Pathfinder (Dragon Age Setting)
Elven and Halfling Pantheon
The Elven Pantheon comprises five gods and four goddesses, whom the modern Dalish refer to as “the Creators.” The pantheon is led by Elgar’nan the All-Father, god of fatherhood and vengeance, and Mythal the Protector, goddess of motherhood and justice. There are also references in elven mythology to another race of gods, called “The Forgotten Ones,” the enemies of the elven pantheon. It is said that Fen’Harel was the only one able to walk freely between the two groups, and they both thought of him as one of their own.
Elgar’nan: God of Vengeance
Long ago, when time itself was young, the only things in existence were the sun and the land. The sun, curious about the land, bowed his head close to her body, and Elgar’nan was born in the place where they touched. As a gift to Elgar’nan, the land brought forth great birds and beasts of sky and forest, and all manner of wonderful green things.
Elgarn’nan, the All-Father, represents fatherhood and vengeance, and leads the pantheon with the goddess Mythal. He was the first of the elven gods, born of the sun and the earth. According to elven legend, the sun grew jealous of the favour shown by Elgar’nan for the things of the earth, and so burned them to ashes. In retaliation, Elgar’nan threw the sun down from the sky, and only later relented because of Mythal’s intervention. Most elves will invoke Elgar’nan’s name when they need to destroy something.
Mythal: the Great Protector
It was at this moment that Mythal walked out of the sea of the Earth’s tears and onto the land. She placed her hand on Elgar’nan’s brow, and at her touch he grew calm and knew that his anger had led him astray.
Mythal, the Protector, is the patron of motherhood and justice and leads the pantheon with her male counterpart, Elgar’nan. In elven legend, when Elgar’nan threw the sun out of the sky in vengeance for burning the earth to ashes, Mythal calmed him and helped him see that he was wrong. Elgar’nan freed the sun on condition that it would be gentle and return to the earth each night. On the first night after the sun was released, Mythal created the moon from the glowing earth round its bed to be placed in the sky, a pale reflection of the sun’s true glory. Elves will invoke Mythal’s name when they require protection.
Falon’Din: Friend of the Dead, the Guide
In ancient times, the People were ageless and eternal, and instead of dying would enter uthenera-the long sleep-and walk the shifting paths beyond the Veil with Falon’Din and his brother Dirthamen. Those elders would learn the secrets of dreams, and some returned to the People with newfound knowledge.
Falon’Din is the elven God of Death and Fortune and guides the dead to the Beyond. He and his twin brother, Dirthamen, are the eldest children of Elgar’nan the All-Father and Mythal the Protector and were inseparable from birth. Their first separation came when Falon’Din found an old and sickly deer in the forest and gathered her up into his arms and carried her to her rest beyond the Veil , where Dirthamen could not follow.
Dirthamen: Keeper of Secrets
Separated for the first time from Falon’Din, Dirthamen wandered aimlessly till he came across two ravens. “You are lost, and soon you will fade,” the raven named Fear said to Dirthamen. “Your brother has abandoned you. He no longer loves you,” said the other, named Deceit. “I am not lost, and Falon’Din has not abandoned me,” replied Dirthamen. He subdued the ravens and bade them carry him to Falon’Din. This they did, for they had been defeated and were now bound to Dirthamen’s service.
Dirthamen is the twin brother of Falon’Din, the elven god of secrets and master of the ravens Fear and Deceit. Another elven legend says that he gave each creature a secret to keep, however the hares shouted their secret to the treetops, the birds sold theirs for gold and the foxes traded their secret for wings. Only the bears kept Dirthamen’s secret, so the bear is considered beloved of Dirthamen.
Andruil: Goddess of the Hunt
Hear me, sons and daughters of the People-
I am Sister of the Moon, Mother of Hares,
Lady of the Hunt: Andruil.
Remember the Ways of the Hunter
And I shall be with you.
Andruil is the elven goddess of the hunt, creator of the Vir Tanadahl or Way of Three Trees. First, the Vir Assan, or Way of the Arrow: fly straight and do not waver. Second, the Vir Bor’assan, or Way of the Bow: bend but never break. Third, the Vir Adahlen, or Way of the Forest: together we are stronger than the one. The hawk and the hare in particular are beloved of Andruil.
Sylaise: the Hearthkeeper
It is Sylaise who gave us fire and taught us how to use it. It is Sylaise who showed us how to heal with herbs and with magic, and how to ease the passage of infants into this world. And again, it is Sylaise who showed us how to spin the fibers of plants into thread and rope.
Sylaise, the Hearthkeeper, is seen as the sister of Andruil the Huntress. Sylvaise gave the elves fire and taught them how to weave and to use herbs and magic for healing purposes.
June: God of the Craft
We dedicate all our crafts to June, for it is he who taught the People to bend the branches of trees to make our bows, and to fashion coverings of furs and ironbark. Without June, would we have the aravel, or the harnesses for our halla?
