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Oriental Adventures (1e)
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Oriental Adventures (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.

Dungeon Masters and players: prepare yourselves to enter a whole new world-the world of Oriental Adventures!

The material in this book will enable you to play the AD&D game as you've never played it before. In the lands of Oriental Adventures, characters are not judged solely on their prowess with sword and spell. Oriental characters' social skills and personal honor are just as important as their combat abilities. When was the last time politeness and proper manners really mattered in your campaign? How can characters associate with nobility if they know nothing of courts or court etiquette? How many AD&D characters worry about how their actions reflect upon their families and comrades? These and many other intricacies of social interactions and responsibilities are brought to light in this volume. Don't get the idea that Oriental Adventures characters don't fight. Pages and pages of Oriental weapons and armor are described and illustrated here. From the favored weapons of the ninja to thin pieces of cloth that actually stop arrows, the arms and defenses of the Orient are yours in the lands of Kara-Tur. Have a favorite monster from Japanese films? Find it under Gargantua in the Monsters section! Want to learn a martial arts style or create a new style? You can do it in the new worlds opened up to you in Oriental Adventures!

Product History

Oriental Adventures (1985), by David "Zeb" Cook, is TSR's eighth hardcover for the AD&D game. It was released in October 1985. This marked the first time ever that TSR released two hardcover books in a single year, following from Unearthed Arcana (1985). They’d keep up the two-a-year rate through 1987.

Disputed Origins. Gary Gygax says that he started thinking about an Asian-influenced supplement for AD&D as early as 1980, shortly after the original AD&D game (1977-1979) was completed. He first mentioned in it Dragon #90 (October 1984) when he announced that Francois Marcela-Froideval was working on rules "for including Oriental characters in the game", possibly as part of a "second volume of [the] Players Handbook".

By 1985, TSR was in severe financial straits, and so Gary Gygax suggested that a half-dozen new books be published under his name, one of which was Fracois Marcela-Froideval's Oriental Adventures. This increased the importance of the project and required it to hit its deadline; it's also where the book's history comes into some dispute.

David "Zeb" Cook was consulting on the project because of his interest in Japanese history and culture. As a result, when Marcela-Froideval turned in a manuscript for the book that was just 30-60 double-spaced pages, it landed in Cook's lap. Gygax then wrote Cook a contract to prepare the book on his own, with just 4-5 months to go on the deadline.

Everyone agrees that the resulting manuscript is 100% Cook's own, perhaps inspired by some of the ideas suggested by Gygax and in Marcela-Froideval's notes. However in much later years Gygax would claim that Cook "ramrodded" his book through TSR, with the intent to "sink Francois' material", and that he did so by taking advantage of the fact that Gygax was "engrossed in the business affairs of TSR".

Both Cook and the book's main editor, Mike Breault, disagree with this interpretation of events. Cook points toward his contract and says that Gygax was fully informed on how the book was being prepared.

Whatever the specifics, the book’s accepted origins are: Gygax came up with the idea; Marcela-Froideval wrote a manuscript that wasn’t published; and then Cook wrote a manuscript that was.

Some suggest that Gygax’s animosity toward Cook came about not because of Oriental Adventures, but instead what came afterward: reportedly, Gary Gygax asked Cook to join his new company, New Infinities, around 1986. Cook instead opted to remain at TSR where he continued to work with Gygax's arch-nemesis, Lorraine Williams, and where he eventually authored AD&D 2e (1989), which replaced Gygax's iteration of the game. It seems quite possible that this was the actual source of the dispute and might have colored the principles’ views of Oriental Adventures.

Disputed Bylines. Though Breault, Cook, and Gygax all agree that the text of Oriental Adventures was entirely written by Cook, the book was still released with the name "Gary Gygax" on the cover. This matched TSR’s trends for 1985, which also saw the release of the D&D Masters Rules (1985) and T1-4: The Temple of Elemental Evil (1985), each with Gygax receiving prime billing despite the fact that he probably didn't do any of the new work on either book. The intent was probably to put Gygax's name first and forefront in as many projects as it was possible, as good marketing that was intended to help save TSR from its financial hardships.

