Chi exists in all things. It is the vital life energy that runs through the body, the spirits, the world. It is the manipulation of chi that gives way to bending. The four nations and their people are connected to the four elements, allowing select individuals to harness their chi to manipulate the elements. But the elements are not the only thing that can be manipulated, some have unlocked the ability to read and bend energy itself, whether they know it or not. Bending can be used in many and varied ways, regardless of how it is being used, bending follows the rules here.

What is Bending?

Bending is the manipulation of the chi in and around oneself to create a desired effect. In order to bend, a person must be in tune with the energy of the thing they are bending, and the energy inside their own body. Finding harmony between the two allows one to harness that energy and use it to create magnificent effects. Bending is as much about feeling the energy as it is knowing how to use it.

There are many ways to utilize your bending both inside and outside of combat. Some use their bending to heal, some use it to feel, some use it to protect, and some use it to destroy. Between their class and their experiences, your character will have developed their own unique bending style by the end of their journey.

Countless bending techniques have been discovered throughout history, many of which have been lost, forgotten, or hidden. Powerful techniques hide in ancient scrolls, the minds of masters, and the ways of the original benders, quietly awaiting the student worthy of unlocking their secrets. Meanwhile, there are always benders on the cutting edge, powerful and clever benders who invent new bending techniques, pushing the ever-expanding limits of possibility.

Bending Techniques

A bending technique is an expenditure of chi intended to produce a desired effect. For example, fire fist is a basic firebending technique whereby a firebender releases energy from the end of an outstretched arm, emitting a blast of fire as the extension of a punch. Bending techniques are divided into two main categories: elemental bending and energybending.

Elemental bending techniques can only be learned by characters able to bend that element, most typically benders from that elemental nation. Consequently, a waterbender would not be able to learn an airbending technique. Most elemental bending techniques are combat techniques where the user makes use of a physical motion (often mimicking the movement of the element) to move the element, producing a desired effect. Thus, an elemental bending technique can be learned with an introduction to the technique and practice.

Energybending techniques are more complex bending techniques that involve the intentional manipulation of energy itself. They require more specific, learned knowledge or an intuitive, insightful understanding of the workings of bodily and/or spiritual energy, and so they are learned as a character levels up in a class. Thus, energybending techniques are class specific and can only be learned by characters who have access to them through their class technique list.

Energybending, similar to elemental bending, is further divided into four types of energybending: chibending, maneuvers, spiritbending, and bestowals. Some classes, like the fighter, can only learn maneuvers, and some classes or subclasses specialize in certain types of energybending techniques like the mystic with spiritbending.

Class and elemental bending technique lists can be found at the start of chapter 11. Take a look and find the techniques that best suit your character’s playstyle, but know that your character can also learn techniques organically through the course of game, and consider allowing them to learn some techniques along the way. Doing so will only make the fruit of their labor that much sweeter when they finally learn that technique through their own hard work and dedication. If you think up a technique that isn’t on this list, work with your GM to create it!

Some techniques, like chi-blocking and lightning bending, can only be performed by extensive training, or special ability, so those techniques are only accessible to those who take the feat (described in chapter 6) to unlock the desired technique list. These feats are available to characters of any class, but some have certain elemental bending requirements. Once you have taken the feat, you gain access to the new style’s technique list, and can choose techniques from it as you level up or learn them organically through your adventures.

Bending Level

Every technique has a level from 0 to 9. A technique’s level is a general indicator of how powerful it is, from the ability to cause an elemental wave at 1st level, to the ability to bend the laws of space and time at 9th level. Basics are techniques that are so fundamental to the bending style that they feel like second nature to a bender. These techniques cost no energy and are effectively level 0. The higher a technique’s level, the higher level a bender must be to perform the technique.

Technique level and character level don’t correspond directly. Typically, a character has to be at least 17th level, not 9th level, to use a 9th-level technique.

Learning Techniques

In order to use a bending technique, a character must first learn the technique. There are two ways to learn techniques. Some characters learn techniques as they gain levels in their class. These techniques are learned with an intuitive understanding that allows them to be utilized immediately. Otherwise, characters can learn techniques organically, through their experiences and adventures. A new technique might come to a character through innovation, observation, inspiration, or study, but a new technique learned in these ways will require time and experience to master.

Most energybending techniques cannot be learned organically, as they require a more intuitive or in depth understanding of how the chi underpinning the technique produces the desired effect. Out of the four types of energybending techniques, only maneuvers can be learned organically (unless otherwise specified by a class ability). The only ways to learn chibending, bestowals, or spiritbending techniques outside of the ones granted by your class, are to be taught by a bending teacher who has mastered the technique, to be gifted the knowledge by a spirit, or to learn the technique from a bending scroll.

In any case, a character can only learn the techniques that appear on their elemental or class technique list. Thus, even the most studied sage, bending scroll in hand, cannot learn a technique that only appears on the prodigy technique list.

Mastery Points

Whenever your character comes across an elemental bending technique or maneuver that they are able to learn in the course of their adventure, you are allowed to add it to their list of known techniques; but before the character can use the technique with consistency, they will need to master it. A character can attempt to use techniques before they’ve mastered them, but there’s a chance that it will fail or have unintended consequences. Techniques granted to a character by their class are mastered at the time they’re learned. All others start with 0 mastery points when you add them to your technique list.

Mastering a technique requires experience, time, practice, and attention. The higher a technique’s level, the longer it will take to master. Each technique requires the character to earn a number of mastery points equal to 20 + the technique’s level in order to master it. Once a character has earned enough mastery points to master a technique, they’ll be able to perform it without fail.

Using techniques that have not been mastered could have inconsistent, unpredictable, or even dangerous results. When a character attempts to use a bending technique that they have yet to master, they have to make a Bending check, adding their proficiency bonus, and a potential modifier at the GM’s discretion. The DC for this check equals the number of mastery points required to master the technique minus the number of mastery points the character has earned with the technique. For example, if a firebender wants to use the fireball technique but has only earned 4 mastery points toward the technique so far, they would have to succeed on a DC 19 Bending check to successfully perform the technique. Fireball requires 23 mastery points to master, since it is a level 3 technique, and the character has 4 mastery points, which brings the DC to 19. On a successful Bending check, a character performs the technique successfully. On a failed check, the technique fails or goes awry, as determined by the GM.

Mastery points can be earned by studying, training, practicing, or trying a technique. Spending time performing any of these activities can earn a character mastery points, which count toward the mastery of the technique they are focusing on. If the GM sees fit, spending time earning mastery points can also earn a character experience toward their level advancement. The following activities are ways a character can earn mastery points:

  • Spending at least an hour trying to successfully perform, or “figure out” techniques can earn you mastery points.
  • Spending at least an hour reading, thinking, or examining the technique, its form or function, can earn you mastery points.
  • Spending at least an hour doing exercises, progressions, or routines pertaining to your bending style can earn you mastery points.
  • Spending at least an hour meditating can earn you mastery points.
  • Watching somebody else perform a bending technique can help you learn to do the bending technique yourself, earning you mastery points.
  • Attempting a technique in combat (not sparring) can earn you mastery points, with points more often being awarded for successful attempts.
  • Putting your bending to the test against an opponent, especially a more skilled opponent can earn you mastery points.

How a character prefers to earn mastery points depends on their class and personality. Some classes gain more mastery points in certain ways than others. Regardless of how a character learns best, they will always learn more quickly under the tutelage of a teacher or master.

Keep in mind that over-training has diminishing returns and if your GM determines that you are training too often, you may find that your character hits a plateau and is unable to gain mastery points for a time.

Sea of Chi

Regardless of how many bending techniques a character knows, they only have so much energy to expend on bending before they need to rest. It takes both physical and mental strength to move even a pebble, not to mention a mountain. Each character has a pool of chi, the size of which is determined by their class. Each time they perform a technique, they tap into that chi, and expend an amount equal to the bending level of the technique. Once a character’s well runs dry, they will be limited to the basics. A character cannot perform a technique for which they do not have enough chi.

Finishing a long rest restores expended chi (see chapter 8 for the rules on resting).

Using a technique at a Higher Level

Some bending techniques have more powerful effects if a character expends more energy to use them at a higher level. For instance, the technique earthwave deals 2d8 damage at 1st level, and an additional 1d8 for each level above 1st. These effects are detailed in the technique’s description.


The basics are the most fundamental techniques of bending. They are the first thing a bender learns, and serve as the core of a bender’s style. They are the foundation upon which all other bending is built. Mastery of the basics is crucial to understanding and unlocking the potential of your bending.

Learning a new basic requires you to earn 20 mastery points, focusing repetition and attention to form. Until mastered, the DC for performing a basic successfully is equal to 20 minus the number of mastery points earned with the technique.

The basics are so rudimentary that they can be performed at will, without expending any energy. Repeated practice has fixed the technique in the bender’s mind, such that they can produce the effect over and over. A basic technique’s level is 0.


Your bending stance is your fundamental position for bending. In your stance you are ready to attack, defend, and move with ease. A proper stance allows you to use your body to generate power, maintain focus and balance, and deal with incoming attacks. Many bending techniques require you to be in your stance to perform them; when this is the case, the technique will be marked with an (S) in the requirement entry of the technique description.

Entering your stance costs an amount of movement equal to half your speed. For example, if your speed is 30 feet, you must spend 15 feet of movement to enter your stance. You can’t enter your stance if you don’t have enough movement left or if your speed is 0. Every foot of movement while in your stance costs 1 extra foot. Movement in your stance in difficult terrain therefore costs 3 feet of movement. You can leave your stance at any time without using any movement.

Some techniques and abilities have the potential to knock a character out of their stance, limiting their ability to bend, and lowering their defense. This can turn out to be a powerful tactical advantage in an otherwise equal fight.


Certain techniques have a special tag: meditation. Such techniques can be used following the normal rules for bending or performed as a meditation. The meditation version of a technique takes 10 minutes longer to perform than normal. It also doesn’t expend any chi, which means the meditation version of a technique can’t be used at a higher level.

To use a technique as a meditation, a bender must have a feature that grants them the ability to do so. The mystic and the sage, for example, have such a feature. The bender must also have mastered the technique unless the character’s meditation feature specifies otherwise.

Using Bending

When a character uses any technique, the same basic rules are followed, regardless of the character’s class or the technique’s effects.

Each technique description in chapter 11 begins with a block of information, including the technique’s name, level, type, execution time, range, components, and duration. The rest of a technique entry describes the technique’s effect.

Execution Time

Most techniques require a single action to perform, but some techniques take a different amount of time, such as an attack, a bonus action, a reaction, or longer.


Some techniques require only a single attack to perform. This means that if a character can make multiple attacks using the Attack action, you can use this technique in place of those attacks. If a technique requires two or more attacks to perform, you must expend two attacks to perform the technique, which can happen on the same or subsequent turns.

Features, abilities, and maneuvers that modify or require you to make an attack can be used in tandem with basic techniques with an execution time of 1 attack. If a basic technique’s execution time is more than 1 attack, it cannot serve as the attack for a maneuver or other attack-based ability, even if it requires an attack roll.

Bonus Action

A technique that takes a bonus action to execute is especially swift. You must use a bonus action on your turn to use the technique, provided that you haven’t already taken a bonus action this turn. You can’t use another technique during the same turn, except for a basic technique with an execution time of 1 action.


Some techniques can be executed as reactions. These techniques take a fraction of a second to do and are used in response to some event. If a technique can be used as a reaction, the technique description tells you exactly when you can do so.

Longer Execution Times

Certain techniques require more time to perform: minutes or even hours. When you use a technique with a casting time longer than a single action or reaction, you must spend your action each turn using that technique, and you must maintain your concentration while you do so (see “Concentration” below). If your concentration is broken, the technique fails, but you don’t expend any chi. If you want to try the technique again, your execution time starts over.


The target of a technique must be within the technique’s range. For a technique like air slash, the target is a creature or object. For a technique like fireball, the target is the point in space where the ball of fire erupts.

Most techniques have ranges expressed in feet. Some techniques can target only a creature (including you) that you touch. Other techniques, such as the shield of faith technique, affect only you. These techniques have a range of self.

Techniques that create cones or lines of effect that originate from you also have a range of self, indicating that the origin point of the technique’s effect must be you (see “Areas of Effect” later in this chapter).

Once a technique is used, its effects aren’t limited by its range, unless the technique’s description says otherwise.


A technique’s requirements are the necessary aspects a character must have, use, or do in order to perform a technique. Each technique’s description indicates if it has any of the following requirements: focus (F), stance (S), verbal (V), physical (P), or material (M). If you can’t provide one or more of a technique’s requirements, you are unable to perform the technique.

Focus (F)

Techniques that require you to manipulate energy outside of yourself or reach out to the spirits to tap into their energy require you to use a focus. A focus is an item that help you to hone your energetic awareness, allowing you to attune your energy with the object of your technique and have it bend to your will. You must have your bending focus on your person to perform techniques with this requirement.

Stance (S)

Certain elemental bending techniques require the stability and balance of a bending stance. The specifics of bending stance mechanics are outlined earlier in this chapter. If a technique has this requirement, a character must be in their bending stance to perform the technique.

Verbal (V)

Some techniques require you to speak their power into existence or call to the spirits for power. The words themselves aren’t the source of power, but the energetic or spiritual response to the words has the power to set things in motion. Thus, a character who is gagged or silenced, as perhaps by the soundbending technique silence, can’t use a technique with a verbal requirement.

Physical (P)

Many techniques require some form of movement or gesture, converting chi into motion in order to perform the technique. If a technique has a physical requirement, the user must be able to complete the motion required to perform the technique. Some techniques require the free use of a certain body part, in which case the specific somatic requirement is described in parentheses in the requirement entry of the technique description.

Material (M)

Some techniques require some amount of a material to perform, especially water and earthbending techniques. If this is the case, the type and amount of material required is specified in parentheses in the requirement entry of the technique’s description.

If a technique states that a material component is consumed by the technique, the user must provide this component for each use of the technique.

The user must have a hand free to access these components, but it can be the same hand that they use to fulfill the somatic requirement.


A technique’s duration is the length of time the technique persists. A duration can be expressed in rounds, minutes, hours, or even years. Some techniques specify that their effects last until the effect of the technique is stopped or destroyed.


Many techniques are instantaneous. The technique harms, heals, creates, or alters a creature or an object in a way that can’t be countered, because it happens so quickly.


Some techniques require you maintain concentration in order to keep the going. If you lose concentration, the technique ends.

If a technique must be maintained with concentration, that fact appears in its Duration entry, and the technique specifies how long you can concentrate on it. You can end concentration at any time (no action required).

Normal activity, such as moving and attacking, doesn’t interfere with concentration. The following factors can break concentration:

  • Using another technique that requires concentration. You lose concentration on a technique if you use another technique that requires concentration. You can’t concentrate on two techniques at once.
  • Taking damage. Whenever you take damage while you are concentrating on a technique, you must make a Constitution saving throw to maintain your concentration. The DC equals 10 or half the damage you take, whichever number is higher. If you take damage from multiple sources, such as an arrow and a dragon’s breath, you make a separate saving throw for each source of damage.
  • Being incapacitated or killed. You lose concentration on a technique if you are incapacitated or if you die.

The DM might also decide that certain environmental phenomena, such as a wave crashing over you while you’re on a storm-tossed whip require you to succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw to maintain concentration on a technique.


A typical technique requires you to pick one or more targets to be affected by the technique. A technique’s description tells you whether the technique targets creatures, objects, or a point of origin for an area of effect (described below).

Unless a technique has a perceptible effect, a creature might not know it was targeted by a technique at all. An effect like blazing fire is obvious, but a more subtle effect, such as an attempt to read a creature’s thoughts typically goes unnoticed, unless a technique says otherwise.

A Clear Path to the Target

To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can’t be behind total cover.

If you place an area of effect at a point that you can’t see and an obstruction, such as a wall, is between you and that point, the point of origin comes into being on the near side of that obstruction.

Targeting Yourself

If a technique targets a creature of your choice, you can choose yourself, unless the creature must be hostile or specifically a creature other than you. If you are in the area of effect of a technique you use, you can target yourself.

Areas of Effect

Moves such as burning hands and cone of cold cover an area, allowing them to affect multiple creatures at once.

A technique’s description specifies its area of effect, which typically has one of five different shapes: cone, cube, cylinder, line, or sphere. Every area of effect has a point of origin, a location from which the technique’s energy erupts. The rules for each shape specify how you position its point of origin. Typically, a point of origin is a point in space, but some techniques have an area whose origin is a creature or an object.

A technique’s effect expands in straight lines from the point of origin. If no unblocked straight line extends from the point of origin to a location within the area of effect, that location isn’t included in the technique’s area. To block one of these imaginary lines, an obstruction must provide total cover, as explained in chapter 9.


A cone extends in a direction you choose from its point of origin. A cone’s width at a given point along its length is equal to that point’s distance from the point of origin. A cone’s area of effect specifies its maximum length.

A cone’s point of origin is not included in the cone’s area of effect, unless you decide otherwise.


You select a cube’s point of origin, which lies anywhere on a face of the cubic effect. The cube’s size is expressed as the length of each side.

A cube’s point of origin is not included in the cube’s area of effect, unless you decide otherwise.


A cylinder’s point of origin is the center of a circle of a particular radius, as given in the technique description. The circle must either be on the ground or at the height of the technique effect. The energy in a cylinder expands in straight lines from the point of origin to the perimeter of the circle, forming the base of the cylinder. The technique’s effect then shoots up from the base or down from the top., to a distance equal to the height of the cylinder.

A cylinder’s point of origin is included in the cylinder’s area of effect.


A line extends from its point of origin in a straight path up to its length and covers an area defined by its width. A line’s point of origin is not included in the line’s area of effect, unless you decide otherwise.


You select a sphere’s point of origin, and the sphere extends outward from that point. The sphere’s size is expressed as a radius in feet that extends from the point. A sphere’s point of origin is included in the sphere’s area of effect.

Saving Throws

Many techniques specify that a target can make a saving throw to avoid some or all of a technique’s effects. The technique specifies the ability that the target uses for the save and what happens on a success or failure.

The DC to resist one of your techniques equals 8 + your bending ability modifier + your proficiency bonus + any special modifiers.

Attack Rolls

Some techniques require the user to make an attack roll to determine whether the technique effect hits the intended target. Your attack bonus with a technique attack equals your bending ability modifier + your proficiency bonus.

Most techniques that require attack rolls involve ranged attacks. Remember that you have disadvantage on ranged attack rolls if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature that can see you and that isn’t incapacitated (see chapter 9).

Combining Effects

When it comes to techniques that have an effect on a character, the effects of different techniques add together while the durations of those techniques overlap; however, the effects of the same technique used multiple times don’t combine. Instead, the most potent effect - such as the highest bonus - from those usages applies while their durations overlap.

For example if two disciples use bless on the same target, that character gains the technique’s benefit only once; they don’t get to roll two bonus dice.
The physical effects, on the other hand, of bending techniques add together even if they are the same technique. For example, if two earthbenders use the technique hurl boulder at the same level, they are able to hurl a boulder twice the size and do two times the amount of damage they would do individually.

In order to determine whether or not a combined technique hits, both players make an attack roll, and you use the higher of the two rolls. If the technique requires the target to make a saving throw, it is contested by the DC of the character with the higher technique save DC.