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Lords of Chaco
Adventures in the Ancient Southwest
A D20 System Expansion By Tori Bergquist
1st Draft 1/06/04 released from

In the mists of unrecorded history lie the untold tales of the original settlers of southwest America, the native americans who comprised the greater cultural complex referred to as the Pueblo cultures. The Zuni, Hopi, Tewa, and Tonoho’Odoham are modern descendants of the much older peoples to colonize and dwell in the four corners region and throughout New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and even Nevada. The Anasazi, Mogollon, Kayenta, Mesa Verde, and Cinagua Indians were all prominent cultures in the southwest, living lives with an egalitarian structure, building pueblos, kivas, ball courts, and other complex structures for their time, and building complex religious practices based on oral tradition and costumed dance. Warfare, exploration, trade and commerce was a presence in the lives of these people, and judging by the oral traditions handed down to the present, a sense of morality, inquisitiveness, and adventure was also important.
The Lords of Chaco sourcebook is going to provide a breakdown on how to run a campaign of primitive adventure, a sort of fantasy brought to its roots, using the Southwestern puebloan cultures as the root for this material. I will try to be as authentic as possible in details without bogging it down in any unnecessary complexity. The idea is that you should be able to use this material to run a campaign in the spirit of the ancient Anasazi and others, but that it should be flexible enough to provide a sort of mytho-historical basis for your game. If you want to conspire to create your own fantastical worlds and realms, you can do it with this material. If you want to be as close as possible to the “real world” view on the ancient southwest, then you should be able to do it here as well. Unlike my Roman Republic campaign, “The Ancient Realms,” I am not going to pin this particular campaign down to a specific period in time. Instead, I’ll provide you with an accessible (non-academic) overview of a several hundred year period in history, and allow you to either derive from that your campaign’s period in time, or extrapolate from that same outline a variety of intermixed cultures in your own mytho-historical campaign. A third possibility is the “Southwest as it Should Be” option, in which you presume all myths are true, and the world of the Lords of Chaco is a timeless realm, one with no risk of European contact down the road, great droughts causing massive social and geographical upheaval, and so forth.
Anyway you take it, enjoy using this material! I will provide an expansion down the road for running games set in the period of European contact, as well, so you can intermix this information with more traditional “modern” D&D elements as well. Enjoy!

Campaign Styles
As mentioned above, you might want to think about what sort of campaign style you would like to start a Lords of Chaco game with. Some suggestions:
Historical adventures should pick a time period on the Historical Chart below, and from that you should provide the PCs with a basic understanding of what they would know about that period of time. An effort to keep regional names and cultures straight should be made, and you can use actual sites and locations in the Southwest for adventures. Some liberty with the myths and characters of the land may be taken, but the material will for practical purposes be derived from what we know of the cultures recorded after European contact. Supernatural elements and characters may not exist in this campaign style.
Fantasy Historical
In this environment, you can take some unexpected liberties with how the cultures of the southwest worked, can compress lengthy events over time in to abrupt, catastrophic events for PCs to deal with, make things a little bigger than life, and be more liberal with the supernatural elements and their origins.
In the Mytho-historical setting, you can be more prosaic in the nature of the southwestern peoples and their lives, read up on the mythic figures and tales of the southwestern indians and integrate such material in to the daily events of the campaign. In such a campaign, PCs are as likely to bargain with Coyote himself as they are a rival village elder.
The Way It Should Be
This is the Southwest as only epic fantasy merged with the tall tales of myths could tell it. Here you could be a trickster figure yourself, the gods are active and busily working to put the finishing touches on Creation, Ogre Kachinas are as big a threat to your community as the neighboring cannibals, and somewhere in your Atl-Atl wielding Kayenta Warrior is a dollop of Hyperborean heritage compliments of Robert E. Howard. This is the most flexible, wild, and over-the-top approach to a Southwest Campaign.

