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

Sleeper

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#21
From memory, I think the rules confused me. I do feel like generalizing them would make sense for a certain kind of D&D game. Certainly not every game, but a definite option for certain campaigns. I feel like as-implemented it's a little weird because the Martial Arts character and the standard Fighter (or local equivalent) has a very different level of abstraction.
Plus, someone can spend 2 proficiency slots in karate and do 3d10 damage per round at 1st level.

So, yeah, more tables in Oriental Adventures than the Player's Handbook.
It's also longer. 144 vs. 128 pages.
 
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AbdulAlhazred

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#22
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'.

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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.
I think if you were to (in the US) call someone 'an Oriental' it might seem like you were TRYING to be offensive/belligerent, which of course WOULD be. The word itself is neutral enough, roughly equivalent to 'European' or even 'American' when applied to cultural or regional subjects, though its vague enough not to be super useful. In this sense it has the same issue as 'African', which covers such a huge diversity of almost unrelated cultures as to simply be a grab-bag term. East Asian is somewhat better, at least you're probably talking about China, Japan, Korea, and perhaps South-East Asia, which is itself at least specific enough to be as useful as 'Western Europe'. Anyway, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find an adjective or phrase to use on this book that would replace 'Oriental'. Certainly its main audience, American gamers, had no trouble figuring out what it was about.

I always kind of wondered why there weren't any follow-on books, like 'African Adventures' or such. 2e had some source books that dealt with various European cultures, but TSR never really comprehensively covered a lot of interesting ones. There was never anything covering South Asia, Africa, etc.

While OA was a 'later' 1e book, it was far from the last. WSG and DSG took the same "1.5" concepts that were in OA and built on them. Unearthed Arcana also added some elements there, and all of that lead up to the 2e NWP system, for what that was worth. AD&D never really did value its skill system that much though. I always got the impression Gygax wasn't a fan.
 

neutrondecay

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#23
There's also a brief early reference here to the default OA setting of Kara-Tur. He mentions something I've heard before, which is that some of the Kara-Tur nations cover not just various Far East nations, but sometimes specific eras. It would be like a 'default' D&D setting having a nation that is specifically Renaissance Italy adjacent and coexisting with Medieval France, which is a little awkward unless you explain it somehow, but is pretty popular in fantasy, I feel.
In OA/Kara-Tur, we have a particular issue that we more or less have several Chinas and several Japans, but no real Korea and no Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, etc at all. It would be like having a 'Europe' with Carolingian France, France during the wars of the Armagnacs and Burgundians, France under Louis XIV, England in the Heptarchy, England in the Anarchy, and Britain immediately after the accession of James I/VI in England - but no HRE, PLC, Italy, etc.

I always kind of wondered why there weren't any follow-on books, like 'African Adventures' or such. 2e had some source books that dealt with various European cultures, but TSR never really comprehensively covered a lot of interesting ones. There was never anything covering South Asia, Africa, etc.
There was Arabian Adventures, which was under-appreciated IMHO.

nd
 

AbdulAlhazred

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#25
In OA/Kara-Tur, we have a particular issue that we more or less have several Chinas and several Japans, but no real Korea and no Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, etc at all. It would be like having a 'Europe' with Carolingian France, France during the wars of the Armagnacs and Burgundians, France under Louis XIV, England in the Heptarchy, England in the Anarchy, and Britain immediately after the accession of James I/VI in England - but no HRE, PLC, Italy, etc.
Yeah, I never really thought that much of Kara-Tur per se. Its not completely bad, but it is a pretty limited 'Fantasy Far East'. I think the audience probably accounts for that to a large extent. Most of them were probably exposed to things like 'Kung Fu' and various HK martial arts movies, and probably a smattering of Japanese 60's and 70's monster and samurai movies, etc. So they included various aspects of China and Japan, but the folklore of the rest of SE Asia, and Korea, not to mention Central Asia, just wasn't very current. Nowadays we're much more exposed to it, but I can remember back then I really knew nothing substantive and would have had to go check books out of a library to find out much. And TBH probably the bulk of what I really knew then about Chinese and Japanese folklore came from D&D anyway!

There was Arabian Adventures, which was under-appreciated IMHO.

nd
Yeah, it grew to be modestly substantive in the 2e era. They never really covered Central Asia, or South Asia though, and the Dark Continent remained pretty much dark. There was Maztica that covered pre-Columbian Central America, and then some later FR stuff that grafted Kara-Tur into FR, as well as Al-Qadim. I suppose they were so flush with campaign settings by the mid-90s that any thought of doing more cultures was off the table.
 

InfernalTeddy

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#26
In OA/Kara-Tur, we have a particular issue that we more or less have several Chinas and several Japans, but no real Korea and no Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, etc at all. It would be like having a 'Europe' with Carolingian France, France during the wars of the Armagnacs and Burgundians, France under Louis XIV, England in the Heptarchy, England in the Anarchy, and Britain immediately after the accession of James I/VI in England - but no HRE, PLC, Italy, etc.
To be honest though, that does describe a lot of fantasy settings I've seen...
 

procproc

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#27
Plus, someone can spend 2 proficiency slots in karate and do 3d10 damage per round at 1st level.
This is my main recollection of playing OA. We played a mixed campaign (with the PHB and Unearthed Arcana), and I was playing a wu jen. I managed to roll an 18 con (+2 hp a level since I wasn't a fighter) and wu jen get an extra +1hp/lvl, so my d4+3 hp per level put me on par with the fighters in beefiness and my Iron Fist got 2 attacks a round at 1d10 per hit. Compared to the Raistlin-esque wizard with 3hp and a dagger, I was a veritable killing machine, even ignoring the fact that I was a primary caster.
 

randlathor66

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#28
Plus, someone can spend 2 proficiency slots in karate and do 3d10 damage per round at 1st level.
I had a wizard/wu-jen in my recent AD&D 1E game do just that. The first time tried the flying kick (which does the 3d10 damage) he rolled a 1. It was funny.

BTW: Are you going to go over why the TSR UK books tended to fall apart more? I don't think I have seen an OA or UA that didn't have its pages falling out.
 
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NPCDave

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#30
It's definitely one of the most interesting subsystems in old school D&D, along with Blackmoor psionics, BECMI weapon mastery, and 2e's unarmed combat. There's a tradeoff with more powerful abilities having more severe consequences on a failure, it ranks and groups abilities, and it's built into the proficiency system. I'd like to generalize and expand it, and turn it into a generic combat style system that can cover everything from gladiatorial fighting, to knightly swordplay, and iaijutsu. You wouldn't learn "rapier" or even "fencing", you'd learn the specific style taught by a specific master who knows a specific set of maneuvers and weapons, and finding and choosing masters would be like finding magical items, i.e. varying from character to character and game to game (serendipitous; no "builds"). I'd also like to use the basic concept to replace specialists, schools, and spheres and even Vancian casting with magical styles passed down from master to student, as well.
One of the OA modules, OA5 Mad Monkey vs Dragon Claw, introduced a new form of martial art the PCs would need to master in order to confront the great threat of the NPC villains in that adventure. A sentence in there stated something along the lines of...this is not a real martial art. That sentence confused me for so long, were they telling me the other martial arts from the OA rules are real? I think what they meant to say was that this particular martial art was completely made up and not based on any real world fighting style so don't try and compare it or send us letters about how we did it wrong.
 
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