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Any Mysteries of Mesoamerica review?

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#1 Tazera

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 05:29 PM

Hello fellow cultists ( ;;; )

 

When I realized there is a book with source material plus 4 adventures in Mesoamerica, and some of them in my country Mexico, I said yes, please, I must have it. Especially since I'm planning to run Maks of Nyarlathotep and it seems that the first of the adventures work perfectly as a prequel... at least, that is what the MON Companion suggests. The prequel on the Companion doesn't really convince me, I found it a bit cheesy to be honest, like a Scoby Doo episode where if it wasn't for Jakson Elias, his friends and their dog the plan could have been a success. Anyway, the problem is that Pagan Publisher, as many other publisher houses cost quite a lot to ship to Mexico. For the Mysteries of Mesoamerica I would be paying over 60 Dollars, almost Thousand Two Hundred pesos (a lot just for a book just over 200 pages). My question is, is it really worthy? It seems they don't sell a PDF copy, which, of course, is always a cheaper option....

Any experience running the adventure? As a Mexican with a good knowledge of Aztec and Mayan culture, is it an accurate book? Or do they use Hollywood Spanish (Hasta la vista, Baby, Viva cincou de Mayou) and portray the country as a caricature?

Any answer would be more than welcomed!

 

El Cultisto




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#2 wombat1

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 06:07 PM

I own the book and have used it exactly as you describe, to get a MoN prequel, along with the scenario in the MoN companion.  I cannot pretend to have your depth of knowledge about the Aztec and Mayan cultures, however the book has an extensive section on the ancient cultures of Mexico, and it seems to be a well-researched and good source book in that regard, written with sympathy and not stereotype.  The scenarios are also quite good, they can stand alone, or make a little loose campaign, or be dropped into some longer campaign. 

 

I agree that $60 U.S. for a book is expensive, so I cannot comment on value for money, but at a lower price, I would recommend the book enthusiastically.

 

But let's look a little more at MoN and such.  The MoN companion correctly points out that one of the weaknesses of MoN is that it opens with the announcement that "the investigators are all good friends of Jackson Elias."  No elaboration of how this came to pass.  The companion, at least the proof reading version that I had, tried to solve it, but still opened with the characters knowing Jackson Elias, at least well enough to warrant his sending them  a telegram.

 

So, to solve this problem, I resorted to what  might be called the "long lead-in" to MoN.  Any scenario can be the right opening scenario, provided the instigating character who involves the investigators:

 

a ) can be replaced with Jackson Elias and;

b ) survives the adventure.  Jackson Elias has to have script immunity for the first (several) scenarios, because he has to be available for the opening of MoN, or there is no point to the effort in the first place.

 

So, I opened up with a scenario from one of the monographs, where the investigators had to retrieve a manuscript for the instigating character, and I made some whole-sale replacements of characters, assuming that it is a small world among the elite.  Jackson Elias has more than one friend.  Bradley Grey, lawyer to the Carlyle interests, must have more than one client in his New York law firm, so one of them in New Orleans tasks his good friend, Jackson Elias, in New York, to run down to his lawyer, Grey, to see about getting a manuscript back that had been improvidently lent out.  Grey doesn't usually handle this sort of thing, and calls his usual private investigator, who also doesn't handle this sort of thing, but recommends the investigators.  Elias, and the investigators, meet at Grey's office, and the investigators are briefed.

 

The investigators go and get the manuscript, and realizing that Call of Cthulhu manuscripts are usually bad things, somehow manage to drop the last page of it in the local river, though they then fish it out.  This ends the first scenario.

 

Elias and the investigators go to New Orleans, to square things with the patron about his damp manuscript.  They go to a speak easy to for dinner to calm ruffled feathers, and gun play breaks out.  This turns out to be "Dead Man's Stomp."  Hijinks ensue along with a very large fire in a store of medicinal alcohol.    This ends the second scenario.

 

Elias goes off to Mexico, following a lead, but leaves the investigators a copy of his latest book. The patron realizes that the investigators have certain talents and recommends them to another friend who has a problem.  This turns out to be the scenario in "Secrets of New Orleans."   More hijinks ensue.  This ends the third scenario.

 

Elias calls for help, this being the scenario in the draft edition of the MoN Companion, however the big lead he is working on is not really in that site, but in one of the scenarios of "Mysteries of Mesoamerica."  The investigators work their way through both scenarios.  This ends the fourth and fifth scenarios. 

 

Elias now goes to get into the trouble that will lead to the opening chapter of MoN.  The investigators go back to New York, where they have scenarios six through 'N,' to mark some time off the calendar--Grey finds work for them, his clients find work for them, and we are pulling scenarios out of any handy book.

 

No rush to get to MoN--we may never even get to MoN by this method, but we build to it inexorably.  Trick is to start early enough on the calendar so as to leave enough time.



#3 rylehNC

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 01:35 PM

It is reviewed on RPGnet, but the review title is wrong (Mesopotamia).

