It started with an illustration by John Kovalic, creator of Dork Tower, a comic book that satirizes the gaming (RPG/CCG) industry. This illustration, or portrait, if you will, was an image of a portly, yellow, winged, tentacled, pocket-monster of the Outer Gods, with the tagline “Gotta catch you all!”. A t-shirt was printed, and it sold out at some con or another, which was interpreted as an indication that “the stars were SO right” for the release of a more or less full-fledged genre RPG.
The result is a game of gladiatorial combat between eldritch horrors, and more bad puns than the Collect Call of Cthulhu. I’ve played the RPG a couple of times now, and nearly wet myself laughing.
Players take on the role of grade-school pokethulhu cultists. A young cultist has an affinity for one type of pokethulhu (decomposing, non-Euclidean, or squamous, among others). The cultist is also rated in a small number of skill areas: grade level, phys ed, talking trash, shoplifting, and pokethulhu lore. Cultists walk from town to town, meet people, get in adventures, capturing and training pokethulhu, with the ultimate goal of becoming a Pokethulhu Master before they grow up and become deathly afraid of their horrifying "pets".
All skill checks are resolved on a twelve sided die, as dodecahedron have pentagonal faces. A successful roll is lower than the cultist’s relevant skill rating. Varying the number of dice rolled allows for gradation of difficulty: one die represents a very difficult task; three dice, a task only somewhat tricky.
With the release of Cute and Fuzzy Cockfighting Seizure Monsters from the creators of Big Eyes, Small Mouth, there are now two genre RPGs that parody the pokemon phenomenon. Well, perhaps the people at BESM are a little more serious.