Dragon Age 4: Who Is Sandal And Where The Heck Is He?!
Sandal is an odd dwarf first introduced in Dragon Age: Origins. Under the care of Bodan, a fellow dwarf that found Sandal in the Deep Roads, this mysterious character has been at the center of intrigue since his introduction. He also foretold the events in Dragon Age Inquisition during side dialogue heard in Dragon Age II, a massive spoiler that no one recognized as such at the time. He was a huge part of the first two games, though he all but vanished when the third Thedas adventure arrived. In Inquisition's Trespasser DLC, he was conspicuously missing ever since his big foreshadowing in the previous game while he was living in Kirkwall. With all that being said, I have one big question for BioWare going into Dragon Age 4: Where the heck is Sandal?!
Sandal Feddic is easily one of the most mysterious figures you meet while saving the world. His involvement in the games is deceptively simplistic, hiding a deeper mystery that ties him to the Deep Roads, the Blight, and possibly even the ancient elven gods. Before we dive too deep into where in Thedas is Sandal Feddic, let's first give some more backstory on this character's impact on the BioWare franchise.
There are spoilers for Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II, and Inquisition within this article. Read with caution.
Who is Sandal in Dragon Age?
As mentioned, he's an odd dwarf with very little to say outside of differing degrees of "Enchantment!" But when he does break from his usual vocabulary? It means something. First introduced in Dragon Age Origins, our dear Warden happens upon Bodan and Sandal outside of Lothering. Under attack by Darkspawn, the ooglies booglies of the below-ground Deep Roads, the player can save them and bring them back to camp. Calling him his "sweet boy," Bodan offers a little insight into who this character is, though it becomes apparent quickly that his origins are unknown.
After 'saving' Sandal from the Deep Roads when he was a mere five years old, deep beneath the old Aeducan Thaig, the pair of dwarfs quickly fell into a father/son relationship. What's interesting about this encounter is that Bodan finds Sandal amidst a plethora of artwork and tributes made to the past on the walls of the ancient Thaig. Elves and dragons are the most immediate depictions found, but other lesser-known monsters can also be seen. We'll get to this a little bit later, but keep that in mind for right now.
During the first encounter for this duo, it is clear that Sandal has some form of Blight connection, much like the Grey Wardens have when fighting to protect the world. For Grey Wardens, this means they have ingested darkspawn blood, which controls a taint that protects them from a swift death, but at the cost of a shortened lifespan as that corruption slowly eats them alive. It's not explained what Sandal's connection to the darkspawn is when we first meet him, but it's clear right off of the bat that he's more than just a simple dwarf.
Hawke and crew later meet up with both Sandal and Bodan in Dragon Age II, eventually employing the pair to work in the Amell estate. His "Enchantment"-driven excitement carries over into the second game, once more setting him up to be a valuable resource for all things runes and crafting for our protagonist.
More than just a dwarf
In Dragon Age Origins, Sandal was an intriguing character. In Dragon Age II, he became a pivotal one. When Hawke first meets with him in the second act of the game in their mansion, Sandal alludes to something more sinister happening behind the scenes. When the player goes to speak with him within the Amell estate, Sandal opens up by saying that a "scary old lady" tells him "bad things" inside of his head. This was more than his usual one-word response, and it's not the last time that Sandal said something prophetic and profound. Who this "old lady" is, remains to be seen, but it wouldn't be far-fetched to assume he's speaking of Flemmeth, who we later learn in Inquisition is the elven goddess Mythal.
Speaking of prophecy, he also blatantly tells Dragon Age fans what we now know to be part of the premise of Dragon Age 4. Towards the latter half of the second game, he mysteriously tells Hawke, "One day, the magic will come back. All of it. Everyone will be just like they were. The shadows will part, and the skies will open wide." He then adds, "When he rises, everyone will see." At the time, this just seemed like meaningless chatter, but after the events of Inquisition - specifically the Trespasser DLC - we now know that he was telling us something far more important: the events that will lead us into Dragon Age 4.
The last known location of this pile of mystery is Orlais, where he and Bodan left after the events of Dragon Age II to aid Empress Celene.
Sandal never made his expected appearance in the third game, but his influence could be felt with the final DLC. At the end of the Inquisition, the Inquisitor's companion Solas just disappears. The final scene of the main game sees Solas turning to Mythal after his perceived failure, to which she agrees to allow him to absorb all of her souls (Dragon Age lore is super fun). Given that she has the soul of an archdemon embedded in her as well, this gives him a lot of power. We get see that power in action when we meet up with him again as part of the conclusion to the Trespasser DLC where we learn his true nature: Solas is the Dread Wolf, the trickster elven god from Dalish legend. He reveals to the Inquisitor that he was the creator of the Veil that separates this world and the next and vows to "restore what once was." What once was, according to Solas, was a world where the elven reigned, sometimes viciously, and magic was as natural as breathing.
Though not Sandal himself, an Easter egg about this character was found during the events of Trespasser when the Inquisitor finds a book titled The Very Private Diary of Sanda Feddic, DO NOT READ!!!! Because our dear Inquizzy doesn't really follow directions, they read it anyway, only to find the term "Enchantment" repeated over and over.
The most common fan theory surrounding Sandal is that he's actually an Old God, an aspect that is very heavily hinted at being a pivotal point of the franchise for the upcoming game. With Dragon Age 4 taking players to places we've heard about but have yet to travel to, such as Tevinter, Antiva, and Nevarra, BioWare has teased that Solas' quest will awaken old powers and even older enemies. This is the theory that I find myself leaning towards the most, because even though he seems unassuming, he's incredibly lucid when it matters. After all, Sandal warned Bodan, at the tender age of five, of the coming darkspawn when they first met. When Hawke recovers him in the Deep Roads, he's seen safely alongside a frozen giant ogre. When asked how Sandal did that, he simply replied, "BOOM."
It's clear he has a gift with lyrium, a substance that mages and templars alike use for their powers. In the Descent DLC in Inquisiton, we learn of the Titans, an ancient force far within the Deep Roads. Valta, a dwarf that we meet up with in this expansion, reconnects to an awoken Titan and becomes "Pure." She can hear the "song" of the lyrium, which we learn is actually the blood of a Titan and not just a mysterious mineral, and becomes attuned to the Titan in a way that strips her of what she was pre-connection. I remember playing through this DLC and having a few puzzle pieces fall into place thinking, "That's Sandal! That could explain Sandal!" I don't know if he's an Old God, but I do, at the very least, think he is Pure, and that is why he is seemingly so lyrium-addled when interacting with the rest of the world. It would also explain the seemingly random bouts of lucidity and his connection to a world larger than just what's on the surface.
There is even a theory that he could be the Maker, though I really can't see the merit in this. That being said, if this ends up being the million-dollar answer, it would make sense then why the Maker has seemingly abandoned Thedas as this world goes through Hell time and time again.
All of this is intriguing, but it is important to remember that David Gaider, a writer formally attached to the Dragon Age franchise while at BioWare, mentioned in the past that Sandal was never supposed to be more than a "joke character." Gaider said previously, "There was a point really late in DA2, we did DA2 in a really short span of time so we were working really hard, and as is typical for writers, we have to finish before anyone else. So we're in the pool first, we have to be out of the pool first, so all the cinematic designers and voice recording stuff can start to occur. So all our crunch time is happening in the middle of the project as opposed to at the end. So right in the middle we get a little punch-drunk and put in things to amuse ourselves, or we go insane."
He added, "Yeah, and we probably go insane anyhow. But I was writing Sandal and I put in this, I think he has a one percent chance of delivering a prophecy. And I remember sitting there going 'What do I know about where we're going with the franchise that I can be really vague about?' So I put it in, and I remember reading on the forums and it was very pleasing that to have someone say 'Yeah, Sandal did this thing, he delivered this whole prophecy!' and to have everyone say 'Nooooo, what are you talking about, I never heard that and I clicked on Sandal forever'. Whether Sandal will ever be more important to the narrative, I guess we'll see. Right now with Sandal I just see him as the whim strikes me. To appear a little insensitive is a concern of mine, same with Serendipity and a couple of other characters, sometimes you can unintentionally say things about characters that you didn't intend and you have to be a little bit wary of that, know what I mean?"
But if that's the case, why choose to enact Sandal's exact prophecy at the end of the second game? A prophecy that lines up exactly with what Solas reveals his plans to be? Plans that will restore magic and the elven empire, but will destroy the rest of the world and the living beings within it. Was that just a vague reference line thrown in for amusement to see the heads of Dragon Age fans spin? It wouldn't be the first time, it's why we're all so addled ourselves.
I hope that BioWare sees the potential setup with Sandal. While he may have started as a joke, he has the potential to be a key player in the events of Dragon Age 4 that no one saw coming, especially if the writers go in the Old God direction. I also just want to see this little cutie patootie once more, can you really blame me?
All of this to say one thing: Give us back Sandal, you cowards! I'm (jokingly) scowling in BioWare's direction. I hope they feel it.
To learn more about my massively obsessed Dragon Age thoughts, you can check out my conspiracy theory here where I go into why I think Solas purposefully infected himself with Red Lyrium and why I think we'll have a Mortalitasi companion in the upcoming game.
Update: 4/28/2021: I wanted to add one more fan theory that a person shot over to me over on my Instagram after this feature went live. I love it so much, I plan on digging more thoroughly into it today. Their theory is as follows, "I think he was the first dwarf mage and was badly made tranquil by the dwarves out of fear and dropped in the deep roads to die. cutting him off from the fade by people inexperienced [could have] permanently damaged him. But, he's a very accomplished rune crafter, which has allowed him to craft powerful runes to replace his [lost] spells."