Happy Chinese New Year!

Michael O. Varhola
On behalf of myself, d-Infinity, and Skirmisher Publishing, I would like to wish all of our readers a Happy Chinese New Year and start to the Year of the Fire Rooster! 
 
This holiday is especially meaningful to me this year because I just returned from two weeks in East Asia, where I served as the destination-oriented special-interest speaker aboard a cruise ship sailing from Hong Kong to Shanghai, China, via Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and South Korea. During the course of this journey I had the opportunity to see preparations throughout those places for the lunar new year. 
 
Suffice it to say that this most recent trip has also inspired and influenced me as a game designer, that I have already released one piece of game content tying in with my experiences, and that I have got several more things in the works. 
 
That first piece of game content is my “Fire Rooster: A Monster for 5th Edition”, a self-standing creature stat’ed for use with the 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules that Skirmisher released earlier today at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow and made pay-what-you-want for the holiday (but please pay at least a penny for it and don’t just steal it outright and start of the new year as a thief!). 
 
It bears mentioning that, for a number of reasons, I have not really ever been very enthusiastic about content for what I have colloquially known for many years as an "Oriental adventures" game setting. Part of that stems from me not having felt any connection to the region inspiring such adventures, but another part has come from the very real feeling that many of the people developing for it also don't have any such connections beyond owning a pair of those silly black tabi shoes with the separate toes. Such poser-driven content has generally, decade after decade, overly homogenized what is a vast and complicated region and disproportionately focused on Japanese rather than more diverse and equally fascinating mainland culture. There have been some exceptions to that, of course, but none compelling enough to draw me in. 
 
Even a brief visit to a half-dozen places in East Asia, however, inspired me in a sorts of ways, and revealed any number of things that I have never seen incorporated into an "Oriental" game or campaign setting or tapped into for content that I will now develop myself. 
 
One of the most interesting things I discovered was at the Buddhist Haedong Yongkung Temple in Busan, South Korea, where I was delighted to see a row of statues representing anthropomorphic versions of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac! I have never seen this done before, much less adapted for game content, and was even more fascinated to learn that they are revered and prayed to as minor deities by those seeking their particular blessings (a picture of the Horse man appears above, and a graphic showing all 12 of these humanoid archetypes appears below). I have already started to develop these into game content that, as of this writing, will include a series of twenty-four guardian creatures that we will release at the rate two a month and a dozen new player character races. 
 
That will all presumably, along with everything else I have got on my plate, keep me busy until the start of the next lunar new year — or until my next visit to Asia!