Flower War
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Basic Information

Flower War was the name given to the battles between the Aztec Triple Alliance and some of their enemies and vassals. The objective was to capture as many enemies alive as possible so that they could be used for mass sacrifices (for example, to stave off a famine1). A few of these prisoners may have been "honored" with becoming an ixiptla (a living-avatar of a god) for periods of up to a year before being killed in special individual ceremonies.

There is also some suggestion that the flower wars were designed to be a ritual resubjugation of vassals and a way of wearing down enemies without actually going to war.



Game and Story Use

  • Participating in a flower war works well for combat-oriented adventures - and the fact that they will get sacrificed if they are captured alive should serve as an additional incentive!
  • Regular, formalized "flower wars" between neighboring nations could make an interesting cultural background for highly martial and religious cultures. And the spoils for the victors are great - in addition to the prestige of winning the "competition", they also get the greatest blessings from their gods and have the largest number of capable warriors left!
  • This might actually serve as a form of worship pleasing to a war god - if there isn't a genuine war to be had, go out and find one.
  • This could also serve as an origin for gladiatorial traditions - bringing the flower war out of the fields and into the stadium.
  • In some cultures, the originally bloody flower wars might have evolved into a more humane "game" where the fights are not made with lethal weapons and the captives are ransomed with other sacrifices or valuables.
    • However, there might be some underground cult which still practices the flower wars the "old way" by kidnapping people and sacrificing them - thus leading to conflict with the PCs as they investigate the cult.
    • This is not so far from the traditions of football hooliganism - historical football was a lightly sublimated form of warfare, bringing it onto the pitch under association rules left a void that needed to be filled. For a wainscot-fantasy campaign, it would not be unreasonable to find that rival firms of casuals are actually venerating some of the old Saxon, Norse or Brythonic war gods.
  • The Hunger Games as per the young adult novel series, are a similar phenomenon with the added wrinkle that the Capitol makes its vassals fight each other and doesn't put its own people on the line at all.
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