Aztatlan is a realm located far to the south, it’s northern border where the deserts end and the jungles begin, and continuing south all the way to where the land narrows, from shore to shore. The area is a complex political scene, with dozens of small nation-states and a few larger empires, each laying claim to various stretches of land and almost constantly at war with one-another. The triple alliance is the largest of these empires, controlling a large empire in the north of the region, including a long, narrow strip that follows the shoreline and the river the Spaniards call the Rio Grande. Jungles and mountains make for a harsh land, but one that provides great rewards to those who can tame it. Huge, terraced pyramids thrust out of the forest, artificial mountains that allow powerful priests to be closer to the gods as they make grisly sacrifices and plead for favor.
The triple alliance is mostly an alliance in name only, the group being dominated by the largest and strongest of the three cities that make it up, Tenochtitlan, ruled by the Mexica people. Politically, the city is a monarchy with a rigid caste system, nobles and priests above and commoners and soldiers below. There are a few ways to move up from commoner to noble, mostly through the military. A soldier that captures a certain number of soldiers for sacrifice rises up to become a noble. The priests have great political power in this empire, being the ones who feed the gods with blood to keep the sun from going out. Some of the most powerful and sanctified priests may undergo a ritual to be converted into deathless spiritual leaders, known as Amicqui.
Beyond the triple alliance, the largest empire is Mayatolli, the land of the Maya. Not really a unified empire, Mayatolli is the combined area controlled by dozens of independent Mayan city-states that are just as likely to war on each other as they are to band together against an exterior threat. There are other smaller empires, including the Tzintzuntzan, the Mixtec, the Zapotek, Totonacapan, Huastecapan, and many other smaller tribes through the narrowest regions. Spain controls a sizable stretch around the area known as Panama, using it as a place to portage their ships to the pacific to trade up the west coast into Fusang, an area known as Castilla del Oro.
Playing in Aztatlan
Human characters most commonly belong to one of three cultures. Native (Mexica) characters are members of the triple alliance, the principal power in aztatlan. Native (Maya) characters hail from one of the dozens of Mayan city-states throughout Mayatolli, each fiercely independent. Native (Mesoamerica) characters belong to one of the many empires and smaller tribes that can be found all through aztatlan. It’s also easy enough to find European (Frontier) characters that hail from the region, spaniards that live in Castilla del Oro or one of the smaller spanish settlements along the coast.
Adventurers in aztatlan come in many varieties. Gunslingers are rapidly becoming the main warriors of most empires, replacing the Brutes from the previous generations, though many still remain. Priests are very powerful in Aztatlan, both politically and mystically, and they can be found in numbers in almost any city in the region. Wizards are also more common than many other native areas, as the universal education of the triple alliance and the existence of a written language allow youngsters with arcane talent to be discovered and properly trained.
Aztatlan has, by this point, mostly mastered the technologies of firearms, cannons, and metalworking, thanks to captured spaniards and a great deal of experimentation. Some empires are still forced to trade for them, often at high rates, from the europeans or the fusangren, but the triple alliance is manufacturing its own and arming its soldiers en masse, making them one of the most dangerous military forces in the region.
(Must be converted)
- Aztec priests receive an incomprehensible directive from Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun, commanding them to build him a temple “in the land where my eye never closes”. But such a place surely cannot exist in this world. Can it?
- The party comes across an Aztec youth freezing to death in the Heaven-Touching Mountains, armed with only an atlatl and a bundle of spears. After taking him in and letting him warm up a bit, the boy explains what he’s doing so far from home. His father, the master of Tenochtitlan’s feather-workers guild, has been publicly disgraced. The boy heard his father saying drunkenly over a mug of pulque that the scandal has so ruined his reputation that only the creation of an unparalleled masterpiece of feather-working could save his business now: a robe made from the feathers of the fabled Thunderbird. Does the party agree to help the boy in his mad and dangerous quest, or do they counsel him to return to his father, who may not have been speaking literally, and is no doubt half-mad with worry for his missing son?
- The High Priest of Quetzalcoatl has commissioned the greatest feather-robe in history, containing at least one feather from every species of bird which lives within the territory of Atzatlan. However, no hunter has been able to obtain a feather from one particular species: a small brown bird, mostly earthbound but a very fast runner, commonly known as “the road-running bird”.
- Your party’s berserker discovers xocolātl; chaos and mayhem ensue.
- A human village has recently been ravaged by a band of were-jaguars, but in their fear and haste to defend themselves they mistakenly retaliate against a nearby band of Tabaxi, inviting full-scale war.
- Seven-Crocodile, High Priest of Huitzilopochtli
- Three-Knife, captain of the Jaguar Knights
- Seven-Grass, captain of the Eagle Knights
- Eleven-Jaguar, prince of the Maya kingdom of B’alam
- Six-Deer Aznar y López, half-Spanish sorceress