Back to the Beginning

"Join us brothers and sisters. Join us in the shadows where we stand vigilant. Join us as we carry the duty that can not be forsworn. And should you perish, know that your sacrifice will not be forgotten. And that one day we shall join you."

Kiss from a Rose: a small character dedication to the loveable Alistair, one of the main characters and a potential love interest from BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins. Here there will be an abundance of unmarked spoilers, so if you have not completed DA:O or have yet to pursue a relationship with Alistair, romantically or otherwise, then this may not be the site for you.
One Page, One Month MarathonAmassmentWhitney

A quick background check

"Here I thought we were getting along so well! I was even going to name one of my children after you - the grumpy one!"

Where is he from?

Dragon Age: Origins is a RPG developed by BioWare for the PS3, X-Box 360, and PC, released on November 3rd, 2009. BioWare is known for games with extensive story lines (oftentimes several novels worth of text), well developed worlds, and the ability to create friendships and develop romantic relationships with characters in-game to add an extra element of realism to gameplay. DA:O in particular excels in this area, allowing the player to pursue either opposite or same sex relationships throughout the course of the game with four separate characters with differing back stories, emotions, personalities, and so forth.

And what exactly is this game about?

Fighting Darkspawn, sacrificing yourself to the Archdemon, Grey Wardens, lampposts, etc. Okay, no. Well, kinda. Essentially, the story of DA:O is your character is conscripted into the Grey Wardens after a series of horrible events that results in their leaving of what they know as home to fight in the "Blight." On your journey, you recruit people into your party - including Alistair - and go about killing Darkspawn and protecting the towns of Ferelden. The Blight is essentially a reoccuring war that divides the people, and only the Grey Wardens can put an end to the Blight.

I could spend all day describing the plot of DA:O, though, so I'll leave you with this link to the Wikipedia article, and allow you to read more about it there. (But definitely give it a try!)

Who is he and what does he do?

Alistair: Gray Warden by day, lamppost licker by evening. If you’re into that sort of thing, anyway. Ahem. Quite possibly the most popular romance option of DA:O (particularly with the ladies, though many men have fallen in love with him, too), Alistair is a man with qualities that many people look for in a mate: handsome, charming, sweet, has yet to experience love for the first time, and has a wicked sense of humor... though it tends to fall under the heading of, "sarcastic wit." He's the first character your Warden recruits into the party, and for most of the game there's no way to get rid of him (not that people generally want to).

And why does everyone love the big oaf?

I had watched my girlfriend play through DA:O for many, many hours (so many hours that I can't even tell you how many), and immediately decided that Alistair was my favorite (with Zevran as a very close second). He's the type of character that I tend to gravitate toward in video games, books, and movies, so it was really no surprise that Alistair endeared himself to me so quickly. I didn't play through DA:O myself until several months after I watched her play, but upon receiving a PS3 for a present I had to immediately run to GameStop and pick up my own copy of the game. You'd think that after watching someone else play for so long that I would feel satisfied with that, but it's amazing how you'll keep coming back for more. I don’t want to think about how many hours I’ve put into DA:O this year.

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Arriving at the good stuff

"You know, one good thing about the Blight is how it brings people together."

Growing up

There isn't much known about Alistair and his heritage. In the beginning of the game, you simply meet him as a fellow Grey Warden by Duncan's side - you don't learn much more about Alistair than that until you get to know him a little better. Eventually, you learn that Alistair didn't live with his biological family growing up, and was instead raised in a chantry where he trained to become a Templar (a Templar being those who hunt down illegal mages, and guard Mage Tower). Alistair never really seems all that keen to talk about his past, and so will dodge questions with quick wit, and by changing the subject to instead turn the limelight to the Warden.

Upon further exploration of his character, you learn that Alistair's mother (a serving girl) passed away giving birth to him, and he was separated from his sister Goldanna (who you later meet on Alistair's personal quest - she's not the most pleasant girl, unfortunately; a completely different personality from her brother). Nobody knew who Alistair's father was (except for Arl Eamon, Teyrn Loghain, and Alistair's father himself), and Arl Eamon saw to it that Alistair have the chance to grow up as any boy should.

