Tremble, mortals, and despair, for the Second Revised Edition of the Kingslocke Rules has come to this world.
For those wishing to know the history of this most bat$#!t of all Pokémon challenge runs, see the intro to the First Revised Edition, which remains available here. You can see those rules in action in my recently-completed run of Pearl, which inspired the changes in this edition; you can also read the Ur-Rules here. If you want to know more about the Second Revised Edition and my thought process behind some of the changes, scroll down to the second half of this post. If you just want to try playing a Kingslocke, read on…
You will need:
- A Pokémon game
- A deck of tarot cards (or a simulation thereof)
- An observer to the game, willing to occasionally provide custom rules (optional, but recommended)
- Sanity and a willingness to sacrifice it
The basic rules are as follows:
- Every time you enter an area where you expect battles (routes with wild Pokémon, but also gyms, villain bases and other areas that have no wild Pokémon, but do feature enemy trainers), draw a card and do what it tells you to do.
- You’ll have to make some judgement calls about which areas count – do you draw multiple cards for multiple levels of caves, for instance, or for multiple zones of the Wild Area in Sword/Shield? Up to you.
- You may also choose to start drawing cards only once you have Pokéballs.
- When you reach the Elite Four, draw one card before beginning your challenge. If you lose and have to try multiple times, draw another card each time.
- Some cards, when drawn, will tell you to do something immediately (like catching a Pokémon). Others will describe an ongoing rule, which you have to keep following until another card tells you to stop.
- Cards in the Minor Arcana (the four suits of Cups, Wands, Swords and Pentacles, Ace through King) tend to have built-in ending conditions. Usually, if you draw another card of the same value, they cancel out.
- Cards in the Major Arcana normally don’t give you an ending condition. However, only three of these can be active at the same time, on a first-in-first-out basis – if you draw a fourth Major Arcana card with an ongoing rule, the oldest one goes away.
- There are also several cards (like the Tower) that tell you to end rules currently affecting you.
- If a card tells you to catch a Pokémon, but there are no wild Pokémon in the current area, too bad – you miss out this time. If the card has any other effects, those still happen.
- If a card tells you to catch the first Pokémon you see, you may skip Pokémon of species you already own (although there are several reasons you might want duplicates in this challenge).
- Cards that only have immediate effects are shuffled back into the deck after being drawn. Cards that have ongoing effects return to the deck only after their rules are no longer active.
- You may only catch wild Pokémon when a card tells you to, with the following exceptions:
- You are free to use Pokémon you receive from NPCs (e.g. your starter, Pokémon purchased from a Game Corner, Pokémon resurrected from fossils).
- “Static encounter” Pokémon (e.g. Snorlax in Red and Blue, Sudowoodo in Gold and Silver) are also fair game to catch and use.
- Legendary Pokémon are always catchable (this includes both stationary and “roaming” Pokémon). However, they may not be caught using a Master Ball. In addition, when they are first caught, legendary Pokémon are “sealed” and cannot be used, as if you had drawn an Eight and been forced to box them. They must be “unlocked” (e.g. by the Empress, the Sun or the Devil) before you can use them.
- “Shiny” Pokémon are also always catchable. However, this only applies to “full-odds” shiny Pokémon found during the course of normal gameplay (i.e. you can’t get a bunch of extra Pokémon for free by deliberately spending hours searching for shiny ones).
- If a card tells you to “catch the first Pokémon you see” in a Safari Zone-type area, where wild Pokémon of any species will sometimes run away, you may keep trying to catch a Pokémon of the first species you see until you succeed.
- You cannot use TMs unless a card tells you to.
- In games that have HMs, you are always free to use HMs at any time, and a card cannot force you to use an HM.
- If you cannot progress further in the story without an HM and have no usable Pokémon that can learn it, you may temporarily withdraw an “illegal” Pokémon from your PC to navigate the obstacle. You must avoid using this Pokémon in battle if at all possible (send it out against a wild Pokémon and allow it to faint, if you want to be safe).
- As a last resort, if you do not own any Pokémon that can learn the required HM move at all, you may catch one to learn it. Again, you must avoid using this Pokémon in battle if at all possible.
- In games that have move tutors or move reminders, you may use them at any time (provided you can acquire any necessary payment for their services through normal play).
- In games that have HMs, you are always free to use HMs at any time, and a card cannot force you to use an HM.
- If following two or more rules at once is impossible, obey as many as you can, for as long as you can, prioritising the Major Arcana over the Minor (except the Kings, which are special). If there is a conflict between a Ten (which allows a friend or audience member to make up a new rule) and another card from the Minor Arcana, try to prioritise the Ten.
- If you are playing with an audience (e.g. for a live stream), feel free to take any particularly difficult conflicts to a poll.
