log in or register to remove this ad

 

5E How should be the future Oriental Adventures.

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
So, here's a tidbit...

Telling a company what you want to see from them does not constitute "censorship." If it did, then everyone saying they want to see a new Dark Sun or Spelljammer is engaging in censorship. Companies get feedback and make choices, that's a normal process.

That you don't happen to agree with the feedback does not make it censorship. That, heavens forbid, the company listens to someone else instead of you, does not make it censorship.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
So, here's a tidbit...

Telling a company what you want to see from them does not constitute "censorship." If it did, then everyone saying they want to see a new Dark Sun or Spelljammer is engaging in censorship. Companies get feedback and make choices, that's a normal process.

That you don't happen to agree with the feedback does not make it censorship. That, heavens forbid, the company listens to someone else instead of you, does not make it censorship.

This is not true, and asserting it by taking one case ("I love something, and I'd love to see more of it,") and falsely equating it to another case, ("I don't think anyone should have access to something I don't like,") does you no favors.*

If a private entity regulates the flow of information, that can end in censorship. For example, it is a facile and incorrect argument to say that there is no effect from the (private and voluntary) ratings given out by the MPAA in America. That is a fairly simple, and easy-to-understand, example of private censorship.

If that seems too abstract, you can look at all sorts of private censorship in the past; prior to the MPAA, there was the Hays Code. The fact that this censorship was done privately did not mean that it was not censorship.

In the Comics Industry, there was the infamous CCA (Comics Code Authority); again, private censorship.

There are real conversations to be had; but continuing to make the false equivalence between people advocating for more, and people advocating for past material to be removed from the market, does not enhance the ability to have those conversations.

Yes, people can advocate for private censorship. But that's not the same as, "Hey, I'd like a Spelljammer supplement."


*No one has ever said, "Hey, boycotts are awesome. Do you know why? Because they are EXACTLY like asking for your favorite ice cream flavor. So shut up." That doesn't mean that a person can't boycott, but using that analogy is facile and demeaning in that it is purposefully obliterating the very real difference in what is occurring.
 
Last edited:

reelo

Explorer
Just a quick question (sorry, I didn't read the whole thread yet) but how come "non-Western" cultures need to be portrayed accurately and respectfully, while "vanilla" western fantasy happily mixes (Celtic) druids, late-medieval Knights (Paladins), Renaissance-era tech, pseudo-Vikings, Barbarians, and generally is all over the place in terms of geography and time-period when it comes to Europe, with not the slightest pretense of accuracy?
I'm not begging the question "Shouldn't Europeans also be offended?" I'd just like to point out that if "vanilla" fantasy is already a pastiche, nobody should bat an eyelash at "exotic" fantasy also being a pastiche.
 

Just a quick question (sorry, I didn't read the whole thread yet) but how come "non-Western" cultures need to be portrayed accurately and respectfully, while "vanilla" western fantasy happily mixes (Celtic) druids, late-medieval Knights (Paladins), Renaissance-era tech, pseudo-Vikings, Barbarians, and generally is all over the place in terms of geography and time-period when it comes to Europe, with not the slightest pretense of accuracy?
I'm not begging the question "Shouldn't Europeans also be offended?" I'd just like to point out that if "vanilla" fantasy is already a pastiche, nobody should bat an eyelash at "exotic" fantasy also being a pastiche.
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.
 



Cadence

Legend
Supporter
In the Comics Industry, there was the infamous CCA (Comics Code Authority); again, private censorship.

Wasn't one reason for the CCA to head off the implied threat of government mandated censorship? Bringing your congressmen in to legally enforce censorship seems a lot different than lining up a boycott of a product. (I'm not saying the Satanic Panic was a good thing!!! but it feels a lot different than the government threatening to make the game take material out).
 



Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Just a quick question (sorry, I didn't read the whole thread yet) but how come "non-Western" cultures need to be portrayed accurately and respectfully, while "vanilla" western fantasy happily mixes (Celtic) druids, late-medieval Knights (Paladins), Renaissance-era tech, pseudo-Vikings, Barbarians, and generally is all over the place in terms of geography and time-period when it comes to Europe, with not the slightest pretense of accuracy?
I'm not begging the question "Shouldn't Europeans also be offended?" I'd just like to point out that if "vanilla" fantasy is already a pastiche, nobody should bat an eyelash at "exotic" fantasy also being a pastiche.

