Review: Pokémon Tales

Pokémon Tales: A collaborative storytelling game set in the Pokémon universe.

full disclosure: i’m friends with the person who wrote this game, but this is one of those instances where i found and played the game first, and then became friends with its creator. still, i don’t like shilling things without being completely transparent about my potential biases! 

we all live in a pokémon world (PO-KAY-MON) i wanna be the greatest MASTER OF THEM AAAAALL

pokémon tales is one of the many, many takes out there on a pokémon ttrpg. unlike many others, it eschews statting each individual pokémon and their moves and types and abilities—and indeed, statting just about anything at all—in favor of focusing on the storytelling aspect of the whole thing. using the no dice no masters/belonging outside belonging system as a base, pokémon tales isn’t really a game about pokémon battles; it’s a game about what life in the pokémon world looks like. think of it as running on a logic more closely to anime than games: you aren’t going to pick movesets for your pokémon, you’re just going to do the things it makes sense for that pokémon to do. it has instructions for gmed, gmless, and solo play. the major mechanic, for those of you unfamiliar with no dice no masters, revolves around tokens: in a gmless game, everyone involved pushes along the scene and builds the world together; for adding details, introducing problems, playing the world around you, or otherwise contributing to the scene, you earn a token, which you can later use to solve problems. 

i’ve played one-shots of pokémon tales a couple of times! it’s surprisingly easy to just pick up and run with. one thing i think really helps is that instead of picking through playbooks, you just sort of build your character from a few aspects: their trainer class (lass, hex girl, ruin maniac, etc.) and a list of possessions. their possessions might be literal things like an old map, a professional camera, or a nice hat; personality traits like a need to care for others, a can-do attitude, or a grudge; or things that they have even if you wouldn’t strictly call it a possession like a legacy to live up to, a twin brother, or a winning smile. i really like the possessions-as-character-development system; i think it’s a way to express overarching ideas as well as subtle details. 

even with setup, a pokémon tales game is pretty easy to condense into just a couple of hours, but i’ve played longer sessions when we’ve wanted to linger on more or certain scenes or ideas. the battle and contests systems, which provide a little more crunch than no dice no masters usually does but i still wouldn’t dare call crunchy, can draw things out, but you can just as easily resolve instances where these come up with tokens if they aren’t actually things you want to spend a lot of time focusing on. despite playing a character whose main goals revolved around battle, i happily played a one shot where we resolved actual battles with tokens and descriptions, and didn’t mind skipping the system to actually play them out blow-for-blow at all. 


  • amazing prompts for setup and scene building: as is true of many no dice no masters games, there’s a certain amount of active push required, but i find that it’s way easier for people to push in pokémon tales because there’s a good amount of structure for it, so you’re less likely to get hung up so bad you can’t regain lost momentum 
  • i really can’t sing the praises of possessions as a major character sheet component enough; i just think it’s such a good and fun way to build a character


  • to this day i don’t really understand battles. keeping track of type matchups and positions and how moves affect them is surprisingly difficult for me! while i don’t mind it in theory, i think this is potentially theoretically too much crunch for people who like no dice no masters games

would i play it again

i’m planning on running a one-on-one campaign for a friend and we’re going to be using pokémon tales and let me TELL YOU i cannot WAIT 

get the game!

pokémon tales is a creation by iron echo games, and you can get it for free on itch. you can also join the discord server

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