The Dragon Age franchise began life as the Computer Role Playing Game (CRPG) Dragon Age: Origins in 2009 on PC, eight years after the last release of its spiritual predecessor, Baldur's Gate ( Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal). Following the success of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ports, its sequel, Dragon Age II is a lot more action-oriented, releasing commercially in March of 2011. It is one of Developer BioWare's two main current-generation franchises a long side Mass Effect. To fully realise the franchise as a brand, BioWare has continued to expand Dragon Age outside of the main gaming series through various multimedia outlets.
In this world of swords and sorcery, players can expect to swing medieval weapons, cast magic spells, make tough moral choices and influence an entire world during the various adventures in the continent of Thedas and specifically the country of Ferelden.
Series Chronological Order
Dragon Age: Journeys
- Released: October 22, 2009
- Platform: PC
Dragon Age: Journeys is a browser-based game made in flash. It features turns-based play with three-person parties and was released prior to Dragon Age: Origins. The events in the game take place before the 5th blight of Dragon Age: Origins begins.
Dragon Age: Origins
- Released: November 3, 2009
- Platforms: PC, 360, PS3
In Dragon Age: Origins (playable on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360) you must select one of six origin stories as either a human, elf or dwarf (male or female). The Blight soon begins to take hold of Ferelden and as others wage civil war around you it is your task as a Grey Warden to unite them before they fall to the Darkspawn horde.
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
- Released: March 16, 2010
- Platforms: PC, 360, PS3
As the Grey Warden Commander you must investigate several strange events that are occurring as of late. The Darkspawn are getting smarter and have powerful leaders behind the scenes. Recruit new allies and build up the Grey Warden's new Ferelden base of operations, Vigil's Keep. Explore the city of Amaranthine and unlock new abilities for your Warden-Commander.
Dragon Age: Legends
- Release Date: March, 2011
- Platform: PC
Dragon Age: Legends is the second Dragon Age flash game which will be playable on Social Networking website Facebook. It will release before Dragon Age II but is planned to take place in parallel with DAII canonically. Players will play out a new story in a different city of the Free Marches.
Dragon Age II
- Release Date: March 8, 2011
- Platforms: PC, 360, PS3
Beginning in the previously seen Ferelden town of Lothering before it was destroyed you must flee the Darkspawn to The Free Marshes, north of Ferelden. Playing as Hawke you will play a game spanning a decade in the universe of Dragon Age, finding how Hawke becomes the champion of Kirkwall. DAII features different versions of Thedas depending on your choices as The Warden in Origins, unless you start a fresh campaign and discover the newly designed world of Dragon Age with a blank slate.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
- Release Date: Fall 2014
- Platforms: 360, PS3, PC, XBox One, PlayStation 4
As predicted by Flemeth, Morrigan and Sandal, Thedas has been thrown into chaos, following the events of Dragon Age II and the rebellions that resulted from it in David Gaider's 3rd novel, Dragon Age: Asunder.
The enslaved now fights the slavers, formerly allied factions have broken apart and the sky has turned a dark green as demons roam the lands. As the leader of The Inquisition a new protagonist must save Thedas from itself. DAI will make use of Dragon Age Keep, a web app that will allow players to create their personalised Dragon Age world based on choices from previous games.
The Dragon Age
Known as the 9th Age in the Dragon Age universe, the once thought extinct race of Dragons was seen for the first time in centuries when a High Dragon went on a rampage, devouring anything in its path and destroying everything else. It then left as is custom to lay its eggs in its lair. And so The Divine, the head of The Chantry, officially declared the Dragon Age.
Wars in Dragon Age are very much stereotypical attempts at conquering land and trying to destroy long-time enemies, whether they are due to different religious stances, opposing countries or racial hatred.
The sins of man come back to haunt and threaten their very existence due to The Blight. When the corrupted beings known as Darkspawn arise to the surface under the command of an archdemon all races and countries must put differences aside and unite under the Grey Warden s to drive them back. Five blights have occurred so far and all have ended with the archdemon being slain by a Grey Warden.
Magic is a more complex subject in Dragon Age than most franchises. Living the life of a mage involves hatred, slavery and fear of possession by otherworldly beings. Magic and mages are stuck between being essential to society yet being looked on with disgust by the omnipresent religious authorities.
Mages have a link to The Fade, the first realm created by The Maker (creator of all life in the Dragon Age universe) in which spirits and demons live. The Fade and Thedas are connected by a barrier known as The Veil. It is The Fade itself that mages use to cast magic but it is also how they can be posessed by demons if they are not mentally strong enough. Mages posessed by demons are known as Abominations.
Fantasy Medieval Period
The world of Dragon Age is very much a world of swords, shields, honour and greed. Generals of armies are celebrated as heroes by the very people whose human rights they violate on a daily basis. Elves have an affinity to forests and Dwarves to the ground.
Dragon Age games are traditionally real-time party-based RPGs (with the exception of the turn-based web-browser game Dragon Age: Journeys) in which players must micromanage the party with an emphasis on pausing the game to evaluate situations, take control of specific players and cast spells on various enemies. Spells commonly involve attacking single enemies, attacking in an arc around one-self, attacking in a cone directly in front or by
Selecting an area-of-effect where many enemies are in the distance. On easy mode these attacks have no effect on your party but in all other modes friendly fire will be taken.
Buffs and debuffs also feature as area-of-effect or as continuous mana-draining spells, such as paralysing enemies or giving allies weapons elemental properties. Traps can be set by party members and enemies alike, often proving useful against the player in ambush situations.
There are three main classes in Dragon Age games with many specialisations to differentiate roles. Warriors are the meat-shields, and can use two-handed swords or the sword and shield. Rogues either use archery from distance or daggers and swords up close. Mages always stand back casting spells and avoid close combat.
The main character communicates with the people of Thedas through the dialogue tree system, eventually changing to the wheel dialogue system seen previously in Bioware's Mass Effect 2 for Dragon Age II. Depending on responses and choices made characters will approve, disapprove, attack you and in some cases initiate relationships with you.
Save Games and the World
Each action has an effect on the world as seen through Dragon Age: Origins and by extension, Dragon Age II. Choosing to kill one person may make another turn on you while not killing someone else may also prompt an attack. This is taken a step further in Dragon Age II as your saved game from Dragon Age: Origins will shape the world around you having effects of the camoes of some characters and mentions of others.
BioWare hopes to make World Importing a ongoing theme for the Dragon Age franchise allowing players to shape the world as they see fit.
Ferelden: The country in which the majority of the Dragon Age games take place. Its capital is Denerim. The majority of the main characters in Dragon Age hail from Ferelden, including The Warden, Teyrn Loghain, Alistair and Wynne.
Orlais: The primary enemy of Ferelden, as they invaded and ruled Ferelden for hundreds of years though it has been decades since the war between the two ended with the people of Ferelden reclaiming their country. Natives of Orlais like Leliana in Dragon Age: Origins speak with a French accent.
The Tevinter Imperium: Despite being a shadow of its former self, the Imperium is still one of the major forces of Thedas. Once they ruled over all of Thedas subjecting the Ferelden citizens to their laws and customs, many of which still linger throughout the years to this day. Not content with the mortal realm, the Tevinter Magister Lords, allied with the Old Gods who tought them magic, sought to cross over to The Fade, home to spirits and demons and further still to the Golden City, home to "The Maker," creator of all. The Magisters failed in their attempt to overthrow that which created them and were cast back down to Thedas as corrupted beasts, becoming the first of the Darkspawn.
Antiva: Home to the Antivan Crows, of which Zevran belongs to. They are the most infamous of assassins in all of Thedas. Potential assassins are bought at a young age by the crows and either become assassins or die during the training.
The Free Marches: Rather than a country, The Free Marches can be associated as an area of land in which many independent city-states function. One of these cities is Kirkwall, the main setting of Dragon Age II. Another of these cities, Nevarra, grew and gained power beyond that of the rest of The Free Marches put together, branching off and becoming a country unto itself.
The islands northest of Thedas, Par Vollen and Seheron, are home to the race of the Qunari and as such are bound to the Qunari religion known as The Qun.
Rivain: Known for its dark-skinned humans such as Duncan's mother and its similarities with the Qunari and The Qun, some of which the native Rivaini have openly converted to. The Rivaini people are also unique as humans who have peaceful relations with the Elves of Thedas.
The Anderfels: Where the Grey Wardens concept was born. Hundreds of years of fighting and rebelling against the ruling Tevinter Imperium, as well as fighting off two of the five blights (and a third in which they were involved in a lesser role) that have occured so far have left The Anderfels uninhabitable in places.
Orzammar: Once the underground Dwarven kingdom spread fall throughout Thedas, but with the Blights they were forced back until only Orzammar stands as one of two remaining cities standing between the Dwarves and annihilation.
The Brecilian Forest: Home to many creatures, but in truth the forest belongs to nature itself, anyone not welcome will find it hard to make their way through the forest alive. The clans of the Dalish Elves are known to travel through the forest as it is rarely disturbed by humans.
