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This quest is an independent side quest that will give you a chance to get some good money, make an ally and potentially exact swift justice. Regardless, it's actually not too hard, if you understand how to fight arcane horrors.
It's also a necessary step for getting the spider silk gland that the herbologist needs.
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Magistrate's Orders - Clearing a Path
I personally brought Anders, Bethany and Aveline on this along with my warrior. It’s up to you though. Just go up into the mountains and reach the ruins. Walk past the guards to trigger a cutscene with the enraged elf father. You don’t have to make your decision on the fugitive’s fate just yet, but the sides are fairly clear. You can either obey the magistrate or guarantee justice yourself.
Go into the passage when you’re ready. There is only one actual path through the ruins, since most of the doors are sealed. Start by going straight ahead to massacre a few raiders for easy XP and gear, then backtrack to the left and into the large hall. There will be a wave of giant spiders, but they should barely scratch you.
There will be two waves of spiders in the next hall, but one will be a venomous spider with a lot of health and a nasty spitting ability. Grind the normal ones down as fast as possible with area spells and attacks, then have the tank pull the venomous spider’s fire so your mages can work in peace.
Loot the spiders, and get the silk gland from the venomous spider, since it’s apparently important for the herbologist.
Move into the next hall and follow it to the end to get a chest, then backtrack and go into the big center hall. Save first. When you move into the big hall, an arcane horror will spawn along with giant spiders and walking corpses.
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Magistrate's Orders - The Big Fight and The Big Decision
This one is actually counter-intuitive, since you don’t want to kill all the spiders right away. Have your tank pull the weaklings to it, and have your mages help wear them down, while a fighter rushes the arcane horror. You’ll want to kill this mage before you kill enough of the spiders that you trigger the second wave. The corrupted spider in the second wave is really tough too, and you do not want to face both of the bosses at the same time.
The arcane horror is easy to kill in combat, if you watch it carefully. It has two basic attacks. It can spawn a bunch of corruption in an area, which doesn’t seem to do much damage. It can also turn a massive circle around it into a lasting cold attack. This does an absurd amount of damage. If you see it clench its fists and start producing a blue aura, run away. It will also teleport around a bit, so you’ll have to chase it. Stun attacks can usually work against it, but they aren’t guaranteed.
Use hit and run attacks to kill the arcane horror, then finish off the spiders and trigger the second wave. The second wave has a few more giant spiders, along with a few poisonous spiders (somewhere a biology professor is crying) and a corrupted spider. Have a fighter tear through the weak poisonous ones, and have the tank draw away the corrupted spider. This should just be another grind. If you can keep the tank on its feet, you’ll be fine.
Loot the room and walk out to the hallway through the back door. A few more skeletons will spawn. It should be a bunch of very weak archers. Just use a few area attacks to take them out quickly.
Walk through the door at the end to find the elf girl and tell her that the way is clear. When you find Kelder, you will have to make a decision. For practical purposes, Aveline puts 5 points to rivalry if you spare him, and 5 to friendship if you carry out justice (she’s upset that the magistrate is shielding him).
You can use the fast exit to leave and see your results. Talk to the the Magistrate in Hightown to either receive your reward or hear your threat. Note that this isn’t a cutscene conversation, it’s just a speech bubble, so you might miss it.
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All screenshots and references from "Dragon Age 2"
All information based on a playthrough on "Hard" difficulty, unless otherwise noted.