My first attempt at Dragon Age: Origins fell short before I left the prologue. I was bothered about having rolled a dark-skinned city elf only for my family to turn out to be all visibly white, and I was further bothered by the city elves’ oppression compounded by the casual rape and murder exacted by our human “betters.” I closed the game and re-rolled as a rough and tumble thug within the dwarven underclass of Orzammar. My sister was still a prostitute, but at least this opening lacked the tinge of endless rape and degradation of the city elf origin.
I really enjoyed playing that casteless dwarf. I wore my Dust Town brand with pride when I crushed the best warriors in the city beneath my armored heel. On the surface, no one noticed my class and often enough tended to forget I was even a dwarf by the time that I was running them through with a blade. Dwarven merchants Bodahn and Sandal never commented on my tattoo, which I thought was plum nice of them. In no time at all, I was wooing prince’s hearts, running around in King Cailin’s armor and converting to Andrastianism, so satisfied I was that the game gave me openings to defy the constraints of the dwarven caste system without shunting me back into another system of oppression.