Korcari Wilds: The Korcari Wilds is home to two infamous groups of people, the Witches of the Wild ( Flemeth and Morrigan) and the barbarous Chasind clans. The Chasind are similar in concept to the city-states of The Free Marches, but not on as large a scale and no-where near as civilised.
As with the majority of multi-race franchises, the humans are the most numorous but the most divided. They have only ever united as a race four times, the first four Blights. The rich and poor alike are split between honourable and greed, one of the contributing factors to why Ferelden was conquered and ruled for so long by Orlais. The largest human empire to have existed was the Tevinter Imperium at the height of its power.
After the loss of much of the Imperium's power by the uprising led by the prophet Andraste, The Chantry was formed in her name. The Chantry and its worship of The Maker and Andraste began to play a more important part in society than polictics. Even Kings are now bound by the rules of The Chantry and their feared Exalted Marches against their enemies.
The Elves of lore were once immortal and for not specific rituals (in which those tired of life would enter a deep state of sleep, sometimes to never awake) they would never die. It was discovered that for two reasons, contact with humans was damaging the race. The first was that contact with humans caused elves to age and die and secondly because Elf/Human interbreeding only ever produced human offspring.
Through the two long periods of enslavement by the Tevinter Imperium and The Chantry they had lost their immortality, their gods (the Elven Pantheon) and their heritage. Today elves exist in two groups, the Dalish Elves who live to regain all which they lost and City Elves who choose life in human cities as second-class citizens. The Dalish chose to roam the lands under the rule of no-one until the day they have their own land once again. They are extremely hostile towards humans and seek to be left in peace. The City Elves live in poverty and work for low pay under humans. In some lands the Elven Slave Trade is still active in secrecy.
Dwarven society has many differences from humans and elves in the Dragon Age franchise other than living underground. Due to a natural resistance to magic Dwarves are unable to become mages. Because of this and by extension their lack of a link to The Fade they don't worship The Maker either, they worship their own ancestors and the stone in which they are said to return to when they die.
Society is split into houses (extended family) and castes (jobs). The Royal family is the highest house and the lowest of the low are casteless, the poverty stricken and thieves.
The Qunari are physically imposing people with views on life that are just as harsh. They don't view aspects of human, elven and dwarven society as necessary. Everything they do is to improve and maintain the species as a collective. Those in charge of goods don't sell them, they make sure they're distributed evenly throughout. Qunari job titles are not viewed as their literal names, but their identity as a whole. It is their usefulness that defines them, not any meaningless name given to them at birth.
Qunari practice the ultimate form of natural selection, breeding children for specific roles so that they can be as much use to society as possible. The majority of Qunari are born with horns, those who are not are no more or less accepted by society as they're still just as capable of performing their duties.
Qunari Mages however, as with anything to do with magic, are considered defects. They are caged when they are not fighting and never go anywhere without their handler (arvaarad in the Qunari language) when they are. Any mages suspected of wrong doing, performing spells they shouldn't or having dealings with demons, have their tongues cut out so that they are never able to do any harm or influence any of the other mages.
A common misconception of the Qunari is that the name refers to the species itself, but any followers of the religion known as The Qun, human, elven or dwarven, can also be called a Qunari. The species itself knows their name but do not speak of it to others, as it is viewed as meaningless as their aforementioned forenames.
Dragons grow from Dragonlings, to Drakes (male) in which they lose their forelimbs and to Dragons (female) who grow an extra pair of limbs for wings. At this point the females are still immature, their fully grown form is that of a high dragon. The Drakes fight with each other for the right to mate with the High Dragon. The High Dragon then goes on one of its well-known rampages before returning to its lair to prepare for the birth of its offspring.
Wolves and Werewolves
While wolves are very much standard wolves seen in fictional tales, films and TV shows, the Dragon Age version of werewolves are unique. It is said that when a wolf is possessed by a Rage Demon, it becomes a werewolf, attacking all in an unending fury, spreading its disease and causing transformations as other fictional werewolves traditionally do.
Another form of werewolves are created by the Dalish Elf Keeper Zathrian when he bound the spirit of the Brecilian Forest to a white wolf called Witherfang. The being comprised of Witherfang and " The Lady of the Forest" then spread its own version of the werewolf disease. Zathrian himself lives as long as his curse remains, yet killing him does not end it, he must end it willingly. Convincing him to do so is a choice of The Warden during Dragon Age: Origins.
The Darkspawn are corrupted versions of each race, infected by the same taint which corrupted the Tevinter Imperium Magister Lords upon being thrown back down to Thedas by The Maker.
- Darkspawn humans are known as Hurlocks
- Dwarfs become Genlocks
- Elves become Shrieks
- Qunari become Ogres
- Dragons become Dragon thralls
- Wolves and Werewolves become Blight Wolves and Blight Werewolves (who are still living creatures and can be infected, despite being possessed) respectively
- Old Gods become archdemons.
