Campaign of the Month: November 2011
Avatar: Conquest of the Imperial Order
Sports and Games
ports and Games in the World of Avatar
There are a large number of sports and games in the World of Avatar to entertain its people. These range from the physically demanding Airbending sports and the excitement and dangers of Ice Dodging to games like Pai Sho, which challenges the mind.
Many games of a particular nation incorporate that nation’s native bending element into the game. For example, Airbending is utilized for Airball, and Firebending for Kuai Ball.
Airball is an elevated ball game, the aim of which is to have your team get a ball into a goal. The goal looks like a circle, and spins when hit. You do this by either jumping from one pole to the next until you have a good shot at the goal, or by airbending balls off the poles, causing it to ricochet and eventually enter the goal. It is greatly dependant on airbending, and if any of the players are non-airbenders, the game becomes extremely tricky and turns into a sided game with scores like 7 for an airbender and 0 for a non-airbender in just a few minutes.
Bison Polo is believed to be a variation of regular polo, with players riding their Flying Bison instead of a horse.
Penguin Sledding is a pastime activity where one sleds down hills of snow on the back of an Otter-Penguin.
Ice Dodging is a rite of passage for young men in the Southern Water Tribe. When a young boy reaches the age of 14 his father takes him along with two friends, and lets them steer a boat through a series of icebergs that are difficult to maneuver through. If the trio manages to steer through, they will be awarded a mark. The mark with a crescent moon is the mark of the brave. The mark with a curved line and a dot underneath is the mark of the wise. The mark of the trusted is a curved mark.
Earth Soccer is a game played just like soccer, but with Earthbending to guide and move the ball. Earth Soccer, being a somewhat gritty sport, is commonly played in the Outer Ring (lower class) of Ba Sing Se.
Elephant Koi Riding
The Elephant Koi. These gigantic koi are very friendly and don’t mind taking on a passenger. Being able to hold your breath is a must, as is keeping an eye out for the Unagi, a monstrous-sized eel. If the koi gets eaten, it’s taking you down with it.
This underground Earthbending Tournament is literally held underground in a giant earthen arena in Gaoling City. The Earth Rumble competitions are similar to real world professional wrestling — extravagant fighters with unique names and skills fight each other in matches. The competition is a popular Earth Kingdom attraction, and the stands are always full except for the front rows, which are constantly demolished and pummeled from flying rocks.
Kuai Ball is a sport similar to volleyball, but played with the feet. It is usually played on the beach and very popular with the vacationers on Ember Island. A background in the martial arts is beneficial when playing this sport. There is a game played in Korea similar to Kuai ball.
In the World of Avatar, there are some types of gambling seen in The Runaway: The Shell Game, the first game played by Toph when she earned lots of money using Earthbending, by seeing where the rock was and preventing the dealer from removing it; The “Dice” Game, played with types of die, in which Toph uses Earthbending to make sure the dice land with the proper combinations, and the Force Game, which consists of a hammer hitting a base that indicates the strength with which the player hit it.
Pai Sho is a two-player strategy game, bearing resemblance to both Chinese chess and checkers. .
The name of this game is never given, but it bears a great resemblance to Rock, Paper, Scissors, except that it uses the four elements. As shown by Aang and Sokka’s game, Earth beats Fire, Fire beats Air, Water beats Fire, and Air beats Earth.
It is very likely that each hand symbols is made by one of the typical moves of the Bending Arts like the clenched fist, which is a frequent Earthbending movement. The hand position for Fire, however, seems to represent the element itself, more. It is also shown in the episode “The Storm” during a flashback of Aang’s, that two of the air nomads are playing this game and in a tie, both hold out their hands perpendicular to the ground. This seems to be air, since they are airbenders and would favor this element, and because this is a common airbending tornado technique.
This game seems similar to solitaire. The cards are the size of hanafuda cards. On each of the card faces is one of the element bending symbols: Airbending, Waterbending, Firebending, or Earthbending, and in the upper right corner is a different element symbol. The game is played by Iroh in the The Boy in the Iceberg and by Katara and Sokka in Lake Laogai; it can be played by one or two people. The setup of the cards is similar to the 40-card kabufuda deck, which have four suits of 10 cards each, numbered 1 through 10.
The yoga is a type of exercise and a natural therapy used for meditation, relaxation and medical benefits like stress reduction; it has many types of positions and respiration techniques.
Agni Kai is the name for fire duels fought by Firebenders. Some, but not all, Agni Kai duels are fought to the death. The outcome affects the honor of both opponents. The duels are a popular method of resolving conflicts and are a source of entertainment for all spectators. The royal palace of the Imperial Order even houses a special Agni Kai chamber.
The goal of these duels is to knock an opponent off-balance, then incapacitate them (fatally or otherwise) with a final blow. The preferred finishing move is generally a direct fire blast to the face.
Any Firebender may participate; male or female can be challenged. The Emperor can also be challenged, but that rarely happens, because most are among the most powerful Firebenders in the world.
If one person has a dispute with another person, he or she may challenge the other person to an Agni Kai. If the challenge is accepted, the two combatants move to either an official dueling area or whatever open area is available, such as a parade ground or plaza. The ceremonial opening begins with the two combatants opposite each other with their backs turned. The combatants stand, face each other, shed their shoulder garment and begin the duel as soon as the gong sounds. In a proper fire duel, both combatants fight with a bare torso. The Agni Kai is over when either party is incapable of continuing, whether by exhaustion, incapacitation, or death.
Philosophy and Culture
The Agni Kai is an ancient Firebending tradition. Fire duels have been fought for hundreds of years. However, such a duel is a grave matter, meant to be a last resort when all else fails or is insufficient to settle a dispute. When it comes to an Agni Kai, the duel apparently has some legal or at least “semi-legal” power, as the feud ends with the duel and the victor automatically also wins the feud, regardless of whether his opponent is still alive or not. Challenging people to an Agni Kai without sufficient reason is considered capricious, and it is possible the challenge may be voided by the authorities.