Ultimately, I’m not sure why there are so many stupid choices.  Evil here is selfish and apathetic, not actively bad (based on the choices I was given).  I would say it was also brutal, but even good was brutal in this game, if only so that good can survive.  The choice mechanic is the weakest thing in this game — and the fact that it can be replayed as an opposing alignment also undercuts the Trish vs Doctors mission by showing their hand a bit too clearly.

Infamous is a decent game, a good game but not a great one. I’m glad to have played it, but I don’t think it’ll make it’s mark on me beyond how not to do a morality system.  It’s not that morality systems are inherently bad, but I can think of a better way to manage one in this game that would have been more satisfying.

I guess that’s a worthwhile take-away if nothing else.

Quiet or Technical

So this week, I’m either going to be quiet or technical. I do have some things to write about inFamous, but I’m focusing on coding htis week. So, I’ll either be quiet, or writing code gobbledygook. (So, for some of you, technical is essentially quiet. Or you wish it were;)

Well the 371-in-1 Klik’n’Play event at Glorious Trainwrecks looms kind of close. I’m not as far along as I want to be, honestly, but a decent map and tile class will be good enough, I think. I’ve settled on jQuery and a game library written for it, called gameQuery. The latter seems to mostly handle animations (which I’m not using a great deal, but any Tile class I use should be able to handle it). The other issue is that jQuery isn’t very object oriented (like Prototype and Dojo, which I’ve also worked with). That’s not a problem, but I’ve been doing OO programming for so long, it’s hard not to think in those ways.

One thing I’m thinking about is Map tiles. Normally you’d mange it with a flyweight pattern, and load a tile image that would be split up in tile-sized bits, and used to build your map. One image is one internet connection, and you only have the image one place, except when it’s being drawn. This is a pretty good pattern and a standard way of writing a map, but I got to thinking about it — browsers already do this. So long as the graphic url is the same, it pulls it from cache or downloads it once from the internet. Let’s not over do things and do what the browser is going to do already.

So I’m not going to worry about loading and drawing graphics. I’ll just set the URL on any of the map tiles, and keep a buffer around the map so it scrolls prettily. And part of this shortcutting is that I have a week or so, and I don’t want to dawdle over the right way to do something, I just want to get it done. If it’s successful, I’ll fix it later. If it’s not, then the time wasn’t wasted.

OTOH, and since I’m second-guessing myself like crazy, having these as canvas objects means I can do cheap color animation, and that sort of thing, by redrawing the graphics. So I dunno. Maybe there’s an easy way to duplicate dom entries in jQuery, so that so long as it looks like an image, I can use it as a tile. Too bad almost no one supports animated pngs ;)

Of course, part of the issue i’m having is graphics themselves. I shouldn’t be worrying about it, but I am. I need some basic stuff, and I can’t draw–nor am I going to have time to draw. I just need to commit to the idea that my games are going to be about polygons doing polygonal things in a polygonal world. Dangit!

So, now i’m working on the classic map game that I always write to do this: concentration. There’s a sample out there, and I’m liberally copying, but hey I’m learning. As always, you can access these (and read all of the code, of course) at my games website.

Chelon’s Diary Part 2: Ostagar and Wilds

The ongoing diary of Chelon, Mage and Grey Warden. Start at the beginning.

Duncan proved to be a good, and understanding, travelling companion. The trip from the Circle Tower to Ostagar was not a quick one, and I quickly had to learn many things that I’d never had to bother with inside the tower. How to make a campfire (aided somewhat by my elemental magics) as well as how to catch and cook game, and how to set up a tent. Thankfully, Duncan had some idea what sort of person he was getting, and he assured me my skills as a mage would more than balance any lack of fieldcraft.

About the Grey Wardens he said little, except for their mission. How fighting darkspawn was accomplished, or why Grey Wardens were more adept at it he was loathe to comment. He obviously kept his own council well, and I respected that. His mind reminded me of the First Enchanters, cagey and devious. But where Irving had been focused inward, to the Circle and Chantry, Duncan’s mind was focused like an arrow on the destruction of the darkspawn and protection of Ferelden, and all the lands of world.

I found some comfort in this familiarity. If I was trading one master for another, perhaps one with more focus would be better. Duncan would take care of his people, I knew, if only because they were weapons against his primary enemy.

During our journey to Ostagar, Duncan kept his own counsel. We did discuss the role of the Grey Wardens, but only in general terms, and not the particular details.  He did teach me a great deal about basic fieldcraft, and had a certain amount of patience for me, as I’ve lived inside the tower all my life, and had little practical knowledge of the outside world.

