Chapter 1: Earth vs. Thedas: Geography And Species Time
We’re starting from the ground up, quite literally, in an attempt to make the issues faced by a character out of their world a bit easier to comprehend. Basic things we understand about each planet in question, because sometimes the basics are things we take for granted.
Our friendly home world, this rock in the cosmos is home to approximately 7 billion people as of October 31, 2011 according to the United Nations Population Fund, and on March 12, 2012 according to the United States Census Bureau. It has one natural satellite, called the Moon. We are not good at naming things and we might as well have named our world ‘dirt’. Earth has four seasons, denoted by four separate equinoxes. Our current calendar comprised of three hundred and sixty five days (or six if it’s a Leap Year) divided into twelve months with thirty to thirty one days (February is a weird outlier and betrays our expectations). Each day is twenty four hours, and we will touch on this later.
Earth is big (we’re talking 510,072,000 km squared or 196,940,000 sq mi) . It has seven continents and as a planet is comprised of a ridiculous amount of water. We’re not the Blue Planet for nothing ladies and gents. The oceans cover an area of 3.618×10 8 km 2 with a mean depth of 3682 m, resulting in an estimated volume of 1.332×10 9 km 3 . It’s a lot of water. We’re used to having water everywhere. We have entire weather cycles devoted to the movement of this water through our atmosphere, up to and including things like ‘tsunamis’ and ‘hurricanes’. Natural disasters are things we tend to grin and bear, and patch back up when it’s over.
California, for instance, exists in a hilarious state of near constant drought with enough earthquakes to make the average Californian look at anything less than a 5.0 on the Richter scale as nothing. (Californians writing these sorts of fics may want to remember how very little they care about the world moving under their feet.)
Along with our fabulous collection of seasons we also have varying climates and biomes. We’ve got everything from frozen tundra to deserts that stretch as far as the eye can see. On the whole, most of the population of people who get stuck in Thedas tend to be from temperate climates. The closer to the equator and the Gulf Stream you get, the warmer you’re used to.
The sentient and sapient species that dwell on planet Earth are, to put it bluntly, Homo sapiens sapiens. You know that whole thing where your species was called homo sapiens? That is a lie. You belong to a species that is properly known as the Anatomically Modern Human. Yup. We’ve actually evolved past being homo sapiens. Though, in a pinch, we’re still considered part of that species. Subspecies life is a great life guys. We’ll get into this fun later. (It will be worth it, and you will cry because of possibilities.) This species is the only one. Dolphins and primates, while we love them, are not going about getting stuck in civilization so they are considered outliers and thus shall not be counted.
We have a variety of species on this planet that are not sapient and sentient (that’s really important guys, we call things like that ‘animals’). Generally speaking, our fauna are not really out to kill us. Our flora are not out to kill us (listen Australia, if you just left the death continent and moved out you would have so much less to complain about you outliers). Most animal and plant related deaths come not from animals actively seeking to wreck our days but because homo sapiens have this hysterical inability to know when to stop messing with things. Do. Not. Poke. The. Rattlesnake. With. A. Stick. You know what we have that’s cool though? Fossils. Yup. I went there. We have big ol’ fossils of ridiculously large animals that died out and thank god they did .
Do you wanna fight a T-Rex? Yes? You are an outlier and shall not be counted. All of Earth’s large super predators and their food supplies died out millions of years ago. Why? Because a big rock fell from the sky and burned up a good chunk of the air. (I’m summarizing the event so much, but that’s the basics. Dinos needed ridiculous amounts of oxygen we don’t have anymore. Amen. Good-bye Little Foot.) We’ve since started to whittle down our oxygen supply with wonderful things like pollution and deforestation, but we’ll get back to that.
Point is, Earth is a pretty big and pretty chill place to be. We’re not, for the most part, struggling to survive. We’ve got food, water, places to live. Again, for the most part. We will get into the disparity of first world versus third world countries later. And yup, it’s going to be a bit awful. I will avoid pictures. Google them yourselves.
Oh, now we’re having some fun. See, Thedas is a fictional continent on a fictional world. Note how I did not say it was the world. But, as Thedas is short for The Dragon Age Setting, we’re going to go with ‘Thedas is the continent and Thedas is the world’. I live on Earth. We’re not good at naming things. Here is what we concrete know about Thedas, as collated from the games themselves, the Wikia, the Dragon Age Tabletop Game (I know, I went there), and miscellaneous sources like Patrick’s twitter.
Thedas has two moons. They are called, and swear to god you need to remember this, Satina as the secondary and fuck if we know for the primary. Make it up . There’s a lot we don’t know about Thedas, so you’re going to have to make up quite a bunch. Here’s some fun conjecture we have based on what we know. As you go north on the continent of Thedas, it gets warmer. That means, and say this with me now, Tevinter is closer to the equator than Ferelden. Ferelden is cold as balls. To quote the codex:
“Thedas is bounded to the east by the Amaranthine Ocean, to the west by Tirashan Forest and the Hunterhorn Mountains, to the south by the snowy wastes that lie beyond the Orkney Mountains, and to the north by Donark Forest.
The word "Thedas" is Tevinter in origin, originally used to refer to lands that bordered the Imperium. As the Imperium lost its stranglehold on conquered nations, more and more lands became Thedas, until finally people applied the name to the entire continent.
The northern part of Thedas is divided amongst the Anderfels, the Tevinter Imperium, Antiva, and Rivain, with the islands held by the Qunari just off the coast. Central Thedas consists of the Free Marches, Nevarra, and Orlais, with Ferelden to the south.
What lies beyond the snowy wastes is a mystery. The freezing temperatures and barren land have kept even the most intrepid cartographers at bay. Similarly, the western reaches of the Anderfels have never been fully explored, even by the Anders themselves. We do not know if the dry steppes are shadowed by mountains, or if they extend all the way to a nameless sea.
There must be other lands, continents or islands, perhaps across the Amaranthine or north of Par Vollen, for the Qunari arrived in Thedas from somewhere, but beyond that deduction, we know nothing.
--From In Pursuit of Knowledge: The Travels of A Chantry Scholar, by Brother Genitivi.”
Thank you Brother Genitivi. We’re going to have a lot of things from this man. Learn to love Brother Genitivi. He is dry as paint, but he gets the job done.
So what we know is that Thedosians know nothing . Now, we can suppose there is at least one other continent. There’s a creepy organization known as the Executors who are mysterious representatives who speak "on behalf of powers across the sea", presumably entities from beyond the Amaranthine and Boeric Oceans. They are creepy, creep out Leliana, and by all means feel free to be creeped out by them. Literally, the Executors are like terrible ghost stories.
“You will hear no more from us. Our intention was to watch, and we have seen enough. Corypheus threatens us all, and the Inquisition is Thedas's only hope for stopping him. Remember that, for the moment, we are not your enemy. As a gesture of goodwill, we share our knowledge. May it prove valuable in your coming battle.
On behalf of powers across the sea, The Executors”
For things that don’t exist they have awful big opinions.We’ll get back to them later, because I love them so much.
Thedas has… not as much water as Earth. That’s ok. They have much more trees and a lot of disparity in their little section of the world. The sheer amount of disparity in that weather could thus lead to… some more conjecture.
