Into the Breach
As you approach the keep, you'll see that things aren't right. Help the soldier kill the three genlocks. If you have trouble with this, then you're really in trouble. Once the fight is over, you can talk to your new ally Mhairi. She's a level 21 shield warrior. She's really powerful and she's a big help. You can go ahead and level her up a bit now if you want.
Approach the gate and watch the left side of the field. There should be some genlocks we need to kill. I counted 5. There's are chests on the left and right side. Go ahead into the fortress and engage the first group. There are some shrieks here too and an ogre. The ogre's weak though, so it should die in a few hits. Turn to the right side and rush over to help the soldier. Try to save him if you can. He'll head to the gate and set the rally point.
Go over to the raised platform on the left. Gut the three hurlocks and save the terrified merchant. Loot the area and then walk along the wall to the next area. There should be another soldier you can save on the right side. Cut a path through to him and add him to the force you're building. Approach the big gate by going up the single set of steps. The mage behind it will blow the gate upon and clear you a path, but it will also probably knock you down. You should be safe just killing the two hurlocks and then rushing the mage. If you're having trouble, rush on ahead and kill the mage first. Mhairi can handle the hurlocks.
Saving the Soldiers – Medical Supplies
Quickly turn to the left and save the soldier guarding the wounded. He's only facing two hurlocks, but the fight probably started as you approached the mage. He'll ask that you get some medicine for the wounded men. It's on on the right side of the courtyard.
Go through the open gates and charge through to the end to save the soldier. He's a dual wielding rogue, so he can dish out a lot of damage once you get the two hurlocks off his back. This is a good thing too, since a few shreiks will rush out and you'll actually have a big battle on your hands. Perfectionists can just hole up here and fight. The problem is that this probably triggered the fight by the medical supplies. The soldier is just an archer, so he won't last long. If you want to save him, I suggest you rush to him as soon as the dual wielder is free. Kill the two hurlocks to save him. Mhairi can probably handle most of the hurlocks and shrieks. She has a ton of health. Even if she dies, one injury isn't a big deal. Loot the area and then grab the medical supplies from the marked crate. Walk back to the soldier and hand him the supplies. Loot the crates by the wounded and then go through the big gate to the interior of Vigil Keep.
Opening the Gate
There are three shrieks on the first floor. Stand your ground and kill the little guys. We need to open the big gate ahead by pulling the lever. Unfortunately that door is blocked and we have to go the long way around. Go up the right side and go through the door to meet a new friend. It seems that we have a new apostate in our service, Anders. Be nice to him and add him to your party. Go ahead and level him up. He had nine spots for spells for me. Note that he is already a pretty good healer thanks to the spirit healer specialization. If you need help picking spells, you can look at our Dragon Age Mage Guide.
Move further into the tunnel and you can spot a survivor behind some barricades. Rush the hurlocks and save the survivor. Click on him to get him to run for it and start the “Survivors of Vigil Keep” side quest. We need to keep an eye out for more survivors throughout keep. Go out onto the Vigil Keep Battlements.
There are five hurlocks here along with an emissary. If you want, you can use the ballista mount to turn the ballista and fire on them. Have someone rush the mage or have Anders use Crushing Prison on the emissary to hold him up. Grind through the rest and go back inside. Walk out through the door and pull the lever. It seems that we have another friend up ahead.
Go back into the little guardhouse and break down the barricade. You can go out this door to reach the main hall again. There are a few hurlocks on the floor. Just kill them and run down the hall. Open the side door to free another survivor. The door ahead lead to a heavily occupied hall.
Clearing Vigil’s Keep – Finding the Survivors
Go inside and get ready for a big fight. Have someone rush the emissary. He's pretty strong and if you leave him alive long enough he'll use the Curse of Mortality spell on someone, which is pretty nasty. Heal when you need to do so and wrap up the weaklings protecting the mage. Go through the door on the left into the little supply room for some runestones.
Both doors ahead lead to the same place. The one on the right is a longer route and it has the last two survivors in it. We can get another warrior before that fight though. You might as well go through the center one. It seems that an old friend is already waiting for us. Help Oghren grind through some more darkspawn. The only real trick is that one genlock is standing on a glyph trap. Attacking him will result in a stunned ally. Oghren is in god mode though, so he'll be fine. Talk to him afterwards to flesh out your party with another warrior. Make sure you level him up, since he should have a lot of spaces open.
Go around to the other big room. Run inside and have someone rush to the emissary. You might want to send two in fact. Every time I ran into the room, the emissary used Crushing Prison on the survivor. This will kill him quickly. Have Anders hang back and just use heal on him to keep him alive until someone can kill the emissary. Mop up the rest once the danger is averted.
