Signup
Welcome to... Canonfire! World of GreyhawK
Features
Postcards from the Flanaess
Adventures
in Greyhawk
Cities of
Oerth
Deadly
Denizens
Jason Zavoda Presents
The Gord Novels
Greyhawk Wiki
#greytalk
JOIN THE CHAT
ON DISCORD
    Canonfire :: View topic - Amedian, Olman, and Touv peoples
    Canonfire Forum Index -> World of Greyhawk Discussion
    Amedian, Olman, and Touv peoples
    Author Message
    CF Admin

    Joined: Jul 28, 2001
    Posts: 672
    From: on the way to Bellport

    Send private message
    Thu Apr 06, 2023 6:44 pm  
    Amedian, Olman, and Touv peoples

    I’d like to restart conversations with folks interested in sharing ideas about the Amedian, Olman, and Touv peoples. This subject has occupied numerous discussions here on Canonfire! (particularly in 2005–06, 2011–12, and 2015) according to some forum searches that I conducted a few years ago using “Olman,” which produced 53 matches, and “Tamoachan,” which produced 79 matches—and some barely-remembered discussions in which I participated “back in the day” on GreyTalk (and possibly Greyhawk–L) in the late 1990s.

    In my next post to this thread, I’ll begin to share my latest (and/or previously unpublished) ideas about the Olman. Before that, however, I would be remiss not to dedicate this post to Maria Deltorre (a.k.a., Mar), who used the handles Despotrix and chibirias on Canonfire! Although I never met her on Earth before her untimely death in 2012, I admired and greatly enjoyed her contributions discussions about the Olman peoples. Her “Olmanifesto” blog was last archived in 2016, and someone (possibly Rich Trickey, a.k.a., chatdemon) also archived it.

    Next, here are a few Oxford U. Press "Very Short Introduction" books that inform my latest imaginings on the subject (listed by author’s surname):
      Davíd Carrasco, The Aztecs (2012);
      John Parker & Richard Rathbone, African History (2007);
      Matthew Restall & Felipe Fernández-Armesto, The Conquistadors (2012);
      Matthew Restall & Amara Solari, The Maya (2020); and
      Alan Taylor, Colonial America (2013).
    Finally, here links to several relevant Canonfire! discussions that I’ve found highly useful:
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
    Posts: 3312
    From: Michigan

    Send private message
    Fri Apr 07, 2023 10:24 am  

    In Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel and Oerth I discussed some ideas about using the cultures in that 5e adventure anthology to represent various Olman and Touv cultures.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 03, 2002
    Posts: 59


    Send private message
    Sat Apr 08, 2023 12:10 am  

    If I may add some illustrated insights, I would like to share some pics I've made for my "Savage Tide" campaign, if it could help picturing Olman people.
    https://www.deviantart.com/dungeonmeister/art/Renkrue-798280890
    https://www.deviantart.com/dungeonmeister/art/Tamoachan-Ruins-795562198
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 16, 2003
    Posts: 201
    From: Calgary, AB, Canada

    Send private message
    Sat Apr 08, 2023 6:00 pm  

    Thanks for sharing all those great links, mtg.

    I look forward to seeing where this discussion goes.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jan 05, 2007
    Posts: 221
    From: Vancouver

    Send private message
    Sun Apr 09, 2023 1:37 pm  

    A great topic and timely discussion, as my group now sails into the Densac Gulf in search of the Isle of Dread. While I'm no expert, I do plan to insert as much Olman culture into the campaign as possible - so thanks for posting these links, mtg.

    I have read some of these before, particularly GVDammerung's compelling Tamoachan Revisited-The Olman/Touv Wars, and I agree with his approach that the Olman people did not originally come from the Hepmonoland, but rather the foothills of the Hellfurnaces or the Olman Isles.

    I'm also in the process of taking notes from both Holian's article "Exploring the Isle of Dread" in Dungeon #114 and Greyhawk Guide to the Isle of Dread by Pluffet Smedger. I have my homework cut out for me!

    One other thing I find curious: if I understand correctly, the Amedian are a hybrid of Suel and Olman peoples, descended from early Suel explorers that fell into conflict with the Olman upon reaching the Amedio. If this is the case, and given their history of conflict, is there a hybrid race of Olman-Touv people? Or is it assumed that they were absorbed into one of the two cultures at the time?

    Thanks for any feedback/input.
    CF Admin

    Joined: Jul 28, 2001
    Posts: 672
    From: on the way to Bellport

    Send private message
    Sat Apr 15, 2023 5:11 pm  

    Luz wrote:
    A great topic and timely discussion, as my group now sails into the Densac Gulf in search of the Isle of Dread. While I'm no expert, I do plan to insert as much Olman culture into the campaign as possible - so thanks for posting these links, mtg.

    I have read some of these before, particularly GVDammerung's compelling Tamoachan Revisited-The Olman/Touv Wars, and I agree with his approach that the Olman people did not originally come from the Hepmonoland, but rather the foothills of the Hellfurnaces or the Olman Isles.

    Here's Maria Deltorre's post, The Real Olman Homeland, which holds that the Olman originated in the grasslands southwest of the Amedio Jungle where the Hellfurnaces end. I haven't read it in years and plan to review it again soon.

