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Returned Maztica

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
So... I think I will base my second adventure around the Children of the Long Wave.

Let's say the Hesjintur Dragonborn clan that runs Dragonport has heard rumors of cult activity in a fishing village somewhere along the coast southeast of Ulatos. However, their own agents - who are primarily Dragonborn - would be spotted from miles away. Much better if some hapless outlander treasure seekers "happen to stumble" across the ruins the village is built around and then prods around the town until the cult reveals itself. And as it happens, their own notes of new arrivals list just such outlanders who happened to join the Turquoise Seekers.

So they contact their contacts within the Turquoise Seekers to get the PCs to go after these ruins - the PCs only, since they can play this role most convincingly. They don't tell them their full suspicions, only that they are interested in anything "interesting" or "suspicious" they learn about the village. Their Turquoise Seekers then offer the PCs the job (saying that they won't think any less of them if they don't accept it) and tell them what they have been told other than who their patron is, and tell them to be on their guards. They can keep everything they find from the ruins and get a good bonus for any information they uncover.

So, what happened in the village?

Well, one of the young villagers was captured by the minions of the Kraken and converted into a Deep Scion (those shapeshifting infiltrators from Volo's Guide). He has been making converts among other younger villagers, while the elders are getting increasingly terrified of the cult - especially once people started to vanish, including the previous village priest. Most of these have been converted into Sea Spawn (also from Volo's Guide). The final fight should of course be against the Deep Scion and his Sea Spawn.

This is what I have so far. I could use some further ideas about:

- Factions and NPCs of the village
- Ideas about the coastal ruins that are supposedly the primary goal of the PCs
- Anything else you can come up with to flesh this adventure out.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
An interesting article I stumbled across:

In This Ancient City, Even Commoners Lived in Palaces - an article about Teotihuacán, a pre-Aztec city in the Valley of Mexico that was held by the later Aztecs to be the "City of the Gods" (i.e. the city built by the gods), and which was likely the inspiration for the location in Maztica of the same name.

Within Maztica, this article might also serve as an inspiration for Tucan.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Here is an interesting tidbit about Aztec philosophy that may be relevant:

Western (i.e. European) metaphysics tends to see opposites as exclusive. That is, something is either Fire OR water, light OR dark, male OR female.

Aztec philosophy, on the other hand, sees opposites as complementary - each part contains a seed of the other, and both form a unity greater than the sum of their parts (indeed, the opposites cannot exist independently of each other). Furthermore, each thing can take on the role of different aspects of an inamic unity as long as the opposites are different entities.

When contemplating Maztica, Quotal and Zaltic form such an "inamic" unity (as they are called). They struggle against each other, but they also cannot exist without each other. While the concepts of "Shar" and "Selune" did not exist in Maztica, their eternal struggle would be very familiar to Mazticans...

Also, this provides justification for transgender and genderfluid characters in Maztica (although I haven't read texts about Aztec gender roles) - only asexual characters wouldn't fit in.
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Let's see if we can add some details to our fishing/salt gathering village (let's call it "Gucup Cakix"). I don't have the time for using the entire Random Nations generator, so I will use the "three random gaming PDFs" trick instead. I get:

- "Sixteen Sorrows" (for Godbound)
- "Waves of Blood" (for 7th Sea)
- "Criminal Histories" (for Paranoia)

All very promising...

"Sixteen Sorrows" is, of course, a tool for coming up with random problems for a campaign, so let's see what we get (starting with choosing randomly between the Sorrows):

"Oppressive Lord": Interestingly, this might imply that the Kraken Cult gathers supporters by promising liberation from the actual ruler of the town. Further details include:

Antagonists (7): "Sadistic lord who simply delights in causing pain"

Friends (8): "Vengeful spirit of someone they unjustly slew"

Places (5): "Market plagued with bullying minions of the lord

Complications (3): "The lord has to keep this up or they'll lose vital support

Things (8): "The wealth the lord uses to pay his henchmen"

Why haven't they been deposed? (1): "A strong local group is firmly behind the lord's policies"

Adventure Seeds (10): "The Antagonist is actually even worse than they seem, their outward vices a mask for some deeper, more terrible purpose. More than one Complication has started to form because of their secret purposes, and they're perfectly willing to destroy their own land in order to obtain their real end. A Friend has ascaped their machinations with a clue as to the Antagonist's real purposes, but a Thing is needed to unravel the real situation.

