This week I ran the first session of our Pokemon: Rise and Fall campaign based on the world renowned Pokemon franchise and using my fan-made Pokemon AD homebrew TRPG system.
In doing so an amazing and frankly astonishing thing happened.
It worked. It worked really well.
Additionally, everyone liked it!
It is an unofficial tabletop roleplaying game work of fan appreciation.
This not a real Pokemon game product of any kind.
As noted by my good friend and player Ray, a big part of the reason this endeavor turned out so positively is that we put in the time and effort to make it the best it could be.
This was no slapdash effort, no half-baked idea rushed to the table too quickly. I put thought and feeling into it and I think it showed. Likewise, the Players created characters that fit perfectly into the setting and bought into the premise wholeheartedly resulting in a fun and memorable experience.
A Pokemon Reporter, a Pokemon Pilot, and a Pokemon Arranger
Our story opened, as does every episode of the Pokemon animated series, with a 'voice over' narration:
Narrator (GM): "Meet our heroes...Oh goodness!...two of them appear to be caught in a terrible snowstorm, high in the air, buffeted by wind and with limited visibility! This doesn't look at all safe! Not only that but they're running late..."
We immediately focus in on a dinged up seaplane struggling against blizzard conditions as it tries to find its target destination on the ground below. Young Pokemon Pilot Rina Mare (played by Will) grips the plane's throttle, reassuring her passengers that everything is under control.
Behind her, Curtis 'Curt' Matthiessen (played by Nick), Pokemon Investigative Reporter, and his pal Pyrrel, a Fire Type Pokemon, shake, rattle, and roll but maintain the highest level of optimism. Ice on the wings, temperatures dropping further, and the wind wiping up faster, put that optimism and Rina's determination to the test!
Narrator (GM): ...far below, at Makelit Pokemon Research Outpost 1, the third member of our intrepid group has already arrived. It seems there is something serious going on however and starting her Pokemon Journey may well be delayed."
Little Suzy Jansson (played by Ray), a Makelit Land local Pokemon 'Arranger' of some note, approached the Research Outpost only to find it surrounded by Police Officer, Rescue Workers, and a few Pokemon Rangers. Curious, Suzy looks for the person in charge of whatever this operation was and found Officer Jenny.
Officer Jenny recognized Suzy and was willing to fill her in on what was going on. It seemed someone hiking across the Kissed Nature Reserve (in the Nature's Kiss Section of Makelit) fell into a sinkhole created by the dangerous conditions of water logged ground and heavy ice and snow from the current storm. Suzy immediately offered her aid and after conversing with a Pokemon Ranger, Officer Jenny agreed to let her but first she needed to check in at the Outpost and get her first Pokemon.
"Once you have your Pokemon, meet me out here and we'll discuss how you can assist." Eager to help, Suzy ran into the Center as far as she could.
Up in the skies overhead, Rina makes a desperate bid to, well, not crash. She takes a deep breath and tries to recall what her father would do or had done in a similar situation. She suddenly killed the engine and leaned on the controls to dive into the wind. Her plan was to glide aggressively, to be carried along until the right moment wherein she kicked the engine back into gear. [Will rolled Rina's Fitness of 5 Dice, modified by her Drive of 2, and lastly added her Trainer Class Skill of Piloting 3 for a total of 3 Normal Dice and 5 Exploding Dice. The result of 6 Successes and I gave her a Story Point for Will's portrayal of the character and reference to her father - a big part of her backstory].
As Curt and Pyrrel came really close to questioning their faith in the pilot, the plane roared to life and shot like a thunderbolt (see what I did there?) directly over the Pokemon Research Outpost and much further than intended. Aiming for a snowy clearing, Rina landed the aircraft mostly intact. A quick roll mitigated some of the damage by the plane suffered an overheated engine, a few loose maneuvering fins, and an empty fuel tank. Rina was glad to be alive and happy to have saved her paying client but was now in need of some more cash pronto.
Curt's investigate instincts drew his gaze back towards the Center and the lights of the various law enforcement and emergency vehicles. Instantly energized, Matthiessen directed Pyrrel and Rina to follow him back to the Center ASAP! Before he could grab his bags, Rina picked them and started walking in the direction he indicated. Curt and Pyrrel exchanged glances, impressed by this athletic and really headstrong pilot.
Inside the Outpost, Suzy sees Professor Grayleaf talking to three boys, one of whom was none other than her own rival, the trouble-making, undisciplined Alvi Linnaeus. Why was he here? Wasn't he on his own Pokemon Journey? As it turned out, Alvi was there for an 'upgrade' to one of his Pokemon. Suzy had no time to bother with Alvi and his foolishness. She spoke to Professor Grayleaf who was kind but clearly frazzled. The Police and Rangers had been using her Outpost as a Command Post and getting her advice about nearby Pokemon.
The Professor directed Suzy to the Starter Pokemon currently resting in their Pokeballs. The three choices were a Pyrrel, an Ugling, and a...huh? A Trolip? "This shouldn't be here", said Grayleaf absentmindedly. "Trolip's are rare! This should be a..."
Before Grayleaf finished, Suzy politely pointed out that she was in a hurry, had promised to help with the rescue effort, and Officer Jenny was waiting for her outside. The Professor placed the Trolip's Pokeball back down on the table and was then distracted by one of her assistants. Without really looking, Suzy grabbed one of the Pokeballs and left. Alvi called after her, "Wait! She chose the...!"
Walking back into the snowy and blistery air, Suzy notices Officer Jenny and the Pokemon Ranger now speaking to the young reporter Curt and the pilot, Rina. The Ranger indicated in passing that there was a reward for helping with the rescue but before he could go into detail Rina volunteered without needing another word. Considering the situation to be both worthwhile and great material for a story, Curt signed up to assist as well.
Realizing she didn't have a Pokemon of her own yet, Rina exclaimed as much as ran for the Outpost, running right past Suzy like a blur. Barreling down the entry hallway Rina notes two handsome fellows walking toward the door too late for her to stop. She recognized one as her business rival, the smoother than smooth Neilsen Piers, and she refused to crash into him. Instead she turned, realizing too late that would send her right into Cyrus Swift, a rival reporter of Curt's currently trying to cover this sinkhole incident. WHAM! [I offered Will a Story Point to have Rina and Cyrus knocked on their keisters, dropping stuff and being embarrassed. Will added that Rina would blush and get mad about running into a good-looking guy her age - a very Anime reaction. I gave her one more. Romantic complication subplot with another PC's Rival? YES PLEASE!].
Pokemon Sailor, Pokemon Reporter, and a Pokemon Battle Trainer!
Thoroughly flustered and desperate to get back to Officer Jenny, Rina - like Suzy - ran up to the table and reached for a Pokeball without looking. Professor Grayleaf recognized Rina as the Professor had worked with her father in the past but the young Pilot had no time for pleasantries. As fast and politely as possible, Rina greeted Grayleaf and then returned to the rest of the group outside.
Once all the PCs were together, Officer Jenny let them know the time to move was now! Word from the site was things weren't getting better and indeed were likely to get worse due to the blizzard. Everyone was instructed to pile into Officer Jenny 'Range Rover' style car and they did so. While they were on route, the group introduced themselves and then Officer Jenny gave them the details of the situation...
To be continued,