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

Sacrosanct

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.

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.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

gamerprinter

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...
 

gamerprinter

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.
 
Last edited:

gamerprinter

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.
 
Last edited:

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.
 

gamerprinter

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.
 

gamerprinter

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.
 
Last edited:

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.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top