    Luz wrote:
    I'm also in the process of taking notes from both Holian's article "Exploring the Isle of Dread" in Dungeon #114 and Greyhawk Guide to the Isle of Dread by Pluffet Smedger. I have my homework cut out for me!

    Glad that our campaigns are resonating in this way, Luz, and thanks for linking to GVDammerung's post and Pluffet Smedger's Greyhawk Guide to the Isle of Dread. I look forward to rereading Glenn's post and don't think I knew about Gary's guide.

    Luz wrote:
    One other thing I find curious: if I understand correctly, the Amedian are a hybrid of Suel and Olman peoples, descended from early Suel explorers that fell into conflict with the Olman upon reaching the Amedio. If this is the case, and given their history of conflict, is there a hybrid race of Olman-Touv people? Or is it assumed that they were absorbed into one of the two cultures at the time?

    Thanks for any feedback/input.

    In Sean K. Reynold's The Scarlet Brotherhood, and prior publications, the Amedian are Suel who journeyed into the Amedian Jungle—not an Olman–Suel hybrid. They war against each other but otherwise haven't appreciably intermingled. In contrast, Sean allowed for greater interaction between the Olman, Suel, and Touv peoples in Hepmonaland, judging by the several hybrid languages that he devised—Etlani, Rasol, Ralat, and Xolasa. See id. at pg. 38.

    I prefer substantially greater admixture, miscegenation, and reciprocal influence between the Amedian and Olman peoples. While some elites may purport "pureblood" status, about a thousand years have passed since the "Firstcomer Suel" invaded the Amedio Jungle, warred against the indigenous Olman peoples, settled the coast of Jeklea Bay, established plantations, etc.

    Part of what I aspire to detail is how those originally different peoples interacted in the millennium following their "contact." Beyond the "kingdoms" that Sean created, I think that folks interested in developing this region for their campaigns—beyond the "savages" motif—need an array of peoples along the southern coast of Jeklea Bay to serve as the intermediary slave takers and traders who developed to facilitate the demands of the Toli Suel in the long past (per Samwise) and the latter-day Sea Princes after the CY 464 Battle of Jetsom Island (when the original Sea Prince and his eponymous ship were lost at sea, and the surviving Princes changed tack away from ongoing warfare with Keoland and toward slave-taking).

    Similarly, within the plantations of the Hold, IMC, the enslaved peoples have developed a hybrid language that incorporates Amedian (the Suel dialect or language) and various dialects of Olman into the Common Tongue dialect of the Hold (i.e., Seolder), which in turn has been greatly influenced by Keolandish.
    CF Admin

    Joined: Jul 28, 2001
    Posts: 672
    From: on the way to Bellport

    Send private message
    Sun Apr 16, 2023 4:26 pm  

    rasgon wrote:
    In Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel and Oerth I discussed some ideas about using the cultures in that 5e adventure anthology to represent various Olman and Touv cultures.

    Thanks for this Rip! It took me a couple of attempts to read through the whole post, and I'm intrigued by your descriptions of Atagua, San Citlán, and Tletepec.

    Below, I respond with my efforts to understand and translate the names into English. Then I comment briefly on the larger issue I discern and for which I restarted this conversation.

    Regarding Atagua, I don't know enough about the Mayan languages even to identify which particular language inspired it. The first online search result is for an acronym used by a Guatemalan association of sugar growers, and looking into a few online Mayan dictionaries turns up nothing immediately. Thinking about the name in terms of Spanish, I wonder if it's merely a play on words (e.g., at-agua = at water)? This would seem to resonate with the centrality of the Holroro River in the cultural mixture that eventuated in the Flood People.

    Regarding San Citlán, it looks Nahuatl (the language of the Aztec or Méxica people) to me, and according to several online sources, the best of which is the University of Oregon's Nahuatl Dictionary, citlalin means star or stars, so I would translate (mixing Spanish and Nahuatl) San Citlán into English as Saint Star (or perhaps Holy Star although that would be Santo Citlán). Does its published description feature celestial phenomena?

    For Tletepec, Tle means "what" or "what thing" and -tepec means on the hill or mountain, so this neologism seems only to use Nahuatl and translate into English as What Hill? or What Mountain?, which seems humorous.

    Shifting from my attempt to translate these names and interpret their meanings, I note that they present one of the foundational problems for folks who want to detail the Olman peoples. Our original texts, Lost Tamaochan and Hidden Shrine of Tamaochan, present it too: the main inspiration for the Olman was the Aztec Empire of the Méxica people, and the Maya peoples provided a secondary inspiration—as understood and represented by the original authors (Harold Johnson & Jeff. R. Leason) and all those who've followed.

    Knowledge about those indigenous peoples as they lived prior to Spanish "discovery," conquest, and colonization is of course fragmentary, as is all history, but knowledge about them in the United States has increased substantially over recent decades, as anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, and others—particularly those from the modern-day countries that occupy the former Aztec Empire, Mayaland, and myriad other "pre-Columbian" peoples—work to uncover their past prior to, during, and after the conquistador's "discovery of the New World" and as their works are either originally published in, or later translated into, English.

    All's to say that when I imagine the Olman, I want to draw upon extant scholarship about the Aztec Empire, Maya peoples, and others with a clear sense of which people's history I'm using at a given moment, when I synthesize them, and when I spin whole cloth, and ultimately I want to create a campaign setting (focused on the Amedio Jungle and environs for my campaign but also including Hepmonaland) that invites players to transcend simplistic (colonialist, racist) stereotypes of savagery and cannibalism.

