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In Dragon Age canon, mages are controlled by the Chantry, who assigns Templars to watch them. They stay in the Tower unless given a specific mission, and when they leave it is with a Templar to guard (against) them and command them.

The Templar specialization is open at 6th level; any new player character would be a raw recruit with no reason to be escorting a mage. Likewise, what is a 1st level mage doing out of the tower? When I said I would like to be the party healer the game master said that because of these reasons I could not be a Circle Mage and should be an Apostate.

This lead to a situation during the game where I was identified by the Templar as being an Apostate, and they offered two solutions, join the Circle... or become Tranquil on the spot.

They are investigating my claims of being a Circle Mage, but it is only hours before they find out I'm really Apostate. They insisted I make a phylactery, so if I run they can hunt me wherever I go. I talked to the GM, he said that either way I would essentially be making a new character. It has driven a big wedge between me and the other players (and their characters) and no one is having fun.

The question isn't about this situation per se. I just want to know if there is a way to create a mage that won't be bossed around and locked up... or killed/mindwiped.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you asked that last question to your GM at all? This site is bound to give you some really solid answers (I'm not familiar with DA, so I'm not qualified to answer), but at the end of the day the GM controls the world, and he can always come up with some reason to boss you around or lock you up (regardless of class). Collaborating with him on what kinds of concepts will make BOTH of you happy would be a good way to make sure everyone leaves happy. \$\endgroup\$ – lithas Mar 17 '16 at 16:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Reminder: comments are for clarifying content, not posting small or incomplete answers. Please use answer posts to submit answers instead. Prior comments containing answers have been removed. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 17 '16 at 17:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Based on your last comment, the situation is: during character creation DM was against this character concept, you went with it anyway, and now the character is running into serious trouble in game. Is that an accurate description of your problem? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 17 '16 at 18:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast, bear in mind that from what he described as it is written in his comment - GM signaled only that Circle Mage is banned. GM made no proper signals that Apostate would be a tough run. If situation stands as I interpreted it, personally I don't see any player's fault in this situation. \$\endgroup\$ – Jaiden Snow Mar 17 '16 at 19:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoanSparrow actually... I might have been at fault. His exact words were "you totally should, it would be fun" \$\endgroup\$ – kleineg Mar 17 '16 at 20:36
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Be or become a Grey Warden.

This is how Anders escaped being returned to the Circle at the beginning of the expansion to the first Dragon Age computer game.

There are however downsides to this - you won't be entirely a free agent, though you will be far, far more free than as a Circle mage, and as a Grey Warden you would command a reasonable amount of respect. Also surviving the induction isn't guaranteed.

http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Grey_Wardens#Recruitment_and_the_Right_of_Conscription

As another possibility being a Circle Mage in the Tevinter Imperium (a specific country, ruled by mages) might also work, but probably harder for a player to accomplish mid-campaign, I think.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, I think that is the way to go. I am going to try to get far enough away from this situation to find the Grey Wardens and try to get them to conscript me. If the character survives it will further the plot. \$\endgroup\$ – kleineg Mar 18 '16 at 13:00
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As an Apostate

Get buy-in from the party, and hide your powers. Surviving as an apostate mage means making sure that the people who care that you're a mage don't know, and the people who know that you're a mage don't care. If the rest of the party is aligned the the Chantry, do not play an apostate mage, full stop. If the rest of your party is independent of the Chantry (gray wardens, mercenaries, soldiers), then they might be willing to put up with an apostate if you keep them alive.

If you have a party that is willing to work with you, the next step is to have a cover story for what you do for them that isn't magic. When the Templars come knocking, you're an herbalist, a tracker, a dealmaker, logistics officer, or anything else that makes sense and isn't a mage.

As a Dalish Elf

While technically apostates (and often blood mages), Dalish Keepers can afford to be a bit more open about their existence. As with other apostates, you might have a hard time with a party that is aligned with the Chantry, but the complexities of politics mean that they could find an excuse for working with you if they need to (say, because they're in over their heads and need a healer). You won't have to hide your power from them, but you might have to keep them at arms length.

As a Gray Warden

As Isaac answered, Grey Wardens have political immunity to all sorts of crimes, since they're basically dead men walking anyway. If you can find a Grey Warden willing to conscript you (or play a Grey Warden from the get-go, if your DM allows), the Chantry won't be able to touch you.

