Tag Archives: City & Guild

The City and Walls of Genoa

Medieval GenoaI’ve loaded up another gazetteer page for the Mythic Genoa section, this time detailing the basic city features and the stout medieval walls built by Frederick Barbarossa.

Eventually I plan to commission (from Sean Macdonald over at Fantasy Cartography) a detailed map of medieval Genoa based on the various anachronistic maps I’ve found on the web and some sketches I’ve made based on my research, as I really like the maps of Sark and Rome he did for Tales of Power.

Of course, I need to flesh out more detail about the actual commune first… there’s still the Lanterna (lighthouse), the leper colony at Capo Fari and some of the notable noble residences to work on but I’m hoping to fill in the spaces soon.

Old London Bridge Resources

Old London Bridge (Patricia Pierce)                 2002 edition

Some of my research books have recently arrived.

This is always exciting, although somewhat anxiety provoking as if I can’t source something from a library or obtain a preview on Google Books, I am often taking a calculated risk based on scraps of evidence gleaned from the web and a writer’s hunch.

Due to lack of shelf space, the majority of my physical books consists of an eclectic collection of hardback and softcover history works, material I’ve collected while researching Ars Magica writing projects or both (you never know what will be inspiring) as I now try to read everything else in digital (kindle or iBooks) format to save space.

Both books are about (Old) London Bridge, and both look to be useful, fortunately in complementary ways although there is considerable overlap.

Continue reading Old London Bridge Resources

London Bridge Covenant Design Notes #1

The annotated image below is my initial working sketch of ideas for the London Bridge Covenant. Unfortunately the resolution for this example is poor (I’ll try and fix it later), but I’ll summarise the main points below in the months to come. It’s based on a plan from this website detailing construction of a model for a casino based on London Bridge!

It’s an example of the way I often flesh out ideas – I use a map, plan or other image and brainstorm ideas around it in free association. I then flesh out the most promising concepts after I’ve done some research and checking the existing canon for specific key terms.

__London Bridge Covenant Sketch Ideas

(Incidentally, PDF versions of the ArM5 supplements are great for this – for instance I can search the term “Redcap” across my collection and then consult all the relevant mentions much quicker than if I had to rely on my own memory of where things are).

I’ve started to scan these “concept maps” into my files, not only for posting here but also because I keep losing the pieces of paper and otherwise my study fills up with project folders of tattered A4 sheets of indecipherable faded scrawl…

London Bridge Covenant

“Old London Bridge in 1745″ by Joseph Josiah Dodd

Almost a year to the day since Timothy posted about this on his blog, and I’ve decided there might be something more in this than just idle speculation…

The various images I’ve found are certainly inspiring. Who knows, perhaps I can work up a sample covenant set upon London Bridge over the course of the year (or perhaps as my hopefully more successful upcoming November’s NaGaDeMon challenge)?

As I’m Australian, I don’t have local knowledge (I’ve stayed in London for a week once many years ago now), but I’ve dug up some interesting tidbits readily enough. Apart from the existence of a chapel on the bridge as Timothy noted (actually quite common to most significant medieval bridges), I’ve collected some  other really interesting aspects to the medieval bridge, three in particular which cry out for Hermetic explanation or seem to generate stories:

Continue reading London Bridge Covenant

Setting the Limits, the Pomoerium as Prototype of the Aegis?

I was reading something Timothy wrote a while back recently about stumbling across interesting ideas while researching another concept and thought I’d share a recent example. I have to frankly admit to that ready access to Wikipedia is a source of almost constant distraction in this regard, but even when I used to read encyclopedias when I was younger, I was constantly getting lost in the cross-references, often finding them more interesting than the entry dealing with my my original enquiry. It’s one of the things I love most about research, the serendipitous discover of unknown gems, like stumbling upon a freshly minted coin in the street.

As background, I’m currently trying to work up a Mystery cult involving tree worship, which led from considering nonhuman loamwalkers as potential leaders a Mystery cult within the Redcaps, which in turn was triggered by a single sentence within the Story Seed: “The Trees Conspire Against Us” in Realms of Power: Magic relating to the Redcap group known as the Broken Branches. All this is therefore a legitimate extension of my Redcap project, combined with my clear interest in hedge magic, right?

Continue reading Setting the Limits, the Pomoerium as Prototype of the Aegis?

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…

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)