The Deep Roads Expedition is an Act 1 main quest in Dragon Age II.

Background[edit | edit source]

After being allowed to enter Kirkwall and working for a year, Hawke needs to join an expedition to the Deep Roads to gain money and status within the city. The expedition is run by the brothers Bartrand and Varric.

Acquisition[edit | edit source]

This quest begins after Hawke's year of servitude ends. Hawke and their surviving sibling try to unsuccessfully persuade Bartrand to let them join the expedition. After speaking to the dwarf, a pickpocket attempts to steal Hawke's money, but is caught by Varric. Varric then offers Hawke the opportunity to become business partners with himself and Bartrand.

The quest requires 50Gold to start, and you must complete the following quests:

Walkthrough[edit | edit source]

Map of the Deep Roads

Upon giving Bartrand the 50 sovereigns and completing all other main quests in Act 1 (or letting Dougal Gavorn pay your fee if you made a deal with him in Friends in Low Places), Leandra will appear and attempt to persuade Hawke not to bring their sibling to the Deep Roads in fear something will happen to them both. Hawke will then be prompted to choose party members, with Varric locked in.

  • Friendship Carver: friendship (+10) or Friendship Bethany: friendship (+15) if taken.
  • Rivalry Carver: rivalry (+15) or Rivalry Bethany: rivalry (+10) if not.
Note: Regardless of whether or not Hawke takes Carver or Bethany along on the expedition, you will lose them as a party member for much of the game. Also, if Hawke takes Carver or Bethany, then they will die at the end of this quest unless Hawke also takes Anders in the party and listens to his proposal.

Finding another route[edit | edit source]

As the party arrives in the Deep Roads, Hawke discovers that the passage is blocked by a collapse, forcing them to find a side passage regardless of the danger. Bodahn cries for help, asking Hawke to search for the lost Sandal as well.

Dragon Age Keep concept art of the expedition

If Hawke agrees to search for Sandal:

  • Friendship Aveline: friendship (+5)
  • Friendship Varric: friendship (+5)

If Hawke refuses:

  • Rivalry Aveline: rivalry (+5)
  • Rivalry Varric: rivalry (+5)

Choosing this option will make Hawke save Bodahn, who attempted to find his son himself, and later Sandal, but without a quest entry.

Note: The rivalry gained does not appear in your quest log.

With your objective(s) set, proceed down the passage. Eventually you'll come across a wave of darkspawn, who are weak against the Nature and Spirit elements. Note that the challenge of this quest is not so much the fights themselves, but making it all the way to the final boss of Act 1 with enough resources to take on that battle as well. The layout of the Deep Roads allows any fight to be completed without injury or item consumption by holding position at more defensible positions and closing doorways where they are present to break the enemy's line of sight.

Beside the first set of stairs is a Deep Mushroom. Hold position at the bridge and lure the next group of darkspawn into view, hitting them with ranged attacks. The column on the left protects from bolter shots. Around the corner is a chest with Oath-Breaker. Continue along and you will come to a room where you must fight a darkspawn emissary. Close the door to break their line-of-sight and force them to come closer. When the door opens, focus fire on the emissary to defeat it before it can unleash an AoE spell.

The pit on the right contains two chests, a Standard-ranked locked chest and a Silverite deposit. Ascending the stairs in the pit triggers an encounter with several Giant Spiders, followed by a Boss-ranked monstrous spider. The easiest way to defeat them is to return to the main path while focusing on the poisonous spiders first, then killing the giant spiders as they crawl up the steps. When the Monstrous Spider spawns, it will not be able to physically fit up the steps, allowing you to simply bombard it with ranged attacks. At half health, a batch of reinforcements will spawn, but the Monstrous Spider will be blocking their path, allowing a Firestorm to eliminate the lot of them.

Note: In the spider pit, there is a small room with a locked door. As soon as you approach the door for lockpicking, the spiders spawn. To make sure you get the XP for lockpicking, you must do it during the fight. Otherwise, the door is open and you miss the XP for picking the lock.

The left path is blocked so proceed straight ahead. In the next room, you will find another Deep Mushroom. The Hurlock bolters in this room may not chase the party even if you flee out of sight, so rush them and try not to die. Reinforcements spawn back the way you came, so use your best AoE abilities. Continue through this chamber to find Sandal, who has managed to wipe out the darkspawn and freeze an ogre in stasis by some mysterious means.

Sandal's ogre

Reaching this point yields 400 XP for quest progression, and Sandal hands over a Rune of Frost, which can be enchanted into a weapon later. Pick up the nearby Raw Lyrium and then continue your search for a another route. You should also have obtained Stone's Breath, a powerful staff for this particular area of the game, so consider equipping it.

Climb the stairs and emerge at a path across the lava, along with a stone column that has the Codex entry: Deep Roads. A fight with two waves of darkspawn including a darkspawn emissary, the path curves back around to the west. Get their attention, then hold position back by the stairs to stay on top of their spawn points, eliminating them with similar tactics as before. Consider using the rubble as a chokepoint for the first group as well. Cross the bridge and head downstairs to face more bolters, using the corner at the bottom of the stairs for cover. With them slain you can pick up some Raw Lyrium against a column on the south wall and the Blade of Red Birth from a chest near the stairs leading west.

At the top of this foreboding set of stairs is an encounter with an ogre. The confined space and presence of 6 Complex-ranked traps (which require 30 Cunning or more to detect and disarm) makes staying in this room a bad idea. For best results, retreat back downstairs to a roomier battlefield with no traps, then spread everyone out so its ram attack can be easily dodged without jeopardizing multiple companions. Use stun, freezing, and slowing abilities to reduce the frequency of its attacks, kite it with manual control of its primary target, and eventually the full power of the party will defeat it. Return to the ogre's original chamber and disarm the traps, if you are able to do so.

Follow the winding path to a large open room with a Boss-ranked dragon and reinforcements of several dragonlings. Use similar tactics as those from The Bone Pit (quest) to deal with the dragon: kite it with their primary target while ranged characters attack. The simplest solution is to pull the dragon back into the winding path; the southernmost point provides plenty of room to dance around the dragon while evading the dragonling reinforcements entirely. Those who want a challenge can remain in the large room and use the stairs to kite the enemy. Another strategy is not to retreat so far, but to fight the dragon in the hallway without entering the large room. The dragon will probably spawn and aggro before you get anywhere near the room proper. Slow it down and stop it with any crowd control you have while your party holds position in the hallway. Have your ranged attackers burn down its health as much as possible before it reaches you. When you cannot halt its advance any more, have a warrior Taunt the dragon and allow melee to engage. Continue dragging it farther back into the hallway until your crowd control cooldowns are up, and repeat. By this time, you should be far enough back that only one or two of the second wave dragonlings will enter combat, if any. Be sure to keep ranged attackers and healers out of the way of flame breath. Once the large dragon is dead, you can return to the large room and handle the rest of the dragonlings separately, which shouldn't be troublesome. The dragon drops several valuable loot items, including:

Depending on Hawke's class: Last Descent Armor Last Descent Armor
Warplate of the Fallen Warplate of the Fallen
Robes of the Spiral Eye Robes of the Spiral Eye

No matter Hawke's class: Winter-Weight Winter-Weight
Nevarran Lancer Nevarran Lancer

Complete the armor set to raise Hawke's stats, then continue up the stairs to discover the way through. The party automatically returns to Bartrand, who is "pleased" that the expedition is moving again.

The Primeval Thaig[edit | edit source]

After the cutscene with Bartrand, Hawke and company arrive at an undiscovered thaig, the Primeval Thaig, which Hawke must explore.

Despite serving as a moment's rest, the party does not heal any injuries obtained in the upper Deep Roads, so use Injury Kits if necessary and purchase additional healing items from Bodahn if needed. Use the Enchantment Apparatus to enchant the Rune of Frost into a weapon, preferably Bianca or Stone's Breath if the former already has one, and the player can talk to Bodahn to receive thanks for saving Sandal.

Beyond Bartrand's camp is a passage to the northwest where the party battles a number of shades and a stone golem. The confined space favors the golem, so retreat back to the camp to have more room to spread out. Claim the deposit of Orichalcum before entering the Primeval Thaig proper.

"I'm not splitting that three ways."

Beyond that point, the party enters the Primeval Thaig, where they discover a pure lyrium idol. Bartrand, unwilling to share the profits of the expedition, takes the idol and locks them in the thaig.

The party needs to find a way out and decides to start with the opposite door. The small room to the east just after entering the crypt contains 4 chests of random loot, but be prepared for a fight upon entering. The party will face a stone golem and 8 shades initially, with several more shades spawning after killing the first wave. It is possible to defeat them without much trouble even on Nightmare difficulty by retreating to the lyrium idol chamber. Drop out of combat between batches of shades to recover rather than taking them all on in one sitting.

The long, narrow, level halls of the thaig are perfect for a ranged party, as the enemies are mostly melee and the intact architecture means they have no line-of-sight breakers. There are also doors at critical junctures the party can use against the enemies. After proceeding through some hallways slaying shades, the party will come upon a room with two staircases leading down. Holding position here allows the shades to be funneled to the hallway and killed like their predecessors. At the bottom of this chamber the party encounters profanes, which are immune to electricity on Nightmare difficulty. The next hallway combines shades and profanes into encounters, with one immune to the other's vulnerability, making the collaborations somewhat annoying if you were relying on electricity to damage shades or spirit to damage profanes. In the next chamber you'll fight more profanes until stopped by a hunger demon in the form of a profane. It offers a deal: stop killing the profanes (he feeds off their hunger), kill a rock wraith up ahead, and he will tell Hawke the location of a key to a locked door that leads to higher tunnels.

Hawke accepts the deal:

  • Rivalry Anders: rivalry (+15)
  • Rivalry Aveline: rivalry (+5)
  • Rivalry Fenris: rivalry (+5)

Hawke refuses the deal:

  • Friendship Anders: friendship (+10)
  • Friendship Aveline: friendship (+5)
  • Rivalry Merrill: rivalry (+10)

Asking Merrill to kill the demon (Call on companion) results in no change.

The rock demon who makes Hawke an offer

Refusing its deal (or asking Merrill to kill it if in the party - she attacks it but doesn't damage it) results in a battle with it and more shades, profanes, and an abomination (arises from the former rock demon). Warriors have a special choice in which Hawke refuses the deal in a unique way. This results in no approval change, the same as if Merrill tried to kill it.

Note: If you're interested in maximizing your experience and profits, refusing the deal results in more enemies to kill (22 vs. 7) and about 200 more experience points. Even if you refuse you can retreat to the previous hallway and close the door, killing them from far back as they drag themselves inside. All that's left after such a tactic is the abomination.

One final hallway with shades and profanes, as well as a corpse with 2 healing, mana, and stamina potions and an auto-save, if the option is enabled. Take this time to create manual saves, optimize the party's equipment, mend any injuries, and adjust Tactics and Behavior if necessary.

Head up the stairs to enter what Varric calls the "Vault" and battle the Ancient rock wraith, the final boss of Act 1. Keep the party moving to avoid its massively-powerful melee attacks and hit it from range. At certain points in the fight when it has lost enough health, the wraith will disappear and respawn in the center of the four pillars and emit red radiation which damages all party members, regardless of range. This damage is rather severe, but can be avoided by having the party hide behind one of the four pillars, away from the rock wraith. After this attack, the creature's armor will collapse and it raise profanes to protect it, however this is its most vulnerable point. After enough time has passed, the armor reassembles and the wraith picks up new attacks. For more detailed information on defeating it on higher difficulties, consult the Ancient rock wraith (strategy).

Note: Drawing out the fight so that the wraith continues to summon profanes can leave many corpses to check for random items. Equipping gear that improves item or coin drops is useful here.

The Ancient Rock Wraith

The rock wraith is worth 10468 XP at Level 12. The number of Profanes slain has no effect on this total. After the rock wraith is defeated, there is a cutscene where the party walks forward to a stash of treasure chests, one of which contains the key to let them out of the crypt.

Note: You might want to go back to where you fought the rock wraith to pick up loot that it dropped before leaving the area.

If Hawke made a deal with the demon, it will appear before they lay claim to the treasure, telling them to take only the key and leave the rest. Hawke has several options at this point:

  • Friendship Varric: friendship (+10) if Hawke lets Varric kill the demon ("Call on companion"), leading to a fight with only its followers.
  • Attack the demon, leading to combat with it and its minions.
  • Hawke tells the demon that they only want the key, in which case it summons minions and attacks you anyway.
  • Tell the demon to back off as a special choice if Hawke's personality is aggressive. If not, it attacks anyway.

When the party exits the Ancient Crypt, you will get a cutscene featuring discussion with Varric showing that you are back at the original campsite. They then head for Kirkwall the way they got down.

Bethany or Carver[edit | edit source]

Should Hawke have Bethany or Carver in the party, there is an extended cutscene in which their sibling collapses due to symptoms of the Blight corruption. Regardless of any dialogue option selected, the sibling will die. However, if Anders is in the party, he will propose that Hawke search for a Grey Warden, Stroud. Doing so will allow the sibling to survive.

If Hawke takes Carver to the Grey Wardens:

  • Friendship Anders: friendship (+5)
  • Friendship Varric: friendship (+5)
  • Friendship Carver: friendship (+5)

If Hawke takes Bethany to the Grey Wardens:

  • Friendship Anders: friendship (+5)
  • Friendship Varric: friendship (+5)

If accepted the party will start looking for the Wardens and will have to fight more darkspawn. Make sure to loot them before they are all taken out because you won't be able to do that afterwards. Once the darkspawn are taken out, the Grey Warden Stroud and his party will arrive and exchange a few words with Anders. Stroud will initially be reluctant to allow Bethany or Carver to attempt the Joining but he is easily convinced.

Note: You will lose all equipment held by either party member, so be sure to take any equipment you'd like to keep from them before leaving.

If Hawke makes a diplomatic or humorous response to Stroud:

  • Friendship Varric: friendship (+5)

If Hawke makes an aggressive response to Stroud:

  • Rivalry Varric: rivalry (+5)

Should Hawke have left their sibling at home instead, Bethany will have been discovered by the templars while Hawke was away, with Knight-Captain Cullen personally escorting her to the Gallows. Carver will have joined the templars, either to spite their mage sibling or in an attempt to step out of their shadow.

No matter what, Hawke's remaining sibling is removed from their day-to-day lives. Act 1 of Varric's tale of the Champion concludes as Leandra collapses on the floor, lamenting what has happened.

Crafting resources[edit | edit source]

If you are seeking the Supplier achievement, be sure to grab:

  • 2 Deep Mushroom
    • The first is located to the west side of the stairs in the very first room you encounter dark spawn.
    • The second is located in the blue room where you fight the emissary
  • 1 Silverite located in the SE valley where the monstrous spider attacks you.
  • 2 Raw Lyrium
    • The first is located next to the frozen ogre that Sandal mysteriously froze.
    • The second is located in the room with the pillars immediately before you fight an Ogre yourself.
  • 1 Orichalcum located in the Primeval Ruins in the room where you first encounter shades and a golem.
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