As a Tevinter

The Tevinter Imperium has politics much more friendly to mages. If you play a Tevinter dignitary (or a vacationing noble brat). Just as a Dalish Elf, you'll be able to fall back on Diplomatic protection if anyone goes after you just for being a mage, but be careful that you don't push this too far, as it really depends on your GM how far this diplomatic protection could actually go.

As a Circle Mage

Your GM's claim that a first level mage would not be let out of the Tower does not ring true to me. As long as you've passed your Harrowing (which I assume comes before first level, though your GM may rule differently), you are a full fledged mage, and could be sent out by the Circle to assist on whatever mission of import the party is doing. You wouldn't have freedom to do whatever you like, and the Circle would keep a phylactery so they can track you, but you'd still be able to play the game.

Final thoughts

The above represents my interpretation of the setting, and the options that I would present a mage player, were I GMing. All of these require the GM's cooperation, and you should make sure that the GM and the rest of the party are on the same page before you go forward with any of these concepts.

If you're playing in a region (or interpretation of the setting) where Dalish are treated as enemies, or Tevinter is not respected, those options would be closed to you. Likewise, if someone in your party wants to play a Templar, you probably cannot be an Apostate.

Lastly, if another party-member decides to instigate something: don't lay down and take it. Isolate them (the character, that is) and stand up for yourself. Make it clear that there are two sides, and give the rest of the party a reason to take yours. (Or, of course, if intra-party conflict is not the norm at your table, talk to the player OOC)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ On your "lastly" point — isolate the character. Talk to the player first. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin Mar 22 '16 at 23:06
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Yes, mages of Dragon Age are quite oppressed. There is no workarounds for low-level character: if you are Apostate and want to be 'free' - you must do everything to hide your 'illegal' activities (I don't say - that you need to stop them ^ ^), you must be smart and evasive as hell. You must be brilliant - and I don't mean character stats.

But don't judge Templars and Circles too hard: Circles are doing all this because mage could be taken by demons and turn to Abomination - and that would escalate to something really-really ugly. For the mage himself too! Being a mage in Dragon Age means that some dream-monster can lure you and take your body, change it and use it - all with you being trapped inside.

I assume in some wilderness you could have your 'freedom' (to be bossed by demons -_-).

Circles differ in a way mages are handled inside - it is a sliding scale - from absolutely oppressive to a comfortable place to live and work at. So if you are from one of the positive circles your Templar is not some low-whited bully (Templars are just like any other people. Some become corrupted by playing jailer, others - resist corruption.) If your Templar handler is softie - you will not be bossed for nothing or unreasonable.

Exeptions:

There also were situations during Dragon Age when Templars were weakend or broken. There were periods of turmoil when government was shaken enough to loosen the leash on the mages or drop it. There were territories with rebellious mage organizations - not long-lived but yet. There were situations where special permissions were given to special mages due to special circumstances.

During Blight times in a zombie-apocalypse setting, I suppose there could be a lot of situations where no one would give a damn about one loose mage who is clearing a village of 'zombies'.

Another possibility - you could be awesome at hiding your special 'talents', while still gaining benefits from using those. How about posing a trader who sells magic goods from Circle... which he secretly produced himself?

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    \$\begingroup\$ If by magic goods, you mean enchantment, that can only be done by those without magic - specifically Tranquil and Dwarves. An apostate mage would (probably) not be able to produce them. \$\endgroup\$ – Tim C Mar 22 '16 at 22:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Confirming what Tim C said, enchanted items can only be made by those who can't use magic in the Dragon Age setting. Mages can make potions, but magic doesn't help with that; Anyone skilled with herbs and alchemy can do the same thing. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Mar 22 '16 at 22:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, not enchantment. I meant herbalism + shapeshifter combination. Some forest creatures noses could be more useful for providing extra dimention of data for herbal components - is fresh or not; is it ripe, or not; these sorts of things and nuances. Eyes of bird give new dimention for understanding properties of components by their color. They see far away. They have better angle to finding something in casually unreachable places. Gaining any benefits from combo of herbalist + shapeshifter is very GM-dependent. But I believe it is not from the realm of impossible. \$\endgroup\$ – Jaiden Snow Mar 23 '16 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Upvoted your comments - they display a proper perspective for a mentioned problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Jaiden Snow Mar 23 '16 at 18:40

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