Corypheus was once a human Magister by the name of Sethius Amladaris. He was the High Priest of Dumat and was also one of the Magisters Sidereal, the group of seven high priests of the Old Gods within the Magisterium. House Amladaris was considered mediocre, Sethius middling, but he believed himself deserving of more. According to one of his slaves, whose words were somehow preserved in the Fade, Sethius was never a cruel man, but the weakening of the temples and the loss of his followers had brought fear into his heart. With the other Magisters Sidereal, he discussed ways to return the people of Tevinter to the ways of the Old Gods.
As a result, when Dumat started whispering to Sethius in his dreams, promising to raise him to godhood if he entered the Fade to claim the Golden City, Sethius heeded the call. Unable to accomplish this extraordinary feat on his own, he called on the other six high priests of the Old Gods for help. However, as only one of them would be raised to godhood, they schemed against each other for power, hid their identities and assumed aliases to protect themselves. Sethius took on the name of Corypheus, the Conductor of the Choir of Silence, as he led the Magisters Sidereal, co-ordinating their efforts to achieve a magical feat never accomplished before in human history.
The Magisters succeeded in physically entering the Fade in -395 Ancient; the spell reportedly required two-thirds of the lyrium in the Tevinter Imperium and the lifeblood of several hundred slaves, presumably elven ones as Corypheus believed that the elves of old were tied to the Fade.According to Chantry lore, when the Magisters Sideral entered the Golden City, their pride and desire corrupted it, turning it black. The Maker, on his throne inside the Golden City, cast them down and turned away from his children. However, according to Corypheus, the Golden city was already black when they reached it, and the throne was empty.
After his fall in -395 Ancient, Corypheus lay in a dormant state until he awoke in the aftermath of the First Blight in -191 Ancient. The Grey Wardens discovered several darkspawn capable of thought and speech and prodigiously powerful magic and also able to command and lead portions of the darkspawn horde even in the absence of an Archdemon. The Grey Warden, Sashamiri, acting on the orders of Warden-Commander Farele, set a trap in the Vimmark Mountains to capture the most powerful of these creatures: Corypheus. In -189 Ancient, Sashamiri imprisoned Corypheus in a tower stemming from the Deep Roads in the middle of the Vimmark Mountains. To capture him, she used the blood of Dumat, whose remains had been preserved in Weisshaupt Fortress. To ensure that no one would know the secret of the spell she'd used to seal Corypheus away, she destroyed Dumat's remains.
The Wardens initially hoped they could use Corypheus as a weapon against the darkspawn, but interrogation proved futile, as any Warden in his vicinity became mysteriously drawn to his influence. When removed from the area, they would have forgotten anything prior, and would be left dazed. This appears to be a type of call to anyone bearing the taint, similar to that emitted by the Old Gods, which draws darkspawn and Warden alike to his prison. When it became clear that no Warden could stand in his presence without being influenced by him (rendering controlling or killing him impossible), Warden-Commander Daneken had the prison sealed to bind Corypheus in perpetuity.
During the early years of the Dragon Age, the seals keeping Corypheus locked began to weaken. Since no Warden could safely approach the prison, Warden-Commander Larius approached a Fereldan apostate named Malcolm Hawke and forced him to use blood magic to strengthen the seals inside the prison.This ritual had been carried out at least once before, by The Shame of Serault, then Marquis of Serault in Orlais.
Dragon Age II
Corypheus is involved in the Legacy quest.
After Warden-Commander Larius leaves on his Calling, one of his senior Wardens, Janeka, comes to believe that Corypheus is the key to ending the Blights and devises a plan to free him from his prison. She forces a faction of the Carta to drink darkspawn blood, afflicting them with the taint and thus binding them to Corypheus. She then uses them to successfully lure Hawke to the prison, as only Malcolm Hawke's blood could break the seals he'd set up.
Trapped inside the prison, Hawke is forced to break the seals to escape. As they progress further into the prison, they find former Warden-Commander Larius, who warns them of the danger posed by Corypheus, and attempts to convince them to kill him. Hawke later encounters Janeka and her group of Wardens as well, and needs to choose whether to help her or Larius: Larius wants Corypheus killed, Janeka believes she can successfully bind Corypheus to her will.
