"Most people enjoy being kicked in the head to be woken up each morning. Me, I'm just so picky."An apostate who despises blood magic almost as much as the Chantry does. Despite this, the Chantry still sees him as a threat, and keeps him locked up. Since Anders values freedom above all else, he has made many, many, many escape attempts. He finally succeeds when the new Warden-Commander invokes the Right of Conscription to save him from being dragged back to the tower once again. He returns as a companion and potential Love Interest for Hawke in Dragon Age II. Voiced by Greg Ellis.
Birds of a Feather: Tries to invoke this with Nathaniel, who he notes is also hated for who he is. Nathaniel is slightly annoyed by the oversimplification.
Claustrophobia: If brought to the Deep Roads, he nervously notes the miles and miles of rock over your heads. "Is this a bad time to tell you I'm claustrophobic?" It's hard to say how serious he's being, but he claims to have spent a long time in solitary confinement; an entire year after his sixth unsuccessful escape attempt.
Determinator: "After my seventh escape attempt, you'd think they'd have given me credit for trying."
Establishing Character Moment: He's introduced incinerating the darkspawn who just killed his Templar handlers. Then he switches to dorkily wagging his fingers as though going "hot, hot, hot" (trying to downplay his powers?), before denying he killed the Templars ("Uh, I didn't do it.") and making a pretty dark joke about the noises they made when they went down.
Warden: That's inhuman!
Anders: That's what he would call me whenever he kicked me in the head, so I guess it was pretty accurate.
Expy: Some people call him "Mage Alistair," due to his similar sounding accent, hair color and snarkery.
Foreshadowing: If questioned, he reveals that he's actually really pissed off with the Templars and wishes he could have "a harem, a banquet and the ability to rain fireballs upon every Templar in creation." Doubles up as Harsher in Hindsight when you learn that the latter basically sums up his personality and actions in Dragon Age II.
He also makes the observation "Bet they regret that rule," when explaining that the only reason he's avoided being made Tranquil is that it's illegal to do that to a mage who has passed their Harrowing. In Dragon Age II, Anders rages that things are so far gone in the Kirkwall Circle that the Templars are disregarding that rule.
There's a scene where you destroy a religious statue and Anders comments that he's "always up for a spot of light iconoclasm." One is reminded of Jack from ME2 summing up her Deface of the Moon incident as "vandalism."
Genre Savvy: "Wow, a dwarf who smells like a brewery. You never see that anywhere."
Healer Signs On Early: He is the second (first, if you count Mhairi's unfortunate demise) party member you encounter during the opening, and you recruit him pretty much straight away. He comes back shortly after Oghren's arrival even if you let him run.
Irony: If you make him a Blood Mage, he lampshades the irony of it all.
The Atoner: While she'd never admit it, part of the reason she joins the Warden is to make up for being an unwitting pawn in the Architect's plans.
Berserk Button: She's very sensitive about her ears. Any implication of them being oversized sends her into even more of a fit than usual.
Blank Book: One of her conversations involves how much history and folklore her people have lost. You then have the opportunity to give her one of these, as she can still make new stories even if the old ones are gone forever.
Can't Argue with Elves: Oh, yes you can. To her credit, pointing out her volatile temper and calling out some of her hypocrisy generally has good or at least neutral results, making her seem more immature and misguided than genuinely pretentious.
Cutscene Power to the Max: When you first encounter her, she will awaken Wild Sylvans and summon rabid wolves to attack you. That would be an awesome power to have on your side. Sadly, she loses it once she joins the Warden-Commander's merry band.
To the point where she's embarrassed when Sigrun mocks her for believing Oghren's lie about Dwarves being born from rocks.
The Exile: When humans tried to burn down the forest just to drive her clan away, Velanna's Keeper (Ilshae) wanted to pack up and leave. Velanna believed they should fight back, and eventually left the clan entirely.
Fantastic Racism: Towards humans, though it's mainly a result of being on the receiving end for most of her life - the locals were trying to burn her clan out of the woods shortly before you meet her.
Green Thumb: Her abilities lean towards offensive nature-based spells.
"These humans flaunt their contempt of nature. Look at this poor, defenseless tree!"
Hair-Trigger Temper: She doesn't attack you or anything, but it's really easy to earn her disapproval by accident; even responses that are supposed to be complimentary or understanding can rile her up due to the implications. For example, when she sees a tree in Amaranthine she mentions that she was intended to be the Keeper of her clan. If you then tell her she would have been a good Keeper, she says that the last Keeper knew Velanna like a daughter and believed that she would have destroyed the clan, angrily accuses you of arrogance for thinking you know her better than the last Keeper, and moves on before you get a chance to apologise or backtrack.