Seems related to the idea of cultural appropriation, and the way that power dynamics determine the actual effect of actions. I'm sure others have some better links:

And of course there are some folks in every extreme who take things too far, but I think its something to be conscious of.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Wasn't one reason for the CCA to head off the implied threat of government mandated censorship? Bringing your congressmen in to legally enforce censorship seems a lot different than lining up a boycott of a product. (I'm not saying the Satanic Panic was a good thing!!! but it feels a lot different than the government threatening to make the game take material out).

See, one thing that often gets overlooked is the difference between de jure and de facto. Obviously, it's incredibly important that the government doesn't punish you for your speech; and it's also incredibly important that the government (as it represents all of us!) speak in manner that doesn't hurt or offend; as I stated somewhere, (some) state governments removed "oriental" in the 2000s, and the federal government stopped using the term in 2016.

But too often, we forget that our speech is distributed and constrained by private entities. This is de facto censorship. This is the type of private censorship that kept positive depictions of same-sex relationships out of the media that most people in America could access (to use one example of many). The government didn't even need to ban it- because pressure was brought on private companies that did not toe the line.

I don't think private censorship is as bad, but ... I also think that we too often overlook it.
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
I'm bringing this in from another thread because the censorship debate:

Once again, it's all very tricky. A lich necromancer King is pushing his territory into the neighboring countries. He's committing atrocities and taking slaves, forcing all who oppose him into work camps until they die just so he can raise them from the dead and add them to his army.

Undead Lich King is a pretty typical fantasy trope but It's a little too close to images of the Holocaust. No publisher would touch that with a 10-foot pole. So, how do you play the Necromancer King without offending anyone? Remove the work camps? Make it so the Necromancer isn't interested in expansion? Or is it fair to release an adventure with a foreword that communicates the nature of the adventure, the actual intentions of the adventure and a warning of what it could depict if your table isn't careful? I don't know the answer but it certainly limits what publishers can release for fear of backlash.

I'm not sure that's actual censorship but it certainly takes certain content off the table. Why is the publisher allowed to choose the content I want if there are writers willing to write it? I mean, I get it - they need to be responsible, they have an image to maintain, they have their own ethics and they have their bottom line to worry about if people are going to raise a stink about something that might be offensive. Is there not a way to do it responsibly without censoring all the content?
 
Last edited:

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
. For example, it is a facile and incorrect argument to say that there is no effect from the (private and voluntary) ratings given out by the MPAA in America. That is a fairly simple, and easy-to-understand, example of private censorship.

The MPAA is the Motion Picture Association of America - its members are the movie studios themselves! It is an example of producers of material choosing how they want their material to appear, not an external control.

In the Comics Industry, there was the infamous CCA (Comics Code Authority); again, private censorship.

And when there's a Role Playing Game Sensitivity Authority that is putting pass/fail marks on game products, then we can talk. It isn't a relevant analogy here, otherwise.

Yes, people can advocate for private censorship. But that's not the same as, "Hey, I'd like a Spelljammer supplement."

Yes, well, I was trying for an example that wouldn't raise hurt feelings. But there's an excellent one that predates your account by many years - the Edition Wars. If this one little request counts as censorship, then it follows that pretty much the entire player base at the time was Dolores Umbrage.

*No one has ever said, "Hey, boycotts are awesome. Do you know why? Because they are EXACTLY like asking for your favorite ice cream flavor. So shut up."

I didn't say "so shut up". Putting words in my mouth with the result of creating strawmen is not recommended.

The fundamental ironies here are getting kind of thick, when I think about it.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
The MPAA is the Motion Picture Association of America - its members are the movie studios themselves! It is an example of producers of material choosing how they want their material to appear, not an external control.

That is why I wrote, "(private and voluntary) ratings given out by the MPAA in America." Given that I just did a quick history of the most CCA, Hays Code, and MPAA in the context of private censorship, I'm pretty sure that I was explicitly discussing the pernicious effects of, um, private censorship.

And when there's a Role Playing Game Sensitivity Authority that is putting pass/fail marks on game products, then we can talk. It isn't a relevant analogy here, otherwise.

So the relevant analogy is just, "I would like a new Spelljammer." Huh.

Again, I just gave numerous example of private censorship through history, and you complain that analogies aren't relevant, because your example of asking for more Spelljammer is the right one.


The fundamental ironies here are getting kind of thick, when I think about it.