Females of each species are captured (with the exceptions of dragons, wolves, werewolves and Old Gods), violated and mutilated into Broodmothers. Broodmothers can give birth to thousands of its Darkspawn counterparts during their lifetimes.
Due to "The Calling" Darkspawn are driven to seek out the Old Gods from deep underground through the link between the Old Gods and the former Tevinter Magister Lords taint. Upon Darkspawn touching the Old Gods they become tainted and turn into archdemons, awakening them and starting a Blight. Normally they dwell underground in the remnents of the Dwarven kingdom searching for Old Gods.
Spirits and Demons
Spirits and Demons, who reside in The Fade, were the first species to be created by The Maker. Whereas Spirits and Demons could change the Fade to their liking yet lacked the ability to truly imagine and create something, the mortals of Thedas have this imagination to create but was not given the ability to shape Thedas as they wished.
The concept of a Demon in the Dragon Age franchise is not an evil species, but rather Spirits who are malicious. The traits that separate Spirits from Demons are that of Justice, Valor, Compassion and Fortitude and the traits that separate Demons from Spirits are Rage, Desire, Hunger and Pride.
Spirits look upon the mortal realm with curiosity and indifference but Demons are jealous towards that which the mortal races have that they themselves don't. This is why a Demon will try to bargain with mages in order to see the mortal world with their own eyes. The weakness of such mages is why Abominations are born.
History, Philosophy and Religion
Tevinter Imperium, Darkspawn, Blights and Grey Wardens
Through their alliance with the Old Gods, the Imperium learn of how to use magic. This became the basis of Tevinter society in which the Old Gods are worshipped and a strong emphasis is put on the use of magic. The Imperium Chantry is the centre of this train of thought, in which a male mage is appointed "The Divine," their religious leader in opposition to The Chantry's Divine, who is always female and due to The Chantry's views on magic, never a mage.
It is said to have been the Old Gods themselves who convinced the Imperium to overthrow The Maker. Upon stepping into the Golden City it immediately became the Black City, turned by the corruption of the Magister Lords. They were cast out, and returned to Thedas corrupted, the first Darkspawn, who started the Blight across Thedas.
The Darkspawn are drawn to the Old Gods who sleep deep underground, said to have been imprisoned there by The Maker. The Architect once described it as a "beautiful song" and that the Old Gods are perfection that they will never know because as soon as they reach it, the Old God, they corrupt it with the taint. The corrupted Old God becomes an archdemon and leads the Darkspawn into battle as the Blight ravages the land.
The Grey Wardens were created to combat the Blights, only they fight to specifically to overcome it and only they can end it.
Through The Joining, Grey Wardens drink Darkspawn blood, either becoming Grey Wardens or dying in the process. This gives them the ability to sense Darkspawn through the taint and the Darkspawn conversely to sense them. They Grey Wardens continuously sacrifice themselves for centuries in order to protect everyone else.
In war, victory. In peace, vigilance. In death, sacrifice.
No matter how many times the first archdemon, Dumat, was killed it would always return. With the creation of the Grey Wardens, the reason for this was discovered. If a normal human kills the archdemon, its soul simply flies to the body of the nearest Darkspawn, they themselves being soulless. But if a Grey Warden kills the archdemon the soul of the archdemon will inhabit the tainted body of the very same Grey Warden, killing them both.
Grey Wardens have two very important assets at their disposal. The first is the Rite of Conscription. This allows the Grey Wardens to draft anyone into the Grey Wardens and undertake The Joining. No-one is exempt, from Kings to mages to elves and dwarves. The second are ancient treaties signed by the elven, dwarven and mage peoples that decrees that they must fight alongside the Grey Wardens during a Blight.
The Chantry, The Seekers of Truth, Templars and Mages
As the opposition of the Tevinter Imperium and its attitudes towards magic, The Chantry focuses heavily on The Maker's second commandment, "Magic must serve man, not rule over him." To this end The Chantry rules over all Circles of Magi, keeping Mages under lock and key where the Templars watch over them. This is in co-ordinance with aggressive Seekers of Truth, the order responsible for the Templars, who formed a pact with The Chantry.
The Chantry has the power to take any child who is seen to have magical capability from their families for training at the circle. From they mages are chosen to either undergo The Harrowing or to become a member of the Tranquil. The Harrowing is a test undertaken by mage apprentices to enter the Fade and attempt to resist Demons who would possess their bodies.
