REALMSLORE: The Maztican Pantheon & Religion

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REALMSLORE: The Maztican Pantheon & Religion

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:18 am

Maztica is a land of varying cultures, with unique treasures and magics. It is strangely vulnerable to the powers of Faerûn, yet it is resilient as well. It bends without breaking to the pressures exerted upon it, and in so doing it combines the strongest features of its native cultures with the strongest aspects of the invaders.

No more is this exemplified than in the religion of the Maztica - ancient forces who wear many faces among the varying peoples and who have survived contact with Faerûnian nations of Amn, Waterdeep, Baldur's Gate, Lantan, and their gods.

On Arelith - the first time any of this has been properly done outside of a 2e kit we want to try and keep things closer to how the setting itself operates. The cultures of Maztica are just as strong and capable as any other places in the realms - but their gods never had prepared them directly for interaction with people who fought battles like the Faerûnians did.

As we are now a few centuries after the contact and conquest of Payit (which is now New Amn) - we can consider that some ideas have traveled between Maztica and Faerun. Cordell who originated as a man seeking glory and riches, when made Governor of New Amn, began gentle resistance against his more malign Amnian handlers.

He played his role in the Prophecy of Maztica, he grew to understand that the people were not savage, that their gods were not all so strange or cruel - the ones who were - were the ones he defeated alongside the free people of Maztica. New Amn with the cities of Ulatos and Helmsport were the vehicle of goods, ideas, and the like to travel among the various cities, kingdoms, and tribes still independent.

The priesthoods of Maztica were not like those in Faerûn. The magics their gods granted them worked well in a world where they had not been found by strangers - but may have even been worked along these lines as the will of Zaltec to keep them docile and pliable to continue his bloody games of sacrifice.

The return of Qotal is tied to the arrival of the Faerûnian strangers who played a role in the diminishment of Zaltec. In this many saw the strength of Faerunian clerics and also witnessed their brutality in later expeditions. There is no doubt that the peoples, priesthoods, and even the gods of Maztica have seen what must be done to ensure Maztica stays outside of the total control, or at least in friendship with these outsiders.

Most priesthoods before the time of Cordell were akin to the SHAMAN, dabblers in mixed rites of the arcane and the divine. Pluma and Hishna magic supplemented their protective and offensive abilities respectively. As time has gone on small numbers of CLERICS have likely organized in the cities of Maztica, and among the eagle warriors of Qotal there are tales of power similar to the PALADIN and black rites done by Bloody Zaltec's Jaguar Knights that are akin to BLACKGUARDS. The priests of Maztica herself have perhaps made tentative contact with the rare Faerunian druid and so have learned more of their rites.

Necromancers were once unknown, but the evil of Zaltec's priesthood has probably adopted this and where only the gods once cursed men to live as Husks they might make them themselves. Divine beings such at the coautl and fiends are for the first time arriving in the name of the gods of Maztica. Some have turned away from the old gods entirely for the strangers had their own equal, if not stronger, Gods. New and Old clash in this land.

Lastly the religion and systems of Maztica are for now restricted to humanity. The demi humans of Maztica are a minority - the Smallfolk (halflings) and Desert Dwarves need to be looked over to ensure they are not unique subraces. However with the existence of orcs in Maztica since the Night of Wailing this means half-orcs may now also exist but would likely be pariahfolk just as anywhere else in the Realms (caught between worlds, Dark Gods and Good Gods). Maztican ogres could likely be played though would need to take gift of divinity for priest-like entities. Maztican Yuan-ti have very little written about their religions but given Zaltec is all about snakes...

Below are some loreblurbs paraphrased or quoted from the FORGOTTEN REALMS: MAZTICA CAMPAIGN SET. Keep in mind this is meant to be a brief (haha) to help people know about Maztican religious lore. One can also look to the Maztica Trilogy tie in novels by Douglas Niles - Ironhelm, Viperhand, Feathered Dragon.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:19 am

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THE PANTHEON

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:22 am

Gods play an important role in the lives of Mazticans - indeed, they are a matter of life and death to many, if not most, of the peoples of the True World. Not only is this reflected in the sacrifices so commonly expected by some of these powers, but also in the way that they affect the climate, food supply, and environment of the entire continent at least, as viewed and explained by their followers.

The Maztican pantheon had eleven members:

Kukul: the father of the other gods, he was god of the stars and the husband of Maztica. [Can't be mechanically worshiped.]

Maztica: the goddess of the earth and life; she was the mother of the gods and was the wife of Kukul. (NN,NG,NE,CN,LN / Nature + H&H - allows druids)

Qotal: the god of creation, freedom, and pluma magic. (LG,NG,CG,LN / Magic + H&H, allows paladins)

Zaltec: the god of war, violence, and hishna magic. (CE,NE,CN / Magic + W&D)

Azul: the god of water and rain, and the twin brother of Tezca. He was sometimes called Calor by the Nexalans. (LE,NE,LN / Nature + H&H)

Tezca: the god of fire, heat, and the sun; the twin brother of Azul. (CE,NE,CN / Nature + W&D)

Plutoq: the god of stone, clay, and mountains. (LN,LG,LE / Nature + K&I)

Kiltzi: the goddess of love, fertility, and healing. (CG,NG,CN / Magic + H&H)

Watil: the goddess of plants and agriculture. (NG,LG,CG,NN / Nature + H&H, allows paladins)

Nula: the goddess of animals. (CN,CG,CE / Nature + H&H, allows druids)

Eha: the goddess of wind and air. (CN,CG,CE / Nature + T&D)
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CREATION & MYTH

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:24 am

(((The following abstract can be interpreted by native lorekeepers and maybe overly interested outsiders. Something that many Maztican peoples, though each culture has its own variations, would see as truth and not legend. All of this occurred in ancient history with the part about Tecco a century before the arrival of The Golden Legion in 1361 DR.)))

