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Dragon Age is a fantasy RPG epic by the Canadian video game developer BioWare, set in the original Constructed World of Thedas. The series began in 2009 with Dragon Age: Origins, a Spiritual Successor to BioWare's own Dungeons & Dragons-based Baldur's Gate series, which became a runaway success and was quickly followed by a number of expansions, sequels, and supplemental media.

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    The Dragon Age Media 

Official media

See also the series timeline.

Core role-playing games

  • Dragon Age: Origins (2009) : The player takes the role of an elf, dwarf, or human who was freshly inducted into the Grey Wardens on the eve of the latest "Blight," an event in which wretched, corrupted beings called "Darkspawn" emerge from underground to terrorize the continent of Thedas, and which only the Wardens themselves are able to fight against.
  • Dragon Age II (2011) : Unlike the previous game, the player controls an establiashed character by the name of "Hawke", a human who escaped the Blight in the first game and traveled to the city of Kirkwall with their family to start a new life. As they attempt to regain their lost fortunes, Hawke gains new enemies and new friends alike, and finds themselves wrapped up in backdoor political intrigues and deadly conspiracies, the consequences of which extend far beyond the walls of Kirkwall itself.
    • The Exiled Prince, Legacy, Mark of the Assassin (DLC)
    • Dragon Age II: Exalted March (a canceled expansion pack)
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition (2014) : A peace conference to end the ongoing Mage-Templar War is interrupted when a massive breach appears in the sky, destroying the conference and releasing demons upon the world. The protagonist, an Elf, Dwarf, Human, or Qunari, finds themselves "blessed" with a mark that can control the Breach, and, with the help of their new allies, form the "Inquisition" to stabilize the war and close the Breach, lest it consume all.
    • Jaws of Hakkon, The Descent (additional DLC levels)
    • Trespasser (epilogue DLC campaign)
  • Dragon Age Dreadwolf (TBA) : While the exact details of the plot have yet to be released, the basic premise follows up off the events of Inquisition and Trespasser, where the player ventures into the Tevinter Imperium in an effort to stop the machinations of Fen'Harel, the "Dread Wolf", lest the rebel trickster god's plans destroy not only Thedas, but the mortal and spiritual realms completely.

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.


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 (by David Gaider, 2009) is a prequel to Origins, depicting the struggles of the future King Maric Theirin (father of King Cailan in the game) and Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir to lift the Orlesian occupation of Ferelden
  • The Calling (David Gaider, 2009) is another Origins prequel, again focusing on King Maric, who accompanies a group of Grey Wardens on a risky expedition into the Deep Roads to uncover the mysteries of the Darkspawn.
  • Asunder (David Gaider, 2011), set in Orlais between the main events of DA2 and its epilogue, describes the escalating conflict between the Circles of Magi and the Templar Order and the outbreak of the Mage-Templar war.
  • The Masked Empire (Patrick Weekes, 2014), taking place concurrently with Asunder, focuses instead on the Orlesian civil war between Empress Celine and Grand Duke Gaspard and the city elf uprising led by Briala.
  • Last Flight (Liane Merciel, 2014) follows a Grey Warden scholar named Valya who researches the Fourth Blight and the fate of the last griffons.
  • Hard in Hightown (Varric Tethras and Mary Kirby, 2018) is a Defictionalization of an in-universe blockbuster novel featuring a hard-bitten Kirkwall guard investigating a conspiracy.
  • Tevinter Nights (multiple authors, 2020) is a collection of short stories set in the Tevinter Imperium, Antiva, Nevarra and other corners of Thedas.

Comic books

  • Dragon Age (by CJRRnote , 2010) exists somewhat outside of the main continuity and follows the adventures of a Ferelden apostate mage named Gleam (who doesn't appear in other media and has never been mentioned again).
  • Dragon Age Library Edition Volume 1 is a collection of the three post-DA2 mini-series comprising a single continuous storyline that follows Alistair, Varric, and Isabela on a quest to discover the fate of Alistair's Disappeared Dad.
    • The Silent Grove (GFHnote , 2012), set in Antiva between the main story and the epilogue of DA2, sees the trio infiltrate the Antivan Crows' prison, then head out into the swamps to speak with the Witch of the Wilds, a daughter of Flemeth.
    • Those Who Speak (GFH, 2012) picks up where TSG left off, with the party sailing for Tevinter, only to be captured by a Qunari fleet, forcing Isabela to confront her past, while Alistair negotiates with ex-Sten, now the new Arishok.
    • Until We Sleep (GFH, 2013) concludes the trilogy with Alistair convincing the Qunari to help them storm the Tevinter fortress of Ath Velanis, where he believes his father is being held captive.
  • Dragon Age Library Edition Volume 2 contains two of the post-Inquisition mini-series (which aren't as unrelated as they appear at first glance, since Tessa and Marius show up in Vaea's series):
    • Magekiller (RCnote , 2015–16) chronicles the adventures of a mercenary duo, Marius and Tessa Forsythia, who undertake odd assassination jobs in Tevinter and join the Inquisition to fight off the demonic invasion after the Breach opens.
    • Knight Errant (DWFAnote , 2017) follows a wandering Fereldan knight Ser Aaron and an elven cat-burglar Vaea posing as his squire, as the latter gets roped by the Inquisition into stealing an occult document from their ostensible ally, Prince Sebastian of Starkhaven.
  • Dragon Age: Wraiths of Tevinter bundles together the three post-Knight Errant mini-series starring Ser Aaron and Vaea:
    • Dragon Age: Deception (DWFA, 2018) is set in Tevinter and follows a washed-up actress-turned-Con Artist Olivia Pryde, whose latest scheme to scam a Magister's son goes way off the tracks.
    • Blue Wraith (DWFA, 2020), set in Tevinter, brings together Hawke's former companion Fenris, who now hunts mages under the eponymous alias, and many familiar faces from post-Inquisition comics.
    • Dark Fortress (DWFA, 2021) is a direct sequel to Blue Wraith, seeing Fenris and company break into Castle Tenebrius in pursuit of Magister Nenealeus.
  • Dragon Age The Missing (MMAnote , TBR 2023) is a prequel to Dreadwolf and follows Varric Tethras and Lace Harding on a mission to locate a former friend lost in the Deep Roads.

Non-interactive visual media

Other media

  • Penny Arcade had produced two canonical tie-in mini-webcomics: a prequel to Origins and one for Awakening. note 
  • The World of Thedas is the official Universe Compendium of Dragon Age. Two numbered volumes have been released so far, in 2013 and 2015.
  • 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.

Well, that's what the Chantry maintains, anyways. On the other hand, the elves claim that eight thousand years ago, the continent of Thedasnote  belonged to the Elvhenan, the civilization of a beautiful immortal race calling themselves "elvhen". Separately from the humans, the Elvhenan had the ability to physically traverse into the Fade, and had mastered the art of magic long before any other sentient race in Thedas. Not only that, but their pantheon of gods walked among them, directly interacting with their "people" as opposed to the Humans' worship of the supposedly omniscient but physically non-present Maker—at least until, according to elvhen legend, a Trickster God by the name of Fen'harel sealed the gods away in the Fade for an unknown reason.

According to the elves, the humans were interlopers, arriving from across the sea in primitive, unorganized tribes and setting up shop near the elves' capitol city of Arlathan. 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, which quickly served to escalate tensions between the two races.

The exact sequence of events which occurred between the humans' arrival on Thedas and the war with the Elvehenan tends to vary between sources, but what both sides do agree on is that, once the Tevinters had learned and mastered the secrets of elven magic, they repaid the kindness of their teachers by turning on them and and crushing the Elvhenan culture, sinking Arlathan into the ground and routing Elvhen armies. The survivors were reduced to nomadic outcasts or slaves, a shadow of their former glory—these descendants are what most of the world know as "elves" today. With their mastery of magic, the victorious Tevinter tribe grew and eventually established themselves as the Tevinter Imperium, a human-led empire which quickly spread across the continent, until there was almost nowhere on Thedas where their influence could be denied.

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 alone—though eventually they made contact with the Elvhen, then later the humans following the Elvhen-human war. They fared better in their relationship with the humans than the Elvhen did, especially since they supplied the Tevinters with lyrium—outcroppings of the Fade in mineral form that they used to power their magic. To a regular mortal, lyrium is a highly dangerous and volatile substance, even moreso for mages and those with a deep connection to the Fade such as the likes of those which make up the majority of the Tevinter elite, and is capable of causing severe mental and physical damage with a mere touch. Dwarves, however, have no connection to the Fade, and therefore can handle and refine lyrium with significantly (but not completely) reduced risk, which they take advantage of to establish and hold a monopoly over the trade of anything to do with lyrium. This helped keep the dwarves from suffering the same fate as the elves, for they kept their secrets close, and the Tevinters were helpless without magic, thus ensuring a lasting, enforced peace between human and dwarf.

