- See also: Blight
The Dwarves Fall
The world during the First Blight was different from the world we know today. Aside from the civilized rule of the Imperium, humans as a race were largely barbarous and splintered, divided into clans and tribes and squabbling among ourselves for resources. At the same time, deep beneath Thedas's great mountain ranges spanned a dwarven culture as organized and advanced as ours was primitive.
As the darkspawn bubbled up to the surface from their underground lairs, mankind first buckled and then fought back. The armies of Tevinter attempted to face down the multitudes of twisted creatures and the horrid rotting of the land around them, but they could not be everywhere at once. Human history remembers the First Blight as a time of terrible devastation, and those stories are accurate, but in our arrogance we often forget the price paid by the dwarves in their isolated mountain kingdoms.
The dwarves faced far greater hordes than humanity as the darkspawn challenged them for control of the underground. Despite the might and technology the dwarves brought to bear, the savage darkspawn tore through them, first destroying the more remote thaigs before swallowing up entire kingdoms. Think of it: an entire civilization lost in the space of decades. Compared to the near-genocide that the dwarves faced, what we humans call the First Blight must have seemed a mere skirmish. Against the darkspawn, the dwarven lands have always borne the brunt of the fighting and the majority of the sacrifices.
Four dwarven kingdoms finally managed to combine their might and fight back, and that cooperation saved them. But for the rest of their lands it was too late. The darkspawn had taken the Deep Roads, the majestic underground passages that linked the dwarven lands throughout Thedas. The darkspawn could now attack anywhere on the surface through these tunnels.
Humanity simply was not prepared for such an onslaught. It was clear that the warfare we knew would not avail us. We had to find a new way to fight.
Thus came our salvation: The Grey Wardens were born.