“Magic exists to serve man, and never to rule over him.”
The Templar Order is the military order of the Orlesian Chantry that hunts abominations, apostates, and maleficar and watches over the mages of the Circle of Magi. Templars are officially deemed a force of defenders by the Chantry. Their advocates claim they are saviors, holy warriors, protectors of the innocent, and champions of all that is good. Others see them as symbols of the Chantry's control over magic with a religious fervor that inspires absolute devotion to their mandate rather than moral principles. Their roles are to protect the communities of the faithful from magical threats, protect mages from the populace, and subdue any who refuse to submit to the authority of the Circle.
Most people don't remember the Templar Order as it once was. In the days when the Chantry was still young, templars were known as the Inquisition and combed the land in search of all dangers to humanity—whether they came in the form of blood mages, abominations, cultists or heretics. It was a dark and terrifying time in the history of Thedas, and one that only ended when the Chantry convinced the Inquisition to unite under the banner of their common faith. This agreement, the Nevarran Accord, was struck in 1:20 Divine. The Inquisition was then divided in two groups: the Seekers of Truth and the Templar Order, with the purpose of the Order becoming that of guardian and warden rather than hunter.
Templars are considered by the common folk to be the saviors and holy warriors of Thedas, protecting the world from the dangers of magic unchecked. As the Chantry’s military arm, they are recruited primarily for their martial skill and religious dedication to the Maker. Given the difficult choices templars must make in the course of their duty, they must be unswervingly loyal to the Order and maintain an emotional distance from the plight of their charges. It is said that a templar’s obedience is more important to the Chantry than his or her moral center.
Dragon Age: Origins
Dragon Age II
After the death of Viscount Marlowe Dumar during the First Battle of Kirkwall, Knight-Commander Meredith Stannard declares martial law and assumes control of the city. As she blocks the election of a new viscount and implements increasingly harsh restrictions on the Circle, Meredith faces dissent from both the nobility as well as mages and her own templars. In 9:37 Dragon, the Kirkwall Chantry is destroyed by magic and Grand Cleric Elthina killed. After the battle in Kirkwall and the deaths of First Enchanter Orsino and Knight-Commander Meredith, Circles begin to rebel all over Thedas.By 9:40, the Chantry is on the brink of collapse and has lost control of the templars. A group connected to the Chantry that includes some of the Seekers of Truth have sought to find a peaceful solution to the escalating conflict between the mages and templars by finding both the Hero of Ferelden and the Champion of Kirkwall, who they believe could help stop the war. Yet the group has had no success in tracking down either individual.
Dragon Age: Asunder
Dragon Age: Inquisition
With the Mage-Templar War wreaking havoc across Thedas, Samson is able to rally some of the floundering Templar Order and is made their general. Samson has begun serving Corypheus and introduces his templars to the Red Lyrium he supplies. Samson inspires his fellow Red Templars to master the red lyrium with the sole purpose of overthrowing the Chantry that cast them aside and to make the world a place free of the Chantry's oppression.
In 9:41 Dragon, after the disappearance of Lord Seeker Lambert, the Seekers of Truth elect Lucius Corin as their new leader. Subsequently, the Templars agree to a peace summit with the mages orchestrated by Divine Justinia V. However, a massive explosion that destroys the Temple of Sacred Ashes and sunders the Veil across southern Thedas shatters any hope of peace.
In the wake of the failed conclave, the Templar order continues to fracture. A large group follows the Lord Seeker's orders and withdraw to Val Royeaux while some join the recently re-formed Inquisition. Others insist that the Lord Seeker has failed to conduct the war properly and establish themselves in the Hinterlands in western Ferelden where they continue to clash with apostate mages without any oversight or direction. Still other Templars such as those at the Circles in Hossberg in the Anderfels and Hasmal in the Free Marches refuse to be drawn into the war at all and remain neutral to protect mages not wishing to fight.
