The Rise of Ferelden
The Templar Order
The Templar Order is a military order of the Chantry that, amongst their duties, hunts apostates and maleficars and watches over the mages from the Circle of Magi. While they are officially deemed a force of defenders by the Chantry, established to protect the communities of the faithful from magical threats, they are in fact an army unto themselves; well-equipped, highly disciplined and devoted to the destruction of non-believers in the name of the Maker. One of their most important tasks occurs during a mage’s Harrowing. During this, a templar watches over the body of the mage, ready to kill him or her if demonic possession occurs. To help them control mages, templars have the ability to dispel magic and to inhibit spellcasting. A group of templars is led by a Knight-Commander and each Circle and the majority of chantries in Thedas are assigned one. Templars are also responsible for tracking fugitive mages, which they are able to accomplish when a phylactery has been taken from their quarry.
As they see it, they protect the innocents of the outside world from magic… but they also protect mages from the outside world, a world that fears them for very good reasons. It is a templar’s place to watch their charges for signs of weakness or corruption, and should they find it to act without hesitation for the good of all. That this occasionally leads to charges of tyranny and abuse is, according to the Chantry, a price that must be paid for the security the templars offer. Some are saying, however, that this needs to change. They remind the world that mages are not controlled by templars everywhere in Thedas: not among the Rivaini witches, the Dalish keepers or the Tevinter magisters… and those societies are, arguably, no worse off. The Templar Order, however, is nothing if not certain of its role.
The Circle of Magi
The Circle of Magi is the dominant organization for the training of mages within Ferelden and other 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 and forces them to undergo the Harrowing.
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
Dead Mage Gang
The Dead Mage Gang was a small organization of mages led by Askell Weaver. Their main goal was simply to wage war against the Templar and to hopefully decrease their morale through precise, coordinated attacks on their camps. In nearly 3 months after the Dead Mage Gang was forged, it had claimed the lives of over 140 Templar, destroyed trading routes and caused a general decrease in moral, although the Templar army was vast, this little gang was doing what it set out to do, slowly but surely. Unfortuneatly, in about 1 more month the gang was ambushed and forced to surrender. The 14 mages were sentanced to be executed brutally by decapitation, including Askell their leader. Fortuneatly Askell made a daring escape, managing to save 1 other mage in the process. Though the Templar regret not being able to kill Askell, the Dead Mage Gang was defeated, never to rise up again.
The Crows of Antiva are an elite organization of thieves and assassins which are renowned throughout Thedas. Through their deadly reputation and exotic poisons, the Crows practically rule their homeland.
The Antivan Crows are a driving political force in Antiva, often hired to assassinate Antivan nobility and even royalty. The Crows usually employ elves because humans often find them attractive, giving them an advantage over their target. They train their recruits from a young age, and have no problem killing them if they make a mistake. It seems to be an effective method, though they would have everyone believe it takes some special skill to do what they do.