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Voiced by: Alastair Parker

"All a Warden is, is a promise. To protect others, even at the cost of your own life."

Warden-Constable Blackwall is a Grey Warden who was once stationed in Val Chevin, and elects to join the Inquisition. He is a romance option for a female Inquisitor of any race.

Written by Sheryl Chee.

  • All There in the Manual: Blackwall's first name, Gordon, is only given in World of Thedas Vol. 2. The real Blackwall, that is. It's unknown if Thom Rainier even knew Gordon's first name.
  • At Least I Admit It: Inverted. When the Inquisitor first speak to him at Haven, Blackwall will tell them, if they are non-human, that he expected them to be one. The Inquisitor can say that they appreciate the honesty, but Blackwall will admonish himself for thinking something so foolish.
  • The Atoner: He pretends to be Warden Blackwall to atone for accepting a bribe, ordering his troops to slaughter an Orlesian general and his family, and deserting his post, allowing his subordinates to be punished in his stead. He also feels unworthy over the fact the real Blackwall died saving him from a darkspawn ambush.
  • Badass Beard: Was streaked with silver in concept art. Some later party banter between him and the Iron Bull reveals that he grew the beard specifically to hide his face and make it less obvious that he wasn't the real Blackwall. He's fully aware of how the trope applies to him, too:
    Sera: Do all Grey Wardens have beards?
    Blackwall: No, just me. I stole all the beards (dramatic voice) and all the power within! There can be only one.
  • Bash Brothers: He best fits this with Iron Bull. Cassandra might have also fit before The Reveal.
  • Beardness Protection Program: He grew the beard to keep others from realizing that he wasn't really Blackwall, as well as to help distance himself from his old identity of Thom Rainier.
  • Becoming the Mask: If taken to the Grey Wardens after the battle against Corypheus, he will survive the Joining and become a true Grey Warden. In the Trespasser epilogue, it is stated that between his duties as a Grey Warden, he will continue to do what he did while disguised as Blackwall despite having no reason to continue acting this way. Furthermore, if the Inquisitor romances him, they will have proof that he became Warden-Constable (second most important Warden in a whole country), which is the same title as the real Blackwall.
  • Birds of a Feather: If a female Dwarven Inquisitor romances him, since both of them are ex-criminals trying to make a new life. Blackwall will acknowledge the similarity himself.
  • Broken Pedestal: He's on both ends of this trope.
    • Giving on: During the Warden questline, he's shocked to see the actions his fellow Grey Wardens would do when hearing the Fake Calling and ultimately is nearly shattered completely by the end. Given that he respects them because he isn't actually one, it makes sense why he does.
    • Receiving: The party, for the most part, all respect Blackwall and see him as a good man and a fine example of a Warden. When it turns out he's not the real Blackwall, most of the party vehemently dislike him. The biggest example is Cassandra, who goes from seeing Blackwall as an ally and friend to practically regarding him as an enemy, and only working with him because he may still be in the Inquisition. The only people to respect and like him still are Varric, Sera and Cole (who always knew Blackwall's secret and therefore wasn't surprised or bothered). Iron Bull, Dorian and Solas ease up a little; Cullen will eventually forgive him in the Trespasser DLC; and Cassandra eventually seems to warm up a little through some banter, or at least becomes less hostile to him.
  • Character Development: Both off-screen and during the game. He goes from an amoral mercenary captain and murderer to a champion of the weak. Then, just after he's earned a position in the Inquisition and the respect that goes with it, he gives it all up and surrenders himself to save one of his men facing execution for following his orders. If he doesn't go to the Wardens, then two years later the player finds he's started using his old name again and has been tracking down and speaking to his men. And getting punched a lot, but he can take it.. If he does go to the Wardens, he will continue to help others after officially becoming a Warden, fully embracing his vision.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome:
    • He feels that the Grey Wardens' role should not be restricted to fighting darkspawn, but also protecting the defenseless whenever possible. Not a sentiment shared by most Grey Wardens. Of course, given that the main threat in Inquisition turns out to be the darkspawn, he still has an excuse.
    • Interestingly, this also serves as a sort of foreshadowing, depending on the Inquisitor's choices. If the Wardens are recruited to the Inquisition after the siege of Adamant instead of being exiled from Orlais, the epilogue states that they eventually break away from the motherhouse at Weisshaupt and dedicate themselves to not only fighting darkspawn, but also to helping people in a variety of other ways - just as Blackwall wanted.
  • Compensating for Something: When Sera asks why Dwarven architecture is so large when dwarves are so short, this is Blackwall's explanation. When Sera turns that back at him by pointing out that he swings around a big sword, he replies, "That's not compensation. That's a counterweight."
  • Courtly Love: If not romanced, he engages in this with Josephine, sending her anonymous gifts of flowers and receiving scented handkerchiefs and other tokens in return. It starts after The Reveal. If asked about it later in Trespasser, he says that he knew it was never going to go anywhere.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: How he was recruited into the Wardens. His recruiter saw him entering the inn and took him for some random drunkard. When a customer tried to force himself upon a waitress, however, that same drunkard was off his seat and on that customer in an instant. He then proceeded to beat him and his four friends with the broken leg of a chair (which one of the attackers broke on his back, not fazing him in the slightest) so hard that they were crying for the Maker when he was done. It was then that the Warden decided to recruit him, no questions asked.
  • Cultured Warrior: Among other things, he surprises Vivienne with his detailed knowledge of the trappings of Orlesian nobility.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Of the original Blackwall.
  • Death Faked for You: During his sidequest, one option is to have Leliana's agents swap him with a double so that his death is faked a second time.
  • Death Seeker:
    • Downplayed, but Blackwall takes the "in death, sacrifice" part of the Warden creed very seriously.
    • If you bring him along on "In Hushed Whispers", he's moved to hear of his future self's sacrifice, sombrely noting that he was "worth something in the end."
    • His first conversation after reaching Skyhold, he vows to take Corypheus down even if it kills him. Trying to discourage that line of thinking yields disapproval.
  • Determinator: Described as "The Resolve" of the team.
  • Dirty Coward: As Thom Rainier, he was bribed to kill a member of the Orlesian court and sent his men in to do the dirty work instead, which ended in them killing the man and his wife and children. Then he fled justice and let his men take the fall for him. He grows out of this during his companion quest, arriving to tell the truth in time o stop his second-in-command from being hanged in his stead.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: A transcript of one of his speeches during the events of Origins appears in The World of Thedas Vol. 1. Except he isn't the Blackwall that wrote that speech, he's just pretending.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: A part of being a Warden is enhanced strength and stamina. The surgeon even asks if she can study him. Ultimately, of course, it doesn't apply to him. However, he does become one if he takes his Joining and survives sometime two years later.
  • Establishing Character Moment: When the Inquisitor finds Blackwall, he's using his status to teach victims how to stand up for themselves, and when a bandit shoots an arrow at the Inquisitor's back, he blocks it without even knowing who he's protecting.
  • Exact Words: In the Warden plotline, if asked if Corypheus's fake Calling is affecting him and if he's a threat, Blackwall says bluntly that Corypheus has no hold on him. Later it turns out that Blackwall is actually a wanted criminal named Thom Rainier and not a Grey Warden, meaning Corypheus literally has no hold on him.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: If the Inquisitor is not human, when they first speak to Blackwall at Skyhold, he reluctantly admits that he was expecting them to be one. The Inquisitor will actually praise him for being honest. A Dwarf Inquisitor will, in fact, literally say, "At least it's not 'I was expecting you to be taller.'"