Characters may choose from a list of appropriate languages (see the section on appropriate languages). In the Americas, there were two major migrations of broad language groups, the Uto-Aztecan (of which most Southwest Puebloan cultures were a part), and the Athapascan (a later migration, from which Apache, Navajo, and most Canadian groups were part). The Lords of Chaco assumes most human cultures come from the same broad language group (Uto-Aztecan), and so may attempt to communicate with other groups of different local dialect by making a DC 12+ check on Intelligence to get a basic understanding across. If the conversation is complex or specific, the DM should increase the DC appropriately.
Literacy did not exist as such in the Southwest. All characters are illiterate. There is a special form of skill that can be bought as a language: Glyphic Script. A character with Glyphic Script can read and write the symbology of his culture in the form of pictographs (painted symbols) and petroglyphs (stone carved symbols) on stone walls in caves, canyons, cliffs, etc. Such symbols are used for recording events, notating astronomical and seasonal details, and supernatural information. It is not a common means of communication, at least not as modern language is used. A character with Glyphic Script may buy ranks in Decipher Script and use that skill to divine the esoteric meaning of petroglyphs and pictographs.
Some suggested Languages: Chacoan, Kayenta, Cinagua, Mogollon, Hohokam, Tradespeak, Chichimec, Western (Californian), Plains (Eastern). This is a simplified way of handling languages.
The following are optional Fantasy Languages: Crow, Coyote, Raven, Snake, Spirit (Sky), Spirit (Underworld), Rabbit, Insect.
Optional Languages of Later Athapascan Cultures: Apache, Navajo, Yaqui. A Unique Language: Zuni (use if you put a Zuni archetype/equivalent somewhere in the campaign).
Modern Language groups would include Hopi, Zuni, Ute, Tiwa-Tewa, Tonoho’Odoham (Papago), Yaqui, Apache, Navajo, Commanche, and others. These are all languages that would show up after 1400.
Fictional Languages
You could choose to run a larger than life game set in a southwest of your own devising. The archetypal languages of such a realm should include one or more of the following: A language for each major pueblo culture, a language for the invading pastoral culture(s), one or more languages for other nomadic cultures, usually new to the area, and some foreign languages for those “other people out over the mountains.”

Character Races

Characters in The Lords of Chaco may belong to one of the following races: Humans, Shapeshifters, Anthropomorphs, and Spiritfolk. Among these races, Humans are the only historical race available; the rest may be available in other campaign formats at the DM’s discretion.
Humans function much like they do in the Core Rules, and receive all listed benefits there to reflect the natural heritage of ingenuity, invention, and predilection for survival that one finds in the species at large. Humans may start with their native language, and additional languages chosen from the Language section appropriate to the game, at the DM’s discretion. Humans should also choose a cultural background appropriate to the campaign style.


Some humans in the myths of the southwest are capable of changing form. This is usually a sign of witchcraft, but many instances of shapeshifters appear in myth, individuals who can change form to that of an animal, and perhaps have an affinity for that particular species. If you choose this racial template, it is assumed you are the latter (animal shifting form) and you must consciously choose to be a witch (described as a two-heart or skin walker).
Shapeshifters who are animal kin will receive benefits of the animal they are able to change in to. These characters may polymorph at will in to the form of said animal, and should look for stats on the animal that are appropriate in the Monster Manual. Their animal form will have all stats as per the animal type, but Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma, Hit Points, and skill values will be based on the human form of the character. A Shapeshifter in animal form gains access to all attacks, feats, and special abilities of that form, and when achieving a new level, may choose to advance the level of that form instead of in a class (in other words, a level of class in that animal form, instead of in a standard class. Use the MM rules for advancement).

Spiritfolk is a sort of catch-all that refers to characters who have spiritual blood, or pure spirits who have chosen to come up from the underworld or down from the stars to walk among men. Star Woman, a famous myth figure who lures the Trickster Coyote in to the sky out of love, but in her whimsy he is cast back to the earth as a shooting star to create a crater lake. Many spiritfolk are above the realm of men, but those who choose to walk amongst mortals are given to adventure and whimsy, and thus are suitable as player characters.

Character Classes:

There are a variety of existing classes and some new core classes available in the Lords of Chaco setting. Some of the core rule classes are inappropriate, except under special campaign conditions.
Barbarians are a class which fits a European theme, and to be a barbarian, one should have a civilization for point of comparison. Nonetheless, the raw fury and primal focus of the barbarian class can be acceptable in a Lords of Chaco campaign. Such characters would be drawn from northern athapascan tribes, Plains dwellers, and other foreign cultural groups to the established societies in the Southwest.
The classic bard is inappropriate for Lords of Chaco. The Storyteller Exper class is it’s effective replacement; Simply use the Expert class with Perform as the primary ability. Such Experts likely cross class with Shaman, however, to gain mystical insights to their tales.
Clerics are decidedly Old World, and would be appropriate to represent a Columbian period contact campaign, if Spaniards are allowed. Such clerics would be catholic missionaries and monks, often quite eccentric, to have come to the New World to explore and convert.
Druids are decidedly European and would not be permissible in a Lords of Chaco campaign. However, some of the Druid spells are now available to sorcerers.
The concept of the professional warrior is undeveloped in the Mythic Southwest, but nonetheless, warfare and battle are common. Fighters are a regular class, and are usually tribal warriors, lone wanderers skilled in protecting themselves, or aggressive leaders and protectors.
Modification: Fighters are proficient with all weaponry and armor available in the southwest (see the list) but do not begin with proficiency in more modern arms and armor until exposed to such for one full level. If a fighter in a post-columbian game, for example, finds a suit of plate mail from a conquistador, he can wear it, but must doe so at penalty until he advances a level. After that, he is considered proficient as a fighter with that object.
Fighters do not get to pick any mounted combat feats unless you are running a post-columbian campaign in which horses have been introduced.
A paladin does not fit in to a Lords of Chaco campaign, although a high fantasy campaign featuring Post-Columbian contact with Spaniards or another fantasy realm of similar nature might allow for holy conquistadors of god. Such paladins might have some unusual notions of right and wrong, when dealing with the natives of the Mythic Southwest.
Ranger (Scouts and Hunters)
The ranger is a rare but permissible class, a variant of the fighter who is obsessed with monster hunting. The ranger’s wilderness focus is diminished in Lords of Chaco, as all PCs are prone to developing a rapport with nature out of necessity, but the ranger could be the one who takes it just a few steps farther. Optional, but not entirely inappropriate if you’re running monster-heavy high fantasy games.
Rangers also reflect the scouts and hunters who are common professions amongst the communities of the land. If you wish to run a character with such skills, the ranger is appropriate.
Modifications: Rangers may choose not to learn magic, and instead take Weapon Specialization at 4th level and then on as a Fighter instead. Such rangers may gain an extra proficiency slot at 4th, 8th, 12th, and 16th level instead of spell use. If they take this option, they may never become spell casters.
Rogue (Trader, Furrier, Trickster, Explorer)
The rogue is the other principle character class next to fighter. A rogue’s ability to be a jack of all trades becomes important in the Mythic Southwest, and a nimble adventurer, explorer, and trickster is considered a necessary component of society. Rogues are found as traveling traders moving from community to community offering trade goods, furriers who bring in skins from the hunt, and even opportunists who move to a community and stay there until they wear out their welcome.
Modifications: Lock Pick does not exist (no locks to pick). Clown Dancing (Dex), Bargaining (Cha), and Perform: Storytelling (Cha) are new class skills.
Sorcerer (Witch, Two-Heart, Sorcerer)
Sorcerers are feared and respected. Often regarded as witches, sorcerers are mortals who have been touched by the spirits, either through dark bargains, accident of birth, or more sinister means. Sorcerers are standard spell casters in the Lords of Chaco, as the use of magic written in a book does not presently exist.
Modifications: Sorcerers have a stigma when using their magic amongst those unfamiliar with their nature. They experience a -2 to -4 circumstance penalty when dealing with those who are fearful of magic or suspect that they are either witches or monsters.
Sorcerers in the Mythic Southwest may choose from more than the usual list of spells in the Player’s Handbook. Sorcerers get to pick from the Druid and Sorcerer spell lists, and in fact Druid spells are considered especially appropriate. Some spells may not be specifically appropriate in the Mythic Southwest, and require some modification. Any spell which involves a metal implement or creature not native to the land will instead require the culturally/regionally appropriate equivalent, or supply the caster with something that meets such requirements. For example, Monster Summoning will summon only appropriate monsters (dire wolves, bears, boars, and so forth are okay) but not others (demons or devils, for example).
The Magic section provides a complete list of appropriate and inappropriate spells for Chacoan Sorcerers.
The wizard has not appeared is the Mythic Southwest yet, although a post-columbian campaign might allow for mystic scholars seeking lost knowledge in the New World.
NPC Classes:
The Commoner is a permissible class to reflect the average man or woman in a community. Likewise, Experts, though not so common, could be found among artisans who specialize in pottery making, wood working, adobe construction, agriculture, animals (turkeys or parrots in the south), trade and jewelry. Aristocrats are not permitted except in a post-columbian campaign or among Mesoamerican cultures, if elements are introduced. Warriors would represent the average defenders of a community and Acolytes could exist as secretive witches.

New Classes of the Mythic Southwest

Pueblo Shaman

The Pueblo Shaman(or just shaman) is a common and respected religious figure among the southwestern cultures. Shamans are astute religious men who are well versed in the language and dealings of the spirit world, and who are both civic leaders and ceremonial organizers. Considered valuable advisors to community chieftains and average men alike, shamans have a lot of social clout in their communities.
Shamans are made, not born, and a shaman will take on a student in his time, a youth of the community who has a particularly potent vision quest, in which fasting and other means are taken to have a direct mystical encounter with the spirit world. Such a shaman in training goes through a profound change, and will come away from the experience with knowledge of the spirit real, divine magic, and his totem spirit animal.
Adventures: Shamans can be tethered to a community which they defend and aid, or they can be called to wander by the spirits they seek to work with or control. Shamans are mysterious, beholding to no one save their mysterious pursuits.
Characteristics: Shamans are divine practitioners of magic, and either receive or steal their magic from the spiritual world which overlaps the real world around them. Shamans gain this connection through their totem spirit, a spirit animal which travels with them in the spiritual realm and grants them a special tether to the real of things unknowable.
Alignment: Shamans are capable of reflecting many different needs and personalities according to the dictates of their tether to the spirit world. A civic leader and religious organizer would be lawful, while a Shaman who becomes corrupted could be evil, as he falls in to the way of the Two-Hearts and revels in his power. Most shamans seek a harmonic balance between the real and spiritual worlds, and are neutrally aligned.
Religion: The shaman is not a follower of any one god or pantheon, though he is a man who most certainly respects the spirit world and the gods who walk within it. Shamans seek to appease, trick, or coddle the spirits in to doing good for mankind, not revere or worship such beings. Nonetheless, the shaman must, out of necessity, maintain a reverence for the realm of nature and the spirits at large, recognizing that all beings are equal and important in nature.
Background: Shamans almost always have a community from which they herald, and a master who raised them in to full adulthood. Shamans have a loose society amongst themselves, and this mostly consists of the different kachina cults which advocate the spirits who are revered in dance and ritual costumes. Some shamans are isolated, dwelling in solitude, and ust be sought out for knowledge or services in different remote mountains.
Races: Humans, spiritfolk, and shapeshifters may all be shamans. Even those touched by the spirit world or belonging it can revere their element.
Other Classes: Shamans know that fighters and rogues are important to the community, indeed comprise it. Likewise, they might respect any rangers or barbarians for their versatility in the wilds. Shamans naturally mistrust foreigners, knowing they are a blight on the natural balance between the real and spiritual world. They do not trust sorcerers, knowing they follow paths that lead to witchcraft and worse.

Game Rule Information:
Shamans have the following game statistics:
Abilities: Wisdom is used to determine spell level permitted (Wisdom must equal 10 plus the spell level to cast that level of spell), bonus spell slots, and bonus spells. The difficulty class of a Shaman’s saving throws for spells are equal to 10 + the spell’s level + Wisdom modifier.
Alignment: Any alignment is permissible.
Hit Die: D8

Class Skills:
The Shaman’s class skills are Animal Empathy (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge: Religion (Int), Knowledge: Arcana (Int), Knowledge: Nature (Int), Knowledge: Spirits (Int), Profession (Wis), Scry (Int), Spellcraft (Int), and Survival Lore (Wis).
Skill Points at 1st Level: (3+Int modifier)x4.
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 3+ Int modifier.

