Orzammar is a great thaig and one of the two remaining dwarven kingdoms in Thedas. An underground metropolis, the thaig is located deep beneath the Frostback Mountains and was once the capital of the dwarven empire.
It is an awe–inspiring sight, a great city of stone standing within a vast cavern, poised over a sea of molten lava. There the forges ring loudest, and the finest smiths create works that are the envy of all races. Countless thaigs were lost in the First Blight, when the darkspawn poured out of the Deep Roads like smoke. With each generation, more of the Deep Roads had to be sealed, more thaigs lost forever. Now only Orzammar stands—the last bastion of the dwarven race and its finest creation.
According to the dwarven history, the dwarven empire once spread across all of Thedas, and that the underground city-fortresses called thaigs were almost beyond counting. Kal-Sharok was the capital then, home to all the noble houses, and Orzammar was simply the home of the mining and smith castes.
Orzammar, Kal-Sharok, Kal'Hirol, and nine other thaigs, are considered "great thaigs", as opposed to the numerous other thaigs as they were once the main centers of the dwarven empire.
At -1170 Ancient (25 TE) King Endrin Stonehammer moved the capital of the dwarven 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 and because of the turmoil in the Tevinter Imperium following the death of the Archon Darinius. This sparked the development of several construction projects in the city. The most famous of which is the Stonehammer Hall and the expansion of the Proving Grounds. However some years later, the taxes drained by Orzammar from Kal-Sharok's trade profits began to grow burdensome.
Following the outbreak of the First Blight, the dwarven empire was crumbling. Paragon Aeducan assumed the leadership of Orzammar and managed to push back the darkspawn. Despite his victory, it was not enough and after the end of the First Blight the darkspawn kept pushing; by -15 Ancient (1180 TE), the kingdom of Orzammar was assumed to be the last one still standing. Since then, the kingdom was in a steady decline by losing most of its outlying thaigs.
When the dwarves were fighting the war against the darkspawn during the Ancient Age, the Warrior Caste was dwindling with each generation as more able-bodied men perished in their prime without fathering true-born progeny to replenish their ranks. With each generation, more of the Deep Roads had to be sealed, more thaigs lost forever, and more of Orzammar's fighting forces diminished over time.
In -255 Ancient, Paragon Caridin made the world's first golem, a giant soldier of living stone and metal, and each one was an army. With the Paragon's golems, the dwarves began to retake their lost lands. In -248 Ancient, after six years of constant output, Caridin and his Anvil of the Void vanished, and with them, the process of golem manufacture.
Over time, the golems the dwarves still retained became damaged beyond repair; and the war against the darkspawn reverted back to taking a toll on the people of Orzammar. Although Orzammar has endured, the dwarves of Orzammar fear their perennial war against the darkspawn will eventually lead to their extinction.
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.
In Orzammar, things are solved quickly and with as much bloodshed as we can stand... and then a little bit more.
Dragon Age: Origins
In the eve of the Fifth Blight, King Endrin Aeducan passes away and the two candidates for the throne, Prince Bhelen Aeducan and Lord Pyral Harrowmont vie for power. This creates an internal strife in Orzammar which the Warden manages to solve by eventually choosing one of the two candidates as the new king of Orzammar.This leads to Orzammar sending forces to Ferelden for the purpose of defeating the Blight. In the epilogue, a dwarven Warden has also the option of requesting Ferelden to assist Orzammar.
All of the following quests are initiated, but not necessarily completed, in Orzammar itself.
- Main quests:
Seek out Steward Bandelor
A Lord's Trust: The First Task
A Prince's Favor: The First Task
A Lord's Trust/A Prince's Favor: The Second Task
Betrayed from Within
A Paragon of Her Kind
- Side quests:
A Lost Nug
A Mother's Hope
An Unlikely Scholar
Caged in Stone (unmarked)
Lost to the Memories
Of Noble Birth
Proving After Dark (unmarked)
The Chant in the Deeps
The Dead Caste
The Golem Registry
The Key to the City
The Shaper's Life (unmarked)
Thief in the House of Learning
- Surrounding environments:
These quests take place entirely outside of Orzammar, though they are filed under "Orzammar" in the journal.
The Gangue Shade (unmarked)
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Carta Hideout / Beraht's Hideout
Chamber of the Assembly
Orzammar chantry, if you complete the quest The Chant in the Deep.
Orzammar Diamond Quarter
Dust Town Home
Figor's Imports, locked when you first arrive.
