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OA7 Test of the Samurai (2e)
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OA7 Test of the Samurai (2e)

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The peninsula of Wa is no place to visit. The land is poor, the people wary and suspicious. Yet this quiet backwater has been the site of strange disturbances - mysterious disappearances and omens of dire events to come. Why do the animals of Wa disappear, only to return a short while later? Who are the Blue Kumi bandits, and why are they so active? Why do the black geese fly into the Jusofu Mountains? And what fell creature lurks along the southern coast of Wa?

Or does the stench of corruption emanate from the Celestial Bureaucracy itself? Could the danger, unchecked, grow great enough to doom all living creatures in Kara-Tur? Which clues will lead to the truth, and which are merely traps for the unwary...

Test of the Samurai will take the players across the Wa peninsula and to the unknown land of Qui. They will encounter such legendary beasts as the feng huang (phoenix) and the chi'-lin (unicorn) as they attempt to discover the secrets of Wa.

Test of the Samurai is a scenario for the Oriental Adventures supplement to the AD&D game. It is set in Kara-Tur, the oriental world in the Forgotten Realms. Although Test of the Samurai follows the events of module OA6: Ronin Challenge, it is an independent adventure for five to eight characters of levels 6-9.

Product History

OA7: "Test of the Samurai" (1990), by Rick Swan, is the seventh expansion for the Oriental Adventures (1985) hardcover, and also the third expansion for Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988); it was released in August 1990.

Origins (I): Ending the OAs. OA6: "Ronin Challenge" ended with the appearance of a mysterious, shadowed figure amidst the ruins of Thmpat Larang, once the capitol of a lost empire. The story continues directly into OA7: "Test of the Samurai", also by Rick Swan one of the co-authors of the previous adventure. It turns out that there isn't really much continuity between the adventurers, but the stranger is there to tell the players bout their next mission.

"Test of the Samurai" (1990) is also the last "OA" adventure, but not quite the last Kara-Tur adventure. That would instead be FROA1: "Ninja Wars" (1990). Though it was published just four months after "Test of the Samurai", it adopted a new module code.

Origins (II): More Missing Heroes. Like "Ronin Challenge" before it, "Test of the Samurai" makes use of the Kara-Tur NPCs from FR7: "Hall of Heroes" (1989) that were intended for a novel that was never written. Not only does "The Wanderer" make a reappearance, but Okotampe and Masakado, also from that unwritten book, also appear.

Adventure Tropes. "Test of the Samurai" claims that its gameplay is "somewhat different", primarily due to the organization of the module. The core of that is a fairly standard wilderness crawl with encounter zones laid out on a map of the Fochu Peninsula. But the adventure tropes of the module do indeed get more interesting from there.

To start with, there's a set of timed events. Where most adventures of the '90s included events that occurred in sequence to form the core of the adventure, "Test of the Samurai" feels more like the real world intruding on the characters thanks to its placement of its events on a calendar. Rather than occurring when the players are in certain places, these events are interspersed with the players own explorations and travels.

"Test of the Samurai" also includes interludes, which are just mini-adventures, but they're still an interesting innovation, as they're shorter scenarios stuck into the middle of a larger narrative — giving everything that much more weight and depth. They also have real repercussions as they can generate future events in the form of special encounters.

Overall, "Test of the Samurai" has a heavily simulationist feel, as the actions of the players interact with calendar events and in turn generate new events. It's about as far as you could get from the railroads of the '90s, despite having a strong story-focused plot.

Exploring Kara-Tur. After its start in Tempat Larang, this adventure quickly moves out to Fochu Peninsula, part of Wa. This Japan-influenced nation was previously the focus of OA4: "Blood of the Yakuza" (1987). There's a good amount of detail on many smaller villages, a nice master map, and a timeline of the Peninsula and its relations with the spirit world.

Exploring the Outer Planes. That spirit world is Qui, which is simply said to be "a bizarre realm in another plane of existence". How that fits in with the cosmology for D&D or the Realms isn't explained. Based on the very constrained maps of the land, it's probably what Gary Gygax called a "demi-plane".

Organizations of Note. The Celestial Bureaucracy is a government of spirits that dates back to Oriental Adventures (1985) but had only been featured prominently in OA5: "Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw" (1988). They're used to good effect in "Test of the Samurai" with the Ministry of Animal Affairs having particularly strong connections to Qui.

About the Creators. Swan got his start writing for TSR with one of the short adventures for OA2: "Night of the Seven Swords" (1986) and also contributed to Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on December 20, 2016.