Disclaimer: I own neither Mass Effect or Dragon Age (although I wish I did). No animals were harmed in the writing of this story (as far as I know).
Chapter 1: Timeline
Note: due to differences in the Andrastian and Imperial calendar, it is hard to find exact dates for events prior to the Divine Age. Any era marked with a '?' is a rough estimate of when these events happened.
AD = After Dagon age
40,000,000,000 years ago : The big bang occurs, forming the universe.
50,000 years ago : A prothean cruiser is shot down by a Reaper in Thedas' solar system. The front half crashes on a barren planet ( evenly it will be named Anderfel) but the engine section carries on and explodes in Thedas' upper atmosphere. The element zero used in its FTL drive merges with an underground mineral creating lyrium while the dark energy released goes deeper, forming red lyrium.
2000-1000 (?) years ago : The human Tevinter Imperium is formed during the "Ancient age". During this time the elven city of Arlathan is destroyed by Tevinter and the elves all enslaved. Tevinters rulers, the magisters, quickly become known for their cruelty and disregard for life.
1000 (?) years ago : For reasons unknown, the magisters enter the golden city in the fade but it is made black by their sin (although one of the surviving magisters claims it was never gold to start with and that they were somehow "deceived"). They return as the first Darkspawn and after finding and corrupting the old dragon god Dumat, they start the First Blight which devastates Tevinter and almost wipes out the underground Dwarven empire.
800 (?) years ago : The First Blight ends with Archdaemon Dumat's death at the hands of the newly formed Grey Warden order. At some point (no one agrees when) the Prophet Andraste is born (in either Val Royeaux or Denerim) and leads a rebellion against the Imperium. Despite her death at Tevinter hands Andraste's followers manage to defeat the Imperium. As a reward for aiding Andraste the Elves are given a new homeland, the Dales. The ancient age ends with the founding of the "Chantry" in Orlais and the new calendar.
800-700 years ago: The Divine age. The Second Blight begins. With Tevinter gone people turn to the new Chantry for deliverance. After the Blight is stopped the Chantry signs the Nevarran Accord with the Inquisition and the Seekers of Truth, putting both organisations under Chantry authority. The Circles of Magi are formed so the Chantry can maintain control over the mages.
700-600 years ago: The Glory age. Unwilling to let the Elves continue worshiping their own gods the Chantry invades the Dales in the first "Exalted March." The crusade succeeds and the surviving Elves are either forced to live in Alienages, or as homeless vagabonds.
600-500 years ago: The Towers age. The Grand Cathedral in Val Royaux is completed after two centuries of construction. Archdaemon Toth launches the Third Blight which lasts fifteen years before he is killed. The Tevinter Imperial Chantry cuts ties to Val Royaux in Orlais over differing theological views.
500-400 years ago : The Black age. The Chantry launches four exulted marches against Tevinter but all fail to take the capitol of Minrathrous.
400-300 years ago: The Exalted age. The Fourth Blight begins led by Archdaemon Andoral. With Orlais and Tevinter unwilling to help, the Grey Wardens unite the rest of Thedas and defeat the blight, but only at heavy cost. The Grey Wardens Griffon mounts suffer heavy casualties and go extinct in the next two centuries. In the south King Calenhad Theirin unites the Alamarri tribes and forms the kingdom of Fereldan.
300-100 years ago: The Steel age and the Storm age. These ages are dominated by the First Qunari war between the humans of the Andrasten Chantry and the Qunari, a large, horned race due to differing religious views (again). The war ultimately ends in a stalemate. Dragons are hunted to the brink of extinction.
100-0 years ago: The Blessed age. The Orlisian empire invades and conquers Fereldan but are driven out after fifty eight years of rebellion. Dragons re-emerge giving the next age its name.
0-39 AD : The Dragon age. Archdaemon Urthemiel begins the Fifth Blight in the south of Fereldan. Fereldan forces and a handful of Grey Wardans gather at the ruin of Ostager to face them.
The Battle is a disaster.
Fereldan King Cailan's father-in-law General Logain betrays the king by pulling out his forces and leaving Cailan to die. Two Grey Wardens survive, Alistair, a former Templar and Cailan's half brother and Lyna Mahariel, a Dalish elf. Together with a group including a drunk Dwarf, an old Mage, an outcast Qunari and others they kill Logain and destroy Urthemiel ending the Blight.
Alistair marries Annora, Logain's daughter and Cailan's widow, the two rule Fereldan jointly while Lyna is promoted to Warden Commander.
