View Full Version : Campaign Setting Materials
08-27-2008, 03:55 PM
The World of Avatar:
The world of Avatar is based on a mix of Chinese and Japanese culture, history and mythology and is home to humans, fantastic animals, and spirits. Human civilization is divided into the four great nations: the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Air Nomads, and the Fire Nation. Each nation is tied to one of the classical elements (Air, Earth, Fire and Water), from which it derives its name and bases its society. Within each nation exists an order of disciplined people called "Benders", who have the mystical ability to manipulate the element of their home nation. Appropriately, the Bending types are known as Waterbending, Earthbending, Firebending, and Airbending. Each nation and Bending form is associated with one of the seasons: winter/water, spring/earth, summer/fire and autumn/air. Consequently, each of the Bending forms is generally observed to be at its strongest during its season.
The Water Tribes are home to the order of men and women who practice Waterbending, the mystical art of hydrokinesis. Their society is divided into two nation-states, the Southern Water Tribe, which inhabits the South Pole, and the Northern Water Tribe, which inhabits the North Pole. There is also the Foggy Swamp Tribe, a tribe of waterbenders who reside in the swamps of the Earth Kingdom. Inhabiting coastal areas of the frozen poles, the Water Tribes inherently depend on the oceans for a majority of their natural resources and well as the bounty of the frozen tundra.
The Earth Kingdom is the home to the Earthbenders, those who have mastered the art of geokinesis, the ability to manipulate soil, stone and earthen material. The kingdom encompasses a massive continent taking up most of the planet's eastern hemisphere and is the largest of the four nations. Architecture, farming, carpentry, hunting, and mining are among many significant Earth Kingdom industries. Its citizens have developed an advanced trade and commerce system so that almost all citizens may benefit.
The Fire Nation is the home of the Firebenders, the order dedicated to the study of pyrokinesis. The Fire Nation is located on an archipelago of islands in the western hemisphere of the planet near the equator. The geography of the nation consists of dozens of volcanoes, many of which are still active. It is the most industrially advanced of the four nations and the government is very heavily isolationist. Their inherent knowledge of combustion gives them access to several Industrial-Age technologies such as advanced metallurgy, tanks, rudimentary explosives, sophisticated catapults, siege drills, and coal-powered, ironclad warships.
Finally, the Air Nomads is the nation of the Airbenders, masters of aerokinesis, a relatively small and reclusive order of monks. The people of this nation are spread between four air temples located at the corners of the globe, located on small island chains and high atop mountain peaks. The Air Nomads are the only nation comprised entirely of Benders, due to the highly spiritual nature of their society. However, they also have the smallest population of the four kingdoms. The Air Nomads are a tranquil and environmentally friendly people and do their best not to leave a mark on the land. The industries that they engender, such as farming and gardening, are powered naturally.
Into each generation, a child is born who is capable of mastering all four of the Bending arts. This being is known as the Avatar: the spirit of the planet manifested in human form. The Avatarís task it is to keep balance among the four nations, to ensure that no single nation becomes too powerful. The Avatar is also a link between the human world and the Spirit World. Throughout the ages, countless incarnations of the Avatar have served to maintain harmony of the elements.
At any time there is only a single Avatar. When the Avatar dies, the Avatar Spirit is reincarnated into a newborn, who becomes the next Avatar. The Avatar Cycle parallels the seasons: autumn for the Air Nomads is followed by winter for the Water Tribe, then spring for the Earth Kingdom and finally summer for the Fire Nation.
08-27-2008, 04:52 PM
Technology and Commerce:
The technological level is roughly equivalent to that of pre-industrial China, with the exception of some of the Fire Nation's advanced sciences. The sword, spear and bow are the general weapons of choice for most ordinary militia. Overland travel is done by beasts of burden or pulled carts and wagons, while seafaring is available via sail or oar-driven ships. There are, however, occasional cases of the various Bending arts being employed to facilitate unusual forms of travel.
Villages are the most common form of community, with larger cities existing primarily as the capitals of the great kingdoms. As resources and industry are generally plentiful, trade is common and a middle class of merchants is fairly established. Bartering is still heavily accepted as means of exchanging goods, but the Water Tribes, Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom have each established their own form of currency which are widely used and occasionally exchanged.
08-28-2008, 10:49 AM
The Bending Arts:
Bending is a form of elemental mysticism, where a person is able to control and manipulate a particular element. Though some degree of talent for Bending seems to be inborn to certain people or families, true skill in Bending requires lengthy and intensive study, dedication and practice.
Each Bending form is largely channeled through "katas" or patterned movements and stances that give shape and focus to the chi that allows one to Bend. As such, Benders are at their most vulnerable when restrained or unfocused and unable to enact these motions with accuracy and clarity. Each Bending style is tied thematically to the katas that empower it, and as a result, the motions of each style are quite distinct.
Waterbenders originally learned Waterbending from the moon. The ancestors of the Water Tribe noticed the push and pull effect the Moon has on the tides of the ocean. Eventually, these first Waterbenders learned how to manipulate water themselves. Waterbending is the only bending art without a spiritual animal teacher.
Waterbending is based on Tai Chi and features slow movements and elegant forms that evoke the feel of flowing water. Waterbending's strongest asset lies within its defensive capabilities. Unlike some other bending disciplines, Waterbending focuses on turning an opponent's own strength against themselves, rather than direct strikes. Since water can exist in different physical states, Waterbenders can freeze, melt, evaporate, sublimate or condense water. The ability to alter the physical state of water gives Waterbenders an array of defensive, evasive and offensive techniques in battle such as encasing an opponent in ice, hiding behind a wall of mist, surfing on bodies of water on a platform of ice, and battering enemies with lashing whips and waves. Waterbenders can also manipulate the molecular cohesion of water for cutting and grabbing objects or running on water. While a bender's victory in battle is usually based on skill and technique, a Waterbender gains a notable advantage or disadvantage over other bending arts depending on the amount of water in their vicinity.
Waterbenders are more powerful at night than during the day due to their spiritual connection with the moon. Waterbenders are at their most powerful during the full moon, and are powerless during a lunar eclipse or when the Moon Spirit is in danger.
Earthbenders first developed their art by observing and imitating the Badgermoles, large subterranean creatures that use Earthbending to see and interact with the world.
Earthbending is generally based on the Hung Gar style of Kung Fu, which features heavily rooted stances and strong kicks and punches. The martial art is based on the movements of animals, among them the Tiger and the Crane. The Tiger represents Hard Power, while the crane embodies Soft Power. Unlike other bending disciplines, Earthbending stresses the aspect of neutral jin, which involves listening and waiting for the right moment to attack.
Earthbenders are known to stand their ground. Many skilled Earthbenders absorb and intercept attacks before overwhelming the opponent with superior force. Some can tunnel through the earth to out-maneuver their foes. Earthbenders have been known to use objects to augment their bending. Earthbending is not limited to rock or soil alone. An Earthbender can additionally manipulate other earth-based substances including mud, slurry, sand, gemstones and coal. Heavily refined metals however, such as tempered iron and steel, are beyond their influence. In order to be in close connection with their element, most Earthbenders choose to be barefoot.
Firebenders were first inspired by the Sun but the Dragons are credited as the first to fully teach the art of Firebending to man. The philosophy of Firebending, when it was first created, differs radically from that of the present-day Fire Nation. Originally representing warmth, energy and life, the Fire Nation has become fueled by greed and rage. Firebending in itself is not totally devoted to unleashing the power of fire on one's enemies. In actuality, the focus is placed upon balance. Firebending hinges on inner calm, discipline, and emotional and physical stability such as a firm balanced form, breath control and general good health. Firebenders are more powerful during the day than at night due to presence of the Sun. Firebenders lose their power to Bend during a solar eclipse.
Firebending moves are based mainly on the style of Northern Shaolin. Northern Shaolin Kung Fu features quick, successive and flamboyant attacks, making firebending the most aggressive of the four bending arts. Breath control is one of the first things taught to young Firebenders as without control of breathing, they are more prone to lose control of the fire that they are creating or manipulating, leading to disastrous results.
Airbenders learned their bending art from the Sky Bison who Airbend using their tail and mouth. Furthermore, they emulate the natural, arrow-shaped markings of the Flying Bison by tattooing themselves with similar designs. These light blue, full body tattoos symbolize a person's mastery of the Airbending discipline.
Airbending is based on the Ba Gua style of martial arts. Ba Gua is known for its constantly circular movements, which makes it difficult for opponents to attack directly. The practitioner uses his own momentum as a weapon, constantly building up inertia for explosive counterattacks that evoke the unpredictabile nature and explosive force of the wind. While being the most dynamic of the bending arts, the style lacks fatal finishing moves, being an almost entirely defensive art.
Airbenders have the ability to enhance their movements during battle. They can take giant leaps into the air, move at high speeds, run on water and vertical surfaces, glide on air currents to slow their descent and even spin around like a tornado to move quickly and confuse opponents. They can also create cushions of air to soften and blunt the falls of heavy objects. Airbenders can project powerful gusts of wind from their mouths.
Master Airbenders can create vortices to disorient and tornadoes to attack opponents. Airbenders are also capable of projecting solidified constructs of air to knock an opponent off balance or to provide defense from projectile weapons.
08-30-2008, 12:34 AM
Culture and Diet:
Ethnically homogeneous, members of both Water Tribes typically have light or deep brown hair, blue eyes and light brown/tan skintone. Water Tribe clothing is typically a set of blue anorak and trousers lined and trimmed with white fur, and worn with mittens and mukluks. Men may wear their hair long and half-up or in short ponytails also known as "warrior's wolf tails". Women plait and braid their hair in various styles, sometimes with accent beads, and many sport "hair loops" in various styles. In the Northern Water Tribe, males tend to wear darker shades of blue than those of the Southern Water Tribe. Skins from seals are often used to create tents and pelts from polar bears and other animals are used as clothing and to cover barren surfaces.
