The close of Dragon Age: Inquisition saw the advent of a new Divine in the Andrastian Chantry, with one of three allies to the Inquisitor ascending as a result of the player's actions throughout the game: Leliana, the former Divine's left hand; Cassandra, the Divine's right hand and head of the Seekers of Truth; and Vivienne, an Orlesian mage who served as advisor to its Empress Celene.
Each of Dragon Age: Inquisition's conclusions lead the Chantry down different paths, and the results of this could have huge ramifications for the conflicts that players may take part in for Dragon Age 4. Its relationship with the Tevinter Imperium's Imperial Chantry will likely play an important role, particularly as it seems likely that the game will have considerable focus on Tevinter itself.
Dragon Age Chantries: The Need for Cooperation
Rumors have swirled that Dragon Age 4 will take players to the Tevinter Imperium, and at the end of Inquisition's Trespasser DLC, it is suggested that Solas is involving Tevinter on his quest to restore the elves. If the fourth entry in the series takes place there either wholly or in part, the relationships will likely be strained between characters affiliated with the Andrastian Chantry and those of the Imperial Chantry, particularly as each potential Divine in Inquisition takes a different approach to the role. The clearest divide between the two bodies has traditionally been the Chantry's aversion to magic and Tevinter's embracing of it, and the new Divine can be expected to be a pivotal figure as the counterpart to Tevinter's own Black Divine.
If Vivienne, a powerful mage, became Divine at the end of Inquisition, there is a fascinating line of potential understanding to be had between her and the Black Divine, or perhaps a rivalry that inspires the game's next major conflict. As the despair-eating Nightmare demon still resides in the Fade, and will likely be a major threat if Solas makes good on his designs to restore the elves by undoing the Veil (a likely plot point considering his centrality to the trailer), there is a clear existential threat in this scenario for the entirety of Thedas.
Cooperation between two powerful and influential bodies, such as the two Chantries, would be a significant boost to the continent's chances of surviving if Nightmare were to outdo Corypheus's devastating attempt at domination. Even as a mage herself, Vivienne may not be the best placed to broker this potential alliance. The divisions in ideals between both Chantries, and Vivienne's affiliation with Orlais, Tevinter's bitter rival, could be incredible sources of strained cooperation for the player to navigate or influence in Dragon Age 4. Not only that, but Vivienne's reformation of the Circle of Magi also goes against Tevinter's belief in mages' liberty, another conflict that may need warrant a resolution in the next game.
Conflict Between Mages
Vivienne's reformation of the Circle happens regardless of whether the Mages allied with the Inquisition or were conscripted, and the same can be said of Cassandra's reign as Divine. Neither Divine finds a peaceable resolution to the struggles between mages that yearn for freedom and those who accept the Circle. The impact of this state of play for the mages of Thedas stands to be severe: this conflict was present from the start of Dragon Age: Origins and yet, after everything that has transpired in the first three games, the reality of life for many mages may not have improved.
If Tevinter is offering the liberty that so many mages want, perhaps some will defect and build the ranks of Tevinter, improving its chances of restoring itself to its former glory. The resulting attempts at conquest could be a traditional but solid avenue to follow for the next major conflict in Dragon Age if the Divine cannot build bridges with the Black Divine. As much of the series is focused on building alliances and cooperating, with players often having the agency to go the other way, a subplot that focuses on the attempts to avert such a crisis could also be hugely influenced by whoever became Divine.
Red lyrium and Corypheus's legacy, however, stand to make the chances for peace a lot slimmer between the two Chantries. The corrupting qualities of red lyrium which have already been so consequential in previous games are sure to return in the next game, with the corrupted idol from Dragon Age 2 appearing in the short trailer. Meanwhile, Corypheus's assertion that he and his fellow Tevinter High Priests were not responsible for the fall of the Golden City could cause uproar within Tevinter, long-blamed for the Blights and darkspawn by other nations in Thedas.
As Corypheus was such a proponent of red lyrium, having been entirely consumed by it himself, those who believe him about the Golden City may be doubly tempted to try it and become new victims. Players in Dragon Age 4 could therefore be set to face a terrifying upgrade on the red lyrium-corrupted Templars of Inquisition: mages driven mad and empowered by it on a bigger scale than ever before.
Free Mages in Thedas
The conflicts between mages outside Tevinter, however, may not take this course at all with Leliana as Divine. Leliana, much like Vivienne, has already served as an influential figure at the top of Orlesian politics, and this history could be an immediate diplomatic challenge to be resolved in Dragon Age 4. However, her approach to Thedas's mages is drastically different to Vivienne's and Cassandra's. Divine Leliana's epilogue sees her disband Circles, enabling mages to form their own order, and valuing their freedom over the risk they may pose when unchecked by strict institutions.
As such, even though Leliana is not a mage like Vivienne, she has more in common with the Black Divine's principles of magical liberty, which could be a significant factor in avoiding any conflict between the two Chantries and uniting them against a common enemy. With so much bad blood between the Tevinter Imperium and much of Thedas, particularly the Chantry, this stiff diplomatic challenge could be in the player's hands in Dragon Age 4.
Mages, how they are governed, and their relationship with the Chantry have all been at the core of every Dragon Age game so far, and Dragon Age 4 seems likely to follow suit. While the evidence is stacked in favor of a focus on Tevinter, and indeed for the fraught relationship it has with other kingdoms to become more strained, the game's setting and plot remain largely a mystery. The Divine's impact on that narrative, however, from their approach to magic and their influence on swathes of people across Thedas, is almost guaranteed to have major significance regardless of who ascends at the end of Inquisition.
Dragon Age 4 is currently in development.
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