The new Dragon Age teaser has got fans all excited, but some people might not really understand why, beyond “OMG DRAGON AGE 4!!!” That might be because they aren’t a Solasmancer or just don’t care about the Dread Wolf’s shenanigans, because they’ve skipped the previous two games to start at Inquisition, or because they may not have realized that there is a whole world of gaming lore beyond the games themselves, thereby missing some of the more intricate details revealed in the brief teaser.

For the curious, some of these secrets can be quickly discovered within the handy Wikia or the two beautiful volumes of The World of Thedas from Dark Horse Comics. However, if you’re interested in getting into the personalities and motivations behind such events, then a plethora of media is available to you outside of the game. These auxiliary materials should never compromise a non-reader’s/non-watcher’s enjoyment of the game itself, though, so don’t worry. You can make it through all of the Dragon Age games without checking out the additional material. Plus, BioWare meticulously includes much of its lore within the games themselves, if you want to take the time to read up on each tidbit of information you click on during your adventures.

But if you want to take a deeper dive into the auxiliary lore, then I present to you this handy guide, in roughly chronological order. If you’re new to Dragon Age, or if you’ve only come into this sordid dark fantasy romance with Inquisition, then this guide is a relatively spoiler-free opportunity to discover a few of the extra books, comics, and short films that make the gaming experience more fulsome.

 

Dawn of the Seeker

Directed by Fumihiko Sori
Funimation, T.O Entertainment
February 11, 2012 (Japanese release)

Cassandra Pentaghast is a young, brash Chantry knight, devoted to her order. When she is framed for a crime she did not commit, she must team up with an apostate mage—ugh—to stop a blood magic conspiracy against the Divine herself. There are darkspawn, mages, and awkward battles, and the Pentaghast family dragon hunting skills are at peak levels in this movie.

Related Games: Dragon Age II, Dragon Age: Inquisition
Timeline: 9:22 Dragon Age
Significance: This is how Cassandra becomes the Seeker and the Right Hand of the Divine that we know and love.
Highlights: Cassandra used to have long hair and didn’t wear pants.

 

Cover of The Stolen Throne. Written by David Gaider, Tor Books, March 2009.

The Stolen Throne

Written by David Gaider
Tor Books, March 2009

Orlais and Thedas have an uneasy alliance when we begin Dragon Age: Origins, but not so long ago they were at war, and King Meghren sat upon Queen Moira’s throne. When the queen falls to a trap, it’s up to a bunch of rebels to get Prince Maric’s butt on his throne. If he hadn’t stumbled into Loghain in his escape from treachery, Maric may never have become king. To be more specific, if it hadn’t been for Loghain fighting for and beside him, sacrificing his true love for him, and forcing Maric to recognize the harsh truth of his actions and decisions, Maric would never have become king. Although, because of a secret promise he made to Flemeth, that was going to happen anyway—but at what cost?

Related Game: Dragon Age: Origins
Timeline: 8:96 to 8:99 Blessed Age
Significance: We learn that Loghain and Maric were indeed best friends, and that Loghain fully recognized Maric’s flaws but stood by him and every mistake Maric was willing to make in the name of banging that really pretty elf girl he was in love with. But while Loghain believed in Ferelden, Maric believed in Maric.
Highlights: Learning more about the inner workings of the Dalish, their role in the defense of Ferelden, and their reverence for Asha’bellanar, aka Flemeth.

 

Cover of The Calling. Written by David Gaider, Tor Books, October 2009.

The Calling

Written by David Gaider
Tor Books, October 2009

Events and decisions that stemmed from The Stolen Throne have broken Maric, and he is a man struggling with depression. Loghain is more or less running the kingdom and trying to support his friend until Maric decides that what he needs is a Deep Roads adventure to get him out of this funk! Grey Warden Commander Genevieve is trying to find her brother, who has followed the Calling before his time and she needs to know why. Why the rest of her crew and Maric need to know as well is questionable, but the important thing is that we get to meet a lot of cool companion characters, including a cocky, swarthy Duncan who would later become the stoic Warden Commander that enlists the Grey Warden in Origins. Bonus: you can watch Machanimas based on the book created with Dragon Age Origins – Awakening mods.

Related Games: Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening
Significance: Understanding the nature of the Calling; meeting the Architect and some of the Awakenings companions; Alistair’s mom.
Timeline: 9:10 Dragon Age
Highlights: Gaider is pretty good at writing battle scenes, including recognizable spells and actions from the gameplay; Mabari War Hounds are the best good boys.

 

Cover of Dragon Age, Volume 1. Written by Orson Scott Card, with Aaron Johnston, illustrated by Mark Robinson with covers by Humberto Ramos, IDW Publishing, March 2011.

Dragon Age, Volume 1

Written by Orson Scott Card, with Aaron Johnston, illustrated by Mark Robinson with covers by Humberto Ramos
IDW Publishing, March 2011

Card and Johnston took the basic notes they apparently received from BioWare and created a very basic story of forbidden love between a Ferelden Circle mage and a Templar knight. When the mage tries to escape with her child, she is hunted as an apostate and killed by the Templars. The child, Gleam, is raised by kind muggles, but, because she, of course, is a mage, she must hide her magic until she’s forced at every corner to use said magic to get out of bigger and bigger bad situations and finally must confront her father, whose duty it is to imprison or kill her.

Related Game: Dragon Age: Origins
Timeline: ??? Dragon Age
Significance: Mage/templar shenanigans.
Highlights: The really awkward poses that Robinson draws Gleam into.

 

Cover of Dragon Age: Origins Webcomic. Penny Arcade, September 2009.

Dragon Age: Origins Webcomic 

Penny Arcade, September 2009

Templars are sent to hunt the Witch of the Wilds. This is a bad idea.

Related Game: Dragon Age: Origins
Timeline: 9:?? Dragon Age
Significance: Apostate/Templar relations.
Highlights: Flemeth and Morrigan share a tenderly prickly moment.

 

 

 

 

Cover of Dragon Age Origins - Awakening Webcomic. Penny Arcade, February 2010.

Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening Webcomic

Penny Arcade, February 2010

Following the death of Arl Howe, the traitor who murdered the Couslands and worked alongside Loghain to take the throne from Cailan Theirin, Nathanial Howe sneaks into Vigil’s Keep, now headquarters to Grey Wardens. Only vaguely aware of the details of the political intrigues, Howe seeks vengeance for what has been stolen from his family.

Related Games: Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening
Timeline: 9:31 Dragon
Significance: Now you know what Nathanial Howe was up to when you find him in jail.
Highlights: Goodness, Nathanial is an angry child.

 

Dragon Age: Redemption

Written by Felicia Day
October 2011

Hey, if you could insert yourself into your favourite game, why wouldn’t you? Felicia Day is Tallis, an elven rogue who must hunt down a Saarebas (a renegade Qunari mage) in order to protect her rank in Qunari society. She enlists the help of several allies in this six-episode webseries.

Related Game: Dragon Age II: Mark of the Assassin DLC
Timeline: 9:37 Dragon Age
Significance: Tallis is featured in the Dragon Age II DLC.
Highlights: Though I’m not a huge fan of Day, I have to admit this is pretty darn cool.

 

Cover of The Silent Grove. Written by David Gaider and Alexander Freed, illustrated by Chad Hardin, Dark Horse Comics, February 2012.

The Silent Grove

Written by David Gaider and Alexander Freed, illustrated by Chad Hardin
Dark Horse Comics
February 2012

Like his father before him, Alistair, the canonically single king (sorry Couslands), decides that he needs to go off adventuring when he receives word that his father is still alive and in need of rescuing. In the first arc of his adventure, Alistair enlists Isabela and Varric, an unlikely team up with Alistair, but the trio makes for good comic relief and deadly efficiency on this heist that takes them to Antiva City and beyond. Whether or not you hardened Alistair in Dragon Age: Origins, by the end of this six-part mini series, you’ll see that Alistair is quite hardened and doesn’t take any shit from anyone. He also learns that there’s more to the Theirin bloodline than just name. Dragons. There’s dragon blood in those veins. Somehow.

Related Games: Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II
Timeline: 9:38 Dragon Age
Significance: Morrigan is not nearly as special as she thinks because Flemeth has several Witch of the Wild babies around, including Yavana, who was pretty cool in the Dragon Age mobile game. We learn how Isabela became a pirate queen.
Highlights: Varric and Isabela.

 

Cover of Those Who Speak. Written by David Gaider and Alexander Freed, illustrated by Chad Hardin, Dark Horse Comics, August 2012.

Those Who Speak

Written by David Gaider and Alexander Freed, illustrated by Chad Hardin
Dark Horse Comics, August 2012

Alistair’s search for his father continues in a three-part mini series collected into the second arc of his story, but it is halted when the trio is captured by a familiar face: Sten from Origins. Now Arishok, Sten is fine with recognizing Alistair as an honoured warrior on the battlefield, but isn’t about to let their past friendship come before his duty to the Qun. This follows up on Isabela’s backstory—in fact, this really is entirely Isabela’s story. Despite being a paid mercenary on this trip, she proves that she is fiercely loyal to those who earn her trust, even at cost to herself. We also learn of her devotion and her indomitable spirit. Meanwhile, with the help of a Tevinter magister and old friend of Varric’s named Maevaris Tilani, they continue on Maric’s trail.

