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

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prosfilaes

Adventurer
I disclaimer or apology note is right, but I warn in a few years we could find with complains against Lovecraft because he was racist, or far-west moviest where the native indians are the antagonists....or movie of pirates where the Spanish empire are the bad guys.

We hear complaints about Lovecraft and Westerns right now, and we see people casually replicating the problematic parts of Lovecraft and Westerns in modern works. You don't seem to understand why people would complain about those things and not generally about movies where the Spanish empire is the bad guys.

Why not a disclaimer for the books of "7th Sea" what talk about the Vatican church?

Why a disclaimer for those books?

This points out a problem with the disclaimer to me; putting it on everything means that it's not clear that WotC knows what was problematic about some of the older works, and it doesn't make what is problematic about those older works clear to the readers.

Racism is wrong, here everybody agrees about this, but if we really want a better world then we have to defend the respect of the human dignity, the base of our citizens as people. We have to take care with the right strategy because if other feel there is a try to manipulate emotionally throught the feelings of guilty and shame, the effects may be totally counterproductive.

What I've been hearing is that people are tired about having to tiptoe around white people's feelings, of white people getting very fussy when simple truths are being said.
 

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The controversies about indians in the far-west movies aren't new at all, but if now we are talking about OA, why not in a future about other tropes? It may hapen, altought not yet.


When I was a child I saw the movie "Our dinosaur is missing", where the Chinese are the no-too-smart antagonists. Today it wouldn't be politically correct, but after watching it I didn't become a sinophobic. Should this old movie to be totally banned, or only would be enough a previous disclaimer?
 

MGibster

Legend
This points out a problem with the disclaimer to me; putting it on everything means that it's not clear that WotC knows what was problematic about some of the older works, and it doesn't make what is problematic about those older works clear to the readers.

Problematic, like beauty, is very much in the eye of the beholder. They might look at a book and agree with you that this one section is problematic and disagree that another part is problematic. It would be a colossal waste of time and money for WotC to comb through every product to produce unique disclaimers that includes every tidbit someone might find problematic. If the reader is that concerned, they should probably avoid the product altogether.
 


There are levels of censorship. It doesn't have to be Fahrenheit 451 to be of concern. The concern has both an element of principle and an element of practicality. They meet in the open exchange of ideas. Any degree of censorship is a statement that "these ideas shouldn't be exchanged."

Suggesting that WotC remove a product from availability is essentially saying, "I find this offensive, so therefore I don't want anyone having access to it, or the company to profit from their IP." The logical response to such a position is, "You have every right to find it offensive, but no right to mandate what others have access to. If you don't want that company to profit, don't give them your money."

The problem WotC faces is if they give into this complaint, what else will they have to give into? How many other products contain material that someone finds offensive, for whatever reason?

I would think that the solution is obvious (even if their motive is solely for the sake of PR): keep legacy products available but with a disclaimer, adjust new printings of the current edition, and try better in the future.

Oh, wait, that's what they're doing.


Two things

1) I was talking about Banning books. As you said, there are levels of censorship. Banning is one level and the level I do not think that is practical to reach.

2) If "removing from availability" is censorship and should be prevented, then we have a big problem. Because there are many many many things being censored. There are many products and books that are no longer sold or easily available. I can't access most of Marvel and DCs legacy works. Or EC comics. The work of Eclipse comics or Wildstorm comics?

Or, what about old videogames? I remember the Xenosaga game I got was amazing, but in trying to get the second one in the series, I found out I needed to buy it on the second hand market for over $500. Many times I've been watching youtube videos about very famous series from Nintendoe and hearing them say that such and such game "was never released to the US". Is that not censorship then, if Japan never pushed to spend the money to make those games constantly available?

And, if this is all censorship, do we have a moral duty to track down the copyright holders of these works and demand they start making them available for sale? No matter the cost or burden to themselves?


