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There is a taint that is within the darkspawn. A darkness that pervades us, compels us, drives us to rail against the light. ― the Architect[1]
Fleshy Sack - Dead Trenches

Fleshy sack in the Dead Trenches

The taint is a physical corruption spread by the darkspawn that ultimately makes the victim hear the call of the Old Gods. It can be transmitted through contact with darkspawn blood and fluids, or through objects imbued with the taint,[2] such as eluvians. The contact does not automatically make one sick, but there is a great chance of it.[3]

Taint also manifests as spidery tendrils of black rot, along with a dry shiny film covering underground passages used by darkspawn.[4] As the corruption progresses, it gathers into black sacs the size of a man lining the floor or hanging from the ceiling.[5]

Origin Edit

Races of Thedas had no knowledge of the taint prior to -395 Ancient when the Golden City blackened and first darkspawn appeared underground. The Chantry teaches that the magisters who entered the city "brought sin to heaven" and were "corrupted by their crime".[6]

Splr da2
“There are men who embrace destiny; these are the ones that change the world forever.” — Flemeth
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age II. Click here to reveal them.
Yet tainted lyrium can be found in the Primeval Thaig that was built before the First Blight.
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 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".[7]

A Nevarran cult known as "The Empty Ones" believed the Blight to have originated from a place called the Void ("a place of nothing"), and that it is by the Maker's will for all of his creation to return to it.[8]

Ancient elven sources mention "plague" that ate Andruil's lands after she entered the Void.[9]

The infected Edit

Wesley dying

Wesley infected with the taint

The taint spread by the darkspawn corrupts the living. Many who have contracted the Blight sickness die within hours.[10] Others wither away slowly[11] from a "wasting illness".[12][13] In its more contagious form the disease is often referred to as "a plague".[14][15][16][17] It is spread by Blight-touched rats[18] far beyond the areas directly affected by the Blight[19] and can be sporadically seen centuries after it.[13] Those infected with the darkspawn plague are often segregated and/or locked up[15][20][21]. An entire species of animals can die out from the plague.[22]

Victims of the taint are killed as a precaution[20] or an act of mercy[23], or abandoned to their fate.[24]

The tainted Edit

Darkspawn Edit

Main article: Darkspawn

The darkspawn horde is connected through the taint, functioning as a hive-mind. While high ranking darkspawn like emissaries or alphas have a limited influence upon small groups, and the Architect and the Mother also command larger groups, only an Archdemon can command the entire horde.

Ghouls Edit

Main article: Ghoul

Some people and animals exposed to the taint are transformed into ghouls, who pay for a prolonged existence with their sanity. The longer an infected creature lives, the more it will manifest aggressive or even rabid behaviour, hair loss and numerous deformities, protrusions, boils and sores. Once the taint progresses enough, the darkspawn recognize ghouls as their own kind, and ghouls can sense darkspawn and hear the call of an Archdemon.[25][26] Even "ghouled" victims will ultimately be killed by the disease, leaving whole areas completely lifeless.

Other Edit

When the taint comes into contact with the local flora it usually poisons and kills the plants and trees making the area infertile for many years. However deep mushrooms often grow close to darkspawn bodies and tend to carry the taint even though they can't transmit it,[27] while the nearly extinct felicidus aria is the only plant growing on the blighted Silent Plains.[28]

The Black City taints those spirits foolish enough to draw too close.[29]

Splr dao
“We now have a dog and Alistair is still the dumbest one in the party.” — Morrigan
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: Origins. Click here to reveal them.
Eluvians can be tainted as shown in the Dalish Elf Origin.
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.
Bianca Davri's research indicated that red lyrium has been infected with the taint. During the Descent the Inquisitor learns that lyrium is the blood of the titans.

Blight magic Edit

Genlock Necromancer Magic Use

A genlock using magic

The taint carries magical power that allows darkspawn emissaries to cast spells.

Splr lf
"Let yourself be a hero for tonight, in the morning we'll just be Grey Wardens again." - Garahel
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: Last Flight. Click here to reveal them.
During the Fourth Blight, Isseya witnessed Archdemon Andoral breath out a vortex "of darkness both spiritual and physical" that is described as unquestionably magic but having no connection to the Fade.[30]
Splr tc
“Antiva is a terrible place. All full of assassins and... Antivans.” — Duncan
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: The Calling. Click here to reveal them.
Prior to the Fifth Blight First Enchanter Remille explains that the darkspawn possess a different type of magic that is driven by the taint, and he conspired with the Architect to learn it.[31]
Splr dao
“We now have a dog and Alistair is still the dumbest one in the party.” — Morrigan
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: Origins. Click here to reveal them.
Avernus has discovered a way to use the taint in Grey Warden blood to cast powerful magic. Even non-mage Wardens can access it, since all Wardens carry the taint.
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.
Vivienne compares blight magic to one of the three wineglasses Corypheus is drinking from along with ordinary and elven magic. Solas adds that the false Calling created by Corypheus is a form of blight magic. He condemns it, saying that the glass is poisoned and no intelligent creature should attempt to use the taint safely as it corrupts everything it touches.[32]

Boundaries Edit

Some areas below the darkspawn-infested Deep Roads are surprisingly free of the taint.