Eventually, the final seal is broken and Corypheus is freed. He is confused, and demands that all present show him the respect due a person of his status, as any citizen of the Imperium owes fealty to a Magister of Tevinter. His confused ramblings reveal that he was in fact one of the magisters who entered the so-called Golden City and returned as one of the first darkspawn.
Regardless of Hawke's intentions, Corypheus decides that they intend to bar his escape and attacks them. After a drawn-out battle, Corypheus is defeated. However, just as Hawke delivers the final blow, Corypheus looks at Larius or Janeka (depending on who Hawke chose to help) and faintly smiles. As Corypheus is struck down, the Warden can be seen shuddering before stumbling.
The Grey Warden survivor then ominously thanks Hawke for their freedom from Corypheus's control and then leaves to inform the Grey Wardens of what has transpired.When Varric recounts the encounter with Corypheus to Cassandra Pentaghast, she mentions that the Wardens she met at the ruins of the prison told her nothing of Larius/Janeka, suggesting the surviving Warden never returned to the Order.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Unbeknownst to Hawke or the Grey Wardens, Corypheus possesses the same ability as an Archdemon to transfer his essence through the taint and leaves the Grey Warden prison in the body of Janeka or Larius. Free of the prison, Corypheus's mind eventually recovers and he is able to think clearly once more. Due to his experience in the Black City, Corypheus comes to believe that both the Old Gods and the more recent Maker are lies, and resolves to end the search for religion completely. He decides to achieve this by attaining apotheosis through returning to the Black City and restoring the Tevinter Imperium to its former glory, finally creating a true deity capable of intervening in mortal affairs.
While posing as an ordinary Grey Warden Mage, Corpyheus is contacted by Bianca Davri who asks him to help investigate the red lyrium Varric found in the Primeval Thaig, although she was not aware that the Warden she spoke to was in fact Corypheus. Discovering that red lyrium is lyrium which somehow carries the darkspawn taint, Corypheus seizes it as a new weapon in his arsenal, even grafting it to his own form and further enhancing his already formidable power.
Corypheus settled on a design to reach the Fade physically once more and restore Tevinter by surreptitiously seizing control of or disabling the most powerful factions in southern Thedas. Corypheus is even able to sway some of the most powerful Demons in the Fade to his cause, and most notably achieves an alliance with Nightmare, an exceptionally powerful Fear demon that had fed well on the banquet of fear Corypheus's actions had created in causing the Blights. The Nightmare creates a false version of the Calling to deceive the Grey Wardens of Orlais, led by Warden-Commander Clarel de Chanson, into thinking they were dying. Believing this meant the death of the Wardens entirely and that Thedas would then inevitably fall during the Sixth Blight, the Wardens became desperate. The Wardens were then tricked by Magister Livius Erimond (one of Corypheus's underlings, unbeknownst to the Wardens) into performing a blood magic ritual that allowed them to bind demons to their control, creating the perfect army to invade the Deep Roads and kill the remaining Old Gods before they could become Archdemons preventing any further Blights. The ritual however had the side effect of leaving the Warden mages and the demons completely enslaved to Corypheus's will, giving Corpyheus an army of demons and powerful mages to use.
Corypheus also forms the Venatori, a Tevinter nationalist supremacist cult, who believe that Corypheus will allow them to rule Thedas as god-kings in his stead once he returns to the Black City. Corypheus sent a Venatori Magister, Gereon Alexius, to Redcliffe to persuade the rebel mages to become his indentured servants in exchange for eventual Tevinter citizenship, thus allowing them to escape the Templar Order and settle in the north. In truth, the southern mages would only be used to bolster the numbers of the Venatori and serve as fodder in any future engagements.
Corypheus also set out to subvert the Templar Order and bring them under his control. With the Templars now separate from the Chantry who control the Lyrium trade with Orzammar, the Templars began looking for a new supply. Using Samson as an infiltrator, Corypheus gradually introduced red lyrium to the Templars, convincing them it was superior to ordinary lyrium. Since red lyrium carries the darkspawn taint through which Corypheus could project his will, it would grant Corypheus complete control of any Templar using it. Corypheus arranged for an Envy demon to replace Lord Seeker Lucius Corin and begin corrupting the senior Templars with red lyrium, aiming to eventually twist the bulk of the order into the monstrous Red Templars. Corypheus also uses red lyrium to transform a High dragon into a imitation of an archdemon, creating his Red lyrium dragon that would serve as both a symbol of his power as well as a formidable weapon on the battlefield.
Corypheus was eventually presented with an opportunity to seize an elven artifact of unprecedented power called the Orb of Destruction. Agents of Fen'Harel allowed the Venatori to locate it and they presented the orb to Corypheus to unlock the Orb's true power. Fen'Harel was too weak after awakening from his long slumber to do it himself, and knowing the Elder One planned on making use of the ancient artifact to realize his dream of godhood, manipulated him into unlocking the orb for him with the belief that Corypheus would die in the resulting explosion. After Corypheus obtained the Orb, he compelled his followers to refer to him by his new divine moniker: "The Elder One".
With his plans in motion to bring three armies under his control, Corypheus infiltrates the Chantry's peace conclave between the templar order and ambassadors of the mage rebellion at the Temple of Sacred Ashes. With the help of several controlled Grey Warden mages, Corypheus uses blood magic to sacrifice Divine Justinia V to power the orb and grant himself the anchor allowing him to enter the Fade at will. However the ritual is unwittingly interrupted by the future Inquisitor. As the Inquisitor picks up the Orb of Destruction, the anchor affixes to them instead and the disrupted ritual results in the Breach. Corypheus seemingly managed to survive the creation of the Breach and slipped away without his presence being noted by the factions present.
Inquisitor recruits the Mages: After the newly reformed Inquisition negotiates an agreement with the rebel mages for their assistance in closing the breach, the Herald of Andraste manages to close the breach using the anchor. Samson and the Red templars launch an attack on their base at the village of Haven.
Inquisitor recruits the Templars: After the newly reformed Inquisition negotiates an agreement with the rebel Templars for their assistance in closing the breach, the Herald of Andraste manages to close the breach using the anchor. Calpernia and the Venatori launch an attack on their base at the village of Haven.
Corypheus personally takes the field alongside his forces, even unleashing his ultimate weapon:a high dragon corrupted by red lyrium. Eventually Corypheus manages to corner the Herald and attempts to reclaim the anchor, only to discover that the anchor is permanent and cannot be removed. Though upset at this setback, Corypheus vows to start over and decides to kill the Herald to eliminate a potential rival; however the Herald fires the last remaining trebuchet resulting in an avalanche which buries the village and forces Corypheus to flee.
Corypheus then attempts to destabilize the Orlesian Empire to quash any further resistance in southern Thedas. Taking advantage of the War of the Lions over the throne, Corypheus sways Grand Duchess Florianne de Chalons to his cause, offering her rulership of Thedas in return for murdering Empress Celene and framing Florianne's brother, Grand Duke Gaspard de Chalons for the crime, elminating both candidates for the throne and leaving Orlais leaderless.
As the Inquisition foils the Venatori's attempts to raise a demon army and destabilize Orlais, Corypheus redirects most of his efforts searching for elven artifacts to achieve his end, aiming to gain through magic what he had failed to acquire through force and duplicity. Finally locating the Well of Sorrows at the Temple of Mythal in the Arbor Wilds, Corypheus deploys all his remaining forces to breach the temple and claim the ancient knowledge within.
Inquisitor recruits the Templars: Corypheus also uses the Shrine of Dumat as his personal base where he imprisons Magister Erasthenes to test the binding spell he intends to use to hold the vessel for the Well of Sorrows. The binding compels the prisoner to answer any question put to them honestly and allowing Corypheus to access the well's knowledge whenever he wished without risking his safety by exposing himself to the well's side effects.
The Inquisition meanwhile rallies all of its allies to attack Corypheus's troops in the Arbor Wilds, resulting in a pitched battle between the two armies along the route to the Temple. Corypheus and his vanguard reach the Temple first where they confront the elven sentinels who still guard the temple. Corypheus deliberately walks into the Temple's magical wards, disabling them but destroying his physical form in the process. The Inquisitor's party arrives just in time to witness Corypheus's essence pass into the body of a nearby Grey Warden Mage under his thrall, instantly transforming the mage into Corypheus. Samson/Calpernia enter the Temple just ahead of the Inquisitor. Upon spotting the Inquisitor, Morrigan, and their companions, Corypheus summons his red lyrium dragon, but his foes are able to close the temple doors and magically seal them before the dragon can reach them. By the time Corypheus manages to force his way into the temple, his foes have already used the Well of Sorrows, which is also the key to the resident eluvian. The Inquisitor and their party flee through the eluvian while Corypheus glides to attack them, but an unknown glowing female figure arises from the well, blocking his pursuit before fleeing through the eluvian herself. By the time he gets through, his foes flee through the eluvian, which shatters when Corypheus makes contact.
The Inquisitor and their allies discover from the knowledge contained in the well that because Corypheus has invested part of his being in his Red lyrium dragon, if the Dragon is slain, then his ability to transfer his consciousness to another body will be temporarily disrupted.
With his army devastated and his designs foiled, Corypheus returns to the Temple of Sacred Ashes and in one last attempt to crush his enemies, reopens the Breach. Corypheus confronts the Inquisition soldiers stationed at the Temple ruins and proclaims that the Maker is a falsehood and he would be the new god. When the soldiers rebuff him, Corypheus unleashes a wave of Terror demons which massacre most of the squadron. The Inquisitor and their inner circle arrive with a platoon of Inquisition soldiers to confront Corypheus. Corypheus causes huge chunks of the ruins and surrounding mountainside to rise out of the ground into the breach, reshaping them into a miniature version of the Black City. The Inquisitor and three of their companions are left trapped and cut off from their allies. Corypheus moves to kill them with his Red Lyrium Dragon; however, as the Dragon attempts to attack, another dragon (either the Guardian of Mythal, if the Inquisitor drank from the Well, or a shapeshifted Morrigan, if she drank) tackles it out of the way. Enraged, Corypheus clashes with the Inquisitor in one final battle, unleashing his new red lyrium enhanced magic and summoning a pack of Shades to assist him.In the midst of the clash, Corypheus's dragon manages to disable the Inquisitor's, just as Corypheus is wounded. Corypheus momentarily withdraws and unleashes the Dragon on the Inquisitor personally, only for the Red Lyrium Dragon to be slain soon after, disrupting Corypheus's ability to leap into other bodies. Rendered vulnerable, Corypheus resolves to see the world destroyed if he cannot rule it. But as the Inquisitor grows close to winning, Corypheus refuses to accept failure after all he has endured and tries calling out to the Old Gods, Dumat in particular, for aid, only for the Inquisitor to rip the orb from his grasp with the Anchor, shattering his jaw. The Inquisitor then uses the Anchor to seal the Breach and hurl Corypheus into the Fade.
- "Be this some dream I wake from? Am I in dwarven lands? Why seem their roads so empty?"
- "The light. We sought the golden light. You offered... the power of the gods themselves. But it was... black... corrupt. Darkness... ever since. How long?"
- "The City. It was supposed to be golden. It was supposed to be ours."
- "If I cannot leave with you, I will leave through you! I seek the light!"
- "You are nothing! All you love will be ground under the Imperium's heel!"
- Defeating Corypheus earns the player the achievement "Conductor". Classical Greek κορυφαῖος (koryphaîos) means "conductor of the chorus," or "the leader of a party or interest".
- Corypheus is described as relentless, ambitious and beyond arrogant. He is arrogance personified, and believes he operates on a level no other being can comprehend.
- According to writer Patrick Weekes, he sees Leliana as the character having the most in common with Corypheus. Both are "burned believers." In fact, Weekes refers to Corypheus as Leliana's "dark mirror."
- Sethius had a wife; it is not known whether he had any children.