SCHISM WAR: Some questions on the backstory

I was thinking about the possibilies of running a game set at the time of the Schism War or in an alternate version of Hermetic history where it didn't happen.

And reading the accounts of the time of the war in the HOUSES OF HERMES writeups leaves me with some questions which possibly don't have an answer.

The account in GUERNICUS says that the Primus of Ex Misc did not attend the emergency Grand Tribunal. For some reason not specified he chose not to ride the Mercere network of Hermes Portals to Magvillis,where the Grand Tribunal was to meet, but went by mundane means and did not arrive.

There's no mention of this (infuriatingly) in the Ex Misc writeup. It says the Primus at the time was one Basilicus who had reformed the House towards its original military line up and who lead it to great effect against Diedne in the subsequent war. That account also emphasises that there was considerable hostility and rivalry between the two Houses.

Now I'm wondering if there is anything anywhere to explain why Basilicus and the proxies he carried didn't make it to the tribunal and whether he was going there with the fixed intention of sending Diedne to its doom or could conceivably be intending to work for a compromise peace in which case Tremere and the others of the war party could have delayed him.

IMO the guernicus history entry is rather messy. Not only oin this but because it makes the guernicus look too much like angelic dudes trapped in a world of sorrow. I ended up seeing them as weaklings if I had to take their power from their history. And a moaning bunch to add. I prefer them to be a much stronger power. In the schism war it was a mess, but seeing that they could not reach compromise I can envision them saying "well, suck it up, then" and declaring for what they thought was the better (roman) side. No need to commit murder on the diedne representative to do that.

I would disregard the guernicus chapter it in favour of the ExMisc version of events (that the primus raised the middle finger to the Diednes and kicked them in their heathen posterior).

As an alternative, you can have the guernicus be REALLY a bunch of sissies, and Basilicus one of the few voices of reason among those so-called great men acting like children in the playground. He might not have trusted the merceres, though (militaristic anti-hermetic approach) so decided to travel on foot only to be twarted on the way there for unknown reasons. In that case I would not send Basilicus himself there (consider the guernicus account to be wrong in their records) but an envoy with proconsular powers. It would be him that disappeared without a trace. Seeing the final result of the council basilicus would have taken the practical approach: "destroy one house in the OoH: we will take care of the others later on". In Lion of the North there is an unequivocal paragraph saying how the exmiscellaneas joined with glee in the Diedne kicking, so I would consider that they were not really popular in the first place anyway.

I prefer the diednes having alienated themselves from almost everybody, so I can see them facing the classical "the enemy of my enemy is my (temporal) ally" situation.

So, do whatever you find to be the most fun. :slight_smile: IMS the diednes have been saints, demon worshippers and everything in between. But in general what they are is alien to roman traditions.


Before i made my own backstory, i think the best explanation i found for Diedne being so disliked was that they were simply far too good at finding and picking up gifted people. Ie they wanted to find and recruit all gifted if possible so they actively searched a lot.
Should certainly be enough to cause lots of unhappiness about them.

IIRC, the feeling i got from the stories was that the ExM were almost certain to side with Diedne simply because they´re the house most alike the Diedne and could easily risk persecution on similar grounds. But that the disappearance of the guy messed things up even more and was then used by the opposition as an added excuse for war.

Bravo! I think the Diedne Schism is in need of its own sourcebook! What a great setting to have the entire Order pitched against itself in politics and war! I toyed with the idea myself but never got around to writing stuff up for it.

I think in (3rd edition) Loch Leglean and Stonehenge, it indicates that the Ex Miscellanea disliked the Diedne because they wiped out (Flambeau style) a significant number of traditions in their domination of the British Isles sites of power and vis. The Order and non-Order Gruagach specifically are noted to have been delighted when the Diedne fell and joined the cause of the Order merely to assist in their destruction. The Diedne were ruthless in their destruction of the native Druidic traditions and taking over the magical sites in the Isles. Granted, this was all 3rd edition stuff, but it does tend to paint the Diedne in a more realistic light. Too many people think that they were wronged pagans and druidic nice guys who were the victims of the Guernicus and Tremere machinations. Remember that all the Diedne had the benefits of very strong spontaneous magic and many traditions distrusted them for that reason. It's been fairly easy and duplicated throughout history for folks who fear a common enemy to brand them with scandal and join together to destroy them. History is written by the victors and all that.

