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“The only thing that could help them must come from the source of the curse itself, and that... that would be no trivial task to retrieve.” ―Zathrian

Nature of the Beast is one of the four main quest lines in Dragon Age: Origins that must be completed before calling the Landsmeet.


The Dalish elves are being destroyed by a virulent disease which is turning them all into werewolves. The clan keeper, Zathrian, asks for your assistance in ridding them of the curse. He requests that you find the first werewolf, Witherfang, and return with his heart to end the curse destroying his people. The quest takes you through the Brecilian Forest to track down the lead werewolf.

Note: Dalish Elf Wardens will have some significant changes in dialogue during this quest. Also, if Dog is present in your active party, it will growl at Zathrian at the beginning of the dialogue, and Zathrian will express his distaste for canines.


The Dalish Camp[]

When the Warden travels to the Brecilian Outskirts, they will be greeted by Mithra, a Dalish elf leading a patrol. After a brief exchange (nothing to be gained by withholding the truth in this dialogue; let her know you have business with her leader, and that you are a Grey Warden), she will lead the Warden to Keeper Zathrian in the Dalish Camp. He explains that the Dalish elves currently cannot honor the ancient treaties because many of their hunters have been afflicted after they were ambushed by werewolves since they entered this part of the forest.

Zathrian will explain that the lycanthropy spreads like a disease but is linked to its original source: a wolf known as Witherfang and that, with the beast's heart, he may be able to find a cure, which will enable them to join the Warden in the fight against the Blight. The Warden can also ask for a reward in exchange for their help; if the Warden sides with the elves and doesn't cure the werewolves Zathrian will give them Griffon's Beak. Zathrian will also share a few parting tips, for example: Watch for the white wolves, and promptly directs you to his apprentice Lanaya and the clan storyteller Sarel. If pressed about equipment, he will have Varathorn set aside some supplies for you (if you do not ask Zathrian this you can still loot the chest behind Varathorn's wagon and get the same supplies). As you progress through the quest, you can consult Zathrian concerning any new developments.

Note: If Dog is in the party when you first arrive at the Dalish Camp then when the conversation is over Mabari Dominance is active even though you have not examined the Landmark Tent behind Zathrian yet.

The Warden should explore the camp before moving on, to grab the side quests, codex entries, and some spare loot. One locked chest, right next to Zathrian, will trigger angry reactions from the elves if you ignore Lanaya's warnings. The other locked chests can be freely opened however.

  • If fighting werewolves later, have Shale or Dog in the party. Against a party full of people the werewolves will use Overwhelm and kill everyone very quickly. Dog and Shale are immune to this ability. For this reason, along with many others, Shale or Dog make great additions to the party.
  • Varathorn is notable because of his infinite supply of herbs, and the Manual: Shapeshifter he sells.
  • If one kills Zathrian using cone of cold spells etc. then you may not be able to side with the werewolves or Zathrian at the end, meaning you must kill him during later dialogue in the quest. This means Lanaya will become the Keeper. (Xbox confirmed).

West Brecilian Forest[]

Note: As the Warden progresses through the main quest, some wandering groups in this area will be repopulated. Keep your eyes open when backtracking.

After checking out the Dalish Camp, the Warden can use the exit in the eastern side of the area. This will lead the party to a new unlocked area: West Brecilian Forest. The path through the forest is patrolled by groups of wolves, blighted wolves, and werewolves. Along the northwest path from the entrance, the Warden will find a great bear guarding a corpse with some loot and one Andraste's Grace nearby.

In the northern central portion of the map, next to the waterfalls, there is a small island with 3 bridges. All of the paths west of the waterfalls lead here. As the party approaches, three werewolves confront the party. One of them is named Swiftrunner, and will tell the Warden to give up and go back to the Dalish. It is possible to use the Warden's Coercion skill to Intimidate or Persuade Swiftrunner to avoid a confrontation; otherwise they will attack, though they retreat once one has lost 50% health. The dialogue hints that the werewolves have grievances against the Dalish elves, and you will encounter Swiftrunner again multiple times during this quest.

After dealing with Swiftrunner, the Warden can cross the bridge heading eastward across a creek, and fight another group of werewolves. Crossing the next bridge will lead the party to a group composed of darkspawn, some hurlocks, plus an ogre (which drops Silver Cord).

  • Deygan, a Dalish elf, lies seriously wounded just past the encounter with Swiftrunner. See the Wounded in the Forest side quest for details.
  • Just south of the path, where the darkspawn were camped, the Warden can inspect a Mystical Site of Power for the Places of Power quest. There is also a Gravestone that "gives you an uneasy feeling", but for the time being the only option given is to "Leave the tombstone alone". This Gravestone belongs to The Mage's Treasure quest, and cannot be inspected/ activated until another Gravestone is activated - see also the Northern ancient tombstone section below for details.
  • A Pile of Rubble around the same area has an Ox Bone and a Painted Skyball.
  • To the north of this area, the Warden can retrieve a piece of Ironbark from a Fallen Tree, for the Rare Ironbark quest.

The Grand Oak[]

The path splits into a northern branch leading to the North Exit to East Forest (guarded by a wild sylvan), and a southern branch. The latter leads to the South Exit to East Forest (guarded by another group of werewolves, some of the rabid variety), but also to a clearing further South, marked on the map as Grand Oak Clearing. This branch of the path is guarded by a number of wild sylvans, but leads to a friendly sylvan known as The Grand Oak. Amidst the rhymes, the Oak will offer a new quest: recover the stolen acorn from the Mad Hermit (more on this later, see § The Magical Barrier below).

  • The Warden can attack The Grand Oak during this encounter, or later in the questline. The Grand Oak entry has further details.
  • Just south of the Grand Oak, a small bridge gives access to a seemingly abandoned campsite. See West Brecilian Forest for details.
  • A Landmark Tree lies just east of the campsite, up a short ramp. If Dog is in your party, you may use this to activate Mabari Dominance for this area.
  • Meeting the Grand Oak is one of the events in the questline that triggers the spawning of fresh groups of enemies (werewolves and blighted wolves) throughout the Forest.
  • If you kill the Grand Oak, it's place will later be occupied by a group of darkspawn.

East Brecilian Forest[]

Note: As the Warden progresses through the main quest, some of the wandering groups in this area will be repopulated. Keep your eyes open when backtracking.

As mentioned, the Warden can enter the East Brecilian Forest from the West Brecilian Forest via either of two passages. The Northern passage is guarded by a group of werewolves, while the Southern passage is guarded by one wild sylvan (best killed using ranged attacks as companions can get caught in traps surrounding it).

Note: Athras' wife, Danyla is found in the northern passage, just past the werewolves. See Lost to the Curse side quest.

The two Western paths converge at a central crossing, where you'll encounter three wild sylvans. From here, three paths leave in easterly directions:

  • North-East path: leads to the Northern Ancient Tombstone;
  • East path: leads to the Mad Hermit Clearing
  • South-East path: leads to the Magical Barrier

The northeast and east paths are also connected after the respective landmarks. See below for more details on each section.

Note: A Skeleton between the South-East and East paths yields Mythal's Blessing and Codex entry: Mythal: the Great Protector.

The Magical Barrier[]

The southeast passage leads to a misty magical barrier: when the party tries to pass through, a cutscene shows them magically turned around, walking out of the mist in the same location where they entered it. The main quest line (Nature of the Beast) will be updated to reflect that the Warden needs to find a way to cross this barrier (placate the forest or trick it).

There are two main options to achieve this:

  • Side with the Mad Hermit found in the Eastern Forest: He will ask the Warden to kill The Grand Oak, and offers passage through the barrier in exchange.
  • Side with The Grand Oak found in the Western Forest: You will need to retrieve the Grand Oak Acorn from the Mad Hermit and the Oak will give the Warden an Oak Branch that allows passage through the barrier.

If you kill the Grand Oak first and don't have the wood, talk to the hermit, and he will offer to make you 'invisible' by enchanting a Werewolf Pelt, which you probably have since you picked it when killing them along the way. You also cannot kill the hermit (even with forced attack during dialogue with him) and will not find anything in the tree stump, i.e. cannot agitate him to attack you. As he 'teleports' away from your knife attack, Morrigan or Wynne will mention his use of illusions.

  • It is possible to kill both the hermit and the oak tree, by attacking the hermit and running away into the magical barrier and then going to the oak tree and killing the oak, then going back to the hermit who will still be hostile and killing him, but doing this will make it impossible to get past the magical barrier, also making the quest "Nature of the Beast" impossible to complete. You can also side with the Grand Oak by trading for the acorn, return the acorn to the Oak, and then come back to the Hermit and mess with his stump. This will cause the Hermit to attack.
  • For those playing on PC: With the latest patch for PC it is no longer possible to kill both the Mad Hermit and the Grand Oak using the method described above, because you can't leave the area while in Combat Mode, and you will stay in Combat Mode until the Hermit and his Allies are dead. Also, if you run to an Exit after having initiated Combat, the Hermit and his Allies will follow you, you cannot out-run them.
  • If you save before buying the acorn from the Mad Hermit, then buying it, go ahead and reload the save, then go to the Grand Oak. If you talk to the Oak, you will have the choice to give the Oak the acorn, though technically you haven't got it yet, and you can still keep the scarf for side quest.}}
  • If you have completed the Lost to the Curse side quest, you will no longer have the scarf, the hermit will trade for a shiny silver ring, when selecting from the found in the forest option.
Note: Once you pass through the barrier with either the Oak Branch or Magical Werewolf Pelt, the barrier disappears. Selling the staff and any leftover Werewolf Pelts does not impact venturing to the next area.

Northern ancient tombstone[]

The northeast path has several bears. Past them, the clearing in front of the ruins in this area is guarded by two ogres.

  • This is referred to as the Northern Ancient Tombstone since there are two landmarks in this section of the Forest marked as Ancient Tombstone on the map. The second one is found past the magical barrier, further south, and is referred to as the Southern Ancient Tombstone.
  • Among the piles of rubble and corpses in this clearing, there is a Gravestone, similar to the one found in the Western Brecilian Forest. Inspecting it, the Warden will find that "the air seems unnaturally cold around this ancient tombstone. Runes of warding are carved into the surface". If the Warden chooses to "Disturb the Wards", then The Mage's Treasure quest is added to the journal (if you didn't already start it), the Codex entry: Legend of the Juggernaut is unlocked, and the party will be attacked by a Revenant and his undead minions.
  • Once the Mage's Treasure quest is obtained, if the Warden has received the Thy Brother's Killer quest, and leaves the Eastern Brecilian Forest, a group of maleficar will spawn in the Northern Ancient Tombstone Clearing (towards the eastern-most path that leads to the Mad Hermit clearing).
  • On the path between the Northern Ancient Tombstone Clearing and the Mad Hermit Clearing, the Warden can find Aneirin, for the Wynne's Regret quest.
  • You can find a Steel Spiked Collar for Dog on one of the corpses.

