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Atheism in Dragon Age: Origins

Posted on 28th Jun 2010 at 11:22 by Joe Martin with 58 comments

Joe Martin
I’m playing Dragon Age: Origins in my spare time at the moment. My character is a Common Elf Rogue and I’ve had a hard time getting back into it since our review. That’s partly to do with the fact that I’m just not as enamoured with swords and sorcery as I used to be (nowadays I prefer lightspeed and lasers), but it’s also that I have a problem with the way the in-game theology is presented to players as a foregone conclusion.

I’m anxious for this not to become a real-world religious debate, but I will say that I’m an atheist and that that’s something I wanted my Elf, Jacob, to share. It seemed to make sense that a Common Elf character should be atheist too – the history of the Alienage Elves has them completely detached from their old gods and culture, while also being relegated to second-class citizens by a Chantry-led society. An Elf in an Alienage wouldn’t have grown up with the Dalish religion, but would likely have been spared the attention of the Chantry too – at least, that’s if the Origin story is anything to go by.

Dragon Age’s fictional religion obviously plays a big part of the story, with the Chantry cast as alternately oppressive and supporting of society and constantly near the centre of attention. Whether you’re helping rogue mages resist what could be seen as religious persecution or collecting ancient texts for Chantry scholars, the religion of Andastre and the Maker is pretty much unavoidable – and when it’s like that, I don’t have a problem with it. Just as in real life, I’ll let people believe what they want as long as they don’t try to make me do the same. It’s on that last, italicised clause that Dragon Age and I start to have problems…

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