As the region of Sardinia with the greatest Genoese presence in 1220, Torres will provide the setting for most of my Sardinian material relevant to ArM5. From a meta perspective, culturally the area is less Pisan than the rest of Sardinia and more distinct culturally than nearby Gallura, which still harbours elements found in Corsica, including a variant of the mazzeru Nightwalker tradition referred to as culpadori.
The deuterocanonical Hermetic presence is light enough to accomodate a new covenant, albeit arguably just within the are of influence of the potentially hostile established covenant of Verdi, provoking the need to deal with a more powerful neighbour through alliance, vassalage, diplomacy or even violence.
This north western “judgeship” is the most fertile part of the island thanks to its soft volcanic soil, hence the alternate name for the region as Logudoro (Sard: “golden place”). The region once acted as the main granary for the Roman Empire but currently offers little in the way of export resources. The largest of the four medieval giudicati, Logudoro was once united with the nearby Giudicato of Arborea until the late 11th century and is divided into 20 curatoriae, each ruled by an appointed official known as a curatores. Although historically claimed by the Archbishop of Pisa, the petty kingdom was recently more closely allied with Genoa, and in 1220 the situation has become more complex.
The current hereditary judge or petty king, Marianus II, has ruled the lands of his father, Comita II, for the last three years but parts of his quasi-kingdom are firmly controlled by his Genovese brother in law, Emmanuelle Doria from his fortress at Alghero. Marianus’ daughter and later heir, Adelasia, has just married Ubaldo, the son of the Pisan Lamberto Visconti in 1218, rousing the ire of Pope Honorius III, but so far the marriage has survived an attempt at annulment. From an ecclesiastical viewpoint, the area is still nominally under the suzerainty of the Archbishop of Torres, Blasius, a supporter of Innocent III and vassal of Lotario Rosari, Archbishop of Pisa. The majority of Romanesque churches were built by Pisan masons and rival anything built in Tuscany in terms of grandeur. Despite this strong influence, the Genoese have managed to establish and maintain several trading stations that are regularly used by their merchant fleet.
Founded around a Roman castellum intially as Colonia Julia and then later known as Turris Libyssonis, this town was once the only major port of Sardinia in ancient times. Due to the Saracen raids of the 11th century the majority of the lay population moved several miles inland to Sassari, leaving the Pisan built Basilica of San Gavino as the seat of the archdiocese. An old Roman bridge of seven stone arches spans the Rio Mannu and the remains of a Temple to Fortuna lie just outside of the medieval town, nestled within a small Magic aura of 3. At least four significant nuraghi rock formations (see below) can be found in the nearby vicinity.
Like Alguerium on the west coast, this fortress port is firmly controlled by the Genoese Doria family, who built it about a century ago to consolidate their influence over northern Sardinia. Centred on Doria Castle, the surrounding village is perched as if riding a wave of rock out into the sea. Genoese ships are welcome here, although venturing further inland is not encouraged.
The most notable local feature is Elephant Rock, a life-sized granitic boulder shaped like an African elephant on the road leading inland. Local legend attributes the feature to one of Hannibal’s elephants that strayed during the invasion of Italy and was cursed by one of the local witches. The formation is associated with a Magic aura of 3.
This dry mountainous island is dominated by a sparse scrub of low mastic trees, junipers and wild olive clutches although a small holm oak forest, useful to passing ships as a source of timber for repairs, clings to the northern tip. Three sandy beaches can be found on its concave eastern coast but it is otherwise difficult to access due to its rocky shore. Apart from the albino donkeys that give the island its name (see below), the only other wildlife are occasional mouflon and wild boar.
The islet has an overall Magic aura of 2, although there are at least half a dozen Domus de Janes (Sard: “Houses of the Witches” or “Houses of the Faeries”, small neolithic chamber tombs found throughout Sardinia) that contain each a Faerie aura of 3. Outlines of horns and spirals are carved into the stone walls of the interior, hinting at their use as burial sites or fertility chambers.
Insert: The Ruins of Rellantali
A crumbled stone keep hidden amidst the undergrowth long since abandoned, this site was once the fortress of a group of Tytalus and Flambeau magi that helped defend the island from Saracen invaders in the 11th century. In the early 13th century the magi shifted their focus and efforts to a complex of Venetian townhouses, leaving only a solitary magus and a handful of covenfolk to maintain their former holdings. With the violent passing into Final Twilight of the last Hermetic inhabitant, Idus of Flambeau, during a duel in 1213, the need for the Sardinian fortress became suddenly redundant and its Hermes Portal was de-activated from the Venice end as a security measure.
The locals have always avoided the place and the only visitors to the courtyard now are the occasional wild donkey looking for shelter from storms. The former covenfolk have long since disappeared, either merging into the rural peasantry or departing for Venice with their masters. The site has lost its former strength and retains only the island’s weak background Magic aura of 2. The two former Hermetic laboratories are long abandoned and of little use as all the equipment, lab texts and other books have long since been moved to the Venetian townhouses. Although officially still the property of the Venetian scions of the covenant, any claim to the physical structure is unlikely to be contested beyond a formality.
The original covenant of Rellantali is now deuterocanonical as it was first presented in ArM3 Tribunal of Hermes: Rome, pages 82-87. Given the Asinara site was all but abandoned in 1197 and beginning ArM5 Sagas are default set to 1220, it makes sense that the fortress is now a Hermetic ruin and the Sardinian end of the Hermes Portal is inactive.
The majority of the suggested Story Seeds for this site in the original supplement dealt with its Venetian holdings in any case and I want to keep any Mythic Genoa material clearly separate from any official or unofficial Venetian project that may arise. The site is not that attractive for potential Hermetic resettlement, but might make a suitable base for an allied hedge wizard or a small Chapter House focused on the local faeries.
Insert: Asinara Donkeys
The wild albino donkeys of Asinara are superficially similar to onagers elsewhere in Mythic Europe but are in fact Faerie in origin, each with a Faerie Might of 10. They have the same basic statistics of a wild ass (see here for details) except for their slightly smaller frame (Size+1), but possess the following additional Virtues and Flaws: Faerie Beast, Unaffected by the Gift; Small Frame, Susceptible to Deprivation.
The current capital of the giudicato and site of the ruler’s main castle, this small town lies several miles inland from Sassari but is one of the few in the region to have a stone wall. The church of Santa Maria del Regno, built in the 11th century by Pisan workers out of dark basalt imported from the mainland acts as the chapel of the giudicati’s stronghold.
Founded in 1102 by the Genoese Doria family, this fortress port (later known as Alghero) is the main Sardinian base for Genoese galleys traveling south, providing a stopover for ships traveling onwards to North Africa since the loss of Bonifacio to the Papacy in 1217. The town also provides a relatively safe haven for Genoese ships returning from the Balearic islands. Along the coastline of the bay is a wealth of red coral, favoured by Hermetic magi for its potential use in enchanting protective effects against demons (Shape & Material bonus +10 versus demons, ArM5 page 110).
Nearby lie the mystically charged Sea Grottoes of Capo Caccia (see separate page).