Stolen Pixels #149: Approval Ratings

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Dec 8, 2009

Filed under: Column 35 comments

Morrigan disapproves of this comic.


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35 thoughts on “Stolen Pixels #149: Approval Ratings

  1. Sheer_FALACY says:

    I didn’t really have the same experience with her – I’ve had her with me for most of the game so far (because mages are uber), and mostly haven’t needed to swap her out for conversations. It seems to me like she mostly hates sidequests – you accept a quest to save some orphans, and she complains because they’ll die anyway if you never get around to stopping the blight. Which makes perfect sense. Pretty much the only time I’ve seen her as evil rather than efficient was when recruiting Shale, where saving the girl and killing the girl was about the same effort but she still favored killing the girl.

  2. matt says:

    She’s the only mage I have available, and she has gotten me into decisions I regretted immediately (hence, she’s the only mage I have), but I actually find her amusing for the most part. The banter between her and Alistair is good for a chuckle, usually.

  3. Jordi says:

    I didn’t notice the “Morrigan Disapproves (-15)” text until I reached the final panel of the comic. I agree with Sheer_FALACY that she especially seems to hate sidequests. I do think that the amount by which she usually disapproves of me is disproportionate. Other characters give me -1 or -2 when they disapprove. I don’t think Morrigan ever disapproved less than -8.

  4. chabuhi says:

    I left her at camp once Wynne came onboard and haven’t looked at her since. I have no doubt I’ll have to deal with her (and her “mother”, if that’s what she really is) later, but Morrigan and Sten piss me off. I know I could ask them to leave (or, at least the game tells me I can – never tried it out), but I just keep thinking that I’ll regret it later if I do.

  5. Xanamir says:

    She was actually my favorite character in the game and remains my favorite mage over Ms. Wynne “Let’s commit suicide by Grey Warden at every opportunity.”

    Then again, after Red Cliff, I found myself really believing that ruthlessness was what would be necessary to finish the game.

    Also, it made her romance very satisfying when you finally do get a glimpse of what’s underneath that ice queen exterior.

    Then again, I also had a huge crush on Bastila, so maybe I just like ’em haughty, I don’t know.

  6. Alexis says:

    * Warning: this post contains spoilers *

    Initially I was interested in Morrigan because she is voiced by Claudia Black. She’s good at playing though, sarcastic, dark characters who have some significant trauma in their past. Their hostility is in response to being alone in a world that actually is out to get them.

    At first Morrigan seems like the same character. She’s been twisted by her mother* into a sociopath, and all religious and civil authority, including a main character in your party, want to condemn her to death as an apostate. But, actually Morrigan is very different from Black’s previous characters, who all had some redeeming traits. Aeryn actually had a lot of loyalty to the few people she calls friends. Under there, somewhere, there is actually a good person.

    Morrigan is different, she really is as evil as she seems. On some level this is kind of cool. If you go into it having seen Farscape, you are in for a nasty surprise. And Morrigan is perfectly happy to use your genre savy against you, manipulating you into doing what she wants. It does make it hard for a “heroic” character to keep her in the party though, which means you miss out on the Claudia Black snark. I guess that is what an “evil” playthrough is for.


    * In fact her mother’s entire purpose in raising her is to kill her, something Morrigan probably at least suspected before she found the book.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:


    When mages go rogue…Are you talking about the quest in the tower?They didnt go rogue,they became abominations,embodied demons bent only on destroying the world.Of course you are going to kill every potential host for a demon before all hell breaks loose.

    1. Shamus says:

      Daemian Lucifer: During the conversation, your party is talking to Wynne, another woman, and a few children nearby. And Morrigan is arguing that these people should all be killed by the rite of annulment not because they might be abominations, but because they have the nerve to live under the chantry.

      To me this is like saying a slave deserves to be whipped because they were stupid enough to let themselves be enslaved.

      She’s not arguing for what she thinks is the greater good (like the templars are) she just really hates mages.

  8. someboringguy says:

    Morrigan seems slithly retarded when she talks and also she seems a jerk.She wants you to do awful things for no profit, which annoys me, as I would never destroy a group of helpless innocents…unless there is some money involved.
    But her interactions with some characters are great, especially that exotic warrior, Sten I think his name was.There is one dialogue when she asks him something like “are you attracted to me?” and he says “yes” and than it’s really funny.
    Also with Alistair, but during a dialogue:
    Can you cook?
    Good because that means you can take Alistair’s place!
    Alistair:Yes, because the main problem is my cooking which would surely kill you sooner or later.
    Those are not the exact words, but the idea is the same.

  9. glassdirigible says:

    I like Morrigan. She keeps my character in check somewhat. Yes, I am that terrible.

  10. Sauron says:

    With regards to killing all of the mages: If you kill them, they are clearly not the fittest, which is why they (tautologically) did not survive.

  11. Grudgeal says:

    If you send Morrigan into the Fade section in Redcliffe (you know which one I’m talking about) and make her talk with the desire demon, anything Morrigan says to it will basically amount down to ‘I know better than to make deals with your kind, now put up your dukes’.

    Take Morrigan with you to the Shale sidequest and she’ll applaud you… For making a deal with the desire demon and let it possess the child and escape. She’ll *disapprove* if you just kill it.

    …Could you make up your mind, please?

  12. acronix says:

    I always saw that a good character has potentially more XP, since they have a justification for doing every single “help me!” quests (which are the most common you get (or the most common I get…)) while evil character lack that justification, and so get less opportunities to get XP. Morrigan has the good point that you should hurry. In real life, that would make sense. You wouldn´t waste time helping every single person that you come trough. However, the game hasn´t any way to encourage that rush, which makes her annoying.

    In short, Morrigan is sabotaging you gameplay-wise.

  13. mos says:

    I actually didn’t have this experience with her, either. In fact, I went out of my way to woo Liliana, but ended up getting Morrigan somehow. The relationship kind of grew organically, which I was pretty happy with.

    It’s ironic, because I was playing my character as a sort of “I’ll do good/do what you want, but only because it furthers my cause (stopping the Blight and killing Howe, maybe not in that order)”. Morrigan was in my party most of the way, too.

  14. guy says:

    Sounds like it’s lacking any really fun character dynamics, like Neeska/other female party members.

  15. Jeff says:

    Morrigan is a short-sighted fool masquarading as intelligent cunning. At least with enough Cunning/Coercion you can explain to Sten “We’re rescuing these people because we want their help.” back at Redcliffe. She’s a moron. We go to the mages to get the mage’s help… so let’s kill the mages for being controlled by the Chantry. Hello? Why were we here in the first place? Why don’t you get your stupid objections out of the way BEFORE being locked into the tower? Once within the tower, it’s either kill all mages or try to rescue the mages (that we’re here to gain the assistance of in the first place). So. Bloody. Stupid.

  16. BHR says:

    I kept Morrigan through the whole game. I basically played as a lawful good character who *always* took the nicest way out. She hit me with some disapproves at the start, but I kept plying her with gifts and having conversations with her and whatnot. Then, about halfway through, I finally managed to “do the deed” with her. She never once complained about me being nice again except maybe one time she gave me a -1, and at the end there… she actually convinced me she was doing what she did… because she liked me. I thought that was cool.

  17. Avilan the Grey says:

    Yes, that is my experience too. She is very much like Viconia (my favorite Bioware character of all time): She IS evil, but for a reason (she was taught that way and no other). And just like Vicionia you can’t push her alignment all the way by the end of the game, but maybe in an expansion…?


    …You can, for example, teach her why friendship is good, and that is something she seems to genuinely take to heart, if it happens.

  18. Pwnzerfaust says:

    I have come to notice that Morrigan generally approves of the route that nets you the least satisfying reward possible. This is because, 9/10 times, she either wants you to ignore the quests entirely or murder everyone who could possibly give you anything that could be considered rewarding.

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

  19. FuzzyDuck says:

    I’ve been playing pretty much as a chaotic good sort of character, and never really had any problems with her… she’s kind of like a magpie with ADD, just throw her a shiny bauble or 2 every now and again & she’ll forget all about it…

    Also, i rather enjoy Sten… once you’ve got enough approval to get him to open up (about 40ish) you can get him to well over 90 approval through dialogue – also his banter is brilliantly dry, he seems to be one of the only npcs capable of holding his own or even beating morrigan’s snarkiness. He also likes cookies!

  20. someboringguy says:

    Sten despises you and every other race except his.That’s why every dialogue with him is a test of humiliation, as everything that doesn’t say “your race is great, my race is retarded” seems to make you lose approval points.

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:


    “To me this is like saying a slave deserves to be whipped because they were stupid enough to let themselves be enslaved.”

    Bad analogy.A better one would be that germans had to pay for the atrocities of war because majority of them chose hitler as their leader.Or do you think that germany was supposed to get just a slap on the wrist?

    1. Shamus says:

      Daemian Lucifer: You lost me. Mages are hunted down and killed if they don’t submit to the chantry. This makes mages victims OF the chantry. The chantry does not use loyal mages to hunt down apostates.

