The Glass Pyramid was officially born on December 15th, 1991 when ten Tremere signed the Compact of the Seven Hills, a magically binding contract that forbids the signatories to violate the Traditions of the Camarilla without suffering dire consequence. These Warlocks voluntarily agreed to bind themselves to a higher standard in order to promote the idea that Loyalty to Sect and Loyalty to Clan needn’t be mutually exclusive.
The roots of the Glass Pyramid go back somewhat further, to when a disheartened young elder named Captain Thomas Sawyer began to note a disturbing trend amongst Clan Tremere. Easily the most structured, most cohesive of the great Clans, that structure and cohesion had become increasingly defined as apart from the Camarilla. Neonates were instructed to hold the Traditions as secondary to Clan politics and policy. Rather than being shown that loyalty to the Camarilla is loyalty to the Tremere, they were given example after example of how elder Magi held the Ivory Tower in vague disdain, and viewed it as a tool to aggrandize House and Clan. Fledglings were taught to consider themselves aloof from the Camarilla and its law.
To the Captain’s despair, these issues were given only the barest attention by his elders.
“We gave birth to ourselves from the ashes of the Dark Ages. We were arrogant upstarts who dared to create for ourselves the miracle and curse of undeath. The other Clans did their utmost to stamp us out, and against all odds, with desperation born of mean survival, we persevered. Our Thaumaturgy aided us; it represented our flexibility and adaptability. The other Clans were born long eons ago, and had largely stratified. We made ourselves, and then refined ourselves, and never stopped evolving.”
“That innovative spirit once marked us as the most modern, most progressive of Clans. It guaranteed that we rode the furthest edge of human advancement, both technological and political. We promoted via meritocracy, even when it meant the young led the old. Those innovators are now ancients in their own right. And having held power by merit for so long, they are now threatened by excellence in others."
“As a result, merit isn't encouraged, or nurtured; it is stamped out. It is pruned, plucked, and made to vanish in the night. Those who remain to rise in power and influence smugly congratulate themselves on their political acumen. But the leadership of our Clan increasingly loses its brilliant thinkers, and becomes composed primarily of the most adept betrayers.”
SEATTLE AND THE COMPACT
These thoughts proved out in Seattle during the latter half of the Twentieth Century. A powerful Tremere Elder named Cornell began a steady rise to power, while all around him his enemies faltered or vanished. He ruled the city through a puppet Prince, disposed of rivals, and conducted obscene and forbidden experiments upon those who couldn’t defend themselves from his predation.
When his crimes finally came to light, they represent a resume of callousness, abuse and evil to rival the most depraved imaginations. Clan Tremere dealt swiftly with exposed criminal, but his execution did little to heal the horrific wounds he’d left behind. Captain Sawyer was placed in charge of the city’s Tremere. He closeted himself away with Lucian Bright, a Tremere Elder who had dwelt in Seattle since its earliest days. He was the only member of House and Clan who had lived through Cornell’s rise without becoming either his victim or his accomplice. When the pair emerged, they had formulated a plan.
The Compact of the Chantry of the Seven Hills was drawn up, and the Tremere summoned for Cornell’s Tribunal were invited to sign. Over time the list of signatories grew as the purpose and pledge of the Glass Pyramid resonated outside of Seattle. This list’s purpose makes it necessarily public. It is designed to be available to any Prince or Camarilla Kindred: a list of Tremere who are magically incapable of violating the Traditions. These Tremere can be relied upon to serve the needs of the Sect as a whole, and build bridges of trust where the past decades had brought only erosion.
Early in 2014, fluctuations in hermetic sympathies began to erode the power of the Blood Contract. As happens from time to time, the nature of magic itself was subtly shifting, rendering the document inert. Rather than attempt to redraft the Compact in order to fit the newer and more stringent parameters necessary for mystical contracts, the decision was made to leave it as it is: an aspirational document, enforced socially, rather than mystically.</p>
TRANSPARENCY - The primary philosophy of the Glass Pyramid is to bring a greater degree of transparency and trust to Clan dealings with the Sect.
There are Clan secrets that must be held in confidence. Yet there are others that cannot be considered secret by any definition. These are things so broadly known that to deny them only undermines trust. To maintain these cherished mysteries serves no purpose, and conveys no advantage.
Clan Tremere is led by a hierarchy of elders. They gain their influence by right of age, prestige, and personal power. This statement applies to almost every Clan, and pretending it doesn’t apply to House and Clan is blatantly disingenuous. One needn’t define titles, roles, and duties. Other Clans certainly do not. But admitting that which is self-evident is not a breach of trust.
The existence of Chantries, the creation of Gargoyles, Clan Tremere’s bloody birth in the Dark Ages; all these subjects are referenced in Camarilla treaties, encapsulated by numerous branches of Sect and Clan Lore, and cannot under any reasonable definition be considered privileged information. It is too widely known by the Kindred public.
The Glass Pyramid does not espouse providing slavish details on these subjects to anyone who asks. They argue that instinctively lying about the mere existence of these things is counter-productive, and makes the speaker appear either misinformed or dishonest. Every Clan has secrets and confidences. No Clan is expected to offer them all at a whim.
CAMARILLA LAW - Mortal men (and younger Kindred) are becoming increasingly adept with alarmingly sophisticated tools. This represents a direct threat to the continuing health of the Masquerade. When human beings possess information-gathering resources we can't even anticipate, we are pushed into an ever-shrinking corner. This makes the unity and guidance represented by the Camarilla all the more important.
"I was born and raised during a tumultuous time where the citizens rose up against tyranny, and forged a new destiny for themselves. I was weaned on the ideals of the Enlightenment- liberty, fraternity, justice. And so I know that the Camarilla is imperfect. I know it lends itself to petty tyrannies and whimsical rule. But I also feel that it is the best and most just system for governing a citizenry where individual members can have such vast and disparate personal power. The absolute power of the Prince, tempered by the stabilizing influences of status and prestation is a guard against total anarchy."
"Some might say that total anarchy is synonymous with total freedom; but in a society without consequence and foresight, the already strained Masquerade could not long survive. The Camarilla must persevere. The Traditions that bind the citizens of the Camarilla must be upheld, and cannot be allowed to become options to be discarded when inconvenient."
This list of signatories is a matter of public record within the Sect. The list, along with the Compact, is maintained at the Chantry of the Seven Hills in Seattle, and is available to any member of the Camarilla.
"Loyalty to the Camarilla is loyalty to Clan Tremere. Loyalty to Clan Tremere must include loyalty to the Camarilla. The two are inseperable, and without one, the other will surely perish." — Captain Sawyer
"There is no surer bond than loyalty freely sworn, no greater proof than utter transparency. I am loyal to the Clan and the Tower; I invite whatever scrutiny you require." — Evelyn Atwood
"I believe that Clan Tremere needs to be forward thinking in order to survive. Denying and outright lying to our fellow Camarilla members is a path that will lead to more darkness and betrayal and never bring us closer together. It's sad that we must sign a contract to force us to bind as one force together, united for the greater good of the camarilla. Perhaps one day this movement will be looked back upon as the moment when the greatness of Clan Tremere is accepted instead of feared." — Alister MacArthur
"It is a heavy price that we pay, but I pay it gladly. The reward is sleeping the sleep of the just." — David Daniel Steiner
"They offered a path to salvation that I long thought was denied to me. While controversial, what they offer is progress, putting aside our history, and moving forward with the Sect that is synonymous with our name." — Viktor Cantemir
"Those who remain purposely blind to the future become the figments of history." — Amaris Ingram
"Good doesn't mean stupid. Loyal is not the same being blind. Without a clear-cut code to guide our loyalties to clan AND sect - the Clan will slowly descend into darkness. How many times do we have to witness it to be convinced? Uh, apparently a lot. Well sugar, NOT on my watch." — Alexander Morgenstern
"The evil that litters the history of our race, and of House Tremere in particular, isn't the cunning self-interest of dark gods. It is laziness. We've burned alliances, sacrificed morality, and abandoned ethics because we weren't willing to find another way. The time for sloth has ended." — Richard Adams
"What do I think of the Glass Pyramid? That's an excellent question. I've had numerous productive and frank discussions with its members on the topic. Do I agree with the approach taken by the Glass Pyramid? That's an excellent question. I've had numerous productive and frank discussions with its members on the topic." — Oliver Mayne
"There are many types of glass. I have seen glass clear and free of flaws. I have seen glass warped, yellowed, filled with bubbles and obscurities. I have seen volcanic glass, black as midnight and just as murky. Yes, there are many types of glass." — Eileen
That’s the question we see asked most often. Sean Alexander and Alex T. came up with the idea early in 2012 after Alex talked Sean down from his mohawked Tremere rock-star concept. Shamed into doing something slightly more responsible, and yet still wanting to break Clan Tremere’s twenty-year streak of mustache-twirling villainy, the Glass Pyramid was born.
We see it every Chronicle, and we bitch about the same things all the time.
"The Tremere are lying, always."
"The Tremere are all Nazi Gargoyle-making mad science torture freaks."
"The Tremere internal structure is blatantly betraying the Traditions."
To counteract these intuitive conclusions, the answer is a “Tremere Clan Concept” that necessarily acknowledges them, and response with transparency. This will require giving up some golden cows of the Tremere Clan, such as denying the existence of the Pyramid and internal hierarchy, denying the Clan's history steeped in appalling magical experiments and Diablerie, and denying that very recently, Tremere probably did shitty things.
The key to this concept is to avoid the typical OOC arguments regarding what is the right or proper way to play a Tremere. Such arguments are never productive. Our strategy is to accept that the "wrongness" of Tremere portrayal is a legitimately in-character development, and represents the slow corruption and devolution of an otherwise noble House. We are trying to redeem it using in-character mechanisms.
Simply speaking, our members are determined to come across as normal, and - above else - Camarilla-loyal, and utterly devoted to upholding the traditions.
THE MEMBERS WE WANT
White-hatted true believers
Evil Tremere seeking a path to redemption
Camarilla loyalists who see the natural practical truth that while the Camarilla isn't perfect and isn't "just", it offers the best most rational chance for crazy-ass vampires to live in peace; and/or those that understand that as Tremere, the youngest and most modern Clan, it is our job to adjust with the times and find a way to make it work for all parties involved
Amoral Tremere who recognize the value of adopting behavioral standards that help them gain prestige and credit within the Camarilla, while keeping the torch-wielding mobs at bay
THE TYPES OF THINGS WE DO
Enforce and follow the traditions, status, and will of the Camarilla as expressed by its paragons
Propagate the idea that Clan Tremere is a necessary and vital part of the Camarilla Kindred World
Deal with Tremere fuck-ups in a proper Camarilla AND Clan sanctioned fashion
Help Princes deal with Tremere fuck-ups in a proper Camarilla AND Clan sanctioned fashion
Deal with Tremere rogues who are acting against the best interests of the Clan and Camarilla in a proper Camarilla AND Clan sanctioned fashion
Bring more good Tremere into the fold
THE TYPES OF THINGS WE NEVER DO
Publicly question the Camarilla’s purpose, its values, or the Traditions
Attack loyal Princes of the Camarilla
Deny that the Tremere have additional internal structure, etc
Deny that Bad Shit happened during the Dark Ages, and lots of vampires died, often because of our Clan
Grab plot items and run off with them to stash them in our magical bags of holding
Deny that we are magic users in order to be more secretive
Cackle evilly, or wear obviously ‘dark sorcerer’ type of magical clothing that makes us look like Disney villains
Disobey rightful commands by loyal court officers, Princes, Archons, Justicars, or Tremere superiors
HOW TO JOIN
Now that Chronicle has started, we prefer to add folks in character. There are several steps to this process.
STEP ONE involves finding a sponsor. This is a purely IC procedure where the candidate PC makes the proper contact, and does the IC legwork of asking questions, getting answers, and then deciding to know more.
STEP TWO comes when the candidate actually wants to petition to sign the Compact. Anyone can adopt these standards of conduct and be a better Kindred for it. The signing of the Compact is akin to a righteous man entering the clergy. It’s a commitment that isn’t necessary to prove one’s virtue.
The candidate will be invited to send a proxy to Seattle to represent their PC visiting the Chantry of the Seven Hills. Any interested Glass Pyramid member will be invited to attend. The candidate will be given a tour, and great effort will be made to ensure that they understand the seriousness of the commitment represented by the Compact. Assuming they are still agreeable, they will be brought into the heart of the Chantry.
STEP THREE is an interview session under the auspices of a Court of Hallowed Truth. This is the process by which the current members vet incoming candidates and assure themselves that the potential recruit knows what they are getting into. At the end of the interview, the attending Glass Pyramid members will vote. A vote against isn’t necessarily condemnation. The sanctity of the Compact is risked every time a new signature is added, so they are never added lightly.
We’re not trying to create the world’s most inclusive list of participants. We’re trying to make an iron-clad guarantor of proper conduct.
STEP FOUR happens when the vote is positive. The Candidate will be added to our email list and have his or her name appended to the Compact. The player will get a shiny new pin, and a pile of Tremere who are deeply invested in their continued success. Because the Compact no longer represents an active Blood Contract, there is no further mechanical element to this process.
THE SEVEN HILLS COMPACT
In many ways the entire Glass Pyramid philosophy is an elaborate marketing mechanism for the Compact. This was one of the core concepts when we started dreaming up this gimmick, and it’s stayed somewhat unchanged because (like the Constitution) everything else derives from it.
The Seven Hills Compact is a series of Blood Contracts shared by adherents of the Glass Pyramid philosophy. Because it is magically binding, it is an iron-clad guarantor that the Tremere in question is not a fuck-up. The oath does this by restricting behavior to the point of self-defeat. Our challenge is to never lose the moral high ground that is the FIRST AND ONLY REWARD of our dedication, virtue, and self-control. This is what the Compact does, and what it represents.
The Seven Hills Compact is kept in two parts in Seattle. The first is a parent document outlining the Seven Hills Compact (below). The second is a series of Blood Contracts that incorporate the Compact by reference. In essence, each participant signs the Compact, and then signs a Blood Contract agreeing to abide by the terms of the Compact as it was when they signed it on XX date.
The list of signatories to the Compact will be publicly available. The signatories are bound by the power of the Contract to obey its tenets or risk immediate torpor. This is a major commitment, and will never, ever be forced on anyone.
Due to rules changes with the adoption of the BNS Rules set in 2014, the Blood Contract as written is no longer really viable. Rather than attempt to shoehorn our old concept into the new parameters, the decision was made to let the Blood Contract aspect of the Compact fade away, so that rather than a magically enforced document, it is merely an aspirational one. This certainly changes the tone of the organization, but it also has the side benefits of obviating a lot of the bookkeeping and tracking necessitated by hard mechanics.
All enforcement of the Seven Hills Compact is strictly social.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Even before Chronicle starts there’s a lot of misinformation floating around about what we’re trying to do with this concept. To attempt to stem some of that, here is a FAQ we’ve been maintaining and adding to since we started.
Q:What do I do if someone asks me if my clan destroyed the Salubri and diablerized their antediluvian?
A: “The dark ages were a frightening time. Atrocities were committed on all sides, at all levels. Our House fought a war with a vampiric Clan, and believe me when I say our losses were horrifying.”
Q:So we’ll betray Clan secrets with our whack-ass openness and transparency and shit? Our Elders will murder us!
A: “We live in the modern age. If we do not engage in transparent dealings, transparency will be forced upon us by simple technological progress. It is our excessively secretive nature, even when we don’t need to be secret, that leads to so much distrust.”
Q:Fine, so scenario A: some Tremere in NEARBY DOMAIN is a total toolbag and disgracing the Clan. What’s our typical response?
A: “We approach the Prince, and ask him if he would like assistance dealing with his bad egg. We do not violate the Tradition of Destruction. If the prince says no, we remind him that he need only call on us, at no cost.”
Q:OK, scenario B: some Tremere in NEARBY DOMAIN is being a douche, but apparently loyal to her local toolbag prince, so there’s no easy way to just ask the prince to remove the bad Tremere, ‘cause the prince likes his pet idiot Tremere.
A: “We petition the Pyramid to recall said bad egg. They’re undermining our sanctioned effort to improve Clan relations with their jack-assery. If the Pyramid refuses, then we shine all the brighter from the contrast with a neighboring fuck-up.”
Q:Prince Billy sez: “So, tell me about this pyramid of yours. You have rituals, eh? What rituals? What magics do YOU possess? I demand to know. I am your Prince.”
A: “All Clans have secrets, traditions, and histories that they don’t share. They are part of our culture, and bind us with a sense of shared unity and purpose. Our magics are at your disposal, but we will not teach them without permission from our Elders.” That’s as non-controversial a stance as can possibly exist.
Q:So, the asshole Lord of the Southwest decides that we’ve been no good for whatever reasons. How do we deal with powerful Tremere inside the pyramid who harbor us ill?
A: “Having internal enemies and rivals is part of the entertaining challenge of this concept. That being said, we have the advantage of being (probably) amongst the most mechanically powerful Tremere in game, and having (hopefully) a limited mandate from the Pyramid NPCs.”
Q:Are there any powers (infernalism aside) that we would frown on our members to possess? (Sabbat Thaum?)
A: “Power isn’t the problem. It’s using it in a rational, responsible way, and gaining it without breaking the Traditions.”
Q:Do we have any strong feelings about blood bonds, either to others or ourselves, that exceed normal Clan policy?
A: “Blood Bonds that reinforce pre-existing affections aren’t uncommon (in our Chronicle). Blood Bonds that enslave others is a pitch perfect example of the sort of behavior that vilifies the practitioner. ‘Enslaving’ other Kindred is a dick move.”
Q:We don’t try to prevent any of our members from becoming princes or any other type of officer (Archon, whatever), correct? Are we actively trying to build a political powerbase, as well, or are we ‘just’ Good Tremere Guys/Gals?
A: “The ideal position for a Tremere is a Seneschal. The surest way to prevent the appearance of being a grasping, power-hungry jackass is to not take as much power as is offered. That being said, we won’t prevent members from becoming Princes.”
Q:Do we admit (to other Tremere or to non-Tremere) that we’re basically a large loose coterie inside the Clan? How do we handle accusations of parallel loyalties/separate oaths/etc?
A: “Coterie is a misnomer. We are a grass-roots movement who all share a vision for a redeemed Clan Tremere. We will tend to be progressive, even radical thinkers. It takes a radical thinker to give up some of Clan Tremere’s cherished ghoulishness. We are an internal political movement, not a Coterie.”
Q:Do we ‘obviously’ hang out with each other at conventions in-character, giving the open impression of ‘a crew’?
A: “Bonds of fellowship are very important. But in that same vein it is critically important that House Tremere not be seen as being so xenophobic. Make friends and alliances outside of the Clan. Have allies. Have a Coterie. Just as you wouldn’t (hopefully) break the Traditions for your Coterie, don’t betray your Clan for your Coterie.”
Q:Have any of us been antitribu or similar (rogues, etc) in the past?
A: “If we want to redeem our Clan, we must be willing to believe redemption is possible. We will not trust blindly, but we will accept that those who truly wish to be part of this movement can have a place within it.”
Q:How do we ‘admit’ new members once the game starts? Can anyone add new people (to the email list/the club/the whatever)?
A: “Since the document will be magical, it will be singular. Those who wish to sign it may do so, after we are reasonably certain that they understand the ramifications. Adding people after game starts is an absolute goal. In fact, we should err on the side of having a tight-knit group to start with, rather than overwhelming numbers. This concept will be more stable and have greater buy-in if it grows naturally through game-time.”
Q:Can you be ‘kicked out’ of this private Tremere club dealie if you’re enough of a jackass? (how?)
A: “You can be. A Tremere who proves himself incapable of behaving in a manner that comports with these (admittedly difficult) ideals and strictures will be removed. They will be thanked for their time and participation and asked to leave. If they refuse they will be ordered to leave. These issues will be discussed openly and honestly within the Chantry, and the membership will petition the ranking Tremere to abide by the will of the constituency.”
Q:Do we avenge our members’ deaths?
A: “If it can be done without violating the traditions, yes. If the death was blatantly earned through jackassery, probably not. Blindly defending those who clearly deserve to suffer the consequences of their actions is a dick move.”
Q:So, like, no black robes and magic symbols and silver occult jewelry at every game? What about my silver skull cane? A dress code? Really?
A: “There’s a lot of wiggle room here. In general, the spooky outfits and blatant occultism is a result of the desire to project an air of menace and power. We want to project an air of dignity and trustworthiness. There may be some overlap, but a reasonable person will know the difference. Every member will be required to possess at least some common sense.”
Q:So we’re all goody two-shoes, then, right?
A: Some of us are. The rest of us are just practical realists. Good and evil aren’t the point. The point is rescuing the reputation of House and Clan from the stigma it traditionally suffers as blatantly, nakedly untrustworthy, self-serving, and treacherous.
Q:Why ‘glass pyramid’?
A: Unprecedented transparency is one of our most radical tenets. But also consider the connotation of fragility. This is precious. We need to handle it with care.
I want to note that we are very open to be contacted either in character or out of character. The information is freely available; that’s the whole point. It’d be a shame for folks to hate us for totally inaccurate reasons.