I've lost count of the amount of times I've played through Dragon Age: Inquisition at this point. I first picked up the game in 2014 on the Xbox 360 (which was a bit of a bumpy ride), before I finally upgraded to the next generation and played it on Xbox One. Since then, I've tucked into the adventure time and again on just about every platform going, with the PC, PS4, and PS5 following after my Xbox sessions. And yet, even after countless visits to Thedas on multiple platforms, and with over 600 hours on the PlayStation alone, I've only just made a discovery about one small side quest in the Hinterlands that relates to a certain named ram.
I'm sure long-time players and fellow fans immediately know what I'm about to talk about. I'm also certain that many will be admonishing me for not seeing this before, or ever thinking to do this particular side quest differently. But here I am, almost eight years on from the release of the game, with innumerable playthroughs under my belt, sitting in disbelief as I see a demon rise out of the corpse of Lord Woolsely. You mean to tell me he's actually a Rage Demon? In all this time, I never even thought about attacking the ram… How haven't I done this before?
"Thanks for finding my ram"
There's a special kind of joy that comes from discovering something in a game you thought you knew inside out. Even the smallest revelation in a world you've revisited countless times can inject some renewed excitement into your all too familiar escapades. The Dragon Age series has always been one of my biggest sources of comfort over the years, and when I'm in need of some relaxation or stress relief, I've often found myself turning to Inquisition. My repeated visits to the game have resulted in me playing through the same quests in the Hinterlands like clockwork. I don't even need to think about it anymore, I just do the quests. Comparatively, it's a bit like the same way you don't have to think about a route you walk everyday; I know where to go and exactly what to do.
I find solace in the repetition, and it's calming to throw myself back into a world I've come to know so well over the years. In fact, I don't think a year has passed me by without jumping back into at least one Dragon Age game as I continue to wait for Dragon Age 4. All this has a part to play in why I've never come to discover there's more to a ram you encounter in the Hinterlands than meets the eye… even when in some ways it should have been so obvious from the beginning.
The quest in question is The Ballad of Lord Woolsely, which is pretty straightforward. A fellow by the name of One-Eyed Jimmy in Redcliffe Village asks you if you've seen a ram that's "different" and special to his family. Since Lord Woolsley has wandered off, the quest has you go and find this "very special" ram. I don't know why it never really occurred to me to question what makes him "special". After all, Jimmy mentions how his family has always followed the advice of Woolsley… but how can a ram give advice if it is, in fact, a ram?
Lord Woolsley, who can be found nearby a lake, certainly stands out among the other rams in the region, with a bright orange coat that's distinctly different from the rest. Now, every single time I've done this quest, I've always approached the animal, which triggers dialogue from my Inquisitor that convinces Lord Woolsley to return to Jimmy. Doing so will earn you some XP and power, and that's that. Job done. Not once did it even enter my mind that I should try attacking it… even when another side quest has you gathering ram meat for the hungry locals.
It's funnier still since so many other games teach you that named creatures likely have good loot, and are therefore worth attacking. Even so, I've done it the same way every single time, like clockwork. So you can only imagine my surprise when what felt like the billionth playthrough, I accidentally hit Lord Woolsley and it swiftly fell to the ground. Before I knew it, I was faced with a fiery red rage demon that rose up from the corpse of Lord Woolsley. Well, that certainly explains the bright orange coat, then, I thought to myself.
Once I'd taken the demon out and looted some ram leather and a fire resistance belt, I stood still for a moment and everything clicked into place. Lord Woolsley was possessed by a demon all along, and it only took me eight years to come to the realization. Now I can't help but wonder what else I may have missed in the world of Thedas. I guess I now have the perfect excuse to return once again. As if I ever needed that.
Keep track of all the most exciting games on the horizon with our roundup of new games for 2023.