After a bit of digging around, I reviewed the Certamen rules. I see the various abilities used and the various options (Vis, switching attack/defense etc). Everything is in order, until I was reviewing my character and his supplies...
It occurs to me there isn't ANY mention of Arcane Connections affecting Certamen.
The troupe and I did a quick once over and don't find a resolution to this. We postulated that you could add the multiplier to Totals in the following manner:
Add to the Penetration Score:-- (This seems kind of lame, considering what you really have)
Add the Multiplier to either the Attack or Defense Totals, switching every round if desired (This is a little more crunchy)
Add the Multiplier to Both Attack and Defense totals (Super Crunchy)
Using the multiplier as a multiple would be like using (Parma * 5) instead of just the Parma score...
I'd never really considered the use of Arcane Connections in Certamen. I think you are right there is no mention. Good point.
I think that if I did anything with it as a house rule I'd go for your option one:
However, this will tend to mean that characters who prepare for Certamen against particular opponents by collecting Arcane Connections will be at a significant advantage. This might change which sorts of characters would be keenest on Certamen, how often Certamen champions were used, and which characters would be keenest on avoiding Certamen altogether --- as it is no longer a question of which magus is "best" at the Technique/Form combination. So it might be something to think about for your saga.
Another good option could be to use the existing rules (no use of Arcane Connections in Certamen) but then have some magus invent a Minor Virtue via research that does allow him to add Arcane Connections to his Penetration in Certamen. You could then tell some interesting stories about the rise of a clique (a Mystery Cult?) of magi who are measurably better at Certamen because they have been taught this Virtue. Maybe a Tribunal meeting is derailed by these one-sided Certamen contests? Are these magi Tremere? If not how, do the Tremere feel about their Certamen advantage being eroded, etc...
There is no penetration within a certamen. There also no special need to target your opponent magically. Rather the two combatants cooperatively create the duel cooperatively.
As a result I'm personally pretty comfortable with Arcane connections being inapplicable to certamens. I see the purpose of the duel being to provide a fair contest of magical skill and power. Hedging your bets by using an AC seems counter to the spirit of the endeavor. (as does Tremere certamen focus which I've house ruled in my game do to some persuasive arguments on this board).
So what do you do for the Tremere instead? Just say they don't actually have any special training or ability in Certamen and give them some other virtue? Do you disallow other folks' magical foci from applying even if the imagery of the duel is relevant?
We do allow magical foci to apply, though. if you are in a creo ignem duel and your focus is fire you can easily claim your focus, for example. You are simply very good at firee stuff, so you are good at it fighting in a creo ignem fuel if you chose correctly. Same with creo animal and wolf focus, for example: it does not aplky if you are stupid enough to create the image of a bull as your contender, but if you manipulate the uillsuionto be thjat of a wolf, yeah, no problem at all with the wolf focus applying.
I'd probably house rule an exception for Mythic Blood, but yes it is definitely a limit on their ability to take other foci. However, I don't think that is crippling them. Its not like Magical Focus is vastly better than any other virtues they might have.
I have mixed feelings about the removal of the Certamen ability. Overall, I think its a good thing. Too many players in my experience would just not develop it unless grudgingly forced to. So they wouldn't want to be part of Certamen. Now, a lot more of my players feel like their character is competive in such a contest. The tremere virtue is a tricky thing. It can be totally irrelevant or simply devastating depending on how the Arts selection goes. I see good and bad points to that methodology, personally.
I certainly disagree that House Flambeau is being artificially weakened. Frankly, I think they are vastly better off now than they were before. Game mechanics power wise, I think its a wash. Roleplaying wise, I think the House is far more accessible than it was. It was really hard to get players past the "Ugh, me Flambeau. Me like destroy things" stereotype.
Be careful, you are tangling with the one known as that Flambeau guy
I will spare roasting you for your herisies, for you didn't know any better. But you, my friend, are one of the people of which I speak; wanting to punish the House for the past. I only play Huse Flambeau, I have always played House Flambeau, and even back in 4th edition, none of my characters or fellow players ever matched that stereotype. Instead, we emulated heros like Iarna and Iniretle and Rulia and Pietro. And of course, Delendar and Reculed.
But I do agree abbout the Certamen ability, it is a mixed blessing. It makes Certamen more relevant and accesible to common magi, but IMHO, it also dilutes it a tad bit.
I know who you are and I do know better. I've been playing the game since early in 3rd edition and even own the OTE I used to be on the Berklist, too. Whoo hoo for me.
I am well aware that the stereotype is not the entirety of the House. But it is definitely the most common image that the older sourcebooks present, even with counter examples like Rulia and Istaff (who are generally presented as "not like the rest"). Comments about House Flambeau meetings being like "a gathering of assassins" and the like were distinctly unhelpful.
I had a player whose character was the very ideal of what is now a milites ignem Flambeau. But the Flambeau material in older editions so turned him off the House he refused to play one and made his character a Jerbiton instead.
Besides, you still haven't explained how getting Puissant Ignem is worse than they were before.
