[Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

A place where the monk class won't feel like an oddball. Kara-Tur can be discussed in the FR sub-forum. Rokugan can be discussed in it's own forum. Mahasarpa and other Asian-themed worlds can be discussed here.
The Book-House: Find Oriental Adventures products.
Post Reply

Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

China
6
7%
Japan
4
5%
Mongolia
8
9%
South-Eastern Asia (Timor-Leste Malaysia Vietnam Thailand Myanmar Laos Singapore Brunei Indonesia)
18
20%
Southern Asia (India Pakistan Bangladesh Cambodia Sri Lanka Nepal)
14
16%
Central Asia (Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Bhutan, Kazakhstan)
14
16%
Eastern Asia (Philippines, South Korea, North Korea)
13
15%
Other Territories (Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan)
6
7%
Other: Explain!
5
6%
 
Total votes: 88

User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
Posts: 20758
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Gender: male
Location: Norway
Contact:

[Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by Havard » Mon Dec 30, 2019 10:39 pm

I have made the following categories:

China
Japan
Mongolia
South-Eastern Asia (Timor-Leste Malaysia Vietnam Thailand Myanmar Laos Singapore Brunei Indonesia)
Southern Asia (India Pakistan Bangladesh Cambodia Sri Lanka Nepal)
Central Asia (Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Bhutan, Kazakhstan)
Eastern Asia (Philippines, South Korea, North Korea)
Other Territories (Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan)

Althogh China, Japan and Mongolia are often categorized as part of Eastern Asia, I decided to place them as separate regions since these cultures are already used heavily in existing RPG material. That doesn't mean they don't deserve more attention than what they already have, but I figured it would be useful to separate these from the other Eastern Asian countries.

I also included Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan as a separate category for regions with currrent and historical ties to China. Perhaps these regions could also make for interesting inspirations for RPG settings.

Note that while it might be tempting to turn this into a political discussion, that is not what this thread is about. Lets focus on the game aspect here. Also, please forgive my very limited understanding of Asian culture and history. There is no intention to offend anyone, but I realize that just making categories can be an easy way to stumble into discussions that I am clueless about.

Are there any of these regions that have no RPG material based on them?

-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.

The Dark
Hill Giant
Posts: 474
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:05 pm
Gender: male

Re: [Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by The Dark » Tue Dec 31, 2019 5:46 am

I think all of the broad regions have something, even if it's in a "not-X" fantasy world (i.e. 7th Sea has a not-Tibet) or if it's a contemporary setting (James Bond 007 had Hong Kong as one of its featured cities, while Merc 2000 had a sourcebook on Bangkok) or twisted but still visible as an influence (the dark high fantasy Cambodia of Qelong).

I don't think any of the regions wouldn't benefit from a good treatment for an rpg, but the Philippines and Korea are probably where I've seen the least out of the groupings listed (I can think of a couple not-Koreas, but nothing for the Philippines), and the two I was thinking of for other are Micronesia/Melanesia/Polynesia and the Far East of Siberia and Kamchatka (other than a few games including Hawai'i, I can't think of anything for either region). I think the former would require a very sensitive touch because of the legacies of colonialism and war, while the latter would need a similarly careful approach to avoid an overemphasis on exoticism that ends up othering the natives of the region.

User avatar
Dragonhelm
Aurak
Posts: 1546
Joined: Fri May 23, 2008 3:53 am
Gender: male
Contact:

Re: [Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by Dragonhelm » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:28 am

One of my pet peeves is that people use the term "Asian" to mean only a portion of Asia, typically East Asia. Since the terms "Orient" and "Oriental" have fallen out of favor, "Asia" and "Asian" have come to take their place.

The problem is that there are several countries that are not represented in this poll. What about the various countries of the Arabian peninsula? What about Russia? Those are two huge areas.

So really, should this poll even be in Oriental Adventures? ;)

With all of this in mind, I am going to say that they all deserve more attention, as fantasy RPGs are dominated by European tropes. I would like to see an Al-Qadim update (Arabian Adventures, anyone?). I would also like to see some attention paid to countries considered to be part of the Far East, especially those other than China and Japan.

I think we need to look at folklore and mythology too.

Anyway, food for thought.
Trampas Whiteman
---DragonHelm--->


Image

Moderator for: Dragonlance. My moderator voice is Dark Red.

apotheot
Troll
Posts: 337
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:19 pm
Gender: male
Contact:

Re: [Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by apotheot » Tue Dec 31, 2019 2:10 pm

Nice to see the region Malatra is based on (South-Eastern Asia) getting some love. I also think that Kamcahtka, Russia to the Siberian Sea could have some interesting cultural distinctions in an OA game.
Apotheot

User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
Posts: 20758
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Gender: male
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: [Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by Havard » Tue Dec 31, 2019 3:56 pm

Dragonhelm wrote:
Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:28 am
One of my pet peeves is that people use the term "Asian" to mean only a portion of Asia, typically East Asia. Since the terms "Orient" and "Oriental" have fallen out of favor, "Asia" and "Asian" have come to take their place.

The problem is that there are several countries that are not represented in this poll. What about the various countries of the Arabian peninsula? What about Russia? Those are two huge areas.

So really, should this poll even be in Oriental Adventures? ;)
Guilty as charged!
I fully admit to being fairly ignorant about Asia and also try in my own clumsy way to avoid offending too many people. (And yes, this is me being humble. I do know quite a bit compared to the average Internet citizen, but less than say people with ties to these parts of the world).

I pulled a list of Asian countries from a random Internet page and then removed any country from the Middle East. I don't think Russia was on the list as it is also a European nation, but there are obviously cultural/ethnic groups in the Asian parts of Russia that are relevant to the OA forum. I guess this is what the Other option is for :)

And I hope we can keep this thread here, because my main motivation was to shed light on RW cultures that could be used as inspiration for this forum. I guess I could have called the thread something like "Which of these RW countries deserve more attention in RPG Settings"?, but I worry that if I change the forum title now, the poll will be reset so I hope we can keep it like this.

With all of this in mind, I am going to say that they all deserve more attention, as fantasy RPGs are dominated by European tropes. I would like to see an Al-Qadim update (Arabian Adventures, anyone?). I would also like to see some attention paid to countries considered to be part of the Far East, especially those other than China and Japan.
I left the Middle Eastern countries out not because I feel like they aren't as interesting, but because in D&D tradition, they are considered a separate thing and I think they would deserve their own thread in another forum. Feel free to start one! I will happily participate :)

I agree with you that especially Japan is the default in many RPGs both within the D&D family and beyond. There are elements of Chinese myths thrown in and I tink one or two RPGs based on Chinese culture. I would love to see more attention to the other regions too.

Tropes and stereotypes will always be part of RPGs because we are limited by what the DMs and players know and are able to make use of in play without requiring detailed research, but as we learn more about the real world we can add more complexity into our games and perhaps enhance our sense of fun too.
I think we need to look at folklore and mythology too.
Agreed! :)

-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.

User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
Posts: 25722
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: London UK
Contact:

Re: [Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:28 pm

Wikipedia has a List of Asian mythologies. There are a few websites out there, that include various information about individual mythologies. Perhaps there could be one or more discussions, outside of this topic, about these cultures and what interesting myths they include.

It is possible to take a fairly straight conversion of a single culture (European or Asian), but to me, that's a bit more like what we have with the Historical Reference products, than the likes of Blackmoor, Greyhawk's Flanaess, Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms's Faerûn.

I tend to prefer western-inspired RPGs that are not straight copies of specific European countries, but which include things like minotaurs, centaurs, and a host of other things from legends and mythology across the region.

So while it's possible to have fantasy versions of Japan or China or some other interesting place, I'd rather see cool ideas from the entire region...that are not necessarily tied to a real-world map and a carbon copy of that culture.

One of the other things that inspires me is fantasy fiction, like The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. And while I don't want to play games in Middle-earth, I like that the lens of novels like this has given us a lot of secondary sources of inspiration that means that many of the western-inspired campaign settings have lots of familiar elements, but there are also unfamiliar elements, that have a logic to them. (In fact, some of the big D&D worlds take some of their inspiration from Eastern cultures.)

The problem here is that I do not know the authors in Japan, China, Hong Kong who have written books (or comics/manga or cartoons/anime) that have created iconic fantasy cultures that do for Asia what Middle-earth does for the UK and Europe.

The important thing about Middle Earth (from the point-of-view of RPGs) is that it is not real, but is recognisable to anyone who knows about Europe. So I'm looking for those sort of vibes (in a RPG that is a tertiary look at various Asian ideas).

I'm not sure that's on the table yet, from any RPG company.
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and follow The Piazza's Twitter feed so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum (and administrator). My moderator voice is green.

User avatar
Coronoides
Dragon Sage
Posts: 838
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:18 am
Gender: male
Location: Mostly Melbourne Australia
Contact:

Re: [Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by Coronoides » Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:07 am

Lots of Asian material in RPG Review issue 39 including the neglected Malay Archipelago and Imaginary Asian lands in Gulliver’s Travels. http://rpgreview.net/files/rpgreview_39.pdf
Need to convert races to D&D 5e? mathematical analysis of canon races and design rules: http://www.dmsguild.com/product/232813/ ... rs-Toolkit

Conversion & Review of Council of Wryms with dragon PCs compatible with other 5e settings (at level 5+). DRAFT: Book 1 https://www.dropbox.com/s/fz4zql2yhlyut ... 8.pdf?dl=0 and Book 2 https://www.dropbox.com/s/0n3i5bki6svae ... 0.pdf?dl=0

The Dark
Hill Giant
Posts: 474
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:05 pm
Gender: male

Re: [Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by The Dark » Wed Jan 01, 2020 4:58 am

Big Mac wrote:
Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:28 pm
The problem here is that I do not know the authors in Japan, China, Hong Kong who have written books (or comics/manga or cartoons/anime) that have created iconic fantasy cultures that do for Asia what Middle-earth does for the UK and Europe.
Some possibilities are Fonda Lee's Green Bone Saga (Jade City and Jade War), Ken Liu's Dandelion Dynasty (The Grace of Kings and The Wall of Storms), or R. F. Kuang's The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic. I'm so far behind on my reading that I haven't gotten to any of them, but they've each been nominated for some combination of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. For comics, try Monstress, written by Marjorie Liu and illustrated by Sana Takeda, which has won five Eisners and four Hugos.

User avatar
talsine
Priest of Syrinx
Posts: 176
Joined: Wed May 29, 2019 1:01 am
Gender: male
Location: Phoenix Metro, Arizona

Re: [Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by talsine » Wed Jan 01, 2020 7:59 pm

As far as Indian inspired RPGs, check out Arrows of Indra, its an OSR take on an India inspired setting. I don't know enough about the culture to say how accurate it is, but it's a very interesting read and would be something i would love to try if anyone i know was even kind of interested in it. Sadly they are all pretty vanilla when it comes to thier tastes in games

User avatar
Tim Baker
Axe Beak
Posts: 2701
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2016 7:51 am
Gender: male
Location: United States
Contact:

Re: [Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by Tim Baker » Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:44 pm

talsine wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 7:59 pm
As far as Indian inspired RPGs, check out Arrows of Indra, its an OSR take on an India inspired setting. I don't know enough about the culture to say how accurate it is, but it's a very interesting read and would be something i would love to try if anyone i know was even kind of interested in it. Sadly they are all pretty vanilla when it comes to thier tastes in games
I've heard that Arrows of Indra reads like a Western OSR game that's adopted some Indian terminology and themes. I was referred to Against the Dark Yogi as a game that more faithfully captures the feel of the Indian epics.

User avatar
talsine
Priest of Syrinx
Posts: 176
Joined: Wed May 29, 2019 1:01 am
Gender: male
Location: Phoenix Metro, Arizona

Re: [Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by talsine » Wed Jan 01, 2020 10:46 pm

Tim Baker wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:44 pm
talsine wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 7:59 pm
As far as Indian inspired RPGs, check out Arrows of Indra, its an OSR take on an India inspired setting. I don't know enough about the culture to say how accurate it is, but it's a very interesting read and would be something i would love to try if anyone i know was even kind of interested in it. Sadly they are all pretty vanilla when it comes to thier tastes in games
I've heard that Arrows of Indra reads like a Western OSR game that's adopted some Indian terminology and themes. I was referred to Against the Dark Yogi as a game that more faithfully captures the feel of the Indian epics.
I have a PDF of Dark Yogi, but didn't realize that it was also based on that source material. I will have to take a closer look at it soon.

agathokles
Red Dragon
Posts: 7780
Joined: Sat May 24, 2008 6:42 pm
Gender: male
Location: Milan, Italy
Contact:

Re: [Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by agathokles » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:49 am

Havard wrote:
Mon Dec 30, 2019 10:39 pm
China
Japan
Mongolia
South-Eastern Asia (Timor-Leste Malaysia Vietnam Thailand Myanmar Laos Singapore Brunei Indonesia)
Southern Asia (India Pakistan Bangladesh Cambodia Sri Lanka Nepal)
Central Asia (Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Bhutan, Kazakhstan)
Eastern Asia (Philippines, South Korea, North Korea)
Other Territories (Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan)
Obviously Japan has been covered well since the early days of RPGs -- Kozakura and Wa in Kara-Tur, Myoshima in Mystara, and Oriental Adventures tend to cover that ground, plus dedicated RPGs such as Sengoku, 5 Rings, etc, not to mention RPGs from Japan (e.g., Tenra Bansho Zero), and those covering cultural tropes from Japan (BESM, Usagi Yojimbo).

China saw a surge of interest due to the popularity of Wuxia films. In D&D, I can mention Shou in Kara-Tur, Ochalea in Mystara, and Dragonfist (the latter targeting explicitly the Wuxia genre). There are also dedicated games, such as Weapons of the Gods and Qin: The Warring States.
Hong Kong is typically distinct as a setting for modern action -- Feng Shui is directly based on Hong Kong action films.

Mongolia and the steppes of Central Asia get a lot of coverage in early D&D, with Golden Khan of Ethengar in Mystara and the Horde setting in FR, less so in more recent works, AFAIK.
Note that Bhutan is an Himalayan nation that should probably fall in the Southern Asia category.

For India, besides Sind and Shajahpur in Mystara (the former is covered to a good extent in Champions of Mystara), we have Mahasarpa, the 3e mini-setting, as well as other non-D&D games mentioned in previous posts.

For south-eastern Asia, there is the the Qelong sandbox adventure for Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

GP

User avatar
Angel Tarragon
Dawn Dragon
Posts: 9177
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:39 am

Re: [Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by Angel Tarragon » Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:48 pm

There is a little known campaign setting for D&D 3E based on Japan called Kitsunemori. Here's the blurb from DriveThruRPG;
Immerse Yourself In the Legends of Japan

The sun dawns upon the thick canopy of tightly-knit treetops, giving the mist an otherworldly radiance as it wraps lazily around the trunks and underbrush. The only relief from the ocean of green is the road, maintained by the local authorities to ease travel, and the occasional pointed roof of a Shinto shrine. A few travelers are already making their way, trudging along muddy roads that have not yet been set with paving stones, checking to ensure their papers are in order for the border outposts that control traffic between the different feudal lands.

A lone wanderer wipes the morning dew off his thick traveling cloak and spots a small shrine on one side of the road. The man is not particularly religious, but he recognizes to whom the shrine is dedicated. Careful not to incite the wrath of the spirit of the shrine, the traveler stops to leave a small morsel as an offering at the paw of a stone statue of a fox. The man utters a short prayer before quickly walking away.

As soon as the traveler is out of view, the stone statue transforms into a real fox and eats the offering, twisting her four tails in the direction of the traveler to grant the man a small blessing as a way of thanks. The fox then scampers into the underbrush, planning her mischief for the day.

Kitsunemori is a self-contained setting that describes a specific area ? the Yonhosu Valley ? of an otherwise unspecified world. You can insert Kitsunemori into a larger, pre-existing world, expand the setting, or simply limit travel to the four lands detailed within Kitsunemori.

The kitsune themselves were obviously the main inspiration for this book. They are intriguing creatures featured in many Japanese folktales as well as in actual history, and they have been reinterpreted in various ways in modern popular media. Kitsune are bringers of mischief and misery, and so many people are quick to classify them as demons.

But kitsune are also messengers of the god Inari, patron of rice, life, and fertility, and are thus also benevolent beings. In both conceptions, kitsune are described as playful, cunning, charming, and utterly dangerous.

