The Merry Mabari has often allowed players to play mages that, while belonging to the Circle, travel the outside world for adventure. However playing a Circle mage can be a grey area where lore is not always clear and changes so much through the games that you sometimes wonder if things have been retconed or have always been that way.
Advantages of playing a Circle mage are that you don't have to worry (too much) about templars and hiding your magic, not to mention the fact that you may have an easier life in quests that are set in the Circle of Magi or in dealing with officially sanctioned mages and templars.
However, a Circle mage should follow some rules of conduct that have never being officially stated in the games and probably never will, as your mage character in Origins was a Grey Warden, Hawke was an apostate and your inquisitor, even if from the Circle, lives in the mage-templar war era, when things are different and will possibly change forever.
The questions you should ask yourself when choosing to play a circle mage are:
- Can my mage leave the tower?
- Can my mage do mercenary work?
- What specializations are restricted to a Circle Mage?
- How does a Circle Mage deal with common folks?
- How does a Circle Mage deal with apostates and templars?
- What is required of my Circle Mage to not be considered "turned apostate"?
- Ok, but how does a Circle Mage have to carry themselves?
- Can my mage have a relationship/marry?
- What happens if I screw up?
Can my mage leave the tower?
Strange as it may sound the answer is... yes
Despite how Anders put it, in DA lore towers are not prisons always
and for everyone
. Vivienne is the living proof of it, and as she says "every circle has their rules".
We have information about how things go in five/six Circles, though not all of them are relevant because the Orlesian ones (Montsimmard's and the White Spire) are described only in times around the Mage-Templar war:
- Kirkwall is unanimously described as the most restrictive Circle. Ever. It is also a unique situation: other circles are more permissive.
- Starkhaven and the White Spire look on the more "restrictive" side, albeit the Spire policy may have been hardened after Kirkwall's rebellion.
- Kinloch Hold seems to set the average: mages are allowed to go outside with the permission of the First Enchanter and the Knight Commander, albeit officially it is the First Enchanter who grants this permission and the Knight Commander only has a "consultive role" with overriding privileges if there's a matter of security. Translation: if you are in Irving's good graces and don't anger Gregoir, you are allowed to leave the tower but only after your Harrowing.
- Montsimmard Circle is known only through Vivienne's dialogue but it appears to be on the "permissive" side, especially considering its First Enchanter lives outside of it. Vivienne's vision of mages, though, gives a clear view over its politics: it keeps the "most undesirable elements" at bay (a.k.a. "locked up") and allows the others to prove themselves, even allowing them outside.
- Dairsmuid's Circle is known only from codex entries, and it's by far the opposite of Kirkwall in terms of freedom and uniqueness. Rivaini mages are allowed to live with their families and come and go as they please, and circle templars are often overlooking cases of possession and spirit summoning if the mages can manage them. Mind that this is a very unique and faraway situation, if you plan playing a Rivaini Circle mage, you should contact an admin.
None it's known about the circles in Antiva, Hossberg, Ansburg, Hasmal, Markham and Jainen. According to the Trevelyan Mage inquisitor dialogue options Ostwick may have been on the permissive side, as probably Cumberland is too, being the seat of the Grand Enchanter mages often come and go on official business. When in doubt, we'll consider the average Circle policy similar to Kinloch Hold (jointly ruled by First Enchanter and Knight-Commander, generally restrictive but not a prison).
In addition to this, we have these particular cases:
Note that DA2 Legacy DLC (and the dragon age wiki) mentions the rank of "Junior Enchanter" but little is known about that, and it may be the full title of "enchanter" to further distinguish it from "senior enchanter". Also note that Dalish mages are technically considered apostates, but as long as they live with their clans and they are not too many, they are not pursued by templars. However, if a dalish mage leaves their clan (which should be your case) templars should pursue them.
- Tevinter Mages: Despite that you can't play a Magister, you can play a mage from Tevinter and not being considered apostate: if you have been trained in a Tevinter Circle, you still belong to one and even if your Circle answers to a different Chantry, templars must treat you like any other mage that is allowed outside the tower (meaning you're safe unless you misuse your magic or slit your wrists to summon demons and control minds: remember blood magic is officially forbidden in the Imperium as well).
- Tranquils and Formaris deserve a different approach. Tranquils are allowed to leave whenever they please since they're not mages anymore, but often decide (logically) to work in the Circle because they realize people find them unsettling. It's not uncommon, though, that tranquils set up commercial activities in cities (i.e. Wonders of Thedas in Denerim). The Formari group does have tranquils in it, but also mages, specialized in alchemy or enchantments (though enchanting is a Tranquil's doing). Formaris often set up shops, so they are in theory allowed to leave the tower the same way mages are.
In short, to play a Circle Mage in TMM you must:
- be from a "permissive Circle" (Kinloch Hold or Montsimmard, but also others).
- having passed your Harrowing
- be in the First Enchanter's good graces
- not be having issues with templars, particularly the Knight Commander
- have an actual reason to stay outside (research, army duty, healer or serving a noble)
If you are an Anders-like libertarian activist with a history of escape attempts behind you, it is certain you will not have this permission
. Consider points in Bluff skill.
Can my mage do mercenary work?
Yes. As long as you stay on the "legal" side, the Circle allows mages to work to sustain themselves (if you're not in the tower you don't have free meals and clothes, right?). You must be careful about what jobs you pick, especially if a templar is involved: breaking the law doesn't bode well...
What specializations are restricted to a Circle Mage or an Apostate?
If a specialization is allowed only through a specific training (as Templar for warriors) it will be noted in the specialization description. Rest assured that if a specialization is restricted to Circle training and your Circle mage turns apostate AFTER they got it, you can keep it.
How does a Circle Mage deal with common folks?
As a general rule, commoners ditrust mages, or "Robes" as some call them. Even as a circle mage, you should restrain yourself from using magic in public (unless it is required from you, i.e. as a healer), as it may get you lynched or persuade templars to recommend you for returning to the Tower if you're considered to use your powers "too freely". Of course there are people out there who don't consider all mages inherently dangerous, so you might be lucky...
How does a Circle Mage deal with apostates and templars?
As you please. There are several philosophies
and each issues a response: if you consider yourself a "loyalist" (like Vivienne) you tend to get along with templars and denounce apostates, if you're "aequitarian" (like Wynne) you tend to mediate, not frowning upon apostasy on principle but trying to keep templars happy, if you're a "libertarian" (like Anders) you tend to not care about apostates and have a bad relationship with templars (not that this may compromise your chances to get outside the tower), if you're a "lucrosian" you just don't care as long as you can stay outside and make profit. The last case that should be mentioned is to be an "isolationist", meaning you believe mages would live in isolation and practice your magic away from everyone, but if you consider yourself one I don't think you'd came to live in the Tavern...
What is required to my Circle Mage to not be considered "turned apostate"?
Turning apostate when you are a Circle mage is potentially quite easy, so it could also be done "accidentally". As far as Circle politics go, it probably depends from Circle to Circle: in Kirkwall you may turn apostate even if you fall asleep in a cupboard and Meredith doesn't see you for more than three hours, while in Dairsmuid you may turn apostate only if you actually destroy your phylactery. As a general rule, Circle mage-players have established they turn regular reports to templars on their activity and maintain correspondence with the Circle Tower, just to tell them "I'm still here, I haven't turned abomination and I'm not practicing forbidden arts". If however you WANT to turn apostate, you need to deal with your phylactery first. Contact an admin for that: there are many variables for this and would take too long to consider them all here.
How does a Circle Mage have to carry themselves?
In short, Don't commit a crime
or you'll be prosecuted, by Templars instead of City Guards because most guards would fear you because you're a mage. Remember what's considered a "crime" in Ferelden: abuse of magic, assault and murder, theft, false witness, impersonating, slavery and treason.
- Don't dabble into forbidden arts such as Blood Magic and demon summoning: templars may decide your time out in the world is over and if you're lucky they would bring you to the towers instead of remove you physically from this plane of existence altogether;
- Restrain the use of your magic to what's necessary, Don't use it for bullying or boasting, that's frowned upon, and don't abuse it.
- Remember also that Circle mages are supposed to rat out apostates. It is your choice in how to deal with the situation, but remember that if an apostate is discovered, you may be involved in the following investigation if you knew them. You may want to consider spending a couple of points in the bluff skill, just in case...
- Keep in touch with the tower. This is not strictly necessary, but as said before it's an established custom/headcanon.
- When in doubt, ask for templars assistance. Poor things, give their life purpose every once in a while!
Can my mage have a relationship/marry?
Sure, why not? There are however a few limitations. Quoting
Mages within the Circle are permitted to marry, but it's impractical with outsiders and they also must get permission from the Chantry (so it might be considered a reward for good behavior). Even so, the culture within the typical Circle of Magi tends to make mages unwilling to marry. The policy on fraternization will depend on the individual Circle-- some forbid it, while others do not, though in either case it still occurs. Considering mages live outside normal culture, they also consider themselves free of cultural conventions (especially those who were raised in a Circle from a young age) and thus tend to be quite liberal in their views.If you have a child
, the child belongs to the Chantry and (wether you're married or not
) is taken away and, if proven mage, sent to another Circle. You are not forbidden to see them afterwards, however it may be difficult to track them down (see Rhys and Wynne's story). Keep also in mind that mages/templar relationships are forbidden
, so if you have one you may want to keep it a secret.
To live outside the Circle the already mentioned rules apply regardless of your marital status.
What happens if I screw up?
If your circle mage is turned apostate, or accused maleficarum, or breaks the law, consequences vary. Don't just assume it means Tranquil (unless that's what you want):
As a final note on Tranquility: we know from
- A mage breaking the law may be imprisoned in the Tower and serve his sentence supervised by templars.
- A mage accused of blood magic may be sent to Aeonar for questioning and if proven guilty executed.
- A mage turning abomination is usually killed. If however the abomination can be contained and isolated, the Circle may decide to attempt confronting the demon possessing the mage in the Fade and free the mage from possession, but he would likely not allowed to leave the tower afterwards unless they're made tranquil.
- Tranquility is an extreme punishment that is usually forbidden on mages that passed their harrowing (Anders/Karl conversation during the quest "Tranquility" in DA2 act 1) unless they're proven to be blood mages or they turned abomination (and in any case execution is more common). Using the brand as a punishment is common practice only in the most restrictive circles (Kirkwall is the only documented case pre-mage-templar war). The chantry, especially during Justinia V's lead, frowns upon this use of the rite, which is primarly a way to help mages who can't control their powers.
Asuder that the rite can be reversed if a spirit touches the mind of a tranquil (possession is not necessary, it is sufficient that the spirit communes with the tranquil) restoring their connection to the fade and in turn their powers and emotions. However this is not common knowledge at the times of TMM, and keep in mind that the longer a person has been Tranquil the more intense their restored emotions are: of the known restored tranquils (don't want to make spoilers but if you played DAI you would know why I use the plural) those who have been tranquil for just a couple of weeks seem to have full control over their emotions (albeit they tend to seek for thrill and passion -er, no pun intended ), but Pharamon in
Dragon Age: Asunder who has been one for years becomes extremely emotional and doesn't have much control over strong emotions like panic and enthusiasm.