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[[File:Creature-Darkspawn Group.jpg|thumb|320px|[[Hurlock]]s, [[genlock]]s and an [[ogre]]]]
 
[[File:Creature-Darkspawn Group.jpg|thumb|320px|[[Hurlock]]s, [[genlock]]s and an [[ogre]]]]
   
The '''darkspawn''', known as '''night-gangers''' among the [[Avvar]]<ref>Dragon Age RPG, Blood in Ferelden p.67</ref>, are a [[race]] of humanoid [[taint]]ed creatures that mostly dwell in the underground of [[Thedas]]. When the darkspawn uncover one of the [[Old God]]s, they expose it to the taint, changing it into an [[Archdemon]], which then leads them in an attack against the surface world called a [[Blight]]. The darkspawn are perhaps the single greatest threat to all of Thedas; they are bloodthirsty, exceptionally numerous and willing to indiscriminately kill or corrupt all in their path.
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The '''darkspawn''' are a [[race]] of humanoid [[taint]]ed creatures that mostly dwell in the underground of [[Thedas]]. They are believed to be [[soul]]less.<ref>[[Codex entry: Archdemon]]</ref><ref>[[Dragon Age II: The Complete Official Guide]], p.258</ref> When the darkspawn uncover one of the [[Old God]]s, they expose it to the taint, changing it into an [[Archdemon]], which then leads them in an attack against the surface world called a [[Blight]]. The darkspawn are perhaps the single greatest threat to all of Thedas; they are bloodthirsty, exceptionally numerous and willing to indiscriminately kill or corrupt all in their path.
   
 
== Background ==
 
== Background ==
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{{See also|Second Sin}}
 
{{See also|Second Sin}}
 
[[File:Lore-FirstDarkspawn.png|thumb|270px|Chantry's depiction of the hubris of magisters]]
 
[[File:Lore-FirstDarkspawn.png|thumb|270px|Chantry's depiction of the hubris of magisters]]
According to the [[Chantry]], they were created when the [[magister]]s of the [[Tevinter Imperium]] opened a portal into the [[Golden City]], tainting the realm of the [[Maker]] with their corruption and returning as the first darkspawn, their evil transfiguring them into the monsters they became.
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According to the [[Chantry]], they were created when the [[Magisters Sidereal]] of the [[Tevinter Imperium]] opened a portal into the [[Golden City]], tainting the realm of the [[Maker]] with their corruption and returning as the first darkspawn, their evil transfiguring them into the monsters they became. The taint they carried infected others, turning them into darkspawn as well.<ref>''{{Cite wot|147}}</ref>
   
While underground, they grew in number and dug deeper and deeper into the earth until they found the resting place of the [[Old Gods|Old God]] [[Dumat]], where he had been imprisoned. Freed from his prison and warped by the taint the darkspawn bore, Dumat became the first of the [[archdemon]]s and led the darkspawn to lay waste to the world in what would become known as the [[First Blight]].
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With their increased numbers, the first darkspawn went underground and dug deeper and deeper into the earth until they found the resting place of the Old God [[Dumat]], where he had been imprisoned. Freed from his prison and warped by the taint the darkspawn bore, Dumat became the first of the Archdemons and led the darkspawn to lay waste to the world in what would become known as the [[First Blight]].
   
 
=== Dwarven version ===
 
=== Dwarven version ===
The [[Dwarf|dwarves]] give little credit to Chantry beliefs, but they themselves have no known origin story for the darkspawn. As far as the dwarves are concerned, the darkspawn simply appeared underground.<ref>[[Codex entry: The Eternal Battle: Darkspawn]]</ref> The darkspawn hordes that invaded the Deep Roads ended up crippling the dwarven empire, leaving only [[Orzammar]] and [[Kal-Sharok]], the latter of which was completely isolated from the outside world until recently.
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The [[Dwarf|dwarves]] give little credit to Chantry beliefs, but they themselves have no known origin story for the darkspawn. As far as the dwarves are concerned, the darkspawn simply appeared underground with some [[Shaperate|Shapers]] hypothesizing that there is a queen [[broodmother]] − the first mother.<ref>[[Codex entry: The Eternal Battle: Darkspawn]]</ref> The darkspawn hordes first invaded the [[Deep Roads]] ended up crippling the dwarven empire, leaving only [[Orzammar]] and [[Kal-Sharok]], the latter was discovered only recently that it survived.
   
 
=== Tevinter version ===
 
=== Tevinter version ===
According to [[Dorian Pavus]] and [[Fenris]], [[magister]]s deny their involvement in starting the Blight. They claim the darkspawn have always existed and the magisters have no connection to them. Slaves are not regaled with a Tevinter version of the Chant of Light, so Fenris could not confirm if there is an official [[Imperial Chantry]] stance beyond typical Tevinter opinion.
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According to [[Dorian Pavus]] and [[Fenris]], [[magister]]s deny their involvement in starting the Blight. They claim the darkspawn have always existed and the magisters have no connection to them. [[Slavery|Slaves]] are not regaled with a Tevinter version of the [[Chant of Light]], so Fenris could not confirm if there is an official [[Imperial Chantry]] stance beyond typical Tevinter opinion.
   
