The Grey Wardens are an Order of warriors of exceptional ability dedicated to fighting darkspawn throughout Thedas. They are headquartered in the very place of their founding, the Weisshaupt Fortress in the Anderfels, but maintain a presence in most other nations as well.
The Grey Wardens are known for ignoring a recruit's racial, social, national, and even criminal background if they deem the person valuable in terms of character, ability or skill.
Despite their small numbers, the Grey Wardens have been instrumental in defeating each Blight so far, and thus are vital to the survival of the world as a whole.
- “You will guard them and they will hate you for it. Whenever there is not a Blight actively crawling over the surface, humanity will do its best to forget how much they need you. And that's good. We need to stand apart from them, even if they have to push us away to make us do it. That is the only way we can ever make the hard decisions.” ―Kristoff, Commander of the Grey of Orlais during the Blessed Age
First Blight and the founding Edit
To the wisest I sang, To the wing'd cup-bearers of the tall sky-vaulting...
Lasting 192 years, the First Blight occurred in -395 Ancient (800 TE), when a plague was unleashed upon the world. The Deep Roads, underground highways built by dwarves, were swarmed with monstrous creatures that became known as the "darkspawn". These creatures seemed limitless in number, and spread a Taint that infected other living creatures, mutating them into monsters, and corrupted and poisoned the very environment around them. The cult of the Maker claimed this was the result of Tevinter mages entering the Fade through a ritual and attempting to usurp the Golden City, although dwarves and others discounted this theory. Nevertheless, this invasion of darkspawn — named the Blight — soon destroyed most of the underground kingdoms of the dwarves and spread to the surface world. Thedas was in chaos and entered a dark age. The darkspawn were found to be led by an immensely powerful dragon tainted with the darkspawn corruption; this creature was named an Archdemon and believed to be one of the Old Gods worshiped by Tevinter.
In -305 Ancient (890 TE), after nearly a century of bitter war against the darkspawn hordes, a group of veteran warriors came together in Weisshaupt Fortress in the Anderfels, the western part of the Tevinter Imperium. Although Warden legends sing of their leader Carinus and his pre-founding travels to recruit allies, other stories do not acknowledge Carinus's existence. Instead, they talk about a band of Ander soldiers who came together to hunt the Archdemon and the sacrifice they made as they tried to save the world while their families perished. Regardless of whether Carinus existed or not, the different tales about the founders of the Grey Wardens imply that they were doing more than just getting allies. They were also researching for better ways to fight the darkspawn and to protect themselves from the Taint. Those discoveries led to the developing of the Joining ritual. The Joining symbolically cut their ties to all worldly concerns, in order to dedicate themselves to fighting the darkspawn.
Several notable dwarven warriors, led by Paragon Moroc the Maul, were also present at the Grey Wardens' founding. They shared all they had learned about the darkspawn with their Warden allies. A group of the Orth people from the Wandering Hills and the northern reaches of the Hunterhorn Mountains, who knew how to "tame" griffons, also joined the Grey Wardens ranks and teach them how to ride the beasts in battle. Although there are no written records about it, it is widely believed that the Grey Wardens took their name from the griffons' grey coloration. Calling themselves the Grey Wardens, they swore that they would accept anyone, no matter their race or background, without distinction if only deemed suitable to join the Order.
The first chronicled apparition of the Grey Wardens on the battlefield was during the attack on Nordbotten, when they arrived mounted on griffons, plunging into the darkspawn with each Warden taking on crowds of ten or twenty darkspawn at once. Incredibly, they broke the horde and won the battle, although this was done because the darkspawn were unable to tell the difference between the newly joined Grey Wardens from their own fellow darkspawn.
The Wardens then began an aggressive campaign against the darkspawn, reclaiming lands that most had given up for lost. Beholden to no temporal lords, they were free to sacrifice villages and fortresses that could not be won, preserving their might for the clashes that truly mattered. They proved to be a desperately needed spark of hope in the darkest of hours, and quickly gained renown since.
Their victories brought notice, and soon the Grey Wardens started receiving tithes, supplies, and recruits from all lands; they accepted all with skill, might, or tenacity into their ranks, slaves and noblemen alike, regardless of their race or temperament. They grew, building fortresses and functioning as elite shock troops making quick and devastating strikes wherever darkspawn appeared, as well as rallying the mundane armies to greater deeds.
During the next 100 years, humanity slowly managed to stand firm and push back the Blight. Finally, in -203 Ancient (992 TE), the Grey Wardens gathered an allied army composed of soldiers from the Tevinter Imperium, the tribes of the Ciraine (the lands that would become Orlais), and Rivain to confront the main darkspawn horde, led by the Archdemon now identified as Dumat. The massive battle was waged at the Silent Plains, in what is now southern Tevinter or northern Nevarra: the legion of darkspawn was defeated and Dumat was slain by the Grey Wardens; with the Archdemon's death, the horde's will to fight on was broken. It took several years to eradicate the remaining darkspawn from the surface, but the deed was done and the Grey Wardens had carved out their legend. After the Battle of the Silent Plains, they were much celebrated and most nations gave formal promises of support for further darkspawn invasions. Among the tithes that were given to them was also the Right of Conscription to guarantee sufficient recruits.
Second Blight Edit
In 1:5 Divine, approximately 200 years since the slaying of Dumat, the Archdemon Zazikel rose to lead the Second Blight. The entire city of Nordbotten — the very place where the Grey Wardens first appeared on the battlefield — was destroyed before a defense could be organized. The Tevinter Imperium withdrew from the Anderfels, abandoning it in an attempt to protect central Tevinter. The Anderfels area was in much trouble, and even the Grey Warden headquarters in Weisshaupt came under siege by the darkspawn.
Fortunately, the armies of the recently founded Orlesian Empire under the command of Emperor Kordillus Drakon I proved both motivated and capable of standing up to the Blight. After several victories against the darkspawn, Drakon's army lifted the siege of Weisshaupt in 1:33 Divine and proceeded to save the rest of the Anderfels together with the Wardens. The Anderfels joined with the Orlesian Empire and the Grey Wardens converted to the Chantry.
In the following decades, the Blight was again slowly pushed back and the Grey Wardens took command of the war. The Archdemon Zazikel was finally confronted and slain by the Grey Warden Corin in 1:95 Divine at Starkhaven in the Free Marches.
Glory Age to Towers Age Edit
After the second Blight, the Grey Wardens actively remained vigilant for another Blight. Although there was no major incursion in the surface during this period of time, the Wardens fought with many small war bands of darkspawn that appeared in surface lands from time to time. They also sent small groups of Wardens to help Orzammar in its fight against the darkspawn in the Deep Roads. When the Chantry declared their Exalted March against the Dales, the Grey Wardens refused to get involved in that conflict.
Third Blight Edit
The Third Blight began with the awakening of Toth in 3:10 Towers, roughly 115 years after the last Blight. The initial darkspawn attacks occurred in central Thedas in Tevinter and Orlais, but even though the hordes were larger than those previously encountered, a rapidly-organized defense led by the Grey Wardens managed to hold them back. The darkspawn attacks started to focus on the more lightly defended Free Marches while Tevinter and Orlais tried to remain neutral, but pressure from the Grey Wardens eventually brought them into the war. The darkspawn horde was crushed at Hunter Fell in the Free Marches in 3:25 Towers, and Toth was slain by the Grey Wardens. The Third Blight remained a relatively short event compared to previous Blights.
After the Third Blight, the Grey Wardens became more involved in the politics of the nations of Thedas, although they also remained ever vigilant against the darkspawn menace.
