Anders goes through a massive personality change in the span of the year it takes between Dragon Age Origins - Awakening and Dragon Age 2.While his starting canon point will be Awakening, it’s still important to look at how he changes later to emphasize how he’d been.
When the Hero of Ferelden meets Anders in Vigil’s Keep, he’s burning a darkspawn to death in self-defense. His immediate reaction to seeing them is to proclaim he wasn’t the one to kill the dead templars around him, although he quickly demonstrates his lack of care for their demise when he flippantly talks about the ‘funny sound’ one of them made while dying. This is Anders: the funny man even in the face of something potentially serious or even life-threatening.
All through the game, his dialogue with the other companions is jokey and teasing, largely at the other person’s expense, though he gets a taste of his own medicine on a couple of occasions. The only time he ever seems to ‘get serious’ is when discussing danger or his own freedom and, even then, it’s often accompanied with a flippant tone or one-liner like it only slightly matters. Obviously a lie when even just looking at the subject of his freedom, he ran away from his Circle (school/prison/learning place for mages) seven times. But that’s also Anders, he likes to hide behind humor and sarcasm because it makes others laugh and throws them off from looking any deeper. It means they’re less likely to take him seriously which, in turn, means they might not get attached.
Anders had a lot of friends in his hometown and he had a normal life with his mother and father whom he loved very much. Then he found out he had magic and his father turned on him and called the templars who chained him up and dragged him away. He shut down after that, he didn’t talk for a long time and even got his name, ‘Anders’ from the fact he never told anyone his name, so he was given one. This shut out of everyone else around him continued until Anders’ first lover and close friend, Karl, but then he was taken away (to Kirkwall) and it only solidified his attempt to keep people at arm's length. Of course, then the Hero of Ferelden comes along and things don’t always go as Anders plans, there’s always someone who works their way close, mostly to Anders’ surprise, but always by showing him the support he never felt he got from the Circle.
Mostly, what’s under all that humor (some of it is genuine, that whole idea of you either laugh or you cry) is a bunch of anger and fear. Anders is angry at the System, how he’s been treated, how he was yanked from his perfectly happy life to a place where he felt like a hated prisoner for abilities he never asked for. Instead of coming to hate his magic as some mages do, he came to hate the people who hated him for his magic. Largely the templars, but also people like his father who were simply too ignorant and entrenched in Chantry (church) doctrine to think any differently. This anger comes up in a few places, mostly whenever he talks about the templars or the circle, but in Awakening it really only crops up if the Hero betrays Anders, leaving him hurt and (understandably) angry.
On the other hand, Anders’ fear is everywhere. He’s very flippant about danger, as mentioned before, but any time something dangerous comes up he makes jokes about wanting to avoid it and avoid dying. He fears losing his freedom and losing his life and there’s even a point where you only gain favor with him by not taking him on a dangerous mission. All-in-all, Anders is a great selfish coward in Awakening. When the spirit, Justice, asks Anders why he isn’t concerned with the plight of mages everywhere, Anders responds that he’s too busy worrying about himself to worry about anyone else.
When Justice loses his host and Anders decides to help a friend out (and also fight against the Wardens who had turned on him) and accepts the spirit into himself, everything changes. About six months after the Hero of Ferelden left the role of Warden Commander and went on to other things, the spirit Justice loses his host. Anders decides to accept Justice into himself to give Justice a chance to live, wanting to ‘help a friend out.’ It also worked out since Justice then used Anders to tear the Wardens who’d betrayed Anders apart, allowing him to escape the Wardens. Unfortunately, Justice’s presence changed a lot more than Anders’ power levels.
The spirit twisted into something cross between Justice and Vengeance with Anders’ anger added in the mix, leaving the mage volatile in his upset and now driven with a new purpose. With Justice a part of him, Anders remembered their discussion about other mages still being trapped under templar scrutiny and set out to try and free them as he was now free. He started with his once-lover, Karl, in the city of Kirkwall and that’s where DA2 starts for him.
Upon first hearing of Anders, it’s obvious he’s been changed, whether for the better or not is up for debate, but changed nonetheless. Word on the street is that he heals people for free and without question, using his Spirit Healer’s powers, (a power that draws on Anders’ spirit and takes from him) a far cry from the man who was more concerned with his own happiness and comfort. When Hawke finds him in Darktown, that rumor proves to be true. Not just that, but Anders makes it clear he has made it his goal to end the mage oppression and abuse running rampant in Kirkwall, it’s a singular goal that ends up consuming most of his life. It’s arguable that it’s Justice causing the urge for this goal, but Anders himself later admits he and Justice’s wills are so intertwined as the years went on, that they might as well be the same anyway.
