Some Notes On Central American Indians for TFT (by David Michael Grouchy ii)
Nahua (mistaken as Aztec):
Stat translations for cultural difference
ST : Ocelot (jaguar)
DX : Ehecatl (wind)
IQ : Quiahuitl (rain)
: Atl, or Atonatiuh (water, no TFT equivalent, maybe = FS)
MA : Ollin (movement
Thus a Nahua caracter sheet might look like this
Jaguar: 11 Obsidian edged club 2+1, composite recurve bow 1+3
Rain: 9 Axe\Mace(2), Bow(2), UC I(2), Running(2),
Ollin: 12 Sign language(1)
The day a person was born pretty much determined their job for life. It's a strange system. Only partially decifered from the calendar stone. There are twenty days with their own names, and 13 "months". This totals 260 days (20 * 13) called the Tonalpohualli or Tonal for short (Tzolkin in the Mayan system). This is also the gestation period from conception to birth for the average human female. This serves two major functions in the Nahua world view. First, the "month-day" name that a person was born determined their job in life. Second, Odds were strong that the person was concieved on the same "month-day" name as their birth. Thus by choosing on which day to mate, the parents could exert some influence on the potential child's life. This is also directly tied in to the Nahua form of control over neigbouring and conquered tribes. The two main forms of exerting their authority were rape and murder. At any time they could go into a village of a tributary tribe and take prisoners for sacrifice, or rape women. By doing these rapes on days of bad luck, or slavery, they could ensure a reduced status for many of that tribes future children. Children were also expected to work; boys were admonished to cut wood, work the land, plant and gather food. Girls, on the other hand, were expected to sweep, spin, weave, embroider, help their brothers and cook food.
The Nahuatl were a four classed society. Nobles, Commoners, Serfs, and Slaves. Goverment positions were mostly hereditary. Commoners usually survived by farming. Serfs farmed on Noble lands. People could become enslaved by their debts or if captured in war. Apparently many people went into slavery over gambling depts. Gambling was very common and popular.
Bird Keeper: (Animal Handler) Exotic and colorfull birds were very valuable (for their feathers) and well tended. According to one Spanish account of the Nahua Capital in the outlying regons there were over 20 square miles of Bird Aviaries.
Merchant: (Business sense, Boating or Running) Almost all trade was conducted through canoes and market places. Goods transported over land were carried in backpacks supported by a head strap, by large trains of slaves.
Eagle Warrior: (Axe\Mace, Shield) An elite warrior. A ceremonial position, they wore a head dress that looked like an eagle's head and beak.
Ocelot Warrior: (Axe\Mace, Shield) The most elite warrior. A ceremonial position, these guys oversaw the execution of prisoners.
Goldsmith: (Goldsmith) The Nahua were expert designers in gold.
Tonal (or birth day in the 20 day week)
0 Cipactli: (crocodile, earth monster), lord of nurturance, of creation and fertility
a good luck sign
1 Ehecatl: (wind), bad for working with others, god quetzalcoatl (the feathered serpent of reflection and meditation)
a bad luck sign,
slave (higher ST than DX)
2 Calli: (Underworld or house), good for rest and family, not public life a good luck sign,
3 Cuetzpallin: (lizard or ripeness), old Coyote, the trickster, god of deception
4 Coatl: (snake), the snaking river that always changes without changing, fleeting
5 Miquiztli: (death), the conch shell, the unkown, shadows, god Metztli (the moon god)
6 Mazatl: (deer), day of the hunt, sacrifice of prisoners, god Tlaloc (the rain and thunderstorm god), he who makes seed sprout
7 Tochtli: (rabbit), scribe, goddess Mavahuel of alcohol (called maguey) and fertility
a bad luck sign,
no weapon skills
8 Atl: (water), battle, god Xiuhtecuhtli (water) brings out the scorpion which must sting the enemy or sting itself
good luck sign,
9 Itzcuintli: (dog), day of funerals, god Mictlantecuhtli (god of death; also in Deities & Demigods book) guide for the dead and link from the spirit world to the living world.
sign of happiness,
10 Ozomatli: (monkey), creating, playing, celebrating, god ozomahtli (god of arts, pleasure, feasting, and frivolity)
11 Malinalli: (grass), tenacity, rejuvenation, good day for the oppressed, god patecatl (lord of medicines.) Note that this was the name of the Indian Lady that helped Cortez to overthrough the Nahua. She was called Malinalli.
12 Acatl: (reed), good day to seek justice, the scepter of athority which is hollow, god Tezcatlipoca (the smoking mirror, god of night sky and ancestral memory, of warriors)
13 Ocelotl: (jaguar), good day for doing battle, power, valor, bravery, god Tezcatlipoca (the smoking mirror, god of night sky and ancestral memory, of warriors)
14 Cuauhtli: (eagle), good day for action, bad day for reflection, god xipe totec (of shedding skin, seedtime, elemental force of rebirth)
15 Cozcacuauhtli: (vulture), good day to confront failure and disruptions, god Itxpapalotl (long life, wisdom, good counsel, and mental equilibrium)
16 Ollin: (movement), good day for action, bad day to be passive, to see one's future, god xolotl (the shapeshifter, twin of quetzalcoatl, earthquakes)
17 Tecpatl: (obsidian knife) day of grave ordeals, of trials and tribulations, god chalchiuhtotolin (powerfull sorcery)
18 quiahuitl: (rain) day of relying on fortunes of fate, to travel and learn, bad day for buisness and planning, god tonatiuh (sun god, god of movement)
19 xochitl: (flower), day for creating beauty and truth especially that which speaks to the heart (poetry), goddess xochiquetzal (of flower, song, and art)
The Nahua form of government had both a major difference in taxation and in money use. There was no money as westerners understand it. The most comon denominator was the cocao bean, or chocolate bean. Most prices can be set relative to these, and yes this means that in Mictlan money grows on trees. In offset to this one should realize that laziness was punishable by death in the Nahua empire. cocao is a mild stimulant as well as food and since malnutrition was no defence for laziness one could very well find themselves eating their money to stay alive. To shed more light on this, when the Spanish entered the capital and kept asking about gold the Nahua were reported to have asked "Why do you keep asking about gold? Do you eat it?" Consider 1 cocao bean worth one TFT dollar.
The Nahua form of taxation was based on labor. Each year at different times of the year entire families had to report to the capital to work for the empire. Thus taxation was based on donated labor. To handle this there was a separate calender kept for the yearly tasks. It consisted of 18 months of 20 days, and 1 month of 5 days. This adds up to 365 or one solar year. The last month of 5 days (numbered 0-4) were considered very evil days and no work was done on them. In fact it was considered dangerous to be found outside on these days. These were also days that many old grudges were secretly settled as no one would be watching, and officially the days were considered not to exist. The other eighteen months read like a work list. The first month is about the middle of the Gregorian November. On any given month (of 20 days) about 1\18th of the population would be at the capital performing their duty. Entire pyramids were built in this way, harvests brought in, and canals dredged.
0 Izcalli Resurrection
1 Atlacahualco Daparture of the waters
2 Tlacaxipehualiztli Slaughtering of dogs
3 Tozoztontli Little Vigil
4 Hueytozoztli Grand Vigil
5 Toxcatl Dry thing
6 Etzalcualiztli Meal of Corn and Bean
7 Tecuilhuitontli Little Feast of Lords
8 Hueytecuilhuitl Grand Feast of Lords
9 Miccailhuitontli Little Feast of the Dead
10 Hueymiccailhuitl Grand Feast of the Dead
11 Ochpaniztli Sweeping
12 Pachtontli Small hay
13 Hueypachtli Large Hay
14 Quecholli Flamingo
15 Panquetzaliztli Raising of the banners
16 Atemoztli Lowering of water
17 Titl Shrinking
18 Neomontemi Empty days (or evil days, only 5)
Magic in ancient Central America
Calendar stone & the wheel
The Native American Indians have been accused of being technologically primitive. The main traditional evidence of this is the lack of a wheel, or any of its western developments, like chariots and water wheels. I submit that the Indians, and in particular the Central American Nahua (also called the Aztecs) did know of the wheel. In fact the had a profound reverence for it. Due to their world view, they choose to develop it along spiritual lines instead of mechanical.
In Eastern traditions the foot is considered the lowest part of the body (more on the Eastern - Native Indian connection later.) In fact it is considered rude and insulting to point ones foot at some one. This can be taken to extremes. Before the members of my Aircraft Carrier were allowed port side in Thailand we were briefed that "to step on a stray coin may get you killed by a mob. The currency has a picture of the royal family on it." In the eastern tradition this is a grievous insult.
Of course the Indians knew of the wheel. They just used it as a model of the heavens, and considered it to be a symbol of the divine. The sacred circle, the sacred calendar round, and the sacred cycle are common themes in Indian culture. They would never have put the wheel under their feet. And they would never have dared to ride on one.
Instead they used them as a symbol of their submission to the gods. In the most famous of the calendar stones found the central carving was a face with a tongue. The tongue stuck up and was made of flint. The hearts of sacrifice victims were placed on this flint tongue. Thus they made offering too, and fed, the gods.
In magical terms the calendar stones are the same as a ST Battery. These ST Batteries\calendar stones are charged by blood offerings. Instead of getting 1 point for every 5 points of fatigue, they get the victims entire ST. As these calendars are charged with countless sacrifices (according to Bernal Dias, thousands in a day on high holy days.) This power is used by the priests to summon gods. In TFT terms these gods correspond to elementals; wind, rain, earth, and fire (volcano). The priests could summon huge rains for the growing season. Hurricanes, Massive pyramids of earth elementals, and even volcanoes.