Though the cover of Oriental Adventures says "Gary Gygax", it doesn't actually say "by Gary Gygax" — a distinction that might or might not have been intentional. Greyhawk Adventures (1988) similarly lists James M. Ward's name on the cover without a "by". The inside credits of Oriental Adventures offer a more accurate depiction of how the book was created saying that "Original Oriental Adventures Concept" was by Gary Gygax with Francois Marcela-Froideval while "Oriental Adventures Design" was by David "Zeb" Cook.

Disputed Intellectual Property. Editor Mike Breault reports that there was one other legal oddity having to do with Oriental Adventures: when Breault got the book back from typesetting he discovered that the book's indicia had been changed to claim that Gary Gygax was the owner of the copyright to AD&D. Breault reported the problem to TSR Legal who reportedly had a confrontation with Gygax that resulted in the indicia being returned to its original form.

Continuing the AD&D Hardcovers. Earlier in 1985, TSR had introduced a new sort of AD&D hardcover: Unearthed Arcana (1985) was a pure rules supplement that added new classes, races, spells, and other mechanics to the Players Handbook (1978). Oriental Adventures was the same but more-so. It was an entire alternate Players Handbook, complete with a full set of classes, races, and spells, plus new rules for families, honor, and martial arts. It could entirely replace the classic Players Handbook for games set in Asian-influenced lands.

This made Oriental Adventures an important part of what's now called the 1.5e release of AD&D. This was a fairly dramatic revamp of the rules to AD&D that added lots of classes and some important new rules. It's generally understood to included Unearthed Arcana, Oriental Adventures, Dungeoneer's Survival Guide (1986), and Wilderness Survival Guide (1986).

Some also see Oriental Adventures as the first of AD&D’s setting-heavy hardcovers — a series that also included Dragonlance Adventures (1987), Greyhawk Adventures (1988), Forgotten Realms Adventures (1990), and to a lesser extent Manual of the Planes (1987). Though Oriental Adventures originated the "Adventures" nomenclature, it’s quite different from the later books because it largely evokes setting through its classes, races, and other rules; the land of Kara-Tur is given just 6 pages of description near the end of the book.

About the Orient. Though Oriental Adventures marked TSR's entry to the world of Asian-influenced fantasy, it wasn't the first look at the topic in a FRPG. In fact, there were already two complete Asian-influenced FRPGs: FGU's Land of the Rising Sun (1980), and Phoenix Games' Bushido (1980), which was picked up by FGU for a second edition (1981). Despite being late to the party, Oriental Adventures did very well — probably out-selling the two earlier games in short order.

By adapting Asian fantasy elements, Oriental Adventures also introduced a lot of new mechanics to the AD&D game, among them many new classes. Characters like the ninja and the samurai were well-known — and in fact The Dragon had published a samurai class in issue #3 (October 1976); the shukenja, the wu jen and others were probably newer to most readers. However, the book's most interesting addition might have been a new version of the monk; the monk had always been the odd-man out in the traditional AD&D game, but now he was allowed to flourish in what Gygax considered to be his native environment.

About Skills. Oriental Adventures' most important additional to the future of the AD&D game was its inclusion of "non-weapon proficiencies" — which is to say skills. They were already a central part of many RPGs: GDW's Traveller (1977) introduced the idea, while Chaosium's RuneQuest (1978) moved them to the fantasy realm and turned them into something that could be improved. By the early '80s, many other influential games such as The Fantasy Trip (1977, 1980) and Rolemaster (1980, 1982) also included skills. In other words, AD&D was again playing catch up.

Cook's first iteration of skills didn't tie them to AD&D’s attributes. This was revamped by Douglas Niles in the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide, which also adapted Cook’s non-weapon proficiencies to a western setting. Cook himself returned to the topic of skills when he wrote AD&D 2e. He made them an official (but optional) rule set — but almost all 2e groups used them. Since D&D 3e (2000), skills have become a totally standard part of the D&D rules — but it took 15 years to get there!

The 2e Connection. Gygax apparently liked Oriental Adventures enough that he said in Dragon #103 (November 1985) that the Players Handbook for the second edition of AD&D would include material from both Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures. At a minimum, he intended to replace the classic monk class with its Oriental Adventures brethren.

Gygax's plans for 2e never came about due to his being forced out of the company shortly afterward. Instead, it was Zeb Cook who wrote 2e, and ironically he left the Asian-influenced character classes out of the new game. Despite that, the 1e Oriental Adventures sourcebook kept being referenced for years after the release of 2e — showing that edition lines weren't as hard and fast then as they are now.

Expanding Greyhawk. In Francois Marcela-Froideval's original design, Oriental Adventures was supposed to be set in the world of Greyhawk. His Asian-influenced lands were going to lie past the west coast of Oerik. Since either Frank Mentzer or Len Lakofka was working on an eastern continent, this along with a southern continent would have completed the world of Greyhawk as a globe. This idea was still being touted in Dragon #102 (October 1985), just before Oriental Adventures' publication, but it was abandoned shortly thereafter.

Expanding the Realms. Instead, the world of Oriental Adventures was added to the Forgotten Realms with the publication of Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988). However, Zeb Cook's massive Asian-influenced land ended up being a little too big for the Realms, so it was shrunk down for future iterations of the setting.

Future History. Oriental Adventures was very popular and ended up being the best-seller for TSR in 1985, despite many other popular publications appearing that year. It subsequently spawned eleven direct spinoffs. Most of them were adventure supplements. OA1: "Swords of the Daimyo" (1986) also added considerable detail on the world of Kara-Tur. The series then ran through OA7: "Test of the Samurai" (1990) and was afterward restarted with a Forgotten Realms prefix for FROA1: “Ninja Wars” (1990) — but that was the final Oriental Adventures release. The other Oriental Adventures supplements were the "Warlords" 1-on-1 gamebook (1985), the aforementioned Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988) boxed set, and MC6: "Monstrous Compendium Kara-Tur Appendix" (1990).

Oriental Adventures also was the source of two spin-off settings for the Forgotten Realms. The first was The Horde (1990), which depicts the lands west of Kara-Tur; it was presented as a bridge book between Western and Eastern culture. The second was Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures (1992) which was pitched at TSR as a sequel to Oriental Adventures, showing how popular the setting remained almost a decade after its release. (The released version of Al-Qadim doesn’t actually reference Oriental Adventures, which may have been out-of-print by that time.)

Wizards of the Coast reused the name more recently to produce Oriental Adventures (2001), but this 3e book depicts the Legend of the Five Rings (1997) world of Rokugan rather than the classic land of Kara-Tur.

About the Creators. Cook got his start with D&D with A1: "Slave Pits of the Undercity" (1980), but he was better known for his Basic D&D work prior to 1985. Following the publication of Oriental Adventures, Cook contributed to several Asian-influenced supplements at TSR, including three of the "OA" adventure books, The Horde (1990), and the related Horselands (1990) novel. He even returned to the topic in the d20 era, contributing to Green Ronin's Jade Dragons & Hungry Ghosts (2001), a book of Asian monsters.

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.

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Reviews (6)
Discussions (54)
Customer avatar
Daniel S January 08, 2022 12:49 am UTC
Well, the comment section has been an interesting read! This is a great book. I can't believe I didn't have this back in the day, but after all the broohaa I tracked down an original copy (as well as an original Kara-Tur) for myself as I am sure WotC won't add this as POD. I would have bought it POD if it were available, but alas, 'twas not to be.

