Franchise: Dragon Age

The Dragon Age franchise began with Dragon Age: Origins, a Western RPG released in 2009 by the Canadian game developer BioWare as a Spiritual Successor to their own Dungeons & Dragons-based Baldur's Gate series. When Origins became a runaway success, the series was quickly expanded with further video games and other media.

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    The Dragon Age Media 

Official media

Core role-playing games

  • Dragon Age II (2011)
    • The Exiled Prince, Legacy, Mark of the Assassin (DLC)
    • Dragon Age II: Exalted March (a canceled expansion pack)

Other games

  • Dragon Age Journeys (2009), an Adobe Flash game.
  • Dragon Age Legends (2011), originally a Facebook strategy RPG app, now available offline.
  • Heroes of Dragon Age (2013), a free online turn-based strategy game for iPad and iPhone.
  • The Last Court (2014), a free text adventure RPG made in collaboration with Failbetter Games. Included as part of Dragon Age Keep.

Novels

Due to a large freedom of choice found in the games and the fact that saved games (including all story-relevant choices) are transferred between games, the canonicity of the official media set after Origins is a murky matter. It is best to think of these ancillary media as part of the "BioWare canon", which complements but does not override a player's personal game canon.

  • The Stolen Throne (2009; prequel to Origins, focusing on the political history of Ferelden)
  • The Calling (2009; ditto, but focusing more on the Grey Wardens and the Darkspawn mysteries)
  • Asunder (2011; describes the escalation leading to the Mage-Templar war between the second and third games)
  • The Masked Empire (2014; focuses on the Orlesian civil war and an elf uprising, concurrent with Asunder)
  • Last Flight (2014; another look into the Grey Warden history and particularly, their association with the griffons)

Comic books

Non-interactive visual media

Other media

  • The World of Thedas (2013), the official multi-volume Universe Compendium of Dragon Age.
  • Dragon Age Keep (2014), an online app that stores players' personal canons from previous installments for import into later ones, succeeding and replacing the classic save file import.

    The Dragon Age Setting 

Introduction to the setting

The summary below is based on in-game information, which has proven unreliable in certain aspects before, especially in regards to the parts before the Second Blight.

The Chantry 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.

    The Dragon Age Tropes 

Sub-pages

Other tropes common to the series:

  • Addiction Powered: The Templars' abilities are boosted by Lyrium, which is highly addictive. All warriors can learn Templar abilities without ever getting to the lyrium-eating stage, which raises questions about how essential it is. Of course, the Chantry keeps its Templars almost as tightly leashed as the mages to prevent too many people learning their secrets.
  • Aerith and Bob: The names of the four main types of darkspawn: genlocks, hurlocks, sharlocks, and... ogres. This also applies to character names to an extent. There are a lot of real-world names mixed in with the more fantastic fare. Justified in the codices: Genlocks, Hurlocks, and Sharlocks (labeled in-game by the nickname "Shrieks") are the ancient terms for Blight-mutated Dwarves, Humans, and Elves respectively. But Ogres come from blighted Kossith Qunari, who are newcomers to the region, so Ogres apparently didn't exist until recently.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The darkspawn (except for the Architect and the Messenger, who are morally ambiguous). Demons as well, though some appear to be simply amoral. Plenty are pure evil though, and even the nicest ones are totally indifferent to the suffering they and their ilk cause.
  • And Man Grew Proud: According to the Chantry, it was men trying to conquer the "Golden City" in the heart of The Fade that first drew the darkspawn, and caused The Maker, their creator deity, to shun them. However, the first thing that caused Him to shun them was when they started worshiping dragons instead of Him. Then they entered the Golden City, and He shunned them harder. Still later, he shunned them again for the death of Andraste. He is a very passive-aggressive deity.
  • Anti-Hero: The Grey Wardens' mission statement is to "protect the lands from the Blight, no matter the cost". They are expected to sacrifice themselves without a second thought. They'll sacrifice others just as easily. Let's just say that no one will look twice at Duncan for killing Jory... In gameplay terms, this means that no matter what action you take, it's the right one if it helps you in stopping the Blight. Hence the lack of Karma Meter.
  • Anti-Magic: The Glyph of Neutralization does this. Templars, who are trained to fight mages, have higher resistance to magic and can dispel status effects and glyphs. Dwarves get a very low resistance as well, a trade-off for not being able to use magic themselves.
  • Armor and Magic Don't Mix: Magic and heavy armor don't mix for two reasons: heavier armor sets tend to have high requirements on Strength, which the mages generally don't develop, and also make casting spells more expensive, effectively reducing their mana pools. It is, however, possible to subvert this in Dragon Age: Origins if you manage to unlock the Arcane Warrior mage specialization, which checks Strength restrictions against your Magic score instead.
    • In Dragon Age II, Mages tend to stick to wearing robes or clothing adorned with the bare minimum amount of armour, such as gauntlets, bevots and spaulders; they sacrifice protection for more flexibility in spellcasting.
  • Asteroids Monster: in Dragon Age II at the climax during the third act. If Hawke sides with the mages, First Enchanter Orsino eventually turns into an Abomination, and multiplies after Hakwe and his/her party defeat his initial form.
  • Autosave: Dragon Age: Origins has the game autosave at certain predefined locations while Dragon Age II pretty much saves automatically each time the player enters a new area. Both have up to four autosave slots.
  • Black Magic: Blood Magic is considered this due to its ghastly power source, ability to take control of people (like, say, a king or a noble which Avernus admits he did to help the Grey Wardens in their rebellion long ago), and just being creepy in general. Due to the Chantry's constant preaching against the very real dangers of magic, almost everyone in Ferelden who isn't a mage (and even one mage NPC) considers all magic Black Magic. The Qunari have an even harsher stance against magic, and just cut out the tongues and chain to leashes any potential mages born to them to prevent them from ever casting spells.
    • It's worth noting that Dragon Age II shows that even non-Mages are capable of using magic if they've made a deal with a demon, such as in the case of Lady Harrimann. Presumably however, the demon itself was responsible for providing the magic and they were merely responsible for directing it.
    • Similarly, certain forms of magic are able to be tapped into by non-Mages, such as warriors who can become Reavers via ritually consuming the blood of Dragons. Similarly, Avernus' research into the Taint actually allows Wardens to weaponise their own blood. A non-Mage Hawke uses a limited form of Blood Magic in the Legacy DLC for Dragon Age II, since their blood is the only thing capable of breaking the seals of an Ancient Grey Warden prison.
  • Black Speech: While it never shows up outside of cutscenes, the appearance of the Darkspawn is frequently heralded by an ominous whispering. Possibly this is meant to indicate that the Warden is sensing them.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Being a mage pretty much means you have a big neon sign reading "POSSESS HERE" in the eyes of Demons. This isn't quite as great a danger as the Chantry makes out, however, so long as you're properly trained. Of course, everyone religious you encounter would pretty much gladly burn you at the stake if they weren't terrified by your powers — the first thing they usually assume is that you'll turn them into frogs.
    • It's not easy being a Grey Warden either. The first test of your mettle is the Joining: be out of luck and die horribly. Be lucky and die horribly too — only this time it takes about thirty years to drive you mad from being able to sense darkspawn thoughts, if you don't commit suicide-by-darkspawn in the Deep Roads first. In the interim, you'll have insane dreams about the Archdemon talking to you: if you're lucky, you, too, may be able to understand it one day! Unless a Blight is happening. Then you can throw yourselves against the Archdemon, hoping to slay it in a process that completely annihilates your soul! Oh, and one more teeny tiny detail: Ever wanted to have a kid? Good luck with that, especially with another Grey Warden. And in the first game, the Grey Wardens of Ferelden are composed of two new recruits who are being hunted down as criminals.
    • Being a mage and a Grey Warden makes the disadvantage of each null and void: since you're a Grey Warden, you're free to leave the Circle tower without the Templars hunting you down (legally, at least) and you're even free to learn the forbidden art of blood magic thanks to the "anything that helps us kill darkspawn is allowed" exemption of the Grey Wardens. As for the problem of the taint, as Avernus demonstrates, a mage can cheat with its effect for a couple of centuries. Sure, you're still supposed to risk your life against the darkspawn, but if you're as broken as the Warden-Commander of Ferelden, chances are that nothing short of an Archedemon will pose any threat to you past the first decade or so.
      • And Avernus was able to live for that extra few hundred years while in a near constant war with the demons occupying the same building as him, including the reanimated bodies of his Gray Warden comrades, and the possessed corpse of his former commander. All that, and he seems to have aged about thirty years.
    • Being a Grey Warden means you can sense the darkspawn, giving you adequate warning of when they are near. The downside, that very ability also allows the darkspawn to find you. Even if you try to run away, the darkspawn will find you... they always find you!