    In what follows, I will critique much, and reject some, of Sean K. Reynold's The Scarlet Brotherhood, which many of us have criticized over the years for failing to "do justice" to the Olman peoples. (I think he also missed the mark with the Amedian people. In contrast, I think he did better with the Suel of Hepmonaland and really quite well in creating the Touv.)

    Finally, it should be said that Johnson & Leason created a tournament module that was expressly inspired by the Aztec Empire. Gygax later incorporated it into Oerth, and I'm glad he did it although I wish that later publications had elaborated the Olman to make them more Oerthly rather than directly incorporate various Aztec (and Mayan) deities.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
    Posts: 541
    From: Canada

    Send private message
    Mon Apr 17, 2023 6:54 am  

    mtg wrote:


    In what follows, I will critique much, and reject some, of Sean K. Reynold's The Scarlet Brotherhood, which many of us have criticized over the years for failing to "do justice" to the Olman peoples. (I think he also missed the mark with the Amedian people. In contrast, I think he did better with the Suel of Hepmonaland and really quite well in creating the Touv.)

    Finally, it should be said that Johnson & Leason created a tournament module that was expressly inspired by the Aztec Empire. Gygax later incorporated it into Oerth, and I'm glad he did it although I wish that later publications had elaborated the Olman to make them more Oerthly rather than directly incorporate various Aztec (and Mayan) deities.


    This is one of the reasons why I have the 1E demihuman and humanoid races spread all over Oerth just like humans. That provides the Olman and other human cultures like the Flan full access to metalworking through trade and/or learning from the dwarves and gnomes they interact with. They could even have heavy full, half or field plate armor if they wanted, but most don't for reasons of practicality (living in a tropical clime, somewhat difficult to maintain on a semi-nomadic lifestyle, etc.) Their having to fight off constant threats from orcs, hobgoblins and other humanoids also helps break the association between them and the humanoids as 'enemy races' (but that's a rant for another day.)

    One of the main heroes in my Silver Wolf stories is the Olman warrior Ma'non'go of the Silver Winds. A lot of his backstory was inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo, albeit taken from a Napoleonic French setting to one inspired by medieval Mesoamerica. The setting in itself isn't necessarily important, and I wanted to show how it could exist in a setting that wasn't inspired by real-life European cultures. If Ma'non'go read The Scarlet Brotherhood, he'd be baffled by the claim that there are no demihumans or humanoids among the Olman, and flat-out offended by the claim that all the gods are neutrally-aligned at best. I asked about that a while ago (can't remember which forum, I think the Greyhawk Resources Facebook group) and someone replied that the gods' being neutral at best was based on the fact that human sacrifice was such a key part of Olman culture and religion.

    Just as I'd be more inclined to view the Rhennee's allegedly abducting children to in practice actually taking in orphans and street children who have nobody to otherwise care for them (to avoid the really bad cultural stereotypes), I'd curb the whole human sacrifice thing to either be a tremendous honor (when someone willingly volunteers to be sacrificed) or a criminal punishment (similar to a hanging or beheading in a Flanaess-based society) among most good- and neutrally-aligned deities. Evil gods, of course, demand sacrifices as a matter of course, but they're no different than the likes of Iuz or Incabulos that way.
    CF Admin

    Joined: Jul 28, 2001
    Posts: 672
    From: on the way to Bellport

    Send private message
    Mon Apr 17, 2023 7:49 pm  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    This is one of the reasons why I have the 1E demihuman and humanoid races spread all over Oerth just like humans. That provides the Olman and other human cultures like the Flan full access to metalworking through trade and/or learning from the dwarves and gnomes they interact with. They could even have heavy full, half or field plate armor if they wanted, but most don't for reasons of practicality (living in a tropical clime, somewhat difficult to maintain on a semi-nomadic lifestyle, etc.) Their having to fight off constant threats from orcs, hobgoblins and other humanoids also helps break the association between them and the humanoids as 'enemy races' (but that's a rant for another day.)

    I've yet to give great thought to the demihumans in the Amedio Jungle but see no reason why dwarves (mountain and hill) and gnomes wouldn't be in the Hellfurnaces below a certain line of latitude.

    IMC, those peoples, halflings, and elves are uncommon to rare within the Hold of the Sea Princes (following the Glossography and FtA encounter tables and the LGG), but in the pre-Great Migrations history that I've imagined, the Flan and Olman peoples interacted with all of the demihumans in the region.

    UK 1 Beyond the Crystal Cave provides the oldest canon reference for such. Viz., "Long ago on the lovely island of Sybarate there lived the beautiful half-elven princess, Caerwyn, with her human lover and the magic user Porporio Profoundeus." Id. at pg. 2. In other words, humans and elves interacted in such a way on and around Sybarate Isle such that Caerwyn was recognized as a princess with estates on that small isle. N.B. Caerwyn is a Welsh name that means love, fair, and/or blessed. Caer Gywn translates into “White Fortress.”

    Along those lines, I've intimated to my PCs that gnomes, among others, also inhabited the islands in the distant past.
    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    One of the main heroes in my Silver Wolf stories is the Olman warrior Ma'non'go of the Silver Winds. A lot of his backstory was inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo, albeit taken from a Napoleonic French setting to one inspired by medieval Mesoamerica. The setting in itself isn't necessarily important, and I wanted to show how it could exist in a setting that wasn't inspired by real-life European cultures.

    Love it. I never read that novel as a child or youth but only in the past decade-or-so, so it's relatively fresh in memory, and your Dantès-inspired Olman warrior Ma'non'go sounds intriguing.

    Regarding the Olman pantheon, I think it's necessary that all of the alignments feature in it. Regarding human sacrifice, I'm presently undecided. While that ritual practice certainly featured in the Aztec Empire, and several of its constituent city-states, it's up to us to decide how to represent it among Oerth's Olman.

    If one uses the classic nine alignments, which I loosely do for my PCs, then your solution provides a clean approach:
    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    I'd curb the whole human sacrifice thing to either be a tremendous honor (when someone willingly volunteers to be sacrificed) or a criminal punishment (similar to a hanging or beheading in a Flanaess-based society) among most good- and neutrally-aligned deities. Evil gods, of course, demand sacrifices as a matter of course, but they're no different than the likes of Iuz or Incabulos that way.

    Additionally, Oerth's clerics being able to cast spells without such sacrifice removes a major religious reason to do it—unless one holds that such sacrifice is either necessary for Olman clerics, which is problematic, or that such sacrifice can empower, heighten, or otherwise augment magic a la 3e's spellcasting feats and Book of Vile Darkness.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
    Posts: 541
    From: Canada

    Send private message
    Mon Apr 17, 2023 9:17 pm  

    mtg wrote:

    Love it. I never read that novel as a child or youth but only in the past decade-or-so, so it's relatively fresh in memory, and your Dantès-inspired Olman warrior Ma'non'go sounds intriguing.


    Thank you! I only borrowed from the first part of the story. Edmond Dantes never joined an adventuring party, and while I haven't decided how Ma'non'go might pursue revenge he won't do it as a mysterious nobleman who just happens to appear in Olman high society...

    mtg wrote:

    Additionally, Oerth's clerics being able to cast spells without such sacrifice removes a major religious reason to do it—unless one holds that such sacrifice is either necessary for Olman clerics, which is problematic, or that such sacrifice can empower, heighten, or otherwise augment magic a la 3e's spellcasting feats and Book of Vile Darkness.


    I would say that sacrifices aren't necessary for clerical magic. I see them more as a type of judicial punishment, much like Oeridian and Sueloise societies might hang or behead a murderer. It has a more religious element to it lacking in most Flanaess societies (except for the likes of the Pale, of course!) People who want to be sacrificed for any number of reasons (feeling the need to atone for something, as a means of settling a feud, simple religious fervor, etc.) won't have much trouble finding a cleric willing to help them.

    One significant difference between Flanaess societies and those in Hepmonaland is that Olman governments are probably more theocratic in nature than Flanaess ones. Many Flanaess states seem to have really adopted the whole 'separation of church and state' principle that's so common in modern Western societies. Some states favor certain churches, but they tolerate a wide variety of faiths (exceptions like Medegia and the Pale notwithstanding, of course).

    I wonder how that would work in practice-didn't a lot of Mesoamerican societies have similar theocratic elements in real life?
    CF Admin

    Joined: Jul 28, 2001
    Posts: 672
    From: on the way to Bellport

    Send private message
    Tue Apr 18, 2023 3:33 pm  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    This is one of the reasons why I have the 1E demihuman and humanoid races spread all over Oerth just like humans. That provides the Olman and other human cultures like the Flan full access to metalworking through trade and/or learning from the dwarves and gnomes they interact with. They could even have heavy full, half or field plate armor if they wanted, but most don't for reasons of practicality (living in a tropical clime, somewhat difficult to maintain on a semi-nomadic lifestyle, etc.)

    Something interesting in my Hold of the Sea Princes campaign has been how to account for the tropical climate, particularly heat and humidity. IMC, most people who wear armor in the Hold prefer leather or studded leather. A handful of warriors wear "exotic" armors like leather scale, brigandine, and lamellar (originally presented in 1e's Oriental Adventures). Chain shirts and breastplates are a sign of wealth. (Chain mail and other heavy armors are impractical because they require so much upkeep to avoid destruction by rust.)

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Their having to fight off constant threats from orcs, hobgoblins and other humanoids also helps break the association between them and the humanoids as 'enemy races' (but that's a rant for another day.)

    I invite you to share that rant. One of my players recently introduced me to a compelling essay on this subject, Orcs, Britons, And The Martial Race Myth, Part I: A Species Built For Racial Terror. Have you read it?
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
    Posts: 541
    From: Canada

    Send private message
    Tue Apr 18, 2023 6:52 pm  

    mtg wrote:

    Something interesting in my Hold of the Sea Princes campaign has been how to account for the tropical climate, particularly heat and humidity. IMC, most people who wear armor in the Hold prefer leather or studded leather. A handful of warriors wear "exotic" armors like leather scale, brigandine, and lamellar (originally presented in 1e's Oriental Adventures). Chain shirts and breastplates are a sign of wealth. (Chain mail and other heavy armors are impractical because they require so much upkeep to avoid destruction by rust.)


