[Nippon] Endless Quest: Blade of the Young Samurai

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[Nippon] Endless Quest: Blade of the Young Samurai

Post by Big Mac » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:19 pm

According to Demian's Gamebook Web Page the Endless Quest book Blade of the Young Samurai is set in Nippon!:
Demian's Gamebook Web Page wrote:You are a young samurai sent by your emperor of Nippon to retrieve the three magical items that your now missing father searched for years ago.
Does anyone have Blade of the Young Samurai?
Image

What details does the book give about the Empire of Nippon? How many characters and factions are in the book? How easy would it be to adapt some of the plot-elements, characters and background information to tabletop play?

Are there any maps of Nippon (or locations within Nippon)? :)

Demian's Gamebook Web Page also has this mini-review:
Demian's Gamebook Web Page wrote:After a weak start, this book turns out to be a fairly satisfying fantasy quest containing some interesting locations and characters. The book's setting is a bit mysterious, though; it has little to do with the traditional Dungeons & Dragons game and was written before the Oriental Adventures expansion came out for AD&D. Also mysterious is how page 133 was accidentally left blank after the eleventh line of text. This problem was corrected in many copies of the book by the inclusion of a glossy sticker containing the missing text, though the error can't have been caught before the book was released, since I've managed to find an uncorrected copy showing no signs of a sticker.
So it seems that this is a different thing to Kara-Tur. I've been told that Kara-Tur was originally going to be located on the World of Greyhawk, but got moved to Forgotten Realms, and that there is a Greyhawk map with Nippon on it, so if this is different from Oriental Adventures, that would be a good thing.

So I would be especially interested in seeing how the world of Blade of the Young Samurai is different from Kara-Tur.

The printing issue with page 133 sounds like a bit of an problem. I'll have to contact anyone selling this book to make sure that page 133 is not stuffed up.

If anyone knows of a place online that has the missing page 133 text, I'd be grateful if they could point me at that missing text (or copy and paste it into this topic) as having access to the missing text would make it a lot easier to snap up a copy of this Nippon book.
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Re: [Nippon] Endless Quest: Blade of the Young Samurai

Post by willpell » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:35 pm

Uh, "Nippon" is just the Japanese word for Japan, dude... I am no expert on Greyhawk, but I'm not aware of there being a distinct kingdom named Nippon on it. More than likely, this is an example of the same trend as the original Monster Manual saying that Rakshashas "originally come from India"...Gary didn't always bother to clearly distinguish between Earth and Oerth, especially in the early days. His opinion was seemingly always that this stuff shouldn't be taken as seriously as we've all decided to take it, so he didn't really bother fussing over canonicity and contradictions. If he had a hand in writing this module, then it probably was just set in real-world Japan, albeit with D&D spells available to anyone who wasn't swayed by the chance to play a samurai. (Actually, it's not even a module, it's a CYOA book, so it probably just doesn't have anything in it which would contradict it actually being set in feudal Japan.)

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Re: [Nippon] Endless Quest: Blade of the Young Samurai

Post by Havard » Mon Dec 21, 2015 5:07 pm

willpell wrote:Uh, "Nippon" is just the Japanese word for Japan, dude... I am no expert on Greyhawk, but I'm not aware of there being a distinct kingdom named Nippon on it. More than likely, this is an example of the same trend as the original Monster Manual saying that Rakshashas "originally come from India"...Gary didn't always bother to clearly distinguish between Earth and Oerth, especially in the early days. His opinion was seemingly always that this stuff shouldn't be taken as seriously as we've all decided to take it, so he didn't really bother fussing over canonicity and contradictions. If he had a hand in writing this module, then it probably was just set in real-world Japan, albeit with D&D spells available to anyone who wasn't swayed by the chance to play a samurai. (Actually, it's not even a module, it's a CYOA book, so it probably just doesn't have anything in it which would contradict it actually being set in feudal Japan.)
Actually according to this map, there is a place called Nippon in Grehawk. Apprently this realm first appeared in Dragon Annual (1986) and was given a brief description there by Skip Williams. On the other hand, the Endless Quest game books were written for many different settings. It might well be that this book was indeed written with Earth in mind.

However, rereading Big Mac's question, it looks like he is more interested in adapting this book to Greyhawk rather than to get confirmation on whether the book i actually set there.

I found a nice fan writeup from our own Ripvanwormer over at the Canonfire! forum: http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php ... highlight=



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Re: [Nippon] Endless Quest: Blade of the Young Samurai

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:09 pm

Havard wrote:Apparently this realm first appeared in Dragon Annual (1986)
1996, rather. This is the map from the 1996 Dragon Annual, which was drawn by David Sutherland III. Apparently it's based on a map that had been sitting around in the TSR files for years, though. The article credited it to the creator of the setting, but Gary Gygax denied having anything to do with it. Possibly François Marcela-Froideval drew the original, since it contains many elements from his own campaign setting.
On the other hand, the Endless Quest game books were written for many different settings. It might well be that this book was indeed written with Earth in mind.
This seems most likely, considering the Dragon Annual map wouldn't be published for another 12 years, and that most Endless Quest books had nothing to do with Oerth.

I used to own a lot of Endless Quest books, and none of them had any substantial world-building. I don't think I owned Blade of the Young Samurai specifically, but I don't think there was room in that book's format, or for that book's target audience, for much detail on the setting in which it took place.
I found a nice fan writeup from our own Ripvanwormer over at the Canonfire! forum: http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php ... highlight=
I forgot I wrote that. The main thing I'd write differently now is that I don't think James Wyatt's Mahasarpa campaign is a good basis for the "Zindia" region. Mahasarpa was meant to be based more on Cambodia (complete with a Angkor Wat parallel) and the Myanmar/Thailand/Cambodia part of Southeast Asia would be more appropriately placed in the "Nippon Dominion" region of Oerth (and the other side of the peninsula should be based on Vietnam). I've actually started referring to that long southern peninsula as the "Mahasarpa Peninsula." It looks a bit serpentine.

I agree with my earlier self that the best real-world comparison to what the 1996 Sutherland map calls "Nippon" is probably the Majapahit Empire.

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Re: [Nippon] Endless Quest: Blade of the Young Samurai

Post by Big Mac » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:32 pm

Havard wrote:
willpell wrote:Uh, "Nippon" is just the Japanese word for Japan, dude... I am no expert on Greyhawk, but I'm not aware of there being a distinct kingdom named Nippon on it. More than likely, this is an example of the same trend as the original Monster Manual saying that Rakshashas "originally come from India"...Gary didn't always bother to clearly distinguish between Earth and Oerth, especially in the early days. His opinion was seemingly always that this stuff shouldn't be taken as seriously as we've all decided to take it, so he didn't really bother fussing over canonicity and contradictions. If he had a hand in writing this module, then it probably was just set in real-world Japan, albeit with D&D spells available to anyone who wasn't swayed by the chance to play a samurai. (Actually, it's not even a module, it's a CYOA book, so it probably just doesn't have anything in it which would contradict it actually being set in feudal Japan.)
Actually according to this map, there is a place called Nippon in Grehawk. Apprently this realm first appeared in Dragon Annual (1986) and was given a brief description there by Skip Williams. On the other hand, the Endless Quest game books were written for many different settings. It might well be that this book was indeed written with Earth in mind.
What Havard said, Willpell. Otherwise I would not have posted this in the Greyhawk forum. :)

My main line of question, at this point, is to find out if there is a map in Blade of the Young Samurai that matches the general shape of the Nippon on the Dragon Annual map. The information I see online suggests that this book is set in a D&D world, rather than a historical world. The presence or absense of spells may be able to to confirm if this is a fantasy Nippon, rather than Japan with a non-English name.
Havard wrote:However, rereading Big Mac's question, it looks like he is more interested in adapting this book to Greyhawk rather than to get confirmation on whether the book i actually set there.
I was more thinking of adapting Blade of the Young Samurai to the Nippon in Dragon Annual, than to mainstream Greyhawk. :)
Havard wrote:I found a nice fan writeup from our own Ripvanwormer over at the Canonfire! forum: http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php ... highlight=
I saw Ripvanwormer's topic earlier, when looking for information on Greyhawk's Nippon. But I couldn't find any hits when I looked for Blades of the Young Samurai, Nippon and Greyhawk.

I might have to buy a copy of the book myself. :o
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Re: [Nippon] Endless Quest: Blade of the Young Samurai

Post by Big Mac » Wed Dec 23, 2015 9:38 am

ripvanwormer wrote:
Havard wrote:On the other hand, the Endless Quest game books were written for many different settings. It might well be that this book was indeed written with Earth in mind.
This seems most likely, considering the Dragon Annual map wouldn't be published for another 12 years, and that most Endless Quest books had nothing to do with Oerth.
Back then, most of them, including this one, seem to be labelled as having the setting of "Dungeons & Dragons". I don't know if they were thinking of them being like Original Dungeons & Dragons, with the reader expected to invent their own world around the story, or if they had a default setting (Greyhawk or Blackmoor) in mind. Or if they were thinking of them all going into the Known World. Or they might have even been thinking of building up an Endless Quest world that had its own laws of nature that made "choose your own adventure" stories work better.

I'm actually looking at this from the other direction. This story featured Nippon and then Oerth featured Nippon. So here is the angle I'm coming from: Was someone trying to retcon the world of this book into Oerth?
ripvanwormer wrote:I used to own a lot of Endless Quest books, and none of them had any substantial world-building. I don't think I owned Blade of the Young Samurai specifically, but I don't think there was room in that book's format, or for that book's target audience, for much detail on the setting in which it took place.
I've got several Endless Quest books, but they are from the second run, where the campaign setting logos were on the books. The only one I have read so far is the Wildspace book: A Wild Ride. That features The Rock of Bral and Wildspace, from the Spelljammer campaign setting.

