Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Mezo-American adventures in Maztica, the True World.
The Book-House: Find Maztica products.
Post Reply
User avatar
Seethyr
Couatl
Posts: 1651
Joined: Thu Jun 10, 2010 1:07 am
Gender: male
Location: The City of Gold

Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Post by Seethyr »

I’m curious, I’ve been running campaigns in Maztica for 6 years now with a relatively consistent group. I’d say we are like Metallica - still the same core but a few minor changes in personnel over our long history.

I still love the campaign and want to keep it going but thought to start adding, well, non Mesoamerican elements into the campaign. If you were adventuring in Maztica how much variation would you accept? I mean, on one hand, if you’re going to be there, you want to see the jaguar knights and the Plumed Dragons and ziggurat like temples, but wouldn’t you want a little variation even if you’re deep in it?

I’ve been toying with demiplanes and ancient cultures that have left ruins that are decidedly NOT Mesoamerican in feel lately and I don’t know if I’m going to lose my players’ interest or not. They’re as passionate about the setting as I am. I’d ask them, but then it would ruin any sense of surprise. I’m legitimately nervous and tentative.

If you think it’s a good idea, what elements might you add?
Follow the Maztica (Aztez/Maya) and Anchorome (Indigenous North America) Campaigns on DMsGuild!

The Maztica Campaign
The Anchorome Campaign

apotheot
Troll
Posts: 400
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:19 pm
Gender: male
Contact:

Re: Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Post by apotheot »

I would ask your players how they feel. Chances are good that if you have been running a game with them for 6 years they aren't just in it for the setting. Personally, this is why I like Malatra. You want a mezoamerican jungle tribe...boom, you have one. But you are not bound by it alone and anything "jungle-y" goes. I still plan on writing that Malatra/Maztica crossover at some point...
-Apotheot

User avatar
Cthulhudrew
Green Dragon
Posts: 4637
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:13 pm
Gender: male
Location: Long Beach, CA

Re: Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Post by Cthulhudrew »

I don't recall specifics about what was in the Maztica boxed set and supplements, but aren't there non-Mesoamerican based cultures in there (like Inca, for instance?) It should be pretty easy to introduce some other native American inspired cultures.

Or are you looking for things that are very different?

One idea that you could explore might be Maztican airships (based on the idea that ancient artifacts discovered that resemble airplanes suggest they had aircraft; mere speculation in the RW, but not out of the realm of possibility for a fantasy world).

You could also play up the similarly speculative concept of ancient aliens- maybe have some Mazticans that have either been visited by extraterrestrial creatures or extradimensional ones. Kind of "Barrier to the Expedition Peaks" Maztica style.
Moderator of the Mystara and Greyhawk forums. My moderator voice is gray-green.

apotheot
Troll
Posts: 400
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:19 pm
Gender: male
Contact:

Re: Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Post by apotheot »

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 5:22 pm
One idea that you could explore might be Maztican airships (based on the idea that ancient artifacts discovered that resemble airplanes suggest they had aircraft; mere speculation in the RW, but not out of the realm of possibility for a fantasy world).

You could also play up the similarly speculative concept of ancient aliens- maybe have some Mazticans that have either been visited by extraterrestrial creatures or extradimensional ones. Kind of "Barrier to the Expedition Peaks" Maztica style.
lol, all things that actually exist in Malatra.

Seethyr, I would suggest that you spend some time watching some documentaries about Mezoamerican cultures. I recently was on a plane and caught something called the Lost Treasures of the Maya, which actually helped rekindle my creativity a bit. I am sure there are plenty of things out there to chose from, as our knowledge on the real world regions' tribal history and culture seems to grow daily.

-Apotheot.

User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
Posts: 26676
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: London UK
Contact:

Re: Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Post by Big Mac »

Seethyr wrote:
Thu Dec 26, 2019 10:05 pm
I’ve been toying with demiplanes and ancient cultures that have left ruins that are decidedly NOT Mesoamerican in feel lately and I don’t know if I’m going to lose my players’ interest or not. They’re as passionate about the setting as I am. I’d ask them, but then it would ruin any sense of surprise. I’m legitimately nervous and tentative.

