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Alistair (Dragon Age: Origins) sarcastic grin

Alistair

(Profile #1 - Early)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Alistair is one of the main characters in Dragon Age, a major series of heroic fantasy computer RPGs.

This profile assumes that he follows the usual sword-and-board skillset, though that’s not the only way he can be developed in-game. It also includes S P O I L E R S, starting right with the Background block underneath.

Unless you’re highly familiar with the setting and plot, we suggest that you first read the profile for Alamen Tabris, the Hero of Ferelden, our main Dragon Age: Origin entry.

This profile is about Alistair’s early life, up to when the game starts. His game stats depict him as the party leaves Lothering.



Background

  • Real Name: Alistair.
  • Note: Like most Grey Wardens Alistair does not use a last name, to symbolise having renounced his old life.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: King Maric Theirin (father, missing and believed deceased), King Cailan Theirin (half-brother), Fiona (secret mother), Queen Anora Theirin (sister-in-law, née Mac Tir), Moira Theirin the Rebel Queen (paternal grandmother, deceased), King Calenhad Theirin (paternal ancestor, deceased), Goldanna (supposed half-sister, who has five children), supposed mother (name unrevealed, deceased), Arl Eamon Guerrin of Redcliffe (unofficial adoptive father).
  • Group Affiliation: Grey Wardens, former junior monk with the Chantry.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile in Ferelden.
  • Height: 6’1” Weight: 200 lbs.
  • Eyes: Light brown Hair: Light brown


Powers & Abilities

Alistair is a skilled warrior and a brawny young man. He’s a heavy footman and generally operates with heavy armour, a large shield and a big sword.

In a fight he thus corresponds to the traditional MMORPG role of the tank . He gets into the enemy’s face, forcing them to engage him and to leave his less well-armoured colleagues free to manoeuvre as he holds the line. Alistair fights defensively, but the blows from his sword or shield remain dangerous.

Alistair knows some archery from basic Grey Warden training. Wardens are tactically flexible.

Lyrium exposure

Templar are taught ways to disrupt magical energy. This is not unlike spells, but these very specialised abilities do not make them mages. The source of their power isn’t intrinsic. It appears to be developed by gradual exposure to concoctions using the toxic, addictive mineral lyrium.

In most cases this just make Templars harder to affect with mental spells, but competent veterans have more offensive abilities. Alistair — and presumably some other Templars — can also sense the presence of magic around him.


Video

A compilation of general banter from Alistair in DA:O.


This corruption

Alistair was trained to become a Templar. The Templars are a military cadre specialising in hunting and killing rogue mages, and monitoring the law-abiding ones.

The Templar Order is an arm of the Chantry, which is the loose equivalent of the Catholic Church in Thedas. The Chantry is so named since its bible is the Chant of Light, written by a Joan-of-Arc-like prophet named Andraste. For more about the Chantry, see our Leliana character profile.

The Chantry’s goal is to unit all in the worship of the Maker, to convince this deity to return and restore the world to happiness.

One of the problems with mages is that they are constantly at risk of possession by entities from the Fade – the realm of dreams and the dead. According to legends, it was an over-ambitious circle of mages who accidentally wrecked the Heavens, leading to the abandonment of the world by the Maker and triggering the Blights. For more about the Fade, see our Morrigan character profile.

Alistair in splint armor

As a result, most consider that it is best to closely monitor mages and put them by the sword if they try something funny.

Mages are born that way and their abilities emerge during childhood, much like mutants in the Marvel Universe. Any child is at risk. All children identified as being mages will be taken in by the Chantry and handed over to the Circle of Magi, without appeal, usually at a very early age.

Great powers

Mages can be very powerful. A single experienced mage could easily kill an entire squad of ordinary soldiers, and this is assuming straightforward attack spells. A single fireball will likely suffice.

This power explains why mages are not immediately killed as an unacceptable danger. They can get a fair bit done. An army without mages would be at a severe disadvantage against a force with mages.

The Templars are a skilled, powerful military order. They played an important role during some of the darkest times in Thedas, protecting the populace from creatures from the Fade and blood mages. Though they’re just men, they get better results against paranormal threats than most.

Whereas Chantry priests are normally priestesses, the vast majority of Templars are male.

However, the organisation has many downsides. These include fanaticism, Chantry and internal politics, and having its members addicted to lyrium to better control them. Lyrium use over decades will further induce brain damage and other severe addiction symptoms.


