By - February 1, 2015 - 3 Comments

How to have a Super Bowl for your D&D games »

The-Big-GameOn the first Sunday in February, Americans will order 12.5 million pizzas, guzzle 325.5 million gallons of beer , and eat 1.25 billion- that’s billion with a ‘B’, chicken wings.  No word on how many Potions of Pepto Bismal, although rumor has it that additionally 8 million pounds of guacamole are consumed via 15,000 pounds of chips. All of this gastronomical excess happens while watching over-sized guys in colored shirts run around on some grass.  (yes, this year there’s actual grass and I don’t mean in Seattle)  If you’d like there to be a ‘Big Game’ finale for your D&D campaign, here’s how.

Opponents that oppose: An exciting contest can’t happen against a single BBG with a few mooks.  It has to be against an effective team, with a deep ‘roster’ of NPCs and monsters.  They can all have individual motivations yet still are willing to work together towards a common goal that they want to ‘win’ at.  Model the opposing side after a real football organization: there is an offense, a defense and even a special teams. Each of these separate specialist sections has their own coach/leader who in turn report to a Head Coach.  ‘Free agents’ are mercenaries.  Fans are cultists or other supporters.  Cheerleaders are…evil version of bards?  The actual head of the entire organization is akin to a football team’s owner; a powerful patron, running everything from behind the scenes.  A great example of this setup is the structure of the various villains from the Old School classic super module, T 1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil, the lot of whom practically fill in the org chart.

Have a Halftime: When having a ‘Big Game’ in your campaign it is crucial that for reasons of dramatic tension, at a suitable stopping point there is a lengthy pause in the action.  It can anything from each side retreating a short distance away so they can re-group to several days or even longer in between the fighting.  This lull is the calm before the storm.  The chance for the players to think over what’s already happened and what could happen next.  But it’s also an opportunity to let you adjust your strategies, which can make a huge difference.  If things are heading towards TPK-town (and this is ok, even desirable to have the Players feel the heat) you can see what might swing the upcoming battle towards their overall success.  On the flip side of the coin, if Team Evil is having an off day even with some ‘roll assistance’ on your part, it’s time to change things up.  Re-look at spells, special abilities, and strategy.  If necessary reach out to other DMs via websites and ask their advice.

Serious stakes: The Super Bowl is about as big as it gets in sports competition.  (Yes, I’m ignoring you, World Cup)  Each person on the winning team each gets a payout of $97,000.  Even the losers are guaranteed a bonus check of $49,000.  And this doesn’t include endorsements or contract extensions.  Commercials cost $150K per second yet generate an estimated $10million in revenue.  Betting- both legal and otherwise- is in the billions.  Platinum pieces everywhere.  Perhaps equally important is the glory.  Fame for the winners, infamy for the losers. Just ask Scott ‘Norwide.’  Give your group something equally serious to have on the line.  It doesn’t have to be the ‘Or the World Ends’ from an occult ceremony cliche, but something important enough to make everyone sweat the outcome.  When it comes down to the final fight, make it an all-or-nothing affair.  A ‘Do or Do Not’ kind of scenario design.

So if you make a suitable team of opponents with focused positions, have a defined break in the action that causes dramatic tension before setting up the final battle, and make the end game about something worth dying over you’ll have the Super Bowl of a D&D campaign.  Ok, any other suggestions?  Did we come up with some good ideas?  Need to work on our sports metaphors?  Let us know in the comments below- or else the {insert your favorite team} won’t win.


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By - January 26, 2015 - 1 Comment

The Best Damn of 2014 »


“That’s a spicy meatball!” said aloud by yours truly, after going back through all the articles published on last year.

Gaming is all about flavor. Tasting the atmosphere. Tasting the fear. Tasting the demoness’ kiss. Tasting the kiss of that steel tearing through your bowels and punching through your back as you stare in horror at your own mortality. Tasting that sweet victory while mega joules of power petrify and pulverize the side of a warship, yanking it from orbit and absently dropping it like another silly Andromadan’s treaty to the planet’s surface below.

As a game-runner, it’s all about the story with me. Numbers and pluses and negatives and bonus stacking what you’re after? If they don’t have purpose and reason and flavor, you may as well be clicking with the rest of the WoW sheep.

Sifting back through the articles of 2014, it was all about the nuances, the dive into the senses, the compelling story behind the gory that thrilled me and jazzed me for a 2015 prepared to game game game! Board games, card games, and enough dungeon crawling to have you screaming “RPG!” so much it sounds like a sequel to Blackhawk Down.

John Wick’s “Four Simple Questions was gonzo blast of refreshing ideas, a non-descript van inviting unsuspecting gamers in with his promise of candy and player involvement. He asks the simple questions, commands the whole damn table to answer, and makes no excuses in getting rid of the “me versus you” aspect of the RPG table. Taste the flavor the players actually add to the adventures own creation.

Tastes like too much firepower punching through your tanks upfront? Too bad, Chef Badass, that was the sachet you dropped in the pot.

Mythicparty helped with “Creating Better Criticals, breathing fresh life into attacks designed take both your breath and your life. Taste the fear! Fear of getting hit, fear of getting hit again. Tremble at that minor villain’s attention. The last time he hit you, your momma felt it. Taste the fear of DYING! In fact, I may be getting rid of dead-raisin’ all-together when next I manage a table. God-mode for DMs, indeed.

Colin gave us some awesome Adventure Seeds, and should be darn well encouraged to keep them coming. What? Too many adventure seeds are here already? Bull-crap. Ask my table what the words are carved on my crypt after the books are closed for good “You Can Try ANYTHING”. Instead of leading the party by the nose, using magicians tricks (Illusions, Michael…) to keep them on the right path, make them taste the freedom of an entire world, and the pain of distracting themselves with shiny objects. All the adventure seeds Colin gives you become side quests for the adventuring party left off its leash.

Embrace the red balloon floating down the street, because it may or may not lead to a sewer with a clown.

Tom is the Titan, and his Toolkit smells like fresh sawdust and possibilities. Adding the flavor of the past, the foreign, and the forgotten, makes this dish spicy and exotic. The ideas he brings with personalizing magic for certain locations or eras have been brought before, but his examples are a nice platter to partake from and can be channeled to other disciplines beyond magic. Try different flavors with feats and skills.

Finally, the four Creative Class Constructs by Paul Rehac are a generous helping of flavor damn well designed to get the most out of imagination and input from the character. Why are they like this? What skills are they looking at? Get them away from that thick, goopy pablum in the trough of min/max and have them try silicate succulence and subtle aromas specific to a character’s LIFE. Find their heroic subtleties and pad them with invention and imagination, rather than blind and meaningless bonuses. A deliberate and studious wizard rebuffs your need for Haste spells. Your finesse driven fighter feels clumsy when their strength matches that of an artless ogre.

Game-runners can add all of these flavors to the grand dish we put out on the tables, and delight our guests with for as many times a week as we invite them to dine. We want the repast to be filling without being too heavy, light yet satisfying. The best of 2014 will help make you Martha Stewart meets Monte Cook, and that’s a Chaotic Good thing.

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By - January 23, 2015 - 1 Comment

How to keep your Players even MORE focused »


Last time we talked about a seemingly common- if admittedly annoying- issue that inevitably comes up at game tables: maintaining player attention.  Those 5 strategies were largely out-of-game methods.  So now we’re figuring out tips that will increase attentiveness through actual in-game changes.  Here we go.

Vary the batting order: D&D combat RAW (“rules as written”) has an unrealistic I go/you go/I go/you go of turn order each round.  That’s just not how fights happen.  But it has another negative impact.  Because when players get too used to when they’re supposed to be acting, they tend to tune out when it isn’t their own turn.  Although it adds more rolling to the process, try an initiative every round approach.  If you’re using a product like Hero Lab or another die roller the math is simplified a bit.  And while this breaks up what a player’s actual round will be, the chaotic nature of this better reflects actual fighting.  More importantly, it keep players on their toes since they might be going next.

