After working in the Forgotten Realms Dungeons & Dragons setting for years, video game developer Bioware decided to create its own fantasy setting from scratch for a new series of games. Taking basic adjustments from our own history, like what if a Joan of Arc figure was the acknowledged prophet of God instead of Jesus, and adjusting concepts from traditional fantasy, such as what if magic wasn’t revered but considered a corrupting influence, they created the world of Thedas. With two games, an expansion, a whole host of DLC, books, comics, an RPG, and a third game on the horizon, the creative team has compiled all the facts about their new universe into one book, The World of Thedas.
Fans of the Dragon Age games who thoroughly read all the Codex entries and listened to every word uttered by the games’ characters are not going to learn anything new in this book. It’s all there, able to be accessed in the primary sources, but what The World of Thedas does is compile all this information into a gorgeous looking and easy-to-use volume. While an avid fan of the series, there were many details I had forgotten or simply never ran across during my playthroughs. This makes the book a great refresher for fans of the game series and a perfect resource for GMs and players of the Dragon Age RPG I might add.
The book is divided into several chapters covering the races, nations, and religions of Thedas, along with other chapters on magic, the Fade, the blights, and the animals unique to Thedas. Some of my favorite additions are the two-page, fully detailed map of Thedas and the timeline that scrolls across the bottom of the entire book, recounting the most prominent events of all nine ages of Chantry rule and the millennia that occurred prior. While the big events were familiar, I didn’t know roughly when they occurred or how everything related together until I went along the timeline, which is simply a wonderful resource.
Each of these chapters includes some of the art from Dragon Age II and original concept art for the various settings, lands, and situations. These are not half-finished pieces but vibrant depictions of these lands and scenarios. For readers new to Dragon Age, these images provide a perfect visual representation of the concepts the text presents. Furthermore, the volume contains sidebars containing first-hand accounts of certain experiences and additional information such as words from the Dwarven language, a translation between the different calendars used across the nations, and summations of facts like the seven old gods and which have risen as Archdemons. Can I once again highlight the usefulness of this for RPG players?
The book is missing a few bells and whistles I wish had been present. As nice as the glossary in the back is, I wish they had attached an index to these sections. The one to two-sentence descriptions might be enough but what if there was some obscure detail someone was looking for quickly, though this may be my inner GM talking. I also wish that more unique information had been included for hardcore Dragon Age fans who already have the timeline memorized and can rattle off the names of the Archdemons. Especially some tidbits about Dragon Age III would have been an enticing motivation to read this book given the lack of details elsewhere.
My few gripes aside, besides being an overall excellent guide and resource, reading this book reignited my passion for the setting and the series. With Dragon Age III set to come out later this year, I was debating on replaying the previous games, but The World of Thedas pushed me over the edge, and I rolled up a new Origins character the same night I started reading this book and ventured forth once again into the incredible world of Thedas.