The main storyline begins with the King himself meeting and greeting your party as you enter the stronghold. While this is basically the same for each background, there will be minor variations depending upon which you are playing. For instance for the Human Noble Origin you will tell the King about the betrayal and he will vow to take revenge after the upcoming battle, whereas with the other Origins you will simply be greeted and then receive the same instructions from Duncan.
Play through the dialogue in a manner which fits the personality and alignment of your character, and then after Duncan leaves you, continue on. There are a few small quests for you to undertake prior to beginning the path to the ritual that will make you a Grey Warden - so let us do those now!
Note: You will have the opportunity to collect some resources and to sell off the loot you have collected up to this point - and it is a good idea to do that - but as for purchasing new gear from the Quartermaster, I would hold off on doing that for now. Money in your pouch is worth more than a few points or stats at this early stage - but I am getting ahead of the story now, so just bare that in mind and continue on with the story and the small quests to come!
The Ostagar Quests
First head back through the arch towards where you entered and gather the Elfroot that is growing near the trees, and then head out on to the balcony and check out the view - stunning!
Now back through the arch and over the bridge to the main camp area. If you bear right after crossing the bridge you will pass the mage encampment - you will not be permitted to enter there, as the mages are in training, but nearby you will find Wynne, a mage summoned by the King. A brief chat with her gives you some more backstory, and then you will learn about The Fade.
Now continue past her and across the path to the Quartermaster - you can sell him the stuff you have that you do not need - though I would hold on to some of the better gear - the special shield and any choice pieces of armor and weapons you have - because you can use them to equip party members you will be obtaining later.
If you chose Herbalism Skill now would be the time to purchase a supply of flasks - actually even if you did not choose it, now would be a good time to do that anyway, since you will eventually have a party member who can make you health potions, and let me tell you, being able to make them will come in handy later!
As you exit the Quartermaster camp you will encounter Daveth, another of the Grey Warden Candidates. Go ahead and have a chat with him now - you can learn a bit about the ritual and what is coming from him. After you chat with him, he tells you he is heading back to Duncan - which is fine since you needed to tell the candidates to do that anyway.
As you head up the nearby ramp and around the bend you will encounter a prisoner in a cage - this is your first quest. After you talk to the prisoner you learn that he has not received food or water since being put in the cage. You can talk to the guard and try to persuade him but if your coercion skills are not high that will fail. You should have the 10 silver it will take to bribe him, however, and that will get you the food for the prisoner.
After you bribe the guard, talk to the prisoner again and give him the food. You will receive a blessing of sorts from him - nice touch but there is no real value to it, but nearby is a priestess who can give you The Maker's Blessing - I did that because I am a good Catholic boy and I know that it never hurts, especially when you are facing danger :)
If you did not get the books in the Chapel back in the castle, one of them is on a bench here, so you can get it now. If you did, it will not be glowing because you already have it.,
Hear those dogs? Run past the nurse and the wounded soldiers, then down and around to the left and you will see some Ash Warriors - you can talk to their leader to learn about them - go ahead and do that now.
The Kennel Quest
Nearby the Ash Warrior is the Dog Kennels - look for the fence and gates - and at the kennels is the Kennel Master - go over and talk to him for your next quest - he will ask you to keep an eye out for a special flower when you go into the wilds.
Once you return from the mission for Duncan - take that flower to the Kennel Master to complete this quest.
Seek out Alistair
It is now time to seek out Alistair - and when you find him by following the white arrow on the screen you will witness an amusing CS. You can ask him a few questions - and you probably should - and then you can agree that it is time to see Duncan - and get the Quest update.
You should get your next level here - so go ahead and upgrade your attributes as you like, and pick two new skills.
If you head to the right on your way back near the priestess you will find the Knight, Jory, who is the third recruit. Talk to him for a bit to get him headed back to Duncan, and then head back yourself.
After a brief CS in which Alistair gets his peepee slapped by Duncan for being rude and causing trouble, Duncan outlines your tasks. It is pretty simple really... You need to go into the WIlds and kill darkspawn until you obtain three vials of their blood, and then you need to search for an abandoned Grey Warden archive and recover some scrolls that were left there.
While Alistair is in charge of your group, you do most of the leading on this mission - so head for the gates now, and enter the Wilds!
As you enter the wilds you will be attacked by a pack of wolves - after you kill them be sure to loot their pelts - you can sell those later. Nearby in the marsh you will find the body of Missionary Jogby, who is carrying a letter. Be sure to grab that to start the Quest Missionary Jogby.
A bit further in you will find a wounded soldier - who you can patch up so that he can get back to the base to report. At this point Ser Jory starts freaking out - you can reassure him or mock him, it is your call. As you explore keep an eye out for plants - you will want to get any that you encounter including the special one that the Kennel Master needs.
The next large group you encounter will get you the third bottle of blood - and you should see the body of Missionary Rigby nearby - loot him to get a quest of the same name as you take his Last Will from his very dead body.
The Missionary Quest
On the corpse of Missionary Jogby you found a letter that details a path through the Wilds that leads to the rendezvous location mentioned in the letter. Read the letter for the details of the path of the following landmarks:
1. Look for a tree leaning on a ruined building
2. Pass under the fallen tree "bridge"
3. Pass a submerged tower on the right
4. Look between a high, ruined arch and a mossy standing stone.
5. Walk along a path of roots and stones
6. Look for two large statues with a chest between them.
On your way to the Chasind camp you will pass an aqueduct that is largely intact that crosses over the water - and beside it is a path of stones and roots - cross that path and you will be attacked by a pack of wolves. After you kill them continue on and you will spot the two large statues on the right as you exit this path. There is a chest in between them - it contains a Chasind Flatblade, some Slintmail armor, and A Letter.
The Letter is titled "Farewell Letter to Jogby" and it communicates a father's last thoughts to his son on his failure to bring the Word of the Maker to the Chasind. You should read this, and the other Codex notes that are quest-related mate, it really adds to the story!
Last Will and Testament Quest
On a body you find in the central area of the Wilds is a last will and testament. Seek out the cache mentioned in the will and then take it to Jetta in the town of Redcliffe.
When you reach the camp in the West by the ruins of an aqueduct and you discover the Chasind Codex Entry, you are in the right place. Examine the fire pit here to find the locked box that you need to take to Redcliffe.
Chasind Trail Sign Quest
You will find targetable spots in the Wilds that are labeled "Chasind Trail Sign" that you should click on - and follow from sign to sign. When you reveal each area of map the signs will appear as small x's to make finding them easier for you to locate.
Follow the signs from one to the next until you reveal the spot marked "Chasind Cache (Chasind Trail Sign)" on your map.
Notes: You will be attacked by a group of warriors as you enter the camp. The cache is located in a fallen tree trunk. If you did not find the other flower that the Kennel Master is looking for, there is a second one here in the rear of the camp.
Back on the Trail
You have now completed or updated all of the quest activity for this zone save for the main story line quest we are presently doing. It is time to head towards the arrow on the radar map!
As you work your way through the Wilds you will have several fights before you end up arriving at the tower ruins, where you will fight a fairly large band of darkspawn. Be sure that you loot their bodies prior to entering the ruins, as once you enter you are on a rail-section of the quest and returning here is inconvenient to the story.
Inside the tower ruins is a broken chest labeled "Warden's Cache" that you can click on - and doing so causes the CS with the illegal mage Morrigan, who accuses you of trespassing. This is a fairly lengthy CS that is followed by a conversation with Morrigan. You may want to be polite as she will eventually be joining your party :) though I do not know if being polite or rude here actually has any impact on her initial admiration of you...
She reveals that she has been observing your progress through the Wilds - shiver - and makes a good job of posturing and playing on your party member's fears, but there really is no reason not to be polite to her - unless you are rude by nature of course.
The Witch of the Wilds
Once you ask that she take you to her mother the scene shifts, and you meet the legendary Witch of the Wilds - but you don't know that yet...
As you listen you learn that stories are often exaggerated - or maybe not - who can say? Must be your lucky day though, because the Witch actually wants to help you! Maybe she fears the darkness more than she dislikes you - but either way she gives you the Treaties that you were looking for, and tells you that she has been protecting them since the seals wore off the chest that guarded them.
Personally I prefer to be polite in situations like this - but you use your best judgment mate - it really will not matter because mom has her daughter escort you safely out of the woods - and after the load screen you are - tah dah! Back at the base!
The Ritual Ceremony
First go see the Kennel Master and give him the flower - whether you take the reward or not is up to you (and the personality of your character) but you still get the XP for completing the quest, so it is all good!
Now head on over to the fire and talk to Duncan - you might want to mention Morrigan and her mother as Duncan would be interested in them - and then on with the ceremony! I was not expecting the Knight to go all, well, weasel on us, but I did expect that someone had to die, and I was not disappointed!
"At last we come to the Joining," Duncan says, and then explains what you have to do. Oh my!
The thing is I rather liked Daveth, and while I will not miss Jay, I would have liked that Rogue to be a part of my party still. Interesting the way that Duncan executed the coward though, with an apology, but really he knew too much to let him live, right?
Of course we do not die - we just have a really bad trip - and then tah dah! We are Grey Wardens! Woohoo!
You are revived and Duncan instructs you on what is next - attending the meeting. At this point you should have hit your next level - so go ahead and apply the points and pick your skills - and be sure to check your dog too because he should have leveled and you will need to either click the auto-apply button or apply his points and choose his skill upgrade as well.
Now that you have taken care of that minor chore, go ahead and make the meeting. You will watch as the King and his advisor Loghain argue - and if you are thinking that something is not right here, well...
Pay attention because this is about to get very interesting. Loghain makes comments that clearly indicate that he has little but contempt for the King - not an attitude one would expect, even from a Noble secure in his position in the realm.
As a minor diversion and to rebuff Loghain, the King addresses you, offering you his congratulations on your becoming a Grey Warden - which you politely thank him for. Mr. Sunshine Attitude once again runs his mouth, and then he and the King reveal the plan to you.
The King explains what his men will be doing, Loghain points out what HIS man are supposed to do, and then the King selects you and Alistair to handle the whole lighting of the signal fire to signal Loghain's men chore - notice how Loghain does not like that? Hmm.
Duncan cautions the King about the possible presence of the Arch Demon, Loghain's Mage objects to your assignment and finally, the confrontation ends with Duncan giving you your final instructions. Alistair is not happy - but I doubt that is a reflection on you, so much as his bruised ego at not being allowed to march into battle at Duncan's side.
Duncan gives you detailed instructions - and away you go!
Note: If you have not already done so, now is a good time to save.
The Tower Quest
Go ahead and run for the tower - through the gateway you originally entered the base by - and pause for a cinematic CS in which you see Duncan and the King ready to fight. Here come the darkies and boy do they look fearsome! But hey, it is all good, because you have Loghain backing your play, right? Right?
As the battle ensues you are back in control of yourself - now make your run for the tower - and if you did not make potions to replace the ones you used earlier, do that if you can!
Woops! As you reach the ramp to the tower you meet with some guards who inform you that the tower has been taken by darkspawn, and pretty much everyone is dead! As you make your way up towards the tower there will be groups of darkspawn for you to battle - and after each battle you should be sure that you loot their corpses - and loot any plants or chests that you come across as well.
If you find more Elfroot - and assuming that you stocked a supply of flasks and you have the Herbalism skill - you should always try to replace the health potions that you have used up.
There will be a few minor fights on the way to the tower doors, and of course once you are inside there are some more frantic fights - just keep on eye on everyone's health and switch to them and apply a potion when you see them getting low.
You will be working your way through three levels to the fourth - the Top Level - where you will confront a nasty Ogre (Boss Mob), and along the way there will be many opportunities to loot items and money. A lot of this stuff will be useful later, so you should try to remember to loot! That is the last time I will emphasize that strongly - if you have not figured out that you need to be looting at this point, well...
As you light the signal fire you are treated to a CS in which Loghain retreats like a coward, refusing to send his troops in, and the darkspawn cut down the King and his forces like a scythe harvesting ripe barley. Duncan himself must take on the Ogre that slayed the King - and he does - but at what cost?
The Ogre is dead - the King is dead - and now so is Duncan. Oh man!
Just when you think things could not get any worse, darkspawn appear out of nowhere in the tower and you are taken down by a well-aimed shot. The world goes dark - is this death? Nope!
Rescued by the Witch of the Wilds
You awaken in the Witch's hut to find Morrigan standing over you. She tells you that her mother rescued you from the top of the tower by turning into a giant bird and grabbing you and Alistair in her talons. Believe that or do not, but now is the time to talk to Morrigan and get as much information as you can from her.
A note about the dialogue options - talking with the characters that you meet is one of the best ways to develop a basic relationship with them - and for characters like Morrigan, who will be joining your party, you should always take advantage of the opportunities to chat. You want them to like you, because it helps in certain parts of the game later - and of course if they happen to be either of the opposite sex or so inclined to the same sex, there are some Achievements / Trophies that you can earn for romancing them. Add to that the fact that often the information you obtain can grant new Codex entries or provide you with details that strengthen the story line for you, and it is easy to see why it is a good idea anyway.
Once you have had your chat with Morrigan loot the gloves from the crate near the bed and then exit the hut to speak with Flemeth - who more or less admits that she is indeed the Witch of the Wilds from the old legend. Take this opportunity to chat with her - she has some useful background on the Arch Demon, and indirectly she helps Alistair figure out what you need to do next.
