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View Full Version : Pokemon Tabletop Adventures: Any good? Pros, Cons?



DiscipleofBob
2012-07-19, 10:57 AM
The concept definitely intrigues me. I already have players IRL who would be interested in such a game.

But I'm concerned that the actual game itself might have its own flaws.

I tried playing in a PbP game here, but it didn't get very far. From that and reading, I have a few concerns.


From how I'm reading this, it seems like it's not only possible but in some cases preferable to have a level 50 Pokemon with a stat that hasn't increased since 1st level. Is this true, and why is it this way? It seems ridiculous.
Battles seem a little too much Rocket Tag for Pokemon. The damage seems to be scales way up. In the game I was in, my Charmander missed once and then got one-shotted by a Tackle, no crit. That also seems ridiculous.
Maybe it's just because I got poor luck, but the defensive stats increasing miss chance just seems tacked on and easily broken.
Is it just me or are there way too many trainer classes, including things like elemental benders?
This is probably obvious but it seems like a game of this requires a crap ton of bookkeeping.


Mind you, this isn't a critique, because I don't have enough experience with this system to give one. These are just some things I inferred from reading through the rules and one battle.

If I were to try to run a game of Pokemon, should I use this system? Are there any houserules I should use or things I should ban? Are there any pitfalls I should watch out for?

The Dark Fiddler
2012-07-19, 11:24 AM
I've heard that the game is less rocket tag at higher levels, but I've never played the game before, so this is hearsay.

Tal_Akaan
2012-07-19, 12:03 PM
The concept definitely intrigues me. I already have players IRL who would be interested in such a game.

But I'm concerned that the actual game itself might have its own flaws.

I tried playing in a PbP game here, but it didn't get very far. From that and reading, I have a few concerns.


From how I'm reading this, it seems like it's not only possible but in some cases preferable to have a level 50 Pokemon with a stat that hasn't increased since 1st level. Is this true, and why is it this way? It seems ridiculous.
Battles seem a little too much Rocket Tag for Pokemon. The damage seems to be scales way up. In the game I was in, my Charmander missed once and then got one-shotted by a Tackle, no crit. That also seems ridiculous.
Maybe it's just because I got poor luck, but the defensive stats increasing miss chance just seems tacked on and easily broken.
Is it just me or are there way too many trainer classes, including things like elemental benders?
This is probably obvious but it seems like a game of this requires a crap ton of bookkeeping.


Mind you, this isn't a critique, because I don't have enough experience with this system to give one. These are just some things I inferred from reading through the rules and one battle.

If I were to try to run a game of Pokemon, should I use this system? Are there any houserules I should use or things I should ban? Are there any pitfalls I should watch out for?

From my experience with the game all of your points are right on.

For me the pokemon battling played out too much like the video game, only I had to do the math. I believe the players handbook mentions that ďif youíre looking for a table top version of the video game, then this ISNíT the game for you,Ē and I would agree with that as far are the story you can tell, but for the actual game play and mechanics itís just too much like the video game.

As for the trainer classes, yes there are just WAY too many.

Iíd say itís worth giving a shot though, there were people that I played with that absolutely love the way the plays. Itís something you need to decide for yourself. In the end if you donít like it, but still have the urge to play a Pokemon RPG, just do what Iím doing. Iím working on a Savage Worlds conversion and it seems to be coming along quite nicely.

And yes it is a crap ton of bookkeeping, but when youíre running your character, plus up to 6 others thereís gonna be a lot of paperwork to deal with.

CrosisBlackwing
2012-07-19, 12:27 PM
I've played a whole bunch of PtA over the past few months and I have to agree with much of your points.

It is preferable to level up only one stat so that you are able to maintain your specific niche. For example, a Wizard is not going to spend Level up points in Constitution because although it is helpful, it is not his main goal. In PtA, you either focus on an attack Stat, a Defense Stat, or HP. With the ease of changing to any pokemon you want, having the ability to have a dedicated special Defender, a Dedicated Physical Defender, and both sides of the offense all at the same time, there isn't much reason *not* to specialize.

The game very much is Rocket Tag, even at low levels. You end up with Pokemon Atk or SpAtk in the Twenties by level 15, and 3*Base HP+1 per Level is not enough to provide a buffer. Consider a Base 6 HP (Decently high for Level 15) That is 33 HP (6*3=18+15 Levels) an EoT move such as Fire Fang Deals D12+16 or average 22.5. Adding that to our 20 Atk (Lowish) we end up dealing 42.5 damage. Enough to one shot this guy with a 9 defense. You end up playing this game of extremes.

The defensive miss boosting *is* dumb. Nobody likes missing with their attacks, least of all when the game introduces an inherent 5% miss chance. In DnD, missing is built into the system, but when you play Pokemon, you expect your 100% accurate moves to hit. (Unless they actually use a move to Boost Evasion)

I agree, the number of trainer classes is excessive. One of the main premises of the game that I disagree with is the focus on trainer classes. It has been explained to me (By the games creators) that they choose to focus on making the trainers the prime focus of the world. I think that since it is a *Pokemon* game, then the Pokemon should be the focus. I understand the need for interesting abilities for the Trainers, but it seems to me they went to far to encourage the trainer participation. (Such as creating the Trainer classes that fight, as well as encouraging weapon use.)

The actual bookkeeping isn't too much of a hassle. My group and I use Microsoft Excel for this so we have a little sheet for all of the Stats and such and it makes it easy to move the 'mons around and keep track of things.


Overall, I dislike the system because of its design faults. My group has defaulted to some houserules that we feel make it better, such as scaling the move damage more in line with the normal power. (Compare Bite to Fire Fang, a 5 power move increase causes a 10 damage power increase.) Another change we made was to increase the potency of STAB to 50% of the base moves damage dice. We felt that you were encouraged to use EoT and Super Effective moves over what would be the statistically better choice because of the overinflated stats. For example, when I was running around with one of my pokemon, I would alternate between headbutt and Fire fang, completely ignoring Bite, which would be a better move against anything not weak to Fire Fang.

We also increased HP to being 5*Base HP as well as gaining 2 HP ever even level, and 3 every odd level. This helped make the battles less swingy either way, and took a focus off of how much base HP your pokemon had. (For example, take a look at Digglett. base 1 Hp. Under the normal system, he has 3+his Level hp. That means he is basically unusable in any sort of dungeon crawl as he *will* get one shot by almost anything.) In addition to this, we have all of the pokemons stats (except HP) gain 1 point every level divisible by 5. You also lose the normal level up point then. This helps to make sure that a high level pokemon actually is better than the low level.

Some other observations. DM planning is really difficult, especially with more than two players. As soon as the PCs gain control over 4-6 different pokemon you have to deal with them bringing to bear the exactly right type for the situation. Expect electric types to be met with their ground types and so on. It is really a hassle to try and wear them down as well because of the ease of them to destroy your challenges. I would try and remove any trainer class that can mimic attacks as well as any weapons from your game. You reduce the number of possible battlers in every situation, which not only speeds up combat but also lets you ignore having to deal with attacking trainers. (Pokemon combat is Poke vs. Poke. It should stay that way.) In addition, a Mixed Attacking pokemon is exceedingly difficult to use past about level 20. You end up trying to split your points to both attacks, and it doesn't really work out for either.

DiscipleofBob
2012-07-19, 01:17 PM
All right, good stuff...

As for trainer classes, one of my potential players suggested ditching the trainer classes entirely, especially since they operate off different stats than the Pokemon, making combat this cross-system mess.

I had the idea of keeping at least the concept of trainer classes, but ditching most stats, and simply letting players "earn" various trainer titles from the game, and maybe getting new abilities in the process. Ex. Becoming a Bug Catcher would give you a bonus using Bug Pokemon, or you could become a Doctor/Nurse and get access to a usable Heal skill, stuff like that.

My friend also suggested something different for the Pokemon stats that would take way too much effort than I'm willing to put in: looking up the ACTUAL base stats of each Pokemon by level and going off of that.

Absol197
2012-07-19, 02:32 PM
My friend also suggested something different for the Pokemon stats that would take way too much effort than I'm willing to put in: looking up the ACTUAL base stats of each Pokemon by level and going off of that.

Actually, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what the creators of P:TTA did, they just used smaller numbers.

I've actually been working on a version of pokemon, as well. It's based on 4e D&D. I don't really like the system for most games, but I think it could do the pokemon world quite well.

DiscipleofBob
2012-07-19, 02:51 PM
Actually, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what the creators of P:TTA did, they just used smaller numbers.

I've actually been working on a version of pokemon, as well. It's based on 4e D&D. I don't really like the system for most games, but I think it could do the pokemon world quite well.

