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Maztica (2e)

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Based on the Maztica Trilogy by Doug Niles, a new world of adventures far beyond the Shining Sea opens to players.

A land of Aztec and Mayan-like high culture with brutal, bloodthirsty gods, new creatures and lavish treasures.

Maztica is a brand new frontier for the Forgotten Realms adventure setting.

Product History

Maztica Campaign Set (1991), by Douglas Niles, is a boxed campaign expansion for the Forgotten Realms. It was published in June 1991.

About the Title. Maztica is a portmanteau of two Mesoamerican peoples: the Maya and the Aztec.

Origins (I): The Realms Boxes. In the early '90s, TSR was rolling out a couple of boxed sets for the Forgotten Realms every year. Maztica Campaign Set (1991) followed most directly in the footsteps of Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988) and The Horde Barbarian Campaign Setting (1990), each of which offered a large-scale expansion to the world of the Forgotten Realms.

Origins (II): The Blank Continents of Toril. Together the Horde and Kara-Tur supplements detailed the eastern portions of the continent of Faerûn. So what do you do as an encore?

The Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1987) mentioned "other large landmasses" scattered across the world of Abeir-Toril, but that was the extent of the published information. In fact, Greenwood had never drawn out any of the world's other continents; one of his players, Victory Selby, had talked about detailing one, but never did. So, the rest of the world of the Forgotten Realms was a blank slate — which gave TSR plenty of room to expand when they decided to detail another continent as part of their newest boxed set.

Origins (III): The Niles Connection. Douglas Niles has been working to get a Mesoamerican Realms supplement on the TSR schedule for a while. It was entirely in line with his previous development work for the Realms, when he'd created the Celtic-themed Moonshae Islands as one of the first additions the Realms.

It took him two years, but he finally got the OK. First up he wrote a new trilogy of novels detailing the discovery of the new world: Ironhelm (1990), Viperhand (1990), and Feathered Dragon (1991). The Maztica Campaign Set then followed three months after the conclusion of the Maztica Trilogy.

Origins (IV): An Unwanted Addition. Greenwood has gone on record with his dislike of additions to the Realms like Kara-Tur and the Hordelands, saying that they cleaved too close to real-world cultures. He felt much the same way about Maztica. One of his players reports that "Ed never wanted a Mayan-Aztec-'New World' continent or flavour anywhere in the Realms, viewing it (I believe correctly) as a huge stylistic as well as commerical (sic) mistake even before he saw the published result, just as he never wanted the Hordelands to so closely resemble real-world Mongols, or see 'the Dalai Lama' inserted into the Realms, and so on."

Origins (V): A Mesoamerican Land. For better or for worse, Maztica is heavily based on Mesoamerican cultures — just like the Known World supplement, HWR1: "Sons of Azca" (1991), which was published just a month later. Niles bases different cultures of Maztica on the Aztecs and Mayan, and even has crusaders from Faerûn acting as the conquistadors — repeating not just the cultures of Mesoamerica, but its history too!

The conquistadors were a particular interest for Niles, who says, "I'd always thought the conquistadors were the closest-thing to a real-life D&D story. I just wanted to give the story a better ending." However, he also spent extensive time and effort getting the Mesoamerican cultures "right". While preparing to write Maztica, he toured numerous archeological sites such as the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, Tchitchin Itza, and Uxmal, as well as lesser-known ones locations Tulum. He even made multiple trips to Mexico's National Museum of Archaeology.

Niles says the published result is "thoroughly researched and historically accurate" — which may indeed be what players were interested in, but was exactly what Greenwood wanted to avoid in creating new settings for the Realms.

The Battlesystem Connection. One of the books in the Maztica box, "Gods & Battles", includes support for the Battlesystem Miniatures Rules (1989), including some rules variants, troop listings, and scenarios. It sorts of makes sense given the martial nature of the conquest of Maztica, and it also continued a yearly tradition, after the battles of the Horde in 1990.

Expanding D&D. Maztica contains numerous expansions for bringing the D&D game to the continent of Maztica, including discussions of Maztica classes, races, and cultures, new character kits, new magic systems, and those aforementioned updated Battlesystem rules.

Exploring the Realms. "Maztica Alive!", another of the Maztica books, details the continent of Maztica, making it one of the biggest ever expansions for the world of the Realms. It describes several regions: Far Payit, Payit, Pezelac, Kultaka, the Valley of Nexal, Huacli, Kolan, and Tukan. There's even a big map in the style of the Forgotten Realms maps.

Future History. The land of Maztica got some immediate support in the next few years, with the "FMA" adventures (1991), the "FMQ" adventure (1992), and FR15: "Gold & Glory" (1992). After that it quickly fell out of favor and was consigned to minor mentions. By the '00s, some players wondered if it had dropped out of canon entirely.

Dragon #315 (January 2004) offered one of the few modern looks at Maztica as part of its walk through several "Campaign Classics" but then Wizards of the Coast nuked Maztica during the D&D 4e era (2008-2012), saying "The greatest portion of the returning world, however, replaced Maztica, the continent west of Faerûn."

Maztica gets an off-handed mention in the Dungeon Masters Guide for D&D 5e (2014), letting players know it's back. Wizards' DM's Guild has since allowed those players to take advantage of that return: Jon Hild has written a series of "True World" Maztican supplements, adventures, and novels, beginning with TWC1: "The Maztica Campaign Guide" (2016), while other members of the "Maztica Alive!" group has also contributed with products in the "TWA", "TWC", and "TWN" series.

About the Creators. Niles was one of TSR's most prolific and important creators in the late '80s and early '90s. He'd previously authored Battlesystem (1985), FR2: "Moonshaoe" (1987), and much more.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.


 
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on November 15, 2016.