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WotC Dungeons & Dragons Fans Seek Removal of Oriental Adventures From Online Marketplace

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BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
My Google must not be working properly. AFAICT it is, in fact, contested whether East Asians count as people of color.

It's relevant to the question of whether white Americans are actually "punching down" in deracinating and recombining elements of East Asian cultures for fantasy RP material.

I can think of a few reasons why East Asians should not have the protected status of POC:

1) China, Japan and South Korea are rich and powerful countries (2nd, 3rd and 12th largest economies by nominal GDP, respectively). China is projected to overtake the U.S. as the largest economy in the 21st century. A unified Korea (assuming South Korean-style governance) could be expected to become a top 7 economy, possibly top 5.
2) Americans of Asian ethnicity (including South and Southeast Asian) on average outperform white Americans socioeconomically in the U.S..
3) East Asians literally have pale skin. Typical skin tone is within the range of European peoples.

If East Asians are not POC, then standards for cultural appropriation can be relaxed, at least according to the reasoning that the strictness of such standards should be proportional to the disparity in wealth and power of the groups represented.
1. Just because China, Korea, a Japan are economic powerhouses shouldn't make it cultural open season on them. Not to mention Vietnamese Americans, Laotian Americans, etc.

2. I think that just because Asian Americans have become a model minority doesn't mean their culture is up for appropriation. 'Positive' stereotypes such as "Asians are good at math" or "Jews are good with money" still lead to harmful discrimination. That should be obvious. It's still taking a look at some one and determining their story based on how they look or their heritage.

3. This is true of Native Americans too. That doesn't make what still continues to happen to their communities ok.
 
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ART!

Adventurer
Stereotypes aren't bad. That's something that you say but not everyone agree. Stereotypes work for a reason. They are ingrained in popular culture. Stereotypes might be boring, but are not automatically offensive. If they are not offensive, what's the problem?
Literally the first result in my 3-second Google search:

"stereotype, noun: a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing."

(emphasis mine)

So, yes, stereotypes are bad, literally, by definition - as in "over-simplified", as in "fixed", meaning "predetermined and not subject to or able to be changed."

Stereotypes are bad.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Well, you followed my lead till here.

Basically now you're saying that it's right if you took something from my culture, changed ingredients, recipe, almost everything except the name, but in this case it's right. Because you decided to.
I'm saying that cuisine evolves and diffuses through cultures, with people often making changes based on availability of ingredients, manufacturing processes, laws, class/gender/race histories with food, etc. We can see this, for example, in Italian-American cuisine and how it evolved from various Italian cuisines as well as how Italian-American cuisine then diffused into the wider American culture. I don't think it's helpful to confuse trans-cultural diffusion with the cultural appropriation of OA.

Yuo keep treating people that disagree with you like they are kids whining because they have had the smallest piece of the cake. I have already told that I do NOT intend to advocate for anything. I read almost every Mystara supplement. I didn't find anything that hurt my fellings even if many things were inaccurate and oversimplified and stereotyped (though I'm curious to read an opinion about the modules based on Native American and Arabic cultures by someone from thet culture).
If you didn't find anything that you found offensive in Mystara, then that's that, but not everyone shares that privilege.

I'll read the articles as soon as i have time. It wouldn't hurt you in turn to read the source material if possible and decide with you eyes if the complains are worthwile or not.
All I ask is that you given them a fair, sympathetic read with your mind not already made up, and I promise you that I will do the same if I get around to reading OA. But be mindful that complaints about the subtle racism of OA is nothing new, but has been a recurring part of the game for decades, with the 3rd edition version mostly renewing that controversy.

So you're basically saying that 5 years of living in Europe beats a lifetime of being born and raised there. This contradicts a bit the "cultural heritage" things.
I'm not saying that living 5 years in Europe beats anything. Stop putting words into my mouth! But you have been assuming that I'm an ignorant American who is somehow unfamiliar the diversity of culture, language, and peoples here in Europe. I'm not sure how what I said about the European Middle Ages somehow negated the diversity of cultures, languages, and history of Europe in any way, and NO ONE has thus far explained how it did.

You seem also to forget that D&D puts together a lot of grecoroman mythology and culture, plus Norse and Celt, much of what predates and has little to do with the Catholic Church.
Good grief. Saying that the Roman Catholic Church was an important cultural unifier in the European Middle Ages does not mean that there were not other important cultural elements. So please don't think that I'm "forgetting" something just because I chose to highlight the importance of the Roman Catholic Church as an institution that played a significant role in European history during the Middle Ages.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I think @BookBarbarian was suggesting that some stereotypes are highly offensive or insulting, and others less so. And that might be the case, especially from the outside looking in. This doesn't mean that some stereotypes are "good" and others "bad," it just means that some stereotypes will offend large numbers of people and some will only offend a few.

