In the world of Thedas, where the Dragon Age games take place, no occurrence is as deadly or as feared as The Blight. A Blight is part natural disaster, part circumventable apocalypse, part massive inhuman invasion, part extinction event. While Blights have occurred since humanity's earliest days on Thedas, each one has nearly destroyed all of humanity and left permanent scars on the world. With each successive Blight the fate of all Thedas's sentient races is at stake.
A Blight is, in essence, a massive and organized Darkspawn invasion in which seemingly limitless darkspawn pillage, corrupt and raze everything in their path. These cursed creatures typically lurk throughout the Deep Roads, a set of Dwarven tunnels that are in a constant power struggle between the underground factions: the Dwarves of Thedas and the Darkspawn. While the darkspawn make the occasional foray onto the surface world, darkspawn typically are disorganized and a manageable nuisance for the dwarves.
However in the Deep Roads also slumber the 7 Elder Gods whom the darkspawn slavishly and mindlessly seek. If the darkspawn should happen to stumble upon one of these dragons, they completely corrupt it, creating an extremely powerful and intelligent Archdemon to general their forces. With the rise of the fallen Elder God as their new leader the darkspawn spawn massive numbers rapidly and swarm relentlessly unto the surface world.
To date in the Dragon Age each Blight has been beaten back at great cost. In response to the Blights humanity has created the order of the Grey Wardens, with the sole purpose of defending the world from them. By defeating the Archdemon, The Grey Wardens can vanquish the Blight. Grey Wardens are the only known warriors who have ever defeated Archdemons and ended Blights. Unfortunately, the Grey Warden who defeats the Archdemon is usually sacrificed, unless he or she is protected by dark magic.
Background & Origin
Before the start of Dragon Age: Origins, there were only four Blights to date. The events of Dragon Age:Origins details the history of Ferelden during the fifth blight (meaning 5 of the 7 Elder Gods have fallen to the darkspawn's taint).
While The Blight's exact origin is currently yet as unrevealed (the dwarves notably have no explanation other than the darkspawn merely one day appeared), the human religious order, the Chantry preach that humanity's own hubris and thirst for immortality created the darkspawn scourge. According to the Chantry 1300 years before the events of Dragon Age: Origins, the Elder Dragon worshiping blood mage rulers of the Tevinter Imperium tried to enter Heaven before passing (known in the Dragon Age universe as the Golden City) and usurp The Maker's (God) abandoned throne; however, once they set foot inside the city the Golden City turned Black (and is visible always in the distance but unreachable in the Fade, the land of dreams). The mages themselves were twisted into the first darkspawn and cast out of the Golden City as punishment for their transgression. The Chantry refers to this disaster as "Second Sin".
The newly created monsters quickly fled into the Deep Roads and by unknown means located and corrupted the first of the Elder Gods, Dumat. Dumat, newly risen as an Archdemon assembled a massive horde of rapidly reproducing darkspawn (through the use of broodmothers) and attacked an unsuspecting world. The Horde destroyed the majority of the dwarven Thaigs (city-states), leaving only two standing, and besieged the Tervinter Imperium. After 90 years of
continuous warfare a group of Anderfel knights defected and formed the first Grey Warden order, discovering their secret method to combat the Archdemon by unknown methods. Finally 102 years later the Grey Wardens killed Dumat, ending the first blight.
The Wardens would successfully rout the the next three successive blights. The second blight would nearly destroy the Wardens home base of Weisshaupt. The Third would see the Wardens barely manage to get an alliance made in time to fend it off, culminating in the bloodiest battle yet seen in a blight. The Fourth would see the forces of Thedas soundly thump the darkspawn, killing so many darkspawn that most citizens of Thedas would come to assume the threat is gone.
The events of Dragon Age: Origins occur 400 years after the fourth blight.
Effects of a Blight
A Blight's impact on Thedas and its' creatures is not limited to a mere invasion. Much of the blight also has to do with corruption of life in all forms. Besides the purposeful forced means of corruption from darkspawn used to create ghouls and Archdemons, The most prominent form of corruption and devastation of the Blight is the Blight Disease.The darkspawn are the carriers of blight disease. Any part of a darkspawn's body or bodily fluid can spread infection, the most common means of transmission is darkspawn blood, also called the Taint.
The disease twists and perverts all living organisms from vegetation to animals to humanoids. Great physical deformity, madness and shortened lifespan are always the outcome from exposure (and sometimes outright death) and while in some animals Blight Disease can be reversed if caught early enough for most it can only be slowed. Usual mutation symptoms in animals and humanoids include massive hair loss, massive boils and sores, rabid frenzied behavior and spine and spike like protrusions.
If Blight Disease advances enough, the affected creature's very species changes (such as ghouls,bereskarn, corrupted spiders and blight wolves). Often once Blight diseases has been introduced into an area it ultimately ends up rendering the area completely lifeless for a time.