Romance Commander Cullen in Dragon Age: Inquisition Part 1

Edited by Kathy McGraw, Eng, VC


Cullen Rutherford has a long history in the Dragon Age universe. He is present in all three games, although Inquisition is the first in which he has a major role. This walk-through will go into detail about Cullen and his romance with the Inquisitor. This is a thorough walkthrough that contains spoilers about Cullen's romance and other events in the game.Also, if you don't want to read about Cullen's backstory, you can skip to #Things to Know About Romancing Cullen to begin the walkthrough proper.

Read part 2 at Romance Commander Cullen in Dragon Age: Inquisition Part 2

Birth and Early Life

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Cullen Stanton Rutherford was born in Honnleath, a small village near Redcliffe in Ferelden. He is the second oldest in a family of four, with three siblings, Mia, his older sister, Branson, his younger brother, and Rosalie, his baby sister.

At the age of eight, he announced to his family that he wanted to become a Templar. Every day, he would visit the few Templars that resided in Honnleath and grill them with questions. Humoring the curious boy, a few amused Knights took the time to instruct him on a few sword techniques.

Cullen trained daily, using what the Knights taught him, and when he turned 13, a Knight-Captain came to visit Honnleath and took notice of the young lad's hard work. He came by the homestead and told the Rutherfords that he would accept Cullen into the Templar training program. His parents agreed, knowing it would make their son happy, and given the Order's respectability, it would give him a far better opportunity for a good life than could be found in their small village.

Templar Training and Kinloch Hold

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Although most children who are meant for the Order are taken for training at much younger ages, Cullen quickly proved that he could keep up, and by age 18, he was ready to stand vigil and take the vows that would bind him to the Templar Order. At that time, he was also given his first philter of lyrium, the substance that fuels Templars' magic-suppressing powers, but which is also a highly addictive drug. The Chantry uses lyrium as a leash to control its Templars, but this aspect is never disclosed to new recruits.

After taking his vows, Cullen became a full Knight within the Templar Order and was assigned to Ferelden's Circle of Magi at Kinloch Hold. Kinloch is located on Lake Calenhad, and he served under Knight-Commander Gregoir, whom you meet in Dragon Age Origins.

Like many young people, Cullen was idealistic when he began his service. His innate good nature compelled him to be friendly with his charges, and through his daily interactions with them, he began to believe that perhaps the Chantry's strictures on mages were too strict.

As time went on, there was a young apprentice mage there upon whom he had developed a small crush. He never acted on it because of the rules against Templars fraternizing with the mages under their care, but he nonetheless entertained thoughts of her. If you play a female Circle mage in Dragon Age: Origins, you are that young apprentice. You can interact with Cullen after your Harrowing, but if you are too forward, you'll scare him, and he'll run away!

The Fall of the Circle Tower

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Uldred, one of the Enchanters in Ferelden's Circle, used the tumult of the Fifth Blight to instigate a coup on the Templars in a bid for Mage freedom. He used his blood magic to summon powerful demons to help him, and he and his acolytes took over the tower, killing all of the Templars left inside, except for one: Cullen Rutherford. The then 19-year-old Templar was held captive by blood mages and demons and tortured by them for days. Nobody knows how long Uldred and his minions held him prisoner in a magical cage, denied food, lyrium, and given the barest amount of water.

After the Hero of Ferelden rescued him, he was so traumatized by what had happened to him that he feared all mages. He lost his idealism and went to the other extreme where he thought that mages should be managed under strict control. He asked the Hero of Ferelden to annul the Circle, which meant destroying all of the remaining mages to make sure none were possessed.


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Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, Cullen was transferred to Kirkwall, quite possibly the worst place for him to be sent. Kirkwall's Circle of Magi was housed in an old Tevinter prison for slaves, known as the Gallows. It was as forbidding as it sounds, and under Knight-Commander Meredith Stannard, Kirkwall's Mages were managed with a heavy hand. Meredith did nothing to treat Cullen's PTSD. Instead, she encouraged his distrust and fear of Mages, since to her, it was a good thing.

Cullen settled into his new life in Kirkwall, and although he made few friends there, Meredith took quick notice of his dedication and hard work Because of this, and perhaps his fear and distrust of mages, he rapidly rose through the ranks, promoted first to Knight-Lieutenant, and then to Knight-Captain.

When you meet Cullen in Kirkwall during Dragon Age II, he is still deeply traumatized by what happened to him at Kinloch Hold. During the first Act, he tells Hawke "Mages cannot be treated like people. They are not like you and me. They are weapons. They have the power to light a city on fire in a fit of pique." That controversial line has earned him much hate from some fans, but anyone who continues to speak with Cullen as the game progresses will quickly see how his views change over time. At the end of that game, he stands with the Champion of Kirkwall against Meredith, who has become corrupted by red lyrium and driven insane.

