- "Men and women from every race, warriors and mages, barbarians and kings...the Grey Wardens sacrificed everything to stem the tide of darkness...and prevailed."
Warden-Commander of Ferelden
Duncan was the Warden Commander of the Fereldan Grey Wardens around 9:30 Dragon when Urthemiel rose and the Fifth Blight began. He recruited and mentored The Warden and Alistair shortly before the battle at Ostagar. He was among the first Wardens allowed to return to Ferelden after the actions of Sophia Dryden resulted in the order being exiled from the country. He faced suspicion and hostility in his search for new recruits.
Duncan is Rivaini in appearance, his father from Ferelden and his mother from Rivain. Duncan was born in Highever, then they moved from Ferelden to Orlais, where eventually he became a thief surviving on the streets of Val Royeaux after the death of his parents.
Barely more than a boy, Duncan was conscripted into the order by Commander Genevieve on the morning he was to be executed for murder. He had broken into a hotel room to rob it, and was confronted by his victim while attempting to steal a ring. The man refused to give in, even with a knife to his throat, and they fought; in the struggle, Duncan fatally wounded his victim unintentionally. As the man lay dying, he thanked the boy, to Duncan's shock and horror.
The chevaliers informed Duncan as he was arrested that the victim was a Grey Warden. When offered a place among the Grey Wardens the night before his execution, he refused: A Grey Warden's life must be horrible indeed to thank the one who murdered him. He was not entirely wrong at first; his fellow Wardens despised him, and in the months that followed, an unhappy Duncan attempted to run away several times, and continued to steal when the opportunity arose, a habit that saved his life in The Deep Roads later.
|“Antiva is a terrible place. All full of assassins and... Antivans.” — Duncan|
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: The Calling. Click here to reveal them.
Eventually, the other Wardens began to accept him and revealed the truth to Duncan. His victim, Guy, had been betrothed to Genevieve, and the prize he refused to give up was intended to be her wedding ring. Duncan stopped running away and his unwavering loyalty to Genevieve in the last year of her life appeared, at least in part, to be have been born of guilt.
While attempting to rescue Genevieve from her dream in the Fade, Duncan was faced with the happy life she had wanted to lead had her fiancee lived. She bitterly told Duncan she thought the fact he survived his Joining was a cruel joke played on her by the Maker. She had wished him dead, had forced him into the Joining in the hope he would die after getting a taste of what the Wardens went through to protect scum like him, only to be stuck with him. Duncan was stricken at first until he surmised that if she had truly wanted him gone, she could have left him to his execution, or transfered him to another outpost in the order. He confronted her with the truth, and reluctantly she left with him, escaping the Fade.Duncan was a member of the Grey Warden attachment lead by Commander Genevieve from Orlais on a mission to find the missing warden Bregan. Genevieve charges him with a grim duty: protect their guide in The Deep Roads, King Maric Theirin, or, should the king learn information detrimental to the Order, kill him. As Commander Genevieve put it, "the Grey Wardens protect all of Thedas, not simply one small nation." Instead Duncan befriends Maric, and his actions are instrumental to Maric's decision to allow the Grey Wardens to return to Ferelden.
|“We now have a dog and Alistair is still the dumbest one in the party.” — Morrigan|
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: Origins. Click here to reveal them.
Duncan appears in every Origin story, searching for a recruit to join the Grey Wardens to aid against the growing threat of the 5th Blight. He will recruit the Warden either voluntarily or through conscription, and is usually available to answer questions about the Grey Wardens and the darkspawn horde massing in the Korcari Wilds during the origin story.
- Human Noble Origin: Duncan arrives at the Cousland's estate looking for a potential recruit. The one petitioned for this was Ser Gilmore, but it is later revealed that the Human Noble Warden was always Duncan's first choice.
- Mage Origin: Duncan arrives at the Circle Tower to recruit additional mages for King Cailan's army, and is introduced to the Magi Warden by First Enchanter Irving. After Jowan escapes using blood magic, Duncan reveals that he was also searching for Warden recruits and forces Greagoir to release him/her into his custody.
- City Elf Origin: Duncan arrives in the Elven Alienage, in hopes of recruiting the son/daughter of Adaia. When Bann Vaughan kidnaps the women from the wedding ceremony, he indirectly aids Soris & male Warden/Nelaros by supplying a sword. After the City Elf Warden is arrested for killing Vaughan (or if you didn't, arrested for robbing him), Duncan steps in and invokes the Right of Conscription to save him/her from imprisonment/execution.
- Dalish Elf Origin: After Tamlen and the Warden come into contact with the mirror which Duncan believes to be Tevinter in origin, Duncan rescues an unconscious Warden and brings them to the Dalish camp. He returns to the ruins to investigate the darkspawn taint, and explains to the Warden & Merrill that Tamlen is most likely dead by now and the Warden has been corrupted by the mirror. After destroying the artifact, he discusses the affliction with Marethari and explains that only the Joining ritual can save the Dalish Elf Warden from succumbing to the taint.
- Dwarf Noble Origin: Duncan arrives in Orzammar to witness the The Proving being held in the Dwarven Noble Warden's honor. Later, when the Warden is banished, he/she finds Duncan in the Deep Roads whereupon he/she is recruited and saved from death in the darkspawn filled tunnels.
- Dwarf Commoner Origin: Like the Dwarf Noble origin, Duncan arrives in Orzammar to witness The Proving. There he watches the Dwarf Commoner Warden win the Proving to the nobility's surprise. When the Warden escapes from prison, Duncan intervenes and recruits the Warden before the authorities can execute him/her.
After Duncan recruits the Warden, the two travel to the ruins of Ostagar to take part in the upcoming battle with the King's army against the darkspawn. After receiving a royal welcome from King Cailan himself, Duncan instructs the Warden to seek out Alistair and the two other recruits to prepare for the Joining ritual. He tasks Alistair and the recruits with heading into the Korcari Wilds to obtain three vials of darkspawn blood for the ritual, as well as recovering old treaties from a Grey Warden cache in the wilds. During this time you can steal from him various items including runes, Greater Nature Salve and poultices.
Shortly before the battle, Duncan oversees the Joining ceremony for the new recruits. Daveth does not survive the ritual, whereupon Ser Jory panics and attempts to flee, causing Duncan to kill him. The Warden is the only recruit to survive the Joining, and is informed that Cailan requested his/her presence at the upcoming strategy meeting.
At a war council soon after, King Cailan orders Alistair and the Warden to light the beacon on top of the Tower of Ishal, signaling for Loghain and his army to flank the engaged darkspawn horde. Loghain, however, decides to withdraw his forces after seeing the signal. The royal army and the Grey Wardens, now hopelessly outnumbered, lose the battle. King Cailan is crushed to death by an ogre that Duncan slays, falling himself under the next darkspawn rush. Though Duncan is confirmed to be dead, his actual death is not witnessed, nor is his body found if the Warden returns to Ostagar.
In a discussion later in the game, Alistair reveals that Duncan had recently started to experience the "nightmares"—intense visions of the darkspawn that begin shortly after the Joining and fall away gradually—again, suggesting that the taint was starting to claim him and he did not have much time left.Late in the game—during the Landsmeet—the party can find Duncan's Shield in a Grey Warden cache in Denerim. The shield is a gift for Alistair as well as a powerful armor piece, one of the best in the game. In the Return to Ostagar DLC the party can reclaim Duncan's Sword and Duncan's Dagger from the ruins of Ostagar.
- (Duncan's narration in the "Join Us" trailer) "We bear a sacred burden. For an age, we have protected the lands of men. But now, a blight is upon us and we dare not falter. Regardless of race, noble or commoner. The best must take up our banner to save us all from annihilation. We are the Grey Wardens. Join us."
- (to a City Elf Warden) "Surely it has not escaped your notice that I am both armed and armored. Any fight between us would be rather one-sided."
- "I sometimes wonder if the Chantry's many laws regarding magic are even necessary. Darkspawn are a greater threat than blood mages, even abominations. It takes decades for the world to recover from a Blight."
- "Be careful what you wish for. Power is treacherous. I have seen many people--great leaders--consumed by it."
- "A word of advice from someone who's battled abominations and worse: a cavalier attitude will only get you into trouble."
- "From here, you two are on your own. Remember, you are both Grey Wardens. I expect you to be worthy of that title.
- Duncan: "You're talking to the wrong Grey Warden. All I know is that they spent all their time searching for the Old Gods."
King Maric: "That's it? Nothing else? They must be boring at parties."
Duncan: "That's pretty much it. They don't think, exactly."
- In Bioware's character file for him, his appearance is described as: "Bearded, muscular, hair graying at the temples. Has a noble bearing."
- Codex entry: Duncan states that his father was from Tevinter and his mother from Anderfels, while Dragon Age: The Calling describes him as half-Ferelden, half-Rivaini. David Gaider confirmed that the latter version is the correct one.
- Duncan is the first similarity between all of the origins.
- Duncan's longsword bears a striking resemblance to Oathkeeper which is stated to be a "plain and simple longsword" and swords of the same shape often appear in shops as a decoration.
- Duncan is the Scottish anglicized form of Donnchadh, an Irish/Scots Gaelic name, which is a compound of donn meaning 'brown' and chadh meaning 'chief' or 'noble'.
- During the Joining ceremony when Duncan stabs Ser Jory, his dagger appears to be a dar'misu, maybe because it is a knife. (The player character also brings out a knife for cutscene kills.)
- The dagger model used on Duncan outside of cutscenes appears to be a standard dagger.
- Duncan's set of armor is unique—he is the only character using such an armor model.
- Duncan's death was confirmed by David Gaider. "Duncan is dead. If he appears again, it would have to be in a story that takes place prior to Origins, if anything."
- If the male Dwarf Noble completes the Of Noble Birth quest, he has the opportunity to name his son Duncan.
- Though Duncan is confirmed to be dead, his body is never found at Ostagar, though his weapons will be found impaled into the ogre he had slain before falling at the hands of the Darkspawn. However, this could be because the darkspawn might have dragged his body away, along with many stragglers. This is made especially likely because it is known that The Architect was collecting Grey Warden blood.
- Duncan will have new dialogue options if you try to pickpocket him and fail.
- In the cutscene where Duncan kills the ogre he uses two crow daggers instead of Duncan's Sword and Duncan's Dagger.
- It's possible to steal a master hale, silverite or cold iron rune or clear grade small or large crystal from him at Ostagar, twice, one before going to the Korcari Wilds and one after. (Have stolen two Grandmaster Cold Iron Runes, once before Korcari Wilds and once after, PC)
- Despite wielding two weapons in a rogue style in both 'The Calling' and 'Origins' you can later find a shield belonging to him in the warden cache in Denerim. Its unknown if he actually used it in battle or not.