Related Games: Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II
Timeline: 9:38 Dragon Age
Significance: More of Isabela’s past is revealed, including her connection to the Qun.
Highlights: Varric and Isabela.

 

Cover of Until We Sleep. Written by David Gaider and Alexander Freed, illustrated by Chad Hardin, Dark Horse Comics, March 2013.

Until We Sleep

Written by David Gaider and Alexander Freed, illustrated by Chad Hardin
Dark Horse Comics, March 2013

In the final part of Alistair’s quest, collecting a three-part mini series, Alistair, Isabela, and Varric wind up in Tevinter, face-to-face with the magister that is holding Maric captive, syphoning the dragon’s blood from his veins. Maevaris returns to help them fight the villain, but is subjected to a rather traumatic, transphobic moment during the process on a trip to the Fade. Because what is a Dragon Age story without a trip to the Fade. Fortunately, it’s much easier to skip through the Fade when you’re turning pages in a comic.

Varric gets some backstory time here. If you are sad that you could not romance him in-game, you can at least appreciate his svelte body and perhaps come to understand and respect that his heart belongs elsewhere.

This brings bittersweet closure to Maric’s disappearance, as well as the unknown promise he made to Flemeth back in The Stolen Throne.

Relevant Games: Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II
Timeline: 9:38 Dragon Age
Significance: Bianca.
Highlights: Bianca.

 

Cover of Hard in Hightown. Written by Varric Tethras (Mary Kirby), illustrations by Stefano Martino, Álvaro Sarraseca, Andres Ponce, Ricardo German Ponce, Torres Dark Horse Comics, July 2018.

Hard in Hightown

Written by Varric Tethras (Mary Kirby), illustrations by Stefano Martino, Álvaro Sarraseca, Andres Ponce, Ricardo German Ponce Torres
Dark Horse Comics, July 2018

If you were paying attention during Inquisition, then you’d have found and read the nineteen chapters of Varric’s noir detective drama already. The story follows Donnen Brennokovic, a Kirkwall guard ready for retirement. A routine walk through Lowtown with a rookie guard ends up being anything but routine when a magister turns up dead. Donnen must race against time and everything else working against him to solve the murder.

Relevant Games: Dragon Age II
Timeline: 9:30-40~ Dragon Age.
Significance: Collects the codexes found in-game.
Highlight: Features Dragon Age II characters sporting different names to protect the innocent.

 

Cover of Asunder. Written by David Gaider, Tor Books, December 2011.

Asunder

Written by David Gaider
Tor Books, December 2011

This book firmly grounds the series in its switch from the Blight to the Mage/Templar War. This takes place one year after Anders blew up the Kirkwall Chantry, rocketing the anti-mage fear into the forefront of the age. #NotAllCircles suffer injustices, but in Orlais’ White Spire, mages are clearly not high on the respect list. This is where we first meet Cole, the Ghost of the Spire. His presence results in a murder being pinned on Enchanter Rhys, who is the only one that can see Cole and recognizes that he’s not exactly a ghost, nor is he a demon from the Fade. Enchanter Wynne gets a stay of execution for Rhys by having him tag along on her mission to find a Tranquil named Pharamond who apparently and impossibly has been possessed by a demon and whose research implies that the Rite of Tranquility can be reversed—information that the Templars don’t want getting out, hence Knight-Commander Evangeline’s presence on the mission, along with Leliana and Shale.

Relevant Games: Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II, Dragon Age: Inquisition
Timeline: 9:40 Dragon Age
Significance: The Mage/Templar War. Dragon Age: Origin companions. The first appearance of Cole.
Highlights: Wynne can throw down dwarven ale with the best of them. She is not the good girl she likes to pretend she is when she complains about the Warden’s sexual antics at camp.

 

Cover of The Masked Empire. Written by Patrick Weekes, Tor Books, April 2014.

The Masked Empire

Written by Patrick Weekes
Tor Books, April 2014

A bard is as adept at courtly intrigue as at combat, so it really should have come as no surprise that Empress Celene is far more than a pretty face behind a mask. The Masked Empire reveals the machinations that led up to her taking the throne and why she is the greatest player of Orlais’ Grand Game. If you recall this exhausting chapter in Inquisition, you may have been too frustrated to care about the significance of the players. The Masked Empire may alleviate some of that frustration and even help you shape your halla hunting decisions when you realize that Celene, Briala, and Gaspard de Chalons are all skilled players of The Game and all have the best interest of their own people at heart. When they work together, they are a force to be reckoned with.

This is also a cautionary tale about not working with demons or gods. Or rather, not trying to trap or trick demons or gods. Especially one of the original ancient demons to come in contact with magi. Or, you know, the Dread Wolf.

