Matthew here once again, once again returning to Mage: The Awakening’s Tome of the Pentacle! Two weeks ago we ran a poll to see which of the Lost Orders people wanted to read about the most, and the Tremere won by a handful of votes (stolen, most likely, if their history is anything to go by).
I’m going to post for you a chunky extract from the upcoming Tome of the Pentacle, which I hope you enjoy a great deal! We’ll no doubt spin around to Mage again in weeks to come, but look out for another game preview next week! Which one could it be…?
Magic Must Be Tamed
Nothing in existence can deny the Awakened soul, and no action is too grave taken in service of claiming their rights. These claims demand sacrifice, and the Awakened will sacrifice others in turn to climb until they reach Heaven through their passion. Desire transcends every symbol, a principle of divine smokeless flame, the hunger like fire burning in the heart of all Creation. Beyond the symbols of a mage’s Imago, beyond their Astral self and their spells, lies the complex interplay of the subtle Arcana demarcating the soul’s reflection within reality. Beyond that is will. Beyond even that is hunger.
In the 8th century, the Nameless groups on the fringes of the Diamond’s sphere of influence in India, Scandinavia, and central Europe revealed they had formed an Order via a centralized belief and fully formed praxes with their Supernal symbolism in the Atlantean mode of thought. The Order now known as Tremere formally — and aggressively — requested Diamond membership. The Pancryptiates and Arrow had long and cordial dealings with the Legacies attached to this Nameless Order, regarding them as monster hunters with an interest in souls and an amusing habit of antagonizing the Keepers of the Word. Some raised objections based on the disappearance of another Nameless Order and the dark rumors regarding a horrifically vulgar assault on the Carpathian fortress of Chur, but the Tremere successfully downplayed all concerns and silenced their critics. The discussions of where the Tremere would fit within the Awakened City precipitated the Diamond’s culture growing more self-consciously symbolic. It is either evidence of their unique insights or evidence of their unbridled hubris — or both — that the Tremere represent the most ephemeral aspect of the Awakened City.
Mages join the Tremere when they want to test themselves against beings of great power and take that power by force, they’re interested in delving into the Mysteries of the soul and the subtle Arcana, or they wish to hunt monsters and Reaper Legacies who consume the souls of humanity.
Core Beliefs: Shaking the Boundaries
The will to power is in the blood of the Dragon. The Tremere were made to dominate, destined to challenge hierarchies and break limits in pursuit of the greatest Mysteries. Their oral history — backed by some amount of temporal evidence — holds that their prehistoric progenitors repudiated the old gods of the Supernal. To protect their societies, the “shakers of the borders” claimed the heart-souls of the primeval beings of Spirit and Flesh to fuel acts of great magic and followed — however unknowingly — the universal principles of hunger and passion.
These oral histories and Legacy-based traditions were codified in a sacred text called The Suspire, laying out the history of their constituent Legacies and Nameless Order. Meant to be sung aloud in joyous tones, The Suspire describes the complex numerology that forms the basis of the Tremere’s beliefs. It recounts their mythic history, claiming a connection to prehistoric mages capable of stealing souls from powerful primordial entities and exploiting them to power their Demesnes, and details their contemporary origins up through the storming of Chur. The rest is dedicated to expounding upon the Order’s core beliefs.
Only the most trusted disciples actually read The Suspire to learn the secrets of the Seventh Watchtower, though the Order indoctrinates initiates in its precepts. Where the other Orders believe in emulating the Supernal, the Tremere seek out intercessory entities and wrest their power from them. The Seers may grovel to the Exarchs and the rest of the Diamond practically worships the false Watchtowers, but the Tremere know that magic must be tamed. Forcibly.
Break the Gods
Awakened souls possess limitless potential, but Supernal entities are as limited as the Watchtowers they represent, positioning them below the Exarchs. Yet still they perch beyond humanity’s direct reach, leering at the Fallen World like gargoyles from the parapet and wielding Supernal power of which they are unworthy. The weak prostrate themselves in supplication; the meek bargain and endure the gods’ tests; but the strong, filled with righteous indignation, bind the gods and command them to relinquish their secrets, or even strike them down and claim their seats. Taming the Supernal is an Awakened right.
Contempt for the Inhuman
The undead, the inhabitants of the Astral and the false Arcadia, stranger beings of flesh and spirit — these are of the Sixth Watchtower, the tower of monsters, warping what was once sublime into Fallen forms through the corruption of the Abyss. Destroying them and claiming their power leads humanity closer to the Supernal, step by step. Some Mysterious entities are exceptions, such as the dark creatures made of boundless hunger with a link to the deep Astral Realms where their souls should be, or the soulless beings filled with a curiously familiar fire, and such exceptions leave most Tremere both greatly discomfited and obsessed. For the most part, the inhuman exists to be enslaved or destroyed by those worthier of the power it claims.
For their crimes against the potential of the human soul, Reapers count among these fiends’ numbers and must be hunted — so says official Order doctrine, anyway.
The Seven Dragons
In Tremere parlance, “Dragon” refers to a Watchtower and its corresponding Oracle. The Five Watchtowers, or Dragons, and the Paths they offer to Awakened souls are traps for those who would settle for shackling their potential, like filtering pure white light through a prism and only allowing oneself to see one color. The Sixth Watchtower is the domain of the Fallen Blood, once-sublime beings corrupted by the Abyss into mere monstrous wretches claiming power of which they are unworthy. But a Seventh stands beyond them all as the original road for human souls to walk into the Supernal, unfettered and endlessly ravenous. Those who stood to benefit from seeing that the Awakened never reached their full potential concealed this Watchtower and their servants conspired to seal it away, but the Tremere freed it and devoted themselves to following in its footsteps.
The Seventh Watchtower perfectly reflects every facet of the human soul’s subtle nature, the purest shining beacon calling those souls home to the Supernal through the shrouds of the Abyss and false Paths. Pursuing this Dragon requires the Tremere to master all five subtle Arcana: Death, Fate, Mind, Prime, and Spirit. They study souls more thoroughly — and experiment with them more creatively — than even the most unorthodox of their Diamond colleagues. Other Orders may call them too ambitious, even power-hungry, but the Tremere know the only way to truly cast off the chains of the Fallen World is to embrace that hunger.
The Secret Suspire
The final core tenet of the Tremere is one they don’t reveal to anyone outside the uppermost echelons of the Order. These elite call themselves Hollow, having sacrificed their own souls to the Seventh Dragon in the ultimate act of selflessness for enlightenment’s sake. Thus freed from the tyranny of their Paths, they may devour the souls of others to temporarily sate their infinite hunger and master unhindered the full breadth of the Arcana that govern the soul. In many ways, the Tremere Order as part of the Diamond operates no differently than it will after its exposure; the only major loss it sustains in its expulsion is the convenient organization of ignorant apprentices that helps deflect attention from what the Order’s leadership does in the shadows.
Tremere seek Mysteries involving the soul and the subtle Arcana, or those that lend themselves to being tapped for power. They relish their role in the Diamond as monster- and Reaper-hunters, stalking the world for those of the Fallen Blood, though most leave it to the masters among them to pore over the Praxes, Yantras, soul stones, and Grimoires of these fallen Legacies and dole them out to the other members in further defense of the Awakened Nation. As those who would demand, rather than request, boons and knowledge from Supernal entities, many Tremere are fascinated by the Bound and take every opportunity to find them, study them, and subvert them to their own control.
Magical Symbolism: Hunger
The Tremere must always transgress against the limits of Awakened power, for the endless hunger of the Seventh Dragon can never truly be sated. Avarice leads to freedom. Ambition leads to enlightenment. The Order’s magical tools incorporate blood and viscera, bones, and other grossly physical implements, a stark contrast to their focus on the soul; to the Tremere, the ephemeral and the physical are one, binding the universe with hunger and passion. Bowls and cups feature among their tools as well, waiting to be filled with what the word has to offer.
In a move so characteristic that the Diamond cited it for years as a quick and dirty way to describe the Order to others, the Tremere claimed their own draconic symbolism, which the other Orders disputed but ultimately accepted. In Atlantean symbological parlance, they are Fames Draconis: the Hunger of the Dragon, the desire to dominate all magic, claim Imperium, and breach the boundaries of the universe.
The Dragon seeks domination, and while even the most avaricious Tremere admits it’s theoretically possible to go too far in slaking their lust for knowledge, the truth is most never recognize this line when they cross it. More so than any other Diamond Order, the Tremere push the Wisdom of their initiates, demanding the sacrifice of morality in exchange for power to remake the universe. Their obsession with souls, and their contempt for the lingering humanity in the monsters of the night, all speak to the spiritual damage their drives wreak — but these can be turned toward benign or even altruistic ends, and thus, the Tremere persist.
- Monster Hunter: I grasp the sword of my ancestors, those Hibernian warriors who came before me, and draw it forth from the sheath with the slickened sound of scraped leather. The undead shells hurled at me by some great monster split apart like rotten fruit beneath enchanted steel. As I stalk deeper into his stone tomb, sealed and cared for by an extended barrow-clan, I can feel his soul, heavy and ponderous like stone, and I feel the small pebbles carried by his followers as they rush to meet me. I so look forward to claiming the secrets of his magic. I wonder how heavy the soul will be.
- Apprentice: This is the way of magic, I am told, my eyes downcast. The other Diamond representatives are all disciples and masters, decades into their studies with the keys to a thousand unlocked Mysteries metaphorically dangling from their belts. My House master teaches that the rest of the Diamond has it backward — apprentices must learn the ways of Awakened society and play politics, while the great masters focus on the Mysteries of the soul. As I step up to the Convocation platform to address those gathered, I feel a great rush. The least of the Tremere is peer to the greatest of the rest of the Diamond. I expect my master will want to receive a gratuity forth insight, along with my thanks.
As before, there’s even more material on the Tremere in the Tome of the Pentacle, so do pick up a copy when it comes out in PDF or Print on Demand!
Tune in every Tuesday and Thursday for manuscript preview blogs!