Time, in the end, is one long Proving, and we are failing at the test.―Warrior Etrol of House Saelac[1]

The history of the dwarves is by far the most detailed and well-recorded history in Thedas thanks to the Shaperate of Memories institution.

History[edit | edit source]

Early Years[edit | edit source]

Tens of thousands of years of dwarven history are stored in the Memories.[2] Some Shapers claim that they date back to the founding of the first thaig.[3]

The Shaperate speaks of a Thedas entirely devoid of humans, a time when elves reigned over the land and dwarves ruled the underground.[4] In -4600 Ancient (-3405 TE) the elves of the great elven kingdom of Elvhenan are said to first make contact with the dwarves, 1,500 years before the arrival of humans.[5] However much has transpired that has not been recorded in the Shaperate's Memories.

This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Inquisition.

According to Shaper Valta the Titans fell and the dwarven race with them, breaking in two.[6] Solas compares dwarves to a "severed arm of a once mighty hero, lying in a pool of blood".[7] Ancient elven text speaks about them hunting "the pillars of the earth", both to free their mindless subjects from them and force growth from their corpses.[8]

Veilfire runes in an ancient mine depict figures of Mythal leading a charge against the titans and killing at least some of them. Lyrium was then mined from their bodies. An aeon later the mine was sealed away.[9] The Dalish tell a story about how the dwarves fear the sun because of Elgar'nan's fire which they believe is a metaphor for the ancient elves driving the dwarves underground.[10]

Two thaigs used the runework of the most talented Shaper of Runes in dwarven history, Paragon Fairel, to build fantastic weapons of destruction. In order to escape or to avoid a war he took his own house and several others, and departed from his brethren. Under the sandy desert of the Hissing Wastes he established the only known above-ground thaig; Kal Repartha which means in dwarven language "a place where we may meet in peace".[11][12][13]

This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age II.

Beneath the Free Marches there are also ancient dwarven ruins which display cultural practices that are completely foreign to the modern dwarves, such as the construction of temples and the veneration of a pantheon of deities. Furthermore, within these ruins are items which could only have been created by magic, yet there are no records of any dwarf being able to cast spells.[14]

This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: The Calling.

An older part of the Deep Roads runs beneath Ferelden, below their standard level and some natural caverns in-between. These "deeper" roads feature at least one temple honoring some ancient dwarven deity with tall statues and a simple flat altar.[15]

The Forgotten War was fought between the dwarves and the Scaled Ones sometime after the founding of the Tevinter Imperium in -1195 Ancient, but before the destruction of Cad'halash Thaig around -975 Ancient.[16][17]

Golden Age[edit | edit source]

The great thaig of Orzammar

For thousands of years until the beginning of the First Blight, the dwarven empire expanded and prospered. Orseck Garal and Endrin Stonehammer are two of those great rulers during this golden age with the latter forging an alliance with the first Tevinter Archon, Darinius, in -1200 Ancient (-5 TE).[18] The alliance of the dwarves with Tevinter Imperium still lasts up to present day.

Eventually in -1170 Ancient (25 TE)[19] Stonehammer moved the capital of the empire to Orzammar to preside more directly over the commercial aspects of dwarven life, mining and crafting, as Orzammar was the ancestral seat of the Mining and Smith castes[20] and because of the turmoil in the Imperium following the death of Archon Darinius.[21] He also expanded and improved the city, creating the legendary Stonehammer Hall and enlarging the Orzammar Proving to allow for massive tournaments.[22] In this period of great flourishing and wealth, thaigs were built under every human kingdom, and the Deep Roads experienced great development as the dwarves' chief method of travel between their cities.

The empire was encompassed by several kingdoms, some of them being Kal-Sharok, Orzammar, Gundaar and Hormak. At least since the times of the First Blight, each kingdom had its own Assembly, which maintained allegiance to the capital of the empire.[23]

After the destruction of Arlathan in -975 Ancient[17] several elves sought shelter in the Cad'halash Thaig. However once the dwarves of Kal-Sharok discovered this development, they destroyed the thaig in order to conceal all the evidence and avoid jeopardizing the alliance]] with the Tevinter Imperium.[24]

First Blight[edit | edit source]

The fall of the dwarven empire

The darkspawn first appeared underground in 800 TE. At first travelers on the Deep Roads disappeared while the darkspawn concentrated on multiplying their numbers.[25][26] When the Warrior caste sent soldiers to patrols the Roads, they started to go missing while on duty—they but the attacks were subtle at best, nothing to truly indicate what was to come.

