|Under the Qun, individual identity is immaterial. It's only valued for its contribution to the whole. Above, the Qunari warriors could (at least) console themselves that they are now artistic and exciting additions to Solas's garden. Woo-hoo!|
So here we are. First off, I'm going to post this overview of the Qun, and what I think it asks of those who follow it, as well as how it's presented across the Dragon Age trilogy.
After that, I'll also be posting some interesting revelations and revisits with my darling Sten, as well as transcriptions with my equally adored yet (yes) terrifying Arishok, including several dialogues I transcribed from Dragon Age II.
And then we'll get to "The Demands of the Qun." Eventually.
Sten, Dragon Age: Origins: As the true believer, Sten is the perfect introduction to the Qun philosophy and societal construct. Sten is the soldier, the steadfast subscriber, and the perfect introduction to Qun 101. The Qun is who he is. Sten only falls apart, notably, when he has lost that identity (via the loss of his sword).
Sten has no quandaries about his identity or his place, and finds the outer world deeply troubling and confusing. Although he is charmed by a few little indulgences (kittens, flowers, paintings, and cookies), Sten ends his adventures relatively unchanged. He ends as he began, viewing all outside points of view as counterproductive and alien to the Qun. He will return to his people, mission accomplished, unchanged (but not unaffected).
The Arishok, Dragon Age II: Enter the Arishok. As one of the three main rulers within the Qun's world, the Arishok provides a much bigger, starker view of what the Qun demands—essentially a flipped view from that of ordinary soldier Sten. And yet, like Sten, the Arishok's focus is rigid, narrow, and as confined as his quarters in that Kirkwall alley. He's genuinely scary (and so hot! OH SHUT UP) because he's not simply a tyrant or conqueror. He's desperate, trapped, and trying to recover the single most important artifact of his people across the ages. While tempted to intervene many times in what he sees as a disturbing and decadent chaos, he sits out the conflicts in Kirkwall for several years before breaking and deciding to "save" its inhabitants violently for the Qun. It does not end well for anyone. And no, I'm still not okay.
Tallis, Dragon Age II: Mark of the Assassin (DLC): Played by criminally charming geek goddess Felicia Day, Tallis is a lovable yet deadly agent of the Ben-Hassrath seeking simply to fulfill a mission that involves both love and loyalty. While I felt this mission slightly simplified both the Qun and especially the Ben-Hassrath, casting them in a rosier glow than they perhaps deserve, I enjoyed it as an up-close vision of a person simply trying to do the right thing under its regime. From the extremes of Sten and the Arishok, Tallis is a welcome middle-ground character.
The Iron Bull, Dragon Age: Inquisition: The Iron Bull is a wonderful culmination of Qun-loyal characters, because he exists in both realities when it comes to the Qun. He's in, he's out. He's loyal, he's Ben-Hassrath. No matter what you choose as a player, as a spy and sleeper agent, Bull is deeply entrenched in both the worlds of the Ben-Hassrath and Inquisition, and he acts accordingly. Whether we earn his loyalty or don't, whether we romance him or don't... we inevitably learn volumes about the Qun thanks to Bull, and in a truly unique new way.
And for all his bluff, for all his inner questions, Bull's still a true believer when we meet him. Which is why I find his C.S. Lewis simile about the blows of the chisel so affecting (and about which I will have much more to say in a later post)—he wants to be carved. He wants to be shaped. He is fully willing to be altered, repaired, moved, sculpted... to meet the challenges asked of him. And the outcome of his story, depending on our choices, is both personal and devastating in "Trespasser."
- But your body will not belong to you.
- You will do what you're told.
- You will be analyzed from babyhood and assigned for maximum usefulness. If this occurs, you may be trained in warfare, spycraft and more, while still in childhood.
- You will perform the job you are given efficiently... whether you enjoy it or not.
- You will go where you're sent.
- You will not marry or partner with a romantic interest.
- You will have sexual relations with whoever you are commanded to mate with for breeding purposes.
- You will then be required to give birth, if female, to any resulting child.
- If you do give birth, your child will be taken away to be raised in a group setting by a Tamassran, indoctrinated in groupthink before it cuts its first tooth or grows its first little stubs of horns.
- Your primary social relationships will be with those you work with (no mates, lovers, family units allowed).
- You will agree to reeducation and brainwashing if you ask too many questions, or if you show yourself to be mentally fragile.
- If you manifest magical abilities, you will submit to being leashed, enslaved, your tongue may be removed, and your mouth may be sewn shut.
- If you become unable to do your current job, you may be put to work in menial labor until you are no longer physically functional... and then executed.
|The Qun accepts everyone. That's great. Except that it then demands everything they are, everything they have, everything they dream or want or desire.|
|Oh, Izzy. Stealing treasures and wreaking havoc and not really calculating outcomes...|
But—still—I get why adages like these might be attractive for those seeking to find meaning in life, and who turn to the Qun for support. Because this hearkens right back to the comfort I brought up earlier. Under the Qun, we need not question who we are, what our purpose is, right? We wouldn't need to wonder why we exist. What our suffering is worth. The Qun provides persuasive answers to that, even if in most cases, those answers would be pretty suppressive.
The result was a mighty fantastical regime powerfully reminiscent of real-world regimes like those of the Soviet Union, the Nazis, and North Korea (as well as with a smattering of Imperialist China due to the presence of gunpowder and "gaatlok" explosives).
|As of Dragon Age: Inquisition, the Qun ebbs and flows like a tide across Thedas, gaining and losing sands but always maintaining a calm and terribly certain center.|