This gives us another

Complication (4): "Hiding-place for women and children in the wilds"

Friend (3): "Noble relative who'd be the next in line to rule here"

Things (5): "Magical artifact that does a thing the lord direly needs"


Okay, here is what I have so far: The ruler/Opressive Lord is a female Dragonborn named Ushita. During the Godless Age she was in charge of the town because of its valuable salt-gathering, but she has managed to stay in charge even after Ancient Scales of Wisdown was overthrown, intimidating the townsfolk with her thugs. Many of the fishers have joined the Children of the Long Wave in hopes of liberating the town. However, Ushita is secretly a Deep Scion herself, and one of the reason for the oppression is to get the cult to convert as many inhabitants into sea spawn as possible. Her followers suspect none of this - except for her younger sister, who once saw glimpses of her transformation and is now in hiding.

The Place is obviously the salt market. The first Thing derives from this market, because the salt trade is very valuable. The "strong local group" are the resident dragonborn, who feel that their position is threatened if they slacken in their oppression. But I am still unclear on the following:

"Vengeful spirit of someone they unjustly slew"

"Hiding-place for women and children in the wilds"

"Magical artifact that does a thing the lord direly needs"

And I also need to tie this in with the local ruins which the PCs are - in theory - supposed to investigate.

Any suggestions?
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
Another random thought:

Every good D&D(esque) setting needs to have a bunch of prior civilizations that left dungeons behind to plunder. A great example of this is the Elder Scrolls setting, which has a bunch of really evocative dungeon "themes" - dwemer strongholds, daedric shrines, nordic ruins, ayleid cities... the list goes on. And the mainland Forgotten Realms certainly has no shortage of "lost civilizations", starting with Netheril and Cormanthor, and going on from there.

But Maztica has a significant shortage of those. Yes, there are the lost cities and temples of the fallen Payit civilizations, but that's about it.

So we ought to come up with a few new ones that nevertheless fit into the setting.

The best starting point is probably the legends about the Immortal Era from the Maztica Boxed Set, and the gods prior attempts at creating human - it's probably not too much of a stretch that these represent garbled stories about prior inhabitants of Maztica. (Again, the Boxed Set itself points out that these stories are not to be taken literally - and given what we know about the rise of humanity on Toril as a whole, these stories cannot possibly be all accurate anyway.)

"First, the gods made humans by scooping the thick mud of the riverbottom, and then forming clay into the images of men. But they placed these images back into the water, and the river washed their features away. The men of clay struggled and writhed on the world, but they could not stand. Finally, the men of clay disappeared in the water."

This sounds a lot like Mudmen - but these are unintelligent. Perhaps they used to be intelligent, but gradually lost their intelligence? This would fit the phrase "washed their features away". What would a Mudman civilization look like? Presumably, they could only propagate via magic - but perhaps the magic gradually went away...

An alternative explanation would be doppelgangers, who also have no firm shapes.

"Next, the gods took the limbs of stout trees, and hacked the wooden features into the shapes of men. They placed the men of wood into the water, and they floated. When they came forth from the stream, their features remained intact. The gods were pleased, for the men of wood seemed superior to their early cousins.

Then the lightning of a towering storm struck the world. Violent crashes and explosions shook the body of Maztica, and crackling explosions of the storm's rage echoed across the land. The men of wood caught fire, burning away before the eyes of the gods."


This sounds like some kind of plant creatures. Any suggestions?

"So the gods made a man of gold, and he was very beautiful. The gods gathered around to look at him, and they were very pleased. They waited for the man to praise the gods who had made him. But they waited long, and the man made no move, no sound. The man of gold failed, for he had no heart and no breath. He could not live."

Since this story only mentions a singular "man of gold", it can't really stand for an entire species. Still, perhaps it is some sort of construct from a prior civilization - a gold golem, perhaps - that has withstood the ravages of time.

Your thoughts? And what other civilizations might have left ruins behind?
 

mirober

Registered User
Validated User
The best starting point is probably the legends about the Immortal Era from the Maztica Boxed Set, and the gods prior attempts at creating human - it's probably not too much of a stretch that these represent garbled stories about prior inhabitants of Maztica. (

"First, the gods made humans by scooping the thick mud of the riverbottom, and then forming clay into the images of men. But they placed these images back into the water, and the river washed their features away. The men of clay struggled and writhed on the world, but they could not stand. Finally, the men of clay disappeared in the water."

This sounds a lot like Mudmen - but these are unintelligent. Perhaps they used to be intelligent, but gradually lost their intelligence? This would fit the phrase "washed their features away". What would a Mudman civilization look like? Presumably, they could only propagate via magic - but perhaps the magic gradually went away...

An alternative explanation would be doppelgangers, who also have no firm shapes.
Maybe an ancient civilization of what are now bullywugs, with a shapehifting Druidic tradition (that eventually became the first doppelgängers). Could play up the tadpole to adult metamorphosis aspect, as a natural inclination for this type of magic. Add in some sort of Shoggoth/Akira disaster, which led to them abandoning all of their previous centers of civilization and retreat back to “the water” (swamps and the like).
 

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
So what would the aesthetics of batrachian sites be?

The Wikipedia entry for frogs says that they see things better at a distance, and that while it is unknown whether they perceive colors they react positively to blue light. Furthermore, considering their eyes they probably prefer inscriptions that cover a larger angle than humans.

So I am envisioning pictograms made out of enchanted blue light in large chambers or at the end of corridors.
 

mirober

Registered User
Validated User
So what would the aesthetics of batrachian sites be?

The Wikipedia entry for frogs says that they see things better at a distance, and that while it is unknown whether they perceive colors they react positively to blue light. Furthermore, considering their eyes they probably prefer inscriptions that cover a larger angle than humans.

So I am envisioning pictograms made out of enchanted blue light in large chambers or at the end of corridors.
I’d also focus on the clay aspect; lots of terra-cotta, pottery, and adobe. Take inspiration from the aesthetics of Jomon figurines, and the featureless Doni goddesses. Complex irrigation systems, water funneled and central to their architecture. Maybe their ruins are most often found hidden behind huge waterfalls, recessed complexes like the Ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings.

For the wood people, what about some variation of Ent, going back to the inspiration for the word? Giants, with ancient colossal structures. Or ... what about Shadow of the Colossus like creatures? Massive plant creatures that have “skin” of stone and dirt surrounding the animating plant creature within; their ruins are actually just the corpses of these colossi, the strange twisting tunnels once having been occupied by the plant internal organs and nervous system.
 
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The Wyzard

An overwhelming surplus of diggity
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Moderator Text:

After some discussion we have decided to treat spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War the way we treat Star Wars spoilers.

This is not a new policy for Marvel films, rather this specific film feels like an event a long time in the coming, to the point the people involved have been pleading with fandom to not spoil it. We rather agree with them. It is possible the same policy will be in place for Avengers 4, but no, we don’t plan to have it for the other films.

So the simple version:

If you spoil the new Avengers film we are going to ban you.
Not a brief suspension, you will be going bye-bye for some time.
This will be conducted under the same rules as The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, where a staff member will start the official movie spoiler thread and there will be no spoilers in any other thread including long term rumor threads.


Also this:

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