Returned Maztica

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
So the big news this week was that Wizards of the Coast now allows others to publish and sell Forgotten Realms material at the Dungeon Masters Guild. This is motivating me to revisit some Forgotten Realms ideas I've had some time ago, and maybe work them out in detail, polish them, and publish them. First among these is a revisit of the continent of Maztica.

The original Maztica Boxed Set was published in 1991, which was one of several attempts to insert more real world counterpart cultures into the Forgotten Realms - in this case, Mesoamerica. The boxed set was accompanied by the Maztica trilogy of novels, which could be described as: "Cortez' conquest of the Aztec Empire, except it got aborted halfway through when it turned out that Cortez had been manipulated by drow all along and most of the Aztec warriors were turned into orcs, ogres, and trolls".

I am a bit hazy on the details, and will have to re-read the material again.

But I regard direct "counterpart cultures" without interesting twists boring, so why revisit Maztica again?

Well, while I was never a big fan of the Spellplague and the time skip of the Forgotten Realms, at the current, 5e time period Maztica should be an utterly fascinating place. Consider this: First, parts of it were conquered by Cordell and his Amnian mercenaries (a bunch of other colonies were added by Waterdeep, Baldur's Gate, and Calimshan later). Then, little more than two decades later, the Spellplague occurs and the entire continent vanishes to the twin world of Abeir, colonies and all. How much the foreigners maintain their power in the absence of support from home, and how much they assimilate into the larger native culture will be a fascinating subject to explore. It is likely that they will also have a lot of contact with the rest of Abeir - which (reading the material on "Returned Abeir") likely means that a whole bunch of dragons will attempt to conquer it.

Then, a century later, Maztica returns to Toril with the Sundering. What happened in the meantime, and how both native and conqueror cultures evolved during the continent's absence will be something I will want to explore - though it is likely that Amn won't be able to regain its ancient colony on the continent, since the natives now know their tricks.

A further motivation for revisiting Maztica is that there has been much more research on Mesoamerica in the last 25 years. In particular, my perception of the region has been informed by works such as Guns, Germs, and Steel, 1491, and 1493 (though RPGNetters have also given me a lot of recommendations for further research material). By now, there is much more material available to help us understand the achievements and culture of the old inhabitants of Mesoamerica. I want to draw on that knowledge and make sure that the natives of Maztica are not merely portrayed as victims or used as background color for explorers from Faerun, but as people with their own agency who can have triumphs in the face of adversity.

To achieve this, I want to use this thread for brainstorming and post whatever thoughts occur to me for this project, until I have enough ideas to turn all this into a more coherent and published form. Feel free to join in with the brainstorming!
 

Ferrus Animus

42
Validated User
Int hat case you should read up on the material for the dragonborn in the 4E FR and the nation of Tymanther. Especially the few online magazine articles.
They did become independent on Abeir by killing all the dragons that wanted to rule them, and their society was formed around that struggle. So there should be some material that would be useful in detailing the Mazticans as they will have had similar fights against the dragons trying to conquer them, successful or not.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Int hat case you should read up on the material for the dragonborn in the 4E FR and the nation of Tymanther. Especially the few online magazine articles.
They did become independent on Abeir by killing all the dragons that wanted to rule them, and their society was formed around that struggle. So there should be some material that would be useful in detailing the Mazticans as they will have had similar fights against the dragons trying to conquer them, successful or not.
Thanks for the pointer. Which issues can I find those? I need to read up more on anything Abeir-related anyway.

Speaking of which, dragons tend to love gold and silver - and Maztica has those in abundance. So let's say that a group of really ancient and powerful dragons - which I will call the "Seven Storms" - divide Maztica among themselves and bring a bunch of Dragonborn and other slaves over to run the place for them and extract all that wealth.

However, eventually a secret alliance forms between restless Mazticans and equally restless Dragonborn - and against all odds, they begin to succeed. After many triumphs and tragedies their greatest heroes and their supporters manage to slay five of the Storms. Most of these heroes perish, but as if in answer to their hopes and prayers, the Steelsky lifts and their continent is back in Faerun.

Now, two years later much of the continent lies in ruin (as in, dungeons for the PCs to explore!), yet the people are hopeful again that their lands can recover now that the tyranny of the dragons is over. Two of the Storms remain, and they continue to be a threat - yet they are wary to expand their territories too rashly, in light of what happened to their peers.

In other words, we now have a new era of adventure, where heroes from Faerun are welcome as long as they are willing to help to clear out dangers - yet the natives will not tolerate further attempts to dominate them. This setup also provides a new homeland for Dragonborn, now that Tymanther has vanished.

Also, Maztica now likely has major shipyards - which means that this time it could be Maztica which explores Faerun, as opposed to the other way around!
 
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Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
After reading the relevant chapter of 1493, one real world town which I definitely want to transplant to Maztica is Potosí. It was the location of the single biggest silver mines in the Spanish Empire. Despite being at an elevation of more than 4000 meters, it quickly grew to be one of the biggest cities in the world, with more than 200,000 people.

It was also one of the most horrible places on Earth, due to the conditions in both the silver mines and the nearby mercury mines (as mercury was used for purifying silver). Frankly, after reading about this, reanimating the dying slave workers as zombies and having them work the mines would make this a more humane place!

So... let's say that the silver deposit was found a few years after the Spellplague hit - or maybe before, and the Amnish simply hadn't gotten around to properly exploit it. Then the Seven Storms arrived, fought over it, and eventually agreed to split the silver equally. They had their Dragonborn servants operate the town, with different Dragonborn clans representing different dragon overlords - and also controlling different aspects of the local economy. People from all over the world would come here out of their own free will, for they could make vast fortunes here (the Seven Storms didn't care how the city was ran, only that they got their silver). Meanwhile, the conquered Maztican nations were obligated to send an annual quota of slaves to the city, as the workers always died quickly in the horrible conditions.

With the death of five of the Seven Thunders, the city has thrown into disarray during the fighting, and much of it has become ruins - ruins where plenty of wealth is buried, for those who are brave to dig for it. The last two Storms eye each other warily, but as of yet neither has made overt attempts at seizing the city. Meanwhile, while many members of the Dragonborn clans died in the fighting, others fled to other outposts of their extensive holdings, where they either operate as "honorable businessmen", slavers, or crime lords - the distinction is rather fluid. Even if the city itself is doomed (though that is unlikely - there is still silver in those mines, and thus humans, dragonborn, and dragons alike will continue to be drawn to it), its legacy will endure.

Let's call the town "Cerico", after the "Cerro Rico" ("rich mountain") next to which the real world Potosí lies. But where to place it? Since real world Potosí is far to the south of the Aztec Empire on which Naxal/the center of Maztica is based, it's probably a good idea to place it in Lopango, the Land of Fire - at the southern end of the Maztica map. As far as we can see on the map, it also has some large mountain ranges which might be worthy to be called counterparts to the Andes.
 

Kevin Mowery

WAUGH!
Validated User
I was thinking about a returned Maztica as well, although my own interest lies in advancing the timeline by about 1000 years, so that everything--the Spellplague, the Sundering, signature characters, the Godwall, heck, the gods themselves, can be ancient history. One thought I had is that, in the absence of Faerun, old social structures probably break down fairly fast. What good is a noble title from, or a trade agreement with, a country that no longer exists when you're severely outnumbered by natives, and you're both facing down dragons and dragon-men?

Maztica returns and the kingdoms of Faerun re-establish contact and find out that the Mazticans have invented new social, political, and economic theories.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Maztica returns and the kingdoms of Faerun re-establish contact and find out that the Mazticans have invented new social, political, and economic theories.
Exactly. I mean, Native Americans frequently adapted new technologies very quickly when it suited them, such as horses and guns. It might very well be that the Mazticans have now a much wider circulation of guns and smoke powder than Faerun has after the Sundering!
 

Ferrus Animus

42
Validated User
Thanks for the pointer. Which issues can I find those? I need to read up more on anything Abeir-related anyway.
In many. The 3 4E FR books have some detail but there were articles through the entire run, but frankly the WotC D&D site they should be on is a mess for all older material.

t might very well be that the Mazticans have now a much wider circulation of guns and smoke powder than Faerun has after the Sundering!
Nitpick: Thanks to AD&D era players trying to invient gunpowder, Toril has explicitely laws of phyisics that make gunpowder unable to function :p
 

MacBalance

Registered User
Validated User
Nitpick: Thanks to AD&D era players trying to invient gunpowder, Toril has explicitely laws of phyisics that make gunpowder unable to function :p
Was this changed? I know the 2e Forgotten Realms Adventures has several pages of firearms rules... And I'm half-remembering a bit from a Spelljammer source about a shipful detonating in Waterdeep harbor or similar. Or is smokepowder different from gunpowder? (Although... Same result, just smokepowder is harder to make.)

I thought it was Greyspace where smokepowder was mysteriously intert?
 

LibraryLass

Feminazgûl
Banned
Validated User
In many. The 3 4E FR books have some detail but there were articles through the entire run, but frankly the WotC D&D site they should be on is a mess for all older material.



Nitpick: Thanks to AD&D era players trying to invient gunpowder, Toril has explicitely laws of phyisics that make gunpowder unable to function :p
I think that's Greyhawk, actually. FR has Smokepowder, which I'm sure is completely different. I think only the Lantanese know how to make... but considering Lantan went to Abeir during the Spellplague...
 
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