Do We Still Need "Oriental Adventures"?

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Orientalism -- a wide-ranging term originally used to encompass depictions of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and East Asian cultures -- has gradually come to represent a more negative term. Should Dungeons & Dragons, known for two well-received books titled "Oriental Adventures," have another edition dedicated to "Eastern" cultures?

[h=3]A Brief History of Orientalism[/h]For a time, orientalism was a term used by art historians and literary scholars to group "Eastern" cultures together. That changed in 1978 with Edward Said's Orientalism, which argued that treatment of these cultures conflated peoples, times, and places into a narrative of incident and adventure in an exotic land.

It's easy to see why this approach might appeal to role-playing games. Orientalism is one lens to view a non-European culture within the game's context. We previously discussed how "othering" can create a mishmash of cultures, and it can apply to orientalism as well. The challenge is in how to portray a culture with nuance, and often one large region isn't enough to do the topic justice. The concept even applies to the idea of the "East" and the "Orient," which turns all of the Asian regions into one mono-culture. Wikipedia explains the term in that context:

The imperial conquest of "non–white" countries was intellectually justified with the fetishization of the Eastern world, which was effected with cultural generalizations that divided the peoples of the world into the artificial, binary-relationship of "The Eastern World and The Western World", the dichotomy which identified, designated, and subordinated the peoples of the Orient as the Other—as the non–European Self.


Game designers -- who were often admitted fans of Asian cultures -- sought to introduce a new kind of fantasy into traditional Western tropes. Viewed through a modern lens, their approach would likely be different today.
[h=3]The "Oriental" Books in D&D[/h]The original Oriental Adventures was published in 1985 by co-creator of D&D Gary Gygax, David "Zeb" Cook and François Marcela-Froideval. It introduced the ninja, kensai, wu-jen, and shukenja as well as new takes on the barbarian and monk. It was also the first supplement to introduce non-weapn proficiencies, the precursor to D&D's skill system. The book was well-received, and was envisioned by Gygax as an opportunity to reinvigorate the line -- ambitions which collapsed when he left the company. The book's hardcover had the following text printed on the back:

…The mysterious and exotic Orient, land of spices and warlords, has at last opened her gates to the West.


Aaron Trammell provides a detailed analysis of how problematic this one line of text is. The sum of his argument:

Although Gary Gygax envisioned a campaign setting that brought a multicultural dimension to Dungeons & Dragons, the reality is that by lumping together Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Philippine, and “Southeast Asian” lore he and co-authors David “Zeb” Cook and Francois Marcela-Froideval actually developed a campaign setting that reinforced western culture’s already racist understanding of the “Orient.”


The next edition would shift the setting from Kara-Tur (which was later sent in the Forgotten Realms) to Rokugan from the Legend of the Five Rings role-playing game.
[h=3]Controversy of the Five Rings[/h]James Wyatt wrote the revised Oriental Adventures for Third Edition D&D, published by Wizards of the Coast in 2001. It was updated to 3.5 in Dragon Magazine #318.

Legend of the Five Rings, a franchise that extends to card games, is itself not immune to controversy. Quintin Smith got enough comments on his review of the Legend of the Five Rings card game that he included an appendix that looked critically at chanting phrases "banzai!" at conventions and some of the game's art:

Now, I have no idea if this is right or wrong, but I do know that chanting in Japanese at an event exclusively attended by white men and women made me feel a tiny bit weird. My usual headcheck for this is “How would I feel if I brought a Japanese-English friend to the event?” and my answer is “Even more weird.” Personally, I found the game’s cover art to be a little more questionable. I think it’s fantastic to have a fantasy world that draws on Asian conventions instead of Western ones. But in a game that almost exclusively depicts Asian men and women, don’t then put white people on the cover! It’s such a lovely piece of art. I just wish she looked a little bit less like a cosplayer.


Perhaps in response to this criticism, Fantasy Flight Games removed the "banzai" chant as a bullet point from its web site. The page also features several pictures of past tournament winners, which provides some context as to who was shouting the chant.
[h=3]Fifth Edition and Diversity[/h]By the time the Fifth Edition of D&D was published, the game's approach to diverse peoples had changed. Indigo Boock on GeekGirlCon explains how:

Diversity is strength. The strongest adventuring party is the most diverse adventuring party. Try thinking about it in terms of classes—you have your healers, fighters, and magic users. Same goes for diversity. Different outlooks on life create more mobility and openness for different situations. Jeremy also explained that it was crucial that the art also reflected diversity, as did Art Director Kate Erwin. With this, they tried to make sure that there was a 50/50 split of people who identify as male and people who identify as female in the illustrations.


Trammell points out how these changes are reflected in the art of the core rule books:

First, there are illustrations: an East Asian warlock, a female samurai, an Arabian princess, an Arab warrior, and a Moor in battle, to name a few. Then, there are mechanics: the Monk persists as a class replete with a spiritual connection to another world via the “ki” mechanic. Scimitars and blowguns are commonly available as weapons, and elephants are available for purchase as mounts for only 200 gold. Although all of these mechanics are presented with an earnest multiculturalist ethic of appreciation, this ethic often surreptitiously produces a problematic and fictitious exotic, Oriental figure. At this point, given the embrace of multiculturalism by the franchise, it seems that the system is designed to embrace the construction of Orientalist fictional worlds where the Orient and Occident mix, mingle, and wage war.


A good first step is to understand the nuances of a region by exploring more than one culture there. Sean "S.M." Hill's "The Journey to..." series is a great place to start, particularly "Romance of the Three Kingdoms."

D&D has come a long way, but it still has some work to do if it plans to reflect the diversity of its modern player base and their cultures...which is why it seems unlikely we'll get another Oriental Adventures title.

Mike "Talien" Tresca is a freelance game columnist, author, communicator, and a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to http://amazon.com. You can follow him at Patreon.
 

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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

zeldafan42

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I’m going to second what kenmarable said. It’s not about accuracy, it’s about being respectful. It’s about not treating non-European cultures as “exotic wonders” to gape at and repeating the same old offensive tropes.

So the real problem with an “Oriental Adventures” book isn’t that it’s inaccurate. The problem is that it from the start, it mashes together several distinct cultures together as one and very much only focuses on the broad strokes details. The problem is that the term oriental is rooted in a racist and imperialist way of seeing the world.

So what we need isn’t an Oriental Adventures book. If you want samurai and ninja that’s fine, but put them in a product with other material from Japan and only Japan. Or you mix everything together. Just like how the monk is a core class and the samurai is in Xanathar’s, you treat the non-European material as a normal part of the setting blended in with the European stuff. You don’t present your setting as “Here’s the normal European inspired fantasy and over there is the exotic and special other cultures.”
 

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A

Antal Molnár

Guest
Yes, I agree with you what you wrote about the weapons.

However I don't like Forgotten Realms too much. ;-)
I like only Al-Qadim and Karatur and I never wanted to run a story outside these areas.
 

D&D Cultural Adventures books

Back when 5E was first announced, I proposed ditching the catch-all "Oriental Adventures" and issuing a series of slimmer "culture books" which depicts key Real World human cultures through the lense of D&D. Split it up into seven books, or seven chapters in a "D&D Asian Adventures" book:

  • Zipangu/Nippon/Rising Sun/Sengoku/Japanese Adventures
  • Cathay/Middle Kingdom/Wuxia/Chinese Adventures
  • Morning Calm/Korean Adventures
  • Great Khan/Mongolian/Central Asian Adventures
  • Golden Land/Suvarnabhumi/Southeast Asian Adventures
  • Roof of the World/Himalayan Adventures (Tibetan and Nepalese)
  • Jambudvipa/Rose Apple/Subcontinental/Indian/South Asian Adventures

For each culture, leverage all of the quasi-Asian settings of the D&D Multiverse. Present them as "Campaign Models".

Japanese campaign models:

  • Kozakura and Wa in Toril
  • In Mystara: Empire of Myoshima on Mystara's invisible moon of Patera; also Yasuko barbarians of the Jungle Coast, and the rakastas of the Yazak Steppes in the Savage Coast
  • Nippon/Ryuujin of Oerth
  • Rokushima Taiyoo in Ravenloft

Chinese campaign models:


  • Shou Lung and T'u Lung in Toril
  • I'Cath in Ravenloft
  • Ochalea in Mystara
  • Celestial Imperium/Shaofeng/Sufang of Oerth

Korean campaign models:

  • Koryo in Toril
  • Nippon Dominion in Oerth

Mongolian (and Central Asian) Adventures campaign models:

  • In Toril: the Horse Plains; also Murghôm (said by Rich Baker to be partly evocative of the Cossacks/Turanians of the Conan stories)
  • In Mystara: the Ethengar Khanates, Yellow Orcs, and hobgoblins of Hobgobliny; also Jennites (Scythians) of Mystara's Skothar continent and in the Hollow World
  • In Oerth: Tiger Nomads and Wolf Nomads
  • In Krynn: The Khanate of Khur in Ansalon; and on the continent of Taladas: the Uigan, Purgi, Pureshk, Kazar (quasi-Kazakh), and Alan-Atu (quasi-Buryat) tribes, and the Tamire Elves

Southeast Asian campaign models:

  • On the invisible moon of Patera of the World of Mystara: Selimpore (Singapore), Malaycalog (Philippines), Kompor-Thap (Cambodia), Surabayang (Malay)
  • Malatra, the Island Kingdoms, and other lands in the south of Kara-Tur of the Forgotten Realms

Himalayan campaign models:

  • Tabot (Tibet) and Ra-Khati (Nepal) in Toril
  • In Mystara: Lhamsa in the Principalities of Glantri, and the Snow Pardasta catfolk

Indian campaign models:

  • Sind, Jaibul, and Glantri's principality of Krondahar in Mystara; Rajahstan on the invisible moon of Patera; Shajapur in Hollow World
  • Utter East of Forgotten Realms
  • Zindia/Zahind of Oerth
  • Sri Raji in Ravenloft
  • 3e Mahasarpa campaign

Also include the "D&D Earth" Campaign Models; in other words, those cultures as they exist in the Gothic Earth setting of Masque of the Red Death, and the Earth-based d20 Modern campaign models, such as Urban Arcana, the homeworld of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian pantheons of Toril, of the Averoignians of Mystara, and the place where the Wizards Three visit Ed Greenwood.

If Forgotten Realms "must" be the central focus, then the books could even be titled: "Shou Chiang Adventures" (Chinese), "Han Adventures" (Japanese-Korean), "Malatran Adventures" (S.E. Asian), etc. (As long as the examples from Ravenloft, Oerth, Mystara, etc. aren't left out.)

And do the same for the other Real World cultures which have served as models in the D&D Multiverse. For example:

Arab (and Islamic Persian and Ottoman) campaign models:

  • In Toril: Zakhara, Calimshan, and the Bedine of the Anauroch Desert
  • Mystara's Emirates of Ylaruam, the Desert Nomads (quasi-Afghan), the Great Hagiarchy of Huyule (quasi-Ottoman Turkish, but the illustration of the Master in the Desert Nomads module appears to be evocative of the Ayatollah), and Huyule's colony of Bogdashkan on the Jungle Coast; also gnolls of Gnollistan, lead by Nizam Pasha (Nazim Pasha was Chief of Staff of the army of the Ottoman Empire, and “pasha” is an Ottoman title)
  • Phazaria in the Amber Wastes of Ravenloft
  • Land of Arir in the stand-alone 1e adventure I9: Day of Al-Akbar
  • Desert of Desolation, stand-alone 1e adventure trilogy, later placed in Faerun's Plains of Purple Dust; Also, GAZ2 suggested placement in Mystara's Ylaruam
  • Khinasi of Birthright setting
  • Bakluni peoples of Greyhawk

I broke down the rest of the human cultures here: https://sites.google.com/site/dndphilmont/culture-books

As a baby step toward that, I recently saw that Xanathar's Guide to Everything included a list of names for human PCs, broken down into various Real World earth languages or language families. Which is good. Not all jumbled up together.

