Why would your Magus Travel to Genoa and not Venice?

Well, for a start it’s a lot closer geographically to the majority of western Tribunals  – the 3 Britannian ones, Normandy, Provence, and Iberia. The same holds for the western parts of the Tribunals of the Greater Alps and Rhine. Venice is really only logically accessible from the eastern Roman Tribunal and perhaps linked parts of the Greater Alps and Rhine, as the western overland trade from Flanders via the fairs of Champagne Po Valley trade drains to Liguria and the wealth of Tuscany is channeled to the port of Genoa’s main rival, Pisa. The still remaining Byzantine parts of Thebes likely hold little love for the Venetian Empire and its merchants in the wake of the disaster of 1204 and by extension, that probably includes much of House Jerbiton IMO and in particular it’s more martial younger members, the so-called Antigones (see Houses of Hermes: Societates). Although magi can readily travel by magic, this does not necessarily make for good stories and companions and grogs do not always have access to or feel comfortable with such methods.

Second, I feel Venice has been done before, or at least partly done before, which makes it  less appealing to me to write about. ArM3 Tribunals of Hermes: Rome details the idea of each Roman covenant having a “town house” in Venice but affords only a small paragraph to Genoa. I can’t seem to find Andrew Gronosky’s old “Saga of Palatini” site any more sadly, only this partly related forum thread – it dealt extensively with a Saga set in Venice. I’d therefore like to attempt to redress the balance. I’d prefer a city where there’s room to create a different sort of transient Hermetic presence – a city of departures and beginnings of stories, rather than an archipelago of petty embassies.

As background for the reasoning behind the whole Mythic Genoa section, I’ve always been interested in this comment from the now sadly defunct blog, Mythic Storytelling, by Timothy Ferguson (bold type in quote is my emphasis):

The Serene Republic is one of those sites where you hope there will one day be a setting book. Next time, how about we not do yet another Tribunal? Well, maybe Greece, and then, let’s just settle down and do Venice instead. Home to chapter houses from a dozen of the most powerful covenants in the world. A global power just grasping the possibility of its empire. This is a setting that’s laden with stories: the sorts of easy obvious stories that don’t require player to really know much history.

Venice is too large, too full of stories to be dealt with in a single blog entry, but I’d advocate it as an excellent place to set stories based on the new rules in “City and Guild”. It has a developed financial system, is ruled by a merchant class, and wages wart to support its trade interests. It is a colonial power, and is willing to give financial aid to allies in distant places in exchange for trade concessions. As such, its presence can loom large in any part of Mythic Europe, as either an aide or rival for magi.

Although we’ve both since worked on Tribunal books (and “Not-Tribunal Books” such as The Cradle and the Crescent), I agree with Timothy’s first main point – I’d like to see a small section of Mythic Europe done in great detail. As to the second point, I believe many of his reasons citing its applicability to City & Guild apply equally to Genoa or several other major trade centres. I actually think Mythic Khashgar on the “Silk Route” to Serica would also be a great place to set a saga – it’s sort of the Terok Nor equivalent for the Mythic Middle East but it’s appeal to the wider Ars audience is likely less than a conventional western European city, so I’ll deal first with Genoa.

I can see this sort of approach is not necessarily something suitable for the official line in terms of a saleable product, so I intend to post my ideas here instead.

Oh, and also finally, on a somewhat puerile note – medieval Venice stinks, at least the Mythic Europe version probably does. I’m not trying to be inflammatory. OK, it’s just the pungent salt water air that becomes most noticeable in the small canals area (particularly when drained for repairs). I suspect to the average medieval traveler that has little experience with the sea and unaccustomed with its scent, their first inhalation of the local aroma would have been a powerful memory…

To Mythic Genoa…

Thanks to Games From Folktales

Timothy Ferguson, an inspiration and great help to me with my writing, has kindly posted about this blog over at Games from Folktales. Given that “My Life as a Grog” was inspired by his own blog, it’s much appreciated.

Therefore in a blatant attempt at self-reciprocating back-scratching, I’d strongly suggest you check out his blog in kind to see where I’m headed with this (and then of course come back here and keep reading!)

The Cradle and the Crescent – now in PDF!

Newsflash just today on the Atlas Games website – my first ArM5 supplement, The Cradle and the Crescent is now available for download as a PDF from e23 (the digital store for Warehouse 23)!

I’m very excited by this for two reasons.

Firstly it means the first print run has sold out – as an author that’s particularly gratifying that people like your work and that your ideas are truly “out there in the wild”. Second and perhaps more practically relevant, it means that I can store the book on my laptop in future, which means less lugging hardcovers around and makes it much easier to research for future writing projects (a process I’ll discuss at a later date hopefully).

At 192 pages, that works out to less than 10c per page, amazing value IMO, but I’m possibly biased.  If that doesn’t sell you, check out the free preview of the ToC and part of the Introduction & Sagas chapter and/or head over to my comments on the writing process and further concepts and ideas cut from the final draft.

Return to the Sands – Revisiting the Levant Tribunal in ArM5

Blood & SandI’ve just added some material here under the likely-to-be-ever-growing Mythic Levant section. It’s a collection of ArM5 conversion notes and additional material for Niall Christie’s ArM4 supplement Blood and Sand: the Levant Tribunal, which is one of my favourite Ars books of all time.

With the advent of The Cradle and the Crescent, there now exist updated rules for sahir, the Jinn  and other Middle Eastern concepts that need addressing.

I hereby beg forgiveness from Niall for “getting out the red pen” and striking though much of his creation in my attempt to update this “classic”!

The Other Republics…

It always irritates me how much attention Venice gets. Sure, it’s a fascinating city with an intriguing past and an influence beyond what its humble origins would suggest, but it’s not necessarily the only option when it comes to an urban port setting. Even if it is admittedly the obvious first choice of many, the Serenissima does not appeal to me greatly.

Call it sour grapes if you like, but I think that the other Maritime Republics (Genoa, Pisa and to a lesser extent perhaps Amalfi, Getae and Lucca) deserve more of a mention and can provide equal, if not greater, potential for stories.

I particularly like Genoa as an alternative to Venice – its a theme I intend to expand upon more on in the weeks to come on this site and hopefully in published form.

Woodcut from Hartmann Schedel’s Weltchronik (Nürnberg 1493), fol. lviii verso
(Wikimedia Commons)