D&D General (Anecdotal) conversations with Asian gamers on some problems they currently face in the D&D world of RPG gaming

Catolias

Explorer
updating and reissuing doesn't solve anything. if you mean make an entirely new edition, well the original book still exists and they're still selling it. you can just not sell the book.

You are right: It doesn’t remove what is an offensive description. Nor will an entirely new edition. It will always be there. BUT a new edition or reissue means that WotC takes active restitution for the harm it’s words have had.
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Taking garbage − Evil, stupid, ridiculous − and identifying it with a reallife identity is harmful.

I don't accept that something offensive = something harmful. It's words. I've been offended plenty, a lot of it by racism aimed a Jews. Never once has it harmed me.
 

I believe the optimal solution is the balance and interactivity of two opposing force.

• Respect and accuracy for reallife cultures
• Creative inventiveness

The thing is, in D&D, these forces have been way out of balance.

Thank goodness, the pioneers of D&D Gygax and Arneson, seem to be decent people. They seem less racist than many other people during their era, for example. They seem to genuinely like East Asian esthetic and military culture.

The problem is ignorance. I can almost here them say something like, "The natives are restless". In other words, they are completely clueless about the cultures that they are exploring/appropriating/misrepresenting/exploiting/invading/colonizing.

To be fair. They lived in a world, when the rest of the world was far away. And to exhibit intellectual curiosity is exoticism. And it seemed impossible to even to relate to an other culture, unless it was a white person who mastered the other culture, like a white American samurai, or maybe like Tarzan.

Gygax and Arneson had lots of
• Creative inventiveness

However, the opposing force was actually difficult to acquire
• Respect and accuracy for reallife cultures



We have today, what Gygax and Arneson lacked in their era.

We have African American D&D players. We have Chinese American D&D players. And so on. We have women D&D players. We have transsexual D&D players. We have gay D&D players. And so on.

And D&D designers among them!

So, when we hunger for exotic adventure in East Asia, we dont need to do a tone-deaf gonzo pastiche that is totally clueless. For example, we can ask Chinese designers who enjoy D&D to integrate Chinese tropes into the game in ways that are grounded, meaningful, and playful.

These authentic living Chinese traditions within D&D become part of our shared D&D experience. It happens in a healthy, organic, way that includes mutual respect and enjoyment. And yes, informed accuracy about the other culture.

Often, friends who are intimate with that identity group are literally at our table gaming with us.

Our resources for D&D are awesome now.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
You are right: It doesn’t remove what is an offensive description. Nor will an entirely new edition. It will always be there. BUT a new edition or reissue means that WotC takes active restitution for the harm it’s words have had.
okay look even if—no wait, let's clarify something, it feels like 1e OA is something beyond revising, you'd basically have to rewrite large swathes of the book, not to mention have WotC write new rules and mechanics for an edition that's no longer supported. let's take that off the table.

if we're looking at a new edition there's several things at play here: for starters WotC isn't really interested in making huge setting books anymore; Sword Coast, Wildemount, Theros, these aren't the big super detailed settings that used to make up campaign settings back in the day, and only get one book. Eberron may be an exception but it still mostly focuses on Khorvaire (it's creator is releasing another large book with more details, but it's not an official D&D product). the whole of Kara-Tur would be pretty big in scope compared to their current setting offerings so it'd be better to focus on maybe one or two specific nations. but also, we can make something entirely new that takes inspiration from Asian mythology and fantasy, we don't need to remake OA.

or they can place more detailed disclaimers talking about the issues specific books have.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
okay let's go back to an anecdotal conversation with an Asian about OA.
View attachment 123570
anyone wanna defend this description of rice? anyone? if you want some insight there are large parts of "Shou Lung"/"T'u Lung" where rice is only secondary to wheat as far as staple grains go.

Would several sentences discussing the "Five Grains" and noting some more cultural differences between the north and south in terms of wheat vs. rice have saved that excerpt? (Is part of the next paragraph insulting to some regions too about when rice is expensive or scarce: "... yellow millet, sorghum, or barley is often substituted. This is the poor man's food." ) Doesn't help anyone insulted by being lumped together, but it also treats European diets pretty cavalierly at the end of the paragraph "Like wheat in the west, rice is the stuff of life in Kara-Tur." That leaves out rye, barley, millet and oats if the west refers to medieval Europe (and wikipedia says those would have been pretty important there).

I was surprised that google popped up with quite a bit for - "Have you eaten rice today" really a common greeting? - and is supposedly used in several countries (well, presumably only the portions of those countries that commonly use rice). It was even at the top of the first article I got from the economist when looking up how big of a part of the diet rice is across southeast Asia. (The UN site gave better numbers, granted for today and not back when).

For those without a copy of OA, food is the subject of an entire half page:
Paragraph 2 spends a lot of time on Soybeans
Paragraph 3 is on various vegetables
Paragraph 5 is on seafood
Paragraph 6 is on non-seafood meats
Paragraph 7 is on tea
Paragraph 8 describes a set of typical daily meals

They did have a disclaimer at the front of the section on Daily Life in Kara-Tur that this wasn't designed to accurately describe the real East Asia in all it's variety. It's not a fix, but it seems important to note that they weren't trying to describe it all with perfect accuracy - and they wanted the readers to be aware of that.

oa.jpg
 
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I don't accept that something offensive = something harmful. It's words. I've been offended plenty, a lot of it by racism aimed a Jews. Never once has it harmed me.

I dont know how aware you are about Antisemitic propaganda preceding the Holocaust.

First comes the hate. Then comes the hatespeech. Then comes the hatecrimes.



Dehumanizing someone elses identity causes harm. Immediately. Even before the words become actionable.
 

okay let's go back to an anecdotal conversation with an Asian about OA.
View attachment 123570
anyone wanna defend this description of rice? anyone? if you want some insight there are large parts of "Shou Lung"/"T'u Lung" where rice is only secondary to wheat as far as staple grains go.

Well, it isn't accurate as a description of asian cuisine. But it also doesn't seem evil to me to have an asian inspired setting where rice is that kind of staple. It is just a big simplification, probably because they were basing the food section on limited sources, or a focused region.
 


Catolias

Explorer
okay look even if—no wait, let's clarify something, it feels like 1e OA is something beyond revising, you'd basically have to rewrite large swathes of the book, not to mention have WotC write new rules and mechanics for an edition that's no longer supported. let's take that off the table.

if we're looking at a new edition there's several things at play here: for starters WotC isn't really interested in making huge setting books anymore; Sword Coast, Wildemount, Theros, these aren't the big super detailed settings that used to make up campaign settings back in the day, and only get one book. Eberron may be an exception but it still mostly focuses on Khorvaire (it's creator is releasing another large book with more details, but it's not an official D&D product). the whole of Kara-Tur would be pretty big in scope compared to their current setting offerings so it'd be better to focus on maybe one or two specific nations. but also, we can make something entirely new that takes inspiration from Asian mythology and fantasy, we don't need to remake OA.

or they can place more detailed disclaimers talking about the issues specific books have.

I am saying that WotC should do both these things. The fact they are not interested in issuing a new book is not a satisfactory reason for them not to. That’s a strategy based on a financial decision. It is not a strategy based on an ethical one. WotC’s approach is reminiscent of Facebook not wanting to call out misinformation
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I dont know how aware you are about Antisemitic propaganda preceding the Holocaust.

First comes the hate. Then comes the hatespeech. Then comes the hatecrimes.

We have laws to punish the actions. The actions should not ever be allowed without harsh punishment. The beliefs and words must be allowed or free speech doesn't exist. We don't have to like it, and we can use our speech to counter and revile it, but it has to be allowed.

Dehumanizing someone elses identity causes harm. Immediately. Even before the words become actionable.
I still don't buy that. And I am Jewish and have experienced the anti-semitism.
 

We have laws to punish the actions. The actions should not ever be allowed without harsh punishment. The beliefs and words must be allowed or free speech doesn't exist. We don't have to like it, and we can use our speech to counter and revile it.


I still don't buy that. And I am Jewish and have experienced the anti-semitism.

Hatespeech itself requires laws.

We have active moderators on ENWorld who punish hatespeech.

Because. The hatespeech itself is immediately harmful.



Freespeech is the opposite of hatespeech.

Conversations require RECIPROCITY. Mutual respect.

Freespeech is an AGREEMENT among all speakers who are participating in the conversation.

