“No one ever listens, not until it's far too late.”
Born in the Fereldan village of Honnleath, Cullen was the second eldest child of four. Mia was his elder sister, his brother Branson was younger, and his sister Rosalie was the youngest of them all. He was eight years old when he told his brother and sisters that he would become a Templar. Though his siblings took the proclamation playfully, Cullen's intentions did not waver. He started visiting the local chantry in Honnleath, asking the templars there to teach him anything they could. Honnleath had only a few templars, but they humored the boy and taught him basic sword techniques.
From a young age, Cullen had a strong desire to enter a profession that helped people, and he refused to be swayed from the path he had chosen. Despite his siblings' initial teasing, Mia became Cullen's greatest supporter, insisting that the others help Cullen train. When he was thirteen years old, a visiting knight-captain took notice of Cullen's hard work and offered him the chance of formal training. His parents agreed to the request, as the Templar Order was known to be a respectable and honorable profession, and they wanted to give their son the opportunity to have a life that would make him happy.
While not the youngest nor the most prepared of recruits, Cullen found that the training was everything that he had imagined it would be and quickly caught up to his peers, matching their expertise. When the time came to take his final vows at the age of eighteen, Cullen was eager to pledge his life in service to the Maker and take the lyrium that would bind him to the Order. He finally achieved his childhood dream to become a Templar when he was assigned to the Circle Tower at Kinloch Hold, under Knight-Commander Greagoir.
When the Blight came over the land, Cullen's family was forced to flee to South Reach. His mother and father did not survive.
Dragon Age: Origins
During the Magi Origin, Cullen is the templar assigned to execute the Magi if they were to fail their Harrowing and become an abomination. It is later revealed that he had feelings for a female mage and hated the idea of having to be the one to kill her. However, if the Warden tries to pursue relations with Cullen, he becomes extremely nervous and runs away, claiming that other duties require his attention.
Cullen is also encountered during the Broken Circle quest, trapped inside a magical prison conjured by Uldred. Initially, he tries to dismiss the Warden as just another illusion. He reveals that blood mages have been trying to get into his head, sifting through his thoughts to give him visions that would break him. None of his comrades survived this treatment. If the Warden is a female mage, he further reveals that the blood mages used his "ill-advised infatuation" with her, his "shame," to tempt him. The Warden's companions remark that Cullen looks exhausted, and that he must have been denied food and water.
If the Warden does not side with him, then he will try one last ditch effort to get the mages killed by complaining to Knight-Commander Greagoir. However, Greagoir values Irving's word more. When siding with Cullen, the Warden will have the chance to agree with his complaint to Greagoir, which in turn leads even Irving to agree. Shoud this happen, the mages are all put under Cullen's watch until their fate can be decided.There are several rumors about Cullen's fate after the Fifth Blight, which are revealed if the Warden was a mage or sided with him during Broken Circle. If the Warden sided with Cullen, or was a mage who did not grant the Circle Tower autonomy, then the rumors say that Cullen will eventually become Knight-Commander of the Circle Tower after Greagoir retires, his regime stricter and more cruel than even Greagoir's was. If the Warden was a mage who did not side with Cullen and gives the tower autonomy, the templar endures festering mental scars from his experience in the tower. This leads to an eventual mental breakdown during which he kills three mage apprentices before fleeing. These rumors are later revealed to be untrue.
The Darkspawn Chronicles
Dragon Age II
Cullen was sent by Knight-Commander Greagoir to the Circle in Kirkwall, where he was promoted to Knight-Captain and second-in-command to Knight-Commander Meredith. He eventually becomes a recurring associate of Hawke, the Champion of Kirkwall.
Hawke first encounters Cullen during Enemies Among Us as he threatens the templar recruit Wilmod into revealing information about the recent disappearances of other recruits. After Wilmod reveals himself to be an abomination, Cullen asks that Hawke continue the investigation in his place, as no one in the brothel the recruits frequented will speak to a templar. After Hawke uncovers the truth, that blood mages have been turning templar recruits into abominations against their will, and rescues Keran, one of the missing recruits, Cullen immediately moves to strip Keran of his commission. However, if Hawke assures him that Keran isn't possessed, Cullen agrees to let the recruit stay in the Order on a ten-year probation.