Upon arrival at Ostagar, I met the King! I was amazed at his personableness, although it was obvious he held the Grey Wardens in high esteem.  This, I felt was a good thing.  I would be joining them, and what better leader to aspire to than the King himself? Duncan was reticent, and concerned that there was more at stake than the King believed, but I could hear the care with which he picked his words.  I hope to learn from him in this, as diplomacy seems to be one of the Grey Wardens’ more common tasks.

Duncan gave me leave to the camp and I wandered a bit until I found Alistair, who was having a hard time with a Circle Mage.  I watched bemused, then we talked for a bit. He was ex-Templar, and therefore ex-Chantry.  He didn’t seem to care that much about the Chantry or their beliefs, though, which relieved me a bit.  I wasn’t sure I liked him, but he was a Grey Warden, and my guide.

We gathered up the other candidates, and got our task from Duncan.  We had to gather some materials from the Wilds, and find some old contracts.  I was also looking for some herbs, both for my own potion making, and for one of the dogs which was suffering from a darkspawn attack.

I hadn’t thought much about the darkspawn through this process. They were our enemy as Wardens, but I’d never seen one.  Chantry legend is that they were created by ancient Mages, which is as good a theory as any, I guess. Maybe I could learn more through my work with the Wardens.  I still didn’t believe the gift of magic was really a curse.

Our mission was essentially successful, although when we arrived at the magical preserved and sealedchest, we found it magically looted and gone.  At that point someone who may or may not have been a “Witch of the Wilds” showed up.  Alistair and the other two compatriots seemed pretty concerned about who she might be.  I spent most of my time trying to figure out how her top stayed on.  The remainder of that time I spent ogling the parts her top didn’t cover.  I know, not very Grey Warden of me.  For once I regretted such a sheltered life.  Certainly Circle Mages never wore anything quite like that.

She took us back to her mother’s place, and the guys all freaked out over the woman, someone named Flemeth.  I should have probably paid more attention.  I certainly know how to concentrate and focus better than I did at that moment.  Flemeth finally asked me what I thought of everything, and I just told her I didn’t know, because, honestly, I hadn’t been paying attention.  She seemed to think this was really wise, and that made me let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.

We took our documents and made our leave.  We had things to do back at camp, and Grey Wardens to become.  I don’t know what this thing is that Duncan wants to do, but I’ll write about that the next time, as well as what we plan to do for the defense of Ostragar

I’d hoped to get past Ostagar with this post, but I’m still introducing things, and developing Chelon. Next week I should catch up and pass my current play point. Which means I can play again this weekend, this time taking freaking notes.

First Impressions: inFAMOUS

The PS3 game inFAMOUS was one of three angry-man open-world games that came out about the same time. The other two, Prototype, and Red Faction: Guerrilla were also available on the Xbox 360, so I played them months ago.  Prototype was a 30 minute game, although I gave it a few hours of play.  Red Faction: Guerrilla got a couple of nights — I did clear the first area — before it’s story and boring missions made me give it up.  The failure of those two games meant I didn’t pick up inFAMOUS for my PS3 soon after getting it, which was a mistake.

I did the same thing a long time ago, my friend Jason and I planned to see several underwater horror movies.  We went to see Leviathan and Deep Star Six both of which were craptacular movies that had Jason apologizing for even suggesting them. When The Abyss came out, we’d both had enough and skipped it entirely.  On the other hand, it meant that the first time I saw The Abyss it was the extended director’s cut, which had a much clearer ending.  Still, it’s the one I’d see in the theaters if I had to do it over.

While the horrors of Leviathan and Deep Star Six were pretty obvious compared to The Abyss, I’m struggling with what makes inFAMOUS different.  I know that I want to play and finish it.  I can only list a couple of things that really annoy me about it, but I can’t list anything that’s particularly amazing about it.  I suspect that that’s the main issue at work here:  it isn’t a great game, but it is a good, solid game.

In Infamous (I’m dropping the ridiculous spelling now) you play as Cole, someone who survives a horrible accident.  You later learn that he was duped into creating the explosion that also gave him powers based on electricity.  He lives in Empire City, a metropolis which is both isolated form the the outside by a quarantine enforced by the military, but also the three islands are separated from each other.

Play involves a mix of fighting using your electricity powers, and climbing buildings, and running around rooftops.  The parkour here is less fluid than Assassin’s Creed, since you have to perform the various jumps and drops yourself, instead of just entering a climbing mode and pressing up or forward. It’s much easier than, Mirror’s Edge as Cole sticks to everything a bit too well (the first of my complaints) and is therefore much less precise, and more forgiving.  You aren’t plummeting to your death here, ever, but you might lose some progress because the stickiness over- or under- applies.

There are main and side missions, items to collect (which, I discovered show up on your radar only after over ~10 hours of playing). The characters you interact with, friends, allies and enemies talk to you on your cell phone (or in your head), giving you story as you’re moving around the open world.

There is also a binary morality system.  This would be my second, and larger complaint.   In fact, it was someone’s post on Infamous that provided part of the spark for the Transgression posts.  The argument of that poster (I have, unfortunately, lost the link) is that by giving the player specifically good and evil choices, the game condones the choices and reduces the fun of being bad (since it’s accepted).  Obviously, I disagree, since there is a larger (and in-game) world that provides for this kind of feedback.

I’m not going to talk a lot about Infamous in terms of transgression yet, as I’ve not even tried the evil options yet.  Certainly being good in the game doesn’t feel like a transgression, despite the fact I’m someone I won’t ever be.  That’s certainly not where the fun comes from, and in fact, I think Infamous would have been a much better game without the morality system altogether.  Give us a character with wants and needs (he has these, and they seem out of line of being evil), and let us follow that.  It’s obvious to me from the Assassin’s Creed games that you can have an open world game with an essentially linear plot and have it work.

Part of what does make Infamous work, however, is that Cole is uniquely suited to his environment.  The modern world is filled with electricity, and it both powers, heals, and sustains Cole. One of the challenges he has to deal with is the power being turned off, and losing that lifeline that he’s used to. The game then turns the fixing of that into a chance to give him more powers, as well as a mini tutorial on how to use the new power.  I’m well over 2/3 of the way through the game and I don’t have all the powers yet.  This seems appropriate to me (but then I didn’t see AC2 as one long tutorial, either.)

In fact, this game uses a very Zelda-like structure, minus ‘dungeons’. Go into a new ‘dark’ area, bring back the electricity, do story and side missions there, and then move on to the next area. You return when you’ve opened up some new types of missions, until the area is complete — something that is also optional.

The combat is a combination of first and third person, mainly because so much of it is ranged.  That’s the hardest part for me, and I died more often in Infamous than I did in the same amount of time in Bayonetta. Dying doesn’t have a huge penalty, merely setting you back to a nearby clinic, or the start of a mission (or for longer missions, a mission checkpoint).  Mission failure is treated like dying, so I rarely felt I was being punished by the game (there were a couple of larger monster fights that took some time to figure out how to defeat them, which resulted in repeated deaths).

I’m close to the end of this game, so I’ll be keeping it until I’m done, I think, a few more days.  Then I suspect I’ll have more to say about it, and transgression. Probably next week sometime.

First Impressions: Bayonetta

Bayonetta made the rounds of the blogs when it came out, largely because of it’s hyper-sexuality, and the fact it’s from the same creative mind that made the Devil May Cry franchise.  Most of what I read was focused around the design of the titular character, Bayonetta.  Some of what I read cast her in a mode of empowerment, others criticized her for being designed for the male gaze.

I played the game for about 6-8 hours total, and got through three chapters. I’m not very good at these sorts of games, with huge combo lists.  My favorite combo is usually press the attack button three times, then press it three times again.  I was doing a bit more with Bayonetta, including dodging (which I do only slightly more rarely than blocking). In fact, it’s possible that with time I could come to be good at Bayonetta, instead of being passable at it.  It’s actually kind of fun.

She moves with a bit of ease and grace, and except for some times where there are invisible walls (you can’t jump on or over awnings, for instance) she moves well and quickly.  Death largely affects scores and trophies, and as I already knew I was bad at the game, I accepted that I was going to get bad trophies.  Yet, there were some sections that I did very well on, so I think there’s a chance for competence here for me.  In fact, if the other game I got from the GBox last week hadn’t captured me so completely, I’d have kept playing Bayonetta.

No discussion of the game can really ignore the sexuality of it, however.  While I think the game would be generally fun if you were playing stick figures, it’s been dressed in extreme sexuality, from the main two female characters’ body and motion designs, to even the bartender of “The Gates of Hell” (who is of a male sexual type that I find pleasing, something that rarely occurs in games.)

She’s certainly built like a runway model, and the game constantly accentuates her sexuality.  The cut scenes show her spread-legged flying into the camera.  Sometimes she seems very aware of the camera, looking into it, and winking.  Health potions (and a constant prop)  are lollipops, which she sensual licks while shooting guns from her super-high-heeled boots and so on.

