A Tremere question - certamen for control of sigils

Assuming other magi in their right minds would even consider participating in a certamen with a Tremere:

If the Tremere sets as his terms that the opposing magus casts his vote a a tribunal some specific way, what would the opponent set as his terms? I mean, the Tremere most likely won't have control of his own sigil - that would be in the hands of an Exarch or a senior Tremere. And if he did have his own sigil, he would most likely be so powerful that he'd most likely not do certamen himself, but have his underlings do it. And such a powerful magus would harldy find willing opponents.

What other stakes could the Tremere risk? I think he could try bribery at first, and once he finds out what would sway the opponent, he could simply suggest this "deal" as his side of the certamen stakes.
I play a Tremere, and I have these problems, and would like it to work.

And also, since Exarches cover more than one Tribunal, the ones where they aren't residing - but holds sigils owned by Tremere residents from there - how would this work?
Would the Exarch let the individual owners control their own sigils? Not likely, since they block vote! Or would they delegate this, and to whom?
Would they appoint "unofficial subcommanders" to do this very job, but with no other privileges?
Would it be a senior Tremere who does this?
Or would it be a Tremere who controls his own sigil?

I think there are some holes, and I don't feel I've found the corks to stop these in HoH:TL, Tremere.

The stakes for Certamen are supposed to be "symmetrical" - that's often hard to do, and perhaps more often than not.

If the stakes are not symmetric, I'd think that would be just cause to refuse the certamen, and/or bring charges of "bullying" (or something similar).

If I were running the non-Tremere, I'd simply tell him to come back when he has a vote to lose, and until then he simply won't see one placed on the table. Shut down that suckah. 8)

(Otoh, there is a strong argument that such would quickly get shut down by a Peripheral Code ruling based on the section about "using a vote prudently" and "respecting the vote of others", exactly to avoid Tremere from running the table on every vote at every level. Many covenants have something like this in their Charter, that "Vote at Council cannot be coerced by Certamen", or "I will use my vote wisely", something along those lines.

And, pretty obviously, putting one's vote up as the stakes in Certamen, and certainly against a Tremere, is neither particularly prudent nor wise.) :wink:

But assuming a vote were legal to put on the table, and the Tremere did not have his own sigil, then, first, mostly likely any preference for Tribunal vote would not be his decision, but an "executive decision" from a policy maker higher up. If the T could make these decisions, then they've probably got their own sigil (and several others?).

But assuming that weren't the case, then, yeah, he'd have to get creative. Knowledge is power, so knowing what is of value to the target mage, something tempting enough that the vote would seem worth the risk, would be the move.

Disclaimer: I'm not a Certamen fan. But since the question involves a Certamen challenge, I'll react to it as such.

If I were the non-Tremere, I'd point out that House Tremere has pledged its word not to seek to dominate the Order again. Challenging me to get control of my vote could just be construed as an attempt at domination. Sundering, Round 2? :smiley:.

I'd probably ask the Tremere to instead present me with an argument of why I should vote a certain way. If he convinces me, I'd do it freely of my own will.

If I went through the Certamen protocols and offered up my own condition: I'd say that if I win, I have the right to expect him to champion a vote of mine. He doesn't have to vote with his own sigil, per se, but he has to act in my favor. Possible options for when I make a vote:
-If I make a proposal, he must publicly speak in favor of it, in a good-faith, earnest attempt to convince others in the Tribunal that I am right.
-He must convince his parens to cast 4 votes in my favor.
-He must lobby behind-the-scenes on my behalf for my proposal.
-If I win, he must never again use 'the carrot' to get me to vote in his favor. He can argue a proposal's merits to me, or he can offer me a nominal bribe of a vote exchange or a vis payment, but he can never again use threats or Certamen.

If the losing stakes for the Tremere is to convince his parens to cast 4 votes for the winner, that is by no means a symmetrical wager - not by a longshot. 1 vote would be, but not 4.

I'm beginning to see that Tremere can't use Certamen to politically influence tribunal votes. They might influence things indirectly, by supporting some magi, bullying others in the time up to the Tribunal. Some magi might vote to the Tremere's liking, others might simply stay away and thus not vote against the Tremere (if they don't give the sigil to a trusted sodales as proxy)

Indirect uses of power are always the most effective. Arm-wrestling competitions (which is what Certamen is) can be effective in the short term, but there are more effective ways of achieving the final goal.


An effective way for a Tremere to use Certamen is not to use it on his own behalf, but to champion others, in exchange for some consideration. Are you from a spring covenant being bullied by a more powerful nearby rival? Some Tremere might be very happy to take offense at the shabby treatment you are suffering, and offer to champion your cause.

His terms might not be onerous at all, because modern Tremere take the long view. That spring covenant, allowed to mature, will be a strong force in the Order 50 years from now, and they will remember House Tremere in a good light, recognizing their steady leadership and sense of fair play. No need to ask for their votes: That covenant will soon find that other magi consider them an ally of their champion. No need to ask for favors: Their Tremere champion might even periodically drop by to offer them to participate in various endeavors, either profitable or morally worthy. It would be churlish, of course, for the younger magi to fail to show proper appreciation.

The more powerful covenant can find an excuse to avoid Certamen, of course, but that puts them in a difficult position, because aside from Certamen, you never face just one Tremere magus.

I very much like the idea of Certamen, but, as usual, I'm tempted to tweak the rules..... :slight_smile:



And how about this:

They still have a single speaker at Tribunal, called a Tribune. (HoH:TL) Even if there's a resident exarch, there's no reason for him or her to actually be the Tribune. Legally, the magi of the Tribunal free proxy their votes to the Tribune, to give him or her bloc negotiating and voting power. The leader at Tribunal meetings doesn't need to be the exarch, just because he's the leader of the magi in the Tribunal.

There's nothing which says how Tribunes are appointed. Personally I presume they are selected by the exarch.

Free proxying of Tremere sigils to the local Tribune is a custom of the house, but is only technically a custom of that house, it's not written up in peripheral code that it must occur and that other houses must respect that Tremere sigils are off limits.

Tremere magi challenges certamen demanding the other magi's vote.
Other magi demands return condition of the Tremere's vote.
Tremere magi says that's impossible due to house custom.
The other magi tells the Tremere that in that case he had better win or he's going to be embaressed when his Tribune comes asking for sigils.

Logically the Tremere claim on the proxy of their members is no stronger than the right of other magi from other houses to proxy where they will or vote where they will. If votes are subject to challenge by certamen at all then so are Tremere votes. Just the Tremere speciality in certamen makes them more likely to win. The 4th edition and earlier rules in having all sigils held by an elder magi who gets to vote with them and won't give them back except after they are won by certamen seems to have been dropped in 5th edition, presumably because only magi who live in a Tribunal can have their sigils used there, so all those sigils held elsewhere by the elder magi would have been a wasted resource of the house, weakening it politically.

The only real practicality in the Tremere saying their sigils are off limits is the question of how far in advance sigils are pledged. Do the Tremere proxy their sigils the the local Tribune as soon as they move into the area or is it done just before the tribunal in question? Do they actually hand the sigils over to the Tribune in your game, or do they just vote as instructed. In the scenario I gave above the Tremere who has unwisely challenged and lost his sigil cannot then proxy it later, but can only happen if the Tremere sigils are held by the magi until the Tribunal rather than long term.

False premise.

You can't demand a sigil by winning Certamen: that was banned after the Sundering, when the Tremere used to do that sort of thing. So your argument, and that of the original poster, falls apart at this point.

You can't challenge for votes via certamen, though. It's illegal. You -can- challenge on -issues- and resolve those -issues-, but no, you can't challenge for votes. The challenge for sigils within House Tremere just means that the Tremere magus's free proxy is no longer given to the previous consilliarus, if successful. A Tremere magus can, in theory, refuse to free proxy his vote at any time. He would be thrown out of the House and would likely be Marched, but that's not because what he's doing is illegal, it's because Tremere magi would find it offensive, and Hermetic Law allows you to delcare War on someone whenever you like for offenses as small as you like.

No: it's the same, with the wrinkle that the guy who holds your sigil loans it out so that its not wasted.

GotF names the tremere magi who own all the sigils. Two of them IIRC. In the Rhine tribunal ofc, not the other ones.

I'm not sure ... You obviously read the text in TL differently from how it reads to me. Does that make my interpretation false?

A sigil and a vote is a code protected issue, yet on p55 of TL it discusses certamen and says "If a magus believed he had been challenged to a certamen over a Code protected issue, he might refuse it. ... If a challenge is mutually accepted no Tribunal appeal is possible." This to me implies that magi can choose to gamble their protected rights if the stake matching it on the other side is worth it.

The only thing I see that might exclude it is Voting rights on p49/50 that makes clear that magi must use their vote wisely and that accepting bribes or deal for how you vote is banned. However the very principle of the free proxy puts the onus on the magi holding the sigil to vote wisely, not the one who has given the proxy. Which to me still leaves open the possibility that certamen could be used to gamble over who holds free proxy with the other mages votes, no deal, no payment.

My understanding from p48 of TL is that the Tremere magus now decides who holds his sigil.

Certain other assumptions I make that are not based on written evidence:
a) that a magus who moves to a new tribunal would ask for his sigil back and then choose a new person to proxy to on arriving in a new tribunal rather than the magi moving and the tribune holding it currently making arrangements to ship it himself to whoever the tribune chooses in the new tribunal.
b) that offical tribunes are not always able to attend tribunal and the local house structure would make a decision on who was in charge in the run up to each tribunal gathering

Which leads me to my view that when exactly tremere magi hand over their sigils to the current designated voter is not clearly stated in the text and that the tremere magi might hold on to their own sigils for quite a bit of the time as opposed to the scenario that they never get to hold onto their own sigils until they are promoted to the rank of Tribune.

