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

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
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You better think twice before approaching a tree in Kara-Tur. There's like a dozen tree spirits in OA/KT.
 

Gemini476

Registered User
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I found the Buso in the Encyclopedia of Spirits and Ghosts in World Mythology, which Google was helpful enough to link to - apparently they're from Bagabo mythology in the southern Philippines.

Googling for the Bagabo (and adding "phillipines" to the search, to distinguish it from various places in Nigeria and Uganda) gave me a page with this:
Buso - Evil spirits who eat dead people and have some power to injure the living. A young Bagabo described his idea of a buso as follows: "He has a long body, long feet and neck, curly hair, and black face, flat nose, and one big red or yellow eye. He has big feet and fingers, but small arms, and his two big teeth are long and pointed. Like a dog he goes about eating anything, even dead persons."
Tagamaling (a type of buso) - A cannibalistic creature that is kind to humans one month but eats them on the next month.
Tigbanua (A type of Buso) - These beings are the most feared of the Buso since, not content with digging up corpses, they are forever trying to kill live humans to eat.


So if it's a racism thing it's one that TSR inherited from whichever book on Phillipine mythology they took it from, where the author in question probably just inherited it from the Bagabo people themselves somewhere further down the line.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
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Interesting background on the Cat Lord. I didn't know it appeared in Gygax's novels or had Moorcockian roots.
I doubt the Greyhawkian cat lord is based on Moorcock's Meerclar; aside from the cat connection, they don't seem much alike. He more likely comes from the Celtic myths. Could have even been adapted from a Dragon magazine story -- Gillian Fitzgerald's "King Of the Cats" appeared in issue 67, and the eponymous rogue in that tale is very similar to Gygax's version. Though the timing is close: While that issue was published in November 1982, and the Monster Manual II (where AD&D's cat lord first appeared, IIRC) didn't come out until the next year (1983), Gygax's forward in that book is dated October 1982.

But whatever the origin, the cat lord definitely became an important part of Gygax's Greyhawk stories -- even the very first Gord story, "At Moonset Blackcat Comes", featured him. (That story was published in Dragon #100 as a teaser, promoting the forthcoming Saga of Old City and Artifact of Evil novels.)

The Buso comes in two variants, the Tigbanus and the Tagamaling. No real definitive wikipedia results, but Tigbanua may have some ties to the Tagbanwa people of the Phillipines, although I'm hoping that's just a similar term and not an unfortunate bit of racism as the Buso here is the local version of a Ghoul, a single-eyed, very thin, creature that preys on humanity.
No, looks like it's drawn from mythological sources. Here's a story that has the tagamaling and tigbanus as types of buso:
https://books.google.com/books?id=fUxIAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA50&lpg=PA50&dq=Tagamaling&source=bl&ots=YAVZqSyjp3&sig=XeSr3aSh9mfYVjO9U1q83I_MhuU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjnhsOEo4rQAhUF5yYKHdrWCU0Q6AEIQjAL#v=onepage&q&f=false

It's interesting there are already a couple monsters from southeast Asia, instead of Japan, China, or Korea.
 

Alban

Registered User
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After the Bajang is the Bakemono which is the local version of a goblin and is actually described as being a "cousin" implying a genetic link. It's got similar stats, but a different treasure type and they're now Chaotic instead of Lawful. They're much more random in appearance, with no two bakemono being identical and many have small features like wings, hooves, etc. that mercifully have no attached mechanics.

However, this is one of those monsters with complex guidelines on social structure. A band is ruled by an oni (coming soon) or ogre mage (from the MM) and gets a lieutenant for every 20 bakemono in the band. Their preferred lair being abandoned (possibly due to the bakemono) temples and villages is a neat touch, and we get a 40% chance they build a wooden wall.

The DM is expected to assign weapons to the band and is given a table of percentages to do so. Most will have spears, while a lucky few will have either katana or chain and shuriken. This replaces their d6 damage. 20% of a large force also have AC5 due to poorly maintained and altered pieces of armor worn.

They get four languages but are otherwise not too bright. They like to drink.

It's essentially a goblin. The complex guidelines are a neat idea, but I'd prefer the base to be that they do X damage with "improvised weapons" and maybe a note that some use bows or other ranged weapons. They're not going to be scary to adventurers for long.
Originally, "bakemono" (litterally "Thing that changes") is a name that designates shapeshifting monsters,and is a term that is more or less synonymous with Hengeyôkai.
It is strange that Oriental Adventures used this name for some kind of oriental goblin.
 
