I'm wondering how the house would deal with a magus who somehow developed this Virtue -- either during apprenticeship, or after his gauntlet. On the one hand, it's a great asset for the House: no need for vis for all those D:Mom Creo Rituals. On the other hand, it's also a fundamental flaw: it attracts demonic attention like a magnet (though the House may not realize it, at least not immediately), it makes the character far less capable of benefiting from and contributing to the knowledge of the House, and, perhaps most importantly, it makes the magus an asset useless for a lot of activities that require [strike]sinning[/strike] a pragmatic approach.
Well, the Tremere are pragmatic enough that they'll give the sinning jobs to somebody else. Being a Holy Magus isn't incompatible with the goals of House Tremere (prepare for bad times, encourage magi to behave like civil human beings), and there's lots of jobs a Holy Magus can do under that organization - any magical need that requires operating in a Dominion is a good choice for a Holy Magus.
That said, vis-free casting sounds great until you look deeper under the hood, and the Tremere are the worst candidates for it.
First, learning the spell. Did I say learn? I mean invent, because you won't find lots of Lab Texts for holy magic versions of most ritual spells. And since the magus' MMF will be in Certamen, they'll basically need Te+Fo = Target level to invent a spell in 2-3 seasons (their excess comes from Holy Magic + Int + Magic/Dominion Aura + Lab bonuses). And they'll have a hard time getting their arts up due to a lack of summae/tractatus in arts made for holy magic practitioners (this is a character that should study from vis). Note that a late-career Tremere that converts to Holy Magic has this a lot better, as he can re-invent spells with his higher overall arts.
Now, on to casting that ritual magic spell. No Artes Liberales or Philosophae adding in, just Method/Power - assuming they have a Method/Power. So that's probably at least -4-6 off their casting total, with another -15 likely unless they have high Presence + Theology to bypass it (or Method/Power, or something like Performance Magic). So having around -20 on casting total a lot of the time is a problem when your needed Te+Fo was already inadequate to invent the spell quickly.
It's not impossible, but it is hard without a tradition to support it. My first response to a Holy Magus would be to send them off to the Priory of St Nerius for 20-40 years to build their arts and learn from lab texts and evaluate the usefulness of Holy Magic to House Tremere. They're fond of having a variety of tricks in their pocket, and a Holy Magus is well suited to operating in high Divine auras/regiones.
I agree that the House's likely response would be to ask, "How can this unusual resource best be used?" The Holy Tremere would then be sent to a Tribunal where that sort of magic would be useful, and where Tremere needs more representation.
The Peruchia of Nerius in the Hibernia Tribunal is actually an excellent suggestion, because that covenant is dying for lack of new blood, Tremere is poorly represented in Hibernia, and the Holy magus would have access to laboratory texts and books designed by and for Holy magi. If Tremere and the new magus play their cards right, he could end up in charge of that covenant within a decade or two. This would further the House's goal of reforming the peripheral code in Hibernia.
On the other hand, a female Tremere with Holy Magic might be sent to join the Ladies of Thessaloniki, in the Theban Tribunal. House Tremere is under-represented here for entirely different reasons, but a Holy maga would be able to help reform the image of the House in Thebes and rely on the Christian charity of her sisters at the covenant to give her a fair shake. Again, she would have access to books and teachers useful to Holy maga.
With both of these examples, the Holy mage is more or less exiled from the usual organization of House Tremere. Now, that's unusual for Tremere, but it's not unusual for PCs, who are exceptions almost by definition. The contrast between the rigorously structured and highly organized House and the unusual PC is exactly what gives the character drama and exactly what makes it fun for a player to play.
PS: I'm sure there are other covenants of Holy magi in the other Tribunals, but these were the only two I could recall.
Leaving mechanics and magic styles aside, I do not suggest this path. If I was running the saga, a Holy Tremere would be marginalized and maybe even ostracized by his House.
Also, I hesitate to ask,
But what sort of Holy? Christian? Catholic or Orthodox? Jewish? Islam?
Is the player able and willing to play up the Faith without resorting to stereotype? Is this an experiment in concept or a power grab?
I would definitely envision some sort of "conflict", when the House says "Do " and the Holy magus answers "Sorry, no!". You know, army vs. conscientious objector I was just wondering if House Tremere would kick the magus out (by Wizard War, Orbushood etc.), or would swallow it up, tolerate the insubordination, and make do with what they have.
