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The Harrowing Chamber

The Harrowing is a test that every apprentice mage must go through to become a full member of the Circle of Magi. It is practiced throughout most of Thedas, with Tevinter possibly employing a similar test.[1][2] Exactly what happens during the Harrowing is kept a secret from apprentices and people outside of the Circle.[3]

Background[]

The Harrowing is a secretive rite of passage that is the cause of much fear and speculation among apprentices. All of their training and apprenticeship is meant to prepare them for the test, though they are never told what the test consists of or when they will be made to take it and as such must always be ready.[4] When deemed ready by the enchanters, the apprentice is taken without warning or preparation to face the Harrowing. Apprentices generally go through the Harrowing in late adolescence or early adulthood.

Age at Harrowing, from youngest to oldest:

  • Wynne – 16 years old, almost 17; noted to be years ahead of many of her peers[5]
  • Rhys – around 18-19 years old[6]
  • Vivienne – before 19 years old; noted to be one of the youngest full-fledged mages in Circle history[7]
  • Malcolm Hawke – 19 years old; noted to have hidden his true talents to match the pace of his fellow apprentices[8]
  • Bethany Hawke – 20 years old; as a former apostate, she was made to go through the Harrowing as soon as she arrived in the Circle[9]

Those who succeed the Harrowing earn the title and trappings of a mage, becoming a full member of the Circle. Those who fail are never seen or heard from again.[3][10]

A failed Harrowing[11]

Apprentices may choose to be made Tranquil instead of undergoing their Harrowing.[12] Apprentices who are deemed too weak or dangerous may be denied the Harrowing and made Tranquil outright.[13] Apostates who have never taken their Harrowing are usually made to undergo the test as soon as they are taken to the Circle.[9]

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.[14][15]

The rite[]

The rite itself is fairly simple. First, the apprentice is taken to the Harrowing Chamber, where numerous senior spellcasters and templars stand ready. Then, they use lyrium to project their mind into the Fade.[15] There, 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 is overwhelmed by the demon (or, some say, takes too long to complete the task), they are 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.

Upon successful completion of his or her Harrowing, a mage is traditionally given a ring of lyrium-infused silver.

Codex entries[]

Codex entry: The Harrowing Codex entry: The Harrowing
Codex entry: Journal of the Tranquil Codex entry: Journal of the Tranquil
Codex entry: The Tranquil Codex entry: The Tranquil
Codex entry: Walking the Fade: A Harrowing Codex entry: Walking the Fade: A Harrowing

Trivia[]


This section contains spoilers for:
Dragon Age: Inquisition.


There is a possibility that demons invoked in Harrowings are actually benign spirits. According to Solas, a spirit often manifests as what its mortal viewer expects it to be. Spirits of wisdom are sometimes turned into demons of pride by this way, simply because the latter is the expectation. Following that logic, in the Mage Warden's Harrowing, Mouse may have appeared as a pride demon to the Warden, when, in fact, it was not. The Warden deemed Mouse to be the true challenge of the Harrowing, which the Templars and senior mages warned was a demon. Therefore, Mouse adapted to the Warden's expectation. This theory can be supported by Mouse's choice to spare the Warden, whom it could have easily possessed.


See also[]

Ring of Study Ring of Study

References[]

  1. Dorian's experience during Here Lies the Abyss.
  2. In Dragon Age: Tevinter Nights, Three Trees to Midnight, Myrion mentions taking a test on resisting demons during which a desire demon took the form of a boy he liked.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Codex entry: The Harrowing
  4. Image from Dragon Age RPG Core Rulebook, p. 101.
  5. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 88
  6. 38-year-old Rhys reminisces about his Harrowing, "almost twenty years ago." Dragon Age: Asunder, Chapter 3
  7. She transferred to the Montsimmard Circle as a full-fledged mage at nineteen. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, p. 235
  8. Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 2, pp. 147-148
  9. 9.0 9.1 Letter: Family Letters
  10. Dragon Age: Asunder, Chapter 3
  11. Image from Dragon Age RPG Player's Guide, set 2, p. 63.
  12. Codex entry: Journal of the Tranquil
  13. As was the plan for Jowan.
  14. According to Hawke and Anders during Dissent and an unnamed NPC in the Gallows.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Dragon Age logo - new.png Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, vol. 1, p. 100
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