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Morrigan is one of the most mysterious characters to grace the Dragon Age universe. The seductive mage keeps everyone guessing about her true intentions, and knows more than she lets on. If the cheers following her appearance in Dragon Age: Inquisition’s E3 trailer are any indication, fans are glad to have her back. With so many questions lingering, including Morrigan’s whereabouts since performing the dark ritual to conceive a child, Inquisition is her chance to return to glory. Not only do we catch you on to speed on Morrigan, but we also sat down with BioWare to discuss the creation of one of the most-discussed Dragon Age characters and her role in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
How Morrigan Came To Be
Lead writer David Gaider’s initial vision for Morrigan was vastly different from the defiant and vociferous woman he presented in Dragon Age: Origins. Strangely enough, Gaider first wrote Morrigan much like her nemesis: Flemeth, the woman who raised her. “Remember meeting Flemeth and she’s talking in circles and kind of out there? I had Morrigan kind of the same way,” says lead writer David Gaider. “She would never give you anything straight.”
Gaider wanted players to wonder what she was talking about every time she opened her mouth, but soon decided with the team that the whimsical Morrigan just wasn’t working. Gaider had to completely rewrite her, and he liked the idea of having a character speak obtusely, so he came up with a compromise. “I decided rather than make her like Flemeth, [I’d] make her a teenage girl who just resents her mother. [She’s] completely blunt because she doesn’t like that her mother talks in circles,” Gaider says.
With one hurdle for Morrigan overcome, the team was on to the next: Finding the perfect voice. BioWare considers this one of the most critical elements to a character. “Morrigan took forever to cast,” Gaider says. At one point BioWare settled on a different voice actress, but like Morrigan’s initial conception, decided she just wasn’t working for what they envisioned. But then Claudia Black (the actress who portrays Aeryn Sun in Farscape) came along in an unexpected way. “She did not actually audition for Morrigan,” Gaider says. Instead, Black sent in a recording she had done to let BioWare know she’d be interested in future projects. “We listened to it and were like, ‘that would be perfect.’ And of course I watched Farscape, so that was just great,” Gaider recalls.
Even with time away, Black came back for Inquisition’s trailer and delivered exactly what BioWare needed. “She falls right into that space again and she just has that whiskey voice that works so well,” Gaider says. “Every now and then you get a voice actor who just hits it out of the park the first time and makes what you wrote better,” Gaider adds.
The Morrigan We Know
Fans quickly became captivated by Morrigan’s mystique and sharp tongue, especially in her banter with fellow party member Alistair. Part of what makes Morrigan tick is her backstory and position within the Dragon Age world. Magic is feared in Thedas, and as a way to have keep their power in check, all mages are required to enroll in the Circle of Magi. Unsurprisingly, Morrigan refuses to comply, making her an apostate – a rogue mage – isolated from civilization. Morrigan’s upbringing is drastically different than most characters you encounter in Dragon Age, and she clearly hasn’t had many interactions or relationships with others because of it.
Most noticeably, Morrigan has a strained relationship with Flemeth, but Morrigan is unsure if the witch is actually her mother. When your caretaker is a legendary shapeshifting witch who is rumored to kill men through fear alone, it’s hard not to pick up on her tactics and resent her power. Whether Morrigan or Flemeth can be trusted is a lingering question, as they always seem to have ulterior motives.
Morrigan’s cryptic personality has worked well for the story and something Gaider deliberately wanted. “I had Morrigan talk a lot about herself in Dragon Age: Origins, and considering how [Origins] ended, players walked away thinking, ‘how much of that is true?’” Gaider says. “You’d be foolish to recognize [her enigmatic qualities] and then not have her take advantage of it, right? She knows the power that she has...”
Morrigan presents players with a big choice before the final battle against the Archdemon in Origins. She claims that a certain dark ritual would allow her to conceive a child and save a Grey Warden from having to make a grave sacrifice. She explains that the essence of the Archdemon, once it is slain, will go into the unborn child. Morrigan believes the child will then have the soul of an Old God. Male players are given the option of conceiving a child with Morrigan themselves, but even if they refuse, the other Grey Wardens of the world may not have the same resolve. After the final battle, Morrigan leaves and the child’s fate is unknown.
Morrigan’s departure to continue her mission was something Gaider felt strongly about. “From my perspective, making a strong female character is about having her have her own agenda,” Gaider says. “The most important thing for me when I wrote [Origins] was that at the end even if Morrigan loved the player, she had this thing that she believed in, that was so important that she would do it regardless of the player. And I think that a lot of players expected that she would bend herself to do whatever they wanted because they’ve done the romance, gotten her approval up, and of course she would just sort of follow their destiny. But Morrigan has her own destiny.”
Up next: Morrigan's place in Dragon Age: Inquisition....
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