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Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1e)
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Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1e)

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We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

This box contains everything AD&D game players and DM's need to establish an exciting Oriental Adventures campaign!

Kara-Tur, world of eastern mystery, is on the far side of the planet from the Forgotten Realms Campaign setting, but the two cultures interact only if you want them to! This is the "official" campaign setting for the Oriental Adventures rulebook. Kara-Tur has everything you need: Two 96-page books describe the places, culture, politics, monsters, magic, people, religions, and more, plus advice on running a long-term Oriental Adventures campaign, bringing characters from other worlds into Kara-Tur to other worlds.

Product History

Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988) is the third major boxed set for the Forgotten Realms. It was published in October 1988.

Origins (I): Returning to Kara-Tur. The story of Kara-Tur begins with the publication of Zeb Cook's Oriental Adventures (1985), which included a scant five pages overviewing an Asian-influenced land named Kara-TUr. It mentioned four empires: Shou Lung (Imperial China), T'u Lung (warring China), Wa (Tokugawa Japan), and Kozakura (Sengoku Japan), but didn't even include a map of the lands(!). At the time, Kara-Tur wasn't linked to any other campaign world.

Four adventures, OA1-OA4 (1986-1987) then developed this standalone land. OA1: "Swords of the Daimyo" (1986) was the most notable because it included a map showing these four empires as well as some nearby lands, such as the Plain of Horses.

Origins (II): Expanding the Realms. In 1987, TSR debuted a major new setting for AD&D in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Set (1987). The new setting soon began accrue existing generic settings, such as Bloodstone Pass from the "H" adventures (1985-1988) and the Desert of Desolation from the "I" adventures (1983, 1987). However, the biggest such expansion of the Realms probably came in 1988 when Zeb Cook coordinated the production of Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988), which linked Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms to Zeb Cook's empires of Kara-Tur.

To a certain extent, it was a weird marriage. The Realms was a land filled with demihumans, dragons, and monsters. It had an ancient, mythic history. Conversely, Kara-Tur was human-oriented and didn't enjoy a prehistoric and mythic background.

However, the way the cultures of the two lands had been created was even more different …

Origins (III): A Real-World Correlation. Fans of the Forgotten Realms may be surprised to learn that the world didn't originally use real-world cultures as the inspiration for its countries. One of Ed Greenwood's long-time players says that his setting was inspired by "Cities and farming regions he'd visited, yes, and the 'flavours' of them he wanted to evoke, but real-world countries or peoples or cultures no."

This changed when other authors began adding their own settings to Greenwood's world, because unlike Greenwood they often used real-world cultures as a touchstone. Technically, this practice started with the Celtic-influenced culture of the Moonshae Islands, but Kara-Tur was the first big expansion in this direction. Greenwood also notes that the real-world correlations extend beyond the major additions to the world to also include "recastings of my largely-offstage kingdoms like Unther and Mulhorand to more closely resemble real-world historical (or 'Hollywood historical') settings."

Greenwood disagrees with the results, saying that "the too-close-to-our-real-world additions like Maztica, the Hordelands, and Kara-Tur were a mistake in style". He thought that they "[pulled] gamers out of roleplaying into disputes about historical details, for one thing".

However, even after decades of additions, the core of the Realms remains Greenwood's own. His primordial lands like the Sword Coast, the Heartlands, and the Dalelands have no direct real-world correlations.

Exploring Kara-Tur. Of the four classic Kara-Tur lands, any description of Kozakura is omitted, probably because the Japan-analogue had already received considerable attention in OA1: "Swords of the Daimyo" (1986) and OA2: "Night of the Seven Swords" (1986) — including extensive descriptions of both the Maeshi and Miyama provinces. However, the Kara-Tur box does expand on both the Japanese Wa and the two Chinas: Shou Lung and T'u Lung — building on material on Shou Lung found in OA3: "Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior" (1987) and on Wa found in OA4: "Blood of the Yakuza" (1987).

However, Kara-Tur goes beyond that, revealing that the land is bigger than Cook revealed in Oriental Adventures. That begins with a description of the Plain of Horses, which is essentially historical Mongolia, and would become better known as the Hordelands during the Empire event (1990). In addition, totally new countrires appear. Koryo can now be found just above Kozakura and Wa; it's fantasy Korea. Tabot has been added west of Shou Lung; it's Tibet. Finally, a few more scattered lands appear: the Northern Wastes is eastern Siberia, the Island Kingdoms are Indonesia, and the Jungle Lands are Indochina. (Some of these lands are broken into multiple kingdoms of their own.)

Exploring the Realms. Kara-Tur is placed to the far east of the Forgotten Realms. The map included here doesn't yet connect to the maps of the west; that would await the Empire event. When that connection appeared, The Horde Barbarian Campaign Setting (1990) would reveal another problem: Kara-Tur is just too big when compared to the rest of the Realms. To accommodate this, The Horde would reduce the scale of Kara-Tur's maps by one-third to better link up the west and the east.

Future History. Kara-Tur was followed by OA5: "Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw" (1998), but that was the last hoorah for Eastern Realms for a few years. When the Empire event brought the Horde to the Realms, interest in Kara-Tur also resurged, but that only lasted from 1990-1991, after which Kara-Tur would largely fade from public consciousness. "Ancestor Feats and Martial Arts Styles", an article by James Wyatt for Dragon #315 (January 2004), would revisit some of the themes for D&D 3.5e.

About the Creators. David "Zeb" Cook coordinated the work on Kara-Tur, but the writing was by Jay Batista, Deborah Christian, John Nephew, Mike Pondsmith, and Rick Swan.

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

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (5)
Discussions (12)
Customer avatar
killog12 K September 09, 2021 9:32 am UTC
Tell me exactly how using a stereotypical eastern setting is anymore prejudiced than using a stereotypical medieval european setting? Making princesses getting saved by knights in shining armor is okay but having ninja's sneaking into a fort is too much? Really getting sick and tired of this spineless back-pedaling by Wizards of the Coast, not just with D&D products, which have never been prejudiced in any way shape or form, but also with their other products like Magic the Gathering.
Customer avatar
Ian V September 26, 2021 6:01 am UTC
Well said! If I wanted a true-to-life nuanced sociopolitical campaign setting matching the real world cultures of the setting, well I wouldn't be playing an imaginative fantasy game called "Dungeons and Dragons". Racism and Sexism should be called out, but Kara-Tur is an homage to fantasy Asian tropes, not a put down or denigration of Asian culture, just like D&D is an homage to fantasy European tropes. If anyone wants to be offended by something actually real, why don't they research the situation in Syria and the international communities failure to do anything about it, instead of pointing out First-World-problems with old AD&D books?
Customer avatar
Nicholas P July 27, 2021 6:24 pm UTC
POD please
Customer avatar
Ian V June 01, 2021 9:47 am UTC
In February of this year I sent an email to Wizards of the Coast asking if they had any plans for a POD version of this book and got a reply telling me 'Thank you for showing interest in our products but it is our policy to never reply to emails'. I did this because DriveThruRPG told me that the decision is completely out of their hands and is up to WotC.
Since then WotC has tightened up their contact information to the extent that I can't even find their 'contact us' email address anymore.
However, I did find some contact information which I listed below. So, instead of complaining about no POD on this site (which won't do anything) try contacting WotC. If enough people do this maybe they will get the idea that a POD is wanted. One can hope.
Facebook lists their phone number as 1 425-226-6500
Facebook also has a "Contact Wizards of the Coast on Messenger" link in the About section.
Customer avatar
JUSTIN H March 02, 2021 3:25 pm UTC
Wrong? Wrong... it's wrong... it wasn't wrong then and its not wrong today. People would and still do write things like this because they love the history and cultural that it came from. not to XXX on it. The fact that you're saying it's wrong is a disgrace to many. you want to be "all inclusive" but only if it fits your idea. it's oxymoronic honestly.
Customer avatar
Nicholas P January 28, 2021 7:39 pm UTC
POD please
Customer avatar
ronald P January 12, 2021 5:34 am UTC
would buy if pod!
Customer avatar
Thomas G December 25, 2020 12:04 am UTC
With all the description of the land, I didn't see any mention of the Oriental Adventures Races. Does this have anything about the Hengeyokai or other magic races of OA?
Customer avatar
Maung Thaw H December 25, 2020 6:16 pm UTC
Well, they are operating on Oriental Adventure rules, just slotted into Forgotten Realms.
So they are expected non-human races to be Hengeyokai, Kokabukaru, and Spirit Folks.
To be honest, the entire setting felt too... human-centric and low fantasy, plus the nation-building based on alignment dichotomy to be lazy (or the fact that I am more of "nations as collective of individuals with their own agenda and personality"--ala Game of Thrones, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Legend of Galactic Heroes).
Customer avatar
Nathan F November 30, 2020 10:09 pm UTC
Please make this Print on Demand. The recent boxed sets that have been made in a hardback option are wonderful. Would love to see the rest of them that way!
Customer avatar
Michael A November 29, 2020 10:54 am UTC
need a pod option for this
Customer avatar
NICK M May 10, 2020 3:48 pm UTC
I’m using this to fill out the backstory for my 5e Shou Lung monk. It’s inspirational stuff!
Customer avatar
Sean V December 16, 2016 2:02 pm UTC
Hi, does this come with the map(s)? I don't see any reference about them. Thanks!
Customer avatar
Zia M December 20, 2016 4:28 pm UTC
Yes. The original came with four double-sided poster maps. They are represented here in a separate 8 page pdf file.
Customer avatar
Sean V December 26, 2016 10:30 pm UTC
Thank you. I will now purchase!
Customer avatar
Trampas W October 18, 2016 2:17 pm UTC
Kara-Tur was at one point supposed to be part of Greyhawk, but those plans changed.
Customer avatar
Shannon A October 18, 2016 5:54 pm UTC
Sort of. The _Oriental Adventures_ hardcover was originally intended to be linked to Greyhawk, but that's when Francois Marcela-Froideval was supposed to write it. Dragon #102 claims that's the case in its product listing for the book. However, it was probably out of date info, because there's no indication that was the case when Zeb Cook took over and created Kara-Tur itself. There's some discussion in the Oriental Adventures history:
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on October 18, 2016.