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

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Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
Why? D&D is not historic at all, so why should Japan now receive special treatment and receive a historic setting? Because some people will whine again that it is racist for not being 100% historical (or too historical, or not written by enough Japanese people. Or the wrong Japanese people)? They would whine anyway no matter what you do so let them.
It’s an absurd double standard. All of D&D is a mishmash of popular FICTION nothing more, nothing less.

Originally made in middle America by white guys it was simply their creative effort.

With WOTC at the helm they want to signal their priorities and attract a wider array of players. Ok. I am pro business. Just don’t expect me to take all of the apologies “and you’re fired” talk as a good thing.

make your product, stop posturing and let the public decide.

We get a lot of morality thrust our way by a company that has a pretty mixed record in that regard themselves. It’s a turn off. Let’s see what they actually produce after all of this.

OA was a product and a fun one, of its time. It was not based on reality but as a homage to samurai and king fu movies! Many of them were made by and for people from Asia and were not realistic.

that’s all it was ever intended to be. Our short stint with the game was fun. Was my samurai true to history? I dunno. Was my AD&D paladin?
 

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So, you have no problem with someone complaining about a work, and the artist changing the work. So, where's the problem here?
All I was saying is, if the artist's vision was exactly "Panda with a katana" then maybe complaints about it should be satisfied with an explanation that this was what was aimed at. If it was, and this apparently IS the case, the artist was just ignorant and knew so little of the subject matter that the whole mashup was unintended, then they should probably learn something and design a new look for their creation, which they did.

So, no problem, I just thought there was a plausibly acceptable story either way. If what was subsequently posted here is correct, then the criticisms were well-founded. I'm happy either way.
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
Um, the point isn't the peddler being interesting or not.

The point is that a vast majority of "old Chinese men" are peddlers. That's the stereotype.
Aren’t old men in dusty shops selling magic items ubiquitous across storytelling and culture?

For every Gremlins there is a Neverending Story.

Wandering Shop - Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki

Pratchett satirises the idea in the Light Fantastic too.

This is the problem I guess. People see something and assume it’s all about them without recognizing the bigger picture. All of a sudden an old man selling magic items isn’t a racist stereotype, it’s just a trope.
 

I understand you, and again, no one is really saying that OA was made with an intent to be harmful, everyone agrees that TSR likely did the best job they could do for the time.

But, that doesn't mean it was a good job, and it doesn't mean that WoTC cannot work to do better in the future.

And part of the confusing clash on this thread and others is that some people are defending the right of OA to exist, and others are criticizing calls to do new books featuring cultures better, and those two groups keep getting tangled up in each other and making claims that have nothing to do with each other.

Because, respecting cultures in the future, has nothing to do with how OA was handled in the past.
You will hear no disagreement on any of that from me. It was stock TSR fare in its time. They were not known for their scholarship, they were a geeky game company. Doesn't change anything, it just explains it.
 

Danzauker

Adventurer
Aren’t old men in dusty shops selling magic items ubiquitous across storytelling and culture?

For every Gremlins there is a Neverending Story.

Wandering Shop - Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki

Pratchett satirises the idea in the Light Fantastic too.

This is the problem I guess. People see something and assume it’s all about them without recognizing the bigger picture. All of a sudden an old man selling magic items isn’t a racist stereotype, it’s just a trope.

Damned stereotyped Garrick Olivander and his wands!!!
 

Voadam

Legend
Thank you! I had I had completely forgotten all about those :) (And all the other supplements with the same binding).

I wonder how long the series would have had to run to get out of Europe.

Anyone know what the mid-2e TSR was like compared to mid-1e in terms of development budget, or how the sales were?

HR 7 the Crusades got out of Europe. :)

It could also be argued that HR1 The Vikings ranges a bit outside Europe as well as they go into Russia and down to the Middle East.

From the historical notes on the pages OA was during a financial crunch when they needed a book fast to bring in cash, and HR7 ended the series when TSR again started having financial issues.
 

