Avatar Legends RPG
Avatar as a TTRPG
I am so very excited for the world of Avatar to become a fully fledged TTRPG. At the time of writing this blog, the Avatar TTRPG Kickstarter by Magpie Games has taken off and flown past their goals as people back this TTRPG. I too backed this Kickstarter and am very excited to see it take off. As we all wait for the Kickstarter to end and for the goodies to arrive at our doors and stores, I took a look at the “Avatar Legends The Roleplaying Game Quick Start '' booklet to get excited for this TTRPG. If you would like your own copy of the Avatar Legends The Role Playing Game Quickstart click here to be brought to the website and make sure to sight up for the email list.
At the time of writing this (8/21/21) the Kickstarter is at 6.6 Million dollars with 54,330 bakers. If you are interested in checking out this Kickstarter Campaign by Magpie Games click here.
Quickstart Book: Version 2.0
Before the Kickstarter launched, Magpie Games put out for the public a Quickstart Manual to help introduce this new ttrpg. The version that I am reviewing is version 2.0. As a DM I appreciate that there was already an update to fix errors and that the company sent an email to let us know that there was an updated version on DriveThruRPG. There is even a change log to track what changes have been made. As a future Avatar ttrpg player and GM I love that they are listening to the feedback of fans and staying on top of making this the best ttrpg they possibly can. Right in the first paragraph they make the reader aware that these are not the final rules as they will keep being adjusted and worked on before the final version of the game comes out.
The World and Times of Avatar Legends
In this game you play a hero from one of the Four nations (Earth, Air, Fire or Water). The quick start guide sells the game as a game “about bravery, friendship, and doing what is right in the face of often insurmountable odds.” This TTRPG is based in the world that many know from Avatar the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra series. Those who are unfamiliar with Avatar and just getting introduced, the world is a fantasy setting “inspired by Asian and North American Indigenous cultures.” Page Four gives a great introduction to who/what is the Avatar and what you may expect from this world.
There are a lot of different pieces to fill into your character playbook but the Quickstart Guide walks you through things pretty well. First you can decide if you want to use a pre-generated character (pg26) or get a blank playbook to fill in yourself (pg 45). There are Six play books or archetypes (bold, guardian, hammer, icon, idealist, successor) to pick from. When coming up with names, the Quickstart Guide has a variety of pre-generated names to select from each of the different elemental kingdoms to pick from or inspire you.
Training and skills are important and you get to choose whether your character is a bender or a non-bender with skills (such as fighting or technology). A list of backgrounds can be found on pg 10 and 11 and you can select up to two. Demeanor is another thing that you will have to select one or two on your playbook to describe how your character behaves.
I love creating character backstories and as a DM I enjoy using aspects from back stories into my games. In the Avatar Legends Playbook there are five “history” questions that players will answer to flesh out backstory and help tell a story of why their character is there.
Unlike D&D and Pathfinder, Avatar Legends only have 4 stats. These are creativity, focus, harmony and passion; four words that fit well with the Avatar theme. You do not roll for these stats. You will write +1 next to two stats, +0 next to one and a -1 next to the last.
Fatigue and Conditions are another piece on the playbook that you will need to mark and how it affects your character based on the stress and fatigue your character is going through.
One of the more beautiful parts of the play book is the Balance tracker with the two koi fish (Tui and La). You start with your balance in your center and will shift regularly through play in the game. The numbers on each side of the line will determine how your character feels about one of the central conflicts in their identity. Balance is explained in great detail on page 17 from resisting shifts, to all the things that could shift your balance. Balance is also important in the fact that there is a “Moment of Balance” move that your character can unlock through advancement as long as your character’s balance is at its center. Basic and balance moves are on pg. 42 followed by combat moves and approaches on 43.
As a DM I like the idea that there is a “Growth Question” where players discuss what their characters learned at the end of every game session (also called an “episode”). The questions are listed on page 22, but each play book also has a question which only that character answers that allows for a growth box to be checked. Once four growth boxes have been checked an advancement can be made.
Campaign Creation Worksheets can be found on pg 44 and goes bit by bit on each piece needed for a successful campaign outline (era, scope, focus, inciting incident for Act 1-3) and a place to write allies/enemies.
Playing The Game
The way the Quickstart Guide explains the game is everyone at the table is having a conversation while playing pretend with their friends. There are the Four Nations and their history and your GM and players are navigating different conflicts and going against different “villains.”
Your character does “moves” which rely on d6’s that rely on your skills and training to see if what you want your character to do can be made possible. You will roll 2d6 and add the results together, then you will add or subtract the stat named in that move to see if the grand total is equal or greater than a 7. A 6 or below will result in a “miss.”
