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NyarlathotepScribe

RM308 and The Mysteries of Mesoamerica

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csmithadair
I just would like to have a general impression of how many people were involved in a dig and how many of them were foreigners, how extensive the excavations were and what kind of equipment was used. Is that kind of information included?

 

I finished the book some time ago, so can now report back on the scenarios. There is some good, concrete information in the scenarios that can be extrapolated quite easily for running games in the setting.

 

My assumption is that some or all of the scenarios were developed first. When the source material was compiled, the editors concentrated on information not covered in the scenarios themselves.

 

From the scenarios, I got a good picture of different archaeological expeditions (digs, of course, but also surveying), tasks and jobs for the members of those expeditions, dealing with the governments and the inhabitants of the countries, etc., etc.

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HomoLupusDomesticus

Sounds good. I am planning on ordering Mysteries of Mesoamerica. The online store where I usually buy my RPG stuff doesn't charge delivery costs for orders higher than 50 euros so I need to think of another book to add before I can actually order it.

(Suggestions? ;))

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malcojones

New Tales of the Miskatonic Valley?

 

Best, malcojones

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doccthulhu

New Tales of the Miskatonic Valley will soon be available at iguk.com, if that's any help.

 

Doc

MRP

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HomoLupusDomesticus

I'm in the Netherlands and usually order my stuff online at TROF or bol.com. I'm rather limited in my choice of online stores because I don't (want to) hold a credit card.

Anyway, I haven't really checked out New Tales... but I'll consider it if it appeals to me.

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HomoLupusDomesticus

I finally received my copy of Mysteries of Mesoamerica. I haven't read it in detail but from just skimming through it my general impression is that it's a very decent supplement.

 

As a fan of precolumbian Mesoamerica and therefore, admittedly, perhaps overly alert to faulty information on the subject, I still wanted to point out that even with this superficial skimming of the book I already noticed a couple of errors.

 

For example, it is claimed that the name 'Olmec' was given to this culture by the Maya. With the word olmec being of Nahuatl origin this of course cannot be true. In fact, the name olmec is derived from olmecah, which is the name the Aztec used to refer to contemporary inhabitants of the so-called heartland of the Olmec culture. These sometimes-called 'historic olmecs' - they were actually referred to as olmecah-xicallanca - bare no known relation whatsoever to the prehistoric Olmec.

Another flaw that caught my eye: the Pipil people of El Salvador are referred to as 'Pipil Maya', but even though El Slavador is part of the Maya region the Pipil are not Mayan. They are but one example of many pocket populations of speakers of Nahua languages, of which the Aztec's Nahuatl is an example, that can be found all over Mesoamerica.

My overall impression of the precolumbian part of the text was one of an overly simplistic and diffusionist view of the Mesoamerican culture area with societies developing there owing practically every major cultural trait to their supposed primordial mother culture: the Olmec.

Such flaws surprise me, really, because among the referenced books mentioned in the back there are some fine, recent publications on the subject.

 

I don't know enough about early 20th century Mesoamerica to pass any judgment on the information applying to that era. This is actually the main reason why I wanted to get this book.

I did notice one NPC of Mayan ethnicity who is an archaeologist, which seems highly unlikely in the 1920s as the involving of the indigenous people themselves in studying their own past is only a recent development and to my knowledge it is still not so common to find archaeologists of indigenous origin.

 

Now I don't want to come across all negative because apart from the flawed introduction to precolumbian Mesoamerica I really like how this book looks (and smells!) and it shows that a lot of work and enthusiasm went into making it. It practically breathes the adventurous, exotic, 'mesoamerican' atmosphere it is trying to convey and the scenarios, which of course shall not be checked for archaeological/anthropological flaws since they are of a fictitious nature, at first glance look like they'll be a lot of fun to run with my group.

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HomoLupusDomesticus
(...)the book also lacks really useful information and maps for Mesoamerica 1914-1927(...)
This I fully agree with, since what readers of this book most likely want is to have enough info to be able to run CoC in the Mesoamerican culture area. What kind of situations would investigators encounter there in the 1920s?

 

And since the scenarios show...

(...)how the Mythos exploited Mesoamerican religions, instead of Mythos figures being equated to Mesoamerican deities(...)
...one might argue that the book could have done without an introduction to Mesoamerica's precolumbian history, or at least that broad strokes would have sufficed, especially considering that this introduction, IMO, turned out a chaotic, incomplete and poorly structured read containing faults that can be fixed by one simple Wikipedia search. There are many books out there that make for a better introduction to the subject, even for laymen:

 

Michael D. Coe's The Maya and Mexico: from the Olmecs to the Aztecs, together make for a particularly clear and well-written introduction.

 

I'm hoping a historian or anthropologist here may come up with an evaluation of the more recent historical information contained in the book as I have no idea if that part suffers from the same handicaps. If so, perhaps a decent literary source could be suggested as an alternative.

 

Overall I fully agree with the review you linked to, Pookie.

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