Concept art of an archdemon

The Old Gods are sleeping beings that were worshipped in the form of dragons by a significant number of Thedosians, specifically the people of the Tevinter Imperium, thousands of years ago. Legend holds that it was the Old Gods who initially taught mages how to use magic. The Archdemons are awakened Old Gods, tainted by the darkspawn.

Background Edit

Early history and imprisonment Edit

We dreamed up false gods, great demons
Who could cross the Veil into the waking world,
Turned our devotion upon them, and forgot you.

—From Threnodies 1

The true nature of the Old Gods is unknown. The Old Gods are not creators and even the people of ancient Tevinter attributed the creation of the world to a Maker like deity, although by a different name.[1]

The Chantry teaches that when the Maker turned his back on spirits, some of them grew jealous of the living. Those powerful enough whispered to the living[2] in dreams claiming that they were the true gods, the creators of the world and the living should bow down before them. Eventually, the living summoned them through the Veil. In the mortal realm these spirits took the form of dragons, winged Old Gods that ruled over the land.[3] The living started to worship them instead of the Maker, an act recognized as the "Original Sin." In fury the Maker cursed the Old Gods, imprisoning them in underground tombs where they would slumber eternally.[3]

Some accounts suggest that the Old Gods began whispering to humanity from the Golden City in -2800 Ancient, three hundred years after the arrival of humans in Thedas. They taught the dreamers of the Neromenian tribes magic, and these dreamers became the priests and kings of their people.[4] Originally the Neromenian tribes worshipped fallen heroes reborn as dragons, and with dreamers as their leaders they began to instead worship the dreamers' gods, also as dragons.[5]

Scholars assume that the Old Gods must have been real at one point, but most agree that they were actual dragons of a magnitude not known today, and impressive enough to frighten ancient peoples into worshipping them. Some even claim that these dragons slumber as a form of hibernation, not as a result of the Maker's wrath.[3][6]

The Tome of Koslun, the sacred Qunari scripture explicitly says that "the Old Gods were like unto dragons, as the first human kings were like unto ordinary men".[7]

Worship in Tevinter Edit

Lost idol

An ancient Tevinter Idol found in the Western Approach. Relief carvings on the slab depict worshipers of Razikale engaged in a religious ceremony

The demons who would be gods,
Began to whisper to men from their tombs within the earth.
And the men of Tevinter heard and raised altars
To the pretender-gods once more

—From Threnodies 5

Legend maintains that the minds of the Old Gods continued to roam the Fade like any other dreaming individuals' mind would[8], and they were able to contact Neromenian dreamers once more[3][6]. Honorary[9] Archon, Thalsian accredited his discovery of blood magic in -1595 Ancient to the Old God Dumat and established the first temples dedicated to the Old Gods to show his gratitude[3][6][10]. Dragons became equated everywhere with divine power.[3][6][11]

Four centuries later, in -1195 Ancient Darinius founded the Tevinter Imperium and established the magisterium from the priesthood of the Old Gods[9][10]. In the days of the Tevinter Imperium, the Old Gods were a pantheon of deities widely revered by most citizens, with temples and priesthoods dedicated to their veneration, such as the acolytes of Dumat, who swore oaths of silence in homage to their lord.[12] Each god had a High Priest, and the seven of them were called the Magisters Sidereal.[13] Holidays were popularly celebrated in tribute to the Old Gods, namely the Feast of Urthemiel, which spanned full twelve days.[14]

During this period, the Old Gods communicated directly with their worshippers, issuing explicit commands and instructions. There was also an equivalent of the Chant of Light, for the Old Gods, such as the Verses of Dumat.

Downfall Edit

Then a voice whispered within their hearts,
You are the Lords of the earth!
Go forth to claim the empty throne
Of Heaven and be gods.

—From Threnodies 8

In -395 Ancient the Magister's Sidereal physically entered the Golden City, an act recognized as the "Second Sin". The Chantry holds that they did so at the behest of the Old Gods to open "the unreachable gate" in exchange for "power and glory beyond all reckoning"[15]. The City turned black and the magisters were cast out as the first darkspawn, inadvertently causing the First Blight.[16][17]

While the Chantry insists that the darkspawn tainted Old God Dumat and turned him into the first Archdemon, some ancient lore says it was Dumat who created the darkspawn and not the other way around.[3][9]

No more did the Old Gods whisper in his ear.
No more did he hear any voice in his dreams
But his own, and the mutterings of jealous spirits,
And he knew that this silence boded ill.