      So your Nazi analogy makes no sense to me. Morrigan is arguing to have ALL mages killed. So is the chantry. The chantry wants to do it because they think some are mind-controlled abominations. Morrigan wants to do it because… she disagrees with their views?

      Her position makes no sense.

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ah,but mages arent doing anything to stop the chantry from killing apostates.They have the power to both defeat the chantry,and govern themselves,but they are contend enough to let the chantry do what they want.They agreed to let the chantry purge the entire circle in the case of abominations appearing,so once that has happened they should not expect any mercy.

    Morigans stance is that it is ok to help a slave that fights for his freedom,but why would you lift a finger for someone who has agreed to have others rule them.

    1. Shamus says:

      Daemian Lucifer: If the mages are strong enough to overthrow the chantry, then they should by default get her support.

      She supports Sten, and he killed a whole family with his bare hands, but she wants him along because he’s badass.

      If the mages are so badass, why don’t they get the same consideration? Not even for the children who clearly AREN’T strong enough to overthrow the chantry. Not even when the mages ARE fighting for their survival against the chantry. She’s willing to go so far as to HELP the chantry by saying the party should wipe out the mages – children included.

      Her views are either abhorrent, inconsistent, or (in my view) both.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Mages are strong enough to fight the chantry,but they chose not to do so.So while they posses the power,they are weak in mind.

    And a single rouge child abomination was strong enough to kill a whole fortress of people,so those child mages arent really that weak either.

    Mages chose to be caged,and chose what should be done with them in case of demons breaking through,thus they deserve that same punishment.

    Sten,on the other hand,sticks to his decisions.He chose to be punished for his crime,and didnt plea for help like the mages.He didnt lift a finger in trying to escape that punishment,again,unlike the mages.

    What is so inconsistent about that?Actually,it is the mages that are inconsistent:They have chosen a way of life,and a punishment in case something goes wrong.Yet when something does go wrong,they plea for help and try to escape that punishment.That is weakness.

    1. Shamus says:

      “Join the mages circle and live under the chantry. Or DIE.”

      Yeah, some choice.

      Remember that Morrigan isn’t saying they should be killed because they MIGHT be abominations, she is saying they should die because they don’t fight back against the chantry that takes them as children and makes them live with a sword over their head.

      Now that I think about it, mages are both badasses AND victims of the chantry. They should not be compared to the Nazis, but to the blacks of South Africa who could “easily” have overthrown their masters – IF THEY WERE WILLING TO COMMIT MASS MURDER TO DO SO.

      Morrigan isn’t just suggesting you ALLOW them to be killed by their masters. She’s saying you should join in and exterminate them on behalf of their masters.

      1. Shamus says:

        Addendum: I suppose it’s to the game’s credit that it can elicit such divergent opinions on the matter. I didn’t read the Penny Arcade comic about the templars, but I remember reading that it spawned a hot debate on whether or not they were “good guys” or “bad guys”.

        And I should make it clear that while I really can’t stand Morrigan on a personal level, she’s a GREAT character. I dislike her PERSONALITY. But she has one.

        I’ll take Morrigan over Quara ANY DAY.

  24. Daemian Lucifer says:

    But the mages chose the chantry,the chantry didnt conquer them,so they are not slaves.Blacks in america had no weapons,mages do.

    Ill have to use a longer war to explain my opinion:The hundred years war:
    Some french and some british people decided to have certain people as their kings.These kings then went to war.Long after these two kings have died,and long after those that have chosen them as kings have died,the war was still raging.People born during that war continued the battle,and it went on and on and on.Were those soldiers slaves?No,they always had the option to leave the war and face the perils of having no home and just a few valuables.They didnt have to go to war,they had the choice to rebel against their government.Yet they took the path of less resistance.They were weak.Therefore,they have deserved death,maiming,and loss of family and homes,because they have chosen to continue the war they havent started in the first place.

    Same goes for mages:If they really hate the chantry and its rules,then they should rebel.They have the power to do so.However,most took the path of less resistance and continue to uphold the ways they “hate” so much.They help the chantry recruit and pacify young mages.They are weak and therefore deserve to be purged.

    This applies to children too.Remember,this is not 21st century earth,so those little mages are weak just in body.Most posses the skills not just to survive on their own,but to fight and kill as well.Not to mention that they have spells with them as well.

    Morrigan grew up in harsh wilderness,she had no comfort the circle offers,no safe practices.She even fought the chantry as a child alongside her mother.So she knows that other mages can live free if they wanted to.Its just that they are content with their lives under the brutal monarch.

