Multi-House covenants?

It seems to me from reading the various supplements that magi originally dwelt in single-House covenants.

When did the move to multi-House covenants start, or is this left undefined?



I think it all started with desegregation :wink:

I think it started from the very beginning, when Flambeau and Tytalus ventured into the world and forced other mages to become part of the Order of Hermes. Individuals of a community of early hedgies might well have choosen different Houses to join. Like the most aggressive one becoming a follower of Flambeau or Tytalus while others even might have joined House Criamon as it left its members largely alone.

I believe that Arae Flaviae is mentioned in the GotF as one of the first (if not the first) multi-house covenant.


No. It was the forced busing to the other Covenants.

The more I look into AM, the more I am convinced that to maintain House traditions you need mono-House covenants, but that is almost beside the point.

Single-House covenants seem to have been common for about the first 1-2 hundred years of the Order; since then, it has been breaking down swiftly to the point where they are an anomaly.

I'd be tempted to look at the schism war. A house which kept to itself, and refused to share it's inner secrets with outsiders, got annihilated. It's a good reason for the survivors to be more open and less reclusive.

There are probably a lot of NPC House covenants, and it is PC House covenants that are an anomoly.

It was definitely a post Schism War development but I think they gave different answers in different editions as to when it actually started.

IMHO, the majority of the covenants in the Order are dominated by a single House, though they may have members of other Houses that share their interests. I'd say that House Bonisagus and House Verditius are the exceptions to that. They both probably seek out established covenants that can support their particular interests handsomely.

The Tribunal books don't give very many examples of "pure" single house covenants, admittedly. But many of them are thematically aligned with one house. Jaferiya with Flambeau. Oculus Septentrionalis, Literatus, Bellaquin, Windgraven, and Barcelona with Jerbiton. All the Domni Magnae, of course. Lariander is pretty much a Tremere covenant and so is Blackthorn, if you ask me. Duresca and one of the Alpine covenants is clearly "quaesitor" if not actually Guernicus. A few more covenants are really two House covenants sharing space: Vardian's Tomb and Roznev, for example. Triamore may well fall into this category too (Jerbiton/Tremere), though less disfunctional.

I do wonder about the argument that multihouse covenants would lead to the dissolution of Houses and their traditions. That argument has been around for a while and its never made much sense to me. What traditions do you think would be lost? The Bjornaer, Merinita, Criamon, and Verditius are all Mystery Cults.. the very nature of their magical training is different. Those who don't initiate into that join other houses. Most of the other Houses have cultural inclinations that aren't so outre they couldn't survive exposure.

Actually from simply looking at my chronicle i can see how a multi-house covenant could easily work, why it is stronger than a single house covenant and how easy it is for house culture to still be strong.

Our covenant has magi from Flambeau, Criamon, Bjornaer, Verditius, Merinitae and Guernicus (its a big covenant). Although they mix and do various adventures together, by far the bulk of their time is spent cloistered away with their apprentices and lab assistants working on their various projects. The apprentices spent most of their time with their master in the lab, often only leaving for meals and errands. In such situations an apprentice is learning all of his magic from one magus.

Apprentices rarely associate with other magi, although they do tend to hang out together with other apprentices when they get the chance.

When our group goes to tribunal, all the houses tend to congregate with each other to catch up on gossip, latest discoveries, boast, etc. The more open mystery cults do likewise (Fraternity of Samos, Legion of Mithras).

Our covenant was founded by a bunch of young magi drawn from the stonehenge tribunal who wanted a bit more freedom and control that they weren't getting in bigger covenants. They were organised by a single older magi who introduced them to each other and headed the new covenant.

IMS there are very few mono house covenants with the Domus Magnas being the only real examples (and even Cad Gadu, which is in our tribunal isn't mono house, they have a merinita and a bjornaer there too).

This never seemed to be a chicken & egg kind of question to me. I think single house and multi house covenants would each naturally be part of the landscape from the very start of the order.

I think of this very much like the way most real world academic departments work. Some are going to attract diverse people who feed off of each others creative differences. Others are going to be a collection of people who share very similar interests and ideals.

Since a covenant is simply any collection of Magi who share a living situation I'd expect the reasons for there grouping can be and have been quite varied.

Durenmar was multi house from the get go.

Thats right, and of course some covenants have been single house from the get go. So I imagine the Order has always been a mix of single and multi house covenants.

I can't find reference to this in GotF. Perhaps it didn't make the final cut?


Durenmar may have members of multiple Houses but it is clearly a House Bonisagus covenant. Everyone living there is either a Bonisagus magus or someone there to further the House goals in some fashion (either research of their own or providing resources to further the researchers). Most of the other magi left pretty quick to found their own covenants.

I suppose there is a bit of a semantic point.. When one says 'House Covenant' do you literally mean every single magus there is of the same house? If so, then I think the Order has been multi house since the get go. The Bonisagi, Mercere, and Verditius have been scattered amongst various covenants rather than concentrated at just a few. And Durenmar has always had a few token non Bonisagi as members. But if by House Covenant you mean a covenant dominated by the traditions and membership of a single House, then I think House covenants have been the norm for the Order all along.

IMHO, LIteratus is a Jerbiton covenant even if it admits a few members from other houses. It would still be dominated by Jerbiton ideals and members. A true 'multi House' covenant would be dominated by the common interests of the individual magi in a fashion that produces something substantially different than would result from a single house covenant. A Flambeau covenant allowing some martial magi from other Houses to join isn't 'really' multi House in the sense I'm thinking.

IMC, various Tremere covenants like Blackthorn, Doissetep, and Fengheld started offering non Tremere magi membership in these rich covenants to help with the House's restoration and redefinition following the Schism War. These covenants are still strongly heirarchical and have many Tremere members. While they aren't "House" covenants any longer, they still inculcate Tremere style values and they make House Tremere seem less threatening, as these domineering covenants don't look like yet more Tremere oppression..

Later covenants organized by secret and public Societies started being founded and eventually there were a few "random assortment of magi whose common interest seems to simply be 'not wanted to be junior members anywhere.' "

It was mentioned in Covenants ("The Charter of Arae Flaviae", page 33).

Sit vis vobiscum,

I agree it's a semantic point: I'd say a "House covenant" is a covenant that works to the politcal goals of the House, regardless of if it has a pure membership, because otherwise the Cave of Twisting Shadows and Valnastium are not House Covenants, and for me, that limits the usefulness of the term "House covenant". So, Lycanon, which is mentioned briefly as a war material manufactuary for House Tremere isn't all Tremere: it has a fair few Verditius in it I imagine, but its still a "House covenant" in the sense that the Tremere run it as part of their ideology of watchfulness and superior firepower. I tend to think of House covenants as ideologically singular and multi-house covenants as being more idologically diverse.

I think after reflection that this is my preferred interpretation, particularly with Timothy's clarification.

By this reasoning, I'd agree that Durenmar is a Bonisagus House Covenant and Literatus is similarly portrayed as a Jerbiton House Covenant, although they are not so homogenous as say Valnastium or Verdi, which are Domus Magnae in any case.

A related topic that springs from this is when did magi of the various Houses start spreading from beyond the original geographic area of their Domus Magnae (Brittany for Tytalus, Germany for Bonisagus/Merinitia/Bjornaer, Alps + Thebes for Jerbiton, Transylvanian for Tremere, Alps for Criamon, Brittania for Diedne and Ex-Misc?).

Would this coincide with the need to form "multi-house" covenants?

I accept that some Houses like Diedne, would be unlikely to form such "multi-House" covenants, although perceptions on this may have changed sharply after the Schism War given the fate of the druidic magi.



Thanks for that.

Seems to imply that multi-House covenants were established for specific reasons even from early on in the Order's history then...


Well, I expect that those Houses that recruited a lot of magi directly from the existing wizard population would have expanded pretty quickly. I doubt all such wizards would have moved permanently to where they went for training. The need for regional tribunals was obvious a mere 6 years after the Order was founded, according to the timeline at the end of GotF.

I tend to think of the Arae Flaviae as an outlier rather than a precedent. It failed after conflict with another covenant. IMC, other magi then said "See what happens when you don't have strong support from a House..."

I'd add the Bjornaer and Criamon to your point about the Diedne. They are specifically mentioned as being especially insular at the start of the Order. The Jerbiton had an insular phase. I think the Guernicus magi have always formed "Quaesitor" covenants (though the fad of many Tribunal books for a while was to have insufficient Quaesitors to get anything done. Rome, Alps, and Iberia have Quaesitor covenants; Stonehenge, Rhine, Loch Leglean have only 1 or 2 Qs each).

Then (as I mentioned in an earlier post) I'd say that Bonisagus, Mercere, and Verditius are the opposite: They deliberately join other House's covenants and always have. Being rich enough to support one of these magi was a matter of prestige (not to mention the practical benefits).