In my gaming group, we always thought the Certamen rules for 4th ed were broken, since the value of this ability was so little in comparison with the rest of the totals. Mainly arts, but also Vis use. Consider a Tremere in 4th ed, with a Certamen Ability of 10 and a +3 Knack. That's a lot, almost as high as you could get back then. But 3 pawns of vis was +15! I know you'd need 3 pawns per round to get this bonus continually. But use 6 pawns at once, in the first round, and you'd have a nice advantage - if not the victory - at once.
IMS I suggested the house rule, that this Tremere Certamen Focus isn't a Focus like the other Magical ones. They're allowed a 'regular' Minor Magical FOcus (only Minor!), but is costs as a Major Virtue.
Hence, they retain their (potential) edge in Certamen, but are allowed a certain leeway towards becoming specialists in a narrow magical field, although at a disadvantage compared to other non-Tremere.
About using Magical Focus in Certamen, how would you define the exact nature of the illusions? Who decides? If two magi end up duelling in Creo Ignem, and one has Focus in 'Igniting Fires' wouldn't the other magus push for a non-fire illusion? Like creating light or heat?
Would it automatically be the chooser of the Technique who decides 'What you're doing' and the chooser of Form who decides 'What with'?
Oh no no no, I gotta stay away from this! Mechanically I think they are better. The Puissant Art works great, and the new option of taking just about any Minor Virtue as a School is even better. And Andrew designed some excellent spells that have become part of my standard repotiore. I just like Peter Henteges writing style. He wrote Iberia and the Flambeau chapter of Houses of Hermes. His prose style inspired my imagination back in the day. But I really don't want to do this anymore.
Back to the Tremere and Certamen though. What if Certamen was once again a supernatural ability? Use all the current Certamen rules, they work great and are actually more exciting than the old rules. A Certamen ability could add to your offense or defense as you decide, and you could learn a special trick for each level, like spell mastery. Penetrate, Resist, Quick Cast; these all have obvious applications
Well, you could provide a link to the old discussion, too. But preferring someone's writing style is hardly a basis for claiming that other folks want to see the Flambeau punished/weakened for supposed past abuses. Allegations that the House is weaker or its roleplaying are inferior now just don't stand up. One might like Delendar better than Laberius, but there's not that much difference in the stories. And there's a lot more support for the Inerelte/Rulia/Istaff type magi in the House.
And if Certamen were back to an ability, it would once again be a near certain waste of xp. When folks' totals are in the +20 to +50 range, an extra few points from an Ability are hardly cost effective. While I don't subscribe to the view that everyone makes rational decisions about character optimization (at least, NPCS don't), it would still be irrational for someone to blow 75xp to get Certamen to a 5. You'd almost always be better off spending that 75xp on adding to your Arts. You might only get a +2 or so, as those points would be split between form and technique, but your overall power would improve. And the modifier difference in Certamen would be pretty small.
And that's with the point where you get the most bang for you buck with the skill. Trying to raise the skill to 10 or the like... ewww.
...ahhh, ...ignoring, ...Flambeau... ...arguments... ...but I know I am right....
But anyway, with a Certamen ability, the score proves useful no matter what TeFo combo you are dueling in. And, if using the special ability option (like spell mastery), it would provide other side benefits. Say my Certamen was 3, with Penetration, Resistance, and Imperturbably as special abilities. So, even if dueling with my worst Arts, I get to add +3 to attack or defense, I add +3 to my Penetration and Resistance totals, and +3 to any concentration rolls I may need to make.
As for certamen as ability, I was actually a little bit disappointed myself in True Lineages that the "schools" of Certamen were not particular abilities, but I'm a big rules mathematics guy and I hate fuzz.
As for Fair, I won't address that..that an "IN GAME" role play thing we can disagree on..
I don't see the problem with that concept. AC's do a wonderful job of giving you an advantage in normal combat, so I don't see why it would not here...I don't see the difference...You are already using the Penetration ability, so the concept DOES apply IMO.
As for a Virtue or some such...
You want to spend all that time getting a virtue (or Mystery) only to have to struggle to get an arcane connection to 'Wizard X'...So you might waste three or four seasons(?) getting the Virtue, then use it...What? Once?
Seems like a waste...
The same comment can be made about any Virtue. I assume that you wouldn't invest the time and effort into getting the Virtue to only engage in certamen once. It would be an investment for a certamen specialist, only; and then the troupe can tell stories about this magus abusing his extra certamen prowness.
As to getting the Arcane Connection, that's a problem (if it is) regardless of whether you anyone can use an Arcane Connection in certamen, or only those with particular virtues. Anyway, surely, it can't be that difficult to get the Arcane Connection, half the problem in obtaining Arcane Connections is locating the target (or things he has made etc). In a certamen match, the person is standing right in front of you!
Either way, whatever mechanism you use to allow Arcane Connections to be used in certamen, I think that you need to think about what the saga consequences would be. Magi are not stupid, if having Arcane Connections is a significant factor in certamen, then magi are going to be wary of engaging in a certamen contest with a character they have not prepared to fight (as that character may have secretly collected an Arcane Connection to the magus), or a character that they know has an Arcane Connection to them. This would devalue the effectiveness of certamen as a way of resolving low-level disputes in the Order. At the very least, it swings the balance of who is good at certamen away slightly from those characters who are good at the chosen technique/form combination.