The First Blight is arguably the single most devastating event in the history of the race. The empire came to its knees as darkspawn flooded the Deep Roads that connected the countless thaigs and cities. Political disunity among the warrior and noble castes and the inability to focus on effectively stopping the darkspawn, resulted in the loss of countless thaigs pushing the race to the brink of extinction. In these perilous times Paragon Aeducan rose, sometime after 815 TE[25], and with his resourcefulness he saved the empire as well as achieved the first victories against the horde.[27]

More than a century later and with the First Blight still raging, in -255 Ancient one of the dwarves' greatest engineering feats was developed; the creation of the Anvil of the Void by Paragon Caridin which could forge giant golems. These creatures - bipedal warriors of stone or metal were devastating on the battlefield and allowed the dwarves to push the darkspawn back and reclaim some of their lost territory. The master smith constantly produced golems for six years until King Valtor started using the Anvil to turn casteless, criminals, and political enemies into golems, instead of just volunteers.[28] Caridin objected, and in turn, was made into a golem himself. However, his apprentices knew not how to properly construct a control rod, allowing Caridin to retain his free will and mind. Caridin disappeared into the Deep Roads in -248 Ancient[29], taking his followers and the Anvil with him.[30]

This single event extinguished from the dwarves any hope for a final victory against the darkspawn. Caridin was presumed dead and no other dwarf had been able to replicate his breakthrough ever since; the use of golems on a military scale has become but a memory. Only the cooperation of the four major kingdoms allowed them to survive.

Eventually the First Blight was defeated with the death of Archdemon Dumat in the Battle of Silent Plains in which the dwarven army also participated.[31]

Decline[edit | edit source]

Ancient treasures left behind

With the retreat of the darkspawn underground, victory was declared on the surface but the war for the dwarves was far from over. Even without an Archdemon's guidance the darkspawn continued their relentless push against the severely weakened empire. In response most of the Deep Roads were sealed causing communication lines to falter between the surviving kingdoms. As a result, in -195 Ancient (1000 TE), each kingdom elected its own king while maintaining allegiance to the High King of Orzammar.[23]

However, the darkspawn continued pushing, and in an effort to save the race from complete annihilation, High King Threestone ordered the sealing of the Deep Roads leading to the remaining three kingdoms in -40 Ancient (1155 TE).[32] Paragon Egon Wintersbreath led the defenses of the kingdom of Hormak but that was not enough and within a decade the kingdoms of both Gundaar and Hormak had fallen.[33][34] The last of the Roads are sealed in -15 Ancient (1180 TE) cutting off Kal-Sharok which was believed lost.[35] The kingdom of Orzammar had become the only bastion of dwarven culture in Thedas, the last outpost of the race.

Ages[edit | edit source]

Even though the sealing of the Deep Roads significantly decreased the pressure on Orzammar, the darkspawn were able to find ways to breach them. For the next centuries, the kingdom was in a steady decline by losing most of its outlying thaigs. Despite that, the strict traditions of Orzammar's culture as well as its alliance with Tevinter Imperium persisted.

During the Fourth Blight the dwarves of Orzammar assisted the Imperium in lifting the siege of Marnas Pell[36] however the Ortan Thaig was lost.[37]

In 8:96 Blessed, Endrin Aeducan became the new king of Orzammar.[38] Two years later the prominent noble House Tethras was exiled to the surface for denying the Voice of the Ancestors and willfully manipulating the sacred Provings.[39][40]

Present day[edit | edit source]

King Endrin Aeducan died at the beginning of the Fifth Blight

In 9:12 Dragon it is discovered that the kingdom of Kal-Sharok had in fact survived. However the relations between the two kingdoms are strained because Orzammar demands Kal-Sharok's allegiance and because it was abandoned by Orzammar a millennium ago. One year later, after exchanging hands numerous times, Bownammar is permanently lost to the darkspawn, the last great loss of the dwarves.[41][42]

In 9:30 Dragon, King Endrin passes away starting a political crisis between the two competitors for the throne. The Warden eventually helps one candidate get elected as the new king of Orzammar. The dwarves honor their treaties with the Grey Wardens by sending an army to assist Ferelden in defeating the Fifth Blight. Around this time the Primeval Thaig is rediscovered beneath the Free Marches.

