“My father often forgot that 'nobility' has another meaning.”
As the eldest son of Rendon Howe, Nathaniel was set to inherit the arling of Amaranthine. Nathaniel, however, had little interest in ruling, and would have preferred a life as a wandering knight over being Arl of Amarathine.
When Nathaniel was young, he idolized his father and grew up hearing stories of his father's heroic exploits during the Fereldan Rebellion. He took great pride in his family's noble history, and spent many hours in the trophy room as a child, fantasizing about the day when he might be big enough to wear his great-uncle's armor, or strong enough to wield his father's swords. As the years passed, and the relationship between his parents worsened, the trophy room became Nathaniel's refuge—a place where he could escape from his miserable family-life.
When Nathaniel was in his early 20's, Rendon decided to send Nathaniel away to be trained in the arts of war. In a rare turn, Rendon actually agreed with his wife when she suggested Nathaniel be squired under Ser Rodolphe Varley, who was her cousin. A trained chevalier, Ser Rodolphe was often seen at the court of the ruling Vael family of Starkhaven. Nathaniel argued vehemently against this decision, wishing to stay at his father's side like his younger brother, Thomas—whom Nathaniel suspected Rendon favored. His arguments were futile, however, and he spent the next 8 years in the Free Marches, serving under Ser Rodolphe.
Ser Rodolphe was a harsh taskmaster with a serious demeanor, who had no tolerance for laziness or mischief. Nathaniel quickly learned that any jokes about his master must be said well out of earshot. Ser Rodolphe's manner caused this to be a dull time for Nathaniel, with little chance for levity or fun. Nathaniel's training as a squire consisted of daily drills, chores, and history and military lessons, which he found extremely boring. Despite Ser Rodolphe's great disapproval, Nathaniel also took up archery, learning the discipline from one of Ser Rodolphe's watchmen. Nathaniel found a much-needed reprieve in archery, and practiced daily.
Two years after becoming a squire, Nathaniel accompanied Ser Rodolphe to Tantervale to attend the Grand Tourney. It was an elaborate event that Nathaniel had only ever read about. The city was bedecked in blue and gold, and the finely dressed people danced and sang in the streets. Nathaniel joined in the grand melee at Ser Rodolphe's request, joining over a hundred warriors in battle against each other. Nathaniel did quite well, managing to beat several knights before being defeated. Though he was disappointed with his performance, Ser Rodolphe was greatly pleased and awarded Nathaniel with a purseful of gold. He promptly spent almost all of it on ales and cake, saving just enough money for a replica of Hessarian's Sword of Mercy and a tiny wind-up toy bronto that played music.
After accidentally wandering onto an archery field during a contest and almost being killed by a stray arrow, Nathaniel challenged the young elven woman who had fired the arrow to an archery contest and won. He would later say that his time at the Grand Tourney was one of the best times of his life.
In the years that Nathaniel spent serving Ser Rodolphe, Nathaniel came to love the Free Marches and its people. Had it not been for the events of the Fifth Blight, he likely would have stayed there indefinitely. News of his father's murder at the hands of the Grey Wardens reached him in Kirkwall, and although the details were vague, the story was clear: Grey Wardens had broken into the Howe family estate and slaughtered Rendon Howe for his treachery, and Vigil's Keep had been seized by the crown and granted to his father's murderers.
Thus the Howe name was forever tainted by Rendon's involvement in the betrayal of King Cailan and the slaughter of almost the entire Cousland family. Nathaniel decided to leave his master, Ser Rodolphe, to spare him embarrassment. Swearing vengeance on the Grey Wardens, Nathaniel booked passage to Amaranthine.
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
Upon returning to Ferelden, Nathaniel broke into his family's former seat of power, the fortress of Vigil's Keep which is now the Grey Wardens' main base in Ferelden. Returning to his old hideaway, the trophy room, Nathaniel had intended only to steal back a few family heirlooms, but he was discovered by the Orlesian Wardens who had come to rebuild the order's presence in Ferelden. Nathaniel was eventually captured, although it took four Wardens to subdue him and imprison him in the Keep's dungeon.
