Posts Tagged 'mages'

Mages Are Buff!






All of my MCs across the DA universe are mages.  I
always play a mage.  If given the choice,
ALWAYS.  My Wardens, Hawkes, and
Inquisitors are all mages (much love, dwarves).
Even if I play different races I play as a fire-throwing, ice-dropping,
lightning-’sploding MAGE.  Who doesn’t love raining down arcane
destruction on their enemies?  At the
same time, I’m not a very strategic player.
By the final stages of all my games I’m more Leeroy Jenkins than stealth
assassin.  What can I say?  I like to DPS the doody out of a playthrough.

So it kind of bothers me whenever I see fans (or non-fans)
talk about how weak mages are.  Who doesn’t
get peeved when their babies are less capable or less formidable than other
characters?  Sure, you can have
characters like this


or this


who are pictured as rather weak and physically incapable
(and let’s save all of the Chantry and social implications for a later date,
shall we?) with very good reason for that, but at the same time you have




and of course…!


who are incredibly robust!
I mean, look at Garrett’s arms :O.
They need their own national boundaries.

There is a very good reason for the various states of
fitness seen in these characters, and that is this: physiologically speaking,
error drives all improvements in the body.
This is true in cognitive improvements (brain function), strength
(muscle improvement), and the application of skilled tasks (brain and muscles

Active mages are some of the physically fittest people in
Thedas.  Let’s call physical fitness a
combination of muscular strength, aerobic capacity, muscular endurance, body
composition, flexibility, and neuromotor fitness1).  Who is always having to run away from enemies
in a battle and change their position (until you’re playing tank anyhow)?  Who lifts a wooden or metal staff over and
over and over (and rotates it and swings it and changes its

position2,)? You might say, but a staff weighs a LOT less
than a sword!  Well, @queenmelisende (a
graduate student of medieval studies) has shared with me that, “…probably around the same as a two handed sword would be my guess”*.

So, let me break down some of the physiology here for
fitness, and really explain why mages are not inherently weaker or less
physically capable than their rogue and warrior counterparts.  If anything, the combination of physical
capability and magic gives them incredible potential.

Just as a review, let’s say the body is made up of only a
few things; muscles, bones, nerves, the heart, lungs, and brain.  There are a few other things, yes, but these
are the big ones.  Muscles are fancy
strings that are attached to your puppet workings (aka bones).  Nerves run down from the brain through a
super duper tunnel and then branch out to all of the muscles to tell them to do
stuff.  The heart (and its vascularization)
gives them energy to do stuff, and trust me, muscle movement takes up more
energy than anything else. The lungs make sure the heart and its stuff is
energized properly.

Bones and muscles and hearts and lungs and the brain respond
to stress, AKA error.  Whenever you put
extra stress on bones (lifting a ten-pound staff), they go through the process
of absorbing more calcium from the blood stream to become denser and capable of
handling the extra stress**.  If your
biceps brachii and deltoids attempt to lift a weight they are not used to
carrying, they send signals to the brain that something is not quite right.  Neural adaptations begin to form at the same
time that the muscles produce more myosin and create more troponin-C contact
sites (the binding of myosin heads and troponin-C sites is what allows for
muscle contraction)***. When you are running around the countryside (and let’s
be real, Bioware didn’t give us a horse until Inquisition!) your lungs and
heart work in concert to make sure that your legs are getting enough oxygenated
blood to supply ATP via the Citric Acid Cycle so that all of those little
myosin heads and troponin C sites can do their job.  Anyone who has tried to do aerobics over a
period of time knows how hard it is to get started if you haven’t done anything
for a while.  Your lungs buuuuuurrn,
probably moreso than your muscles. It gets easier if you continue at the same
level for a while and then it gradually becomes harder as you increase your
challenge level.  You increase
stress.  You increase the opportunity for
error signal to your brain and for the body to “correct” the error.  Over time your brain gets smarter, your lungs
and heart become more efficient, plus they cheat by growing more
capillaries.  Muscles transition their
fibers to types that work more efficiently (IIx to IIa), and your bones become
denser (this is all, of course, if you do not have pathology to contend with
that interrupts the typical process).


At this point I should also mention that while muscles and
brains get smarter, they adapt according to specificity.  Skill in throwing clay pots does not convert
to skill in sewing, even though they both require a level of dexterity with
one’s hands.  Running 5Ks does not
convert to skill in bicycling, even though they are both great aerobic
activities.  You practice for the skill
in which you want to be successful.

Now, it’s really cool to see mage Wardens go on their
journey to physical fitness.  For
Aeducans and Broscas and Couslands and Mahariels and Tabrises, they start out
pretty fit and skilled.  Amells and
Suranas… maybe not so much?  How much
physical exercise are you encouraged to have when you’re locked in tower for
the majority of your life?  But then these
mage Wardens go to Ostagar and it’s a very in-your-face life or death scenario.  There is no recourse BUT to become fit.  Still, who doesn’t headcanon their Surana or
Amell being amazingly badass by the end of their story?

On the other end of this spectrum you have Farmer [mage]
Hawke and all of the mage Inquisitors, who have literally been fending for
their lives for years, either in Lothering on the run from Templars, or in the
years leading up to the events of Inquisition.

Rogues are fast.
Warriors are strong.  I’m not
cracking on either of those classes, but mages?
Mages, IMO, are fast AND strong.
They spend their time either running from enemies (uh, hello mage!Hawke
and the Arishok) or swinging a very heavy staff non-stop during the fights.  They are getting the best of both worlds in
terms of cardiovascular improvement and resistance training.

Not only are their legs getting a workout (running and
climbing and jumping and maintaining standing balance,) but they are using SO
many arm and back and chest muscles (biceps brachii, triceps, coracobrachialis,
pectoralis major and minor, latissimus dorsi, all four of the rotator cuff
muscles, rhomboids and deltoids and more).
Even the swinging of their staffs usually involves footwork comparable
to that of a warrior.

Which brings me to the last distinction.  If I have been mostly comparing the efforts
of warriors and mages, let me finish by comparing their fighting types.  Depending on the battle, how often are
warriors locked in a combat situation where they are having to overcome a force
greater than the staff they are hold?
How strong is their enemy?  They
aren’t chopping a tree down, but swinging a sword until their opponent is
defeated.  A fight may last 5 minutes max7?  Probably less.  Then they move onto their next target.  During that time muscles are able to relax
and re-uptake ATP.  My argument is that
the fighting style of mages, when mages are fighting and not running, is more
like a marathon.  Whereas warriors fighting
style might be likened closer sprinting.

Is one stronger than the other?  Hmmmm, okay maybe, but only in the way that Navel
oranges are more tart than Gala apples.  You
can’t compare them entirely.  You just
can’t say mages are weak weak weak.

Aside from game mechanics and limitations with the character
creator, in terms of body type, warriors might look more boxing ring fighters,
throwing hard punches and having fewer moments of aerobic activity, while mages
look more like gymnast-twirlers.  They are
not trained for fighting hand to hand, but they could probably hold their own based
on strength, and are certainly not unfit.

So, yeah, warriors are still the undisputed heavy
hitters.  Dorian is not displacing
Cassandra any time in that regard, but is anyone going to say that Mage
Garrett/Marian Hawke would be incapable of defending themselves in a fist
fight?  Let’s just ask Carver about that.

Have some lazy citations and addendum:

  1. Garber, et al. “Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise”. 2011. American College of Sports Medicine. 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318213fefb
  2. PlaystationLifestyle. “Dragon Age: Inquisition – Mage Combat Gameplay”. Accessed June 29, 2016.
  3.  ignore this
  4. * This is not easy information to find, but she
    has done so much medieval research that I trust her expert opinion on the
    matter.  @queenmelisende and @gerundsandcoffee. May 01, 2016.
  5. **FYI, ladies, your bodies max out on the amount
    of calcium storage they will do by the time you are 30.  What does this mean?  When you’re older and you’re actually
    YOU’RE YOUNG.  Ask me if you want a citation on this.  Like I said, lazy me, but it’s legit!
  6.  ***The first 6-8 weeks of resistance training
    are neural adaptations and not muscle hypertrophy.  Basically, your brain is learning (or
    re-learning) how to do a skill.  Again, ask me for citation if you’re interested.  I will find it for you.
  7. How to Fight Write.  Accessed June 29, 2016.  Originally posted June 22, 2016. 
  8. All pictures taken from Dragon Age Wiki.  Accessed June 26, 2016.

Special thanks to @queenmelisende for her input and @onewngdseraph for reading over this for me.  Any mistakes are mine.

Just a couple of addendums!

1. A sword would weigh more than a staff. A sword weighs around 2-4 pounds.  A staff usually weighs about 1 pound. Source; I’m a martial artist of 15+ years experience who’s trained with staffs and Japanese swordsmanship extensively, and I am also a HEMA and SCA fighter who’s used many different types of European sword. (Single hand, hand-and-a-half, and full on two handed broadswords)

2. That doesn’t matter much when you’re swinging it around for hours at a time. One pound will still feel like a hundred after a couple hours of staff work. 

3. You get sick guns. I can bench press 20 pounds more than I weigh and staff and sword work is 100% of my upper body work. I haven’t done a pushup in forever. My shoulders are cut as hell.  

4. You feel it in your abs and back too the next day. 

5. So yeah mages who swing a staff a lot would be in pretty good shape. 

Addendum to your addendum #1:

DA staffs usually have REALLY FUCKING heavy accessories on the end like Malcolm’s Honor.  I mean…. a foot tall metal/gold plated statue of Andraste on one end with a blade on the other would make it a LOT heavier than “normal” staves, one would think.

Granted some are heavier than other, but Hawke’s staff (and Orsino’s dragon headed thing) is a monster.

True. The ornamentation would probably take a staff more into the polearm weight class of 3-6 pounds, though you don’t usually acrobatically twirl a polearm all around the way you can a lighter staff and the way you see the mages doing in lots of games. The blades fuck the balance ALL up. Watch some techniques done either with European polearms or with Eastern polearms and you’ll note that the techniques are far different from staff techniques. 

