“You were born amidst the Dalish elves: noble wanderers who refuse to join the society of humans that subjugated their homeland so long ago. The Dalish travel the land in tightly knit clans, struggling to maintain their half-forgotten lore in a human world that fears and despises them. You spend your time hunting with your clan-mate Tamlen in the forests, and as is sometimes the case, your quarry is not always the local wildlife…”
Elves with the Dalish Elf Origin roam free in the forest, seeking to recover the lost lore of ancient Elvhenan. Many of them look down on the "flat-ears", the City Elves who live trapped in poverty and high walled Alienages amongst the shemlen—the humans or "quick children".
“'We are the Dalish: keepers of the lost lore, walkers of the lonely path.
We are the last of the Elvhenan, and never again shall we submit.'
This is the oath the Dalish elves hold close to their hearts. In ancient times, the elves ruled over Thedas alone, ageless and beautiful, until the humans came. Enslaved for a thousand years, the elves lost not only their immortality but their very identity. The Dalish are those elves who refuse to live in human cities, proudly wandering the most remote corners of the wild lands in small clans that rarely meet. Their wagons are welcome nowhere, and more than one tale is told of the Dalish clashing with remote villagers who attempt to drive them away by force.
Much has been lost, but the Dalish will find what has been lost and keep it safe. They will relearn the elven tongue, rediscover the ancient crafts and practice the old magics. They will spurn the human god and instead cleave to the ancient pantheon of the elves, praying that one day their own gods will return and lead their people to a new homeland. There, the Dalish will await the return of those elves who have forgotten what they were, and they will teach them to remember.
Until that day comes, they will stand fast. As long as the landships are seen on the horizon there will be hope, hope that what was long ago shattered by the touch of mortal man may one day yet be restored.”
- Main article: The Lost Mysteries of the Ancients
Whilst hunting in the woods of the Brecilian Forest with Tamlen, a friend since childhood, the Dalish Elf comes across three humans who claim to have discovered ancient ruins in a nearby cave. Exploring these ruins, Tamlen touches a strange mirror which unleashes some sort of magic that knocks the Dalish Elf unconscious. The Dalish Elf is rescued by Duncan, a Grey Warden, and awakens two days later in their clan's camp, barely recovered from a peculiar fever. Sent back to the cave to search for Tamlen, they meet Duncan again. He explains that the mirror is somehow transmitting the darkspawn taint and that the only way you can survive is to join the Grey Wardens, who gain immunity to the taint.
Dalish elves receive Codex entry: The Dalish Elves at the beginning of the origin story. See the main article for a detailed walkthrough.
- Ashalle – an old friend of the protagonist's parents; she will appear at the end of the game, if the Warden survives the battle with the Archdemon
- Duncan – Ferelden's Commander of the Grey
- Fenarel (temporary companion) – a young elven warrior
- Ilen – an elven craftsman and merchant
- Junar – an elven archer
- Maren – the clan's Halla keeper
- Marethari – Keeper of the Sabrae clan; she appears at the Warden's funeral if they died fighting the Archdemon
- Merrill (temporary companion) – a mage and Keeper Marethari's First
- Paivel – the clan's storyteller
- Pol – an elf from the Denerim Alienage who escaped from the city after being sentenced to hanging for stealing; he was recently taken in by the clan
- Tamlen (temporary companion) – an elven warrior who is the childhood friend of the protagonist; if the protagonist is a female and asks Tamlen to talk, while exploring the Elven Ruins, the player can mention that they came along because they wanted to be with him in which Tamlen will admit his love
In addition to those selected by the player at character creation, a Dalish Elf Warden automatically begins with the following:
- The Elven Ruins contain Tevinter type treasures. Two of the containers (the sarcophagus and the locked chest behind the mirror) are of lieutenant rank and thus may contain Expert Paralyze, Dweomer, and Slow runes. The locked chest to the left of the entrance to the ruins is of normal rank and may contain, for instance, a Saw Sword.
- The temporary companions have very good items for such an early stage of the game: Merrill wears , while Fenarel has a equipped.
Travel with Duncan to Ostagar, where King Cailan Theirin is mustering an army against the darkspawn. After being greeted by Cailan on arrival, the next quest will be Joining the Grey Wardens. If it has not previously been earned, the Corrupted Achievement will be unlocked.
- Codex entry: Aravels
- Codex entry: Arlathan: Part One
- Codex entry: Arlathan: Part Two
- Codex entry: The City Elves
- Codex entry: The Dales
- Codex entry: The Dalish Elves
- Codex entry: Darkspawn
- Codex entry: Elgar'nan: God of Vengeance
- Codex entry: Fen'Harel: The Dread Wolf
- Codex entry: Ghilan'nain: Mother of the Halla
- Codex entry: Giant Spider
- Codex entry: The Grey Wardens
- Codex entry: Halla
- Codex entry: History of Ferelden: Chapter 2
- Codex entry: June: God of the Craft
- Codex entry: Wolf
- Codex entry: Genlock
- Codex entry: Duncan
- Codex entry: The Brecilian Forest
- The Strange Statue at the far west of the Elven Ruins bears the legend "A strange statue commemorating the emergence of—and short-lived trading with—dwarves who dug too high and too frugal and struck elves".
- This is the only origin that plays little part in the main plot of Dragon Age: Origins as the Dalish clan that is recruited through the treaty is a wholly different clan. However, should the Warden side with the Dalish in the Nature of the Beast, they can ask a messenger to take a message back to their clan. The Warden also discovers Tamlen's fate later in the story.
- This origin plays a role in the DLC Witch Hunt, as it is revisited.
- The song played while the Warden is leaving the clan is Leliana's Song.
- Duncan erroneously refers to the mirror as being Tevinter in origin. In actuality, the mirror, known as an Eluvian, is an elven artifact from ancient Arlathan. However this is understandable since Tevinter adopted Arlathan magic as their own.
- In Dragon Age II, if a save is imported with the Dalish Elf Origin, Mahariel will be mentioned a few times among the Dalish.
- The clan is identified as the Sabrae clan in Merrill's codex entry from Dragon Age II.
- If no import is used for Dragon Age: Inquisition, the Warden defaults to a female Dalish elf.
- The Dalish Elf Origin was written by BioWare lead writer David Gaider.
- To obtain both Codex entry: Duncan and Codex entry: Darkspawn during this Origin, specific conversation choices are required. For Duncan's codex entry, you have to ask the keeper, "Duncan? Is that..." when you first talk to her after waking up back at camp, then choose "So you're Duncan" when you meet him in the ruins. For the Darkspawn entry, keep asking him questions about Tamlen's possible fate until you get an option that says something like, "Won't there at least be a body?" (It's unclear whether this is a bug or simply a quirk of this particular Origin.)
- If a Dalish Warden never speaks to Loghain Mac Tir at Ostagar, he will refer to them upon meeting them for the first time in Denerim, along with Alistair and Eamon Guerrin, as one of the "wild elves."
- Official Dragon Age: Origins site – Daelish[sic] Elf Origin
- David Gaider (January 8, 2010). "Writers of Dragon Age" . The BioWare Forum.
- Dalishious Blog.