Hermetic Naming Conventions

Naming conventions.

Hey chaps, silly question I know, but I've noticed people using different naming conventions for Magi. I've been adopting the "John of House" format. I have seen the "John ex House" format (which I've rationalised from the latin for "from" or "of". But I've also seen others such as John Scholae Bonisagus or John Tremeri (not sure I've got those entirely correct).

My question is (1) what is the correct form for each house and (2) where does this come from. I cannot seem to find anything if the 5th Ed books. Not sure if its a customised convention, from earlier editions or I've just missed it.

Thanks in advance.


It is based on a net article on the naming convention of magi, written by Mark Shirley: durenmar.de/articles/naming.html

This is awesome. Thank you.

I prefer the old school format, "Roberto of Flambeau".
Other ways sound silly in my mind and I wince when my players do it, but I put up with it.
"Roberto ex Flambeau" sounds like he just quit, and "Roberto Flambonis" just sounds stupid.

the (Name) ex (House) is a convention from earlier editions.

I see it nowhere in 3rd or 4th edition

I thought I remembered 4th edition (perhaps in WGRE, but I'm not sure where) specifying that "ex" was only used for magi ex Miscellanea because it meant "out of." Perhaps I remember incorrectly, though.

5th edition does list naming conventions for Bjornaer in HoH:MC.


You do remember correctly. 4th Ed. also mentioned that "ex Miscellanea" was a joke on behalf of the hedge mages not speaking latin...

The main problem with "ex miscellanea" is that one is supposed to use "ex" before a vowel, but "e" before a consonant (US folks will recognize "E pluribus unum", not "Ex pluribus unum"). The secondary problem is that miscellanea is an adjective, not a noun, meaning basically "mixed" . One may perhaps wave this latter issue away assuming that some (feminine) noun such as house or group or order is left implicit (so "e miscellanea" would basically mean "from the mixed one"). Keep in mind, however, that "ex" is "from" as in "out of", so it's not very good for something you currently belong to. So perhaps Pralix called her "order" something like "gens miscellanea" (the mixed ... tribe/people/clan for lack of a better term) and so after she was brought back into the order, the magi of the house are known as the magi that came "from the mix" or more precisely the magi that came "from the mixed [order/tribe/people/clan]".

But in that sense "ex" (or "e" - I don't know Latin) would be very appropriate, would it not? The name is supposed to mean something like the house was formed out of the many various groups that preceded it. So you are now a member of the group that was formed out of disparate little groups, no longer just a member of one of those groups.


Classical Latin is a little more complex, indeed. 'Ex' becomes 'e' only before certain consonants, namely the 'mediae' b,d,g and 'liquidae' l, r, m, n - but never before v, h or i as a consonant, the 'spirantes' s, f and the 'tenues' c, p, t. So it is correctly ex senatus consultu, ex hoc loco, ex vinculis, ex pedibus, but e miscellanea.
Yes, this is more complicated than necessary for a game, and far too complicated for the average medieval magus as well - who might just have settled for 'ex miscellanea' out of understandable ignorance.


The average medieval magus seems to have a Latin Ability Score of 4-5 --- so probably woulnd't make basic Latin errors. The average 21st century ArM author, however...

I typically assume for my games that there is a version of Latin known as Hermetic Latin that is different from classical Latin or Church Latin. They are mutually understandable, but Hermetic Latin has changed a great deal since the Founding, with many differences like pronouncing Tremere "Tre-MARE" or the Y in Tytalus as "AYE", or saying Ex Miscellanea instead of E Miscellanea, or any other incorrect artifacts that might turn up in the source material. :slight_smile:

Sort of like British vs. American English, or maybe French French vs. Canadian French. Yes, it's technically the same language, but every now again you find yourself having to stop and go, "What?" :slight_smile:

I think this is a good approach.

Have a look at the changes in writing for 'e(x) pluribus unum' to bring things into proper proportion:
Horace [Epistulae 2,2,212] writes 'quid te exempta iuvat spinis e pluribus una?' - and as a poet has all freedom here to stress or soften syllables.
Cicero [Laelius 25,92.] has it by the book '... nam cum amicitiae vis sit in eo ut unus quasi animus fiat ex pluribus ...'
Augustine [Confessiones 4,8,13] sticks to the grammar, too '.. his atque huius modi signis a corde amantium et redamantium procedentibus per os, per linguam, per oculos et mille motus gratissimos quasi fomitibus conflare animos et ex pluribus unum facere.' (These three quotes taken from bistum-wuerzburg.de/bwo/dcms ... -unum.html )
The Motto of the London Gentleman's Journal end of 17th century, and later Samuel Johnson's Gentleman's Magazine, is already 'Prodesse & Delectare - E Pluribus Unum'.
And from there straight to the Great Seal of the USA.
But the Vatican sticks to Classical grammar still: kath.net/detail.php?id=19588 .


Since I wrote that Durenmar article many years ago, I've revisited my Latin for the House-style names. I believe the following to be correct (certainly, more correct). Parenthetical notes are to justify my translation:

Falke Bjornaer (not declined)
Murien e Bonisago (2nd declension)
Muscaria ex Criamone (3rd decension, Criamon, Criamonis)
Ebroin magus Ex Miscellanea (*)
Garus ex Flambone (3rd declension, Flambeau, Flambonis)
Bilera e Guernicu (4th declension, Guernicus was Greek, so I've used the declension typical for Greek nouns)
Andru ex Jerbitone (3rd declension, Jerbiton, Jerbitonis)
Insatella ex Merceri (3rd declension nt. i-stem, Mercere, Merceris)
Handri ex Merinita (1st declension)
Poena ex Tremeri (3rd declension nt. i-stem, Tremere, Tremeris)
Buliste ex Tytalo (2nd declension)
Stouritus e Verditio (2nd declension)

*miscellanea is a neuter plural of the 2nd declension, so the correct ablative form is "ex miscellaneis". The form "Ex Miscellanea"
is therefore poor Latin. Perhaps this is part of Pralix's joke -- Ex Misc is so much a hodge-podge that they can't even speak Latin correctly!
Alternatively, perhaps they get the Latin right, and "Ex Miscellanea" is just the English translation for the player rather than the character.
I've introduced "Julia of Porridge" in my game, a direct translation of "Julia ex miscellaneis"

NB: All final vowels are long, e.g. Bonisago = BOH-nee-SAH-goe; Criamone = KREE-ah-MONE-ay; Guernicu = GWAIR-nee-koo; Merceri = mare-KAY-ree;
Merinita = meh-rih-NEE-tarh (rather than nominitive meh-rih-NEE-tah).

The line style is to keep everything in English, however, so "Murion of House Bonisagus"


By my understanding it would more correctly be

Insatella e Merceri (3rd declension nt. i-stem, Mercere, Merceris - and M being 'liquida')
Handri e Merinita (1st declension - and M being 'liquida')
Stouritus ex Verditio (2nd declension - and V being a near-vowel)

Using the i-stem - like with Signifer, Lucifer or Dapifer - for Mercere and Tremere looks quite inspired to me.


Thanks for that. I should read all the thread before posting. I knew there was a rule, but couldn't find it.