The Iron Bull was raised in the schools of Par Vollen by the tamassrans, though he was called Ashkaari, "one who thinks", at the time. He was big and strong for his age and liked to act as a secondary caregiver for his fellow children, reporting to the tamassrans when someone wasn't feeling well or was about to cause trouble. But Ashkaari sometimes got into trouble himself. On one occasion, after he'd eaten all the meat on his plate but left the vegetables untouched, his "Tama" told him that he wouldn't be allowed to go and play until he ate two more things off his plate. Without hesitation, he took two pieces of meat he had hidden in his pocket, placed them upon the plate, ate the two pieces while looking at Tama and ran off to play. This convinced her that Ashkaari would make a poor Qunari soldier, as they needed to be obedient to the spirit of an order as well as the letter. She recommended him for the Ben-Hassrath.
As he began his training, Ashkaari gained a new informal name to set him apart from his peers: Hissrad, "one who creates illusion" or "liar". His early work in Par Vollen involved uncovering smuggling operations, discontented groups considering fleeing the Qun and a Tevinter spy ring, which saw him recognized as a valuable asset. He was recommended for service on the Qunari-held island of Seheron. According to him, the island was "a sack of cats". Incursions from Tevinter, marauding Tal-Vashoth, and native rebels fighting on multiple fronts made life chaotic. The Ben-Hassrath considered two years of active service the maximum time most agents could perform in Seheron before prolonged stress rendered them unable to carry out their duties effectively but Hissrad lasted almost a decade before burning out, rising through the ranks as his superiors broke down or died.
On the eve of his last major battle in Seheron, Bull's unit suffered heavy losses when a friendly Seheron merchant was pressured into poisoning his men. When the same poison was used to kill a school full of children, Hissrad vowed to avenge them. He mounted an assault on a Tal-Vashoth stronghold in the jungle. He lost several more of his men in the fighting, including his longtime friend Vasaad, which sent him in a berserk state. When his surviving soldiers later came back for him with reinforcements, they found him unmoving, covered in wounds and surrounded by the butchered corpses of the Tal-Vashoth warriors. He declared himself unfit for duty and too dangerous to be around civilians, submitting himself to the Ben-Hassrath re-educators.
The Ben-Hassrath reassigned him to Orlais to work undercover, ostensibly as a Tal-Vashoth. He worked for the mercenary company Fisher's Bleeders for several years but Fisher was a mediocre commander and he eventually left, taking several of Fisher's men with him, to form his own mercenary company: the Bull's Chargers. Fisher, angered by this, entered into a brief fight with Bull, but the two ended up talking things over drinks and parted ways peacefully. Bull uses the Chargers to gather information on Orlesian nobles, feeding the intelligence to the Ben-Hassrath. Though he still reports to his old masters, time in Orlais led to something of an identity crisis for him.
He remains in command of the Bull's Chargers, though spends much of his time drinking, lazing about and overindulging - all clear violations of the Qun. Despite his unusually friendly demeanor and lax attitude to his philosophy, The Iron Bull still has a loyalty to the Qun which dies hard. He doesn't proselytize, but neither does he apologize for his way of life.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
The Iron Bull can be recruited upon speaking to a member of his mercenary group who tells the Inquisitor that The Iron Bull is interested in being hired on to the Inquisition. Should the Inquisitor choose to meet up with The Chargers, they will find them at the Storm Coast in Ferelden. It is here where The Iron Bull will admit to working with the Ben-Hassrath, and he will explain that he will be relaying information about the Breach and Inquisition to them at certain points. However, he will also relay information to the Inquisitor as well. If the Inquisitor is Qunari, Iron Bull will laugh and say that he now owes Krem money.
Like most of the companions, hiring The Iron Bull (and the Chargers) is optional. Should the Inquisitor decide to hire him on, he can be found outside of Haven by the stables, and later in the main courtyard in Skyhold near Cassandra, before he eventually winds up in the tavern.Bull later informs the Inquisitor that the Ben-Hassrath recognize the threat Corypheus and his Venatori pose and willing to offer an alliance. To that end, they set up a joint effort to attack a Venatori red lyrium smuggling operation on the Storm Coast. Upon arrival, the party meets with Bull's contact, Gatt, a former elven slave whom Bull recruited on Seheron, who details the plan for a Qunari dreadnaught to ambush the smuggling vessel before it reaches open waters. In the meantime, the Inquisitor, Bull and the Chargers would separately take two hills where the Venatori are stationed so their mages can't sink the dreadnaught. Bull assigns the Chargers what he believed to be "the easy job", but a large Venatori force began advancing on their position. Gatt insisted that the Chargers hold the hill, otherwise the dreadnaught would be destroyed. Bull looks to the Inquisitor to decide whether or not to sacrifice the Chargers. If told to signal the Chargers to retreat, the dreadnaught is destroyed and he is cast out and becomes Tal-Vashoth. If Bull is told to sacrifice the Chargers, the mission ends in success and he remains aligned to the Ben-Hasraath. He is deeply affected by their loss and later collects their remains to give a Qunari rite.
The Iron Bull returns to attend the Exalted Council, two years after Corypheus is defeated.
If the Chargers survived:
The Iron Bull is enjoying drinks with his company at the tavern. The Chargers want to surprise him with a dragon skull as a birthday present. The Inquisitor can help them in this by occupying Bull with dialogue (requires the four 'Knowledge' Inquisition perks), or give up the charade to which Bull reveals he heard them dragging the skull all along.
If brought to the final confrontation at The Darvaarad, Viddasala will plead with 'Hissrad' to rejoin them and orders him to kill the Inquisitor. However, Bull refuses and remains loyal to the Inquisition.
After the Dragon's Breath conspiracy is dismantled, Bull and the Chargers return to taking jobs across Orlais and Ferelden, doing their part to maintain the order for which the Inquisition fought so hard. If he was romanced, he keeps the dragon's tooth charm so that no matter how far his missions take him, he and his Kadan will remain inseparable. If he was in a relationship with Dorian, Bull and Dorian continue meeting in a border-town villa. When Dorian is kidnapped by leftover Venatori, Bull leads the Chargers across the Tevinter border in a dangerous rescue operation, leaving a trail of freed slaves and dead Venatori that enabled Dorian to escape.
If the Chargers were sacrificed:
Bull has fully re-committed to the Ben-Hassrath once again and operates, unbeknownst to the Inquisitor, as a spy for Viddasala. If he is brought to the final confrontation at the Darvaarad, the Viddasala orders him to kill the Inquisitor, which he follows without question, betraying the party and declaring, "Change of plans. Nothing personal, bas." If he was not brought, he will appear through a side door and join his fellow Ben-Hassrath during the fight, saying it was smart of the Inquisitor not to bring him. Neither romance nor high approval will prevent his betrayal and he will have to be killed. Cole will even note that his heart held no regrets over the decision.
During a later conversation with Solas, he will remark upon Bull's betrayal as evidence of the Inquisition's eventual fate. Bull's betrayal also causes Tal-Vashoth mercenaries to be looked on suspiciously, causing their lives to become more difficult. If romanced, many blame the Inquisitor for the Qunari attack.If Bull's personal quest was not completed:
The Chargers are alive and well, but Bull is still a Ben-Hassrath agent, and so he will still betray the Inquisition in the confrontation with the Viddasala.
- Main article: Iron Bull/Approval
Iron Bull's approval can most easily be gained by taking him along on battles. Fighting groups of Venatori enemies will grant slight approval, so keeping him in your party in areas heavy with Venatori will earn you a fair amount of approval quickly. After killing a High dragon, a cutscene will occur after you return to Skyhold where the Inquisitor can have a few drinks with Iron Bull in celebration—approval can be gained there by agreeing with him about dragons and drinking when he prompts you to. Furthermore, killing High Dragons with him in the active party gains great approval.
Iron Bull generally approves of the Inquisition's actions, approval gains from specific events and quests are usually low to moderate; however, there are several instances that will yield Iron Bull Greatly Approves:
- In Hushed Whispers - conscript the rebel mages into service to the Inquisition, rather than make them allies.
- Champions of the Just - ask the templars to join you as free allies.
- Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts - make Gaspard emperor.
- Judgment of Movran the Under- arm and exile Movran and his tribe to Tevinter.
- Killing any high dragon with him in the party.
Iron Bull is a potential love interest for both male and female Inquisitors.
Unlike many of the game's romance options, the Inquisitor's relationship with Bull begins as a physical one instead of a romantic one. After having flirted with Bull enough and having completed his personal quest involving the possible Qunari alliance, speaking to him will trigger a cut scene where the Inquisitor walks into their quarters to find the Bull sitting on their bed. He then tells the Inquisitor that he "got the hints" and knows the Inquisitor wants to "ride the Bull". If the Inquisitor admits this and does not reject him, Bull will proceed with a sexual encounter. The next time the Inquisitor speaks to Bull on the topic of their relationship they can either choose not to pursue further romance with Bull or agree to Bull's ground rules for something similar to a friends-with-benefits arrangement.