When the Inquisition addresses the Chantry in Val Royeaux, Lord Seeker Lucius arrives flanked by a contingent of Templars. Revered Mother Hevara assumes they are returning to the Chantry to put an end to the upstart Inquisition, only to be unceremoniously knocked to the ground on Lucius' order. Lucius declares Val Royeaux unworthy of the Order's protection and takes his Templars to Therinfal Redoubt. The Knight-Vigilant, who unknown to most survived the conclave, is murdered by the Red Templars to prevent him potentially interfering with their plans at Therinfal.
If the Inquisitor recruits the Templars:
Should the Inquisitor go to meet with the Templars, it is revealed that an Envy demon has taken Lucius' place and was feeding the majority of the Order red lyrium to help further fill the ranks of the Red Templars: a splinter faction of Templars addicted to Red lyrium.
Notes found in Therinfal Redoubt's officers' quarters proved that the templar officers willingly infected half their knights with red lyrium even before they discovered that an Envy demon has been posing as Lucius Corin. These officers appear to be members of General Samson's Red templars and were complicit in not only corrupting their subordinates, but also in the assassination of Knight-Vigilant Trentwatch.
If the Inquisitor preserves the Order:
After the Envy demon's death, the Inquisition allies with the surviving Templars at Therinfal. They aid in closing the Breach.
If the Inquisitor disbands the Order:
After the Envy demon's death, the Inquisition disbands the Templar Order and conscripts its former members into the Inquisition. They help in closing the Breach.
If the Inquisitor recruits the Mages:
The Templars at Therinfal Redoubt are fully corrupted and turned into Red Templars and serve as the Elder One's main troops in his conflict with the reformed Inquisition. The Templars at Hasmal request the Inquisition's aid in relocating the loyalist mages at their circle to the Inquisition for fear of the local populace attacking them and later ally with the Inquisition in the conflict with Corypheus.
If Cassandra or Vivienne becomes Divine:
The Templar Order is re-established under Divine Victoria.
If Leliana becomes Divine and the Templars are recruited as full allies:
When the new Divine dissolves the Circle, the Templars re-establish their order with a new mandate to serve the people of Thedas independently.
If the Inquisition is disbanded and Cullen stops taking lyrium:
If the Inquisition is disbanded, Cullen creates a sanctuary for those who wish to cease using lyrium, and a hospice for those whose minds are too far gone with addiction.
If the Inquisition remains as a peacekeeping force, Cullen promotes the Chantry's treatment of templars wishing to cease lyrium use as well as those whose minds are too far gone with addiction.
Templars are often recruited as children or teenagers. The recruitment and training is rigorous, sometimes in monastic refuges segregated from everyday society. While the majority of their members are male, some female templars do exist, having chosen to serve the Maker as a defender of the faith rather than a spiritual guide for the community. Templars take vows upon knighthood, but these do not include vows of chastity (although some elect to take those as well). Templars are nevertheless discouraged from marrying or raising children since it is impractical to live apart from ones' dependents. Such unions are occasionally permitted, provided that the templar's spouse has his or her own means of support, for example, owning land or a title. A templar marrying another templar or a mage within the same Circle would be considered fraternization within the ranks and would seldom receive permission.
Recruits require years of education and discipline to use their templar abilities. Once they've become proficient in their templar skills, the recruits then learn sword training and religious doctrine. Prior to taking their vows, templar recruits undergo a vigil. After the vigil, the knight's life is changed. The templar is given a philter—their first draught of lyrium—and its power. The Templar Order dictates that templars are not to seek wealth or acknowledgement. Their lives belong to the Maker and the path they have chosen.
Duties of a templar
Templars are sworn to protect the world from the dangers of magic, but they also protect mages from the outside world, a world that fears these magic users for very good reasons. Outside the Circles, templars are responsible for hunting maleficarum, apostates, abominations, and demons. In addition, templars are responsible for seeking out mages newly come into their power to bring them into the Circle. Inevitably, the Order must also pursue mages who escape the Circle but typically can track the fugitives using a phylactery of blood from their quarry.
