Oriental Adventures is an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook for playing characters in a campaign inspired by east-Asian culture and mythology, primarily Japanese and Chinese. It introduces players to the Kara-Tur setting, which would later be incorporated into the Forgotten Realms.
Creating the player character
Oriental Adventures introduces rules for the new comeliness ability score. These rules previously appeared in Loyal Readers, Dragon #67 (Nov 1982), p.61-62 and in Unearthed Arcana (1e) (1985). This chapter otherwise only describes the standard six ability scores in the context of the new character races and classes.
Character races and classes
This sourcebook introduces three new character races.
- Korobokuru: "Oriental" dwarves who live in isolation from humans. They have bonuses to Strength and Constitution, but penalties to Intelligence and Comeliness. Korobokuru (also spelled korpokkur) are based on the folklore of the Ainu peoples of northern Japan.
- Hengeyokai: Intelligent shapechanging animals with the power to can take humanoid form. Subtypes include carp, cat, crab, crane, dog, drake, fox, hare, monkey, raccoon, dog, rat, and sparrow, each with their own ability score modifiers and unique traits. The name hengeyokai is from the Japanese henge,「変化」, meaning "shapechanging", and youkai,「妖怪」, "spirit", referring to a type of supernatural creature in Japanese folklore.
- Spirit folk: Descendants of humans and nature spirits. Subtypes include bamboo, river, and sea spirit folk, each with unique traits. They have strong connections to nature.
This sourcebook introduces ten new character classes:
- "Oriental barbarian": A warrior from the cultures on the periphery of the civilized nations of Kara Tur: the steppelands, forest, or jungle. Considered a fighter-type class, they require high Strength, Constitution and Dexterity, and use d12 for hit dice. They gain different proficiencies depending on their traits.
- Bushi: A simple warrior such as a mercenary or bandit. They are a fighter-type class who serves no particular lord. Bushi originates as the Japanese term for "warrior", and is well known in the word bushido.
- Kensai: A "sword saint" or "sword master", a sort of fighter who specializes in the mastery of one weapon. It appears to be based on the Japanese kensei, 「剣聖」, literally "sword saint", a title sometimes applied to legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, whose fearlessness and two-handed combat style described in A Book of Five Rings is reflected in the kensai character class abilities. Characters of this sort appear in Japanese Samurai cinema or "chambara" movies.
- Monk: A slightly modified version of the monk class appearing in the Players Handbook (1e) (1978).
- Ninja: A spy or assassin. A character can only dual-class into ninja, a mechanic which would later be used in D&D third edition's prestige classes. They have many abilities of the thief class, such as to move silently and hide in shadows, and . The ninja is based on feudal-era Japanese spies, also known as shinobi, who are well known in modern times through Japanese pop-culture.
- Samurai: A lawful-aligned warrior who swears absolute fealty to his daimyo, or lord. The samurai is skilled in the katana and daikyu (great bow), horsemanship, and traditional arts such as calligraphy. A samurai without a lord becomes a ronin, or wanderer.
- Shukenja: A wandering priest who leads a life of poverty and meditation. They cast spells similarly to a cleric. Their code of behavior forbids unnecessary violence, the eating of meat, and gluttonous eating or drinking. They recieve XP for healing others, but less XP for enemies defeated in combat. It is inspired by the shugenja, practitioners of the syncretic Japanese religion of shugendou.
- Sohei: A warrior monk, trained to defend large monasteries and other holy sites. They are considered a subtype of cleric and cast spells like a shukenja, but in comparison have a greater focus on fighting and a reduced spellcasting ability, not unlike the paladin of standard AD&D. They are based on Souhei, Japanese Buddhist warriors.
- Wu Jen: A spellcaster similar to the Magic-User, with a focus on magic of the five elements: Earth, Fire, Metal, Water, and Wood. They are bound to certain taboos, gaining a new taboo every five levels; for example, a wu jen might be forbidden from touching a dead body, cutting their hair, or lighting a fire. Wu jen are based on the Chinese Wu, translated as "shaman", a practitioner of Chinese shamanism or wū jiào. The name "wu jen" might come from the Chinese wūshén, 「巫神」, "sorcerer".
