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The body may die but the soul is ever-lasting. ―A Blade of Hessarian

A soul is an incorporeal essence of a living being. This concept is shared by all known Thedosian cultures. It is sometimes referred to as "spirit"[1][2][3][4][5] (unlike a Fade spirit) or "essence".[6][3][7][8]

Origin and nature Edit

Here Lies the Abyss - Waters

Waters of the Fade

Here lies the abyss, the well of all souls.
From these emerald waters doth life begin anew.[9]

According to the Chant of Light, the Fade began as an "ocean of dreams" and was reduced to a well when the Maker used its "emerald waters",[10] lyrium.[11] He "took from the Fade a measure of its living flesh" and created men.[12] The Maker gifted them with the spark of the divine, a soul[13] made of "dream and idea, hope and fear, endless possibilities."[12]

While purpose and relevance are paramount to a spirit, experiences and memories thereof define a soul. Unable to taste life themselves, demons seek out the dreaming in the Fade and draw sustenance from their memories.[14] They copy and thus preserve frozen moments that form vast oceans in the Fade.[15] Powerful demons can outright steal memories of the dreaming, making the person forget certain events.[16]

Races of Thedas devised various ways to store their experiences. Ancient elves recorded their memories in the Shattered Library before entering uthenera.[17] They developed close relationships with spirits, who acted as keepers of knowledge[18] and teachers.[19] As each servant of Mythal reached the end of their years, they would pass their knowledge on through the Well of Sorrows.[20] Some memories can be preserved with magic.[21] Dwarves keep their Memories in lyrium. They also created objects known as memory crystals.

Body and soul Edit

Bodies are such limiting things. ―Flemeth

In life the soul is tied to a mortal body and thus restricted to a specific form. A notable exception are shapeshifter mages, who can turn into animals. In order to learn each new form such a mage must copy a creature's soul.[22]

The mortal body needs sustenance and will eventually decay and die. One's years can be extended by the lashing of soul to a Fade spirit. The latter can be forcefully bound with blood magic[23] or willingly provide the spark of life and remain a part of the soul.[24] Some elves in uthenera are said to have been able to reach "perfection" and draw sustenance from the Fade. Their bodies no longer required food or water.[25] A Witch of the Wilds prolonged the life of Xenon the Antiquarian, but his body decayed over time. Avernus was also able to unnaturally prolong his lifespan through blood magic and experimentation.

Shale

Shale's concept art

A part of the living essence or the soul in its entirety can be placed into an inanimate object. Thus a phylactery is a vessel, often a glass vial, containing the essence of a magical being[26] that is secured with blood magic.[27] A soul of an arcane warrior was trapped for centuries inside a phylactery found in the Brecilian Ruins.[28] Flemeth put a "small piece" of herself inside the amulet that Merrill used atop Sundermount to summon her.[29]

Paragon Caridin created golems by placing a soul of a dwarf inside a stone body.[30][31] He killed a dwarf at the Anvil of the Void and encased their soul in a newly forged body with the use of lyrium.[32] A magical, not mechanical, process animated the golem.[33]

Dreaming Edit

Form-Mouse

Mouse form in the Fade

From the Fade I crafted you,
And to the Fade you shall return
Each night in dreams
That you may always remember Me.[12]

When a person dreams, their soul temporarily leaves the body and passes into the Fade[1] where it is free to assume any form. Dwarves do not dream and their souls are normally not to be found in that realm.[34] If the souls of the dreaming are harmed or "killed", they return to their sleeping bodies and awaken before the moment of death.[13][35]

It is possible to enter the Fade through one's mind with magic and remain lucid.[34] Several mages may be required to perform the ritual, with their powers bolstered by lyrium or blood.[36] A single dreamer mage or even an ordinary mage using dreamer techniques[37] can perform the same feat. A soul of any individual can be sent into the Fade this way, including dwarves[38][39] and golems[40] However the magic that keeps conscious minds in the Fade also prevents them from returning to their bodies, meaning that they may die in both realms[13][35] There are known exceptions to this rule, when victims became Tranquil or simply woke up instead.[41]

Trapped souls Edit

You don't need to go back to that other world. You can stay here. ―Katriel

Demons and some mages[42] can trap unfortunate souls in one of the Fade realms to feed upon them. Victims are bound to exist in an endless dream and are unable to return to their bodies until the captor is defeated. If they linger in the Fade for too long, their body will die.[43] Some souls choose to stay even when free to leave.[44] Yet others appear to get trapped after their deaths.[45][46]

If a mage is overwhelmed by the demon, the latter can control and twist the body through the captive spirit like a puppet, resulting in an abomination in its most direct meaning.[13][47] When the demon is defeated in the Fade, the control is broken and the mage's state is reversed.[48] However, the soul is left scarred by the experience and never truly recovers.[49]

Death and afterlife Edit

Cross the Veil and the Fade and all the stars in the sky.
Rest at the Maker's right hand,
And be forgiven.[50]

The bond between spirit and physical body is generally broken upon death, though it may be preserved with magic[6][3] Most cultures agree that souls of the dead pass through the Veil and enter the Fade.[34] Even Fade spirits do not know what happens afterwards.[51] They believe there is a place for those souls beyond, but the details are obscured from them.[52]

The Chantry teaches that the faithful rest at the Maker's side. Until the Golden City turned black, the spirits of the dead gathered in it.[2] Since then they journey to a realm beyond the Fade to join the Maker instead.[13][51]

Nevarrans presume that when a soul crosses the Fade after death, it displaces a Fade spirit.[53]

Avvar believe in an afterlife governed by "the Lady of the Skies" where the dead are reunited with their kin. They also hold that some souls are destined to be reborn in a new body instead with no memories of their past selves. The resurrected Avvar are assumed to be guided by previous experiences through visions and portents.[7]

The Qunari call the Fade "the Land of the Dead". Entering this realm while still alive is forbidden by the Qun.[34] Its tenets emphasize that existence is a choice, and one can refuse it.[54]

Unlike all other races, dwarves believe that in death the spirits of the worthy return to and rest in the Stone after the words of a ritual are said.[4][55] They become the Ancestors who guide and care for their descendants for eternity as well as make the Stone stronger.[56]

Lost souls Edit

We who are forgotten, remember.
Here we wait, in aeons of silence.
We few, we profane.[57]

Some cultures maintain that not all dead are worthy of the afterlife.

DA2 Shade enemy - demons - 2

A shade

The Chantry teaches that the souls of sinners are left to wander in the Void, hopeless and forever lost.[58][2] They return to the ether from which they were formed when they enter the Fade.[13][59] Folk beliefs in Ferelden and Orlais elaborate that a dead man can become lost on his way to the Maker's side and turn into a ghost, forever adrift in a land of shadow.[60]

Some sources claim that shades are unquiet spirits of the dead. They are lost souls that slipped from the Fade into the mortal world with no memories left of ever being alive.[61]

Dwarves believe that in death the Stone rejects the unworthy souls of their kin. They are said to become rock wraiths, beasts of stone that wander the Deep without rest and feed upon lyrium veins.[62][63] "Gangue" shades bound into the rock were once dwarves as well.[64]

Tainted, soulless and immortal Edit

Urthemiel's Soul

A soul transferred

Before darkness claims our souls
Let us see that shred of blue.[65]

See also: Old Gods#The Souls

Taint is said to corrupt the very soul of those affected, including Magisters Sidereal[66], Old Gods turned into the Archdemons[67] and Grey Wardens who went through the Joining ritual.[68][65] Ordinary darkspawn are believed to be soulless.[69][70]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening.


It is unclear how this belief reconciles with the fact that the First was drawn into the Fade during the Shadows of the Blackmarsh.


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Inquisition.


Ancient elven source states that "workers" of the titans were witless and soulless.[71]

Whenever their body is destroyed, the soul of an Archdemon[69][8][70][68] or one of the Magisters[72] passes to the nearest tainted creature, rendering them effectively immortal. The new body is then twisted into a preferred shape, though not necessarily instantly.[73]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Origins.


If a Grey Warden delivers the deathblow to an Archdemon, both of them die. The Order holds that the spirit of the creature becomes trapped in the body of the Warden who, unlike darkspawn, has a soul of their own. The resulting paradox utterly destroys both souls.


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Inquisition.


This theory is disproved by Corypheus who is able to inhabit a Grey Warden's body and survive.

