So, I've never played this game, but I have some books, and it seems cool because you can pretend to be this:
even though a more accurate depiction of your reality is this:
SETTING INFORMATION / HISTORY OF THE SETTING SPOILERED BELOW
We're in medieval Europe. Magic exists, and it is most commonly expressed in humans in a full-on potential for wizardry called The Gift. Good thing about being Gifted: You can theoretically learn how to create gold from base ore, to become invisible, and to transmute the blood of your enemies directly into donkey piss.
Bad thing about being Gifted: People react to you as if they saw you shitting into the donation box at the local homeless shelter.
Something inherent to the magical Gift is that you just set people the hell on edge. They don't know who you are, but they just don't like your face. They don't trust you and consider you little better than a thug, liar, and cheat. If you have a particularly Blatant Gift, they'll act as if they think you're about to rampage through an orphanage at any moment in order to feast on innocent blood.
Other mages were not immune to the negative effects of the gifts of their fellows.
As you might expect, that somewhat curtailed the possibility of a Magical Mickey Mouse Club where we can all be friends together. The closest anyone got was The Cult of Mercury, which shared a rough idea as to how magic was to be worked and were therefore able to share magical knowledge via correspondence, only gathering for grand rituals that necessitated being near so many shifty assholes that can throw lightning all at once.
Suddenly, some clever dick named Bonisagus created a Grand Unified Theory of Magic, or the best that one can manage in medieval Europe where the most advanced philosophy known is Aristotle, as well as a quick and easy ritual which completely prevented its wizardly user from suffering the suspicion-inducing effects of another's Gift (although sadly, it does not prevent your own Gift from provoking such reactions in others). In addition, the ritual provides strong magic resistance sufficient to protect you from the magic missiles of those weasel-eyed sons of bitches in the city who you were certain are just eying your collection of magic Hummel figurines.
With these revelations, a true society of wizards can be forged. Finally, we can all be friends. Bonisagus and his student Trianoma gathered 11 of the foremost wizards of their time and together founded The Order of Hermes, sharing their magical theory and protective Parma Magica ritual. In pursuit of sharing enlightenment and friendship throughout all of Europe, Trianoma and the forebears of what would become the angrier of the 12 Houses of the Order travelled the continent greeting their fellow magicians warmly, sharing news of the Order's discoveries, and giving a simple and friendly option:
"Join or I'll fucking kill you."
The Order grew rapidly in size and power, as you would expect it to when only one side has proper magic resistance, and today is so dominant that any other magical traditions in Europe are largely unnoticeably minuscule.
So the idea is you play as a wizard, or a skilled companion to wizards. You might think that you'll spend all your time traipsing around on adventures and slaying dragons.
No, what are you, stupid? You're probably a wizard. You have shit
. I mean, yeah, you are forced by your own needs and research, or by the demands of your elders, to go on adventures and risk your hide once or twice a year, but that is a serious distraction to your reading and labwork.
The members of the Order of Hermes are scholars, by and large. As such, you spend 2 or 3 seasons each year engaged in labwork, study, and research. The idea is that you are pursuing your interests, pushing back the boundary of the unknown in magical theory, and so on. Functionally, the "off-seasons" serve to make you more of a dragon-slaying badass while you forge magical items, create new spells out of whole cloth, and advance your talents.
Okay, I'm tired of writing.
This is a cool game with a cool magic system of which I might edit in a cool description later when I'm bored.