Wednesday, June 19, 2013

TSR's OA Adventure Modules

My Chanbara rules are in a playable form.  Not polished, far from being released (and I still need to finish the setting chapter).  But the rules are down.  I've got all of my work for grad school done for the semester.  Time to round up some players for a play test or five.

I'm looking at the old Oriental Adventures modules by TSR.  Most of them have a primarily Japanese theme.  I could just switch the setting to The Jade Islands (Yu Archipelago to the NE of Zhongyang Dalu), or even use Kara-Tur as the setting and just update mechanics when necessary.  It would save me considerable time and effort.

But are they worth playing?  Anyone out there have any experience with them as either a DM or a player?  A brief look through them shows they're almost all for the AD&D sweet spot of levels 5-8, if they even bother to give a level range.  Not the best for a play test, as I'd want to try out all levels of play in a short time if I can.  But if I can modify for setting and new mechanics, I'm sure I can manage to up or down the challenge level as well.  Plus, I've got a few old OA adventures from my Evansville Group days and my Yamanashi Group days that I also could use.

Finally, anyone interested in playing over G+ Hangouts?  The time would be Saturdays 9pm Korea/Japan time, 12 noon GMT, early early morning US/Canada times.


  1. You ever find your way up here to Seoul?

  2. Hmm...

    OA1 Swords of the Daimyo does have a low level starter mini-adventure that's got a plot similar to Seven Samurai, as well as a sequel for higher level characters (and an intro scenario for non-'oriental' character transitions).

    OA2 Night of the Seven Swords seems okay, never really played it.

    OA3 Ochimo the Spirit Warrior is initially set in the Chinese analog of Shou Lung, but could be adapted, I can't remember if I played with this module itself or a similar adventure, but the plot is a bit more anime style than chanbara.

    OA4 Blood of the Yakuza, despite the title, is more of a campaign setting with political intrigue (and, okay, yes, a yakuza gang war) than an adventure module per se. I'd say it would probably also require a bit of work for use.

    OA5 Mad Monkey vs The Dragon Claw is pretty much a Chinese themed module that would require a lot of work to use in a chanbara setting.

    OA6 Ronin Challenge and OA7 Test of the Samurai, despite the names, are dual Chinese (and beyond) themed modules (though OA7 is nominally set in Wa). I haven't really played either because the story didn't appeal, but they may be usable for higher levels.

  3. Drew-Not very often. Would you be interested in joining our G+ games?

    Kuseru - Nice overviews. Thanks, that should help.

  4. OA is problematic. It mashes Asian cultures together with no real rhyme or reason (primarily Japan and China) so Shou Lung has samurai and geisha. Not very well done, but easily remedied if you actually care. Korea was never very high-profile culturally until recently, so Koryo in Kara-Tur gets absolutely no detail and is almost an afterthought.

    Wa is Tokugawa Japan, Kozakura is late Ashikaga/Sengoku Jidai Japan. Shou Lung is Imperial China (think Han or Ming) and Tu Lung is kind of in rebellion and makes me think of Liu Bei's and Sun Jian's states during the Three Kingdoms period.

    If you can get the Kara-Tur boxed set in pdf (they used to have it for free on the Wizard's site way back when) it isn't a bad resource.

    For feudal Japanese culture and society, I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend the SENGOKU RPG. UNBELIEVABLY detailed. Food, clothing, etiquette, religion, everything you could possibly want to know. It's book on shinobi is also a great resource. I believe the system was discontinued because it didn't sell well, but I bought the main book and loved it as a resource. I feel as though the system is a bit clunky and imperfect, even though I never got to try it. Nevertheless, I cannot recommend SENGOKU highly enough, it is that good for pure information.

    OA4 is, as Kuseru-san mentioned, more of a campaign setting. However, I find it to be AWESOME and use it as a template for city-style gang wars and just swap out the cultural elements to fit whatever setting I'm using. It's a great open-ended sandbox that gives your players a huge amount of freedom to involve themselves as much as they want. Yeah, it's a bit of work if you want to run a failro--ahem--RAILroad, but if you do like Justin Alexander does and use node-based plot designs, adventures and stories can create themselves.

    I don't know how well OA4 could be done as chanbara, but since it's so open-ended I imagine you could do a lot with it to keep that sort of narrative flavor.

  5. I played "Blood of the Yakuza". Like someone said above it's more a campaign setting since it's a city module. I recommend it.

    And then I played some other module, which I can't remember what it was, maybe "Ronin Challenge". It was long and we never finished it.