In the first few years of knowing Anders, a touch of his old humor can still be found, even if it’s far more dampened (perhaps more real than before) as he makes jokes with Varric left right and center. It’s also made clear that Justice didn’t just change his indifference but completely flipped his selfishness into selflessness, he does whatever he can to help others whenever he can and putting himself at risk is no longer something to be feared, but something he expects. He’s turned into the type of person to heal someone else while he’s bleeding out. So much so, he takes it on himself to do his cause’s dirty work without involving any of his friends so the consequences might fall only on him.
Of course, as the years go on and nothing changes, it wears down on Anders and he very nearly gives up but for Justice’s drive and Hawke’s support. Perhaps, if not for those things, what he did later wouldn’t have happened. Seven years since he accepted Justice into himself, he finally brings the Mage-Templar conflict to a head when he blows up Kirkwall’s chantry, something he’d planned for a few months and even got Hawke’s unwitting help. It’s no surprise in these later years he shuts Varric down for their usual banter as he realizes he’s turned into the kind of man to lie to and betray the trust of the very man who meant the most to him. Just as people had betrayed him before, now he was turning around and doing the same to Hawke who’d never once done that to Anders. In these last scenes before the finale, it’s clear Anders is trying to say his good-byes to the only group of friends he’d managed to keep and even changes his wardrobe to something all black, befitting a funeral.
What he hadn’t planned for in all of this was Hawke sparring him and urging him to fight for the mages as atonement. Anders felt guilt for killing a bunch of innocent people, but not remorse for the act itself, he perceived his death as justice for his crime, but, instead, living with that guilt and trying to help the people in this new world he’d made was his sentence.
A human mage whose specialty is Spirit Healing, a rare and powerful healing class in Thedas.
This is his wiki with a more extensive look at Anders' history and his involvement in both Awakening and Dragon Age 2. For the purposes of this app, Anders knows the Hero of Ferelden as Riona Cousland and knows Hakwe as a white-haired man with a diplomatic personality whom he fell in love with.
During Awakening, Riona recruited everyone including Anders and tried to help him retrieve his phylactery in Amaranthine even though it didn’t pan out. Her personality and actions and support made them friends and Anders considers her one of his few and closest friends. She’s also the one who gave him his kitten, Ser-Pounce-Alot.
As far as important choices go for Anders during Dragon Age 2, he had Hake’s full support throughout the game, resulting in Hawke saving the girl Justice (as Anders) nearly killed. He also had Hawke’s support while he placed his explosives in the Chantry. When Anders’ plan to blow up the Chantry came to fruition, Hake spared his life and had Anders fight in the battle on the mage’s side to atone; after the battle, the two went on the run for the next three years until the Inquisition called Hawke away, leaving Anders alone in a remote town in Orlais.
Anders is tall, standing at around six feet, and rail-thin, though anyone who gets a good look at him would be able to tell his thinness is more from malnutrition and poor self-care rather than being built that way. Anders is built more on the broad side and once sported vainly toned muscles which have now all but vanished, although his arms are still fairly well toned.
With the way Anders keeps himself, it's clear he was once quite a looker and could maybe even clean up nice now if he tried, but he generally just looks tired and ragged with near-constant stubble, longer hair roughly thrown into a half-ponytail and permanently set dark circles under his eyes and more frown lines than smile lines.
Anders has amber eyes and dirty-blond hair with streaks that change from bright blond to brown to red, depending on how they catch the light. He has high cheekbones and a long, pointed nose with narrowly set eyes and relatively full lips.
As far as Anders' magic goes, he has all of the Creation tree, Spirit Bolt, Dispel Magic and Spirit Mastery. He also has Chain Lightning, Tempest, Fireball, Mind Blast and Crushing Prison. He also has a specialty tree called Vengeance, but the entire lower branch is no longer available due to being separated from Justice.
Anders is also an Herbalist, meaning he can identify and use plants for potions and poultices.
CANON: Dragon Age
CANON POINT: Dragon Age: Inquisition
MIND READING: Y
+Thanks to Allen Walker, Anders is no longer merged with Justice
+As of one of the Fleet's stops, Anders now has two tattoos: a red one on his wrist and a black one on his shoulder.