The Tremere leadership was slaughtered at the battle of the Pelennial Fields, and the survivors found themselves disatisfied with the ways in which things had been previously done. The result was a complete revamping of the house structure, proposed and pushed forward by a formerly obscure magus, Hermes Trismegtus.
The result was the formation of the Chaosian Order of Magic, which tends to be called House Hermes by Outsiders. Each of the component houses appoints or elects a representative to the ruling council each year, which then elects one of its own members to serve as Primi ('First', effectively Chairman of the Council) of the Order. Half a dozen different mages have held this position over the years; Hermes himself now holds the post once more after decades in relative isolation spent on experiments.
"He's up to something."
There are two schools of thought with regard to Lord Hermes. One school holds that he is a mage of ancient, mysterious power with a hidden agenda and strange powers no one else comprehends. The other holds he is a grandstanding trickster with no special knowledge beyond how to play people like violins.
Whatever the truth, he is a clever, witty man with a knack for politics and for flashy displays of power. He seems to greatly enjoy knowing secrets and has a tendency to brag of his hidden knowledge.
House Hermes is noted for its magic and logrus use, especially the creation of magical artifacts, the building of shadows to order, and its storehouse of magical lore and secrets.
Hermesways sits about a day's travel from the Courts of Chaos proper, at the intersection of black roads to all the other Great Houses. It is a huge pentagonal building, with each face in a different color of stone: White Marble, Grey Granite, Green Jade, Blue Turquoise, and Red Sandstone. There is a door in each face. A thirteen sided wall surrounds the grounds, which are extensive gardens of various kinds; one gate in each wall leads to one of the thirteen roads leading away. The road to the Courts leads up to what is called 'the main gate'.
It sits on a mesa which rises up from a dusty plain, with the thirteen roads leading up the sides with steep switch-backs.
Most of the interior is known only to the initiates, although a few points of interest have been frequently seen by outsiders.
An unusual member of House Criamon, who uses her prophetic magics largely for combat purposes; she is generally thought to be the strongest member of the Order, and favors a hulking green combat form. She is rather cranky.
The leader of House Shaea, she is a scholar with a tendency to overplan everything. Sometimes this works well, but it can sometimes make her far too rigid.
Anton is a slender, sallow man with a darkly suspicious streak, but a talented mage and composer of music. He is part of House Fortunati, and is noted for focusing his magic through music. Anton is known to be an ambitious man and is jockeying for control of his house and ultimately to become Primi of the Order.
Ancient. Powerful. Mad. Porthos seems to have gone mad as a result of centuries as a WU, and now wobbles back and forth between being a cunning, wise, far-seeing politician and leader and being a raving nutjob who is having flashbacks to centuries ago.
When sane, Porthos is one of the leaders of the faction of the Order which believes strong ties with Arcadia and with the other Houses is the best possible course. When insane, Porthos is fighting the Reaver War all over again.
Porthos is a proud member of House Trismegtus, except when insane, in which case, he's in House Tremere.
A potent member of House Thig, he has not been seen in decades, ever since going off into shadow to test a new form of explosive. While he can be pointed to with Logrus, those who have sought him have never been seen alive again.
Hermes has no subordinate houses, per se; rather, the houses which are admitted into the Order become one of its branches and elect a member to the ruling council. The following houses make up the membership of House Hermes: