Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Your party has the possibility of being composed of an ex-templar royal bastard, an illegal mage, an ex-bard turned Chantry sister from fantasy-France, a stern soldier giant (who likes swords), a Spanish elf assassin, an elderly Dead All Along mage, a drunken dwarf soldier who lost his honor and his wife, a golem, and a dog. Not to mention the possibility of the man who condemned most of your order and the last king to death at the hands of the darkspawn.
In Orzammar, one dwarf lampshades it when you ask how he knew who you were. He responds that it's not hard to spot the Warden and his "...eclectic entourage."
Like the above, Mithra, a Dalish guard at the start of "The Nature of the Beast" notes what odd company the Warden keeps.
The entire Grey Warden order appears to fit this, to some extent, looking at the list of names during the Warden's Keep DLC. Makes you wonder if any of the Archdemons ever really had any sort of chance to begin with.
And Awakening tries its hardest to follow suit. There's an apostate mage with an obsessive Templar out for his blood, a murderous elven hippie mage, a thief whose father is the noble who killed the Human Noble's family, a member of the Dwarven Legion of the Dead, a Fade spirit of Justice trapped in the body of a dead man, and a very nice Grey Warden recruit who dies the second she takes her Joining. Oh, and the drunk dwarf soldier from Origins returns as well.
Random Encounter: You are likely to have one, and only one, whenever traveling between major locations on the World Map. Some of them are beneficial or even tied to the main plot.
Randomly Drops: Certain enemies like Gaxkang have a chance of dropping unique items; if you fail to get it, you just need to reload before fighting them and keep beating them until you get it. The game also has a rather sadistic variation; certain chests have a chance of holding pieces of certain armor sets the Chevalier and Commander's Plate sets. This is set when you enter the area. If you fail to get it after fighting your way through whatever enemies are in your way –- tough luck. You have to reload outside of the area and try again. Adding insult to injury, the sets aren't even that great.
Rated "M" for Manly: True, you can play as a woman, but the trailers (among other things) seem to indicate this is BioWare's approach to marketing the game. And yet, the endgame seems to be most developed/complex for a female PC, if you romance Alistair. Actually somewhat subverted. Bioware games (particularly Mass Effect and Dragon Age) have been some of the most popular among female gamers. There are female characters who can kick every bit as much ass as the male characters, including in the trailers.
Real Is Brown: The most colorful thing in the game is the box art and Vanity Plates. And the blood. Especially when considering early screenshots:
Rape Discretion Shot: In the City Elf origin story, you don't see Shianni being raped but you do see her on the floor next to Vaughn, and dialog after the fact makes it pretty clear that this is what happened.
Religion Is Magic: Averted. Although the dwarves, the elves, and the humans all have their own faiths, none of these faiths are actualized with their own magics. The Chantry's templars, for instance, merely wield anti-magics. While the Urn of Sacred Ashes is capable of performing miracles, Oghren suggests the possibility that the large, unusually pure Lyrium vein not too far away inside the rock may be responsible for its powers.
Revenge Before Reason: Choosing Alistair as your Champion during the Landsmeet will cause him to immediately execute Loghain after winning the duel.
During the Human Noble Origin, they can declare they "want Howe dead NOW!", despite the fact that the Castle is being over-run by a veritable army of his soldiers. Later at the beginning of the Landsmeet they can openly state they are going to slit his throat in front of everyone present and during the storming of Howe's estate to rescue the Queen, Erlina can comment about the Human Noble putting their revenge ahead their intended goal.
If the Warden convinces Zathrian to cure the Werewolves of the curse, the Warden later get accosted by some Dalish Elves who still demand revenge on the Werewolves. If the Warden has a decent level of persuasion, they can remind the Dalish exactly what vengeance did to Zathrian and why he sacrificed himself to end the curse, having finally forgiven them after centuries of bitter hatred.
Right Through His Pants: Characters don't take their underwear off for sex scenes. Most of the scenes aren't completely unrealistic in that you can't really see what goes on below the belt -- at least, not when it matters. The only really odd thing would be how Morrigan seems to cover up a bit more...
Right Through the Wall: Being as the "walls" are tents, it's no surprise how quickly other party members catch on to your romantic adventures.
If the warden is romancing Alistair, Zevran can make Alistair uncomfortable by offering advice on how to improve, based on what he has overheard.
If the warden is romancing Zevran, Wynne can tell him/her that she almost wishes she was unaware of their relationship, because it's difficult to sleep with "the way you two carry on all night".
Also, one of the party dialogues while out on adventures will feature Oghren asking Zevran to confirm he's having a relationship with "the boss," then requesting that he try to keep it down.
Leliana can also comment on the fact that Morrigan's shrieking, sounds like a genlock being murdered. She then says they should try harder next time, the Anderfels(a nation FAR northwest of Ferelden, home to Grey Warden HQ) didn't hear.
The Couslands, who are descendants of kings and command only slightly less respect than Ferelden's actual royal family, send troops to fight the Blight. Said troops include their heir and would have included their patriarch, had he not been murdered by his supposed best friend.
Subverted with the dwarven nobility, despite waving around maces and wearing armour, spend far too much time bickering among themselves to actually do something about the Blight before the Warden arrives. The first Blight nearly destroyed Orzammar because they were all too busy fighting over whose thaig was more important! Paragon Aeducan pretty much had to launch a coup!
Played straight with the Dwarf Noble Warden. They may have been exiled, stripped of their name and caste, wiped from the Memories, but that doesn't mean for one second that's erased the blood of Paragon Aeducan running through their veins. While the rest of Orzammar was busy playing their petty power-games, the Dwarf Noble stormed the Deep Roads, found Paragon Branka and Caridin to settle once and for all who will become King, because the Grey Warden Treaty demands that they will help, dammit!
During the Landsmeet, Alistair and the Female Human Noble can be elected as King and Queen of Ferelden. There first act as a royalty couple? At the head of the army leading the charge to take down the Archdemon.
Running Gag: A variation. In every Dragon Age game so far, someone can (possibly) die by taking an ogre to the face. Cailan dies this way in Origins, Varel can die this way in Awakening and Bethany or Carver in Dragon Age II.
Another gag is foreign characters commenting that Ferelden "Smells like wet dog", to which the player character can respond in variants of "It does not smell like dog!"
The Warden: And garbage!
Sten: Yes, I was trying to forget that.
The Savage South: The Kocari Wilds in Dragon Age, which is full of barbarians. Ferelden is in southern Thedas and is considered the south border of the civilized world. But all the other northern countries, specially Orlais, think Fereldans are only one step above savages and only a bad day away from reverting to barbarism.
Ferelden might be in the south of Thedas, but in practice, it is Grim Up North, since Thedas is basically Fantasy Europe flipped upside-down. Conversely, the Anderfels, located in the north, are a land of ravaged steppes and forests, and are close to a region called the Donarks, which are also filled with jungles.
The endgame of Awakening has a very nasty one: You have to choose between saving Amaranthine or saving Vigil's Keep. If you choose the former, the companions you left at the keep may die.
This fate can be averted!As long as you do certain steps, you can save the keep and Amaranthine.The game will make you earn it. In order to save them both, you must first clear out the Vigil's Keep basement, which turns into a fairly large dungeon connecting to the Deep Roads, in order to seal off the tunnels from further Darkspawn threats. Next, pay the dwarf stonemason in the courtyard a truly absurd amount of money to hire laborers to repair the walls. Find a granite quarry to supply him with raw materials, and make absolutely sure you assign guards to the laborers to go and fetch it. Finally, find all of the ore deposits in the game and bring them to Wade to forge weapons and armor for your troops. It'll take quite a bit of work to take care of everything, but it'll be worth it when you read the Epilogue about the heroic defense. You'll know you've gotten it right if it's your first time playing it and you get the Enduring Vigil achievement.
Despite all your efforts, however, Sigrun (definitely) and Velanna and Justice (supposedly) will die if you leave them at the Keep and save Amaranthine, no matter if you got the Enduring Vigil achievement.
Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Qunari have a very strict caste system and don't really understand or like the idea that there might be other, equally viable, social organizations.
Sten: I don't understand your people. Your smiths want to be merchants, your merchants want to be nobles, and your nobles want to be royalty. Why is no one happy in their station?
Schmuck Bait: Loads of these: six black vials and three ominous gravestones (Soul Jars for nine boss-level Revenants); a deserted, inviting, and suspiciously pristine campsite in the Brecilian Forest (an illusion cast by a Shade to lure in prey); the gong atop the ancient temple of Andraste (summons the High Dragon for battle); and the stories of Gaxkang the Unbound (temptations to lure traveling the adventures into the clutches of a litch).
Schrodinger's Player Character: Averted hard. It's made clear that regardless of who you play as, most of the different origins' characters (the exception arguably being one of the City Elves, where it's questionable if Cyrion had two children who were both due to be married and were both heroes to Soris) do exist within the story, and that the events of all five of the other origins happen regardless of whichever one you choose to play as. The only difference between them is where Duncan happened to be at the time, implying that the PC was saved from their fate and recruited into the Wardens only because he happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Dwarf Commoner: During the Dwarf Noble origin, when the player converses with the Proving master, he/she will be asked if they came to watch the Provings; if the player replies "Wouldn't miss it", a proving trainer appears by the door. If conversed with, the proving trainer will talk about a huge scandal that happened at the last week's Proving, about some "casteless bruiser" impersonating Everd and winning the Provings, only to be busted by the semi-sober Everd. Also, upon coming/returning to Orzammar and exploring the carta hideout, The Warden (if they are not a Dwarf Commoner) finds Leske locked up in a cell. In the next cell over (the very same one the Dwarf Commoner player is imprisoned in during the origin story), there lies a dead dwarf. Leske says that the other dwarf stopped eating one day and died of starvation "all for a stupid bet", in an obvious reference to the Dwarf Commoner origin.
Dwarf Noble: Bhelen's plot and betrayal of his older siblings, and subsequently the succession crisis that occurs in the wake of King Endrin's death, happen whether or not the Dwarf Noble origin is played. If a Dwarf Commoner player eavesdrops on some NPC's conversations, King Endrin's "middle child" is mentioned a couple of times, since it takes place one week prior to the Dwarf Noble's origin story. Also, Gorim is always a merchant in Denerim, which implies that the events of the Dwarf Noble story that led to his exile happened anyway. During Orzammar, at least one of the Dwarf NPCs will mention Endrin's favorite as having been murdered, implying that the exiled Dwarf Noble eventually died in the Deep Roads without Duncan present to rescue them.