—From Silence 3

In the aftermath of the event, all of the Old Gods suddenly stopped communicating with their followers.[18] The First Blight led to a crisis of faith across the Imperium, shaken at the devastation their own god relentlessly championed.[19] Several temples were razed by betrayed believers, killing priests to the Old Gods as retribution for their unheeded prayers.[20] Finally, during the Transfiguration[21] that followed Archon Hessarian's conversion in -160 Ancient,[22] worship of the Old Gods in Tevinter was forcefully[23] replaced with the monotheistic worship of the Maker. Those remaining faithful to them were slaughtered in a terrible bloodbath.[24]

Cults devoted to the Old Gods are rumored to still exist:

This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Until We Sleep.

  • One such cult was lead by Aurelian Titus. He wished to follow in the steps of Thalsian and struggled with the Imperial Chantry to restore the old religion until his death in 9:40 Dragon, when the power of his cult was broken.[21]

  • The Blood Band led by Fallstick is another example.
  • BioWare canon
    The following characters, lore and events in this section are non-canon in Dragon Age and exist only within the Dragon Age tabletop RPG.

    • The cult known as The Last Moon worshipped Lusacan in the early Dragon Age, seeking to cause a dreadful battle that will blanket Thedas in a "night that will never end".[25]

    The Call Edit

    It was the most beautiful thing she’d ever heard. Aching and ethereal, it seemed to pull her toward a memory of nostalgic bliss that she had somehow lost — but that she would do anything to recover. Anything at all. ― Isseya[26]

    All darkspawn constantly hear the call of the slumbering Old Gods and search for them. When they find one, they corrupt it and it becomes an Archdemon, proceeding to unite them into a horde and unleash a new Blight. Hence many believe that with the death of all Old Gods the Blights will end.[6][27]

    At some time after their Joining, Grey Wardens also start hearing this call. As known since the First Blight, this is the actual Calling and the moment when Grey Wardens know they must descend into the Deep Roads to find their death in battle.

    The call of the Old Gods becomes physically audible when close to one of their prisons.[28]

    Bregan describes the call of the Old Gods as a sound of "terrible beauty" and "awful yearning", while the Architect considers darkspawn pursuit for the ancient dragons as a never-ending aspiration towards a perfection they can never have, as it is corrupted in the instant they touch it.[29] A Grey Warden wrote that the music is "almost a voice, at once unearthly and beautiful" that instigates a sense of a "presence watching and calling", if not the Maker.[30] Cole hears the call in the Western Approach and feels that it has "an urgency that sped his heart"[31] and is different from the song of lyrium.[32]

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

    The Architect himself is free of the call and wishes to free his brethren of their compulsion. He created a version of Joining that uses the blood of Grey Wardens to "awaken" darkspawn, turning them into sapient Disciples. While many welcomed the newly-gained freedom, the deprivation of the "sweet call" drove some of the darkspawn mad, including the Mother.

    This section contains spoilers for:
    Dragon Age: Inquisition.

    Corypheus is able to emulate the call of the Old Gods, speaking through the taint to both Grey Wardens and darkspawn,[33] and even Carta dwarves who have drunk darkspawn blood.[34] Only those in close vicinity were originally affected by this ability,[33] but with the help of the Nightmare demon who amplified its power[35] Corypheus managed to make all Wardens of Orlais hear the call.[36]

    The Souls Edit

    Some things are worth preserving in this world. Make of that what you will. ― Morrigan[37]

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

    • The Architect originally intended to taint the entirety of Thedas and hunt down the remaining Old Gods in 9:10 Dragon.[38]

    This section contains spoilers for:
    Dragon Age: Inquisition.

    Slaying an awakened Archdemon is not an easy feat:

    This section contains spoilers for:
    Dragon Age: Origins.