Within the Circles, it is the templars' place to watch their charges for signs of weakness or corruption and, should they find it, to act without hesitation for the good of all. One of the Order's most important duties occurs during a mage's Harrowing. During this ritual, a templar watches over the body of the mage, ready to kill them if demonic possession occurs.
In the extreme event that an entire Circle of mages becomes corrupted, templars can request the Right of Annulment from a Grand Cleric, which authorizes them to purge all of the mages in that Circle. This is meant to be used in the event that a Circle has been judged irredeemable. The considerable power the Order holds over mages occasionally leads to charges of tyranny and abuse, since the balance between protection and oppression of the mages is precarious. Nevertheless, according to the Chantry, this is the price that must be paid for the security the templars offer.
Templars are the ideal foils for mages, having been trained specifically to counter and deny magic. This is done by a unique method of reinforcing the reality and immutability of the world. When a mage—or a demon—seeks to work magic, they tap into the Fade in order to reshape reality. A templar's ability "declare[s] the world real" and closes off a mage's access to the Fade. Magical effects dissipate and the mage is unable to reshape a suddenly stubborn world. From a mage's perspective, templars reinforce reality, making it so that spells cannot be cast in the first place. The Seekers of Truth share these powers, and some believe their abilities to be gifts from the Maker.
Templar abilities to dispel magic and inhibit spellcasting, as well as develop a considerable immunity to magic, come primarily through ingesting lyrium. Cole says that the bodies of the templars become incomplete and try to connect to something older and bigger than they are. They reach for that "other thing" and magic has no room to come in. Cullen states that wielding templar abilities is strange at first but eventually become instinct. In time, templars can wield their abilities as they would a sword—without thought.
The lyrium is prepared by philters—boxes containing tools that are used by templars to prepare the daily draught of lyrium which consequently allows the denial of magic. If Lyrium ingestion is stopped, Templars will eventually lose their abilities. Though their abilities are mostly used as a foil for mages and fade creatures, some of their talents can have practical uses for the mundane. For example, Holy Smite is an attack that is described as the templar striking with "condemning fire" that causes magical spirit damage. Abilities such as Silence and Lasting Cleanse can prevent even normal opponents from using their talents for a short time. Wrath of Heaven is an ability that is described as summoning a "blinding pillar of light"; and while it is most effective against demons, it can also be used to stun a creature's senses as well.
When a templar taps into their power, their sword visibly courses with a white power that disrupts mana. This power can also be channeled through their skin and used, for example, to activate plates housed in special dwarf-created doors within the Circle of Magi such as the entrance to the phylactery storeroom, which require the presence of both a templar and a mage working together to open them.
Templars are also specifically trained to fight against demons.
"The mages have made their suffering known. The templars never have."
"Inside you, there is something you don't know you possess. Becoming a templar will make you keenly aware. You will feel empowered. It is joyous. But once you are accustomed, that something will get hungry. You have never felt this. The Order fights it with brotherhood."—Ser
All templars take lyrium, which is used to enable their anti-magic skills and is unofficially used as a control mechanism by the Chantry. Lyrium is a highly addictive substance. A lack of lyrium causes the templar to start to feel withdrawal symptoms within a week and to lose touch with reality and suffer from delusions within 1-2 months. The effects of lyrium addiction include paranoia, obsession, and dementia. Symptoms of lyrium hunger pangs include fatigue, forgetfulness, an unquenchable thirst, possibly the occasional headaches, and cold hands. Over time, templars grow disoriented, incapable of distinguishing memory from present, or dream from waking. They frequently become paranoid as their worst memories and nightmares haunt their waking hours.
Templars also lose their memories to prolonged imbibing of lyrium. It starts small at first—a misplaced item or words to a song—but more fades away over time. Those cut off from lyrium and who could not endure the suffering either go mad or die. Templars start receiving lyrium once they've taken their vows. Ingestion also seems to change how the recipient smells after a while, described as something akin to burnt ozone.
Though unusual, dwarven initiates are not immune from the risks, either. Exposure to lyrium does not preclude the dangers of ingestion. This also indicates that dwarves are recruited into the order, or at least the training.
It is confirmed that lyrium does have effective benefits for templars, as it builds a resistance to magic in them over time, and is needed for their abilities, such as being able to shut off a mage's abilities entirely. It also puts templars in a state of boldness and empowerment while under the influence. Some people think that templars are conditioned to be dependent on this mineral for its attributes and that the Chantry knows of its addictiveness. Both Alistair and Evangeline say that "the Chantry controls the supply of lyrium, and thus they control the templars."
When Templars retire honorably, they are provided a small stipend of lyrium to stave off the hunger for the substance, but the craving hits some templars much harder than others. Furthermore, those kicked out of the order have no such provision made for them.
Templar hierarchy roughly goes as follows:
- Knight-Vigilant – the leader of the Order, who rules from the White Spire in Val Royeaux
- Knight-Divine – a division of templars who serve the Divine directly, and manage the day-to-day operations of the Templar Order
- Knight-Commander – leader of a main branch, such as a Circle of Magi
- Knight-Captain – second-in-command to Knight-Commanders, with the ability to relieve them of command if they overstep their bounds
- Knight-Templar – more commonly referred to as Templar, base title for those who have taken their vows
- Templar-Recruit – a new initiate into the order
The Order is composed of numerous branches, each of them centered around a specific community or region they are assigned to defend and monitor. Templars may be assigned to the Circles of Magi but also to individual chantries. Each main branch of the organization is led by a Knight-Commander. In Thedas, there are at least fifteen Knight-Commanders, who in turn answer to the local head of the Chantry, generally a Grand Cleric. The size and strength of each branch also differs, depending on the community they serve or their specific mandate. For example, the templars present in Lothering are few in number, and may in fact be a smaller unit within a larger chapter. Meanwhile, the Order in Kinloch Hold and Kirkwall is much more powerful, and in the case of Kirkwall, perhaps more powerful even than the civilian government in the city.
The Order itself is ruled from the White Spire in Val Royeaux by a Knight-Vigilant. However, there are other sources that suggest that the Order is actually led by a series of Knights-Divine, a division within the Order who serve directly underneath the Divine herself and act as her enforcers and bodyguards (for example in the role of Right Hand of the Divine). In addition to making the rules, these Knights oversee day-to-day operations. Above the Templar Order, but separate, are the Seekers of Truth who serve as “watchers of the watchmen,” providing accountability for the templars.
The Templar heraldry is a stylized representation of a flaming sword. The flames represent purification, just as Andraste was purified by flame upon her martyrdom at the height of the first Exalted March. The sword is an emblem of mercy in Chantry symbolism because Hessarian ran Andraste through with his sword to save her from a slow and painful death. The sword is also a part of the constellation Visus; it is said that the star that marks the point of its blade only appeared in the night sky after Andraste's death. The early Inquisition took Visus as their symbol, and upon their partition the Templar Order took the sword while the Seekers of Truth retained the eye. The constellation Judex has a modern meaning in its use as a symbol by the Templar Order, which has caused the old interpretation of the constellation (the downturned sword indicating a guilty verdict–most likely execution) to be frowned upon in scholarly circles today.
The exact design varies. There are at least six variations.
- The sword is pointing up with two small flames on either side.
- Pointing down with four larger flames.
- Pointing down with three flames on either side.
- With the sword pointing down with four flames on either side. The flames end about two thirds of the way down.
- Same as above but the flames are larger closer to the hilt.
- With four flames on either side running the length of the sword.
- Alistair – former Templar-Recruit at the monastery at Bournshire, Ferelden (9:20-9:29); was conscripted into the Grey Wardens by Duncan
- Belinda Darrow – former Knight-Templar from the Starkhaven Order; currently with the Inquisition (9:41)
- Cairn – Knight-Templar from the Kirkwall Order (9:31-9:34)
- Carver Hawke – Knight-Corporal from the Kirkwall Order (conditional)
- Cullen Rutherford – former Templar at Kinloch Hold (9:31); Knight-Captain at the Gallows (9:31-9:37), Knight-Commander at the Gallows (9:37-9:40) (conditional); currently with the Inquisition (9:41-9:44)
- Delrin Barris – Knight-Templar at Therinfal Redoubt; potentially promoted to Knight-Commander by the Inquisitor (c. 9:41)
- Denam – Knight-Captain at Therinfal Redoubt (9:41); currently with the Red Templars (9:41)
- Evangeline de Brassard – Knight-Captain at the White Spire (?-9:40); Knight-Commander as of 9:41
- Greagoir – Knight-Commander at Kinloch Hold (9:07-9:32)
- Lambert van Reeves – former Knight-Captain at the Ghislain Circle (9:17-9:20); Seeker (9:21-9:36), Lord Seeker (9:37-9:40)
- Meredith Stannard – Knight-Commander at the Gallows (9:21-9:37)
- Raleigh Samson – former Knight-Templar from Kirkwall (9:37); currently with the Red Templars (9:41)
- Reimas – former Knight-Templar from Orlais; currently with the Grey Wardens (9:41)
- Trentwatch – Knight-Vigilant, leader of the Templar Order at the beginning of the Mage-Templar War (c. 9:41)
- Wesley Vallen – Knight-Templar in the Ferelden Order (9:30)
- Codex entry: Templars
- Codex entry: At What Cost
- Codex entry: Confessions of a Lyrium Addict
- Codex entry: Death of a Templar
- Codex entry: Despair Demon
- Codex entry: Fear
- Codex entry: Hierarchy of the Circle
- Codex entry: Knight-Captain Cullen
- Codex entry: Pride Demon
- Codex entry: Rage Demon
- Codex entry: The Right of Annulment
- Codex entry: The Seekers of Truth
- Codex entry: Templar's Ceremonial Cummerbund
- Codex entry: The Templar Order: End of an Accord
- Codex entry: Way of the Templar
- Despite being part of the Chantry, there are implications in Dragon Age: Asunder that the Templar Order is autonomous to a certain degree.
- The lore surrounding lyrium and templar abilities in Dragon Age: Origins, particularly with regards to Alistair, has mixed explanations both within universe and with writer interviews:
- Within the game, Alistair claims that templars don't need to take lyrium to learn templar talents, only that it makes templar talents more effective. He denies being addicted to lyrium, and explains that lyrium is only given to templars after they have taken their vows. Since he had not taken his vows when recruited by Duncan, this strongly suggests that Alistair was never given lyrium, and his specialization comes only from his training.
- However, David Gaider later stated in an interview that templars can use their abilities for a "long time" after stopping taking lyrium, citing Alistair as an example, which implied that Alistair had taken lyrium at some point.
- In the same interview, Gaider also admits "part of that was just the requirements of gameplay, for us to have a specialization as well, so some of that story doesn't quite match up with the gameplay."
- Alistair still has use of his templar abilities during the events of Dragon Age: Those Who Speak, which takes place sometime after 9:34 Dragon—at least five years after Alistair had left the Order.
- There is never any in-universe mention of Alistair taking lyrium, or suffering from the effects of lyrium withdrawal.
- Regardless of if Alistair never took lyrium, or only took a first infusion that did not result in addiction or withdrawal and has allowed him to use his abilities for years afterwards, he is the only known templar who does not need to be actively taking lyrium in order to use their anti-magic abilities.
- Some people say that embracing religion or having some form of supportive community can be effective coping mechanisms for templars and are generally encouraged. Faith is generally how templars endure their hard lives but how each templar copes is each individual templar's affair.