Monday, August 10, 2009

Top 5 Cartoons That Should Be RPGs - #5

It's Saturday morning. You crawl out of bed at ten without an alarm clock and take a breath of that fresh weekend air. Time to put on your favorite Cthulu slippers, grab a bowl of Sugar Frosted Sugar Lumps cereal, and sink into your couch in front of your favorite
Saturday morning cartoons RPG!

Inspired by some of the great "someone turn this into an RPG please!" posts I've seen over at the RPG Blogger's Network I thought I'd throw some of my own RPG dreams out there, building a huge past time of mine - cartoons.

Not sure why I'm such a huge fan of cartoons, but twenty two years young and I'm still hooked on my Saturday morning sugar cereal and animated antics. Combined with my love of RPGs I threw together this little list I'll be delving into for the next week or so.

So, here we go. Five cartoons that should be made into RPGs.

Starting with...

#5 - Avatar the Last Airbender

"When the hostile Fire Nation threatens to enslave the Water, Earth, and Air Nations, a reluctant and irresponsible boy must face his destiny as the Avatar, the Chosen One who can restore the world order. This new animated series centers on twelve-year-old Aang, who must forgo his selfish wandering to learn to master his latent powers over the four elements. Only then can he conquer the Firebenders, the evil magi who threaten the world."

What Makes It Awesome?

Avatar: The Last Airbender has a lot of good things going for it.

Firstly, Avatar is set in a well developed world, with lore and culture all it's own. Comets and stars, as well as the changing seasons and the yearly solstices, all have a significant impact on the world. The world believes in spirits (with powerful beings being able to travel into the spirit realm) and sometimes even see spirits made flesh. And the world is rich with secret organizations such as the White Lotus, and unique games such as Pai Sho.

Secondly, the potential build of characters could be very interesting. Benders must gain training to increase in their skills, encouraging them to travel all around the world to learn from masters. The world itself is full of strange creatures and unique challenges the players could match themselves against - using not only bending powers, but creativity, physical skill, and philosophical minds.

Thirdly, the setting is fantastic. A world divided, locked in a neverending war. And ever since Oriental Adventures was released for D&D, I've loved Oriental settings, which I think Avatar alludes nicely to with it's roots in martial arts.

A Snapshot: Character Classes

Airbender: Harnessing the power of air; quick movement, and even flight are at your disposal. Airbenders are spiritual, often pacifistic, nomads. Their skills are used for defense, dexterity, and unique movement on the battlefield - as well as disarming and inconveniencing their opponents.

Earthbender: Earthbenders are proud, strong, and sometimes stubborn people. Earthbenders are decisive and sure footed. Though they may be the slowest among the benders, they pack more strength behind each individual attack then any other bender. Great architects and builders, Earthbenders are as long-lasting and stalwart as the structures and cities they have raised in their kingdom.

Waterbender: With the powers of water and healing at their side, Waterbenders are powerful enemies and even more hardy friends. Flowing and graceful in their art, Waterbenders are at one with the spirit of the moon and the ebb and flow of the world around them. Talented at both defense and offense, tied with their ability for healing, Waterbenders are balanced and kind characters.

Firebender: The power of fire is harsh and quick. Firebenders are quick, deadly, and confident - not allowing any defense to stand in their way. Fast to act, Firebenders draw their power from the sun and - while they can utilize some defensive maneuvers, are best trained for their deadly offensive skills.

Scholar: While not everyone's a Bender, the knowledge Scholars possess of the world, the stars, and the many myths that circle the four kingdoms speak their own power. Seeking ancient ruins, forgotten libraries, and the shadowy history of the world, a scholar can be a fast companion - inquisitive and trained in many unique skills, including the use of ancient relics and scrolls.

Inventor: Some are content to study the past, but Inventors look to the future. Masters of creation, Inventors aren't Benders, but seek to emulate their abilities with everything from flying machines to grenades to firearms and much, much more. Some inventors are always traveling, looking for inspiration and studying the strange creations of distant nations while developing their own machines. An Inventor is a grab bag of usefulness, often coming up with the perfect tool when you need it the most.

Soldier: Whether a trained Fire Nation soldier, an Earth Tribe warrior, or a Water Nation barbarian, Soldiers may lack the skill for Bending but are skilled in the art of battle and war. There are many groups of trained warriors and mercenaries all across the four nations, each with their own unique style of combat. A talented warrior can be the greatest benefit to any group of travelers. Where Bending may fail, swords are always a good Plan B.

Why Number 5?

I partially ranked Avatar at the bottom of the list because it's so obvious! Anyone who's seen this show has probably thought of how much fun it would be to take on the role of an Earthbender or Firebender. The rest of the list consists of much more unexpected choices, which ranks them a little higher in my book simply because of how unique they are and how fresh the game would be.

In the end, Avatar - while it would be a unique take on a fantasy-like setting - winds up being not too different from some other games out there. Also, the choices for characters seem like they could be fairly limited (since everyone would obviously want to play a Bender).

Altogether though, Avatar would fit well into a tabletop game and I'd love to see it. From the deep culture and lore that's already been written for the series, to the clearly defined character concepts, to the oriental setting which always makes me smile.

Dibs on being the Earthbender!

To learn more about Avatar, check out the Avatar Wiki!


Anonymous said...

I have played in several Avatar-styled games using a friends system in development. Much fun was had by all.

Daniel Solis is working on Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple which looks to be playing with similar themes:

Storyteller said...

@seaofstarsrpg - I figured that there might be some systems out there that were working towards, or worked with, the Avatar theme. I think it would be a super fun game.

Flying Temple certainly seems to share many themes with Avatar. It looks quite interesting!

Tor Hershman said...

Methinks "Batbat" should be a RPG.

Storyteller said...

@Tor Hershman - I am ashamed because I'm not familiar with that cartoon! I am sure however that there will be many worthy cartoons I'll leave out of the top 5 which is why I'll include an honorable mention wrap up at the end.

Shanika said...

my love for you has increased exponentially after reading this.

i am consumed with glee that you actually started this list.

Storyteller said...

@Shanika - I think you'll greatly enjoy the last three picks :)

The ZeEk said...

You forgot one class...the infamous chi blocker