Obsidian and Sacrifice
To the south-east of the Outer Continent, Fallen Sun, there is an archipeligo of islands ruled by a human culture called the Ajamec.
The Ajamec are a warlike race ruled by their Shakchatl (High King) and the Aishuchakchatl (High Priest). The Ajamec maintain a fragile supremacy over many smaller tribes that live on their islands such as the Axtatec in the south, the Yaximec in the east and the Gatlatec in the central highlands. There are many other smaller tribes, some, such as the Datec, almost extinct with seven surviving members. There are also a huge underclass of "tribeless" people who have either been displaced from their original tribes or come from outside as a result of war or slave trading. These are known as the Zetec.
The Shakchatl and the Aishuchakchatl are both hereditory positions with considerable overlap in duties, resulting in a constant power struggle. This usually involves politicking but can lead to poisoning, assassination and outright civil war. Taking prisoners is considered a measure of a warrior's worth; the more prisoners taken, the greater the prestige. Prisoners are either used as slaves or as sacrifices to the gods. The Ajamec have a god for every day of the year, and each must be appeased with human sacrifice. Due to the deeply felt nature of Ajamec religion, quite often those chosen for sacrifice offer themselves willingly for a great honour but more often captured slaves are used.
The sapphire in the crown of Ajamec culture is Nataldayaronajumananec ("The Place Where Natal Took A Tribe"), normally shortened to Nataldaya. Natal is the legendary hero-founder of Ajamec culture, sometimes worshipped seperately from the year-gods but not always requiring sacrifice.
Nataldaya is in a large depression on the western edge of the central island and is a trading hub not only within the archipeligo but with traders from Fallen Sun and elsewhere. Common visitors are from Dar a'Droaz or Ptorac traders, both of whom are happy to trade slaves for precious minerals. Nataldaya has quarters for traders, workers and warriors and, in the centre, is the great Akchatl, the huge pyramidal structure dedicated to the gods, where the daily sacrifices take place. Within the Akchatl are mazes of corridors leading to minor shrines, priests' quarters and, of course, the slave pens.
An obvious adventure involving the Ajamec would be to rescue a slave destined for sacrifice (and more ambitiously, all slaves destined for sacrifice). Other more complex scenarios can derive from the recent contact with Fallen Sun by the Merchants League and the arrival of iron. The Ajamec trade obsidian for slaves, but to the other people of Fallen Sun, the new iron is a much better material, and the price charged by the Merchants League is a less disagreeable one. There are some, such as the pirate lords of Dar a'Droaz and the mysterious reptilian Ptorac people, however, who would prefer the trade to continue. How this pans out, and what part the player characters play in the situation, is down to the individual gamesmaster.
With over 360 gods the Ajamec priesthood is a varied, heterogeneous group and few priests worship one god over any others (there have been attempts in Ajamec's past to raise one supreme god, notoriously the priesthood of Javacatl the Sun-Bull about fifty years ago, and recurring pockets of Natal-worship) but generally all the year gods are considered equal. Some acolytes, however, are given duties to care for a specific shrine; this usually amounts to getting rid of corpses. Most Ajamec priests with levels of cleric tend towards generalist priests. Domains are typically chosen from Community, Nobility, Repose (or Death), Sun and Weather, but any domain may be chosen.
The main weapon of the ajamec is an obsidian-edged club similar to a macahuitl and should be treated in game statistics as a battleaxe. A double handed version also exists (use greataxe statistics). These weapons are sharp and deadly, the main drawback being that obsidian is a more brittle material compared to good quality Imperial steel. One way to mimic this is to have the weapon lose some of its teeth on an attack roll of a "natural one". This leaves it at -2 to hit. If this happens again to an already damaged obsidian weapon, the weapon becomes usable as a club only, and must be repaired. Attempts to sunder obsidian weapons gain a +2 bonus to the check.
Imperial scholars refer to obsidian as Black Jade and believe it to have been formed by the blood of the Northern Sun as he fell to earth, bleeding, after the Time of Four Suns. It may have an affinity to fiery magic due to its origins, so magical obsidian weapons are most likely to have flaming and flaming burst properties, but are not limited to these effects.
(c) 2012 The Creative Conclave.