If this features information about Nippon, then I would like to learn about the Nippon from this book and compare it with the Nippon mentioned in Greyhawk.
ripvanwormer wrote:
Havard wrote:I found a nice fan writeup from our own Ripvanwormer over at the Canonfire! forum: http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php ... highlight=
I forgot I wrote that. The main thing I'd write differently now is that I don't think James Wyatt's Mahasarpa campaign is a good basis for the "Zindia" region. Mahasarpa was meant to be based more on Cambodia (complete with a Angkor Wat parallel) and the Myanmar/Thailand/Cambodia part of Southeast Asia would be more appropriately placed in the "Nippon Dominion" region of Oerth (and the other side of the peninsula should be based on Vietnam). I've actually started referring to that long southern peninsula as the "Mahasarpa Peninsula." It looks a bit serpentine.

I agree with my earlier self that the best real-world comparison to what the 1996 Sutherland map calls "Nippon" is probably the Majapahit Empire.
From what you have there, it looks like TSR never really explained what Nippon was meant to be.

I'm going to guess that their early pre-Oriental Adventures concept for Nippon was far less sophisticated than what you have proposed and that it was more like the Historical Reference series of books that came out in the 2e era.

I think that TSR struggled to find the right mix of taking inspiration of real-world cultures, without looking like they were making cartoon copies of them. I'm glad they attempted it, because I generally like what they did. I do think they might have done a better job, but everyone has to learn how to do these things. I think that these things have opened the door to more refined concepts to follow on and attempt "improve" on the earlier concepts.

So I'm looking forward to learning about Nippon, even if it is a little bit cheesetastic. :)
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Re: [Nippon] Endless Quest: Blade of the Young Samurai

Post by Havard » Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:12 pm

Big Mac wrote:Back then, most of them, including this one, seem to be labelled as having the setting of "Dungeons & Dragons". I don't know if they were thinking of them being like Original Dungeons & Dragons, with the reader expected to invent their own world around the story, or if they had a default setting (Greyhawk or Blackmoor) in mind. Or if they were thinking of them all going into the Known World. Or they might have even been thinking of building up an Endless Quest world that had its own laws of nature that made "choose your own adventure" stories work better.
The Known World/Mystara or the D&D Game World as it was originally called, first appeared in published form in 1981. All of these game books were written before that. I dont know if that makes them (The ones labeled as Dungeons & Dragons) necessarily intended for Mystara though. They were simply Generic D&D products. Individual authors may have had a specific game world in the back of their heads if they had a favorite. Rose Estes is assoicated (for better or worse) with other Greyhawk novels, so it is possible that her Endless Quest books were written with that setting in mind. That is hard to say without further analysis of those books though. In any case, there is no good fit for Nippon in Mystara so I think Blade of the Young Samurai would work better in Greyhawk or a D&D version of Earth.

It is interesting thta Blade of the Young Samurai was published in 1984. One year before the publication of Oriental Adventures. As we know, Oriental Adventures was originally intended to be set Greyhawk, but this was switched to the Forgotten Realms before it was published. Could this book in fact be based on the original concepts for the Greyhawk Oriental Adventures that was later discarded?
I'm actually looking at this from the other direction. This story featured Nippon and then Oerth featured Nippon. So here is the angle I'm coming from: Was someone trying to retcon the world of this book into Oerth?
Another very interesting question. Could there be other reasons for Skip Williams(?) to place a realm called Nippon onto the Oerth map? I dont know enough to answer that.

ripvanwormer wrote:I used to own a lot of Endless Quest books, and none of them had any substantial world-building. I don't think I owned Blade of the Young Samurai specifically, but I don't think there was room in that book's format, or for that book's target audience, for much detail on the setting in which it took place.
I've got several Endless Quest books, but they are from the second run, where the campaign setting logos were on the books. The only one I have read so far is the Wildspace book: A Wild Ride. That features The Rock of Bral and Wildspace, from the Spelljammer campaign setting.

If this features information about Nippon, then I would like to learn about the Nippon from this book and compare it with the Nippon mentioned in Greyhawk.
I'm going to guess that their early pre-Oriental Adventures concept for Nippon was far less sophisticated than what you have proposed and that it was more like the Historical Reference series of books that came out in the 2e era.
It is indeed possible that the setting of Blade of the Young Samurai was set in a D&D version of historical earth. The cover shows a Samurai with what is clearly a magical Katana in his hand, battling a Giant Octopus. I would be curious to see how many D&D elements are actually in the book. Are there monsters and magic present or is it mainly a historical story (with a somewhat misleading cover)?

Another curious thing about the title: With the "Young Samurai" printed in a larger font size than the rest of the title, I wonder if they were planning to make this a series of Young Samurai game books?

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