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Korobokuru

Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:06 pm
by Big Mac
The 1st Edition Oriental Adventures book has korobokuru as a racial option.

These dwarves live in places like vast jungles, snowy mountain forests and barren wilderness areas. But are there any specific examples of korobokuru villages in Kara-Tur canon?

The way korobokuru are described makes them sound a bit similar to human barbarians in some respects (and 1e Korobokuru can take the barbarian class). In other respects they sound like the sort of dwarves you would get in Faerûnian lands .

Has anyone looked at the dwarven stuff from core D&D to see how much of it would be appropriate for use with korobokuru and how much of it would not fit in naturally with korobokuru?

(For example, I'm thinking that magic items that only work for dwarves would work for korobokuru in any Kara-Tur game I run...or any Realmspace game I ran that included korobokuru. But it doesn't look like korobokuru have mining skills.)

I know that Sovereign Stone has dwarven horselords. I suppose those might fit in better with korobokuru than core D&D dwarves. Are there any other specific dwarven subraces that are closer to korobokuru than the average dwarves?

Re: Korobokuru

Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:34 pm
by DaveB
Big Mac wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:06 pm
The 1st Edition Oriental Adventures book has korobokuru as a racial option.

These dwarves live in places like vast jungles, snowy mountain forests and barren wilderness areas. But are there any specific examples of korobokuru villages in Kara-Tur canon?

The way korobokuru are described makes them sound a bit similar to human barbarians in some respects (and 1e Korobokuru can take the barbarian class). In other respects they sound like the sort of dwarves you would get in Faerûnian lands .

Has anyone looked at the dwarven stuff from core D&D to see how much of it would be appropriate for use with korobokuru and how much of it would not fit in naturally with korobokuru?

(For example, I'm thinking that magic items that only work for dwarves would work for korobokuru in any Kara-Tur game I run...or any Realmspace game I ran that included korobokuru. But it doesn't look like korobokuru have mining skills.)

I know that Sovereign Stone has dwarven horselords. I suppose those might fit in better with korobokuru than core D&D dwarves. Are there any other specific dwarven subraces that are closer to korobokuru than the average dwarves?
2e stats and descriptions.
http://www.lomion.de/cmm/koroboku.php

Description of their villages are in the habit/society section in the link above. Close to nature, crude huts, etc.

We have used them in 2e and in my own Classic/OSR version.
I imagined them in my game as similar to Montagnards in Vietnam but more primitive in technology.
Hardy, primitive, and perfect for a 'barbarian' society. Their description also mentions that most common class is barbarian, and samurai are rare. No korobokuru clans hold a position high enough to be samurai. As a result, korobokuru clans must be sponsored by a human clan.

I don't believe that standard dwarven cultures, racial spells, items, etc fit with them. Too oriental and alien to the western dwarven tropes IMHO. Horselords on the other hand, that's interesting.

Re: Korobokuru

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:17 am
by Boneguard
For me they always felt more dwarf-like than dwarf as they do not fit a lot of your usual dwarf tropes and niches as they are more of a rural or Forest village kind of creature.

The Wild Dwarves of Chult (in the Forgotten Realms), the Maztican Desert Dwarves or even the Dragonlance Gully Dwarves (by removing the low intellligence) could give a good starting point I think.

Re: Korobokuru

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:49 pm
by The Dark
There's not a whole lot in the OA series. The Korobokuru are in the timeline in OA1. Prince Miki started a war against them in the 94th year of the Empire. They were defeated in 313, many fled to Tenmei in 385, and they were defined as non-citizens in 406. Miyama Province has a ruined castle (hex 1010) and a shrine (1019). Blood of the Yakuza has them living in mountains or eta villages. Other than that, it's pretty much just a handful of pregenerated characters and NPCs.

For cultural touchpoints, they seem to be based on the Ainu people of Japan and Russia. While I would be wary of drawing too many inferences at the risk of creating a caricature or being otherwise culturally insensitive, taking ideas from their housing and settlement patterns as well as clothing and body art could provide a way to readily differentiate the korobokuru from both other peoples in the setting and from other dwarves.

Re: Korobokuru

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:11 am
by Ashtagon
fwiw, this is the inspiration for the name: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koro-pok-guru

As noted, they are based primarily on a fey-type people from Ainu legends. At least as presented in the 1e OA hardback book, their background (what little there is) doesn't appear to be related to the real-world name inspiration.

Re: Korobokuru

Posted: Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:49 am
by pawsplay
In the Japanese folklore, they are more like halflings or forest gnomes in character, and in size, although they can be doughty in battle. They are often presented with Ainu cultural affinities, probably because that is coded in Japanese culture as ancient/primitive, but also possibly because (like fey in European folklore) they may partially be a synthesis of legends about ancient peoples with myths and monsters.
The AD&D versions are presented a lot like Bugs Bunny's nemeses: short, hot-headed, hairy. Sort of a mix between Warhammer type anger dwarves with gangly nature boys.

Re: Korobokuru

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 1:37 am
by Big Mac
DaveB wrote:
Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:34 pm
We have used them in 2e and in my own Classic/OSR version.
I imagined them in my game as similar to Montagnards in Vietnam but more primitive in technology.
Hardy, primitive, and perfect for a 'barbarian' society. Their description also mentions that most common class is barbarian, and samurai are rare. No korobokuru clans hold a position high enough to be samurai. As a result, korobokuru clans must be sponsored by a human clan.
I just spotted the Korobokuru article on Forgotten Realms Wiki. That says that korobokuru live across Kara-Tur.

I don't see anything about their history, so I'm not sure if they are suppose to predate the humans that live in Kara-Tur (and therefore perhaps be a single culture that has been cut up by human countries).

The fact that they have such low status does limit class options a bit. But thinking on this, I guess they don't actually need all the cultural baggage the various human nations have. Your average korobokuru lives in a peaceful community with a chieftain and deputies elected by the tribal elders. There are no strong families ruling over the rest of the population (like with humans) and no political strife between different korobokuru towns. So the various rituals that humans need to have to avoid causing offence might be seen as unimportant to them. I guess their communities have a lot more individual freedom.
DaveB wrote:
Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:34 pm
I don't believe that standard dwarven cultures, racial spells, items, etc fit with them. Too oriental and alien to the western dwarven tropes IMHO. Horselords on the other hand, that's interesting.
They don't seem to fit too well with standard D&D dwarves. (Although I should really compare them to the specific dwarves of Toril.)

Forgotten Realms Wiki does say this about them:
Korobokuru at Forgotten Realms Wiki wrote:Language

Most korobokuru spoke a dialect of Dwarvish, though some tribes used their own language. There were also educated korobokuru, but they were very rare. They also used the Common script to read and write.
So they definitely have more in common with dwarves than gnomes or halflings. Aside from their origins in Asian folklaw there must be some in-character tie-in between ancient korobokuru and Toril's dwarves.

Maybe they used to trade with dwarves in the distant past, before the rise of the current nations of Kara-Tur.

Re: Korobokuru

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 1:53 am
by Big Mac
Boneguard wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 12:17 am
For ne they always felt more dwarf-like than dwarf as they do not fit a lot of your usual dwarf tropes and niches as they are more of a rural or Forest village kind of creature.

The Wild Dwarves of Chult (in the Forgotten Realms), the Maztican Desert Dwarves or even the Dragonlance Gully Dwarves (by removing the low intellligence) could give a good starting point I think.
I don't think I would go with gully dwarves, as I don't see korobokuru as mentally challenged. I checked out the wild dwarf article on Forgotten Realms Wiki and they seem a fairly good fit.

I think I can imagine a now vanished wild dwarf community somewhere between Kara-Tur and Faerûn.

The Maztican dwarves are desert dwarves, according to Forgotten Realms Wiki.

I don't see them being such a good fit, but if dwarves could walk under the sea from Faerûn to Maztica, I don't see why they could not also walk under the sea from Kara-Tur to Maztica.

The Rockfire Cataclysm is said to have cut off the underdark tunnels from Maztica from Faerûn. If the korobokuru do not live underground that might mean there are no stable tunnels from Kara-Tur to Maztica.

(I wonder if Kara-Tur is supposed to be as earthquake prone as Japan. I know it's not supposed to be a clone, so some Toril tropes should apply instead of Asian tropes. But if the Underdark was unstable it would keep away the standard dwarf races...and allow the local dwarves to grow into an Asian-style culture over thousands of years.)

