Author – geekalogian (@RabidRonnie)
Where to Buy – https://geekalogian.itch.io/like-no-one-ever-was
My holy grail game is a decent Pokémon tabletop RPG and, thus far, my search has been futile. Homebrew Pokémon games are out there. Every one I’ve found so far has been a bloated, crunch-heavy nightmare that buries players so deeply in math and modifiers that it’s impossible to experience the simple joys of a Pokémon game: befriending amazing creatures, bonding with them through adversity, and becoming powerful together. Luckily, I have finally found a tabletop RPG that captures the magic of the source material. Kind of.
“Like No One Ever Was” is a solo game about a “Handler” (the PC) and a “Companion” (their pet) setting out on an adventure overcoming many challenges in pursuit of some lofty goal. While they never directly say this is a Pokémon rpg, the cover of the game features a Poké Ball, and the title is taken directly from the anime’s original theme song. The author does provide other examples of what other stories the game could tell – a ranger and their pet, for example – but we all know what the game really is. A chance to travel across the land, searching far and wide! Each Pok…well, you get it.
The game itself is a slim 11 pages including the covers. Its elegant system uses cards and dice to generate/resolve conflicts throughout the game. In essence, this is a journal-writing game that has players drawing a card and thinking up an appropriate challenge based on the suit and the value of the card. After establishing the premise of the challenge, players can lower the difficulty by spending some of their attribute points. Once the final target number is determined, players will roll a d12 and see whether they were successful. Successful players and their companions can add to their attributes. If they fail, they lose points. Every time a face card is drawn, the challenge becomes a “Milestone” which, if overcome, generates Renown. After a set amount of Renown is earned, players can take on the final challenge. There are a handful of other rules and important details but I’m already dangerously close to this being a summary and not a review. The main takeaway from this section should be this: it’s a simple system but includes everything necessary to tell the types of stories it’s supposed to.
I’ve played several rounds of this game for this review and enjoyed my character and her companion. Still, I want there to be more to this game. Maybe rules for catching Pokémon, more robust combat rules, etc. But that’s beyond the game’s intended scope and I shouldn’t judge it based on what it isn’t. This game is a light engine for creative people who want to tell compelling stories of a protagonist and their partner. And for only $2.00, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better fun-per-dollar ratio. I recommend this game without hesitation to anyone looking to be the very best, like no one ever was…provided as they don’t mind not catching them all.
DISCLAIMER: I do not know anyone involved with this book, nor did I receive anything for free in exchange for this review. Though if YOU know the author of this book, please tell them I said hey.