I don't think I would ever tell Varric that I made the choice - and to be honest I don't think the Inquisitor really does, so much as the player having to give direction there. Anyway it would be "Hawke sacrificed herself to help us escape," not "Alistair/Loghain/Stroud would also have done the same, and I had about five seconds to decide who was more expendable."
That said, I haven't actually done it. (I reverted to an old save to run through and it see what happened, but it wasn't the actual playthrough decision.) FWIW, from a player standpoint, the conversation with Varric is also quite sad if you leave Alistair.
Fortunately, A is king in my canon run, and nice as Stroud is, it's not much of a decision. ;)
The Fade is a pretty awful place...even if we do rescue them later (or maybe they get set free when Solas destroys the Veil, who knows), they will probably be changed and possibly crazy.
It definitely is supposed to show up. glad you finally got it - sounds like a glitch, or that the game got confused about who was supposed to give you the quest or something.
Female Dalish mage Inquisitor (Inquisitrix?)
Romanced Solas for a while, then split up and married Cullen
Allied with mages (wanted to see Alistair not quite meet his mum)
Allied with Grey Wardens
Left Stroud in the Fade
Celene, Briala and Gaspard have to work together
Allied with elven sentinels, obviously
Morrigan drank from the Well, even though as a Dalish First, my Inquisitor really kind of wanted to
Leliana is Divine
Cole more human
Wants to redeem Solas
Honestly this doesn't make much sense to me. You'd have to really want to rule, and also really want to go about it the hard way when it could be way easier.
In my Warden's case, the point was to marry Alistair, more than to be queen, and no, it would never occur to her that he'd ever leave her because it's not really in his character. They can disagree on Duncan without destroying their relationship and the country. ;)
But also, she came to understand Duncan much better by the end. She still disagrees with some of his decisions, but she can see how he came to them; being Warden-Commander gives you a different perspective on how to balance the everyday wants of people with, you know, ending the Blight. She didn't ever want to be a Grey Warden, but since her father's dying words were about Couslands doing their duty, she took it seriously and saved the kingdom.
So I can only speak for myself (or rather, for my canon Warden, who didn't want to be a Warden, and did marry King Alistair), but this all seems like a bit of a stretch. Still, interesting topic.
I'll never be as fond of anyone in the series as my Warden and Alistair, even if there are good options in the others!
It depends on the HoF, I think? For a Dalish, Velanna. For anybody else, Sigrun.
(Also, Nathaniel. I used to wish you could hook up with Anders in Awakening, but clearly he's meant for other things.)
I didn't know I was supposed to notice or have sufficient feelings about Jowan to be supposed to want to recruit him, tbh, but I guess I've only played a mage Warden once. He made his own bad decisions. I don't usually kill him, but I don't exactly lose sleep over his welfare.
He usually dies. My canon Cousland agreed with Anora to let him live, because she's also recently lost her dad and has an idea how much it sucks. But then Alistair fought him (which makes sense if you're trying to put him forward as the new King - he wore Cailan's armour and everything) and obviously then he just lops Loghain's head off, hardened or not. I headcanon that Cousland didn't plan any of this, and was genuinely planning to buy Anora's loyalty with Loghain's life, but then Alistair did his thing and it was make him king and marry him, or he will probably get killed, and that's not much of a choice. ;) I started writing an aftermath story about the letters between her and Anora, for a while.
I did an "Anders-friendly" romance on my first playthrough. Ngl it broke my heart. That's why I say it's a pretty tragedy, but it's not happy. I do mean 'friendly' in the friendship/rivalry system, not "approves of everything he did." She most certainly does not. I think she ends up in Skyhold because she doesn't want to be around him anymore. It was organic and touching, as RPG relationships go, but man, it hurt.
Some of your interpretations (reading this down the thread a bit) are quite insightful, but they really do depend on one's Hawke! ("We'll find another way" isn't a lie, for instance. It might be more aspirational than practical, but not a lie.) Agreed with you that the ultimate lack of trust in the friendship romance is tragic though; I think that's what hurt my first Hawke the most. She kept trying.
The friendship/rivalry is fine as a concept! But for the game mechanics, you lose out if you're ever just kind of in the middle, where sometimes you agree and other times not and aren't either doe-eyed BFFs or passionately shouting at each other. ;) So far I've only had rivalry relationships with Fenris and Merrill, and both were great, but it takes some manipulating of events to get to one end or the other and that's where it falls apart. Oh well. A different topic for a different thread.
Honestly, Anders and Justice make me sad because they were my Warden's friends, and then everything went so very, very wrong.
Oh well. You know when Varric tries to have a talk with Hawke about their relationship choices, and Hawke says "Have I ever given the impression that I was turned off by crazy?" They're a dysfunctional lot, all of them. ;)
^For real. I tried to make a full family tree for my Theirin/Cousland playthrough once and even that did my head in.
^ Honestly, the reaction is quite human, yes; it's the bloody Friendship/Rivalry system getting in the way there. The problem that you have to max one of them out rather than any kind of back-and-forth in order for the game to work right gets in the way of nuance.