  • Blood Knight: Qunari, as part of their culture, take pride in their class, so soldiers and warriors want nothing more than to be soldiers and warriors. Also, the dwarven Legion of the Dead, who take dedication of their life to battle to its logical conclusion, and get a head start on the inevitable, by holding their funerals right after they take their vows. Dwarven warriors in general display a positive attitude towards prospects of combat, though it may be more complicated in their case; victory in battle leads to greater social standing in their profession, and one's degree of social standing is very important to how one is perceived in Dwarven society.
  • Blood Magic / The Power of Blood: Blood has power in it, and is a pretty big motif in the games. The box art depicts images made of blood, there's Blood Magic, there's the Gray Wardens' Joining ritual (involving drinking darkspawn and Archdemon blood), the Reavers drink Dragon blood to empower themselves, and Lyrium is called the "raw blood of the Earth" by the dwarves.
  • Bond Creatures: Mabari hounds imprint on a single master until death (either their own or the master's, whichever comes first).
  • Both Sides Have a Point: A major theme in the Mage-Templar conflict:
    • Mages understandably feel extremely oppressed by the fact that they are forced to spend their lives locked in towers under constant supervision for things that they might do. If they escape or have never been part of the Circles, they are relentlessly hunted down, with being sent to the towers being the most merciful outcome, with many killed on the spot or made tranquil. This is in addition to the disturbing number of Templars who abuse their power over them, with the mages often frightened of speaking out.
    • On the other hand, the Templars rightly point out just how destructive a rogue mage could be and the fact that all mages are essentially demon-magnets, who are under constant temptation to give in. The Tevinter Imperium also serves as a textbook example of the worst possible outcome of granting mages the same freedoms as everyone else, with the mages there ruling everything, regularly dabbling in human sacrifice, demon-summoning, etc.
  • Child Soldiers: The Antivan Crows prefer to recruit orphans for training, though it is unclear whether they are actually employed in assassinations. In any case, many of them die during training, and those that make it out alive are usually completely detached from their emotions or conventional morality.
  • The Church: The Chantry
  • Church Militant: So very, very many. The Templars are an entire order of Church (well, Chantry) Militants. The Qunari also have some.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The three protagonists of each game so far have had a distinct color associated with them: blue, as in Warden blue, for the Warden. Red, which both is used frequently for the Amells and Kirkwall, for the Champion. Green, which primarily is the color of the Anchor and Fade, for the Inquisitor. Inadvertently this means they make a Chromatic Arrangement.
  • The Corruption: Darkspawn spread the taint which corrupts the land, kills most plants and animals, and drives the animals and people that don't die insane wherever they pass. Sometimes if lots of them have been in the area it can take decades for it to be habitable again. Grey Wardens drink a concoction consisting of darkspawn blood mixed with lyrium during their Joining ceremony, which (if they survive) makes them immune to immediate effects of the taint but dooms them to a slow death (or worse when they eventually succumb to it in thirty-odd years and gives them the power to sense darkspawn, among others).
  • Crapsack World: Let's face it: It's a fun world to visit via this video game, but none of us would want to live there.
  • Critical Hit Class: The Rogue class in the series, particularly Duelist and Assassin specializations, maximizes critical chance at the cost of defense.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Andraste, who has the cultural role of Jesus, theologically resembles Mohammed, historically looks like a mishmash of Joan of Arc and Boudica, and is named for the goddess worshiped by the Iceni. There's also a literal dragon named Andraste, but that's not the same individual.
  • The Dark Side: Demon magics.
  • Deadly Decadent Court:
    • Dwarven noble society ain't a very nice place. In fact, it almost qualifies as drow noble society, only reskinned with dwarves. Which, given the mythical origins of drow, is kind of appropriate.
    • Orlesian society is even worse. This seems to be the only purpose to their nobility in the first place. They call it "The Game."
    • Antivan society fits as well. Zevran pretty much spells it out for you.
    • Ferelden is a nobles' republic with elected kings (that have traditionally descended from a single bloodline nonetheless). Thus, under Loghain, to secure the throne requires a mix of intrigue, murder, and brute force.
  • Dead Man Walking: All Grey Wardens, due to the Taint. Also, the entire purpose of the Legion of the Dead, to the point of holding a funeral for them when they join up.
    "Since we're dead, we can give our all in the fight against the darkspawn. We have nothing to lose."
  • Death of the Old Gods: The Old Gods of the Tevinter Imperium were struck down by the Maker. Most of the world now worships the Maker and his prophet Andraste, and the Old Gods slumber beneath the Earth until they're awoken, one at a time, to lead the corrupted darkspawn in a Blight. One imagines they are not too wild about this arrangement, given that "awoken" means being tainted by the darkspawn and more or less forced into being their leader. It was the Tevinter Imperium searching for the Old Gods in the first place that caused the creation of the darkspawn. This version of the story, primarily promoted by the Chantry is at least partly true: according to the former Tevinter Mage (now Darkspawn Emissary) Corypheus in Dragon Age II, he and a number of other Tevinter magisters did in fact enter the mythical Golden City. However, his account differs from the Chantry's in his claim that when they entered the City, it was already the twisted, blackened hell that can be seen from anywhere in the Fade.
  • Death Seeker: The Legion of the Dead are dwarves who all did something they feel must be atoned for with their lives. The moment they join the Legion, they are considered dead to the rest of dwarven society, and they spend the rest of their lives fighting darkspawn in the Deep Roads. When Grey Wardens sense that the taint will soon overcome them, they follow the Legion of the Dead's example and go into the Deep Roads to die while taking as many darkspawn with them as they can. Most of the Legion have at least some grudging respect for Wardens for this.
  • Eldritch Location: The Fade, realm of dreams and where everything is a pure reflection of thought instead of materials like the mundane world.
  • Elemental Powers: The primal schools revolve around this.
  • The Empire:
    • The Tevinter Imperium was once this before the first Blight wiped most of their territory out. This is mirrored by what happened to the dwarves.
    • The Orlesian Empire fits this trope the best in the backstory, as it is the biggest and most powerful nation on Thedas and had no qualms with invading and pretty much enslaving Ferelden. They've (mostly) mellowed out by the time of the events of the game, but relations with Ferelden are still a bit rocky. It's his paranoia about King Cailan requesting aid from Orlais that drives Loghain's madness.
    • Though it isn't common knowledge to the surviving elves, The Masked Empire reveals that the ancient Elven empire was like this, including a rigid caste system that even practiced slavery, keeping lower-class elves in conditions not unlike the alienages of the present day.
  • Empty Shell: The Tranquil are one of the more pleasant versions. Cursed to never feel emotion, the Tranquil themselves do not express any discontent with their condition. They also do not express any other feeling about any other subject. They are conscious and rational, but not capable of "feeling" as emoting beings understand it. If you accuse them of not being people, they merely provide a polite counter-argument.