All told though Tremere would suffer the most if they made a deal to gamble their proxy and lost.

The quote in GotF that I find interesting is p109, "Severicus ... hold his own sigil, and controls about two-fifths of the sigils of the other Tremere magi"

That is far clearer than the quote on p84 "Stentorius ... administers about three-fifths of the sigils of the Tremere magi."

The word use of 'controls' and 'administers' for other magi's sigils, but 'hold' their own somewhat confirms for me my view that the Tremere magi hold their own sigils but listen to instructions from one of the two local bosses on who to proxy to.


Depends upon how post-modern you are, since Timothy had something to do with writing the text. :smiley:



It might do. I believe your interpretation is false in the vanilla setting.

No, see, your interpretation doesn't make sense here in actualy use:

Fred of Jerbiton : "I will wager my vote on issue X against a queen of vis!"
Bob of Tremere: "That's not enforceable."
Fred "Come on, you loser!"
Bob beats him.
Fred "I was lying: I'm not going to vote as I said I would!"

This leaves Bob with the options of sucking it up, or declaring Wizard's War, and what Fred's done is completely legal, because Fred is not appealing to the Tribunal - Bob is, and the Tribunal will say that wagering your vote is wrong.

Not just banned: it's a High Crime. That is: it has a death penalty attached.

My understanding from p48 of TL is that the Tremere magus now decides who holds his sigil.
In law he does: in practice his consilliarus directs his choice.

b) is false: the person who speaks at the Tribunal is the Tribune. They have no other role. You may be mixing Tribunes and Exarchs, here. The Exarch runs the House in a region, and selects the Tribune. They are often the same person, but need not be, IMO.

They might hold the sigil-as-object, sure. THey hold their sigil-as-object for a few seconds when they are first made into magi, and then give it to their consilliarus. And sure, they might hold the sigil-object when they travel. This is completely different from them using the sigil-as-vote in an independent way.

Yes, they'd have failed to do a basic thing all Tremere are required to do, which is proxy their votes are required by House Tradition. That's grounds for all kihnds of punishment, possible expulsion and possible extermination.

So I don't see why they'd wager that loss of face.

If your point is that legally they -could- then, maybe they can in a completely consentual match in some Tribunals. It seems weird to me and looks liike a High Crime, but in Normandy particularly I could see magi making dumb bets and fighting it out instead od proper legal procedures, because of the Tytalus influence on the Tribunal's Peripheral Code. I don't see why any Tremere actually -would- though, and I don't see why anyone would mistake this for a properly functioning legal body. Tribunals aren't a game, for most magi. They are perfectly serious.

It's like saying a member of my Parliament could wager his vote with a member of the other side over a hand of canasta. Sure he could: there's no financial inducement, so its legal. It would however be a really stupid thing to do, and if he was a Labor member it would end his career because they block vote. And so, no, it doesn't happen.

Ah, as I only have the text to go on and it can obviously be misunderstood by players like me who didn't know the intentions of the writers when they wrote it, that's why we have these discussions to firm up our understanding. :smiley:

So even though not abiding by certamen terms is also a crime, and there is a clear implication in the text that mutually agreeing to certamen widens it's legal scope, you think the Tribunal would not support it. Fair enough.

And my point is still that it is the one carrying out the vote that has to vote wisely under threat of High Crime, not the one giving the proxy. If giving free proxy to someone who misused it lands the magi giving the proxy with a death penalty, then one case of corruption by a Tribune could lead to a dozen Tremere being executed who had done nothing wrong.

So a Tribune who is sick, in twilight or too recently deceased for a new Tribune to be appointed would mean the block of votes are lost? Sometimes they cannot physically get there for reasons beyond their control, surely there must be a mechanism for that?

That really is was what I was trying to say, that if it is at all legal then it would be the Tremere who would get in most trouble if they agreed to it. The other part of my first post was replying to the original poster who plays a Tremere by making the point that if it is legal for a Tremere to challenge another magi for his vote at all, then the magi being challenged could demand the an equal vote in return as the custom of Tremere block voting isn't legal recognized. The Tremere would be better off to drop the challenge at that point.

Sure, the Exarch just picks someone else.

But that takes time, and if the Tribune was nobbled by his political opponents a week before the Tribunal, then getting a message to the nearest Exarch would take too long. The political opponents would only have to incapacitate one man to remove the entire Tremere block of voting.

If a house as organized as Tremere can't find a magus with teleportation, flight, Haunt of the Living Ghost or a carrier pigeon familiar to send the message, I'd be surprised.

Which is why they don't wait until it happens to think of it.

Tremere are planners. Vocabulary term for you - "contingency planning". (They thought of this already - I just know it.) 8)