If you think it’s a good idea, what elements might you add?
For me, what makes Maztica unique is that it is not just a copy of Mesoamerica - it is a reboot of Mesoamerica in the context of Toril, the world of Forgotten Realms.

I think that advancing beyond the 2nd Edition Era gives us some fun things to play with like:
  • Lolth's interference and how that would play out in a Mesoamerican context,
  • The invasion of Amnian religion and how the existing Maztican religions could push back (and should push back, so it's not just a clone of the Spanish taking over),
  • The bespoke cosmology of Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting which is slightly different from the Great Wheel and which could be given a Maztica makeover,
  • The Shadow Weave and Circle Magic (and who might use/misuse this FR spellcasting style in Maztica or beyond,
  • Kara-Tur and how ships or spelljamming ships from Shou might have created an impact on the western cost of the lands around Maztica,
  • Al-Qadim and how corsairs from Zakhara might have traded with the Mazticans at some point and
  • Arcane Age and how the Netherese Empire and the Empire of Elves in the Arcane Age products could be the basis for a now-vanished uber empire that predated the current civilistions in Maztica.
In other words, I would personally want to cherry-pick the most interesting ideas from other parts of Forgotten Realms, erase the non-Maztican backstories behind those ideas and give those ideas a Maztican makeover that makes them feel like they are very close to real-world ideas from a part of Mesoamerica.

Would - for example - the Shadow Weave be something that followers of Zaltec could learn about from Amnians? Zaltec does not control the Shadow Weave, but would it stack well with Hisna magic? Maybe it would. Maybe it wouldn't. But what if a cult of Shadow Weave user started making Hisna magic that had all the immunities to normal magic that Shadow Weave magic has? It could be a game changer, on the small scale, without being something totally alien to Maztica (because it's "weird stuff from across the sea" rather than "weird stuff that has nothing to do with Maztica).
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and follow The Piazza's Twitter feed so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum (and administrator). My moderator voice is green.

User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
Posts: 26676
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: London UK
Contact:

Re: Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Post by Big Mac »

apotheot wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 12:26 pm
Cthulhudrew wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 5:22 pm
One idea that you could explore might be Maztican airships (based on the idea that ancient artifacts discovered that resemble airplanes suggest they had aircraft; mere speculation in the RW, but not out of the realm of possibility for a fantasy world).

You could also play up the similarly speculative concept of ancient aliens- maybe have some Mazticans that have either been visited by extraterrestrial creatures or extradimensional ones. Kind of "Barrier to the Expedition Peaks" Maztica style.
lol, all things that actually exist in Malatra.

Seethyr, I would suggest that you spend some time watching some documentaries about Mezoamerican cultures. I recently was on a plane and caught something called the Lost Treasures of the Maya, which actually helped rekindle my creativity a bit. I am sure there are plenty of things out there to chose from, as our knowledge on the real world regions' tribal history and culture seems to grow daily.
I think the same Nubari that created Malatra could have created a similar (hidden location) within the Maztican continent.

Perhaps the Living Jungle could be raided for ideas on how to create a "Mesoamerican lost world" that has the Kara-Tur elements removed and replaced with Mesoamerican elements. (The Oscray would need to go - it would be too much of a coincidence for them to arrive in both places. But they could be replaced by something else...like a certain creature that lives on Anadia.)
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and follow The Piazza's Twitter feed so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum (and administrator). My moderator voice is green.

apotheot
Troll
Posts: 400
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:19 pm
Gender: male
Contact:

Re: Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Post by apotheot »

Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 3:23 pm

I think the same Nubari that created Malatra could have created a similar (hidden location) within the Maztican continent.
One of the ideas I am toying with for a Malatra/Maztica crossover. Another tidbit is there are a few races in Malatra (such as the tabaxi) which pretty much had to come from Maztica.

Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 3:23 pm
Perhaps the Living Jungle could be raided for ideas on how to create a "Mesoamerican lost world" that has the Kara-Tur elements removed and replaced with Mesoamerican elements. (The Oscray would need to go - it would be too much of a coincidence for them to arrive in both places. But they could be replaced by something else...like a certain creature that lives on Anadia.)
There are plenty of old LJ adventures that are just set in a generic "Jungle" setting that could be raided.

For me, one of the real draws to Maztica is the interaction with the newly arrived Faerunians. It gives the setting a very conquistador feel, something that Malatra should never have due to its designed isolationism.
-Apotheot

User avatar
Seethyr
Couatl
Posts: 1651
Joined: Thu Jun 10, 2010 1:07 am
Gender: male
Location: The City of Gold

Re: Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Post by Seethyr »

apotheot wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 1:59 pm
I would ask your players how they feel. Chances are good that if you have been running a game with them for 6 years they aren't just in it for the setting. Personally, this is why I like Malatra. You want a mezoamerican jungle tribe...boom, you have one. But you are not bound by it alone and anything "jungle-y" goes. I still plan on writing that Malatra/Maztica crossover at some point...
-Apotheot
I love Malatra too and always thought about giving it a makeover. The Spelljammer ties are just too strong and I keep thinking WotC is going to come around with an update to it "sometime soon." I'm growing old!

Seeing a crossover would be fantastic. I know Malatra is meant to have a more Asia-based background to its jungle than South America, but who cares - it's fantasy.

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 5:22 pm
I don't recall specifics about what was in the Maztica boxed set and supplements, but aren't there non-Mesoamerican based cultures in there (like Inca, for instance?) It should be pretty easy to introduce some other native American inspired cultures.

Or are you looking for things that are very different?

One idea that you could explore might be Maztican airships (based on the idea that ancient artifacts discovered that resemble airplanes suggest they had aircraft; mere speculation in the RW, but not out of the realm of possibility for a fantasy world).

You could also play up the similarly speculative concept of ancient aliens- maybe have some Mazticans that have either been visited by extraterrestrial creatures or extradimensional ones. Kind of "Barrier to the Expedition Peaks" Maztica style.
Yes, but more so in the south of Maztica where we have Lopango. I hope to revisit it sometime soon, and the idea of the floating ship works great with that part of the world. Big Mac used to love to reference the Cities of Gold cartoon which had a "Flying Condor" that would be fun to work out.

As far as extradimensional/extraterrestrial creatures, I really have been hoping for a Planescape/Spelljammer update to get that going. It's very hard to do that all yourself, even with hundreds of books of earlier edition inspiration.

apotheot wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 12:26 pm
Cthulhudrew wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 5:22 pm
One idea that you could explore might be Maztican airships (based on the idea that ancient artifacts discovered that resemble airplanes suggest they had aircraft; mere speculation in the RW, but not out of the realm of possibility for a fantasy world).

You could also play up the similarly speculative concept of ancient aliens- maybe have some Mazticans that have either been visited by extraterrestrial creatures or extradimensional ones. Kind of "Barrier to the Expedition Peaks" Maztica style.
lol, all things that actually exist in Malatra.

Seethyr, I would suggest that you spend some time watching some documentaries about Mezoamerican cultures. I recently was on a plane and caught something called the Lost Treasures of the Maya, which actually helped rekindle my creativity a bit. I am sure there are plenty of things out there to chose from, as our knowledge on the real world regions' tribal history and culture seems to grow daily.

-Apotheot.
We learn so much almost on a daily basis, and some of it is so easy to Dnd-ify. Mesocultures have been ignored in gaming for really too long.

Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 3:18 pm
Seethyr wrote:
Thu Dec 26, 2019 10:05 pm
I’ve been toying with demiplanes and ancient cultures that have left ruins that are decidedly NOT Mesoamerican in feel lately and I don’t know if I’m going to lose my players’ interest or not. They’re as passionate about the setting as I am. I’d ask them, but then it would ruin any sense of surprise. I’m legitimately nervous and tentative.

If you think it’s a good idea, what elements might you add?
For me, what makes Maztica unique is that it is not just a copy of Mesoamerica - it is a reboot of Mesoamerica in the context of Toril, the world of Forgotten Realms.

I think that advancing beyond the 2nd Edition Era gives us some fun things to play with like:
  • Lolth's interference and how that would play out in a Mesoamerican context,
  • The invasion of Amnian religion and how the existing Maztican religions could push back (and should push back, so it's not just a clone of the Spanish taking over),
  • The bespoke cosmology of Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting which is slightly different from the Great Wheel and which could be given a Maztica makeover,
  • The Shadow Weave and Circle Magic (and who might use/misuse this FR spellcasting style in Maztica or beyond,
  • Kara-Tur and how ships or spelljamming ships from Shou might have created an impact on the western cost of the lands around Maztica,
  • Al-Qadim and how corsairs from Zakhara might have traded with the Mazticans at some point and
  • Arcane Age and how the Netherese Empire and the Empire of Elves in the Arcane Age products could be the basis for a now-vanished uber empire that predated the current civilistions in Maztica.
In other words, I would personally want to cherry-pick the most interesting ideas from other parts of Forgotten Realms, erase the non-Maztican backstories behind those ideas and give those ideas a Maztican makeover that makes them feel like they are very close to real-world ideas from a part of Mesoamerica.

Would - for example - the Shadow Weave be something that followers of Zaltec could learn about from Amnians? Zaltec does not control the Shadow Weave, but would it stack well with Hisna magic? Maybe it would. Maybe it wouldn't. But what if a cult of Shadow Weave user started making Hisna magic that had all the immunities to normal magic that Shadow Weave magic has? It could be a game changer, on the small scale, without being something totally alien to Maztica (because it's "weird stuff from across the sea" rather than "weird stuff that has nothing to do with Maztica).
Haven't thought about using Lolth in a while, I figured her angle had died with the conclusion in the novels, but you know how that one is.

I've tried very hard to downplay the Amnians, or leave them as only a small part of the lore now. After all, Maztica was shut off from Amn for 100 years or so anyway. Their influence likely faded as the absorbed into the population, but there are still angles to explore, particularly as they are reintroduced post-Sundering.

I'm particularly interested in the Arcane Age stuff. There are ruins in the desert known as Olbi from an unknown culture that I attempted and failed to explore before. My write up was boring and I abandoned it, but will re-approach it at a future date and hopefully do it right.

Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 3:23 pm
apotheot wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 12:26 pm
Cthulhudrew wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 5:22 pm
One idea that you could explore might be Maztican airships (based on the idea that ancient artifacts discovered that resemble airplanes suggest they had aircraft; mere speculation in the RW, but not out of the realm of possibility for a fantasy world).

You could also play up the similarly speculative concept of ancient aliens- maybe have some Mazticans that have either been visited by extraterrestrial creatures or extradimensional ones. Kind of "Barrier to the Expedition Peaks" Maztica style.
lol, all things that actually exist in Malatra.

Seethyr, I would suggest that you spend some time watching some documentaries about Mezoamerican cultures. I recently was on a plane and caught something called the Lost Treasures of the Maya, which actually helped rekindle my creativity a bit. I am sure there are plenty of things out there to chose from, as our knowledge on the real world regions' tribal history and culture seems to grow daily.
I think the same Nubari that created Malatra could have created a similar (hidden location) within the Maztican continent.

Perhaps the Living Jungle could be raided for ideas on how to create a "Mesoamerican lost world" that has the Kara-Tur elements removed and replaced with Mesoamerican elements. (The Oscray would need to go - it would be too much of a coincidence for them to arrive in both places. But they could be replaced by something else...like a certain creature that lives on Anadia.)
Hah, yes the anadjiin are coming! In force :-)


apotheot wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 12:28 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 3:23 pm

I think the same Nubari that created Malatra could have created a similar (hidden location) within the Maztican continent.
One of the ideas I am toying with for a Malatra/Maztica crossover. Another tidbit is there are a few races in Malatra (such as the tabaxi) which pretty much had to come from Maztica.

Big Mac wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 3:23 pm
Perhaps the Living Jungle could be raided for ideas on how to create a "Mesoamerican lost world" that has the Kara-Tur elements removed and replaced with Mesoamerican elements. (The Oscray would need to go - it would be too much of a coincidence for them to arrive in both places. But they could be replaced by something else...like a certain creature that lives on Anadia.)
There are plenty of old LJ adventures that are just set in a generic "Jungle" setting that could be raided.

