I always felt bad for Kineticist. She’s a one-joke character whose source material has only gotten further and further away. (Airbender was a 2005!? Damn I’m old.) That means her raison d’être has slowly receded into the distance with time, and our adorable aerokinesis expert has seemed less relevant with every passing month. Thanks to the recent Netflix acquisition though, our totally-not-Aang is back in the saddle!

If you’re anything like me, the first time you saw Airbender you immediately began drawing up campaign plans. For my group, question #1 was system. Maybe we could reskin Exalted and run it as a Dragon-Blooded game? Or what about dusting off Wushu to keep things nice and rules-lite? I mean, of course we could use Pathfinder and play as an all-kineticist party, but then we’d have to figure out how those mechanics actually work! My group was all on board for the idea, but it wound up going into the “next campaign” file anyway.

It’s crazy the way all those cool ideas wind up in the backlog. When an IP is in the public eye, the initial rush of enthusiasm is an unparalleled source of creative mojo. Take my own group for example. Guardians of the Galaxy was big when Starfinder came out, and I’m pretty sure that movie is the reason my group is still playing. But here’s the thing: Guardians happened to hit my group at the right time. It was around just as we came open for a new campaign. Some of our other cool ideas weren’t so lucky:

  • In the Court of the Marlin King — You’re all courtiers in an underwater kingdom vying for His Majesty’s favor. Lie, cheat, and backstab all the gillmen!
  • The Underdark Campaign — Everyone is drow. Try to become the #1 noble House in Menzoberranzan!
  • The Lunar Game, Part 3 — Remember when we used to play Exalted? Why don’t we go back and finish the storyline? Weren’t we about to invade the Blessed Isle?
  • West Marches — I’m tired of being the forever GM. Why don’t we do an episodic rotating-GM sort of thing in the West Marches style?
  • Quantum Knights — You can be anything from anywhere in the multiverse! Hillbilly sasquatch. Cyborg hoverbike racer. Whatever. It’s a dimension-hopping Savage Worlds campaign where you have to save all possible realities!

What does any of that have to do with Airbender? Well, every one of those ideas had its antecedent in pop culture. The courtly Marlin King game came up when Game of Thrones was taking off. So did the Underdark idea. Quantum Knights drew inspiration from Sliders, Quantum Leap, and Dr. Who. The Lunar Game and West Marches both came up thanks to different gaming releases that were making waves at the time. Unfortunately, with the passage of time and the changing zeitgeist, these things slowly dropped off the radar.

It makes me wonder if I’m the only one dealing with this problem. What about the rest of you guys? Do you ever find yourselves caught up in campaign-planning frenzy when the next hot thing drops, only to watch enthusiasm slowly peter away? What does your own backlog of never-played-campaigns look like? Tell us all about your favorite campaign ideas (and the things that inspired them) down in the comments!


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