The Dragon Age universe is rich with mythology and lore, some clearly written by Bioware themselves, and others written by fans. Dragon Age Inquisition in particular chooses to focus heavily around the mythology of the Fade, a mystical realm that houses a plethora of demons for you to vanquish.
As the player, your ultimate goal is to close off the tears in the Veil that separates the Fade from your world. On the surface, it seems simple, but the thought and inspiration that went into the creation and back story of the Fade is truly remarkable. Most of the mythology is encountered in one way or another throughout all three Dragon Age titles, but can often be easily over looked. What you don’t see on the other hand and might not know, is how much the series reflects real world mythology across many cultures. I decided to do a little research on the mythology behind Dragon Age Inquisition and the history of the Fade in particular to see how many cultural beliefs it actually mirrored and the results were quite interesting.
Let’s start at the beginning, as in the beginning of the entire Dragon Age universe, at the hands of what they call the “Maker”. The Maker is said to have first created the Fade for his well minded population of spirits to roam and create. Yes, that demented home in the sky that drops Pride and Terror Demons down on your head, once held gleeful little spirits and their shape shifting Legos. But the Maker got bored of his spirits, because they lacked creative thought, which was due to them not really having anything to inspire them to create things up in that big white room in the sky.
As a plan B, the Maker created Thedas, the physical land that we the player, spend most of our time surrounded by mortals and all our marvelous creations we made with our own free will. These two realms were separated by the Vale, a kind of mystical fabric that allowed the spirits to see down, but the mortals couldn’t see up to Fade. Having time to ponder over their newly made and clearly better liked siblings, the spirits became envious. Envy turned to rage and rage turned many of them into demons.
Now so far, the clearest think to real life mythology and religion here can be found mostly in the Christian beliefs of Creation. In Christianity, God (the Maker) creates Heaven and the angels first (the Fade and the Spirits). Although, God didn’t create Earth (Thedas) and humanity because the angels were too boring for him, and angels didn’t get jealous of humanity’s creation…at least not in the bible. Many legends pertaining to the Bible speak of angels being jealous of humans for their “souls” or even trying to prevent the creation of man. One such angel was known as Lucifer.
While some legends speak of Lucifer as being jealous of man for their higher stature as one of God’s creations, the Bible mostly attributes his downfall to his pride and longing for Gods throne. Now if we flip back to Dragon Age, we’ll find that the Maker also is said to have a throne in the Golden City, the only solid structure in the Fade. The Golden City was once home to the souls of humans who worshiped the Maker, until the Old Gods stepped in that is. Similar to the Greeks religious belief system known as Polytheism (or the belief in multiple gods and goddesses), some inhabitants believed that the Old Gods were the original beings.
These gods were seen in the form of dragons, but more specifically the European interpretation of dragons. See, in Asian cultures, primarily in ancient China and Japan, some dragons were believed to be gods, but they looked more like flying serpents and had no legs unlike the Eurpian versions. Now each of the Old Gods had their own roles, beauty, mystery, fire, and so on and so forth, but most importantly was the Dragon of Silence, named Dumat.
The Chantry (similar to the Christian Church) believed that these Old Gods were false deities, here to lure humanity away from their belief in the Maker, known as the “first sin”. This led the Maker to imprison the Old Gods underground leaving their minds to roam the Fade. But how could their minds access the Fade when they’re not spirits or demons? That’s where the mythology of the Fade starts to become a little more complex.
The Fade actually takes inspiration from multiple cultural beliefs, beyond my initial comparison to Christian Heaven. Later on in the Dragon Age mythology, it is said that the Fade becomes the temporary home of all dreamers while they sleep, excluding the Dwarfs, because they don’t dream, and are mostly left out of this whole belief. No love for Dwarfs in this universe I suppose. But those who do dream are allowed to create and mold as the original spirits did, but when they awaken they forget everything, except for mages.
Mages have the ability to tap into the Fade more closely than others, controlling it, and using it to fuel their magic. The idea of our dreams being an actual physical place, dates all the way back to Mesopotamia in 3100 BC where it was believed that the god of dreams physically carried our sleeping souls to the places we dreamed about. While the idea of being able to control your dreams, dates back to 2000 BC in Egypt, where those who had vivid or lucid dreams were said to be special, because they could talk directly to their gods and recieve healing or advice.
For the Mages of Dragon Age, this dream world tap to the Fade allowed the Old Gods to communicate to them and teach them forms of magic so that they could help free them. This resulted in a terrible mistake on the part of the Mages, more precisely the Magisters. Remember, never trust a dragon, even those ones in Dragon Tales. The Magisters, or upper house of the Imperial Senate, gave in to the words of Dumat and with the help of some especially dark magic, they physically entered the Fade. Their goal was to take over the throne of the Maker in the Golden City, what resulted was a bloodbath. The Maker cast out the Magisters, turning into Dark Spawn, blackening the city, and locking it away forever. From then on, the Golden City was known as the Black City and could never be reached by anyone in the Fade, but can always be seen on the horizon.
That’s just a smidgen of all the possible mythological connections one could make throughout Dragon Age Inquisition. I didn’t even get a chance to talk about the Inquisition itself or how The Fade also resembles cultures belief in “Limbo” or the demon types. There’s just so much to dive into and I encourage anyone who’s a fan of the series or just mythology in general to take some time to read up on it. Also, if you haven’t played Dragon Age Inquisition yet, what are you waiting for? There’s army of dragons to fight and a Veil to repair, get to it!