Vampire The Masquerade : Chicago By Night
Sect allegiance: Camarilla
Clan Disciplines: Dominate, Auspex, Thaumaturgy
Clan Weakness: the Tremere suffer a greater affinity for blood bonds of all kinds; a blood bond only takes two drinks of blood for Tremere, and they gain +1 towards all Vinculum rolls.
Motto: “Knowledge is not power; it is power’s prelude.”
The Tremere are the second-youngest vampire clan, preceding the Giovanni by just a few hundred years. Originally a House of the mortal magickal tradition known as the Order of Hermes, the Tremere are famed and feared for their skill with blood magic, and the occult secrets they hold. Enigmatic and often coldly aloof, they rarely share their secrets with anyone. For this they are mistrusted, hated and feared by outsiders. They are also the most tightly organized of the clans, following a pyramidal structure and chain of command quite similar to the old Hermetic mystery orders; indeed, Tremere often refer to their internal structure as The Great Pyramid.
The Tremere have gone from being a tiny group in the Carpathian mountains, beset by fellow Kindred and Lupines alike, to being founding members of the Camarilla and arguably the most powerful of the vampire clans. It may be that they will soon be able to contest the Ventrue for leadership in the Camarilla.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Tremere is the speed with which they act. Not for them are centuries of deliberation and planning; no, they expect results, positive results that meet or exceed expectation, and they demand them right now. The most eloquent explanation of this comes from Philip Boulle, the developer of Vampire: Dark Ages for White Wolf Games Studio, in a teaser for House of Tremere supplement on the White Wolf website:
“…This is a group of vampires others call Usurpers, and not without reason. You see, Cainites in the Dark Ages are the ultimate inbred nobles. The same 13 clans have been there, knowing and hating each other like only siblings can. Everything was played over the course of centuries, with patience and hidden intrigues – until Tremere.
This sorcerer, this mortal, and his acolytes kicked down the doors of the hidden vampiric world and took what they wanted. They saw a chance for immortality and went for it. No endless debate and eternal caution. No quiet maneuvering and silent consultations. So what if it cost them their souls? But being vampires wasn’t enough, so they did in a few short decades they did what others have tried for millennia: found an Antediluvian, drank his blood and took his place.
In a relative eye-blink, Saulot was dead, the Salubri a dying line, and the Tremere stood as the first new clan since Enoch. And that’s not all. No, the Tremere did all this in the heart of Transylvania, staving off the most terrifying of all the high vampiric clans: the Tzimisce Fiends. At the same time, they’ve managed to translate their hermetic arts into Thaumaturgy, a Discipline that makes other types of blood magic look pale in comparison. Young, cocky and powerful, the Tremere have smashed the status quo and nothing will ever be the same again."
The Tremere began as House Tremere, mages of the Order of Hermes named for their leader and founder, Tremere. At the end of the first millennia, the members of House Tremere realized the Hermitic arts were failing and found its immortality potions no longer working. Facing the possibility of losing everything, Tremere ordered research into alternate methods of sustaining their lives. House Tremere undertook numerous experiments, but it was Goratrix who devised a solution in his investigation of vampires.
In 1022, Goratrix invited Tremere and six of the founder’s closest advisers to participate in the completed ritual, which promised true immortality. Whether Goratrix knew what would happen is known only by him and, perhaps, Tremere, but at the completion of the ritual the participants fell unconscious and were reborn as vampires, their avatars destroyed and magical abilities lost. The mages had gained their immortality but lost the power they lived for. Though the others would likely have slain Goratrix for his folly (or trickery), Tremere ordered them to halt and declared that they would remain at his side, leaving their chantries in the hands of subordinates while they discovered the powers of their new forms in secret.
In time the Tzimisce made war against House Tremere in retribution for the Fiends that had been made part of Goratrix’s experiments. The Order of Hermes also became suspicious of diabolical practices being performed by the increasingly secretive House, but Tremere was able to dissuade them from investigating further. Finally, in 1037 Tremere gathered the seven newly-made Cainites and forced the blood bond upon them. He then declared to them that House Tremere would be restructed with a new pyramid hierarchy with himself at the top and them forming the Inner Council of Seven directly under him. They would slowly begin Embracing the rest of the House, with each initiate being bound to the Inner Council to ensure their loyalty. In time, all members of House Tremere would die or become vampires.
Over the next century the Omen War with the Tzimice continued on and off. With their mages growing weaker and those newly Embraced unfamiliar with the powers of the blood, chantries as far as their stronghold of Ceoris were repeatedly ravaged. While Tremere and Etrius pursued their own research throughout Europe in converting the hermetic arts into Thaumaturgy, Goratrix once again returned to his laboratories with his apprentices at hand. After years of experimentation on captured Tzimisce, Nosferatu, and Gangrel, he succeeded in creating a Gargoyle in 1121, and by 1125 the hybrids were serving as shock troops against the Fiends.
Nevertheless, the Tremere found themselves third-class citizens among the undead. Whatever boldness Tremere had shown in entering the night was ignored by the staunchly traditionalist clans and they were often forced from cities by princes who did not look kindly on their presumption.
The Tremere’s response to this was further boldness. As he and Etrius rapidly acquired more vampiric lore they discovered the history of Caine and the Antediluvians, as well as the benefits of diablerie. Seeking to establish themselves as a clan proper, the Tremere sought a clan founder to diablerize and settled on Saulot, the enigmatic founder of the Salubri clan. In 1133, Tremere and the Inner Council discovered Saulot’s tomb in the Anatolian desert. Tremere diablerized the Antediluvian and promptly entered torpor, leaving the Inner Council to lead the clan and destroy the remaining Salubri.
