Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pokemon 4e - Pokedex Cards

It's been a LONG time since I talked about my Pokemon 4e project here - and about an equally long time since I've worked on it much. As a refresher: I'm modifying the D&D 4e rules to accommodate Pokemon. This is a purely fan-made, not-for-profit project to stretch my game design muscles and have fun in the process.

This week, my good friend is coming to visit from England, and I plan to give my rules a test run. We'll be playing starting in Pallet Town in Kanto, up to the first gym in Pewter City. To that end, I've been figuring out exactly what materials I'll need ready to go for next weekend.

In particular, I've been thinking about how I'll handle pokedex entries. I want players to have a more granular breakdown of knowledge about a pokemon than the three stage knowledge in the games (nothing, name/photo, everything). To that end, I've decided there will be 6 potential pieces of information the player can know (have in a pokedex) about a pokemon. A party of players will share a pokedex, so one player learning a fact lets the whole group learn it.

There are several ways to gain this knowledge. The first time a pokemon is seen, mentioned, etc, a player can make a Pokemon (knowledge) check to see if they know anything about it. The rarer the pokemon, the harder this check is. The check will determine how much of the 6 potential pieces of information the player knows.

After this initial check, there are four other ways to gain information. First, the players can gain the information from NPCs or books/computers, but this isn't always possible especially for higher tier info or rare pokemon. Second, the players can actually encounter a pokemon of that species. This automatically reveals the first tier of information about it (name, classification, size, and appearance). If the player manages to catch a pokemon, this reveals the second tier of information about it (ability scores, evolutions, type). Finally, a player can make one extra Pokemon check each day to try to study their Pokemon and learn more about it. That pokemon's happiness is added to the check as a bonus, signifying that a Pokemon who has been with the trainer longer is easier to learn about.

Once I'd figured all of this out, I had to decide how to get this information to the players. It would be horribly cumbersome to ask them to write it all down, and I didn't want them to have to manage a ton of little strips of paper. Thankfully, D&D 4e has already solved this issue in the way they handle powers and items - cards. Receiving a card from the DM (or PM, in this case) is instantly gratifying - you get something physical, and if it's printed on card stock and nicely formatted, it's also aesthetically pleasing. You get something "cool". I'm hoping this will make filling up the Pokedex interesting and fun. I can also easily make some rewards based on how many pokedex cards the players have collected (just like in the games).

Once I'm satisfied that the game is finished, I'll be releasing it to the internet in general. Expect more updates here as I start the playtesting process, but development will be slow since this is probably the lowest priority project I've got going right now. For now, I'll leave you with the pokedex cards for Bulbasaur.

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