Table of Contents
- The Origins of the Chantry
- Darkspawn and the Blights
- Arcane Mages in Ferelden
- Ferelden Race Guide
Located east of Brevoy, the River Kingdoms, Galt, and Taldor.
Major Political Powers/Kingdoms
2. Tevinter Imperium
7. the Free Marches
In the days long ago when humanity was barely in its infancy, the angel Ragathiel, son of the demigoddes Feronia and the archdevil DIspater, was given 12 labors to prove his loyalty to the angelic choirs of heaven. Among these labors was to lead an attack on one of the iron fortresses of Dis, the layer of Hell ruled by his father. While Ragathiel succeeded in burning the castle with holy fire, Dispater arrived in time to rain destruction on Ragathiel’s army. They were forced to retreat against DIspater’s onslaught, Ragathiel buying his soldiers time to flee by battling his father himself.
Ragathiel barely escaped with his life. As the tides of war turned against him, he began the incantation for a teleportation spell. Just as Ragathiel reached the end of his spell, Dispater severed one of his six fiery wings from his back. The pain distracted him from his casting, and Ragathiel found himself not in Heaven, but on a little-traveled plane on the planet that we call Golarion.
Ragathiel howled in despair at the loss of one of his beautiful burning wings, and the noise drew the attention of a slave woman, who instead of fleeing at the sight of the angel, approached him cautiously. Although her kindnesses consisted of only the offer of a bite to eat and some furs to sleep on, Ragathiel was touched that someone with so little for herself would offer it to a stranger. When he was well enough to return to Heaven, he thanked her and promised her that her kindness would be rewarded.
That reward came in the form of a holy flaming bastard sword called Brightroar. Wielding Brightroar, the woman, called Andraste, led her fellow slaves in a successful rebellion against their slavers, the Tevinter Imperium. Hailed as a hero, it was she who named the lands she conquered Ferelden, after the fire goddess Feronia, and her teachings later served as the foundation of the Chantry.
But then the First Sin was committed. Furious about his son’s betrayal, Dispater loosed seven devils on Thedas in the form of dragons. Commonly called the Old Gods in Thedas, they turned mortals from Ragathiel, feeding their hubris and teaching them powerful evil magic. This angered Ragathiel, and he imprisoned the Old Gods underground and turned away from mankind, departing to his fortress in the Golden City in Heaven. However, the damage was done, and the mages of the Tevinter Imperium, believing themselves superior to Ragathiel, used the knowledge of the Old Gods to enter the Golden City. They instead destroyed it and were cast back to earth by Ragathiel, transforming them into ravenous monsters that corrupted all they touched: the first darkspawn.
“And so is the Golden City blackened
With each step you take in my Hall.
Marvel at perfection, for it is fleeting.
You have brought Sin to Heaven
And doom upon all the world.”
-Canticle of Threnodies 8:13
Andraste begged for Ragathiel to forgive mankind, and remembering her kindness, he did. But Andraste was betrayed by her husband Maferath, who turned her over to the Tevinter Imperium out of jealousy. “I was the greatest general in Ferelden, but beside Her, I was nothing. Hundreds fell before Her on bended knee. They loved Her, as did Ragathiel. I loved her too, but what man can compare with a god?” he wrote later. Andraste was burned at the stake, and Ragathiel turned away from mankind once more.
As of the present day, Ragathiel has long since left the world. The Chantry teaches that one day, when the Chant of Light is sung from all corners of Thedas, he will finally return and transform the world into a paradise. This is often cited as the motive behind the Chantry’s “Exalted Marches” against the Dalish Elves, who cleave to their pantheon of Elven gods. The dwarves, too, stubbornly continue their old traditions of ancestor worship. While the dwarves and the Chantry are not friendly, the Chantry has never marched on the Dwarves, likely due to the value of lyrium ore in Thedan society, which only dwarves are able to mine.
Still, the Chantry has become the dominant religion in Thedas, particularly among humans, and wields significant political influence.
Generally the darkspawn are content to stay underground, where they live in the Deep Roads, the vast underground network of tunnels that once made up the great dwarven empire, attacking the occasional dwarven mining party, but only a nuisance. The majority of the surface-dwelling population is content to let them stay that way.
Only four times in history have they come together as an army, in an event called the Blight. When the darkspawn discover one of the Old Gods—ancient devils imprisoned by Ragathiel in the depths of the earth—they infect it with their taint, and it rises as an Archdemon. Unified by its will, the darkspawn surge to the surface and spread across the lands, warping and destroying all in their path. Victims not killed are dragged underground to be eaten or turned into Broodmothers, water sources are defiled, crops and animals plagued. The sky fills with black c louds that block out the sun, making it easier for more darkspawn to surface.
The only way to end a Blight is to slay its Archdemon, and the only ones who have ever managed such a feat have been Grey Wardens, a small order of exceptional warriors dedicated to fighting the darkspawn.
Ferelden has a long, suspicious history with arcane magic. The country itself was founded by former slaves of the magocracy of the Tevinter Imperium, and its people have long memories. Mages pose a more immediate threat as well – ever since the First Blight, arcane magic users in Thedas are particularly vulnerable to possession by devils. Entire towns have been destroyed by a single wayward mage under the control of evil.
The Chantry’s solution to Ferelden’s “mage problem” was to create the Circle of Magi – on paper, an academy where anyone with magical talent, regardless of race or background, could come to study the secrets of arcane magic, but in practice, something far more sinister.
The Circle is allowed to take any child (usually age six to twelve) from their families as soon as they show signs of magical ability. The child is then raised and trained by the Circle until they reach adulthood, at which time they must either undergo the Harrowing and become a full-fledged Mage of the Circle or be made Tranquil, cut off from their magical powers forever. While Circle Mages are given run of the tower and efforts are made to procure any resources they ask for, many chafe at their lack of freedom, for they are supervised constantly by the Chantry’s Templars, who are ever-viligant for any signs of foul play and use deadly force.
Some may consider the imprisoning of mages to the Circle of Magi unjust persecution and infringements of the mages’ rights while others believe they are necessary sacrifices to protect the general populace from the dangers of magic while also protecting the mages from the bigotry of the outside world.
By far the most numerous and the most varied of all the races of Thedas. The monotheistic faith of the Chant of Light plays a major role in uniting human society.
A race in decline, the dwarves once developed a huge empire which spread across vast underground networks; however, their world was all but destroyed during the First Blight. Additionally, they are known to be increasingly infertile due to their proximity of the darkspawn taint.
Dwarven society is strictly caste-driven, and they inherit their caste from their same-sex parent. The castes are nobles, warriors, smiths, artisans, miners, merchant, and servants, as well as the casteless, the lowest strata of dwarven society. They are forbidden from taking most legal jobs, forcing many to turn to begging or crime.
A few dwarves exist above ground, mingling with humans and elves. Technically regarded as casteless by dwarves of Orzammar, they are nonetheless treated with respect as they are the only dwarves who can broker the trade opportunities with the surface world that are so necessary for the dwarven economy.
After the fall of their great city to the Tevinter Imperium and the subsequent generations of slavery, the elves of today have lost most of their cultural heritage and identity. They attempted to rebuild their society in the Dales, but after four centuries, they fell to the Chantry’s Exalted Marches. Since then, they have been scattered all over either in forests as primitive forests or in cities as impoverished outcasts. They are now associated with poverty, crime, and barbarism.
Other races do exist in Thedas, although as they are not a threat to the Chantry’s power nor great enough in population to be politically influential, they are largely ignored.