5716 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Morrigan (Dragon Age: Origins)

Morrigan

(Profile #1 - Early)


“Oh, I get it. This is the part where we’re shocked to discover you’ve never had a friend your entire life.”
– Alistair to Morrigan.


Context

Morrigan is one of the most famous characters from the video game Dragon Age: Origins. Readers who are not familiar with this setting are strongly encouraged to first read our profile for Alamen Tabris, a sample Hero of Ferelden.

The Morrigan profiles have S P O I L E R S. Dark, sinister S P O I L E R S that kidnap and eat children in the Wilds. This specific writeup covers everything until shortly after Lothering.



Background

  • Real Name: Morrigan.
  • Other Aliases: “The swamp witch” (nickname from Shale).
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Flemeth (mother), Yavana (sister).
  • Group Affiliation: Associate of the Grey Wardens.
  • Base Of Operations: Formerly Flemeth’s hut in the Korcari Wilds, later Mobile.
  • Height: 5’6” Weight: 128 lbs.
  • Eyes: Amber Hair: Dark brown


Powers & Abilities

Morrigan is a gifted mage. In this playthrough, her spells are about four things :

  • Putting one or more foes out of commission for a short time through paralysis, sleep, mental shock, magical terror, etc. (“crowd control”).
  • Cold attacks, including a nasty cone of cold spell.
  • Weakening one strong opponent using curses.
  • And some basic magical healing. This she quickly learned at Alamen Tabris’ urging, even though it’s not Morrigan’s thing.

Shapeshifter

Morrigan can also magically turn into an animal. To do that she need to have studied this species in the wilds to understand its form and “copy its soul”, as she put it. This is an unusual form of magic, not mastered by the Circle of Magi. It is usually taught within certain families living in remote regions.

Morrigan face closeup

Morrigan can thus turn into a wolf, a cat, a crow… or even deadly forms such as the marsh bear or the giant spider. Generally, though, in straight combat her spells are more powerful than any animal form.

Flemeth’s daughter is also knowledgeable about the Wilds, applied magic theory, herbalism, history and some basic medicine. She generally seems to have received a robust if unconventional education from her mother.

Like most mages, Morrigan carries an elaborate staff capable of projecting eldritch bolts. These bolts are self-aiming.

Tactical role

On the typical Tabris four-person tactical team, Morrigan plays a key role. She’s a mage, and thus wields disproportionate power. At the same time she’s the most vulnerable party member, being unarmoured and not trained with weaponry.

Both these elements make her the critical fighter in challenging fights. If Morrigan is taken out, things become much more difficult.

Morrigan’s main roles in Tabris’ tactics are :

  • Mage elimination. Mages being so powerful, who casts the first spell is often decisive. In these fast-draw contests, Morrigan will aim to remove any enemy mage from the chessboard in one shot.
    At this stage this is usually done with a paralysis spell or somesuch, giving Alamen what little time she needs to rush in to murder the incapacitated mage/priority target before they get to cast a single spell.
  • Mass incapacitation. When the party is mobbed by foes, a big sleep spell will suddenly invert the odds. While most foes are dazed the party will focus on taking out the most vulnerable enemies one by one, quickly evening the odds.
    When the spells breaks, the emphasis will be on taking out any foe attempting to reach Morrigan. But at this point the fight is usually already won.
  • Major foe control. If the party is facing a single strong foe (for instance because the lesser enemies have been dispatched first), Morrigan will use curses to weaken and disorient it.
  • Spot healing. Though Morrigan isn’t a specialised healer, she provides enough healing to keep everybody fighting under most circumstances, thus considerably saving on healing potions.
  • Battlefield monitoring. Once Morrigan has cast some key spells, she can usually just fire her mage’s staff as support fire. She doesn’t even really has to look at her targets for the staff’s eldritch bolts to hit. She’s thus free to watch for enemy movements, bad surprises and which party members need support.
    Therefore, Morrigan spends the bulk of most fights just vaguely pointing her staff and monitoring what’s going on – so she can unleash another spell if something goes wrong.
  • If the situation is under control but there are archers peppering the team, Morrigan will sometimes shift to dealing with those using whichever spells she has available at that point. Meanwhile the bulk of the team will deal with the remaining melee opponents until they can freely rush the archers.

Video

A short sequence with Morrigan talking.


The Korcari Wilds

The Korcari Wilds  are frigid spooky forests and bogs south of Ferelden . It is full of cold and humidity and wolves and hostile swamp tribes. There are many legends about werewolves, and cannibals, and curses, and witches. Most such tales are based on facts.

The Wilds are largely terra incognita. And what lies to the South of the Wilds is only known to barbarian tribes.

In some ways, the Wilds are a reminder of Ferelden’s past. It wasn’t that long since most people in Ferelden were barbarian tribals. The tribe living in the Wilds — the Chasind wilders  — have more in common with settled Ferelden folks than the latter would care to admit. They simply lost the war for control of the land to the Fereldans’ ancestors.

If there are werewolves left in the Wilds (and there probably are), this is also a reminder. The tribes in what is now Ferelden had a major lycanthropy problem until the successful wars against the shapechangers.

The tale of Flemeth and Osen

Centuries ago, Flemeth was a young, stunning woman from Highever. Her beauty attracted the attention of the Bann — the local lord — Conobar. Conobar eventually wed her even though she was a mage.

Then came a visiting bard with a golden voice, Osen. Flemeth and Osen fell in love and absconded. They stayed well away from Highever, until Flemeth heard that Bann Conobar was dying. Wanting to comfort her husband, she convinced Osen to return to Highever. It was a trap – Flemeth was captured and Osen slain.

Morrigan and her mother Flemeth

Flemeth and Morrigan.

Flemeth was imprisoned in the tallest tower by Conobar. Enraged, she summoned a demon to take her revenge, but the spell went wrong and she was herself possessed. The demonic Flemeth killed everyone in her path, including Bann Conobar, then fled South and into the Wilds.

Now a Baba Yaga -like figure, Flemeth rose to power in the Wilds. She took over the Chasind barbarians. She was called Devourer of Men and Mother of Witches. She chose lovers among wildermen, and spent them to conceive witch daughters. Many Fereldans told their kids tales about Flemeth to scare them straight.

Flemeth’s many daughters were powerful mages of their own right. They came to lead their mother’s armies North. Flemeth’s hordes ran unopposed until the hero Cormac built a coalition of Alamarri tribals (the ancestors of modern Fereldans) and Dwarven soldiers.

Though the battles were terrible and the witches fielded many monsters, the invasion was broken.

Or… or maybe not

In the version of the tale that Flemeth told Morrigan, Osen was Flemeth’s husband. Conobar was some lord who approached Osen to buy the lovely Flemeth. Flemeth and the bard agreed to the sale since they were dirt-poor, but Conobar did not have the money he promised. He had Osen murdered instead of paying him.

Spirits told Flemeth of this. As a result, she killed Bann Conobar with magic for reneging.

In this version, she wasn’t possessed. Rather she found a demon mentor after she had fled to the Korcari Wilds. It is this demonic teacher who made her legendarily powerful. Morrigan didn’t think that her mother was an abomination (that is, a demonically-possessed mage), but… something else, perhaps related to abominations.

Likewise, in Flemeth’s version, she never led a Chasind army that warred against Cormac. Cormac fought rivals in a civil war, and claimed that they were thralls of evil. The Witch of the Wild stated that her name only appeared in much later retellings of Cormac’s legend, after a major war between the Chasind and the proto-Fereldans.

Witches of the Wilds

Centuries later, Fereldans are still wary and racist about Chasind wilders. They are also terrified by accounts of some Witches of the Wilds still being active. It would seem that several apostate mages have leveraged this mystique by establishing themselves in the Wilds. These count on locals assuming that they are Witches of the Wilds and wisely running away in terror.

Unbeknownst to most, the mysterious Flemeth is still alive after all this time thanks to her great magic. She lives in a swamp hut built along the side of a forgotten ruin, whence she exerts her shadow influence on history.

The legends mention that Flemeth had many daughters over the centuries by doing unspeakable things to captured wildermen, presumably to ensure that her daughters would be mages. Yet Morrigan never met any of her sisters. One Chasind tale states that one day, before Morrigan’s birth, Flemeth hunted down all of her daughters and ate their hearts.

There are persistent rumours of one daughter of Flemeth still being alive, named Yavana . But she lives far to the North, in the Tellari swamps. It seems that Morrigan hasn’t heard these rumours yet when the Fifth Blight begins.


The Fade

The Fade is another dimension that people enter whenever they dream – or when they die. It is ever-shifting and populated by a bewildering variety of spirits. The Fade and magic also seem to be closely connected. As a random example, lyrium veins exist simultaneously in the Fade and in the material world (see our Wynne character profile for more about lyrium).

It is possible to project into the Fade without being dreaming or dead. However, this is a major and costly magical undertaking. During the Fifth Blight, Morrigan’s lucid spirit thus invaded the Fade to slay a demon in single combat and break its spell over the Arl of Redcliffe.

