• The Dalish Elves seek to regain their noble past as they navigate their fragmented history in a changing society.
  • Players exploring the Dalish Elf origin in
    uncover tantalizing glimpses into Thedas’ distant past and mysterious origins.
  • The tragic history of the Dalish reveals their struggle as outcasts and the oppressed, with deep ties to the ancient Elvhenan civilization.

Before the Veil existed, the elves of Dragon Age: Origins were the dominant race in Thedas. In modern times, they are better known for their catastrophic downfall. No longer one people, the only remaining unifying trait of elvenkind is to be the outcasts and the oppressed of society. Those who still remember their noble past call themselves Dalish, and they seek to regain what was lost.


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For players looking to plunder dangerous secrets in Origins, the Dalish Elf origin promises tantalizing glimpses into Thedas’ distant and mysterious past. The Dalish are not one people: they are nomadic tribes only bound as one people by tradition. Dalish Elf players take on the role of Mahariel, hunter of Clan Sabrae and descendant of an Emerald Knight of the Dales.

10 Nomadic Noble Of The Forest

The History Of The Elvhenan Is More Than Just Bragging Rights

Mahariel in front of the clan's halla herd in the Dalish Elf origin in Dragon Age Origins-2

  • The Elvhenan Empire is a lost civilization from a time before the shemlen, the “quickened” human race.
  • The Dales are located in the area known today as southeastern Orlais, west of Ferelden.
  • Inquisition delves much deeper into the truth of the elven myths players first learn about in Origins.

The Dalish trace their lineage back to the elven nobles and knights of the Dales. The Dalish hold this ancestry in high regard, although much of what they know is fragmented as ancient humans scattered and enslaved their people.


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Ancient elves possessed abilities that are poorly understood today if remembered at all, and there are many hints in lore that Thedas itself was very different in those times. Dalish history is full of intrigue, as much for Mahariel as for Dalish Elf players.

9 Proud To Be Dalish

Exiles Raise Excellent Hunters

Mahariel and Tamlen confront shemlen in the Dalish Elf origin in Dragon Age Origins

  • Players have a clan to fight for as Mahariel.
  • Mahariel has both the motivation & skill to explore the wild environs where Grey Wardens must explore.

The elves of Dragon Age are the proud – and ignorant – descendants of an ancient race quite different from their modern descendants. The unbridled magic and immortality of the Elvhenan are gone forever, but the Dalish strive to seek out and preserve whatever fragments of memory still exist.

The pride of the Dalish is a wound from which the elves draw strength. These nomadic elves live by the Oaths of the Dales, and it’s a succinct summary of their attitude: “We are the Dalish: keepers of the lost lore, walkers of the lonely path. We are the last Elvhenan. Never again shall we submit.”

8 An Origin For Lore Connoisseurs

Some Of The Most Haunting Dragon Age Puzzles Begin With This Origin

Mahariel and Tamlen explore ruins in the Dalish Elf origin in Dragon Age Origins

  • The Dalish want to remember the Elvhenan Empire, but the Dalish origin highlights just how little they know for sure & how much more complicated their past might be.
  • Fully appreciating the tragedy of the elves begins with understanding who they became before learning the difference between who they were & who they thought they were.
  • The Dalish Elf is the only origin that reveals an almost comprehensive summary of the elves’ current knowledge about their history.

The history of the elves of Dragon Age is a gripping mystery that is unraveled for players across several games. The events of Inquisition provide crucial and surprising answers about them, but the Dalish origin of the first game is where the right questions are asked in the first place.


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To the Dalish, much of their former power as a race is kept alive in spirit only. By the conclusion of the origin, Mahariel’s story will launch into something much more tangible than a fireside story about ancient Arlathan.

7 The Sabrae Are The Social Dalish

The Sabrae Clan Makes More Appearances Than Most

Mahariel and Merrill in Elvhen ruins in the Dalish Elf origin in Dragon Age Origins

  • Merrill fans will enjoy meeting her before Dragon Age 2 & get some insight into where her Eluvian troubles began.
  • The Dalish origin is the only way to meet two Dalish clans at once in Origins.

Origins isn’t the only game where Mahariel’s clan features. Merrill, a recent transfer to Sabrae who accompanies Mahariel, later goes on to become a Dragon Age 2 companion. Other notable NPCs like Flemeth and other factions also have significant ties to them.

Having a Mahariel playthrough to import into subsequent games gives players a sense of continuity despite controlling a new protagonist each time. The Dalish origin is the only way to meet the Sabrae before their stint in the Free Marches.

6 Distorted Traditions & Elvhen Gods

Philosophers Beware, Playing All Dalish Is Not For The Faint Of Heart

Junar, Pol, and Mahariel in the Dalish Elf origin in Dragon Age Origins

  • The fall of the Dales is the second time the elves experienced the fragmentation & downfall of their civilization.
  • The conquest & enslavement of elves in modern day Tevinter is the turning point in history when humans became the dominant race in Thedas & escaped elves became the Dalish, & it’s this memory that fuels the Dalish’s hatred of shems.
  • Andraste also plays a surprising role in the story of the elves.

As revered as the traditions of the Dalish are, they never claim to be exact. Their history recounts how the ancient elves were at the mercy of shemlen until they were liberated, but there is much more to this story to discover.

The Dalish don’t bother with the Chantry; their mages are destined to become Keepers. Unlike in Inquisition, players can’t play a Dalish mage in Origins, but Dalish rogues and warriors know more about magic than an average shem: it’s the birthright of every elf.

5 My Life Is In Ruins

Mahariel Should Have Taken Up Archeology, For Lavellan’s Sake

Mahariel and Tamlen discover Elvhenan ruins in the Dalish Elf origin in Dragon Age Origins

  • The Brecilian Forest has a lot of relevant clues about elven history, but only a Dalish can fully appreciate the value of what the Warden finds.

Players who appreciate how packed with Elvhenan lore Inquisition is will want to have a Dalish Elf Origins playthrough to take some notes. This is the only origin that offers a deeper glimpse into Andraste’s time and before.


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Mahariel has a broad appeal: players interested in the history of the Blights, the origins of the Thedasian races, and Tevinter lore will all find things to appreciate in this origin. Although the Dalish claim the right to delve into Elvhenan ruins to discover pieces of their lost identity, these revelations affect all of Thedas.

4 Life Or Death Recruitment

When The Infamously Deadly Grey Warden Joining Is The Sane Choice

Marethari and Mahariel discuss his options in the Dalish Elf origin in Dragon Age Origins

  • The Sabrae clan is camped southwest of the Brecilian forest and uncomfortably close to Ostagar.
  • The Dalish encounter the enemy before the rest of Ferelden cottons on.
  • The darkspawn encounter in the Dalish origin is more visceral due to the inexperience of Tamlen & Mahariel, & the isolated setting.

The Dalish Elf origin gives players several strong incentives to fight darkspawn. It’s not political or criminal schemes that ensnare the Dalish Elf: Mahariel has a clan to protect against the threat of a new Blight.

The Sabrae clan neither has the protection of city walls nor the resources of a nation. Mahariel’s story also links ancient elves and other races together, and curious players will be convinced that only a Grey Warden is equipped to investigate further.

3 Mahariel’s Hatred Of Darkspawn Is Personal

The Dalish Elf Origin Introduces The Darkspawn The Earliest

Mahariel and Tamlen in the Dalish Elf origin in Dragon Age Origins

  • This origin also features a reunion of a sort, as the others do, but many players feel Mahariel’s is one of the saddest quests in the game.

The Dalish Elf origin is one of the few that gives a few hints early on that the darkspawn threat is on the rise, and not just in the Deep Roads. Only the two dwarven origins offer more clues about this.

Mahariel has a lot of personal motivation that other origins don’t, making it one of the best origins to draw players’ focus to the game’s main threat. Dalish Elf players have more than just family motivations: their legacy is also at risk.

2 The Past Of The Dalish Haunts Dragon Age

No Other Origin Explains The Deep Background Of Dragon Age: Inquisition Better

Mahariel and Paivel tell the children about Dalish history in the Dalish Elf origin

  • The lost knowledge of the Elvhenan is the missing piece that would bring a lot of ancient lore into context for players.
  • Players who want to play Lavellan in Inquisition and who romance Solas will have a whole new & personal depth added to their experience after a Dalish origin playthrough.

This origin has an impressive reach into the future of Dragon Age. Players who want Elven Glory all the way will especially want to make sure the Dalish Warden is part of their experience leading to Lavellan in Inquisition and straight into The Veilguard’s opening act.


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Although Inquisition clarifies a lot of questions Origins raises, there are still plenty of blanks to fill in. Mahariel’s origin discovery isn’t just a picturesque setting: there are clues that observant players will connect some surprising plot points that are raised in the subsequent games.

1 Heir Of Arlathan

Remembering & Reclaiming The Past

Merrill, Mahariel, and Fenarel at the Elvhen ruins in the Dalish Elf origin in Dragon Age Origins

  • Mahariel will be the pride of the Dalish, earning unprecedented recognition in the world of the shemlen.
  • Mahariel revives forgotten knowledge like it’s his birthright, and only Lavellan matches the Warden’s impact on the Dalish.

It’s fitting that the Dalish Elf Warden’s tragedy is as poignant as that of the Dalish: Mahariel isn’t given a choice in the sacrifice demanded. Royalty of the forests or not, this Warden’s fate is sealed with emerald blood.


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On the other hand, no other Dalish is revered as the savior of Ferelden. If anyone would test the strength of the blood of an Emerald Knight, they had better be an Archdemon–even then, not even Fen’Harel would save them from Warden Mahariel, a true heir of Arlathan.


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