Into the Darkness
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.
A humanoid race, elves are typically shorter than humans (though this has been mitigated slightly since Dragon Age: Origins) and have a slender, lithe build and pointed ears. Long ago, the elves were the dominant race on Thedas, and their advanced civilization was based on nature and magic. After the fall of their great city of Arlathan to 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 four centuries they fell to the Chantry’s Exalted Marches. Since then, their few numbers have been scattered all over Thedas in either forests as primitive nomads, the Dalish, or in cities as impoverished outcasts, with little hope of recovery for their culture or their race. They’re now a people associated with poverty, crime, barbarism, and are often used as scapegoats for humanity’s difficulties. Humans use the terms “knife ears” or, less cruelly, “rabbit” or “halla rider”, as a racial slur. Though most of the elven language has been lost, they once referred to themselves as “elvhen” or “the people”.
The Qunari (literally, “People of the Qun”) is the name most commonly known for the white-haired, metallic-skinned, gigantic race and their society that governs the island nations of Par Vollen and Seheron, and the settlements of Kont-Aar and Qundalon in northern Rivain and Anderfels respectively. The Qunari homeland is located beyond the turbulent northern oceans of Thedas. However, contact has been intermittent at best and there is doubt as to whether a ship has made contact in many years.
Members of any other race who adheres to the teachings of the Qun (humans, elves and even dwarves) are called Viddathari. Humans of Rivain and elven slaves of Tevinter are especially susceptible to conversion, although it is not unknown for members of other groups to embrace the Qun.
Those not born of the Qun are described as Vashoth, “grey ones”; likewise those who abandon the Qun willinglly are known as Tal-Vashoth, “true grey ones”. Most Tal-Vashoth are former soldiers and become mercenaries, and are considered by Qunari to be worse than bas.
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. They are a race in decline, once developed a huge, great empire which spread across vast underground networks of twelve great thaigs that spanned the breadth of Thedas. However their world was all but destroyed during the First Blight.
In addition to the loss of nearly all thaigs and the majority of the Deep Roads to 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.
Unlike elves and humans, dwarves do not naturally enter the Fade, as they do not dream and lack magical ability. However, they are not completely barred and may enter it in exceptional circumstances. This is reflected in their resistance to magic, and accounts for their high tolerance to lyrium exposure. Dwarves who live on the surface for a long time (or who were born there) appears to gradually lose this resistance – however, there is still no recorded exception to their inability to learn spellcasting.