26 Feb

PTU February 2016 Playtest Packet

Hello friends!

It’s been over a year since 1.05 came out, and we’re slowly but surely chugging out way towards 1.06. I can practically smell it.

In the meantime though, we don’t want you to think we’ve forgotten about you so: http://www.mediafire.com/download/urbd0w84z05uxbi/Feb_2016_v2.zip

This packet contains two main parts.

First is a revision of Status Effects. Specifically, we want to make sure that Status Conditions are effective debuffs that appropriately punish their targets, BUT we also want to make sure they don’t just simply do this by stealing people’s turns from them, because that’s nofun.

The second and much larger part of this packet is an Ability Revision! Some Abilities have been cut, some have been added, and many have been edited. Please check them out! Oh yes, we also included a new Pokedex file – many Pokemon have had their abilities tweaked, so players and GM’s, if you plan on using this playtest packet, please consult the new Pokedex carefully!

P.S. – If you’re in the habit of checking the forum, you’ve probably already seen a previews version of this. If you’re the habit of checking the IRC, there’s a chance you may have seen TWO preview versions of this!  Well, THIS is the newest and official version, so please download this and use it! Alright thank you.

12 May

GM Advice: Your First PTU Session

cute

Artwork by pokemoa

Pokémon Tabletop United is a daunting system to GM, so naturally the other devs and I try to make our GMing chapter as robust and comprehensive as possible. However, we realize that having over 50 pages of assorted advice to read through can be dizzying, and a new GM may simply want to know what they strictly need to do to ready themselves for a first session in the system in a straightforward, step by step manner.

Well, here you go! This post will take a look at what goes into putting together an enjoyable first session of PTU. Anything that can be considered more general RPG advice for first sessions, such as how to cast out your first plot hooks or introduce engaging NPCs, will be glossed over at most. Instead, I’ll focus on PTU-specific issues and idiosyncrasies of the system.
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01 May

PTU May 2015 Playtest Packet

journey

artwork by yuza

Annnnnd we’re back! After the exhausting eleventh hour crunch time we took to finish up the 1.05 release of Pokémon Tabletop United, we all needed a break from intensive work on the system. Unfortunately, that for me included working on blog posts, especially with how quickly I burned through my reserve of posts when 1.05 work was piling up.

Now we’re back though, and we’ve come bearing gifts. We’re going to begin releasing occasional playtest packets with material we’re still tweaking and experimenting with. For our first pack, we’re focusing on utility character options. Hopefully, this will give you both interesting insights into our dev process as we make changes over time and another focused avenue to give us feedback on what you’d like to see out of PTU.

Download here and enjoy!

Discuss this post on our forums at this thread.

22 Jan

Pokémon Spotlight: Mareep Family

year of the sheep

Artwork by 電竜ライ

It’s the year of the sheep! Back when Gold and Silver first came out, Ampharos was my favorite Pokémon, and I’m happy to celebrate this Pokémon family as we coast into the new year.

As a note, we’ve ramped up the work on the 1.05 update for Pokémon Tabletop United, which is why this post has taken a while to surface. It’s also why the blog will be going on a partial hiatus until we get the update done. I may still post once or twice before the release if I find topics I really want to write about, but don’t count on much.

Mareep’s fluffy coat of wool rubs together and builds a static charge. The more static electricity is charged, the more brightly the lightbulb at the tip of its tail glows. – Mareep Pokédex Entry

Flaffy’s wool quality changes so that it can generate a high amount of static electricity with a small amount of wool. The bare and slick parts of its hide are shielded against electricity. – Flaaffy Pokédex Entry

Ampharos gives off so much light that it can be seen even from space. People in the old days used the light of this Pokémon to send signals back and forth with others far away. – Ampharos Pokédex Entry

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10 Jan

Over There! A World War One Pokémon Campaign: A Retrospective

Or How I Bait-and-Switched My Players SUPER Hard

Today’s post is a guest article from KamenWriter, who was a member of the PTA dev team since early in the system’s life and has contributed a lot of help to PTU as well.

Introduction

“Over There!” AKA World War One Pokémon, was a short, two-month-long campaign which took place in Europe, 1917, in the midst of the Great War.

