Saturday, January 22, 2011

DA:O - Confusing Cold Killers

All I was trying to do was walk through you're friggin' temple!

*This post may contain spoilers ...
depending on what your definition of "spoiler" is.*

Perra fought their way through the Ruined Temple tonight. As they steadily progressed through waves of blood thirsty cultists a couple of things came to mind. No matter how many times I've played through this dungeon, there are always a few things that make me scratch my head a bit. Today in lieu of posting a play-by-play I shall discuss these issues below.

Interior Snow - Ice one expects. Old stone structures are famous for moisture collection. Centuries of dampness + very cold temperatures = ice. Snow, however, I'm not certain I can get behind. Where does the snow come from? The Ruined Temple's roof is largely intact and holes in the walls are at a minimum. Nonetheless, its entry, side corridors, and living quarters are all but buried under piles of snow. More puzzling is the fact that the temple's Main Hall is all but devoid of the substance. It is here, the Main Hall, that there are trees and roots growing through the walls, leaving gaping hole to the outside world in their wake. Why are these rooms not covered in snow while the entry hall (which is preceded by a snow/mud room or sorts) and its adjoining hallways are buried in it?

Random Beasts & Missing Loot - Why does the bronto you fight in the lower levels not drop any loot? There is a bear in the Brecilian that does the same thing, only that one is "protecting" a corpse with loot so I figure it's a trade off. Elsewhere in the game slain brontos and other large animals generally drop loot of some sort, yet this one is the exception. He is not protecting anything of rare value nor is he accompanied by individuals who drop significant loot. If there is no real reward for killing the bronto then why have him there at all? Even more to the point, how the heck did the cultists maneuver this bulky, aggressive animal through the temple's small hallways and keep it from ruining their other possessions? They have no special cave for it, no special room designated for it, and no special containment plan in place for it. What the heck is this beast doing there? Why does it live with them? Is it their twisted version of a pet? It just seems so out of place. I'm so confused.

Refusal to Bury - Why is it that the cultists never, ever, bury the intruders they kill. "Weylon" left the corpse of his name sake to rot in the back of Genitivi's house. I'm pretty sure the thing was covered in cobwebs, and the body had been there so long that it was virtually unidentifiable. Can you image the smell? One quest you can accept at the Gnawed Noble leads to our hero dumping body bags down the Chantry well. If the underworld can dispose bodies there without anyone noticing them why can't the cultists? How on earth did "Weylon" explain away the horrid smell of putrid flesh when the rest of Genitivi's house was all but spotless? Plus, of all the cultists we meet along the way to find the Urn, "Weylon" is the only one who actually attempts to hide the fact that he's a murdering bastard. Are you telling me that he can find a way to morph his body into that of another human being, but can' take the time to throw away the evidence of his kill?

When it comes to the Village of Haven everyone appears more than a little off. As a result the shopkeeper's strange actions are really not all that strange - nor is the fact that a Redcliffe knight is rotting away in his backroom. Since the village scares away their few visitors and collectively kills everyone else, this random dead body isn't much of a shocker. I mean it's not like the shopkeep will be censured for his actions or has anything to hide. Even so, the corpse is left just chilling out by a table intended for eating. Was there no other place to put it? With no evidence of ice or snow in the village one can expect that the soil isn't frozen. Why doesn't he bury it? I mean seriously. Do their cultists texts contain an edict prohibiting the sanitary disposal of enemies? Why on Earth would you leave a dead body to rot in the back room of your business where the stench will turn away customers and make you gag on a daily basis?

Of all the non-burials discovered during this quest line, the Fallen Knight (seen above) makes the most sense. It is lying in a cold, frigid environment where rotting is kept to a minimum. Moreover, the mountaintop's ground is clearly too cold to allow an easy burial. From that point of view sequestering your slain enemies in an unoccupied room within the Ruined Temple makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, it's kind of creepy.

Senseless Archival Methods - I have no clue what these cultist are keeping in their archives, but if the Ancient Encrypted Scrolls of forgotten verses and multiple Scrolls of Banastor are any indication then these shelves house some very old, irreplaceable documentation. Why then do the cultists allocate some of the most snowy/icy rooms for archival space? Even more to the point, why on Earth do they leave piles of books and documents lying on the ground. According to Denerim's Sister Justine the Ancient Encrypted Scrolls are beyond priceless. Granted she is overly passionate about her work but the point still remains. If that is true then how can the cultists store the scroll with other water sodden texts directly atop a mound of snow. I can't even begin to imagine that amount of moisture in the temple's library and work spaces. These senseless storage methods bug me every time. At the Circle of Magi, piles of books and priceless texts was understandable since the tower was a battle zone. Here, however, the temple is only a battle zone when intruders cross the threshold - a rare occurrence at best. Furthermore the entire Main Hall is all but devoid of snow and ice. Why did they not establish their archives there?

Cultist Life - Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of the Ruined Temple is the cultists themselves. Who are these people that so willingly live atop the mountain, in a snow laden ruin, amongst sodden literature, and very few beds. According to a little boy in the Village of Haven older boys and men reside up the mountain. Given that the temple is a religious center it is understandable that a portion of Haven's population would reside there in order to meet certain demands (demands = things Perra has yet to discover in the adjoining caverns). However, these "demands" are in no way strenuous enough to require all of Haven's men to live in a freezing cold, crumbling stone fortress. If generation after generation of cultists have lived here then why has no effort been made to spruce things up a bit? There are no creature comforts except fo the occasional small fire. All Haven did was transport a few beds and chests up the mountain (approx 1 bed/10-20 cultists). Essentially these men are simply lounging around waiting for an occasional visitor to cross into their territory so they can slaughter the out-of-towner. These guys are insane.

Coming Next - The caverns and the gauntlet. Let's get those ashes to Arl Eamon posthaste.

Perra is carrying the Dimension Seven 2H ax and Alistair is carrying Dragonkiller 1H sword from Rah2005's Some New Items mod.

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