Monday, December 19, 2022

The Pokemon Trainer's New Clothes

Continuing to expand upon my new campaign idea, Pokemon: Rise and Fall, let's take a look at Player Characters, how they are created, and how they fit into the game as a whole.

We'll start with a look at the Character Sheet for Pokemon AD, my homebrew system for running Pokemon inspired by Pokerole (a fan made Pokemon RPG project) and Troubleshooters

As with most TRPGs, we begin with things like the Character's Name, their Hometown and/or Region of origin, their Gender, Age (this ones important - see below), Height, Weight, the Current Region the campaign is taking place in and then we move on to the Attributes.

Pokemon AD is a Die Pool system utilizing my favorite die, the humble D6. A Player Character has Personal Attributes: Cool, Fitness, Heart, Knowledge, and Wits and Trainer Attributes: Connection, Drive, Experience, Insight, and Talent. 

When you create a PC, first consider how old the character is in a range from 10 to 20 years of age. This will effect where you can place your dice as noted below. You may then divide up 15 dice between your Personal Attributes and 5 Dice among your Trainer Attributes. Personal Attributes must be a minimum of 1 and not more than 5. At least a 2 is recommended. Trainer Attributes are a different matter and may begin at 0 but can be no more than 3. Furthermore, if your character is under 14, your Experience can only be 1 at best but you may raise your Connection or Talent to as much as 4! The kid's a natural! If you are playing a character who is 20 you may have an Experience of 4. 

When trying to perform a task, use a skill, or going into battle, the Player rolls the number of dice allocated to the appropriate Personal Attribute and attempts to get a 5 or 6. Under Pokemon Battle conditions this can change and I will go into more detail on that in another post.

If the Player feels one of their Trainer Attributes applies to the situation their in, they may switch out a number of Personal Attribute dice for the different color, size, or appearance dice equal to the Trainer Attribute being used. These dice Explode, with a roll of a 6 on that dice allowing you to roll it again until you do not get a 6. 

Example: Dawn, a Pokemon Coordinator, is trying to impress the judges at a Pokemon Rhythmic Gymnastics Competition. It addition to the routine itself, she sews matching costumes for herself and her Pokemon. She also picks out what she thinks is the perfect music. 

Dawn has a Cool of 3 and a Talent of 1. She rolls three dice, one of which can Explode. Her rolls are 2, 4, and 6! The 6 is not only a Success but it Explodes so she rolls that die again and gets a 5. A 5 is a Success as well but only 6s Explode so she starts the competition with Two Successes before she and her Pokemon even begin their routine. Pretty good but is it enough to give her an edge over her rival Zoey?

I plan to begin the campaign with a Tutorial Stage; a session designed to introduce players to the game and its concepts. After the first session is complete, the players and GM will discuss who did what, how well, what might need adjusting, etc. In addition to the GM (me) awarding Story Points to the players (explained later), each Player may recommend up to 2 Personal Dice and 1 Trainer Die be awarded to another player.

Example: At the end of the Tutorial Stage it turns out that Dave's PC used his Pokemon for battles more than anyone else and indeed more than he expected to. He didn't see his character as great at that but in play he really enjoyed the Pokemon Battle aspect. The other players agree and the consensus is that Dave should add 1 Die of Fitness and 1 Die of Heart to his character. Additionally, they suggest he put a Trainer Die on either Drive or Talent. Dave thinks Drive makes more sense as, again, neither he nor his PC saw the character as a particularly talented Pokemon Trainer. Turns out he makes up for it in raw courage and determination. 

I'm going to skip ahead a bit to an idea I really want to discuss and I will cover some of the other parts of PC Creation in another post. Right now, I wanna talk Trainer Classes.

A key element of Player Characters in a Pokemon game and perhaps THE element that will make this campaign special is in the concept of Trainer Classes. Throughout the various Pokemon games, animated series, and comics, we see a wide array of different kinds of Pokemon Trainers. Many of these differ from our protagonists in that they aren't Trainers using their Pokemon specifically for battling other Pokemon, competing with other Trainers for Badges, and trying to reach for the coveted title of Pokemon Master. 

No, there are virtually limitless types of Trainers working with their Pokemon to perform everyday jobs, exciting non-combat professions, and even some with strange abilities or technology. The latter are rare but add a really interesting element to the Pokemon universe, implying there is more fantastical components to it than just the Pokemon themselves.

In some ways the situation reminds me of My Hero Academia or to a lesser extent the expanded universe of Star Wars. Nearly everyone in the world of MHA has a superpower but that doesn't make them all Superheroes or Supervillains. Not every Jedi travels the galaxy fighting evil-doers. Some, like Jocasta Nu, are the keepers of knowledge stored in the Jedi Archives. Likewise, the vast majority of people living and working in the Pokemon world care for and work with Pokemon but they aren't all  competitive Battle Trainers.

In Pokemon: Rise and Fall, players choose a Pokemon Trainer Class for their character that is unrelated to competitive Pokemon battling. This gives them special Class-related Trainer Moves and Skills separate from some basic ones all Trainers have access to. 

Possible Trainer Classes include:

Artist (Illustrator, Painter)
Celebrity (Influencer/Streamer)
Chef (or Baker)
Detective (Private Eye)
Explorer (Similar to Camper and Hiker in the games)
Medic (Similar to Doctor and Nurse in the games)
Performer (Clown, Dancer, Juggler, etc.)
Photographer (or Cameraperson)
Reporter (Investigative Reporter)
Thief (Lupin III style)
Writer (Novelist or Poet)

These are by no means all the types of Pokemon Trainers there are and indeed it was hard to keep the list down to twenty-five. I could have easily kept going. Suffice to say, when thinking of a Trainer Class for your PC, keep in mind that you'll want to portray a character who has a reason to travel around the game region (in this case the Alfmork Region) adventuring and teaming up with others. 

Pokemon Trainer Classes
Pokemon Diamond and Pearl

A note on two of the Trainer Classes I listed:

*Athlete in this instance refers to a cross-discipline practitioner such as a triathlete or decathlete. Someone who may be training for the Pokemon World Olympics for example. 

**A Pokemon Ranger is a very specific type of Trainer that I was initially reluctant to include as a PC option. They are generally very skilled, use a very different means of working with Pokemon, and are often on special missions for the Pokemon League and probably couldn't just go wherever they wanted. 

That said, Pokemon Ranger is listed in many sources as a Trainer Class. In addition, I figure a Ranger's mission in the Alfmork Region could align with the goals of other Trainers and so they decide to work together. This gives the Ranger allies in lieu of other Rangers and puts those who help them on good standing with the World Pokemon League. 

OK, this post is already running a little long so I may just finish up here for now. I shall return soon with details on Skills, Trainer Moves, Inventory, and the other parts that make up a PC before moving on to the Pokemon themselves.

Whew! Later,

Barking Alien 

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