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

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Danzauker

Adventurer
Lived in cultural experiences is different to "scientific" theories.
Cultural experiences also have historical context. So can be looked at in that way. As well as looked at in current context.

Flat earthers fly in the face of all of that.

If someone is racist. Then deems that material inoffensive but the material is offensive should not have worthy weight. Or weight at all in this. Cultural consultants need to address these. Not just random opinions who did not grow up within the culture.
That's why I pointed out "research". Research is a scientific term. Science is science. Science has the same value regardless of who the scientist is. if the research is solid, the fact the researcher is white, black or whatever MUST not be important.

Now, if you say that a term or behavior is more or less offensive depending on culture or experience, that's an entirely different matter and there can be discussion around it. I remember having the OA books and never giving a thought that they could be racist, even if i admit i haven't read them in a long while.

Full of stereotypes? Sure, but like all role play gaming material. Even the base classes are stereotypes. All cultural representations in all D&D material i have owned is ripe with stereotypes, even "europoid" nations like the Principalities of Glantri in good old D&D Basic supplements.

It does not NEED a warning to tell people that those are the "artist impressions" of the common tropes of Spain, Italy, Germany and all European nations around the Middle-Age/Renaissance. Though a warning does not hurt, either. Surely, removing or censoring is bad.
 

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(un)reason

Adventurer
Ah, this again. The joys of the euphemism treadmill, trying to make certain words unnacceptable. It's a clever trick that plays right into the bigot's hands as it actually promotes erasure rather than diversity, by making it harder to talk about the thing at all, while doing nothing to fix actual structural and societal inequalities. Don't fall for it.

Open a dialogue this should.
A warning should be on there. Regardless.
Why are you writing in Yoda grammar?
 

John R Davis

Explorer
Are you supposed to use an accent when playing a Far East character?
No. It is offensive and racist
Yes. Otherwise you are white-washing

Are you in fact allowed to play a Far East character in the first place if you are white European? Do I now need to go on a training course to ensure I can play a Trans-Samurai correctly?

If you just squeeze what is deemed as 'the right and only way to do things' you just kill the game.
 

ccs

40th lv DM
They should issue a statement that they'll look into it.

And then do nothing.

If asked again? Repeat that they're looking into and have yet to come to a decision on the issue. Repeat occasionally as needed until the current hysteria dies down.

They should not deface the work with any kind of statement or apology.
They definitely should not donate any proceeds to charity.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
With WotC's recent statement on making the game more inclusive in regards to racial issues, I should have predicted this would happen next.

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

The 1st Edition "Oriental Adventures" is probably one of the worst titles in the back catalog for its treatment of race and culture, but it is far from the only problematic title. Should WotC remove the 1E "Oriental Adventures" rulebook from the DriveThruRPG.com marketplace? How about the 3E version? Other products that built on Oriental Adventures? What other titles?

Personally, I don't feel that the book should be removed entirely, but something does need to be done to acknowledge the problematic aspects of the title. I'd take a page from the HBO Max streaming service. HBO Max temporarily removed the movie "Gone with the Wind" recently due to the world's current focus on racial issues. However, they have restored the film to the catalog with an introductory disclaimer basically saying the film is important in a historical context but, yeah, pretty racist.

I would like to see WotC do something similar with "Oriental Adventures" and other problematic titles. Add a disclaimer at the beginning of the digital book explaining explicitly the problematic elements of the book. I would also have all profits from the book's sales go to a charity, preferably some charity dealing with Asian American racial issues.

What do you think?
Well unfortunately I do not have either the AD&D Oriental Adventures book, nor the time to go through their whole 26 hours commentary/criticism on it, at least not at the moment but I can try eventually watch at least part of it. So far I watched only an hour or so between the first episode and the 3rd edition Oriental Adventures artwork commentary, too little for a meaningful opinion but at least I can share my first impressions.

The group's criticism seems to be particularly focused of the facts that Oriental Adventures is:

  • far from a realistic depiction of asian people, histories and cultures
  • a jumbled mish-mash of different unrelated asian cultures

I don't know if they realize that these 2 are, and have always been, characteristics of D&D as a whole and certainly not limited to Oriental Adventures.

D&D Clerics are nothing about western religious clergy. Paladins are utterly terrible if taken as a representation of crusaders, templars or whatever someone might think they were originally inspired by. Warlocks are not realistic example of historical witchcraft. Bards? Druids? Barbarians? Many weapons and armors of the game are not really realistic. The economy, demographics, ecology of the game are bordering the miseducational, if a kid ever tries to think about learning something about "european life in the middle ages" from D&D, they will seriously mess up their school results. It would be nice to sometimes play a more historically realistic RPG, but D&D has never been it, it's a fantasy inspired by popular tales and folklore rather than history.

As for the mish-mash, again D&D is a blatant kitchen sink of everything they could think about... not even folklore from different countries but even from different millennia. There's monsters from greek mythology to celtic tales to 20th century horror. We also know some weapons and armors are from different historical periods.

Both of these characteristics can bother a lot of people, it's a very legitimate criticism, but they are not about Oriental Adventures exclusively.

Now where the group is definitely right, is in the fact that Oriental Adventures was clearly designed for a US/European audience. Perhaps TSR wasn't even thinking at that time that they would have sold the book in China or Japan or Korea. That is why the book emphasises so much the "elsewhere", already in the preface talking of taking the players to "exotic" places, and failing to acknowledge that already at that time of the publication there were lots of people in the US with chinese/korean/etc. origin by the way. Now times are different, and I can totally support the idea of RPG books being (re)written for a truly global audience, not just for the prototypical white american straight male, but that certainly doesn't mean it must abide to historical realism.
 

So I was poking around and looking for the connection between Oriental and Orientalism and did not ever realize they refer to the Middle East just as much as they do Asia. When I hear Oriental, I have never thought of Persia or Turkey, only Japan or China or other east Asian countries. It also appears the terms did not really start having serious negative connotations until Edward Said, a professor and political activist, included it in a negative way in his books, including one titled Orientalism, published in 1978. Reading all that makes me wonder how the original release was called Oriental Adventures in the first place, seeing as it was published only 7 years later. Though with no internet to check on things like that, it is understandable that no one at TSR would have even known.
In Australia we dont generally refer to the inhabitants of India and its immediate neighbours (Pakistan, Bangladesh etc) as being Asian. That term is generally used to refer to East Asian and SE Asian peoples (everyone east and south of Myanmar).

When I moved to the UK that changed, with people from India being referred to (and self referring as) Asian in the UK context.

I dont know if people of Indian or Pakistani background in the US refer to themselves as Asian, so maybe its just Australians that are doing it wrong. Beats me.

I personally just roll with whatever a people want to be called. If members of an ethnic group asked to be called a certain thing, I'll run with it. If they find something offensive, I wont call them that.

It does get a bit difficult with context though. Some things that are racial slurs somewhere, are not elsewhere, and acceptable names in one place, are not somewhere else.
 


John R Davis

Explorer
In the UK Asian referred to the IPBS countries, and IME they aren't offended. What is odd is the we say Afro-Caribean as a group, when they are a wholly different background/heritage
 

The next step will be to report all those old pirates movies where Spanish conquerors was the evil empire who stopped human sacrifices in the new world and the English corsairs the noble heroes who traficked slaves. If the famous pirate Barbarossa was Otoman, can't be the antagonist? If the Spanish caliph Miramamolin was blonde and blue-eyed, can't he be the antagonist in a movie about the batle of Navas of Tolosa?

And after to ban all TTRPGs modules where the antagonist is a priest, bishop or cardinal? for example the cyberpapacy from TORG (and why not the cybercaliphate?)

Why it to be banned and not only with a previous disclaimer? In a future when Captain Marvel kick-ass any skrull-invader will we need a disclaimer "sorry if some Democrat senator has felt unconfortable with this scene"?

OA is a mash-up of Asian cultures, of course, but that is neither racism nor xenophoby, only a lost opportunity to build a bridge between Asian and Western culture.

My rule is don't trust anybody who tries to fix all with new rules, regulations and protocols because he doesn't trust the free citizin to make the right choose when you explain the reasons. If we really want to fight the racism, then we have to defend the respect of the human dignity, the basis of our rights as people.
 



Orius

Adventurer
The title "Oriental Adventures" itself was probably meant as a call back to the pulp fiction Gary was fond of, where the term generally referred to stories that took place in Asia anywhere from the Middle East to the Far East, and took place in any period of history. Not only that, it was published because Gary felt D&D should reflect cultures other than Western culture.

It bothers me that the term Oriental is being seen as a slur, because in origin it isn't. Orient and occident are terms for east and west ultimately derived from the Latin words for sunrise and sunset. It probably doesn't help that the term Occidental has fallen into disuse over the last century. It shouldn't be a slur, and it disgusts me if ignorant fools have made it such. But if it hasn't, then something else if going on, and I find it hard to properly talk about in without violating the board's rules on politics.

Open a dialogue this should.
Presumably. Asian fans have researched quite a bit. By the reading this book. Before making that decision. In that case they should be listened.
A warning should be on there. Regardless.
What the hell is with the weird syntax? Are you affecting some sort of stereotypical Engrish accent? Because if you are, that is honestly more offensive than anything
TSR published 35 years ago.
 


Reynard

Legend
There are a whole lot of white people in this thread admitting to not being bothered by the term and therefore okay with it being used, and offended that it might be removed.

The term fort his is white fragility. People think that because they like the book Oriental Adventures that it somehow targets them as racists for the book to be called out as having racist tropes in it. It's not. it is saying we can and should do better.

Frankly I am quite disappointed in EN World as it relates to these issues. I know the forum goers generally skew older than the wider visitors and D&D fans in general, but even GenXers and Boomers should be able to look in the damn mirror and realize maybe we embraced some problematic elements in the past.
 


There are a whole lot of white people in this thread admitting to not being bothered by the term and therefore okay with it being used, and offended that it might be removed.

The term fort his is white fragility. People think that because they like the book Oriental Adventures that it somehow targets them as racists for the book to be called out as having racist tropes in it. It's not. it is saying we can and should do better.
I think this sort of oversimplification is neither useful nor constructive in the context of a discussion. You didn't bother to ask any of us why some of us feel the way we do. You also seem to ignore genuine worries for censorship.