The world is one just like ours, with the same history, landmasses, and names for anything. The only difference is that this world has Pokémon where our world has regular animals, and they have a way to train the creatures to fight alongside them. As the game begins, two trains filled with soldiers and their Pokémon roar along the tracks, one filled with Allies heading east towards the German front, and another heading in the opposite direction, originating from Berlin, Germany carrying Central Power soldiers.

Suddenly, there is some kind of anomaly! A sudden surge of power, and the players find themselves suddenly alone on the train, except for a strange man in cobalt blue military garb, wearing a bright red poppy where his medals would be. The man disappears, and the players suddenly find that outside the window there is another world altogether. The two trains, one heading east and the other west, find themselves on the same track, roaring uncontrollably towards one another. There is a crash! The players are plunged into darkness.

When they awake, they are in a thick woods where just a moment ago there was a wide plain. On the two trains, two enemy factions are suddenly face-to-face, and are forced to survive being stranded in unfamiliar territory.

That is how Over There! Began. Probably one of the biggest bait and switches in PTU history. I approached my players with setting details, and was light on the actual content until the first session, where they were whisked away to an unfamiliar territory and forced to fight for their lives. The twist was that the most powerful of the legendary Pokémon hand-picked these soldiers, an American nurse, a Russian spy, an experienced German airforce pilot, a top-secret Psi-ops candidate, and a young German man fighting for what he believes in, in order to put them through a trial by combat to decide the fate of the human race.
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06 Jan

Gym Design: Unconventional Challenges

muscle over mind

artwork by 弐河99℃

Last time I talked about Gym Design, I constrained myself to more traditional League format challenges. Nonetheless, the advice I gave there is just as applicable to unconventional Gym Challenges, which is what I’ll be focusing on for this post. For the purposes of this post, I consider a conventional Gym Challenge to be one where the Trainers on each side battle Pokémon to the last mon standing, and Trainers participate only through Orders and other League Legal Features rather than fighting directly. Most of the ideas and concepts here will still focus on combat, as I believe that’s a defining characteristic of a Gym Challenge as opposed to a Contest, Pokéathlon, or other (generally) non-violent competition. However, the goals and rules of the challenges will differ greatly from a conventional Gym.

As before, I’ll give example outlines at the end for Gym Leaders using the concepts developed in this post at the end so you can have a starting point or source of inspiration for your own campaigns. Do note, unlike the previous Gym Design post, you’re not supposed to try to incorporate every heading in this post into a single Gym! Most likely, you’ll just take one of the concepts and put your own twist on it.
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01 Jan

GM Advice: Keeping Starter Mons Special

fire types

Artwork by sumikarasu

Happy New Year, everybody! And what better post for a time of new beginnings than one talking about starter Pokémon, a crucial element of opening a Pokémon Tabletop United campaign? Before I go on, I should note that the issue this post addresses definitely does not come up in all campaigns, but I’ve seen it enough through a long history of Pokémon tabletop campaigns to feel it warrants a post.

Starter Pokémon provide a crucial foundation to beginning Trainers and should be defining members of a Trainer’s late-game team too. They are often their Trainers’ most steadfast companions, the ones most likely to risk their lives for their Trainers – and in return the ones their Trainers will take the greatest risks to save. Specialist Trainers choose starters based on their battling styles, and even those who start their journey as generalists often find their starting Pokémon plays a big role in choosing how to grow and specialize later.

Unfortunately, starters all too often find themselves outclassed by carefully bred, Shiny, or other rare and special Pokémon such as Legendaries that Trainers befriend or capture in the course of a campaign. This puts players in a tricky position of having a Pokémon they’re very attached to from an RP perspective but which may not perform up to par mechanically – or worse, which feels dull and mundane from a fluff perspective despite reasons for in-character attachment.

This happens more often in campaigns where GMs work hard to give the players opportunities to find special Pokémon with unique traits, but that by no means suggests that GMs shouldn’t do that. The solution isn’t to diminish and exclude Pokémon ideas that may be more interesting than a baseline starter but instead to work hard to keep starters relevant and to develop them throughout a campaign. Read on for my tips on doing so!
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27 Dec

Pokémon Spotlight: Dunsparce

Dunsparce is adorable. Do I really have to say more? Well, maybe I should, or this wouldn’t be worth posting on its own.

dunsparce

Artwork by usutsuki

It creates mazes in dark locations. When spotted, it flees into the ground by digging with its tail. – Dunsparce Pokédex Entry

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