Imagine our world but with people capable of bending elements (yes, as "Avatar, the leyend of Aang")

I was thinking about what could you do in that situation. If you bend fire, work at a blast furnace? Earth to construction?

What kinds of jobs would be replaced by elementalists because is cheaper or easier than regular human beings?


closed as primarily opinion-based by Aify, Brythan, Hohmannfan, TrEs-2b, Vincent Aug 9 '16 at 0:56

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  • $\begingroup$ Go watch Legend of Korra. It's the version of Avatar that takes place in an industrialized world with benders (Same universe as the anime you've quoted in your question). $\endgroup$ – Aify Aug 8 '16 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ Saw it. But in our world was my question $\endgroup$ – lois6b Aug 8 '16 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ This should explain more about how elementalists work so that people don't have to go consume some story in order to understand. And even without that, this seems rather broad. A fire elementalist would be able to do different things from a water elementalist. $\endgroup$ – Brythan Aug 8 '16 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ They could do a lot of things. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Aug 9 '16 at 0:56

This the craftsman versus mass production argument. Unfortunately it almost always falls against the craftsman (elementalist).

They would be very useful in extreme situations such as combat or disaster relief but less useful in day to day life. They may have a good place in rapid prototyping or building trades where having a craftsman is still useful and many tasks are still done by hand. If you're happy to see your Earthbender as basement digger extraordinaire then perhaps that is the place for him, but ultimately that is still a job for a monkey with a shovel not a trained craftsman.

Stick to disaster relief where a firebender can burn through an avalanche, a waterbender divert a flood, an earthbender excavate people from the rubble of an earthquake or an airbender unwind a tornado.

  • $\begingroup$ i didnt think of disasters :O but firebenders are great firefighters! $\endgroup$ – lois6b Aug 8 '16 at 8:46
  • $\begingroup$ @lois6b, I'd take any or all on a firefighting job, they each have a way to deal with it $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 8 '16 at 8:51
  • $\begingroup$ well yeah, but its easy to extinguish it by bending it than to "fighting" like waterbenders. earthbender i guess can put earth or sand to stop the oxygen consumption but you would damage the place where the fire takes place. and the airbender the same, also dangerous if people are trapped in a room on fire $\endgroup$ – lois6b Aug 8 '16 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ @lois6b if an airbender has solid enough control, they could always momentarily evacuate the air from around the fire, barring the fire from oxygen so it dissipates. Or hold the air around the fire perfectly still for a few seconds so the fire uses all its available oxygen (probably less destructive than a momentary vacuum force. $\endgroup$ – Delioth Aug 8 '16 at 15:24

Separatrix's line about craftsmanship vs mass production inspired me:

Open the world's first barbecue restaurant without barbecue grills. If you have more elementalists, you can even start a chain. It's not necessary cheaper or easier, but it'll be unique and that's valuable. Here, we're in a case where mass production doesn't apply and it's all about craftsmanship.

I would have suggested to call it Earth, Meat & Fire but I've decided I couldn't in good conscience not use that for my own universe.


4 Scenarios for 4 different levels of controll:

  1. Rough Controll (Half-meter acuracy and less): The Elementalists are Competing with classical equipment (water pumps, flame throwers, excavators). They'd probably only outperform technology in areas where little to no standartisation is possible (agriculture in extreme terrain, disaster controll...).
  2. Fine-Controll (Centimeter Range): Hiring an Elementalist can possible become a valid alternative to buying machinery. Elementalist strive in situations where specialized machinery is too expensive, compared to buying the same labour as a service.
  3. Very Fine Controll (Below-Millimeter Range): Interesting jobs open up to Elementalists. Elementalist still strive in situations where technical equipment would need to be very specialised. Possible applications of water, and firebending become interesting for medical fields. Earth-bending becomes interesting for Technological applications.
  4. Ludicrous Controll (Really, really, really accurate): Elementalists dominate the material sciences. Cooperating earth and fire benders create new meta-materials at astounding rates. Water benders create the first working fusion reactor by bending water into deuterium. By manipulating surgical instruments made from volcanic glass, earth benders perform internal surgery.

Bonus Scenario: The Collective of Air-Elementalists announces, that it's cooperative effort to "bend" an Atmosphere onto the moon and keep it there, by working in shifts, have been an success. Moon colonization is expected to start beginning next Autumn.

Conclusion: Elementalists are horribly outperformed, when trying to replace existing technology. They only become valuable when working in jobs, that would otherwise not be possible. Considering that they have what amounts to telecinesis, that shouldn't be that hard to find.

  • $\begingroup$ very well explained and also detailed :D $\endgroup$ – lois6b Aug 8 '16 at 15:02

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