Returned Maztica

Mezo-American adventures in Maztica, the True World.
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Returned Maztica

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Fri Oct 27, 2017 6:20 am

Hello, everyone! First-time poster here, but after I realized that a forum dedicated to Maztica exists here I had to register.

For some time I have been working on a project I call "Returned Maztica" - an examination of what Maztica might look like in the current, 5e era. I am aware that there are a number of similar projects out there (especially Seethyr's work), I have a somewhat different vision for the region.

In many ways, the 5e era represented a "reboot" for the Forgotten Realms - a return to earlier eras, even though it set more than a century later than its earliest editions. This is not the approach I am going for - my vision was inspired largely by the book "1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created" by Charles C. Mann, which describes how the Columbian Exchange irreversibly changed both the Americas and the rest of the world (and really, everyone should read this book - it contains such tidbits like "there were Japanese samurai in 17th century Mexico guarding silver shipments", and lots of other stuff that is eminently gameable).

Furthermore, I also want to give the native Mazticans some agency that they were largely lacking in the Boxed Set and original novels - change largely came from outside forces, both from the foreign invaders and the hidden manipulators behind one of the major native cults. That doesn't mean that in the current age foreigners from Faerun can't play a role in events - but that role can be "patsy of local schemers" just as much as "conquering warlords" or "wooers of native princesses". The continent has been shaped by the deeds and decisions of those who grew up there, and will continue to do so in the future - though foreigners can still have an impact, of course.

Finally, I want to make the continent more interesting and more fantastic. In the original supplements many regions didn't get much exploration and there was frequently little to do beyond "plundering ancient ruins". I want to give each region its unique character and plenty of schemes and adventure ideas the PCs can get involved in.


So what do we know about Maztica? It vanished to the twin world of Abeir, which is by all accounts dominated by dragons. And recently, at the conclusion of the Sundering, the continent came back. So this is what I am envisioning:

After Maztica showed up on Abeir, dragons became interested in its wealth and started to fight over it. After a series of titanic battles, seven ancient dragons - called the "Seven Storms" - laid claim to the seven nations of Maztica. They brought over dragonborn clans as administrators and tribute collectors for their territories, as well as genasi to serve as a slave caste. This state of affairs lasted for almost a century - the resentments and suspicions between the humans, dragonborn, and genasi kept them from uniting against their dragon overlords. But in recent years, a group of heroic adventuring-types who called themselves the "Feathered Champions" managed to start a revolt, which culminated in a titanic battle in a silver mining city deep in the mountains of Lopango. All but two of the Seven Storms were slain (except those of Far Payit and Huacli, and nobody is quite sure what has happened with the latter), but so were most of the Feathered Champions (ensuring that they can't steal the show from the PCs). And at the conclusion of the battle, the skies changed and Maztica returned to Toril.

Thus, Maztica has earned its "post-colonial" phase - its oppressors (first the Amnish, then the dragons) were overthrown, but now the people of Maztica (humans, dragonborn, genasi... as well as the half-human descendants of the Viperhand cult) must decide what their nations are to become now, and there is little agreement on that yet. Which means conflict - social, economic, political, and even outright war - and with it, plenty of opportunity for adventure.

My main "brainstorming thread" can be found here on the RPGNet forums, but I have to admit that it is not particularly coherent, since it jumps widely between different subjects. I plan to publish more polished posts here that sum up my ideas so far. And in the meantime, if you have any further ideas or questions, please post them!

EDIT:

Sub-Threads


Payit - Gateway to the True World
Far Payit - Under Fang and Poison
Pezelac - Crossroads and Backroads
Nexal - Spawn of the Viperhand
Kultaka - Rising Empire
Huacli - Where the Shadows lie
Kolan - Rise of the Revolution
Lopango - Blood and Silver

The Ghost People of Anchorome

Maztican Society
Organizations of Maztica
Gods and Monsters - Maztican Religion
Last edited by Jürgen Hubert on Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:43 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Returned Maztica - a new vision for Maztica in the 5th Edition era of the Forgotten Realms! Learn how the continent has changed after invasions and dragonfire, and take part as the people of Maztica finally take their destinies into their own hands!

