Tlazolteotl
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Basic Information

Tlazlteotl (also known as Tlahēlcuāni, Tlazōlmiquiztli, and Ixcuina) is the Aztec Goddess of filth, vice, lust, seduction, adultery, sexually transmitted disease, dirt and excrement. (Yep, she's a toilet god.) The Aztec world view was very nuanced, and so she is also the goddess of cotton textiles, purification, forgiveness, steam baths, midwives and child birth. That can be a little hard to wrap your head around from the modern perspective, but it all fits cohesively with the Aztec philosophy of Teotl: there is no difference between sacred and profane, and they didn't see good and evil from the same world view we do today.

Tlazlteotl is a sin-eater. A Priest of Tlazlteotl could hear your Confession and grant you mercy or forgiveness - though the ritual trappings were rather different than the Catholic equivalent - and full absolution could only be granted once in your life so you'd best save up for when you need it most. Most of her major worship services involved sacrifices of urine and feces, and the mercy-granting ritual required the petitioner to strip naked. Every year in September, Tlazlteotl was invoked in a multi-week holiday of sweeping, cleaning, purification and repair, called Ochpaniztli. As I said, the Aztec world view is nuanced and complex, so this was also a festival for the planting of corn, dancing and military ceremonies.

Tlazolteotl_1.jpg

Tlazlteotl is often depicted with black lips or ochre stains around her mouth - a sign of the filth she eats. She is also often depicted in the midst of childbirth, with a half-emerged infant visible.

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Game and Story Use

  • Tlazlteotl is a great character for establishing the values dissonance of the aztec culture, in contrast to modern western culture.
    • In one Scion RPG campaign I ran, she was a major NPC ally (and mother to one of the PCs) but a giant pain-in-the-ass. She wanted what she felt was best for her daughter, and didn't care how uncomfortable those ideas and interference made everyone.
    • She's a temptress or succubus figure, but also really gross, and also one of the "good guys" - a figure of forgiveness and mercy who is highly important to her community and culture.
  • Any of her major festivals or holy days would be great for reinforcing the otherworldly or foreign aspects of Aztec culture. The PCs wander into the middle of a celebration that they can't quite wrap their heads around. Great for Fish Out Of Water or Fish Out Of Temporal Water goofiness.
  • Magic items or holy relics dedicated to Tlazolteotl are likely to be distinctive and memorable. Think sacred toilet paper of absolution, enchanted aphrodisiacs, magic mop and bucket that bring prosperity to any building they clean, a shower-head of healing, or a Pandora's Box of mortal sins she was saving for a late night snack. Some deities bless swords, Tlazolteotl probably imbues plungers or scrub brushes.
  • The previous bullet points kind of focus on playing this up for humor or weirdness, but there's also the option to go full-on creepy. An eater of sin and excrement can be unsettling. Play to your audience, and try to get a feel for what's going to resonate with your players.
  • If the PCs have committed a major mistake, error, sin or betrayal, they may have to go to the real pro to get that redemption story (or clear their karmic debt). Tlazolteotl (or her clergy) may be able to absolve you of a taint no one else is equipped to deal with.
  • Maybe the cause of all the corruption, trashy headlines and tabloid nature of the past few years is a consequence of not enough worship of the being who could gnaw it all away. The PCs, or a cult, might try to appease or re-activate Tlazolteotl in hopes of changing the destiny of the world.
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