17 Nov

Wakino Privateers: A Game of Love, Extreme Power Levels, and Actually Not That Much Piracy

Hello, Aori Radidjiu here!  Wakino Privateers was a campaign I ran for nearly three and a half years, starting in PTU 1.02 or 1.03 and moving all the way up to 1.05.

As you can see from this really, REALLY terrible map I drew early on and never improved (way to go, me), Wakino is an Archipelago, based very loosely on Hawaii and Okinawa. The area was colonized by Kanto earlier in its history, and eventually won independence, but its culture is a bit of a mishmash with a vague identity, pulling in aspects from Kanto and Unova.  In the old days, Wakino had a rich pantheon that the natives worshipped, which is still known but largely forgotten for gods of other nations.

In the present day, Wakino is having a bit of a problem with piracy, due to loopholes in the legal system that make it difficult to prosecute pirates who commit a crime on one island outside of that island.  To fight this menace, the government hired a variety of wild cards from inside the nation and out, called PIRATES: the Privateers Investigating Roving Aquatic Terrorists Entirely Secretly.  These PIRATES have permission to investigate criminals independently and to bend the law to do whatever it takes to enact justice, and given their own ship and experienced Captain to sail the seas looking for evildoers.  Our story focuses on one particular group of these PIRATES…

The Crew of the Mutiny

Here’s a blurb about each of the main PCs by their players.

Melanie Ipu


Art by Amai Petisu

Player: Kraken

Build: Hex Maniac/Dancer/Ghost Ace/Arcanist/Glitch Bender

Melanie started the game as a lonely occult-obsessed, image board shit-posting hikikomori from Snowpoint, then she became a witch, spent some time as a god (using the divine spark of a Missingno she merged with), stopped being a god (because it was hard), was tricked into becoming a different god by her girlfriend (as one-third of a gestalt goddess trio), and ended up as the incoming ghost gym leader planning to start a family in Wakino and establish a school for occult and psionic research. Although she turned out to be rather capable, she was simultaneously the most awkward and the most impulsive member of the group and caused a variety of headaches for the crew, including kind of betraying them at least twice. Despite this, the crew ultimately forgave her and she actually grew very close to them (in particular, developing relationships with both Knox the PC and an NPC named Luna; it’s complicated). It was with the help of her friends that she went from being a painfully sheltered and paranoid NEET to being a surprisingly well-adjusted and pseudo-professional adult.

Her playstyle was focused on offensive support and utility, having an answer for almost everything either in her own repertoire or her extensive roster of (primarily ghost) pokemon. Because she was so heavily built for support herself, her pokemon tended to be focused almost entirely on dealing damage.

Mackenzie Frazier

Art by Amai Petisu

Player: Facet

Build: Martial Artist (Technician)/Coordinator/Skirmisher/Tumbler/Provocateur

Mackenzie Frazier is an actor in his thirties, hailing from Gennis (fanon Poke-Britain.)  At the time of the game’s start, he was just finishing up shooting for a hot new upcoming movie, Pirates of Visiwa.  Don’t ask why the shooting was in Wakino; probably director’s preference.  Anyhow, at the time of receiving his invitation, he couldn’t make heads or tails of it.  He eventually presumed it was some kind of odd in-character casting call, and went to check it out.  …It took him a significant portion of the campaign to realize that it was, in fact, real.

Mackenzie’s style is heavily focused on an evasive and aggressive trainer combat style, supported by a diverse pokemon team directed by Coordinator features, and by the endgame incorporating Provocateur to add debuffs to his turn diversity.  Even though there was already a fairly extreme variety of things he could do in a turn before that.  Most of his moves fell under Fighting, Flying, and Steel.

As far as his personality, he was…pretty much functionally clueless, but still humorous and focusing on being a genuine companion to the team members and to his pokemon.  At some point or another, he had something relevant to contribute to each ally.

In terms of his plot abilities, he originally gained the ability to tap into the dream world to call out the powers of heroes from other worlds, augmenting his moveset in different ways.  This was…cumbersome from a mechanical standpoint, though fun to act out.  Eventually he became at peace with the main origins of his abilities: Captain John Spearow and Indigo Pokemontoya.  This act gave him a much more streamlined and conducive set of special abilities, including the ability to use Coordinator features on himself.

Key characters related to him are Eileen Ivers, a slightly troubled but passionate fan who turned out to be a Meloetta in disguise, Jennifer Harrington, his ‘agent’ (actually his boss) who is a veteran of a war she fought with the abilities of a psychic berserker, and Casey Lanison, another actor who was taken and experimented on by Team Aether, using his abilities to tap into the Dream World for their own purposes.  At the end of the game, Mackenzie proposed an open poly relationship between all four of them. 

Mako Kalama

Art by Cheppo

Player: Domovoi

Build: Maelstrom/Spark Master/Electric Ace/Athlete/Berserker

Initially conceived as a ‘Rotom Ace’, Mako started the game as a kind of directionless youth who joined PIRATES for a lack of any other prospects. He immediately positioned himself as the ‘reasonable’ one of the group, but only out of a love of following The Rules, and even then preferring the letters of The Rules to the spirit. Though he tried to keep up an easy going islander attitude, Mako was tempestuous and moody, frequently butting heads with everyone else on the ship. As acting captain for most of the campaign, Mako tried (with limited success) to impose order on the crew while he slowly became more and more reckless as time went on.

Mako grew up in a village built on a sandbar and, as such, was perfectly comfortable with swimwear as normal clothes – and he seemed to be allergic to shirts the handful of times he was forced into them. As a trainer, he caught very few Pokemon and relied heavily on Volt, Amp, and Ohm, the trio of Rotom he began the game with. They were later joined by the surfing Raichu Indra, the electric-shifted Draconeon Jupitel, the underperforming Klinkang Sprocket, and Mako’s sole Shadow Pokemon, Kaha’i the Jigglypuff. Mako focused almost exclusively on combat and grew into one of the single most threatening pieces on the board at any given time.

Much of Mako’s story revolved around Raijin, the Kantonese god of thunder, taking him as a scion and tasking him with cleaning up deity-related corruption across the region – in particular, Mako promised to reassemble Raijin’s brother Fujin, the wind god. This fed into Mako’s own rocky relationship with his own older brother, who became a host for corruption in a fit of jealousy. Mako worked diligently and took his role seriously, because he took everything seriously.

Mako also remained oblivious to a romance subplot for several out-of-game-years, culminating in an extended apology sequence that made his player very happy.

Nicholas “Knox” Knight

Art by Retrokinetics

Player: Kain

Build: Hunter/Miasmic/Druid/Arcanist/Duelist

An edgy ex-pirate recruited by the PIRATES organization as part of a pardon deal for his previous crimes (mostly theft), he was supposed to be a bit of an anti-social asshole using his new position as an excuse to find and deal with the guys who betrayed and split up his previous crew. What he ended up being was a snarky wizard with a heart of gold who acted as one of the voices of reason in the party, though he still wound up butting heads with Mako a fair bit over differences of opinion on THE RULES. Between a budding rivalry/bromance with Mackenzie, a reluctant and eventual acceptance of Mayuri, and a complicated as hell relationship with Melanie, he turned out to be a loyal and dependable friend… that just happened to have an oath of vengeance against the BBEGs. Notably, halfway through the game when the villains executed an old friend of his in front of his face, he got a bit obsessed with improving himself – to the point where he ended up exploiting the fact that his body was filled with Vileplume DNA (long story) to Mega Evolve. At the end of it all, he had mellowed out enough to the point of accepting a position teaching kids at an occult-central school.

Mayuri Sakurada

Art by Noizi

Player: Lymia

Build: Fairy Ace/Prism/Dancer/Fashionista/Arcanist

When Mayuri’s parents sent her off on a gym challenge, they expected her to grow up in the process. Instead of what they wanted or expected, however, she went off to do Pokemon contests and research the occult, and eventually ended up stowing away on the Mutiny hoping to get af free ride to another Pokemon contest.

