Rogue; Grey Warden
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“My father often forgot that 'nobility' has another meaning.”
Nathaniel is a character almost entirely unheard of until his appearance in Dragon Age: Awakening. He is the eldest son of Arl Rendon Howe (one of the main antagonists of the first Dragon Age game) but, rather than eventually ruling Amaranthine as would have been expected of him, he had absolutely no interest in doing anything of the sort. His childhood was simple at first, but as his parents relationship soured during his teen years he became more reclusive from his family and all the more eager to escape into the life of heroism and exciting adventures that he had dreamed about while hiding in his fathers trophy room. His relationship with his siblings also left much to be desired - he argued often with his sister Delilah and felt envious of his brother Thomas - but in the end, he still felt a great amount of love for them.
However, when Nathaniel came to his early twenties and his father made the decision to send him away to be squired under his mother's cousin Ser Rodolphe Varley he protested strongly against the decision, believing that it was only happening to get him out of the way and out from under the feet of his father and favoured younger brother Thomas. His protests were in vain, and he would spend the next eight years in the Free Marches under a master who tolerated no jokes and didn't at all approve of his new squire's wilful nature. It was a terribly boring time for the young man, during which he took up archery despite the Ser Rodolphe's disapproval. It was a discipline that he would become highly proficient in as the years passed and served as the only activity that gave him a break from the otherwise boring and monotonous drills and lessons that filled his days. Nathaniel was a bright student and did not find his lessons difficult, only terribly dull.
In the Grand Tourney at Tantervale, two years after becoming a squire, Nathaniel entered the grand melee at his masters request and did well, though he was disappointed at his defeat. However, his practice in archery paid off as he accidentally wandered onto the archery field, was almost hit by a stray arrow and subsequently challenged the elven woman who had shot it... and won. It was this, rather than the grand melee, that would have Nathaniel later saying that the Grand Tourney was one of the best times of his life.
Had it not been for the onset of the Fifth Blight, it's likely that Nathaniel would have stayed in the Free Marches for the rest of his days. In his time as a squire he had come to love the land and its people, finding a kind of acceptance there that he never truly felt with his family. News of his fathers murder by the Grey Wardens, however, prompted him to leave in search of some way to restore his family's honour.
Nathaniel is first met in Awakening when the Warden-Commander hears of a prisoner being kept in Vigil's Keep. The eldest Howe had broken in, attempting to steal some of his family's heirlooms when he had been caught, though it had taken four Orlesian guards to subdue him enough to lock him up. He reacts to the decision to let him go with disbelief - he has not been given the impression that the Wardens are known for their mercy - but he leaves peacefully, only to later have a change of heart. It isn't long until he tracks down the Warden-Commander and requests to be allowed to undertake the Joining to become a Grey Warden. Knowing the truth - even if he doesn't want to believe it - behind what his father did and his role in the Blight makes Nathaniel want to redeem his name... but not his family's name, rather his own. He doesn't ask the Warden-Commander to trust him or to believe his motives, but even knowing that the Joining could kill him, he wants to try.
He survives the Joining, later telling the Warden-Commander that he isn't the first Howe to be a Grey Warden. His grandfather, Padric Howe, joined them and never contacted his family again. Knowing what he knows of the Joining now, he suspects that his grandfather may have died. He mentions a bow, one that had been passed down from his grandfather's grandfather and now seems lost. His surprise and visible joy when the Warden-Commander reunites him with the bow - found in a room deep inside Vigil's Keep - shows that he still feels very deeply about his family, despite knowing what he does about Arl Rendon. Joining the Wardens appears to gives Nathaniel a new hope that he might cleanse the stain that his father put across their family name by virtue of his own good deeds, but more than that it appears to give him a fresh purpose, one that he gives his all into.
His conversations with the other members of the Warden-Commanders party often begin with trading barbed insults or misunderstandings which lead to arguments, but Nathaniel's perseverance and often unexpected honesty wins him the approval of many of them over time.
To his surprise, he finds his family's former groundskeeper working at Vigil's Keep. The man tells him that his sister Delilah survived the Blight and can be found in Amaranthine. It is only through meeting her that Nathaniel finally comes to understand the true scope of his fathers actions and comes to accept that it was he and he alone that caused the fall of their family. This doesn't dim Nathaniel's wish to put things right.. which the Warden-Commander assures him is exactly what he is doing.
While Nathaniel is often saddened by the state that the Howe family has been left in, conversations between he and the Warden-Commander, as well as other party members give the impression that he isn't going to let it affect the actions that he chooses to take. What he does, he does for himself first and the Howe name second. Perhaps not surprisingly it is through his own actions that some goodness is brought back to the Howe family. After the events of Dragon Age: Awakening and despite implied bad feeling between himself and Fergus Cousland, Nathaniel saves Fergus from a bandit attack. Fergus' father Teyrn Cousland grants some land back to the Howes, which Nathaniel gives to his sister's son. A new castle is eventually built there, with a statue of Nathaniel in the courtyard.
The Warden-Commander disappears, and Nathaniel himself fades into relative obscurity. As part of an expedition into the Deep Roads, he encounters Hawke when the Champion is sent by Delilah Howe to find him. He is exploring a Primeval Thaig, deeper into the Deep Roads than anyone else has ever been and of great interest to the Wardens as a result. They find Nathaniel alone and fighting off a large group of darkspawn. After assisting him, Nathaniel tells the group that he was given a large incentive by the First Warden himself to discourage any interest in what his expedition was doing and cryptically informs Hawke of 'allies'.. who are 'complicated'. He states that they now live in 'strange times' and implies through explanation that the Wardens may be working with the Disciples - speaking and thinking darkspawn created by the Architect. Time has not changed Nathaniel too much - he's still very guarded with new faces, but easily opens up under gentle encouragement and approval.
He is pleased to see Anders, in his own way, and tells Hawke that the Wardens felt it too risky to contact him or Varric (something which Varric doesn't understand in the least). While Hawke is eager to leave and give the good news to Delilah, Nathaniel insists on moving deeper into the Thaig in search of possible survivors. They find few, but the small group are able to full clear the Thaig of all darkspawn. The two part on good terms, with Nathaniel appearing as the Champion takes on Knight-Commander Meredith.
As a Grey Warden, Nathaniel is able to sense the presence of darkspawn at large distances.
He is also highly proficient with a bow and his sarcasm is as deadly as his arrows. As a rogue class he is also fairly good at lockpicking and potion-making.
OCCUPATION: Grey Warden
MIND READING: Y
KILLING: Y - ask first!
( efficio )