Success means they are officially considered mages and failure would result in them transforming into Abominations, who would be slain by the templars overseeing The Harrowing. Those who are deemed likely to fail have their link to The Fade and therefore their emotions cut-off making them a Tranquil. They no longer have access to mage abilities but they'll never be possessed as long as they live.
The Templars themselves are under a form of slavery by the Chantry and the Seekers. Templars take Lyrium under order of "The Chantry" to keep them under control, even when the Templars begin to suffer from addiction to Lyrium. The official take on it is that Lyrium improves the Templars' abilities.
Three Dragon Age novels exist, all written by Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II Senior Writer, David Gaider. The Stolen Throne and The Calling are prequel novels released in March and October of 2009 respectively. The third, Asunder, is the first novel to focus on present events and will be released in Winter of 2011.
- Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne - This is the story known throughout Ferelden lore of Prince Maric the Savour, his betrothed Rowan and a young Loghain Mac Tir trying to free their country from the grip of Orlais. As the rebel army scrambles and tries to survive, the Arls of Ferelden must decide whether to risk everything in helping to free the country or endure the harsh reign of the Orlaisian King of Ferelden.
- Dragon Age: The Calling - Featuring the first chronological appearance of Duncan and The Architect. It is said that when the time comes the Grey Wardens leave for "The Calling," where they enter the Deep Roads to battle the Darkspawn in one final moment of glory, never to return. When this doesn't go to plan for one Grey Warden, a team braves the Deep Roads and all that live there to investigate.
- Dragon Age: Asunder - The first Dragon Age Novel to be set during the events of the video games. Featuring Dragon Age: Origins characters Wynne and Shale, as well as Wynne's son, who serves as Asunder's protagonist. The plot focuses on how the various Circles of Magi and Templar Orders of Thedas separated themselves from The Chantry, a chain reaction to what happened previously in Dragon Age II and what leads to all-out war in Dragon Age III.
All comics based on Dragon Age expand on existing factions and characters in the franchise.
- Dragon Age (Print Comic by IDW Publishing) - The Dragon Age comic focuses on events in Ferelden's Circle of Magi. It was a six issue monthly series. The main character Gleam is the daughter of a forbidden relationship between a mage and a templar and the story focuses on her days as a hunted apostate mage. Features Templar Knight-Commander Greagoir of Dragon Age: Origins
- Dragon Age: Origins (Web Comic by Penny Arcade) - This short miniseries focuses on one of the many bands of Templars who attempted to find and kill the legendary "Witch of the Wilds" Flemeth.
- Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening (Web Comic by Penny Arcade) - The second miniseries focuses on Nathaniel Howe's infiltration of his former home of Vigil's Keep just before the beginning of the Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening video game expansion.
- Dragon Age - The Revelation (Web Comic by Irma "Aimo" Ahmed and David Gaider) - This "What if?" story takes place towards the end of Dragon Age: Origins when Riordan reveals the secret as to why only Grey Wardens can kill Archdemons. It features Alistair who is in a relationship with Leliana and a friendship with Morrigan who considers her emotional weakness over Alistair and the ritual. The player character Warden doesn't appear.
- Dragon Age: The Silent Grove (Comic by BioWare and Dark Horse Comics) - A six-part comic featuring Alistair, Isabela, and Varric traveling to Antiva to find the long lost King Maric Theirin.
- Dragon Age: Those Who Speak (Comic by BioWare and Dark Horse Comics) - A three-part comic that continues the story of Alistair, Isabela, and Varric's quest to find the lost King of Ferelden.
- Dragon Age: Until We Sleep (Comic by BioWare and Dark Horse Comics) - A three-part finale to the search for King Maric Theirin.
Felicia Day, creator of the popular comedy webseries about MMORPG culture, The Guild, made a six episode series named Dragon Age Redemption. Day plays the part of an Elven assassin and member of the Qunari, Tallis, who is given the task to hunt a rogue Qunari mage (known as saarebas in the Qunari language). Tallis also appears in video game form as a temporary companion (voiced by Day) in the Dragon Age II DLC, Mark of the Assassin, marking the first piece of content to venture into the country of Orlais.
A deal was made between BioWare and FUNimation to create a Dragon Age anime movie, originally to be released in 2011. The movie would later become Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker, another prequel, released in 2012. Dawn of the Seeker starred Dragon Age II NPC Cassandra Pentaghast, as she investigates a conspiracy in the Chantry on her way to becoming a Seeker of Truth.
Pen and Paper RPG
"Dragon Age RPG: Dark Fantasy Roleplaying" was a Pen and Paper RPG released in 2010 by Green Ronin." It is set in the lead up to Dragon Age: Origins, in which the Grey Wardens first learn about the upcoming Blight.