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

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As is always the case, there will be extreme views on both sides of every moving issue. And it is only by seeing the extreme views does the culture find its equilibrium more towards the middle. So what will happen is the same thing that happens on every issue... the culture at large sees how things are travelling in the direction of "change" (with those with the most extreme "change" views out in front)... and somewhere down the line the people out front go over the tipping point and make most of the people behind them stop and say "Yeah, okay, that's a bit too far, even for us."

For all complaints about "slippery slopes"... they almost always end up being rather gentle slopes with a whole lot of bumps on the way. And society never goes careening forward like so many people in the far back want to believe it's going to. And then 20 years down the line we look back and think "This is really what got people so up in arms? Seriously?" And the supposedly "slippery slope" event looks positively quaint.

The "Satanic Panic" of the 80s? We now see it as rather silly and that "slippery slope" end up being practically flat. And did the removal of devils and demons from 2E end up actually affecting any of us in any meaningful way? Not even close. Yeah there was a lot of hue and cry about getting our assassins and devils taken out of our D&D... but after a few years the equilibrium was found and it became rather obvious that it hadn't been necessary. No book burning "slippery slope" ever occurred. And what about the harbingers of Satan in the late 80s... like the band 2 Live Crew and comedian Andrew Dice Clay? Two things that people out on the front of the extreme wave of censorship tried to get removed. How well did that work? Did that "slippery slope" end up removing all traces of sexually charged and casual misogyny in music and comedy heading into the 90s? Uh... nope. The worst we got is having "Parental Advisory - Explicit Lyrics" plastered on the front of all the CD cases. Ooh boy! What a hardship that was!

So what is going to happen in this case? Well, first of all... most of the people who are complaining about it will probably never even experience it because they either already own the OA book and weren't going to buy a copy of it off of DriveThru anyway... they will buy a copy of it NOW before anything happens just to "stick it" to whomever wants its removal... or the hue and cry will die down, the product may or may not get removed or have a disclaimer put on it, and then it won't be until 5 years from now someone will finally notice it happened and folks will go "Really? That happened? Oh, okay" and not give a rat's ass. Because why would we? It's a 30+ year old product for an edition that very few of us play, and which we never would even give a passing thought to until someone else brought it up.


And if WotC doesn't like it, they don't have to sell it.

Contrary to the hyperbole from the folks in this thread, nobody is going Fahrenheit 451 or proposing to do so. At most, WotC might go back to "Oriental Adventures" being out of print and the only way to get a copy is to buy one secondhand. You know, exactly the way things were just a few years ago, before the DM's Guild existed. How quickly we forget.

If it turns out that OA has great enduring value, the price of a secondhand copy will skyrocket; in that case I would advocate the HBO solution (warning label and donate the proceeds). Otherwise... eh, just take it down and move on.

That's a relief! Can you explain to me how those two things are similar?
You are putting me in the position to explain his post? I don't think that is up to me to do.

However, I do get the impression that there are some overreactions going around. People seem almost zealous in trying to take down almost anything that has but a hint of perceived insensitivity. I think that is what he means, but a bit more nuanced in the wording.


And this is exactly the sort of attitude I oppose. Just let them take anything down as soon as someone is offended by it.
That is not my attitude.

I had a look at the article, read the criticisms, and find I agree with them. Assuming that Wizards also agrees with them, the question then is what to do about it. The HBO solution is a fair compromise when something has historic importance (e.g., "Gone with the Wind").

But otherwise, it's perfectly fine for WotC to quit selling it. My dismissiveness is for the idea that there is some great clash between Freedom of Speech and Sensitivity here. There isn't. If Wizards decides they don't want to be associated with the stuff in OA, they can just take it down, and anyone who wants a copy can go buy one on eBay--exactly the way it was before the DM's Guild existed.


ike @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.
There is so much I find offensive in your post, but this "white fragility" takes the cake. Say that about any other group and you'd be moderated. And just because people disagree with your opinion about what is acceptable in our hobby doesn't make them trolls.


Sadras, you may have forgotten, but I linked and discussed these OA review videos in another thread about OA.
I did not know that - only knew about the one 2 years ago (linked upthread)

Did you know about the below which was included in the book? They seemed to have skipped it in the little of their video which I watched. That is pretty disingeneous by them. Guess Gygax and co had "Sensitivity Consultants" but that didn't stop the Haters who gonna hate.

