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The Descent is a main quest from The Descent DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Earthquakes in the Deep Roads are threatening to collapse lyrium mines and cut off supply of the essential mineral to the surface.


Complete Disaster in the Deep Roads by traveling to the Storm Coast Fissure.


Storm Coast Fissure[]

After speaking with Lead Scout Lace Harding, take the elevator down into the Fissure proper, where the Inquisitor will be greeted by Shaper Valta, who can be questioned about the situation. After this Valta will join the party as a Temporary Companion. Head north through the fissure, claiming the Landmark on the left along the way. At the entrance to the Deep Roads, the quest A Warm Welcome will activate as an Ogre alpha charges the party. See that quest guide for details.

After the Ogre Alpha has been dealt with, loot the remains and head into the Deep Roads then take a right to find the Legion of the Dead regiment. Lieutenant Renn and the Legionnaires will assist the party in this battle. The Inquisitor must defend the seal for the tunnel from the horde of encroaching darkspawn until the seal gauge is filled. The first wave of Darkspawn consist of 4 genlocks which will attack at melee range, a Hurlock which uses sword and shield and two Hurlock archers. Throughout this battle area of effect attacks, particularly Mark of the Rift can be useful to regain control of the field if the darkspawn are about to overrun the defenders. Darkspawn will continue to spawn from a side tunnel on the left and the main tunnel seal entrance. Bringing a mage or two with Barrier will be a great help here both for keeping the party alive but also the legionnaires which help even the number of combatants and divide the darkspawn's attention. Pull of the Abyss can also be useful here for helping keep the darkspawn in a vulernable position.

Detonating the lyrium charges

Once the seal gauge gets to about 40%, additional Hurlocks and Hurloch archers will approach from the back right of the tunnel. At about 50-60% a Hurlock alpha will approach from the main seal entrance. Make the Hurlock alpha a priority target and focus your attacks on it until it falls, as it will otherwise swiftly knock down most of the party. A second Hurlock alpha will follow not long after. Once they are slain, this should bring the seal gauge to 100%. Activate both of the lyrium charges by the door to seal the tunnel. After this withdraw to the main chamber and take cover, picking up any loot the darkspawn dropped on the way out as this sub-tunnel will be blocked off by the explosion afterwards. Establish the camp using the marker in the north east section of the chamber to advance.

After speaking with Renn and Valta, Renn will join as a temporary companion. Various crafting facilities are now available at this camp as well as the Expedition table. Once everything has been taken from the area, head through the north-west door and take the elevator down to continue the quest.

Darkspawn Warrens[]

After heading through the corridor out onto the main road, a trio of shrieks and two Hurlock archers will attack from the north. Shrieks can use stealth to ambush companions and attack extremely quickly so be wary. Abilities such as War Cry can be useful for keeping Shrieks focused on heavily armoured characters who withstand the damage.

Next room has a locked gate with a switch to open it. To the left of the door is a room with a starter for the expedition Legion Camp Improvements, and a note that starts the quest Killing Me Softly.

Beyond the locked gate a hallway leads to a Rune-Warded Gate at the bottom of the stairs that blocks the way forward, and several of the gears for the mechanism are missing and so must be recovered. Fortunately the first of the gears is conveniently placed just to the right of the gate. Picking it up will start the quest Rune-Warded Gate of Segrummar. Opposite the gate is a room with an emissary and some genlocks. The braziers on the wall are a puzzle to open the centre sarcophagus.

At the far end of the hallway is a room to the left. Reading the book on the table will start the quest Builder's Towers. Down the stairs is a pile of crates. Destroy them with a basic weapon attack to get access to the hidden room.

After opening the Rune-Warded Gate continue down the hallway to reach a chamber with a large statue of a Paragon in the center. A Hurlock waits with its back to the door while two Hurlock archers, another Hurlock and a Hurlock alpha patrol the opposite side of the chamber. The Hurlock by the entrance can be easily ambushed and disposed of quickly. After this, diverting the Hurlock alpha and melee Hurlock with one companion while disposing of the archers before regrouping to dispose of the last two darkspawn can help secure the chamber quickly and easily.

Continue past the cave in and take the door on the left to reach a large stairwell guarded by a pair of Genlock alpha. Genlock alphas rely on their large tower shields for both defense and attack, using a knockback to stun and damage the party while also using throwing axes to attack from afar. Fighting both Alphas at once can be challenging, so luring one Alpha away using War Cry can help mitigate this. Using one companion to draw the Genlock alpha's attention, while the other companions attack from behind can be an effective way to by-pass the shield. After securing the stairwell, advance through the far gate (opens with the switch next to it).

The Dead Legionnaires

Five Corrupted spiders will emerge from the shadows and attack from around the corner. Use the same tactics for them as with usual spider enemies. Through the door at the end of corridor, is the entrance to a large balcony which overlooks Heidrun Thaig. The open area allows for ease of movement however there are also a considerable number of darkspawn here. An Ogre will attack from the center of the platform while two Hurlock Archers will attack from range on the right side of the platform. The ogre can be dealt with using the same tactics as the Ogre Alpha from earlier, however it has less health and defense.

After the battle begins, Genlocks will continually join the battle from the north eastern exit until the Ogre falls, so be aware of darkspawn reinforcements.

Once the platform is secure, examine the corpses of the dead Legionnaires. To the south is a claim marker that starts the expedition Deep Roads Expeditions: Heidrun Thaig Upper Bridge.

Head along the south-west walkway to find the elevator down into Heidrun Thaig. There is a Supply Cache by the elevator to restock potions.

Note: It may not be possible to examine the corpses. Activating the expedition near the balcony edge and triggering the dialogue between Renn and Valta should fix this. If this doesn't work, check for remaining enemies. Genlocks sometimes get caught out on the ledges beyond the south edge of the area, far enough to drop you out of fighting but not activating the corpses until they're dead.

Ruins of Heidrun Thaig[]

Another Supply Cache can be found at the far end of the walkway directly north of where the elevator disembarks. Across the bridge is a door on the right leading to an auditorium. Upon entry, several corpses and corpse archers will rise out of the water to attack. Once the corpses are disposed of, take the center hallway to access the nearby cavern. Take the left cave to come around on the opposite side of the Auditorium. A trio of Hurlock warriors and a Hurlock archer are on guard at the cavern mouth.

The Heidrun Thaig

After this, climb down the slope and continue straight ahead to reach a second auditorium. On the bridge to the left is a claim marker for the expedition Deep Roads Expeditions: Heidrun Thaig Central Bridge.

Inside the auditorium are four shrieks and an Emissary. The same tactics will work for the shrieks, however a large amount of rubble clutters this auditorium which can make maneuvering difficult. Luring the darkspawn to the entrance can help make this fight easier. Dispose of the emissary first to prevent it from casting barrier to support the shrieks. Head straight ahead and follow the road forward, taking the collapsed path down to the far end and turning right. Four Hurlock Archers are lurking at the doorway on the far left. Advance close to them quickly to eliminate their advantage of range. Once they're dealt with, prepare to head through the door behind them. Five scorched ancient gears (spread out nearby) are needed to open door. However do not open the door until the whole party is at full health and are properly equipped for an extremely lengthy battle, because beyond the next door, lies the main darkspawn nest. When the door is opened the door behind will close, and it will not be possible to save the game or leave the area until the battles are over.

Opening the door will draw the attention of the darkspawn immediately and waves of darkspawn will swarm the party. The initial wave consists of shrieks. The shrieks will charge from the tunnel to the right and from directly ahead of the door. Roughly 10 shrieks will charge in the first wave. Once the shrieks are defeated the next wave consists of Hurlocks. Take a sharp left from the entrance and head out onto the cliffside. Two Hurlock alphas are waiting by the pillars and lead the wave. Several Hurlock warriors just behind them will come to assist. A Supply Cache is just to the left of the Alphas. Another can be found by following the rocky ledge alongside the sixth sacrificial gate on the east wall. There are two rocky outcroppings behind them, one on each side of the walkway forward. Multiple Hurlock archers will fire arrows from up here, however by sticking close to the pillars when engaging the Hurlocks, it is possible to avoid drawing the attention of all of the archers. Once the Hurlocks are dealt with, make sure you clear out any remaining Hurlock archers on the outcroppings before advancing down the walkway.

Crossing the walkway will draw the attention of a swarm of Genlocks, led by a pair of genlock alphas. An emissary will also join the fray after a short time. The walkway can be a dangerous place for this battle as there is little room to move and falling off will deplete a character's health entirely. Falling back to the rocky cliffside where the Hurlocks were fought can make it easier to move. A second emissary will also eventually come to assist so be wary of re-enforcements.

The darkspawn nest

On the far side of the walkway, head through the central doorway into the two room chamber. This passage is guarded by a pair of ogres. Dealing with two Ogres at once can be exceedingly difficulty due to their grab disabling whichever companion they pick up. Drawing the attention of one ogre as a diversion and leading it away from the other while the rest of the party kill the other Ogre can resolve this. Genlocks will slowly but continually join the battle from the small tunnels on the side of the chamber. An emissary may come to assist the Ogres during the battle. There is also a Supply Cache in the middle of the chamber, just to the left of the door to the back room.

Once the ogres are finally slain, the most powerful darkspawn of the swarm in the thaig, an Emissary alpha, so ensure that the last surviving ogre is the only darkspawn stronger than a Genlock before killing it.

Emissary Alphas attack similarly to standard Emissaries however they have several additional spells. The most dangerous of which is a glowing red orb which will appear over one targeted companions head. After a small amount of time, the orb will detonate causing massive damage to any party members in the vicinity. The best way to deal with this is to have a mage with dispel cancel the effect on the afflicted companion, or move them away from the orb. Use dispel to also strip the barriers of the Emissaries to make the fight easier. Once slain, the Emissary alpha will drop Isana's Song, a Superb Ring of Barrier Penetration and potentially Superb Ring of Critical Chance. Head through the far door at the end of the chamber and set up a new camp for the Legion of the Dead. Once the camp is set up, re-stock as necessary and take the elevator down.

Forgotten Caverns[]

Advance through the cavern path slowly. Eventually at a larger cavern, a group of unknown combatants will attack, the Sha-Brytol. The enemy vanguard consists of two Revered Defenders who use two-handed great mauls and four Sha-Brytol Bolters who use semi-automated crossbows similar to Bianca. The Bolters can do a surprisingly large amount of damage quickly, so eliminating the Bolters first is recommended.

Advance forward to encounter another group of Sha-Brytol, this time consisting of two revered defenders, two bolters and two stone-stalkers, rogues who attack from stealth. Deal with the bolters first, then the stalkers and the defenders last. Be wary of your positions as the cavern is tightly enclosed. Falling back to where the Sha-Brytol can allow more room to move.

The Sha-Brytol revealed

The bridge leading across the chasm to the next tunnel is guarded by a pair of cretahl who will charge the party on sight while a pair of Bolters rain support fire from the far side of the bridge. Charging Bull can help narrow the distance between the Bolters and the party quickly and allow the Bolters to be dealt with first, then the Cretahl can be eliminated without ranged support. Once the bridge is taken, the lyrium rock barrier blocking the tunnel will collapse, allowing passage forward.

The next cavern is partially submerged and contains scattered groups of Sha-Brytol. A Bolter is lurking on the right and a larger group on the left, behind a rockface. Two revered defenders are leading this group and two Sha-Brytol EarthShakers; dwarven warriors who can manipulate lyrium to devastating effect. Follow the tunnel and stick to the left until the second bridge. The Sha-Brytol will destroy the bridge upon approach and the so the only way forward is to climb down the cliffside on the right of the collapsed bridge and follow the tunnel forward to reach the Bastion of the Pure.

