[DRAGON AGE]: Josephine is a new character to Dragon Age series. What can you tell us about her?
[SYLVIA FEKETEKUTY]: Josephine is a people person. She’s optimistic, she likes finding solutions, and needs barely any sleep to work at full capacity. She misses the view of the sea from her bedroom in Antiva City (though she only brings that up with friends).
[DA]: What was your process when developing her character?
[SF]: When I came up to DA: Inquisition from the Mass Effect 3 team, the idea for Josephine’s character was basically one word on a whiteboard (“Diplomat???”). When our lead writer, David Gaider, handed me the character and told me to go, that word was enough to get me started. I tried to think of what kind of diplomat would work well with the Inquisition. Why she was the best fit for the role, how the heck she ended up there, how she would bounce off other characters, etc…
[DA]: Was it challenging to start from scratch, or did you enjoy the experience?
[SF]: I enjoyed it, but it was daunting. One of the characters I wrote in Mass Effect 3 was Liara. Fans had gotten to know Liara from ME1 onwards, so I was able to do some fun stuff by pulling from the history players had with her. Josephine, however, I made up from scratch. The freedom was great, but in the back of my mind I was anxiously asking myself “Does her characterization work? Will people enjoy talking with her? Do I know what I’m doing?!”
[DA]: What was the end result?
[SF]: I received some great feedback from the rest of the writing team early on that helped me a great deal. I fell in love with Josephine by the end—especially once I heard her voice actor reading lines for the first time. It was like she’d finally become a real person.
[DA]: As a noblewoman, she seems to bring a different set of skills to the Inquisition. What is her primary area of expertise?
[SF]: Diplomacy. Josephine has worked for years as an ambassador in the royal courts in Thedas. She’s very familiar with Orlesian politics, which comes in handy. She’s an excellent mediator and speaker. Crucially, she knows just how hard it can be to change people’s minds, and how much someone’s ego is tangled up in being “right”. Josephine prefers to gently steer people into agreement whenever possible, but she’ll take a stand when needed. There’s occasionally an iron fist beneath that velvet glove.
[DA]: How would you describe Josephine’s role?
[SF]: Josephine is the head ambassador of the Inquisition. She handles diplomatic disputes on the Inquisitor’s behalf, raising the player’s reputation and spreading the Inquisition’s influence throughout Thedas.
Or in less fancy terms: Josephine does a lot of work that’s very important, and also very boring. Keeping a huge organization like the Inquisition afloat takes negotiations and paperwork and endless politics, but Josephine lives for that kind of stuff. She prides herself on having the Inquisitor’s back (for example, making deals with the right people, or heading off power plays by other nobles) so the Inquisitor is free to make the decisions that actually shape the world.
[DA]: Any other considerations when creating Josephine’s character?
[SF]: From the start, I knew she shouldn’t be a warrior. She’s surrounded by people who are excellent, highly-skilled fighters, and I wanted our diplomat to be different. Josephine’s handier with a pen than a sword, and much more useful negotiating than wandering the wilderness.
[DA]: What did you enjoy most about writing Josephine?
[SF]: Finding a voice for her, finding the ways she fit into the world. Writing the scenes where she becomes friends with the PC. Those can be tricky, but I love it when they come together. Working with Josephine’s voice actor and cinematic designer (the person who “directs” the conversations) was particularly great.
It was also fun to write a romance again. And because I know people will ask: You can try to win Josephine’s heart as any race or gender. I think we ended up with some fun moments whether you’re trying to romance her or just be her friend, but there’s one particular scene that I love.
[DA]: As a skilled diplomat, she must be difficult to win an argument against. Does she get along well with the other advisors?
[SF]: She has a good relationship with Leliana. They’re old acquaintances, and they both know the other is very good at what they do. That said, I think it is a relief for them to see: “Oh, our work styles mesh after all. Phew!” That’s not to say they always agree with each other, but they’re a good team.
Meanwhile, while Josephine and Cullen respect each other, Josephine would always rather work towards a diplomatic solution while Cullen doesn’t always think it’s the practical choice. Josephine can get impatient with that attitude and the clash in their philosophies.
[DA]: At the end of the day, we’ve got to know: in a battle of fashion, who wins between Josephine and Vivienne?
[SF]: Wow, I feel like the last person on earth qualified to judge that! I’ll just say: Vivienne will wear the latest haute couture, no matter how outrageous, and make it look good. Josephine appreciates finely-made clothing, but when it comes to formal wear, she’s a traditionalist. (Of course, Antiva follows lots of Orlesian fashion trends, but Josephine’s not going to admit that. Hometown pride and all.)