It is fantastic. It really captures the spirit of AD&D without the verbosity of Gygax's prose (which has an appeal, I'll admit) and casts a nice net over a selection of cultures.

Yes, as noted there is a heavier focus on Japan, and yes, it was written by and for a predominantly northern American audience (*see footnote) though a quick look on ye olde internet will reveal the love and sheer enjoyment that this product has garnered from a wide variety of players (and I mean a wide variety). This love is both for the product, and its subject matter. The book itself clearly shows great affection and respect for its subject matter (see Eric...See more
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Simon W January 08, 2022 1:53 pm UTC
Hi Daniel, when you say "Daniel Kwan who of course represents all Asians", you were being sarcastic, yeah? I know people from Asia who enjoyed Oriental Adventures. E.g. When I was a teenager, I DMed some Oriental Adventures for 2 friends, one of whom was an Indigenous guy from Guam (an island in Asia). He enjoyed the adventures we played.

Will Oriental Adventures be banned? We do not know the future. What we do know is that the future depends on what we, the people of the world, do.

Let's take action to ensure that harmless books are not censored by "identity politics" and people with vested interests (author of new Asian fantasy products, Daniel Kwan, benefits by slandering and potentially stifling the AD&D Oriental Adventures products).

Let's take action to ensure that no-one censors harmless books, especially books that actually show Asian cultures in a positive way and make D&D more culturally inclusive, as the Oriental Adventures book does....See more
Customer avatar
Daniel S January 09, 2022 1:49 pm UTC
I would like to take this opportunity to confirm my extreme sarcasm (I should have made it plainer -my apologies!). As to your other points: indeed. I'm not sure how motivated I am to gather signatures for a petition, but yes, I agree with you.
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Simon W January 09, 2022 5:52 pm UTC
:D Daniel S, even your comments are helpful in supporting this cause. Also, thanks for your kind words. Game on! :D
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Simon W January 09, 2022 6:26 pm UTC
By the way, Daniel, this petition is relevant, in case you're interested in signing it:
Customer avatar
Daniel S January 10, 2022 12:09 am UTC
Many thanks, I will happily sign.

I genuinely hope that companies such as WotC start to show a bit more respect for their legacy content. I would rather deal with companies that understand that we, as adults, understand the nuances of context. I hope that they begin to steer away from those who champion insipid superficiality, while achieving little or no actual good in the real world (and, as you have pointed out, reaping literal financial benefits for themselves).

But I ramble...

Conclusion: Oriental Adventures is excellent. Buy it.
Customer avatar
Daniel S January 10, 2022 12:28 am UTC
Edit: "while achieving little or no actual good in the real world" should be a generality. I don't know Mr Kwan beyond his public stance on OA, so if he's out there doing good in the community, well done to him.
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Garrett K November 13, 2021 4:59 am UTC
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Adam S December 23, 2021 6:26 pm UTC
What he said!
Customer avatar
Travis M August 12, 2021 7:54 pm UTC
I have fond memories of this product as well as Al-Qadim. The rules were a little clunky at the time, and the setting very much Japan-centered, but the world-building was fantastic, as were the adventures.
Customer avatar
Eric R July 30, 2021 5:22 pm UTC
There's a lot of folks saying that Oriental Adventures is "racist," but if they would only get past the cover, they would see that the authors show great respect for East Asian cultures. References to the "exotic East" and such are only found on the binding, and might be from the marketing department, not the authors. Inside, the information about East Asia is both balanced and based on historical research, and I say that as someone with a PhD in East Asian history. Had the series been called the "Land of Kara Tur," it would still be part of 5e. Playing the game is no more racist than playing any other East Asian themed RPG or video game. On the contrary, it might inspire many to learn more about East Asian culture. So don't judge this book by its cover.
Customer avatar
Maung Thaw H August 12, 2021 3:15 am UTC
Well, in my honest take, I think the book is dated.
Like I get it that it was trying to emulate samurai or Kung Fu genre in RPG, but Legend of 5 Rings, Bushido, Feng Shui, and Exalted did that better even if it was later.
Well, you like it but you also have to account "homebrewing, DM skills, put aside complicated or unnecessary rules, and ability to make interesting campaign with your knowledge and integrate to gameplay" (also maybe using Bushido as other OA player stated too). Not sure if you are a DM or writer, but nostlagia paints a different picture especially if you aren't DMing it (like a clever DM who may spend a lot of time trying to make it interesting instead of "RULE AS WRITTEN").
My major issue is 1. Japanese centrism, which is they are operating on Japanese terms and classes (Samurai, Bushi, Shugenja, Ninja, and Yakuza), but really out of place when it is placed in non-Japanese countries (again, not this book since it is clear that it was Japanese fantasy focused,...See more
Customer avatar
Simon W August 13, 2021 5:27 pm UTC
You can call ALL older editions of D&D "dated", but the fact is that many people enjoy them. I much prefer BECMI D&D and AD&D 1st and 2nd edition over D&D 5th edition. My reasons are the same as those described by Noah Antwiler in his 2-part YouTube video review of 5th edition, especially:

