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As is usual in Bioware games you can romance many different characters.
In Dragon Age: Origins, Wardens of either gender and any race can pursue a heterosexual or homosexual romance. There are four companions who can be romanced. Morrigan, a “Witch of the Wilds”, and Alistair, a young and sarcastic Grey Warden, are the heterosexual options. Leliana, a sister at a local chantry with a dark past, and Zevran, an Antivan assassin, are bisexual romance options. No other companions can be romanced.
Correct dialogue choices initiate romances while increased approval ratings and personal quest completions advance them. There are at least two opportunities to initiate a romance with each character, although these opportunities are not always the same for player Wardens of both sexes. There is at least one opportunity early on in the game. Another opportunity occurs after that particular character’s quest has been completed. Some characters are open to casual sex and thus have lower requirements for physical intimacy (Morrigan, Zevran), while others are only looking for serious, long term commitments (Leliana, Alistair) and thus require more investment. You can tell that a romance is initiated if their rating is Interested/Care/Adore/Love instead of Neutral/Warm/Friendly
Alistair is only able to be romanced as a female player. Take a joking route with Alistair as often as possible, so long as you are not laughing at him or his romantic gestures. Humorous responses versus serious ones will often lead to a bigger approval bonus. Dialogue options that make him feel wanted or needed gain lots of approval; avoid insulting Duncan or the Grey Wardens, as well as being rude to him. Agree with him as much as possible. Certain dialog choices that are particularly cruel will end the relationship–however, most have the option to follow up with an apology. As long as there are still conversations that will initiate a romance, it is possible to rekindle the relationship. Once Moderate Approval has been reached, he will give you his gift; at Major Approval he will confess he cares for you a great deal and kiss you; at Massive Approval, with his personal quest completed, he will ask to spend the night with you.
Morrigan is only able to be romanced as a male player. It is important to remember that Morrigan is very set in her ways. If pursuing a romance with her, it is advised that you agree with her philosophy of “survival of the fittest”. The Witch can be easily offended at first and so you should choose your words carefully. She is also an apostate, and as such, has very negative views toward the Chantry and toward Templars. She will often say that she doesn’t wish for love, and you should agree with Morrigan without insulting her. At Moderate Approval, she will ask you to sleep with her. At Major Approval she will give you her gift. At Massive Approval, with the completion of her personal quest, she will confess her feelings.
Zevran may be romanced by both male and female players. Be accepting of Zevran’s past, and often sympathetic when you can. If the dialog option is present, tell Zevran that you are happy he is with you. Do not be negative of his occupation as an assassin, his sexuality, or his views on casual sex; it is often best to agree with him. At Moderate Approval he will ask about the nature of your relationship and about his future with you. At Major Approval he will ask you to his tent. At Massive Approval he will give you his gift and express his feelings.
Leliana may be romanced by both male and female players. After her previous career as a bard took a disastrous and incredibly traumatizing turn for the worse, she sought solace and refuge in her faith. This makes her something of a reformed bad girl at the start of the game. In this regard she has decided to use the skills she gained in her previous career to assist the Warden in not only ending the blight, but in also assisting him in making Ferelden a better place by helping others. Should the Warden have similar goals & desires, then gaining her approval is fairly simple and straightforward. An “evil” or highly mercenary Warden will find her approval harder to maintain. In order to initiate a romance with her, Wardens of both sexes must express interest. She isn’t interested in a fling and will not become physically intimate until she has fallen in love with the Warden. Furthermore, she will not fall in love until both her personal quest has been completed and her approval rating has reached 91 or higher. She is highly romantic and wishes to be treated with respect. Nevertheless she is no innocent, and every so often the bad girl in her will come out to play, romantically speaking, especially if the Warden encourages that side of her. See Hardening Leliana for details.
Personal quests may need to be completed before a character will fall in love with the Warden, and before Leliana or Alistair will become physically intimate. For Morrigan and Zevran, being in love is not a requirement for sleeping with the Warden. These quests will be triggered as long as party members accompany the Warden, have a high enough approval rating, and the version of the game is 1.02 or newer. In older game versions, the conversational trigger for Leliana’s quest may fail to appear if her approval rises from 51 (“Care”) to 71 (“Adore”) before the player sees the dialogue option. Completing the personal quest will result in significant gains of approval. Certain dialogue options following their personal quests also provide an opportunity to ‘harden’ the two characters, making them less judgmental of actions which they might otherwise find disagreeable. Finally, for all potential relationships, completion of the personal quest will provide a second chance to either start a romance whose first opportunity was missed or to restart a romance that was previously ended. The personal quests are:
Flemeth’s Real Grimoire
Defeating Taliesin (Zevran)
It is easy to initiate romances with more than one companion. Nevertheless, none of the companions that are open to romance like sharing with other companions. The game contains romance triangle dialogs that will eventually force a break-up with the companion the character does not choose. These romance triangle jealousy dialogs will be triggered under the following conditions:
For Leliana only: if her romance flag is set to active and her approval is “Care” (51 or higher) she will start an argument if you click on her after either a romance with Alistair approval has reached “Adore” (71 or higher) or the Warden has slept with either Morrigan or Zevran (their exact approval ratings don’t matter in this case). It is possible to finesse your way through this conversation without breaking up with any characters. You can generally either lie and try to use your persuade skill to convince Leliana that you didn’t sleep with Morrigan or Zevran, you can be evasive, or you can simply tell them what you have with the other companion is just a fling (Morrigan & Zevran) or harmless flirting (Alistair). As long as you don’t tell her you have something special with the other character, don’t tell her she misunderstood her relationship with you, don’t tell her to mind her own business, and don’t say something emotionally brutal, most of the other options keep all your relationships alive. Lying has the most short-term benefit as it will result in a small approval increase, but that benefit is temporary. The game keeps track of that lie and you will later face a far steeper approval decrease when she finds out. Telling her it’s a fling will result in an immediate approval decrease, and the deductions can stack quickly if you make too many blunt statements. Being evasive, and then diplomatically indirect regarding the truth without lying avoids nearly all of the approval penalties without setting you up for a big deduction later down the road for lying to her. This conversation is something of a minefield loaded with approval penalties, but it’s possible to get through it with just a very small approval penalty if you decide not to lie, but still wish to keep both romances alive.
For all companions (including Leliana): a companion whose romance flag is set to active and whose approval is “Adore” (71 or higher) will start an argument if you click on the character when another character also is in a romance with you and has an approval that is “Adore” (71 or higher). (For Leliana this is the second time she’ll give the Warden a hard time over another character.) There is no way around a break-up this time. You will be forced to make a choice. Depending on the wording of your choice, the romance with the character you do not choose will either simply be cut off (with the possibility of being restarted later), or it will be ended permanently if you’re particularly harsh in your break-up.
As a female Warden, if you have developed a relationship with Alistair as well, one of them will force you to make a choice. Going with Alistair at this point results in a slightly heartbroken Leliana and you lose about 16 approval points for leading her on. If you avoid choosing, Leliana will break up (thinking Alistair is the better match), making her feel better about the break-up and lose less approval. Either way, one romance option is no longer available after the decision.
Getting involved with both Alistair (female PC) and Leliana in the same storyline is possible but requires careful timing. If they both hit high disposition at the same time, they will offer mutually exclusive romance options, and your choice will make the other one unavailable for the rest of the game. (Note: a female warden involved with both Alistair and Leliana, not choosing between them and having Leliana break up with the player will cause Leliana to be unavailable for romance as described. However, this changed after hardening her in Leliana’s Past. With a high approval rating (around 90) and speaking to Leliana in camp directly after hardening her, you will have the romance option available as if you were not still involved with Alistair.)
Note: When both Alistair and Leliana’s jealousy dialogues trigger, speak with Leliana and choose her. This will leave Alistair still in the romance. (You may need to try all the available dialogue options; with good persuasion it will work.) Then avoid speaking with Alistair until the Landsmeet. At the Landsmeet you can voice your approval of Alistair as King and then convince Alistair to have the Warden using the “No one can tell the king what to do” dialogue choice. At the end, before going to the gate to meet the people, speak with Leliana (who should still be in love) and she will also stay with you. Thus, you can have both Alistair and Leliana with you in the end. You can also have Zevran if his approval is around 50 (both Leliana and Alistair need to be hardened before attempting this).
It is not really possible to have a romance with both Zevran and Alistair as a female warden after their approval gets high enough. Though you can have both active at high approval, this causes Zevran’s dialogue to be bugged. If this isn’t an issue, start both romances. When the jealousy conversations are triggered (both at 71+), break up with Zevran by first talking to Alistair, then confirming it with Zevran. You should be able to restart the romance with Zevran provided you still have a romance starting line left (especially if you didn’t choose “Do you stare at everyone like that,” to start the romance initially). The jealousy dialogues don’t trigger completely again, but if both are above 71+, Zevran’s jealousy dialogue will start every time you try to talk to him then cut off, making it impossible to conclude the romance unless you break up with Alistair. However, you can still talk to Alistair. You should be able to publicly kiss Alistair enough (-3 approval) to keep Zevran’s approval low enough to keep going to the tent though be aware you get +1 approval from Zevran each time you go to the tent. If you are a human noble, you can marry Alistair for political reasons and also keep Zevran around as a lover if his approval is high enough. But it is impposible to remain in a romantic relationship with both of them.
Note that it is possible to end the game having active romances with both Morrigan and Leliana while both are in love with a male warden if you are extremely careful in navigating your plot & dialogue choices. The love triangle dialogues are set to only trigger once each and it’s possible to trigger both Morrigan’s & Leliana’s adore approval jealousy dialogues before being forced to break up with one of them. This is because telling Morrigan that you choose her does not automatically cut off the romance with Leliana. Morrigan expects your character to then tell Leliana it’s over. Leliana’s jealousy dialogue will then trigger when you click on her and you can still change your mind and pick either. Your romance with the one you don’t choose will then be cut off. If you later restart your romance with the one you rejected after her quest, you will then be free to pursue both simultaneously since you already triggered both adore jealousy dialogues the first time around. You have two chances to restart a romance with Morrigan, after retrieving Flemeth’s Grimoire (her personal quest) and by giving her the Golden Mirror gift found in Orzammar Commons from the merchant Garin and say something about it being a gift for a beautiful woman. Note that the pursuit of a simultaneous relationship with Leliana will in no way affect Morrigan’s actions at the end of the game. Morrigan will make the same decision regardless. It is also possible to get the elusive Morrigan’s ring epilogue and have Leliana stay with you in Denerim, if you choose these options carefully.
At high approval a jealousy dialogue will trigger which will force the male warden to choose. Zevran will mention that Morrigan doesn’t seem like the type who wants to share, and therefore forces the warden to make a choice. Morrigan, however, claims she is a person who doesn’t want to be dallied with and wants to know her value, which is the reason the warden has to choose. Unlike the love triangle with Morrigan and Leliana, when Morrigan expects the warden to deliver the news to the other party, the warden automatically breaks up with Zevran when choosing Morrigan. This will result in decreased approval for the character who was not chosen.
A male or female Warden can pursue simultaneous relationships with both Leliana and Zevran, Talking to Leliana in the Camp will trigger a conversation through which she asks the Warden to choose. Picking her will result in Zevran disapproves (-16) .