June is the elven god of crafts: it is he who taught the elves how to make bows, arrows, and knives. Elven legend tells how, before Sylaise came to teach them the use of fire, and June to teach them to fashion bows and knives, the elves wandered the forests without purpose, eating only the berries and nuts they could find and shivering naked through cold nights.
Ghilan’nain: Mother of the Halla
They say Ghilan’nain was one of the People, and the chosen of Andruil the Huntress. One day, Ghilan’nain came across a hunter she did not know. At his feet lay a hawk, shot through the heart by an arrow. Ghilan’nain was filled with rage, for the hawk is an animal much beloved of Andruil. Ghilan’nain called upon the goddess to curse him, so that he could never again hunt and kill a living creature. Ghilan’nain’s curse took hold, and the hunter found that he was unable to hunt. Ashamed, the hunter swore he would find Ghilan’nain and repay her for what she had done to him. He blinded her first, and then bound her as one would bind a kill fresh from the hunt. But because he was cursed, the hunter could not kill her. Instead he left her for dead in the forest. And Ghilan’nain prayed to the gods for help. Andruil sent her hares to Ghilan’nain and they chewed through the ropes that bound her, but Ghilan’nain was still wounded and blind, and could not find her way home. So Andruil turned her into a beautiful white deer―the first halla.
Ghilan’nain, goddess of guide and navigation, Mother of the Halla , was once a mortal woman and beloved of Andruil. Halla are white deer-like creatures revered by the Dalish, and used to pull their aravel , or “landships.”
Fen’Harel: The Dread Wolf
In ancient times, only Fen’Harel could walk without fear among both our gods and the Forgotten Ones, for although he is kin to the gods of the People, the Forgotten Ones knew of his cunning ways and saw him as one of their own. And that is how Fen’Harel tricked them. Our gods saw him as a brother, and they trusted him when he said that they must keep to the heavens while he arranged a truce. And the Forgotten Ones trusted him also when he said he would arrange for the defeat of our gods, if only the Forgotten Ones would return to the abyss for a time. They trusted Fen’Harel, and they were all of them betrayed. And FenHarel sealed them away so they could never again walk among the People.
Fen’Harel is also known as the Dread Wolf, Lord of Tricksters and bringer of nightmares. His supposed betrayal of the gods of both good and evil by sealing them away in their respective realms, never again to interact with the mortal world, is sometimes used to explain why the elven gods did not intervene to prevent the fall of Arlathan. Statues of Fen’Harel are set aside from any Dalish camp and facing away, as a reminder that the Dalish must always be wary.
Only in dreams do we hear whispered the names of Geldauran and Daern’thal and Anaris, for they are the Forgotten Ones, the gods of terror and malice, spite and pestilence.
There are references in elven mythology to another race of gods: gods of evil, with whom the gods of the elven pantheon fought an endless war. These gods are now known as the Forgotten Ones, and for good reason as even the hahrens, or elven elders, know little to nothing about them. According to legend they, along with the elven pantheon, were trapped away from the world at around the time of the fall of Arlathan.
When a Dalish Elf comes of age, they are marked with intricate tattoos representing one of the elven gods. The tattooing is preceded by meditation on the gods and the ways of the Dalish, and by purifying the body and the skin. It is not known whether this practice was part of the worship of elven gods in ancient Elvhenan or is a more recent development.
The elven pantheon was revered in the time of Elvhenan , before the humans came to Thedas . Little is known about how the gods were worshiped at this time except that the gods had temples with guards in specially made armor, the elves worshiped their gods for months at a time, and that worship may have included rituals involving water and kneeling and praying before altars.
Once the elves found that the very presence of the humans, or “quicklings,” caused the once immortal elves to age and die, they attempted to isolate themselves. Many believed that the gods had judged them unworthy of their long lives and cast them down among the quicklings. The elves retreated within Elvhenan but were ultimately conquered and enslaved by the Tevinter Imperium . During their centuries of slavery , the elves lost most of their language and history and the worship of the old elven pantheon declined. However, the elves, led by Shartan , stood beside Andraste in her fight against the Imperium, and their reward was a new home in The Dales , where the worship of the elven pantheon could be revived. The elves left Tevinter for their new homeland in 1025 TE .
The elves’ new homeland was to be short-lived by the standards of Elvhenan, however. Over the next 270 years or so, relations between the elves and their human neighbours deteriorated, and in the early Glory Age there were numerous border skirmishes between The Dales and Orlais which soon escalated into war. When it appeared that the elves might actually capture Val Royeaux , the Chantry called for a holy war, resulting in a new Exalted March against The Dales that completely crushed the elves by 2:20 Glory. The lands of the Dales were appropriated by Orlais, with elven settlements being uprooted and worship of the elven gods forbidden. Elves who accepted the Chantry’s offered truce were required to accept the Maker and live in ghettos, known as Alienages within human settlements. Some elves, however, refused to give up their worship or their dream of their own homeland, and they became the Dalish .