In Maztican lore, the god Kukul and his goddess-wife Maztica came before the other deities, and humans, existed. This ended when Maztica gave birth to Qotal, the eldest son of Kukul. She gave birth next to Zaltec, then to the twins Azul and Tezca, and then to Plutoq. But Maztica and Kukul wanted daughters as well as sons, so she then had Kiltzi, then Watil, and lastly Nula. This was the origin of most of the major deities of the Mazticans.

The Mazticans believed that the gods created humans as toys, and that they tried several times to create humans before finally succeeding. First, the gods made people out of clay (which promptly fell apart when wet), then wood (which burned to ash), and then gold (which had neither heart nor breath and didn't live). At last, Kukul cut off some of his fingers, which fell to the ground and became humans. The other gods quickly gave humans different gifts. Qotal gave them speech and a desire to learn, Zaltec honor and courage, Kiltzi love, and so on.

As the humans spread across the land, they worshiped the goddess Maztica most of all, and Qotal grew jealous of the honor accorded her. So he then gave the humans mayz (corn), which allowed them to thrive, and they honored him greatly. And then Zaltec grew greatly jealous of Qotal, so he crafted and gave the humans hishna magic. With hishna magic, the humans began to wage awful, savage wars.

Qotal was saddened by the suffering of the humans, but he could not make something to match hishna. But his mother, Maztica, was saddened as well, so together she and Qotal crafted pluma magic to give to humans. The gift of pluma calmed the people, and the savage wars faded away. Zaltec, of course, was furious. So furious that he rose up and struck down his own mother. Qotal was furious at that, and war erupted among the gods. Kukul fell into great despair at his wife's fall, and he soon vanished and was heard from no more. But the other gods stood with Zaltec, and the goddesses with Qotal. Eventually Qotal and Zaltec fought a great battle in which Zaltec was defeated and then banished.

As the humans lived and flourished, Qotal saw them having fun and grew jealous again. He decided that he wanted a lover, too. So he pursued his sister, Kiltzi, and made love with her. When he was done, he fell asleep for ten years. Kiltzi, however, fled Qotal for the protection of Zaltec. When Nula and Watil heard of what had happened, they did too. And without the gods, humans suffered greatly. Then Zaltec sent his priests among them, to convince them to offer sacrifices, of people, to the gods. Zaltec and his brothers grew strong, and Zaltec returned from his exile. When Qotal woke up, and saw what had happened to the humans and what he had done, he was ashamed of himself. Moreover, he lacked the power to challenge Zaltec again, and then left the land entirely. Before he left, though, he gave to his priests a prophecy of his return.
The couatl will come to let them know the way,
My feathered snake of wisdom and might;
My chosen daughter shall greet me on the shore,
Know her; she wears the Cloak of One Plume;
And the Ice of Summer, frozen under heat and fire,
Will prepare the path to my door.
Centuries later, a shaman named Tecco of a tribe of the Dog People had a vision one night. The next day, he journeyed into the desert, and wandered a full year before he found a massive cavern that was obviously constructed, rather than natural. In this cavern he found a pillar of stone, which became an image of the god Zaltec right in front of him. It spoke to him a prophecy, and then the image faded back into a crude stone statue.

Image
Faithful children of the god, go!
This place must be left in the halls of your past,
For a future ordained by Zaltec awaits.
Take your children by the hand, priest!
Lead them south toward the valley of your future,
Where mighty destiny awaits.
Now my children claim the world, all!
From their island in the sun they send their armies,
To gain the final glory for their god.
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RECENT HISTORY & LIVING LEGENDS

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:24 am

(((Naltecona was the ruling Nexalan Empire, the Hegemon of the many kingdoms in the region of Maztica. Most of these details have been sterilized of meta-knowledge - consider the scant details a basis to look back at history without all details or create legends from the gaps.)))

Maztican's civilizations effectively lived under the domination of Zaltec's influences - most cities practised humanoid sacrifices in his as well as his brother's Azul and Tezca's name. Evil ruled for Qotal had left and few balanced against their mortal servants except in Payit where the remaining priests and temples to Qotal were.

In the year 1351 DR, when Naltecona was the ruler of Nexal, a very bright light appeared in the sky over the city. It stayed there, motionless, appearing every day for twenty days before failing to reappear. The same year, after a campaign against the Kultakans, the temple to Zaltec in Nexal burst into flames, leaving nothing, despite having no apparent source. A year after the first omen, the sky above Nexal turned blood-red for an entire day. The next year, a volcano nearby erupted for twelve days. And the year after that, a hunter saw a stag, greater than any he'd ever seen, with a ring of bright feathers around its neck. It stayed perfectly still, and all the hunter's arrows broke before hitting it. It then told the hunter to tell all he had seen to Naltecona. A year later, Naltecona had a dream wherein he saw a canoe approaching the shore from the east, and felt compelled to kneel. The omens continued, one each year. A massive sandstorm raged in the desert in the form of a gargantuan pyramid. The snow on Mount Zatal turned blood-red for ten days. One of Naltecona's sons was born dead, but was pale white in color. Three of four lakes in the valley erupted into waves (Lake Qotal was the fourth).

Then, in 1361 DR, the same day Cordell and his Golden Legion landed on the shores of Payit, an unusual wyvern appeared to Naltecona. It had a mirror-like chest, and in the mirror Naltecona saw the foreigners landing on the eastern shore.

When the Payit at the demands of the priests of Zaltec attacked the Golden Legion destiny came calling. A daughter of the Bishop of Helm with the expedition, Domincus, was captured and sacrificed by a priest of Zaltec. Calling for justice, or what others would call vengeance, the Bishop demanded Cordell punish the natives for this treachery - not wishing mutiny and to give his men direction in this strange land he attacked the city of Ulatos, defeated its warriors, and conquered it for Amn. Cordell banned the practice of human sacrifice and branded the most troublesome Jaguar Knights on the cheek with the eye of Helm. (Some natives would claim that the presence of a couatl was responsible for this and the sign of the return of Qotal.)

