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OA5 Mad Monkey vs the Dragon Claw (1e)
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OA5 Mad Monkey vs the Dragon Claw (1e)

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Kara-Tur The Eastern Realms

The followers of the many gods of Kara-Tur have always fought, to prove the superiority of their martial discipline and the greater wisdom of their deities. The strict hierarchy of the gods is now threatened by the sudden prominence of the followers of the Dragon Claw, a new and deadly school of martial arts that threatens to destroy all other schools. The players, recruited by a mysterious old monk with a bizarre fighting style, must find out what's behind the emergence of the Dragon claw and put a stop to it.

Mad Monkey vs the Dragon Claw will take the players across the entire country of T'u Lung, from the mouth of the great river Fenghsintzu to its headwaters, where they must deal with the legendary Cult of the Black Leopard-all in the name of the Mad Monkey.

Mad Monkey vs the Dragon Claw is a scenario for the ORIENTAL ADVENTURES supplememnt for the AD&D game. It is set in KARA-TUR, the oriental world in the Forgotten Realms.

Mad Monkey vs the Dragon Claw is designed for five to eight characters of Levels 6-9.

Product History

OA5: "Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw" (1988), by Jeff Grubb, is the fifth expansion for the Oriental Adventures (1985) hardcover, but also the first expansion for Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988); it was released in December 1988.

About the Title. As with many TSR adventures of the time, "Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw" started with Jeff Grubb being handed a title and told to write on it. Unfortunately, Grubb had no idea what that title meant, so he "campaigned to change it". Jim Ward, his boss, refused, and then told management that Grubb "really wanted that title and would resign if they changed it"!

So "Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw" it was.

Origins (I): Expanding Oriental Adventures. It had been a year and a half since the publication of OA4: "Blood of the Yakuza" (1987), the previous adventure in the "OA" series, but there was a good reason for that delay. TSR had been busily preparing Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988) as the third major, boxed set for their new campaign world of the Forgotten Realms. With that in hand, they could now continue to develop their "Oriental Adventures" setting while also expanding the Realms.

Despite those changes, "Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw" is still a direct continuation of the "OA" series to date. In fact, Grubb carries over Ko Ho San and the Ko clan from his previous adventure, OA3: "Ochimo the Spirit Warrior" (1987).

Origins (II): Use the Source, Jeff. Grubb felt like he was the wrong person to write "Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw"; nonetheless, when given the assignment he dove headfirst into it, borrowing many old martial arts films from Zeb Cook and "watching a lot of 'Kung Fu Theatre' late in the evenings". He cites the films of Run Run Shaw (1907-2014) as a particular influence, and says he felt "able to throw in some more of the outrageous nature of the genre without fear".

Adventure Tropes. "Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw" demonstrates the adventure tropes that would become very common in the '90s: event-driven episodes. The adventure is laid out in chapters of events that occur in a specific order, with just a little ability to explore further. The biggest innovation is probably the "training montage" midway through the book, where the players learn "Mad Monkey style".

Expanding D&D. The training on Mad Monkey Island is actually quite unique in D&D. It awards players experience points just for training in a skill, and eventually grants them that martial art skill as well.

Exploring Kara-Tur. "Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw" once more takes the players to another country within Kara-Tur. This time it's T'u Lung, Kara-Tur's other China. The adventure includes a timeline of T'u Lung as well as a large-scale map of the Wai and Ausa provinces.

Future History. "Mad Monkey vs. the Dragon Claw" was the last adventure for AD&D 1e's Oriental Adventures — and for that matter, one of the last adventures for AD&D 1e (1977-1989). The series would return with OA6: "Ronin Challenge" (1990), when the Empires event (1990) brought a brief resurgence of interest in the Eastern Realms.

The fighting styles of the Mad Monkey and the Dragon Claw would return years later in Dragon #404 (October 2011) in an article by Logan Bonner and Derek Guder called "The Seven Styles".

About the Creators. this was Jeff Grubb's second Oriental Adventures adventure, following OA3: "Ochimo the Spirit Warrior" (1987). He would soon be moving on to other projects such as Spelljammer (1989) and Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures (1992).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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File Last Updated:
September 19, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on September 20, 2016.