Bastion of the Pure[]

The Bastion is filled with Sha-Brytol troops so expect heavy resistance. From the entrance head right to encounter a lyrium infused barrier wall and a group of Sha-Brytol. There are 3 Revered Defenders in this group, two Stone-Stalkers and one Earth-Shaker off on the right. The top of the ramp leading back to the entrance can be a useful choke point for positioning the Sha-Brytol or the narrow path on the left can be used instead.

Once the Sha-Brytol are dead, examine the barrier and then pick up the Earth-Shaker weapon. Implant it in the barrier wall to destroy it and open the path forward. Advance down the path to run into two cretahl and another Sha-Brytol Earth-Shaker to be dealt with. There is another lone Earth-Shaker around the bend. Ensure that the Earth-Shaker weapons are picked up both times.

Continue forward at the intersection to encounter another Stone-Stalker and Earth-Shaker. Head straight forward from this intersection rather than left and take the path down to trap another Earth-Shaker and a pair of cretahl.

Once they're disposed of and the weapon recovered, back track to the intersection and take the other path across the lake. Another group of Sha-Brytol wait on the far side of the bridge. Expect to face two Revered Defenders, a Bolter, an Earth-Shaker, and a cretahl.

Take the cliffside path on the right down to another lyrium wall barrier defended by two cretahl and an Earth-Shaker. One of the Earth-Shaker weapons is required to shatter the barrier wall but if all the Earth-Shakers encountered so far have been looted for their weapons, then there should still be 5 weapons after the barrier wall has been shattered.

Take the first right to reach a large island. The path forward is blocked off by an exceptionally large lyrium infused barrier wall. Unlike prior barriers, this wall requires five separate Earth-Shaker weapons to destroy. Sha-Brytol will swarm the barrier wall en masse from all directions once the party gets too close to the barrier, so expect resistance. To resolve the conflict as quickly as possible, have one companion plant the Earth-Shaker weapons all at once, because the Sha-Brytol will continue to attack until all the weapons are in place, then clear the island to detonate the weapons.

Go through the cave and take a moment to establish the final camp before entering the Wellspring.

The Wellspring[]

The Heart of the Wellspring

Take the path to the right, ensuring the landmark is claimed along the way, as this area is not accessible after completing the main quest, then continue across the bridge. A trio of Sha-Brytol Revered Defenders and an Earth-Shaker will attack from the far side of the bridge.

Continue down the path and take the ladder down, round the corner and take the next ladder down onto the next walkway. Another group of Sha-Brytol are patrolling here, consisting of two Defenders, a Stone-Stalker and two Bolters. Once dealt with, take the ladder down and continue down the path.

Five Sha-Brytol Bolters are guarding the next intersection. Head past them and take the right walkway and climb down the ladder. Continue along the street and take the next ladder down to reach the innermost sanctum of the thaig.

A final group of Sha-Brytol defend the center of the Wellspring. To break through, two Earth-Shakers, two Bolters, two Revered Defenders and a Cretahl must be eliminated. The Barrier Wall will shatter once the Sha-Brytol are defeated, so take the left path and continue onwards.

A Supply Cache is available on the right to restore the Health Potion supply if needed. Take this moment to prepare for an extended battle and anticipate a challenge. Take the final ladder down and prepare to face The Guardian on the altar with the large lyrium crystal.

See The Guardian (strategy) for a guide on defeating the Guardian..


The choices in Dragon Age Keep

  • 10,526 XP
  • Influence 2,000
  • Power 3

Codex entries[]

Codex entry: The Guardian Codex entry: The Guardian
Codex entry: Sha-Brytol Codex entry: Sha-Brytol
Codex entry: Titans Codex entry: Titans