Human Names:

Arabic
Celtic
Chinese
Egyptian
English
French
German
Greek
Indian
Japanese
Mesoamerican
Niger–Congo
Norse
Polynesian
Roman
Slavic
Spanish
 
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I'm going to reorder your post a little here...

The problem is that the term oriental is rooted in a racist and imperialist way of seeing the world

I generally agree that this is a problem. There are a couple of different solutions, but it definitely a problem.

The problem is that it from the start, it mashes together several distinct cultures together as one and very much only focuses on the broad strokes details.

I don't really think this is a problem. It pretty much describes all historical fantasy games I've ever played. Give someone a big sandbox with rough tools, let them fill in the detail work they like.
 

Skepticultist

Banned
Banned
If you're just find with plundering Irish, Scandinavian, Greek, and other European cultures history and myth for fodder for your role-playing games, then why should Asian cultures and history be treated any differently? This right here is why this entire line of argument just pisses me right off. It's handwringing nonsense motivated by white guilt.

I'm not Scandinavian, therefore I should not use Vikings in my game, right? No? Well, then, why is orientalism an issue, but scandinavianism isn't an issue? It's dumb.
 

pming

Legend
Hiya!

So the real problem with an “Oriental Adventures” book isn’t that it’s inaccurate. The problem is that it from the start, it mashes together several distinct cultures together as one and very much only focuses on the broad strokes details. The problem is that the term oriental is rooted in a racist and imperialist way of seeing the world.

Er...nope? I mean, maybe to *you* the term oriental is racist/bad...but it's not to me (or probably a lot of other folk). "Oriental" just means "someone from the area of the world categorized as 'The Orient'". How anyone can see this as racist/bad is just...weird. Its the same as calling Americans, Canadians, Mexicans, etc "Westerners". "Westerners" just means "people who live in the West, as related to Europe". Being called a westerner isn't a racial slur.

zeldafan42 said:
So what we need isn’t an Oriental Adventures book. If you want samurai and ninja that’s fine, but put them in a product with other material from Japan and only Japan. Or you mix everything together. Just like how the monk is a core class and the samurai is in Xanathar’s, you treat the non-European material as a normal part of the setting blended in with the European stuff. You don’t present your setting as “Here’s the normal European inspired fantasy and over there is the exotic and special other cultures.”

It's not about what "is needed"...it's about "what would be cool to play make-believe in". Give me inaccurate fluff with wildly inaccurate coolness over perfectly accurate information that would suck to play as/in.

I'd love to see Oriental Adventures 1e translated into 5e terms! One of my most memorable campaigns was in OA 1e...it had self sacrifice, demonic offspring, a gargantuan preying mantis, court intrigue, ninjas, wave men, a deposed daimyo, and a rather large and bold group of barbarians who manage to "steal an entire town!" (well, any/all valuables in it anyway). I'd bet that most of that would never have happened if OA was "more respectful of cultures and more historically accurate". You can keep that type of game...I'll take a supposedly "offensive and racist oriental fantasy setting that is fun as hell" over that any day of the week! :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

arjomanes

Explorer
There's a lot to unpack here, and probably too much for a super constructive conversation. Just for starters we're talking about racism, colonialism, cultural appropriation of myth. Then we bring in the "kitchen sink" approach to setting design that these big publishers always create. How are we supposed to solve all this at once? No one will even agree on what's a problem, let alone a solution.

My favorite non-western settings are: Qelong and Yoon Sui precisely because they don't attempt to create a kitchen sink setting. I also enjoy the Red Tide book that creates an interesting amalgam of eastern and western tropes in a specific place.
 

Plageman

Explorer
I'm not sure I want to be educated in real world pan-pacifican cultures when playing in a fictional fantasy universe who already trample the real world European countries and cultures for 4 decades now.

I mean how many times have I read misspelled French or German terms ? Have I asked for reparations ? No but I suggested to the authors to submit their work or part of it to native speakers to correct it.

The same goes here. The fictional world of Kara-Tur mashes some cultures but so do other lands in the Forgotten Realms setting or Mystara or Birthright. It shouldn't be an issue unless some content is offensive.

When you play in Conan's Hyboria you know it will follow some stereotype who are very different from real earth.

Even Japanese authors do not respect cultures they draw from. I mean Knights of the Zodiac Greece isn't what Greece was in the 1980s nor is their representation of US government or of European countries. Most of the time they use aspects who work well for their stories.

So while I wouldn't want a 'generic' Oriental Adventures, I would pay for a campaign/setting book dealing with a story set in the Kara-Tur lands and focusing on native characters rather than importing PCs from the Sword Coast.
 

Cergorach

The Laughing One
The problem is that Al-Qadim's authors as same superficial about 1001 nights (not about islamic world) as Cergorach in searching harissa. :) A good example for this superficiality. :)

"More than a fifth of respondents said Agrabah — the fictional city from “Aladdin” — is a real part of the Arab world. An even higher proportion — 38 percent — would be happy with a US travel ban on citizens of Agrabah should they be proven a threat." :)

Source: http://www.arabnews.com/node/1093246/middle-east

Give me a bit more credit then that, Harissa is an actual dish people eat (Armenian/Turkish dish). Arabian Nights didn't just happen in current Arabia, it happened in the Persian Empire of antiquity, Armenia was known then as Persian Armenia. So, I don't know how Harissa was referenced, as a dish or as a saus (do you have a publication and page number for me). But I could understand referencing the dish in something like Al-Quadim, the Persian Empire was quite big at it's height:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Empire#/media/File:Map_of_the_Achaemenid_Empire.jpg

Also, Harissa (Saus) contains a component that only became available between 1500-1600 in the Persian Empire, imho a bit after the 1001 Nights setting. But this is just pushing the details around, most people forget or don't know that the potato was actually introduced into Europe AFTER the middle ages... Hell, we had gunpowder before potatoes...

As I understand it, a 1001 Nights is not well viewed in (current) Arabic society. So if people use those tales as a basis for a fantasy setting, I don't know how you can do that without offending someone... But you can't be respectful to everyone all at the same time. That's impossible, too many opposing views!

Kara-tur and Al-Quadim still had that 'something' that made you want to play in them exclusively, sure they weren't perfect for you (or me), but can you understand that most people actually don't want culturally accurate settings? As I said earlier, they want 'exotic', not 'alien'... And that might sound offensive, it isn't. Most people have quite a lot of difficulty placing themselves in someone else's shoes instead of the perceived fantasy of those shoes, this thread is a perfect example of that.

What I don't get is that everyone is the 'perfect' backseat driver and instead of fixing what's wrong, such as writing or commissioning a work that doesn't have the 'flaws', they rather crusade on social media... I'm pretty sure people would be completely open to criticism aimed at their product and it would be an unmitigated financial success...
 

Warpiglet

Adventurer
If you're just find with plundering Irish, Scandinavian, Greek, and other European cultures history and myth for fodder for your role-playing games, then why should Asian cultures and history be treated any differently? This right here is why this entire line of argument just pisses me right off. It's handwringing nonsense motivated by white guilt.

I'm not Scandinavian, therefore I should not use Vikings in my game, right? No? Well, then, why is orientalism an issue, but scandinavianism isn't an issue? It's dumb.


I had a laugh at this. Do not expect a reasonable explanation.

