The Harrowing looms large for apprentices in part because the enchanters decide, on their own and in secret, when and if the apprentice is ready for the rite. When they do so the apprentice is taken, without warning or preparation, to face the Harrowing. It can come at any time, and so one must always be ready.
The rite itself is fairly simple. First, the apprentice enters the Fade through ritual use of lyrium. Once across the Veil, the subject must face and overcome a demon that wishes to possess the apprentice's body and enter the living realm. This involves navigating whatever challenges have been set up and seeing through whatever ruse the demon puts on. The demon itself would have been summoned by Circle mages to the same part of the Fade the apprentice enters, lured by the promise of a living body waiting for it. The Harrowing is more a test of will, common sense, and the ability to resist temptation, than one of magical ability.If the apprentice succeeds in resisting the demon, he or she earns the title and trappings of a mage, becoming a full member of the Circle, having proven the necessary strength of will and character to master and use magic.
However, if the apprentice is overwhelmed by the demon (or, some say, takes too long to complete the task), he or she is killed by templars, who are standing by to prevent the tragedy of an abomination. One templar (who remains unidentified to the mages present) is assigned the killing blow in advance, while the rest keep danger at bay and stand ready to replace the 'designated slayer' if necessary.
Apprentices may volunteer to be made Tranquil instead of undergoing their Harrowing. Since passing the Harrowing theoretically proves that a mage is capable enough to resist possession, Chantry law forbids mages who passed their Harrowing from being made Tranquil.
Upon successful completion of his or her Harrowing, a mage is traditionally given a ring of lyrium-infused silver.
See also EditCodex entry: The Harrowing Codex entry: The Tranquil Codex entry: Walking the Fade: A Harrowing
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Image from Dragon Age RPG Core Rulebook, pg. 101.
- ↑ Codex entry: The Harrowing
- ↑ Image from Dragon Age RPG Player's Guide, set 2, pg. 63.