Other staples of Japanese myth included in Kitsunemori are the tanuki, tengu, and kappa, as well as the evil oni and the ambiguous bakemono. In many instances,monster descriptions deviate from those found in traditional folklore; these monsters are presented as fantasy races and as creatures inspired by Japanese folklore rather than strict re-creations. Shinto mingles with Buddhism to create a cosmological backdrop for the setting, but a thorough knowledge of either is not necessary.

Another inspiration for Kitsunemori was the chambara genre as represented in comics and animation, which features heroic samurai and masterless ronin bravely crossing swords for the sake of honor.

Kitsunemori Chapter Preview

Chapter I: Characters contains rules for creating a character in Kitsunemori, including details about the two standard races (human and kitsune) as well as background information to help you flesh out a character's history.

Chapter II: Classes describes how to adapt the standard d20 fantasy classes for use in Kitsunemori. The chapter also introduces two kitsune classes (the myobu and the nogitsune) and a new socially oriented class (the courtier), as well as suggestions on how to multiclass in order to realize popular Japanese concepts such as the samurai, ninja, and Shinto priest.

Chapter III: Character Options presents the concept of prestige as well as a system to calculate how much experience kitsune receive for their trickery. This chapter also discusses the importance of shrines and contains new feats and kitsune racial vulnerabilities.

Chapter IV: Equipment consists of a collection of useful items with a Japanese flavor. Much of this equipment obeys the conventions of myth rather than the laws of physics, and some equipment options blur the boundary between masterwork and magical equipment.

Chapter V: Magic presents geomancy, wards and charms for both humans and kitsune, as well as fox magic, a new system of racial powers that only kitsune can wield.

Chapter VI: Kitsunemori details the Yonhosu Valley, a small region covered by the haunted Fox Forest, where the kitsune lurk in hidden glens and from which they venture into human lands to wreak havoc and convey the favors of the gods. This chapter includes plot hooks for stories based in Kitsunemori and describes the main storyline, which revolves around protecting the whole valley (and possibly the world) from a rising threat. The chapter also includes stats and descriptions of prominent NPC's in the Kitsunemori setting, as well as detailed information on the customs and traditions of the people of the Yonhosu Valley.

Chapters VII - VIII: give background, plot hooks and other information for GM's to run a game in Kitsunemori.

Chapter VII: Forest Denizens offers statistics and descriptions for the many creatures who inhabit the Kitsunemori.. This chapter presents several monsters based on Japanese mythology, from the playful tanuki to several kinds of terrifying demons.

Fully bookmarked with glossary, index and bundled with a text-only .doc file for ease of use, Kitsunemori is an exciting 197-page resource for GM's and players looking for something asian-inspired and different.

Download a 20+ page sample here!
Unfortunately the preview sample is no longer available. It can bought in softcover from Lulu.

mah9
Gnoll
Posts: 113
Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2009 7:36 pm
Gender: prefer not to say

Re: [Poll] Which Regions of Asia deserve more attention in RPGs?

Post by mah9 » Fri Jan 03, 2020 9:33 am

I've long been looking to expand more into Central Asia in my worlds. These are almost archetypal areas for D&D. Multiple lost cities and civilisations, rumours of treasures and evil wizards, fantastic mystical beasts and temples of lost religions.

You have the ancient nomadic Scythians, lost Greek colonies (Bactria), Persian expansion, lost Manichean and Zoroastrian temples. There were the Sogdians who ran an empire of coin and influence along the full length of the Silk Road, a few of whom became senior advisers and generals to the Chinese and Byzantine empires.

After this you have the Mongols sweeping through claiming the cities of the Silk Road. After settling into semi-nomadism and converting to Islam you have the great Central Asian empire of Timur, the land, according to some scholars, of the 1001 nights.

After the demise of the Silk Road the great wealth of Central Asia declined, leading to the abandonment of some cities and the closure of others to the outside world, which many stayed until the coming of the Russians in the late 19th century.

But it is not just nomads and cities, there are inland seas, deep navigable rivers, and the Pamir mountains, which hide any number of mystical valleys, lost tribes or mountain top fortresses.

Post Reply

Return to “Oriental Adventures”