• Don't link to the video of the Christchurch shooting, or repost links to the shooter's manifesto.

[Let's Read] Oriental Adventures (1e)

MacBalance

Registered User
Validated User
#1
I like to think this is a 'big deal' as it's one of the major books of the 1e canon.

Here's the cover:



Oriental Adventures is a weird book. it's one of the last first edition books, and is interesting as it can almost be used as a 'core' book. This Let's Read will explore that idea... To what extent can Oriental Adventures be used in place of the AD&D 1e Player's Handbook?

Overall, I feel like this may have been an attempt at repackaging D&D: Changing the model (which was barely established at that point, but had sold well) of PHB+DMG to something more like DMG+Setting-Specific PHB as the ‘core’ for the game.

Political Correctness Note: ‘Oriental’ is a little iffy term these days, at best. It seems to be relatively safe when used to describe a portion of the world in a sense that it’s more specific than the continent of Asia. I consider it equal to the term ‘European’ in many cases as being a term that encompasses a lot of territory with a lot of people. At the same time, it is, at least locally (East Coast, USA) offensive to apply to a person, for which the proper country of origin should be used if it’s brought up at all. I’m using it as a title and will try to stick to ‘Asian’ if I’m unable to go to more specific terms. I apologize if I’m offending someone, and will attempt to modify future usage once I realize I am doing so. Please let me know so I can revise my behavior.

Like many D&D works, it’s also a mix of concepts and lore from a wide range of different cultures and people. It is heavily influenced by myths and legends, even the potentially exploitative movies of the era. I’m not a historian, and I’ll probably miss a lot of references along the way. I'm hopeful others will point them out.

OA is credited to Gary Gygax, but Shannon Applecline’s Designers and Dragons attributed it to David "Zeb” Cook as the actual creator. It’s a bit confusing, perhaps Gygax is given top billing as the mechanics are essentially AD&D1.5. Dave ‘Zeb’ Cook listed as 'Oriental Adventures Design' on the Special Thanks and Credits page (Gygax's name is on the preceding Title page and here as well). As with many of the D&D core book, there's a long list of credits of people involved: Gygax is credited for the AD&D game and the OA concept (the latter with Francois Marcela-Froideval). There's four editors, three names for Product Design, three for typography, three more for keylining, and a final three for proofreaders.

Alternatively, this was part of the power struggles that TSR had and Gygax was listed first for political reasons.

The ‘Special Thanks’ section does include five Japanese players who were consulted and offered last minute advice. Again, it should probably be pointed out that this book was written without the internet that would allow for easier communication and research. Imagine what a difference even cheap phone service or email would make to such project!

Also a few pieces of art got special credits. A few art pieces were taken from Ernst Lehner's Symbols, Signs and Signets book. Another weird instance of TSR going outside their internal artists for art, something that I don't think was common.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
#2
I've been playing with the martial arts system a lot lately, so this should be interesting.

I don't think there's an acceptable term for the region, anymore. "Oriental" was never a good choice, because it was basically used to describe all the peoples and nations along the eastern trade routes from Europe (especially the Silk Road), so it never precisely identified the region covered by the book, anyway. "Asian", while more acceptable, is even less exact because it not only includes Arabia and India and China, but Micronesia and Russia. OA is really about the "Far East", though that's another term that's fallen out of favor. I don't know of an acceptable replacement term, other than awkwardly mentioning all the countries involved every time (i.e. OA covers Japan and China, with a touch of other lands like Korea).
 
Last edited:

LibraryLass

Feminazgûl
Validated User
#3
I've been playing with the martial arts system a lot lately, so this should be interesting.

I don't think there's an acceptable term for the region, anymore. "Oriental" was never a good choice, because it was basically used to describe all the peoples and nations along the eastern trade routes from Europe (especially the Silk Road), so it never precisely identified the region covered by the book, anyway. "Asian", while more acceptable, is even less exact because it not only includes Arabia and India and China, but Micronesia and Russia. OA is really about the "Far East", though that's another term that's fallen out of favor. I don't know of an acceptable replacement term, other than awkwardly mentioning all the countries involved every time (i.e. OA covers Japan and China, with a touch of other lands like Korea).
Asia-Pacific?
 

spudeus

Killa Kouch Potato
Validated User
#4
Yeah, this volume has 'Zeb' Cook's fingerprints all over it. A huge fan of Japanese monster movies, he made sure they got an entry!
 
Last edited:

randlathor66

Registered User
Validated User
#6
Subscribed.

Loved this when it came out, and even used it a couple of years ago for a character in a retro-AD&D 1E campaign that ran for almost a year. (Which was a record long for me at the time...)
 

NPCDave

Registered User
Validated User
#7
A long time ago back in the 1980s, I played in a couple of 1E campaigns, which eventually merged into one. To kick things off, there was a battle royal between the two PC parties, but one side had a player that had taken a kensai warrior from OA that really abused the rules. During the battle royal, this 2nd level kensai killed another player's 5th or 6th level fighter in two or three rounds of combat. For years and years afterward, the two players of those characters would hang out with the DM who allowed the kensai build. Anytime that game was brought up, the fighter player would get annoyed and punch the DM in the shoulder.
 

randlathor66

Registered User
Validated User
#8
A long time ago back in the 1980s, I played in a couple of 1E campaigns, which eventually merged into one. To kick things off, there was a battle royal between the two PC parties, but one side had a player that had taken a kensai warrior from OA that really abused the rules. During the battle royal, this 2nd level kensai killed another player's 5th or 6th level fighter in two or three rounds of combat. For years and years afterward, the two players of those characters would hang out with the DM who allowed the kensai build. Anytime that game was brought up, the fighter player would get annoyed and punch the DM in the shoulder.
I got something along that line (sort of):

Back in the late 80's, when I was in the Marine Corps and serving in Okinawa, I ran an Oriental Adventures campaign for about 8-10 other jarheads. Well, our unit - and some others, of course - went to the big island for some maneuvers at the Mt. Fuji basecamp. Long story short: we got snowed in for a few days, my group grew to about 20 (about half of which never gamed before) and had a hoot doing my best at choreographing the fights, handing out pluses and minuses depending upon what the players came up with for martial-arts maneuvers. The connection: one player quit playing RPGs altogether because I said he fumbled when he rolled a one on an attack, which caused him to drop his weapon and fall down. Sure, this was a long time ago and I was fairly new to GMing so I probably made the fumble worse than it needed to be. But to quite completely because of a single bad die roll, sheesh.
 

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
#9
I think you should fomat all your posts to a sans-serif font with no line breaks to properly catch the spirit of the book.... ;)

Side note: "Oriental" is not considered derogatory here in the UK. It's pretty old-fashioned, though.
 

Zedth

New member
Banned
#10
There is in actuality absolutely nothing wrong with the term 'Oriental'. It is not offensive in any way except to someone looking to be offended. It describes a geographical area, nothing more, nothing less. The PC culture in the modern world is really winning the battle when we're afraid to use simple benign terminology. It is no different than saying 'South American' or 'African'.

------

I remember this book as one that helped spark my imagination about the wonders of D&D. My buddy who introduced me to D&D had this one on his shelf, and we used it for inspiration for our characters and adventures. Mind you, we were playing 2e, but it was still good content worthy of use.

Edit- I fully agree with Leonaru - it is certainly an old-fashioned term.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom