Dragon Age notes (in preparation for DAI - DAO and DA2 spoilers)

Mage-Templar War / Mage rebellion

Describes a war where the Circles of Magi were nearly destroyed and all mages were considered apostates independently of their will, and where there is an all-out war with Templars, who stopped obeying the Chantry. 

After the death of the Viscount of Kirkwall and his heir in 9:34, the knight-commander of the city’s Templars, Meredith Stannard, assumed control of the city. She incited discontent amongst the citizens and the mages due to the “plague” of maleficarum and abominations in Kirkwall. Her increasingly harsh sanctions against the mages started to be opposed, and even the First Enchanter Orsino believed Meredith was losing her mind, while the Grand Cleric Elthina refused to pick a side in the conflict. Before the agent the Divine sent was able to remove the Grand Cleric from Kirkwall, tensions reached a peak and the apostate Anders, declaring he would no longer allow Templars to persecute mages, exploded the Chantry, killing the Grand Cleric and removing the possibility of compromise. Meredith invoked the Right of Annulment and the Champion of Kirkwall was forced to pick a side in the conflict. The chaos forced everyone to extremes, most of the Circle died and Meredith became petrified when she attempted to draw too much power from her Red Lyrium sword. 

The news spread to other Circles, and mages outraged to hear the Right of Annulment was invoked because of the actions of a single apostate mage lead to revolts, that clashed with further restrictions imposed by the Templars. The College of Enchanters voted against independence, but the Libertarian faction continued to encourage rebel. Empress Celene appealed to the Divine Justinia V to take action, and the Divine was willing to reform the Circles, but an assassination attempt was held against her by Senior Enchanter Jeannot, despite her mage-sympathetic views. In response, Lord Seeker Lambert took control of the White Spire Circle.

Archmage Wynn, her son Rhys, mage Adrian and Templar Evangeline, saved a Tranquil who had become an abomination and he told the party he found a way to reverse the Rite of Tranquility. That information made the Divine arrange a Conclave of First Enchanters and the party. The meeting was disrupted by Lord Seeker Lambert who blamed Rhys by finding a knife with the blood of the Tranquil in Rhys room, while actually Adrian created that scene to force Wynne to abandon her position of convincing the Circle to vote against independence. The mages refused to stand down, believing they were being framed by the Lord Seeker, and the Templars attacked by  Lord Seeker’s order. Mages fought in defense until some of them were killed, and others imprisoned, but the Divine sent agents (Leliana, Wynne) to free the mages and destroy the phylacteries contained in the White Spire with their blood (used by Circles to track fugitive mages), allowing mages to become apostates.

The mages retreated to Andoral’s Reach where they held a second votation, and this time, the Liberitarians and Aequitarians (who opposed Circles) won the vote against the Loyalists, arguing that submission now would impose harsher conditions for all Circle mages. However, the Loyalists, united under First Enchanter Vivienne, fought the rebel mages, with some mages hiding rather than fighting. The Lord Seeker declared the Nevarran Acord null, and that the Seekers and the Templar Order would no longer obey the Divine. Seeker Lamber disappeared but was succeeded by Lucius Corin, and the Templars and mages were preparing to be at war. Meanwhile, other Circles crumbled or were submitted to the Right of Annulment. Some people were granted amnesty by joining the Grey Wardens, the Ferelden Monarchy offered the rebel mages a sanctuary in Redcliffe, and the Chantry suffered with the losses. In an attempt to put an end to the conflict, the Divine sent her Right Hand (Cassandra) and Left Hand (Leliana) to find a person fit to lead the Inquisition (The Hero of Ferelden or The Champion of Kirkwall), with no success. 

For last, the Divine called a peace summit / Conclave located at the Temple of Sacred Ashes where both mages and Templars would attend to try to reach a new accord. Both parties feared a trap and emissaries were sent to represent their leaders. 

[SPOILER FOR DAI] During the summit, an ancient darkspawn magister called The Elder One infiltrates the Conclave and captures the Divine using enthralled Grey Warden mages, to use as a sacrifice to power an elven orb that would open the Fade. [END OF SPOILER]

However, an unexpected attendant interrupted the ritual and accidentally made contact with the orb, causing a massive explosion. The explosion destroyed the temple, created rifts in the Veil across Thedas - the largest one called The Breach – and killed everyone except the intruder, who emerged out of a rift with a mysterious mark in the hand able to close rifts, and was found by Loyalist Chantry forces. 


» Circles: Where mages are sent to learn and be supervised by Templars. To conclude their studies, they have to go through a test, the Harrowing

» Templars: Order created to supervise the mages. Because both the Circles and the Templars are branches of The Chantry, they are considered the army of the Chantry. Templars take lyrium (the blue kind, not the red) to have special abilities that allow them to counterattack magic attacks

» Seekers of the Truth: Can be considered the police or the investigator branch of the Chantry. Can inclusively police the Templar Order, and hunt apostate mages.

» Apostate mages: Mages that are not in a Circle without the Chantry's permission, either because they grew up on the outside and never were captured, or because they ran away. Mages that were in a Circle before but were able to run away are easily tracked, because the Circles keep samples of their blood to use tracking magic. 

» Rite of Tranquility: Ritual done on mages by Templar decision. Tranquil mages stop being able to use magic, but also lose most of their emotions. It's supposedly irreversible, and supposedly only submitted to mages who pose a threat

» Right of Annulment: An authorization conceded by the Chantry to “pacify” or kill all of the mages in a Circle, if the Knight-Enchanter considers that the entire Circle is corrupted.

» Fraternities of mages: Loyalists, Libertarians... [see my slide with that title, there's more] They are communities of mages with different political views regarding the Circles, the Chantry and their own rights.

