am i the only one who doesn’t really like the Wardens as an order? i kind of felt like there was a noble purpose at the beginning of Origins but all the secrets and the backhanding and shadows and daggers and then the Architect
i mean, yes, they’re necessary, but they’re not exactly the embodiment of the lawful good alignment here, and it’s sort of weird to see them being portrayed as such. rewatching the Inquisition trailer makes it seem like the Seekers are attacking the Wardens (in what is possibly Weisshaupt…?), and my first reaction is “why” not “OH POOR BB WARDENS.”
they haven’t exactly been angels. they were exiled from Ferelden for a reason. >___>
I’m highly suspicious of the Wardens as an order, as in I’m not entirely protective over Weisshaupt. The Wardens in Orlais are a much more significant power than in Ferelden, and such situations tend to nurture corruption. Large organisation always tend to shelter more or less ambitious people who start twisting things to their own benefit. I am protective over Vigil’s Keep and that’s pretty much the extent of it. :)
From the very first moment they can FORCE you to join, and that JOINING means a death sentence they conveniently don’t warn you about (or at least, Duncan doesn’t, but I suppose none of them do or they wouldn’t have volunteers), personally I never liked them since the beginning. Though of course all the arguments about them being necessary and all that still stand, and there would have never been an awesome game like DA:O without them.
It’s interesting- I fundamentally agree with the statements being made here, yet my feelings about the Wardens don’t agree with the sentiment being expressed?
I think the point where I’d disagree is that it’s “weird seeing the Wardens portrayed as lawful good,” because the way I interpret what I’ve seen in the games, the writing really doesn’t seem to be trying to portray them that way! To my mind at least, that’s the whole point of poor Ser Jory getting shanked in the narrative early on in DA:O- that moment is “oh wait maybe these Grey Wardens are kinda shifty!” 101, for everybody who didn’t play an origin where Duncan’s timing and motivation for his recruitment of the PC were seriously suspect in the first place, liiiike… well just about every origin but the dwarven ones, where he comes out looking pretty rosy from what I remember, especially with Brosca.
(On that note I could argue that his support of the elves by providing weapons in the Tabris origin was actually a potentially politically disastrous move for the Wardens because city elves are by at least one explicit in-game account not permitted to own or carry weapons. Given that the Wardens’ political relationship with Ferelden at that point in time is tenuous at best, the fact that he’s willing to risk arming elves on the “wrong” side of what could become a political powderkeg and potentially hobble the Wardens’ war efforts or even get them kicked out of Ferelden again DURING WHAT THEY’RE PRETTY SURE IS A BLIGHT actually speaks to me of a certain amount of compassion on Duncan’s part, although guarded. The fact that he’s already actively talking about recruiting Tabris before the bad shit goes down, however, does make one wonder just how shrewd he was being in that whole scenario, and sort of ruin the sentiment. Anyway, I digress.)
It seems to me that the Wardens have a very difficult job to do, and given that the end result of their being anything less than completely diligent in their duties is the end of the world, their dedication to that goal needs to be profound. This is somewhat problematic in a society where the fundamental fact of what gives them the ability to fulfill their duty looks an awful lot like the greatest possible crime known to that society! Drinking the magically-altered blood of monsters and a Tainted God; sounds an awful lot like blood magic, doesn’t it? Blood magic, which is punishable by death (or, essentially, lobotomy) in all Andrastean nations, which has resulted in the systematic oppression of an entire class of people by a bunch of squabbling, mistrustful governments who agree on little else. If that essential secret of the Grey Wardens became widely known, how quickly do you think they would be slaughtered? They’re an order formed by shrewd, desperate men who understood that what needed to be done was not palatable, but must be done none the less.
So, if you can’t tell anyone the real reason why keeping your order’s numbers strong is important- because the very people you’re trying to protect would want to slit your throat and piss on the corpse if they only knew- and there’s a very real chance that a large number of new recruits will die in the process of recruitment, how do you keep your ranks filled? How do you, with even the smallest scrap of conscience left to you, ask people to give up their health, lifespan and legacy, their chance of a family, and quite possibly their very lives before they’ve even had a chance to make a difference in the world?
You maintain an aloof distance from normal society, cultivating a reputation for mystery and heroism. You let people volunteer, let them come to you if they will- and some of them will, because you’re special. You’re heroes! You can’t tell these poor souls what they’re getting into, you can’t scare them off, because you need them- you need fresh blood in your ranks, and you need people to believe that you are heroic, as much as it is a lie. Once you say yes to the Wardens, you die a Warden, one way or another.
You recruit people with no future left for them if they don’t join you, people who have no other way out. Criminals, thieves, orphans, the disenfranchised… mages with a wanderlust that could be taken for a deathwish. You give them an option, a chance, because even if they die, dying in the furtherment of a greater cause is better than hanging, or starving, or the brand. Isn’t it? Aren’t they only giving up the prospect of a future that, at the moment they made the choice, didn’t exist anyway?
That’s the rationale that lets moral men sleep at night, when they must lie to, poison and kill those who are meant to become their comrades.
The Grey Wardens keep their secrets because if they did not there would be no Grey Wardens, and if there were no Grey Wardens inevitably, someday, society will collapse and the world will be overrun by implacable monsters. They are dodgy for the sake of the greater good. Isn’t that fascinating? It doesn’t make their methods any less brutal or suspect, but understanding why they do what they do is really an interesting point of Dragon Age lore, and I love them for making the world so much richer and adding so many layers of grey to the setting’s already murky morality.
Very well said.