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

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
One thing I never noticed at the time it came out, but really noticed after living in Korea for a few years, is that OA really missed the boat. There were plenty of great Korean references they could have used as classes, like the Hwarang.

And not just Korea, but plenty of other opportunities, like a horseman from Mongolia. The big failing of OA was how western culture viewed East Asia in the 80s. Everything was either samurai, Ninja, or king fu. And it was all stereotypical. No wonder many Asians like Daniel Kwan took offense to it.
 

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Mapper/Publisher
Weird fact - because metals are rare in Japan, farmers wove straw horseshoes for their horses, and they did that all day long, between farm chores, so when they went to market, they grabbed their bag of shoes, and every 4 miles or so, the shoes fell apart and a new set had to be put on. Now, not that it was an official imperial unit of measurement - every farmer knew it, and if you told a farmer it was 26 shoe changes to the capital, they know exactly how far that is...
 

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Mapper/Publisher
That's a Chinese word, yes, the Japanese used it, but their word for the same thing was Shinobi. Ninja is the Chinese pronunciation of the same kanji character for the same word. So the Chinese did have something kind of like a ninja. Chinese was kind of treated like Latin, the formal tongue for some things in Japan.

My Mom went on some of my Dad's work trips to China, and although she couldn't speak Chinese, she could read all the signage - it's the same thing as kanji characters.
 
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Mapper/Publisher
Yakuza, while definitely a Japanese organization - there were a population of Koreans in Japan from the feudal times forward, and a good amount of yakuza were actually Korean. The yakuza, while certainly a criminal syndicate, were the official representatives for the unguilded vendors and street peddlars, that lacked the protections that a "guilded" profession maintains. And they served as the police force inside the redlight/theater districts of urban areas - while samurai certainly enjoyed the entertainments, to serve as a police force for them - it was beneath them to do. The yakuza during every festival, rope pulled the huge taiko drums, and the shrine based "floats", something they did with honor. Because yakuza were considered "managers" of their districts, they were legally allowed to bear a single sword. The tatts, became a thing, because in feudal times, by Shogun decree, criminals were marked with a ring tattoo on their arms right above their elbows, each time they went to prison, so when looking for usual suspects, the samurai cops just pulled up their sleeves to find them. So the yakuza took their forced tattoos to the next level, and why it's their thing. But tatts worn by monks - no way, tattoos are waaay taboo in Japan, only yakuza wear them. I had a tattooist wizard archetype that served the yakuza.

Oh, and the finger cutting, self mutilation punishments forced onto problem yakuza members was about cutting off your pinkie, because your pinkie controls the movement of your sword, while the other fingers/thumb hold the sword - losing your pinkie, takes away combat effectiveness. You don't lose a second finger in your second "incident", though, they just kill you.

Yakuza meant "good for nothing", a losing hand in a card game with the result of 8, 9, 3 (ya ku za - 8, 9, 3 in one of the counting systems)

In modern Japan, their world famous tattoo artists aren't allowed to have public shops, they operate from home studios and are not allowed signage, business cards, websites - it's word of mouth, as well as how to find them. It's that taboo in Japan, still - and the same in Korea. American fascination with tattoos give the Japanese heebie geebies. You're not allowed to use a public bath house if you wear a tattoo. Yakuza use private ones.
 
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And not just Korea, but plenty of other opportunities, like a horseman from Mongolia. The big failing of OA was how western culture viewed East Asia in the 80s. Everything was either samurai, Ninja, or king fu. And it was all stereotypical.
yeah, I was always pretty sure the driving force behind OA was "you know, samurai and ninjas are pretty neat... let's make rules for them!"
 


Kara-Tur - Some Thoughts - Part 1 - Overview

besides my own thoughts, the one thing I really got a kick out of finding out is that in Thailand in the '80s pop culture was essentially eastern Transylvania.

You had these epic cities, but if you went into the countryside, it was teeming with ghosts and monsters.


The other area that I wished they did more is the Indonesia equivalent. The only real pop culture references that I learned as a kid were from the old superhero series Wild Cards. I'm still looking for decent sources to give it the proper treatment.
 

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Mapper/Publisher
I remember those - a floating head with entrails hanging beneath. Japanese had a kind of demon that were flying heads, screaming and laughing chasing victims down and driving them mad.
 

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Mapper/Publisher

The other area that I wished they did more is the Indonesia equivalent. The only real pop culture references that I learned as a kid were from the old superhero series Wild Cards. I'm still looking for decent sources to give it the proper treatment.
Awesome, I love ghosts - I developed with author/designer T. H. Gulliver, #30 Haunts for Kaidan, using the Pathfinder haunt mechanic - kind of magical trap with a Wisdom/Will Save since it's really undead/ghost related. I borrowed from classic Japanese ghost stories for many of the haunts.

And I wrote/designed Haiku of Horror: Autumn Moon Bath House, a one-shot module for varying levels (ghost comes in varying levels), that involves a ghost of a bath house attendant and a dangerous curse that transfers the anchor of the ghost from the bath house to the cursed individual so when it rejuvenates it appears whereever the cursed PCs are. Inspired by The Grudge movie. The curse is called the Ju-on (grudge) curse and shares the same name as the original Japanese title of the movie, the Grudge, and requires solving a murder mystery to lift the curse and lay the ghost to rest.
 
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Voadam

Legend
yeah, I was always pretty sure the driving force behind OA was "you know, samurai and ninjas are pretty neat... let's make rules for them!"
I think it started off as D&D has monks, and Kung Fu and Samurai movies are cool, we should do a whole East Asian/The Orient D&D sourcebook. Then they gave it to Cook to build into a whole hardcover size book so he dove into research and found a bunch on Japanese stuff and some stuff on martial arts and some monsters and some smaller stuff from other areas and so OA became a lot of Japanese and little bit of other East Asian cultures.

As I read them the three preface/introductions in the beginning portray it that way as the intent and history of OA's development.

It being the 80s with the big Japanese focus in western media this makes sense for the big samurai and ninja focus. Had it been the 70s there might have been more of a Bruce Lee influence type focus with maybe some more Chinese Ghost Story type fantasy elements.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
It being the 80s with the big Japanese focus in western media this makes sense for the big samurai and ninja focus. Had it been the 70s there might have been more of a Bruce Lee influence type focus with maybe some more Chinese Ghost Story type fantasy elements.
James Clavell's Shogun, novel and television mini-series came on in the late 70's, and though the Japanese hated it (because it's a true story and all the historic names were changed!?). I think that was great influence in the west for samurai, especially.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
For those who don't remember the 80s, this was considered a really cool movie back then, to put it in context. White guy gets lucky and learns from a ninja master (that trope was super common). This movie in particular was crazy odd because he's wearing white. How is that supposed to be camouflaged lol. Not a wannabe Stormshadow, cuz it came out before the GI Joe comic did.

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Voadam

Legend
James Clavell's Shogun, novel and television mini-series came on in the late 70's, and though the Japanese hated it (because it's a true story and all the historic names were changed!?). I think that was great influence in the west for samurai, especially.
1975 novel, 1980 TV miniseries. I agree it was big and influential.
 

Japan has a h
I remember those - a floating head with entrails hanging beneath. Japanese had a kind of demon that were flying heads, screaming and laughing chasing victims down and driving them mad.

Japan has a whole variety of unusual spirit beings known as yokai, right? It's often translated as 'demons' but they can be malevolent or benign. They have all kinds of off-the-wall stuff like the shirime, which has an eye in its butt, ashinaga and tenaga, men with super-long legs and super-long arms that work together to catch fish, the futakuchi-onna, a woman with tentacle hair, the boroboroton, an animate sleeping mat, and countless others.
 

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Mapper/Publisher
Japan has a h


Japan has a whole variety of unusual spirit beings known as yokai, right? It's often translated as 'demons' but they can be malevolent or benign. They have all kinds of off-the-wall stuff like the shirime, which has an eye in its butt, ashinaga and tenaga, men with super-long legs and super-long arms that work together to catch fish, the futakuchi-onna, a woman with tentacle hair, the boroboroton, an animate sleeping mat, and countless others.
Technically, "yokai" means "shape-changer", although a lot of Japanese folklore beings are lumped into that subtype, in Kaidan, I categorized them as animal-based shape-changers, which includes all animal based beings not just shape-changers. While some are literally a separate race of beings, often a yokai, like the futakuchi-onna is really a cursed human being - and it's her neck that stretches, not her hair. And because Japanese culture/history/folklore/religion, is so deep and vast, there's no way to include it all, so I left out the shirime and the really out of there, or perverse type beings - I didn't need that, and it might unnecessarily detract from the rest. I didn't have to, yet have a deep, deep nuanced setting.
 
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gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
For those who don't remember the 80s, this was considered a really cool movie back then, to put it in context. White guy gets lucky and learns from a ninja master (that trope was super common). This movie in particular was crazy odd because he's wearing white. How is that supposed to be camouflaged lol. Not a wannabe Stormshadow, cuz it came out before the GI Joe comic did.

View attachment 151804
Ninja NEVER wore that - that's a kabuki theater tradition that was carried forward. In reality, ninja dressed however the locals were dressed, so they didn't appear to be out of place, like any normal spy. However, the first time the ninja appeared in "entertainment" was during a Kabuki theater show, where the stage crew wore those black outfits. Since the stage has no "back stage" area, the crew carrying props used in the show wore these black, hidden faced garments so the audience knew, "don't pay attention to them, that's just crew - they are invisible". The spot lights and colorful outfits and makeup worn by Kabuki actors are where the audience is supposed to pay attention. In that showing with the ninja included. The main character is about to be slain, and one of the stage crew represents the ninja, pulls off his mask, unsheaths a sword and strikes the actor who falls - this was totally unexpected by the audience and they considered jaw-dropping. And ever since ninja are presented as wearing stage crew garments,. There is no truth to ninja wearing those ever. But in television, the Japanese audience recognizes the outfit as representing ninja, and that's where that came from...
 

Voadam

Legend
One thing I never noticed at the time it came out, but really noticed after living in Korea for a few years, is that OA really missed the boat. There were plenty of great Korean references they could have used as classes, like the Hwarang.
Any specifically Korean stuff you see in OA?
And not just Korea, but plenty of other opportunities, like a horseman from Mongolia. The big failing of OA was how western culture viewed East Asia in the 80s. Everything was either samurai, Ninja, or king fu.
Well Mongolian horsemen seemed one of the easiest things to ID in OA as the steppe nomad barbarians with horsemanship and archery abilities. The first subtype of the first class in OA.

OA page 15:

Steppeland barbarians: These barbarians are roving nomads, masters of the horse. Their preferred weapons are the light lance, horsebow, sword, and hand axe. Proficiencies they can choose from are horsemanship, long-distance signaling, outdoor craft, tracking, animal handling, weapon smith, armorer, bowyer, running, dancing, singing, weaving, tanning, sound imitation, survival, and chanting. These barbarians usually live in leather tents, following the movements of migratory herds. They raise small herds of cattle and sheep, but practice no other agriculture.
 

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Mapper/Publisher
Kara-Tur - Some Thoughts - Part 1 - Overview

besides my own thoughts, the one thing I really got a kick out of finding out is that in Thailand in the '80s pop culture was essentially eastern Transylvania.

You had these epic cities, but if you went into the countryside, it was teeming with ghosts and monsters.


The other area that I wished they did more is the Indonesia equivalent. The only real pop culture references that I learned as a kid were from the old superhero series Wild Cards. I'm still looking for decent sources to give it the proper treatment.
There is a "religion of ghosts" in Japan. Some powerful individuals in life, samurai lords, daimyo, court ministers, who encounter some great tragic death often killed over crimes they did not commit, and are said to become a kind of powerful vengeful ghosts that are the causes of volcanic eruptions, tsunami events and major earthquakes - so there is a great public need to quell the spirts of these vengefulness ghosts, and shrines are erected for them - located across the country. There's a large such shrine in central Tokyo.
 

There is a "religion of ghosts" in Japan. Some powerful individuals in life, samurai lords, daimyo, court ministers, who encounter some great tragic death often killed over crimes they did not commit, and are said to become a kind of powerful vengeful ghosts that are the causes of volcanic eruptions, tsunami events and major earthquakes - so there is a great public need to quell the spirts of these vengefulness ghosts, and shrines are erected for them - located across the country. There's a large such shrine in central Tokyo.

Indeed.

Lafcadio Hearn is to this what Bullfinch is to Greek Mythology.
 

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Mapper/Publisher
Indeed.

Lafcadio Hearn is to this what Bullfinch is to Greek Mythology.
Lafcadio Hearn's first story in this Kwaidan: strange occurrences collection of Japanese stories published in 1899, Mimi-Nashi Hoichi (Hoichi the Earless) was the inspiration story behind Kaidan. In that story a blind religious bard and biwa player visits a temple and is invited into a noble's gathering, but turns out to be a cemetery for the losing side in the Genpei War (he's blind and doesn't realize it). The story of the fall of the House of Taira in the final battle of the Genpei War - is the event that leads to the formation of Kaidan.

April 5, 1185, at the straits between the main island of Honshu and the island Kyushu is where the final battle of the Genpei War takes place, a naval engagement. The Taira had forces at the sea and on land, as well as the Minamoto. At first the tide was against the ships of the Minamoto, but then the tide changed and they had the advantage. One of the Taira generals on shore, turned himself in to the Minamoto and revealed that the Taira imperial house was aboard one particular ship and pointed out which one it was. So the forces of Minamoto showered arrows onto that ship killing all on deck. Running adrift the imperial house of Taira came up from below deck, and opted not to surrender, rather the boy-emperor's grandmother carried him in her arms (my invention here) she uttered "How terrible that the rightful emperor, Antoku, my 5 year old grandson is beaten by the barbarians of Minamoto. If the world were right, he and the royal house of Taira would rule forever." Then she leapt into the sea with Antoku in her arms, and the rest of the house followed them into the waves.

Emma-O, lord of Jigoku (Japanese hell) hears this delicious dark wish consummated by the suicide of an entire noble house, was too inviting, so he created Kaidan, to replace the Japan that the Taira once ruled. Although they drown, but are pulled from the sea and recovered in awaiting boats that take them to the shore, but it's not Japan. They are now ghosts trapped in Kaidan to rule it as their empire forever...

Kwaidan was Hearn's mispronunciation of the word, which should be Kaidan - which means "ghost story". It was part of 14th century ghost story telling game called "Hyakumo monogatari kaidan kai" which mean's "a collection of 100 ghost stories". As a test of mettle a dozen samurai participate. A circle of 100 candles are lit and the participants enter the circle. And each one, one at a time tells a ghost story or creepy tale, and at it's completion blow out a candle, each participant will tell multiple stories. Once all the candles are extinguished, it is said that a blue demon will visit and select one of the participants to take with her to Hell. (Kind of a Bloody Mary ritual). Often the samurai get freaked out and jump out the circle before the completion and they lose. The last one is the winner.
 
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