In the (comparatively) little time since their founding, the Warlocks have made incredible inroads within vampiric society and are arguably the most powerful clan in the modern nights. This is due in no small part to their strict hierarchy, secretive nature, and mastery of Thaumaturgy, all of which elicit suspicion, fear, and respect from other Cainites. The Warlocks stand as a pillar of the Camarilla and are one of its main defenders, despite the fact that they exist almost as a subsect. Some even go so far as to consider themselves the evolution of vampirism, citing their extreme versatility of blood magic and lack of a true clan curse. The Final Nights have many things in store for the Tremere, however, and the more powerful they grow, the more their enemies gather – and in their bid for power, the Tremere have accumulated more enemies than most.
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 millennium, the members of House Tremere realized the Hermetic 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 restructured with a new pyramid hierarchy, placing himself at the top as Primus of House and clan Tremere and his seven closest followers 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.
Motto: Arbitrium Vincit Omnia (Latin: "Will Conquers All")
Over the next century the Omen War with the Tzimisce 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.
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 descendants 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 became 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 Anarchs 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 the entirety of Clan Assamite, preventing them from drinking the blood of Cainites without extreme danger. The Assamites would never forgive the Tremere, their rivalry continuing into the present. 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, along with the entire Inner Council.
In the 18th Century rumors were finally confirmed that Goratrix had joined the Sabbat and was gathering the majority of the Tremere antitribu to form House Goratrix. Though the Tzimisce ensured that they would never become influential within the sect, the Betrayer's efforts brought them closer together in an ironic imitation of the main clan.
During this time the Tremere continued to spread throughout Europe and North America, with considerably less success in Africa and Asia. Despite this expansion, the clan maintained its hierarchy, and the web of communication leading back to Vienna and the Inner Council steadily grew.
The Victorian age saw a rise in occultism among mortals, and the Tremere were quick to capitalize. Infiltrating the many secret societies that sprang up among the upper and middle classes, they drew childer, servants and herds from them. This also allowed the Tremere to practice their talents more openly (although still within the strictures of the Masquerade), and what once would have gotten an incautious magus burned at the stake for witchery, now enthralled and excited mortals with its concepts of divination, conjuration and communing with spirits.
In 1998, the Tremere antitribu were wiped out. After being called to a chantry in Mexico City, they were completely destroyed in an unknown ritual. If any of the antitribu remain, those who did not attend the gathering, they are undoubtedly in hiding. For more information, see the Transylvania Chronicles IV and Nights of Prophecy supplements or the entries for Tremere and Goratrix.
More problematic was the increasing number of free Gargoyles making themselves known within the Camarilla and those clamoring for more freedoms and rights despite the Tremere's attempts to keep them under their control. Far worse, the Tremere were beginning to take notice of a growing instability in Thaumaturgy with frightening similarities to the failure of the Hermetic arts that spurred Goratrix's experiments and the transformation into vampires. The curse placed upon the Assamite clan failed, with subsequent efforts to renew it unsuccessful, and the Assassins hunted them with renewed vigor, even as a new faction of sorcerers and scholars sought membership within the Camarilla. The advancements made by the Tremere seemed to be met by further setback, and little reassurance was given from the top of the pyramid.
The Fall of Vienna
When the Second Inquisition raided the Vienna Chantry in 2008, with presumably the destruction of the Inner Council of Seven, Blood Bonds were shattered. Tremere fell from gray eminences to personae non gratae in many regions. Without the strict internal hierarchy, individual Tremere compete heavily for the lore, artifacts, and secrets that the united Clan once possessed, fearing their clanmates as much as their enemies. To this end, they often sell their services as mercenaries to third parties. Their former monolithic structure has splintered into several rival groups, with the Camarilla-loyalists under Karl Schrekt at the head on the one side, a resurgent House Goratrix on the other, and the upstarts of House Carna who are at least for the time being still aligned with the Camarilla. A fourth house, Ipsissimus, can be found among the Anarchs.
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 Founder and namesake, the nominal 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 emphasized, as each successive rank down is comprised of seven to one, starting with:
- Councilors - 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Regents - the most visible figures of Tremere authority. A regent runs an individual chantry and is charged with the supervision of it.
- Magisters - a term to describe a Tremere that has not sought power but instead has become a trusted advisor who manages inter-chantry disputes. Magisters educate and see to the well-being of Apprentices.
- 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.
- Acolytes - the ones who lie below Apprentices, a rank that includes Tremere that have not yet been accepted as a part of the clan, as well as groups that are bound to the Council of Seven (such as the Trimira). Below Acolytes are ghouls and servitors like Gargoyles.
