Return of the Dark Ones
With the First Blight came the darkspawn and they have been a plague on the world ever since. The Chantry teaches that the darkspawn cannot be utterly vanquished until sin has been banished from the world, for they are man’s hubris made flesh. Regardless of where they first came from, the legions of the darkspawn now make war upon all other races, emerging from the dwarven Deep Roads in vast numbers with each Blight. Darkspawn are malicious creatures, regarding all species not their own as slave labor, sport, or provisions. They tend to even look upon their fellow darkspawn with disfavor and even when they travel together in force, they will group together with their own kind (genlocks with genlocks, hurlocks with hurlocks, and so forth). Fortunately for the other sentient creatures of Thedas, darkspawn despise the sun and their vision is impaired in daylight.
The majority of darkspawn carry within them a manifestation of the Blight, a sickness that is frequently fatal to all other beings. Those unfortunate enough to succumb to this “taint” soon collapse into agony and madness. In Ferelden, the term “ghoul” refers to a creature that was infected by the darkspawn, but somehow managed to survive. All ghouls were invariably tough once in either mind or body, or they would not have survived the Taint; however, their former selves are usually all but spent on the struggle to live through the blight’s ravages. Ghouls are drawn to their darkspawn makers and serve them until death, which usually comes within a few months of their transformation. Many ghouls are simply insane, and they claw at their enemies with broken fingernails, like animals. Animals invariably turn into voracious predators, unnaturally slaughtering all in their path. More intelligent victims eventually seek out darkspawn to join their ranks, usually as slaves, though warriors of exceptional prowess may become foot soldiers instead. They are wretched beings whose eyes swim with madness over what they have become. Many are physically changed by the taint, slowly growing bony spines or other signs of their twisted state. Others retain some of their intelligence and they use weapons and sometimes even craft them for their darkspawn masters.