Pokemon Tabletop United: tips and tricks for beginners
One of the most exciting things about playing a tabletop game is the freedom it gives you in this setting. You are not bound by game mechanics, technology, or anything else, and you can freely role-play as if you were living in this world. One particular setting where it’s extremely fun to do is the world of Pokemon. One of the most popular and extensive systems you can use is called Pokemon Tabletop United, or PTU for short.
This system gives you everything you could expect from a Pokemon RPG, and more. However, there are also a few things to keep in mind before embarking on a campaign using PTU as a system.
ten Tons of customization
Probably the most alluring aspect of PTU is the sheer number of options it gives you as characters. You can do almost anything you imagined you could do while watching anime when you were a kid. With a huge number of achievements, perks, and items, you really can become the Pokémon trainer of your dreams.
These options range from letting you change the damage type from physical to special for an attack, buffing an unevolved Pokemon similar to Ash’s Pikachu, and even using moves yourself. You can wield a Honedge, ride a Mudsdale, or give your Pokemon extra buffs by using your training features. The possibilities are truly endless.
9 The progression is unique
Once you’ve created your character and chosen a starter, it’s time for the adventure to begin. However, character progression in PTU feels different than most tabletop RPGs, and this should be kept in mind. For starters, you and your Pokemon have different levels and progress at different rates.
As your Pokémon gains abilities, new moves, and sometimes evolves at certain levels, your character will gain buffs and small features with each level. This means it can build up very quickly and fill up your entire character sheet. Therefore, DMs need to keep an eye on how fast the game is progressing, especially with inexperienced players.
8 Hard work for the DM
Speaking of tips for DMs, they should strap in for this match. PTU can get overwhelming after a while, especially with multiple players who have unique skills and a team of six Pokémon each. The DM must then create balanced encounters, intriguing stories, and keep an eye on what is functionally a group of more than fifteen team members.
While that, combined with unique abilities, abilities, and moves, might feel like a job for newer DMs, it’s manageable. This advice goes for any RPG, really; Just make sure you have helpful boards and scheduled encounters ready to go, and you’ll be in good shape for a long time.
seven There’s a lot of math
Statistics and calculations are other things players can and will encounter when playing PTU. This is also a warning to DMs, as players will look to you to resolve any confusing effects and attacks. When stat buffs and debuffs, stat-altering abilities, and damage-altering training features come into play, a single attack can turn into a two-minute math fest like this.
To combat this, you can use recalculated combat stages to reduce the math. Keep a calculator nearby and track how much your abilities and features change your stats, and it becomes a problem that is quickly resolved.
6 More anime than video game
While the stats, abilities, HP, and combat may make PTU look like nothing more than a tabletop video game, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Once you start playing, you will quickly realize that the game is more like anime than video games. It’s an RPG, after all. You can’t attack the Pidgeys you see because they are flying and you have to reach them first.
Who says you can’t heat up the ground with a flamethrower attack and attract deep-buried Ground-type Pokemon? Think outside the box and find creative solutions.
5 Group and characters matter a lot
While we see a group of individuals, all with unique goals and ambitions, hanging around in the anime, this can be a problem when playing PTU. As with any other tabletop RPG, group dynamics are key.
Why are these trainers sticking together? Are they looking for something? Maybe they’re missing out on something. Having a common, overarching group goal is really helpful, especially since a gym battle or contest can take up the majority of an entire session. Maybe it would be good to cheer Ash on the flanks, but players will quickly become restless if they have to miss an entire session.
4 Narrative thread
When you watch Pokemon video games, the story and storytelling are rarely at the forefront. Instead, they’re essentially games about creating your dream team and training them to defeat the champion and the evil organizations. In a tabletop RPG like PTU, however, this can quickly become stale.
Of course, players should be allowed to hang out in the wild and catch and grind Pokemon. But if there’s no common thread to the adventure, it will get old in a session or two. This narrative thread can be as simple as finding a rare Pokémon, or as complex as overthrowing an oppressive regime. Just a hint of goal can propel the campaign forward for a long time.
3 Online might be the best option
As mentioned earlier, PTU has a lot of work for DMs, so adding physical work to that in the form of tokens, cards, and music can be taxing. To avoid this, playing on an online platform like Roll20 can be a real alternative.
This drastically reduces prep time and allows DMs to focus more on storytelling and delivering a smooth session instead of printing minis and drawing maps.
2 Errata And Homebrew
The PTU website has archives dating back to 2014. Since then, many errata have been added to the game. A large errata pack was released in 2016, for example. In addition, a new update and a new Pokedex reference document are released with each new generation.
Finally, there is also some fantastic homebrew content, such as Data’s Homebrew Pokedex. All of this to say that before you jump in, you need to organize your docs, streamline the rules you’ll be using, and be prepared with whatever set of errata and homebrew material you think can be used in this campaign.
1 Campaign setup options
A fun thing about playing PTU is that it’s a generic enough system that you can play it in any setting you can think of. A futuristic high-tech decor? Of course, it is doable. A game set in the past with warlords and factions trying to control regions? The Game of Throhs supplement has you covered.
DMs have used this system for campaigns in steampunk, ancient historical, and even D&D-like fantasy settings. Go wild and have fun!
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