A Pokémon fan has adapted the hugely popular series into an unofficial Pokémon tabletop RPG that throws back to the franchise’s nineties origins.
ChronicDelusionist’s Pokeymanz is a seriously impressive creation, spanning more than 100 pages. The complete rulebook features an introduction to tabletop roleplaying, how to create original characters and rules for players, and a full guide for game masters looking to run custom campaigns and one-shot scenarios - called ‘episodes’, in reference to the RPG’s taking key inspiration from the Pokémon TV series rather than the video games.
The gameplay is a hack of the Savage Worlds system used in games such as weird west RPG Deadlands. Players roll a dice determined by their stat in a given trainer skill - Heart, Fitness, Research and Tactics - increasing from a low d4 to the highest d12. A four and above is a hit, with an eight or higher a critical hit; dice can also ‘explode’ when their highest value is rolled, allowing them to be re-rolled and the scores combined.
As you’d expect, the players can also catch and battle familiar Pokémon - or custom ‘Fakemon’ - using their four available moves, which can be taken wholesale from the games or customised by players. Unlike the video games, moves don’t have preset outcomes, but are narrated and described by the player when used, allowing them to have a number of effects. The strengths and weaknesses of different Pokémon types, such as grass, fire and water, come into play as modifiers to players’ rolls when moves are used. Both players’ trainers and their Pokémon can progress, with Pokémon able to evolve after receiving enough experience.
The Pokeymanz rulebook is styled in a way that will be familiar to anyone who read a video game strategy guide in the 1990s (down to the price sticker on the front - in Pokémon Dollars, of course), with countless references to the Pokémon series’ older instalments. Even glitch Pokémon MissingNo makes an appearance.
The book’s optional rules include guidelines on breeding Pokémon and hatching eggs, rules for replicating the random catch chance of the Game Boy games (hold Down+B!) with a dice roll, and crafting items. The cover suggests that the system works just as well with Digimon, if that’s your preferred nineties franchise about teens and their not-quite-animal companions.