City of art, city of colour, city of magic. Located on the Northern coast of the Adriatic Sea, it is famous for its beauty and architecture, but first and foremost as the Europe's most prominent centre of trade, housing the Headquarters of the Mercantile Guild.

The Most Serene Republic of Venice wields the most economic and soft power in the whole of Europe; with its merchants having a near-monopoly on Mediterranean trade and her envoys being in virtually every court in Europe, it's very hard to escape the omnipresence of Venetian influence at the highest levels of power. Venice uses its existing control over European trade to block out any competitors and also earn a King's ransom every year in ferrying Crusaders to the Holy Land.


The Republic of Venice is ruled by His Serenity, the Doge, Orio Mastropiero. He resides in the Doge's Palace on the Piazza San Marco in Venice, and is aided by the Great Council. The Doge is elected by the Council and their power is limited by a pledge they had to take.

The Great Council of Venice was established 34 years ago and consists of over 100 members coming from wealthy patrician families. It was also known as Consilium Sapientis, the Council of Wise Men, but it was soon proven that wealth doesn't always come hand in hand with wisdom.

12 years ago, in 1172 the Doge's power was limited even further when the Minor Council was set up. These are the Doge's six advisers, controlling virtually every aspect of the ruler's life, down to access to their private correspondence. The most senior member of the Minor Council is Giovanni Michiel, who also serves as the Vice-Doge in the Doge's absence. The members are elected every year, and the elections are always accompanied by a lot of squabbling and intrigues between the aristocratic families of Venice. The other members' roles are:

  • the Architect - responsible for the city's infrastructure
  • the Cartographer - responsible for foreign relations
  • the Trader - taking care of the import and export of goods
  • the Priest - providing a close connection to the Catholic Church
  • the Banker - responsible for taxes and expenses

The Vice-Doge is also responsible for law and order in the city.
The Mercantile Guild has a lot of influence over the Great Council, and the Trader works in a close cooperation with them as well.


A long time ago, where the beautiful city of Venice is now, there existed a collection of small lagoon communities, making a living out of fishing. Mutual survival demanded they band together to present a force which could stand against the Lombards. In the first decades of the 8th century, their first leader - the first Doge we know of - was elected. He was successful in his role, as the Byzantine power dwindled and the Lombards were kept at bay.

 by user Urban via Creative Commons under GNU Free Documentation LicenseHis daughter faced far greater challenges. Not only did she attempt to (unsuccessfully) establish a dynasty, she also faced a drastic split in public opinion, regarding their allegiance. Many people wanted to keep their ties to the Byzantine Empire, but many others were looking hopefully to the new king of the Franks, Pepin the Short, to provide defense against the Lombards. Yet another faction, albeit a small one, wanted an alliance with the Lombards. The Doge was assassinated, and the squabble continued, while the city grew, turning from a fishermen's village into a prominent trading outpost.

For the next few hundred years, Venice was recognized as more or less independent, and was more concerned with its own problems than international politics. Yet it still grew and expanded along the coast of Adriatic, building a national shipyard and a war fleet. Slowly but persistently, they gained control over the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, fighting both pirates and merfolk.

Establishing the Mercantile Guild in the early 1100s solidified the Republic's position as a centre of trade, and the wealth that came with it allowed it to remain relatively neutral.


One would have to look hard and far to find another country as diverse as the Republic of Venice. Sailors from all over the world are often seen in its ports, and merchants bring the most exotic goods to its markets. People from various cultures found a new home here and no one bats an eye on subtle differences. In fact, if you can pay, no one will ever bat an eye.

The poor are the worst off in the Republic where the driving force is coin. They are scorned and looked down at, in the best cases. The Church is attempting to change their situation, but they are struggling get help from the Council.


Photographer: Theodore Scott, shared under Creative Commons - https://www.flickr.com/photos/theodorescott/5095091081/The strength of the Republic of Venice lies in its economy and trade. Every day, dozens of ship arrive at the docks, with goods from every corner of the world. There isn't a service that's not offered in the city. For the right price, anything can be achieved.

The Mercantile Guild's headquarters are located on Piazza San Marco in the capital, and its members are a power to be reckoned with in the city. They keep an eye on even the smallest business in the city and have their eyes and ears everywhere. If they so wished, the port would be closed, or the docking fee would be waived.

Language and Culture

The population of the republic is varied and mixed. Every traveller, every merchant, every sailor that decided to settle in one of its ports brought a part of their home with them and passed it onto other people. Thus the lively amalgamation of customs, traditions, fashion and styles was created. Art masterpieces arrive here from every faraway countries, and stories brought with them influence the plays presented on stage and songs sang in the taverns.

Many languages are spoken in the Republic of Venice, from early Venetian and Italian to Turkish and Old Slavonic.

Military Strength

The Republic's standing army is very small, and acts as the Doge's personal guard more than anything. They also protect treasury and tax collectors' convoys, but even there their presence isn't very prominent. The bulk of Venice's strength lies in mercenary companies that grow like any other business. The merchants, bankers, tradesmen and juries learnt to rely on them so much that they often prefer hiring them than asking the Doge for soldiers. Because of that, the army isn't financed well and is shrinking year by year.

Meanwhile, the mercenary companies flourish, offering a variety of services, from acting as discrete bodyguards to sending a well-armed and visibly tough unit with you on a journey. More shady ones will not be opposed to acting outside the law, but one needs to know whom to speak to, to get anything illegal done. More renowned merchants know which company to choose, to make sure their hirelings can be trusted, as political allegiance isn't uncommon among the leaders. Mercenaries and sellswords will be hired to protect a warehouse, a private house, or to go on a journey, through land or sea.

Especially the latter area offers lots of well-paid jobs, with pirates and raiders being more of a nuisance than ever. With higher demand, the price rises, but traders are willing to pay a lot of gold to see their goods delivered safely, and there are many freelance sellswords looking for adventure more than anything.


The main cities of the Republic of Venice include Zara, Spalato and Ragusa, all of which are wonders to behold, yet Venice surpasses all of them. It is the capital and the government resides there. The most important places in Venice include:

Piazza San Marco - St. Mark's Square is the main square in the city, located on the northern bank of the Grand Canal. It expanded greatly during the rule of Orio's predecessor, Sebastiano Ziani. On the Eastern edge of the Piazza, stands the Basilica of St. Mark and the Doge's Palace. The Piazza is surrounded by Byzantine-Venetian architecture, with a continuous arcade encircling the open space. The Southern side of the square is taken up entirely by the Mercantile Guild's offices.

The Doge's Palace is an impressive building located on the south-east corner of St. Mark's Square, facing the Grand Canal. Originally raised in the 9th century, it was burnt to the ground in the 10th. Orio's predecessor has rebuilt it to its current glory, changing the layout of the whole square while he was at it. It houses the Council's Chamber, the Doge's apartments, and a prison."Libreria and Biblioteca Marciana and Columns in Piazzetta, Venice". Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Libreria_and_Biblioteca_Marciana_and_Columns_in_Piazzetta,_Venice.jpg

St Mark's Basilica - Its construction began over a hundred years ago and took about 20 years. Now it adorns the eastern side of the Piazza and houses the supposed relics of St Mark the Evangelist. With sprawling domes, it's truly a wondrous sight, almost overshadowing the Doge's Palace.

Rialto is the financial and commercial centre of Venice, located on the other side of the Grand Canal, connected to the rest of the city by a boat bridge. In its heart is the market on St Paul's Square, alive from the earliest hours of the morning, well past sunset. Further away, more and more warehouses are being built to store the goods. This the place where you can trade your goods, hear the rumours or hire a mercenary.

Tales of Folk and Fey

by Spencer Means via Creative Commons - https://www.flickr.com/photos/hunky_punk/7974549798In the cities buzzing with life, where many languages are spoken and even more cultures clash together to form the glorious, colourful mix, overabundance of tales - some contradicting others - is inevitable. It is difficult to tell which stories are legitimately brought by sailors from their homeland, and which are made up on the spot to impress their drinking buddies.

There are stories about ships with black or red sails on the Adriatic Sea. These ships supposedly emerge from mist that gathers unnaturally quickly, and sink any vessel they come across. Both the Great Council and the Mercantile Guild insist that the tales are exaggerated and these are merely pirate ships, which they have sworn to bring to justice. Despite their best efforts, people still believe the more exciting rather than truthful version.

There is talk about strangely dark waters and unexpected currents in the very middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Some claim that this is the place where the lost city of Atlantis had once been. Others - especially those who studied Greek philosophers - laugh in their faces. Nevertheless authorities advise caution when sailing near this region.

Finally something everyone agrees on is the merfolk inhabiting the warm waters, unsympathetic towards humans. Every now and then one can hear reliable accounts of beautiful people swimming under water, propelled by their silvery fish tails, of fishermen pulled overboard and dragged into the deep. Sometimes people find a broken tooth of a trident among shells on the sea shore. Mercenary companies even offer specially trained fighters to protect ships from the merfolk, often deaf or hard of hearing, to resist the charming songs. The merfolk were a thorn in the Doges' side for generations.

Next to all this no one bays an eye when a fae out two walk through a market in broad daylight.

venice.txt · Last modified: 2015/10/15 20:25 by gm_agata
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