    The 2E Monstrous Manual mentions how the hides and shells of some creatures like ankhegs and gorgons can be made into very good armor. That made me wonder how common armor made from such substances, which may not be as hot to wear as metal armor and obviously wouldn't be in danger of rusting, might be in these climes.

    mtg wrote:

    I invite you to share that rant. One of my players recently introduced me to a compelling essay on this subject, Orcs, Britons, And The Martial Race Myth, Part I: A Species Built For Racial Terror. Have you read it?


    I've heard of it, but I haven't gone through it because I value my blood pressure. All I'll say to the concept of "Orcs=racist depiction of POC" is that, when I think of murdering conquerors I tend to think more of Europeans, like the Goths, Vandals and other cultures that destroyed the Western Roman Empire or the Scandinavians that tore through central Europe (Harold Godwinson may have lost the Battle of Hastings because his army was tired out from fighting and winning against a large Norwegian invasion force beforehand),. The whole "barbarism is a threat to civilization" schtick has plenty of roots in Europe itself going back to Greek mythology...

    Not to mention that humanoids sound more like more recent British/French/Spanish/German imperialism and colonialism than they do African or Asian people. Invaders who attack you unprovoked, kill you in gruesome ways and take your stuff? That sounds at least as much like Kurtz as it does Genghis Khan...
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 20, 2004
    Posts: 580
    From: British Isles

    Send private message
    Wed Apr 19, 2023 11:50 pm  

    I can't remember off hand where the original concept came from (Scarlet Brotherhood sourcebook?) but I was under the impression that the current Olman pantheon were originally deities from Earth. For that reason I've always treated the Olman as a southern Flan people in appearance with some Touv ancestry thrown in.

    Later material makes the Olman very Aztec/Mayan in culture and appearance but the question is when the Olman adopted these new alien gods how much of their original culture did they lose? Were the Olman gods desperate for new worshippers so were prepared to adapt or compromise how they were worshipped or were they uncompromising and enforced the cultural norms of their original worshippers?

    What happened to the original gods worshipped by the Olman? A fusion pantheon might make more sense or some of the Flan gods (especially the greater gods) being given corresponding Aztec names - Pelor becoming known as Huitzilopochtli for example?

    With regards to the Olman as a race of 'savages' I guess it depends on what you take that to mean. The ancient Greeks thought everyone who wasn't Greek was a barbarian but we know that many of those barbarians had thriving and advanced cultures. A Keoish explorer might consider them savages based on what he or she considers the benchmark to be. I mean the Aztecs didn't use metal weapons or armour but their architecture, astronomy and mathematics was insane. In a humid tropical environment, metal isn't practical. That doesn't mean they can't be highly advanced goldsmiths though with jewellery far exceeding any human populations in the wider Flanaess.

    That being said, aren't the current Olman going through a bit of a dark age after the collapse of their empire? I need to re-read what happened after the collapse of other empires, like in Dark Ages Britain for example, but I don't think anyone collapsed into complete savagery!
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
    Posts: 541
    From: Canada

    Send private message
    Thu Apr 20, 2023 8:33 pm  

    Wolfling wrote:
    I can't remember off hand where the original concept came from (Scarlet Brotherhood sourcebook?) but I was under the impression that the current Olman pantheon were originally deities from Earth. For that reason I've always treated the Olman as a southern Flan people in appearance with some Touv ancestry thrown in.

    Later material makes the Olman very Aztec/Mayan in culture and appearance but the question is when the Olman adopted these new alien gods how much of their original culture did they lose? Were the Olman gods desperate for new worshippers so were prepared to adapt or compromise how they were worshipped or were they uncompromising and enforced the cultural norms of their original worshippers?

    What happened to the original gods worshipped by the Olman? A fusion pantheon might make more sense or some of the Flan gods (especially the greater gods) being given corresponding Aztec names - Pelor becoming known as Huitzilopochtli for example?


    I see no reason not to assume that the "current" Olman pantheon is the same one they've always worshipped. I generally don't like adapting gods from real pantheons and mythologies, but when you have the likes of Charon ferrying people in the lower planes and Orcus hatching evil schemes in the Abyss I suppose I can live with it in the Olman's case.

    I would, however, add one element of Olman religion that's distinct from the Flanaess. The presence of several of the "named" monsters in the shrine of Tamoachan is not that the Olman assume these creatures are gods themselves, but that they're representatives of the gods. Offerings can be made to these beings who accept them on a god's behalf. Thus, there really is a goddess named Xilonen in the Olman pantheon, and the polyp is merely her conduit to her mortal followers. Offerings and sacrifices (which need not, and usually are not, human) are fed to the polyp and Xilonen is honored thereby.

    Even in canon materials, the alignments of the Mesoamerican/Olman gods are all over the map. Here's a summary typed up by rasgon back in 2011:

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=4488&highlight=

    Wolfling wrote:

    With regards to the Olman as a race of 'savages' I guess it depends on what you take that to mean. The ancient Greeks thought everyone who wasn't Greek was a barbarian but we know that many of those barbarians had thriving and advanced cultures. A Keoish explorer might consider them savages based on what he or she considers the benchmark to be. I mean the Aztecs didn't use metal weapons or armour but their architecture, astronomy and mathematics was insane. In a humid tropical environment, metal isn't practical. That doesn't mean they can't be highly advanced goldsmiths though with jewellery far exceeding any human populations in the wider Flanaess.

    That being said, aren't the current Olman going through a bit of a dark age after the collapse of their empire? I need to re-read what happened after the collapse of other empires, like in Dark Ages Britain for example, but I don't think anyone collapsed into complete savagery!


    Ma'non'go would likely reply that the peoples of the Flanaess are going through a dark age of their own, citing the decay and collapse of the Great Kingdom, the rise of Iuz, the conquests of the Pomarj and Bone March by humanoids, and the many dungeons, ruins and abandoned cities littering the Flanaess. Obviously, there are abandoned temples and cities in Hepmonaland like the shrine at Tamoachan and the Forbidden City of the Pelisso Swamps, but that just means Hepmonaland and the Flanaess aren't all that different.
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
    Posts: 3312
    From: Michigan

    Send private message
    Fri Apr 21, 2023 5:35 am  

    Wolfling wrote:
    I can't remember off hand where the original concept came from (Scarlet Brotherhood sourcebook?) but I was under the impression that the current Olman pantheon were originally deities from Earth.


    Yeah, The Scarlet Brotherhood, page 42:

    "The Olman gods are not native to Oerth, having been worshipped first by beings on another prime material plane. At some point around 3000 years ago, these gods discovered Oerth and the Olman people, and revealed themselves as supernatural beings to the primitive Olman."

    Quote:
    What happened to the original gods worshipped by the Olman?


    One possibility that I've played with is that the original deities worshiped by the Olman died and are being consumed by the Dreaming Gulf, the 230th layer of the Abyss, with their digested fragments transformed into loumara demons.

    Another possibility is that the Olman themselves are not native to Oerth, and that they arrived at the same time as their gods.

    The ruins of Tamoachan in C1 include a small technological device labeled II Nedraw (Warden II spelled backwards), perhaps hinting that the Olman arrived on Oerth via a generation ship similar to Metamorphosis Alpha's Warden.
    CF Admin

    Joined: Jul 28, 2001
    Posts: 672
    From: on the way to Bellport

    Send private message
    Sat Apr 22, 2023 7:06 pm  

    Responding to various posts.

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    The 2E Monstrous Manual mentions how the hides and shells of some creatures like ankhegs and gorgons can be made into very good armor. That made me wonder how common armor made from such substances, which may not be as hot to wear as metal armor and obviously wouldn't be in danger of rusting, might be in these climes.

    Thanks for this reminder. I love it and will post some suggestions in the 5e folder. (I recently presented a few "exotic" armors derived from the 1e Oriental Adventures.)

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    I haven't gone through it because I value my blood pressure. All I'll say to the concept of "Orcs=racist depiction of POC" is that, when I think of murdering conquerors I tend to think more of Europeans, like the Goths, Vandals and other cultures that destroyed the Western Roman Empire or the Scandinavians that tore through central Europe (Harold Godwinson may have lost the Battle of Hastings because his army was tired out from fighting and winning against a large Norwegian invasion force beforehand),. The whole "barbarism is a threat to civilization" schtick has plenty of roots in Europe itself going back to Greek mythology...

    I hear you and appreciate the history you're evoking regarding the Germanic peoples / tribes. Still, the essay is worth reading. A choice point I recall from the Mendez Hodes essay, why did Anglo–American wartime propaganda and rhetoric refer to Germans as "the Hun?"

    At the same time, as one of my players—who's the kind of Tolkien fan who has literally read everything published by Tolkien and his son—highlights, Tolkien was expressly anti-Nazi.

    Ultimately, all of our imaginations refract the contradictions of our cultures, socialization, and times.

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Not to mention that humanoids sound more like more recent British/French/Spanish/German imperialism and colonialism than they do African or Asian people. Invaders who attack you unprovoked, kill you in gruesome ways and take your stuff? That sounds at least as much like Kurtz as it does Genghis Khan...

    Thanks for articulating this insight. I've never seen it made so succinctly and am going to have to reflect on it.

    Wolfling wrote:
    I've always treated the Olman as a southern Flan people in appearance with some Touv ancestry thrown in.

    That's a neat innovation. I've never prior considered it although I have questioned the interrelation between the Flan and Olman peoples.

    Wolfling wrote:
    Later material makes the Olman very Aztec/Mayan in culture and appearance but the question is when the Olman adopted these new alien gods how much of their original culture did they lose? Were the Olman gods desperate for new worshippers so were prepared to adapt or compromise how they were worshipped or were they uncompromising and enforced the cultural norms of their original worshippers?

    What happened to the original gods worshipped by the Olman? A fusion pantheon might make more sense or some of the Flan gods (especially the greater gods) being given corresponding Aztec names - Pelor becoming known as Huitzilopochtli for example?

    I will to respond to these ideas in several post. Starting here, a fundamental question for DMs who plan to use the Olman asks whether they are originally an Oerthly people (like the Baklunish, Flannae, Oeridian, Suel, Touv, etc.), or interplanar "immigrants" like the Rhennee. Similarly, we are called to resolve the Earthly / colonialist "ancient aliens" myth that questioned the ability of "pre-Colombian" / Mesoamerican peoples to achieve the astronomic, engineering, mathematical, scientific, etc. heights and the seemingly related assertion, by SKR in tSB, that various Mesoamerican gods "came to Oerth."

