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

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“OA has many issues, but I don't recall Asians being depicted as "violent and savage" or "uncivilized" or "in need of foreign saviors" among them.“

Read it more carefully.

You did not answer the assertion. You said read it again and probably if you are white you will get it wrong anyways.

If there are specific examples of Asians being portrayed as badly savage or uncivilized (if anything they are portrayed as being over civilized).

Don’f wave you hand and pretend that the rules are not in a context where killing monsters and stealing their treasure (mainly stealing their treasure in AD&D) is not the way to advance your character.

Also, don’t assume that people have not listened to the pod cast. The same pod cast that was offended by a stat being invented to make Asian men look bad when it was not.

I have read OA and listened to enough of the pod cast to know that they made no real linked assertion of what the point you tried to hand wave away made. OA does not portray Asians in the was described.
 

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prosfilaes

Adventurer
So, you can't be offended by something unless you do the research to make sure you are right to be offended first.

For one, if you loudly speak out about something at length, then yes, you need to do some research, especially if it's a historical work that needs to be seen in its historical context.

For another, facts matter. As I keep saying, there's no reason we should treat arguments about Comeliness any different then we would treat arguments about Wisdom. (Or Strength; the first thing that OA defines any character by is their strength, which is how you would treat characters that are "violent and savage".)

We've brought up many examples; how about Johnson County, Iowa? It turns out it's named after Richard Mentor Johnson, US VP and slave owner, and there's a move to rename it after Lulu Merle Johnson, black Iowan historian. Don't you have to know who it's named after before feeling offended?

People who make an argument for something tend to change their position to agree with their argument, even if the argument was assigned to them. I feel that Kwan started off with legitimate grips about OA, and then the more he gets into this lengthy argument, the less credit he's willing to give OA and the more racism he's willing to read into it. By the time he was done, he was seeing the whole work through offense-colored glasses.
 

JEB

Explorer
Perhaps it's just your wording, or how I'm interpreting it, but you seem to mean this as a criticism. Is Kwan not allowed to change his opinion on how best to deal with Oriental Adventures? And really, his position hasn't changed much . . . his main concern seemed to be WotC continuing to make money off of the problematic title. He seems okay with the actions WotC has taken so far (adding the disclaimer), even if he would have done differently and is waiting for them to follow up their words with concrete action on future titles.

Of course he's allowed to change his opinion. In fact, I approve of this new stance. But I was also surprised to see it, considering his previous response to the suggestion on Twitter:


Read it more carefully. While reading, try to put yourself in the shoes of an Asian American, rather than from a position of white privilege (assuming you are white, like me, if not, apologies). Or maybe watch some of Kwan's podcast series where he and other Asian Americans go through the book page-by-page giving their reactions and reasons behind them. You may or may not come away with the same conclusions as Kwan and many other Asian Americans, but try not to dismiss their reactions and offense.

Why are you assuming I have not put myself in the shoes of Kwan and others, and made efforts to understand their arguments? Why do you assume disagreement with specific points that he has argued is a dismissal of his reaction and offense? Did you miss the part where I specifically said there are many issues with OA?

The thing is, someone can accept that he was genuinely offended, and understand why he was offended, and even agree that the work is quite problematic, yet still feel it's correct to point out when specific critiques appear to be based on misunderstandings of the material. Criticize the book for what it is, not a caricature of what it is.

In this specific instance, I was also surprised by the claims of Asians being presented in the book as "violent and savage" and "uncivilized" and "in need of foreign saviors" in the context of his other criticisms - such as the stereotypical use of manners and honor in the setting - not to mention the book's focus on creating characters meant to play in a faux-Asian setting (a suggestion in the book that one should not use the material and instead use Western characters seems unlikely from a sales standpoint). I'm happy to be corrected if the book did in fact simultaneously and explicitly do all of these things... but he seemed to be asserting things as fact about the book that were not borne out by my understanding of the text (or his and others' criticisms).
 

The possible stereotypes in OA may unintentionally offend Asians, but to say it is racism it's a serious accusation beyond ordinary limits.

Does it mix different Asian cultures? Maybe, but that is not a crime, it's like a manga where different European countries are mixed as a fictional nation from a fantasy world. What is the next, banning Winnie the Pooh or Pepa Pig? Oh, this has just happened! Stereotypes? maybe, but worse than the own Asia productions (anime or martial arts movies)?

If he complains too much, do you know what is going to happen? We will see a new "xuanhuan" D&D but based in the folklore and speculative fiction from Japan and S-Korea. Chinese culture will be a taboo, and we only we will see some PC races and monsters. He behaving as a toxic fanboy is ruinning a great opportunity to know more about Chinese civilitation. I was a Chinese videogame studio I wouldn't be very happy with Daniel Kwan because he isn't being too diplomatic and this could cause a serious damage of the prestige of mahua+donghua industry. It should be better to use positive incentives.

Confucius also said: “The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony” (I can safe you this quote is true, I read myself with my own eyes in a book).

“Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy, but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.”

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

* If Pepa Pig is banned in China, could I be allowed to create a character as the daughter of Zhu Wunneng (the pig-head character of "Journey to the West)?
 

I don't think this is right. Well, not entirely right.

Edward Said wrote "Orientalism" in 1978 and it didn't come from nowhere. I think I could tell the back cover blurb was racist when I bought the book as a teenager.

In this thread peope are still using the Eurocentric phrase "Far East" although the history text I mentioned upthread, which informd my egagement with OA - East Asia: The Great Tradition, published in 1969 - explained clearly and simly why the phrase was objectionable.

If certain tropes have become triggering between 1985 and now, that could be a type of change in acceptability. But it's not clear that that is what is being argued.
East and West ultimately assume the Mediterranean Sea is the center of the world. They were originally Canaanite terms for sailors, referring to Sunrise (Asia) and Sunset (Europe).
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
East and West ultimately assume the Mediterranean Sea is the center of the world. They were originally Canaanite terms for sailors, referring to Sunrise (Asia) and Sunset (Europe).
Yes. From a Eurocentric point of view.

It's best to avoid the terms "oriental" and "far east". Why can't we just say "Asia"?
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
No. We need more than one, we just don't need everyone from the group. If just a few folks are offended by certain things . . . certainly when interacting with those few people, avoid those certain things to be respectful and polite if you're aware.

But for something to rise to the level of, say a racial slur like "oriental" . . . a lot of folks need to find offense . . . . but again certainly not all. And that's what I'm pushing back against. Some posters here are trying to frame this as if just a handful of Asians are upset about the term "oriental" and/or the book Oriental Adventures . . . and that is complete BS. They try to frame this as if 100% of Asians (not just Asian Americans) would need to agree that these things are truly offensive on a major level. All they need is one or a few Asians (whether from Asia or America) to say they don't find it particular offensive to feel justified in their dismissal of the issue and Kwan's criticism.

The majority of Asian Americans find the term "oriental" offensive. Not all, but most. It varies between generations and experiences, it's not the worst slur out there, and it's a bit old-fashioned . . . but the idea that it's just a few folks upset is utter crap. Most Asian Americans likely don't even know Oriental Adventures exists . . . but if they sat down and read through it, they would very likely have a similar reaction to the book as Kwan and his friends have. Certainly not everybody would, but most.
 


Yes. From a Eurocentric point of view.

It's best to avoid the terms "oriental" and "far east". Why can't we just say "Asia"?
Canaanites are Asians. So theres that.



Personally, I never say "far east" or "oriental". It just doesnt happen. I always say "East Asia". Also, I never say "Asian" unless I am referring to the entire continent of Asia. Otherwise I say South Asia to refer to India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, etcetera.

I sometimes refer to the "Mid East", but find that increasing annoying. When I say it, I mean parts of Africa too. So increasingly, I specify South West Asia or North East Africa.

Even today when Egypt and Saudia are both "Arab", they are so different from each other, there is no point in blending them as if the "Mid East". Let Egypt be Africa, because it is geographically and culturally a fact.
 
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prosfilaes

Adventurer
In this specific instance, I was also surprised by the claims of Asians being presented in the book as "violent and savage" and "uncivilized" and "in need of foreign saviors"

Oriental Adventures page 51 said:
The concept of proficiencies is expanded in the Oriental AD&D® game to include training in painting, poetry, singing, calligraphy, horsemanship, and other artistic and practical areas besides weapons and fighting. These artistic and peaceful skills are as important to a character as his ability to fight, since the society of Oriental Adventures emphasizes the character's creative talents almost as much as his combat prowess.

Doesn't strike me as violent, savage, and uncivilized to me.

Yes. From a Eurocentric point of view.

It's best to avoid the terms "oriental" and "far east". Why can't we just say "Asia"?

Far East is not the same as Asia, and OA is not about all of Asia. It's about Eastern Asia; China, Korea, Japan, and Mongolia, as OA lists them.

The majority of Asian Americans find the term "oriental" offensive. Not all, but most. It varies between generations and experiences, it's not the worst slur out there, and it's a bit old-fashioned . . . but the idea that it's just a few folks upset is utter crap. Most Asian Americans likely don't even know Oriental Adventures exists . . . but if they sat down and read through it, they would very likely have a similar reaction to the book as Kwan and his friends have. Certainly not everybody would, but most.

Where's the evidence? I agree that "oriental" is offensive. There's general agreement that "...The mysterious and exotic Orient, land of spices and warlords, has at last opened her gates to the West." is offensive. I don't see that the book as a whole would be considered offensive by most Asian Americans, especially considering the time period. I believe it a more respectful fictional Asia than many of the other that people were Kung Fu Fighting or Teenage Mutant Ninjaing through at the time.

Which is exactly why it is racist. For non-Europeans the Mediterranean is not, and never was, considered the centre of the world.

Parochial, yes. But your division is wrong; for Germanic, Baltic and Slavic Europeans did not consider the Mediterranean the center of the world, whereas Northern Africans and West Asians were and are part of that historical Mediterranean community. Europe itself is an arbitrary division; there's no physical reason to split the continents there, and it's basically a dividing line between Greece and Turkey blown up. That division is purely a European division of the world.
 


reelo

Adventurer
Europe itself is an arbitrary division; there's no physical reason to split the continents there, and it's basically a dividing line between Greece and Turkey blown up. That division is purely a European division of the world.

The Dardanelles (Hellespont) is a natural boundary between Europe and Asia, as are the Black Sea, and the Caucasus and Ural mountain ranges. The fact that modern-day Turkey possesses a bit of land on the "European" side of the Hellespont does not change this.
 

The Dardanelles (Hellespont) is a natural boundary between Europe and Asia, as are the Black Sea, and the Caucasus and Ural mountain ranges. The fact that modern-day Turkey possesses a bit of land on the "European" side of the Hellespont does not change this.

Geographically, it makes more sense to talk about the continent of Eurasia.

But culturally, the division between Europe and Asia is convenient enough.

By the way, that is a great stylized map to understand the main geographical overview of Europe.
 


Heh, I notice the map culturally genocides the aborigines of Judea Samaria.

Almost nothing is culturally neutral.

Inclusivity is the best goal possible. At least get multiple perspectives.

For D&D, having at least three "factions" per race or region helps convey that there are different cultures with different ideologies.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The possible stereotypes in OA may unintentionally offend Asians, but to say it is racism it's a serious accusation beyond ordinary limits.

That depends on what you call, "racism." Was it a willfully demeaning act? Probably not. But that's not the only form of racism out there. As noted before (or maybe in a different one of these threads), willful racism is like going out at 3 AM to stomp on your neighbor's petunias. But there's other racism that's more like going out to walk your basset hound, and being too concerned with tweets to realize that your dog is relieving itself all over the petunias and killing them. That fact that you didn't mean it doesn't mean the petunias don't die, or that you aren't responsible.

Does it mix different Asian cultures? Maybe, but that is not a crime...

I hope you don't mean that literally. No, it is not literally against the law, but that's an incredibly low bar of treatment for your fellow humans. I mean, there's no law that says you can't go out to a party, get drunk, and vomit on people, but most folks agree that's still not something you should do. Right?
 

I hope you don't mean that literally. No, it is not literally against the law, but that's an incredibly low bar of treatment for your fellow humans. I mean, there's no law that says you can't go out to a party, get drunk, and vomit on people, but most folks agree that's still not something you should do. Right?

This seems like a very shaky comparison to me. People disagree on pastiche settings but sense is the majority of gamers (and probably the majority of media consumers if we are talking entertainment in general), see nothing wrong with a pastiche setting that mixes culture. Arguments against mixing cultures have become less niche over the years, but I really do think it is an uphill argument to say pastiche settings that mix cultural details are immoral or even bad quality (a history or anthropology book that does that might be bad quality, but not a game or fantasy setting). At the very least good arguments can be made for why pastiche cultural mixing is okay. Whereas very few people would advocate that it’s fine to vomit on people at a party (and the moral badness and negative consequences of that act are a lot more clear than mixing cultural tropes)
 


Remathilis

Legend
This seems like a very shaky comparison to me. People disagree on pastiche settings but sense is the majority of gamers (and probably the majority of media consumers if we are talking entertainment in general), see nothing wrong with a pastiche setting that mixes culture. Arguments against mixing cultures have become less niche over the years, but I really do think it is an uphill argument to say pastiche settings that mix cultural details are immoral or even bad quality (a history or anthropology book that does that might be bad quality, but not a game or fantasy setting). At the very least good arguments can be made for why pastiche cultural mixing is okay. Whereas very few people would advocate that it’s fine to vomit on people at a party (and the moral badness and negative consequences of that act are a lot more clear than mixing cultural tropes)
RIP druid, bard, paladin and monk...
 

Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach
Lest we forget, I want to draw attention to the fact that the mere existence of RPGs is offensive to some people. Material I have written has been blamed for a murder (Mutant Chronicles first edition), and there was a drive in Sweden to outlaw RPGs because of that and because of Kult, because they offended some people.

So setting the bar at "if even one is offended we should do something" seems unpractical to me. Someone will be offended just by the existence of D&D and other RPGs.
 

Whereas I find some fault in some of the criticisms leveled against OA by Kwan, I also remember that the last legal vestiges of the Chinese Exclusion Act only were repealed in the mid 1960’s.

The fact that he got a few points wrong does not mean that all the other points are wrong as well. I disagree with his conclusion in terms of what the action needs to be, but not that some recognition of the issue should be made.

The real issue with the mingling and stereotypes of the cultures was that real cultures/countries were called out in the beginning of the book. If they had removed that and the title, and just made it a source book for a region, the offense would probably have been much less. Otherwise that is what pretty much every source book for an RPG does. Gives a broad description of something and then lets the DM fill in the rest.
 

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