The game establishes very quickly that all the different wardens are talented enough that Duncan is amazed by every one of them. But the biggest question you’ve all been surely asking yourselves over the years is, naturally, which one would be the naturally strongest. From a gameplay perspective it’s very simple: the mage. Magic is so broken in this game that it’s ridiculous. But from a lore and story perspective? I would go with the Dwarven Commoner.
Now before you gather around and light your fancy torches and pitchforks on fire, hear me out. The reason I think the Dwarven Commoner is because he displays the most raw talent out of all the origins. He manages, without any formal training whatsoever, to defeat the entire warrior caste in a proving. This is major, as all of the warriors he goes against are seasoned veterans of Darkspawn campaigns. The only exception of this is Everd (the guy you’re actually sabotaging the proving for), who’s got only one campaign under his belt. The very fact that a dwarven casteless is capable of wiping the floor with them stuns even Duncan in quiet contemplation and the moment he sees your prowess he immediately wants to recruit you. He tries to defend you from the Proving Master and tells you, after you endure a second quest slaughtering a criminal warlord and the majority of his personal guard, that he thinks you’d be unstoppable against the Darkspawn after some Grey Warden training. Sadly this is never expanded upon.
Of course the question remains of whether or not a Mage warden could defeat a Dwarven warden. From a story perspective we are constantly told that dwarves are immune to magic. We even get some funny banter between Morrigan and Oghren, where the former threatens to kick the latter in the balls after our lovely drunk dwarf brags that her magic can’t harm him. Hell, Morrigan says so herself when she first talks to a Dwarven warden. This, combined with the fact that we don’t actually see any cutscenes where a mage overpowers a dwarf with magic (except for the red lyrium), indicates to me that this information has at least some basis to go on.
Now let’s take a look at the other non-magic origins and compare them to Dwarven Commoner. I would say that the City Elf is the third best after the mage, because he/she too possesses a ton of raw talent and slaughters a lot of people to save the female elves from the whiny brat Vaughan. But there are two reasons why I don’t think he’s as strong. The first is that the origin establishes that he received some training from his mother Adaia. We don’t actually know how long the mother has trained her child, as we don’t know if she actually returns to her hubby and kid after Leliana’s Song, but the training is prominent enough for Cyrion to tell his child that he’s the best option to rescue the city elves from our most popular human noble. The second reason is simply: the castle he infiltrates is empty while arl Urien (our most popular dad) is off to Ostagar to deal with the blight. And we don’t actually know how well-trained the remaining soldiers are. Some of them don’t wear armour. Some are sleeping, some get poisoned,… It’s clearly shown the dwarven veterans wear armour and have experience fighting. So I would place the Commoner over the City Elf, but it could be a close third after the mage.
The third strongest would be the Dalish Elf, but I don’t feel he/she is as strong. There aren’t a lot of enemies and the Dalish Elf has received training and good equipment from the clan. It is stated however that the stoic wanderer has a remarkable willpower, capable of surviving from the Darkspawn taint to the point even Duncan is surprised, but he doesn’t perform the same awe-inspiring feats the previous three wardens do.
And finally, I would place the Dwarven and Human nobles on the last ranks. They are the ones who’ve lived their lives in wealth and have received formal educations and training. They know history (kinda), they have been training swordsplay (mostly SnS) and they have been trained to rule. But that also means that the majority of their strength that causes Duncan to recruit them is based on tempered skill, not raw talent. They might be capable of defeating a Dwarven Commoner in a fight, but I also feel their potential peak is lower and that they might have reached it already. The Commoner can grow so much more.
I would place the dwarf over the human, because of the aforementioned immunity to magic, but also because of the fact that he can survive long enough in the Deeproads, with either a poor dagger or decent sword, to find Duncan and the others. Hell, it’s even plausible that he can slaughter his way to the surface, since the roads are vacant with Darkspawn and that he could be one of the few origin people to survive their origin story, next to the Mage Warden siding with Irving. In Comparison to that the Human Noble DOES slaughter his way to his father, but he’s assisted by his mabari hound, mother and any knight that manages to survive. It lessens his feat a bit.
So if I were to make a final list it would be this:
- Dwarven Commoner
- Mage Warden
- City Elf
- Dalish Elf
- Dwarven Noble
- Human Noble
Of course, keep in mind that my argument revolves around the raw talent of the recruit, not the training. It’s perfectly feasible that a Human Noble would kill the Dwarven Commoner in single combat at the start of their origins due to his experience and trained skill, but even that we don’t really know. After all, the casteless hated dwarf managed to defeat other finely trained warriors…
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Copyright: The images used in this article are screenshots taken from the Dragon Age game series. We are allowed to use them under section 107 of the US Copyright Act of 1976. The game series belong to its David Gaider, Bioware and EA games.