Introduction - The Trials
In earlier ages, the great Heroes of Helos were often handpicked by the gods and set against Trials: Perseus and the Gorgon, Bellerophon and the Chimera, Odysseus's great journey, and so on. As the region settles into a long period of relative peace, there are a great many would-be Heroes and far fewer Trials to go around, so the Olympians have devised a method of weeding through mortals to find those worthy of their attention. This challenge is known colloquially as the Hero's Journey, and involves numerous tests of might, valor, and guile across the islands of the region. Major temples, one per city state, offer Trials orchestrated by the gods themselves where challengers prove their mettle. Each new challenger's Journey starts on the New Year, and the Trials may be undertaken in any order. Failed Trials may be challenged again once the Hero has successfully completed any two other Trials - legend suggests that failing all twelve Trials in a row leads to its own unfortunate fate courtesy of capricious gods whose time has been wasted. Completing Trials is a difficult feat that raises a challengers's status, making it an attractive option to lowborn climbers, nor is it uncommon for high-ranking individuals and head priests to have a few Trials under their belt. However, clearing all the Trials is such a rare accomplishment that it earns mortals the full attention of the gods. The final reward is said to be anything the challenger desires; for most, this is wealth and prosperity, but some suggest Herakles rose to godhood, and Orpheus's reward was the rescue of his beloved Eurydice from the Underworld. Considering the difficult of the Journey and the Trials, many Heroes opt to form small bands of like-minded challengers, like the famous Trojan War Heroes before them. Ultimately, the Hero's Journey is a path to fame, fortune, and power that only a few see to the end.
But you can, right?
Campaign Content, Theme, and Setting Summary
- The campaign is set in Helos, an archipelago of loosely united city states with a mythic Greece, swords and sandals fantasy flavor. Magic exists, as do professional magicians. Alchemy, aura, the elemental forces, and still stranger sources of magical power are all topics of study at various universities. Most great Heroes are assumed to have some skill with magic or to benefit from a direct, divine blessing. The last great war in the region has passed into legend and Helos is at 'peace', which means the city states squabble among themselves with minor wars and land disputes.
- The region's deities are the Olympians, and they are quite real and still rather active in the day to day lives of their worshipers. People light their hearths in honor of Hestia, they pray to Poseidon for calm seas as they go out to fish, and they thank the mother Demeter when the harvest is good. Of course, the Olympians are well known for being petty, mischievous, greedy, and generally unpredictable, so polite veneration is considered a standard across the islands. The myths surrounding the Olympians are true - or true enough.
- Nearby regions include Babylos, Kardagos, Ptolemos, and Roma, analogous to ancient Persia, Carthage, Egypt, and Rome respectively. The faraway region of Zong (China) is known, but primarily through long trade routes. Various distant barbarian peoples infest the regions north of Helos, but they are considered a far-off nuisance. Players are encouraged to not use this as an excuse to play a displaced samurai, but to instead consider that Helos does not exist in a vacuum and had similar foreign relations as ancient Greece.
- Pokemon are the animals of the setting, but their lineage as direct descendants of the first animals hand-created by the Titans means they are inherently creatures of magic. While the word 'Pokemon' isn't used, the word 'monster' is interchangeable with 'animal', albeit often with different connotations. Particularly vicious, powerful, or otherwise unusual creatures may be elevated to 'Fiend' status; these creatures are often touched by the gods, and several are the subject of myth and legend.
- Pokeballs are replaced wholesale by Monster Gems (MonGems), which are functionally identical. These carved pieces of gem stone are engraved and cut with various magical symbols. When used against a wild animal, Monster Gems rearrange the magical energy suffusing the creature's body, binding it to the gem and trapping them within. While in a Gem, monsters are kept in a still stasis. With proper training, Monster Gems can be wielded and the animals inside trained by human masters. Monsters are commonly used for labor or for companionship, but training them for combat is reserved mostly for guards, soldiers, hunters, criminals, royalty, and, of course, would-be Heroes.
- Humans are not the only sapient residents of Helos, just the most numerous and civilized by far. Nymphs, naiads, satyrs, centaurs, and other folk live across the region, typically hidden from human settlements, and often in the company or service of a minor deity. These non-human people are pointedly not affected by the capturing effects of Monster Gems, and can in turn use Monster Gems on actual monsters the way any human might.
- Players should expect a lot of sailing, adventure, bickering city states, irresponsible deities, and cute boys in togas as they travel around the region looking to complete the Hero's Journey.
Character Creation and House Rules
- Minimum generation is Trainer Level 5 with two Pokemon at Level 10 each, plus 5000 cash, a simple weapon, and any single feat/edge-required item
- Players should feel free to have larger than life concepts and backstories, in fitting with the tone of Epic Fantasy. GoT, Porygon, and Blessed/Damned content is available - some of it may require tweaking, particularly anything related to Gen 7 content
- House Rule: No Base Stat Relations - Pokemon do not have to obey Base Stat Relations (and Attack Conflict does not exist)
- House Rule: Gestalt Trainers - Game will be playtesting gestalt rules, creating high-powered characters competent both in Pokesupport and Trainer Combat by default
- Helos has its own Pantheon. Keep in mind that the region is pantheistic, so even devotees of one temple or cult recognize other deities in the Pantheon, and the region is stuffed with minor local deities. Direct worship of the Titans is fringe and generally frowned upon.
Links and Other Info
Helos Region Map
Session 00: You Can (Not) Reroll