- “You deny us our freedom so that you may sleep better at night, but I say it is a restless and undeserved slumber.”
A vision of Orsino first appears in the quest Night Terrors, where during one of Feynriel's visions Hawke take on the image of Orsino congratulating Feynriel for being such a powerful mage.
Orsino is first met in person during the Qunari invasion of Kirkwall, having been incapacitated immediately before his magi understudies attempted to defend him, but were killed (except Bethany if she stayed home during the Deep Roads expedition). He then joins forces with Hawke and Meredith to liberate the Viscount's Keep and save the hostages. While Meredith insists on a direct frontal assault, Orsino suggest the more tactical approach of using a distraction to lure the Qunari guarding the front entrance away, giving Hawke's party a chance to infiltrate the Keep.
Three years later, Meredith's increasing paranoia and aggressive policies causes Orsino to openly defy her by staging a rally in Hightown in front of the Viscount's Keep, arguing that the Templar's efforts to block the appointment of a new Viscount are tantamount to a coup d'etat and for giving the mages more freedoms. If Hawke is a mage, Orsino asks Meredith why Hawke as an apostate isn't treated like other apostates, to which she replies that the Champion has proven themselves Kirkwall's defender.
If Hawke sides with Orsino after the rally, he will call on the Champion to investigate a conspiracy among the Mages and Templars, fearing that they are using Blood magic and hoping that Hawke will remove the Maleficar before Meredith discovers them.
In the end, after the Kirkwall Chantry is destroyed and Grand Cleric Elthina is killed, Meredith calls for the Right of Annulment. Orsino attempts to persuade Meredith the Right is unjustified and that the Circle is blameless since Anders alone was responsible. Meredith insists that some form of retribution is needed regardless and Orsino moves to rally the Circle to defend themselves.
If Hawke chooses to side with the mages, Orsino and several Circle mages make a last stand with Hawke and their companions in the Gallows Prison courtyard. However after several of his mages are killed by a Templar assault, Orisno reveals that he knew Quentin, the blood mage responsible for killing Leandra, and that he was the mysterious "O": the person who sent messages to him. Though he claims he had previously put aside Quentin's research because it was too dangerous, Orsino has been driven by frustration and despair to abandon all ethical inhibitions. He resorts to using Quentin's research and combines himself with his comrades' corpses, transforming himself into a dangerous Harvester which Hawke is forced to kill.If Hawke chooses to side with the templars, Orsino's role largely remains the same. When Hawke and the templars led by Meredith enter the hall, it appears that the first enchanter has killed the mages himself in order to fuel his blood magic, calling them "willing sacrifices". When prompted, he will reveal that he knew about Quentin but kept his existence secret so that he would not be used by Meredith as ammunition against the Kirkwall Circle. Orsino makes use of Quentin's research to transform into a Harvester, which Hawke slays with the help of Meredith and her templars. Before that if Bethany is alive and is a Circle mage, she will exclaim that Orsino could have stopped Quentin and saved Leandra, to which Orsino will reply that he is sorry but he didn't know the extent of Quentin's derangement until it was too late. She assists her sibling in the fight against the Harvester.
- (To Meredith) "You push us into desperate acts, and then use that as justification to press ever further!"
- (To Meredith) "Blood magic! Where do you not see blood magic? My people cannot sneeze without you accusing them of corruption."
- (To Meredith) "Have confidence, Knight Commander."
- Meredith: Do not trifle with me, mage. My patience is at an end.
- Orsino: A wonder that I never saw it begin!
- Hawke: So I shouldn't slit my wrists and dance naked under the moonlight just to fit in?
- Orsino: If that's what you intend, perhaps I'll join you after all...
- "Willing sacrifices. The irony is to this very moment I have never used blood magic."
- Orsino carries a 3-headed staff called the Staff of Violation, and in Dragon Age: Origins you can find statues of similar design. You can find them in a blood mage hideout in Denerim, and there is one in the Vigil's Keep basement in Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening, among other places.
- His robes and the Staff of Violation are available for Xbox Live avatars.
- Meeting Orsino is required for earning the "Friends in High Places" achievement, along with Knight-Commander Meredith, Viscount Marlowe Dumar, and Grand Cleric Elthina.
- Orsino is also one of the two figures on the starting screen of the game along with Knight-Commander Meredith.
- Orsino was never intended as a boss if siding with the mages, but was included as Bioware felt that the game needed another boss.