Go into the next room. The last survivor of Vigil Keep is here. There are just two darkspawn here, but they are lieutenants. The emissary isn't actually that bad though. The worst he'll do is cast chain lightning, which doesn't seem to really hurt the survivor. She'll run away quickly too. Have someone distract the hurlock alpha while the rest kill the emissary. All four of you can easily kill him.
You should get a notice about saving all of the survivors if you've been following my Dragon Age: Awakening guide. This should also be enough to level you up again. Go back to Oghren's room and through the back door. You'll find a man called Rowland here. You can't do anything to save him. He'll tell you about the darkspawn leader and point you toward the battlements. Charge ahead and kill the genlocks archers in the next room. Clear the side rooms for some more easy loot and experience. Go out the door in back to reach the battlements.
The Grande Finale – Seneschal Varel and Withered
Move forward and you should find Seneschal Varel and The Withered. This fight isn't that hard, although it is a steep increase in difficulty from what we've seen. Have someone kill his three weak men and then just surround and pound this tough guy. Oghren should be a good tank if you aren't. Even Mhairi can hold her ground, if Anders keeps healing her. The interesting note is that he seemed to be quite determined. When I went to move Mhairi so that he would attack my warden, he just kept following her. I'm sure there is a way that you could exploit that. You shouldn't have to though. Just keep healing the tank and let your warriors grind him down. Rogue wardens will probably be able to rip right through him. Otherwise just grind him down.
Once the fight is over, Varel will talk to you. You'll also get some company in the form of royal reinforcements. I saw a group led by Alistair. I assume it shifts based on your decisions on who should be king. Talk to them for a bit. You can save Anders by using the right of conscription for a beautiful little reversal of our origin story 80 hours ago.
Once the conversation is over, you can make some choices with Varel. Go ahead and trigger the Joining. Unfortunately we're going to lose Mhairi. There's nothing you can do to save Mhairi. You still have Anders and Oghren though, so we're alright.
There's a whole bunch of random stuff that we should take care of now. We need to get the main quest rolling and start taking care of Vigil Keep quests. I'll take care of all the little Vigil Keep side quests in another series. For now, you should take care of what you can before leaving for Amaranthine.
We can pick up a few quests off the bat. They're all in Amaranthine, so just take them all now. Varel can tell you about a surviving Grey Warden called Kristoff. Woolsey can tell you about some very heavy raiding on the Pilgrim's Path. Garevel will tell us about a lead on an entrance to the Deep Roads. For each of these you basically just need to talk to the contact in Amaranthine to start the quest. These are the innkeeper, Mervis and Colbert.
Also go ahead and talk to your new enchanter and merchant. Read the books, loot the book piles for some rune instructions too. Check the weapon rack. Dumat's spine is a great sword and it is probably better than what you have. I know that it was better than Topsider's Honor. The armor is only half decent, although the Trickster's Tunic is worth grabbing for a rogue or possibly Anders. Make sure you check with the enchanter. You should have some new runes for your armor.
When you're ready step outside.
The private here will hand you some new Letters for the Commander and tell you about a thief you can recruit in the dungeon. Accept the side quests and then go into the dungeon to get the thief. You can just talk to Nathaniel. He's Arl Howe's son, which somewhat complicates things. He's a good rogue though, so I suggest that you save him through the Joining.
You can talk to Herren outside to see that Master Wade came up to Vigil's Keep to be our armorer. This should open up the Elemental Requirements quest. He also has a backpack we can buy and some dragonscale and drakeskin armor.
Sergeant Maverlies is outside too. She thinks that a few darkspawn are still alive in the rubble. This starts the “It Comes from Beneath” quest. I suggest that you do it.
This will advance things a bit. If you do it, then you can handle the "Oaths of Fealty" mission too.
Voldrik should be waiting for you near the exit. You can talk to him to learn about the bad state of the walls in Vigil's Keep. You can start the “Cost of Business” quest. We'll need to get some more money to actually fix the castle walls.
That's it though. We need to head to Amaranthine after that (or handle the quests).
This post is part of the series: Dragon Age: Awakening Guide – Main Quest – Part 1
- Dragon Age: Awakening – Retaking Vigil's Keep
- Dragon Age: Awakening – Finding Kristoff – Shadow of the Blackmarsh
- Dragon Age: Awakening – Undying Blackmarsh – Shadow of the Blackmarsh
- Dragon Age: Awakening Walkthrough – The Wending Woods – The Righteous Path
- Dragon Age: Awakening Walkthrough – The Silverite Mine – The Righteous Path