Class Features:
All of the following are class features of the Shaman:
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Shamans are proficient in all simple weapons and light armor native to the culture.
Totem Animal Spirit: At first level, the Shaman acquires his totem spirit. This is a spiritual presence, an animal of the spirit world, that moves with him and helps to defend him from danger as best it can. This ability has the following characteristics:
Summon Totem Spirit: The spirit may be physically summoned once per week, and will take on the characteristics of an animal of that type with the Spirit Template (see monster section) attached. The spirit in physical form will remain for 3 rounds + the Wisdom modifier of the shaman, or until dispelled or killed. If killed, it returns to the spirit realm and cannot be summoned for one month. The shaman must make a DC 10+level of the shaman Will Save to retain a connection to the slain spirit, or it is lost and another one must be found. During this time, the shaman suffers an incurable -4 modifier to Constitution, and must spend 2d6 weeks on a vision quest for a new spirit. All magic he attempts will be as if her were one half his normal level.
Enhance Spell: Once per week, the shaman may call upon his totem spirit to enhance a spell he casts. He may pick any one of the metamagic feats to be simulated by this ability, and use it as if he owned the feat. The effect takes place as the spell is cast, and no penalties or spell slot requirements are necessary or incurred to complete the process. This ability is only used at the time of the actual casting.
Guidance: Finally, the shaman can call upon the Totem Spirit for guidance in actions to be taken. He receives a +5 insight bonus to his next skill check when using Guidance, and may call upon this ability once per week per level he has achieved as a shaman.
Divination: As a shaman becomes more powerful, he can call upon powerful spirits for guidance. At 2nd level, he may use guidance as if casting Augury a number of times per week equal to his Charisma modifier (minimum of 1).
Greater Divination: At 7th level, a shaman may perform Divination as per the spell a number of times per week equal to his Charisma modifier (minimum of 1).
Master of Spirits: Eventually, by 11th level the shaman becomes so in tune with the spirit world that he can call upon the Legend Lore spell once per week per Charisma modifier.
Turn/Rebuke Spirits and Undead: Any being with the spirit identifier, as well as any undead, may be turned or rebuked by a shaman. Evil shamans may in fact control such beings. The Shaman receives this power at 3rd level.
Bonus Feats: At levels 6, 12, 15, 18 and 20 a shaman may take an Item Creation feat or a Metamagic feat.
Spell Casting: Shamans cast spells in the manner of Clerics, and may choose spells from the Cleric list of divine magic. All normal divine magic rules apply.

Pueblo Shaman Level Progression

Level Base Attack Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1 +0 +2 +0 +2 Totem Spirit:
Summon Spirit
Enhance Spell
3 1 - - - - - - - -
2 +1 +3 +0 +3 Divination 4 2 - - - - - - - -
3 +1       Turn/Rebuke Spirits & Undead 4 2 1              
4 +2         5 2 2              
5 +2         5 3 2 1            
6 +3       Bonus Feat 5 3 2 2            
7 +3       Greater Divination 6 3 3 2 1          
8 +4         6 3 3 2 2          
9 +4         6 4 3 3 2 1        
10 +5         6 4 3 3 2 2        
11 +5       Master of Spirits 6 4 4 3 3 2 1      
12 +6/+1       Bonus Feat 6 4 4 3 3 2 2      
13 +6/+1         6 4 4 4 3 3 2 1    
14 +7/+2         6 4 4 4 3 3 2 2    
15 +7/+2       Bonus Feat 6 5 4 4 4 3 3 2 1  
16 +8/+3         6 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2  
17 +8/+3         6 5 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 1
18 +9/+4       Bonus Feat 6 5 5 5 5 4 3 3 2 2
19 +9/+4         6 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 3 2
20 +10/+5       Bonus Feat 6 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 3

Technology and Cultural Development

The prehistoric southwest expanded out of a gradual period of development lasting several millennia. In Archaeology, this period has been defined in terms of several specific periods based on the emergent development of specific tools and accompanying changes in lifestyle. Each of these periods is subdivided in to particular points of development. This chart will give you a quick idea of the major periods of development up to Spanish contact. It is important to note that the major dividing line between Basketmaker periods and Pueblo periods is the development of ceramics, which allowed for a revolution in basic agriculture, which led in turn to a more sedentary lifestyle, and subsequent developments in building and architecture, leading to the rise of the pueblos. The chart below is based on what is called the Pecos Classification, and originates from the 1927 Pecos Conference to establish a developmental line for the Southwest complexes. Other archaeologists have amended or tinkered with it, but the Pecos Classification remains the most common time frame.
All material in the Lords of Chaco Campaign background assume that the game is set during a Pueblo III period. This was the time of greatest fluorescence and development in the prehistoric southwest, and ends with two major events: The dissolution and migration of the major pueblo complexes of the period, followed by the establishment of the newer complexes which are present when the Spanish arrive. With the Spanish arrival, the prehistoric context of the southwest ends, and Post-columbian contact forever changes Puebloan cultures.

A Word About Domesticated Transportation, or Lack of It
In the Ancient Southwest, people walked.....a lot. Horses were not introduced to the Americas until Europeans brought them over, and while they were readily absorbed in to the culture and lifestyle of the Native Americans, the concept of a beast of burden was nonexistent before then.
A fantastical variation of the mythic southwest could allow for horses or other beasts as mounts, but it wouldn’t be very true to the spirit of the historical precedent. If you set your campaign during the initial times of post-columbian contact, horses will be relatively new but heartily embraced, most especially amongst the nomadic cultures, such as the apache, in the southwest. When reading various myths and tales from the different cultures of the time, keep in mind that much of the oral tradition which includes tales of warriors on horseback, horses as spirit figures or mounts for such, and other elements are all recent, and post-date the pedestrian prehistory of the time period this setting focuses on.

Domestic Animals
As you might suspect, dogs are, and always have been, man’s best and oldest friend. Dogs have been domesticated for as long as men have made camps and hunted for food, leaving scraps to their furry friends. Likewise, amongst the pueblos (especially pastoralists lik the Navajo and their predecessors) goats (and post-columbian sheep) are a precious commodity. In anasazi cultures, such beasts are often depicted in petroglyphic evidence of the period, and were generally hunted, rather than herded, until much later on. Domestic animals for food such as turkeys were introduced late in Pueblo III or later by Mesoamerican traders coming up from big sites like Casa Grande, where turkey pens were everywhere, and macaw parrots were raised for both feathers and novelty.
Periods of Cultural Progression in the Southwest
Basketmaker I 5500 B.C. - A.D. 400 Oshara Tradition, nomadic hunter gatherers of a lengthy period of development. Pre ceramic. Tools included early projectiles, chipped stone tools, stone grinders, hearths, smoke limited basketry (woven sandals, interlocking stitch basketry).
Basketmaker II 700 B.C. - A.D. 450 Principle basket maker culture, still hunters and gatherers, with stone overhangs and some evidence of pit house dwellings. Farming of maize and squash. Tools included atl atls (spear throwers), knives, stone drills, a variety of woven artifacts (sandals, aprons, bags, robes). Still pre caramic.
Basketmaker III A.D. 450- 750 Ceramics are in development in this period. Pithouse villages now common, the bow and arrow replaces the atl atl, and domestication of the turkey appears next to developing agricultural practices. Trade with Northern Mexico evident.
Pueblo I A.D. 700 - 900 Wattle-and-daub housing above ground becomes common. Pithouse structures migrate closer to kivas. Aboveground rooms used primarily for storage in this time. Agriculture the primary source of village sustenance. Trade more extensive. Pottery more complex, with extensive plain ware and painted styles. Cotton introduced from Mexico.
Pueblo II A.D. 900 - 1100 This is the true period of Anasazi fluorescence. Extensive pueblo complexes appear with kivas as communal center points. Cliff dwellings on great complexity appear. Extensive middens near major villages appear. Pottery continues to grow in complexity with coiled and slip techniques.
Pueblo III
(This is the default historical period for Lords of Chaco Campaigns.)
A.D. 1100 - 1300 The rise and abandonment of the Chaco Canyon complex, as well as the Kayenta, Mesa Verde, and others. Large multi room, multistory masonry pueblos appear with large kivas as complex center points appear. ater management systems for irrigation and storage appear. Notable population increases during this period. Most major complexes abandoned by the end of this period, possibly due to a long period of drought (1276-1299), and other possible reasons.
Pueblo IV A.D. 1300 - 1450 Initial period of Spanish contact. First established period of historical records regarding the Southwest.

Currency in the Ancient Southwest
There was never any form of currency in the Southwest until some time after the arrival of the Spanish, and even then trade and barter was likely far more common until much later in history. As such, characters in the Ancient Southwest are not going to be rolling for gold and spending it, and trade goods are going to be much more important.
Bartering is an important skill during this period (see details below). To simplify the issue of trade and barter for role-playing, Lords of Chaco will adopt a Shell system of determining equivalent value for items. A popular and valuable trade item for jewelry and ceremonial use was shells brought up from Northern Mexico and traded among the pueblos. The shell will be looked at as a sort of “currency” for purposes of quantifying an average value proportionate system by which one item can be compared to another. The shell value will be considered directly proportionate to 1 gold piece. Thus, if an item in the Player’s Handbook is listed as being worth 10 gps, then it’s barter proportionate value is 10 shells, and a character in Lords of Chaco would have to trade something he had for a similar (but not by any means exact) value to expect a fair exchange. Note that it is highly unlikely that anyone other than a merchant from Northern Mexico would actually have a basket full of shells for trade with him; this is an arbitrary approximation, and does not reflect shells as actual coinage.