Just like a physical mugger can be physically incarcerated, a speech mugger can be silenced.

Benign censorship happens all the time. There is nothing magical about people yelling in each others faces or making death threats or convincing people that other people dont deserve to live. Thank goodness for legitimate violence (police) and for legitimate censorship. It saves lives.



I get it. American classic liberalism has championed simplistic notions about free speech − and many good things have happened in that effort. I benefit from it. But today, that kind of liberal is aging and decreasing in numbers. Also, that simplistic notion has failed in the face of the proliferation of hatespeech across the internet. Plus, historically, democracy and free speech require self-defense to survive.

We need a more sophisticated model of freespeech.



Being Jewish, to guard against Lashon Ha Ra is a high priority.
 

Catolias

Explorer
Hatespeech itself requires laws.

We have active moderators on ENWorld who punish hatespeech.

Because. The hatespeech itself is immediately harmful.



Freespeech is the opposite of hatespeech.

Conversations require RECIPROCITY. Mutual respect.

Freespeech is an AGREEMENT among all speakers who are participating in the conversation.

Just like a physical mugger can be physically incarcerated, a speech mugger can be silenced.

Benign censorship happens all the time. There is nothing magical about people yelling in each others faces or making death threats or convincing people that other people dont deserve to live. Thank goodness for legitimate violence (police) and for legitimate censorship. It saves lives.



I get it. American classic liberalism has championed simplistic notions about free speech − and many good things have happened in that effort. I benefit from it. But today, that kind of liberal is aging and decreasing in numbers. Also, that simplistic notion has failed in the face of the proliferation of hatespeech across the internet. Plus, historically, democracy and free speech require self-defense to survive.

We need a more sophisticated model of freespeech.



Being Jewish, to guard against Lashon Ha Ra is a high priority.

Totally agree. Too often people claim they have rights but conveniently forget that, with those rights, come responsibilities.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Hatespeech itself requires laws.

We have active moderators on ENWorld who punish hatespeech.

Because. The hatespeech itself is immediately harmful.

This is an opinion, and one which I don't agree with. It also completely eliminates free speech and sooner or later, speech you agree with will be banned by someone else for some other reason. For speech to be free, it has to allow even speech you find offensive.

Freespeech is the opposite of hatespeech.

This is completely and utterly false.

Freespeech is an AGREEMENT among all speakers who are participating in the conversation.

This is also completely and utterly false. I don't need you or anyone else in conversation. I can be just announcing my opinions.

Just like a physical mugger can be physically incarcerated, a speech mugger can be silenced.

And this is a False Equivalence. Speech =/= physical assault.

We need a more sophisticated model of freespeech.

One that apparently lacks free speech.
 

This is also completely and utterly false. I don't need you or anyone else in conversation. I can be just announcing my opinions.
You're in a forum. You've come into a conversation someone else started and engaged in it, that's why they're called "Topics"

If you just want to announce opinions, that's what blogs are for. But by announcing it, you're inviting other people to judge your opinion.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You're in a forum. You've come into a conversation someone else started and engaged in it, that's why they're called "Topics"

Apparently you haven't followed the conversation. We're discussing speech in general, not this particular discussion ;)

If you just want to announce opinions, that's what blogs are for. But by announcing it, you're inviting other people to judge your opinion.
Sure. That's just one way in which you can engage in free speech without there being a conversation or agreement involved.
 

This is an opinion, and one which I don't agree with. It also completely eliminates free speech and sooner or later, speech you agree with will be banned by someone else for some other reason. For speech to be free, it has to allow even speech you find offensive.



This is completely and utterly false.



This is also completely and utterly false. I don't need you or anyone else in conversation. I can be just announcing my opinions.



And this is a False Equivalence. Speech =/= physical assault.



One that apparently lacks free speech.

I can do whatever I want with my hands − except punch people in the face.

I can do whatever I want with my mouth − except make death threats.

Totally agree. Too often people claim they have rights but conveniently forget that, with those rights, come responsibilities.
Well said.

Legal rights INCLUDE legal responsibilities.
 

For example.

Unlike other formulations of the Golden Rule, this formulation is enforceable.

"Something that is hateful against you, you will not do to your partner."

To do something hateful is punishable.

Also, it involves partnership, a mutual agreement to look out for each other. Responsibilities to each other. Reciprocity.