Pretty sure it's also 5th canon (as well as 3rd) that the Diedne were very strong and refused to share their resources also prohibiting other Houses from learning their ways or residing in their covenants. Can't remember where I read that though.

Another option (to avoid historical issues, it was my intention) is to make the Diedne Schism happening now (1200's). A simple rewriting of history to have the Diedne present until 1190 or so can make the ArM5 rules work better with the storyline given technology and setting compatibility. You don't want to have to completely rebuild the state of Mythic Europe around that time and adding in the Diedne is not too difficult. It also plays well with the greater influence of Christian values present in the 13th cent. especially amongst the Order.

On the decision to travel overland, I don't recall if anything was stated as to the reasons. However, I have always thought it would be a great lead-in to Schism campaign... the players are part of the entourage to get the Primi to the Greek... er, Tribunal! Attacks by unknown magi (Tremere? Flambeau? Tytalus? Who?) in order to stall their progress, spies and sabotage as they race against time to Durenmar... a neat introductory adventure highlight the tension of the time.

One Setting Book should be great, but i think taht the greys, blanks and dark points on theSchism War make good stories too in the same time.
I think that a repertoire of Scenes should work to many, anybody could choose their sight to the Schism War (The first conflicts, the polytical isues on Magvillus and with the Houses, the war on different Tribunals, the ultimate and more decissival days and the resolution), with the structure of Classical Dramae or Tragedia.

Canon treatments of the Schism War have always been vague... it's intentional, I believe, to leave as much room as possible for sagas to decide who the "Good Guys" and "Bad Guys" of the war were, and how that plays into their saga. (Now I'm envisioning a splatbook that has a Rashamon-style gimmick where a member of each house describes the Schism War, and each description is mutually incompatible...)

I do not believe that there has been mention in any edition book as to why the Ex Misc primus chose to travel as he did, or which way he would have voted.

Ah the Rashamon idea is very sweet! If they ever redo THE TEMPEST for fifth edition that should be in there!

Personally, if I were feeling noble I would indeed do all the work to write up a campaign background for the turn of the millenium (in fact the millenium and the end of days should be included in the title... Hmmm...) but I distrust my energy levels and enthusiasm.

The idea of being part of the Ex Misc Primus' task force as he tries to get a handle on the slowly degrading political situation in the Order is a good one. Probably, the Quaesitores would have a better overall view but Ex Misc would be right there alongside Diedne in the British Isles while things get sticky. Hmmmm.

That's a better explanation than diabolism and human sacrifice? (it's not a bad explanation, it fits with the house being so big. but better?)

I think just that they were extremely secretive (the same could be said of the bjornaer and perhaps the verditious) and they had the wrong progenitors (like the bjornaer) and they they treated other houses poorly (like the Tytalus) would have been enough.

When the order wanted to clean house in the Tytalus the Tytalus complied and the house wasn't completely destroyed. The Diedne gave the rest of the order the finger just a few years after they'd seen that the Tytalus were corrupt. I tend to make the Diedne completely corrupt and guilty of everything they were accused of in my games. But I think with the behavior described of them the schism war seems believable to me even with no smoke behind the fire. Distrust is powerful, it could have almost as easily been verditious (how would they be for the ancient destroyed house? "Their mysteries allowed the creation of enchanted devices that exceed the power of anything that the order can make today, and even if their are no verditious alive today their infernally powered artifacts are still located here and there and they still possess the power to destroy entire covenants!")

this thread has a lot of Diedne info (most of the quotes in the published material as of 2007) in it and I thought it was fun:

Greed and envy can explain much, moral indignation against something claimed but not proven by people who dont really care much for morals, who doesn´t really seem to care much when it happens on other occasions?

Yeah, it´s a much better explanation when all the ambivalence is taken into account. Why would so many gang up so quickly and easily(relatively) on THIS occasion, but be far more "not my business" at other times?

Hardly. It´s actually reads more as an extreme case of "them bad, us good" due to the estrangement.
And although a bit late, "Dark rumors spread about their religious rights"? :mrgreen: Wonderful typo there.
Anyway, that part blatantly shows my point, "dark rumours spread", rumours dont just magically appear, and with the Diedne that secretive, why would they suddenly let people know anything about their "rites"?
Logic fail.

"Not pagan" does not however equate to completely nonpagan. Pseudochristians were not truly rare in these areas until 14th century or something thereabouts. The order WOULD be aware of this.
It can be used as implied evidence and mudslinging to fan the flames of war so to speak, but unless the others wants war with Diedne, it wouldn´t hold up at all.

Unsupported. If the evidence was overwhelming why dont we KNOW this? Why is it all rumours and unsupported accusations? Sorry, stated facts dont support that.

Extreme logic fail. How do you prove a negative? Any evidence would have to be put by Tremere that their claims were TRUE. It is simply ridiculous to demand "prove that you have never comitted human sacrifice".

And if the evidence was so overwhelming, then WHY was the vote CLOSE?
Selfcontradictory and impossible claims combines to nothing of essence. If anything it actually points reasonably strongly in the opposite direction, that despite Tremere´s legendary political strength they still only just barely managed to get a vote in their direction? That´s actually quite shocking.
The selfchosen outcasts of the order, after various accusations and rumours which they are too secretive to truly let anyone disprove fully against the political powerhouse, and the voting is still close?

Had they been found guilty, the vote against them would not have been close. In fact, no vote would probably even have been needed at all as house Diedne would then be in blatant breach of the rules of the order and effectively no longer have any protection from that.

No they dont.

What says it was the Tremere looking west that triggered it?

If that was true, then there would have been clear and obvious evidence long before Diedne became part of the order. EM and D however probably were highly competitive against each other in regards to where they got their recruits.

And yet nothing damning was apparently found. Ooops. Who cares about them being convinced if all they manage to show is that they CANT find any of the evidence they used as the excuse for raiding in the first place?

That completely ignores the backstory of Diedne.

Bullshit. Everyone has something to hide and everyone that can avoids getting investigated, fact of life for thousands of years. Diedne being obsessively secretive is by itself a perfect reason not to want investigation.

Heck, for a modern comparison, the scientologists will take extreme measures to prevent further publication of a commercially published book, the book is just a halfdecent scifi novel and yet they spend literally millions in cash and thousands of manhours to keep it from being openly available. Except of course its easily accessible online.
There´s absolutely nothing in the book of any real value, yet they do anything to keep it from becoming openly available.

The reason could also have been exactly that the house knew about corruption within its ranks and was dealing with it internally and refused to let anyone else in to see either side of it. This is also a VERY normal way for things to go in reality. Going public with your dirty laundry sucks bigtime. You can find politicians from most democracies that have gone as far as bribery, blackmail, threats and even murder for this reason, just to keep things "internal".

IF you base yourself on rumours and accusations that noone seems to have managed to actually support in ANY way.

This just underlines your bad logic fail. As i said before, if there was even a shred of actual evidence, the above would mean that voting would be irrelevant. Yet the vote was held, because the only thing there was were rumours and accusations, and the vote even ended up as close. Despite Tremere being depicted as able to force votes through by sheer political power.

Don´t really have to, your own arguments pretty much showed that your premise simply cant be right. The multiple logic fails are simply too great. That´s not to say that Diedne cant be guilty of what you assumed in that post, but arguing that the schism war was justified is a total failure because the evidence as stated does not support it at all.

My own feeling is that

  1. What is said in the Tremere article is in fact the core of their motivation. They are revolted by the idea of sacrificing human beings to any god, having a House culture that distrusts all sorts of deities. (Even the Divine! The main thing that keeps them from diabolism is their own damnable Pride and the fact that unlike the Tytalus they're not convinced of their own cleverness, just their destiny.)

That said, once they had judged Diedne in their own minds their lust for dominance and power made them go all out to destroy them, ignoring law, justice, due process and the likely effects upon the Order. Full of self-righteousness and alien to the idea of humility they put the Order on the road to a conflict likely to destroy it.

  1. The Diedne do have a tradition of human sacrifice or perhaps of placing candidates for their inner mysteries in tests that are fatal a considerable percentage of the time which would look like human sacrifice to outsiders. They have their own pride and wish to keep their sacred secrets from outsiders, even other Hermetics. Their power as a House is (in their opinion: they might be mistaken) bound up with continuing the Old Ways and they regard accomodating the concerns of others as cultural suicide.

Two traditions, puffed up in their pride and racing towards each other. Really, both of them should have been Marched if there were any justice in the world....