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Grey Warden Notes: Alim Surana

Earlier this year, I did the 30 Day Grey Warden challenge created by [tumblr.com profile] fearliath. The Warden I chose was Kasia Brosca (and I still need to write a master post), but I liked the exercise so much that I want to do it for all my other Wardens. However, I'd rather not commit to writing them meme-style over a month, or necessarily to answering all the questions for every Warden. So instead, I will write up long posts for each one and put them here, as a good background writing exercise. I started with Alim Surana, because I decided I wanted him to be the import Warden for my pro-templar Hawke game (which I finished not too long ago, wrap-up post is here). Most of this was written several months ago, but now I've finally gotten around to getting it ready for publication.



Here are a few more pictures of Alim (of varying quality).

1. Basics. A basic profile of your Warden.
Alim Surana: Circle Mage, Grey Warden, and, briefly, Commander of the Grey. When Duncan came to the Circle Tower, Alim was just shy of 19 years old. Alim was born to an elven family that lived in the alienage at Highever. His magical abilities manifested at a very young age, when he was about four, and his parents immediately surrendered him to the Chantry. He was then taken to Kinloch Hold, which is the only home he remembers with any clarity. He specializes in elemental magic, and his preferred element is fire; he also has a selection of creation and entropy spells, and he later learns the tricks of being a Spirit Healer from Wynne.

2. Appearance. Write a detailed description of your Warden's appearance.
Alim is of average height and build for a male elf: slender, 5'5" tall. His life in the Circle prepped him to fight with his mind, not his body, so at the beginning of the Blight he is low on both strength and stamina, but the year in the field hardens him considerably, although no one would ever call him buff -- more wiry. He has bright red hair, cut fairly short, with a few tendrils of bangs across his forehead. His eyes are blue, his nose narrow and tipped slightly upward, and his mouth is generous and often smiling. No tattoos, no piercings, no visible scars. He's worn the mage robes of the Circle for so long that he has a hard time imaging wanting to wear much else -- they're comfortable and practical, and they look pretty good on him, so why not?

3. Personality. Write a detailed description on your Warden's personality.
By nature, Alim is cheerful and friendly: gregarious, likes getting to know people, charming, gracious. He's also a natural flirt, a personality trait encouraged by the sexually open environment of Kinloch Hold. Most people come to trust him easily, and he likes being able to trust others as well. He's a hopeful idealist, and that's both his biggest strength and his greatest flaw: when people let him down, when he has to compromise his principles, it hurts him deeply. And so being a Grey Warden, with their win-at-all-costs mentality, became difficult for him: too many compromises, too many decisions with no good answers, too many times he had to hurt someone -- and in some cases, that "someone" was himself. By the end of the Blight, he's a little bitter and a lot jaded, a transformation that's difficult for anyone who knew him in his Circle days to see.

4. Companions. Describe your Wardens relationship with each member of their party.
Alistair: Alim and Alistair hit it off right away and started an easy friendship that lasted most of the way through the Blight. They have similar views on helping people and working together, and Alim liked knowing that Alistair would back him up whenever the going got tough. But that all changed, drastically, at the Landsmeet, and when Alistair left, it hurt Alim's feelings more than he was willing to admit.

Morrigan: Alim was very wary of Morrigan, being that she is a powerful apostate mage. When she revealed the old god baby as her true purpose for being with the group, he was not at all surprised. They butted heads a lot. The best way to describe their relationship is an uneasy tolerance.

Summer (the mabari): A good and faithful friend, who stays with him long after the Blight. Summer got his name because he found Alim on a fine summer's day, and because Alim wanted to be able to think cheerful thoughts of sunny days during the dark times he knew were coming.

Leliana: Alim is himself a devout Andrastean, so he and Leliana had a lot in common and got along very well. Also he thought her skills would come in handy, and it didn't hurt to have a pretty woman in the party, so he was happy to invite her along. He flirted with her mercilessly, she flirted back, and they fell into a comfortable romance -- for a little while. After a brief period of awkwardness, they became friends again, and they remained in touch after the Blight.

Sten: They didn't have much of a relationship. Not until Sten challenged him at Haven, anyway, and Alim earned his respect by beating him easily. But they never really became friends.

Wynne: Alim knew Wynne from the Circle, of course, and he had always felt tremendous admiration and respect for her. Their relationship grew stronger during the Blight, and by the end they were quite close. He was never bothered by her motherly advice, knowing her well enough to understand that it was well-meant.

Zevran: In Zevran, Alim met his match in the flirtation department. Probably he should have been put off by an amoral assassin, but he was drawn to Zevran -- he was exciting, he was attractive... Alim wanted to know what made the other elf tick. Before long, Zevran was in the party at every opportunity, talking with Alim every night by the fire, and the romance with Leliana ended not long after that.

Oghren: The crude, uncouth warrior was about as far from Alim's personality as it gets, and they did not get along well. When Oghren showed up in Amaranthine, he wasn't exactly the first person Alim was hoping to see. He respects Oghren's abilities, but he prefers to do so from the other side of camp.

Shale: Alim didn't get to know Shale very well, but they got along well enough.

Loghain: Alim never quite got over his resentment at Loghain for his part in the loss of Alistair's friendship, and he was disgusted and horrified by the events in the Alienage, but he can't deny that the man is a brilliant tactician and an asset to the Grey Wardens. While he would be hard pressed to call Loghain "friend", they developed a decent working relationship built on mutual respect, and Alim is content to leave it at that.

Awakening Companions: Alim decided not to recruit Velanna -- he was suspicious of her motives for undertaking the Joining, and didn't want to subject her to something as permanent as the taint. Everyone else, he got along with pretty well, especially Nathaniel, who became one of his closest friends, and he even got himself on better terms with Oghren by the end.

5. Romance. Who is your Warden's romantic interest and why are they attracted to them?
Alim started out in a romance with Leliana -- she fell for him easily, and he enjoyed her company a great deal, finding it both comfortable and exciting. Then Zevran came along, and for a number of reasons, Alim found himself drawn quite strongly to the assassin. Leliana seemed too safe in comparison, and Alim set himself to the challenge. It wasn't long before he was head over heels for Zevran -- a crush that bordered on an obsession, and when Zevran was all too willing to act on the mutual attraction, they became lovers. Soon afterwards, Zevran gently suggested that, although it was all the same to him, he doubted that Leliana would feel the same if she knew, and Alim reluctantly agreed to break it off with her -- and then she beat him to it, although only because she knew she had lost. Alim was genuinely regretful to have hurt Leliana's feelings, and he gave her plenty of space to recover. It didn't take them long to rebuild their friendship, if not as close as it was before.

Meanwhile, Alim was falling harder for Zevran every day, and despite Zevran's protestations, Alim thought that his feelings were almost certainly returned. When Zevran offered him a gift -- a sparkling diamond earring -- he turned it down, challenging Zevran to offer it back when it actually meant something. Zevran stormed off in a huff, but it wasn't long before he was back, admitting to confusion over emotions he'd promised himself he'd never feel again. They stayed together, separating after the Blight only because Zevran had to return to Antiva to complete his unfinished business with the Crows while Alim did his tour as Warden Commander in Amaranthine. Once they were both free, Alim joined Zevran in Antiva, where he was waiting -- with the earring.

6. Sexuality. What is your Warden's sexual orientation? Describe your Wardens past sexual experiences [if any].
Alim is bisexual and an insatiable flirt -- his first mode of interacting with almost anyone who he thinks is up for it is to put the moves on them. But never in a gross or predatory way: he's good at reading people and at knowing when a hug or an advance might not be welcome. Growing up in the permissive atmosphere of Kinloch Hold suited him very well. His exploration into the world of sex began in his early teens, when he started hooking up with other apprentices. Before Zevran, most of his partners were female, just by reason of opportunity, but he'd been intimate with a few males as well, both elves and humans. But none of these liaisons were serious -- certainly he was closer to his best friend, Jowan, than to any of his lovers in the Circle (and he and Jowan were never romantically involved -- Jowan is straight [in this particular headcanon], and Alim never felt any spark with him anyway).

7. Choices [Part One]. Describe your Wardens choices in the five main quests: Arl of Redcliffe, Urn of Sacred Ashes, Broken Circle, A Paragon of Her Kind & Nature of the Beast.
Broken Circle: Alim saved his beloved Circle and as many of the mages as he could.

Arl of Redcliffe: Alim defended the village and kept all the leaders alive. Though he was angry with Jowan, he did as much as he could to help his old friend, short of letting him go. It was a no-brainer for Alim to get help from the Circle for Conner, and when the time came he went into the Fade himself and vanquished the demon there.

Urn of Sacred Ashes: As a devout Andrastean, Alim turned down Kolgrim and preserved the ashes, and he allowed Genitivi to go free.

A Paragon of Her Kind: Mere words cannot express how little Alim cared who ruled Orzammar. He was angry and resentful to even be asked to make the choice. But choose he must, and he chose Bhelen, mainly because of Zevran's outburst to Harrowmont's agent that made him seem like a weak leader, but Alim also liked the idea of more opportunities for the casteless. He preserved the Anvil, again thanks to Zevran's influence, as a useful tool against the Blight. This is the mission where the cracks in Alim's cheerful nature started to show.

Nature of the Beast: Alim was sorely tempted to punish Zathrian for perpetuating the curse on the werewolves, but he didn't want to see the rest of the elves suffer for Zathrian's mistake, so he convinced Zathrian to lift the curse.

8. Choices [Part Two]. Describe your Wardens choices later in the game: The Alienage, the Landsmeet and Morrigan's ritual.
Denerim: Alim surrendered to Cauthrian in Howe's estate -- he was convinced he could negotiate his way out. But it was a rescue from Fort Drakon in the end, thanks to Zevran and Sten.

The Alienage: Alim never considered taking the magister's offer, although he did let him go, with a great deal of anger and frustration in his heart.

The Landsmeet: Alim won the Landsmeet, garnering support from all the persuadable nobles except Anora -- he walked into that room fully intending to put his friend Alistair on the throne, and he refused to lie to her about his plans. He beat Loghain in the duel easily, and when Loghain yielded, Alim accepted his surrender. When Riordan suggested recruiting Loghain rather than executing him, Alim was receptive, and thoroughly baffled by Alistair's refusal to listen to reason. He was sad to see Alistair leave -- and quick to ask Anora to spare Alistair's life -- but his mind was made up: Loghain was put through the Joining and made a Grey Warden.

Return to Ostagar: Alim went to Ostagar on the way from Denerim back to Redcliffe, so he had both Wynne and Loghain along. He found listening to them argue both instructive and exhausting. He wanted to burn Cailin's body, but Loghain reacted badly, and Alim didn't feel like fighting about it, so he left the late king for the wolves instead.

The Dark Ritual: If any Grey Warden was ever ready to make the ultimate sacrifice, it was Alim Surana. He was tired, emotionally bruised from the fight with Alistair, burdened by every compromise and awful choice he'd been required to make. And creating a baby with the soul of an Old God sounded dangerous, certainly not a fair trade for his worthless life. So he resisted Morrigan's every attempt to talk him into it -- until she brought up Zevran, and how much it might hurt him if Alim died, and that was one thing he could not abide. So he went through with the ritual, hating himself for it but unable to say no given the stakes. [I created Alim with the intention of playing the Redeemer ending, so this came as a surprise to me. But in the moment, playing the game, I knew no other choice was possible. And even if Alim had been able to resist Morrigan, he would likely have taken the final blow himself.]

9. Motivation. Describe why your Warden made the choices they made during the Blight. Go into detail about who influenced them and how any key events from their past influenced them.
Alim is a good man who wants to think the best of others, devoutly religious, and he starts out making decisions with that in mind, although he gets harder and more cynical as time goes on.

10. Joining The Wardens. How did your Warden react to being recruited? Include your Wardens thoughts about Duncan and whether or not they were conscripted in your answer.
Alim went willingly with Duncan. He trusted Irving to find another way to keep him safe, but he was curious about life outside the Tower and eager to test his skills in a real life-and-death situation. Although he had been happy in the Circle, he knew that not many mages got the opportunity to be anything more, and he was honored to have the chance. He never became close to Duncan, but they got along well enough and he respected the commander.