To me, this is the issue. You can't reasonably expect every company to always sell every product they ever made. When demand drops below a certain point, then you have to have the option of cutting that product. And, there is no reason to believe that that action is censorship. And Kwan was asking for them to stop selling a 35 year old product, a product that most companies would not be selling do to the incredibly low demand

1) The issue of Comeliness (not knowing that the concept was first introduced in UA), in that Westerners fetishize Asians hence the Comeliness stat for fantasy Asians.
2) Chop Sticks in the Weapons List meanwhile this wuxia is a common trope in some Asian anime.
3) How fantasy Samurai are all required to have a minimum stat of 14 in Wisdom - not all Samurai were wise. Again the stat requirements was very much on par with 1e's Paladins, Rangers...etc
4) Issue with the Honour system - why do fantasy Easterners have an Honour system, while Paladins/Knights who follow oaths do not - ignoring the heavy restrictions placed on the Paladin class re wealth ...etc also the fact that it was a later project, so new ideas came through.
5) Rice being the common diet for all fantasy Asians.
6) Mish-mash of Asian cultures - ignoring that this was/is D&D - mixing all knights, all barbarians, all clerics...etc

That is what I have gleaned from the little I have watched and from this and other threads.


I so appreciate how you mixed these arguments together, saying how we ignored responses to the clearly bad ones while letting the ridiculous ones stand on their own.

@rohdester The issues with Rice, Comeliness and Chop sticks were some of Kwan's arguments and issues not those of anyone on this thread. Same with the Samurai wisdom.

Part of them have been addressed. For example, while it is a trope to use improvised weapons in a fight. Such as, say, a barstool. they have never been listed on the weapon table (to my knowledge) which the chopsticks were. It is equivalent of opening a book on Fantasy Irish DnD and seeing "Beer Mug" on the listed weapons or an American Biker DnD and seeing Pool Cues. Sure, it is a trope that you pick up and fight with whatever you have on hand. But, that is what the improvised weapons rules are for. Improvising weapons.

The issue with honor is actually a lot deeper and systemic beyond OA and even DnD. Yes, Paladins had oaths and restrictions on their morality. However, Paladins were not knights, they were very specifically Holy Knights of the Religion, based off a very specific set of people. Actual European knights would include things like, the cavalier or the fighter. In fact, the Cavalier is a much closer analogue to the Knight, and their only restrictions were on which weapons were deemed dishonorable (from what I can tell).

However, in the Fantasy settings for Japan and China and other countries where these systems are always introduced (even in 5e, it was called out for Kara-Tur and has an Asian inspired art next to it) there are massive social restrictions placed on all members of society. A peasant thief can lose honor for the same reasons a noble samurai of the court could. Additionally, Samurai were quite famous for a variety of weapons, but are only depicted or sometimes by the rules explicitly expected, to wield Katanas. Which would be the equivalent of saying European knights only ever used the longsword and nothing else.


And, as to the mish-mash, while yes, DnD often paints with a broad stroke, much of that is connected to other aspects. For example, while the hydra is clearly a greek monster, the Greek works were spread liberally around the world, and such stories circulated around the entirety of western audiences. and, we can easily identify that Hydras are from greek myth, because we know Greek Myths intimately. But, I doubt many posters would be able to accurately place the origins of the Kumiho or the Kaichi.

And this is the problem. If you are specifically pulling from every source over there, and combining them and mixing them with no thought or mention to the public, the public's own ignorance in the cultures being presented will wash that entire section of the globe in a beige hue. Everything would be "oriental" and nothing would be from the specific people whom it came from.


I'll also grab the "exotic" and "mystical" bits to reiterate that if you are running a game set in that section of the world, why do you need to call it exotic? We don't go around talking about how Dungeon of the Mad Mage was set in the "exoctic city of Watderdeep, where many mystical secrets lurk in the alleys, waiting to ensnare the unwary" despite the fact that for some people in Faerun, it is exotic and since "mystical" means "magical" every DnD city in every game is "mystical". Kara-Tur cities are no more magical that Sword Coast or Cormyr. They all have magic bursting from every seam, so why do we need to make this setting "different" from the others?

What do you find so problematic about the books so they need to be removed?

Since I wrote the above before seeing this question, I want to reiterate, again since it seems people keep missing it. I do not think the book has to be removed. The disclaimer is fine for me, my bigger concern is WoTC taking care to avoid these mistakes in a future product.


