Pokemon League Rules Edit
Battling Pokémon is restricted by law to locations designated as arenas. While other regions have allowed free-for-all battles anytime, anywhere, this has led to numerous abuses. Trainers would challenge each other inside buildings and create tons of property damage not to mention endangering lives. Adults would wait to ambush children to steal half their money. Trainers would fight in ecologically-sensitive areas causing irreparable harm. Obviously, the system was in need of reform, and this led to the arena system.
Under this system, arena managers purchase a property and register it with the league as an arena. The arena is set up with cameras and recording equipment to get footage of battles which is sold to networks. The proceeds go partly to the manager but mostly to the participating trainers.
Each arena has a Pokémon limit that determines how many Pokémon can participate in a fight. This is usually something like three Pokémon each for the group with more trainers, and the group with fewer trainers gets to use the same number of total Pokemon. The team that wins are known as the victors and they usually get a set amount of money for winning.
The victors in any arena gets one other privilege: they may restrict access to the area surrounding the arena. The victors get to determine who may enter the area and may kick out anyone they wish at any time. They must still accept any challengers who wish to wrest control of the arena, and as such any trainer who challenges the arena is allowed into the arena to fight. If the arena’s controllers are not around to accept the challenge, the challenging trainers may wander the area at will, but as soon as the challenge is accepted all parties go to the arena to fight. If the arena conquerors abandon the arena for 72 consecutive hours, the arena is considered unowned. If the arena is challenged and there is no response for 10 hours, the arena is considered unowned. An unowned arena is open to anyone to explore, and any group may have a battle in it with the winners becoming the champions of that arena.
Gyms are arenas that are allowed to have special conditions for a fight, specified in writing on or near the gym’s door. They may also require that a challenger complete a quest to prove worth. Gyms do not change ownership when they are defeated.
Additionally, since each arena manager negotiates with the league as an individual, many arenas have special rules, complications, or victory conditions.
When participating in an arena battle, League rules require the trainer to stand off to the side and not physically interfere with the battle or move into the battle area. This includes a prohibition against using healing items on Pokémon during the battle. In the past this was allowed, but it led to people buying their way to victory and battles going on and on as Pokémon fought, fainted, were revived, and fainted again for hours on end.
Starting a Pokemon battle outside an arena is equivalent legally to attacking someone, and can be grounds for jail time. Even if both parties mutually agree, it can be considered illegal. Carrying more than 6 Pokémon is against the law, and can result in a fine or jail time. However, if someone else attacks you or or your Pokemon it is legal to send out Pokemon in self-defense.
Battle Rules Edit
It wouldn’t be the pokeworld without Pokémon battles.
Before combat, each trainer selects their starting Pokemon before they find out what everyone else is using. The GM writes down an initiative order with Pokemon going from highest Speed to lowest, and ties being broken by which trainer has the highest speed, and ties there being broken by a coin toss or die roll as needed. The GM should be sure to leave blank space in the initiative order to account for switching Pokemon.
Every turn in you can give your Pokemon instructions. They have a free action, a dash action, and a command action to respond, and may use these in any order. The free action is anything simple that wouldn't take a roll and wouldn't have much of an effect on battle, like striking a cool pose or winking at an opposing trainer. Eating a berry is also a free action. The dash action allows a Pokemon to move up to its dash distance in spaces.
Diagonal movement is not allowed, nor is movement through a space occupied by an enemy Pokemon. Pokemon can dash through spaces occupied by allied Pokemon. Even flying Pokemon are considered to be occupying the space they are on; flying high above the battlefield is assumed to get in the way of direct fighting. Nonetheless, certain moves allow the user to fly above the battlefield or dive below it, and in doing so the user is counted as being one or more spaces away from the plane of battle. Pokemon can occupy the space under or above such a Pokemon.
The command action lets the Pokemon do a major action, one of the following:
Switch Out Edit
This option lets you change out your lineup, and it is the only option available to you if one of your Pokemon is forced out of bounds.
Pokeballs are too slow to keep up with the chaos of a fight, so most trainers have taken to keeping their Pokemon on the sidelines. Using this method, you can recall one of your Pokemon before it takes its turn, and have another Pokemon start from any space on your edge of the field and move onto the field, taking its full turn. The Pokemon being sent out acts immediately if its initiative is at least as high as the Pokemon it is replacing, and then at the higher initiative on all future turns. Otherwise, it acts at the lower initiative.
Another option is to send the Pokemon out in its pokeball. You can throw a Pokemon up to 5 spaces from your edge. However, your Pokemon doesn't get to take any other actions this turn.
If you switch out a Pokemon, the returning Pokemon loses all beneficial statuses but clears all non-harsh negative statuses.
If your Pokemon faints you must switch out your Pokemon. You may throw it onto the field for its turn or have it run out. If its initiative would be at least as high as the current initiative setting, it pops out of the pokeball or runs out immediately. If not, it takes its turn at a later initiative.
If you have no Pokemon on the field for an entire turn, you are considered to have dropped out and may not continue to battle. If all of one team has no Pokemon on the field for an entire turn, they have lost.
This gives your Pokémon a friendship point in the middle of the fight and causes it to recover one of its moves from burnout. You can encourage one of your Pokémon or another trainer’s Pokémon, giving you a way to help your allies even if all of your Pokémon are fainted, and this assistance doesn’t use up the Pokémon’s standard action. Encouragement may give Pokémon the strength they need to use exhausting moves, or recover from having used them. An encouraged Pokémon may make a second dash.
Trainers can tell their Pokémon to focus on defense. This allows the Pokémon to roll twice every time it dodges an attack and take the higher value. A dodging Pokémon may make a second dash.
Use a Move Edit
Despite the above options, Pokemon will usually be using moves for their command action. There are four styles of moves: self, melee, ranged, and weather. Self moves affect the user. Melee moves are anything that attacks an adjacent target. Ranged attacks are anything that attacks at a distance. Weather moves change the weather.
On a melee attack, you get to take a second dash to close in on your target. You then usually attack one adjacent target (any space next to you or diagonal) and roll a 2d60. If the dice come up doubles and are less than or equal to your speed, you get a critical hit, meaning the attack automatically hits and has a special extra effect, usually more damage or a status is added or made more potent. If you do not get a critical hit, tell your opponent to make a speed save. If the target passes the speed save, it dodges and takes no effect. Otherwise read off the type of attack and its effects. If the Pokémon is resistant to the type of the attack, it will not take any statuses and will take half damage. If it is weak, it will take double damage and a harsh version of the status. If neither, it takes the normal damage and the normal status. Double resistance and double weakness lead to quartered damage and quadruple damage respectively, but they have no further effect on status. A Pokémon that is immune to an attack type is not affected in any way.
Ranged attacks similarly. You don’t get a second dash when using a ranged attack, but you can choose any target within a number of spaces equal to your range. You roll for a crit and your opponent rolls a save to avoid the same as with a melee attack, but both of you are rolling against sense, not speed. Note that if a Pokemon is several spaces above or below the battlefield as a result of certain moves like Dive, Fly, Bounce, or Dig, you'll need to factor in that distance as well to hit them. A Pokemon that is 2 spaces to your right and 3 spaces higher than you is 5 spaces away.
Of course, every move has its own quirks, and many of them allow you to do things not mentioned in these rules. Some attacks allow you to dash extra spaces, or grant you some sort of benefit, or automatically hit your opponent without it having a chance to save. Others present interesting tactical options to get benefits that many RPG’s allow by default, but this one only allows by special moves. For instance, the move Backstab allows the Pokémon to take advantage of a flanking bonus.
Make a Skill Roll Edit
Just as Pokemon can perform tasks out of combat, they can do so in combat as well. When in combat, they can't get any help from their trainer, but as a command action that can do things to try to influence the battle. This might be something like boosting an ally over a wall or setting off the fire sprinklers in a gym.
It could also mean using a move for a different effect. Say there's a patch of brambles blocking your path. You might use flamethrower to clear those.
A note to the GM. Don't let skill rolls replace learning moves. Skill rolls are meant to allow players to take clever advantage of special circumstances or find something to do when none of the Pokemon's moves are fitting. If players are relying mainly on skill rolls because they deal more damage or inflict status effects more reliably than the moves the Pokemon is learning, then something has gone wrong.
One way to handle this is to allow beginner's luck. Basically, the first time a player comes up with a cool thing to do with a skill roll, you allow it and make it useful if it makes sense. But if they continue to do it, make it a bit less practical every time. If the players want to continue using that technique, you can work with them to turn it into a move that the Pokemon can learn.
There are different effects that don’t deal damage directly, but instead have an effect like paralysis or poison. If an attack that deals a status hits, meaning the target didn’t successfully save, the target takes the status, unless it is immune or resistant to the type. For example, the fire dragon will not be harmed by statuses caused by fire attacks. However, a status effect usually has two versions, normal and harsh. If the target is vulnerable, it takes the harsh version. If it is not resistant, immune, or vulnerable to the status, it takes the normal version.
Harmful Statuses Edit
Temporary statuses last until the Pokémon is returned to its pokeball, or until the scene ends, whichever comes first. Persistent statuses remain until cured, and last even if the Pokémon is returned to its pokeball.
Blinded: Pokémon who are blinded can still see somewhat, vaguely, but not well enough to maintain accuracy. They cannot crit on attacks. If harsh, this is true blindness. The Pokémon may be able to detect enemies through other means, but it still can’t crit or dodge. Blinded Pokémon are immune to attacks that rely solely on the their being able to see, such as scary face or flash.
Compulsion: At the beginning of a Pokemon’s turn, if it suffers from a compulsion, it has to attempt a mind save. If it succeeds, the compulsion is gone. If it fails, the person roleplaying the Pokemon has it act according to the compulsion. For example, a compulsion to berserk will likely cause the Pokémon to attack the nearest other Pokémon, friend or foe, while a compulsion to confusion will cause it to act in a crazy, random manner. If the compulsion is harsh, making a mind save only causes the Pokémon to avoid the compulsion this turn, but the compulsion remains until the end of the scene.
Identified: The Pokémon is being scrutinized by a foe. It cannot dodge attacks by that foe. If harsh, the foe signals to its allies, and the identified Pokémon cannot dodge any attacks from its enemies. (It still can dodge attacks from its own allies under a compulsion or some such, because your allies don’t naturally coordinate with enemies.)
Pinned: The user has grabbed the target and is proceeding to hurt it. Pins do not roll to hit as normal. The attacker rolls 2d6 trying for less than its strength score. If it does get lower, that's a hit and that deals damage equal to the pin amount, and if the dice are doubles it is also a crit and deals the crit effect. Whether or not the attacker passes, the defender rolls a strength save. On a pass, it breaks free. On a failure, the attacker may roll to attempt to hurt it again and so on and so forth until the defender passes the strength save and breaks free, after which it is the next Pokemon's turn. These rolls should be rapid fire as the two Pokemon are struggling with each other. Pokemon strong against the type of the attack cannot be pinned by such an attack. If the Pokemon is weak, it takes no extra damage. Instead, the pin is harsh, meaning the attacker automatically hurts the defender every turn without needing to roll, but the defender must still roll to escape.
Every turn the user makes a strength save and if it succeeds, deals damage equal to the amount of pin damage. After that, the target makes a strength save and on a success, the pin ends. On a failure, they continue exchanging strength saves until the target is fainted or it passes a save. On a harsh pin, the user does not need to roll saves, it automatically deals damage to the target.
Trapped: The target cannot move or be moved from the space until it passes a strength save at the end of its turn, though it can still act. Trapped Pokémon cannot be switched out. If harsh, the target cannot free itself with a save, and requires another Pokémon to pass a strength save while adjacent to it to free it.
Repeating Damage: Repeating damage is applied at the end of each of the target’s turns. If the status is harsh, double the damage each turn. So 20 repeating damage becomes 40 and then 80. Repeating damage is not applied while the Pokémon is in the Pokeball.
Sleep: The target is asleep on its next turn, unable to act or do anything. It cannot dodge attacks, though it can make saves to deal with statuses. It awakens at the beginning of the turn after and is able to take its full actions. If harsh, the Pokémon makes a mind save at the start of its turn, and if it succeeds it wakes up at the start of its next turn, but if it fails it remains asleep for another turn, with another try next time.
Stun: The Pokémon flinches and cannot dash on its next turn. Additionally, it cannot dodge. If harsh, the Pokemon must make a strength save each turn, and if it passes the status goes away at the start of its next turn.
Any move a Pokemon uses on itself bypasses all type restrictions. For example, if a Pokémon that resists fire uses a fire attack that inflicts stun on itself and deals 30 damage to it, then it does not get a free pass on those because it is resistant to fire. Nor would a Pokémon weak to fire take a harsh status and increased damage. Even if you are immune to that type of move, you still take the full effect. For example, a ghost Pokémon using self destruct would faint even though it is immune to normal-type attack.
A sneaking Pokemon uses the chaos of the fight to avoid detection. On an open battlefield, this doesn’t mean the user is unseen, it just means that as long as it keeps its distance it’s hard to spot it in time to get it with a ranged attack. Sneaking Pokémon cannot be specifically targeted by ranged attacks, though they can be hit by the area effects of attacks aimed at other Pokémon. Attacks that identify the target can still affect it, and if they do the user is no longer sneaking. If a sneaking Pokemon uses any move that affects the weather or an enemy it loses its sneaking status. The exception is, if a sneaking Pokemon KO's its target with a melee attack, it remains sneaking.
When not to Dodge Edit
If you’re using a helpful move, something that heals or deals a beneficial status effect, your target will not roll a save unless it should wish to for some odd reason. Helpful statuses don’t involve resistance or vulnerability, with the exception that if something is immune to a type, it is immune to even helpful statuses of that type.
Pokémon can ride other Pokémon. The Pokémon doing the lifting is called the mount, and the one being carried is called the rider. The rider must have a strength IV less than than the mount's strength IV.
Getting onto a mount requires you to be adjacent to the mount and to use up your dash or command action. Both Pokémon will occupy the same space when one is riding the other. The rider is not affected by any terrain hazards and its type doesn’t matter for crossing those; only the mount has to face those. If the rider moves or is moved any spaces without the mount, then that is considered dismounting, but anything that moves the mount will send the rider along the same course.
Any move that hits a single target may hit either the mount or the rider, move user’s choice. Moves that affect multiple spaces will affect both.
Multiple Pokémon may ride a single mount, but their combined strength IV’s must be less than the mount’s strength IV. Trainers may ride a mount, but they face the same carrying restrictions. Trainers can carry the occasional Pokémon they’re strong enough to lift.
As a rule of thumb, moves are not hindered by riders. If a mount uses a move that makes it sneaking, the rider is also sneaking as long as its mount is. Similarly, Ethereal Body allows both rider and mount to pass through solid objects and teleport moves both the rider and mount. Similarly, out of battle a trainer may get similar benefits by holding onto the Pokemon, even if said trainer cannot ride it. The GM has final say on how different moves interact with this rule.
Unled Pokemon Edit
Pokemon are so eager to work with trainers because they instinctively know that as a team they're each better than on their own. However, there may be times where for any number of reasons a Pokemon is battling without a trainer to lead it. In such an instance, the person roleplaying the Pokemon gets to take a free action and either dash or use a move but not both. Unled Pokemon may instead dodge or make a skill roll as their one major action, but they cannot encourage themselves or return themselves to their pokeballs.