11. Spirituality. What does your Warden believe in? Describe your Wardens Religion or their Atheism. Go into detail about how they practice their beliefs, if their beliefs cause conflict among their companions and how their beliefs guide them morally.
Alim has never known anything beyond the worship of Andraste and the Maker, and he has never really had occasion to question it. He believes in the Maker and in most of the Chantry's teachings; he finds comfort and beauty in the Chant itself, and he likes the ritual of services and celebrations. As for his magic, he sees it as a gift from the Maker, but a gift that comes with the heavy price of life-long vigilance. If it was Andraste's will that mages be protected in the Circle, and for the Templars to protect the common people from the mages, he will gladly accept that.

12. Tattoos. Does your Warden have any tattoos and if so how did they get them? If you Warden has no tattoos explain why not. Also include how your Warden views tattoos - Include their reaction to the Dwarven Casteless brands and the Dalish Blood Writing.
Alim has no tattoos and no interest in getting any, although he finds Zevran's tattoos both beautiful and arousing. He is appalled by the fact that the casteless are forced to be branded. Dalish blood writing is beautiful on some people, just kind of there on others, and he doesn't find himself particularly curious about it.

13. Viewpoint [Part One - Race & Social Class]. Describe how your Warden feels about the Dwarven caste system, Human nobility and Elven alienages. Also go into detail about your own Wardens race/social class and if they are proud/ashamed of where they come from.
Alim isn't particularly interested in social reform -- he accepts the systems of power in Thedas at face value. The caste system seems worse to him, because there's no easy way to work your way up besides leaving entirely, and also because of the whole "branded for life" aspect of being a casteless. His parents were working-class elves who lived in the Highever alienage; he doesn't remember it very well, and he doesn't feel any real attachment to it as his place of origin. In a distant way, he thinks that elves ought to have more rights, more freedoms, and the abuses he discovers in Denerim's alienage horrify him. But he doesn't feel like he's in a position to do much about it. So he helps individual elves where he can, but that's about all.

14. Viewpoint [Part Two - Mages Rights]. How does your character view Mages? Apostates? Blood Magic? How do they react to Morrigan's shape shifting? How do they react to Wynne being a abomination? If they are a Mage describe their views of the Circle and if they believe they should be free or not.
Alim was happy in the Circle and doesn't really see a problem with it as a system. He's aware that abuses happen, of course, everyone does, but is life really that much better on the outside? Especially for an elf; Alim appreciates that elves are essentially equal in the Circle and feels fortunate to have been born a mage because he had more opportunity in Kinloch Hold than he would've as the youngest son of a dockworker and a servant. If Alim hadn't gotten sucked into Jowan's troublemaking, he would likely have gotten involved in Circle politics as an Aequiterian -- mages should have as many rights and freedoms as they can, but it's always better to work with the Templars than to butt heads with them. Although he doesn't support hunting down apostates, he genuinely believes that most of them would be happier in the Circle if they'd only give it a try. Blood magic troubles him -- he'd certainly never take the risk of working with it himself -- and he's disturbed to learn that Jowan is a blood mage, though less horrified when he's assured that Jowan learned from books, not by making deals with a demon.

On a purely practical level, Morrigan's shapeshifting fascinates him. How does it work? What school would it fit in? Is it one of the lost magics of the elves? If she were of a mind to come back with him to the tower, it could make a fascinating case study. But he's also suspicious of any magic he doesn't understand, especially when it comes from an unknown source of great power, like Flemeth.

Discovering Wynne's... situation (he can't quite bring himself to think of her as an abomination) was a bit jarring to Alim. His first thought is concern: Wynne is a mentor and a friend, and he wants to believe that she'll be all right. As time passes, and he sees that her personality hasn't really changed, that she's the same Wynne he's always known, those worries slip away.

15. Leadership. What is your Warden like as a leader? How do they lead and how do they handle companions disagreeing with them?
Alim tries to be a collaborative leader, asking the opinions of the companions he trusts and listening seriously to their advice. But he also knows it's important to take a strong stand when he knows he's right, which is how he ended up losing Alistair at the Landsmeet. Still, even when he knows he must, he hates doing it, and it's no wonder he gets sick of the leadership gig after awhile.

16. Fear. During the quest Broken Circle your character is trapped in the Fade by a Sloth demon If you could personalize your Warden's nightmare what would it be about? And why?
Alim didn't need the sloth demon to show him a nightmare; he was living his nightmare, the Circle overrun by blood mages and demons, the threat of imminent annulment hanging over everyone's heads. Anything else a demon might come up with would pale in comparison.