Nathaniel is first encountered by the Warden-Commander still locked in his cell after the Wardens regain control of the keep from invading darkspawn. The Warden-Commander then chooses Nathaniel's fate; Nathaniel may be executed, released, or conscripted into the Grey Wardens. If he is released Nathaniel will leave but later decides that if the Wardens spared him then perhaps the order is not what he thought. He subsequently tracks down the Warden-Commander as they return from their first mission away from Vigil's Keep and asks to be recruited.
Regardless of how he joins the Wardens, Nathaniel's Joining is successful and he becomes a fully fledged Grey Warden. If his approval is raised high enough, Nathaniel will eventually reveal his family already has some history with the Wardens as one of his ancestors, Padric Howe joined the Grey Wardens in the past.
Nathaniel will later encounter his family's former Groundskeeper still working at Vigil's Keep, who will inform him that his sister, Delilah, survived the Blight and is living in the nearby City of Amaranthine. If the Warden-Commander reunites Nathaniel with his sibling, Delilah will affirm that the crimes their father was party to during the blight were his own doing and that he was the architect of their family's fall. With Delilah's testimony Nathaniel finally comes to accept his father's complicity.
If he is brought along to the Blackmarsh, he will reminisce about how as a child he once dreamed of coming to the Blackmarsh and setting things to right. The Warden-Commander may point out that this is in fact exactly what he is now doing.
Nathaniel's ending depends on various actions you take during the game.
- He may retire as a Grey Warden (for thinking it doesn't suit him), but his nephew will eventually become Commander of the Grey, by which the Howe name would once again be known.
- He may save Fergus Cousland from great danger and bring fame to the name of Howe once again. In gratitude, Teyrn Cousland grants some lands back to the Howes, which Nathaniel passes to Delilah's son. When a new castle is built there, a statue of Nathaniel is erected in its courtyard.
- If Nathaniel is selected to defend Vigil's Keep, he will die unless the Keep has been fully upgraded.
Dragon Age II
If imported from an Awakening save where he survived the events, or if you chose either the "Martyr" or "Ruthless" saved profiles, Nathaniel is encountered in Dragon Age II.
Hawke encounters Nathaniel during the quest Finding Nathaniel, part of an expedition into the Deep Roads. He explains to Hawke, who was dispatched by Delilah to find him, that the Primeval Thaig is of great interest to the Wardens, being farther in the Deep Roads than anyone has ever been. However, the Wardens felt it too risky to contact either Hawke or Varric, so the Wardens contacted the latter's brother, Bartrand. If Anders is in the party, they will have additional dialogue with each other and even more if the imported playthrough contained an Awakening epilogue in which he was seemingly killed.If Finding Nathaniel was completed, Nathaniel may later show up to assist Hawke in the final battle against Knight-Commander Meredith, no matter what side was chosen by the Champion.
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
Dragon Age II
- Finding Nathaniel (conditional)
- See the approval page for more information.
It is easy to raise Nathaniel's approval, especially if you are playing a Human Noble Warden. Consoling him, telling him that it was not his fault that the Howe name was dishonored, and basically any conversation choice that is open-minded will ensure that his approval increases dramatically.
Nathaniel has a preference for practical items and artifacts pertaining to his family.
Name Notes Description
Bronze SextantLocated: Wending Wood - CorpseAn instrument used in navigation. Delilah Howe's LettersLocated: Vigil's Keep - Basement Golden VaseThis vase, bearing the Howe family crest, was likely stolen from the keep at some point. Howe BowAn aged but immaculate bow, stamped with the Howe crest. Locksmith's ToolsLocated: Smuggler's CoveImplements for defeating or repairing locks. WhetstoneLocated: Kal'HirolA whetstone to sharpen swords, knives, and daggers.
- As you befriend Nathaniel and gain his approval, he will gain the following additional skills:
Name Benefit Requirement Inspired: Minor Cunning +1 cunning 25% approval Inspired: Moderate Cunning +2 cunning 50% approval Inspired: Major Cunning +4 cunning 75% approval Inspired: Massive Cunning +6 cunning 90% approval
Below are the spots where you can initiate dialogue with Nathaniel. On the PC, it can be hard to find the correct spot to click; make sure to hit "tab" and rotate the camera if it's not letting you click on it.
