Saturday, December 31, 2022

Many Small Moves Make A Pokemon Master!

This post was written yesterday, December 31, 2022 but I got so tired while editing it my eyes went blurry. I have posted it as such, the final post of last year, mostly for aesthetics and OCD reasons understand by no one other my own subconscious. It was completed on January 1, 2023.

Thanks for putting up with my weirdness.

These Mechanics were largely inspired by the Mobile Games
Pokemon Masters and Pokemon Masters EX.

Back to Pokemon AD and the conclusion of Character Creation!

One of the things a Game Designer learns during the process of creating an RPG system is how many pages it takes to explain rules, even if those rules are relatively simple. Here we have a fairly rules light game and this is the fourth entry on just creating a Player Character! Technically the fifth post if you include my rule change regarding PC improvement. Gah!


On the final day of 2022, New Year's Eve, we reach the last key section of the Character Creation process - Trainer Moves and Inventory:

Trainer Moves are similar to Feats and Talents in other games. They shake up the situation with effects that allow the PCs (and Major NPCs) to benefit themselves, their Pokemon, their allies, and their allies' Pokemon. In some cases Trainer Moves can hinder your opponents or an opponents' Pokemon. 

There are a lot of Trainer Moves and the purpose of this entry isn't to list them all (though I probably will soon so don't worry) but rather to explain how they work. I will of course describe a few of them by way of example. 

Trainer Moves consist of:

  • The name of the Move
  • The number of times it could be used in a Battle/Scene and the Story Point Cost.
  • The Target - Self, Pokemon, Ally, Allied Pokemon, Opponent. Opposing Pokemon
  • The Type of Move - Attack, Defense, Enhance, Heal, and Hinder.
  • Description - What the Move does and how it works. 

When a PC has an available Action and they want to execute a Trainer Move, the PC spends the required number of Story Points and states which Move they are using. The Move then happens, its effects changing the situation the PC is in, be it a Battle, a Contest, or some other situation in which they and their Pokemon are working together towards a shared goal. 

Most Trainer Moves require 1 Story Point to be spent and can only be used once in a Battle or Scene. There are some powerful Moves that require more than 1 Story Point to activate. Others can be used twice in a single Battle or Scene with the cost of only a single Story Point.

Furthermore, most Trainer Moves are Instant, occurring immediately and lasting only as long as the Target's current or next Action (as noted under the Move's details). Others can last from the moment they are initiated until the end of the Battle or Scene. Check the Trainer Moves' Description for information on duration but the general rule is they happen on your Action and then they're over. 

The Target is pretty self-explanatory. Trainer Moves always have a Target. They must directly effect someone or several someones - a person, a Pokemon, a group of people, or a group of Pokemon. The more Targets a Trainer Move effects the more likely it is that the Move will have a higher Story Point cost or great specifics on how, when, and how often it can be used.

The Type is mostly a way of tracking the various Trainer Moves but it also helps the players and GM know the purpose of the Move. Attacks and Defenses are generally used in combat and to counter the opposing Move of another. A Heal is similar but it's important to know that a Heal Trainer Move is what it is and not the use of a Healing Potion or a Heal Return, as those use different rules. Enhances buff or improve allies and allied Pokemon, both yours and others. Hinders are debuffs that weaken an opponent or an opponent's Pokemon and make them less effective. 

Description gives you the the ins and outs associated with each Trainer Move and what happens when it's used. As Trainer Moves are all about boosting things, weakening others, and changing the rules (by the rules of course), the magic is very much in these details.

Note that a number of Trainer Moves operates with very specific conditions that must be met in order to use the ability. These are noted where appropriate or under the Move's Description. 

Example: Surge of Power only works on your own Electric Type Pokemon, so under Target it would say 'Pokemon (Electric Type)'. Clear Your Mind heals Stress from an ally (but not yourself) but requires the Trainer be Psychic. The Target would read 'Ally'. Under Number of Uses/Cost it would say '[Psychic] 1/1'.  

Format-wise if there is a word in brackets [  ] after a number or piece of text it refers to something connected to a PC ability. If there is a word in parenthesis ( ) it refers to something related to a Pokemon . Often Pokemon Types will be identified with Type Symbols (see next Pokemon AD post for more details).

These are the basics and as I noted above, I'll be putting out a list of Trainer Moves very soon and probably give additional information on them as needed.

Inventory is a collection of gear that you carry on your person. It is usually kept in a 'Bag', the video game series' catchall name for a backpack, small duffle bag, sack, or even a briefcase used to store everything you need. You are free to design what your Bag looks like but all starting PokeBags are capable of holding the same Inventory. You receive the basic Pokemon Trainer Bag for free at the start of your journey. 

The world of Pokemon has a slightly unusual relationship with Time/Space and Mass, as evidenced by the fact that living creatures can be transformed into energy patterns that are then stored in balls about the size of Human fist. These very same spheres than shrink to roughly the size of a ping pong ball or golfball to be stored. Later, you can release the creature from the Pokeball with no harm to it at all (in fact, it might even be healed of earlier damage but we'll talk about that another time). 

Likewise, a Pokemon Trainer can keep items in their PokeBags that might not seem to fit, such a Med Kit, a Fishing Rod, and even a Bicycle. It's not about the weight or mass of the object - well, not exactly about that - but rather how many slots of available Inventory Space you have and how much each item occupies.

Each Item you wish to carry takes up 1 or more Inventory Slots and your PokeBag begins with 9 Slots. Most Items are 1 Slot-to-1 Item such as PokeScope Binoculars, a Pokedex, Rope, A Notebook (though Pens, Pencils, Post-Its, and other such things are included in the Notebook Slot), a Medical Kit (1 week of Medical Supplies), and Food Packs (1 week of Food, three meals a day plus snacks for 5 days). 

Items that take up more than one Slot would be a Portable Lab (2 Slots), Film Equipment (2), a Bicycle (2), or an Inflatable Raft (with two collapsible oars) (2). Larger Items would have to be discussed with the GM. 

In some cases multiple versions of the same Items can be held in one Slot. A single Inventory Slot can hold 5 Potions.

One slot can hold 10 Pokeballs, with or without Pokemon in them, but there is a catch. Six of these are considered 'Active', as Pokemon League law states that a Trainer may only keep six Active Pokemon on them at any time. These six can also be worn on your PC's belt, leaving room for extra empty Pokeballs in your Inventory. 

Your four remaining Pokemon are in a deeper storage slot - sometimes called 'The Box' - that is not easily accessible. In order to access your Box, you would need to stop and exchange one or more of your Stored Pokemon for your Active ones. Once switched, you must still end up with six Active and four Stored.

Example: Grete, a Pokemon Fisherwoman, has 6 Active Pokemon, three on her belt and three on her hat, along with a selection of lures. Generally these are there to help her with particularly tough Fish Pokemon or scare off local Pokemon Predators or Scavengers trying to steal her catch. In Grete's PokeBag, which resembles a Tackle Box, she has six empty Pokeballs and four Stored Pokemon. 

One day while fishing for the hard to locate Relicanth, Grete accidentally catches a Sharpedo who is none too happy to be on her line. During the fierce battle that immediately ensued between the Shark Pokemon and Grete's Yamper and Dragonair, Grete reached for an empty Pokemon in her Inventory and once weakened, she caught the ornery Sharpedo! 

But now...hmmm...she placed the Pokeball with Sharpedo on her belt alongside those containing Yamper and Dragonair. She now has too many Active Pokemon and decides to place her old friend Wartortle, usually the third on her belt, into Storage. She's relied on him a lot in past months and it might be a good idea to give him a break. 

Grete ends the encounter with six Active Pokemon (one of which is Sharpedo), five empty Pokeballs, and five Stored Pokemon. 

Your Money, also called Pokemon Dollars or Pokedollars, is also a part of your Inventory but takes up no Slot. It is stored in a separate compartment or perhaps in a wallet in your pocket or a side pouch of the PokeBag. 

OK, at this point the game needs lists of things like the above - Trainer Moves and Items - before one can truly finish creating a Character but I think there is enough to at least have a working concept. You could certainly put a PC together sufficient to run a Session Zero or Prologue type scenario. 

More to come with Pokemon AD and Rise and Fall as well as a lot of other things. I choose you! come back and check it out. Heh.

Barking Alien

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