The claim to fame

To quote Alistair, he is a "bastard," but there's more to it than that: Alistair is the illegitimate son of King Maric, Cailan's half brother, and therefore also a suitable heir to the throne. However, Alistair was born out of wedlock. (One of the spinoff DA:O novels suggests that Alistair's mother could perhaps be an elf Maric was in love with at the time, but there has been no evidence found in the game to support that theory.) Maric made the decision to keep Alistair's birth a secret from his wife, Queen Rowan, lest there be complications for when it became time for his son to take over the throne.

One of the major subplots of DA:O is that Ferelden was left without a proper ruler after King Cailan was killed in the attacks on Ostagar against the Darkspawn. His wife, Queen Anora (the daughter of Teyrn Loghain), had been filling in as ruler of the country, but there were other people who disagreed with her ruling. As rightful heir to the throne, Arl Eamon believed very strongly that Alistair should be the new king of Ferelden, but Alistair himself did not wish to be anything of the sort. He thought that Queen Anora was doing quite a wonderful job ruling by herself. If you play your cards right, you can convince him to become king, but for most of the game he's not exactly thrilled about it.

If made king, however, Alistair does make an incredibly competant leader... it just takes a lot of convincing, and potentially a lot of love and attention from the Warden.

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Two more lonely people

"Yes, that's right! Watch as I thrash our enemies with the mighty power of floral arrangements! Feel my thorns, darkspawn! I will overpower you with my rosy scent!"

Lampposts and winter, oh my

One thing that makes Alistair incredibly popular amongst many people who play the game is the ability to romance him (but only if you play a female - sorry, boys!), and the events that play out really are quite sweet. It doesn't take a whole lot to begin the romance with him, really; as long as you're nice, sympathetic, and careful to not hurt his delicate feelings, chances are it will bloom without you really realizing it. Of course, there are some very obvious tricks into it which include essentially telling him he's a sexy beast, but hey - love can happen no matter the route taken to get there.

You could call Alistair a "blushing virgin." Growing up in the chantry, he never really got to experience love or sex, and has never even seen anybody in a romantic light before. This conversation comes up naturally throughout the course of the game, and he makes a joke about how he's never licked a "lamppost" in the winter. (This is where some speculation comes in as to whether Alistair's sexual preference is specifically only to women, but it might just be that he's trying too hard at being candid that his innuendo, while hilarious, falls short.) He then proceeds to ask the Warden if they've ever licked a lamppost in winter. Tact - Alistair doesn't always have it.

Once you've got it going

Generally it's pretty easy to keep Alistair happy. Give him physical affection, don't push him into things he doesn't want to do, and stroke his ego every once in a while. It can be incredibly difficult to get him to further the physical relationship with your Warden, but you're particularly in the clear if it's his idea. He definitely values a strong emotional relationship before anything physical - even kissing him can be quite a chore if you don't know all the right buttons to press.

Once you do have an idea of what makes him tick, though, it gets much easier. You know you've done something right when he presents you with a rose (hence the name of this dedication). He finds it along your journey, and gives it to you with the proclamation that you're one of a kind - you're a beautiful being amongst the darkness, just like the fragile rose.

Endings aren't always happy

If you decide to put Alistair on the throne, there are three possible outcomes: In order to play the role of queen, you must have played a human noble - Cousland - female, and have hardened Alistair after he meets his sister for the first time. (In order to harden him, you need to tell him that he needs to learn that everyone is out for themselves; otherwise, you can comfort him, and leave the issue alone.) You make the decision to rule beside him during the Landsmeet, therefore taking the throne away from Queen Anora period. In my experience, this is an option that most, if not all, Cousland players choose if they've romanced Alistair - I mean, who wouldn't want to be queen if they could be?

I don't personally care for the second option if only because it'd be important for the relationship between Alistair and the Warden to remain a secret, and you would have no choice but to be in second place to both Anora and Alistair's duties as king. But, that leads me to the third option: you break up, and leave it at that. Alistair does assure the Warden that he loves her, however, and that it pains him to have to do it. But I suppose it'd be your own fault for putting him on the throne to begin with, considering he never really wanted it in the first place.

Happy endings are a must

If you don't go down the Cousland route, and don't sacrifice either yourself or Alistair to the Archdemon, then one of the possible endings is that you remain with Alistair even after the Blight has finished, and one day will retreat to the Deep Roads together to live out the rest of your lives together just like other Grey Wardens before you. This is personally my favorite option, though my first character was also a City Elf, so it was more favorable than the other two options I had available to me. (If I could've, Nessie totally would've been queen, though. Too bad she's an elf, and not of noble blood. Noble familes are so confusing.)

