Codex: Races of Thedas

Table of Contents:


1. Darkspawn
2. Dwarves
3. Elves
4. Humans
5. Qunari
6. Kossith
7. Scaled Ones

Races of Thedas


Below are a list of the sapient humanoid species found, presently or historically, in Thedas.

1. Darkspawn


Darkspawn are humanoid tainted creatures that mostly dwell in the underground of Thedas. When the darkspawn uncover one of the Old Gods, they expose it to the taint, changing it into an Archdemon, which then leads them in an attack against the surface world called a Blight. The darkspawn are perhaps the single greatest threat to all of Thedas; they are bloodthirsty, exceptionally numerous and willing to indiscriminately kill or corrupt all in their path.

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Darkspawn are not playable in our game, outside of occasional use as NPCs i.e. non-player characters; monsters to be fought. We expect players to be familiar with the Dragon Age universe and its races, however if you need more information on them such can be found at this external source.

2. Dwarves


Strong, stocky, and shorter than any other humanoid race, the dwarves are skilled builders and boast a long tradition of courage and martial skill that has served them well in their millennia-long battle against the darkspawn. Dwarves are known to be increasingly infertile due to their proximity to the darkspawn taint, a situation which has given rise to anxiety for the future of the race, as well as the invention of noble hunters to bolster the children born to noble houses. Due to their underground life, dwarves have developed superior vision in the dark.

Dwarves once developed a huge, great empire which spread across vast underground networks of twelve great thaigs that spanned the breadth of Thedas with its population outnumbering both the humans and the elves. However their world was all but destroyed during the First Blight, and they are now a race in decline. The single-mindedness of the dwarves is credited for the race's survival. Their ability to dedicate their efforts to a cause helped them survive in conditions that no other race would have long been able to and gave rise to a level of technology that far surpasses anything else in Thedas.

Dwarves are responsible for introducing the common trade tongue, trade itself, and currency to humanity. They have mastered clockwork, mechanical weaponry, and limited steam power. Dwarven clockwork, while uncommon, is notable, as time-telling in Thedas is inexact. Most of the wealth of the dwarves comes from selling processed lyrium to the mages of Thedas. The Chantry holds a monopoly on lyrium trade (in order to maintain control over templars and mages) along with the dwarves, but there remains a flourishing black market of the substance dominated on the dwarven end of the so-called partnership.

Unlike the other races, dwarves do not naturally enter the Fade as they do not usually dream and lack magical ability. In fact there is no recorded exception to their inability to learn spellcasting however they are not completely barred from the Fade and may enter it in exceptional circumstances. This is reflected in their resistance to magic, and accounts for their high tolerance to lyrium exposure.

Unlike many other cultures in Thedas, dwarves do not worship anthropomorphic gods. Instead, their philosophy promotes personal excellence and an almost intimate tie to the Stone that houses them. Referring reverentially to "the Stone", the dwarves speak of it as being alive. They are the Stone's children; they respect her, they fear her, they cherish her, and they give thanks to her for protecting them and providing them with her bounty. This religion has been practiced for two thousand years by the dwarves. Dwarves also possess a unique ability called "Stone sense"; a talent for subterranean navigation believed derived from the Stone. Stone sense is described as the ability to hear the distant song of lyrium. This connection allows dwarves to sense a passageway before reaching it and allows dwarves to navigate the Deep Roads without getting hopelessly lost. Dwarves who've lived on the surface for a long time gradually lose this ability and those born on the surface appear to not possess it at all.

Their other cultural beliefs are more akin to ancestor worship. Dwarves who lead a strong and noble life are said to strengthen the Stone when they die, becoming one of the Ancestors. Those who are ignoble or disgraced would weaken the Stone and are therefore rejected by it for all eternity. Surface dwarves and casteless are believed to be rejected by the Stone. Every once in a while, a dwarf is declared by the Assembly to be particularly noble. If the required motion is passed in the Assembly, these dwarves become Paragons and are revered during their lives as living Ancestors. Modern dwarven social hierarchy is otherwise ruled by complex, interrelated, and rigid castes: the casteless, the servants, the artisans, the miners, the smiths, the merchants, the warriors, and the nobles.

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Dwarves are playable. We expect players to be familiar with the Dragon Age universe and its races, however if you need more information on them such can be found at this external source.

3. Elves


Long ago, the elves were the dominant race on Thedas, and their advanced civilization was based on nature, the Fade, and magic. After the fall of their great city of Arlathan and the empire of Elvhenan, plunder by the Tevinter Imperium and the subsequent generations of slavery, the elves lost most of their cultural heritage and identity. They attempted to rebuild their society in the Dales, but after three centuries the Dales fell to one of the Chantry's Exalted Marches. Since then, the elves have separated into two distinct groups: the Dalish, who choose to lead nomadic lives and strive to keep elven culture alive rather than submit, and the City Elves, who live alongside Humans, usually as impoverished outcasts, and have adopted many Human customs. Many elves are still held as slaves within Tevinter, and many others have joined the Qunari, as converts to the Qun, in hopes for better lives. Overall, the elves are now a people associated with poverty, crime and barbarism, and are often used as scapegoats for humanity's difficulties. In Ancient Tevene elves were called "rattus". Modern Humans use the racial slurs "knife ears," "slant-eared" or, less cruelly, "rabbit.". Though most of the elven language has been lost, they once referred to themselves as "elvhen," which means "the People".

Elves are typically shorter than Humans and have a slender, lithe build, larger eyes, and pointed ears. Elves see better in the dark than Humans, and their eyes glint like those of a cat in the dark.

Elves breeding with non-elves results in the birth of an elf-blooded child, who will physically resemble their non-elven parent. The concept of being elf-blooded is a purely legal distinction, rather than a genetic one. Elf-blooded individuals could not produce an elven child together either, as they are completely Human (or Dwarven, Qunari, etc. depending on which race the elven parent mates with) and inherit no elven genetics, etc., whatsoever from their elven parent. The elven genome has been described as "adaptive" and elven reproduction in this regard. Being elf-blooded carries great stigma in Thedas, as the subjugated status of elves is seen as a mark of shame on one's parentage. The potential cost to social status is such that some elf-blooded strive to conceal their parentage at all costs. Similarly, these individuals can be looked down upon by full-blooded elves.

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Elves are playable. We expect players to be familiar with the Dragon Age universe and its races, however if you need more information on them such can be found at this external source.

If you want to play an elf, you'll need to explain why your character chose not to follow Solas and/or why they've remained where they have. Our "World State - Elves" section explains why we need this info.


4. Humans


Humans are the most numerous, yet also the most contentious of all the races of Thedas. Only four times have they ever united beneath a single banner, the last being centuries ago. The monotheistic faith of the Chant of Light plays a major role in human society. The majority of humanity in Thedas descended from numerous human tribes. Humans are probably the most culturally diverse race in Thedas as they have half a dozen nations of their own, each with different customs and traditions.

The majority of humans in Thedas are Andrastians, though there are also significant minorities following other religions. For example, many humans in Rivain willingly converted to the Qun, and certain tribes of humans, such as the Avvar, still follow their own pantheon of gods. Andrastians are also divided among themselves: while the nations of southern Thedas follow the Chantry led by the Divine, who is always female, in Val Royeaux, while Tevinter has its own Imperial Chantry led by the Imperial Divine, who is always male, in Minrathous. The two churches are mainly separated by their views on magic and the roles of each gender: the Imperial Chantry is much more tolerant of magic (the Imperial Divine is actually a mage) and allows male priests to rise in the higher ranks of the clergy. Elsewhere, the Chantry maintains heavy oversight of the Circle of Magi by way of the Templar Order.

Humans occasionally procreate with other races, though doing so is still taboo. Elf-blooded children, for example, are those sired by a human and elven parent. The elf-blooded individual to be born of such a union is phenotypically human and do not inherit the traits of their elven parent.

Children between humans and dwarves are extremely rare because of the low fertility rate of dwarves in addition to the small chances of producing offspring with other races in general. Half-dwarves are shorter than humans but taller than dwarves. Furthermore, it is more often that such mating would happen with surface dwarves as such union would be heavily stigmatized in Orzammar.

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Humans are playable. We expect players to be familiar with the Dragon Age universe and its races, however if you need more information on them such can be found at this external source. Please note, there's a good chance the "Fex" are a human tribe, which is why we excluded them from the list.

5. Qunari


The word "Qunari" literally translates to "People of the Qun". Qunari refers to both a race and a culture, with those outside of the Qun commonly confusing the two terms.

Qunari, as a race, is the umbrella term most commonly used to describe the white-haired metallic-skinned race of large humanoids that govern the islands of Par Vollen and Seheron, as well as the settlement of Kont-Aar in northern Rivain, and Qundalon in the Anderfels. Most Qunari are followers of a religion known as the Qun, those of their race who do not follow this religion are not permitted to be part of Qunari culture under any circumstances. A Qunari that abandons the Qun is renamed "Tal-Vashoth". While a Qunari that was never introduced to the Qun in the first place, such as perhaps children of Tal-Vashoth, are known simply as "Vashoth".

Ethnic Qunari are taller and more physically robust than humans. They have skin of varying metallic colors (such as gold, bronze, and silver), white hair, pointed ears, and vivid eyes with colors like violet, red, silver, or yellow. Most Qunari have horns. The horns themselves have no nerve endings and can be removed, however. Hornlessness is also a rare genetic variation in Qunari, akin to red hair in humans. Those born without horns are considered special and are often given prestigious roles in Qunari society. Culturally, Qunari associate not having horns with being imposing or scary, and because of this Tal-Vashoth often decide to remove their own horns. Unlike other races in Thedas, Qunari do not adorn themselves with tattoos. Instead they make use of war paint called Vitaar. This paint is made from a substance toxic to all races except for racially-born Qunari themselves. Vitaar hardens the skin around the face to give it a metal like quality while retaining flexibility.

Qunari, as a culture, extends beyond ethnic origin. There are, for example, Elven Qunari, who are fully Elven racially-speaking yet who have utterly embraced the teachings of the Qun. This applies to any non-ethnic Qunari race: Elves, Dwarves, and Humans. To differentiate them from ethnic Qunari, within Qunari society, these non-traditional followers of the Qun are called "Viddathari". The Qun is the religion of the Qunari, though it is closer to a philosophy than a full-fledged religion. It governs every part of Qunari life, and even the governing structure is dictated by it. It gives every Qunari a defined and fixed place in their society, either as a soldier (part of the body), a craftsman (part of the mind) or a priest (part of the soul).

Historically, Qunari have tried to repeatedly conquer other nations within Thedas with Tevinter being, perhaps, their most long-standing enemy. In fact, the two peoples are once again at war.

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Qunari are playable. We expect players to be familiar with the Dragon Age universe and its races, however if you need more information on them, or the Qun, such can be found at this external source.

6. Kossith

Kossith was the name of the Qunari before the foundation of the Qun. Kossith may refer to the actual name of the race, or the name of the culture from which the current-day Qunari descend from. It remains unknown if the term referred to the one specific race or a group of races. Today, the term is only known by those of academic circles. Within Qunari society itself, the term is not common knowledge and only the priesthood would have records of this ancient name.

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Kossith are not playable in our game, as they appear to be the historical ancestors of modern Qunari (something that has been confirmed by DA game developers). We won't feature this race with any significance in-game, but players are welcome to read more about them via this external source.

7. Scaled Ones

A race of scaled humanoids that once waged war against the Dwarves.

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Scaled Ones are not playable in our game, as they appear to be a historical/extinct race. We won't feature this race with any significance in-game, but players are welcome to read more about them via this external source.