Ser Aaron Hawthorne of Ferelden
Ser Hawthorne is a minor character in Dragon Age stories. He doesn’t appear in the video games, but in one of the comic book miniseries. Namely in Dragon Age: Knight Errant, where he’s the titular knight.
If you’re not familiar with the world of Dragon Age, you can first read our primer to Thedas, the Dragon Age setting.
This character profile has S P O I L E R S for Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II and Dragon Age: Knight Errant.
- Real Name: Ser Aaron Hawthorne.
- Other Aliases: “Muscles” (nickname from Varric Tethras).
- Marital Status: Apparently single.
- Known Relatives: Parents (deceased), little sister (deceased).
- Group Affiliation: Servant of King Alistair of Ferelden, field partner of Vaea.
- Base of Operations: Mobile.
- Height: 6’1″ Weight: 190 lbs
- Eyes: Light brown Hair: Greying (though his beard is still mostly black).
Powers & Abilities
Hawthorne has been a lifelong fighter, killing his first man at age nine (!). He was an unruly kid (video).
He’s a superb swordsman who fought in many battles, including some grave defeats. He’s also tall and powerfully built.
Aaron even masters some rare, advanced techniques. That includes several forms with dual-wielded broadswords. He’s also a trained archer, but that’s not his forté.
However, he now has been an alcoholic for two years. He thus looks like a washed-out (if charming) has-been.
Furthermore, his preference for negotiation and peace is often assumed to be cowardice. People leap to the conclusion that he no longer can fight.
This is deceptive. He *is* a drunk who’d rather not fight, but combat is in his blood. When he has no choice left, Ser Hawthorne is a deadly fighter able to defeat a half-dozen armed, trained men by himself.
In matters less martial, Hawthorne has solid people skills. He’s charming, has genuine presence, and is a good storyteller. Aaron has repeatedly been able to de-escalate small-scale battles by himself through his eager charisma, his sincerity and his courage.
Ser Hawthorne has the ear of King Alistair, being an elite royal envoy. He’s also on friendly terms with Viscount Varric Tethras of Kirkwall, who is a… particularly useful person to know.
He has an excellent eye for talented people. This is a recurrent trope in Dragon Age, with some wise and skilled people being able to tell that somebody they just encountered has a heroic level of potential.
Aaron Hawthorne, a Human, was born in 8:88. A pauper, he lived in Portsmouth, a Fereldan city presumably located on the shores of the Waking Sea.
At age six, he found some miserable employment on the docks, carrying small loads. But the Fereldan rebellion, under the leadership of Moira the Rebel Queen, had been making headways against the Orlesian occupier. Independentists now covertly operated in Portsmouth, and Aaron joined them.
By this point he was but eight. Therefore, the rebels had him act as a messenger, smuggling information to the rebel royals. However, things had just turned sour. Queen Moira had been murdered by treacherous Fereldan nobles. The rebellion lost its momentum.
Aaron was caught by two scummy city guards, and his short career as a spy was over. But unexpectedly, the nine-year-old seized the dagger held to his throat. He fatally stabbed one of his captors and forced the other to run.
Then little Aaron Hawthorne fled Portsmouth. He brought the intelligence he had been entrusted with to Prince Maric, Moira’s son.
You say you want a revolution
Impressed, Maric heeded the kid’s eager petition to join his troops. Thus, Aaron fought during the conquest of Gwaren, an important rebel victory. He survived the disastrous Battle of West Hill, and presumably was among the die-hards who held Gwaren against Orlesian forces.
Their faith was rewarded when Prince Maric and his star general Loghain Mac Tir, both believed dead, made their return to Gwaren. Maric avenged his mother, Queen Moira. Then, with his leadership and Mac Tir’s superb tactics and strategies, the Fereldan rebellion triumphed.
The war had outlasted the Blessed Age. It was now 9:2, the third year of the Dragon Age. Aaron learned that his parents and his little sister had died during the war, perhaps during independentist riots in Portsmouth.
Ser Aaron, beloved knight of Ferelden
By age 15, Aaron had returned to Portsmouth. The city’s ruler, who was married to an Orlesian noble, had remained loyal to Orlais. A deal was closed, and Orlesian knights came in to escort the ruling family abroad. However, the populace wanted to kill the fallen rulers rather than let them leave.
As Aaron came in, it was obvious that the fierce chevaliers of Orlais would fight to the death. Though they couldn’t possibly win, there would be many persons killed, the ruling family would be murdered, and the war would likely resume over this.
Armed with but a flagpole, Aaron physically interposed himself between the baying mob and hardened Orlesian shock troops. As one of the heroes of the war of independence, he delivered a fiery speech about not allowing the death of more children, and refusing to see the flames of war fanned anew.
It actually worked. For this feat, King Maric made Aaron Hawthorne a knight.
Ser Hawthorne was a landless knight. Instead, his job was to act as a goodwill ambassador for Ferelden. He would thus continue to use his charisma to prevent wars and maintain good international relations.