  • Faking the Dead: In his backstory, he used the real Blackwall's death to fake his own.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When the Inquisitor first sees him, he's teaching some locals how to fight, calls them "conscripts" and then sends them home after the fight's won. Wardens conscript trained fighters to permanently join.
    • When the Inquisitor first recruits him, he makes a very solemn and saddened face while stating that Grey Wardens can inspire someone to be better than they think they are.
    • And his quote? The promise is all wrong. Grey Wardens are sworn to end the Blight, in whatever way possible, moral qualms be damned.
    • On another level, if the Inquisitor asks him directly about the more secretive stuff about the Grey Wardens, he's extremely vague and tends to sum it up as "It's a Grey Warden thing." He doesn't actually know, for example, how someone kills an Archdemon for good, thinking it's just a matter of stabbing it enough times until it's dead (if questioned further he says the secret is in how they get it to the point where you can do that). It's not. This is something an experienced Warden would definitely know. Of course, the real Wardens are very secretive about their methods; he might just be imitating behavior he's seen before.
    • During the Warden plotline, he never actually confirms he can hear Corypheus' false Calling, claiming only that Corypheus "has no hold" over him.
    • In one party banter, he asks Sera, who was a child in Denerim at the time of the first game, if she saw many Grey Wardens during the final battle. A real Warden, especially one as high ranking as the real Blackwall was at that time, would probably know that there were only three or four Wardens in Denerim during that battle (the Hero of Ferelden, Riordan, and Alistair/Loghain - or possibly both if the player made a specific set of choices, though both wouldn't be in the party at the same time).
    • In the Fade, the Nightmare says, "Ah, there's nothing like a Grey Warden. And you are nothing like a Grey Warden." Also, the gravestone in the Fade which describes his worst fear simply says "Himself."
    • After the Siege of Adamant, when he starts describing what does and does not make one a Warden, he hesitates before saying that the Joining doesn't, likely because of his claim to be a Warden despite not performing it. Or possibly because his Joining was the traumatic experience that led to the death of Blackwall and the birth of "Blackwall". The next sentence he says is the quote at the top.
    • During his banter with Cole, at one point Cole will remark "So many masks...", and Blackwall assumes he means the masks worn at the ball. Cole replies "Not at the ball. Here." The "masks" Cole's referring to are the ways Blackwall is hiding his true identity.
    • A charred letter is found on one of the bandits encountered during Blackwall's introduction. The letter claims that the person to whom it's addressed has no chance of ever reclaiming his honor, and that he'd be better off joining the bandits to make use of what "that bastard taught you". After his personal quest, it's clear that the letter was addressed to one of Blackwall's men, which explains why Blackwall seems oddly regretful after putting the bandits down.
    • If Alistair is still a Grey Warden, he will mention to Blackwall (if he is brought along) that Duncan knew Blackwall. Blackwall's reaction makes it obvious he doesn't know who Duncan is, shrugging it off with a "Duncan? Of course."
    • Bull is quick to note that for all Blackwall talks about honour and sacrifice, he's not totally convinced of it. Bull is also the first to note how the Wardens and the Qun have similar attitudes to duty. "Little surprised I got there before you did."
    • When fighting Darkspawn on the Storm Coast, Blackwall says that the most heavily armored one must be the leader, as if he was figuring that out during the fight. If he were really a high-ranking Warden he would be familiar with Darkspawn hierarchy and have no trouble recognizing an Alpha on sight.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: He asks Sera for details about her sexual conquests. When questioned about it, he replies that he "can't stop thinking about it".
  • Good Is Not Nice: During the Blight, Loghain wouldn't allow for more Warden reinforcements because they would come from Orlais. When Blackwall learned of this, despite being a committed Grey Warden, he was entirely willing to allow Ferelden to fall to the Blight as punishment for Loghain's decision. This isn't that Blackwall.
  • Gray Eyes: Hits several archetypes associated with the attribute: a lone-wolf mentor figure, a resolute, iron-willed idealist, and a history as a calculating, amoral killer.
  • Have We Met?: A nobleman in the Winter Palace will insist that he's seen Blackwall somewhere before, but can't quite place him. He suggests maybe if the beard didn't hide his face...
  • Heel Realization: He's in the eternal aftermath of one.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": His party banter humor can occasionally veer into this territory.
    Cole: Your knife is big.
    Blackwall: [snickers] It's a sword.
    Cole: It's bigger than mine.
    Blackwall: And now you've made it awkward.
  • Hero of Another Story: He tells the Inquisitor that he was in Ferelden during the Fifth Blight, killing his "fair share" of darkspawn. Turns out that he wasn't - see above. The player almost certainly knows this, but the Inquisitor has no reason not to believe him.
  • Hero Worship: If asked for his opinion about the advisers, he displays a minor case of this for Cullen, commenting about how much he admires the commander. After The Reveal, he laments that he has "all the respect in the world" for Cullen, but he's sure the other man will never trust him again. However, in Trespasser, he's pleased to report that he believes Cullen has finally forgiven him.
  • Heroic Resolve: His marketing title was even "The Resolve;" he believes in protecting people no matter what, and that a Warden's first duty is really about that. He will keep this mindset even when officially becoming a Grey Warden.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: His greatest fear is himself - he's full of self-loathing, and never sees himself as a hero, no matter how much good he does.
  • Heroic Vow: Takes the perceived and inherent notion that a Warden exists to protect to extremes: he believes that this is what they must be for, above anything else.
  • Honor Before Reason: Blackwall could have just used the Right of Conscription to save Mornay from being executed. It is common knowledge that the Wardens are allowed to conscript criminals to the Wardens regardless of their crime. However, he instead chose to reveal who he was, which got himself arrested and forces the Inquisitor to commit unscrupulous acts to get him back (either replacing Blackwall with a similar looking criminal to be executed, having Cullen storm the prison with soldiers to take Blackwall forcefully, or use connections to force Orlais to hand him over, all of which Blackwall is unhappy about. Somewhat justified in that, at least from Blackwall's point of view, conscripting Mornay would be living the lie even further, and that it would not absolve Mornay of the crime he was accused of; by admitting himself to be Mornay's former commander and taking responsibility for the murder of the noble family, he shoulders Mornay's guilt instead of making it a case where the accused escaped justice by the timely arrival of a Warden, which also explains why he is unhappy with the Inquisitor for rescuing him from what he sees as a deserved punishment.
  • I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me: Gender-flipped. If you begin flirting with Blackwall, he will quickly become flustered and state that he's not used to female praise or attention. However, he admits that he very much enjoys your company. If the flirting continues, he'll later try to dissuade you by saying that you're at too high a status and much too respected to settle for a guy like him.
  • I Owe You My Life:
    • If the Inquisitor frees him during judgment, despite learning what he's done, this is his reaction.
    • It's also partly what inspired his decision to adopt the identity of the real Blackwall. When they were ambushed by darkspawn, the real Blackwall died saving Rainier from a fatal blow; Rainier didn't feel he was worthy of the sacrifice and felt he owed it to the late Warden to follow his example.
      "I didn't take Blackwall's life. I traded his death... I took his name to stop the world from losing a good man.