(1) the replacement of bonuses and penalties to attack rolls with the "advantage" and "disadvantage" rule, which makes it the same to attack a blinded, prone enemy from behind as attacking an enemy who is simply prone (and the same difficulty for a prone character to attack as a character who is prone AND blinded, etc.).
(2) the lack of variety, because everything is so unrealistically balanced, like a video game - e.g. the characters of each class end up very similar to others of the same class, and
(3) the lack of risk, because everything is so unrealistically balanced, like a video game - e.g. the DM is urged to make every encounter easy to overcome with...See more
Customer avatar
Eric R August 13, 2021 8:23 pm UTC
Hi Muang,
Thanks for continuing the discussion.

I think Simon responded to many of your points about magic and the Japan-centric setting of Oriental Adventures. While it's true that the earliest materials were that way, as Simon noted, later modules focus on campaign events on the continent where the countries were patterned after premodern China, Korea and even Tibet. I'm running an Oriental Adventures game right now as DM and the PCs will be traveling away from "Japan-centered" Kozakura soon to the continent (but please don't tell them that).

The original Oriental Adventures book, published in 1985, was certainly a product of its time. The USA was experiencing a "Japan boom" in the 1980s with the mini-series Shogun coming out in 1980, sushi becoming popular, and many experts explaining Japan's postwar "economic miracle," and attributing it (for better or worse) to cultural factors. Were the same books written today, I am sure that they would...See more
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Maung Thaw H August 14, 2021 3:33 am UTC
The last part, was mostly based on Tabot/Tibet's landmarks or adventures involving "rumors of a pool that extends life" that would seem interesting but potion of longevity being common in said setting might not be interesting. That or misreading it as "official adventure" instead of "suggestion of adventures".
Well, for the wizards, I wasn't talking wizards specificially, what I am asking is "what makes Wu Jen unique other than asian-flavored wizards with paladin-esque strictures?".
Customer avatar
killog12 K September 09, 2021 9:39 am UTC
Everything you just said, Simon, is a fact.
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Ian V July 26, 2021 9:48 pm 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
Edward A June 27, 2021 7:19 pm UTC
Yes POD please!
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Daniel R June 09, 2021 8:52 am UTC
POD Please
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Brad E June 04, 2021 3:01 pm UTC
So no POD? My original copies of OA and UA must have been bound by demented monkeys as they fell apart years ago...would be nice to get a perfect bound copy.
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Simon W June 05, 2021 1:49 pm UTC
They were bound by demented Carnivorous Apes, actually. ;) (Where do you think the idea of that monster-type came from? Based on the real experiences of TSR staff back in the day.)
Customer avatar
Ian V May 05, 2021 4:17 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
Simon W June 05, 2021 1:51 pm UTC
Hey Ian, good on you for encouraging effective communication so we can get more products printed. :)
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Daniel R May 01, 2021 9:04 pm UTC
POD would be nice, what is the difference, your already selling it as a PDF anyways. Why not let the fans/players enjoy it in the format they wish to enjoy it in.
Customer avatar
William L April 22, 2021 10:00 pm UTC
So sick of woke s**t!!! FK WOTC!!!! Release ALL OD&D, AD&D 1E and 2E in print!
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Simon W April 23, 2021 10:08 am UTC
WOTC make the decisions regarding what old and new D&D products to release and to print. I very much doubt they'll listen to your desires if you insult them.
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Simon W April 13, 2021 2:42 pm UTC
I have been an anti-racist activist for 25+ years and I campaign daily to stop the current anti-China propaganda campaign and U.S. military "pivot to Asia" which are taking us toward war and are preventing world working class unity.

That said, I have owned OA for 30+ years and I have not noticed any racism in it... what I did notice was a passion for Asian history, culture and mythology which has inspired many people to embrace Asia. I.e. OA has made a significant positive difference in overcoming racism. Any truly politically conscious person can easily find actual racism, OBVIOUS racism, going on in the world today.

I urge you all to:

- quit trying to interpret OA in a negative way;
- acknowledge the positive difference OA made against racism;
- join me in real anti-racist activism, like ending the current anti-China propaganda in the media, stopping targetting China with U.S. nukes, closing the U.S.A.'s 400+ military bases in Asia and bringing the...See more
Customer avatar
Corey C February 15, 2021 9:19 pm UTC
A print on demand version of this book would be nice.
Customer avatar
Ian V February 23, 2021 4:03 am UTC
I sent an email to Wizard 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'. So that's that, then.
Customer avatar
Sam C December 19, 2020 12:54 pm UTC
Don’t read the comments, the book isn’t being discussed, just the disclaimer. The scan is fine if that’s what you’re looking for :)
Customer avatar
Ian V October 27, 2020 11:32 am UTC
My only question is: "Why doesn't this have a print on demand option?!" This was one of the best selling, most enjoyed books of 1e AD&D. I don't know anyone who doesn't like this book (who has actually read it).
Customer avatar
Ian V November 04, 2020 2:09 am UTC
Re: the disclaimer.
Daniel Kwan, the author of the 5e book Unbreakable, called for a ban of the book claiming that "by lumping together Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Philippine, and “Southeast Asian” lore [Oriental Adventures] reinforced western culture’s already racist understanding of the “Orient.” This seems to be a case of Mr. Kwan actively trying to be insulted. You could say the exact same thing about ALL of Dungeons and Dragons: By lumping together British, Greek, German, Italian and French lore, the entire Dungeons and Dragons range created by Gary Gygax reinforces American culture's already racist and incorrect understanding of "the European Middle Ages." You could say this, but you'd be completely missing the point. AD&D/D&D was created as a fantasy game and did a pretty good job of creating a fun setting to play in. David Cook did a good job of creating a fun Eastern setting that was respectful of the people he depicted. Was it a completely accurate...See more
Customer avatar
Marc S November 24, 2020 8:34 pm UTC
Thank you for your sanity
Customer avatar
Joe S February 02, 2021 5:22 pm UTC
I would point out that the sourcebook heavily favors Japanese culture and thus the playtesters probably wouldn't have felt underrepresented. The fantasy Korea "Koryo" is a literal appropriation of one of their dynasties names, and the precious little information on it is quite literally a copy & paste of a few historical names and some very inappropriate blanket statements about how they are an unwelcoming people. Daniel Kwan is not Japanese, and he and a panel of other Asian members of the D&D community had a great panel that they shared on YouTube that discuss what the issues are with writing Asian games that explains in much better detail why Oriental Adventures was a problematic production.
Customer avatar
Michael M March 09, 2021 8:16 pm UTC
What do you expect from a book with 140 pages? To write fantasy books that represent every aspect of every Asian culture would be 1000s of pages. Even Kwan and his bunch mix cultures in thier own games and works. It took them 28 hours to read a book with less than 150 pages and they like your dont say a word about the bibliography to learn real facts or the Asian play-testers etc. But they do spend time on the pages they are on with paper covering the parts to make fun of the white sounding names.. Mr. Kwan has no issue mashing up western myth. His whole 28 hour thing boils down to the wrong color people wrote it and whites should stay in thier lane. Rice is not racist and buildings cant be racist but they say they are.. COM is not a racist stat but they spend a hour talking about how it makes Asian men fem, and how it was not used in any other book which is a flat out lie, it was introduced in Unearthed Arcana. You and others like you wont even factcheck what Kwan has said all you do is parrot it, that is why...See more
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Michael M March 09, 2021 8:48 pm UTC
And also maybe if you did a little research you would know Koryo was a kingdom founded in Goryeo in 918 when Korea was a nation of three waring states, and it was a very xenophobic kingdom, there is a book about it referenced in the bibliography but you cant be bothered to read it "precious little information".. So in your mind saying a nation is unwelcoming is an issue even if it is a fact. I have read almost all of the books from the bibliography in OA and if it was not for OA I would of never even knew they existed. Here are just a small sample of the suggested reading you call "little information" they used all of these and more for OA but it was only 144 pages so yeah, I guess it is to hard for people to actualy do any of the reading books suggest or ever mention it...
Birch, Cyril (tran.). Stories From a Ming Collection
Blofeld, John. Taolst Mysteries and Magic
Chan, Albert. The Glory and Fall of the Ming Dynasty
Dennys, N. B.. Folklore of China
+ Draeger,...See more
Customer avatar
Michael M March 09, 2021 9:01 pm UTC
The book by Dr Yang Jwing-Ming, Introduction to Ancient Chinese Weapons actualy mentions chopsticks as weapons but Kwan calls it racist because he could not be bothered to read any of the books either.. All he wanted was to get votes to win an award, he could not be bothered to factcheck anything or even to actualy understand how AD&D is played, that is why he calls universal stats and mechanics that are applied to all races and peoples racist.
Customer avatar
Joe S March 22, 2021 4:20 am UTC
You may have missed the part where I mentioned that "Koryo" was an appropriated name taken from a previous dynasty of Korea. I have done plenty of research - forgive the assumption (I'll bring that up at the end of my post), but it's probably a great deal more than you - in regarding Korea and its place in D&D history.