I mean each base stat by level, not just having the level 1 stats and being able to increase them basically as you choose.

BShammie
2012-07-19, 07:24 PM
I mean each base stat by level, not just having the level 1 stats and being able to increase them basically as you choose.

I'm pretty sure Pokemon don't have base stats per level.
If I remember right the stat boosts each level are random, but you can improve the chances of a specific stat raising by fighting certain kinds of Pokemon. (http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Effort_values)

By the way, what your asking for wouldn't allow for variation in the stats of Pokemon that share a species, aside from the changes caused by personality and items.

Gorgondantess
2012-07-19, 11:03 PM
It's a wonderful, flawless system, one of the best out there, and you should play it as much as possible.
Speaking of which, I'm recruiting for a PbP PTA game right now! (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=13585651)
Shameless jokes aside, I'll be the first to admit that it's a very flawed game. Still far from unplayable, though:

From how I'm reading this, it seems like it's not only possible but in some cases preferable to have a level 50 Pokemon with a stat that hasn't increased since 1st level. Is this true, and why is it this way? It seems ridiculous.
Sure- why ever increase an Alakazam's Attack stat? Granted, it's not a perfect system, but it'd be hard to do something better without massive amounts of effort/making it far more complex than it needs to be.

Battles seem a little too much Rocket Tag for Pokemon. The damage seems to be scales way up. In the game I was in, my Charmander missed once and then got one-shotted by a Tackle, no crit. That also seems ridiculous.
At level 1-5: yes.
If you use TMs/Egg/Tutor moves to give pokemon very high powered moves at a very low level: yes.
If the pokemon at the receiving end has never increased its HP or applicable defense stat: yes.
Otherwise, it works fine- indeed, I've noticed that sometimes battles have a tendency of dragging on too long! And do note that the video games themselves can be rather rocket tag-y when you're using high powered pokemon.

Maybe it's just because I got poor luck, but the defensive stats increasing miss chance just seems tacked on and easily broken.
Yeah, I'll give you that one. Do note that that evasion increase is capped, though.

Is it just me or are there way too many trainer classes, including things like elemental benders?
This is a problem... how?:smallconfused:

This is probably obvious but it seems like a game of this requires a crap ton of bookkeeping.
I've never had problems with it myself.

I'll reiterate: I've been running a PbP game here on the forums for over a year now. While it is certainly flawed, game mechanics have never caused any real problems. It could certainly use some house ruling, yes, but it really is functional as is.

Vknight
2012-07-19, 11:39 PM
I got to go with Gorgondantess, the only really problem I have is making Gym Leaders(as NPC's) until they made the updated rules that let any class be a Gym Leader.
Yeah I remember a Plusle and Minum tag battle against a Eevee and Machop that went on for 10+ rounds

DiscipleofBob
2012-07-20, 12:16 PM
This is a problem... how?:smallconfused:

Nothing, if you're playing a crossover of Pokemon and Avatar: the Last Airbender. :smalltongue:

Speaking on only this point for now, but while I understand there are martial artists and psychics in the Pokemon universe, they seem to get taken to ridiculous extremes and let trainers fight alongside Pokemon. I can understand this appeal as a niche, but the core focus of Pokemon should be the Pokemon fighting. Not the trainer with a Leadership feat. Especially when you go into stuff like elemental bending which, to my knowledge, is not ever a human feat in the games. In the games, being a Martial Artist just meant you favored physical prowess and could train more actively with your Pokemon. Being a psychic just gave you some limited clairvoyant powers and maybe the ability to telekinetically throw Pokeballs instead of psychically.

I wouldn't mind playing in a PbP game that actually introduced me to the system, but I really don't want to have to deal with Aang and that guy from Fist of the North Star.

The Zoat
2012-07-20, 12:41 PM
It's easy to run a low-magic campaign. Most people don't use the canon pokeverse anyway.

BiblioRook
2012-07-20, 02:01 PM
When I was co-running a game of this one thing I definitely noticed was how long battles ran. Each player is effectively playing two characters (the trainer and the pokemon).
This went doubly so for my group because we had (oh god) 6-8 people playing at once :smallsigh: (the guy who put the game together and had the final say in how the game went couldn't say no and people kept asking to join in...)

I also found the various class options that basically let trainers use pokemon moves themselves rather silly. Okay, Fighting type or Dark type moves? That kinda makes sense (they are just punches and whatnot after all). But moves like Hyper Beam? Come on now...