Fictional Dragon Age dwarf publishes actual real novel


Varric Tethras, co-star of both Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition, was never your usual swords & sorcery dwarf. Clean-shaven, bare-chested, playfully roguish and broadly disinterested in the usual Dwarven concerns of mining and industry.

Beyond his core defining ‘sexy dwarf’ trait, he also had one other notable quirk: He was an author, and throughout Dragon Age: Inquisition, you could find excerpts from his noir thriller, Hard in Hightown. Originally a running joke, the book is now set to be published for real, ‘co-written’ by BioWare wordsmith Mary Kirby.

Hard In Hightown isn’t due out until the end of July, sadly. Despite the title making it sound like a steamy novel for less morally pure sorts, it’s a gritty crime thriller set in Varric’s old haunt of Kirkwall (the city that many players got intimately familiar with in Dragon Age 2), telling the story of a hard-boiled town guardsman, his green-as-grass rookie partner, and their mission to get to the bottom of a sinister assassination plot.

Apparently Varric has taken the advice of ‘write what you know’ to heart, and has given all of his friends from Dragon Age 2 roles in the novel. I’m hedging my bets and guessing that DA2 protagonist Hawke won’t be too much of a focus, on account of their variable gender and identity making them too much of a loose canon, even for a pulp adventure novel like this. Still, you can be pretty sure that a bunch of people are getting shivved in the book, at least according to very Welsh Elven lass Merrill who offers a cover blurb quote.


It’s great to see that Bioware are still throwing the occasional bone to the Dragon Age fanbase, even as the majority of the studio’s attention seems to be on Iron Man Does Destiny (or Anthem, to use its colloquial name). Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Dragon Age: Inquisition came out all the way back in late 2014, so having an in-jokey tie-in book published three and a half years later feels like an odd decision, but it’s a reassuring one nonetheless.


  1. icarussc says:

    Uh, what happened to the close quote on Merril’s blurb? Looks like a book full of typos.

  2. Azhrarn says:

    As someone who is playing DA: Inquisition for the first time right now, this is pretty cool. I’ve added it to my wishlist for when it comes out. I’ve liked Varric so far.

  3. buzzmong says:

    When this comes out, could RPS actually do a legit WoT I Think on it?

  4. malkav11 says:

    The “excerpts” were actually pretty decent, so this could be fun.

    • Awkward_Seppuku says:

      I always thought they were intentionally terrible.

      • sagredo1632 says:

        That also takes some talent as well, as contestants of the Bulwer-Lytton can attest.

  5. Werthead says:

    I suspect this may be a bit of early marketing for Dragon Age 4, which is the other game BioWare are working on (as well as Anthem), hopefully meaning that Varric will be in it.

    I do need to get around to playing Dragon Age Inquisition but I’m at 65 hours in The Witcher 3, so I won’t be jumping into another big RPG immediately afterwards (especially one that everyone and their uncle seems to agree is dramatically inferior).

    • LexW1 says:

      Oh god I hadn’t even thought of that but please be right. Even a minor or recurring role for Varric would be great.

      He is very definitely one of my favourite characters in computer game history, and even when he’s being a dick (which is often), he’s charming and fun, and seems like his own thing (not really a rip-off of any other character – there’s a bit of Han Solo, a bit of John McClaine, a bit of Angela Lansbury and so on all up in there).

      As to “inferior”, well, it’s a bit more complex than that, because despite similarities, they’re very different approaches to CRPGs. What DAI benefits from most is a bit of reading up on “the best way to play it” – not as in the most efficient/win-y way, but the most fun (like, ditch the starting area ASAP, don’t do collect-y quests unless you really like doing them, don’t obsessively mine/herb because you can buy the common ingredients super-cheap at the Black Emporium if you need ’em, etc. etc.).

      TW3 is more “magnificent” as a game, I think but DAI got reviewed well, got a backlash because unless you play it a certain way (which reviewers naturally tend to – eagerly pressing through the game) it can be quite annoying, and I feel like now people are starting to come around see actually, it was pretty darn good, especially with the Trespasser DLC which is just great and provides a much better ending to the game than the actual ending, which is rather weak.

      I do agree though, going directly from one 50+ hour CRPG to another is probably something to avoid!

    • Rich says:

      DA:I isn’t half as engaging as TW3, but that’s mostly because TW3 has writing, voice acting and cinematography that is well beyond what you’d normally expect from a game. DA:I has pretty good writing and some very good voice acting. My main problem is that I just don’t care that much about my own character, especially when compared to Geralt.

      Gameplay wise, they’re almost equal in quality (although different in execution). I enjoyed roaming the world a lot more in TW3 because riding around on Roach is just fun. Horses in DA:I are utterly pointless. DA:I has a much wider variety of locations, some of which are pretty amazing.

      I’m enjoying DA:I a lot and this is my first play through. That said, while I fully intend to replay TW3, I’ll probably only go through DA:I once.

      • pookie101 says:

        The funny part is that Geralt annoys me, “obnoxious twat” was my initial thought

        • woodsey says:

          Impossible. Geralt’s a sweetie-pie.

        • Unclepauly says:

          Says more about you than it does about Gerald. He’s not obnoxious at all.

          • Rich says:

            He’s often a bit of an idiot though and is pretty much always grumpy.

    • Zenicetus says:

      If they’re working on a DA4, the bar has been raised considerably for this kind of game. And not just by Witcher 3, although that’s the obvious comparison. AC Origins shows how to do an open world that doesn’t feel like an MMO grind masquerading as an RPG. Divinity Original Sin 2 has amazing party mechanics for tactical combat with mixed melee and magic.

      Bioware’s traditional strength is writing NPC interactions, but that hasn’t been a great feature of their games for some time now. I played about halfway through Inquisition, and I just couldn’t care about anyone following the lead character around. Andromeda was even worse, with juvenile dialog and boring party members. So it’s hard to tell whether they have anything to offer now.

      Bioware should just drop the lackluster Dragon Age IP and license a really good fantasy series like Zelazny’s Amber books, or Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser books. Use that as a framework, like CDPR did with the Witcher books. There is a wealth of good fantasy material out there that’s much better than the generic fantasy drek in the DA series.

      • Rich says:

        DA:I at least has a few genuinely interesting characters though. I’m thinking mostly of Solas and Cole. Iron Bull is pretty interesting, but doesn’t seem to care enough about anything.

  6. welverin says:

    Ther have been comcis, and more supplements for the tabeltop rpg since the game released, so it’s not like they’ve completely ignored the franchised before this.

  7. Ghostwise says:

    As Ms. Cassandra Pentaghast once said, “I am readink dze shit out ov dzis.”

  8. Deviija says:

    Hah. I love this idea so much.

  9. pookie101 says:

    it doesn’t matter what any haters say about the book because Bianca will always love it

  10. Jovian09 says:

    I am reading the shit out of this if Brian Bloom does the audiobook.

  11. Vasily R says:

    I know this isn’t the most popular sentiment, but I loved Dragon Age Inquisition. Were there serious issues, yes of course. However I very much enjoyed the game despite the problems. I still think that Origins is a far better game, but DA:I was a huge step up from DA2. I think overall, people are far too hard on the game.

    • malkav11 says:

      I think a lot of people were turned off by the Hinterlands. But yeah, there’s a lot of good stuff there. Just gotta know when to fold ’em in regards to the more boring side content.

    • Orazio Zorzotto says:

      Agreed, probably Bioware’s most cohesive game since Origins and it laid a good foundation for future games. But then Witcher 3 came out, and Andromeda turned out to be churned out by a B team woefully mismanaged by higher ups.

      • ArbiterLibera says:

        Honestly, Bioware was lucky Witcher 3 got delayed to 2015. Had it released in the same year as Inquisition it would’ve eaten it alive.

  12. icarussc says:

    Threegreed. I loved DAI, mostly for the characters, lore, and the amazing locations you could go to. TW3 had basically three locations and did them really really well. DAI had basically twelve. And did them really really well.

    • Rich says:

      The environments in TW3, particularly the urban ones, just felt more alive than those in DA:I. That’s not to say they aren’t a lot of fun to explore.

  13. Premium User Badge

    kfix says:

    “too much of a loose canon“

    Bravo Dominic. That’s fantastic.

  14. mmandthetat says:

    Came to say this. He just tossed that gem out like it was nothin’.