Katriel primarily features in a Dragon Age prequel novel – The Stolen Throne.
This profile has many S P O I L E R S about it.
Now, this articles has prerequisites :
- If you have no familiarity with the world of Dragon Age, you’ll want to hit our primer to Thedas first.
- Reading the Leliana character profile will provide the basics about the kingdom of Orlais and the bards. Both are important for this profile.
- Reading the section about Ferelden in Alistair’s character profile will provide you with useful context and a sense of place.
- This entry is meant to be read after the Maric Theirin character profile, to avoid repeating information.
- Real Name: Katriel.
- Known Relatives: None.
- Group Affiliation: None.
- Base of Operations: Mobile.
- Height: 5’3″ (1.60m). Weight: 105 lbs. (47 Kg.).
- Eyes: Extremely green. Hair: Golden honey.
Powers & Abilities
The full range of Katriel’s skills wasn’t demonstrated. Here’s what could be observed :
- She seems well-educated, and can be eloquent if she wants.
- Being a bard, she’s a proficient actress and infiltrator (infiltratrix ?).
- She demonstrated surprising skill as an equestrienne.
- Katriel had common low-tech household skills. Such as sewing and darning, skinning small game, basic cooking, etc..
- She seems to have a fine sense of hearing.
- It also seems likely that she’s adept at forging documents, at stealth, and at intelligence gathering. This is more implied than demonstrated, but it would be odd if she couldn’t do that. Especially when keeping the skills set of, say, Marjolaine in mind.
As a double agent, Katriel took control of most aspects of the Fereldan rebellion’s strategy, subtly leading them by the nose. So that was seriously good espionage work.
Katriel is exceptionally attractive. Since having sex with an Elf woman is a common fantasy among Human men, she finds her stunning beauty a major asset in her bardic work.
Yet if she dials that down and passes herself for a servant, most Humans will ignore her as being too menial to talk to.
Her bardic skills with poisons seemed robust, though she didn’t routinely poison her blades. It is unclear whether she brewed her own toxins, but I’d guess not.
Her most sophisticated compound was a powder that induced severe confusion. This is a great weapon against mages, as it prevents spellcasting.
It could be mixed with a powder that had the effects of tear gas, or with an oil allowing it to act through the skin rather than as an airborne agent.
Lessons from history
It seems that her minstrel skills aren’t about conventional entertainment. Rather, Katriel apparently acts as a combination storyteller and history teacher. She seems to have genuine academic qualifications about the history of Thedas.
For instance, Katriel knew of the history of Gwaren, how it had been built over a Dwarven outpost, and how to find entrances to the Deep Roads (these are marked by distinctive stone columns). This is beyond what even a well-educated Human noble would know.
She could even read Dwarven runes, and understood the role of Paragons.
It is possible that she specialises in Dwarven history. But it is also possible that she didn’t have the occasion to demonstrate other areas of historical expertise.
Katriel also know some basics about magic theory. For instance, to be wary of corpses in areas where the Veil seems thinner. Furthermore, she could recognise dragonbone at a glance, despite the material’s rarity.
(This is reminiscent of bards in old-school D&D. These could roll to determine if they knew about legends and lore.)
Katriel usually has a dagger secreted on her person. It is small, but the blade is razor-sharp and will slit a throat just as well as a larger one. Katriel wields it with rare speed and accuracy.
Thus, her usual approach will be a surprise strike to a vulnerable point, then let her opponent promptly bleed to death.
If expecting combat, she’ll pack a long dagger as well. She’ll strike viciously with it, also going for blood loss.
Her field pack includes a surprising amount of first aid supplies (there’s even wormroot to counter poison). It seems to double as a go-bag.
Soundtrack for this profile
She’s from Orlais and she was murdered by her lover, so…
Katriel is an Orlesian Elf, and a bard. By the late Blessed Age she worked through an agent in Val Chevans, who sold her services far and wide.
Circa 8:98, Katriel was hired by one Severan. A member of the Orlesian Circle of Magi, he had been detached to serve King Meghren, who ruled Ferelden.
Severan despised Meghren and wanted to leave Ferelden. He hoped that crushing the rebellion would allow him to return to the Circle in Orlais, as Meghren would no longer need a mage.