Human Noble: Arl Howe is always referred to as the "Teyrn of Highever" when his part comes up later in the story, so he usurps the Highever Teyrnir regardless of which origin is played. You can also learn about the Cousland family massacre from overheard NPC dialogue. If you are not a Human Noble, the houndsmaster will mention that Dog's previous owner was a young noble who got killed.
City Elf: Upon arrival at Denerim, the Warden learns that there is unrest in the Alienage, so it seems that the events of that origin story occurred anyway, leaving authorities to scour the Alienage. As Vaughan is always found alive in the dungeon of his estate, he was not killed during the uprising. Shianni is in the Alienage during the Battle of Denerim and the unrest, and based on her anger and agitation, she was probably still abducted and raped by Vaughan along with the other women at the would-be Warden's wedding. When the Arl of Denerim's estate is visited later in the game, some guards mention a group of elves that broke into the palace earlier, apparently in reference to the City Elf origin.
Magi: Regardless of which origin you play, you run into Jowan in the dungeons of Castle Redcliffe, and find out that he had poisoned Arl Eamon, which would mean that he escaped from the Circle either way. Presumably, the Mage gets punished in some other way -- either sent to Aeonar with Lily or turned into an abomination during the initial invasion.
Interestingly, the Mage origin is the only one in which the player could survive without Duncan's involvement, if he/she goes to Irving and tells him Jowan's plan before actually carrying it out. If you do this, Irving will intervene for you after Jowan escapes, explaining to Gregoir that he wanted to catch both Jowan and the Chantry initiate helping him red-handed. Gregoir splutters a bit on realizing he can't take action against you or Irving without revealing the corruption in the Chantry's ranks as well, and drops the matter... and then Duncan simply demands that the player join the Wardens, invoking the Right of Conscription if you force him to. The Grey Wardens do what they must.
Surviving the Origin story, perhaps. But remember that the tower is overrun with demons shortly thereafter...
The Witch Hunt DLC reveals that without Duncan's intervention, the Dalish Elf PC died from the sickness and Tamlen remained missing.
Sealed Evil in a Can: The black vial revenants and the "Asunder" pride demon. Bonus for the demon, which is cut up into pieces and "sealed" in separate containers, a la The Judge.
There's also a dragon magically sealed inside the throne room of the Orzammar Royal Palace, although finding it is a bit of a Guide Dang It.
Second Coming: Mostly within the lore of the game series itself: The Maker is prophesied to return and make his world a paradise once the Chant of Light has been sung from all the corners of the world.
Sequel Hook: The Where Are They Now? Epilogue is pretty blatant about this. It makes it very clear that your character's adventures are not over, and even the scenes before that leave plot threads just open enough to expand. Especially if you got the ending where the resident Dark Magic Girl goes off into the wilderness to raise your child the god with presumably interesting results in a decade or two. A conversation with Sten reveals that the Qunari are planning to invade Ferelden, which he implies will occur in the player character's lifetime. A more blatant example is the cards released with Dragon Age: Awakening; it has a picture of a dragon in the blood paint style and the numbers 2-01-11. The sequel (whose cover has a similar looking dragon on it) will come out in March 2011. This is subverted by the expansion game itself, which left sequel hooks hanging and distanced itself from all of the previous game's events and settings. Appearances of previous characters were in brief cameos, with vague references to their own role in the first game.
The Golems of Amgarrak contains a blatant sequel hook with a horde of Harvesters escaping from the thaig. One such creature appears in the trailer of DA 2. And the final scene in Witch Hunt DLC seems a bit like an ad for the sequel.
Bioware declared that the story of "The Hero of Ferelden" (the protagonist of Origins, and possibly Awakening, Go A, and WH too) is over. Surprising to some, who interpreted the ending of Origins and Witch Hunt as an opening for the Warden's return.
Seven Deadly Sins: Condensed into the main five types of demons encountered in the Fade: Rage (wrath), Hunger (gluttony), Sloth (also, according to the codex, envy), Desire (greed and lust), and Pride. Just as in real-life Christianity, Pride is considered the most evil of all by the Chantry because they are the most likely to gain full sentience and therefore more freely amass power.
Sex Equals Love: Averted within the gameplay, but played straight when it comes to unlocking the romance sidequest achievements: no matter how good your character's relationship with a companion is, he or she is not considered to have begun a romance with them until they have sex.
Shrug of God: The answer to why the player can import a character to Awakening even if he chose to sacrifice him/herself at the end of Origins.
"Shut Up" Kiss: One of many touching dialog options during a Romance Sidequest, as Leliana blabbers about how you let her go on and on about how much she likes you without telling her you like her back.
Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Counts for plenty of the appeal in both Alistair's and Leliana's Romance Sidequests. Alistair because, if female, YOU fall into this trope, and Leliana because, regardless of gender, she'll only like you if you're exceptionally sweet and considerate towards her and others.
Sketchy Successor: Regardless of who the player picks as King Endrin Aeducan's successor for Orzammar's throne in Dragon Age: Origins, he will be a considerably worse ruler than Endrin. Also, Maric Theirin is remembered as a lot better King of Ferelden than his son Cailan. Subverted with Alistair if you "harden" his personality and make him King: in that case, he becomes a ruler much better than everyone expected, perhaps on par with his dad.
During the Sacred Urn quest, you can completely avoid fighting Kolgrim by agreeing to help him. Also, one of the toughest bosses in the game, the High Dragon who resides on the mountaintop, can be avoided by... just not waking it up.
If your Warden is a mage and you choose to go into the Fade yourself to save Connor, you can avoid fighting the Desire Demon at the end by agreeing to converse with it instead.
In the Brecilian Forest, the Grand Oak and the Mad Hermit will each try to get you to kill the other to settle their dispute over the Grand Oak's acorn. You could kill one of them...or you could just trade the Hermit one of the items you picked up from various sidequests earlier in the level for the acorn.
The Tevinter mage Caladrius will offer to leave quietly (and even provide you with a key piece of evidence for the Landsmeet)...as long as you let him keep the elves he's abducted to turn into slaves.
So Long and Thanks For All the Gear: Alistair, Morrigan, Zevran, Wynne, Shale, and Leliana will leave your party with whatever gear they've got if you make certain decisions with them in the party; the first two will leave depending on decisions you make towards the endgame. Averted with some temporary companions (Teyrna Eleanor Cousland, Lily, Jowan, Ser Jory, Daveth, possibly others) who drop their gear into your inventory, possibly because they either don't die when they leave the party or when they died, you remained conscious).
Solo Class: A few examples. First is the Arcane Warrior, a heavily armored mage who gets abilities that allow them to seriously reduce or totally nullify all damage and they also have access to heals and powerful offensive spells. Then there's the rogue. Properly built, a rogue can become essentially immune to melee damage, and resist all but the most powerful spells.
The Warden, Morrigan, and Sten successfully invoke this trope when trapped in the Fade by the Sloth Demon.
The Warden's first clue something isn't right and that he/she's in the Fade is that Duncan is still alive despite getting mauled by an Ogre and getting an axe to the face.
Morrigan's first hint that she's trapped in the Fade is that the Sloth demon attempts to copy Flemeth... badly. The Flemeth in the Fade seems to be hurt by the barbs slung by Morrigan. Which is an immediate giveaway if you have even seen them talk to each other for more than five seconds.
Sten finds himself in a nightmare with demons impersonating two of the Qunari soliders he came to Ferelden with. He informs the Warden that he knows none of this is real, adding that he remembers seeing one of the men get his head torn off by darkspawn. Despite this realization, he didn't try to leave because his life is such crap. "I know it's a dream, Warden... but it's a good dream."
If you pay attention in the Mage Origin, you'll notice that your companion, who is claiming to be a Circle apprentice lost to the Fade, isn't wearing the apprentice robes... He's wearing senior enchanter's robes. Well, he is a Pride demon, after all.
To start the Urn of Sacred Ashes quest, you have to seek out Brother Genitivi in Denerim. He isn't there, but his assistant, Weylon, is. Weylon is actually an impostor, however, and if the player has high enough Cunning, they can call him on the inconsistencies in his claims, forcing him to out himself and attack.
Squishy Wizard: Bioware avowed that they would stop tank mages (a mage with the power of a mage and the survivability of the warrior) before the release, but evidently they were lying, as you can subvert it HARD with two specializations: Blood Mage (which lets you use hitpoints to cast spells, encouraging you to dump stat points into health instead of mana) and Arcane Warrior (which lets you use your Magic stat to equip armor, weapons, and shields). A lot of people like to just grab both. And then there's Battlemage in Awakening, where aside from a few ridiculously powerful spells you can get a passive ability that gives you mana when you take damage... including casting while Blood Magic is active...
Star-Crossed Lovers: Every female Origin story has a Love Interest (although not necessarily -- romances depend on your dialogue choices). None of them end well. As follows:
In the Human Noble origin, you can choose to have a sexual encounter with one of two certain characters. Regardless of which one of them you choose, they will be brutally slaughtered when the castle is ambushed that same night, though you don't see the one you didn't bed down with.
If you ask Iona about her daughter while chatting with her, said daughter will appear in the Alienage later in the game, regardless of whether you slept with Iona or not. She will be sitting on a pile of refuse and wondering plaintively when Mommy is coming back from Highever. Seeing as how this scene will play out at least a few months (and possibly as long as a year) after your origin story, it doesn't look good for Iona either way.
In the Dwarf Noble origin, as a female PC, it is explicitly shown that she and Gorim are romantically involved (unless the player chooses otherwise in dialogue), though it is also made clear that they are forbidden to marry because he is socially beneath her. Later in the game, the player can find him in Denerim, only to be informed that he has already married another woman and is expecting a child with her, and he breaks off the relationship for good. A male Dwarf Noble, on the other hand, has the option of having a sexual encounter with two "noble hunting" women during the origin story; but it's quite clear that these ladies only want to sleep with him because of his status, and for their own personal gain, because they want to get knocked up and have his kid so they can live in the palace. Gets even more star-crossed by the fact that if the player does choose to sleep with them, one of them does end up catching and bearing him a child, but because he got himself exiled literally the day after he slept with her, the child is casteless and when the player encounters her again later in the game, she bitches at him and blames him for her misery and accuses him of ruining her life and all that. Go figure.
The City Elf origin starts with the arrival of your arranged match, but then a human noble lord comes and ruins your wedding and kidnaps the women for his "party". If your character is female, then your fiance ends up being murdered by the lord's men trying to rescue you (you can even loot your wedding ring off his body). If your character is male and you manage to rescue your fiancee, she breaks off your engagement and essentially dumps you, saying "Grey Warden can't have wives or families". She notes rather sorrowfully that "I guess we'll never know what might have been."
In the Mage origin, it is quite obvious that the templar Cullen is infatuated with the female player character, although if the player tries to proposition him for sex, he'll get incredibly nervous and run away. Later in the game, when the templars are overthrown and the tower is taken over by rebellious blood mages, the player will find that Cullen is the only templar on the upper floors who has not been slaughtered -- when the female mage player finds him again, he will outright reveal his infatuation for her, but because of the psychological torture he has endured, he has developed a burning, immense hatred for all mages and pretty much rejects the player because he doesn't care for her anymore, whether or not you side with him.
In the Dalish Elf Origin, female PCs can suggest you're romantically interested in your hunting partner, Tamlen. After encountering a taint-infecting mirror, Tamlen disappears and you leave your clan. You encounter him half-turned into a Shriek, the elf version of a darkspawn, and unable to resist the "song" of the Archdemon. He confesses he always loved you, then attacks.
Even Leske of the Dwarf Commoner Origin gets a reference as having tried to sleep with you (and failed the attempt) earlier. He later betrays you to Jarvia, and you are forced to kill him.
Another example: If Alistair is made king, he will break off his relationship with the PC. Only a Human Noble has a chance of persuading Alistair to marry her due to Thedas's extreme Fantastic Racism. If Alistair's personality has been hardened, the other Origins can convince him to keep the PC as his mistress, but the option will only come up if the correct dialogue path is chosen. If Anora is chosen as solo queen, the romance continues unimpeded... unless Alistair performs a Heroic Sacrificeto save you.
Jowan and Lily in the mage origin. The origin story ends with Jowan attempting to protect Lily from the templars by using blood magic, which causes her to reject him. He escapes to become a fugitive mage, while Lily is taken away to the mage's prison, after which nothing is ever heard of her again. You will encounter Jowan again later in the game, and if your PC is of the Mage origin, he will ask you if you know what has become of Lily. The only option of telling him about it is saying that you don't know, much to his dismay.
Seems to be the entire point of the Morrigan romance.
Prince Bhelen and Rica, arguably, depending on your choices. Though she is only his concubine, it's heavily implied that they have genuine feelings of strong affection for each other (or, at least, she certainly does for him). If you side with Harrowmont during the Orzammar quest and make him king, Bhelen attacks you in a rage and you are forced to kill him, which leaves Rica heartbroken and her life in tatters.
Stealth Pun: The Denerim Alleyway encounter where Taliesen attacks you has a couple of crows hopping about on the ground.
Sticks to the Back: All shields and weaponry. Apparently the sword belt was never invented in Ferelden. Well, at least an actual sword belt: there is a "sword belt" item in the game but it's just a + strength belt.
Stop Poking Me: Clicking on Ariane in the Witch Hunt DLC too often will lead her to offhandedly remark that when she was young she would break the fingers of those who poked her.
Stripperiffic: Largely averted. While a handful of female mooks have revealing clothing, and there are moderately Stripperiffic options for a female Warden, most of the named female NPCs are dressed quite sensibly. The exception, of course, is Morrigan -- one can only assume that her shapeshifting powers allow her to secrete Krazy Glue, because there's no other way that outfit should stay on in combat. Amusingly, her scanty garb is often lampshaded by the other NPCs in background conversations.
Morrigan: So are you going to continue staring at me as if I am covered in eels?
Sten: Eels would be something.
The Chasind Robes you can find at the end of the "Signs of the Chasind" sidequest, but, oddly, only if equipped on a woman, in which case they suddenly have a big Cleavage Window and what looks like fishnet stockings.
Also a random encounter with Zevran. There is no way to avoid an ambush (which is pretty obvious, even if you play the first time). If you try to flank your enemies, the cutscene kicks in and your team walks straight into it, like a band of total morons...
A major plot driver in Awakening: The opening involves a darkspawn attack on Vigil's keep using a tunnel network, and a quest chain is dedicated to closing off their access. Absolutely no-one thinks the smuggler tunnel leading from outside Amaranthine into the heart of the city poses any further problem than posed by the smugglers themselves. Guess how the Darkspawn get in at the end.
Succession Crisis: Occurs twice. It happens after King Cailan meets with death at the beginning of the game, and serves as a Chekhov's Gun. This trope is also the entire plot of the Orzammar part of quest, where the nobles are unable to decide on a successor to the late king and the Warden has to help resolve the situation in order to get the dwarves' help, because it's such a massive problem for them that it's causing everyone to slaughter each other.
Suicidal Overconfidence: Occasionally lampshaded (even provides a page quote for this trope), but mostly played straight.
Talking Is a Free Action: It's awfully nice of the final boss to sit there on the brink of death while you and Alistair have a long chatabout who will make the Ultimate Sacrifice. (Of course, it is on the brink of death.) It's also possible in some cases to accidentally select a comrade in battle and end up having a conversation about local legends or liking swords while the darkspawn or bandits you were just fighting presumably stand around waiting for you to finish.
Most prevalent in the Arl of Redcliffe quest. It's set up as a fairly straightforward Sadistic Choice, wherein you must either kill the demonic Connor or sacrifice his mother in order to save Connor by killing the demon directly in the Fade. However, you can demand that somebody come up with another way, leading to the suggestion of seeking the Circle of Magi's help.
Taken for Granite: The oracle Eleni Zinovia, who was turned to stone for foretelling the fall of the House of Valerius.
The Brothers of Stone from Awakening, who were turned into statues after they sacrificed a Tevinter magister to the god of the Wending Wood.