 
== History ==
 
== History ==
 
{{For|a history of the specific Blights|Blight}}
 
{{For|a history of the specific Blights|Blight}}
   
With the fall of the Golden City and the beginning of the First Blight in -395 [[Ancient Age|Ancient]] (800 TE), a dark age descended onto Thedas as the darkspawn rampaged across the continent, destroying everything in their path. The Tevinter Imperium suffered greatly, as it weakened greatly and fracturing under the strain of the invasion, while the subterranean empire of the dwarves was laid waste, with only their four major kingdoms Orzammar, [[Dwarf#History|Gundaar]], [[Dwarf#History|Hormak]] and Kal-Sharok surviving. After nearly a century of hopeless, unending war, the Order of the [[Grey Wardens]] was established at [[Weisshaupt Fortress]] in -305 Ancient (890 TE), and proved instrumental in the defeat of the Archdemon [[Dumat]] at the Battle of the [[Silent Plains]]. The darkspawn invasion had been beaten, but the darkspawn would retreat underground to rebuild and recover.
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With the fall of the Golden City and the beginning of the First Blight in -395 [[Ancient Age|Ancient]] (800 TE), a dark age descended onto Thedas as the darkspawn rampaged across the continent, destroying everything in their path. The Tevinter Imperium suffered greatly, becoming severely weakened and fractured under the strain of the invasion, while the subterranean empire of the dwarves was laid waste, with only their four major kingdoms Orzammar, [[Dwarf#History|Gundaar]], [[Dwarf#History|Hormak]] and Kal-Sharok surviving. After nearly a century of hopeless, unending war, the Order of the [[Grey Wardens]] was established at [[Weisshaupt Fortress]] in -305 Ancient (890 TE), and proved instrumental in the defeat of the Archdemon Dumat at the Battle of the [[Silent Plains]]. The darkspawn invasion had been beaten, but the darkspawn would retreat underground to rebuild and recover.
   
Over the centuries, four more Blights would occur, the latest occurring in 9:30 [[Dragon Age (time period)|Dragon]]. Each time, the Blight would be stopped with heavy losses, with the darkspawn destroying entire cities or even kingdoms before being beaten back by the nations of Thedas and the Grey Wardens. With the exception of [[Anderfels]], darkspawn appearances on the surface most frequently promote fears of a Blight, however this does not occur until an Archdemon is awakened by the darkspawn. Without the Archdemon leading them, darkspawn hordes are much smaller and less effective in the raids they often launch, but are still dangerous. However that's not the case in the underground, as the dwarves are constantly fighting a losing battle against the darkspawn for more than a millennium. This resulted in the underground of Thedas being entirely controlled by the darkspawn with the exception of what remains of the kingdoms of [[Orzammar]] and [[Kal-Sharok]], but some thaigs have been recently reclaimed.
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Over the centuries, four more Blights would occur, the latest occurring in 9:30 [[Dragon Age (time period)|Dragon]]. Each time, the Blight would be stopped with heavy losses, with the darkspawn destroying entire cities or even kingdoms before being beaten back by the nations of Thedas and the Grey Wardens. With the exception of [[Anderfels]], darkspawn appearances on the surface most frequently promote fears of a Blight, however this does not occur until an Archdemon is awakened by the darkspawn. Without an Archdemon leading them, darkspawn hordes are much smaller and less effective in the raids they often launch, but are still dangerous. However, that is not the case in the underground, as the dwarves have been constantly fighting a losing battle against the darkspawn for more than a millennium. This has resulted in the underground of Thedas being almost entirely controlled by darkspawn with the exception of what remains of the kingdoms of Orzammar and Kal-Sharok. Some thaigs have been recently reclaimed, but at heavy costs to the dwarves.
   
 
== Physiology and reproduction ==
 
== Physiology and reproduction ==
 
[[File:Genlock script.png|thumb|267px|Script found in the [[Wonders of Thedas]] which provides an analysis on genlocks]]
 
[[File:Genlock script.png|thumb|267px|Script found in the [[Wonders of Thedas]] which provides an analysis on genlocks]]
Darkspawn are described as pale creatures with strange blackness bleeding out of their eyes and mouths.<ref>[[Dragon Age: Asunder]], Chapter 8.</ref> Black ichor flows in their bodies.<ref name=TC2/>
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Darkspawn are described as pale creatures with strange blackness bleeding out of their eyes and mouths.<ref>[[Dragon Age: Asunder]], Chapter 8.</ref> Black ichor flows in their bodies.<ref name=TC2/><ref>[[Codex entry: Genlock (Inquisition)]]</ref> Darkspawn do not need to eat as the taint sustains them, however they can eat for reasons other than dietary.<ref>''[[Dragon Age: The Calling]]'', p. 218</ref><ref name="BSN11">{{BWF|author=[[David Gaider]]|date=2011|url=https://web.archive.org/web/20160814015909/https://forum.bioware.com/topic/125558-what-do-darkspawn-eat/page-8|title=What do darkspawn eat?|access=January 19, 2011}}</ref> Furthermore, the taint provides quick healing from wounds which also explains the absence of healing skills among the darkspawn.<ref>Mentioned by [[the Architect]] in [[Dragon Age: The Calling]], Chapter 6.</ref> Thus, [[ogre]]s can regenerate to full health within a matter of minutes.<ref>[[Codex entry: Ogre]]</ref> This healing even allows the re-creation of lost body parts after some time.<ref>As seen with [[the Architect]] having both of his hands again in ''[[Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening]]''.</ref>
Darkspawn do not need to eat as the [[taint]] sustains them, however they can eat for reasons other than dietary.<ref>''[[Dragon Age: The Calling]]'', p. 218</ref><ref name="BSN11">{{BWF|author=[[David Gaider]]|date=2011|url=https://web.archive.org/web/20160814015909/https://forum.bioware.com/topic/125558-what-do-darkspawn-eat/page-8|title=What do darkspawn eat?|access=January 19, 2011}}</ref> Furthermore, the taint provides quick healing from wounds which also explains the absence of healing skills among the darkspawn.<ref>Mentioned by [[the Architect]] in [[Dragon Age: The Calling]], Chapter 6.</ref> This healing even allows the re-creation of lost body parts after some time.<ref>As seen with [[the Architect]] having both of his hands again in ''[[Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening]]''.</ref> The darkspawn have good vision in the darkness<ref>As seen with the transformation of [[Bregan]] in ''[[Dragon Age: The Calling]]''</ref> that is, however, impaired in the sunlight the darkspawn despise.<ref name=RPG1>[[Dragon Age (tabletop RPG)|Dragon Age RPG]], Set 1 - Game Master's Guide, p.29</ref> Even during the [[Blight]]s, when the sun is hidden by ominous clouds as a result of [[Taint#Blight magic|blight magic]], the darkspawn are still weaker and more timid by daylight than they are at night.<ref>[[Dragon Age: Last Flight]], Chapter 19.</ref>
 