Instead, she ended up getting caught up in its crews various shenanigans, pranking the crap out of her crewmates, and eventually magically aging up and getting dragged into fight against a scary evil organization that threatened her parents and her friends… and, well, the rest of the world. Growing up sure is fun.

She used a type of light magic that let her replicate to some level the abilities of Pokemon. She mainly played a support role, with access to dance moves, weather, Mimic, and Sketch. Her Pokemon were mainly built as fast sweepers, and she relied on them and her allies to do damage. She eventually settled on Transform for her sketch slot, using magic to cosplay her Pokemon. Because that’s what magical girls do!

Other PCs

There were a handful of other PCs that came and left as the game went by.  These are written by me (Aori) rather than the players.  They were later all used as NPCs of varying importance as the game went on.


Med Mizou

I forget who made this sprite to be honest!  It might’ve been Roara themselves actually!

Player: Roara

Build: varied by game version, and they weren’t around for 1.05.  As a boss they were a Musician with some Shadow attacks

Med was a Shadow Human of sorts, having a very different thought process from normal humans but a strong desire to have them like her.  In practice, this meant that Roara was rolling Charm for every random NPC who showed up to seduce them and constantly acting at odds with the rest of the party, which eventually meant I had to just remove them from the game because they were just disruptive to the game, not to mention the OOC stink Roara brought about whenever they didn’t feel they were being properly catered to.  This had drove off Dox and Domovoi as players (although Domovoi had Mako rejoin later after Med was no longer in the game) so I’d say it was for the best that I removed them from the game.  I had Roara’s permission to use Med as an NPC, so late game I had Med show up as a misguided antagonist for the final plot arc, acting as the penultimate boss after she had infiltrated the enemy team while it was in shambles and taken over it for her own ends.


Lesieli Keli’i

Art by my little sister!

Player: Ramiel

Build: If I recall correctly, it was something like Researcher/Hobbyist/Chronicler/Commander/Mentor for their 1.05 version, but I can’t find the draft for that!

Lesieli was a former Hikkikomori who decided to go along with the PIRATES initiative to see the world.  They were also convinced that they were the reincarnation of an obscure Goddess, which as time went on actually turned out to be true!  She had a big love of cute underdog Pokemon like Mayuri, and eventually got the ability to call upon her divine powers to assist the party.  Unfortunately, Ramiel had a hard time keeping up with the game and also was very slow in combat (although when they DID roleplay, they were very good and a lot of fun!) so I had to ask them to leave the game.  It was good timing because Ramiel was about to get more busy in real life too, so I guess it worked out.  In game terms she became an NPC that the players occasionally visited for tutoring, and late game got kidnapped by Med and was around for some of the final battles.

Lysandr Styx

Player: Dox

Build: Ace Trainer/Mastermind (the class that eventually became Commander)

Lysandr was a member of the police specialized in Pokemon training for investigation (obviously most police in a Pokemon setting would have Pokemon, but he’s like a Police Dog trainer) that joined the PIRATES initiative late.  He had a criminal ex-girlfriend in the vein of Carmen Sandiego that I didn’t get much time to elaborate on. He was very no nonsense and dutiful, which didn’t mesh well with the party, so he as a character left to join another crew of PIRATES (who showed up a couple times as NPCs) and Dox made…

Cerise Coumarou

Player: Dox

Build: Underdog/Grass Ace/Defense Ace/Special Defense Ace

Cerise was a huge goofball from Kalos who joined up with the PIRATES initiative and found herself a bad fit for her crew, so she basically switched places with Lysandr and joined the PCs.  She was a wealthy heiress who had grown up sheltered and decided to flee her constrained noble life to be a vagrant hippie.  Unfortunately, Dox eventually had to leave the game (later he’d admit it was due to distaste with Roara and Med) and Cerise ingame fled the group along with her NPC boyfriend because her family’s combat butlers and maids got hot on her trail.


Memorable Moments

Here’s a list of memorable moments from the players!  

