May 31, 2023

Dungeons & Dragons, more than possibly any other game, is rife with potential to be mixed with lore and elements from other franchises, and given its endless supply of monsters, Pokémon is a perfect crossover. Being contained only by the creativity of the Dungeon Master means that it is far more flexible than the average game. Most popular franchises involving magic or adventure have probably been involved in a D&D campaign or two, and that includes Pokémon.

As one of the most popular and successful gaming franchises in the world, most people are familiar with Pokémon to some degree. The crossover between Pokémon fans and D&D fans is likely significant, so it’s only natural for one to wonder about ways to combine the two. While certain classes do have access to mounts and familiars, that is a far cry from the adorable yet powerful companions that Pokémon has to offer.
Why More RPGs Should Include D&D Alignments

Through homebrewing some Pokémon-like mechanics into D&D, the two could be combined, provided one is willing to put in some brainstorming work. There are so many creatures of every variety in the average Dungeons & Dragons campaign that there’s never a shortage of different potential pets to choose from, provided a DM is willing to let players capture them. Monstrous pets can provide nearly as much to a campaign in the way of interesting bonds and other storytelling elements as they might mechanically.

Innate Magic Could Let Every D&D Character Bond With A Creature
One of the most obvious ways to incorporate Pokémon-style mechanics is to take D&D’s existing familiar system and tweak it a little. Obviously, the first change would be to grant the ability to everyone rather than only the classes that get it naturally. After all, adding a new, game-defining mechanic doesn’t make sense if some players won’t get to interact with it. In addition, rather than the small percentage of creatures that are available as familiars, the selection should be greatly expanded to include a good amount of animals and monsters.

For the new familiar mechanic, every character might have a natural magical ability to bond with one creature, and that creature would become their partner. Similar to Pokémon’s familiar starter choices, each player could start with one relatively weak monster. Essentially, these creatures could act as secondary characters, sharing their initiative rolls and acting according to their commands in combat. Just like in Pokémon, the partners could level up alongside the players, becoming stronger and hardier over the course of the adventure. The players’ partners could even grow and take new forms once they become strong enough, mirroring the way that Pokémon evolve.

There are several details that the DM can toy with involving this setup. They could have the players fight enemies who have partners of their own, creating a chaotic battlefield. An extra mechanic could let players have multiple partners and switch them as necessary, mimicking the parties that players can build in Pokémon. These partners could provide plenty of D&D campaign roleplaying opportunities, especially since many players already love roleplaying with familiars, so giving everyone the chance to have their own familiars could bring joy to a whole party.

A World Of Pokémon Summoners Would Drastically Change A D&D Campaign
One major aspect of the Pokémon series is that the Pokémon are the only ones who fight, while the trainers never personally do battle themselves. Of course, in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, players will be used to fighting their own battles, so this sort of change may sound difficult to incorporate. However, if the game world is crafted in order to take this into account, it could create a very eclectic adventure.
For this concept, the world’s adventurers are not warriors and mages, but summoners who can call forth and control monsters from beyond the realm. Direct combat is forbidden, and all battle takes place with summoned beasts. Since Strixhaven alone released plenty of new monsters, players should have more than enough options at their disposal. Player levels, rather than affecting their own abilities, would allow the party to summon more powerful monsters for battle. In addition to combat, the DM could also find other obstacles for the players to solve with their summoned creatures. For example, they could summon giant birds to fly themselves over a chasm, or use the strength of summoned trolls to break down a barricaded gate.

Of course, since this would be an entirely new world with a completely different ruleset from most adventures, the DM would need to be specific about the way the rules of the game work. There would likely need to be guidelines around summoning in order to keep the players from becoming too powerful too quickly, or alternately being unable to keep up. This displays why D&D homebrew rules and campaigns should be used with care, to make sure that new ideas can fit comfortably into the game. A good rule of thumb might be that each player can command creatures whose Challenge Rating is equal to or less than their current level. Of course, in order to prevent the game from being bogged down with massive monster swarms from each player, there may need to be a cap on how many creatures each player can have summoned at once.

Players Of A D&D Pokémon Campaign Could Play With A Deck Of Many Monsters
This last concept may remind some of Yu-Gi-Oh, but it has roots in the Pokémon trading card game. For this Pokémon-themed campaign, every player would have a deck of their own, although whether they all have the same decks are up to the DM. Each card would represent a monster that they could summon, and these cards would be the basis of the adventure.

In this uncommon D&D campaign setting, players would each begin with a deck of relatively weak monsters, and they can find more cards through adventuring or in shops around the world. Each card would summon its respective monster, similar to a summon monster spell, but in this case the monsters are creations of the cards themselves. Through using the cards in battle, the monsters would gain experience alongside the player. Once they level up, the player could evolve them into a related, higher-level monster for free, rather than having to fund or buy a new card. This could be a way to reward players for keeping their old cards around.

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In order to keep the game from getting out of hand, each player should be given a card limit. This limit should be six cards, referencing the party size of six in Pokémon, balancing any D&D party and keeping everything manageable. In addition, the DM is encouraged to offer powerful cards as rewards for quests and other tasks. They should be treated as importantly as the players’ weapons and armor. This campaign could be played with cards as the only form of combat, or mixed with regular D&D combat for players who like a chaotic, unpredictable experience in battle.

Pokémon is one of the most successful video game RPGs, and Dungeons & Dragons is the most legendary tabletop RPG. Even if just as an experiment, mixing the two together should be done at least once. A great DM can make almost any concept work, and when it comes to making a great campaign in Dungeons & Dragons, there’s no such thing as being too creative.

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