   
{{SpoilerDAO|As a species, the darkspawn are asexual and unable to reproduce. This task is left to a specific form of [[ghoul]], referred to as [[broodmother]]s. Captured female prisoners are infected with the taint and forced to consume the flesh of their fellows. Those that survive this process undergo a horrific transformation and become massively swollen creatures that exist to breed more darkspawn.
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The darkspawn have good vision in the darkness<ref>As seen with the transformation of [[Bregan]] in ''[[Dragon Age: The Calling]]''</ref> but they're weaker at sunlight. Even during the Blights, when the sun is hidden by ominous clouds as a result of [[Taint#Blight magic|blight magic]], the darkspawn are still weaker and more timid by daylight than they are at night.<ref>[[Dragon Age: Last Flight]], Chapter 19.</ref>
   
A single broodmother is capable of giving birth to thousands of darkspawn during their lives, and each race produces a different type of darkspawn. [[Human]]s produce [[hurlock]]s, dwarves produce [[genlock]]s, [[Elf|elves]] produce [[shriek]]s, and [[Qunari]] produce [[ogre]]s. Darkspawn feature similar traits to the race their broodmother once was, such as genlocks having magical resistance. Newborn darkspawn look more or less like [[the Children]].<ref name="BSN11"/>}}
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{{SpoilerDAO|As a species, the darkspawn are asexual and unable to reproduce. This task is left to a specific form of [[ghoul]], referred to as broodmothers. Captured female prisoners are infected with the taint and are force-fed darkspawn tissue and vomit. Those that survive this process undergo a horrific transformation and become massively swollen creatures that exist to breed more darkspawn.
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A single broodmother is capable of giving birth to thousands of darkspawn during their lives, and each race produces a different type of darkspawn. [[Human]]s produce [[hurlock]]s, dwarves produce [[genlock]]s, [[Elf|elves]] produce the sharlocks, popularly known as [[shriek]]s, and [[Qunari]] produce ogres.<ref>[[Codex entry: Broodmother]]</ref> Darkspawn feature similar traits to the race their broodmother once was, such as genlocks having magical resistance.<ref>[[Codex entry: Genlock (Dragon Age II)]]</ref> Newborn darkspawn look more or less like [[the Children]].<ref name="BSN11"/>}}
   
 
== Hierarchy ==
 
== Hierarchy ==
The newborn darkspawn will inevitably fight amongst themselves and try to kill each other, possibly by instinct. This serves to weed out the weaker darkspawn. Occasionally one young darkspawn will be so much more powerful than the rest that it kills the entire brood. This darkspawn is called an alpha. They are generally taller, stronger, or much more intelligent than the rest of their kind and wear better armor.
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The newborn darkspawn will inevitably fight amongst themselves and try to kill each other, possibly by instinct. This serves to weed out the weaker darkspawn. Occasionally one young darkspawn will be so much more powerful than the rest that it kills the entire brood. This darkspawn is called an alpha. They are generally taller, stronger and much more intelligent than the rest of their kind.<ref name=PrimaH>[[Dragon Age: Origins: Prima Official Game Guide]] - Bestiary - Hurlock</ref><ref name=W148>{{Cite wot|148}}</ref>. They also wear better armor.
   
 
Accordingly, an even more powerful alpha that manages to slay other alphas gains the extremely rare omega rank. Only one omega-ranked darkspawn was ever fought directly, during a [[Low Road|random encounter]].
 
Accordingly, an even more powerful alpha that manages to slay other alphas gains the extremely rare omega rank. Only one omega-ranked darkspawn was ever fought directly, during a [[Low Road|random encounter]].
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[[Emissary|Emissaries]] are highly intelligent darkspawn that draw on the power of the taint to [[Taint#Blight magic|cast spells]]. They act as "shamans" or spiritual leaders to the darkspawn. [[Emissary alpha]]s are the most powerful of the magic wielding darkspawn.
 
[[Emissary|Emissaries]] are highly intelligent darkspawn that draw on the power of the taint to [[Taint#Blight magic|cast spells]]. They act as "shamans" or spiritual leaders to the darkspawn. [[Emissary alpha]]s are the most powerful of the magic wielding darkspawn.
   
Mature darkspawn continue to disfavor each other and tend to group together with their own kind (genlocks with genlocks etc) even when travelling in force.<ref name=RPG1/>
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Mature darkspawn continue to disfavor each other and tend to group together with their own kind (genlocks with genlocks, etc.) even when traveling in force.<ref name=PrimaH/>
   
During a Blight only an [[Archdemon]] can command the entire darkspawn horde. Alphas serve as the commanders and generals of the darkspawn, while omegas are "second-in-command" to the Archdemon. The strongest alphas and omegas receive direct orders from the Archdemon itself. Emissaries ensure that darkspawn follow the Archdemon's will and that alphas serve the Archdemon's interests and not their own.
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During a Blight only an Archdemon can command the entire darkspawn horde. Alphas serve as the commanders and generals of the darkspawn<ref name=PrimaH/><ref name=Hur>[[Codex entry: Hurlock]]</ref>, while omegas are "second-in-command" to the Archdemon. The strongest alphas and omegas receive direct orders from the Archdemon itself.<ref>See [[Hurlock vanguard]].</ref> Emissaries ensure that darkspawn follow the Archdemon's will and that alphas serve the Archdemon's interests and not their own.<ref name=PrimaH/>
   
Without a Blight, the darkspawn remain underground except for raids. When there isn't an Archdemon to direct the darkspawn, the "chain of command" within the communal mind of the darkspawn breaks down, with individual alphas and omegas assuming a sort of leadership position as "tyrants", splitting the horde amongst themselves and fighting for dominance. Emissaries ensure that darkspawn search for the Archdemons outside of a Blight.
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Without a Blight, the darkspawn remain underground except for raids. When there isn't an Archdemon to direct the darkspawn, the "chain of command" within the communal mind of the darkspawn breaks down, with individual alphas and omegas assuming a sort of leadership position as "tyrants", splitting the horde amongst themselves and fighting for dominance.<ref name=W148/> Emissaries ensure that darkspawn search for the Archdemons outside of a Blight.
 
{{SpoilerDAOA|[[The Architect]] and [[the Mother]] were able to command large darkspawn groups.}}
 
{{SpoilerDAOA|[[The Architect]] and [[the Mother]] were able to command large darkspawn groups.}}
   
 
== Communication and sapience ==
 
== Communication and sapience ==
Common knowledge is that the average darkspawn can barely be considered sapient and possesses no intelligence beyond a simple animal cunning. Yet they should not be underestimated. Darkspawn are capable of coordinated action.<ref name=TC2/> [[Shriek]]s and [[Genlock (variation)|genlock]] rogues excel at ambushing and attacking the unwary, and darkspawn have been known to make use of manmade objects like [[ballista]]e to combat outsiders. Darkspawn seem to show little fear, and though they will retreat if they begin to lose a fight without an Archdemon guiding them, they will never surrender to their foes and will continue fighting even if countless numbers of their brethren have been slain.
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Common knowledge is that the average darkspawn can barely be considered sapient and possesses no intelligence beyond a simple animal cunning.<ref>[[Codex entry: Darkspawn]]</ref> Yet they should not be underestimated. Darkspawn are capable of coordinated action.<ref name=TC2/> [[Shriek]]s and [[Genlock (variation)|genlock]] rogues excel at ambushing and attacking the unwary, they employ poison and demonstrate group tactics.<ref>[[Codex entry: Shriek]]</ref> Darkspawn seem to show little fear, and though they will retreat if they begin to lose a fight without an Archdemon guiding them, they will never surrender to their foes and will continue fighting even if countless numbers of their brethren have been slain.
   
The darkspawn rank and file do not possess any [[language]] beyond hissing, roars and grunts. Despite this, they communicate well with one another, and some can be heard laughing cruelly as they attack and slay their foes. All darkspawn are connected through the [[taint]], functioning as a hive-mind. They can even sense [[Grey Wardens]] just as the latter sense them.<ref name=TC2/> Emissaries<ref name=TC2>[[Dragon Age: The Calling]], Chapter 2.</ref><ref>[[Codex entry: Darkspawn Emissary]]</ref> and at least some alphas<ref>[[Codex entry: Hurlock Alpha (Inquisition)]]</ref> are capable of speech. Thus, emissaries occasionally taunt or deliver ultimatums to their foes.<ref name=TC2/>. The [[Archdemon]]s are also known to communicate with other races.{{Citation needed}}
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The darkspawn rank and file do not possess any [[language]] beyond hissing, roars and grunts. Despite this, they communicate well with one another, and some can be heard laughing cruelly as they attack and slay their foes. All darkspawn are connected through the taint, functioning as a hive-mind. They can even sense Grey Wardens just as the latter sense them.<ref name=TC2/> Emissaries<ref name=Hur/><ref name=TC2>[[Dragon Age: The Calling]], Chapter 2.</ref><ref>[[Codex entry: Darkspawn Emissary]]</ref> and at least some alphas<ref name=HurA>[[Codex entry: Hurlock Alpha (Inquisition)]]</ref> are capable of speech. Thus, emissaries occasionally taunt or deliver ultimatums to their foes.<ref name=TC2/>.
   
When not already under the thrall of an Archdemon, and when not engaged in raids (either on each other or other sentients), the darkspawn relentlessly search for the sleeping [[Old Gods]], drawn by what they hear as the "song" of the dragons. This need seems to override nearly anything else; the darkspawn will search without rest for an Old God for centuries if need be. Darkspawn worship them even in their absence. They constructing strange and macabre idols, banners, and totems from bone, leather, and even flesh, dedicated to their masters and convert statues into their representations. One of the former Archdemon prisons was filled with darkspawn corpses who died praying to their god.<ref>{{Cite wot2|106}}</ref>
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When not already under the thrall of an Archdemon, and when not engaged in raids (either on each other or other sentients), the darkspawn relentlessly search for the sleeping Old Gods, drawn by what they hear as the "song" of the [[dragon]]s. This need seems to override nearly anything else; the darkspawn will search without rest for an Old God for centuries if need be.
   
{{SpoilerDAOA|By giving darkspawn the [[Grey Wardens]]' resistance to the taint, [[the Architect]] is able to grant them sapience. [[The Disciples]] freed by him from the call of the Old Gods are capable of speech and tactical warfare.}}
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Darkspawn worship them even in their absence. They constructed strange and macabre idols, banners, and totems from bone, leather, and even flesh, dedicated to their masters and convert statues into their representations.{{Citation needed}} One of the former Archdemon prisons was filled with darkspawn corpses who died praying to their god.<ref>{{Cite wot2|106}}</ref>
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{{SpoilerDAOA|By giving darkspawn the Grey Wardens' resistance to the taint, [[the Architect]] is able to grant them sapience. [[The Disciples]] freed by him from the call of the Old Gods are capable of speech and tactical warfare.}}
   
 
== Culture and technology ==
 
== Culture and technology ==
 
[[File:RTO Darkspawn Forge.jpg|thumb|A darkspawn forge, fitted with the skull of a corrupted [[halla]].]]
 
[[File:RTO Darkspawn Forge.jpg|thumb|A darkspawn forge, fitted with the skull of a corrupted [[halla]].]]
The darkspawn have very little resembling a recognizable form of culture. They do not have names<ref name=TC2/>. Nor do they build homes. A darkspawn nest is an underground chamber overgrown with organic strands, full of black tendrils and sacs of corrupted flesh.<ref>Witnessed by [[Bregan]] in [[Dragon Age: The Calling]], Chapter 6.</ref> Yet darkspawn possess a certain limited crafting expertise. It is primarily related to the production of crude armor and weaponry, as well as primitive fortifications from the remnants of [[dwarf|dwarven]] supplies found in the [[Deep Roads]].<ref name=TC2/> Darkspawn can't swim and don't have ships.<ref>[[Dragon Age: Last Flight]], Chapter 2</ref>
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The darkspawn have very little resembling a recognizable form of culture. They do not have names,<ref name=TC2/> with [[The Disciples]] being a notable exception.<ref>[[Codex entry: The Disciples]]</ref> Nor do they build homes. A darkspawn nest is an underground chamber overgrown with organic strands, full of black tendrils and sacs of corrupted flesh.<ref>Witnessed by [[Bregan]] in [[Dragon Age: The Calling]], Chapter 6.</ref> Yet [[hurlock]]s are known to adorn themselves with roughly-carved tattoos to keep track of their kills and deeds.<ref>[[Codex entry: Hurlock]]</ref>
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Darkspawn possess a certain limited crafting expertise. It is primarily related to the production of crude armor and weaponry, as well as primitive fortifications from the remnants of dwarven supplies found in the Deep Roads.<ref name=TC2/> Darkspawn can't swim and don't have ships.<ref>[[Dragon Age: Last Flight]], Chapter 2</ref>
   
 
== Darkspawn and other races ==
 
== Darkspawn and other races ==
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{{Quote|There is no talk. No negotiation. You will die. Your world will die. Now you understand.<ref name=HurA/>}}
 
Darkspawn exist solely for one purpose - war against all sentient beings in Thedas. As a rule, they are completely hostile to outsiders. Anyone caught venturing underground will be attacked, and anything caught in their path during a raid or a Blight will be mercilessly slaughtered. Surrendering to darkspawn is generally foolish; even if they spare a prisoner's life, they will still drag them back to the Deep Roads.
 
Darkspawn exist solely for one purpose - war against all sentient beings in Thedas. As a rule, they are completely hostile to outsiders. Anyone caught venturing underground will be attacked, and anything caught in their path during a raid or a Blight will be mercilessly slaughtered. Surrendering to darkspawn is generally foolish; even if they spare a prisoner's life, they will still drag them back to the Deep Roads.
   
Those who come in contact with darkspawn will eventually contract the [[Taint#The disease|blight disease]] and either perish outright or turn into [[ghoul]]s. Once the taint progresses enough, the darkspawn recognize them as their own kind and ghouls can sense darkspawn. Such people often show signs of insanity and usually work for the darkspawn in order to craft their weapons and armor,<ref>[[Codex entry: Armored Ogre]]</ref>. Males are devoured and tortured for entertainment once their effective labor is used up, while females are turned into [[broodmother]]s.
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Those who come in contact with darkspawn will eventually contract the [[Taint#The disease|blight disease]] and either perish outright or turn into [[ghoul]]s. Once the taint progresses enough, the darkspawn recognize them as their own kind and ghouls can sense darkspawn. Such people often show signs of insanity and usually work for the darkspawn in order to craft their weapons and armor.<ref>[[Codex entry: Armored Ogre]]</ref>
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{{SpoilerDAO|Males are devoured and tortured for entertainment once their effective labour is used up, while females are turned into [[broodmother]]s.}}
   
Darkspawn possess a deep hatred of dwarves, and constantly wage war with them outside of the Blights; this has led many subterranean dwarves to view Blights as a grand and peaceful time, as they are the only occasion when the darkspawn empty the Deep Roads and cease attacking them.
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Darkspawn constantly wage war with the dwarves outside of the Blights (except the First Blight); this has led many subterranean dwarves to view Blights as a grand and peaceful time, as these are the only occasions when the darkspawn empty the Deep Roads and cease attacking them.
   
 
== Unique darkspawn ==
 
== Unique darkspawn ==
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* In ''[[The Darkspawn Chronicles]]'' [[Downloadable content (Origins)|DLC]], the player assumes the role of a [[Hurlock vanguard]] in an alternate storyline in which [[the Warden]] died during their Joining.
 
* In ''[[The Darkspawn Chronicles]]'' [[Downloadable content (Origins)|DLC]], the player assumes the role of a [[Hurlock vanguard]] in an alternate storyline in which [[the Warden]] died during their Joining.
 
* While little is known about darkspawn physiology, if [[Isabela]] is in [[Hawke]]'s party during the quest [[Fool's Gold]] in ''[[Dragon Age II]]'' she will say, "The darkspawn smashed the chest. Fine! But did they have to piss on it too?," implying that darkspawn apparently still retain some normal biological processes. Additionally [[Anders]] will say "Bloody darkspawn shit on everything they touch," but he may be speaking metaphorically given his angry tone. He also claims that darkspawn don't eat, the taints sustains them living.
 
