D&D 1E Non-Japanese Elements of 1e Oriental Adventures

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I Love this thread.

I don't have enough expertise to contribute meaningfully to the topic of what source materials are non-Japanese. But I can see how it would come across that the book treated Japanese culture as normalized while other Asian Cultures were 'othered' - especially given so many of the classes were Japanese inspired (even if that was more in a pop culture rather than historical kind of sense).
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Orius

Legend
I had never researched the origins of Wu Jens before and was not familiar with any terms for Chinese or Japanese spellcasters other than a translation to "sorcerer" and no real specific ethnic folklore/mythology/movie tropes that would match up to the Wu Jen.

I had assumed they were Japanese along with most of the rest of OA, interesting.

Thanks.
The wu jen is a hybrid of a few different things. In Dragon #229 (May 1996), Zeb Cook had an article which presented an updated wu jen for 2e. He explicitly stated that the class was "... originally a mix of Taoist hermits, Chinese sages, and the mountain hermits of Japan, among others." The wu jen sounds like what OA really should have been, a pan-Asian fusion fantasy rather than fantasy Japan with a collection of material from other Asian cultures awkwardly shoehorned in. At the very least, if you're going to have a dominant real world culture in a fantasy Asia, it should probably be Chinese rather than anything else, unless you're deliberately focusing on a particular culture.

Interestingly enough, the mountain hermits he mentioned as far as I can tell are the actual historical shugenjas while the shukenja of OA is a sort of generic Asian priest that seems mostly Buddhist but mixes in other elements, possibly stuff like onmyodo. And onmyodo might also be one of the "others" Cook mentioned. I can't really say for certain, since I only have a surface understanding of these cultural elements myself.
 

Voadam

Legend
The wu jen is a hybrid of a few different things. In Dragon #229 (May 1996), Zeb Cook had an article which presented an updated wu jen for 2e. He explicitly stated that the class was "... originally a mix of Taoist hermits, Chinese sages, and the mountain hermits of Japan, among others." The wu jen sounds like what OA really should have been, a pan-Asian fusion fantasy rather than fantasy Japan with a collection of material from other Asian cultures awkwardly shoehorned in. At the very least, if you're going to have a dominant real world culture in a fantasy Asia, it should probably be Chinese rather than anything else, unless you're deliberately focusing on a particular culture.

Interestingly enough, the mountain hermits he mentioned as far as I can tell are the actual historical shugenjas while the shukenja of OA is a sort of generic Asian priest that seems mostly Buddhist but mixes in other elements, possibly stuff like onmyodo. And onmyodo might also be one of the "others" Cook mentioned. I can't really say for certain, since I only have a surface understanding of these cultural elements myself.
Thanks for the reference, when I get some time I will pull out the Dragon CD to check out 229.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
One of the more interesting breakdowns is the base class distinctions.

"Japanese" Classes-
Bushi, Kensei, Ninja, Samurai, Shukenja, Sohei, Yakuza

Other-
Barbarians
Bolded part, you have the correct spelling, but in OA (every edition) they spelled it kensai, which is not even a Japanese word, and PF kept with it. Sword saint is kensei. Part of the "corrections" I included in my Kaidan setting of Japanese Horror (PFRPG). Plus Shugenja is a religious practice (Shugendo is the religion) and yamabushi were what they really were, and I made them half casters, somewhat like paladins, Bushi refers to the social caste, so fighter doesn't really have a named Japanese equivalent. I had yojimbo, those became a ranger archetype. (PF1), but would probably fit as fighter.

And apologies for not discussing not Japanese, but as much as an expert of Japanese as I am, I'm not that for any other Asian culture, I know about as much many, maybe more than some...
 
Last edited:

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
I Love this thread.

I don't have enough expertise to contribute meaningfully to the topic of what source materials are non-Japanese. But I can see how it would come across that the book treated Japanese culture as normalized while other Asian Cultures were 'othered' - especially given so many of the classes were Japanese inspired (even if that was more in a pop culture rather than historical kind of sense).

My best guess is they thought let's do a book where New Book:Asia:: D&D:Europe, and given that Japanese stuff was so big in the 70s and 80s (look at Neuromancer or You Only Live Twice) that was what stuck in their head, plus the boom in kung fu movies (which are Chinese).

Concerns about cultural appropriation only really start to take off in the 1990s if you believe Google ngrams, so it wouldn't have been on their radar. They probably went to the local library and did their best. Research used to be a lot harder before the Internet.
 


Voadam

Legend
Bolded part, you have the correct spelling, but in OA (every edition) they spelled it kensai, which is not even a Japanese word, and PF kept with it. Sword saint is kensei. Part of the "corrections" I included in my Kaidan setting of Japanese Horror (PFRPG). Plus Shugenja is a religious practice (Shugendo is the religion) and yamabushi were what they really were, and I made them half casters, somewhat like paladins, Bushi refers to the social caste, so fighter doesn't really have a named Japanese equivalent. I had yojimbo, those became a ranger archetype. (PF1), but would probably fit as fighter.

And apologies for not discussing not Japanese, but as much as an expert of Japanese as I am, I'm not that for any other Asian culture, I know about as much many, maybe more than some...
No apologies necessary. :)

Knowing Japanese elements can elucidate the negative space of other Asian elements and created items.

It puts you ahead of my background familiarity of TMNT, Usagi Yojimbo, and Lone Wolf and Cub.

Did anything strike you in OA as completely unfamiliar? Like Wu Jen or any specific weapons or monsters?

Narrowing down individual names for google searching instead of just check everything can be useful.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
Oh yeah, Wu Jen, I had big problems with. I have Onmyoji wizard archetype as my casters.

And of course the treatment of kappa, and many of the Japanese folklore monsters were waaay off, even Paizo version Japanese monsters are bad in my opinion. I went to 19th century and earlier sources, completely avoiding anime/manga and other 20th century renditions - I wanted as complete authenticity as I could muster.

Rather than retyping it all, all of my Kaidan class archetypes can be found under 3PP Rite Publishing on d20pfsrd.com
 
Last edited:

Sacrosanct

Legend
Oh yeah, Wu Jen, I had big problems with. I have Onmyoji wizard archetype as my casters.

And of course the treatment of kappa, and many of the Japanese folklore monsters were waaay off, even Paizo monsters are bad in my opinion. I went to 19th century and earlier sources, completely avoiding anime/manga and other 20th century renditions - I wanted as complete authenticity as I could muster.
Well, that would be true to form for DnD then, having the monster way off from original folklore lol.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top