    Prior to this round of the conversation, I've assumed that Olman peoples are more like the Flannae, Touv, etc. and less like the Rhennee, but it's worth pondering. In our various Alternate Oerths, did some Earthly Mesoamerican peoples travel on the Warden II? If so, did their ship utilize some kind of gate between far-future Earth (when/where the ship was constructed) and long-ago Oerth and (perhaps with time travel to a moment on Earth before Spanish "discovery" and colonization of present-day México) somehow give the gods of the Aztec and Mayan peoples a way / route to contact the Olman peoples? Or, did something entirely different transpire?

    With Earth ≠ Oerth as a guide, yet also with the idea that they are alternate Prime Material Planes of each other, I tend to prefer having the Olman peoples be original to Oerth rather than "immigrants" (like the Rhennee). And, following from that, I prefer the Olman to have their own, indigenous, pantheon, but Wolfling's version, which mixes Flannae and Touv peoples, intrigues me in part because of the Touv Sun Stone and its deific benefactors (e.g., Katay, Xanang, Uvot, etc.).

    But, I'm not against having Earthly "cousins" of the Olman come to Oerth from time to time, say once every thousand (or so) years, and I'm similarly intrigued by time-and-space sojourns, including by the Warden II.

    Wolfling wrote:
    With regards to the Olman as a race of 'savages' I guess it depends on what you take that to mean. The ancient Greeks thought everyone who wasn't Greek was a barbarian but we know that many of those barbarians had thriving and advanced cultures. A Keoish explorer might consider them savages based on what he or she considers the benchmark to be. I mean the Aztecs didn't use metal weapons or armour but their architecture, astronomy and mathematics was insane. In a humid tropical environment, metal isn't practical. That doesn't mean they can't be highly advanced goldsmiths though with jewellery far exceeding any human populations in the wider Flanaess.

    In my earlier posts, I referred to "savages" primarily because of the annotation on the Darlene maps but also to critique the colonialism and racism expressed by that view—which, to be clear, I don't attribute to Gygax or Darlene but instead understand as included in the boxed set to represent how "civilized" peoples of the Flanaess (i.e., the cartographers of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy) viewed the "green chaos" of the southern jungles.

    Wolfling wrote:
    That being said, aren't the current Olman going through a bit of a dark age after the collapse of their empire? I need to re-read what happened after the collapse of other empires, like in Dark Ages Britain for example, but I don't think anyone collapsed into complete savagery!

    That's another of the fundamental questions in my view. According to SKR / tSB, yes: only Xamaclan presents an "intact" Olman civilization of the Amedio Jungle, but as many of us have discussed in prior years, this view seems objectionable for replicating colonialist / racist discourse and reducing the Olman in the Amedio Jungle to inhabitants of ruins that PCs might possibly "discover," conquer, etc. Thus, for my campaign, even if I use part of tSB's version of the Amedio Jungle, I want to place that "dark age" further in the past, or alternatively, I want to do something creative with the centuries since "the" Olman Empire disintegrated. In particular, I want to incorporate the ongoing exploration, fighting, and trading of the peoples west of Xamaclan, the Toli and Rholan Suel (per Samwise) in their centurial conflict, the Touv, people of the Pearl Sea, etc. vis-à-vis the Olman, as well as the more recent interactions engendered by the Duke of Monmurg and the Sea Princes.
    CF Admin

    Joined: Jul 28, 2001
    Posts: 672
    From: on the way to Bellport

    Send private message
    Sat Apr 22, 2023 8:35 pm  

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    I see no reason not to assume that the "current" Olman pantheon is the same one they've always worshipped. I generally don't like adapting gods from real pantheons and mythologies, but when you have the likes of Charon ferrying people in the lower planes and Orcus hatching evil schemes in the Abyss I suppose I can live with it in the Olman's case.

    Exactly. And it gives us this lovely mix of contradictions with which to play.

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Even in canon materials, the alignments of the Mesoamerican/Olman gods are all over the map. Here's a summary typed up by rasgon back in 2011:

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=4488

    Thanks for this! I missed your'all's original discussion, found it in my search of the forums, and have just reread it. (More on that later.)

    Wolfling wrote:
    That being said, aren't the current Olman going through a bit of a dark age after the collapse of their empire? I need to re-read what happened after the collapse of other empires, like in Dark Ages Britain for example, but I don't think anyone collapsed into complete savagery!

    Something I meant to include in my prior post regarding Wolfling's point about the "Dark Ages," derives from one of the Very Short Introduction book that I've mentioned earlier in this post.

    In The Middle Ages (2014), Miri Rubin uses the first five or so pages to critique the idea of an "age" for failing "to capture the fact that we are dealing with a vast territory over a long period in constant transformation." Id. at 1. Moreover, the people whom we've come to identify as Italian humanists of the Renaissance were the ones who coined and/or popularized phrases like the "Middle Ages" and "Dark Ages" to distinguish their aspirations and self-understanding and to deprecate the (relatively recent) past. See id. at 4–6.

