Into the Darkness
Circle of Magi
The Circle of Magi is the dominant organization for the training of mages within nations of Thedas. They are governed and monitored by the Chantry.
The Circle is allowed to take any child (usually age 6 to 12) from their families as soon as they show signs of magical ability. Even a royal child would be taken by the Circle should they show magical ability. The Circle then raises the child until they are a young adult, at which time they must either undergo the Harrowing or be made Tranquil.
The Circle maintains a neutrality policy, since the Chantry might take action against them if they got into the habit of getting involved into conflicts, the single exception being perhaps during a Blight. Nonetheless, it isn’t that unusual to see at least one mage or two serving either side during a conflict and the Circle ignoring these, either as a courtesy or as a way of not creating too much enmity against the Circle on either side.
First Enchanter is the title given to the head of a Circle. The first enchanter is seen by apprentices as a father or mother figure, and an ambassador of peace to the templars by the other mages. First enchanters traditionally wear black robes.
A first enchanter is appointed by the knight-commander from among the Circle’s senior enchanters, generally with the approval of the Circle’s mages. A first enchanter is usually someone who is respected by all mages and usually the templars too, and he or she is not always chosen based off their power and abilities.
A first enchanter officially has a broad range of powers. Their permission or consent is needed:
- for a mage to leave the tower
- for templars to summon an apprentice for the Harrowing
- for templars to make a mage Tranquil
- for templars to move overtly against a Circle mage suspected of practicing forbidden magic
However, the extent to which the templars allow a first enchanter to exercise their powers varies from tower to tower.
The College of Magi, a council of first enchanters from all the Circles in Thedas (excluding Tevinter), routinely convenes in the city of Cumberland, Nevarra to discuss Circle policy and to elect a new Grand Enchanter.
Each Circle follows a simple six-tier hierarchy where all residents fit; although the Tranquil seem to stand somewhat outside this progression.
- Grand Enchanter The Circle’s direct representative to the Chantry and adviser to the Divine. The grand enchanter is elected by the College of Magi in Cumberland.
- First Enchanter Leader of a Circle
- Senior Enchanter The most experienced mages
- Enchanters Mages who participate in teaching
- Mage All residents who have passed their Harrowing
- Apprentices All students training for their Harrowing
In the time of the Tevinter Imperium, the rank of magister existed above first enchanter as supreme authority in the each Circle. After the mage Darinius claimed the title of Archon, the magisters became the only noble rank in Tevinter. All Circles outside Tevinter have abolished this rank.
The mages of the Circle are also divided into several fraternities which hold diverse views of how mages should act and their place in society.
- Aequitarians are the dominant faction in the College of Magi. They promote a moderate and popular viewpoint that mages must use their abilities in a responsible and ethical manner, regardless of the Chantry law. Aequitarians believe that all mages should help people and follow a set of rules and ideals.
- Isolationists are a small group of mages who wish to separate themselves from the templars, the Chantry and even the civilization altogether, both in order to practice magic without scrutiny and to ensure their powers to do not negatively affect “ordinary” folk.
- 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, some use violent means, including the Resolutionists offshoot.
- Loyalists follow the Chantry’s word as it is written. They are often called “Chantry apologists” for accepting the Chantry and the templars ever-present observation.
- Lucrosians prioritize the accumulation of wealth, with the gaining of political influence a close second. They are few in number.