Although it is possible to play through Dragon Age: Origins using only the character you create, the game allows a 'field party' containing the player Warden and up to three additional companions. Certain party members are not just important for combat; they have (or can develop) personal connections to your quests and may ask for your help with quests of their own. They also have distinct personalities and values - actions that please one witness may displease another. Gaining or losing the approval of companions will often have significant effects within the game. Rising approval ratings unlock new dialogues, quests, companion Attribute bonuses, and (for certain warden-companion pairs) the possibility of romance. And even if a disappointment by choice of word and deed, the Warden may make up for most shortfalls with gifts.
Only the ten full companions in Origins and the seven full companions in Awakening have approval ratings; temporary companions do not. The approval rating can be viewed on the bottom left of a character's record. The lowest possible rating is (-100), the highest is (+100), and everyone but Dog starts at 0.
When a party member’s approval falls, however, bonuses degrade and you risk abandonment or betrayal. If approval reaches critical ((-100)), the companion will try to leave the party. You will have a single chance to talk him/her out of it (a second such crisis will have no such opportunity). Alistair cannot be made to leave the party before the Landsmeet, however.
As your approval increases (or decreases), their feelings towards you will also change. Initially, they are at "Neutral" upon joining. As it changes, their greetings and dialogue will change slightly to reflect their relationship to you, depending on approval rating and whether or not you are in a romance.
|-99 - -26||Hostile|
|-25 - 25||Neutral|
|26 - 50||Warm|
|51 - 70||Care|
|71 - 75||Adore|
|76 - 90||Friendly|
|91 - 100||Love|
Regardless of the numerical value, romanced companions will not reach "Love" until their personal quests are completed. Neither will most non-romanced companions reach "Friendly" until their quests are also completed. Note that there are some exceptions: your dog will always be at 100 (Friendly) approval no matter what, and Secret Companion will never go above "Warm".
Approval and Attribute BonusesEdit
Characters who are confident in your leadership may also earn attribute bonuses to their primary attribute, ranging from "minor" through "moderate" and "major" to "massive", depending on approval rating as follows:
|Approval Rating||Bonus to Stat|
The attribute that is increased depends on the character, and is usually related to their role.
- Alistair gets a bonus to constitution.
- Leliana gets a bonus to cunning.
- Morrigan gets a bonus to magic.
- Oghren gets a bonus to constitution.
- Secret Companion gets a bonus to strength.
- Shale gets a bonus to strength.
- Sten gets a bonus to strength.
- Wynne gets a bonus to willpower.
- Zevran gets a bonus to dexterity.
Approval and Party MembersEdit
Dragon Age: Origins does not possess a "morality scale" akin to other popular RPG series like Mass Effect and Knights of the Old Republic, but the approval of your party members often reflects morality. Alistair, Leliana, and Wynne tend to approve of moral choices where the player goes out of their way to help others and spare the lives of innocents. Morrigan, Zevran and Shale tend to favour dark, brutal or ruthless options. Oghren and Sten in contrast can seem almost stoically neutral, but even these two have their own "weaknesses" when it comes to The Warden's behavior or appreciation...
Personal agendas and quirks also set the tone for a companion's approval changes. Some examples:
- Sten is a hard character to please. He is very blunt and direct, and will see many of The Warden's options as distractions and weaknesses, but he may show a gentler side. You can start off with (+6) if you inquire about his condition after being caged so long. If confronted by Sten about your plans regarding the Blight, the dialogue choice "I'm not here to impress you" will yield (+4). Upon reaching the Village of Haven, Sten may challenge the player to a fight; defeating Sten in this duel assures him you are a strong leader and will earn (+10).
- Shale's reactions to A Paragon of Her Kind are very significant; your choices while resolving that quest can earn (+23) or more when siding with Caridin, or cost as much as (-33) when siding with Branka. Also, modifying Shale's crystals will unlock a new dialogue; if The Warden comments that the crystals are "slimming" or "pretty", Shale will approve.
- Oghren favors the acquisition of battle-gear. If the PC accepts dwarven armor from Owen as a reward for finding his daughter, Oghren will approve. Conversely, he disapproves if The Warden acquires The Green Blade but then gives it to the untrained young woman and small boy who were to inherit it. Oghren is broadly in favor of conspicuous bravery, lechery and drunkenness. Calling Dwyn a coward earns approval, as does shouting "Death first!" when confronted by Ser Cauthrien and "partaking" at The Pearl. All but one of Oghren's favored gifts are alcoholic beverages... and the other is a drinking-vessel.
Approval/Disapproval Dialogues in OriginsEdit
The Warden and Companion DialoguesEdit
- Zevran Arainai/Approval
- Secret companion/Approval
- Brecilian Forest: Lost to the Curse
- Orzammar: The Chant in the Deeps
- The Urn of Sacred Ashes: Sten's 'critique'
Approval/Disapproval Dialogues in AwakeningEdit
The Warden and Companion DialoguesEdit
- Nathaniel Howe/Approval
- The Righteous Path
- Shadows of the Blackmarsh
- The Assault on Amaranthine
- The Siege of Vigil's Keep
- Depths of Depravity
- A Daughter Ransomed
- Brothers of Stone
- Trading Troubles
- Maferath's Monuments
- From the Living Wood
- Last Wishes
- Law and Order
- Moonshine for the Children
- The Sermons of Justinia II
- Those Sweet Orphans
- A Present for Melisse
- Making Amends
- A Donation of Injury Kits
- Out of Control
The Darkspawn Chronicles Edit
The DLC The Darkspawn Chronicles also features a similar approval system, although it is about respect rather than friendship. The exact deciding factors of whether approval is given in The Darkspawn Chronicles during fighting is unknown, it is only known that it is the finishing blow that, sometimes, yields approval points. There are also no dialogue options to increase approval, although there are gifts (which will always raise approval by 20+, no matter how many times applied).
There is also an achievement directly tied to gaining full approval from 'all types of thralls'.