Real Life Beats Rolls: Since a lot of DMs make Perception/Spot Checks behind the screen, you have the perfect opportunity to have those rolls do more than just tell if a character has seen something or not.  They can influence your games for the better.  Do this by at least partly basing the outcomes on who is actually paying attention to you.  While this crosses the character vs. player line, if someone is blatantly ignoring what’s happening around the table they shouldn’t then be rewarded with a good in-game result.  This will only reinforce the negative behavior.  Instead, encourage attentiveness with those concentrating being the ones to notice things.

Hand Over the Dice:  I’m a huge- nay, Colossal- proponent of the Unearthed Arcana variant, Player’s Roll All the Dice whereby instead of a DM chucking dice behind the screen to decide if the monsters are hitting the characters, (YAWN) or saving against the player’s spells, the players themselves make checks to try to not get hit/have their magic work.  In addition to removing the Us Versus You attitude that can inevitably happen when you’re running the Bad Guys, letting them make these rolls forces them to focus.  And that’s what these articles have been about!

Pay Attention or Pay a Price: If I’m running an adventure, and my players start jabbering amongst themselves, that’s a sign that I need to shift things up.  If there hasn’t been a combat in awhile, then it’s time for a wandering encounter- perhaps initiated by a distracted player’s character literally walking into a sleeping monster.  If the party is already actually in a combat but is still not taking the battle seriously, then the real fight is against boredom.  Beat this by changing the current arrangement to regain their interest.  Introduce additional enemies/reinforcements, create an environmental/circumstantial difficulty, or add a challenge/time constraint.  Combats may not always be a matter of life and death, but they absolutely should be a matter of everyone at their battle stations.

OK, so those are some suggestions to mitigate distractions.  It seems counterintuitive that in an attempt for everyone to have fun while playing an RPG the people sitting next to you need assistance in the process.  But inevitably people require a nudge to, well, stay on target.  What do you guys think of these latest ideas?  Have any of your own to suggest?  Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading.

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By - January 18, 2015 - 5 Comments

How to keep your Players focused »

stay-on-target-500x370_zps89c28767Last Thursday my weekly D&D group for the first time in almost a month.  The holidays, some illness, and Murphy’s Law had combined to put Darkwarren’s ongoing Runelords Adventure Path campaign on a mini-hiatus.  Finally back to the table with a full group, our party of intrepid adventurers were supposed to return to assault a Stone Giant fortress.  The problem was that although it was a fun night and a good time was had by all, the evening was more Delays & Distractions then Dungeons & Dragons.  {cymbal crash} In 3.5 hours of session we barely made it through 1 encounter, and even that was simply a straightforward ‘attack-a-guard-tower.’  Too much side stuff resulted in too little story stuff.  After thinking it over, here are some suggestions I came up with to help your games keep their proper focus.

Review and Preview: Start each session reminding players what they did last time, and what they’re supposed to be doing this time around.  Come back to these prompts as necessary with Intelligence or other checks to put the goals in everyone’s mind and place everyone on the right track.  This is a teaching technique that effective educators use, and worth trying.

We’re all in this together: Successfully running an immersive RPG requires a lot of effort.  So have some help.  Share the workload by assigning some of the record-keeping and other minutiae to those on the other side of your screen.  This delegating tasks to other people not only keeps their heads in the game, it lets yours concentrate on the more important things.  If you divide the labor, you’ll conquer the boredom.

Half-time: Carve out a set break period each session, making sure to periodically inform players that this designated pause is the perfect opportunity for catching up or otherwise discussing non-game things.  When you’re ready to return to the action, begin again with another Review and Preview to both set the scene as well as return the group’s mindset to play.

