The Chantry is the dominant religious organization in Thedas. It is based on the Chant of Light, a series of teachings written by Andraste, the prophet of the Maker, and was founded by Kordillus Drakon, the first emperor of Orlais.
During the Towers Age there was debate in the Chantry over whether Andraste was truly divine. It was largely the Imperial Chantry's belief that she was not divine that led to the schism in the Chantry and the eventual founding of the Imperial Chantry as a separate religion in 3:87 Towers. Those of the Imperium refer to the Chantry outside of Tevinter as the "Orlesian Chantry".
The Chantry's followers are known as Andrastians. "Chantric" is also an acceptable adjective to refer to something or someone that is of the Chantry religion.
The faithful who give their lives to the Exalted Marches earn a special place at the side of the Maker as the "Exalted". A still greater honor for service, the defenders of the faith are sometimes given the title of "Anointed". The Anointed are seen as the hands of the Maker and the title is exceptionally rare.
You can view/hide the Table of Contents above and information below by clicking on "Details".
1. Recent History
• With the start of Mage-Templar War in 9:40 Dragon, the Chantry lost control over the Circles of Magi, Templar Order, and the Seekers of Truth due to the late Lord Seeker Lambert declaring the Nevarran Accord null and void for Divine Justinia V's interference with the mage revolt at the White Spire.
• At a later stage of the Mage-Templar War, Divine Justinia V managed to organize peace talks between representatives of both mages and templars at the Temple of Sacred Ashes near Haven. However, Corypheus infiltrated the Conclave to use Justinia as a ritualistic sacrifice. The ritual was interrupted and the following explosion killed the Divine and most of the Grand Clerics worthy to succeed her, creating the Breach in the sky, and ushering in a rash of Veil Tears throughout the area.
• With no Divine to guide them, Chantry leadership fell to chaos with no clear successor for the Divine. What's more, Chancellor Roderick used his influence to convince the remaining clerics to publicly denounce the reformed Inquisition, calling them heretics for harbouring the sole survivor of the conclave attack, Evelyn Trevelyan, who had been labeled the Herald of Andraste.
• Evelyn traveled to Val Royeaux on the advice of Mother Giselle to address the clerics and give them reason to doubt their denouncement, as the opposition's strength was in their unity. The Chantry was further humiliated when Lord Seeker Lucius Corin refused to bring the templars back into their fold.
• While the Inquisitor supported Vivienne's candidacy for the next Divine, Grand Cleric Victoire* played the Game better in the end—taking the Sunburst Throne for herself at the midnight hour. The task of keeping the peace as well as reforming and rebuilding old institutions associated with the Orlesian Chantry fell to its new divine. Given the name Divine Victoria, Victoire immediately enacted reform: a new Templar Order and a new Circle of Magi. She issued a proclamation denouncing the Inquisition, prompting it to be —at least publicly—dissolved. Initially, Divine Victoria had wanted its members arrested but pressure from the monarchy of Orlais prompted her to issue many of its key members a formal pardon instead.
* We have decided on this alternative so that anyone looking to play either Vivienne, Cassandra, or Leliana will have a bit more creative freedom in-game. • The Chantry previously controlled the supply of lyrium in Thedas, thus previously controlling the templars in turn. Templars have since rejoined the Order, under the new Divine, on the condition that her leash would not be reattached.
• With the Dragon's Breath disrupted and any hope of a swift victory dashed, the Qunari retreated back to the North. Few knew what debates were waged in Par Vollen, but not long after the Exalted Council, the Qunari launched new attacks against Tevinter. Their aggression caught the already unstable Imperium off guard. Tevinter was soon mired in a war many feared could spread across Thedas. Historically, the two Divines—Orlesian and Imperial—had often united against Qunari threats leaving many to wonder what decision Divine Victoria will ultimately come to in the end. Thus far, the Qunari have already conquered the city of Ventus, known in the past as Qarinus, and the Nocen Sea remains the site of ongoing naval battles between the Imperium's fleet and Qunari dreadnoughts. Rumours of the inevitability of an Exalted March have begun to swirl throughout Thedas.
2. Purpose & Practices
The Chantry originated as one of the many cults emerging upon the legend of Andraste’s martyrdom. Known as the Cult of the Maker, it was without central leadership and its followers were oppressed. The clerics had to hide their lore from Tevinter magisters by way of ciphers and encoded scrolls. In -130 Ancient, cult practitioners organized Andraste's teachings into hymns, creating the Chant of Light and the cult popularity spread.
The Nevarran Accord, signed in 1:20 Divine, brought the Inquisition and the newly created Circles of Magi under the Chantry's authority. The Inquisition divided into two new orders: the Templar Order, charged with looking over the Circles and hunting apostates and maleficars, and the Seekers of Truth, overseers of the templars and special agents of the Divine.
The Chantry's goal is to spread the Chant of Light to all four corners of the world and to all races. The view of the Chantry on non-humans is that they need saving—that they have turned even further from the Maker's grace than humanity has—a view that has lead to much of humanity to look down on them. The elves worshipped, and in some cases still worship, the Elven pantheon, and dwarves venerate the Stone. Once all peoples have accepted the Chant and practice its teachings, the Maker will return and restore the world to its former glory. As such, Andrastian religion in Thedas can be described as deistic in that the Maker abandoned the world, and he will not heed prayer or perform any other function until his favor is regained.
1. Chantries provide spiritual guidance for local communities throughout most of Thedas.
2. Illiterate individuals, i.e. those who do not know how to read or write, might go to a Chantry to have letters written for, or read to, them.
3. Chantries essentially serve as communication networks throughout Thedas, as well - for those wishing to send or receive letters abroad.
4. Offertory is part of the Chantry service, as well.
5. The funeral rites of the Chantry involve cremation. As Andraste's body was burned, and her spirit ascended to stand by the Throne of the Maker, so too will the spirits of her followers. The practice of cremation may also be to ward off the possibility of the corpse becoming the subject of demonic possession. The pyres of peasants are often small and ringed with stones. Such burnings occur within the settlement, despite the fire risk, rather than at a distance. Criminals may be burned in a mass pyre.
6. The Chantry hosts a Ten Year Gathering, in which pilgrims journey to the Grand Cathedral in Val Royeaux to pray for peace.
7. A chantry can serve as a neutral ground for two parties at war to meet, where violence is forbidden.
8. Chantries also care for the sick and collect alms for the poor.
The Chantry's faith is rooted in four core principles:
1. Magic is a corrupting influence in the world.
2. Humankind's sin of pride destroyed the Golden City and created the darkspawn i.e. the terrible embodiment of that sin.
3. Andraste was the bride of the Maker, a prophet and martyr whose ultimate sacrifice must be remembered and honored.
4. Humankind has sinned and must seek penance to earn the Maker's forgiveness. When all people unite to praise the Maker, he will return to the world and make it a paradise.
Until the Maker's return, the faithful believe that the Maker watches, a patient observer rather than an absent god. They do not believe the Maker will perform miracles on their behalf, but he will shed a tear for the suffering of those who do not deserve it. The Chantry's interpretation of Andraste's teachings emphasizes death, guilt, and the difference among races and genders.
Moreover, Chantry personnel from Brother/Sister to Divine are not allowed to engage in romantic relationships as they take vows of chastity and believe their love is reserved for the Maker as Andraste had done. In contrast, Templars and Seekers are permitted to marry—this previously required the express approval of Chantry leaders, but the requirement of seeking permission was abolished by Divine Victoria as part of her reforms. Liasons within the ranks is still frowned upon, however.
Many of Thedas' most prominent scholars come from within the Chantry's ranks. The Chantry actively encourages its followers to read books other than the Chant of Light. Chantry-approved writings include Ines Arancia's "The Botanical Compendium", Enchanter Mirdromel's "Beyond the Veil: Spirits and Demons" and Frederic of Serault's "A Study of the Southern Draconids".
