Hardly a corner of Thedas lies untouched by the Tevinter Imperium’s long and bloody history. Many of modern Thedas’ troubles stem directly from the Imperium’s magister lords. The Chantry teaches that it was they who forced their way into the Maker’s Golden City and turned it black with their sin. It was their pride and lust for power that caused the Maker to turn His face away from His creation. And it was those same mages—cast out of the Maker’s realm and twisted into the first darkspawn—who slunk their way deep below the ground and roused the first Archdemon from its slumber.
Two centuries later, just when the voice of Andraste had drawn the Maker’s attention back to the world, the Archon of the Tevinter Imperium released Andraste from life. The death of Andraste, beloved of the Maker, asserts the Chantry, drove Him away once more.
And yet, without the arrogance of the Imperium, neither would Thedas have ever known Andraste. If not for Archon Hessarian’s violent example, the prophet’s Chant of Light might never have survived the rebellion. Word of the prophet’s martyrdom spread, and with it, the Chant of Light.
The Tevinter Imperium lies north of Nevarra and the Free Marches, across the Silent Plains where the Archdemon Dumat was vanquished. In its far north, on the coast of the Nocen Sea is the empire’s capital, Minrathous. Though the empire’s borders have shifted over not just ages but millennia, Minrathous itself remains like an icon. Stone spires rise high above the city, lifting the magisters and the nobility away from the squalor of the decaying metropolis below. Golems still guard the city gates, the dwarven-crafted sentries watching over a city that has yet to fall to an enemy siege.
The old bones of the Imperial Highway stretch all the way from the Tevinter capital of Minrathous to locales like the ancient fortress of Ostagar in the south. Though the road has crumbled in places, much of it is still in use today. Evidence of Tevinter occupation can be found in ruined temples once dedicated to the Old Gods, or in white stone towers constructed by the Imperium’s slaves for aristocratic mages and their peers. The magister-lords of Tevinter even left their mark on the landscape itself: the carved faces of their Old Gods yet glower from the black cliffs of Kirkwall.
The Tevinter magisters’ ruthless quest for power both mundane and otherworldly has tinged people’s view of mages everywhere, leading many Thedosians to believe that all magic users are dangerous and, if not already corrupt, then easily corruptible. While mages in the Imperium enjoy great freedom to practice their craft, their brethren outside of the empire are hunted down and forced to join the Circle of Magi, where they can be kept under the watchful eyes of the templars. The heinous deeds of the ancient Tevinter mages must never be repeated; thus the templars hold the authority to destroy any mage they perceive as a danger to others. The magisters’ mark is therefore well made on the minds of the people, though it be more of a scar than a badge of honor.