Clue Them With Cues: Battle about to be joined?  Play a specific song.  (We like to use, ‘A Knife In the Dark,’ from the LotR soundtrack.)  Have a long part of the adventure to read?  Announce “Boxed Text” and train your Players to get in the habit of repeating that announcement until everyone is actively listening to what you have to read.  Going to be doing some serious role-playing? Ding a glass as if you’re about to make a toast, stand up to convey an NPC’s power, lower the lights to set the mood, etc.  Whatever helps increase drama will increase their participation.  Just send out the signals.

Leave Boring Stuff for Boards: Whether it’s arguing over dividing treasure, shopping for new gear with that divided treasure, or planning tactics, many aspects to D&D are best suited for messageboard format.  We use Obsidian Portal to handle all the ‘downtime’ and upkeep.  Lot of this bookkeeping isn’t interesting to everyone anyway, nor is it even necessary to do around the table.  So post those things that may get eyes to glaze over to stop boredom before it starts.

Ok, how’d we do with keeping your focus?  Think these tips will help you out?  Anything we miss that could assist in focusing players?  Thanks for reading and please take a moment to comment below.

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By - January 9, 2015 - Leave a comment

Apps that make your D&D games better »

We’ve previously shared a number of great deals on books, maps, miniatures, and terrain that we thought you guys would like as gift ideas for the holidays.  There were definitely a lot of cool things for your D&D games on these lists, but some of were admittedly not in the copper piece range. (of course hopefully you expect to spend a few silver on custom-made terrain, such as your personal Lothlórien)  With that in mind, we’ve complied another list.  This time of either FREE or nearly Free apps that our gaming groups use that can help out at your own tables.

imagesTinyScan Pro: “The little app that scans everything.” WHAT IT IS- an App that lets you take pics, which it then quickly transforms into PDF files.  HOW WE USE IT: Allows the DM to show parts of the adventure (map sections, NPC illustrations, item images, etc.) when we’re playing without holding the module up and awkwardly trying to cover up the stuff that still remains to be discovered.  When the PDFs are converted to JPEGs (here’s 4 ways to do that) they can easily be used with Obsidian Portal or other campaign site.  But all these PDFs need a place to be stored which leads us to…

blue_dropbox_glyph-vflJ8-C5dDropBox: WHAT IT IS- “a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Never email yourself a file again!”  HOW WE USE IT- DropBox is how our group shares things; from the telephone tree to Player’s Guides to sessions pics to actual book PDF’s.  Their app allows us to do all this via smartphones for the ultimate convenience.  In fact, we use it so much that we’re running out of room- if you’re interested in accessing a gaming library from your hand, please use our referral link: as each referral gives us both 500MB of bonus space!  Which you can use for…

imgresHero Lab character sheets: WHAT IT IS- A free viewer of Hero Lab, “award-winning character management software for RPG’s.”  If you want to give Hero Lab itself a try, The Starter Edition is free, although it only supports Paizo’s Pathfinder Beginner Box and Evil Hat’s Spirit of the Century.  HOW WE USE IT- while Hero Lab is now available for iPad (and 3 members of my group use it on their Apple devices to good effect) Android support isn’t here yet.  Luckily the Hero Lab Character Sheet app let’s us non-Steve Jobs take our characters on our Bugdroid phone.  While the character sheet doesn’t allow editing ala the full version, it still allows tracking for hit points, subdual damage, spells, Stat adjustment, etc.  Basically all the critical stuff.  It’s a great little app.  Speaking of great little apps…

imgres-1DMDJ: “DMDJ is an audio engine application that allows DMs to add environmental background themes to their D&D sessions.”  WHAT IT IS: Sound effects from Dragons to fireballs to light rain.  Or heavy rain.  Or a full-blown monsoon for that matter.  HOW WE USE IT: Environmental sound files like the bubbling from an alchemists laboratory, the crackling of a campfire, and the bustle of a village marketplace instantly set the scene.  While we’re used to having music/soundtracks in the background, actual sound effects completely add a dose of realism to the tabletop experience.

So what do you guys think- will any of these improve your games?  Know any apps that we missed?  Tell us below.



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By - December 30, 2014 - Leave a comment

Behind the Gear-spun Curtain: A Purely Steampunk Look at Game Design »

Pure-Steam-logo-300x90Designing a campaign setting isn’t all about world lore and locations populated by classes, races, and monsters. You need to have things for those classes, races, and monsters who populate your setting to do. What we’re talking about here are staples of play in d20 system games — feats — and how to avoid some of the problems and pitfalls of designing for such. (Note: The feat write-ups in this article do not represent fully playtested and approved final copy, but offer readers a glimpse at material in current stages of development.)

Our Lead Designer, Brennan, says, “When designing feats, we view them as customization options available to characters that meet their prerequisites, generally regardless of class (who doesn’t, right?), and that are typically on par with class features relative to power. Whenever the team offers up a feat suggestion, we research Pathfinder’s extensive library of feats to first prevent redundancies (i.e. ‘feat bloat’), and second to mirror formatting and syntax. As for functionality, we strive to provide ‘action-altering’ options over number crunch options; options that give the character new ways to use her actions, and options to better facilitate role-play and storytelling through game-mechanics.”

Equipment Trick (Combat)

You have learned at least one useful combat trick using non-weapon equipment.

Prerequisites: 5 ranks in any Craft skill, OR 5 ranks in Sleight of Hand, OR Exotic Weapon Proficiency (fighting fan), OR Point Blank Shot, OR Throw Anything

Benefit: You gain multiple equipment tricks for professional gamblers and card sharps based on your other skills and feats.

- Coin Roll (Sleight of Hand, 5 ranks): You can turn a handful of coins or poker chips into effective brass knuckles as a move action.

- Coin Toss (Throw Anything): You can hurl cards or coins like effective shuriken.

- Paper Cut (Exotic Weapon Proficiency [fighting fan]): You can use a hand of cards like an effective fighting fan.

- Shower of Cards (Point Blank Shot): You can launch a deck of cards to blind an adjacent opponent for one round as a touch attack.

- Wooden Nickels (Craft [any], 5 ranks): You can fool vending machines like nickelodeons, gum dispensers, and automated toll booths using worthless slugs with a successful Craft check in place of Disable Device.

Special: Each trick is keyed to a specific prerequisite. Any user with this feat may use tricks for which she meets the prerequisites, and only those tricks for which she meets the prerequisites. Should the character later meet additional prerequisites, those tricks too would naturally become a part of her repertoire (without needing to take this feat again).

“When working within a campaign setting, we also need to be conscious of the tone we are setting with our feats, and how that tone meshes with the one set by the setting itself. In Westbound, we are exploring the wild frontier, rife with frontiersfolk and cattle-herders, so we needed feats that complemented said tone. For example, we developed a line of lasso mastery feats that allow cowpoke-themed characters new options when using a lasso as their primary tool for combat and adventuring. With this line of feats, you’re able to disarm, grapple, and trip foes with your lasso, quickly hogtie lassoed creatures, and treat the lasso as a viably lethal weapon.”

Lasso Mastery (Combat)

You are skilled with the lasso in combat.

Prerequisites: Proficiency with the lasso, Weapon Focus (lasso), base attack bonus +2

Benefit: You treat the lasso as having a 15-foot range increment and you no longer provoke attacks of opportunity when attacking with a lasso. You may make melee attacks with a lasso that deal nonlethal bludgeoning damage (1d3 Small, 1d4 Medium), and you threaten creatures as if you had a 15-foot reach. You cannot use a lasso to attack in this way while it is entangling a foe. Furthermore, you treat the lasso as if it had the disarm and trip properties also, and you can use Weapon Finesse to apply your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier to attack rolls with a lasso. Lastly, you can loosen the knot of a lasso as a move action.

