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Pixel

Archduke
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[BoP: The Fifth Sun]
Praise the Sun!
Introduction: Setting the Scene and Gameplay

Welcome to Balance of Power: The Fifth Sun. Just like any other BoP on Taleworlds it's a mechanics-based geopolitical game where players compete against each other to establish hegemony or just to be more successful at something than everyone else. This time, BoP travels to the world of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, starting in the year 1426 AD on the Christian calendar or 12 Rabbit on that of the Mexica.

The game map spans from the cacti forests and shrubland of the Sonora, the world's wettest desert, where severe drought has nonetheless forced large migrations southward...
to the vibrant urban landscape of the Basin of Mexico, where an empire is on the verge of collapse before it has even been born...
to the riverless, sinkhole-pocked lowland savannas of the Yucatan, where a centuries-old but decaying Cocom authority has kept the peace...
to the lofty drylands, pine forests, and sheer escarpments of Oaxaca, where dynastic conflicts engulf a region once united...
to the volcanic soils and lakes of Central America, where brave pioneers build new cities at the edge of the known world...

All this diversity I saw firsthand when I drove through Mexico to Guatemala and back last Spring. During the course of this adventure I was witness to many remnants of Mesoamerican civilization. I ascended to the top of many pyramids and stood in the shadow of dozens more. I visited numerous museums and in my downtime read relevant books. Even before that trip, however, I have long been enamored with this lost world, and researching it has been a source of endless fascination. Most of this passion has been channeled into this BoP over the past year and a half. It's been a labor of love and even monetary investment to reconstruct the Late Postclassic Mesoamerican world and present it in a compelling, accessible way. Indeed, on a forum where most BoPs launch after just two to three weeks of prep time, The Fifth Sun has been in the oven for just over 18 months. It is my hope that despite the obscurity and strangeness of the setting that my players will see the great potential Ancient Mexico has as a BoP setting.

As a result of this obscurity as well as the depth to cover, however, I am skipping the usual BoP process of making a sign-up thread before the main thread. There's just a lot to introduce you to and basically none of it is on Wikipedia. Once signups are closed, please be ready to delete your posts.

Setting:
Welcome to Mesoamerica!
"Main menu" music
The world as we know it is changing. Over the last two centuries, famine, warfare, and ensuing migrations throughout the region have toppled the great "Toltec" dynasties that inherited the wealth and prestige of the Classic period. In their ashes a new world order is being championed by upstart cities, dynasties, and peoples. Population density has increased dramatically - 25 million people now dwell in the thousands of well-organized cities that pepper the landscape from Lake Patzcuaro to Lake Cocibolca. The collapse of the great theocratic priestly states of the Classic period has ushered in an era of power concentrated in the warrior aristocracy. The breakdown of timeless monopolies has allowed for the rise of a powerful and mobile urban class of merchants, that have brought all corners of Mesoamerica closer together than ever before. Our world is now interconnected and interdependent as never believed possible. Metals from West Mexico and spondylus from the Pacific Coast make their way to the Yucatan peninsula and the Maya cities of the lowlands. Expeditions take to the seas and make for the coasts of Cuba and distant Colombia in search of exotic goods, while indirect trade resumes with desert farmers to the north and the occasional visitors from the far south.

With new luxuries and wealth procured from places more distant than ever before in Mesoamerican history, and booming population driven by intensified and more technologically advanced agriculture, Mesoamerica is experiencing yet another golden age: The Post-Classic Renaissance. But this time, the light of Mesoamerican civilization will soar higher than ever before, than the wildest dreams of even the rulers of ancient Teotihuacan, the giant on whose shoulders we now stand. The petty city-states that dominate the political landscape of Mesoamerica fight over control of trade routes and fertile lands as they always have. But now, the stakes, and thus both the rewards and risks of empire-building are greater than ever. Meanwhile, new language-transcending forms of writing and iconography, no longer reserved solely for the elite, accompany a flourishing of the arts and sciences in cities like Tenochtitlan, Tetzcoco, Cuilapan, Tzintzuntzan, Tizatlan, and Cholula. A Post-Classic Renaissance is well underway, flowing out of several core zones, and among its progeny are cultures that stand together with the most sophisticated and urbanized that the world has ever seen. We have built a civilization the equal of any of our counterparts across the Celestial Seas, east or west.

This world has been all but totally annihilated, a human tragedy of unparalleled magnitude. Its achievements, despite the best efforts of their conquerors, have slowly revealed themselves in research breakthrough after breakthrough. This BoP is, aside from a forum game, a love letter to an entire world that no longer exists, and in doing so attempts to portray the Mesoamerican world as they would have seen it, to our best understanding of how this perspective would have been. If history is written by the victors, let this be a tribute to those who lost.

Gameplay: What to expect
The Fifth Sun differs from other BoPs in a major way due to the relative power symmetry at the start of the game. The region is currently in an ‘interregnum’ of sorts, with no especially large empires unifying the area (as Teotihuacan did to a degree in the past). Most playable countries start out relatively small, and even those "majors" are more like regional powers. But given time, fortune, and wit, anyone can grow into large states or empires. This is in contrast to most BoPs, where there are a couple (or many) major powers already in place that other players have to placate or eventually align with. In less than one hundred years historically, this changes dramatically as Mesoamerica is soon divided between several hegemonic spheres of influence, but this outcome is by no means railroaded.

To facilitate this, turns will not be one season or one year as is often standard in pre-industrial BoP settings, but four years. The longer period of time covered each turn means that players may have to contend with the complications of succession and other dynastic issues and more long-term changes in society may be more realistically modeled. Players will actually have to contend with the long-term consequences of their actions. At some point (as yet undecided) turns will switch to two years each.

Mesoamerica offers plenty of opportunity for players to focus on nation-building, culture, internal politics, trade, even technology and exploration - but the primary focus of the bop as a whole (and probably most bops, to be honest) is warfare and statecraft. Whatever goals the player may have in mind, a variety of tools exist to make them reality.

Unlike other BoPs, the player is in control of their ruler and his dynasty. CK2-like rules apply where you aren’t dead until your dynasty is gone, even if your city is conquered (in which case you are likely to remain in power so long as you pay tribute and such things). So it’s hard to be game over’d, since worst case scenario you can often flee into exile and make allies to get your throne back. A pretty common thing in Mesoamerican history.

That said, it is a ruthless world, and your survival is far from guaranteed.

Players
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Green = Completed!
Yellow = Report about halfway done
Orange = Number crunching done
Red = Haven't started yet
Host deadline is May 5th.
Captured Joe - Cholula (Aztec, Central Mexico)
Fredelios - Tlaxcallan* (Aztec, Central Mexico)

JudgeAlfred - Yucu Dzaa* (Mixtec, Oaxaca)
Ivelios - Yopitzinco (Tlapanec, Oaxaca)
Horrorluv - Za'achila (Zapotec, Oaxaca)

SotoElTerremoto - Ozuluama (Huastec, Gulf Coast)
Doomykins - Ndachjian (Chocho, Gulf Coast)
CleverMoe - Cempoallan (Totonac, Gulf Coast)

Arch3r - K'iche'* (Maya, Guatemala Highlands)
ThesaurusRex - Kushkatan (Pipil, El Salvador)

ComradeCrimson - Chactemal (Maya, Yucatan Peninsula)
TitanToe - Acalan-Tixchel (Maya, Yucatan Peninsula)
Draorn - Cocom* (Maya, Yucatan Peninsula)

Crassius Curio - Tzintzuntzan* (Purepecha, West Mexico)
Dago - Acoliman (Otomi, West Mexico)
Murtox - Zacatollan (Chumbia, West Mexico)

Monty - Tayasal Itza (Maya, the Peten, Guatemala)
Alma - Yax Mutal (Maya, the Peten, Guatemala)

Grimmend - Chiametla (Totoram, Northwest Mexico)
Delora Filth - Tlacuitlapan (Zacateca, Northwest Mexico)

Iacobus - Teotihuacan (Aztec, Basin of Mexico)
AdmiralThrawn - Tenochtitlan (Aztec, Basin of Mexico)

Want to be listed here? Once you feel comfortable picking someone to play, follow the usual BoP Application format:
Code:
1. Your #1 preferred choice
2. #2 preferred choice
3. #3 preferred choice

Previous BoP Experience: (N/A is perfectly fine!)
Background knowledge of Mesoamerica: (N/A is perfectly fine!)

Please do not sign up if you cannot commit to the game. There will be no extensions on deadlines in this BoP.

Globals
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Links to all current globals will be here.
Turn 1 1426-1430
Turn 2 1430-1434

Credits
This BoP would not be possible without the enormous contributions made by others.
Almalexia - Contributed a lot of research with her own money and time, together with a shared passion for the ancient Americas that helped motivate me, and offered criticism and perspectives on sketchier sources I may have otherwise thought to rely on. Gave feedback on game mechanics as well. Also literally went to Mexico and Guatemala with me. Like what a sista.
MU (Mesoamerica Universalis mod for Eu4) development team - Graciously allowed me to use their artwork, including most importantly their hand-painted terrain and topography maps and flags. Their mod itself has been a valuable source in resolving contradictions between sources (as they used a lot of the same ones) and saved me probably hundreds of manhours in guesswork and cross-referencing. Their mod also showed me that Mesoamerica could be an interesting and dynamic setting for a game in the first place.
u/Mictlantecuhtli, aka Tlallolotl on tumblr, aka Anthony DeLuca - An archaeologist working in Jalisco, Mexico. Went out of his way to give me hundreds of dollars worth of academic articles in PDF form for free, and pointed me in the right direction to learn more about what is possibly the most underappreciated region of the map. I am forever indebted to him.
ComradeCrimson - artwork done specifically for the BoP
JudgeAlfred - Made gameplay suggestions and improvements, helped with overhauling the game map to make it more aesthetically pleasing and legible in its later iterations
Curio - ****posted all over my mechanics brainstorming doc Gave feedback on map and mechanics, also made a couple icons
Charles C. Mann - whose monumental work 1491 - if slightly outdated these days - rekindled and drove my passion and curiosity for the Pre-Columbian world, as it has in many others.
My friend Mark - for inspiring the obsession with Mesoamerica that began all those years ago.
My friend Moe - for the artwork he did specifically for the BoP.
The people of Mexico - (Majoritably) the descendants of those who built these amazing cities and civilizations. They were always friendly and made bomb-ass food.

Sources
This BoP would not be possible without the numerous Mesoamericanist scholars who have, since the 19th century, dedicated their careers to the collection of the enormous yet growing and ever-changing pool of knowledge on this time and place. In particular this BoP drew upon the literature of these scholars which includes primary sources from the 16th century as well as pre-Columbian times, history books, and archaeological articles as well as a diverse collection of tertiary sources.
Books
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War and Society in Ancient Mesoamerica by Ross Hassig (1992)
1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann (2006)
Kukulkan's Realm: Urban Life at Ancient Mayapaan by Marilyn Masson
Aztec Archaeology and Ethnohistory by Francis Berdan
Aztec Imperial Strategies by Francis Berdan et al.
The Kowoj by Prudence Rice and Don Rice
The Political Geography of the Yucatan Maya by Ralph Roys
The Quiche Mayas of Utatlan by Robert Carmack
The Chontal Mayas of Acalan-Tixchel by France V. Scholes and Ralph L. Roys
Ancient Zapotec Religion by Michael Lind
Aztec, Mixtec, and Zapotec Armies by John Pohl
Aztec Warfare: Imperial Expansion and Political Control by Ross Hassig
Trade, Tribute, and Transportation by Ross Hassig
The Aztecs by Richard F. Townsend
The Kowoj: Identity, Migration, and Geopolitics in Late Postclassic Peten, Guatemala by Prudence and Don Rice
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures by David Carrasco
The Postclassic Mesoamerican World by Michael Smith et al
Tariacuri's Legacy: the Prehispanic Tarascan State by Helen Pollard
The Tarascan Civilization: A Late Prehispanic Cultural System by Shirley Gorenstein and Helen Pollard
La Relacion de Michoacan, Craine and Reindorp translation
Greater Mesoamerica: the Archaeology of West and Northwest Mexico by Michael Foster and Shirley Gorenstein et al
Mixtecs, Zapotecs, and Chatinos: Ancient Peoples of Southern Mexico by Arthur Joyce
The Mixtecs of Oaxaca: Ancient Times to the Present by Andrew Balkansky and Ronald Spores
The Annals of the Kaqchikels and the Title of the Lords of Totonicapan, Recinos and Goetz translation
The Native Population of the Americas in 1492 edited by William Denevan
In the Realm of Nachan-Kan: Postclassic Maya Archaeology at Laguna de Oro, Belize
Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs by Michael Coe
The Huasteca: Culture, History, and Interregional Exchange by Katherine Faust
Prehistoric Warfare in the American Southwest by Stephen A. Leblanc
The Basin of Mexico: Ecological Processes in the Evolution of a Civilization by William T Sanders et. al.
The Historical Demography of Highland Guatemala by Robert M. Carmack
A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya by Linda Schele and David Freidel (1990)
Memoirs of Bernal Diaz del Castillo by himself
Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest by Matthew Restall

Articles
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Archaeological Investigations in the Rio Sahuaripa Region of Eastern Sonora, Mexico by Dr John Carpenter (Apr 2015)
Isla Agaltepec: Postclassic Occupation in the Tuxtla Mountains, Veracruz, Mexico by Philip J Arnold III
On the external relations of Purepecha: An investigation into classification, contact, and patterns of word formation by Kate Rosalind Bellany
The Political Geography of the Sixteenth Century Yucatan Maya: Comments and Revisions by Anthony P Andrews
Late Postclassic Lowland Maya Archaeology by Anthony P Andrews
Relacion de Zacatula published by R.H. Barlow (Spanish, original 1580)
Causes and Consequences of Migration in Epiclassic Northern Mesoamerica: Toward a Unifying Theory of Ancient and Contemporary Migrations by Christopher S. Beekman
Rethinking Anthropological Perspectives on Migration edited by Graciela S. Cabana and Jeffery J. Clark (2011)
An Historical Sketch of Geography and Anthropology in the Tarascan Region: Part 1 by Donald D. Brand (1943)
Cranial Surgery in Ancient Mesoamerica by Dr. Vera Tiesler Blos
The Tula-Chichen-Tollan Connection by Anthony DeLuca (Apr 2019)
Egalitarian Ideology and Political Power in Prehispanic Central Mexico: The Case of Tlaxcallan by Lane F. Fargher, Richard E. Blanton and Verenice Y. Heredia Espinoza
Tlaxcallan: The Archaeology of an Ancient Republic in the New World by Lane F. Fargher, Richard E. Blanton and Verenice Y. Heredia Espinoza
On the Rise and Fall of Tulans and Maya Segmentary States by John W. Fox (1989)
Aztec Teotihuacan: Political Processes at a Postclassic and Early Colonial City-State in the Basin of Mexico by Christopher P. Garraty (2006)
Tetzcoco in the early 16th century: the state, the city, and the calpolli by Frederic Hicks (1982)
Eastern Chajoma (Cakchiquel) Political Geography: Ethnohistorical and Archaeological Contributions to the study of a Late Postclassic highland Maya polity by Robert M Hill II and Robert M Hill III (1996)
Lord 8 Deer "Jaguar Claw" and the Land of the Sky: The Archaeology and History of Tututepec by Arthur A. Joyce et. al
Native Yucatan and Spanish Influence: The Archaeology and History of Chikinchel by Susan Kepecs (1997)
The Olmec Legacy: Cultural Continuity and Change in Mexico's Southern Gulf Coast Lowlands by Killion and Urcid (2001)
Negotiating Political Economy at Late Postclassic Tututepec (Yucu Dzaa), Oaxaca, Mexico by Marc N. Levine (2011)
The Sixteenth-Century Pokom-Maya: A Documentary Analysis of Social Structure and Archaeological Setting by S.W. Miles (1957)
Chiconautla, Mexico: A Crossroads of Aztec Trade and Politics by Nichols et al. (2009)
Current Research on the Gulf Coast of Mexico by Christopher A. Pool (2006)
The Contact Period of Central Peten, Guatemala in color by Pugh and Cecil (2012)
Tututepec: A Postclassic-period Mixtec conquest state by Ronald Spores (1993)
A Typology of Ancient Purepecha (Tarascan) Architecture from Angamuco, Michoacan, Mexico by Christopher T. Fisher et al. (2019)
Huichol Society before the Arrival of the Spanish by Weigand and Weigand (2000)
Public Health in Aztec Society by Herbert R. Harvey, Ph.D. (1981)
The Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Utatlan: A Conjunctive Approach by Robert Carmack and John Weeks
Aztec Merchants and Markets: Local-Level Economic Activity in a Non-Industrial Empire by Frances F Berdan
Aztec Music Culture by Arnd Adje Both
Costume and Control: Aztec Sumptuary Laws by Patricia Anawalt
The Famine of One Rabbit: Ecological Causes and Social Consequences of a Pre-Columbian Calamity by Ross Hassig
Prehispanic Colonization of the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico by Linda Nicholas, Gary Feinman, Stephen A. Kowalewski, Richard E. Blanton, and Laura Finsten
The Last Quarter Century of Archaeological Research in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca by Gary M. Feinman
Recent Research in Western Mexican Archaeology by Christopher S. Beekman
West Mexican Metallurgy: Revisited and Revised by Dorothy Hosler
The Major Gods of Ancient Yucatan by Karl Taube
Copper Sources, Metal Production, and Metals Trade in Late Postclassic Mesoamerica by Dorothy Hosler and Andrew Macfarlane
The Study of North Mesoamerican Place-Signs by Gordon Whittaker


Tertiary sources
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r/AskHistorians posts
AztlanHistorian (youtuber and deviantartist) maps and videos
Kamazotz (deviantartist from Mexico with galleries of Mesoamerican art accompanied by detailed, sourced explanations)
Numerous museum exhibits and ancient ruins' sites I visited while in Mexico and Guatemala
Mesoamerica Universalis mod for Eu4 (which used a lot of the same sources above, and so was often used to help settle contradictions between sources)
Mexicolore articles and essays
Wikipedia (English and Spanish)

Patreon
BoP hosting is a hobby I'm very passionate about and will happily do for free as I always have. The truth is though that running a BoP to the quality that I seek to achieve and maintain is a tremendous amount of work and time, enough to basically be another part-time job in itself.

If my effort seems to be worth it to you, maybe you could consider donating to my patreon. No, there's no ingame perks, BoP isn't becoming pay-to-win. But it is added incentive for me to work on the game and keep it going long into the future, and the money can go towards the 'BoP Host Fuel' aka the snacks and drinks I consume copious amounts of while processing a turn. It may even occasionally go towards new books or research articles on Mesoamerica which can fill the game with more detail and life - yes, even with all the sources listed in the OP, there's still gaps!
I'm in to run BoP: The Fifth Sun for the long haul either way. Maybe beat Serva's record. But even just one or two dollars worth' from even just half of you would go a long way towards that.


Map, regions, countries
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1. Coatlan
2. Panchimalco
3. Mezquitlan
4. Oztutlan
5. Pungari Hoato
6. Yucundiachi
7. Chimalco
8. Ocuitoco
9. Yauhtepec
10. Quauhquechollan
11. Temazcalapan
12. Tlapacoyan
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Trade goods at each entrepot can be found here: https://pastebin.com/X6kuDNq2
Religion map (WIP)
The Map
  • The demarcations of borders and such do not represent provinces of one empire, but entire kingdoms and city-states, most of which are fully independent. Grey areas are unplayable. Your armies, merchants, and characters can move about the map more or less freely - there is no need to ask for access unless a player has specifically mandated his borders patrolled. There are about 630 playable polities.
  • Each country on the map has a dominant culture, and based on this dominant culture it is color-coded and assigned a culture bonus. There are many cultures and minority groups which historically lived aside from those on the map, but for simplicity's sake, places are assigned a culture based on the ethnicity of the ruling class, rather than the majority population (though minor cultures may still be listed under the region). Keep this in mind as on the borders of two different cultures there can be and often are populations from other groups living there. Aside from culture bonuses, cultures also interact with each other. People of other cultures are harder to conquer and assimilate, and for a time at least they will provide less manpower and tribute for you. In addition to their starting culture bonuses, a player earns the second part of their ability after achieving Empire centralization.
  • The lighter color of each culture zone designates the less organized or settled peoples that belong to that culture in comparison to the cities and kingdoms of the same culture, shown in the darker shade. Countries with a centralization level of either Seminomadic or Simple Farmers will be shown this way.
  • All underlined countries are my recommendations and are all interesting choices that I have a lot of historical references for.
 
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Pixel

Archduke
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Country/Region Descriptions

Given the relative obscurity of this setting, I will try to paint a picture of what's going on and suggest some good choices.

Now let's break down the political situation of the game region by region. This should at least spark some curiosity in the countries and cultures of that region. Notable playable countries will be mentioned also. If nothing else, this should help you be able to ask Pixel questions about who you want to play.
Time and time again, Central Mexico has given birth to some of Mesoamerica's most complex cultures, the cores of which always laid in the Basin of Mexico, thanks to the very high carrying capacity of the shores of Lake Texcoco. Over the course of the last five centuries, there have been successive waves of Uto-Aztecan migrants from the north, displacing the original inhabitants (the Otomi, Totonacs, and Matlatzinca) from the region. The most recent of these migrations, arriving in the Basin in the late 13th century, includes the Mexica people - who would one day give the region, and thus the modern country of Mexico, its name.

A struggle for power over the rich resources of the Basin lead to incessant warfare among the upstart city-states of the lake, but in recent decades the Tepanecs have emerged victorious. King Tezozomoc completed the conquest of the valley in his 80s when he finally added the kingdom of Texcoco to his domain, after that kingdom put up a stalwart resistance for decades that was only broken with the aid of the Tepanecs' new mercenaries, the Mexica, people of Tenochtitlan, who were awarded the lands of Texcoco for their loyalty. Yet the king of Texcoco, Nezahualcoyotl, has escaped through the mountain pass of Itztapollocan and granted exile in the court of the king of Huexotzingo.

Shortly after he had completed his life mission, Tezozomoc's advanced age got the better of him, and he passed away naming Tayatzin his heir. But Tayatzin's younger half-brother, Maxtla, ruler of the Tepanec province of Coyoacan, has usurped the throne of Tepanecapan for himself, ousting Tayatzin into exile in Tenochtitlan. Suspicious of the Mexica his predecessor employed as mercenaries and afraid of their growing power and influence, Maxtla ordered the ruler of the Mexica, Chimalpopoca, assassinated. Chimalpopoca died, stoned to death while canoeing, but the Mexica nobility caught wind of Maxtla's intentions from Tayatzin, and elected Itzcoatl their new tlatoani. Maxtla has effectively declared war on the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, but the succession crisis his usurpation has created threatens to dismantle the Tepanec empire as its vassals find themselves choosing sides.

An enterprising player could choose to play as the Mexica, and lead Tenochtitlan, together with its future allies, to vanquish the Tepanec empire and establish the Aztec in its place. Alternatively, one could divert history, and play as Azcapotzalco - maintain your alliances, defeat the Mexica, and expand the Tepanec domain beyond the valley. An ambitious sort may be interested in the exiled king of Texcoco, Nezahualcoyotl - historically the Mexica invited him back to rule Texcoco provided he assist them against the Tepanecs. Texcoco later became an important member of the Aztec Triple Alliance. But this is not the only course available to him.

Other important cities of the basin may have an important role to play in the coming conflict. Tlacopan foremost among them, as the third party of the Aztec alliance. Tlatelolco is not to be overlooked, as its bustling market is the trade hub of the entire valley. The powerful and wealthy confederation of Chalco's fierce resistance against Tepanec expansion is not forgotten, and its later, equally stubborn struggle against the Aztecs is foretold. Xochimilco, the inventors of the chinampa and what would one day be called the "tortilla basket of the Aztec empire" would be wise to make a play soon, to safeguard its coveted milpas from the eyes of yet another empire. Meanwhile, an ancient city rises from the ashes in Teotihuacan, resettled under Tepanec orders by a colony of Acolhua. At one time the 6th largest city on Earth, Teotihuacan may once again rise to prominence should it effectively seize the opportunity the Tepaneca Wars present.

Just beyond the mountains that enclose the valley of Anahuac, two of Mexico's mightiest rivers - the Balsas and the Lerma - carve high valleys through the central plateau. Terraces and irrigated milpas support a population of just under 5 million and make for a densely populated urban landscape. Most exemplary of this is the realm of Cuauhnahuac, the most populous kingdom of this region. Sitting atop a fortune in cotton fields, its wealthy kings maintained their independence from the imperious ambitions of Tepanecapan, and are well-positioned to have ambitions of their own. To the northeast, the largest and most successful Mesoamerican experiment in republicanism takes place in the confederation of Tlaxcallan, ruled not by kings or priests, but by a meritocratic institution of senators elected by assembly - indeed where palaces may otherwise sit upon the elevated platforms of Tizatlan's streets instead lay assembly halls and plazas. Meanwhile, the neighboring kingdom of Huexotzingo, sometime-ally sometime-enemy of Tlaxcallan, has taken in the exiled ruler of Texcoco, Nezahualcoyotl, and watches the drama play out in the valley of Anahuac with keen and worrisome eyes.

Between them lays the city-state of Cholollan, one of Mesoamerica's most ancient cities still standing. At present, it is Mesoamerica's largest city by population, and boasts the enormous Great Pyramid of Cholula, known to the Mexica as the Tlachihualtepetl, hand-made mountain, said to have been built during the time of the First Sun by giants. The largest pyramid on Earth by volume, it is dedicated to the ancient patron of Cholollan and indeed all humankind: Quetzalcoatl himself. Kings from every corner of Mesoamerica travel to Cholollan to be coronated and legitimized by the priests here.

The original inhabitants of this rich region before the arrival of the Uto-Aztecans boast a sophisticated city-state culture going back at least to the days of the Empire of Teotihuacan, but have since been pushed to somewhat more marginal lands by the surge of migrants. The biggest exception is the Toluca Valley, where the Matlatzinca culture thrives, especially the kingdom of Tolucan, whose defensible terrain afforded it protection from Tepanecapan.
Oaxaca is home to among the most ancient civilizations of this ancient land, most notably the Zapotecs and Mixtecs. Their achievements are many. They are inventors of amatl paper, and the improved version of the Epiolmec writing system they use to write on it. Civilization here is situated in high, semi-arid valleys, with long, rainless dry seasons and frequent plant desiccation. The largest area of flat arable land, the Valley of Oaxaca itself and the site of Oaxaca’s most notable cities including the venerable Danibeedza, is just 700 square kilometers in area. Irrigation techniques included the digging of wells to irrigate fields and the use of dams and canals to divert floodwaters from drainages. In the highlands, especially the Mixteca Alta, severe erosion has been a problem faced by farmers for thousands of years. The construction of hillside terracing systems using stone retaining walls was the most common soil conservation technique, and is still used today. Another technique refers to the ‘lama-bordo’ (in Mixtec: coo yuu) gully terrace system, particularly used in the Nochixtlan valley. The lama bordo involved the construction of a series of stone and rubble dykes, generally between 1 and 4 meters in height and up to 200 meters long, in gullies descending hillslopes. The fertile red clays of the Yanhuitlan beds that eroded into these gullies from the slopes above were then trapped by the retaining walls creating flat surfaces supporting productive agriculture.

Thanks to this effort of ecological manipulation, Oaxaca in 1426 boasts a population in excess of 2.5 million. Lama Bordo technology produces up to 2 tons of maize per hectare, which is one ton less than Chinampas but half a ton more than ‘standard’ irrigated piedmont agriculture. Aside from the usual Mesoamerican food staples and chiles, avocados, and bottle gourds, cotton, cacao, and likely manioc were grown in lowland coastal climates along the southern coast. Maguey was an important cultigen especially in the highlands because it was used as a source of thread for textiles and to make the alcoholic drink pulque. Nopal cactus was cultivated in some highland areas to attract their parasite the cochineal insect used to make the vibrant red color dye, as well as being eaten.

It was here during the Preclassic that the Zapotecs built Mesoamerica's first major empire, Dani Baan, centered at the capital of Danibeedza, known today as Monte Alban. It was supposedly formed from a tenuous alliance of three rivals. The rugged terrain and Dani Baan’s fortified cities prevented or at least dissuaded their conquest by the contemporary expansionist empire of Teotihuacan, although trading colonies between the two flourished.

Dani Baan gradually lost hegemony over the highlands of Oaxaca and one of their chief vassals, the Mixtecs, rebelled and split the empire apart in the Late Classic. So began centuries of a duel to the death, the Mixtecs and Zapotecs fighting to restore Dani Baan and to claim the limited arable land of the mountains for themselves. Generation after generation of feuds however in some way brought the two enemies closer together, with many Zapotecs and Mixtecs coexisting in cities throughout the valley, thanks in part to their shared "royal couple" marriage custom, especially since the successful campaigns of the Mixtec ruler 8 Deer Jaguar Claw. His premature death - betrayed and captured by his own nephew - precipitated the premature fall of the empire he spent a lifetime creating, a Mesoamerican Alexander or Genghis Khan. Still, Yucu Dzaa remains by far the most prominent Mixtec state - though Yodzocahi, Ñundico, Yucu Eetuvui, and Naisinuu control the holiest Mixtec sites and important trade routes. One day, perhaps soon, Yucu Dzaa may reclaim these lands for itself.

Meanwhile the Zapotecs are on the rise again, a rebirth spearheaded by the kingdom of Za’achila, who has established control over other Zapotec kingdoms through a series of personal unions, and its control over the two most important Zapotec holy sites: Lyobaa, where all Zapotec rulers go to be buried, and Yagul, where the nobles go to join the clouds. Its largest city Sahayocan is one of Mesoamerica’s largest and finest, and one of the foremost centers of this Post-Classic Renaissance. Tensions over arable land have simmered with the development of the Lama Bordo terracing techniques - if there is any chance of restoring Dani Baan, or perhaps restore the great Empire the Mixtecs were so cruelly denied by fate, then now is the time. Meanwhile, the long-marginalized cultures of Oaxaca - the Ngiwa, Chatino, Huaves and others, bide their time.

Yet another Zapotec empire is that of Coatlicamac, currently in the process of conquering the lands of the Mixe, an Olmec-descended culture which has resisted tenaciously under the leadership of their new king, Condoy. The southernmost kingdom of the Chochontin, Yodzocoo, lead by the king the Mixtecs call Dzawandanda, is a flourishing and wealthy example of the ancient Mixteca-Puebla tradition. The Amuzgo people have coalesced a large library at their largest city Xochistlahuacan, while another Amuzgo polity, Ometepec, becomes the trade center of the Rio Verde region.

Included within Oaxaca is the region of Guerrero, culturally and ethnically a very distinct place, dominated by the Me'phaa people, who themselves are divided in two groups: the Tlapanecs, who settled in the North around the great ceremonial center of Tlapa, and the Yopes, who settled in the coastal Southern region of Yopitzinco, adjoining the famous Cliffs of Acapolco. Each part of the Me’Phaa civilization has its own patron god; those of the North, symbolized by the Mountain, is presided over by Totonásha, and those of the South are the Coast, represented by the goddess Sabenásha, who in their mythology are intrinsically bound together in marriage as husband and wife, highlander and coast-dweller. The sacred city of Tlapan still remains the most important ceremonial center for all Me’Phaa however, and in its prestige, it stands monolithically above the squabbling of the more politically active city-states. To the west, the city of Mexcaltepec, whose ruins have yet to be located or identified today, was reported by a Spanish census to have reached a population of 100,000 people.

If one continues along the coast, they will encounter a patchwork of coastal city-states in the region known either as Cuitlatecapan or Cihuatlan, a series of maritime trade-oriented settlements with a long legacy going back to the ancient Mezcala civilization and its renowned craftsmen, whose prestigious products are still sold in the markets of Mesoamerica today. To this area and up to Zacatollan in West Mexico, linguists have given the name "Mosaic of Vanished Languages" as this area in Prehispanic times was home to enormous linguistic diversity and complexity - unfortunately most of which went extinct in the aftermath of the Conquest, with little or no documentation.
It was here along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and the banks of the Coatzacoalcos river that Mesoamerica’s first complex urban society, known to us today as the Olmecs (or La Venta Culture) and known to the Aztecs as the Tenocelome, emerged over 3,000 years ago, the culmination of thousands of years of increasing social complexity and intensification of agriculture under the ancient Mokaya culture, who developed Mesoamerica’s first known permanent settlements.

The Olmecs were long thought to be the ‘mother culture’ of Mesoamerica, as the Greco-Roman culture might said to be for us. More recently this hypothesis has been tossed aside in favor of being a ‘big sister culture’. The Olmecs had, by sheer circumstance, emerged as the first complex civilization in Mesoamerica, and in turn through their extensive trade network became the people other cultures would emulate due to the perceived prestige and wealth of the Olmecs. The Olmecs thus were the first in Mesoamerica to exhibit the core traits fundamental to all its peoples (with exceptions as always applying in West Mexico and elsewhere): the ballgame, its architecture, writing system(s), numeracy, tortillas, astronomy, the burning of copal, and most likely human sacrifice. Not to mention its core pantheon of jaguar gods governing domains of corn, rain, and the sun and moon.

Today the Gulf Coast is the scene of extensive maritime trade routes that connect the Maya world to the rest of Mexico, not to mention occasional expeditions further afield. This trade is staffed most dominantly by the Totonacs. Totonacapan, a region of 2 million people centered around the "Three Hearts" of Totonac civilization: Papantla, Teayo, and Cempoallan, has managed to corner and monopolize the Vanilla trade, becoming its sole provider in all Mesoamerica, while their ports receive Maya traders from the Putun Chontal kingdoms of Acalan-Tixchel and Potonchan, bringing honey and sisal fiber among other things. Yet a relatively obscure culture, the scarcely-studied Huasteca, a long-separated Maya-speaking people, are no slouches in the dizzying trade networks of the Gulf Coast either, with their own ships taking them as far as the American Southeast in a trade route that is not fully understood. The Huasteca are notably a matriarchal society as well, with only women being found in prominent graves with prestigious offerings, whose priest-queens guide the construction of complex irrigation works, like those at Tamtoc.

Along the southern half of this coast, we find the old heartland of the Olmecs, now shared by their descendants: the Mixe and Zoques, who together to varying degrees preserve some of those ancient traditions. The Mixes are embroiled in conflict with the Zapotecs, while the Zoque engage in lucrative trade with the Mayas. Meanwhile, Nahua-speaking peoples have moved into the Tuxtla mountains and settled around Lake Catemaco, including the smallest playable independent polity: Agaltepec, an island village of 2,000 people. Further upstream along the Papaloapan, we arrive at its headwaters in the Tehuacan Valley, once the site of Mesoamerica's largest dam. This parched valley, the result of two rain shadows, would otherwise be sparsely settled if it were not for its nutritious volcanic soils and the hydro-engineering locals, the Chochontin, among Mesoamerica's most fascinating and understudied cultures. Joining them throughout the rain-soaked highlands are the thickly peopled lands of the Mazatecs and Chinantecs, the latter of which have monopolized the Rubber trade.
At last we arrive in the lands of the Yucatec Maya. Contrary to common (mis)understandings, this Postclassic Maya culture is not backwards nor degenerate. It is certainly not 'mysteriously disappeared'. Indeed, with the League of Mayapaan still standing and the sophisticated trade and market networks the Mayas have built, the Yucatecs have never seen such glory. The north Yucatan is so thickly populated, with 3.6 million people, that one is never more than 2 kilometers from a settlement. Among these is the crowning achievement of the Yucatecs, the city of Mayapaan, an artificial capital of the League, and as such was planned in detail from the beginning. Its 9.1 kilometer-long perimeter of stone walls shield more than 30,000 people. Placed at each of the ordinal directions are the four gatehouses, each one the responsibility of an assigned royal family and their patron gods to guard. In terms of its high population density, and sophisticated urban, marketing, and civil institutions, Kukulkan's Realm makes a point of comparing the Postclassic Maya world of the Yucatan to the 15th century Holy Roman Empire.

Unlike the HRE however, the Maya world is unipolar, with Mayapaan being the prime city. This is in contrast to the Classic period, where many superpowers contested each other for influence. In our day, Mayapaan has no such competition, aside perhaps from the emerging power, K'iche, far to the south in Guatemala. Few cities match Mayapaan in sheer scope, aside perhaps from Uxmal and Mani, also League capitals. Also in contrast to the Maya of the Classic, Mayapaan is ruled by council (known to the Maya as multepal) rather than by divine kings, centered around a halach uinik or 'true man' and his family. Various officials ruled over the provinces of Mayapaan, called kuchkabalob, while individual settlements (cahcab) were overseen by as many as 50 viceroys called batabob, who oversaw justice, religious affairs, and other civic duties. The grand palaces and huge pyramids of the Classic past have been replaced with colonnaded halls that enclose courtyard fountains and gardens, which serve as meeting halls for nobles to assemble and govern. Nonetheless, although downplayed compared to the past, divine sanction is sought for major political rites of passage such as accession to office and investiture.

Although this is a prosperous time, it is coming to an end. The Cocoms, though their rule has brought stability and prosperity for many, are beginning to be perceived as unjust and cruel rulers. Soon it will be time for Mayapaan to bestow its ka'tun stone, and the ritual responsibilities and symbolism associated with it, upon a new town, as the current cycle in the Maya calendar will be coming to an end shortly. Meanwhile, foreign mercenaries the Cocoms used in their war against the Itzas have settled in as rulers of the kuchkabal of Ah Canul, alienating many Maya, and they've brought with them the Bow, a weapon which threatens the aristocratic social structure on which Mayapaan and indeed all Maya states depend on. The Cocom practice of appointing viceroys directly to govern the lands of other lineages, as well as forcing all those within to give their daughters to the Cocoms to ensure loyalty and allow the Cocoms to distribute political marriages at their leisure and benefit, has made some prominent Maya families upset. The most notable of the dissenters are the Tutul Xiu, one of the "three great princely houses" who historically would be the downfall of the League. Mayapaan would be raised to the ground, and the kuchkabalob would split into independent realms, each of them fighting their own wars to reunite the league in their image, a process that never occurred before the Spanish arrived.

Outside of the League of Mayapaan, there is still much to see. Along the gulf coast are the merchant republics of the Putun Chontal, most notable among them Acalan-Tixchel, which with a little competition from Potonchan and Xicalanco (a Nahua-speaking kingdom situated in the marshy Usumacinta delta) dominates the maritime Gulf Coast trade between Totonacapan and the Yucatan. Just beyond the oligarchs of the kuchkabal of Cupul, who control the most important holy site in the Maya world - the Sacred Cenote of Chichen Itza - are a number of realms variously independent or allied with the League, such as Ekab, who in turn has monopolized the pilgrimage routes to an equally important pilgrimage site: the Sanctuary of Ix Chel at Cozumel, while also reaching out to the Caribbean and Honduras. The mangrove forests, tropical savannas and lakes of modern day Belize are home to a number of prominent Maya kingdoms participating in this trade network, like Chactemal and Uaymilan.

As elevation begins to rise far to the south, we arrive in the Peten Lakes, or the Guatemala Lowlands. It is a region full of very annoying birds that drove Pixel ****in' crazy. But during the Classic Period this was arguably the height of Maya civilization, the home of Tikal, a city of 90,000 that ruled an empire numbering in the millions, together with its equally powerful rival to the north, Calakmul. The rivalry between these two cities dominated the politics of the Classic Maya world, a contest comparable to that between the USA and USSR, as they fought campaigns and proxy wars abroad to install loyal rulers in more minor states. These days, however, the Peten is dramatically depopulated compared to the heights of Tikal and Calakmul. A recent wave of newcomers, however, Itzas and Kowoj fleeing wars in the north, have begun to resettle this region however. Historically, this would be the last region of Mesoamerica proper to fall to the Spanish, holding out successfully until 1697, and briefly winning independence again in the 1860s.
West Mexico is home to a plethora of cultures, and perhaps the most obscure and underappreciated region of Mesoamerica as there has been relatively little (official) work done on its past. Until 1998, almost all artifacts from this region were uncovered by illegal looters, and the difficulty in dating these looted relics lead most scholars to believe that they were contemporary with the Aztecs. The discovery of an undisturbed tomb in Huitzilapa, Jalisco, (now bulldozed by a tequila company) soon lead to the very recent revelation that they were over a thousand years older. And thus we came to learn about West Mexico’s distant past, with complex cultures going back to the Archaic period and on to the Shaft Tomb tradition and beyond. Even as late as 2007 new cities have been discovered like Angamuco, on the shores of Lake Patzcuaro, said by its discoverer to have had as many buildings as downtown Manhattan (though he cautions against using this to draw any conclusions about its population density).

During the early to mid Classic period the empire of Teotihuacan established numerous colonies in the region to gain access to trade goods and protect its frontier, while Uto-Aztecan migrations from the north and later from Tollan founded more settlements in the region during the Late Classic and Epiclassic. However, the so-called “big sister culture”, the Olmecs, have had almost no influence in West Mexico.

As such West Mexico is the oddball of the region, with some things thought to be universal to Mesoamerica often being averted here. The pyramids here are not only relatively few compared to other regions, but are conical rather than square, arranged in circular rather than rectangular plazas where markets as well as religious ceremonies are held. West Mexico has a deep maritime tradition, as well as advanced bronze metallurgy (the most advanced in Mesoamerica). Among other differences,  compared to the complex cultures of the central valley, West Mexico has been suggested to have been more egalitarian between the sexes, due to an absence of Salic law (as it pertains to excluding women from inheritance and titles) and prominent depictions of women in art. That all said, West Mexico is still very much part of the Mesoamerican world, with similar agriculture, religion, governance, and they still play the ballgame. And while the influence of the Olmecs isn’t apparent, that of later cultures like Teotihuacan and perhaps more importantly the Mixteca-Puebla region is quite prominent.

The region was neglected even in the Pre-Columbian world - the people of West Mexico were seen as inferior by the high cultures of central Mexico and the highlands of Oaxaca. This despite the fact that the region has been home to complex civilizations for millennia: the ancient Capacha were followed in turn by the urbanized republics of the Teuchitlan civilization in the Tequila Valley, the literate astronomers of the Chalchihuites, and the long-distance traders and expert potters of the Aztatlan Complex. Yet the modern state of Michoacan, an intermediary region of sorts between the sophisticated societies of the western coast and those of the Basin of Mexico, had yet to be the heartland of a major culture until the Post-Classic emergence of the Purepecha people with such kingdoms as Zacapu, Angamuco, and Chupicuaro. 

With the efforts of Tariacuri the Great, one Purepecha lineage, the Uacusechas (wa-KU-saychas), rulers of Patzcuaro, rose to pre-eminence among the competing irecha kingdoms of the Patzcuaro basin, with the aid of some island city-states like Xaraquaro. His foundation of what would become the Empire of Irechecua Tzintzuntzani - foremost rival of the Aztecs, against whom they had never lost a battle on their own turf. However, their westward expansion was always checked by powerful local polities like Tonallan and Colliman (Caxitlan).

The city of Zacatollan is  one of the greatest trading centers of the Pacific Coast of Mexico, their tongue a language with distant relations to either California or Central America, but it is not alone in the great centers of their country. Zacatollan's position as a major West Mexican port means it receives merchants from distant Ecuador, who arrive on sailing ships eager to trade metals for spondylus shells. Alongside Zacatollan, the Chumbia are home to many famous religious centers that are destinations of pilgrimage and veneration across the Mesoamerican realm. These include the god of Pulque, which attracted pilgrims from as far away as Guatemala in drunken revelry. By far the greatest pilgrimage center was Xihuacan, “the Land of Women”, this was the center of worship of Tlaltecuhtli (or Cihuatéotl), the mother of life and earth monster, and Xihuacan, placed in the “women’s direction” in the West, was her holiest site. According to Cortez, (who was probably high as a fkn kite when he said this) this was truly a land of women, where females existed in their own society, inviting men only to breed, with their female progeny brought up within the sacred city and sons cast out. The prestige of its feminine sanctity is crowned by its age, Xihuacan having been occupied for well over 3,000 years, and by the magnificence of its monuments, with this West Mexican site incredibly being host to perhaps the largest ballcourt in all Mesoamerica.

Included in West Mexico is the region of the “Gran Chichimeca” which covers much of the northward arid regions. The word “chichimeca” is used by the Nahuatl-speaking peoples of Central Mexico with the same pejorative sense that ‘barbarian’ held for the Greeks and Romans (and possibly with a similar etymology). This despite the fact that the Nahua themselves used to be chichimeca. These were semi-nomadic peoples who inhabited a largely dry and rocky area north of the central plateau, but occasionally they would found cities in the heartland, particularly those descendants of the Chalchihuit civilization, which was very advanced, with sophisticated mathematics, writing, and astronomy. While simple compared to the much more complex societies to the south, the Chichimeca were the middlemen for trade flowing north/south between Mesoamerica and the rest of North America, and they were also capable of building temple-forts, had developed pottery, communicated via petroglyphs, and in less arid regions were capable of prolonged sedentary life. They also began to build ballcourts due to the influence of “Toltec” traders in the Late Classic. A few Chichimeca groups were more sedentary and agrarian than others (like the Caxcanes), where water resources allow it. These include the ‘toltecized’ Chichimec groups of Western Mexico, like the Tonala and Xalisco. These people were associated by Mesoamericans with their worship of the moon and associated lunar calendars.
Thousands of years ago in the highlands of Guatemala, a civilization took shape championed by what was then a new culture: the Maya, whose earliest cities reached their height during the Classic Period, when Maya city-states raised stelae telling stories of the gods and of human affairs, using a written language refined from the Olmec experiments. In those days Guatemala was the center of high culture, with powerful cities like Palenque, Yaxchilan, Kaminaljuyu, and Tazumal unequaled in all Mesoamerica. In the Late Classic however a combination of factors lead to the so-called Maya Collapse, and the shift of population centers from Guatemala to areas further north and more dispersed. Not even Kaminaljuyu, one of Mesoamerica’s oldest and longest continuously inhabited cities, was spared this upheaval.

Over time however the region recovered, and presently is in a state of re-urbanization. Population in the highlands has soared to in excess of 2 million, and cities with size to match the Preclassic and Classic heights of the Maya are beginning to take shape. Migrations of Toltecized Maya passing through the area en route to El Salvador and Nicaragua left behind new populations, such as the band of wandering knights that would found the city of Jakawitz, joined by Maya peoples who reconsolidated in new centers. Kaminaljuyu has been replaced by the city of Nimcakajpek of the Kaqchikel people, only 6 kilometers away, while new powers emerge in K’umarkaaj (K’iche’), Chiyo (Tzutujil), Zaculeu (Mam) and Xelaju. The Maya of the Guatemalan highlands have a long way to go if they are to reclaim their lost heritage, but in any case the region is experiencing a rebirth. Maya cultures here, influenced by their Nahua-speaking neighbors, are more militaristic, and devote themselves partially to the myths and spirits of Uto-Aztecan peoples, mixed with their own Mayan beliefs.

The influence went both ways however, as Nahua peoples settled down in what is now El Salvador and Nicaragua, they swelled their numbers by adopting Maya people, and in turn building pyramids in the Maya style and following some Maya traditions. In the process however the migrants have displaced the local people who have inhabited these parts of Cuauhtēmallān for thousands of years, the Xinka and Lenca, long co-existing and trading with the Maya at their height.