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Gemini476

Registered User
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...I'm not entirely sure, but googling around it looks like "goblin" was a common translation of "bakemono" back in the day?

It's worth noting that the western "goblin" is also a pretty broad overarching group that got split up in D&D - although The Hobbit is probably to blame for that one.
 

Kakita Kojiro

IL-series Cylon
RPGnet Member
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Originally, "bakemono" (litterally "Thing that changes") is a name that designates shapeshifting monsters,and is a term that is more or less synonymous with Hengeyôkai.
It is strange that Oriental Adventures used this name for some kind of oriental goblin.
And it's another bit of weirdness that got transferred from D&D to L5R. The L5R CCG had very non-Japanese goblins, ogres, and trolls. And a distinct lack of Yōkai-type monsters - or even of classical Oni (L5R Oni are quite different than Japanese Oni). At some point, L5R picked up "Bakemono" as its translation for "Goblin" - not terribly surprising, given the general wonkiness of L5R Japanese - but it seems likely that was taken from Oriental Adventures (as was, later, the Kenku).

Then, when 3e Oriental Adventures came out with Rokugan replacing Kara-Tur as the setting, its Bakemono became the L5R-Goblin-translated-bakemono, instead of the original D&D goblinlike-Bakemono. It's all weirdly circular.
 

MacBalance

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You better think twice before approaching a tree in Kara-Tur. There's like a dozen tree spirits in OA/KT.
Never has a truer sentence been spoken. Annoying/cruel DMs can also have an Ent or Dryad far from home stop by to add to the confusion.

I think the key is we have one that is ultimately benevolent and one malevolent. The benevolent Bisan isn't Good in any sense, but you can deal with it. It's OK with harvesting fruit and other products and is even OK with dead tree removal as long as the price is paid. The Bisan wants to coexist. The Bajang on the other hand wants to eat you and all your friends.

Good to hear the Buso isn't unintentionally maligning an ethic group. It is interesting how we've already gotten several monsters that are outside the expected bulk of Chinese and Japanese monsters.

I feel like the Cat Lord has received more attention in this thread than in the D&D canon since 2e!

Bakemono are 'chaotic' goblins in a physical sense. That may be a vestige of a shape-changing concept. They are described as "cousins to the western goblin" but it's ultimately the DM's calla s to if this is meant in a metaphorical or genetic sense.

Next in the book is the Carp, Giant. This is a 20'-30' fish, so quite large. It's a freshwater fish and comes in variants ranging from 8 HD to 12 HD. They also get a swallow special attack, in which any attack that does more than 12 damage (attacks being 2-20 normally) swallows a creature of a specified size (the 8 HD can swallow dog-sized creatures, while the 12 HD can swallow an ogre!). Swallowed targets only take 1 HP per round, but have a cumulative 5% chance per round of suffocating. The swallowed PC can fight back and even cut themselves out, which requires doing damage equal to 50% of the big fish's HP.

It is noted that a single giant carp can feed a village for quite a while.

Fun Giant Carp anecdote: The PC game Dwarf Fortress went through a period where carp could be extremely vicious. What happened is that since DF is an extremely simulations game, fish had to swim to maintain position against water flow. This meant they were constantly using Strength. This meant that the fishies' strength constantly increased due to use, and there was no real cap. So a carp that swam would eventually bit a dwarf so hard it could pierce armor.

Last for now is the Con-Tinh which is another lesser spirit with a tree connection. In this case, they're bound to an old tree that can be attacked to hurt the spirit. A Con-tinh, which appears to be from Vietnamese roots, is a spirit of a maiden who died before their time. They hide in the branches of their tree during the day and come out at night to attack people.

They have mediocre 1-6 damage in combat, but get two special abilities:

First, they can laugh 3 times a day which is a 20' radius attack that causes insanity that lowers the PC's intelligence and wisdom to 2. This requires a Heal spell to remove the insanity.

They can also possess a target once a night, which allows them to be active during the day. They're also immune to weapons of less than +2 enchantment, making them touch to kill.

Oh, and destroying their tree curses the PC who does the deed.

So... Yet another tree-spirit, albeit a slightly different one.This one, at least, gets the 'maid killed before their time' aspect to make it more interesting.
 