During the intervening years between the events of Dragon Age II and the events of Inquisition, Cullen assumed the role of Knight-Commander of Kirkwall's Templars and helped to rebuild the city, which had fallen into chaos following the Chantry explosion and its aftermath.


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By the time you meet him in Haven Cullen has left the Templar Order for good and has taken the position of Commander of the Inquisition's Forces at the behest of Seeker Cassandra Pentaghast. He has also stopped taking lyrium, and as a result is undergoing lyrium withdrawal, a condition that will have consequences later on.

Things to Know About Romancing Cullen

  1. 1
    Your Inquisitor needs to be a female Elf or Human
    Cullen is particular that way.
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  2. 2
    Cullen is not part of the approval system, and as such, what you say to him, barring a couple of exceptions, has no bearing on having a successful romance with him
    However, he will get angry and yell at you if you:
    1. Recruit the Rebel Mages as full allies.
    2. Disband the Templar Order and subsume its remaining members into the Inquisition.
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In either case, he'll get over it, but just know that you'll initially hear about from him. During my first time through the game, he intimidated me so much when he got mad at me!

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Laying the Groundwork

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  1. 1
    As soon as the Inquisition is established and you're free to roam around Haven, you have your first opportunity to flirt with the handsome Commander
    He is standing outside the gates of Haven engaged in training the recruits who are busily making a racket hitting each other with swords. If you engage him in conversation, he'll tell you about how he was recruited to the Inquisition, and he'll get quite passionate about what he thinks it can accomplish. Respond with the heart option: "I like your enthusiasm." He's cool at first, giving you a warm chuckle, but then he sees your goofy grin, and he doesn't know what to do with it. He blushes and gets flustered as if wondering "Is she flirting with me?"
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  2. 2
    After a mission, return to the Commander for another chat
    Ask him about his time in the Templars, in particular, talk to him about Templar vows and what they entail.  
    1. Use the heart option "Are there vows of celibacy?" and watch him get all stammery and flustered as he tells you that while some Templars may choose to give up more, it's not required.
    2. Use the heart option again: "What about you?" to get him to blush bright red and deny that he has taken any such vows! "Maker's breath! Can we speak of something else?"
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After you're named Inquisitor, find Cullen standing before a makeshift desk in the lower courtyard. He's giving orders to a couple of soldiers when he sees you approach. He looks tired, and it's obvious that he's been working non-stop for a while now. After chatting with him about being made Inquisitor, use the heart option: "I'm glad we both made it," and provoke an emotional response from Cullen as he tells you that he is glad you made it too and that he won't allow anything like that to happen again.

The Lyrium Talk

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When you return to Skyhold after doing a mission or two, you'll find that repairs to the keep are proceeding quickly. Cullen has moved into one of the towers, and you should go visit him there. When you walk into his office, you'll see him leaning over his desk, staring at a small box with an engraving of Andraste on the lid. It's his lyrium kit and Cullen will tell you that he is no longer taking it. It is important that you support his decision to quit. Tell him that he is very brave and that you understand. If you ask him if he is in pain, he'll just say "whatever the suffering, I will endure it."

Chess in the Garden

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After the lyrium talk, when you visit Cullen again, you'll be in the gardens where Cullen and Dorian are engaged in a game of chess. Watch Cullen trounce Dorian and then agree to a game with him yourself. You learn about Cullen's family and that Mia used to beat him at chess all the time until he and his brother practiced together and he finally beat her.

  1. 1
    Use the heart option "We should do this more often." and witness a cute little exchange
    1. Cullen: "I would like that."
    2. You: "Me too."
    3. Cullen: "You said that."
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  2. 2
    Play fair, and you win the chess match
    I personally think that he lets you win because it's his way of flirting with you.
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  3. 3
    Cheat and Cullen wins the chess match because he's too sharp to fall for that.
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A Note on Jealousy

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If, by this point you've entered into a relationship with another Inquisition member, you will have to break it off with them before proceeding any further with the Commander. If you don't, he'll remark on it during the chess scene, and when you ask him to talk alone, he'll rebuff you.

The Battlements

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After playing chess with the Commander, visit him again and choose the heart option "I would like to speak with you. Alone."

You wind up taking a stroll on the battlements together. There are several options you can go with, including a special one if you're a Mage, but when he says "I didn't think it was possible," respond with the heart choice "I want to be with you." He'll go for the kiss, but oh, no, you're interrupted by Jim the Scout who has a message for Cullen from Leliana. Cullen glowers at him and sends him running. You're all embarrassed, but Cullen will no longer be deterred, and he grabs your face and kisses you senseless. You have a cute exchange afterward, where you can respond in a few ways, but the end result is that you and the Commander have a nice snogging session.

This walkthrough is continued at Romance Commander Cullen in Dragon Age: Inquisition Part 2

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Categories : Dragon Age Inquisition

Recent edits by: Eng, Kathy McGraw

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