The game as originally made is predicated on a fantasy version of primarily medieval Europe. You can say that its not true, but it is. Chainmail etc. was warfare in this sphere.

We use European gods, various myths and mash it up. Don't forget comic books, movies, and Tolkien. So we decide to include MORE made up stuff from more of the world and suddenly we have to walk on eggshells?

I am happy if more people from more places want to play D&D. I would love to play with groups from other countries. But the self righteous judgmental stuff is absurd and strangely one-sided and applied differently across cultures.

For sh*t sake, call it Asian adventures if you want and still base it on made up fiction distilled less from a museum than a kung fu flick. Makes little difference to me but I am not going to do a lot of navel gazing about a game with beholders and pointy eared elves.
 

Doctor Futurity

Adventurer
These conversations remain unrelenting in their inability to recognize that the cultural climate of the late 80's and early 90's brought forth so much effort at creating interesting new settings in nonwestern environments, and that without that effort it might not have paved the way to a more general and worldly assertion of interest in today's culture.

Now that today's cultural values and respect is broader and more worldly, effort should indeed be made to revisit the rest of the world, both through a culturally respectful lens and also through the equally important mythology, folklore and fantasy that is what we're all really looking for in that adaptation (in D&D, at least).

I know there's a tendency these days to assume that only people of cultural origins can write about those origins, but we really do need to continue to provide a lens on other cultures, even if it is filtrered through (and acknowledged as such) by outsiders with a keen interest and effort at accuracy, because ultimately it's this continued exposure that makes people more culturally aware. Al Qadim, Kara Tur and other settings did that for me as a kid, and there should be a tradition that continues and expands on it today, to insure that we don't accidentally isolate today's kids from other cultures, history (fantatsical or real), non western fantasy and so forth simply because we think that it's appropriation to have an interest and to express it through games and writing. We all benefit from embracing the broader swathe of cultural fantasticism in gaming, and it makes us better for doing so. But we lose if we decide that it's impossible for us to somehow seek out and learn about other cultures, or to express that interest in writing and gaming.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Yeah! I'm so sick of those gamers making ficticious, exotic figures for their ficticious exotic imaginary worlds without a properly culturally nuanced and propery politically correct vetted culturally appropriate character check! I met this gamer once who made a ninja character based on this movie they'd seen 'Flying Dragon Leaping Tiger' and they hadn't even done any proper research or anything! They said they did it because they thought ninjas were epic! So racist! And that Tomb of Annihilation with its text book Orientalism should basically be thrown onto a politically incorrect bonfire and burned! Jungles are so racist too!

Check the site rules before you post again in this thread, please.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
A lot of responses appear to be "Yes but what about Y and Z?" as a way to stifle discussion about X. "Oriental? What about the Vikings?" (known as the "Vikings Are People Too" fallacy; I can't take credit for that) -- the simple answer to that is "Sure! Them too. But today we're writing about "Oriental Adventures"; last week it was Africa. We're not going to cover every culture on earth, but we're touching on a couple."

I'd like to reiterate that if seeing an opinion you disagree with throws you into an apoplexy of rage, the internet might not be the safest place for you. Debate civilly and politely, please. Generally, these threads have gone fairly well until they turn a corner. You don't have to agree, but don't throw a tantrum.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
"Two things I can't stand are racism and the Dutch!" - Michael Caine's character in one of those Austin Powers movies.
 

Cergorach

The Laughing One
"Two things I can't stand are racism and the Dutch!" - Michael Caine's character in one of those Austin Powers movies.

When you quote a movie, quote it correctly! So that everyone can bake in it's glorious contrariety... ;-)
[MENTION=1]Morrus[/MENTION]: The article isn't discussing ANY particular culture, that would be great content! But your doing now what we all don't like saying that Africa or the Orient is a culture, it isn't. It's a collection of cultures. Instead of authors raving against things that are wrong with RPG products, why not show them how it's done?
 

Doctor Futurity

Adventurer
When you quote a movie, quote it correctly! So that everyone can bake in it's glorious contrariety... ;-)

[MENTION=1]Morrus[/MENTION]: The article isn't discussing ANY particular culture, that would be great content! But your doing now what we all don't like saying that Africa or the Orient is a culture, it isn't. It's a collection of cultures. Instead of authors raving against things that are wrong with RPG products, why not show them how it's done?

Imagine if for a moment we all agree that the Oriental Adventures book should go the way of the dodo. Now imagine an elaborate campaign setting based entirely on Korean folklore, mythology and focused through a mytho-historical lens. Or imagine a fantasy setting that is based entirely on contemporary Chinese interests in how to interpret the fantastical (which is often centered on historical recreation with an emphasis on the reality of the mythic elements).

We have a lot of range here to create highly nuanced and very focused settings that draw from very specific cultures and histories. I think everyone would benefit from this.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Instead of authors raving against things that are wrong with RPG products, why not show them how it's done?

What by writing a book? Maybe I will write a regionally themed book for WOIN at some point, but the slate is pretty full right now.
 

stargazera5

Explorer
Game designers -- who were often admitted fans of Asian cultures -- sought to introduce a new kind of fantasy into traditional Western tropes. Viewed through a modern lens, their approach would likely be different today. "


Really? Tell that to John Wick Presents who just had a very successful Kickstarter, 7th Sea Khitai, that did the exact same approach as Oriental Adventures. From the KS:

As a Khitai Hero, you might...

  • Save the Daimyo of the White Fox Clan from assassination!
  • Lead the navies of Han against Fusoese pirates!
  • Take on ten assassins with swords, knives, and guns all on your own!
  • Make decisions that alter the very course of Khitai history!
In 7th Sea: Khitai, you are a Hero ready to live and die for causes that matter. You don’t start off digging through old dungeons hoping to find a copper piece or two. No! You are noble samurai, a loyal yojimbo, or a mystical monk channeling the spirit of the World.
In other words… you’re Sanjuro from Yojimbo, Yu Shu Lien from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Yeo Wol from The Pirates, and Zatoichi all rolled up into one!


Yes, they did add some further expansion books related to specific cultures as stretch goals, but the fact remains that it is based on what is effectively Oriental Adventures for 7th Sea.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I feel I should note we are unlikely to get an 'Occidental Adventures' with any sort of respectful and earnest treatment of the complexity of Western culture as well. If you are looking for a respectful treatment of the cultural differences in Scandinavian, Germanic, Sarmatian, Gaelic, and Mediterranean cultures, and how they differed artistically and culturally and developed through the middle ages, don't expect to find those distinctions in any published 5e D&D handbook either. Instead, what you are going to find is a very loose mish-mash of those cultures thrown together haphazardly with a bunch of other ideas.

Fortunately, I think most people from say Japan, China, the Philippians, Korea, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Iran, Nepal, France or the United States aren't going to be looking to the 5e D&D handbook or anything in it as an accurate and respectful representation of Western culture at any point in time or space.

I can't ever recall feeling any differently about the 1e AD&D rulebook 'Oriental Adventures'.

One sure fire way to stifle discussion about something is claim that any discussion of it is racist.

Isn't the fact that we are treating non-Western cultures as different than Western cultures and requiring different standards more literally "othering" than treating them as the same? That word "othering" is getting kicked around a lot, but if not othering obviously creates a mish-mash of cultures - elves with katanas hold tea ceremonies, for example, to say nothing of a Dickensonian thieves guild running a town built around a thriving Edwardian castle with a King in early modern Gothic platemail but served by 10th century soldiery - and othering creates a mish-mash of cultures, what doesn't create a mish-mash of cultures and from the mish-mash of cultures how could we work back to know whether othering was the motive or not to know whether to condemn it.

And if both othering and not-othering produces the same result, can't we just apply Occam's razor and use a simpler model that explains the results without appealing to othering at all?
 


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