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The Battle of Ostagar, which occurred in 9:30 Dragon, was a major engagement during the Fifth Blight between the kingdom of Ferelden and the darkspawn horde, and arguably the catalyst for the Fereldan Civil War.


When the darkspawn appeared en masse in the northern Korcari Wilds, King Cailan formed his army and marched south to Ostagar along with his friend and advisor, Teyrn Loghain Mac Tir, hoping to end the advance of the horde before they could penetrate Ferelden's heartland. Ostagar was chosen for its excellent strategic position; the old fortress had been built by the Tevinter Imperium in ages past to shield against a Chasind invasion, and while old, the fortifications would serve the king's army well. Such was the haste of Cailan's march that many of his vassals were still gathering their troops by the time he arrived, including the Amaranthine forces led by Arl Rendon Howe and Redcliffe forces commanded by his uncle, Arl Eamon Guerrin.

That being said, Cailan's force was still sizable. It included several mages from the Fereldan Circle of Magi and, although few, the entirety of Ferelden's Grey Wardens. The latter had sensed the presence of an Archdemon leading the horde, and had gathered all their strength in hopes of bringing the creature down and ending the Blight in its infancy, even sending word to their comrades in Orlais to rally their forces. It would take days before the Orlesian Grey Wardens could arrive in Ferelden however, forcing the Fereldan Grey Wardens to make do with their meager numbers and Teyrn Loghain's leadership until reinforcements can join them. Before following the army, the Warden-Commander of Ferelden, Duncan, set off in search of new recruits to bolster the Wardens' numbers, and found three candidates: Ser Jory, Daveth and the Warden.

Prelude to battle

Pre-battle skirmishes

By the time Duncan arrived at Ostagar with the Warden in tow, the army of Ferelden had already won three major battles, and there had been several small skirmishes in the Wilds, with the Fereldans losing several patrols as well as some of the high ranking officers, such as Fergus Cousland and Urien Kendells.

Disturbingly, the darkspawn horde only seemed to be getting bigger. Even so, Cailan remained confident of victory, and without the visible presence of an Archdemon unifying the horde, many had begun to believe that what they were facing was just a large darkspawn incursion, rather than a true Blight, though the Grey Wardens knew better.

Discord between commanders

Past victories over the darkspawn has made Cailan over-confident to the point where Cailan begins to doubt if Ferelden is even facing a real Blight. Loghain seems to believe that Cailan relies too heavily on the Grey Wardens and think them untrustworthy. Some think King Cailan has a delusional fixation with the Grey Wardens and their legendary reputation; even Warden-Commander Duncan admits that Cailan believes fighting with the few Fereldan Grey Wardens makes Cailan feel invulnerable. Loghain also deplores Cailan's idea of joining forces with Orlesian reinforcements, which are en route; Loghain calls the idea a "fool notion" and also a threat to Ferelden's independence. Since Loghain won't permit them to wait for Orlesian reinforcements, Cailan insists that they defend Ostagar with the forces they have at hand.

Gossip from one of King Cailan's guards claims that Cailan has been spending most of his time riding off with the Fereldan Grey Wardens. Teyrn Loghain tries to get Cailan to focus on planning the coming battles but those discussions end up in arguments and the king just waves Loghain off. The guard claims that King Cailan wants to end the Blight with a single huge battle that will be remembered for centuries while Loghain felt Cailan was being too reckless. Loghain and Cailan have also had arguments about Queen Anora but the reason for it is never explained.

War council

Teyrn Loghain cautioned King Cailan of the dangers of this campaign, but King Cailan countered that if that was so then perhaps they should await the arrival of reinforcements from Orlais, to which Loghain vehemently objected. As a compromise, they decided to prepare for battle with what forces they currently had on hand.

Along with his advisors, Teyrn Loghain devised a plan to destroy the darkspawn horde in one single decisive battle. The plan was to entice the horde into a hammer and anvil formation, charging ahead into a tight engagement where afterwards the rest of the Fereldan army would close the trap by attacking from behind. The Fereldan battle plan was divided into two parts: the lure, and the ambush attack.

The idea was to present a target for the darkspawn enticing enough for them to commit into an all-out attack. Thus by requirement the army serving as the bait had to be relatively small and look to be cornered; which they appear to be as according to Duncan, the darkspawn horde had grew to such a size that by the Battle of Ostagar, the darkspawn horde outnumbered the entire Fereldan army.[2] Anticipating tight quarters combat, the army serving as bait was a sizable force comprised of Fereldan's best troops, led by King Cailan himself, the king's honour guard, and all but two of the Fereldan Grey Wardens, who were also to deal with the Archdemon if the beast made its presence known.

Once the darkspawn were fully engaged in the attack, a signal would be sent from the Tower of Ishal, upon which Teyrn Loghain and his troops would spring the ambush, coming out of hiding behind the horde and attack, trapping the darkspawn between the two forces and destroying them. The lighting of the signal was assigned to the two newest Grey Wardens, Alistair and the Warden.

It was hoped that the narrowness of the valley that led to Ostagar would effectively keep the darkspawn hemmed in and unable to bring their full strength to bear against the defenders, enabling the Fereldans to destroy the horde despite its numbers.

Battle of Ostagar

Cailan and his troops waited by their defenses as the horde came out of the Korcari Wilds and, upon finding a small and cornered Fereldan force, mounted the attack. The darkspawn began their charge in earnest, while the Fereldans waited for them to come closer, further luring them in as planned. Once close enough, Cailan ordered his archers and ballistae to fire a volley to blunt the darkspawn's incoming charge, cutting down many of the creatures. Next, Mabari hounds were unleashed to check the darkspawn attack, inflicting further casualties. And in that momentary confusion amongst the darkspawn ranks as the hounds robbed them of momentum, Cailan ordered his own counter charge, seizing temporary advantage in this close quarters battle. A vicious melee between the defenders of Ostagar and the darkspawn forces then ensued.

Inside Ostagar, the two Grey Wardens assigned to lighting the beacon atop the Tower of Ishal made their way to their objective and discovered that the tower had been captured by darkspawn, having infiltrated it through underground tunnels. Linking up with a group of soldiers and a Circle mage, the Grey Wardens fought their way to the top of the tower and lit the beacon.


Moments before King Cailan's death

However, upon seeing the signal, Loghain instructed Ser Cauthrien to order his troops to quit the field instead of springing the ambush attack as per the battle plan—abandoning Cailan, his army and the Wardens to their deaths. Some witnesses claim that Loghain turned his back on Cailan before the darkspawn overwhelmed him.[3] With Loghain's retreat and the cornered, exhausted Fereldans still fighting without relief against the overwhelming numbers of the darkspawn horde, the battle swiftly turned into a massacre.

Cailan himself fell to an ogre, who grabbed him and crushed him to death. Enraged by the king's demise, Duncan charged the ogre and killed it single-handedly, avenging the fallen king. With all hope lost, Duncan watched as the last remnants of the king's army were slaughtered by the darkspawn, and stayed next to Cailan's body until he too was slain by a hurlock alpha as the full might of the horde made its final assault.

With the death of the king and as Loghain's retreat became clear, what remained of the army attempted to rout, a mere fraction surviving as the darkspawn concerned themselves with either feasting on the dead or finishing off the wounded. The darkspawn then retook the Tower of Ishal, killing the troops inside and severely wounding the two remaining Grey Wardens, who escaped death only due to the timely intervention of Flemeth, the Witch of the Wilds.


As a result of Cailan's death, the country descended into chaos. The loss of the king and so many of his army left Ferelden increasingly undefended, and the darkspawn were able to push northwards into the nation's heartland, unopposed by any force of significant size. Ferelden soldiers were still active in attempting to protect the roads from darkspawn, but could do little against the main horde. As a result, many thousands would die and much of the country would be ravaged by the Blight until an army could be assembled to confront it.

Cailan's death and the advance of the horde also caused a civil breakdown in Ferelden, as banditry and brigandage became commonplace with gangs of highwaymen taking advantage of the chaos to prey upon refugees, trade caravans and undefended townships. This situation was not helped by darkspawn warbands advancing ahead of the horde, spreading terror and disrupting the nation's supply lines and attempts at defense.

Meanwhile, Teyrn Loghain returned to Denerim and denounced the Grey Wardens as traitors after pronouncing himself Regent to Queen Anora. The border with Orlais was sealed, preventing the arrival of the Orlesian Grey Wardens reinforcements, and Loghain appointed the treacherous Arl Rendon Howe as his second-in-command, leading to numerous atrocities as he sought to stabilize his control over Ferelden.

Loghain demanded that all the nobles of Ferelden contribute to the rebuilding of the army lost at Ostagar; as he believed it was imperative they quickly remake the nation's defenses under his leadership. Immediately, Loghain faced opposition from Bann Teagan Guerrin and the independent freeholders of the Bannorn, many of whom were skeptical about his version of events regarding Ostagar, or felt he was opportunistically grabbing a throne he had no claim to so soon after Cailan's death, setting into motion a civil war between the freeholders and Loghain's loyalists. The recovery of Arl Eamon from his strange illness further worsened the situation, as it gave rise to two distinct political factions that fought for control over the throne.

The most lingering loss of Ostagar was that of Ferelden's Grey Wardens, all of whom had been slain along with the king, thus depriving the nation of its most valuable allies against the darkspawn when they needed them most. Only two survived: Alistair and the Warden, both of whom were rescued with the aid of Flemeth and her daughter, Morrigan, and recovered in the Korcari Wilds. Their survival ultimately spelt the downfall of both Loghain and the Blight, as the two were able to rally an army to Ferelden's cause and defeat the former hero in the Landsmeet, thus uniting Ferelden in time to confront the Archdemon at the Battle of Denerim.

It would be seven years after Ostagar before the casualties of the battle could be sorted, causing many survivors who fled to the Free Marches to be considered officially dead. Ferelden offered to reinstate the commissions of any surviving officers in the years following the Blight.

Perhaps the most surprising consequence of the battle would not be felt until some ten years later. Following Ferelden's defeat at Ostagar, the nearby village of Lothering was swiftly overrun by the darkspawn. Amongst the refugees fleeing the community was a young human by the name of Hawke, who would become a central figure in the years that followed, rising to prominence in the Free Marches and eventually becoming the Champion of Kirkwall.


  • According to Bann Ceorlic, at least half of Ferelden's army died with King Cailan at the Battle of Ostagar.[4]


  1. Mentioned by Aveline during The Destruction of Lothering.
  2. According to Duncan's dialogue during Joining the Grey Wardens
  3. Oswyn claims his childhood friend was a soldier at the battle of Ostagar; the childhood friend told Oswyn that his unit was ordered to turn their backs on Cailan and the army fighting at the king's side before the darkspawn overwhelmed them.
  4. Ceorlic's dialogue