A tabletop RPG Affectionate Parody of both Pokémon and the Cthulhu Mythos. Created in 2000 by S. John Ross and John Kovalic (whose art may seem oddly familiar), Pokethulhu consists of a 30-page sourcebook which contains brief instructions for creating player characters (known as Cultists) and Pokethulhu (also known simply as "thulhu"), as well as a simple battle system, a few campaign ideas and a sample adventure.
Pokethulhu takes as its central conceit the existence of a fictional television show by the same name (as seen on the Lovecraft Network). Players step into the role of Cultists, venturing out into the world with a Pokenomicon and a handful of Shining Dodecahedrons in order to tame and train the mysterious and powerful creatures that give the game its name. Along the way, they might foil the plots of Team Eibon, or discover the secrets of the Nameless City, or even meet Pokethulhu of legendary and unimaginable power (although this is considerably more dangerous than in the more kid-friendly original).
It is mostly a Deconstructive Parody, using its two subject as an enlightening answer to each other: eldritch knowledge is mostly going to interest kids with too much time on their hands, while from the point of view of adults youngsters traveling around to fight with monsters form a hostile and sinister counterculture.
Ia, Pikathulhu fhtagn!
This work contains examples of:
- Action Initiative: Wild thulhu always attack first. When two trainers face off, they engage in a trash-talking contest to see who goes first.
- Adults Are Useless: Most adults are terrified of the thulhu and spend their lives hiding out in small fishing towns. Then there are the others...
- Alien Geometries: The realm of Non-Euclidian aspect Pokethulhu.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: The sourcebook has a number of useless (but hilarious) trivia boxes, providing you with flavorful information, such as how Hastursaur becomes enraged if anybody else speaks his name.
- Artifact of Death: The sample scenario involves a special green dodecahedron that, if used too much, will call down the wrath of the Storm Demons on the user (and everybody else in the area).
- Black Comedy: There's a Chaos card triggered by quoting an in-show suicide intervention, and another triggered by the "Bloated Corpse joke".
- Captured Super-Entity: Of the "Did you just capture Cthulhu?" variety.
- Counter-Attack: "Dodge" attacks heal damage by retroactively determining that your thulhu partially or completely dodged it. Roll well enough and you get to launch an attack of your own for free.
- Defeat Means Friendship: One of the two major ways of aquiring new thulhu (the other, taking its cue from Lovecraft, is to summon them).
- The Dreaded: Every thulhu has a "Frighten" move that has a chance (low or zero at first, then higher as the opposing thulhu becomes more injured) of automatic victory. Usually played tongue-in-cheek.
- Duels Decide Everything: Surprisingly averted; unlike in Pokemon, there are mechanics in place for humans to fight each other, or even for humans to fight thulhu.
- Elemental Powers: Carried over from Pokemon, but with a Lovecraftian flavor. They are:
- Decomposing (undead or just smelly)
- Fishy (unnatural beings of the water)
- Fungous (soft and squshy)
- Icy (obvious)
- Luminescent (energy-based powers)
- Non-Euclidian (capable of bending time and space)
- Squamous (scaly and slithery)
- Sticky (gooey, slimey, or "tentacular")
- Expy: For all the major characters and aspects of either parent universe.
- Free-Range Children: The bulk of Cultists are children, and they travel wherever they want. Justified in that everybody over high school age is either utterly terrified of the thulhu or have gone completely insane from prolonged exposure to them.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: If you are an adult and you still use thulhu, you are insane. No exceptions.
- Gotta Catch Them All: Right there on the cover: "Gotta catch you all." (Wait, what?)
- Glass Cannon: The result when you create a thulhu with low HP and high Power.
- An Ice Person: Any Cultist who takes Icy as their Aspect.
- Inexplicably Identical Individuals: Like the Nurse Joys and Officer Jennies of the Pokémon anime, identical girls named Librarian Lumli work in every Cult Library.
- Insanity Immunity: A few adults manage to overcome their crippling fear of thulhu... by going completely insane. (They're implied to be Cloud Cuckoolanders at best, Ax-Crazy at worst.)
- Level Grinding: More like level rolling; after a certain amount of training, a cultist can make a Pokethulhu Lore check to increase their thulhu's abilities.
- Light Is Not Good: Luminescent aspect thulhu are described with the ominous phrase "strange energies."
- Lightning Bruiser: Any thulhu with both high Power and Speed (although the lack of points left over for HP would probably leave it as a Glass Cannon).
- Mighty Glacier: Any thulhu with high Power and low Speed.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: Pokémon + Cthulhu Mythos entity = Pokethulhu. Some examples include Pikathulhu (Pikachu + Cthulhu), Hastursaur (Bulbasaur + Hastur), and Dagong (Dewgong + Dagon).
- The Movie: In-universe example, in which the main characters of the TV show battle the threat of K'thu-too.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: If you break the rules, the GM is explicitly permitted to kill you. It does caution that you check the local laws before incorporating murder, though.
- Non-Lethal K.O.: Even for humans, running out of HP merely causes the character to faint. However, this leaves them defenseless, so they "may be eaten by wild thulhu or ill-mannered friends".
- No Pronunciation Guide: Any thulhu named after something from the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Party in My Pocket: When not being called upon, the players' thulhu are stored in "Shining Dodecahedrons" (both a Expy for the Pokeball and the Shining Trapezohedron from The Haunter In The Dark and a tongue-in-cheek reference to the d12 dice that the system uses).
- Plant Aliens: Fungous aspect thulhu.
- Power Perversion Potential: Pikathulhu's "Trap" ability is "Adorable Pose." His "Frighten" ability is "Adorable Cheesecake Pose."
- Replacement Goldfish: At one point, the sample scenario instructs you to auto-kill one of your players' thulhu, then recommends giving them the opportunity to catch a replacement in the aftermath.
- Schrödinger's Gun: The sample adventure involves the players "choosing between four houses for shelter". The book explicitly says that no matter which house the party chooses, it will be the one which contains the plot devices.
- Sealed Evil In A Dodecahedron: Once captured, thulhu become are sealed away in your Shining Dodecahedrons until you summon them again.
- Shout-Out: Multiple, to both parent sources. And Scooby-Doo.
- Sliding Scale of Turn Realism: Turn by Turn. However, some mechanics (specifically Dodge) can Retcon your opponent's last turn instead of having something happen on your own turn.
- Stone Wall: Any thulhu with high HP and low Power and/or Speed.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: The
- The Undead: One of the varieties of Decomposing aspect Pokethulhu.