So I’ve been reading “The Hero with A Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell, which is a very thorough book outlining the “hero’s journey” from mediocrity to larger-than-life. If you hear enough stories, we see that the phases and path Campbell cites are followed by all heroic characters across genres and time. This applies to religious stories, fables, epic poems, novels, movies, and, of course, video games.
It struck me that there are many characters in video games who follow this path but are not given credit because they are not the playable character, or because they follow the path in a somewhat unexpected way. They are not quite the clean-cut heroes that are expected.
One of these characters is Loghain Mac Tir, the man who betrays King Cailan and the Grey Wardens in the beginning of Dragon Age: Origins.
That’s right; the old coot we love to hate follows a hero’s path. I’ll name each step of the hero’s journey and relate them to Loghain’s actions, with some of my own comments thrown in for good measure. This is a long one, so I’m going to break it into two parts.
1. Call to Adventure (something supernatural occurs that prepares the hero that an adventure is coming)
Loghain experiences this not only by witnessing the beginnings of the Fifth Blight, but also by the appearance of the Grey Wardens who, according to Sera in Inquisition, are the people who show up just before bad things start happening.
2. Refusal of the Call (doesn’t think the call is important and doesn’t heed it)
Loghain pulls his troops from the battle. Tactically, he is saving his troops from a massacre. Personally, he doesn’t pay attention to the dire need for his troops, which may have stemmed the Blight a little, believing that the threat of the Blight wasn’t as bad as he had been told. Either way, he does not participate in the first battle against the darkspawn, and takes advantage of the political state than follows the death of the king.
[Athena’s note: Interesting, the would-be hero can exist at this stage for a long time, but he/she is destined for downfall. I would reference King Minos and his Minotaur, which is his punishment for not keeping his promise to the gods. He creates the Labyrinth to contain the Minotaur and throws youths into it to keep it sated, but his actions, like Loghain’s, create new problems for himself as his inevitable downfall approaches. Likewise, Loghain begins a civil war and turns his own daughter against him as he tries to force the events to his will. That is, he thinks the Orlesians are more of a threat than the Blight and prepares to turn away from the Blight to fight, literally, his own battles.]
Loghain sits here for a while, and truthfully can die in this stage without ever being redeemed. However, it’s possible for him to continue on this path with:
3. Supernatural Aid (the hero is given tools for success by a “conveniently” placed character)
At the Landsmeet, the Grey Wardens arrive again, and, through some quick-thinking and hard dealing, the Wardens can recruit Loghain into the Order, aiding him in avoiding execution.
4. Crossing the First Threshold (passing through the entrance to what Campbell calls a “zone of significant power”)
Loghain undergoes his Joining ceremony to become a Grey Warden, in order to harness their power and their burdens.
Alright, I’m going to end Part I here as Loghain takes a sip of darkspawn blood. I’ll post Part II tomorrow, and we’ll pick back up right here.
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