Spirit Folk: Mythological origins?

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pawsplay
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Spirit Folk: Mythological origins?

Post by pawsplay » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:25 am

I'm pretty familiar with the concept, in general, of people having parents who are "spirits." However, I am not an expert on Chinese and Japanese mythology. Are there any specific stories or representations that seemed to have inspired the Oriental Adventures spirit folk? Why bamboo, river, and sea spirit folk, and not, say, mountain? Does anyone else find it convincing that they are treated as humanoids in 3e and not fey? ... or native outsider?

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Re: Spirit Folk: Mythological origins?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Mar 18, 2013 12:32 pm

Good question (to which I don't, unfortunately, know the answer).

I suppose that when you import Chinese and Japanese themes into an "Oriental" campaign setting, there are a number of ways that you could choose to implement it.

I can't see any logical flaw in any of the ways that you suggested this could be done. Maybe it is just a case of 3e's designers doing what would be right for the previous Legend of the Five Rings game (and bringing that into the D&D rules).

I'd be interested to see if Kara-Tur's Oriental Adventures did this differently. (Maybe we should compare the two rulebooks sometime to see if the universal laws work differently - in another thread).
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Re: Spirit Folk: Mythological origins?

Post by Michael Tumey » Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:39 pm

Spirit folk were an invention by the designers of Oriental Adventures 1e to depict 'elf-like' races into their setting - to better fit the concepts of standard D&D. There were no such thing as 'spirit folk' per se in Japanese folklore for certain (I can't say for sure that spirit folk aren't of Chinese origin either, but I doubt it). There are some legends of a 'bamboo spirit', but these would be closer to a Japanese dryad or plant kami. In no way could they be considered a race, nor able to move far from their bamboo home.

In the Kaidan setting of Japanese horror (PFRPG) which I develop and publish as an imprint under Rite Publishing, my goals are to be as authentic as possible to Japanese culture, historical aspects, and folklore, yet still be a fantasy Japan-like place. It's not Japan. So far I've included: hengeyokai, kappa, and tengu, though we're also including kitsune and korobokuru in the guides from the Kickstarter, though korobokuru are of Ainu legend, and not Japanese (Ainu are the indigenous native people of northern Japan, mostly on Hokkaido.) So no spirit folk, in Kaidan, either.

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Re: Spirit Folk: Mythological origins?

Post by Big Mac » Mon May 06, 2013 9:14 am

Michael Tumey wrote:Spirit folk were an invention by the designers of Oriental Adventures 1e to depict 'elf-like' races into their setting - to better fit the concepts of standard D&D. There were no such thing as 'spirit folk' per se in Japanese folklore for certain (I can't say for sure that spirit folk aren't of Chinese origin either, but I doubt it). There are some legends of a 'bamboo spirit', but these would be closer to a Japanese dryad or plant kami. In no way could they be considered a race, nor able to move far from their bamboo home.
I know that some modern fantasy elements have crept into the mainstream (Westernised) D&D from Jack Vance, Tolkien and other sources. I wonder if some of the unexplained elements of Oriental Adventures might come from anime or manga. :?

Bamboo dryads sound like they could be fun. :)
Michael Tumey wrote:In the Kaidan setting of Japanese horror (PFRPG) which I develop and publish as an imprint under Rite Publishing, my goals are to be as authentic as possible to Japanese culture, historical aspects, and folklore, yet still be a fantasy Japan-like place. It's not Japan. So far I've included: hengeyokai, kappa, and tengu, though we're also including kitsune and korobokuru in the guides from the Kickstarter, though korobokuru are of Ainu legend, and not Japanese (Ainu are the indigenous native people of northern Japan, mostly on Hokkaido.) So no spirit folk, in Kaidan, either.
I remember you mentioning Kaidan before. I'll have to check it out sometime.

(BTW: You might want to use the User Control Panel to go to your profile and then add a forum signature with a link to the Rite Publishing page or some sort of Kaidan blog or something, so that people can find the Kaidan stuff from any of your posts. You might also want to crop some art from one of your products and use it as your forum avatar picture.)
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Re: Spirit Folk: Mythological origins?

Post by Michael Tumey » Mon May 06, 2013 5:04 pm

Big Mac wrote:I know that some modern fantasy elements have crept into the mainstream (Westernised) D&D from Jack Vance, Tolkien and other sources. I wonder if some of the unexplained elements of Oriental Adventures might come from anime or manga. :?

Bamboo dryads sound like they could be fun. :)
While I am somewhat of an expert in Japanese mythology, I too rely on another who is more expert then myself (Zack Davisson, who is an American who attended university in Japan, in Japanese studies, especially folklore). I brought up the OA spirit folk and he practically ranted against anything even close to the concept. While I deviate from true folklore in some small aspects, I try to stay true to Japanese folklore. I did look at OA closely, and have adapted some of it's ideas.

As a good source of Japanese lore, I'm posting a link to Zack Davisson's site: http://www.hyakumonogatari.com
Big Mac wrote:
Michael Tumey wrote:In the Kaidan setting of Japanese horror (PFRPG) which I develop and publish as an imprint under Rite Publishing, my goals are to be as authentic as possible to Japanese culture, historical aspects, and folklore, yet still be a fantasy Japan-like place. It's not Japan. So far I've included: hengeyokai, kappa, and tengu, though we're also including kitsune and korobokuru in the guides from the Kickstarter, though korobokuru are of Ainu legend, and not Japanese (Ainu are the indigenous native people of northern Japan, mostly on Hokkaido.) So no spirit folk, in Kaidan, either.
I remember you mentioning Kaidan before. I'll have to check it out sometime.

(BTW: You might want to use the User Control Panel to go to your profile and then add a forum signature with a link to the Rite Publishing page or some sort of Kaidan blog or something, so that people can find the Kaidan stuff from any of your posts. You might also want to crop some art from one of your products and use it as your forum avatar picture.)
I'll do that soon! Thanks.

Michael

PS: there's a free one-shot module for Kaidan called Frozen Wind, if you want to check it out for no cost...

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Re: Spirit Folk: Mythological origins?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:35 pm

Michael Tumey wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I know that some modern fantasy elements have crept into the mainstream (Westernised) D&D from Jack Vance, Tolkien and other sources. I wonder if some of the unexplained elements of Oriental Adventures might come from anime or manga. :?

Bamboo dryads sound like they could be fun. :)
While I am somewhat of an expert in Japanese mythology, I too rely on another who is more expert then myself (Zack Davisson, who is an American who attended university in Japan, in Japanese studies, especially folklore). I brought up the OA spirit folk and he practically ranted against anything even close to the concept. While I deviate from true folklore in some small aspects, I try to stay true to Japanese folklore. I did look at OA closely, and have adapted some of it's ideas.

As a good source of Japanese lore, I'm posting a link to Zack Davisson's site: http://www.hyakumonogatari.com
Nice website. I did a search on Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai for "spirit folk" and got four hits: I'm actually OK with campaign settings, like Kara-Tur and Rokugan, bringing some non-mythological and non-historical concepts to the setting (so long as the setting has a logical reason for bringing things in and is not passing those things off as "real"), but if someone does want their Oriental Adventures to have more true-to-life mythology, I guess these would help with a spirit folk reboot.

"Mizuki Shigeru in Rabaul" seems like a false positive, but Rabaul seems like it could be a good inspiration for an isolated island in an Oriental campaign, so I've left it in the list.

Bakekujira are awesome! I've never heard of those before, but they would be great for a seafaring Oriental adventure. I think Bakekujira would also work well in a Spelljammer game. Maybe there could be a Shou Lung asteroid in the Tears of Selune that has a "Bakekujira problem". :D
Michael Tumey wrote:PS: there's a free one-shot module for Kaidan called Frozen Wind, if you want to check it out for no cost...
Kaidan is really off-topic, for this thread, but I think that Frozen Wind deserves its own thread.
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