rating: 0+x

Basic Information

In Greek Mythology, Hermes is a psychopomp, and messenger of the gods.

Honestly, that just barely scratches the surface.

Hermes was also a trickster figure, and was the god of athletes, borders and boundary markers, child prodigies, economics, fertility, goats, gymnasiums, merchants, music, negotiation, palm trees, prosperity, racing, roads, roosters, sailors, shepherds, thieves, tortoises, trade, travelers, wrestling, and the underworld. Hermes very complex, and has numerous different avatars with sub-functions and specializations. As a messenger, he is also associated with language.

He was Zeus's son and errand boy, but also his fixer, messenger, day care provider, and bawd.

He slew the multi-eyed monster Argus Panoptes.

He took care of divine children like Heracles, Dionysus and the Nymphs, and loaned out magical equipment to Heroes like Perseus.

He is the father of Autolycus, Hermaphroditus, Lykos, Pan, Pherespondos, Priapus and Pronomos. He's also a repeat-offender rapist (which is not that unusual for an Olympian).

Thanks to Interpretatio Graeca and the like, he is parallel/related to Mercury (of Roman Mythology), Anubis and Thoth (of Egyptian Mythology), Turms (of Etruscan Mythology), Ningishzida (of Mesopotamian Mythology) and Zalmoxis (of the Getae/Dacians/Thracians). A number of scholars think that Hermes and Pan had actually once been the same god, or one originally an aspect or avatar of the other, and that only over successive generations of worship and storytelling did they become independent gods: if that's the case add fear and panic to the roster of things of which Hermes is the godly patron.

Hermes carries a lot public domain artifacts around with him. He invented the lyre. He wears winged sandals, and a cloak of invisibility. He carries the caduceus (a staff with two snakes woven around it that magically makes people fall asleep or wake up),1 and a sword made of gold, and sometimes a purse.

Herma are weird statues of Hermes found throughout the ancient world. These sculptures have his head and genitalia, but instead of a body and limbs they would just have a large rectangle. Like if a monolith or a slat from a picket fence got ahead and grew a pair. The number four is sacred to Hermes, so that may explain the rectangle-instead-of-a-body.


2. Mythology for Dummies by Blackwell and Blackwell

Game and Story Use

  • In the Scion RPG or game set during Classical Mythology, Hermes could be a great patron, mentor, or quartermaster for the player characters. He can set them on quests and give them the special gear needed to the mission - in fact, as the messenger and bagman for Mount Olympus anything official is likely to come through him. Who does the same for the Cthonic gods is open for debate…
  • At the other end of the spectrum, Hermes can also be a real monster, or a powerful big bad evil guy. Like a number of the old gods, he does not understand consent. If you lean into the Hermes-and-Pan crossover, he may be that much more terrifying. All the more so if your gods are alien, abusive precursors, or great old one types.
  • Combining the two, at the very least the "if you chose to accept it" is liable to get left off the "your mission is" speech.
  • With all those different avatars and subdivisions, you could cast Hermes with a bit of multiple personality disorder. He's certainly mercurial.
  • When a PC dies, Hermes may appear to lead them to their final reward or eternal resting place. Since he loves to negotiate, the rest of the party might try to bargain for the life or soul of their recently departed comrade.
  • A little more down-to-earth game set in the ancient world you could easily have multiple orders or priesthoods of Hermes working at cross-purposes. If there's a quest to find a magic item or uncover a secret, one cult of Hermes might hire the PCs to find it, while a different cult of Hermes is racing against them to find it for themselves.
  • Dominion over language could be particularly powerful - C.S. Lewis fans may recall the bit in That Hideous Strength when Merlin invokes the angel previously known as Mercury to rob his opponents of the power of communication and turn all of their words into meaningless babble.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License