* While little is known about darkspawn physiology, if [[Isabela]] is in [[Hawke]]'s party during the quest [[Fool's Gold]] in ''[[Dragon Age II]]'' she will say, "The darkspawn smashed the chest. Fine! But did they have to piss on it too?," implying that darkspawn apparently still retain some normal biological processes. Additionally [[Anders]] will say "Bloody darkspawn shit on everything they touch," but he may be speaking metaphorically given his angry tone. He also claims that darkspawn don't eat, the taints sustains them living.
* The Darkspawn race and origins bear similarities to the origin of ''Orcs'' in J. R. R. Tolkien's [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle-earth Middle-earth legendarium]. As the Old Gods tried to usurp Heaven, the Ainur Morgoth and his followers tried to usurp Valinor; they were cast out to Arda, where they corrupted many living things to serve them; the Old Gods were cast down to Thedas, and the Taint they brought corrupted many. Without Morgoth or his servants leading them, Orcs tend to remain underground, and often war with Dwarves, as do the Darkspawn without Archdemons.
+
* The Darkspawn race and origins bear similarities to the origin of ''Orcs'' in J. R. R. Tolkien's [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle-earth Middle-earth legendarium]. As the magisters tried to usurp Heaven, the Ainur Morgoth and his followers tried to usurp Valinor; they were cast out to Arda, where they corrupted many living things to serve them; the Magisters Sidereal were cast down to Thedas, and the Taint they brought corrupted many. Without Dark Lords leading them, orcs tend to remain underground, and often war with dwarves, as do the darkspawn without Archdemons.
*The Darkspawn did not exist in David Gaider's original conception of Thedas. It was the leader designer, James Ohlen, who requested that the player have an evil horde to fight - an enemy they wouldn't mind killing. Gaider was not initially pleased - it "ran smack against the very theme I’d tried to establish". Gaider writes that, in response, he decided to try and "figure out if there was a version of orcs that… maybe I wouldn’t mind so much", and suggested this horde be a "living plague" instead, that would visit the world periodically, and thus the Darkspawn were devised.<ref>https://medium.com/@davidgaider/learning-to-love-the-pain-1a95cd6d4b47#.q29ib4sem</ref>
+
*The darkspawn did not exist in [[David Gaider]]'s original conception of Thedas. It was the leader designer, James Ohlen, who requested that the player have an evil horde to fight - an enemy they wouldn't mind killing. Gaider was not initially pleased - writing that it "ran smack against the very theme I’d tried to establish". In response, he decided to try and "figure out if there was a version of orcs that… maybe I wouldn’t mind so much", and suggested this horde be a "living plague" instead, that would visit the world periodically, and thus the darkspawn were devised.<ref>https://medium.com/@davidgaider/learning-to-love-the-pain-1a95cd6d4b47#.q29ib4sem</ref>
 
* Crows instinctively fear and avoid Blighted lands<ref>[[Note: A Letter Written in A Shaking Hand]]</ref>
 
* Crows instinctively fear and avoid Blighted lands<ref>[[Note: A Letter Written in A Shaking Hand]]</ref>
* A classified collection of studies on the darkspawn called The Blighted Codex is held safely in the [[Tevinter Imperium|Imperial]] Library in Minrathous and is available only to members of the [[magister|Magisterium]].<ref>[[Codex entry: Darkspawn Emissary]]</ref>
+
* A classified collection of studies on the darkspawn called ''The Blighted Codex'' is held safely in the [[Tevinter Imperium|Imperial]] Library in [[Minrathous]] and is available only to members of the [[magister|Magisterium]].<ref>[[Codex entry: Darkspawn Emissary]]</ref>
   
 
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== Gallery ==
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Latest revision as of 15:55, May 12, 2020

You have to bear witness and understand why it is so important to stop them. The Joining, the Calling...it's all worthwhile if it holds back the darkspawn. Once you understand what they are.[1] ―Sekah, Warden-Recruit from the Hossberg Circle of Magi
Creature-Darkspawn Group

Hurlocks, genlocks and an ogre

The darkspawn are a race of humanoid tainted creatures that mostly dwell in the underground of Thedas. They are believed to be soulless.[2][3] When the darkspawn uncover one of the Old Gods, they expose it to the taint, changing it into an Archdemon, which then leads them in an attack against the surface world called a Blight. The darkspawn are perhaps the single greatest threat to all of Thedas; they are bloodthirsty, exceptionally numerous and willing to indiscriminately kill or corrupt all in their path.

Background Edit

Chantry version Edit

See also: Second Sin
Lore-FirstDarkspawn

Chantry's depiction of the hubris of magisters

According to the Chantry, they were created when the Magisters Sidereal of the Tevinter Imperium opened a portal into the Golden City, tainting the realm of the Maker with their corruption and returning as the first darkspawn, their evil transfiguring them into the monsters they became. The taint they carried infected others, turning them into darkspawn as well.[4]

With their increased numbers, the first darkspawn went underground and dug deeper and deeper into the earth until they found the resting place of the Old God Dumat, where he had been imprisoned. Freed from his prison and warped by the taint the darkspawn bore, Dumat became the first of the Archdemons and led the darkspawn to lay waste to the world in what would become known as the First Blight.

Dwarven version Edit

The dwarves give little credit to Chantry beliefs, but they themselves have no known origin story for the darkspawn. As far as the dwarves are concerned, the darkspawn simply appeared underground with some Shapers hypothesizing that there is a queen broodmother − the first mother.[5] The darkspawn hordes first invaded the Deep Roads ended up crippling the dwarven empire, leaving only Orzammar and Kal-Sharok, the latter was discovered only recently that it survived.

Tevinter version Edit

According to Dorian Pavus and Fenris, magisters deny their involvement in starting the Blight. They claim the darkspawn have always existed and the magisters have no connection to them. Slaves are not regaled with a Tevinter version of the Chant of Light, so Fenris could not confirm if there is an official Imperial Chantry stance beyond typical Tevinter opinion.

History Edit

For a history of the specific Blights, see Blight.

With the fall of the Golden City and the beginning of the First Blight in -395 Ancient (800 TE), a dark age descended onto Thedas as the darkspawn rampaged across the continent, destroying everything in their path. The Tevinter Imperium suffered greatly, becoming severely weakened and fractured under the strain of the invasion, while the subterranean empire of the dwarves was laid waste, with only their four major kingdoms Orzammar, Gundaar, Hormak and Kal-Sharok surviving. After nearly a century of hopeless, unending war, the Order of the Grey Wardens was established at Weisshaupt Fortress in -305 Ancient (890 TE), and proved instrumental in the defeat of the Archdemon Dumat at the Battle of the Silent Plains. The darkspawn invasion had been beaten, but the darkspawn would retreat underground to rebuild and recover.

Over the centuries, four more Blights would occur, the latest occurring in 9:30 Dragon. Each time, the Blight would be stopped with heavy losses, with the darkspawn destroying entire cities or even kingdoms before being beaten back by the nations of Thedas and the Grey Wardens. With the exception of Anderfels, darkspawn appearances on the surface most frequently promote fears of a Blight, however this does not occur until an Archdemon is awakened by the darkspawn. Without an Archdemon leading them, darkspawn hordes are much smaller and less effective in the raids they often launch, but are still dangerous. However, that is not the case in the underground, as the dwarves have been constantly fighting a losing battle against the darkspawn for more than a millennium. This has resulted in the underground of Thedas being almost entirely controlled by darkspawn with the exception of what remains of the kingdoms of Orzammar and Kal-Sharok. Some thaigs have been recently reclaimed, but at heavy costs to the dwarves.

Physiology and reproduction Edit

Genlock script

Script found in the Wonders of Thedas which provides an analysis on genlocks

Darkspawn are described as pale creatures with strange blackness bleeding out of their eyes and mouths.[6] Black ichor flows in their bodies.[7][8] Darkspawn do not need to eat as the taint sustains them, however they can eat for reasons other than dietary.[9][10] Furthermore, the taint provides quick healing from wounds which also explains the absence of healing skills among the darkspawn.[11] Thus, ogres can regenerate to full health within a matter of minutes.[12] This healing even allows the re-creation of lost body parts after some time.[13]

The darkspawn have good vision in the darkness[14] but they're weaker at sunlight. Even during the Blights, when the sun is hidden by ominous clouds as a result of blight magic, the darkspawn are still weaker and more timid by daylight than they are at night.[15]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Origins.


As a species, the darkspawn are asexual and unable to reproduce. This task is left to a specific form of ghoul, referred to as broodmothers. Captured female prisoners are infected with the taint and are force-fed darkspawn tissue and vomit. Those that survive this process undergo a horrific transformation and become massively swollen creatures that exist to breed more darkspawn.

A single broodmother is capable of giving birth to thousands of darkspawn during their lives, and each race produces a different type of darkspawn. Humans produce hurlocks, dwarves produce genlocks, elves produce the sharlocks, popularly known as shrieks, and Qunari produce ogres.[16] Darkspawn feature similar traits to the race their broodmother once was, such as genlocks having magical resistance.[17] Newborn darkspawn look more or less like the Children.[10]

Hierarchy Edit

The newborn darkspawn will inevitably fight amongst themselves and try to kill each other, possibly by instinct. This serves to weed out the weaker darkspawn. Occasionally one young darkspawn will be so much more powerful than the rest that it kills the entire brood. This darkspawn is called an alpha. They are generally taller, stronger and much more intelligent than the rest of their kind.[18][19]. They also wear better armor.

Accordingly, an even more powerful alpha that manages to slay other alphas gains the extremely rare omega rank. Only one omega-ranked darkspawn was ever fought directly, during a random encounter.

Emissaries are highly intelligent darkspawn that draw on the power of the taint to cast spells. They act as "shamans" or spiritual leaders to the darkspawn. Emissary alphas are the most powerful of the magic wielding darkspawn.

Mature darkspawn continue to disfavor each other and tend to group together with their own kind (genlocks with genlocks, etc.) even when traveling in force.[18]

During a Blight only an Archdemon can command the entire darkspawn horde. Alphas serve as the commanders and generals of the darkspawn[18][20], while omegas are "second-in-command" to the Archdemon. The strongest alphas and omegas receive direct orders from the Archdemon itself.[21] Emissaries ensure that darkspawn follow the Archdemon's will and that alphas serve the Archdemon's interests and not their own.[18]

Without a Blight, the darkspawn remain underground except for raids. When there isn't an Archdemon to direct the darkspawn, the "chain of command" within the communal mind of the darkspawn breaks down, with individual alphas and omegas assuming a sort of leadership position as "tyrants", splitting the horde amongst themselves and fighting for dominance.[19] Emissaries ensure that darkspawn search for the Archdemons outside of a Blight.


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening.


The Architect and the Mother were able to command large darkspawn groups.

Communication and sapience Edit

Common knowledge is that the average darkspawn can barely be considered sapient and possesses no intelligence beyond a simple animal cunning.[22] Yet they should not be underestimated. Darkspawn are capable of coordinated action.[7] Shrieks and genlock rogues excel at ambushing and attacking the unwary, they employ poison and demonstrate group tactics.[23] Darkspawn seem to show little fear, and though they will retreat if they begin to lose a fight without an Archdemon guiding them, they will never surrender to their foes and will continue fighting even if countless numbers of their brethren have been slain.

The darkspawn rank and file do not possess any language beyond hissing, roars and grunts. Despite this, they communicate well with one another, and some can be heard laughing cruelly as they attack and slay their foes. All darkspawn are connected through the taint, functioning as a hive-mind. They can even sense Grey Wardens just as the latter sense them.[7] Emissaries[20][7][24] and at least some alphas[25] are capable of speech. Thus, emissaries occasionally taunt or deliver ultimatums to their foes.[7].

When not already under the thrall of an Archdemon, and when not engaged in raids (either on each other or other sentients), the darkspawn relentlessly search for the sleeping Old Gods, drawn by what they hear as the "song" of the dragons. This need seems to override nearly anything else; the darkspawn will search without rest for an Old God for centuries if need be.

Darkspawn worship them even in their absence. They constructed strange and macabre idols, banners, and totems from bone, leather, and even flesh, dedicated to their masters and convert statues into their representations.[citation needed] One of the former Archdemon prisons was filled with darkspawn corpses who died praying to their god.[26]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening.


By giving darkspawn the Grey Wardens' resistance to the taint, the Architect is able to grant them sapience. The Disciples freed by him from the call of the Old Gods are capable of speech and tactical warfare.

Culture and technology Edit

RTO Darkspawn Forge

A darkspawn forge, fitted with the skull of a corrupted halla.