I like Anders as a character, though he makes me terribly sad. I actually like that he's clearly infatuated with Hawke in a desperate kind of way no matter what else you do or who else you romance, even if it does make it awkward. That sting of rejection is human. Mind, he is pretty unreasonable a lot of the time. (And yes, he IS manipulative. "If you really love me you will distract the Grand Cleric for me while I do something I'm not going to tell you, but that you probably know is bad because you're not stupid, and if you ask any more questions or don't want to help then I AM ALL ALONE AND YOU HAVE FORSAKEN ME TOO" is a bit bloody much. The reasons Anders is why he is are a subject for a different conversation, but there are ways it is a good romance, and other ways it is not!)
Anders can be a beautiful tragedy. (I suppose he can be a happy ending if one is in favour of his actions; I haven't ever been able to get there.) My very first Hawke ended up with him, after Fenris and Isabella both left her; she thought at least Anders would stick around. And he does, but I think it's probably pretty awkward now. Still, I went back to it recently because I only got the DLC earlier this year and hadn't played Legacy with that character yet, and it did remind me it can be a lovely, if sad, romance.
2nd Hawke ended up with Fenris, and I don't regret that at all. As some others have said, for all his moodiness, he's pretty straightforward. (He also has a sense of humour in there somewhere, however rarely it comes out.) He wants to be free of Danarius, and then he can go wherever Hawke goes. (That playthrough was my mage who supported the Templars and became viscount, which is an interesting political situation for Kirkwall, but I like to think he got a little bit of stability and safety for a while.)
In the middle now of a playthrough that went from Isabella (who runs off, again!) to Merrill. It turns out this is actually very sweet. Hawke and Isabella are still friends, and Isabella is so protective of Merrill, and really supportive of the relationship in her banter. Once they save the city they're all going to run off together on Isabella's ship and have adventures. I didn't even realise DA2 could be that non-angsty. ;)
Bull is awesome, but I cannot be bothered to kill a dragon to show my devotion. Cullen is far less demanding. ;)
I've tried and like all of them, but I don't think anyone will ever match Alistair in my affections. Leliana comes close, though, because hearing her in Inquisition talk about the Warden is lovely.
I like all of them. ;) I suppose it depends on what kind of story you're after. Cullen you can marry and retire (ish) with; presumably you can keep Fenris with you after events of DA2. There's something nice about that idea.
Morrigan and Dorian don't come with a together-forever at the end. Morrigan could, later - you do get the time in the Between Place raising Kieran together, if you want it, and it's implied that after Corypheus is dealt with, and/or the Warden gets the Calling thing figured out, they intend to be together again. Dorian just can't, because there's too much of Tevinter to uproot before he's able to live happily ever after in a homosexual relationship with a foreigner, so you have to content yourself with long-distance and stolen moments. (He is, of course, worth it.)
So some of it just depends on what story you're telling.
Is this which character we as players dislike most, or who does our Inquisitor dislike most?
(Also, on the second run I have a devout, Templar-sympathetic, game-playing snob who gets on with Vivienne really very well. He also thinks she has a great sense of style.)
I suppose it's also a lot of work for the devs to work in when only a human female Inquisitor could be a candidate? It would be a cool option, though, for a faithful Inquisitor that people already think was saved from the Fade by Andraste herself.
The one Templar run I did in DA2 was as a mage. I've never been able to side against the Circle as long as Bethany is there, but with Carver safely off with the Grey Wardens, mage!Hawke got a bit sick of all the blood mages in Kirkwall and finally decided that even though Meredith is a nutjob, enough was enough.
In a more practical sense, if Hawke is a mage you don't need to take Anders and Merrill along anyway, so they can disapprove of fewer of your decisions. In that playthrough Hawke was still friends with Anders, albeit at a distance (at least until having to kill him), but rivals with Merrill because that mirror was never a good idea. (It's possible to have a friendship with Anders make RP sense mostly because he's pretty delusional...be nice enough to him at first to get the friendship locked in and then you can yell at him for the stupider things.)
DAI it's pretty easy, since you're saving either the mages or the Templars rather than just using Templars to murder mages. My Dalish mage allied with the mages, whilst the Trevelyan warrior who'd been expecting to join the Templars for his whole life until the war started decided to save them.
It probably depends somewhat on the worldstate (I mean, if there's a Cousland consort on the throne, then their influence is probably still quite strong), but yes, generally.
They're a very old family who have weathered extreme misfortune before (as Avernus tells us about their part in Sophia Dryden's uprising) and still come out with lands and title and such intact. They're also the single remaining Teyrnir in Ferelden (at least, I think - never quite clear what happens if you're awarded Gwaren, but the Warden definitely doesn't seems to set down roots or start a line of their own there even so). Fergus is still knocking about in DAI.
The Guerrins are another powerful family which will somewhat depend on the worldstate. If Alistair is ruling, Eamon sticks around to advise him, which gives him a lot of influence, and we see Teagan representing him at every juncture. If Anora rules, I expect she and Eamon want to keep each other close enough to watch - and Teagan is still representing the Crown when somebody needs to go to Orlais.
I don't really see a new power challenging either of these old families (though I'm willing to raise a flag for Team Alfstanna!) - they lost a fair bit in the Blight, but so did everyone else. There probably won't be a huge upset in the power structure for some time.
I think I did something similar to Loliwobbles - uninstalled all the mods, got into the DLC, and then reinstalled them after I had a Trespasser save file. Good luck!