Pop Culture Builds 3: Uncle Iroh (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
Fire is often thought of as the most volatile and destructive elements, suited to violence and rage. However, even such an energetic element works best from a position of understanding and wisdom.
Former crown prince of the fire nation, a retired general, and uncle of Prince Zuko, Iroh rejected the violence and lack of enlightenment shared by the majority of his people, particularly his family. Studying the version of fire bending taught by the sun tribe, as well as various other bending techniques, he sought to understand all four elements and their role in the world, all the while seeking to aid those in need and negate the evils of his brother somewhat from within.
Thanks to his understanding and wisdom, Iroh was arguably one of the mightiest firebenders of the age, and in theory might have been able to defeat his evil brother if Aang the Avatar did not. Regardless, he was one of the most instrumental mentors that Aang and Zuko ever had, lending them both his wisdom.
Though human on the show, the real important thing to remember is that Iroh is definitely in the elderly age category.
The class I would recommend for his build is the very poster child of benders in pathfinder: the kineticist, specifically a pyrokineticist with a minor in air to grant lightning as an element. Iroh would definitely focus on fire, however, taking many techniques to help shape and control both his flame and lightning, diversifying into those that blend elements from other sources, such as defense, which is rarely seen in most fire benders in the avatar setting. He should definitely take the fan of flames at least, demonstrating Iroh’s signature flaming breath attack, though torrent and explosion are also good. Overall the build should consist of a mix of blasting and control, picking utility talents based on manipulating flame.
Iroh is also an excellent hand to hand combatant, so in addition to feats playing off his ranged attacks, also consider adding Improved Unarmed Strike and other appropriate feats.
The wise old man doesn’t carry much in the way of equipment, relying on his powers in combat. However, I imagine that a wise old kindly man such as himself would favor a tea set, various books useful for referencing information, and the like.
Of course, there are a few other ways to build Iroh, such as going for a more authentic bender experience by taking the elemental purist archetype, to make for a kineticist that can only ever bend one element. Though this does mean he loses out on lightning, it could easily be replaced by plasma, and the ability to take any wild talent regardless of prerequisites does emulate learning from other styles quite nicely. Alternately, a less spectacular build might be a pyromancer mage, or a monk focused on fiery elemental fists.
If you’re interested in an older, more experienced kineticist, you could easily strip the lore away and have a great stand-alone build!