    Upon death its soul automatically passes to the nearest tainted creature and is reborn, twisting the new body into the preferred shape, unless the killing blow is struck by a Grey Warden. A darkspawn is an empty, soulless vessel, but the Grey Warden is not, and the soul that travels into them is destroyed along with the host.[14][39]

    And there might be other options:

    This section contains spoilers for:
    Dragon Age: Origins.

    Flemeth sent Morrigan with the Warden in order to preserve the soul of Urthemiel through an ancient ritual. Morrigan explains on the eve of battle with the Archdemon that an unborn child conceived with a Warden who recently undertook the Joining will lure the soul of the dying Old God and will subsequently be free of the taint.

    This section contains spoilers for:
    Dragon Age: Inquisition.

    If the Warden agreed to Morrigan's offer, her child, Kieran possesses uncanny knowledge for his age[40] and has strange dreams. Eventually Flemeth, who carries the soul of Mythal, locates him and takes the Old God soul into herself.

    The Old Gods Edit

    Urthemiel, WoT

    Urthemiel, the Dragon of Beauty[41]

    The Tevinters worshipped seven Old Gods. The first—and the leader of the others—was called Dumat, the Dragon of Silence.

    A Chantry scholar conjectured that there might have been an unknown eighth Old God represented by constellation "Draconis" that was stricken from historical record.

    Notes Edit

    • The Grey Wardens know the locations of the prisons of each of the Old Gods; however, they are deep underground and cannot easily be accessed by the Wardens without cutting through thousands of darkspawn.[42]
    • Members of the Legion of the Dead found a former prison of an Old God below Heidrun Turning filled with darkspawn corpses who died praying to their god. The place instigated irrational dread in the seasoned dwarves.[43]
    • David Gaider hinted that the Old Gods could have been based on the elven gods or the Forgotten Ones, and that the second group had more reasons for that.[1]

    See also Edit

    Ico codex entry Codex entry: The Old Gods

    References Edit

    1. 1.0 1.1 BSN David Gaider (2010). "The Chantry, The Maker, The Old Gods: questions" . The BioWare Forum. Retrieved on March 23, 2015.
    2. Codex entry: The Maker's First Children
    3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Dragon Age: Origins Collector's Edition: Prima Official Game Guide
    4. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 12
    5. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, pp. 121-122
    6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Codex entry: The Old Gods
    7. Mentioned by the Sten as an Arishok in Dragon Age: Those Who Speak, chapter 2.
    8. BSN David Gaider (2009). "The Chantry, The Maker, The Old Gods: questions" . The BioWare Forum. Retrieved on December 6, 2015.
    9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 122
    10. 10.0 10.1 Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Player's Guide, set 3, p. 6
    11. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 37
    12. Codex entry: Dumat, the Dragon of Silence
    13. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 54
    14. 14.0 14.1 Codex entry: Archdemon
    15. Canticle of Silence 1:16, Dragon Age: The World of Thedas Volume 2 p.57
    16. Codex entry: The Chant of Light: The Blight
    17. Codex entry: Corypheus
    18. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 176
    19. Note: Memories Etched in Stone and Blood
    20. Codex entry: The History of the Chantry: Chapter 1
    21. 21.0 21.1 Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 44
    22. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 46
    23. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 39
    24. Codex entry: Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts
    25. Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Game Master's Guide Set 2, p.42
    26. Dragon Age: Last Flight, Chapter 3
    27. Dialogue between Solas and Blackwall.
    28. According to the Ancient Warden Logbook found in the Western Approach.
    29. Dragon Age: The Calling, Chapter 6
    30. Codex entry: Regarding the Calling
    31. Dragon Age: Asunder, Chapter 9
    32. Dragon Age: Asunder, Chapter 11
    33. 33.0 33.1 Codex entry: A Change of Course
    34. See Codex entry: Praise Corypheus! and the dialogue with Gerav in the Legacy DLC
    35. According to a dialogue between Vivienne and Solas
    36. According to the Warden ally during Here Lies the Abyss
    37. Dragon Age: Origins, on the eve of the Battle of Denerim
    38. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 305
    39. According to Riordan, on the eve of the Battle of Denerim
    40. Talking to Kieran (all backgrounds)
    41. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, pp. 122-123
    42. Mentioned in Dragon Age: The Calling.
    43. Dragon Age logo - new Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 106
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