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  • Tremere Chantry punishments and rewards

    Clan Tremere is known for it's strict hierarchy and relentless, oppressive bureaucracy. Life within the chantry is not unlike the life described in Orwell's 1984, with constant surveillance and brainwashing.

    Now, I want to think of fun ways to punish and reward those Tremere who are loyal or betray the great Pyramid.

    Obviously, rank within the clan is always an option, but it's also a very dramatic shift. other ideas that struck me:

    Punishments:
    > Be forced to spy / narc on another member of the chantry.
    > Organize chantry supplies (effectively losing access to some downtime activities)
    > Create a new ghoul for the chantry to use, costing blood and time

    Rewards:
    > Access to additional chantry resources for private projects.
    > An outside haven
    > Access to additional Thaumaturgy

    Any cool, creepy or convoluted ways the Pyramid can reinforce good behavior, and hammer down on bad behavior come up in your games?


    Furthermore, I believe Carthage should be destroyed.

  • #2
    -You do this all the time
    -A ghoul can do this, and you wouldn't really trust an important job to a failure who you're punishing.
    -This gives the punished a dot of retainer.

    The rewards are fine.

    For punishments, I'd suggest these instead.

    You are put on a really lame project. Like you learn/experiment with some rituals that won't be of any use to the chronicle. Maybe the person leading the project treats the character poorly. But essentially you can't do anything cool in your downtime.
    You lose control over a personal assistant (A ghoul) or a financial asset (That thing you own) is reasigned to a more capable/trustworthy clan member. You might get them back after a period, depending on what you did.
    You become a guinea pig.
    You are bloodbound once more to the clan and the Regent.
    You are denied access to the clans herd and are given bloodbags.
    You donate blood to elders, who can use this in rituals against you.


    Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

    Comment


    • #3
      When I ST, I try to make the Pyramid very controlling, but not too punishing. Players tend to react very negatively to actual punishments, but respond well with a reward system. So I try to channel players into certain behavior. And I always make it clear where the red lines are OOC. If I don't do that, PCs tend to go off the reservation very quickly and begin to do stupid actions that ruin the game. I leave punishing to NPCs (to serve as examples) or to those circumstances when the Player understands (and accepts) before they commit whatever act because they want the RP.

      The main thing I do is divide the Tremere Thaumaturgy list into several categories.

      The first are the Paths that are allowed to any Tremere regardless of their behavior (as long as they don't go criminal or rogue). For me, that is only Path of Blood and Movement of the Mind.

      The second are given to Tremere in "good standing", but aren't particularly exceptional in their loyalty or competence. These are the rest of the paths in the normal corebook - like Lure of Flames or Path of Conjuring. I may allow a few more that I like and want to be as "standard" for any Tremere. At this level, the player is merely conforming to whatever expectations the ST lays out to the PC.

      The third are cool and interesting Paths you only get it you kiss enough ass and make alliances within the Pyramid. Most of the Paths in the Tremere clanbooks or various supplements fall in this category. To get these, the PC has to work hard to convince his superiors and peers to teach him these things. At this level, the Player should be offering ideas to the ST and working with her to find what is good.

      The fourth category are special Thaumaturgical Paths that I want to be kept rare (either because I don't like them as an ST/Player; I think they are really out-of-genre; or I have some other reason I want them to be rare). These Paths are not available to the Pyramid as a whole, but may be a "secret" known only to a specific Chantry, or perhaps a single Pontifex or other singular Tremere, and they teach them ONLY to Tremere who are loyal to them in some capacity. So a lot of internal Tremere politics can be created this way.

      You can do the same to any other resources that the Pyramid could theoretically offer to a PC. They only get the cool toys if they play the game. This could be anything to asking a Gargoyle to perform a mission to them, to learning Rituals, access to "magic items", use of the Chantry's libraries for research purposes, etc.

      Another thing I do is require the Tremere PCs to perform some acts. One of them is to provide a short report after every game session to their superior (usually their Chantry Regent) about their activities/activities with their PC coterie. I don't make it long - maybe half a page - as I don't want it to be homework. But I want something. I allow them a lot of leeway of what and how they report it. So they can omit information (which is OK) or even lie (generally a bad idea, especially if the lie could be easily checked). But simply asking them to do this gets them into the right mindset.

      And of course, there are the actions undertaken when the ST wants to use the Tremere system as a "quest giver" to push the PCs along the plot.

      If the Player doesn't want to do these things, I tell them they probably should not be playing a Tremere.

      Comment


      • #4
        The link below is an old discussion on how a Regent should act towards an insubordinate. (Until I searched for it, I didn't know how old!) It may have some value to you.

        Comment


        • #5
          Punishments
          -Some of the subjects blood is drawn, and kept hidden and in a secure location for unstated uses.
          -Flesh and bone (such as a little finger) is cut off, and kept hidden and in a secure location for unstated uses.
          -A bone is broken, magically set badly, giving a minor physical handicap.
          -The tongue is cut out, preventing speech.
          -The subject is kept chained in a room, fed animals and forced to do menial labor.
          -The subject is kept chained in a room, fed living family members and/or friends and forced to do menial labor.
          -Netflex streaming is stopped.

          There are no rewards.

          Comment


          • #6
            Punishments:

            -Dominate is used to remove the subject's memories of the transgression. Memories are further tailored to make the subject "remember" having considered disloyalty, but rejected the idea as foolhardy and pointless. Don't bother covering up too well. It's more important that the subject knows their mind belongs to Vienna than that the memory edits hold.

            -Subject is promoted a single grade, and transferred to a chantry in a city the subject will hate. The city might be isolated (Fairbanks, Alaska?), in a mortal war zone (Syria?), in a contested city (NYC, circa 1998), or be a place where the subject simply doesn't speak the language.

            -Offer to strike the transgression from the subject's permanent record if they publicly announce at Elysium that they owe another Tremere a major boon. Never mention the transgression again. Let the Camarilla deal with the bookwork of enforcement.

            -Reassign the subject to a "new and exciting" area of research, completely unrelated to the subject's previous interests and talents... for a decade. (example: require a nerdy librarian to become an expert in combat) Worst case scenario, they hate it. Best case? The clan gets somebody cross-trained into a new field.

            -In a small chantry, do not punish the transgressor at all. Punish the subject's peers in the chantry. For example, all fellow apprentices are confined to the chantry for a full week. After all, they should have been keeping an eye on their fellow! (The peers will dish out worse punishment than any regent could ever devise.)

            -Promote someone the subject hates. Consider embracing/ghouling the subject's abusive father, or their hated ex-wife.

            -An oldie, but a goody: scutwork. Give the ghouls a week off, and let the subject clean the chantry and mow the lawn. Make it clear to the ghouls that if other members of the chantry are found to transgress the same punishment will be on the table.

            -Staking is always a good choice. Put the subject in a box for a few years. Hopefully any bad influences will have moved on.

            -Smile at the subject. Explain that they did exactly what you wanted them to do, but for reasons they could never fathom. Let them wonder what this means. (Sometimes administering a punishment is just too much effort.)

            Comment


            • #7
              I have always felt that people want to use the pyramid as blunt instrument of oppression when in fact it is a more precise tool of selection.

              Think of it like this, the Tremere do not embrace easily or rashly. The candidate must show an aptitude for the clan interests, which means being some what intellectual and often predisposed to magic. Then with the embrace they are partially bound to the council, meaning that the character is predisposed to value the clan and its systems. Lastly the neonate is moved to a chantry, which is run by a regent who will always have dominate and a lower generation than the character.

              Exactly how is this character supposed to rebel enough to warrant punishment? If the character behaves poorly or is disrespectful, they are probably given a verbal warning and if it continues a Dominate command, problem solved. If the problem continues, that means that the character is some how fighting past both a regents dominate and the blood of the council, this means the neonate is to be dissected and studied to understand how they have achieved this resistance.

              The pyramid should be less of a brain washing cult of oppression and more of a corporation with each Chantry being a branch office. You don't generally assign a Path of Technomancy specialist to an archeology dig site chantry that lacks computers. Thus there should be a great deal of emphasis in putting the correct person in the proper place in the pyramid.

              So once again, if only people who would conform are embraced, and they are only placed where they would benefit the clan the most, why would they rebel enough to require punishment? If anything it could be argued that when a neonate fails, it would fall more heavily on the sire who suggested their embrace or the regent who is commanding them. But in the scenario where a tremere requires punishment it becomes a mathematical question of is it a better course of action to dispatch the offender rather than attempt punitive adjustment given their resistance.

              As for rewards once again you have to think magical corporation, not plot point dickishness/prizes. The reward would be tailored to the specific character, rather than a generalized reward. If a tremere has a fascination with a specific field of study then as a reward they get moved to a chantry that deals with that subject.

              The tremere and their pyramid doesn't lend itself to high school lunch room social dynamics or teenager head pats from senpai. They are an army of magi who invoke the will of the council. Each Chantry is a fire base in the nightly conflict that is vampiric existence. Your reward is to see another sunset, your punishment is to see one more sun rise.

              Comment


              • #8
                Indeed. I think far too many people don't understand how Tremere work, which is why they nuked the organization for V5. The Tremere embrace likeminded people and use a lot of soft power. The Tremere don't embrace people who don't fit the Tremere.


                Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Thoth View Post
                  The tremere and their pyramid doesn't lend itself to high school lunch room social dynamics or teenager head pats from senpai.
                  Of course they, and it, operates exactly like that - the Tremere are a bunch of sociopaths, myopic in their cruelty and depraved indifference to anyone else but themselves and anything else except for their pet project. They also steal each others work and blame each other for their own failures. Dishing punishments is as much about crippling rivals, or people who just hurt your feelings, as it is about pyramid discipline and integrity.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Grumpy RPG Reviews View Post

                    Of course they, and it, operates exactly like that - the Tremere are a bunch of sociopaths, myopic in their cruelty and depraved indifference to anyone else but themselves and anything else except for their pet project. They also steal each others work and blame each other for their own failures. Dishing punishments is as much about crippling rivals, or people who just hurt your feelings, as it is about pyramid discipline and integrity.
                    You just described most vampire clans, except the Tremere and the Children of Osiris.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      @Thoth:

                      What you described in your longer post up top, is how I believe Clan Tremere want everything to work. It's their ideal state they want to work towards. But the world is not perfect, and neither are people.

                      There are plenty of reasons to punish besides treachery. Failure is a major one. One of your apprentices drops a vial of thousand-year blood, cantaminating it forever. That warrants punishment, even if no ill intent towards the clan was there.


                      Furthermore, I believe Carthage should be destroyed.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by pang4 View Post
                        What you described in your longer post up top, is how I believe Clan Tremere want everything to work. It's their ideal state they want to work towards. But the world is not perfect, and neither are people.

                        There are plenty of reasons to punish besides treachery. Failure is a major one. One of your apprentices drops a vial of thousand-year blood, cantaminating it forever. That warrants punishment, even if no ill intent towards the clan was there.
                        I disagree with the notion that this is about an ideal state, instead I think this is about a lack of understanding when it comes to how to tell a story with this sort of group.

                        Let us say a person wants to play a Tremere because blood magic and chantries, but when it comes to character behavior, they are playing a Brujah in everything but name. Such a character would never be embraced unless there was one hell of a deus ex machina just get the character out of character creation, then you would need another DEM just to explain why they are not being executed as a security risk, finally you need a third DEM just to explain how the clan and local regent in particular allow the character to be given access to new secrets so their Thaumaturgy score can go up or learn new rituals.

