Thursday, 5 December 2013

Spotlight: PTA Homebrew

As I stated previously, Pokémon Tabletop Adventures is a game that has a lot of potential, but a few flaws.  As such, I've been working on some homebrew rules for it to make things more streamlined whilst also giving a bit more depth to the world.

A whole new world:
Before we got too far into the FireRed game, I decided to restart in a new region now that we had gotten a grasp of the rules.  We would play in a region I had been working on called Aerouanta (I can provide an in-depth analysis if requested), and the plot would remain basic: each year a competition is held to discover the region's champion.  Trainers gather from all over the world (allowing a couple of our players to keep their previous characters), but they would only be allowed to start with a single low-level pokémon.  Participants would also be divided into teams of 4-5, so they can take part in various events held throughout the year; things like tobogganing, bug-catching contests, and general other things inspired by the animé.  Obviously it would take a long time to get through a whole year, so I would throw in various sub-plots involving legendary pokémon and evil teams getting in the way- before we stopped playing I had an elaborate plot involving a bottled water company named 'Érus' that was experimenting on one of our players, inadvertently creating a psychic link to Deoxys due to a certain chemical they used to augment water's healing properties (I had to come up with some explanation as to how water could heal you in the games).  Ultimately, if the players ranked highly in the end of year tournament then they would have the option of becoming gym leaders or hunting down legendaries, or maybe the whole plot would be halted in favour of a civil war between the Poison-type metropolis and the Psychic-type city.

Rule revisions:
The most significant rule change I made was completely revamping trainer classes.  I decided that trainer classes as they were took away emphasis from pokémon, and there were just far too many feats to keep track of when you had to look after a team of 6 pokémon as well.  Instead I created my own classes (which I shall go into detail about in a separate post, if requested), each with 'base' abilities and 'advanced' abilities that steadily rose in power with each gym badge obtained.  We found immediate improvement in terms of gameplay, though slight disappointment at losing abilities from the previous game.
Another change I made was with pokémon contests, which are a bit of a disjointed mess in the source material.  My changes were a hybrid of the video-games and the animé; there is an 'appeal' stage and a 'battle' stage.  The appeal stage consists of a two-move combo to amaze the judges- Mr Contesta who likes unpredictable moves, like cute pokémon using tough moves; Mr Sukizo who likes moves that accentuate a pokémon's strength, so smart pokémon using smart moves; and Nurse Joy, who likes a balance of power and affection- if a pokémon can only use the move it learns at level 70 then it's extremely impressive, if it's a tm then she doesn't appreciate the pain caused by applying a tm.  The results of this round give a handicap to the battles, which are a standard fight until knockout though you also gain points according to the judge's criteria.  This eans that even if you won the match you may still lose on points.  The players all found contests to be an interesting change form regular battles with an added level of skill and creativity, even inspiring one player to focus most of the efforts on ribbons rather than badges, meaning I had to think of much greater prizes to compensate for reduced levels.
Smaller changes I made included making trainer HP= Con x10, giving trainers a higher chance of survival and making calculations easier; trainer movement= 5+/- Wis modifier, reflecting a trainer's ability to 'know' the battlefield; and most significantly the amount of moves a pokémon could learn equal its Intelligence capability +3, applying to both natural and TM moves (so an Int 3 pokémon could learn 6 natural moves and 6 TMs).  This gives a lot higher unpredictability in battles, and means you won't run out of moves quickly because you picked all 'Battle' frequency moves.  These were all met with great approval.

Rule additions:
The biggest addition I made involved skills, which I used Skyrim as inspiration for; basically the more you do something the better you become at it.  This included higher knowledge checks for scanning many pokémon, better capture rolls for capturing more pokémon, shorter hatching times for hatching eggs, etc.  Ultimately I feel these skills failed as we started gathering more cluttered character sheets which was the exact thing I was trying to avoid with trainer classes, but I still feel there is some potential for this method.
Another addition yet to be tried, is giving each species of pokémon a unique characteristic, the theory being that traditionally unplayable pokémon will now be playable, and traditionally overpowered pokémon may prove more difficult to control keeping a balanced playing field.  Examples I have so far include Butterfree attaching Poisonpowder to moves using its wings, and Jigglypuff having increased accuracy on Sing whilst using its 'inflate' capability.

And that's it for my homebrew bits for Pokémon Tabletop Adventures.  Feel free to use any of the above ideas for your own games, and if requested I can provide more in-depth files for pokémon characteristics or I can put up a post going into more detail about trainer classes or my region, Aerouanta- descriptions of gym leaders, rules for events, etc.

Finally, if you're interested in what you've read and fancy playing the game yourself, and you live in the Weston-Super-Mare/Bristol area, then let me know and perhaps you can join us for the new game I'll be setting up early next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment