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Old Gods

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Concept art of an archdemon

Old Gods are beings that were worshipped by a significant number of Thedosians, specifically the mages of the Tevinter Imperium, thousands of years ago. The mages worshipped them in the form of dragons. Legend holds that it was the Old Gods who initially taught mages how to use magic. It is widely believed—if not generally accepted as self-evident—throughout Thedas that the archdemons are the sleeping Old Gods, tainted and corrupted by the darkspawn.

Background Edit

Early history and imprisonment Edit

We dreamed up false gods, great demons
Who could cross the Veil into the waking world,
Turned our devotion upon them, and forgot you.

—From Threnodies 1

The true nature of the Old Gods is unknown. The Old Gods are not creators and even the people of ancient Tevinter attributed the creation of the world to the Maker, although by a different name.[1]

The Chantry teaches that when the Maker turned his back on spirits, some of them grew jealous of the living. Those powerful enough whispered to the living in dreams claiming that they were the true gods, the creators of the world and the living should bow down before them. Eventually, the living summoned them through the Veil. In the mortal realm these spirits took the form of dragons, winged Old Gods that ruled over the land.[2] The living started to worship them instead of the Maker, an act recognized as the "Original Sin." In fury the Maker cursed the Old Gods, imprisoning them in underground tombs where they would slumber eternally.[2]

Some accounts suggest that the Old Gods began whispering to humanity from the Golden City in -2800 Ancient, three hundred years after the arrival of humans in Thedas. They taught the dreamers of the Neromenian tribes magic, and these dreamers became the priests and kings of their people.[3] Originally the Neromenian tribes worshiped fallen heroes reborn as dragons, and with dreamers as their leaders they began to instead worship the dreamers' gods, also as dragons.[4]

Scholars assume that the Old Gods must have been real at one point, but most agree that they were actual dragons of a magnitude not known today, and impressive enough to frighten ancient peoples into worshiping them. Some even claim that these dragons slumber as a form of hibernation, not as a result of the Maker's wrath.[2][5]

The Tome of Koslun, the sacred Qunari scripture explicitly says that "the Old Gods were like unto dragons, as the first human kings were like unto ordinary men".[6]

Worship in Tevinter Edit

Lost idol

An ancient Tevinter Idol found in the Western Approach. Relief carvings on the slab depict worshipers of Razikale engaged in a religious ceremony

The demons who would be gods,
Began to whisper to men from their tombs within the earth.
And the men of Tevinter heard and raised altars
To the pretender-gods once more

—From Threnodies 5

Legend maintains that the minds of the Old Gods continued to roam the Fade like any other dreaming individuals' mind would, and they were able to contact Neromenian dreamers once more[2][5]. Honorary[7] Archon, Thalsian accredited his discovery of blood magic in -1595 Ancient to the Old God Dumat and established the first temples dedicated to the Old Gods to show his gratitude[2][5][8].

Four centuries later, in -1195 Ancient Darinius founded the Tevinter Imperium and established the magisterium from the priesthood of the Old Gods[7][8]. In the days of the Tevinter Imperium, the Old Gods were a pantheon of deities widely revered by most citizens, with temples and priesthoods dedicated to their veneration, such as the acolytes of Dumat, who swore oaths of silence in homage to their lord.[9] Dragons became equated everywhere with Imperial power.[2][5] Holidays were popularly celebrated in tribute to the Old Gods, namely the Festival of Urthemiel, which spanned an entire week.

Downfall Edit

Then a voice whispered within their hearts,
You are the Lords of the earth!
Go forth to claim the empty throne
Of Heaven and be gods.

—From Threnodies 8

In -395 Ancient seven magisters, each a high priest to one of the Old Gods physically entered the Golden City. The Chantry holds that they did so at the behest of the Old Gods in a failed attempt to usurp the Maker's throne, an act recognized as the "Second Sin". The City turned black and the magisters were cast out as the first darkspawn, inadvertently causing the First Blight.[10][11] While the Chantry insists that the darkspawn tainted Old God Dumat and turned him into the first Archdemon, some ancient lore says it was Dumat who created the darkspawn and not the other way around.[2][7]

Splr dai
“Whatever we were before, we are now the Inquisition.” — The Inquisitor
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Click here to reveal them.
Corypheus, one of the seven magisters and the High Priest of Dumat confirms that he had indeed "breached the Fade" and "walked the halls of the Golden City".[12] Prior to the event Corypheus had been secretly discussing how to promote the weakening cult of the Old Gods with the other priests.[13] Corypheus states that they "sought the golden light" and Dumat "offered the power of the gods themselves".[14] He also says that he wanted "to serve the Old Gods of the empire in person".[12] But the city that was "supposed to be golden" and "theirs" was black instead, and he knew "darkness ever since".[14] Corypheus emphasizes that he "found only chaos and corruption, dead whispers" and that he "had seen the throne of the gods, and it was empty".[12]He rejects the accusation that they "brought darkness into the world", asserting that they "discovered the darkness", "claimed it as their own, let it permeate their being".[15] The fate of other magisters is unknown to Corypheus[15], yet at least some of them survived[16], including the Architect.[17]

The event of the First Blight led to a crisis of faith across the Imperium, shaken at the devastation their own god relentlessly championed. Several temples were razed by betrayed believers, slaughtering priests to the Old Gods as retribution for their unheeded prayers. Today, cults devoted to the Old Gods are rumored to still exist in some places, but the religion has since been for the most part replaced with the monotheistic worship of the Maker.

The Call Edit

It was the most beautiful thing she’d ever heard. Aching and ethereal, it seemed to pull her toward a memory of nostalgic bliss that she had somehow lost — but that she would do anything to recover. Anything at all. ― Isseya[18]

All darkspawn constantly hear the call of the slumbering Old Gods and search for them. When they find one, they corrupt it and it becomes an Archdemon, proceeding to unite them into a horde and unleash a new Blight. Hence many believe that with the death of all Old Gods the Blights will end.[5][19] At some time after their Joining, Grey Wardens also start hearing this call. This is the actual Calling and the moment when Grey Wardens know they must descend into the Deep Roads to find their death in battle lest they become fully tainted, nothing more than ghouls. The call of the Old Gods becomes physically audible when close to one of their prisons.[20]

Bregan describes the call of the Old Gods as a sound of "terrible beauty" and "awful yearning", while the Architect considers darkspawn pursuit for the ancient dragons as a never-ending aspiration towards a perfection they can never have, as it is corrupted in the instant they touch it.[21] Cole hears the call in the Western Approach and feels that it has "an urgency that sped his heart"[22] and is different from the song of lyrium.[23]

Splr daoa
“I do not seek to rule my brethren. I only seek to release them from their chains.” — The Architect
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening. Click here to reveal them.
The Architect himself is free of the call and wishes to free his brethren of their compulsion. He created a version of Joining that uses the blood of Grey Wardens to "awaken" darkspawn, turning them into sapient Disciples. While many welcomed the newly-gained freedom, the deprivation of the "sweet call" drew some of the darkspawn mad, including the Mother.
Splr dai
“Whatever we were before, we are now the Inquisition.” — The Inquisitor
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Click here to reveal them.
Corypheus is able to emulate the call of the Old Gods, speaking through the taint to both Grey Wardens and darkspawn[24], and even Carta dwarves who have drank darkspawn blood[25]. Only those in close vicinity were originally affected by this ability[24], but with the help of the Nightmare demon who amplified it's power[26] Corypheus managed to make all Wardens of Orlais hear the call.[27]

The Old Gods Edit

Urthemiel, WoT

Urthemiel, the Dragon of Beauty[28]

The Tevinters worshipped seven Old Gods. The first—and the leader of the others—was called Dumat, the Dragon of Silence.

A Chantry scholar conjectured that there might have been an unknown eighth Old God represented by constellation "Draconis" that was stricken from historical record.

Trivia Edit

  • The Grey Wardens know the locations of the prisons of each of the Old Gods; however, they are deep underground and cannot easily be accessed by the Wardens without cutting through thousands of darkspawn.[29]

See also Edit

Ico codex entry Codex entry: The Old Gods

References Edit

  1. BSN David Gaider (2010). "The Chantry, The Maker, The Old Gods: questions" . BioWare Social Network. Retrieved on March 23, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Dragon Age: Origins Collector's Edition: Prima Official Game Guide
  3. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 12
  4. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, pp. 121-122
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Codex entry: The Old Gods
  6. Mentioned by the Sten as an Arishok in Dragon Age: Those Who Speak, chapter 2.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 122
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Player's Guide, set 3, p. 6
  9. Codex entry: Dumat, the Dragon of Silence
  10. Codex entry: The Chant of Light: The Blight
  11. Codex entry: Corypheus
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 According to Corypheus in Dragon Age: Inquisition during In Your Heart Shall Burn and Doom Upon All the World.
  13. According to the memories of Corypheus' servant.
  14. 14.0 14.1 According to Corypheus in Dragon Age 2 Legacy DLC
  15. 15.0 15.1 Corypheus's Memories
  16. Codex entry: A Different Darkspawn?
  17. Chatting With David Gaider.
  18. Dragon Age: Last Flight, Chapter 3
  19. Dialogue between Solas and Blackwall.
  20. According to the Ancient Warden Logbook found in the Western Approach.
  21. Dragon Age: The Calling, Chapter 6
  22. Dragon Age: Asunder, Chapter 9
  23. Dragon Age: Asunder, Chapter 11
  24. 24.0 24.1 Codex entry: A Change of Course
  25. See Codex entry: Praise Corypheus! and the dialogue with Gerav in the Legacy DLC
  26. According to a dialogue between Vivienne and Solas
  27. According to the Warden ally during Here Lies the Abyss
  28. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, pp. 122-123
  29. Mentioned in Dragon Age: The Calling.

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