The tension between Knight-Commander Meredith Stannard and First Enchanter Orsino has reached the tipping point and Meredith wishes to lock up all the mages and search the tower from top to bottom, accusing Orsino of harboring blood mages. The Champion must intervene and choose a side.
The Champion receives a letter ("The Last Straw") from either the first enchanter or the knight-commander at their Writing Desk in the Hawke Estate. This depends on who Hawke supported during their earlier confrontation, although Orsino's letter will be sent if none was chosen. If you receive the letter from Orsino by default it will still count towards the Arcane Defender Achievement.
Accepting this quest makes it impossible to return to the Gallows Courtyard to complete any quest (e.g., Herbalist's Tasks). Traveling to the Gallows is a point of no return: make sure you've completed any remaining quests and prepared yourself adequately for the final events of the game.
For all companions a pursued romance or gifts have absolutely no effect on their choices during the Last Straw. This is intended.
The following companions will always help Hawke who sided with the mages:
The words Anders will say while awaiting judgment depend on the approval path:
- If Anders is Hawke's rival and his Act 3 Questioning Beliefs quest was completed, he says that Vengeance took him over and expresses deep regret for his actions. He does not trust himself to control Vengeance any longer and begs Hawke to kill him "before there is nothing left of [him]". Hawke can tell Anders that they forgive him if the amount of rivalry is high enough.
- If Anders is Hawke's friend, he insists that the decision was his own as he and Justice are one now. He tells Hawke that he wanted to make Thedas see the injustice of the Circle and thus to change the world. Anders still wishes to be killed, seeing it as bringing justice to those who were sacrificed for his cause. Hawke can tell Anders that they might have understood if he'd only told them if the amount of friendship is high enough.
If you ask your companions what they think you should do, Fenris, Aveline and Sebastian will propose to kill Anders, Isabela will say that it was a bold plan, Merrill will tell that he should come with Hawke in order to make up for his crime, and Varric will say that he's sick of Mages and Templars.
Hawke has the following options:
- (Both sides) Kill Anders by stabbing him in the back.
- (Templars side) Let him go. He will later confront Hawke inside the Gallows and all dialogue options will lead to killing Anders in combat.
- (Templars side) Ask him to help. He will refuse and Hawke will be left with the other two choices unless Anders is a 100% rival and his Act 3 Questioning Beliefs quest was completed. If Hawke persuades him to atone for his crimes by killing mages, during the final conversation in the Gallows courtyard he will hint at wishing to take his own life after the battle.
- (Mages side) Let him go. He will later be encountered again inside the Gallows, wanting to be a part of the battle. If his aid is accepted, he rejoins the party. If it is rejected, he wishes Hawke victory and leaves permanently.
- (Mages side) Ask him to help.
In most cases Merrill will immediately agree to help Hawke who sided with the templars. However, if the following conditions are met simultaneously, she will refuse:
- Anders is a 100% rival and his Act 3 Questioning Beliefs quest was completed, i.e. he can be potentially persuaded to turn against the mages.
- Merrill's Act 3 Quest, Merrill, Friend or Foe? was not completed.
Later Hawke will see Merrill in the Gallows courtyard. If you choose the top option ("Join Me"), she will always rejoin the party, telling Orsino that Hawke is now "her people". If you choose any of the other two options, she will walk away and Hawke will encounter her inside the Gallows: at this point all dialogue options lead to killing Merrill in combat.
The following has no effect on Merrill's behavior during the Last Straw:
- Anders' fate (you can kill both of them in one playthrough)
- Friendship/rivalry with Merrill
Bethany - Circle Mage
- If Hawke sided with the mages, Bethany will rejoin the party in the Gallows.
- If Hawke sided with the templars, she will be inside the Gallows with Orsino. Once he uses blood magic, she will help Hawke fight him. After the battle is over, Hawke has the option of letting her join the party or allowing Meredith to kill her. If she's spared she thanks her sibling and gives a sisterly hug.
The following companions will always help Hawke who sided with the templars:
If Fenris is a 100% friend or rival and his Act 3 Questioning Beliefs quest was completed, he will immediately agree to help Hawke who sided with the mages. If his Act 3 Questioning Beliefs quest was not completed, he will initially refuse to do so, even if you have his 100% approval. Later Hawke will meet Fenris in the Gallows courtyard:
- If you choose the top option ("Join Me") and Hawke has any (0-100%) amount of friendship, less than 50% rivalry, OR 100% rivalry with Fenris, he will rejoin the party.
- If you choose the top option and Hawke has ≥ 50% and < 100% rivalry with Fenris, he will refuse to help again.
- If you choose any of the other two options, he will also object Hawke.
In the last two cases he will show up inside the Gallows and you will be forced to fight him to the death.
In most cases Aveline will immediately agree to help Hawke who sided with the mages. However, if the following conditions are met simultaneously, she will leave the party:
- Fenris is a 100% friend or rival and his Act 3 Questioning Beliefs quest was completed.
- Aveline's Act 2 companion quest The Long Road (Dragon Age II) was not completed and during Favor and Fault you chose ("Kill the traitors, Aveline") dialogue option resulting in her resigning.
- Aveline's Act 3 Questioning Beliefs quest was not completed.
- Aveline is a rival [ ]
Later Hawke will see Aveline in the Gallows courtyard. If you choose the top option ("Join Me"), she may rejoin the party depending on her approval. If you choose any of the other two options, you will subsequently encounter her just before walking out of the Gallows: she will refuse to turn on Hawke and will leave in a fit of anger and frustration, stating that while she owes Hawke her life, she now wants nothing further to do with Hawke. The city guards who were with Aveline will then walk away with her, but the templars will attack.
Carver - Templar
If Hawke sided with the mages, Carver will show up before the final confrontation with Meredith and will refuse to turn on his brother/sister. He will help Hawke fight Meredith alongside Cullen.
The following companions will help Hawke regardless of the side:
If Anders is initially spared, Sebastian will leave the party, vowing to return to Starkhaven and gather an army to attack Kirkwall and hunt him down. He will not return even if Hawke who sided with the templars subsequently kills Anders inside the Gallows (you can lose both of them in one playthrough). If you stab Anders, Sebastian will agree to help whoever Hawke decided to support.
Varric will express his annoyance of both templars and mages and will join Hawke no matter what.
When siding with the templars she will jokingly say: Those mages fight for their freedom? How dare they. and she will help Hawke.
Bethany/Carver - Grey Warden
You will run into the respective sibling on your way to the Gallows. They can join you if you accept their help, giving you a second chance to change your party. Interestingly, if you have sided with the templars, both siblings will voice their disappointment in your decision in spite of their pledge of unconditional support to your cause.
Upon arriving at the Gallows, a mage or a templar will inform you of what's going on. You and your companions travel to Lowtown where Meredith and Orsino argue about him allegedly harboring blood mages and her having the tower searched for them. Bethany or Carver will appear at their faction leader's side if you did not take them to the Deep Roads in Act 1. Orsino will threaten to take the matter to Grand Cleric Elthina to be resolved once and for all when Anders interrupts, telling them the Grand Cleric cannot help them now, and shortly afterwards Kirkwall's Chantry is destroyed by an explosive placed by him. This provokes Meredith to invoke the Right of Annulment to every mage in Kirkwall's Circle, even though they were not involved with the apostate mage Anders' actions. You must then choose to side with either Meredith and the templars, or Orsino and the mages. Whichever choice you make will cause dissent in your party. Siding with the templars may cause Merrill to leave. Siding with the mages may cause Fenris or Aveline to leave. See Companions' Behavior for details.
Once you choose a side, a fight ensues with either the mages or the templars that are present. If Bethany or Carver are present, they will leave and will be available to rejoin the party prior to the final battle if they are on the same side as you. You will be assisted by either Meredith or Orsino (depending on whom you sided with), and any companions who are not in the active party. Anders will not participate in the ensuing battle regardless of his relationship with Hawke. Once the battle is over, Meredith or Orsino will leave Anders for you to deal with. Depending on the choices made Anders, Sebastian or both of them will leave the party.
Once you get to the docks, you'll face a blood mage and a large group of shades, including a pride demon. The blood mage should be killed right away to avoid being hit with their draining spells. Avoid the pride demon's swirling vortex spell, as it can trap you, deal heavy damage, and leave you open to be ganged up on by the shades. Have your tank lure the brunt of the shades while your ranged attackers deal with the demon.
When you are done, look for an Enigma of Kirkwall note to the right. Head down to the ships and you'll be on your way to the Gallows.
When you get to the Gallows, the mages will be fighting off the templars from the steps. Orsino then calls for a truce: he and Meredith approach to discuss the situation. You will have a short dialogue here with Merrill, Fenris or Aveline if they did not side with you at the beginning of the quest. Meredith will then tell Orsino to prepare for battle, and the mages will retreat into the Gallows.
This will be your opportunity to speak to your remaining companions about the final battle. If you are on the same side as your siblings, they will rejoin the party here. If you are involved in a romance, following through with the romance options will complete the romance and will earn you the Romantic achievement. This is also your chance to prepare for battle. Once you are done, speak with Meredith or Orsino to begin the battle.
If you sided with the templars, you will have to fight your way into the Gallows, facing mages as well as demons. If Anders was allowed to leave, he will appear and taunt you before attacking, and you have to kill him. If Merrill leaves your party because you sided with the templars and did not convince her to support your decision, you will also have to confront and kill her.
