Welcome to another exciting installment of Spacemon, the tale of a Pokemon TRPG campaign! This is a spinoff of the sci-fi space epic played using the Pokemon Tabletop United (PTU) system, this time GMed by yours truly. You can get caught up the entire Spacemon saga here!
It was quiet aboard the UAS Maverick as the ship flew through warp space. Cyrus sat in the co-pilot’s seat in the cockpit as he had been for the past few hours, trying to figure out what had just happened. How could there possibly be spice in the shipment? he wondered. The captain went over the possibilities in his head. He knew his employer was trustworthy, and the Maverick had regularly been making supply runs to Paso for months now without incident, so the problem wasn’t there. The crew, perhaps? It seemed unlikely, but Cyrus still considered the possibilities.
Erik? The Maverick’s engineer was an old friend of the captain. The two had known each other for years, and long before Cyrus had acquired the ship. He was the last person Cyrus would expect to turn to smuggling, especially not without bringing him in on the deal, even though he would certainly decline. Definitely not him.
Anya? She had only been flying the ship for a couple of years and never gave Cyrus a reason to suspect her of anything nefarious. She kept to herself for the most part and could be a bit abrasive at times, but that was about it. Anya had escaped from a bleak future under the thumb of a notorious Romanov gangster, so the captain was sure she wouldn’t want to get involved with anything even remotely related to that life. Couldn’t be her.
Taraka? A Sinai monk would be a very unlikely suspect for spice smuggling. It would be a fantastic cover, but no real Sinai monk would get involved in that sort of thing. Cyrus knew Taraka was the real deal; he had seen his psionic capabilities first-hand. It would be quite the story, but I honestly doubt it was him.
Ace? Ace hadn’t even been active for a month yet, not to mention the fact that he had no memories of his past or knowledge of the criminal underworld. Ace was less likely to be a smuggler than Taraka. He’s the least likely on this ship to have been the culprit.
Axel? Of all the members of the Maverick’s crew, the captain’s hot-headed hired muscle was the most likely to get involved with something like this, but that didn’t mean much. Spice smuggling wasn’t Axel’s style, and Cyrus wasn’t sure he was clever enough. It would explain how it got discovered, though. Even then, the captain didn’t suspect him either. He may be kind of an asshole, but he’s dependable and honest.
Having decided that none of his crew were to blame, Cyrus could come to only one conclusion. The Federation must have fucked up, mixed our cargo with someone else’s or something. It was the only possible explanation. Now the captain needed to figure out how to get out of this mess.
That would have to wait. The Maverick dropped out of warp space on the edge of a star system, pulling Cyrus out of his thoughts. “Where are we?” he asked, turning to face Anya.
“The Yermo system,” the pilot informed him. “It was the first uninhabited system in the sector I found on the nav chart.”
“Good thinking. Now, let’s see if we can find a planet to hide on.”
“Hmm, how about this one?” Anya asked, pointing to a planet on the nav chart. “Scoria. It’s volcanic, but the atmosphere’s breathable. The ash clouds should interfere with any scanners trying to pick us up.”
“Sounds good to me. Take her down.”
Axel stretched out his arm as he stepped out of the Maverick’s med bay, then flexed his shoulder muscles. “Just like new,” he said as he rubbed the wound he received on Paso’s orbital station. It still stung a bit, but the healing gel he had applied to it was already well on its way to healing it fully. It was a good thing too, because the mercenary was eager to explore the planet the ship had just landed on. Judging by the view out the viewport, this world appeared to be volcanic, and that meant fire Pokemon.
Axel had been working for Cyrus for about a year, and he had yet to find Pokemon that he wanted to capture, but all that was about to change. He was sure of it. It almost made the sting of not getting paid for the last job fade from his mind.
“What’s the story, boss?” Axel asked as he stepped into the ship’s main living quarters to find the captain and the rest of the crew.
“Well, I think I figured out what happened,” Cyrus answered. “At least partially. It would seem the Federation got our cargo mixed up with someone else’s.”
“Any idea who?”
“Not yet, but I’m going to find out. I’ll reach out to some contacts and see what I can do. Until then, we’ll be laying low on this planet.”
“If that’s the case, then I want to check this planet out and see if there are any Pokemon around.”
“Be my guest.” The captain then turned to the others. “Same goes for the rest of you. We may be here a while, so feel free to go out exploring.”
“Count me out,” Anya said. “I don’t do volcanos.”
“I shall accompany you,” Taraka said. “I too would like to find some Pokemon.”
“I will join you as well,” Ace said. “I’ve never been on a volcanic planet before.”
“Alright then,” Axel told his two crewmates. “Let’s go see what we can find out there.”
After about an hour of hiking across the volcanic wasteland of Scoria, the three members of the Maverick crew had yet to find any life signs, Pokemon or otherwise. Taraka was beginning to think there were no Pokemon on the planet at all and that this was all a big waste of time. The monk had to admit it felt good to get out and stretch his legs, but the occasional clumps of volcanic ash blowing into his face were starting to irritate his eyes and nasal passageways.