I’m hypothesizing that Thedas as a world is smaller than Earth. Not super small, like Pluto. But small like Mars. Which means that as a mass it doesn’t have nearly as big of a gravitational pull as say, Earth does. If you’ve ever read the Princess of Mars series, you know exactly where you could be going with this. But, it’s conjecture and frankly not a solid fact. The size of Thedas is thus left up to you as the author. At least two continents, and the continent of Thedas itself takes about as much time to travel across as say, Europe used to before we had actual technology.
The sapient and sentient species (as far as we know, because for all I know DA4 could have some weird plant people that look like jellyfish) of Thedas are primarily comprised of humans, dwarves, elves (modern and Elvhen), kossith (also called Qunari, Tal-Vashoth, Vashoth, or giants), high dragons (Old Gods included, the creepy things they are), Darkspawn (oh yes, they count in their creepy Awakened and have actual military structure are you kidding me way), Titans, sylvans, spirits, and demons. Fun times.
At this point I need to say something really obvious. The flora and fauna in Thedas are actually out to kill you. The ground is sentient and it tried to kill you. The only thing in Thedas that has categorically been proven to not be out to kill you at any point in time is the nugs . That’s right, those naked little rabbit things with their creepy yet somehow cute little people hands are the only thing in Thedas that has categorically been proven to be safe. The Battle of the Squealing Plains is absolutely something you should take offense to .
You remember those awesome fossils we have on Earth? Yeah well we don’t have any on Thedas as far as we can tell. We’ve got skeletons of dragons though, right next to the big still alive ones. Fun fact, for an animal that large to exist there needs to be oxygen to support its massive bellows for lungs. Simple deduction says that Thedas has more and purer oxygen than we’ve got on Earth. More on this later.
OK kids. I’m going to need you to put on your science hats for this, because we’re about to get really technical about things that are and are not real, and none of you will like me for this. We’re going to just dive straight into Homo sapiens sapiens, because lord knows this is a comparatively new concept.
Homo sapiens sapiens
So science likes categorizing things. Thus, the species Homo sapiens is an umbrella term for things. Some scientists say that Neanderthals fall under Homo sapiens, some say they don’t, others say Homo rhodesiensis goes under Homo sapiens. For the purposes of the things we know, we are going to go with the majority rules. Thus, Homo sapiens as a species contains Homo sapiens idaltu and the only extant subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens. Yup, we’re the extant. (Basically that just means we’re the surviving species. Go us!)
See, humanity as a whole has this legendary thing about killing off people who are different or who disagree. But we’re not even going to get into that quite yet. Right now we’re going to stick with the concept of Darwinism, otherwise known as natural selection, and the idea that of all these different kinds of Homo-whatever, Homo sapiens sapiens is the only surviving anything. As a species we sprung up about two hundred thousand or so years ago, and we’ve been evolving since.
We’re a species that focuses on being smart and persistent. One of the fastest ways you can tell this is if you take a skull from a neanderthal and compare it to say, your skull right now. Basically, our skulls are optimized for bigger brains and actual facial expressions. Our bodies as a whole are much more slender and less focused on manual labor than our genetic ancestors. (Really if you’re curious, there’s a whole wiki on this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatomically_modern_human )
So Darwinism. Somehow, to survive in our society, we needed smaller teeth and less muscle in our jaws to chew our food. Our faces are smaller, more graceful so to speak. Our foreheads are less pronounced, and our brows are divided. Most of us tend to focus on more literary pursuits, so we’ve got this thing where it looks like our eyes are bigger than they really are. (Look, on a really bad day I can look like a potoo, so this is actually a thing.) We run, as a species, an average of about 5’6” feet tall for gentlemen and about 5’2” for the ladies. Please note that this is an average. We’re small for the most part. Dainty little things with barely any muscle tone and very little in the way of calluses.
Most of us are nerds. Yay! I know we’re nerds because, holy cheese on toast you wouldn’t be reading a giant actual discourse on the differences between Earth and a fictional planet in a video game if you weren’t a nerd. Good for you, indulging my hobby like this. Now, since we’re nerds, there are some things you need to step back and acknowledge about yourself.
We don’t get much sun. We don’t till the fields from sun up to sun down and turn lovely shades of brown as a result. Most of us are pale for our various ethnicities. Our faces, hilariously, are a shade off from our bodies because we spend so much time in front of computer monitors and TVs that we actually kind of bleached our faces. I’m sorry, I’m trying to say this as delicately as I can and there is literally no way.
You’re a nerd. Go find a mirror. Look at yourself. Now look at, I don’t know, Blackwall. Cassandra. Are you confident you get as much sunlight as they do? Yes? Ok. Now look at Fenris. Are you sure you get sunlight? I recognize that he is brown because he is legit brown and only some of it is tan. If you are like me, and an actual brown person, do you get as much sun as Fenris? How about Vivienne? How about Dorian and his glorious mustachioed face? No?
We’re all Cole.The sun is a foreign concept. You know what ethnicity you are. You know what your family look like. Are you pasty compared to them? If yes, guess what . You’re pasty compared to Thedosians. Do you know what kind of people in Thedas get as little sun as we do? Nobles. Circle Mages. If you’re female and in possession of zero magic, no calluses, zero tan, clear skin, good teeth, good hygiene, excellent health (I’m gonna get there I promise), and the level of education we take for granted, you’re either part of the Chantry or you’re a noble. If you open your mouth once to complain about anything, welcome to the life of being mistaken for nobility. If you open your mouth once to inquire how to wipe your bum (yup, we’re going there too), you’re being mistaken for nobility.
We will get more into the cultural thing later. Point is, remember that we’re small and dainty and our average isn’t even pushing six feet tall. We’re, for the most part, possessed of noodle arms and legs. A fair portion of us are out of shape. You’re not going to fall into Thedas and emerge as an unequivocable badass. If you get magic, that’s lovely and we’ll get to you later. We as a species do not engage in martial combat or warfare for anything more than a hobby.
(If you are a member of the SCA and actually participate in tourneys and fairs like the metal armored badass you are, you can kindly keep doing what you do. You know how the sword works. Do the thing. I’ll hold your flower, baby .)
Now, since we’re going here. If you are like me and unironically do martial arts. Good job. I highly suggest you start small. With chickens. The point of Thedas is not to take it down or gain points. The point of Thedas is everything wants you to die, down to and including the ground.
If you want to be the Warden, the Herald, a Companion, or whatever, that is wonderful. You are a member of homo sapiens sapiens, and we do not do this bullshit. There is no way on any god’s whatever colored planet that any elite organization like the Wardens or the Inquisition is going to bring you anywhere. If you are the Herald, my condolences on your arm, there is literally no reason for them to take you anywhere. None of us have even remotely near the survival skills it takes to survive in Thedas. None. Of. Us.
(For those of you going, like smart people, ‘then why the hell are we listening to you Allu if you wouldn’t survive’... You’re right. I would survive because unlike most people, I comprehend on a very intimate level that I am not a badass. I am a goddamn marshmallow who smokes, drinks, and fucks. Guess what wasn’t on that list. Murder. Murder is never going to be on that list and I will get to the horrible part of the actual method of surviving in Thedas later and I do not recommend my method .)
We’re doing this in a lump people, because it keeps me sane-ish.
So many many moons ago in 2010 a lovely user named tmp7704 went on the forums and basically solved the greatest question of life for us. In the actual files for the game is a camera specification that relies on the average height of the characters to determine where the camera goes. This is actually useful, because it gives us one of the few actual cases of concrete heights. So without further ado, some averages.
Dwarves: 1 m 43 cm (4 ft 8.3 in)
Elves: 1 m 60 cm (5 ft 2.99 in)
Humans: 1 m 75 cm (5 ft 8.9 in)
Qunari: 1 m 94 cm (6 ft 4.38 in)
Now, obviously, like with people, there will be outliers who skew the numbers. Like Fenris, an abnormally tall elf, is almost near the human average. Some people will be shorter, some taller. For the most part, the female of the species is generally smaller than the male when it comes to humanoids. Except the Qunari. Don’t say shit about the Qunari. They are called ‘giants’ unironically for a reason . There’s a very low chance your personage is going to find women who tower over you if you’re an average Earthling male unless you go looking for a Qunari.
Gentlemen and ladies about the size of the average male: You will be taller than all dwarves, shorter than all Qunari, run the gamut with humans, and will tend to run more towards the taller side of the scale than the smaller when it comes to elves.
Ladies and gentlemen about the size of the average female: I’m sorry, guys, I tried. We’re short. There may be some dwarves taller than us. Pretty much everyone is going to be taller than us with the exception of children. On the upside, I crunched the numbers as as long as you’re about 5’2” or less and weigh at least 120 pounds or less, you can probably ride a Mabari into battle. If it’s a burly Mabari, you might be able to pull 150. If you get two and strap them to a sled, you are unstoppable.
Ladies and gentlemen who are taller or shorter than the average: Look. You know how tall you are. Despair or laugh accordingly.
Ladies and gents above 5’8” like Phanto: Listen you. Just because you can actually gaze longingly into the eyes of the nice pretty menfolk (and down for some ladyfolk), does not mean I want to gag on your romance.
Most of the other sentient and sapient races don’t have heights. Use your best judgement on those. A dragonling is probably going to be the size of a small pony and the high dragon is probably going to be pants-shittingly big. Actual giants in Thedas might as well be a three story house.
Chapter 2: On Body-Snatching
“[...] how do you weigh in on body stealing OC’s? You know, the ones who wake up in a Thedosian body? (ie actually fit and more attractive than their original body) Possibly even changing races to something non-human.” - spellweaver
So, as per request, we’re going to do the body-snatcher kids! Ladies and gents, we’re going to have to start in on some of the more esoteric concepts that come into play with this sort of subgenre, and while I am going to do my best to phrase this as delicately as possible… I’m basically a bull in a china shop so. Your mileage may vary. But we’re going to go back a bit for this question, because to understand why the body-snatcher kids are my kind of horror story, you have to look at something a bit basic.
How did they get there?
Now, there are some general things we can all agree on when it comes to the rules of reality and the rules of Thedas.
First, we have no magic. Thedas does (in spades!), but we mere Earthlings have none. We have a copious amount of science. If you remember Arthur C. Clarke’s number one rule of magic, you’ll know we’re on the right track (for those of you going ‘what’, his big deal is that all sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic). So, there could be some scientific reason why you have been stuck in the new life that you have. It could happen.
Second, that there are beings in Thedas who like to do weird things. Such as Mythal (AKA Flemeth), the scores of ridiculous blood mages, mages who like to poke things they have no business poking (here’s to you Dairsmuid for being annulled under the auspicious premise of ‘researching too much’), Tevinter mages who like to poke things they have no business poking (really Dorian? time magic?), and so on. There are even spirits who can do things no one else can. It’s possible one of those beings got bored and your character (or you!) ended up in Thedas as a consequence.
Third, that there are magical artifacts that do some weird things in Thedas. There are even legendary ones here on Earth that are said to do some odd things. Excalibur, as the most known example, is a sword that chooses kings and its scabbard is said to be able to stop its wielder from ever being harmed. There’s an orb that gets stuck in the Inquisitor that can literally open and close holes in the Fade at will. So on, and so forth. It’s entirely possible one of those artifacts ends up doing something weird.
Fourth, that there is some supernatural power left in our world that sometimes likes to behave in weird ways. The legends of the fairy rings of England and Ireland, as well as the concepts of ‘spiriting away’ in Japan are two such examples. Or, in the more popular media sense, a book and television series named Outlander where a lovely woman is whisked away through time and romance ensues. This particular trope is ridiculously common, so your mileage may vary pending on its useage.
Whatever your method of getting to Thedas is, bear in mind that there may be repercussions above and beyond the ones that you expect. Being brought through the Fade by some means is likely to, for instance, leave substantial damage to the Veil in the spots your character or characters are brought through. An artifact may turn to dust, it may sear itself into your very flesh and bones. A spirit or other entity may decide to possess you, or just backseat hitch a ride for the experience. All actions have a consequence.
And now into the fun part.
It’s a very popular thing for a modern character to somehow, via whatever method, end up in a body that is frankly not their own. This method is my not-so-secret-favorite, because the sheer level of fridge horror involved is astronomical. I call characters like this the ‘Body-Snatcher Kids’, because most people who invoke this don’t really understand how terrifying it is until some poor over-researched soul like me sits down and explains it.
The most common method is to magically show up via whatever means into the body of the Inquisitor, Hawke, or the Warden. This is the most terrifying method. In order for one mind to occupy a body, there must thus be room for it to go . Otherwise, what you’re really looking at is a case of possession. You know, that thing that makes Templars cry ‘abomination’ and shank people. In that particular instance, you’re basically the spirit (as this is not your body) and you are thus sharing with the canon character in question. This can be kind of lovely, as it means the body you are in has some useful muscle memory to help you not die in combat and other terrifying situations, and if you keep the mind of the character around you can get useful advice.
Except all good things must come to an end. It’s impossible for a human (or otherwise) body to sustain more than one mind at a time. If you look at Anders and Justice, for instance, the two minds eventually came to such an end that inevitably Justice subsumes Anders and becomes Vengeance. Pleasant stuff that. This method is not copacetic. Great for drama, but not so great for your peace of mind. Or, there is the alternative, you and the character in question sort of merge into one super-personality comprised of all the best and worst bits of both.
The memory of both lives will not be retained, and you most likely won’t want to be called by the name of either character. Otherwise every time someone calls ‘hey ____’, your character will be resigned to an existential crisis.
Now let’s suppose that there is plenty of room for your modern character to fit in the brain of that character you replaced. Great! No existential crisis or battles of the ids! This is awesome! You’re in either the body of a dead person or someone in a coma. (Conversely, where does their mind go once you take over?)
Oh, this trope isn’t fun for you anymore, is it?
So, let’s say that, for the sake of argument, that you are a human mind stuck in the body of an elvhen. This is not your body, but the original occupant was in uthenera and thus, to put it bluntly, the lights are on but nobody was home. Let us then suppose that the method that brought you to Thedas was a blood magic ritual fueled by more lyrium than you can sneeze at and more dead people than you want to admit. That’s quite a large amount of power for mages to call up to pull someone from point A in one reality to point B in another.
Now, fun esoteric science times!
A mind can be moved into a mind, but a body cannot be moved into a body. Physics. Two objects of equal size cannot occupy the same space on this plane of existence. Proven fact. Go ahead and test it. Go get two pens and try and mash them together. It’s not going to happen. Now, if you took the ink from one pen out and put it in the other pen, that would work. You are filling the empty hole in one with the full contents of another. Obviously you’re not going to get all the ink out in one go unless you really work at it.
So we move this mind with this slapdash spell from its original homo sapiens sapiens body to the body of this elvhen. This body still remembers that it is, in fact, a member of the homo sapiens sapiens species. As such, it tries to adapt this new body to suit it. Human nature is that we change our surroundings before we change ourselves. There’s enough free floating power left over that some changes might happen. The real problem is that we don’t know ourselves well enough from the outside looking in to know what we’re supposed to look like.
The only time you see your face is in a reflection. You never actually see your face.
So you try to put your face together the best you can, and you end up having some weird amalgamation of elvhen and homo sapiens sapiens going on. You’re not human, not elvhen, not homo sapiens sapiens. You’re something else.
The big thing to remember with this is that if you go into Thedas in a different body from your own, you will either subconsciously try to mold it to look like what you think you look like, or you will go through some extreme body dysmorphia. If you manage to end up in the body of a mage, you’re going to try to change your body. It may end well, it may not.
Either way you’re going to look like something wrong . There’s no way that you are going to ping, visually, as plain ‘human’ – you’re gonna be weird and people are gonna know straight up that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. So you better be prepared to bullshit your ass off with a good explanation of just why the fuck you look weird.
Now, for those of you who this idea doesn’t sit well with, that is fine. There’s always the option that you don’t change your body for whatever reason. So, let’s say you start with a modern homo sapiens sapiens female, mid to late teens. She gets stuck in the body of, let’s say a male Qunari in his mid to late thirties.
Some of you may now be making a face at your screen of ‘what is she smoking and why doesn’t she share’. The problem with body-snatching is you don’t get to pick your body kiddos.
But, I’m the author, you protest.
Are you writing wish fulfillment or are you trying for realism?
A good story with body-snatching imposes the rules that whatever body you end up in should not be one you would have picked yourselves. Sure, we may think we want to be taller and prettier and leap like gazelles as Dalish scouts. But Dalish have better hearing, they see in the dark, they have better reflexes.
Reflexes don’t mean shit if you can’t even move your body the way you want it to. You’re going to trip down stairs, misjudge distances. Someone is going to think your character is mentally handicapped, because you stole the body of someone way too old to be going through a growth spurt. You are twice as likely to stab yourself in the kidney as you are to pull your belt knife out properly in a body like that.
I want to be prettier, you say.
Sweetheart. Darling. Dear. Do you really think the love interests of Dragon Age care what you look like? They care what you think and how you act (except for Solas, who is a massive racist). I hate to break it to you, but you’re already pretty by their society’s definition.
Have you got all your teeth? Do you have good hygiene? Can you carry on a conversation and not look like a massive twit? Do you support your love interest in a healthy fashion? Do you listen to them and honestly care what they have to say? Yes?
Great. Have some babies. Name one for a bird.
The things the love interests in Dragon Age care about have less to do with your face and more to do with ‘do we have compatible parts’ and ‘do you fight good’. We are all aspiring to date Shang from Mulan. We fight good, eventually . We get things done, eventually. We hold Cullen’s hair while he tosses his cookies. We bring Fenris wine and let him rage about Tevinter injustice. We brought Anders a cat . So on and so forth.
How I know they don’t care what you look like? Oh honey, go load up a game of any Dragon Age. Make your character look like a foot. Put on the most garish makeup known to mankind. Mod your game, become the worst drag-queen known to Christendom. You could look like the ass-end of a donkey, they’d still think that you’re the most beautiful creature to ever grace the face of Thedas.
That being said, the method of how you got there to begin with is still going to come into play. Mythal might brand you with her vallaslin. A spirit might make you permanently glow from the eye sockets. A bad magic ritual might end with runes all over your body. You might have a strange urge to eat sheep bladder. You could wake up with absolutely no idea who the bloody hell you are or how the fuck you got there. Results may vary with the body-snatching, so use this trope very wisely. If all else fails and you don’t know…
Shit I’m game. Bring it. I read Cthulhu for fun. I can find the fridge horror. Don’t want to ask people? Sit down for a long moment. Preferably in a way that you can easily put your head between your knees and breathe if you need it. Now list off all the things you love about yourself.
Take them away. Strip them. Now rebuild yourself with the things you love the most broken to bits. You’re good at talking? You now have a minor neurological issue that keeps you from speaking words as you want to. Congratulations, in the transfer, your new body had a stroke. Your eyes are pretty? Have some cataracts. You’re creative? You now only see and black and white.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. You got there. Pay the price .
Chapter 3: Attractiveness and Fetishization
So during the last section we discussed body-snatchers and I brought up the point that regardless of methodology in your origin, you were going to be attractive. Some of you were confused. So, we’re going to clarify some things about your body and that of most modern day characters.
You’re going to be attractive. I am not saying this because I’m some trite self-confidence builder. I am not here to stroke your ego. What I am here for is to provide concise and informative briefs on the research I have done.
So, I researched how to be pretty. I’ll admit I did so with ulterior motives, but the fact remains that I actively researched how to be pretty in Thedas. What I came away with was a terrible understanding of our current definitions of attraction compared to those of, for instance, a society that could be analogous to medieval Europe.
The first thing you need to understand is that our current definition of attractiveness in women really started with a model in the mid 1960s named Twiggy . Twiggy was skinny and made skinny look good. She was popular, and pretty much the point we mark as the major definitive fashion change. (Some of you might be going ‘but Allu, what about Audrey Hepburn?’, and Allu is with you on this. But Audrey Hepburn was not skinny by choice so much as because she was legitimately a tiny lady, and you do not speak badly of Audrey Hepburn in my house.) This is as far into fashion history as I am willing to go with you. If you want to know more, there are literally scores of documentaries out about modern fashion and the people who shaped it.
So, with the sheer level of mass marketing and media that we surround ourselves with today, we have gotten this image of the perfect woman that is built around a skinny woman with big eyes and fantastic eyelashes. Now at this point I must point out that there is nothing wrong with this . Be pretty in a conventional way. I literally do not care what you look like. Just be happy and I’m happy .
The point of the matter is that this modern convention of beauty is exactly that. It is modern. Thedas is pretty much stuck with the analogous timeframe of the Elizabethan (or Shakespearean if you prefer) era to the Rococo artistic movement. So the aesthetic that, for example, Alistair is going to find attractive is vastly different from what we find attractive.
“Indeed, the softer the body, the greater the beauty. Ivory skin, rosy cheeks, a round face, rounder hips, and yielding flesh were all requirements for the beautiful woman. Modern standards of womanly beauty—tanned, thin, and bony—would have struck an Elizabethan fashion plate as very odd indeed.” - Source
I highly recommend reading the source itself if you’ve got some time, because it’s very in depth and summarizes things that I’m frankly not going to go into detail on. Suffice it to say, the pudge that women the world over try to get rid of actually makes you attractive to men in Thedas. If you are overweight, it generally meant that you were financially stable enough to support a diet of extra food. Rounder hips and bums usually meant that you had childbearing hips and had a body that could support a pregnancy. Possibly multiple pregnancies. Miscarriages and child production was no joke in the middle ages.
The minimum issue of a royal wedding has been defined as ‘an heir and a spare’. That means one child to succeed the throne and one child just in case. This principle is pretty important in the middle ages for anyone who has a business or generally wants the family line to continue. So, two children is going to be the average minimum your Thedas love interest is going to want. Some may not want children or care about them, but those who are aspiring to a family are probably going to want two. Your character’s bum is going to be attractive.
Now, some of you may be sitting there going ‘Allu, that only matters to white people’. Oh, I get you. Fun fact for all my brothers and sisters of color: we are going to be ridiculously attractive to Thedosians. For those of you with any kind of Asian, Native, South American, or any general ethnicity that cannot be expressed without modding your game ethnic characters, this is about to get very strange for you.
There existed a ridiculous fetishization of people of color by those in Europe. I know, white people like some weird things. I got you . Just know that you are still going to be attractive by their standards.
Now, if you happen to be like Allu (by which I mean you are tiny and your face is rounder than normal because you’re chubby for whatever reason) and tend to get carded for everything, there is a very high chance you are going to be treated like a child. You look childish now, you will look even more childish in Thedas. Their facial structures lean more towards square shapes, and generally roundness of the face is something that is only exhibited by children in medieval art.
If you are a defenseless (don’t lie, you are not a badass and I will get to it later) person that they like, being hit on by some gross scum of the barrel, they are probably going to do something about it. In the case that you have a character who is friends with a knight, Templar, or anyone from Orlais, there is a very high likelihood they will do something about your problem.
Please read both of those for an in depth look at the basis for knightly behavior. When we say chivalry is dead, that’s the code that we’re referring to. Granted, this is in brief. We’re going to get into manners later. But basically, your heavy hitter types are expected to actually get up and keep you safe. Because you can’t do it yourself or because it’s flat out rude. So there is that to look forward to.
I am trying to treat this clinically, but there is going to come a point where you are going to need to encounter this in the course of your works.
Homo sapiens sapiens is a more evolved form of homo sapiens. This is a proven scientific fact. Please refer to the first part of this for a brief summary. So, historically humanity has a habit of sexually objectifying people who are different.
So on and so forth. The reverse holds true of women to men. The principal terms of racial fetishization are not constrained to gender. Thus, by virtue of the fact that you or your character come from another world that is centuries more developed than the world of Thedas, and thus our species has evolved towards that purpose, that character is going to look different enough to be considered exotic and thus beautiful in a different kind of way.
Thedas does not differ from Earth in this. There are numerous cases of elves being fetishized by humans, up to and including the production of elf-blooded people. Now, there is a stigma to being elf-blooded, and they don’t look any different from a human. But the point is that elves are considered attractive enough for it to be the basis of the City Elf origin in Dragon Age: Origins . Be very careful with using fetishization, because it can backfire in Thedas to be like the elves.
As a sole representative of the homo sapiens sapiens subspecies, it is very likely that you will be treated much the same as Europeans treated the first examples of other cultures. This is probably not going to be very noticeable with the primary cast of characters in the game. (If they have a name and do things in the plot, they’re primary.) However, there is a very high likelihood that the Dragon Age cast is going to have to fight duels of honor on your behalf if you are a lady. If you are a gentleman, you may have scores of women trying to attach themselves to you for the chance to marry into your noble family or at least bear your bastard.
For the transgender folks reading this: I do not know what side of the line (or none if that’s what makes you most comfortable) you have settled on. Feel free to explore both sides of the spectrum of attraction if that makes you happy, or stick to just the one if that works for you. I am not about to tell you to do something that makes you uncomfortable. Do what works for you. I am a pansexual cisgendered female, I do not know the length and breadth of your struggle. If you want to write something that explores this concept, huzzah. If you don’t, huzzah . Be happy in your fictional pursuits.
Sexual fetishization can run the gamut from cat-calling to literally having people hit on you in public. If you get popular enough, you might even get people proposing marriage on the spot. The fact is that you are going to be attractive. Really bad bards are probably going to try to write ballads about you. (Leliana will do it, and do it well. Varric will have so much fun writing a mini-serial about you. So on and so forth.) Various characters, pending on how much they like you, will take offense to this.
Chapter 4: On 'Badassery'
By now, four parts in, you should all have come to the realization that Allu don’t give a shit. She’s a bit like Francis the Honey Badger. We have now come to the part of this series that fills her warped little heart with sadness and rage. If you are a current or former member of any Special Forces, active military that has been to a warzone, a former or current revolutionary guerilla fighter, or a police officer who has been to the colloquial ‘mean streets’, you may happily blitz past this section. Unless you like watching others suffer, in which case enjoy.
You. Are. Not. A. Badass.
You . Are. Not. A. Badass.
Say it with me now: You are not a badass.
Realism is the name of this game, so we’re going to be looking at this as realistically as possible. In the grandest style of writing, this chapter is going to be an exercise in questions! (And then some logic, because why not.) Kindly follow along, because this chapter is super important.
- Are you of sound body? As in, do you have a pronounced inability to engage in actual hand-eye coordination, can you run two miles without falling over and dying?
- Do you actively go outside and enjoy it?
- Are you capable of providing your own food in a civilization that does not have mass production? (That means, there is no grocery store.)
- Can you stand the sight of blood?
- Are you able to inflict harm on people, emotionally and physically?
- Can you actively survive in the wilderness? No, there is no camping. All you get is a knife, can you last a week?
- Do you know the proper way to punch someone in the face? Have you ever done it?
- Can you break someone’s bones and not puke after?
- Do you know how to fight? Self-defence, while lovely, is not fighting.
- Are you comfortable enough in your body to put it in high-stress situations like rock climbing?
- Do you have a fear of heights? The dark? Spiders? Rodents? Bandits?
- Does the thought of complex surgical procedures make you gag?
- Can you, be honest, look at photos of an autopsy and not gag?
- Can you look at a dead body and not feel a sudden urge to go home and never leave your bed?
- If you have a choice between killing a man and letting him beat a child, do you kill the man?
- If you have a choice between starving and killing a chicken, do you kill the chicken?
- Did you know that when you kill someone, they usually void their bowels? Are you prepared for that?
- If a six foot tall man with a sword comes at you from a ninety degree angle with the flat of his sword, do you dodge or do you block? If you block, where do you block the sword?
- Are you afraid of rape?
- Do not fucking lie. Can you kill a man for no reason other than the fact that he was in your way?
For those intrepid souls who answered yes to any question that involved killing, blood, or violence… go fuck yourselves. You liars. (Unless you legit work on a farm and have killed a chicken or other animal before, in which case carry on with the answer to that particular question.)
Murder is wrong.
“ The most common separates murder into two degrees, and treats voluntary and involuntary manslaughter as separate crimes that do not constitute murder. First-degree murder: any intentional murder that is willful and premeditated with malice aforethought. Felony murder is typically first-degree.” - Wikipedia
Thou shalt not murder. It’s a commandment. There’s a variety of it in pretty much every major religion on the planet. (For the love of all that is shiny, Satanism is basically a giant list of ‘don’t be a dick unless the person legitimately deserved it.) It’s also a law. Because killing other people in our society is a sign of mental instability. A willingness to kill your fellow man is, in our society, considered a giant neon banner that you do not need to be in society. Hurting other people is also considered wrong. It’s called assault or battery, sometimes both, and is a crime.
Shockingly, this is not going to stop a bandit in Thedas from killing you to take what you have.
