Blood magic is a form of magic that uses the power inherent in blood to fuel spellcasting.
Blood magic was the first form of magic in Thedas. According to legend, it was first taught to Archon Thalsian, founder of the Tevinter Imperium, by the Old God Dumat, the Dragon of Silence. In return for this dark gift, Thalsian promised to accept Dumat as his god and make worship of the Old Gods the official religion of the new Imperium. Historians argue on this point, suggesting the Imperium's mages may have actually learned it from the elves of Arlathan, since stories claim that ancient elves once possessed immortality. It may even have been that Thalsian or another mage simply made a deal with a demon, and the first Archon merely claimed to have bargained with Dumat in order to give the Imperium a better front.
Whatever its ultimate origin, blood magic was used by the magisters of the Tevinter Imperium to rule over the whole of Thedas. History recounts how the magisters used their power to shatter even the mighty elvish empire of Arlathan, and force its surviving people into slavery. But, according to the Chantry, its reckless use eventually led to the blackening of the Golden City, the creation of the darkspawn, and the First Blight (and thus the other Blights that followed).
In present-day Thedas
In the contemporary world, blood magic is described as being one of the more "sinister" types of magic. The efforts of the Chantry and the Templar Order over countless years have all but eradicated its practice outside the Tevinter Imperium. In fact, blood magic is so rare in Thedas now that it can typically only be learned by contacting a demon, with the risk of becoming an abomination.
Even if the application of blood magic may not be inherently evil, the Chantry recognizes the dangers of its use and strictly forbids the usage of blood magic as part of its formal doctrine. Mages using blood magic are labeled maleficarum and hunted by the Templar Order, which was created for the purpose of controlling mages, killing demons, and hunting down apostates; generally killing all known maleficarum on sight.
Common wisdom holds that there is no way to use blood magic with good intentions. Inevitably, even blood mages who tap their own blood find a need for the power of others, or find a need to control minds or summon demons. The use of blood magic itself is treacherous; as it allows the Veil to be opened completely so that demons may physically pass through it into the physical world. The Chantry has gone to great lengths to ban the use of blood magic, going so far as to suppress anatomical study and condemning its use even in the face of severe circumstances. The Chantry's fears have also resulted in the relentless hunt for all apostates, regardless of origin, reasoning that any mage left unsupervised by the Chantry or the Templars will ultimately succumb to the temptation of blood magic. While all apostates are not necessarily maleficarum, the Chantry appears to go great lengths to make it seem so, and a significant number of rogue mages turn to Blood Magic if only to survive or escape imprisonment. The Circle of Magi endeavors to supervise all individuals with the gift of magic from a young age to ensure none of them tap into this forbidden school. However, even their constant supervision allows the occasional maleficar to slip through their fingers and out into the world.
Spells and powers
Blood magic, first and foremost, is the practice of using blood—life itself—as a potent fuel for casting spells. This life may be supplied by either the mage or sacrifices, whether willing or unwilling. As such, the use of blood magic often allows a mage to cast spells that would otherwise be beyond the abilities of any mage, or require the use of lyrium. The magisters of the ancient Imperium were known to keep numerous slaves on hand as blood sacrifices for particularly arduous castings, a practice that is perpetuated by some blood mages in the present day.
Originally, this was not technically a school of magic, but simply a means of augmenting spells from any school. In time, however, magisters discovered certain spells that could only be performed using the power of blood, such as Blood Wound/Hemorrhage. And while lyrium may be used to send the individual waking minds of mages into the Fade, blood magic can be used to find the sleeping minds of others. Therein lies the heart of one of blood magic's most potent and dangerous abilities: to influence, and even take control of, the actions of other beings. The Litany of Adralla is the only guaranteed counter to this mind control—and it can only be used as a preventive measure, not to sever control after it is established.
Blood magic can also be used to summon demons into the corporeal world, manifesting physically (e.g. shades) or by possessing a host body (living or dead). Demonic possession of the living produces abominations, while possession of a corpse results in one of the living dead, a creature whose strength and abilities depends on the power and type of host and demon involved (it is unclear whether or not Dwarves and other magic-resistant beings can become possessed). Often, however, the demons will possess, kill, or completely ignore the blood mage who summoned them.
The most powerful magisters who reigned at the height of the ancient Imperium were even able to use blood magic to physically cross the Veil into the Fade—a feat which required the ritual sacrifice of countless slaves and over two-thirds of the lyrium in the entire empire (and which has never been accomplished since). The true cost, however, came when the magisters failed to conquer the Golden City and instead returned to Thedas as the first Darkspawn, unleashing the Blight and the Taint upon all of Thedas.
Ancient lore and present-day events hint that blood magic holds the key to incredible powers yet undreamed of, or long thought lost. Such power generally requires a terrible sacrifice, however: a debt paid in blood at the cost of the lives of others and one's own humanity. As such, while blood magic itself is merely a tool, it is by far the most dangerous means to any end in the realm of Thedas.
