Been batting this around as an alternative way of making Tremere "Good" at Certamen. It hopefully fixes the problem of the clan being too good at Certamen, while still keeping some of the flavor of the house being a bit over specialized.
The first core change is that Tremere Wizards don't get Magical Focus Certamen as their house virtue. Instead they get a virtue that funtions a bit like a fairy sympathy trait mixed with something like Skilled Parens or Guild Training. My tentative name for this Virtue is Certamen Trained.
As far as crunch goes Certamen Trained provides a +2 bonus (or maybe +3 still debating) for any Ability total relating to Certamen. This obviously includes the Initiative, Weakening, and Resistance Totals of an Actual Certamen as well as potential Concentration checks that occur during the Duel. It can also be applied to ability checks related to Certamen out side of a bout, like Intrigue, Guile, and Etiquette checks for establishing the terms of a challenge or even Code of Hermes for legal matters involving Certamen. It also provides it's bonus to the Teaching ability when using Certamen as a Teaching tool. (More on this in a minute) Like fairy Sympathy this bonus functions like a specialization bonus only larger. As such the bonus provided by Certamen Trained can not be used at the same time as a normal ability specialization or a fairy sympathy.
Also Certamen Trained provides 90xp (60 or 120?) However another feature of these rules is that House Tremere has greater requirements of it newly gauntleted Magi. Parens are expected to ensure their apprentices develop what the House considers the core skills of a Magus as well as abilities important for good citizenship. Newly gauntleted Tremere are required to have a score of 2(3?) in the Core Certamen Abilities Finese, Concentration, Penetration, and Parma Magica (Yes Parma, I know). Plus the abilities Teaching, Code of Hermes, Hermes Lore, and Tremere Lore also need a score of 2(1?) as well.
The fluff of Certamen Trained is thus. More than any other House and even most other Magi House Tremere reveres what they consider to be the Core abilities of a Magus Concentration, Finesse, Penetration, and Parma Magica. House Tremere holds that there founder's inspiration for developing Certaman is as a test of these abilities. That while he could not match his sodales in RAW power Tremere believed the true measure of a Mage was in the skill and cleverness in using that power. And so Certamen is a purer expression of Magus's understanding of their Magic then even Magic Theory. This connection in understanding is even considered a two-way street. As Tremere use Certamen as a powerful teaching tool. And just as the act of Certamen shapes individual Magi its believed the ritual of Certamen shapes the order. In short house Tremere is totally crazy obsessed with Certamen.
A further rule I've added into this mix to make it come out a little better is the idea of Certamen Teaching. Essentially there is a method known throughout the order but esspecially favored by house Tremere For teaching Arts and the Core Abilities via Certamen. Certamen Teaching is a one on one teaching method where master and pupil engage in Duel after Duel over the course of a season. The Master chooses what Art or Ability to highlight and explores these in a series of controlled duels. But this method is much less focused then traditional Hermetic Instruction so it lacks the normal +6 bonus for one on one instruction. Instead the student gets and additional 6 ep which they may divide up among the other core abilites and teaching. No more then 2 of these bonus points can be put in one ability in a given season but are not otherwise affected by the instructors level gain limit.
These rules assume that you can apply points to the Parma Ability without actually learning to raise a Parma as per Apprentices. Also if Apprenticeship is being played out and the rules for aquire one's House Virtue from Apprentices are being used then only the bonus +2 will be acquired. It will be assumed that the Parens bonus to Certamen Teaching and Generally higher teaching score should account for the extra x.p,