Motivate My Tremere

I am sure this goes without saying, but having discovered that my players have in the past checked this forum, “My players, stay out.”

I have been implored to return to my Ars Magica campaign which floundered largely through a lack of plot. The action reasons and problems are many, and so I’m going to try to do more prep work before restarting the game to address some of the issues. Unfortunately, a lot of the problem comes down to GM-block, so I am calling upon the learned scholars of these forums for ideas and inspiration. You may well see this introductory text on multiple threads. I appreciate your patience if so.

The game is set in Provencal around 1201, in a quiet little covenant trying to come out of its long winter and into a new spring.

We have established that one of the villains of the game is Juno of Tremere, Exarch, Praeco and Quaeistore. She’s in a battle with the local Guernicus for control of the Tribunal.

But I have no idea why. So far, the best motivation I have is “because she’s evil” which is just slightly better than, “because I need a villain.”

What does she want to do with that power?

Please, help me brainstorm. Throw out ideas, the bigger and wackier the better. I don’t want reasonable. I want Greek/Shakespearian Tragedy. Once she has consolidated power within the Tribunal, what is she going to do?

Both a Tremere and a Quasitore? Nice trick.

I can't help but feel you are partly contradicting your previous position by the above plea, and/or that the above belies your previous claims. So, my first suggestion would be to go back to the thread on "When Plot Hooks Go Wrong", and read every else's advice from your newly-found less theoretical position.

But I'll emphasize one point here...

You don't need to. Not until just before the Player Characters are going to find out, anyway. Unless she's advertising her (actual!) reasons, you don't need to know. As I've argued so often before, a good Story Guide can pick up any number of perfectly good suggestions by listening to the fears and speculations of their players, as they sit around the table and chat. Not the same session, not "on the fly", but over weeks as they slowly peel back the glass onion of villainous puppets being controlled by still-more-villainous puppeteers.

During this process, any half-clever Players will guess, and play "what if?", and toss out their worst fears, and so on. Since it's doubtful they'll never cast a Pose the Silent Question on the Villain, they'll be slowly building up their own collection of theories loooong before they choose to do something about it. As you go, start to pick your favorite(s), or meld several, and keep spinning the tale from there until you, with their unwitting help, narrow in on the final "actual" answer.

For now, the fact that she wants to, and that this desire is perhaps standing in the way of the Player Covenant improving, and that she is much, MUCH bigger both politically and Hermetically than the PC's, should be enough.

Let them tell you what they fear most, and work off that. Nothing you can pre-plan would hit them harder.

Perhaps she is angered at the way her House has treated her, she wants to take control of the Tribunal in a bid to take control of her own house.

Or, she is actually a Deidne descendant and she is trying to create a place where her people can flourish. (I mean, a Tremere Deidne, wow my head spins)

She has a higher purpose, she wants to bring the covenants of the order in line with clearly defined boundaries. No-more squabbling over vis supplies, she will decide who owns what and they have to live with it. Once these petty concerns have faded the order will go on to greater prosperity and power. (with her in charge)

She is a descendant of Tremere himself, she wishes to carry out his (failed) dream of controlling the entire order. Perhaps the house are backing her, perhaps when they find out they will try to stop her...

A few crumbs for you :wink:

She will khm ... remove some magi from a choosed tribunal and fill their places with Tremere settlers from Transylvania. This will happen during about 5-7 seven years. This process will be suspicious to other magi even not knowing she is the offender but she will observe the case as quesitor and will find everything ok. Than after a hot debate she will kill the leader of the covenant during wizard war.
The reason can be something in the covenant with non-hermetic power. Maybe this place was of the druids before. Perhaps a megalitic altar stone is there and the tremeres found notes about it some years ago with a ritual how to contact with it. After human sacrifices an old spirit (a god?) may teach you ... powerful spontaneic magic? Old druidic rituals what cannot have hermetic limits? A warping-free long life? A way becoming a demi-god? Erasing magical flaws? But it can happen the spirit simply lies.
Or she simply just want filling the tribunal with Tremeres.

Awesome stuff, folk, keep it coming!

Tremere politics. Having a strong control of a tribunal is a must (IMHO) to bid for control of the house. She is hjust building his iron control of the tribunal to demonstrate to his peers that she will be an awesome candidate for house leader. Goliard of Tremere, for example might object and be a rival in his challenge (and even help the players from Stonehenge if she thinks they mights hinder her rival!) and there might be 1-4 more tremeres in the race as well. I would limit it to 4 candidates. Bettwer if the house leader (damn, can't recall the actuall name of the job!!!) is expected to enter final twilight in less than 20 years. This is the period (3 tribunals) that magi can expect to manoeuvre for house control.

What else? She just likes power. I do, and I am in a much smaller position of power! :wink: Power has a special nice sound to it. Benefits for your friends, and pain for the people you dislike.

It is a chess game. She acts according to the dictates of a chess game she is plaing with her parens/rival/friend/fae queen. It is part for her bit for archemagehood.

A fae queen has ensnared her and is using the mega-tremere as a tool herself!!!

She is in a bad mood because her boiled eggs for breakfast were past the cooking point each time she mets the players. She is a nice chap the rest of the time. Or it rains each time she mets the players, with the same overall result since she hates water (deficiency?)

She is losing face in front of rivals in the house/tribunal/grand tribunal/ex-lovers and needs to demonstrate that she is still mean and powerful. And the PCs are paying for the broken furniture.

She is redhead. Redheads have a temper.



I know five redheaded women in my life. I've dated two of them and am friends with three others. Three of them are stepchildren. This is more than enough motivation by itself...


Seriously, though. Who says she is a criminal? Look for the "right vs. right" scenario:

Too much fighting over vis? She is working to reduce that conflict by limiting new or revived covenants, working to write certain boundaries and conditions into the Perifieral Code for the Tribunal

Maybe she is utterly convinced (rightly or wrongly) that two of your players's parens were harboring Diedne magi and your players Are Not To Be Trusted (but she is a Tremere Queasitor, so her activities are flawless). She believes (again, up to you whether this is actually correct) that all Deidne were diabolists of one stripe or another and will prosecute any infraction vigorously.

Somehow, the players covenant is somehow bad for other covnenants or her House. The covnenant Aegis ritual has an unfortunate side effect of causing blight to appear randomly in the crops of other older covenants in the Tribunal. Perhaps she will be able to secure a peace deal with the most powerful Fae court in the Tribunal only after the number of covenants is reduced by one or two (Nonagression, no Fae vis harvesting in particular areas, and the Fae agree to pay a rook of Rego vis to each remaining covenant every year).

Maybe she's possessed? You mention that she is a Quesitor. Maybe she seriously botched a Perdo Vim spell in the pursuit of diabolists and dropped her Parma. She was possessed by very powerful demon as a result. The real her keeps trying to get out and leaves little hints somehow for the players.


I don't have a bad temper, dammit!!! :laughing:
You're out to get me today, Verticius.

Some possible reasons:

  • Simply for fun (she has a couple of decades to waste, so why not play political for a while)
  • Personal vendetta against the Guernicus. He spurned her love at some point, now she's decided to get even for it... (Or he could simply have insulted her, beaten her in certamen, or whatever...)
  • It is the first step of her plan (hints to the plan may be found in her sanctum). Step 2 is gaining controll of the grand tribunal... Step 3 is the mundane world, and then she wants to...

Here's a few ideas.

She is the unknowing pawn of someone with truly sinister intentions. This person could be the Guernicus' best friend like Iago from Othello methodically planting seeds of dissension between two people. Iago was doing it because he hated Othello. You could supply that person with any motivation for hatred.

A prophet told her that if she does gains control of the house (insert ridiculous promise here) will happen. She will gain fame, fortune, immortality. She will gain beauty. Maybe she's hideous. Gaining control of the house is just a means to an end. She doesn't even want it, really. It's more fun if you make the prophecy really crazy. If you want it to end very badly for her, read Mac Beth.

She was in love with the local Guernicus and he dumped her so she's doing this out of spite. She doesn't just want him to lose, she wants him to be humiliated. A good classic reference for going way too far with your revenge would be Medea.

Hope that's helpful. Good luck with your story!

I love this.

A good tremere, she could also be trying to unite the tribunal in order to prepare it for a war, be it with the Order of Suleiman, Odin, or the Mongols (she could have foreseen it through a Premonition, for exemple). She could be right about this, or it could just be a delusion ("the Order of Odin is gonna crush you all!!!!). So, yeah, she might be conscious she's upsetting everyone, but it might be "for the greater good".
She could even just be in competition with another tribunal over contested ressources and such, and trying to get the upper hand through a tight reign on her own tribunal: Imagine the grand tribunal, when she presents an orderly and lawful tribunal, next to "these chaotic barbarians"

On another hand, she could be a diabolist working for her master: If she makes things subtly and gradually more and more difficult for the covenants in her aera, maybe these will turn to sin and hell instead. Hell, even a little degree of misery for everyone is good, as this leads to anger, and anger leads to Ball of Abysmal Flame. If there are too much restrictions on vis harvesting, what when the magus discovers they can create vis by desacrating holy items?

Don't ignore the motivation of politics. You can only play the game for so long before the game starts to play you. Maybe your tremere has been so into the tribunal/house/order politics for so long that getting out of the game is simply not possible for her. The only option is to carry on accumulating power, gathering allies, destroying foes and clawing your way to the top.

You see this in RL the way certain government insiders never really go away, they just keep coming back in new positions.

I could easily see a group of old, jaded and powerful magi all striving against one another (within the laws of the order) to gain more and more power. Not for an end in itself but just because they have lost the ability to be any other way.

Having your characters finally defeat said enemy only for another old, jaded magus to take her place and start doing the exact same thing would be a dark reminder of the corruption of power.

Maybe she thinks that that Guernicus is evil and she needs to have a firm hand on the Tribunal before she feels she can safely expose him. Being a Quaesitor herself, she may have had some (incorrect?) insight into the Hidden Plan Of House Guernicus (TM) and now thinks she has to Save The Order From Itself.

She may just see other magi like irresponsible children, and think a tribunal under her control is for the best. A little like a little-too-present mother.

Before we start, I want to make one thing absolutely clear.

I love the Tremere.

My history with the Tremere goes back a long way, and I know I'll catch a lot of flak from a lot of persons by saying so, but for me, separating house Tremere from its meta-history, from their humble beginning in Mark Rein-Hagen's early scribblings to their eventual end in V:tM, is a sad, sad loss.

I imagine House Tremere as a bit of an office mascot for people involved in a lot of different game system. In my saga, House Tremere will eventually make the fateful decision of becoming vampires, raging against the dying of the light. It's just too good to leave out. Sure, it raises a lot of questions about ArM "becoming" V:tM (which I'm not terribly keen on), but there are quadrillion ways to handle them. My point is, when looking at individual Tremere and their motivations, I always start by looking at their dramaturgical qualities over time.

Tremere are faustian characters. Their role is the epitome of ends justifying means. Throughout, their history is dotted with instances of their ambition driving them towards their goal so hard that they risk (and often end up) loosing themselves in the process. They personify a moral.

Given that, I'd say your Tremere has some sort of grand plan, a goal that really would benefit everyone. It could be a lofty thing, like plotting to put the OoH as rulers of mundane society or something baser. So far all is good. Then, something inevitably happens that makes the the goal harder to attain. Maybe all Magi don't agree that the OoH should rule the world. Maybe something even more serious. The classical role of the Tremere would be to step up and utilise his/her ambition to see what kind of options are open. The further it goes the more drastic the actions will be. At first they might be political scheming, but could quickly evolve inte actions that might damage the order to a lesser degree (controlling certain key members and upsetting the semi-democracy of the tribunals, for instance).

This is were it becomes interesting. If a group of younger magi were to stumble onto that plot, there would be no doubt as to the suspicion and supposed "evilness" of the person behind the conspiracy. The enacting Tremere sees this, but also sees the larger dimension of the whole plot, and might, correctly, assume that, given a choice, these meddling magi (no pun intended :slight_smile: ) could possibly agree with her and/or help her in her quest. The Tremere though has neither time nor the need for more people helping her, and so leaves a red herring for them and hopes that Mulder and Sc.. er.. the magi follow it to god knows where.

Hope you get something out of the above. Whenever I read "Tremere", I read "misunderstood champion of the order" (tounge in cheek).

All the above are my own musings, and I do not claim them to be canon, even though they are canon to me :wink: .

HA!! See what happens when somebody with the meddler major personalit flaw rises to a position of power? :wink:



:laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Excellent :laughing:

Oh, this is all great stuff, people. It's giving me a lot to think about.

The other major storyline I'm kicking around is a diabolist one. I'm not sure I want to bring them together, but the idea of her having reason to suspect there are diabolists working out in the country side and bringing the tribunal under her thumb is the "best" way to prepare for them is attractive.

Although I do want to keep it more personal, mainly because that makes it easier for me to run.

Hmm... maybe she wants to control this Tribunal so she can use it to declare war on another Tribunal? Maybe the Primus of Tremere is slipping in his job and this is the only way she can take control. Or maybe the Primus spurned her and so she's going to take her toys and go home, so to speak.