ok but Trespasser has basically confirmed that every non-dwarf in Thedas has magical potential, and the only difference between mages and non-mages in modern Thedas is where they sit on the spectrum (mages in modern Thedas = Really Powerful mages in ancient Thedas, non-mages in modern Thedas = Boring Normal Mages in ancient Thedas)
Which means that it is highly likely that in fact, any ordinary human/elf/Qunari (who is not Tranquil) can do something approximating low-level magic. Probably not enough to do anything useful with it, much less anything dangerous, but enough to, say... bring the Fade into the world for a second. To channel a tiny thread of mana through something
Enough to enchant without lyrium. Enough to unlock a magic lock that just requires the touch of mana or to channel a bit of mana through some invisible ink like the stuff we saw in Last Flight
Here’s the other thing: if you train all the kids in magic from as young as possible, then those of them with actual magical aptitude are much less likely to manifest it by, e.g., burning the house down, summoning a demon, raising an army of undead, etc, etc, etc, because when it happens they will know what to do
We know that southern human society and the Qunari do not do this, because it would hugely upset that whole ‘mages are dangerous’ narrative they’re feeding their people
But the Dalish, the Avvar, the mage classes of Tevinter? Yeah, I don’t believe for a second that they don’t train all their kids in magic before the magic manifests and regardless of magical potential
Which means that they know. They know that even the most ungifted person has a tiny bit of magical potential locked away deep inside, and they know that magical training can help them to access it, just a tiny bit, just for a second
‘Old elven trick’ is most likely Dalish code for ‘I, a hunter, actually just did magic but like hell I’m going to tell that to you shemlen’
(Turns out you can convince most ancient elven artefacts and some varterrals that you’re an ancient elf with careful application of
that rudimentary mana-channelling that you learned when you were six)
(Also turns out that if your Keeper, or a Keeper from years gone by for that matter, sets up the magic just right, the rest of the clan can access it. I bet the Dalish get a lot of mileage out of this for things like passing notes - any random hunter from the next clan over can read the note your Keeper left on that tree, but good luck finding a human who knows how to do it)
The Avvar probably say something about talking to the gods
But the real fun would be in Tevinter.
Altus kids just get trained. All of them. As if an Altus family could ever produce a non-mage child! The idea is laughable. The same is true of old-blood Laetan families, because mages beget mages, and if your child is expected to be a mage then why wouldn’t you give them pre-manifestation training? You don’t want your house to burn down
New-blood Laetans are Laetans born from the ranks of the Soporati, so are largely irrelevant here. Slaves... usually don’t get trained, because why would you give your slaves training they might not need?
But the Soporati, oh, the Soporati. One mage child could change everything for them, so they pay for early training, they watch like hawks in case this child is the one, they jostle for places with prestigious pre-manifestation tutors, they pay conmen who claim they can make a child more magical but truthfully can’t do more than teach the child do channel the little bit of mana they could have learned to channel anyway
A lot of the Soporati probably have the same kind of baseline magical training as Dalish hunters, and that makes them more useful as workers, because if a Dalish Keeper can set up a spell for the hunters to use and access with just a tiny bit of mana to get it going then you bet a magister can do the same
So the Soporati, in their fervour to make it into the ranks of the Laetans, make themselves more exploitable and more able to prop up the system that they’re trying to escape
A perfect, self-sustaining, oppressive shithole of a system.
Please, Bioware, please make this headcanon canon