Blood magic and the Grey Wardens
Despite blood magic being banned in Ferelden (and the vast majority of Thedas, for that matter), the Grey Wardens occasionally use it as a means to fight the darkspawn. This is confirmed if the Warden speaks with Duncan on the topic during the Mage Origin.
Blood magic in specific Dragon Age games
The main character of each Dragon Age game to date can become a blood mage, depending on the choices of the player. While blood magic is expressly forbidden throughout most of Thedas and reviled by the populace at large, the protagonist will never be confronted for their decision to harness the Forbidden School of magic. This is understandable, given the limitations of game design, but it can lead to some very odd circumstances. The protagonist can perform blood magic in front of First Enchanters, Templar Knight-Commanders, the Viscount of Kirkwall, and the entire Landsmeet without receiving so much as a reprimand.
Dragon Age: Origins and Awakening
Under the vigilant eyes of the Chantry, the Templar Order, and the native Circle of Magi, blood magic has become all but extinct in the land of Ferelden. The Grey Wardens, however, operate outside the jurisdiction of most authorities in Thedas in their fight against the Darkspawn. Blood magic is generally permitted within their ranks as a means to an end, and the leaders of the Chantry and other powerful institutions are generally willing to look the other way as long as its powers are used solely against the Darkspawn. As such, the Warden can become a blood mage during both Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening. In fact, the Warden can even supplement his or her skills with the Power of Blood abilities found within the ancient Grey Warden Avernus's research. These abilities are blood-based talents that vary depending upon the Warden's class and are very close to blood magic.
In Origins, the specialization can only be unlocked by making a deal with the desire demon inhabiting Connor Guerrin during the quest Arl of Redcliffe. Once it has been unlocked in one save file, however, the specialization is available to mage Wardens in all subsequent files, and the player can devise whatever back-story they wish.Once the specialization has been unlocked by the Warden, it can be taught to any of the Warden's companions. Wynne can become a blood mage, and for all her impassioned lectures on its evils and dangers, she will never comment on her obvious hypocrisy. Morrigan can also become a maleficar in addition to an apostate, and regardless of her professed distaste for bargaining with demons, will never remark on her choices under the Warden's directive either.
In Awakening, the specialization can be unlocked by purchasing the training manual from the bartender at the Crown and Lion tavern in Amaranthine, a much less unsavory alternative for morally-inclined characters who don't want to sacrifice a child to a demon (even though it only needs to be done once in a save file that can be immediately scrapped, see above). It is unknown whether unlocking the specialization in Awakening retroactively unlocks it for characters in Origins, but the reverse is true.During Awakening, Anders can become a maleficar, which is quite ironic since the templars were likely to brand him as such sooner or later, despite the fact that he was merely an apostate. As soon as he finds succor within the ranks of the Grey Wardens, he can possibly commit the crimes that he would have been accused of. Interestingly, he is also the only companion in all of Origins and Awakening who will comment—however briefly—on being made a blood mage.
Dragon Age II
Especially in recent years, the city-state of Kirkwall has seen a dramatic increase in its number of blood mages. Ironically, a significant portion of this can be attributed to the templars under Knight-Commander Meredith, who have gradually turned the Circle of Magi located in the Gallows into a veritable prison for mages.
In Dragon Age II, a mage Hawke can choose to become a blood mage through one of the available specializations. Unlike Dragon Age: Origins, it is unclear how Hawke would have come by this knowledge, but it can be assumed that the proliferation of blood mages in Kirkwall makes such teachings relatively easy to come by.One of Hawke's potential mage companions, Merrill, joins the party as an acknowledged blood mage. While it remains up to the player to decide whether or not to actually teach her the blood mage abilities in her unique specialization tree, the game still treats her as a full blood mage with regard to the plot. Interestingly, Anders—another potential companion for Hawke—appears to have no additional dialogue on his experiences using blood magic if you import an Awakening save file in which he was given the Blood Mage specialization.
Notable blood mages
Dragon Age: Origins
Dragon Age: Awakening
Dragon Age II
- Gascard DuPuis
- Lady Harimann
- Malcolm Hawke
Dragon Age: Origins - PRIMA Official Strategy Guide
- ↑ Codex entry: The Old Gods
- ↑ Codex entry: The First Blight: Chapter 1
- ↑ Codex entry: Scrolls of Banastor
- ↑ Codex entry: Maleficarum
- ↑ Prima Official Game Guide (Collector's Edition), p253
- ↑ Codex entry: Blood Magic: The Forbidden School
- ↑ Tome of the Mortal Vessel
- ↑ Codex entry: Apostates
- ↑ Codex entry: Blood Magic: The Forbidden School
- ↑ Codex entry: The Litany of Adralla
- ↑ Demons
- ↑ Codex entry: Corpse
- ↑ Codex entry: Abomination
- ↑ Codex entry: The Cardinal Rules of Magic