Thedas is not a world where ‘help me Obi-Wan, you’re my only hope’ is going to do you much good. Now, murder is still a crime in their world. Surprise, that’s a common facet of society. It’s actually one of the core tenets of being considered a civilization. But, Thedas only believes murder is a crime when you kill the wrong people. And then, as far as I can tell from Orlais and Ferelden, they kill you for it . Jail is a fun word that might as well mean ‘sit here and wait while I fetch the executioner’. Or, and the numerous side quests back me on this, they send some competent murder machine to go murder you.
Zevran and the Antivan Crows do not knit for their livings . Knitting is a fun, relaxing activity for their downtime, however.You know, when they aren’t out murdering everyone in sight. You don’t fuck with Antiva man, you just don’t.
But Allu, you say as you take personal offense to her calling you out on your bullshit, I know how to fight people.
That’s lovely. I’m super proud of you.
Do you know what it feels like to stab a man in the neck? How about in the kidney? How about what arterial blood spray looks like? Ever stabbed someone so hard that their limbs came off? How about that time that Peter Jackson, the lord of research and the fine details, was terribly wrong ?
If you’ve ever watched a list of the worst sports injuries ever, congrats, you’ve probably seen that goalie whose throat was slit by a hockey skate .
You. Don’t. Know. Shit.
You can say you know all the things in the world about anatomy and physiology and how to take a person down with style and literary precision, but there is a very large difference between reality and fiction . A modern character, or yourself, belongs to the realm of reality (and suffering). We traded our mental capacity to kill people for insulting our mothers for the ability to tweet about Kim’s latest baby naming tragedy. It stopped being socially acceptable to run about with swords… actually it was Japan had them last . Even Sweden doesn’t approve. There are weapon carry laws for every state in the United States and country across the world. Look them up sometime.
We are not mentally prepared for the sort of trauma Thedas is. They literally grow up in a place where banditry and piracy are actual occupational choices, where thieves and assassins ply their trades with little to no repercussions. Templars are more than just names in a history book but an actual force dedicated to controlling mages, a potentially violent subsection of their society who can be possessed by violent demons. Dying a violent death at sword point is a common statistic in their world.
It’s an act of insanity in ours.
But Allu, you say as you read, I’m trained in how to fight people. I have a whatever belt in whatever fighting style.
That is lovely. So does Allu. She has multiple belts in multiple disciplines. You know what they don’t cover in those styles? How to deal with people who legitimately want to kill you outside of the mats. Guns and knives? Oh, we cover that under ‘don’t’ and ‘take it away’, right before ‘now run like hell’. Martial arts and other combative styles focus primarily on unarmed combat. Some of them have weapons training, but are done with training weapons. If you reach a high enough belt in various disciplines, you may be considered skilled enough to practice with live steel.
The name of that game is to avoid hurting people. Making your opponent (or partner if you’re doing a showcase) bleed is a sign of poor training.
Now, there are some of you who may be reading this who belong to the SCA. (Why yes, I know what that is, I’m in the Stellar Kingdom of Ansteorra and find you all quite awesome.) A fair chunk of you actually practice the combat styles that may be encountered in Thedas. This is awesome.
Any Asian, Native, South American, or any other non-European practitioners are also quite awesome. Your style will be one that will be very difficult for Thedosians to deal with. If you practice unarmed martial combat, remember that they have armor on (for the most part) and do what you do.
Aikido, Judo people, keep doing what you do. I would recommend looking at the armor of Thedas and medieval Europe and seeing where you can get holds in.
If you have prior training and have never actively used it to seriously hurt people, you are going to be at a disadvantage. In this day and age, we focus on disabling and demoralizing our opponents.
In our world? That makes us badasses. Martial arts or combatives training to that degree is a rare skill. Every once in awhile you get something on the news where someone has had it up to their eyeballs and uses those skills to put the hurt on people. It’s quite awesome to us.
In Thedas? Most of the people you would be looking to kick in the head are going to have at least some level of skill with the art of combat.
You’re going to have to be at the level of Zhuge Liang , Cu Chulainn , Ching Shih , these women , Malala Yousafzai , Theodore Roosevelt and so on. To be a badass of Thedas you need to be on the level of historical badasses.
Now, way at the beginning of this I gave a list of people who could merrily skip over this section unless they were bored. There is a reason why it is that list specifically.
Every single one of them has had a hand in the death of someone. Either it was to protect their country, people, or for whatever reason. That is what they are either trained to do or what they had to become in order to accomplish that. They are badasses.
You are not.
Get it through your head.
You cannot fight like people in a video game. For the most part, you can’t even keep yourself fed . You are what Thedas is going to consider a sheltered noble because there is a very high likelihood you don’t even know how to use a knife beyond ‘pointy end goes in other person’.
I have probably offended a bunch of you. I do not care. Please get it through your heads that you do not have the capacity to be a badass. You are going to need to train, train hard, and train quick. Find yourself someone to protect you, because you are not going to be able to do it yourself. Find someone competent to train you, do not attempt to make shit up on the fly. That’s how you get killed.
In reality, people die when they are killed . There is no magical ‘end of battle resurrection’. Consider going into Thedas a giant welcome into Nightmare mode you can’t drop the difficulty on.
The people I specifically listed off at the beginning already know how to deal with this sort of thing . They have studied logistics, teamwork, tactics, strategy, military history and doctrine. Those people have put that knowledge to work in the field, on battlefronts, on missions. These people are the ones who are trained professionals who know how to handle themselves and others in high-stress volatile environments.
So sit your ass down.
Accept your shortcomings.
Do something about it.
Chapter 5: On Crossing Worlds With Eluvians
“It doesn't seem to be a particularly popular trope (at least from what I've seen) but could you do a chapter addressing a modern OC coming to Thedas via eluvian? Morrigan explained that not all opened up in Thedas, so what if one opened into our world? Not to mention where it would likely be (I have literally read stories where OCs find one in places like their deceased grandmother's attic) and how to activate it (since we don't have magic).” - SciFi_Babe
Heeeeeey. Ok. I’m not a mage but I’ll give this a shot. I think it should go without saying that: None of us are mages and you’re not likely going to find one outside of the world of Thedas.
What Is An Eluvian?
Basics, square one things here. Yes, yes, I know. We’ve all played at least one Dragon Age game. Huzzah. Basics.
“The elves of Arlathan left no roads to travel between their cities. Instead, they used these enchanted mirrors to communicate and travel from great distances, using a type of magic different from that of the modern Circle of Magi or even the Tevinter Imperium.
Eventually many eluvians were destroyed. An unknown number of eluvians have survived to the present day, scattered across Thedas in forgotten or well hidden locations, but they seemingly stopped functioning or became corrupted, capable of spreading the darkspawn taint. It was assumed that their use was lost after the fall of Arlathan.
The Tevinters attempted to unlock the secrets of the eluvians, but all they could use them for was long-distance communication. Some Dalish have also attempted to rediscover and reactivate the eluvian network to no avail.” - Dragon Age Wiki
So, eluvians come in multiple forms and sizes. We’ve got Merrill’s to the one at the Well of Sorrows, right down to Morrigan’s and the one that taints the Dalish Warden in their origin. Generally speaking, they all have a distinct style that reflects the Elvhen aesthetics (except for Merrill’s, because she legitimately made that herself out of the corrupted shard of a broken Eluvian and you can tell she made it ).
In 9:40 Dragon, the Eluvian network in Thedas was reactivated by the Orlesian elf Briala, who gave it a password. The password only works after 9:40 Dragon. The only reason the network itself was reactivated was because of hand-waving weird magic and a keystone. For more details, please read The Masked Empire . (By the way, the password is “Fen’Harel enansal”. Said Dread Wolf probably didn’t change it. Because his ego is impressive. And he probably killed the person who knew the password anyway, but hey, at least you know the code.)
“[...]the eluvians are connected to one another via pathways in another realm, separate from the Fade. The realm-largely colorless but for a brightly-lit stone path, was created by the elves of Arlathan and is inimical to humans, who experience disorientation and physical discomfort that elves don't. In fact, the grey strange world between the eluvians seems to "like" elves, responding and filling with color at their touch. Elves appear to see this world differently, and also move much quicker than humans while in it.”
For lack of a better term, the Crossroads look like grey-washed sadness with a bunch of weird mirrors sprinkled about like ridiculous attempts at gardening. It is not a place conducive to any kind of life, and appeared to have been more of a place to go to get somewhere (bit like a train station really) than an actual ideal destination.
Eluvians on Earth
So unlikely I’m crying in my special hate place.
So the scenario at hand from SciFi_Babe has some random gramma in her venerable wonder in possession of an Eluvian in their attic. I think I may have actually read that fic at some point, or at least something like it. (Which, minor detour for a moment. What is this, Narnia? Shall I be expecting Mr. Tumnus to show up at some point? Magical Liam Neeson voiced lion? No, sit the fuck back down and try again you lazy and unoriginal people. ) Ok so. We’re going to ignore how gramma got an average of eight foot tall mirror up into her attic without anyone noticing and kept it there for god knows how long without it doing weird magic things .
Gramma’s got an Eluvian in her attic.
IS GRAMMA FLEMETH?
Ok, fine. Gramma Who-Is-Not-Flemeth has an Eluvian in her attic.
No. No. Sit the fuck down and pay attention kids. If you have a gramma, you know this already. If you do not know about the majesty of grammas, let me tell you a thing.
Grammas like giving things to their grandbabies . Not useless things, they want their grandbabies to be happy and have good lives and give them pretty great-grandbabies. So if gramma has this weird antique mirror in her attic, you bet your ass gramma is going to be smart and get it appraised . Usually when she feels the mortal coil is becoming too great a burden . Some poor strapping lad is going to have to go up into that creepy attic full of weird old shit and bring that mirror down, load it into a truck, and take it and gramma off to somewhere to get it appraised.
I don’t know about you, but my gramma loved this thing called Antiques Roadshow . The weirder and older the thing is, the more likely it will make it on the show. Eluvians when they aren’t turned on? Uglier than sin. Pretty sure an Eluvian is ugly and old enough looking to make it on the air. And you know what comes after that?
A bunch of people who don’t believe that’s an antique. So they carbon date it.
Arlathan was founded over seven thousand years ago. You know what we were doing seven thousand years ago? Learning how to fucking farm . Do you know what that means?
Gramma has made the archeological find of the goddamn century.
Gramma Who-Is-Not-Flemeth is very likely to sell off this Eluvian to add to her estate for when she dies .
But wait! There’s more!
You’re never going to see that Eluvian ever again except for any time it shows up on the news. Why? Because that over seven thousand year old ugly as sin mirror is going to be subject to more testing than you can shake a stick at. No government is going to let that go, it’s going to become a giant race for ‘how did humanity really begin’. Your Gramma Who-Is-Not-Flemeth has single-handedly turned the entire concept of our known history on its ass .
Gramma Who-Is-Not-Flemeth might as well be Flemeth at that point .
This trope of finding an Eluvian in your house randomly is a pile of lazy, uninspired bullshit that needs to be taken out back and shot like Old Yeller .
Dear people. When Morrigan said that there were Eluvians that opened up into places that weren’t Thedas, she did not mean alternate realities . Did you know there are other fucking continents in that world? (I’m holding out hope for some sentient plant people. Or liches. Or mindflayers. Or unicorns. Definitely unicorns.)
You want to know who could probably find and activate an Eluvian on our side of reality?
A cult. Probably one filled with ridiculous neopagan and New Age Wicca practitioners who couldn’t find their asses with a map and think that the literal Blót really should be celebrated on every possible day . Preferably with the traditional human sacrifice at the end.
We’re not talking some cute LARP thing here. I mean, full on cult of personality led by someone on the level of Jonestown . Don’t drink or eat anything these people hand you, because that’s how you get dead. But that much blood and death? Even from a scientific standpoint that’s a lot of energy displaced. Especially if you consider the 21 grams theory as legitimate, that’s 21 grams worth of energy per person. Methinks that killing over nine hundred people in one moment would be enough to do something with a mirror that literally runs on energy from the aether .
Or if it’s a cult that does do Blót, we’re looking at one person dying at least every solstice.
Frankly, I would accept finding an Eluvian in the bottom of a deep cave before I accept finding it in Gramma’s attic. Randomly, an Eluvian out in nature would be more likely to occur than finding it in someone’s house, period.
How to Activate
I. Don’t. Know. This entire section is going to be just conjecture based on what I know of science and how magic works in Thedas, because I am frankly not a mage. There isn’t enough information available in the canon materials to make this sort of guess so… extrapolating based on available information it is .
Obviously you can use a password to make it work. Put your hand on the nice doorway, speak ‘friend’, and enter. Problem. We only know the password that works for sure from 9:40 Dragon to 9:44 Dragon. Before and after that, the password could literally be anything in Ancient Elvhen from the word for watermelon to ‘Praise be to Mythal’. Seeing as how none of us actually speak Ancient Elvhen (except for maybe fenxshiral of Project Elvhen and whichever lovely writer is the creator of Elvhen to begin with), we generally would have better luck with ‘klaatu barada nikto’ than attempting the password.
So, like any other thing with a password… we’re going to have to hack it. (Crack it, jailbreak it, break in, bust the lock, whatever your euphemism is for ‘we should not but screw you we’re doing it anyway’ is.) Basically we’re going to be overriding the security on there (I assume the Elvhen understood the concept of personal security) and busting our way in.
Blood magic . That’s the primary go-to of Thedas in the event of ‘quick, dirty, effective’ necessitation. Literally harnessing the power of life and potential life inherent in blood to do impossible things, blood magic is generally considered grounds for insta-execution in Thedas. We… cannot do the thing. But, there’s… kind of a hypothetical way to do it.
It’s going to require science. A ridiculous amount of science.
Namely, it’s going to take an ungodly combination of bioelectrodynamics , bioelectromagnetics , bioelectrochemistry , biochemistry, and plain old human ingenuity. Remember how I said way back at the beginning that this was going to be some weird esoteric thing? Yeah. We’re combining New Age hippie science with actual hardcore science.
Basically, the ideal way is going to be to trick the Eluvian into thinking you’re an authorized user. So what we would need is a source of energy, a few magnets, and probably a copious amount of blood. Frankly, the easiest way would be to get a Tesla coil and bleed all over the Eluvian before you zap the paint off it. Rinse and repeat until you get in, varying the electrical charge as you go.
But Allu, who the hell has a Tesla coil sitting in their house? Nobody. Nobody has a Tesla coil just sitting around in front of big antique mirrors. That’s how you break the antique mirror.
So, shocking it may or may not work. If you or your character are scientifically minded enough to do the thing, go for it. Be Doctor Frankenstein. Channel some lightning and let the beast live.