Fourth Blight Edit
- “Garahel always used to say that heroism was just another word for horror, and maybe a worse one. A hero always feels that he has to do what's right. Sometimes that leads to tormenting himself with doubt long after the deed is done. Or herself...” ―Amadis Vael, princess-captain of the Ruby Drakes mercenary company, and lover of Garahel
Not much is told about the Grey Wardens for another 200 years, when Andoral awakened and the Fourth Blight began in 5:12 Exalted. Most of the damage was to the east of traditional Grey Warden territory, in the Free Marches, Antiva, and Rivain, but the Anderfels was also attacked and Hossberg, not far from Weisshaupt, came under siege. This time, both Tevinter and Orlais were lightly attacked and refused to send aid. The hero of the Fourth Blight was an elven Grey Warden named Garahel, who first led the liberation of Hossberg in 5:20 Exalted and then managed to gather an army from the Free Marches to support the Grey Wardens. After a long and bloody war, Garahel's army marched north and faced the main horde in 5:24 Exalted at Ayesleigh, where Garahel perished after personally slaying Andoral.
The Grey Wardens' legendary griffons died out some time after the Fourth Blight.
Exalted Age to Dragon Age Edit
After the Fourth Blight, the influence of the Grey Wardens waned considerably. It would be 400 years before the Fifth Blight, and many started to think it would never happen. So many darkspawn were slain during the Fourth Blight that many came to the erroneous conclusion they were defeated permanently. Although remaining an eternal threat to the dwarves, darkspawn were rarely seen by surface people, and the Grey Wardens were slowly dismissed as a relic of a bygone, darker time best left forgotten. The refusal of the Wardens to help the other nations of Thedas against the Qunari during the Steel Age also earned them the enmity of many courts.
- See also: Battle of Soldier's Peak
In 7:5 Storm, there was an awkward incident in Ferelden with the local Warden-Commander—Sophia Dryden, previously a rival for the crown of Ferelden—becoming involved in a planned coup d'état. The result was fighting between the Grey Wardens and the royal army, the loss of Commander Sophia and her command at Soldier's Peak, and King Arland banishing the Order from Ferelden. The Grey Wardens were allowed back in Ferelden by King Maric in 9:10 Dragon and they were able to begin a slow rebuilding, but by 9:30 Dragon, their presence remained light and the Order was neither well known nor held in high regard by Ferelden's people - there were a bare handful of Wardens in Ferelden in 9:30, and many of that handful were non-Fereldans moved there to help rebuild the Fereldan contingent.
Fifth Blight Edit
- Main article: Fifth Blight
The darkspawn swarmed the Korcari Wilds in southern Ferelden, where they were met by the Fereldan army under King Cailan and Loghain Mac Tir, as well as all of Ferelden's Grey Wardens. After a few minor victories against the darkspawn, the royal army was devastated in a major battle at Ostagar when Loghain unexpectedly withdrew, leaving King Cailan and the Grey Wardens to their deaths. All but two Grey Wardens (Alistair and The Warden) were slain in the massacre; both survivors were new recruits to the Order.
Loghain installed himself as regent of Ferelden, denounced the Grey Wardens of Ferelden as traitors and had the Grey Wardens of Orlais that had come to assist Ferelden turned back at the border, believing the Wardens' claims about the Blight a ruse to assist in a new Orlesian conquest of Ferelden. His actions ignited a civil war as the nation's nobility, either disbelieving his explanation regarding Ostagar or outraged by the brutal measures Loghain was taking to hold a throne he had no claim to, battled to a stalemate with Loghain's armies and his loyalists to remove him from power, the darkspawn taking advantage of the infighting to advance deeper into Ferelden unopposed. Having heard what happened at Ostagar, the Grey Wardens of Orlais decided to dispatch a Grey Warden native to Ferelden, Riordan, to fight Loghain and the Blight simultaneously. From their perspective, if the Grey Wardens expended themselves against Loghain, then they would risk the Blight devastating Thedas once again. Thus, they had to maintain vigil should Ferelden fall to the Blight.Despite the odds, the two remaining Fereldan Grey Wardens were able to organize an allied army to oppose the Blight using old treaties, and with the aid of Riordan, managed to slay Urthemiel during the Battle of Denerim. The Fifth Blight lasted just over one year - by far the shortest Blight in history. In acknowledgement of their efforts, the Grey Wardens were granted the Arling of Amaranthine to allow them to rebuild. This was the first time that the Order governed a region, and it was received with interest by the First Warden from Weisshaupt.