The Chantry is not above history revisionism and censorship however. After the Exalted March against the Dales, the Canticle of Shartan was removed from the canonical Chant of Light and all Chantry art depicting elves was ordered destroyed save for a single mural depicting Shartan, whose ears were cropped. Many books are banned by the Chantry as well, usually those dealing with magic and other religions. Erotic literature is frequently banned as well.
A partial list of especially banned books:
◦ The Imperial Chant of Light.
◦ The Qun.
◦ "Questioning the Chant", by Magister Vibius Agorian.
◦ "Veilfire, a Beginner's Primer with Numerous Teachings, Exercises, and Applications" by Magister Pendictus.
◦ "An Alchemical Primer of Metallurgy and The Alchemist's Encyclopedia", by Lord Cerastes of Marnas Pell.
◦ "The Randy Dowager".
◦ "Carmenum di Amatus", an anthology of poetry.
◦ The Chantry also recommends caution when dealing with the works of Varric Tethras, Laudine (a former Sister, in fact), and Elven sources in general.
1.4 Exalted Marches
With so much influence over the people, the Chantry can exert considerable political pressure on the ruling classes in many areas of concern. In extraordinary times, and in deference to Andraste, the Divine may also be moved to declare an Exalted March—religious crusades led by the Chantry. The first Exalted March was that of Andraste against the Tevinter Imperium, which technically predates the Chantry proper. The Second Exalted March was against the elves of the Dales, who had been Andraste's allies during her fight against the Imperium but whose relations with Orlais and the Chantry had deteriorated to the point of war by the time of the early Glory Age. During the Black and Exalted Ages, four Exalted Marches were called against those who the Imperial Chantry considered as heretical. Most recent are the three Marches against the Qunari invaders during the Steel and Storm Ages.
According to the Chantry, the faithful who give their lives to the Exalted Marches earn a special place at the side of the Maker as the "Exalted".
This is only a summary of Exalted Marches. For more information on such, please refer to the Exalted Marches codex instead.
3. Chantry Hierarchy
◦ Divine Victoria - Victoire
◦ Left Hand/Right Hand*
◦ Grand Clerics*
◦ Revered Mothers
Sisters & Brothers:
◦ High/Grand Chancellor*†
◦ Clerics/Elders (i.e. Scholars)
◦ Initiates (i.e. those who recently took vows; also pre-Templars)
◦ Affirmed (i.e. lay-folk)
* Leadership roles will be played by staff until further notice, as these are positions with a great deal of influence over other players - we want to make sure established players of T&B are in these roles. In-game promotions can and will happen, however.
† based on Roderick Asignon's canon.
3.1. The Role of Men in the Chantry
Men are only able to become true priests in the Imperial Chantry of the Tevinter Imperium; in the rest of Thedas they are judged by the betrayal of Maferath and found too passionate to lead in matters of spirit. Nevertheless, male members of the Chantry can and do play a vital role in its workings. Though men are generally assumed to be merely templars, chanters, or scholars, they also comprise an "invisible army" that keeps the Chanty fed and in good repair, and also sees to the physical well-being of Andrastian faithful. Furthermore, the male role of High Chancellor is one that works directly alongside the Divine and is in many ways her administrator and public gatekeeper. In this way, the Chantry's male acolytes allow their female counterparts to guide the souls of Thedas while seeing to it that small but vital services are rendered to their material lives.
Members of the Chantry often worship in buildings called chantries. These chantries are present in almost every village, town, and city and some will also maintain a Chanter's Board. Chantry buildings might vary in design and architecture depending on their size, and even when or where they were constructed.
Recliffe’s Chantry is very typical of most Chantry floor plans:
Amaranthine's Chantry (and Lothering's, before it was destroyed) is an example of a semi-typical layout - minus the apse (it almost looks like a flipped typical floor plan):
Kirkwall’s Chantry is an example of an atypical (i.e. unusual) floor plan, but that is likely due to its Tevinter architecture:
5.1.1. Structural Terms*
1. Facade: this is the exterior of the chantry where the front doors are found - a Chanter’s Board is usually found just outside as well.
