- “Kings, politics...all that is transitory.”
Branka is a female dwarf and a member of the Smith caste who rose to prominence and became a Paragon to the dwarves of Orzammar in 9:10 Dragon. She is the only Paragon named within the last four generations.
According to the Shaperate, who keeps extensive records about her, Branka first picked up a hammer right before her third birthday, when she crafted an iron badge in the shape of a nug's ear. This object already bore the first signs of what would become her signature technique, and has been preserved in the Shaperate's vault for its historical value. Branka was married to Oghren, a warrior from House Kondrat before she was twenty. Her family could not have predicted that she would become a Paragon, and the match was considered mutually beneficial at the time.
She rose to the status of Paragon a little over a year after her marriage, before the age of twenty, when she invented a smokeless coal that let the Smith caste increase their output by a third while at the same time decreased deaths from black-lung. This coal could burn in a cave without ventilation and thus was safer and easier for smiths to breathe and work with. Branka's family was elevated to Noble caste and all members of House Kondrat were absorbed into the newly noble House Branka.
However, in 9:28 Dragon, two years before the beginning of the Fifth Blight, Branka took her entire House except Oghren into the Deep Roads in the hopes of finding the Anvil of the Void. She has not been heard from since, and is presumed dead by most of the citizens of Orzammar. Only Oghren maintains hope that she still lives.
During the Dwarf Commoner Origin a Warden may hear of Branka when listening to some merchants chatting in the Commons. Dwarves of the Dwarf Noble Origin will briefly hear her name being mentioned about the quality of her work inside the Diamond Quarter. Other Wardens will first learn of Branka by either running into Oghren in Orzammar or by talking to Loilinar Ivo in the Diamond Quarter. Since she is a Paragon, her voice could be used to overrule the bickering Assembly and decide who will be crowned king; for this reason, both Prince Bhelen Aeducan and Lord Pyral Harrowmont want to retrieve her to end the stalemate through her determination of who will be king.
Her former lover Hespith is encountered near the Dead Trenches during the questline Paragon of Her Kind. Hespith's poem and conversation reveals disturbing insights into the ordeal the dwarves of Branka's house suffered at darkspawn hands during their time in the Deep Roads, as well as offering clues to Branka's behaviour since beginning her quest for the Anvil. Her obsession with the Anvil of the Void has consumed her utterly; there is nothing in her life but its acquisition and she condemned the members of her house to death and worse in her ambition to locate the Anvil.
The Warden finally meets Branka in the Anvil of the Void. She traps the Warden, informing them that the only way out is to run Caridin's gauntlet of traps which guards the Anvil. As the Warden battles the darkspawn she offers chilling glimpses into her mind; among them, she reveals that she willingly sacrificed all her followers in testing Caridin's defenses. She also ignored those begging to be spared the darkspawn taint, even allowing Hespith and the other women to be corrupted into broodmothers, reasoning that doing so would provide her an endless stream of darkspawn to throw at the traps to either solve the puzzles or overwhelm the defenses with sheer numbers.
If the Warden attempts to destroy the Anvil, Branka will activate a control rod that turns four of Caridin's eight golems against him and attack the party, dying in the ensuing battle. If the Warden decides to preserve it, Branka will be paralyzed by Caridin, but still activates the control rod, granting two Stone Golems to assist the Warden. She will then build a crown for the Warden's choice of king and stay in the Deep Roads to research the Anvil, finally creating four golems for the Warden to use in The Battle of Denerim.She can also be persuaded or intimidated to see the suffering caused by using it. If so, she will destroy the Anvil and then commit suicide by leaping into the lava floes.
If the Warden decides to side with Caridin, Branka will attack with 4 golems under her command. Branka is a weapon-and-shield warrior with high physical resistance and, as natural for a dwarf, magic resistance. The best way to defeat her is to first defeat her golems. If her health is less than half, she'll use Lyrium veins to duplicate herself, so use them before she does. The duplicates, when defeated, will vanish in a bright light, and in order to tell them apart from Branka herself, they are armed with longswords as opposed to the mace that Branka wields.
- (when meeting the Warden) "Let me be blunt with you. After all this time, my tolerance for social graces is fairly limited. That doesn't bother you I hope."
- "Is this what our empire should look like? A crumbling tunnel, filled with darkspawn spume? The Anvil will let us take back our glory!"
- Oghren: "What has this place done to you?! I remember marrying a girl you could talk to for one minute and see her brilliance."
- Branka: "I am your Paragon."