Quaerentes in Extremis
House Bjornaer: A Germanic mystery cult descending from the sorceress Birna. They are able to turn into animals (‘heartbeasts’) due to their spiritual descent from potent, magical beasts whom they consider holy. They distrust and dislike other shapeshifters. They can learn secrets related to names, shapeshifting, the senses and improving their heartbeast forms. However, they can never have familiars.
House Bonisagus: Descend from the Founder of the Order of Hermes, Bonisagus, and his student Trianoma. They consider themselves the leaders of the Order, first among equals, and have the right to claim any apprentice in the Order if they require it. They are divided into two arms – a research arm, the magi Bonisagi, who attempt to learn more about the nature of Hermetic magic and what it can be made to do, and a political arm, the magi Trianomae, who attempt to keep all of the Houses equal and peaceful.
House Criamon: A Greek mystery cult descending from the wizard Criamon. They follow a vaguely Buddhist belief system based on the philosopher Empedocles. They believe time is a circular prison, and are attempting to help everyone escape the endless cycle of reincarnation and suffering. They tend to be pacifists, and are able to learn some very, very bizarre tricks related to their unique understanding of magic and The Enigma – that is, the secret of escaping the universe. Their beliefs seem insane to most other people, but cannot be empirically proven wrong easily.
House Ex Miscellanea: ‘Other.’ These guys are the wizards whose traditions are strange and foreign, or hedge wizards adopted into the Order, or people who can’t fit in any other House. They are usually looked down by other Hermetics, but often have tricks that other wizards can’t do, due to their hedge traditions. They are extremely poorly organized and are basically a bunch of loosely connected seperate groups under one banner.
House Flambeau: A group of wizards who follow the traditions of the Christian warrior-mage Flambeau. They are proud and often arrogant, specializing in combat magic, especially Ignem or Perdo magic. They love to test their combat skills and often take up quests or challenges. A small but growing group of them see themselves as the Order’s knights, fighting for glory, honor and justice. They are otherwise fairly poorly organized and highly independent.
House Guernicus: The descendants of the Roman earth-wizard Guernicus. They are the law of the Order, the quaesitores, investigating crimes and breaches of the Code of Hermes and prosecuting them. They are lawyers, judges and investigators. They also serve as diplomats and negotiators, presiding over contracts. Their responsibilities are great, and they are very proud of them. They know secrets of investigative magic that few others ever bother to learn. They are currently debating whether the Order’s founding laws are sancrosanct or changeable, and whether or not to expand their powers.
House Jerbiton: The descendants of the Greek Orthodox magus Ierbiton/Jerbiton. They believe in the power and holiness of true beauty (which is not to be confused with surface beauty, though they can be related). They tend to be more tied to the mundane world than most other wizards, and until recently tended to be very uninvolved in politics, focusing instead on their search for beauty. Recently, the younger generation of Jerbiton has begun becoming more active following the fall of Constantinople, as many saw themselves as part of the Eastern Empire and are enraged by its destruction. They know secrets of illusion and mental magic that few others learn, and many are artists. They also tend to gather in likeminded groups to pursue their goals or fascinations.
House Mercere: Mostly nonmagical descendants of the Roman wizard Mercere. They are the only House which non-magi can join, the Redcaps, who are the messengers of the Order. The magical members of the House are extremely rare, and tend to be literally lineal descendants of Mercere, as they accept only the children of Redcaps or other members of the House as apprentices. Some of them know strange secrets of control over their spells.
House Merinita: A very loosely organized mystery cult that descends from the nature sorceress Merinita and, more importantly, the faerie-loving wizard Quendalon. Their start as a nature cult has been almost entirely abandoned by most of the House, who now belong to loose groups and lineages that teach each other secrets of story and faerie magic. They love faeries, and worry over the fading of the fae.
House Tremere: A very strictly organized group of wizard-soldiers. Their founder, Tremere, once attempted to take over the Order. They have disavowed him, but still tend to be somewhat distrusted, as they are ruthless and willing to abuse loopholes to the greatest extent. They are all master duelists as well as disciplined and manipulative soldiers. However, they are extremely loyal to the Order – their goal is. generally, to have the Order rule the world, and they seek to convince other wizards of their aims. While ruthless and authoritarian, they do not have any desire to control the Order itself – they tried that once. It failed.
House Tytalus: A group of wizards who follow the philosophy of the leper-magus Tytalus. They seek out conflict of all kinds – combat, debate, plots and more – for the sake of growth and change. Their argumentative and manipulative nature can make them distrusted, especially as they were once involved in a scandal of diabolist wizards. While often disliked, they tend to be extremely good at politics and very good at determining how best to improve or destroy systems.
House Verditius: A mystery cult that descends from the Italian craft-magus Verditius. They are the best enchanters and craftsmen in the entire Order, bar none, but suffer from their founders weakness in formulaic spellcasting. Still, they learn secrets no others can manage in the ways of magic items and crafting. They tend to, like their founder, be very arrogant, as their hubris empowers their crafting ability