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Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game is an upcoming tabletop roleplaying game produced by Magpie Games and set in the Avatar world, in which heroes from the four nations are roleplayed, fighting for what is right in a complicated and nuanced world. A Kickstarter was launched on August 3, 2021, to serve as a pre-order mechanism, and ran until September 2, 2021, having raised over $9.5 million.[4][5]

The Quickstart for the game was released free of charge on July 12, 2021, containing rules for character generation, storytelling systems, and a pre-generated campaign, The Forbidden Scroll.[6] The digital version of the game's Core Book was released in batches beginning on February 24, 2022, with additional content gradually following afterward.[1][2] Physical products will be released in summer 2022.[3]

The game is lead designed by Brendan Conway, and is built on the Powered by the Apocalypse framework. It was financed through a crowdfunding campaign, which raised US$9.53 M.[7]

Overview

Join your friends in a unique opportunity to return to a beloved setting - this time as the heroes of the story! Rising to meet their destiny, players will make characters using playbooks - templates that help players build and play compelling protagonists in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.

In Avatar Legends: The RPG, you and your friends might protect local merchants from the Triple Threat Triad in Republic City, travel through a spirit portal to rescue a child taken into the Spirit World, negotiate peace between feuding communities in the Earth Kingdom, or pursue mysteries (or villains) that arise throughout their adventures![8]

Description

In this roleplaying tabletop game, players can create their own characters with the help of playbooks — templates based on archetypes of characters' life experiences, exemplifying different playstyles — and choose between playing as benders, martial artists, or technological savants. Led by a gamemaster (GM), players roleplay as their characters in one of the five eras, where they fight for balance in the world while trying to reach goals they have set out for themselves and struggling with inner balance.[9][6]

Storytelling in the game is structured similarly to the television shows, with individual play sessions corresponding to episodes that together form seasons.[10]

Books

Book Release date Additional notes
Quickstart July 12, 2021 Free, limited rulebook
Core Book February 24, 2022 (digital)[11] Main rulebook
Wan Shi Tong's Adventure Guide March 17, 2022[11][12] Supplement book
Republic City August 2022[13] Supplement book
The Spirit World February 2023[13] Supplement book

The Eras

The RPG is designed to be played in five possible eras, each being tied to the span of an Avatar's life (excepting the Hundred Year War era), each focusing on distinct themes which define the type of game that can be played. The Core Book includes a setting chapter with 50+ pages of information about the eras, including characters and plot hooks for each.

The new lore for the game was created with the help of Avatar Studios, with Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino especially involved in regards to the new material on Roku's lifetime.[14][15]

Playbooks

A playbook defines what kind of social role a character fills in a group and how that role relates to conflicts that drive them. A playbook helps to define personality, relationships, and even how they fight, though any playbook can be any type of bender or a nonbender.[6]

Legends

The player characters in Avatar Legends are represented by the playbooks, but the heroes of the story might also run into a few old friends on their adventures. Characters like Avatar Aang, Uncle Iroh, and General Kuvira are called legends, powerful individuals who can act as beloved mentors or worthy opposition, depending on the situation at hand. Each legend has knowledge and special techniques that they may be willing to teach young heroes. Some legends are included in the Core Book, while others are listed in the Expanded Play Booklet. Confirmed legends are:[15][11]

Adventures

  • The Forbidden Scroll: A pre-made campaign set in the year 95 AG, at the time of Fire Lord Ozai's coronation. It involves a group of heroes trying to steal a historical scroll from the Dragonbone Catacombs in Hari Bulkan and being arrested by Fire Sage Bai. The elderly Fire Sage Niuan frees the heroes and gives them the scroll, promising to help him if they also smuggle him out of the city.[6]
  • The Vanishing Act: A pre-made adventure set in the Aang Era, included in the Core Book. The legendary Flying Koi Carnival has recently set up shop in the Middle Ring of Ba Sing Se, delighting visitors with daring feats of bending and artistry. While attending the festival, Rose, the daughter of a prominent diplomat, went missing. Her mother Lei is distraught, wondering who could have taken her daughter and why.
  • Adventure Booklet 1: Earth & Root: In this Kyoshi Era Adventure, you have been given the task of hunting down a notorious daofei by the renowned Firebender Rangi while she attends to her duties as companion to the Avatar. You must prove yourself by stopping this villain before Rangi returns from her latest travels.
  • Adventure Booklet 2: Fire & Brimstone: This Roku Era Adventure features a visit to the Fire Nation Capital in which waterbending master Taqukaq discovers a hidden cache of stolen Earth Kingdom crates filled with meteorite metal. While Taqukaq keeps up appearances during his visit, you must unearth the truth behind this suspicious theft.
  • Adventure Booklet 3: Ash & Steel: In this Hundred Year War Era Adventure, you have been asked to offer protection to defectors offering war plans stolen from Fire Lord Ozai's palace in exchange for asylum in Ba Sing Se. As the machinations of Grand Secretariat Long Feng unfold, you must decide who to trust in this web of lies.
  • Adventure Booklet 4: Air & Wind: An archaeological expedition has discovered a cache of lost Air Nomad scrolls, but the corporation that funded the dig intends to seize the artifacts and exploit them. You must help the dig team reach the safety of Toph's Metalbending Academy before it is too late!
  • Adventure Booklet 5: Water & Mist: In this Korra Era Adventure, President Zhu Li Moon's husband Varrick has gone missing after attending a pro-bending match. While Zhu Li grapples with politics that keep the Republic City police tied up, you are put on the case!
  • The Library: Though not a pre-made adventure, Wan Shi Tong's Adventure Guide contains a guide and plot hooks for campaigns featuring Wan Shi Tong's Library.
  • Yet-unnamed adventure: It will be part of an exclusive PDF just for backers of the Kickstarter campaign.[16]

Crew

  • Project manager: Elizabeth Chaipraditkul
  • Lead designer: Brendan Conway
  • Core designers: Brendan Conway, James Mendez Hodes, Marissa Kelly, Mark Díaz Truman
  • Contributing designers: Sharang Biswas, Lee Francis IV, Yeonsoo Julian Kim, Daniel Kwan
  • Additional design: Elizabeth Chaipraditkul, Brendan Conway, Miguel Ánguel Espinoza, Marissa Kelly, Mark Díaz Truman
  • Writing: Sharang Biswas, Elizabeth Chaipraditkul, Brendan Conway, James Mendez Hodes, Yeonsoo Julian Kim, Simon Moody, Lysa Penrose, Mark Díaz Truman
  • Copy editing: Monte Lin, Kate Unrau
  • Layout and graphic design: Miguel Ángel Espinoza
  • Art direction: Marissa Kelly
  • Art: Avatar Studios & Viacom International Incorporated, Miguel Ángel Espinoza, Abe Dieckman, Patrick Spaziante, Richard Suh
    • Additional art: Pete Hague, Syd Mills
  • Proofreading: Katherine Fackrell

Production

Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game is produced by Magpie Games, by ten full-time staff and several part-time contributors,[17] with Brendan Conway serving as lead designer and James Mendez Hodes as core designer.[18] The team worked together with Asian game designers, writers, and consultants to portray the game's setting as authentically as possible.[13] The designers intende the game to be accessible to players of all ages, and sought to capture what they saw as the core of the Avatar franchise: balance, heroism, the power of friendship, growing up in wartime, the responsibility of power, the damaging legacy of colonialism, and empathy in relationships.[18]

The game is designed with the Powered by the Apocalypse framework as a base, which Magpie Games had previously used in other games. They chose it as they considered it accessible for those new to roleplaying games, while allowing for systems around elemental bending and politics.[7] They also appreciated Powered by the Apocalypse's character playbooks, which they focused on archetypes of different lived experiences rather than an "innate characteristic like race or heritage", with the intent of exploring life in a world of colonization and systemic oppresion, and encouraging players to roleplay characters rather than Asian stereotypes.[18]

In addition to this concern around handling Asian cultural influences on the setting, one of the production team's major concerns was the portryal of bending. Magpie Games' CEO, Mark Truman, thought that although it would have been easy to define bending through a rules-heavy system akin to how magic is handled in Dungeons & Dragons, it would have gone against the ubiquity of bending in the setting. Instead, they chose to let characters have varying competency and training in bending, affecting how well they can manipulate their element and, taking cues from characters in the television series, let players customize the bending in accordance with their characters' personalities.[18][19]

Crowdfunding and release

Magpie Games announced the game in February 2021, after licensing the Avatar franchise from ViacomCBS the year prior,[20][17] and released a trailer for it in August 2021, narrated by Greg Baldwin, reprising his role as Iroh from the television series. They financed the game through a campaign on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, which ran from August 3 to September 2, 2021.[21] The campaign originally had a goal of US$50,000, which was reached in 16 minutes.[22] By the end of the first day, it had surpassed one million, reaching further crowdfunding goals and enabling production of additional material on top of the core rulebook, and accessories such as a dice bag.[13] By August 5, the campaign had surpassed $2.4M, overtaking both The One Ring Roleplaying Game's second edition as the highest earning Kickstarter campaign for a tabletop game system and the Dungeons & Dragons book Strongholds & Followers as the highest earning for tabletop games in general.[7]

By August 16, the campaign had reached all planned crowdfunding goals: Magpie Games worked with ViacomCBS to develop further goals for the campaign, but noted that although they were trying to get them approced as quickly as possible, it would take some time,[23][17] When the campaign ended, 81,567 supporters had raised a total of $9.53M, making it the tenth highest funded campaign overall on Kickstarter, and the one with the ninth most individual pledges.[24] Although Magpie Games assumed a certain level of success due to the popularity of the Avatar franchise, they did not expect to raise more than $3M, and attributed a lot of the success to their online advertising, which targeted people outside of the roleplaying game community. In addition to this, a large portion of the budget was put toward printing and shipping, while another significant portion went toward the expenses involved in acquiring the license for the series, such as commissioning lawyers and agents.[17] Following the campaign, the publisher continued accepting "late pledges".[25]

The game's core rulebook was released digitally in batches beginning on February 24, 2022, with additional content gradually following afterward.[1][2] The print edition was delayer until summer 2022 due to a nationwide cardboard shortage in the United States.[3][26][27] A free quickstart e-book with basic rules and a description of the setting was released in July 2021 ahead of the crowdfunding campaign.[9] The game was later expanded with a supplementary book called Wan Shi Tong's Adventure Guide, released digitally on March 17, 2022[11][12] New supplementary books are scheduled to be released in 2022 and 2023.[13][19]

Reception

Previewing the game, Dicebreaker thought that it would satisfy both viewers of the television series and players of roleplaying games, considering it a beginner-friendly game that makes good use of the source material, and which elevates characters from basic fantasy to Avatar characters through the use of the balance track. They thought that it understands the storytelling structure of the television shows well, and liked how it splits its setting into five eras, enabling many types of stories. They did consider the combat a weak point, describing it as the game's least well defined aspect.[10] Players appreciated how the game is not a "reskinned" version of Dungeons & Dragons' fifth edition.[17][19]

Meeple Mountain called the game "a great sandbox in which to play regardless of which era you pick or how you incorporate the bending."[28]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Core Book PDF Delivery. Kickstarter (February 9, 2022).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Getting Your PDF. Kickstarter (February 21, 2022). Retrieved on February 22, 2022.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Shipping Timeline Update. Kickstarter (December 8, 2021).
  4. Avatar Legends RPG on Kickstarter August 3rd!. MagpieGames.com (July 12, 2021).
  5. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game — Kickstarter Trailer. YouTube.com (August 3, 2021).
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Avatar Legends: The Roleplay Game. Quickstart, Version 1.0, 2021.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Avatar Legends becomes the highest funded TRPG on Kickstarter within its first week. Dicebreaker (August 5, 2021). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  8. Avatar RPG. MagpieGames.com. Retrieved on July 12, 2021.
  9. 9.0 9.1 You can now play the Avatar: The Last Airbender tabletop RPG with free quickstart rules. Dicebreaker (July 12, 2021). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Avatar Legends RPG does justice to The Last Airbender and Korra's storytelling, but fumbles combat - preview. Dicebreaker (August 9, 2021). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game Kickstarter. MagpieGames.com (September 1, 2021).
  12. 12.0 12.1 Wan Shi Tong PDF and Core Book Updates!. Kickstarter.com (March 9, 2022). Retrieved on March 9, 2022.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 No New Avatar Video Game Yet, But a Tabletop RPG Is on the Way. IGN (February 3, 2021). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  14. We are the designers of Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Games. AMA!. MagpieGames.com. Retrieved on August 31, 2021.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game - Kickstarter preview. Kickstarter.com (July 27, 2021). Retrieved on July 28, 2021.
  16. Final Stretch Goal Unlocked: All-Star Actual Play Video. MagpieGames.com (August 31, 2021).
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 Avatar Legends RPG designers were prepared for success, but nearly $10m on Kickstarter changed things. Dicebreaker (September 8, 2021). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Avatar: The Last Airbender RPG first details: five playable eras, keeping Balance and how bending will work. Dicebreaker (February 25, 2021). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game - Wikipedia article. Wikipedia. Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  20. Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra are being adapted into a tabletop RPG. Dicebreaker (February 3, 2021). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  21. Nostalgic Avatar Legends trailer teases a tabletop RPG that wants to capture the spirit of the shows. Syfy.com (August 6, 2021). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  22. Benders and non-benders unite behind giant Avatar: The Last Airbender RPG Kickstarter (August 5, 2021). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  23. Avatar Legends has been so successful it's run out of stretch goals. IGN (August 16, 2021). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  24. Avatar Legends RPG Decimates Funding Goal, Sets Kickstarter Record. CBR.com (September 3, 2021). Retrieved on March 22, 2022.
  25. Avatar Legends RPG Kickstarter Campaign Rakes In Over $9.5 Milion. ICv2 (September 8, 2021). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  26. Avatar Legends RPG physical release date delayer to summer 2022. Dicebreaker (December 9, 2022). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  27. Avatar: The Last Airbender Game May Face Delays Due To Cardboard Shortage. TheGamer.com (September 5, 2021). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.
  28. Avatar Legends: the RPG Review. Bend It Like Bolin. Meeple Mountain (August 3, 2021). Retrieved on March 23, 2022.

See also

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