- Yakuza: A type of thief class based around organized crime families. They are of lawful alignment and follow a code of honor. They are inspired by the modern-day , Japanese mafia famed in pop culture, who trace their roots back several centuries to low-status crime gangs and gamblers. The name yakuza is believed to originate as a reading of ya-ku-za ("8-9-3"), the lowest hand in the card game Oicho-Kabu.
This chapter also describes alignment as it relates to the setting of Kara-Tur, languages, and rules on multiple attacks and multiclassing.
Families, clans, and caste
A character's social status is considered to be important in Oriental Adventures. Players are expected to determine their character's birth rank and family structure, with higher-ranking classes starting with increased reaction modifiers when meeting NPCs, higher honor, and more birthrights (inheritances of property, cash, or valuable items). Samurai are especially high rank, while yakuza are low rank.
Rules are presented for family structures, including charting marriage, adoptions, deaths in the family, and an ancestry table featuring intrigues which may affect the family's honor.
Honor is considered important in Oriental Adventures. Characters determine their honor at character creation and can gain and lose points of honor during the campaign.
Honor is affected by numerous events. It is increased by such things as great deeds, granting favor to an NPC, marrying into a higher-ranking family, winning a duel (as a kensai), claiming territory from a rival yakuza family, or dying heroically. It is decreased by such things as being accused of a crime (even if innocent), improper social behavior, being recognized as a hengeyokai, failing a ninja mission, or committing treason.
Characters with exceptionally high honor become famous and draw the attention of local lords who seek their service. When the character dies, their honor grants the player's next character additional points to their ability scores or hit points. However, a character whose honor is reduced to zero is immediately out of the game and must be retired—the rules specifically state that they must crumple up their character sheet and throw it away.
Money and equipment
The currency of Kara-Tur is based on Chinese currency, using copper, silver, and paper notes. Coins are made with a hole in the middle so that they can be threaded along string for ease of carrying. The smallest coin is the copper fen, with 5 fen making 1 copper yuan. 100 fen make one silver tael coin, and 10 tael make one silver ch'ien ingot. Paper currency, called ch'ao, is worth 1 tael, although there are also 10 ch'ao and 100 ch'ao notes. There are no gold, electrum, or platinum coins.
Weapons, armor, clothing, and other goods inspired primarily by Chinese and Japanese are listed in this chapter.
In addition to many weapons from standard D&D, some of which are known under various names, weapons detailed in this book include the bo stick, boku-toh (wooden practice katana), chain, chijiriki, chopsticks (as an improvised weapon), chu-no-ku (repeating crossbow), daikyu (longbow), fang, gunsen (war fan), jitte, jo stick, kama, katana, kau sin ke, kawanaga, kiseru, kumade, kusari-gama, kyoketsuogi, lajatang, lasso, man catcher, metsubishi, nagimaki, naginata, needle, nekode, ninja-to, nunchaku, parang, pellet bow, sai, sang kauw, shaken, shakujo yari, shikomi-zue, shuriken, siangkam, sode garami, tetsu-bishi, tetsubo, three-piece rod, tui-fa, uchi-ne, wakizashi, and whip.
Armor and armor pieces introduced by this book, primarily inspired by historic Japanese equipment, include the do-maru, haidate, hara-ate, hara-ate-gawa, haramaki, haramaki-do, horo, kabuto kote, jingasa, o-yori (great armor), sode, and sune-ate.
The proficiencies chapter introduces rules for multiple attacks per round with various weapons appearing in the book, including with weapon specialization. It introduces new non-weapon proficiencies, divided into Common, Artisan, Court, and Barbarian categories.
The most unique of these are the court proficiencies, Japanese-inspired skills of the upper classes: calligraphy, etiquette, falcory, flower arranging, heraldry, landscape gardening, noh, origami, painting, poetry, religion, and tea ceremony. Another unique proficiency is iaijutsu, the art of drawing a weapon instantly.
Characters may find themselves challenged to formal or informal contest of skill, gaining experience and honor if they succeed, and losing honor if they fail or refuse a challenge.
Spell lists are provided for the shukenja and wu jen classes. The sohei may use a limited selection of shukenja spells. Spell descriptions are also printed even for spells which already appear in the Players Handbook (1e) (1978).
The shukenja spell list includes abjure, advice, aid, air walk, ancient curse, animal companion, astral spell, atonement, augury, beneficence, bless, calm, castigate, chant, commune with greater spirit, commune with lesser spirit, create spring, cure blindness, cure critical wounds, cure disease, cure light wounds, cure serious wounds, death's door, deflection, detect charm, detect curse, detect disease, detect evil, detect harmony, detect lie, detect life, detect magic, detect poison, detect shapechanger, dispel evil, dispel magic, divination, divine wind, divining rod, dream sight, dream vision, endurance, enthrall, exaction, exorcise, fate, find the path, flame walk, force shapechange, gate, heal, hold person, holy (unholy) word, holy symbol, immunity to weapons, inanimate servant, instruct, invisibility to enemies, invisibility to spirits, know alignment, know history, know motivation, levitate, longevity, magical vestment, mental strength, messenger, neutralize poison, oath, obscurement, omen, pacify, penetrate disguise, plane shift, polymorph self, possess, possess animal, prayer, protection from evil, 10', protection from spirits, purify food and drink, quest, quickgrowth, raise dead, reanimation, reincarnate, remember, remorse, remove curse, remove paralysis, request, resist, restore spirit, resurrection, reward, slow poison, smite, snake barrier, snake charm, snake summoning, speak with animais, speak with dead, speak with monsters, speak with plants, spell immunity, strength, substitution, sustain, tongues, trance, true seeing, warning, weapon bless, wind walk, and withdraw.
The wu jen spell list includes accuracy, aiming at the target, animal companion, animal growth, animate dead, animate fire, animate water, animate wood, antipathy/sympathy, apparition, astral speil, aura, bargain, bind, body outside body, call, chameleon, cloud ladder, cloud trapeze, cloudburst, commune with greater spirit, commune with lesser spirit, comprehend languages, cone of cold, confusion, conjure elemental, control weather, creeping darkness, crystalbrittle, dancing blade, detect evil, detect invisibility, detect magic, detect shapechanger, dimension door, disguise, disintegrate, dismissal, dispel magic, dispel illusion, dream vision, drowsy insects, duo-dimension, elemental burst, elemental servant, elemental turning, emotion, enchant an item, enchanted blade, esp, fabricate, face, feign death, fiery eyes, finding the center, fire breath, fire enchantment, fire rain, fire shuriken, fog cloud, gambler’s luck, gate, geas, ghost light, giant size, glassee, hail of stone, haste, hold person, hold portal, hypnotic pattern, hypnotism, ice blight, ice knife, illusionary script, imprisonment, improved invisibility, improved phantasmal force, incendiary cloud, instant regeneration, internal fire, invisibility, ironwood, knock, know history, limited wish, locate object, lower water, magic missile, magnetism, major creation, mass, mass suggestion, melt, memory, message, metal skin, metal to rust, mind blank, minor creation, misdirection, move earth, obedience, omen, pain, part water, passwall, permanency, permanent illusion, phantasmal force, planar call, plant growth, polymorph any object, polymorph other, polymorph self, power word, blind, power word, kill, power word, stun, prestidigitation, programmed illusion, protection from charm, protection from normal missiles, pyrotechnics, quell, read magic, reanimation, remove curse, repulsion, reverse flow, rope trick, secret signs, servant horde, shadow door, shape change, shield, shout, smoke shape, smoky form, speak with dead, spider climb, spirit self, spiritwrack, steam breath, still water, stinking cloud, stone shape, stone to flesh, strength, summon spirit, summoning wind, surelife, swim, sword of darkness, sword of deception, symbol, telekinesis, time stop, tool, transfix, true sight, tsunami, unseen servant, vanish, veil, vengeance, ventriloquism, vessel, vocalize, wall of bones, wall of fire, wall of fog, wall of force, wall of iron, wall of stone, warp stone, warp wood, water protection, water to poison, whip, whirlwind, whispering wind, wind breath, wish, withering palm, wizard lock, wizard mark, and wood rot.