Re: Korobokuru

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 2:01 am
by Big Mac
The Dark wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:49 pm
There's not a whole lot in the OA series. The Korobokuru are in the timeline in OA1. Prince Miki started a war against them in the 94th year of the Empire. They were defeated in 313, many fled to Tenmei in 385, and they were defined as non-citizens in 406. Miyama Province has a ruined castle (hex 1010) and a shrine (1019). Blood of the Yakuza has them living in mountains or eta villages. Other than that, it's pretty much just a handful of pregenerated characters and NPCs.
The ruined castle sounds interesting.

Is that supposed to be a korobokuru castle...or a castle built by humans trying to control the land?
The Dark wrote:
Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:49 pm
For cultural touchpoints, they seem to be based on the Ainu people of Japan and Russia. While I would be wary of drawing too many inferences at the risk of creating a caricature or being otherwise culturally insensitive, taking ideas from their housing and settlement patterns as well as clothing and body art could provide a way to readily differentiate the korobokuru from both other peoples in the setting and from other dwarves.
I do want to be careful about importing too much of real-world Asian cultures. Not just because I'm not an expert on the cultures, and would get things wrong. But also because I want Kara-Tur to be the Eastern lands of Toril, rather than the Eastern lands of Eurasia (in the real world).

So I'm looking for inspiration from cultures that have similar geography and societies. But I'd be wanting to build up the Kara-Tur canon on korobokuru.

Re: Korobokuru

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 2:06 am
by Big Mac
Ashtagon wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 9:11 am
fwiw, this is the inspiration for the name: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koro-pok-guru

As noted, they are based primarily on a fey-type people from Ainu legends. At least as presented in the 1e OA hardback book, their background (what little there is) doesn't appear to be related to the real-world name inspiration.
Thanks Ashtagon.

There is some stuff about korobokuru in the 3e Oriental Adventures (where they are listed as a non-Rokugan race) but it doesn't really give any background on how they fit into Kara-Tur. It sort of tries to make them a generic fantasy race that can be used in multiple Asian-style settings. (I wonder if that means that korobokuru are also found in Mahasarpa.)

Re: Korobokuru

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 2:08 am
by Big Mac
pawsplay wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 4:49 am
In the Japanese folklore, they are more like halflings or forest gnomes in character, and in size, although they can be doughty in battle. They are often presented with Ainu cultural affinities, probably because that is coded in Japanese culture as ancient/primitive, but also possibly because (like fey in European folklore) they may partially be a synthesis of legends about ancient peoples with myths and monsters.
The AD&D versions are presented a lot like Bugs Bunny's nemeses: short, hot-headed, hairy. Sort of a mix between Warhammer type anger dwarves with gangly nature boys.
Now you have me thinking of a Hare Hengeyokai that has a dispute with a Korobokuru! :lol:

Re: Korobokuru

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 3:55 pm
by Cthulhudrew
Big Mac wrote:
Mon Feb 24, 2020 2:06 am
There is some stuff about korobokuru in the 3e Oriental Adventures (where they are listed as a non-Rokugan race) but it doesn't really give any background on how they fit into Kara-Tur. It sort of tries to make them a generic fantasy race that can be used in multiple Asian-style settings. (I wonder if that means that korobokuru are also found in Mahasarpa.)
Honestly, I don't recall much (any?) information of the sort you are looking for in any product. Even in the 1E OA they weren't given much more background than you'd find in any of the race entries of the PHB. There is a little bit more information in their Monstrous Compendium entry (MC: Kara-Tur). There was never a 3E update that I know of (Spirit Folk get updated in Unapproachable East, but Korobokuru don't even get a mention in Races of Faerun.) Kara-Tur, the Eastern Realms gives a bit more of an idea of where the Korobokuru fit (if only briefly), by painting them as the first settlers of the lands who have been pushed back by the encroachment of humans and other latecomers. A couple of entries note conflicts between groups have occurred, suggesting that the Korobokuru may not have amicably retreated into the wilds of their own accord.

I'd personally be inclined to think of them as more of a fey race or perhaps a gnomish subrace, rather than have them actually be related to dwarves, which always felt a little odd to me. In particular, given that there is a Realms "wild dwarf" subrace that overlaps with the Korobokuru's niche somewhat, I think it would be worthwhile to re-evaluate their "dwarf" connection.