Relevant Games: Dragon Age: Inquisition
Timeline: 9:40 Dragon Age
Significance: The Grand Game and the Orlesian Civil War. You’ll learn that someone sacrificed himself to prevent Fen’Harel from gaining access to the eluvians that you, Inquisitor, so naively handed over. You’ll also understand why a poor elf-blooded human former Empress’ Champion is wandering around Emprise du Lion, hunting a desire demon named Imshael.
Highlights: Felassan.

 

Cover of Dragon Age: Last Flight. Written by Liane Merciel, Tor Books, September 2014.

The Last Flight

Written by Liane Merciel
Tor Books, September 2014

Hoping for protection from the raging Mage/Templar War, a small group of mages seek refuge at Wiesshaupt, the famed Grey Warden HQ that won’t return my calls. The young mages, including Valya, are tasked with reviewing the historical records of the stronghold. She discovers the journals of Isseya, an elf mage and brother to Garahel, the elven hero who prevented the Fourth Blight from destroying all of Thedas and beyond. It details the difficult choices the Grey Wardens had to make to save the world, including turning to blood magic. As if being a Grey Warden isn’t taxing enough, blood magic exacts a heavy price, and it is the majestic and loyal griffons who paid the heaviest toll.

Relevant Games: Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age: Inquisition
Timeline: 9:41 Dragon Age (referencing 5:24 Exalted Age)
Significance: Griffons.
Highlight: GRIFFONS.

 

Cover of Magekiller. Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Carmen Carnero, covers by Sachin Teng, Dark Horse Comics, December 2015.

Magekiller

Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Carmen Carnero, covers by Sachin Teng
Dark Horse Comics, December 2015

Marius and his handler, Tessa Forsythia, are particularly adept at killing mages and are frequently hired to do so, though Marius has sworn never to return to Tevinter where he was once enslaved by a magister. When their heroic natures cause them to be tricked into returning anyway, they discover that the orchestrator of the ruse is Archon Radonis, the leader of Tevinter, who enlists them to root out the magisters who are forming the Venatori cult that is causing trouble. This goes well for a time until Marius discovers that one of the cult members is a former lover. Tessa and Marius renege on their deal with the Archon and end up working for the Inquisition.

Relevant Game: Dragon Age: Inquisition
Timeline: 9:41~ Dragon Age
Significance: Tessa and Marius are some of the many agents that perform missions at the in-game war table.
Highlight: Several familiar faces, including Charter, Krem, Sutherland, and Dorian Pavus.

 

Cover of Knight Errant. Written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, illustrated by Fernando Heinz Furukawa, covers by Sachin Teng, colors by Michael Atiyeh, Dark Horse Comics, May 2017.

Knight Errant

Written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, illustrated by Fernando Heinz Furukawa, covers by Sachin Teng, colors by Michael Atiyeh
Dark Horse Comics, May 2017

Ser Aaron Hawthorne has many stories of his gallantry and heroism, but no matter how drunk he gets, the one story he will not tell is the one about his role in the darkspawn battle that saw the death of King Cailan Theirin. He travels with his elven squire Vaea, and wherever they end up, rumours of theft follow. They find themselves in Kirkwall as guests of the new viscount, Varric Tethras, who invites them along to Starkhaven where they meet the prince, Sebastian Vael, as well as Inquisition Agent Charter, who urges Vaea to use her skills as a thief to do more than just play Robin Hood.

Relevant Games: Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II, Dragon Age: Inquisition
Timeline: 9:41~ Dragon Age
Significance: Vaea grudgingly becomes involved in the Inquisition. Red lyrium. The Venatori.
Highlight: Viscount Varric Tethras.

 

Cover of Deception. Written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, illustrated by Fernando Heinz Furukawa, covers by Sachin Teng, colors by Michael Atiyeh, Dark Horse Comics, September 2018.

Deception

Written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, illustrated by Fernando Heinz Furukawa, covers by Sachin Teng, colors by Michael Atiyeh
Dark Horse Comics, September 2018

Olivia Pryde has abandoned her career as an actress but still uses her theatrical talents in the fine art of grifting. Her antics get bring her to dealings with Antivan Crows and the Venatori, but support from Ser Aaron, Vaea, and Dorian Pavus help her through.

Relevant Game: Dragon Age: Inquisition
Timeline: 9:41~ Dragon Age
Significance: Inquisition agents
Highlight: Old friends. As with the previous two comic series, Sachin Teng provides yet another gorgeous series of covers.

 

With the final issue of Deception out in December 2018, Dark Horse has been steadily feeding Dragon Age lorists’ needs. If you’re behind on your reading and need a Dragon Age fix while waiting for more news about Dragon Age 4, I recommend chewing on one of these books or shows to pass the time.