Gallows Prison/Templar Hall
Once you get inside the Gallows Prison, you'll find Orsino, who uses blood magic to transform himself into a harvester that you have to defeat, with Meredith and some templars aiding you. Once the battle is done, Meredith tells you to meet her outside.
If you sided with the mages, you will face several waves of templars in the inner chamber with help from the allies not in your active party. Orsino will then use blood magic to transform into a harvester, causing you to fight him as well as the templars. When the battle is done, you will have to fight your way out of the Gallows. On the way, you will face several groups of demons.
In the chamber before returning to the courtyard, you will come across Sandal. This is your last chance to buy or sell wares, retrieve or stash your items, and enchant weapons and armor before the final battle, so prepare well. Note that Sandal will appear twice in the templar campaign, the second time being in the chamber where you fought Orsino. From here, you will then have to fight through several waves of templars en route to the courtyard as part of the mage campaign. You will encounter either Fenris or Aveline if one of them left your party and you did not persuade them to rejoin during the dialogue outside the Gallows. Fenris will have to be killed, and Aveline will refuse to fight Hawke and will walk away.
Going into the west corridor from the central courtyard will cause you to face abominations and two pride demons that you would not otherwise have to fight. Should you choose to explore this area, you can loot a Dragonhide Mantle of the Predator, a Dreamcatcher, and a Templar Ceremonial Cummerbund from the former offices of Meredith and Orsino. The hallway will be lined by 4 Complex firetraps that can be disarmed. Be also warned that upon entering, you will encounter 4 Abominations that will stream out of the offices, as well as several undead archers. The Pride Demons you will encounter are at the end of the hallway. Upon their defeat, they will summon a horde of shades to swarm you.
When you get outside, Meredith will be waiting with the rest of the templars. She orders your execution at this point, but Cullen will object, saying that they were only supposed to arrest the Champion. Meredith pulls out her sword, which is made from the lyrium idol that Bartrand had taken and then sold. She begins casting suspicions on all of the templars around her, then turns her weapon to Hawke and orders their execution. Cullen rises to your defense, as does Carver if you have sided with the mages, leading to Meredith becoming hostile.
During the ensuing battle against Meredith, you can have up to nine active allies. Note that some allies are mandatory, and some appearances hold precedence over others in the following order:
- The three members of your active party.
- Cullen, who is mandatory in this battle.
- Your Dog. (If you want to see some of the other allies below, you may want to send your Dog away for this battle.)
- The remainder of your companions in the following order of priority, minus whoever is already included in your active party and those who have sided against you before this point: Bethany/Carver, Varric, Anders, Aveline, Fenris, Isabela, Merrill and Sebastian.
- Four other appearances are possible, if you have completed specific quests:
- Donnic Hendyr appears if you completed The Long Road and he married Aveline, provided that she is in the party.
- If you completed A Murder of Crows and spared Zevran Arainai, he will also come to your aid (only if either Isabela or Varric is within the party).
- Nathaniel Howe will also join you if you completed Finding Nathaniel.
- If he was reinstated to the Templar Order in Best Served Cold, Raleigh Samson also joins the fight at Hawke's side.
As Meredith moves across the battlefield, she will create fire trails straight toward the player-controlled character that will deplete mages of their mana if the trails touch them. Partway through the battle, Meredith will leap from the battlefield and start bringing the Gallows statues to life (Gate Guardians and Slave Statues). Once they are defeated, Meredith will come back down. As her health diminishes, she will continue to summon more Slave Statues, as well as reviving the Gate Guardians in a new spider form while still on the battlefield. Once her health gets low enough, she uses an ability that stuns everyone on the battlefield, including enemies. During these times, she will be talking, not attacking. She might also grab Hawke or the companion you are in a completed relationship with and ask how it feels to see her hold what is dearest to you. This happens several more times until Meredith falls.
- Main article: Mage-Templar War
Meredith attempts to call upon the Maker to give her power in her last effort to defeat the Champion, but the lyrium sword breaks and she screams as the lyrium seeps into her, turning her into a statue. After the templars look upon what is left of their leader, Cullen and his men either back away and allow Hawke and the rest of the party to leave if they have supported the mages, or they bow before Hawke and the party if they have supported the templars.
The tale of the Champion's opposition to Meredith and her actions toward the mages are spread by the survivors to all parts of Thedas. No matter who the Champion sides with in the final battle, Hawke's name becomes a rallying cry for the mages. This sparks a successful rebellion at all the Circles against the Chantry, which it eventually loses control of. The templars also leave the Chantry to fight the mages on their own terms.
If Hawke and the companions supported the mages, they will all leave Kirkwall before more templars arrive to restore order. If they supported the templars, Hawke will become the new viscount of Kirkwall (see Crowning Glory), only to leave later on. Eventually, Varric says, all the companions left Hawke's side due to various circumstances, except Hawke's romanced companion, if any.
With that, Varric concludes his Tale of the Champion. Cassandra Pentaghast acknowledges Hawke as a hero in the midst of madness rather than its instigator. She reveals that the Seekers are looking for the Champion in the hopes that Hawke can serve as a voice of reason, to bring peace to the warring mages and templars. Varric, now understanding her purpose, wishes that he could help her. The ultimate fate of the Champion remains unknown, but Varric tells Cassandra that he doubts Hawke is dead. He is released from Cassandra's custody and she bids the Maker watch over him in the times ahead.
Outside the Hawke Estate, Cassandra meets with Leliana, her fellow agent of Divine Justinia V, discussing that both the Champion and the Warden have disappeared, the timing of which cannot be coincidence. Unsure of whether to proceed with the "original plan" or keep looking, Leliana says it is in the Maker's hands now, and they will put their faith in Him. As Cassandra marches away with the other Seekers, Leliana stares down at the Seeker tome and the game ends.
After the credits, Hawke reappears in the Hawke Estate in a post-game file, but the player cannot leave to explore Kirkwall. The only things they can do are order new crafts, inspect the Storage Chest, and launch the two DLC campaigns, if they have not already been completed.
- xbox360 After the cutscene where the mage or templar tells you about the conversation between Meredith and Orsino, you may be brought back to the game's main menu with a notification informing you that the area cannot be loaded. To fix this, simply shut off your console and start again.
- xbox360 In the conversation between Meredith and Orsino on the steps of the Gallows, Orsino's robes and Meredith's armor may not fully render. This may persist through the final fight, along with a lack of textures on large parts of the environment. To fix this, shut off your console or go to the console menu and reload.
- If you side with the Templars then when you are making your way through the Templar Hall, the exit to the Gallows Prison is labeled "Templar Hall".
- After defeating Orsino, the cutscene for killing Orsino may loop indefinitely. Simply skip through it to continue the quest as normal.
- If an additional romance was initiated but not pursued, Varric might say both names simultaneously as he narrates the epilogue.
- If you started a romance with Anders, yet killed him after the Chantry explosion, Varric will still say in the epilogue that Anders never left your side.
- It can happen that you don't meet your sibling in Lowtown. Most likely, this happens if you take the small passage next to the southern stairs next to the meeting area.
- During the Orsino battle, there is a chance that a templar will get stuck behind the wall of fire, causing tactical glitches and preventing the fight from ending. Area of Effect spells or abilities will kill this templar.
- If Orsino is killed too early in the battle, there is a chance that the killing cut scene will not initiate and the barrier will not disperse, thus leaving the player stuck in that area. The only way to remedy this is by loading a previous save.
- xbox360 Before Orsino's third form as a Harvester, if you defeat the second form too quickly while he's jumping off and on the corner of the platform summoning the corpses, you will be stuck on the platform without Orsino returning and without a final health bar to drain. Opposite the corner which he leaps from, if you walk to the very edge, his final form will be stuck down below. A mage or ranged character with assigned "ranged" tactics will attack the air off the platform; repeated visits to the corner and changing camera angles will reveal Orsino's life bar slowly depleting. It will be a long battle, but your companions will only be inflicted with minor life draining spells.
- If you are fast enough and press the action button to talk to Orsino after halting the Templars' breach of the compound, you can initiate the conversation where he asks whether you're ready to fight. This could give you the opportunity to reform your party before the fight with Orsino. That being said, the cutscene of you making your pre-battle speech will show with cut-ins from Orsino turning into a Harvester.
- pc ps3 A companion who is not in the active party may disappear during the fight with Orsino and not reappear after the battle. However, they are not permanently dead, as they will join you again for the fight with Meredith.
- pc During the battle with Meredith, some NPC allies may spawn behind the closed gate leading to Kirkwall. They will be unable to join you in the actual battle.
- In the battle against Meredith and the statues the game may freeze when one of the statues leaps into the air. The only way to prevent this seems to be to not attack that statue until it completes it jump.
- If you damage Meredith fast enough, the cutscene where she animates the statues do not have a chance to fire, and she ends up stuck at 1 health forever, unable to die. To solve this, just don't damage her so quickly.
- If Fenris initially dissented (due to you siding with the mages), but later rejoined if convinced, he will still appear with the templars in the cutscene before Orsino's harvester transformation.
- xbox360 When the three mages surrendered and you replied their fate is not your decision, they will be executed by untextured flying templar helmets.
- pc (1.04) When recruiting your sibling into the final battle, they will hold on to any equipment you have given them previously; however they will lose any weapons from downloadable content that you have given them, even if it still displays them in the party selection screen. To resolve this, you will need to take the items off of them before ending the DLC and give it back to them when you re-recruit them - otherwise they will automatically have their default weapon.