I’m backing off of the idea.
Most of the changes I wanted to make were nominal. There are a few deviations from the regular Dungeon Crawl Classics rules, mostly new classes. I was basing bits and pieces off of the often maligned AD&D Oriental Adventures, but not entirely. The other question I was struggling with was an actual setting for the thing.
The base DCC setting is keyed more toward European medieval fantasy, maybe? I think that’s a fair statement. It’s certainly based off of a game that was clearly medieval European fantasy.
AD&D inspired me to explore another culture.
Unfortunately, in this case, I was raised in the U.S. Everything about me screams “Midwestern white guy!” at 100 yards. I can’t change that, as much as I’d like to sometimes. I’m sorry to say I’m stuck with it.
Growing up in Iowa, I fell in love with First Edition AD&D. My favorite gaming books included Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures. Nowadays both of those books have some pretty ugly racial biases associated with them. I don’t love those books for the racist content, though.
Quite the opposite, actually. I fell in love with Japanese and Chinese culture as a result. I still want to visit Japan. I used to want to live there. Chinese food was the mainstay of my diet for many years. As a result of being so interested in Japan, China and other cultures I studied anthropology and sociology in college. Thanks AD&D for getting that particular ball rolling.
It makes me sad when I see people getting torn apart on Twitter and elsewhere for producing what are being considered racist materials. The post that brought the problem to my attention is here. I’m not directly involved with this product in any way, but it seemed okay at first glance. The product in question is an upcoming Kickstarter, so there’s still time for it to change although it’s not looking likely.
Sometimes I don’t think it’s entirely intentional. I’m not apologizing for blatant racism. But as has been said about AD&D Oriental Adventures and subsequent works, sometimes the intention is to emulate and show appreciation for those cultures. We didn’t have sensitivity readers back in ye olden days of the 1980’s.
How many other middle America white kids got introduced to other parts of the world through D&D? How many Dungeon Masters looked into ancient Egypt, the Aztecs, or Malaysian culture while digging for inspiration in their D&D games. Where is the dividing line between “This is really cool! Let’s include it in the game.” to “Let’s make fun of this ‘foreign’ culture?”
So, what’s the solution?
I’ve put some thought into it. Regardless of what game system I decide to use, my next fantasy campaign world is going to contain specific elements from various other real world cultures presented respectfully. For example, there will be samurai, loyal to a code similar to Bushido. I intend to have a group of elite weapon masters somewhat similar to the way Kensai were presented. Priests will have Ofuda and carry staves with rings. Shamanism is definitely going to be a thing in my world. Magic Users will have an elemental tradition and possibly a code they have to follow. Yes, there will be ninja because I think they’re cool.
Some of the elements I loved from those old AD&D books are amazing for use as game elements. I love martial arts. The old OA build-your-own martial arts system was my favorite thing about that book. Monks are totally going to have access to that.
There’s a twist.
There’s an interesting old RPG called Skyrealms of Jorune. It was super creative both in presentation and system elements. The game had a lexicon all its own. I admire that game because they rewire the GM and players’ mindsets to fit their game. It’s completely unique among RPGs.
What if someone designed a fantasy RPG in that fashion? What if we change up the nomenclature entirely. What if I institute a blend of Chinese Imperial culture with a Japanese shogunate and call it something completely new?
What if we have katanas, but we don’t call them katanas? What if they’re Orcish Warswords? or Dwarven Honor Blades? The common sword of the realm is the Jian. (Chinese Longsword.) Hopefully I’ve made my point.
We’re not restricted to one culture.
I still intend to have some of the same old Tolkien-esque European fantasy elements. Oh, and dinosaurs in places. To top that off, we’re still going to borrow from a lot of the usual game references.
You know, monsters from the OG Monster Manual. I’ll still beg, borrow, and steal demons (Oni) from Warhammer Fantasy, D&D 3E and 5E. I’m possibly pulling in a couple of races from other games as well. I like Earthdawn. What can I say?
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a fantastic day! I appreciate you.