Facial tattoos serve an important function in several cultures in Thedas.
Among dwarves, the casteless are "branded" to set them apart from regular dwarven citizens. Other dwarves may have a different pattern of facial tattoos, though this is not common. Grim tattoos are also applied at the "funerals" of the dwarves who join the Legion of the Dead.
- Main article: Blood Writing
—From Codex entry: Vallaslin: Blood Writing
When a Dalish Elf comes of age, they are marked with intricate tattoos representing one of the elven gods. The tattooing is preceded by meditation on the gods and the ways of the Dalish, and by purifying the body and the skin. It is not known whether this practice was part of the worship of elven gods in ancient Elvhenan or is a more recent development. As Ilen says to Hawke, Dalish ink is very valuable to them, Merrill said to Fenris that blood is used to make their tatoos.
Tattoos are uncommon among city elves, though the Warden, if a city elf, may choose to wear tattoos of the same designs available to human characters.
According to Zevran, there are some tattoos sacred to the Crows of Antiva, and Antivans may also have tattoos for aesthetic purposes. Zevran claims to have tattoos on his back and other places, as he intimates in banter with Leliana.
Dragon Age: Origins
The Warden may choose to have facial tattoos, with sliders for color and intensity. The selection is limited by origin story: specifically, the Dalish, Dwarf Commoner, and Dwarf Noble have unique tattoos; the remaining three origins use the regular set. Also note that by default Dalish Elves and Dwarf Commoners will have a tattoo for story reasons (though this can be removed during character creation). Note that even if the Dwarven Commoner removes his or her face brand during character creation, other characters will still make reference to it as if it were still there, and still refer derisively to the Warden as "brand".
Dragon Age II
Hawke has the ability to chose from several tattoos.