With their knowledge of the Fade and an extensive use of Blood Magic, the Tevinter Magisters strengthened their hold on Thedas, their power opposed by few and matched by none. 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, thereby expanding the Tevinter Empire beyond the realm of mortals. By spending most of the Empire's lyrium (and slave blood) supplies, a group of seven calling themselves the Magisters Sidereal, each a High Priest representing one of the Old Gods, infiltrated the City, but were confronted by by the Maker Himself, who apparently gave them quite the earful before casting them back out, cursed and irreversibly corrupted. They became the first Darkspawn, wretched, mindless creatures existing solely to exterminate all other life. As for the Golden City, the Sidereal's incursion corrupted and twisted it henceforth into the Black City. Thus, for the second time, the Maker abandoned His 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, turning him into the first Archedmon. The first to face the assault of the Darkspawn Horde led by Dumat were the dwarves. Thanks to the invention of golems, the dwarves managed to hold out for decades, but even then it was a battle of attrition and the Darkspawn numbers were seemingly endless. Eventually, the means to make golems was lost in the Deep Roads, and the dwarven civilization, no longer able to maintain their numbers, collapsed, losing all but a handful of thaigs, each one fighting for survival.

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 was formed; by consuming a distilled version of the Darkspawn's corruption in a secretive ritual known as the Joining, the Grey Wardens gained the ability to "sense" the Darkspawn and, more importantly, kill the Archdemon leading the Darkspawn hordes, thought such an act costs the life of the Warden which deals the killing blow. With these powers, the new, but heroic Order of 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"—and, unfortunately, it would not be the last.

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 by Andraste's execution. By association, magic itself became ostracized and viewed as pure evil by the Andrastian congregation—and those who naturally wielded magical abilities, willingly or not, were persecuted and viewed with suspicion by the Chantry.

Before anyone in Thedas could catch their breath, another Darkspawn horde rose from the Deep Roads, led by another Old God corrupted into an Archdemon. 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 Templar Order, a group of knights specifically trained to combat mages and magic attacks. However, the cost of the Templars' powers is Lyrium, which grants them their abilities but causes them to become hopelessly addicted to the substance, which the Chantry uses to keep them on a short leash and ensure the Order does their bidding.

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 because the elves refused to convert to their religion. 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 since the Chantry prohibited the elves of the Alienages from following their religion, forcing them to adopt the Andrastian faith, while the Dalish Elves clung so obsessively to what little of their culture was left that they began to resent the City Elves, believing them to be "flat-eared" and subservient to their human conquerors.

The Third Blight came and went, 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 Exalted Marches against it. All of them, however, failed to complete their objective of bringing the Tevinter congregation back into a unified Chantry—if anything, they only hardened the Tevinters' resolve to remain separated and resistant to outside change, allowing them to consolidate and get back on their feet as an established Tevinter Imperium—albeit not nearly in glorious a form as the old Empire once was. At any rate, the Marches were eventually ended by the Fourth Blight, since no matter how much the "Northern Chantry" and "Southern Chantry" hated each other, they loathed the Darkspawn much, much more.

Almost as soon as the Fourth Blight was repelled, a new invasion swept from the north-east: the Qunari, horned, grey-skinned giants who follow the religion/philosophy of Qun, crossed the sea and brought with them a message: Convert to the Qun, or be destroyed underfoot. With their superior technology, unmatched discipline and seemingly unstoppable military might, the Qunari quickly captured a bulk of northern Thedas including most of Tevinter, holding true to their demands and converting the locals by force—and those too strong-willed to convert are executed or tortured/drugged into mindless slaves. Caught on the backfoot by this sudden and ferocious enemy, the Chantry called for more Exalted Marches, using Thedas' mastery of magic (which the Qunari feared and refused to associate with) and unity against another common enemy to match the Qunari's advantages and eventually beat them 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, mostly centered around the island-nation of Seheron, where the brutal fighting has devolved into a stalemate between the invading Qunari, the reclaiming Tevinters, and the local rebels, who would prefer to see both factions kindly sod off.

Meanwhile, trouble has stirred in the south again, where the Orlesian Empire conquered and installed a puppet on the throne of Ferelden, the birthplace of Andraste. The Fereldans, who are looked down upon as backwards savages with heathen practices by the Orlesians, found themselves heavily oppressed and harshly taxed, and generally treated like dirt. Naturally, the people of Ferelden were unhappy with this, and after a half-century of Orlesian occupation, the citizens, aided by sympathetic local nobles, fought a rebellion which saw the Orlesians ousted from Ferelden, coinciding with the ending of the 100-year "Blessed" Age. In light of the ending of the Blessed Age, Divine Justine II initially intends to name the next age the Sun Age, until she recieves disturbing news of High Dragons — thought to be hunted to extinction around 200 years ago — emerging from the mountains and attacking several settlements. Taking the emergence of the creatures as a grim portent of violence and upheaval in the decades to come, she instead elects to name the coming age as the Dragon Age.

The first game, Origins, picks up some thirty years after the beginning of the Dragon Age, dated 9:30 DragonCalendar Explanation . Even after 30 years of Ferelden's freedom from Orlais, relations between the two nations are still fairly cold, and as free as Ferelden is, it is still seen as a fledgling country of loosely allied nobles nominally kept from descending into civil war by their young and inexperienced king. More worrying, however, is news from southern Ferelden, bordering the uncharted Korcari Wilds. Grey Wardens are beginning to sense the presence of wretched Darkspawn massing near the surface, along with the call of an Archdemon controlling them, which can only mean one thing: a new Blight is nigh.

    The Dragon Age Tropes 


Other tropes common to the series:

  • Action Girl: Extraordinarily common. Thedas is a run-of-the-mill Standard Fantasy Setting with enormous amounts of gender equality, and you'll run into badass ladies by the cartload who fight with you and against you. Female party members include Leliana, Morrigan, Wynne, Shale, Mhairi, Velanna, Sigrun, Aveline, Isabela, Merrill, Tallis, Cassandra, Vivienne, and Sera, plus potential female player characters the Warden, Hawke, and the Inquisitor.
    • Among humans and city elves, much of this is due to Andraste. The dominant religion having their Christ-figure be a powerful warrior woman makes it much more culturally acceptable for women to take up martial interests and careers than in historical medieval times. Among the dwarves, women had to fight for the right to fight, leading to the founding of the Silent Sisters. The Dalish elves are too few in number to turn down any capable hands, and mages are too valuable for any not to be used to their fullest.
  • 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:
    • There are a lot of real-world names mixed in with the more fantastic fare, ranging from (for example) "Cassandra" and "Alistair" to "Morrigan" and "Solas". Non-humans, and to a lesser extent humans from other cultures such as the Avvar, are more prone to having unusual names because they have their own languages – Qunari don't even technically have names, only titles (e.g. "Arishok" or "Viddasala"). And of course, the Player Characters can have almost any name.
    • The names of the four main types of darkspawn: genlocks, hurlocks, sharlocks, and... ogres. 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. Ogres are Blight-mutated Qunari, who only became known to the wider world in the last couple of centuries, hence the different naming convention.
    • Magical beings such as spirits/demons and deities are sometimes named after concepts (e.g. Justice, Compassion, Pride, Desire). Those with proper names tend to be unique entities; examples include the Avvar God Hakkon, the Old God Urthemiel, the Elven God Mythal, and the Forbidden One Xebenkeck.
  • An Aesop:
    • Pride Before a Fall: This common thread is woven throughout the entire franchise. From the lore and backstory: The Chantry teaching that darkspawn were created by Tevinter magisters who sought to usurp heaven, only to defile it and bring the Taint to the world which DAI reveals to be true, to the Dales kingdom being too haughty to help their human neighbors during the Second Blight and lose said kingdom as a result, to the reveal that the ancient Elvhen Empire similarly lost their magic and immortality due to their false gods' insatiable greed and pride... To various nations and organizations: The Dwarven Kingdom of Orzammar being slowly erroded by endless darkspawn invasions because they're too proud to accept help from surfacers or the casteless; the Chantry, Seekers, and Templars being too proud to admit they might be wrong in how they handle mages, only to instigate the mass Mage Rebellion by the end of the second game. To individual characters vastly overestimating their abilities and/or control of the consequences: Like Teyrn Logain in the first game vastly overestimating his ability to reign in dissenting nobles and combat a Blight, to Anders and Merrill in the second game believing they can safely dabble with spirits and blood magic only for disasterous consequences to rear up instead, and the Greater-Scope Villain of the third game to turn out to be Solas, whose name means Pride; an ancient elvhen god who created the Veil that toppled the Elvhen Empire, and seeks to make the same mistake by removing said Veil due to being too proud to see this new world as worthwhile, or to ask for help.
    • There is an underlying theme that oppression and hatred of others, whether racial, social, or fantastical, for whatever reason, is never an ideal situation and destroys the oppressors as well, examples being the Tevinter Imperium, the Orlesians and their occupation of Ferelden, the dwarves and their rigid social classes, the elves and humanity, and especially the mages and the Templars, which finally comes to a head in the second game. Though this is zig-zagged since characters who display Fantastic Racism are often portrayed as Properly Paranoid or a case of Jerkass Has a Point (such as Templars' suspicion of most mages being abominations or blood mages), and systemic oppression is often portrayed as a Necessary Evil (such as the Chantry and Templars protecting the public from the dangers of magic, or Celene's brutal burning of an Alienage). The aesop seems to be less "oppression and hatred is never ideal" and more a case of "shouldn't be taken too far."
  • Alternate Calendar: The setting actually has multiple calendars. The most widely-used one is the Chantry calendar, which groups time into 100-years Ages, and which starts with the founding of the Chantry. In the year before a new age is set to begin, the Chantry look for portents to determine the name of the upcoming age, with the name reflecting major events that will happen during those hundred years. The title actually comes from the Chantry calendar (they declared the present age the Dragon Age). Years are written in chapter-verse style, since each one is a new chapter in the Chant of Light. Thus, the thirtieth year of the Dragon Age is 9:30, the age started at 9:1, and will end at 9:100 (though official sources sometimes confuse this). Events prior to the Chantry are said to be in the Ancient Age, with the year given in negative. The Tevinter Imperium has its own calendar that starts with its founding, and the elves have their own calendar that begins with the founding of Arlathan. See here for more info.
  • 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.
  • Amalgamated Individual: The Friends of Red Jenny, a sprawling collective of individuals who are extremely loosely organized. They perform various underhanded actions, ranging from petty larceny to outright murder, in order to stick it to members of the upper class who are dishonest or cruel to those beneath them. There is no actual Red Jenny, but "she" is frequently blamed for the work of "her" friends.
  • Ancestor Veneration: Religious beliefs of the dwarves in the series are split between venerating "the Stone", from which they believe to have originated and to whom they return after death, and venerating the Ancestors — particularly noble and resourceful dwarves of the past. There are also Paragons — individuals so remarkable, they are officially recognized as "living Ancestors" and, when they do return to the Stone, venerated above all other Ancestors.
  • 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.
  • Apocalypse How: The Blights are regular occurrences in Thedas that have been mostly Class 1, causing continental-wide devastation with massive loss of lives, but the civilizations have always been able to rebuild themselves in the aftermath. Blights can go on for years and the first one in existence lasted nearly two centuries and caused the downfall of the greatest superpower at the time, the Tevinter Imperium which still exists at the start of the game, but as a shadow of its former self.
  • Arc Words: 'Songs' and 'singing' are important events or concepts throughout the series. Ranging from the Calling that lures darkspawn and Grey Wardens to the buried Old Gods, to the 'singing' of red lyrium (which is actually the same song as the first), to Cole repeatedly referring to abstract concepts as songs or singing, to Flemeth referring to events as the steps of a dance and stating her inability to not follow the music.
    • Normal lyrium (which is about the only thing that naturally exists in the physical world and the Fade) also has a "song". The word "lyrium" (at least out of universe) is related to the words "lyrics" "lyrical" etc. – in other words it basically means "singing mineral".
    • Taking it further, the Chantry is named for the Chant of Light, which is divided into canticles. The holy book of the primary religion in Thedas is effectively one long song.
    • In a less elegant sense, a commonly repeated phrase in Dragon Age II and Inquisition is: "Well, shit." Often said in reaction to the escalating amount of craziness and violence around the main characters.
  • 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, which relies heavily on intricate gestures and movements of the entire body to form and direct spells accurately.
    • There is also an implication that, due to the unstable energies surrounding a mage during spellcasting, it is very much a bad idea to be wearing something like heat and/or electricity-conducting full plate armor while slinging fireballs and lightning bolts around like potatoes. Given that it is a not-too-uncommon occurrence for such incidents as mages setting the tails of their robes on fire or a pulse of reality-altering magical energy rattling your bones, Maker knows what would happen if your person-frying or steel-melting magic attack got caught between the plates of your armor and returned to sender.
  • Art Evolution: The first game has a very generic fantasy aesthetic, while later entries gave every culture a distinct look in architecture and clothing. It really stands out when Inquisition revisits Redcliff, which now looks distinctly more "Fereldan" than it did in Origins.
  • 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.
    • Orsino turns in the same Abomination created by the dwarves in the Amgarrak's thaig: The Harvester. The Harvester is easily the most powerful Boss in the entire franchise
  • 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.
  • The Bard: The series has two forms of "bard", with the first being the more mundane description of a traveling minstrel or musician. In Orlais, however, a "bard" is also a slang term for a infiltrator/spy/assassin well versed in playing The Great Game, or Decadent Court. There's enough of both types that oftentimes a character will have to specify which one they are, though it isn't uncommon to find a member of the latter group masquerading as the former as part of their cover.
  • 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. There is also the implication that partaking in Blood Magic makes one more vulnerable to Demonic Possession—though it isn't clear if this is a direct result of Blood Magic making a person more physically vulnerable, or more that crossing the taboo line means the user will be more willing to consort with demons in general.
    • 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.
    • The main reasons Blood Magic is considered dangerous are its cost (especially when not paid by the caster) and its ability to do things other types of magic cannot. Judicious use of Blood Magic can keep the sealed evil in its can, but those who use it as a quick path to power or experiment to find its limits unleash utter horrors.
    • Even among characters who do not share the same supersitions as the common citizens of Thedas, Blood Magic tends to be viewed with disdain and/or caution due to the simple fact that it can go very wrong, very quickly, and there's often easier and less risky ways to accomplish one's goals without resorting to it.
  • Black Site: The Aeonar, a Templar prison for blood mages and collaborators whose location is a highly guarded secret among high ranked Templars and so much so its not listed anywhere in the Fantasy World Map, though its presumed to be located within Chantry jurisdiction in Western or Southern Thedas and outside of Tevinter or Qunari control. So far, it has only been referenced in the first one during the Mage Origin when the Warden is threatened to be sent there for assisting a apostate, though its never actually visited in any of the games. Why would the Templars even need a special prison for blood mages in the first place is anyone's guess given they just use lethal force for any mage that looks at them funny, but according to the people who discuss it being sent to the Aeonar is considered A Fate Worse Than Death which raises some disturbing implications about this place.
  • 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, every religious person 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 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).
  • Born Under the Sail: The Dragon Age series has two nations that are almost synonymous with sailing: Antiva and Rivain. Antiva is a coastal nation that operates a huge merchant fleet, while Rivain is located entirely on a huge peninsula and is best known for their sea smugglers and pirates. Sailing is their hat to such a degree that in the pen-and-paper adaptation, "wayfarer" and "merchant" are basically the only backgrounds available to Antivan and Rivaini PCs, respectively.
  • Borrowing from the Sister Series: After Origins, the series adopted Mass Effect's Dialogue Wheel subsystem for Player Character's dialogue selection UI. It has replaced the fully written-out dialogue lines from Origins with up to six dialogue options arranged around a central circle (the eponymous "wheel"), which now consist of a few keywords and are color-coded if they affect the Karma Meter. The rationale behind this was that dialogue wheels are much easier to navigate with a controller (DAO was primarily designed as a PC title, while later installments were console-favoring Multi-Platform), make it easier to rerecord the PC's voiced dialogue (after DAO, all player characters have been voiced — another thing the series has adopted from ME), and render karma effects of dialogue choices more transparent (DAO had no Karma Meter). Lastly, the Dragon Age games also adopted icons indicating the tone of the dialogue: kind, humorous, aggressive, or flirty, thus preventing players from accidentally ending up in a relationship when they thought they were just being friendly (which happened quite a bit in DAO).
  • 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.
  • Canon Identifier:
    • The protagonist of Dragon Age: Origins is referred to as the Hero of Ferelden or simply as "the Warden" in later installments.
    • The protagonist of Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening is known as the Warden-Commander of Ferelden, unless it happens to be the same person as in Origins thanks to Old Save Bonus.
    • The protagonist of Dragon Age II is known mostly by their surname, Hawke, but is also often referred as the Champion of Kirkwall, or simply "the Champion".
    • The protagonist of Dragon Age: Inquisition has many monikers, including the Inquisitor, the Herald of Andraste, and simply the Herald. They are also often referred by their race-specific surnames (Trevelyan for humans, Lavellan for elves, Cadash for dwarves, and Adaar for qunari).
  • Choice-and-Consequence System: : The choice map is so convoluted at this point that its Old Save Bonus subsystem actually started breaking down and forced the devs to develop a new system, the "Dragon Age Keep", that preserves each player's personal canon online and automatically patches any plot inconsistencies that might occur.
  • 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.
  • Church Police: The Templars and Qunari again, the former carefully guarding and watching the mage towers while the latter seek to spread their own brand of religion by force. The Seekers serve as essentially Internal Affairs and investigate after the Kirkwall chantry is blown up and the Templars and mages go to war. Subverted with the Inquisition, initially called by Cassandra and Leliana to find out who destroyed the Temple of Sacred Ashes, after pursuing one lead it turns out to be a matter less about religion and more political, about power, trying to save the whole world regardless of faith.
  • 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.
  • Color-Coded Item Tiers: Items are color-coded by their material. Dragon Age: Origins plays this trope straight, which every material corresponding to a particular item tier (e.g. from the grey tier 1 iron to the golden tier 9 Volcanic Aurum). Dragon Age II subverts this: despite having material and color tiers for the items, the real power/quality of an item is determined by a hidden statistic. Dragon Age: Inquisition plays it straight again, albeit with just three tiers: grey-coded Common items, blue Rares, and purple Uniques. Items crafted by the player are yellow-coded, but this only serves to differentiate them from normal items, as crafted weapons and armor can range from common to unique in terms of power.
  • 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.
  • 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." How deadly is it? According to Vivienne in Dragon Age: Inquisition, she has no idea if using the wrong fork at supper is worse than death or just social suicide...because anyone who has so mis-stepped is immediately stabbed to death with the proper fork. She's only probably joking.
    • Antivan society fits as well. Zevran pretty much spells it out for you. The main difference between Orlais and Antiva when it comes to the court is that in Orlais, the poor soul who mis-stepped at least knows when they have committed a faux pas. In Antiva, your first (and last) sign that you messed up is a knife in your gut courtesy of the resident Antivan Crow.
    • 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.
  • Deadly Force Field: The whole point of the Crushing Prison spell.
  • 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.
  • Defeating the Cheating Opponent:
    • In the first game, learning the dueling specialization from the pirate Isabela requires beating her in a game of Wicked Grace. However, she cheats. Unless your own Cunning skill is high enough for your character to realize it, Isabela is unbeatable. The only way to beat her without that high Cunning score is to have Leliana or Zevran in your party and listen to them when they tell you what to do.
    • In the second game, Hawke can overhear a conversation between Isabela (who has been promoted to party member) and Merrill; when Merrill asks why Isabela wins at Wicked Grance all the time, Isabela replies "Because I cheat, Kitten."
    • In Inquisition, this is inverted. The player can choose to play a game of chess against Cullen. If you take the option to cheat, Cullen beats you anyways, remarking that his other opponents also cheated. Taking the "play fair" option is the only way you can win.
  • Deliberately Painful Clothing: Qunari mages, called saarebas, all wear heavy chains and masks to make it hard for them to move freely. It causes them a considerable amount of pain, but being Qunari, they willingly submit to such treatment.
  • Dominant Species Genes: Human-elf children are, for all intents and purposes, biologically human—which is a blessing for many of them, since half-elves are discriminated against by both humans (who generally view elves as a lowly species) and elves (who are heading towards extinction and thus shun any crossbreeding with humans, as it never results in elves being born, combined with their own prejudices against humans). Word of God is that there is a very specific reason for this and it has more to do with elves themselves than with humans (so this trope is inverted: it's the elven genes that are universally recessive).
  • The Dragons Come Back: The series is 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.
  • Dragons Are Demonic: While genuine dragons in the Dragon Age series are basically large, bad-tempered carnivores, there are some elements of this: dragon blood can defile holy relics in spectacular fashion, the dragon cult you encounter is evil and practices human sacrifice, and most notably, the Archdemons that lead the darkspawn Blights take the form of enormous dragons (as does Ambiguously Evil witch Flemeth, but that's mostly because it's powerful; Archdemons don't appear in any other form).
  • Dragons Are Divine: Zig-Zagged: regular dragons are mindless beasts hunted to near extinction in modern times. However, at the height of the Tevinter Imperium, most humans worshiped seven draconic Old Gods (and there are still holdouts of the dragon cult to this day), who had been fully sentient and actively communicated with their priesthood.
  • 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. A few still remain independent, but these live in out of the way places and under rather primitive conditions.
  • Ethnic God:
    • The elves worship a pantheon of deities known as the Creators (revealed to have been ancient elven god-kings in the third game), while the dwarves venerate their ancestors and a mysterious female being named "the Stone", which represents the entirety of the earth (who may be a massive slumbering Titan). Humans and the qunari/kossith lack such a deity, since the most common human faith is that in The Maker, which proclaims universality, and the qunari follow the quasi-religious philosophy of the Qun, which is likewise not specific to their race. In ancient times, however, the human tribe of Tevinters worshiped a pantheon of seven Old Gods (giant magical dragons).
    • "The Stone" is a deity worshipped within the Dwarven culture. It's treated as both a deity and immanent force that controls both the fates of the Dwarves themselves as well as the subterranean world they live within. Every Dwarf is considered part of the Stone, which is used to justify culling the weak or degenerate from their ranks, since said "weaknesses" would also affect The Stone.
    • According to Solas, some benevolent spirits will watch over a particular group of people—whether it be as large as an entire ethnic group or a small village or family. Often, these spirits will do so without that group of people even knowing they're there, like one spirit he calls "The Matchmaker", who helped people within a small village with perfect romantic compatibility meet each other and fall in love.
  • 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.
  • Evil Tainted the Place: The Blight corrupts everything it touches. Even after the Archdemon is dead the lands the Darkspawn ravaged never fully recover as a result of the corrupting effects.
  • Extraordinary World, Ordinary Problems: The franchise has elves, dwarves, dragons, Blood Magic, and The Horde of man-eating zombies, yet most of the world's major problems stem from imperialism, racism, class divides, religious extremism, and a general lack of proper communication between its denizens.
  • Fantastic Ghetto: Alienages for elves who live in Southern Andrastian human cities; walled off communities filled with disease and squalor due to the poverty and oppression most city elves suffer from. Interestingly, there is a protective element to them since elves aren't technically required to live there, but due to the sometimes violent Fantastic Racism of humans against elves, it's a rare day that an elf makes a living in the city outside of an alienage. That being said, the quality-of-life across alienages isn't universal either; some alienages are actually able to eke out something resembling a decent living despite the conditions, but what is almost universal is the overcrowding, to the point that tens of thousands of elves may be living in a space smaller than a football field. Outside of the city, however, it's not too rare to come across non-Dalish elves living in the countryside alongside humans with little or no racial tensions, showing that not every elf that doesn't follow the Dalish ways are condemned to the alienage.
  • Fantastic Racism: It's a high fantasy setting, what did you expect? Let us count the ways!
    • Humans look down on elves, seeing them as heathens at best, and savages at worst. They also tend to look down on Qunari (see below), calling them "Oxmen". The only non-human race they seem to actually get along with are surface dwarves.
    • The Dalish elves really don't like humans, seeing them as short-lived and thuggish. Many of the Dalish also look down on Alienage elves, and are mystified why they remain in the human cities. Oftentimes, less sympathetic Dalish will call Alienage elves "flat-ears", seeing them as having abandoned the old ways to embrace more and more human culture.
    • Meanwhile, the Alienage elves, while typically friendly with the Dalish (or at least more friendly than humans are) are still wary of their woods-faring kin, some even seeing them as savage as Humans percieve them. Some Alienage elves even criticize the Dalish for clinging to their dying religion and refusing to adapt while their numbers dwindle around them. There is also derision for elves who refuse to associate with the Alienage or the Dalish, often using the same "flat-ear" derogatory term as the Dalish do towards them.
    • For the Dwarves, the higher castes of Orzammar treat the casteless as lower than dirt. Underground Dwarves in general 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.
    • The Qunari look down on all non-Qun followers as bas, literally "things." The Qunari are also scared shitless of mages, making mages even within the Qunari society tightly controlled slaves within their own bodies, and dubbed Saarebas, literally "dangerous things."
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Underclass:
    • In most human societies, Elves are barely tolerated: segregated to Alienages, they can only find work outside these areas as servants and menial laborers - or in Tevinter, slaves. For good measure, the lack of basic rights allow high-ranking noblemen to abuse Elves for their own amusement, as players find out the hard way in Dragon Age: Origins if they picked the "City Elf" Origin, and players can witness multiple times in Dragon Age 2, and although the setting of Dragon Age 2, the city of Kirkwall, has a reputation even In-Universe as a...not very nice place, mistreatment of elves by humans is not uncommon.