The Kingdom of Ferelden

Ferelden (capital: Denerim) lies tucked in the South-Eastern corner of Thedas. It is a sort of fantasy medieval Scotland, though the locals are portrayed with a more English accent. Depending upon the hour the weather can be bad, cold, or both.

Fereldans are still connected to their roots as Alamarri barbarian peoples, though they have adopted settled lifestyles some centuries ago. They remain a rugged, independent people who see themselves as valuing freedom and merit over societal stratification.

Fereldan politics is akin to cat herding. And in Ferelden violence is never far removed from conflict. Unsurprisingly, Fereldan history features more than its share of civil wars.

Alistair at a Chantry, with Morrigan and Alamen

A key event of proto-Fereldan history was the birth of the prophetess Andraste. She went on to demolish the Tevinter Imperium whilst her husband leveraged her charisma to unify tribes. After Andraste’s death these Alamarri tribes promptly reverted to infighting and quarreling. But they were forced to unite again during the Second Blight, under the leadership of the hero Hafter.

Hafter then warred against rival barbarian nations the Chasind and the Avvar. This is how the Alamarri conquered the area they named Ferelden (“fertile valley”). Though the Chasind were forced to the South, conflicts continued for decades.

Of course, after Hafter’s death, Fereldan infighting resumed. Still, his widow Isulde forcefully maintained a sort-of-feudal organisation within the realm.

Telling the dogs from the wolves

Fereldan history during the Black Age was marked by conflict with werewolves. The Alamarri always had ties with these lycanthropes, even as they gradually became Fereldans and settled in these bountiful lands. For instance, Hafter was reputedly part-werewolf.

But things went bad. Decades of war and terror ensued as Fereldans hunted, and were hunted by, the horrible creatures.

During these awful times the Humans adopted many dogs. These could smell werewolves and help fight them. Dogs become Fereldans’ best friends. Even today foreigners will often remark on how many dogs run around Fereldan communities, and how prized they are by the locals. Foreigners sometimes call Fereldan nobles “dog lords”.

King Calenhad

During the Exalted Age, King Calenhad re-united Ferelden. That was in part to finish the on-again, off-again war against the Avvar barbarians. This held for less than a century, and Ferelden descended into civil war yet again during the Blessed Age.

The powerful kingdom of Orlais seized the opportunity and invaded, conquering Denerim. Orlais dominated Ferelden for 75 years. Descendants of Calenhad repeatedly attempted to trigger a revolt. But they only met with failure until King Maric’s victories at the very beginning of the Dragon Age. These were in good part thanks to his brilliant general Loghain Mac Tir.

The Kingdom of Ferelden was thus reestablished. Albeit the Fereldans resented it, an Orlesian cultural influence (which Orlesians would no doubt describe as “civilising”) was now part of their way of life.

Many Fereldans still resent Orlesians by the year 9:30. But at the same time plenty of Orlesians still live in Ferelden. Furthermore, the redoubtably subtle Orlesian Empress Célène has secretly established alliances with King Cailan of Ferelden.


History

During the Storm Age, a complex conflict erupted between the Grey Wardens and the King of Ferelden. This resulted in the Wardens being expelled from Ferelden for more than 150 years, until the early years of the Dragon Age.

Alistair getting angry

After King Maric Theirin of Ferelden freed his land from Orlesian occupation, he was contacted by the Grey Wardens. They needed his personal help for an operation deep underground. At that time the King wad depressed by the death of his wife Rowan the Warrior Queen. He also had been prophesied by the witch Flemeth that a Blight would strike his kingdom during his lifetime.

Thus, Maric agreed to let some Grey Wardens enter Ferelden and to work with them.

Among the Grey Wardens present were the deadly and charismatic fighter Duncan, and the powerful Elven mage Fiona. These two became friends and comrades-in-arms to King Maric. They thus convinced him to let the Grey Wardens start rebuilding their power base in Ferelden.

During this campaign, Fiona and the King had a tryst. As Fiona returned to her native Orlais, she realised that she was pregnant.

Secret baby

After giving birth, Fiona returned to the King. She had him swear never to tell anyone who his bastard’s mother was.

As it happened, a servant at the palace had just died in childbirth. The baby was stillborn and the father had died some months before. King Maric had the bodies of the baby and the mother disappeared. He then told close allies of his that the deceased servant was the mother of his bastard – and that her baby had actually survived.

These allies were the Guerrins, the lords of the Fereldan town of Redcliffe. Their ruler, Arl Eamon, was Queen Rowan’s younger brother. He and the third Guerrin sibling, Teagan, agreed to raise King Maric’s bastard Alistair in Redcliffe.

Childhood

Though he did not treat the boy like a noble to avoid suspicion, the good Arl was like a father to Alistair. Meanwhile Maric’s son with Queen Rowan, Cailan, succeeded his father upon his death.

However, the Arl of Redcliffe wed. His wife Isolde hated the persistent rumours that Alistair was Eamon’s bastard. This was in large part because she was from Orlais, and thus viewed with hostility by many Fereldans. Thus, she wanted the kid out. Eamon eventually relented. When Alistair was 10, he sent him to a nearby Chantry monastery.

The furious Alistair never quite spoke to the Arl again. He despised the monastery life. He never had any friends as he didn’t fit in with either the poor kids or the nobles. He did respond well to Templar training, though. Little Alistair excelled at it. He enjoyed the education as well as the necessary mental and physical discipline.

The man who wouldn’t be King

Alistair knew that he was Maric’s bastard. Howbeit, he never learned that his mother was Fiona. As he grew up, he learned that Cailan had wed one Anora Mac Tir, the daughter of King Maric’s greatest general.

Alistair and Alamen stand blood-splattered

Anora would presumably give Cailan children, allowing Alistair to live in satisfying obscurity and never get involved in the responsibilities of his parentage.

With Maric dead and Fiona far away, only one person in Ferelden knew of Alistair’s true heritage. That was Duncan, by now the Warden-Commander of Ferelden. As Duncan slowly raised a hand-picked force to rebuild the local Grey Wardens, he visited Alistair when he could.

Let the man of the blood drink he blood

In 9:29, Duncan announced that he would recruit a Warden from the Templars. The Templar’s Knight-Commander decided to organise a tournament, presumably to showcase the strength of his fighters before Denerim. Alistair certainly wasn’t considered worthy of participating. But when Duncan came, he specifically pointed at Alistair and said he wanted this young man to take part.

In the end, Alistair ranked fourth. That was a remarkable feat given the calibre of the opposition and Alistair’s lack of actual combat experience. He was also a hit with the public, graciously helping his defeated opponents back to their feet or making jokes if they rejected said help. To the Templars’ resentment and confusion, Duncan picked Alistair.

Since he didn’t fit in well with the Templars and liked the fatherly Duncan, Alistair promptly agreed to follow him. The lad left before it was time to pronounce his vows as a Templar.

Alistair was one of the two survivors of his Joining, and Duncan apparently took him in as his aide. Within months of Alistair’s joining, the dreams of Grey Wardens in Ferelden prophesied a Blight. Duncan warned King Cailan.

The Fereldans would make their stand in the ancient ruins of Ostagar. The local Grey Wardens rallied there – except for Duncan, who left to make one last quick recruitment.


Description

Alistair is a brawny hunk, with a curiously modern buzzcut that is presumably held with scented grease. He’s usually clad in heavy armour, with a big heavy shield and a big heavy sword on his back.

He has an English accent, and is 20 when the Fifth Blight begins.


Personality

As might be guessed from his quotes below, Alistair is similar to a certain archetypal Joss Whedon character, typified by Xander in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He comes across as a lighthearted, positive, charming young man making numerous jokes relying on his verbal agility, taste for absurdity and ideas association.

Faith and magic

Alistair is wary around mages, given his education. He can be assuaged into collaborating, but the suspicious glares will never stop.

Whenever he wants to point out the danger a mage poses, Alistair will use turning people into frogs as his example of likeliest wrongdoing. This and his overuse of the word “creepy” are low-key running gags.

Of course, Alistair doesn’t get along with Morrigan. This leads to many, many catty exchanges that Alistair seldom wins – though they both end up sounding juvenile. Relations with Wynne are considerably easier, despite Wynne reminding Alistair of many authoritarian Chantry priestesses he knew at the monastery.

Having been raised in part by the Chantry made a non-believer out of Alistair. He’s openly irreverent toward Andraste and the Chant of Light. However, he’s not antagonistic about it. It’s closer to amused cynicism.

Leliana’s sincere faith seems disconcerting to him, perhaps by giving him the impression he didn’t understand something.

Boyish charm, part 1

Though he’s funny and an exceptionally solid man-at-arms, Alistair is stuck at age 15 or so. He has no idea of how to grow up.

He’s keenly nostalgic about his wonder years with Arl Eamon. Almost everything since then has been barren, regimented and imposed upon him. He feels comfortable in the role of class clown, which he obviously uses to camouflage his lack of life experience and assertiveness.

Alistair discussing at the camp, at night

Alistair doesn’t want to be anybody special. He’s a follower, and he’s afraid of responsibilities. All he wants in life is to belong to some sort of family that would care for him and provide him with affection.

His joining the Grey Wardens was likely driven by this need to belong, and his appreciation of Duncan as a substitutive parent. Duncan was much cooler than the priestesses at the Chantry, and a viable role model.

Boyish charm, part 2

Alistair handles loss very poorly. He was devastated by the death of Duncan, and Morrigan nagging him about it didn’t help. His refusal to grow up makes him vulnerable to emotional hardship, though his physical courage is seldom if ever in doubt.

Albeit Alistair’s pretty funny, this fools none of the ruthless hard-arses on the crew, such as Morrigan, Shale or Zevran. These tend to consider him a whiny little boy and underachiever, and to make him the butt of their sarcasm.

Alistair somehow manages to be both witty and not particularly intelligent. He’s far from dumb, but his acumen is much more focused on coming up with verbal jokes than on taking charge of his own life and solving problems by himself.


Quotes

Morrigan (sarcastically): “Oh, and you fear that I shall summon barbarians who will come swooping ’pon you ?”
Alistair (warily): “Yeah. Swooping is… bad.”

Alistair (to Morrigan): “You stole them, didn’t you ? You’re some kind of… sneaky… witch thief !”
Morrigan (amused): “Did you come up with that by yourself ?.”
Alistair (warily): “Yeah, right. Witches. First they mock you… and then zap ! Frog time.”

(With subtle sarcasm) “Ignorance is bliss. Or at least that’s what the Chantry kept telling me.”

“That’s what I’m here for, right ? To deliver unpleasant news and witty one-liners.”

“I was raised by dogs. Giant, slobbering dogs from the Anderfels. A whole pack of them, in fact.”

(Sarcastically commenting about a war profiteer) “It’s so nice to see everyone working together in a crisis. Warms the heart.”

“This hurts my manly feelings, you know. All one of them.”

(Feeling queasy after a brutal fight) “That’s… a lot of blood.”

Sten (proposing a duel): “You are a Grey Warden. How are you going to face an archdemon if you cannot face me ?”
Alistair (not wanting to duel): “It is a mystery, I’ll admit.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Alistair

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Responsibility
Int: 03 Wil: 03 Min: 03 Occupation: Grey Warden
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 010 HP: 020

Powers:
Awareness: 02, Life Sense: 10, Magic field: 01, Magic sense: 00

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Awareness is limited to sensing the Blight, and particularly the activities of the Archdemon commanding it.
  • Life Sense is limited to hazily sensing large concentrations of darkspawns.
  • Magic Field is Self Only, and limited to Mental and Spiritual attacks.

Skills:
Evasion: 05, Medicine (First aid): 03, Weaponry (Melee): 04, Weaponry (Archery): 03

Bonuses and Limitations:
Evasion only if Alistair is wielding a full-sized shield.

Advantages
Familiarity (Chant of Light, Military equipment and protocols), Misc.: As a Grey Warden, Alistair is extremely resilient to the Taint, Misc.: Alistair is dragon-blooded (see profile #2).

Connections:
Alamen Tabris (High).

Drawbacks:
Secret Identity, Misc.: As a Grey Warden he needs about 50% more food, has about a 30-year life expectancy after the Joining, and experiences nightmares cause by darkspawn activity (particularly during a Blight).

Equipment:

  • Sword of Ser Garlen [BODY 05, EV 04, Joined (ML): 01, Limitation: Join only to add to the wielder’s RV against Planned Knockback and Stagger].
  • TEMPLAR LARGE SHIELD [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 05, EV 03 (04 w/STR), Recommended STR 02, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 3 APs, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 3 APs].
  • SPLINT MAIL ARMOUR [BODY 05, Skin Armour: 01, Damage Capacity: 03, Drawback: Real Armour].
  • Healing potions (x3) [BODY 01, Damage Transference (No Delay, No Damage Taken): 02, Grenade Drawback].
  • Reparative poultice (x2) [BODY 01, Medicine (First aid): 07, Regeneration: 03, Grenade Drawback, Bonus: Medicine and Regeneration are Combined (and Regeneration can repair badly damaged tissues)].

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Dragon Age video games, novels and comics. Alistair is voiced by Steve Valentine.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 20th of August, 2014.

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