Stumble onto aforementioned cult, get roped into their ritual. Pray to any god you can think of that you will come out of this alive. Who knows? You might actually get an answer. (There’s a whole cornucopia of trickster gods in various cultures that might be likely to find it entertaining enough to do. Or, mother goddesses . You might even get an answer from the native gods of Thedas. Be creative.)
Find an Eluvian out in nature. Get stranded between a rock and a hard place where it’s activating the Eluvian or dying. You might go insane enough from the hunger, dehydration, and solitude to maybe garble out the password.
The key to every Eluvian is different. For all I know, taking a chunk of various shiny rocks and praying for salvation over it and then hurling it at the Eluvian out of desperation might be enough to make it work.
Obviously it isn’t all that difficult to get them to turn on. The Qunari managed to stumble on one during the Trespasser DLC and ended up controlling a chunk of the Crossroads. Getting the Eluvian to work is not something we have enough evidence to properly extrapolate a surefire method of activation.
Depending on when you or your character manage to get the Eluvian to work, there’s one teeny tiny problem you’re going to encounter.
We are humans. We need air, food, and water to survive. Literally, it’s the Rule of Threes . We know the Crossroads have air, so we’re good for that one. It’s very uncomfortable there, but I wouldn’t really consider it really something to worry about in terms of shelter. There is probably water somewhere in there, so you have three days to find that. There is no food. So, if you can find water, you have three weeks maximum to find another Eluvian and activate it to get out.
Either go back the way you came or go forward. There is probably a very good reason why you can’t go back (or it could be like the Well of Sorrows and the Eluvian breaks after you go through), so you’re going to need to go forward.
Depending on your circumstances before you activated the first Eluvian, you may have to change your timetable.
But there is still the light and the noise to deal with. There’s a possibility that the sound may qualify in the contemporary sense of brown note, but the fact remains that there is a chance of insanity if you stay in the Crossroads long enough. Pitch black darkness can drive you insane in about thirty hours, give or take. Solitary confinement can drive you insane, almost permanently. Humans are social creatures, and we do not do well in places where there is literally no one but us there. So, assume that you’re going to go insane somewhere in the Crossroads.
There is a very good likelihood that your mind is going to blank out your experience with Eluvians from psychological trauma . If it does, or even if it doesn’t, you’re not going to want to go near an Eluvian for fear of a repeat experience. You’re going to have post-traumatic stress disorder from the whole experience.
The Crossroads don’t start getting friendly until 9:44 Dragon. Avoid it at all costs if you do not have an actual guide.
In short: Eluvians are dangerous. Use with extreme caution.
Chapter 6: On the Fade
Ok so, moderation of comments was turned on due to this: http://archiveofourown.org/works/5974483/comments/54873457
Do not panic if your comment does not show up. It will probably show up within the next two hours, usually with an answer. -Allu
“Something that I have always been interested in, that I would love to hear your thoughts on: The Fade. More specifically, how it would affect character inserts.” - DreamersEclipse
“I would like to second the motion for thoughts on the Fade and how they affect the OC-inserts.” - comavampure
Allu would like to preface this with a giant neon sign that she’s still not a mage . If she spontaneously gains the ability to light things on fire with her mind, you will hear about it on the six o’clock news because I will turn myself right the hell in.
But anyway, here’s some Fade stuff.
You want to know how the Fade works in canon? That’s awesome. I would too. Nobody knows. Not even Solas McFadeNapTime knows how it works. It just is . A giant pile of mystery wrapped in a side of enigma and sprinkled liberally with plot device syndrome. That’s it. It’s both a physical place you can go to and a place you can only enter in your dreams, right next to the fact that it’s real enough to have a kitty-corner neighbor.
There is shit that lives in there that no one in their right mind wants to fuck with. We’ve got Nightmare, the bloated son of a slime mold and a spider on steroids. We have the whole Harrowing realm where Sloth and its buddies hang out mind-fucking new little mages. So on and so forth, ad nauseum.
There is literally nothing in canon that points to a clear definition of the Fade past: this is where you dream.
The only concrete rules that we have about the Fade is that dwarva don’t go there, because dwarva don’t dream, spirits and mages can literally manipulate it at a thought, and that elves are apparently more comfortable there and see more things. That’s literally it. Anything beyond that is speculation.
You are asking me to engage in metaphysics on an esoterical concept that has almost zero information available on it. This is literally a chapter of abject speculation with almost no grounding in fact .
Allu has a pet theory that she handwaves through on what the Fade is. It’s her primary method of explanation because this is a level of magic that science cannot explain .
The Fade is a physical manifestation of the collective sapient unconsciousness . It can be accessed primarily through dreaming, and for some reason dwarves lack the part of the brain that has evolved enough to tap into it.
That’s it. That’s literally all the Fade is in Allu’s mind. That’s as far as there is proof. Kindly read the wikipedia articles linked.
Separate Plane of Existence
It is entirely within the realm of possibility that the Fade is a separate dimension that mages have managed to tap into with the hand-wave power of magic and dreams. Somniari appear to be much better at tapping into it, and those Elvhen who have entered uthenera are permanently in the Fade until such time as they wake up. This theory presents its own difficulties and connotations that, quite frankly, make Allu cry inside.
This theory implies a few specific things:
- The Fade has an atmosphere. This atmosphere is green, brown, or yellow depending on which aspect of the Fade canon you use. Thus, it has a chlorine based atmosphere as opposed to Thedas and Earth’s oxygen base.
- The Fade has separate sapient creatures that dwell in it known as ‘spirits’.
- Sub-connotation- these spirits can be directly infected by extended contact with the psyche of Thedosians.
- The Black City was once the Golden City and can be seen from everywhere in the Fade.
- Sub-connotation- The actions of the Magisters Sidereal directly or indirectly caused a widespread contamination within the Golden City that thus led to the Blight.
- Sub-sub-connotation- The Blight is a disease caused by contact (extended or otherwise) between a spirit and a human. Basically, the Blight is an allergic reaction from the physical realm contacting the realm of the Fade.
- Elves and elf-blooded persons see the Fade more clearly and feel genuinely better in it. They are more in-tune with this realm than other Thedosians.
- Dwarva do not dream. They do not access the Fade. Those that do are looked upon as insane.
Look, neither Allu or Phanto are going to tell you to follow either of these theories. For all we know neither of these theories are correct or even both of them are. We could be wrong, we could be right. The Fade is a giant pile of metaphysical esoteric science that has very little available information, and what information we do have is made exponentially ridiculous by the sheer fact that the Fade is constantly changing . Canonically, there have been various attempts by Tevinter magisters to explore and map the Fade. These attempts were met with failure because the Fade would up and change on them at the drop of a hat.
There is no way to describe the Fade that makes sense in an easily understood and entertaining way. I literally cannot find enough consistent resources in canon or science to make the Fade sensible. It isn’t a sensible place or thing. That’s the point .
The Fade is a giant plot device. How and why you use it is literally up to you. If you have a pet theory, go with that. Expound on it. Research to your heart’s content. Whatever you do, make it as consistent as possible. Or, treat it like the pile of clusterfuck it is . Ask questions of mages, get random unsensible answers back. Have zero consistency, have all the consistency, I literally cannot help you.
Why in the name of flying fucks did we ask me to do this? Allu cannot help you.