This page provides the storyline for the critical path of Dragon Age: Origins.
The Warden and Duncan travel to Ostagar to meet with King Cailan and the Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir to defeat the darkspawn threat. In order to do so, the Warden and two other recruits, Daveth and Ser Jory, must first complete the Joining by venturing into the Korcari Wilds under Alistair's supervision and obtaining three vials of darkspawn blood. The group is tasked to find a cache of treaties, as well, but finds them missing. A witch named Morrigan invites them to meet her mother, Flemeth, who has safeguarded the treaties.
Back at the camp, Duncan reveals that darkspawn blood must be consumed during the Joining. When Daveth is killed by the taint upon drinking the blood, Jory refuses to follow and draws his sword at Duncan, who executes him. The Warden survives the ritual, however, becoming a full Grey Warden. During the war meeting with King Cailan and Loghain, the Warden and Alistair are ordered to light a beacon atop the Tower of Ishal while the rest of the Wardens fight on the front line with the King and the royal army in the valley below; the beacon will signal Loghain's forces to charge the darkspawn's flank. The two battle their way to the top of the tower, where an Ogre guards the beacon. Upon seeing the signal, however, Loghain quits the field with his army and leaves Cailan and Duncan to die on the battlefield. The tower is overrun by darkspawn, who strike down Alistair and the Warden.
Interlude: Flemeth's Hut Edit
The Warden awakens in Flemeth's hut and discovers Alistair is the only other Grey Warden remaining. Both of them have been rescued by Flemeth, who has tended their injuries and is keeping the darkspawn from finding them. In a discussion with Flemeth, the Warden comes up with the idea of using the treaties to build an army and continue the fight against the darkspawn threat. Flemeth urges Alistair and the Warden to continue the fight against the Blight and offers Morrigan to join them. They then travel to the nearby town of Lothering to resupply and gather information before pursuing the treaties.
At the same time in Denerim, Ferelden's capital city, Loghain presents his own version of the events at Ostagar to Ferelden's nobility, placing blame for the massacre solely on the Grey Wardens (outlawing the Order and placing a bounty on the heads of any survivors), and wastes no time in declaring himself Regent. This move is met with outrage by much of the nobility (who either disbelieve his explanation of the disaster at Ostagar or feel that, given his common birth and speed in taking the regency so soon after Cailan's death, Loghain is opportunistically grabbing a throne he has no claim to), and Loghain's imperious, tyrannical attitude to their reservations sow the seeds of civil war.
- Main article: Lothering
The Warden reaches Lothering only to find the town in chaos, with refugees crowding the area and bandits preying on them as all present flee before the advance of the darkspawn horde. After dealing with a group of bandits that greet them upon arrival, the party can proceed into town. As they move to do so, Alistair will stop the group to rethink about their plans and goals. Rather than trying to lead the new Warden, Alistair makes it clear that he would prefer it if the Warden carried the burden of leadership instead. Once this is cleared up, the party moves into town.
The Warden is not required to do anything in Lothering. However, if the Warden chooses to stop in the local inn, the party will find a local Chantry sister named Leliana. She will help the party fight a group of Loghain's men who accuse the party of being the ones to have caused the king's death. After this, she will ask to join the party due to a vision she believed she received from the Maker. Also of note is a Qunari man called Sten who is locked in a cage for murder. The Warden can convince the local Chantry mother to release Sten, at which point he will join the party. Another reason to spend some time in Lothering would be to find the local job-boards and side-quests: there are a few and it can be a way to get experience points, money and gear early on. There is the Chanter's Board outside the local Chantry and the Blackstone Irregulars have a representative inside the inn that gives out quests. There are also several other people about town who could use the Warden's help with minor tasks.
- Main article: Arl of Redcliffe
Alistair recommends that the party journeys to Redcliffe, his childhood home, in order to obtain the assistance of Arl Eamon Guerrin, the elder of King Cailain's uncles as well as a powerful and respected nobleman, revealing on route that he is a bastard son of King Maric and thus a potential heir to the throne, hence why Eamon brought him up. However, when the party arrives they are taken to meet Bann Teagan who reveals that the village is struggling to survive the nightly attacks from the undead and the Arl is gravely ill. The Warden has the opportunity to help defend Redcliffe Village from the undead attackers, but this is not necessary. After the attack has passed, The Warden will meet up with Teagan once again and he will provide access to Redcliffe Castle via means of an underground passage. Once The Warden has reached the castle dungeons, a prisoner named Jowan can be found. He is a mage who was brought in to tutor Eamon's son Connor in secret, so that Connor could learn to hide his magic abilities and thus avoid being disinherited and sent to the Circle of Magi, but Jowan had a sinister motive for taking the position. He reveals that he was the one who poisoned Eamon, on the orders of Loghain. However, it is Connor who has brought the undead, as his attempts to cure his father have resulted in a weakening of the Veil. The Warden can execute him for his actions and for being a Blood Mage, though most companions disapprove and he can provide assistance later if he is kept alive. After battling through several floors of undead, The Warden reaches the throne room of Castle Redcliffe, where Isolde (Connor's mother), a possessed Connor, and Teagan await. By this time Teagan is mind-controlled by Connor. A battle cannot be avoided, but the attack does rid Teagan of his mind-control.
After the battle Connor escapes, leaving the Warden to decide how to deal with him. Several options are presented. Firstly, The Warden can kill Connor, which will cause the demon to leave. If this option is chosen, Isolde also will reluctantly offer to kill Connor herself, so she can be there for him in his final moments. Secondly, if Jowan has been spared he will offer to perform a blood magic ritual allowing a mage to travel into the Fade to confront the demon, and allowing Connor's life to be spared. However, to perform this ritual someone must die. Isolde offers her life so her son can be saved. The final option is to travel to the Circle of Magi to seek their aid in performing a spell that will allow a mage to travel into the Fade, but will not require anyone to die.
Urn of Sacred Ashes/Haven Edit
- Main article: Urn of Sacred Ashes
After Connor has been dealt with Eamon must still be cured. Isolde points the Warden to Denerim to seek the aid of Brother Genitivi, who has been researching the location of Urn of Andraste, which is rumoured to possess remarkable curative properties. Yet, when The Warden arrives at Genitivi's house he is nowhere to be found. A man claiming to be his assistant Weylon suggests that Genitivi may have travelled to Lake Calenhad, but Genitivi is not there either. If the Warden presses Weylon, or attempts to go to the back room, the man claiming to be Weylon attacks. Upon exploring the back room the disturbing truth is revealed. The real Weylon has been murdered, and the only sign of Genitivi is a journal, which points to the Village of Haven as his likely location.
Haven is a remote village, isolated from the rest of Ferelden. The Warden receives a frosty welcome from the town guard, but he does reveal that a Revered Father, rather than a revered mother, leads their local community. Upon exploring Haven, The Warden can discover several unsettling things, such as a bloody altar, or the body of one of Arl Eamon's knights. Eventually the Warden discovers the village chantry and the Revered Father Eirik. He has no intention of allowing The Warden's to stay, and attacks. Once he has been defeated, and his medallion retrieved, Brother Genitivi can at last be rescued. Although he has been tortured, he is eager to continue on in order to find the urn and he points The Warden to the Ruined Temple that he believes holds the Urn.
Yet, the temple cannot be explored easily as violent cultists have taken up residence and attack The Warden at every turn. Eventually the temple gives way to Mountainside Caverns, where more cultists, drakes and dragonlings attack. After fighting through many cultists and creatures The Warden confronts Kolgrim, leader of the dragon cult. He reveals that they all worship a High dragon who they believe to be the prophet Andraste reborn. He asks the Warden to pour the dragon's blood over the ashes, so the dragon may reclaim power over them. Yet if his beliefs are questioned, or if The Warden is aggressive, Kolgrim will attack.
After moving across the mountaintop, The Warden faces The Gauntlet. Looked over by an ancient Guardian of Andraste's, The Warden must face a series of challenges in order to determine their worth. The Guardian begins by asking The Warden and companions a question about their respective pasts, The Warden then moves on to answer a series of riddles asked by spirits related to Andraste's life and death, next The Warden and party must fight duplicates of themselves, after this The Warden must solve a bridge puzzle and finally The Warden must pass through a barrier of fire. After this the Urn awaits. If the Ashes are defiled, the Guardian will attack, as will Leliana and Wynne if they are in the party, but Kolgrim will then be waiting outside to reward the Warden. If the Ashes are not defiled, then the Warden must decide how to handle Genitivi's enthusiasm to publish a book about this religious find. This decision, whether or not to keep the location of the Ashes secret, does not bear on the main story, but it does affect the aftermath narrative at the end.
With the Ashes in hand, Arl Eamon can at last be cured. Once he has been healed, he proposes a plan to deal with Loghain and the Blight. Eamon will call a Landsmeet with the purpose of placing Alistair on the throne. In the meantime, he recommends that The Warden continues to use the Grey Warden Treaties to gather allies. He also pledges his own troops to the Warden's cause, and sends an emissary to the Warden's camp to act as liaison.
Circle Tower Edit
- Main article: Broken Circle
Upon arriving at Kinloch Hold the Warden discovers that it is under attack by a group of abominations and the templars, under the command of Knight-Commander Greagoir, are considering using the Right of Annulment which permits them to kill all the mages in the tower. In order to procure the help of the Circle The Warden must end the threat that the demons pose. After agreeing to do this The Warden is locked in the tower. Soon after entering, The Warden finds a group of mages who have put up a magical shield and have managed to hold out against the abominations and demons. Amongst them, is a mage named Wynne. Although Petra (another mage) is concerned for her health, Wynne wants to join the party, so long as their goal is to save the Circle. If the Warden tells her that the party's intentions are to kill all the mages, as Greagoir suggested, then Wynne will fight to stop the party from going any further. After encountering her and either enlisting or defeating her, the party can pass through the barrier and proceed to upper levels.
After battling through several floors of monsters, the Warden encounters a powerful Sloth demon, who sends the party to the Fade. The Warden awakes alone, and encounters a mage named Niall. Niall had been seeking the Litany of Adralla which would allow him to prevent the blood mages from using mind control. However, he was trapped by the Sloth Demon before he could put it to use. Niall reveals that the Senior Enchanter Uldred (whom the Warden had previously encountered at Ostagar) had attempted to persuade the Circle to ally with Loghain in exchange for greater freedoms, but when Loghain's treachery at Ostagar was revealed, the Circle would have no part in his plans. At this point, Uldred first tried to explain away Loghain's actions, then attempted to escape, but First Enchanter Irving would not allow it. Uldred then attempted to summon a demon; however he was possessed, and became an abomination too, unleashing the chaos that engulfed the Circle.
Before the Warden can escape the Fade and confront Uldred, they must rescue the companions from their nightmares and confront and kill the Sloth Demon. Once it is dead, The Warden can return to Niall, yet he has been too long in the Fade and cannot return to the land of living, though he encourages the Warden to take the litany from his body to aid in the fight against Uldred.
After Uldred's defeat, the Warden can help decide the fate of the Circle. The Warden has the option of ensuring the Rite of Annulment is carried out, which will result in templars joining the army to fight the Blight, or declaring their belief that all the blood mages have been removed, which will result in a group of mages aiding in the battle against the Blight. If The Warden allows Greagoir to choose, he will allow the mages to live. Unless Irving was saved during the battle with Uldred, however, the Templars will invoke the Right of Annulment regardless of the Warden's opinion. With order restored to the Circle, The Warden can continue their battle against the Blight.
Brecilian Forest Edit
- Main article: Nature of the Beast
In the Brecilian Forest, one of the wandering Dalish clans have been attacked by a group of werewolves, leaving many of their hunters cursed and nearing death or transformation into mindless, ravening werewolves themselves, and therefore are unable to support the Wardens until this problem has been resolved. Zathrian, the keeper of this tribe, informs the Warden that he should be able to cure his fallen hunters if the Warden can slay the great spirit wolf called Witherfang and bring back its heart. There are a few other Dalish elves in the encampment who also have tasks with which they need help, should the Warden feel so inclined, but none of these have long term repercussions either way. After proceeding into the nearby forest for a way, the Warden is suddenly intercepted by a group of werewolves led by Swiftrunner, and learns that things are not quite as Zathrian has portrayed them - Swiftrunner is a werewolf who thinks and speaks like a man, not a mindless beast. After trying to shoo the Warden's party off and failing, Swiftrunner and his companions attack, but quickly realize they are outmatched and break off. Exploring the forest further, the Warden discovers an area that seems to mystically repel the party when they try to pass. They also find two possible sources of help in passing this barrier: a talking tree known as the The Grand Oak and a Mad Hermit. After gaining the help of one of these two denizens of the forest, the Warden finally penetrates the barrier and discovers the ruins which serve as the lair of the werewolves. Here, as the werewolves are trying to make a fighting retreat from the encroaching Warden and his companions, Witherfang is first seen as it tackles the Warden to provide a delay for the werewolves to make good their escape.
The Warden's party must now follow the werewolves and Witherfang into their lair, but alas, soon find that the main entrance has been sealed by the retreating werewolves. So the party is forced to find an alternate entrance somewhere in this complex of haunted ruins, fighting through groups of ancient undead warriors, giant spiders and even a young dragon. Eventually, though, the Warden's persistence pays off and a small cistern is found which grants access to the werewolves' lair. Soon after the entering the lair, the Warden encounters another werewolf who requests a parley between the Warden and the leader of the werewolves whom he calls The Lady of the Forest. The Lady reveals to the Warden that it was Zathrian himself, in fact, who centuries ago unleashed the werewolf curse upon a band of humans in retaliation for a heinous attack on his own children. Given that those responsible are long dead, the werewolves staged their ambush and intentionally infected as many Dalish hunters as possible in the hopes that at long last this might convince Zathrian to end the curse and free the werewolves to return to their human forms at last. Now the Warden must decide whether to mediate this painful feud, and if that proves impossible decide whether he will side with the vengeful Zathrian or the wrathful werewolves. Once this dispute is resolved, either by the curing and departure of the werewolves or by the death of their Dalish enemies, the Warden will have the support of the remaining side and can move on to the next strategic goal.
- Main article: A Paragon of Her Kind
The two candidates the Warden must choose between are Prince Bhelen Aeducan and Lord Pyral Harrowmont. The Warden can play both sides at first, but this comes to a reckoning quickly. Bhelen is the son of the current king, but it is revealed in the Dwarf Noble origin story that he killed his oldest brother, Trian, and got the other exiled in order to seize the throne. Lord Harrowmont is a respected Lord in the Orzammar Assembly - but some consider him a usurper because he is not an Aeducan.
The Warden must complete a quest before speaking to either of the possible kings. Bhelen makes the Warden go deliver some letters that show how Harrowmont has been duplicitous to some important politicians. Harrowmont makes the Warden enter a Proving in his name. Both quests end in the Warden being sent to end a criminal Carta in Dust Town, then being sent to the Deep Roads in order to recover the Anvil of the Void and the Paragon Branka.
Outside the entrance to the Deep Roads, the Warden will encounter another prospective party member - a dwarf named Oghren. He's looking for the Warden and the Warden can either convince him to go away by lying or simply telling him to go, or can accept his help. He's been waiting for a chance to rescue the Paragon Branka, who it turns out is his estranged wife.
The Warden will have to travel through Caridin's Cross to find a diary that belongs to Branka. The diary sends the Warden off into another area of the Deep Roads, the Dead Trenches. There they will meet both Branka and Caridin, and will have to choose between destroying the Anvil of the Void or preserving it. Caridin reveals the dark secret behind how the Anvil creates golems and why he believes it must be destroyed, while Branka has no patience with such moral niceties and simply wants the Anvil put back into use at once. Since Caridin and Branka are both Paragons, either one can lend the support which the Warden needs in order to settle the matter of choosing a new king.
The Landsmeet Edit
- Main article: The Landsmeet
Having gathered all the treaty allies for the Grey Wardens, and perhaps one or two unanticipated allies, the Warden returns to Redcliffe and advises Arl Eamon that it is time to call for the Landsmeet. Arl Eamon sends the appropriate messages to the other nobles, the banns, and invites the Warden to travel with him to where the Landsmeet will be held. Upon arriving at Arl Eamon's estate in the capital city, Denerim, the Warden is urged by the Arl to go out into the city and try to enlist the support of the banns who will vote during the Landsmeet. At this point a surprise visit by the Queen's personal maid reveals that she is being held against her will by Arl Rendon Howe, Loghain's most important supporter, because Loghain fears that even though the queen is his own daughter she may openly oppose him because of doubts about his role in the death of her husband, King Cailan. So the Warden sets out to infiltrate Howe's estate to free the queen and enlist her support for the Landsmeet. Whilst taking a detour through the dungeons of Howe's estate, the party comes across a Grey Warden from Orlais, Riordan, who makes good use of the distraction caused by the party's arrival to take out the guard watching over his cell. He makes his own way out of the estate, but another meeting seems likely. Things go well until the Warden is forced to confront Arl Howe himself, a meeting that only one of them can survive. In the end the Warden's mission here is a mixed success: the queen is set free, but the Warden and Alistair may be arrested and sent to Fort Drakon to await execution. At this point the Warden and Alistair can either wait to be rescued by their loyal companions, or they can fall back on their own abilities and execute their escape themselves. Either way, once they are at liberty they return to Arl Eamon's estate to prepare for the Landsmeet.
After the armies have been gathered Eamon calls a Landsmeet to decide who will rule Ferelden. Here the Warden and Loghain will argue their respective cases, Loghain contending that the nation must unite under him in order to secure their independence from what he sees as the main threat, the Orlesians, as they battle the darkspawn. Loghain also insists that Grey Wardens were responsible for Cailan's death and should all be executed. The Warden must present the best arguments he can to counter Loghain's ambitions. If the Warden has laid the groundwork properly prior to the Landsmeet, then he may find other noble voices speaking up in his support, perhaps even the queen opposing her own father to side with the Warden. If the assembled lords, after weighing the arguments of Loghain and the Warden, are unable to reach a consensus, then the matter must be resolved by older methods: trial by combat, You will have to choose a Champion to fight Loghain, It can be anybody in your party but if you choose Alistair then Loghain will be killed, If your PC fight's him then you have the option to accept his surrender. One way or another, however, a new ruler must and will be chosen by the end of the Landsmeet. The Grey Warden from Orlais, Riordan, will also attend and offer a possible course of action to resolve the issue of Loghain's fate, to either spare him or give him the traitor's death his actions deserve. It is even possible that a new Gray Warden might be recruited from among the lords present, to aid the Warden as the army prepares to go forth to meet the darkspawn horde. During this final preparation, Riordan reveals more about exactly how Grey Wardens of the past have managed to kill Archdemons, and the terrible price they paid to do so.
The Final Battle Edit
- Main article: The Final Battle
After leading the army to Redcliffe, where the scouts reported the darkspawn horde was headed, the Warden discovers that their scouts have failed or been deceived - the Archdemon has deceived them and brought the darkspawn horde in behind the Warden's army to strike at the city they have just left largely unprotected: the capital city of Denerim. Turning the army about and leading them on a forced march back to Denerim, the Warden finds that the horde of darkspawn has already begun to sack the city. Now the Warden must fight their way back into the city even as the darkspawn are attempting to put it to the sword. Riordan suggests that their best chance to bring the Archdemon to bay is to fight their way to the top of the tower at Fort Drakon and lure it there. Since he is already aging, Riordan decides that he is the most expendable and should make the first attempt against the Archdemon. This leaves the Warden to lead the forces to battle by stages through the streets of Denerim to reach Fort Drakon and be ready to finish the Archdemon if Riordan fails. The Warden makes judicious use of the allies he worked so hard to recruit earlier, calling on them as needed as he carves a path toward the Fort. Upon reaching the Fort, he finds that Riordan was able to hurt the Archdemon, but it falls to the Warden and his companions (plus whatever allies he can still call upon) to finish the fight and put an end to this Blight once and for all, even if it requires the death of the Warden or one of their loyal companions.