The Awakening Edit
- Main article: Amaranthine Conflict (9:31 Dragon)
If Avernus survived the Fifth Blight and was allowed to continue his research:
The Warden-Commander of Ferelden worked with Avernus to uncover the true potential of the Joining ritual. This research was allowed by the First Warden, who was also interested in the old mage's research, and all the results of the experiments were sent to Weisshaupt on a regular basis. However, the results of the research hinted at the dangers of unlocking the latent abilities of the Grey Warden's blood.
If Nathaniel survived the events of Awakening:After the discovery of the Primeval Thaig, the the Grey Wardens took great interest in the thaig. In 9:37 Dragon, the First Warden commissioned Nathaniel Howe to lead a special expedition to learn more about it.
9:40-41 Dragon Edit
The Wardens at Weisshaupt Fortress began a research project into records and materials from the Fourth Blight, searching for past incidents where Wardens acted strangely. They were also searching for any past encounters with intelligent darkspawn capable of thinking and talking like a person. In response to the Mage-Templar War, the Grey Wardens offered amnesty to any mages or Templars wishing to escape the fighting, on the condition of their taking the Joining and entering the Order. The Wardens also invoked the Right of Conscription on such mage recruits to keep them from being harmed by the Templars.
In Orlais, two different groups of Grey Wardens conspicuously abandoned their assigned hold, selling off their spare horses and livestock at a fraction of their value. According to locals, these Wardens withdrew in a hurry but no readily apparent explanation was found.In the Anderfels, the Grey Wardens recovered a clutch of thirteen live Griffon hatchlings from Red Bride's Grave.
The Adamant uprising Edit
During the Divine Conclave, a group of Grey Wardens —enthralled by Corypheus— aided the magister darkspawn in sacrificing Divine Justinia V to power the Orb of Destruction. Their ritual to power the orb was botched due to the intervention of the Herald of Andraste and subsequently caused The Breach.
When every Grey Warden in Orlais began to hear the Calling —a bluff elicited by Corypheus—, the Grey Wardens grew desperate and sought out allies to help them accomplish their mandate before they perished, including summoning all the southern Grey Wardens to Orlais. Lord Livius Erimond, a Venatori Magister, convinced Warden-Commander Clarel to use their blood magic techniques to raise a demon army and invade the Deep Roads and kill the Old Gods before they woke. Unbeknownst to the Grey Wardens, the demon binding rituals Erimond taught the Grey Warden mages enslaved them to Corypheus, who would use them to conquer Thedas.
A senior Warden (that can be either Stroud, Alistair, or Loghain Mac Tir, based on player's choices from past games), that was researching about Corypheus at the time, was branded a traitor for protesting Warden-Commander Clarel's plan to use the blood magic rituals and went into hiding. The fugitive Warden, Hawke, and the Inquisitor scouted the ancient Tevinter ritual tower in the Western Approach to investigate a Grey Warden congregation and learned the truth of the Venatori's blood sacrifice rituals.
Hawke and the fugitive Warden joined the Inquisition as they laid siege to Adamant Fortress. They confront Erimond and Clarel about the truth of the demon binding ritual and attempted to sway the Wardens against Erimond. When Erimond summoned Corypheus' dragon to deal with the Inquisition, Clarel had a change of heart and betrayed Erimond. The dragon attacked and a massive battle against the Warden mages enthralled by Corypheus and their bonded demons ensued. While the Inquisition pursued Clarel, she inflicted her wrath on Erimond but was killed by the dragon he had summoned. Clarel's last act was casting a spell that subdued the dragon but its crash caused the ground beneath them to crumble, resulting in the party to fall off the ramparts. The Inquisitor used their mark to open a rift to transport the party to the Fade.
After escaping the Fade and banishing the remaining demons, the Nightmare demon's defeat frees the Grey Warden mages of its control. The Inquisitor then decides the fate of the surviving Grey Wardens —either let them aid the Inquisition to atone for their atrocities or banish them from Orlais.