Disaster at Ostagar
When Aaron was in his early 40s, hordes of darkspawn monsters came from the South. The Fifth Blight had started, and once again the surface people were threatened with eradication.
King Maric was gone, but his son King Cailan was of age. In 9:30 the armies of Ferelden assembled under his command at Ostagar, in an attempt to destroy the darkspawn army.
Cailan, an elite corps, and the Grey Wardens of Ferelden were at the center of the battle. They would draw the darkspawn in, and create an opportunity for the bulk of the army to attack the darkspawn in better conditions. However, once the units with Cailan were in melee, Loghain Mac Tir sounded the retreat.
Ser Hawthorne refuses to speak of what happened at Ostagar. Apparently, he broke ranks and disobeyed the orders to retreat. Instead, he dove into the battle to fight at his King’s side. It would seem that he ended up unconscious, and stuck under corpses. Perhaps a large darkspawn such as an ogre fell on him as it died.
Aaron thus survived the battle. But King Cailan had been slain, as well as almost every member of his guard. All of the Grey Wardens in Ferelden had apparently been slain in the battle, including Warden-Commander Duncan.
Ser Hawthorne’s morale was shattered by the defeat at Ostagar. He became a drunk. One assumes that he fought during the Blight, though.
The Fifth Blight
Among the few survivors of Ostagar were two young Grey Wardens – Warden Alistair, and Warden Alamen Tabris.
In Fereldan society, Tabris was among the lowest of the low and less than dirt. She was an alienage Elf, and thus a reviled minority. She was also an alcoholic, out-of-control teenage street thug and a terrible fit even in Elven ghetto society.
(Alamen Tabris is the canon Hero of Ferelden *on writeups.org*, since we need a set playthrough to present the setting and characters. See her character profile for more.)
Nevertheless, Warden Alamen proved herself an incredible warrior and a forceful leader. She created a grand alliance throughout Ferelden and gave her life to break the Fifth Blight, saving untold millions. She also revealed Alistair’s parentage, turning her comrade-in-arms into King Alistair of Ferelden.
A man who served three Kings
And thus Ser Hawthorn came to serve a third King of Ferelden. As a wandering knight, he helped with the post-Blight chaos in the realm, though he would eventually resume his international embassies.
In 9:32, Ser Hawthorne came to Edgehall, in Western Ferelden. History had not been kind to the poor city, and Aaron found an ongoing race riot. True to form he interposed himself between the Elves of the Edgehall alienage, and the Humans of the small city. Though by this point he clearly looked like a washed-out has-been, Aaron once again managed to bring peace.
Greatly relieved, the Elves of the alienage feted Ser Hawthorne with a feast. This touched Aaron, since they were obviously starving.
Aaron was inspired by their generosity, and by the deeds of Alamen Tabris. Warden Alamen had broken every societal rule to save people who wouldn’t have pissed on her had she been on fire. Following her example, Ser Hawthorne did something practically unheard of – he offered to make an alienage girl his squire.
This also created the possibility of an Elven knight of Ferelden, which would be a first.
Aaron specifically picked Vaea, a girl of about 14. An orphan, she had just lost her last relative — her uncle — in the race riot. Though the girl thought that he was just a stupid drunk shem (a derogatory Elf term for Humans), the keen-eyed Aaron had noted that she was exceptionally agile, courageous and determined.
Vaea soon agreed to become a rare Elven squire, as she wanted to travel and leave Edgehall behind.
But, mmm, this is getting a bit long. Let’s continue this here tale in Vaea’s character profile, eh ?
In his youth, Ser Hawthorne was apparently the proverbial tall, dark stranger. He even had lush, long black hair and — one suspects — an unbuttoned shirt revealing a muscular torso.
By 9:32, he’s well in his 40s. His shoulder-length hair has markedly greyed, he’s no longer as muscular, and his complexion suggests a certain familiarity with bottles and flasks.
He is dressed in Fereldan lamellar armour and packing a sword – quite similar to the ones Alistair used as a young Warden. However, his somewhat goofy smile and dishevelled air make him look more like an over-the-hill entertainer who was in that folk-rock band your mother liked back in her heydays.
If he’s forced to fight, Ser Hawthorne suddenly looks significantly taller and more powerful. He becomes stony-faced and with the cold eyes of a killer. Somehow, he even seems more muscular than he was seconds before.
Ser Hawthorne is sick of war and killing. As a result he’s quite invested in his mission as an ambassador. On the surface it all just looks like carousing, schmoozing and high society events (especially in Orlais). But he’s creating valuable foreign contacts, willing to work with him to prevent problems or in back-channel negotiations.
In most cases he looks like a charming booze hound, life-of-the-party type entertaining bored aristocrats. He’s almost always positive and cheerful, but routinely comes across as a has-been bragard who’s greatly embellishing his tales of his exploits. Yet his anecdotes seem to be true, with the embellishment being minor raconteur patter.
Though his alcohol problem is genuine, he’s much sharper, smarter and more observant than he looks. In some ways it’s a secret identity thing, a bit like Christopher Reeves’ Superman and Clark Kent (video). In other ways it’s an ambassadorial thing – to be affable and congenial while handling weighty affairs of the state and intelligence work.
Despite being born in poverty and growing up with a rebel army, Aaron is an eloquent man with excellent grammar and an ample vocabulary. He presumably received remedial education after being knighted, and excelled at it.
Ser Hawthorne is very much a white hat. And as often in Thedas, his view of proper ethics is surprisingly modern. Ser Hawthorne will always defend those who cannot defend themselves, even if that creates sticky situations due to his official role.
Coming from a terribly impoverished background, Aaron quietly upholds strong social justice views. Though he wouldn’t do it personally, he considers that stealing from the rich to give to the poor is laudable. He despises slavery, prejudice and the mistreatment of servants and workers. And of course he will always keep his word and sacrifice himself for the good of the common people.
There is a clear tension between the reserved attitude his duties necessitate, and his wish to directly prevent harmful deeds.
Though many Human plebeians despise Elves — the only persons they can feel superior to — Ser Hawthorne is supportive of alienage Elves. He doesn’t know a lot about their cultures, but he sure doesn’t like to see people treated that way and with that much prejudice. Seeing an alienage Elf emerge as the Heroine of Ferelden made him smile as much as it made most Humans cringe.
Ser Hawthorne is all for respecting foreign cultures, even long-dead ones. He was incensed by tomb-raiding and trade of stolen antiquities, even going “this belongs to a museum !” once.
Ser Hawthorne cannot resist alcohol. If there’s some being served, he’ll have a full tankard or glass in hand within seconds. Whenever he enters an inn, his priority is to sit at the counter and have a beer or five, leaving his squire to handle the logistics. One of the first things he does after waking up is have some wine.
He can hold his liquor quite well. But on the other hand he drinks a *lot*, and he isn’t young anymore. Thus, he will sometimes get into stupid drunk people crap. However, since alcohol is so common, this tends to be forgiven as a “boys will be boys” thing.
At the close of the story, Ser Hawthorne attempts to go dry. Given his resolve he will likely succeed. But one is never truly free from alcohol, and his duties include a lot of parties and other social events with good booze.
Ser Hawthorne is especially likely to drink if Ostagar comes up in a conversation.
“Any deal we strike today, I can bring to King Alistair. There can be peace. No one else has to die.”
“See, Vaea ? The stories never lie.”
“Let me tell you about the time I marched into a den of dragonlings, clad only in my long johns…”
(Emphatically, and with sweeping gestures) “… and the Elves of Edgehall, who had nothing, who lived in squalor and despair… they threw me a feast. I am a knight. I want for nothing. Yet they gave me whatever they had in thanks.”
“I have fought and bled for two Kings. That I spend my waning years telling tales for a third is not a reason to cast aspersions. A knight’s tales can inspire greatness in others.”
“Good sir, I demand you retract whatever insinuation has just oozed from your fetid tongue. If not, I shall remove it for you.”
“I am a drunk, Vaea. Not an idiot.”
“We’ll return the journal when we’re done. I am still a knight. And a knight’s word is his bond.”
Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: 04||Str: 03||Bod: 04||Motivation: Uphold Good|
|Int: 05||Wil: 04||Min: 04||Occupation: Goodwill ambassador|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 04||Spi: 05||Wealth: 005|
|Init: 013||HP: 030|
Animal handling (Horses): 04, Artist (Storyteller): 05, Charisma: 05, Evasion: 05, Weaponry (Melee): 06, Weaponry (Archery): 04
Bonuses and Limitations:
Evasion requires an off-hand item capable of parrying or blocking. If this off-hand is a blade, it will only protect against melee attacks.
Credentials (Ferelden Royalty, Medium), Misc.: Aaron is a knight of Ferelden, albeit a landless one.
Varric Tethras (Low).
SIA toward knightly honour (such as keeping his word), MIA toward alcohol.
- LAMELLAR ARMOUR [BODY 03, Blunting: 02, Damage capacity: 03, Enhance (Bludgeoning, Piercing, Slashing RV): 01 (cap is 07), Enhance (Slashing, Piercing RV): 01 (cap is 08), Enhance (Laser, heat/flame, Acid RV): 01 (cap is 06), Stealth penalty 3/3, Limitations:
- Partial Coverage (Long Coat level).
- Damage Capacity only vs. Piercing and Slashing RAPs.
- Damage Capacity has the Full Recovery with Infrastructure Bonus.]
- Broadsword [BODY 04, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 06), Descriptor: Slashing, piercing].
- A good but not exceptional horse.
- Ser Aaron doesn’t usually have a helm, a shield, extra weapons, etc.. If expecting to go into battle he would presumably procure such, but they’re not part of his ambassadorial kit. Besides, his stuff must fit into his horse’s modest saddlebags. In time of war, he’d likely get plate mail instead of his travelling Fereldan lamellar. And mayhap a longsword.
Source of Character: Dragon Age: Knight Errant comic books miniseries.
Writeup completed on the 8th of December, 2017.