I get the idea they're vaguely supposed to be a catch-all for figures like Kaguya or half dragons the like, sort of less 'elves' and more 'half-elves'. But their whole lack of any big flavour like that is one of the reason I'd probably look at ditching them
In the Chinese Fantasy I've run into, admittedly a lot of it schlocky Chinese TV series and low-budget movies, there's a vast array of 'semi-divine' and 'demonic' characters that often have some kind of animal form or animal nature. Snake women, fox women, shape changers, etc. I wouldn't represent them all by one D&D monster, but 'Spirit Folk' and 'Hengayokai' do cover some of that space, albeit rather generically. I don't think its great work myself, but as a start, assuming you were going to fill in the setting much more later on, it is OK. Sort of like you started out D&D with ogres, goblins, and elves. It doesn't cover all the territory by a long shot, but you can get started with that.

I also kind of feel like TSR may have thought that OA was a bigger deal that it turned out to be. It happened at the very end of the Gygax era of TSR. If you look at it carefully, and even looking at the later products they did put out, I think they may have, Gygax may have, imagined a more expansive product, with a full monster manual, etc. Surely if OA had unexpectedly gone wild and sold a million books they would surely have gone down that route and fleshed things out more.
 

Danzauker

Adventurer
All I was saying is, if the artist's vision was exactly "Panda with a katana" then maybe complaints about it should be satisfied with an explanation that this was what was aimed at. If it was, and this apparently IS the case, the artist was just ignorant and knew so little of the subject matter that the whole mashup was unintended, then they should probably learn something and design a new look for their creation, which they did.

So, no problem, I just thought there was a plausibly acceptable story either way. If what was subsequently posted here is correct, then the criticisms were well-founded. I'm happy either way.

There's unfortunately a third option.

What if the artist wanted EXACTLY traw a panda with a katana. That was his intention all the time. He knew pandas are not japanese, but, hey, he loves pandas and katana and had the occasion to draw them.

In this completely hypothetical situation, the marketing guy comes and says. "wonderful drawing, but you must do it again. I know it's the drawing we wanted to do, but we have had complaints and we must put down every little accusation of cultural appropriation, you know".

So, in the end, it's not automatical in the corporate world that if one relents on a position that equals to ad admission of guilt. Sometimes it's just more convenient in public relation and bad publicity to just take a step back even if you thing you've been doing the right thing.

There's a reason why they call it "politically correct" and not "morally correct".
 

Danzauker

Adventurer
I also kind of feel like TSR may have thought that OA was a bigger deal that it turned out to be. It happened at the very end of the Gygax era of TSR. If you look at it carefully, and even looking at the later products they did put out, I think they may have, Gygax may have, imagined a more expansive product, with a full monster manual, etc. Surely if OA had unexpectedly gone wild and sold a million books they would surely have gone down that route and fleshed things out more.

this is also my impression.

OA looks like a "taste a little bit of everything" type of a book, with a strong tie to Japanese maybe just because the authors knew the sources better or had better access to source material or it just was more popular at the time (IIRC the boom of ninja in comics, expecially Frank Miller work in Daredevil and the TMNT was one year or two before the release of OA).

I'm sure if it had been more successful they would have expanded the menu with other supplements and probably other Asian regions fleshed more in depth.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
You don't have to be Asian or of Asian descent to write quality Asian-inspired fantasy . . . . .

But we need more Asian-Inspired fantasy written by artists of Asian descent in the tabletop scene. Here's a new Kickstarter to check out: Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall. It's not D&D 5E, and it is in a modern setting (1920s) rather than medieval. The premise is interesting, you play a Chinese family running a restaurant by day, and fighting vampires at night! The game has a lot of props and looks gorgeous! Check it out!
 

You don't have to be Asian or of Asian descent to write quality Asian-inspired fantasy . . . . .

But we need more Asian-Inspired fantasy written by artists of Asian descent in the tabletop scene. Here's a new Kickstarter to check out: Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall. It's not D&D 5E, and it is in a modern setting (1920s) rather than medieval. The premise is interesting, you play a Chinese family running a restaurant by day, and fighting vampires at night! The game has a lot of props and looks gorgeous! Check it out!

On this, I agree 100%. I do think getting more Asian creators into the hobby is good. And this book in particular has me quite excited.
 

Too be fare there a loads of things in traditional D&D that aren't of historically contemporary periods. I think that one should be fine.
Yeah, Druids and Paladins/Assassins, completely disjoint in any historical way (not to mention all of them being highly dubious depictions in a historical sense, if not a fantasy/folklore sense).
 

prosfilaes

Adventurer
You want more slavic based D&D? You have Ravenloft.

Ravenloft? You mean the setting that started by being based off an English novel set in London and Transylvania? There's a bunch of sort of Slavic names usually combined with Germanic "von" but I don't see any real Slavic influence in Ravenloft. In fact, if we analyzed Ravenloft the same way we're tearing apart OA, taking the Romanian Vlad the Impaler and Slavizing him probably is quite offensive to some people.

Is that an artifact of the time? Probably. Like you said, the information was maybe less available. Although, I'm thinking that your local library actually may have had a fair bit of Chinese, Thai, Cambodian, Korean or whatnot information, if you actually wanted to look.

OA was entirely clear in its introduction; it was covering China, Korea, Japan and Mongolia. It was not covering Thai or Cambodia.

At a certain point, can't OA be bad or frustrating without being racist? It seems like OA is being held up to a way higher standard than any other D&D book. "It was based too heavily on one culture, but mixed in a little of other cultures" seems something to complain about, not accuse the volume of being racist for.
 

Derren

Hero
You don't have to be Asian or of Asian descent to write quality Asian-inspired fantasy . . . . .

Following the arguments about cultural appropriation you have to be. As the only other way to not appropriate is to have a thoroughly researched, historically faithful and of course vetted by actual Asians book. And its hard to write something like this when by definition fantasy, especially for a melting pot game like D&D can't be definition be historically faithful.
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
OA was entirely clear in its introduction; it was covering China, Korea, Japan and Mongolia. It was not covering Thai or Cambodia.

The second paragraph of the preface was even clearer that it was mostly Japan...
 
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Derren

Hero
... errr... they made seven historic settings for AD&D in the early 90s, and as noted, not one of them was non-European in focus.
Which in retrospect was a smart thing to do as otherwise now people would cry about them, too.

Still they were one shot projects decades ago and never followed up.
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
Damned stereotyped Garrick Olivander and his wands!!!
On this, I agree 100%. I do think getting more Asian creators into the hobby is good. And this book in particular has me quite excited.
It does sound interesting.
Following the arguments about cultural approbation you have to be. As the only other way to not approbate is to have a thoroughly researched, historically faithful and of course vetted by actual Asians book. And its hard to write something like this when by definition fantasy, especially for a melting pot game like D&D can't be definition be historically faithful.
Cultural appropriation isn’t all the same gravity. Using the stylised images of Native American leaders as the mascot for sports clubs by the people who stole their land is not on the same level as opening a French restaurant in your home town because you enjoy cooking that kind of food.

Just because something involves using another cultures identity. It doesn’t make it automatically immoral.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
... errr... they made seven historic settings for AD&D in the early 90s, and as noted, not one of them was non-European in focus.
So? The material in the core books wasn't that historical or specific. The material in OA is actually far, far, to closer historical Japan than the PHB is to any of those historical periods. What would be the point in essentially rewriting that same material with Japan? Especially if there were some doubt about that book's potential market. I love how many people say this and that should have been published when its not their money on the line. Meh.
 

Neither D&D nor OA are historically accurate. But that isn't the point of either, and in a game, there is nothing wrong with anachronisms (especially if the game is based on movies or books that are more historical romance, or settings that pack different historical periods together). Historical accuracy is fine if that is the goal. I hope we are not entering a period in gaming where historical accuracy is required of people (D&D settings are nothing like the middle ages they are inspired by----and they often span a vast range of historical periods in terms of what historical elements are there).
I think a BIG part of the problem is that OA talks about 'Fantasy Asia', and it puts out Kara-Tur as its default setting. Kara-Tur pretty clearly, IIRC explicitly, provides 2 analogues each of China and Japan (and oddly nothing else, though in fairness the book is not that long). Then it describes them all using ONLY terms appropriate to Japan. Now, its a fantasy world, they could have simply created a much less obvious set of parallels and maybe that would be a bit less problematic, but they didn't. Fantasy China is filled with Samurai, Ninjas, etc. and it isn't like it is just some area, like "The Sword Coast" of FR which is kinda sorta maybe a mashup of various literary fantasy settings, western Europe in a very vague general way, etc. The OA kingdoms are VERY explicitly specific parts of Fantasy Asia which are clearly intended to be exactly analogues of real nations (albeit in some vague time period, in a fantasy world, and with a somewhat altered geography).
 

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