became a runaway success, the series was quickly expanded with further video games and other media.
Introduction to the setting
says that in the beginning, The Maker
created the Fade
, an ever-changing realm populated by never-changing creatures, the spirits
. Over time, however, He grew displeased with His first children and created the material world—a new, immutable realm separated from the Fade by the Veil. He populated the new realm by the ever-changing mortals, who only saw the Fade in their dreams and whose divine souls
returned to His Golden City in the middle of it upon death. Some spirits (particularly the ones associated with negative emotions
), however, found a way through the Veil, spreading the secrets of magic
and Demonic Possession
into the material world.
Eight thousand years ago, the continent of Thedasnote
belonged to the Elvhenan, the civilization of a beautiful immortal race calling themselves "elvhen" or "elves"
. They worshiped their own pantheon of gods, traversed into the Fade, and mastered the art of magic. Beneath the Earth
, in the meantime, the dwarves
built a great empire of the underground cavern cities, or "thaigs", connected by a vast tunnel network known as the Deep Roads. For over six thousand years, their civilizations flourished—until the first humans arrived from across the north-eastern sea.
Although initially friendly, the relationship between elves and humans, particularly the Tevinter tribe, rapidly deteriorated when the elves realized that prolonged contact with the "quicklings"
cost them their immortality
. By then, however, the Tevinters already learned the secrets of elven magic and, turning on their teachers, crushed the Elvhenan culture. The surviving elves were reduced to nomadic outcasts or slaves, a shadow of their former glory. The dwarves fared better, especially since they supplied the Tevinters with lyrium
—outcroppings of the Fade in mineral form that they used to power their magic.
With their knowledge of the Fade and an extensive use of Blood Magic
, the Tevinter Magisters
forged an Empire
that spanned all of Thedas. But man grew proud and eventually set out to commit the ultimate sacrilege: to enter the Fade in the flesh and to set foot into the Golden City itself. By spending most of the world's lyrium (and slave blood
) supplies, a group of Magisters infiltrated the City but were cast out by the Maker, cursed and irreversibly corrupted. They became the first Darkspawn, mindless creatures existing solely to exterminate all other life. The City itself was corrupted, as well, henceforth known as the Black City, and the Maker abandoned His second children, just as He did with the spirits before.
The Darkspawn fled underground and it wasn't long before they grew in number, using the Deep Roads of the Dwarven Empire to quickly breed a horde. Soon, they found and corrupted one of the draconic Old Gods
of Tevinter, Dumat, who was locked in an underground prison by the Maker millenia ago. The first to face the assault of the Darkspawn Horde
led by Dumat were the dwarves. Thanks to the invention of golems
, they managed to hold on for decades but when the secret of golem-making was lost, the dwarven civilization collapsed, losing all but a handful of thaigs. Meanwhile, on the surface, the Horde laid siege on all of Thedas, splintering the Tevinter Empire into many disjointed enclaves. After almost two centuries of continuous strife, The Order
of the Grey Wardens
emerged to lead the combined armies of Thedas to victory over Dumat and his Horde. The entire conflict became known as "the Blight".
The Tevinter Empire survived the Blight, if only barely, but soon thereafter, a massive barbarian invasion from the south, led by the lady warrior and prophetess Andraste
, dealt it the final blow. Andraste was eventually betrayed and executed by the Tevinters, but her followers compiled her teachings into the Chant of the Light and formed the Chantry
to spread it. The newly-founded southern kingdoms were quick to embrace the new religion and to cut ties to the Tevinters, whose reputation was forever soiled by their role in starting the Blight and Andraste's execution. By association, magic itself became ostracized and viewed as pure evil by the Andrastian congregation.
Before anyone in Thedas could catch their breath, another Darkspawn horde rose from the Deep Roads, led by another corrupted Old God. Although only half as long as the First, the Second Blight had far-reaching consequences. One of them was the rise of the Orlesian Empire in the south and its propagation of the Andrastian faith, even into the Tevinter Empire remnant. Another was the popular resentment against the elves
, who, despite having been granted rights and land for the first time in centuries for their support of Andraste, did little to help other nations defeat the new Blight. And perhaps the most significant event was the formation of the Circles of Magi
as a compromise between the public distrust of mages and the benefit of having them fight the Darkspawn. Ostensibly places of learning
, all Circles were controlled by the Chantry and closely guarded by the paranoid Mage Killers
of the Templar Order.
The growing hostilities and religious friction between Orlais and the new elven homeland of the Dales ultimately escalated into an open war. Who precisely fired the first shot varies between sources
, with the Chantry claiming the Dalish attacked the town of Red Crossing, while the Dalish claim the Chantry sent Templars in response to the expulsion of missionaries from their borders. What is known is that after Dalish forces sacked Val Royeaux
, the Chantry called for an Exalted March
and successfully rallied neighboring nations to their aid, crushing the Dalish resistance and forcing the elves to either relocate into the Alienages
or return to the nomadic lifestyle. The rift between the "City Elves
" and the "Dalish Elves
" grew ever wider in the following centuries.
The Third Blight had come and gone, serving only to deepen the conflict between the two empires, Tevinter and Orlesian. Eventually, even the Chantry itself was split along these lines when the "Imperial Chantry" of Tevinter broke off (notably taking a much more liberal stance on magic and slavery) and the Orlesian Chantry called for not one but four Exhalted Marches against it. All of them, however, failed to complete their objective of bringing Tevinter congregation back into a unified Chantry before the Fourth Blight put an end to them.
Almost as soon as the Fourth Blight was repelled, a new invasion swept from the north-east: the Qunari, followers of the religion/philosophy of Qun, crossed the sea and captured a bulk of northern Thedas (including most of Tevinter), converting the locals by force. The Chantry called for more Exalted Marches, which eventually beat the Qunari back from the mainland. A truce, limiting the Qunari presence to the northern islands, was signed by all human nations except the Tevinters, who continued to wage a Forever War
for their old lands. Meanwhile, trouble stirred in the south again, where the Orlesian Empire conquered and installed a puppet on the throne of Ferelden, birthplace of Andraste. Lasting for half a century, the Orlesian occupation was resisted by the local nobles and finally overthrown some thirty years before the start of Origins