“Perhaps we should turn back,” Taraka suggested to his crewmates.
“We’re not returning to that ship until I find me some fire Pokemon,” Axel responded.
Taraka knew he should have expected that answer. He had known the mercenary long enough. He simply shrugged and continued to follow Axel.
Soon, the terrain began to change. The dried lava flats the trio had been crossing gave way to rolling hills. As they ascended into the foothills of the mountains, Taraka began to notice traces of plant life. Eventually, they crested a large hill and were greeted with the sight of a huge open valley that was surprisingly full of trees and had signs of Pokemon activity.
“Now, ain’t that a sight, boys?” Axel said, placing his hands on Taraka and Ace’s shoulders.
“Indeed,” Taraka agreed.
The valley was quite beautiful, despite the burnt trees decorating its fringes. Geothermal vents nestled between the large trees spewed out clouds of steam that rose into the air through the boughs of muted green-grey leaves coated in a light dusting from the volcanic ash that fell from the billowing clouds like snowflakes. It seemed so out of place on such a harsh planet, yet here it was.
“There’s bound to be Pokemon down there,” Axel said as he took the first step onto the slope.
Taraka followed the mercenary as he lead the trio into the valley. Several minutes later, they were down amongst the trees. They pressed on and were soon in a large clearing in the middle of the geothermal forest.
“Seems like a good spot to find some Pokemon,” Axel said.
Taraka nodded. It seemed like a good spot, indeed. Reaching out with his senses, the monk was able to catch glimpses of recent activity in the clearing. There were, in fact, Pokemon passing through quite frequently.
“I am detecting movement,” Ace suddenly spoke up.
As if on cue, a pair of Ponytas stepped out from the treeline, emerging to graze. Then, a Vulpix appeared from the opposite end of the clearing.
“That one’s mine,” Axel announced, pointing at the Vulpix.
“I will go for one of those Ponyta’s then,” Taraka replied.
“Hold on, there’s something else coming,” Ace said.
There was a loud rustling in the brush, then a Houndour lept out into the clearing with two Growlithes in pursuit. Seeing the trio of Humans in the clearing, the Houndour abruptly changed direction, but that allowed one of the Growlithes the chance to nip at its leg. The Houndour immediately turned and sank its sharp teeth into the Growlithe’s neck, dealing a nasty blow.
The other Growlithe jumped at the Houndour’s back and, with its jaws aflame, took a bite out of the other canine Pokemon. This freed its companion, allowing it the chance to strike as well. The Growlithes and the Houndour continued to trade blows until, eventually, the Growlithes came out on top, although one of them looked pretty hurt. Taraka watched Axel seize upon the opportunity and toss a Pokeball at the injured Growlithe, catching it instantly.
The mercenary seemed to have everything in hand, so Taraka turned his attention back to the two Ponytas. He released his Togetic as he cautiously approached them. Ace followed close behind, releasing his Ralts. The Ponytas stopped grazing and watched the pair and their Pokemon cautiously as they approached.
“Blade, Confusion,” Ace commanded his Pokemon, directing it at one of the two Ponytas.
As the Ralts unleashed his psychic blast, Taraka commanded his own Pokemon to target the other Ponyta. “Sirius, use Fairy Wind.”
Their combined attack didn’t seem to do much to the two fire horse Pokemon other than anger them. The Ponyta’s charged at their aggressors at a surprisingly quick pace. Sirius rapidly flapped her wings, flying up above the Ponytas, but Ace’s Pokemon was not as lucky and was trampled. Taraka and Ace ordered their Pokemon to attack again, and then Ace followed up with a volley of laser fire from his rifle, likely worrying for his Ralts’s safety.
“Guys, a little help here!” Taraka suddenly heard Axel shout. The monk looked over to see his crewmate being aggressively chased by the other Growlithe. His Charmander let out a rush of smoke at the Growlithe, temporarily blinding it and allowing Axel to slip away.
“Looks like you’ve got everything under control there!” Taraka jokingly shouted back.
“We’re a little occupied at the moment!” Ace pitched in as the Ponytas spit fire at both of their Pokemon.
“Fine! I’ll do this myself!” As Axel shot a blast from his flamethrower at the Growlithe, Taraka turned his attention back to the Ponytas.
“Blade, use Confusion, then retreat,” Ace ordered. His Ralts shot off another pulse of psychic energy, slowly backing away at the same time. Ace then attempted to throw a Pokeball at the Ponyta, but the Pokemon dodged out of the way. It let out an angry whinney as it moved in, ready to attack again.
As Ace and his Pokemon moved back, Taraka rushed forward to Sirius’s aid. The Togetic had taken quite the hit from the Ponyta’s last attack. The monk slammed the Ponyta with his fist, driving it back from his Pokemon. “Sirius, use Yawn!” he then commanded. His Togetic yawned, releasing a wave of hypnotic energy at the Ponyta. The fire horse Pokemon began to stumble in turn as it grew drowsy. It managed to keep itself awake long enough to tackle Taraka to the ground before succumbing to sleep.