    • As Dwarven society is dominated by a Fantastic Caste System, the Casteless are universally loathed: the descendants of outcasts and criminals, they are branded at birth so they can be recognized on sight, excluded from most forms of legal employment, and segregated to Dust Town - a region of Ozammar that makes Alienages look friendly and upscale by comparison. Casteless women have the opportunity to advance in status by seducing nobles into marriage, but other than that, little social mobility is available short of leaving Orzammar altogether. As such, many join the Carta in the hopes of earning money and status, as is the case with players who pick the "Dwarf Commoner" origin.
  • 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 "Ancien Régime" 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.
    • The Chasind Wilders are clearly based on Celtic tribes from Pre-Roman Britain.
    • The Tevinter Imperium borrows various elements from Rome including Byzantium (which, as confirmed by Word of God, it is based on):
      • It was the ancient superpower of the setting that didn't know an equal far and wide; while its remnant after its breakup is still a fairly strong entity in its own right.
      • It was brutal, expansionist and relied on slavery.
      • It was the authority behind the execution of the Christ-like figure, but during its decline converted to the new religion. It also adopted a homebrew version of said religion after a schism.
      • It is the buffer between the Europe-inspired part of the setting and a foreign religious invader.
      • Names and language have a distinctly Latin flavor with some Greek sprinkled in; it has a Senate and also an Archon as leader.
      • That said, while Tevinter's role in multiple instances is inspired by Rome, culturally it has fairly little in common with both Ancient Rome as well as Byzantium; especially with Eastern Rome the similarities are fairly minuscule.
    • While the Qunari have next to nothing in common with the Saracens culturally, the role they play for the setting (and particularly its Andrastian nations) is fairly similar: like the Muslims of the Middle Ages towards Christianity, the Qunari are a fairly recent outside threat whose antagonistic attitude is the result of far-reaching religious differences.
    • Word Of God has stated that Thedas elves are based on the Jewish people (lost homeland, Jewish ghettos in many medieval cities, etc), and has admitted that their situation is easily comparable to Native Americans and other historically oppressed minorities; their accents, on the other hand, make heavy use of Celtic, Welsh, and Irish influence.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Religion:
    • The Andrastrian Chantry is a fantasy version of the Catholic Church, except with a Gender Flip on the power dynamics with women at the center with Andraste, the martyr who founded it, its priestesses being required to be celibate, and a female leader known as The Divine. It also underwent and internal fracturing, with Tevinter having its own version of the Chantry with a male leader, rather like the split between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
    • The Qun has next to nothing in common with Islam or Muslim culture, but an rapid expansionist religious movement coming into conflict with fantasy Christian Europe (Ferelden, Orlais, Antiva) and fantasy Byzantine (Tevinter) is reminiscent of medieval Muslim conquests. Bonus points for having a foothold in and relations with Rivain, a region seemingly based on Portugal and Spain, much like the Moors in Iberia.
  • 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 typically said explosives are powered by the volatile and magically-toxic Lyrium, reducing their utility, and 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, or even those outside the Qun who are close to unlocking the formula independently.
  • 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.
  • Forced Addiction: The Templar Order is the Chantry's militant arm, primarily used to police the Circles of Magi. The Templar's abilities are powered by lyrium, the same mystical substance that the mages' Mana Potions are made from, which just happens to be extremely addictive in the long run and largely controlled by the Chantry. In other words, to keep the Templars from getting any ideas, the Chantry lets every member get physically addicted to the resource whose distribution it has monopolized. This becomes a plot point in Dragon Age: Inquisition, where the Templar Order rebels and severs its ties with the Chantry. After their own stockpile of lyrium runs out, they have no choice but to accept a Deal with the Devil and to start taking the Elder One's Red Lyrium instead.
  • Friendly Shopkeeper:
    • Played with in Dragon Age: Origins. After the Warden and friends save their lives, dwarven merchant Bodahn Feddic and his son Sandal become the party's shopkeepers-in-residence, following them around the country and setting up shop in their camp. They are extremely amiable and Bodahn repeatedly expresses gratitude, insisting that the Warden gets a discount for saving them. However, if the player pays attention, Bodahn actually has some of the highest prices on goods in the game! So much for the discount. They do, however, provide enchanting services at no charge.
    • They return in Dragon Age II, where they play the trope much straighter; Bodahn is only available as a merchant for the first act, however, and becomes Hawke's live-in manservant afterward. Sandal continues to offer enchanting services throughout the entire game.
    • They're unfortunately not present during the events of Inquisition; it is implied by Bodahn near the end of Dragon Age II that he and Sandal have left Thedas and/or are laying low due to the ongoing Mage-Templar War, though you can find what is apparently Sandal's journal—in the ruins of an ancient Elvhen library in the Fade of all places.
  • From Bad to Worse: The series as a whole makes a pretty good posterboy for this trope. It starts with a Blight, which is bad enough, but it manages to be one of the shortest and least damaging Blights in recorded history in spite of all the political turmoil in Ferelden mucking things up.
    • Fast-forward to DA2: A minor kerfluffle with some stranded Qunari in the city-state of Kirkwall (and a long-lost Artifactof Doom) sets up an already fragile Mage/Templar relationship for a dive off the deep end and then the one mediator that could have saved it goes boom. In response the Templar commander goes batshit, the mages follow suit and now it's on between the mages and templars all across Thedas.
    • Next comes DA:I. At this point, the Mage-Templar War has lost almost all sense of meaning to either party; they're just out to kill as much of each other as possible. One last peace talk is called and then the one mediator that could have saved it goes boom. On the plus side, most of the mages and templars that were at each others throats also die in the explosion effectively ending the war, only now there's an ancient Tevinter magister running around with aspirations for godhood and a giant rend in the Veil provides an ample opportunity for demons to invade the material world and make things (even more) miserable. *deep breath* And we're not done yet.
    • The Stinger and the Trespasser DLC reveals the return of the elvhenan mage that created the Veil and he is none too happy with how the future has turned out for his people. DA:I closes with rumblings of a new Qunari invasion building in Tevinter and Solas/Fen'Harel's oath to tear down his creation to once again merge the Fade with the waking world, an event which would be cataclysmic at best. Crapsack World indeed.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: A very common occurance in the setting. Ferelden human lords oppress mages and elves despite throwing out their Orlesian occupiers. The Empire of Orlais conquered the elven kingdom of the Dales and most of Southern Thedas despite creating the Chantry to praise Andraste and the Maker for saving them from Tevinter occupation. Tevinter conquered the ancient Elvhen Empire, which the third game reveals was a ruthless empire steeped in slavery and blood sacrifice too, which Tevinter didn't conquer but rather picked through what remained after it fell to civil war. Even some Southern Thedas mages who escape the Circles often talk of wanting to take back power denied them by the Chantry. In the third game, Solas reveals he plans to restore the ancient Elvhen Empire despite the process being projected to be catastrophic to the rest of the world. This concept is summed up best in a third game party banter.
    Solas: You see injustice, and you have organized a group to fight it. Don't you want to replace it with something better?
    Sera: What, just lop off the top? What's that do, except make a new top to frig it all up?
    Solas: I… forgive me. You are right.
  • 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."
  • Giant Spider: The series loves these and feature in all three games. The standard ones resemble skinned cows, in the first game could use webbing to entrap the player and use Overwhelm: overpower and pin you before biting you to ribbons. The poison ones, well, poison, and are a simple Palette Swap in Origins, resemble Black Widows in II and a hairless Tarantula with Huntsman or Maneater coloring in Inquisition. Then there is corrupted spiders, much the same except based on the Australian Funnelweb and even more aggressive, giant giant spiders as guest bosses and the Nightmare Demon, it and it's minions are a cross between spiders and scorpion and invoke Spiders Are Scary for intimidation. Rogues can summon them and mages can turn into them.
  • God: The Maker has a lot of similarities with the Abrahamic God. Even comes with his own Jesus, who also doubles as Mohammed.
    • Then again, he has a lot of differences, too. In fact, to anyone well versed in Christian theology it seems like the Maker was specifically meant to be as opposite a monotheistic deity to the Christian God as possible without being a God of Evil.
      • The Maker wanted his creation to go out and make their own lives and got upset when they decided to spend all their time giving him praise, while God (partly) created so that there might be something other than themselves that could return their love, and got upset when Satan tried to turn away from him.
      • The Maker abandoned humanity because of their sin, while not only does the Bible emphasize how God ''Will NOT'' give up on us, but it's the central aspect to all of Christian Cosmology.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Generally inverted in a Grey-and-Gray Morality way. The Tevinter Imperium, although nominally an Empire, is essentially a magocratic republic with a senate made up of magic users, and arguably the most evil nation in the setting. The Orlesian empire on the other hand, while not exactly a nice place, is still nicer than Tevinter.
  • Good Victims, Bad Victims:
    • Most Southern Thedas humans detest the Tevinter Imperium and Orlesian Empire for conquering and enslaving them, but don't think twice about locking mages in towers or elves in slums. When Dragon Age Inquisition reveals that Ancient Elvhenan was The Empire not unlike Tevinter and fell to internal strife rather than conquer, and that the elven attack on Red Crossing actually did happen, many Andrastians treat this as complete justification for humans conquering the elves.
    • In particular, not too long from being freed from Tevinter, Orlais conquered and occupied its neighbors for centuries, most famously Ferelden and the Elven Dales. While Orlais' occupation of Ferelden is condemned as unforgivable, its occupation of the Elven Dales is praised in-universe since the elves were "isolationist" and "unfriendly" in the years leading up to the war.note 
    • In-universe many Southern Thedas characters sympathize with mages for enduring abuse from the Chantry and Templars... until said mages use blood magic or demon summoning. Even if they only dabbled or become an abomination with a "friendly" Fade Spirit, they're instantly deemed irredeemably evil or dangerous and deserving of whatever fate befalls them.
  • 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. If Morrigan was romanced in the first game she has a son in the third; he appears completely human no matter what race his father was.