Combat rules are presented here to cover iaijutsu, missile fire from horseback, unhorsing (pulling a rider from their mount), and disarming. A unique mechanic introduced here is the psychic duel, a sort of contest of will by which two opponents attempt to stare each other down before the fight has even begun.
Rules are presented for martial arts, including such specific styles as karate, kung-fu, tae kwon do, and jujutsu, as well as styles invented by the DM. Martial arts can be either "hard" or "soft", and each can have special maneuvers, ranging from types of punches and kicks to supernatural techniques like levitation and distance death attacks.
Events and encounters
This chapter presents the calendar of Kara-Tur, and tables of major random events which may occur on a yearly, monthly, and daily basis, such as famine, the assassination of a lord, rebellion, bandit activity, or bad harvest.
It also presents encounter tables broken down by terrain type.
This section introduces several new monsters, as well as a list of creatures from the Monster Manual (1e) (1977), Monster Manual II (1e) (1983), Fiend Folio (1e) (1981), and Legends & Lore (1e) (1985) which fit in the setting.
Monsters appearing in this book are the bajang, bakemono, bisan, buso, giant carp, con-tinh, doc cu'o'c, oriental dragon ( li lung, lung wang, shen lung, t'ien lung, chiang lung, tun mi lung), gaki, gargantua, generals of the animal kings ( general tiger, general ox, general monkey), goblin rat, goblin spider, hai nu hsing-sing, hu hsien, ikiryo, jishin mushi, kala, kappa, kuei, men, nat, nature spirits, ningyo, oni (common oni, go-zu oni, and me-zu oni), p'oh, shan sao, shirokinukatsukami, and tengu.
Treasure and magical items
Magic items appearing in this book include the banner of protection, bell of warning, bell of protection, biwa of calm, biwa of charm, biwa of discord, charm of protection from disease, charm of protection from fire, charm of protection from spirits, charm of protection from theft, diamond mace, drums of thunder, eight diagram coins, everproducing rice mortar, gem of wishes, gong of dispelling, mallet of luck, minyan, mirror of curing, mirror of enlightenmint, mirror of fear, mirror of spirit seeking, net of spirit snaring, noisome spirit chasers, paper of forms, pearl of protection from fire, pearl of the ebbing tide, pearl of rising tide, scroll of protection from spirits, seal of deception, seal of vigor, tablet of spirit summoning, wheels of fire, and wondrous writing set.
Rules for using certain standard D&D magic items are also provided here.
In two short chapters titled An Overview of Kara-Tur and Daily Life in Kara-Tur, the book describes the geography, history, demographics, religion, culture, names, and manners of the setting. Maps are given for a number of buildings.
Development and release
The original concept for Oriental Adventures was conceived by Gary Gygax and Francois Marcela-Froideval. In his foreword to the book, Gygax described that he had considered an east Asian version of D&D since the 1970s, perhaps due to displeasure regarding the previous inclusion of the monk class in Blackmoor (Supplement 2) (1975), which he felt did not fit well in a European-themed setting.
In the article Loyal Readers, Dragon #67 (Nov 1982), p.67, Gygax announced his intent to work on the book:
- "It is hoped that sometimes soon we can begin on another version of the AD&D game system which is based on Sino-Japanese culture. While such a work will be principally for sale in the Far East, you may rest assured that an English-language version will be available to all interested players, so that a complete and meaningful campaign based on Oriental tradition and myth can be run."
This article also introduced the Comeliness statistic, based on an idea by Francois Marcela-Froideval, which would go on to appear in Oriental Adventures.
In From the Sorcerer's Scroll, Dragon #90 (Oct 1984), p.16, Gygax described that he had begun working with Froideval on a sequel to the Players Handbook (1e) (1978) which would introduce "Oriental" character archetypes to D&D. His intent was that Froideval would write the work in French, which TSR would then translate and edit for release by the fall of 1985.
After several years of delay on the project, work on Oriental Adventures began in spring of 1985. Design and production were completed by early autumn.
Although Gygax's name appeared on the cover of Oriental Adventures, most of the design on the book was by David "Zeb" Cook. Gygax conceived the original concept and wrote the original outline, but due to challenges managing TSR he was unable to contribute much to the book beyond some development late in the project. Francois Marcela-Froideval submitted several pages of writing, although much of what he submitted was discarded by Cook and ultimately not used. Oriental Adventures was Cook's first D&D rulebook.
According to his foreword, while Gygax felt that the final product did not fit his original vision for the work, in part due to changes to the game system, this was ultimately for the better. Later, in 2004, Gygax would complain that Cook's work on the project was inferior to Froideval's, although it did still overall reflect Gygax's original outline. Financial difficulties at TSR forced Gygax to release the book as soon as possible, and while he would have liked to place Froideval in charge of a rewrite to restore his influence in the final product, the company could not afford the financial cost of delaying the product's release.
Cook cited influences on the work including elements of numerous east Asian cultures, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Phillipine, Malaysian, Indo-Chinese, Mongolian, Ainu, and Siberian, ranging from ancient to medieval. In his foreword, he described a long-time fascination with the Orient, and enjoyed reading numerous sources in his research, primarily from Japan as most of the sources available. In creating Kara-Tur, he sought to describe east Asia more as the book's audience would understand it in terms of popular culture, rather than strictly adhering to historical accuracy. Cook intended each of the lands of Kara-Tur to broadly represent a specific time and place in history.
Half of the book as edited by senior TSR editor Steve Winter, who left on his honeymoon partway through the project and passed the job to Mike Breault. Proofreader Jon Pickens worked on researching sources for the book. The bibliography cites numerous works on east-Asian history, culture and mythology, primarily Chinese and Japanese. Among them are The Art of War by Sun Tzu, A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, Tales of Japanese Justice and Tales of Samurai Honor by Ihara Saikaku, Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, the New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, and Dragons, Gods & Spirits From Chinese Mythology by Tao Tao Liu Sanders.
Gygax wrote his foreword in September 1985, calling it a "landmark work". Cook wrote a subsequent forward, dated September 17, 1985, gloating that this gave him the opportunity to create the last part of the book to be written. Editor Mike Breault followed this with his own editorial, dated October 2, 1985, noting that he was the last, but "Don't anyone tell Zeb".
The title and release of Oriental Adventures were mentioned in Dragon #100 (Aug 1985), p.98 as an upcoming release for later that year. Gary Gygax mentioned it in Update from the chief, Dragon #101 (Sep 1985), p.8, describing it as "the next in the AD&D game series, and I hope you will find it as interesting an enjoyable as Unearthed [Arcana]." Coming Attractions, Dragon #102 (Oct 1985), p.36 describes the "AD&D® ORIENTAL ADVENTURES Handbook" as detailing an expansion to the World of Greyhawk, although the final book did not make any explicit references to that setting, and following Gygax's imminent departure from TSR, Kara-Tur would canonically become part of the rival Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
Oriental Adventures was released in October 1985.
Reception and influence
Several Oriental Adventures supplements were produced. The "OA" series comprised OA1 Swords of the Daimyo (1986), OA2 Night of the Seven Swords (1986), OA3 Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior (1987), OA4 Blood of the Yakuza (1987), OA5 Mad Monkey vs the Dragon Claw (1988), OA6 Ronin Challenge (1990), and OA7 Test of the Samurai (1989). The last two were released for AD&D 2nd edition.
Kara-Tur was given a complete campaign setting boxed set as part of the Forgotten Realms setting: Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988). An adventure module was also released, titled FROA1 Ninja Wars (1990). TSR also published Warlords: An Oriental Adventures Gamebook, a solo adventure gamebook by Zeb Cook. An AD&D 2e Monstrous Compendium was produced: MC6 Monstrous Compendium: Kara-Tur Appendix (1990).
At Gen Con 19 (Aug 1986), Zeb Cook and Steve Winter hosted an "Oriental Adventures" seminar.
Dragon #121 (May 1987) included an Oriental Adventures inspired cover art by Jim Holloway and numerous Oriental Adventures inspired articles, including Whaddya mean, Jack the Samurai?, The Deadliest Perfume, The Life and Death of a Castle, The Geisya,The Genin, Sun Dragon Castle, an Oriental Adventures issue of Sage Advice, and an assemblable castle.
Subsequent Dragon articles supporting Oriental Adventures included A Step Beyond Shogun, Dragon #122 (Jun 1987), p.18, Marshalling the Martial Arts, Dragon #122 (Jun 1987), p.46, Lords & Legends, Dragon #123 (Jul 1987), p.42, Kicks and Sticks, Dragon #124 (Aug 1987), p.40, Bazaar of the Bizarre: Treasures of the Orient, Dragon #126 (Oct 1987), p.50, A Menagerie of Martial Arts, Dragon #127 (Nov 1987), p.48, Arcane Lore, Dragon #130 (Feb 1988), p.16, Oriental Sea, Dragon #130 (Feb 1988), p.65, Wards Against Evil, Dragon #133 (May 1988), p.40, Building Blocks, City Style, Dragon #136 (Aug 1988), p.8, New Kicks in Martial Arts, Dragon #136 (Aug 1988), p.66, Hand-to-Hand Against the Rules, Dragon #139 (Nov 1988), p.58, A Castle Here, A Castle There, Dragon #145 (May 1989), p.14, and Arrows of the East, Dragon #146 (Jun 1989), p.80.
Dragon #151 (Nov 1989) again featured an Oriental Adventures theme, featuring cover art by Jim holloway depicting a female samurai fightin a kappa. Articles included Into the Eastern Realms, The Ecology of the Kappa, Soldiers of the Law, Earn Those Heirlooms!, The Dragon's Bestiary, and The Ecology of the Yuan-ti, along with another OA Sage Advice. Dragon #164 (Dec 1990) was another OA special, with the articles Flying Feet and Lightning Hands, Thing Your Sensei Never Taught You, Bonds of Brotherhood nad Born to Defend.
Other OA articles for AD&D 2nd edition included Where There Is One Sumotori... There's Bound To Be Another!, Dragon #158 (Jun 1990), p.40, Rhythm Warriors, Dragon #159 (Jul 1990), p.74, Lords of the Warring States, Dragon #167 (Mar 1991), p.77, Bazaar of the Bizarre, Dragon #181 (May 1992), p.30, The Other Orientals, Dragon #189 (Jan 1993), p.28, So, You Want to be a Samurai?, Dragon #195 (Jul 1993), p.11, Soul-Swords & Spirit-Slayers, Dragon #198 (Oct 1993), p.83, Dragon #229 (May 1996), p.55, and Humanimals, Dragon #266 (Dec 1999), p.40.
In The future of the game, Dragon #103 (Nov 1985), p.8, Gygax announced his intent work begin work on a second edition of AD&D, where the new Player's Handbook would include material from Unearthed Arcana (1e) (1985) and Oriental Adventures, including an optional section for "Oriental" campaigns. However, Gygax would depart TSR at the end of 1985, and while TSR eventually released Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition in 1989, Gygax would not work on these, and his plans to incorporate Oriental Adventures material did not come to fruition. Zeb Cook, who was ultimately given responsibility for the AD&D 2nd edition revision, chose to exclude east Asian content from the Player's Handbook (2e) (1989) due to space constraints, and also excluded the monk class which had appeared in the Players Handbook (1e) (1978).
In response to a reader's letter in Dragon #114 (Oct 1986), p.3, regarding AD&D 2nd edition, Zeb Cook described an intent to eventually release an AD&D 2nd edition version of Oriental Adventures. No such product was ever released, although revisions of the character classes eventually appeared in the articles The Other Orientals, Dragon #189 (Jan 1993), p.28 and Dragon #229 (May 1996), p.55.
A Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition adaption of this sourcebook was released, Oriental Adventures (3e) (2001). Instead of Kara-Tur, this version was based on the Rokugan campaign setting from the Legend of the Five Rings collectable card game.
Influence on later works
The partial armor rules inspired the article Armor, piece by piece, Dragon #112 (Aug 1986), p.35, by Matt Bandy.
In Combined generation, Dragon #114 (Oct 1986), p.40, author Robert Kelk complained that the character creation rules for AD&D 1st edition were too spread out in multiple locations, and praised Oriental Adventures for putting all its character creation content in one place.
New hengeyokai appeared in Humanimals, Dragon #266 (Dec 1999), p.40.
Oriental Adventures ultimately sold very well, and along with the more popular Unearthed Arcana managed to provide the much-needed cash flow and save TSR from bankrupcy. It featured at gaming conventions for several years, including an RPGA Oriental Adventures tournament at March Fantasy Revel in Milkwaukee, Wisconsin, in March 1987, and an event at WinterCon in January 1991.
In Role-Playing Reviews, Dragon #134 (Jun 1988), p.72-77, Jim Bambra reviwed Oriental Adventures. He praised the integration of its setting lore with its rules, a wide range of character classes, and a solidly "Oriental" feel which was an excellent addition to AD&D.
Gary Gygax never played using Oriental Adventures himself. However, he did play in a game run by Francois Marcel-Froideval using his rules, and at one point owned a folder containing Froideval's east Asian game material.
In 2020, podcaster Daniel Kwan headed a section-by-section multi-part review of Oriental Adventures on Twitch and YouTube, in which he and other reviewers strongly criticized the work as racist and full of outdated stereotypes. Kwan subsequently called for the book to be removed from the Dungeon Masters Guild. Wizards of the Coast later placed a disclaimer on the Dungeon Masters Guild page for Oriental Adventures, as well as on the product pages for every other official D&D product released prior to Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. The disclaimer eventually read as follows:
- Dragon #148 (Aug 1989), p.52.
- Oriental opens new vistas, Dragon #104 (Dec 1985), p.20.
- Q&A with Gary Gygax, page 26. ENWorld, Oct 23, 2002.
- Q&A with Gary Gygax, page 113. ENWorld, Jan 30, 2005.
- Dragon #229 (May 1996), p.55.
- Q&A with Gary Gygax, page 88. ENWorld, Jan 3, 2004.
- Profiles, Dragon #106 (Feb 1986), p.61.
- Dragon #240 (Oct 1997), p.26.
- Dragon #112 (Aug 1986), p.52.
- The Game Wizards: Who Dies?, Dragon #118 (Feb 1987), p.68.
- Convention Calendar, Dragon #119 (Mar 1987), p.94.
- Convention Calendar, Dragon #165 (Jan 1991), p.30.
- Q&A with Gary Gygax, page 89. ENWorld, Jan 3, 2004.
- Dungeons & Dragons Fans Seek Removal of Oriental Adventures From Online Marketplace (comicbook.com). 2020-06-29. Retrieved 2021-01-19.
- Dungeons & Dragons (Twitter). 2020-07-08. Retrieved 2021-01-19.
- Older D&D Books on DMs Guild Now Have A Disclaimer (ENWorld). 2020-07-08. Retrieved 2021-01-19.
- Oriental Adventures (1e) (Dungeon Masters Guild). Retrieved 2021-01-19.