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Dissent - Introduction
This is a fairly quick and standard companion quest for Anders. He’ll add this to your journal after you’re prompted to talk to him in his clinic.
Walk over to the secret entrance in Darktown and then go inside. Remember to bring a rogue, since there will be a few locked chests with decent loot along the way. Other than that, just make sure you have a tank and warrior to support Anders, and you'll be fine.
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Dissent - Lyrium Smugglers
Move forward to run right into a group of lyrium smugglers. It looks like we know what this secret tunnel was really made for. Engage the smugglers. This first group should present no trouble. Tie them up with a tank and have Anders take them apart with AOE magic. There’s also a group of cave spiders off to the side. Just engage the main group of normal spiders with a tank while another warrior engages the poisonous ones. Once again, Anders’ AOE magic will wear everyone down quickly.
Follow the main path forward again and you’ll find another group of smugglers. This one is actually smaller than the first though, so I can’t imagine you having any trouble with it. There’s another one right ahead. This one is also small, but there are two foremen in it. Make sure that your tank draws away both of them so that you can take out the general party and then gang up on the leaders.
After you take them out, you should run right into the group of templars.
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Dissent - Killing Ser Alrik
Ser Alrik will have a young mage cornered, and show his true colors. No matter what you do, Justice will come out and engage the templars.
This battle is surprisingly difficult. You will need to be very careful with the flow of it. The problem is that a large group of reinforcements will come in, and that group is made up of archers and a hunter.
If you don’t at least kill the hunter in the first group, then things get very unpleasant. Do not have your squad attack the grunts until the hunter is dead. Have your tank focus on Ser Alrik and have everyone else fight the hunter and pray that you can bring him down. I had fairly good luck with freezing him using Anders magic and then shattering him with a mighty blow. Other similar combos should work. The tight space should make a walking bomb effective too, if you have someone who knows it.
Once the first hunter is down, you need to manage the battle carefully. Mages just love to run up the steps, which is the worst place that they can go. If they go up the steps, they’ll be caught in the middle of the reinforcements and they’ll probably die within a few seconds from repeatedly being knocked to the ground.
Alrik himself is actually not too hard. When the second group comes in, have your tank run up the steps and engage the archers to keep them off of your weaker members. A warrior needs to take on the few men that dropped down from the cliff. If you can keep your mages away from the fight, pop potions as needed and take out the second hunter, then you’ll be fine. Alrik dies quickly from a sustained attack and he’s helpless without his men.
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Dissent - Aftermath
Once the fight is over, Justice will be confused and will want to hurt Ella. There should be a star option on the bottom left (I believe this is just tied to having a strong positive or negative relationship with Anders) which will let you snap him out of the spell. If you can’t or don’t do this, then he’ll attack the girl. Fenris will be very angry, and you’ll miss out on big friendship bonuses with Aveline and Anders for failing to stop Justice.
Anders runs off regardless, but the fighting is over. You will need to decide Ella’s fate. Sending her back to the Circle pleases Fenris, and telling her to leave will obviously displease him. Since Anders can’t be in the party at the moment, there shouldn’t be anyone to praise your pro-apostate decision. Loot the bodies and make sure that you grab the papers off of Alrik’s body to learn more about his failed plan. There’s also an armor upgrade for Anders in a chest in the rear. Grab it and head back to the Clinic.
If you want, you can tell Anders to leave at this point, and he will. He’ll be gone for the rest of the game, so I don’t know why’d you want to take this path. You can also show him that Alrik’s plans were dead in the water to calm him down, or you can be aggressive but supportive (to pick up a little rivalry).
Once you’ve talked to Anders, you will have completed the quest.
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All screenshots from "Dragon Age 2."
All information based on a "hard" difficulty playthrough, unless otherwise noted.
There are a number of companion quests to help you get to know your allies in Dragon Age 2 in Act 2. This guide will cover several of them, including Mirror Image, The Long Road, Family Matters, To Catch a Thief and Dissent.