Kara-Tur vs Rokugan

Which setting do you prefer for your Oriental Adventures

  • Kara-Tur

    Votes: 56 58.3%
  • Rokugan

    Votes: 20 20.8%
  • Uh... why not Dragon Empires?

    Votes: 1 1.0%
  • Lemoncurry

    Votes: 19 19.8%

  • Total voters
    96

Desdichado

Adventurer
Ready! Fight! Hadouken!

Seriously, though—although my own interest and exposure to chinoiserie in fantasy is somewhat limited, I'm curious what people who are familiar with both settings think about them compared and contrasted to each other. Which one would you prefer, and why? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? I'm marginally more familiar with the latter, having at least read the 3e Oriental Adventures book all the way through once years ago, and I've got a copy of the Alderac d20 Rokugan book sitting around in a box in my basement, I think, although I've only read a chapter or two of it. I think I even had and read a Rokugan novel once. Was there one based on the Scorpion clan? But given that Kara-Tur already existed, it seemed kinda superfluous to introduce us to another one. I can only presume that it was done so so that Alderac under the conditions of the license, could continue to support it so WotC didn't have to. And while that makes perfect sense as a business decision, it doesn't tell me much (if anything) about the merits of the two settings.

Heck, I probably am at least as familiar with Paizo's Dragon Empires as I am with either of these. Maybe it's better than either. Or maybe not. Don't know. Any thoughts?
 

ART!

Explorer
I know very little about any of these, but I've subscribed so I can see what answers you get.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Eh, I use a variant Kara Tur based on 1e's Oriental Adventures HC that lies in Greyhawk.

So Lemon Curry with a dash of Kara Tur.
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
Not that there's a lot of votes yet, but I'm a little surprised that there aren't ANY votes for Rokugan. Really? Is Kara-Tur really THAT much better? Why? In what way?
 

Satyrn

Villager
Not that there's a lot of votes yet, but I'm a little surprised that there aren't ANY votes for Rokugan. Really? Is Kara-Tur really THAT much better? Why? In what way?
I would've voted for Rokugan over Kara-Tur, because I've actually played in it back in 3e, but ever since then I've been enamored of the Ravenloft islands, and they've popped up in my current campaign notes a couple times now.
 

Kobold Avenger

Adventurer
Rokugan is mostly just Japan. Kara-Tur has something like 2 Japans, 2 Chinas, Korea (even if they weren't creative in it's name), Tibet, Mongolia, Siberia, and some equivalents to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia and the Philipines.
 

Bacon Bits

Explorer
Not that there's a lot of votes yet, but I'm a little surprised that there aren't ANY votes for Rokugan. Really? Is Kara-Tur really THAT much better? Why? In what way?
The big problem with Rokugan is that it's... over. Rokugan, and indeed all of L5R, was extremely compelling when the original story was running. However, the Clan War timeline ended, and the new lore has completely different dynamics and it just isn't as fun. It's the same problem NWOD had. All the lore and depth of the setting got thrown out to sell more books, and the new lore didn't have the same magic. Sure, they can roll the setting back, but even if they put it at the end of the original timeline, it's fundamentally changed. It's the core problem with any living setting. It can really only be played once.
 

Azzy

Cyclone Ranger
Rokugan is mostly just Japan. Kara-Tur has something like 2 Japans, 2 Chinas, Korea (even if they weren't creative in it's name), Tibet, Mongolia, Siberia, and some equivalents to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia and the Philipines.
Yeah, Rokugan is kinda a one-trick pony. It's mostly a Japanese setting stereotype with some odd dashes from other cultures (like the whole Great Wall expy). Kara-Tur at least has multiple countries and cultures that are stereotypes of different Asian cultures. Kara-Tur has major faults, but it wins hands down against Rokugan.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
While I don't know anything about Dragon Empires, Kara-Tur and Rokugan each have some advantages and disadvantages.

Kara-Tur was originally supposed to be in Greyhawk (on the other side of the world), but was later merged into Realms because that was the most supported setting. This helps Kara-Tur, because you can have characters from Faerun explore it, giving you an outsiders (gaijin) perspective, allowing it to open up for the players as they travel. It has a lot more asian cultures represented, giving quite a variety. The biggest downside is that there really isn't much story here, except what the DM devises.

Rokugan was an IP long before it was a D&D product. It has a rich history and detailed culture that is focused on primarily medieval japan (i.e. samurai). Depending on the timeline used, there are many interesting and detailed characters to use for NPCs, as well as a fully detailed story that spans several decades. There are a ton of resources available due to the AEG rpg having 4 editions, with most books expanding cultural, political, and historical lore. The biggest downside to Rokugan is that it's no longer a WotC IP, so there will never be any support for it, which is bad because the shugenja is a combination of cleric/wizard (with a dash of druid), and would need a full new class to be used properly (not to mention the courtier classes, but that's less important IMO). To run Rokugan would require a lot of Homebrew, and I don't believe most people would find it to be worth the effort (even if I would).
 

gyor

Adventurer
The big problem with Rokugan is that it's... over. Rokugan, and indeed all of L5R, was extremely compelling when the original story was running. However, the Clan War timeline ended, and the new lore has completely different dynamics and it just isn't as fun. It's the same problem NWOD had. All the lore and depth of the setting got thrown out to sell more books, and the new lore didn't have the same magic. Sure, they can roll the setting back, but even if they put it at the end of the original timeline, it's fundamentally changed. It's the core problem with any living setting. It can really only be played once.
IMO Chronicles of Darkness 2e is a huge improvement over 1e, and the lore is a lot deeper and better put together.
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
In my case, I'm really only familiar with Rokugan from the D&D books, so whatever was going on with the other stuff I don't know about. I suppose I'm talking about taking the D&D stuff in print and using it to play D&D in the setting, moreso than doing anything else with the stuff. Converting the shugenja from Rokugan shouldn't be an insurmountable obstacle, especially compared to whatever you have to convert from Kara-Tur, which has been an abandoned setting for much longer. At least in the D&D context.
 

gyor

Adventurer
While I don't know anything about Dragon Empires, Kara-Tur and Rokugan each have some advantages and disadvantages.

Kara-Tur was originally supposed to be in Greyhawk (on the other side of the world), but was later merged into Realms because that was the most supported setting. This helps Kara-Tur, because you can have characters from Faerun explore it, giving you an outsiders (gaijin) perspective, allowing it to open up for the players as they travel. It has a lot more asian cultures represented, giving quite a variety. The biggest downside is that there really isn't much story here, except what the DM devises.

Rokugan was an IP long before it was a D&D product. It has a rich history and detailed culture that is focused on primarily medieval japan (i.e. samurai). Depending on the timeline used, there are many interesting and detailed characters to use for NPCs, as well as a fully detailed story that spans several decades. There are a ton of resources available due to the AEG rpg having 4 editions, with most books expanding cultural, political, and historical lore. The biggest downside to Rokugan is that it's no longer a WotC IP, so there will never be any support for it, which is bad because the shugenja is a combination of cleric/wizard (with a dash of druid), and would need a full new class to be used properly (not to mention the courtier classes, but that's less important IMO). To run Rokugan would require a lot of Homebrew, and I don't believe most people would find it to be worth the effort (even if I would).
Kara Tur would be effected by the Spellplague and Sundering and other events as well. And there have been a few plots effecting it like the Tuigan invasion.

Still one of the things that makes Kara Tur more then generic Fantasy Asia is the presence of Spelljammers and interactions with Faerun and Zakhara. Tu Lung as major diplomatic ties to Mulhorand at one point for example.

Wu might have interplanetary Colonies.

Oh and Kara Tur is bigger then even Faerun or Zakhara, is freaking bigger then RL Asia, it's huge.

A good chunk of Kara Tur was ruled by ancient Imaskar at one point.