If the Inquisitor banish the Grey Wardens:
The surviving Grey Wardens of Adamant returned to Weisshaupt, and it is believed that a battle for control of the Order erupted soon after. If the Warden ally survived the events of Adamant, it's rumored he is leading a rebellion to change the Order from within. Eventually, even the Grey Wardens from the north nations began to retreat to Weisshaupt and rumors that the Order is on the verge of vanishing began to spread, while all news from Weisshaupt cease.
If the Inquisitor ally with the Grey Wardens:The southern Grey Wardens began to slowly rebuild after helping the Inquisition stop a particularly dangerous darkspawn incursion, and declare that the Order must change, becoming more open to the general populace. It's rumored that the southern Grey Wardens severed ties with their leaders at Weisshaupt and that both Warden factions are at war. Eventually, all news from Weisshaupt cease.
If Rainier was recruited into the Grey Wardens:Warden Rainier mentions that the Grey Wardens are presently in a state of upheaval and there have been various heated arguments about the future of the Order.
- “We are Wardens! One and all! Fight's for justice, shield's for vengeance! Crush our enemies! One and all!”
The Order of Grey Wardens is commanded by the First Warden in Weisshaupt, and consists of a system of semi-autonomous national branches lead by a local commander. Though there is a hierarchy, in practice this is frequently defined by seniority (decided by time of Joining) in the Order.
In 9:30 Dragon, the strength of the Grey Wardens is estimated at over 1,000 in the Anderfels, several hundred in Orlais, and around two dozen in Ferelden, with unknown numbers in other nations and the Free Marches.
The official hierarchy of the Grey Wardens, in descending order, is:
- First Warden: Permanently situated at Weisshaupt fortress. The First Warden is mainly a political figure since the griffon extinction, and most military command falls to the Warden-Commanders.
- High Constable: Second-in-command to the First Warden, and formerly the aerial commander during the Wardens' use of griffons. Recently, the High Constable has become the public face of the Order, acting as the ambassador to the High King and leading local recruitment.
- Chamberlain of the Grey: The senior archivist at Weisshaupt, and to whom Warden-Commanders send yearly reports. The Chamberlain technically outranks the Warden-Commanders.
- Commander of the Grey: Also known as Warden-Commander. The leader of the Grey Wardens in a given country, and under normal circumstances under little direction by the Order. The dwindling communications between Weisshaupt and the branches leave most Warden-Commanders to run their respective branches as they see fit. They can be summoned to Weisshaupt by the First Warden at any time.
- Field-Commander: A temporary rank used only in times of Blight. A Field-Commander has the same rank and responsabilies of a Warden-Commander in a given area.
- Constable of the Grey: A Warden-Commander's second-in-command, the Constable, colloquially called Warden-Constable, acts as the field commander and steps in when the Warden-Commander is away.
- Senior Warden (or Warden-Lieutenant in Orlais): The formal title given to veteran Wardens who deserve special privilege. When a Constable of the Grey is in command, they usually take a Senior Warden to act as their second-in-command. Senior Wardens may command a small group of Wardens or undertake special missions.
- Archivist: The archivist of a given national Grey Warden branch.
- Warden-Ensign: Generally just called Wardens, these are the rank-and-file members of the Order who have survived the Joining ritual.
- Acolyte: The rank given to the rank-and-file Warden mages.
- Warden-Recruit: An individual selected to join the Wardens but who has not yet undertaken the Joining ritual. They are given a formal rank just for committing themselves to the Wardens, regardless of whether or not they survive the Joining. Failed recruits' names are kept in the archives of Weisshaupt in honour of their sacrifice.
Recruitment and the Right of Conscription Edit
- "Men and women from every race; warriors and mages, barbarians and kings..."
- —Duncan, Ferelden's Commander of the Grey
The Grey Wardens are open to men and women from every race, nation and background. As such, they offer formal invitations to join to anyone they see fit to be a member of the Order, regardless of who they are. Many families are honored to claim a Grey Warden as one of their own, though few encourage their firstborn to walk that path. Grey Wardens are also known to recruit criminals, giving them a chance to redeem themselves by pledging to a good cause. They also accept volunteers as well, and elves in particular tend to be eager to submit themselves for the Grey Wardens, as they recruit regardless of social standing and serving is considered by many an honor.
While most people believe that someone must truly hate darkspawn to join the Grey Wardens, in most cases the potential recruits are just responsible individuals with a strong sense of will. In fact, most Grey Wardens see their first darkspawn only after becoming initiates of the Order. More so, veteran Wardens consider that having a personal hatred of the darkspawn can be detrimental to a Warden if it leads them to make rash and irrational decisions.
The Grey Wardens don't accept just anyone within their ranks, however. Only the best and brightest are allowed. Recruits suffer excruciating tests to determine if they are worthy of being members of the Order. In addition, the fact that the Joining ritual kills many of its participants means that the draft may turn out to be a death sentence. While this is seen as unfortunate, this process elevates their membership to the highest caliber. To face a Grey Warden in combat, is to face an elite and deadly opponent.
Mages are traditionally recruited one per Circle of Magi, usually joining the Order after their Harrowings. The young mage recruit serves as a Warden their entire life from then on. Similar to serving a ruler, yet greatly removed from the degradation they may normally face in society, mage Wardens are given great respect and importance in the Order. Their facilitation of the Joining ritual is essential.
Should they need to, the Grey Wardens possess the Right of Conscription, an authority that dates back to the end of the First Blight and was given to them to ensure they will always have enough members. By using this Right, a Warden may demand that, instantly and irrevocably, any individual from king to criminal be drafted into their ranks, and the conscript cannot refuse being recruited once the Right is invoked. This is specially true in times of Blight.
However, in contemporary times the Right of Conscription is used sparingly for fear of political reprisal, due to the low standing the Order has in some countries—especially in Ferelden. The Grey Wardens prefer to not invoke the Right unless there is no other option, and usually is invoked only to quell protest from a recruit's lords or commanders.
The Joining Edit
- Main article: Joining
To become part of the Grey Wardens, a recruit must first go through a secret ritual called the Joining.
Philosophy and methods Edit
- “The Grey Wardens hold a lonely vigil, enduring lives of hardship and sacrifice to protect the world from an evil that can never truly be conquered. Few would volunteer for this: the suffering, isolation, and promise of a violent death. But the path of a Warden is also one of valor, and those who give themselves to the cause are rewarded with the knowledge that they have become something more than they were.”
The Grey Wardens are aware that they are fighting a war of attrition against the darkspawn, and that they are in the losing side. Because of that, they know that they will have to use whatever tactic they can devise, no matter how unorthodox, to win in the end. And so, they acquire whatever resources they can regardless of the method, and employ whomever they must, regardless of their defects of morals or character. They often turn a blind eye to blood magic, deal with demons of the Fade, and do whatever else they must so long as those efforts led to the Blight's end.
While it is easy to assume that all Grey Wardens want nothing more than to end all Blights forever, some individual Wardens have such zeal for the fight that they wish only for a lifetime of tests and war, however. This means that the ranks of the Order are filled with dangerous men and women, some unscrupulous in the extreme, but the Wardens make a point of suspending judgment of any who are effective against the darkspawn.
Even for their willingness to use any tactic, however, a philosophical split—unknown to people not associated with the Order—has long divided the Grey Wardens into two distinct factions: the ones who feel that the eradication of darkspawn is paramount, and the ones who see their protective mission as the greatest purpose of their calling.
For instance, if a village is under attack by a host of darkspawn, the Grey Wardens oriented to protection would chance alerting the darkspawn to their presence by warning the villagers of the danger, helping them to safety as best as they can before facing the monsters; while those oriented to destruction would be more likely to sacrifice the village before springing a more effective ambush on the darkspawn. The dead villagers, in their minds, are an unfortunate but necessary sacrifice.
However, while Grey Wardens are expected to do their duty whatever it takes, they are frequently admonished to avoid offending local authorities where at all possible. Although in times past the authority of the Grey Wardens was unquestioned, after the Fourth Blight things changed, and the Order isn't as powerful as it used to be.