    • Justified for a few reasons in the case of dwarves, though. They are a dying race with declining fertility rates, with a tendency to also be rather xenophobic and reclusive. Few outsiders are permitted to enter Orzammar, and surface dwarves typically form their own insular communities. On top of that, an ambient NPC in Orzammar remarks on how humans visitors' heads "almost hit the ceiling", and calls this repulsive, implying that dwarven women, at least, do not find human men physically attractive (though Oghren leers at human women, admiring them for their height, but it's unclear if his attitude is the exception or the norm).
  • Happiness in Mind Control: In general, character who have been made "Tranquil" (had their connection with The Fade severed in order to make them docile) don't particularly mind being Tranquil, and some will even say that they prefer their lives this way compared to whatever it was before. Still, being made Tranquil is largely considered a Fate Worse than Death for any person threatened with it, as it is an irreversible (or so we're led to believe) Loss of Identity. In addition, it's common for Tranquil to be exploited as cheap labor or even Sex Slaves because they tend to lack any strong feelings. It doesn't help that characters who have been cured of their Tranquility are terrified of going back to that state of mind.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: In keeping with the series Grey-and-Gray Morality with lots of Fantastic Racism, a common thread throughtout the franchise is: "Yesterday's oppressed can become tomorrow's oppressors." Also, oppressed groups are not morally pure victims just because they're oppressed. Disadvantaged people can do terrible things too, or side with their oppressors, or sell out their fellow oppressed, and even become oppressors themselves when given power. (See Full-Circle Revolution for more details.)
    Dorian: Solas, for what it's worth, I'm sorry. The elven city of Arlathan sounds like a magical place, and for my ancestors to have destroyed it...
    Solas: Dorian... hush. Empires rise and fall. Arlathan was no more "innocent" than your own Tevinter in its time. Your nostalgia for the ancient elves, however romanticized, is pointless.
  • Harmful to Touch: Lyrium.
  • Haute Cuisine Is Weird: The food in Orlais, which is modeled off Bourbon-era France, tends to play off this. The wealthiest nobles enjoy things like ham that is reputed to taste like despair and a cocktail called aquae lucidus, which is made from wyvern venom and causes powerful hallucinations.
  • 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.
  • Hive Mind:
    • The darkspawn all share one. It's how they receive instructions from Archdemons during Blights, and Grey Wardens who master the darkspawn taint have recurring dreams where they see and feel what the bulk of the horde or nearby darkpsawn do due to their partial connection to the Hive Mind.
    • Dragon Age: Awakening reveals that some darkspawn can be severed from the Hive Mind, but many Go Mad from the Revelation and long to return to it.
    • Possessed in some form by the dwarves in the distant past. This has long been lost along with connections to the Titans.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Dwarven curses include "Go take a long breath out of a short shaft," which from context and phrasing probably means "Go die in a hole." It might be a modification of "go take a long walk off a short pier", or even "go suck a prick", basically, "shut up" or "go f*ck yourself".
    • The above saying most likely refers to the breathing of lyrium dust in the mines. Lyrium is basically the setting's magical macguffin, but it is very toxic to mortal beings. Breathing lyrium dust can, even in the best of circumstances, reduce you to a gibbering idiot, at worst, don't want to know.
    • They also use "Nug-humping" where a modern person would probably use "Motherfucking."
    • In addition, there's the phrase "by the maker", as well as a few references to Andraste throughout the games.
  • 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.
  • Hot as Hell: Desire demons, who take the appearance of attractive, nearly-naked women and whose idle animations during conversation include acts such as feeling themselves up.
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art: All covers of the core games prominently feature a dragon on them, although on the Dragon Age: Inquisition cover, its shape is formed very subtly in the negative space in the midst of a cloud of demons descending from the sky. Also, until Inquisition, all covers featured a lot of blood, even on the Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening cover that didn't have a dragon on it.
  • Idiosyncratic Ratings Scale: The in-game magazine The Randy Dowager's Quarterly publishes book reviews with a rating scale based on the number of scarves fluttered in shock.
  • Internal Retcon: 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 erased from history by the Chantry.
  • 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.
    • Mages are said to be so dangerously powerful that a single blood mage can take out a whole squad of soldiers with ease, and a dozen mages can rival a whole platoon. As of the second game, the mage class is now mechanically equal to the warrior and rogue classes, making rogue mages that Hawke and the Inquisitor encounter not much harder to kill than random bandits.
  • Informed Attribute: The Joining is stated to be fatal to most recruits who attempt it, but of the 8 Joinings we have seen so farnote , 6 survived. It also raises the question of how the Wardens would maintain a presence (which is strong, even a decade past the Blight) as an organization if the initiation rites killed off so many recruits.
  • 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 favorites 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.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: The human nations all speak English with an accent and a few words of the appropriate real life language sprinkled in. The dwarves and Dalish do the same, with North American and Welsh accents respectively. This isn't translation convention either, it's acknowledged in-universe; the Common Tongue has gradually superseded the local languages over centuries.
  • 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.
    • Many mages however also fall into this category, most prominently Anders. Which is exactly the point, as both sides are often Mirroring Factions.
  • 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.
  • Left-Justified Fantasy Map: Inverted (literally) in two ways. First in that it's right justified, second in that unlike most Medieval European Fantasy lands it gets colder as you get further south and warmer up north. The combination means either the setting is in it's planet's southern hemisphere... or this trope is being played straight and the map's upside down.
  • 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 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.
  • Lore Codex: The series has an extensive codex comprised exclusively of in-universe documents equivalent to a nine-novel book series in length. Individual entries are often carried over from game to game, with their in-universe authors making appropriate updates to reflect the events of the past installments.
  • 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: All magic is tied to the Fade; in fact, in Inquisition, it's revealed that magic is cast by calling pieces of the Fade into the real world and willing it into a defined shape. The problem is that the Fade also happens to be where spirits and demons reside (and it's highly implied that spirits and demons are themselves pieces of the fade given definition). Therefore, using magic tends to get their attention.
  • 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 millennia. The Masked Empire and Dragon Age: Inquisition reveal that it was a veritable portal network, replacing tens or perhaps hundreds of miles' worth of travel with the length of a leisurely stroll.
  • Magic Potion: Potions are made from a variety of ingredients that you have to gather, mixed by either yourself or NPC shopkeepers to make potions. They're divided between regular potions (mostly healing items), tonics (elemental resistances and stat boosts), and grenades (thrown instead of drunk, various effects).
  • Magic-Powered Pseudoscience: Everything in the Dragon Age universe draws power from two magical sources: the Fade and Lyrium. Since Dwarves are cut off from the fade, Dwarven technology tends to be built entirely on Lyrium. Ancient Arlathan technology may have been powered by both.
  • The Magocracy: The Tevinter Imperium, of course. Officially, it's a Republic complete with a bicameral legislature and actual elected officials. It just so happens that all the wealthy families who hold the real power are the product of centuries of eugenistic marriages meant to increase the magic prowess of the oligarchs.
    • As was Elvhenan, with a slight subversion: in the ancient elven empire, everyone was a mage, but the most powerful ruled over the rest. Inquisition and Trespasser heavily hint that Tevinter didn't destroy the ancient elven civilization (at most it conquered the crippled rump state that remained after Elvhenan destroyed itself in a civil war) but mimicked it
  • Mana: One of the few fantasy tropes Dragon Age plays straight, though it regenerates quickly.
  • 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 interprets "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...
    • It is zig-zagged in that, while some technologies are improving, others still haven't regained their previous heights. Human and Dwarf culture were at the height of their power about 1200 years before the Dragon Age, and after both civilizations were beaten to the brink of extinction by the first blight much was lost that has yet to be relearned. Armor and weapons from that time are of the same kind as the modern equivalents, but beyond the craft of even the most gifted modern craftsmen in quality. The Imperial Highway, a construction of ordinary (but cunningly made) masonry aided by magic, is beyond the ability of the modern kingdoms to even maintain.
  • Mental World: The Fade, a place of dreams and imagination, where those connected to the Fade go when they sleep.
  • Military Mage: Knight-Enchanters are mages who serve in the military (mainly the Orlesian armed forces), often without Templar supervision. This is very rare, however, because mages are distrusted by the general population, and it takes a lot of dedication and effort to receive that rank for a mage. Vivienne, a companion in Dragon Age: Inquisition, has received Knight-Enchanter training, although it is unknown where, if at all, she had served before.
  • Mirroring Factions: The Templars and the mages might be at war each other, both groups have difficulty with shades of grey and both fit into the Knight Templar trope.
  • 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.
  • Muggle–Mage Romance: Actually quite common in the series, despite a heavy social stigma on dallying with mages (magic is viewed as evil by the dominant religious groups and children of mages are more likely to develop magical abilities themselves), although most end in a lot more tragedy than Malcolm and Leandra's (he died of natural causes after raising three kids with her).
  • 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
  • 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, and, while not seen in-game, they are mentioned to take male forms if that would work better on their targets.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Most swears in the series are by the Maker or Andraste ("By the Maker!", "Andraste's blood!", etc.), exceptions including the dwarves, who swear by their ancestors, and Dalish elves, who swear by the creators. Most of the ones involving Andraste tend to involve her body.
    • A favorite:
      Shianni: Andraste's ass, you'd think I'd learn some social graces.
    • Andraste's Knickers also make an appearance. Isabela adds "Andraste's granny-panties!" to the list in "Mark of the Assassin".
    • Varric's reaction to finding out that Meredith had the mind-warping lyrium idol forged into a sword? "Andraste's dimpled buttcheeks!"
    • One of Alistair's curses overlaps with Unusual Euphemism: "Andraste's knicker-weasel!"
    • Lots of enemy mooks will shout "Andraste's tits, they got me!" when injured in Dragon Age II. Dragon Age: Inquisition adds Blackwall's "Maker's balls!"
    • Fire also crops up in curses related to Andraste, since she was burned at the stake, leading to gems like "Andraste's flaming knickers."
