Marsilia de Palermo

Marsilia is a woman with an absurd knowledge of languages and a slightly over-inflated idea of her own competence.

Character Description

Born: A.D. 1190

Background

Marsilia was the child of a well-off merchant of Palermo. She was only two years old when her mother died, and so she was raised mainly by her father. She traveled with him, the indulged daughter, as he conducted his business traveling through the Mediterranean. It soon became clear that the child had a knack for languages, and she picked up a new one in every port. Her father's scribe taught her to read and write starting from a young age — drawn in by seeing the little girl being so studious, he eventually ended up educating a girl without quite knowing how it had happened, for she picked up reading and writing just as fast as she learned spoken languages.

When she was seventeen, her father died, and the business was taken over by her uncle. He was unimpressed by this over-indulged, over-educated young woman — who should have been married off years ago! Wanting nothing more than to be rid of her, although with some feeling still for his brother's child , he used the large dowry left to her to marry her to the younger son of a London merchant family with whom he desired closer ties for his business.

This abrupt change in circumstances did not suit Marsilia well; from near-freedom and ex tempore scholarship she had gone into a marriage with a foreign stranger, whose family expected her to act as a dutiful wife should. Their ideas included neither a great deal of personal feeling nor any scholarship, and they thought her very odd. Relations with her husband were amicable, but only that, and during the seven years of their marriage she produced no children. When her husband died, and she became in some limited sense a free woman, she gathered her small amount of personal belongings and sought a covenant: from frightened whispers and gossip she had learned that women were magi as well as men, and the idea of a place where she might experience again the near-freedom of her childhood (at least in regard to gender) appealed greatly.

Her skills were rusty, but she hoped they could buy her a place; her father had once sold a book to a magus, an Arabic tome that seemed to be about glass, and the magus had been eager to buy it — even though he admitted he didn't know the Arabic script! She cherished this memory and hoped the magi would have use for a linguist.

Indeed they did. Marsilia has worked for two covenants. The magi in the first decided that perhaps being snapped at for "interrupting your librarian at work, my lord!" whenever they entered their library was perhaps more than they needed to put up with from a mundane, however talented. The magi of Lucien's covenant quickly hired her and solved the issue by giving her a small office where she does her translating and other library work uninterrupted. When she is not tucked away in it, she is quite respectful.

Lucien has asked her to come along on this trip, and with a magus of her own covenant along she feels reasonably safe. Dalton ex Guernicus' sneaking into the library was before her time, and he has never bothered her in her "sanctum". She feels about him rather as she feels about other apprentices: a sort of incompetent mother-henishness (half protective of the books, half of the youngsters) which becomes increasingly tinted with awe and respect as they come into their powers. After six years of living among magi, she has become accustomed to the Gift; still, his is blatant, and she does occasionally feel uneasy around him. She justifies this by reminding herself that anyone with any sense ought to be a bit uneasy around a just-trained magus with a predilection for booze.

Marsilia has long black hair and brown eyes. She dresses in wools and linens appropriate to her station. Her personal wealth consists of a few pieces of jewelry from her late husband, as she generally spends wages above room and board on language lessons and the exotic spices which make foods taste how she remember them from her youth.

General Traits

Characteristics

Intelligence (Quick): 2
Perception (Intuitive): 1
Strength: 0
Stamina (Persevering): 1
Dexterity (Elegant): 1
Quickness: 0
Presence: 0
Communication (Precise): 1

Confidence: 3/3
Size: 0
Decrepitude: 0

Virtues

Natural Linguist (5)
You are a brilliant natural linguist, with an innate aptitude for both speaking and writing. You have the equivalent of Knack +2 with all Speak and Scribe scores.
Educated (1)
You have been educated to a level equivalent to that of a Grammar School. You have a score of 3 in Speak Latin and 1 in Scribe Latin, and may purchase Academic Knowledge or Skills at character generation. You are at least 16 years old.
Well-Traveled (Mediterranean) (1)
You have journeyed extensively in the Mediterranean and find it easy to get along with people throughout the area. You are familiar with regional dialects and can pick up others quickly, giving you +3 to appropriate Speak rolls. In addition, you know something of local habits and traditions, giving you a +3 bonus to appropriate Knowledge rolls, such as Legend Lore.
Freewoman (0)
Companion Class Virtue. You most likely are a city dweller. You probably have a skill that allows you to survive, like blacksmithing, leatherworking, or other less savory work. You also have the tools necessary to perform your trade.

Flaws

Nearsighted (-1)
(As Poor Eyesight, but better-named.) Bleary vision impedes your performance. Rolls involving sight at a distance beyond Personal, including rolls to attack and defend, are at -3. New environments are disorienting and perhaps frightening for you. (On the other hand, you may fail to notice frightening details… sometimes ignorance is bliss.)
Bad Reputation (London merchant class) (-1)
People in an area know of you and hold you in ill regard. Choose an appropriate Reputation, level 2, within the area.
Obsessed (new languages) (-1)
You are fixated on some prized object, action, or ideal. This interferes with your accomplishment of more immediate tasks.
Reclusive (-1)
You prefer to do things on your own, and do not like being interrupted. You feel that an intrusion by another upon your time is unnecessary at best, and an insult at worst. You have Personality Trait of Reclusive +3. If someone interrupts you, make a stress roll against this Trait; on a 6+, you rudely show them the door. If you botch, you lose your temper completely, while a multiple botch likely results in violence as you try to get rid of the pest.
Deep Sleeper (-1)
When you sleep, you don't go halfway. You can sleep through loud noises and generally only wake up when shaken, or when good and ready. Even then you suffer -3 on your rolls for half an hour or so before awakening, and you're likely to head back to bed if at all possible.
Uncommon Fear (Bees) (-1)
Something that others find innocuous or even pleasant makes you nervous, edgy, and unable to concentrate. If you are prone to violence, you might respond by attacking or destroying the feared thing, but only if you cannot escape its presence. The object of your fear is something you're not likely to meet on a daily basis.
Oversensitive (Perceived accusations of incompetence) (-1)
Something that others find merely unpleasant you consider intolerable. If you are the violent type, you may start fights with those who offend you. Marsilia tends to start with extreme sarcasm and escalate to shouting, after which point she may either break into sobs or start throwing things.

Abilities

Folk Ken (Merchants) (2)
Understanding the background, personality, and motives of another person. Often the Storyguide secretly rolls a die when this ability is used. Thus, you do not know if your character guessed correctly, or even botched. (Intelligence, Perception)
Bargain (Formal Trading) (2)
The know-how to get the greatest return for a service or product, while paying the least. It involves reading the person with whom you haggle, a general knowledge of the value of goods, and presenting yourself in certain ways. A good haggler can easily overcome resistance in an inexperienced customer and see through attempts to over-value most merchandise. (Presence, Communication)
Ettiquette (Merchant Class) (2)
You know the social graces and how to behave in different situations. Successful Etiquette rolls might also grant you bonuses on rolls for Social Talents or other Social Skills. (Presence, Communication)
Storytelling (Epic Poetry) (1)
Choosing an appropriate tale from your repertoire (which grows with your score) and telling it well. Masters of the art can recite different stories for weeks without repeating themselves. (Communication)
Speak Sicilian (Palermo) (5) (10)
Fluency in a particular language. Rather than roll a die modifier, your score in this language measures your ability to communicate. When two people speak to each other, the lower Ability score determines how well they communicate. Characters who speak related languages can communicate at a penalty to their scores (assigned by the Storyguide) depending on how closely related the two languages are. Speak Latin (and Greek and Hebrew) cannot be chosen with this Knowledge — it is a separate Academic Knowledge. (Intelligence)
Score Fluency
1 Basic ideas
3 Haltingly functional
5 Fluent
7 Perfect clarity and understanding
10 ???
Speak "Italian" (Tuscan) (2) (7)
Speak Latin (Mediterranean trade) (3) (8)
This skill is similar to all other Speak (Language) skills, but it is only available to educated characters. Characters who have associated with magi for long periods of time may have picked up Speak Latin with the Storyguide's permission. All educated characters know Latin, since without it you cannot learn any Academic Knowledges. In other areas of the world, Greek and Hebrew may fill similar functions. Characters with foreign backgrounds may choose either of these instead of Latin. (Intelligence)
Speak Greek (Mediterranean trade) (2) (7)
Speak Arabic (Mediterranean trade) (1.1) (6)
Speak Provencal (Marseilles) (2) (7)
Speak Catalan (Barcelona) (2) (7)
Speak Castilian (Oviedo) (3) (6)
Speak Portuguese (Lisbon) (3) (6)
Speak Norman French (London) (3) (6)
Speak English (London) (3) (5)
Speak Gaelic (Border Scots) (2) (4)
Scribe Latin (reading) (3.1) (5)
The Scribe skill covers the basic ability to read and write, and also the ability to compose a letter, charter, or book. In Western Europe, the Roman alphabet is used for most languages. Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic script are used in other areas. Scribe skill must be purchased separately for each language or alphabet you wish to be proficient in. (Intelligence)
Scribe Greek (reading) (2.1) (4)
Scribe Arabic (reading) (2.1) (4)
Scribe Runes (reading) (1) (3) :
: Magic Theory (mixing Hermetic and infernal magics) (1)
Knowledge of what magic is and how it works, used primarily in the laboratory. Magic Theory deals primarily with Hermetic magic, though higher scores might indicate some knowledge of other traditions. You can sometimes gain experience through experimentation (see page 191).
Animal Lore: Asia (predators) (1.1)
Occult Lore (Yylith Mastery) (1.1)
An understanding and familiarity with the sinister side of the world. Includes knowledge of demons and their habits and weaknesses, undead and their habits and weaknesses, and the power of curses.

Combat

Marsilia would have skill in Brawling (Book), but books are so precious in this day and age that she feels it would be highly irresponsible to hit people with them.

Soak: 1

Personality Traits

Reclusive (3)
Short-tempered (2)
Sulky (when perceiving herself as incompetent) (1)

Reputations

Unwomanly (London merchant class) (2)

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