Leliana probably isn’t the woman you think of when someone mentions the Dragon Age series. Not only can most of the protagonists be female, but there are far more interesting characters to explore from all of each game in the trilogy. Morrigan can transform into a spider, takes no prisoners, and only looks out for herself. But that’s precisely why we’re exploring Leliana. She’s a character of substance, and ultimately one that we should all admire.
The inciting incident in a story is the pivotal point where the initial story falls away, and the true story is revealed. Leliana’s story definitely had one of these, but it doesn’t truly become clear until you play her DLC for Dragon Age: Origins, Leliana’s Song. Here we see how her past, being manipulated by a wealthy widow, forced her to flee, and ultimately led to her being imprisoned. There’s a hint that something much worse than being chained up happened to her right at the beginning of the DLC, but it’s never fully explored.
Leliana has gone from having everything, a family and wealth, through losing it, being betrayed by her mentor, and then again by the order she invested so much of herself in. She chooses to help the Warden in Dragon Age: Origins because she believes so passionately in her core values, in the Maker’s plan, and in her chosen religion.
Leliana is an example to everyone. No matter what we go through in life, and we will go through a lot, we can come out stronger because of it. I can’t imagine who Leliana would be without her past. The character doesn’t make any sense to me without the turmoil, and the path that she ultimately follows to become the woman that she is. Sometimes in life it seems as though our past had to happen in order for us to become who we are. That’s something I certainly identify with, but I can see a lot of people struggle with the idea. It strays very closely to many religious and philosophical beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t mean something.
To all of us, Leliana is an example of strength. Yes, there are game protagonists who are physically stronger, have better abilities, and don’t sing at every opportunity. But Leliana has been through it all, and she’s still herself. Better, she’s the person she wants to be, and that takes a lot of work when you’ve been through all kinds of hell.
For International Women’s Day 2020 we’re taking a look at a few different women from games for the entire week. If you enjoyed this look at Leliana, then check out our other articles in the series here.