All is not well however. A Darkspawn civil war erupts with some following the Mother (a mad Broodmother) and others following the Architect (A sentient emissary with good motives yet questionable methods). Lyna agrees to help the Architect kill the mother. After she is dead the Architect retreats underground with the now sentient "disciple" Darkspawn to work on a way to fee all Darkspawn from the old gods and the cycle of Blights. As the Darkspawn are feed for the call of the old gods the taint no longer acts as a hive mind, but it still binds all Darkspawn together on an emotional level.
40 AD : The whole world goes to hell in a hand basket. Countries are at each other's throats, a mage templar war erupts and daemons from the fade begin invading through a tear in the Veil. On top of that Archdaemon Razikale begins the Sixth Blight, leading all of the remaining non-intelligent Darkspawn to the surface. With an apocalypse raging above, the Architect's Darkspawn retreat further underground to the lost Primal Dwarven cities.
56AD: In need of organised leadership, the Architect sets up the Darkspawn Council. While many would be happy to just follow the Architect he declines saying "I am not a king. I am simply an architect." He does however take a seat on the new council.
100 AD : Not needing food or drink (thanks to the taint sustaining them) the Darkspawn thrive in their new underground home. Nugs and deepstakers are hunted and eaten as delicacies and the Darkspawn learn how to read, write and smith metal. The biggest advancement comes in the form of the new Broodmothers.
Before, Darkspawn were birthed by Broodmothers, large, grotesque monsters created by passing the taint on to human, elven, dwarven or qunari women. The Archetect used magic and blood samples from each race to create the new Broodmothers. They are each pureblood Darkspawn, intelligent, self aware and abele to spawn both intelligent Darkspawn and more Broodmothers. Unlike their forbears these Broodmothers look more like their "male" counter parts but with a distinctly female appearance (odd because Darkspawn don't have gender). They still all have four tentacles growing out of their backs, a throw back from their ancestors.
A makeshift economy is set up where Darkspawn trade items of value for things they need.
150 AD : Archdaemon Lusacan awakens accidently. Upon finding that the Darkspawn no longer obey he goes on a rampage. He is eventually killed by the Architect, although he sacrifices his own life to kill the beast. His last words are reported to be that his is proud of what the Darkspawn have become.
200 AD: The Darkspawn return to the surface and discover a desolate world. All of the other races are dead. Their once shining cities reduced to rubble. The emissaries (Darkspawn mages) discover the fade is similarly desolate, with the few daemons and sprits remaining refusing to speak of what happened. Despite this there is hope for the future. Plant life has survived and it is not long before Thedas is green again. The Darkspawn begin constructing surface resorts.
An increase in population leads to a change in the economy. Gold, silver and copper coins salvaged from deserted thaigs and cities are put in to use.
312 AD: Problems start to occur. Back when the taint acted as a hive mind the Darkspawn could control tainted animals to some extent. This no longer being the case tainted creatures regularly attack the Darkspawn, often in numbers large enough to overwhelm small settlements. To counter the threat of these monstrous creatures Darkspawn begin developing weapons that deliver single, powerful shots like rifles and shotguns.
398 AD: The Darkspawn discover that they are not the only survivors. In addition to wolves and rats a clutch of dragon eggs are discovered in a mountain cave. An ample supply of nugs keeps the dragonlings from going on a rampage. On a sadder note a hidden colony of elves is discovered but there are not enough left to sustain their population.
399AD: A new sport it invented called 'Drake leaping'. It involves goading a very anger and large drake into charging at you, then jumping over it before it tramples you to death. Indemnities are invented.
402AD: The first mint is built, allowing the Darkspawn to manufacture their own coins instead of reusing salvaged ones.
484 AD: The last elf dies at the age of one hundred and two ( she was named Merrill after her maternal ancestor). Her death sparks public interest in the "Lost races" and massive archaeological efforts are made around the globe to uncover the past.
484-600 AD: The Darkspawn enter a technological renaissance. New ideas for architecture and public health are devised based on Qunari cities. The Grand Cathedral in Orlais is rebuilt as a huge museum and the Grey Warden fortress of Weisshaupt is discovered. A new Grey Warden Order is formed and they take the fortress as their own. They soon become famed for their training and discipline. A massive statue of Lyna takes pride of place in Weisshaupt's entrance hall.
650 AD: The ruin of Arlathan is discovered and the emissaries use their magic to raise it from the sea. Amazingly many of its books on magical lore are intact. The city soon becomes the home of the Darkspawn College of Magi. The Darkspawn enter the industrial age with the discovery of coal as a fuel.
712 AD: A Genlock named Skystrider builds and pilots the first aircraft (a wooden glider), taking off in Orlais and landing in Tevinter. Two days later work on the anti-aircraft gun begins.
800 AD : Grape plants begin to grow again. The Darkspawn discover a use for some of the old Antivan wine recipes they discovered.
2002 AD : The Darkspawn are now the dominant race (helped by the fact they are one of the only races) on Thedas. The discovery of nuclear power catapults them into the atomic age. One Genlock realises that nuclear power can theoretic be used as a weapon. Darkspawn with nuclear bombs. What could go wrong?
2005 AD: The first Darkspawn land on Thedas' moon. The first out is named Strongarm. He becomes famous for the quote "That's one small step for a Hurlock. One giant leap for Darkspawn kind". As soon as they are done celebrating, the Darkspawn set their sights on the nearest planet to their own. Anderfel.
2025: With the computer age now in full swing, the economy shifts yet again. Physical money is slowly phased out in favour of digital transfers.
2124 AD : The prothean wreak on Anderfel is discovered. Most of the data in the ships computer is corrupted beyond recovery but what is salvaged leads to the creation of the first Darkspawn star ships (although they currently lack an FTL drive). With the threat of alien invasion now a possibility, the first warships are designed.
2250 AD : Guided by the salvaged data, the Darkspawn discover that the large ice planetoid on the edge of Thedas' solar system is in fact a massive space station , a 'mass relay', encased in ice. It is quickly set upon by Genlock engineers, determined to unlock it's secrets. From it they learn how to attain faster than light travel and how lyrium came to be. Using this knowledge the build the first FTL ship using a lyrium mass effect core. The ships maiden voyage is a complete success and heralds a new age of Darkspawn extra-solar colonisation.
Present day: The Darkspawn now have five colony worlds, the furthest out being the world of New Rivane. It is on this world that the Darkspawn has first contact with a hostile alien race. The Turians.
The Darkspawn race is divided into four sub-races, Hurlock, Genlock, Shriek (Shirlock), and Ogre (each related to humans, dwarves, elves, and qunari respectively). Each race fills a particular role in society.
Hurlocks are the same height and build as a human and are considered the "rank and file" of the Darkspawn. They can be found in most professions from acting to engineering. They have a reputation for being jacks of all trades, yet masters of none.
Genlocks are the same height as dwarves, roughly four feet high and are renowned for their engineering skills. Their desire to make a larger explosion, build a better nug trap and a higher definition television has been the driving force behind all Darkspawn technological advances.
Shreiks are about a head taller that Hurlocks but are much more lithe and dexterous. They are typically found in administration roles, where they can put their talent for organisation to good use. In the military, they function as infiltration and assassination specialists.
Ogres are the largest and most physically intimidating Darkspawn. They are close to ten feet tall and built like living tanks. They are VERY hard to kill. Despite their bulk they are very intellectual and have a great fondness for performing arts. In Darkspawn society they normal work on construction projects, moving objects to heavy for smaller Darkspawn.
Despite their limited numbers (roughly 5% of the population) Broodmothers are actually the rulers of the Darkspawn, controlling much of the political, economic and social power. The best example of this can be found in the ruling council, where four of the seven seats are held exclusively by Broodmothers. They are highly intelligent and physically powerful. The "Male" Darkspawn are very protective of the Broodmothers and often entre armies will travel with them to ensure their safety.
Like the dwarves, Darkspawn venerate their ancestors and those who have contributed in a meaningful way to society. Unlike dwarves, this honour is not reserved only for Darkspawn. The biggest example is the Gray Warden Lyna who is venerated, almost worshiped, as the savoir of the Darkspawn. It was her mercy and understanding that has allowed the Darkspawn to become what they are and she is normal associated with mercy, forgiveness and second chances. Her companions are also known and respected and there are many statues to them all throughout the empire.
The Darkspawn are ruled by a council. There are seven seats, four for the Broodmothers of each race who represent the civilian body of the Darkspawn, one for the Omega, commander of the military (either Hurlock, Genlock, or Ogre), one for the High Emissary (Genlock or Hurlock) who speaks for the College. The final seat is reserved for the Architect and is traditionally left empty. Councillors normally stay in office until they retire but can be force to step down if all other councillors find them unfit for the task of governing. This hasn't happened yet though.
The Architect himself has an almost god-like status among the Darkspawn and there are many who believe that when his people need him most, he will return from the land beyond the fade to save them.