As literally anyone who knows me in any capacity will have heard (ad nauseum) by now, I have spent a lot of time lately playing Dragon Age: Inquisition. Like, a lot of time. Throughout the game and as I devoured peripheral media afterward, I found that the universe in which Dragon Age takes place is delightfully meaty, full of complex themes, metaphors, and social commentary. Particularly interesting and expansive were Bioware’s concepts about magic — how it works, its limitations, and its effects on society. Varied public opinions on magic mean that magic-users are given drastically different treatment in different regions of Thedas. Not only is magic and the control thereof a major source of political tension, the various in-universe religions, especially the Chantry, have strong and vocal opinions on the matter that help to shape public sentiment, leading to constant disputes about mage rights.
Just as interesting as the social consequences of magic is the concept of the Fade: the physical source from which magic flows. Though it is observable, the Fade is very mercurial and very different from the material world, and is fairly poorly understood by the denizens of Thedas. For mages, who are born with innate abilities to channel magic, the Fade is the source of their power, but for everyone else, it is the source of dreams and (according to some) desires and temptations.