- City of Amaranthine: statue in front of the Chantry, the spot is called "Statue".
- The Blackmarsh: Near the beginning of the area on the left, the spot is called "The Blackmarsh".
- Vigil's Keep - Throne Room near where Nathaniel usually stands, spot is called "Portrait of a Howe".
- City of Amaranthine near merchants: Delilah.
- Main article: Nathaniel Howe/Dialogue
Penny Arcade comics
- "My grandfather was a Grey Warden. Would he even recognize what the order has become? Would he weep at its dereliction? Or would he draw his blade, point it towards his enemy's heart, and cry, 'Enough.'"
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
- (Upon first meeting him in the keep's dungeon) "If it isn't the great hero, my father's murderer."
- (To the Warden) "I came here to kill you. If you let me go, you might not catch me next time."
- "Curse my father and his idiot ambition. He lost everything for us, didn't he?"
- (To a Human Noble Warden) "Look, I don't know what happened to the Couslands. But from what I hear, it was horrible. The entire war was. But what my father did shouldn't harm my entire family."
- (If the Warden is from another origins) "Look, I know you're a hero. You fought a war and you won. But what my father did shouldn't harm my entire family."
- "The Howes are pariahs now. Those of us who are left."
- "When I was in Kirkwall, I thought I would return to Ferelden to take command of my father's garrison."
- Nathaniel: "You like having Grey Wardens who want you dead?"
- Warden: "Some of my best friends have wanted me dead."
Dragon Age II
- (To Anders, during Finding Nathaniel) "There's no escaping you, it seems."
- (When asked about the Warden-Commander's "allies") "It's... complicated. Let's just say we live in strange times."
- There are two different paternal grandfathers given in lore for Nathaniel Howe: Padric Howe, who left the family after the end of the war to become a Grey Warden,  and Arl Tarleton Howe, older brother of Byron who was hanged by the Couslands during the Orlesian occupation of Ferelden.
- In Origins, Rendon never mentions Nathaniel, even though he mentions his other children, Delilah and Thomas.
- When you first encounter Nathaniel in the Keep's dungeon in Awakening, he is unimpressed by the Warden-Commander, and says "Aren't you supposed to be ten feet tall? With lightning bolts shooting out of your eyes?" This is a variation of a quote from the movie Braveheart in which the above is said when William Wallace rallies the nobles' armies. The difference being the lightning is said to have shot out of William Wallace's arse.
- When you find Nathaniel in the Deep Roads during Act 3 of Dragon Age II and if you spared the Architect in Awakening, you can ask questions that will make Nathaniel mention the Architect and that the Warden's "allies" said it would be safe. This implies that the Architect and his followers are helping the Grey Wardens, which is further solidified if you ask who the allies are which Nathaniel will answer, "No, not dwarves... it's complicated. Let's just say we live in strange times."
- Nathaniel's eyes are different colors between Dragon Age Awakening and Dragon Age II - grey in Dragon Age Awakening and light brown in Dragon Age II; this may be due to a mistake by the developers.
- David Gaider said that if he could write another Dragon Age comic, it would be dedicated to Bethany Hawke starting with that scene in Lothering and ending as a fleeing Circle Mage. He mentioned that he wanted her to adventure with Sebastian Vael in Starkhaven, and maybe Nathaniel Howe.
- "The "Nathaniel Needs Love Too!" Thread" . The BioWare Forum.
- Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 121
- Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 119
- Based on the fact that Nathaniel was 30 in Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening and he spent 8 years in the Free Marches.
- Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 120
- Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, pp. 120-121
- Based on a conversation that triggers in the Blackmarsh, Nathaniel was in Kirkwall when he heard of his father's death.
- Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 122
- Named in Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening, during a conversation between the Warden and Nathaniel inside Vigil's Keep - Throne Room.
- Mentioned again, but not by name, in Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening, a webcomic by Penny Arcade
- Codex entry: The Howes of Amaranthine
- Patrick Weekes. https://twitter.com/patrickweekes/status . Twitter.
- David Gaider. "On Speculative Flights of Fancy" . Tumblr.