Certamen (Care-TAH-men, Latin for "duel") is the ceremony by which two magi conduct a magical duel. It serves as a non-lethal way for one magus to establish dominance and precedence over another with formal restrictions to keep it from disrupting the unity of the Order. Certamen can be used to settle almost any dispute, and the result of the duel is binding. Certamen can never be used to over-rule the will of a Tribunal or require a magus to overlook the Code of Hermes.
There are primarily two reasons for Certamen: to settle disputes in a quicker and more clear way than through conversation and to resolve disagreements or even antagonism in a more peaceful and less lethal way than a Wizard War. The other reason, especially popular among Tremere magi, is to duel just for the love of it. Certamen is for Hermetic Magi much like duels for knights and aristocrats but with significantly reduced lethality.
Certamen was created in the early ages of Order of Hermes by Bonisagus, with aid of Tremere. After its creation, Certamen was propagated by Tremere, with help of Jerbiton and Trianoma. In those times it was Tremere who was mostly interested in establishing Certamen as the official means of settling down disputes and conflicts. He was the youngest founder of the Order and after mastering his dueling skills it was the only way in which he could face Flambeau and Tytalus alone. In 817 Tremere was able to have Grand Tribunal accept Certamen as "decisive in all disputes", which gave Tremere advantage in pivotal matters.
After The Sundering, the ruling was modified to except conditions of certamen from permitting violations of the Code of Hermes. Nevertheless, Tremere magi continue to train their apprentices to be adept in this structured form of conflict.
Hermetic Magi have developed many styles of combat in Certamen: