Legend of the Elements
The Closest You'll Find to an Official Avatar RPG [ edit ]
Unfortunately there isn't (yet) any official Avatar RPG, but as an unofficial Avatar RPG, Legend of the Elements is the next best thing:
While the game doesn’t have a concrete setting (all setting creation is done at the table, with procedural guidance), the game was originally not just inspired by Avatar, but specific to it. I never copied the setting, but I knew that was the vibe I wanted.
- Max Hervieux, Creator of Legend of the Elements
Built on Top of the (Extremely Popular) Apocalypse World Rules [ edit ]
Legend of the Elements is a PbtA (Powered by the Apocalypse) game, which is to say its core rules are taken from the RPG Apocalypse World.
Now, as an RPG based on a children's TV show, taking core rules from that (very adult) post-apocalyptic RPG might seem like an odd choice. However, it turns out Legend of the Elements is in good company: there are more than 200 different RPGs based on Apocalpyse World!
Apocalypse World itself currently sits at #3 in RPG Geek's rankings ... out of every RPG, of all time (beaten only by two editions of Call of Cthulhu)! Perhaps it's no surprise then that both Legend of the Elements and Fellowship (see below) are both "Powered by the Apocalypse".
The Rules [ edit ]
When a character in a PbtA system tries to accomplish something, they roll 2d6 and add the relevant stat, with the exact result determining the degree of success. A 10+ results in a complete success, a 7-9 results in a partial success or success at a cost, and a roll of 6 or less is a failure, which allows the game master("Master of Ceremonies") to make a move.
This mechanic keeps play relatively simple, and focused on the story ... but it comes at the cost of not letting the "MC" specify different numbers, for easier and more difficult actions. Actions in PbtA are accomplished by the player selecting a "move".
For example, to attack in Legend of the Elements, a player would make a "Commit Open Violence" action. Some actions (like that one) are available to all characters, while others are specific to certain classes. For instance, only an Earth shaper can make the "Earthshaping" action.
By the way, that wasn't a typo: I did write "earthshaping", not "earthbending". For legal reasons Legend of the Elements has various departures like this from the language of avatar.
Character Creation and Chi [ edit ]
PbtA characters have "playbooks", which are a sort of combination of a class and a character sheet. A player first selects a playbook such as "Airshaper", "Monk", or "Warrior", and then they "fill in the blanks" to define how their character is unique.
Playbooks require the player to make a mix of mechanic and story decisions, such as a sets of stat bonuses, or elements of their character's backstory. Some choices, such as their choice of "charkas", even blends the two together.
Each character has to pick a "chakra" based on their playbook, with an air shaper (for instance) being able to choose whether their character is "emotional and sensitive" or "fickle and indecisive" (or two other options). When the player role-plays their chakra in a way that causes "trouble or tension", they are rewarded with a chi point.
Chi points (which a player can also get in other ways, such as by failing at a move) are both the game's "experience points" (they allow the player to advance their character), as well as a valuable resource in-game, as a player can spend a chi to improve a roll's result (for instance converting a failure into a partial success).
It it Any Good? [ edit ]
Unfortunately, as a game from an independent publisher, Legend of th Elements hasn't gained enough traction (and reviews) yet to earn an RPG Geek ranking. It does (at the time of writing) have 12 reviews on Drive Thru RPG though, with an average rating of 4.5/5 stars, so some gamers are certainly enjoying it.
Looking at other reviews around the Internet a few points of consensus emerge. First, everyone agrees that LoE has done an amazing job of capturing the world and feel of Avatar. Second, everyone agrees that LoE is a very story-driven RPG, with very little in the way of "crunchy" rules. If you want to be able to definitively look up how ___ works (the way you can in a game like Dungeons and Dragons or GURPS), you're going to be thrown a bit by LoE's far more abstract and narrative-focused approach.
Finally, the one weak spot most reviewers agreed on was the Game Master ("MC") content. Some felt the "MC" content was even contradictory at times, and everyone agreed that it was not ideal for first-time GMs. Also some reviewers found other issues, such as balance problems with some character abilities feeling meaningless compared to others.
While these weren't major problems, the contributed to a sense that the game (still in its first edition) is a little "rough".
A Promising New Game That's (Literally) Made for Avatar [ edit ]
If what you are looking for is a game with detailed/crunchy rules, or a well-polished game ... or even a game that lots of people have played and reviewed ... Legend of the Elements may not be for you.
But if you're looking for a heavily story-driven game, based on the incredibly popular PbtA system, which was specifically made for gaming with Avatar- and Korra-like stories, Legend of the Elements will be exactly what you want.