Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Relic--Xiuhcoatl

Detailed here is an artifact for use in the game, one that could be a prize in a treasure hunt or that could be used to launch a campaign of intrigue and insurrection.


Of the many items taken as treasure from the New World, or fought over by soldiers and sailors from various nations, none is more powerful or more shrouded in mystery than the weapon known as Xiuhcoatl.

This artifact is described as being an atlatl, a short staff used for throwing javelins with greater force. It is crafted in the shape of a serpent, decorated with pieces of turquoise that look like scales. The end of the staff is shaped so as to resemble a snake's head, rearing to strike. It is about two feet long but rather heavy to hold.

The wielder of Xiuhcoatl, when using it to hurl enchanted javelins (+1 or greater), can treat them as javelins of lightning. Additionally, that person can use the following spell-like abilities, with the frequency indicated below.

1/day—Control weather
2/day—Control winds, call lightning storm
3/day—Call lightning, pprotection from energy, wind wall

Note that, because the artifact embodies the power of Xiutecuhtli, the god of dryness and the sun, the relic cannot be used to summon rain, but can conjure up dry electrical storms and powerful winds.

As an intelligent item, this weapon has Intelligence 14, Wisdom 16 and Charisma 18, with Ego 12. Its designated purpose is to lead the Aztec people to victory, be that against the Spanish or any other enemies who stand in their way.

When it first appears in the annals of history, Xiuhcoatl was said to be in the possession of the Aztec hero Huitzilopochtli. It was he who led his people down into the territory of New Spain, finding there the sign—an eagle perched atop a cactus, clutching a serpent in its talons—that identified their new homeland. From that point it is believed to have been passed down among the rulers of the Aztecs, ending up with Montezuma at the time of the Spanish Conquest. It can be assumed, then, that the relic fell into the hands of Cortez and his conquistadors, probably taken as spoils back to Spain. Historians know, however, that at least one of the galleons making that return trip fell prey to the pirate Jean de Fleury (also known as Florin), so it could have ended up in the hands of the French.

Here the picture becomes murky, but details of seemingly unrelated events can perhaps provide some insight. Not long thereafter, the French established the fort of St. Caroline on the northern edge of what would become Florida. This act brought them directly into conflict with the Spanish who claimed the entire region for themselves; it also eventually led to a war with the local natives. The exact reason for this move are unknown, but some believe that the French intended to lead an uprising among the natives against the Spanish throne. If that should be the case, it would make sense that they possessed the relic as a symbol of power.

The story of that fort ended with a series of tragedies. First the natives refused to cooperate with the French, leaving the settlers short on food and provoking hostilities between both parties. Then the Spanish sent a force to besiege the fort; the soldiers promised to treat the French well if they surrendered, but then massacred them after they laid down arms. The Spanish then tried to establish their own fort on the same location, but a French freebooter returned and destroyed it, murdering its inhabitants in revenge for the previous betrayal. At that point, any hint to the location of Xiuhcoatl is lost.

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