And Kara Tur used to
 
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LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
I am more a book collector than a player, and I would rather to create my own mash-up worlds. I like some ideas from L5R like samurai clans and humanoid races, but I would rather Oriental Adventures with more classes and races.

OA needs "nekojin" ( = catfolk), cool racial traits for the shen, the "oriental elves", and I imagine samurai, ninja and shujenja as martial adept classes, with maneuvers from "Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords".

Sometimes I have wondered about how would be a Kara-Tur created by and for Asian players from Taiwan, Japan and Korea, and I guess today Asian MMORPGs would be a too strong influence, and we had to add some little cute humanoid race (and the korobokuru aren't cute al all).

Do you know the kaidan setting? What do you think about the kickstarter of "The Koryo Hall of Adventures"? I guess they have forgotten there the metal is the fifth classic element.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/aurelienlaine/the-koryo-hall-of-adventures-5e-compatible-campaig?ref=section-games-projectcollection-tag
 

Kobold Avenger

Adventurer
Kara Tur has the races introduced from the 1e OA book, Korobukuru are another Dwarven subrace, Hengeyokai would be completely new PC race, and so would the Spirit Folk.

I remember the 5e PHB does mention "Shou" as a Human ethnicity though it's more or less something that everyone labels anyone from Kara-Tur whether or not they're from Shou Lung, Tu Lung or the Island Kingdoms (the FR Philippines).

I don't think there's justification to release any of OA's classes as new classes in 5e, some have already been covered by subclasses released and some could be covered by new sub classes. They were considering at one point of having the Sohei as the psionic subclass of the Fighter, and Wu Jen was at one time considered to be a subclass of the Mystic before they abandoned that iteration of Psionics. But I could see the Sohei as being a Paladin subclass, and the Wu Jen being either a Wizard or Druid subclass.

Most overlook the Spirit Folk, though they sort of exist between being the "Elves" of the setting and being another form of Planetouched associated with the Spirit Realms or Feywild. One of the FR books of a vaguely Eastern European region even had "Slavic" Spirit Folk. So there's definitely precedence for Spirit Folk to exist outside an OA setting.

I feel the standard D&D races should be included in an Asian region, after all they have depicted non European Halflings at least, I remember one of the 3rd party campaign settings had "Punjabi" Gnomes in their art. I know FR has an India too, but I don't think it's considered part of the continent of Kara-Tur. But maybe India might get more attention if WotC decides to release the MtG setting Kaladesh (Magiteck India) as a D&D campaign setting in much of the same way they did with Ravnica.
 

jayoungr

Adventurer
I like Rokugan, and don't know much about Kara-Tur. But the fact that Rokugan doesn't (currently) have 5E support puts it at a disadvantage.
 
While I don't know anything about Dragon Empires, Kara-Tur and Rokugan each have some advantages and disadvantages.

Kara-Tur was originally supposed to be in Greyhawk (on the other side of the world), but was later merged into Realms because that was the most supported setting. This helps Kara-Tur, because you can have characters from Faerun explore it, giving you an outsiders (gaijin) perspective, allowing it to open up for the players as they travel. It has a lot more asian cultures represented, giving quite a variety. The biggest downside is that there really isn't much story here, except what the DM devises.

Rokugan was an IP long before it was a D&D product. It has a rich history and detailed culture that is focused on primarily medieval japan (i.e. samurai). Depending on the timeline used, there are many interesting and detailed characters to use for NPCs, as well as a fully detailed story that spans several decades. There are a ton of resources available due to the AEG rpg having 4 editions, with most books expanding cultural, political, and historical lore. The biggest downside to Rokugan is that it's no longer a WotC IP, so there will never be any support for it, which is bad because the shugenja is a combination of cleric/wizard (with a dash of druid), and would need a full new class to be used properly (not to mention the courtier classes, but that's less important IMO). To run Rokugan would require a lot of Homebrew, and I don't believe most people would find it to be worth the effort (even if I would).
I've done it already. I wrote a 5e conversion of Rokugan but I didn't share it on ENW because I wasn't sure if there are some IPR restrictions. PM me if you're interested.
 

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