Oriental Adventures is a strange book. As with most of my D&D purchases, I got it used and didn’t have the exact rules it was made for. When I ran my sadly short Oriental Adventures campaign, I was using the D&D Rules Cyclopedia, Oriental Adventures, the Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual II. The resulting campaign was combat heavy, light on authentic Asian culture, and featured a fight between a firbolg and a one-armed samurai.
Oriental Adventures was, along with Unearthed Arcana, the book I lusted for the most in D&D. The thought of ninjas and samurais running amok in D&D Land made my adolescent-self way too excited. When I finally scored a copy at a used bookstore, the ride home was intolerably long. I sat and stared at the purple lettering on the cover, which screamed out “exotic” to me, and the painting of a ninja fighting a samurai on a weird Japanese horse type thing. It only got better from there.
Every page made me grin. The sword swinging kensai! Calligraphy! Korobokuru! What can I say, I was an excitable boy! Though I only got to GM it, and sadly never play as a kensai, my fondest memories of D&D involve the lands of Kara-Tur and the ninja movie inspired madness my friends and I wreaked there.
Sure, Oriental Adventures may reek of 1980’s Japanomania, now, but I still love it. Anyone want to GM a game of 1st Edition? I’ll go find my copy of the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide!