so hey your dragon age thoughts are always v well thought out and interesting so i was wondering what you thought of the scaled ones??
[GIF: Ronaldo from Steven Universe and his infamous ‘Snake people, or sneople, control our government’ line]
Right now, I’m not sure what to make of them, but I will happily throw some theories at you. YMMV on how much like Ronaldo I end up sounding.
So first, speaking of Ronaldo, the conspiracy theorist in the Frostback Basin has some things to say that might be relevant:
I speak of Orlais’ attempts to rouse the Snake Kings of the Earth against Tevinter’s alliance with the Moon Men.
This is explained in Ser Ycke’s Pamphlets, of which I have read
many, which explain things such as why the snake appears in Tevinter
drawings, and how the Snake-Kings came to exist. (Crystals.) Did Moon
Men have their Tevinter Allies keep the Reptilian Ones here, so they could interrogate them at their Leisure? None can say, but I will say yes as that would Fit My Theories.
If one looks keenly, once can see the Frostback Basin must have been
manipulated by the hand of some Vast Thing. The crater in the Lowland
Fortress was not the natural settling of mountains, but came to exist
after the shifting of Something Below Ground! The Snake-Kings must be
vast, and their movements powerful to cause the Earth to Quake with
their moving. It is Clear as the Sky that Ancient Tevinter, along with
the Moon Men, came here to make an Attempt to kill a buried Snake-King
under the crater!!! Too many Signs and Portents are aligned to think
This person, whom I shall dub Ronaldo from Rivain, is a meta-er after my own Heart.
So first - yeah, I think we can safely assume that Ronaldo from Rivain is wrong about a lot of things. His comments about the dragon statues, for example, we know to be wrong, because we know that the statues are amplifiers for the ice-melting Tevinter death ray. (Come to think of it, Ronaldo’s version might be a little bit saner than the actual truth…) That said, he’s not a real-life conspiracy theorist, and has the distinct advantage of having been written by, you know, one of the game’s writers. I absolutely would not put it past Bioware to bury something groundbreakingly important in a codex entry that looks like total rubbish; it wouldn’t even be the first time.
Second, I’m not even getting into the Moon Men bit. There are ways some sense might be massaged out of it - Mythal is a moon goddess - but I’d like to use slightly less speculation than Ronaldo, and in any case we have nothing terribly solid to go on.
Third - ‘The Snake-Kings must be
vast, and their movements powerful to cause the Earth to Quake with
their moving’ is clearly a little bit off, though not nearly as off as you’d expect; we can now be fairly certain that Ronaldo’s conflated his Snake-Kings with the Titans.
This sounds like a terribly stupid thing to do until you realise that the only other time we’ve heard of the Scaled Ones directly, it’s been in the Deep Roads and within spitting distance of… you got it… a Titan.
In the flame’s light, we saw a man’s body like those of the Imperium humans, but covered in scales. It wore armor and even had a dagger hanging from its hip. Its jaws wrapped around Drohg’s face and twisted. The crunch of his neck breaking seemed to echo down the Deep Roads. The torch fell from his hands, and we lashed out.
The Scaled Ones had set up a camp at an intersection in the Deep Roads. In the center there was a golden altar fashioned in the shape of fire. A chill swept through me. On the tip of each flame hung the corpses of those we’d lost—including Father and Drohg. They’d been drained of blood, leaving only bone wrapped in grey skin. A robed Scaled One stood before the altar. Its voice was different from the others: softer, almost feminine. It chanted and raised a basin of blood towards the altar. The other Scaled Ones bowed low. The robed Scaled One produced fire from its palm and mouth and ignited the blood.
So let’s talk about the Scaled Ones that this dwarf (Dave from the Deep Roads?) saw.
I’m a little ??? on what they’re actually supposed to look like. Dave says ‘a human man but covered in scales’, but then goes on to describe the creature wrapping its jaws around an adult dwarf’s neck. That’s more differentiation than just a few scales and some talons. The wiki authors have decided that this image, from the Temple of Dirthamen, is probably of a Scaled One:
But I don’t think we have any proof of that aside from the fact that the descriptions seem to tally with the mural. If we go with it and assume that this is a Scaled One, then I think we also have to assume that Dave the dwarf had never seen a human in his life.
Either that, or humans looked very different in his time.
I’m working around to a point here, but just bear with me, because I’m afraid I need to go on yet another tangent first.
Seemingly Unrelated Codex Entry #3: Pyramids of Par Vollen
Beneath the leaves and vines covering the walls, you can still make out the stylized carvings that adorn them. The paint has long since flaked away, but the silhouettes are clear: intricate sea creatures, shipwrights, musicians, archers, and kings. Here and there, odd figures are depicted, tall, horned, always in a position of authority and respect.
What were these horned figures to the ancients of Par Vollen? Priests, ritualistically crowned? Heroes? Gods, perhaps? We may never know the truth. But when the Qunari arrived from the sea, horned and carrying the word of the Qun, perhaps instead of conquerors, the people of Par Vollen saw an old legend returning to them.
I’m about to do something which makes my inner real-world historical sociologist scream, but probably makes sense in the context of a fictional world constructed by people who aren’t quite as liberal as they like to think.
I’m going to take the phrase ‘Some ritual purpose’ uncritically.
(If you’re wondering what the problem is with this in the real world, I would direct you to David Maculay’s fantastic Motel of Mysteries. But this isn’t the real world, so let’s just… go with it. Ugh.)
Okay, brief digression aside, let’s circle back around and actually discuss the pyramids of Par Vollen. And the Qunari. I promise this will all make sense in a minute.
So we know that drinking dragon blood leads to physical, inheritable changes (the Reaver specialisation; Calenhad’s bloodline), and we know from Cassandra and a couple of other places that drinking copious amounts of the stuff leads to visible (and still presumably inheritable) changes. Like scales. And possibly horns.
And we also know, via Bull and Titus in Those Who Speak, that Qunari are dragon blooded:
[A panel from Those Who Speak vol. 1. Titus uses fire magic on advancing Qunari soldiers, stating that ‘Dragonfire might have been their birthright. Instead it kills’.]
There is a popular fandom theory that Qunari are elves (hence the pointy ears) who were fed dragon blood; I don’t think this sounds too unlikely.
What if the thing that Par Vollen’s indigenous people were celebrating wasn’t the horns, but the dragon blood?
Could the Scaled Ones be the remnants of Par Vollen’s indigenous society? At the very least, the remnants of its religion? A religion based around not only worshipping dragons, but ingesting their blood for Some Ritual Purpose?
Considering Par Vollen’s proximity to Tevinter, some similarity in religion wouldn’t be unexpected - in fact, considering that the Neromenians supposedly first appeared in the north, Par Vollen’s indigenous society could well have been the original Neromenians, or the island could have been their first landing point in Thedas.
And then they went into the Deep Roads because… reasons. I don’t know.
That part doesn’t tie up, except for the part where we know they are
(or were) there. That said, we do know that Tevinter and the dwarves are age-old allies, and were even in the time of Elvhenan (Witch Hunt).
One thing I do know, though: if Ronaldo’s right about the Tevinter Imperium and the Moon Men waging war against the Scaled Ones, or Scones, instead of working with them - and if he’s right about the Scones being somehow linked to the Titans - then DA4, if it touched on this at all, could be fascinating in ways we can’t begin to predict just yet.
Do I sound like a conspiracy theorist yet?