Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Orientalism and Adventurers

Still writing my d100 Sarcophagi which is looking good
Might go for a PDF compilation for post 800

Based on thread about the OSR parallel earth atlas and Why no china?
For the record get Bronze & Blood for your ancient Iraq.

kara tur box set felt a bit rushed by earlier box set standards but it was very dense. As a teen I liked it but was a bit overwhelmed. Rokugun fans rage on it as racist (and we have seen that essay on OA book) but i cant remember much about it. The first OA module was a dense classic sandbox worth looking at. I like history gaming but I had sense TSR applying it to forgotten realms and mystara felt a bit lazy at times and shortcutting with history rather than a homage to history or using creatively (Mystara often did it well - forgotten realms seemed like 1890s mythic and epic history in better moments). The green history second ed books were very good - Rome, Charlemagne, Vikings, etc.

I guess for OSR problem is to make settings not based on tired tropes of Europe and Tolkien. Orientalist romance has answers and problems. Against The Wicked City is my current favorite read and respectful to Tengrism, one of the worlds fastest growing and oldest religions. Id find it a problem to write about Australian Aboriginal mythology as they have specific cultural rules on appropriation and even mentioning or depicting entities. Aladdin is portrayed in kids books and pantomime as Islamic middle east or Islamic china or Confucian china and often a terrible cliche mash up of them all.

This is why I like Clark Ashton Smith fantasy. He can get the exotic vibe going without being too similar anything specific (when not using fantasy France). No players are going to read your personal Silmarillion and you don't need that much depth to rob graves and kill humanoids. Art is often a better intro to a setting than too many words. A price list with weapons and equipment and wages (gurps) is a great help for players envisaging a setting. Material culture from history is a good basis for a setting while clumsy adaptions can make you look like a tool. See Gods of Egypt or Frank Millar films if you want get idea of what not to be.

I have some issues with OA and Rokugan and most samurai fanboys. I think medieval Japan was probably as bad as Sparta and I don't want to glamorize them. I guess my own setting has a flawed Eastern continent inspired by pulp and history and old gaming stuff. I could probably change a few things and call them a type of elves and people would react differently.

I have a three warring kingdoms surrounded by smaller kingdoms to north and south with different climates, a great wasteland with barbarians and orcs to the west. Most notably all live in fear of great immortal master of the mountain where he manipulates all from his underground city and haunted plateau. His cult and black lotus resin is spread world wide and helps keep region isolated from other continents. Some say he serves a subterranean immortal paradise, some elder gods or remnants of the age of monster kings or is even the lord of the land of the dead. FuManchu and Agent13 probably a influence too. HPL Mythos Leng and Chambers King in Yellow in there a bit too.

Players once expressed interest in travelling there and taking over from the great mastermind of the mountain but this was a bit foolish. We had some characters retire off screen to go there and cause trouble and steal the drug trade. You guessed it they were not paladins or LG.

When I heard about Yoon Suin I thought about might replace my China analogue but now I would fit it underneath. I love Japan and Japanese but I might have a forested island chain of Ainu like people


  1. Really glad you're enjoying the ATWC blog, Chris! Elfmaids and Octopi has always been one of my favourite OSR blogs, so it's great to be able to give something back!

    I also really like Clark Ashton Smith's 'Zothique', partly because - as you say - it uses all the Orientalist imagery without ever once pretending that it has anything to do with real-world Asia, past or present. Which is probably the best way to use it, to be honest...

    1. cheers findingf your blog was best thing i got from that thread of patrick's

      probably some of the best character classes ive seen

  2. "No players are going to read your personal Silmarillion and you don't need that much depth to rob graves and kill humanoids."

    So true

    "I think medieval Japan was probably as bad as Sparta and I don't want to glamorize them."



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