Hot-Blooded: She doesn't like to mince words or back down from a fight, and chose exile over giving ground to humans. This didn't work out for those who followed her, mainly due to the darkspawn.
I'm Standing Right Here: Tip: do not talk about her like she's an inanimate object or not actually there. A couple of curious city elves find this out the hard way.
"It's a Dalish! Nella, come see!"
"Oh, she's very stern, isn't she? What's she doing here, do you think?"
"I'm right here, you slack-jawed oafs!"
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: It's buried deep under her anger, but she does care for people and is horrified to learn that she had been tricked into killing innocents.
One epilogue even has her protecting humans from a bandit attack, a far cry from when the Warden first meets her.
Jesus Was Way Cool: Velanna admits she holds Andraste in high regard, due to her role in freeing the Dalish from slavery.
Tsundere: Normally none too fond of humans, she does get deredere towards Nathaniel when the two start chatting. Non-romantically, defending her in front of Meran earns her approval, but all she says aloud is not to make a fuss over her. She claims nervous city elves sicken her, but gives them an old Dalish amulet as a reminder of their heritage and tells them to "remember who you are."
Unwitting Pawn: The whole attacking human caravans thing? She was tricked by darkspawn into believing humans had destroyed her clan.
"A wise man once told me never to argue with someone better armed than the entire warrior caste on parade."A member of the Legion of the Dead, a group of dwarven warriors who are symbolically dead and spend the rest of the their lives fighting Darkspawn in the Deep Roads to atone for some crime they have committed. Prior to her "death" she was a casteless dwarf. Despite this, she's actually managed to keep her optimism, even after having her entire squad slaughtered. Voiced by Natalia Cigliuti.
Badass Bookworm: She has the makings of one, given her enthusiasm for the library in Vigil's Keep. The Warden can encourage her to read by pointing out that she's welcome to make use of any of the books there.
Bolivian Army Ending: If the Warden leaves her at Vigil's Keep and doesn't abandon Amaranthine, she leads the charge against the invading darkspawn despite the hopeless odds. "This time, she did not run."
Death Seeker: Her dream in life is to make a Heroic Sacrifice, though it's not as if she complains if she lives though a fight. In fact, she cracks jokes about surviving and how she'll do better next time. She can drop this if the Warden is nice enough to her.
Fate Worse than Death: She is being dragged away by darkspawn when the Warden rescues her. She subsequent dialogue mentions that Legion suspected they were breeding Broodmothers in the area and that they had taken all the other female Legionnaires prisoner already. From her tone, it's clear that she knows all too well what happened to them next.
Flat "What.": When the Warden offers to aid her in eradicating the Darkspawn in Kal'Hirol to avenge the Legion.
Sigrun: What? Really? Did I mention Kal'Hirol is a death trap? Why do you want to do this?
Jumped at the Call: Quite happy to join the Grey Wardens, since as a member of the Legion of the Dead, she expected to go out in a heroic Last Stand against the darkspawn horde anyway. Being told that the Joining is potentially lethal doesn't faze her either.
The Knights Who Say Squee: Her reaction to meeting the Dwarf Commoner Warden - the Casteless Dwarf who beat some of Orzammar's finest warriors in the Provings, became a Grey Warden, ended the Fifth Blight and became a Paragon.
Sigrun: I'd get you to sign my helmet if I could, I know someone back in Dust Town who would sell his teeth for something like that!
Mundane Luxury: She thinks alienages look nice next to Dust Town, and most of her gifts are toys or knickknacks like soap on a rope. "And no-one here is going to throw me out of their store!"
Perky Goth/Plucky Girl: Surprisingly upbeat despite being a Death Seeker. Lampshaded by Nathaniel, with Sigrun responding that she could always choose to Wangst about everything. Nathaniel tells her to stick with "Perky".
"Allow me to say: I'm very proud to serve under your command."An idealistic female knight who joined the Grey Wardens to repay them for saving Ferelden. She fails to survive her Joining. Voiced by Alyx Wilton Regan.
Action Girl: Just watch her taking down darkspawn left and right in the Awakening trailer.
Hero-Worshipper: Absolutely idolizes the Warden, perhaps especially a female Warden. If Alistair is king, she seems rather awed when he shows up for his cameo too.
Jumped at the Call: Volunteers to join the Wardens after they call for new recruits after the events of Origins.
Lady of War: Served in the King's Army before joining the Wardens.
Mauve Shirt: She gets a plot hook and even swears vengeance during a quest. Unlike the Guest Star Party Members in Origins, she can level up and has an approval meter. Then she dies before anything comes of her plot hook.
Appropriately enough, her armor is in fact a dark mauve.
Character Development: Starting off as disdainful of the material world and more dutiful than anything else, Justice can eventually come to learn that the world is beautiful in its own way and be a true Knight in Shining Armor protecting that which he has come to care for.
Chaste Hero: He has no clue as to why Oghren keeps asking him about his memories of Kristoff's marriage. It's a human desire, and benevolent spirits really don't go in for that.
Dark Is Not Evil: His flesh is decaying and he wears the dark colored Armor of the Sentinel in his trailer.
Foreshadowing: His eventual transformation into Vengeance and connection to Anders in Dragon Age II is heavily foreshadowed in his dialogue, with Anders, Nathaniel, and the Warden. At several points, the Warden can even outright ask him if he desires vengeance for Kristoff.
Honor Before Reason: As a sort of embodiment of justice, he believes that wrong-doers should be dealt with accordingly, even if it may not be the most pragmatic decision. Unless he's talked down, he'll turn against the Warden-Commander should the latter decide to ally with the Architect.
After seeing the injustices Mages face, he ends up causing his new host, Anders, to blow up the Kirkwall Chantry in Dragon Age II, which in doing so, ignites a world war between the Mages and Templars throughout Thedas.
Humanoid Abomination: A benevolent one, but still an alien entity that doesn't understand human attitudes occupying the shape of a human.
Warrior Poet: "A world so full of beauty that beauty goes overlooked."
What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Justice finds himself envious of the love between Kristoff and his widow Aura, but also associates such feelings with Desire Demons.
"The Howes are pariahs now, those of us left."A human rogue and son of Arl Howe, Nathaniel initially views his father as a patriot who fought for his nation. Feels the Grey Wardens are traitors for allowing Orlesians into Amaranthine. First seen in a comic from Penny Arcade. Voiced by Simon Chadwick.
Archer Archetype: Was taught to shoot by his grandfather, and the Warden can retrieve his grandfather's bow. He fits the "slightly haughty and aloof" bit.
The Atoner: He honestly wants to make up for how his father single-handedly ruined his family's name, and his failure to put the Blight before his own ambitions.
Avenging the Villain: His original plan when sneaking into the Keep. He decided to just take some family heirlooms and leave, but he still isn't impressed with the Warden when they first meet.
Bears Are Bad News: The Howe crest is a bear, his starting armor is named after it, and he can summon one to fight if you spec him as a Ranger.
Broken Pedestal: He eventually comes to realize that his father was a selfish prick who brought his fate on himself.
Chekhov's Gun: He mentions that he was squired in Kirkwall, a major city in the Free Marches - and the setting of Dragon Age II. (Nathaniel himself only appears in that game in a late-game sidequest, and a possible guest star in the final battle).
Cleopatra Nose: While YMMV on how attractive you find him, many of his fans find his characteristic nose to be appealing.
Combat Pragmatist: He is described in his codex entry as a practical person, and he backs some of the more icky end-game decisions of Awakening, like burning Amaranthine, even if his companion quest (finding his sister, who lives in the city) is completed, and siding with the Architect. (Her appearance in DAII does at least confirm that his sister survives the burning of the city.)
In the same theme, most of his gifts are functional (a bow, a sextant, lock-picks, a whetstone).
Cruel Mercy: What he sees becoming a Warden as, if forced into the Joining. Only later does he realise the reason for his Conscription was because the Warden thought he'd prove to be a better man than his father and wanted to give him a chance to redeem his family name.
It's even more meaningful if the PC is a Human Noble, who lost everything to the machinations of Arl Howe.
Generation Xerox: The subversion is particularly poignant if the Warden is the Human Noble. Both Nathaniel's grandfather and father, Tartleton and Rendon Howe, betrayed the Couslands and fought against Ferelden during the Ferelden Rebellion and Ferelden Civil War respectively. Nathaniel, on the other hand, if befriended, remains loyal, redeems his family name and even saves the Human Noble's brother in one of the epilogues.
Good Is Not Nice: Justice aside, he's probably your most moral party member, but he's broody, irritable and can be pretty insulting if you get on his bad side.