Kraken: As far as in-game moments go, there were a lot on account of the game lasting an eternity and being a lot of fun. But for me at least, the most memorable “moment” isn’t so much a singular moment and it had a significant impact outside of the game. Not too far into the campaign, I ended up playing Melanie essentially as though she were me except completely irrational, which made it pretty easy to get into the character. However, I didn’t realize how emotionally invested I’d get in the game and the character (in a good way), and it forced me to come to terms with some personal stuff. When I finally started transitioning gender near the end of the campaign, everyone else was nothing but supportive.  I guess to be a sappy squid, the most memorable thing for me is the love and support I received from all of the new friends I made (or old friends I got closer to) while playing a nerdy pokemon game. So, um, thank you everyone who was in any way connected with Wakino Privateers.

Kain: Like Kraken, there were a ton of fun moments in the game that stood out, but maybe one of my favorite was an entire subplot the GM did more or less on a whim. He had us stat out NPCs that were on our ship as trainers, and we used them to go on sub missions where our main characters were too busy otherwise. There were a lot of fun things, from rescuing the oblivious brother of one of the PCs from being kidnapped in broad daylight, to taking down a powerful lich and his dracozombie, and my personal favorite: Beating up the main villain of the campaign in an encounter our B Team was not expected to win. The GM had to scramble and change some of his plans after that one.

Facet: At risk of sounding like a cop-out, I have to side with Kraken.  If I really wanted to tell you all the most enjoyable scenarios from the game, I would pretty much just write out the entire thing.  In heavy detail.  But as she stated, there’s a bigger attachment to the game, for me.  During the campaign, I hit a major, very major mental crash.  I did my best to pretend it wasn’t there, but my ability to keep up with sheet maintenance, and particularly handling the rewrites that came about with major system revisions, took a major drop.  Outside of the game, I was having a major identity crisis, melting down on a serious level.  But I continued to hide it, acted like things were okay and that I wasn’t a huge mess.  That’s because the game was…  Effectively the last constant in my life these last few years.  It was great to go out and play Mackenzie.  A lot of times, having that character to fall into was its own kind of liberty, because outside of the game I didn’t know who I was any more.  And as it turns out, some parts of Mackenzie are still parts of me now.

Domo: A lot of my most memorable moments are very Mako-centric (but aren’t players’ favorite moments usually the ones that shine the light on them the most?). Things like the Orochi fight or Mako asking Ryan to forgive him for being so clueless are pretty vivid. But definitely one of my favorite and most campaign-defining series of scenes are the handful of talks between Mel and Mako. Early on, a lot of Mako’s interactions with the party were talking down to them as the responsible one, with minimal success. With Mel in particular, I think the two started to understand each other, with the talks turning into Mel giving Mako advice and chastising him instead. And that bond got even more dramatic in the final major conflict with Mako and Mel on opposite sides. Games where characters grow and change, and form meaningful bonds are special.

Lymia: We had a lot of fun sessions, and it’s hard to pick out any as a favorite. And I suppose that’s part of having a multi-year campaign, too many great moments~ It was a lot of fun throughout, and all of it was great.

Story Summary

The weirdest part about my game is that despite running for a long time before it, it came to uncannily resemble Pokemon Sun and Moon’s plots in some ways.  It took place in an archipelago region that was meant to be modeled after Hawaii, although it was more modeled after it culturally than geographically, and it featured an Aether group that meddled with dimensions.  Sadly I don’t think anything I came up with was quite as cool as the Ultra Beasts, although there were some pretty cool Glitch enemies and Pokefusions lategame that I think I did a good job on!

As a summary, the group went around the islands of the Wakino region looking for criminal activity to bust, and eventually uncovered Team Aether being responsible for organizing the pirate activity around the region.  Aether was also responsible for a number of reality edits that created Glitches, some intentional, some by accident, but all of the PCs found out that their lives had been made worse in some way because of these.  They went and confronted the 4 subdivisions of Team Aether: White Water (dealing with Medicine and the study of the local Mermaids and the God they got their powers from), Turquoise Terra (dealing with the occult, and recruiting teenagers by giving them supernatural powers from magic tattoos), Black Blaze (dealing with genetic engineering and experimentation, along with trying to attune people to divine forces through brainwashing them to fit personality profiles.) and Scarlet Sky (dealing with tech and cybernetic augments), occasionally teaming up with other PIRATES groups and making a large host of friends along the way (including local gym leaders).