Really when it boils down to it DA mage staffs are the staff equivalent of one of these. I.E. something that looks fantastic and cool onscreen but wouldn’t be super-practical for actual use. 

(The sword, not the ah-nold)

But yeah the point stands you would have to be fit as hell to swing those things around all day. 

A thing around the fandom I have seen surprisingly often:


“Okay, but would you be fine with a Circle where they don’t have Tranquility or mandatory Harrowings, don’t have the Templars in absolute authority and the mages can leave at will once they’ve learned to control their powers?”

… you… you mean a school?

I… I don’t think anyone is arguing against there being a school for mages, guys.

If I recall correctly (and…I hope I do because this is the assumption I’m going with in the fic I’m writing now, ha), this is essentially the situation in Tevinter.

Quote from the wiki:

In contrast, attendance at a Circle in Tevinter is not mandatory, but a privilege.[2]Tevinter Circles of Magi are prestigious academies, not mage prisons. 

(the citation is to the World Of Thedas, vol. 1)

Of course Tevinter’s system has all sorts of other problems with regard to mages, but anyway, they do at least seem to treat the Circles more as a school than a prison.


i just want to point out something chewableninja and I were discussing today:

Alexius does not become an abomination, and the implications of this are fascinating.

At the end of In Hushed Whispers, he is the very definition of desperate – what was left of his son is gone, his plan has failed, and there is no way out for him – and yet, he does not become an abomination. He fights and rages and cries and screams, summoning demons on occasion, but never bending to their influence.

This leads me to two thoughts:

First, becoming an abomination isn’t actually inevitable, like the chantry teaches in cases of mages beyond desperation. Sure, it happens, but it’s entirely possible for a mage to lose everything and still hold their own against demons, as proven in the case of Alexius, which makes the whole “the circle is necessary bc mages are inherently more dangerous than non-mages” argument less valid.

Is this to say Alexius was stronger willed than, say Orsino? Perhaps, though I think it’s unlikely, given what Orsino had to put up with on a daily basis. 

Yet Orsino becomes an abomination and Alexius does not.

This leads me to the second thought:

I wonder if becoming an abomination is as socially taboo to Tevinter mages as blood magic is to those in the rest of southern Thedas?

Think – the more skilled a mage is, the more highly they are valued in Tevinter. And while technique and raw power would probably be considered the mark of a skilled mage, I think an indomitable will would be absolutely key when it comes to status for Tevinter mages. The social hierarchy of Tevinter is rooted in power.

Surely succumbing to another’s will is a mark of weakness. Particularly in the case where blood magic is acceptable – demons are viewed as lesser, as tools. I have no doubt that a mage of substantial Tevinter rank with skill and power who couldn’t control their tools, their slaves, would be viewed as lesser than their those who dominated them.

Which leads me to wonder even more strongly than I did before if the reason abominations are so prevalant in, say, Kirkwall, is because the Chantry insists mages submit to them but also teaches the same mages that they will inevitably submit to demonic influence if they do not submit to them. Mages desperate for an escape from the Chantry are then brainwashed into thinking that possession is a preferable alternative.

In short, mages desperate beyond the point of all hope are not as dangerous as the chantry makes them out to be, the circles should be mage-run and removed from chantry influence, and young mages should not be taught that they are destined to become monsters.



Situation: Solas tears down the Veil, elves across Thedas slowly gain their magic and immortality. Guess who would not like that development.

also this in an excuse to draw a long-haired fenris helping refugees or escaped slaves


Please tell me someone is writing an epic “Fenris gets his elf magic” fic where mage!Hawke has to help him learn to handle his powers. pleeeeeeez.

Mage Fenris?


An excerpt from a longer meta I’m writing, but I thought people might be interested in this specific part (separate from the rest).

According to David Gaider, lyrium is an integral part of making a mage Tranquil, with ‘the lyrium being what severs the link to the Fade’. The lyrium mark on Tranquil mages is often referred to as a brand, as are Fenris’ tattoos. I think it possible that Fenris is naturally a mage. His sister, Varania, is a mage, establishing magic in his bloodline. He was fairly young when he competed for the lyrium markings (according to Varania), so it is possible his magic had not manifested yet. Since a connection to the Fade may not yet have been properly established, the results of the lyrium brands could have had a different result than Tranquility, including establishing a different sort of Fade connection. 

This is entirely conjecture, but I find it interesting to think about, especially considering the similar use of the term lyrium brand and a canon instance of a magical close relative. Certainly something to think about, anyway.



Replayin DA2 again and got to the cutscene with Fenris’ first visit to the Gallows again. (Cut for Fenris critical stuff.)

Keep reading

I was gonna reblog this with a tag essay wrt my interpretation of fenris & anders’s dynamic but by like the 25th tag I realised it just wasn’t gonna work so I’m adding my comments below:

Keep reading

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Next up: The Spring Blogmoot of 2011 shall return to Nimrodel with Tuiliel (Whart, aka user-1027520) hosting! Linett is looking forward to another local moot!



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