» Types of mages: [see my slide with that title, there's more] Maleficar: A mage who uses forbidden arts; Blood mage: A specific type of Maleficar whose magic originates from blood instead of the Fade; Abomination: A mage possessed by a demon. The person is aware of what is happening but is not in control of their own body, and the demon in the Fade channels through the body. 

Important names in the above summary

» Divine Justinia: Leader of the Chantry, her role is stated in the summary and is dead at the start of DAI. 
» Leliana: Left hand of the Divine, she was a party companion in DAO and has brief appearances in DA2. An advisor in DAI.
» Cassandra: Right hand of the Divine, interrogated Varric in DA2, prompting him to tell the story about the Champion of Kirkwall precisely because the Divine wanted to find him. A companion in DAI.
» Wynn: Currently Archmage, she is a Loyalist and was a companion in DAO
» Rhys: Wynn's son. Not in previous titles, but mentioned in passages in DAI as a friend of a new companion, Cole, together with Evangeline.
» Evangeline: Not in previous titles, but mentioned in passages in DAI as a friend of a new companion, Cole, together with Rhys.
» Ferelden Monarchy: If Alistair was made monarchy, he was the one granting Redcliffe to the mages. The same about Anora.
-- As a sidenote, the leader of the rebel mages found in Redcliffe in DAI, Fiona, is Alistair mother (not clear if he knows) and was a Grey Warden in the past, leaving the order when she got rid of the taint. This might sound like a spoiler, but is never said in-game. Not sure where people found out about that.
» Orsino: First-Enchanter of Kirkwall in DA2.
» Meredith: Knight-Enchanter and leader of the Templars of Kirkwall, appears and dies in DA2. She used, in DA2, a statuette made of red lyrium that will clearly be important for DA4.

General Summary about Dragon Age

Cronology: The humans came to Thedas when the elves lost their connection to the Fade, therefore magic, and were in decline; Tevinter humans enslaved the elves and tried to reach their gods; According to the Chantry, The Maker punished those mages turning them into darkspawn who tried to wake up their gods, also cursed, and each time an Old God wakes up there’s a Blight. The Fifth Blight occurs in the 9th age, when dragons reappeared, thus the Dragon Age. The religion of The Maker, Chant of Light, originated the first Age, Divine Age, and that religion influences most kingdoms, and the way mages are seen.

Nations: Tevinter has unchecked blood mages and slavery; Orlais is full of intrigues and fancy parties, and is the seat of the Chantry; Ferelden has few laws, is simple and militaristic; the Free Marches are a bunch of self-governed cities who only have in common the fact that they reject a king; Nevarra loves the dead more than the living; Antiva is rich and has the best assassins in the world, the Crows; Rivain rejects more the Chantry than it rejects the Qun, the Qunari philosophy; Anderfels is arid and the birthplace of the Grey Wardens; Par Vollen and Seheron are jungle islands of the Qunari, with Par Vollen being disputed by Tevinter; Elvhenan is the old elven empire; the Dales are where the elves tried to rebuild.

Races - Besides humans…: Elves had their culture destroyed by the colonization from Tevinter (first humans to reach Thedas) and the weakening of their magic, and now are forced to live as nomads (Dalish elves) or in ghettos (City Elves); Dwarves had most of their kingdoms destroyed by darkspawn (and some even live solely in the surface now, losing some of the dwarven skills) and have no magical abilities, which also means no dreams and no connection to the Fade; and Qunari are horned, tall, strong humanoids who try to spread their faith, the Qun, by force. 

Religion: The Chant of Light is the Religion of the Maker, the order is named Chantry and it was created by the prophet Andraste, a woman who freed slaves, fought Tevinter and became a martyr in the Ancient Times. Led by a Divine, who is always a woman. Associated with the order of Templars and Seekers of the Truth, and originally with the Inquisition. Tevinter has the Imperium Chantry, a distorted version of the Chantry, and a male divine. There are smaller religious orders, but most are distortions of the Chantry. 

Mages VS Templars: Mages can make a pact with a Spirit (or a Demon, if it was corrupted by human emotions) and become possessed, an abomination, sometimes even against their will. To prevent that, the Templars were chosen to supervise them, consuming lyrium in order to nullify magic. Yet, mages ended up being abused by the Templars, imprisoned in towers called Circles where they can learn magic, but are not allowed contact with the outer world, are subject to being killed by templars who suspect them, and even lose their emotions in The Rite of Tranquility, that destroys it along with their connection to the Fade (that grants magic), to not mention physical abuses from beatings to rape. Some mages rebel and become apostates, living hidden or on the run. That escalated to the Mage-Templar War.

The Fade: The realm of spirits, it reflects a distorted version of Thedas, shaped by what spirits see in people’s dreams. The Veil separates both realities. Spirits, when exposed to people's emotions, can become a corrupted version of themselves and their intended purpose: a demon. Spirits can also use hosts to travel to Thedas. 

Darkspawn: People corrupted by the taint, who destroy and corrupt everything with their own taint. Darkspawn are more common and organized during the Blights, started each time an Archdemon, an Old God, awakes. They were asleep because the Maker punished them for receiving more attention than himself, from powerful Tevinter mages who wanted to reach those gods and usurp the throne of the Maker. Grey Wardens go through a dangerous ritual, the Joining, to become warriors resistant to the taint of darkspawn. 

Games’ plot: Origins-> You became a Grey Warden, a warrior order able to resist the taint of darkspawn, and have to end the Fifth Blight in the middle of a civil war | II-> Your family is running from the Blight and you end up helping Kirkwall fighting Qunari and become the city’s Champion; Also, mages vs Templars | Inquisition-> You receive a mark in your hand able to close rifts in the Fade because you were in a peace talk to end the war between mages and templars when a magical explosion occurred, and end up being responsible for fixing the mess of other people, even things started in the Ancient Times.