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5E How should be the future Oriental Adventures.

After reading a new in comicbook I am thinking this is the time we should talk about Oriental Adventures, Kara-Tur and wuxia genre in D&D.

If I was Asian I would support a new Oriental Adventures like a bridge to help Asian culture to be known by the Western public. This is not about to say "Not, Never" but how to do it in the right way. Asian companies should be happy a wuxia D&D as a "icebreaker" to help to their franchises/IPs (manga-anime and videogames) to be known in Western markets.

I would safe Hasbro/WotC really wants to be pollitically correct because it wishes a good relation with the markets of China, Taiwan, Japan and Sourth Korea. But this may cause some potential conflict because these people have got some different points of view. For example I was Chinese I wouldn't like (only?) the main antagonist of "Legend of Five Rings" to have a Chinese name.

Hasbro has got contacts with Chinese and Japanese companies. I guess theses could be consulted. I don't know about the links between Hasbro and South Korea.

Why a Wuxia D&D? Because Hasbro could make a lot of money with a portion of the otaku culture (and licencing of famous Asian franchises). Of course I know Chinese-speaker, Koreans and Japaneses could have very different tastes, but WotC should worry mainly about a right crunch, and the lore to be done by 3PPs.

* About crunchs, rules and gameplay my opinion is Wuxia is perfect for the return of the martial adepts, the classes from "Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords".

* Tropes and racist estereotypes are two different things. Otaku fiction has got lots of tropes, but you can't say it's racism because they are produced by and for Asians. If we allow this censorship without a previous debate, why not to censor in the future the titles with the trope of the sinnister minister?

* As source of inspiration sometimes I see videos from a youtube channel. EDM for you. Sometimes when I watch these videos I wonder how would be wuxia cinematics for D&D.


 

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
If I was Asian I would support a new Oriental Adventures like a bridge to help Asian culture to be known by the Western public.
Maybe avoid that phrasing?

Let's see.

1. Absolutely do NOT call it Oriental Adventures.

2. Try and separate out the cultures/influences a little in the book, instead of having samurais fighting kung fu monks riding war elephants. (People can always combine them on their own).

3. Consult with experts on the issues so that you make sure you are presenting material that is fun and true to the culture, and not offensive.
 

Minigiant

Legend
  1. Don't call it Oriental Adventures
  2. Go one of two paths
    1. Fully researched and vetted by experts of Asian mythology and history
    2. Completely reform itself from the truth and only display the feel of Asian tropes and ideas in high fantasy with as few specific references as possible (like the XGTE Samurai)
  3. Still consult experts of Asian history, mythology, and culture to prevent offense.
Iznothard, really.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
As has been said, avoid "oriental" anything.

I'm pretty sure there are plenty of gamers who are also skilled writers/creative developers who happen to have have east Asian ancestry, so utilize them instead of having, say, a white person do the writing even if they did "research"

Also as mentioned, break it down and don't combine all of them into one pot of mix-mashed stereotypes. East Asian culture takes up a large part of the globe (from India to Japan to the Philippines, etc*), with many distinct cultural flavors. IMO, there's room in the D&D game world to cover them individually.

*For example, Korea and Japan are geographically very close, but very different in terms of cultural aspects
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I doubt we ever see another official WotC product based on real-world cultures. If there is something with that kind of Eastern influence, it will be so thoroughly changed it will not resemble the inspiration.
I mean, that's kind of sad if you think about it. It is for me!

I know that inspiration can take many forms, but as I mentioned here a few weeks ago, one of my best friends growing up went on to get his PhD in history largely because of his early experiences with D&D. I didn't, but my love of ancient histories and cultures was spurred by D&D- and I know that a lot of my early exploration of non-western culture was because of Oriental Adventures.

It would be easy to make things unrecognizable (fantastical!), and maybe that is sufficient. But, for me at least, part of the intellectual stimulation I received from this amazing game was seeing the real-world history, even the things that were wrong, that made me go and research and learn more.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
What we did for Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters was recruit cultural consultants to assist us with a variety of different cultural figures. I think this is essential, and if WotC were to make a book based on non-Western cultures they would need to do that (and I'm sure they would).
 

Gradine

Final Form
  1. Don't call it Oriental Adventures
  2. Go one of two paths
    1. Fully researched and vetted by experts of Asian mythology and history
    2. Completely reform itself from the truth and only display the feel of Asian tropes and ideas in high fantasy with as few specific references as possible (like the XGTE Samurai)
  3. Still consult experts of Asian history, mythology, and culture to prevent offense.
Iznothard, really.
This, basically.

