The mage is a playable class in Dragon Age: Origins, Dragon Age II and Dragon Age: Inquisition, which is able to interact with the forces of magic. In order to qualify to be a mage, one must be an elf or a human or a Qunari. Dwarves cannot be mages, since they are unable to connect with the Fade and therefore are unable to control the forces of magic.
In Thedas, magic is a natural physical phenomenon such as gravity or magnetism. Some people are born with the ability to interact, control, and shape it. The Tevinter Imperium even had mage genealogies of all families that would produce children with magical talent. Eventually, several social classes of mages were established in Tevinter, from the "Altus" (magisters), mages who had a long lineage of magic in their bloodlines, to the "Laetan" - mages with no family history of magic use.
Magic originates from the Fade, the realm where spirits dwell and humans, qunari, and elves visit when they dream. Mana is a measurement of one's ability to channel energy from the Fade, and this energy is expended in the practice of magic. Just as the Fade can be reshaped by those who have grasped its nature, so can the world of Thedas be manipulated by magic. The ability of a living being to expend mana is what defines a mage.
The act of drawing power from the Fade can draw the attention of the spiritual beings on the other side of the Veil, leading to an increased risk of demonic possession if the mages are not vigilant enough. A possessed mage becomes a distortion of his or her former self, a twisted monster known as an abomination that has enough power to wipe entire villages off the map.
With the proper training however, Mages are capable of manipulating the basic elements, such as conjuring gouts of flame and small, localized ice and electrical storms. There are also spells that allow for the temporary reanimation of corpses and the draining of an opponent's life-force. More altruistic Mages can use their powers to help and heal, or summon benevolent spirits in times of need. Though they are often ostracized to the point of persecution, mages are key for everyday life in Thedas. They serve as its healers, scholars, scientists, and weapons of war.
There are limitations to the application of magic, however. Teleportation, resurrection (under normal circumstances) and physically entering the Fade (in the absence of a great deal of lyrium and potentially the aid of blood magic) are not possible. Magic also cannot prevent a potentially fatal incident such as falling from a building.
Furthermore, the powers of a mage require a direct line of sight to a target, and have a limited range.
Schools of magic Edit
No one knows who first discovered magic but it has been a part of the world of Thedas for as long as people can remember. From the elves of Arlathan to the mages of Tevinter, both humans and elves have been known to wield magic. 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 the modern Circles use—enchanter, senior enchanter, first enchanter—all originated here. But above the first enchanter, the Circles of Tevinter had another office: magister.
The magisters formed a council of the most powerful mages in the kingdom. They convened in Minrathous and held dominion over all magic in the land. When Darinius seized the throne in -1195 Ancient, the Court of the Magisters became the royal court, and "magister" was the only title of nobility recognized in Tevinter.
Prior to the Circle’s formation, magic was either practiced by the Magisters of the Tevinter Imperium or in remote areas, knowledge handed down from one generation of practitioners to the next. “Hedge mages,” as Enchanters of the Circle refer to them, or “witches” as legend would name them, do not always employ forbidden magic. Quite often their talents lie in the creation of charms, the use of curses and the ability to change their own forms.
In the quest Long Way Home (Dragon Age II), it is revealed that all elves had magic in the days of Arlathan, and that it is possible that it was they who taught blood magic to the Tevinter magisters. Merrill, for instance, once refers to her blood magic as "the old ways." Legend, however, holds that the first known blood mage, at least for the humans, was a Tevinter: Archon Thalsian. Thalsian was supposedly taught how to use blood magic by the Old God Dumat. Over the years, some historians have argued that this is merely a myth, and that Thalsian learned about blood magic from the elves. Thalsian taught blood magic to others and soon amassed an army, which he used to conquer Elvenhan, the homeland of the elves. This was the start of the Tevinter Imperium, which grew to include most of Thedas, and which worshipped the Old Gods.
The Imperium was not satisfied with control of Thedas, however, and in an incredible act of hubris, the magister lords attempted to enter the Golden City and supposedly usurp the Maker Himself. Their efforts failed, and to punish them, Chantry historians believe that the Maker transformed them into the first darkspawn. These darkspawn fled underground, and eventually found Dumat and transformed him into the first Archdemon. Thus began the First Blight, which would continue for two centuries and greatly weakened the Tevinter Imperium.
In the wake of the First Blight, the people of the Imperium became disillusioned with the Old Gods, and soon began to follow Andraste, a former slave who united the barbarian tribes and led them to break the Imperium's hold on Thedas. Andraste was ultimately betrayed by her husband, Maferath, and burned at the stake, but her death inspired the creation of the Chantry, an event that would alter the face of magic for centuries afterwards.
The Chantry Edit
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 and almost ordered an Exalted March on her own Cathedral, until her own templars advised her otherwise. The Circle of Magi was established to regulate the use of magic throughout Thedas, and the Templars were created to catch mages who refused to join the Circle.
Modern Thedas Edit
Andrastian nations Edit
In the Dragon Age, most mages in Thedas belong to the Circle of Magi. 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. This helps to create a bond stronger than social class or race, since everybody in the Circle is raised and taught the same way.
Children who are born to mages within the Circle are taken to be raised in a Chantry orphanage, either until they are old enough to make a life on their own (likely within the Chantry itself as a cleric or templar) or their magical abilities have manifested and they are returned 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. As a further measure, mages who are feared to be incapable of controlling themselves, or who fear their power, are made Tranquil: their connection to the Fade is magically severed.
Though templars insist that the process is painless, the experience appears to be debatable and as unique as the individual who has been rendered Tranquil. The Tranquil are easily identified by their eerie monotone voices and emotional apathy (and, as of Dragon Age II, the sunburst brand on their foreheads), even during circumstances such as the Broken Circle quest where demons and abominations ran loose throughout the Tower. It is worth noting, however, that under normal circumstances there is a reason a mage either is made Tranquil or requests it. Furthermore, imposing the Rite of Tranquility normally requires the agreement of both the Circle Knight-Commander and First Enchanter.
Some mages manage to escape the notice of the Chantry and the Circle, and grow up without the training that those who are taken from their families will have. Any mage not a part of the Circle is considered to be an apostate, and will be hunted by templars if discovered. Often apostates will wield magic unknown or forbidden to the Circle, and considered threatening by the Chantry. Such mages include the Witches of the Wilds, who are capable of changing their shape and are frequently harassed by templars.
Most humans are taught by the Chantry to fear magic and those who practice it. Mages are looked upon as people to be pitied at best, and hated at worst. The average citizen sincerely believes that the Circle exists only to protect mages and help them learn to control their abilities.
The native culture in the Tevinter Imperium is that magic is considered a mark of honor, especially for those who are powerful enough and adept to use it to their advantage. Tevinter has its own Imperial Chantry and many of its mages are the scions of its ancient noble blood lines, who have long nurtured the magic in their genealogy. Even Tevinter commoners view magic as a gift and a part of their culture, so mages are respected across all social classes more than in other countries. Due to the Imperium's rooted history with magic, the descendants of Tevinter's elite, even after converting to Andrastian teachings, still retained their power and influence but their appreciation of magic conflicted with the Chantry's fear of magic. This inevitable conflict in beliefs led to a schism in ideology between the Tevinter Chantry and the Orlais Chantry. The Tevinter Chantry argued that the Chant of Light's commandment, "magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him," meant that magic must serve the greater good. They believed that this could be accomplished by freeing Magi to take part in government. After the Imperial Chantry broke away from the Orlesian Chantry's influence, mages were allowed to assume their place as the true rulers of the nation once again.
The mages in Tevinter aspire to be Magisters: the true rulers of the Imperium. Obtaining status and influence in the Tevinter Imperium is highly competitive however and thus often breeds practices of greed, corruption, and blood magic. Those without magic are trampled underfoot and forced to serve. Slaves are slaughtered by the hundreds to feed the magisters' hunger for power. Even some mages are not spared, for in mages as in all humans, there exists a spectrum—on one end, the very powerful, on the other, those that can barely light a candle. The Empire cares only for the strongest, and those who do not compare favorably are thrown to the wolves.
According to Fenris, though magisters claim that blood magic is forbidden, it's no secret it's commonly practiced by everyone from the lowest apprentice to the highest Archon behind closed doors. This is also confirmed by Lambert.
Hedge Mages Edit
Hedge mages are untrained magic-users who wield powers developed outside of conventional teaching of the Circle of Magi and because of this, they are all Apostates. Some of these hedge mages are not even aware of their nature. Undeveloped, their abilities can express themselves in a variety of ways, which the hedge mage might attribute to faith, or will, or to another being entirely (depending on the mage's nature).
Prior to the Circle’s formation, magic was either practiced by the Magisters of the Tevinter Imperium or in remote areas, knowledge handed down from one generation of practitioners to the next. “Hedge mages,” as Enchanters of the Circle refer to them, or “witches” as legend would name them, do not always employ forbidden magic. Quite often their talents lie in the creation of charms, the use of curses and the ability to change their own forms. Examples of such Hedge mages and witches include the so-called "witches" of the Chasind wilders or the "shamans" of the Avvar barbarians.
More specifically hedge magic, known by its more technical name "arcanist derangement" among mages and scholars, is a form of magical expression different than that of typical mages. The term was coined by Magister Allineas at the height of the Towers Age. The magister posited that magical talent is like a flowing river. When expressed through a mage, it finds a proper outlet through spellcraft. Left to its own devices it flows unexpectedly, and thus hedge mages are created. Prior to the creation of the Circles, such magical talent expressed itself often through ancient traditions and rituals. Those mages possessed power no Circle spell could replicate and their unpredictable ability was deemed a threat.
Hedge mages, according to Pharamond in Dragon Age: Asunder, live chaotic lives, able to commune with spirits, lured into darkness and temptation and sometimes even insanity. Their lives are often short as a result of this wild talent. The term "arcanist derangement" reflects this propensity toward madness in such mages.
The term "hedge mage" was created as a derogatory term by the Chantry.
The Rivaini, unlike the majority of peoples in Thedas, are not Andrastians and don't believe in the Maker. Rather, they are pantheists who believe in the Natural Order. As such, many hold to the belief that their god and the universe are the same.  Many, especially in Kont-aar, have also converted to the Qun, as their religion and the Qun are not very contradictory. According to Ferdinand Genitivi, a well-known Chantry scholar, "The Chant of Light never truly reached the ears of these people. Resistance to the Chant goes deeper than the Qunari Wars. The Rivaini refuse to be parted from their seers, wise women who are in fact hedge mages, communicating with spirits and actually allowing themselves to be possessed. The Chantry prohibition against such magical practices violates millennia of local tradition." Though a Circle existed in Rivain, it was merely a means to appease the Chantry. The mages of the Circle were allowed to see their families and the women were specifically trained to be seers, a position in Rivaini society that is revered as a matter of tradition. These local hedge witches converse with spirits and even allow themselves to be possessed, though it is supposedly done so for the benefit of their villages. 
Dalish elves Edit
Among non-humans, attitudes towards magic vary. The Dalish elves are, for all intents and purposes, the most accepting of their mages. Dalish believe that study of magic is key to rediscovering their lost history, and thus are far more tolerant of the presence of magic in their lives. They do, however, acknowledge the inherent danger of magic, and take strides to reduce the risk. Typically a clan will try to keep the number of mages in their group to a minimum by exchanging mage children with other Dalish clans. These children will be personally instructed by the new tribe's Keeper, and if they demonstrate sufficient aptitude will be elevated to be the Keeper's First, an apprentice expected to one day become the clan's new Keeper. Every Dalish clan is sworn to protect its Keeper to the death, and should the Keeper fall to demonic possession, the clan is bound to hunt and slay the Keeper. This happens rarely, however, as most Keepers are wise and careful enough to never make deals with demons or use blood magic.
On the opposite end of Thedas, the Qunari, bound to order, have virtually no tolerance for mages, which they call saarebas (literally "dangerous thing".) Those among them who are found to possess magical ability are kept on leashes by special soldiers called arvaarad, and fitted with blinders. Their horns are sheared off and in extreme cases their lips may be stitched together. If a saarebas is found practicing forbidden magic, their tongues are cut out to prevent them from corrupting others. Despite these measures, the Qunari pity and honor the saarebas as they believe that their striving while under constant threat from within is truly selfless and that is the highest virtue of the Qun.
Surprisingly, the mages themselves are made to accept their condition without question to their abuse at the hands of any Arvaarad, as they manage to find some measure of solace within the Qun, since they are made to believe there is a purpose to their existence, even if it means the loss of their freedom. They are also taught to pity other mages who are not Qunari, because they will surely doom themselves and everyone who they come in contact with.
Notable mages in Dragon Age Edit
- Bethany Hawke
- Referring to mages as "robes" is an insult.
- The term 'spellbind' is also considered a slur against mages.
- Hedge mages as a rule are not respected by enchanters in the Circle of Magi, but their untutored power can be incredible nevertheless.