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Houses of Hermes: Societates

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Houses of Hermes: Societates
Cover illustration for Houses of Hermes: Societates
Product Information
Rules Edition: Fifth
Abbreviation: HoHS
Product Type: Player's sourcebook
Author(s): Erik Dahl, Timothy Ferguson, Andrew Gronosky, John Post, Mark Shirley, and Nick Simmonds
Publisher: Atlas Games
Product Number: AG0285 and AG0285SC
ISBN: 1-58978-096-5 and 1-58978-119-8
Release date: April 2007 and September 2010
Format: Hardcover and Softcover, 144 pages
Availability: Softcover still in print, PDF available

Houses of Hermes: Societates is a Fifth Edition supplement detailing the four Societates Houses: House Flambeau, House Jerbiton, House Tytalus, and House Ex Miscellanea.

Subject and Contents[edit]

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

In addition to its information on the four Houses, HoHS provides several rule and setting extensions that may be of interest to all magi. Perhaps most prominently, rules for debate are given on p. 90-93, with suggestions on how to apply them to arbitrate Tribunal decisions. Rules for and discussion of Etiquette are given on p. 48-51. Rules on how to use agents are given on p. 140-144.

Rules for fighting invisibly are given on p. 32-33. An extensive discussion of Wizard War is given on p. 22-25. New combat spells are provided on p.35-37, and rules for firing projectiles using Rego are given on p. 35 and p. 38. Spell mastery special abilities related to combat and the Cult of Mercury are described on p. 34. The Fast-Trigger enchantment option is given on p. 33.

New Spell Guidelines and rules are provided. A new healing guidelines is given on p. 100. Guidelines for rego and creo Craft Magic are given on p. 60. Guidelines for illusion and mental magic are given on p. 61-70, offering new options and rules. A suggestion on how to treat Aura of Ennobled Presence and similar spells in combination with the Gift is given on p. 96. A new ReVi guideline is given on p. 129.

The concept of a Flourish, manipulating your Wizard's Sigil, is introduced on p. 60-61.

The concept of a Lacuna, which is related to auras, is introduced on p. 57.

Some books, available throughout the Order, are described. These include the works of Elaine of Flambeau stored in the Great Library of Durenmar (including works on Ignem, Penetration, Magic Theory, and Philosophiae) on p. 9, as well as the widely-available Analects of Tytalus (covering House Tytalus and Order of Hermes Lore, as well as Philosophiae) on p. 74. The legendary "Herbal of Crateuas" is also mentioned on p. 124, a work on Medicine, Apothecary, and Mythic Herbalism.

Rules for Mythic Companions and Favored Abilities are given at p. 106.

A brief discussion of ghosts and the restless dead is given on p. 117.

New Spell Mastery special abilities are offered, including two related to affecting others' magic on p. 129.

New Spells presented include spells relating to illusions and mental manipulation, which are given on p. 63-70. Spells relating to social interactions and manipulation are provided on p. 96-98. Some spirit-related spells are given on p. 99-100, and a few healing spells on p. 100. Two new spells related to hedge magi are given page 129.

A new coveted artifact is presented, the Mappa Mundi, on p. 47. Another is given on p. 111, sort-of.

Several new Virtues and Flaws are presented, suitable for any magus at character generation. These include beauty-related V&F (as well as the Muse virtue) on p. 56, Performance Magic on p. 58, the Persona virtue and Leprosy flaw on p. 94. A few V&F related to exotic traditions are given on p. 107.

In addition, HoHS presents several new supernatural abilities, with their corresponding virtues, as well as guidelines on how to construct new ones, on p. 103-106 (Summon Animals, Whistle Up the Wind, and Control Fertility). Other supernatural abilities are also presented in this chapter, but are probably more suited to the Ex Miscellanea traditions they are related to (these include Warding, Banishing, Mythic Herbalism, and Comprehend Magic).

Rules for mundane disguise, using the Guile ability, are given on p. 87.

Opinion and Reviews[edit]

What This Book Will Add to Your Saga[edit]

A major and obvious contribution of this book is to flesh out the respective Houses and, in so-doing, the Order. The chapter on House Flambeau is especially noteworthy for putting ideals and customs of chivalry as the leading social current of the House, and introduced Flambeau Tournaments to canonical description of the Order. It also introduced the Cult of Mercury, that can add great flavor to the Order's proceedings. The chapter on House Jerbiton offers a vision of fine taste and refined culture, and contributes many rules and ideas for discreet urban co-existence with the mundanes. The chapter on House Tytalus offers a well-developed House philosophy centered around the conflict between personal and social pressures. It also provides two Tytalus traditions that can come to bear on your saga - the Leper Magi provide healers, while the Titanoi provide links to the titan's myths and, possibly, Hermetic antagonists. The chapter on House Ex Miscellanea offers a diverse palette of traditions, as well as guidelines to generate more. The many traditions can be significant parts of the magical landscape of your saga - from the Pharmacopoiean healers, to the wards of the Columbae, from the Beast Masters living side by with wild animals to the Scinfolk and Rustic Magi that are so integrated into the rural culture.

In addition to this, however, HoHS also provides substantial rule expansions on the themes that these Houses deal with. The chapter on House Flambeau provides extensive discussions and new rules on combat, including rules on fighting under a Veil of Invisibility and for hurling objects. The chapter on House Jerbiton offers rules and discussion on Craft Magic, Etiquette, illusion and mind-control magic. The chapter on House Tytalus, and the appendix, provide great support for handling politics, with rules on handling agents, debates (in tribunal or otherwise), and more. The chapter on House Ex Miscellanea offers general advice on creating supernatural Abilities, and a lineage dealing with fostering hedge wizards into the Order.

Reviews and Commentary[edit]

Post-release discussions on the Berklist focused on flame-wars regarding the portrayal of the character of Flambeau the Founder, and in general dislike for the level of detail given in the Founders' biographies. The book was well-liked as a whole, however, with special notice being paid to the protrayal of Fleambeau magi as something more than the archetypal savages, and the rich treatment of Tytalian apprenticeship and outlook.

Some players, however, still consider House Tytalus to be "jerks", that molest their peers. Others disagree, noting that this is nowhere in the text. Extensive threads have been devoted to this issue on the official message board.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]