[Returned Maztica] The Ghost People of Anchorome

Mezo-American adventures in Maztica, the True World.
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Jürgen Hubert
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[Returned Maztica] The Ghost People of Anchorome

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:11 am

Another entry in my Returned Maztica series. I initially contemplated whether to put this into the Kultaka thread, but decided that this can stand on its own.

The Ghost People of Anchorome

The widely-taught official doctrine of the Nexalan Empire was that the original Mazticans were nomads in a "nameless northern barren" until one of their priests came upon a cavern "which showed a regularity of construction indicating unnatural origins" where he received a vision from Zaltec. But there were always other variants of the story not approved by Temple doctrine - that the Mazticans were not living in the surface barrens, but within the caves themselves oppressed by some unnameable terrors until their priest led them to freedom and the outside world.

As the Kultakan Empire expands into the northern frontiers, its explorers and leaders alike have been very interesting in finding the cavern of Tecco's vision - if they returned to where the original Mazticans had to flee from, then surely this would prove their superiority over the hated Nexala. And indeed their frontiersmen have now found a nameless barren, a vast expanse of which the neighboring nomadic tribes only dare whisper. They tell of a race of men they call the Hayaanuh Kayu, or "ghost people", who could pass through stone and speak directly into one's soul with commanding voices. From time to time they would emerge from their subterranean lairs at night and abduct men, women, and children for unspeakable purposes, never to be seen again. The few known entrances to their realms were guarded by ghosts, shambling dead, and worse things.

The Kultakans are made of sterner stuff, or so they would like to believe. They are no mere primitive nomads to be frightened by simple spells and magical tricks. They have faced real monsters and dragonfire, and whatever these "ghost people" are, they cannot possibly be as dangerous as the locals believe. To the Kultakan warriors and strategists, they are merely yet another opportunity for glory, plunder, or perhaps a source of new tricks and powers to add to the Kultakan arsenals.

But the truth behind the Hayaanuh Kayu is far worse than what they could have possibly imagined. Here, then, is the truth about the "Ghost People" - but the name they call themselves is "Elan".

The Elan are of native human stock, but they split from their fellow humans millenia ago - how long ago, not even they can remember. Their ancestors developed vast powers of the mind, and learned how to combine these with certain alchemical processes to transform themselves into new, psionically empowered beings - immortal, but no longer quite human. The process also caused them to forget much of what they had learned in their previous lives, but that mattered little to those who had eternity to learn new skills. They could no longer sire or conceive children, but apart from inducting new humans into their race (and the process would work only on humans, and never on other races), they could also create new elan via an alchemical and psionic ritual which would allow two or more elan to contribute some of their vital essence to create a new, fully formed elan with a mixture of all their traits.

The elan were soon cast out from the superstitious tribes of the area, but this concerned them little - they simply moved underground, where they built vast cities using psionic and alchemical technologies not seen before or since on Toril. They became masters of shaping both minds and flesh. But this Golden Age came to an aprupt end when their explorers delved too deep into the Earth and discovered unnameable things living below. Some began worshiping these beings first secretly, and then openly. Then the other Elan rose up against the cults and destroyed them, but ushering a new age of fear and ignorance where the Elan cities were cut off from both the world above and below and knowledge that was perceived as "dangerous" was erased from both monuments and minds by eager inquisitors.

This age, too, is long gone, but the Elan have never really recovered from it. Old technologies have been lost and old devices can no longer be maintained. While there are still lone geniuses exploring the past and attempting to reestablish some remnants of old glories, most of the race has been afflicted by a deep sense of ennui as they while away the ages. Many of them meet in study groups where they debate obscure points of philosophy, while others watch gruesome public entertainments in their arenas, and some perfect the art of flesh warping on slave species and the few outsiders that have been captured on the surface - the fate of the unfortunate nomads of the regions above.

However, captives - or explorers - who come from more distant lands will likely be treated differently, since they represent that most precious of things - a curiosity. They will be welcomed into the study groups, questioned about their lands and previous lives and treated as honored guests - but it will also be made clear that they will never be allowed to leave. Some such guests will find contentment in their new lives below, which has a lot to offer - including, possibly, induction into the elan race itself - but others will be repulsed by their gruesome diversions, their horrible steeds and war beasts, their utterly alien society and attempt to make their escape. So far, none have succeeded.

Even a "typical" Elan is a potent treat, due to their powers of the mind honed over many mortal lifetimes. But Kultaka isn't necessarily doomed for seeking confrontation with this race they yet understand little of. The Elan city-states now stand apart from each other and are unlikely to be able to mount a coordinated defense from outside attacks. And the city-states themselves are increasingly becoming unstable - factionalism and strife have spread as each Elan is desperately searching for something to give their lives meaning, and during an confrontation they will fight just as much with each other about the "correct" course of action as they will fight the invaders. The greater danger is that the Elan will disperse from their lairs and spread elsewhere. Already a few of the more adventurous among them have made the trip to Maztican lands, reveling in all the new people, cultures, and sensations. Some of them have even take on on apprentices or entire cults to whom they teach their powers. It is only a matter of time until they begin transforming Maztican humans into more of their kind...
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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Sturm
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Re: [Returned Maztica] The Ghost People of Anchorome

Post by Sturm » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:26 am

Very interesting race, a lot of possibilities :) a good way to introduce psionics into Maztica!

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Jürgen Hubert
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Re: [Returned Maztica] The Ghost People of Anchorome

Post by Jürgen Hubert » Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:14 am

Sturm wrote:Very interesting race, a lot of possibilities :) a good way to introduce psionics into Maztica!
I also consider it my own personal homage to Lovecraft - can anyone spot the source of inspiration? ;)
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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