I have finally come up with my next big tabletop roleplaying game project for my mid-week group and honestly, I am REALLY excited about it.
During my time off from active gaming I had numerous conversations with friends and fellow gamers. While incredibly helpful for understanding what I and my players want out of a game, our discussions didn't lead me directly to a new campaign.
I realized I had to let the next idea come to me. The harder I searched, the more frustrated I became and the more difficult it got to find what I was looking for. While looking at some old, unused ideas I was suddenly struck by inspiration that lead me to consider an alternate version of one of these concepts.
Thoughts starting coming on like drops of water; at first a light drizzle, which became rain, followed by a deluge, and eventually I found myself gathering two of each animal and shopping for an ark.
Alright, preamble aside, here's what I am planning...
Pokemon: Rise and Fall is a campaign set in the Pokemon universe focused on the Alfmork Region, a locale of my own design resembling and inspired by Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands.
The Premise is that the Player Characters are on a Pokeman Journey, exploring and learning about the region as they pursue their own individual goals. Traveling together is not only more enjoyable but safer, as you may sometimes find yourself camping out or hiking through dangerous terrain or under harsh weather conditions. There are other dangers as well, from Villainous Organization to titular numerous monstrous creatures with superpowers.
Welcome to the fun-filled world of Pokemon!
Now on the surface this seems like a classic approach to this classic Video Game IP, very much in the spirit of the numerous games, Anime series, and Manga. Thing is, there are key elements that give this campaign its own distinct character.
First, you can play any sort of Pokemon Trainer except for a Battle Trainer. That's right, the PCs can be anything other than a Trainer who seeks to earn Badges and compete in Professional Pokemon League Battles.
What else is there? Stay tuned...
Second, like in Star Trek, Superheroes, and many other games/settings I enjoy, the PCs each have their own goal but share a common goal/interest that unites them in a life of adventure. Each character actively wants to explore and travel the Alfmork Region but they all do so for different reasons.
A major inspiration for this campaign, other than the Pokemon milieu itself, is Tintin, Franco-Belgian Comics, and the RPG Troubleshooters. I noticed similarities between Tintin and Ash/Satoshi while first developing the idea for this game. Both are young male protagonists who travel around the world getting into one adventure after another, often while trying to help someone or unraveling a mystery. The two lads encounter criminals, mad scientists, legendary artifacts, ancient myths, and other pulpy adventure story troupes.
Imagine a Pokemon Reporter investigating rumors of strife between members of the Alfmork Royal Family. How about a Pokemon Sailor who transports people and goods throughout the region. Maybe the Reporter hires the Sailor to take him around the land for his investigations. Maybe the two are old friends and the Sailor is willing to do it for free for help aboard his boat.
The third player could play a Pokemon Photographer hired to take pictures during the trip or a Pokemon Guide who helps the navigate when the group makes landfall.
Right now I don't know what the Players will be playing so I don't have my story ideas nailed down yet. I do have ideas for local events and characters throughout the region but I will add and customize the adventure possibilities once I know who is playing what.
Now the Map...
From Lower Right to Upper Left:
The Kingdom of Alfmork, the Faryore Isles, and Makelit Land
The Kingdom of Alfmork is ruled by Parliament presided over by a Statsminister but also has a Queen. The Queen is part of a Constitutional Monarchy and doesn't really govern but upholds the region's Cultural and Social Traditions and Identity. She is important to the character of Alfmork more than the daily running of it.
It is the most developed area of the Alfmork Region with a couple of cities, a few large towns, several small ones and many villages. There is industry, an airport, a number of harbors and docks, and a variety of Pokemon related facilities.
A number of smaller islands surround The Kingdom of Alfmork and some are homes of wealthy nobles, business people, and artists. One in the lower South has the ruin of a Castle said to be haunted.
Terrain and climate wise is it mostly grassy, forested, and hilly with large mountains in the North. The most distinctive area of the land is right before the Northern end, referred to as The Jut Land. This section has hills surrounding marshes and bogs in the East, flat land in the middle, and woods and Mountains in the West. It is rather cold in Winter and mild in Summer, with rainfall scattered evenly throughout the year.