    • The second game, however, puts the Tranquil in a different light. When one of them is briefly brought back, he claims that being a Tranquil is a Fate Worse Than Death and begs you and your party to kill him before he forgets how to feel again. A moment later, the effect that allowed him to feel again wears off, and he asks you "Why are you looking at me like that?" in the Tranquil's usual monotone voice.
  • Enslaved Elves: The elves used to have a highly advanced society and culture, complete with immortality. Then humans showed up, and everything went to hell. Modern elves rank just above slaves in society (and are slaves in some parts of the world), and most don't even know they used to be a powerful race. Even the Grey Warden can do only a little to improve their lot.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The codex on werewolves states that mabari became popular in Ferelden due to their ability to sense werewolves, a necessity in an age where packs of werewolves roamed freely across the landscape and anyone you invited into your home could be afflicted with the curse. Dog demonstrates this ability a few times in-game, and not just with werewolves.
  • Evil Sorcerer: The Tevinter Magisters.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Humans look down on elves.
    • Dalish elves themselves pity the Alienage elves and are mystified why they remain in the human cities. Meanwhile, the Alienage elves also look down on "flat-ears", elves who have left their walled ghettos and attempt to integrate themselves further within the human settlements, believing they are abandoning their community.
    • The higher castes of Orzammar treat the casteless as lower than dirt.
    • Dwarves also look down on humans and elves, considering themselves to be superior. And they also hate "surface dwarves", fellow dwarves who have left Orzammar for the surface world, who are officially considered casteless and exiles.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Dwarves have one. Sten suggests the Qunari see this as a step in the right direction.
  • Fantastic Rank System: The Qunari have one; see the trope page for details.
  • Fantasy Character Classes: Warrior/Rogue/Mage.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • Orlais is the most overt nature, borrowing from a number of different French stereotypes. It is especially done to contrast Ferelden, the England counterpart.
    • Ferelden is basically "Scotland/Anglo-Saxon England" as a foil to the whole high medieval "Plantagenet England/France" thing Orlais has going.
    • Antiva is "a fictionalized version of a medieval Italian city-state like Venice"... where everyone has a Spanish accent for some reason.
    • Word of God says that the Tevinter Imperium is based off the Byzantine Empire, complete with a schismatic version of the Chantry. (Ancient Tevinter was clearly Rome, without a doubt. Modern Tevinter is much smaller, and has converted to Andrastism, but is in religious schism with the other Andrastian nations, and thus...)
    • The Chasind Wilders are clearly based on Celtic tribes from Pre-Roman Britain.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Dragon Age's society has the engineering capacity to produce smokeless coal or build entire cities underground, but only the Qunari have invented gunpowder. Dwarves know a little about explosives, but Qunari assassins have been known to hunt down and kill anyone who looks like they might give the secret of controlled explosions to those not of the Qun.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Averted, mostly. While there are plenty of standard fantasy creatures about, the writers did a decent job in coming up with alternate backstories for each of them that explain coherently how they can all exist in the same setting.
  • Femme Fatalons: Desire Demons.
  • Functional Magic: A person has to be born with the ability to use magic. Magic is performed by drawing power from the Fade. Device magic is also present in enchanted items created by the Tranquil as well as most of the items you create with higher-tier poison-making and trap-making.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The name of the game's world, Thedas, comes from the general working name "THE Dragon Age Setting."
  • God: The Maker has a lot of similarities with the Abrahamic God. Even comes with his own Jesus, who also doubles as Mohammed.
  • Here There Were Dragons: Griffons have died off, the elves have been subjugated and lost their immortality and most of their cultural heritage, magic is rare, dragons were thought to be extinct until a very few were seen at the start of the age, the Tevinter Imperium fell in all but name long ago and its gods were turned into Archdemons, and perhaps the most fantastic thing is the advent of an apocalyptic horde led by said Archdemons and hellbent on destruction. Oh yeah, it's the sticks all right. Of course, main characters being what they are, they'll uncover plenty of special things that are still in the world.
    • The Magic Comes Back: The game is actually called "Dragon Age" because that's the age the story takes place in. Each age is named at the end of the previous one based on portents and signs. It's called the Dragon Age because dragons just recently started reappearing after being nearly hunted to extinction. Hell, one of the endings has Morrigan setting up an old god to be reborn, uncorrupted, as a human. However, no griffons... yet.
  • Gossip Evolution: The series has some fun with how stories mutate and become changed in the telling. For example, in Dragon Age Keep, Varric will tell of how a City Elf Warden "joined a fight for elvish rights"; which is a funny way to say killed a bunch of people rather than be raped/have their fiancee raped by the son of a human lord. It's technically accurate but sure makes it sound more noble than it was.
  • Great Offscreen War: So many it's hard to pick out a single defining one. The oldest known example is the Tevinter Imperium versus the elves of Arlathan though according to Abelas in Inquisition Arlathan was actually destroyed in a civil war. Then came the first four Blights, Andraste's rebellion against the Imperium, the Exalted March on the Dales, and the invasion of the Qunari.
  • Green Rocks: As if the green-blueish veins of lyrium itself weren't enough, Dragon Age also has lifestones, a rare rock that has existed in close proximity to lyrium ore, and as such, they have absorbed some of its traits. Crushing a lifestone gives the user a small bonus to nature resistance for a short time — reasonable enough. But in addition, lifestones enhance the natural properties of other materials used in item creation, and how! These magic rocks are used as natural property 'enhancers' in all sorts of antidotes, salves, poisons, and grease traps, of all things, conveniently making things more healing, more deadly, more acidic, or more greasy just by mere presence, it seems.
  • Ground Punch: The golems repeatedly punch the ground with their fists as their primary area-of-effect attack.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: An odd subversion. Humans and Elves can have children with no problem, but the child is always indistinguishable from a human except for vague facial traits. There are a few references to possible human-dwarf or elf-dwarf crossbreeds, but no details are given and no examples have been confirmed.
  • Harmful to Touch: Lyrium.
  • The Horde: The darkspawn. They especially like to leave people completely burned, hanging on display, or stuck in the ground with a large object lodged in the body.
  • Horned Humanoid: Desire demons. The Qunari also have horns — although the rare ones without horns are actually considered special in their society.
  • Horny Devils: Desire demons, whose idle animations during conversation include acts such as feeling themselves up.
  • Item Amplifier: The series allows you to improve various aspects of your weapons with runic enchantments (removable in the first game, overwritable in the second).
  • Informed Ability: Abominations are said to be so powerful that just one is enough to take down an entire squad of Templars, but both the Warden and Hawke kill dozens of them with little fanfare.
  • Interspecies Romance: While rare, this does happen in the setting and can produce offspring. It is generally seen as taboo among elves to breed with humans as the resulting offspring will always be more human than elf. The player characters of all three games can potentially enter into such a relationship.
  • Jerkass Gods:
    • The Chantry treats the Maker with absolute reverence and makes the quest for His forgiveness of mankind's sins its primary goal, even though their canon makes the Almighty sound like a fickle, rather short-fused deity with a penchant for Disproportionate Retribution, lack of any actual love (or even vague sense of parental responsibility) for His creations, and no problem playing favourites for a girl in ways even Zeus might have called out of line. The Chantry preaches that He is God, but doesn't really make a very good job of painting Him as a good god. Ironically, it's the less orthodox if not borderline-blasphemous interpretations like Leliana's that attempt to paint the Maker as a God who someone may actually want to revere.
    • If the Old Gods of the Tevinter Imperium didn't fit this trope before, they definitely do after they become insane Archdemons that lead the darkspawn in a bid to kill everything. Certainly Corypheus's account, if it can be trusted, indicates that if Dumat knew what the results of his goading would be, he was a complete jerkass.
  • Just a Machine: Many people regard Tranquil mages in such a manner.
  • Knight Templar: Unsurprisingly, the Templars themselves fit this trope perfectly. While they do hunt down bad mages, many of them have a hard time differentiating a bad mage from a perfectly good one, and are all too willing to completely purge the Circle if anything goes wrong. This has happened at least once per century for the last seven hundred years. According to the Codex, candidates for the order are chosen first and foremost for religious conviction and martial aptitude. They're administered lyrium in order to assist them in fighting evil mages — but a conversation with Alistair implies that the entire purpose of the lyrium is to get them addicted, ensuring their loyalty. They track and destroy dangerous rogue mages — but a conversation with Wynne implies that many mage-hunters take a sadistic pleasure in their work. Whether the Templars are necessary is a matter of debate in-game as well as among the fandom.
  • Legendary Weapon: Any weapon (or, indeed, any item) that unlocks a Codex entry. Additionally, if you acquired the weapon Vigilance in Awakening, the epilogue mentions that it went on to become one of these.
  • Legion of Lost Souls: The Dwarven Legion of the Dead, who will accept anyone into their ranks no matter their background and hold a funeral for the new recruit upon their induction.
    • The Grey Wardens themselves are a bit of this too, since they have no objections to drafting anyone - regardless of race, background, or criminal history - who they think will be strong enough to fight the darkspawn.
  • Mage Killer: Templars. Although they have shown on multiple occasions they aren't too competent in their job.
  • Mage Tower: The Circle of Magi is housed in one. First Enchanter Irving lampshades the trope when he grumbles about all the stairs that it necessitates. (Unusually, the tower itself predates the Circle.)
    • A tower seems to be a mage's natural habitat in this setting. The Tevinter magisters are said to have lived in towers since long before the Chantry was founded, and Wilhelm, Avernus, and the Mad Hermit all either built or claimed towers as their homes after slipping the Circle's leash.
  • Magical Society: The Circle of Magi, naturally. Unlike some instances, not all mages are happy to belong to it.
  • Magic Is a Monster Magnet: Mages risk demonic possession.
  • Magic Mirror: The ancient elven civilization of Arlathan used mirrors called Eluvians to communicate over long distances and, very likely, other purposes whose secrets have been lost over millenia.
  • The Magocracy: The Tevinter Imperium, of course.
  • Maximum HP Reduction: Traps and Non Lethal KOs inflict injuries on the characters. In the first game, these included both permanent health damage and other stat penalties, but only the former was present in the sequel. Injuries can generally only be removed by returning to the Player Headquarters or consuming a specific item. In DAO, only Spirit Healers could remove injuries magically (but not from themselves); in DA2, Spirit Healers can instead protect the entire party from injuries with a high-level perk.
  • Meaningful Name: The Antivan Crows. A group of crows is referred to as a murder.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: With some alterations, of course.
  • Medieval Stasis: As explained here, magic pretty much prevents progress, while the Qunari, who are squeamish at best with regard to magic, have access to gunpowder. The dwarves, completely unable to use magic, are advancing too, but slowly. The smokeless fuel they use was invented within living memory, and the ancestral Shield Of Aeducan is pretty much identical to early-game junk shields. Conversely, Cullen in the third game interpretes "held up against the Darkspawn for hundreds of years" to mean "not reinforced to withstand modern siege engines". And how true it is when put in practice...
  • Mental World: The Fade.
  • Mithril: While mithril itself (or anything similarly named) doesn't appear to exist within the Dragon Age setting, its traditional role seems to be taken by the metal silverite. It is exceptionally rare and valuable, is a beautiful, clear silver color, hard enough that it serves as the second best armor material in almost every game it appears in (normally surpassed only by dragonbone) and light/flexible enough that in Inquisition, armor made of it has the unique property of being wearable by members of any character class regardless of type (so even silverite plate armor could be worn by a rogue or a mage. Mind you, this is still rarely done as these classes aren't expected to need heavy armor anyway, wearing their own unique types mostly for the stat bonuses). In Origins, it also appears to be extremely harmful to the darkspawn - likely the reason that Grey Warden weapons and armor are traditionally made of it.
    • Silverite is also not unbreakable, which leads to another reason it is usually only used by the rich: it is nigh impossible to repair completely. Any attempt will leave flaws in the armor or blade that will inevitably break again, and far more severely the next time. Hence, damaged silverite needs to be replaced completely, which is, naturally, expensive.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: Present in the first game, ramped up in the second.
  • Mutant Draft Board: The Circle of Magi, which is mandatory for all mages in human settlements on pain of being hunted down by Templars. Unlike most examples of the trope, the Circle don't control themselves; the Chantry does, though there's a Fraternity of Enchanters who at least get to argue on their charges' behalf. When Wynne appears in Awakening, she mentions that there are factions who want to pull away entirely from the Chantry, which even Anders (who has at least seven escape attempts to his name) considers a recipe for disaster. After six years in Kirkwall, however...
  • Mystical Plague: The Blight disease spread by the darkspawn is said to be a curse by the Maker upon the Tevinter Magisters, who turned into the first darkspawn themselves under its influence.
  • Mythopoeia
  • The Narrator: After his successful tenure as one in Dragon Age II, Varric becomes the franchise's official narrator, as his voice actor Brian Bloom provides the narration in Dragon Age Keep.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: The Grey Wardens.
  • No Biological Sex: Spirits of the Fade are technically genderless. Even Desire Demons only appear to be female to make tempting mortals easier.
  • Once an Episode: The recurring lines "Swooping is bad." and "Your glibness does you no credit." show up at least once a game. Both lines only occur in the presence of jokes.
  • One Myth to Explain Them All: The series is leaning in this direction, as of Dragon Age: Inquisition. It seems that all (or most) of the belief systems in the story have a grain of truth to them somewhere, but the common thread that links them all hasn't been revealed yet.
  • The Order: The Grey Wardens, the Templars, the Circle of Magi, the Legion of the Dead...
  • Our Demons Are Different: They've got a few of the standard traits and tactics, but rather than being diabolical monsters, they're merely the evil half of the population of spirits inhabiting the Fade, the setting's Spirit World.
  • Orwellian Editor: The Chantry and southern Thedosian historians took historical figures that were elves and/or mages and changed them to be... not elves and/or mages. So far, by the time of Dragon Age: Inquisition and its DLCs:
    • It has been revealed that Tyrdda Bright-Axe, the foremother of the Avvar barbarian civilization, was a mage, and that "axe" was likely deliberately fudged by Andrastian scholars from "Hafted weapon". This was discovered because Tyrdda's "bright axe" is actually a mage's fire staff. The Avvar themselves knew this all along, not being subject to Chantry doctrine.
    • Lord Inquisitor Ameridan, the leader of the first Inquisition, is portrayed as a chaste human warrior in Chantry doctrine. None of those three words are applicable to the real deal: He was an elf mage who had an elven lover who was also a mage.
    • The Canticle of Shartan, a part of the Chant that details the leader of the elves who followed Andraste, is apocryphal and does not exist according to the Chantry.
    • Cassandra laments this, that she will be remembered as the one who slew the dragon in Dawn of the Seeker, and none of the mages who were combat support will be remembered simply because they're mages. One wonders just how many other valorous deeds by elves and mages were ereased from history by the Chantry.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons in Dragon Age are quite a rare sight overall, having only recently reappeared after they were long believed to be extinct - heck, the present Dragon Age was only named as such because of the dragons' reappearance! Most of them are fairly small juveniles and drakes; only impregnated female dragons get huge like the beasts of legend and grow wings, and are extremely rare. (In Origins, there's a single true dragon, in the classical fantasy sense, in the game; there are at least two other winged females, but they're much younger and smaller.)
    • There's one in Awakening, or two if you reawaken the Queen of the Blackmarsh.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Subverted. Although they still possess a few of the standard traits (mostly living underground and with a heavy focus on smithing), their rigid caste society and customs make them very different from Tolkien-esque dwarves. One of the classics is completely avoided: dwarven beer is horrible because it is brewed from lichen. The human king acts like that isn't true, but he's kind of a moron. The dwarves also have American accents, as opposed to the traditional Scottish ones. Only a third of them have huge beards as well.
    • They also seem to be quite sexual for standard fantasy dwarves. "Noble hunting", which is a nice way of saying "gold digging", is openly encouraged in dwarven society. There are as many dwarven prostitutes at the Pearl as there are elven prostitutes. And tellingly, the PC can get shagged in only two of the six origin stories, but only the Dwarf Noble origin lets the main character have a three-way with two noble hunters. And you may later find you got one of them pregnant. And the kid got stripped of his caste after you were exiled. So, good luck dealing with that!
  • Our Elves Are Better: Inverted. Elves are discriminated against, have lost their immortality (according to elvish folklore), and were enslaved for a thousand years. The slavery may have ended, but the discrimination, segregation, and second-class citizenry certainly didn't.
    • This is so in terms of stats, too. Instead of having superior physical grace like typical fantasy elves, Dragon Age elves only have bonuses to Willpower and Magic, meaning humans are physically superior to elves in every way; larger, stronger, tougher, and more agile!
    • According to lore, this held true in the distant past however, with elves being immortal beings with a strong connection to the Fade and a shining beacon of civilization.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Ghouls are people and animals infected and driven mad by the darkspawn's taint. They are called ghouls because the taint tends to make them cannibalistic. They also suffer from physical deformations; humans, elves, and dwarves suffer blotchy, rotten-looking skin, while animals can be much more heavily deformed, including spikes protruding from the flesh. Humanoid ghouls end up joining the darkspawn Hive Mind and becoming slaves of the darkspawn, including forging weapons and armor for them. Unless they are women. Then they get to become Broodmothers.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Darkspawn fit the classic Tolkien Orc criteria enough to fit and look enough like Orcs as well. Indeed, they're closer to Tolkien Orcs than most of the Proud Warrior Race Orcs now in fantasy. The Deep Roads is Moria, and the Broodmother hints at the idea in The Silmarillion that orcs are corrupted elves. And it manages to get even worse when you meet The Mother in Awakening, who is different from broodmothers in that she is 1) fully sentient, 2) capable of commanding other darkspawn, including broodmothers, and 3) cacklingly insane.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They're people possessed by hunger demons. Since hunger demons are barely sentient, they're not as cunning as traditional vampires.
    • Not Using the Z Word — they're never referred to in-game as vampires. Indeed, they're counted more as walking corpses, rather than their own kind of undead, though they are among the most powerful of the walking dead.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Said to be the result of demonic interference which may be true, but the ones you meet are the innocent victims of an indiscriminate Roaring Rampage of Revenge who were brought back to sanity by the very spirit who was forced into it. They can even join you.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: There's two kinds of zombies in the Dragon Age franchise. The first are corpses possessed by hunger demons that don't spread a virus of any kind, but they are still hostile and will devour people alive if given the opportunity. The second ones are ghouls, which are people who contract the Darkspawn Taint and instead of dying become indoctrinated by the Archdemon. Most of the ghouls are docile, mindless husks that just shamble around and are unable to spread the Taint, but a number of them become darkspawn themselves.
  • Passion Is Evil: Spirits and demons are attracted to extraordinary persons, places, things and ideas. They can take interest in a particular person, or group of people, if they demonstrate powerful or complex emotions or take interesting actions. It's noted, also, that personal passions, dreams and desires both attract, and create, demons.
  • Potion-Brewing Mechanic: Potion making usually revolves around discovering recipes for various potions and collecting ingredients for them.
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, potion-mixing is tied to the Herbalism skill, which every party member can learn and use. More powerful recipes require higher levels in the skill, and ingredients are found or bought in individual samples that are consumed to produce potions.
    • In Dragon Age II, Hawke no longer needs any alchemical skills and instead orders potions and poisons from a friendly herbalist for a small fee. Ingredients are no longer collected in individual samples, but marked as "resources" and can be exploited indefinitely, although more powerful potions require multiple sources of the same ingredient and some unique ingredients like Ambrosia can only be used once.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition mixes the two previous games' approaches in that you once again need to collect individual components for each potion, but not longer need any potion-making skills, as the Inquisitor, like Hawke, orders the potions from the Inqusition's herbalists at Skyhold or the field camps.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Qunari; to a lesser extent, the Warrior and Noble Caste Dwarves. Although we've only seen the Qunari invasion vanguard and rogue Qunari mercenaries in game. It's strongly suggested Qunari who fulfill a non-warrior role in Qunari society according to the Qun are also respected... unless they're mages.
  • Puberty Superpower: Though not a hard and fast rule, mages generally come into their powers at the onset of puberty. (Some do get them earlier; Connor Guerrin is one example, and Wynne remarks in party banter that she entered the Circle of Magi at the age of nine. In the Mage origin, Jowan mentions being abandoned at the Chantry and living in the Circle since the age of five or six.)
  • The Punishment: According to the Chantry, the mages who tried to usurp heaven were turned into the first darkspawn by the Maker and that the darkspawn taint is the physical embodiment of their sin. Considering everything that happened afterwards, it makes one wonder why the Maker simply didn't smite them with lightning instead. Apparently, it's because he wanted their punishment to be all of humanity's punishment as well. One thing the Chantry's lore (if accurate) makes perfectly clear about the Maker: he's a real bastard.
  • Recruited From The Gutter: Happens to a lot of Gray Wardens in Dragon Age. Depending on the Origin you choose in Dragon Age: Origins, this could be how your character ends up in the Wardens, with backstories involving everything from a lift of crime and poverty to being exiled for a crime they didn't commit to being orphaned.
  • Religion Is Magic: Averted. Although the dwarves, the elves, and the humans all have their own faiths, none of these faiths are actualized with their own magics. The Chantry's templars, for instance, merely wield anti-magics. While the Urn of Sacred Ashes is capable of performing miracles, Oghren suggests the possibility that the large, unusually pure lyrium vein not too far away inside the rock may be responsible for its powers.
    • The entire Urn of Sacred Ashes quest is problematic for an otherwise aversion to this trope. Sure, the Ashes' ability to break curses can be chalked up to all that undiluted lyrium surrounding it for 900 years... but then we face problems with things like, say, the Guardian, who explicitly says that he's been alive for almost a full millennium out of sheer devotion to the Prophetess. It also does nothing to explain the spirits of Andraste's associates who just stand around asking riddles, or the apparition that appears to the Warden that somehow can read their minds and take on the form of a loved one. The only explanations that would possibly make sense in the context of the DA universe is that there really is something to this whole "Andraste, Bride of the Maker" thing... or that Andraste was a blood mage and all the spirits around her tomb are demons she's bound to that place. Or extend the lyrium explanation a bit more.
  • Rivals Team Up: The first time the Orlesian Empire and the Tevinter Imperium joined forces, they stopped the Third Blight in just 15 years. The second time, they beat back the Qunari from the mainland. Too bad their cooperation never lasts.
  • Running Gag: A variation. In every Dragon Age game so far, someone can (possibly) die by taking an ogre to the face. Cailan dies this way in Origins, Varel can die this way in Awakening, and Bethany or Carver in Dragon Age II.
    • Another gag is foreign characters commenting that Ferelden "smells like wet dog", to which the player character can respond in variants of "It does not smell like dog!"
      The Warden: And garbage!
      Sten: Yes, I was trying to forget that.
    • There are a lot of references to cheese, particularly the infamous, stinky Orlesian kind.
    • Orlesian ham tastes of despair.
    Tallis: How can ham taste like despair? And why would anyone eat it if it did?
  • Sacred Scripture: The Chant of Light is the holy word of the Chantry, but just like the Qu'ran it's meant to be spoken, not read. While people obviously read the Chant, they only do so in order to memorize and recite it.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Qunari have a very strict caste system and don't really understand or like the idea that there might be other, equally viable, social organizations.
    Sten: I don't understand your people. Your smiths want to be merchants, your merchants want to be nobles, and your nobles want to be royalty. Why is no one happy in their station?
  • Screw You, Elves!: In the time most of the media is set, elves are second class citizens to the humans and in past were slaves of theirs. The elves claim to have been immortal before humans came along but there's no hard evidence one way or another. There is definitely evidence that they had access to incredible magic, and that they even lived in harmony with the humans at one point.
  • Second Coming: Mostly within the lore of the game series itself: The Maker is prophesied to return and make his world a paradise once the Chant of Light has been sung from all the corners of the world.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Condensed into the main five types of demons encountered in the Fade: Rage (wrath), Hunger (gluttony), Sloth (also, according to the codex, envy), Desire (greed and lust), and Pride. Just as in real-life Christianity, Pride is considered the most evil of all by the Chantry because they are the most likely to gain full sentience and therefore more freely amass power.
  • Shockwave Stomp: Ogres and Golems tend to be frequent users of this.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: Level 4 (Arc-Based Episodic). The series is notably more lax about its continuity than its sci-fi sister series Mass Effect: while there are definitely several enduring Myth Arcs, each installment so far (including supplemental novels and comic mini-series) is a largely self-contained story that happens to push one or more overarching plots along. This is helped by the fact that individual installments usually focus on different (albeit often overlapping) main characters and are set in different parts of the world at different times; also, an occasional retcon by the writers prevents the established canon from being too reliable.
  • The Soulless: The darkspawn. Except for the Archdemon, since it was formerly an Old God, and "essence" is apparently synonymous with "soul", since there's no room for both in one body.
  • Speaks In Shoutouts: The Chanters, who can only speak in quotes of the Chant of Light.
