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Denerim: the largest city and capital of Ferelden. Long ago, the elves lived as slaves to humans, and though they’ve been free for many generations now, they are far from equals. Here they live in walled-off community known as the Alienage working as servants and laborers when they can. Despite these hardships, Denerim’s elves are a strong people who take pride in their close community. This is the only world you’ve ever known… until now.

The City Elf Origin is one of six playable origins available in Dragon Age: Origins. As a City Elf, this character is one of the poorest of Ferelden's citizens.


They planted a tree in the middle of the alienage long ago. Today it stands tall, healthy, and green—in sharp contrast to the city around it. For we are the poorest of the poor, the unwanted and the unwelcome huddled on the other side of the wall that separates us from the human part of the city. We are allowed to pass the wall to work on the docks or in the human's taverns and in their homes, but when the dusk comes we must return. Any elf caught outside the alienage at night is likely to be mistaken for a sneak thief or a pickpocket… and let us be honest, the ones that stay out there at night probably are.

Our elder tells us that the tree is called the vhenadahl, which in the ancient elven tongue means "tree of the people." Its roots are deep and the elder says that as long as the vhenadahl lives, so shall we. But he also says that there was once a time when our people lived in our own lands. He says that we were once ageless and strong, that it was the humans who took all this from us.

Is it true? Have we fallen so far? We are not unhappy. As poor as we are, we have a home. The alienage is no prison—it protects us, just as the vhenadahl shelters us. We dance and sing and make merry, stealing what moments we can to enjoy what little we have… and I believe we appreciate it far more than the humans do. They have everything and appreciate nothing.

And perhaps the day will come when the humans come and try to take the alienage from us, too. If that day comes, I swear they shall regret it.


The Denerim Alienage

Quest A Day for Celebration

It is the wedding day for both the City Elf and their cousin, Soris. While exploring the Alienage, a local lord named Vaughan and some acquaintances arrive and are abusive towards the women. Shianni, the City Elf's other cousin, knocks him unconscious, at which point his friends carry him away. Shortly afterwards, Duncan arrives, revealing that he is searching for new Grey Wardens, and also that he knew the City Elf's mother whom he had attempted to recruit years ago. The City Elf eventually joins the wedding ceremony, but before it can be completed, Vaughan returns with armed guards and abducts all the women, including the City Elf if she is female. If the City Elf is male he goes on a rescue mission with Soris, if she is female she awakens in a room with three other elves including Soris's betrothed and Shianni.

There are various differences in the story between male and female players; for example, a male City Elf will have to fight his way into the castle with Soris, while a female City Elf will fight her way out. Eventually Soris and the Warden will find their way into the room with Vaughan and his friends, with Shianni on the floor. Vaughan attempts to buy his way out of the situation by promising 40 sovereigns if the City Elf leaves without the women. The City Elf can take the offer; however, the share of the money will be confiscated by the city guards, unless it is decided that the money be stashed outside the estate; the stash can be collected much later in the story. If the City Elf refuses his offer, Vaughan and his friends will fight.


"Conscripted" achievement trophy

After returning home, the city guards arrive attempting to find the person responsible for the attack. The City Elf can remain silent or take full responsibility, or tell the guard that both you and Soris were responsible. If the Warden chooses to remain silent the entire time, Elva will approach the guards and accuse both you and Soris. Before the City Elf is arrested, Duncan steps in and conscripts the City Elf into the Grey Wardens, who leaves with him for Ostagar. If it has not been unlocked in a previous playthrough, on arrival in Ostagar the Conscripted achievement will be awarded.


Nola (left), Shianni (center) and Elf Bridesmaid #1 (right) in the foreground. Vaughan, Jonaley, and Braden at the back.