As you pointed Goryeo - it is the exact same dynasty as Koryo, however it is an alternate spelling and uses the Revised Romanization system that Seoul switched over to after the turn of the millennium. Koryo uses the McCune Reischauer spelling which was the go-to and still is for most US Military documentation.

I'll start addressing your first post but you had a lot of thoughts and multiple posts, and I will as well. While I'd like to cover everything in detail, I'm also engaged in typing up my senior thesis project on how D&D failed to respectfully represent Korea, and how a well-researched one should be presented.
I'll also note that David Kwan...See more
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Joe S March 22, 2021 4:35 am UTC
And of course I call him David at least once. That was my mistake, and I'll have to get better at that. :/
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Mark C March 23, 2021 6:31 pm UTC
So even though he added more to the topic you accuse him of not doing research then repeat what he says. The point he is making is a book that is 140 pages can't cover every Asian culture and mentioning cultures with seeds for the DM to develop is not racist. You seem to think that fantasy has to be reality. If you think OA is fact you need to stop playing AD&D. Also Mr. Kwan did not research it, he did not bother to even google the people who wrote the book. Did you even watch the 28 hour "deep read". If what you want is 100% realistic fantasy and all of it factual and as in-depth as the books Mitch mentions for 5e then you will never get a 5e OA. Also Mr. Kwan most assuredly wishes it banned he posted that on his twitter feed. "make amends for over 30 years of slights. " are you serious? They handled all cultures the same white, black, Asian, they mix them and make FANTASY! D&D is not a recreation of any time or culture even the weapons span a 1000 years the armor it mixes roman,...See more
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Mark C March 23, 2021 6:56 pm UTC
And yes I see you agree with Mr Kwan the wrong color people wrote fantasy based on Asians. But if an Asian wrote a game about Vikings I doubt we would be having this discussion.. Even if they "appropriated" real names and added fantasy like the exact same thing as they did in OA I doubt you would blink an eye... In your world whites just need to stop writing, if you write about other cultures you are racist but if you dont you are not inclusive. This whole topic is a waste of time, if you dont like the book dont use it but acting like it comes from a hateful place is IMHO evil and only hurts the gaming community, the same as the Christians in the 80s this is the Satanic Panic of the 2020s. But hey you do you...
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Michael M March 23, 2021 9:22 pm UTC
This is your issue with OA? "it's the fictional representation of a past people that's not grounded in reality." you do understand what fantasy is right? If you are going to D&D books to learn real history you need to revalue your sources. AD&D is fantasy, just like Mark says. You keep saying Japan but it is not Japan it is a fantasy version of Asian culture for a GAME! If you want to learn REAL culture read the suggested reading which is 1000s of pages of REAL FACTS, NOT a 140 page FANTASY GAME book. You say you learned Real Asian culture and not "just" anime, video games etc.. SO why do you feel a table top RPG should be any dif than anime, video games and other Asian fantasy? I am done talking with you, if this was a book saying it is real culture, meant to be real culture that is one thing but it is not and never claimed to be an academic work. IT IS A GAME no more hurtful than anime or kung fu movies.. There are so many real issues in this world but you strike me as one of those...See more
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Michael M March 23, 2021 9:40 pm UTC
And Kara-Tur is no more real than the Leaf Village or Gotham if you watch Batman to learn about New York you are in error just like you are in error to think Kara-Tur is a real guide to culture. Do you think the Leaf Village = Japan? IDK how folks like you could ever be happy, what do you expect from a 140 page game book? How real should D&D be? How much change do you want? All of D&D is fantasy versions of cultures and it spans centuries in time, and miles in scope and mixes all kinds of myth and lore.. Core D&D is not real European culture just as OA is not real Asian culture.. It is fantasy.. A game. It was never meant to be real.. You will never be happy you will always find somthing to be offended over..
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Mark C March 24, 2021 5:56 pm UTC
It is funny you bring up Mr. Kwan's adventure in Candlekeep Mysteries "Monks of the Immortal Lotus." He himself uses tropes in that adventure that he calls racist in his videos. His other books use the same tropes as well. If a non-Asian person wrote Monks of the Immortal Lotus I am sure he would be doing a deep read of it right now for clicks and calling it problematic. I have no issue with you and others having feelings about the books but when you decide to say others are "wrong" for enjoying them that is where I have issue. The book is no more harmful than any other Asian fantasy. When you decide you should be able to decide how others access or sell said books that is problematic.. If OA is racist to you so is anime, kung fu movies, and all the other Asian fantasy that does not use facts but uses made up fantasy.
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Amber D March 31, 2021 3:35 pm UTC
" It was the government of Korea that didn't accept foreigners" Actually this is very wrong, the people of Korea at that time were xenophobic in the extreme and even what we would call racist today both old meaning and structural. They saw other humans as less than them and not the same and promoted that as part of the structure of how things should be. There is writing from the period and culture (meaning by them and not an outside culture) that backs that up. Writing uncomfortable facts about an ancient people or even basing fantasy off of them is not racist. My ancestors practiced ritual cannibalism as an example I would not be upset if they wrote about it, but some would I guess... Uncomfortable facts unfortunately are still facts..
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John M October 01, 2020 7:18 pm UTC
POD plz!!!!
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