Elf needs food
Moira the Rebel Queen had died two years before. But her son Maric had narrowly survived. Severan rightly considered that capturing him would cripple the rebellion, and hired Katriel. It seems that, back then, Fereldans knew little about the deadly Orlesian bards.
The rebel forces had grown large enough for Katriel to quickly find. However, capturing the Rebel Prince was a complex job. Thus, Katriel worked for a year on infiltrating the rebel forces and building up her cover and access.
She eventually seduced a guardsman into introducing her to Byron, the Arl of Amaranthine, as a trusted contact. She then eliminated the guard as a loose end.
Katriel soon became a spy and courier for the rebel Arl.
When the rebels decided to attack Gwaren in 8:99, the Arl and his troops acted as a diversionary force. They raided parts of Ferelden far from Gwaren. This created an invaluable opportunity for Katriel.
(It is likely that the very decision to take Gwaren was the result of manipulation by Katriel, with Severan’s support. However, this isn’t clearly stated in the novel. But if this interpretation is correct, it means that Katriel’s manipulations determined *every* major move the insurgency made from then on.)
She provided intel for Severan to set up a massive ambush with chevaliers. Arl Byron’s entire forces were thus trapped and eliminated, depriving the rebels of a good chunk of their numbers.
Katriel rode away from the battle, carrying a mix of actual and forged letters from Arl Byron. The letters, and the further information she provided, were tailored to lure the rebels into a trap at the West Hill fortress.
With the Arl of Amaranthine dead, there was nobody to contradict her cover.
She rode right into Gwaren, which the rebels had taken about an hour before. However, she was assaulted by three brutes looking to rape her. Prince Maric and Lady Rowan Guerrin responded to her cries and slew the aggressors.
Knowing that Katriel was in, the pro-Orlesian forces didn’t really attempt to retake Gwaren. Such a battle would be costly, and the bard could engineer a much more favourable situation.
Now within target range
Katriel and her fake reports convinced the rebels that attacking West Hill was a golden opportunity.
The fortress itself held little interest, but this was where the pay for Orlesian chevaliers for an entire year would be held. This meant both a vast sum to steal, and severely weakening King Meghren’s military.
Katriel had also prepared plans to infiltrate the fortress and activate allies within. This had supposedly been part of her work for Arl Byron. Inside allies made the entire operation possible, though the rebels needed to commit the majority of their forces – and attack by sea.
The bard also seduced Maric. They started a low-key relationship, heightening Maric’s trust in her.
Katriel even ended up being an argument to rally nobles to the rebels. Loghain pointed at her as an example of how even “lowly Fereldan Elves” would risk their lives for their King while so many Human banns did nothing.
A contract is a contract
The operation was going brilliantly. However, King Meghren changed his mind under pressure from the Fereldan Chantry. The new orders were to kill Maric.
Severan considered this absurd. Especially since Katriel could have killed Maric *months* before, as part of a much simpler plan. But he had to obey.
Meanwhile, Katriel was working on the West Hill honey trap. She infiltrated the fortress as a washerwoman, then eliminated the actual rebel agents and sympathisers therein.
The only complication was that Maric had been convinced at the last moment not to take part in the assault, to protect the Theirin lineage.
This is when Katriel was informed that the orders had changed. She was incensed. In her view, her employer had broken her contract.
When the overconfident Severan agent who had brought the news attempted to kill the Elf, she slaughtered him.
With her bardic contract voided, Katriel more or less switched sides out of affection for Maric and his rebellion. Theirin had escaped the West Hill trap by the thinnest of margins, but the ambush did destroy the better part of the rebel army.
Katriel rode out, heard that Maric had escaped, and quickly found his pursuers. She came in in the nick of time. Her surprise horse charge saved Maric, Rowan and Loghain. Her medical supplies were also invaluable.
A break for it
Once the scale of the West Hill disaster was clear, the Elf helped the three survivors flee. And it was her knowledge of Dwarven history and runes that allowed the party to enter the Deep Roads and return to Gwaren.
In the Deep Roads, Maric discovered that his betrothed Rowan loved him. Katriel thus sensibly wanted to end their relationship.
But Maric would have none of that. Even though she tried to tell him the truth, Maric threw himself in their relationship and professed unconditional love.
(Maric doubling down was even more unworkable, since Rowan as a Queen was a political necessity. Furthermore, a relationship with an Elf was a political impossibility if Maric became King of Ferelden.)
Pray that I do not alter it further
Once the rebels retook Gwaren, Katriel sneaked away, rode hard to Denerim, and met with Severan. She formally announced that their contract had been broken by the change of orders at West Hill.
Severan attempted to slay her. But she had already dosed him with a contact poison preventing spellcasting. However, Katriel’s professionalism meant that she wouldn’t murder a former employer.
After she left, the furious Severan put a large bounty on her head.
Furthermore, Loghain and Rowan’s operatives had shadowed her to Denerim. The experienced Katriel realised this.
Yet, she wearily chose to let events follow their course. By this point, how it would end was obvious.
This led to a confrontation with Maric, as Loghain was now certain that Katriel was a spy.
Loghain presented the situation in a biased manner. For instance, he did not mention that Severan had put a contract on the bard.
Katriel readily admitted the truth. She pointed out that she had tried several times to explain that she wasn’t what she seemed. She also refused to run, though she knew that she would be eliminated.
Torn between his love for her and the horrified realisation she was behind the West Hill carnage, Maric had an emotional breakdown. As he drew his sword to avenge the deads of West Hills, Katriel did not resist. She walked toward him to touch his face one last time.
Her last words as Maric ran her through were to assure him that she loved him.
Vengeance from beyond the grave
Maric never recovered from his decision to kill Katriel.
It also sundered years of friendship between him, Loghain and Rowan. Both Maric and Rowan resented Loghain for having partially manipulated Maric, and Rowan now had little choice but to become the Queen.
Katriel also left a letter and supplies for Maric. It explained that her last wish was for the rebel prince to kill Severan, and how to do so.
Maric grimly complied. His unexpected use of one of Katriel’s paralysing poison is what won the fight. Maric then slew Severan, partially avenging the Orlesian bard.
Til I wake your ghost
Eight years later, in 9:10, Maric had a vision of Katriel in the Fade.
The king of Ferelden and his Grey Warden allies had been trapped in the Fade by a Desire Demon. The creature trapped them in dreams of their greatest desires.
Maric’s dream was a different timeline. In this alternate history he hadn’t slain Katriel, Rowan had married Loghain, and Maric had abdicated in Loghain’s favour (somehow). Maric and Katriel were now happily married.
Normally, “Katriel” should have been an illusory dream construct. But she went completely off-script.
- The bard accompanied and advised Maric in the Fade.
- She helped him break his companions out of their dream traps.
- She also tried to convince Maric to let go of his guilt about her, with a small measure of success.
- She vaguely implied that Maric’s crushing guilt was also trapping her.
Some possibilities about what “Katriel” was :
- The actual Katriel’s “soul”, making her a Fade ghost. If such a thing truly exists.
- Some sort of spiritual fragment of the actual Katriel, perhaps created by the circumstances of her death.
- An outside agent passing themselves as Katriel to covertly help Maric. Such as Flemmeth. Dang witches.
- An unknown benevolent Fade spirit, taking Katriel’s form out of attraction toward Maric’s dream.
- An illusion created by Maric, but having knowledge he didn’t possess. Which *might* be possible given his abnormal lineage.
Katriel has eyes of a green too vivid to be found in Humans, and pale porcelain skin.
She usually sports long hair and a flattering leather armour. The latter is easy, since she has a surprising amount of cleavage for her slim build.
When seducing someone, Katriel will use high-end Orlesian perfume. A touch of it make her smell like a rare flower. This worked particularly well against Maric, who wasn’t used to such refined scents.
The illustration for this article is an original (using the Dragon Age: Inquisition character generator) model, since there isn’t usable official art of Katriel.
Katriel is a professional, highly disciplined killer.
Like many bards she puts emphasis on abiding by the *exact*, written terms of her contract. Otherwise, dealing with over-entitled nobles and over-negotiating merchants is unworkable.
As an insider of the Great Orlesian Game, Katriel found the more rustic Ferelden refreshing and relaxing. The people there were more frank, less subtle.
Against her better judgement, she even grew attached to Maric. He was sincere, eager and charismatic – very much unlike the nobles she was used to.
Though she delivered a spotless job, Katriel was burnt out of the Game without quite realising it. As a bard, she was knee-deep in the worst that her country had to offer – and making it worse still. She wasn’t fully aware of it yet, but she was yearning for a way out.
