The lore for templars and lyrium in Thedas:Timelines will diverge from Dragon Age canon as stated in the wiki, which specifies that lyrium is required for templars to be able to utilize their skills. This will not be the case on T:T, but there will be tradeoffs that should be demonstrated in roleplay. The following lore is specific to Thedas:Timelines, though certain elements correspond with information in the DA Wiki.
Templar abilities are somewhat related to magical abilities in that both involve the Fade: mages touch it to draw their powers, while templar powers largely focus upon cutting mages and other Fade-based entities off from the Fade. As with mages, the aptitude for such powers varies largely between individuals, but in templars trained in the Chantry, any such deficiencies are largely compensated for by the use of lyrium, which can boost the abilities of even the weakest initiates … at a price.
Templars Trained In The Chantry Edit
Lyrium use is required of templars attached to the Chantry, beginning after they have taken their vows. Each templar is given a ration, from which a daily dose is prepared using philter kit that each possesses. Daily ingestion is required to maintain abilities at peak potency, though some individuals do better than others when doses are missed.
Templar Skills Learned Outside The Chantry Edit
Templar skills may be learned by those outside the order, but it requires someone who knows the skills to serve as a teacher, which generally means a templar who has left the Order (these individuals are easier to find in the years during and following the Inquisition timeline).
Lyrium is not required, but learning & using the abilities is more difficult without it, and should be reflected to some degree in roleplay. Individuals with mages in their family tend to show greater aptitude and ease; others cannot function at all without the use of lyrium.
NOTE: Lyrium trade is officially controlled by the Chantry. While groups such as the Mages’ Collective & Fereldan Grey Wardens have their own secret supply lines, in general, it will be very difficult for an individual outside the Chantry to obtain lyrium. During the Inquisition & post-Trespasser period, there will be a greater number of black market sources, but connecting with them will still be tricky.
In those with the least natural aptitude, ‘forcing’ the abilities has a range of adverse physiologic effects: migraine headaches are the most common, with moderate headaches arriving a few hours after light use and more severe migraines coming sooner with more extensive utilization. In the most severe cases, associated with extreme overexertion, the individual’s heart rate and blood pressure elevate markedly, leading to blinding headache, nosebleed & unconsciousness. Magical healing and potions can alleviate but not completely banish these symptoms. Ingestion of lyrium will likewise reverse the less severe effects but only moderate the most serious symptoms. Several hours to several days of rest are required for recovery, and any use of templar skills during that period is likely to trigger a relapse.
Individuals with greater natural aptitude (such as Alistair) may not experience any ill effects, but their skills will never be as strong or come as easily as they would if lyrum was in use, and this should be reflected in roleplay.
Lyrium Effects Edit
Lyrium allows a templar to sense the Fade and cut off access to it by those that draw upon it for power: mages, abominations and demons. And, while the Chantry officially denies it, it seems likely that at least some of the abilities that templars employ draw upon the connection to the Fade that lyrium enhances.
Apart from the connection to the Fade, and a resistance to magic, consumption of lyrium gives the one taking it a feeling of being stronger, bolder, more powerful. This is more pronounced in the first few months of use, & lessens over time, requiring higher and higher doses to get the same rush. The temptation to increase the dose is best resisted, however.
The memory loss associated with lyrium use generally begins to make itself known within the first decade of a templar’s service; those who use higher doses experience it sooner, sometimes within three to five years. The advance is similarly dose-dependent, and those who consume the minimum possible amount can stave off the worst effects for decades, but it will continue to worsen so long as lyrium is being consumed, and the occasional moment of minor forgetfulness worsens to the point that they no longer recognize friends and loved ones, or what they set out to do five minutes earlier. Such lapses tend to end up getting templars in the service of the Chantry killed in the line of duty before they become totally debilitated. Those that survive to that wretched state are retired, kept away from public view and allowed to continue their daily ration of lyrium, because even the continued erosion of the mind is not considered so cruel as forcing them through lyrium withdrawal.
Lyrium Withdrawal Edit
Few templars will voluntarily cease lyrium use, but some are forced into it by circumstance, such as running out while away from the Chantry on a mission. In other cases, lyrium is denied to a templar as punishment for wrongdoing, and those convicted of serious offenses are kicked out of the order and permanently cut off from their lyrium supply.
As with any addictive substance, cessation of lyrium use has profound effects. The longer the use and the higher the dose, the worse the symptoms of withdrawal. Missing the daily dose generally results in nothing more than a low-grade headache and a feeling of edginess that grows slowly worse. By the time a week has passed, the headache has become severe, the edginess deepened into irritability and joined by fatigue, chills, forgetfulness and a thirst that no amount of liquid can quench.
Within two weeks, symptoms deepen into paranoia, obsession and dementia, followed by delusions and hallucinations. Magical healing can greatly alleviate the agony of withdrawal, but finding a mage willing to aid a templar in this manner is uncommon; without any aid, most templars will either go insane or commit suicide to escape the visions. Others take refuge in alcohol, trading one addiction for another.
After several weeks, the worst of the symptoms will abate, but it will be 1-2 months to anything close to a full recovery. The templar will not be able to use their abilities for several weeks after that, and will essentially have to re-train to learn their use without the aid of lyrium, dealing with the same potential for side effects as those trained to use templar abilities outside the Chantry.
The hunger for lyrium will never completely go away, though some will feel it more keenly than others. Giving in to the craving risks a total relapse into the throes of addiction, and few survive the rigors of a second withdrawal.
The Fereldan Grey Wardens Edit
In the months following the Breach, the Ferelden order of Grey Wardens opened their ranks to mages and templars alike who wanted no part of the ongoing conflict, requiring only that any lingering hostilities be set aside. The secret trade arrangement between the Fereldan order and Orzammar provided more than enough lyrium to supply all new recruits, but any templar wishing to cease using it was allowed to do so, and given support in the form of magical healing from the order’s mages in doing so.