I mulled it over and I think I have a "clean" solution. In 4th edition, Tremere have the No Sigil flaw and yet this did not carry over into 5th edition. Furthermore, the True Lineages book also heaps further obligation on members of the House that other magi do not have. Perhaps, change the House "benefit" to be Minor Magical Focus (certamen), the FLAW no sigil and choice of a minor hermetic virtue to offset that penalty like say a puissant art?
There's a difference between Mysteries and specializations. I've always viewed mysteries as being based around a belief, tradition or cult like behaviour. The Tremere are portrayed as having a strong secular slant which would certainly manifest against cult-like practices. The House's doctrine could certainly act as the tradition of the House that could evolve to a mystery but then, wouldn't all Tremere be part of that? The Pyramid is represented by the status one holds within the House (i.e. no sigil, sigil, tribune, exarch, legate, primus). As for Marcus, Octavian disagrees with him on a few points, just not enough to challenge him on it since he'd probably lose the duel anyway.
The rest is game mechanics where I hardly care about although I do have some concern on the concept of grogs becoming an uber army of legendary soldiers. YR7 brought up the point that where is all this vis coming from, and who is brewing all these potions? That's a lot of time. Reserving them for all companions I think is fine, grogs ... by that point should maybe be considered having hit companion status. Again, that's my bias against power creep.
My 2 cents for abilities:
Since you give more XP than usual, you can also ask that, for exemple, at least xx points for apprenticeship goes out to Academic and General abilities. Likewise, that, out of the 40 yearly XP, at least 05-10 points (no more than 10 IMHO) goes to them.
Younger magi: You can use the anime trope of youth energy and exuberance vs elder experience. For exemple, say, you want your average magus to be 10 years out of gauntlet.
You could have younger magi get 2 confidence points per year before 10. Magus 5 years out of apprenticeship get self-confident for free. Magus fresh out of gauntlet get it twice. That gives you a carrot: A young, "baby" magus would have Confidence 3, with 27 confidence points (3 base +2 self confident, +2 self confident, +20 younger magus). I'd suggest allowing young magi to replace 1 self-confident free virtue with the Luck minor virtue.
If you feel like you should have an additionnal stick, instead of piling on warping, you could say that, for exemple, every 5-10 years after that 10-years limit, a magus would gain 1 free flaw point, half of these being hermetic (round that up). So a magus 50 years out of gauntlet in that same saga would start with 8 or 4 additionnal flaw points, half of them being hermetic.
This is done at a very quick glance, but you get the idea.
I think this could potentially allow these 2 vvery different characters to coexist in the same saga: One character is young, bold, inexperimented, while the other is vastly more powerful but saddled by life's turmoil and hardship.
I'm not keen on the Confidence-pumping for younger Magi. I don't have any objection to playing Magi who were "accelerated" through Apprenticeship (there are no rules against it; they have to have 15 seasons of training, not 15 years before the Gauntlet), though they'd take a hit to their XP.
I have taken everything under advisment, and within a few days I will post a revised proposal for HR's.
What's important is that I want everyone to be able to keep the characters they currently have, or optionally create something new. Hell, I personally see no reason why you can't have multiple characters, but as to how we will work this out is a subject for discussion.
What is even more important is that I want to discuss with you guys where you want to take the story from here. Where do you want to pick up from? What loose ends need to be tied and which subplots would you prefer to be discarded? So far I have used up over half of the Covenant Hooks and individual Story Flaws. What needs to be touched on before going back to the top of the list?
If you are worried about power creep, then this is not the saga for you. Power has already crept up there, and some of your enemies as a covenant were designed with fifteenth magnitude might scores and higher from the very beginning.
As for the grogs, this is what I want and is the core of the concept of this covenant. And yes, grogs can progress to Companion status. Also note that "Grog" and "Companion" are terms we players use. In game, there is no such distinction used in vocabulary. Indeed, there could be a situation where a grog outranks a companion in social status.
And I did the math, calculations are posted somewhere around here. Only one or two new LP's a year is not that geat an expense. What? 6 to 12 pawns? We spend that much on our Aegis alone. And we spend vis to heal our grogs. Never leave your soldiers hanging, never leave a man behind. This covenant has a very militaristic organization, and we place a high importance on veteran's benefits.
And as Arawn pointed out, it is an investment well worth it. We are not spending vis on green nubes. All of our soldiers are experienced veterans before being recruited/accepted. It takes $$$ to attract the top talent.
Now, once your characters reach the rank of Masters at the covenant, you may wish to revise our rules concerning this. That is perfectly legit, and can lead to some interesting stories (like how do the soldiers deal with having their benefuits cut? Will they quit? Will they be lured to other covenants as officers?).
Vares would sooner work out a Mystery into which the Grogs/Companions can be Initiated which would impart the Unaging Minor Virtue (which Vares already possesses, making it much easier to devise an appropriate Initiation Script). Combined with excellent living conditions, it greatly extends life expectancy by decades, allowing even an "ordinary" (i.e. non-Supernatural affiliated--though once they had the Virtue, that would change) human to reach around the century mark without diminishment. And without gaining Warping! So we could have ninety year-old warriors with the body of a thirty-year old and all those extra decades of experience.
Vares has numerous personal matters to which he must attend. His Familiar is at the top of the list. He's working on his Alchemical Mystery, his research into fertility magicks, actively endeavouring to establish a Gifted dynasty, and has many different personal projects. He still owes Favors to Fuego which could be called upon at any time. There's the Provencal situation which interests him much more than you as an SG, so that's more in the background.
We still have the whole Summoning to complete, with wherever that may lead.
I confess I haven't kept up with a lot of the recent discussion as I've been moving about with 'another' deployment. But I'm settled at least for the nonce in Afghanistan right now. I'll try and review/catchup in the near future!
I'm on mailing lists for Bryn Gwlad, Ansteorra, and Æthelmearc. When I move again, I'll probably get on the new kingdom's mailing list (and barony, if they have a list), even though I'm pretty inactive.