12 May

GM Advice: Your First PTU Session


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 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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