Monday, February 13, 2017

Gotta Catch'em All!

I noted in my last post that I had one of my Gaming Epiphanies. 

That's one of those rare instances when an idea for a RPG campaign pops into my head whole cloth - all the elements needed to make for an excellent series of adventures comes to me complete, and fully formed.

The setting, stories, NPCs, creatures, items, and other aspects of the campaign are there, all there, waiting to be written down, drawn, and used.

As good, and well thought out as this concept is, I fear it is one I may never get to bring to the table.

I want to be the very best
Like no one ever was.
To catch them is my real test,
To train them is my cause...

I can't believe this is the first post I've made in the eight year long existence of this blog specifically discussing Pokemon.

This could easily have been a Thorough Thursdays entry.

I first discovered the world of Pokemon in 1998, when the animated series reached television in the United States. It wasn't the hugely successful Pokemon video game that sparked my interest, but rather the accidental discovery of the show when it popped up during random channel surfing with my girlfriend at the time/later wife/now ex-wife.

We didn't initially love the show, with its weirdly dubbed voices, and dialogue changes poorly describing things that were clearly Japanese. It seemed squarely aimed at kids. There was something about the Pokemon themselves though. They were visually interesting, they had character, and they provided a source of both action and humor.

You've got to have balls to catch Pokemon.
Pokeballs that is.


As time went on, the show got better and better, and we were hooked.

While I was working at a retail/wholesale store that dealt in Japanese Pop Culture, and Anime/Manga related products, I became regularly exposed to Pokemon merchandise. As the second and third generation Pokemon games came out, I was able to play them and found I enjoyed them very much. With each additional game, and TV season the property's popularity increased. This meant more product in our store, and I started a small collection of my favorite 'Pocket Monsters' in the form of figurines, coffee mugs, stationary, and other items.

I will travel, across the land,
Searching far and wide,
Teach Pokemon to understand
The power that's inside!

At some point in the year 2002, with the release of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, I had this idea for a Pokemon RPG campaign that came to me in the 'Gaming Epiphany' way I have described above. I planned to run it for my old New Jersey crew, to the point of having a pretty clear idea of who should play what (I told them all they could play whomever, or whatever they wanted, but I also told them the character types, and roles I saw in my head. They loved my choices). 

Unfortunately, it never got off the ground. One missed opportunity lead to another, to another, and while we got some great Star Trek, and Ghostbusters games out of the next few years, the group eventually had to disband (My wife, and I broke up, got divorced, another couple broke up, one friend moved really far away, and another was dealing with an ill parent). 

Now, more than 15 years later...the idea is back...

(Gotta Catch'em All!)
It's you and me,
I know it's our destiny!

With the recent release of Pokemon Sun and Moon, and the continued success of the phone app game Pokemon Go, my personal interest in the franchise has been renewed. Once reignited, my old ideas for a Pokemon RPG came whirling back to me, joined by a dozen new ones!

You're my best friend
In a world we must defend!

The big questions are how would I go about it, and will it ever see the light of day at the table?

Stay tuned,

Barking Alien


  1. Okay, so my own thoughts on the matter....

    I looked at, of all things, the Big Eyes, Small Mouth RPG version of Dominion Tank Police as the skeleton for a Pokemon campaign, with the ethos that the pokemon were effectively vehicles for the trainers. After all the trainer is basically determining the pokemon's actions in combat. DTP had rules for custom building vehicles: size, speed, armor, strength, and weaponry that could be customized.

    Work in some sort of rules mechanic that could reflect both the trainer's knowledge/skill level (which could influence how well trained the pokemon was in using their powers), their mental acuity/reflexes (how quickly the trainer could respond to situations), and their rapport with their pokemon (how long the pokemon would hold out in a fight), and Bob's your uncle, as they say.

    1. I get what you're saying, but it doesn't feel right to me.

      If you,were trying to duplicate the style of play of the early video games, sure. To run a campaign though, your model would have to closer to the animated series.

      In the anime, the Pokemon aren't just animal shaped weapons. They're characters in their own right. It would be more akin to a skill based, non-powered superhero having a super powered sidekick.

      For that reason, I like the Pokemon to seem a tad more independent. I also like the idea of switching from trainer to Pokemon during battles, which I'll discuss more in an upcoming post.

  2. BESM did have the Cute and Fuzzy Seizure Monsters book - I assume it would have some ideas on how to manage a campaign even if you didn't use the exact game mechanics.

    As far as players: college kids. They were the right age when the thing was a big deal in the late 90's / early 2000's. and even some HS kids that have been into the recent DS games are your candidates. Maybe put up a note at a local Gamestop or more independent video game store?

  3. It's been done, check pokerole, it's pretty good

    1. It is indeed, and it's very likely the system I would use, with a few modifications of course.

      The point isn't whether, or not it's been done, but rather can I pull it off with a group of players I can assemble.