Notes Edit

  • Asala means soul in Qunlat.[74] The Qunari also call distress caused by traumatic experience asala-taar, or "soul sickness". Tamassrans are tasked with curing it.[75]

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Conversation with Wynne at Ostagar in Dragon Age: Origins
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Set 3, Game Master's Guide, p. 12
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Yavana claims that she can pin Claudio Valisti's spirit to his rotting body and make maggots eat his "essence" as they eat his flesh, protecting only enough of his soul to keep him aware. See Dragon Age: The Silent Grove, Chapter 6
  4. 4.0 4.1 Codex entry: Third Legionnaire's Journal
  5. Codex entry: The Cardinal Rules of Magic
  6. 6.0 6.1 Codex entry: Baroness of the Blackmarsh
  7. 7.0 7.1 Codex entry: A Tradition of Rebirth
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 246
  9. Canticle of Andraste 14
  10. Codex entry: Here Lies the Abyss
  11. Codex entry: Lyrium (Origins)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Canticle of Threnodies 5
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 Dragon Age: Origins: Prima Official Game Guide, Collectors Edition, "Extras".
  14. According to Justice during Shadows of the Blackmarsh, see [1]
  15. Codex entry: Walking the Fade: Frozen Moments
  16. Nightmare (demon), as revealed during Here Lies the Abyss
  17. Codex entry: Vir Dirthara: A Flowering Imago
  18. Archivist
  19. Codex entry: Vir Dirthara: Attentive Listeners
  20. According to Abelas at the end of What Pride Had Wrought.
  21. Where Once We Walked
  22. According to Morrigan in a dialogue with Shale.
  23. Zathrian and The Lady of the Forest, see Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 108
  24. Wynne and Spirit of Faith, see her explanation in Dragon Age: Asunder, Chapter 14.
  25. According to Felassan in Dragon Age: The Masked Empire
  26. Codex entry: Phylacteries
  27. Codex entry: The Creation of a Phylactery
  28. Broken Stone Altar
  29. Long Way Home
  30. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, pp. 24-26
  31. Explained by Wynne in Dragon Age: Asunder, Chapter 9. See also the dialogue between Leliana and Shale.
  32. Codex entry: Caridin's Journal
  33. Dragon Age: Origins: Prima Official Game Guide, p. 148
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 143
  35. 35.0 35.1 Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 131
  36. Several mages and lyrium were needed in both The Arl of Redcliffe quest and in Dragon Age: Asunder; Jowan can peform the ritual alone if a human sacrifice is made.
  37. Keeper Marethari during the Night Terrors
  38. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 136
  39. Known dwarves who visited the Fade mentally: Oghren during Broken Circle, Oghren and Sigrun during Shadows of the Blackmarsh, Varric Tethras during Night Terrors, dwarven Inquisitor, who has a conversation with Solas in a dream.
  40. Shale is accidentally drawn into the Fade as a result of the ritual performed by Wynne, Adrian and Rhys in Dragon Age: Asunder.
  41. Feynriel and Hawke's companions during the Night Terrors
  42. Baroness, Aurelian Titus
  43. Niall in Dragon Age: Origins.
  44. Julien in Dragon Age: The Calling.
  45. Katriel tells in Dragon Age: The Calling that Moira Theirin is "trapped in the Fade, living in an endless dream"; Maric tells in Dragon Age: Until We Sleep, part 3, that Rowan and Cailan have resided in the Fade since their deaths.
  46. Victims of the Baroness, as shown during Shadows of the Blackmarsh.
  47. Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Set 1, Player's Guide, p. 48
  48. Known examples: Connor in Dragon Age: Origins, Fiona in Dragon Age: The Calling, Pharamond in Dragon Age: Asunder.
  49. According to Marethari Talas during A New Path.
  50. Canticle of Trials 1
  51. 51.0 51.1 Dragon Age: Asunder, Chapter 4.
  52. According to Justice in Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening, see [2] and [3].
  53. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 53
  54. Codex entry: The Qunari - Asit tal-eb
  55. Stone Halls of the Dwarves
  56. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 126
  57. Codex entry: The Profane
  58. Dialogue#Leliana and Morrigan
  59. Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Set 1, Player's Guide, p. 47
  60. Dragon Age: The Calling, Chapter 12 and Dragon Age: Asunder, Chapter 1.
  61. Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Set 1, Game Master's Guide, p. 34
  62. Dragon Age II: The Complete Official Guide, p.233
  63. Codex entry: Rock Wraith
  64. According to Cole if present during The Tomb of Fairel.
  65. 65.0 65.1 Song about the Calling - Codex entry: Shred of Blue
  66. Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Set 2, Game Master's Guide, p. 2
  67. Dragon Age: Last Flight, Chapter 5.
  68. 68.0 68.1 Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Set 2, Game Master's Guide, p. 32
  69. 69.0 69.1 Codex entry: Archdemon
  70. 70.0 70.1 Dragon Age II: The Complete Official Guide, p.258
  71. Codex entry: Old Elven Writing
  72. Corypheus in What Pride Had Wrought
  73. Corypheus posed as Larius or Janeka at the end of Legacy (quest)
  74. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 42
  75. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 95