Now, like I said at the top of my post, I do not believe that not having a product for sale is the same as banning it, because I find the idea that companies have a moral duty to constantly reproduce everything they ever made silly. And if WoTC still wants to sell this PDF of a 1e rulebook, fine, I guess.

But, I do find there to be an issue in people trying to claim that there is nothing possibly offensive about the work, and that this is all "mock outrage" to get fame and so Kwan can make money on youtube.
 



MGibster

Legend
2) If "removing from availability" is censorship and should be prevented, then we have a big problem. Because there are many many many things being censored. There are many products and books that are no longer sold or easily available. I can't access most of Marvel and DCs legacy works. Or EC comics. The work of Eclipse comics or Wildstorm comics?

I think we all accept the truth that products will not be available for purchase in perpetuity. But there's a difference between something going out of print due to lack of popularity and being removed from circulation because some people don't like the contents. And truly we live in a wondrous age! You can actually access most of Marvel and DC's legacy works because they've been digitized and placed online. (I have better access to 1st edition material today than I did in 1994.)

However, we all recognize that some of their legacy content does not reflect the values of DC today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were common in the United States at the time. Those depictions were wrong then as they are wrong today.

And, if this is all censorship, do we have a moral duty to track down the copyright holders of these works and demand they start making them available for sale? No matter the cost or burden to themselves?

No, arguments that rely on reductio ad absurdum cannot be taken seriously. Nobody is demanding or expecting copyright holders to make their products available for purchase in perpetuity.

And Kwan was asking for them to stop selling a 35 year old product, a product that most companies would not be selling do to the incredibly low demand.

The same can be argued about DC and Marvel's digital collection. Should we petition those companies to make their products unavailable? How many older movies and television shows?
 

Aldarc

Legend
Yeah but he's only going to be asking for more now...

"We have a voice and WotC is FINALLY starting to listen."
Called it:
And if we can't make a slippery slope argument about this then what other things can't we make slippery slope arguments about in the future? Oh, wait, people will find a way to make slippery slope arguments no matter what WotC chooses to do.
 

When I was a child I saw the movie "Our dinosaur is missing", where the Chinese are the no-too-smart antagonists. Today it wouldn't be politically correct, but after watching it I didn't become a sinophobic. Should this old movie to be totally banned, or only would be enough a previous disclaimer?
The BBC no longer shows that movie. Hasn't done for a while. The Christopher Lee Fu Manchu films have been shown on UK TV (not BBC) with disclaimers attached.

How do you know you are not sinophobic?
 

I think we all accept the truth that products will not be available for purchase in perpetuity. But there's a difference between something going out of print due to lack of popularity and being removed from circulation because some people don't like the contents. And truly we live in a wondrous age! You can actually access most of Marvel and DC's legacy works because they've been digitized and placed online. (I have better access to 1st edition material today than I did in 1994.)

However, we all recognize that some of their legacy content does not reflect the values of DC today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were common in the United States at the time. Those depictions were wrong then as they are wrong today.

No, arguments that rely on reductio ad absurdum cannot be taken seriously. Nobody is demanding or expecting copyright holders to make their products available for purchase in perpetuity.

The same can be argued about DC and Marvel's digital collection. Should we petition those companies to make their products unavailable? How many older movies and television shows?


Are Marvel and DC selling access to their old works? I wasn't aware they had them, I thought most of the old stuff was in the form of digital libraries, and I believe it was Mercurius who stated that Libraries aren't enough (could be wrong) to prevent this from being censorship, because they could be trivially taken down.

And this is where I had to start asking, what then would not be censorship? If a company stops selling a product, is it censorship? You menioned old movies and TV shows, but I know for a fact that there has been a lot of media I have been unable to find in the past. I was trying to find the movie "Tokyo Godfathers" a few years back, and I never could. I heard it was an incredibly moving movie. Was I censored because I couldn't find it?

If no, if "not selling" a product isn't censorship, then we have to move to the next step. The why. Is it suddenly censorship if someone demands the product be taken down? I remember a journalism class I took where we discussed photography and mutliple cases where women demanded that printed ads and articles be discontinued and pulled, because they featured the women, but the women had never consented to be photographed. The one that sticks out was an older woman standing in the window of her home, taken from outside the home. Were they demanding censorship?

What about a biography written about a famous person, including excerpts from their personal journal. A journal the author had purchased from a thief on the internet. If the celebrity demands the book be pulled and not sold with their personal information in it, is that censorship?

What if that biography alleges libelous material towards the famous individual? Is pursuing a Libel case against the author censorship?

And as we drill down, we find that it is only likely to be called censorship when it involves not selling a product, because there were complaints about offensive content towards a group of people, or when presenting true facts and not libel about an individual. But, I also have to wonder if age and notoriety play a role in this. Can I censor Plato's Civilization in any meaningful way? It is a book that has been read, discussed, and allegorically presented for millenia. I might be able to censor it in a small section of the world, but it would be trivially easy for someone to order a copy from somewhere else and have it delivered. And since it has been reprinted by so many publishers, it would be such a monumental task to even attempt to find all the "copies" of it. Or, what if I wanted to censor an obscure song? Something that no one is listening to, no one is playing, and that the majority of people wouldn't even recognize the name of? Can you even censor something like that?



I'm going a little hard into this, but this is the fundamental problem I'm seeing. People are arguing Kwan was calling for censorship, and that this will begin a great tide of censoring all media forever, but realistically, he was asking they stop selling a relatively unknown book. From his perspective, it might have been similar to asking a record seller to stop selling Carl Czerny's third most popular work.

Censorship is a serious issue, it is something which should be taken seriously, but I think people are so sensitive to it, that they are jumping at anything that even resembles it, and taking very extreme positions that I don't know if they've fully thought through the implications of.
 

MGibster

Legend
Are Marvel and DC selling access to their old works? I wasn't aware they had them, I thought most of the old stuff was in the form of digital libraries, and I believe it was Mercurius who stated that Libraries aren't enough (could be wrong) to prevent this from being censorship, because they could be trivially taken down.

DC and Marvel have both been selling access to their back catalog for years now. As for whatever Mercurius may have written, I can't really address that. Do you think it would be appropriate to ask that DC stop selling Wonder Woman because of the unfortunate depictions of African Americans and Asians in the 40s and 50s? Should we petition Penguin Press to stop selling the works of H.P. Lovecraft because of his harmful depictions of African Americans and others throughout many of his works?

And this is where I had to start asking, what then would not be censorship? If a company stops selling a product, is it censorship? You menioned old movies and TV shows, but I know for a fact that there has been a lot of media I have been unable to find in the past. I was trying to find the movie "Tokyo Godfathers" a few years back, and I never could. I heard it was an incredibly moving movie. Was I censored because I couldn't find it?

I have already addressed this and see no need to continue down this particular line of discussion.

I'm going a little hard into this, but this is the fundamental problem I'm seeing. People are arguing Kwan was calling for censorship, and that this will begin a great tide of censoring all media forever, but realistically, he was asking they stop selling a relatively unknown book. From his perspective, it might have been similar to asking a record seller to stop selling Carl Czerny's third most popular work.

How well known the work is doesn't have any bearing on the discussion. But this strikes me as somewhat amusing, asking for OA to be removed he's only made it more popular. The Streisand effect at work.

Censorship is a serious issue, it is something which should be taken seriously, but I think people are so sensitive to it, that they are jumping at anything that even resembles it, and taking very extreme positions that I don't know if they've fully thought through the implications of.

I don't think I'm taking an extreme position here. When people want to ban Harry Potter or Heather Has Two Mommies from public libraries I'm not too keen on that even if those books are available elsewhere.
 

Voadam

Legend

For all the people upset at Daniel Kwan, here is his response about WotC adding a disclaimer.
No that was his response to the twitter announcement about the disclaimer and unnamed "other steps that are being taken to address a legacy of ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice in some old products."

Here was his response to the disclaimers:


And then

The disclaimer isn't even visible on a full-screen web page.

"Thanks for giving us money! If you scroll all the way down, you'll see that we feel real bad about it."
 

Mercurius

Legend
I don't know, because our hobby has changed, is changing, and will change again. However, I don't think that we should be afraid of examining our relationship as consumers, writers, and publishers to the skeletons and zombies that have been left festering for so long in D&D's closets, especially if we are truly committed to an inclusive hobby.

I think that we should stop worrying about "where do we draw the line in the sand?" There is no line. The line is artificial and mutable. It attempts to stifle the fluid development of the game by creating an artificial line that gamers can safely hide behind or rally around without fear that they will be swept away by the tides and rising ocean. It's also an argumentative tactic that attempts to say that if a clear line can't be drawn, then the idea in question is somehow without merit, which is fairly absurd. And so often it is framed as a parade of imaginary horrors. The "impassable line" has been redrawn in the sand so many times by now by people worried about "what's next?" and it's just pointless to do so again. Let the critical conversations about the hobby transpire without worrying about the magical line of warding that puts the slippery slope to a halt.

I also think that it's more important for us to sympathetically and respectfully listen to critical voices in our hobby, particularly from marginalized identities, who are telling us how this content is harmful, insensitive, and offensive. I think that it's more important for us as gamers to consider how our consumption of these products and our use of certain cultural tropes in our games perpetuates harmful stereotypes and ideologies about people, even if we do not intend harm. I think that our ethical priority and emphasis should be on people rather than products. We should be more worried about whether we are doing a good job with these things than the slippery slope or where we draw the line.

None of which I have a problem with...to a point. I mean, of course there is no line, culture changes, and all voices should be listened to. But that doesn't mean that all demands should be catered to. There is still a point that WotC should say, "I hear you and we'll try to do better now and in the future, but we're going to take a different route and here's why..."

I and others have been doing just that, but the repeated response is some variation of, "You're tone-deaf and don't care about marginalized voices." Meaning, it is a one thing to listen, quite another to given into demands, especially when those demands may end up being counter-productive and cause more harm than good (like removing OA from availability).

I think WotC's disclaimer is enough, as far as OA and legacy products are concerned. Their focus should be on future products, not dredging endlessly through the past. Let the past stand and move forward.
 

Mercurius

Legend
If they let Oriental Adventures continue being published, then the next book they may be pure Yellow Peril. Slippery slopes are an actual thing, right?

Yes, they are a thing, but let's use some discernment. The likelihood of that is basically zero. The likelihood that discontinuing OA would lead to other books being discontinued is far greater.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Two things

1) I was talking about Banning books. As you said, there are levels of censorship. Banning is one level and the level I do not think that is practical to reach.

2) If "removing from availability" is censorship and should be prevented, then we have a big problem. Because there are many many many things being censored. There are many products and books that are no longer sold or easily available. I can't access most of Marvel and DCs legacy works. Or EC comics. The work of Eclipse comics or Wildstorm comics?

Or, what about old videogames? I remember the Xenosaga game I got was amazing, but in trying to get the second one in the series, I found out I needed to buy it on the second hand market for over $500. Many times I've been watching youtube videos about very famous series from Nintendoe and hearing them say that such and such game "was never released to the US". Is that not censorship then, if Japan never pushed to spend the money to make those games constantly available?

And, if this is all censorship, do we have a moral duty to track down the copyright holders of these works and demand they start making them available for sale? No matter the cost or burden to themselves?


To me, this is the issue. You can't reasonably expect every company to always sell every product they ever made. When demand drops below a certain point, then you have to have the option of cutting that product. And, there is no reason to believe that that action is censorship. And Kwan was asking for them to stop selling a 35 year old product, a product that most companies would not be selling do to the incredibly low demand.

I don't think these have much to do with OA, though. First of all, it is a PDF and requires no up-keep to remain available. Removing it would be entirely due to pressure from offended parties.

Secondly, the reason OA is available now is because in 2014, WotC decided to be as inclusive as possible in terms of the D&D community, and made old products available. I remember many people--players of older editions--being quite pleased by this, feeling that they were being invited back into the fold.
 




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