Either way, they are offensive.
 

Xeviat

Adventurer
Supporter
Well that is very inclusionary.
Wonder if you're going to get the same treatment from @Xenonnonex "Literal intolerance is what that is."



No one is against an update. No one is against consultants. And I'm pretty sure no one is against a disclaimer.

EDIT: Where you may find pushback is if you call for the book to be binned.
Sorry, people of a group in power do not get to tell people of marginalized groups how they can feel about certain things. That's not exclusionary. It's exclusionary of their opinions to constantly have to make space for those other feelings. Whether this is about race, sex, orientation, trans, whatever, those groups already know what the dominant group's opinions are.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
OK now I'm genuinoulsy curious and want to understand.
Now, my take was absolutely made on the fly, i didn't want to target Mexico specifically, i just tossed the first meso-south American country that came to my mind, but let's follow the example for a minute if you will.
I know you don't intend to, but in here you inadvertedly pushed a hot button issue. Never tell a Mexican that Mexico is in South or Centro America, this is not only an annoyingly common mistake -México is in continental North America-, but has been commonly used in a derogatory way in the past. If you want to talk of Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, etc, in a generic way, use Latinoamerica or Hispanoamerica -If you don't want to lump Brazil with the rest-.

Let's say I'm fascinated by Aztec architecture, so i base my kingdom on ancient Aztec kingdoms, (based on my poor school knowledge of course).
Would you please spend some of your time to explain me exactly what or where were the parts that bothered you?
It is an unfortunate result of a lot of American media not caring about the distinction between us being different peoples. It erases our cultural differences and lumps us together into an incoherent mess. It is extremely patronizing -and dehumanizing-. This mish-mash of yours might not have been ever be made into an RPG setting, but the essence of it has been done to death. And you wanted to be endearing and spoke in jest, but this is very much a hard to swallow reminder of a lot of past -and even current- grievances. Also this is one of the few representations Mexico ever gets in media - the others are with migrants in subservient positions, Mexico as an exotic distant land ripe for white colonizers, and Mexico as a druglord thorn backwater country -and possibly ripe for a white savior-. None of them are positive -or even flattering-, and many of them are also mixed with this pernicious hybridization representation.

If you have time and don't care for ruining your life, google tvropes: Spexico and tvtropes: Mayincatec. All media listed under these tropes is very insensitive at best and plain offensive at worst. Compare "Road to el Dorado" with Pilli-Adventure and you'll notice a sea of difference. (Disclaimer, Pilli-Adventure still gets a lot of things wrong, but it is an example of Mexican representation by an actual Mexican)
 
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If East Asians are not POC, then standards for cultural appropriation can be relaxed, at least according to the reasoning that the strictness of such standards should be proportional to the disparity in wealth and power of the groups represented.
That's not how cultural appropriation works, nor why it becomes a problem. It has nothing to do with skin colour or the "wealth and power" of the groups involved. Cultural appropriation is not inherently significantly problematic. Indeed it's a constant in human society. It becomes problematic when one a powerful, acquisitive culture takes from an oppressed culture, particularly one it used to be the imperial owner of, or conquered, or the like. Wealth and power don't matter as much as whether that culture is already able to put its cultural products out there.

As such, cultural appropriation from much of Asia, by the West, is problematic.

There is some nuance here. Japan is itself an imperial/colonial power, and is a cultural powerhouse with significant influence worldwide in terms of media and so on. As such, despite Japanese people suffering racism in the US, it's harder to see how cultural appropriation there is problematic. Indeed there's massive cultural flow back and forth between the West and Japan.

What's much more of a problem is the usage of other Asian cultures, most of which have been subject to imperial/colonial domination, few of which have any sort of significant cultural power. In those cases it's problematic because you're essentially taking from the artists who actually are from those nations, and might like to put out material about it, by using your more powerful platform to decide to represent them however you please.

Oriental Adventures was deeply problematic not solely in that it was claiming to represent Japan (at a time when Japan had far less cultural power, and far more negative stereotypes/racism directed against it than it now does in the West), but in that by titling itself "Oriental Adventures", it was claiming to represent the entire "Orient", and even if we took that only to mean East Asia, that's a pretty awful thing to just essentially write over with "Fantasy Japan". Especially as real Japan kinda tried to do that only a few decades before. Most nations in East Asia (i.e. "The Orient") got either no representation at all, or just some monsters from their mythology put in there, whilst all the classes except I think Wu Jen were Japanese (and Wu Jen is itself complicated and has issues). Likewise I believe all the PC races were based on Japanese mythology.

The thing is, it's not even difficult to deal with charges of cultural appropriation. Simply get people from those cultures involved (including in leadership). It's not like they're hard to find. It's not like they lack talent. And just don't do gross things like suggest "Japan" is basically the whole of "The Orient".
 