As Taraka picked himself back up, he saw Axel throw a Pokeball at the remaining Growlithe, successfully capturing it. My turn for a capture, the monk thought as he pulled out a ball of his own. He threw it at the sleeping Ponyta, but it failed to hold it for long. At least it’s still asleep, he thought. He then turned his attention to his own Pokemon. Sirius was pretty badly burned, so he decided to recall her.
The monk then glanced over to see that Ace was just as unsuccessful with his own capture attempt on the other Ponyta. The fire horse Pokemon spit a jet of flame out at the android in response, but he dove out of the way. “Catching Pokemon is harder than I thought it would be,” Taraka’s robotic crewmate commented as he got back on his feet. “Let’s try this again.” Ace ran up to the Ponyta and thrust another Pokeball at it, this time capturing it.
“Nice work,” Taraka commended his crewmate. “Hopefully I will be just as lucky.” The monk pulled out a second Pokeball, then tossed it at the sleeping Ponyta. It pulled the Pokemon inside, then fell into the ash-covered grass. It shook once … twice … three times … then it was caught! Taraka smiled as he walked over to collect his prize.
With the Ponytas dealt with, Taraka turned his attention back to Axel, whose Charmander was now trading attacks with the Vulpix. The fox Pokemon spit a burst of flames at the fire lizard, but she dodged out of the way. “Now, use Dragon Rage!” Axel commanded. The Charmander unleashed a jet of fire that burned with a purplish glow, dealing a nasty blow to the Vulpix. Then, Axel tossed a great ball, successfully capturing the Pokemon
“Well, I’d say this was a pretty successful trip,” the mercenary said he collected his newly captured Vulpix, a grin appearing on his face. His clothes were a bit scorched, and he looked a little worse for wear, but he seemed to be in high spirits. Taraka had to admit that he admired the man’s enthusiasm.
“Indeed it was,” the monk agreed with his crewmate. “But I think we had best return to the ship. I would like to tend to my Togetic’s injuries.
“Sounds like a plan,” Axel agreed, recalling his Charmander.
Taraka turned back in the direction of the Maverick’s landing site and began to the trek back up and out of the valley, his two crewmates in tow.
Notes: And thus we have finished the first session’s worth of material! The session actually went over time a bit, so we had to cut it off mid-encounter since some of the players had other things they needed to do. Since I stockpiled a bunch of session recordings before I ever started writing this series instead of writing each session’s chapters in the week between sessions like I did for the original campaign, it was no big deal to just tack on a bit from the second session at the end of the chapter to wrap up the scene.
The first scene for this chapter was one I added in just to make everything flow better, and it was also a way for me to give a bit more background on the characters, particularly some of the NPCs whose backstories didn’t get much mention during the campaign until much later on. Especially in these early chapters, using Cyrus as the perspective character makes sense for setting up the narrative since we’re still at the point in the campaign where the players were getting a feel for the setting, the story, and their characters.
The planet itself was kind of inconsequential, but it did provide some fun opportunity for lighthearted early game Pokemon catching. Axel wanted to go to a volcanic planet since he loves fire type Pokemon and is running the Fire Ace class, so I told him if he rolled well on a d100 the planet they hid out on would be volcanic since I hadn’t yet implemented my planet generator. He rolled well. It was just a generic volcano planet at the time, but I decided to spice it up a bit for the write up, adding the geothermal valley and such. It made for a much more interesting location for sure.
As for the battle, I threw a bunch of Pokemon at them since it was the first session and they each only had one Pokemon to start, and IR rolled a nat 20 when we were determining who got to roll the d100 to determine what Pokemon showed up. I played around with different writing methods for battles since I’m trying to write each scene from a particular character’s perspective like I started doing with Blueshift and some of the non-session pieces for the original storyline. Sine Axel sort of went and did his own thing during the battle, I showed bits and pieces of what he was doing since it was from Taraka’s point of view and he was preoccupied with the Ponyta. It helped on cutting down some of the extra stuff from the battle and keep the chapter at a decent length.
That’s another thing I’m trying to do with Frontier: make the chapters more concise, focusing on grouping scenes together into chapters in the most logical way instead of trying to group them based on the session. I think it will make for a better narrative flow. So far I think it’s been working. Oh, and I almost forgot to start recording again for the second session, but I remembered at the last second!
Post-Chapter Challenge: Just a simple question this time. If you were just starting a Spacemon campaign and only had your one starter Pokemon, what kind of planet would you want to go to first to start catching Pokemon to round out your team?
That does it for this chapter. As always the Spacemon gang and I will be monitoring the comments to foster discussion and answer any questions. Feel free to give feedback and critiques of the writing so I can improve it for the future, or just leave a comment with what you think about what went down in this chapter or what you think might happen next! You can also revisit past chapters, check out the rest of the Spacemon saga, join the Spacemon Discord server, or like our Facebook page to stay updated on all things Spacemon! Click here for the next exciting installment of Spacemon: Frontier!