Olman Civilization

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Olman Civilization

Post by Havard » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:09 pm

What is known about the Olman Civilization? I've read that they are similar to the Aztecs and used to have an empire that covered both Hepmonaland and the Amedio Jungle. From what I understand their history is also tied to the creation of the Yuan-Ti.

What sources describe the Olman?

Would it be useful to make use of Maztica (Forgotten Realms) or the Azca/Hollow World (Mystara) sourcebooks to expand on this culture?

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Re: Olman Civilization

Post by Boneguard » Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:50 pm

The 2nd Ed. The Scarlet Brotherhood covers the both Hepmonaland and the Amedio Jungle which is the best source other than the 1st ed The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
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Re: Olman Civilization

Post by ripvanwormer » Thu Jun 28, 2018 12:41 am

Havard wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:09 pm
What sources describe the Olman?
Classic D&D/BECMI
X1 The Isle of Dread (the Tanaroans were retconned as Olman in Dungeon #114)

1st edition AD&D
C1 Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
WG6 Isle of the Ape (the Kawibusas were at least implicitly retconned as Olman in Dungeon #114, which added a vanished Ape Clan to the list of Tanaroan clans)
UK6 All That Glitters (the Atem were implicitly retconned as Olman in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer)

2nd edition AD&D
The Scarlet Brotherhood

3rd edition
Dungeon #103, "Glacial Inferno." (set in the Abbor-Alz in the Duchy of Urnst, involves a wizard named Huhueteotl. Not explicitly Olman, but his name suggests he is.)
Dungeon #114, "Exploring the Isle of Dread."
Dungeon #114, "Torrents of Dread."
Dragon #349, "Savage Tidings: Beyond Sasserine."
Dragon #350, "Savage Tidings: Journey to the Isle of Dread."
Dragon #351, "Savage Tidings: Dread on the Isle."
Dragon #352, "Savage Tidings: Braving the Isle of Dread."
Dragon #354, "Savage Tidings: Heart of Darkness."
Dungeon #141, "Savage Tide: The Sea Wyvern's Wake."
Dungeon #142, "Savage Tide: Here Be Monsters."
Dungeon #143, "Savage Tide: Tides of Dread."
Dungeon #144, "Savage Tide: The Lightless Depths."
Dungeon #145, "Savage Tide: City of Broken Idols."
LIVING GREYHAWK Official Listing of Deities for Use in the Campaign

4th edition
Dungeon #209, "The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan."

5th edition
Tales from the Yawning Portal

Also:
AlHazred wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 6:56 am
David Schwartz did two other mythologies that are worth checking out for historical games.

He did a great treatment of the Aztec Mythos which was serialized in the Class Acts section of several Dragon magazines:
  • Dragon #352 - Aztec Mythos I, by David Schwartz (Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoca)
  • Dragon #354 - Aztec Mythos II, by David Schwartz (Chalchihuitlicue, Tlaloc)
  • Dragon #356 - Aztec Mythos III, by David Schwartz (Cihuacoatl, Huitzilopochtli)
  • Dragon #358 - Aztec Mythos IV, by David Schwartz (Tonatiuh, Xipetotec)
Sadly it was discontinued, but David put the last part on the Paizo message boards here: http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2ho72?Aztec-Mythos-Redux In that he covered Mictlantecuhtli and Xiuhtecuhtli.
Havard wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 10:09 pm
Would it be useful to make use of Maztica (Forgotten Realms) or the Azca/Hollow World (Mystara) sourcebooks to expand on this culture?
I'd say so.

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Re: Olman Civilization

Post by Big Mac » Thu Jun 28, 2018 2:43 am

There is an article for the Olman on Great Library of Greyhawk.

Interestingly the GLoG article has the Olman pantheon of deities, which differs from the Maztican pantheon.
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Re: Olman Civilization

Post by Cthulhudrew » Thu Jun 28, 2018 4:06 am

IIRC, the Olman were pretty much cut and paste RW Aztecs. So I'd say that you would be just as well off picking up some books on the Aztec civilization and using those.
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Re: Olman Civilization

Post by Havard » Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:52 pm

Thank you guys. That is brilliant.
Big Mac wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 2:43 am
Interestingly the GLoG article has the Olman pantheon of deities, which differs from the Maztican pantheon.
Indeed, the Olman Pantheon caught my interest as well. It seems like an opportunity missed not to have these connected somehow?

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Re: Olman Civilization

Post by ripvanwormer » Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:36 am

Havard wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:52 pm
Indeed, the Olman Pantheon caught my interest as well. It seems like an opportunity missed not to have these connected somehow?
The gods mentioned in C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (1980) are a grab bag of Aztec and Maya deities, born of historical research without replicating a single real-world culture.

The gods of the Maztica Campaign Set (1991) are a fictional pantheon intended to mirror some of the themes of Aztec mythology without being exactly the same as real Aztec gods. Some of them have obvious equivalents in real Aztec mythology, while others are very difficult to find close parallels for. So Douglas Niles was trying to do something different from what Harold Johnson and Jeff R. Leason (authors of C1) were attempting, and Sean K. Reynolds (author of The Scarlet Brotherhood accessory) was trying something different still.

It may have been a missed opportunity in a sense to not portray the Mazticans as venerating the exact same gods mentioned in C1. If nothing else, it means you can't drop C1 directly into a Maztica campaign without some adaptation work. But I wouldn't say it's any more of a missed opportunity than, for example, not including Mystara's Atzanteotl in either pantheon.

The "Olman pantheon" described in the wiki article (which I wrote) was my attempt at listing every Olman deity I could find mentioned in official sources, but it shouldn't be viewed as exhaustive or prescriptive. Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan mentions many deities that it leaves unnamed. The Olman pantheon detailed in The Scarlet Brotherhood (1999) is different in some ways from C1's, based more on other AD&D sources than on C1 and merging some deities treated as separate in C1.

For the wiki, I limited myself to gods specifically named in official sources, but noted where some of the unnamed gods closely resembled gods named elsewhere. In the articles for the gods themselves, I combined information found in Greyhawk sources with information on those gods found in other D&D sources (which makes the entry for Tlazoteotl seem schizophrenic, since the Living Greyhawk gods document calls her neutral but other D&D sources have her as chaotic evil).

It's not even clear, judging strictly from C1, if all of the gods mentioned there are intended to be viewed as gods or if they're just the names the local Olman gave to various kinds of monsters. The Scarlet Brotherhood offered a different, smaller pantheon and the Living Greyhawk Official Listing of Deities for Use in the Campaign attempted to combine the two sources through the lens of Erik Mona's personal campaign, ignoring other D&D sources on those deities.

For example, C1 has a room with a statue of Xipe, "our lord of flayed skins," which is a pretty obvious reference to the real Aztec deity Xipe Totec. Except in the module, Xipe is the name of an ogre mage who lives there. Was he named after the god? Does the existence of an ogre mage named Xipe imply that the Olman worship the god Xipe Totec? Who knows?

There's another room in C1 called "Bed of Xilonen," named after the real Aztec goddess Xilonen or Chicomecoatl. Except in C1, Xilonen is the name of a giant polyp worshiped as Xilonen. So does a real goddess by that name exist on Oerth or is it just the name of a polyp?

A room in C1 labeled "Tlazoteotl, mother goddess of the earth" contains a gibbering mouther. So is Tlazoteotl named after a real goddess, or is it just the name of the gibbering mouther? We know there are other cases of Olmans worshiping non-divine beings as gods. A "greater gibbering mouther" called Xuxeteanlahucuxolazapaminaco is god-king of a nation in the Amedio jungle, but isn't actually divine. The gargantuan ape Oonga is worshiped as a god on the Isle of the Ape, though he's just a big gorilla.

There's a mummified centaur in C1 identified as "the sacred offspring of Chitza-Atlan, the guardian of the gateway of the underworld." There's no historical deity with that name, and C1 doesn't claim that Chitza-Atlan is a deity (the mummy is said to be deferential to Zotz, the bat-god), but that didn't stop the Living Greyhawk Official Listing of Deities from including Chitza-Atlan as an Olman demigod. It's a valid interpretation, but not the only possible one.

Dungeon #209 says of the Olman, "Long ago, a human culture worshiped not only powers from the Astral Sea, but also a collection of primal spirits, fey creatures, vampires, and even monstrosities of the Far Realm... All that is currently left of the Olman civilization are the scattered tribes of their degenerated descendants, now prone to Demogorgon worship and savagery."

For these reasons, I recommend you read the wiki entry with a grain of salt at the ready. The more cohesive Aztec pantheon offered by David Schwartz in Dragon #352-358 is probably a better source than relying on Greyhawk-specific references. The wiki has my best attempt at describing the gods mentioned in official sources, but official sources don't imply that those are the only gods, and they can be contradictory and fragmentary anyway. So don't take the wiki as dogma.

As Cthulhudrew said, the Olman are pretty much just Aztecs (although they have a specific history on Oerth involving Demogorgon and the kopru destroying their civilization, and groups like the Tanaroans and the Atem are fantasy cultures based much less on any historical people), so any source on the Aztecs is going to be useful.

The Scarlet Brotherhood makes a few gods like Tlaloc and Camazotz particularly relevant to the Olman and their history, so you'd want to use them if you're making use of The Scarlet Brotherhood accessory. Many of the other gods could be used or not used depending on the needs of the campaign. For example, Huitzilopochtli was a major real-world Aztec god, but he's not specifically mentioned in any Greyhawk source. C1 may allude to him, but it's unclear. So do the Olman worship Huitzilopochtli? Basically, they do if you want them to.

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Re: Olman Civilization

Post by GMWestermeyer » Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:54 pm

I took notes, this is another prime subject for a guide like my 'Oriental Adventures and Spelljammer' guide.

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Re: Olman Civilization

Post by AlHazred » Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:24 am

ripvanwormer wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:36 am
A room in C1 labeled "Tlazoteotl, mother goddess of the earth" contains a gibbering mouther. So is Tlazoteotl named after a real goddess, or is it just the name of the gibbering mouther?
In the Paizo thread I linked, David Schwartz has this to say about Tlazoteotl:
I put Tlazoteotl as the female aspect of Texcatlipoca. I recommend using the same domains for her clerics. She's the patron of harlots, witches, and sin-eaters. Supposedly her church provided sacred prostitutes the the Aztec army, and afterwards the women were ritual sacrificed to cleanse the sin of all involved. The sin-eaters apparently ate the petitioners' excrement as a physical representation of their sin. Although her name is translated as "filth goddess", filth is just a euphemism for s&%@; thus she's also the patron of gong farmers and the mother of the corn goddess.
From that description, a gibbering mouther seems an interesting choice as a representative/avatar of the filth goddess...
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Re: Olman Civilization

Post by Seethyr » Wed Jul 18, 2018 4:47 pm

I honestly think that when many of these products were made, common knowledge of these cultures (not by actual researchers, mind you, just laymen) was really inadequate. Names like Xipe and Tezcatlipoca were just the only names that many gamers could easily find. Therefore they got used with only the barest connections to their historical and mythological origins. Doing the home brew I do now for Maztica, I think continuing that trend would be shameful - almost like using the name Gandalf (or worse, actual religious names) to represent everyone and anyone in my stories.

But really, my point is that I don’t think the original authors actually had intent to connect their fantasy Aztecs to the real Aztecs as often as we’d hope - through no fault of their own, but still I wouldn’t look that deeply into it. That’s just IMHO
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Re: Olman Civilization

Post by Big Mac » Tue Aug 07, 2018 5:18 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:36 am
Havard wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:52 pm
Indeed, the Olman Pantheon caught my interest as well. It seems like an opportunity missed not to have these connected somehow?
The gods mentioned in C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (1980) are a grab bag of Aztec and Maya deities, born of historical research without replicating a single real-world culture.

The gods of the Maztica Campaign Set (1991) are a fictional pantheon intended to mirror some of the themes of Aztec mythology without being exactly the same as real Aztec gods. Some of them have obvious equivalents in real Aztec mythology, while others are very difficult to find close parallels for. So Douglas Niles was trying to do something different from what Harold Johnson and Jeff R. Leason (authors of C1) were attempting, and Sean K. Reynolds (author of The Scarlet Brotherhood accessory) was trying something different still.

It may have been a missed opportunity in a sense to not portray the Mazticans as venerating the exact same gods mentioned in C1. If nothing else, it means you can't drop C1 directly into a Maztica campaign without some adaptation work. But I wouldn't say it's any more of a missed opportunity than, for example, not including Mystara's Atzanteotl in either pantheon.
Missed opportunity? Hmm.

I think this stuff only really becomes relevant if you want to do a multi-world campaign with Mezoamerican-style PCs travelling from world to work (via Spelljammer, Planescape, gates, portals or some other means).

If you want to raid Maztica stuff and use it as Olman stuff, you would need to reboot it. But you would have to reboot it anyway, to get rid of the influences of the Amnians and Lolth worshippers.

Now if we do have a multi-world Mezoamerican-style campaign, the contrast between Olman and Maztica is going to be like the contrast between the Flanaess and Faerûn. They have similar European-influenced cultures, but are not identical and don't have the same deities. So why should Mezoamerican-style cultures all have the same deities?

Maybe one of two crossover deities would be good (especially if there are supposed to be a significant number of Mezoamerican-style spacefarers or planewalkers) but the Contact Home Power spell works. And a PC cleric could always carry out the year-and-a-day ritual to bring their Olman deity to Maztica...or their Maztican deity to Olman. :twisted:
ripvanwormer wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:36 am
The "Olman pantheon" described in the wiki article (which I wrote) was my attempt at listing every Olman deity I could find mentioned in official sources, but it shouldn't be viewed as exhaustive or prescriptive. Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan mentions many deities that it leaves unnamed. The Olman pantheon detailed in The Scarlet Brotherhood (1999) is different in some ways from C1's, based more on other AD&D sources than on C1 and merging some deities treated as separate in C1.

For the wiki, I limited myself to gods specifically named in official sources, but noted where some of the unnamed gods closely resembled gods named elsewhere. In the articles for the gods themselves, I combined information found in Greyhawk sources with information on those gods found in other D&D sources (which makes the entry for Tlazoteotl seem schizophrenic, since the Living Greyhawk gods document calls her neutral but other D&D sources have her as chaotic evil).

It's not even clear, judging strictly from C1, if all of the gods mentioned there are intended to be viewed as gods or if they're just the names the local Olman gave to various kinds of monsters. The Scarlet Brotherhood offered a different, smaller pantheon and the Living Greyhawk Official Listing of Deities for Use in the Campaign attempted to combine the two sources through the lens of Erik Mona's personal campaign, ignoring other D&D sources on those deities.

For example, C1 has a room with a statue of Xipe, "our lord of flayed skins," which is a pretty obvious reference to the real Aztec deity Xipe Totec. Except in the module, Xipe is the name of an ogre mage who lives there. Was he named after the god? Does the existence of an ogre mage named Xipe imply that the Olman worship the god Xipe Totec? Who knows?

There's another room in C1 called "Bed of Xilonen," named after the real Aztec goddess Xilonen or Chicomecoatl. Except in C1, Xilonen is the name of a giant polyp worshiped as Xilonen. So does a real goddess by that name exist on Oerth or is it just the name of a polyp?

A room in C1 labeled "Tlazoteotl, mother goddess of the earth" contains a gibbering mouther. So is Tlazoteotl named after a real goddess, or is it just the name of the gibbering mouther? We know there are other cases of Olmans worshiping non-divine beings as gods. A "greater gibbering mouther" called Xuxeteanlahucuxolazapaminaco is god-king of a nation in the Amedio jungle, but isn't actually divine. The gargantuan ape Oonga is worshiped as a god on the Isle of the Ape, though he's just a big gorilla.

There's a mummified centaur in C1 identified as "the sacred offspring of Chitza-Atlan, the guardian of the gateway of the underworld." There's no historical deity with that name, and C1 doesn't claim that Chitza-Atlan is a deity (the mummy is said to be deferential to Zotz, the bat-god), but that didn't stop the Living Greyhawk Official Listing of Deities from including Chitza-Atlan as an Olman demigod. It's a valid interpretation, but not the only possible one.

Dungeon #209 says of the Olman, "Long ago, a human culture worshiped not only powers from the Astral Sea, but also a collection of primal spirits, fey creatures, vampires, and even monstrosities of the Far Realm... All that is currently left of the Olman civilization are the scattered tribes of their degenerated descendants, now prone to Demogorgon worship and savagery."

For these reasons, I recommend you read the wiki entry with a grain of salt at the ready. The more cohesive Aztec pantheon offered by David Schwartz in Dragon #352-358 is probably a better source than relying on Greyhawk-specific references. The wiki has my best attempt at describing the gods mentioned in official sources, but official sources don't imply that those are the only gods, and they can be contradictory and fragmentary anyway. So don't take the wiki as dogma.
Thanks for making that article. I like to see what is there in the canon before deciding to do other things. I would much rather learn of the canon, study it enough to know that I don't like it and make an alternative choice based on that knowledge...than just guess wrong and regret it later.

Tlazoteotl being seen as neutral and chaotic evil by different sources is interesting. That could be played off as enemies of Tlazoteotl misrepresenting her as evil. Or it could be played off as two different groups of worshippers venerating her in different ways and treating her as if she has a different alignment.

I remember something about good people placating evil deities (i think it was in a 1e book, but I'm not sure). I wonder how a full-blown chruch that has an alternative alignment could work out.

You could maybe even have a neutral church of a deity being used as a front by a bunch of chaotic evil cultists who wanted to find a sneaky way to spread their religion. :twisted:
ripvanwormer wrote:
Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:36 am
As Cthulhudrew said, the Olman are pretty much just Aztecs (although they have a specific history on Oerth involving Demogorgon and the kopru destroying their civilization, and groups like the Tanaroans and the Atem are fantasy cultures based much less on any historical people), so any source on the Aztecs is going to be useful.

The Scarlet Brotherhood makes a few gods like Tlaloc and Camazotz particularly relevant to the Olman and their history, so you'd want to use them if you're making use of The Scarlet Brotherhood accessory. Many of the other gods could be used or not used depending on the needs of the campaign. For example, Huitzilopochtli was a major real-world Aztec god, but he's not specifically mentioned in any Greyhawk source. C1 may allude to him, but it's unclear. So do the Olman worship Huitzilopochtli? Basically, they do if you want them to.
I wonder how easy it would be to stack the pantheons together (and use all the deities from all of the sources as one super-large pantheon).
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