Just outside the north end of Lothering proper, a Qunari warrior named Sten has been imprisoned for killing a family. The Warden can convince him to seek atonement by joining the battle against the Blight, but must find a way to release him from the cage.
Speak with Sten in his cage. He is dismissive of most conversational options, but he may clarify that he would rather die in battle than in a cage. Regardless of how the conversation goes, most companions vocally disapprove of his situation and support releasing him.
You can open the cage in several ways:
- If the Warden has Mechanical Expertise or at least 20 Cunning (or Leliana is in the party,) you can pick the cage's lock. (PC v1.05: a Cunning score of 11 is sufficient)
- You can persuade the Revered Mother to release Sten into the Warden's custody. This is easier if you make a donation to the Chantry, gaining Leliana (+2). However, if Leliana is in the party, she alone convinces the Revered Mother to hand over the key.
- You can intimidate the Revered Mother into handing over the key. Whether or not this succeeds, it amuses Morrigan (+4), but offends Alistair (-13), and severely disappoints Leliana ( (-15)).
- pcOn PC, Leliana does not lose any approval.
- macOn a MAC, Leliana grants +2 approval.
- In older versions of the game, you may be able to steal the key from the Revered Mother. A patch has fixed this.
Return to Sten's cage and release him.
Sten becomes available as a companion.
- 250 XP for opening the cage
- This bug can only be exploited by a Warden with less than 35 Strength and no Coercion skill. Otherwise, the intimidation succeeds, the quest progresses, and the exploit ceases to be available. It's possible to gain maximum approval from Morrigan before freeing Sten. Every time you attempt to intimidate the Revered Mother, Morrigan expresses her appreciation for the entertainment. Simply choose the intimidation option, fail, end the dialogue, then start another. This yields (+4) each time. Repeat until maximum approval is reached.
- Leave Alistair out of the party for this; he will not only disapprove, but also convince the Revered Mother to give you the key regardless, making the exploit unavailable.
- (potentially, depending on game version) However you manage to get the key and open Sten's cage, there is a way to continually exploit the quest for the XP bonus. To start the exploit, choose the first few dialogue options, informing Sten you're a Grey Warden, and freeing him from the cage, he will say "And so it is done. I will follow you into battle," and the last five of the dialogue options will become available. When you choose the last of the 5 options, "I don't want your help; you are free to go," Sten will make some remark that although the cage is open it doesn't mean he will leave it. You will get 250 XP for completing the quest, but the quest will not actually be finished until you have him try to join your party, thus allowing you to do this as many times as you want.