In 9:32, the dwarven army led by House Helmi to the great thaig of Kal'Hirol clears the Deep Roads connecting it to Orzammar from darkspawn, reclaiming it once again.

Despite the outbreak of the Mage-Templar War and the War of the Lions in 9:40 Dragon and the War against the Elder One in the following year, Orzammar is not directly impacted by the devastating warfare and escapes unscathed however due to reliance on food imports from the surface, the city experiences significant food shortages which leads to riots.[43]

Between 9:41 and 9:42 Dragon, the Inquisition may gain Orzammar's friendship and as a result the reigning king will send legionnaires and financial aid. Around this time the dwarves of Kal-Sharok will leave a cryptic message to the Inquisition which may lead to cooperation against the Venatori.

On the same year the king of Orzammar sends the Legion of the Dead to assist the Shaperate in investigating the repeated earthquakes which disrupted the lyrium mining operations and broke the tunnel seals allowing the darkspawn to pour in. Those mines are vital for the surface's supply of lyrium as well as Orzammar's economy and thus the dwarves appeal to the Grey Wardens for aid but after they receive no response, they contact the Inquisition. This can lead to the discovery of the Sha-Brytol dwarves and scarce information on the Titans.

Dragon Age RPG[edit | edit source]

BioWare canon.png
The following characters, lore and events in this section are non-canon in Dragon Age and exist only within the Dragon Age tabletop RPG.

During the Golden Age of the dwarves, artisans and engineers pioneered new crafting methods and built many cherished monuments to dwarven history, such as Gundaar's House of Crystalline Waters, a massive underground lake decorated with shining quartz stalactites reflecting colors no dwarf had ever seen.[44]

In the Divine Age and for a 30-year period Orzammar was ruled by The “Lost King” who was utterly removed from the Memories, and thus his deeds are unknown.[45]

In the Towers Age the Chasind Wilders along with other "terrible things" were led by Flemeth's daughters, the Witches of the Wild. This force invaded the region of what would be Ferelden and were all but unopposed until the hero Cormac led an army of Alamarri fighters and Orzammar dwarves. After a long series of dreadful battles, the Chasind were all but destroyed, and the witches burned.[46]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Player's Guide, set 2, p. 8
  2. Codex entry: Dwarven Runecraft
  3. Codex entry: The Primeval Thaig
  4. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 12
  5. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, pp. 10-11
  6. Codex entry: Titans
  7. Banter between Solas and Varric.
  8. Codex entry: Old Elven Writing
  9. Codex entry: Veilfire Runes in the Deep Roads
  10. Codex entry: Torn Notebook in the Deep Roads, Section 2
  11. Codex entry: A Journal on Dwarven Ruins
  12. Codex entry: Dwarven Inscriptions: Hissing Wastes
  13. The Four Pillars
  14. Codex entry: The Primeval Thaig
  15. The site is briefly visited in 9:10 Dragon by King Maric and the Grey Wardens in Dragon Age: The Calling, chapter 15.
  16. Codex entry: Chronicles of a Forgotten War
  17. 17.0 17.1 Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, pp. 37-38
  18. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 18
  19. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 19
  20. Codex entry: Orzammar History: Chapter One
  21. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 37
  22. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, pp. 19-20
  23. 23.0 23.1 Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 35
  24. Codex entry: Letters from the Past
  25. 25.0 25.1 Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 28
  26. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 155
  27. Codex entry: House Aeducan, Shield of Orzammar
  28. Caridin and Golems. BioWare wiki.
  29. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 33
  30. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 91
  31. Codex entry: The First Blight: Chapter 4
  32. Codex entry: Cut to Kal Sharok
  33. Dragon Age: Origins: Prima Official Game Guide
  34. Based on Wintersbreath (Inquisition) description.
  35. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 52
  36. Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne, p. 363
  37. Mentioned by Orta.
  38. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 130
  39. Codex entry: Bartrand Tethras
  40. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 131
  41. Codex entry: Legion of the Dead
  42. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 141
  43. The Inquisitor can overhear the discussion between three dwarven emissaries who gossip on news from Orzammar in the Winter Palace during Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts.
  44. Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Player's Guide, set 2, p. 10
  45. Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Player's Guide, set 2, p. 17
  46. Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Player's Guide, set 1, p. 9
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