This legal principle is legally practicable.

As such, it is a more robust foundation for legal human rights − that are enforceable. It is a more sophisticated formulation of human rights.

Freespeech is a social contract among speakers in a conversation. Reciprocity.

Do not do hatespeech.

Humanity has a legal basic human right to be free from hatespeech, including death threats.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
Would several sentences discussing the "Five Grains" and noting some more cultural differences between the north and south in terms of wheat vs. rice have saved that excerpt?
no.
They did have a disclaimer at the front of the section on Daily Life in Kara-Tur that this wasn't designed to accurately describe the real East Asia in all it's variety. It's not a fix, but it seems important to note that they weren't trying to describe it all with perfect accuracy - and they wanted the readers to be aware of that.

View attachment 123571
okay it sounds like they shot themselves in the foot by describing rice as the most important food in Kara-Tur that is eaten with virtually every meal.
For those without a copy of OA, food is the subject of an entire half page:
Paragraph 2 spends a lot of time on Soybeans
Paragraph 3 is on various vegetables
Paragraph 5 is on seafood
Paragraph 6 is on non-seafood meats
Paragraph 7 is on tea
Paragraph 8 describes a set of typical daily meals
Well, it isn't accurate as a description of asian cuisine. But it also doesn't seem evil to me to have an asian inspired setting where rice is that kind of staple. It is just a big simplification, probably because they were basing the food section on limited sources, or a focused region.
both of you missed the tone of the writing here. first of all, unpacking a greeting to describe the importance of rice? even a kindergartner can tell you "hello" in Mandarin in "ni hao". this is conflated by the fact that in some languages "rice" a word used colloquially to mean all food, even if you don't eat rice. this is a greeting someone might use in China, but just like anywhere there's a variety of greetings they use. but about tone, let's imagine if we wrote about English greetings that way:
In America and Canada, people do not greet each other with the friendly "Ni hao!" of the East, instead saying "Good morning!" or "Good evening!" depending on the time of day. The intention is the same, but the importance of the time of day in daily life is clear.

seriously, the way that paragraph is written makes it sound like Americans never heard of rice before. or that it has a multitude of uses.
Rice is used in a multitude of ways. It is boiled and served with butter. It is puffed, sweetened and prepared by pouring over it with milk. It is cooked in a broth and served in a side dish. Left over rice is mixed with vegetables in a dish called stir fried rice, that's similar to the kind you may be familiar with because Chinese people have been living in America and Canada for nigh over a goddamn century.


also I'm tired of doing the heavy lifting as the only Asian person in this echo chamber.

here's a twitter thread by a Malaysian journalist (in Kuala Lumpur) talking about the way durians are discussed in western journalism. this sort of writing about Asian food still happens and isn't just an issue that's gotten better since 1985.

or the more humorous take that I tried to crib.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I can do whatever I want with my hands − except punch people in the face.

I can do whatever I want with my mouth − except make death threats.

Hate speech does not equal death threats or punches in the face. Nobody is advocating that deaths threats or physical violence be okay.
 

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
I have watched the first couple hours of the Asians Represent read-through of Oriental Adventures. I pretty much agree with all his commentary so far. I think we are part of a hobby that includes an unfortunate history of erasing, essentializing, and misrepresenting people of color, LGBTQ people, and other marginalized groups. I think Oriental Adventures is most likely poor speech.

I still do not like the censorious impulses I am seeing here and have seen to things like Exalted Third Edition including a trans man on the cover or the recent inclusion of emotional safety techniques in mainstream roleplaying games. I understand that this is a moment to address racial inequity and the lack of social consciousness in the game that practically defines our hobby. It is something that is really important to me.

My larger fear is that this censorious impulse just becomes mainstream. My worry is that we will become afraid to push boundaries and potentially transgressive games like Sorcerer, Dos in the Vineyard, My Life With Master, Monsterhearts, Night Witches, etc. will not have a place. A shared commitment to a liberal society helps to protect the stuff that I believe moves the needle of society in a good way. More importantly it brings us all to the conversation.

I am a firm believer that the best cure for poor speech is scrutiny and better speech. I also have some genuine concerns about us giving power to institutions that do not have our best interests at heart no matter how well meaning their designers may be.
 

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