17. Regret. During the Urn of Sacred Ashes quest you will be introduced to the Guardian who will ask the Warden if they regret something from their past. If you could personalize the Guardian's question what would he ask? And how would your Warden answer?
Certainly not the question he was asked -- Alim doesn't feel a whole lot of regret about what happened to Jowan, believing his troubles to mostly be his own doing. If the Guardian had wanted to evoke true guilt in Alim, he would have asked about Alim's treatment of Leliana: letting her believe that his feelings for her were stronger than they actually were and then dumping her for Zevran. He should have been more careful with her emotions -- and heeded Wynne's warning on the subject.

18. Moral Alignment. What would your character moral alignment be and why?
The alignment that best describes Alim is lawful good. He believes in following the rules, and that most rules exist for a reason.

19. Fighting Style. Describe your Warden's fighting style and how it improves during the Blight. Make sure to include what specializations they trained in and why they chose them.
As a mage, Alim finds it most prudent to fight from the back: casting ranged attacks, providing healing and support. He learned just enough battle mage lore to wear better armor, and he also learned Spirit Magic to improve his healing abilities -- the best thing any leader can do for their party is to keep them all alive as best he can. Over the time of the Blight, Alim became a very strong healer, rivaling even Wynne.

20. Weapons/Spells. Describe your Warden's favourite weapon/spells and describe what their favourite weapons/spells say about their personality.
Alim got his start as an elemental mage, and his element of choice is fire. Fire can help or it can harm, and he enjoys the dichotomy of that. He also likes any type of spell that can immobilize his enemies -- crushing prison, various glyphs -- and hold them still for Zevran or Alistair's blades.

27. Family. Describe the members in your Warden's family and what your Warden's relationship with them is like.
Since he came into his magical abilities so young, Alim has almost no memory of his birth family. He feels mild gratitude toward them for giving him into the Chantry's care with no fuss, and occasionally he wonders about them -- what are his parents like now, the two older sisters he can remember a little bit, does he have younger siblings who came along after -- but that's all. Alim's family were the other mages in the Tower: Irving is the closest thing he has to a father, the other senior enchanters his aunts and uncles, the other apprentices his brothers and sisters. He looks up to Irving a great deal, even after leaving the Tower, and he feels fortunate to have won Irving's favor, his personal attention, and his fatherly affections.

30. Happily Ever After - Or Not. How does the Blight end for your Warden?.... Go into detail about what your Warden did after the Blight if they lived....
Alim killed the archdemon himself, and thanks to the Dark Ritual he survived. He asked Anora to grant more freedom to the mages, and she agreed to try. In the months that followed, he took some time off, staying in Denerim with Zevran, then spent a little time helping to set the Circle Tower to rights. And then, six months after Blight's end, he got a letter from the Grey Wardens, asking him to take charge in Amaranthine.

Though sorely tempted to say no, Alim gave in to what felt like his duty and went to Amaranthine, while Zevran headed for Antiva to deal with the Crows. And so once again Alim was thrust into games with nobility and politics and darkspawn and-- the Void take them, the darkspawn have politics? But he muddled through, became close friends with Nathanial and better friends than before with Anders (whom he knew from the Tower, but not well) and Oghren, built up the Keep within his financial resources to do so, and upgraded the arms of the militia. He also saved Amaranthine at the expense of the Keep and sided with the Architect -- the prospect of no more Blights, of no other Warden being forced to face the compromises he faced, sounded good to him.

Once that was done, he left and gave the Grey Wardens no forwarding address. He went back to Antiva, found Zevran, and retired to a quiet life there -- except for one trip back to Ferelden, to chase down rumors of a Morrigan sighting. Not that he cared so much about Morrigan herself, but he longed to know what had happened to their child, the child that was always at the back of his mind, the only child he was ever going to have. Though the resolution of that quest was less than satisfactory for him, at least he walked away with the knowledge that he had a son, and that the son was well cared for. He returned to Zevran and his retirement, and stayed well out of politics, including the Mage War, until the time came for his Calling, which he faced alone and with great readiness.


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