Another thing that burnt her out was racism. Even when people aren’t acting prejudiced, Katriel being an Elf means that the power dynamics *cannot* be healthy.
She is particularly interested in History, especially ancient Dwarven history. If she gets a chance to study ruins, she’ll take it.
Katriel was trained not to empathise with anyone, and to keep a lid on her emotions. Though it was necessary in her line of work and to maintain professionalism, she wasn’t a fan of that.
Oh to be in love
Though their relationship started under false pretences and as Maric was gravely wounded, she genuinely liked being with him.
She was willing to take enormous risks and significant pain to support him. She admired his sincerity, and he was the one person whose efforts not to act racist she took at face value.
Katriel also liked the heroic aspects of Maric. How he was reminiscent of legends (though of course these were just tales), and how he could make it possible for her to have a better, less murderous life.
But of course, the situation was untenable. It could only end badly. Katriel seemingly decided to enjoy it as long as it lasted, then die. It was the simplest way out, and the bard was by then too tired to move on.
At least in this way she would know happiness for once in her life, and have a romantic death.
This likely was the root of her loving and non-confrontational behaviour, which was key to winning Maric over. By this point, Katriel just wanted emotional solace and a sense of belonging and normality. Which was pretty much how Maric felt as well.
(Accepting a contract) “It seems you have a bard at your disposal, my lord.”
“I am not Severan’s servant. I was brought here at great expense to perform a specific task. Once that task is done, he and I are through.”
“A bard must know history so she does not repeats it. She tells the tales, but is never a part of them. She watches, but remains above what she sees. She inspires passions in others, but rules her own.”
“I know many things, my lady. History is full of lessons to be learned if one cares to listen.”
“Why do you defend me ? You know nothing about me. Yet you keep defending me against your friends, your countrymen… You need to stop. You need to stop defending me. Please.”
(Looking at ruins) “These could be the slums. All the thaigs were supposed to have them, areas where the casteless lived.”
DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: 04||Str: 02||Bod: 03|
|Int: 05||Wil: 05||Min: 05|
|Inf: 04||Aur: 05||Spi: 04|
|Init: 015||HP: 015|
Extended hearing: 01, Ultra-vision: 02
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Both Powers are Form Function.
- Ultra-vision only to compensate for low light.
Animal handling (Horses): 05, Artist (Actress): 05, Charisma (Interrogation, persuasion): 05, Detective (Legwork): 04, Martial artist (EV): 04, Medicine (First aid): 04, Medicine (Medical treatment): 03, Military science (Danger rec): 03, Occultist (Occult lore): 02, Thief (Forgery, Stealth): 05, Weaponry (Small melee weapons): 05
Bonuses and Limitations:
Martial Artist only when wielding a highly-sharpened small blade.
Attractive, Expertise (History of Thedas, Poisons), Familiarity (General education, Low-tech everyday crafts), Language (Orlesian, and reading some Dwarven characters), Schtick (Fast draw (dagger)).
Likely some Connections in Orlais, but these are unusable in Ferelden.
Attack Vulnerability (-1 CS RV vs. Character Interaction w/Maric).
- LEATHER ARMOUR [BODY 03, Blunting: 01, Damage capacity: 02, Enhance (Cold RV): 01 (cap is 05), Enhance (Piercing, Slashing, Bludgeoning RV): 01 (cap is 05), Bonuses & Limitations: Damage Capacity has the Full Recovery Bonus, Partial Coverage (Jacket).]
- Dagger [BODY 05, Enhance (EV): 01 (Cap is 06), Descriptor: Piercing, Slashing].
- Ample medical supplies and other emergency supplies.
- One of her powders was very much like being sprayed with mace. It likely used pepper extracts. [Chemical attack (0 APs Range): 04, Grenade Drawback].
- The concentration-wrecking poison can be modelled as [Chemical attack (Touch): 05, Ammo: 01].
During her mission in Ferelden, Katriel effectively has Medium Credentials with the occupier.
As an Elf, she should have a Misc. Drawback about social stigma from racism. However, Katriel was adept at using this stigma to her advantage, so in game terms it’s a wash.
Source of Character: Dragon Age material.
Writeup completed on the 13th of July, 2018.