Once you’ve decided to step into the dark fantasy world of Ferelden, you’ll quickly discover that relationship skills are key. While your character origin is uniquely yours, defining what happens to your character will depend on a combination of two things: the absolute fundamentals of your character choice and the statistics you begin with and generate randomly as your adventure into Ferelden becomes more complex. Because the game includes a stunning twenty-four possible permutations and special benefits for each class of character and chosen background, you’ll need to develop some advanced skills above and beyond the ability to kill often and well.
Experiencing multiple playthroughs is the best way to fully immerse yourself in Ferelden. Of course, you won’t need encouragement to be there, or to remain there. While killing enemies is a primary activity in this bloody and gritty environment, Dragon Age: Origins is all about relationships. You will develop these as you play the game, and the kinds of relationships you nurture will go far in determining what happens to you. There are friendships to nurture as well as romances. Your relationships can be as complex or simple as you like- gender relationships in Ferelden are open to complexity. But key to relationships will include your treatment of others and the gifts you give to them. Give the right gift to the right character at the right time and you may get a boost. Give the wrong gift to a character or treat them badly and you can expect to get a bump down.
The truth is that you need maximum influence in Ferelden. You need to know who to give gifts to and how they’ll react to them. Gifts influence character behaviors. Maximum influence gives you more strength and gaming capabilities. It’s all about strategy over and above the action, but you’ll have to be willing to accept some possible spoilers to identify the gifts and how to use them to your best advantage.
Some general observations:
- Gifts have different levels of influence. Unwanted gifts begin at the 5+ points level. Additional unwanted gifts lose one point from 4 down to 1.
- Highly desirable gifts begin at 10 and count down to 5.
- Some Characters have special gifts. They are revealed through conversation, and this unlocks those gifts. These special gifts are always worth 10 points.
- The higher your influence, the more points you will get for a gift.
- Except for Alistar and Dog, all Characters will fight the PC, or leave, based on certain game behaviors. It is also possible to ask them to leave.
Five key Characters and some gifts they receive:
- Black Rune Stone-located in Deep Roads in the Aeducan Thaig Chest
- Onyx Demon Statuette- located in the Brecillian Forest
- Small Carved Statuette- located in Loithering in the crate next to Bodahns cart before leaving
Gifts unlocked through conversation with Alistar are the Mother’s Amulet located in Redcliffe Castle, and Duncan’s Shield located in Denerim in the Warehouse. This one is inside a hidden room.
Alistar automatically joins your character at Ostagar and remains throughout the game, except for one exception. There’s only one act which may cause him to leave, but you’ll need to discover that for yourself.
- Beef Bone-located in the Tower of Mages in the 4th floor chest behind Dragon
- Lamb Bone-located in Redcliffe Castle in the north rectangle room containing 4 Mabari enemies
- Large Bone-located in Haven in the Village store
If your character is a Human noble, Dog will automatically be with you. If you performed a Mabari Hound quest, you will find him after Ostagar. Dog’s influence is maxed and never changes. He’s useful for finding gifts if you ask him to help you look for them. He can also find other items.
- Blue Suede Shoes- located in Old Tegrin, appearing sporadically on the world maps
- Bronze Symbol of Andraste-located in Loithering and Chantry behind the bookshelves
- Chantry Amulet-located in the Tower of Mages in the senior mages quarters on the 2nd floor
Gifts unlocked through conversation with Leilana include three different Andraste Grace, located in Redcliffe Village, Brecillian Forest and Denerim; and the Cute Little Nug which is located in Dust Town.
Leilana will ask you if she can join you when your reach the Tavern of Loithering. You have the option to tell her no and she will leave you temporarily. You’ll get one other request from her to join you at the exit to Loithering. If you decline, she’ll leave permanently. You can gain her influence with good actions, but don’t criticize her religion. If you do a specific evil act, she will turn against you and then you’ll have to kill her.
- Ancient Map of Imperium-located in Denerim in the Wonders of Thedas
- Botanist’s Map of Thedas-located in Denerim in Castle Redcliffe on the main floor
- Current Map of Ferelden-located in Denerim
Alistar won’t join your party if Loghain is in it. Loghain is a difficult character with few gifts to receive. It’s best to be respectful to him, as you might be able to gift him to about 75 points.
- Gold Amulet-located in Orzammar Commons
- Golden Demon Pendant-located in The Gauntlet
- Golden Rope Necklaces-located in Loithering and Party Camp
There are three gifts which are unlocked through conversation with Morrigan: Golden Mirror in Orzammar Commons, Black Grimior in Tower of Mages, and Flemeth’s Grimiore in Flemeth’s Hut.
Morrigan does best in your group if you are an evil character. She’s not impressed with good acts and hates being insulted in conversations-avoid those to keep your influence with her. She will stay with your group until the end unless you tell her she has to leave. She joins you after Ostagar.
Some other main characters and gifts to discover:
He forces his way into your group in Orzammer. He’s not a conversationalist. He’s relatively hard to max with gifts and doesn’t seem to be affected by the PCS game play decisions. Find gifts of Ale in Loithering and Denerim to start.
Shale Stone Prisoner DLC
Shale is either fighting with you or agreeable. You may gain serious influence if you perform her personal quest. Find her Remarkable gemstones in Amethyst (Dust Town), Diamond (Orzammar Commons), Emerald (Orzammar), Garnet(Denerim) and Greenstone (Honnleath) to gain influence with her.
Sten must be freed from his Cage in Loithering before you complete another main quest or you will lose him forever. His main goal is to get to the Archdemon. It’s a challenge to max influence with him because he doesn’t have many gifts available. Start out with Painting of Rebel Queen located in Old Tegrin and Portrait of a Goose Girl in Frostback Mountains.
If you let her join you at the Mages Tower, she will. If not, she will die in a confrontation with you. She will also try to kill you if you perform a specific evil act. Gifts you might try are Discovering Dragons Blood in the Ruined Temple or Fancy Scroll located in the Ancient Ruins.
You can either kill Zevran or talk with him when you complete one main quest. He can either murder senselessly or engage in a romantic foursome in Denerim with you, Isabella and Liliena at the Pearl. If that doesn’t interest you, tell him early for a small influence loss or risk a major one later on. Conversation Gifts to unlock with Zevran start out with Antivan Leather Boots in Haven or Dalish Gloves in Brecillian Forest.