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Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults

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Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults is a Fifth Edition supplement detailing the four Mystery Cult Houses: House Bjornaer, House Criamon, House Merinita, and House Verditius.

Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults
Cover illustration for Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults
Product Information
Rules Edition: Fifth
Abbreviation: HoHMC
Product Type: Player's sourcebook
Author(s): Erik Dahl, Timothy Ferguson, Matt Ryan, and Mark Shirley
Publisher: Atlas Games
Product Number: AG0281 and AG0281SC
ISBN: 1-58978-086-8 and 1-58978-117-1
Release date: April 2006 and September 2010
Format: Hardcover and Softcover, 144 pages
Availability: Softcover still in print, PDF available

Subject and Contents[edit]

The book provides extensive details on all four Mystery Cult Houses. Each House has its own chapter, that describes the House's history and outlook as well as its magical practices and secrets. The domus magna of each House is described, as is the primus and his policies.

The book was published before The Mysteries Revised Edition, but functions best alongside it. TMRE presents further details on initiation rules, and provides complementary Mysteries occasionally alluded to as options in HoHMC.

In addition to its information on the four Houses, HoHMC provides the basic rules for Initiation into the Exoteric Mysteries, and for Potent Magic. The chapter on House Bjornaer further provides rules to represent mundane beasts, a system categorizing them according to their humour, and a discussion on shapeshifters.

Opinion and Reviews[edit]

What This Book Will Add to Your Saga[edit]

An extensive treatment of the House's inner Mysteries and cult structure and philosophy is necessary for a portrayal of a Mystery Cult House, and for playing a magus belonging to one. This book provides the House's canonical description, adding details on sub-divisions and schools of thought within the Houses that can be of great aid to the player and inner Mysteries and initiation paths for him to aspire to.

From a storyguide's perspective, the extended descriptions provide many social groups with diverse goals and exotic, non-Hermetic, means at their disposal, which are an excellent fodder for story ideas. The book also introduces concepts like the Great Beasts, Automata, and the Axis Magica, that can also serve to drive plots.

The non-Hermetic magic and strange philosophies of the Mystery Cult Houses can add greatly to the diversity of the saga. This book will help portray the Mystery Cult Houses as more different, varied, and non-Hermetic - not just Hermetic magi separated from the rest by a single Outer Mystery virtue.

This Book Might Fit Your Game If ...[edit]

If there is a player character from one of these Houses, or if the storyguide wants to dip into them and their strange magic for story ideas or simply for a more varied description of the Order, then you should definitely pick up this book.

Reviews and Commentary[edit]

Perhaps the most discussed issue in relation to this book was its unique take on House Criamon, which seems to elicit a hate-it-or-love-it response. It presents a specific interpretation of what the Enigma is, and has been criticized as overly restricting Criamon character concepts. On the other hand, it has also been praised for providing a unique and original philosophy and concepts that serve as tools for portraying truly alien-thinking Criamon magi.

The section on House Merinita included a treatment of Nature Lore that expand on the concepts of Forest Paths and Forest Lore presented in Guardians of the Forest. A noteworthy Inner Mystery is Becoming, a method of gaining immortality by transforming oneself into a Faerie being, that has been criticized for allowing PCs to gain a lot of power by remaining only partially fay.

House Verditius's description includes the concept of Verditius Hubris, a mechanic that was criticized for making all Verditius alike (at least in their pride and jealousy over their creations). The concept of vendetta is also explored, with Verditius fallen to a mundane family's vendetta. The Inner Mysteries presented include Automata, which has been criticized as overly complex and is similar in concept to the rules on Heron of Alexandria's legacy presented in Ancient Magic.

Related products[edit]

The following products are associated with this work.

Fifth Edition[edit]

Prior editions[edit]

  • Houses of Hermes was a single Third Edition book that described all the houses. It was also used with and referenced by Fourth Edition
  • Order of Hermes was the Second Edition book that introduced the houses

References[edit]