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Returned Maztica

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Summary of the second session:

The PCs joined up with the Turquise Seekers in order to do some dungeon delving in Payit ruins. They knew in advance that the ruins were housing a tribe of kobolds, but during some scouting the PCs discovered a cenote (sinkhole) at the site.

The expedition leader told them that the sinkhole might be a good place for finding treasure, since that's where sacrifices were thrown in, and also speculated that this might have a tunnel to the main complex in the central temple. So he gave the PCs two potions of water breathing, and they went in there (the druid had to transform into a bear for this, since he couldn't transform into creatures with a swimming speed yet).

They discovered a trio of crabmen, but managed to get out of the water just in time for the fight. [I used slightly modified Lizardfolk stat for them.] Then they proceeded ahead, narrowly avoiding a kobold trap, and then found a secret door. In it, they and were discovered by four skeletons and two spider swarms (I picked them via their association with the Shadowfell, a "place of owls and spiders") - which were nasty, since none of them had good area effect attacks. This fight took a lot out of them - the monk is barely hanging on (he was reduced to throwing bones at the spiders because he no longer wanted into melee), and the druid isn't in much better shape - they were itching for a short rest, at least.

And then they heard the sound of fighting from above... and at that cliffhanger, I ended the session.

In truth, the NPCs have largely mopped up the kobolds, and the PCs will encounter two kobolds fleeing into their direction before joining up. The expedition leader will then call for a rest and set up camp in one of the upper chambers (sending two of the accompanying warriors outside to guard the porters.

I'm fairly pleased with how the session went - the fights were varied and had a nice atmosphere, and splitting up the overall expedition not only made tactical sense at the time but also allowed me to avoid keeping track of NPC allies during the fights.

Now the characters - three PCs, four NPCs - will settle into the pyramid before exploring further. This should allow for some good role-playing opportunities, and switch the atmosphere to something more suitable for a horror adventure. For a low-level vampire of the Court of Night rests in this temple, and she has now awakened...

I need to put in some care about how to build the final encounter - a CR 5 vampire spawn is a beyond Deadly threat to three level 3 PCs. But having some NPC allies will help there - if the PCs can keep them alive.

I also need to come up with some other interesting stuff to find in the pyramid - tidbits of the ancient history of the land, and so forth. Any suggestions?
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
I just had an idea:

The pyramid could contain a portal to Mictlan (the Shadowfell). It's currently closed, but the vampire could open it again, and then the PCs would have to deal with whatever comes out while the vampire can retreat to fight another day (i.e. when the PCs are at higher levels). And likewise the PCs might wish to retreat when the situation becomes too intense.

Therefore:

- What stuff should I place in the rest of the Pyramid?
- What might emerge from the portal? (Yes, "undead" is a likely one, but what kind of undead?)
 

graeyWolf

Bites and Peaces
Validated User
Last edited:

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
An interesting idea. I think it would also be thematically appropriate to appease the dead with offerings of blood. After all, blood is already considered highly powerful and a worthy sacrifice in Aztec culture.

Incidentally, as I may have pointed out earlier, the absence of the two death gods for a century means that the Shadowfell will be crammed with "unprocessed dead".
 

graeyWolf

Bites and Peaces
Validated User
Good points, and the blood thing reminds me of an adaptation/translation of The Odyssey I once read, where Ulysses/Odysseus feeds a pool of blood from a sacrificed animal to the 'shade' of Hercules/Herakles just for the opportunity to talk to him/be a fanboy.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
I was just reading through the Planescape "Planes of" thread, and there was this bit about the Grey Waste where new arrivals would still retain their "full color" while everything and everyone around them was much paler and greyer - and that this brightness attracted hostile attention from the locals.

I think that a blood sacrifice will help new arrivals shed their "vibrancy" faster so that they don't stand out as much.

And hey, they do have an NPC Ancestor Priest (a warlock with the Undying Patron - secretly one of the Crystal Skulls) in the party who can explain this to them... if they stop to listen.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
The next session has been delayed due to sickness and other real world matters, so this gives me the time to ponder Mictlan a bit more.

Let's say that living characters "shine brightly" in Mictlan until they have suffered injuries there equal to half their total hit points - until then, they suffer Disadvantage on their Dexterity (Stealth) checks. After that, they will still be recognizable as one of the living under closer observation, but they won't stand out as much.
 

Gyor

New member
Banned
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.
Also read the last two Brimstone Angel novels for really cool look at Tymanther's cities, the novels, they are Ashes of the Tyrant and The Devil You Know.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Also read the last two Brimstone Angel novels for really cool look at Tymanther's cities, the novels, they are Ashes of the Tyrant and The Devil You Know.
They are on my reading list... which is unfortunately rather long.


Meanwhile, I am recreating the map of Maztica (plus some surrounding territories) in Inkscape - and what's striking me is that there are many, many mountain ranges with elevations above 10,000' (3,000 meters) - and quite a few with elevations above 15,000' (4,500 meters)! That's a lot higher than Mexico! Now, I could adjust the height map downwards... but I think I will just roll with it.

I will make sure that there are plenty of highland plateaus, though. I mean, real world Tenochtitlan/Mexico City is a bit above 2,000 meters, yet if you look at the region surrounding Nexal it looks like it lies somewhere below 2,000 feet (with elevations rising quickly to one of those 4,500+ meter summits).
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Children of the Long Wave

During the Godless Time, people all along the Gulf of Maztapan began dreaming of the ocean depths, and of a vast wave that would emerge from it and sweep away anything unclean, impure. What precisely was believed to be "impure" depended on the dreamer, but it was usually whatever "kept them down" - the priests, the nobles, the family elders, romantic or business rivals. Many also believed that the Long Wave would embrace them and give them power - to transcend the limitations of their fragile mortal forms. Soon, cults to the Long Wave began to form, and warlocks appeared among them - capable of summoning giant squids and other denizens of the depths. Those who progressed into the deeper mysteries of the cult learned of the source of the Long Wave - Teamauhtia, an ancient kraken that swam through the oceans while humanity was still young.

Teamauhtia came from the depths of Abeir's ocean, but migrated close to Maztican shores when that continent appeared, and traveled to Toril in the wake of Maztica's subsequent return. It desires nothing less than the subjugation of all people living near the ocean's shores. Beyond fostering cults, it also sends minions abroad that attack villages and ships that haven't pledged their loyalty. The most dramatic of these are swarms of squid of all sizes that emerge from the depths every decade or two and menace coastal waters. Its current main focus is the conquest of the sahuagin of Itzcatli, who had previously sworn their loyalty to Terror of Sky and Ocean. While the old priesthood is still holding out, its own cultists are spreading terror among the fish-men population - and soon, he will come to live among them openly.

So far, only few land-dwellers suspect the true scope of the threat. The Kultakan war chiefs know of the sahuagin of old and have contingency plans for threats from the seas, but they underestimate what they are capable of. The Flutists watch the growth of the cult with worries, but they have too many other battles to fight. The Hesjintur Clan of Dragonport knows most of all thanks to their association with the Dolphin Lord - a bitter enemy of all kraken - but they are hindered by both their inclination towards secrecy and the crippling loss of much of their treasure fleet. And while their enemies bicker and focus on other concerns, the Long Wave grows and grows - until it finally crashes.
 
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