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Join us, brothers and sisters. Join us in the shadows where we stand vigilant. Join us as we carry the duty that can not be forsworn. And should you perish, know that your sacrifice will not be forgotten. And that one day we shall join you.―The traditional words that begin a Joining

The Joining ceremony at Ostagar

To become part of the Grey Wardens, a recruit must first go through a blood magic[1] ritual called the Joining. It is a test of a recruit's physical constitution and spiritual fortitude. One of the reasons for the small number of Grey Wardens is that few can survive this ritual. Those who live become Grey Wardens, forever connected to the darkspawn, and forever tainted by the blood they have consumed.


The Joining ritual was created in the early days of the Order, during the First Blight. It is unknown exactly how the Grey Wardens developed this ritual, although many theories exist.

Regardless of the truth, the ritual that the first Grey Wardens developed proved to be vital to stop the Blights and ensure the survival of Thedas as a whole.

BioWare canon.png
The following characters, lore and events in this section are non-canon in Dragon Age and exist only within the Dragon Age tabletop RPG.

According to most records, Nakiri of the Donarks was the one who first suggested imbibing the blood of the darkspawn, as his people were known to consume the blood of their enemies to absorb their power. The first Grey Wardens consulted many Tevinter mages, who confirmed that there was power in blood, as blood magic was a common practice in the Imperium at the time. It is also said that elven slaves also contributed ancient knowledge from Arlathan. This was in return for being treated as equals in the order and with the intention that, after the Blight was ended, they would concentrate on freeing the elves.[2]


The ritual and the details about it are kept a strict secret by the Grey Wardens, because during the Joining, the recruits drink from a silver chalice containing a mixture of fresh darkspawn blood and often a single drop of blood from an Archdemon,[3] as well as lyrium and rare herbs magically prepared to make the blood at least remotely possible to consume.[4]

Copies of how to perform the Joining ritual and a supply of archdemon blood are stored away in secret caches. The copies are encrypted as the Grey Wardens believe they should not be seen by outside eyes.[3]

Only those who have a decent chance of surviving the Joining will even be made recruits. As a preliminary test, the recruits are sent to retrieve the darkspawn blood that will be used in the ritual to determine if they have the courage and the skill to become Grey Wardens. Usually, the recruits are accompanied by an experienced Grey Warden during this mission.[4][5]

Becoming a Grey Warden requires a dose of the darkspawn corruption of sufficient potency to have an immediate effect, rather than slowly corrupt the consumer into a ghoul. While Archdemon blood is typically used, since it is one of the rarest substances in all Thedas,[4] blood of other darkspawn creatures can also be magically treated to make it function in the ritual if Archdemon blood isn't available. However, the average darkspawn doesn't have enough of the corruption within it for this to work most of the time.[6] When available, Archdemon blood is granted to veteran Grey Wardens to be used when needed.[4]

A deceased Warden recruit

The darkspawn corruption wrenches at the very core of a recruit's identity, insinuating forever a sense of wrongness in the new Warden. Most candidates die on the spot because of the corrupted blood they had taken.[4][7] Some believe that if an individual harbors doubts about the ritual, or even about their commitment, the Joining may fail as well, and the recruit will die in the attempt.[8] The Wardens have a tradition of honoring their sacrifice by carrying them in their hearts, and by wearing specially crafted amulets to remember those who didn't survive the Joining.[9] Some even write down a list of names, adding "I remember you" after each one.[10][11]

Recruits are given a formal rank within the Order, that of Warden-Recruit, regardless if they survive the Joining or not, just for committing themselves to the Wardens. The names of those recruits who failed their Joinings are kept in the archives of Weisshaupt in honour of their sacrifice.[12]

A recruit to whom the Joining ritual and its ramifications have been explained must go on and continue with the ritual until the end. Those who refuse to drink from the chalice are killed without a doubt by the Grey Wardens overseeing the ceremony to preserve the Order’s secrets.[13]

Grey Warden Abilities[]

The Joining ritual grants Grey Wardens two abilities: they become linked to the darkspawn's hive-mind, which allows them to detect the presence of darkspawn, and they become immune to further corruption by the Blight. Over time, the Grey Warden's ability to sense darkspawn gets stronger but conversely, the darkspawn will also be able to sense them as well. At that point, Grey Wardens may be able to sneak past smaller groups, but larger groups or particularly intelligent darkspawn will always detect them.

Furthermore, Grey Wardens suffer from bad (if occasionally prophetic) dreams, decreased fertility, and shortened lifespans (most Wardens have only thirty years at most after their Joining before the taint consumes them). Many of the Wardens also experience ravenous hunger for a period following the Joining, and some become physically more robust.

As a Grey Warden becomes accustomed to the corruption and the link with the darkspawn, they learn how to block most of the dreams, and some older Wardens even are able to understand the communication between an Archdemon and the darkspawn horde.[14]

Before the Fifth Blight, a few Grey Warden scholars believed that the tainted blood could grant even more incredible powers than just the ability to sense darkspawn, but avoided to further investigate this field of research because the lack of evidence and the fatal implications of such investigation. However, the Grey Warden mage Avernus speculated that applications of energy and blood magic could unlock these powers, and endeavored to replicate the effects alchemically, developing an Alchemical Concoction that can unlock powerful abilities in those who drink it. This investigation was found by the Warden during the Fifth Blight.

This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age II.

If Avernus survived the Fifth Blight and was allowed to continue his research:
The Warden-Commander has been working with Avernus, sending him "supplies" so he may continue his research, as well as sending all the discoveries made by Avernus to the First Warden.[15]

Other uses[]

Some Grey Wardens put their dogs through the Joining, and consider those who survive as members of the Order.[16]

This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Last Flight.

During the Fourth Blight, the Warden mage Isseya used a modified Joining ritual on the Wardens' griffons to improve their performance against darkspawn, ultimately leading to fatal rages in the tainted creatures as well as an ambiguous plague among non-Joined griffons. This lead to a necessary purge of nearly all griffons after the Fourth Blight. A clutch of eggs from the griffons belonging to Amadis Vael and Garahel were cleansed and protected, however, and have recently been rediscovered in the Anderfels by the Grey Wardens.

The Price[]

While most believe that the Joining make the Grey Wardens immune to the "blight sickness," the ritual only slows the effects of the darkspawn corruption. With progression of age the taint will spread, and if the taint advances enough in the Wardens' bodies they start to hear the Call of the Old Gods, begin to transform into ghouls, and worse, they begin to feel the compulsion to join the darkspawn horde. Rather than bolster the enemy ranks, the afflicted Wardens travel to the Deep Roads to seek out an honorable death as part of their Calling.

Role in Ending Blights[]

This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Origins.

An Archdemon can only be killed permanently by a Grey Warden. If killed by a non-Warden, the Archdemon's soul will escape to the nearest darkspawn, who are soulless beings that can be transformed into a new Archdemon, making the tainted dragon practically immortal. However, if a Grey Warden strikes the killing blow, the Archdemon's soul will be drawn into the Grey Warden's body through that Warden's taint — causing the souls of both the Archdemon and Warden to be destroyed. As far as the Grey Wardens know, slaying the Archdemon is the only way to end a Blight and in order to do so a Grey Warden must sacrifice their life.[17] The Grey Wardens keep this information a secret from those who have not passed the Joining since it would greatly hamper recruitment efforts.[18]

The Awakening[]

Main article: The Disciples

This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening.

During his research and experiments with the taint, the Architect discovered that the darkspawn can gain immunity to the Call of the Old Gods, and consequently think for themselves, by ingesting the blood of a Grey Warden. Thanks to blood donated by a Grey Warden named Utha, he was able to reverse-engineer the Joining ritual, creating his own modified version of it that uses Grey Warden blood instead of darkspawn blood.

Although how this modified Joining works is unknown, darkspawn who are submit to it are "awakened". Known as the Disciples, those awakened darkspawn develop their own personalities, with the ability to speak, form opinions, choose for themselves, better strategize, and hold influence over their unconverted brethren. According to the Architect, this is a consequence of acquiring a Grey Warden's resistance to the taint.

Some Disciples were grateful to the Architect for this freedom, but for others losing the bliss of the Call and the Taint was too much.

This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age II.

If Avernus survived the Fifth Blight and was allowed to continue his research:
In his letters to the Warden-Commander, Avernus mentions that the Architect's research has proven invaluable to advance his own research of unleashing the true powers of the Joining.[15]

Notable victims of the Joining[]

Notable victims for refusing the Joining[]


  1. Interview with David Gaider
  2. Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Game Master's Guide, set 2, p. 3
  3. 3.0 3.1 According to Riordan's dialogue during Rescue the Queen
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 151
  5. As seen in the quest Tainted Blood
  6. BSN.png David Gaider (January 9, 2010). "Illegal Wardens all over Ferelden!" . The BioWare Forum. Retrieved on July 14, 2014.
  7. Codex entry: Avernus's Notes
  8. Dragon Age: Last Flight, pp. 154, 167.
  9. According to Alistair's dialogue in the quest After the Joining.
  10. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 119
  11. Codex entry: In Death
  12. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 152
  13. As happened to Ser Jory during the Joining in Dragon Age: Origins
  14. According to Alistair in Dragon Age: Origins.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Codex entry: Grey Warden Letters
  16. Hafter (dog) from Dragon Age: The Calling being an example.
  17. Codex entry: Archdemon
  18. According to Riordan, on the eve of the Battle of Denerim
  19. Dragon Age: Last Flight, p. 164.