There's a step 4, as well:

4. Expect that no matter how much you try to do everything right, you will get pushback and criticism, either because you're still going to make mistakes because you are, after all, human; or that you'll potentially offend folks from perspectives even your consultants won't have considered. Accept them with grace and humility and promise to constantly improve.

Still, not very difficult at all.
 

Slit518

Explorer
Genuine question here -- do we know why the term "Oriental" might be considered offensive?

Would it be no different than referring to a region or peoples such as the words Arab or Polynesian?

Is it just the context?

Let's take a look -
1. Oriental Adventures
2. Arabian Adventures
3. Polynesian Adventures
 

Retreater

Legend
I mean, that's kind of sad if you think about it. It is for me!

I know that inspiration can take many forms, but as I mentioned here a few weeks ago, one of my best friends growing up went on to get his PhD in history largely because of his early experiences with D&D. I didn't, but my love of ancient histories and cultures was spurred by D&D- and I know that a lot of my early exploration of non-western culture was because of Oriental Adventures.

It would be easy to make things unrecognizable (fantastical!), and maybe that is sufficient. But, for me at least, part of the intellectual stimulation I received from this amazing game was seeing the real-world history, even the things that were wrong, that made me go and research and learn more.
Yes, it is sad to lose the nostalgia of our game, the thrill of discovery of foreign worlds, interaction in cultures that might encourage us to read real history. But in the end, it's about creating an atmosphere of inclusion in the hobby, and I don't think we can do it anymore.
Being fair to everyone and welcoming without stereotypes is more important than our nostalgia.
As a writer of gaming material, I will not trust in a person's opinion of what is "culturally okay." It can easily change at the drop of a hat and what doesn't offend one person might be terrible to someone else. At the very best, you end up just getting bad publicity and having to apologize.
So from now on, nothing resembling a real world culture will ever appear in my writings.
 

jgsugden

Legend
This was discussed at length in April and May.


My opinion: Everything to date is tainted. It is a lose-lose proposition to release something that continues the prior settings and elements created by predominantly (or at least significantly) white creators (including the entire channels of production in the term creators, not just authors and editors). Whether you agree that this is just or not, it is an economic truth - I don't think you can have a commercial product not created with the respect that is currently demanded due to risks that it will be boycotted, or public perception will hurt your brand.

I think the only way to release a product of this type in the next 10 years that honors a non-European culture is to make it from scratch and have the vast majority of the contributions to the creation come from people that originate from the lands that are being honored by the product.

However, there is a problem. In Hollywood, it is no longer acceptable for a white actor to play a non-white role. Will that mentality filter down to role playing? After all, the core of role playing is acting. Will it leave us with guidance that white DMs should not utilize non-white cultural homages in their games? Should non-white players be allowed to role play characters inspired by non-white cultures? If the answer is no, the product may not be financially viable, as it would only be useful to groups of people predominantly from that culture.

That is even more restricting when the discussion so far has stressed an importance of not combining different cultures from Asia into one product.

I believe that WotC is likely going to punt on this topic. Instead of making products themselves, they'll support 3rd parties that will make products that sell on a smaller scale and are allowed to use the WotC IP, likely in exchange for a licensing fee. It seems to be the lowest risk approach.
 

Kobold Avenger

Adventurer
Genuine question here -- do we know why the term "Oriental" might be considered offensive?

Would it be no different than referring to a region or peoples such as the words Arab or Polynesian?

Is it just the context?

Let's take a look -
1. Oriental Adventures
2. Arabian Adventures
3. Polynesian Adventures
I'm an Asian Canadian, it's not a term favoured by the vast majority of Asians living in North America (and probably Australia and New Zealand too).
 

Slit518

Explorer
I'm an Asian Canadian, it's not a term favoured by the vast majority of Asians living in North America (and probably Australia and New Zealand too).
Thanks for the answer.

However, I am not sure if the term blankets folks with ancestry from that region as a whole, or if it refers to folks currently living there?
I assume blankets as a whole, would that be correct?

I suppose it would be no different than calling white folks who aren't from Europe European instead of Canadian, American, etc?
 

If you look at the original Oriental Adventures, yeah, not a single person of Asian descent is credited on it. David "Zeb" Cook had never even traveled to an Asian country; he finally did so with the payout from this book, if I recall my TSR history correctly.

As has been said, avoid "oriental" anything.