You can haggle on the price of a trade good effectively to get a fair exchange for your goods in a barter & trade system that does not involve coinage.
Check: You can try to get the closest value of the item you are offering, or try to get the cheapest exchange on an item you want. This is a contested skill check. You make a Bartering skill check and your opponent makes a Bartering skill check. Your opponent’s check becomes the DC, and you compare the results on the chart below:
Opponent’s DC Result
Every 5 points lower than your result You may lower the shell equivalent value of the
(Round up) trade item by 10% in your favor per 5 points
Every 5 point higher than your result You must raise the shell equivalent value of the
(Round up) trade item by 10% against your favor per 5 points
Example: Two-Hawks and Rabbit are bartering for some skins and a fine ivory knife taken from a cannibal savage in the northern mountains. The knife is beautiful, equivalent to Masterwork Ivory, and has a GP proportionate value of 402 shells. The Rabbit has seven animal skins, each worth 50 shells. He wants to talk Two-Hawks down, to get the knife for just the seven skins. Two Hawks is a simple guy, with a +2 Charisma modifier and no Bartering skill, but Rabbit is a slick talker with Bartering of 7 ranks and a Cha modifier of +3, for a total bonus of +10. Two-Hawks rolls and gets a 9, added to +2 for an 11 DC. Rabbit rolls 17, plus his +10, for a total of 27.....which is 17 points. Rounding up, that means that Rabbit gets to estimate his skins’ value at 40% more than their actual worth, so he can treat the skins as worth 70 shells apiece, instead of 50 (total value at 350 shells, adding 40%, for a total of 490 shells). Rabbit smoothly talks Two-Hawks in to thinking he’s getting much more than the knife is worth by accepting the furs.....!
Retry: Generally no, unless the DM rules that there is just reason for a reassessment of the bartering process.
Special: A Character with 6 or more ranks in Bluff may get a +2 bonus to the Bartering process if he is trying to oversell the value of an item by a large margin (DM call). If he fails the check, he has no option to retry, as he has overplayed his hand and is looked upon with suspicion.

Arms and Equipment in the Pueblo III Period

Technology in the Ancient Southwest is varied, but it is most definitely neolithic, which is to say, stone age. Metalworking was uncommon throughout the Americas; the Mesoamericans worked with silver and gold for decorative purposes, but never implemented metal for weaponry or sophisticated tools. Southwestern cultures found gold and other metals to be rare, but when they did find them, it was usually through trade with Northern Mexico, and always for purposes of decoration. Decoration in the Southwest was just as often done with ivory, stone, turquoise, obsidian, shells,and pottery. Such items are highly valued, and once players get the idea that these goods are worth their weight in gold, so to speak, then they can step away from the idea of finding gold pieces everywhere.
Likewise, the weaponry of the period is primarily stone and wood. Bows and arrows, knives, hatchets, clubs, and spear casters. All of this weaponry is manufactured from sources readily at hand: wood and stone. Most weapons of the Pueblo III period were made from chipped flint or obsidian, and some decorative weaponry from ivory. As such, all of these weapons have a -2 penalty on attack and damage bonuses (as per the DMG, page 162) when used in the standard context of a classic D&D setting. The following charts will include modified statistics for all weapons available in this period. Rather than apply a -2 modifier arbitrarily, the modifier will be used to determine a different die roll, if possible. Exceptions will include knives, which were most efficient for cutting, especially with obsidian edges.
Because of the fact that the DMG rules are designed to apply in a generic manner to all sorts of possible uses, a new rule will now be provided on using neolithic weaponry in the context of a neolithic campaign.

Neolithic Weaponry Rules:
Modifiers against opponents: Weapons of flint and other stone as well as ivory receive a standard -2 modifier to damage and attack rolls when used against any oppoent armed in iron or later metal armor and equipped with metal weaponry. When fighting characters armed and armored in non-metal weaponry and armor, the -2 attack penalty does not apply. Characters may take exotic weapon proficiency in the weapon to become proficient in specific neolithic weapons and eliminate the -2 penalty under all situations, but not the -2 damage penalty.
If a character is adventuring with neolithic weaponry in a neolithic setting, he may disregard the -2 attack penalty, as there is no context in which it will become possible to fight a metal clad opponent except in special situations determined by the DM, if at all.
Weapon Damage: A character fighting with neolithic weaponry who rolls a natural “1” in combat must make a hardness check against his own weapon, rolling damage for the weapon and applying his own Strength modifier (use Hardness 8, HPs 15 for all stone weapons). If the weapon hardness is exceeded, keep track of the HPs of the weapon, as it cannot be mended, and will eventually break from use, the common end of all stone weaponry.
Character Proficiency: If a character is culturally from a neolithic period, he must opt to have all of his initial weapon proficiencies by class apply only to neolithic weapon equivalents (DM may assist in determining these). He must then opt to use a feat to purchase modern weapon proficiencies when exposed to metal weaponry.
Determining Weapon Damage: You may look on the following chart to determine the damage value of a neolithic weapon from it’s metal weapon’s equivalent rating. Note that not all conventional metal weapons can be replicated as stone weaponry.
Metal Weapon Damage Neolithic Damage Value
1d3 1 point
1d4 1d2
1d6 1d4
1d8 1d6
1d10 1d8
1d12 1d10
2d12 1d12+1d10
2d4 1d6
2d6 1d10

