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A Keeper is the mage leader of a Dalish clan as well as one of the specializations available to the mage class in Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening.


Concept art of a Dalish Keeper from Heroes of Dragon Age.

A Keeper is a leader of the clan in both the spiritual sense, as well as the literal. They are not thought of as rulers, however. The families within a clan listen to their Keeper because they consider them to be wise, and because it is tradition.

In the days of the elven Dales, a Keeper served the role of a priest in any of the temples to the elven gods or goddesses. There they functioned as magical scholars and were led by a High Keeper, or sometimes Highest One.[1][2] Not all of these Keepers were benevolent, however. The last High Keeper of Dirthamen attempted to sacrifice his acolytes in a ritual to protect the god's secrets from outsiders, and was trapped along with them.[3]

Keepers are also responsible for protecting a clan from Fen'Harel,[4] and for knowing the clan's ancient lore and passing it on to the others in the clan. Without a keeper, the clan's knowledge is lost forever. Every ten years, the Keepers of the Dalish clans convene during the Arlathvhen, which usually lasts two days, to compare any recovered knowledge or artifacts. The intense quarreling that occurs in these conferences leads many to suspect the Dalish prefer their tribal isolation due to irreconcilable differences. Furthermore, the Keepers are the only ones who know the secret of writing the Elven language.[5]

The Keepers are the Dalish's mages, though each clan will seldom have more than two or three fully trained mages. These mages are the Keeper and the Keeper's apprentice. The apprentice is referred to as the First (First meaning the next in line of succession). Though there is only one First in a clan at any time, there can be many candidates for the apprenticeship, such as the Keeper's Second.[6]

Should there be a clan with more mages than needed, they may be transferred to another clan during the Arlathvhen, as was the case with Merrill, who was born to the Alerion clan but became First of the Sabrae clan. They may also be sent away from the Dalish entirely.[7]

The Templars are aware that Dalish clans harbor mages, but largely let such apostasy go rather than upset existing human-elven relations. The Dalish, in turn, are aware that their mages are tolerated only so long as they behave, and thus make it a point to never overstay their welcome in any human land. Nevertheless, templar attacks on Keepers have still been reported to happen.[8][9]

Known Keepers[]

Marethari, Keeper of the Sabrae clan.

Known Firsts[]

Merrill, First of the Sabrae clan.

Known Seconds[]


One With Nature One With Nature
Range: Personal
Upkeep: 80
Fatigue: 10%
Cooldown: 10s
Requires: Level 20
The keeper's bond with the earth creates a defensive shield that immobilizes the keeper for as long as this spell is active, but inflicts nature damage and a penalty to movement speed on any enemy that enters the field.
Thornblades Thornblades
Range: Personal
Activation: 60
Cooldown: 30s
Requires: Level 22
The keeper calls roots from beneath the earth to inflict physical damage on all enemies within the field created by One With Nature. The roots also knock enemies back unless they pass a physical resistance check.
Replenishment Replenishment
Requires: Level 25
No living thing can escape the cycle of life; all who fall return to the earth. The mage now regains some health whenever a keeper spell inflicts damage. When an enemy dies within the field of One With Nature, the body is consumed, giving the mage a large bonus to health regeneration for a short time.
Nature's Vengeance Nature's Vengeance
Range: Personal
Activation: 100
Cooldown: 60s
Requires: Level 28
The keeper summons gigantic roots from within the ground to attack all enemies in the area, impaling the opponents for a short time unless they pass a physical resistance check.



A very high area of effect non-friendly fire DPS is achievable when One With Nature is coupled with the Blood Mage spell Blood Wound which also paralyzes most enemies allowing One With Nature to more safely damage. To increase the damage further, with enough constitution, Nature's Vengeance can be used after the DoTs have been placed and the new Awakening spell Time Spiral can be used to plant yet another stackable Blood Wound and Nature's Vengeance if required. This technique becomes even more devastating with two mages and is likely safest with a rogue (for trap detecting as the mages need to get up close) and a tank (mages may still be vulnerable, after all they're expelling health). Using this strategy wearing the gloves Spirit of the Woods with its +30% spirit damage +30% nature damage would assist in steady damage output.

Codex entries[]

Codex entry: The City Elves Codex entry: The City Elves
Codex entry: The Cradle of Sulevin Codex entry: The Cradle of Sulevin
Codex entry: The Dalish Elves Codex entry: The Dalish Elves
Codex entry: The Emerald Graves Codex entry: The Emerald Graves
Codex entry: Keeper Zathrian Codex entry: Keeper Zathrian
Codex entry: The Tale of Iloren Codex entry: The Tale of Iloren
Codex entry: Vir Atish'an Codex entry: Vir Atish'an


  • As Keeper was not implemented as a specialization until Awakening, the Dalish Keepers and their Firsts seen in Origins do not actually have this specialization in terms of game mechanics (e.g. Zathrian is a blood mage instead).
  • Keeper makes an excellent third specialization for a traditional Caster-type Mage; in exchange for not being able to move, the Keeper gets a last line of defense against any enemies attempting to come near them. The constant damage inflicted may be small, but the reduced movement speed can allow the Mage time to set up offensive spells to deal with the immediate threat.
  • In Dragon Age II, with the Black Emporium DLC installed, Merrill will tell Hawke and their summoned mabari a story about a Keeper and their loyal courser hound, fending off the threats of the Dread Wolf, Fen'Harel.[21]
  • A Keeper's staff is crafted from the wood of the dahl'amythal, or "tree of Mythal," a tree respected by the Dalish that does not normally thrive in human settlements. These staves are given to a First upon replacing the former Keeper.[22]
  • Keepers wear rings of sylvanwood depicting Fen'Harel's betrayal of the elven gods as a reminder of their duty to protect their clan from him.[23]

See also[]

Keeper's Charm Keeper's Charm
Keeper's Ring Keeper's Ring
The Keeper's Ring The Keeper's Ring
Landmarks on the Plains Landmarks on the Plains
Robes of the High Keeper Robes of the High Keeper


  1. Robes of the High Keeper
  2. Codex entry: The Lost Temple of Dirthamen.
  3. Codex entry: The Lost Temple of Dirthamen.
  4. According to conversation with Merrill in Dragon Age II regarding the Sylvanwood Ring gift.
  5. Pramas, Chris. "Chapter Three: Focuses and Talents: Talents". Dragon Age RPG, Set 1 - Player's Guide. p.37.
  6. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 164
  7. According to Minaeve.
  8. Gauntlets of the True Path
  9. Dragon Age: Redemption
  10. All New Gameplay & Cinematics PC UI video.
  11. Codex entry: The Cradle of Sulevin
  12. The Guide of Falon'Din landmark
  13. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 108
  14. Codex entry: The Tale of Iloren
  15. Mentioned in Assuage Ameridan's Heirs.
  16. Conversation with Ashalle in Dalish Elf Origin.
  17. Mentioned by Ariane after the initial discussion with Hadley upon arrival on the Circle Tower.
  18. See the Keeper's Ring description.
  19. Landmarks in the Graves
  20. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, pp. 164-165.
  21. In Dragon Age II, according to conversation with Merrill in the Hawke mansion with the Black Emporium DLC installed.
  22. According to conversation with Velanna in front of the encounter tree in the city of Amaranthine.
  23. According to Merrill regarding the Sylvanwood Ring.