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Returned Maztica

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Let's move on to Ulatos itself. I've worked on the map of the twin cities some more, and here are some further details:

Spoiler: Show




Some first additions:

- The temple of Tezca that was destroyed in Cordell's time has been rebuilt on a hill in the north of the city, which fits its new, added function as the site of a major optical telegraph station.
- Ulatos has a "Grand Library" north of the city. This used to be the "Grand Library of Toril" during the Godless Time as they collected every scrap about Lost Toril that they could find, but now they are equally in a hurry about gathering information about Abeir. Everyone just calls it the Grand Library these days.
- There is a Sawmill District near the southern end of the city where logs from further upriver are cut and processed. There is also a Cotton District on the downriver end of the city where cotton is spun and clothes are made and dyed.
- The Ulatos end of the Rail ends near the Old City Center, where the palace and the other major temples can be found.
 

SunlessNick

Mildly Darkened One
Validated User
They were so fertile that they could yield up to seven harvests a year - explaining why only 20% of all people in the area had to work in agriculture (in medieval Europe, that figure was 90%)!
Possibly the only city in history that could export food to the surrounding countryside.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Possibly the only city in history that could export food to the surrounding countryside.
Yeah, their civilization really was all sorts of impressive.


Anyway - once more turning to the Random Nations Generator, we get:

Government: Monarchy. The position of Revered Counselor is hereditary in Ulatos. Given that the members of the Golden Legion likely intermarried with the local mobility (just like the Spanish in our world), it is likely that the current Revered Counselor Ixtli is a descendant of Cordell. She prefers to hide that fact in public (since that would not endear her to the public), which has Cordell-the-Warlock-Patron quite pissed off at her, and demands of his faithful decendants either replace her or forcer her to acknowledge her ancestry.

Organizations: We've got a couple of interesting ones. On one hand we have Quiverfull (a Christian cult emphasizing having lots of offspring) and the Black Dragon Society (an early 20th century ultra-nationalist Japanese organization). Let's combine that into a secret society which has many members in the less powerful Payit calpulli of Ulatos - which means those nobles those ancestors haven't intermarried with the Amnish conquerors. Thus, they seek to overthrow those of Cordell's blood and drive out all foreign influence - and they have a group of Heart Seeker cultists as well. Let's call them "Water and Reed", after the first day of the Maztican calendar in each cycle.

On the other hand, we have Secret Police and KGB as well as Skull and Bones, which I am interpreting as the ruling nobles having their own spy network that tries to sniff out opposing conspiracies threatening their rule. Since I've recently read the story of Quetzalcoatl's journey to the Underworld of Mictlan where he retrieves the bones of the previous generation of humans and mixes the bone dust with his blood in order to create the next humans, I will call this society "Bones and Blood" - symbolizing that their members descend into dark places in order to return with something valuable (i.e. knowledge). However, this group is now infiltrated by Cordell cultists who seek to take it over.

Another group is the Seelie Court, which we can interpret as the Dolphin Lord and his hangers-on. They already have followers among the Dragonborn of Dragonport, but it appears that they have followers in Ulatos as well. I will figure out their precise nature and influence later on.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Among "Major Personalities", we get:

Hashim ibn Hakim, the Veiled Prophet. This seems to be a good fit for the Fey Speaker, a water genasi who always wears the mask of his patron (the Dolphin Lord) when appearing as part of his office (and no one knows who he is outside of these appearances). Note that according to Aztec (and thus, Maztican) belief, someone who takes on a mask of another being becomes that being to some degree, so he will be perceived as the Dolphin Lord by the Payit. The Dragon's Voice will resent him, however - since he usurped leadership of the cult as she sees it (since that role was traditionally filled by a dragonborn from her clan). The Fey Speaker has lots of followers within the city and surrounding areas, and the cult grows rapidly (taking some of the more lurid aspects of New Age beliefs involving the "Age of Aquarius").

Robin Stephens, a WWII MI5 interrogator. He can serve as the lead interrogator of Bone and Blood, and the PCs should experience any encounter with him as deeply disturbing.

Charles Fort would serve as a useful model for a senior librarian/researcher at the Grand Library - the one his colleagues don't like to talk about, but who knows too much stuff about far too many subjects to be kicked out. He could become an invaluable resource for player characters encountering weird phenomena - or the source of plenty of red herrings. Or both.

Alan Pinkerton could be a former member of the Flutists who helped organize the fight against the Seven Storms (although he was not one of the Feathered Champions himself). These days, he runs his own company of guards and spies. He is sympathetic to pan-Payit causes, but is leery of the Revered Counselor because she has her own spy agency.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
I've just received the word - my new campaign starts next Friday.

We will see how it goes, but first I will need to do some more work on Ulatos...
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Major Political Issues include:

FBI Deputizes Private Contractors With Extraordinary Powers, Including 'Shoot to Kill': That seems to fit with our private spy/mercenary agency. Let's call them "Eye and Sword" (its leader is a male Payit human named Camaxtli), and the Reverend Counselor gives them this power as a counterbalance to Bone and Blood (since the latter are riddled with Cordell sympathizers, and Eye and Sword can more easily operate in other cities).

Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Let's say that the Payit cities are currently in negotiation for a major trade pact - which Ulatos-Dragonport sees as a first step towards unification. They do not need any messy public scandals that could cause problems here.

Halliburton says radioactive material was stolen: "Radioactive material" is a bit hard to translate, but maybe Eye and Sword had aquired a substance from the Shadowfell that makes it possible to open portals to there. This is what happened in the graveyard of Dragonport, and the local priestess of Miquiliachihuatl had stumbled across evidence of this. When she wouldn't hand it over to Eye and Sword agents, they framed her for some other crimes and razed the shrine in order to hush it up.

Rebellious Princess: Let's make that a granddaughter of the Revered Counselor named Nenetl. She is the eldest child of the eldest child of Ixtli, which in theory would place her fairly high in the succession, but there is a lot that could happen until then. She was eyewitness to the defeat of Ancient Scales of Wisdom, which made a lasting impression on her, and she resented that she was told to stay home while the Feathered Champions fought to liberate Maztica. She has some decent combat training and generally favors a relatively action-oriented approach to solving problems. While she is not ignorant of politics, she is a romantic at heart and believes that the world's ills can be solved by brave people standing up to evil. She might be interested in recruiting good-aligned adventurers to whatever cause she is currently pursuing. However, enemies of Ixtli are also keeping an eye on her and will attempt to manipulate her.

WHO - Swine flu pandemic has begun - 1st in 41 years: Let's switch that to "cattle flu" - lots of the cattle that are on the cattle road towards the slaughterhouses have fallen sick, and the disease is rapidly spreading. The cattle owners are desperately searching for curative herbs in bulk - but their rivals will try to steal their supplies for themselves (since it not only saves their own herds, but also drives their prices up since their rivals won't be able to deliver).

Amateur diplomat sought Nazi pact: Well, there are no direct Nazi analogues in the area. But let's say that one of the local prominent calpulli (the Gilaltuc calpulli) is quite outspoken about the idea that Payit in general and Ulatos in particular should form an alliance with Kultaka. Their clan leader, the (female) Counselor Cualli, believes that this is the only way to protect Payit against both Nexal and the Queen of Fang and Poison. This view is not particularly popular in Ulatos, but neither does anyone wish to offend Kultaka (who are important trade partners, after all). This clan also houses Kultakan diplomats.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Major Projects include:

The Global Consciousness Project was a real world project that attempted to figure out whether major real world events showed up in a network of random numbers generators. Let's say this project attempts to decypher the dream-sending of Maztica herself, the dead-but-dreaming goddess that makes up the continent. This is likely done by fans of the Charles Fort analogue at the Grand Library (I've used a random number generator to determine that she is female, and I'll name her Mecatl).

Chinese Say They're Building 'Impossible' Space Drive: Well, let's say that instead of trying to invent an anachronistic reactionless drive, certain mages have been trying to invent a method of using the Shadowfell to fast-travel between distant locations - which would have useful military applications, among other things. They have made some significant progress, but someone stole many of their notes and samples - hence the "theft of radioactive material" mentioned earlier. The military applications are another reason why the government wishes to hush this up.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Now we get to "Forms of Worship" - an important subject to the deeply religious Mazticans:

Endura Rite: This was a Cathar system of ritual suicide - people nearing their deaths would commit their remaining hours to religious work and starve themselves. Now, human sacrifice has been outlawed in Payit for more than a century. However, the government finds it hard to stop ritual suicide. A popular approach is to take a pilgrimage to Twin Visages and fling yourself from the cliffs, dedicating your death to the deity of your choice before jumping. Lots of young people take this step as well (including couples in a relationship their families do not approve of).

Speaking of which, Pilgrimage to Twin Visages is popular, since that's where Qotal appeared after a long absence and had his giant kajiu fight with Zaltec more than a century ago. There is a fence surrounding the cliff (because of the jumpers), but it's hard keeping suiciders away if they are really determined.

Glossolalia: I've come across a few references that "speaking in tongues" occurred among the Aztecs as part of their religious rites. For our purposes, let's say that there is a public square in Ulatos - called the "God-Speakers' Square" where priests of assorted cults (old and new, including arrivals from Faerun) attempt to attract converts. Sometimes they will start speaking in tongues in various eldritch languages (including Primordial, Sylvan, Deep Speech, Abyssal, Celestial...). Some scholars spend a lot of time on this square, and try to record what they are saying. Naturally, if the PCs are nearby they might hear some interesting clues.

Bacchanalia: This seems appropriate for the Dolphin Lord.

Finally, we get Emerald Lama and Path of Inspiration, which fit well together. Let's make this a local cult called the "Jade Counselor" who is really a fiend - perhaps one of the local calpulli has made this entity its patron. An elder Ultroloth might be a good fit for "enigmatic evil entity", especially one that stands in for an avatar of Hastur.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Since we already have plenty of cults and worshiped gods around, I'll skip the "Worshiped Entities" section. In the "Major Races/Species" section, I'll note that there are a few Doppelgänger around, likely running their own minor crime syndicate so that they don't have to work hard. Let's call them the Three Gems Village consisting of six doppelgängers and assorted dupes and hangers-on - the Doppelgänger use their shapeshifting abilities to pretend the Village has more members than it really does. The mostly do confidence scams, but they also have some experts in forgery who might be willing to lend their expertise to others for the right price.

We also get Vampires, which I will interpret as a minor cell of the Court of Night. They are mostly searching for clues where some of their Elders might be hidden, using adventurers like the Turquise Seekers to gather information. They don't necessarily want to wake the Elders up, just learn where they are - after all, they might be rivals. They also attempt to set themselves up as local political power brokers.

In the "Significant Creatures" section, an entry that stands out is Shadow People. I'll interpret that as a colony of Darklings, who might be the remnants of a Jade Knives cell that splintered off some time ago and now works as independent assassins. If the Jade Knives become more organized, they will likely join up again.

There are also crocodiles living in the delta, possibly including a single giant variety. Additionally, we get lycanthropes, which I will interpret as wererats living in the canals (and sewers).

While "Cultural Influences" would normally be inapplicable here, there was one entry that was apparently mislabeled - Sky Towers, a funerary practice where the deceased would be placed on high structures so that carrion birds and other scavengers could consume them. This seems apropriate for followers of the wind deity Ehe, and these towers can be placed on the norther hills close to the Temple of Tezca.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
In the History section, we get:

The Torture Colony: The story of "Colonia Dignidad", a colony of German expatriates in Chile following a very, very evil evangelist named Schaefer (a common German name - which literally means "shepherd"). The crimes committed in this "utopian village" include child molestation, forced labor, weapons trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, torture, and murder - and for added fun, during the Pinochet era this community served as torture and execution center for "enemies of the state". Let's say that our counterpart was a village baned "Cebaul" in the jungles slightly west of Ulatos (downward on the local map), which had a "wholesome" appearance but secretly worshiped a Devil (hence all the regimentation and abuse). They were also allied to the secret police of Ulatos, but the village and its leaders were purged when the current Revered Counselor took over. However, not all of the allies of Cebaul were purged from the secret police, and some cultists might still be hidden in the greater Ulatos area. Many of their victims survive as well, and those who have come of age might desire revenge.

Huge blob of Arctic goo floats past Slope communities: We could turn this into blobs of goo that periodically float down the Ulatos river from sources unknown - somewhere from deep within the jungle. Since these blobs emit a horrible stench and spread disease, the government of Ulatos has a standing reward for anyone who finds the source of these blobs.

An Epidemic of Laughing in the Bukoba District of Tanganyika: This might be a form of "possession" by divine spirits, similar to glossolalia (which we had earlier). I should probably come up with an appropriate spirit or minor divinity causing this.
 
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