Take Your Time: Played straight, but some party members will complain if they think you're getting distracted.
"Some party members" including the player character. "Perhaps I should begin reading, since we've stopped?"
Most important with Sten, whose stress point is asking you whether there is any point in assing around Ferelden the way you have. Depending on whether you've completed his loyalty mission, he may either voice his concerns or attempt a coup.
You could take a round-trip tour of the nation out of Orzammar and back, and the momentous, plot-critical tournament is still "this afternoon!"
On some maps, NPCs hostile to each other can be seen arranged in the next room. They'll stand peacefully by as long as your characters remain out of range.
The only exception -- the battle in Redcliffe. If you leave, you will come back to a ghost town.
A Tankard of Moose Urine: Awakening's Dragon Piss gift for Oghren: "The name is probably figurative, but no one knows for sure."
Tattooed Crook: Casteless dwarves are marked so that everyone can recognize them as "thieves & beggars". This, however, results in them becoming crooks, because they can't do anything else legally. Society really is to blame in their case.
Tautological Templar: The Templars will execute anyone who is a mage but not a member of the Circle of Magi because there is a chance that they may know forbidden magic. However, they are revered as heroes since they are the militant wing of the setting's dominant religion.
Teaser Equipment: Origins features Blood Dragon Armor. Although you receive the breastplate for free early on, you must purchase the rest of the set for massive amounts of money. Even if you could afford it early, you still wouldn't be able to equip it until you gain more levels.
Technical Pacifist: The Dalish are nomadic and never stay in one place too long to avoid conflict. The Keeper even says that they could destroy a nearby Human village who are rallying a mob to drive them out, if they so wished, but that would only cause King Cailan to send soliders next time, thus it is wiser to simply move on.
Thunderbolt Iron: A random encounter shows a meteor crater, where a couple of farmers finds a young boy and adopts him. The player can take the remains of the meteor and give it to the blacksmith at Soldier's Peak to be made into one of the most powerful swords in the game (either a longsword or a greatsword) -- Starfang. The weapon has an exotic look and appears to glow.
Too Dumb to Live: Occasionally, someone will try to cut a deal with you, then attack you when you say "no dice". Most of the time, this is excusable, but there's a few times where they really ought to know better. The bad guy in the City Elf origin, for example, notes that you're covered in the blood of the guards you just killed and tries to reason with you to weasel out of your vengeance, then attacks if you say "screw you, human!" And then there's Sgt. Kylon's famous quote...
Arl Howe. Because when you're confronted by the Human Noble whose entire family you brutally had murdered, who's survived waves of assassins you yourself have sent after them, countless legions of Darkspawn, Dragons, Ogres, Demons, and the biggest and most brutal creatures Thedas can muster... do you really think it's wise to taunt them about how you killed their parents?
Rylock from Awakening, the overzealous Templar pursuing Anders, who is determined to bring him in to face justice for the deaths of the Templars who were guarding him during the Darkspawn attack on the Vigil. While she's claims that Chantry law supercedes the Crown in matters regarding Mages, she's convieniently forgotten that part where the Crown merely accepted that they cannot deny a Grey Warden who has invoked the "Right of Conscription". The Chantry certainly does not allow her to foolishly attempt to murder the Warden for refusing to hand Anders over, either.
Tragic Monster: When you encounter the elven woman Danyla, she has completed her transformation into a werewolf and will insist that the player kill her -- if not voluntarily, she attacks to force your hand. However, there is a possible way to achieve a happy ending for her; if you avoid her on the way into the Lady's lair and then convince the werewolves you'll help them attack the elves, her husband goes to find her and convinces her to infect him so they can remain together as fellow wolf-creatures. And don't think you can simply ignore her and then go on to get Zathrian to end the werewolf curse. Danyla will just vanish afterwards.
Although the codex entry and dialouge afterwards indicates that with the curse ended, she would have returned to being an elf. You never see her, but he does run off to look for her.
Transformation Is a Free Action: Before attacking Connor and Flemeth, your party will patiently wait for them to transform into a more powerful form. Unfortunately, your enemies are not so stupid polite, and they will attack your shapeshifter, possibly interrupting the transformation.
Trickster Mentor: Mouse, aka the Pride Demon the mage Player Character encounters in the Fade, has a few shades of this. Had you failed the test, you would most certainly have died while unleashing a demon upon Ferelden, but having passed it, he seems to have no ill will against you. Despite the fact that he could easily have killed you at that point, he not only lets you live, but he gives your character some good advice as well.
Actually, depending on the dialogue options you take, the game heavily implies that Mouse was the test, as agreeing to help the spirit gain a foothold in the real world meant possession and therefore the fate you were trying to avoid.
True Companions: Get your party members' affection high enough, and it'll trigger dialogue which affirms the strength of the relationship.
Turn the Other Cheek: In possibly one of gaming's most interesting dilemmas, Teyrn Loghain causes the deaths of your mentor and king, poisons Arl Eamon, allows Elves to be sold into slavery, lets Arl Howe get away with mass murder, and spends the majority if the main quest line framing you for crimes he committed and trying to kill you to maintain the cover-up. And despite all that, you can choose to forgive him, or at least sentence him to recruitment into the Grey Wardens, losing Alistair in the process after he'd been your loyal traveling companion since the start of the game. And due to the the game's Grey and Gray Morality, this isn't treated as evil as one might think, as Loghain, once he comes to his senses, actually proves to be a decent and honorable person who just wanted what was best for the country he loved so much.
Twenty Bear Asses: A Chantry board quest demands corpse gall for research purposes. You can give them a smaller amount -- just about what you'll get from fighting your way up to Connor in Castle Redcliffe, or a larger amount for more gold. Without carefully combing the map for corpses, it's impossible to get all of the galls before the climax.
Twincest: Alluded to, not so subtly, between brother and sister fighting team Myaja and Lucjan:
Lucjan: The ancestors gave us one soul, but two bodies. Everything we do, we do together.
Grey Warden: Everything? You mean even...?
Lucjan: That's a little personal, don't you think?
Ultimate Blacksmith: Wade, a stuffy artistic diva of an armorer in the city of Denerim. Perfectly accessible in his shop at almost any time, he only does his best work when "inspired" by the Warden bringing him rare materials, and is almost intolerable otherwise. When you're holding Vigilance in your hands, though, you will want to have his children. Mikhail Dryden, once you've completed Soldier's Peak, will also make one of the finest swords in the original game.
Un-Equal Rites: A long time ago, a powerful nation called the Tevinter Imperium once conquered nearly all of the known world by using an extremely dangerous sorcery called Blood Magic which allowed them to broker deals with and summon demons as well as use a powerful form of Mind Control. Eventually, their reign was toppled by the appearance of The Blight, which struck the Empire from nowhere and left them crippled. Most of the world's nations were formed by barbarian clans that rebelled against the weakened Empire, and the followers of those early rebels quickly formed a religion called The Chantry. The Blight continues to plague the world to this day, and the Chantry teachings blame magic for unleashing it. Because of this, mages in general are treated as worse than dirt, and any mage that is not under the direct control of the Chantry is labeled as an apostate which is to be killed on sight. Worse than them are the "Maleficar", which are simply apostates which use the hated Blood Magic which unleashes demons and once enslaved the world.
Un Entendre: A gem of banter between Alistair and Oghren where Oghren advises Alistair to relieve his stress by "Polishing the Old weapon, Eh." Alistair is disgusted, but as the conversation goes on, it turns out Oghren is talking about polishing a weapon. Maybe.
And between Oghren and Wynne, about Alistair's pike-twirling hobby. Mind you, it is exactly what it sounds like -- twirling a pike of the sort used to stick charging horses and such. Though, where Alistair found a pike...
Unfamiliar Ceiling: This happens to The Warden after the slaughter at Ostagar, right down to the questions and the shirtlessness.
The Unintelligible: Most darkspawn can only communicate in guttural growls and roars. The appearance of darkspawn that CAN talk is treated as incredibly dangerous in Awakening, and indeed it is: the darkspawn are an exceptionally deadly threat when the Archdemon organizes them into a Blight, but they're generally easy to deal with otherwise. If the darkspawn can suddenly reason enough to lead themselves without an Archdemon, it would mean an unending Blight.
Traps actually are a very effective way to kill one Bonus Boss because Flemeth is non-aggressive. You can easily use this time to surround the combat area, and when the boss becomes hostile...they all go off on her.
Useless Useful Spell: Curse of Mortality is probably the perfect example of a spell that, despite the fact that it works exactly the same way for players and enemies, is obscenely powerful in enemy hands, and mostly useless (or at least underpowered) for the player. Getting hit with it results in the target being unable to have their health, stamina, or mana restored by any means for thirty seconds, on top of doing damage over time. Used in combat, it is essentially an unavoidable death sentence on any creature upon which it is cast, barring quick use of a dispel magic effect, and it's not even a top-ranked spell, so you can get it fairly early in the game (and nearly every magic-wielding opponent from mid-game onward will be able to cast it). Unfortunately, your opponents seldom bother to heal themselves anyhow, relying instead on armor and massive amounts of health to stay alive long enough to pose a threat, not to mention the fact that they can die by the dozens and keep sending in more troops, whereas you get a game over if you lose four party members in one fight.
Vendor Trash: Blank vellum, certain gems, and things like fancy vases and carpets.
Vestigial Empire: The Tevinter Imperium, which never recovered from the First Blight, Andraste's rebellion, and the Qunari invasion.
The Dwarven empire is even worse. It's down to two city-states that hate each other, and the Darkspawn are slowly but surely encroaching on their territory. Fortunately, if you're playing a Dwarf Warden, in the epilogue you can convince the ruler of Ferelden to send military aid to Orzammar, and they begin reclaiming a lot of lost territory. Even a non-dwarf Warden can put Bhelen on the throne, who militarizes the casteless and lets the dwarves begin to push the Darkspawn back.
Victor Gains Loser's Powers: There's a portion of the Broken Circle quest that plays like a massive homage to Mega Man. The hero must defeat (or aid) 5 individuals to gain their powers, then use said powers to track down and defeat a sub-boss for each of the 5 areas. The end-boss of the sequence completes the Mega Man homage with a Boss Rush consisting of all the previous sub-bosses before you can fight his "true form".
Video Game Caring Potential: The relationships with your allies. Depending on the player, you'll probably find yourself liking at least one of your party members and going to great lengths to work up to 100% affection, because they're just that awesome/sweet/nerdy/snarky/badass. Often subverted with many NPCs; doing a good deed with no expectation of reward results in -- no reward. For blatantly shaking people down for their rescues, the game rewards you, without punishment. You're free to insult them or hurt their feelings or otherwise be a complete Jerkass while doing your duty; the results are pretty much the same for not caring.