Circles of Mystery
Each rank, save for the Inner Council itself, is further divided into seven levels called circles of mystery. One's circle of mystery 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 favouritism. The higher one's circle of mystery the more authority and power they have access to, but they are also expected to provide more for the clan and are 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, high regent, or high lord—although few bother with such awkward parlance as “high apprentice”. 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 for the clan's members to excel and obey Tremere doctrine, though advancement is rarely as simple as that.
The Tremere pyramid teems with conspiracies since the creation of the clan and the feud between Goratrix and Etrius. Many of these societies are tolerated as long as they do not threaten the foundation of loyalty to the clan. Known and accepted societies are:
- Astors - a secret organization that hunts traitors and infiltrators within the pyramid;
- Brothers of Absinthe - those who believe in the usage of certain drugs to elevate their consciousness and awareness in Dreams;
- Children of the Pyramid - those who revere the spiritual concept of the Pyramid;
- The Covenant - a group that seeks knowledge of Necromancy to combine it with Thaumaturgy;
- Elite - a group of Tremere that believe that they are the next step in vampiric evolution and are dedicated to show the supremacy of the Clan;
- Guardians of Traditions - those who stand opposed to any change in policy and oppose all modern technology and conventions;
- The Praesidium - Traditionalists who seek a return to the Pyramid, after the fall of the Prime Chantry, aligned with House Tremere.
- Quaesitori - a remnant from House Quaesitor that act as independent judges;
- The Unbowed Mundanes - a group of Tremere that lobbies for a better inclusion of those Tremere that show no aptitude for Thaumaturgy.
Besides them, there exist groups like the Eye of the Serpent, which is a cell from the Followers of Set; the Third Eye, a group of Tremere that seek to atone for the genocide against the Salubri; and, the Illuminated Brotherhood and the Order of the Wyrm, who are rumoured to have connections to the demonic Baali. Membership in one of these societies can be punished with Final Death once it is known, and so these cults hide among the other members of the Clan. Other societies die out due to lack of interest, such as the Humanus League or the Golden Path of Harmony.
The houses of Clan Tremere are little more than cults of personality at their worst, but are distinct colleges of magic or philosophy at their most valid.
- House Tremere - Camarilla aligned, loyalists of the Pyramid, traditional Hermetics, led by Karl Schrekt;
- House Carna - Majority of them Camarilla aligned, with some in the Anarchs, pagan nonconformists, wiccans and other modern witches, led by Carna;
- House Goratrix - Camarilla aligned, with few information known about them, presumably led by Goratrix;
- House Ipsissimus - Anarch aligned, though not generally considered to be a major house. Decentralized and leaderless.
Prior to the attack, the clan used to consist of an unknown number of houses, some claiming only a handful of members, while others — the House of Tremere — claim every childe of the clan. Listed below are a few of the more prominent — or notorious — houses of Clan Tremere:
- Trismegistus - symbolism and numerology
- Hashem - Kabbalah
- Rodolfo - divination
- Daughters of the Crone - birth and death magic
- Horned Society - infernalism (allows non-Kindred members)
- High Saturday - voudoun and necromancy (allows non-Tremere members)
- Auram Guild - alchemy
- Etrius - Thaumaturgy
Not all of these are common knowledge; some exist only as rumours and may well be fictional, while others are august and prestigious. The fate of these Houses following the Fall of Vienna is unknown, but it can be assumed that they joined — either in part or completely – the major houses above.
In truth, the Tremere are a bloodline of the Tzimisce, as it was the blood of Fiends that was used to create them. Regardless, there are no bloodlines of Tremere in the modern nights, as the clan's uniformity does not allow deviations. In the Dark Ages there was a small variant known as the Telyavelic Tremere that was influenced by pagan practices and arose in Lithuania, but they are believed to be long extinct.
|“||Oh, cruel gods of night and hell! You let someone smite the perfidious Tremere - and it wasn't me!||”|
|— Velya the Vivisectionist, Tzimisce Cardinal|
The Tremere antitribu are those Tremere that followed Goratrix into exile, named House Goratrix in opposition to their parent Clan. There are rumours that Goratrix's flight was part of an orchestrated plan of Tremere, to have an agent in the rival sect, but these did not change the reaction of the Council of Seven: The antitribu found themselves cursed by the main clan.
In almost every example antitribu are not organised enough, to have gained the full Tremere clan discipline. Tremere included any kindred with a level of Thaumaturgy to be considered as clan Tremere antitribu. These antitribu are hunted in every city, and are to be destroyed, the same as if they had been discovered to have broken their blood bond. Unbondable Tremere do not exist in modern nights, as a result, they all are at least one point bound to the council.
Upon their first Vaulderie, a Tremere antitribu receives a very painful mark of a "T" on their forehead that can only be observed by another Tremere, marking them forever as a traitor to the clan. Within the Sabbat, the Tremere antitribu had a very low profile and rarely advanced in the ranks, mainly out of the grudge that many high-ranking Tzimisce had against them. Despite this, the two worked together on occasion, for example during the creation of the Blood Brothers. The Tremere antitribu had their greatest chantry in Mexico City, named the Universidad del Tercer Circulo de la Serpiente Dorada, where Goratrix himself resided.
As of 1998, the original Tremere antitribu were considered extinct thanks to a mysterious ritual, undertaken by Tremere in Goratrix's body, that burned the antitribu to ash in a single night. As far as the original Tremere and the Camarilla were concerned, that was the end of the traitors; while any Tremere could in the future defect from the Clan and undergo the Vaulderie, these were not explicitly considered antitribu. Rather, they were just seen as Tremere with Sabbat allegiance.
However, contrary to Tremere propaganda, the antitribu were not entirely destroyed: some antitribu avoided the acquisition of the cursed mark entirely, and a few of those that did have the cursed mark also survived the ritual that killed the others. While their numbers were few at best at the turn of the millennium, the Tremere antitribu lived on, even if many of these "survivors" were actually Telyavelic Tremere that had, from the start, faked having the cursed mark and masqueraded as regular Tremere antitribu.
As for V20, while the exact time of body switching between Tremere and Goratrix following destruction of the Tremere antitribu is unclear, any of those who gain the mark of traitor immediately die due to the Tremere curse.
- Main article: Telyavelic Tremere
The Telyavelic Tremere were a bloodline of the Tremere in the Dark Ages. The founders of this bloodline split from their parent clan when they were sent to learn the magic of eastern European pagans (which resembled Koldunism in some ways). Those Tremere converted to the worship of the deity Telyavel and developed their own animistic branch of Thaumaturgy, Sielanic Thaumaturgy.
Not a bloodline per se, but rather an unusual acquisition born out of need, the Trimira are a branch of Indian Tremere that bolstered their ranks within the hostile land by introducing non-Tremere Kindred (usually low-ranking Ravnos and Nosferatu) via the blood bond to the Inner Council to ensure their loyalty.
Over the centuries, the clan has fostered the image of an authoritarian society ruled by a stifling hierarchy and by tyranny. Most outside the clan take it as a fact that the Tremere hegemony is strict and unforgiving. And for the most part, Clan Tremere almost encourages this reputation by simply never acknowledging or correcting it directly. In actuality though, the clan as a whole is less rigid and less uniform than most know—and its power structure is both more intricate and more delicate than most realize. Superiors set expectations for their underlings—and any who proves a direct threat to the clan is hunted down and neutralized. But while some Regents and Lords can be brutally draconian, others are far more liberal. In fact, many are smart enough to realize that seeding needless discontent only motivates rebellion. And while the pyramid is meant to compel obedience, each member is still an individual who harbours their own ambitions. As such, superiors regularly use promises of advancement, occult teachings, and access to the Thaumaturgical secrets that the clan places its monolithic monopoly over to motivate said individuals to stay in line and to placate their thirsts for power.
To the rest of Kindred society, they always present a unified front. Given their history as usurpers and power-grabbers, they are obsessed with the image and reputation of their clan. But underneath the veneer, the close-knit hierarchy of the pyramid breeds ruthless competition (something the upper echelons actively encourage). As such, night-to-night existence for many Tremere becomes a labyrinth of Byzantine politics where endless scheming and cut-throat manoeuvring lurks at every corner from those below and those above. Aside from the clan hierarchy, Tremere also sometimes form political factions and houses within the clan, which range from cults to distinct colleges of magic or other intellectual pursuits. These groups are generally highly informal and maintain their own organization, if any at all, and some may even be at odds with one another.
The Tremere are one of the primary pillars of the Camarilla in the modern nights, arguably second only to the Ventrue in terms of the support and influence they possess (most of this power comes from the Tremere's near-monopoly of Thaumaturgy, but also from the encouragement for individual Tremere to place clan interests high on their list of priorities). The clan is synonymous with blood magic, a fact that they use to instil fear and envy in others. While they are surely not the first thaumaturges in Cainite history (despite claims to the contrary), their paradigm is one of the most flexible and expansive. The Tremere differ from the other thaumaturges by adopting a uniquely scientific approach to magic, and they encourage active experimentation – the result being a staggering array of thaumaturgical paths and rituals. Of course, no single individual knows every application of blood magic, and such knowledge is naturally one of the main forms of barter within the clan.
The Clan places great value at the numerological value of the number seven. Seeing the mind ordered akin to a pyramid ordered in seven steps, the internal discipline of the mind mirrors the structure of the Clan itself. Thoughts, desires and fears have to be ordered in these seven steps. Likewise, the pyramid teaches seven lessons, those of Discontinuity, Hierarchy, Apathy, Favour, Authority, Documentation and Surveillance, in order to shape their members into the desired form.
The Tremere are very selective in who they Embrace and normally do so with a mind for the clan's needs, a condition reinforced by the fact that the local Regent must give permission for an individual to be sired. Individuals of strong will or aggressive personalities are normally sought, provided they have a clear head and can learn to be a part of the greater whole that is the clan. Candidates were scholars in life, and many dabbled in the occult to one extent or another, though that is not a prerequisite. Of course, there are "rogue" Embraces for the usual reasons – love, political gain, or accident. Regents often have these mistakes killed immediately, with suitable punishment levied against the sire, but there are always exceptions.
Soon after being Embraced, Tremere neonates are made to commit to the Tremere Code – which elaborates on what is expected of a Tremere and what activities would earn disfavour. The neonate has to drink the blood of the Inner Council of Seven through a ritual called the Transubstantiation of Seven, bringing them one step towards a Blood Bond to the clan's leaders and ensuring some degree of loyalty to their peers. Afterwards their training begins, even as they continue to grapple with their transformation into a vampire, memorize the Traditions, learn to feed, and so on. These factors lead to a high rate of failure in newly Embraced Tremere, who may go mad or commit suicide.
The Tremere backstory is heavily based on Ars Magica, and the original House Tremere appeared as a Hermetic house in that game system. As the World of Darkness progressively diverged from Ars Magica's medieval Europe, certain elements of the backstory become problematic.
As part of the metaplot, the antitribu were eliminated at the start of Vampire: The Masquerade Revised Edition. The reasons and methods were expanded upon in Transylvania Chronicles IV: The Dragon Ascendant and Nights of Prophecy. In V20, some survived the ritual that burned the overwhelming majority of antitribu in 1998. In V5, a revived House Goratrix is one of the three dominant factions in the clan, though how similar it is to the original remains to be seen.
For Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition, the Tremere clan weakness (often regarded as one of the least punitive of the original game) was revamped. The Tremere in V20 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.
In V5, the Tremere bane changed again, this time in response to in-universe events. After the fall of the Vienna Chantry, their Blood has recoiled and aborted the bonds that once held their hierarchy in place. Tremere vitae can no longer Blood Bond other Kindred, though they themselves can be Bound by Kindred from other clans. A Tremere can still bind mortals and ghouls, though the corrupted vitae must be drunk an additional number of times equal to the vampire’s Bane Severity for the bond to form. Tremere also have Blood Sorcery, as do the Banu Haqim, instead of Thaumaturgy.
Other details have also changed slightly between editions. These include whether the House Tremere conspirators seeking the immortality numbered seven or eight, the exact mechanics of the Ritual of Usurpation, and the date in which the Clan elders began to commit Diablerie to obtain more power.
The original Tremere clan weakness consists of an initiation, which requires all neonates to drink from the blood of the seven elders of the clan when they are created. This means that all Tremere are at least one step toward being Blood Bound to the clan, and therefore must watch their step very carefully when around their leaders.
Vampires of Clan Tremere are blood bound by only two draughts of another Kindred's vitae. The first draught is treated as if another vampire had two.
Deficient Blood: The Tremere are no longer able to create Blood Bonds with other Kindred through normal means. A Tremere can still bind mortals and ghouls, though the corrupted vitae must be drunk an additional number of times equal to the vampire’s Bane Severity for the bond to form.
Perfectionism: nothing but the best satisfies the vampire. Anything less than exceptional performance instils a profound sense of failure, and they often repeat tasks obsessively to get them "just right". Until the vampire scores a critical win on a Skill roll or the scene ends, the vampire labours under a two-dice penalty to all dice pools. The penalty is reduced to one die for a repeated action and removed entirely on a second repeat.
|Vampire: The Masquerade Clans|
|Banu Haqim (Assamites) · Brujah · Gangrel · Hecata (Cappadocians, Giovanni) · Lasombra · Malkavian · Ministry (Followers of Set) · Nosferatu · Ravnos · Salubri · Toreador · Tremere · Tzimisce · Ventrue|