- “No one ever listens, not until it's far too late.”
Born in the Fereldan village of Honnleath, Cullen was the second eldest child of four. Mia was his elder sister, his brother Branson was younger, and his sister Rosalie was the youngest of them all. He was eight years old when he told his brother and sisters that he would become a Templar. Though his siblings took the proclamation playfully, Cullen's intentions did not waver. He started visiting the local chantry in Honnleath, asking the templars there to teach him anything they could. Honnleath had only a few templars, but they humored the boy and taught him basic sword techniques.
From a young age, Cullen had a strong desire to enter a profession that helped people, and he refused to be swayed from the path he had chosen. Despite his siblings' initial teasing, Mia became Cullen's greatest supporter, insisting that the others help Cullen train. When he was thirteen years old, a visiting knight-captain took notice of Cullen's hard work and offered him the chance of formal training. His parents agreed to the request, as the Templar Order was known to be a respectable and honorable profession, and they wanted to give their son the opportunity to have a life he would be happy with.
As most Templar recruits were taken in at a young age, Cullen, at the age of thirteen, was considerably older than the other recruits and less prepared than some. But any concerns of him falling behind his peers were quickly dispelled. Finding that the training was everything that he had imagined it would be, Cullen quickly caught up to the other recruits, matching them in their expertise. When the time came to take his final vows at the age of eighteen, Cullen was eager to pledge his life in service to the Maker and take the lyrium that would bind him to the Order. He finally achieved his childhood dream to become a Templar when he was assigned to the Circle Tower at Kinloch Hold, under Knight-Commander Greagoir.
When the Blight came over the land, Cullen's family was forced to flee to South Reach. His mother and father did not survive.
Dragon Age: Origins
During the Magi Origin, Cullen is the templar assigned to execute the Magi if they were to fail their Harrowing and become an abomination. It is later revealed that he had feelings for a female mage and hated the idea of having to be the one to kill her. If the Warden tries to pursue relations with Cullen, he ends up becoming extremely nervous and runs away with the excuse of attending other duties.
Cullen will be found once again as the last surviving templar in the upper levels of the Circle Tower during the Broken Circle quest. When the Warden meets him trapped inside a magical prison (conjured by Uldred), he tries to dismiss the Warden as another illusion which points out that is how Uldred saw fit to torture the templars he had captured. If the Warden is a female mage, Cullen will reveal his infatuation with her.
If the Warden does not side with him, then he will try one last ditch effort to get the mages killed by complaining to Knight-Commander Greagoir, however Greagoir values Irving's word more. When siding with Cullen, the Warden will have the chance to agree with Cullen's complaint to Greagoir, which in turn even leads Irving to agreeing as well. In this event, the mages are all put under the watch of Cullen until something can be decided to do with them.There are several rumors about Cullen's fate after the Fifth Blight, which may be revealed if the Warden was a mage or if they sided with him during the outbreak of abominations in the Circle Tower. If the Warden sided with Cullen, or was a mage who did not grant the Circle Tower autonomy, then the rumors say that Cullen will eventually become Knight-Commander of the Circle Tower after Greagoir retires, watching over the magi with a much more strict and cruel regime than even Greagoir had. If the Warden was a mage and did not side with Cullen, and gives the tower autonomy, the templar endures festering mental scars from his experience in the tower. This leads to an eventual mental breakdown during which he kills three mage apprentices before fleeing. These rumors are later revealed to be fictional.
The Darkspawn Chronicles
Dragon Age II
Cullen was sent by Knight-Commander Greagoir to the Circle in Kirkwall, where he was promoted to Knight-Captain and second-in-command to Knight-Commander Meredith. He eventually encountered and became a recurring associate of Hawke, the Champion of Kirkwall.
Cullen's view on mages and magic have developed since his service under Greagoir. As a templar, Cullen accepts his duty to monitor the Circle of Magi and bring apostates to the Circle. As the story progresses, Cullen will confess to Hawke that Meredith is leading the Kirkwall Templar Order down a path he does not support. Cullen maintains that the Templar Order's purpose is not only to protect the population from magic, but also to protect the mages that the templars are sworn to oversee. As a result he begins to have doubts about his loyalty to Meredith versus his loyalty to the Templar Order.
Hawke first meets Cullen while Cullen is on an investigation and is interrogating a templar recruit about other recruits who have been recently disappearing. Later, if a non-mage Hawke does not take Bethany to the Deep Roads, it is Cullen who takes Bethany to the Circle. After Hawke's encounter with Ser Alrik, Cullen will admit that Alrik's "Tranquil Solution" had been discussed among the templars, and there are no plans to go through with it. Saying that the Harrowing has served them well enough and that it'll be up to the mages, if they push the templars to more stringent measures. He avoids saying if he supports it or not, by discussing the merits of the Rite of Tranquility and that there is an argument to be made about applying it more widely. Cullen alerts Hawke to the accusations against Aveline and participates in the resolution of the short-lived conspiracy to oust Knight-Commander Meredith.
Cullen and the other templars attack the Gallows after Meredith invokes the Right of Annulment. If Hawke sides with the templars, they will be asked to decide the fate of 3 mages who surrender. If Hawke asks Cullen for an opinion, Cullen questions the necessity of annulling the Kirkwall Circle. He says the situation in Ferelden was much more dire and even then they saved some of the mages. In response, Meredith asks Cullen if he will take responsibility if it is proven that their prisoners are blood mages, Cullen answers that he believes that is what being a templar is about.
During the final confrontation with Meredith, Cullen orders her to step down when she orders Hawke to be executed, stating that they had agreed only to arrest the Champion. Meredith will accuse him and the surviving templars of being blood mage thralls and then attack. Cullen will fight alongside Hawke.If Hawke sides with the mages, Cullen will stand down after Meredith's defeat and allow Hawke to leave the city peacefully. Should Hawke side with the templars however, Cullen and the surviving templars kneel before Hawke after Meredith's defeat, earning the respect of the templars, and winning Hawke the position of Viscount.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Following the Kirkwall Rebellion, Cullen rallied what remained of the city's templars and restored order. Seeing his potential, Cassandra Pentaghast recruited him into the Inquisition, granting him the rank of Commander. He now leads the military arm of the organization and serves as the tactical advisor to the Inquisitor.
When asked about his feelings about mages, he states that he has seen the suffering that magic can inflict and has treated mages with distrust because of it in the past - sometimes without cause. He admits that it was unworthy of him and says that he will try not to do so in the future. However, he still thinks that mages should be checked with safeguards to protect people - including the mages. Though he disagrees with the Templar Order's actions, he sympathizes with the Order's frustrations of having their work taken for granted.
As the war council assembles, Cassandra and Leliana suggest approaching the rebel mages for help with the Breach. Cullen disagrees, suggesting recruiting the templars instead, fearing that pouring too much magic into the Inquisitor's mark may destroy them all.
After the Inquisitor seals the Breach with the aid of either the mages or templars, Haven comes under attack by Corypheus. Cullen leads the defense but ultimately they are slowly outmatched. Cullen suggests using the remaining trebuchets to cause an avalanche to bury Haven, and the Inquisition along with it, until Chancellor Roderick reveals a secret pathway for them to escape. Cullen organizes the evacuation while the Inquisitor distracts Corypheus and his dragon. Once everyone is clear, he sends up a signal via fire arrow to let the Inquisitor know that the others are safe, at which point the Inquisitor triggers the destruction of Haven. The Inquisitor escapes and regroups with the Inquisition. Once they set up camp, Cullen argues with the rest of the war council on what to do, but tempers are calmed as Mother Giselle sings a hymn for the faithful.
The Inquisitor soon leads the Inquisition to Skyhold to set up their base of operations. Cullen rallies the warriors and others present to accept the Inquisitor as the official leader of the Inquisition.
Inquisitor recruits the Mages: Cullen will inform the Inquisitor that the Red Templars are being led by General Samson, a man he has personal history with. If the Inquisitor follows Cullen's advice to investigate Samson, the Inquisition will raid a quarry full of the Red Templars' red lyrium supplies and Cullen will personally aid in the raid over the Shrine of Dumat- Samson's headquarters. Cullen will be present when Samson is brought before the Inquisitor to be judged.Cullen later struggles with lyrium withdrawal. He first reveals that he has an agreement with Cassandra to remove him from duty should he prove a liability, and he can later be found arguing with Cassandra to choose a replacement for him because he is doubting his ability to command. The Inquisitor then has the option to either encourage him to fight his addiction or to go back on lyrium.
Cullen returns during the events of the 'Trespasser' DLC, set two years after Corypheus' defeat. Cullen commands the Inquisitor's honor guard and rides with the Inquisitor as they approach the Winter Palace. He is later seen adopting a Mabari cast aside ostensibly by its Orlesian master.
If the Inquistion Disbanded:
- Cullen not taking Lyrium, Inquisitor romances Cullen: Cullen and the Inquisitor retire to private life together (with Cullen's new Mabari) in Ferelden. They "continued doing good works on their own terms" and visit Cullen's family.
- Cullen not taking Lyrium, not romanced: Cullen retires from active service. Divine Victoria grants him land and he establishes a sanctuary/rehab for former Templars. He promises to pick up the sword if his friends ever need him.
- Cullen takes Lyrium, not romanced: Later on, Scout Harding finds him living as a beggar on the streets of Val Chevin. He is in the last stages of Lyrium madness. It is suggested that she ended his suffering, either by giving him coin to get more Lyrium or by providing him a quick death.
If the Inquistion Continues:
- Cullen not taking Lyrium, Inquisitor romances Cullen: Cullen and the Inquisitor continue to guide the Inquistion.They "continued doing good works on their own terms" and visit Cullen's family.
- Cullen doesn't take Lyrium/was promised to find a solution later, not romanced: Cullen continued to serve as commander. He also established means for taking care of Templars who want to quit Lyrium or have lost their minds.
- Cullen takes Lyrium, not romanced: Cullen abruptly retires from the Inquisition and disappears. Cullen loses his mind to Lyrium and becomes a beggar on the streets.
Cullen is a potential romance option for a female Inquisitor in Dragon Age: Inquisition, although only for humans or elves. He is also one of the few romance options whose romance can be initiated before the completion of his personal quest.
His romance can be initiated shortly after the Inquisitor arrives at Skyhold. Provided one is playing as a female human or elf, a short conversation with Cullen in the courtyard can be had as he is attempting to marshal his troops, during which he pledges to the Inquisitor that he will never allow another crippling defeat such as Haven to occur again. Later, the female Inquisitor can initiate a romance with Cullen by asking if he has "time to talk". They take a stroll out onto the battlements, during which the Inquisitor confesses her feelings towards him. Provided that the Inquisitor fits Cullen's specifications (female and human/elf), the feelings are mutual and they share their first kiss. Cullen says later that he'd been wanting to kiss the Inquisitor "longer than he should admit". Throughout the rest of the game, the Inquisitor will have several cutscenes and unique conversations with Cullen if the romance option was selected.
If you are romancing him during Perseverance or after the quest, Cullen will call it off or refuse to enter a relationship if you told him to go back onto lyrium. In a discussion about the sacrifices required in a Templar lifestyle, he justifies the breakup by saying, "I wasn't the same after Ferelden. I tried putting that behind me and clearly I don't know how. Until that's possible, I shouldn't be with anyone." You can still romance him, however, if you tell him you'll find a better way later for him to break his addiction.
After a mage Inquisitor encourages Cullen to continue to refuse lyrium, he can express regret for his attitudes in the previous game and state that, "The way that I saw mages...I'm not sure I would have cared about you. And the thought of that sickens me." If a mage Inquisitor encouraged Cullen to go back onto lyrium, he will be much more prickly to the mage Inquisitor when asked if he would choose her over his duty in the event he'd have to slay her should she be corrupted- insinuating he would put his duty as a templar over his feelings for the Inquisitor.
Later on, Cullen will ask the Inquisitor if she'd like to accompany him while dealing with some business in Ferelden, accepting will take you to a lake. Cullen will tell you that he used to come here as a child to get away from his siblings and the last time he was here was the day he left for Templar training, saying that his brother gave him a coin, saying it was lucky, which he has kept. He will then ask the Inquisitor to indulge him and give the coin to them. The Inquisitor may either accept the gift or ask him to keep it. Neither option will affect the romance.As with all other romanceable characters, if the Inquisitor romances Cullen, two Orlesian nobles in the throne room will comment on the romance at each progression.
During the Exalted Council, Cullen will ask the Inquisitor to marry him. The Inquisitor can agree, or tell Cullen the couple doesn't need marriage.
If the Inquisitor is an elf, they have the option to ask to say elvish vows in the ceremony, to which Cullen agrees. The elvish vows the Inquisitor reads are, "Sylaise enaste var aravel. Lama, ara las mir lath. Bellanaris." See the Elven Language talk page for speculations on the translation.
If the Inquisitor is human, only Cullen says vows during the ceremony cutscene.Mother Giselle marries the Inquisitor and Cullen.
Dragon Age: OriginsA Mage of the Circle Broken Circle Slay the Healer
Dragon Age IIEnemies Among Us Favor and Fault Best Served Cold The Last Straw
Dragon Age: InquisitionBefore the Dawn Perseverance Happier Times
- See also: War table/Dialogue
Dragon Age: Origins
- "Maker turn his gaze on you. I hope your compassion hasn't doomed us all."
Dragon Age II
- (To Hawke, Enemies Among Us, Act I) "I was at the Circle Tower in Ferelden during the Blight. I saw firsthand how templars' trust and leniency can be rewarded. I still have nightmares of Uldred's depravities."
- (To Hawke, Enemies Among Us, Act I) "Mages cannot be treated like people. They are not like you and me. They are weapons. They have the power to light a city on fire in a fit of pique."
- (To Hawke, Enemies Among Us, Act I) "There is a vigil before templars take their arms, but the gravest danger they face is falling asleep."
- (To Hawke, Act I) "The image of the poor, chained apprentice is a powerful one. And one the mages are more than willing to exploit."
Dragon Age: Inquisition
- "Kirkwall's Circle fell. Innocent people died in the streets. Can't you see why I want nothing to do with that life?"
- "Inquisition! With the Herald! For your lives! For all of us!"
- "Once your sacrifices are made, is there no end? Are you leashed until the day you die, or lyrium takes your mind away?"
- (Informal reports) Creating Inquisition footholds outside Skyhold has strengthened our reputation. People view us as a stabilizing force. We've received a number of recruits eager to pledge themselves to our cause.
- (Informal reports (After Here Lies the Abyss))
- Cullen: Many of our recruits viewed the Grey Wardens as heroes.
- Cullen: Blackwall's presence is helpful. Knowing there's one Warden immune to corruption has given people hope.
- Cullen: Corypheus's grasp is not inescapable.
- Cullen: To see how far they've fallen... it's disheartening.
- Cullen was written by Sheryl Chee in Origins, Jennifer Hepler in Dragon Age: II, and Brianne Battye in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
- Originally, Cullen wasn't a romance option for Dragon Age: Inquisition, but according to Mike Laidlaw, BioWare changed his role as a love interest when they extended the game's development for a year.
- If the imported Origins story featured a Human Mage Warden, Cullen will refer to them in the beginning of Dragon Age II Act 2, e.g. "I knew an Amell once. She was a special woman. Never met her like again." in the case of a female Warden and "There was an Amell in the Ferelden Circle, he left before Uldred attacked and came back to save us all." in the case of a male Warden.
- If the imported Origins save is a female Mage Warden, his Dragon Age II Codex makes a reference to his feelings for the Warden while they were at the Circle Tower.
- If the imported worldstate to Inquisition involved a female Mage Warden from Origins Cullen will refer to her, though the dialogue differs if he is romancing the Inquisitor. If Leliana romanced a female Mage Warden in Origins and Cullen is not being romanced by the Inquisitor, he will try to ask Leliana about the Warden during War Table banter.
- Cullen shared quarters with Samson when he was transferred to Kirkwall. He thought Samson was a "decent man" at the time.
- If Hawke sided with the templars during the Kirkwall Rebellion, Cullen was promoted to Knight-Commander of Kirkwall. Otherwise, he remained Knight-Captain, even though he was the de facto commander in Kirkwall. However, at the Winter Palace during Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts, the herald will announce Cullen as "former Knight-Commander of Kirkwall", regardless of his actual title.
- Cullen enjoys chess, and often played against his sister as a child.
- One of the banters between Cullen and Josephine at the War Table includes Cullen musing that he should "calibrate" the trebuchets, to which Josephine groaningly replies, "Again? How many times will you be doing that?" This is likely a reference to Garrus Vakarian, a character from Bioware's Mass Effect series, who spends arguably too much time calibrating the guns on the Normandy.
- Cullen's lion helmet was only featured in the Enemy of Thedas trailer in order to cover an animation glitch with Cullen's mouth. It does not feature in-game, but is included in his character kit.
- Cullen is mentioned a few times by the characters in the multiplayer mode of Inquisition. The Alchemist observes that he "smells like elderflower and oakmoss."
- In Inquisition, an Inquisition agent in Cullen's office in Skyhold will tell the Inquisitor that Cullen has gone to speak with Cassandra. However, if the Inquisitor has completed Sera's unmarked "prank" quest prior to this conversation, the Inquisitor might not be able to interact with this agent. This will render it impossible to find Cullen (which is otherwise accomplished by clicking on Cassandra), and he will never return to his office. Any further interaction with him becomes impossible, as does the completion of his questline (Supposedly fixed with Patch 6, though there are still reports of the bug occurring after the patch).
Codex entriesCodex entry: Cullen Codex entry: Cullen and the Last Few Years