We are closing the Oriental Adventures board

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 in the Other Worlds forum.
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Giant Space Hamster
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We are closing the Oriental Adventures board

Post by Giant Space Hamster »

After a long and slow-burning discussion, we are closing the Oriental Adventures board.

Although this slow-burning discussion was to some extent re-ignited by the Asians Represent Podcast, it is important to note that the moderator team have in fact been discussing the fate of that board for a long time, starting as early as 2013, triggered by this thread. This is a decision that was literally years in the making. It was not taken lightly. Part of the original reason for setting up The Piazza was that WotC, on their Gleemax forums, merged all the old campaign settings boards into a single board, making a lot of people rather upset. I wanted to avoid any repeat of such a merging of posts into single boards, and closing a board, no matter how controversial that board might be, could have been seen as feeding into that.
  • At the time it was created, it was intended to serve as a holder for the campaign settings supported by TSR and WotC's "Oriental Adventures" books. Specifically, for Kara-Tur, Rokugan, and Mahasarpa. It was, in effect, already a merger catch-all or three different settings when it was first created.
    • Since it was created, Kara-Tur has gained its own sub-board under Forgotten Realms, and Rokugan has gained its own board as a non-TSR/WotC setting (as it is most closely associated with Alderac Entertainment Group). This leaves Mahasarpa as the only campaign setting that still "officially" should be discussed there.
      • Any remaining posts that relate to Kara-Tur or Rokugan will be moved to the appropriate board. Posts relating to Mahasarpa (which so far does not have a board of its own) will be moved to the Other Worlds board. Come the day that there is enough interest, a new board will be created for this setting. Despite some fanon claims that it is a region near Kara-Tur, this is not canon, so it would not be appropriate to move Mahasarpa topics to the Kara-Tur board.
        • The Oriental Adventures board unfortunately became a place-holder for anything - rules or campaign settings - that seemed vaguely East Asian, which has become increasingly awkward as a form of "othering".
          • By default, the Oriental Adventures board became a holding pen for rules discussion about rules that were written in those two Oriental Adventures books. This puts those specific rules discussions in a rather peculiar position, as there isn't really a good reason not to discuss those rules discussions in the main 1e or 3e sections of the site for discussing rules. These posts will be moved to the appropriate rules board section of this site, where they belong.
            • Also by default, the board became a holding pen for any third party campaign setting that seemed vaguely East Asian, regardless of that campaign setting's relationship to the original Oriental Adventures books. These posts will be moved to the Other Worlds board, and appropriate tags added to identify the specific campaign setting, if not already tagged.
          ----

          While having a board that could be used to collect all the East Asian campaign settings did some ways made it convenient to find such campaign settings, it begged the question of why there wasn't a similar section for miscellaneous SF settings, or miscellaneous African settings, or miscellaneous "modern" settings. It never sat easy with the admin team that East Asian campaign settings were treated so differently from other campaign settings, and now is as good a time as any to end such special treatment.

          We also appreciate there is a counter-argument for creating a series of related boards for Oriental/African/Central Asian/Middle Eastern/Fantasy/Horror/Modern/Sci-Fi campaign settings to be collected together (presumably adding to or replacing the Other/Homebrew Worlds boards), there is so much room for overlap that many settings could easily be placed in two or more such sections. Is Forgotten Realms's The Horde Oriental or Central Asian? Does Hamunaptera fall under African, or is it its own thing (and lumping all of Sub-Saharan Africa together is problematic in itself for that matter). Is Shadowrun fantasy, cyberpunk, modern, near-future, or what? Earthdawn is set in the same 'universe' as Shadowrun, so does that go into the same board? Do discussions of Tian Xia fall under Oriental or Pathfinder? Is Mists of Akuma horror or Oriental? Such a selection of boards would create more problems than it would solve.

          ----

          A related issue is usage of the word "oriental".
          • When used to refer to the books with the word in their titles, that's simply part of their name, and that's what they should be called.
            • Using it to refer to specific individual persons or cultures is at best a bit naff, and at worse intentionally offensive. This is especially so when more specific words (e.g., Japanese, Chinese, or east Asian) could be used instead. Please don't do this.
              • Using it to refer to places within east Asia, or to cultural artefacts from east Asia, is also somewhere between a bit naff and intentionally offensive. Please don't do this either.
                • Using it to refer to the far east of Asia generally is technically accurate, but fairly archaic use of the English language. Generally speaking, there are better terms to use in modern English (such as "far eastern", "pan-Asian", or "east Asian", but note that many of these come with their own subtle nuances), and it marks your writing as reminiscent of 18th/19th century English. Which is fine if you are intentionally writing in-character as an 18th/19th century English person would. But chances are, you aren't.
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                Re: We are closing the Oriental Adventures board

                Post by Falconer »

                Your decision is good, your reasoning is strong, and it is gracious of you to write it up.
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                Re: We are closing the Oriental Adventures board

                Post by shesheyan »

                Good decision.