An interesting side note. When Cortez landed, Moctezuma had two calendars sent to him. They were about 1 1\2m diameter and one was pure silver, the other pure gold. The Spaniards immediately melted them down and recast them into bars. The Nahua were stunned at what seemed to be a gross waste of power.
Human hearts may be fed to idols also. These Idols may be charged with power in the same way as calendar stones. At the top of one pyramid Cortez was shown the god of war. Before the idol was a large stone bowl full of human hearts.
Many of the outlaying, illiterate, tribes will have their own idols. They do not contain the same astronomical information as the calendar stones, so they are not as good at predicting celestial events. They are typically carved with accurate autopsy information. Many have correct showings of the locations of ribs, bones, organs, and other pieces of human anatomy carved on them.
All members of the culture who witnesses a human sacrifice get the victims DX in experience points. This causes huge gatherings of all classes of society. Even slaves benefit from this display. The sacrifice of nine or so victims can give enough experience to every witness for each 32 point character to get a full character point. Fighting to the death is frowned upon. It is considered wasteful. Bringing in captives for ritual sacrifice results in status and favor.
Some notes about human sacrifice. Each victim is considered to go straight to heaven. This was sometimes a great honor. Occasionally famous ball players would choose this as their form of retirement. Also, women are NEVER sacrificed. In Nahua culture the only way a woman could go to heaven was to die in childbirth. They pretty much had to wait until they were reincarnated as a man.
Capture of Prisoners
Get prisoners' IQ in experience. To get this experience one must transport the prisoner back to the sacred center, or pyramid, and turn them over to the priests. If the prisoner escapes then loose five experience. A person who loses a prisoner will be ridiculed back in the community.
Renewing the Calendar stone after 52 years
The Nahua celestial calendar ran on a 52 year cycle. When this cycle runs out, all stored energy in the calendar stone is taken by the gods. The stone must be recharged, and the cycle starts over. This is a particularly unique ceremony. It is done at night, very rare for the Indians, and it only has one victim. All fires, torches, and lights are extinguished in the entire capital of Aztlan. The victim is taken up on a sacred hill and the entire peoples follow with un-lit torches. A small fire is started. The victim is sacrificed by the holy five priests. One with the obsidian knife, and one to hold each limb. The still beating heart is then fed to the fire. Once consecrated a torch is lit off the fire. All other torches are lit from that one. The fire is passed from torch to torch and then brought down to the city where all fires and lights are lit.
Thus the community is ensured to survive for another 52 years. To enjoy unity, and to be part of the same sacred light. Also the victim is remembered with the highest honor; being and individual who brought light and life to the entire community. This makes him almost equal to the gods.
The Foaming Chocolate Drink In A Golden Cup
Moctezuma was the only one who could drink this sacred beverage. It was ritually prepared and served in a solid gold cup. It is sort of like hot chocolate without the milk. Very, very bitter. Also a very strong stimulant. It is the Nahua version of the IQ+ potion, though it doesn't use human brains as a component. Just chocolate. In one of his meetings with Cortez, Moctezuma is reported to have ordered an excessive number of these drinks.
The Quetzal Feather
The long green tail feathers of the quetzal bird are the symbol of nobility. Nahua poems frequently refer to children in this way "you are my feather, my beloved." The quetzal feather had huge symbolic importance. To the illiterate masses the feather would have been equal to a Word Of Command enchantment. Obey being the most common, but all the other words would have been present.
An interesting fact that is often glazed over by historians is what Cortez was wearing the night he left Cuba. A long red robe lined with gold rings along the hem. The rings could be removed individually to make payments or bribes. He also had a quetzal feather head-dress. He knew exactly the kind of people he was going to subjugate and decide that he had better look the part of a big chief. He probably had no idea how much respect the feathers got him though.
Distinctly Chinese Influences
Chinese stone anchors have been found in the waters of the Pacific coast of Central America. They date to the time of China's Shang Dynasty. Some similarities in writing have also been found. This dates to the time of the Olmec culture in Central America. Long before the Nahua. Interestingly, when the Maya and Nahua were asked about the Olmec ruins of Teotihuacan they said that they didn't know where the builders had come from.
This view has gotten me a lot of arguments in the past, so here is a link to some tentative supporting evidence.
Magical Devices To Help In Gaining Experience
Once a character advances far enough it gets very expensive to gain another attribute point. To aid in this difficulty, so-called cursed items are used. An Item that reduces a persons IQ-5 will drop them to a lower experience point category. A device that reduces all three attributes by 5 will drop them three experience categories. Because of this nothing is considered cursed in Nahua culture. It is just said that "one must be very powerful to use it."
Caribbean \ Central American tribe names
Chontal (de Tabasco)
Lokono (mistaken as Arawak)
Nahua (mistaken as Aztec)
Tarascao (or Purepecha)
Yuman (now called Quechan)
________ ___________ ____________ ___________
South America Tribe Names
David Michael Grouchy II
Some Notes On Central American Indians for TFT (by David Michael Grouchy ii)