Splr tc
“Antiva is a terrible place. All full of assassins and... Antivans.” — Duncan
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: The Calling. Click here to reveal them.
In 9:10 Dragon Maric and the Grey Wardens descended below the Deep Roads and discovered natural caverns covered in colored moss and smelling of musty greenery, with an underground lake in one of them. Signs of corruption disappeared in the caves but abruptly returned as soon as the group found another way up to the dwarven passages.[33]
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.
In 9:42 during the Descent Valta noted that darkspawn seem to avoid derelict lyrium mines below Heidrun Thaig for no apparent reason. The verdant cavern further down turned out to be a space within a titan.

Managing the taint Edit

Acceleration Edit

Splr tc
“Antiva is a terrible place. All full of assassins and... Antivans.” — Duncan
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: The Calling. Click here to reveal them.
The Architect accelerated the taint in Bregan, Genevieve and Utha with his magic upon their consent. First Enchanter Remille gave the Grey Wardens who would search for Bregan black brooches that, unbeknownst to them, also sped up the rate of their corruption. Only Duncan was unaffected as the dagger he had stolen from Remille rendered him immune.

Resistance Edit

Some people may harbor natural resistance to the taint.[10]

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.
Dragons are unusually resistant to the taint and can stem its spread within their own bodies by growing cysts around blighted flesh. They cannot do this indefinitely, though.[34]

Dalish Keepers can combine herbal tinctures and a magic ritual to slow down the taint in recently infected victims, but only for a time.[35]

Splr dao
“We now have a dog and Alistair is still the dumbest one in the party.” — Morrigan
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: Origins. Click here to reveal them.

The Joining ritual dramatically slows the taint in Grey Wardens, but eventually the major effects of corruption set in. When a Grey Warden begins to hear the call of the Old Gods, they set off into the Deep Roads to fight to the death before they turn into ghouls themselves.

It usually takes 20 years, 30 if the person is lucky and considerably less if they are not.[36] It is widely rumored among the Grey Wardens that the corruption in their blood advances more quickly during a Blight.[37]
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.
By giving darkspawn the Grey Wardens' resistance to the taint, the Architect is able to grant them sapience.

Cure Edit

In rare cases an infected subject (e.g. The Mabari Hound) may make a full recovery if given early care.

Splr lf
"Let yourself be a hero for tonight, in the morning we'll just be Grey Wardens again." - Garahel
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: Last Flight. Click here to reveal them.
A Grey Warden blood mage, Isseya was able to purify a clutch of griffon eggs by drawing their taint into herself. Embryonic creatures, they had little to anchor the taint unlike mature organisms.
Splr tc
“Antiva is a terrible place. All full of assassins and... Antivans.” — Duncan
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age: The Calling. Click here to reveal them.
Fiona is the only known Grey Warden who was cured of the taint.
Splr da2
“There are men who embrace destiny; these are the ones that change the world forever.” — Flemeth
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age II. Click here to reveal them.
Merrill was able to purify a tainted eluvian with blood magic.
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.
The Warden is engaged in a search of a cure for the Calling.[38]

Trivia Edit

Splr da2
“There are men who embrace destiny; these are the ones that change the world forever.” — Flemeth
This article contains spoilers for Dragon Age II. Click here to reveal them.
  • David Gaider stated that Anders being merged with Justice may have one of the two effects: "One is that the spirit within Anders can affect the level of his corruption, so it may delay or remove the necessity for his Calling altogether. Either that or at some point the corruption within Anders is going to corrupt the spirit." He refused to tell which one the writers prefer.[39]

References Edit

  1. Dragon Age: The Calling, Chapter 2
  2. Dragon Age RPG, Set 3 - Game Master's Guide, p. 8
  3. David Gaider, Bioware Forums, "Your companions and the Taint"
  4. Dragon Age: The Calling, Chapter 5
  5. Dragon Age: The Calling, Chapter 15
  6. Canticle of Threnodies
  7. Corypheus's Memories
  8. Codex entry: The Empty Ones
  9. Codex entry: Elven God Andruil
  10. 10.0 10.1 Note: Studies on the Blight.
  11. See Rowan and Felix Alexius
  12. Dragon Age: The Calling, Chapter 2.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 260
  14. Dragon Age: The Calling, Chapters 1,4,6 and 11.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Unrest in the Alienage
  16. Dragon Age II: The Complete Official Guide, p.252
  17. Note: Memories Etched in Stone and Blood
  18. Codex entry: Rat
  19. Codex entry: Darkspawn
  20. 20.0 20.1 Codex entry: Letter Of Confession
  21. Codex entry: Waterlogged Diary
  22. Dragon Age: Last Flight
  23. See Wesley Vallen
  24. Codex entry: Notes on the Stars
  25. According to Tamlen
  26. Codex entry: To Be Corrupted
  27. Codex entry: In Praise of the Humble Nug and Codex entry: Deep Mushroom
  28. Codex entry: Ambrosia and Codex entry: Vandal Aria
  29. Dragon Age: Origins Collector's Edition: Prima Official Game Guide
  30. Dragon Age: Last Flight, Chapters 5 and 7
  31. Dragon Age: The Calling, Chapter 18.
  32. According to dialogues between Vivienne and Solas after Here Lies the Abyss
  33. Dragon Age: The Calling, Chapters 9 and 10.
  34. Learn More about Dragons
  35. Dragon Age RPG, Set 3 - Game Master's Guide, p. 11
  36. Dragon Age: Last Flight, Chapter 6
  37. Dragon Age: Last Flight, Chapter 19
  38. Codex entry: A Letter from the Hero of Ferelden
  39. Thedas UK (January 14, 2012). "David Gaider Interview". Retrieved January 29, 2012.

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