Fatigue and conditions are given in greater detail on pages 15 &16. These can have an affect on your character's choices and success in game. I find it important to be familiar with the rules of these two things to make sure that you are not at a disadvantage and are able to clear up any fatigue and conditions your character might suffer. These conditions are also quite different from the conditions that one might find in Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons. The conditions of Avatar RPG include: afraid, angry, foolish, guilty and insecure. The game of Avatar has a high focus on emotions.
As stated earlier, Basic and Combat moves can be found in the Quickstart Guide on pages 18 & 19. There are also a list of basic techniques that every player character and NPC alike have access to, these are featured on page 21.
The help action in Avatar will give you 1 fatigue in order to give another player a +1 on their roll and is your entire action. There is also the ability to help as a group and separate rules for helping in combat exchanges.
At the end of game sessions the players answer three important questions (pg 22) and the answers to these show whether or not the character had any growth advancement rather than earning experience points like many other ttrpgs.
For Game Masters
On pages 23 - 25 there is a very brief helping guide to running a game of Avatar Legends: The RPG. As a GM, I appreciate that it gives you the written reminder that guidelines are the rules to help you make the Avatarverse come alive and gives some tools to help. Some of the things in their guidelines list I personally already do at my ttrpg tables, such as addressing characters instead of players. There are some good things to help brand new GMs such as a list of basic GM moves and some tips under the “If you get stuck” column as well. The last page of this section is all about NPCs.
Pre-generated Character Playbooks
When learning to play a new TTRPG I very much like
Teek, The Bold (water bender with creativity and focus)
Aniki, The Guardian (weapon training with creativity, focus and passion)
Wenli, The Hammer (fire bender with creativity passion and a -1 to focus)
Xaipan, The Icon (earth bender with focus and harmony)
Sunlin, The Idealist (uses dual throwing clubs with focus and creativity)
Yinzin, The Successor (Technology training with bonuses in creatity and focus. Has a -1 to Harmony)
The Forbidden Scroll- An Adventure (no spoilers)
This adventure takes place the night before the crowning ceremony of Fire Lord Ozzie and is 9 pages long. The last page is “GM Advice” to help navigate things that could happen in the adventure (as we know players like doing things their own way that can cause improvisation to happen). The adventure is very (intentionally) sandbox like and there are lots of components to be used by the dm to run an adventure with a set goal (escape) in mind but it is really up to the group to see which of the events on pg 29 happen in what order. A summary of the start/background information is on pg 27 to get the story started and then the rest of the pages are guidelines.
A feature that I liked about this adventure is the clock (pg 28) which changes the time of day and an event happens when a quarter of the clock gets filled in as time passes. It helps keep things on track and gives added pressure for the need to escape.
A player introduction with how your characters made it to jail can be found on pg 30 followed by a list of important characters and nocturnal stats. All of the important locations (for town and npcs starting points) and festival sights are on pages 33-34. The adventure has 8 pre-made things to explore but a creative gm can add more in as well. The descriptions given are quite basic and imagination can be used to give more details and encounters in each place.
Last Thoughts From the Fox
I found it interesting and a nice change that in the introduction pages there was a paragraph talking about player safety and made reference to using safety tools to make sure that everyone is comfortable at the table and is ready to have the right type of game. The document makes reference to the X-card by John Stavropoulos by name as a reference.
Something I enjoyed reading was that the quick start had a really good way of explaining a campaign in the truest Avatar fashion. Each session is an episode in your season campaign and will have arch’s and obstacles that you will have to overcome by the end.
As Avatar is a world filled with people with the amazing ability to bend, I was very disappointed that the only mention of Bending was put on pg 22 as a very short two paragraph gloss over. I was not expecting a spell list like other ttrpgs but I with how much detail goes into bending (body movements as shown in the show through animation and the scroll Katara steals) I was hoping for a little more. Can you get scrolls to learn new moves? What is the limitation of bending before you exhaust yourself? Things like that I hope are added in more detail for the final ttrpg that comes out with the Kickstarter
I would, as always, recommend a session zero before running this adventure as Avatar Legends is a new ttrpg. There is a lot of great potential and I look forward to when the Kickstarter box arrives at my door with goodies to run at my table.
This article reviews Avatar Legends The Roleplaying Game Quickstart booklet. All work that was reviewed and referenced came from their version 2 document. Credits listed inside the manual are in the image on the left of this box.
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© 2021 Viacom International Inc. All rights reserved. Nickelodeon, Legend of Korra and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc.