Journey to the Levant: The Ocean-Going Travel Story

SO, my saga, blessed by fantastic players, is about to start it's "second season" after a summer off.

The group is looking to send some folks off to the far side of the Mediterranean for various reasons. This motley crew will be:

Coraldo, Egomaniac Bonisagus with a drinking problem, tired of being a laughing stock and looking to push hard on a longevity breakthrough - thus he wants to find and examine a (the?) Phoenix in Lebanon/Syria.
Helios Excelcis: Quaesitor and Member of the Mystical Fraternity of Samos. He is looking to visit Samos in preparation for his next initiation.
Sister Marie Blanche, a Poor Claire who can talk to animals. She wants to visit Jerusalem.
Khalida, of Baghdad: child of the West Wind and all around sneaky person of uncertain intent. She might want to go home, as she ended up in Europe by magical mistake. She is vexed by the Azi Dahaka, a loathsome magical being of smoke and sand that can possess corpses and do other unsavory feats of magical power.

So, my questions are:

  1. This is likely the only Big Trip to Outremer that my group will take during this saga, and possibly the only one I will get to run in my Ars Magica GMing career. It will take up a great portion of this next year's gaming for this particular group of characters. I thus want it to be MEMORABLE and...
  2. Contain the "CLASSIC BITS" you'd expect in such a big travel adventure. Problem is... I'm unsure exactly what those will be.
  3. Problem: Helios has, due to a Twilight Episode, Leap of Homecoming.
  4. The route?? Leave via Venice... off to Greek islands... then... Cyprus... and finally the Levant? I do need to get people to the northern coast of Africa to make use of the Sorceror Kings of Garamantia.

SO, what exactly are the "classic bits" a travel adventure of this magnitude should have?

Sea Serpents?
A storm at sea?
Ocean regios?
Beings of Greek and Roman myth?
Dealing with the Venetians or Milanese for passage?
Curious passengers?
Libraries of Wonder!
Exotic Cuisines and Strange Customs?
Exotic Locales?
Exotic Mages?
The Tribunal of the Levant? How to make it feel different from Europe's Tribunals, or at least Normandy.

I'm looking to work in the Garamantian Sorceror Kings for some "Indiana Bonisagi and the Temple of Fossil Water" action - perhaps after a curious shipwreck or mast-breaking storm with one 'curious passenger' running across the storm-tossed waves to safety, possibly with vis from the magi or some other desired item. I might also make the Garamantian Mummy Antagonist consume vis to keep himself out of increased immobility/rejuvenation, perhaps pointing to a source of Insight for the Bonisagus in his research.

I'm looking to really make this long-term series of sessions sing, like the Hell-adventure did for my group last year.

That said, what would YOU want to see in such an undertaking to make it the "quintessential Mythic Europe Travel Story"? Of course, different people love different things... but any suggestions are welcomed!



I will leave it for more informed people to talk about the levant, but Blood & Sand, the 4th edition tribunal book might help :slight_smile: A shipwreck, an evil venetian and pilgrims are essential in a good travel soap opera.

About your "problem": how useful is your leap of hoemecoming to actually return to your lab if you have lost all your arcane connections to Europe? :wink: The shipwreck accideent you talked about is a good oportunity for those to get lost and washed away FAR from the character.


A quick look through the Odyssey might give you some interesting ideas.
Personally i would suggest an encounter with Sirens... Careful though, if the players do something stupid there, they┬┤re goners. But its certainly "one of the classics!

Ah, the Odyssey! Good idea! I happen to have it on shelf about 3 feet away.

As for shipwreck - excellent idea as well.

I'll throw both of those into the mental stew.

Hm... I'm wondering what medieval folk thought of sharks. Were they seen as just another manner of sea monster, or was there any particular lore associated with them?

Having recently read "Throne of Jade" from the "Napoleonic Wars With Dragons Added" Temeraire series, an encounter with a sea serpent looping over a ship seems like a fun idea.

I ran 'The Sorcerer's Slave' many years ago, in a Normandy based saga.
We also outfitted an expedition searching from some lost books written by the Founders.

Both stories were long, with many subplots.

A lot of things can happen on the way south/east. A stop in Venice got the magi involved in the internal politics. In the 4th ed material, or perhaps something I interpreted very freely, I simply can't remember anymore. Rome tribunal had a lot of power struggle, and the rules and decisions were made based on covenants having a townhouse in Venice, with a resident magus. But there was some technicality in the rules, where it was not specified, that magi from foreign tribunals could not do the same thing, at get a say in things in Venice. Primarily a stop, because one magus wanted to hire a glass blower to the covenant back home in France. But it ended up becoming a sneaky plot, where a scrupulous local magus exploited this technicality, and officially gained admittance to out covenant (although in reality proforma) , and had them set up a townhouse, with him as resident magus. This way, he could use the extra votes for his own - and his former covenant, to which he was still loyal. A very controversial action, but what did thay care? They don't live in Rome! But they had a lot of fun finding ways to fiddle this new guy into their charter, and at the same time safeguard against him getting them in trouble. They ended up inventing an 'ambassador' position for him, setting him aside from the normal resource sharing (his inital offer was that he paid fully for the townhouse and all resources needed there). Plus all sorts of clauses to try and avoid him getting them into trouble, to keep him personally responsible. In the end, the Gifted Mercere sent one of his two apprentices trained as ungifted Redcaps down to keep an eye on him. The saga did not last very long after this, so I never really used this gimmick, although it had great potential.

Another thing was when I sent their ship into a regio around the greekl island chain of Dodekanessos, brutally ripping off all sorts of greek myths. They negotiated a truce between Amazons and Centaurs, but nearly restarted the war ny stealing an artefact. They fought some cyclopean giants, in order to get the eye in order to later on goad a gorgon into petirfying it. Apparently this made for a very good sling stone. They also had a short stint on Crete at the Minoans. There were some ghosts stuck in a regio, because they had missed the last boat at the evacuation back when the civilization fell. The magi calmed them down by taking them to the supposed evacuation rally point. Here they made it into yet anoither regio, where the descendants of the MInoans lived.

Actually i will have the same kind of travel soon with my troup :

one of the magus will take part in the third crusade at the side of Richard lionheart and Phillipe Augustus.

if you want some infernal in your travel in the holy land you can use the specters of the tarfurs, canibalistic crusaders of the first crusade...

And i am planning an encounter with Polyphemus

Depending on the date of your Saga you may have a Crusade ongoing or other major conflict between the christians and the moors to make a trip to Jeruselam or beyond more interesting. If it is late enough going to baghdad could become even more exciting as the Mongols start to enter that area

Hm, I'm guessing it will likely occur within 2-5 years after the Grand Tribunal of 1228. SO, likely during the Sixth Crusade or the truce thereafter... Hmmmm... There has to be some sort of interesting bits and pieces to be woven in from history thereabouts.