Normal: Loosening the knot of a tightened lasso is a standard action, and the typical range increment of a thrown object is 10 feet.

Improved Lasso Mastery (Combat)

You are adept with the lasso in combat.

Prerequisites: Proficiency with the lasso, Weapon Focus (lasso), Lasso Mastery, base attack bonus +5

Benefit: The Escape Artist DC to escape your lasso is equal to either 10 + your CMB or 15, whichever is higher. Any bonuses you have to attack rolls made with a lasso also apply to this DC. Furthermore, you gain the ability to grapple using your lasso, instead of using it to entangle a creature. To do so, use the normal grapple rules with the following changes.

Attack: You cannot use your lasso to attack while you are using it to grapple an opponent.

Bind: When you initiate a grapple with a lasso, you can choose to target a Large size or larger creature’s mouth, beak, or mandibles, etc., with a –5 penalty to your check. If you successfully grapple a creature with your lasso in this way, you bind the creature’s mouth shut, preventing it from attacking with a bite attack or using a breath weapon, etc.

Damage: When dealing damage to your grappled opponent, you deal your lasso’s weapon damage rather than your unarmed strike damage.

Free Hands: You take no penalty on your combat maneuver check for having fewer than two hands free when you use your lasso to grapple.

Reach: Rather than pulling your grappled opponent adjacent to you when you successfully grapple and when you move the grapple, you must keep him within 15 feet minus his own reach to maintain the grapple. If the difference in reach is 0 feet or less, such as when dealing with a Medium size lasso wielder and a Gargantuan size creature, you cannot grapple that opponent with your lasso. If you have to pull a creature adjacent to you to grapple it with your lasso, you still provoke an attack of opportunity from that opponent unless you have the Improved Grapple feat.

Tie Up: While adjacent to your opponent, you can attempt to use your lasso to tie him up. If you do so to an opponent you have grappled rather than pinned, you take only a –5 penalty on the combat maneuver check rather than the normal –10.

Special: In addition to the normal rules for escaping a grapple, a creature grappled by a lasso can also escape the grapple by breaking the lasso with a Strength check or by damaging the lasso directly.

“As the Pure Steam Campaign Setting is a member of the steampunk genre, we also needed to offer feats that use our steam-technology. To meet this need, we created a few feats that allow non-Gearhead characters to build and use a limited number of contraptions of their own.…”

For that, however — and so much more! — you’ll need to buy Westbound™ when it hits shelves and digital format next year! From all of us in the Pure Steam DevTeam to all of you, may your holidays be merry (like the sound of a critical hit) and bright (like a new set of dice)!

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By - December 29, 2014 - 1 Comment

Get a bunch of RPG’s, help a bunch of kids »

imgresConsider this yet another Attack On Your Wallet, but this time it’s for a good cause.  Actually, for a whole variety of good-to-the-point-of-being-Lawful Good causes.  Here’s just a few of the children’s charities that you’ll help when you buy some gaming stuff:

  • Doctors Without Borders: “humanitarian-aid organization and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, best known for its projects in war-torn regions and developing countries facing endemic diseases.” -Wikipedia
  • Human Rights Watch: “an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. -Wikipedia
  • Reading is Fundamental: “the oldest and largest nonprofit literacy organization in the United States.” -Wikipedia
  • Save the Children: “an international organization that promotes children’s rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries.” -Wikipedia
  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: “a pediatric treatment and research facility focused on children’s catastrophic diseases.” -Wikipedia

Basically, getting PDF bundles helps support these incredibly worthwhile causes: Ten percent of payment (after gateway fees) is split equally between two charities chosen by the game’s designers.  As I post this the bundles had raised $8,102.28, $8,175.43, $8,191.81, $8,252.29 & $3,600.48 for their various respective charities which is a pretty decent contribution.

OK, onto the game bundles themselves.  A collection of the new Monte Cook far future setting of Numenera?  Check.  Old school wackiness yet dark Sci-Fi satire of Paranoia?  Check.  The swashbuckling pirate-fantasy in mysterious tropics of Razor Coast?  Check.  The modern-day Cthulhu Mythos conspiracy-horror of Delta Green? Check-check.  There’s even a bundle of 9 roleplaying games designed specifically for kids; not only to be run for them but for them to run their own game.

Each collection download can be easily shared (no DRM) + there’s a bonus copy included.  Meaning you can send out that code as a gift to someone else & they can also have a bundle too!  How awesome is that?!  +5 Vorpal Awesome, that’s how awesome.  So much so that this next part is being turned up to 11; brace yourself & your screens.

Alright there Mythic, where do I go for all this amazing Win-Win awesomeness?  Well glad you asked.  Just click on over to…{ drumroll} Bundle of Holding:

However act quick readers, as all of these have a countdown clock that’s running.  Some of them have as long as 4 days to go but some are already down to single digit hours.  Make Haste and check them out- sorry for the short notice.

But we don’t apologize for your wallet.  It’s for a good cause.

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By - December 9, 2014 - Leave a comment

Digital to Tabletop – Pokémon »

Pokemon MemeFor anyone who knows me – you know that one of my favorite things to do in my spare time is to convert a video game to a tabletop game.  Despite what you may think, this can be done.  In fact, in some cases, the conversion is rather simple.  In other cases, the conversion can be a little more challenging.

I like to choose games that are kind of in between – a game that only presents some mild difficulty in this process and one that allows me to, “bend the rules”, if you will, letting me alter some mechanics in order to fit it in with the d20 system or any variant that I might want to conjure up.  One of these games, as you probably guessed from the title, is Pokémon.

Without diving into detail too much, Pokémon is a relatively simple RPG with two, ultimate goals – becoming the Pokémon League Champion and “Catching ‘em All”.  In order to become Pokémon League Champion, the player must visit the 8 Pokémon gyms scattered across the continent and defeat the gym leaders to earn badges.  Once all 8 badges have been procured, the player must then travel to the Pokémon League, take on four, elite trainers (known as the Elite Four), then defeat the champion.  “Catching ‘em All” is a catch phrase often used within the Pokémon world that simply means that you have to capture and trade for every Pokémon (different monsters that you battle with) that is available throughout the game.

I know that you want to get into the nitty-gritty by starting out with battling, but right before we dig into that, we have to fill out our character sheets.


The Character Sheet

Your character sheet is going to be slightly different, obviously, than in a normal, d20 game.  For starters, your character doesn’t actually have any stats (unless you want to include a catching level, which I did).  Remember – you fight with Pokémon, not with your fists, so it’s going to be your Pokémon that need stats filled in.

But what should their stats look like?  A good question.  The formula involved isn’t the simplest in the world, but, fortunately for us, we have this here handy, dandy calcumathingajig to help us out:

Psypoke’s Stat Calculator

FYI – It’s typical for your first Pokémon to start at level 5.

FYI 2 – Typically speaking, each player will have a choice between three Pokémon at the start of the game – Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle.  Of course, this can be modified.



Encounters I kept simple, personally.  In Pokémon, when a player steps into an area where wild Pokémon may appear, the player has a chance of randomly encountering specific Pokémon designated for that area – each having its own percentage of chance of appearing.  For instance, a wild Pidgey may have a 90% chance of encounter, whereas a Jigglypuff may only have a 20% chance.

I hate math, personally, so I convert this process to the d20 system.  I’ll have any, given route contain five different Pokémon, at least.  Four of these will be common (encountered by rolls 1-4, 5-9, 10-14, 15-19) and one will be rare (encountered by rolling a 20).  It’s a simple process for me and my players to remember and it works.


Stay tuned for next time where we’ll tackle capturing and battling!

Thank you all for reading!

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