The Circle of Magi is the dominant organization for the training of mages within nations of Thedas. Traditionally it had been governed and monitored by the Chantry, and also guarded and supervised by the Templar Order. The College of Magi however has voted to separate the Circles from the Chantry sometime between 9:38–9:40 Dragon and declared their independence. The Mage-Templar war will decide the fate of the Circles of Magi.
The Circle is allowed to take any child (usually age six to twelve) from their families as soon as they show signs of magical ability, including those from royals and nobility. As such, they are taken from their families while still children, and highborn children who are able to use magic will lose all claims to their family's estates and titles when they are taken to the Circle.
Upon joining a Circle, mages undergo a process as apprentices of having a few drops of their blood taken by the First Enchanter and placed in a phylactery. This ensures the mages' compliance as well as the ability to track down any mage who decides to run away, since a templar can track anyone through their blood.
The child is then raised and trained by the Circle until they reach adulthood, at which time they must either undergo the Harrowing or be made Tranquil. In contrast, attendance at a Circle in Tevinter is not mandatory, but a privilege.
The Circles, as Circle fortresses are called, tend to be located in remote and difficult to reach areas, but the Formari have outposts in major cities for the purpose of trade.
The Circle maintains a neutrality policy, since the Chantry might take action against them if they got into the habit of getting involved into conflicts, the single exception being perhaps during a Blight. Nonetheless, it isn't that unusual to see at least one mage or two serving either side during a conflict and the Circle ignoring these, either as a courtesy or as a way of not creating too much enmity against the Circle on either side.
The College of Magi, a council of first enchanters from all the Circles in Thedas (excluding Tevinter), routinely convenes in the city of Cumberland, Nevarra to discuss Circle policy and to elect a new Grand Enchanter.
The Circle has a very mixed reception among mages and non-mages alike. Despite the restrictions imposed on its members, it is not a system of slavery, and mages themselves—while not "free"—are not owned by the Chantry and not forced into servitude on its behalf. Nevertheless, due to the limitations on personal freedoms, such as the confinement of the mages in a Circle fortress indefinitely, the Circle is tantamount to a prison. By law each Circle is supposed to respect certain rights of the mages. However, ambiguity or inadequacy in regulations, a weak first enchanter failing to advocate a Circle's rights, and the local templars' or priesthoods' penchant for corruption and abuse can affect how much these laws will be respected. 
Romantic unions with mages are discouraged by the Chantry but that doesn't stop the mages of a Circle from carrying love affairs in secret. Should such an affair produce an offspring, any child born to a Circle mage belongs to the Chantry. Should that child be born a mage, as is in the case of Rhys, he or she would be sent to another Circle different than that of the mage's parents. The Chantry goes to great lengths to prevent mages from having family bonds within the same Circle.
Some may say these are infringements of the mages' Maker given rights while others believe they are necessary sacrifices to protect the general populace from the dangers of magic while also protecting the mages from the bigotry of the outside world.
Before it became the Imperium, Tevinter was ruled by a dynasty of kings. And long before the Chantry there was a Circle of Magi: the society of mages in each city. The titles modern Circles use—enchanter, senior enchanter, first enchanter—all originated here, and the Circles were where the most powerful mages researched and practiced magic.
In the years before the founding of the Chantry and the start of the Divine Age, Thedas was plunged into chaos. The First Blight had ended, the Imperium had broken apart following Andraste's March, and despite the spread of the Maker's teachings, blood mages and Old Gods cults were widespread. The Inquisition was formed around -100 Ancient with the goal of protecting the people from the tyranny of magic in whatever form it might take; blood mages, abominations, cultists or heretics. A loose association of Andrastian hard-liners, the group combed the land in search of these threats and some say theirs was a reign of terror. Others say they were cast in a negative light by history because their investigations and even application of justice, protecting both mages and common people impartially, crossed too many powerful groups. In these accounts it is suggested that the group was already known as the Seekers of Truth and that the "Inquisition" moniker was perhaps pejorative.
In 1:20 Divine, the Chantry and the Inquisition signed the Nevarran Accord, and created the Circle of Magi to regulate the use and systematic training of magic throughout Thedas. The Templar Order was created to catch mages who refused to join the Circle and monitor the mage societies and the Seekers of Truth created to root out corruption.
As magic had been the source of the Imperium's power, it was all but banned when the Chantry became the new dominant force in Thedas. Blood magic was completely forbidden, and those who practised any kind of magic were confined. At first, the Chantry detained mages and had them continually light the eternal flame in every chantry in Thedas, with all other forms of magic forbidden. For such powerful beings to only use their powers in such mundane ways, it surprised almost no one when the mages of the Grand Cathedral protested. Divine Ambrosia was surprised by the mages' insolence and almost ordered an Exalted March on her own Cathedral, until her own templars advised her otherwise. After negotiations, the Circles of Magi established a new precedence of being exiled to remote fortresses far from society where they can practice their magical arts with out too much of the Chantry's overbearing restrictions.
Known Circles of Magi Edit
There are 14-15 Circles of Magi in Thedas under the jurisdiction of the Andrastian Chantry. The seven Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 76 Circles of Magi in Tevinter are under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Chantry.
|Anderfels||Hossberg||Andrastian||See Codex entry: Rat.|
|Antiva||Unknown||Andrastian||See the dialogue between Zevran and Wynne.|
|Ferelden||Jainen||Andrastian||In the Waking Sea Bannorn. See Dragon Age Legends.|
|Ferelden||Lake Calenhad||Andrastian||See Circle Tower.|
|Free Marches||Ansburg||Andrastian||See Codex entry: The Basket of Lost Socks.|
|Free Marches||Kirkwall||Andrastian||See the Gallows.|
|Free Marches||Markham||Andrastian||See Codex entry: Air of Confidence.|
|Free Marches||Ostwick||Andrastian||See Codex entry: The Maker's First Children.|
|Free Marches||Starkhaven||Andrastian||This Circle was burned to the ground in 9:31 Dragon. Most of its mages and templars were relocated to Kirkwall.|
|Nevarra||Cumberland||Andrastian||The largest and most powerful Circle under the Andrastian Chantry. Seat of power for the Grand Enchanter.|
|Orlais||Montsimmard||Andrastian||See Codex entry: Enchanter Illana, Dragon Age: Asunder.|
|Orlais||Val Royeaux||Andrastian||See the White Spire.|
|Rivain||Dairsmuid||Andrastian||Was annulled in 9:40 Dragon.|
See Codex entry: Shade. .
|Tevinter||Minrathous||Imperial||The oldest Circle in Thedas, housing the largest library of arcane knowledge, the Arcanist Hall. Seat of power for the magisters, the Imperial Senators, and the Imperial Archon.|
- See also: Codex entry: Hierarchy of the Circle
Each Circle follows a simple six-tier hierarchy where all residents fit; although the Tranquil seem to stand somewhat outside this progression.
- The Grand Enchanter, the Circle's direct representative to the Chantry and advisor to the Divine. The grand enchanter is elected by the College of Magi in Cumberland. As of 9:39-9:40 Dragon, the position is held by Fiona, a former Grey Warden.
- The First Enchanter, leader of a Circle. First enchanters routinely congregate in the city of Cumberland, at their College, also known as the College of Magi.
- The Senior Enchanters, a small council of the most experienced mages present in each circle. Newly appointed senior enchanters are presented in a ceremony to the Divine in the Grand Cathedral.
- Junior Enchanters.
- The Enchanters, mages who tutor apprentices.
- The Mages, all residents who have passed their Harrowing.
- The Apprentices, all students training for their Harrowing.
In the time of the Tevinter Imperium, the rank of Magister existed above first enchanter as supreme authority in each Circle. After the mage Darinius claimed the title of Archon, the magisters became the only noble rank in Tevinter. All Circles outside Tevinter have abolished this rank.
In Dragon Age: Asunder, Wynne is referred to as "Archmage", which seems to be an honorary title outside of regular hierarchy but nevertheless conveys to her an authority approximating that of a first enchanter in the Circle matters.
Fraternities of Enchanters Edit
- Main article: Fraternities of Enchanters
The mages of the Circle are also divided into several fraternities, the equivalent of political parties, which hold diverse views of how mages should act and their place in society.
The Harrowing Edit
- Main article: Harrowing
The Harrowing is a secret rite of passage that the Circle administers, without warning, to adult apprentice mages. The apprentice is exposed to a demon under controlled circumstances in order to prove that they are strong and willful enough to fight off an attempt at possession.
The Tranquil Edit
- Main article: Tranquil
Mages who are too weak of will to resist demonic possession or appear to be dangerous are forced (or willingly volunteer) to go through the Rite of Tranquility, which involves the use of a lyrium brand to cut off a mage's connection to the Fade: they can no longer dream. As a side effect, their emotional center is utterly removed. It was believed that demons cannot possess the Tranquil. This was subsequently proven to be wrong. In the mind of the Tranquil, there is no passion which makes them undesirable to possess in the first place. They keep to themselves, and, if asked directly, will readily agree that having the opportunity to live out a peaceful and useful existence is far preferable when compared to what their alternatives would have been.
Formari are composed of individuals who focus on using their talents to create various items, most notably enchantments. Some Formari also create and sell herbal items such as potions. The Tranquil belong to this group and do all of the enchanting on behalf of the Circle. As such enchanters among the Formari are not practicing mages as true mages are unable to enchant. They are less a political organization and more akin to a tradesmen's guild. Owain and Solivitus are both examples of Formari. Formari have more contact with the outside world than other mages and as such maintain trading posts and trade houses in major cities and settlements in order to conduct business for the Circle. An example of such a trade house would be the Wonders of Thedas in Denerim.
Right of Annulment Edit
- Main article: Right of Annulment
The Right of Annulment is the right to purge a Circle of Magi that is ruled irredeemable by ordering the templars to kill all the mages within a Circle. All the grand clerics of the Chantry can invoke this right.
Notable members Edit
- The Inquisitor (if played as a human mage)
- The Warden (if played as a mage)
Mages who escape from the Circle are also considered apostates and are either killed or brought back to the Circle by the Templars. With enough secrecy, apostates can usually integrate successfully into Thedosian society, as with Malcolm Hawke, Gascard DuPuis, and Anders.
- Orzammar may have a Circle of Magi depending on the player choices during Dragon Age: Origins that exists outside Chantry supervision. It would be known as the only free circle in Thedas.
- The dwarven smith Dagna may join the Circle of Magi as an observer depending on the player's choices in Dragon Age: Origins. She is the first such dwarven observer since "Ureldin in the 13th century", and, more recently, Minderel.
See also Edit
- ↑ According to Ser Thrask.
- ↑ Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 103
- ↑ David Gaider, http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/304/index/6901812&lf=8.
- ↑ Gaider, David. "Anyone else notice the retcon of the tranquil?". BioWare Social Network. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
- ↑ Wynne/Dialogue#Wynne and Alistair
- ↑ Codex entry: Tevinter: The Magisters
- ↑ Thedas UK (January 14, 2012). "David Gaider Interview". Retrieved September 17, 2012.
- ↑ Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 50
- ↑ "On Templars, Raiders, City Guards and The Coterie". Official BioWare blog. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
- ↑ Codex entry: The Seekers of Truth
- ↑ Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 106
- ↑ Dragon Age: Asunder, Epilogue.
- ↑ Codex entry: History of the Circle
- ↑ A loading screen during Dragon Age suggests this.
- ↑ Dragon Age: Asunder, Chapter 18 and Epilogue.
- ↑ Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 102
- ↑ As mentioned in Dragon Age: Asunder pp. 297-298.
- ↑ According to Legacy, Malcolm Hawke was this when he met Leandra.
- ↑ Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Player's Guide, set 2, p. 60
- ↑ According to Dagna during An Unlikely Scholar, if choosing to help her join the Circle.
- ↑ Dragon Age Comic.