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                Morfie
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                Re: We are closing the Oriental Adventures board

                Post by Morfie »

                All good well-explained reasons.
                Maharsapa is especially troublesome as it was more Indian flavoured, and while some Westerners (UK?) consider Indians as being Asians or South Asians, others do not and I have not seen anyone consider India as part of the Orient.

                My only questions are around the divergence:
                1. Other Worlds is in the non TSR/WotC settings section, so Maharsapa and Dragon Fist topics don't really belong there.
                2. The rules specific topics around OA 1e would be better in the AD&D 1st Edition forum (it was a rulebook like DSG,WSG, and L&L after all), likewise for the 3e version.

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                Re: We are closing the Oriental Adventures board

                Post by Ashtagon »

                @Morfie

                1. "Other Worlds" is really its own thing, and arguably deserves a position at the same level as the WC+TSR/Other Publishers split. It would make more sense to move Other Worlds up a level than to create an "Other TSR/WC settings" section for just two niche settings.

                2. That's correct. Rules questions relating the the content of the 1985 book would go in the 1e board, and rules questions relating to the 2001 book in the 3e board.
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                Re: We are closing the Oriental Adventures board

                Post by Starglim »

                Thanks for explaining the reasons for it. Makes sense.

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                Re: We are closing the Oriental Adventures board

                Post by Big Mac »

                Thanks all.

                I just wanted to comment on this, as it's got logistical questions (and I'm always into the nerdy details of things):
                Morfie wrote:
                Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:04 am
                All good well-explained reasons.
                Maharsapa is especially troublesome as it was more Indian flavoured, and while some Westerners (UK?) consider Indians as being Asians or South Asians, others do not and I have not seen anyone consider India as part of the Orient.
                The whole area of how people talk about people living in that area with English words is troublesome because it is confusing.

                People in London (and we have people of lots of races here) tend to talk about people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kashmir as Asian. And they are kind of seen as ethnically similar (as they look pretty similar). People, might call a restaurant an Indian restaurant, even if they are from Pakistan or Bangladesh, as it is easier to market "Indian" than a smaller country. (But we do have a ton of restaurants with food from all sort of Asian countries, if you look hard enough. I used to go to a restaurant that specialised in food from Southern India. But if you asked if they did Indian food, they would make you whatever you thought was Indian, because they were helpful. :) )

                But then you also have people talking about people in China or Japan and calling them Asian. But they are clearly different enough from Indian people to not be the same. But we don't have a different word for Asians near India and Asians near China/Japan.

                And then you have various other countries in the middle.

                So the word "Asian" is kind of useless, without additional context.

                I don't think I've heard the term "Oriental" used outside of D&D...or super old-fashioned stuff. I know that technically "Oriental" is the opposite of "Occidental" but I've said the word "Occidental" so few times, that I actually have to slow down and think about saying it manually (rather than automatically). Generally people say "Asian" here, but I think it would be easy for two people to have a chat about Asian restaurant and for one to be meaning Indian food and the other to be meaning Chinese food.

                So both terms are still kind of useless, without additional context.

                I find Kara-Tur or Rokugan or even Mahasarpa a much better name to hang a brand on. I'm not going on a guess about whether something is Oriental or Asian or not. I'm getting a name, and then can build up an impression of what that setting name means to me, based on what the designers design, rather than have a preconceived guess that turns out to be wrong. (I'd make the same argument for "Planescape" being a much more evocative name than "Manual of the Planes". And you don't see a Manual of the Planes forum at The Piazza.)

                Mahasarpa was an interesting idea. It was a way to actually explore another area. And Mahasarpa sends out some signals of using Indian mythology (which has some awesome stories). But it also includes stuff from Ankor Wat, which is in Cambodia.

                Finding some Cambodian stuff in, what I originally thought was going to be Indian, was a bit confusing. (More confusing than someone calling food from Bangladesh Indian food.)

                And, when you look at Mahasarpa, and you see how it asks you to reboot certain aspects of Rokugan, to get you the Mahasarpa version, I wonder if it would have been just as easy to drop the OA reboot aspect and use the Mahasarpa setting with just the core 3rd Edition rulebooks...or maybe even with just the SRD. (I might even post a topic about that. :twisted: )
                Morfie wrote:
                Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:04 am
                My only questions are around the divergence:
                1. Other Worlds is in the non TSR/WotC settings section, so Maharsapa and Dragon Fist topics don't really belong there.
                This is what happens when we split up the mainstream D&D worlds owned by TSR/WotC from the non-mainstream campaign settings and settings that were never part of D&D. :)

                You can literally spend years going over the debate of where stuff goes...and we have! :lol:

                One solution would be to have an "Other D&D Worlds" subforum in the "D&D Campaign Worlds from TSR and WotC" section and another "Other Worlds" forum, in the "Other Publishers" section.

                But it would take a review of 1120 topics over 45 pages to do that. That's quite a lot of work.

                Back when Gleemax dump-merged all the out of print campaign setting discussions into a single forum, and Ashtagon originally set up The Piazza, they did eventually reverse their decision. But they had no way to put the topics for each campaign setting back, because they couldn't task moderators with weeks of work to reverse a simple "select everything and shunt" change.

                And we, at The Piazza, don't have the manpower of WotC. So we tend to think about things very carefully, so that we don't make big changes that are logistically very difficult to reverse. (That's one of the reasons for this being a slow burner discussion.)

                Splitting Other Worlds has been brought up, at least once. (There was a request to make it "Other Fantasy Worlds" and "Other Science Fiction Worlds" in the past.) But it's a big moderator job. Much bigger than the admin job of creating a new campaign setting forum and then asking a moderator to put move 10-30 topics into that new forum.

                So, I'm not even going to say that I disagree with you here. It's a great point. There would be possible advantages to it.

                But I do remember when we did the "Great Forum Reorganisation" in the Public Houses section of The Piazza. We basically gave the entire moderator team access to a ton of forums they don't normally moderate and ripped apart some of the older parts of The Piazza to create the newer bits you see today. We even demolished forums to create replacement forums with the same name (but with less posts in them). I stayed up half the night for a several days to do that. So did others. I was really pleased with the results, but it was a bonkers thing to do. And I wouldn't want to do something similar if there were not several moderators chomping at the bit to move topics.

                Given that we had to demolish some forums, and create identically named forums to filter out content to be moved elsewhere, I'd say that the existing Other Worlds forum would need to be locked and two replacement forums (not one) get created, so that the task of emptying that forum out could be paused and restarted over time.

                And, while some people might thank me (or other people) for doing stuff like shunting topics, and the new structure might be easier for forum members, you don't get the sort of boost that a new campaign setting forum might give us all. Something like a Jakandor forum might make someone sign up and talk about Jakandor, but nobody in their right mind is going to sign up and say they joined The Piazza specifically because we split Other Worlds in half. :lol:

                I'm on the third page with this process, with Oriental Adventures, and I'm not working on it full-time, as I've got normal life to do. So I could probably look at the time taken for this to get finished and extrapolate from that to go from 162 topics on 7 pages to 1120 topics on 42 pages.
                Morfie wrote:
                Wed Jul 15, 2020 7:04 am
                2. The rules specific topics around OA 1e would be better in the AD&D 1st Edition forum (it was a rulebook like DSG,WSG, and L&L after all), likewise for the 3e version.
                Some of the moderator team concurs with you there (foiling my evil plan to "select all and move to Other Worlds" #Muhahahha). ;)

                The weird thing is...looking at the topic names, we have a topic that namechecks 3rd Edition D&D, that is actually about 1st Edition AD&D. And another topic about 1st Edition AD&D, that is actually about 2nd Edition AD&D. So, it's a bit more of a split than I imagined it might be.

                phpBB has a special control panel for doing moderator stuff on multiple topics, but I can only use that for the super-obvious topics (like ones that have "[Mahasarpa]" in the title). I've had to open some of the topics and sometimes scroll down. I even had to check one of my own topics, as I had no idea what yesterday-me was talking about, from the topic title.

                What I'm doing, if you are interested, is moving the obvious topics...going back and making a second pass to individually move the less obvious topics...and if there are any that I can't figure out at that stage, I'm going off to the secret Piazza Moderator Thunderdome Twitch channel, where moderators will armwrestle for domination until we have a winner who decides where that tricky topic goes. I made that last bit up. You weren't supposed to tell them about that bit — Ashtagon
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                Re: We are closing the Oriental Adventures board

                Post by Dragonhelm »

                Boy, I go on walkabout for a while and I come back to everything changing! :D

                So a few points, if I may. And this is me as a board member, not as a moderator.

                First of all, I appreciate the use of the phrase "East Asians." It's become quite a pet peeve of mine to have people of that area of the world referred to as "Asians" when Asia is a massive continent and the people are so varied.

                I agree with the organizational aspects of the argument. I questioned at times where to post about certain topics.

                I would ask that when approaching the Asians React/Read YouTube show (not a podcast to my knowledge), keep in mind that they do not speak for every D&D fan, including those of East Asian descent. They spend 26 hours tearing Oriental Adventures 1e apart. That is a lot of time. If anything, that book deserved an hour or two max.

                What I do recommend is the Re:Kara-Tur – Reimagining D&D's China playlist on YouTube. CJ does an excellent job of building Kara-Tur up using real-world history.

                Please remember to get all sides to a story, and don't fall prey to outrage. Look for those who work through positive means, who try to build things up rather than tearing them down. It's easy enough to say why something is bad. The trick is to present a positive alternative.

                My thanks to the Piazza for hosting the Oriental Adventures forum here while it lasted.
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                Re: We are closing the Oriental Adventures board

                Post by pawsplay »

                26 hours means there was a lot to unpack, anyway.

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