EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Bioware's David Gaider Shares Details from DRAGON AGE: THE SILENT GROVE
Published: March 5, 2012 - 12:39pm
Available in print for the first time, Dragon Age: The Silent Grove is the perfect introduction to BioWare’s dark fantasy universe. In this canonical story from David Gaider -- lead writer of the games -- King Alistair, accompanied only by rogues Isabela and Varric, embarks on a quest deep inside the borders of Antiva, a nation of assassins
David Gaider has given voice to beloved video game characters in Bioware's hit titles, such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Neverwinter Nights. One of his latest creations is the fantasy world of Dragon Age, which has served as the setting for 2 games, a web series, novels, and more recently the Dark Horse digital comic “The Silent Grove.” Regarding the latter,Gaider is in charge of the story; which will hopefully help to maintain Dragon Age cannon in tact for longtime fans.
“It gets more difficult to keep track of all the lore, certainly. It’s easy for one person to know the lore inside and out, but when you have an entire team working on the same project not everyone is going to know the lore equally well… and the size of such a project (or several projects, as the case may be) makes it impossible for us to police every mention. We’re getting better at recognizing this and organizing our lore database better, however, particularly when it comes to letting third parties outside the company access it. The build-up of history and familiarity, however, does make it a bit easier to have other companies like Dark Horse involved. The more that’s out there and understood about the Dragon Age universe, the less we have people approaching Dragon Age as a fantasy world interchangeable with any other fantasy world (and thus any fantasy story). Still, it’s an ongoing challenge.”
Just because the intricacies of the fiction are a challenge to its writers, it doesn't mean that initiates will be complete lost when jumping into the new series. Gaider says that you “don't need to know what’s going on with the rest of the Dragon Age universe to understand this particular tale. It would help, certainly, but all that’s important is the reader relates to these three characters and their quest. The only barrier to a new reader, I think, would be an over-abundance of references to past events, which we don’t do. Anything I have to explain in the course of the story I try to do naturally—otherwise it just comes across as awkward exposition. “
Part of this fantasy world is the fledgling knight turned king (depending on gameplay choices in Dragon Age: Origins), Alistair. “The Silent Grove” follows the character in a new adventure to uncover grave secrets, but his stately role might burden his swashbuckling.
“[It] plays an important role in the story—in terms of how he’s dealing with it,” the writer stated, “Alistair may have been king for 8 years by the time of the comic’s story, but as anyone who played Origins would know, the throne hasn’t been a comfortable place for him. Not being in Ferelden, however, means he doesn’t actually get to play the role of king in this story… which is part of the purpose, from his perspective.”
Although Gaider is happy to divulge details regarding Alistair's motivations, he can't touch too much upon the book's antagonists or it's sweeping plot without spoiling the story for readers:
“The tone of Dragon Age, [which] overall is that we try to deal with weighty matters while never taking ourselves too seriously. You need a little levity or the weighty parts of the tale will descend into grimdark pathos—even Yorrick could tell you that. So it’s the same here. Alistair is dealing with a very personal matter, something that is weighing heavily on him, but that doesn’t mean he’ll lose his self-deprecating brand of humor completely (particularly with Isabela and Varric around to pick up the slack). Beyond that, I’d say the theme for this series is 'no-one is ever what they seem.' Make of that what you will.
“I can’t really discuss the villains in the 'Silent Grove' without spoiling the plot, yeah. I believe the information put out on the series has already mentioned a 'Witch of the Wilds', however, so I can assure you that she—and the connection she has to past characters such as Flemeth and Morrigan—will definitely play a big part in the coming story.”
Tone, in the overall Dragon Age universe, continues it's progression into the realm of fantastically dark themes. The property's writer that, for both comics and video games, the only way to truly progress the story into its more mature form will be for audiences to understand this isn't kid's play.
“ I do think we’re trying to move the stories we tell into a more sophisticated space. We do it, however, because our audience is aging and becoming more sophisticated—not necessarily out of a desire to advance the medium. One probably grows naturally out the other. Which is not to say there aren’t things that both games and comics could do to help themselves be taken more seriously. There’s a perception in the public that both games and comics are really just for kids, and I think that perception has been internalized in those industries,” Gaider continued, “They’re both accustomed to marketing to kids and young adults even while they’re making more sophisticated stories, and that’s a hard habit to break. To truly expand our audiences, we would need to recognize the things we do which inherently limit that audience and highlight our industries’ immaturity. It’s these things which hinder the ability for people outside the players/readership to bridge that gap and see beyond them to the growth which has occurred.”
Dragon Age: The Silent Grove is available now exclusively on Dark Horse Comics Digital! Bioware's lead writer David Gaider wrote the story with Alexander Freed on the script, Chad Hardin on art, and Anthony Palumbo on colors.