- If following a card’s instructions would ever leave you with no usable Pokémon, you may catch the first wild Pokémon you see in your current location that is usable under your current restrictions. If there are none, you may retrace your steps back through other areas until you find one.
- However, read the rules for each card carefully before doing this. Some are explicitly written to let you off the hook if following them is impossible with the resources you have (e.g. if you have a Six in play, but you simply don’t own any female or genderless Pokémon, you can use male ones).
The Minor Arcana
At the moment, the four suits – Cups, Wands, Swords and Pentacles – have no significance; cards of the same value do the same thing, regardless of suit. However, beware, for there is rumour whispered in the secret and forgotten places of the world that the Kingslocke Advanced Rules are in development, and that these will include variations on the Minor Arcana rules for each suit.
Ace – Waterfall: You cannot switch Pokémon in battle unless one faints or is forced out of play. When your Pokémon do faint, you must use them in party order. This rule is overwritten if you draw a Nine/Snake Eyes, and ends if you draw another Ace.
- If a Pokémon is forced out of play by a move like Roar, the new Pokémon still may not switch. If it faints, you must return to using Pokémon in party order.
- Pokémon with moves that switch the user out, such as Baton Pass or U-Turn, are free to use them. However, you must switch to the next Pokémon in party order.
Two – You: You may catch one Pokémon of your choice in this area.
Three – Me: You may catch the first wild Pokémon you see in this area.
Four – Elements: Your Pokémon may not use attacks that get a Same-Type Attack Bonus, unless they have no un-STABed damaging moves (note that moves with fixed damage like Dragon Rage and Nightshade do not have STAB). Pokémon in your active party with no un-STABed attacks must learn one as soon as they can (using a TM/TR if you have, or can easily buy, a compatible one). This rule ends if you draw another Four. You may catch the first Pokémon you see in this area that does not share a type with any of your current party Pokémon.
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.
- If you are playing a game that does not have gender (Red/Blue/Yellow), ignore this card and draw another.
Six – Chicks: You cannot use your male Pokémon (unless you have no female or genderless Pokémon). This rule is overwritten by drawing a Five/Guys, and ends if you draw another Six. You may catch the first female wild Pokémon you see in this area.
- If you are playing a game that does not have gender (Red/Blue/Yellow), ignore this card and draw another.
Seven – Lucky Sevens: Draw two more cards and follow the rules for both.
Eight – Mate: Box the Pokémon in your current party that has spent the most time in your active party over the course of the game (this may be a judgement call; if two or more Pokémon have spent roughly equal time in your active party, you may choose one of them). You cannot use that Pokémon again unless another card revokes this rule.
- Optionally, if “time spent in your active party” is too difficult to track, you may use “levels gained since a Pokémon was met/caught” as a proxy to determine who should be boxed. If you wish to use this criterion (or some other objective measure for which Pokémon is your closest partner), you must decide at the beginning of the run, and may not change your mind later.
Nine – Snake Eyes: Immediately box any of your Pokémon that are defeated in battle. They are petrified; you can’t use them again until they are freed. You may free one petrified Pokémon of your choice every time you defeat a gym leader or Elite Four member (or a totem Pokémon or Kahuna in Alola, or a fellow championship contender in Galar). This rule is overwritten by drawing an Ace/Waterfall, and ends if you draw another Nine; once it is gone, no more Pokémon can be petrified, however ones that were already petrified must still wait to be freed.
- If this rule is in effect during an Elite Four challenge or a Galarian championship tournament, you may “bank” victories over earlier opponents in order to free Pokémon petrified later on (e.g. if you defeat Lorelei and Bruno without losses, but then lose your whole team to Agatha, you can choose two of them to recover before your next challenge; if you beat Agatha but lose four Pokémon in the process, you may revive three of them before battling Lance).
Ten – Rule Card: An observer to the game may revoke any or all (or none) of the rules currently affecting you, and either make up a new rule or change an existing one. If no observers are available, you may revoke one rule.
- If the observer makes up a new rule, the Ten remains in play and does not return to the deck until something happens to remove it. If the observer modifies an existing rule, the Ten returns to the deck immediately.
- Once in play, the Ten acts as a normal Minor Arcana card and can be removed by anything that can revoke other rules. Observers cannot add clauses like “this rule cannot be revoked” to their rules (however, other “meta” effects, such as “while this is in play, other rules cannot be revoked,” are allowed).
- No rule can force a player to release a Pokémon.
- Rules that have effects outside the game (e.g. “take a drink every time a Pokémon faints”) are only allowed if the player has agreed to this in advance and set explicit boundaries about what kinds of rules are okay.
Page – Never Have I Ever: Teach all of your current party Pokémon a new move from a TM or TR (if possible, this must be a move that Pokémon has never known in the past). If some of your Pokémon can’t learn any new moves from the TMs you have, do as many as you can.
- You may use an HM to satisfy this card’s requirement that each party member learn a new move, if you want to. However, if an HM move is the only new move available to a Pokémon in your party, this card cannot force you to use it.
- If you are far enough in your game to have access to shops that sell TMs, you may backtrack to visit them before resolving the effects of this card.
Knight – Challenge: Choose one of your current party Pokémon to fight every trainer battle solo until you have won at least five (not counting rematches) and drawn another card. If it ever loses, it is disgraced and must be boxed until another card revokes this rule. If it wins every battle, it becomes your champion and ignores all other rules and restrictions. Either way, drawing another Knight ends all effects of this card and issues a new challenge.
- Pokémon that you are being forced to use by another card (such as Justice) cannot be selected for the Knight’s Challenge.
- A Pokémon that has accepted the Knight’s Challenge may not use moves like Baton Pass that allow the user to switch. If you are forced to switch (e.g. by Roar or Whirlwind), you must switch back to the Pokémon taking the challenge as soon as possible.
- A Pokémon that has accepted the Knight’s Challenge may fight alongside a partner in a double battle without failing the challenge.
- If a Pokémon taking the Knight’s Challenge becomes unusable for unrelated reasons before the challenge ends (e.g. it was a male Pokémon and you draw a Six before fighting five battles), you must choose a new candidate for the challenge and start again.
Queen – A Ship Came Into The Harbour: …carrying a boatload of Pokémon! Keep catching the first Pokémon you see in this area until you have caught enough to fill your party. You may choose to skip Pokémon that you know you would not be able to use (e.g. male Pokémon if you have a Six in play, or Pokémon from the wrong generation if you have Justice in play). If you already have a full party, catch one Pokémon of your choice in this area OR free one petrified Pokémon.
King – Vessel: Choose and box one member of your current team; you may replace it with a new Pokémon of your choice from this area OR free one petrified Pokémon. The boxed team member is placed in the Vessel and cannot be returned to your active party, not even by the effects of other cards. If there are ever four Pokémon in the Vessel, those Pokémon immediately become your new party (your other two party slots remain “free” and can be filled with any other Pokémon that are currently legal). Until you either earn your next badge or defeat the Elite Four, they ignore any cards that would prevent you from using them, and this rule ignores any cards that would revoke it. After that, you must still continue to use as many of your Vessel Pokémon as you can, for as long as you can, but this rule no longer takes special precedence over other cards and can be revoked by other cards (e.g. a Ten/Rule Card, the Empress, the World).
- The Vessel is sacred. No card other than the Kings may interfere with Pokémon in the Vessel, nor may any card other than the Kings add Pokémon to the Vessel.
- Each King is removed from the deck after being drawn and does not return, even after the Vessel is filled.
- When choosing a Pokémon for the Vessel, you can choose one who ignores other rules (e.g. one who has completed the Knight’s Challenge and become your champion), but they will immediately lose their special status. Again, the Vessel is sacred and the Kings trump everything.
The Major Arcana
No more than three ongoing rules from the Major Arcana can be in effect at once. When a fourth rule is applied, the oldest one still ongoing is revoked. The Empress, the Chariot, the Star, the Sun and the World do not have ongoing effects, so they do not count towards this limit.
The Fool: Replace the highest-level Pokémon in your party with the lowest-level Pokémon in your PC that is currently usable. You must use the lower-level one and cannot use the higher-level one. Once their levels become equal, start again with the new highest-level Pokémon in your party and lowest-level usable Pokémon in your PC. Continue until this rule is overwritten.
- When deciding which Pokémon you need to withdraw, only consider Pokémon that are allowed by your other current rules (e.g. if you have a Six in play and your lowest-level Pokémon is male, use your next-lowest). However, once a Pokémon has been designated by the Fool, it ignores any later rule changes that would force you to deposit it, until it reaches its level target.
- If you ever have no usable Pokémon in your PC when this card asks you to withdraw one, its rule ends and the card returns to the deck.
The Magician: Your Pokémon may not use physical attacks, unless they have no special attacks. Pokémon in your active party with no special attacks must learn one as soon as possible (using a TM/TR if you have, or can easily buy, a compatible one). This rule is overwritten if you draw Strength.
The High Priestess: You may not use healing items (including berries), either in or out of battle.
The Empress: Catch the first Pokémon you see in this area OR free one petrified Pokémon, and immediately end one ongoing rule of your choice.
The Emperor: Catch the first Pokémon you see in this area. That Pokémon ignores all other rules until this one is revoked.
The Hierophant: Whenever you heal at a Pokémon Centre or other healing location, you must pay a tithe by buying and immediately throwing away items totalling a certain amount of money. The tithe is equal to the number of badges you have earned (or Alolan trials you have completed) times 1000. If you do not have enough money to pay a tithe, you must sell items in order to pay for it. If you are completely unable to pay a tithe, even by selling items, this rule ends; draw three more cards and return the Hierophant to the deck.
- The Hierophant can only force you to sell items that are purchasable with money (such as medicine, Pokéballs and some TMs) or items that have no purpose aside from being sold (such as nuggets).
- If you receive healing at a remote location and do not have access to a shop, keep track of the number of times you use it and pay all your tithes at the next shop (even if the Hierophant is no longer in effect by the time you get there).
- Tithes are only owed for healing locations that you can visit repeatedly. Characters who heal your party only once (e.g. Lance in the Team Rocket Mahogany hideout) do not incur a tithe.
- If you are accompanied by another character who heals your party automatically after every battle (e.g. Cheryl in Eterna Forest), you only owe a tithe if they revive at least one of your fainted Pokémon.
The Lovers: Your party must consist of opposite-gender pairs of Pokémon that share an egg group. Genderless Pokémon may be paired with a Pokémon of any gender that shares an egg group. If both the Lovers and a Five/Guys or Six/Chicks are in effect, you can form same-gender pairs, but must still pair Pokémon that share an egg group. You may catch one Pokémon of your choice in this area that would form a valid pair with any of the Pokémon that was in your party when you drew this card.
- If you cannot make more than one valid pair with the Pokémon you have, or cannot make any at all, you may include unpaired Pokémon to bring your party up to 3 members.
- If you are playing a game that does not have gender (Red/Blue/Yellow), ignore this card and draw another.
- If you have arranged your Pokémon into same-gender pairs and the effect of the Five/Guys or Six/Chicks ends while the Lovers is still in play, those same-gender pairs remain valid. Those Pokémon are gay now; I don’t make the rules (this was a lie; I literally do make the rules).
The Chariot: You gain two additional “slots” for ongoing rules from Major Arcana cards. Drawing the Chariot multiple times continues to give you more slots.
- These extra card slots are not lost when your ongoing rules are wiped by the Tower or the World, and you cannot remove them using the Empress, but an observer can choose to remove them along with other rules if you draw a 10/Rule Card.
Strength: Your Pokémon may not use special attacks, unless they have no physical attacks. Pokémon in your active party with no physical attacks must learn one as soon as possible (using a TM/TR if you have, or can easily buy, a compatible one). This rule is overwritten if you draw the Magician.
The Hermit: When you draw this card, choose one: your party must not have two Pokémon whose natures increase the same stat, OR your party must not have two Pokémon whose natures decrease the same stat.
- You may always have one, and only one, Pokémon with a “neutral” nature (bashful, serious, quirky, hardy or docile).
- If you are playing a game that does not have natures (Red/Blue/Yellow or Gold/Silver/Crystal), ignore this card and draw another.
The Wheel of Fortune: Spin the wheel! Choose one of the following restrictions at random. Whichever result you get, you cannot change a Pokémon’s nickname while the Wheel of Fortune is in play.
- You cannot use two Pokémon whose nicknames start with the same letter.
- Choose one letter. You may only use Pokémon whose nicknames contain that letter.
- Choose three letters at random. You may not use Pokémon whose nicknames contain any of them.
- You cannot use two Pokémon whose nicknames contain the same number of characters (including spaces, apostrophes, etc.).
- You must use Pokémon whose nicknames all have the same number of syllables.
Justice: Catch one wild Pokémon of each species in this area (counting evolutions as the same species). As long as this card stays in play, you must use as many of those Pokémon as you can without breaking other rules.
- If some of the Pokémon you catch from this card are unusable due to other rules when you first draw Justice, you must take any opportunity to add more of them to your party when those other rules change.
- You only need to catch Pokémon that are practically available to you in the area when you draw Justice. For instance, if an area has water and you do not yet have a fishing rod or the ability to cross water, you do not need to catch water-dwelling Pokémon to satisfy this card. The same goes for Pokémon that only appear in certain seasons in Black/White or Black 2/White 2, or Pokémon that only appear in certain weather conditions in Sword/Shield’s Wild Area. The only exception is Pokémon that are limited to certain phases of the day/night cycle. You may skip these if you are attempting this challenge live for an audience, or for a speedrun; otherwise, you should wait for them.
The Hanged Man: None of your Pokémon may evolve, although you may continue to use Pokémon that have evolved already. You may catch the first unevolved Pokémon you see in this area.
- “Unevolved Pokémon” are Pokémon that are in their lowest possible evolutionary stage as of the current generation (so, e.g., Pikachu is “unevolved” if you are playing Red/Blue/Yellow, but not if you are playing Gold/Silver/Crystal, where it evolves from Pichu). This includes Pokémon that do not evolve at all, such as Tauros.
Death: Immediately box any of your Pokémon that are defeated in battle, just like the effect of Nine/Snake Eyes. They are petrified; you can’t use them again until they are freed. In addition, as long as Death remains in play, no petrified Pokémon may be freed (including ones that were petrified by Snake Eyes), except by the effect of the Sun.
Temperance: You may not use attacks with a base power higher than 80.
The Devil: Catch the first Pokémon you see in this area, then choose a new party of six Pokémon at random from all the Pokémon you own, except for Pokémon in the Vessel. Immediately revoke any ongoing rules that would make this team illegal. As long as this card stays in play, you must use as many of those Pokémon as you can without breaking other rules.
- The Devil can randomly select and free petrified Pokémon, unless Death is in play.
The Tower: Box your entire party. You cannot use any of them until this rule is overwritten. However, all other current rules are revoked. Only petrified Pokémon and Pokémon in the Vessel remain unusable. If you have no other Pokémon, you may catch one of your choice in this area (or the most recent area with wild Pokémon that you visited) OR free a petrified Pokémon.
The Star: You may use any of the following mechanics to acquire one new Pokémon of your choice from any area you have already visited: breeding (any region), the Bug-Catching Contest (Johto), Honey Trees (Sinnoh), Hidden Grottoes (Unova), Island Scan (Alola), Max Raids (Galar).
- If you are playing a game that does not have any of these mechanics, or if you draw this card before you have access to any of them, you may catch one new Pokémon of your choice, by ordinary means, from any area that you have already visited.
The Moon: You may not check information from any reference resources outside the game (e.g. for encounter rates, move lists, area maps or trainer data).
- You may look up information that is strictly necessary in order to comply with other rules (e.g. what the different natures do, if the Hermit is in play, or which Pokémon belong to which egg groups, if the Lovers is in play).
The Sun: All ongoing rules that can force you to box a specific Pokémon (Eight/Mate, Knight/Challenge, the Fool, the Tower or any Ten/Rule Card that forces you to box a Pokémon) are revoked, allowing you to use those Pokémon again. Nine/Snake Eyes and Death are not revoked and can petrify more Pokémon in the future; however, all of your currently petrified Pokémon are freed (overriding the effect of Death).
- Any legendary Pokémon you have captured are “unsealed” by the Sun and can now be used.
- Custom rules created by a Ten/Rule Card are affected by the Sun if they target one or more particular Pokémon, rather than all Pokémon with a certain trait. If you aren’t sure, ask whether a rule that forced you to box one Pokémon would always force you to box a second identical Pokémon as well. If the answer is “no,” the Sun negates it.
Judgement: When you draw this card, choose one: you must use Pokémon that are all from the same generation, OR you must use Pokémon that are all from different generations.
- Your choice of “same generation” or “different generations” is permanent for as long as this card stays in play, but if you choose “same generation” you can later change which generation you want.
- Pokémon with cross-generation evolutions (e.g. Smoochum/Jynx, Murkrow/Honchkrow) can count as belonging to any of them.
- If you are playing a game that only has Pokémon from one generation (Red/Blue/Yellow or Black/White), ignore this card and draw another.
The World: All existing rules from both the Major and Minor Arcana are revoked. Only petrified Pokémon and Pokémon in the Vessel remain unusable. Catch the first Pokémon you see in this area OR free one petrified Pokémon.
Changes and Design Notes
- If it takes you more than one try to defeat the Elite Four, you now have to draw another card each time you attempt it. At the end of my Pearl run I got stuck in a fairly boring loop, and while the specific interaction that created that situation shouldn’t be possible anymore, I can’t rule out other corner cases that might lead to the same thing. Keeping the rules from ever stagnating is the best way to make sure that doesn’t happen.
- Added some more clauses to the section on TMs to clarify what to do if you get stuck on required HMs. Early on in some Pokémon games it’s entirely possible to reach a point in the story where HM moves are required to move any further, but you haven’t drawn any cards that allowed you to catch compatible Pokémon (or maybe you have some, but aren’t currently allowed to use them). In cases like these, you should be allowed to bend the rules temporarily to get around obstacles. The Kingslocke rules are not in the business of disqualifying runs on technicalities.
- Added that move tutors and move reminders are fair game at any time. Except for Sword and Shield’s move reminder,these methods for learning new moves are normally pretty restricted until you’re near the end of the game anyway, so I don’t think there’s any harm in letting you spend your Heart Scales or whatever.
- Added sections about shiny and legendary Pokémon. I wanted legendary Pokémon to be theoretically usable but harder to get, so I decided that you should always be allowed to catch them, but they start off “sealed” and require special intervention from a card (or the audience) to be made usable. Similarly, I wanted it to be clear that the Kingslocke rules will never force you to ignore a shiny Pokémon if one lands in your lap. Shiny Pokémon are the will of Fate, and the Kingslocke serves Fate before any other master. However, attempts to bend Fate to your will are not to be tolerated, so you can’t get a bunch of extra Pokémon by actively “shiny-hunting.”
- Legendary Pokémon have also been added to the description of the Sun, in the list of things that card can “free.”
- Added something on the Safari Zone and how it interacts with cards that let you catch “the first Pokémon you see.” Because Pokémon in Safari Zone areas so often run away, and it’s quite difficult to guarantee a capture, I’m prepared to let you try again on Pokémon of the same species until you get one.
- I actually added this already to the previous version of the rules during my Pearl run, quite early on, but I still think it’s worth pointing out since it wasn’t in the original version: if you ever have no usable Pokémon at all, you are allowed to catch the first usable one you meet. The Kingslocke is happy to torment you and present you with difficult situations, but unlike a Nuzlocke it is not supposed to be possible to truly “lose” this challenge.
- Put in a little statement about priority, saying that if two rules are in conflict, you should try to follow Major Arcana rules before Minor ones, and Tens before other Minor rules. In general, these rules have been written with a “do as much as you can” spirit – for example, cards like the Sixes say that you cannot use male Pokémon, unless you have no female or genderless Pokémon. Similarly, if there is a conflict between two rules you’re trying to follow… just do your best to interpret them in good faith and do whatever’s possible. I promise I won’t get mad.
- Miscellaneous: Added some exceptions for rules that talk about features that aren’t present in some early games – mainly gender in generation I and nature in generations I and II. Basically, if a card refers to a mechanic that your game doesn’t have, you ignore the card and draw another one.
- Ace/Waterfall: I’ve removed the restriction that says you can’t change your party order except at a healing location – to be honest, I think this mostly just encourages you to go back to a Pokémon Centre after every battle, and I find that boring. Not being able to switch in battle is enough of a restriction. I’ve also clarified that, when a Pokémon faints, you cannot choose which one to use next, but must always use the next one in party order; this was always the intent of the rule but I don’t think the previous version of the text expressed it well. Finally, I’ve added some clauses about moves that force switches (like Roar) or allow the user to switch (like Baton Pass). Obviously if you’re forced to switch you can’t be blamed for breaking the rule and shouldn’t be punished for it. Baton Pass and the like are trickier, but assuming limited access to TMs and egg moves (which is a feature of this run), not many Pokémon will actually be able to get these moves, so I kinda like the idea that they should have something special.
- Eight/Mate: I’ve added the option to use the more objective criterion of “levels gained since a Pokémon was met/caught” in place of “time spent in the active party” to determine who should be boxed. I don’t want to change the default version of the rule, because the spirit of the card is that it should take away your closest partner from your current team (and not, say, a Pokémon that you happen to have caught recently at a low level and trained up rapidly). However, if you just don’t want to deal with the headache of tracking how much time each Pokémon has spent with you, I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to use something objective. I’m also not opposed to players coming up with their own objective criteria for deciding which Pokémon is their closest “mate,” as long as that decision is made at the beginning of the run and doesn’t change.
- Nine/Snake Eyes: This rule has been fairly heavily reworked to give it more teeth. The basic spirit of a “temporary Nuzlocke” is retained, and I ultimately decided not to touch the restriction on having an Ace and a Nine in play at the same time (which still seems to me like it would be unfairly brutal). However, instead of all your petrified Pokémon coming back at once when something happens to end the effect of the rule, you have to win them back one at a time by winning milestone battles (I’ve removed the clause that winning a milestone battle automatically throws out the card; it always felt a little out-of-place, and meant that the “power” of this card was heavily dependent on exactly when you drew it). I’ve also added clauses to several other cards that allow them to free petrified Pokémon, if you have any – usually at the cost of giving up an opportunity to catch a new Pokémon. The Nines are a bit tricky, design-wise, because they’re here specifically to add some Nuzlocke flavour to a challenge run that is pointedly not a Nuzlocke. The Kingslocke does not take Pokémon away from you permanently. However, it should be able to take them away for long enough to force you to develop new strategies. I think this rework will strike something closer to the right balance.
- Ten/Rule Card: The most important change here is that I’ve added a clause to explicitly prevent observer rules from saying things like “this rule is permanent/cannot be revoked,” which I feel would be kind of against the spirit of this challenge run, as it’s supposed to be ever-changing. I also added a restriction on observer rules that affect things outside the game – I think these are very much in the spirit of the Kingslocke (which is, after all, loosely based on a drinking game), but the player needs to have established in advance that they’re okay with that. Finally, I’ve clarified that the Ten stays in play if a whole new rule is added, but returns to the deck immediately if another rule is modified.
- Page/Never Have I Ever: Repeated the clause from the general rules that says you can never be forced to use an HM, and added a clarification that you can buy TMs to resolve this card, if you have access to a place that sells them. In addition, and this is not a change, but just something I wanted to talk about here: the clause about not re-learning old moves was written mainly with reusable and purchasable TMs in mind (as well as the theme of “never have I ever”). The Pages are meant to sometimes force you to give your Pokémon weird or non-optimal moves, and the impact of that is blunted if you can just keep switching back and forth between the same two fairly good TM moves.
- Knight/Challenge: The main change I’ve made here is to have the Knight’s Challenge continue until you have won five battles and drawn another card. This way, the Knight still gets to do something if you draw it in an area with no trainers, but if you draw it in an area with a lot of trainers, you still have to fight all of them. Because this means the Knight’s Challenge can now take place over multiple areas, I’ve also had to add a contingency for what happens if the Pokémon taking the challenge becomes unusable for unrelated reasons before the challenge ends – you pick a new challenger and start again. The other important change is closing “the Effie loophole.” Basically, I realised during my Pearl run that, if you have a Pokémon another card (probably Justice or the Devil) is forcing you to use, you can have that Pokémon take the Knight’s Challenge. If they win and become your champion, they can ignore the rule forcing you to use them. If they lose and become disgraced, the Knight will force you to box them (the cards that force you to use specific Pokémon explicitly allow other cards to take precedence over them, so this works even though they’re both Major Arcana and the Knight is Minor). Although this kind of rules-lawyering is honestly kind of in the spirit of the Kingslocke, I thought that the Knight’s Challenge should always involve risk, so I’ve written that “forced” party members can’t take the challenge. I’ve also added some rulings for how to deal with common situations like forced switches and double battles.
- Queen/A Ship Came Into the Harbour: The purpose of the Queens is to help you fill up your team early on, when you may not have very many Pokémon or may only have two or three that comply with your other rules. That’s why I’ve added a clause allowing you to skip Pokémon that you know will be illegal (the reason it’s written that way is because there are some rules you won’t be able to check for until after catching a Pokémon, mainly the Hermit). On the other hand, I don’t think it’s necessary for the Queens to keep giving you multiple Pokémon when you already have plenty, so instead of telling you to always catch at least three Pokémon, the Queens will now let you catch just one of your choice if your party is full.
- King/Vessel: I don’t think I’ve actually changed anything here, but I’ve added some more detail on how the rules work for the party that you receive when the Vessel is filled, as well as some extra caveats about the special status of the Kings compared to all the other cards in the deck.
- The Fool: The effect of the Fool now “chains” – once you have completed its effect by raising your lowest level Pokémon to be equal to your highest, you start again with your new highest and lowest level Pokémon. The old version of the Fool felt like it didn’t do enough for a Major Arcana card and was too easy to resolve quickly. The new version will follow you for much longer, especially late in the game when you have a lot of Pokémon. I’ve also added a ruling on what to do with rule clashes involving the Fool: unlike other cards that force you to use specific Pokémon (Justice, the Devil), the Fool overrides other rules about which Pokémon you are allowed to use. Those other cards can force several Pokémon on you at once, and their lists are fixed when you draw the card and don’t change. The Fool only ever forces one at a time, and can change which one it is, so I’ve allowed its effect to be stronger.
- The Hierophant: The original version of the Hierophant was a bastard, much more of a bastard than its counterpart card, the High Priestess. I knew it was a bastard when I wrote it, but what I didn’t quite anticipate was that there would be corner cases in which it became not only more of a bastard, but also a really awkward and confusing bastard. Pokémon’s game design is so fundamentally built around the assumption of free and easy access to out-of-battle healing that writing a rule which says “you can’t use Pokémon Centres” inherently creates a balance nightmare and is always going to lead to situations where it’s just not clear what the player is supposed to do. At the same time, though, I knew when I wrote the original rules that I wanted the High Priestess to disable healing items, and that I wanted the Hierophant to be some kind of opposite or counterpart to her, which had to mean some kind of restriction on Pokémon Centres. Eventually, I decided that the Hierophant would require you to pay a tithe every time you healed. I had to figure out a bunch of other corner cases for this one as well, and it probably becomes a bit of a softball rule in generations VI+ (where you tend to have a lot of extra money available for character customisation), but I don’t think there’s much I can do about that. Because the new version of the Hierophant is less powerful, it’s also no longer mutually exclusive with the High Priestess – both can be in play at the same time.
- The Lovers: Allowed the Lovers to cut you a little slack if you can’t make any valid pairs at all: you can add unpaired Pokémon to fill your party up to 3. Also I added some additional support for gay Pokémon. Because obviously I did.
- The Hermit: During the course of my Pearl run, readers came up with two variants of the original Hermit rule that I liked so much I’m making them official, and getting rid of the old version. Instead of checking for natures that match exactly, the Hermit now checks for natures that increase or decrease the same stat (you choose which when you draw the card).
- The Wheel of Fortune: The old version of the Wheel made sense and had a decent link to the card’s divinatory meaning of cycles, change and turning points. But it was so boring for a Major Arcana card, and it felt very similar to the old version of the Fool, so I decided to scrap it completely. The new version seemed like a good way to explore a space that wasn’t previously part of the official Kingslocke rules (but has come up before in personal runs through observer rules): nickname restrictions. Thematically, the idea that you can “spin the wheel” was a good justification for having several possible nickname restrictions and choosing randomly between them, which makes it harder for a player to pick all their nicknames “strategically” just in case they draw this card.
- Justice: Added some rulings on what to do if you draw this card in an area where there are some Pokémon you can’t catch yet (e.g. if you draw it in a water area and you don’t have Surf yet).
- The Hanged Man: Added clarification about what “unevolved” means, just in case there is debate re: cross-generation evolutions.
- Death: Death was a tricky card for me from the beginning. The very first ur-version of the Kingslocke used a normal deck of playing cards, with no Major Arcana, and I created the Snake Eyes rule for the Nines because the Nuzlocke is such an iconic challenge run that I had to include a “Nuzlocke lite” as an effect of one of the cards. When I switched over to a tarot deck and added rules for all the Major Arcana cards, it was obvious that Death had to be “the Nuzlocke card,” but I also didn’t want the Nuzlocke effect to be something that only came up on one card out of a deck of 78. Thus, we get the version where Death and Snake Eyes did basically the same thing, but worked slightly differently because one was a Major card and the other was Minor. Death was slightly nastier because it could coexist with Waterfall, which Snake Eyes couldn’t, but there wasn’t really anything about the rule itself to make it more interesting or powerful. I’m still not totally happy with the new Death and I don’t know if this is the final final version of the rule, but the new mechanics for Snake Eyes, where petrified Pokémon come back one at a time, at least suggested an obvious way for Death to be more powerful: it actually stops petrified Pokémon from coming back, until you get rid of the card somehow.
- Temperance: No change to the rule, but I wanted to make an explanatory note here. Most of the rules that restrict which moves you can use (Four/Elements, the Magician, Strength) include a clause that exempts Pokémon who have no legal attacks (but requires them to learn a legal attack if they ever get a chance). That clause is there to stop these rules from screwing you over if you draw them so early in the game that you have no Pokémon with any legal attacks at all. Temperance does not have this clause; if one of your Pokémon has no attacks with a base power of 80 or less, it just can’t use its direct-damage attacks. By the time you reach a point in the game where it’s even possible to have a Pokémon with a moveset like that, you should have other options available.
- The Devil: No actual changes to the card itself, but some rulings on how it interacts with the new mechanics for Snake Eyes and Death.
- The Star: The old version of the Star was both very powerful and quite boring; it guarantees you three new Pokémon, even if you draw it in an area that has no wild Pokémon. After drawing the Star twice in my Pearl run, I felt like it could be toned down a bit. This also presented me with a solution to an unrelated problem: I’d been looking for a way to allow non-standard ways of acquiring new Pokémon, like breeding, which don’t fit neatly into a format that tells you to do things like “catch the first Pokémon in this area.” So now, the Star does that – you can take a break from whatever else you were doing and go back to any area you’ve already been in order to hatch an egg, or take part in a Bug Catching Contest, or smear honey on some trees, or hunt down a Pokémon with the Alolan Island Scan, or really anything else. If there’s any other special way you can catch a wild Pokémon that I haven’t thought of, or even if you’re reading this after the release of generation IX and there’s some new way of catching wild Pokémon that doesn’t exist yet, then yes, the Star allows you to do that.
- The Moon: The rule for the Moon now includes an exception that allows you to check information that you need in order to comply with other rules. If you draw Justice and you don’t actually know which Pokémon are available in an area, you won’t know when you’ve satisfied the card’s instruction to catch one of each.
- The Sun: I’ve changed the phrasing of the Sun and added some guidelines for how it interacts with custom rules, but haven’t changed what the card actually does. I think the changes to Snake Eyes and Death make the Sun significantly more powerful, though, since the ability to free all your petrified Pokémon at once is now unique to this card, and it specifically overrules Death’s ability to keep petrified Pokémon from being freed.
- The World: The World still wipes all rules, but it now doesn’t automatically free petrified Pokémon (although you can get one back by forgoing the capture opportunity it gives you). Partly this is in deference to the way the new versions of Death and Snake Eyes work – getting rid of the cards in any other way (e.g. using the Empress) doesn’t immediately free petrified Pokémon either – and partly it’s to preserve the uniqueness of the Sun, which does free all of your petrified Pokémon at once.