The Grey Wardens' first allegiance is to their duty, and their second to the Order, but Wardens are not expected to abandon the lives they had before their Joinings. Rather, are encouraged to put their worldly ties to use in furtherance of the Order's aims. Noble titles and merchant wealth can often accomplish what weapons cannot. Grey Wardens are also allowed to marry, have romantic relationships or retain the relationships they had before joining the Order, if they want to.
While some Grey Wardens avoid serious romantic entanglements knowing that their lives are at constant risk, others enjoy love as much as they can, figuring that they should embrace life to the fullest while they can. Some of those Wardens even allow their families to know the risks of being a Grey Warden, knowing that one day they will not see them again.
Likewise, some Grey Wardens make a point to stand apart from the communities they serve, knowing they may be called on to sacrifice, tomorrow, those they protect today. But again, other Wardens take the opposite stance, befriending any and all in the moment and addressing sacrifice when the times require it.
Whatever relationships they maintain or cultivate, however, Wardens are expected to remain neutral, and are discouraged from taking the field in civil or religious conflict against any enemy other than the darkspawn.
The Calling Edit
There was a stir within his blood
And the dreams lay thick upon him.
A call did beat within his heart.
One road was left before him.
Just as they keep many secrets from outsiders, including the Joining, Grey Wardens also keep certain secrets hidden from many of their own members. It is heavily implied that the Calling—also known as the Long Walk—was a ritual created by the first Grey Wardens to prevent future members from watching themselves ultimately succumb to the darkspawn taint. Contrary to belief of the junior members, surviving the Joining does not confer to Grey Wardens a true immunity from "blight sickness", but rather merely delays its onset. This misunderstanding is a calculated lie the senior members allow the new Wardens to believe as one of the oldest traditions of the Order.
The Calling begins with nightmares and bad omens, and then the Warden begins to hear eerie music and whispers, the same "call" the darkspawn hear to search for the Old Gods. Although some junior Wardens claim that it takes a person about thirty years after their Joining to hear it, the gap varies depending on the willpower of an individual Warden and the level of his or her interaction with the darkspawn. As such, Grey Wardens during a Blight are likely to have shorter lifespans. Otherwise, it is commonly between ten to thirty years that the Wardens hear the Calling.
According to ritual, a Grey Warden who hear the Calling celebrates as he or she see fit before descending underground and entering the Deep Roads to slay as many darkspawn as they can before being overwhelmed and slain. Many within the Order believe that this ritual is done for practical reasons, to take down as many enemies as a Grey Warden can before dying, but the truth is darker. The older Wardens know that the taint will not kill them in the end, but it will transform them into ghouls that feel compelled to join the darkspawn horde, and they prefer to die in battle than to bolster the enemy forces.
It is also implied that even if a Grey Warden would run away, given time all Wardens would find themselves in the Deep Roads, Blight-Lands or pursued by darkspawn, for they all are connected by the taint that draws them to each other. "You'd seek them out... or they'd seek you out." Thus, one can assume that almost every Grey Warden will die at the hands of darkspawn or become a ghoul and part of the horde.
Relations with the dwarves Edit
Grey Wardens and the dwarven people have always had a kinship through their shared battle against the darkspawn. Paragon Moroc's contribution to the founding of the Order is a key reason there is no loss of caste associated with becoming a Grey Warden.
Dwarves are viewed as excellent recruits to the Order due to their experience against the darkspawn. However, as there are fewer dwarves due to low birth rates, there are also fewer dwarven Wardens. Grey Wardens are also the only surface organization to care about the endless war the dwarves wage against the darkspawn in the Deep Roads.
When the time of a Grey Warden's Calling draws near, a Warden honors a longstanding agreement between the Wardens and the dwarves and serves a year fighting darkspawn in the Deep Roads at the side of the dwarves. When the advance of the taint is unbearable, the Warden is celebrated by the dwarves and then enters the Deep Roads for their Calling. In return the dwarves have signed treaties with the Wardens promising aid in times of a Blight.