Gemini476

Registered User
Validated User
Fun Giant Carp anecdote: The PC game Dwarf Fortress went through a period where carp could be extremely vicious. What happened is that since DF is an extremely simulations game, fish had to swim to maintain position against water flow. This meant they were constantly using Strength. This meant that the fishies' strength constantly increased due to use, and there was no real cap. So a carp that swam would eventually bit a dwarf so hard it could pierce armor.
It's a bit simpler than that, sadly - it's just that in one of the older versions of the game getting ranks in skills increased your attributes (hence you'd lock up a bookeeper for a few months and they'd come out superhuman from all that skilling they'd done). And then, well, the developer forgot to make sure that fish - which swim literally all the time - don't level up their Swimming skill. Whoops!

Now, the whole semi-recent drunk cat bug was more of a simulation issue - dwarves spilled alcohol from their mugs, so it got splattered on the ground, so when cats walked on it their feet got wet, so they licked their feet (added simultaneously with eyelids - don't ask), which means that they ingested the alcohol - the only real bug there was that they still got a full dose when licking the splatter off their feet (i.e. a full mug), and thus got alcohol poisoning and vomited all over the place and in some cases died. The whole thing was entirely unintentional, though, and just a weird interaction of various subsystems.


Ahem. Anyway, Giant Carp have a 45% chance of swallowing people, and ones big enough to swallow humans will take (on average) 25hp of damage - you can get help from outside, but they take a -2 to trying to hit that specific spot and have a 20% chance of hitting a swallowed victim.
If you're a Fighter with a two-handed sword, you can probably cut yourself out in two turns - a magic-user with only a 1d3 damage vs. large opponents dagger is out of luck, though, and the Iron Fist practitioner might completely lack a sharp-edged weapon.

Those fishing trips sound like a good plot hook, though! Could be a pretty chill session.
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
Next in the book is the Carp, Giant. This is a 20'-30' fish, so quite large. It's a freshwater fish and comes in variants ranging from 8 HD to 12 HD. They also get a swallow special attack, in which any attack that does more than 12 damage (attacks being 2-20 normally) swallows a creature of a specified size (the 8 HD can swallow dog-sized creatures, while the 12 HD can swallow an ogre!). Swallowed targets only take 1 HP per round, but have a cumulative 5% chance per round of suffocating. The swallowed PC can fight back and even cut themselves out, which requires doing damage equal to 50% of the big fish's HP.

It is noted that a single giant carp can feed a village for quite a while.

Fun Giant Carp anecdote: The PC game Dwarf Fortress went through a period where carp could be extremely vicious. What happened is that since DF is an extremely simulations game, fish had to swim to maintain position against water flow. This meant they were constantly using Strength. This meant that the fishies' strength constantly increased due to use, and there was no real cap. So a carp that swam would eventually bit a dwarf so hard it could pierce armor.
All giant carp should be able to crush armor. Carp have a second set of teeth that allow them to break mollusk and crustacean shells. Anyone surviving being swallowed by a giant carp should find their mundane gear in ruins when they are spat out.
 

MacBalance

Registered User
Validated User
Ah, thanks for the corr cation on the DF carp. It's still a funny example of the game refusing shortcuts.

Death by giant carp, in any setting, is likely to be embarrassing.

Next up is the Doc Cu'o'c which is a greater spirit.i believe this may have been stated in D&D multiple ways, despite the strangely specific appearance as a half of a man's body split down the middle (so one leg, one arm) holding an axe. The axe does 1d8 damage but has a bonus electrical damage equal to the monster's current HP. They lair on the astral plane, which they can easily access with their array of at-will spell-like powers.

Did I mention this is a good spirit? Despite being pretty horrifying, this is a good spirit that actively protects against lesser spirits. Just don't make it mad by stealing from its Astral lair, which will cause it to wreck the area.

I've seen a few references that this spirit is Vietnamese in origin, adding another monster outside the expected Chinese/Japanese domination. I also remember seeing the concept in some other Let's Read threads, perhaps under a different name.

I feel like one of the best uses for this entity is a plot where the PCs must prevent an astral lair being raided. The Doc Cu'o'c isn't the enemy itself, but more the penalty for failure, especially if it guards a location of value like the area around a monastery or shrine. Alternately, attempting to defuse the creature's rampage could be an adventure as well, possibly for low level characters, although the description says the spirit moves its lair once it is raided.

Next up is the oriental dragons. This is a bit weird in that many were first introduced in fiend Folie, and I want to review those briefly before adding the new ones. That'll be the next update.
 
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