Posts Tagged ‘avatar’


Smallville: Avatar the Last Airbender Hack

September 17, 2010

Picked up Smallville after hearing tons of good things about the design in the game and it looks like the system would be perfect to do Avatar the Last Airbender, mostly with some minor tweaks of names/terminology for abilities and Pathways. I’ll list the renames with parentheses for the original terms.


For the Pathways, I’ve relabeled many of the the Pathway options- the new term is listed followed by the original in parentheses. The stat blocks stay the same for each, though you’ll note that some of them are shifted around on the chart. I’ve put them in order, left to right, so you can just re-do the chart accordingly.

Origin: Noble (RIch), Ordinary, Gifted, Orphaned, Destined

Orphaned are kids who not only were separated from their parents, but any adult community to raise them; ie Jet. Destined are those poor kids who get imbued with the spirit of the Moon or are the reincarnation of the Avatar, etc.

Youth: Warrior (Jock), Average, Inquisitive (Geek), Outsider, Paragon

Focus: Control (Money), Happiness (Tech), Family (Life), Freedom (Paranormal), Honor (Status)

Control can be political power, control over your life, others, etc. Happiness – drink tea, go ride the otter-penguins, etc., Family can be blood family or chosen family, Freedom is freedom to control your life free of obligations, duties, destiny, and Honor is pretty self explanatory.

Road: Treacherous (Risky), Straight and Narrow, Lofty, Underground, Ethical.

Life Changing Event: Favored (Advancement), Strange Discovery (First Contact), Rite of Passage (Destiny), Personal Breakthrough (Power Manifestation), Exiled (Tragedy)

Favored means earning favor with nobility of some type. Strange Discovery includes finding the Avatar after a century, Magical Spirit Libraries, trips to the Spirit World, etc. Rite of Passage includes a test and official recognition from your community. Personal Breakthrough is some form of epiphany or realization – possibly about oneself, the universe, a new form of bending, etc. Exiled includes being literally exiled from one’s community, but also stuff like getting frozen in an ice bubble for a 100 years.

Priority: Duty (Work), Fun (Looking Back), Mastery (Performance), Ambition (Looking Forward), Friends & Family

Duty is the obligations your family, clan, nation, or role place upon you. Fun is the opposite- escaping responsibility for self. Mastery is about the quest for perfection- bending, sword fighting, Pai-sho. Ambition is pretty self explanatory, but can also include stuff like developing new technology or freeing your land.

Modus Operandi: Responsibility/Loyalty, Secrecy (Shady Business), Against the Grain, Influence (Outside Normal Channels), Special Gifts

Secrecy includes folks like freedom fighters, White Lotus members, manipulative princesses and similar folks who are good at keeping their cards close. Influence is pretty much the same as Outside Normal Channels.

Motivation: Others, Self, The Cause, The Job, The World.

Identity: Sidekick, Foil, Rebel, Specialist, Hero

– Remove Hacker completely
– Change Extraterrestrial Knowledge to Spirit World Knowledge
– Change Military Brat to Noble Connections
– Change Soldier to Warrior

Bender Heritage Distinctions

Water Bending

D4: Earn a Plot Point when a lack of nearby water forces a Shutdown of your Bending
D8: Add a D6 to the Trouble Pool to use a special effect from a connected ability you don’t have
D12 Spend a Plot Point to reroll any die in a Water Bending Roll.

Connected Abilities: Hydrokinesis, Swimming, Cyrokinesis, Regeneration, Healing, Claws (Ice claws!), Blast, Plant Control (Swampbending), Bloodbending (Paralysis + TK, only usable on things with blood)

Limits: Nearby water, moon cannot be eclipsed, must be able to move limbs

Earth bending

D4: Earn a Plot Point when being surrounded by metal forces a Shutdown of your Earth bending
D8: Add a D6 to the Trouble Pool to use a special effect from a connected ability you don’t have
D12 Spend a Plot Point to Decrease your opponent’s Injured or Exhausted Stress Pool when you encase yourself in stone.

Connected Abilities: Earth Control, Tunneling, Super Strength, Blast, Wall Walking (limited to Earth), Magnetism (cannot affect blood), Super Senses (earth vibrations, what’s underground)

Limits: Cannot bend metal (unless Magnetism is taken), must be able to move limbs.

Air Bending

D4: Spend a Plot Point to reroll a die when you redirect an opponent’s momentum
D8: Add a D6 to the Trouble Pool to use a special effect from a connected ability you don’t have
D12 Spend a Plot Point to reroll any die in any Air Bending Roll.

Connected Abilities: Wind Control, Superspeed, Gravity Control, Blast, Flight, Gravity Control (can only make things lighter, not heavier)

Limits: Need to be able to move limbs… or blow air out your mouth

Fire Bending

D4: Earn a Plot Point when your firebending goes out of control, hurting yourself, allies, or things you didn’t want damaged.
D8: Add a D6 to the Trouble Pool to use a special effect from a connected ability you don’t have
D12 Spend a Plot Point to into increase your Injured or Afraid Stress Pool.

Connected Abilities: Pyrokinesis, Claws (firewhips, fire knives), Blast, Electrokinesis, Flight, Combustion (cannot delay explosions)

Limits: Sun cannot be eclipsed, must be able to move limbs

(common ones, I’m sure more can apply)
Sifu (Motivator), Bounty Hunter (Govt. Agent), Sage/Fortuneteller (Mage), Healer (Doctor), Scientist, Soldier, Criminal, Pirate (Ninja!)

Some common locations + Specializations. Since Avatar tends to be more of a globe-trotting story, characters aren’t as tied to locations as Smallville is. Broaden the definition from a single location to any of that type – White Lotus Branch 2D8 would be useful at -any- White Lotus Branch – the rating indicates a familiarity rather than a specific connection.

Village – Rumors, Anonymity, Socialize, Supplies, Oppressed
Cave – Safe and Dry, Hidden, Ancient Lore, Sharing Stories
Temple – Ruined, Ancient Lore, Spirit World, Flashbacks
Hideout – Hidden, Planning, Tactics, Comfort
Boat – Mobile, Cargo, Water, Armed
Tea Shop – Socialize, Rumors, Wisdom, Contacts
Laboratory – Experiment, Science!, Explosives, Inspiration
White Lotus Branch – Hidden, Pai-sho, Secret Escape, Contacts
Military Base – Prison, Defensible, Reinforcements, Armory
Dojo – Learning, Rivalry, Friendship, Duelling
Spirit World- Creepy, Dangerous Knowledge, Placating Spirits, Evil Spirits
Festival- Crowded, Anonymity, Spectacle, Delicious Foods

Characters and Pathways

Aang- Destined, Paragon, Freedom, Ethical, Exiled (trapped in ice for 100 years!) Fun, Loyalty, Others, Hero.

Katara- Gifted, Average, Happiness, Straight & Narrow, Strange Discovery (Found the Avatar!), Friends & Family, Special Gift, Others, Sidekick.

Sokka- Ordinary, Inqusitive, Family, Straight & Narrow, Strange Discovery (Found the Avatar!), Friends & Family, Loyalty, World, Sidekick.

Zuko- Noble, Warrior, Honor, Ethical, Exiled (Banished to find the Avatar), Ambition, Against the Grain, The Cause, The Foil

Iroh- Noble, Warrior, Happiness, Straight & Narrow, Exiled (Banished to watch over his nephew). Friends & Family, Loyalty, Others, Sidekick.

Toph- Noble, Paragon, Freedom, Underground, Personal Breakthrough (I can leave my family and live a life of adventure!), Mastery, Against the Grain, Self, Sidekick.

Azula- Noble, Paragon, Control, Intrigue, Favored (Given the honor of hunting down the Avatar… and her brother). Duty, Secrecy, Self, Foil.

Jet- Orphaned, Paragon, Control, Intrigue, Exiled (My freedom fighters broke up!). Ambition, Against the Grain, The Cause, Rebel.



July 1, 2010

Reviews are pouring in on the Avatar the Last Airbender movie, and pretty much panning it all around.

Some might call it a victory.

But really, it’s not. Victory is when Hollywood starts casting equitably and not with white supremacy in mind. Victory is when folks can start getting a proportionate amount of roles- lead and supporting. Victory is when we can see a proportionate amount of characters- heroes, villains, victims, clowns, normal folks – not just stereotypes or “expected roles”.

Victory is when we get to see ourselves painted in the full range of emotions, expressions and personalities that Hollywood gives white folks.

Victory is when our stories can at least reflect us, when we don’t have to have a half white actor to play a full person of color, because if color doesn’t matter, why is it always light-skinned/mixed actors getting the roles?

Victory is not just for the movies, but books, tv, comics, videogames, rpgs, and all forms of media.

It’s never been about this -specific instance- of cross race casting- it’s always been about the long history of whitewashing, of leaving people out of actual roles they could fit in, of never allowing non-white mainstream heroes, beyond, Will Smith.

The problem was not how -many- actors of color you put on screen, the problem is how many heroes of color you removed FROM the screen.

The movie failing had nothing to do with it’s racism, at the same time, this has proved movies don’t succeed on racism either.

Let’s stop making media for white supremacists, it’s not only unworthy of civilized people, it’s also not profitable.


Avatar the Last Airbender via Sorcerer

March 16, 2010

I’ve been in an Avatar the Last Airbender mood lately – and I think I’d run it using Sorcerer. Why? Basically the kids are caught in a lot of Humanity-testing kind of situations, and Sorcerer does a good job of emulating the Bender powers and with the martial arts rules in Sex & Sorcery, the fighting as well.


Humanity is dual defined as in Sorcerer’s Soul:
1. Empathy & Connection with others
2. Self acceptance of one’s feelings

Consider Iroh as being pretty good on both accounts, Zuko on neither, Aang being strong in the first and struggling with the second, and Azula being strong in the second and simply not giving a damn about the first.

Special Humanity Rules

Any character can sacrifice a point of Humanity to prevent another character from going into Humanity 0. (Iroh does this a lot. Katara does this a bit.)

Damage Rules

Avatar being a kids show, means normally deadly things like fire, swords, or arrows rarely make contact and actually cause harm. All damage is automatically assumed non-lethal unless specially noted (such as lightning). If you incapacitate someone, you can choose to inflict lasting damage.

Any attacks against helpless or incapacitated living beings incurs a humanity check.

Any scene in which you choose to attempt to inflict lethal damage incurs a Humanity check.


As mentioned, Bending isn’t Sorcery. All trained Benders have “Martial Arts” descriptor under Stamina. Use Benders’ Will for their Power.

All Trained Benders start with:
– Special Damage (non-lethal, element)
– Ranged
– Warp

Learning additional powers (techniques) requires time, and rolling Lore vs. 5 dice for each power. If you have a teacher, they can roll their Lore vs. 1 to give you Bonus Dice to your roll. If you fail, you have to wait until your Lore or Will rises before you can try to learn this again.

Available powers:
– Hold
– Armor
– Lethal Damage (lightning! see special damage rules above, though…)
– Protection (Iroh’s Lightning redirection)
– Transport
– Travel
– Vitality (healing)
– Command (Blood Bending, only in Full Moon, Humanity check)
– Boost Stamina (moving faster, lifting stuff, etc.)
– Cover (moving earth-trains, sandbending sand-skiffs, etc.)
– Perception (earth sense, ala Toph)

Special bonuses

Element is abundant +1
Moon/Sun is visible (water/fire bending accordingly) +1
Special event (Full moon, Solstice) +2
Eclipse? – cannot bend
Rare event (comet) +3


Martial arts (a must for all benders, but many others use it as well)
Good Living (“Have a cup of tea! Let’s play music”)
Hard Living (“Nothing but hard work and discipline. I don’t need luck.”)
Big (“The Boulder takes offense at that comment.”)
Just Healthy (Sokka)
Soldier (“They used to call you the Dragon of the West…”)
Arcane Regimen (“More banana garlic juice please”)

Zest for life (Aang, Tylee, Iroh, King Bumi)
Responsible (Katara)
Aristocrat (“You were never even a player.”, Azula)
Angry (Zuko)
Manipulator (Jet, Azula)
Leader (Jet)
Goofy Appeal (Sokka)

Naive (Mostly everyone, 1-2 Lore)
Scholar (the scholar who found the Library…)
Cracked (King Bumi)
Secret Society (“The White Lotus Gambit?”)
Encounters with the Mystical (Learning Firebending from Dragons)
Studying from Nature (“I learned earthbending from badgermoles”)
Learning the Hard Way (“Fire. So easily threatens to go out of control.”)
Inhuman (Wan Shi Tong)

Lore, Sorcery, Demons

Sorcery includes the Spirit World, but also the wider ability of mucking around with the metaphysics of the world itself:

– Iroh’s mixing Water & Firebending to make the lightning defense
– Admiral Zhao’s attempt to kill the Water Spirit
– Pacts with Hei Bai, Wan Shi Tong, Ko the Face Stealer

Basically, most of the world lives with only Lore 1-2, with a lot of hard work towards learning new Bending techniques. Going beyond that requires very lateral thinking and even dealing with the dangers of the spirit world or seeking out lost societies.

Aang, Sorcerer

Classic Sorcerer-style Bindings are rare- people wisely fear the power of things beyond their ken. But here’s the most obvious example:

The Avatar State
Need- extreme danger or emotional trauma to the host, or to those the host cares about.
Desire- Divine Retribution (Mayhem)
Stamina 9
Will 10
Lore 9
Power 10
Abilities: Special Damage (non-lethal, all 4 elements), ranged, Travel, Warp, Hold, Boost Stamina

The Avatar State typically uses all of it’s powers until it’s burnt out, forcing the host to be in danger before being able to activate it again…

The individual incarnations that Aang deals with, like Roku, also are considered Bound demons by the rules. Their needs are usually not as dire- “Be in the Spirit World, or the Fire Temple during the Solstice” but still are a bit of a hassle to meet.

Nearly all of them have big Power levels, which is why Aang has such a hard time commanding them (he’s got penalties on the Binding rolls, and also why he only can get cryptic and partial answers most of the time).

Later in the series, Guru Pathik leads Aang on a series of Humanity gaining meditations to finally undertake a ritual to basically trade Humanity for Lore and attempt to re-Bind the Avatar Spirit. Aang bails out on it and the Avatar Spirit rebels… refusing to offer it’s powers.

You could easily say that thematically, in Sorcerer terms, Avatar is about a 12 year old boy who is the world’s biggest sorcerer…