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Civilization and Culture


No one knows who first discovered magic, but it has been a part of the world of Thedas for as long as people can remember. From the elves of Arlathan to the mages of Tevinter, both humans and elves have been known to wield magic.   Before it became the Imperium, Tevinter was ruled by a dynasty of kings. And long before the Chantry there was a Circle of Magi: the society of mages in each city. The titles the modern Circles use—enchanter, senior enchanter, first enchanter—all originated here. But above the first enchanter, the Circles of Tevinter had another office: magister.   The magisters formed a council of the most powerful mages in the kingdom. They convened in Minrathous and held dominion over all magic in the land. When Darinius seized the throne in -1195 Ancient, the Court of the Magisters became the royal court, and "magister" was the only title of nobility recognized in Tevinter.   Prior to the Circle’s formation, magic was either practiced by the Magisters of the Tevinter Imperium or in remote areas, knowledge handed down from one generation of practitioners to the next. “Hedge mages,” as Enchanters of the Circle refer to them, or “witches” as legend would name them, do not always employ forbidden magic. Quite often their talents lie in the creation of charms, the use of curses and the ability to change their own forms. Examples of such Hedge mages and witches include the so-called "witches" of the Chasind wilders or the "shamans" of the Avvar barbarians   It is revealed that elves were heavily reliant on magic in the days of Arlathan, and that it is possible that it was they who taught blood magic to the Tevinter magisters. Merrill, for instance, once refers to her blood magic as "the old ways." Legend holds that the first known blood mage, at least for the humans, was a Tevinter: Archon Thalsian. Thalsian was supposedly taught how to use blood magic by the Old God Dumat. Over the years, some historians have argued that this is merely a myth, and that Thalsian learned about blood magic from the elves. Thalsian taught blood magic to others and soon amassed an army, which he used to conquer Elvhenan, the homeland of the elves. This was the start of the Tevinter Imperium, which grew to include most of Thedas, and which worshipped the Old Gods.   The Imperium was not satisfied with control of Thedas, however, and in an incredible act of hubris, the magister lords attempted to enter the Golden City and supposedly usurp the Maker Himself. Their efforts failed, and to punish them, Chantry historians believe that the Maker transformed them into the first darkspawn. These darkspawn fled underground, and eventually found Dumat and transformed him into the first Archdemon. Thus began the First Blight, which would continue for two centuries and greatly weakened the Tevinter Imperium.   In the wake of the First Blight, the people of the Imperium became disillusioned with the Old Gods, and soon began to follow Andraste, a former slave who united the barbarian tribes and led them to break the Imperium's hold on Thedas. Andraste was ultimately betrayed by her husband, Maferath, and burned at the stake, but her death inspired the creation of the Chantry, an event that would alter the face of magic for centuries afterwards.

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