    1. Shamus says:

      Daemian Lucifer: The mages do have factions that want to overthrow the chantry. There are a bunch of sub-groups actually. I still don’t see how they could. Morrigan started free and had the wilds to protect her, along with Flemeth. The mages are stuck in the tower, surrounded and watched by the chantry.

      Also: If you played the mage origin you saw that the children aren’t all that powerful yet. One late-teenager manages to set himself on fire just trying to master a simple spell.

      But even if I agreed with your assessment, I think it’s a long way from “these people are complacent” to “we should kill all of these people”.

  25. Avilan the Grey says:

    Daemian Lucifer:
    I think you forget a number of things.

    1. “Childs are weak only in body”? Really? Is that why it takes years for a mage to learn spells and skills (except for the PC and the gang, of course, who levels up twice a day, just like in all CRPGs). We see what a child will do: Connor is a great example of what happens when a child opens the veil.

    2. Religion is important. Most mages believe in the Chantry, and in Andastre. Andastre was a kickas Mage who deemed her fellow mages as unfit for ruling. No matter how powerful you are, your religious beliefs can hold you back.

    3. If a full-fledged mage uprising would happen, the most likely outcome would be total extermination of all mages, period. It is not only the mages vs the Chantry. It is the mages vs everyone. Because everyone knows what caused the first blight. And almost everyone is deeply religious and will side with the Chantry if push comes to shove.
    A less likely outcome would be the imperial model, where the mages win the civil war and then will rule.

    4. Morrigan did get a good training. Her training seems no less unsafe than the training in the tower; after all her mother had no interest in her dying before her time, after all…

  26. I think an important thing to remember in this case is that Morrigan is not just basing her opinion on the events of the latest quest but on the Chantry’s overall policy on any mages outside of their control, which basically boils down to “kill ’em all and let the Maker sort them out”. Templars have come into the forest to try to kill Morrigan and Flemeth many times in the past, and she knows perfectly well that under normal circumstances any Templars she met would want her dead basically just for existing. Even Alistair, who seems a lot nicer than most Templars, favours killing Connor and goes absolutely ballistic if you use Blood Magic to trade a willing sacrifice for his life.

    The Circle of Mages on the other hand has spent the last 900 years working for the Chantry with their involvement in the matter ranging from just letting the Templars do what they want up to active collusion. At the end of the Broken Circle quest the tables are turned, the Circle is out of favour with the Chantry and it’s up to the party to decide whether to let them be killed or to spare them.

    Morrigan wants to do to the Circle exactly what they would do to her given the chance. I wouldn’t consider this a Good action by any stretch of the imagination, but I can certainly see where the temptation would be.

  27. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Avilan the Grey

    1.No,it takes lot of time for them to control that magic.Finding a demon or laying massive destruction is easy for them.

    2.And that is the whole point:Their beliefs are restraining them.Thats why morrigan thinks they are weak.

    3.No,not everyone.Id say 30% of the nobles would oppose the mages,30% would ally with them and the rest would just stand by and watch.

    4.Yes,morrigan too had her life chosen by someone else.However,she doesnt accept it but decides to fight it.

    Jowan managed to escape.So its not impossible.

    And it is a long way between those two,but thats where the long history of the circle and morrigans childhood come in to fill the gap.

  28. acabaca says:

    I hate the influence system this game, KotOR 2 and NWN 2 had. It devolves your entire NPC interaction into one number that you raise by agreeing with them on everything. Since RPG enthusiasts are conditioned to do anything they can to raise their numbers (after all, all RPGs really are is number-raising exercises) you end up saying things that raise the value they give to you instead of what you want to say. The very least they should do is make the influence number hidden.

    And please don’t compare Morrigan to Viconia. Viconia was actually a good character. Morrigan is so cartoonishly, nonsensically evil that she needs a top hat and a mustache to twirl. Bioware has screwed up in this way before – in Jade Empire they tried to sell the “closed fist” path as some kind of survival of the fittest setup, when in reality it was all about being a jerk to everybody for absolutely no rational reason, and that’s how Morrigan works too: being a jerk to everybody for the sake of being a jerk.

  29. krellen says:

    Even Alistair, who seems a lot nicer than most Templars, favours killing Connor and goes absolutely ballistic if you use Blood Magic to trade a willing sacrifice for his life.

    Alistair goes ape-shit at you in the party camp afterwards if you kill Connor. He rails at you for not “trying hard enough” to find a solution that didn’t result in the loss of life.

    Maybe he doesn’t do this if you at least go to the Circle before killing Connor and end up with no Circle to bring back, but I was going for a Sten-like “we don’t have time for distractions” playthrough when I did it that way, and Alistair was quite displeased with my choice.

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