  • 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-Gender Race: The descendants of Andraste have all been female; her only biological children were daughters, who only had daughters themselves, and so on. As such, nobody knows who her present-day descendants are because historians lost track of the families her great+ granddaughters married into. In reality, it's the father whose genetic material determines the child's sex, but this is Andraste we're talking about, so A Wizard Did It applies.
  • One Myth to Explain Them All: The series is leaning in this direction, as of 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.
  • 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 also only one in Awakening (two if you reawaken the Queen of the Blackmarsh) and in Dragon Age II. Dragon Age: Inquisition, on the other hand, has ten.
  • 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 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!
    • Dragon Age II introduces us to Varric, a charismatic, cunning and compassionate crossbowman, who did not build his own crossbow and thus does not qualify for Gadgeteer Genius status, and ostentatiously refuses to sport a beard.
  • Our Elves Are Different: 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.
  • 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 Witches Are Different: Mages are usually sorted into two distinct groups - Circle mages, and maleficar. Flemeth - a recurring character first encountered in Dragon Age: Origins - and her daughters are the only characters repeatedly identified as witches. Specifically, they are the Witches of the Wilds, and they are considered so powerful and dangerous that even the Templars usually steer clear.
  • Our Wyverns Are Different: Wyverns are "cousins" of sorts to the series' true dragons. They can't fly or breath fire — they're more like wingless hulking, Komodo dragon-esque beasts than anything else — but they're just as vicious and they spit deadly poison (which particularly adventurous nobles use to brew a Fantastic Drug). They will often attack in small packs, indicating a degree of high animal intelligence.
  • 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.
  • Overhead Interaction Indicator: NPCs with quests to give have exclamation marks, while NPCs associated with an ongoing quest have an arrow about their heads.
  • 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.
  • Possessing a Dead Body: It's explained in the codex that all The Undead are in fact corpses inhabited by spirits from the Fade ("demons" corresponding to the Seven Deadly Sins, and "good" spirits corresponding to the Seven Heavenly Virtues). Redcliff comes under attack by such demonic zombies and skeletons in Dragon Age: Origins, while in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening party member Justice is a revenant created when a spirit of justice took over the body of the Grey Warden Kristoff.
  • 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.
  • Precautionary Corpse Disposal: Dead bodies are easily possessed by demons, so most funerals involve the destruction of the body. This is usually done by cremation, although the Avvar bring their bodies to mountain tops to be eaten by carrion birds. The notable exception is the nation of Nevarra, which has massive necropoli with all of their dead entombed. They have necromancers that summon benign spirits to inhabit the bodies so they don't get possessed.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo:
    • Both indirectly and directly: The Hero of Ferelden as well as Hawke are mentioned all the time, and the latter also makes an appearance in the flesh.
    • Also, most of the companions make an appearance in one way or another.
    • And finally, so far there has always been one character who made it to the next installment:
      • Oghren appears in both Origins as well as in Awakening.
      • Anders appears in Awakening as well as in Dragon Age II.
      • Varric appears in Dragon Age II and in Inquisition.
  • Prolonged Prologue: In a way, Origins is this for the franchise as a whole. The first installment introduces players to the setting and the most important battleground for the last millenium (the Grey Wardens and the Blight), but also outlines other theaters with their respective protagonists (the Fade and its inhabitants; the Chantry and the Mage/Templar-conflict; the fate of the Elves; the Qunari, Tevinter and Orlais and their respective expansionist policies). The story is relatively simple and straightforward, and while there are plenty of Grey-and-Gray Morality decisions, the ultimate goal and the final boss are neither very ambiguous nor obscured by twists and turns like in other Bioware games ( including Inquisition). Later into the series however, the entire setup is put into perspective: Ferelden ultimately is just the backwater of Thedas; while what you're doing certainly is supremely important, it isn't really taken as seriously as it should be later on because you were ''too'' successful in your endeavor of nipping the Fifth Blight in the bud; in DA2 and Inquisition the Warden order (which despite its shortcomings all in all gets a fairly heroic representation in Origins) is deconstructed and shown to be more of a problem than a boon when there isn't a Blight due to the singlemindedness of its members and their propensity to make monumentally fucked up decisions; the Chantry has a far bigger role; and ultimately we get to know that the Blight in general is neither the only nor the biggest apocalyptic threat to the setting in its entirety.
  • The Prophecy: Courtesy of Sandal, the Dwarf who, otherwise, only ever says "Enchantment".
    "One day the magic will come back. All of it. Everyone will be just like they were. The shadows will part, and the skies will open wide. When he rises, everyone will see."
  • 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.
  • Psi Blast: Mind Blast is a common spell that lets the caster hit all surrounding enemies with a wave of telekinetic energy emanating from their head. Its main purpose is to leave any melee attackers stunned long enough for the mage to escape to a safe distance again. It is also useful for flushing out stealthy rogues, who cannot be targeted while invisible, because Mind Blast doesn't need to be targeted and cancels the rogues' stealth if they're successfully stunned.
  • 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, and the starting narration of that same origin states the Mage Warden was found to have magical skills at an early age without mentioning an exact year. Though Jowan does say about the Harrowing that the Mage Warden is done with it and they never called Jowan for his Harrowing, "and I've been here longer than you have.")
  • 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.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Whether to accomplish a goal or just because their paths crossed, there are many groups like this in Thedas that are made up of a number of people you wouldn't expect to be allies. Ignoring the groups formed by the Warden, Hawke, and the Inquisitor some of these groups are:
    • The Grey Wardens are this since they will accept anyone as long as they can help fight the Darkspawn regardless of whether they are noble knights or selfish criminals, which makes them formidable as they possess a large variety of different members with unique skills.
    • The Inquisition as a whole is this as it accepted anyone willing to help restore order, with the multiplayer option of the third game letting you play as agents of the Inquisition who in the main game are occasionally mentioned through war table missions.
    • Bull's Chargers is a mercenary company led by Iron Bull, one of the Inquisitor's companions who is a Qunari spy. While others are mentioned to be part of it the members Bull is closest to are a runaway Tevinter soldier, a elven archer, a Dalish backup archer, a healer who fought in the Blight, an exiled dwarf, and a stoic man Bull believes to be a lost king.
  • 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.
      • Dragon Age Trespasser finally has an implied explanation to cover this without subscribing to this trope: like a deceased Leliana in II/Inquisition, the many spirits encountered by the Warden in the Gauntlet are spirits who have broken through the veil (which is greatly weakened due to the sheer amount of lyrium) and took on the various physical forms. An explanation that fits very nicely with the lore, seeing not only do Cole and Leliana exist, but a similar, milder case can also be seen at Warden's Keep)
  • 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.
  • Rule 34: Happened In-Universe to, of all people, one of the Divines:
    Records of Rosamund describe her as a radiant beauty, and she captured the hearts and imaginations of the Orlesian public almost immediately. Not long after she was crowned Divine, erotic art and literature featuring her began to make an appearance in noble Orlesian circles. The situations depicted in these works were entirely fictional; Divine Rosamund led a life that was beyond reproach, but it seemed that purity only served to fan the flames of creativity in her "followers." To them, reality was a meddlesome creature to be punted off the nearest cliff, and they showed no restraint in portraying the Divine in the midst of activities both forbidden and often physically impossible.
  • 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.
    • Much like the above, if a Templar is shown to be nice, reasonable and not a Knight Templar, chances are they're going to end up dying. Dragon Age II in particular was bad with this.
    • 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.
    • Ham from the Anderfels tastes of despair.
      Tallis: How can ham taste like despair? And why would anyone eat it if it did?
    • Spiders. In the first game they were vicious, frightening foes, in the second the various characters would joke around about them being a threat anywhere and the third had codex entries that both played them up for humor and drama, several quests revolved around them and Spiders Are Scary becomes weaponized. It's reached the point where Tevinter Invasion could well have a spider Romance Sidequest as they have maybe even more focus than dragons.
    • Sandal always being found surrounded by a lot of corpses killed by him.
  • 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?
  • Scenery Gorn: There's an awful lot of wreckage encountered throughout the series. Notably, people going through the Deep Roads will be lucky to find one intact structure in any given area.
  • 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 types of demons encountered in the Fade: Rage (wrath), Hunger (gluttony), Desire (ostensibly greed, although the way they are designed also calls to mind lust), Sloth, Envy, 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.
  • Single-Precept Religion: The Chantry is an unusual example. It has immense detail in its history, hierarchy, style and so on, but its actual teachings are pretty much limited to "Magic exists to serve man, not to rule over him." This seems rather odd in a role playing game which often asks the player to express either devotion or disdain for the chantry, despite knowing virtually nothing about it beyond it being the religion of the land.
    • The Chantry's main reason for existing is spread the teaching of its prophet Andraste to the entire world in the hopes that their creator-god will return to humanity after leaving when Andraste was betrayed and executed.
    • This also colors their entire sociopological philosophy. The Chantry teaches that Humanity Is Special and Women Are Wiser because Andraste was a human woman (thus bars men and non-humans from the priesthood). Since Andraste rose against tyrannical magisters who enslaved the world then executed her, the Chantry demonizes mages in her name (taking her quote "magic exists to serve man, not to rule over him" out of context). The Elven homeland was taken and the elves remain subjugated due to Dales elves resisting worshiping Andraste in favor of their own gods. The Chantry is also "the religion of the land" due to its expansionist teachings; demonizing, outlawing, and killing off all other religions as evil and pagan. Tellingly, characters who dislike the Chantry tend to be those hurt by their teachings, like mages and Dalish elves. Characters not in direct conflict but who have their own religion/culture tend to feel pretty neutral, like dwarves and Rivaini humans. It's mostly human muggles and city elves who tend to revere the Chantry most.
  • 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 kingdoms, with Standard Royal Court, modeled off of historical feudal and imperial societies. And then there's The Horde (darkspawn).
    • Fantasy Character ClassesFighter, 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.
