Thursday, December 29, 2022

The Pokemon Trainer Afraid of Asking is Ashamed of Learning

Before I go on to explain the last two elements of the Character Sheet, I want to talk about a change to one of my previous rules. That's right, this is a work in progress and when something can be improved I am more than willing to improve it.

One of my players for this campaign noted that left over Story Points from each session becoming Game Points, especially XP to improve your character, might not be the best way to go. It could result in players hoarding Story Points and not using them as is the intention so they can spend them later on for upgrades. Also, if some players do this and others don't it may result in very uneven character progression. I concur, although I can't see any of these guys doing this I am putting on the internet for anyone to use and yeah, some gamers are going to abuse this.

Instead, I am going to go with what my friends and I call 'Milestone Improvement'.

"Take loses and wins with the same attitude as they are both part of life."
-Danish Proverb

Player Characters still begin every session with a single, 1, Story Point. There is no change to how it is obtained or spent (more on that in a later post). The difference is that at the end of each session, all unspent Story Points are lost (so use'em!). 

In order to improve your character, your PC must reach some sort of Milestone; the character must achieve or best an objective or goal set by the Player themselves and/or the GM. For each Milestone successfully reached, the PC receives either: 

  • A New Trainer Move
  • A Skill Die or a New Skill
  • An Additional Personal Attribute Die
  • An Additional Trainer Attribute Die*
  • An Increase to your Trainer Class Skill*

* I am not sure if Exploding Dice shouldn't cost more. Two Milestones? Bigger Milestones? Hmm. Some of the Milestones would be the culmination of short term goals or the completion of single 'adventure'. Completing a story arc, a series of related adventures that ends in a big reveal and/or a major boss battle, should be a more of a major milestone. It's like finishing a Game Level in a Pokemon Video Game (before moving on to a new section of the Region).

I also recommend, if at all possible, that the upgrade to the PC be related to either the skills and abilities they used or to the Milestone they reached. At least remotely. 

Example: Ben, a Pokemon Rider, has the long term goal of proving to his father that Pokemon Riding is a worthwhile career. At present, he and his friends are trying to rescue Professor Grayleaf, who has been buried under the snow of an avalanche! His companion Nina calls on her Diglett (Regional Variant!) and has it use Dig to the Professor. Once they do, their other friend William commands his Vulpix to use Blaze to thaw Prof. Grayleaf out! Still, she is in very bad shape and the nearest doctor is a good distance away over difficult terrain now covered in several feet of ice and snow.

Ben releases his Stantler (Regional Variant), his companions help him tie the injured Professor Grayleaf to him, and then he uses his Trainer Class Skill Riding to get the Professor to the medical attention she needs. The brave and clever rescue is all over the local news, which quickly spreads across the Alfmork Region. Ben receives a call from his father who says he is very impressed with Ben's Riding ability. Furthermore, while he's still not sold on Riding as a career, Ben's dad is extremely proud of him.

Ben gets a two upgrades, one for the Rescue and one for getting closer to his father's acceptance of Pokemon Riding. Ben's player can spend one to improve the PC's Fitness and another to add a new Trainer Move. He could also spend both to add a die to Ben's Riding Skill. 

This is the general gist of the idea. As with other elements of the game it may need a little tweaking but I'm pretty happy with it. Like some other factors, a more concrete list of which Milestones result in what upgrades or how many might need to be made but for now this is a good enough system to allow me to press on and complete the Character Creation process.

Thanks for listening and see you soon,

Barking Alien


  1. I think this is a good call. If you want the players to spend Story Points, it's better not to reward hoarding them.

  2. I'm not big on Pokemon but you're on the right track here with your points. Several RPGs from TSR Marvel to Shadowrun to Savage Worlds all hit this same bump - if your in-game manipulation points are also your XP you get weird effects like that. Most of them ended up splitting this into two different categories and it seems to work just fine.