The Mad Hermit[]

When the Warden approaches the Mad Hermit's clearing, he will teleport in the middle of the camp, swinging fists to the empty air, dancing and overall being faithful to his name. Engage him in dialogue, and he'll offer to help you reach the center of the Forest if you kill the Grand Oak in the Western Brecilian Forest and provide him with a Werewolf Pelt. The Warden has now various options, as described in the Mad Hermit entry, to receive the help they require to cross the magical barrier in the forest. They all involve a trip back to the Grand Oak so, keep your eyes open for newly spawned patrols in the forest.

  • If you kill the Mad Hermit, his camp will later be occupied by bandits, and a group of darkspawn will appear by the southern Ancient Tombstone.
  • There is a Landmark Tent where Dog can activate Mabari Dominance, as well as a nearby locked chest.
  • The Hermit may become hostile if you stick your hand in the tree stump. It is possible to retrieve a Golden Ring (+1 constitution) from here.
Note: Once you passed through the Magical Barrier (using either the Magical Werewolf Pelt or the Oak Branch) to reach the center of the forest and the ruins, you can no longer trade with the Hermit, nor can you agitate him into attacking you by rummaging through the tree stump.

Southern ancient tombstone[]

On the other side of the Magic Barrier, the Warden will encounter Swiftrunner once again. The dialogue may lead to more unanswered questions about the conflict between the Dalish elves and the werewolves, but will also lead to an unavoidable fight with Swiftrunner and 3 rabid werewolves. When Swiftrunner's health gets too low, Witherfang will make an appearance, and bring the fighting to an abrupt end, allowing Swiftrunner to flee. Just ahead lies the Southern Ancient Tombstone.

Note: Near the ruins, the Warden will find a Pile of Rubble (yielding an Onyx Demon Statuette), a couple of locked Chests, and one of the Gravestones for The Mage's Treasure quest.

Past the Southern Ancient Tombstone the Warden will have a brief encounter with another named werewolf, the Gatekeeper, and a couple of his aides. They will run away before the Warden can do anything, but drop a hint about a "Lady" to be protected. Beyond this point lies the entrance to the Brecilian Ruins.

Note: This may be a good time to clear out your inventory; players have reported requiring over 100 empty inventory slots to pick up every item. If you backtrack to the Dalish Camp, watch out for enemies that may have spawned since you cleared the area.

Brecilian Ruins[]

The ruins in the Brecilian Forest include two levels leading to the werewolves' lair.

Note: Leaving the area or entering the ruins will trigger the spawning of new enemies in the forest behind you; the first time you return or leave the ruins the Warden will face a large group of darkspawn (hurlocks and genlock alphas).

Ruins Upper Level[]

Map-Ruins Upper Level

Map of the Ruins Upper Level

The Warden enters this level from the eastern corridor, in a large room where a couple of werewolves give the party their own brand of welcome. The stairs leading down and north-ward from this room lead to the Lair of the Werewolves, the Warden's objective. Unfortunately, the door is barred and to reach the lair the Warden will have to travel the long way through both the upper and lower level of the ruins to find a second entrance (your quest log will update, telling you that you need to find an alternative path).

Note: * The Upper Ruins have 3 secret doors. They look like bricked-up arches, but once the controlled party member gets close enough, they are recognized for what they are. Loot and enemies are found behind the doors, and sometimes multiple doors are connected so that opening one will open a second door (behind the party).
    • The doors are located just prior to reaching the downward staircase and tree roots.
  • The two secret doors are found on either side immediately upon entering the Upper Ruins. A locked chest is located through the left-side secret door, looting it yields a letter needed for the Correspondence Interruptus side quest.
  • The third secret door is on the left side of the large room just after the stairwell and tree roots.
  • There are multiple traps located throughout the ruins, it is recommended to have a rogue up front in order to detect them.

The only way is beyond the door facing west, where the Warden will meet giant spiders and Web Traps. Straight ahead, and to the north the Warden will find a couple of small rooms with columns, some Piles of Rubble and Cocoons. The party should follow the south branch, which leads downstairs. As you descend, you'll hear the sound of a large creature in the distance, along with an auto-save, as well as nervous comments by your companions. At the bottom you'll enter a larger room with a few corpses lying around and a round mosaic in the center. There are a number of traps surrounding the mosaic. When you cross the mosaic, a Dragon will swoop down and attack. If the party includes a character that can disable traps, some of them can be disarmed before starting the fight with the Dragon.

Note: * There are four (4x) invisible square pressure plates on the mosaic and two (2x) more around it, and when stepped upon, these traps will unleash fireballs.
  • If you avoid the mosaic and cross the room up against the north or south wall then the Dragon will not appear. You can still raid the Dragon Hoard.

The Dragon may drop a generic armor chest piece. The corpses, chests, and the Dragon Hoard in the room will make up for it. The Hoard will yield Falon'Din's Reach (unlocking Codex entry: Falon'Din: Friend of the Dead, the Guide) and a Silver Medallion, along with a large selection of gems, potions, and gold. At the end lies the stairs to the Lower Ruins.

Lower Ruins[]

Map-Lower Ruins

Map of the Lower Ruins

The Warden enters this level from the northern path in the middle of the map. The first thing the companions are likely to notice is a ghostly elf just ahead of the group. The spirit will move away as the party approaches, but a group of undead (skeletons and corpses) will raise up and attack. The two side rooms just ahead hold more skeletons, and the passage beyond that (just before the collapsed portion) contains web traps and more spiders.

The collapsed corridor will force the Warden to a detour eastward, leading to a larger room with a round mosaic in the center. After encountering a ghostly boy, a large group of skeletons will ambush the companions here. Check the south side room for a sarcophagus that yields a Fancy Scroll and a Carved Elven Tablet.

Note: As the party enters the larger room, the spirit of a young elvish boy will be walking around the mosaic, apparently looking for his mother. This spirit is linked to The Mage's Treasure quest; the Tablet found in the sarcophagus nearby is also linked to a sub-quest, The Elven Ritual, which will be added to the quest journal when picked up.

The group should continue east, and turn southward at the end of the corridor (or northward to complete The Elven Ritual and subsequently The Mage's Treasure quests). A group of skeletons will be waiting at the bottom of a flight of stairs. Once the group is defeated, a larger group of skeletons will spawn around the party.

Note: The room at the bottom of these stairs holds a Phylactery and a Broken Stone Altar, both related to the Unlocking of the Arcane Warrior specialization.

At the next crossing, the party will meet 2 groups of undead (one from the side room to the east, the other from the corridor up ahead), while a third group waits behind the closed door to the West. The main path lies beyond that door.

Note: The southbound stairs lead to a small room with a Glass Phylactery linked to The Black Vials quest.

Approach this door with care, since the large room behind holds many enemies (mostly skeletons), and a very large amount of traps (5 Pressure Plates surround you as soon as you step through the door, just to get you started). Keep the group from entering the door, and pull the skeletons to you (they have archers so you may have to run behind a corner to force them closer, or close the door after getting their attention). If the party can disarm traps, do so between pulling groups; otherwise walk carefully each party member past the door and hugging the wall. A stealth rogue with Combat Stealth can scout ahead and disable all the plates. A mage with area of effect or missile defense spells would be effective here. The skeleton groups and traps don't stop right past the door, so keep an eye on the movement of your companions.

Note: In the southern wing of the room, the Warden can inspect an Adventurer's Corpse to find an Adventurer's Journal associated with the Unbound side quest.

Once the room is disarmed and skeletons are eliminated, the party can move through the door on the west side, into the corridor that was beyond the collapsed section at the beginning of the level. A Metal Door (and an Auto-Save) lies ahead, leading to the largest room of the Lower Ruins. Skeletons of all kinds will greet the Warden past this point. Once the initial groups are dealt with, the party can descend the first flight of stairs into this enormous room. Don't let the statues and paraphernalia distract you, because an arcane horror will spawn as soon as the Warden gets close enough.

The arcane horror will teleport from one corner of the room to another at regular intervals if someone tries to attack it at melee, making the fight difficult. At the same time, a large number of skeletons from the surrounding balconies and ancillary passages will pour into the room and attack the party.

  • It's often safest to attack the arcane horror with ranged weapons from atop the stairs. It will only counter with Spirit Blast against ranged attackers; or not at all if you have a long enough range weapon (e.g., range 50+ staff), stand on the stairs, and leave the arcane horror in the corner where it first appears.
  • The skeletons will eventually wander into the large room after a time if you remain atop the stairs.
  • You can remove its ability to teleport by having a party member stand on each of the 4 pads at the same time.

The arcane horror will drop a pair of Ashen Gloves among other things. More loot can be found down the flight of stairs facing south from this room (a sarcophagus holds Ancient Elven Armor unlocking Codex entry: Ancient Elven Armor and a Legacy White Shear). One of the chests has a lock difficulty of Very Hard (60 XP)—it can be opened if you have a character with Device Mastery technique and at least 24 points of cunning—it doesn't contain important loot though, thus it isn't a big loss if you can't open it.

A few more skeletons await the Warden on the path heading north from this room, but the entrance to the Werewolf Lair is just past them.

Lair of the Werewolves[]

Map-Lair of the Werewolves

Map of the Lair of the Werewolves

The Warden enters the Werewolf Lair through a passage in the Lower Ruins, arriving into the northern-most room of the level, a small safe area separated from the main room ahead by a door (the corpses can be looted for Corpse Gall). Beyond the door, a large group of werewolves, including shadow werewolves, stand guard and will attack as soon as the Warden opens the door.

Shadow werewolves use stealth and will try to Overwhelm your companions. Once this group is defeated, the party can explore the large room ahead: be careful of traps and more werewolves (including hidden shadow werewolves) just ahead. The companions can use the barricades for cover and to lure the werewolves closer when the party is ready. The flights of stairs to the sides may yield some loot, but lead nowhere. The only option is to move forward and down the stairs headed south.

Past the door at the bottom of these stairs, the party will meet the Gatekeeper accompanied by three other werewolves. He has been sent by The Lady to offer an opportunity to parley. If the party agrees to parley, he will take them to the Lady of the Forest. The alternative, of course, is to attack the werewolves. If you fight the Gatekeeper, more werewolves will join him from adjacent rooms (total of 7 ordinary, 4 rabid, and 2 shadow), resulting in a very tough battle. Against 13 enemies who can chain knockback and Overwhelm your party, it is best that you have a lot of AoE damage at your disposal, so that you can take them out quickly. Other than that, a good tactic is to retreat back to the stairs outside the entrance door.

There is a glitch at the door threshold that prevents the AI from pathing through it. On PC, you cannot order your party to move to the other side of the door by clicking in the area; you have to take control of each party member and manually move them with the keyboard, one by one. This glitch prevents the werewolves from simply rushing after the party, allowing you to deal with one or a few of them at a time.

If Shale is in the party and you agree to parley she wonders what the point is of speaking with the werewolves.

  • If you can persuade Ico Appr Heart Shale approves (+4).
  • If you let Shale change your mind Ico Appr Heart Shale approves (+2) and the werewolves attack.
  • If you tell Shale that you need to find Witherfang Ico DisAppr Heart Shale disapproves (-5).
  • If you tell Shale to stop questioning you Ico DisAppr Heart Shale disapproves (-15).

If Wynne is in the party and you refuse to parley she objects.

  • If you can persuade Ico Appr Heart Wynne approves (+1).
  • If you tell her you won't risk talking with the werewolves Ico DisAppr Heart Wynne disapproves (-1).
  • If you let Wynne change your mind Ico Appr Heart Wynne approves (+4).

At this point, the Warden has choices about how the quest line will be completed.

Note: If the Warden decides to parley, the Gatekeeper will let the party through to the next room via a cut scene. Be sure to return to this room (and, explore its side rooms) after the next set of interactions or conclusion of the main quest, in order to pick up a Scroll of Banastor and a revenant phylactery, part of The Black Vials quest.

The Warden's choices[]

There are three possible outcomes that can be achieved from this point forward, based on choices made in the remaining encounters. Each outcome can be achieved with varying degrees of finesse and approval changes.

  1. Side with the elves and Zathrian, and attack the werewolves. The elves are cured and will honour the treaties and help battle the Blight.
  2. Side with the werewolves and attack Zathrian. The werewolves will help battle the Blight. The elves are not cured.
  3. Side with the elves and the werewolves. The curse is lifted and the werewolves become human. The elves are cured, will honour the treaties, and will help battle the Blight.
Note: Siding with the elves or with the werewolves is easy to achieve. Siding with both requires specific conditions described below, and can be easy to overlook. Saving the game before encountering the Lady of the Forest and separate save before later meeting Zathrian is recommended.

The conversation with The Lady of the Forest will explain the origin of the conflict between the werewolves and the Dalish elves: Zathrian cursed (into werewolf form) a group of human settlers who had murdered his son and raped his daughter. The werewolves currently in the forest are not the original criminals, but unfortunates who wandered into the forest since. The Lady asks the Warden to bring Zathrian to the chamber so they may talk.


Refuse to bring Zathrian[]

On initial parley with the Lady, refuse to bring Zathrian to her and decide to find Witherfang 'the hard way'.

  • If Alistair is in the party Ico DisAppr Heart Alistair disapproves (-3).
  • If Zevran is in the party Ico DisAppr Heart Zevran disapproves (-3).

The Lady transforms into Witherfang, who attacks along with Swiftrunner and 8 werewolves. Witherfang's howl ability can knock you down so avoid her until you kill Swiftrunner and the werewolves. If the Gatekeeper is left alive, he will attack with 3 werewolves after Witherfang's group is dealt with.

Obtained from Witherfang's corpse:

Heart of the Forest Heart of the Forest (automatically added to inventory)
Heart of Witherfang Heart of Witherfang
Expert Cold Iron Rune Expert Cold Iron Rune

Search this area before taking the exit to the east. Go south up the stairs; Zathrian is waiting in the next room. He thanks you for getting Witherfang's heart and apologizes for lying to you. No matter what you say he says he should get back to the Dalish Camp and invites you to come with him (if you say you'll find your own way back, he says he is not letting the heart out of his sight, and you are automatically taken to the Dalish Camp with him and not given the opportunity to kill Zathrian and deal with Lanaya instead).

Note: In this plot line (vs. siding with him and killing the werewolves, see below), Zathrian states that he is the only one who can use the wolf's heart to cure the hunters. Thus, you cannot kill him, since he mentions that there will be no Dalish support for the Blight.

At the Dalish Camp Zathrian tells you that the heart has cured the hunters. He pledges the elves' support to fight the Blight.

Even if you didn't ask for a reward, Zathrian gives you one. You receive:

Griffon's Beak Griffon's Beak

Agree to bring Zathrian[]

She shows you an exit to the surface to the east (you can first search this room). When you are ready to see Zathrian take the door to the east. Find Zathrian; he explains that the Lady is actually Witherfang and shows no remorse for creating the curse. He says he will only go to see the Lady if you safeguard him from harm.

  1. Offer Zathrian your protection, or say you don't think it will come to that. He agrees to speak with the Lady.
  2. Refuse Zathrian your protection. You have to agree to kill the werewolves.
    • If Morrigan is in the party Ico Appr Heart Morrigan approves (+2)
    • If Shale is in the party Ico Appr Heart Shale approves (+4)

Return to the Lady of the Forest with Zathrian. During their conversation, the Lady reveals that Zathrian used his own blood to create the curse. Because of this, as long as the curse remains, Zathrian also remains alive. His death will not end the curse, however.

Side with Witherfang[]

Curse Lifted

Curse Lifted

When Zathrian meets the Lady of the Forest, he will eventually say "See? They turn on you as quickly. Do what you have come here to do, Grey Warden, or get out of my way."

"You'll end that curse if I have to force you myself!"

  • If Alistair is in the party Ico Appr Heart Alistair approves (+2)
  • If Leliana is in the party Ico Appr Heart Leliana approves (+6)
  • If Morrigan is in the party Ico Appr Heart Morrigan approves (+2)
  • If Oghren is in the party Ico DisAppr Heart Oghren disapproves (-5) (this also happens if you tell Zathrian "I don't care, Zathrian. I won't help you do this."
  • If Shale is in the party Ico Appr Heart Shale approves (+4)
  • If Sten is in the party and you had told Zathrian that you would kill the werewolves to get him to meet with Witherfang but told the Lady of the Forest that you don't support him and just made sure he came Ico Appr Heart Sten approves (+2)

Zathrian attacks and summons 2 greater shades and 3 wild sylvans. During this fight Witherfang, Swiftrunner and the werewolves are paralyzed. A dispel magic effect (e.g., from Cleanse Area or Dispel Magic) can dispel the paralysis, allowing Witherfang and the werewolves to attack Zathrian (this may crash the game [confirmation needed] ). Mana Clash is particularly effective against Zathrian.

Zathrian's available spells include:

Misdirection Hex Misdirection Hex
Vulnerability Hex Vulnerability Hex
Winter's Grasp Winter's Grasp
Cone of Cold Cone of Cold
Blizzard Blizzard
Shock Shock
Chain Lightning Chain Lightning
Blood Magic Blood Magic
Blood Wound Blood Wound

Aside from dispelling the paralysis on Witherfang and the werewolves, the most effective strategy here is to focus fire on Zathrian, ignoring all other enemies, since the fight is ended when his health reaches 0. Glyph of Neutralization may be used to interrupt his casting briefly, but will result in him using Blood Magic (as with most enemy mages encountered in the game), which simply adds Blood Wound, an extremely dangerous spell, to his toolbox. Alternatively, another good strategy is to have the entire party quickly run into one of the side hallways to the left and right of the map. Zathrian always casts Blizzard into the middle of the room, and this will prevent him from chasing after the party. The wild sylvans will also take heavy damage from the blizzard because of their low movement speed. This should give you time to take out the two shades, then the wild sylvans if they are still alive. During this time, Zathrian will simply attack the paralyzed werewolves in the room.

After the fight, Zathrian will agree to lift the curse, sacrificing himself and the Lady of the Forest (Zathrian's body disappears). The werewolves transform back to humans and leave the forest.

  • If Wynne is in the party Ico Appr Heart Wynne approves (+7) (this does not happen until after the curse is lifted).

Obtained by asking Swiftrunner for a reward:

Swiftrunner's Shield Swiftrunner's Shield

You may also decide to double-cross the ex-werewolves and attack them, even after getting a reward.

Return to the Dalish Camp. Lanaya, the new Keeper, tells you that "the curse is over, and no one else will be subjected to it." She pledges the elves' support to fight the Blight.

Note: Even though the werewolf curse is lifted amiably, Lanaya will mention the use of 'the wolf's heart' to cure the hunters, when talking to her at the Dalish camp; almost exact words from Zathrian.

Side with Zathrian[]

  • If Leliana is in the party Ico DisAppr Heart Leliana disapproves (-10); if persuaded successfully, Disapproves (-3)
  • If Morrigan is in the party Ico Appr Heart Morrigan approves (+2)
  • If Morrigan is in the party and you told Zathrian upstairs that you would kill the werewolves and you immediately tell The Lady that you support Zathrian ("I do. I came for the heart, and that's it.") Ico Appr Heart Morrigan approves (+4)
  • If Oghren is in the party Ico Appr Heart Oghren approves (+4)
  • If Shale is in the party she says Zathrian is responsible:
    • If you tell Shale to shut up and do as she's told Ico DisAppr Heart Shale disapproves (-20)
    • If you can persuade you may be able to convince her that we're here for allies.
    • If you tell Shale she's right then you side with Swiftrunner Ico Appr Heart Shale approves (+2)
  • If Wynne is in the party she says we cannot support Zathrian:
    • If you tell her to do as you say or leave Ico DisAppr Heart Wynne disapproves (-15)
    • If you can persuade you may be able to convince her that this is not our fight.
    • If you agree with her and tell Zathrian to end the curse then you side with Swiftrunner Ico Appr Heart Wynne approves (+2)

The Lady transforms into Witherfang and attacks along with Swiftrunner and 8 werewolves. Attack Swiftrunner and the werewolves before attacking Witherfang; Zathrian can keep Witherfang busy for most of the fight, but he may use Cone of Cold and may accidentally freeze you.

You get (from Witherfang's corpse):

Heart of Witherfang Heart of Witherfang
Expert Cold Iron Rune Expert Cold Iron Rune

Zathrian takes Witherfang's heart and thanks you. If you ask, he tells you that if he had died, Lanaya knows how to use the heart to cure the hunters. Zathrian says he should get back to the Dalish Camp and invites you to come with him.

  1. Stay and explore; he leaves saying that he will talk to you when you return to the Dalish Camp.
  2. Return to the Dalish Camp with Zathrian.
  3. Double-cross Zathrian and attack him. Zathrian attacks, and he summons 2 greater shades and 3 wild sylvans (Mana Clash is particularly effective against Zathrian).

Return to the Dalish Camp. Zathrian or Lanaya (if you killed Zathrian) tells you that the heart has cured the hunters and pledges the elves' support to fight the Blight.

If Zathrian is still alive then you get:

Griffon's Beak Griffon's Beak

Kill Zathrian and the elves[]

If you can persuade, you may be able to convince the Lady to kill Zathrian and the elves (requires Expert Coercion).