Walking bomb. God, those wet thuds are satisfying. Even gets its own Shout-Out in the trailer. Better yet, the upgraded version; virulent walking bomb. Combined with Waking Nightmare, it's probably the most brutally hilarious crowd control technique in the game.
Good old Blood Wound. Ripping out the blood of your enemies: brutal and practical.
It is entirely possible during one of the side-quests to go up to certain women, steal all of their coin, and then callously tell them that their husbands are dead. Then you watch them run off in tears, utterly heartbroken, with their money now weighing down your purse.
If playing as a Human Noble, it's possible to taunt Arl Howe (who killed your parents, sister-in-law, and nephew) just before fighting him, telling him that after he's dead, you're going to hunt down and murder his wife and children. However, he laughs off your taunt, and in response he "shows you how it's done", giving a spiteful description how he killed your parents.
And if that wasn't enough, The Darkspawn Chronicles is essentially an entire DLC dedicated to this. Smash, decapitate, and all-around massacre your way through a ton of the original campaign's characters!
Viking Funeral: Standard in at least Ferelden to prevent demons from possessing the bodies.
The Virus: The Blight. A taint carried by the darkspawn that poisons the lands they inhabit. People tainted by this go crazy and die, or become decaying ghouls in the thrall of the archdemon -- or worse, if they're women, become broodmothers.
Voluntary Shapeshifting: The shapeshifting specializtion. If you talk to Morrigan about it, she explains that shapeshifting merely requires detailed study of the animal in question. When asked if she could shapeshift into another human's form, she states that since she's already human, studying other humans wouldn't be of any benefit and is thus not worth the effort.
The Ogre at the top of the tower will be a huge kick in the teeth to players who insist on playing this game like Diablo. Tip: Shield bash the ogre whenever he grabs someone and he lets go. Just remember to take Bash off of tactics so it's ready when you need to use it.
Actually, you can set a shield-using character to use Shield Bash like this automatically.
The first floor of the beacon tower at Ostagar. Mages using Fireball and archers behind barricades will slaughter you if you don't know how to get out of the firing line.
According to David Gaider, the game's lead writer, Jowan was originally supposed to be a joinable party member after the events in Redcliffe ,as the main character could have invoked the Right of Conscription when speaking to Arl Eamon in order to recruit him. However, they didn't have room to add another character, so the idea was scrapped.
Originally, there was the possibility that some of your party members could become infected with the darkspawn taint and they would participate in The Joining ritual in Denerim after the Landsmeet. However, the idea was dropped and your companions' immunity to the taint is purely due to gameplay necessity.
There were originally going to be two more origin stories: a human commoner story (you would have been a farmer's son from Redcliffe, owed Dwyn a lot of money, and had your sister Brigid engaged to him to take care of the debt), and a human Avvar barbarian story. The concept art and fluff for these origins made it into the tabletop RPG, though.
The Blood Mage specialization originally had some unique scenes on the basis that most groups kill Blood Mages on sight. Certain situations seem very silly without those scenes as a result.
Alistair serves you a textbook example of this trope if you kill Connor or Isolde during the Redcliffe quest. If you spare Loghain at the Landsmeet, he even leaves the party. Unless, of course, you execute him.
What You Are in the Dark: If the Grey Warden is a mage, he or she can travel into the Fade to slay the demon possessing Connor Guerrin. When you confront the demon, it will offer to cut a deal with you instead, and will explicitly point out that, if you agree, no one but the two of you will ever know.
Worthy Opponent: Strongly implied to be the relationship between Greagoir and Irving. Irving is the highest authority in the Circle Tower, but Greagoir has the authority to issue a kill order on any of its residents.
Some have speculated that Morrigan's way of speaking might be due to the fact that, since she's spent most of her life in the middle of the Korcari Wilds, far away from civilisation, the only way she learnt English was from incredibly old books provided to her by Flemeth, hence her rather archaic language. Her rather sing-song way of speaking likely also comes from her having learnt to talk via metre.
Some of the subtle pauses in her dialogue also appear to be spoken in iambic pentameter.
Morrigan: If you don't mind, I will prepare, something, to eat.
You Can't Thwart Stage One: Regardless of your actions, Ostagar will be a bloodbath. Likewise, all the horrible crap that leads up to you becoming a Warden of whatever origin will happen no matter what. The most you can do in some cases is blunt the bloodshed a bit.
You Kill It, You Bought It: In Awakening, the Warden is given Arl Howe's title of Arl of Amaranthine. You may also be awarded the teyrnir of Gwaren, depending on the boon you ask at the end of the game. Meaning you can be the King/Queen of Ferelden, teyrn/a of Gwaren, Arl/essa of Amaranthine, and heir to the teyrnir of Highever, since your brother, the new Teyrn, is without issue at this point. When you go for your Calling, there's gonna be significant political upheaval...
You Lose At Zero Trust: Effects range from negative combat modifiers to the character leaving the party to the character siding against the party.
You Shall Not Pass: If playing as a Mage that has heavily invested in the Primal spell tree, you can combine serveral spells to create the "Storm of the Century", the Thedasian equivalent of dropping a tactical nuke on your enemies. Casting it on the Alienage Bridge during the Battle of Denerim can then have the Warden simply sit back and watch as it obliterates legions of Darkspawn attempting to Zerg Rush across. It's as awesome as it sounds.
Zerg Rush: What the game does to you rather often.