Kingslocke things

So I finished work a little while ago on the Third Revised Edition of the Kingslocke rules, the latest refinement of the diabolical instrument I have created to bring elemental Chaos screaming into the world at the behest of the Dark Forces from Parts Unknown whose will I ultimately serve. And I am a little bit wary of doing more Kingslocke stuff, because it has been a fairly significant chunk of my output lately and I can imagine it might be getting boring, but I’d like to solicit some feedback on that (besides, I also want to finish the prophesied Advanced Rules, the version that will give different rules to the four suits of the Minor Arcana). I have ideas in my head for other things I want to write, but the trouble is, one of those things is my PhD thesis, which I need to have more or less complete by the end of this year, and right now I don’t want to commit to anything big or interesting that I know I’ll probably just have to abandon in a month or two because I need to crunch out a chapter. Writing up playthroughs at a leisurely pace is at least relatively low-effort.

I’ve had some support expressed on Patreon for doing a run of Heart Gold/Soul Silver, which would be fun; I have a lot of nostalgia investment in those particular games. I’d also like to see how the Kingslocke plays in gen VIII, which I still haven’t tried, or even go back further and test it in gen I or II; really there’s a lot of options here. The other thing on my mind is how I want to handle publishing the Advanced Rules. I actually have a complete draft of them already, and I’ve been doing an undocumented run of X to test them, but I definitely think they still need some balance patches, and even on a conceptual level I’m not 100% committed to whether the Advanced Rules should be harder or just more complicated. What had occurred to me as something that might be fun was to start a run without actually publishing the new ruleset and then reveal what all the cards do as they appear. All the new card effects in the Advanced Rules are variations on the standard effects of the Minor Arcana in the Third Revised Edition, so stuff wouldn’t come completely out of nowhere, but there’d be some interesting surprises, I hope.

To recap: are people feeling bored of this Kingslocke nonsense? If not, which game would be fun for me to play next? And how does that plan for the Advanced Rules sound?

Kingslocke Rules: Third Revised Edition

Welcome once again, trainers, to what I think I can confidently say is the dumbest and most convoluted Pokémon challenge run on the internet.  And that’s a Pokémaniacal guarantee: if you think you can find one that’s worse, show it to me and I’ll think of a way to make this one even stupider.  This thing is already based on a tarot deck and the rules to a complicated drinking game; do you think I’m afraid to somehow blend it with strip poker, Japanese chess and Mornington Crescent?  Try me, I fµ¢£ing dare you.

Welcome… to the Kingslocke.

This is the Third Revised Edition of the rules, which incorporates changes inspired by my recent run of Black 2 and the simultaneous runs of Black 2 and White 2 by Josh and Tanner of the EXP. Share podcast.  The changes in this edition are mostly aimed at making the rules smoother, more consistent and easier to understand: I’ve tried to present the most important information first, use more keywords with consistent meanings, and make the whole package less intimidating and easier to navigate using collapsible sections and clickable links.  However, there are also some “balance” changes and several new rulings for corner cases.  Design notes and commentary on the changes will be available soon; if you’re interested in the Kingslocke’s history and design, you can also look at the First and Second Revised Editions, the Ur-Rules and my fully documented runs of Pearl and Black 2.  If you just want to play this ridiculous thing… read on.

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Reviewing Sapphosian Pokémon From “Ephemerald”

Okay, I’ve had some time with this hack I mentioned a little while ago, I’ve played it, I’ve finished it, I’ve become possibly the first person in the world to legitimately complete the Pokédex (I was the first person known to the creator, at any rate), so I think I’m in a good position to talk about some of the Pokémon designs a bit.

In case you’re just now joining us, or need a reminder, Ephemerald is a ROM hack of Emerald where almost every Pokémon has been redesigned and had its type changed.  The result is a bizzarro alternate-universe version of the classic Hoenn region experience, featuring “Sapphosian” forms of every Pokémon from generations I-III, crammed into a single region.  All the dual-types are unique and every possible combination is covered, but there are multiple single-typed Pokémon of each type.  Because this is generation III, attacks are classed as physical or special based on their type, rather than individually; for this reason, a lot of Sapphosian Pokémon have had their usual attack and special attack stats flipped to whatever suits their new type and movepool best (a courtesy that was not always given to officially designed Pokémon pre-gen IV).  There are also a couple of changes to the type chart balance, a heightened level curve, smarter movesets on most bosses and a couple of fun little extras here and there (although the story and most of the dialogue are basically untouched).

Anyway.  I can’t, and frankly don’t want to, discuss every last one of Ephemerald’s 382 redesigns, so I’m going to get a random number generator to pick ten of them, and hopefully this will serve as a rough barometer of How Good, collectively, all the Sapphosian Pokémon are.  I propose we tackle this enterprise as a field test of a perfect new rating system for Pokémon that came to me in a dream.  This system is based around five key attributes that were revealed to me through mystical channels as the cornerstones of good Pokémon design.  These are:

  • Cunning
  • Mystique
  • Disco
  • Chewiness
  • Curiousness

All of which are, I think, self-explanatory.

I will also mention a sixth attribute of each Pokémon, which is not part of what makes a Pokémon good but is very important anyway, and that is how much Respect I have for it.  Thus, we shall arrive at ultimate Truth.

So, let’s fire up the numberationer and get started! Obviously, do not read on if you wish to play this hack unspoiled.

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Wanna see some wild $#!t? Try this Emerald ROM hack

Long-time Friend of the Blog and expert spicy-take-haver Shibarianne has just finished and released her magnum opus: Pokémon Ephemerald, a ROM hack of Emerald with retyped and redesigned Sapphosian forms of every Pokémon (…minus Deoxys, Unown, Castform and Spinda, because apparently their multiple forms are coded into the gen III games in a way that makes them an absolute nightmare to do anything fun or interesting with).

Every last one of these bizarre fµ¢£ers has a new type, and apparently every possible combination of the 17 types is represented (17, not 18: Ephemerald is still gen III; it does not add the Fairy type, or import any other fundamental mechanical changes from generation IV+). Not only that, every Pokémon is obtainable; Shibarianne has found spots in the Hoenn region for all three-hundred-and-whatever, and crafted special areas and events for the legendary Pokémon that aren’t in vanilla Emerald. I believe the plot of Emerald is unchanged, but there are also several optional bonus bosses, a reworked difficulty curve and a little type rebalancing.

Also I know that at least one of my Pokémon suggestions made it into the game, so you should play it just for that.

More information and a download link can be found here. As is standard for ROM hacks, the download is a .ups file, which contains instructions for patching a standard Emerald .gba file, so you’ll also need a program that can read those instructions and apply the patch (Shibarianne recommends Tsukuyomi, Lunar IPS, or UpSet for Windows users; for Mac, I have found success with MultiPatch), as well as a vanilla Emerald ROM and an emulator that can run it; Google can help you find all of these.

I think I’m going to write some more about this, while/after playing it, but I’m not sure what exactly (if for some reason you have strong opinions, leave a comment!). Maybe short-form reviews of the redesigns for a couple of my favourite Pokémon. Maybe some commentary on how the difficulty curve feels, or some of the boss fights like gym leaders? We’ll see.

Open Discussion Topic 3: Return of the Jedi King to the Last Crusade of Azkaban: With a Vengeance

Y’know, we’ve hit the biggest, most important questions already now – whether it would be a good idea to make Pokémon real, and what Pokémon’s core themes are.  Since I’ve so recklessly squandered this format’s potential by clearing up the grandest conceivable questions in the first two instalments (and, in so doing, settled those questions in perpetuity and throughout the universe), I’d like to move on, for the third One of These Things, to something much more detail-oriented.

How do all the “genderless” Pokémon work?

Pokémon that are “genderless”/“gender-unknown” presumably must reproduce, because they don’t all immediately go extinct as species.  Some of them might just be functionally immortal, but I have to imagine that most of them reproduce in some way that (for whatever reason) we just don’t see in the “day-care” environments we have in the games, some way that’s different from whatever the “standard” male/female Pokémon are doing.  For instance, I like to think that Magneton reproduce by fission – that at the end of its life a Magneton will break down into several Magnemite, and there is some chance of either a new Magneton forming from fewer than three Magnemite or an old Magneton breaking down into more than three, such that their population can gradually increase to make up the difference when some of them inevitably explode or get eaten by bears.

What can you come up with?  What’s a “genderless” Pokémon that you think might reproduce in an interesting way?  Or (related) what do you think “gender-unknown” might really mean for some of those species (3+ genders that don’t neatly map to male/female?  Fluid gender?  Truly genderless?)?

[EDIT: I should clarify here I’m using the word “gender” because that’s the games’ word for the property that seems to dictate which Pokémon can successfully breed with each other, which is… eh… let’s just try to overlook the obvious issues there.]

Black 2 Kingslocke: Epilogue

I’ve bested my own creation and conquered the Black 2 Kingslocke run, but what of our heroes?  There are a lot of them, after all; the point of the Kingslocke is very much that you never know who you’re going to end up relying on.  Even those Pokémon who never actually saw battle or got to contribute anything are part of this story; let’s hear from them first.

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Discussion Roundup: What is Pokémon About?

All right, we had another One of These Things, and an appropriate Arbitrary Duration has passed, so here’s what I think of what people said in response to my dumb question: what is Pokémon “about”?  Part of the point of this one was I didn’t even know, necessarily, exactly how people were going to take the question; there’s several different ways you could reasonably have interpreted what I was asking, so there’s a lot in there, and I’ve almost certainly missed some good angles that came up in the comments.  Still, I’ll do my best to hit most of what we came up with and what I think of it.

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Black 2 Kingslocke: Episode 14

Okay!  Final hurdle!  Can we beat the postgame Unova Elite Four with… uh… female Pokémon from different generations whose nicknames contain the letter A, with only physical attacks, and also we have to use Pokémon from the Vessel or the Twist Mountain Justice League if we can, but also Pokémon who are exactly level 69 (nice) can ignore all of that and do whatever they want, and also Gliscor is here.

…I truly cannot express how proud I am of how fµ¢£ing stupid this challenge run is.  It is everything I ever dreamed it would be.

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Black 2 Kingslocke: Episode 13

Okay!  Let’s see if we can clean up everything else today!  We just need to check out the area around Accumula Town and Nuvema Town, there’s like two or three more end-game bosses to fight, then we can head straight back to the Elite Four and hopefully leverage the mystical power of the number 69 (nice) to overcome all these confusing bull$#!t rules I’ve forced on myself to defeat them once and for all!

First of all, we’re done with Striaton City and moving on to the south.

Five – Guys: You cannot use your female Pokémon (unless you have no male or genderless Pokémon).  This rule is overwritten by drawing a Six/Chicks, and ends if you draw another Five.  You may catch the first male wild Pokémon you see in this area.

Well.  Whoops. I guess we’re not smashing the Patratriarchy after all.  Time to figure all this out again…

Continue reading “Black 2 Kingslocke: Episode 13”