What would eventually grow into the largest city of what is now Guatemala since the Preclassic - K’umarkaaj - had humble origins as the capital of the kingdom of K’iche’. In 1425, a year before our game starts, ajpop K’uk’umatz sent one of his daughters to marry the ajpop, Tekum ***’om, of the kingdom of C’oja, in an effort to establish dominion over C’oja as the K’iche’ had over other Maya peoples in the past. C’oja was especially important, situated in the Cuchumatan mountains and controlling the salt beds of Sacapulas. Rather than submit to K’iche’ domination, Tekum killed the offered bride, and this lead to war. C’oja being a much smaller kingdom, K’uk’umatz’ was overconfident, and army was ambushed in the mountains. Among the heavy casualties was K’uk’umatz himself.

This lead to the emergency succession of the greatest of K’iche’ kings - Q’uik’ab - to the throne, who swore vengeance for the death of his father and sister. Rebuilding his strength over the next two years, Q’uik’ab invaded C’oja with overwhelming force - killed Tekum, captured his son, looted extravagant amounts of jade and gold, and annexed numerous settlements in the Sacapulas salt beds before turning his army west and invading the Mam kingdom of Zaculeu. His enormously successful reign, lasting 50 years, saw all of southern Guatemala unified under strong rule, until the final years of his reign where conspiracy and rebellion among his vassals lead to the collapse of much he had worked for.

Included as part of the Cuauhtemallan region are the modern countries of Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, the bulk of these countries’ Pre-Columbian territories falling into the ‘intermediate area’, a culture zone considered distinct from Mesoamerica. This region is populated by migrant groups from a variety of places. Some are Mesoamerican, some are Chibchoid groups from Colombia, and some are from the Caribbean. Some are said to be distantly related to the Hokan languages of distant California. Although the region is seen as having a lower level of urbanization and social complexity by comparison to Mesoamerica, it is quite densely populated. El Salvador boasts in excess of 500,000 inhabitants, Honduras 850,000 mostly concentrated in the western half, and Nicaragua 1,000,000 more, concentrated in the coastal rift valley and the shores of the largest lakes in the known world. Costa Rica, while not entirely on the map, is estimated to have had 400,000 people.

Although mostly populated by relatively simple agrarian chiefdoms, some complex states exist in this area. From the great kingdom of Kushkatan to the burgeoning city-states of Western Nicaragua, from the complex legal systems of Nicoya to the Lenca federations, and beyond to the populous Misumalpan kingdom of Matagalpa (known as Matlalkapan in Nahuatl). Large organized armies numbering in the tens of thousands opposed the Spanish campaigns in the region from the 1520s to 1540s, seeing unprecedented success initially, working from large fortresses situated in mountains said by Spanish witnesses to be the equal of any fortress in Europe, and lead by brilliant strategists that made use of Fabianesque tactics against the Spanish and their Maya allies. Eastern Nicaragua has the renowned Miskito people - never conquered by Spain and forming a beneficial alliance with English privateers in the Caribbean, in Pre-Columbian times the Miskito raided the Maya coastline and pirated maritime trade routes, perhaps together with the Caribs.
 

Pixel

Archduke
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Banners
Show your affinity and/or loyalty to a particular region or culture of Pre-Columbian Mexico with these cool sig banners! Explained below.
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Aztec/Central Mexico banner
Icon:
Front of the Huey Teocalli, as it may have appeared in the early 16th century. Constantly expanded together with the Aztec Empire the two shrines at the top are dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, god of the sun, taxes, and war, and Tlaloc, god of the rain and agriculture.

Background: These glyphs all represent the 18 20-day months of the Aztec calendar. They are evolutions of symbols that have been written down since Epiolmec times more than 1500 years ago.

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Maya/Yucatan banner
Icon:
Front of the Pyramid of the Magician, the largest in the city of Uxmal, one of the three lead cities of the League of Mayapaan, again colored as it probably appeared at the city's height.
Background: Characters from the Maya logosyllabic writing system.

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Oaxaca banner
Icon:
Front of the facade of the temple-palace at Mitla, characteristic of Zapotec architecture with the intricate carvings of geometric patterns into the surface of its stone.
Background: Figures in various poses taken from the Mixtec codices.

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West Mexico/Purepecha banner
Icon:
Based on the Yacatas of Tzintzuntzan, a temple complex and ritual plaza situated on top of a mound in the northeast-central corner of Tzintzuntzan, although in real life the yacatas had 5 temples rather than 3. The biggest one represents Curicaueri, the chief god, while the smaller four stand for his four brothers.
Background: Decorations from engraved polychromatic pottery made and traded in the Aztatlan mercantile system in the Late Classic period.

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Mechanics
All game rules can be found elaborated here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oVkn-DSA6GNZteZt3iOvnwCkA_wb2SKNaejlH8H_5N4/edit?usp=sharing

Orders Template
Link to bop tool: https://tw.greywool.com/bop
This is more of a guideline than anything, but I really encourage using the orders template or something close. It'll make my life a little easier.
Code:
(In general i want you to tally your expenditures either at the top or at the bottom, whatever works for you)

[u]Chronology[/u]
Sometimes the order of and timing that something gets done is important. Here I want you to outline your actions one of two ways.

The first way:
Year 1: List actions happening in year 1
Year 2: List those in year 2
And so on

The second way is to simply designate some actions as being higher priority than others.

[u]Merchant Allocation:[/u]
Trade goods: -list here the goods by Trade Goods: in your country card, these are the ones you actually trade away-
* Merchant #: -destination entrepot- (Trade goods at entrepot) | -escorts assigned to this merchant if any-
X goods in common, Y goods not in common, Z in demand at destination, A in demand at your controlled entrepot (if any) = (X*5) + (Y*10) + (Z*15) + (A*15) = expected profit
Repeat for however many merchants you are allocating.
Total expected trade profit = -total merchants' income- * trade income modifiers from markets, roads, omens, culture bonuses, etc.
(these stack additively)

[u]Research Slot Allocation[/u]
* Slot #: -technology desired- (relevant stat) Research points allocated total:
Characters assigned
Repeat for however many research slots you are using
-description- (give me some fluff, it can be rewarded with RPs!)

[u]Purchases[/u] (building works, using omens, spending manpower and tribute in general)

[u]-action-[/u] (stuff you're doing with a character)
Character(s) involved:
Stats: (put here what character stats you think are relevant to this action)
Resources allocated: (put here whatever miscellaneous resources are involved in this action, tribute, manpower, piety, prestige, etc)
-description- (give me good fluff)

Frequently Asked Questions
These are all questions I've actually been asked by you guys and I put my answers here to help others.

Q: Is there contact between Mesoamerica and other parts of the Americas? Like the Incas?
There is! Most especially with the Caribbean but also the American Southwest, and more intermittently with South America and the US-side of the Gulf of Mexico. Trade with these off-map regions is possible if it is listed as a known region on your card. All regions outside the map do have complex civilizations (at least Altepetl centralization level in game terms) and have influenced, as well as been influenced by, Mesoamerica, through trade, conflict, and migrations.

There may even already have been some visitors from outside Mesoamerica, in the form of the Polynesians. Hawaii is but a hop and a skip away from Mexico by their standards. Multiple lines of (very ambiguous and not without controversy and challenge) evidence have suggested - but not confirmed - Polynesian Pre-Columbian contact with the Americas. This BoP, however, considers it canon.

Q: So there's all these coastal trade routes and we even trade with Cuba. So what is Mesoamerican maritime technology like?
As succinctly as possible, you basically have access to simple galleys without sails. Fairly large ones were reported by the Spanish, with one ship traveling back to the Yucatan from Honduras having a crew of 50. (The Spanish claimed 150, but this is considered an exaggeration)

The principal technology is dugout construction, involving basically making the hull out of a single piece of carved wood (a tree) using fire. Some Mayas, particularly the Putun Chontal, have improved upon this by using straking to form a gunwale and raise the freeboard, increasing the height of a canoe and reducing bailing and capsizing, along with allowing for a row-locking mechanism to increase propulsion. This represents the pinnacle of Mesoamerican maritime engineering for the moment. However, one does not have to go far from Mexico to find more advanced ships. Yes, even those "simple" peoples that live beyond have things Mesoamerica doesn't. The Chumash of California have sewn-plank construction (the type the Viking longboats used), the Calusa of Florida possibly had double-hulls, and perhaps most notably, the sail is known in Ecuador and Peru. Note that sails are very impractical to use with dugout construction.

Also of interest is the Mesoamerican compass. There is evidence of a lodestone compass, used not for navigation but for geomantic divination (similar to the very first Chinese compasses), at an Olmec site. Another Classic Maya site also demonstrates at least a cursory understanding of magnetism. Finding a utilitarian use for these devices is possible... and combined with the above technologies that already exist elsewhere in the Americas, transcontinental voyages are certainly possible.

Q: Do we have metal?
You do. All Mesoamericans can work with copper, gold, silver, and bronze, to varying degrees of skill. Unsmelted iron ore is sometimes polished to make mirrors. Culturally, metal is seen more akin to jewelry than something suited to make weapons or armour out of, however there are some utilitarian uses of bronze emerging in the form of axeheads for felling trees and as coinage. There are numerous logistical and cultural considerations you must address before a complete transition to metal over obsidian is practical.

Q: Are horses and livestock a thing in Mesoamerican culture?
Horses, among other animals, actually originated in the Americas, but for a variety of proposed reasons went extinct during the Pleistocene. As a result, Mesoamericans do not know what a horse is, nor do any Native Americans, despite how easily and successfully these peoples adapted to reintroduction of horses in later years. I've heard it commonly stated that Mesoamerica had no domesticated animals at all aside from the dog - this is not true. In addition to several breeds of dogs (some of which are eaten, but some are for companionship and as hunting dogs), two breeds of turkey and the muscovy duck are fully domesticated. Semi-domesticates include the white-tailed deer, rabbit, and peccary, all of which are sometimes kept in captivity at or near cities. Although some calpolli put more focus on it than others, herding is economically much less important in Mesoamerica than it is in the Old World.
 
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Archduke
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Historical Trivia
The following posts will be focused on general information about Mesoamerica as a historical setting and describing things that are not necessarily relevant to the game but may nonetheless prove useful or important to know.
Mesoamerica is ridiculously diverse, in large part due to its mountainous nature, despite the fact it is situated entirely in the tropics. This creates numerous ecozones, yielding different flora, fauna, and minerals. These conditions helped to create trade and interdependence and were a major factor in how Mesoamerican societies patterned their political and military relations. Geographically, Mesoamerica begins at the desert in the north of Mexico and runs south through to Costa Rica. The coastal areas are low and tropical, while mountains run along the Pacific Coast of the region, dotted with volcanoes and interspersed with lakes, and the central plateau encompasses areas of subtropical to temperate climates.

The area is generally divided into three basic zones: the tierra caliente (“hot lands”) from 0-1000 meters above sea level, the tierra templada (“temperate lands”) from 1000 to 2000 meters, and the tierra fría (“cold lands”) which range from 2000 to 2800 meters. These zones can then be further divided by the amount of rainfall received. Rainfall is generally heaviest in the lowlands and declines with altitude, but more important than the amount of rain is its timing. The rainy season extends from May to September, with the dry season occupying the rest of the year. Some areas, however, receive rain year-round. Examples include the eastern escarpment of Southern Mexico and the Caribbean slope of Central America. The eastern coast in general receives considerably more rain than the western coast, and the interior valleys and plateaus tend to get only moderate amounts.

The Gulf Coast wet season extends from late May through November and again from December through March. The dry season only extends from April and May. During much of the year, heavy rains and rising water would limit large-scale long-distance contacts, as mass movements are considerably more difficult, turning normally fordable streams into impassable rivers and flooding the roads. This would have channeled any large-scale movement of men and supplies to short periods in late November and early December and again in April and May. However - once an army was out of the lowlands, the campaign season was extended from December to late April or sometimes early May.

These rainy periods also patterned two agricultural seasons. Field preparation and cultivation took place between November and February, followed by a May/June harvest. In the second, cultivation ran from April to late May or early June, with the second harvest complete by November. Consequently, the food needed to sustain troops were most available after June and again after November, with supplies declining thereafter. Thus, from a logistical perspective, military campaigns were most feasible in December/January and July/August.

Probable estimates of food consumption are available, based on 16th century records. Daily adult male rates were .95 kg of corn and half a gallon of water. While not much individually, once multiplied to account for a large army, the logistical difficulties become obvious, especially when one considers that provisions had to be carried on foot. Supplies were carried by the individual soldiers themselves or specialized porters, and at the standard load of 23 kg for day-to-day transport, this provided 24 man/days of food. But such a load was well beyond the capacity of individual soldiers already burdened by their arms, armour and other equipment. Every kilogram of equipment a soldier carried reduced his food supplies by one day.

Obviously, this constraint on food is a major limit on conquest, because it determines how long (and thus how far) an army can march. What this time means in terms of distance depends on how fast an army can march, which for most preindustrial armies was 8 to 32 kilometers per day, a rate in accord with modern practice. A modern army marches 4 km/h on roads, 2.4 km/h when marching over hills. Marching at night is even slower, down to 3.2 km/h on roads and 1.6 km/h cross-country. Given the relative scarcity of formal roads in Mesoamerica 2.4 km/h more closely approximates the average speed of a Mesoamerican army.

Both the army’s size and speed affected its logistical requirements. Individual soldiers may have carried all their own food and accepted the limits this placed on their mobility, but the Aztecs would later turn to professional porters, at a ratio of one for every two soldiers. This permitted the army to travel about eight days, yielding a combat radius of three days, given one day of fighting and the following for rest. Any greater efficiency was not possible, as with the development of the tumpline for carrying loads (by Olmec times even) land transport had essentially reached the efficiency it would hold until the Spanish conquest and the introduction of horses, though this was slightly alleviated with the Olmec invention of comales (the griddles used to cook tortillas) making food more portable.

The sole alternative to increased range was local resupply, which was feasible, so long as the army finds itself in territory that produces enough surplus food to give to the army, either by force or, if they’re friendly, as support. In the Post-classic Period of territorial states, forts would be built as specialized resupply stations in trouble areas.
Mesoamerican societies developed very complex legal systems, ones we have the fortune of knowing a fair bit about today as several codices talk about courts, specific trials that took place, sentences that were issued, and not to mention a bit of ethnography as studies of the living descendants of these peoples can reveal a bit about how they resolved disputes hundreds of years ago. That said, even the handful of surviving codices are only a tiny, tiny minority of indigenous literature.

Most societies had a codified law written down for use by judges, while customary law was also passed down through spoken hymns. As the Post-Classic Golden Age goes on, more and more laws are being formally written down. That said, judges were not always bound by existing laws and were expected to interpret them in the way they felt most reasonable for the circumstances of each particular case. The concept of stare decisis did exist however and usually punishments ordered for a certain case would be applied to similar cases.

Judges were appointed either by the ruler himself, his prime minister, or elected by the nobility. Judges administered courts that had certain jurisdictions: the trial courts (called teccali in Nahuatl, these handled both civil and criminal cases), appellate courts (called tlacxitlán, these mainly handled criminal cases appealed from the trial courts, but also served as the trial courts for the noble caste), and a supreme court (often the ruler and a small council who hold court sessions to resolve major disputes every couple weeks). The Supreme Court and thus the ruler had the right to intervene in any jurisdiction they felt was important to the integrity of the realm, but most of the time they reviewed cases from lower jurisdictions, particularly the appellates. In some societies, it was the prime minister and not the speaker who held final authority in many court cases.

Other societies like the Aztecs expanded this system to include more specialized jurisdictions, like commercial courts to handle disputes among merchants and at the marketplace, courts for families, fiscal affairs, the military, and religious courts that served the priests and students. They also established small courthouses in each calpolli that presided over minor civil and criminal cases and reported their verdicts to the teccali. Judges also commanded police forces that served summons and arrested suspects.

The Acolhuas of Tetzcoco also expanded on this basic legal system, developing 80 written laws, divided into 4 groups to be enforced by 4 separate councils and courts. These groups were the War Council, the Treasury Council, Council of Music, Arts, and Sciences, and finally the Legal Council. The first three were made up of representatives from all conquered lands. The legal council, made up of a rotation of two judges, reviewed decisions made by the other three. After that they could then be appealed further to two supreme judges, who could only pass a sentence with the approval of an Acolhua ruler. The councils would have to resolve cases within their jurisdiction within 80 days. There is evidence to suggest that precedent was considered important in Acolhua law.

Judges were seen with utmost respect and honor, and expected to be totally impartial, ethical, and honest. Most were appointed for life, and could only be removed if they were seen to have deviated from these expectations. They were trained in apprenticeship programs, which involved observing actual court proceedings. Future judges were then selected from the most promising of the apprentices.
The ecological diversity mentioned in the Geography spoiler naturally has an impact on how Mesomamerican states organized an economy. Yet one thing that is common to all Mesoamerican societies is what's called in Nahuatl the calpolli or chinamitl system. It's a kind of quasi-feudalism but it has important differences to more familiar socioeconomic systems in medieval Europe. I'll try to summarize it here.

The calpolli is the lowest level of land management in Mesoamerica and is translated roughly as neighborhood, district, community, or village. Commoners work this land, share its surpluses with each other (because they own it together) and ultimately are the ones who dictate what crops the fields will be devoted to, IE if they're gonna grow cotton vs staple crops. Such communally-owned lands also included woodlands, free for all to use. Nobles usually do not directly own the calpolli, but rather receive some calpolli as part of their teccali or picalli, roughly translated as benefice or estate, lands which are associated with titles rather than people, although in most places they were nonetheless hereditary titles. (As such, Mesoamerican commoners are not exactly serfs. They seem to have had freedom of movement.)

The calpolli assigned as a lord's picalli were obligated to pay that noble house a share of their harvest, but they were entitled to the majority of their produce unless their fields laid fallow for more than 4 years, at which point nobles could appropriate the land. Nobles then, in exchange for being granted these estates and privileges by the ruler, are obligated to give some of that tribute to the king, and serve him both in military (IE lead an army) and administrative capacities (IE go out and take a census, organize labor teams, form a militia from the calpolli under his domain, etc.)

Tribute paid by calpolli came in many forms: labor, agricultural products, and especially valued was textiles. Cotton, which grows best in the lowlands, would be imported in the highlands and spun into textiles where it became the luxury fabric of the nobility (commoners are usually modestly dressed in maguey fiber). Textiles were thus valued in all Mesoamerica and can be exchanged anywhere in Mexico. The demand for cotton thus increased the demand for and value of female labor - as women are the ones who weave - often putting women at the forefront of opposition to requests for increased tribute.

Aside from agriculture, the calpolli was also used to organize other endeavors, for example calpolli would be "zoned" to a telpochcalli (school), hospitals, drainage systems, courthouses, and temples.
Long-distance trade has returned to Mesoamerica with the beginning of the Late Postclassic period (starting about 1200). Although lacking the camels and horses of the old world or even the llamas of the Andes, caravans carry needed goods in routes that criss-cross all of Mexico and beyond, carried entirely by foot with the aid of tumplines, or riverine and coastal traffic. Despite the introduction of horses and wheeled carts following the Spanish Conquest, most commerce was still carried out the traditional way well into the 17th century, with native merchants from Lake Patzcuaro reported to have walked all the way to Oaxaca City to barter. Indeed, traditional means remained competitive for most purposes in Mexico for almost two centuries. That said, moving large groups of people and material over long distances, especially over land, is much more expensive in Mesoamerica than it is in the Old World. This puts an even greater emphasis on waterborne trade.

By the 15th century, trade is so widespread that commoners are increasingly gaining access to luxury goods as well as more utilitarian products like obsidian and bronze tools. There is a lot more competition than there was in the Classic period, where trade was oft-dominated by regional monopolies, and as such a middle-class of sorts is emerging. Merchants are growing powerful and influential enough that they command respect and privileges from nobles and commoners alike. This fact combined with the calpolli "guilds" system are signs that, given another century or two without Spanish intervention, Mesoamerica could perhaps have developed some kind of capitalist socioeconomic system on its own. Of course, we'll never know whether this would've actually happened or not. ... But it could in-game.

Contrary to popular misconception Mesoamerica is not totally isolated and in fact has contact with other parts of the Americas, and has for centuries if not millenia. These include the American Southwest, the Caribbean, and more intermittent contact with South America. All of which have complex civilizations of their own. Ballcourts reminiscent of those in Mexico are built as far north as Arizona and as far east as Hispaniola and play with imported rubber balls. Manioc has arrived from the Caribbean, while turquoise works its way south from the Four Corners region. South America, however, has had possibly the biggest impact on Mesoamerica: the direct introduction of bronze metallurgical techniques, as well as emeralds.

Because of the great distances involved, trade with those regions outside Mesoamerica is mostly of a maritime nature or conducted via middlemen. Additionally, most goods conveyed on these routes are low-bulk, high value goods, and as such are mostly prestigious or sacred items like precious stones, rubber balls, or metal objects. Sometimes, however, foodstuffs and knowledge are transmitted.
In some important ways, Mesoamerican warfare is very distinct from Medieval European warfare, despite some commonalities shared with pre-industrial warfare in general. While logistics and geography are discussed in that relevant spoiler and recommended reading, here I will focus on weapons, units, tactics, and sieges.

One distinction is the lack of horses. Obviously, this means no cavalry on the battlefield. All soldiers fight on foot, with a variety of melee weapons, these include stone (and rarely bronze) axes, maces, spears, "swords" of a kind, and a variety of other miscellaneous weapons you could consider two-handed variants of any of the above and tend to be regional peculiarities. The chief ranged weapons are atlatls (spear throwers, which are used to hurl 'darts'), bows (mostly self-bows but some sinew-backed "composite" bows) and slings (for which clay ammunition is mass-produced). Blowguns also exist but are exclusively used for hunting and rarely (if ever) in combat. Shields are carried and include both the smaller round shields (called chimalli) with feather fringes that are ubiquitous in art about Mesoamerica, as well as larger rectangular ones comparable to "tower" shields, "flexible" types made of hardened textiles over a frame, and some that attach to the forearm used by skirmishers. Militia and levies often have to make use of simple wicker shields.

Armour is also worn: commoners sometimes lucky enough to get vests of maguey fiber, while the best armour generally available consists of woven cotton two-to-three fingers in thickness, soaked in salt brine before being left to dry and crystallize. While often compared to medieval European gambesons, in truth it is probably quite a bit better as this step in the manufacturing process gives it a kind of rigidity. Helmets are made of carved wood. Wooden armour is in use in other parts of the Americas and potentially could be developed here.

Contrary to what a lot of video games might tell you, Mesoamerican armies did fight in formations. Further, these units were heterogeneous in equipment and training so as to suit different complementary roles on the battlefield, reflecting a degree of professionalism. These armies developed command hierarchies, organized supply systems, and had means of signaling and communication to relay orders and such. With all this in mind it is important to note that unlike medieval European wars, which were typified by sieges of castles, such sieges have little place in Mesoamerican warfare. As the logistics spoiler may better elaborate, field armies are unable to outlast cities or fortifications and "starve them out". This leaves large pitched battles as a more decisive element in the success of a campaign.

Although sieges to starve out an entrenched opponent rarely occurred, this does not rule out siege assaults, to overcome such defensive positions by force. Walls would be scaled by ladders, and were often made of adobe and so could be rammed or even hacked down. Sappers existed, as did "siege towers" although these would have been used to give the attackers' ranged units a vantage point to suppress the defenders' slingers and give cover fire to advancing melee units. Wars of attrition and besieging a polity on the larger-scale also occurred in the form of constant and consistent raids and forays into hostile territory and the cultural innovation of Flower Wars.
Slavery
Slavery was practiced in Mesoamerica as much as it was anywhere else. With Mesoamerica devoid of beasts of burden, slaves, whether captured in raids, battle, or sold into service for debts or justice, are the main source of manual labor and transportation in this world. Commonly found in more peripheral regions where civilization meets the “barbarians” or simply in regions which see frequent warfare. Where nobles captured in battle are usually put to death, commoners that meet this fate are typically enslaved. In the Yucatan, a unique source of slaves are shipwrecked sailors from the Caribbean blown off course by storms - even early Spanish explorers were enslaved in this way!

Female slaves are especially important as women dominate the textile industry, and thus have the skills required to spin cotton into textiles, which are a good that are always accepted throughout Mesoamerica and a good way to measure ones' wealth. As such, nobles sought slaves for weaving so as to enrich their house. Slaves were considered the property of the noble who had taken possession of them and they could be given away to others as tribute and transferred to other houses at will, either as that noble's recompense for a crime or as gifts.

Slaves were sometimes the victims of sacrifice, but they are much more useful alive.

Aside from spinning cotton, slaves generally served the role as porters or other manual laborers. Slaves could work towards their freedom (usually in the context of paying off their debt), and their children were never born slaves. In Tenochtitlan and other Aztec cities (some) slaves had some rights and could make legal appeals for their freedom or against their masters.

Sacrifice
The elephant in the room. Whenever Mesoamerica appears in lay peoples' conversations or in pop culture this is the thing that gets most talked about. That is, sacrifice, especially of humans, but Mesoamericans also sacrificed animals, insects, and inanimate objects. All Mesoamerican cultures practiced this to varying degrees. Of these, the only people who did it on a large scale were the Aztecs. The exact extent of this scale has been debated for literally hundreds of years but most physical and literary evidence would suggest that human sacrifice was never on a scale to be demographically significant. Absurd numbers like 20,000 a day to 50,000 a year show up sometimes but these are plain and simple not physically possible and immediately contradicted by the huge swelling population densities and urbanization we see in Post Classic Mesoamerica. It was more likely in the range of 4,000 to 6,000 a year at most, however lower numbers are justifiable. However, non-Aztec cultures, and thus the 'average' in Mesoamerica, would typically only have a couple dozen to a couple hundred sacrifices a year. (again, estimates will vary)

Now, disclaimer: I am not here to be an Aztec apologist. Much more a Mixtec fan. But the practice of human sacrifice is somewhat more ethically complicated, especially as compared to customs commonplace in the rest of the world at this time, then you may think. Most victims were war captives. In most of the rest of the world, captured soldiers are either killed or enslaved - this is no less the case in Mesoamerica, except the killing is put off a little longer. Some sources suggest that the victim of sacrifice was honored (though not as much as his captor), and the Aztecs - normally a very anti-drunkenness culture - allowed victims to get drunk before the event. Many also suggest compliance on the part of victims, including the Spanish who reported numerous instances of freed victims demanding to be sacrificed. Those about to be sacrificed are said to have partied it up in elaborate costumes, hearing prayers from those who want the gods to hear them, blessing and kissing babies, basically they were celebrities for a little while.

One thing which is often not understood in common discussion about human sacrifice in Mesoamerica is that it was primarily politically motivated (indeed, like all religions, everywhere). Sacrifices reasserted a king’s divine right to rule, showing that he has the power to placate the gods. This was especially important during difficult times, when the common people may doubt his divine legitimacy. While Mesoamericans also sought rational ideas to solve their problems, sacrifices were part of the state’s mechanism of maintaining order and legitimacy in times of trouble. While sacrifices were carried out during the flood of Tenochtitlan in the 1450s for example, the Mexica also responded to the problem itself, making improvements to the drainage system. Furthermore, sacrifices justified warfare, as by far the most common people to be sacrificed were those captured in battle. Sacrifices also served to legitimize the auto-sacrifices of everyone else.

There is a lot more to say on this topic but I briefly want to get two misconceptions out of the way:
1. The Aztecs did not intentionally leave states like Tlaxcallan, Yucu Dzaa/Zaachila, Yopitzinco, or Metztitlan around just to farm for sacrifices. If these areas weren't conquered it is because the Aztecs continuously tried and failed to conquer them. Flower Wars were developed as a means of attrition warfare, 'besieging' a country until they let up.
2. While sacrifices did take place at the most important ballgames, it was not the ballplayers being sacrificed.

Cannibalism
Ritual cannibalism was practiced in Mesoamerican religions. Some early Spanish accounts say peoples' thighs were literally sold on the market as meat, "as we might sell our pigs" but this is contradicted by other evidence including other Spanish accounts. You may be surprised to learn that cannibalism was actually very taboo in Mesoamerican cultures. Tariacuri the Great once drove his enemies to war with each other when he fabricated tales that one of them had tricked the other into eating human meat. The story goes that it was served at a feast and by the time they were told it was human meat, after having already eaten it, the feast disbanded and everyone went to force themselves to vomit.

Among the high cultures of Mesoamerica cannibalism was only acceptable if the meat was sanctified, that is, came from the body of a sacrificial victim. After the sacrifice, Sahagun says the captor was offered the chance to partake in what was ultimately a transference of energy back to the gods. If he accepted, then a couple ounces of human meat would be served at his home in a celebratory dinner. He could refuse, and there are recorded instances of refusal. One retorted the offer, asking, "Should I perchance eat my own flesh?"

Outside of this specific context cannibalism was perceived as disgusting and morally repugnant. Accusations of it lead to wars and feuds.
The reconstruction of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican population reflected in this game is the result of an inexact science. Mesoamerican states did in fact take censuses of their populations, but these were all lost during the upheaval that resulted with the Conquest. The Spanish estimates throughout the 16th century are at once either unreliable, exaggerations, contradict each other on huge scales, and done based on techniques for census-taking done in Spain that did not reflect the family structure of Mesoamerican peoples. For example Cortez would estimate a population based on the number of 'casas' or 'houses' apparently not realizing that multiple Aztec families cohabited in the same apartment block or calpolli - thus each casa has many more people than a Spanish one. Furthermore, Spanish estimates were made during a time of intense, but not uniform population decline in Mesoamerica due to the introduction of European diseases compounded by forced labor and warfare, and of course Spanish colonial divisions rarely reflected the borders and land area of prehispanic states (however judicial districts came close, apparently). With all this in mind, it is hard to be confident about any specific population estimate for Mesoamerica, especially as the most reliable figures available are centuries after the start date of the BoP in 1426. This applies to the Precolumbian Americas in general, with estimates varying in dramatic fashion. The lowest I have seen is 8.4 million for the entire hemisphere, with just 3 million in Mesoamerica (this BoP has 3 million in the northern half of the Yucatan alone) and just 1.2 million in the entire remaining part of North America, an estimate made almost a hundred years ago that has grown increasingly untenable as the decades pass. The highest proposes a hemisphere population of 112 million in 1492, which is quite unlikely, although the general trend has been for estimates to increase.

Studies in demography, at least those I have read, have suggested that it's somewhere in the middle, with a more plausible maximum estimate for the hemisphere being around 75 million, and 25 million in Central Mexico, all around the time of contact. We are at the point that we can be reasonably confident about these estimates, but there is still a lot of demographic work to be done before an accurate population can be obtained, if it's even possible.

I had five sources that were key in this endeavor, and each with a slightly different methodology.
The Native Population of the Americas in 1492 edited by William Denevan in 1992. Analyzes all previous demographic studies, points out issues with them, and ultimately estimates a new hemispheric population (and 22.2 million in Central Mexico) and tries to measure the rate of decline after contact in different ecoregions. However this book does not even try to get into population levels before contact, merely attempting to establish a minimum and maximum for different parts of the Americas around the time they were contacted by European explorers.
The Basin of Mexico: Ecological Processes in the Evolution of a Civilization by William T Sanders et. al. in 1979. Actually argues for a lower population estimate in Mesoamerica than other more recent sources, lower than I'm willing to believe, but has useful information anyway, and in general offers a rationale to approach developing a population estimate and carrying capacity for regions. In its time it suggested a higher estimate than most previous sources as well. More importantly it gives an idea about a Mesoamerican population pyramid and how much of the population could afford to not produce food (IE full-time specialization in crafts, learning, warfare, etc)
War and Society in Ancient Mesoamerica by Ross Hassig in 1992 is not focused on demography and indeed cites relatively low population figures for Mesoamerica. However his insights focused on the logistics of Mesoamerican militaries and in particular the available manpower that could be recruited into armies by various societies was helpful in other ways.
The Historical Demography of Highland Guatemala by Robert M. Carmack published 1982.
1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles C. Mann published in 2005. Offers some arguments against both Sanders' and Denevan's works above, as well as agreeing with them in some places and bringing up scholarly debates from other sources. Mann feels 70 million for the Americas, and 25 million in Central Mexico alone, is close to the mark.

Then of course there is my own methodology, necessary since my BoP takes place decades before 1492, where population could very well have been somewhat higher or lower. I am not a demographer in the slightest, and I do not think what I've done would hold up under academic scrutiny or anything but it should be good enough for a silly forum game. In general,
- Low-lying areas on the coast suffered dramatically from European contact, with population declining as much as 7 times faster than the highest-altitude settlements in a 30-year period. This has been suggested to do with the addition of malaria to the outbreaks of measles, smallpox, cholera, and whooping cough, in tandem with the overthrow of social structure, support network, and forced labor. Settlements at intermediate altitudes still declined almost twice as fast. With this in mind, coastal and jungle areas have had their later 16th century census estimates multiplied by a much higher ratio than those at higher elevation, with some exceptions where they are known.
- While some sources have mentioned that the carrying capacity in the more tropical, lowland coastal regions was much lower and thus populations historically much smaller, studies done since the 1980s and later have forced a reassessment of this.
- I have kept populations quite similar in those areas where they are reasonably well-documented and understood (comparatively), such as in the Basin of Mexico. In areas which are more poorly studied, I have added usually an additional 20% to estimates I have been given (which themselves admit a margin of error of 25% or more) to try and account for discoveries which have not yet been made. It was only in 2012, long after any of my demographic sources were published, that a newly discovered city in the Patzcuaro basin was found to have had as many as 100,000 inhabitants in 1350, which is quite a lot in any part of the world for that time and I feel would definitely skew estimates upward.
- The intensified agriculture and increasing sophistication of agricultural technologies, not to mention the somewhat more centralized authority and stability provided by the large hegemonic states (as opposed to the patchwork of competing city-states as dominated before) of the Post-Classic Golden Age that directly preceded European contact but has not necessarily fully taken hold yet in 1426, but are factors to keep in mind when considering population density, so in some places populations are lower assuming rapid growth over the next 93 years until Cortez lands in 1519. An example of this is Cholollan, which had 100,000 in 1519 and in the game has 72,000, and the largest single settlement on the map as of 1426. In most cases this was done arbitrarily.
- Many countries and settlements within simply do not have a population estimate anywhere in any of the sources I have at hand. These cases were assigned population based on what seems reasonable based on the density of regions and subregions given in other sources. So many more obscure countries in the same area may have the same or almost the same populations, reflecting the guesswork that had to be done here.

Ultimately, the game's map has about 25 million people. In the 15th century, Mesoamerica is one of the most densely populated and urbanized places on Earth. According to Wikipedia's list of European cities' populations in 1400-1500, only a handful of cities exceed Cholollan in size and most of those that do decline through the century. By 1519, the higher end of estimates for the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan (which include a significant transient population) would place its population higher than the largest city in Europe at that time, Paris, while other major cities throughout Mexico like Texcoco, Cempoallan, Sahayocan, Tizatlan, and Tzintzuntzan are easily comparable to contemporary important cities in Europe like Barcelona, Prague, Genoa, Vienna, and Rouen. Kukulkan's Realm: Urban Life at Ancient Mayapan makes a point of comparing the Yucatan to contemporary Germany (exact words: "Europe north of the Alps") in terms of urbanization, density, and social institutions. More people live in the Maya world in 1426 than live there today.

This is also reflected in the size of armies - even regional powers may be able to put tens of thousands of soldiers to field. At the Battle of Guiengola, for example, 30,000 Mixtecs and Zapotecs faced off against an Aztec army. Meanwhile 11 years before our start date, in 1415, Henry V of England musters 15,000 men (including support personnel) for his campaign in France that eventually leads to the famous Battle of Agincourt. This was the largest army England had raised since the Black Death and was by any European standard a very large force. So, even assuming the Mesoamerican armies' number of combatants have been significantly exaggerated by indigenous or Spanish sources and chroniclers (an aspect that also plays a role in determining the size of European forces), or at least that a large percentage were just porters, they are around the same general capabilities as 15th century Europe.

I make these comparisons in the hope of painting a picture of just how brimming with humanity Mesoamerica really was, and how sophisticated their societies were, which is often contrary to popular images of Mesoamerica as scarcely peopled, with only a single large city. It also should conjure a mental image of the scale of loss wrought by the near total annihilation of this center of high civilization.
At this point, given the relative obscurity of Mesoamerica, if there is someone around here who knows more about it than I do, they can only know a lot more than I do. I fully anticipate to have gotten many things wrong without knowing, and I shoulder all responsibility for oversights and misconceptions that may feature in this bop. Furthermore, even the best knowledge available of Mesoamerica is constantly evolving and often incomplete. The fact many of my sources contradict each other on many details is testament to this. For now though I want to talk about those divergences from history that were intentional.

Inclusion of Classic period sites
Many of the most famous Mesoamerican cities are long-gone by 1426, at least in a significant capacity. Just for rule of cool, some have been brought back. They shouldn't steal the spotlight though.

Proliferation of writing
All playable cultures on the map are assumed to have some kind of writing system, even the most rudimentary sort. This is not necessarily corroborated by archaeological or ethnohistorical evidence. In some places writing may have existed but if it did, then it has literally all been destroyed without a trace in the intervening years. Regardless, everyone on the map knew what writing is (IE, the Purepecha evidently did not write themselves, but they had words for book, scribe, library, etc.) and is in extensive contact with people who do write.

Borders, populations, rulers, cities
It should go without saying that in the majority of cases for the map's 630 countries, borders are approximate, populations are estimates (see section on population reconstruction), and rulers of NPCs as well as many players are randomly-generated. Precise city locations may also be slightly off. More accurate borders would be possible, using references to Aztec provincial boundaries and the like, but liberties had to be taken to ensure that at least the majority of names would be immediately legible on the map. Most of them are based on rivers and mountains and such geological features. More city-states were independent in 1426 than shown on this map, but were confederated for legibility and practicality.

Note that given populations of cities may include a fairly large area around the city, up to 4 square kilometers in some cases, and thus include some satellite towns. You should generally not assume that 100% the given population of a city is living in the urban zone and that the majority of people are still farmers.

Regional cultural assumptions
The lack of data on many now-extinct cultures throughout Mesoamerica and beyond has forced some regions to be generalizations based on the best-known states or cultures of that area. IE societies in Guatemala will resemble the patterns set by K'iche', the Kaqchikels, and Kushkatan, with some exceptions, although it is likely that other groups in the area differed substantially in important ways.

Use of the Long Count calendar
The Long Count fell out of use with the end of the Classic period. Post-classic cultures had other ways of tracking the linear passage of time, but they're a little more complicated, confusing, and way less cool than the Long Count. So this game still uses it, although in-character these other methods still exist.

Use of words like 'knight'
I sometimes refer to Orders' units as 'knights' among other words like champions, elites, etc. While Orders are often made up of a warrior aristocracy that can be in some ways compared to knighthood in Medieval Europe, it should not be understood as a 1 to 1 comparison, and indeed doing so does neither medieval knights nor Mesoamerican military Orders proper justice. I mainly do this for variety because writing 'orders' every time would be a little tiresome.

I prefer this word over the popular 'warrior' however because such a word implies a much lesser degree of professionalism than actually exhibited by Mesoamerican military elite, who were trained and organized to fight in heterogeneous units and observe a strict command hierarchy.
 
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Pixel

Archduke
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The Nahuatl word 'tlamatini' (lit. "he who knows things") meant something akin to "thinker-teacher" - a philosopher, if you will. The tlamatini, who "himself was writing and wisdom," was expected to write and maintain the codices and live in a way that set a moral example. "He puts a mirror before others," the Mexica said. In what may have been the first large-scale compulsory education program in history, every citizen of the Triple Alliance, no matter what their social class, had to attend one sort of school or another until at least the age of sixteen. Many 'tlamatinime' (the plural form of the word) taught at the elite academies that trained the next generation of priests, teachers, and high administrators.

Like Greek philosophy, the teachings of the tlamatinime were only tenuously connected to the official dogma of Tlacelel. But the tlamatinime shared the religion's sense of the evanescence of existence. "Truly do we live on Earth?" asked a poem or song attributed to Nezahualcoyotl (1402-72), a founding figure in Aztec thought and the tlatoani of Texcoco, one of the other two members of the Triple Alliance. His lyric, among the most famous in what remains of the Nahuatl canon, answers its own question:

Not forever on earth; only a little while here.
Be it jade, it shatters.
Be it gold, it breaks.
Be it a quetzal feather, it tears apart.
Not forever on earth; only a little while here.

In another verse assigned to Nezahualcoyotl this theme emerged even more baldly:

Like a painting we will be erased.
Like a flower, we will dry up here on earth.
Like plumed vestments of the precious bird,
That precious bird with the agile neck,
We will come to an end.

Contemplating mortality, thinkers in many cultures have drawn solace from the prospect of life after death. This consolation was denied to the Mexica, who were agonizingly uncertain about what happened to the soul. "Do flowers go to the land of the dead?" Nezahualcoyotl asked. "In the Beyond, are we still dead or do we live?" Many if not most tlamatinime saw existence as Nabokov feared: "a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness."

In Nahuatl rhetoric, things were frequently represented by the unusual device of naming two of their elements - a kind of doubled Homeric epithet. Instead of directly mentioning his body, a poet might refer to "my hand, my foot" (noma nocxi) which the savvy listener would know was a synecdoche, in the same way that readers of English know that writers who mention "the crown" are actually talking about the entire monarch, and not just the headgear. Similarly, the poet's speech would be "his word, his breath" (itlatol ihiyo). A double-barreled term for "truth" is neltilitztli tzintliztli, which means something like "fundamental truth, true basic principle." In Nahuatl, the words almost shimmer with connotation: what was true was well grounded, stable and immutable, enduring above all.

Because we as human beings are transitory, our lives as ephemeral as dreams, the tlamatinime suggested that immutable truth is by its very nature beyond human experience. On the ever-changing earth, wrote Leon-Portilla, the Mexican historian, "nothing is 'true' in the Nahuatl sense of the word." Time and again, the tlamatinime wrestled with this dilemma. How can beings of the moment grasp the perduring? It would be like asking a stone to understand mortality.

According to Leon-Portilla, one exit from this philosophical blind alley was seen by the 15th century poet Ayocuan Cuetzpaltzin, who described it metaphorically, as poets will, by invoking the coyollli bird, known for its bell-like song:

He goes his way singing, offering flowers.
And his words rain down
Like jade and quetzal plumes.
Is this what pleases the Giver of Life?
Is that the only truth on earth?

Ayocuan's remarks cannot be fully understood out of the Nahuatl context, Leon-Portilla argued. "Flowers and song" was a standard double epithet for poetry, the highest art; "jade and quetzal feathers" was a synecdoche for great value, in the way that Europeans might refer to "gold and silver." The song of the bird, spontaneously produced, stands for aesthetic inspiration. Ayocuan was suggesting, Leon-Portilla said, that there IS a time when humankind can touch the enduring truths that underlie our fleeting lives. That time is at the moment of artistic creation. "From whence come the flowers [the artistic creations] that enrapture man?" asks the poet. "The songs that intoxicate, the lovely songs?" And he answers: "Only from His [that is, Ometeotl's] home do they come, from the innermost part of heaven." Through art alone, the Mexica said, can human beings approach the real.

Cut short by Cortez, Aztec philosophy did not have the chance to evolve as far as Greek or Chinese philosophy. But surviving testimony intimates that it was well on its way. The stacks of Nahuatl manuscripts in Mexican archives depict the tlamatinime meeting to exchange ideas and gossip, as did the Vienna Circle and the French philosophes and the Taisho-period Kyoto school. The musings of the tlamatinime occurred in intellectual neighborhoods frequented by philosophers from Brussels to Beijing, but the mix was entirely the Mexica's own. Voltaire, Locke, Rousseau, and Hobbes never had a chance to speak with these men or even know of their existence - and here, at last, we begin to appreciate the enormity of the calamity, for the disintegration of native America was a loss not just to those societies but to the human enterprise as a whole.

Having grown separately for millenia, the Americas were a boundless sea of novel ideas, dreams, stories, philosophies, religions, moralities, discoveries, and all the other products of the mind. Few things are more sublime or characteristically human than the cross-fertilization of cultures. The simple discovery by Europe of the existence of the Americas caused an intellectual ferment. How much grander would have been the tumult had Indian societies survived in full splendor!

Here and there we see clues to what might have been. Pacific Northwest Indian artists carved beautiful masks, boxes, bas-reliefs, and totem poles within the dictates of an elaborate aesthetic system based on an ovoid shape that has no name in European languages. British ships in the 19th century radically transformed native art by giving the Indians brightly colored paints that unlike native pigments did not wash off in the rain. Indians incorporated the new pigments into their traditions, expanding them and in the process creating an aesthetic nouvelle vague. European surrealists came across this colorful new art in the first years of the 20th century. As artists will, they stole everything they could, transfiguring the images further. Their interest helped a new generation of indigenous artists to explore new themes.

Now envision this kind of fertile back-and-forth happening in a hundred ways with a hundred cultures - the gifts from four centuries of intellectual exchange. One can hardly imagine anything more valuable. Think of the fruitful impact on Europe and its descendants from contacting Asia. Imagine the effect on this places and people from a *second* Asia.

Along with the unparalleled loss of life, that is what vanished when smallpox came ashore.

If you want to read some surviving Nahuatl poetry, here's a link to a decent collection: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/12219/12219-h/12219-h.htm#VI

Laypeople have a tendency to imagine that Mesoamerican civilization was "just getting started" when the Spanish arrived, or alternatively that the Aztecs for example are in fact a very ancient civilization. What may surprise you is that the Aztecs were very new to the scene - Tenochtitlan grew from city-state to hegemonic empire in less than a century by the time Cortez landed in 1519. What may surprise you further is that Mexico has had 3,000 years of civilization by the 1400s. The Aztecs do not even exist for 1/10 of this time! The Olmecs, Mesoamerica's first urban culture, are in the same league as the Fertile Crescent, China, India, and Norte Chico (Peru) as the five (universally accepted) cradles of human civilization. Moreover, Mesoamerica is one of just three places in the entire world to have invented writing independently, and it is one of the original hearths of agriculture.

Just like everywhere else in the world this region has seen dramatic changes, and as such, like any history, has been divided into ages or periods. First among these is the "Paleo-Indians" period, the first people who migrated across Beringia from Siberia. This is a more complicated period than you may expect as the oft-touted date of crossing, 15,000 years ago, has been under scrutiny for quite some time. It appears likely that not one but several such migrations happened, as early as 30,000 years ago and as recently as just 4,000! and even back-migrations into the Old World.

The emergence of sedentary life coincides with the Archaic period, starting about 3500 BC. Technologies like weaving, pottery, and masonry appear at this time, as do signs of social stratification. The process of domesticating maize (one of humanity's greatest achievements in genetic engineering) is well underway.

Preclassic period aka Early Horizon
The fun really gets started in the Preclassic (or Formative) period, starting about 1600 BC. By now, maize is productive enough (and nixtamalized enough) to justify intensive agriculture and the Olmec civilization (sometimes called the La Venta culture) emerges in the river valleys of the Gulf Coast. This is the beginning of state formation, monumental architecture, writing, and urbanism. The Olmec region achieved a fairly high population density for the time, and escorted trade caravans brought Olmec influence all throughout Mexico in an effort to procure goods for their hungry upper-class. While most remembered for their large carved stone heads, the Olmecs legacy includes tortillas (and the flat griddles to cook them with), tumplines, rubber vulcanization, writing, calendars, and lodestone compasses, which they used for geomantic divination.

