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Alienages are squalid city wards in which elven citizens dwell.

Background

Though elven enslavement is an uncomfortable memory in most parts of Thedas, the lot of city elves is far from equal. While there are rarely laws which strictly prohibit elves and humans integrating, an elf who moves into a human area is likely to be subjected to insults, torment and, in many cases, violence. It is for this reason that the alienages exist: a place for elves to mix among their own, where they do not stand out as much.

Alienage culture

Alienage1

The Kirkwall vhenedhal

Alienages are the one area of human cities where elven culture is evident (diminished though it may be). The most striking testament to this is undoubtedly the vhenadahl (or, "Tree of the People"). This huge tree rests in the centre of the alienage, and serves as a symbol of Arlathan - the first elven homeland. These trees are often decorated vibrantly, their bases being painted and candles being lit around it, though the trees' upkeep have recently become more of a habit than a respected tradition.

Though the realities of alienage life may seem harsh, the city elves are a downtrodden but spirited folk, and an alienage often serves to keep prejudiced invaders out, as much as to pen the elves in.

Alienage elves typically share human beliefs, usually worshipping the Maker and Andraste, and shunning the gods that their Dalish cousins hold faith with. Despite this, it is rare that an elf will be taken into the Chantry as an initiate, and full-fledged elven members of the clergy are exceptionally scarce, if any do exist at all.

CityElves2

Preparations for an alienage marriage

Alienage Wedding

Wedding Day Celebrations

Though elves are generally happy in the city, alienages are a hotbed of crime, disease and extreme poverty, with most of its elves barely managing to get by on a day-to-day basis. Some elves may manage to scrape together small savings by opening a store or finding work as labourers, though for the majority, the possibility of going hungry is simply a fact of life. Disease is also widespread in the elven slums, and virulent plagues often spring up in alienages.

Known alienages

Trivia

  • The concept of Alienages is comparable to Jewish Ghettos which date back from the medieval era, the most famous was in Venice.
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