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Edea Lea (Mrgrgr)

Wait, you want me to actually write stuff about Edea? Mrgrgr.

Easily the strongest and most badass member of the party, Edea stands out in a game that has more than its fair share of memorable characters. Joining the party a lot earlier than many might expect, Edea is quickly able to recognise when her side has slid off the slope into villany. Her strength is not just physical; Edea is mentally tough to deal with a number of potentially traumatic events and challenges regarding her comrades and loved ones on both sides and keep going with what she thinks is right. That said she does need to drown her sorrows occasionally, and at that time no parfait nearby is safe.

One of the most fun parts about the game is Edea's back and forth dialogue with Ringabel, which really makes the relationship between them. Props must also be given for earning the unanimous choice in the RPG Cast's highly prestigious Best Catchphrase of the Year award. It's no surprise that she earned a full return in Bravely Second, which has finally been announced for an English release. Although we still have to wait until 2016 for it. Mrgrgr. — Alex Fuller



Fall-From-Grace

A beautiful succubus who helps mortals with self-improvement by running an intellectual brothel where patrons pay for conversation instead of sex, Fall-From-Grace stands out as a unique character in a game full of them. In Planescape, succubi are chaotic-evil demons who roam the planes independently, hunt men, drive their carnal passions into a frenzy, and destroy them. Grace lives in crowded Sigil, evoking the passions of others through discourse and language, and gifting them with the pleasures of the mind instead of the pleasures of the flesh. A chaotic creature with a logical way of viewing the world. An evil creature who helps others. Grace has "fallen" by living the life of an angel instead of a fiend.

As a party member, the demoness Grace is the gentle voice of reason and wisdom, love and empathy, and positive guidance in a band of misfits that tends toward the opposite of those virtues. In Planescape: Torment, though, only the most miserable, wretched, tormented creatures are doomed to follow the protagonist. A stoic calm masks her inner conflicts. Her personal diary takes up inventory space but can never be opened. A lady must have her secrets. The closest the player gets to understanding how deeply Grace's fall pains her comes in a conversation with an antagonistic witch:

"The Abyssal temptress..." Ravel sneers, her yellowed fangs piercing her purpled lips as she squints at Fall-From-Grace. "A skin so fair, lips so rich, eyes that might cause you to forget Ravel herself... and yet she suffers, more than any other. When one turns on their nature, many are the torments that arise from such a betrayal."

"Ravel..." Grace replied softly, almost cautiously. "I have come to terms with mó"

"You LIE, succubus!" Ravel's lips peel back in a snarl. "You LIE! Do not DARE lie to me, when your heart is a BOOK to me! Every word you SPIT screams of your torment!"Glenn Wilson



Feena

Looking back at Grandia, the green-haired Feena made for an interesting contrast to the protagonist Justin. Showing up early in the game's second act, she was already a well established adventurer in her own right, and her role was one of mentor and trainer, for all that she wasn't that much older than he was. Strong, competent, but not without her share of problems, she was a good foil to the slightly bumbling adolescence that Justin exemplified. It wasn't until partway through the game's third act that the writers even really tried at a romantic attachment between the two. Then the cast of party members thinned down to just the two of them, and they had to rely on each other for a desperate trip across the sea. For a romantic video game plot arc, I remember it being far more drawn out and detailed than the usual, and for that I hold some fondness for it still. — Michael Baker



Hawke

There are many possible Hawkes, but none can top female Snarky Hawke in Dragon Age II. This is thanks both to BioWare's excellent character writing and superlative voice acting by Jo Wyatt. I wish more games were willing to do what Dragon Age II did, subtly changing tone and even dialogue as the player shapes a character's personality. I love Snarky Hawke because the game's snarky choices aren't always nice and certainly aren't always wise, but they're nearly always amusing. By choosing when to snark and when not to snark, I portrayed my Snarky Hawke as a woman with both a deep distrust of authority and the ovaries to talk back to said authority figures. She'd ticked off pretty much every powerful figure in Kirkwall by the end of the game. At the same time, she was deeply loyal to her family, a loyalty that led her to stand up for persecuted mages despite her usual desire not to get too involved in politics.

The amazing thing about these choices is that I saw my Hawke start to act like the character I was designing even when I wasn't actively entering dialogue choices. Wyatt's tone became less serious, and camera pans of Hawke's face emphasized her famous smirk. This led me to become particularly involved in role-playing her, making the kinds of choices I don't normally make in games because I knew they were choices that Hawke would make. On my Dragon Age Keep tapestry, Origins and Inquisition are full of goody-goody sunshine, while Dragon Age II displays a great deal of murderknife-age. Increasingly frustrated with the inability of the people around her to chill out and share a laugh or two, Hawke stopped suffering fools altogether, and the wicked met the justice of her dual blades even as she made clever quips about the situation.

Like Commander Shepard, Hawke is a great female character because she's written as a character first, without gender-related worries. She's allowed to be aggressive or diplomatic, blunt or clever. It's up to the player to shape the direction she takes as a person over the course of her trials in Kirkwall. Far too few female characters are allowed such a full range of characteristics, which is a real shame. Dragon Age II has many issues as a game overall, but I'll never forget the great times I had with Jezi Hawke, and she'll always be one of my favourite video game characters. — Becky Cunningham

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