Oriental Adventures, was it really that racist?

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Probably. But as it gets used in todays climate? No. I am not a fan of how deplatforming and cancel culture tend to get applied (which is usually to exaggerate a person's offense, pressure a platform to remove them, and tar anyone who even likes, agrees, or defends them with the same). I don't support social ostracization, and I don't support taking away a person's livelihood (especially given how dangerous it can be for a person in a country with a weak social safety net). I am not going to say never because I can imagine scenarios where someone is using a platform to stalk someone, or engineer violence against a person. But as I've seen it used in the hobby, on twitter, etc? I think it brings out the worst in us, makes us more tribal and weakens our ability to engage one another.

Agreed. I've posted this video before, but Lindsay Ellis' harassment is a good example of how our tendency to jump to judgement of not only content, but the people making said content can be substantially harmful. It's worth noting that while she says she's fine in that video, after 6 more months of constant harassment, she quit, going so far as to say she regretted ever making anything at all.

Making purchasing, reading and viewing decisions based on your own standards and sense of ethics or morals is something we all can and should do on a daily basis where possible. But we should be cautious of joining a mob, be it physical or online, because the mob is neither ethical, nor moral. The mob is momentum, and once it gets going, it often hurts those vulnerable to being hurt more than it does people deserving of censure. And when those people get hurt, everyone who played a part in building that momentum earns at least a small part of the blame.
 

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I find this a cynical way of approaching the world and other people. I do think, if your intent is misconstrued or misinterpreted in a given situation, there's a natural impulse to attempt to explain. But again, intent is hardly relevant; whatever I intended, if I hurt someone I ought to apologize and maybe learn to be more careful about such things.

But to approach every person's declaration of pain with skepticism at whether they are "faking it" or not is absolutely bleak to me, and unfair to humanity writ large

I didn't say approach every declaration of hurt or pain with skepticism. In fact, I think if you've paid close attention to my words, I am have emphasized being empathic and caring about peoples pain. But if you do have to use your judgement in the world. People can lie, people can be wrong, people can misread things, they can be overly sensitive, people can exaggerate things, people can offer up an easy answer sometimes. When you disagree with someone's assessment of media, which is what we are doing here (even if that assessment is they think it is hurtful) then you should disagree if that is your honest opinion.

And in the toe example, I was saying if they over react (like by punching you in the face) you should be able to say something. Or if they were to try to seek damages (and you genuinely thought they were lying) you ought to challenge it. If you stepped on someone's toe and they are clearly in pain, off course, you ought to apologize.

But this isn't about stepping on someone's toe. It is about a piece of media and there is a lot of subjective judgment in evaluating it for the kinds of problems people are talking about.
 

Hussar

Legend
The poverty level for blacks in the U.S. in 2019 was 21.2%. The poverty levels for whites in Harlan KY was 30.7%. Is being white from Harlan KY worse than being black in the U.S. When it comes to poverty the statistics suggest yes.


Statistically being black in the U.S. makes you less likely to be in poverty than if you are white and from Harlan KY.
Umm, the population of Harlan KY is just shy of 1500 people. There are just shy of 42 million African American people in the US. Perhaps your statistics don't really say what you think they say.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Umm, the population of Harlan KY is just shy of 1500 people. There are just shy of 42 million African American people in the US. Perhaps your statistics don't really say what you think they say.
Harlan KY, the county has over 25,000 people.
 

I don't see why not; I've given an example of someone who used it to strike at writers twice now. And that's what I've been talking about, how chilling this can become and how it can end up easily instead of just stopping racist or appropriational material, it ends up creating a climate where people will simply steer clear of the topics entirely. People have dismissed that when it comes up, and I think they're being way too blithe.

Yeah, and how is that happening with WOTC? Like, part of the brigading situation is that the individual is being attacked by a mass. I don't see that happening to WOTC here.

Yes.

Why wouldn't I? The comparison clearly shows that whites from high poverty areas in the country experience more poverty than blacks from low poverty areas. That seems a pretty important point if we are going to talk white privilege.

No, it doesn't. The point of "white privilege" is that you don't have to deal with certain things that other people have to do regardless of their poverty level. You've completely sailed past the point of the phrase in your attempt to concern-troll.

Sure, and there's important information to be gleaned from that comparison as well. But that's not the only valid comparison.

I mean, I would disagree because in not comparing statistics on the same scale you completely distort the actual meaning of the numbers.

See, you get how this works ;)

A better point for you is that 46.8% of blacks in Harlan KY are in poverty. Which is quite a bit higher than that of the white population of Harlan KY.

I think we can acknowledge both points - that blacks on average experience higher poverty when compared to whites from the same locations and that whites in some locations experience much higher poverty than blacks from other locations. Do you agree with this? If so what does that mean to you in relation to white privelege?

I think we can acknowledge that comparing poverty rates misses that there are problems and hurdles that minorities have to deal with that white people of all stations generally don't, which is why it's called "white privilege", though to your point it's pretty clear that, like @Bill Zebub said, that "white privilege" obviously has economic effects as well.
 


Dire Bare

Legend
You know . . . I think I'm done with this thread. As seems to be the case each time these types of discussions come up, a handful of folks go through all sorts of mental gymnastics to try and lessen the harm of the sexist and racist elements of D&D's development, history, and current form.

Is Oriental Adventures racist? Yes. It wasn't intended to be, and it's not the worst thing out there . . . but, yes.

Is Oriental Adventures relevant anymore? Situationally, yes. Not as a supplement to a game anyone is playing anymore (AD&D 1E), but as a springboard into discussing the continuing problems D&D has with race and culture.

Is there a mob out there brigading or canceling those involved with publishing Oriental Adventures back in 1988? Or even later products in the line (2001's Oriental Adventures 3E)? No. Nada. Zilch.

Are the complaints about Oriental Adventures from Asian-gamer voices "chilling" non-Asian authors who want to include Asian cultural content in their products? Nope. Nada. Zilch.

Are Asian-gamer voices, and their non-Asian allies, simply asking for awareness and for us to do better as a community? Both at our tables and in new products? Yes.

Do the Asian-gamer panelists of the podcast Asians Represent, well, represent all Asian voices on this subject? No, not that anyone was claiming it to be so. But we should listen to their voices, and those of other Asian-gamers.

Does it matter than the Comeliness score was first introduced to AD&D in Unearthed Arcana, a few months before appearing in Oriental Adventures? Do the Asian-gamers who see this as problematic make a mistake? No. Also doesn't matter than other games include "honor" systems as well.

If you purchased Oriental Adventures back in the day, used it in your games, and truly enjoyed the book and what it brought to your game table . . . are you a terrible racist person who should feel guilt over this? Of course not. But hopefully you'll listen to the voices of Asian-descent gamers in our community and try to do better at your tables than we did back in 1988.
 

Agreed. I've posted this video before, but Lindsay Ellis' harassment is a good example of how our tendency to jump to judgement of not only content, but the people making said content can be substantially harmful. It's worth noting that while she says she's fine in that video, after 6 more months of constant harassment, she quit, going so far as to say she regretted ever making anything at all.

I'd like to make note that with Lindsey that she had plenty of enemies and that her harassment was beyond just a "cancelling" and largely everyone who had sharpened knives for her coming out at that moment because they could. I know you brought this up before and I do agree it's a good example... but it's also got a whole lot of things going on and is more complicated, which is why it ended up being such a firestorm and so "successful".

You know . . . I think I'm done with this thread. As seems to be the case each time these types of discussions come up, a handful of folks go through all sorts of mental gymnastics to try and lessen the harm of the sexist and racist elements of D&D's development, history, and current form.

Some people are more interested in trying to question the questions rather than looking at answers. That's how it is.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Really, really doesn't change the point.
Hussar, the size of the total population of either group doesn't impact a statistical discussion on liklihoods based on being a member in either group.

In fact, you've now completely derailed your own point by providing information that people IN THE SAME AREA are more disadvantaged due to race.
Not at all. My point never depended on that. Which is part of why you see me freely acknowledging it. My point was that certain groups of white people are worse off than certain groups of black people. This fact is relevant in the discussion of white privilege. Why? Because it shows that many blacks are substantially more privileged (at least economically) than certain geographical groups of whites. Being in severe poverty affects pretty much everything in your life and is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome - as has been stated by others.

I'm really, really not sure what you're trying to prove here.
That might have been a good thing to lead with ;)
 

I'd like to make note that with Lindsey that she had plenty of enemies and that her harassment was beyond just a "cancelling" and largely everyone who had sharpened knives for her coming out at that moment because they could. I know you brought this up before and I do agree it's a good example... but it's also got a whole lot of things going on and is more complicated, which is why it ended up being such a firestorm and so "successful".

True, but I also don't think that's a unique situation. Most people that put themselves out there are going to have their detractors (putting it very mildly) looking for an opportunity, and of many of those who do, it's often going to be because of who they are rather than what they do. The same kind of people who drove Near (the author of the Higan emulator) to suicide will gladly latch onto other online mobs who have found a mutually "acceptable" target even if it's for completely opposite reasons. It's why I'm generally averse to joining my voice to any discussion that has a person as its target, even if the ostensible reason behind it is benign or in line with my own opinions. Too many opportunities for it to turn ugly.

Which, admittedly, isn't really the thing going on with this specific topic, so I guess treat that like the tangent it is.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Why wouldn't I? The comparison clearly shows that whites from high poverty areas in the country experience more poverty than blacks from low poverty areas. That seems a pretty important point if we are going to talk white privilege.

This reminds me of the time I got stopped in what I thought was a drunk driving roadblock, but was actually a seatbelt check roadblock, and I wasn't wearing my seatbelt. Since he asked why I wasn't wearing it, I explained that I lived about 150 yards away, and I was about to get on the highway on-ramp in another 50 yards, and that I habitually buckle up while going down the ramp. He said, "90% of all accidents happen within a mile of the home." I responded, "Ok, but what overall percentage of driving happens within a mile of the home?" He looked puzzled, so I said, "The first statistic is not relevant without the second statistic."

Actually, that anecdote is relevant to this conversation in two ways. One, because this is what happens when we don't teach statistics in schools. Two, after I basically insulted the cop's intelligence, he gave me a ticket and let me go.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
You know . . . I think I'm done with this thread. As seems to be the case each time these types of discussions come up, a handful of folks go through all sorts of mental gymnastics to try and lessen the harm of the sexist and racist elements of D&D's development, history, and current form.

Yup, I'm getting there myself.

If the goal of all this sophistry is to avoid having to address problems, then we're just feeding it by trying to engage.
 

True, but I also don't think that's a unique situation. Most people that put themselves out there are going to have their detractors (putting it very mildly) looking for an opportunity, and of many of those who do, it's often going to be because of who they are rather than what they do. The same kind of people who drove Near (the author of the Higan emulator) to suicide will gladly latch onto other online mobs who have found a mutually "acceptable" target even if it's for completely opposite reasons. It's why I'm generally averse to joining my voice to any discussion that has a person as its target, even if the ostensible reason behind it is benign or in line with my own opinions. Too many opportunities for it to turn ugly.

Which, admittedly, isn't really the thing going on with this specific topic, so I guess treat that like the tangent it is.

Sure, but I think when we talk about RPGs and this sort of thing, we need to be more specific.

With Lindsey she had a big following, was in the middle of several messy situations between former colleagues and was hated by the right and certain parts of the left. When her whole moment happened, it was not about the moment itself but more that so many people were just waiting to pounce. I'm not sure that's really applicable to anything that's been discussed on this board. Similarly with Near, they were driven to suicide by concerted and constant online harassment... which, again, I don't think is comparable here (nor do I really count as cancelling here). But you basically admit that, so good on you.

I think my problem is that we should be pretty specific when we talk about "cancelling" and harassment in this regard. Like, I remember some people not liking the recent Critical Role opening and I'll say that I didn't see much harassment of Critical Role, but I did see a whole bunch of it happening to the people who brought it up. It's just way more common in my experience to see fans instinctively attack criticism (especially from a social justice bent) than creators.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
This reminds me of the time I got stopped in what I thought was a drunk driving roadblock, but was actually a seatbelt check roadblock, and I wasn't wearing my seatbelt. Since he asked why I wasn't wearing it, I explained that I lived about 150 yards away, and I was about to get on the highway on-ramp in another 50 yards, and that I habitually buckle up while going down the ramp. He said, "90% of all accidents happen within a mile of the home." I responded, "Ok, but what overall percentage of driving happens within a mile of the home?" He looked puzzled, so I said, "The first statistic is not relevant without the second statistic."

Actually, that anecdote is relevant to this conversation in two ways. One, because this is what happens when we don't teach statistics in schools. Two, after I basically insulted the cop's intelligence, he gave me a ticket and let me go.
Now that you are done implying that my statistics are somehow wrong - maybe you should think about stating where they are wrong?
 


MGibster

Legend
If the goal of all this sophistry is to avoid having to address problems, then we're just feeding it by trying to engage.
Here's the thing, there's near universal agreement in this thread that OA is problematic. The majority of this thread's participants would not want a new version of OA published that did not address the issues from 1985. If all you want to do is make sure the same mistakes aren't repeated, well, great, I think almost everyone here is onboard with that starting with the name of the product itself.
 

MGibster

Legend
Actually, that anecdote is relevant to this conversation in two ways. One, because this is what happens when we don't teach statistics in schools. Two, after I basically insulted the cop's intelligence, he gave me a ticket and let me go.
As a married man, I learned that this is called winning the argument but losing the fight.
 

Now that you are done implying that my statistics are somehow wrong - maybe you should think about stating where they are wrong?

Uh, they never implied that your statistics are wrong. They're just saying what I and others said: that your use of them is misleading because they obscure actual comparable things. That's the point of him saying "The first isn't relevant without the second".

Here's the thing, there's near universal agreement in this thread that OA is problematic. The majority of this thread's participants would not want a new version of OA published that did not address the issues from 1985. If all you want to do is make sure the same mistakes aren't repeated, well, great, I think almost everyone here is onboard with that starting with the name of the product itself.

While I would like your premise to be true, there are people within the last two pages who have literally disputed it, which is why we're talking about sophistry.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Now that you are done implying that my statistics are somehow wrong - maybe you should think about stating where they are wrong?

Not wrong in the sense that your one number is wrong (I don't know what the number is, but I have no reason to not believe you.)

Wrong in the sense that it's not saying anything relevant to this discussion. I almost wrote, "not what you think it's saying" but realized you may not be trying to say what I think you're trying to say. But even if you're trying to say something else, your single datum has no useful relevance. It is totally not surprising that if you take increasingly small samples of demographic data eventually you will find anomalous clusters.

In fact, this is exactly what led to the "powerlines cause cancer" scare of the....70's? If you look long enough, you'll find clusters of cancer cases that happen to be near high tension power lines. You'll also find clusters of cancer cases near fishing ponds. Or near gaming stores! Or near just about anything else you care to search for.

It doesn't mean anything.
 

MGibster

Legend
While I would like your premise to be true, there are people within the last two page who have literally disputed it, which is why we're talking about sophistry.
Near universal doesn't mean universal. Look, I'm an apologist for OA because I think it has a place in the history of the game and there's value in keeping it available for those who are interested in buying it, but even I wouldn't want to see WotC remake it without addressing the many valid criticisms that have been brought up in this and previous threads.
 

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