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5E How should be the future Oriental Adventures.


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The Chinese live in a totalitarian state run by the same party that a few decades ago tried to violently purge many aspects of traditional Chinese culture from their society, and today carefully curates the information diet of its citizens. I wouldn't assume Chinese game designers would be good sources for Chinese history and myth.

I definitely wouldn't assume that what they came up with would be palatable to Woke Western sensitivity readers.

E.g. Kwan took umbrage with OA mentioning the use of chopsticks as improvised weapons and people in Kara-Tur eating a lot of rice. I wouldn't expect an actual Chinese person to understand why this is offensive.
Do you honestly believe Chinese live only under PRC. Serious are you. Lots of diaspora communities have kept their traditions. And culture.
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
I was already given a light warning today to knock it off when talking about the politics of the very same country and you guys would probably be better served by moving away from that aspect of the topic as well.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
I was already given a light warning today to knock it off when talking about the politics of the very same country and you guys would probably be better served by moving away from that aspect of the topic as well.
yeah, no, it should not be controversial to say "not all people of Chinese heritage live in China", sorry.
 

FireLance

Legend
E.g. Kwan took umbrage with OA mentioning the use of chopsticks as improvised weapons and people in Kara-Tur eating a lot of rice. I wouldn't expect an actual Chinese person to understand why this is offensive.
Seriously? He did that? I am now even less impressed. Lack of knowledge of D&D is one thing, but this suggests a lack of familiarity with a relatively common trope in the wuxia genre in which two martial arts exponents engage in a contest of skills at a dining table using cups, bowls and yes, chopsticks, or someone is attacked in a restaurant and defends himself using chopsticks. The secondary purpose of such scenes (the primary purpose, of course, being entertainment) is to show off the martial arts skills of the character(s), that they can be effective even with unlikely weapons. One example which many people may be familiar with is the training sequence involving buns between Po and Shifu in Kung Fu Panda.

Not claiming to be some sort of authority, but I did watch several wuxia TV series from Hong Kong growing up as an ethnic Chinese in Singapore.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
Seriously? He did that? I am now even less impressed. Lack of knowledge of D&D is one thing, but this suggests a lack of familiarity with a relatively common trope in the wuxia genre in which two martial arts exponents engage in a contest of skills at a dining table using cups, bowls and yes, chopsticks, or someone is attacked in a restaurant and defends himself using chopsticks. The secondary purpose of such scenes (the primary purpose, of course, being entertainment) is to show off the martial arts skills of the character(s), that they can be effective even with unlikely weapons. One example which many people may be familiar with is the training sequence involving buns between Po and Shifu in Kung Fu Panda.

Not claiming to be some sort of authority, but I did watch several wuxia TV series from Hong Kong growing up as an ethnic Chinese in Singapore.
yeah, no, Kwan has an educational background in anthropology and Chinese culture, I'm pretty sure he's also well aware of the wuxia trope of people using chopsticks in a fight. maybe you can deal with your lack of familiarity with Kwan before you call out his lack of familiarity of a culture he's studied.

(also I'm not 100% sure on this, but given everything I've gathered about this guy I'm pretty sure he watched wuxia films as an ethnic Chinese in Canada. I've watched wuxia films too, so ¯\(ツ)/¯)
 

FireLance

Legend
yeah, no, Kwan has an educational background in anthropology and Chinese culture, I'm pretty sure he's also well aware of the wuxia trope of people using chopsticks in a fight. maybe you can deal with your lack of familiarity with Kwan before you call out his lack of familiarity of a culture he's studied.

(also I'm not 100% sure on this, but given everything I've gathered about this guy I'm pretty sure he watched wuxia films as an ethnic Chinese in Canada. I've watched wuxia films too, so ¯\(ツ)/¯)
If he is aware of the trope then it becomes even more mystifying because it then seems less like ignorance and more like oversensitivity, because I do not see how providing game statistics to support a trope used by Chinese creators themselves can be offensive to the Chinese.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
If he is aware of the trope then it becomes even more mystifying because it then seems less like ignorance and more like oversensitivity, because I do not see how providing game statistics to support a trope used by Chinese creators themselves can be offensive to the Chinese.
idk maybe the way it's presented is bad. maybe OA suggests all "Chinese" people are proficient with this use of chopsticks. maybe the OA presents this as a pan-Asian thing instead of being Chinese specific. you can look it up and discover yourself.

I admit I don't know myself, but given his expertise I feel it's not prudent to be like "trope is in chinese culture, this man is wrong".
 

FireLance

Legend
idk maybe the way it's presented is bad. maybe OA suggests all "Chinese" people are proficient with this use of chopsticks. maybe the OA presents this as a pan-Asian thing instead of being Chinese specific. you can look it up and discover yourself.

I admit I don't know myself, but given his expertise I feel it's not prudent to be like "trope is in chinese culture, this man is wrong".
If I remember correctly (and I can't find my copy of OA to confirm it), it was a line on the Weapons table, like "longsword" or "mace".
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
If I remember correctly (and I can't find my copy of OA to confirm it), it was a line on the Weapons table, like "longsword" or "mace".
okay, yeah, that's a little weird. it's a little weird to list an eating implement as a weapon. it's also weird given that multiple cultures use chopsticks, but only one of them has this trope of using them as an improvised weapon (also wait doesn't AD&D already have rules for improvised weapons???). it'd be one thing if OA gave monks an option to use improvised weapons, but they took a weird route instead.

"but trope!" yeah okay it's a trope in some American movies for someone to break a beer bottle and use it as a weapon, but I don't see "Bottle, broken" under the list of weapons in the PHB.
 


pemerton

Legend
doesn't AD&D already have rules for improvised weapons?
No. The closest it comes is an appendix in UA that gives rules for pummelling

Seriously? He did that? I am now even less impressed. Lack of knowledge of D&D is one thing, but this suggests a lack of familiarity with a relatively common trope in the wuxia genre in which two martial arts exponents engage in a contest of skills at a dining table using cups, bowls and yes, chopsticks, or someone is attacked in a restaurant and defends himself using chopsticks. The secondary purpose of such scenes (the primary purpose, of course, being entertainment) is to show off the martial arts skills of the character(s), that they can be effective even with unlikely weapons.
I agree with you about the relative ubiquity of the trope in that genre. And I don't think that OA is presenting chopsticks as a weapon in any way beyond that. If there was a trope in King Arthur stories of knights defending themselves with table forks then we would expect a weapon entry for that, but there's no such trope (and I think table forks are a later, post-mediaeval invention). But we do have an entry for knife, which is among other things a piece of cutlery.

I think the real complaint against OA is more along the lines of cultural appropriation, a lack of proper curation, etc. Which is a complaint about racist processes of cultural production but - even if sound - doesn't in itself establish that the work itself is racist.

I mean, that's kind of sad if you think about it. It is for me!
I agree. Both that it would be sad and that it's not about nostalgia. There are a million-and-one RPGs that let us play various versions of northern, western and (sometimes) central European knights-and-castles. I would also like RPGs that let us play versions of Chinese and Japanese folk lore.

Being fair to everyone and welcoming without stereotypes is more important than our nostalgia.
I think RPGs that present only those European tropes and folk-tales are not necessarily fair and welcoming to everyone.

, nothing resembling a real world culture will ever appear in my writings
Isn't FR still the best-selling setting for FRPGing? And it is chock-full of real world cultures.

I don't think it's possible to create serious fiction that doesn't present humans through some sort of real-world cultural lens. Perhaps if one is a literary genius, but most RPG designers are not.

Not every depiction of tropes from folk tales and popular culture is a racist stereotype.
 

pemerton

Legend
"but trope!" yeah okay it's a trope in some American movies for someone to break a beer bottle and use it as a weapon, but I don't see "Bottle, broken" under the list of weapons in the PHB.
Classic Traveller - which is more likely to figure contemporary-style fights with beer bottles - does have rules for this. From Book 1 (1977), pp 12, 33:

Brawling is a general skill for hand-to-hand fighting. It includes the use of hands, clubs, bottles and the like, as weapons . . . Bottles may be used as clubs (once, they then become crude daggers).​

Here's what OA says about chopsticks (p 43):

Chopsticks can be used as a weapon in cases of emergency. They are not very effective, but can be better than nothing.​
 

pemerton

Legend
For most of human history, people in the media, either though laziness, indifference, and sometimes hate, put little to no effort into avoid offense. Now that the situation is turning on its head, some of the same media people will likely, either though laziness, indifference, and sometimes hate, will put little to no effort into finding the solutions to avoid offense.
Do you think this is true of OA? What's your opinion of the works cited in the bibliography?

If they make a ninja subclass, make it more Naruto and less historical.
I don't think there is very much that is historical in the OA ninja class.
 

pemerton

Legend
Answered before this was.
Writing of the other things have been from Caucasians. Written by Caucasians.
Other matters have been traditionally written by Caucasians. Writing for other cultures. This is not balanced.
Involvement of cultural consultants would be a start.
Can we avoid the racist jargon "caucasian"? White will do the job.
 

FireLance

Legend
okay, yeah, that's a little weird. it's a little weird to list an eating implement as a weapon. it's also weird given that multiple cultures use chopsticks, but only one of them has this trope of using them as an improvised weapon (also wait doesn't AD&D already have rules for improvised weapons???). it'd be one thing if OA gave monks an option to use improvised weapons, but they took a weird route instead.

"but trope!" yeah okay it's a trope in some American movies for someone to break a beer bottle and use it as a weapon, but I don't see "Bottle, broken" under the list of weapons in the PHB.
I think it just highlights that the trope of using unusual weapons is more prevalent in the Chinese wuxia genre than (to use a generalization) Western fiction. Off the top of head, I can think of characters whose signature "weapons" are marbles and long sleeves.

In terms of unusual weapons, I think the one that I've seen most often in Western medieval fantasy fiction is the frying pan, and I think stats for that were included in the description for Tika Waylan in Dragonlance Adventures.
 

Tonguez

Legend
I think it just highlights that the trope of using unusual weapons is more prevalent in the Chinese wuxia genre than (to use a generalization) Western fiction. Off the top of head, I can think of characters whose signature "weapons" are marbles and long sleeves.

In terms of unusual weapons, I think the one that I've seen most often in Western medieval fantasy fiction is the frying pan, and I think stats for that were included in the description for Tika Waylan in Dragonlance Adventures.
Other improvised weapons in western fiction include
Frying Pans
Wine Bottles
Chairs
Rolling Pins
Beer Jugs
The Jawbone of an Ass
Large Fish
Belaying Pins
Sand

The Shillelagh is technically just a Hawthorn walking stick
And are Pitchforks listed?
 

If I publish my own "ken to majutsu" ( = sword and sorcery) maybe I can feel unconfortable any Japanese, altough I didn't notice, in the same way the vampires in Ixalam (Magic: the Gathering) make me to remember the annoying trope of Spanish conquerors destroying everything when they arrived to the new domains, or the cyberpapacy from TORG. But WotC as professional publisher takes care a lot to avoid this. Any stereotypes? maybe, but they are even in the own Asian productions, for example Kung-Fu Hustle, a affectionate parody of the martial arts movies.

In my opinion most likely to occur will be Hasbro creating a new IP, for videogame or a production for some OTT media service, and later this franchise to be adapted into D&D world. Other option could be buying more IPs created by other companies, like Power Rangers by Saban or Glitter Force by Toei.

Not only fandom from Japan, China and Korea may have different points of view. Even second cousins sharing the same family roots but living in Beijing, Hong-Kong, Taipei and Chinatwon (San Francisco) also could have got different points of view of ones' own.

Other challenge for the Chinese market isn't only about the censure to show pictures of undeads and skeletons, but also because they aren't too respecful about the copyright and trademarks, (for example the piracy fake books “Harry Potter and the Hiking Dragon,” “Harry Potter and the Chinese Empire,” “Harry Potter and the Young Heroes,” “Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-Up-to-Dragon,” and “Harry Potter and the Big Funnel.”).

Here everybody agrees about to be respeful with the Asian community, and Hasbro is the first because it risks its own money and prestige. But we shouldn't bann all linked with speculative fiction inspired in no-Western culture. This should be showed as offering keys other cultures to be known better in the Western society. And it would be ridiculous if WotC doesn't dare to give that step but other Western publisher does before.

* Legend of Wulin/Weapon of the Gods is a Wuxia RPG by Western publisher (Eos Press). Feng Sui is a Urban Wuxia RPG by a other Company. We shouldn't ban Western publishers to create wuxia. Even a French publisher, Le Septième Cercle dared to publish Kuro (sci-fi + urban fantasy in a modern Japan) and Qin – the warring states.

* Marinette Dupain-Cheng is half-French/half-Chinse main female characters of Prodigious: the adventures of ladybug, a popular French cartoon. If she practices meditation with her mother, is this a racist stereotype?

* The xianxia as genre isn't my cup of tea because it's more about how to become more powerful and not how become become better person. A good title should can show us the differences between good leaders and toxic bosses. D&D is more about interaction with allies and enemies.

 
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pemerton

Legend
how do you publish anything when you risk having to pull your books off the shelf? Why pull the books off the shelf at all? This has been raised before about books outside of D&D: Tom Sawyer, To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice & Men. People asked that those books be pulled from libraries and schools. Is it right to do that? Is that how people want their society to function? Or maybe there should be a forward added to new prints of those books to put them into context? Chances are, the rules for what is PC today won't be PC tomorrow, so do we just get rid of all the content from the past or do we educate people about it and continue to release new, up to date material?

It would not be hard to edit a copy of the PDF of Oriental Adventures and add a forward and to add addendums in the book. They release erratas all the time to PDFs that do exactly that.
I'm actually curious how many high school English teachers - or Professors are actually taking part in this conversation. FWIW, I have an English degree, so the concept of taking books out of circulation because of content feels wrong to me.
I am a university professor but not of English. I am in a law school. Among other things I teach theoretical sociology. In that unit, among other works I teach Hobson's The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation and Tamanaha's General Jurisprudence of Law and Society.

I am not particularly concerned if WotC stops selling OA or does not. That's basically a commercial decision. I don't think OA is a work of race hatred. Nor do I think it is a valuable cultural artefact that needs to be available to everyone for posterity. In that way I don't think the comparison to important American novels really works.

What would be a pity, if it was to stop being published, is that it is the only AD&D rulebook to present a coherent conception of PCs as connected to place and people, and having recognisable human motivations, rather than as rootless wanderers looking around for dungeons and/or quest-givers.

a setting called something like Oriental Adventures is extremely unlikely to focus on any sort of focus or themes for the setting - it's just too big for anything approaching a single book to do justice to.

There's also nothing narrowing it down in terms of time either and that's also important. If we were to just have Chinese adventures and to do at least some research by basing it on the four Classic Chinese Novels, all four nominally set in China (Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey into the West, Water Margin, and Dreams of the Red Chamber) they are all arguably in different genres and the setting of each is about 500 years apart from its nearest neighbours. To put it into British terms that would be like trying to create a single setting out of the Arthurian myths, Shakespeare's Histories (ignoring the ancient ones), Jane Austen's novels, and Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens. And that's just one of the countries covered by the term "Oriental Adventures".
What you describe in that second-last sentence is a reasonable approximation of trad D&D, or the Forgotten Realms.

I recognize removing elements of language that perpetuates or draws upon historically "-ist" and "-ism" based speech and thought is a good thing. I recognize ensuring an open vision of various aspects of the game to foster a more welcoming environment is absolutely a move in the right direction.

Specific to OA, I haven't, for the life of me, found any written words to remotely suggest "This is meant to be a representation of Culture X." I've seen plenty of words to the effect of 'these various things have their inspiration in/from and draw upon many ideas from Culture X'.
There are aspects of OA that are clearly derived from real-world history. "Shou Lung", which is OA's paradigm of a strong imperial China, has a centralised bureaucratic government strong enough to support paper money. It's two versions of Japan clearly correspond to periods in Japanese history around 1200-1400 and then 1600-1700 CE.

Then there is the more subtle consequence of the use of non-English and even non-European names. Calling a warrior a knight in a North American FRPG is not seen as carrying any particularly heavy cultural baggage, beyond referring to a heavily armed and armoured mounted soldier who is probably in service to some noble or cause. Calling a warrior a samurai in a North American FRPG is taken to be a call out to a distinct element of Japanese history and culture (I hesitate to call it a social role given that samurai occupied different social roles at different times and places in Japan). Similar points can be made about lord compared to daimyo, or thief or racketeer compared to yakuza, and even longsword compared to katana.

It is not terribly controversial, in a North American FRPG, to present a setting which runs together, in a more-or-less undifferentiated fashion, traditions and political practices of high mediaeval England, Italian city states, and a Syrian sect (the assassins, led by their "Old Man of the Mountain"). As this and the other thread show, it is more controversial to present a setting that runs together (say) Chinese ideas of unarmed warrior ascetics and Japanese ideas of monastic warriors.

the earliest D&D campaigns were less occupied in presenting cultural verisimilitude or even elements of culture outside of what was immediately necessary.

<snip>

That said, I don't think there's so much wrong with having an Asian-inspired pastiche so much as in how and by who it's done. D&D has a history of presenting "non-Western" cultures as not- versions of themselves with serial numbers poorly files off. This is evidenced in Kara-Tur's two Chinas, two Japans, Korea, etc. (sometimes even using historical names of said countries as the their fantasy names—see Wa and Koryo), Maztica, Mystara's various -not- countries, etc. It's always a view of "non-Western" cultures seen through the lens of Westerners that have little actual knowledge of those cultures (aside from what they could dig up from their local library) and consciously or subconsciously exotify and other those cultures. If a "non-Western" culture pastiche was created by or in concert by those from said culture or their inheritors that still remained respectful, I don't think you'd see a lot of complaints.
I don't think that respectful is a helpful notion here. The issue is one of curation and cultural appropriation.

Eberron's core setting works because, although it is explicitly a kitchen sink setting, it has a single major thematic hook tying everything on Khorvaire together. The Last War, and the Mourning. Although it's called Eberron the real world RPG equivalent wouldn't so much be "Earth" or even "Europe" as "Europe, 1947". The war's over, but the cold war is beginning and the iron curtain is just coming down and you've one set tech base. There's a time, a place, and significant themes that are common to the setting even if they apply in different ways to different parts of that setting.
Some of the most profound impacts of WWII and the Cold War occurred outside of Europe. Korea, Vietnam, China, Malaysia and Indonesia are all obvious examples. East Africa and Southern Africa provide further examples. Does Eberron deal with them? Or it is a white-washed Cold War?

I ask because when it comes to racist presentations of theme and history omission and disregard can be important considerations.
 


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