As with everything else that the Tremere had done to this point, the result was a mixed blessing. Due largely to Meerlinda’s efforts, the Tremere were entrenched in many Cainite courts, their services as mages making them indispensable to princes across Europe. They were now accepted as one of the Low Clans, albeit considered usurpers, distrusted warlocks, and known diablerists. A vicious propaganda campaign painted the Salubri as infernalists and soul-stealers, granting them some credit, and even those who knew better largely sat back while the Salubri were hunted to near extinction, for their arrogance had made them many enemies among the other clans.
In 1202, the Order of Hermes finally discovered what had become of House Tremere and sentenced them to death, resulting in a Wizard’s March. The Massasa War, as it would eventually be called, never officially ended, but neither side had the resources to sustain the war and it subsided after a few decades, only to sporadically begin anew years later.
The Tremere continued their hunt of Saulot’s descendents while making alliances with Hungarian Ventrue against the Tzimisce. By the 15th century the Salubri were only a legend and the Tremere were completely acknowledged as a clan. The Inquisition was particularly hard on them, however, and they lost many of their cults and chantries. During this time Goratrix used his influence and power to try to corrupt religious orders, most notably the Knights Templar, in order to seize potent artifacts held by the Church and turn its hunters against his enemies. When his bid for power failed, and the Knights Templar were branded as heretics, Tremere awoke and summoned Goratrix to return to Ceoris to stand trial before the Inner Council. After being censored and stripped of his authority, Goratrix fled into the east, believing his assassination was imminent. Shortly thereafter Etrius moved Tremere’s torpid body to the Vienna Chantry, which becomes the new center for the clan.
The formation of the Camarilla signaled the Tremere’s rise to legitimacy. Though the Tremere did not suffer greatly from the Anarch Revolt, the spread of Thaumaturgy among the Anarch by the Tremere antitribu was a dire threat to the clan. The Warlocks used their sorcery to facilitate communication and coordination of the Elders needed to support such an endeavor, and played a pivotal role at the Convention of Thorns when they placed a curse upon all of Clan Assamite, preventing them from drinking the blood of Cainites without extreme danger. At the same time the Tremere antitribu were also cursed so that anyone who partook of the Vaulderie would be branded by a mark visible to “true” Tremere. Such mighty feats were said to have been led by Tremere himself, who rose from torpor for the event, and the entire Inner Council. However it was done, the Assamites would never forgive the Tremere.
In the 18th Century rumors are finally confirmed that Goratrix has joined the Sabbat and is gathering the majority of the Tremere antitribu to form House Goratrix. Though the Tzimisce ensure they never become influential within the sect, the Betrayer’s efforts bring them closer together in an ironic imitation of the main clan.
During this time the Tremere continue to spread throughout Europe and North America, with considerably less success in Africa and Asia. Despite this expansion the clan maintains its hierarchy, and the web of communication that leads back to Vienna and the Inner Council steadily grows.
The Victorian age sees a rise in occultism among mortals, and the Tremere are quick to capitalise. Infiltrating the many secret societies that spring up among the upper and middle classes, they draw childer, servants and herds from them. This also allows the Tremere to practise their talents more openly (although still within the strictures of the Masquerade) – what once might have got an incautious magus burned at the stake for witchery, mortals are now excited and enthralled by the concepts of divination, conjuration and communing with spirits.
The Tremere are the most strictly organized clan bar none, and every member knows where they stand in authority amongst their peers. This creates the illusion of total unison and cooperation for other Cainites, who rarely know anything of the Tremere hierarchy or inner politics. Their Antediluvian, Tremere, sits at the top of the pyramid and supposedly directs the entire clan, though very few have ever seen him or witnessed his hand in action. Many do not believe he is even a real person, but perhaps an ideal of the Tremere cause or a symbol of their unity. Beneath him the importance of the number seven is given as each successive rank down is comprised of seven to a power positions, beginning with the
the members of the Inner Council of Seven and the true rulers of the clan, each of whom is responsible for directing clan efforts in a particular portion of the world. Each councilor appoints seven pontifices
A pontifex oversees a large region, such as parts of a nation or groupings of smaller countries and islands, and in turn oversees seven lords
Each lord is responsible for a small country or group of states and uses their influence and knowledge to sway the Tremere in their domain, specifically the regents
the most visible figures of Tremere authority. A regent runs an individual chantry and is charged with the well being and training of apprentices
the youngest and most numerous Tremere. Apprentices must spend much of their time training, serving some need within their chantry, or playing the politics of the clan as best as their inexperience allows. Some never advance beyond this rank, either because they are more interested in Camarilla politics or their own affairs to rise among the Tremere or because the lord of the region sees no need to create a new chantry and regent.
Circles of Mastery
Each rank, save for the Inner Council itself, is further divided into seven levels called circles of mastery. One’s circle of mastery denotes one of several characteristics that have earned them prestige and further responsibility such as skill in Thaumaturgy, years of experience and hard work, successful political machinations, or simple favoritism. The higher one’s circle of mastery the more authority and power they have access to, but they are also expected to provide more for the clan and given less tolerance for failure. Those of the fifth circle or above are also commonly called “high” members of their rank, such as high apprentice or high lord. Promotion and demotion is dealt by members of higher rank, though tribunals may also be called where accomplishments and failings are examined. The pursuit of promotion is one of the most motivating factors within the clan for its members to excel and obey Tremere doctrine, though advancement is rarely as simple as that.
Tremere currently active in Chicago