Fraternities are groups of enchanters who hold the same viewpoints, and band together to make their voices heard. They function as political parties among Circle mages and determine the policy of a given Circle. Any full enchanter can join one. A fraternity counts enchanters from different Circles among their number, and the various fraternities vie for power in the College of Magi. The College, they say, allows mages of the south to gather in peace and seek new solutions to age-old problems.
The College of Magi in Cumberland is a palace, gifted to the Chantry by a Nevarran Duchess. The rumor is that her daughter was a mage, and the Duchess wanted her to have the opulence to which she was accustomed. The College is a sheer display of wealth, with sandstone busts of every Grand Enchanter who had held the office in the last six hundred years.
- Aequitarians - are the dominant faction in the College of Magi in general, and Ferelden's Circle in particular. They promote a moderate and popular viewpoint that mages must use their abilities in a responsible and ethical manner, regardless of Chantry law. Aequitarians believe that all mages should help people and follow a set of rules and ideals. In practice, this usually means operating within the more reasonable tenets of Chantry law. Known Aequitarians include Edmonde, Irving, Rhys, Sweeney, Torrin and Wynne. By 9:40 Dragon they are represented in the College of Magi by Rhys.
- Isolationists - are a small group of mages who wish to separate themselves from the templars, the Chantry and even civilization altogether, both in order to practice magic without scrutiny and to ensure their powers do not negatively affect "ordinary" folk. Niall identifies with the beliefs of the Isolationists, though does not consider himself one of them.
- Libertarians - desire the Circle to become an autonomous, self-regulating order without Chantry involvement at any level. While many Libertarians advocate the use of peaceful means to ensure their independence, such as a bill of secession they proposed to the College of Magi in 9:31 Dragon, at least one subgroup, the Resolutionists, are willing to pursue violent means to achieve their ends. Libertarians count Uldred, Adrian and Jeannot among their number, led by Fiona. By 9:40 Dragon they are represented in the College of Magi by Adrian.
- Loyalists - follow the Chantry's word as it is written. They are often called "Chantry apologists" for accepting and enforcing the Chantry's and the Templars' ever-present supervision.
- Lucrosians - prioritize the accumulation of wealth, with the gaining of political influence a close second. They are few in number.
In 9:37 Dragon, Wynne led the College of Enchanters to vote against independence from the Chantry, which many Circle mages believe makes her a traitor.
By 9:38 Dragon, one year after the Kirkwall Rebellion, out of fear of another similar incident in the other Circles, the Chantry has disbanded the meetings of the College of Enchanters, as well as any and all mage gatherings without their supervision. Thus, the mage fraternities are no longer permitted to conduct their meetings.
Wynne tells Rhys that it was Fiona's election to the position of Grand Enchanter that caused the conclave to be disbanded in the first place: Fiona is a former Grey Warden and campaigned diligently for independence, allowing the vote that the previous Grand Enchanter Briaus would never allow.
After word has been sent to the Divine and to the Circles regarding the Tranquil Pharamond's findings on the Rite of Tranquility, the fraternities are allowed to convene at the White Spire to discuss his research. However, with the turmoil in Orlais, the conclave—led by the Grand Enchanter Fiona—derails from its primary objective to the possibility of separating the Circle of Magi from the Chantry, a motion which has long been pushed by the Libertarians. Before the vote can take place, templars and seekers march into the great hall and proceed to imprison the attending mages after Pharamond was found dead in his chambers. Those who were imprisoned are able to escape and kill the templars who watched them.They flee the White Spire and take refuge in Andoral's Reach, where many hundreds of mages, now apostates, arrive within weeks. Another conclave on the mages' independence is held. The options are either to submit to the Chantry as advocated by the Loyalists, or to declare the Circle's secession from the Chantry as advocated by the Libertarians. Rhys, as the representative of the Aequitarians, casts the decisive vote to fight, siding with the Libertarians. With this motion the mages officially cut their ties to the Chantry and refuse to acknowledge the authority of the Templar Order. By 9:40 Dragon, the templars have also left the Chantry and both sides are preparing for war.
- Main article: Mage-Templar War
The Venatori, led by Gereon Alexius, take over Redcliffe Castle in Redcliffe Village. Using time traveling magic, Alexius was able to conscript the rebel mages before the Inquisition. Should the Inquisitor choose to recruit the rebel mages, the Inquisition will oust Alexius from power and have the rebel mages align with the Inquisition.
If the Inquisitor recruits the mages as conscripts and Cassandra is Divine:
The Inquisition's mages - the former rebels led by Grand Enchanter Fiona agree to return to the Circle peacefully and form a new college within called The Bright Hand. It is not long before this new college dominates, pushing for reform and close ties to the Inquisition. Rumors begin to circulate of a split within the Circle, a shadow war against the new college by unknown forces.
With the Inquisition no longer the power it had been after the events of the Exalted Council, the College of the Bright Hand floundered. The newly elected Grand Enchanter Vivienne succeeded in pushing it into the margins of the Circle politics. No longer anyone's hands, its leaders reforged it as the College of Enchanters, breaking away completely from the Circle.
If Cassandra or Leliana becomes Divine and mages are full allies:
The Inquisition's mages and former rebel mages reform the College of Enchanters as a new order. If Cassandra is Divine, the College and her reformed Circle of Magi have clashed from the beginning—and some fear it will lead to a new war of the mages upon themselves. If Leliana is Divine, the College appears to be working and mages begin to enjoy unprecedented acceptance throughout Thedas. Yet after the events of the Exalted Council, the end of the Inquisition as it had been sent shock waves through the autonomous College of Enchanters. Madam de Fer ably played on the mages' fear. Her followers united to build a new Circle—with Vivienne as its Grand Enchanter—in direct competition with the College. What the Circle lacked in numbers, they made up for in political connections; soon they were a force to be reckoned with.
If the Inquisitor recruits the mages as conscripts and Leliana is Divine:
When Leliana disbands the Circles, they remain with the Inquisition and form a new college called the Bright Hand. To many, this new order represents the best of mages, an example for the rest of Thedas to follow.
With the Inquisition no longer the power it had once been after the events of the Exalted Council, the mages who had been its Bright Hand were left to take up civilian lives. Some returned to the familiarity of the Circle under Vivienne's guidance as the newly elected Grand Enchanter. Most of the seasoned veterans formed a new College of Enchanters.
If Vivienne becomes Divine and mages are full allies:
Fiona and the rebel mages reform the College of Enchanters as an alternative organization to the re-instated Circle of Magi, however the new college is swiftly crushed and the Circle of Magi remains the dominant Arcane Institution in southern Thedas. After the events of the Exalted Council and with the Inquisition no longer the power it once was, Vivienne grudgingly allowed the Inquisition mages to remain as the College of Enchanters, as a mark of her regard for the Inquisition.
- Codex entry: Circles Within Circles
- Codex entry: The Fraternity of Enchanters
- Codex entry: The Resolutionists