Conversations with Cullen reveal that he sees the duty to monitor the Circle of Magi, bring apostates to the Circle, and rein in rogue mages as the Templars' divine right. As a result, he has devoted his efforts to enforcing the Templar Order's authority. He believes that mages cannot be treated like people since they can devastate the world in a fit of pique. He also says that templars fight a losing battle, as new mages are born or come into their power every day. To make matters worse, Kirkwall's populace, in part driven by dark rumors of Meredith's treatment of the mages, does not fully cooperate with the templars in hunting apostates, with some actively helping them escape through the mage underground. Cullen thinks that the best way to remedy the Order's dire situation is to win over the hearts and minds of Kirkwall's citizens so that rogue mages no longer receive their support.
Furthermore, since the templars are the largest army in Kirkwall, Cullen thinks that the templars are Kirkwall's best defense should the Qunari wage open war. Thus, he sympathizes with Knight-Commander Meredith, who must undertake the daunting task of containing or quelling such threats. For the sake of maintaining order in Kirkwall, Cullen has supported Meredith.
Hawke can also bring Ser Alrik's "Tranquil Solution" to Cullen's attention. He admits that it has been discussed among the templars, but that there are no plans to go through with it. He says that the Harrowing has served them well enough and that it'll be up to the mages if they push the templars to more stringent measures. He does not openly support or condemn the plan, but says that there is an argument to be made about applying the Rite of Tranquility more widely. Later, Cullen alerts Hawke to the accusations against Aveline.
As years pass, Cullen confesses to Hawke that Meredith is leading the Kirkwall Templar Order down a path he does not support. Cullen maintains that the Templar Order's purpose is not only to protect the population from magic, but also to protect the mages that the templars are sworn to oversee. However, this tenet is tested as Meredith's methods become harsher. By 9:37 Dragon, Meredith's reclusive and tyrannical behavior has concerned him enough to give credence to the accusations that she's gone mad. As a result, he begins to have doubts about his loyalty to Meredith versus his loyalty to the Templar Order. However, he still supports Meredith when mages and templars attempt to depose her. After Meredith invokes the Right of Annulment following the destruction of the Kirkwall Chantry, Cullen joins the other templars in attacking the Gallows.
If Hawke sides with the templars, they will be asked to decide the fate of three mages who surrender. If Hawke asks Cullen for his opinion, he questions the necessity of annulling the Kirkwall Circle. He says the situation in Ferelden was much more dire and even then they saved some of the mages. In response, Meredith asks Cullen if he will take responsibility if it is proven that their prisoners are blood mages, Cullen answers that he believes that is what being a templar is about. If Hawke urges the templars to spare the surrendering Circle mages, Cullen orders the templars to listen to the Champion. Otherwise, Cullen orders his men to execute the three mages.
During the final confrontation with Meredith, Cullen orders her to step down when she orders Hawke to be executed, stating that they had agreed only to arrest the Champion. Meredith accuses him and the surviving templars of being blood mage thralls and then attacks. Cullen fights alongside Hawke.If Hawke sides with the mages, Cullen stands down after Meredith's defeat and allows Hawke to leave the city peacefully. Should Hawke side with the templars, however, Cullen and the surviving templars kneel before Hawke after Meredith's defeat, showing that Hawke has earned their respect. This leads to Hawke being awarded the position of Viscount.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Following the Kirkwall Rebellion, Cullen rallied what remained of the city's templars and restored order. Seeing his potential, Cassandra Pentaghast recruited him into the Inquisition, granting him the rank of Commander. He now leads the military arm of the organization and serves as the tactical advisor to the Inquisitor. With the Chantry debilitated by the Mage-Templar War and in a state of disunity, Cullen believes that the Inquisition is the only organization that can effectively act to remedy the world's problems and seal the Breach.
When asked about his feelings about mages, he states that he has seen the suffering that magic can inflict and has treated mages with distrust because of it in the past - sometimes without cause. He admits that it was unworthy of him and says that he will try not to do so in the future. However, he still thinks that mages should be checked with safeguards to protect people - including the mages themselves. Though he disagrees with the Templar Order's actions, he sympathizes with their frustrations of having their work taken for granted by the Chantry.
As the war council assembles, Cassandra and Leliana suggest approaching the rebel mages for help with the Breach. Cullen disagrees, maintaining that it would be better to recruit the templars instead, fearing that pouring too much magic into the Inquisitor's mark may destroy them all.
After the Inquisitor seals the Breach with the aid of either the mages or templars, Cullen leads the defense when Haven comes under attack by Corypheus. Ultimately, the Inquisition's forces are outmatched and trapped by the enemy. Cullen suggests using the remaining trebuchets to cause an avalanche to bury Haven, and the Inquisition and their enemies along with it, until Chancellor Roderick reveals a secret pathway for them to escape. Cullen organizes the evacuation while the Inquisitor distracts Corypheus and his dragon. Once everyone is clear, he sends up a signal via fire arrow to let them know that the others are safe, at which point the Inquisitor triggers the destruction of Haven. They escape and regroup with the Inquisition. Once they set up camp, Cullen argues with the rest of the war council on what to do, but tempers are calmed as Mother Giselle sings a hymn for the faithful.
The Inquisitor soon leads the Inquisition to Skyhold to set up their base of operations. Cullen rallies the warriors and others present to accept the Inquisitor as the official leader of the Inquisition.
Cullen later struggles with lyrium withdrawal when he tries to wean himself off of his addiction. He first reveals that he has an agreement with Cassandra to remove him from duty should he prove a liability, and he can later be found arguing with Cassandra to choose a replacement for him because he is doubting his ability to command. The Inquisitor then has the option to either encourage him to fight his addiction or to go back on lyrium.If the Inquisitor recruits the mages:
Cullen will inform the Inquisitor that the Red Templars are being led by General Samson, a man he has personal history with. If the Inquisitor follows Cullen's advice to investigate Samson, the Inquisition will raid a quarry full of the Red Templars' red lyrium supplies and Cullen will personally aid in the raid of the Shrine of Dumat, Samson's headquarters. Cullen will be present when Samson is brought before the Inquisitor to be judged.
Cullen returns during the events of the Trespasser DLC, set two years after Corypheus' defeat. Cullen commands the Inquisitor's honor guard and rides with the Inquisitor as they approach the Winter Palace. He is later seen adopting a Mabari, ostensibly cast aside by its Orlesian master.
If the Inquisition is disbanded...
If Cullen is not taking Lyrium and is in a romance with the Inquisitor:
Cullen and the Inquisitor retire to private life together (with Cullen's new Mabari) in Ferelden. They "continued doing good works on their own terms" and visit Cullen's family.
If Cullen is not taking Lyrium and is not in a romance with the Inquisitor:
Cullen retires from active service. Divine Victoria grants him land and he establishes a sanctuary/rehab for former Templars. He promises to pick up the sword if his friends ever need him.
If Cullen is still taking Lyrium and is not in a romance with the Inquisitor:
Later on, Scout Harding finds him living as a beggar on the streets of Val Chevin. He is in the last stages of Lyrium madness. It is suggested that she ended his suffering, either by giving him coin to get more Lyrium or by providing him a quick death.
If the Inquisition continues on...
If Cullen is not taking Lyrium and is in a romance with the Inquisitor:
Cullen and the Inquisitor continue to guide the Inquisition. They "continued doing good works on their own terms" and visit Cullen's family.
If Cullen is not taking Lyrium or was promised to find a solution later, and is not in a romance with the Inquisitor:
Cullen continued to serve as commander. He also established means for taking care of Templars who want to quit Lyrium or have lost their minds.
