[WotC] Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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.
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[WotC] Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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This topic is being archived from the Oriental Adventures forum at Wizards of the Coast, prior to that forum being deleted. It was posted on Sep 10, 2008 15:43:46.
Brom_Blackforge wrote:A couple of questions for anyone who's familiar with both sides of these issues:

First, what are the primary differences between Kara-Tur and Rokugan? And to anyone who is familiar with both, which do you prefer and why?

Second, to anyone who has played both 3E Oriental Adventures and AEG's Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) game (with its "roll & keep" system), how do they compare? Or, if it's easier to answer this way: which do you prefer and why?
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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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lord_karsus wrote:-Rokugan and Kara-Tur are two different places, the former being in it's own self-contained world, while the latter is a continent on Abeir-Toril, making it a part of the Forgotten Realms. While they're both Oriental settings, they're as different as Greyhawk and Dragonlance are, both of them being "generic" fantasy settings. Kara-Tur is heavily based on the actual Orient, sadly, with a lot of "coincidental" parallels (the most blatant, I think, being Tibet/Tabot), while Rokugan is more original.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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ranger_reg wrote:
lord_karsus wrote:-Rokugan and Kara-Tur are two different places, the former being in it's own self-contained world, while the latter is a continent on Abeir-Toril, making it a part of the Forgotten Realms. While they're both Oriental settings, they're as different as Greyhawk and Dragonlance are, both of them being "generic" fantasy settings. Kara-Tur is heavily based on the actual Orient, sadly, with a lot of "coincidental" parallels (the most blatant, I think, being Tibet/Tabot), while Rokugan is more original.
I love parallels. I'm a [Trek] fan of Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Development.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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lord_karsus wrote:
ranger_reg wrote:I love parallels. I'm a [Trek] fan of Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Development.
-Yes, I know. I do not.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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barthalas wrote:
lord_karsus wrote:-Rokugan and Kara-Tur are two different places, the former being in it's own self-contained world, while the latter is a continent on Abeir-Toril, making it a part of the Forgotten Realms. While they're both Oriental settings, they're as different as Greyhawk and Dragonlance are, both of them being "generic" fantasy settings. Kara-Tur is heavily based on the actual Orient, sadly, with a lot of "coincidental" parallels (the most blatant, I think, being Tibet/Tabot), while Rokugan is more original.
Just to clarify, Rokugan was part of a larger world as well, where there where at least an Arabian type location and "Barbarian" (aka European type) location and possibly others. Both of those mentioned never got a full RPG writeup to my knowledge, but the Arabian setting was detailed a bit in the Burning Sands CCG.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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Brom_Blackforge wrote:
lord_karsus wrote:-Kara-Tur is heavily based on the actual Orient, sadly, with a lot of "coincidental" parallels (the most blatant, I think, being Tibet/Tabot), while Rokugan is more original.
Is that just in terms of geography and nomenclature, or are there other ways in which Kara-Tur more closely mirrors the real world than Rokugan does?

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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lord_karsus wrote:
barthalas wrote:Just to clarify, Rokugan was part of a larger world as well, where there where at least an Arabian type location and "Barbarian" (aka European type) location and possibly others. Both of those mentioned never got a full RPG writeup to my knowledge, but the Arabian setting was detailed a bit in the Burning Sands CCG.
-Ah, did not know that.
Brom_Blackforge wrote:Is that just in terms of geography and nomenclature, or are there other ways in which Kara-Tur more closely mirrors the real world than Rokugan does?
-In terms of geography, if you compare a map of Kara-Tur and Southeast Asia, yeah, you'll see some similarities. In terms of events, if you compare Kara-Tur to Southeast Asia, you'll see some parallels, in terms of what happened here, and what happened there. Basically, to shorten the point, Kara-Tur definitely seemed to have been based off of Southeast Asia, to the point that the developers began mirroring and copying places, things, events, and so on, to a limited degree. Rokugan, it seems, was never based off of Southeast Asia, as much as it was simply an Oriental Setting, and as such, seems much more independent of real world parallels.

-The Kara-Tur Re-Dux project was created to minimalize this, in Kara-Tur. Make it seem more unique, and less of a history textbook, with some magic and flair thrown in.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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marius4 wrote:
Brom_Blackforge wrote:Is that just in terms of geography and nomenclature, or are there other ways in which Kara-Tur more closely mirrors the real world than Rokugan does?
You're an OA noob?

Rokugan and Kara-Tur both mirror the real world in a number of ways. However, if you want it horribly, terribly simplified, you could say Rokugan = Japan and Kara-Tur = China+. Of the two, Rokugan is much more narrow in cultural scope while Kara-Tur has a higher variety of parallels that are all very clearly parallels.

Rokugan is primarily East Asian (China, Japan, & Korea) flavored, and as Barthalas points out includes fluff references to outsiders (not the planesy ones) as part of the setting. One of the major clans even, the Kirin-become-Unicorn Clan, is heavily influenced by non-Rokugani culture. The set up is sort of feudal Japan, with a host of major clans (the Crane clan, the Phoenix clan, etc.) under an emperor non-specifically paralleling the host of real world major families/clans in historical Japan (Kamakura-period-ish, can't remember the big names(!!) somehow, just their crests in my head!!) under an emperor-but-really-the-shogun if I'm not crossing my history here. Each of the clans has a different vibe, and you might even say has some influence from other Asian cultures (Dragon//India, Mantis//SE Asia, Unicorn//Mongols) but its not very clearly delineated at all and I'm sure there would be many variations in fan opinions. Nomenclature is predominantly Japanese, with a dose of Chinese thrown in highlighting certain themes.

