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Romancing Zevran

Zevran and Aeazel sitting in a camp, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!

BioWare's latest, Dragon Age: Origins has same-sex romances. According to various little quips from the company, the world does not villify these romances, though it is seen as not necessarily the norm. My encounters with other people of non-heterosexual proclivities was rather sparse, though I have heard of small appearances here and there by other players (and in a game so large, I may well have missed something. Please, feel free to comment on any you found.) The only other male with whom my character flirted was a male guard later on, which surprised me.

That is to say, the primary gay characters in the game are the two bisexual companions, and yourself (if your character is--I know many a person who has rolled a female to similarly roll in the hay with Alistair). The comment that homosexuality is not really treated different is then to assure the players that their choices will not have any triggers or fall into the trap of diluting the romantic options (at least, at this point; this will be a series of games, more than likely).

So, with all this said, what of the romance with Zevran? We have seen the YouTube clip of sex, but what of the romance itself? Well, I waited until I finished the game to write this up, and I am glad to hash out my impressions for you. There will be spoilers below this fold.

The romance with Zevran starts simple enough. He flirts with you, specifically a male, and makes reference to your male sex. Among the options of conversation replies is asking him if he is hitting on you, as one man to another. He will explain that he loves beauty of all kinds, and having grown up as he did, the son of a prostitute, on the streets, and then being bought to essentially be indentured to the Antivan Crows, his life has led him to believe sex can be found with anyone for the appropriate reasons (like, taking their lives).

What makes these conversations particularly delightful is that Zevran has among the best senses of humor in the game. Unlike Morrigan, he can take criticism well. He rolls with the punches other companions may give him during conversations that occur while walking about, and this applies to your own conversations with him. They are coy and filled with innuendo and wordplay.

The achievement for sleeping with Zevran is Easy Lover, which is applicable because he (and Morrigan) are the easiest to bed in the game. They see sex and romance as discrete, and not necessarily having to relate to each other to be enjoyed. Which is not to say that it has to stay that way, for Zevran at least.

Yes, you read correctly, you can have a romance with Zevran beyond just the sex.

In fact, after the first 'assassination in my tent,' the question came up of how this was to proceed. Quite simply, I told him we could keep this as is for now, and did not have to complicate things. After all, I am off to save the world, I did not need to futz around with a relationship.

A few things changed for my playthrough, however. Wynne said much the same, but she rubbed my character the wrong way, so I began to realize, why should I not give this a chance (Wynne really, really rubbed this character the wrong way, and I was glad to hear both Shale and Zevran talk about her sagging bits to her consternation)? Second, an event later in the game had Zevran criticizing me for my initial decision, and actually found myself agreeing with him because of not wanting to ruin our relationship.

At some point, Morrigan propositioned me, and seeing as this character is bisexual, I wanted to see how that developed. In much the same fashion, she also wanted a no strings attached affair, which was fine with me. Until later, when both she and Zevran confronted me about this. Her basis was that she was not a sharer. His was that Morrigan was not a sharer. He seemed very cavalier about the entire affair, and it made me wonder if I was just pursuing a false hope.

Therefore, when I later went to camp and asked him to come to my tent with me, and he refused, the conversation that ensued was enlightening. To put it simply, in a very discreet manner, he admitted he loved me. He started caring about me, and he was not sure he could deal with that. That is not how he was raised, not what he was taught, and you are able to steer a conversation that tells him that you feel the same, and that this is new to you as well. You are able to ask him to take a chance and experience something new with you.

You basically say I love you back.

Then there's the end. Here is where my opinion changed drastically in one early, early morning, when I kept thinking the game would end, but it kept me running as if BioWare had some Nutella on a spoon dangling before my nose. I finished the game, defeated the Archdemon, invested seventy-two hours, and cared about my romance with Zevran because it was not some wishy-washy, poorly-written piece of drivel that made my eyes roll.

At the ending coronation, I walked up and spoke with all the characters, saving Zevran for last. As was typical, he joked about how I was a target for the Antivan Crows, but not to worry, he would have my back as long as no one paid him a handsome sum. This was directly after telling me he hoped he could travel with me, as he didn't want to leave my side.

Walking out of that chamber and into the little text that describes how my decisions shaped the world, I came across this:

To say I was livid is a kind way of putting it.

I angrily sent out a few Tweets, made a note of this on a Dragon Age Google Wave in which I am participating, and went off to stew for a bit, angry. My thoughts centered around, "Heterosexist piece of garbage that decided until the very end to ruin my experience."

Calming down, I did a bit of hunting in the BioWare Dragon Age forums to find that this was not an isolated bug for me. Yet, a fellow game blogger I know had gone through the same romance and not had any such difficulties. He even chose to travel, like my mage did.

Come to find out, my experience not an isolated incident. Thinking on it, I realized that the PC release was finished months before the console versions, and that this was an oversight corrected for both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game [Edit: As a commenter notes, this also happens in the PS3 version of the game, though my friend played it on the Xbox 360, so PS3 players also beware]. That did not fix my experience, but it made me ponder a bit more about the issue.

For one, the romance with Zevran probably plays out the exact same as it would had I been a female character. In fact, one thing that impressed me about Zevran early on when talking about his sexuality is the fact that he admits he is bisexual, but tends to prefer the curves of a woman. He is not just some bland bisexual character that had little thought given to his tastes.

At the same time, I realized that I had bought into a hype machine, thinking of Zevran as primarily the interest of the gay community, while the fact remained that he was likely written first as a heterosexual romance option. While my experience before this leads me to want to say the bisexuality is not just an afterthought, it does still leave me somewhat sour about the entire ordeal.

Hopefully BioWare can release a patch to fix this for future gaymers who may wish to walk this path. Overall, excepting the last bit, I will say I was impressed with how the romance both addressed Zevran's sexuality, and allowed a full-fledged same-sex romance in terms of the conversations and sex--not treating it as some other entity incapable of having love develop.

So, yes, Zevran may be easy to bed, but it is inversely difficult to win his heart.


Mocarth said:

Actually that same issue is on the PS3 as well

Limeade said:

There are quite a many gay/lesbian character in the Dragon Age franchise. Which is encouraging to me and appreciated by me.

Minor relationship spoilers...

In the book, the Calling, there are two male Grey Wardens, Julien and Nicolas that are gay lovers.

In the flash game, Dragon Age: Journies, there are two female Grey Wardens that are lesbians. Martine and Feren.

Paragon Branka, Oghren's wife, apparently left him and had a lover in her female handmaiden/captain Hespith.

Leliana and her mentor Marjolaine had a love relationship with one another. And you also do meet Marjolaine in the game, if you pursue Leliana's personal quest.

It also seems fairly implied and stereotypically obvious that Master Wade and his manclerk Herran in Denerim's Wade Emporium are a gay couple of some sort. The way they go on with one another and their demeanor.

In the male Human Noble Origin, you can get a sidequest with Dairren that lets you invite him back to your room later to 'get to know each other better.' And you wake up in bed together.

In the female Human Noble Origin, you can get a sidequest with Iona that lets you invite her back to your room later to 'get to know each other better.' And you wake up in bed together. If you talk to your brother, Fergus, before going to bed, he even makes a protective reference - 'If he doesn't treat you right, I'll have a talk with him' -- of your sleeping with another man.

As male or female PC, you can bed the pirate Isabella in Denerim's brothel, the Pearl. You can also have threesomes and even a foursome with her. Between Alistair, female PC, and Isabella. And various combinations with Zevran and Leliana and male/female PC and Isabella.

At the Pearl, too, you can request same-sex, mixed company, or even get transexual NPCs to bed with.

None of the above is ever seen as wrong or looked down upon, or even referenced in any negative way. It simply is. Even when having same-sex romances with your companions, the rest of the party comments on it but never in a manner of 'whoa omg this is unnatural.' In this setting, it simply Is What It Is. And that is refreshing.

