Oriental Adventures, was it really that racist?

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
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Maybe. But, you seem to be discarding how context matters. It can be worse in some situations than others.

Imagine you have a recipe for... strawberry spaghetti. It is kind of nasty. However, it is even worse if you are serving it to someone you know is allergic to strawberries.

Again, that's a terrible analogy. The continued doubling-down on this incorrect point is not something that engenders trust with people discussing this. It's a version of, "Heads I win, tails you lose." No matter how incorrect something is, it's still correct because REASONS!

Comeliness had been previously introduced as a standard ability. It is no different that what was published in UA earlier. I mean ... no different (as I pointed out before, it's quite literally the exact same as the UA page). Just like, say, Wisdom (as I have already pointed out). If the youtubers had been ignorant of Wisdom as an ability score in D&D, and had made the point that the "Wise Asian" is a fraught stereotype, would you be defending that as well? That it should have been removed?

Or is that you instinctively know that this is ridiculous, because you know that the ability score is part of D&D, not particular to that setting?

It's the same here.
 

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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
It means anyone who suppresses information because of its content is definitionally engaging in censorship.
Ok, I can buy that definition.

So if I’ve composed the post that I’d really dearly love to write, and then think, “That will just get me permanently banned,” and delete it, and it’s gone forever, preventing Morrus from ever waxing eloquent in red text about its artistic merit…I’ve censored myself. I’ve engaged in censorship.

Yeah, I agree. I’ll retract my previous claims about the word’s narrower use.

Which means censorship doesn’t really have a negative meaning, either. So if WotC decides they don’t like the optics of selling bad content and so they stop selling it, they are censoring themselves, but that’s not definitionally a bad thing.

EDIT: Expressed another way, the word "censorship" (even more than "to censor") carries a negative connotation, which is evoked when we exclaim, "That's censorship!" But, as has been pointed out, the actual definition is much broader. It also covers benign cases such as, "I almost said the F-word in front of my kids, but censored myself."
 
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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
This comeliness debate reminds me of the word "niggardly". Sure, you can argue about the word's etymological roots, but it's still a dumb-@$$ move to use it, especially as a public figure. Similarly, we can argue about how comeliness pre-dated OA, but just the fact that TSR folks didn't think, "You know, rolling this new attribute out on a large scale in this particular book might not be the best idea" shows they weren't aware of the sensitivities involved. It was clueless, but (probably) not evil.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
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Ok, I can buy that definition.

So if I’ve composed the post that I’d really dearly love to write, and then think, “That will just get me permanently banned,” and delete it, and it’s gone forever, preventing Morrus from ever waxing eloquent in red text about its artistic merit…I’ve censored myself. I’ve engaged in censorship.

There's a phrase for this- it's called the "chilling effect." If you know that speech is likely to get censored, you are less likely to speak. In addition, because most censorship is imprecise, the chilling effect necessarily goes beyond what would actually be suppressed.


Yeah, I agree. I’ll retract my previous claims about the word’s narrower use.

Which means censorship doesn’t really have a negative meaning, either. So if WotC decides they don’t like the optics of selling bad content and so they stop selling it, they are censoring themselves, but that’s not a bad thing.

Words can have many connotations depending on use. Discriminating is usually bad, but a discriminating palate is usually a good thing.

Moderation is a form of censorship as you point out. Whether it's "good," or "bad," can depend on the circumstance.

Self-censorship can be terrible- for example, the chilling effect that we see with a lot of Hollywood productions vis-a-vis China.

Of course, many of us have long experiences (both within the hobby, and in general) with people that demand private entities not allow "bad content." The definition of that "bad content" has changed over time, but the impulse behind it hasn't.

I mean, it's pretty easy to see this repeated over time-
Which means censorship doesn’t really have a negative meaning, either. So if 7-11 decides they don’t like the optics of selling bad content and so they stop selling it, they are censoring themselves, but that’s not a bad thing. -The American Family Association.

We are all the heroes of our own stories. No one in the history of ever has thought, "I'm suppressing the good content!" And yet ... you either support the principles or you don't. I don't know that I'm right, but I know that I invoked this principle to defend things I believed in greatly, so I'm loathe to give it up.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
Similarly, we can argue about how comeliness pre-dated OA, but just the fact that TSR folks didn't think, "You know, rolling this new attribute out on a large scale in this particular book might not be the best idea" shows they weren't aware of the sensitivities involved. It was clueless, but (probably) not evil.

This is incorrect. One more time- It wasn't rolled out in OA.

The rollout for Player Characters occurred in UNEARTHED ARCANA. People discuss how it was referenced earlier, but the big rollout was UA, which came first.
 


GreyLord

Legend
I apologize if I offended anyone in this thread. It was not my intent..

I know the some Asian-American writers (and one in particular with the RPG community) currently. One has been rather interested in the debate.

Would you guys like me to encourage him to make an account and put him on so you can ask someone who is part of the Asian community his thoughts? (rather than me trying to relate them via him talking over my shoulder)?

I'm not sure if I could convince him however. He has been more than happy to read and comment, but he does not feel safe in creating an account here currently (and normally, most of his writing he does not reveal his ancestry either, he says it is a good way to ensure no one reads your stuff for some items).

Much of what I said in this thread was regurgitating what he was stating to me. It probably would be better if HE were the one saying it, but as I said, he does not feel confident he would be free to speak his mind (and I HAVE admittedly toned down some of his comments he said to me) on the matter without persecution.

It was NOT meant to be offensive to people though, and I apologize if it was.
 

In re: "Asians Represent" - if their complaint is grounded in total ignorance, it damages their credibility overall.

L5R only has the samurai and Noble castes being fish and fowl; the other castes eat red meats. From what histories I have read, that's fairly accurate, even in the highlands.

L5R also makes itself clear: Rokugan isn't Japan. D&D3.5 OA wasn't Rokugan, but included things needed for Rokugan, and for Kara Tur, and for several other things, but only clearly indicated the Rokugan elements. Half of OA isn't suitable for L5R.

It's also worth noting that Edge Studios (from Spain, IIRC) have announced they are doing a new D&D5E L5R setting book.
3.5 OA was bad as L5R, bad as D&D, bad as Kara Tur, and just not a good thing for anyone.


True, but the Chop Sockey genre was almost entirely Taiwaneese...
Most of the crime dramas were using Chinatown and Chinese theming instead of Japanese.

Japanese was being imported as a set of specific subgenres and Chinese was being filtered through the Westerns, the police procedurals, and the American Immigrant experience. Only one show comes to mind showing both the clash of immigrant values and home-nation values, and doing so with any sensitivity at all, in the 70's and 80's: Hawai'i Five-O. It also touched on Native Issues. In the 1960's, 1970's, and early 1980's.


Maus is excellent. But it's not suitable for elementary schools. There is, however, a noted sociopolitical stripe within the US that are holocaust deniers, amongst other things... So Maus is a problematic issue, because some of the voices for it think it's all lies; some thing



Sure feels like it.


When the critics are advocating for censorship, things get less cut and dried. I've seen critics calling for censorship IN THIS THREAD! One posted feels that the original and 3.5 OA shouldn't be available in PDF.

And, because of the factual issues brought up with the Asians Represent analysis of the Comeliness stat, as criticism goes, they've lost enough credibility that I won't be listening to anything they're saying. It indicates either a lack of research (it's easy to check that Comliness predates OA), or a desire to be offended, or perhaps even intellectual dishonesty. I don't know which, and don't care which.

Was OA a problem back in the day? Yes, but IMO, not for the racism. It was bad mostly because it was cumbersome to use in play. The Honor system was a bookkeeping nightmare. As was the Face system. AD&D Non-Weapon Proficiencies were an option in AD&D1, but strongly encouraged after UA, and almost mandatory in OA. This annoyed a lot of DMs. The book was mechanically divisive BITD; that the setting was insensitive? Most were. Most still are.

Fundamentally, if your game incorporates any culture other than the present day of your places of residence and/or upbringing, you're going to be using tropes and stereotypes. RPGs are not a cure for systemic racism; they're not even big enough a market for anyone to really pay attention to outside the RPG market. D&D is maskable in a rounding error for HasBro, even if D&D is a significant minority of WotC's income. And they are, at best, schematic and/or trophic in their coverage of any culture.

I make no bones about it: I love several cultural appropriation games: L5R, Feng Shui, Warhammer FRP, Blood & Honor, Elf Quest, Pendragon...
I don't think any were done with intent to offend; I do know that some find them offensive.
If Nyambe had used a better engine, I'd have given it a shot... but it stayed too stock D&D 3.x...
I have seen very little, almost no, calls for OA to be removed from the market in this thread. Anyway, its not usually a good idea to tar everyone with a view different from yours with the viewpoint that is most extreme. I don't think the overall feeling here is even really that critical of OA or of WotC. As for dismissing Asians Present, eh... I think you may be overreacting here. From what I have seen, it is not intending to present itself as a factual analysis done in a scholarly manner. Its simply some people going off on a topic they consider relevant to themselves. Sometimes they say things that are a bit inaccurate. I think that SOMETIMES that might point to specifics that they're just wrong about, like Comeliness (and look, I misremembered it being in D&DG, does that make everything I have to say in this thread invalid?).

I don't think its wrong to love games that maybe were not squeaky clean in terms of appropriating or misrepresenting some aspect of culture, being sexist, etc. There's no law that says good isn't mixed with bad!

One of the key ways to look at these sorts of issues IS from the perspective of people from a culture (or other group) that is being depicted. A real, genuine, issue that I have witnessed in all its glory is the effects of the constant negative/mis portrayal of some group in the lives of its members. Its like, they sit down at a table to play some D&D with their friends, and what do they find? The same nasty BS that got thrown in their face at work! Yeah, it isn't, maybe in either case, actively malicious, but it sure does spoil the mood! Nobody wants to have to deal with it in their recreation of all places. But yes, its complicated, and messy, and its not wrong to want them to not get in your face about what you do with YOUR leisure time either. On the THIRD HAND, why should they be happy about the perpetuation of negative stereotypes about them? See, no black and white, at all. Very very messy.
 

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