Kara-Tur is much more clearly set up to reflect the length and breadth of real world Asia. It has a smattering of countries that parallel different historical periods in different real world countries: Tibet (as mentioned) in the real world south, I think two for different periods of Japan (feudal and courtly, I think), one for Korea, one (that I can recall) for Southeast Asia (a tropical jungle realm), and the entire Celestial Bureaucracy thing and over-arching theme seems heavily Chinese-ish.

All of the above is IMHO.

I haven't gamed under the Alderac/GR (can't remember) system. I have read a lot that its "five rings" system (d10 I think) fit the Rokugan setting flavor much better than the d20 interpretation did. Without "analyzing" it I thought the d20 stuff was fine. I've read through some of the d10 rules and I think I own a book or two. An example of a difference is in character creation, the character has five "rings" that loosely (here's that word again) parallel the D&D ability scores. You can imagine how that could keep thematics pretty tight. It's interesting, but I wasn't up for learning a new system when I got the books so I never tried it and don't have much to judge it on. It sounds kinda neat.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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ranger_reg wrote:
marius4 wrote:I haven't gamed under the Alderac/GR (can't remember) system... I've read through some of the d10 rules and I think I own a book or two... It's interesting, but I wasn't up for learning a new system when I got the books so I never tried it and don't have much to judge it on. It sounds kinda neat.
You should.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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Brom_Blackforge wrote:
marius4 wrote:You're an OA noob?
Yep. I played one 2nd ed. OA game many years ago, and that's the limit of my experience with it. I think that means I still qualify as an OA noob.

I've had the itch lately to play, and I know that at least one other person in my gaming group has had the same itch. (In fact, he was talking about running an Asian-themed game of some kind.) My FLGS has a used copy of 3E Oriental Adventures on the rack, and I keep looking at it. I think next time I'm there, I'm finally going to break down and just get it. I think they've also got a used copy of the AEG 3rd ed. L5R game, so I'm tempted to get them both and see which I like better.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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lord_karsus wrote:-Personally speaking, I don't think the 3e Oriental Adventures book was too good. Unfortunately, it's the only one of it's kind (as in official WotC 3e OA stuff). Might there be some Third-Party stuff out there?

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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Brom_Blackforge wrote:
lord_karsus wrote:-Personally speaking, I don't think the 3e Oriental Adventures book was too good. Unfortunately, it's the only one of it's kind (as in official WotC 3e OA stuff). Might there be some Third-Party stuff out there?
AEG's Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) is the only other one I'm aware of, but it wouldn't surprise me if there are others.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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ranger_reg wrote:
lord_karsus wrote:-Personally speaking, I don't think the 3e Oriental Adventures book was too good. Unfortunately, it's the only one of it's kind (as in official WotC 3e OA stuff). Might there be some Third-Party stuff out there?
Only Rokugan published by AEG, who are licensed to use WotC's Oriental Adventures logo.

There are many Asian-thematic rules sources (like the Quintessential Samurai) but no other third-party d20 setting of oriental flavor.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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lord_karsus wrote:
ranger_reg wrote:There are many Asian-thematic rules sources (like the Quintessential Samurai) but no other third-party d20 setting of oriental flavor.
-I meant that more as in rules, rather than settings. I'd prefer to have the two separate, so that they don't rub off too much on each other. That way, I don't have setting-specific classes (ie Rokugan's Samurai, with their Clan-specific feats) to mess around with and "make work" for my own setting, which doesn't have Rokugan's clans and such.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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ranger_reg wrote:
lord_karsus wrote:-I meant that more as in rules, rather than settings. I'd prefer to have the two separate, so that they don't rub off too much on each other. That way, I don't have setting-specific classes (ie Rokugan's Samurai, with their Clan-specific feats) to mess around with and "make work" for my own setting, which doesn't have Rokugan's clans and such.
Meh. Just remove the Rokugan cosmetic trapping and insert your own. For me, it's easier when WotC rubbed me the wrong way with the 3.5e Samurai class in Complete Warrior.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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lord_karsus wrote:
ranger_reg wrote:Meh. Just remove the Rokugan cosmetic trapping and insert your own.
-The point is to NOT have to do that, or minimize it.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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ranger_reg wrote:
lord_karsus wrote:-The point is to NOT have to do that, or minimize it.
I know. I felt that way before...

Before WotC decided to go 3.5e and make that ridiculous cookie-cutter single-flavored samurai in the Complete Warrior.

IOW, just when I thought WotC couldn't make a terrible samurai class markup, they came out with something even worse, making the previous 3.0e samurai tolerable in my eyes. It's not great, just tolerable.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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lord_karsus wrote:-I mixed the two together, to a degree, and added some extra stuff, and just made a Homebrew Samurai class. It took the basic build of the OA class, with the "upgrading Katana", added in a few abilities found in the CA class, and added a feat or two I found in DRAGON.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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swanyusd wrote:Actually, there is a pretty good system based on feudal Japan called Bushido. It was written back in the 80s I think. It's not a terrible system, although the rules books are written in the old fashion RPG style, where nothing is placed where you think it would be and there is no index.

The L5R roll&keep system is pretty solid, too, but is quite deadly to players. It's one of the least survivable systems, IMO. Of course, my group has a kick-down-the-door and kick some ***** mentality, not the intrigue-diplomacy that a truly great oriental campaign requires.

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Re: Oriental Adventures: questions from an OA noob

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the_simple_seeker_ii wrote:Please check here, on a system called Legends of the Samurai

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