                        After a certain point you have to admit we are breaking the game just to make the character work. Certain Clans and Bloodlines just don't work with certain character types and storylines. Now don't get me wrong, if you want to home brew something and have fun with it, go for it. But don't confuse a personal homebrew handwave for the realities of the story components you are working with.

                        As for your statements about punishments, once again the clan pyramid design more or less is self correcting.

                        Treachery = Death/Research Materials
                        Failure = Review at least, optional demotion, possible transfer to another chantry.
                        Clumsy = Ask why the person in charge gave them access to such rare components in the first place.

                        I mean the Tremere are not going to notice some one being a traitor, give them a spanking, but leave them in their original post to go ahead and be treacherous again. Like a spy agency they will seal the leak, at best by removing the traitors access or at worst by killing the traitor. The only way such a traitor would be left in place would be as bait to lure out a bigger enemy, but even then the council/regents would be competent at this and restrict the traitors ability to damage the clan.

                        Part of the reason why WW fluff and lore alterations to the Tremere clan always come off as so poorly thought out is because they have more or less written themselves into a corner with how the Tremere are designed. The way the pyramid is designed, a lot of story stuff by definition can't happen outside of a deus ex machina, but then you add in things like blood binding to the council, the clan discipline of dominate, and the fact that it doesn't take a genius to expect the council at least and every regent at most to keep a couple vials of vitae from every Tremere under their command hidden away as an insurance policy and even deus ex machina start to look unlikely to be enough.

                        Now if you think these things through, yes you can make a great story out of breaking out of the pyramid, but unless a great deal of thought goes into it, it is just half-assed wish fulfillment rather than being a good story.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I had a regent npc with the combo power to permanently remove memories.

                          Knowledge is power...so if I take away your knowledge...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Reading over this thread, I got to wondering about how the Tremere have changed through editions.

                            I went all the way back to V1 and looked at the clan's main splat description. It mentions multiple times how well organized and hierarchical the clan is, but notice how often that sentiment is hedged with qualifiers and implications of a few loose cannons.

                            The members of this Clan are dedicated and extremely well-organized.
                            A council of seven Elders is said to control the entire Clan from the Vienna Chantry. From that locus, they maintain a tightly-ordered, highly hierarchical group, one that allows no one outside the Lineage to view their inner workings.
                            The younger members of Clan Tremere are expected to obey their Elders without question. But this is not as true as it once was. Tremere typically have immense love and loyalty for their Clan, largely because they are made Regnant by Seven Elders of the Clan. They come to love the Clan because of the love they feel for their Regent Though there are some rebels and Anarchs from the Tremere line, it is likely they are posing as such on the orders of the Clan, as part of its long term plots.
                            Organization: They are tightly organized and very hierarchical. The younger members are expected to obey the older ones without question, but this isn't happening all the time anymore.
                            Now, this seems to add up to a clan that is attempting to be perfectly woven tapestry, however, the practical result has a lot more loose-ends than a casual observer might expect.

                            Two interesting notes from the V1 description:

                            Haven: The Tremere Clan operates a Chantry in almost every city where it has members. All those of the Tremere Clan are welcome in any Chantry. Those who live on their own have a wide variety of accommodations.
                            This makes it clear that residing in the chantry is, at least partially, optional. It is there and available, but a clan member doesn't need written permission, signed in triplicate to go out for the night or even acquire their own haven. It seems to operate more like a fraternal organization than a military base.

                            It also mentions "all those of the Tremere clan", which seems to imply that even peripheral clanmates with only tenuous ties to the Pyramid are still welcome in any Chantry. This is a wise choice on the part of Vienna, since the first step with bringing a stray back into the fold is establishing contact.

                            On the other hand, such proximity may not have been necessary given the V1 clan flaw...

                            Weaknesses: Tremere Neonates are Blood-Bound to the seven Elders of the Clan when they are created. This ensures that the Tremere Clan remains intrinsically bonded. Tremere characters are therefore much more tightly restrained than characters from other Clans. When the Clan calls, they must respond.
                            Later editions retconned this to two step bonds, forfeiting a sample of your blood, or higher susceptibility to the blood bond in general. IIRC, at the time this was because someone noticed that if all Tremere are already bound to the clan, they are not able to be bound by others, which is sort of the opposite of a weakness.

                            Understanding the Tremere requires understanding the V1 version of blood bonding, which was similar but slightly different from later editions:
                            1. Takes three drinks, and additional drinks add to the power of the bond.
                            2. Can be bound to multiple vampires if their blood is mixed. No vaulderie ritual is needed, just mix the blood in a cup. This leads to an equally powerful, but more diffuse bond.
                            3. Intense emotional bond and an obsession with the regnant, despite the intellectual understanding that these feelings are artificial.
                            4. The bond can double back on the regnant. "A Regent with a high conscience may feel this 'love' to some measure in return." This may, or may not, have implications for the Tremere.
                            5. Regnants can use Dominate on thralls without eye contact, just the sound of their voice. How this works for a group or over the telephone is not explained. All difficulties to resist Dominate increase by 1. (If you only know V5, this is the rough equivalent of a two dice penalty.)
                            6. Regnants might gain a vague extrasensory link to thralls, giving insight into their mood, feelings, and location.
                            7. Willpower is spent to resist the bond.
                            8. Thralls need not risk their lives for their regnant. No willpower expenditure is necessary. "Even love is not that blind."
                            9. OTOH, a thrall's first instinct when their regnant is attacked is to jump in to defend them.
                            10. The bond is more effective and longer lasting for certain Natures, and less so for others.
                            11. Bonds can be broken if the thrall avoids interacting with the regnant for a vaguely "long" period and spends a great deal of willpower. Overall, the bond is much more effective if the thrall is treated well.

                            So, where did this leave V1 Tremere?

                            They fully bond all fledglings, and feeding them again later would seem to be a likely punishment, as it reinforces the bond.

                            The bond itself is more diffuse, and centered on seven elders who may be thousands of miles away... not your local regent or clanmates! Ceterus paribus, if a V1 Tremere has to choose between a local clanmate and Vienna, they will choose Vienna. There is no bond to clanmates, except in as much as the Seven want their clan to work together harmoniously.

                            Notably, "the Seven" does not include the clan founder, Tremere himself.

                            I wonder if the Seven are regarded as having a "high conscience", thus causing the bond to double back. At first glance, I would guess no, but the clan is not in the habit of mass embraces or sending members on clear suicide missions. It seems possible the Seven have at least a mild concern for the welfare of those lower in the pyramid as useful assets. That said, the ability of the Seven to use Dominate on any clan member anywhere and to get hunches about clan members' emotional state is a huge advantage.

                            A Tremere spending willpower to resist (rather than rolling willpower) is a small, but noteworthy, mechanic. It means there is an absolute limit to how much one can rebel, and no amount of lucky rolling will extend it. OTOH, the ability to flatly ignore suicide orders makes cowardice related rebellion much more likely. (eg: "I'm supposed to go fight the Inquisition single-handed while the Seven escape before the bombs go off? Yeah, that's not gonna happen. I'm running, too. Just try to keep up.")

                            The clan flaw can, it seems, be broken entirely if a Tremere avoids their clan long enough. This explicitly makes Anarch and Autarkis Tremere at least hypothetically possible. This also explains why any member of the clan is welcome to visit any Chantry. Even unpleasant contact with the clan counts as contact, and resets the clock that's ticking toward breaking the bond.

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                            • #15
                              Any autarkis tremere are traitors to their cause and should be reindoctrinated if discovered.

                              Keep the koolaid flowing.

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