RSL said:

I chose to sacrifice myself instead of Alistair in the end and I seem to recall something in Zevran's epilogue that pretty explicitly stated he'd loved me and never loved again. Pretty sure.

lafon said:

I played through the PS3 version and romanced Zevran as well but I chose to stay in Denerim with Alistair and it was mainly the same ending (he admitted to loving me, he stayed with me for a time at least. . . ) but correctly refered to my character as a male.

DarthAlbert III said:

My male elf mage romanced Zevran much the same way as outlined above. At the end of the game, the same paragraph detailing our exploits was shown, but my gender was correctly listed. I was playing on Xbox 360. FYI.

BrianWilly said:

Yeah, the ending slideshows for the game are tragically, ridiculously bugged across all origins, although I haven't actually encountered one that completely flipped your gender. My male elf rogue romanced Zevran and got the correct gender reference at the end, although we chose to stay in Denerim, which could be the reason. Or it could be because I complimented some NPC's nose, who knows! Apparently, any number of triggers could (and do) go wrong with those slides; I hear the Alistair endings are even more inconsistent, due to the amount of potential outcomes. They really do need to get it patched.

David Gaider said:

That's too bad about the gender switch on the epilogue. For a game with so many variables, it's hard to say what the cause might have been (especially considering some people have had the correct version, it seems) but hopefully we'll be able to fix the issue.

Zevran's romance plays out a little different when he's with a woman, but overall it follows the same path. And he's bisexual in both versions -- a woman can talk about the fact that he's slept with men in his life, as well.

But he was never meant as simply a gay character. He's bisexual, and certainly the option for those seeking a same-sex male romance. I assure you he was like that from his initial concept, however. I wrote his romance with both paths in mind.


Leilah said:

Definitely an annoying bug, but better than the last issue I had with a same-sex Baldur's Gate romance. My female character ended up seducing another woman. It was going swimmingly until we had the conversation about how I had gotten her pregnant. And there wasn't a "umm... that's not how babies work, dear" option. ;) Glad you guys are working on it, Dave - excellent game so far!

Nocens said:

It’s a pity that the gender reference was wrong at the end.

The thing about Zevran for me, and this is strange, is that all my characters end up with him. I try all other options. I play male, female, I try to be truthful to any of the other companions, but then Zev comes along and I’m slowly seduced, and I find myself thinking, “what the heck, I’ll marry Alistair in the next play-through…”

I just love getting him to open up, to get to know him, to see his own self-doubts which are hidden at a much greater depth than any of the other companions’, but is still there. He is wonderfully written, to me, and it is such a relief for me to see a bisexual character in a game or movie that doesn’t irritate me – I’m a bisexual myself. I know that Leliana is bisexual too, but she seems much ‘easier’ than Zevran. True, she takes forever to get into bed, but winning her heart is ridiculously simple and because of it, I tend to think it’s less valuable. Zevran sleeps around a lot but the moniker “easy lover” doesn’t apply when it comes to his emotions. I feel a triumph at every step closer and was practically gnawing my fingers before the end results after everything was said and done.

Would you know, when I first got hold of the toolset and changed his appearance a little, I loaded the game and was first happy to see him looking even lovelier than usual, but then started feeling bad about it and went back to his original face. Perhaps not as pretty as the one I had made, but that face is HIS.

To David Gaider – it is Zevran’s (and ultimately your!) fault that I have ended up playing through the game three times and now closing in on my fourth. Zevran made the game for me.

Matthew DH said:

It just happened to me on the 360 ugh! But I was expecting the glitch so no harm done.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Recent Comments

Matthew DH on Romancing Zevran: It just happened to me on the 360 ugh! But I was expecting the glitch so no harm done....

Nocens on Romancing Zevran: It’s a pity that the gender reference was wrong at the end. The thing about Zevran for me, and this...

Leilah on Romancing Zevran: Definitely an annoying bug, but better than the last issue I had with a same-sex Baldur's Gate romance. My female...

David Gaider on Romancing Zevran: That's too bad about the gender switch on the epilogue. For a game with so many variables, it's hard to...

BrianWilly on Romancing Zevran: Yeah, the ending slideshows for the game are tragically, ridiculously bugged across all origins, although I haven't actually encountered one...

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