House Quaesitor (technically House Guernicus) is one of the twelve founding Houses of the Order of Hermes and has been its legal pillar for centuries. Members of House Quaesitor act as judges for their Order, administering Tribunals and regulating Covenants.
Quaesitors believe in the supremacy of the law. The world is guided by absolute, unchanging laws (which the Quaesitors refer to as Ma'at). The laws of physics, the laws of society, the laws that govern ritual magic and the Code of Hermes (with some including the Protocols) are all reflections of this divine order. As a result, the cosmos is – in itself – just and actively wants to be understood. The duty of a mage is to aspire to a state where he reflects this justness of the world within his own thoughts and deeds. When a person acts in an unjust manner, it is because his own, flawed perception leads him to err. When a person becomes fully harmonized with the Law, it will achieve Ascension.
In addition to Forces, House Quaesitor puts a special focus on the Sphere of Spirit, since the laws that govern the spirit worlds also affect the physical world and the other way round. For their duties as judges and arbitrators, many also dedicate themselves to Mind.
House Quaesitor was the brainchild of an especially harsh and sardonic magus, Guernicus. Part of a legacy of earth-based magicians from Rome, Guernicus had traveled the world to seek justice for his murdered master. He argued that mages would always turn on each other without strict laws to guide them and that their numerous disputes would eventually result in rivalries and internal war. Trianoma used this against him and argued that Guernicus should set up the laws for the Order, to test his theories of an immutable and sacrosanct order of the universe within the most potent assembly of mystics since the fall of Rome. Condescendingly, Guernicus accepted.
Motto: Lex super voluntate (Latin: "The law above the will.")
In the following years, Guernicus and his apprentices systematically codified Hermetic law into the Peripheral Corrigenda of the Code. Magi accused the House of actively seeking conflicts out and that they had no say in how these laws were applied. After consultations with the founders, Guernicus agreed to open the office of Quaesitor to other Houses, but his apprentices continued to be the grogs of the Orders judicars. Members of the House made expeditions to Egypt, where they uncovered the lost teachings of the Cult of Thoth. The Primus of the House, Fenicil, declared that the Order of Hermes was just the most recent manifestation of an eternal institution, with laws that were just as eternal. As a result, strict adherence to the letter of the law was Fenicil’s mandate to his House and the Order.
During the 10th century, members of other Houses discovered the “Duresca Scrolls”, which contained a secret plan allegedly pinned by Guernicus himself to take control of the entire Order and the world. The Quaesitori declared the scrolls forgeries and burned them. After the incident, House Quaesitor was even more vigilant against corruption than before. This lead to the trial of the Prima of House Tytalus who had practiced Infernalism and later convinced the Quaesitori to support House Tremere in its accusation against House Diedne. The Schism War was seen as a way to clear their image and present themselves as fair as well as harsh if necessary to the other Houses. Because of this, the discovery of House Tremere’s fall and conversion into vampires, as well as the following conflict, were a hard blow for the House. In a House-intern Tribunal, the Quaesitori decided that they would never accept positions of leadership within the Order, to allow them to remain objective and stay clear of Order-intern politicking.
True to their oath, House Quaesitor remained content with focusing on their duties to the Order. When Baldric LaSalle tried to unite the Houses of Hermes before the Grand Convocation, House Quaesitor was one of his foremost critics, who opposed that all the different Houses were to be lumped together into a single Tradition. Eventually, they relented. For their loyal opposition, Louis DuMonte bani Quaesitor was chosen as the Hermetic representative for the First Cabal.
House Quaesitor continued to act mainly within the boundaries of the Order, although members were also drawn into inter-traditional disputes, where they acted as arbiters to the best of their abilities, coming into conflict with other forces that had the same duty, like the Euthanatoi. Overall, they managed to stay clear from the political infighting that plagued the Order of Hermes through much of its later history.
After the Conflagration, many members of the Traditions looked to House Quaesitor to take control over the Order. True to their ancient oath, however, they refused. The betrayal of their allies, House Janissary, had also compromised them and numerous members of the old House that were judged worthy were allowed to enter House Quaesitor to avoid further scrutiny.
House Quaesitor is supervised by a Primus, one of the last Archmages of the order still on this side of the Gauntlet. Ishaq ibn-Thoth in turn is advised by a panel of seven Magistrati, who have their base in the ancient Covenant of Stuttgart, Germany. Below each Magistratus are two or more Praetors, who coordinate the Quaesitors, who oversee Hermetic Covenants all around the globe.
Entry into House Quaesitor was traditionally the result of a time-honed exam referred to as "the Gavel". Apprentices were locked into an airtight room without food or water, solely with law books, for three days to prepare themselves. Afterwards, the apprentice had to answer 100 questions of ambiguous morality before a council of Praetors, who would judge the apprentice's legal skills. In modern days, this very harsh test has fallen out of use by most mages, who instead seek more organic applications of the law.
The Quaesitors do not actually run the Order of Hermes, but they decide who does. They cannot enact their own desires unopposed, but can prevent others from doing so. In a Tradition concerned above all with power, House Quaesitor commands one of the greatest powers: that of judgement. Magistrati are the Order's lawyers and judges, masters of the arcane codes and regulations of this most arcane Tradition. And they take that legacy seriously.
- , p.46-47
- , p.42-43
- , p.21
- , p.54-55
|Mage: The Ascension and Ars Magica Houses of Hermes|
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