Pokethulhu – The Kitacon Hypetrain

This coming Kitacon I will be arriving a day early to socialise, get some work done, and to get some gaming in before the convention comes in and cruelly steps on my chances to play, there are still some Magic rematches I owe but I never seem to get the chance because of panels and the like. Damn you Kitacon, getting in the way of me enjoying a perfectly good convention!

Anyway, first item on my docket is a one-shot role play in a system I’ve never run before. It’s an opportunity for me to learn something new, get experimental with something other than Dungeons & Dragons. I chose Pokethulhu because it combines my greatest strength – horror – with an important component of any one-shot where no one is planning on getting emotionally invested with their characters – completely stupid comedy.

The concept and rules are the work of Cumberland Games, the art is by John Kovalic, and many of the creature designs are a result of a competition, and the same will be true of my own game.

So let’s have a quick look at the basics:

The Idea

Smash together the adorable, collectable, fightable monsters of pokemon and combine them with the nightmarish unfathomable horrors of H.P. Lovecraft! In this world monsters haunt every shadowy forest, linger at the mouths of every cave, and lurk in every dark alleyway. They like to eat people’s dreams, and suck out their marrow. Grown-ups hide in their nice warm homes and close their frightened eyes, they go mad as soon as look at a Thulhu, or read the words of the dreaded Pokenomicon, but kids are more accepting of the sweet little extra-dimensional entities, and more open to new and maddening ideas.

Children everywhere gather up their shining dodecahedrons, artifacts that imprison and enslave the eldritch entities. They hop on their bikes and go out on adventures that would challenge more vulnerable and fragile minds. This is where you come in. As a Thulhu cultist you get to go where the adults dare not venture, pit your wits against the deadly Team Eibon, and gather tokens of your many victories.

As previously mentioned, my one-shot at Kita will feature the winner of the GeekOut Shrewsbury design competition, although I’m afraid I couldn’t help but include the top three, making the winner’s achievement slightly less special. Deathlett, Cro’Nyarlathog and Jibberypuff will feature alongside my own creations in my own custom Pokenomicon.

The Rules

Best thing about Pokethulhu, the rules are available for free! Right here! You can just have it!

Short version, the hardest part is actually putting your characters together and making your dreaded ‘Thulhus for them to train. Once you’ve got the numbers worked out then everything is a matter of rolling one to three D12s, and hoping that one of them comes out less than your relevant stat. Grade is your general knowledge; Physical Education helps with running, jumping, and climbing; Shoplifting refers to any stealth based skill; Fast Talking helps schmoozing, deceiving, and threatening; Sanity helps the mind withstand the horrors that surround you; and Pokethulhu Lore helps to know about your Thulhus, along with training and fighting.

Fighting is where things get interesting. Each little Thulhu has four move types that injure, trap, frighten, or dodge out of the way. You can either beat your opponent into non-existence, imprison them to halt their movement, or force them to flee. The rules are designed in such a way that they suit one on one fights perfectly, just like in the actual game, but balance may shift dramatically when things become lopsided.

I have about a week to practice with the rules using my custom collection of Thulhu and their cultists and a few little additions to the rulebook before I bring this to you guys.

I’ll be running Pokethulhu on a first come first served basis, so find me early if you want a character. If you get there late, you’re always welcome to stay and listen. As for the where and when, I’ll be posting details on the GeekOut Facebook page and on the Kitacon Official Social Group. The game will be recorded (audio only) and published to the GeekOut YouTube channel.

My panel, DMing 101 will be at 20:00, Saturday 19th in Chancellors 2, in which I will be stripping the role of Dungeon Master, Game Master and Storyteller down to the bare bones, and then probably swapping stories and advice for long after the panel is over. Come and join Tim and I, we look forward to seeing you there.

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