2. Atrium/Foyer: the main hallway immediately inside the front doors - typically where people mill about and chat before prayer and where, unless an area has been entirely sectioned off, one can see most of what’s going on inside the building. An atrium will usually lead directly toward a chantry’s nave, but the atriums of unique floor plans, like that of the Kirkwall Chantry, might lead to the crossing instead with the nave located elsewhere e.g. the chantry in Kirkwall appears to have multiple naves, one located on a raised dias north of it’s crossing, and others found on the the second floor overlooking the nave below†.
3. Nave/Pews: includes all areas available for lay worshippers, including the side-aisles and atrium.
4. Side-Aisles: the open, candle-lit walkways, lining the atrium and nave with arcades or colonnades, found at either side of the main hall’s centre i.e. semi-private areas, since they open up to the nave albeit still areas one might be able to go walk, sit, or stand as well as pray, study, or have a conversation in.
5. Crossing/Transept: this is the open centre of the chantry, before or after where the pews are - in larger chantry buildings, the other two sides of the crossing might extend to private areas or more corridors to explore; in smaller chantries, the other two sides of the crossing would just be the walls.
6. Dais/Choir/Chancel: this is the raised platform where the leader of a chantry will preach atop from and where, if pews are provided, members of the clergy might sit - it may or may not be attached to, or combined with, the apse depending on the dais’ actual location. If it's combined with the dais, specifically, (i.e. the altar being in the middle of the raised platform, as opposed to in an attached apse or sanctuary) the dais would be called a chancel instead.
7. Apse/Sanctuary: this is the semi-circular end of a chantry building ahead of, or attached to, where most daises/choirs are typically found - it’s also where you’d most likely find the main altar, triptych or altarpiece, a statue of Andraste, and a chantry’s holy brazier.
8. Dormitory: the private living areas of the clergy, divided in separate cells - non-clergy would not be allowed in these areas. A dormitory might be part of the chantry’s structure, if a chantry does have a crossing that leads to other areas, or a dormitory might be found in a building or tower adjacent to the chantry itself.
9. Cloister: this is a term used to reference monastic life in general, and not an indication of a covered walkway - it might be used interchangeably with dormitory.
10. Refectory: this is a refreshment hall, where clergy would have their meals.
11. Library: Chantry libraries are open to the public, although most people are not literate in Thedas.
* Chantry floor plans in the Dragon Age universe are very similar to the layouts of Roman Catholic cathedrals. We’re using, approximately, the same terms for interior areas of chantries for the sake of descriptive simplicity alone. Since threads are location-based in our in-game/in-character boards, the structural terms list is just to help players with naming where their characters are standing, looking, or headed to etc. during roleplay.
† The nave on the main floor of the Kirkwall Chantry might be more appropriately termed as a dais or choir, if that’s where the Grand Cleric preaches from. That would potentially make the entire second floor something called an “ambulatory” instead, which is a processional way around a chantry’s apse.
Chapels are located in larger self-contained buildings for the convenience of their inhabitants. These mostly include castles, forts, and Circles of Magi. At all chapels, a religious Thedosian may receive a blessing or participate in a prayer to the Maker.
6. Chantry Calendar
The Andrastian Chantry calendar consists of 12, 30-day months - rounding the entire year up to 360 days. The majority of Thedas celebrates 5 major holidays, each tied to the transition of a season or, in the case of First Day, the beginning of a new year.
Although each month has a "high", rather an archaic name in the language of Ancient Tevinter, the majority of Thedosians commonly use the "low" names. Typically, only courts and scholars use the high names for months and, even then, only do so when chronicling.
1st month: Wintermarch (archaic: Verimensis)
12th month: Haring (archaic: Cassus)
The Chantry calendar measures time in "Ages". The current one is the Dragon Age, while the period before was the Blessed Age. Each Age is exactly 100 years, with the next Age's name chosen in the 99th year. The scholars in Val Royeaux advise the Chantry of portents seen in that 99th year, and Chantry authorities pore over the research for months before the Divine announces the name of the imminent Age. The name is said to be an omen of what is to come, of what the people of Thedas will face for the next hundred years. There have been nine Ages so far: Ancient, Divine, Glory, Towers, Black, Exalted, Steel, Storm, Blessed, and Dragon. Typically, the Divine Age is recorded as the "First Age" with scholars relating the Ancient Age as being the period of history when chronicling events was not yet common practice.
The current Age was not meant to be the Dragon Age. Throughout the last months of the Blessed Age, the Chantry was preparing to declare the Sun Age, named for the symbol of the Orlesian Empire, which at that time sprawled over much of the south of Thedas and controlled both Ferelden and what is now Nevarra. It was to be a celebration of Orlesian imperial glory. But as the rebellion in Ferelden reached a head and the Battle of River Dane was about to begin, a peculiar event occurred: a rampage, the rising of a dreaded high dragon. Dragons had been thought practically extinct since the days of the Nevarran dragon hunts, and they say that to see this great beast rise from the Frostbacks was both majestic and terrifying. As the rampage began and the high dragon decimated the countryside in its search for food, the elderly Divine Faustine II abruptly declared the Dragon Age. Some say the Divine was declaring support for Orlais in the battle against Ferelden, since the dragon is an element of the Dufayel family heraldry of King Meghren, the so-called Usurper King of Ferelden. Be that as it may, the high dragon's rampage turned towards the Orlesian side of the Frostback Mountains, killing hundreds and sending thousands more fleeing to the northern coast. The Fereldan rebels won the Battle of River Dane, ultimately securing their independence. Many thus think that the Dragon Age will come to represent a time of violent and dramatic change for all of Thedas. It remains to be seen.
The most popular holidays, called annums, usually take place at the beginning of the month within which they fall. Annum means "annually" or "yearly". Though not reflected on the calendar itself, some annums last longer than a single day with celebrations occasionally extending into a fortnight depending on region.
First Day – Calends (1st) of Wintermarch The traditional start of the year, this holiday involves visits to neighbors and family (in remote areas, this was once an annual check to ensure everyone was alive), as well as a town gathering to commemorate the year past, accompanied by drinking and merriment.
Wintersend – 1st to the 3rd, Guardian Once called “Urthalis” and dedicated to Urthemiel, the Old God of Beauty, this holiday has now become a celebration of the Maker. It stands for the end of winter in many lands and coincides with tourneys and contests at the Proving Grounds in Minrathous. In southern lands, this holiday has become a day of gathering for trade, theater, and, in some areas, the arrangement of marriages.
Summerday – 4th, Bloomingtide
Once called “Andoralis” and dedicated to Andoral, the Old God of Unity, this holiday is universally celebrated as the beginning of summer, a time for joy and, commonly, marriage. Children ready to come of age don white tunics and gowns. They then join a grand procession that crosses the settlement to the local Chantry, where they are taught the responsibilities of adulthood. Summerday is a particularly holy occasion in Orlais.
All Soul’s Day – 7th, August Once called “Funalis” and dedicated to Dumat, the Old God of Silence. However, since Dumat’s rise during the First Blight, Thedosians turn a blind eye to any old ties between the day and the dragon. The holiday is now known across Thedas as All Soul’s Day and spent in somber remembrance of the dead. In some northern lands, the people dress as spirits and walk the streets in parade after midnight. The Chantry uses the holiday to remember the death of Andraste, with public fires that mark her immolation and plays that depict her death.
Satinalia – 1st to the 3rd, Firstfall Once dedicated to the Old God of Chaos, Zazikel—but now attributed more to the second moon, Satina—this holiday is accompanied by wild celebration, the wearing of masks, and naming the town fool as ruler for a day. In Antiva, Satinalia lasts for a week or more (to the 7th or 10th, instead of the 3rd), while a week of fasting follows. In more pious areas, large feasts and the giving of gifts mark the holiday.