When the natives of Ulatos hinted that there might be more treasure and glory in neighbouring Kultaka he took his men and some of his new Payit allies to test the kingdom which had never been conquered by Nexala. Its ruler had heard of what had happened in Ulatos and so decided to fight on his terms - but still lost. When Cordell saw that the kingdom had no treasure worth taking - he had offered them a chance to fight their ancient enemy Nexal.

Cordell left Kultaka with his Legion, Payit allies and 20,000 Kultakan warriors. The most direct route to Nexala led through the village of Palul. The Nexalan ruler, Naltecona, decided that the only way to defeat the Golden Legion was through trickery so he decided to ambush the Legion during a feast in their honor in Palul.

The entire Nexalan army marched to Palul before Cordell arrived and hid in houses and the surrounding forest. Several Nexalan generals who had been sent by Naltecona met Cordell in Palul and informed him of the feast. The Kultakans were not allowed to entire the town on the pretense that they were the ancient enemies of Nexala and that their presence would lead to conflict.

This ruse was discovered by the agents of Cordell and this ambushing force was defeated.

Cordell quickly marched his Legion and native allies to Nexal where they were greated as honored guests by Naltecona. Cordell took Naltecona hostage inside his own palace and demanded all the gold in Nexal. One of the members of the expedition stumbled upon the hidden treasure room of Naltecona's predecessor and Cordell began to make plans to move the gold out of Nexal.

However cult-warriors known as the Viperhands in service to a cabal of entities known as the Ancient Ones began to fill the square. Cordell's lover struck down Naltecona to cause chaos and revealed she had been an agent of the Ancient Ones.

The thousands of Viperhands attacked Cordell's native allies in the square and the battle raged through the night. The hundreds of Legionnaires trapped in the palace were finally able to break out of the central plaza and ran for the causeway leading out of the city. While they were fighting their way out of Nexal the Bishop Nexal was taken captive and sacrificed - which was said to have caused battle in the heavens the forces of Helm and Zaltec and the Mt. Zatal erupted.

The city was destroyed and Nexalan warriors were said then to have inexplicably shifted skins, taking forms of ogres, trolls, and orcs - beasts never before seen in Maztica until then. The Ancient Ones were revealed to have been long lived, ebon skinned Drow - and curiously in this conflagration were turned into Driders. This has come to be called by natives and scholars alike as the Night of Wailing - for the people gnashed their teeth and the mountains roared.

Finally after the great battle, Qotal appeared over the city, in the form of the Feathered Dragon, and Lake Qotal froze over, letting refugees escape the city. And when they reached the desert, it bloomed around them - there the refugees founded a city which would later be called Tukan.

But this was not the end - for the now bestial warriors were whipped into frenzy by bloody Zaltec - and it was said then that god took to the world and lead armies to the lands of Payit and New Amn. Cordell and his men when they returned to Helmsport and Ulatos were not given reprieve, but betrayed and imprisoned by their fellow in a man called Vaez who wished to know the location of treasure. But Cordell's own allies came to his rescue and together the forces of New Amn and the Men of Maztica did battle with Zaltec and banished him back to the godly realms (with most natives claiming the aid of Qotal).

Qotal and Zaltec both rule from their places in the heavens, and the scheme and rage against each other. But the cult of sacrifice has, for the most part, been shown for the brutal and senseless ritual it was.

The army of beasts fell back upon the ruins of Nexal, to glower and growl among their ruins, uncaring of the vast treasures that lie buried beneath them. Helmsport linked with Ulatos, under the governorship of Cordell himself, to become a thriving port city linking Maztica and the Sword Coast.

Normalcy returned to the Peoples of Maztica and while some shades of evil linger, and cults still remember the dark ways of the old gods, the future of Maztica is for now one of life, not death.
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MAZTICAN AFTERLIFE & THE REALMS OF THEIR GODS

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:28 am

When a Maztican dies, his or her tonalli, or soul, is released to begin its journey to the temenos, or sacred places. The average Maztican thinks of these places as filled with beings heroic and nightmarish, the latter known as zizimime, or the monsters of twilight. These beings watch over the souls that reside there. Mazticans picture the Outer Planes as a great pyramid.
Image
Most scholars and sages agree that the pyramid holds 13 tenemos, though others claim there are only nine. When a Maztican soul leaves the Prime Material plane, it eventually arrives at the top of the Great Pyramid. Here, in a large building, and tonalli is directed to go in one direction depending on the kind of life that person led. Generally speaking, west leads to goodness, north to lawfulness, south to chaos, and east to evil.

The building, which represents the tenemo called Maztlan, either takes up the whole top of the pyramid, or sits in the center of a large, flat surface. If the soul is to go elsewhere, it is forced to go in one of the four directions. The first step out of the building takes the soul into another tenemo, Xilen, Itzli, Mayel, or Mictlan. Some souls reside in one of these, the Platform Worlds.

Others are directed to go down the pyramid's stairs to one of the other tenemos, which are collectively named the Worlds on the Sides. From those, rare souls are directed to go to one of the four tenemos on the corners of the Great Pyramid.

Again, scholars disagree on the existence of these four, sometimes called the Shadow Worlds. Scholars who believe in only nine tenemos cite Maztlan and the Worlds on the Faces. Those who believe in 13 cite Maztlan, the Worlds on the Sides, and either the Platform Worlds or the Shadow Worlds. Strangely, no Maztican scholars claim that there are 17 tenemos. There are, however, and they are detailed here.

If a soul is directed to stay in Maztlan, the place becomes an island set in the middle of a large lake. On the islands are seven caves, from which all races of mankind (including demihumans) are said to have emerged. The spirit of the goddess Maztica is said to live on the island, where life is pleasant and natural wonders abound. Maztlan is the Maztican term for the plane of Concordant Opposition.

Itzli is the Maztican name for Nirvana. Plutoq is said to reside in a fantastic stone city on one of the great cogs that make up the place.

Tlalocan, the Water Land, is the top layer of Arcadia. Mazticans who were killed by water are sent here, a land of gentle rains and friendly animals. Many consider this a paradise. Legend states that Azul created this area to please his wife.

Tlazcautli, Home of Eagles, coincides with the sixth of the Seven Heavens, Jovar. Qotal sometimes resides in the unending pyramid (sometimes mistakenly called a ziggurat) on this plane. Maztican souls stay near the pyramid, and are often visited by archons in the form of eagles.

Catlampa is the Maztican name for Dothion in the Twin Paradises. Women who die in child-birth are honored with a special place in this pastoral paradise.

Xilen coincides with the fourth layer of Elysium, Thalasia. Watil, goddess of plants, claims an island here. Fields of mayz cover most of the island, which has an abundance of plant life. Sometimes called the Heaven of Milk Trees, is has a special orchard of trees that bear fruit filled with milk. The souls of those who dies in infancy reside here.

Xitonco, the Meadow, is in Brux, the second layer of the Happy Hunting Grounds. Maztican souls rest here and find abundant game whenever they hunt.

Teotecan, Land of the Gods, designates the topmost layer of Olympus. Klitzi, goddess of health, nourishment, and love, manages a realm in a valley on this plain. She gets along with neighboring gods, causing little friction.

Tochitl is a small realm on the plane of Asgard, the topmost layer of Gladsheim. The Maztican goddess of animals, Nula, spends some of her time here, and her realm is populated with beasts of all types.

Mayel is the plane of Limbo, and is named for a human consort that Eha the Wind Sprite once took. She spends much of her time here, and Maztican souls or travelers may find refuge in the calm area around her.

Xipetlan, the Flayed Land, aptly describes Pandesmos, the top layer of Pandemonium. During the daylight hours, Tezca sees to his duties, but he spends his nights here. Legend states that he must do penance in the dark lands for transgressions, which is why there is a day/night cycle.

Teotli Itic designates nine layers of the Abyss. Called the nine hells by some Mazticans, these planes have a variety of configurations. The most degenerate of Maztican souls end up here, and legend states that both Zaltec and Tezca spend time here.

Zompantli, the Place of Skulls, designates Cathrys, the second layer of Tarterus. Many souls here are represented only by skulls. Zaltec often resides here.

Mictlan, or the Land of the Dead, coincides with Niflheim, the second layer of Hades. The Maztican section of the plane is especially cold and boring, and is populated by many owls and spiders.

Exbal Ken is Chamada, the second layer of Gehenna. It is named for the anti-hero who introduced human sacrifice to Maztica.

Xibalba is part of Malagard on Maladomini, the seventh of the Nine Hells. This section of the huge city/palace is filled with a constantly changing array of typical Maztican buildings. The one constant is a great Ball Court, where the Maztican deities come to play the Ball Game.

Image

Tlatocalli, House of the Warriors, is one of the huge blocks on Avalas, the top layer of Acheron. The souls of many Maztican warriors eventually arrive here, and continue to practice the art of war.
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MAZTICANS AND THE RELIGION OF THEIR HOME REGIONS

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:30 am

The overall groups of humans who have settled Maztica fall into four basic types: the Payit peoples, of the eastern peninsula; the Mazticans themselves, as typified by the Nexala; the Green Folk of the low jungles; and the North Ones, often referred to as the Dog People.

REGIONS

Far Payit (Payit People):

Among all of the peoples of Maztica, the Itzas (a Payit people) were the ones whose faith in Qotal endured most prominently. Now that he has returned they embrace him. His priests have grown more numerous, and many temples offer young men and women the chance to study his faith.

Although the early years of the Itzas included beliefs which entailed an annual sacrifice to Kukul of a youth or maiden specifically selected and honored for the role, even this practice vanished more than a century ago. Now the Itzas tolerate no sacrifice of humans in any of their centers or villages.


Payit (Payit People):

Most of the old gods have Maztica have been spurned by the Payit, since they proved so ineffective at aiding them against the conquerors. Many Payit now recognize Helm as the most powerful god, since it was his army that so dramatically defeated their own. However, the worship of Helm is a confusing matter to most of the native peoples, and many traces of their old practices have crept into their following of the new god.

The Maztican god with the greatest following here is Qotal. Since his return, coming as it did into the land of the Payit, the Feathered Dragon has been reinstated to his former prominence.

Also, his worship is not condemned by the governor, since it does not involve human sacrifice.

The Payits and their conquerors are united in one strong belief: the cults of sacrifice are banned from Payit, and dare not intrude their gory practices into the society.


Pezelac (Maztican People):

The Maztican pantheon is avidly worshipped throughout Pezelac. As it has not yet been wracked by war or cataclysm, it has not abandoned the old ways consequently, several human sacrifices occur in this nation every day.

In the city, the temple of Tezca is the scene of such a rite each dawn, as the sun is cajoled back into the sky.

Priests of all the gods are common here, and each priesthood is represented by a temple in the main city. The smaller towns have two to five temples, with shrines dedicated to the remaining deities.

The priests of Qotal are increasingly common, traveling about the land and preaching their doctrine of no sacrifice.


Kultaka (Maztican People, Faerûnians):

Kultaka is in the unique position of a nation whose primary deity is Zaltec, the typically bloodthirsty god of war yet whose priests have been forbidden to perform sacrifices.

This edict came from Cordell, who rationalized to Tokol that the self-bloodletting practice had weakened the Kultakan nation, allowed its defeat at the hands of the Golden Legion.

Thus, the priests continue the rites of Zaltec with animal sacrifices, and the warrior nation continues to worship the god of war.

In 1365 DR, the Waterdhavian branch of the Church of Helm, along with the Adarbrent, Helmfast. Jardeth and Raventree noble families, sponsored a transoceanic expedition of twelve ships across the Trackless Sea to the land of Maztica.

While they were turned away at Helmsport by the Lord-Governor of New Amn - Cordell, the colonists settled on Maztapan Island, and opened lines of trade and negotiation with the native Kultakan people.

Within months they formed the colony of New Waterdeep, and after forging further north, the second settlement of Trythosford. At some point, the Helmite knights known as Companions of the One True Vision slaughtered many native Maztican people and converted who remained by the sword.


Valley of Nexal (Orcs, Trolls, Ogres):

The monsters all worship Zaltec with fanatical fervor. Humans are sought and captured, so that every night on the remains of the Great Temple several can be sacrificed to the god of war. The leaders perform these sacrifices themselves, with great howling and drooling and other distasteful displays.


Huacli (Maztican People):

The Huacli worship the full pantheon of Maztican gods, with no preference toward one to the exclusion of the others. They still practice sacrifice to those gods who have traditionally demanded human lives, with at least one performed every day in each of the major cities.


Kolan (Green People, Maztican People):

Like the Huacli, the Kolans worship the full pantheon of gods, and still practice human sacrifice.


Tukan, the New City (Maztican People, some Faerûnians):

The people of Tukan do not worship the gods who indulge sacrifice and venerate Qotal most of all as he gave them this land after the destruction of Nexal. The foreigners keep to their own faith in Helm and other gods.


Northern Wilds (Dog People):

The whole of the pantheon is venerated but the gods held in highest regard among them are Maztica, the earth goddess, and not surprisingly considering the parched living space of the Dog People - Tezca, the god of sun and fire. Human sacrifice only occurs with outsiders except among the Otomi tribe who trade with the civilized south.


Southern Wilds (Green People):

They worship the whole pantheon of the gods and still practice human sacrifice. They range from nomadic jungle dwellers to those living in small villages around ancient pyramids hidden in the jungles built long ago.
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HISHNA & PLUMA MAGIC

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:31 am

The two forms of magic are the characteristic powers of Maztica. Although very different from each other, each has its roots in the natural aspects of the True World -things of light and life and air, in the case of pluma: things of sharpness and scale and venom, for hishna. Neither type can be categorized purely in the magic sense of the rest of the Forgotten Realms, for they are neither purely sorcerous, nor purely clerical, in nature.

True, the priests of Maztica can gain powers of hishna or pluma, and each draws its primary symbol from a god - Zaltec and Qotal, respectively. There are no true magic users in Maztican society, yet the practice of these forms reaches its highest levels in the works of artisans, not priests.

The spells of Maztican magic resemble some of the powers of typical mages and clerics, yet there are many differences. For one thing, the casting times tend to be longer with Maztican magic. Material components are more important - indeed, they are often the basis for the spell itself rather than mere focusing objects.

The casting of a Maztican magic spell more often involves a ritual than a quick gesture or command. The effects can be more subtle, but at the same time more profound. A true master of either art achieves the level where he can create essential components, called talismans.

Potions, scrolls, wands, and renamed use-per-day items can be decent stand ins for Talismans.


Pluma: Feathermagic

Pluma has its roots in the power of the Feathered Dragon, Qotal. It is the lighter of the two magics, and the more beneficial to those with peaceful pursuits. Though its users may not be good, to grow stronger in it, one will have to do increasingly more good things.

Symbols:

The primary symbol of pluma is the feather - the brighter and more vivid the color, the better. Macaws, parrots, and hummingbirds are all trapped for their plumage, which is necessary for the working of any kind of feathermagic. Other symbols of pluma include flowers, butterflies, dragonflies, and birds themselves in particular, hummingbirds and eagles. The primary enchanted image of pluma is the mystical creature, the couatl.

Plumaweavers:

The featherworker is an honored character in Maztican culture, for his weavings of pluma make life a greater deal easier and safer for the rest of the populace. Plumaweavers are encountered in village and city life. They aid neighboring farmers, generally in exchange for food, and also spend a great deal of time working their featherweaving. When he finishes an object, a plumaweaver will often give it as a gift to someone he feels is deserving. The plumaweaver must learn the use of the bow and arrow. He can learn
the use of the sling, but the only hand-held weapon he can use is a club or other blunt instrument.

Priests of Qotal can work Pluma Magic - but for the non-priestly Plumaweavers bards, rangers, rogues, and even commoners may be good stand ins.


Hishna: Talonmagic

Hishna has its roots in the power of Zaltec, the god of war. It is more forceful and violent than pluma, yet it, too, draws its strength from the natural forces of the True World. Though its users may not be evil, to grow stronger in it, one will have to do increasingly more evil things.

Symbols:

The primary symbol of hishna is the beastlike image of Zaltec himself, depicted upon statues beside his gory altars, and in relief and mosaic along the walls of his temples. Another common symbol of this potent force is the jaguar. Snakes, alligators, fire lizards, and vultures are other common symbols of hishna. The primary monstrous image of hishna is the Jaguar Lord.

Hishnashapers:

The hishnashaper gathers an understanding of things dangerous and deadly venomous snakes, and stinging spiders, and the teeth and claws of the jaguar. These are the tokens of hishna, and the roots of the shaper's power. Hishnashapers tend to be
feared by the majority of Mazticans, yet their protection is craved. A hishnashaper dwelling in a jungle village, for example, might bully and harass his neighbors, yet they would put up with him because he represents protection against deeper threats from beyond the village. The shapers of hishna live monastic existences. It is rare for one to take a spouse, and unlike most Mazticans they do not usually live with a houseful of relatives and friends.

Hishnashapers play an important part in warfare, too, for their spells are among the few enchanted powers of Maztican warfare. The hishnashaper must gain proficiency with the knife. He can learn the use of the spear and spear-caster, and he like the plumaweaver can wield a blunt instrument in melee combat.

Priests of Zaltec can work Hishna Magic - but for the non-priestly Hishnashapers rangers, rogues, true flame sorcerers, and assassins may be good stand ins.
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SACRIFICE: ITS ROLE & ALIGNMENT

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:31 am

The gods of Maztica fall under the same constraints and definitions of alignment as do the powers throughout the realms. However, once again distinctions blur. Many beings are viewed by their worshippers as serving vital and beneficial functions - Azul, who brings rain, for example; and Tezca, who gives warmth and light. Yet, in the minds of those worshippers, these beings require some of the most ghastly rites imaginable in order to insure their continued blessings.

It is the opinion of this chronicler that the offering of human life, or the mutilation or harming of a person in order to solicit the blessings of a power, represents a fundamentally evil outlook on the part of that deity.

The question of human sacrifice is a constant one when viewing the religions of Maztica.

Again, though the end result may be of goodness to man, the powers that require such rites are assumed, by definition, to be evil. This creates an interesting and uncomfortable paradox when examining the society itself - for, again in the opinion of the chronicler, the society is not an evil one.

Many of the darker aspects of life in the other parts of the Realms torture, for example; or most forms of necromancy were not known in Maztica before the coming of Cordell. Others, of course such as warfare, conquest and slavery were practised here as well as elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the culture and society of Maztica is not one of pervasive, deep-seated evil.

In respects to the offering up of its lives, of course, it may be considered somewhat gullible to the persuasions of its priests - and those priests are they evil? If a fellow actually thinks the sun won't come up in the morning if he doesn't feed it a heart tonight, does that make place him on the dark side of good on the alignment chart? Yes, though the priests performing the sacrifices may not know any better, they have sworn their service to a fundamentally evil cause.
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KUKUL: ANCIENT FATHER OF THE GODS

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:34 am

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SYMBOLS: Stars, meteors, gold

ALIGNMENT: True Neutral

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE:

Kukul is not well-described in the annals of Maztican religion, though it is assumed that he had a vaguely manlike shape. He is also assumed to be huge mountainously so, since he was the first of the gods, and the maker of all the rest. There is speculation that he was a being of pure gold and indeed, one of the myths about gold holds that the precious metal is the remains of Kukul's body, found in the earth for use by his creation: man.

Kukul is an ancient god, believed to be dead by the humans of Maztica slain by the knowledge of strife between his sons. His memory is seen in the night sky. In particular, the stars that rotate through their fixed and predictable locations, and the shooting stars that blaze quickly and then disappear.

ROLE:

Kukul was the mate of Maztica the earth, and the father of all the other gods. Also, he was the creator of man. He was perceived as a kindly, somewhat bewildered father to his chaotic offspring. His death, of grief and shame, is considered highly honorable by
Mazticans, and so he is given favored status as a remembered god.

TENETS and PRIESTLY PRACTICES:

There are no priests of Kukul, per se - since the god is dead, he cannot bestow any powers. However, he is a favorite of sages and chroniclers, since they do not employ magic, but knowledge, in the pursuit of their activities. Kukul is also remembered fondly by the clerics of the younger gods, who always blame someone else's deity for the god's untimely demise. (Priests of Qotal blame Zaltec, while priests of Zaltec blame Qotal, for starting the war that led to Kukul's death.)
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MAZTICA: MOTHER OF LIFE, THE WORLD

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:34 am

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SYMBOLS: Mountains, Soil, Silver

ALIGNMENT: True Neutral

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE:

The body of Maztica was once the epitome of fertile womanhood, lush and rounded. Following her death at the hands of her son Zaltec, she has become the world surrounding the humans of Maztica - the landscape itself. Obviously her size was huge perhaps even exceeding that of her husband Kukul. When she is pictured as living, she has a human form, rather heavyset, and a full, round face. She is always smiling. In the modern era she is perceived in such things as broad vistas. Mirages of landforms are considered to be a great sign of blessing from her, and earthquakes and landslides are examples of her displeasure.

ROLE:

Though Maztica, the second of the elder gods, is also treated as dead by the majority of Maztican priesthoods, she lives on in ways that her husband cannot. Though plants and lakes and streams, for example, are all the territory of different gods, they are earth-based, and as such, Maztica is still worshipped through them.

TENETS and PRIESTLY PRACTICES:

The priests of Maztica are very similar to druids - indeed, the fundamental beliefs and practices are the same, and priests of Maztica have access to the same spells as do druids. Her worshippers are found most commonly among the shamans of small tribes dwelling in the wilderness- she is generally ignored by the more civilized (that is to say, city-dwelling) peoples. However, the tribes where she is held in high regard are located across the length and breadth of the True World. They can be found among the Dog People of the northern deserts, and the small villages deep in the jungles of Far Payit.
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QOTAL: THE FEATHRED DRAGON

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:35 am

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SYMBOLS: Feathers, Butterflies, Mayz (Corn), Wind and Air, Clouds, Couatl, Macaw, Eagle

ALIGNMENT: Lawful Good

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE:

The Feathered Dragon, also called the Plumed One, is the most beautiful and colorful of Maztican gods. He is generally portrayed as a huge golden dragon, although instead of scales he is covered with bright, downy plumage. These feathers are gold, except around his neck. Here Qotal has a mane, as lush and thick as any lion's, but it is a mane of feathers in all colors.

ROLE:

Qotal is generally regarded as a source of goodness and health, in many different aspects. He is a god known to abhor sacrifice. Centuries ago, he left Maztica because of this abhorrence, and for long years he languished in the minds of the people as a relatively forgotten, powerless god. However, his memory lived on in a devout cadre of priests, and as the excesses of the priest of Zaltec and others increased, Qotal was increasingly missed.

Following the Night of Wailing many Mazticans turned back to his worship. Now he has returned to the True World, and is worshipped widely again. Although his original intent to drive Zaltec away was thwarted, he now exists in equilibrium with his brother.

TENETS and PRIESTLY PRACTICES:

Lives, even of small animals, are never offered to Qotal. Instead, his rituals often include the freeing of caged creatures - butterflies and birds, in particular.

Priests of Qotal have access to the Pluma (Feathermagic) and tend to focus on wind, protection, and healing in their magic rites.
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ZALTEC: BRINGER OF WAR, EATER OF HEARTS

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:36 am

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SYMBOLS: Hearts, Skulls, Macas, Knives, Bloody Hand, Talons, Fangs, Jaguars, Rattlesnakes

ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE:

Zaltec's appearance is much more human-like than Qotal's, in that it is a torso walking upright, with two legs, two arms, and a face. That face, however, is beastlike and savage with widespread jaws revealing a mouth filled with curved teeth like a jaguar's, sometimes with two very long, sharp fangs like those of a rattlesnake. Zaltec is almost always visualized as a hungry, angry god. His face is perpetually scowling or snarling, and his hands are ready to clasp around any weapon, to drive home any blade.

ROLE:

Zaltec is the god of war, and as such most violence is worked in his name. He is known to all the peoples of Maztica, though none have raised him to such as height as did the Nexala. They attributed the patronage of Zaltec as directly responsible for their success at war, and they tried to reward him by carrying the cult of sacrifice to appallingly excessive levels. The Feathered Wars, ironically named after a symbol of Zaltec's chief rival, were waged in Zaltec's name, in an effort to procure sufficient sacrifices during times of peace.

TENETS and PRIESTLY PRACTICES:

Zaltec demands blood and hearts, and his priests struggle to keep up with his essentially insatiable hunger. Hearts offered on the altar are deemed the most satisfying, though slaying on the field of battle is also gratifying to him. He is thought to favor the fortunes of those who wage war in his name. Zaltec's priests fast constantly, and often mark themselves with ritual wounds. Their characteristic garb is a black, soiled robe. They cake their hair with the blood of their victims, and twirl it into sharp points jutting out in all directions from the head.

Priests of Zaltec gain access to the Hishna (Talonmagic) and tend to focus on battle, death, destruction, agony, and war in their magic rites.
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AZUL: GIVER OF RAIN, TAKER OF BREATH

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:37 am

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(Also called Calor, particularly among the Nexalans)

SYMBOLS: Rain, Ice, Octal (alcohol), Fish, Frog

ALIGNMENT: Lawful Evil

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE:

Azul is often portrayed as a smiling cherub - a somewhat ghastly reminder of his favorite sacrifice. His skin is meticulously clean, and he leans toward plumpness. He always wears a gown of the cleanest, softest cotton.

ROLE:

As god of rain, and all forms of moisture, Azul is a tremendously important god to the people of Maztica. In that inherently dry continent, those places favored by Azul are the lands that are worth living in, so one of the first things people did when they populated a new valley was to build a new temple and consecrate it to Azul. He, and his many aspects, represent lakes, oceans, streams, snow, and virtually every other aspect of water's nature. Also, Azul is the god of octal, and consequently, drunkenness.

TENETS and PRIESTLY PRACTICES:

The priests of Azul keep themselves scrupulously clean in deference to their deity's nature. Indeed, a priest wears as badges of honor the abrasions in his skin caused by the rough pumice soap that is the ritual ingredient in their baths. The primary sacrifice demanded by Azul, in order to insure a good growing season of rainfall, is the life of a young child, most often the child of a slave or prisoner - drowned in a ritual pool.

Most communities of any size have a priest perform this ritual each spring, though it is a senseless and horrifying claiming of a young life. Priests of Azul tend to focus on water, weather, and protection in their magic rites.
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PLUTOQ: MASTER OF EARTH AND STONE

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:38 am

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SYMBOLS: Mountain peaks, Obsidian, Copper, Adobe, Dust, Jade, Turquoise, Clay and Pottery

ALIGNMENT: Lawful Neutral

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE:

Plutoq is pictured as a sort of giant earth elemental, a towering pillar of dirt and rock. His eyes are green jade, and his teeth are long spikes of obsidian. He towers forty or fifty feet high, and his body has great girth, as well.

ROLE:

Plutoq is a powerful god, but he lacks the numerous followers of Tezca or Azul. He is mainly prayed to when formerly fertile fields have gone barren, and prayers to Watil have not been successful. Plutoq is also regarded as the undisputed master of those heights above the tree-line, where few if any Mazticans live. Such heights are rumored to be strange places, inhabited by bizarre and dangerous creatures. Those who must traverse a high range will often beseech Plutoq for safe passage. Plutoq receives the blame for earthquakes and avalanches. These are generally viewed as evidence of his displeasure, and are usually said to be the result of insolence toward Plutoq on the part of some hapless soul who has already suffered from the disaster.

TENETS and PRIESTLY PRACTICES:

The few priests of Plutoq dedicate themselves to the use of stone, gems, and/or clay, practising as artisans as well as priests. The most meaningful sacrifice to Plutoq is the shattering of a vessel of pottery, or even jewelry, upon the ground where the god's benevolence is sought. Priests of Azul tend to focus on earth, arts, and protection in their magic rites.
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TEZCA: LORD OF SUN AND FIRE

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:39 am

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SYMBOLS: Flame, the Sun, Fireflies, Snakeskin, Lava, Smoke, Fire, Lizards

ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE:

Tezca is pictured as a fire-faced giant. His body is humanoid in shape, and the center of his face is very natural looking. However, fringing this visage is a mane of crackling flame similar to the stylized image of the sun, with a face painted in the middle of it. His skin is orange, and anything that it touches, reputedly, instantly bursts into flame. His hair is like a thick column of smoke floating upward, solid and opaque, and trailing after him as he moves.

ROLES:

Tezca is the lifegiving force of heat and sunlight, and the hungriest of all the gods except for Zaltec. Tezca is particularly well-worshipped among the Kultakans, raised to even higher status than Zaltec there, though all Mazticans acknowledge his importance and his might. He is hailed as the one who brings life to the world, and in more minor aspects, the provider of warmth and light in the night, and also the one who makes it possible to cook food.

