Nothing is known of Blackwall prior to his recruitment into the Grey Wardens from the city of Cumberland in 9:17 Dragon, but he is said to be one of the few who chose, of his own accord, to undergo the Joining. He is proud of the lives of isolation and valor those of his order lead. In that isolation, he counsels that you have become something more than yourself. He prefers the life of the Warden to any other.
Blackwall was a close friend of then Warden-Constable Alisse Fontaine and succeeded her in the position when she became Commander of the Grey in Orlais in 9:28. He was put in charge of Warden operations in northern Orlais and stationed in Val Chevin.
During the Fifth Blight in 9:30 Dragon, Blackwall was strongly opposed to Teyrn Loghain's decision to close the Fereldan borders, and exile of the Grey Wardens while the Fifth Blight raged. Shortly after the Blight, on a mission to secure all known Deep Roads entrances in Orlais, he was awarded the Silverite Wings of Valor for rescuing seven fellow Wardens when a tunnel collapsed. He managed to free himself of the rubble and navigated a crumbling darkspawn-infested cave system alone to reach and free his fellows.
Blackwall's duties also include recruiting new Wardens. His goal is to help others and act as a shield to his comrades, and this reflects his view of the Grey Wardens as an order of protectors.
In 9:36 Dragon, Warden-Constable Gordon Blackwall journeyed to Montsimmard to see Warden-Commander Fontaine and confer with her about who would succeed her when she went on her Calling. Blackwall sent a message north announcing his intention to return to Val Chevin, but recruited a man named Thom Rainier during his journey.
Thom Rainier originated from Markham in the Free Marches. It appears Rainier had a sister named Liddy, who is deceased now. He won the melee of the Grand Tourney in his youth, albeit with the crucial aid of a fellow competitor - a chevalier called Ser Geoffroy de Bordelon. The chevalier put aside his own ambition to help Rainer win the tournament, and even offered to mentor him, but Rainier refused him out of pride. Many years later, he came to regret that decision.
Thom quickly squandered his winnings from the tourney and took up mercenary work for two years. Eventually he enlisted in the Orlesian imperial army. For the next few years, Rainier campaigned in Perendale and the Dales. He learned strategy and honed his martial prowess. Despite his Marcher heritage, Rainier's skill and dedication allowed him to become a well-respected captain in the Orlesian army. An ally of Grand Duke Gaspard, Ser Robert Chapuis, ordered him to attack one of Empress Celene's allies, Lord Vincent Callier. His soldiers were simply told that they were on an important mission and not told that they were attacking an innocent civilian. The attack turned into a slaughter, as they massacred not only Callier but Callier's wife and children (who were accompanying Callier at the time). Despite not initially expecting the children in Callier's carriage, Thom knew they were present with enough time to call off the attack - and he chose not to do so. When word of the massacre got out, Gaspard disavowed their actions, Chapuis committed suicide and Rainier ran. His men were arrested and sentenced to traitors' deaths. Rainier once again took up mercenary work. In 9:36, Rainier was visiting a tavern near Churneau and saved the barmaid from rowdy village militia harassing her. This was what brought him to the attention of another tavern patron, Warden-Constable Blackwall.
Blackwall saw Rainier's potential and resolved to recruit him into the Grey Wardens. On their way to the Warden stronghold in Val Chevin, they stopped by a Deep Roads entrance on the Storm Coast and Blackwall sent Rainier to retrieve Darkspawn blood for his joining. They were ambushed and Blackwall sacrificed himself to protect Rainier from a fatal blow.Rainier was inspired by Blackwall's nobility and belief in the Warden's cause, but he had no proof that he had been recruited and feared the Wardens would think he had murdered Blackwall. So he assumed Blackwall's identity and used his status as a wandering Warden recruiter to try and do good in honor of the Warden's memory. He resurfaced as Blackwall in Ferelden in 9:41.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Should the Inquisitor choose to find Blackwall in the Hinterlands, they arrive to find Blackwall training a trio of conscripts to fight off bandits, who attack shortly after. After fending off the bandits, Blackwall sends the conscripts off and is questioned by the Inquisitor over the disappearance of Ferelden's Wardens. He admits that he knows nothing about other Wardens, as he has been on the road without contact, but refuses to stand idle if his order was involved in Divine Justinia V's death. Blackwall offers to join forces with the Inquisition.
Back at Skyhold following the events of Here Lies the Abyss and Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts, Blackwall will take the Inquisitor out for a drink at the Herald's Rest. As they drink, Blackwall solemnly tells the Inquisitor the tale of how as a boy, he ignored a bunch of urchins abusing a stray dog begging for food. He expresses his guilt about how he ignored the dog's suffering and allowed injustice to be done. He tells the Inquisitor that they could make the world better but people choose not to out of expedience. Blackwall then concludes "There's always some dog out there. Some fucking mongrel that doesn't know how to stay away." If the Inquisitor is in a romance with Blackwall, he does not bring up the story in this scene. Instead, The Inquisitor and Blackwall return to the barn and share a romantic encounter in the barn's loft. Later that night, the Inquisitor will wake up and discover Blackwall is gone.
When the Inquisitor returns to Skyhold following the previous scene, it is revealed that Blackwall has disappeared. An Inquisition messenger shows the Inquisitor a crumpled note, suggesting that Blackwall intends to attend the execution of a man called Mornay in Val Royeaux, accused of taking part in a massacre at the order of his captain, Thom Rainier. At the execution, as Mornay stands before the noose, Blackwall steps up to the platform, admitting to have given the order to Mornay, revealing his true identity as Thom Rainier and impersonation of Blackwall. He is arrested by the guards and brought to the Val Royeaux prison.
If the Inquisitor visits him in prison, they have a chance to question Rainier. He reveals his true past as a captain in the Orlesian army, his part in the massacre of the Calliers, the circumstances of the real Blackwall's death and his assumption of his identity. When he learned that Mornay had been captured, Rainier couldn't let him take the fall for his crime.
If the Inquisitor chooses to free Rainier, the latter is judged back at Skyhold. The Inquisitor has the decision of either setting him free, making him serve the Inquisition against his will or turning him over to the Wardens once Corypheus has been defeated. If forced to serve the Inquisition against his will, Rainier will be ordered by the Inquisitor to continue masquerading as Blackwall and as a Grey Warden in order to give the Inquisition a more advantageous facade - much to Rainier's disgust. If pardoned, Rainier decides to atone by dedicating his life to the Inquisition. If pardoned or sent to the Grey Wardens, Rainier will prefer to be called "Blackwall" since he has become accustomed to being called by the name and now thinks it more of a title that he should live up to.
If Blackwall's disapproval gets too high (assuming he's not forced to serve after Revelations), the next time the Inquisitor visits Blackwall in Skyhold, he will express disappointment in the Inquisition and the Inquisitor's choices. Blackwall will accuse the Inquisition of being a gang of thugs serving a self-serving tyrant and will leave the Inquisition. If in a romance with the Inquisitor, he's willing to wait to see if the Inquisitor will change but if she doesn't, he states he cannot allow her to lead him down this path and eventually breaks up with her as well as leaving.
Blackwall will greatly disapprove of banishing the Wardens at Adamant, but he will opt to stay with the Inquisition and will not leave so long as his approval remains at a respectable value.It is revealed in Blackwall's companion quest that he did not actually complete the Joining and is therefore not truly a Grey Warden. Should the Inquisitor choose to send Blackwall to the Wardens, however, it is implied that he will undergo the Joining.
Two years after Corypheus' defeat, the Inquisitor can meet Blackwall (who is now calling himself Thom Rainier again) before meeting the Exalted Council. He is found throwing knives at a target and after catching up with the Inquisitor, tells the Inquisitor that they have his support.If the Inquisitor sent Rainier to the Grey Wardens:
Rainier eventually survived his Joining and went on to become a Grey Warden stationed in the Vimmark Mountains. He reports to Warden Stoudenmire who is conducting an ongoing investigation of the Vimmark Prison. He is expected to return to the Wardens after the events of the Exalted Council. After the events of the Exalted Council, Rainier goes to Weisshaupt fortress to pledge himself to the Grey Wardens for good. In the years that followed, he was seen faithfully carrying out the duty of the Wardens and helping others along the way.If Rainier was pardoned by the Inquisitor:
Rainier spent his time tracking surviving members of his old company so he could apologize to them and help them rebuild their lives if he could. After the events of the Exalted Council, Rainier traveled across Thedas to give hope to the condemned and the forgotten. In the deepest pits and prisons in Thedas, he found the good in people. By showing faith in those who had none, Rainier lifted them up and made them better than they were.If Blackwall remained as a fake Grey Warden:
He will remain serving the Inquisition and pretend that he is a Grey Warden. He will be at the Winter Palace but a letter would reveal that the Grey Wardens at Weisshaupt have realized this deception and are requesting him to be released to the Grey Wardens.
Later dialogue at the Winter Palace reveals that Blackwall has undertaken his Joining however his name remains 'Blackwall' instead of 'Thom Rainier'.If Rainier's background was never discovered: If the Inquisitor never discovered Rainier's deception, he isn't present at the Winter Palace. Instead, a letter reveals that Rainier left the Inquisition six months after Corypheus' defeat and turned himself in for his crimes. His current whereabouts are unknown.
- Main article: Blackwall/Approval
Blackwall approves of helping and protecting others and Inquisitors who spur people to do the same. He is not fond of conscripting, exiling, or disbanding famed organizations dedicated to service. He also despises aiding self-serving power-hungry tyrants or those who punish for cruelty. He is fond of those who speak highly of the Grey Wardens and those who ally with them.
Approval gains from specific events and quests are usually low to moderate for Blackwall, though there are a couple of instances that will yield "Greatly Approves". These include:
Blackwall is a potential love interest for female Inquisitors of any race.
