We started off this session with the creation of the characters (level 3 Grey Warden initiates, a dwarven rogue Lenka, dwarven warrior Roarke, and a human mage Alexandra), and we each revealed our character’s backstory to the other players. We made it clear to each other though that this was purely player information, not what the characters themselves would know.
Roark went first, detailing his history as a “miner” caste dwarf, delving into the deep roads with a band of fellows for treasures. Unfortunately, their habit of raiding lost taigs and selling the artifacts buried with their lost decendents didn’t go down too well with the noble caste, or indeed the law as it stands in Orzammar. Roark and his companions in crime were banished to the deep roads, and as their numbers fell to infighting, starvation, and the darkspawn, Roark saw the true faces of his so-called “friends”, and realised this was not the people he wished to die alongside. He set off on his own, and by chance ran into an a Grey Warden, who had come to the deep roads to complete his Calling. As the Warden explained the organisations purpose and duty, he saw his chance to escape a lonely death, and followed the wardens directions to a hidden tunnel to the surface, somewhere in Ferelden.
It is now a few months later, and Roark no longer fears falling up into the sky. He eventually found the Ferelden Wardens, and has spent some time as an initiate, though has not yet completed the Joining.
Next, Alexandra explained her origins, growing up in a Ferelden noble family. She proved to have magical talent a little later than when most discover it, and in order to avoid Templar scrutiny of the families magical linage, all efforts were made to keep her from the circle. She received tutelage from an older relative, also an apostate whom she would visit as regularly as was possible without drawing undue attention. As Alexandra grew, however, it became less easy to keep her at home – she was growing into marriageable age, and was expected to attend the regular suaries to garner interest from eligible noble sons. The excuses were becoming harder to sell, and so the family decided it was time for Alexandra to need to forge her own path. And so, a “trip to Orlais” was planned as cover, and with a few provisions, all their love, and pleas to never bring templar attention back to the family, Alexandra was sent from her family home to begin her life as an apostate.
Being sheltered as she was, and not having too much experience providing for her own needs, Alexandra was foolish with her gold at first, spending too much on too many nights in expensive inns to maintain her standard of living. As her savings dwindled, her desperation rose, and she was perhaps a little too conspicuous in one village and drew a Templar’s attention. The scene grew tense, and all hope was quickly becoming lost for Alexandra ever avoiding being dragged to the Circle before a tall stranger stepped in, a Grey Warden by the name of Duncan, who claimed Alexandra was a member of his organisation. He had sufficient clout to give the templar pause, though he did insist the two of them never return to the village. Duncan and Alexandra left together, and as he explained the Warden’s purpose, Alexandra realised it was her best option to avoid Templar scrutiny for the rest of her life. As it stands, having only been among them little more than a week, she has not yet proven herself to the other members or even to Duncan himself.
Lastly, Lenka reviled her tale. As a female among the Astyth dwarven noble family, she decided to honour her ancestor Astyth the Grey (a dwarven warrior, who first fought for women’s right to be soldiers) by joining the Silent Sisters. The sisters go through a training period, before completing the Bloodening ritual, where they cut out their own tongues (as Astyth did in protest to not being heard) and compete in a fight to the death in the Provings. Lenka has completed her Bloodening, however in her proving fight she was thought to be killed, but in fact clung to life in the typical Dwarven fashion. She woke up alone, some time later after being prepared to return to the Stone (the burial process, as is traditional for all dwarves of sufficient standing). She quickly realised her life as she knew it was over – she could not return to the sisters, the shame of surviving her defeat more dreadful than the defeat itself. Nor could she return to her family and spread the shame to them.
So she fled to the surface, leaving all who knew her to believe she had returned whole to the stone, a legend usually reserved for the most honoured of dwarves. She found her way to the Wardens, who took her in and treated her wounds, as the Wardens value dwarves highly. Many Wardens recognise the sacrifices made by the stout folk to keep the darkspawn at bay, the last line of defence against them spilling out onto the surface unchecked.
Lenka has been with the Wardens longest in the group, becoming an initiate around 5 months before, though she also has not yet completed her Joining.
Following this, the party received background on the Prologue to the campaign, the adventure “Duty Unto Death”.
The three of them were traveling with Duncan along the east side of the Imperial Highway around Lake Calenhad to the docks at the north of the lake. Duncan had an appointment at the circle tower, and the party were along partly as escort, partly to learn more about the wardens and prove themselves.
As camp was set, Duncan took the time to explain to the two dwarves present a bit on the history of the Wardens in Ferelden, touching on why some still do not treat them with respect. He touched on a bit about Ferelden’s war for independance from Orlais, something which still carries old wounds for those old enough to have seen it, and since the Ferelden chapter of the Wardens were originally from Orlais, that distrust of Orlesians carried over to the organisation itself, giving it a sullied reputation among some.
After some exasperation at the “damned history lesson”, Roarke and Duncan had a back and forth which eventually lead to Duncan expressing his admiration for the dwarven people in their daily struggles keeping the Darkspawn at bay, something which the rest of the world often takes for granted. This went down well with both Roarke and Lenka, whom both respected Duncan a little more.
Duncan then left the fire to rest, and Lenka decided to take first watch. After an uneventul few hours, she got up to wake Alexandra, whom Lenka had summarily decided should take the second watch. After an awkward interaction where Lenka tried to convey the concept of taking watch with only gestures to communicate, the message eventually got through. Though the awkwardness quickly returned when Lenka tried to ask to borrow Alexandra’s tent, (expensive, sturdy and warm, yet small enough for portability) as she had none of her own, only a bedroll by the fire. Alexandra gave no sign she understood the request, so Lenka resigned herself to sleeping by the fire near a snoring Roarke.
Alexandra’s period of watch also passed uneventfully, so she went to wake Roarke. After his initial surliness from being awoken, he asked Alexandra if she knew anything about why Lenka didn’t speak. When she expressed interest in knowing as such, anticipating some information on the subject from Roarke, he only said that she should ask Lenka about it sometime, and uttered a slow, rumbling chuckle.
On the morn, as the camp was being packed up, Duncan informed the trio that he had received some news in the night. He needs to continue on to the circle tower, and tells the trio they need to travel to the village of Greenthorn, in the frostback mountains in a valley between the imperial highway and Orzammar. There, they are to meet an Orlesian warden named Aldric LaPointe. He and his party will be waiting at an inn named The Queens Boot.
Once they’ve met Aldric and his party, they are to escort them back to the Lake Calenhad Docks to meet Duncan, where the entire party are to travel on Denerim. He stresses the need for secrecy, the locals won’t look kindly on a party of Orlesians entering Ferelden.
The session ended as the party prepared to set out for Greenthorn.