The darkspawn have very little resembling a recognizable form of culture. They do not have names,[7] with The Disciples being a notable exception.[27] Nor do they build homes. A darkspawn nest is an underground chamber overgrown with organic strands, full of black tendrils and sacs of corrupted flesh.[28] Yet hurlocks are known to adorn themselves with roughly-carved tattoos to keep track of their kills and deeds.[29]

Darkspawn possess a certain limited crafting expertise. It is primarily related to the production of crude armor and weaponry, as well as primitive fortifications from the remnants of dwarven supplies found in the Deep Roads.[7] Darkspawn can't swim and don't have ships.[30]

Darkspawn and other races Edit

There is no talk. No negotiation. You will die. Your world will die. Now you understand.[25]

Darkspawn exist solely for one purpose - war against all sentient beings in Thedas. As a rule, they are completely hostile to outsiders. Anyone caught venturing underground will be attacked, and anything caught in their path during a raid or a Blight will be mercilessly slaughtered. Surrendering to darkspawn is generally foolish; even if they spare a prisoner's life, they will still drag them back to the Deep Roads.

Those who come in contact with darkspawn will eventually contract the blight disease and either perish outright or turn into ghouls. Once the taint progresses enough, the darkspawn recognize them as their own kind and ghouls can sense darkspawn. Such people often show signs of insanity and usually work for the darkspawn in order to craft their weapons and armor.[31]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Origins.


Males are devoured and tortured for entertainment once their effective labour is used up, while females are turned into broodmothers.

Darkspawn constantly wage war with the dwarves outside of the Blights (except the First Blight); this has led many subterranean dwarves to view Blights as a grand and peaceful time, as these are the only occasions when the darkspawn empty the Deep Roads and cease attacking them.

Unique darkspawn Edit

Trivia Edit

  • In The Darkspawn Chronicles DLC, the player assumes the role of a Hurlock vanguard in an alternate storyline in which the Warden died during their Joining.
  • While little is known about darkspawn physiology, if Isabela is in Hawke's party during the quest Fool's Gold in Dragon Age II she will say, "The darkspawn smashed the chest. Fine! But did they have to piss on it too?," implying that darkspawn apparently still retain some normal biological processes. Additionally Anders will say "Bloody darkspawn shit on everything they touch," but he may be speaking metaphorically given his angry tone. He also claims that darkspawn don't eat, the taints sustains them living.
  • The Darkspawn race and origins bear similarities to the origin of Orcs in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. As the magisters tried to usurp Heaven, the Ainur Morgoth and his followers tried to usurp Valinor; they were cast out to Arda, where they corrupted many living things to serve them; the Magisters Sidereal were cast down to Thedas, and the Taint they brought corrupted many. Without Dark Lords leading them, orcs tend to remain underground, and often war with dwarves, as do the darkspawn without Archdemons.
  • The darkspawn did not exist in David Gaider's original conception of Thedas. It was the leader designer, James Ohlen, who requested that the player have an evil horde to fight - an enemy they wouldn't mind killing. Gaider was not initially pleased - writing that it "ran smack against the very theme I’d tried to establish". In response, he decided to try and "figure out if there was a version of orcs that… maybe I wouldn’t mind so much", and suggested this horde be a "living plague" instead, that would visit the world periodically, and thus the darkspawn were devised.[32]
  • Crows instinctively fear and avoid Blighted lands[33]
  • A classified collection of studies on the darkspawn called The Blighted Codex is held safely in the Imperial Library in Minrathous and is available only to members of the Magisterium.[34]

Gallery Edit

See also Edit

Ico codex entry Codex entry: Darkspawn
Ico codex entry Codex entry: Broodmother
Ico codex entry Codex entry: Hurlock
Ico codex entry Codex entry: Genlock
Ico codex entry Codex entry: Ogre
Ico codex entry Codex entry: Shriek
Ico codex entry Codex entry: Armored Ogre
Codex icon DA2 Codex entry: The First Darkspawn
Codex icon DA2 Codex entry: Genlock
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Darkspawn (Inquisition)
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Darkspawn Emissary
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Genlock
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hurlock (Inquisition)
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Hurlock Alpha (Inquisition)
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Ogre (Inquisition)
Codex icon DAI Codex entry: Shriek (Inquisition)

References Edit

  1. Dragon Age: Last Flight, p. 19
  2. Codex entry: Archdemon
  3. Dragon Age II: The Complete Official Guide, p.258
  4. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 147
  5. Codex entry: The Eternal Battle: Darkspawn
  6. Dragon Age: Asunder, Chapter 8.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Dragon Age: The Calling, Chapter 2.
  8. Codex entry: Genlock (Inquisition)
  9. Dragon Age: The Calling, p. 218
  10. 10.0 10.1 BSN David Gaider (2011). "What do darkspawn eat?" . The BioWare Forum. Retrieved on January 19, 2011.
  11. Mentioned by the Architect in Dragon Age: The Calling, Chapter 6.
  12. Codex entry: Ogre
  13. As seen with the Architect having both of his hands again in Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening.
  14. As seen with the transformation of Bregan in Dragon Age: The Calling
  15. Dragon Age: Last Flight, Chapter 19.
  16. Codex entry: Broodmother
  17. Codex entry: Genlock (Dragon Age II)
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Dragon Age: Origins: Prima Official Game Guide - Bestiary - Hurlock
  19. 19.0 19.1 Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 148
  20. 20.0 20.1 Codex entry: Hurlock
  21. See Hurlock vanguard.
  22. Codex entry: Darkspawn
  23. Codex entry: Shriek
  24. Codex entry: Darkspawn Emissary
  25. 25.0 25.1 Codex entry: Hurlock Alpha (Inquisition)
  26. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 106
  27. Codex entry: The Disciples
  28. Witnessed by Bregan in Dragon Age: The Calling, Chapter 6.
  29. Codex entry: Hurlock
  30. Dragon Age: Last Flight, Chapter 2
  31. Codex entry: Armored Ogre
  32. https://medium.com/@davidgaider/learning-to-love-the-pain-1a95cd6d4b47#.q29ib4sem
  33. Note: A Letter Written in A Shaking Hand
  34. Codex entry: Darkspawn Emissary
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