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 is one of the hardest in Act 1 due to the sheer number of enemies that appear, their health and armor, the constant ranged attacks, and Captain Qerth's healing aura. Nightmare makes this worse by adding cold immunity to the Pretenders and friendly fire.
Even on Nightmare the Pretenders are vulnerable to fire, so a mage with a fire staff and Elemental Weapons is highly recommended. Bonus points if they also have Haste and Heal. Aveline is a must-have, with all of her tactics set to tanking and use of Taunt. If you're willing to spare 8 to buy The Anderfel Cleaver (deals fire damage), Fenris can also be highly effective.
Qerth's healing aura makes him the primary target. Once his health is below 50%, finish him quickly before he can use a health poultice with cross-class combos, burst damage (e.g. Twin Fangs) and Haste. After that, it's a matter of holding out until the 30 or so Critter/Normal/Elite Pretenders are wiped out. Kill archers first. Second wave of the enemies spawns in the room near the entrance, so it's better to stay in the large room.
Hawke can now walk around Hightown at night without being ambushed by thugs.
- Palvo's Cocksure Cleaver
Requires: Weapon and Shield
Damage: 12 physical damage
(23 per second)
+14% threat generation (dropped by Captain Qerth)
- Formari Work Boots
Requires: 18 magic
+18 attack (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 currently 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.