Tremere: A View From Without
This is perhaps one of the most feared clans in vampiric society. Even the young can bring a shiver to an elder's spine, and with excellent reason.
No other clan has as many direct and declared enemies as the Tremere. Yet they survive and prosper, steadily gaining ground in the shadowy recesses of the Camarilla. They have successfully waged propaganda wars against whole clans, and silenced those who would try the same tactics against them. Those who openly ally themselves against the Tremere find they have a willing and capable enemy.
No other clan values order and cohesion as the Tremere do, and certainly none execute it as flawlessly. This is partially due to the pyramid of blood oaths, but it also has a great deal to do with the 'social' habits of the clan. Of course they are not perfect Samaritans to one another - there are plots and power plays aplenty within the clan. If another Kindred crosses a Tremere, however, it may well mean the transgressor suddenly finds herself with a Chantry full of enemies instead of just one. Furthermore, the exact nature of the rigid structure of the clan is not widely known beyond those of the blood. To outsiders, the Tremere often appear even more unified than they actually are - a powerful deterrent to those who would entertain thoughts of treachery.
No other clan's powers are as diverse as the Tremere's, and none are as unknown. Many believe there is little the Warlocks can't do with their blood magic, and many more would rather not think about it. The picture painted of the blood rituals practiced deep in the bowels of chantry houses are enough to turn a seasoned ancilla's stomach, and the whispered possibilities of the results are even more frightening. Though few Kindred of any age would admit it, it is impossible to predict what a single Tremere is capable of. It is wholly unsettling to imagine what an entire chantry might be able to do. The blood arts of the Tremere lend a foreboding air of mystery and malevolence to the clan that few Kindred would ever truly care to test.
The Tremere make a habit of offering their services to other Kindred in need, though it is never a simple act of kindness. They drive hard bargains, and always use the advantage of the upper hand. What seems like a favor traded will eventually reveal itself to be a deal with the devil. Far too many Kindred learn all too late that if a Tremere has struck a deal with them, it's because the Tremere made out better. More often than not, the only thing more ghastly than the boon returned is the punishment for a broken pact.
Slowly but surely, the other clans are learning that while no one was looking the Tremere have been devising ways to safeguard themselves against the controlling powers of other Kindred. Many are already quite capable not only of resisting the machinations of Kindred Presence, but of turning it back upon its wielder. In time they will gain mastery enough to sneer at the chains of Dominate as well. Perhaps a few have begun to realize that once this happens, they will be powerless to control the Tremere. They already wisely bond themselves to their elders and so cannot be subjugated that way. Once they can carelessly laugh at the controlling powers of Dominate and Presence, they will be a force unto themselves.
The Tremere are rumored to be the one clan that does not descend from Caine. Whispers about their mysterious origins circulate in vampiric circles. While many say all Kindred must descend from Caine, others tell a different story. They portend that the Tremere - powerful human sorcerers before they were Kindred - made themselves immortal through magic. This too is a frightening concept. Most vampires had no choice in their embrace, no choice in their damnation. The Tremere worked studiously for it, and welcomed the change with open arms.
The Tremere are the only clan who's Antitribu counterparts have been successfully done away with. For many Kindred, the rumors that have managed to reach them about the Tremere Antritibu's demise is all the proof they require that the Warlocks are staggeringly powerful and utterly unforgiving. It was once believed that the Tremere bond was stronger than sect beliefs, and so those Tremere who allied with the Sabbat never found persecution at the hands of their Camarilla brethren or vice versa. When it began to become known that in a single night - in a single strike - all Tremere who declared allegiance to the Sword of Caine were turned to pillars of ash, the insidious scope of both Tremere power and Tremere vengeance began to take discernible shape.
Add to all of this the numerous dramatic subtleties much of the clan employs to further enhance the air of chilling ambiguity that surrounds them - austere, dark clothing and cryptic speech, for example - and it becomes quite clear how clan Tremere has painstakingly earned its reputation. It also becomes quite clear that they have no desire to dispel whatever scary mythology others have created around them. It becomes crystal clear why so many Kindred fear this clan as a whole and as individuals, and rightly so.