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What's a House?

* A philosophical tradition of magic within the Order of Hermes
* Descended from one of the eighth-century Founders
* They are lineages, mystery cults or societies.
* Most (but not all) descend from Greek or Roman magical traditions

A House in Ars Magica is a magical tradition or philosophy descended from one of the original dozen or so magi who agreed to found the Order of Hermes in the eighth century. Some are lineages (so you can only be one if you are trained by one); some are mystery cults with levels of initiation (so you could, in theory, join one from another House); and some are more analogous to guilds or societies. Some demand complex and demanding tests as the price of admittance; others do not even require a candidate to be able to use magic.

A House is led by a Primus/Prima/Primum who is decided by different means in each House, and has a covenant as a Domus Magna - residence of the Primus, usually (but not always) the original residence of the House founder.

All to a greater or lesser degree use Hermetic Magic as the base of their magic, the latinised style of magic of the Order; their differences are usually in philosophy or inclination.

The Houses who traced their magical and philosophical lineages back to non-Roman traditions of magic have all, in one way or another fallen away or foundered by now.

The Current Houses In One Sentence

  • House Bonisagus: Academic and theoretical magicians, thinkers, geniuses but often a bit unworldly - bound by law to share their discoveries with others.
  • House Criamon: Philosophers and mystics, a bit odd, obsessed with "the enigma" of magic, ghosts, other lives and occult tattoos, dreams and visions.
  • House Jerbiton: Magicians as nobility and artists - about one in ten is not actually a magus but a foremost artist of the age; heavily involved with the Church and religion.
  • House Mercere: Travellers, messengers and spies, less than half of them actually cast spells though all are "a bit magical"; deeply embedded in new culture.
  • House Verditius: Magesmiths, crafters and makers of physical miracles; they blur the line between magic and technology and embrace the new.

The Tattered Houses In One Sentence

Tattered Houses have falling numbers, may be missing their leadership or infrastructure, and are seen as only one generation away from disappearing.

  • House Tytalus: You only ever learn things by fighting - with them or against them; the few that remain are very old, and no longer train apprentices (or as they see them, rivals). The Domus Magna fell two years ago during trhe English invasion of France, and the Primus is missing.
  • House Flambeau: Fire and destruction; now in decline because of the unsubtle nature of their magic and the severe losses in religious conflicts. Their Prima fell at Crecy to a black powder explosion, and very few have answered the call to elect a new leader.
  • House Bjornaer: Descended from a Germanic shapeshifter of pagan tradition, able to take on animal forms. The majority of the Bjornaer including their leadership were the subject of a Crusade in the early 1300s and have come under sustained attack by pagan sorcerers from Scandinavia; their Domus Magna fell in 1319 and very few now remain.

The Lost Houses In One Sentence

  • House Guernicus: Once the judges and administrators of the Order, their House buckled amid heavy casualties and was largely destroyed after an attack by the Pope thirty years ago and their function as judges (Quaesitori) is now spread between the other Houses. The few survivors fell with the majority of the Bjornaer a few years later.
  • House Merinita: Nature and faerie magicians, their House disappeared en masse at a House gathering at the end of the thirteenth century - rumours persist of rare hold-outs but none are known for sure. They are believed to have retreated into Arcadia.
  • House ex Miscellanea: a catch-all House for magicians from non-Roman traditions always very powerful in the British Isles, they gradually withdrew from Europe during the 1200s and now hold Britain and Ireland for themselves, eschewing all contact with the Order of Hermes. Their status, and disposition toward the Order, is unknown.
  • The House Forgotten: Descended from British Druids, cause of a civil war in the tenth century. No longer known for sure to be extant even in Britain.
  • The House Unnamed: Once the Order's premier war house, they fell to vampirism in the late twelfth century and were wiped out or driven underground in the thirteenth century. Some former magi of this house may live on in the shadows as infernal creatures but they have lost access to their magic.

The Basics

Houses - Tribunals - The Code - Titles and Positions - Magi and Magic - Quick Reference

Introduction - The Order in 1346 - A Who's Who of Attendees - Rules and Techniques