Orzammar Hall of Heroes
Janar Armorers / Beraht's Shop
Orzammar Prison, encountered in The Exile quest.
Orzammar Royal Palace
Tapster's Tavern, a popular tavern of the area.
The Diamond Quarter is the home to the very pinnacle of dwarven society, the noble caste and the royal family. It is also the highest point in Orzammar, looking down upon the rest of the city. The many halls here contain the most important aspects of dwarven society and is not often seen by those of other castes. On some occasions, however, a select few of the merchant caste are allowed to set up stalls here and sell their wares directly to the nobles.
The Royal Palace sits here as does the estate of House Harrowmont. The Assembly resides next to the Palace, the home of Orzammar's bitter political battles. For those few outsiders engaging in diplomatic relations, a ceremonial Key to the City awaits, should they take it upon themselves to learn more of dwarven culture. The Shaperate lies next to the Assembly, the literal Memories of the dwarven society. If it is not recorded within the Shaperate, it is either completely unknown, misplaced in the Deep Roads or outright ignored.
The Commons is the largest and central portion of Orzammar, and serves as the home to the bulk of Orzammar’s population, particularly those of the merchant caste. The Commons is where most merchants, and those permitted from the Surface dwarves, peddle their wares. It is a respectable and well maintained sector, a far cry from the destitution of Dust Town, playing host to the Proving Grounds.
The Commons has many tiers. As a general rule, higher tiers are home to more powerful or influential dwarves. Warriors generally live higher than smiths, who dwell higher than artisans, and so forth. As a rule, though, the dwellings of the Commons are far simpler than those of the Diamond Quarter, and seldom extend as deep into the rock.
The lowest Commons tier rests just above a pool of lava spanned by a bridge that leads to the Proving Grounds which are the home of the honorable dwarven gladiatorial contests known simply as the "Provings". Merchants of every stripe, including surfacers, do their business here. There is always a great deal of activity on the streets, and regular patrols of soldiers keep order. Many passages lead from the Commons to Orzammar's mine works and to the Deep Roads, though many of the latter are sealed and heavily guarded.
The Dust Town is the poorest sector of Orzammar. The old palace of the thaig used to be located here but now it is in an appalling state of disrepair and ruin and is the veritable "seedy underbelly" of the city. The reason is that it is the home of the casteless, or "dusters" as they are informally known, dwarves who are believed to be rejected by the Stone and thus shunned by the rest of society and left to rot. The inhabitants of Dust Town have no rights and are not allowed to do work that is performed by any of the other castes and, as such, the majority turn to the Carta, a criminal organisation. Beyond crime, the only other means of survival are begging, "Noble Hunting" or hunting nugs.
Dust Town is a dangerous place and should an unwary outsider ever find their way in the midst of the Carta's territory, the local Dusters will feel no hesitation in relieving them of their possessions.
Party banter may be triggered at the following spots:
- On the bridge leading to the Proving and in the Hall of Heroes near the dwarven scholar.
- In the Diamond Quarter outside the Chamber of the Assembly.
One of your companions may make interesting remarks at certain spots:
- Just outside Tapster's Tavern
- Entering Tapster's Tavern
- Entering Dust Town
- Outside the Royal Palace in the Diamond Quarter
- Entering the Proving
- On path to the Deep Roads, before Mines Commander
- More than half of Orzammar's wealth comes from the sale of lyrium. In the Tevinter Imperium, it has been known to command a higher price than diamond. The dwarves sell very little of the processed mineral to the surface, giving the greater portion of what they mine to their own smiths, who use it in the forging of all truly superior dwarven weapons and armor. What processed lyrium is sold on the surface goes only to the Chantry, who strictly control the supply. From the Chantry, it is dispensed both to the templars, who make use of it in tracking and fighting maleficarum, and to the Circle.
- Prostitution exists in Orzammar, with the finest brothels being restricted to the highest caste dwarves, such as warrior caste.
- The pelts of red lions are greatly prized by the dwarves of Orzammar.
Codex entry: The City of Orzammar
Codex entry: Orzammar History: Chapter One
Codex entry: Orzammar History: Chapter Two
Codex entry: The Key to the City
Codex entry: Orzammar Politics
Codex entry: Life in Orzammar
Codex entry: A Note on Orzammar
Codex entry: Darktown's Deal
Stone Halls of the Dwarves, a book written by Brother Genitivi about dwarves.