***Dragon Age Spoilers: DAO, DA2, DAI***

Aha! So you can romance Solas. I discovered this by accident via a “recommended videos” link title on YouTube, but that’s okay. It gives me a goal. It’s also refreshing in a number of ways:

1.) It proves that for once I didn’t play the game in the most heart-wrenching way possible. This is good because honestly the ending was so clean I felt a bit…robbed. No tragedy? No loss? Come on. You hear Varric back in Haven–“You might want to consider running at the first opportunity. I’ve written enough tragedies to know where this is going.” And then, no tragedy. But, Solas! To romance Solas and then have that happen at the end? That would be tragic indeed. Also:

2.) I love that they went for the emaciated bald guy as the most painful/important* romance choice. Granted, my choices didn’t endear me to him much at all, but I’d feared that he’d been relegated to the land of friendship-at-best, like Varric, with how distant he remained throughout my first playthrough. I cheered him up a bit right at the end, so I got the cutscene where you’re dreaming yourselves into the Fade, and that was a little squeeful moment. Again, so very Doctor-y: he is the eminently capable party here, knowing vastly more than you do about the matter at hand–both the place itself, its history, and how to navigate it, how it works. And he’s granting you tiny snippets of it, not showing off per se but maintaining control of the situation in order for you to be able to enjoy/appreciate it to your fullest. Which is endearing, albeit a little embarrassing to say so. I suppose it’s just nice to think that someone would go to such trouble, with something they’ve such long familiarity with as for it to be dull for them, in order for someone else to experience it freshly and anew and full of wonder. It’s…generous.

3.) It gives me the possibility of another necessary playthrough. At the moment, my second, much more leisurely playthrough, is as a male Dalish elf with my sights set on Dorian. But, while it would at first be convenient from my standpoint for Solas to be bi, I don’t know that even if he were I could sacrifice this playthrough to him vs. Dorian, who may be the most comparable to Alistair in the constantly-joking-as-a-kind-of-defense-mechanism department. Again, though, as with Cullen, there’s that mantle of experience to him, to almost all these characters really, that is delightful to have to find the seams of and peel back. If DAO was the archetypal tale of exuberant early 20-somethings venturing off to save the world, and DA2 was with one or two exceptions pretty much the same thing, DAI is a study in what a decade does to that exuberance: whether fortunes have ridden high in the meantime, or fallen, the weight of time and how much it matters, and the question of whether  past actions taken were the right ones, is on all these characters (excepting perhaps Sera and Iron Bull? I didn’t deal with Sera much; I could be wrong), and it colors their decisions and struggles with nuances even the more important characters from earlier games lacked. (Even Fenris, older and justifiably animated chiefly by fury, was so single-minded as to be almost juvenile in his–again very justified–hate of mages and everything having to do with them. My chief goal in replaying DA2, when that ever happens, will be to roll a mage and pursue him in the hopes that forcing him to confront, rather obliquely, his inner demons will flesh him out as a character. Google appears to imply, however, that that won’t happen to my satisfaction.) All of which is to say that I may have to either somehow stomach the notion of playing through attached either to Dorian or Solas once, and then going back hours and hours and hours to a save and replaying all the way to the end attached to the other. Which, really, does not sound appealing–I dislike branching the narrative with the same character; I’d rather make a new one each time. We’ll see though. There are only so many hours in the day.

*Actually I guess Cassandra might count too, if you make her Divine and then you know you have to part ways. That would be pretty Alistair-esque. But I don’t know that I’ll ever experiment down that road because I find her difficult to stomach because–yes, yes, prepare your derisive snorts in advance–she’s too familiar. As I was telling my husband in one of my I’m-just-going-to-crash-through-the-trees-making-a-big-racket-with-all-this-honesty-because-I-ain’t-got-time-to-watch-my-step reveals, I identify with her probably more than anyone else in the game. She’s harsh and capable and driven, but not terribly good with people, clueless when strangers try to flirt or even have much fun with her, and SOL when the rug gets yanked out from under her re: longstanding beliefs. And I’m not so narcissistic as to be particularly attracted to someone whose emotional landscape so mirrors my own.

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