Note: This is the only way to get a werewolf army instead of a Dalish elf army, but it also means you have to kill the Dalish elves, including Varathorn, the only merchant that sells unlimited Deathroot, Elfroot and Toxin Extracts.
  • If Morrigan is in the party Ico Appr Heart Morrigan approves (+4).
Note: If you let Wynne or Zevran change your mind then you still get Morrigan's Approval change.
  • If Wynne is in the party she thinks you are mad:
    • If you tell her it's no less than Zathrian deserves Ico DisAppr Heart Wynne disapproves (-5).
    • If you tell her to back off Ico DisAppr Heart Wynne disapproves (-15).
    • If you can persuade you may be able to convince her that you're here to fight the darkspawn, not to help the elves Ico DisAppr Heart Wynne disapproves (-3).
    • If you agree with her Ico Appr Heart Wynne approves (+1) and you have to either agree to bring Zathrian or refuse to bring him.
  • If Zevran is in the party he asks if you're truly going to do this.
    • If you tell him that he's going to help he says his mother was Dalish and begs you not to do this.
      • If you tell him it's already done Ico DisAppr Heart Zevran disapproves (-15).
      • If you agree with him Ico DisAppr Heart Zevran disapproves (-1) and you have to either agree to bring Zathrian or refuse to bring him.
      • If you can persuade you may be able to convince him this is the best way Ico DisAppr Heart Zevran disapproves (-5)
    • Otherwise he says his mother was Dalish and begs you not to do this.
      • If you tell him it's already done Ico DisAppr Heart Zevran disapproves (-10)
      • If you agree with him Ico Appr Heart Zevran approves (+4) and you have to either agree to bring Zathrian or refuse to bring him.
      • If you can persuade you may be able to convince him this is the best way.

You appear at the Dalish Camp with the Lady, Swiftrunner, and the werewolves. Zathrian approaches to talk but no matter what you say he refuses to lift the curse. You have to fight Zathrian, Mithra, Lanaya, and all the elves in the camp.

Zathrian likes to use cold spells (Cone of Cold and Blizzard) so avoid him—let Witherfang fight him—and focus on the other elves first (Mana Clash is particularly effective against Zathrian).

You get (from elven corpses):

Magister's Staff Magister's Staff
Keeper's Ring Keeper's Ring
Dalish Longbow Dalish Longbow
Varathorn's Dar'Misu Varathorn's Dar'Misu
Elfrope Elfrope
24Silver 80Bronze

The Lady of the Forest and the werewolves will pledge to fight the Blight.


  • 1250 XP - upon receiving either the Magical Werewolf Pelt or the Oak Branch
  • 1500 XP - upon completion of this quest at the Dalish Camp by getting army support for the Blight, either from Zathrian/Lanaya and the Dalish elves or from The Lady of the Forest and the werewolves

Siding with the Dalish elves

Griffon's Beak Griffon's Beak - from Zathrian

After the curse is lifted

Swiftrunner's Shield Swiftrunner's Shield - from Swiftrunner


  • If you sided with the elves, all the ailing Dalish hunters are cured once you return to camp. Zathrian (or Lanaya, if he died) will honor the Grey Warden treaties and pledge the Dalish army to help you battle the Blight. At this point, Emissary Caron will appear in your Party Camp and you can turn in crafting materials to the Dalish army. If Zathrian did not lift the curse (and wasn't double-crossed), he will later appear in Redcliffe Castle prior to the Final Onslaught, and will fight alongside you against the Archdemon.
  • If instead you convinced the werewolves to kill the elves, the werewolves will pledge themselves to help you battle the Blight. At this point, Emissary Bulfa will appear in your Party Camp and you can feed him a single nug (though no caged nugs are actually removed from your inventory). After Arl Eamon recovers, Cassian will also be located in the Redcliffe Castle as he and his group were sent ahead by the Lady of the Forest. The Lady herself will later appear in Redcliffe Castle prior to the Final Onslaught, and Swiftrunner will fight alongside you against the Archdemon.
Note: Of course, this will also mean you lose access to the only infinite source of elfroot, deathroot and toxin extracts in the game, Varathorn. So stock up in advance if you intend to follow this path, or download an appropriate mod that replaces Varathorn with a werewolf merchant that can accomplish the same thing.
  • If you chose to side with both and convinced Zathrian to sacrifice himself and lift the curse, the humans will disperse and the elves will honor the treaties. All werewolves that have not been slain will also be removed from the Werewolf Lair and the Brecilian Forest, except from the East Brecilian Forest.

Regardless of how you completed this quest, you can now freely open the chest by the Keeper's aravel to obtain the Song Book, which grants Codex entry: In Uthenera. ps3PS3pcPC It's not possible to open this chest if you slaughter the elves (chest is no longer interactive), but Leliana will sing the song in camp anyway.

The next time you enter the middle of the West Brecilian Forest (north from the entrance, then straight across the bridges by the waterfall), you will be confronted by Panowen (whose husband was slain by the werewolves) and several Dalish hunters. If you lifted the curse or sided with the werewolves, she will attack you unless you can persuade her that Zathrian was to blame (in which case she gives you the Silverleaf ring). If instead you killed the werewolves, she will thank you and bestow the ring as a reward.

And lastly, the next time you speak with Leliana at the party camp, she will sing "In Uthenera".

Note: Remember to return to the Werewolf Lair after completing this quest to pick up the remaining loot. There are several locked chests that can give you XP, plus you can kill some "friendly" werewolves with AOE spells (if you sided with them) for even more XP.

Side quests[]

There are four side quests that can be taken in the Dalish Camp once Nature of the Beast has been started. Some of them cannot be completed after resolving the werewolf/elf conflict. Obviously, none of them can be completed if you side with the werewolves (as all the elves will be dead).

Cammen's Lament Cammen's Lament - ends upon return to camp with Cammen stating he will find his own pelt if you did not visit Cammen prior to ending the curse. This quest is easily completed with two ranks of coercion skill during your first encounter with Cammen prior to entering the Brecilian Forest.
Elora's Halla Elora's Halla - can be completed at any time.
Lost to the Curse Lost to the Curse - speak to Danyla's husband before entering the Forest; completed by discussing her fate with him upon your return. If you have not yet met Danyla before convincing Zathrian to lift the curse, she will be removed from the Forest where she normally appears. You can then speak with Athras and he can be sent to search for her, thereby closing the quest.
Rare Ironbark Rare Ironbark - begin this before you enter the Forest; it will remain open after completing the main quest.