Cullen abruptly retires from the Inquisition and disappears. Cullen loses his mind to Lyrium and becomes a beggar on the streets. He is found by Scout Harding and is either given coin or a quick death.
Dragon Age: Origins
Dragon Age II
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Cullen is a potential romance option for a female Inquisitor in Dragon Age: Inquisition, although only for humans or elves. He is also one of the few romance options whose romance can be initiated before the completion of his personal quest.
His romance can be initiated shortly after the Inquisitor arrives in Skyhold, but he can be flirted with while in Haven. Provided one is playing as a female human or elf, a short conversation with Cullen in the courtyard can be had as he is attempting to marshal his troops, during which he pledges to the Inquisitor that he will never allow another crippling defeat such as Haven to occur again. Later, the female Inquisitor can initiate a romance with Cullen by asking if he has "time to talk". They take a stroll out onto the battlements, during which the Inquisitor confesses her feelings towards him. Provided that the Inquisitor fits Cullen's specifications (female human or elf), the feelings are mutual and they share their first kiss. Cullen says later that he'd been wanting to kiss the Inquisitor for "longer than he should admit." Throughout the rest of the game, the Inquisitor will have several cutscenes and unique conversations with Cullen if the romance option was selected.
If you are romancing him during or after Perseverance, Cullen will call it off or refuse to enter a relationship if the Inquisitor told him to go back onto lyrium. In a discussion about the sacrifices required in a Templar lifestyle, he justifies the breakup by saying, "I wasn't the same after Ferelden. I tried putting that behind me and clearly I don't know how. Until that's possible, I shouldn't be with anyone." He can still be romanced, however, if he is told a better way can be found to overcome his addiction.
After a mage Inquisitor encourages Cullen to continue to refuse lyrium, he can express regret for his attitudes in the previous game and state that, "The way that I saw mages... I'm not sure I would have cared about you. And the thought of that sickens me." If a mage Inquisitor encouraged Cullen to go back onto lyrium, he will be much more prickly to the mage Inquisitor when asked if he would choose her over his duty in the event he'd have to slay her should she be corrupted- insinuating he would put his duty as a templar over his feelings for the Inquisitor.
Later on, Cullen will ask the Inquisitor if she'd like to accompany him while dealing with some business in Ferelden. If the Inquisitor accepts, he will take her to a lake. Cullen will tell her that he used to come here as a child to get away from his siblings and the last time he was here was the day he left for Templar training. On that day, his brother gave him a lucky coin, which he has kept with him ever since. He will then ask the Inquisitor to indulge him and give the coin to them. The Inquisitor may either accept the gift or ask him to keep it. Neither option will affect the romance.
As with all other romanceable characters, if the Inquisitor romances Cullen, two Orlesian nobles in the throne room will comment on the romance at each progression.
During the Exalted Council, Cullen will ask the Inquisitor to marry him. The Inquisitor can agree, or tell Cullen the couple doesn't need marriage.
If the Inquisitor is an elf:
They will have the option to ask Cullen to state their vows in elvish for the ceremony, to which Cullen agrees. The elvish vows the Inquisitor reads are, "Sylaise enaste var aravel. Lama, ara las mir lath. Bellanaris." See the Elven language talk page for speculations on the translation.
If the Inquisitor is human:
Only Cullen will read vows during the ceremonial cutscene.
Dragon Age: Origins
- "Maker turn his gaze on you. I hope your compassion hasn't doomed us all."
Dragon Age II
- (To Hawke, Enemies Among Us, Act I) "I was at the Circle Tower in Ferelden during the Blight. I saw firsthand how templars' trust and leniency can be rewarded. I still have nightmares of Uldred's depravities."
- (To Hawke, Enemies Among Us, Act I) "Mages cannot be treated like people. They are not like you and me. They are weapons. They have the power to light a city on fire in a fit of pique."
- (To Hawke, Enemies Among Us, Act I) "There is a vigil before templars take their arms, but the gravest danger they face is falling asleep."
