So without a 5E Levant Tribunal book, and given the conditions set in the Cradle and the Crescent, what can we infer?
From TC&C, it seems that the Summoners of Solomon had a poor understanding of the Order of Hermes and generally did not know much about it, if at all. This implies anemic Hermetic expansion into the middle East.
Prior to 5E, we had the 4E Levant Tribunal book, which set out that Hermetic expansion into the middle east prior to the 1st Crusade was small. I can still believe that. The 5E canon supports the Theban Tribunal Wizards quite nervous and generally retreating from Muslim controlled lands.
In my own experience with a 1st Crusade game also posted in this forum, without substantial opposition, or a strong legal enforcement, the Order of Hermes could have totally tipped the scales of the historical first crusade.
This then begs the question of the post, who becomes the muslim opposition? Muslim Wizards from Iberia? By and large the Order does not seem to even remotely have any islamophiles/orientophiles/whatever they're supposed to be called.
Maybe the opposition isn't magical but divine. God wants the Muslims to win because it is his plan?
The order of the green cockerel is said to have allies among the alchemists of the Islamic world, so that presumes that there are Islamic alchemists of some skill and knowledge. Maybe they have formed a loose society or group which is working to oppose Christian magi?
The Infernal? Demons and devils must swarm around a crusade. After all, what better opportunity to damn mankind than to subvert a Holy War. This could be the in game explanation for atrocities such as the Sack of Jerusalem or the Sack of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade.
Maybe those magi that take up the cross and join the crusade spend most of their time desperately fending off the forces of the infernal. As magi, they can actually prove to be a real problem with any devils. This of course doesn't make them any less inclined to trust the locals ("I went to those lands and found nothing but Satans spawn!") and would almost certainly make them very wary of local magi.
First generation of Hermetics (either actively crusading, or with more peaceful intent) take local apprentices. Some of those apprentices end up opposing later crusades.
Considering that a great many of the historical books on alchemy are from the area then the existence of skilled alchemist in the area is a given. However they are more likely to use the rules from A&A than be actual magic users.
There are Islamic members of the OoH which could potentially put members of the Order on both sides of a conflict. This could be used to force things into more political rather than armed/magic conflict.
The varies Bedouin tribes in the area could also be given access to varies types of hedge magic (including the type used for the Mongols). While not able to stand up to a Magi in a face to face fight, if they are sneaky and take a strong support role they can be effective.
@InfinityzeN They could have the same abilities of the mathematicians of bologna from hedge magic pretty easily though, which would mean they got some powers, too.
True and that is actually something that might fit them better, since they are producing a great many text and sharing knowledge with each other. I do not believe that there would be many of them with the Gift, but that is not necessarily a bad thing since it makes it far easier for them to work together.
One of the scariest magic users I have ever played was a Palladium Fantasy Diabolist. While his offensive ability was almost non-existent, he was near overpowered when on defense and support roles. Alchemist and people with abilities similar to the mathematicians of bologna could easily fall into the same vein. Their abilities allow them to set traps, provide all sorts of support options, and favor prepared areas. A small group of them whole spend several seasons preparing an area to survive an attack would be quite a force multiplier.
One gifted one and then a bunch of ungifted he initiated would be able to get pretty good, especially coming from say, a school of Islamic jurists, so there would be a lot of students who were already able to read and write and thus write their Tractatus for each other, hence allowing skills to go up.
Give them the powers of good scores in academics, from a&a, some learned magic and they could do a lot to be a thorn in crusader's sides. The luck powers would make the Islamic forces lucky and the crusaders cursed, just off the top of my head.
So, I do feel like this thread is overlooking the 6.5 thousand member strong magical organization that exists in the region.
Sahirs are present and will almost certainly respond to a vast magical incursion like this. While they cannot face Hermetic Magi directly, they can certainly make the Crusades non-viable with magical sabotage. Solomonic Alchemy and Physic can ruin equipment and supplies, in addition to spreading illness and disease. Solomonic Astrology can discern valuable military information.
Their Solomonic Travel and Solomonic Storytelling can help conceal and move populations to deny Crusaders resources and victims.
This is, of course, assuming that a divine force does not somehow intervene with your attempts to slaughter a group of people who follow a Divine religion. If a bunch of angels show up at tribunal meeting and tell the Hermetic order to stop, then they may well stop.
(Also the Crusader-Magi may face opposition from non-Christian Magi, or just those who follow a more pacifistic version of the faith.)
And then there is the Old Man of the Mountain, and the other assassins, strong wizards with strange powers that they gain from consuming Herbam vis...
My general reading is the Hermetic magi may well have had a large impact on the first crusade (which the Europeans won) but since they are essentially a secular body as they began to train Muslim apprentices in the area their impact on future crusades was heavily diluted.
I very much agree with this view. Assuming that we have a Hermetic presence firmly established in the region, you are going to get magi who have different loyalties there. In addition, with firm establishment of a tribunal come quaesitors, who are just itching to bring up those mundane interference cases...
Is that what the kids are calling it these days...?