  • Spider-Sense: Once a person becomes a Grey Warden, they can sense the darkspawn — and vice versa. Your character may even say "Warden senses tingling!" Mages all have the ability to detect disruptions in the Veil that can, with practice, allow them to detect spirits and especially powerful spells.
  • Spirit World: The Fade.
  • Standard Fantasy Setting: As Yahtzee emphatically called it; just compare the setting elements to the trope title.
    • Dwarves/Elves/Humans — other races are present, but these are the provided player character options.
      • Inquisition adds the Qunari as a player option, a slightly minotaur like race who have been around since the first game where you could have one in your party.
    • Our Monsters Are Different — Thedas's demons and werewolves are different. Dragons seem to occupy the same role in Origins, but backstory reveals more and more differences.
    • Functional Magic and Magic A Is Magic A — as per necessity, when magic is a game mechanic.
    • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards — a single Templar to execute a potentially dangerous Mage early will save dozens of Templar lives later.
    • The Empire (Orlais) and several The Kingdoms, with Standard Royal Court, modeled off of historical feudal and imperial societies. And then there's The Horde (darkspawn).
    • Fantasy Character Classes - Fighter, Mage, Thief
    • Our Dwarves Are All the Same is played with. Noble dwarves obsessed with tradition hew closest to the archetype but many dwarves are beardless, nearly all have american accents and their society leaves something to be desired. Though they still live in mountains and work stone.
    • Our Elves Are Better is completely averted. They may once have fit this trope but contact with humans led to them losing their immortality, their kingdom, their freedom and consequently their history. They only have scraps of lost lore to go off of and most know little if any of their language. They are smaller than humans and in no way shown to have greater ability though the Dalish do have a typical elvish affinity for nature.
  • Stronger with Age: Dragons function this way.
    • The Darkspawn, due to the Taint getting stronger with time. Unfortunately, this is what eventually dooms Grey Wardens.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Trysts and affairs between Templars and Mages within a Circle of Magi are not as uncommon as one would think, given the at-best low-key animosity between the two groups. The Templars are forbidden to become so involved with their charges, and any mages that bear children have them taken away. Wynne bore a son by a secret Templar paramour in her younger days, and that son Rhys himself is romantically entwined with a templar, Evangeline (who now is alive only because of Wynne's Heroic Sacrifice).
  • Tautological Templar: The Templars will execute anyone who is a mage but not a member of the Circle of Magi because there is a chance that they may know forbidden magic. However, they are revered as heroes since they are the militant wing of the setting's dominant religion.
  • Technical Pacifist: The Dalish are nomadic and never stay in one place too long to avoid conflict. The Keeper even says that they could destroy a nearby Human village who are rallying a mob to drive them out, if they so wished, but that would only cause King Cailan to send soldiers next time, thus it is wiser to simply move on.
  • Un Equal Rites: A long time ago, a powerful nation called the Tevinter Imperium once conquered nearly all of the known world by using an extremely dangerous sorcery called Blood Magic, which allowed them to broker deals with and summon demons as well as use a powerful form of Mind Control. Eventually, their reign was toppled by the appearance of the Blight, which struck the Empire from nowhere and left them crippled. Most of the world's nations were formed by barbarian clans that rebelled against the weakened Empire, and the followers of those early rebels quickly formed a religion called the Chantry. The Blight continues to plague the world to this day, and the Chantry teachings blame magic for unleashing it. Because of this, mages in general are treated as worse than dirt, and any mage that is not under the direct control of the Chantry is labeled as an apostate which is to be killed on sight. Worse than them are the "Maleficar", which are simply apostates who use the hated Blood Magic which unleashes demons and once enslaved the world.
    • This also exists between fellow mages, ranging from Fraternities with different political viewpoints to nerdy debates over which spell school is better (e.g, Entropy fans vandalizing books on Spirit Magic).
  • Universe Compendium: The World of Thedas (TWoT for short) is a multi-volume encyclopedia about the Dragon Age setting. Volume one was released in 2013, and volume two is slated for release in April 2015.
  • Unreliable Expositor/Written by the Winners: Basically, there is no Infallible Narrator in this series. Everything, from the opening voiceovers to the Codex entries are written/spoken by in-universe characters. For nearly every major (or even minor) event in the history of the game, there are multiple contradicting accounts with absolutely no indications as to which is the right one. So, rule of thumb for this series: if someone is telling you about something or someone you haven't seen for yourself? Take their opinion into consideration, but don't put too much stock in it. It doesn't help that the narrator for the second game is an admitted and unashamed liar.
    • For example, early elven history. Pretty much all historical accounts agree that the original elven empire was destroyed by the human Tevinter magocracy, the humans ruthlessly crushing the elven cities. The Dalish take particular glee in pointing out to humans that they are responsible for the destruction of their original homeland. However, in the third game, the player potentially speaks to an elf who is still alive from those days, and he says that the elves destroyed themselves through civil war, with Tevinter only coming along later, sweeping up the remaining elves and sifting through the rubble.
  • Vestigial Empire:
    • The Tevinter Imperium, which never recovered from the First Blight, Andraste's rebellion, and the Qunari invasion.
    • The Dwarven empire is even worse. It's down to two city-states that hate each other, and the darkspawn are slowly but surely encroaching on their territory. Fortunately, if you're playing a Dwarf Warden, in the epilogue you can convince the ruler of Ferelden to send military aid to Orzammar, and they begin reclaiming a lot of lost territory. Even a non-dwarf Warden can put Bhelen on the throne; he militarizes the casteless and lets the dwarves begin to push the darkspawn back.
  • The Virus: The Blight is a taint carried by the darkspawn that poisons the lands they inhabit. People tainted by this go crazy and die, or become decaying ghouls in the thrall of the Archdemon — or worse, if they're women, become broodmothers.
  • Walking Wasteland: The darkspawn spread a curse/disease called "the taint" wherever they go that slowly kills everything around them.
  • World's Best Warrior: Though not without contention, Hawke seems to fit this trope above any other character—even the other Player Characters. Hawke is renowned worldwide (thanks largely to Varric's Tale of the Champion book) as one of the greatest warriors alive and even with this renown, many people still express disbelief in some of the victories s/he won, particularly his/her defeat of the Qunari Arishok in single combat and an ancient Tevinter magister, possibly in a Wizard Duel. Even other members of his/her own party acknowledge his/her superiority in terms of battle prowess. The Hero of Ferelden and the Inquisitor are both other contestants for the title, but both of them had an additional edge (one was the only person that could stop the Fifth Blight and the second is the only one that can fight The Breach). Hawke is known only because of their combat ability.