Leliana is an Orlesian bard and formally involved in a criminal ring dealing in political secrets. She was raised in Orlais by Lady Cecile, an Orlesian noble but her mother was Ferelden and she considers herself to be such while knowing much about the royal court and Orlesian culture.
While on a high profile mission she snuck a look at documents that were to be planted and discovered her mentor, Marjolaine was committing an act of treason. Caring deeply for her mentor Leliana warned Marjolaine of the danger that would follow such deeds but this was misinterpreted by Marjolaine as betrayal. She framed Leliana for the documents which resulted in Leliana and her companions Tug and Sketch being tortured.
Tug was killed but Sketch and Leliana managed to escape and went their separate ways. She went to the chantry, the only place that would take her and remained there until she supposedly received a dream from the ‘maker’ that told her to join the Grey Wardens and assist them in their quest to end the Blight. Marjolaine knew of Leliana’s escape and stay at the chantry but was surprised when Leliana made no attempt to kill her and still believing Leliana a traitor sent assassins when she joined the Grey Warden’s. Despite Leliana’s sense of mercy and forgiveness she decides Marjolaine must die.
Leliana has a strong love of fashion, hair, particularly shoes, and a strong belief that everyone deserves a second chance and mercy no matter their deeds, history, or severity of their crimes. She is kind to everyone, always seeing the bright side of things and offering compliments to her companions while trying to make light of any rough situations they may be in.
She appears in Dragon Age II using the alias "Sister Nightingale" and was sent to Kirkwall to assess whether an Exalted March against the city is necessary. While tracking down a group known as the "Resolutionists" she encounters Hawke and asks him to convince Elthina to flee Kirkwall and seek shelter in the Grand Cathedral of Val Royeaux. She can be asked if she is "the Leliana" who helped the Wardens to which she will confirm saying she has not seen them in many years, if in a romance will claim the Warden was "dear to her heart", and if the Warden married Anora or Alistair says they are "a good King/Queen". Leliana appears again at the end seeking her old ally’s aid in ending the Mage-Templar War.
In Mark of the Assassin she makes a brief cameo appearance and is revealed to be well acquainted with Tallis.