Cole (Dragon Age)

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Character
Name: Cole
Occupation:
Relationships: Bunny (sister, deceased)
Maryden Halewell (girlfriend, player-determinant)
Fandom: Dragon Age: Inquisition
Other: Cole at Dragon Age Wiki

Cole by Liedeke
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Cole is a character in the Dragon Age franchise. He was first introduced in a story in the novel Dragon Age: Asunder and later appeared as a recruitable companion character in Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Canon

In Dragon Age: Asunder, Cole is a young mage who was arrested by Templars after killing his abusive father, and was taken to The Spire, where he was tortured before being forgotten and starving to death in a remote cell. The spirit of compassion the mage had befriended assumed his personality, memories, and appearance, becoming corporeal in the process. This spirit had the unique ability to sense the pain of mortals and to make himself unseen. He became the mysterious "Ghost of the Spire," killing mages and spreading terror through the Spire. To him, these killings were not murders, but acts of mercy intended to spare mages the torments of the Circle. He eventually stopped and left the Spire.

In Dragon Age: Inquisition, Cole can be recruited to join the Inquisition, professing a desire to help people even it means killing. He is unfamiliar with the workings of the mortal world due to his origins as a Fade spirit. Varric, Solas, and the Inquisitor become his mentors. Varric encourages him to connect more with his humanity, while Solas guides him to embrace his spirit side. Cole's decision can be determined by the player.

Fandom

Shipping Discourse

Due to his naive nature, some fans view Cole as child-like or even "child-coded," and thus find shipping him with other characters to be problematic, with some even viewing it as tantamount to underage.[1][2] Others fans see Cole as too alien to be interested in romantic/sexual relationships or headcanon him as asexual. However, it is possible for him to end up in a relationship with a female NPC in the Trespasser DLC.[3]

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People get weird about Cole on both sides, seems like.

I wouldn't say he's a child exactly. Physically he's in his twenties, mentally and emotionally he seems innocent and asexual (or rather, he seems curious about sexual things, but only when it's other people doing them; he doesn't seem to be that interested in having sex or a relationship himself), but he's a spirit, so I'm not sure you can meaningfully measure any kind of age when it comes to him. I think in his current state a romance would be kind of weird - maybe if he matures a little and starts showing any actual interest in romantic stuff, then a romance might work. I think it's going too far to call someone a pedophile or creepy for shipping or not shipping him though.
changhyun
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The idea of a Cole romance creeps me out a whole lot. Even if someone imagines it happening after Inquisition events, Cole still has a long way to go, so much more to learn about the world and how to live in it. And who is to say he will even be interested in that sort of thing anyway. An asexual Cole would make sense to me.

For me personally I'm one of those that calls Cole my baby...but I do that for plenty of characters. He's adorable and curious and I feel protective. As for my inquisitor, he was like an older brother type. Cole could be weird or aggravating at times, especially bringing up private things when he shouldn't, but he still looked out for him and didn't want him to be mistreated. He might be a weird spirit thing in an ugly hat but he's my weird spirit thing in an ugly hat.
ma-ma-ma-macaroni[1]

Neurodivergent Interpretations

Patrick Weekes stated in a 2016 interview with BioFan that they drew on elements of autism spectrum disorder when writing Cole in Dragon Age: Inquisition. However, when directly asked whether Cole might be considered autistic on Twitter in 2014, Weekes replied that they saw likening an otherworldly spirit to an autistic person as "insulting to neuroatypical folks."[4]

Cole was in many ways high-school Patrick. It's high-school Patrick merged with Cole from Dragon Age: Asunder, the novel that David Gaider wrote where Cole first appeared. So I took that and I said, Okay, this is a character...he's young, he's figuring himself out, he is so sensitive. He is so unversed in how people work [...] He's looking for people who can teach him what it means to be people. And while I don't identify as being part of the autism spectrum or the neuroatypical spectrum, there's elements of that that run in my family. I know what the experience of being overstimulated, emotionally overwhelmed, having to withdraw and get off into a place where I can just sort of tap the wall to reconnect with reality again. That's a part of me. And that was something that I took to Cole and said, this is Cole. Cole is in a world, he is a raw nerve, he has no filters that can help -- that can protect him from all the senses he's being bombarded with and is totally unprepared for. And this is how he reacts and deals with it. That's why he's part sponge, just soaking up everyone's pain and hurt and then voicing it at inappropriate times, and part of why he has to withdraw sometimes.
Patrick Weekes, 2016[5]

Some autistic fans have nonetheless embraced the interpretation of Cole as autistic or having autistic traits, particularly as an accurate, relatable reflection of sensory overload and emotional hypersensitivity in an autistic adult.

So, when I played Inquisition for the first time I noticed the specific moments of Cole expressing autistic traits occurred during his personal quest where he becomes incredibly emotional and distraught, having what is described by the autistic community as a "meltdown". He gets angry, to the point where verbal reasoning fails and storms off. Other times include some of his mannerisms and actions I subtly noticed, such as how he often gestures with his hands when speaking and the tilts of his head. Another noticeable aspect was the lack of eye contact - a very common trait of autistic individuals.

Perhaps my favorite trait that corresponds to autism with Cole is his empathy. He is incredibly empathetic and understanding; both because he is written as a spirit who literally embodies compassion and because autistic people tend to be more empathetic and able to feel emotions more deeply than neurotypical individuals, even if they cannot understand the more subtle nuances and social cues behind them.

Speaking of social cues... during some party banters, Cole often uses his powers to read minds, often without permission and not realizing what he is doing is wrong or off-putting. I noticed when party members told him to stop, Cole often ignored them or simply went quiet. This lack of social cue understanding is another big part of autism.
Sythra[6]
I know a lot of people think the autistic child with magic powers is over done. Cole is an ADULT an Adult with Asd a trope that is often overlooked in a society where it's hard for adults with disabilities to get service or jobs or even be recognized.
Higheverweave[7]

In light of these interpretations, some see the shipping controversy, specifically the interpretation of Cole as a child or child-like entity, as perpetuating ableist stereotypes.

Cole isn't a baby, and he doesn’t need to be emotionally protected from the dirty sex stuff.

Canonically based off an autistic child, he's an adult with autistic characteristics. Who has narrated with fine clarity what was going through the Inquisitor's head while they're being screwed senseless. He only asks what an Orlesian tickler is because it’s a sex toy. Idfk what it is either, I'd ask too.

Cole understands so much more than people give him credit for.
MasterOfOne[8]
Patrick Weeks confirmed Cole is an autistic adult - so comparing him to a child is incredibly infantilizing and ableist.
Elvenasscheek[9]

Fanworks

Fanart

Cosplay

Art Gallery

Resources

References

  1. ^ a b "What's the general opinion on Cole in regards to the relationship between him and the Inquisitor? [Slight spoilers]" post on r/dragonage on Reddit
  2. ^ Meta by dragonageconfessions
  3. ^ "Dragon Age: Inquisition - Trespasser DLC - Cole and his girlfriend" on YouTube
  4. ^ Tweet by @patrickweekes
  5. ^ "BioFan Interview | Patrick Weekes [BioWare Lead Writer for Dragon Age]" on YouTube
  6. ^ "[DAI Spoilers] Cole and Autism" post on r/dragonage on Reddit
  7. ^ Meta by Higheverweave on Tumblr
  8. ^ "[Spoilers All] What are some common misinterpretations/misconceptions in the fandom that irrate you?" post on r/dragonage on Reddit
  9. ^ Note by Elvenasscheek on a post by dragonageconfessions on Tumblr