Guttural Growler: If he wasn't one at first, he sounds noticeably raspier during his cameo in II.
Lame Pun Reaction: Anders makes a joke out of Nathaniel's family name in a party banter they share.
Anders: So you're a Howe.
Nathaniel: Do you have a point, mage?
Anders: Hey, I'm fond of the Howes. I'm also fond of the Whys, the Whos, and the Whats.
Ugly Guy's Hot Son: Though opinions may differ as to how hot he actually is, Nathaniel is certainly much easier on the eyes than his father. Whether this is a result of beauty equaling goodness or simply taking after his mother's side is anyone's guess.
The Unfavourite: Subtly implied. He doesn't appear to have been very close with his father, was sent to Kirkwall in the Free Marches to become a squire, and unlike his siblings, was never mentioned by Arl Howe at all during the course of Origins.
You Killed My Father: He was caught trying to assassinate the Warden. Particularly poignant if the Warden is the Human Noble.
"You took that beautiful music from us, and left us nothing!"An insane Broodmother who leads the Disciples.
Nightmare Face: The bleeding face, and the way the lower part of her face opens up and comes off when you fight her.
Taking You with Me: She acknowledges that she stands no chance against the Warden, but tries to kill him/her before she is killed herself.
Unknown Rival: Depending on what order the Warden-Commander tackles the main plot quests in, he/she may not even hear her name until just before she launches simultaneous sieges against Amaranthine and the Vigil.
"I do not seek to rule my brethren. I only seek to release them from their chains."A darkspawn emissary who wants to end conflict between the darkspawn and other races. He first appeared in The Calling and reappears in Awakening. He is very polite, but does not understand the concept of morality. Voiced by Jamie Glover.
Heel-Face Turn: Sometime after the events of The Calling, he discovered that Grey Warden blood can be used to sever the darkspawn's connection to the Old Gods, ending the Blights without killing as many people as he would have with his previous plan. He's still as morally ambiguous as before, though.
Nice Job Breaking It, Anti-Villain: Pretty much everything that happens in Awakening, and for that matter, Origins, can be traced back to him and his own efforts to combat the Blights. The Mother? His doing. The death of all the Wardens and most of the soldiers at the Vigil? His attempt to forge an alliance there that went wrong. The awakening of Urthemiel and the beginning of the Fifth Blight in the first place? His doing!
Non-Malicious Monster: Sort of. Compared to the other darkspawn he's practically a saint and he doesn't seem to possess any genuine maliciousness, but that doesn't mean he can't cause problems accidentally or as a result of his plans to 'save' Ferelden. Just ask Urthemiel.
Not So Different: Both he and the Grey Wardens seek to end the Blights by any means necessary.
The Architect and the Warden's experimentation with the Taint are also highly similar. The Grey Wardens are specialised ghouls who retained their humanity (for 30 years at least), after consumption of specially prepared Darkspawn blood. The Disciples meanwhile are specialised Darkspawn with their connection to the Old Gods severed, granting them sentience, after consumption of Grey Warden blood.
His experimentation in modifying the Taint also makes him similar to Avernus from Warden's Keep.
The Rainman: From his perspective at least. He compares his difference to other Darkspawn with what a mentally-handicapped person with unusual skills is to other races, or what a mage is to a normal human. By human standards he's not handicapped at all, but it's clear that his alienation from the rest of his race bothers him.
Red Right Hand: He looks like a pale human unless he removes his mask, which reveals his disfigured eyes.
Decidedly different from the novel's description, where he looks like just another Hurlock Emissary that happens to be disturbingly polite. He does look considerably more like the redesigned emissaries in Dragon Age II.
Rogue Drone: See Rainman. He was "born" unable to hear the Call and can't explain why.
"Why do some of your kind become Grey Wardens? Why do some possess magic? I have no answers."
The Unfettered: A strange variant. Most Unfettered are aware of moral limits and ignore them; he is unaware and doesn't understand when they're pointed out. His first plan for ending the Blights involved inflicting the Taint on all of Thedas, killing who knows how many of them. Good thing he discovered how to make other darkspawn like him.
We Could Have Avoided All This: When the Warden calls him out on experimenting on them whilst unconscious, he apologises, pointing out that after the Withered screwed up his orders and attacked Vigil's Keep, he didn't believe that they would listen to his proposition?
Well-Intentioned Extremist: His only goal is to find a way to end the conflict between the darkspawn and the rest of the world in a way that allows both sides to coexist. However, a tenuous grasp on concepts like morality and lack of understanding of basic human nature lead him to employ rather monstrous methods, less out of ruthlessness and more out of simply not understanding how horrifying they are to others.
A Silent Sister who joined the Grey Wardens. She later joined the Architect in order to end the Blights. She first appeared in The Calling and makes a cameo in Awakening
Anti-Villain: She only follows the Architect because she believes that he will end the Blights.
Barefisted Monk: In The Calling, although she does use a club occasionally.
The Quiet One: Subverted. While she is mute, she uses sign language to speak fairly often.
Tongue Trauma: Her mutism is justified. Instead a vow of silence, the Silent Sister's cut out their own tongues when joining their order.
Retcon: In The Calling she fights with her fists and after the Architect accelerates the spread of her taint, she resembles a genlock. In Awakening, she uses a sword and looks like a dwarf with decaying skin.
This is because of the game engine, namely the fact that fighting with your fist sucks.
"The spirits will watch in envy as the mortals of this realm bow down before me!"The Orlesian Baroness placed in charge of the Blackmarsh. Infamous for the cruelty of her reign, even death cannot stop her from wreaking havoc.
Back from the Dead: After sundering the Veil she finds out that she's powerful enough to manifest completely in the mortal world without the need to possess another person's body.
Expy: Pretty clearly one of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian aristocrat who gruesomely murdered dozens of young women and was rumoured (though never proven) to have bathed in their blood to remain youthful.
It's All About Me: Due to her high station, she views her peasants as her possessions. Thus, in her mind, she can do whatever she wants with them.
Kill It with Fire: She finally died when her peasants revolted and burned down her mansion with her inside of it. Unfortunately for them, she was able to cast one final spell before dying, which trapped all of them in the Fade with her.
One-Winged Angel: Since feasting on her peasants' souls, she's become a Dark Pride Demon, one of the most powerful kinds of demon encountered in Thedas.
Smug Snake: Her opinion is that, as a Baroness of Orlais, her peasants should just lay down and let her do whatever she wants to them. After coming back to the mortal world, she seems to think she's powerful enough to Take Over the World on her own.
Taking You with Me: When her peasants burned down her house, her final act was to kill them all and trap their spirits in the Fade.
Vain Sorceress: She preserved her youth via Blood Magic, and her spirit keeps her beautiful form even after becoming a Pride Demon. Her peasants also call her vain a few times.
Would Hurt a Child: The rituals that restored her youth? She murdered her peasants' children in order to take the blood to perform them.
Your Soul Is Mine: Not only did she trap her peasants souls in the Fade, she's been feeding off them. Apparently this caused her transformation from mortal soul to demon.
The Disciples are Darkspawn, mainly Hurlocks, that have shown a keen cunning and intellect all but unheard of in regards to Darkspawn. They are the only Darkspawn that can speak intelligibly to non-Darkspawn, hold independent identities and free will, and choose their own names. All are voiced by Mark Meer.
Tropes common to all the Disciples:
Facial Markings: Disciples who follow the Architect have markings over their eyes that resemble his mask. Ones that follow the Mother have red streaks like Tears of Blood, just as she does.
It Can Think: Darkspawn cannot hold a coherent thought long enough to create complex plans (like ambushes or tactical manoeuvres) or suppress their innate savagery long enough to co-operate without an Archdemon to direct and control them. That's why Blights are so bad. The Disciples don't need an Archdemon or even a leader to hold on to their sapience, which really frightens the Gray Wardens.
Noble Demon: He specifically says that he only kills what is necessary, and frowns on unneeded bloodshed. Ironic, considering his original goals.
Poor Communication Kills: He interpreted "attempt to negotiate with the Warden in Vigil's Keep peacefully" as "kill everyone in the Keep except the Warden-Commander, and then parley with the Warden-Commander alone."
Warm-Up Boss: Depending on your imported level anyway. He introduces the player to the new warrior skills in his boss fight.
A Disciple loyal to the Mother. He and his forces have taken the ruins of the dwarven city Kal'Hirol, using it as a breeding ground for their Broodmothers. When the Warden confronts him, he is already under siege by darkspawn loyal to the Architect.
Association Fallacy: He attacks the Warden believing them to have come into Kal'Hirol as part of the forces allied with the Architect. In reality, the Warden came to investigate the reports of sentient darkspawn and clear out the Broodmothers, as well as aiding Sigrun in avenging the Legion. Depending on the order the quests are done in, this also may be the first time the Warden has even heard the Architect's name.