What if the Diedne won the Schism War?

As the title says, "What if?" The how of it, and the definition of "won" is up to you.

Some thoughts:

  1. The Premise is that the House Diedne exists as a functional polity thats existence is not imperilled.

  2. Did the Diedne Ally with other Houses?

  3. Was it a "reduced" Victory where they say, claimed all of Ireland?

  4. Did this result in the OoH itself schisming into two or more separate organisations?

Edit: Feel free to go your own direction in this thought experiment, I wasn't thinking of these as hard and fast suggestions.

  1. Yes, the Diedne managed to coax the pagan houses who sat the war out in the canon. They presented a united face at tribunal and played the reasonable card against the bullish Flambeau, Tytalus and Tremere.
  2. It was an uneasy stalemate. Much blood had already been shed. Houses Flambeau, Tytalus and Tremere feel they could have won if only the other houses hadn't ganged up on them. But since they also weren't destroyed, theres a lot of bad blood
  3. Not yet, but these simmering tensions are causing real problems. House Tremere has become almost a separate order in the east. The pagan houses are huddled together for protection with the largest, Diedne, having strengthened its grip over the British Isles.The southern European houses feel like a different order to the Northern ones and this tension will likely lead to more violence in the future.

This is interesting. Good thought experiment.


Let's have a go...

  1. Diedne "won" the war, but not on the battle field. In fact House Diedne played the role of the victim during most of the confrontation, fighting to retreat, loosing on purpose, trying to mitigate losses but when needed sacrificing a few important figures. It has a brilliant strategy: through mages in other House that were sympathetic to their cause or concern about a strong-latin dominated Order, those allies dig the Duresca scrolls as well as several secrets messages and plan for House Tremere to take control of the Order.
    Suddenly, House Tremere and Guernicus were feeling quite lonely, House Flambeau not liking to be used as a pawn in this game.

The whole Schism war was explained as a attempt from Tremere and Guernicus to drive the Order into a direction more suitable for their vision. Because House Diedne acted convincingly as a victim by not retaliating but retreating behind stronger defenses, it was impossible for House Tremere and Guernicus to build up a convincing case. There was just enough senior Quaesitores unsure about the situation to prevent the use of certain powerful mercurian rituals that could have seriously imperilled House Diedne.

As a result a truce was set, to give time "for a neutral investigation", led by Trianoma's follower of House Bonisagus - who saw there a unique opportunity to regain the first rank amongst the House that she slowly lost to other, more politically active Houses in the past century.
The investigation showed that there was enough evidence of foul play by House Tremere & Guernicus to definitely put an end to the Schism war.

Tremere was seen as the "bad guys" and several senior mages were Marched. Curiously these March went relatively smoothly, the marched mages receiving little support from the House. It seems that House Tremere, pragmatic as ever, realised it was fighting a loosing battle and if it wanted to survive, it needed to cut her losses. To prevent further bloodshed, and following the tradition of giving hostages amongst nobles, House Tremere apprentices will spend their last five years of apprenticeship within another House before being returned to their original master.

But the most affected was House Guernicus for both failing to be diligent in her investigation and also not maintaining the neutrality that was excepted from the one in charge of the justice. The House was disbanded and all her members were Orbis. Most of them manage to find a House to adopt them before the next moon.
It had a drastic change in the funtion of the Order. All mages agreed that justice was needed, but should be within the hand of a single house. Thus the function of Quaesitor remained, but each House will have her own Quaesitores. Justice become even more political than ever...

House Diedne did get support from House Merinita, Bjornaer and somehow Ex Miscellanea (considering its weak organisation), and since fight was limited, there was a lot more supporters since it was less risky :slight_smile: . It had the side effect of creating a strong, unified non-Latin faction that lasted long after the Schism, changing drastically the dynamic of the Order. The more "neutral" Houses discovered that those "pagan" House might not be as refined as the Latin house, but they were more honorable and less devious, shifting even more the politics.

But what happen really or could have happen ?

House Diedne: they were clearly ready for the attack. Did they engineer it ? Possibly. What better way to be ready against an attack than to organise it ? They could have been inspired by Prince of Hell, or maybe by the Spider. Regardless of the reason, the result was that Diedne House came on top. Following the Truce, then the Cleansing of House Tremere, House Diedne had little to do to open a bit more wide the Order to other traditions. And not to allienate the more Latin House, in particular House Bonisagus, the acceptance of new members from another tradition was conditional of this member spending 5 years collaborating on a project led by a Bonisagus, officially to get him the basic of hermetic theory, but as well to gather more material for integration. The results of such research would have definitely benefited a creature like the Spider who already aggregated knowledge for several traditions.

House Tremere: they were cleansed from a lot of their leaders and top mages. At least officially. At least that's what everybody believed. But being who they were, unlikely as was the outcome of the Schism, there was a contigency plan. Two third of the targeted mages by the Cleansing were effectively killed, the remaining third escaped: body simulacrum, powerful illusion, asylum into the deep void... And it was time to regroup and see what went wrong, who was this enemy who was able the brightest strategist of the Order. And how to uproot him. Possibly by integrating some darker, more powerful magic that would allow mages to extend their life, a magic deeply rooted in the Transylvanian Tribunal.

House Flambeau: they were the dupped.


Probably a significant part of Bjornaer. Definetively not House Ex-Miscellanea. And Merinita for sure; in canon it's said that Merintia adopted several Diedne apprentices and that some Merinita magi fought on Diedne's side, which means that the two houses were close. If Diedne won the war, Merinita would have had their power and reach increased as well.

Why Ireland? It have a great population of pagan traditions which were Diedne enemies. If they were ruling an island, I'd say it would be England and pretty much of the islands around, both the Stonehenge and probably Loch Leaglan tribunals. Which could put Hibernia in an odd position, even more isolated from the rest of the Order that it is in the canon view; if they have odd customs and ways right now, in this alternate setting, with the main access blocked by Diedne islands they would probably be it even more.

As before, I can see Hibernia being pretty much something different, nominally belonging to the Order but going its own edge ways. If Loch Leaglan isn't ruled by Diedne, then it would probably evolve into something different on its own.

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I can actually see this going a slightly different way. The accusations came about partly because of all of the secrecy involved in houses. I can see the house system being disbanded. Concerted research to make hermetic virtues into normal abilities.

So, many of the "house" virtues would become just a normal part of hermetic magic and be available to everyone. There will still be magi with individual differences, but nearly all magi will have the advantages of these virtues, without actually needing the virtues. The order as a whole will become more "open", with many magi travelling between covenants. Winter at covenant A, Summer at covenant B, Spring at Covenant C, then summer doing an adventure.

The process of training apprentices will become different, with classes of apprentices studying together. Magi from all over a tribunal will drop off their apprentices for a season so they can study Magic Theory under a great teacher, or be taught how to properly conduct certamen, with lots of matches against each other.

Magi will help each other more in the laboratory, it could even be written into various tribunal rulings. For one season each two years you must serve as another magus' lab assistant. For one season every two years you must have another magus as your lab assistant.

Forcing magi into each others labs will cut down on some of the rumours about various magi - especially if a tribunal can assign these places.

I can see Quaesitores becoming part of the local tribunal, with people volunteering for the job, then being interviewed using magic, then having periodic "reviews". In exchange for this invasion of privacy, a Quaesitore is now legally allowed to enter any sanctum at any time. If they "pester" a magus too much, that magus can complain about losing lab-time and damage to their power. But Quaesitores can be sent to anywhere as a lab-assistant, and there are very few who will turn them down.

So, lots of forced "Friendly" co-operation between magi and the order is growing to new heights.



Perhaps the Diedne actually did win the war but the rest of the Order doesn't know it.

The Diedne war objectives were straightforward: To not be killed off. To keep their secrets private. To continue practicing their magics. The Diedne win if they achieve these objectives.

There's a schism in how the Schism War is presented in canon. On the one hand, it is presented as a series of battles, most of which the Diedne lost decisively. On the other hand, it is presented as a hotly contested and bloody war that could easily have gone the other way.

If the Diedne strategy was a slow withdrawal into hiding, a grinding series of spectacular and bloody defeats in which nothing seems to be left of their magi but a smear of ash works nicely as a holding action, as they prepare for their new lives.

Having a faction of House Bjornaer as allies works great for this, since the Bjornaer know the secret of utterly rewriting a person's identity. By holing up at Crintera for the duration of the war, the Bjornaer make sure that none of their magi who are involved becomes vulnerable on the battlefield or taken hostage.

But where did the Diedne go? Many choices, but I have my favorite.

"That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people as well."



  1. The Diedne win the Schism War with the choice of Guernicus to renounce Houses Flambeau and Tremere for their aggression.

  2. The few escaping magi of Flambeau and Tremere flee to strong Dominion auras for safety and tell the bishops of the large cities about an order of druid sorcerers, emphasizing their pagan and possibly diabolic nature. With both these magi and surviving Roman texts telling them that druids do human sacrifice, some bishops listen, and set their flocks to destroy local covenants. Some magi defending their covenants openly use magic; this convinces more of the Church that these magi are a real problem, and a cycle of escalation commences. An all-out war is launched by the Church against the "infidel" magi. Covenants come under attack from both mobs and noblemen's armies; covenfolk and Redcaps caught outside them are lynched. Many hedge wizards are killed by ignorant mobs.

  3. Many magi abandon covenants to disappear and hide on their own, often declaring that House Diedne clearly endangered the Order through their paganism, and Guernicus by failing to Renounce them for it. Some Christian magi, including a number of the escaped Flambeau and Tremere, find sympathetic bishops and publicly join the Church's war, generally wearing the cross prominently to make their allegiance clear. Attacks on covenants are more successful with magical assistance, and the rate of abandonment increases. The Order of Hermes is destroyed as an institution between the destruction of covenants and their abandonment in most of Mythic Europe.the Diedne victory in the Schism War

In the Theban Tribunal, the magi are never systematically attacked, and with the fall of the Order of Hermes the Tribunal is transformed into the Order of Prokopios. This Prokopiosans have no formal Houses, but many leagues, some of which follow old House lines. The language of the Order of Prokopios is classical Greek, and the roles of Bonisagus and Trianoma in its history are downplayed. The Order also survives in the Novgorod Tribunal, especially in pagan areas; there magi increasingly are all initiates of the Bjornaer mystery cult whatever their magical lineage, as the filli of refugees assimilate to the local Hermetic culture.

But in most of Mythic Europe, the only organization of magi is the Order of St. Nerius, a Christian military order of magi dedicated to protecting Christendom from supernatural threats, which was formed by the Christian magi who sided with the Church. This Order grows quickly by recruiting children with the Gift with the support of the Church. Its language is Latin, and its magic theory still that of Bonisagus. The victory of the Deidne in the Schism War was accordingly quite Pyrrhic. The ultimate result is an explicitly and vehemently Christian order of magi, organized like the Tremere and dedicated to combat like the Flambeau. It makes the Crusades much more successful.


The big question is how willing are you to change the history of Mythic Europe along with this change?
Diedne leads a pagan revival?
Or does Diedne have to go into the broom closet and feign Christianity as part of their "win"?
Does Diedne convince large swaths of the order that the encroaching divine aura is a real threat to the continued practice of magic?
What lost abilities does Diedne actually have?
Does Diedne simply wind up surviving and reintegrating, or dominating the order?

I could certainly see a cosmetically similar world where Diedne are the secret puppet masters of the order after feigning their extinction...



Not clear that the Diedne care.

Not clear that being Christian is incompatible with being a Diedne. Also, the Schism War was not waged to convert the Diedne to Christianity. It is not clear that the Diedne were any less Christian to begin with than your average Tremere or Tytalus. The Diedne were more secretive, so continuing to be secretive is hardly a loss.

Not clear that the Diedne care. They never tried to convert the Order before, or convince them to wage an anti-Crusade. Furthermore, Diedne magic depends less on vis than that of other magi. If the Diedne believe in metempsychosis, as the Druids were said to, then big Longevity Rituals are less necessary: You're going to come back. They emphasize spontaneous over formulaic magic, so are less likely to cast big rituals. They need a library to boost Arts, AL and Phil, but can do fine without much of a lab.

So if the Divine encroaches, and makes life more difficult for their enemies, the Diedne should care, why?

Ah, now that's a good question! My preference leads toward initiations that help them make the most of their next (or past) lives, toward abilities that help boost their magic when burning enemies alive (preferably in a wicker cage, naturally), and toward abilities that benefit spontaneous magic.

Not necessarily either. Do the Diedne care about dominating or rejoining the order? I think the real question here is what the Diedne wanted, as a House, before the Schism War. If such an objective existed, it probably had little to do with the Order, which is probably why they were aloof to begin with. Adding a new objective to destroy the Order does make sense, either for vengeance, for justice or for simple pragmatism.

Or being part of something other than the Order. I'm not sure that the Diedne have the skills to, say, best the Tytalus at their own game. Or remain entwined in the Order without a bunch of paranoid Tremere noticing. Or actively deceive House Guernicus for 200 years. Acting against the Order at a great distance, ok. But actually running the Order makes the other magi utter idiots.

I don't think it's necessary to have any Diedne survivors, and if there are survivors I don't deeply need them to be organized. But if the Diedne have survived as a House, I prefer them to remain in Mythic Europe and prefer them associated with the Church. Where better for scholars to hang out? If you do not want magi casting spells on you, who better to be than a churchman? And if your Parma resists such a spell, won't they likely attribute it to your obvious holiness? And if you do cast a spell (without words or gestures, of course, unless you have managed to pick up Holy Magic), isn't that probably just a minor miracle?

This works fine if you like your Diedne infernal, or prefer them as secular as any other magus. It works less well if Diedne must have the Pagan flaw. But if the Diedne can handle a bit of syncretism, they might actually influence Christian practice, even as they themselves evolve.

So when the Church starts making life difficult for magi, this is just the Church doing what it does, and has absolutely nothing to do with the Diedne, who are long gone with nary a trace. Nothing to see here, folks. And if there seems to be an uptick in book-burning, that's regrettable, even barbaric, but hardly unusual. And if heretics are burned, and not just their books, that's certainly not a repackaged Diedne ritual, just a sign of the times.




Well, sure, it's possible that in the less than two centuries between the disappearance of Flambeau and the Schism War, House Diedne went from actively promoting the paganism of its Founder to being mostly Christian, but such a major transformation would be surprising; it is not hinted at anywhere.

(HoH:TL, p.9, explicitly says Diedne herself was pagan. HoH:S, p. 10 says "Flambeau himself disliked pagans and often spoke out against House Diedne, which actively promoted a non-Christian religion.")


Just a thought. I think a very "realistic" scenario (in fact, more realistic than what actually happened!) is one where the Diedne do not so much "win" the war, but simply manage to avoid losing it (whether that counts as winning is up for debate; I would definitely consider survival the ultimate victory :slight_smile:). The idea in this case is that several other Houses side not with Diedne, but against a war that would create far more losers than winners.

House Bonisagus would definitely be in this camp. In part because they are after all the House that brought wizards from different backgrounds together to form the Order, so such a war really runs against their raison d'etre. In part because they dread losing all the secret knowledge of the Diedne before incorporating it into mainstream Magic Theory.

House Bjornarer would also be in this camp. Canonically, they realized that they could easily have been next. Their choice was to keep a low profile, but they could have just as realistically raised voices standing up for peace.

Criamon are pacifists who even accept into their House magi who have been cast from theirs, so they would have been fully in favour of peace. Besides, I seem to recall that it was Criamon that insisted on the "privacy" clause of the Oath, so they would have been all the less sympathetic to the Tremere's crusade.

Ex Miscellanea was canonically opposed to Diedne in the British Isles. But Ex Miscellanea had a more widely spread population, that realized that if the Tremere bullies could wipe out a House as big and as Diedne with impunity, they'd have a really easy time destroying or enslaving entire Ex Miscellanea lineages.

House Mercere is another house that would probably have stood for peace. Again, keeping the Order united is part of their reason of being, and while messengers and merchants benefit from wars, the risk of magic-wide conflict to the unGifted is really not worth it.

A strong core of Jerbitons - who had, after all, been the core supporters of the Theban League against Tremere domination - would also have been in support of peace, enough to sway the House to side with the other like-minded five (above).

Finally, both (post-Quendalon) Merinita and Verditius would probably have looked with some distaste at a war being waged against a House who had just been secretive about its practices and with strong ties to paganism; so with over half the rest of the Order voting for peace, they would probably have joined in.

(The Tytalus are, as usual, so divided that their collective efforts cancel out, so they do not count on an Order-wide scale).

So: emergency Tribunal with a large majority of the Order saying: "Peace now, and anyone who dares disagree gets cast out now (for endangering the Order)", a Guernicus faction agree and kick out of their own House the dissenters, the Flambeau are sent on a crusade against the Order of Suleiman, and the Tremere go back to the drawing board for another century or two to draft their "plan to take over the Order v3.0".



Of course, Bonisagus, Mercere, Guernicus, Tremere, Tytalus and almost all the Founders were pagans of one kind or another. Flambeau's threshold for "actively promoting a non-Christian religion" was probably rather low. Finally, the chapter for each House is written to be rather slanted towards that House's current vision of itself.

Other than some vague Druidic heritage, a penchant for privacy and competent spontaneous casting, we don't really know much about the Diedne. Well, we do know that Diedne was willing to spill some secrets to Bonisagus, and was totally willing to pollute her purportedly pure druidic magic with Roman cultic practices. So she's not quite the Orthodox druid; maybe conservative or reform. Why not do the same with Christianity? They would not be the first pagans to find it advantageous to adopt Christianity while keeping many of their customs intact.




Errata swapped Verditius in for Criamon when it comes to the keeping secrets thing, IIRC.

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Mercere, definitely. Tremere and Tytalus I can see where you're coming from, at least, although I'm not convinced either of them sincerely worshipped anything. But Bonisagus and Guernicus? Guernicus in particular was noted for his strong Christian faith (see page 37 of HoH:TL, for example).

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I don't see it as very plausible that a bunch of educated Romans from the 8th century would be "pagan" in a classical sense. More likely, these people had some sort of unorthodox ("heretical") Christian beliefs, probably influenced by late-antique systems such as (especially!) Hermeticism.

This I agree with very much. The stories about the Founders remind me of medieval stories about Charlemagne, a mixture of partially-understood history and out-and-out legend.

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A number of prominent Romans joined druidic cults in the North of modern day France, so the "purity" of druidism was not as much of an issue as you would indicate. Also a umber of founders are described as explicitly Christian (I don't think education level would make a huge difference at that point in time as to whether they were pagan or Christian- the use of magic favors them being pagan, but the background material expressly indicates the contrary)

One issue that would need to be addressed with any game where Diedne survived/triumphed is how they dealt with the Irish monastic system, which largely succeeded because it was endorsed by the druids, and was the ecumenically dominant form of Christianity for some time before Catholicism rose to prominence. In theory the remains of Diedne could be holy magi included within the irish monastics holding out against the Catholic church and the British invaders in Ireland...


[Shrug.] If you're going to declare explicit statements made by the books of the Ars line in omniscient narrative voice irrelevant, well, sure, you can declare ignorance of anything you like.

Hey, maybe Tremere himself was a humble, modest man who himself performed the Sundering in order to destroy the ambitions of his underlings when he finally noticed they were trying to take over the democratic and pluralistic Order he loved; after all, everything saying otherwise is in either an older edition or the HoH books.

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I think Ovarwa meant "current" as in "1220, not early 11th century" - the Houses do not stay static over time and leadership changes.

For all any 1220 mage knows, the Schism War could have been triggered by Diedne aggressively claiming all the best vis sources in Normandy and Provence leaving all the other houses feeling shortchanged, and leaving them with few friends.

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I totally agree! By the same token, it isn't very plausible that anyone at all in the 8th century could be a druid, in the classical sense. (And, it might be noted, that OoH "Hermeticism" has pretty much nothing in common with 19C or 20C Hermeticism.)

So Guernicus was Christian, and his House presumably was influenced by this, but obviously not to the extent that they eschewed Mercurian--which is to say pagan--rituals, and obviously not to the extent that Fenicil would forbear from blasphemously declaring the the OoH is really an eternal institution, since only God is eternal and Hermetic magic is insignificant in comparison.

The Schism War looks very much like neo-Druidic pagans (perhaps their secret was that they were also devout Christians of some heterodox stripe) versus neo-Roman pagans, fighting for Druidic and Roman traditions every bit as authentic as Stukeley's and Mussolini's, respectively.



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Which is good, because I am ignorant of a great many things.

But not everything: It is not at all obvious to me that AM5 fluff is written purely in 3rd person omniscient. Like much modern writing, AM5's narrative is often third person limited, with different sections getting a different narrator and a different perspective.

In the real world, the one in which AM5 was written, this is actually what happened.

As you wish.



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