The actual faith is less relevant than the fact that the character simply can't use his magic to sin (and probably isn't willing to sin by other means either). What sinning means varies a bit by actual faith but always includes a large fraction of activities that the Tremere would expect members of the House to do. You know, ends justifies the means.
It was just an idea that was tossed around at the table, for a very challenging character to play. What we weren't sure about was whether it would be tolerated at all.
The actual faith is very relevant to roleplaying the character. Otherwise we are discussing a mechanical build for power which renders the discussion moot.
And in my mind, the breakdown isn't wjat said character would be unwilling to do. If I was a Tremere, watching another Tremere going through ceremonies and living a "holy" lifestyle would offend me in and of itself. And once he starts preaching/witnessing/etc; I might Certamen or Wizard War him just to shut him up.
To a Tremere, bending to any faith is a sin. Gods are an annoying contraption that serve no utility and seek only to exploit mortals.
Oh, I agree that the actual faith is very relevant to roleplaying the character. But it's rather irrelevant to the point we are discussing here. Namely, whether House Tremere would tolerate a member whose magic would simply not go against his faith, and who would probably refuse to go against his faith in any other way too.
Well, note that the Holy character need not be so flagrant about his faith. He could be living it humbly without preaching or ceremonies. But you are right: the House would not like it. Not one bit: it's insubordination, after all.
The point is, however, how far the House would go. Sure, they would never allow him to "go up the ranks". Sure, they would deny him all the "special assistance" the House offers. Sure, they would ask of him other tasks that are compatible with his faith, but far more onerous and possibly degrading. But if he takes all this serenely and "turns the other cheek", while still sternly refusing to sin? Would they declare Wizard War on him? Cast him out of the House? It's not a rethorical question, I could see it going either way. That's why I was asking you.
I suppose we have different views on the Tremere. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems you see them as totoitarian fascists. That's okay, many people do. Holdover from 4th edition. I see them as something more akin to a cult or religion. Every member, from top to bottom, sincerly belives in the Tremere way. But cultis too strong of a word and religion is not being used in a way most moderns would accept as accurate. I ausing the Roman writer Virgil's definition, wich is an allegiance of association and a code of morals (paraphrased).
So it isn't just his superiors. His peers and subordinates would be against him.
I alsoseethe Tremere as a collection of individuals held together by a shared bond of belief. Your faith threatens that bond. So there isn't just one possible result. There are many that could occur simualtaneously. The loacal exarch may let it slide because she has greater concerns. But your peer might get sick of you thinking you are "better" than him and Certamen you just to humiliate you. The next guy might just slip a dagger between your ribs and say a grog didit, and it gets covered up for the greater good.
I love that book! Read it like five times at least. Read pretty much everything by Heinlien, but that book stands out in my mind as one of his best.
So maybe he has influenced my view of both Houses?
The irony behind my old-school Flambeau preference is that the way I played it is quite similar to the way they are now. I guess I read something much different in the original works of Peter Hentges. I am pro military from a family of vets, and as I understand he was as well. So I took offense to the idea of honorable Flambeau being somehow alternate or new. My main issue with new Flambeau are the changes in history. They took away his name and eliminated his hispanic origin.
My guide for Tremere is the idea "doing the right thing for the wrong reasons." That's why I suggest that the House would not ostracize or even make life difficult for a Holy magus. Instead, they would find a place for him and offer him all the standard help ... But they would do it for reasons which he himself would disagree with. This, to me, is the meat of role playing House Tremere.
Take a look at Against the Dark. These guys can get along with anyone and they have contingency plans for everything. After all, what if that Jerbiton plan to get the Pope to declare magic as part of God's plan is successful? Is House Tremere going to be caught flat footed in that situation? Hell no! A holy magus in the House would find himself a pawn of the House, just like every other member. Whether he welcomes that or resents it is up to the player.
I think House Tremere would give all assistance possible to make the Holy Magus as powerful as possible, JUST to find out the actual limits of Holy Magic in case the House has to deal with it in the future.
I could see the House supporting a holy magus on the principal that is a Tremere and an asset. I can't imagine a Tremere master raising a holy wizard and presenting it to the house.
Likely there would be negotiated boundaries and agreement between the magus and its leadership of the holy wizards future role. That could mean the wizard lives apart from his peers or lives in a co conventional manner (for a magus).
The trouble will come if the magus wants to leave the house. By rights exMisc is a good fit, but I think the house would want that magus under their purview. And the contingency plan wouldn't be subtle.