Mar 262010
 

A little while ago I was surfing around The Forge, as I tend to do, and came across this topic. My curiosity was piqued. I’m a big fan of Ron Edward’s Sorcerer and, I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a Pokemon fan as well.

I’ve played my fare share of Sorcerer games. It’s an excellent game with just the right amount of darkness. What I have never realized is just how easily Sorcerer can be adapted to Pokemon, or how well it actually works. That link above really has all you need to adapt your own copy of Sorcerer to work in the pokeverse, but I’ve sucked out the important bits and will rearrange them into something a little more useful.

Why?

First, before we get into the actual changes made, I’m going to explain why. Pokemon was a bit of a phenomenon at one point. There are more than a few twenty-somethings that look back fondly on the whole thing. Just look at the continued popularity of the video game series.  There is also something fun about the idea of hunting down and capturing monsters that really captures the imagination, and the longevity of the franchise reflects this.

The other reason is that with just a little bit of conversion work we can turn Sorcerer into a game friendly for all ages. If you’re looking for a way to involve your child, nephew, younger brother, or whatever in role-playing what better way than with a setting they are already familiar with?

From Demon Summoner to Pokemon Master

Anyone familiar with Sorcerer knows that the first thing you’ll need to play is a character. Not unlike almost every RPG already out there. You’ll need to make a few small adjustments to move from the dark adult world of Sorcerer to the Technicolored, moral-filled world of Pokemon.

The first thing to change is the lists. Sorcerer uses lists of descriptors which you assign to your character’s Stamina, Will, and Lore stats. They will fill the same roles as they do in ordinary Sorcerer, but the associated lists will need to be stripped of their more adult themes.

Stamina:

  • big
  • scrapper
  • energetic
  • athletic
  • quick & nimble
  • training

Will:

  • confidence
  • passionate
  • cool
  • visionary
  • driven
  • patient

Lore

  • apprentice
  • natural talent
  • walking pokedex
  • self-taught
  • team member
  • observant

You might want to alter the lists further to suit your purposes. You may also just encourage your players to make up their own descriptors, but that doesn’t seem to be the intent behind the lists.

From Black Sorcery to Pokemon Breeding

Another thing that we are going to need to alter is the actual definitions and naming of certain rules. I’ll outline these changes below.

Binding becomes Catching
The act of binding a demon translates very nicely to capturing a Pokemon. A character that battles the target Pokemon first gets a carryover bonus to their capture roll. Additionally the Rule of Binding needs to be slightly changed. In Sorcerer a demon that is not bound will shrivel up and disappear. In Pokemon an uncaptured Pokemon will wander off and do its own thing.

Punishing and Containing
These two stay more or less the same. Obviously you will want to lighten them up a bit to fit the mood of Pokemon, but otherwise no change is needed.

Banishing becomes Releasing
A Sorcerer banishes a demon when it is no longer needed. A Pokemon trainer does no such thing. They release the Pokemon back into the wild to be with its own kind. Rules for this should stay the same.

Contacting becomes Hunting

This gets a little trickier. In Sorcerer demons need to be contacted. They need to be researched and bargained with. Pokemon is a little different. The little monsters are everywhere. In rivers, tall grass, and even soaring through the sky. A player should be able to attempt a capture of any one of these Pokemon. Now if the character wants to find and capture a specific Pokemon or a Pokemon for a specific purpose, then we need to use Hunting. Basically, any time a player wishes to create the Pokemon themselves they must use hunting.

Summoning becomes Breeding

Breeding is what you need to use to get any Pokemon that doesn’t naturally occur in the wild. Mewtwo is the prime example here. Breeding should also cover getting a Pokemon to evolve, use of the various stones, and that type of thing.

Price becomes Flaw
Mechanical these are no different. I just feel that the idea of having a price to pay in order to use Pokemon doesn’t fit with the pokeverse. Instead the players should just pick a character flaw of some kind. Things like “Fear of heights” or “Naive” might be good choices.

Humanity becomes Wisdom
This one is a bit more optional than others. In sorcerer one the main themes is “how far would you go to achieve your goal?”. Pokemon doesn’t really follow this same theme. In the pokeverse characters are more interested in achieving their lifelong goals through hard work and acquiring friends along the way. In this sense Wisdom is more a measure of life lessons learned. Of course there isn’t anything stopping you from playing a more realistic Pokemon game in which ethics, morality, and the human condition play a more prominent role.

Masters, Users, and Hosts
Unlike Sorcerer, which has many types of demons and combinations that they may appear in, Pokemon are usually of the passing type. Additionally, the person who catches the Pokemon is always its master. The Pokemon is always the user.

The Rule of Secrecy
In the land of Pokemon every one knows of Pokemon and they are relatively common place. This rule no longer applies.

Sample Characters

I’ve put together a generic trainer and his starter pokemon as an example.

Red

Stamina 5 – Energetic, Athletic
Will 4 – Passionate
Lore 1 – Self-Taught
Wisdom – 5

Cover – Trainer
Flaw – Impatient (-1 to any roll that involves sneaking or waiting)
Telltale – Red always wears a Pokemon league hat.
Kicker – Professor Oak gave Red his first Pokemon and asked him to gather information for the pokedex.

Charmander
Passing Type
Desire: Mayhem
Need: Grow more powerful

Stamina 5
Will 4
Power 5
Lore 1
Abilities
Flamethrower (Special Damage, relatively lethal)

Closing

You’ll also need a copy of the Sorcerer RPG for the actual rules of the game. I wouldn’t suggest picking it up just for playing Pokemon with your kids, but it is a great game on its  own, one that any collection of indie-rpgs should never be without.

I’d like to note that although I have made a few changes and added a few things, the idea and many of the changes were borrowed from this forum thread.

[tags]playing with kids, pokemon, rpg, tabletop, sorcerer, indie rpgs[/tags]

  2 Responses to “Sorcerer, I choose you!”

  1. Another alternative for playing a Pokemon campaign is to use the Pokethulhu ruleset, which is freely available. It’s a tongue-in-cheek game, combining elements of Pokemon with Lovecraftian horror, but the rules work well and there’s absolutely no reason it couldn’t be used as a straight-up Pokemon game.

    http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/pokethulhu.htm

  2. Thanks Mike. That looks like a lot of fun.

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