A Blight refers to a period when darkspawn find and corrupt one of the Old Gods, which is transformed into an Archdemon and leads the horde to attack the surface world. The world has seen five Blights to date; as Dragon Age: Origins begins, the Fifth Blight has just begun.
The Blight Edit
A Blight is distinct from the occasional darkspawn raids, in which the darkspawn are few, scattered, and disorganized, plaguing the Deep Roads almost exclusively. These grand highway-tunnels - constructed by the dwarves at the height of their empire but almost entirely controlled by darkspawn ever since the First Blight - extend throughout subterranean Thedas.
When the darkspawn discover one of the Old Gods—ancient draconic creatures slumbering 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 clouds 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. For this reason, the order accords legendary respect throughout most nations (though their presence in Ferelden in the decades prior to the events of the Fifth Blight is weakened by local political struggles and the centuries that have elapsed since the most recent Blight).
Blight disease Edit
The corruption (or "taint") spread by the darkspawn twists and corrupts all living organisms, which go mad, develop physical afflictions, and/or perish outright. Survivors are transformed into ghouls (animal equivalents include bereskarn, blight wolves and corrupted spiders). In rare cases an infected subject (e.g. The Mabari Hound) may make a full recovery if given early care; however, most are put down to prevent them from transforming and/or spreading the disease further - or to spare them a slower and/or uglier impending death.
Even "ghouled" victims will ultimately be killed by the disease, leaving whole areas completely lifeless. The longer an infected creature 'lives', the more it will manifest hair loss, aggressive or even rabid behaviour, and numerous deformities, protrusions, boils and sores.
The Thaw Edit
The Thaw begins after the Archdemon is defeated, as surviving darkspawn flee back towards the Deep Roads and the periphery of blighted lands can begin to be reclaimed. Surviving Grey Wardens strive to catch stragglers before they go to ground - referring to this as the Thaw Hunt.
The events of Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening take place during the Thaw that follows the Fifth Blight.
History of Blights Edit
First Blight (800–992 TE) Edit
- Main article: First Blight
The Chantry teaches that it is the hubris of men that brought the darkspawn into existence. The mage rulers of the Tevinter Imperium sought to usurp the Golden City – the afterlife created by the Maker for mortals – but were cast out, twisted with corruption, and returned as monsters – the first darkspawn. In their depravity they sought the Old Gods, and, finding Dumat slumbering deep within the earth, began the Blight. The dwarves are less inclined to believe such a history; to them, the darkspawn simply appeared one day and have been their bitter enemies ever since. Some dwarves do suggest that the humans are the reason for their existence, though not necessarily magisters specifically.
However, if the Chantry's history and Orzammar's Memories are both true, then Tevinter mages would have entered the Fade, been cursed, fled, found Dumat, raised an army, and then overrun the western thaigs all in one year. It seems more likely that the magisters had already been seeking Dumat for some time. A few Grey Warden scholars believe they may have even found him by that time, and that it was he who helped them to reach the Golden City. Different groups of mages may have been pursuing different agendas that were later fused.
Whatever happened, the result was catastrophic. Thedas was nearly overrun and the dwarven race nearly extinguished (to this day only Orzammar and Kal-Sharok still stand against the darkspawn). Only with the founding of the Grey Wardens in -305 Ancient (890 TE) the tide turned. Even then, it required a hundred years until Dumat was finally slain at the Battle of the Silent Plains in -203 Ancient (992 TE). The Imperium was left severely weakened, and was subsequently overthrown by a mass movement led by the prophet Andraste.
Second Blight (1:5–95 Divine) Edit
- Main article: Second Blight
Zazikel awoke in 1:5 Divine and the Second Blight began, with darkspawn coming out of the mountains in all corners of the continent. They slaughtered the entire city of Hossberg in the Anderfels before the Grey Wardens finally got the word out. The Free Marches and Orlais were hard-pressed to defend themselves, but the Wardens and the armies under Emperor Drakon made the difference. Just over ten years into the second Blight the Orlesians won several battles, including the hard-fought victory at the Battle of Cumberland. As the Orlesians and Grey Wardens shared continued victories, the Blight wound down to its last battle in Starkhaven. The Wardens destroyed Zazikel, and the darkspawn were routed for the second time.
Third Blight (3:10–25 Towers) Edit
- Main article: Third Blight
The Old God Toth arose in 3:10 Towers, and the darkspawn erupted in the central lands of Thedas. Swarms of them engulfed the Tevinter cities of Marnas Pell and Vyrantium, and the Orlesian cities of Arlesans and Montsimmard. The Grey Wardens of both countries were able to quickly organize a defense, and despite heavy losses in the besieged cities the darkspawn were pushed back, proceeding to ravage what would later become Nevarra as well as the Free Marches and the length of the Minanter river. Pressure from Weisshaupt convinced Orlais and Tevinter to unite against the horde, but neither would consent to aid the beleaguered city-states. After fifteen years of conflict, the armies of Orlais and Tevinter joined the Grey Wardens at Hunter Fell. Toth was destroyed, and the darkspawn in attendance were slaughtered in one of the bloodiest battles in history.
Fourth Blight (5:12–24 Exalted) Edit
- Main article: Fourth Blight
The Fourth Blight began when the archdemon Andoral arose just as the Chantry's Exalted March against the Tevinter Imperium ended. The darkspawn appeared in great numbers in the northeast and northwestern regions of Thedas. They overran Antiva, the Free Marches, Rivain and Anderfels. Orlais and Tevinter were beset by smaller numbers and managed to drive the darkspawn back into the Deep Roads.
In 5:20 Exalted, the elven Warden Garahel led an army of Anders and Grey Wardens to Hossberg and broke the siege. They then marched to Starkhaven where they formed an alliance between the minor rulers of the Free Marches. This united army marches north, eventually ending the Blight at the Battle of Ayesleigh. Garahel sacrificed himself, having slain Andoral in single combat. So many darkspawn were killed, many imagined they would never return. The fact that dwarves had to continue to repel darkspawn from their borders was increasingly ignored by surfacers (excluding the Grey Wardens).
Fifth Blight (9:30–31 Dragon) Edit
- Main article: Fifth Blight
Future Blights Edit
If the archdemons do indeed originate from the seven Old Gods of the Tevinter Imperium, Thedas might endure two more Blights - only Razikale and Lusacan remain undefiled, and the rest are dead. What any remaining darkspawn would do then, lacking the call of an Old God, is unknown.
If the Warden-Commander chose to side with the Architect in Awakening, its plan to sever the ties between the Old Gods and the remaining darkspawn may come to fruition, possibly preventing the Sixth and Seventh Blights from even beginning. However, seeing as it actually tainted the Archdemon of the Fifth Blight, it is entirely possible it will taint another Archdemon.According to a possible epilogue, there is rumored to be another Blight brewing in the Anderfels.
- ↑ Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 145
- ↑ Dragon Age RPG: Set 2, Game Master's Guide, p. 2