Intelligence + Order of Hermes Lore or Intelligence + Intrigue should answer the question; since the game is premised on there only being 1200 or so magi in Europe, it's kind of hard for someone to be lying about his house and have nobody able to contradict him. There would likely be some record of his apprenticeship or gauntlet in some Tribunal's records, if not his first vote.
Plus, since all magi must be members of a House or be cast out of the order, I'd say some of them would keep records.
The order is slightly larger in this editrion, IIRC. Around 1500 to 2000 magi, but no biggie here.
Merceres probably keep tabs on magi for sure: you can only send messages to people you kow how they look like and who they are and where. Quaesitores would likely know about this as well, since this regards voting at tribunals.
You can always challenge them to certamen and ask them to answer truthfully the question of who they are if they lose the certamen.
Apart from that not much you can do appart from recalling hearing from them (or identifying a quirk in the character's magic, also a OoH lore roll) or trying to force them to answer your questions.
Yes, but aside from records? Anything intrinsic that would give them away?
I'm talking someone they just met casually, who is claiming to be someone who DOES (or did) exist. Thirteenth century identity fraud, basically. Would there be anything intrinsic in their magic that would give them away?
I'm coming up with histories/story ideas for my elderly magi. I'm kicking around the idea of this guy being "the last survivor" of his original covenant (actually, the real flambeau might be alive and a captive there, or was sacreficed, I haven't decided yet), who's sigil wasn't known because he was still an apprentice, when he offed/arrainged the offing of the others. (I may make the Flambeau an apprentice, too...)
If you make it a matter of Certamen, you would just cast Frosty Breath of the Spoken Lie on the loser as the victor's free spell before demanding a truthful answer. Then if he still lies, he's caught in breach of the certamen contract, his/her personal honour and likely the code itself.
Taking such a stupid risk to persist in a lie in the face of a formal declaration of wizard's war, a bad Hermetic reputation and additional charges brought by the Quaesitors is something most intelligent magi would choose to avoid, IMO.
In general I don't think that there is anything that gives them away. Although it is probably difficult to fake some Houses --- especially the Mystery Cults --- so someone familiar with the House, may be able to spot a fake. It will probably be very difficult to spot someone pretending to be from a mainstream House (or who isn't using the effects characteristic to the House).
The thing that is really problematic is the character's sigil. It's not so much that his sigil identifies his House, but that it identifies him. House Mercere, and probably the Quaisitors, will almost certainly have records of what the character's sigil should be. If it isn't correct (or is shrouded) then clearly something is up.
Your PCs are unlikely to know off-hand what his sigil should be --- unless they have very a high Order of Hermes Lore Ability Score, have met the real character, or have access to spell traces from the real character. But it is something that they can probably discover with a visit to Durenmar or similar. Of course, they need to witness the faker character casting an effect too.
If you just meet a magus saying "Hi, I'm Bob of Flambeau" when he's really Jim of Tytalus then no, I don't think that there is much you can do to tell the difference at a glance.
Everyone except the mystery houses pretty much use hermetic magic the same way. The differences are cultural. A Flambeau wizard would probably spot the impersonation over time, because the guy's probably never been to a Flambeau tourney and may not be familiar with other House specific stuff. But a non Flambeau wouldn't know about that stuff either, so wouldn't necessarily have any reason to be suspicious. Though another Tytalus might catch subtle slips that indicate the guy knows too much about Tytalan activities...
On the other hand, if it is some sort of formal occassion the magus might have to present his sigil (the proof of his identity/membership in the order). That doubtless identifies his house and everything else. Its up to the troupe to decide how often stuff like that happens. Visitors to a covenant may present their sigil upon arrival to establish their right to hospitality or things may be more informal. Its not really spelled out in the sourcebooks.
Having a fake sigil is doubtless some sort of crime.;
You mean a voting sigil? (In case it's unclear I meant casting sigil above).
A voting sigil only identifies who the sigil belongs to "this is the voting sigil of Robert of Flambeau". It doesn't help identify whether or not the person holding the sigil is Robert of Flambeau. It could be stolen or faked.
It's only a physical artifact, so it should be easy to fake...especially if the people you are trying to fool haven't seen the real thing. It's no more difficult than faking the red hat of a redcap.
Perhaps, but it is common (and not a crime) to have the sigil of someone else...and equally common to not have your own sigil in your possession.
For example, Tremere masters hoard the voting sigils of their students, and a representative of a covenant may carry (and vote with) the voting sigils of absent sodales at Tribunal.
No, the Sigil doesn't show that it belongs to the person who carries it (at least, not without illegal scrying magic). And yes, one might happen to have a proxy sigil on you (though I think that would be unusual unless on the way to a tribunal).
But I don't think claiming you are a real magus and supporting that with the display of their voting sigil constitutes proper use and is quite likely to be a Crime. But it would certainly work.
Or you are a Tremere, or you are in the Rhine and have the voting sigil of a "missing" magus.
It is also quite common (I think) for a character to not have his voting sigil with him --- if he is a Tremere who has not yet captured it, or he is a Bjornear without pockets, or he is anyone else who has left it in his Lab etc. So being able to (or not being able to) produce a voting sigil doesn't really prove anything either way.
It's no more a reliable indicator that a person is who they say they are than a red hat is an indicator of a Redcap.
Yes, it's the sort of thing that a Tribunal might decide was a Crime. But I don't think it is obvious that it must be (would it still be a crime if it was done with the permission of the real magus).
Afterall, voting with someone else's sigil seems to be a crime according to the letter of the Oath, but obviously there are Peripheral Code rulings that permit it.
I seem to recall saying that it is up to the troupe to decided how often one needs to formally present one's self as a member of the Order in good standing. It could well be expected when first meeting or it may not.
If they are just bumping into this guy on the road, probably not. On the other hand, if he's stopping at the covenant and asking for hospitality that could be an entirely different matter.
Again, it could be that sigils are carefully locked up and only brought out when at Tribunal or they could be used rather more often. There is hardly any discussion of sigils in the material. I was merely suggesting that one way the Order might work is that sigils are commonly used as proof of magushood in formal situations.
Proxy voting is simply completely unrelated to establishment of identity. The existance of one has nothing to do with the other.
Somehow you suspect that it would be a Tytalus doing this sort of stuff... In fact, Jim may well have carefully cultivated "Bob of Flambeau" as a Persona (see HoH:S) over several years. He could have a fake sigil (both voting and/or spell sigil), a well-developed background story, and other magi could even confirm having met him and that he exists... There's got to be at least one Tytalus in the Order involved in such shenanigans!
OTOH he may find that his "pretended" House reacts, either by moving against him (Wizard's War, or political manoeuvres - eg get him expelled from current House), or by "welcoming" him in -- pretend to be a Flambeau and get welcomed into the Fire...
IMS magi react a strongly and proudly to a Hermetic Lineage as a mundane Noble to another Noble's lineage... and dislike fakes just as much.
Most magi IMS (ie all except isolates) are also properly registered with the Redcaps and Quaesitors at the point when they pass their Gauntlet, and faking id means either impersonating another (real) magus (oops!) or claiming to be a false magus (not any real magus). Neither went down well with other magi; those who were concerned about the status and repuation of the Order got very hot and angry, while others (many Ex Misc) couldn't care...
(I realise that this is a YMMV issue, but that was how we did it).