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All the surrounding people

"Yes, but she seems more... "Ooh, pretty colors!" than "Muahaha! I am Princess Stabbity! Stab, kill, kill!"

Warden

As DA:O allows for the player to decide his or her relationship with Alistair, this is a hard topic to breach. If you leave Alistair to his own devices, and don’t consistently put him down (though I’m not sure why you would – it’s like kicking a puppy), more likely than not you’ll develop a brotherly relationship if the warden is male, or quite possibly a romantic relationship if female and that choice is made. Whether the feelings are platonic or romantic, however, Alistair has a great deal of respect for the Warden, and is really the only person he has left other than his pseudo family in Denerim.

Duncan

Duncan is Alistair's mentor, and the one who first recruited him into the Grey Wardens. That said, Duncan fills the father role for Alistair more than his own father or Arl Eamon ever could have. Alistair spends much of the first half of the game incredibly depressed about Duncan's passing - he will start a conversation with the Warden at various points, lementing that he doesn't know how to deal with the death of someone he cared about deeply, wants something of Duncan's to be able to remember him by, but then I also think there's a part of Alistair that wants to make Duncan proud of all he's accomplished.

Morrigan

Alistair’s relationship with Morrigan is interesting. At the beginning of the game when Flemeth, Morrigan's mother, announces that Morrigan will be joining the Warden and Alistair, Alistair (understandably so) throws a fit. He feels that it's foolish to bring along an apostate on the journey, and that there was no redeeming quality of Morrigan – she’s nothing more than a "sneaky witch thief," and as a result, cannot be trusted.

Throughout the course of the game, however, Alistair and Morrigan develop an understanding of one another. It isn’t by any means a friendship, but almost a form of respect for the other that makes itself apparent when Morrigan approaches the Warden toward the end of the game with a ritual that would prevent the death of the Warden while fighting the Archdemon. One can assume by Morrigan’s tone and insistence that she neither wants the Warden, nor Alistair, to be sacrificed for the sake of Ferelden. Of course, seeing as the ritual consists of Morrigan possibly sleeping with Alistair, it can also be argued that she can at least find him attractive – or at the very least, non repulsive. But I suppose we'll never know for sure.

Wynne

The relationship between Wynne and Alistair always yields interesting results. He tends to think of her as a grandmother figure - the type of grandmother who would mend holes in your socks, and knit you warm sweaters. They banter back and forth, generally with Wynne persuading Alistair that she is not quite as old as he may think she is... and her ample bosom could be enough to tell you otherwise (according to Zevran, in any case). Nevertheless, both Alistair and Wynne get along really quite well, and she plays an important role in the party.

If you're involved romantically with Alistair, Wynne comes to the Warden with concerns that them being in a relationship would only end poorly for both parties involved, and you have the option to essentially tell her to shove it - Alistair and the Warden are more than capable of managing the Blight and their relationship. Wynne does later come to apologize, saying that she was perhaps too hard on the lovebirds, but luckily Alistair is never really made aware of what she says.

Goldanna

The Warden and Alistair meet Goldanna after Alistair says that he learned of his sister's whereabouts in Denerim, and want to properly meet the family he never has. Unfortunately, Goldanna does not take well to Alistair at all, stating that while she knew that the baby had been just fine, as far as she wished to adhere to, she did not have a brother; he was, after all, the reason why Goldanna had been left to fend for herself after their mother's passing. Alistair does feel indebted to Goldanna, and makes a promise that he will provide for her family as best as he knows how, but no one ever really knows if he ends up following through on that promise.

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But all things must come to an end

"What? Lead? Me? No, no, no. No leading. Bad things happen when I lead. We get lost, people die, and the next thing you know I'm stranded somewhere without any pants."

Kiss from a Rose was created for the One Page, One Month marathon at Amassment. Alistair is one of my favorite characters from DA:O, and while I waffled between what character to shrine in particular, Alistair kept popping into my mind. It probably doesn't help that I've barely been able to take the DA:O disc out of the PS3 for months.

Linkage

If you would like to link back to Kiss from a Rose, I would greatly appreciate it! Please feel free to either use a text link (love-monkey.net/alistair), or use the button below. Just please, upload it to your own server!

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Link Out

There aren't many links dedicated to DA:O on the internet (in particular this being the first Alistair-related shrine!), but here are a few links for you to check out if you're interested in giving the game a shot. I wholly encourage it!
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