I'm pretty sure there are plenty of gamers who are also skilled writers/creative developers who happen to have have east Asian ancestry, so utilize them instead of having, say, a white person do the writing even if they did "research"
Magic the Gathering has an China/Mongolia-inspired world called Tarkir. If we'll see anything, I suspect it'd be set there.

I doubt we ever see another official WotC product based on real-world cultures. If there is something with that kind of Eastern influence, it will be so thoroughly changed it will not resemble the inspiration.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Yes, it is sad to lose the nostalgia of our game, the thrill of discovery of foreign worlds, interaction in cultures that might encourage us to read real history. But in the end, it's about creating an atmosphere of inclusion in the hobby, and I don't think we can do it anymore.
Being fair to everyone and welcoming without stereotypes is more important than our nostalgia.
As a writer of gaming material, I will not trust in a person's opinion of what is "culturally okay." It can easily change at the drop of a hat and what doesn't offend one person might be terrible to someone else. At the very best, you end up just getting bad publicity and having to apologize.
So from now on, nothing resembling a real world culture will ever appear in my writings.
To be clear, this isn't about nostalgia; all of the older material is available to anyone who wants to run it.

Instead, I am more concerned that by removing any and all real-world referents, they are doing little for inclusion and are removing some of the best aspects of the game in terms of it being an impetus to learning more.

Which would be terrible. I agree that WoTC is likely to do this; after all, this is a corporation, and corporations are about making money and not waves; it is easier to create something removed from reality than it is to make sure that the material is both faithful and inclusive.
 


I am sure WotC will consult experts even maybe it is doing it now. Even they would be just warned some things could be allowed in Taiwan but censored in China.

Maybe they will use a different name, but I doubt among Chinese or Japanese words, maybe xuanhuan, jianghu, shenmo or isekai. Maybe a title with a Chinese and a Japanese word.

To say WotC can't publish a book about xiákè and kabukimono is like saying Disney can't produce movies about Alladin, Mulan or Raya and the last dragon. This is not about to forbbid but to explain how to do in the right way. Can't we watch the movies of Kung-Fu Panda? We shouldn't close those doors. If we complain about stereotypes then we could talk about beat'em videogames by Asian companies. If am Spanish can I complain about Vega (Street Fighters) or another Spanishs characters in videogames?

* We don't need the title "Arabian Nights" when "1001 nights" is more universal.

* When I was a child I saw many episodes of the serie "Kung Fu", whose main character was "the little grasshopper", playeb by David Carradine. If respect Chinese culture was thanks this serie, but the "sequel", set in the current age was an horrible "jumping the shark", too fantastic even for me.

Today there are series with roots on Asian cultures, for example Warrior (an old idea by Bruce Lee), or Wu Assasins.
 

lkj

Adventurer
Genuine question here -- do we know why the term "Oriental" might be considered offensive?

Would it be no different than referring to a region or peoples such as the words Arab or Polynesian?

Is it just the context?

Let's take a look -
1. Oriental Adventures
2. Arabian Adventures
3. Polynesian Adventures

I believe the term simply means 'eastern'. However, my understanding is that the reason it has gone out of favor is that the term has historically been associated with a lot of racist tropes. So it carries a lot of baggage. And, since it's not all that descriptive anyway and it tends to lump a lot of very disparate cultures, I don't really think it is much of a loss.

I am happy to be corrected by someone with more knowledge on the matter.

AD
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I believe the term simply means 'eastern'. However, my understanding is that the reason it has gone out of favor is that the term has historically been associated with a lot of racist tropes. So it carries a lot of baggage. And, since it's not all that descriptive anyway and it tends to lump a lot of very disparate cultures, I don't really think it is much of a loss.

I am happy to be corrected by someone with more knowledge on the matter.

AD
This is getting a little sideways, since it is very difficult for me to understand how someone does not know, today, that this term isn't proper to use (at least, not in America).

If used as a pure descriptor of location (Oriental, Occidental), then it is acceptable. But not for people.

Here's a quick explanation from 2009:

In 2016, it was removed from use in any and all federal law. You can additionally find numerous examples of people with Asian ancestry taking offense to the term, both because it lumps numerous different people under one umbrella, because it "others" people, because it has a stigma of "exoticism," and because it has been used in unsavory ways in the past; in short, while it has more pleasant connotations than some other words, it still causes offense for multiple reasons.

Again, in order to avoid thread derailment and lockdown, I advise using google. :)

EDIT- to be clear, this isn't directed at the person I am responding to, but to the person just asking questions.
 

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