Red lyrium is a rare, more potent and more addictive form of raw lyrium created when normal lyrium is corrupted by the darkspawn taint. It can be handled by anyone and apparently, does not require dilution and ingestion to take effect. All that is required is to be near the mineral.
Red lyrium has the ability to grant certain magical abilities that are unique. For example, it is known to grant the ability to animate objects and even the power to make things float. It also seems to enhance templar and physical abilities and when processed into a Primeval Lyrium Rune, it will increase a weapon's attack speed.
Eventually though, long term exposure to red lyrium drives all of its users insane. This madness affects even normally resistant dwarves. The symptoms seem to vary. For some, they are driven to madness by a 'song' which compels them to try to force others to hear it; usually through depraved means. For others, their penchant for violence and paranoia are exacerbated. Physical changes also emerge such as red lyrium veins appearing on the skin, red eyes, or the mineral starts growing on the body. If abused too much, the red lyrium will shatter in their hands and cause their body to become petrified. Only Seekers of Truth are resistant to its close contact corruption. It is also known to thin the Veil, allowing Spirits and apparitions to interact with the physical world.
A red lyrium idol was worshiped by the inhabitants of an ancient thaig thousands of years ago. Even before the rise of the darkspawn, contact with the thaig was somehow lost, and it could not be resumed because of the arrival of the darkspawn.
In 9:31 Dragon, an expedition into the Deep Roads rediscovered this thaig. The expedition was led by the two dwarven brothers Bartrand and Varric Tethras and the human Hawke. While exploring the thaig, Hawke and Varric found the idol. When they showed it to Bartrand, he betrayed them and stole the idol intending to sell it for a fortune and left them to die within the thaig. In the following years, as a result of prolonged exposure to the red lyrium idol, Bartrand gradually succumbed to insanity.The idol ended up in the hands of Knight-Commander Meredith Stannard who forged a sword from it. She was corrupted by its power and died during the Kirkwall Rebellion in 9:37 Dragon, petrified in red lyrium after a failed attempt to draw more power from the sword.
In the aftermath of the destruction of the Temple of Sacred Ashes, red lyrium began appearing all over southern Thedas. A splinter faction of the Templar Order, calling themselves the Red Templars, begin to consume red lyrium, corrupting their bodies and transforming themselves into monsters. Autopsies on Red Templar corpses has shown their relationship with the red lyrium is parasitic; the red lyrium essentially "eats" the Templar from the inside out as it grows.According to Bianca Davri's research, red lyrium is lyrium corrupted by the Blight. This proves that lyrium is alive as the Blight can only taint living things. In In Hushed Whispers, it is also shown red lyrium can "infect" the landscape and grow into massive deposits if the Breach becomes wide enough, presumably due to the influence of Corypheus.
- ↑ Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 94
- ↑ Haunted
- ↑ YouTube (November 22, 2014). Dragon Age: Inquisition - Meeting Bianca (the real one).