New Dragon Age Talk on the Old Gods!

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"Welcome to DA Talk, an exploration into the world of Thedas and its long history of faith and conflict. 

Welcome to DA Talk, an exploration into the world of Thedas and its long history of faith and conflict. Today, we speak of the Old Gods, seven Dragon deities once worshiped in Ancient times and now synonymous with the Blight. As we descend into the depths of blood magic, depravity, and death, two things will be answered: who are the Old Gods and how will they reappear in Thedas and beyond.

Let us begin with the story of seven Dragons, seven Gods who have spanned the long course of Thedas’ history. Dumat, the God of Silence. Zazikel, the god of Chaos. Toth: The god of Fire. Andoral: god of Slaves. Urthemiel: god of beauty. Razikale: the god of mystery. And Lusacan: of Night. 

In Ancient times, from approximately years 2800 to 395, between the rise of men and the mighty reign of the Tevinter Imperium, the main religion centered on the dragon deities. The Old Gods whispered to their chosen, teaching magic to humanity. An Archon named Thalsian, a magister of Tevinter, claimed to have learned blood magic from the Old God Dumat. Sacrifices to these gods at their respective temples were common, especially sacrificing Elven slaves as fuel to perform outrageous, yet powerful acts of magic. But in some time, the Old Gods became betrayers, malformed into sick, twisted creatures called Archdemons. The same Archdemons we know that bring the Blights.

The true tale of how the Blights came to be are unclear; however, as centuries have aged, so have the tales that have pervaded through religion and cultures. The Chantry tells the tale of the Golden City, the house of the true God called the Maker, and all of its glorious splendor. “The magisters wanted more. They used magic, fueled by blood, to physically step into the Fade and approach the Golden City. For their audacity, they were cast out as the first darkspawn, and the corrupted Golden City blackened.” Furious, the Maker abandoned humanity to its fate and imprisoned the Old Gods deep within the earth. But as the Old Gods slept, one by one was found. the Darkspawn tainted and converted them into what the world knows as Archdemons.

Or so the Chantry says, as the alternative to the story comes from Hawke, the Champion of Kirkwall, who in sometime between years 31 and 37 of the Dragon Age, sought out a Grey Warden prison, released and slew Corypheus, one of the claimed ancient magisters loyal to the Old God Dumat. While true that the magisters physically entered the Fade, under the promise that they would have “the power of the gods themselves,” they did not find a Golden City. Dumat betrayed his faithful by luring them into a city of Black, only to be casted out and left tainted. Nothing else of the tale was said except the years of silence.

The true story of what happened has been lost with time, but the Old Gods continue their influence in the world. Both as Darkspawn and as the pride of Old. Let us move from the remnants of history and shift into the present. 

The Chantry

The Chantry, or more specifically the Andrastian Chantry, is based on the prophet Andraste, the alleged bride of the Maker, the one true god. Magic is meant to serve man, not rule over him. Magic is a horrible gift that must be controlled and used for the good of man, in order to prevent humanity (and practically, all kind) from plunging into the same depravity that lured the ancient magisters to defile the Golden City. 

The Andrastian Chantry and all of its teachings preach of the false Old Gods and the ancient magisters who succumbed to blood magic, thus forcing the Blights against all kind. The Old Gods themselves were not gods, but strong and powerful spirits who turned against the Maker. Believable or not, the Chant’s explanation for the Blights is one of the widely accepted explanations for the origins of the Darkspawn. 

However, Tevinter views and respects Ancient times in an entirely different mentality. 

The Tevinter Imperium

While nowhere as strong as it used to be, the Tevinter Imperium is still a prideful hub for magic. Its class-based system reigns everyday life, from the social climate to the Imperial Chantry.

The class system involves four classes, from bottom to top: the Slaves, the Soporati, the Laetans, and the Altus. The Altus are composed of the descendants of the original Dreamers, and are the most powerful citizens of Tevinter. Slaves are commonly at the whims of the magisters, some dying for the sake of desired power. Not at lengths of the old days of Tevinter where hundreds upon thousands were sacrificed to the temples of the Old Gods, but the acts of blood magic still practiced willingly in secret. 

Worship of the Old Gods is not commonplace, or held in polite company, as the Imperial Chantry stands in its place: a variation of the Andrastian Chantry that completely allows magic, but continues to recognize the Maker. Joining the Circle of Magi is a privilege; unlike the depressive Circle of Magi in other parts of Thedas. What used to be organized by the Soporati and Laetans, the Chantry itself is ruled by Altus again. The strongest magisters still reign. In the current day, it is impossible to separate magic and Tevinter’s way of life.

The Grey Wardens

In direct conflict are the Grey Wardens, devoted men and women who undertake the Darkspawn taint in order to fight the blights. In order to fight the Archdemons. It’s an unfortunate, yet necessarily symbiotic relationship: an Archdemon rises and a new Blight begins. Grey Wardens recruit new members through the Joining, a blood magic ritual which uses Darkspawn and Archdemon blood. Fighting, death…and the Archdemon slain by sacrificing a Grey Warden. Grey Wardens harvest blood from the Archdemon, then wait until the next Blight. Then, the cycle continues.

As those afflicted with the taint, the Wardens have a capability that the common folk, the nobility, even to an extent some royalty, do not know: Wardens know the locations of the Old Gods’ prisons. Deeply rooted in the depths of the Deep Roads are these jails, whether the Old Gods are actually imprisoned or simply slumbering, but these locations are infested with legions of Darkspawn. Not all Wardens can sense the prisons, as that sensitivity must strengthen as the taint ages with its host. While it may be suicidal for Wardens to venture out to an Old God, the locations are clear.

While no one knows the source of their power, Old Gods have a passive ability that beckons and lures the Darkspawn to enact their bidding. The sound the Archdemons produce are as familiar as the singing hum of raw lyrium. The connection has not been completely studied, as many attempts have caused dangerous complications. For instance, the interrogation of Corypheus caused more Wardens to become enthralled and unstable. The song the Darkspawn and Wardens hear is a gradually intense song that is painfully incapable of resisting.

The Architect, a self-aware Darkspawn (not under the call of the Archdemons), has enacted a number of attempts to change the course for his Darkspawn brethren. While most Darkspawn are under the mercy of the Archdemon’s beckoning call, the Architect and its awakened others reverse-engineered the Grey Warden’s Joining by using Warden blood to become aware. But in its attempts to prevent the Blights, the Architect has directly interfered in Thedas’ livelihood. He incidentally started the Fifth Blight by awakening Urthemiel, Archdemon head of the Fifth Blight, in a failed attempt to turn him. It also attempted to spread the taint to all people in Thedas, but King Maric and a number of Grey Wardens stopped the plan. Depending on the actions of the Hero of Ferelden, the Architect may still involve itself in, at the very least, two more blights.

The Old Gods compel Darkspawn hordes to enact their will; until they are disabled, many believe the Blights will continue. Allegedly, the Grey Wardens have destroyed four Old Gods: Dumat, Zazikel, Toth, and Andoral. It is up to the Warden, the Hero of Ferelden, whether the fifth Old God urthemiel is destroyed or kept alive by Morrigan. Morrigan, the Witch of the Wilds, who offered to enact a blood ritual to store Urthemiel’s soul into an unborn child, to serve an unknown purpose. Meanwhile, Razikale and Lusacan still slumber in the Deep Roads.

The Grey Wardens will seek to rid Thedas of the Old Gods. The song is too strong to allow; the Darkspawn horde too big a threat; the Archdemon too caustic to keep alive. Two known Blights are to come, and we know the Wardens to hold their promise to fight the Darkspawn. Or, at least, until something more sinister comes into play. And once again, they stand alone to challenge it.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

To be clear, Dragon Age: Inquisition revolves around the Veil tearing and demons pouring from the Fade to the world. No one expects Darkspawn, as the Fifth Blight only ended a decade ago. However, three elements may play into exacerbating a larger Darkspawn threat. Perhaps, the sixth blight.

The Architect, the self-aware Darkspawn, may incite another Blight if left alive. While its first attempt against Urthemiel failed, if the Warden-Commander allowed the Architect to leave, it may use its freedom to provoke another Darkspawn reaction, such as the ones who attacked Amaranthine, or another Blight, as it did with Urthemiel. Further, it may continue to harvest Grey Wardens in order to turn other Darkspawn. More awakened Darkspawn may quell the numbers in the Deep Roads, but to allow allegiance with Darkspawn, who are essentially corruptions of flesh, may cause more turmoil on the surface.

Alternatively, the Grey Wardens are acting suspect. During the Qunari occupation of Kirkwall, the Wardens in passing encountered Hawke and hinted at a greater threat to Thedas than the Qunari. While it is expected to suspect something involving Darkspawn, especially with the Wardens who investigated the red lyrium tunnels of the Deep Roads, no other clues indicate the Grey Wardens’ true motives. Well, other than an alleged Blight in the Anderfels. Again. As mentioned in the end of Awakening.

And finally, if the player chose to have Morrigan enact the blood magic ritual before the Battle at Denerim, Urthemiel may prove another threat. While Urthemiel is born again as Morrigan’s child, no clear answer exists if the boy will have the same native call the other Old Gods have, if he knows what he did during ancient times, if indoctrinated by Morrigan to have other memories, or is born again without any knowledge of his past but all the same magical prowess. It’s unclear what the boy mage will do with Morrigan to guide him, with his involvement in future Blights with the last two Old Gods Razikale and Lusacan.

It’s better to look beyond Inquisition on the resolution of the Old Gods and the Blights. No guarantees exist in the Blights and Darkspawn ending by defeating the last two gods Razikale and Lusacan. If Corypheus was honest, the Golden City was already tainted black and the Chantry’s answers for the Blight may be completely wrong. If the Chantry is right, all nations will need to band under the Maker for him to come back; however, with the Qun and other religions in stark opposition, we may never see this day. Heroes like the Warden, Hawke, and the Inquisitor will challenge the future of Thedas: whether it has the right to continue as the realm of the living, or if the demons will strike everyone down before the Blight has the chance.

That is the end of the Talk on the Old Gods. Thank you for watching! This week’s question is a simple one: how do you think the Blight will end?

My personal belief is when the calling is done and gone. When the song is no longer there and both the Darkspawn and the Grey Wardens can be at peace with their thoughts. The song itself drives the Darkspawn to the pinnacle of madness and insanity. If we are to believe the Architect will help the Darkspawn become aware, we may see a cross between two groups - the enlightened Darkspawn who have a mind of their own and the impossibly deranged Darkspawn who will need to be strike down.

As we saw in Awakening, not all Darkspawn are sane after they are rid of the song. The Mother was the best example, turning into a crazed creature. Becoming a Darkspawn is a corruption, and as made evident in Origins, broodmothers are the most sickening creatures, created with means as heinous as blood magic. Once the Old Gods are dead, or rather neutralized, and the indoctrinating song no longer exists, we may see the Darkspawn manage themselves in the Deep Roads. Or slay each other out of survival. Time will tell.

Thanks for watching. Hope you enjoyed - leave your answer to the Question of the Video or any response, either positive or negative, in the box below. Or if you don’t like Youtube, check the description for other methods of leaving your comment for the next video. Take care - I will see you next time.”