While dealing with Scarlet Sky, the group discovered that Luna, an NPC that they had picked up as a helper and also Melanie’s codependant girlfriend obsessed with gaining divine power, was actually the sister to the current leader of Aether, Lupin, and that their former ally Med had joined the organization and had commandeered what was left of Aether.  Med kidnapped Lesieli and holed herself up on the Moon with a reality warping superweapon.  After taking down Lupin (accomplished by a B team of NPCs played by the players in what was SUPPOSED to be an unwinnable fight) and Med, Luna secretly hatched a plan to attempt to use the superweapon and convinced Melanie and Lesieli to join with her to try and warp reality so that they could be a multifaceted ruling goddess of reality, and the rest of the PCs (and Melanie’s deceased Grandfather as a tricked out Aegislash) resisted and managed to barely scrape out a win despite the superweapon going off, preventing reality from suffering any major changes and undoing a number of dimensional changes that Aether had wrought with the superweapon to create a better timeline.

If this sounds like a lot, it was.  I left out a bunch of minutiae because there was just too much going on to adequately summarize.  To be honest, the story came out pretty comic booky because while I WAS planning ahead, I never planned ahead TOO far, and often incorporated theories made by the players into the game.  While this probably made for a sloppier plotline, it also made sure I always focused on what the players seemed to like and what kept them interesting, so I think it kept the level of engagement pretty high throughout.

Mechanic: EX and Gestalt Classes

Our first big homebrew mechanic was EX classes.  EX Classes were basically a set of GM gifted feats for players that I gave out as the story progressed and I felt the characters had developed.  Many of these were enhanced feats the PCs already had, or opened up options for more classes by allowing them to take a second Elemental Connection.  

Eventually, around the halfway point of the game, I gave them Gestalt Classes as part of their EX classes.  Gestalt classes were me taking two of the classes a player already had, and stapling them together so that they could take features of those classes together as Pairs (2 feats for the price of 1!).  Each Gestalt class counted as 1 class for their class limit, so this also opened up them taking a fifth class, as the readers might have noticed from the character listings.  This isn’t something I’d recommend for normal games, only high powered games in the spirit of systems like Exalted.

Late game, I also included Apotheosis feats as part of these EX Classes, which were basically an equivalent to things like Limit Breaks.  Only one could be used out of the whole party, and they halved the Max AP of the entire party for the rest of the Scene so they were best used late in a battle.  The fluff for all of these was the PC’s getting the ability to call upon the Divine spark of the collective unconscious from being exposed to a specific lategame MacGuffin.  Several Lategame bosses also were using these as desperation moves.  They weren’t as balanced as they could be, but they were individually restricted to one use Daily, so during the final boss rush the PCs got chances to use a couple different ones rather than just using the best one,s o I guess it worked out.  These were awarded for doing personal sidequests, along with Ultimate Accessories that gave a variety of personalized benefits.

Some EX classes I gave out:

Domovoi eventually made his own Gestalt rules that I believe have circulated around the forums, honestly his are probably a bit easier to understand than mine, although they have an even bigger power level boost.  Use whatever seems best for your game!

Mechanic: Slot Alchemy

About 2/3rds of the way through the game I gave the PCs the ability to customize items with alchemy, although I made a personalized system that was a bit different from the books, where every individual item had a set number of slots and some restrictions on what kind of bonuses could be put in those slots.  This was made to resemble the Materia system in Final Fantasy 7.  The full rules are here for anyone interested, although this probably increases the power level of a game even further than the Alchemy in Game of Throhs.  Use with caution!

Final Word

This was a fun game, and probably the longest I’ll ever run, but it was a fun experience and I treasured every moment of it.  Our logging sadly became inconsistent as time went on, so I don’t have a nice archive of everything that happened, but you can find the wiki page here if you want to look over everything.  If you have any specific questions, I’m always available on the PTU Discord or IRC, never been big on the forums but I can probably make an account to field any questions you might have!