    CruelSummerLord wrote:
    Ma'non'go would likely reply that the peoples of the Flanaess are going through a dark age of their own, citing the decay and collapse of the Great Kingdom, the rise of Iuz, the conquests of the Pomarj and Bone March by humanoids, and the many dungeons, ruins and abandoned cities littering the Flanaess. Obviously, there are abandoned temples and cities in Hepmonaland like the shrine at Tamoachan and the Forbidden City of the Pelisso Swamps, but that just means Hepmonaland and the Flanaess aren't all that different.

    LOL. It would make sense for the rise and fall of House Naelex to be understood by future historians of Aerdy to be a dark age, and this also reminds me of the Great Slumbering in Keoland, along with Erik Mona's old AOL folder (and later) posts about humanism emerging from Urnst and QSamantha's chivalric Keoland.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 26, 2002
    Posts: 541
    From: Canada

    Send private message
    Fri Apr 28, 2023 5:21 pm  

    mtg wrote:
    Responding to various posts.

    I hear you and appreciate the history you're evoking regarding the Germanic peoples / tribes. Still, the essay is worth reading. A choice point I recall from the Mendez Hodes essay, why did Anglo–American wartime propaganda and rhetoric refer to Germans as "the Hun?"

    At the same time, as one of my players—who's the kind of Tolkien fan who has literally read everything published by Tolkien and his son—highlights, Tolkien was expressly anti-Nazi.

    Ultimately, all of our imaginations refract the contradictions of our cultures, socialization, and times.


    This may just be me and others like me reading too much into things, but reading essays about 'decolonizing' one's game or orcs being 'the Other', I've always felt an undercurrent of moral judgement, in that the writer is implying that my wanting orcs to generally be evil means I support Jim Crow laws, the enslavement of Black people, the horrors of the Americas' colonization, etc.

    That's infuriating for obvious reasons, and it leaves out the possibility that I may see the orcs and other humanoid monsters as more akin to European barbarians and colonists than Mongols, sub-Saharan Africans or what have you.

    mtg wrote:
    Thanks for articulating this insight. I've never seen it made so succinctly and am going to have to reflect on it.


    I've just never found the whole "orcs=POC" argument convincing, particularly when Tolkien's works can be seen at least as much a criticism of industrialization and what he saw as its dehumanizing effects as anything else. Michael Moorcock, for one, criticized LOTR for what he saw as its class snobbery. And some British fantasy has depicted orcs as having Cockney accents,which would be seen more as a depiction of the English working class "football hooligans" than anyone from Africa or Asia.

    Another benefit to spreading the humanoids around the world is that it helps break the association between them and racialized peoples. The heroes protecting their innocent kin from orcs and other monsters can just as easily have black or brown skin, and their societies can be based on medieval Axum, the Umayyad Caliphate or Great Zimbabwe.

    mtg wrote:
    Prior to this round of the conversation, I've assumed that Olman peoples are more like the Flannae, Touv, etc. and less like the Rhennee, but it's worth pondering. In our various Alternate Oerths, did some Earthly Mesoamerican peoples travel on the Warden II? If so, did their ship utilize some kind of gate between far-future Earth (when/where the ship was constructed) and long-ago Oerth and (perhaps with time travel to a moment on Earth before Spanish "discovery" and colonization of present-day México) somehow give the gods of the Aztec and Mayan peoples a way / route to contact the Olman peoples? Or, did something entirely different transpire?

    With Earth ≠ Oerth as a guide, yet also with the idea that they are alternate Prime Material Planes of each other, I tend to prefer having the Olman peoples be original to Oerth rather than "immigrants" (like the Rhennee). And, following from that, I prefer the Olman to have their own, indigenous, pantheon, but Wolfling's version, which mixes Flannae and Touv peoples, intrigues me in part because of the Touv Sun Stone and its deific benefactors (e.g., Katay, Xanang, Uvot, etc.).

    But, I'm not against having Earthly "cousins" of the Olman come to Oerth from time to time, say once every thousand (or so) years, and I'm similarly intrigued by time-and-space sojourns, including by the Warden II.


    If it works for you, great, but it involves jumping through too many hoops to really be worthwhile for me, not to mention I'm leery of those kinds of outside technological influences and I find time travel a pain in the butt both as a writer and a viewer ("Tenet" was two and a half hours and forty bucks I really wish I could have back).

    I completely missed the whole 'Il-Nedraw" reference when I first read the Hidden Shrine module. I just assumed the little "ship" was an example of the Olman's own engineering prowess, some kind of toy or other amusing trinket. I still prefer that interpretation-as somebody who completely reimagined the City of the Gods in Blackmoor, suffice to say that maintaining Oerth's medieval stasis is something I take very, very seriously.
    Display posts from previous:   
       Canonfire Forum Index -> World of Greyhawk Discussion All times are GMT - 8 Hours
    Page 1 of 1

    Jump to:  

    You cannot post new topics in this forum
    You cannot reply to topics in this forum
    You cannot edit your posts in this forum
    You cannot delete your posts in this forum
    You cannot vote in polls in this forum




    Canonfire! is a production of the Thursday Group in assocation with GREYtalk and Canonfire! Enterprises

    Contact the Webmaster.  Long Live Spidasa!


    Greyhawk Gothic Font by Darlene Pekul is used under the Creative Commons License.

    PHP-Nuke Copyright © 2005 by Francisco Burzi. This is free software, and you may redistribute it under the GPL. PHP-Nuke comes with absolutely no warranty, for details, see the license.
    Page Generation: 0.36 Seconds