In combat against larger foes, she can do special “climax” moves which essentially remove her clothing (which was only her hair in the first place).  The hair turns into a giant dragon and gobbles them up, but the camera pans in such a way that you can usually see a naked Bayonetta (stratgically covered by spinning hair) while her dragon-hair devours the angel in question.

These bits of tease are only part of Bayonetta’s sexual display, however.  These are the parts that feel typical for a video game.  They are the cleavage and ass-shots that poor games inundate us with.  If this were all to Bayonetta, then it’d just be a derivative game, like Bullet Witch. Instead, the character is way more sexual than just her design.

In the opening movie (which comes just after a basic tutorial section), Bayonetta takes on several angels before you get a chance to control her again.  It’s a fairly long movie, and I sat watching it, kind of entranced by it. At one point there’s a long sequence of her, legs spread wide, guns at her hips, blazing, as she lands on the face of one of the angels, basically smothering him with her sex (after all it is only hair between her lips and his.)

The angels at this point (and as far as I’ve gotten) are all male, or monstrous.  A few have cherubic faces, but are still grotesque with the remainder of their bodies being masculine or monster.   The other male characters in the game are a fat comic relief character, a buff good-looking demon, and a womanizing man who saw Bayonetta arrive and (I think) kill his father.

The only other female character is built on almost the same model as Bayonetta, except she wears actual clothes, and is a blonde.  She has the same exact equipment, down to shoe-mounted guns, and has the same basic powers.  They seem to be dark/light reflections of each other but it’s questionable which is dark and which light.

In fact, the moves that Bayonetta takes, and the camera angles she has been given are ones that are more likely to occur in pornography or, perhaps, sexploitation movies. She’s not unconcerned with being seen as sexual, she embraces it as part of her power.  I want to say that this was intentional and idealistic choice, but I suspect it’s there to make the typical 18-35 male gamer a bit uncomfortable.

Bayonetta doesn’t read to me as a sexy woman, but rather a sexual one, and that’s a bit different.  That she is, also, physically sexy (by some definitions), occludes this a bit.  She is as sexually confident as she is in her fighting skills, without feeling sexually predatory (which is what we usually get with a sexual woman in videogames).

I don’t know what this means in terms of art or sexism.  I feel pretty unqualified to say one way or the other. It’s a game that exudes sex, and we like that here at the Cult.  Also, unlike most sexy games, it’s actually fun to play.  That it also includes witches and sexy-librarian glasses is just a bonus.

Edit, update 2/17 1:40

For a different look, The Border House also wrote an impressions post on Bayonetta today. http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=1468  They are probably more qualified than I am to talk about sexism, and I can’t say I completely disagree with anything they said. I think our interpretations of it’s purpose are different (I’m not convinced that straight males are going to consistently like her aggressive sexuality, but I’m not one of those, either.)

For a different look, The Border House also wrote an impressions post on Bayonetta today.   They are probably more qualified than I am to talk about sexism, and I can’t say I completely disagree with anything they said. I think our interpretations of it’s purpose are different (I’m not convinced that straight males are going to be comfortable with her aggressive sexuality, although I do think the game is aimed at them. But I’m not one of those, either, so I’m not sure about that..)


Delayed

Today’s First Impressions: Bayonetta post has been delayed due to Protonaut.  My suggestion? Go play that while I finish collecting gasses writing. If experience teaches me anything, it’s that you won’t notice the time fly by.

–Mgmt.

President’s Day

Well, I’d normally talk about my weekend gaming, but my weekend isn’t over yet, thank to some of the more famous American presidents having birthdays near each other.  Or something like that.

I did pick up both Bayonetta and inFamous at the GBox this week, and have spent a fair amount of time this weekend playing both of them.  It’s getting to where one of the pieces will be more than a first impression, but I’ll have both of those this week.  Also: the next bit of Chelon’s diary on Friday.

Girl and I started watching Enterprise this weekend — neither of us had ever watched it, despite having seen most of the other Star Trek canon. Trek started losing me in the Voyager/DS9 era, and I hadn’t really been back until the Abrams’ reboot.  One could argue that Enterprise is the only bit of canon that remains after that movie.  Although the MMO takes place in the original continuity, after the destruction of Romulus (or so I’ve heard).

I’m seeing more CSS issues on the site, not sure how I missed them, so I need to prioritize fixing them.  I’ve also got only a couple more weeks to prep for the Klik-n-Play thing, and I didn’t get much work done on that last weekend, although I’ve been looking at a jQuery based game engine called gameQuery.

It looks like it mainly deals with sprite classes and does animation.  He also chose to move things using CSS positioning, and I have to admit my own experiements show that Canvas drawing, while cool, is too slow, particularly on handhelds.

I’m thinking of extending his work, however, and adding a map class that should work with my game ideas.  Also, I need sprites that I can use, since drawing isn’t really my forte.  I may just make some basic stick figures and use them over and over.

Anyway, that’s the plan for this week, barring emergencies.

Dragon-Age: Chelon’s Diary 1

Chelon

So, I took all the suggestions folks gave me for playing Dragon Age and decided to start over.  I was having fun, with my knew mage, Chelon.  The name is short for Cheloniidae, by the way.  I had a character journal in mind when I created him, and that’s why he’s male, and bald with a goatee.  I also had played through Ostagar, and knew that Morrigan was straight. I thought my normal, “lawful” character might find her an intriguing challenge, particularly if she was a love interest.

I’ve not played far into DA, so my observations and those of my character aren’t particularly colored by pre-knowledge of what will happen.  Hopefully I’ll be horribly wrong and uncannily correct at least once through this. Chelons notes will have this background, that I hope will work.  We’ll see. Let me know if there are readability issues with his bits.  I will also chime in a few places and give my commentary as the all knowing Player.

Well, who shows up right before my harrowing but Jowan.  I’m not sure what’s up with him — he’s been here longer than I have, but he long ago glommed onto me as a friend. At least he hasn’t been around as much lately, but when word that I’d be taking the test soon, there he was, asking me questions, none of which I had the answer to, nor the inclination to answer.

He’s been here longer than most of the apprentices, and hasn’t been called for his yet. I mean, if a man can’t decide if he’s going to shave or grow a beard, he’s going to have trouble with demons, right? I’ve heard the rumors, of blood magic, but I don’t really think he’s got what it takes to do that.

He even showed up after my Harrowing. I had to wonder how I was going to get rid of him, or for that matter why he was there.  We talked for a few minutes, about inanities, but I needed to see the First Enchanter.  He even asked again what my Harrowing was.

I hate it when games do this, presume a friendship or relationship that existed for my PC before the game, without establishing it well. Jowan just shows up and claims to be my friend. Hey, dude, I just met you, I don’t know you from a rage demon.

I blew him off.

I’m not surprised I survived my own Harrowing, but I won’t write about it here.  I’ve been asked by the First Enchanter Irving to not describe it to anyone. He also introduced me to Duncan, leader of the Grey Wardens.

We talked for a moment, as I led him back to his rooms. I was sure that Irving was having me take him back for a reason.  Irving has is subtle moments.  The main thing I got out of the conversation, though, was that there was a whole big world out there that I knew mostly nothing about.  The other realization that I had was that I didn’t really care. I was a Mage of the Circle, and I knew and had my place.  If I was called on to fight, I would go, but that wasn’t my plan.

Jowan bugged me as soon as I left Duncan’s rooms. He led me to the side, where he showed me to his girlfriend Lily.  As a member of the chantry, their liaison was wrong, and well that’s all that should matter, right? They wanted to run away together, and wanted my help to do it.  They needed me, since I had passed my Harrowing, and could get something from stores that they could not.

I told them no, unequivocally no, and walked away, but not before Jowan made some speech about me being a bad friend.  I’m a bad friend? He was only toadying up to me in order to get me to do something for him.  I knew my duty, so I went to see Irving.

Irving, of course, already knew about it. I said he was subtle, didn’t I? It’s one of the reasons I respect him as a leader. I can only hope I’ll have that much respect from my fellow Mages.  His plan, though, I wasn’t so sure on.  He wanted me to help them, in order to prove to the Chantry that Lily was involved.  I understood the political motivation, but it seemed outside the rules.

Still, he is my leader, and I trusted him to take care of things.  So I did help them.

As Jowan got to his phylactery, and destroyed it, I could only hope that Irving had somehow replaced it with someone else’s.  That he’d planned for this.  When we went out and and Jowan showed himself to be a blood mage, I felt a sinking feeling.  Lily, covered in Jowan’s blood shrunk from him and admitted to her faults, at least.

And the chantry did not want to believe that I wasn’t part of it, despite Irving’s insistence, and I was exiled from my home by order of the First Enchanter.  To go with Duncan and become a Grey Warden.  I could only hope that Duncan would prove a more loyal and capable leader than Irving had been.

Interesting that the punishment for a mage to break the rules is death, but it’s imprisonment for members of the Chantry.  I guess they can’t imprison mages more than they already are, comfortable prison as it may be.  At least I was right about Jowan.  He was no one’s friend, in the end.

He’s out there somewhere. In that wide world I’d been exiled to.  I promised myself to keep that in mind, should we meet again.