In the Water Tribe diet, fish and seal meat comprise the staple protein. Sea prunes are a favorite side dish, while giant crabs are considered a delicacy to those in the Northern Sea. Squid and seaweed can be used to make a wide variety of dishes including soups, seasoning, and even bread and cookies. Naturally, hunters and fishermen of the Water Tribes are some of the best in the world in their field.
Citizens of the Earth Kingdom tend to have black or brown hair, green, brown, or gray eyes and are often of richly tanned, though the complexions of the nobility are often much lighter.
Fashions in the Earth Kingdom vary greatly; in the West and South, men typically wear their hair in a topknot, ornamented with various holders and pins, and often have beards and/or mustaches or are shorn without facial hair. Women wear their hair down or done up in buns, rolls or folds atop their heads. In the city of Ba Sing Se, women usually wear their long hair wrapped around a support, ornamented with tassels or flowers; men usually don a queue or are clean shaven. Omashu citizens typically wear tunics over a long robe or pants, with their hair hidden by a small turban or hat. Farmers and other laborers typically wear conical straw hats secured to the head by string.
As a result of the generally rich and fertile soil of the Earth Kingdom, a great abundance and variety of vegetables are grown, while fruits and nut trees are equally plentiful. The wild game which thrives within the kingdom's many forests and domesticated animals raised by its farmers add meat and poultry to citizens' diets.
Members of the Fire Nation tend to have black or brown hair, amber/gold, brown, or gray eyes and pale skin, though exceptions are not uncommon. Older men tend to sport large beards, mustaches, and sideburns, while younger men are usually clean-shaven, or wear small mustaches and goatees. Women usually wear their hair back, though for special occasions it may be piled or folded atop their heads, or wrapped around a support. Female members of the aristocracy also tend to have long, pointed, well-manicured finger nails. Almost all citizens wear topknots, often held by a decorative band or ribbon indicating rank. Nobles and politicians tend to ornament their hair with a two pronged, flame-styled piece; the Fire Lord wears a gold, five-pronged flame. All citizens wear clothes that are in different shades of red, orange, yellow or pink and topknots in the color of red, yellow or orange, often with rings, the Fire Nation sign or a small flame.
The diet of its citizens consists primarily of fish, noodles, rice, cabbage, tea and lychee nuts. The people are also known for having a taste for foods of a spicier fare, as they enjoy unique recipes such as Fire Flakes, Fire Gummies, Sizzle Crisps, and Fire Cakes. The tea most commonly drunk in the Fire Nation is Spice Tea.
The Air Nomads wear yellow, orange, and brown clothing. Young Airbenders typically wear orange shawls over long-sleeved yellow shirts, an orange belt, yellow pants with brown on the back, and long boots that reach the knees. Older monks wear long robes in shades of yellow and orange. Most Air Nomads have gray or brown eyes and a light complexion.
Young boys to be trained as monks have shaven heads, while monk elders grow beards and mustaches. Female Airbenders do not fully shave their heads. It has been observed that when not shaven, Air Nomads have dark brown hair. Airbenders who have attained a level of mastery in the art will be marked with arrow tattoos, based on the arrows of the Sky Bison, the first Airbenders. For male Airbenders, a primary arrow tattoo is placed on their shaven head that extends down their back along with four others, one on each limb that terminates in an arrowhead at the hands or feet.
Air Nomads are very fond of farming, gardening and cultivation and are known to be vegetarians. All of the food to support the citizens of an Air Temple are produced by the monks themselves, leaving little harmful impact upon the surrounding environment.
09-03-2008, 03:23 PM
Ostrich Horses are brown, bipedal, bird-like creatures approximately seven to eight feet tall. They have three toes on each foot, two facing forward and one facing backward. They have wide flat tails and short, stubby wings that are incapable of flight. Their heads and necks are equine but their mouths are avian. Ostrich Horses can jump several feet in the air and are capable of running up vertical surfaces for short distances thanks to their powerful legs. They can even do so when carrying soldiers in full armor. Ostrich Horses have been known to buck and kick their riders and nearby bystanders when startled or agitated.
The Ostrich Horse is an extremely useful animal and very prominent in the Earth Kingdom, especially for use by their military. Highly trained ostrich horses can even be equipped with armor and ridden in battle. Generally docile and easily domesticated, they are often used to pull wagons or carriages and to carry supplies, or employed on farms as workhorses.
10-15-2008, 01:47 PM
The Komodo Rhino is an animal from the Fire Nation, bred both as beasts of burden and for their meat. This enormous beast is covered in thick, gray skin, which serves as natural protection for its body. Three large, curved horns dominate its face, two curving down from its forehead and one curving upward from its snout. The rhino's mouth and jaw structure look somewhat reptilian, but the small ears on either side of its head are mammalian. Its torso resembles that of a rhinoceros, but ends in a long, dinosaur-like tail. The animal's feet are short, muscular, and clawed. The Fire Nation uses these rhinos in battle for cavalry. Because of their speed and stamina, komodo rhinos are often employed by Fire Nation scout forces.
The animals are also used for their meat and made into the traditional Fire Nation dish, komodo sausages. These spicy sausages are soaked in brine for several weeks and then stuffed with rice and a variety of spices. Because of their portability, they are frequently served at picnics and public festivities.
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