Fandom and Cullen-as-the-Abuser

In looking for a walkthrough on how not to get cooked in Therinfall I ran across some of the usual Templar/Cullen hate. I was a mage last time and kept using the shield to get through Therinfall. I’m a rogue this time around and I’m doing something wrong because … SPLAT!) Anyway, I never ran into discussions about Cullen asking Leliana about Amell/Surana. I’ve only loaded one Leliana romance, and that was with a city elf from Origins. I haven’t seen this personally but I plan on trying it next time I set up the Keep to hear it for myself. Some people say it’s creepy some people say it’s cute.

Supposedly this is from his creator on the subject.

I can’t objectively see Cullen as a rapist except in the crazy-Cullen-end-slide-murderer of Origins. I’ve listened to all of the banter in the Circle for DAO and how some of the templars watch the mages bathe. That’s very creepy, hell yes. I never got the impression Kinloch Hold was as bad Kirkwall, however.

So fans like to knock around the angle that Cullen was her jailer. Okay, I’ll go for that because sure, he basically was like a prison warden from a certain point of view. That’s how the templar/Circle system worked. I’m not saying it was a good system. There were also mages who were content there (and please don’t fall back on “Stockholm syndrome.” You meet a number of them from different Circles along with Viv and others who were fine in a Circle for various reasons. It’s not all Stockholm syndrome.) If he would have actually done something problematical, I’d give this more credence. He didn’t make a grab for her. He didn’t get into her personal space. He didn’t threaten her verbally or physically. He didn’t bully her. He doesn’t even speak to her unless you initiate the conversation. Everything which happens in that conversation is something she initiates. She may not 100% like what she hears, but she’s the one who asks.

Of course, I don’t know if that comment is taken out of context or what the rest of it pertained to. That is the name of Cullen’s writer so I’ll assume these are her words. However, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Gaider’s words clipped and taken out of context. It’s beyond counting at this point.  The devs can say stupid things and enflaming things but they also get their words mangled. Such is the nature of the internet.

The fact it’s dated 2010 makes me very suspicious. Inquisition came out in 2014 and DA2 was released in 2011. These words were shared before DA2 existed. That leaves me with the Cullen who went insane and murdered mages in the ending slide of Origins if you pick mages for your end game allies. Basically was some nobody quest giver who hadn’t been developed more than a paragraph and went dark. His “good” ending slide made him the Knight-Commander of Kinloch Hold who ruled it vindictively with an iron fist.

If the quote pertained to crazy-killer-end-slide-Cullen after Origins, it makes more sense. Otherwise, I just didn’t see it. You can offer to bang Cullen as an Amell/Surana and he literally runs away. That doesn’t seem like the aggressive rapist behavior described in that quote. He’s bumbling, bashful and I took away that it was exactly what it was described as in Inquisition – a stupid and childish crush. He reminded me a lot of Alistair until torture turned him into something darker, hateful and traumatized. We saw more of that in DA2 where he says “mages aren’t people” … to a party of mages if Hawke is a mage and traveling with Anders and Merrill. NPCs and Questgivers aren’t always too bright.

Then there’s the Harrowing. They blame him for being willing to kill the failed initiates. Okay, here’s a question. Let’s say you’ve failed. That’s when the templars drop the ax. So you’re a mage and you flunked the test – now there’s a demon in your body. You’re no longer you. There’s a thing using your skin, bones, voice and eyes like a meat puppet. It will devour your memories like fine dining and rip you apart from the inside like Sophia Dryden. You don’t even have to be living at the end of it and it will use your corpse for it’s own whims. And… people are upset because a templar (ANY templar) ends this? I don’t get the problem with that part, personally. The part I have a problem with is the test itself and putting the mage in that position but that’s got nothing to do with Cullen. At that point we’re talking about the system. This is the same system which made Cullen know that a relationship with a mage was inappropriate. He mentions it in both Origins and Inquisition. That didn’t stop mage/templar lovers from happening (as seen in places through novels and all the games) but it wasn’t something which was supposed to. Still not seeing the whole violent rapey act to get it out of his system part…?

I’ve romanced Cullen with a mage. I didn’t find the dynamic “creepy” at all. My Inquisitor was a grown, mature woman who would hand him his ass if he tried to do anything to hurt her. He might have templar abilities but in general A.) Not a good idea to be involved romantically with someone you can’t trust. In real life if s/he is abusive you need to get out of there before it gets serious. There’s too many people in too many bad situations who haven’t. B.) This is a fantasy game and you’re the Inquisitor. You kill dragons – which are an apex predator. You come up to its knee. I can’t even begin to explain how that works, but you can take down up to 13 of them counting DLCs and the horcrux. If you play the DLCs you’re a slayer of a god. She can handle Cullen. If he gets out of line he’s going to regret it. He obviously doesn’t.

