Outside of normal society, and outside of the Chantry, the mages would form their own closed society, the Circle, separated for the first time in human history.


A Circle heraldry showing the four accepted schools of magic: Spirit, Primal, Creation and Entropy.

The Circle of Magi is the dominant organization for the training of mages within nations of Thedas. In the south, it has historically been governed and monitored by the Chantry, with the Templar Order working as its guards and supervisors. In the Tevinter Imperium, they are governed by high-ranking Magisters who utilize the Imperial Templar Order.

Background[edit | edit source]

The Circle is a prison. You have choices... between joining and suffering various deaths of body or spirit.Mouse

The Circle is allowed to take any child from their families as soon as they show signs of magical ability (usually between the ages of four and fourteen[1]), including those from royalty and nobility. Highborn children who are able to use magic lose all claims to their family's estates and titles when they are taken.

Upon joining a Circle, mages have a few drops of their blood taken by the First Enchanter[2] and placed in a phylactery. This ensures the mages' compliance, as templars can track runaways through their blood.

If a mage has deliberately caused harm or death to others, it is customary to imprison them when they are first brought to the Circle until an inquiry is made. The investigating templars will determine whether the mage will be made Tranquil, killed, or released to be trained under supervision.[3]

The child, now considered an apprentice, 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 an obligation, but a privilege[4], as they are considered prestigious academies, not mage prisons.[5]

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 policy of neutrality, as the Chantry might take action against them if they regularly became involved in conflict (a Blight is perhaps the sole exception to this rule). Nonetheless, it isn't unusual to see the Circle ignore at least one or two mages serving either side of a dispute, 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 daily life of a Circle mage varies by fortress. Many mages come into the Circle with very few personal possessions, as they must typically leave them behind.[6] Instead, the Circle provides for the new apprentices with standard issue robes, education, and room and board — the quality of which may vary. The Fereldan Circle allowed its inhabitants a weekly period of supervised outdoor exercise, until one mage used this opportunity to escape.[7] Conditions vary greatly between Circles. By contrast, many mages in the Kirkwall Circle, where some Templars are heavily implied to sexually abuse mages and Tranquil, attempt to end their misery by jumping to their deaths.[8][9]

The apprentices of all Circles, though, live communally and are taught by the Enchanters in small classes. They are allowed no contact with their families or anyone from outside with the exception of mail privileges, though this also seems to vary between Circles.[10] They pass the days studying and researching the different schools of magic and alchemy.

The Circle's livelihood is maintained by the selling of Formari goods or magical services they are allowed to provide. The prices of these goods and services are decided by the regional First Enchanter[11] who handles the commerce and finances of the Circle fortress.

Romantic unions between mages are discouraged by the Chantry, though that doesn't stop them from carrying love affairs in secret. Should such an affair produce children, 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, the child would be sent to a Circle different than that of their parents.[12] The Chantry goes to great lengths to prevent mages from having family bonds within the same Circle. Romantic relationships between mages and Templars are explicitly forbidden, but are still known to occur. Tevinter does not work in such way, since family ties and magic are intertwined. Nevertheless, there is a pecking order in Tevinter Circles as one's social status is dependent mainly on belonging to the noble class then accolades granted by one's magical talent.

The Circle has a very mixed reception among mages and non-mages alike. Some consider the imprisoning of mages to the Circle of Magi unjust persecution and infringements of the mages' Maker given rights; others believe they are necessary sacrifices to protect both the general populace from the dangers of magic and the mages from the bigotry of the outside world and themselves. 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 indefinite confinement of the mages in a Circle fortress, the Circle is tantamount to a prison. By law each Circle is supposed to respect certain mages' rights. Ambiguity or inadequacy in regulations, however, such as a weak First Enchanter failing to advocate a Circle's rights or corruption and abuse from local templars or the priesthood, can affect how much these laws will be respected.[13]

History[edit | edit source]

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,[14] 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.[15] The Inquisition was formed around -100 Ancient[16] with the goal of protecting the people from the tyranny of magic in whatever form it might take; blood mages, abominations, cultists or heretics.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19]

During the Second Blight, Orlesian emperor Kordillus Drakon I enlisted the help of the mages and permitted them to use their full power against the darkspawn. The mages proved essential in the subsequent battles and won enough respect to negotiate greater independence.[20][21] 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.[20][21][22]

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 practiced 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. Unsurprisingly, being relegated to using their powers in such mundane ways caused the mages of the Grand Cathedral to protest by snuffing the sacred flames. Divine Ambrosia alone 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 precedent of being exiled to remote fortresses far from society where they could practice their magical arts outside of normal society and the Chantry.[23]

Involvement[edit | edit source]

Dragon Age: Origins[edit | edit source]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Origins.


By right of ancient treaties, the Circle is pledged to help the Grey Wardens during the Blight. However, when the Warden reaches the fortress of Kinloch Hold, they find that it has been overrun by demons and abominations, and that the templars under Knight-Commander Greagoir are on the verge of invoking the Right of Annulment. The Warden can save the Circle, in which case the mages will join in the fight against the Archdemon, or side with the templars and carry out the Right of Annulment, killing every surviving mage in the Circle.

A mage Warden may also ask that the Circle be granted independence as a boon.


Dragon Age: Awakening[edit | edit source]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Origins - Awakening.


If Wynne survived the events of the Fifth Blight, she tells the Warden-Commander that the College of Enchanters is convening in Cumberland to discuss the Libertarian Fraternity's wish of breaking away from the Chantry entirely. She asks that the Warden-Commander track down her colleague Ines Arancia, a respected mage whom she hopes will be a voice of reason.


Dragon Age II[edit | edit source]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age II.


The Circle of Starkhaven is destroyed by fire in 9:31; several of its members flee south, where many are captured and brought to the Kirkwall's Gallows.

Living conditions in the Gallows become progressively stricter under Knight-Commander Meredith Stannard. Mages are locked in their cells, denied appearances at court, and made Tranquil for the slightest crimes. Aided by local citizens, escaped apostates form the mage underground to help more mages escape the Gallows and find refuge in far away areas where the templars can't easily reach them.

In 9:37, Knight-Commander Meredith invokes the Right of Annulment on the Kirkwall Circle after the apostate mage Anders destroys the Kirkwall Chantry. Hawke can either choose to help the mages, or help the templars carry out the Annulment.


Dragon Age: Asunder[edit | edit source]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Asunder.


BioWare canon.png
The plot follows BioWare's own canon, meaning it may not follow some of the player's choices in the games.

Tensions are rising within the Circles after the events of the Kirkwall Rebellion (9:37 Dragon). Grand Enchanter Fiona calls for a vote on separating from the Chantry, a motion which the College rejects, influenced by Wynne's arguments for caution. The templars disband the College of Enchanters in retaliation.

Over a year later, following the discovery that the Seekers of Truth withheld knowledge that the Rite of Tranquility was reversible, Grand Enchanter Fiona calls for another vote at the White Spire. Lord Seeker Lambert disbands the conclave before the vote can be held; a battle swiftly ensues. Fiona and many First Enchanters flee to Andoral's Reach, where she calls for another vote. This time, the mages narrowly vote for separation, dissolving the Circles. In response, Lord Seeker Lambert declares the Nevarran Accord null and void, separating from the Chantry as well and marking the beginning of the Mage-Templar War.


Dragon Age: Inquisition[edit | edit source]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Inquisition.


The mages divide into two groups: the rebel mages under Fiona, and the loyalist mages under Vivienne.

Divine Justinia V calls for a Conclave at the Temple of Sacred Ashes in an attempt to broker peace between mages and templars. While the leaders of both factions send intermediaries in their place, fearing a trap, a significant number of both mages and templars are killed in the destruction of the temple. The rebel mages are granted asylum in Redcliffe by Ferelden's monarch. However, as their situation grows more dire, Fiona pledges the mages' service to Magister Gereon Alexius in exchange for help. If the Inquisitor chooses to investigate the matter, they discover that Alexius is a follower of the Elder One. Once they defeat him, they can choose to recruit the mages as allies or conscript them into the Inquisition's service. The mages then help the Inquisition close the Breach.

If the Inquisitor does not investigate, the mages are conscripted into the Venatori and fight on the Elder One's side. Fiona is killed during the assault on Haven.

If Cassandra becomes Divine: The Circle of Magi is reinstated and reformed under Divine Victoria. If the rebel mages are conscripted  by the Inquisition, they return to the Circle and form a new College of Magi named the Bright Hand which soon becomes the dominant force of Circle politics, arguing for reform and close ties to the Inquisition.

With the Inquisition no longer the power it had been after the events of the Exalted Council, the College of the Bright Hand flounders. The newly elected Grand Enchanter Vivienne succeeds in pushing it into the margins of the Circle politics. No longer anyone's hands, its leaders reforge it as the College of Enchanters, breaking away completely from the Circle.

If Vivienne becomes Divine: The Circle of Magi is reinstated. Mages rise quickly in the new Circle, having more freedom and responsibility than ever before, even if all true power lies with the new Divine. If the rebel mages are recruited by the Inquisition, they resist joining her Circle of Magi. Vivienne goes to war with the rebel mages and crushes their rebellion; forcing them to either surrender to her or return to the Inquisition. After the events of the Exalted Council and with the Inquisition no longer the power it once was, Vivienne grudgingly allows the Inquisition mages to remain as the College of Enchanters, as a mark of her regard for the Inquisition.

If Leliana becomes Divine: The Circle of Magi is formally dissolved by Divine Victoria. Yet after the events of the Exalted Council, the end of the Inquisition as it had been sends shock waves through the autonomous College of Enchanters. Madame de Fer ably plays on the mages' fear. Her followers unite to build a new Circle - with Vivienne as its Grand Enchanter - in direct competition with the College. What the Circle lacks in numbers, they make up for in political connections; soon they are a force to be reckoned with.

Regardless of who was made Divine, the Inquisition's mages eventually push for independence from the Circle and form the College of Enchanters. The Circle of Magi falls under the leadership of Vivienne and though the Circle and the College clash, they coexist tenuously.[24]


Known Circles of Magi[edit | edit source]

There are 14[25]-15[26] Circles of Magi in Thedas under the jurisdiction of the Andrastian Chantry. The seven[27] Circles of Magi in Tevinter are under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Chantry.

Nation Location Chantry Details
Anderfels Hossberg Andrastian See Codex entry: Rat. Works closely with the Grey Wardens. (See Dragon Age: The World of Thedas Volume 2, p. 173)
Antiva Unknown Andrastian See the dialogue between Zevran and Wynne.
Ferelden Denerim Andrastian Destroyed in 3:87 Towers.[28]
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 Hasmal Andrastian See Answer a Request from Hasmal.
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 were relocated to Kirkwall.
Nevarra Cumberland Andrastian The largest and most powerful Circle under the Andrastian Chantry. Seat of power for the Grand Enchanter.
Nevarra Perendale Andrastian See The Order's Obligations
Orlais Ghislain Andrastian See Dragon Age: The World of Thedas Volume 2, p. 203.
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. [29].
Tevinter Carastes Imperial One of the most prestigious academies of magi in the eastern Imperium. See Dragon Age: The World of Thedas Volume 2, p. 232.
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.
Tevinter Vyrantium Imperial See Codex entry: The Venatori

Hierarchy[edit | edit source]

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. Lothaire Hardouin was the first Grand Enchanter.[30] 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.[31]
  • The Enchanters, mages who tutor apprentices. They can specialize in a particular field of study. Junior Enchanter might be an alternative title for the position.[32][33]
  • 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.

Wynne is referred to as "Archmage", which seems to be an honorary title outside of the regular hierarchy but nevertheless conveys to her an authority approximating that of a First Enchanter in the Circle matters.

Kinloch Hold, location of one of the Fereldan Circle of Magi.

Fraternities of Enchanters[edit | edit source]

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 on how mages should act and their place in society.

Training and education[edit | edit source]

A mage's training consists of extensive study of arcane lore and practice at harnessing and channeling magical energy.[34] The former means that mages are very learned persons. The Circle of Magi encourages scholarship and publishes the completed research. Examples of this are the botanical writings of Ines Arancia and the spirit research of Rhys. Through their education and scholarship, mages are considered some of the most educated members of society and as such may sometimes function as advisers in royal courts.

Early training is aimed at giving apprentices discipline and focus, which helps prevent inadvertent magical outbursts. Later, the apprentice learns the specific forms of common spells. Many apprentices demonstrate a talent or propensity for a particular school of magic, and are allowed or encouraged to focus their studies there.[34]

Circles are war colleges as well. The Chantry never forgets that its greatest use for mages is in fighting darkspawn, particularly during a Blight. Philosophically, this is seen as proper penance for the ancient hubris of the magisters of the Tevinter Imperium. Thus, even in peacetime, much of a mage’s training emphasizes battle magic. Every Circle mage learns to wield and master one or more combat spells. They train to keep their wits about them in battle and wield their powers to defend themselves and their allies.[34]

The Harrowing[edit | edit source]

Main article: Harrowing

The Harrowing is a secret rite of passage that the Circle administers, without warning, to 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. Those who succeed become full-fledged mages of the Circle. Those who fail are never seen or heard from again.[35]

The Tranquil[edit | edit source]

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, meaning that they can no longer dream or access magic. As a side effect, their emotional center is utterly removed. It was believed that demons couldn't possess the Tranquil.


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Asunder.


This was subsequently proven to be wrong. Demons are actually able to posess Tranquil, but usually find them undesirable targets as there is no passion in a Tranquil's mind.


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[edit | edit source]

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 working with raw lyrium poses too high a risk to mages whose connection to the Fade isn't severed.[36] 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.[37] An example of such a trade house would be the Wonders of Thedas in Denerim.

Right of Annulment[edit | edit source]

Main article: Right of Annulment

The Right of Annulment is the right to purge a Circle of Magi that is ruled irredeemable by killing all mages within a Circle. All Chantry Grand Clerics can invoke this right.

Notable members[edit | edit source]

For a complete list, see Category:Circle of Magi members.

Apostates[edit | edit source]

Mages who are not part of a Circle of Magi, whether because they escaped or were never part of one to begin with, are considered apostates to be hunted by templars. If discovered, they are be either captured or killed. With enough secrecy, some apostates can integrate successfully into Thedosian society, such as Malcolm Hawke, Gascard DuPuis, and Anders.

While not all apostates are maleficarum, mages who practice forbidden forms of magic such as blood magic, many resort to it in order to survive.[38]

The Dalish Keepers are also considered apostates. However, the Chantry and Templar Order, as a general rule, do not intervene as long as the Dalish move quickly and stay away from larger settlements.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • Depending on player choices during Dragon Age: Origins, Orzammar may have a Circle of Magi that exists outside Chantry supervision, sparking rumors that the Divine was contemplating a new Exalted March.[39]
  • If encouraged by the Warden, the dwarven smith Dagna may join the Circle of Magi as an observer, the first such dwarven observer since "Ureldin in the 13th century",[40] and, more recently, Minderel.[41] If not, she is still known to have worked in the Circle known as the Tine Tower.[42]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Codex entry: Rebel Mages Codex entry: Rebel Mages

Codex entry: The Circle of Magi Codex entry: The Circle of Magi

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Merrill discovered her magic at four, Fiona at fourteen.
  2. According to Ser Thrask.
  3. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 244
  4. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 103
  5. According to dialogue with Dorian Pavus.
  6. Anders left behind everything but a pillow
  7. According to dialogue with Finn during the Witch Hunt DLC
  8. Short Story: Paper & Steel
  9. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 195
  10. Ella said that no one had told her mother where she'd been taken
  11. According to Merchant NPC dialogue in the Gallows Courtyard
  12. Wynne/Dialogue#Wynne and Alistair
  13. BSN.png Gaider, David. "Anyone else notice the retcon of the tranquil?" . The BioWare Forum.
  14. Codex entry: Tevinter: The Magisters
  15. Thedas UK (January 14, 2012). "David Gaider Interview". Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  16. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 50
  17. "On Templars, Raiders, City Guards and The Coterie". Official BioWare blog. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  18. Codex entry: The Seekers of Truth
  19. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 106
  20. 20.0 20.1 Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Core Ruleook, p. 102
  21. 21.0 21.1 Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 96
  22. Dragon Age: Asunder, Epilogue.
  23. Codex entry: History of the Circle
  24. Vivienne's epilogue slides in Trespasser
  25. Per a loading screen during Dragon Age: Origins.
  26. Dragon Age: Asunder, Chapter 18 and Epilogue.
  27. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 76
  28. [1]. BioWare wiki.
  29. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 102
  30. Codex entry: The First Grand Enchanter
  31. Dragon Age: Asunder, p. 297-298.
  32. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 102
  33. According to Legacy, Malcolm Hawke was this when he met Leandra.
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Core Ruleook, p. 102
  35. Codex entry: The Harrowing
  36. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 93
  37. Dragon Age (tabletop RPG), Player's Guide, set 2, p. 60
  38. Codex entry: Apostates
  39. Epilogue (Origins)
  40. According to Dagna during An Unlikely Scholar, if choosing to help her join the Circle.
  41. Dragon Age Comic
  42. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 260
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