  • 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:
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Magic is known to run in families, though there are exceptions - sometimes you get a Muggle Born of Mages, or a mage with no immediate mage relatives. This is a source of angst for the Amell family, particularly Leandra's cousin, and the basis of the entire Tevinter aristocracy.
  • 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 since the Chantry outlawed their religion, making them targets of human attacks. 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.
  • There Is No Cure: This is the case for the Blight, which destroys any living thing it touches - even bacteria. The larger a creature is, the longer it takes for them to die, so humans can be ill with the Blight for months. It's also extremely contagious. The Blight has been presumed to be incurable for centuries In-Universe, and the closest thing to a 'cure' is to become a Grey Warden, which extends the lifespan to roughly thirty years and stops it from being contagious, but even then the body will eventually succumb to it if they aren't killed in battle first. Possibly subverted as of Dragon Age: Inquisition; the Hero of Ferelden (the Player Character from Dragon Age: Origins) is on a quest to find a way to reverse the condition. It remains to be seen how successful they will ultimately be.
  • Thin Dimensional Barrier: The Veil between the physical world and the Fade is weaker in some places than in others. This is especially true for places where a large loss of life or suffering has occurred, such as Blackmarsh in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening or the entirety of Kirkwall in Dragon Age II. The most obvious consequence of the Veil weakening is that it allows demons to enter the waking world much more easily, but it also enables much easier entrance to the Fade, as well, even for people who are normally incapable of doing so (e.g. dwarves, who normally cannot enter the Fade at all, have been able to briefly do so in both Blackmarsh and Kirkwall).
  • Title Drop: "Dragon Age" refers to the current century. The Chantry declares the name of the next century (or "age") based on omens, and a sighting of High Dragons near the end of the previous age after it was thought they were extinct for several centuries was considered the omen for this one. Hence, the Title Drop.
  • Token Religious Teammate: For a series that takes place against the backdrop of a fairly medieval setting with a pretty clear-cut Crystal Dragon Jesus version of Christianity in it, characters who actually are as religious as expected are surprisingly rare (and most of those who are are directly affiliated with the Chantry), with the others being agnostic, atheists or rather flippant towards religion.
    • In DA:O, the only devout Andrastian is Leliana (who is also affiliated with the Chantry). Though Sten is another religious character - just not of the Andrastian denomination.
    • In DA:A, Anders is somewhat Andrastian, but doesn't display a lot of respect towards the Chantry (not without reason though).
    • In DA2, the only religious character is Sebastian, again someone who is affiliated with the Chantry.
    • And finally, in DA:I, we have Cassandra, another character on the Chantry's payroll, who is the only deeply devout companion you have (though your extended group also includes Cullen and Leliana). However, Sera surprisingly declares her Andrastianism as well (though this is just as much to spite the Elves as anything else). Another interesting variety is Vivienne, who never outright displays any piousness, but nevertheless apparently is religious enough to possibly end up as the setting's Crystal Dragon Pope.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Practically everyone who know how the Warden and Hawke both become The Hero of Ferelden and The Champion and still, voluntarily attack them.
    Zevran: Why they insist on thinking they can kill people like you and The Warden, I will never guess.
    Sergeant Johanna (About some nobles' conspiration against the Hero of Ferelden): A truly stellar idea, if you know something about him/her.
    Sergeant Kylon: And people actually voluntarily attack you? Are they just stupid?.
  • Unequal 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 who are 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 was released in April 2015.
  • Unreliable Canon: A major draw of the Dragon Age verse is the fact that almost all rules about how the lore and mechanics of its world works comes from unreliable sources, but still manages to feel consistent. Established knowledge about how magic, spirits, and demons work, as well as the history and culture of entire races or countries, are gradually revealed to have either gaping holes or a small misconception that changes everything you know about how things work. However these Revisions slowly peel away a more consistent truth, which leaves fans speculating and theorizing as to how it all works.
    • Case in point, there's a reason Dragon Age Setting folder above comes with a disclaimer regarding this, because some events that are accepted as fact by all sides involved turn out to have not progressed the way the in-universe history portrays it. For example, as noted below, the downfall of the Elvhenan and the end of Elvhen immortality had nothing to do with the arrival of the humans to Thedas, and in fact had already concluded by the time the first Human tribes had set foot on the continent. The only civilization that seems to have its history in somewhat of a straight line are the Dwarves, due to their habit of storing their memories in Lyrium in their Shaperates, and even then there's only so much they have recorded, not to mention it's pretty much admitted that it's common for their history to be "tweaked" here and there via the erasure or rewriting of certain memories in order to suit the whims of those in charge.
  • 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 umbrage over the destruction of their original homeland by Tevinter and the occupation of the Dales by the Orlesian Empire. 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, destroying what was left of the elven homeland and enslaving the elven survivors.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: While Dragon Age: Origins is a strong case of Heroes Act, Villains Hinder (with the Grey Wardens trying to stop the Blight and Loghain hindering your every effort), every game since then has fallen into this trope, with antagonists trying to enact dramatic changes (often for sympathetic reasons) while the hero is heroic simply for trying to stop them.
    • Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening: Unusually intelligent darkspawn are causing trouble in Amaranthine, and the Warden is here to stop them. The Mother then reveals that the whole Fifth Blight was this, since the Architect tried to make the Old God Urthemiel immune to the taint, but wound up corrupting and waking it instead, which kicked off the entire Fifth Blight that you had to stop in the last game.
    • Dragon Age II: The entire game runs on the tried-and-true formula that some fanatical extremist tries to launch widespread changes in Kirkwall by force, Hawke stops them, then Hawke is hailed as a hero afterwards. The Arishok tries to conquer Kirkwall to bring racial and class equality under the Qun; Hawke stops him, Hawke is named Champion of Kirkwall. Anders tries to overthrow the Circles by blowing up the Chantry to force mages to rebel; Hawke does damage control afterwards. Meredith decides to cull all mages for Anders' crime, then turns on Hawke in paranoid fury; Hawke stops her, Hawke is named a worldwide hero.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition: The entire game involves The Elder One trying new ways to Take Over the World, which the heroes thwarts at every turn. The game opens with The Elder One blowing up the Conclave, so the heroes launch the Inquistion to control the ensuing chaos. The Elder One tries to gather a mage and Templar army, the Inquisition recruits either the mages or the Templars, then The Elder One attacks Haven in a fury, which leads to the Inquisition acquiring Skyhold. From there, the entire game is a game of Mad Libs: "The Elder One tries to do X, the Inquisition stops him." Corypheus and the Venatori try to assassinate Empress Celene, use the Grey Wardens to raise a demon army to invade Orlais, then go to the Arbor Wilds to drink from the Well of Sorrows, all of which the Inquisition discovers and puts down. In the end, Corypheus threatens to destroy the world wholesale to force you to fight him in a kill or be killed final match; and it works.
    • Inquisition's Trespasser DLC involves a Qunari plot that the heroes have to stop. At the very end Solas reveals his true identity and intention to tear down the Veil that he originally created in order to restore the world to its original state, at the cost of this world being potentially catastrophic. Trespasser ends with the Inquisitor declaring their intention to stop him, one way or another.
  • 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.
  • Warrior vs. Sorcerer: The series as a whole has an example of institutionalized warrior-wizard enmity. Said enmity is between the Circle of Magi and the Templar Order — a branch of the Chantry composed of non-mage knights whose sole purpose is to be the Sword of Damocles hanging over the Magi's heads in case power goes to their heads. In DA2 and DAI, this system finally breaks down and the two institutions go for each other's throats after centuries of uneasy peace.
    • Dragon Age II:
      • Inverted if Hawke is a mage, who struggles to contain and maintain stability in the city of Kirkwall as tensions continue to rise between the resident Templars led by Knight-Commander Meredith and the Kirkwall Circle Mages.
      • Played straight with one of Hawke's companions, Fenris, an elven warrior and former slave who's been spending the past few years hunting down Tevinter slavers, all of whom are magistersnote . More specifically, his personal questline deals with hunting down the magister named Danarius, who has been keeping Fenris' mother and sister as slaves.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition: Invoked, and slightly downplayed, if the Inquisitor is either a Rogue or Warrior class, as they lead the titular Inquisition against the Darkspawn magister Corypheus. Downplayed only in that the Anchor, a magical artifact that fused itself into the Inquisitor, gives them some control over the Fade and the various rifts throughout the world of Thedas.
  • World's Best Warrior:
    • The Warden is legendary by the time of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Even as early as Awakening, several distressed characters immediately feel that their horribly bleak situations are going to be okay simply because the Warden has shown up. Because of this exalted reputation, s/he was Divine Justinia's first choice to lead the Inquisition. By that point, however, the Warden has disappeared to whereabouts unknown to try and achieve something most believe to be impossible (curing the inevitable corruption every Grey Warden will eventually endure). Every person who knows him/her shows absolutely no doubt that they will find a way to succeed at this seemingly insurmountable task.
    • Thanks to Varric's "Tale of the Champion" novel and other fictional tales, Hawke has the reputation of being perhaps the greatest fighter of their time, and became the second choice to lead the Inquisition. During the events of their own game, Hawke's companions will often remark that s/he is the strongest fighter amongst them with either reverence or fear depending on the player's actions. It should be noted, though, that said game is narrated by Varric and that, given his reputation, some of these tales (but not all) are believed to be embellishments even by other characters within the DA universe. Hawke admits as much when s/he is actually met in the flesh in Inquisition, but they also admit that most of these accomplishments are true but merely not as grandiose as people think. Unlike other heroes of their day (such as the Warden or the Inquisitor), Hawke was not some special person expected to solve a crisis—they accomplished their deeds strictly by skill, talent and blind luck.


Video Example(s):



As Morrigan begins to grow fearful of her romantic feelings for the Warden, Leliana argues to her that she should be glad of their budding relationship, to which Morrigan responds with the trope name verbatim.

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Example of:

Main / LoveIsAWeakness

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