Order of Hermes
From Project: Redcap
The Order of Hermes (also Enigmatic Order of Hermes or, informally, the Order) is the fictional organization to which magi in Ars Magica belong. All wizards in the Order of Hermes know a special kind of defensive magic called Parma Magica and nearly all can use a powerful, flexible form of magic called Hermetic Magic. Most of them speak Latin as a common language, enabling magi from across Mythic Europe to share magical books and spells.
According to Fifth Edition, there are about 1200 magi in the Order (page 9, first paragraph). Most magi in the Order live in groups called covenants but some prefer a solitary existence. In addition, there are also many redcaps that are officially members but are not wizards and are probably not included in that count.
Most magi reside in covenants, each binding together a few members. Every magus of the Order also belongs to one of twelve Houses of Hermes . Some magi also hold other political positions (such as a quaesitor) and/or associate with other Hermetic societies, cults, cabals, or so on. Hermetic Society is a complex thing.
The Order has its own legal system. Hermetic Law is based on the Code of Hermes and the Peripheral Code. The Order is governed by regional councils of magi known as Tribunals. The Tribunals operate as courts of law, with the aid of Quaesitors. While many cases are ruled based on testimony and evidence some situations enforce rulings based on voting, which means the most popular and/or powerful magus is right.
The tribunals are mostly democratic, with each wizard having one vote, as described in the core rules. The Tribunal books published for 5th edition each cover different variations. In either case this creates a lot of political squabble, as covenants, Houses, societies, cults, and so on vie against each other.
The Order was founded in 767 A.D. by the twelve Founders under the leadership of Bonisagus and Trianoma. Its magic and traditions are loosely based on the ancient Roman Cult of Mercury. A brief depiction of the Order's history is given in ArM5 9-10. The Houses of Hermes series of supplements further provides details on each House's history.
There have been four major crises in the Order since its founding:
- The war against the Spider, and the subsequent forming and later integration of House Ex Miscellanea.
- The attempt by Tremere the Founder to usurp control of the entire Order, ending in the Sundering.
- The demonic Corruption of House Tytalus.
- The Schism War, a civil war within the Order which led to the destruction of one House.
- The War against the Spider
- The Spider was a powerful hedge magician who had constructed an alliance in the British Isles. Pralix led the effort to destroy him. Eventually she succeeded, with the help of many hedge magicians. She founded the Ordo Miscellanea immediately afterward, which was a direct rival to the Order of Hermes. This tension was resolved in 817 when the Ordo Miscellanea became House Ex Miscellanea. A complete history of the Spider War can be found in Thrice-Told Tales.
- The Sundering
- Tremere was the last of the Founders and his ultimate goal was world domination. His schemes had not yet come to fruition when, in 848 AD, magi opposing Tremere managed to shatter his power structure. The details of the Sundering, including the magi responsible, have been left mysterious in 5th edition canon.
- The Corruption of House Tytalus
- By 961 AD, the practice of bargaining with, summoning, and attempting to control demons had become widespread in House Tytalus. A member of the House informed on the Prima, and House Tytalus was purged. This is known as the Corruption of House Tytalus, but it is important to note that Tytalus magi have a very different perspective on these events, discussed in Houses of Hermes: Societates. To House Tytalus, the informer was the real criminal.
- The Schism War
- The Schism War was a civil war within the Order and the most serious crisis the Order has ever faced. House Diedne was cast out of the Order and Houses Tremere and Flambeau led the effort to destroy House Diedne. Many details of the Schism War have been left intentionally mysterious, including the degree to which House Diedne was actually guilty of the crimes of which it was accused. The war ended in the 11th century.
- ArM5, pages 9-10
- Houses of Hermes True Lineages contains more information about the Order's law and politics.
- Houses of Hermes, the Third Edition supplement.
- Order of Hermes, the Second Edition supplement.
- Timeline of Fifth Edition canon for a chronology of major events in the Order's history
Trademark Notice: Order of Hermes is a trademark of White Wolf, Inc. It is used here without permission and its use should not be construed as a challenge to the ownership of the trademark. Ars Magica uses the Order of Hermes trademark with permission.
The edit history of this page before August 6, 2010 is archived at Legacy:order_of_hermes.