Dungeons & Dragons Fans Seek Removal of Oriental Adventures From Online Marketplace

oriental adventures
(Photo: Wizards of the Coast)

Dungeons & Dragons fans are pushing Wizards of the Coast to remove the First Edition supplement Oriental Adventures from the DMs Guild marketplace. Over the weekend, Daniel Kwan, the co-host of the Asians Represents tabletop podcast, called on Wizards of the Coast to pull the 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting book Oriental Adventures from the DMs Guild marketplace, noting that the book pushed a number of outdated Asian stereotypes. "When you buy [Oriental Adventures], you show [Wizards of the Coast] that you are okay with Asian people being represented by blatant stereotypes," Kwan wrote on Twitter. He also noted that by having Oriental Adventures available for sale, it shows consumers that these legacy products are to be consumed despite their use of dated and racist stereotypes. Kwan pointed out that having Oriental Adventures available for sale runs contrary to a recent statement recently released by the Dungeons & Dragons design team, which stressed that one of the explicit design goals of the current version of D&D was to depict humanity in "all its beautiful diversity."

Oriental Adventures was originally published by TSR (the original publisher of Dungeons & Dragons) back in 1985. It was the first D&D supplement to focus on a non-European inspired setting, and introduced the concept of "non-weapon" proficiencies, which are now a critical part of the game. While the book was a best-seller at the time, none of its writers were Asian and the book has been heavily criticized by Asian fans and designers for its liberal use of stereotypes of various Asian cultures and by mixing those cultures together to form one homogenized fictional culture meant to represent an entire continent's worth of cultures. Dungeons & Dragons released an entire line of adventures based on Oriental Adventures, along with a campaign setting detailing the world of Kara-Tur, which features regions based on many different Asian cultures. Dungeons & Dragons also released an Oriental Adventures book for its 3rd Edition ruleset focused on Rokugan, which traditionally is used as the setting of Legend of the Five Rings.

Dungeons & Dragons' current Fifth Edition ruleset makes only passing references to a handful of the concepts found in Oriental Adventures, and it's been nearly 20 years since D&D last tried to navigate the outdated stereotypes baked into the world of Kara-Tur. Despite this, Oriental Adventures is a "Mithral Bestseller" on the DMs Guild, meaning that over 2,500 people have purchased the old supplement, and that Wizards of the Coast has received 50% of the profits from those sales. Even the use of the word "Oriental" is problematic, with many considering its use when describing people or cultures to be offensive.

Kwan goes into more detail about the problematic elements of Oriental Adventures as part of the "Asians Read" series on his Asians Represent Twitch channel. The episodes discussing Oriental Adventures can be found here.