Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

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Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Big Mac » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:26 am

Two years back, over in the 1e OA vs. 3e OA thread in the Oriental Adventures forum, Ashtagon said this:
Ashtagon wrote:wrt settings, Kara-Tur was first presented within the 1e OA book. It was only about a year later that it was officially tacked onto the FR setting.
I've heard other people say this since (and heard that other settings being developed by TSR were also shoehorned into Forgotten Realms). More recently I've heard people saying that Kara-Tur was supposed to be part of the World of Greyhawk.

What is out there to back this up?

And is there a noticable change in setting between the 1e Kara-Tur products and the 2e ones?
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by night_druid » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:42 am

I'm told the biggest change was scale; Kara-Tur scale was cut to a third of its original scale (so its a 9th its original size...which would have made it monstrous originally!).

For the most part, OA's original author is Gary Gygax (I've heard some disputes about that, though), and we know his players ended up taking a slide-ride under Castle Greyhawk to China. Its pretty safe to say OA was originally intended for Greyhawk, but got tacked onto the Realms as an afterthought (I've heard Ed didn't really like the idea and that it was vastly different than his vision for the utter east).
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Big Mac » Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:04 am

night_druid wrote:I'm told the biggest change was scale; Kara-Tur scale was cut to a third of its original scale (so its a 9th its original size...which would have made it monstrous originally!).
Yoinks! :shock:
night_druid wrote:For the most part, OA's original author is Gary Gygax (I've heard some disputes about that, though), and we know his players ended up taking a slide-ride under Castle Greyhawk to China. Its pretty safe to say OA was originally intended for Greyhawk, but got tacked onto the Realms as an afterthought (I've heard Ed didn't really like the idea and that it was vastly different than his vision for the utter east).
Is there anything from the period (either in the canon itself or behind the scenes articles by the authors) that suggested this was the way that Kara-Tur was going to go before the Forgotten Realms logo got added?
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Cthulhudrew » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:39 am

I'm not sure that Kara-Tur was ever intended to be for Greyhawk, actually. I believe it was always its own setting, with the material presented in the original OA hardcover. When the setting was next visited in detail (in the boxed set Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms), it had been transplanted to Abeir-Toril, with the aforementioned reduction in scale. (Note that there were several modules published for Oriental Adventures in the meanwhile, which still used the Kara-Tur setting with no mention of Greyhawk.)

Gary Gygax was already gone from TSR by the time Eastern Realms was published. Whether Kara-Tur would have eventually been added on to Oerth had he remained, I'm not certain. It's possible (and people more in the know than me might be able to say for sure), but to me, Kara-Tur seems too "real world analogous" to fit into Gygax's more original setting of Oerth, so I'm not certain he'd have added it, but would perhaps instead have created more uniquely Oerthian "oriental" settings.

That's actually part of why it doesn't really fit into Toril all that well, IMO; the Realms as originally created/envisioned were much more unique and original, and adding all the- essentially "real world" Asian- settings to it just never felt very organic. I had the same feeling with the publication of the Scarlet Brotherhood accessory for Greyhawk in 2E (with its barely disguised Africa and Central America settings).

So, long story short- I kind of doubt that Kara-Tur would have ended up on Oerth myself, but I may very well be wrong. The person best suited to ask would probably be David Cook, who I believe is the person who actually created Kara-Tur (I think EGG did the rules stuff mostly), but I don't know if he even has any contacts with rpgs any longer. Would love to get him on the boards if so, especially since he was responsible for so much Mystara greatness.
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Greylond » Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:28 am

The original OA book(hard cover) stated that Kara-Tur was on Oerth. I ran a OA campaign, and played in another before FR came out.

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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Greylond » Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:37 am

Also, the original OA book was published in 1985 and has the listed authors of Gygax and Cook. FR was what? 1989? So, yea, for 4 years it existed when the Official D&D World was Greyhawk.

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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Havard » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:50 pm

Greylond wrote:Also, the original OA book was published in 1985 and has the listed authors of Gygax and Cook. FR was what? 1989? So, yea, for 4 years it existed when the Official D&D World was Greyhawk.
The first FR products were released in 1987, but yeah, OA still predates the FR. :)

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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Cthulhudrew » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:49 pm

Greylond wrote:The original OA book(hard cover) stated that Kara-Tur was on Oerth. I ran a OA campaign, and played in another before FR came out.
I'll have to double check when I get home, but I don't believe it is ever explicitly stated that Kara-Tur is on Oerth in the OA hardcover (or that the words Oerth or Greyhawk are even used). It was used in an advertising blurb for the book prior to its release, but I think that's the extent of it.

Interestingly, I found this discussion over at Dragonsfoot where the topic has even recently been under debate. It features some divergent recollections of Asian Greyhawk by David Cook and Gygax on the matter (and attributes the entirety of the OA book to Cook's hand.)
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Cthulhudrew » Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:51 pm

Havard wrote:The first FR products were released in 1987, but yeah, OA still predates the FR. :)
Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms was released in 1988, some 3 years later than Oriental Adventures. Gygax left TSR in '85; don't recall exactly when, but it was probably not long after OA was released.
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Dragonhelm » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:52 pm

Per Wikipedia...
The fantasy setting known as Kara-Tur was described in the original 1985 Oriental Adventures book.[1] A reviewer for White Dwarf called the long background section of Kara-Tur in the book, a "bonus".[1] Kara-Tur is described in the "Province Book" from the 1986 Swords of the Daimyo module.[2][2]

Originally intended as a western part of the continent of Oerik, the first description of Kara-Tur, in the Oriental Adventures rulebook, made no attempt to link it with another D&D game-world. The first map of Kara-Tur appeared in the adventure module OA1: Swords of the Daimyo, where the setting was still world-neutral. In 1987, when TSR published the first Forgotten Realms boxed set, Kara-Tur was briefly described as the easternmost end of the continent of Faerûn. In 1988, TSR released a boxed set, Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms, describing the region in greater detail, with two 96-page books and maps.
I want to say the link to Oerth was mentioned in a Dragon editorial or something, but I don't know for certain.
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Big Mac » Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:12 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:The person best suited to ask would probably be David Cook, who I believe is the person who actually created Kara-Tur (I think EGG did the rules stuff mostly), but I don't know if he even has any contacts with rpgs any longer. Would love to get him on the boards if so, especially since he was responsible for so much Mystara greatness.
I would love to ask David "Zeb" Cook about his novel, Beyond the Moons.
Greylond wrote:The original OA book(hard cover) stated that Kara-Tur was on Oerth. I ran a OA campaign, and played in another before FR came out.
Not to be anal...

...OK, I admit it is anal. :oops: :lol:

Do you have a page reference and maybe the exact quote. (I'm mainly wondering if it just says it is on the same planet as the Flanaess or if it gives some sort of positional information.)
Cthulhudrew wrote:I'll have to double check when I get home, but I don't believe it is ever explicitly stated that Kara-Tur is on Oerth in the OA hardcover (or that the words Oerth or Greyhawk are even used). It was used in an advertising blurb for the book prior to its release, but I think that's the extent of it.
Even an advertising blurb is a statement of intent. At that time TSR had Mystara and Greyhawk and could have chosen to make Oriental Adventures into part of "an AD&D answer to the Known World" or a separate setting. I'd love to see the exact text.
Dragonhelm wrote:Per Wikipedia...
The fantasy setting known as Kara-Tur was described in the original 1985 Oriental Adventures book.[1] A reviewer for White Dwarf called the long background section of Kara-Tur in the book, a "bonus".[1] Kara-Tur is described in the "Province Book" from the 1986 Swords of the Daimyo module.[2][2]

Originally intended as a western part of the continent of Oerik, the first description of Kara-Tur, in the Oriental Adventures rulebook, made no attempt to link it with another D&D game-world. The first map of Kara-Tur appeared in the adventure module OA1: Swords of the Daimyo, where the setting was still world-neutral. In 1987, when TSR published the first Forgotten Realms boxed set, Kara-Tur was briefly described as the easternmost end of the continent of Faerûn. In 1988, TSR released a boxed set, Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms, describing the region in greater detail, with two 96-page books and maps.
I want to say the link to Oerth was mentioned in a Dragon editorial or something, but I don't know for certain.
Unfortunately, that second paragraph that you quoted has no citations. That means you can't double check the source to find out if the editor that added that bit made a mistake, or if the "western part of Oerik" thing was an advertising blub, an article in a magazine like Dragon by the creator that was "officially introducing" the setting or a line from one of the products.
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Cthulhudrew » Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:44 am

Big Mac wrote:Do you have a page reference and maybe the exact quote. (I'm mainly wondering if it just says it is on the same planet as the Flanaess or if it gives some sort of positional information.)
I just gave OA the once over (looking only in detail in the two introductions by Gary and Cook, and the Kara-Tur section), and there isn't any mention of Greyhawk or Oerth.
Even an advertising blurb is a statement of intent. At that time TSR had Mystara and Greyhawk and could have chosen to make Oriental Adventures into part of "an AD&D answer to the Known World" or a separate setting. I'd love to see the exact text.
I know it is quoted on that above linked discussion on Dragonsfoot, but I don't have a page number offhand. That said, advertising blurbs don't necessarily mean much. Sometimes, they are just wrong or things change in the interim (which is what appears to have happened here).\

Doing some more reading (which I now realize, in a sense of deja vu, I had done a few years back), the publication of Oriental Adventures- at least in hindsight- was apparently controversial. EGG wanted his friend and associate Francois Froideval (he of the Master's DM's book map of Mystara for those Mystara-philes reading) to do the book, and Cook was supposed to edit it. According to Cook, however, the manuscript Froideval turned in was about "30-40 pages, double-spaced," and inadequate to cover the topic in a book the size of the hardcover. Cook basically then had to completely churn out Oriental Adventures from scratch on short notice. EGG's recollection was something to effect that he didn't like it, and that Cook had snuck it past him (TSR was in the midst of its financial troubles with the Blume Brothers). Cook's recollection is that EGG vetted everything that Cook did as he did it, and was happy with it. EGG in his later years apparently came across that original manuscript and said it was much better than the whole of Cook's, and he wanted to republish it.

(This discussion, by the way, took place over various boards- including Dragonsfoot- in various threads over the last couple of years before EGG's death. I could provide links, but I'm kind of tired at the moment. Maybe later.)

In any event, the original manuscript was apparently one in which Oerth/Greyhawk links existed, and which may have formed the basis for the advertising department's blurb. Or possibly they just needed some ad copy to whet buyers' appetites. In any case, Cook dropped those ties for whatever reason with the final product.
Dragonhelm wrote:Per Wikipedia...
The fantasy setting known as Kara-Tur was described in the original 1985 Oriental Adventures book.[1] A reviewer for White Dwarf called the long background section of Kara-Tur in the book, a "bonus".[1] Kara-Tur is described in the "Province Book" from the 1986 Swords of the Daimyo module.[2][2]

Originally intended as a western part of the continent of Oerik, the first description of Kara-Tur, in the Oriental Adventures rulebook, made no attempt to link it with another D&D game-world. The first map of Kara-Tur appeared in the adventure module OA1: Swords of the Daimyo, where the setting was still world-neutral. In 1987, when TSR published the first Forgotten Realms boxed set, Kara-Tur was briefly described as the easternmost end of the continent of Faerûn. In 1988, TSR released a boxed set, Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms, describing the region in greater detail, with two 96-page books and maps.
I want to say the link to Oerth was mentioned in a Dragon editorial or something, but I don't know for certain.
Unfortunately, that second paragraph that you quoted has no citations. That means you can't double check the source to find out if the editor that added that bit made a mistake, or if the "western part of Oerik" thing was an advertising blub, an article in a magazine like Dragon by the creator that was "officially introducing" the setting or a line from one of the products.[/quote]
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Big Mac » Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:34 pm

Thanks, Drew!

Don't kill yourself trying to find threads.

I wonder if Gary Gygax was trying to make Greyhawk into the AD&D counterpart to Mystara. :?

I have heard that some behind the scenes people apparently brought in Forgotten Realms to reduce the amount of royalties that Gary Gygax got. Maybe moving Kara-Tur to FR "helped" that faction to take it away from Gary Gygax's sphere of influence. :?

EDIT: I just reread the "An Overview of Kara-Tur" chapter in Oreintal Adventures (1e) and can't find a clue about what world Kara-Tur would be attached to. Even the "Gajin" section does not give a hint. I guess David "Zeb" Cook might have been shooting for a "use it with any campaign setting" thing. :?
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Cthulhudrew » Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:34 am

Big Mac wrote:I wonder if Gary Gygax was trying to make Greyhawk into the AD&D counterpart to Mystara. :?
I doubt it. At the point 1E OA came out, the entirety of Mystara as we know it was still very "bare bones." The only real cultural information for it came from Cook and Moldvay's X1, and the rest of it was basically just the 4 boxed sets (with only the Expert set containing any setting information) and modules- most of the Basic and Expert modules, and a handful of Companion and Masters modules. Of these, only a few of the Expert and some of the CM and M modules contained setting information (and for the CM and M modules, it was mostly about Norwold.) It wasn't until c. 1987 with the publication of the first Gazetteer that Mystara began to be fleshed out, and the cultural comparisons suggested by X1 took on a more literal meaning, as RW cultures began to be adapted for the Known World nations. Mystara wasn't even called Mystara until the 90s.

In contrast, only a few of the nations of Oerth seem to have any real world ties (specifically, some of the "Middle East" nations, like Tusmit, etc.) Most of the rest of it seems fairly standard "sword and sorcery" nations, albeit with very original and developed concepts by EGG and co. I'm not sure Gygax would have adhered quite so closely to RW asian themes and cultures for a Oerth Orient, had he been more directly involved than he was, but I don't really know. Obviously, recollections about what was/might have been differ even between the principal parties, and EGG never did get around to publishing the original Froideval manuscript before he died (it was one of the projects he was interested in doing.)
I have heard that some behind the scenes people apparently brought in Forgotten Realms to reduce the amount of royalties that Gary Gygax got. Maybe moving Kara-Tur to FR "helped" that faction to take it away from Gary Gygax's sphere of influence. :?
Could be. I don't remember quite how much of the royalty issues are fact and fiction at this point, and AFAIK there isn't really any online documentation by any of the parties involved now (though doubtless a search might yield something). I do know that Gygax was allowed to retain some rights to the world of Greyhawk for use in his Gord the Rogue novels (most of which were published post-Gygax' departure from TSR). That may have had something to do with novel rights that were already existent, though (although the publisher for the post-departure novels was different from the TSR era publisher, IIRC.)

I think, too, that a lot of it was simply due to the popularity of Greenwood's Realms articles in Dragon at the time. Of course, there again, publishing rights might have factored into things- the Realms spawned a wealth of books for a still-burgeoning line of TSR books, whereas the Greyhawk novels largely stopped being written (and the quality of them declined greatly. I'm looking at you, Rose Estes!!!)
EDIT: I just reread the "An Overview of Kara-Tur" chapter in Oreintal Adventures (1e) and can't find a clue about what world Kara-Tur would be attached to. Even the "Gajin" section does not give a hint. I guess David "Zeb" Cook might have been shooting for a "use it with any campaign setting" thing. :?
That would be my bet. I'm tempted to go check out those pre-Realms OA modules again, just to see what they mention about the setting if anything. (I believe most of them are still available from WOTC as free downloads, too.)
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Big Mac » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:24 pm

Interestingly, the 1e OA is copyrighted to Gary Gygax and not TSR Inc. Maybe that is something that he did with a lot of the Greyhawk stuff. Perhaps the Gord the Rogue deal was some sort of way to split up stuff that they both jointly owned.

I've heard the Rose Estes thing before. I got lept upon by fans, when I said I wanted to buy some GH novels on Facebook. However, there was a follow up set of novels (including Against the Giants) and the 3e D&D novels are supposed to also be set in Greyhawk.

I might look for the OA downloads myself. I'm not sure I grabbed them all before. If they scanned in the text, it might be possible to search for words that might confirm that Kara-Tur was in Greyhawk (or Forgotten Realms) in specific products.
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Big Mac » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:30 pm

In the Oriental Lands in Different Settings thread in the Oriental Adventures forum, ripvanwormer said in his post that Dragon Annual number 1 has a map that includes the Celestial Imperium in Oerth.

Sadly the image he linked to seems to be down today. ;(

EDIT: The image is working again now.
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Cthulhudrew » Tue Oct 18, 2011 7:14 pm

Was it this map? It might be a different one; I seem to vaguely recall that there were two somewhat different maps (not including the map of the Chainmail world, which is set in the west, where a lot of the proposed realms from the above linked map were supposed to be.)

Also, in re: Rose Estes. Her Greyhawk novels were awful, but I seem to remember enjoying her Endless Quest books a lot. Also, there is a Greyhawk novel by Robin Wayne Bailey that I'm still looking for but cannot find any longer (Nightwatch. It's supposed to be really good.)
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by ripvanwormer » Tue Oct 18, 2011 8:32 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote:Was it this map?
Yes, it was that one.
Also, there is a Greyhawk novel by Robin Wayne Bailey that I'm still looking for but cannot find any longer (Nightwatch. It's supposed to be really good.)
It's a good read, though from a canonical standpoint it's a bit strange. You can read my ten-year-old review of it here.

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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Greylond » Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:07 pm

Yea, I must be misremembering OA. All these years I thought there was a Greyhawk mention on the main book. I must remember it from Dragon. Sadly, I don't have any of my stuff from back then to confirm...

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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by Big Mac » Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:59 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:
Cthulhudrew wrote:Was it this map?
Yes, it was that one.
There is also the Chainmail map in that thread. If you surf over you can compare the two maps. If the Celestial Imperium is what Kara-Tur was going to be before Forgotten Realms, then seeing the land to the west can help show you where it might have ended.
ripvanwormer wrote:
Cthulhudrew wrote:Also, there is a Greyhawk novel by Robin Wayne Bailey that I'm still looking for but cannot find any longer (Nightwatch. It's supposed to be really good.)
It's a good read, though from a canonical standpoint it's a bit strange. You can read my ten-year-old review of it here.
There is nothing about Kara-Tur or the Celestial Imperium in Nightwatch, but it is very good and I've sent you a PM about buying a copy.

@Ripvanwormer: When did Canonfire start making people log in to read reviews? :?
Greylond wrote:Yea, I must be misremembering OA. All these years I thought there was a Greyhawk mention on the main book. I must remember it from Dragon. Sadly, I don't have any of my stuff from back then to confirm...
You are certainly not the only person to say it. If it was up on Wikipedia then somebody else thinks that it is right. I know there is some sort of connection, but I think there may be a bit of an urban legend built up around it.
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Re: Kara-Tur before Forgotten Realms

Post by ripvanwormer » Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:14 am

Big Mac wrote:@Ripvanwormer: When did Canonfire start making people log in to read reviews? :?
I didn't know they did, but I know reviews don't show up in a regular search.

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