The first day of any given month occasionally falls on an annum, or annual holiday—but not always. It also serves as a day for payment of debts and reconciling accounts. Calends usually occur around the new moon. The 2nd day of any month is considered terribly unlucky.
This day occurs nine days, before the ides—typically the 5th day of any month or during the first quarter moon. These are the busiest market days of every major capital, as cities swell with rural tradesfolk and foreign merchants.
The middle of the month, typically the 14th day of such or whenever there is a full moon. Historically, especially in Tevinter, the evening ides of any month were generally a time for dispensing justice or performing rituals. Records detailing the reason behind this have long-since been lost, but most nations still follow in suit of the tradition.
The faith of the southern Chantry is the predominant religion in most of Thedas, but it began as one of many Andrastian cults. These alternative interpretations of the Maker and his prophet are considered heretical by the Chantry, though a few survived the centuries of the Chantry's expansion and one split off from the Chantry itself.
7.1. Blades of Hessarian
The Blades of Hessarian are a secret society that believes they have been chosen to bring Andraste's judgement down on the weak and corrupt. They trace their origin to a Tevinter slave named Trefir, who purportedly received the very sword that killed the prophet from Andraste herself after her death. Ever since, they have considered the bearer of the sword to be her instrument and their leader. The sword currently remains in Cullen Rutherford's possession, given to him by the retired Inquisitor.
7.2. Daughters of Song
The Daughters of Song, which despite the name included men though they called themselves "daughters" as well, were a hedonistic cult that venerated the "union" of Andraste and the Maker before every other consideration. The cult was centered on the village of Virelay in the Fields of Ghislain. They refused to arm themselves when Kordillus Drakon's armies razed Virelay and captured or killed most of the cult.
7.3. Disciples of Andraste
When Andraste was burned in Minrathous, a group of her disciples gathered her ashes and took them deep into the Frostback Mountains of her native Ferelden, where they founded Haven, and built the Temple of Sacred Ashes. The Disciples eventually came to believe that Andraste had been reincarnated in the form of a High dragon and became a dragon cult.
7.4. Empty Ones
The Empty Ones were a short-lived apocalyptic cult based in Nevarra. They believed that Andraste's death heralded the end of the world as the Maker's wrath would soon destroy it for her betrayal. They came to believe the Blight was the Maker's chosen instrument in this and sought out darkspawn to aid them in bringing the Blight. The entire cult was predictably killed after marching into the path of the darkspawn horde during the Second Blight.
7.5. Imperial Chantry
The dominant religion of modern Tevinter, the Imperial Chantry broke away from the Chantry of Orlais in 3:87 Towers over fundamentally differing interpretations of Andraste and her teachings, especially regarding magic. The Imperial Chantry, whose clergy is entirely male, teaches that Andraste was a mage of great power and that "magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him" merely means that mages must use it responsibly.
7.6. Order of Fiery Promise
Originating in the chaotic time of the first Inquisition, the Order of Fiery Promise believes the world must be ended in order to be reborn as a paradise. The first Inquisition crushed the "Promisers" in open battle, but they have persisted throughout the ages and occasionally reemerged to challenge the Seekers of Truth, whom they see as usurpers.
7.7 Cult of Masked Andraste
The Cult of Masked Andraste is a splinter denomination, which worships a hunter aspect of Andraste that is prominent in western Orlais.
8. Heraldry & Symbols
The sun represents the fundamental goal of the Chantry: if all lands under the sun raise their voices in the Chant, then the Maker's eye will turn back to his Children.
Fire is also a symbol of purity in the Chantry, following the example of Andraste, who was cleansed of her sins as she burned at the stake. Each temple maintains a brazier lit with eternal flame in her memory; the most famous of these is the Holy Brazier at the Grand Cathedral in Val Royeaux. Chantry members may also ritually burn themselves, passing their hand over flame or burning a paper upon which their sins are written. In extreme cases, the faithful may undergo branding or self-immolation.