I don’t mind that people hate Cullen. For one, he’s fictional. He’s also not sterling and definitely has his dark spots over 3 games. I don’t give him a free pass because he grew as a character and worked toward redemption. He did shitty things. Do I like him? Sure, but he still did shitty things. Anders murdered a lot of people and still has fans. Most of the Bioware characters are problematical. Thedas is a rough world.

What I’m baffled by is things like the outrage that he would have beheaded an abomination that used to be a mage or that he yelled at the Warden after being tortured. The man had his mind ripped apart and suffered every bit as much abuse as the mages at that point. Had he been calm and everything was okay it wouldn’t have been realistic. He later states that he deeply regrets what he said if you talk to him in DAI. Pining creepily for her? Oh please. He’s an adult now. Most adults don’t moon over a crush they had around High School/early college age when they’re in their 30′s. They might still regret being venomously hateful to someone who rescued their sorry butt, though.

What’s Cooking, Cullen?

When you hit the capture key at just the right (or wrong) moment…

Cullen looks like he just smelled something cooking in the Skyhold kitchen and is about to follow his nose to locate what it is.

Cassandra Pentaghast Thief of Harts

I enjoy “Screen Archery.” For those who aren’t familiar with that term, it means using the DAI Flycam to take (hopefully) artistic or useful (to show mods) shots from inside the game. They wouldn’t normally be possible without it.

Here’s Cassandra, thief of harts.

 

The Agony of Free Roaming Followers

Cassandra has now found us a dragon.

Thank you, Team Inquisitor.

You have managed to draw in 7 giants, 13 Brontos (who didn’t bother anyone until you poked them in the butts), innumerably Rams (who were minding their own business), 8 Lyrium corrupted Things, 1 dragon, and the Maker’s Frilly Knickers.

I can see why it’s called the Emerald Graves.

The Voices in my Head – Where It All Began

 

  • Me: Audrie, what have you done?
  • Audrie: [Looks innocent.]
  • Me: Oh. No.
  • Audrie: I wanted to be in Inquisition so I kind of bribed Varric. He’s the one telling the story and….
  • Me: ……. Audrie Logan Cousland Amell Tabris! WHERE DID YOU GET THAT?!
  • Bob the Skull: It wasn’t that difficult. I could either molder on that dusty shelf waiting for Harry to ask me something or I could get out and see the sights. What a babe that blond is, too! How far do her spots go down, do you think?
  • Me: Okay. [Takes a deep breath] Audrie. I have never written even so much as one word of fan fiction for the Dresden Files. HOW did you get hold of Bob?
  • Audrie: Hey you listened to all those audio books and hear his voice in your mind enough. You really liked his T-Rex. It wasn’t that hard, and Bob needed to get out more often. Besides, Mouse was so cool! I had to pet the pooch.
  • Me: I don’t believe this.
  • Audrie: Oh come on, Mouse is adorable!
  • Me: ….
  • Varric: [to Bob] So what’s this about a Never Never and … what’s a car? You say the wizards there have their own, self governing council? This is going to be some story!
  • Me: [grinds teeth] Give Harry Dresden his Air Spirit-in-a-skull back you two.
  • Audrie: We just borrowed him. Harry can use some down time with all the stuff he’s doing over there. And I thought living in the World of Darkness was bad. Sheesh.
  • Me: I can’t believe you took Bob! What if Harry comes looking for him?! I’m NOT going to start writing fan fiction for this!
  • Audrie: We can teach each other magic. I really like the idea of his force rings, and I bet I’ve got a bigger staff. He could do some good, and I’d love to meet that Native American guy. The way he shapeshifted against the Skinwalker? Amazing. Beats my bear any day.
  • Me: [wearily] And what about poor Alistair?
  • Audrie: Simple. Marrke died slaying the Archdemon. Alistair became the Warden Commander and took over. He’s with Serafina and happy. Too bad the Keep wouldn’t let me put Reginald on the throne like your AU.
  • Me: I’m going to kill you. I’m going to kill you in Inquisition. You are going to go flying off the sides of cliffs. I’m going to get you so lost you can’t FIND Cullen!
  • Audrie: [Smug grin] But I’m going to get to be an Inquisitor so I can see him again, aren’t I?
  • Me: ………
  • Me: ………
  • Me: Fine. But I swear I’m going to let Batman be the next Inquisitor.
  • Batman: I don’t work days.

This isn’t going to make much sense to anyone who isn’t familiar with Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. They’re enjoyable books. Some are better than others in the series, but I recommend them for anyone who enjoys a good story, some humor, monsters like vampires, werewolves, etc. and urban fantasy.

 

Meeting Blackwall

  • Inquisitor Audrie: Papa bear! My best friend!
  • Inquisitor Alpha: Hunny Bear! My love interest!
  • Blackwall: “…..”
  • Cullen: (Look of understanding pity on his face and claps Blackwall on the shoulder.) “At last it isn’t ‘Lionmuffin’ or ‘Lionlips Hotbuns.'”
  • Blackwall: (Slightly green) “You’re joking?”
  • Cullen: “Unfortunately not.”

Wicked Grace

I think my favorite part of Dragon Age: Inquisition isn’t the amazing finale battle, or the introduction, or even the romance scenes.  I love all of those a lot!  I unapologetically play for the story not the game tactics or battles. I want those because they’re fun, too, but it’s not why I play Dragon Age. There’s better games out there for pure bloody bliss of busting the brains of your enemies.

Yet, if I had to pick a single favorite part of Dragon Age Inquisition, it would be the Wicked Grace game. I look forward to it each playthrough.

I really do love 95% of all the Bioware characters.  Across three games there’s only 3 or 4 who I absolutely can’t stand.  I don’t even dump Rendon Howe or the abusing bastard Vaghne from the City Elf origin story in there because they’re pure evil.  I worry a little bit about people who think they’re sexy.

Spoilers ahead.

The Wicked Grace scene brings nearly all of them together.  It’s a moment that makes them seem more like real people.  I drug Blackwall, Bull, and Cassandra everywhere I went my first playthrough because I needed 3 tanks to get through the harder parts.  It’s my playing style and learning the ropes – tanks and a mage Inquisitor.  I like all the classes but a mage was the first one I got through Origins so they’re my usual go-to for a first character. Probably foolishly considering busting chops with a big weapon should be easier.

I didn’t get as much chance as I’d have liked to interact and hear the ambient chats with the others, and never took Dorian, Solas, or Viv anywhere.  This wasn’t because I didn’t like them, but … tanks.  I was playing the mage.  This time I’m playing a blades rogue. The party has been Solas, Sera, and one tank for the sake of mixing them up.

The way they interact with the Inquisitor at the Wicked Grace table is fun, but so is the way they interact with each other.  It warms my heart to see the more serious characters like Cassandra, Blackwall, and Cullen genuinely laugh.  After what Bull goes through with either losing his entire people/culture or all his friends, it’s good to see him having a good time, too.  The same for Varric because in my playthrough he lost Hawke.

Then we have the humor aspects as Cullen, the chess fiend, stripped of armor and dignity. He has to race off to the good humor of numerous friends.

Josaphine is adorable with her opening bid, Cole is heartwarming, and I love Cassandra’s mild frustration trying to figure out what hand is decent at the beginning.  Of course Sera’s unforgettable last line definitely gets me to laugh every time.

All in all, I just have to say that I love the scene.  I wish it could have had everyone – Leliana, Solas, and Viv included.  I’d have really liked to have seen them interact with the group, too. From Blackwall’s comments we know Solas plays cards, but he wasn’t included in the scene.  Possibly because it was originally based on something.

shwarmashwarma2

Well done, Bioware.  Well done.

 

Almost Beaten by a Barrier

My bad ass buff mage Inquisitor who has all the best gear and is at level 17 almost got beaten by a magical barrier in the Exalted Plains. I pummeled with with the best ice staff gold can buy in the Black Emporium. I swapped for a stave of immense fire power (nicknamed Boomstick). I zapped it with shocking ferocity.

Due to my Trials setting, it had a barrier. The barrier had a barrier.

I couldn’t punch through. What sorcery IS THIS?!?

I had to establish another camp then grab Dorian and Solas for my party. Between the 3 of us we burned, zapped and froze that evil barrier.

It didn’t know what hit it.

Good riddance evil barrier.

To the lunatics (in the best of ways) who follow me…

This blog is going to be “spammed” quite a bit early on. There will be numerous posts daily. They’ll be all over the place with funny stuff, pictures, rants and a little bit of meta.

I started this blog for two reasons. One was to preserve the fun/good memories I had from way back when I did some mild live-blogging on Tumblr. My Dragon Age posts have been buried under all the art, animals, pop culture, puns and whatever else I find interesting that second.

The other is to park some of my rants. Next time someone gasps and starts yelling “OMG HOW COULD YOU ______” I’ll send a link and that’s the end of it. I don’t mind if people disagree, but I get tired of explaining the same thing over and over.

Most of what’s on here will be positive and light hearted. I don’t take the games overly seriously and have fun with them. There’s a lot of breaking of the 4th wall.

Posts will slow down dramatically once I catch up with my old material. I still play and still have thoughts about the games. I’ll keep posting because I’m always running across new stuff or having new ideas when revisiting Origins. There will be posts here and there but not the deluge of these early days.

Enjoy your stay. I’m flattered you find all these ramblings worth your time.