- (To Hawke, Act I) "The image of the poor, chained apprentice is a powerful one. And one the mages are more than willing to exploit."
Dragon Age: Inquisition
- "Kirkwall's Circle fell. Innocent people died in the streets. Can't you see why I want nothing to do with that life?"
- "Inquisition! With the Herald! For your lives! For all of us!"
- "Once your sacrifices are made, is there no end? Are you leashed until the day you die, or lyrium takes your mind away?"
- (Informal reports) Creating Inquisition footholds outside Skyhold has strengthened our reputation. People view us as a stabilizing force. We've received a number of recruits eager to pledge themselves to our cause.
After completing the main quest Here Lies the Abyss:
- (Informal reports) "Many of our recruits viewed the Grey Wardens as heroes."
- "Blackwall's presence is helpful. Knowing there's one Warden immune to corruption has given people hope."
- "Corypheus's grasp is not inescapable."
- "To see how far they've fallen... it's disheartening."
- Codex entry: Knight-Captain Cullen
- Codex entry: The Mage Underground
- Codex entry: Cullen
- Codex entry: Cullen and the Last Few Years
- Codex entry: Arboreal Fort
- Construction Report: Brickmarks
- A Letter (Cullen)
- Licentious Gossip
- Tales of the Inquisition's Agents: Book II
- Cullen was written by Sheryl Chee in Origins, Jennifer Hepler in Dragon Age: II, and Brianne Battye in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
- Originally, Cullen wasn't a romance option for Dragon Age: Inquisition, but according to Mike Laidlaw, BioWare changed his role as a love interest when they extended the game's development by a year.
- If the imported Origins story featured a Human Mage Warden, Cullen will refer to them in the beginning of Dragon Age II Act 2, e.g. "I knew an Amell once. She was a special woman. Never met her like again." in the case of a female Warden and "There was an Amell in the Ferelden Circle, he left before Uldred attacked and came back to save us all." in the case of a male Warden.
- If the imported Origins save is a female Mage Warden, his Dragon Age II Codex makes a reference to his feelings for the Warden while they were at the Circle Tower. If Leliana romanced a female Mage Warden in Origins and Cullen is not being romanced by the Inquisitor, he will try to ask Leliana about the Warden during War Table banter.
- Cullen shared quarters with Samson when he was transferred to Kirkwall. He thought Samson was a "decent man" at the time.
- If Hawke sided with the Templars during the Kirkwall Rebellion, Cullen was promoted to Knight-Commander of Kirkwall. Otherwise, he remained Knight-Captain, even though he was the de facto commander in Kirkwall. However, at the Winter Palace during Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts, the herald will announce Cullen as "former Knight-Commander of Kirkwall", regardless of his actual title.
- Cullen enjoys a chess-like game, and often played against his sister as a child.
- One of the banters between Cullen and Josephine at the War Table includes Cullen musing that he should "calibrate" the trebuchets, to which Josephine groaningly replies, "Again? How many times will you be doing that?" This is likely a reference to Garrus Vakarian, a character from Bioware's Mass Effect series, who spends arguably too much time calibrating the guns on the Normandy.
- Cullen's lion helmet was only featured in the Enemy of Thedas trailer in order to cover an animation glitch with Cullen's mouth. It is not featured in-game, but is included in his character kit.
- Cullen is mentioned a few times by the characters in the multiplayer mode of Inquisition. The Alchemist observes that he "smells like elderflower and oakmoss."
- According to war table banter, Cullen styles his hair, although he denies such claims.
- (Inquisition) While in Cullen's office in Skyhold, an Inquisition agent will tell the Inquisitor that Cullen has gone to speak with Cassandra; however, if the Inquisitor has completed Sera's unmarked "prank" quest prior to this conversation, the Inquisitor might not be able to interact with the agent. This will render it impossible to find Cullen (which is otherwise accomplished by clicking on Cassandra), and he will never return to his office. Any further interaction with him becomes impossible, as does the completion of his questline (supposedly fixed with Patch 6, though there are still reports of the bug occurring after the patch).