Demon intrusions

The Fade is separated from the real world by the Veil. The Veil gets weakened by mass death, pain and misery. A weakened Veil is particularly bad, since most spirits with an interest in the material world are demons. Sufficiently powerful demons can physically manifest, but most will have to possess something to exist in the real world.

Morrigan talking

Typical examples include possessing :

  • Corpses (thus creating various forms of undead).
  • Animals (this is how one type of werewolf is created).
  • Or even shadows or trees.

Demons find it difficult to orient themselves in the real world at first. They may not understand such alien concepts as “living” and “dead”. They may even be terrified by this different reality.

The Veil is naturally weaker at night, due to all the dreaming taking place during that time.

Demon intrusions (but even worse)

Another way of piercing the Veil from within the Fade is possessing a mage. Mages are especially susceptible to spiritual invasion. A mage possessed by a Fade entity (almost always a demon) is called an “abomination” by the church, who will sic the Templars after it.

The more powerful spirits can shape pockets within the Fade, but otherwise it is all ever-shifting and confusing. In many cases, curious spirits use images and emotions from the minds of dreamers to populate their “realm” and make up its physics.

This is why so many dreams seem to take place in a distorted version of the real world – spirit lords do not really understand what they copy. According to the church, spirits copy what they see since the Maker did not give them the gift of creation and imagination. So it’s sort of like BuzzFeed.

Demons tend to latch onto simple, powerful ideas considered sins by mortals. Thus many demons are demons of rage, desire, hunger, sloth, etc. and are relatively identical since they draw from the same primal feeling.

Two minor bits

A lucid person in the Fade can always see the Black City in the distance. This reputedly the Heaven where the Maker used to dwell, which became corrupted and deserted after mortals touched it. It is impossible to ever actually reach it, though.

The Fade is primarily a Human and Elven thing. Dwarves do not dream nor perform magic. The Qunari species doesn’t seem to dream in the same way that Humans do, and are seldom spotted in the Fade by lucid dreamers.


History

Morrigan is apparently the youngest daughter of Flemeth, the nigh-mythical “Witch of the Wilds”. Flemeth taught Morrigan powerful magics and forbidden tales. Meanwhile Morrigan helped her aged mother, cooked for her and explored the Korcari Wilds and their vicinity.

The adventurous Morrigan came to yearn for leaving the Wilds. But she wanted to finish her magical education first – and was reluctant to leave Flemeth alone in her hut.

One gets the impression that Morrigan is very young – perhaps 18 or even less. It is difficult to say, though. Morrigan was raised in the wilds by a strange and perhaps slightly senile person, is unusually intelligent and articulate, and… she’s a witch.

These things are what Morrigan says. She could be lying through her teeth. Or Flemeth might. Or both. And “Flemeth” might not of course be the historical Flemeth. Assuming there ever was an actual Flemeth.

Moral panic

Still, Morrigan made forays into villages North of the Wilds. There the swamp girl was overwhelmed by the intricacies of society, even with her superior intelligence. Though she was excited to discover all of this and assert her superiority, she always returned to the Wilds and her mother.

Her first recorded appearance was in the village in Merinwood. Though she was at most 12, Morrigan likely used some spell or changed shape, which terrified the villagers. The Templars sent three successive patrols into the Wilds to calm the spreading panic.

These were a disaster, with but few survivors. The first such patrol apparently was found by Morrigan, who reportedly turned into a crow then animated the nearby trees to slay the Templars. One of the subsequent patrols reached Flemmeth’s hut, but of this group there were no survivors.

Subsequent visits in nearby farms made less of a splash, with locals assuming that she was simply a Chasind doing some small trades. Howbeit Morrigan’s many questions and lack of familiarity with things such as eating forks once made a farmer nervous enough to threaten her with her hounds if she didn’t leave. Morrigan left but turned into a large bear, scattering the terrified dogs.

Sympathy for the Devil

As the Fifth Blight began, darkspawns invaded the Wilds from the South, killing those Chasind tribals who didn’t flee in time. The King of Ferelden came to Ostagar , a fortress once built to keep watch over Chasind wilders, to meet the Blight in battle.

While Morrigan was roaming South of Ostagar, she spotted a small but determined party making its way through the Wilds. They kept repulsing darkspawn attackers until they reached a ruined tower.

Morrigan looking grim and determined

Morrigan was intrigued by these and particularly by their leader, an Elf lass named Alamen Tabris. She followed in animal form. Morrigan confronted the party in Human form at the ruined tower, and Tabris explained that they were looking for documents once held therein.