The Weapon Lists

Each weapon below reflects the normal stats for a stone or bone weapon of it’s type. Refer to the Neolithic weapons rules for additional information on these weapons in a nonstandard context. Note that all damage values already account for the lower quality material of the weapon, and do not need to be adjusted. Weapons which have not been adjusted are those for which no measurable modifier would apply due to the nature of the weapon (clubs, the staff, and short bow, for example).

Weapon (size) Barter
category Damage Critical Range
Weight Type
Arrows (20)** 10 --- --- --- --- 3 lbs. ---
Throwing Axe (small) 8 martial
1d4 X2 10 ft. 6 lbs. slashing
Hand Axe (small) 6 martial melle 1d4 X3 --- 8 lbs. slashing
Club (medium)/ Coup Stick 1 or 0 simple melle 1d6 X2 10 ft. 3 lbs bludgeon
Great Club (large) 5 martial melee 1d10 X2 --- 10 lbs. bludgeon
Light Hammer/Adze
1 simple melee 1d4 X2 15 ft. 3 lbs. bludgeon
Knife (tiny) 2-10 simple melee 1d3 X2 20 ft. 1/2 lb. piercing
Large Knife (small) 10+ martial melee 1d4 19-20
15 ft. 1 lb. piercing/ slashing
Javelin (medium) 1 simple ranged 1d6 x2 30 ft. 2 lbs. piercing
Atl atl Spearcaster (medium) 10 simple ranged --- --- 50 ft. 1 lb. ---
Short spear (large) 2 simple melee 1d6 x3 20 ft. 5 lbs. piercing
Staff (large) 1 or 0 simple melee 1d6/1d6 x2 --- 4 lbs. bludgeon
Short Bow (medium) 30 martial ranged 1d6* x3 60 ft. 2 lbs. piercing
Sling Stones (10) 0 --- --- --- --- 5 lbs. ---
Sling (small) 1 simple ranged 1d4 X2 50 ft. 0 lbs. bludgeon

* The short bow does 1d6 damage against ordinary targets, but if you are using stone tipped arrows against an opponent wearing sophisticated (i.e. standard D&D) armor, then the damage will be -2, with a minimum of 1 point.
** Stone tipped arrows are valuable, as they can be time consuming to manufacture, and it’s often convenient to retrieve them, but they break easily when used. When retrieving an arrow, treat it as Hardness 8 and 15 HPs for the tip; Roll 3d6 and add 1 point for every AC over 10 of actual armor (no Dex or other non armor modifiers) the target had. Apply that to the hardness of the tip to see if it’s still intact.

Masterwork Items
Masterwork items are possible among neolithic arms and armor. A masterwork item at this stage of development is functionally still the same in terms of quality, but is more ornate and decorative, as well. Masterwork items are often ceremonial, and prized for their beauty, as opposed to usefulness for warfare. Nonetheless, a masterwork item will still gain a +1 attack bonus due to the extra care and skill taken in crafting it, and is a requisite to any special enchantments to be placed on the instrument. The normal costs and procedures of developing a masterwork weapon are in place; simply treat the gold piece value as the Barter value in the Lords of Metal-Clad Chaco setting.

Neolithic Armor
Armor is a development that comes later amongst neolithic cultures, and you didn’t see it in any meaningful way in the Americas. Even the Aztecs had developed little more than thick cotton padded protection. Nonetheless, leather is common, and a list of available personal protection is still handy.
Armor Cost Armor Bonus Max Dex Bonus ACP Arcane Spell Fail. Speed at
30 ft/20 ft
Wood and Leather Shield 15 +1 --- -1 5% --- 5 lbs.
Leather Breeches and shirt (light) 10 +2 +6 --- 10% 30/20 15 lbs.
Cotton Padded Shirt (light) 5 +1 +8 --- 5% 30/20 10 lbs.
Hide Armor (medium) 15 +3 +4 -3 20% 20/15 25 lbs.