Sure, but your "fundamental ironies" are like rain, on my wedding day. Please try not to think too hard about it.

Bonus points for using "strawman" instead of the usual "moving goalposts."
 

Just a quick question (sorry, I didn't read the whole thread yet) but how come "non-Western" cultures need to be portrayed accurately and respectfully, while "vanilla" western fantasy happily mixes (Celtic) druids, late-medieval Knights (Paladins), Renaissance-era tech, pseudo-Vikings, Barbarians, and generally is all over the place in terms of geography and time-period when it comes to Europe, with not the slightest pretense of accuracy?
I'm not begging the question "Shouldn't Europeans also be offended?" I'd just like to point out that if "vanilla" fantasy is already a pastiche, nobody should bat an eyelash at "exotic" fantasy also being a pastiche.

There have been a few different answers given.

1) These works are generally being written about cultures that we have a stake in, and so it is sort of "playing with your own toys"

2) "Western" cultures have had a history of being the top dogs of the world for a while now, meaning there is an implicit power imbalance in the portrayals.

3) Things can be done well, and respectfully, while still being tropey. This isn't a call to never use any trope ever, or to be perfectly accurate, but while it is generally accepted that most european nations had Knights at some point, Samurai were distinctly Japanese, and Korea and Vietnam often get lumped in with China and Japan like those two are the only cultures in the area, despite them having their own rich histories that are being ignored and pushed aside, attributing them to other places.

I'm not a sensitivity reader, but my gut says that a lot of this stuff is fine, but we really need to go forward more mindful and respectful in the future. And we will likely get some much better material to work with if we do so.


I'm bringing this in from another thread because the censorship debate:

Once again, it's all very tricky. A lich necromancer King is pushing his territory into the neighboring countries. He's committing atrocities and taking slaves, forcing all who oppose him into work camps until they die just so he can raise them from the dead and add them to his army.

Undead Lich King is a pretty typical fantasy trope but It's a little too close to images of the Holocaust. No publisher would touch that with a 10-foot pole. So, how do you play the Necromancer King without offending anyone? Remove the work camps? Make it so the Necromancer isn't interested in expansion? Or is it fair to release an adventure with a foreword that communicates the nature of the adventure, the actual intentions of the adventure and a warning of what it could depict if your table isn't careful? I don't know the answer but it certainly limits what publishers can release for fear of backlash.

I'm not sure that's actual censorship but it certainly takes certain content off the table. Why is the publisher allowed to choose the content I want if there are writers willing to write it? I mean, I get it - they need to be responsible, they have an image to maintain, they have their own ethics and they have their bottom line to worry about if people are going to raise a stink about something that might be offensive. Is there not a way to do it responsibly without censoring all the content?

I might be missing a lot of context, but I don't see a lot of the Holocaust in what this Lich King is doing. Slavery and Work Camps is pretty standard evil, and the Lich King is forcing "all who oppose him" into the camps, which is a big difference between the "ethnic cleansing" style of evil that the Holocaust was.

So, I think that story actually ends up being fine.

And, I think this is the part of "being mindful" and "hiring sensitivity readers" that people miss in their reactions. Not everything is going to be found offensive. Not every trope is going to be deemed offensive. Some of them are just meh. For example, no one has an issue with "The Knight in Shining Armor" trope. But, part of that is because we all recognize that it is a trope, that it isn't a real thing. But we don't have that knowledge for a lot of other tropes that exist about other places, which is where trouble can start
 

GreyLord

Hero
If an RPG was made today with D&D rules I think it would be more culture specific. By that, I mean you would take a specific culture or period to base it upon.

For example, the Romance of Three Kingdoms could be portrayed in a certain way with relevant classes and mythology based upon that period of time.

Or perhaps, a popular movie or myth taken specifically from a cultural area with classes based on that area and with consultants that grew up and know the culture as their own to ensure accuracy, but at the same time with good game designers to ensure fun and enjoyment.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
And, I think this is the part of "being mindful" and "hiring sensitivity readers" that people miss in their reactions. Not everything is going to be found offensive. Not every trope is going to be deemed offensive. Some of them are just meh. For example, no one has an issue with "The Knight in Shining Armor" trope. But, part of that is because we all recognize that it is a trope, that it isn't a real thing. But we don't have that knowledge for a lot of other tropes that exist about other places, which is where trouble can start

I think that many people overlook the nature of certain myths and tropes.

Many of the concepts we have of the "Wild West" for example are completely false; a total mythology built out of a very short period of time.

Many of the concepts we have of "Medieval Europe" are completely false as well. The actual resemblance between D&D (or, for that matter, dinner, drinks, and turkey legs while watching a joust in Las Vegas or Orlando) is approximately 0.

It's interesting, because I don't think many people fully understand exactly how .... well, how much of a cultural wasteland America was in in the early 80s compared to today. I remember that as late as, oh, I want to say 1989, "bagels" were an ethnic food that you couldn't find outside of major cities (except maybe, if you were lucky, you could get Lender's in the Super Market frozen section), and "sushi" was unheard in most places outside of the West Coast / Chicago / NYC.

While Japan was looming large in American consciousness in 1985 (thanks largely to Shougun in the 70s, and economic fear akin to what we feel now toward China), Korea was largely unknown (this is pre-88 Olympics), China was still opening up (and before the square).

The word "oriental" didn't have the same connotation that we now associate with it (outside of Ramen flavors and Rugs, I can't think of another time I really see it anymore).

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that while it might not have aged well, when judged in the context of its time, it provided an avenue that many people were unfamiliar with- I would argue that it was "progressive" for its time. That does not mean that it is appropriate now (without a disclaimer), but we aren't looking at something like the virulent racism of H. P. Lovecraft, or even whitewashing culture and absolutely terrible tropes like Carradine in Kung Fu.
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
I might be missing a lot of context, but I don't see a lot of the Holocaust in what this Lich King is doing. Slavery and Work Camps is pretty standard evil, and the Lich King is forcing "all who oppose him" into the camps, which is a big difference between the "ethnic cleansing" style of evil that the Holocaust was.

So, I think that story actually ends up being fine.

And, I think this is the part of "being mindful" and "hiring sensitivity readers" that people miss in their reactions. Not everything is going to be found offensive. Not every trope is going to be deemed offensive. Some of them are just meh. For example, no one has an issue with "The Knight in Shining Armor" trope. But, part of that is because we all recognize that it is a trope, that it isn't a real thing. But we don't have that knowledge for a lot of other tropes that exist about other places, which is where trouble can start

So, YOU don't see any issue with it. The Idea of invading a nation and taking those who don't agree with a specific ideology (that undead is a better state of being than alive - hence the lich) and taking those who fight against it and putting them into work camps until they die is, pretty much, most people's idea of evil. The fact that someone can make a parallel to work camps in WWII and that killing people who don't believe in your ideas for a 'better world' isn't an impossible idea.

It's there even if you have to dig for it. Some people might see that parallel because they've experienced it or have family who have. I could see it as a sincere complaint and you wouldn't be able to just write it off as 'overly sensitive complaining'. People on this board have legitimate complaints about specific content and others have dismissed their complaints. It's a thing, even when it doesn't fit your view of what warrants a complaint.

So, the question is, 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 agree, release better material but you can't crucify every artist for their material or prevent people from reading it if it eventually suddenly becomes outdated.
 
Last edited:

Maybe we europeans should complain how D&D mashes all our cultures together despite the big differences between France, Germany and Italy despite sharing borders

The term Orient covers Turkey and Japan, and everything in between. France, Germany, and Italy all, as you say, have borders. There's about 5000 miles between Turkey and Japan.

What this means is that in practice, even ignoring offensiveness, 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".

Also that list above is very much centered on England; the only thing that has a significant Scottish point of view that springs to mind is MacBeth among Shakespeare's histories. This was entirely unintentional - but is the sort of thing that happens when you run over a setting incredibly fast as you have to for too much breadth and go into little depth.

Oriental Adventures therefore does not and indeed can not work. The scope is far far too big to be claimed by a single book. And this means you have to either handle everything so trivially as to be simply annoying for anyone who cares about that place (and probably spread yourself thin enough to put your foot in it in lots of places) or cherry-pick so much that you leave just about everything that might be implied by the setting out.

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.

So no I wouldn't want to see Oriental Adventures back even if there were no sensitivity concerns. It's a flawed project from the beginning with too much scope.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
It's certainly a choice, and one that you continue to use. I just ... I don't know. "Yoda-speech" can be difficult to parse and take seriously. I just didn't know if there was some reason for it.
That's kind of the point of anastrophe. It makes you parse the sentence more slowly to give you more time to dwell on the idea being presented.
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top