Codex objects[]

(Note: any of the main entries may have been unlocked elsewhere before entering the Brecilian Forest.


  • When you first arrive at the Dalish Camp, if you tell Mithra "Very well. I'll go back the way I came." and Alistair is in the party then he will tell her that you are Grey Wardens, leading to the same dialogue you get if you had told her that yourself.
    • But if Alistair is not in the party when you say this then she tells you to leave, the conversation ends, and you get the World Map. If you select the Dalish Camp here then you appear west of Mithra; if you walk towards her the conversation will restart, and you must say something different.
  • With regards to the difference in experience earned between the different ways to end this quest, the difference appears to be about 3200 experience with monsters between levels 15-17 using the zFCR creature rescale mod that modifies the ranks of many mobs in the game (it is unclear how much this affects experience earned). The option that gives the least experience is talking your way past the Gatekeeper, and ending the curse, killing only Zathrian during the battle that ensues. Slaying everything (including Zathrian) naturally ends with the most experience earned. The slaying everything approach also allows you to kill the Gatekeeper and his guards while talking your way past him initially (although the 3 Werewolves that he initially starts with may be bugged). The difference will be less at a lower level and with vanilla creature ranks. The difference in experience amounts to about 12% of the experience bar at level 22.
  • Stealing from the Hermit's tree stump will result in him turning hostile, forcing you to kill him. However, you can actually steal the acorn this way (if you didn't trade for it), so the quest can be continued.
  • When you find the Arcane Warrior phylactery, it will begin vibrating. If you say, Nah, you may have a use later, it will stop vibrating & the light will go away. However, you still get to choose the Specialization. On the Xbox, the Phylactery might remain clickable without being usable.
  • When agreeing to find Zathrian, before you leave you may be able to kill the werewolves surrounding the Lady of The Forest with the exception of Swiftrunner, this can be accomplished by casting a 4th tier area of effect spell like Inferno, you'll get extra experience and loot without actual battle (however doing so will also result in a lack of support in the battle against Zathrian as they are all dead. (tested on PC, patch 1.02)
  • Some players prefer to side with the Elves because of their strong bow attack, which the werewolves lack. mages & templars (and even golems, from Branka) offer some ranged support, but none are as powerful as the Dalish army.
  • If you choose to kill or free the werewolves from their curse you can return to the east woods to find an elf looking for the werewolves to avenge her husband's death. This is Panowen, as mentioned above. She will be hostile towards you and will admit to wanting to continue hunting them down even if they were turned back to humans. You can talk her down with persuasion and in return she will give you an item (Silverleaf ring).
  • Unsurprisingly, if you open Varathorn's equipment chest before actually asking him about it, he comments on you looting through things before you know you can have them, but this has no known negative effects on your interactions with him or the rest of the Dalish.
  • It seems that if you destroy all your Werewolf Pelts and killed the Grand Oak before you pass through the magical barrier, you are unable to continue this quest and since it is a main quest, you cannot complete the game as well. Aside from loading a previous save, other solutions would be to use the Console and jump to another area or use an unofficial mod and manually add a werewolf pelt in your inventory.
  • If the Warden is of Dalish Origin, they will be granted by Zathrian the Griffon's Beak even if they didn't ask for a reward or slew the Werewolves without Zathrian's assistance.


  • After movie of the curse lifting, you might not be able to exit; the doors somehow lose their activation icon. Save and reload game.
  • xbox360Xbox360 Some players have reported a glitch where werewolf pelts disappear from inventory, preventing access to the ruins through the Hermit. Only matters if the player has already killed the Grand Oak.
  • Talk to the Grand Oak before killing the hermit (or checking the stump, which will force his death). If he dies first, you can be stuck without a way to complete the quest; the Hermit will be dead, the stump useless, leaving you no way to cross the barrier. Likewise, if you trade with the Hermit for the acorn, leave the conversation, give the acorn to the Grand Oak, and then return to the Hermit to either continue trading or check his stump, you may acquire yet another acorn that you will keep for the duration of the game.
  • ps3PS3When siding with the werewolves, it is possible to get blocked from completing the Nature of the Beast quest. Only Swiftrunner and Witherfang appear, standing near the forest entrance after the battle. This can happen when the battle ends prematurely if not all the elves in the Dalish camp are defeated. To ensure this does not happen, make sure you run into all the elves by checking around the area. A cutscene should play shortly after all the elves are defeated.
  • xbox360Xbox360Trading the hermit for the helmet then saving and reloading the game will glitch the game, it will allow you to talk to the Grand Oak with the option as if you had the acorn. Proceeding with the option will not cause you to lose the helmet, and it will proceed as if you traded for the acorn. However talking to the Hermit will still result in him saying he still has the book and the acorn. You can still advance normally without actually getting the acorn from the hermit.
  • ps3PS3xbox360Xbox360 Even when using Cleanse Area and releasing some of the werewolves from being "paralyzed " they do not engage Zathrian and continue standing where they were for the entire battle.
  • pcPCWhen talking with the werewolves before entering the chamber with the Lady, there is an exploit to earn unlimited approval with Shale. When agreeing to parley with the Lady, Shale will object. A persuasion check will overcome Shale's objections and give you +4 approval from Shale. After you can engage the werewolves in conversation again, agree to talk to the Lady and Shale will object again leading to the persuasion option again. You can do this an unlimited amount of times.
  • pcPCAfter defeating Zathrian he may turn into an ally and the fight will end. Talking to him after this restarts the cut-scene from before the battle. If you once again chose to fight Zathrian he will start this second battle with no health.