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Zeromaru X » Fri Oct 27, 2017 6:39 am

Hi Jürgen. Glad to see you here, as well. As you can see, some of my ideas are here :P

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Sturm » Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:46 am

Very interesting, your ideas about the new Maztica are good and I agree the agency of the sub-setting should mostly be in the hand of local people by now. Zeromaru X in this thread (viewtopic.php?f=39&t=15572&start=25) had some similar ideas about dragon rulers of Abeir and dragonborns, you may already have read it.
Anyway I would gladly use both as any new development/idea of Maztica is very much welcomed :)

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:45 pm

Yes, I am aware of Zeromaru's ideas, and we have already exchanged some thoughts.

I am considering starting a series of short country/regional writeups on the weekend which will hopefully get across what I am going for.
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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:56 am

Okay, let's begin!

Payit

Counterpart culture: Mayans (in particular, their northern lowlands cities)

Dragon ruler: Ancient Scales of Wisdom (deceased), an ancient male green dragon who considered himself a scholar and patron of the arts and sponsored many institutions of learning. However, his manipulations and attempts to pit the races and clans of Payit against each other caused too much resentment of his rule, which was his downfall. He was the first of the Seven Storms to fall and was killed almost two years before the end of the Godless Time.

Religion: As several of the Feathered Champions paid public allegiance to him, Qotal is now once more one of the most popular deities, along with Maztica (whose priests retained their powers during the Godless Time). Other popular deities include Ilhumatla (Ilmater) whose priests helped the people of Payit endure the tyranny of the dragon. Gond has a small following among the Lantanese exile community of Dragonport and like-minded technology enthusiasts. They have an alliance with the temple of Tezca, due to their joint work on the Eyes of Tezca - an optical telegraph network operating from the top of the temples ot Tezca (located both on their traditional pyramids as well as other high elevations).

Economics: During the Godless Time, Payit (and in particular the twin cities of Ulatos-Dragonport) was the main trade nexus between Maztica and the continent of Shyr. As such, much of the arable land of Payit was used for plantations producing assorted crops for export, in particular tobacco, sugarcane, and cotton. With the disruption of those trade routes caused by Maztica's return to Toril, its Dragonborn trading houses are now seeking new markets in Faerun where they can dump their accumulating stockpiles in a hurry, and their first Treasure Ships have already made the journey (using ancient sea charts). Dragonport also used to be the main port of entry for genasi slaves from Shyr, but with the abolishment of slavery in Payit by the Feathered Champions this trade has ceased entirely, and the plantations are still reeling from this disruption in their business cycle. However, once the trade routes to the Sword Coast, the Lands of Intrigue and ports further east have become established the economy should be growing again. The works of local artificers - whether pluma, hishna, or mechanical - are also in much demand elsewhere.

Politics: Like the Nexalan Empire of old and the other Seven Storms, Ancient Scales of Wisdom built Payit as a tribute relationship - the individual contributes tribute to the family, which passes a large portion on to the clan, village, or district, which in turn pass it on to their nearest city-state which ultimately gives it to their dragon ruler. Now that the dragon is gone, the city-states have asserted their independence. However, the Triple Council of Ulatos-Dragonport - consisting of the Revered Counselor of Ulatos, the Dragonvoice of the Dragonborn, and the Fey Speaker of the genasi - is arguing that as the most powerful city-state of Payit, the other city-states should pay tribute to them and allow them to lead the nation. While they have not asserted this demand with military force (though this remains an option), they claim that this is necessary due to threats from outside. The Queen of Fang and Poison of Far Payit, one of the two remaining dragon overlords, lurks at the southern border, and while Nexal and the Kultakan Empire is separated from Payit by the nation of Pezelac, Pezelac remains an unstable ally and might be forced to subordinate itself to one of the other unless Payit can be perceived as a strong, credible ally. Finally, while an invasion from Faerun seems unlikely at this time, the Triple Council is not above exaggerating the threat from Amn or similar would-be invaders given Payit's history in order to push for the need for unification.

Other ongoing political concerns include strife between the human Payit, the dragonborn, and the genasi resulting from resentments about their respective roles during the Godless Time, as well as efforts by the priests of the gods to regain their status from the era before the Godless Time... and thus take it away from the clan "warlock priests" and similar pretenders that rose in their place.
Last edited by Jürgen Hubert on Sun Nov 05, 2017 6:14 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Returned Maztica - a new vision for Maztica in the 5th Edition era of the Forgotten Realms! Learn how the continent has changed after invasions and dragonfire, and take part as the people of Maztica finally take their destinies into their own hands!

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Big Mac » Sat Oct 28, 2017 10:45 am

Very interesting. My friend Seethyr, from Maztica Alive, had similar ideas. I get the impression that you have a different take to him, but I've not had the time to do anything other than skim through your notes yet.

I'll have to try to make some time to do more skimming to try to see what you are focusing on and then go back and see if I can work out what Seethyr was aiming to do and figure out what your ideas have in common and what is different about them.

BTW: Welcome to The Piazza Jürgen. You might want to pop over to the Introduce yourself here topic, say "hi" to everyone and let them know what sort of stuff you like to talk about.
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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Sturm » Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:42 am

Good development of Payit, very interesting!

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Havard » Sun Nov 05, 2017 1:08 pm

Hello Jürgen!

It was a shame what happened to Maztica in the later versions of the Forgotten Realms. I am really interested in seeing how this develops. I like the new fan revival take on what happened to the setting. Listing the R/W counterparts in your writeups is really helpful. I think these might deserve a separate thread for each realm. :)

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Sun Nov 05, 2017 1:18 pm

Havard wrote:Hello Jürgen!

It was a shame what happened to Maztica in the later versions of the Forgotten Realms. I am really interested in seeing how this develops. I like the new fan revival take on what happened to the setting. Listing the R/W counterparts in your writeups is really helpful. I think these might deserve a separate thread for each realm. :)

-Havard
Okay, I will do that! I've just finished my second writeup, too...
Returned Maztica - a new vision for Maztica in the 5th Edition era of the Forgotten Realms! Learn how the continent has changed after invasions and dragonfire, and take part as the people of Maztica finally take their destinies into their own hands!

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Dragonhelm » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:18 pm

Interesting take, but the concept of dragon overlords reminds me too much of Dragonlance's Fifth Age products.

So sell me on what makes this different, other than being based on Mesoamerica.
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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:54 pm

Dragonhelm wrote:Interesting take, but the concept of dragon overlords reminds me too much of Dragonlance's Fifth Age products.

So sell me on what makes this different, other than being based on Mesoamerica.
A good question. Let me attempt to answer this.

Basically, while there are parallels to Fifth Age, I came up with the idea of dragon overlords because (a) Maztica's sojourn in Abeir made this a likely development (given the dominance of dragons in that world, and Maztica's wealth of gold and silver), and (b) they were useful as agents of change for Maztica, making the region less a "historical recreation" and more of a unique, fantastic region in its own right - without forgetting its Mesoamerican roots, of course.

And for the most parts, the dragon overlords were limited to the "agents of change" role instead of "ongoing threat" - five of the Seven Storms have been killed for good, one is more preoccupied with holding her domain together than expanding it, and the final one is not exactly alive either (and busy transforming his domain into the local equivalent of Mordor, which means it also doesn't quite fit into the Fifth Age mold).

And if we must use historical parallels, Maztica before Cordell was "pre-Colonial". With the arrival of the Golden Legion, Maztica entered its "Colonial" phase, even though the Conquest was aborted - from a meta narrative point of view, this was probably done to preserve relatively "pristine" native civilizations. But even then, this "pristine" state was doomed - thanks to the introduction of new animals (especially horses and cattle), crops, and new economic thoughts and political models (not to mention the burgeoning trade across the Trackless Sea, and the additional colonies founded by Waterdeep and Baldur's Gate).

The Spellplague and Maztica's stay on Abeir then gave me an opportunity for a more thorough "Colonial" phase - but one that took a rather more fantastic turn than events in our own history did, thanks to not only the arrival of the Seven Storms as rulers, but also the import of Dragonborn as an administrative/warrior caste and the genasi as a slave caste (not to mention numerous other imports of new species - intelligent or not).

And with the defeat of most of the Seven Storms and the return to Faerun in the wake of the Sundering, Maztica has entered its "post-Colonial" phase. And unlike in our world, the natives were not decimated by smallpox and other diseases (thanks to the availability of healing magics, if nothing else), and thus remain the majority population almost everywhere. Yet the newcomers intend to stay here - after all, they have nowhere to return to.

And now the nations of Maztica must ask themselves what their future will be like, now that their oppressors are (mostly) gone. Will they revive old traditions (the worship of the returned gods - possibly including practices of human sacrifices), or will they stick with new traditions and modes of thought developed during the Godless Time? Will they try to live in harmony with their neighbors, new and old - or will the new, fragile peace erupt into a new age of war?

In either case, there will be plenty of conflict. And conflict always means new opportunities for adventures...
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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Dragonhelm » Mon Nov 06, 2017 8:45 pm

Thanks for the response. I think you've made a logical and good choice and I overall like what you're doing. The only downside for me is that the dragon overlords break me out of my sense of immersion.

There's a product out there called Dragons Conquer America, written for the FATE system. You might look at that for further inspiration.
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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:53 am

Dragonhelm wrote:Thanks for the response. I think you've made a logical and good choice and I overall like what you're doing. The only downside for me is that the dragon overlords break me out of my sense of immersion.
"Immersion" is a tricky business. If the goal is to "immerse" in a near-historical Mesoamerican setting, then the original Boxed Set did not always succeed - or otherwise they would not have had all those orcs, ogres, and trolls coming out of nowhere during the Night of Wailing.

What I am striving for is "self-consistency". In my view, the central premise of Returned Maztica is "Mesoamerica meets D&D", and by making this "meeting" a series of historical events, I can develop it to one possible logical conclusion. And just like much of mainland Faerun is "inspired by" European history, legends, and folklore without being a direct counterpart (thanks to all those D&Disms, among other things), Returned Maztica is inspired by Mesoamerica without being a direct counterpart - it has more in common with the tropes of Alternate History, where some event throws the "proper flow" of history off its course.
There's a product out there called Dragons Conquer America, written for the FATE system. You might look at that for further inspiration.
I am aware of it and considering backing it, thanks.
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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Sturm » Tue Nov 07, 2017 8:58 am

Also I understand Jürgen's dragons are not gigantic as those of the Fifth Age :)
Really good work Jürgen, I think your Returned Maztica has the right amount of self-consistency and a lot of opportunities for adventures :)

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Tue Nov 07, 2017 6:29 pm

Sturm wrote:Also I understand Jürgen's dragons are not gigantic as those of the Fifth Age :)
Yup, just "regular" Ancient Chromatic Dragons.
Really good work Jürgen, I think your Returned Maztica has the right amount of self-consistency and a lot of opportunities for adventures :)
Thanks - that was the plan. In fact, I plan to run a campaign in this setting in the new year - one of the players was already using Maztica as a background for "Tomb of Annihilation", so they were curious what I came up with.
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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Zeromaru X » Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:30 pm

Gods, you have uploaded a lot of material. It will take some time for me to read them all (I'm like in page 15 of your topic in RPG Forums).

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Wed Nov 08, 2017 5:52 pm

Zeromaru X wrote:Gods, you have uploaded a lot of material. It will take some time for me to read them all (I'm like in page 15 of your topic in RPG Forums).
There is a lot of material, yes - but much of it is not yet in a coherent form. This is one of thr reasons why I joined this forum - so that I can distill my ideas on specific subjects.

The eventual plan is publication on the Dungeon Master's Guild, but I still have some work to do before I get there. ;)
Returned Maztica - a new vision for Maztica in the 5th Edition era of the Forgotten Realms! Learn how the continent has changed after invasions and dragonfire, and take part as the people of Maztica finally take their destinies into their own hands!

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:59 pm

I've finished with my series of writeups for the major regions of Maztica, and linked to them from the first post. Please tell me what you think! Which do you like best? And which ones need the most work to make them more interesting?
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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Sturm » Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:45 am

Like all of them. I'd like, with time, more details on all these regions. In particular about the interactions between Mazticans, Faerunians and Abeirans which I think has the potential to make the setting even more interesting. And mind, I considered Maztica an interesting setting even before the arrival of Faerunians..

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:00 pm

I plan to eventually write up one city for each region, and eant to start with Ulatos-Dragonport - which will obviously have plenty of interactions between those groups.

Though at the moment the only region beyond Payit where Faerunian cultural influences actually matter is Kultaka - elsewhere, their impact has faded into the background (although their crops, animals, and technology have been kept around). This might change in the future as more people from Faerun arrive.
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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Sturm » Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:16 pm

Sure but still to examine how their crops and animals have impacted the setting is very interesting to me, as you wrote in Pezelac...

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:10 pm

Sturm wrote:Sure but still to examine how their crops and animals have impacted the setting is very interesting to me, as you wrote in Pezelac...
Okay, let me try to provide a quick overview:

Wizardry: Embraced enthusiastically by Kultaka. Wizards are reasonably common in Payit, though they tend to guard their knowledge more jealously. Both Tukan and Port Moon are major centers of wizardly learning, though with rather different approaches. Nexal officially disdains it. In other regions wizards do show up occasionally, but not as a very organized group.

Horses: Now common throughout Maztica, though they are embraced most enthusiastically on the wide, open plains of Pezelac. Even Nexal uses horse cavalry now, justifying their use as "spoils of war".

Cattle: Again, Pezelac is the most famous for embracing them - though Kultaka and some of the southern regions of Kolan also have plenty of plains that are too dry for intensive agriculture but suitable for grazing.

Grains: Mayz is already an excellent crop, but settlers from Faerun introduced other crops such as wheat to the True World. They did not spread much beyond their colonial regions, and thus remain the most common in Payit and Kultaka.

Mining and Smithing: These techniques spread out from Payit, northern Kultaka, and the city of Tukan (where many of the desert dwarves returned to more traditional professions) until much of the continent used them, although in more outlying regions - as well as in Cerico - they were supplanted by the techniques introduced later by the Dragonborn.


I hope that helps - if you have any further questions on this topic, don't hesitate to ask (if I don't have an answer yet, at least it allows me to think along the right lines...).

And speaking of Dragonborn, their arrival certainly had a major impact on the biology and culture of the region as well - I plan to go through old Monstrous Manuals and see what kind of strange species I can fit in. For instance, the Crabmen (from the AD&D 2E Monstrous Manual) are a good fit, especially since they are attracted to silver - they could spread in the oceans following the routes of the silver shipments.

Basically, to be suitable for this setting new species must fit one of these criteria:

- They must be salt water aquatics or flying creatures (i.e. they have been able to get there under their own power)
- They have been introduced deliberately for some reason - as beasts of burden, for hunting, as slaves, or for harvesting.
- They were stowaways. For instance, kobolds could stow away on ships, as could osquips... but young or larval members of the species could also be transported when an adult specimen would be noticed.
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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Sturm » Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:04 am

Well it would be interesting to explore also the impact of dragonborns and tieflings.
Also I believe it was mentioned somewhere that Lantan had a port in Maztica.. Lantan went to Abeir too, so their connection to Maztica could have increased and the Lantanese supposedly returned more secretive and with more advenced technology. They could still have a dragon ruler, and they could have introduced some tech to Maztica..

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Sturm » Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:12 am

Also the orcs, ogres and trolls created by the Night of Wailing should be differentiated from "normal" orcs, ogres and trolls of Faerun.
What about goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears and kobolds? If such creatures were not present in Maztica, is possible that Faerunians brought some, maybe as slaves? If not, are such creatures present in Abeir?

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Re: Returned Maztica

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:32 am

Dragonborn have indeed a major impact on the region, which I will develop in more detail as I develop the regions. They were introduced as an administrative/warrior class whose job it was to ensure the tribute collection. As a result, they gained a lot of political and economic power, but also face resentments by the native population.

Most tieflings in Maztica are descended from the high priests of the Viperhand, and even if this is not actually true in a specific case, most Mazticans will assume it to be so and treat them accordingly.

Since the Viperhand cult was almost exclusively male, few purebred orcs, ogres, and trolls have survived to the present day. Instead, the elite of Nexal consists of a significant population of half-orcs, half-ogres, and half-trolls (in addition to the tieflings).

Kobolds fit my view of the setting thanks to their draconic associations and thus can now be found in Maztica as well. Goblinoids less so, and thus I will leave them out. I am not averse to introducing additional races, but they should be more obscure D&D races to maintain the "exotic" flair of the setting.

Finally, the Lantanese exile community can largely be found in Ulatos-Dragonport, although some of them have spread further.
Returned Maztica - a new vision for Maztica in the 5th Edition era of the Forgotten Realms! Learn how the continent has changed after invasions and dragonfire, and take part as the people of Maztica finally take their destinies into their own hands!

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