  • I Work Alone: He prefers solitary work due to his high moral standards. And because being alone in the wilderness reduces the chances of someone recognizing him.
  • Insecure Love Interest: He doesn't believe himself good enough for a Female!Inquisitor, and warns her he should not get too attached as he is just another soldier. This makes sense considering The Reveal that he is not really Blackwall. It's also why, if neither of them are romanced, he refuses to court Josephine, despite Cole's hints that she feels some attraction towards him as well.
  • Initiation Ceremony: His ceremony for induction into the Wardens was interrupted when his recruiter was killed by darkspawn. Blackwall doesn't understand why the real Blackwall insisted on stopping and sending him to kill darkspawn and bring back their blood, but anyone who's played the first game knows exactly why that happened.
  • Jumped at the Call:
    • The Inquisitor just wants to know if he can explain why the other Wardens have vanished; it's Blackwall who decides to join them.
    • He's also one of the increasingly few Grey Wardens that wasn't conscripted by force. As it turns out, the real Blackwall found him while he was on the run, but was ambushed and killed by darkspawn before the Joining ceremony.
  • Just Following Orders: Inverted. Blackwall considers himself more responsible than those who personally killed the Calliers, as they didn't have all the facts and were only doing what they'd been trained to do.
  • Knight Errant: Wanders Thedas alone protecting the innocent. It's both to atone for his past and to reduce the chances of being recognized.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Brave, noble, and protective. He throws himself into the ideal to atone for his past.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Towards the legendary Grey Wardens of old. And to the real Blackwall, whom he idolized.
  • Lady and Knight: His romance has a lot of this; his nickname for the romanced Inquisitor is even "my lady."
  • Last-Name Basis: No one ever uses Blackwall's first name; it's not even revealed in-game until Trespasser, and even then only if his personal quest was not completed. The most likely explanation is that Thom Rainier never knew the real Blackwall's full name.
  • Legacy Character: After a fashion. If forgiven and welcomed back, the Inquisitor can suggest accepting "Blackwall" as the title to which he must aspire.
  • Liar Revealed: How straight this gets played during his personal quest varies. Specifically, it varies with the companion after he gets found out for a fraud. Cassandra, who held him in high regard, is disgusted, and their relationship never quite recovers; judging by Blackwall's own comments if asked about the Inquisition advisers, this is Cullen's reaction to him as well, although it improves by Trespasser. Solas is equally grumpy, though his opinion softens later. Sera, Varric, the Iron Bull, and Dorian are more forgiving, with Bull in particular trying to raise his spirits by finding parallels with his own situation, while Dorian, who previously did not get along with Blackwall, ends up respecting his genuine desire to atone. And Cole, who always knew, tries to make him see how much he has changed.
    Blackwall: Cole, if you knew what I am, what I'd done, why didn't you tell the others?
    Cole: Everyone hides dead things. Everyone pretends. You wanted to fix it.
    Blackwall: I'm a murderer.
    Cole: You don't want to be. You made a new you. You are Blackwall. You killed Rainier.
    Blackwall: If only that were possible.
    Cole: You would stand between Rainier and the carriage. But you can't. It doesn't work like that. So you carry the bodies to remember.
    Blackwall: I suppose I do.
  • Little "No": If the Inquisitor banishes the Grey Wardens from Orlais. It breaks his heart to see that happen to the group he idolizes so much.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Like all Grey Warden recruits, he was not told what the Joining involves or why he was supposed to kill a darkspawn and collect its blood. So when his recruiter was killed in an ambush, he didn't know that he did, in fact, have proof that his recruitment was legitimate, and he feared that the Wardens would think he murdered Blackwall.
  • The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Since he's not really Blackwall, but a criminal, he feels unworthy of the Inquisitor, and before The Reveal will often warn her to break things off with him under the pretense that his life as a Warden will be a hindrance to their relationship. After his identity is found out, the Inquisitor may choose to forgive him or punish him, and also to either break up with him or give him another chance. If he is not romanced, this is also the reason why he does not make his feelings for Josephine known.
  • Meaningful Rename: In Trespasser, he discards the Blackwall identity entirely and is known solely as Thom Rainier, including on the character select screen. In this case, the meaningful rename is that he is able to go back to his original identity.
  • Mighty Glacier: The best tank out of the three warrior companions, thanks to his Champion specialization. However, making Blackwall more useful as a tank requires sacrificing the mobility of the other two.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: In-universe. If you've gotten this far and are a bit confused by what happened to the original Blackwall and what Thom Rainier did while impersonating him, we're sorry.
  • Mushroom Samba: If Blackwall is taken to the Hissing Wastes, he shares a story about a disastrous assignment to the Silent Plains. At one point, he and his men lost all of their food to a flash flood, so they ate some berries a newbie had found. Blackwall spent two nights hallucinating a ring of nugs singing sea shanties at him.
  • My Greatest Failure: When he was a child, he stood by and watched as a group of boys abuse and eventually hang a stray mongrel. He still regrets it to the present day. He uses that incident as a metaphor for his true greatest failure: accepting a bribe to use his own men to murder Lord Callier, then not calling off the attack when he realized the man's wife and children were present. And then running away from it and leaving his men to take the fallout.
  • Noodle Incident: After the Mushroom Samba incident, Blackwall and his men awoke to find themselves surrounded by a bunch of ghasts that had stolen their weapons and armor and were dragging them off to their ghast-hole.
    Inquisitor: How did you escape?
    Blackwall: You'd be surprised what a man armed with a rock and a headache can do.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • Iron Bull asks him what's the maximum number of pieces he's chopped an enemy in with one swing.note  Blackwall is not amused... at first.
      Blackwall: For the Wardens, battle is a sacred duty, a vigil kept to guard the world against destruction. It's not a game.
      Iron Bull: Right. Same here.
      Blackwall: Do heads count?
    • He takes great joy at the prospect of telling Cullen that Bull and the Inquisitor or Dorian have had sex on the war table.
    • He is very curious to know if Solas has done anything sexual with spirits.
    • In general, Blackwall's sense of humor is barely more mature than Sera's.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: Following his romance path will have the Inquisitor waking up alone after their first night together.
  • Number Two: Was once the second-in-command to the Orlesian Warden-Commander. At least, his namesake was.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • The quiet and dutiful Blackwall gets along very well with the loudmouthed, fun-loving Sera. Much of it stems from their mutual dislike of the aristocracy, and rather juvenile sense of humor. In the Trespasser DLC, Sera's journal can be found stating that he hugs harder as Rainier than he did as Blackwall.
    • Blackwall and Iron Bull are pretty similar in some ways. They find more common ground if Bull becomes a Tal-Vashoth and Blackwall is exposed as Thom Rainier.
    • It doesn't really solidify til Trespasser, but he and Dorian eventually become this. At first they can't really stand each other, but after it comes out who Rainier is, Dorian respects that he is trying to make up for past sins and apologizes for his side of the relationship. By Trespasser they are bantering like old friends.
  • Old Soldier: He was a Warden-Constable, e.g. second-in-command of the Grey Wardens in Orlais, at the time of the Fifth Blight. That was more than ten years before Inquisition. We don't know how old he is, but he can't be young. Well, the real Blackwall wasn't young. From what is revealed about Rainier, he seems to be in his mid-forties - not "old" but it is a dangerous line of work.
  • Optional Party Member: You can choose not to recruit him, or not do his recruitment quest at all.
  • The Paragon: He sometimes "conscripts" victims of bullies, bandits and thieves to fight back against their antagonists, so that the next time, they won't need him to teach them how. This is exactly what he's doing when the Inquisitor first finds him.
  • Permanently Missable Content: If you don't recruit him before the siege at Adamant Fortress, you can never get him.
  • Personal Horror: The Nightmare demon identifies Blackwall's greatest fear as "himself." Played painfully straight.
  • The Pig Pen: Dorian, Vivienne, and Cole all comment on Blackwall's hygiene, or lack thereof.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Notably, he drops the very first F-bomb in the games themselves.
      Inquisitor: The Inquisition needs all the help it can get, but what can one Grey Warden do?
      Blackwall: Save the fucking world if pressed.
    • Also doubles as a neat little minor Call-Back/Shout-Out to Origins, since that's effectively what the Hero of Ferelden did.
    • He drops another one in the lead-up to his personal quest.
      Blackwall: There's always some dog out there. Some fucking mongrel who doesn't know how to stay away.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Openly states that he had no interest whatsoever in the political schemes and double-dealing that resulted in the massacre of Lord Callier and his family; he did it because there was good amounts of gold on offer for it and he needed the money.
  • Real Men Hate Sugar: He complains that the Orlesian marketplace sells too many "frilly little cakes" these days.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Especially if you choose to condemn him for his past misdeeds.
  • Romance Sidequest: An option for any female Inquisitor.
  • Schmuck Bait: His Focus Ability, Counterstrike, draws all enemies to attack him, to which he will respond by counterattacking.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • Once his approval drops below a certain point, he will leave no matter what you say.
    • In his backstory, when Gaspard denied any involvement in the murder of Callier and his family, and the noble who had hired him committed suicide as a result, he ran and left his men to take the fall.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Occasionally. In Trespasser, when Sera's freaking out about demons, Blackwall's reassurance goes: "Easy, Sera, we're old hands at this. Just stare them square and remember these sage words: Fuck 'em."
  • Stalker with a Crush: Vivienne accuses him of "shadowing" Josephine around Skyhold, though Cole will reveal in party banters that his feelings aren't entirely one-sided.
  • Stone Wall: As a Champion, he is potentially the most difficult companion to damage, let alone kill, and can periodically make himself invincible for a few seconds with his Walking Fortress ability.
  • Straight Man: He tends to be this during party banter, depending on who else is in the conversation.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: He and Sera both wonder if Solas has ever been intimate with a Fade spirit. Even if Sera is never recruited, he comes to wonder on his own and decides to risk a fireball to the face to ask.
  • Survivor Guilt: His main motivation is feeling guilty for the death of the Warden that recruited him. That man was the real Blackwall. This guilt is combined with guilt over the men who died taking the fall for him, as well as the criminal for whom you swap him (if you choose to do so).
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Discussed in party banter, where Varric quickly pegs Blackwall as essentially an older version of Sebastian as the resident goody-two-shoes. Varric starts rethinking his assessment when Blackwall picks up subtext in Varric's statements that Sebastian would have been totally oblivious to. Subverted when it is made clear that Blackwall's backstory and motivations are very different.
  • Taking Up the Mantle: He's not actually the man named Blackwall. He's a former soldier named Thom Rainier, who got caught up in the power struggle between Celene and Gaspard. After he and his troops murdered the family of one of Celene's allies, Gaspard disavowed them and he went on the run. He met the real Blackwall and intended to join the Grey Wardens, but Blackwall died saving Rainer's life in a darkspawn ambush before it could happen. An inspired Rainier took his name and cause to atone for his past mistakes.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • He and Dorian can't stand each other. On Blackwall's part, he hates Dorian for being a pampered and spoiled blue blood, and he shows signs of Fantastic Racism against him for being both from Tevinter and a mage. To their credit, they try to find some middle ground during late-game banter.
    • He tries to be friends with Vivienne at first, but she keeps rejecting him to the point where they barely tolerate each other and snipe insults constantly. They do, however, have a very polite moment in party banter following her personal quest, suggesting that they respect each other despite the animosity.
  • That Man Is Dead: Played with. Cole feels that he "killed" his former self when he became Blackwall - but if he shows up in Trespasser it's under his original name once again, even on the party selection screen.
  • That's What She Said: His romance chain is a series of these, starting with him asking if the female Inquisitor "needs anything heavy lifted" and then commenting that "you have the world at your feet, myself included." She practically purrs with delight in her response to both.
  • Tragic Hero: With a definite mixture of Anti-Villain.
  • Unkempt Beauty: With his wooly black hair and deep voice. Taken Up to Eleven if romanced, of course.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: He develops this relationship with Dorian once both of them come to understand and respect the other's past and motivations.
  • Walking Spoiler: He's a walking spoiler due to the revelations about his past in his personal quest, which can change a lot of players' perception of him and his dialogue until that point.
  • Walking the Earth: When the Inquisition finds him, he's traveling alone to recruit for the Order. He can resume this in the epilogue for Trespasser, seeking out the condemned or vulnerable to give them hope.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Not to the extent of the protagonist, but his banter includes several weird stories and narrow escapes. He attributes his continued survival to the Maker having a soft spot for fools.
  • Worth Living For: He comes to see the Inquisitor as this if romanced.
    Blackwall: There's always something to die for. But something worth living for? That doesn't come every day.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: What he spends time doing on his own. Because it's something he desperately needs to believe for himself. Some characters, like Cole, believe he qualifies.
    Blackwall: Grey Wardens can inspire. Make you better than you think you are.

    Cassandra Pentaghast 

    The Iron Bull / Hissrad
"What's the most pieces you've ever cut someone into in a single swing? I'm up to three. But I have some ideas."

The Iron Bull is a captain of a mercenary company, and a Ben-Hassrath Qunari who doubts his allegiance to the Qun. Officially, he joins the Inquisition to report back to the Qunari, but unofficially, he's there to protect the innocent and kill demons for pay. He is a romance option for an Inquisitor of either gender and any race.

Written by Patrick Weekes.

  • Acquired Poison Immunity: At one point he gets stabbed by poisoned knives if he decides to leave the Qun, but since he's been drinking the antidote to that particular poison, all he feels is a sting. It's especially impressive, since said poison is saar-qamek, a nerve agent that induces insanity and death. (Players of Dragon Age II might remember it being unleashed in Kirkwall, during the "Blackpowder Courtesy" quest.)
  • All There in the Manual: World of Thedas Vol. II details the incident that led Iron Bull, then known as Hissrad, to turn himself into the re-educators. Hissrad's sanity had already been hanging by a thread for several years when one of his oldest friends turned Tal-Vashoth and poisoned a bunch of schoolchildren. The bloodbath that resulted once Hissrad hunted him down was too much even for him.
  • Anything That Moves: He's pansexual and he will sleep with anyone interested whom he's reasonably sure he won't break.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When listing the Warden-y things that Blackwall repeatedly talks about, he lists "Grey Wardens and honor and sacrifice and griffons".
  • Awesome Mc Coolname:
    • It's common for Qunari to have nicknames. In his case, the name is an obvious reference to the shape of his horns. At one point, Cole notes that they're not really bull horns, they're dragon horns (the Qunari have stories that they're related to dragons), so he could have called himself "the Iron Dragon."
      Bull: Oh! ...Shit. That would have been better.
    • Discussed with Varric, who wonders why Bull didn't choose a less brittle metal, like steel. Turns out that "The Steel Bull" was taken by a pit fighter in Antiva City, "The Veridium Bull" is a pair of identical twin exotic dancers in Llomerryn, and "The Silverite Bull" is a tavern in Rialto. After that the alternatives were textiles, which would send the wrong message.
  • Badass Back: Most promotional shots of him were from behind.
  • Badass Baritone: Has a pleasantly deep voice.
  • Badass Bisexual: He's attracted to men and women, that is when he's not killing things. Lots of things.
  • Badass Boast: He once cut someone into three pieces with a single swing, but has some ideas on how to best that number.
  • Bald of Awesome: Not a hair on this mighty Qunari warrior's head.
  • Bash Brothers:
    • He and the Chargers, sure enough. Especially Krem.
    • In the party, he and Blackwall are the Warriors who best fit. Their banter involves their combat history and what their ideal weapons would be made from.
  • Battle Couple: With the Inquisitor if romanced. Can also form one with Dorian if neither are romanced but are bought together often enough.
  • Becoming the Mask: While he still sends reports to the Ben-Hassrath, he doesn't know if he is still a Qunari agent masquerading as a mercenary or if he is a mercenary deluding himself into believing that he's still Qunari. His personal quest forces him to choose.
  • Big Brother Mentor: He plays this role to Cole during party banter.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: There are multiple references to people, possibly including the Inquisitor or Dorian, walking funny after spending the night with Bull. Josephine is also impressed when she accidentally sees him naked during his romance arc.
  • The Big Guy: He quite easily outsizes the rest of the Inquisitor's teammates and is even larger than a Qunari Inquisitor. He's also referred to in promos as "The Muscle".
  • Blatant Lies: You can ask him if he ever thinks about what it would be like if the Inquisition was conquered by the Qun. He muses that while Cassandra and Cullen could be assimilated rather quickly if they didn't die fighting, Solas would never be able to get away with Fade-walking as a mage, Vivienne's political posturing would come to a quick halt, and Varric and Sera would mouth off until the re-educators completely broke their minds. Then he tells you, no... he doesn't think about this much at all.
  • Blood Knight: Really gives off this vibe. Just check out his character quote. Interestingly, this is also his greatest fear, since his gravestone in the Fade says what frightens him most is madness. As long as he can see himself as "just a weapon" in the service of the Qun, he doesn't need to feel guilty about enjoying fights and killing. If he breaks off during his personal quest, he becomes terrified of turning into a murderous Tal-Vashoth like the rebels he put down as a Ben-Hassrath.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: In stark contrast to the more dour, deadpan Qunari we've met before, he leads men into battle and taverns with equal enthusiasm.
  • Boring, but Practical: His approach to spywork is to simply be a regular mercenary while occasionally writing to his superiors about anything interesting he hears, noting that the Cloak & Dagger stuff just makes you an obvious target.
  • Brains and Bondage: It's all but stated that he practices S&M with his sexual partners, and he's also a Genius Bruiser.
  • Break the Haughty: His life as a Ben-Hassrath had an effect on his psyche.
  • Cast from Hit Points: His Dragon Rage ability, common for Reaver specializations.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Of the Entendre Failure flavor. Bull goes on a profanity-laden rant about Orlesian politics if he was brought along to the Winter Palace. An Inquisitor who's romancing him can suggest they put his silver tongue to better use, which Bull (probably intentionally) interprets as an invitation to grab some food.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: He's torn between his allegiance to the Qun and his new life as a mercenary captain. During his personal quest, he'll eventually have to choose one over the other.
  • Consummate Liar: It's literally his name: Hissrad is the Qunlat word for "liar". If Bull is encouraged to leave the Qun, he leaves this part of himself behind and becomes more honest with both himself and others. If he stays with the Qun, than he lives up to his name. It becomes particularly apparent in Trespasser with how easily he slips into acting like he is still friends, and possibly even lovers, with the Inquisitor even as he is already planning to kill them.
  • Covered with Scars: Looks like someone's used his back (and front, and face) as a whipping post.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Before he became a mercenary, he was assigned to hunt down rebels and other dissidents in Qunari territory. For unknown reasons, this eventually caused him to "break" and suffer from post-traumatic stress, forcing his superiors to kick him upstairs and reassign him as a spy in Orlais.
  • Dating Catwoman: If he is romanced and remains loyal to the Qun, as the belief system expressly forbids romance and having sex for love. Notably:
    • If neither are romanced, he and Dorian can begin a relationship, despite the fact that their people are at war with each other.
    • A relationship with the Inquisitor while he's loyal to the Qun is this. Especially true with a "Qunari" (more accurately, Vashoth) Inquisitor, as Bull has spent most of his life hunting down Tal-Vashoth, which are deserters. note 
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Due to living under the Qun most of his life. One of the stranger ones is that he can easily accept transgender individuals (to the point that he considers them to be the gender they identify as and only that), but not violations of gender roles. As a result, he automatically mentally files female warriors like Cassandra as men while they're wearing armor. In general, though, he doesn't find other races' cultures as baffling as Sten did, having spent a great deal more time with them.
  • Dented Iron: Bull's life as a warrior has clearly taken its toll. He's missing an eye and parts of some of his fingers, he's covered in scars, and he wears a brace on one leg.
  • Does Not Like Magic: Bull tends to get extremely uncomfortable anytime magic and the Fade come up. He doesn't extend this to mages themselves though, which he even admits is not encouraged by the Qun, and expresses sympathy for Qunari mages. He also has no trouble being in a relationship with a Mage Inquisitor or Dorian.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": He dislikes his Qunari title and much prefers that you call him The Iron Bull. Plus the Inquisitor can't pronounce it right.
  • Double Agent: A very... open, and fairly light, example. If you allow him to send reports to the Ben-Hassrath about the Inquisition's activities, he will cheerfully give you information that their other spies send to him in turn.
  • Ethical Slut: Iron Bull makes no secret of the fact he really enjoys sex (and has plenty of it with those bold enough to handle him), but is very respectful and understanding of people who turn him down. If Iron Bull is in a relationship with the Inquisitor, he's very caring, passionate, and loyal, refusing to talk about their sex life to Varric, since what happens in that room is for Bull and the Inquisitor only. He even takes the time to set up boundaries and rules for the Inquisitor before their first (of many) BDSM sessions, out of safety, concern, and love for his partner.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: If Bull is romanced and left the Qun, a magazine excerpt found in Trespasser mentions that quite a few nobles of both sexes are very disappointed that he is off the market.
  • Eyepatch of Power: He sports a fancy eyepatch where his left eye used to be.
  • Exposed to the Elements: If you recruit him before gaining Skyhold, he'll gladly stand around shirtless in the snow outside the stable at Haven, and he's recruited in the pouring rain. Somewhat odd, considering past Qunari have complained that Ferelden is much too cold, and even had a weakness to cold spells. It might be a combination of macho posturing and simple adaptation, however.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Depending on approval and the outcome of his "Demands of the Qun" quest, he may side with the Qunari against you in the Trespasser DLC, forcing you to kill him.
  • Face of a Thug: Bull is large and intimidating, but is also generally friendly and gets along well with all of the rest of the party.
  • Fake Defector: His cover story while spying is that he left the Qun. However, during his personal quest you can choose to have him leave the Qun for real.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Especially noticeable when he's wearing his eyepatch.
  • Fastball Special: Wants to try this with Sera; she's less than receptive to the idea.
  • A Father to His Men: Bull is very proud and protective of his mercenary company and the Inquisitor can persuade him to pick them over serving the Qun.
  • Fetish: He prefers the approach that non-Qunari cultures have toward sex, partly because among the Qunari it's a more formal and ritualized business, but also because other races have redheads.
    Iron Bull: Mmmm... redheads.
  • Foil:
    • To Leliana, oddly enough. They're both rather stale beer spies; but Leliana is stoic while Iron Bull has bravado, Leliana is a precise archer while Iron Bull wields sweeping two-handed weapons, and Leliana is exhausted by her job while Bull has found ways to enjoy his. To put it simply, Leliana is a John le Carré spy, while Iron Bull is a shirtless version of Ian Fleming's "blunt instrument".
  • Gag Penis: If Cullen, Josephine, and Cassandra's reactions are an implication, The Iron Bull is indeed a man of large weaponry...
  • Gay Option: Pansexual and can be romanced by any Inquisitor, regardless of race or gender.
  • Genius Bruiser: He's huge and a talented warrior, but he's still smart enough to play chess with Solas (himself probably the most intelligent character in the party) in his head. Being a spy, he's also very good at concealing his own emotions while reading other people's faces and body language. He guesses Cullen's an ex-Templar without actually saying a word to him and lists an astounding number of tiny details that clued him in that a "baker" was actually a spy from the Venatori. He also proves to be highly knowledgeable about architecture and archaeology if taken to the Hissing Wastes, even lampshading how odd this seems to the other characters.
  • Glass Cannon: The Reaver class is all about taking damage and dealing it back. As a result, Iron Bull can deal the most raw damage of the three warriors, but also has the lowest defense, not that this hinders him. If the Inquisitor takes the Champion spec, he notes that he's just too big a target to be a defensive fighter. This doesn't prevent the player from equipping him with a one-handed weapon and a shield, though.
  • Going Native: His years spent away from the Qun has led to him adjusting to the life of the locals.
  • The Hedonist: Has learned to enjoy the pleasures of life after several near-death experiences.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: By his own admission, he has a weakness for redheads and states that he did research on Leliana because she's a redhead. Sadly, the game's programming doesn't specify which of the hair colors counts as "red," so he won't acknowledge a ginger Inquisitor as particularly attractive.
  • Hidden Depths: Not only is he a Ben-Hassrath spy, which requires a certain amount of skill and intelligence, but he's picked up some surprising interests over time. He can play mental chess, and if you have him around for the tomb hunting quests in the Hissing Wastes he'll have a fair bit to say about dwarven architecture and history.
  • Horned Humanoid: Has the most impressive set of horns we've seen on a Qunari to date. They're huge and shaped like bull's horns, hence his name. (As pointed out by Cole, they might actually be dragon horns, not bull horns, so he should be The Iron Dragon.)
  • Hot-Blooded: When comparing the companions to food, his writer said he would be a chili dog, because it's a delicious bad decision.
  • Hunk: Despite his Qunari roots, he's a masculine, ruggedly handsome beast subject to the affection and desires of many people (male and female alike) of Skyhold.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Or Huge Guy, Tiny Guy if the player is so inclined. Bull can be romanced by an Inquisitor of any race or sex and towers over everything but his fellow Qunari (and even then, he's bigger).
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Iron Bull and Cole may become friends, and Cole will mention that Iron Bull took an attack for him despite hating demons. Iron Bull will say, "You might be a weird, squirrelly kid but you're my weird squirrelly kid."
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: If Bull is Tal-Vashoth and joins the Inquisitor in the final push against the Qunari, after refusing to join the Viddasala, he comments that he needs a lot to drink after fighting a bunch of his former comrades. This, however, doesn't stop him from continuing, and he even tries to convince his former comrades to stop fighting the Inquisition.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: He claims to have once skewered a Vint on each horn during a fight. Unfortunately, they were stuck there for the rest of it.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: He gets really turned on watching Cassandra's battle prowess and hints that he is attracted to Blackwall for similar reasons. This also seems to be a large part of why he likes dragons so much, if his shouting "Taarsidath-an halsaam"note  during a fight with one is any indication. It is also notable that the player can not complete his Romance Sidequest without killing at least one High Dragon, although bringing him along is not required.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: If you add the missing eye, the horns, and several hundred pounds of muscle, he looks a lot like Freddie, especially in the lower face/mouth area.
  • In Vino Veritas: Bull normally only starts calling the Inquisitor "Kadan" after the Inquisitor has made it clear that they are serious about the relationship, but if the drinking scene after killing the first high dragon is triggered after sleeping with him the first time, he lets it slip before complimenting the Inquisitor on their "fantastic ass/tits".
  • Insult Backfire:
    • When Varric asks him whether or not he knows Tallis since they're both Ben-Hassrath, Bull retorts if he happens to know some random grumpy dwarf he met on the road. Varric responds that as a member of the Merchants' Guild, chances are he not only knows said dwarf but that they owe him money, at which point Bull is simply forced to say that he doesn't actually know Tallis.
    • During the encounter with Command in Old Crestwood, Iron Bull can suspiciously ask the spirit if she intends on taking their minds if they do what she wants. She tells him she has no interest in his mind. After a Beat, Bull says that works for him.
  • Ironic Nickname: Varric dubs him "Tiny".
  • Is That the Best You Can Do?: He yells this near the end of Trespasser if he's in the party and did not join the Qunari forces himself.
    Iron Bull: Is that all you've got!? I lived through Seheron, you pieces of shit!
  • "Join the Army", They Said: Has this attitude if he's taken along into the Fade, blaming Krem for talking him into it.
    Bull: [imitating Krem's voice] "Hey, Chief. Let's join the Inquisition! Good fights for a good cause!" [normal voice] I don't know, Krem. I hear there are demons. [Krem voice] "Ah, don't worry about the demons, Chief. I'm sure we won't see many!" [normal voice, grumbling] Can't believe I listened... asshole!
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Though he knows that dragons are dangerous, he also thinks they're really badass. According to him, dragons are admired for their power by all Qunari, there are Qunari legends that they are related to dragons (it's the horns), and their name for them in Qunlat even translates to "the glorious ones". After Cole brings it up, Bull really regrets not naming himself "The Iron Dragon" instead.
  • Large and in Charge: He's an absolutely enormous Qunari who leads a mercenary company.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: As implied by the "bad decisions" comment from his writer.
  • Life Drain: As a Reaver, Bull has access to the Devour ability. It goes a long way toward improving his durability.
  • Made of Iron: Gets stabbed by assassins with poisoned blades if you convince him to leave the Qun, but brushes it off since he had already taken the antitoxin. If they really wanted him dead, they would have known to do better; it isn't an attack, it's a formality. He also recalls an incident where he was stabbed so deeply that he felt the sword hit the back of his ribs, and a piece chipped off.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Whether Bull ends up with the Inquisitor or Dorian, the party can learn, courtesy of Cole, that they haven't only been having sex in bed... but also against the wall, and on the War Table.
    Blackwall: [if he's in the party] I look forward to informing Cullen.
  • Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex: He's very conscientious about avoiding this. He'll only have sex with people he's sure he won't break in half, and even then he still establishes a safeword just in case.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: He'll fall for Camp Gay Dorian if neither of them are romanced by the Inquisitor; or (depending on how the player customizes him) the Inquisitor can also be this with him.
  • Meaningful Name: His role in the Qun, Hissrad, most closely translates to "the liar". Bull is not happy about it.
  • Morton's Fork: If pressed, Bull can admit that this is how he sees the consequences of going Tal-Vashoth. Either he'll go mad and kill innocents and people he cares about, or he won't go mad and will have to face the possibility that many of the Tal-Vashoth he killed in the past for no greater crime than being Tal-Vashoth didn't do any of that either.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: If he defects from the Qun, he is terrified about going mad like the Tal-Vashoth he fought in the past, but he's just as terrified of not going mad because that would mean that many of the Tal-Vashoth he has killed were actually fully sane.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much:
    • For a Qunari, a race which is known for being rather stoic, Iron Bull is quite boisterous.
    • Also in Party Banter with Varric about the Arishok(s), Varric comments about how everything was on fire. Bull comments that the Antaam does that a lot, suggesting their behavior irks him.
  • The Nicknamer: Not to Varric's extent, but he does like to give people nicknames. As it's explained to the Inquisitor when they are properly introduced to the Chargers, Bull was the one who shortened "Cremisius" to "Krem." He calls the Inquisitor "boss," instead of "Inquisitor" like the other companions do, and he also calls Leliana "Red", Blackwall "Big Guy" or "Furrows", and Cole "Kid". He tries to call Vivienne "Viv", but she promptly shuts that down and from that point on he addresses her more respectfully as "Ma'am". In Trespasser, if he ends up turning against the Inquisitor, "boss" becomes bas (literally, "thing", and what Qunari call people outside the Qun not worthy of their respect).
  • Noodle Incident: Bull once used every shield in the armory for some bizarre training exercise.
  • Not So Different:
    • He claims to Cassandra that the Ben-Hassrath as an organization is this with Seekers.
    • Claims this personally with Dorian as well, which makes sense given their complex relationships with their home countries.
    • After his companion quest, he can either agree or disagree that he's this with Blackwall, depending on the outcome and whether Blackwall's past has been revealed.
    • He also claims the Qunari as a whole are actually quite similar to the rest of Thedas. A baker wakes up and worries about if she has enough flour or whether the dough will rise properly, whether she lives in Val Royeaux or Par Vollen.
  • Nothing Personal: He says this if he decides to betray you to the Qunari in the Trespasser DLC. It might be a lie given that, as he says it, he calls the Inquisitor "bas" instead of "boss," meaning a person outside the Qun not worthy of respect.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity
    • If the player flirts with him, he appears totally oblivious to it, save for one moment after the Fade. During the first romance scene with him, he admits that he actually did catch the Inquisitor's hints, but he's played dumb since he isn't sure if the Inquisitor knows what they're getting into by romancing him - and considering how big he is and how rough he likes to get, his concerns aren't unwarranted. He still does this from time to time after they get together just to mess with the Inquisitor.
    • This also works into how he does spy work: his status as a high-profile mercenary often puts him in contact with nobles and others of high class while also being Beneath Suspicion due to being seen as just hired muscle, letting him pick up any worthwhile tidbits of information to send back home.
  • Odd Couple: If neither are romanced, he can end up with Dorian. Doesn't get much odder than a Qunari with a Tevinter magister.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • With Vivienne, who, despite being both a mage and very uptight, keeps him on a rather short leash. He eventually begins to suspect that between her normal demeanor and that horned hat, she's activating the part of his brain that instinctively defers to Tamassrans.
    • Despite hating demons, the Bull sees Cole as an odd kid who would probably be normal if he could just get some booze and sex.
    • Cassandra and Iron Bull often talk about how similar their roles are in their field, and they playfully flirt every now and then; both acknowledge that they're Just Friends and respect one another deeply. Iron Bull makes it clear that he respects Cassandra a great deal as a warrior and compliments her choice of armor instead of using something impractical. He's also very respectful of her unwillingness to discuss her past exploits, which she sincerely appreciates.
    • Blackwall and Iron Bull are quite similar in some ways, and they understand one another pretty well if Bull becomes a Tal-Vashoth and Blackwall is exposed as Thom Rainier.
  • Oh, Crap!
    • Very little besides demons and magic can faze Bull, but he has a pretty spectacular moment when he realizes Solas' suicidal strategy has set him up for checkmate.
    • If taken to the Still Ruins, he lets out a loud "Craaaaaaaap!" when he sees that the Fade Rift is no longer frozen.
  • One Steve Limit: As discussed above with Varric, The Iron Bull named himself that because Steel Bull, Veridium Bull and Silverite Bull were already taken (by a pit fighter, two exotic dancers and a tavern, respectively).
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: A Qunari's true name is more similar to a pedigree or a Social Security number than a name as we think of one. Iron Bull's rank in the Qun is also unknown to his companions in the Inquisition and his fellow mercenaries, though the player learns it during his personal quest. Thus his current moniker, which is typically shortened to just "Bull". So he's known by nicknames on top of nicknames.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Bull speaks with a pretty distinctive tone, but occasionally it vanishes and he just sounds like James Vega.
  • Open Secret: He's supposed to be undercover in the Inquisition, but to avoid trouble with the agents, he comes clean from the start. If questioned on this, he points out that if a group called "The Inquisition" didn't find out anyway, it would just be sad.
  • Optional Party Member: You can choose not to recruit him.
  • Overt Operative: Can't get much more overt in a person than a hulk of muscle topped with bull horns that tells you he's a spy within a minute of meeting you. When Varric points this out, Bull notes that practicing espionage and manipulation lets everyone know you're a spy while fighting, drinking and sending the occasional note back home gets the job done with little fuss.
  • Pair the Spares: If you do not romance him or Dorian, and bring them both along with often enough, they get together.
  • Permanently Missable Content: If Krem is not spoken to in Haven before it gets destroyed, it becomes impossible to recruit Bull.
  • Perma-Stubble: In contrast to other Qunari characters, who've all been clean-shaven. Except for Salit, a Tal-Vashoth.
  • The Power of Blood: He has the Reaver specialization. If a Reaver Inquisitor asks about it, he claims he hasn't actually trained as one and "stumbled" on something similar.
  • Power Tattoo: Like a Qunari Inquisitor, Bull uses toxic face-paint in lieu of helmets (although you can find an actual helm for him during his personal quest). Most of his higher level armor also has him wear Vitaar on his chest and arms instead of metal plating, but that is purely a cosmetic difference.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Delivers one if you help him work out his frustration after fighting the Nightmare.
      Bull: And who killed you!? That's right! Iron fucking Bull!
    • If he is encouraged to leave the Qun.
      Bull: Tal-Va-fucking-shoth.
    • Also, during his romance quest, after Cassandra walks in (though this may be because it was after Cullen and Josephine as well)
      Bull: [upon Cassandra walking in] Oh, for fuck's sake.
  • Private Military Contractor: On paper, he's an ex-Qunari who runs a mercenary company for rich clients. In reality, he works as a mercenary to spy on said clients for the Ben-Hassrath.
  • Pungeon Master: Bull occasionally shows a fondness for bad puns. Krem is a frequent victim.
    Bull: [upon seeing icicles hanging from a statue's breasts] Hey, look up: lady with giant titsicles.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: At one point during his and Blackwall's Party Banter, they talk about what kind of stone is best for forging swords, and Iron Bull says he'd pick Dawnstone. Blackwall points out that not only is Dawnstone brittle, it's pink. How does Bull respond? "It's pretty." Dawnstone equipment actually is pretty good since Dawnstone is a third tier crafting material.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: He was once the best Ben-Hassrath of all, but then one day, he "broke". His commanders reacted by sending him off to Orlais to spy on the humans.
  • Reassignment Backfire: The Ben-Hassrath sent him to spy in Orlais because his mind was "broken" and the job was fairly unimportant and simple. However, it's entirely possible that his time away from other Qunari has rendered him more likely to leave, rather than showing him what a mess life outside the Qun is. And given just a little prodding, he'll gladly leave the Qun in favor of his mercenaries.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: After Trespasser, if Bull is Tal-Vashoth and in a relationship with Dorian, assassins are sent after Dorian to prevent his new faction of progressives in the Magisterium from gaining traction. Bull and the Chargers put a stop to it. The slide includes a rather sweet drawing of Bull carrying an injured Dorian, bridal-style, away from danger.
  • Romance Sidequest: An option for all Inquisitors, provided you get along.
  • Safe, Sane, and Consensual: If romanced, it's all but stated that sex between him and the Inquisitor has at least some elements of BDSM. However, Bull treats the whole thing pretty respectfully; he establishes a safe word early on, makes it clear that he'd never hurt the Inquisitor without their permission, and isn't upset if the Inquisitor decides not to pursue this kind of relationship with him. If he hooks up with Dorian, this is made a bit more explicit, and Cole can go into detail in party banter.
  • Safe Word: He establishes one when the Inquisitor gets in a relationship with him. He uses the word "Katoh". Later, he speculates on what he thinks the other characters might use as their own safe word. Can become a Tear Jerker if he stays with the Qunari, as the Inquisitor will repeat it over and over when he betrays them.
  • Shameless Fanservice Guy: He isn't bothered in the slightest when Cullen and Josephine walk in on him naked during his romance path (though he does get annoyed when Cassandra also walks in), and he claims to be a firm believer in "No Pants Fridays".
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: He suffers from PTSD, which is part of the reason he was Kicked Upstairs to Orlais as a spy.
  • Smart People Play Chess: He can go toe-to-toe with Solas, although there's some cultural confusion over the names of pieces. It should be noted that this game is in their minds.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": He insists that it's "The Iron Bull". It sounds more authoritative that way. Cole is the only character that addresses him fully as The Iron Bull.
    Iron Bull: I like having an article at the front. It makes it sound like I'm not even a person, just a mindless weapon, an implement of destruction... That really works for me.
  • Squee!: He comes very close to this if brought along to kill dragons. He gets especially giddy in the Western Approach, when the Inquisitor lays out bait to lure the Abyssal High Dragon.
    Iron Bull: Boss? I just want to say... you're the best.
  • Sweet Tooth: Downplayed, but he goes out of his way to arrange a cocoa supply, wishes for some guimauves to put in it, and laments that he doesn't know how people can live without it. Varric assumes it's a Noodle Implement for some unspeakable purpose.
  • Taking the Bullet: Or the flail, in this case. It's how he lost the eye. And it was for some random guy he didn't even know.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Though his height has yet to be revealed, he's significantly taller than most of the cast and has some levels of snark of his own.
    Iron Bull: "Nothing creepy about a bunch of old abandoned caves. Nothing creepy at all."
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Most of the party becomes hostile to him if he stays with the Qun and sacrifices the Chargers.
  • True Companions: He's very loyal to people on his team. And as much as he hates demons, the Bull has no real problem with Cole, who may(?) be one.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • The Bull's Chargers uniformly adore their leader, and are willing to die for him without a second thought.
    • Bull also has this towards the Inquisitor if he decides to leave the Qun:
      Bull: Boss, just so you know... whatever I miss, whatever I regret, this is were I want to be. If you ever need an ass kicked, the Iron Bull is with you.
  • Unreliable Expositor: He freely admits that much of what he tells you about life under the Qun is simplified for ease of explanation and in some cases includes his own speculations.
    Bull: It's not a secret. It's just too big for a quick chat. "Tell me about the Qun," is like saying "Tell me about economics." Most Qunari know just enough to get by. It's like blind dwarves trying to figure out a dragon by touch. Only the priests really have the whole picture, and they spend their whole lives figuring that crap out.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Bull's Focus Ability is Rampage, which increases his damage and attack speed while letting him drain the health from anything he hits. The health drain effect overrides the cost of his Dragon Rage ability, producing an extremely powerful combination when used together.
  • Use Your Head:
    • Blackwall asks him if he's ever tried using headbutts as part of his fighting style, but Bull replies that since he's so big, he has to lean down to make it work, and most people would see him coming.
    • Further deconstructed by the claim he makes of the one time he got it to *work* on a charge. He wound up with two Vints stuck on his horns, screaming, for the rest of the fight.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • With Solas and some extra vitriol. Most of the time he and Solas speak, Solas lashes out against the Qun. But if Bull winds up being declared Tal-Vashoth, Solas will support him when he worries about going mad. And a rather long chain of party conversations between them later is essentially Solas distracting Iron Bull from his worries by deliberately provoking him into playing a mental game of chess.
    • Iron Bull and Krem. They snark at one another all the time, but their loyalty and strong friendship is easily visible and Iron Bull has absolutely no problems with Krem being transgender.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: According to him, because of their horns and the warm climate of their homeland, male Qunari rarely ever wear shirts or breastplates. Naturally this is mocked by his second in command Krem, who asks if he needs tips for binding his "pillowy man-bosoms". This leads to plenty of Eating the Eye Candy from female characters, however, including a freaking nun from Haven's chantry (if he's recruited before the end of Act 1).
  • Wall Bang Her: Cole announces to the rest of the party that Bull likes doing this.
  • War Is Hell: He considers his time on Seheron to have been this, noting if asked that between the indigenous rebel groups like the Fog Warriors, marauding bands of Tal-Vashoth and forces from the Tevinter Imperium all fighting over Seheron as well as the Qunari, it was rare to go a single day without bloodshed.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Demons. He almost quotes this trope word for word in his trailer. From what Cole picks up from his memories, he's feared and hated demons since he was very young.
    Cole: Lying awake, sheets soaked in sweat, afraid to call the Tamassrans. Shadows make shapes in the dark. If it gets in my head, how do I cut it out? Itching, shaking, tears slide cold down my cheeks. "Tama, I'm scared..."
  • Worthy Opponent: Considers the Fog Warriors (the most dangerous of the indigenous rebel groups on Seheron) to be this.
    Bull: They didn't use poison, they didn't target civilians and they were damn good fighters; you have to respect that. Plus they hit the 'Vints as hard as they did us. Hearing some terrified magister scream "My slaves! Where are my slaves?!" in the fog always put a smile on my face.
  • You Are What You Hate: His worst fear is "Madness". Since he was a child, he displayed a gleeful affinity for hitting and lying. He is afraid that the Qun is the only thing that keeps him in check, and he hates Ax-Crazy Tal-Vashoth bandits because they reflect what he could become. And that's what he does become if he chooses the Chargers over the Qun. If asked, he'll admit that one of the reasons being Tal-Vashoth hurts him so much is because he isn't sure if he's become insane like those he hunted, or if those he hunted were actually sane.


Example of: