At the northern apex of the Tyrrhenian Sea, Genoa is the natural Mediterranean port for the upper Po valley, France and the lands of the Holy Roman Empire beyond the Alps. Its merchant fleet dominates the western Mediterranean and Genoese galleys sail to Spain, North Africa, Cyprus, Alexandria and the distant coastal ports of the Holy Land. Although some magi and Redcaps may be able to travel through magic, many choose for various reasons to travel by mundane means and their grogs and companions are seldom afforded the chance to travel by magic.
Genoa is thus a natural waypoint in the west for characters wishing to travel throughout Mythic Europe.
Although not known for its manufacturing excellence, Genoa does produce several exceptional products that are worth traveling to the city directly to purchase. The first is the infamous arbalest used by its crossbowmen in its skirmishes locally and abroad. The second is the galley, the oared ship used throughout the Mediterranean for trade, piracy and warfare. The third product consists of all the rope, tackle, sails and other necessities of shipboard life – anything used on the sea or relating to a ship can be found in Genoa for a price.
The Pilgrimage of a Flambeau
An elderly Flambeau hoplite, worn from his years fighting hedge wizards and rogue Hermetic magi, has decided to seek redemption for his violent past and sinful life. To this end he has taken the pilgrim’s oath, forsworn the use of Hermetic magic and seeks passage to the Holy Land so he may pray at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Unfortunately his Gift makes negotiation with mundanes difficult, so he approaches one of the magi to help with his journey offering two seasons of teaching in their chosen Art or a collection of valuable tractati in return.
Rules for Pilgrimages are presented in The Church, pages 16-19. The hoplite wishes to gain the effects of the Gentle Gift Virtue, making his Pilgrimage Target Level 30. Given his considerable magical prowess, a condition of his pilgrimage is that he may not use magic or violence during his journey except in extreme self-defense. At the Troupe’s discretion this may be reflected by a temporary vow without mechanical consequences. Alternatively, the older magus may have sought magical assistance from the Quaesitors to help prevent him succumbing to temptation by casting The Will of Alethea ritual upon him before his departure (see Houses of Hermes: True Lineages, “Fenicil’s Rituals” on page 77.)
Regardless of the exact option chosen to neutralize his magic, the elder magus must rely on his companions for protection along the route, forcing the characters to be the major protagonists in any encounters along the route. Obstacles may include dishonest merchants, encounters with sea creatures, attacks by pirates or demonically driven storms. An old enemy, whether the apprentice of one of the mage’s fallen hedge wizard foes or perhaps just a rival hoplite slighted in the past, may provide a formidable challenge to a young wizard tasked with protecting his now pacifist charge.
A Ship Befitting a Magus
Although few ships are built within the city itself, the smaller dependent communes and coves along the Ligurian coast to either side are home to numerous shipyards that provide the galleys and other vessels for the Genoese fleet. As the location of the shipyard is mainly dependent on a good supply of local wood, the yards are scattered and somewhat isolated, making them seem ideal locations for a Hermetic laboratory or project seeking to escape mundane attention.
Magi following the path of the Hermetic Shipwright (see Hermetic Projects and the supplementary article by Mark Lawford in Sub Rosa #10) may consider one of the concealed rocky inlets of the Ligurian coast on either side of Genoa well suited to their plans. Unfortunately, the commune considers all ships built within its territory as property of the state and would be Hermetic landlords may need to resort to concealment, bribery or other means to ensure their privacy.
The Best Crossbows in Christendom
More than any other weapon the crossbow is considered symbolic of Genoa. The compagna controlled the Balistai corporation produces exceptional quality examples for use by Genoese mercenaries and marines (see below). A martial magus interested in enchanting a crossbow as a magical device that lacks the requisite Craft skill to make an arbalest himself has little option other than to purchase a Genoese weapon.
Such weapons are not sold readily however and the open interest of a Gifted magus will certainly arouse the suspicion of the authorities. Even a mundane companion with a desire for a unique weapon may have trouble convincing a local craftsman to sell their city’s iconic weapon to an outsider. Theft, whether mundane or magical, is an option but one with undesirable consequences – a trade in exotic goods or outright bribery may therefore be a preferable option. Several noble families may be interested in equipping their enforcers with enchanted weaponry, but magi pursuing this course may quickly find themselves running afoul of the Peripheral Code…