- "Honor is what kept him alive, and it was honor that killed him." ―Zevran Arainai
Robert Cousland was born a member of the prestigious Cousland family of Ferelden. His father, Bryce Cousland, was the Teyrn of Highever, one of the two remaining Teyrns in Ferelden, giving the Couslands power only second to royalty. As the second son of Bryce Cousland, Robert was second in line to inherit the Teyrnir, although he himself had no desire over it.
Robert was the second son of Teyrn Bryce Cousland. Teyrn Bryce served King Maric Theirin during the Fereldan Rebellion and fought alongside Arl Leonas Bryland of South Reach and Arl Rendon Howe of Amaranthine at the Battle of the White River.
Robert was fostered at Amaranthine by Arl Rendon Howe from the age of eight. When he reached the age of sixteen, Robert was a man grown, and quickly built a reputation as a warrior and leader.
Battle of Highever
Teyrn Bryce Cousland and his oldest son Fergus are preparing to heed King Cailan's call to battle darkspawn at Ostagar. Arl Rendon Howe of Amaranthine waits for his forces to join the teyrn's at Highever. The tardiness of Howe's men is being discussed in the main hall as Robert enters; he is greeted by Arl Howe and Teyrn Cousland, and introduced to Duncan, a senior Grey Warden. Duncan explains his mission and suggests that Robert would be a promising recruit--already knowing this idea will be dismissed by Teyrn Cousland, with Robert showing disinterest. After being tasked with telling Fergus to depart immediately with the bulk of the Cousland forces, Robert is intercepted by Ser Gilmore, a knight in Highever's service; Teyrna Eleanor Cousland, Robert's mother, wishes him to collect their dog from the kitchens.
Robert, accompanied by Gilmore, track down the dog to Castle Cousland's larder. They meet Nan, the ornery cook, who is scolding two elven servants. Robert and Ser Gilmore attempt to calm Nan down, offering to retrieve the dog before he can rampage the larder any further. They head in and are greeted immediately by Barkspawn, Robert's faithful mabari hound. Barkspawn had apparently been chasing large rats into the larder. Robert and Gilmore dispose of them, with Gilmore jokingly commenting that it looked like the start of the kind of stories his grandfather used to tell.
Robert and Ser Gilmore, alongside Barkspawn, head into the rooms to inform Fergus, Robert's brother, about the delay of Arl Howe's men. Robert expresses disapproval that he cannot accompany his brother into battle. Fergus also seems to be saddened by their separation. He asks Robert to watch over their mother while they are away. Oren, Robert's nephew, claims that he wishes to fight too, to which Robert jokingly says that he should ask his mother, Oriana. Robert wishes his brother farewell and the castle goes to sleep.
Robert is awakened in the night by Barkspawn's alerting growl. His room is invaded by soldiers bearing the arms of Arl Howe. He heads down the hall and meets his mother, fully geared. Apparently, Arl Howe ordered an attack on the castle while Teyrn Cousland's men were away at Ostagar. Robert suggests searching the castle for survivors. To their horror, they stumble upon the corpses of Oriana and Oren. Distraught and vengeful, mother and son fight their way to the main hall where they are approached by Ser Gilmore and a handful of Highever's household guard. He claims to have seen Teyrn Cousland flee into the larder after being attacked.
Eleanor and Robert head into the cellars to find Bryce, bleeding profusely. Afterwards, Duncan, the Grey Warden, enters, affirming the Couslands' suggestion that Arl Howe had betrayed them. Duncan offers Robert to be inducted into the Grey Wardens where no one, not even Arl Howe, can touch him. Bryce agrees, telling Robert that he must survive and exact his revenge on Arl Howe. Robert reluctantly accepts, but refuses to leave his father's side. Eleanor offers to stay with her husband to fend off any remaining soldiers. Robert protests, but due to his mother's pleas, he eventually relents. Robert and Duncan leave the castle - and Robert's family - behind and head for Ostagar, to inform King Cailan on Howe's betrayal and to aid his army in fending off the encroaching darkspawn horde.
Battle of Ostagar and the Joining
Duncan and Robert later arrive at Ostagar and are immediately greeted by King Cailan. Cailan is evidently enthralled by the legends of the Grey Wardens of old and is eager to see them in battle. Robert informs Cailan about the events at Highever, to which Cailan says that he will see Howe punished for his betrayal. Relieved, Robert accompanies Duncan to the main camp, although he still desires to find his brother Fergus, who had already gone ahead to Ostagar and therefore missed the slaughter.
Duncan suggests that Robert seek out Alistair, a fellow Grey Warden, who would be accompanying Robert and the other recruits, Daveth and Ser Jory, to their Joining, the mysterious recruiting ritual of the Grey Wardens.
While exploring the camp, Robert stumbles upon a man imprisoned for desertion. The prisoner begs Robert for food, as he hasn't eaten since he was captured. Robert succeeds in persuading the guard to feed the deserter, and the prisoner thanks him.
Later, Robert meets Wynne, an elderly mage from the Circle of Magi. The two talk briefly, and while doubting Cailan's optimism, she still suggests that in these times, everyone must work together to defeat darkspawn.
Robert also manages to gain an audience with the famed Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir. Like Wynne, Loghain expresses disapproval over Cailan's undying optimism, while reflecting on his time with Cailan's father, Maric. Loghain also seems to be unimpressed with the Grey Wardens so far, doubting if they are truly capable of defeating the darkspawn singlehandedly as Cailan claims.
Afterwards, Robert eventually meets Alistair, who is arguing with a Circle mage. Alistair claims that, as a junior member of the Order, he'll be accompanying Robert and the new recruits through their Joining.
Robert, Alistair, Daveth, and Jory meet back with Duncan, who tells the young recruits that they have to acquire three bottles of darkspawn blood and a collection of treaties that obligate any and all factions to support the Grey Wardens in the event of a Blight.The three, accompanied by Alistair, venture off into the Korcari Wilds.
The four Wardens eventually obtain three vials of darkspawn blood. They enter a ruined tower - which previously belonged to the Grey Wardens - and a chest that contains the Grey Warden treaties. However, the magical seal that protected it has been broken. Later, a mysterious woman with a Chasind appearance approaches the four Wardens. She calls herself Morrigan and claims that her mother, the Witch of the Wilds, has taken the treaties for safeguarding. Although initially reluctant, Robert and the rest agree to follow Morrigan to her mother.
They come to a small shack inhabited by an old woman, presumably Morrigan's mother. She hands over the treaties to the Wardens and claims that a Blight is indeed coming. She protected the treaties because in times of a Blight, alliances are necessary. Afterwards, Morrigan guides the Wardens out of the Korcari Wilds and back to Ostagar.After returning to the fortress, Robert delivers the vials of darkspawn blood and the treaties to Duncan. Later, Duncan reveals that they will begin the Joining. Robert, Daveth, and Jory talk about what the Joining is. Daveth believes it's just something to scare new recruits and even if it's not, he believes that he will do anything - including dying - to see the world saved from darkspawn. Ser Jory remains unconvinced and nervous, not wishing to die since he still has a wife and child back at Highever. Duncan presents a chalice to the recruits, telling them that they have to drink the darkspawn blood. It is the price the Grey Wardens pay for their abilities and because it is such an intimidating act, they choose to keep it a secret. First, Daveth drinks. He dies after the blood corrupts him. Afterwards, it's Jory's turn. After witnessing what the darkspawn blood can do to a person, he refuses to drink it, while Duncan claims that there is no turning back. In an act of self-defense, Jory draws his sword on Duncan but he is quickly defeated and subsequently killed. Lastly, Robert drinks from the chalice. Unlike Jory and Daveth, Robert survives and is made a Grey Warden.
When the Joining is over, Robert awakens. Alistair shows regret over the fact that two out of the three recruits did not survive. Regardless, Robert has become a Grey Warden and thus accompanies Duncan to the negotiations over the upcoming battle.
Loghain and Cailan argue over the fact that they need the Orlesian troops to repel the darkspawn. Loghain, having lived in an Orlesian-occupied Ferelden, disapproves over the fact they need the Orlesians to defend themselves. Cailan stands by his decision, telling Loghain that it is he who is king. Loghain relents and goes off to prepare his troops.
According to the plan, Cailan will lead the bulk of his forces against the initial attack. The Wardens will then light the beacon atop the Tower of Ishal, signalling Loghain's forces to attack. Duncan takes Robert and Alistair to prepare.
Duncan orders both Robert and Alistair to not pull off any heroics and just do what the king commands. Alistair says that he can trust on them, and they are off to the Tower.
The battle eventually commences with Cailan leading the main forces and Loghain laying in wait for the signal. Robert and Alistair fight through darkspawn and get atop the Tower. Once there, they battle a massive ogre that is guarding the beacon. Robert manages to kill the beast and lights the pyre. However, instead of charging off to aid Cailan and his troops, Loghain orders his second, Ser Cauthrien, to call the retreat. Cauthrien does so and Loghain abandons the battle.
After Loghain's betrayal, Cailan and his men are overwhelmed. He himself is killed by an ogre, but is later briefly avenged by Duncan. Duncan would perish too and the battle is lost. The darkspawn overwhelm the Tower and Alistair and Robert are left injured and unconscious.
After the battle is ended, Robert and Alistair are rescued from the Tower of Ishal by Morrigan who brings them back to Flemeth's hut in the Korcari Wilds. Robert awakens after Alistair as Morrigan tends to his wounds. Robert thanks the young witch for her help, much to her surprise. Robert goes outside to find Alistair brooding over the battle and Duncan's death. Alistair reprises that much has been lost in the battle, which makes defeating the Fifth Blight that much harder. Flemeth claims that the treaties the Wardens possess still carry a considerable amount of weight, which may be enough to garner more allies. Robert reciprocates by saying that they will need to use these treaties to depose Loghain, who has headed towards Denerim to assume his role as Regent. Flemeth agrees, offering to send Morrigan with them, much to her dismay. Robert accepts Flemeth's offer and the trio head north to the village of Lothering to stock up on supplies.
Robert reaches Lothering only to find the town in chaos, with refugees crowding the area and bandits preying on them as all present flee before the advance of the darkspawn horde. Robert, Morrigan and Alistair are confronted by a group of highwaymen, their leader putting on a friendly face. Robert manages to convince the bandits to leave them alone as well as give them a "donation" for their services as Grey Wardens. As the part moves on, Alistair stops the group to rethink about their plans and goals. Rather than trying to lead the new Warden, Alistair makes it clear that he would prefer it if Robert carried the burden of leadership instead. Robert is reluctant, but eventually relents. Once this is cleared up, the party moves into town.
The party stops at a local inn, but are confronted by a group of Loghain's men who accuse the party of being the ones to have caused the king's death. They engage in a fight, but are aided by a Chantry sister called Leliana. Leliana asks to join the party due to a vision she believed she received from the Maker, which Robert finds hard to believe. Nevertheless, her help is accepted. A little while later, Robert meets an imprisoned Qunari called "Sten". The Qunari states that he was imprisoned because he murdered a family. Robert is appalled with Sten's confession, but decides to find a way to release him; as his martial prowess could prove vital in fighting the darkspawn. Robert successfully convinces the local Chantry mother to release Sten, who joins the Warden.
Arl of Redcliffe
The Circle of Magi
Urn of Sacred Ashes
Meeting the Dalish
Battle of Denerim
First Battle of Vigil's Keep
Investigating the talking darkspawn
Golems of Amgarrak
Resurface and the Calling
Appearance and Character
In his younger years, Robert was graceful and quick, and had a lean build. Robert has the long face of the Couslands, with dark brown hair and grey eyes so dark they almost seem black. Robert is shorter and less handsome than his older brother Fergus, according to Leliana; however, she also states that Robert has a "good sweet heart beneath that solemn face". During the Fifth Blight, Robert grows a beard.
In his later years, however, his closely-trimmed beard is beginning to grey, making him look older than his years. His dark grey eyes reflect his moods, turning soft as fog or hard as stone. He keeps faith with Andraste.
Robert was a man of principle, being patient, cautious, intelligent, noble and possessing an immense sense of duty. He was remembered profusely for being extremely honorable and a firmly moral character at heart. He always reacted to situations calmly and reasonably, even if the situations endangered him or the people he loved. He was a skilled and fierce warrior but certainly preferred the diplomatic and peaceful solution to situations, even if that solution was martial law. He, himself, remarked that he didn't fear death, and recollected that he grew up with soldiers - Anora elaborated that Robert's older brother Fergus was born to lead, whilst he was born to follow. In his own words, Robert explained that he "learned how to die a long time ago." Robert viewed situations and individuals by the scope of their moral compass, and judged almost everything on that perspective. He also speculated the concept that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword, showing that he can be pragmatic in his sense of honor. In spite of that, he was not narrow-minded and did not appear prejudiced, arrogant or self-serving.
In his youth, Robert lived a wild lifestyle and was promiscuous man. He did not discriminate between bedding elven servant girls, lowly prostitutes, or girls from noble houses. He was a particularly famous (or at times infamous) figure amongst the nobility, and while he was often more reclusive than his older brother Fergus, this often portrayed him as the "strong, silent type", and it had made him very popular with women. After the massacre of his family, Robert became noticeably more serious and diligent, often putting others before himself while retaining his sarcastic and dry wit. After settling down with Leliana, his lust for women decreased, and his appointment to Commander of the Grey made it clear that he was no longer the "merry wild Cousland" of his youth, but a matured Grey Warden.
Robert was highly skilled in combat, both in strategy and in a duel. He killed Arl Rendon Howe, survived the Battle of Ostagar and held his own impressively against the Tevinter mage Caladrius. He had earned the respect of men like Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir, the greatest warrior of his generation - indeed, Robert's sense of honor seemed to impress everyone around him. Aside from being selfless, dutiful and brave, he was slow to anger, a trait which manifested later in his lifetime.
However, he had the fatal weakness of being a poor politician, preferring to take the honorable route than doing what would politically benefit him - Anora speculated that one had to take what was in arm's reach or be damned, but Robert disagreed because the fight he fought was never to survive, but to preserve the lives of those he loved. Despite being usually straightforward, his honor could oftentimes blind him to reason, leading him to make highly impractical decisions and judgments. While intelligent, he wasn't the most imaginative person, which further exacerbated by his rigid sense of honor, made him unable to compromise or consider alternatives, usually going with the simplest and most straightforward course of action.
Robert often evaluated matters and people by the evidence he saw with his own eyes, rarely ever looking underneath the surface or at the bigger picture. This made him a poor judge of character and he had a bad habit of trusting people, which was a mistake he disastrously made with Selwyn. Though rare, he could be self-righteous in his honor.
Furthermore, as he "grew up with soldiers", he tended to put a lot of faith in the mindset and capabilities of efficient warriors and commanders, including in matters where such attributes are of little relevance, perhaps even disadvantageous; he once told Nathaniel Howe that true friendship is made on the battlefield. This sometimes caused him to ignore personality aspects that would have a negative effect in certain situations.
Eleanor Mac Eanraig
Loghain Mac Tir
|Bryce Cousland||Eleanor Mac Eanraig|
|Oriana||Fergus Cousland||Robert Cousland||Morrigan|