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Family Matter - Introduction
This is a surprisingly long quest for a companion quest. You’ll pick this up after Varric gets a little time to look for his brother Bartrand.
When you get this quest, you’ll need to head to the marked mansion in Hightown with Varric in tow. As he’ll note, the place doesn’t exactly look occupied, so go in expecting a fight. I think any balanced party will be fine. You'll have Varric for ranged support, so I suggest bring Anders and a tank/warrior to round out the party and make things a bit easier.
The first one is a fairly interesting little bit that I won’t spoil. Just use Varic’s abilities to take out the wave of guards until the story gets back on track.
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Family Matter - The Crazed Guards
Once you recover, your party will be waiting in the side room. You’ll run right into a group of 4 crazed guards. Just engage and take them out. You’ll be facing a lot of these guys, so be ready and develop your own strategy.
The next room has 3 guards and a commander. Take out the commander’s men and then grind him down yourself. The next room is just another repetition. You’ll face two waves with some crazed guards and a commander.
The next area is a bit more complicated, since all of the side rooms and the hallways have some crazed guards lying in wait. Just move forward carefully and try to go room by room. If you watch yourself, it shouldn’t be too difficult to take them all out and pick up a bit of loot.
There is a chest in the back room with a complex lock. If Varric can’t unlock it, then don’t worry too much about it. It’s not actually required for the chest, it’s just some more companion armor for Varric.
The real thing you have to do is use the side door to enter the main hall. That’s where the real fight is.
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Family Matter - The Crazed Commander
Before we start, let’s just cover the basics first. There should be a really nasty spike trap near the center of the floor. This pressure trap will injure who ever steps on it and then steps off, and it will continue to operate for a bit until it badly hurts most of your party. Watch out for it and try to disarm it.
The crazed guards are out in force, along with two commanders. You will need to be ready to take out a lot of guards at once and keep your tanks alive. You actually may have to get a bit fancy. In particular, walking bomb did wonders for causing huge damage to both commanders. Normal AOE spells, like Tempest and Firestorm, are also good for general crowd control.
As a rule, you should be able to use your fighters and tank to run up the steps and bottleneck the mercenaries and the two commanders. If you can keep them blocked off, Varric and your mage should be able to wait on the floor and just rain down on the tightly gathered guards. For the most part, it’s just an average grind. The crazed guards aren’t too bad, and they are not a huge threat to a warrior if you can hold them up on the stairs. Wide swings should be fine for taking them out.
Once the floor is more clear, you can focus on the commanders. Basic things, like freezing them and then using heavy hits will do wonders. They don’t have much in the way of special abilities, so just try to tough it and use a few healing potions and you should be fine.
One of the only surviving servants will tell you what’s happened after the fight, and direct you to the back bedroom. Heal up your injuries and then go into the back room to find Bartrand and start the final fight.
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Family Matter - Fighting Bartrand
Bartrand is basically a very strong rogue, but thankfully he doesn’t have many guards left. Just take out the few remaining crazed guards on the floor, and then focus on Bartrand. His backstab is quite nasty, but he’ll die quickly with some basic combos. For instance, a mighty blow while he’s brittle seems to take almost half of his health. Similar stunning attacks and freezing attacks should just be fine to weaken him. If you can pop healing potions to overwhelm his attacks, then you’ll be fine.
Things will only get really bad if he manages to backstab Anders (or any other mage that you brought with you). Even in that case, it's just a matter of drinking a few more potions.
Once Bartrand is hurt badly, he’ll surrender and you’ll get your chance to talk to him.
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Family Matter - Bartrand's Fate
If Anders is with you, he can clear Bartrand’s mind of the curse for a bit and allow him to actually talk to Varric again. You’ll be stuck with a bit of a tough choice though. You can either let him go (knowing that his condition will return), or kill him.
Anders, Aveline and Varric will all gain friendship with you if you kill him before you heal him (while he’s just a raving lunatic). No one’s happy if you let him live without being healed temporarily, Aveline and Varric will take particular offense.
If you kill Bartrand after he has been healed, Varric won’t be angry, but he won’t be happy either. Aveline will still gain a lot of friendship though (since you aren’t releasing a maniac into her city). If you let him go after being temporarily healed, then Varric will be happy, but Aveline and Fenris will be quite angry.
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All images and screenshots taken from "Dragon Age 2".
All information is based off of a "hard" difficulty playthrough unless otherwise noted.