The Inquisitor can commit to his romance following the completion of his companion quest, Explanations. He arrives at her quarters at night claiming that, while he couldn't stay away, he will never be the person she deserves. He then asks the Inquisitor to end the relationship. If you choose not to, Blackwall remarks that they will end up regretting the decision, and the two share a passionate kiss. By choosing the option to end the relationship, the Inquisitor points out that the decision shouldn't all be left to her, to which Blackwall agrees, saying that "this was always [his] burden to bear." He walks out of the room, hoping that she will be able to forgive him one day.
Following the events at Halamshiral and Adamant, speaking to Blackwall leads to a scene at Herald's Rest. He reminisces about the time they found the Warden-Constable's badge during the events of Explanations, and admits that, with the Inquisitor standing by him, he felt like he could have achieved anything. At this point, the Inquisitor can choose to either remain in the tavern or go to a more private area. If she chooses the former, Blackwall credits the Inquisitor as being the one good thing in his life, and gives her the Warden-Constable's badge. When she looks back up from the badge, she finds him gone.
If the Inquisitor suggests going to a more private place, the scene transitions to the loft in the stables. They share a kiss and Blackwall hands her the Warden-Constable's badge, lamenting that there will be no future for them for as long as he remains a Warden, but eventually agreeing to cherish the moment they have at present. This leads to them making love and the scene fades out. Later, the Inquisitor wakes to find Blackwall gone and the badge left behind.
Following Blackwall's reveal as Thom Rainier, when the Inquisitor visits him in prison, he confesses that he had planned on telling her the truth during the events of Explanations, but "lost [his] nerve" at the last minute. He also admits that the Warden-Constable's badge belonged to the real Blackwall.
If the Inquisitor chooses to free Rainier during judgement, he approaches her throne and asks what is to become of them. She can then choose to end the relationship or continue it. With the latter, Blackwall confesses that he's unsure as to how to act as "Thom Rainier" with her, to which she can give various suggestions (depending on the dialogue option chosen). The two share a kiss and the scene ends.
During the Exalted Council, one night the Inquisitor wakes up in her bed to find Thom is gone again but Thom surprises her at her side chuckling to himself and assuring her that he isn't going anywhere. If Rainier was pardoned, the Inquisitor accompanies him as he travels across Thedas to give hope to the hopeless.If Rainier was made a Warden, he is summoned to Weisshaupt fortress by the Grey Wardens. After ignoring the request for nearly a year, he eventually left to do his duty, promising to return. However, his promise remained unfulfilled. After several years, the Inquisitor received only the Warden-Constable's badge and a single pure white griffon feather.
If neither Blackwall nor Josephine is romanced, banter between Blackwall and other companions suggests that he has feelings for Josephine.
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- Main article: Blackwall/Dialogue
- "Sometimes you have to figure out for yourself what the pledge to protect others really means. It's not always just about Archdemons and Blights."
- "You know I hate the aristocracy as much as you do. I hate that they sit in palaces sipping wine while people starve outside their gates. I hate that good soldiers die in senseless wars over who gets the fancy chair. Still, it's better to have the nobility on your side than not. They're dogs, all of them, and even the primped and powdered ones have teeth."
- "'You are who you choose to follow.' Someone told me that once. Took me years to understand what he meant."
- "You may have Andraste's favor. But wars are won by men. Soldiers."
- "One thing I will say about your men: they're passionate. Devoted. You inspire them. Build on that foundation, and you will have an army that makes nations tremble."
- (Why he joined the Grey Wardens) "Because they remember honor and sacrifice, words that have little meaning to the rest of us. Because they lay down their lives for those they have sworn to protect. We all need to believe there are such men in the world. I needed to believe I could be one of them."
- "We could make the world better. It's just easier to shut our eyes."
- "It's not right... to want to do good, to be good, and have that turned against you."
- (What can one Grey Warden do?) "Save the fucking world if pressed."
- (Addressing the Wardens at Adamant Fortress) "You don't know me, but you may have heard my name. Like you, I've given my life to the Grey Wardens. The first time I put on this armor, I felt like I belonged, like I was part of something honorable, something with a purpose. I know how good that feels. How safe. But fighting and dying here today won't stop the Blight. If you want to stop the Blight, kill that bastard up there. His master is the living embodiment of its corruption."
- Blackwall was written by Sheryl Chee.
- He is described as "The Resolve."
- He is described as "dedicated, almost mentor-like figure, but he's also a man alone; he's been on the road for a very long time, and it wears on him."
- According to Sheryl Chee, Blackwall likes dogs.
- Blackwall's greatest fear is himself.
- One of his hobbies seems to be woodworking, as he is sometimes seen making wooden objects, such as griffons in the stables.
- It is unknown how much of the information presented about Blackwall in Inquisition is true, as most of his time on-screen was spent under his false alias.
- Thom Rainer implies that he grew a beard to look more like Warden Blackwall.