Since Flemeth had taken and preserved the documents, Morrigan invited the Elf and her companions to her mother’s hut. There, Flemeth gladly handed the ancient Grey Warden treaties over to Tabris, a Warden-in-training. Flemeth had her daughter take the Wardens-in-training back to the Ostagar area.

On the next day, the Battle of Ostagar became a rout due to treachery. Flemeth insisted on saving the last two surviving Wardens – Alamen, and her friend Alistair. She magically nursed them back to health in her hut.

Strange bedfellows (figuratively)

Once the nearly-slain Tabris had recuperated, the Wardens went North. Their aim was to assemble an army capable of meeting the Blight. They did so with Flemeth’s encouragement and advice. The ancient Witch of the Wilds clearly had a plan, though at that point none knew that she had foreseen the Blight years before.

Flemeth then abruptly announced that Morrigan would accompany the Wardens, without having conferred with her first.

Morrigan was furious. Still, she expected that the Wardens would dismiss her once she finished guiding them to Lothering, the first large village North of the Wilds. Especially since she couldn’t stand Alistair.

Instead, Tabris insisted that Morrigan remain, mollifying her with adroit compliments and regular gifts of jewellery. Morrigan agreed to stay for the duration of the crisis. But among her fellow travellers, suspicion grew that she was up to something.


Description

Morrigan doesn’t consider herself as Human, but looks exactly like one. Specifically she looks like a young Chasind wilderwoman, albeit without the traditional bodypaint. Her unusual manner of dress is mostly Chasind-like, but it borrows from Fereldan clothing. Well, within the constraints of living in the middle of a swampy forest with little commerce.

The beautiful Morrigan likes to look interesting, and accessorises with a rag-tag collection of pretty feathers, fabrics, leather strips, and all the cool jewellery she can get.

She is remarkably articulate, forming complex sentences and employing a large vocabulary without any hesitation.

Morrigan often uses ’twas or ’tis (and even ’twould) contractions. This is perhaps a sign that she was taught an outmoded form of the language by her mother.


Personality

Morrigan is a languid, pragmatic, cold-hearted, blunt wisearse with a gigantic ego. She acts in a sarcastic and arrogant way, and is big on immediate gratification. She has a cruel in-your-face streak, and probably ripped wings off flies as a little girl.

Morrigan is self-centred, vain, unsentimental and coldly logical. She is always looking out for number one and for the most efficient solution to her problems.

Cryptic egomaniac

On the other hand, as she encounters the Grey Warden she feels lonely. Though she won’t say it, it is clear that she appreciates having peers in her life. Still, at this stage her motivations to stick with the Wardens are unclear. Especially since she can’t stand most persons on the rag-tag team.

Any question about why Morrigan is still in will, of course, be deflected using haughty sarcasm.

Morrigan’s big spiels about only respecting power and intelligence, and being amoral and above it all and not weak and emotional like ordinary people blah blah blah aren’t entirely credible. Though she elaborately denies it, she does want to look beautiful and powerful to draw attention.

Despite presenting herself as an evil mastermind she is surprisingly receptive to compliments about her intelligence and superiority.

The swamp witch is accustomed to the great outdoors. Her first time in a real city was somewhat overwhelming, and she’s slightly claustrophobic.

Doesn’t play well with others

Morrigan seems to have an inextricable love/hate relationship with her aged mother. She’s very respectful toward Flemeth, always addressing her as “Mother” with audible capitalisation. But Morrigan was essentially her servant, and leaving Flemeth’s hut means freedom and no longer playing second fiddle to the Witch of the Wilds.

She does worry about her old mum being alone, though. Even with Flemeth’s power, the Blight is a deadly threat. But Morrigan’s burning wish to be her own person out of Flemeth’s shadow. Furthermore her weariness about the horrific, sarcastic, authoritarian and somewhat senile Flemeth built up resentment to a high level.

Morrigan was raised to be unempathic, self-serving, self-aggrandising and manipulative. Her very high opinion of herself thus means a very low opinion of others. As far as she’s concerned the poor, the vulnerable, the ordinary, the bereaved can all die by the cartloads. They’re at best a waste of her time and usually an annoyance.

Blokes

Morrigan has decided that Alistair is an idiot, since she met him when he was devastated by his mentor’s death. This is a clear display of mewling, unbearable weakness in Morrigan’s opinion. She also dislikes… well, pretty much everybody everywhere except for Tabris, really. And maybe Tabris’ dog.

She also once reacted surprisingly well to a little girl who told her her clothes were pretty. The witch even gave the kid one of the decorative feathers from her shoulder pieces.