For me, one of the real draws to Maztica is the interaction with the newly arrived Faerunians. It gives the setting a very conquistador feel, something that Malatra should never have due to its designed isolationism.
-Apotheot
Yes, tabaxi seem to have become "officially" natives of Maztica in the most recent lore. So that literally proves there is or was a connection.
Follow the Maztica (Aztez/Maya) and Anchorome (Indigenous North America) Campaigns on DMsGuild!

The Maztica Campaign
The Anchorome Campaign

User avatar
Cthulhudrew
Green Dragon
Posts: 4637
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:13 pm
Gender: male
Location: Long Beach, CA

Re: Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Post by Cthulhudrew »

Seethyr wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 7:52 pm
Yes, tabaxi seem to have become "officially" natives of Maztica in the most recent lore. So that literally proves there is or was a connection.
Interesting. Tabaxi would seem to be a natural fit for Maztica. There are many examples of jaguar people in RW Mesoamerican and South American myth and lore.
Moderator of the Mystara and Greyhawk forums. My moderator voice is gray-green.

User avatar
Jürgen Hubert
Bugbear
Posts: 152
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:18 pm
Gender: male

Re: Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Post by Jürgen Hubert »

The most obvious solution to this are pre-human ruins - remnants of the Creator Races. These could easily be justified in Maztican mythology as inhabitants of the "previous worlds" as well. And since the Creator Races surely had different cultural expressions and demographics in different regions, you needn't limit yourself to what we know of their remnants in Faerun itself.

And of course, as I have argued before, the century Maztica spent on Abeir can justify all kinds of invasive species and new cultural influences.
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!

apotheot
Troll
Posts: 400
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:19 pm
Gender: male
Contact:

Re: Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Post by apotheot »

Jürgen Hubert wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:28 am
The most obvious solution to this are pre-human ruins - remnants of the Creator Races. These could easily be justified in Maztican mythology as inhabitants of the "previous worlds" as well. And since the Creator Races surely had different cultural expressions and demographics in different regions, you needn't limit yourself to what we know of their remnants in Faerun itself.
Personally, I like the idea of even pre-creator race ruins. Give me Spellweavers, Primordial Gith, or Leshay.
Jürgen Hubert wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:28 am
And of course, as I have argued before, the century Maztica spent on Abeir can justify all kinds of invasive species and new cultural influences.
I completely agree with this one and advocate similar with Malatra. Which invasive species do you think fit best?


-Apotheot

User avatar
Jürgen Hubert
Bugbear
Posts: 152
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:18 pm
Gender: male

Re: Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Post by Jürgen Hubert »

apotheot wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:38 am
Jürgen Hubert wrote:
Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:28 am
The most obvious solution to this are pre-human ruins - remnants of the Creator Races. These could easily be justified in Maztican mythology as inhabitants of the "previous worlds" as well. And since the Creator Races surely had different cultural expressions and demographics in different regions, you needn't limit yourself to what we know of their remnants in Faerun itself.
Personally, I like the idea of even pre-creator race ruins. Give me Spellweavers, Primordial Gith, or Leshay.
The Days of Thunder covered tens of thousands of years - and we only have the barest glimpses. It should be possible to justify almost anything.
I completely agree with this one and advocate similar with Malatra. Which invasive species do you think fit best?
Well, in my version of Maztica a lot of dragonborn migrated there to serve as occupation troops for the dragon overlords that temporarily ruled most of Maztica. They brought with them both genasi slaves and kobold servants.

Furthermore, I have crabfolk showing up everywhere along the eastern coast. Due to their methods of propagation nobody knows for sure whether they arrived from Faerun or Abeir, but now they are widespread.
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!

User avatar
Jürgen Hubert
Bugbear
Posts: 152
Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 8:18 pm
Gender: male

Re: Always Mesoamerican in Maztica?

Post by Jürgen Hubert »

One thing I recommend is adding elements which are not derived from European mythology and folklore, or where at least it's not obvious that they are from European folklore. And D&D has plenty of elements - monsters and so forth - which divorced enough from European folklore to work for this. The OD&D Creature Catalogue is a good source, for instance - but there are many other good monster manuals to choose from (I recommend reading the assorted "Where I Read" threads on such books on RPGNet - they have been really eye-opening).
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!

Post Reply

Return to “Maztica”