I've recently been toying with the idea of running a campaign of Pokemon Tabletop United v1.05. The system seems like it would accommodate my preferred GMing style, the settings of the various games are well-documented and seem ideal for episodic-format campaigns, and I have players who are interested.

That being said, my own interest in Pokemon, and that of my players, comes from having played the games and watched the anime; I would like to present a world, and an experience, similar to that portrayed in those specific sources. Pokemon Tabletop United draws inspiration from a wide variety of sources (including the Pokemon Special manga) in which Pokemon trainers tend to make a more active role in combat, and the violence is more frequently fatal. As a result, many of the available player character features include or are entirely built around human combat.

I can easily ask my players not to make combatant characters, and present a world in which human combat is rare. My concern is that that there will be unexpected mechanical fallout from doing so; It's tricky to predict even the direct impact of such changes on the game, and there may well be subtle knock-on effects that are even harder to predict.

So, I have to ask: When running a PTU game with the human violence taken out (but the Pokemon battling left in), what should I be worried about or take precautions against?


3 Answers 3


An answer to this question was posted on the Pokemon Tabletop adventures board by a user named Domo.

Based on what he's said, the main problems for the GM lies in the uselessness of Status effects because of the trainers actions, with only Burn or Poison remaining as an effective tool for the GM to combat Trainer interference with.

He also goes into action queues and initiatives during combat as well, and tracking initiative can definitely get pretty cumbersome based on his description.

The last thing he mentions is that its much more difficult to build support based trainers than it is to just build full combat trainers for Gym Challenges or Bosses.

If you're more interested in reading his in depth answer instead of my summary it can be found here.


"[I]f you follow the rule that either everyone goes pure Pokémon support or everyone has some degree of direct combat prowess, you'll have a good time."

Pokémon Tabletop United comes with a document of tips for first time GMs. That's tip number zero. You can't get more straightforward than that, but you can get more detailed. Here's what I've learned playing in a game without trainer combat classes.

Character Classes

The biggest change will be to the decisions the players make in designing their characters. It's not quite so simple as just banning some features and edges. Classes are a mix of abilities so there are many classes that are partially trainer combat. There are 17 classes that are marked as using trainer combat, ranging from entirely trainer combat to just a tiny bit of it. How will you handle these classes? Ultimately it's up to you, but it's something you need to think about and discuss with your players before they begin to build their characters.

Some of classes only involve combat and can't be used if you don't want trainer combat. Martial Artist is a good example of that. Some of classes are OK to allow as-is without affecting the balance of the class at all, such as Survivalist (which I'm playing as right now). All of its Features are mostly, if not entirely, non trainer combat and you can't even use the trainer combat aspect of it except in certain terrains. It's the classes that have entire features that are exclusive to trainer combat that are heavily affected by not having trainer combat.

Ideally, your players should not get classes that have too much trainer combat if you're banning that. Classes are a pretty big investment, since you can only get 4 and you also need to invest in getting their (usually completely different) requirements. Each time you can't get a feature in a class, your investment in that class (and its prerequisites) is a little less valuable. I guess home brew is also an option (allowing a player to have two partial classes count as one class for the limit?) but I have no experience here and I can already see that there are some ways that that might end up being more powerful than a regular class.

Character Stats

Stat-wise, no trainer combat means that Speed is the most important for a trainer, followed by HP, with none of the other stats really mattering. The importance of Speed cannot be overstated. As for HP, outside of League Battles, trainers can still get hurt (environmental hazards, wild Pokémon, the evil team with no morals), though you as the GM have control over when (and if) this happens. In our game, usually the trainers' Pokémon are targeted and when the trainers themselves take damage, it's because they made a strategic mistake such as being too far away from their Pokémon (and therefore not able to do intercepts) or rushed into a situation before making sure it was safe to proceed.

In response to the other answer

I went through a lot of effort to find the forum post linked in the other answer. And here's what I think of Domo's response:

  • It assumes the party has very specific features and edges. Not every party will have a Cheerleader, for example.
  • Domo's game is a "mixed" party, exactly what the tips document recommends against. Of course the balance will be difficult to manage. You're making it so much easier by not having trainer combat.
  • Most of what's described there can't happen in a League battle (namely, trainers using moves).
  • Anything the party can do, NPCs can do too. In our game, Gym Leaders (for example) are usually very high level too so they have all sorts of tricks that aren't available (yet) to the players, plus a higher trainer speed. (Our game is run in a way that makes gym battles more difficult, such as by not allowing trainers to use items in League battles.)

Short answer: Nothing

After a read-through of the rules, it appears that there really isn't anything that needs to be done to run Pokemon Tabletop United in a closer-to-the-games style. Simply don't use any of the rules that pertain to a trainer's involvement in battles. This is backed up in the 1.05 Core PDF on page 7:

If you’re wanting to play a lighthearted game where Trainers always cheer on their Pokémon from the sidelines and Team Rocket goes home after they get beaten in a Pokémon battle, that’s totally doable!

However you should consider keeping trainer stats. This is because, realistically, there are situations where they might matter, even if they never get involved in typical battles. These are things like environmental hazards as well as things such as simply wanting to punch that guy.

This is especially apparent if you think about the anime: Even early on it's shown that trainers can get hurt pretty easily when Ash saves Pikachu from the spearows. This shows that an adventuring trainer at least should have HP (and its derived stat: Hit Points).


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