- “A slave does not dream of freedom, or wonder at possibilities. You think only of your master's desires, and what the next hour will bring.” ―Fenris
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. The slave trade has existed in Thedas since ancient times and is still common despite only being legal in Tevinter.
Tevinter Imperium Edit
After the elven homeland was invaded and destroyed, the elves were enslaved by the Imperium, and were looked down on as less than the average human. This view has survived the actual institution of slavery into the present day, and manifests in the existence of alienages, and other forms of discrimination directed against elves. In rare occasions, humans are also enslaved. Most Thedosian nations outside the Imperium have either outlawed slavery or at least have developed a negative view of the institution.
In ancient times, during the height of this practice, slaves were millions.
Slavery in Tevinter was briefly abolished, an act that had the potential to cause untold damage to the Imperial economy. The ruling Archon who had ordered the abolition was quickly assassinated, and slavery reintroduced.
Exalted March Edit
When Andraste attacked the weakened Imperium, she freed the majority of the elven slaves, who rose up and fought the Imperium beside her, preparing for months and often fighting with whatever came to hand when the time came. She was joined in this fight by the slave Shartan, whose part in the conflict was detailed in the non-canonical Canticle of Shartan. Although the Canticle is non-canonical, the Chantry in general holds negative views of slavery and the mistreatment of elves.
Present day Edit
Slavery is currently practiced in the Tevinter Imperium and Qunari society. The Antivan Crows also prey on enslaved humans and elves, recruiting them to become elite assassins through rigorous tests of survival and duplicity. The Crows have been known to purchase recruits, arguably enslaving those they buy, or at least indenturing them into a life of servitude.
Tevinter Imperium Edit
Those who wish to become Imperial citizens have no legal status in until they work for a period of ten years. During this time, they are indentured to the citizen providing them labour and can be made to do anything.
Dwarves are thus far not known to be officially kept as slaves in the Imperium, presumably due to their upstanding relations they held with them for millennia as well as for their fundamental importance in providing the Imperium with lyrium. The Venatori, however, used them as slave labor to unearth dwarven ruins in the Hissing Wastes. Free people may choose to sell themselves into slavery to provide for their families. Those slaves who are purchased by the Imperium itself rather than private individuals are called Servus Publicus, or state-owned slaves.
Slaves in a private home can be assigned to specific tasks, such as being a kitchen slave, a scribe,, a bodyguard or handmaiden. They are given as presents and can be sacrificed for blood magic rituals at their owner's whim. If they show promise as a warrior, they can be sold into being trained as an assassin or even a mage-killer.
Slaves have to ask for permission to marry and can only legally be set free before a judge, with the owner present to formally state the slaves have been granted freedom, or by the owner's will upon his or her death. These emancipated slaves are known as Liberati, a subclass with limited rights and are not considered citizens. Liberati can serve as an apprentice in trade. Liberati may also own property, but cannot join the military or have a say in governance.
A slave who is found to possess magical talent needs training, lest their owner find an abomination in the slave quarters one day.  Slaves and Liberati, particularly elves, who demonstrate magical ability are furthermore able to join the Circle of Magi and the lowest rungs of mage society. This applies as well to the children of elven slaves, and facilitates a dubious sense among them of a "meritocracy" within Tevinter even amongst the lowest classes. However, even for those gifted elven slaves who are able to join the magocracy, there is still an element of racism that creates obstacles beyond being seen as a fellow mage. Furthermore, mundane slaves cannot, of course, take part in this meritocratic system any more than any other non-talented citizen can.Slave revolts have been a common occurrence throughout Tevinter history. Kirkwall was once made the center of the Tevinter slave trade after a revolt in Minrathous caused then-Archon Vanarius Issar to fear for his life.
Ancient Tevinter considered elves, who tended to make up the bulk of the slave class, to be snivelling cowards and in fact called them "rattus". Such opinions likely only reinforced the divide between (at the time) non-human slave and human owner.
It is one of the few places where elves are still literal slaves, as opposed to alienage elves who are not technically slaves, but are still in the bottom of the society and it is common practice for alienage elves to sell themselves or each other into slavery to provide for their families.
Because of this, the condition of alienage elves in the Imperium is slightly better, but for the slaves it is significantly worse, compared to the elves of other countries. Slave hunters may capture elves in other nations (where, for the most part, slavery is illegal) and smuggle them into the Imperium, but those who are caught doing so are executed and made an example of. Those slaves who are sold on the black market are considered "non-contract" slaves, and have the worst living conditions of all.
Furthermore, elven spies for the Qunari may voluntarily sell themselves back into slavery in order to move undetected through non-Qunari lands, particularly Tevinter. This is considered a particular danger in the Imperium.
Par Vollen Edit
The Qunari use a substance called qamek to strip those who refuse to convert to the Qun from their identities, turning them into mindless labour forces called viddath-bas.
Rest of Thedas Edit
The Antivan Crows also prey on enslaved humans and elves, recruiting them to become elite assassins through rigorous tests of survival and duplicity. The Crows have been known to purchase recruits, arguably enslaving those they buy, or at least indenturing them into a life of servitude.
Although slavery is illegal in Orlais, it is still not unheard of for wealthy nobles to own elven slaves. In recent years, though, the laws against slavery have become more strictly upheld. Empress Celene may have been instrumental in this change of policy.
Known slaves Edit
- Andraste: The Bride of the Maker by Chantry's beliefs. Her mother, Brona, may arguably have been a slave.
- Shartan: An elven slave inspired by Andraste, who along with the elven slaves of the Tevinter Imperium fought at her side during the First Exalted March, winning the Dales for the elven people. Sometimes known as "Thane" Shartan.
- Justinia: a Tevinter human slave, and disciple and friend of Andraste.
- Alarith: An escaped elven slave of the Tevinter Imperium, now living in the Denerim alienage.
- Radun, an Alamarri human slave who started the slave rebellion in Kirkwall.
- Valora: The intended bride of Soris in the City Elf Origin. She appears to have been taken by the Tevinter slavers during the events of Unrest in the Alienage.
- Hahren Valendrian: The hahren of the Denerim Alienage. If the player is of City Elf Origin, Valendrian will have been sent to Tevinter during the events of Unrest in the Alienage, along with many other elven citizens, as well as the children of the Abandoned Orphanage. In that case, the City Elf's father Cyrion Tabris will appear in Valendrian's place in Caladrius's cell.
- Cyrion Tabris: depending on the Warden's origin, he may be taken by Tevinter slavers in lieu of Valendrian. If the player is not a city elf, Cyrion may have been sent to Tevinter in Valendrian's place, as he is not seen in the cells or the alienage and does not appear otherwise.
- Golems are considered as slaves of their masters, they are in fact dwarves turned into stone or steel living constructs.
- Zevran Arainai: An Antivan elf purchased at age seven by the Antivan Crows to be trained as an assassin. His enslavement is somewhat open to interpretation, however. While one is not allowed to leave the Crows once a member, Zevran seems to consider himself more an indentured servant, as he feels his work with the Crows prior to the events of the Fifth Blight have repaid his debt to the guild.
- Lanaya: a City elf and mage turned Dalish elf and First to Zathrian. As a child the merchant's cart she and her family were traveling in was attacked by bandits and Lanaya was kept as a slave until Zathrian freed her.
- Fenris: A former Tevinter slave and elven warrior branded by his master, Danarius, with Lyrium tattoos that augment his skills. His mother, unnamed, was also a slave.
- Tallis: A elven agent of the Qunari. Her parents sold her as a slave in the Tevinter Imperium. She was saved by Qunari who then recruited her into their ranks. As with all Qunari, Tallis is her title rather than her name.
- Varania: An elven mage and sister to Fenris. Her current status is disputable as she is described as a servant in a court seeking to become apprenticed to a magister when she appears in Dragon Age II, and Fenris bartered for her and their mother's freedom. Her freedom, however, was not a blessing to her and she has had to essentially indenture herself to magisters to survive.
- Orana: An elven slave to Hadriana. She may be rescued by Hawke and given employ as a servant or slave in their mansion, or sent off on her own during the quest A Bitter Pill, potentially to the Chantry. Her father and grandfather were also slaves, the former sacrificed by Hadriana along with others to gain the power to protect herself from Fenris. The sacrifice happens before Hawke and Fenris arrive.
Known slavers Edit
- Dorian: An Orlesian Count and the former owner of Fiona, who slew him with magic. Not to be confused with Dorian Pavus.
- Caladrius: During the Fifth Blight, he went to Denerim and under the secret permission of Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir, he was shipping the elves from the Denerim Alienage to Tevinter. Devera as well as other Tevinter soldiers were his accomplices.
- Caridin: The inventor of the Anvil of the Void, Caridin eventually resorted to forcing dwarves to become golems at the behest of King Valtor. He eventually became a golem himself, spending an eternity suffering the torment he had inflicted upon others.
- King Valtor: Valtor was the dwarven king who ordered casteless and criminals to be forcibly turned into golems in order to fill the ranks of his armies and achieve victory against the darkspawn.
- Branka: Depending on player's choice she can reclaim the Anvil of the Void and restore golem production.
- Danzig: During the Wayward Son quest, he is involved in slave trafficking in Kirkwall.
- Danarius: A Tevinter magister, he arrives to Kirkwall in order to capture Fenris and return him to his property after Hadriana fails to do so.
- Hadriana: She is sent by Danarius along with a contingent of slavers to capture Fenris.
- Hawke: If the player chooses to take Orana on as an unpaid servant in the Hawke mansion. Hawke's mother, Leandra, will assume Orana is a slave no matter what the player chooses.
- Devon: A Tevinter lord involved in acquiring slaves for the Imperium from the southern regions of Thedas. Worked with Isabela as the Armada's "procurer" in the north.
- Isabela: Isabela was involved in transporting slaves to the Imperium when she owed money during her time with the Felicisima Armada. She and Devon were responsible for the deaths of many slaves as well as in transporting them.
- Andoral, one of the Old Gods, is called as "The Dragon of Slaves" or alternatively as the "The Dragon of Chains".
See also Edit
Codex entry: The Bone Pit
Codex entry: The Enigma of Kirkwall
Codex entry: Kirkwall - The Gallows
Codex entry: Slavery in the Tevinter Imperium
Codex entry: Constellation: Servani
Codex entry: A Magister's Needs
Codex entry: A Missing Slave
Codex entry: The Secret Tongue of Slaves