 

https://www.rpg.net/.../15/15691.phtml


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#4 Shrike

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 04:01 PM

I would rate this book as excellent, and the critiques mentioned by the RPG.net reviewer are easily dealt with by a few adjustments by any Keeper worth their salt who has an eye towards Masks.



#5 leonardolad

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 05:25 PM

Any experience running the adventure? As a Mexican with a good knowledge of Aztec and Mayan culture, is it an accurate book? Or do they use Hollywood Spanish (Hasta la vista, Baby, Viva cincou de Mayou) and portray the country as a caricature?

Any answer would be more than welcomed!

 

I love this book. I'm not Mexican (my wife is, though) nor a scholar in Mayan and Aztec culture, but this is definitely no Hollywood Spanish. I've spotted some honest mistakes here and there, but I think that, as a Mexican, you would like it. I've run The Well of Sacrifice once and, as stated in the book, it's pretty lethal. If the idea is to run it to create a friendship between the investigators and Elias, you would have to tone it down a bit (or a lot).



#6 HomoLupusDomesticus

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 09:59 PM

I'm kind of a Mexicophile, my wife is from Mexico and I am fairly knowledgeable on Mesoamerican precolumbian cultures and indigenous peoples, though certainly not an archaeologist, anthropologist or historian. I own the book and thought it was kind of meh, certainly not worth 60 dollars.

 

The thing is, there is very little information in the book that would give you an impression of 1920s Mesoamerica, political and military situation, law, safety, travelling, transport, infrastructure, archaeology in the region in the 1920s, and the aftermath of the Mexican revolution.

 

The information on the precolumbian past is very generic and there's little on the "scientific" views held in the 1920s.

 

If you switch the Mesoamerican names and deities for non-Mesoamerican ones, the adventures could be set anywhere in the world. There's very little that makes them specifically Mesoamerican IMHO.


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#7 Pookie

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 10:46 PM

I have a review of the book here:

http://rlyehreviews....s-peculiar.html

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#8 The_Tatterdemalion_King

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 01:58 AM

The thing is, there is very little information in the book that would give you an impression of 1920s Mesoamerica, political and military situation, law, safety, travelling, transport, infrastructure, archaeology in the region in the 1920s, and the aftermath of the Mexican revolution.

 

Yeah, I'd still like to put together an actual sourcebook on Mexico and Central America in the period. 


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#9 JeffErwin

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 02:14 AM

Yeah, I'd still like to put together an actual sourcebook on Mexico and Central America in the period.


It's a very interesting era for Mexico and has a lot of fascinating people that ought to be included... See here: http://clas.berkeley...xico-city-1920s for one angle on it.

I think also an adventure with Bierce and Carcosa might be worth writing...

#10 Tazera

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 08:53 AM

Wow thank you for all the answers, awesome community! I see that there is a a kind of love-meh relation towards this book. Yeah, maybe if it wasn't 60 dollars to get it to Mexico City I would order it :( Thanks again for the comments! 



#11 HomoLupusDomesticus

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 02:08 PM

Yeah, I'd still like to put together an actual sourcebook on Mexico and Central America in the period. 

 

I'd think that covering such a large region in one book would be a tad bit too ambitious. Even covering the whole of Mesoamerica - which "only" includes northwestern, central and southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and parts of Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, and doesn't include most of northern Mexico - would be stretching it. A book focusing on one country or even on one region within that country would be far more useful for RPG purposes. A sourcebook detailing 1920s Mexico City and some of the surrounding rural areas would be an almost instant buy for me!


Edited by HomoLupusDomesticus, 28 May 2017 - 02:11 PM.

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#12 wombat1

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 06:26 PM

Your instincts otherwise are sound--the MoN companion prequel needs a prequel in which the investigators meet Jackson Elias for the first time, at least if it is anything like the one I proof-read in the MoNC draft.

 

Now that could be anything.  It may be that you sit down and write it yourself for somewhat less cost than $60, or that you rework an existing scenario.

 

For that matter there is certainly room for multiple Mexico/Aztec/Maya/Central America source books.


Edited by wombat1, 28 May 2017 - 06:28 PM.


#13 Tazera

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 03:57 PM

Your instincts otherwise are sound--the MoN companion prequel needs a prequel in which the investigators meet Jackson Elias for the first time, at least if it is anything like the one I proof-read in the MoNC draft.

 

Now that could be anything.  It may be that you sit down and write it yourself for somewhat less cost than $60, or that you rework an existing scenario.

 

For that matter there is certainly room for multiple Mexico/Aztec/Maya/Central America source books.

 

Yes, I totally agree... At the end I decided to use a rework of No Man's Land as a prequel fo MoN... I like the idea of  investigators from different backgrounds meeting in a war scenario, and even two females players get a chance to be with the party as a nurse and a war correspondent. For the rework I took away some encounters (not gonna give spoilers) and left pretty much cultists instead of the cocktail of Mythos creatures that is this adventure.

 

I tought also about using Age of Cthulhu Vol. 5, which contains an adventure called Abominations of the Amazon...







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