Flemeth tells Morrigan that you will be leaving shortly - and that Morrigan would be leaving with you when you depart - and Morrigan is not happy to hear this. Clearly she sees it as something of a betrayal by her mother - but then again, she does not think much of her mother anyway from the things she has said in the past. Still, an ally is an ally, and we can use the help!
Morrigan suggests that we visit the village North of the Wilds as our starting point - and that sounds like a good idea to me, but first we should give Morrigan a chance to speak her mind, right? Her sarcasm aside, I suspect that we will be glad that we accepted Morrigan into our party.
Into The Wilds
As you leave Flemeth's hut you are once again in the Wilds - but this is the same area that we were in before when we were preparing for the Ritual, so there should be no confusion as to the lay of the land, right? Directly ahead (look for the torches) there is a zone point marked World Map - this is what we want - and as you approach it you are asked if you want to gather your party to leave, the answer to that being Yes!
The village of Lothering is the only choice that we can make on the map right now, so go ahead and choose that, so that we can begin our journey through the Wilds to Lothering!
Before we arrive at Lothering, we are treated to a CS of Loghain Mac Tir adressing a crowd - and a noble steps forward from the crowd and questions the events that the traitor is describing. Loghain has usurped power, declaring himself the guardian of the Queen, but clearly he has plans of his own on the question of who is actually in charge!
It may help in understanding Loghain to read his Codex entry now - the man was not born a member of the nobility - in fact he was a commoner - and that explains the brash relations that he has with the nobility and his contempt for them. He is something of a self-made man, and certainly he has a very large ego. He is not a stupid man, but perhaps he is partly blinded by his ambition, and he has already demonstrated a willingness to betray even his closest associates to attain his own goals.
After the CS with Loghain you are treated to a CS of a group of darkspawn who are blocking your path to Lothering - and a fight ensues!
- OPTIONAL EVENT -
If you are playing the Human Noble Warrior origin line, you already have your own pet Mabari warhound - but if you are playing one of the other origins, this is where you acquire your pet dog and where he joins your party!
After assisting you in the fight with the darkspawn, the dog happily approaches you, and Alastair comments a little about the breed of dog and why he seems attached to you. You are given the chance to name him now - I called mine Clavin after my real life pet dog, who is a Pitbull in a Dachshund suit - but you can leave his name as just "Dog" if you like.
If you check the Codex entry for your new pet, you will learn that he is the mabari that you helped the Kennel Master cure back in Ostagar! He has sought you out and clearly as far as he is concerned, you are now his new master!
Check your pack - you should have some Double-Baked Mabari Crunch in the Useable Items section - that is a treat for your dog, and while you cannot give it to him now, remember it is there for later :)
Turn around and move back to the boulders behind you and loot the deathroot before you continue on, and do you see that elfroot plant ahead on the left? Loot that too, and then continue to the end of the road where you are once again presented with the World Map selection. This time though, you simply continue your journey rather than select a destination.
When you arrive outside of Lothering you are confronted by a group of bandits who have set themselves up as unofficial toll collectors on the road leading into the village. As you approach, their leader makes it clear that they expect to either collect a toll or outright rob you - he does not care which.
You have the option of trying to solve this via conversation, or a more direct approach - through killing them. You will probably end up killing them anyway, but go ahead and explore some of the chat options because some of the responses you get are rather funny - especially when his less than bright cohort provides the responses.
Whether you decide to kill them outright or do the right thing and turn them over to the Templar Knights the confrontation still results in a battle to the death as far as I could tell, so you may as well enjoy it - and besides some of the items that you loot from their corpses trigger small quests - so make sure that you read the quest entries in the Codex once you are finished looting them.
Head down the stairs nearby to get a CS in which Morrigan gives Alistair a hard time, and then he brings up the subject of what the plan is and where you intend to go. Clearly Alistair has some thoughts on the matter, so go ahead and hear him out.
First he covers the treaties - the Elves, the Dwarves and the Arl Eamon - and suggests that Arl Eamon may be a good first destination. Getting in touch with the other Grey Wardens is not really an option, and Morrigan thinks you should ignore the rest of the options and go after Loghain straight away!
Finally you conclude that you need to find these people from the treaties, and Alistair offers to give you directions - which you should go ahead and let him do because it adds markers to the map for you.
Arl Eamon will be at Castle Redcliffe to the far West.
The Dalish Elves will be to the East towards the Brecillian Forest.
The Dwarves to the West in Orzammer near the Frostback Mountains.
The Circle of Magi will be in their tower in Lake Calenhad to the North.
Loghain will be at the Palace in Denerim.
For now though, let us head to the nearby village - but first have a look around outside the village for some lootable items including elfroot, deathroot, and items.