The Anderfels is a kingdom in northwestern Thedas. It is located north of Nevarra and Orlais and west of the Tevinter Imperium. The Anderfels is best known for being the birthplace of the Grey Wardens and the site of their headquarters, Weisshaupt Fortress.
An old name for the land of Anderfels is the Orthlands. The Anderfels was originally the western part of the Tevinter Imperium, from which it separated after a rebellion in -695 Ancient (500 TE). It was reconquered by Tevinter in -535 Ancient (660 TE). After almost 100 years of bitter war with the darkspawn during the First Blight, the order of the Grey Wardens was founded and in -305 Ancient (890 TE) Weisshaupt was built. The Blight was then slowly pushed back during the next century or so.
After the First Blight, Tevinter held on to the Anderfels for about 200 years, but abandoned it in an effort to protect central Tevinter when the Second Blight began in 1:5 Divine (1199 TE). The Anderfels was nearly destroyed by the Blight, but saved by Emperor Kordillus Drakon, starting with the lifting of the siege of Weisshaupt in 1:33 Divine, and joined to the Orlesian Empire as well as converted to Andrastianism. After the death of Drakon, his successor Kordillus II could not hold the empire together and the Anderfels broke free again in 1:65 Divine. The Second Blight was ended in 1:95 Divine.
The Third Blight from 3:10 Towers to 3:25 Towers mostly maimed areas to the south and east of the Anderfels, starting in Tevinter and Orlais and ending in the Free Marches at the Battle of Hunter Fell. The Anderfels got off relatively easily. This didn't last, however.
In 5:12 Exalted, the Fourth Blight began and spread to the Anderfels; the darkspawn laid siege to Hossberg for seven years. During the fighting King Henault was killed by an ogre, causing his wife queen Mariwen to take up regency for her son, King Grivaud, who was an infant at the time. However, since most of the nobles did not support her, most power laid with the Grey Wardens, specifically Warden-Commander Uvasha. Under the leadership of their Field-Commander Garahel, the Wardens managed to break the siege, after cutting off the darkspawn's supply lines from the deep roads. After the siege was broken, Queen Mariwen pledged to continue to support the war effort, in exchange for Garahel publicly supporting her reign (and subsequently sleeping with her). The Blight was again decided elsewhere, this time in eastern Antiva in 5:24 Exalted.
The arid landscape of the Anderfels experiences dangerously hot summers. During cooler months dust storms blow inland and make farming all but impossible.
Geographically, the Anderfels consists mostly of steppes, largely deserted after weathering the most severe Blights. The capital is Hossberg, located northwest from Weisshaupt. The area is bordered by the Wandering Hills and the Donarks to the north; the Colean Sea to the east, and the Tevinter Imperium to the southeast. Also on its southern borders lies beneath the Hunterhorn Mountains the great thaig of Kal-Sharok, once capital of the dwarven empire. On the west lies harsh and uninhabited territory ending on the Volca Sea with the sole port town of Laysh lying on its shores. The entire purpose of Laysh was to receive ships from Volca Sea, odd-looking cargo vessels that would arrive laden with wares and spices which cannot be found in Thedas. This trade stopped by the early Black Age which caused Laysh's decline. Several Tevinter merchant houses banded together to mount an expedition and reestablish trade but all of them and the few vessels that followed did not return which faded all interest for the people across the Volca Sea.
According to Ander legend these traders are called Voshai and they were hostile towards the people of Laysh, completely uninterested in learning the King's tongue for anything more than barter and were obsessed with purchasing lyrium. According to those legends the captains of each ship were dwarves and they were treated with such deference that it implied they held profound power in their society. No elves were working on the Voshai ships. Based on questionable reports in recent years many Voshai ships have returned to Laysh carrying tales of a "massive cataclysm" in their homeland.
- Hossberg – capital of the Anderfels
- Tallo's Eye
- The Blasted Hills – on the border of Orlais
- Broken Tooth – a jagged butte; Weisshaupt Fortress is built on its edge
- Feral Fjords
- Hunterhorn Mountains
- Sternann Peak
- The Wandering Hills – home of the Orth people
- The Weathered Pass
- Our Lady of the Anderfels – a giant white sculpture of Andraste, holding an eternal flame, carved into the Merdaine near Weisshaupt.
"A land filled with wonders like the Merdaine, with its gigantic white statue of Our Lady carved into its face, her hands outstretched and bearing an eternal flame." Genitivi's words, brief as they were, inspired me. The stone prophet sounded magnificent. I had to see her for myself.
I trekked up the Imperial Highway, concealing my identity and taking care not to seem like a foreigner. At Vol Dorma, a neglected road led west. Soon the dry land gave way to absolute desolation. Red earth. Bones. Blowing sand stripped my face raw. When it cleared, I could see for miles - not that there was anything to see. The few settlements I encountered were populated with derelicts and Chantry zealots. They warned me of worse trials, should I continue to the Merdaine.
Eventually I turned back, opting for a smaller statue in a place the Maker hadn't abandoned.
- Red Bride's Grave (formerly known as Red Bride's Shrine) – a system of caverns that was once home to a religious order. During the Blessed Age the monks came under attack from darkspawn. One of the monks then probably summoned a demon to defend them, causing the whole order to die and being raised again as undead. It is said, that it inspired the construction of the Lady of the Anderfels.
Culture and society
The people of Anderfels are known as Anders. An old name for Anderfels is the Orthlands, and due to this an old name for its people is Orth.
However in recent times, Orth has come to refer to people living in the Wandering Hills region of Anderfels, who practice scarification of their faces as a part of their culture.
Anderfels houses the headquarters of the Grey Wardens, Weisshaupt Fortress. The king resides in Hossberg and generally ignores the citizens of the Anderfels as he is mainly interested in maintaining the order and comfort of the capital city to the exclusion of anything else. This distant monarch is protected by royal tribunals who also function to enforce the laws he creates; being a highly religious nation, these tribunals administer justice for the sake of "absolution". According to Riordan, the king of the Anderfels is weak and the people refer to the Grey Wardens for leadership. He also states that there are over a thousand Wardens present in the Anderfels. The Anderfels is the last place where the Grey Wardens have retained their importance over the centuries. They hold political power equal to an Orlesian baron or Fereldan teyrn, a power they have recently taken greater advantage of.
Stationed at Weisshaupt, the First Warden is intended to be the commander of all Grey Wardens throughout Thedas, though in practice the entanglements of Anders politicking leave this individual functioning mainly as a figurehead. This results in considerable responsibility being laid at the feet of the regional Warden-Commanders. One of the tasks of the First Warden is to act as adviser to the preoccupied king in matters of state. Intriguingly, the First Warden has recently begun to criticize the nation's monarchy, suggesting that the leader of the Wardens is considering a grab for the throne.
Outside of the cities, most Anders live in small but self-sufficient outposts and villages. The importance of the Wardens to the Anderfels is shown here as they are the only real source of authority in such remote areas and maintain some presence even in the distant and thinly peopled hinterlands.
Anders are the only non-dwarven people to fight the darkspawn on a regular basis as they remain a constant menace and can appear almost anywhere at anytime. As a result, the population lives in constant fear and vigilance. No child of the Anderfels grew up without being terrorized by bedtime tales of darkspawn. The Anders became hardened warriors who fight grimly against an enemy that they cannot defeat: the rest of Thedas is remote enough that their plight is easily ignored. They are a poor people who live in a devastated land of vast, stark steppes, though their proud culture remains. Unlike Orlais and Tevinter Imperium, a person's accomplishments count for more in the Anderfels than their name.
The "Green Men" order leads caravans through the Wandering Hills to the distant port of Laysh and comprise the best marksmen in Thedas.
The Anders are likely the most pious followers of the Chantry in Thedas, praying for a day when they are released from the clutches of the Blight. The Chantry's presence is felt strongly in the country and worship of the Maker is expected of a citizen. Even the king's laws are seen as having religious underpinnings and their violation can be punishable with death in Hossberg. Notably, the king is known to employ assassins for the sole purpose of assassinating disgraced men and women — called absolution — as penance for those who break the Maker's laws and fall into sin and decadence. Because of this, the Anderfels are known to have produced some notable killers.
The Anderfels is also famed for its art. The sculptures of Ander artisans, which usually have religious content, are the most prized and sought-after in all of Thedas, especially within circles of the Orlesian nobility who would pay exorbitant prices in order to have them. However, members of the Dwarven Merchants' Guild who act as the middle party in these transactions keep most of the profits as "handling fees" while the artisans receive very little, if any. In recent times, the traditional Ander portraiture style has experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to the work of Griselda Reiniger. Her piece, The Chant of Light, which portrays Andraste playing the lap harp the night before being burned at the stake, won the annual art contest held by the University of Orlais and is considered both a stroke of inspirational genius and a masterwork portrait from one of the most traditional painting schools. Reiniger is currently one of the most sought-after artists, especially since her extreme piety has granted her the support of the Chantry.
- Prince Baldewin Augustin – son and sole heir of King Wilhelm Augustin
- Duchess Catrin of Hossberg – wife of Emperor Judicael Valmont I
- Griselda Reiniger
- King Grivaud – King Henault's son and successor; born 5:16 Exalted
- Countess Helmine of Sundarin
- King Henault – King during the Fourth Blight; killed by an ogre in 5:17 Exalted
- King Johann the Great
- Baroness Liese of Kassel
- Queen-Regent Mariwen – King Henault's wife; assumed the regency on behalf of her young son
- Talisa of Sundarin
- Commander Uvasha – Lady-Commander of the Anderfels Royal Army during the Fourth Blight
- King Wilhelm Augustin – King in 9:41 Dragon
- Codex entry: The Anderfels
- Codex entry: The First Warden
- Codex entry: Absolution
- Codex entry: Boots of the Frozen Wastes
- The name Anderfels is of German origin, roughly meaning other rock (anders = other/different; Fels = rock). Similarly, other Ander names such as Weisshaupt and Kassel are actual German surnames and city names, respectively.