In general Morrigan seems to relate slightly better to women. This is presumably since there were no men around where she grew up. The main exception was when she would shadow Chasing swamp hunters from a distance to observe them.


Quotes

Morrigan (sarcastically): “Ah, so you’ve finally decided to rejoin us, have you ? Falling on your blade in grief seemed like too much trouble, I take it ?”
Alistair (incensed): “Is my being upset so hard to understand ? Have you never lost someone important to you ? Just what would you do if your mother died ?”
Morrigan: “Before or after I stopped laughing ?”

“Men are always willing to believe two things about a woman : one, that she is weak and two, that she finds him attractive.”

“Well, let’s get on with it before the ground opens up and swallows us, yes ?”

“’Tis only survival of the fittest.”

“A world full of people and things and buildings was all very foreign to me. If I wished companionship in the Wilds, I ran with the wolves and flew with the birds. If I spoke, ’twas to the trees.”

(Looking in disgust at haggard refugees) “Ah, look how they moan and wail and gnash their teeth. ’Tis sad to watch how helplessly they scurry about.”

(Threateningly) “Dear, sweet Mother, you are so kind to cast me out like this. How fondly I shall remember this moment.”


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Morrigan

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Power
Int: 04 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Unrevealed
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 011 HP: 020

Powers:
Damage Transference: 02, Enchantment: 01, Flash: 05, Ice production: 05, Magic sense: 05, Mystic freeze: 05, Numb (DEX, STR): 05, Phobia: 05, Regeneration: 02, Sleep: 06, Stagger: 06, Zoomorph: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • All Powers are Mystic-Linked, are Fatiguing (inflicting SPI damage against SPI/SPI), and can only be used every second Phase (i.e., one Phase must pass between each Phase of use of a specific Power).
  • Damage Transference has No Risk of Injury (+3) and No Time Limitation (+2).
  • Enchantment has a 0 APs Area of Effect, and can enchant the EV of all melee weapons wielded by her allies within this radius. Once active, it has a Special +4 Range Bonus and a Special +8 Duration Bonus to maintain its effects.
  • Weapons Enchanted by Morrigan are considered as cold attacks by targets with a vulnerability to such, but the Enchantment boost to EV is nullified if the target has 2+ APs of Cold Immunity.
  • Flash has no Range, but has a 0 APs Area of Effect centered on Morrigan. It is not resisted by Shade but by Magic Field.
  • Ice Production is limited to attacking with Cold, but it can have a 1 AP-long cone-shaped Area of Effect.
  • Magic Sense isn’t Fatiguing, but has a Range of 0 APs. It has the Detect Strength Bonus.
  • Phobia has a Range of but 0 APs.
  • Regeneration only for SPI, and isn’t Fatiguing.
  • Sleep has a 2 APs Selective Area of Effect, but the maximum number of Phases of sleep is half the Power APs rather than the full Power APs.
  • Stagger can be Combined with Ice Production, and will be active throughout any Area of Effect. Stagger and Stagger plus Ice Production are considered to be different Powers for her “every second Phase” Limitation.
  • Zoomorph is limited to beasts she has studied in the field (and thus, at this point, animals from the Wilds), but this includes some Korcari Wilds monsters such as giant spiders.

Skills:
Artist (Cooking): 03, Gadgetry: 04, Medicine: 03, Occultist: 05

Bonuses and Limitations:
Gadgetry is limited to preparing poultices, potions and other medicinal compounds from suitable herbs.

Advantages
Area Knowledge (Korcari Wilds), Familiarity (History of Thedas), Mystique (Witch of the Wilds).

Connections:
Alamen Tabris (Low).

Drawbacks:
Mistrust (Apostate mage), Minor Irrational Distrust of the Chantry, Socially Inept.

Equipment:

  • Magic staff [BODY 04, Accuracy (Magic blast): 06, Magic blast: 03].
  • Jewels box, herbs bags, camping equipment, books and scrolls, etc..
  • 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)].
  • Lyrium potions (x1) [BODY 01, Damage Transference (No Delay, No Damage Taken, restores SPI rather than BODY): 02, Grenade Drawback].

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Dragon Age video games, novels and comics. Morrigan is voiced by Claudia Black, which automatically makes her cool.

Helper(s): Darci. Variant From Ashes Morrigan model by Endeavour1934.

Writeup completed on the 22nd of August, 2014.

Subscribe to our MINI-NEWSLETTER !

One bare-bones e-mail per month. Plain text. Short. To the point. Learn more.