Sadras

Hero
"stereotype, noun: a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing."

So, yes, stereotypes are bad, literally, by definition - as in "over-simplified", as in "fixed", meaning "predetermined and not subject to or able to be changed."

Stereotypes are bad.
If anyone has the Complete Fighter's Handbook - please look up the Samurai Fighter Kit.
Does anyone have an objection to how that was written?

EDIT: Surely that is a stereotype, I'm just not sure it is bad.
 
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Sadras

Hero
Sorry, people of a group in power do not get to tell people of marginalized groups how they can feel about certain things.
Respectfully I believe there is a difference in the two statements you have now made.
They do not get them to tell them how to feel, but they may criticise their justifications, especially if those justifications have been offered up in those long-winded videos.
Telling people they do not have an opinion on something IS exclusionary. And that is wrong.
Telling people they may not tell others how to feel, is correct.
 


Parts of it feel mildly off to my sensibilities, but it's not awful. The following sentence stands out: "...the Samurai is present to provide a touch of exotic (culture clashes are always interesting in a campaign);"

That being said, there are parts of the kit that could easily become very problematic in play. See also the Savage kit.

If anyone has the Complete Fighter's Handbook - please look up the Samurai Fighter Kit.
Does anyone have an objection to how that was written?
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Parts of it feel mildly off to my sensibilities, but it's not awful. The following sentence stands out: "...the Samurai is present to provide a touch of exotic (culture clashes are always interesting in a campaign);"

That being said, there are parts of the kit that could easily become very problematic in play. See also the Savage kit.
Here is a link to a grey but still legal source. Samurai (Comp. Fighter's Handbook)

You need to read this first though 2e Rules!
 

Mercurius

Legend
Sorry, people of a group in power do not get to tell people of marginalized groups how they can feel about certain things. That's not exclusionary. It's exclusionary of their opinions to constantly have to make space for those other feelings. Whether this is about race, sex, orientation, trans, whatever, those groups already know what the dominant group's opinions are.
This has all kinds of problems.

1. What about people of marginalized groups who don't take offense? Or who think, "meh, no big deal - I'll save my offense for real world stuff"?

2. Here's the big one: Groups are comprised of individuals, who have different perspectives on things. When you say things like, "these groups already know what the dominant group's opinions are" you are implying that everyone of a given group thinks alike. This is not only absurd, it is harmful.
 


ZeshinX

Adventurer
Unless you're part of the race or ethnic group being discussed, your opinion really doesn't matter.
If you can learn to devalue one person's opinion/thoughts/feelings, you can devalue anyone's, context be damned.

This binary approach is not only counter productive, it is outright destructive. It is the first step towards stunting one's ability to learn. It removes the ability to empathize and to sympathize. It encourages the exact thing this entire debate relates to; the rendering of all those different as "the Other".

It only escalates the "Us vs Them" nonsense until it ultimately backfires and metaphorically kicks everyone in the face.
 

Complete Warrior for 3rd edition has the Samurai class, and the Kensai and Ronin prestige classes.

The samurai follows a strict code of honor, and uses Kiai Smite. He seems to be a powerful melee class focused on intimidation. Not offensive in my view, but more based on samurai from film than from history. He basically stares down his opponents.

The Kensai also seems relative inoffensive to me, but there is the trope of using Ki, along with an Oath of Service as a requirement to play one, and he gets a signature weapon.

The Ronin has a Banzai charge... okay... a Kiai Smite, and must have fled or been exiled. Infamy is an important aspect of the class.

You tell me if any of that sounds offensive.
 

Sadras

Hero
That being said, there are parts of the kit that could easily become very problematic in play. See also the Savage kit.
I can see that it is written from the lens of a Western eye hence the word exotic and mention of clash of cultures.

The Savage Kit mentions nothing about intelligence, just primitive in technology or is a tribesman.
They provide several Savage tropes - Tarzan, Dirty Primitive Warrior, Breathtakingly Beautiful Native Princess, Noble Savage.
Can be crude or civil, could be the voice of the uncorrupted, nasty or admirable.
What am I not seeing? Bone weapons? It is taking man to a point before tech? Human bent?

This is the Savage from a European perspective and I imagine from an Asian perspective.
Are we saying the Kit would be deemed negative from the perspective of native Americans (all) and Middle/Southern Africa?
 

Mercurius

Legend
I think the book with the Savage Kit should be pulled and reprinted with the following name:

Non-Urban Based Person Derived from Colonialist Narratives on Prehistorical Peoples and Indigenous Peoples But Not Really That, Just Think Conan, Tarzan, or Red Sonja But Without the Eurocentrism Kit.
 

It also doesn't make it not ok.
If the stereotypes are fun and done well, they will stand and appeal on their own and the book will sell. It did.
If I want to run something which may be more authentic - I will gladly do the research.
How can it be done well if we never stop and ask if it is being done poorly?

This is the drain we keep circling around. A lot of people are saying "hey, we should look into these, make sure we are doing them in a respectful manner" and we are getting told that any change for anything is bowing to a minority who wants to destroy the game.

Some steroetypes are fine, others aren't. But without asking the questions and looking into it, we'll never be able to tell. And defending a set of options just because we did it before, so it must be fine to do it again, seems lazy.


5e DMG The Honor ability is also useful in any campaign that revolves around orders of Knights.
Does this not satisfy you?
"is also useful" implies it is a secondary use of the system. Combined with the asian-themed picture next to the system, it indicates that the primary use of the honor system is for role-playing in Fantasy Asia.

So, no, I'm not going to say it is fine just because we tossed a bone out and said "oh, it is good here too" Especially since the Fantasy Asia game applies the honor system to the entire populace, while it doesn't apply to the entire Fantasy Europe populace, only if we focus on knights do we need this.

The system is presented for use with every aspect of Fantasy Asia... oh and knights to I guess. That is the problem. Strict Honor codes was not a thing for the entirety of the Far East. It was specific, just like it was specific in Europe.


I have no issue with future material.
Then why argue against us being more mindful going forward?


Stereotypes aren't bad. That's something that you say but not everyone agree. Stereotypes work for a reason. They are ingrained in popular culture. Stereotypes might be boring, but are not automatically offensive. If they are not offensive, what's the problem?

Your comment, anyway, confirms that you are bashing a product that you didn't even read.
And if they are offensive, then it is a problem.

And yeah, I haven't taken the time to pull up a fifty year old book I have zero interest in to go over it with a fine-tooth comb looking for racial stereotypes. Not my idea of a fun time, I've got enough on my plate.

But, I am aware because my friend has developed and sold an Japanese themed board game and had me run his RPG rules at multiple conventions, that there are a lot of stereotypical representations that are flat wrong and harmful. I also follow a lot of cultural channels exploring connections between modern media and various cultures. So, it isn't a stretch for me to imagine a product based of 70's martial arts movies (which were full of these types of stereotypes) might have some icky stuff in it.



So?

Aren't they appropriation ad destruction of another culture's heritage? Are those points vaid only when they support your opinion but not mine?

Should I force you to eat things as they should be done? Or can we admit that by putting together something that were not intended to be together can sometimes create something new?
I'm sorry, did I ever say anything about fortune cookies? I am aware they have nothing to do with Chinese cuisine, and I feel like the fact the get presented as such instead of an American invention is pretty gross. I've got no problem eating them, or with people selling them, but I do have a problem with people getting a false view of the culture and food because of them.

But your point about "putting things together" is missing something. And that is that the other side gets a say in it. If Papa John's or Dominoes wants to start calling their food "Authentic Italian Pizza" don't you think that is a problem? Even if Italy is the origin of Pizza, what those fast food restaurants do is not "authentic Italian pizza" even if it tastes good.

Is it pizza? Yes. Is that a problem? No. Should we present it as Italian Pizza? Definetly not.


This has all kinds of problems.

1. What about people of marginalized groups who don't take offense? Or who think, "meh, no big deal - I'll save my offense for real world stuff"
Why the ever-loving bleep do people keep acting like media published in the real world isn't real.

Movies are real. Books are real. This rule book is real. They have real consequences in the real world.

Sure, a book that is published that glorifies genocide isn't as bad as say, an actual genocide, but I am sick and tired of reading on all these websites that this stuff doesn't matter because it is fictional. That isn't an excuse, that isn't a defense, and claiming that there are worse things that could be happening doesn't mean that what is happening is okay.

To use a horrid analogy, the store clerk purposefully giving you the wrong change so they can pocket a dollar isn't okay just because some people break into houses and murder entire families to steal their valuables. Both things are bad, one of them is worse than the other, but that doesn't invalidate the first as being a bad, shitty thing to do.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
If anyone has the Complete Fighter's Handbook - please look up the Samurai Fighter Kit.
Does anyone have an objection to how that was written?

EDIT: Surely that is a stereotype, I'm just not sure it is bad.
I would say it's more of a trope than a stereotype. IE "if you want to play a film-samurai here is a kit".

However, if it was bundled with a bunch of other martial arts/pseudo East Asian tropes I could see it verging into stereotype territory because then it could be more easily interpreted as "if you want to play an East Asian character here are you options". I think part of the problem could be in setting them apart like this. Or as was mentioned specifically labeling as "Exotic". This could also encourage DMs to say "Oh you want to play an east Asian Knight? No No here's the Samurai"

I think 5e (and maybe other editions but I'm most familiar with 5e) has made good strides, like having more inclusive artwork in the PHB like the one for the Soldier Background that portray that the 'default' options are meant to include everyone.
 

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