D&D General "Red Orc" American Indians and "Yellow Orc" Mongolians in D&D


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These are problematic facets in GAZ10: (Note: "PG" refers to the Players' Guide; "DMG" refers to the DM's Booklet.)

#1: The racial slur "yellow" is used to refer to fantasy Asian human beings.

"Akkila-Khan went past the mountains and found King Loark. Together, they ravaged the yellow mens' steppes." PG, p.1

"Yellow Loonies" -label from "The World According to Orcs" map

Both of these "yellow" terms are referring to the Mongolian-inspired human beings of Ethengar. Though spoken from a "stupid/comedic" orcish perspective, they're still racial slurs.

We could look in a 1988 Merriam-Webster dictionary to see whether "yellow man" is considered offensive or not.

***
Imagine if Akkila-Khan and Loark had instead ravaged the African-inspired Serpent Peninsula, and the text had said:

"Together, they ravaged the n*ggers' jungle."

Or imagine of the "The World According to Orcs" map had included the Serpent Peninsula, which had been labeled: "N*gger Loonies."

That would be a problem; it would not be a "funny" thing which could be "explained away" by saying that the orcs are just stupid.

Please understand that the epithets "yellow man" (and "red man") are commensurate with the n-word.

#2: Misappropriation of "gris-gris", from the Vodun culture of West Africa. "Then his gri-gri fell into the water and drifted slowly south. The tribe followed." Players' Guide, p.2

"The goblin drops his gri-gri, trinkets, fetiches, and baubles, and drops to the ground. [...] With a final rattle of his gri-gri, the goblin closes his bulging eyes and passes out." -DMB, p.8

See: Gris-gris (talisman) - Wikipedia

Clarifying note: I'm not enough of a cultural expert in Vodun culture to discern whether the term "gris-gris" could be respectfully adapted for use in a fantasy work; yet the context of this usage in GAZ10 is buffoonish and comedic, which is problematic.

#3: The use of the term "yellow orc" and "Yellow Orkia" to refer to an East Asian (Mongolian/Chinese/Tibetan/Bhutanese)-inspired orcish culture. The basis for the term "yellow orc" is clearly "yellow man", which is an offensive racial slur in present-day English.

See: yellow man - Wiktionary

Quotes:
"Akkila-Khan's son's parted and formed two tribes: Hobgobland and Yellow Orkia, on the east side of the Broken Lands." PG, p.2

"Yellow Orkia
[...] It is ruled by Moghul-Khan, orcish rival of Hutai-Khan the Hobgoblin."
PG, p.12

"Moghul-Khan is the head of an eleven-horde strong army. Each is commanded by a high level yellow orc[.]" PG, p.13

Note the Mongolian cultural motifs ("moghul, khan, horde") in connection with the yellow orcs.

The army of Yellow Orkia includes an "orientalis" subspecies of goblin:

"Storm Raiders: [...] 60 goblins of the orientalis sort[.]"
"Seven Warlords: [...] 40
orientalis goblins[.]"
"Moghul's Guards: [...] 40
orientalis goblins[.]" PG, p.13

"Goblinus Oriensis: Yellow skin. [...] Often wear [...] large, round, slightly conical hats. Ethengarian* nomads essentially." PG, p.18

*Explanatory note: Ethengarian humans are the primary Mongolian analogue in the Known World of Mystara.

"Yellow Orkians [...] worship Karaash whom they call Hong-Tzu[.] Wogar is also worshipped here as Wong-Ah." PG, p.13

Note: the Yellow Orcs refer to their Immortals with Chinese-style names.

"Yellow Orc:
"Another sub-race of the orcs, identifiable by their dull yellow hides. Some come with ugly rat or pekingese* faces."
PG, p.31

*Note: "pekingese" is a breed of dog which originated in China. The breed is named after the Chinese capital city of Peking, now known as Beijing.
See: Pekingese - Wikipedia

"Orcus Canis Oriensis [=Eastern Dog Orc]: [...] Pekingese face. Favor mismatched pieces of oriental armor[.] Nomads of the vast Ethengarian* steppes, and Yellow Orkia[.]" PG, p.31

*Note: the Ethengarian steppes are an analog of the Mongolian steppes.

"Traditional Humanoid Skills: [...]
"Yellow Orc: Martial Arts"
PG, p.34

"Naming Your Character:[...]
"Ethengarian Origins:
"These names are often found in Yellow Orkian and Hobgobland Tribes.
Names with a vaguely Mongol ring will do fine here.
"Adja, Adjumuk, Akkila, Altai, Altan, Bajan'uul, Barzoi, Bator, Bulgan, Buzuk, Chumbar, Daiga, Davasuren, Dzagad'hai, Dzubokai, Dzulagazai, Dzuunbulag, Gandgiz, Gegyai*, Gogol, Gunjiz, Gurvan'char, Gyangze*, Gyarduk, Hargul, Hutai, Jamsuren, Jigme** , Kai, Kai-bataar, Kailar, Kazukh, Khampa*, Kitar, Kublai, Lhaze*, Mangpo, Mugluk, Mugul, Muludzin, Namgyal*, Ngarang, Norbor, Olodzin, Oyun, Paryang, Sagyar, Sukhe, Talai, Tzeluk, Tsomo, Udbal, Ulaantar, Ulgarai, Ulmuk'hai, Urumdul, Uzuk, Wu'hai+, Xigaze*, Yagrai, Yarlung*, Zhongbai.+" -
PG, p.41

*Note: some of the names are Tibetan in origin; for example:
Gegyai: Gê'gyai County - Wikipedia
Gyangze: Gyantse - Wikipedia
Khampa: Khampa - Wikipedia
Lhaze: Lhatse County - Wikipedia
Namgyal: Namgyal - Wikipedia
Xigaze: Shigatse - Wikipedia
Yarlung: Yarlung - Wikipedia

**Jigme appears to be of Dzonkha (Bhutanese) origin. Many Bhutanese historical figures are named "Jigme", for example: Jigme Chhoeda - Wikipedia

+Some names appear to be of Chinese origin:
Wuhai is the Chinese name for a city in Inner Mongolia, China: Wuhai - Wikipedia
Zhongbai

"Yellow Orkians and Hobgolanders call their horde chiefs 'Khan,' and their tribal chief 'Aga Khan. In a conversation, they simply add '-Khan' after the chief's name." -PG, p.41

See: Aga Khan - Wikipedia

Hobgobland is also a Mongolian-themed culture. Of the Khan of Hobgobland, it is said:

"Hutai is a middle-aged hobgoblin with Asian features." -DMB, p.12

Of the Khan of Yellow Orkia, it is said:

"[Ethengarian] nomads he has been stalking in the past years call him the Yellow Demon[.]" -DMB, p.14

Here's the illustration of Mogul-Khan from GAZ10's Orc Wars! boardgame:



Note: This character specifically has a yellow-colored playing piece to match his "yellow orc" identity; whereas other playing pieces are of other colors (purple, blue, green).

#4: Misappropriation of the honored Lakota leader Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake "Sitting Bull", in the form of "Big Chief Sitting Drool."

See: Sitting Bull - Wikipedia

Quotes:
"Among the greatest chiefs were Queen Udbala and Big Chief Sitting Drool. [...] Later Big Chief Sitting Drool united the tribes again. A new menace was rising to the south. Humans built a city at the gates of our sacred lands, surely a menace to our tribes. Sitting Drool besieged the city, ransacked it, took many slaves, and massacred human armies that followed him into the hills. These were great years.

"Later he was captured, but humans could not keep him long. They let him go for a small price: a few slaves. They had a treacherous plan. He was assassinated by human adventurers shortly after his departure, a deed they will pay for."
PG, p.2

Note: In real life, Sitting Bull was "captured" by U.S. forces multiple times, and interned as a prisoner of war. The final U.S. plan to "capture" Sitting Bull resulted in his assassination.

Chronology:
"500 AC: Big Chief Sitting Drool unites Broken Lands."
"523 AC: Big Chief Sitting Drool ransacks Corunglain."
"525 AC: Third Punitive Expedition from Glantri and Darokin. Sitting Drool brought back in chains."
"526 AC: Sitting Drool traded for slaves and gold[.]"
"527 AC: Adventurers assassinate Sitting Drool."

-DMB p.4

#5: The use of the term "red orc" and "Red Orcland" to refer to an American Indian-inspired orcish culture. The basis for the term "red orc" is clearly "red man" or "redskin", both of which are offensive racial slurs in present-day English:

See:

Quotes:
"Red Orcland:
[...] Orclanders are similar to Atruaghin Clans*, wearing feathers on their heads, and fighting with arrows and hatchets."
PG, p.10

"The old Atruaghin* faith of the Orclanders has been supplanted by other races' religions after being invaded several times after the fall of Sitting Drool." PG, p.11

*Explanatory note: the humans of the Atruaghin Clans are Known World of Mystara's main Indigenous North American cultural analog.

The Red Orcland army is equipped with American Indian style weaponry:

"War Hordes: [...] 75 orcs with bows and axes [...] 30 goblins with hatchets [.]" PG, p.10

"Red Orc:
"This is a sub-race of the orcs, recognizable by their generally red hides and simian features."
p.18

Note the term "red hides," which is similar to "redskins." The "Oriental Goblins" (see above) are likewise said to have "yellow skin" and the "Yellow Orcs" are said to have "yellow hides."

"Orcus Rubeus Vulgaris [=Common Red Orc] [...] Simian features emulating many of the various monkey faces found in nature. [...] Southern Red Orcland natives[.]" p.31

"Orcus Simius Terribilis [=Terrible Simian Orc] Natives of northern Red Orcland[.]" -PG, p.31

There's also an American Indian-themed kobold sub-race:

"Canis Minor Numerus [=Small Number Dogs] [...] Often wear war paints and colorful plumes on their heads as tribal markings. Nomadic culture native of Atruaghin." -PG, p.18

"Traditional Humanoid Skills: [...]
"Red Orc: Outdoor Stealth" -
PG, p.34

"Naming Your Character: [...]
"Atruaghin Origins:
"These names are more commonly used by Red Orcland hordes. Red orcs are usually named according to circumstances at their birth. They sound more like American Indian names, although cruder and certainly grosser as befits orcs:

Bag-Cheek, Bone-Fist, Black-Blood, Broken-Fang, Cave-Hop, Dirt-Ball, Double-Tongue, Fat-Pot, Flat-Skull, Flat-Foot, Flea-Bag, Fork-Chin, Gloom-Mud, Crim-Claw, Gut-Worm, Hare-Snout, Iron-Butt, Little-Big-Snout*, Muck-Bag, Nose-Pick, One-Eye, Ooze-Lip, Pimple-Drip, Pus-Pop, Rattle-Bone, Red-Eye, Red-Hand, Red-Stone, Rot-Finger, Scare-Belly, Scar-Snout, Sitting-Drool*, Skunk-Hide, Slime-Tongue, Stale-Water, Stink-Puff, Stomp-Foot, Stutter-Bug, Two-Feathers, Wart-Bag, Wolf-Head, Wood-Hand, Yellow-Dust, Yawning-Bear, Zorn-Breath.
"Red Orclanders call their tribal chief 'Big Chief.'"
PG, p.41

*Note: "Little-Big-Snout" is an appropriation of "Little Bighorn", a sacred site: Battle of the Little Bighorn - Wikipedia. The name "Little Bighorn" is a translation of an Apsáalooke (Crow) name for the Little Bighorn River: Iisaxpúatahcheeaashiakaate "Little Bighorn (Sheep) River."
"Sitting-Drool" is an appropriation of Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake "Sitting Bull."

Hool is the Big Chief of Red Orcland:
"Hool: Supreme of Orcland:
"Hool is a tall Orcus Simius Terribilis [Terrible Simian Orc] with long, red, shaggy hair which he wears braided with feathers. A magical headband +2, stolen from an Atruaghin brave, improves his Armor Class and Saving Throws[.] [...] Hool is easy to recognize with his facial paints (his face is black from the eyes up). When needed, Hool will use an ornately carved hatchet to fight[.]"
-DMB, p.12

Here's the illustration of Hool, from GAZ10's Orc Wars! boardgame:



Note the mohawk, feathered headband, hatchet, and American Indian-style breastplate. And, this character has a red-colored playing piece to match his "red orc" identity.

#6: A "notorious" misappropriation of the name of the Nakota (Assiniboine/Stoney) nation.

"A deserted plateau called Nakota's Grave, covers central Red Orcland between two mountain ranges. Nakota's Grave is notorious for being the red orcs' sacred burial grounds[.]" PG, p.10

See: Nakota - Wikipedia

#7: Insensitive reference to the phrase: "The Only Good Indian Is a Dead Indian".

For a scholarly study of this "proverb", see: "The Only Good Indian Is a Dead Indian": History and Meaning of a Proverbial Stereotype on JSTOR

Quote:
"The golden rule: A Good Orc is a Dead Orc." PG, p.30 (spoken by a human caravan guard)
 
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This should be interesting...

I've done some pseudo-earth campaigns in the past, but I'm much more hesitant to do so today...
It's easy enough to do, but I would recommend a few things.

  • If not using all humans, focus more on 'races' that can sort of be slotted in and don't require adding whole cultures. Eg Genasi, Changelings, Half-elves that are half fey.
  • Never use a real world culture slot as a place to bring in non-human races en masse. Eg. Do not not decide that in this Pseudo Earth Steppe nomads are Orcs. In some cases you can take broad cultural slots and add in some non-humans. Eg, while you should not make all steppe nomads Orcs, you could have some groups of steppe nomads that are Orcs or Centaurs (Historically there were very many different steppe nomad peoples, so adding in some extra ones should be fine - although if the Orcs ones are the only ones that PCs interact with then it's basically the same as having made them all Orcs).
  • Be aware that the things that get you into trouble the most are the 'pulp' things. The modern (as in 19th century and beyond) popular culture representations and tropes. (If you go to actual history books - that aren't too outdated - you are less likely to get into trouble).
  • Be very careful about things that end up looking like anti-semitism - this is very easy to do in a pseudo Earth. It's funny how this works structurally, but the moment you start adding an outgroup to pseudo-medieval Europe it's easy to find that you've recreated a lot of anti-semitic tropes. (Dwarves and Tieflings can fall into this quite easily).
I worry that people are now so sensitive to making mistakes that they won't set games in other cultures or times, like the Chinese Silk Road, or an Islamic Golden Age themed setting, and ultimately I think that's a shame and not a good thing for cultural understanding or general intellectual curiosity.
 
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These are the problematic facets in GAZ10: (Note: "PG" refers to the Players' Guide; "DMG" refers to the DM's Booklet.)

#1: Misappropriation of "gris-gris", from the Vodun culture of West Africa. "Then his gri-gri fell into the water and drifted slowly south. The tribe followed." Players' Guide, p.2

"The goblin drops his gri-gri, trinkets, fetiches, and baubles, and drops to the ground. [...] With a final rattle of his gri-gri, the goblin closes his bulging eyes and passes out." -DMB, p.8

See: Gris-gris (talisman) - Wikipedia

#2: The use of the term "yellow orc" and "Yellow Orkia" to refer to an East Asian (Mongolian/Chinese/Tibetan/Bhutanese)-inspired orcish culture. The basis for the term "yellow orc" is clearly "yellow man", which is an offensive racial slur in present-day English.

See: yellow man - Wiktionary

Quotes:
"Akkila-Khan's son's parted and formed two tribes: Hobgobland and Yellow Orkia, on the east side of the Broken Lands." PG, p.2

"Yellow Orkia
[...] It is ruled by Moghul-Khan, orcish rival of Hutai-Khan the Hobgoblin."
PG, p.12

"Moghul-Khan is the head of an eleven-horde strong army. Each is commanded by a high level yellow orc[.]" PG, p.13

Note the Mongolian cultural motifs ("moghul, khan, horde") in connection with the yellow orcs.

The army of Yellow Orkia includes an "orientalis" subspecies of goblin:

"Storm Raiders: [...] 60 goblins of the orientalis sort[.]"
"Seven Warlords: [...] 40
orientalis goblins[.]"
"Moghul's Guards: [...] 40 orientalis goblins[.]"
PG, p.13

"Goblinus Oriensis: Yellow skin. [...] Often wear [...] large, round, slightly conical hats. Ethengarian* nomads essentially." PG, p.18

*Explanatory note: Ethengarian humans are the primary Mongolian analogue in the Known World of Mystara.

"Yellow Orkians [...] worship Karaash whom they call Hong-Tzu[.] Wogar is also worshipped here as Wong-Ah." PG, p.13

Note: the Yellow Orcs refer to their Immortals with Chinese-style names.