Notable Grey Wardens Edit
- Main article: Grey Warden membership
- Carinus: known as the founder of the Grey Warden Order in some legends
- Caronel, elven Warden from Ferelden, and Arcane Warrior
- Clarel, Warden-Commander of Orlais in 9:41 Dragon
- Corin, Hero of the Second Blight who killed the Archdemon Zazikel
- Duncan, Warden-Commander of Ferelden in 9:30 Dragon
- Garahel, Hero of the Fourth Blight who killed the Archdemon Andoral
- Genevieve, Warden-Commander of Orlais in 8:99 Blessed
- Hafter (dog)
- Isseya: sister of Garahel
- Kell ap Morgan
- Kristoff: former Commander of the Grey of Orlais; not to be confused with the Kristoff of Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
- Loris, a Hero of the Third Blight
- Nakiri, an Ander from the Donark Forest who suggested using blood as a weapon against the darkspawn, inspiring the Joining ritual
- Neriah, Corin's lover who sacrificed her life to save him
- Sophia Dryden, Warden-Commander of Ferelden in 7:5 Storm
- The Warden / The Warden-Commander, Warden-Commander of Ferelden in 9:31 Dragon
- Potential Grey Wardens, depending on player choices:
- Bethany Hawke
- Carver Hawke
- Justice (technically, through Kristoff's Joined corpse)
- Secret Companion
- Nathaniel Howe
- Gregory Dedrick
- Thom Rainier
- Known Warden-Recruits who died taking the Joining:
Known strongholds Edit
- Soldier's Peak (defunct unless The Warden aids Levi Dryden)
- Vigil's Keep (including the surrounding Arling of Amaranthine), granted to the Grey Wardens following the Fifth Blight
- Denerim Compound (possibly closed by Loghain Mac Tir)
- Archive tower in the Korcari Wilds (abandoned)
- Adamant Fortress (abandoned)
- Griffon Wing Keep (abandoned)
- Warden Fortress at Montsimmard
- Facility at Jader
- Valeska's Watch (abandoned)
Free Marches Edit
The heraldry of the Grey Wardens is the "Griffon Rampant", an argent griffon segreant on azure. The Grey Warden Commanders (at least in the time of Sophia Dryden) seem to have their own heraldry as well. The blazon for that charge might be rendered as "two griffons addorsed, wings elevated, maintaining a branch fesswise". On Sophia Dryden's Warden Commander Armor, the charge appears in or on a field sable. The artistic rendition of the charge on the armor is distinct from that seen on the heavier metal shields.
- No Qunari has ever joined the Grey Wardens. There are, however, rumors of several Tal-Vashoth taking the Joining in recent decades.
- Alistair's exposition of the Grey Wardens hearing the Calling thirty years after their joining was something David Gaider regretted adding, since it is "a long time for that time frame." Although it was not really his intention when this was written, he clarified that the number varies.
- Although Riordan is a Warden from Jader, he refers to himself as Senior Warden, not Warden-Lieutenant.
- For some reason, Aveline Vallen's armour bears the Warden heraldry when she becomes Guard Captain.
- Wardens frequently train with weighted bundles of canes, sparring with one another and with pells to build physical strength.
- Many Wardens keep a list of names of those who were lost in the Joining. Those casualties are regarded as being fellow Wardens despite not having survived the rite, and this list of names is cherished and remembered.
- Orlesian Grey Wardens who carry out great deeds are rewarded with the Silverite Wings of Valor. 
- Training within the Order appears to be somewhat class-blind, with Warriors (and likely Rogues) training Mages, for example, and presumably mages training warriors and rogues in various areas as well. Likely there is something each class can learn from the others, regardless of natural abilities.
See also Edit
Power of Blood
Codex entry: The First Blight: Chapter 4
Codex entry: The Grey Wardens
Codex entry: The First Warden
Codex entry: The Grey Wardens
Codex entry: Grey Whiskey/Ritewine/Conscription Ale
Codex entry: In Death
Codex entry: "Oh, Grey Warden"
Codex entry: Regarding the Calling
Codex entry: Warden Ailsa's Diary