Idk if this has been asked before, but how do mages and templars differ in how they use lyrium? Why do templars get addicted to lyrium but that doesn't seem to be a thing for mages?
Ho boy, so…canonically speaking raw lyrium is toxic to mages, and makes most other people go insane (even dwarves after a time). In its pure form it’s really dangerous, so all the lyrium potions and things you see in game are actually refined and processed lyrium.
The simple answer is that there ISN’T actually a difference, except for perhaps amount of use. If we’re being technical, Templar abilities that come from lyrium are as much magic as mage abilities that come from lyrium, though Templars aren’t really mages casting spells without it.
In terms of the theory behind it, we know lyrium is the blood of titans, the blood of the earth, but that mages mostly work spells by reaching the Fade and such. Lyrium can be a means of reaching the Fade, and thus can help mages in enhancing spells or even sending them into the Fade in dreams as with the Harrowings, but isn’t required. For Templars it may be the ONLY way of reaching the Fade, the only way of enhancing any abilities they might use (like smite). In truth, a look at the difference between mage abilities and templar abilities shows very little difference.
So…at the risk of getting a backlash: Templars are using magic. They just need lyrium to do it.
Lyrium being the blood of the Titans means technically all Templar magic IS blood magic of a sort, but that’s a different topic altogether in truth.
Mages often do spells without lyrium, it isn’t required, it just helps. It’s not actually as readily available as the games mechanics make it appear - it’s got to be mined, processed, and because it makes mages stronger it’s absolutely on lockdown via the Chantry (who monopolizes as much of the trade as they can in Orzammar).
Templars, meanwhile, are bound by the lyrium because they take it in regular doses. They had philters of the stuff, and it’s part of their job to take it regularly. Anything in excess becomes addictive, but in truth I think there’s something more to it, that links to Titans themselves, to the nature of that connection with the Fade, and to the sheer AMOUNT that the Templars take. Also, since the Templar form of lyrium is ALSO refined, it’s possible that part of that process makes it more addictive to them.
SO IN SHORT:
-same stuff, no difference, both are magic. Mages use it to augment spells, Templars use it just to do them at all. Addiction seems more linked to quantity than anything else as Templars take it regularly.
As an interesting sidenote, it was originally meant to be part of the DAO game mechanics that the more lyrium potions you consumed the less effective they would become and that you WOULD wind up with addictive side effects, implying this would ALSO be the case for mages too. They cut it from the game itself because it was too hard to implement, but it was discussed, and Gaider spoke on it before.