"Yellow Orc:
"Another sub-race of the orcs, identifiable by their dull yellow hides. Some come with ugly rat or pekingese* faces."
PG, p.31

*Note: "pekingese" is a breed of dog which originated in China.
See: Pekingese - Wikipedia

"Orcus Canis Oriensis [=Eastern Dog Orc]: [...] Pekingese face. Favor mismatched pieces of oriental armor[.] Nomads of the vast Ethengarian* steppes, and Yellow Orkia[.]" PG, p.31

*Note: the Ethengarian steppes are an analog of the Mongolian steppes.

"Traditional Humanoid Skills: [...]
"Yellow Orc: Martial Arts"
PG, p.34

"Naming Your Character:[...]
"Ethengarian Origins:
"These names are often found in Yellow Orkian and Hobgobland Tribes.
Names with a vaguely Mongol ring will do fine here.
"Adja, Adjumuk, Akkila, Altai, Altan, Bajan'uul, Barzoi, Bator, Bulgan, Buzuk, Chumbar, Daiga, Davasuren, Dzagad'hai, Dzubokai, Dzulagazai, Dzuunbulag, Gandgiz, Gegyai*, Gogol, Gunjiz, Gurvan'char, Gyangze*, Gyarduk, Hargul, Hutai, Jamsuren, Jigme** , Kai, Kai-bataar, Kailar, Kazukh, Khampa*, Kitar, Kublai, Lhaze*, Mangpo, Mugluk, Mugul, Muludzin, Namgyal*, Ngarang, Norbor, Olodzin, Oyun, Paryang, Sagyar, Sukhe, Talai, Tzeluk, Tsomo, Udbal, Ulaantar, Ulgarai, Ulmuk'hai, Urumdul, Uzuk, Wu'hai*, Xigaze*, Yagrai, Yarlung*, Zhongbai.*" -
PG, p.41

*Note: some of the names are Tibetan in origin; for example:
Gegyai: Gê'gyai County - Wikipedia
Gyangze: Gyantse - Wikipedia
Khampa: Khampa - Wikipedia
Lhaze: Lhatse County - Wikipedia
Namgyal: Namgyal - Wikipedia
Xigaze: Shigatse - Wikipedia
Yarlung: Yarlung - Wikipedia

**Jigme appears to be of Dzonkha (Bhutanese) origin. Many Bhutanese historical figures are named "Jigme", for example: Jigme Chhoeda - Wikipedia

***Some names appear to be of Chinese origin:
Wuhai is the Chinese name for a city in Inner Mongolia, China: Wuhai - Wikipedia
Zhongbai

"Yellow Orkians and Hobgolanders call their horde chiefs 'Khan,' and their tribal chief 'Aga Khan. In a conversation, they simply add '-Khan' after the chief's name." -PG, p.41

See: Aga Khan - Wikipedia

Hobgobland is also a Mongolian-themed culture. Of the Khan of Hobgobland, it is said:

"Hutai is a middle-aged hobgoblin with Asian features." -DMB, p.12

Of the Khan of Yellow Orkia, it is said:

"[Ethengarian] nomads he has been stalking in the past years call him the Yellow Demon[.]" -DMB, p.14

Here's the illustration of Moghul-Khan from GAZ10's Orc Wars! boardgame:



Note: This character specifically has a yellow-colored playing piece to match his "yellow orc" identity; whereas other playing pieces are of other colors (purple, blue, green).

#3: Misappropriation of the honored Lakota leader Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake "Sitting Bull", in the form of "Big Chief Sitting Drool."

See: Sitting Bull - Wikipedia

Quotes:
"Among the greatest chiefs were Queen Udbala and Big Chief Sitting Drool. [...] Later Big Chief Sitting Drool united the tribes again. A new menace was rising to the south. Humans built a city at the gates of our sacred lands, surely a menace to our tribes. Sitting Drool besieged the city, ransacked it, took many slaves, and massacred human armies that followed him into the hills. These were great years.

"Later he was captured, but humans could not keep him long. They let him go for a small price: a few slaves. They had a treacherous plan. He was assassinated by human adventurers shortly after his departure, a deed they will pay for."
PG, p.2

Note: In real life, Sitting Bull was "captured" by U.S. forces multiple times, and interned as a prisoner of war. The final U.S. plan to "capture" him resulted in his assassination.

Chronology:
"500 AC: Big Chief Sitting Drool unites Broken Lands."
"523 AC: Big Chief Sitting Drool ransacks Corunglain."
"525 AC: Third Punitive Expedition from Glantri and Darokin. Sitting Drool brought back in chains."
"526 AC: Sitting Drool traded for slaves and gold[.]"
"527 AC: Adventurers assassinate Sitting Drool."

-DMB p.4

#4: The use of the term "red orc" and "Red Orcland" to refer to an American Indian-inspired orcish culture. The basis for the term "red orc" is clearly "red man" or "redskin", both of which are offensive racial slurs in present-day English:

See:

Quotes:
"Red Orcland:
[...] Orclanders are similar to Atruaghin Clans*, wearing feathers on their heads, and fighting with arrows and hatchets."
p.10

"The old Atruaghin* faith of the Orclanders has been supplanted by other races' religions after being invaded several times after the fall of Sitting Drool." p.11

*Explanatory note: the humans of the Atruaghin Clans are Known World of Mystara's main Indigenous North American cultural analog.

The Red Orcland army is equipped with American Indian style weaponry:

"War Hordes: [...] 75 orcs with bows and axes [...] 30 goblins with hatchets [.]" p.10

"Red Orc:
"This is a sub-race of the orcs, recognizable by their generally red hides and simian features."
p.18

"Orcus Rubeus Vulgaris [=Common Red Orc] [...] Simian features emulating many of the various monkey faces found in nature. [...] Southern Red Orcland natives[.]" p.31

"Orcus Simius Terribilis [=Terrible Simian Orc] Natives of northern Red Orcland[.]" p.31

"Traditional Humanoid Skills: [...]
"Red Orc: Outdoor Stealth"
p.34

"Naming Your Character: [...]
"Atruaghin Origins:
"These names are more commonly used by Red Orcland hordes. Red orcs are usually named according to circumstances at their birth. They sound more like American Indian names, although cruder and certainly grosser as befits orcs:

Bag-Cheek, Bone-Fist, Black-Blood, Broken-Fang, Cave-Hop, Dirt-Ball, Double-Tongue, Fat-Pot, Flat-Skull, Flat-Foot, Flea-Bag, Fork-Chin, Gloom-Mud, Crim-Claw, Gut-Worm, Hare-Snout, Iron-Butt, Little-Big-Snout*, Muck-Bag, Nose-Pick, One-Eye, Ooze-Lip, Pimple-Drip, Pus-Pop, Rattle-Bone, Red-Eye, Red-Hand, Red-Stone, Rot-Finger, Scare-Belly, Scar-Snout, Sitting-Drool*, Skunk-Hide, Slime-Tongue, Stale-Water, Stink-Puff, Stomp-Foot, Stutter-Bug, Two-Feathers, Wart-Bag, Wolf-Head, Wood-Hand, Yellow-Dust, Yawning-Bear, Zorn-Breath.
"Red Orclanders call their tribal chief 'Big Chief.'"
p.41

*Note: "Little-Big-Snout" is an appropriation of "Little Bighorn", a sacred site: Battle of the Little Bighorn - Wikipedia
"Sitting-Drool" is an appropriation of "Sitting Bull."

Hool is the Big Chief of Red Orcland:
"Hool: Supreme of Orcland:
"Hool is a tall Orcus Simius Terribilis [Terrible Simian Orc] with long, red, shaggy hair which he wears braided with feathers. A magical headband +2, stolen from an Atruaghin brave, improves his Armor Class and Saving Throws[.] [...] Hool is easy to recognize with his facial paints (his face is black from the eyes up). When needed, Hool will use an ornately carved hatchet to fight[.]"
-DMB, p.12

Here's the illustration of Hool, from GAZ10's Orc Wars! boardgame:



Note the mohawk, feathered headband, hatchet, and American Indian-style breastplate. And, this character has a red-colored playing piece to match his "red orc" identity.

#5: A "notorious" misappropriation of the name of the Nakota (Assiniboine/Stoney) nation.

"A deserted plateau called Nakota's Grave, covers central Red Orcland between two mountain ranges. Nakota's Grave is notorious for being the red orcs' sacred burial grounds[.]" p.10

See: Nakota - Wikipedia

#6: Insensitive reference to the phrase: "The Only Good Indian Is a Dead Indian".

For a scholarly study of this "proverb", see: "The Only Good Indian Is a Dead Indian": History and Meaning of a Proverbial Stereotype on JSTOR

Quote:
"The golden rule: A Good Orc is a Dead Orc." p.30 (spoken by a human caravan guard)
:rolleyes:
YIKES
 

Stormonu

Legend
Unfortunately, X8 - Drums on Fire Mountain has similar serious issues with its "kara-kara" green orcs.

----
As an aside, GAZ10 had a really interesting (and dark) premise in the DM's section - that orcs and the like were evil souls punished in a cycle of rebirth into monstrous bodies to relive life in a society build on the self-torture and wicked acts the had themselves commited in previous lives. It was evil turned in on itself, but a wickedness so great that it spilled over to spread against the other races the goblinoids interacted with (a curse that worked so well, it backfired). The only escape from rebirth into the society was to become a better individual, but the oppressive ingrained evil of the society and the thought processes of its inhabitants prevented that from ever being likely to occur. If the writers had followed the premise in the DM's section, it could have provided a very different play experience for player characters from the region, who would have been anti-heroes contending with a tendency towards evil deeds but aware of the only escape from such a life to become better and dig themselves out of the pit of both their own making, and a vicious society hell-bent on keeping them that way. It would not, however, had fixed the issues with red/yellow orcs - perhaps even making it worse as portraying those drawn-on societies as evil or corrupt.

But the the rest of the DM's section and the entire player's book went in a different direction and this entire premise was lost with a silly and irreverant look at the races - as well as the insulting parodies mentioned above.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Daaaaaaaang, @Dungeonosophy .
Can I subscribe to your Patreon?

This is easily the most carefully-researched and detailed analysis of this nature that I've ever read. I'd love to see more: as I said earlier in this thread, I'm a big fan of the Mystara setting, and as such, I relish any opportunity for improvement.
 
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Fallen star

Explorer
I had heard of this product before, but I was unaware of all that was in it. Thanks for the in depth review. I may pick this one up just for reference.
 

Jaegermonstrous

Swamp Cryptid
Thanks for this work, @Dungeonosophy. I appreciate your commitment to presenting this in a scholarly fashion. While I'm well aware of the racism baked in to many RPG materials, it is occasionally astonishing to see how very blatant it can get.

Out of curiosity, is this part of a larger project or something you're planning to do for other RPG materials?
 


Zardnaar

Legend
Not overly worried as it was a product of it's time.

Generally a bad idea to use real life cultures in games extinct ones are kinda safe (Egypt, Greece, Rome etc).
 

guachi

Adventurer
I loved the silly parts of Gaz 10 and Orc Wars is a fun game. And modeling a fantasy culture on something real world isn't problematic or it would be near impossible to have anything anyone could relate to. Using a term like "gris gris" isn't a problem. If it is, the only thing that would be allowable would be borrowing from Western European culture. And how is that any better? All fantasy RPGs are western European focused from now on to prevent appropriation?

No, the real problem is presentation in a derogatory manner, like using "red" and "yellow" Orc and making it clearly based on Native Americans and Asians. I grew up in Montana and played D&D off and on through junior high and high school with a Crow Indian and he had no real problem with the parody aspect Gaz 10. He did have a problem with "red" orcs, though, as that, even to us teenagers, was clearly an out-of-fashion term that should have died years before.

Gaz10 is a parody of lots of modern cultures. The kobolds, for example, are a parody of Italian culture. The possibility of you writing a post deriding any of that is exactly zero. I'm partly of Italian ancestry and it didn't bother me. At no point did I think Bruce Heard was actually being derogatory towards real world Italians. Many of Mystara's biggest fans are Italians and I'm unaware of any of them being offended by the Kobold Italian parody in Gaz 10.

The OP makes reference to the "sacred" land at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. For those who are unaware, the land the battle was fought on was Crow land. The Sioux, Arapahoe, and Cheyenne who fought the battle had, for lack of a better word, invaded Crown land and the Crow supported the US in expelling the invaders.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Not overly worried as it was a product of it's time.
I think this is a poor excuse, and simply untrue. People in the United States in 1988 (the date this work was published) were well aware issues facing Native Americans. The Wounded Knee Occupation took place in 1973 just two states over from Wisconsin, where TSR was headquartered. It raised country-wide awareness of the inequalities facing Native Americans.

Rather than seeing this as a product of its time, we should be seeing it as a product of centuries of subjugation of native peoples of North America. If Bruce Heard, the author, had healthy relationships with peers of Native American ancestry, I doubt he would have written something so cruel to native cultures. At the same time, we can't let people off the hook for publishing something with racist imagery and text just 33 years ago.

I was born in 1986 in the US. I remember watching a TV show in which a kid was chastised for wearing a feathered headdress and making warcries while pretending to be Native American. So these issues were known at the time, and reflected in the media.

TSR and Bruce Heard simply chose to disregard it.
 


BookTenTiger

He / Him
I loved the silly parts of Gaz 10 and Orc Wars is a fun game. And modeling a fantasy culture on something real world isn't problematic or it would be near impossible to have anything anyone could relate to. Using a term like "gris gris" isn't a problem. If it is, the only thing that would be allowable would be borrowing from Western European culture. And how is that any better? All fantasy RPGs are western European focused from now on to prevent appropriation?

No, the real problem is presentation in a derogatory manner, like using "red" and "yellow" Orc and making it clearly based on Native Americans and Asians. I grew up in Montana and played D&D off and on through junior high and high school with a Crow Indian and he had no real problem with the parody aspect Gaz 10. He did have a problem with "red" orcs, though, as that, even to us teenagers, was clearly an out-of-fashion term that should have died years before.

Gaz10 is a parody of lots of modern cultures. The kobolds, for example, are a parody of Italian culture. The possibility of you writing a post deriding any of that is exactly zero. I'm partly of Italian ancestry and it didn't bother me. At no point did I think Bruce Heard was actually being derogatory towards real world Italians. Many of Mystara's biggest fans are Italians and I'm unaware of any of them being offended by the Kobold Italian parody in Gaz 10.

The OP makes reference to the "sacred" land at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. For those who are unaware, the land the battle was fought on was Crow land. The Sioux, Arapahoe, and Cheyenne who fought the battle had, for lack of a better word, invaded Crown land and the Crow supported the US in expelling the invaders.
The research clearly shows that the orcs aren't being "modeled" after Native American cultures... The writers are mocking Native American cultures.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
I think this is a poor excuse, and simply untrue. People in the United States in 1988 (the date this work was published) were well aware issues facing Native Americans. The Wounded Knee Occupation took place in 1973 just two states over from Wisconsin, where TSR was headquartered. It raised country-wide awareness of the inequalities facing Native Americans.

Rather than seeing this as a product of its time, we should be seeing it as a product of centuries of subjugation of native peoples of North America. If Bruce Heard, the author, had healthy relationships with peers of Native American ancestry, I doubt he would have written something so cruel to native cultures. At the same time, we can't let people off the hook for publishing something with racist imagery and text just 33 years ago.

I was born in 1986 in the US. I remember watching a TV show in which a kid was chastised for wearing a feathered headdress and making warcries while pretending to be Native American. So these issues were known at the time, and reflected in the media.

TSR and Bruce Heard simply chose to disregard it.
Yeah. This sort of material was part of my high school curriculum in the late 1980s.
 

These are the problematic facets in GAZ10: (Note: "PG" refers to the Players' Guide; "DMG" refers to the DM's Booklet.)

#1: Misappropriation of "gris-gris", from the Vodun culture of West Africa. "Then his gri-gri fell into the water and drifted slowly south. The tribe followed." Players' Guide, p.2

"The goblin drops his gri-gri, trinkets, fetiches, and baubles, and drops to the ground. [...] With a final rattle of his gri-gri, the goblin closes his bulging eyes and passes out." -DMB, p.8

See: Gris-gris (talisman) - Wikipedia

#2: The use of the term "yellow orc" and "Yellow Orkia" to refer to an East Asian (Mongolian/Chinese/Tibetan/Bhutanese)-inspired orcish culture. The basis for the term "yellow orc" is clearly "yellow man", which is an offensive racial slur in present-day English.

See: yellow man - Wiktionary

Quotes:
"Akkila-Khan's son's parted and formed two tribes: Hobgobland and Yellow Orkia, on the east side of the Broken Lands." PG, p.2

"Yellow Orkia
[...] It is ruled by Moghul-Khan, orcish rival of Hutai-Khan the Hobgoblin."
PG, p.12

"Moghul-Khan is the head of an eleven-horde strong army. Each is commanded by a high level yellow orc[.]" PG, p.13

Note the Mongolian cultural motifs ("moghul, khan, horde") in connection with the yellow orcs.

The army of Yellow Orkia includes an "orientalis" subspecies of goblin:

"Storm Raiders: [...] 60 goblins of the orientalis sort[.]"
"Seven Warlords: [...] 40
orientalis goblins[.]"
"Moghul's Guards: [...] 40 orientalis goblins[.]"
PG, p.13

"Goblinus Oriensis: Yellow skin. [...] Often wear [...] large, round, slightly conical hats. Ethengarian* nomads essentially." PG, p.18

*Explanatory note: Ethengarian humans are the primary Mongolian analogue in the Known World of Mystara.

"Yellow Orkians [...] worship Karaash whom they call Hong-Tzu[.] Wogar is also worshipped here as Wong-Ah." PG, p.13

Note: the Yellow Orcs refer to their Immortals with Chinese-style names.

"Yellow Orc:
"Another sub-race of the orcs, identifiable by their dull yellow hides. Some come with ugly rat or pekingese* faces."
PG, p.31

*Note: "pekingese" is a breed of dog which originated in China.
See: Pekingese - Wikipedia

"Orcus Canis Oriensis [=Eastern Dog Orc]: [...] Pekingese face. Favor mismatched pieces of oriental armor[.] Nomads of the vast Ethengarian* steppes, and Yellow Orkia[.]" PG, p.31

*Note: the Ethengarian steppes are an analog of the Mongolian steppes.

"Traditional Humanoid Skills: [...]
"Yellow Orc: Martial Arts"
PG, p.34

"Naming Your Character:[...]
"Ethengarian Origins:
"These names are often found in Yellow Orkian and Hobgobland Tribes.
Names with a vaguely Mongol ring will do fine here.
"Adja, Adjumuk, Akkila, Altai, Altan, Bajan'uul, Barzoi, Bator, Bulgan, Buzuk, Chumbar, Daiga, Davasuren, Dzagad'hai, Dzubokai, Dzulagazai, Dzuunbulag, Gandgiz, Gegyai*, Gogol, Gunjiz, Gurvan'char, Gyangze*, Gyarduk, Hargul, Hutai, Jamsuren, Jigme** , Kai, Kai-bataar, Kailar, Kazukh, Khampa*, Kitar, Kublai, Lhaze*, Mangpo, Mugluk, Mugul, Muludzin, Namgyal*, Ngarang, Norbor, Olodzin, Oyun, Paryang, Sagyar, Sukhe, Talai, Tzeluk, Tsomo, Udbal, Ulaantar, Ulgarai, Ulmuk'hai, Urumdul, Uzuk, Wu'hai*, Xigaze*, Yagrai, Yarlung*, Zhongbai.*" -
PG, p.41

*Note: some of the names are Tibetan in origin; for example:
Gegyai: Gê'gyai County - Wikipedia
Gyangze: Gyantse - Wikipedia
Khampa: Khampa - Wikipedia
Lhaze: Lhatse County - Wikipedia
Namgyal: Namgyal - Wikipedia
Xigaze: Shigatse - Wikipedia
Yarlung: Yarlung - Wikipedia

**Jigme appears to be of Dzonkha (Bhutanese) origin. Many Bhutanese historical figures are named "Jigme", for example: Jigme Chhoeda - Wikipedia

***Some names appear to be of Chinese origin:
Wuhai is the Chinese name for a city in Inner Mongolia, China: Wuhai - Wikipedia
Zhongbai

"Yellow Orkians and Hobgolanders call their horde chiefs 'Khan,' and their tribal chief 'Aga Khan. In a conversation, they simply add '-Khan' after the chief's name." -PG, p.41

See: Aga Khan - Wikipedia

Hobgobland is also a Mongolian-themed culture. Of the Khan of Hobgobland, it is said:

"Hutai is a middle-aged hobgoblin with Asian features." -DMB, p.12

Of the Khan of Yellow Orkia, it is said:

"[Ethengarian] nomads he has been stalking in the past years call him the Yellow Demon[.]" -DMB, p.14

Here's the illustration of Moghul-Khan from GAZ10's Orc Wars! boardgame:



Note: This character specifically has a yellow-colored playing piece to match his "yellow orc" identity; whereas other playing pieces are of other colors (purple, blue, green).

#3: Misappropriation of the honored Lakota leader Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake "Sitting Bull", in the form of "Big Chief Sitting Drool."

See: Sitting Bull - Wikipedia

Quotes:
"Among the greatest chiefs were Queen Udbala and Big Chief Sitting Drool. [...] Later Big Chief Sitting Drool united the tribes again. A new menace was rising to the south. Humans built a city at the gates of our sacred lands, surely a menace to our tribes. Sitting Drool besieged the city, ransacked it, took many slaves, and massacred human armies that followed him into the hills. These were great years.

"Later he was captured, but humans could not keep him long. They let him go for a small price: a few slaves. They had a treacherous plan. He was assassinated by human adventurers shortly after his departure, a deed they will pay for."
PG, p.2

Note: In real life, Sitting Bull was "captured" by U.S. forces multiple times, and interned as a prisoner of war. The final U.S. plan to "capture" him resulted in his assassination.

Chronology:
"500 AC: Big Chief Sitting Drool unites Broken Lands."
"523 AC: Big Chief Sitting Drool ransacks Corunglain."
"525 AC: Third Punitive Expedition from Glantri and Darokin. Sitting Drool brought back in chains."
"526 AC: Sitting Drool traded for slaves and gold[.]"
"527 AC: Adventurers assassinate Sitting Drool."

-DMB p.4

#4: The use of the term "red orc" and "Red Orcland" to refer to an American Indian-inspired orcish culture. The basis for the term "red orc" is clearly "red man" or "redskin", both of which are offensive racial slurs in present-day English:

See:

Quotes:
"Red Orcland:
[...] Orclanders are similar to Atruaghin Clans*, wearing feathers on their heads, and fighting with arrows and hatchets."
p.10

"The old Atruaghin* faith of the Orclanders has been supplanted by other races' religions after being invaded several times after the fall of Sitting Drool." p.11

*Explanatory note: the humans of the Atruaghin Clans are Known World of Mystara's main Indigenous North American cultural analog.

The Red Orcland army is equipped with American Indian style weaponry:

"War Hordes: [...] 75 orcs with bows and axes [...] 30 goblins with hatchets [.]" p.10

"Red Orc:
"This is a sub-race of the orcs, recognizable by their generally red hides and simian features."
p.18

"Orcus Rubeus Vulgaris [=Common Red Orc] [...] Simian features emulating many of the various monkey faces found in nature. [...] Southern Red Orcland natives[.]" p.31

"Orcus Simius Terribilis [=Terrible Simian Orc] Natives of northern Red Orcland[.]" p.31

"Traditional Humanoid Skills: [...]
"Red Orc: Outdoor Stealth"
p.34

"Naming Your Character: [...]
"Atruaghin Origins:
"These names are more commonly used by Red Orcland hordes. Red orcs are usually named according to circumstances at their birth. They sound more like American Indian names, although cruder and certainly grosser as befits orcs:

Bag-Cheek, Bone-Fist, Black-Blood, Broken-Fang, Cave-Hop, Dirt-Ball, Double-Tongue, Fat-Pot, Flat-Skull, Flat-Foot, Flea-Bag, Fork-Chin, Gloom-Mud, Crim-Claw, Gut-Worm, Hare-Snout, Iron-Butt, Little-Big-Snout*, Muck-Bag, Nose-Pick, One-Eye, Ooze-Lip, Pimple-Drip, Pus-Pop, Rattle-Bone, Red-Eye, Red-Hand, Red-Stone, Rot-Finger, Scare-Belly, Scar-Snout, Sitting-Drool*, Skunk-Hide, Slime-Tongue, Stale-Water, Stink-Puff, Stomp-Foot, Stutter-Bug, Two-Feathers, Wart-Bag, Wolf-Head, Wood-Hand, Yellow-Dust, Yawning-Bear, Zorn-Breath.
"Red Orclanders call their tribal chief 'Big Chief.'"
p.41

*Note: "Little-Big-Snout" is an appropriation of "Little Bighorn", a sacred site: Battle of the Little Bighorn - Wikipedia
"Sitting-Drool" is an appropriation of "Sitting Bull."

Hool is the Big Chief of Red Orcland:
"Hool: Supreme of Orcland:
"Hool is a tall Orcus Simius Terribilis [Terrible Simian Orc] with long, red, shaggy hair which he wears braided with feathers. A magical headband +2, stolen from an Atruaghin brave, improves his Armor Class and Saving Throws[.] [...] Hool is easy to recognize with his facial paints (his face is black from the eyes up). When needed, Hool will use an ornately carved hatchet to fight[.]"
-DMB, p.12

Here's the illustration of Hool, from GAZ10's Orc Wars! boardgame:



Note the mohawk, feathered headband, hatchet, and American Indian-style breastplate. And, this character has a red-colored playing piece to match his "red orc" identity.

#5: A "notorious" misappropriation of the name of the Nakota (Assiniboine/Stoney) nation.

"A deserted plateau called Nakota's Grave, covers central Red Orcland between two mountain ranges. Nakota's Grave is notorious for being the red orcs' sacred burial grounds[.]" p.10

See: Nakota - Wikipedia

#6: Insensitive reference to the phrase: "The Only Good Indian Is a Dead Indian".

For a scholarly study of this "proverb", see: "The Only Good Indian Is a Dead Indian": History and Meaning of a Proverbial Stereotype on JSTOR

Quote:
"The golden rule: A Good Orc is a Dead Orc." p.30 (spoken by a human caravan guard)
Truly astonishing.

It's pretty much a brutal and heartless mockery of Native American culture, and the attitude toward Asian culture is absolutely typical Orientalism of the hateful kind, with wild racism and shoving all these cultures together just because it "sounds Oriental" to the authors of GAZ10 and so on. Cripes.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I think this is a poor excuse, and simply untrue. People in the United States in 1988 (the date this work was published) were well aware issues facing Native Americans. The Wounded Knee Occupation took place in 1973 just two states over from Wisconsin, where TSR was headquartered. It raised country-wide awareness of the inequalities facing Native Americans.

Rather than seeing this as a product of its time, we should be seeing it as a product of centuries of subjugation of native peoples of North America. If Bruce Heard, the author, had healthy relationships with peers of Native American ancestry, I doubt he would have written something so cruel to native cultures. At the same time, we can't let people off the hook for publishing something with racist imagery and text just 33 years ago.

I was born in 1986 in the US. I remember watching a TV show in which a kid was chastised for wearing a feathered headdress and making warcries while pretending to be Native American. So these issues were known at the time, and reflected in the media.

TSR and Bruce Heard simply chose to disregard it.

You don't remember the 80's I do.

By the context of the time no one cared. There's worse in 80's pop culture eg movies.

Not saying it's right or wrong but you're injecting modern concepts backwards in time.

Doesn't work like that.

Personally I think the Mystara gaz series is a bit pants for multiple reasons thinly veiled reskins being one of them.

Here's your fantasy Mongol rip off, here's your fantasy Italian rip off etc.

Or context it's been 30+ years since that book came out. 30+ years before that book isn't that far removed from the events of WW2.

So yeah things can change very fast in a short amount of time.
 

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