Every living being enters the Fade mentally when they dream, and mages tap into it when they cast spells. The only exception being the dwarves who do not dream. Most people do not remember their time in the Fade - mages being a distinct exception, as they are able normally to remain "conscious" while traveling there. The Qunari claim that they do not dream as humans and elves do. This claim seems to be valid as they are rarely encountered in the Fade.
Mages of the Circle frequently visit the Fade with the aid of lyrium - in particular during the rite of Harrowing, in which an apprentice is pitted against a demon and ultimately either put to death as an abomination or promoted to full mage status. Dreamers are capable of entering the Fade at will. Magic use is possible in the Fade, though spells work unpredictably there as magic does not follow natural rules.
There is no geography in the Fade. Place and time are far less important than concepts and symbols.
An island with the Black City, a shadowy metropolis with twisted spires seems to be the only constant feature of the Fade, always on the horizon. No one has managed to reach it since over-ambitious mages physically invaded the Fade in the early days of the Tevinter Imperium (the first and last time such an attempt has been made). Even the most powerful demons keep their distance.
The Fade may appear as something else entirely when shaped by dreams. Much of the Fade is split up into fiefs or demesnes belonging to the spirits or demons that live there, and they change the landscape of the Fade to emulate what they see in the minds of mortal dreamers. They copy locations, objects, people and concepts of the real world, often in a cruel or confusing way. These copies are nowhere near consistent, and fluctuate according to the movement of the dreamers. Spirits whose realms are flocked with visitors rise to rule great portions of the Fade, while memories and concepts forgotten in the real world slowly drift away back into the ether, the spirits who ruled them losing all potency.
- 'Killing' a mortal's dreaming form while in the Fade (thus ending that individual's dream and waking them up) is a shock to the living body, but not normally lethal. However, Dreamer mages have been known to be able to kill others in their dreams, and if an individual is "awake" in the Fade death there can potentially lead to physical death.
- Belief and willpower are paramount in the Fade. Even though a mage cannot change every aspect of the Fade (Dreamer mages have greater capabilities in this respect), they can draw unprecedented power from it while sleeping. Similarly, even non-mages may instinctively shape the Fade in small ways: armoring and arming themselves with weapons able to cut even in dreams.
- Enemy dead in the Fade do not yield loot, with two known exceptions:
- Characters usually manifest their inventory while in the Fade; insofar as this occurs, disposing of anything (drinking potions, throwing items away) will deplete equipment just as it does in the physical realm.
- Learning to assume various forms during The Fade: Lost in Dreams only pertains to the Sloth demon's realm; it does not carry over into the physical realm - even for a mage who has specialized as a shapeshifter - nor into any later Fade scenario.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, Rangers cannot summon animals while in the Fade. This does not seem to apply during Awakening.
- Neither Animate Dead nor Devour will function properly in the Fade.
- Attribute gains will remain after one exits the Fade, as will codex entries.
According to the Chantry, the Fade is a realm of primeval matter from which the Maker formed the physical world and all living beings. It was the first realm created by the Maker, populated with spirits, the first of the Maker's 'children'. Growing unsatisfied with them (as what they created was "fleeting, ever-changing"), he then created Thedas, separated from the Fade by the Veil and populated by mortal creatures. Many spirits grew jealous of these new children, and became what mortals call demons, craving and/or emulating their basest desires and sins.
The Chant of Light states that the Black City was originally the Golden City, seat of the Maker. An attempt by Tevinter magisters to physically enter the city blackened it with their prideful ambition, and their punishment was to be cast down as the first of the darkspawn, commencing the First Blight. When the Chant of Light spreads to all corners of the world, the Maker will forgive mankind and return, restoring the Golden City.
The Chantry also holds that when a person dies, their soul passes through the Fade to the afterlife and the Maker's side. Those who have turned away from the Maker enter the Fade and are lost, returning to the ether from which they were formed ("to the Void"). They are stuck in the Fade and doomed to wander endlessly.
- Ancient Tevinters believed that the Fade was the realm of their Old Gods, and the Golden City was the center of the deities' power.
- The Dalish elves believe that in the time of Arlathan their ancestors did not die, but rather entered a dream-like stated called uthenera, in which their souls wandered the Fade, accompanied by Falon'Din and Dirthamen. They would learn the secrets of dreams, and some would return to the People with newfound knowledge. The Dalish refer to the Fade as the Beyond.
Ancient elven beliefs further state that the Fade is a holy place that was once the home of the gods. Following Fen'Harel's deception preceding the fall of Arlathan, it is said that the gods now lie imprisoned in the Eternal City at the heart of the Fade while the Dread Wolf roams, gleefully feasting on the souls of the dead.
- Qunari consider the Fade the "Land of the Dead," and entering it is forbidden according to the Qun.
Despite this, Qunari mages presumably have associations, affinities and vulnerabilities to the Fade identical or similar to those of their elven and human counterparts.
- Fade spirits such as Justice claim that the souls of the dead pass to the Fade, but are uncertain of their subsequent fate.
In Dragon Age: The Silent Grove, chapter 6, Yavana says that the spirit of Prince Claudio Valisti lingers in the Fade. She summons him and demands that he give her answers, or she will pin his spirit to his rotting body and make maggots eat his "essence" as they eat his flesh.She also mentions the time "before the Veil, before the mysteries were forgotten", when dragons ruled the skies.
Dragon Age: OriginsThe Harrowing, if the Warden is mage The Arl of Redcliffe, depending on certain choices Lost in Dreams, during the Broken Circle quest In Search of Amgarrak, in The Golems of Amgarrak DLC
Dragon Age: Origins - AwakeningShadows of the Blackmarsh
Dragon Age IINight Terrors
Dragon Age: Redemption
Dragon Age: Asunder
- Chapters 11-12
Dragon Age: Until We Sleep
- Chapters 2-3
- People dream of their loved ones in the Fade because the spirits there recognize the bond between souls, and that bond has power in dreams.
- Though magic cannot see the future, mages can interpret special dreams, visions of the Fade to make guesses as to what may come.
See alsoCodex entry: The Fade Codex entry: The Black City Codex entry: Beyond the Veil: Spirits and Demons Codex entry: Tears in the Veil