Initial statistics[]

Cg ico origin elf city.png

In addition to those selected by the player at character creation, a City Elf Warden automatically begins with the following:


Coercion Coercion and either Combat Training Combat Training (Warrior) or Poison-Making Poison-Making (Rogue)


Warrior Dual-Weapon Sweep Dual-Weapon Sweep
Rogue Dirty Fighting Dirty Fighting


Clothing Clothing Clothing


Plot Items:

Brandy Brandy

Rat Poison Rat Poison

Cleanser Cleanser

Elven Alienage:

Adaia's Boots Adaia's Boots

Borrowed Longsword Borrowed Longsword (male City Elf, from Duncan)

Wedding Clothes Wedding Clothes

Arl of Denerim's Estate:

Bloodstained Shield Bloodstained Shield

Borrowed Longsword Borrowed Longsword (female City Elf, from Soris)

Chainmail armor set Chainmail armor set

Denerim Guard Shield Denerim Guard Shield

Fencer's Cinch Fencer's Cinch

Heirloom Necklace Heirloom Necklace

Leather armor set Leather armor set

Wedding Ring Wedding Ring (female City Elf only)


Codex entry: Alienage Culture Codex entry: Alienage Culture (obtained after speaking with Shianni)

Codex entry: The City Elves Codex entry: The City Elves (obtained after speaking with Cyrion)

Codex entry: Vhenadahl: The Tree of the People Codex entry: Vhenadahl: The Tree of the People (check sign by the tree)

Codex entry: Culture of Ferelden Codex entry: Culture of Ferelden (stack of books in Alarith's shop)

Codex entry: The Dalish Elves Codex entry: The Dalish Elves (asking Soris about the Dalish Elves, or speaking to Taeodor with Soris)

Codex entry: Duncan Codex entry: Duncan (after talking to Duncan & Valendrian)

Codex entry: The Grey Wardens Codex entry: The Grey Wardens (after talking to Duncan & Valendrian)

Codex entry: Darkspawn Codex entry: Darkspawn (after talking to Duncan & Valendrian)

Codex entry: The Chant of Light: The Blight Codex entry: The Chant of Light: The Blight (after talking to Duncan & Valendrian)

Codex entry: Valendrian Codex entry: Valendrian (after talking to Duncan & Valendrian)

Codex entry: The Commandments of the Maker Codex entry: The Commandments of the Maker (after the wedding)

Codex entry: History of Ferelden: Chapter 1 Codex entry: History of Ferelden: Chapter 1 (stack of books in the Arl of Denerim's Estate)

Codex entry: History of Ferelden: Chapter 2 Codex entry: History of Ferelden: Chapter 2 (bookshelf in the Arl of Denerim's Estate)


  • Playing as a City Elf Warden will slightly alter the Unrest in the Alienage quest, as Cyrion will be held captive by Caladrius at the time instead of Valendrian, who was already taken to the ship. Cyrion will give Fang to a City Elf Warden after rescuing him (provided you did not accept Vaughan's bribe), instead of the Gift of the Grey dagger that Valendrian rewards other wardens. Furthermore, the responses of all the Alienage characters towards your Warden will be very different if you took Vaughan's offer in the Origin.
  • Through conversation with Duncan, it is revealed that Duncan suspects that Valendrian deliberately scheduled the wedding to prevent his recruiting the City Elf Warden. Further conversation with Valendrian right after the mission start confirms that.
  • The male version of this origin is by far the most rewarding xp-wise, if one decides to be a completist. Male City Elf rogue with Deft Hands Deft Hands picked at level 2 to disarm two traps outside the entrance to Arl of Denerim's Estate, The High Regard of House Dace The High Regard of House Dace, and Memory Band Memory Band was able to reach level 7 (50 xp into level 8, in fact) at Flemeth's Hut.
  • The female version of this origin can be completed in four and a half minutes on Nightmare difficulty (probably less, if optimized), as demonstrated here.


  • The City Elf and Dwarf Commoner stand alone as the only origins where the Warden has a parent who survives through the events of the entire game.
    • Interestingly enough, these are both origins that take place in an impoverished slum section of a major city, as well as the player character being a persecuted non-citizen.
  • The City Elf's mother, Adaia, is seen in the DLC Leliana's Song as a prisoner in the Noble's Estate's dungeons who is released by Leliana.
  • The City Elf origin is the only origin where the story changes based on the Warden's gender.
  • The City Elf Origin was written by BioWare writer Daniel Erickson, who also wrote the Dwarf Noble Origin.[2][3]
  • If a City Elf Warden never speaks to Loghain Mac Tir at Ostagar, he will refer to them upon meeting them for the first time in Denerim, along with Alistair and Eamon Guerrin, as an "elven derelict."[4]


See Also[]