"Special Thanks to
Whenever a project of this size is put together, there are many people who give their time and extra effort to see it through.This is particularly true for Oriental Adventures as there was much assembling and doublechecking of the fine details of rulesand culture. No doubt there are some who have been left off this list, but they deserve every praise nonetheless.


To the Japanese players Masataka Ohta, Akira Saito, Hiroyasu Kurose, Takafumi Sakurai, and Yuka Tate-ishi for
critiquing and improving the manuscript on short notice.
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Looks like the fan-made books Heroes of the Orient and Monsters of the Orient have already been removed--probably by the creator, if I had to guess. Or maybe they've just been retitled, or are planned to be retitled.

FWIW, I had this same question in the 80's, when some of my asian-american friends in college tried to explain why they didn't like the term "oriental".

It's actually somewhat related to the orc discussion, in the way that language has both narrow, specific meanings, but also broader cultural implications. And that many/most of us may be totally unaware of those broader implications, because they don't affect us.

'Oriental', it was explained to me, carries a lot of baggage, especially for asian-american women, because it carries a connotation of mystique and exoticism. It was very closely associated, my friends explained to me, with so-called "yellow fever" (white guys who are into asian women.). It was a symbol of objectification of asian-american women.

They fully understood...and this is important...that this wasn't always the intent of those who used the word. But, for them, there was an uncomfortable and demeaning association. And so they asked me to not use that particular word.

I was pretty much a raging, reactionary conservative in college, and my instinct in these situations was similar to that of many posters in this thread: dig my heels in and insist that this was political correctness gone too far (reminder: we're talking the 80's here.). But in this case, having this explained by my friends...people I didn't want to hurt...I accepted it at face value and agreed to (try to) stop using the word. Unless talking about rugs.


In regards to D&D being just as disrespectful to European cultures as it is to Asian cultures, I’m not sure that’s a positive argument to make. Arguing that “It’s just as bad for us” does not argue in favor of the game either.

D&D isn't meant, under normal conditions, to be a detailed recreation of a real-life or fantasy culture.

It's an adventure, the setting is a backdrop, it's the stage and scenery the play is set in.

I know there are sometimes deep-immersion detailed roleplaying campaigns where characters fully throw themselves in a fantasy culture (that may or may not be based on a RL culture), but that's not the typical play style.

The setting is meant to be evocative of a mood and style, to be something to help the players visualize the world the game is set in. For a typical game, this is a pretty superficial take. . .and 40+ years of D&D experience says that an easy way to accomplish this is to take a real-life historic setting that players at least have a passing familiarity with and make something that is strongly evocative of that. It's why Cormyr is one of the most popular parts of the Forgotten Realms. . .it's a thinly veiled pastiche of Medieval England and France.

The reason it's done so much is because it works very well for the game.

Setting materials may have more detail in them for players (and DM's) that want to make the game more involved, but most players and DM's aren't going to spend the time and effort to make some detailed cultural study and expect everyone else at the table to do so. I've played in games like that, and unless everyone is on the exact same page, you're going to have big problems.


I quote myself. Try reading some manga made before the '80s.
Well, apparently your complaints made back in the 80s fell on deaf ears and there weren't enough people who agreed with you.

Ironically... the same exact thing a few people were saying about OA back in the 80s. And its only now taken 30+ years for people to act on it. Maybe it's about time you should start re-petitioning to get the offending manga removed? Maybe it will happen this time.


Can someone elighten me?

The term 'Oriental' maybe doesnt have the same connotations here in Australia than elsewhere.

Whats wrong with the title?
The word has sometimes, in the past, been used as a term for people from Asia that was said to emphasize that they aren't "from around here".

It's never been really seen as a slur, but it does have connotations of being (at best) an outdated, slightly archaic term.

If there weren't separate versions of Oriental Adventures from two editions of D&D, the idea of using the term in modern D&D to describe a fantasy-Asia sourcebook would be unthinkable. While I don't see a big problem with using it, that's entirely on the legacy of the name, because without that context of it being a historic book of the game it would be a curious choice for a sourcebook at best.

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.
Same. I took an anthropology course in college about 15 years ago just cause it filled a requirement and fit into my schedule. I was very confused for the first couple classes when the Professor kept referring to places in middle east as the Orient. Something I had thought to mention very early in this thread but decided not to.

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