Last night and a couple of nights ago I was working on a piece of my Dragon Age fanfic saga. There is this character that is so phenomenal that I am having difficulty writing him. He is both loved and loathed, which in my opinion makes for a great character.
One of the things about Dragon Age is its use of archtypes and how they work both the good and the bad.
He is both villain and hero. Friend and foe. Sort of. I know that is clear as mud.
When you first met Anders in Dragon Age 2, if you played the game as a mage you are supposed to know him or at least of him. As time goes on you can see behind that sarcastic exterior is a man grappling with issues and wanting to do the right thing. He has been mistreated by the clergy of the game. Stolen from a loving home, family and town (he was beloved) when he was six for a sin committed thousands of years prior. By mages from another country. Because he is a mage he torn away from everything and everyone he knew. And thrown into a tower where they have to ask permission to do anything. Guarded by a group of people who reveal in their power over them. He becomes friends with another mage at the tower and this too is taken from him.
He runs for the first time to try and find his friend. Here is where things continue down hill for Anders. They found him not very far from the tower and dragged him back. He would escape six more times. Always treated as a criminal and dragged back to the tower. The final time where he would be branded a Malifcar and made tranquil.
What is tranquil you ask… it is where they go in and strip you of everything you are. Think of the silent vegetable like person in a mental intuition. Which some Templars (religious soldiers) felt was the best option for all the ‘magic users’ Fast forward to you the character and him meeting up at the beginning of the game. His first sentence reminds you of the torment he has faced. When he talks about how picky he was not wanting to be kicked in the head in the morning to wake up.
You can conscript him in to your order. He agrees but his motive is to stay away from the tower and kill the horrible monsters ravaging the land. As you continue the play through his sarcasm hides the pain but he really is a true and loyal friend… and the friendship grows. Until he loyally defends the keep even if you are not there to aid him.
Now fast forward another six years. (into the next game) and you find that through his compassionate nature he allowed himself to become a vessel for another friend. And together they have become a new person. His friend was a concept. He was the spirit of Justice. (I will do another post on Justice later)
This is where the DA community begin to hate the character but I think this is where the character becomes a true person to me. Some people feel that Anders corrupted Justice to become Vengeance. I myself don’t think it is that black and white. I think justice without compassion, understanding and leniency is nothing more than vengeance. And here I think that as a concept having no other emotions Justice (the spirt) has no balance.
Why would justice (as a principal) need balance? That is the same question Jean Val Jean asks in Le Mis. Did he really need to be sentenced that long for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister and her child. Purest would say absolutely, stealing is stealing no matter the reason.
So if you were to say blow up a building could you see yourself forgiving him. We all know murder is bad. But what if like Jean he felt this was his only option. We all know war is messy. What if non violent protesting did nothing but make you dead.
The religious faction has brainwashed the mainstream public into believing that you must be controlled by any means. And any talk of doing things different gets you killed or made tranquil. How would you fight back?