In a dialogue option where you ask Bull how "serious" your relationship is, he says that it’s up to you and that he’s fine keeping things casual and light if that’s what the Inquisitor wants. When asked how Qunari show they’re serious about a relationship, Bull explains that Qunari don’t have sex for love but that to show their commitment to an individual they craft matching necklaces out of a dragon’s tooth broken in half, each party wearing half the tooth. “Then, no matter how far apart life takes them, they’re always together.” You’re given a requisition for the necklace, called the “Necklace of Kadan”, and once you have it you can give it to Bull. Before Bull will let you give him the necklace, he will initiate another sexual encounter. After you're finished (but before Bull has dressed), Cullen, Josephine and Cassandra will walk in on you. At that point you can either denounce your relationship with Bull (calling it “just a fling” to save face and ending the relationship), or you can tell the three that you intend to continue relations with Bull. If the latter is chosen your advisors leave you be and you can give the necklace to Bull – in exchange, he calls you “Kadan” (Qunlat: "my heart") From then on, he addresses you primarily as Kadan in conversation.
If the Inquisitor begins a relationship with Iron Bull before killing a High Dragon for the first time, there will be a few extra lines of dialogue at the end of the cutscene in Skyhold where the Inquisitor has celebratory drinks with Iron Bull, where Bull either compliments the Inquisitor's breasts (if female) or bottom (if male). He will also refer to the Inquisitor as "Kadan" during the cutscene, even if he has not yet been given the Necklace of Kadan.
Ability trees Initially selected abilities Weapon and Shield Two-Handed Weapon Battlemaster Vanguard Reaver (specialization)
- Main article: Iron Bull/Dialogue
- "You don't need blood magic or demons to change someone's mind. We're a lot more fragile than we'd like to believe."
- "How many personal freedoms do you figure that baker in Val Royeaux has? Life isn't about freedom."
- (Regarding living by the Qun) "It's like being a block of stone with a sculptor working on you. One day, the last of the crap gets knocked off, and you can see your real shape, what you're supposed to be."
- "Whenever you need an ass kicked, The Iron Bull is with you."
- "I know every soldier under my command. You don't have that option... but a few faces might help."
- "People don't always tell the truth when you're polite. You've gotta poke them a bit."
- "Dragons are the embodiment of raw power. But it's all uncontrolled, savage... So they need to be destroyed. Taming the wild. Order out of chaos. Have another drink."
- "My people don't pick leaders from the strongest, or the smartest, or even the most talented. We pick the ones willing to make the hard decisions... and live with the consequences."
- "Don't get me wrong, I'm sure you're careful and all, but I like my nipples uncauterized, thanks."
- "It's a good thing we brought all these nobles with us. Perhaps the Templars are attracted to shiny objects."
- "You're Tevinter right? Try blood magic."
- Cole: "I like your horns The Iron Bull. But they're dragon horns, not bull horns. You could have named yourself The Iron Dragon."
- Bull: "Oh... Shit. That would have been better."
- Iron Bull was written by Patrick Weekes and designed by Casper Konefal.
- In official promotional material, Iron Bull is described as "The Muscle".
- When comparing Iron Bull to food, Patrick Weekes describes him as "either rump roast for size or chili dog for delicious bad decisions." 
- It was revealed that the Iron Bull was meant to be a race-specific romance due to technical limitations related to him being extremely large and tall. He also originally had dialog that explained why he couldn't romance the Inquisitor. However, the animation team and cinematic designer John Epler were able to fix the issue.
- He is the first Qunari companion who is a romance option for a protagonist in the Dragon Age series.
- According to the character's voice actor, Freddie Prinze Jr., Iron Bull does have a fear of demons, due to their ability to possess people, including Qunari.
- Prinze described Bull's voice as a cross between Disney villain Pete and Winston Churchill.
- Iron Bull is described as humorous, dismissive, and a naturally charismatic leader, but he’s struggling with being a fish out of water.
- Bull's greatest fear is madness.
- During the scene when the player and Bull have sex before giving him the Dragon's tooth as a gift, Bull can be seen with two patterns on his shoulders. It is not currently known if these are tattoos or some kind of Qunari body paint. How he got them also remains a mystery.
- Iron Bull lost his eye saving Krem from a flail blow meant for him when the two first met. He also has a brace on his left ankle and is missing several finger joints on his left hand.
- Iron Bull's name under the Qun, Hissrad, literally means "liar" or "weaver of illusions".
- Originally, the Iron Bull was to be one-handed, and use a prosthetic for his left hand. At one point the prosthetic hand was meant to be a cannon, but the implementation turned out to be too difficult.
- He is pansexual.
- If the Inquisitor doesn't romance Iron Bull or Dorian, the two will have party banter indicating a sexual relationship. If your friendship is high enough with either of them, you can ask them about their relationship before defeating Corypheus. If they are together, Dorian will say at the celebration party that his delayed return to Tevinter might be because of Bull. The romance can still be initiated and recognized in Trespasser so long as the 'about last night' banter between them is triggered.