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…

4 thoughts on “Why would your Magus Travel to Genoa and not Venice?”

  1. Excellent reasons, except the smell. Some of hte Venetians at thetime said thaqt theirs was the only city in Europe that washed down its streets twice a day, due to the tides. 8)

    Venice still has a lot of potential, because theg ame has preloaded it with hooks.

    Personally, I’d love to see a book set in Sicily. In ToH:R it was a footnote, and it really is this wonderful place where you have magi and sorcerers and an an emporer who is pro-magic and is fighting the pope, and you have nightwalker armies in the hills, and Norman knights for the homesick English player. It’s just got so much great stuff.

    I’m glad you are doing Genoa. If enough of us each take a city, we can put some fresh blood into what’s really the heart of the Order. (The Black Forest? Are you kidding? The law, maufactured magic items, and commercial post come from Italy. The Black Forest is just an R&D site.)

    1. I’m just kidding about the smell – it’s the kind of thing a Mythic Genovese would say about their Venetian rivals though. Still, the concepts of “the scent of the sea” being able to carry a magical effect is appealing whether it benign or malign. Perhaps a malign hedge magician uses the Scent range to affect the Venetians – their attempts to clean and drain the minor canals may be linked to this? I’ve been thinking about these sort of non-standard maritime parameters eg. a Conditional Duration that works while “In Sight of Land” or conversely “Out of Sight of Land”.

      I agree a bout Sicily though – enormous potential for all the reasons you give above.

      1. Magic based on coastlines would be very powerful in those player-favourite Tribunals situated in the British Isles. You’re never more than 72 miles from the coast.

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