In the shadow of the Olmecs emerged their 'little sisters' as other cultures of Central America in turn began forming states. Most notably among these are the Zapotecs and Maya, whose cultures continue to the present day. Both would refine the Olmec formula, improving the writing system and calendars. While the Maya world soon divided itself into numerous city-states, as the Olmecs' had, the Zapotecs broke the mold in building a single unified empire with its capital at Monte Alban, called in their language Dani Baan. This city and its empire of hill forts, terraces, and libraries would stand over 1500 years.

The Zapotecs and Maya were joined by a plethora of smaller cultures - Tlapacoya, Tlatilco, and Cuicuilco in the Basin of Mexico, El Opeño, La Campana, and El Cerrito in West Mexico, Quelepa and Yarumela in El Salvador, and Tamtoc in the Huasteca. Some of these sites, like El Cerrito and Tamtoc, remain inhabited in the BoP.

All over Mexico, civilization was taking hold. This is Mesoamerica's first flowering. It won't be the last.

Classic period aka Middle Horizon
The decline of the Olmecs, a successful Mixtec rebellion in Dani Baan, and the devastating eruption of the Xitle volcano all set the scene as we move into the Classic period, which starts in 200 AD at the latest. The Classic period is traditionally considered the height of Mesoamerican civilization. In certain ways this is perhaps true - this is the time of some of Mesoamerica's most complex, far-ranging, and powerful kingdoms and empires.

The Maya achieve their first zenith in the arts, sciences, and architecture. Their "sacred kings" (ajaw/ahau) would raise hundreds of stelae, describing divine as well as human affairs, together with inscriptions on murals and pottery. These have endured the test of time, the jungle, and Spanish conquest - With the great advancements made in deciphering the Maya script, we have achieved a unprecedented understanding of individual people, events, and chronology dating centuries before European contact. This was a world of city-states, whose political drama as well as achievements easily compare to those of Hellenic Greece or Renaissance Italy. Most notable among them were ...
  • Calakmul, whose capital boasted 50,000 people. Perhaps the largest, mightiest, and most politically astute of all Maya cities, which recorded an ancient lineage of more than a thousand years, already a large city by the beginning of the Classic. Calakmul's armies and diplomats secured a vast tributary empire of puppet rulers across the Lowlands, holding sway over almost 2 million people in total, and only Tikal would rival its power.
  • Tikal, whose city of 90,000 inhabitants rises from the jungles of northern Guatemala. Tikal and Calakmul formed the superpowers of the Classic Maya world and the two's rivalry and fierce competition - not just militarily but in many "civilian" spheres - dominated Maya politics. Calakmul first came out on top, when after a century of warfare and shifting alliances it had finally surrounded and defeated Tikal. A dark age of 120 years ensued for Tikal - until Spearthrower Owl declared a "Star War", routed Calakmul's armies, and restored a semblance of glory for the city.
  • Caracol, of 60,000 inhabitants, attempted to break out of the city-state pattern and sought to build an empire from its heartland in Belize. The Mayas of Caracol built structures that to this day remain the tallest in Belize, and their city rivals the modern capital in population. Caracol had some luck in expansion through conquest but ultimately its luck ran out and it fell under Calakmul's sphere of influence during the reign of Yaknoom the Great. With Caracol's allegiance, Calakmul was able to make the final push to defeat Tikal, and following these wars Caracol entered a period of prosperity and wealth such that even restored Tikal sought to emulate their styles.
  • Palenque, whose modest core area population of 7,000 should not deceive you. It was here that king Pacal the Great ruled for 70 years and whose reign presided over what many would call the pinnacle of Maya art and architectural majesty, seen in Palenque's palaces and temples. But his clever diplomacy and able military command ensured Palenque's survival in the Tikal-Calakmul wars and even allowed it to defeat its own rivals in Tonina. With Pacal's death came the ascension of much less capable rulers, who failed to preserve Palenque's independence from Calakmul (who desired control over western trade routes) as Pacal had.
  • Copan, whose 20,000+ inhabitants situated themselves in the southern periphery of the Maya world, but this fortunate position allowed them to install themselves as the most prosperous trade entrepot of the Maya world, connecting the Guatemala highlands with the Peten lakes and the Yucatan by a riverine route that remains in use today. Its importance as a trade center made it desirable despite its relative isolation and the city was subjugated by mercenaries of Tikal, whose stewardship of the city initiated a golden age of monumental construction and trade connections for it and its neighbor Quirigua - which later betrayed and usurped Copan with the help of Calakmul. Copan's original nobility fled into exile - some finding refuge among the Lenca.
But there were so many Maya cities that it is impossible to list them all. I always find cool new ones whenever I look.

The Xitle eruption leads to the abandonment of the major Preclassic cities of the Basin of Mexico, and the refugees build in its stead the city the Aztecs would call Teotihuacan, though its original name remains unknown. Despite its humble origins, Teotihuacan would blossom into an enormous city of 125,000 to 250,000 inhabitants during its peak in the 4th and 5th centuries AD. Even the lowest of these two estimates would place it as the sixth largest city worldwide in its time. It was certainly the largest city ever in Mesoamerica up to that point, and possibly even the largest Pre-columbian American city in general.

Its burgeoning population is in large part due to the flow of migrants from all parts of Mesoamerica, attracted by the city's immense wealth. The city accommodated dozens of ethnic groups including Mayas and Zapotecs who lived in their own districts, composed of lofty, richly-painted luxury apartment complexes. At its height, 80% of the population of the Basin of Mexico lived in Teotihuacan, and perhaps just as impressive it achieved just under half that dedicated to full-time crafts production. Large step pyramids were built, most notably the Pyramid of the Sun, completed in the 2nd century AD, for a time the largest in Mesoamerica and the largest single-phase construction in the Americas.

Teotihuacan achieved something else incredible - a relatively high standard of living for all its inhabitants. Much of its population lived in more than 2,000 documented apartment complexes and residential compounds that boast indoor plumbing (including toilets!) built during a century-long building boom in the 3rd century AD. The average commoner's household had around 200 square meters of living space, just under 10x the Aztec average centuries later, and commoners' nutrition was such that they grew to a similar height to the elites. Commoners also had access to luxury goods including fine ceramics and dyes. Experts have calculated Teotihuacan's GINI coefficient at just 0.12, a stunning figure of equality for a pre-industrial culture. This was perhaps made possible by the origins of the city - as a multi-ethnic city of migrants, who settled here after two major volcanic eruptions, communal governance and equal access to resources seems to have become priority. Teotihuacan’s history offers an intriguing counterpoint to modern tensions often stoked by migration. We have a lot to learn from them.

Teotihuacan’s large population, in combination with its meritocratic society, lead to military innovations in logistics, organization, tactics, and equipment. It also could muster the largest army possible in the region at that time. Eager to secure trade routes to supply its affluent population, Teotihuacan’s armies conquered a vast empire. Teotihuacan’s forces penetrated the Maya world, skirting around the empire of Dani Baan which posed a military obstacle, intervening in local conflicts to install rulers and dynasties loyal to Teotihuacan. Colonies were established in the west and south. Thus was born the largest empire in Mesoamerican history and the first one to “unite” much of the area, however tenuously.

Despite its prosperity and might, Teotihuacan had rivals. Xochicalco and Xochipala frequently waged war at its frontiers and gave Teotihuacan stalwart resistance in its attempts at conquest. The Zapotec empire of Dani Baan, weakened compared to its Preclassic height, is still hegemon of a thousand cities situated in rugged terrain, and it has seen fit to heavily fortify the valleys and mountain passes. The Teotihuacanos evidently decided war with the Zapotecs was not worth it and instead pursued a mutually beneficial relationship, building embassies and trading colonies.

Among the colonies founded by Teotihuacano traders was Etzatlan in West Mexico, situated near the Jiquilpan Valley. It was in this valley that another civilization had coalesced ...

(to be continued)

Mesoamerica is not totally isolated and has at least sporadic contact with neighboring cultural regions. While not simulated in-game these places do exist and may come to interact or be interacted with during the course of the game. I'll briefly overview these areas to give you some idea of what to expect should you venture beyond the map's borders.
Isthmo-Colombia
Population - Costa Rica: 400,000, Panama: 1 million, Colombia: 3 million
Centered at the crossroads of the Americas, at the end of the isthmus of Panama and a necessary pitstop between the two beating hearts of civilization in the Americas, Mesoamerica and the Andes, the country today known as Colombia was home to numerous civilizations and complex chiefdoms going back thousands of years, as well as a plethora of simpler tribes with origins all over the Americas. Colombia is an amazingly diverse land, with glaciers and strange highland valleys of towering rail-like palms or agave-shrub swamps in its northernmost stretch of the Andean mountains and volcanoes, plunging to the wonders of the wetland savanna of the Llanos and its Rainbow River of Caño Cristales, along with the vast diversity of the Amazon forest on its East side; and the rain-soaked Pacific coast on its West, the wettest place on Earth.

With some exceptions, Colombia’s people neglected to build cities of stone like their counterparts to the north and south, making cone-shaped colonnaded temples of wood instead. Nonetheless, their mastery of hydraulics engineering, the sophistication of their metallurgy, complex government systems, and yet more importantly their role as the primary provider of trapiche emeralds in the entire world until the early 20th century, has solidified Colombia’s prestigious place in the rich history of the Americas.

Oasisamerica + Aridamerica
Population - Total: 1.08 million estimated. Northwest Mexico: 540,000 | Northeast Mexico: 100,000 | Baja Peninsula: 60,000 | Arizona and New Mexico: 180,000 | Central Mountain region (includes Utah, Nevada, bits of Colorado): 200,000. If California is included: 2.08 million total population.
(I am still very uncertain about these figures and they may change if more information becomes available.)

This is a vast region of canyonlands, mesas, cacti forests, deserts and shrublands. Among these is the Mojave desert, my home, alongside the banks of the Colorado river. The aridity of this region has meant its peoples turn to expert use of dryland agriculture using crops imported from Mexico in time immemorial, forming towns of populations numbering in the thousands, centered around fortified adobe complexes, temples, and ballcourts. Some of their constructions may be considered monumental, as in the case of the Coliseum-sized Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon. The desert is perilous and unforgiving, however, and severe drought has dried up the rivers. Many have begun migrating for greener pastures elsewhere. Meanwhile, new Athabaskan migrants are arriving from the north and further increasing tensions on the few remaining sedentary holdouts.

The modern US state of California is in many ways distinct from this region, including being much more densely populated despite the lack of intensified agriculture present in the deserts to its west. However, its proximity and bustling web of trade networks make it worth mentioning. This state's Pre-Columbian population probably reached 1 million, living in villages of 50 to 500 people in a continuous spread.

Caribbean
Population - Total: 5.85 million estimated. Cuba: 500,000 | Hispaniola: 1.95 million | Puerto Rico: 60,000 | Jamaica: 100,000. Other islands remainder: ~3,190,000. If Venezuela is included: 6.85 million total population.
The dominant people of the Caribbean are the Taino, or Island Arawak, who form the majority if not exclusive population on the islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica. On Hispaniola almost 2 million people live within the territories of 5 large and sophisticated confederations, which the game would consider Altepetl centralization level. But the most common in this region would be Simple Farmers, making use of cassava, an Amazonian crop, as a food staple, supported by large-scale fishing and cultivation of sweet potato. A more recent wave of settlers from the mainland, the Caribs, are expanding into the archipelago from the south, colonizing the Windward Islands and frequently warring with the Taino and others.

Despite relatively simple maritime technology (dugouts w/ straking) the geography of the Caribbean has allowed a substantial degree of contact and trade between all its constituent islands and, during parts of the year, mainland areas including the Yucatan Peninsula as well. Rubber is imported from Mesoamerica and the peoples of the Caribbean partake in their own version of the ballgame, while their staple crop, cassava root, has recently obtained a foothold in the Yucatan and Oaxaca.

Much of Venezuela is often included as part of this cultural region (at least in this context) because it is from here that most Caribbean peoples originated for the last several thousand years and it is the mainland place that islanders are most frequently in contact with. The most commonly cited estimate for Venezuela is 1 million people, concentrated in the Andean and Maracaibo area. There is a complex culture here, the Timoto-Cuica.
 
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Pixel

Archduke
Okay so since I ended up showing someone these anyway, although they aren't final, I figured it might help some people pick a culture to look at if they know what unique stuff that culture has.

A full list of Culture bonuses is here. Please keep in mind that these may be changed before the game actually starts. * indicates this is especially likely.
- While character stat increases from culture cannot exceed the cap of 5 for that skill, the extra points are randomly allocated into other skills. IE a Purepecha king with 5 statecraft, instead of getting 7, might get +1 Martial +1 Diplomacy.
- Mercenaries of that culture do benefit from their culture bonus.

Purepecha
Forts cap out at level 7, instead of level 5. Can arrange marriages with mercenary lineages, when they do this the mercenaries give +5 Authority (to a max of +10) which lasts as long as the marriage does.
Empire: Characters have +2 statecraft (does not exceed cap of 5).

Huichol
Merchants give piety when they bring Peyote to a trade entrepot which doesn't have it. Half (rounded up) of the trade profit also counts as piety.
Empire: Gain a surge of research points when that happens, too. All of the trade profit also counts as research points (so 100 tribute from trade also equals 50 piety, 100 RP)

Caxcanes
While a Martial god is patron, all wars trigger one of his omens when they start. Regulars do 20% more damage against enemy armies with higher Professionalism.
Empire: Able to have two patron gods instead of just one.

Totorames
Aquaculturists: Floods are a positive event, yielding tribute based on agriculture tier (15 per seems fair). Pyramids do not require trade goods to build, just tribute.
Empire: Aztatlan Complex; Bonus trade income selling cacao, cotton, bronze *

Lenca, Xinca
Lempira's Last Stand: Forts cost 50% less tribute to build and maintain. Pyramids -25% tribute to build.
Empire: Riverine Commerce; All controlled entrepots count as maritime routes for you and everyone else. *

Matlatzinca, Mazahua
High Valleys: Only can lose population from floods and disease (not tribute, characters, or works tiers). Sling Tradition: Slingers deal +20% more damage.
Empire: Adaptive; conquering cities with higher level public works are automatically copied to your capital

Aztecs, Nahuas
Armies cost 20% less maintenance while on campaign. Captives generate twice as much piety.
Empire: Orders' ratio to Regulars now +5%.
- Yes, the maintenance discount only applies if the army is actively out on campaign, though this also includes escorting merchants and raiding and the like.
- The Empire bonus means they can train more Orders regiments than other Empires.

Traditionalist Maya (Given to Classic period and some Lowland countries)
The Calendar Round: Doubled bonuses from Palaces tiers, and upgrading palaces automatically researches the next Library tier.* Can have 3 (instead of 2) level 6 Works at once.
Empire: Omens last +1 turn longer than normal.

"Toltecized" Maya (Given to Maya states in Cuauhtemallan, in the Peten, and much of the League of Mayapaan)
Plumed Archers: Invited mercenary lineages halved happiness penalty on your own lineages. +25% more piety from controlling sacred goods.
Empire: Cosmic War (Remember Star War?): Receive a combat bonus for assaulting cities upon the first turn of declaring war. *

Pipil, Nicarao, Chorotega
Codified Laws: Bonuses from Legalism levels +50%, and research in legalism simultaneously researches Palaces with an equal RP investment. Warrior Pioneers: 20% damage bonus against Non-Mesoamerican cultures.
Empire: ??? *

Zapotec
First to Write: Libraries 50% off to build and maintain. Research points made by characters and libraries also generate a quarter of their output in Piety.
Empire:  Zapotec Medicine: Twice as many troops get wounded instead of killed in battle.
Notes:
- Only RP from characters and libraries count, so Base RP generation is not also Base Piety generation. RP given randomly to reflect good fortune or player planning also does not contribute piety. Neither does RP from Omens unless otherwise stated.

Mixtec, Triqui, Huaxyacac Chontal
Exalted Craftsmen: Bonuses from Crafts levels +50%. +1 trade good to start.
Empire: Red-and-White Bundle: Each Ballcourt tier increases the odds of a marriage leading to a personal union.

Amuzgo
People of the Book: Bonuses from Libraries levels +50%. +1 research slot to start.
Empire: Hegemony of Ayacastla: Amuzgo minorities in foreign realms will attempt to revolt to join the Amuzgo's empire.

Totonac
Vanilla Monopoly: Marketplaces 50% off. All trade income at entrepots outside of the Totonac culture area increased by 50% if lacking Vanilla.
Empire: Maize and Ballgames: Every other ballcourt level ensures one Lineage’s happiness to gravitate towards 50 (unless authority makes it higher)
Notes:
- Basically the empire bonus makes it so ballcourts act as 50 Authority but only for one lineage, rather than all of them. As this applies every other level it means up to 3 lineages can be affected this way.

Huastec (aka Teenek)
Matriarchy: Agriculture upgrades 50% cheaper. Unique Omen for Tlazolteotl - Aspect of Cotton, which makes cotton in-demand at entrepots even where it is already available.
Empire: Maritime Enterprise: No distance penalty for trading at coastal entrepots and the Bayou.

Otomi
Blacksmiths: Unlock a new trade good with every level of Crafts, instead of every other level. Legendary Archery: Archers deal +20% more damage.
Empire: Berserkers: Melee units deal +25% more damage when their regiment has sustained 50% or more losses.

Chatinos
Resilient: Forts have stronger effect (as if +1 tier) on counterespionage, reducing unrest, and reducing loot taken by hostile armies. Bug Boys: Dyes provide trade profit as if they weren’t available at an entrepot even if they are.
Empire: Harmonious Neighbors: States with the same Pantheon lose -20 piety and -5 authority temporarily if they campaign against the Chatino. Raids have no penalty.

Me’phaa (aka Tlapanecs or Yopes)
Goddess of the Temazcal: Sanitation tiers -50% tribute to build, and give small passive piety income like a temple. Earthquake Resistant Construction: Works have a high (-4 dice) resistance to earthquakes.
Empire: Warriors of the Flayed One: Armies have +1 morale and troops deal +15% more damage.

Cuitlatecs (aka Ajnelgatl), Coixcas, Tecuztecos
Legacy of the Mezcala: Crafts tiers also generate a unique resource, Artifacts (5 per tier) which can be turned into tribute or piety (player choice) at a ratio of 5:1 or 1:1 respectively.
Empire: People of Gold: Each owned/produced Prestigious trade resource increases Authority by +2.

Mixe (aka Ayuujkjä'äy)
Battle of the Bands: Poems composed by learned characters grant Prestige in addition to their normal effect, based on character's learning and current stability.*
Empire: The Unconquered; In times of war, choose one character with at least 2 Martial to make him 5 Martial. The stars will align on his first engagement.*

Zoque
Revanchism: Zoque armies take much 15% less damage when fighting in areas majoritively populated by Zoque (even if ruled by other cultures).
Empire: Legacy of the Olmecs; Markets and controlled entrepots generate twice as many migrants.

Chocho (aka the Ngiwa) (also Mazatecs, Cuicatecs, Chinantecs?)
Birthplace of Maize: Agriculture tiers increasingly reduce maintenance cost of all other existing Works, starting at -5% and up to -30% at level 6.
Empire: The Dam of Tehuacan; Chocho now immune to floods. Carrying capacity of the Tehuacan Valley raised by +50% and income from population raised by +50%.

Chichimeca (Some cultures of the west and north that are Simple Farmers and above)
Hostile armies take additional attrition. Forts and temples -20% tribute cost to build.
Empire: Legacy of La Quemada; Doubled trade income in controlled inland entrepots.

Seminomads (All cultures of seminomad centralization level)
Leaders have +1 martial. Gain slightly more tribute from looting.
Only holy sites required to switch pantheons, and elevating deities is much easier.

A lot of these have something to do with works, so I'll post their equally tentative stats here:
Crafts (Levels 1-5, Statecraft)
Represents operations to refine your basic trade goods and produce them on a larger scale, creating a larger supply to sell abroad. Each level in crafts increases tribute income by a set amount per tier, while every other level will unlock a new trade good (usually based on raw materials you already have access to). Thus, improving crafts is a powerful way to increase your tribute income when you have a low population base.
Workshop: Level 1 - +15 tribute income
Tlaximalcalli: Level 2 - +30 tribute income
Tolteca Crafts: Level 3 - +45 tribute income, New trade good
Calpolli Guilds: Level 4 - +60 tribute income
Artisan Complex: Level 5 - +75 tribute income, New trade good
Manufactory: Level 6 - +100 tribute income, New trade good, All Manufactured goods become in-demand at foreign entrepots. *

Agriculture (Levels 1-5, Statecraft)
A combination of new agricultural techniques and technologies together with hydraulic engineering projects allows your state to get more out of the land and people it already possesses. Each level in agriculture increases the tribute income gained from population by a percentage, boosts population growth, and grants protection against floods. Most established civilizations on the map have a level or three here already.
Simple Horticulture: Level 1 - +10% tribute from pop, +1% pop growth
Slash and Burn: Level 2 - +20% tribute from pop, +1.5% pop growth (should be the most common level on the map)
Irrigation: Level 3 - +30% tribute from pop, +2% pop growth, flood protection 1
Milpa: Level 4 - +40% tribute from pop, +2.5% pop growth, flood protection 2
Raised Field/Terraces: Level 5 - +50% tribute from pop, +3% pop growth, flood protection 3
Chinampas: Level 6 - +60% tribute from pop, +4.5% pop growth *

Education (Levels 1-5, Statecraft)
Mesoamerican societies had for the time some of the most advanced education systems in the world, and one of the first mandatory public schooling systems ever recorded, along with specialized academies and other institutions of higher learning. Each level of education improves the efficacy of training a character for stats boosts and grants research slots.
Traditional: Level 1 - +1 Research Slot, Level 1 Training
Apprenticeship: Level 2 - +1 Research Slot, Level 2 training
Basic Aristocratic Education: Level 3 - +1 Research Slot, Level 3 training
Basic Commoner Education: Level 4 - +1 Research Slot, Level 4 training
Calmecac Academies: Level 5 - +1 Research Slot, Level 5 training
Telpochcalli Schools: Level 6 - Can train characters twice, +10% manpower, +20 research points to allocate *

Libraries (Levels 1-5, Diplomacy)
Major cities (and many minor ones) throughout Mesoamerica like Tetzcoco assembled libraries of hundreds to thousands of amatl codices, a collection of literature so vast that the number of these which have survived the intervening years - scarcely more than a dozen - give a very misleading picture of the prevalence of books in ancient Mexico. Where education gives slots, libraries give points.
Personal Collection: Level 1 - +15 research points to allocate
Book Painter’s House: Level 2 - +30 research points to allocate
Book Painter’s Guild: Level 3 - +45 research points to allocate
Royal Archives: Level 4 - +60 research points to allocate
Amoxcalli: Level 5 - +75 research points to allocate
Huey Amoxcalli: Level 6 - +90 research points to allocate. Repeat visits to an entrepot you control from the same foreign merchant yield increasing research points with each visit, in addition to the money. *

Sanitation (Levels 1-5, Statecraft)
Sanitation represents sweat lodges, sewer systems, cleaning crews, hospitals etc. Various measures taken to improve public health. Mesoamericans were obsessed with hygiene. Taken together these reduce the chance and severity of disease outbreaks, raise the life expectancy of characters, and help slightly with population growth.
Temazcals and Bathhouses: Level 1 - +.5% pop growth
Apothecary: Level 2 - +1% pop growth, life expectancy increase, disease protection 1
Sewers: Level 3 - +1.5% pop growth, life expectancy increase, disease protection 2
Urban Cleaning Crews: Level 4 - +2% pop growth, life expectancy increase, disease protection 3
Cocoxcacalli: Tier 5 - +2.5% pop growth, life expectancy increase, disease protection 4
Indoor Plumbing: Tier 6 - +3% pop growth, life expectancy increase, disease protection 5 *

Fortifications (Levels 1-5, Martial)
Fortifications protect cities from enemy armies, allowing the city to be defended even while its armies are away from home. In this way forts are both a defensive and offensive tool, able to project power around itself, especially useful for capitals. Each level increases the garrison and damage dealt to enemy siege assaults, creates patrols in the area to give warning of hostile campaigning armies and reduce unrest, and improves counterespionage. Seminomads are limited to fort level 3, after which point it will cost considerably more tribute to expand.
Palisades: Level 1
Palisade and ditch: Level 2
Low adobe wall: Level 3
High adobe wall: Level 4
Masonry walls and gatehouses: Level 5
Multiple concentric masonry walls: Level 6 -
Towers: Level 7 (Purepecha Only)
Citadel: Level 6 (Level 8 for Purepecha)

Legalism (Levels 1-5, Statecraft)
Mesoamericans developed complex legal systems, including written codified laws, interpreted by judges and juries. Building a legal tradition helps the happiness of the noble lineage in particular, and cements the ruler’s authority somewhat. Each time legalism is upgraded nobles get a one-time +5 happiness bonus in addition to the growth factor.
Oral Tradition: Level 1 - +1 noble happiness/turn, ruler +5 authority *
Customary Law: Level 2 - +2 noble happiness/turn, ruler +10 authority *
Codified Law: Level 3 - +1 commoner happiness/turn *
Supreme Court: Level 4 - +3 noble happiness/turn, ruler +15 authority *
Appeals Courts: Level 5 - +2 commoner happiness/turn *
Specialized Courts: Level 6 - +3 commoner happiness/turn, ruler +20 authority *

Markets (Levels 1-5, Diplomacy)
Markets serve to increase the income from trade, both from merchants being sent to other entrepots and from entrepots you control.
Border Markets: Level 1 - +5% trade income *
Marketplace: Level 2 - +10% trade income *
Market Town: Level 3 - +15% trade income *
Commercial Plaza: Level 4 - +20% trade income *
Emporium: Level 5 - +25% trade income *
Grand Emporium: Level 6 - +33% trade income, +1 merchant *

Temple (Levels 1-5, Statecraft)
Gives +10 piety and +5 priests happiness when built and upgraded, and a small passive income every turn.
Shrine: Level 1 - +2 piety per turn,
Minor Temple: Level 2 - +4 piety per turn, +1 priest happiness/turn
Major Temple: Level 3 - +6 piety per turn
Grand Temple: Level 4 - +8 piety per turn, +2 priest happiness/turn
Temple Plaza: Level 5 - +10 piety per turn
Sacred Precinct: Level 6 - Piety resets to 25 when an omen is used (Basically means you can ‘cast’ omens faster), +3 priest happiness/turn *

Ballcourt (Levels 1-5, Statecraft)
Gives +10 piety when built and upgraded, and a small passive income every turn. They also help the happiness of all Lineages somewhat. Technically, at a certain point a ballcourt gets too big for practical use of it to actually play the ballgame, like Chichen Itza’s apparently was more for show. So this is probably more about quantity of adequate ballcourts than the size of an individual one.
Open Ballgame Clearing: Level 1 - +2 piety per turn, 20 tribute to build, 2 to maintain
Ballcourt Pit: Level 2 - +2 piety per turn, 20 tribute to build, 2 to maintain
Circular Ballcourt: Level 3 - +4 piety per turn, 20 tribute to build, 2 to maintain
Rectangular Ballcourt: Level 4 - +4 piety per turn, +2 lineage happiness/turn, 30 tribute to build, 4 to maintain
Monumental Ballcourt: Level 5 - +5 piety per turn, 30 tribute to build, 4 to maintain
Ballcourt Stadium: Level 6 - +5 piety per turn, +2 lineage happiness/turn, +1 noble happiness/turn, 40 tribute to build, 6 to maintain *

Roads (Levels 1-5, Statecraft)
WIP
Advanced roads did exist and serve similar purposes to roads elsewhere in the world. In addition to increasing merchant happiness, they help to draw migrants and pilgrims to your country. Every other level also increases the speed armies march, including hostile armies if they should gain control of the road. The 6th tier also gives some piety.
Game Trail: Level 1
Caravan Routes: Level 3
Sacbeob: Level 5
Great Sacbeob: Level 6 -

Palace (Levels 1-5)
From the colonnaded halls of the Yucatan to the villas of Central Mexico, palaces serve to augment the ruler’s prestige, acting as formal places to conduct diplomacy and and hold court rituals and feasts. Give +5 prestige every time they are upgraded and a small passive income. Require Altepetl civ level. Palaces do not require research, but have a higher cost than most works. Republics cannot build them.
Chieftain’s House: Level 1 - +2 prestige/turn *
Speaker’s Hall: Level 2 - +2 prestige/turn *
Princely Manor: Level 3 - +4 prestige/turn *
Royal Palace: Level 4 - +4 prestige/turn *
Emperor’s Complex: Level 5 - +6 prestige/turn *
Level 6 - +6 prestige/turn. Orders’ regiments now cost 20% less tribute to recruit. (8 instead of 10) *

Pyramid (Levels 1-10)
WIP
Gives +10 piety when built and upgraded, and +1 every turn per level. Strengthens Omens regardless of piety? Unique bonuses? Attracts pilgrims = population growth and trade income? Require Altepetl civ level. Requires trade goods like stone, dyes, etc. Pyramids do not require research, but have a higher cost than most works.

By the way I'm very happy to see the turnout for signups so far, with more than 10 people applying and the thread hasn't even been up for 24 hours. Also pleasantly surprised that not everyone is just picking Tenochtitlan, as I expected.
 

Pixel

Archduke
Delora Filth said:
1: Zacatecas

Which one? :smile:

We'll be at 17 applicants after Monty. I'm gonna go ahead and call signups over at 18 applicants - I feel I can handle more but I'ma play it safe for the first turn and see how things go. If you're thinking of changing your picks, do it soon.
 

Pixel

Archduke
With that, I'll go ahead and close signups (tho Rocco of course still has time to choose). Any after this point will be replacements or hold your spot until I decide I can handle more players (which I think fairly likely as I am the most prepared I have ever been, but still wanna play it safe)

For now here is a tentative (until rocco picks) playerlist:
Captured Joe - Cholula (Aztec, Central Mexico)
Fredelios - Tlaxcallan* (Aztec, Central Mexico)

JudgeAlfred - Yucu Dzaa* (Mixtec, Oaxaca)
Moose! - Za'chila* (Zapotec, Oaxaca)

SotoElTerremoto - Ozuluama (Huastec, Gulf Coast)

Arch3r - K'iche'* (Maya, Guatemala Highlands)

ComradeCrimson - Chactemal (Maya, Yucatan Peninsula)
TitanToe - Acalan-Tixchel (Maya, Yucatan Peninsula)
Draorn - Cocom* (Maya, Yucatan Peninsula)

Crassius Curio - Tzintzuntzan* (Purepecha, West Mexico)
Dago - Acoliman (Otomi, West Mexico)

Monty - Tayasal Itza (Maya, the Peten, Guatemala)
Alma - Yax Mutal (Maya, the Peten, Guatemala)

Grimmend - Chiametla (Totoram, Northwest Mexico)
Delora Filth - Tlacuitlapan (Zacateca, Northwest Mexico)

Iacobus - Teotihuacan (Aztec, Basin of Mexico)
AdmiralThrawn - Tenochtitlan (Aztec, Basin of Mexico)

Rocco - Hasn't chosen
* = Major
 

Pixel

Archduke
Try again  :razz:
What are you interested in doing? I can give recommendations. Maybe look along the Gulf Coast, there's few players there.
 

Pixel

Archduke
If you are one of these players:
- Teo
- Ryry
- Grimmend
- Dago
- Crimson
- Monty
- Alma
- Joe

Then you do not have a historical ruler, so I need you to DM me with how you would like your ruler's 8 points to be distributed among his stats: Martial, Diplomacy, Statecraft, and Learning. They're each 1 by default, and 5 is the maximum.
 
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