The waters in and around The Kingdom of Alfmork were once the home of an aquatic Legendary Pokemon who helped establish the monarchy of the region and drove off cruel invaders. At least that is what the myths relay.
It is the focal point of Pokemon: Rise. More on that below.
Makelit Land (pronounced Make-a-let by the locals) is an primarily untamed place of widely varying terrain and many Pokemon unique to the Alfmork Region. It consists of the country's largest mountains in the North, including one that is covered with ice, snow, and frigid temperatures and another that is a dormant volcano, heating the surrounding land and hot springs.
There are settlements in the mid-section of Makelit but only a few, mainly living off fishing, herding, mining, and lumber. There are beautiful lakes in this part of the region, as well as stunning flowering plants. The exact center is an area of sea that supposedly harbors an assortment of Water Type Pokemon found nowhere else!
The icy mountain in the far North is believed to be the home of a savage and terrible Legendary Rock-Type Pokemon. The Southern parts include island ruins, forests, a large dry and rocky area, and a Viking Archaeological Site!
Weather is more varied here as well, though generally quite cold in the mid-to-Northern sections. Rain tapers off to snow and sleet more often than not. Summers in the South are quite pleasant though.
This is the focal point of Pokemon: Fall.
In the waters between The Kingdom of Alfmork and Makelit Land we have the mysterious Faryore Isles (pronounced Far-yore). These islands are the home to peoples and Pokemon who live by traditions that date back to some of the oldest recorded history in the world. A great many stories from these islands consist of both true accounts and folklore and it can be difficult to tell fact from fiction in the Faryore Isles. It is likely most tales contain a bit of both.
The air is swept by icy winds and the ocean currents bring colder waters than you'd expect, so travel to and from these islands is treacherous. Their surface features are just as tricky to transverse. Much of the region is mountainous or hilly with breathtaking though hazardous fjords. What seems to be a shallow bay can drop off very quickly to deadly depths. Powerful Pokemon are found throughout the isles. It is recommended one goes with an experience and familiar guide and all who wish to explore the area proceed with caution.
The Faryore Isles are shared between the two Versions of the game.
What's this about Versions you ask?
Every major Pokemon game to have been released (the Generation series) comes in two versions, from the original Pokemon Red and Pokemon Green (Red and Blue in the United States) to the most recent game, Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.
The intention was to make it impossible to complete a collection of all available Pokemon in a game without trading Pokemon with a friend who had purchased a different version of the game from yours. In some of the games, the story is slightly different between the two games.
Years ago I had a dream wherein a friend and I purchased a Pokemon game where we each had one of the versions and there were far more differences between the two. Starting Pokemon were different, the final Legendary Pokemon weren't the same, there were two different Villain Organizations, and there were two separate plots that eventually crossed over into each other.
This is the idea I am embracing for this campaign. I will go into more details in an upcoming post but the basics are:
Pokemon: Rise begins in The Kingdom of Alfmork. It deals with the activities of Team Noble, a group of aristocratic Pokemon Trainers who all claim to be related to/descended from Alfmork's royal family or extended old world nobility. The campaign's through line deals with a Legendary Water Type Pokemon.
The Starter Pokemon are a Fire Type, a Flying Type, and a Water Type.
Pokemon: Fall players start in Makelit Land. The themes and plots in Fall are connected to Team Usurp, a group trying to banish the 'old ways', including the nobility, in favor of a more progressive future. Unfortunately, this seems to involve a disregard for the ecology and relationship between Humans, Pokemon, and the world they live in. The Legendary Rock Pokemon of Northern Makelit factors in somehow.
The Starter Pokemon here are the same Fire Type, the same Flying Type, and a Grass Type.
Now hold on...what if one Player chooses Rise and another chooses Fall?
Luckily I have three players so the majority choice decides the actual starting point but the Version you pick definitely effects the other elements of your play experience.
I have so much more to share on this subject but I'll leave you with this for now. I look forward to seeing where the Players take this and what unfolds from it all.
So jazzed. Until next time,
Skal fange dem alle!^
*Gotta Catch'em All! in Danish.