Dragon Age: Inquisition changed the political landscape of Southern Thedas in several fundamental ways, not least of which was the influence of the Chantry. Where the Chantry once had full control of the Circles of Magi and the Templars, the events of Inquisition could reduce its influence to a fraction of what it once was depending on the choices made throughout the story and who becomes Divine.
Dragon Age: Dreadwolf promises to move the narrative from Southern Thedas northwards to Tevinter, where there’s an entirely different political landscape and a Chantry that may be unrecognizable. Only similar in name and in that they both worship the Maker, Tevinter’s Chantry and the Chantry of Southern Thedas differ in very fundamental ways and may prove to be something even worse than the Chantry in the South.
The Origins of the Black Divine in Dragon Age
The Chantry in Tevinter, also known as the Imperial Chantry, was originally founded by Archon Hessarian when he executed Andraste. The rise of the Orlesian Chantry created rifts, primarily due to disagreements in Andraste’s proclamation that “Magic exists to serve man”. The Imperial Chantry interprets this to mean the magisters have a duty to rule over those without magic.
In modern Thedas, the Divine of the Imperial Chantry is always a mage, a member of the Imperial Circle of Magi and, as opposed to the Orlesian Chantry, is always a man. The Divine of the Imperial Chantry is colloquially known as the Black Divine, a term that isn’t used in Tevinter, which uses the term the True Divine. The Black Divine as of 9:27 Dragon is Urian Nihalias, who may be the Black Divine during the events of Dragon Age: Dreadwolf.
The Imperial Chantry’s relation to the magisters cannot be separated, including their role in facilitating Tevinter’s relationship with blood magic and slavery. According to Fenris in Dragon Age 2, the Imperial Chantry receives a tithe for every slave sold, and Dorian states in Dragon Age: Inquisition that most magisters in the Imperial Magisterium practice blood magic. With the move to Tevinter in Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, players will be faced with these two realities, both of which are darker than anything the Orlesian Chantry did even at its worst.
The Role of the Chantry in Dragon Age: Dreadwolf
Because of how the Imperial Chantry plays such a large role in the everyday politics of Tevinter, it’s highly likely the organization going to be a big part of Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, most likely as a sinister antagonistic force. Regardless of the players’ opinion of Solas, his crusade against slavery is something that everyone can agree on and is one that would do direct damage to an Imperial Chantry that openly benefits from slavery.
While blood magic isn’t morally corrupt in itself, the way it’s used by the Chantry’s magisters certainly is, where magisters sacrifice the lives of their (usually) elven slaves to augment their magical power. The relationship the player character has with the Imperial Chantry also largely depends on their position in society. If they’re a magister or a high-ranking mage, it’s possible that Dragon Age: Dreadwolf would allow the player to change the Chantry from the inside, such as what happened with the Orlesian Chantry in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Working with Dorian and his group of reformers may also be an option, and he has appeared in concept art for Dragon Age: Dreadwolf as well as official content in the intermission between the two games. Otherwise, it may be better to join Solas on this point of freeing slaves and causing mayhem in Tevinter in general and aim for the Imperial Chantry’s downfall, as some things perhaps shouldn’t be saved.
Dragon Age: Dreadwolf is in development.
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