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A few friends and I are currently running a campaign and I'm wondering if there is any given physical specifics about how magic is summoned by a caster. Although I'm not an expert, I've read a lot about the Veil, the Fade, spirits, mana, etc and I can't remember neither the video games nor the rulebook making any final answer to this question.

So: does casting require any physical summoning, be it talking out loud, simply wording an incantation or gesturing in any way? Or is it strictly an inner process, calling to a 6th sense to draw magic through the Veil - with no physical requirements?

From my understanding it is closer to the second option, mostly because:

  • Most people's connection with magic (through dreaming) is made when their body is non-respondant
  • There doesn't seem to be a "language" of magic, as there is no unversally spoken language among mages. Circle mages learn Ancient Tevene but it seems to be more for educational purposes than for actual casting
  • In the video games, mages do grunt and perform majorette stunts with their staff but it looked more like a combat dynamics thing (if not an in-game aesthetics) than an actual magic process

So I feel that a mage, even if heavily restrained and gagged, even if mute and paralyzed would still be able to cast.

And still, they all wield staves. It's actually the only mandatory piece of equipment listed when you're creating a mage, even though staves descriptions in weapon section do not mention magic. So why use a staff and not a dagger, a sword or even nothing at all?

Did I miss anything? Could someone please bring any solid clue pointing in one direction or another?

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The staff all the Mages carry is primarily used for their Level 1 ability Arcane Lance, and a handful of other offensive spells.

From the description of the Mage class in the Character Creation chapter of the Player's Guide:

Arcane Lance: Mages learn to focus magical power through a staff or wand. If you are holding a quarterstaff or a wand, you can make a special ranged attack that damages foes with a lance of magical energy.

It won't work with a sword or dagger or just with your bare hands.

As for whether magic requires incanting or gesturing, it actually depends on the spell used. If you read the description of the spells in Chapter 5 of the Player's Guide, you'll see that some of them describe actions that the Mage needs to do take cast the spell, while some just happen without needing any intervention.

Here's a few examples taken from the Player's Guide that requires actions or movements:

Glyph of Paralysis: You trace your fingers on the ground, creating an invisible glyph that holds a charge of magical power.

Heal: Your touch seals wounds and restores vigor to one wounded target.

The following examples does not require anything to be cast, the Mage just think of it and it is cast:

Mind Blast: You create a circular blast of telekinetic force with a 2 yard radius that’s centered anywhere within 50 yards that you can see.

Rock Armor: Your skin becomes as hard as stone and protects you from harm.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Much what I was going to say. For a supporting note about vocalisations, in the lore the Qunari routinely render their mages mute (by removing the tongue or other means) to prevent them from potentially corrupting their fellows, but this is not meant to and does not appear to impede their magic. \$\endgroup\$ – Carcer Oct 29 '18 at 20:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your answers! My understanding is that, as a rule, calling upon magic doesn't need any physical contribution but certain spells require a staff to be channelled through, or a physical contact with a creature / object / surface to be applied upon. That's way clearer now, thank you again! \$\endgroup\$ – Eneeria Oct 31 '18 at 13:21

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