I think we should bare in mind that the word 'oriental' has not always been offensive, and many of us might not be aware why it is considered offensive today. We should also bare in mind that not all of us are native english speakers, and as such the word may have a very different meaning and context to those people.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
The slippery slope is strong in this thread.
Yes, yes it is. I had mixed feelings about starting this thread. I honestly found the article and issue interesting and relevant to recent discussion here on ENWorld and in society in general. But I knew this would draw out the trolls and the gatekeepers. Sigh, looks like I was right in spades.

Most of the ignorance shown in this thread is from folks who didn't bother to even read the article that I linked. Maybe before you post again, read the article this time guys?

If you think this is an example of so-called white outrage . . . you are wrong. A group of Asian gamers are making this request of WotC.

If you think this is an example of WotC bowing to PC pressure, you are at least premature, as WotC hasn't responded yet to this request. So, wrong again. And if you are the kind of person who tosses around terms like "PC" or "SJW" when discussing making D&D more inclusive, I've got no respect for you. None. Gah, the book burning references in this thread are what I truly find offensive.

If the FACT that the term "oriental" is found offensive by Asian-Americans and the FACT that Asian-American gamers, and others, have found the stereotypes of Asian culture in the 1E "Oriental Adventures" problematic is news to you . . . well, I understand that. It's easy to miss stereotypes and racism when you don't live that experience. But now you know. And this issue is not new, folks have expressed concerns with this product for years. We talked about it right here on ENWorld back when the 3E "Oriental Adventures" was released. There's a reason why the book didn't make it to 4th or 5th editions. If you continue in your belief that this isn't really a problem . . . then you are a part of the problem.

If you think this is all about one word, about the title . . . you are wrong. The word IS a problem, but so are the stereotypes of Asian culture riddled throughout the book. There is literally NO ONE who is only upset about the use of just the word "oriental" in the title.

Not ALL Asians or Asian-Americans find the term "oriental" offensive. And like most racial slurs, it didn't start out as an offensive slur, but became one with how the word was used against Asian peoples. So put your dictionaries away, please. The use of "oriental" as a racist slur is somewhat outdated now, but still found offensive by SOME, not ALL. But how many Asians does it take being offended before it becomes wrong to use? @tommybahama I hear you and respect your experience that you don't find the term offensive, but you don't represent all Asians. Neither do I, I'm as white as they come. But I listen.

For those dismissing the concerns others have about racial slurs and stereotypes . . . disagree, fine. Dismiss? Screw you. Our hobby doesn't need your selfish gatekeeping.

For those criticizing others for their grammar and syntax . . . double screw you. You do realize that many folks who post here on ENWorld do not have English as their first language, right? We're not all from America and the English Commonwealth. And more than a few us who are struggle with effective writing. Mocking that . . . Christ.

For those who think WotC's best option is to ignore the problem and it will go away . . . not bloody likely. Regardless of your position on the issue, WotC will need to deal with this. And it's unlikely they will simply leave it alone. Neither should they.

Like @Reynard I'm disapointed with ENWorld of late. White fragility indeed. That's a relatively new term for me, but it fits perfectly. There's a lot of good folks who post here, but everytime we try to discuss making D&D more inclusive, the trolls and gatekeepers crawl out. I think I need a break from this place for a while.
 

Sadras

Hero
That same thinking is even rules that are active today. If you look in the DMG, you’ll find rules for an honor system that specifically calls out Asian cultures:

If your campaign involves cultures where a rigid code of honor is part of daily life, consider using the Honor score as a means of measuring a character’s devotion to that code. This ability fits well in a setting inspired by Asian cultures, such as Kara-Tur in the Forgotten Realms.

It’s one of those rules that you might not give a second glance to, until you realize that stereotype is straight out of an Orientalist’s playbook. The concept gets cooked into the game and we think ‘oh yes, obviously Asians, very honorable’ and it’s been there for editions. That’s the kind of thing that Daniel Kwan and DM Steve are highlighting.
Oh yes they must be right about its offense because they are Asian. :rolleyes:

EDIT: And apparently Asian RPGers who may not agree with them, their voices are completely ignored.
 

And again I should stress that fear for censorship is a genuine concern, and should not be brushed under the carpet quite so easy. Plus there is in my opinion value in wider and more diverse representation in D&D, which is what drew players to the book in the first place.

We're living in a time where people are angrily pulling down statues, including statues of people that are not controversial figures at all. It is not a big stretch to fear that publishers could restrict access to these books in a panic reaction, in light of the current political climate.

If I want to include east Asian monsters, classes or equipment in my campaign, I want to be able to access that material, regardless of its tropes and title. And in that context these books do have value to a lot of players.
 

If Asian fans are reacting negatively to this. Perhaps open a dialogue with them. Instead of doubling down and saying this is not offensive. Then going on a rant how this is the end of free expression. And that doing this is censorship.
Times change. The world changes. Things change for the better. Things change because we know better. Do not persuade me otherwise.
 

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