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D&D > Off TopicAug 9, 2021 10:00 am CT

How to play Avatar: The Last Airbender in D&D right now

There is an Avatar Legends  tabletop RPG coming out. The goal of the Kickstarter was $50,000, and it reached millions of dollars, with weeks left to go. It’s clear we want to play this, probably even you. But what if you want to play Avatar: The Last Airbender, or Legend of Korra right now, and don’t want to wait for this Kickstarted fully realized TTRPG to release? Well, there are ways you can play as your favorite elemental-bending characters, or your own characters in such a world in Dungeons and Dragons 5e.

Let’s take a look at several ways to make such characters.

There’s always the varied Way of the Monk subclasses to explore

When designing the different styles of bending in Avatar, the creators looked at different forms of martial arts. Likewise, when creating the Monk class in D&D, this was designed around the concept of martial arts. And then there is the particular kind of Monk — Way of the Four Elements. The description reads, “When you focus your ki, you can align yourself with the forces of creation and bend the four elements to your will, using them as an extension of your body.” There it is — a Way of the Four Elements Monk is basically Aang already. One would have to weaken the class to focus on bending just one element, like most characters in Avatar, right?

Well, not really. YouTuber Tulok the Barbrarian makes fictional characters for D&D. From Avatar, he has made Korra, Katara, Toph, Zuko, and of course Aang. Between all of these characters, Aang came out the weakest — Tulok admits as much in the video. Trying to divide attention among all four elements spreads the focus of the character too thin, especially with a Monk when ki is so limited. Focusing on just one –maybe taking a few necessary abilities and reworking them differently — makes a really strong and flavorful character, and spending ki easier to manage.

Between the Way of the Elements Monk, and the characters from Tulok’s videos, these will give great templates for player characters. As for settings and campaigns, there are not a lot of official D&D resources here. For a Dungeon Master designing this on their own, start with scenery and settings based on the TV series. For creatures, look at animals that exist in D&D, and combine them. Most animals in Avatar are a combination of two animals — Momo was a flying lemur that was really a normal lemur and a bat. NPC villains, if following the show’s story, would mostly be Monk-style fighters with fire power.

Luckily, there are other resources out there to help.

Unofficial material creates what players and DMs need for the Avatar setting

There is a lot of created content out on the internet for Avatar in D&D. Possibly the best is Incarnate: The Last of the Lacers. This is available through the DMs Guild website, suggested at $19.99. However, it’s a “pay what you want” site — you can help out the creator and give them $20, kick them $5 for a Starbucks, or you can just download it for free. It is, at its core, Avatar: The Last Airbender. It has everything you need — races, classes, feats, weapons, equipment, settings, monsters, and yes that includes Appa and Momo, the most important part. It also includes the Vegetable Merchant as a background.

To be clear, names have been changed in Last of the Lancers, but the descriptions make it clear it is Avatar — just different enough that there is deniable plausibility. It’s been out for five years, and received an update a few years back based on feedback from players. This is something that could have been a Kickstarter and fed the need of Avatar fans, except, of course, it didn’t have the official backing. For a visual look at this, Nerd Immersion did a review and a bit of play testing back in 2016.

Another PDF out on DMs Guild is Martial Elementalist, an update to Way of the Four Elements Monk, which it says is inspired by Avatar: The Last Airbender. This was specifically designed to give D&D players the ability to create a bender, and adds new spells to flesh out the class. I’m not sure how good this is, but it fit the topic, and thought it should be included. This is another “pay what you want,” with the suggested price of $3.00.

There is a lot of homebrew material out there for Avatar, too

So, there’s official material, unofficial material — and then there’s homebrew. The line becomes blurry between unofficial you can download for free, and homebrew you can find on the internet for free. With that said, you can find a lot more for Avatar and D&D fans, to the point that an Avatar TTRPG seems almost unnecessary.

D&D Wiki has a whole World of Avatar: The Last Airbender 5e campaign setting. This is complete with classes, a variation of the Human race, and details for setting up the four nations. This could be used for player creation — or if players were using the official material this could still be a valuable resource for DMs for world building. Even if you’re not looking for Avatar, D&DWiki has a lot of great resources for ideas based on other IPs.

GM Binder has a book that looks professionally made — The World of Avatar. This is for player creation, and despite the name, doesn’t help with world creation. There are always great ideas for single monsters or NPCs that will show up on Pinterest or Tumblr from time to time. Though I rarely find these by searching for them specifically, usually a Google search happens to turn up results from those sites. While researching homebrew Avatar, I found a whole page on Pinterest that happened to have a few fire-bending NPCs for the Fire Nation. On Pinterest, I found Appa and Momo — again, the most important part of the show.

These resources will give you plenty of material to make your own Air Bender, or even start you making someone who will ascend to the Avatar, perhaps at level 20 — though there’s no reason to stick the confines of the show. D&D offers more choices, like not everyone has to be human — Dwarves would make fine Stone Benders.

And remember, even the best Fire Bender could be shut down by Counterspell.

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