The Hanged Man (night)
The Guardsman Pretenders are trying to take over Hightown at night. Killing the majority of them will reveal the location of their hideout and leader.
Enter "The Barracks", defeat the gang and its leader Captain Qerth. Don't forget to loot the chest at the top of the stairs. Afterward, return to The Hanged Man at night and speak to A Friend for a reward.
This fight can be extremely difficult due to the sheer number of enemies that appear (at least 2 Elites to back up Captain Qerth), their health and armor, the constant ranged attacks, and Captain Qerth's healing aura. Nightmare makes this much worse by adding friendly fire and cold immunity to the Pretenders, which means Cone of Cold and Brittle combos are not viable.
However, they retain their vulnerability to fire, so a mage with a fire staff and Elemental Weapons is highly recommended. Only Varric has access to a weapon rune in Act 1, but the tendency of even ranged allies to get swarmed means he will not be very useful here.
Aveline is a must-have, with all of her tactics set to tanking and use of Taunt. If Anders is the fire-imbuing mage, he can heal her and use Haste as well, another critical ability to overcome the enemy numbers.
Abilities that cause stun (Pommel Strike, Miasmic Flask), interrupt, and knockdown (Shield Bash, Fist of the Maker) are highly recommended once Qerth's health is below 50%. This will allow him to be killed quickly, before he can use a health poultice. His healing aura makes him the primary target, after which it's a matter of holding out until the 30 or so Critter/Normal/Elite Pretenders are wiped out.
Finally, if the fight proves too difficult, a Two-Handed warrior (preferably Fenris with upgraded Lyrium Ghost) can equip The Anderfel Cleaver (requires Black Emporium DLC), an axe which deals 20 fire damage per hit. This weapon can drop the Critter ranks by itself in 3 or 4 hits and take out Normals with a couple of basic combos and an ability like Mighty Blow, or basic attacks powered by the very useful Cleave. However, it costs 8 sovereigns, which can cut into your funding of the expedition or buying other useful items for the trip, and it may not be worth buying just for this one fight (although it does have value in the Deep Roads against the darkspawn).
Hawke can now walk around Hightown at night without being ambushed by thugs.
- Palvo's Cocksure Cleaver (dropped by Captain Qerth)
- Formari Work Boots (dropped by Captain Qerth)
- Random loot
- 500 XP
- A Friend only appears at night, in the back room of The Hanged Man. She will continue to give out rewards each time the player clears out a band of thugs in the subsequent side quests.
- Like all nighttime gang quests, several waves of enemies will not appear unless Hawke leaves the area and then returns. Also like all other such quests, the hideout location will be revealed even if 1-2 groups of gang members have not been cleared (so as not to be rendered impossible to complete if another quest NPC is curretly blocking a group from spawning in a specific location). These quests become available after killing four groups. But there are always six groups available to be cleared before going to the final location.
- pcps3xbox360 Sometimes a Guard Pretender may become stuck at the Merchant's Guild (map marker) area of the district, it will be located behind one of the small statues on either side of the door in the northeast corner of the courtyard. Failure to kill it will prevent other groups from spawning.