TENETS and PRIESTLY PRACTICES:

The priests of Tezca are committed to performing a sacrifice each sunset, in order to insure that that sun-god returns to the world on the following day. These rites are similar to Zaltec's the heart of the unfortunate victim is torn out and offered to a stone image of the god. Priests of Tezca tend to focus on the sun, fire, weather, and light in their magic rites.
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KILTZI: GIVER OF HEALTH, GROWTH, NOURISHMENT, AND LOVE

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:40 am

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SYMBOLS: flower buds, mothers, babies, rainbows, the moon

ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Good

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE:

Kiltzi is generally pictured as a vibrantly beautiful woman, with clear, smooth skin and hair that would trail behind her on the ground if it fell freely. That hair is used to clothe her full, feminine body?a body that is often, but not always, portrayed as very pregnant. Her eyes are like deep, placid pools, and it is rumoured that one can lose his mind by staring into them even for a second so beautiful are they!

ROLES:

Kiltzi is a benign goddess who offers only happiness, health, and contentment when she is properly worshipped. Her name is most commonly invoked at weddings, during pregnancies, and after childbirth. However, she is reputedly fond, occasionally, of the more wilder forms of human affection, and it is not unusual for her presence to be noted, and appreciated, following a long night of octal -drinking, dancing, and singing among warriors and their women.

TENETS and PRIESTLY PRACTICES:

Kiltzi's priests are the most effective healers among the peoples native to Maztica. They are consulted by those who are in physical or emotional distress, and often can offer spells to aid their unhappy flock. No sacrifice is ever offered in Kiltzi's name, though sometimes a shock of mayz or bag of seeds is burned at her altar. The more common form of devotion to Kiltzi is performed privately between a man and a woman. Priests of Kiltzi tend to focus on love, beauty, healing, and protection in their magic rites.
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EHA: WIND SPRITE

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:41 am

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SYMBOLS: Clouds, smoke, steam, wind, flutes and horns

ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Neutral

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE:

Eha is a shifting form of white smoke. She has a long plume of hair that trails around her, and at times she coalesces to the point where she appears solid. But generally there is an insubstantial quality to her light can pass through her form, and she has a tendency to vary her shape quickly, flowing into a long, slender caricature of a woman, and then curling herself into a pudgy ball.

ROLES:

Eha is hailed as the giver of breath to newborn babies, and as a freshening indicator of spring, and warmth. Even when angry her displeasure, powerful winds, is not so deadly as Tezca's or Azul's or even Plutoq's. Thus, she is regarded as a primarily beneficial sprite. She is not greatly feared.

TENETS and PRIESTLY PRACTICES:

The father of a newborn baby will usually place a small offering of food - ground mayz, or cocoa - outside on a windy night, in thanks to Eha for granting the baby breath. Priests of Eha tend to focus on wind, air, and weather in their magic rites.
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WATIL: GUARDIAN OF PLANTS

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:41 am

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SYMBOLS: Lily Mayz, Cactus, Leaf, Blossom

ALIGNMENT: Neutral Good

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE:

Watil, like her sister Kiltzi, is portrayed as a human female of lush sensuality and ample womanhood. Her hair frames her face in white petals, like a lily's. Her clothes are rich, green foliage, accented by belts and sandals and cloaks of bright flowers. Watil can assume the form of any plant she desires, in any size as long as it has earth in which to take root. She maintains the abilities to communicate, and to use all of her senses, in whatever form she takes.

ROLES:

Watil is a benign power, of obvious benefit to all Maztica. Too often she is viewed as the weak pawn of Azul, however for such is the thrall in which rain holds all plant life. Her aspects include deities that overlook mayz, flowers, mushrooms, seaweed, cactus, and cocoa. Fruit is considered to be her greatest blessing, and her name is often praised when citrus or mango is harvested.

TENETS and PRIESTLY PRACTICES:

In common with the other goddesses, Watil demands no sacrifices. Her priests perform blessings upon crops when they are planted and harvested, and a favourite ritual is the gathering of a thousand worms, which are then released into a field before it is seeded. Many priests of Watil prefer to dwell in forests and swamplands, away from humans. They study and care for many exotic plants, usually in great secrecy, and some of them have developed very unusual strains, with bizarre powers. Priests of Watil tend to focus on plants, healing, and creation in their magic rites.
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NULA: GUARDIAN OF ANIMALS

Post by Red Ropes » Fri Jan 22, 2021 1:42 am

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SYMBOLS: Jaguar, Hummingbird, Snake, Buzzard, Monkey

ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Neutral

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE:

Unlike the other goddesses, Nula appears generally in the guise of a wise, long-limbed monkey. She has a long, sinuous tail that she employs as a hand, using it to lift and manipulate objects. She can, however, assume the guise of any of her creatures, when she desires to. She is given to loud and exuberant displays of happiness, whether that be joy or hilarity. When she is angered, she shrieks and spits and pummels with incredible force. Her emotions can swing from one extreme to the other with surprising suddenness.

ROLES:

Nula does not have the stature in Maztican culture that Watil does, primarily because human survival centers around plants to a far greater extent than it does animals. Mazticans keep no livestock, save a few types of fowl and some small dogs. They have no beasts of burden, and wild game is generally an embellishment to, not a staple of, a family's diet. Nula has aspects devoted to most categories of animals (carrion-eaters, cats, fish, birds, monsters), and several specific types, including hummingbirds, vultures, parrots and eagles, as well as snakes, dolphins, and fire lizards.

TENETS and PRIESTLY PRACTICES:

Nula is most often invoked by a fisherman or hunter before he sets out after his quarry. A small offering of seed, or bone, is placed on the ground or in the water. With the coming of the foreigners, however, Nula's stature has grown, as now, for the first time, Mazticans encounter horses, and cattle, and swine. Priests of Nula tend to focus on animals, battle, and protection in their magic rites.
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