Larry asks:

How much of the way our experience with “a pokémon trainer is you!” was based on the background we picked for our character? Obviously, there were the story beats with us doing ranger/biologist work besides training.

But I’m assuming that our capacity to find Pokémon that you usually only see in Kanto under special conditions (The Hoenn Radio In Soulsilver) is because our scientist background lets us examine the environment better? And our compassion is the reason we’ve had your first non-misanthrope character. I assume even if we weren’t a big battling fan we’d still know most, if not all, type matchups though? (The games and the anime pretending 10-year olds wouldn’t know that ground is immune to electric is just… the worst worldbuilding I’ve seen.. ever? )

Uh, but tangent aside- I meant to ask you about what you would do with each specialty! “Swords” seemed weird as fuck and I’m confused, but I’m pretty interested in Athlete- would that let us basically be our own HM pokémon?

[Before saying anything else: I do want to bring this back, but things are… well, crazy right now, as I think most people have probably noticed.  When I do, it will probably be a two-week schedule rather than every week, because that was taking too much time away from articles.]

[…what is my life]

But yeah, the point of that “choose your background” question was basically to decide what kind of story this was going to be, what aspects of the Pokémon world we were going to focus on.  Part of that is just dictating the kinds of details I emphasise and explore in the narration, but the character’s skills also determine some of the options I offer when we have a choice to make.  I didn’t have everything planned out, but for every “special skill” I had some idea of a few things that it would let us do to take the story of Pokémon: Red and Blue off the rails, and a few ways that our character would react differently to the events of the story.  The point is that the things we do to influence the world in significant ways should mainly come from those “special skills.”

Continue reading “Larry asks:”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XIX: The Larry Scenario

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you want to do tomorrow?
– Explore the deep forest.

Part of you wants to focus on getting to Pewter City so you can get that whole gym challenge thing back on track after your frustrating false start in Viridian City.  On the other hand, though… this forest is fascinating to you.  People in Viridian City called it a “natural maze” because of the way the vegetation swallows any artificial path that isn’t constantly maintained, leaving a tangled mess of Pokémon migration paths, treefall clearings and hill crests as the only real landmarks.  No one alive really knows Viridian Forest, and even your new friends who’ve spent time here before are only truly familiar with a small part of the southern reaches.  Still, with your scientific knowledge, their wilderness skills and a bit of luck, you’re confident you can map out a sector of the forest and gain some valuable data about the ecosystem – maybe even find a cool new Pokémon or some kind of, like, lost treasure or whatever.  You all pack up your gear and set off northward, most of your Pokémon out of their balls and playing together as you move.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XIX: The Larry Scenario”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XVIII: Scallion of the Apes?

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

Which Pokémon will battle Ellis’ Beedrill, and how?
– Use Scallion the Bulbasaur, and try to think of an unconventional strategy.

A Beedrill is a tough opponent, especially for a Grass Pokémon like Scallion, and unlike the other bug catchers, Ellis seems to have experience to balance your knowledge of Pokémon and battle tactics.  You’re going to need to pull some kind of bull$#!t to win this one.  You glance around the clearing – tents, leaf litter, a couple of hillocks, tall trees all around…

You glance down at Scallion, catching his eye, and jerk your head at the tree branches.  He follows your gaze and looks back at you in confusion.  You jerk your head again and make a motion with your hands as if pulling on a rope.  Scallion stares, baffled, then something clicks and his eyes widen.  He looks at you nervously and tilts his head.  You nod vigorously and give him a manic grin.

I gotta tell you, kid, I do not like where this is going.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XVIII: Scallion of the Apes?”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XVII: Battle of the Bugs

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you say to Stacey about her love triangle situation?
– Commiserate but don’t interfere; it’s none of your gosh-damn business.

You only just met these people yesterday.  It may not be the most interesting way to approach this situation, but you decide it’s best to stay out of it.  You listen sympathetically to Stacey as she tells you about her crush on Abner and possible rivalry with Ellis, nodding along and making thoughtful “hmmm” noises at the right moments, and doing your best not to sway her towards any particular course of action.  Before too long, the two of you are close to base camp, and Stacey changes the subject before you get into earshot of the others.

Would you like to battle in the bug catchers’ tournament?
– Battle with Aura, the Silcoon.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XVII: Battle of the Bugs”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XVI: Ladybirds and Gentlemen

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

Who would you like to go with?
– Help Stacey find a Bug Pokémon that’s rare in Kanto.

Once everything is settled, Ellis has elected to follow Dane and look for battles with wild Pokémon while doing general exploration, and you have volunteered to search out some unusual Bug Pokémon with Stacey. Rather than join either pair, Abner decides to stay at the group’s base camp so he can try his experimental evolution ideas on his own.  Sticking to the ground, you can see tell-tale signs that the vegetation has been invigorated by the presence of wild Grass Pokémon, and occasionally you spot intriguing blackened marks near the base of tree trunks that look to you like electrical burns.  If you want to find different Bug-types, though, you suspect you’ll need to get off the ground and into the treetops.  You’re not much of a climber, and Stacey is only a little better, but using Scallion’s Vine Whips and Aura’s String Shot, you’re able to create makeshift ropes and nets that help you up into the highest trees without breaking your fragile child necks.  Of course, you make an awful racket in the process, and you can tell there are Pokémon fleeing just out of your sight, but once you get used to what you’re doing, you can move from one treetop to the next with surprising ease, thanks to the interlaced branches of Viridian Forest’s dense canopy.  You suggest focusing on trees with sweet berries and listening carefully for the low-pitched hum of Bug Pokémon wings; Stacey catches on pretty quickly and leads the way.  After half an hour picking your way through the upper levels of the forest, you stumble into a tree filled with red, black-spotted beetle Pokémon, which you vaguely recognise as Ledyba.

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State of the Blog: 2019

sweet bird jesus christ, now what

oh, yeah, um… happy… new thing or whatever to all my readers who use the Gregorian calendar

So, we made it through 2019… seems like the world might end soon, so I’m looking forward to finding a new planet to terrorise and conquer… although frankly when I sold my soul to Dark Forces from Parts Unknown I was promised a much better return on investment than this. Still, I think it was a pretty good blog year, all things considered. We finished generation VII (…mostly… I think I actually will try to get some short pieces done on some of the major human characters I missed out – Hau, Lillie, Gladion – and I want to come back to Alolan forms when I do the Galarian ones), we saw and discussed Detective Pikachu, we started a new interactive/collaborative(?)/choose-your-own-adventure-ish story, A Pokémon Trainer Is You!, I started writing for fansite PokéJungle (and, by the way, if you don’t pay attention to my Twitter – well, first of-ly, good for you, Twitter is the path to hell, but secondwise, my latest piece there is up, looking at my favourite new Pokédex entries for pre-gen VIII Pokémon in Sword and Shield), I made this extremely ridiculous cake, we endured the hype period of the new games and even survived the games themselves, and I wrote my first big article on them – a character study of Marnie, Piers and Team Yell. The next one, on Chairman Rose, is finished and awaiting editorial approval, so it should be up later this week.

I also started a Patreon page! And people actually gave me money, which is bonkers; I mean, I’m not exactly going to become a full-time Internet Pokémon Personality any time soon, but I now get more than enough donations to cover the cost of hosting this thing on WordPress, so I’m not actively losing money out of it. Thank you, as always, to my mysterious benefactors, the patrons: Don’t Call Me Bradley, Leo M.R., James Crooks, hugh_donnetono, Esserise and Hamish Fyfe. If you want to support what I do (…whatever you think that is, exactly), consider joining their ranks for as little as a dollar per month. And even if you don’t, thank you for reading, commenting and submitting questions – this blog is an objectively terrible use of my time in several ways, but I kind of love that there seem to be hundreds of people all over the world who seem to enjoy it, which is honestly a bigger audience than I’m ever likely to get for anything I publish in my real-life academic career.

As for upcoming Things, let’s see… I think my next article is going to cover Hop, and hopefully be a bit shorter and less complex than what I’ve written for Team Yell and Chairman Rose (we’ll see how that turns out…). I probably need to skip this week’s episode of A Pokémon Trainer Is You, because I’m flying back to the US this weekend and… well, things are a bit hectic. It’ll be back next week, though (with the polls running on US Eastern time again). Topics of upcoming reader questions include rebalancing types to work more like the TCG, a new take on the Grass-Water-Fire starter triangle, how I would design a Pokémon gym, and how on earth Ghost Pokémon are supposed to work. For the whole year… well, I want to try to review all the Pokémon of generation VIII this year, but given how long and detailed my reviews are these days, I’d be satisfied with getting through, like, half of them; that should leave me with plenty of time to finish the lot before those BASTARDS who CONTROL MY LIFE announce generation IX.

well… here goes nothing

happy 2020, b!tches

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XV: A Bug Catcher Is You!

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What will you do tomorrow?
– Join up with some other trainers to explore.

You’re not the only trainer about to attempt a Viridian Forest expedition; a group of trainers from Viridian City, all friends, are also spending the night at the rest stop.  You decide to sidle over and introduce yourself while they’re all chatting before lights-out.  After all, Viridian Forest has kind of a dark reputation, and although you’ve already proven to yourself and your Pokémon that you can manage a couple of days in the wilderness on your own, it’d still be dumb to pass up company when it’s on offer.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XV: A Bug Catcher Is You!”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XIV: On the Road Away From Viridian City

You think that was the name of a hit song.  Something like that, anyway.

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What will you do as you head north?
– Train with your Pokémon.

You decide to set a relaxed pace and train with your three Pokémon as you move.  You have Scallion punch berries off tree branches and toss rocks around with his Vine Whips, get Nancy to do progressively faster and harder Quick Attacks, and tell Aura to try to restrain you with her String Shot.  That last one… turns out to work better than you anticipated, and you spend the next fifteen minutes trying to pull gluey threads of silk off your limbs and face with hands that are, themselves, covered in gluey threads of silk.  You get some of it in your hair.  It is awful.  Kid, this kind of $#!t is why Larry was such a lost cause (rest in peace, man).  Once you get all the webby gunk off you, Aura immediately – unprompted – starts spewing more silk everywhere.  You open your mouth to tell her to stop, but realise that she’s no longer aiming at you; in fact, most of the silk is winding around her own body.  You watch, fascinated, as she spends a full minute wrapping herself in tight swathes of silk.  There is a sudden flash of light, and your Wurmple is gone, replaced by a silky-skinned white Pokémon the size and approximate shape of a football, with sleepy-looking red eyes beneath shaggy lashes.  She blinks once and makes a satisfying low-pitched humming noise.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XIV: On the Road Away From Viridian City”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XIII: Reporting In

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

What do you do about the Whismur?
– Return to Viridian City and contact Professor Oak to arrange a real rescue operation.

First smart decision you’ve made all week.

You realise that you can’t deal with this problem yourself.  You think about trying to somehow convince the Whismur to follow you back to Viridian City and lead them through the wilderness, but there are too many ways that could go wrong, even with your… Pokémon whisperer mojo or whatever you think you have.  Same goes for trying to settle them peacefully within their new environment; you could be here for weeks.  You could look for a Ranger, but there’s no guarantee you’d find one; you could head for the Pokémon League checkpoint, but honestly you aren’t even sure what you’d do with some puffed-up League bureaucrat.  There’s really nothing for it but to turn around, get back to Viridian City by tomorrow night and contact the Professor; he’ll be able to pull strings with the Pokémon League and maybe some environmental organisations to make this a priority issue.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XIII: Reporting In”

A Pokémon Trainer is You! XII: Be Vewy Vewy Quiet

Last time, on A Pokémon Trainer Is You:

How will you frame the situation in your report to Professor Oak?
– Suggest encouraging the Bidoof population and increasing their influence on the area, while searching for ways to mitigate any harm they cause to native species.

The situation here is complicated, and you worry that removing the Bidoof by force could be just as disruptive as doing nothing at all – not just to the Bidoof themselves, but to everything else living in the area.  It would take half a dozen trainers to round up just the ones here (you assume there are other dams), and breaking the dam could easily be destructive.  Besides, the Bidoof aren’t just crowding out or oppressing native species; they’re also creating something new.  Many of the local species actually stand to benefit from their transformation of the landscape, and the end result could be a more diverse ecosystem than Route 22 started with – if the competing needs of the different species are managed correctly.  It’ll be like threading a needle, no mistake, but your instinctive compassion makes you unwilling to dismiss the possibility that all the Pokémon of the area can live in something resembling harmony.  You resolve to write the conclusion of your report in a way that emphasises the potential benefits of the Bidoof presence, but without downplaying the risks to species like Goldeen that could be harmed by their effects on the landscape.

I hope you know what you’re doing, kid.

Continue reading “A Pokémon Trainer is You! XII: Be Vewy Vewy Quiet”