The Etruscans

So I have just finished working on a long essay about gender roles in an ancient Italian people, the Etruscans.  They have been occupying my brain almost totally, which is why I have not written much about Pokémon this week.  Come and listen to me babble; you will learn a great many things, some of which may even be true.

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Q
Okay. So with all this about capturing and consent. Or has me thinking; What if the original pokeballs were created by pokemon? And later refined by humans for mass production? We know That pokeballs started as apricot balls first but, Idk... Help?
A

You know, I actually have a pet idea about this that I’ve been nursing for a while.

The first Pokéballs were made from Apricorns, yeah?  This is apparently a traditional art that goes back several generations, maybe centuries.  Certainly mass-produced Pokéballs are relatively recent - they’ve come about only in Drayden’s lifetime - and reliant on advanced technology (which is unlikely ever to be explained).  So what makes the first Pokéballs work?  ’Mysterious energy’ seems like it would be the default cop-out answer.  The thing is… an Apricorn is a berry.  And we already know a way to draw out the ‘mysterious energy’ of a berry: the Natural Gift attack.    There’s no data in the game for what happens when you use Natural Gift with an Apricorn, but it stands to reason that it would do something - given what we know about Apricorns, could that something be dematerialising a Pokémon temporarily?  Of course, berries aren’t particularly robust - imagine trying to hold a Pokémon in swirly-energy-thingy form inside a great big acorn.  Unless they’ve been specially prepared and reinforced by a craftsman like Kurt, they probably wear out very quickly and have to be replaced every few weeks.  So yeah, not by Pokémon necessarily, but I think the first Pokéballs were almost certainly created by a co-operative effort.


Q
What do you think about this idea I have about butterfly and moth Pokemon? First I'd mash them into one evolution, Caterpie into Butterfree during the day, and Venomoth during the night. I'd change them the Bug/Psychic and Bug/Dark respectively, then give them different forms based on what region they're found in. Hoenn Butterfree is Bug/Fire with a sun motif, and Venomoth is Bug/Water with an ocean motif, in Kalos Bug/Fairy and Bug/Ghost... they'd have signature abilities that change also.
Anonymous
A

What is the logic behind the form changes?  I mean, sure, there’s nothing wrong with the idea, and it gives Butterfree and Venomoth something neat to do (poor Venonat, though… is it actually necessary to merge the evolutionary lines?  What aim does that serve?), but it needs some flavour stuff behind it and not just game mechanics.  We’ve seen Pokémon that have different appearances in different parts of the world before - Shellos/Gastrodon and Vivillon - but they don’t have this variation in their powers.  What is it about Butterfree and Venomoth that makes them so adaptable?

I can’t help but wonder whether the effort is misplaced…  Beautifly, Dustox, Mothim and Vivillon need upgraded powers way more than Butterfree (who has Compoundeyes Sleep Powder) and Venomoth (who has Quiver Dance, Baton Pass, and Tinted Lens).


Q
So, please don't think I'm an idiot. Theoretically, if a pokemon was dual type for the same type would that make it 4 times weak but for times more powerful? So a Fire/Fire would be 4x weak against water and 4x as effective against grass... Right?
A

Um.  Do you mean, like, in terms of how the damage formula works?  Hang on; I’ll have a look… Go go gadget Bulbapedia…

DamageCalc.png

ModifierCalc.png

"Type is the type effectiveness. This can be either 0, 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, or 4 depending on the type of attack and the type of the defending Pokémon."

Now, I don’t know whether the game has a lookup table for every possible value of that Type factor or just calculates it each time based on the type chart.  I suspect the latter, in which case if a Pokémon for some reason did have the same type twice, I suppose it would stack.

can tell you that it would not get two doses of STAB.  The only possible values for that term are 1 and 1.5, so the bonus to Fire attacks would only apply once.

What… exactly would a Fire/Fire type… you know, be?  Something more fiery than a regular Fire-type?  That would be quite an achievement compared to the likes of Magmar, Entei, Reshiram, Volcarona, Heatran and Mega Charizard Y…


Q
A Stockholm syndrome questioned asked in a pokeblog? *Gasp* But I am not surprised one is asked. For me I think its possible but I think it also diminishes the pokemon's ability to choose and consent side of things since it assumes more of a force love factor. I also thought the psychological condition included often abuse? Unless battling is abuse of course.
Anonymous
A

I’m not quite sure what you’re asking, but basically this all hinges on what is apparently one of my more controversial beliefs - namely that Pokémon choose to be captured.  Here’s the short version.  We know that you need to weaken a Pokémon to catch it, but also that if you actually knock it out, you can’t catch it - it needs to be conscious (which to me suggests that we’re looking for consent).  We see in the anime that there is a tendency to portray battles with wild Pokémon as a process of earning their respect, and this becomes more pronounced as the series progresses.  We know that Team Rocket and other villains capture Pokémon both traditionally, using Pokéballs, and with a variety of other contrivances (nets, pits, machines, etc) - the latter is regarded as a heinous crime, even when their targets are wild; the former is apparently totally fine.  We know that Pokémon can actually leave their Pokéballs without being ordered.  We know that villains use cages to restrain Pokémon, which would be an expensive and illogical waste of space if Pokéballs were capable of doing the same job.  Honestly it seems to me like the creators have actually built in a lot of reasons for us to think that Pokémon have a choice in all this.

Also, just putting it out there, Stockholm Syndrome isn’t magic.  It doesn’t automatically happen to everyone who experiences a kidnapping or hostage situation.  I don’t think you can realistically build an entire civilisation on it, especially when the ‘captives’ are vastly more powerful, physically, than the ‘captors’ and in many cases at least as intelligent.


Q
Thanks for answering that question on Stockholm thing, based on that previous page, you seemed to disagree. Do you still?
Anonymous
A

Yes, purely as a matter of definition.  Stockholm Syndrome implies being held against one’s will, and I don’t believe that’s the case here.  Developing empathy for someone because you happen to interact with them often is called becoming friends.


Q
Hello, I have a question. Do you think it would be nice if the games dwelt a history of the pokemon world for example like it came to be or at least touch upon it? I feel the games could do better in world building which is an understatement. Also, pokemon x and y has great sales I hear. Nearly 12 million. This leads me to wonder. Will Game Freak use Z as a remastered X and Y or some kind of direct sequel this time?
Anonymous
A

Well, X and Y kinda do - the history of Kalos, at any rate.  I mean, half the plot is based on a 3000-year-old backstory, and a lot of NPC dialogue dwells on the rights and wrongs of the old monarchy under AZ’s family.  Lysandre’s research notes in the Team Flare lab also contain some interesting speculation about the origins of inequality in ancient society - he thinks it’s all to do with Pokémon training.  I love that stuff because I’m a history person.  Any time they want to do more, though, they won’t hear me complaining.

I don’t know what they’ll do next, but I actually kind of want to see a prequel, because I think Lysandre would make a lot more sense as a character and be a much better fit with what they seem to be trying to do with him if we saw more of his past and saw some of the events that led to him going off the deep end.  That’s just me though.


Q
Do you see or anticipate any future pokemon types?
Anonymous
A

Not really, no.  I actually felt like we had enough to cover most any design even before Fairy was added, and I tend to prefer parsimony in these things.  The only thing I felt could be missing was something along the lines of a ‘Holy’ type, and Fairy is probably close enough to cover most designs that would fall within that.  If anything I feel like the game would survive with fewer types, not more (do we really need Ground and Normal?).


Q
So I'm making my own fake Pokemon region, Unotos, and in it I've got gremlin Pokemon. I know I want them to be Fairy-type, but what should be the secondary type (if any)? I mean, Dark seems apropos, but Flying is closer to the gremlins' origins but not in the "correct" way. Maybe a Fairy/Dark line with an ability that makes their moves super effective against Flying and Steel-types as gremlins in folklore sabotaged aircraft? I respect your opinion immensely and would love your advice on this. :)
A

I like the idea; it’s a good excuse to have a Fairy Pokémon on the more malicious side.  I agree that Fairy/Flying isn’t quite right because gremlins don’t (I think) actually fly in spite of being traditionally associated with aircraft, and Fairy/Dark seems to make the most sense immediately - but then hey, who says your gremlin Pokémon can’t have wings after evolving (or just be able to learn Fly)?  I think that would also make a great deal of sense, and be a good way of playing with the basic concept.  As for beating Steel-types, what jumps to my mind would be a “Sabotage” attack - Fairy-type (physical?) but super-effective against Steel Pokémon in the same way as Aurorus’ Freeze Dry beats Water-types.  As for an ability… Technician seems like the logical choice (bonus points if Sabotage has 60 power and can get a Technician boost).


Q
What is Stockholm syndrome and how is it applied here?
Anonymous
A

I assume by “here” you mean here?

Stockholm Syndrome is a term used to describe the phenomenon of coming to empathise with one’s captor in a kidnapping or hostage situation.  Sometimes victims in such situations, after talking to their captors and learning their stories, start to view them as being not entirely bad people, and may begin to cooperate with them or even take action after being rescued to ensure that their captors are treated leniently.  Actual psychological research into the phenomenon is a little thin on the ground (since, for obvious reasons, you can’t really conduct experiments), but it’s a common trope in modern fiction.

In the context of Pokémon, the principle is relevant to questions of the underlying morality of Pokémon training - to wit, is the ‘friendship’ conventionally displayed between Pokémon and trainer really just a manifestation of this irrational tendency to bond with one’s captor?


Q
Did you hear that Charizard and Greninja were recently released as fighters for the new Smash Bros? I mean, they're awesome, but would it'd have killed them to add a grass starter as well?
A

I know the franchise only by reputation, but I have seen the trailer in question.  I feel like Grass-types get left out of these things not so much because of any sort of systematic prejudice as because most of them are neither particularly iconic (like Pikachu and Jigglypuff) nor particularly badass (like Lucario and Greninja), which is unfortunate, but kind of understandable.  Still, I feel like Grovyle would fit right in…


Pause

Going to take maybe a week and a bit off, so I can work on a presentation I need to do about the role of women in Etruscan society.  I’ll continue answering questions as I am able (after a long lull, I received several today, and will work through those over the next couple of days).  Might post something on the weekend about Etruscan civilisation since it’s on my mind anyway.


Litleo and Pyroar

Official art of Litleo by Ken Sugimori.

We should probably talk about these ones next.  I didn’t use Litleo for very long, because my Fletchling unexpectedly evolved into a Fire-type and I didn’t want two of them.  Still, I had one on my party for a little while, and I feel like I got to know her, so it makes sense.  So, these Pokémon are lions.  I am notoriously ill-disposed to Pokémon that are just animals, because I want more.  Granted, of course, these are lions that breathe fire, but hey, Beartic is a polar bear that shoots icicles and just look how well I got along with him.  That was three years ago, though; I’m being nice now.  Well… okay, ‘nice’ is a bit much.  I’m being marginally less irritable now.  Let’s give these two a shot and see what I can make of them.

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Q
You've mentioned in the past that Grass is one of the weakest types. What would you do to change that? For example, what weaknesses and strengths would you change, or how would you alter certain attacks?
A

Grass… kinda gets a raw deal, yeah.  Just purely in terms of the number of other types it’s strong/weak against, it’s one of the games’ worst… which is kind of a sore spot for me, since it’s also my favourite.  Most types are defensively vulnerable to two or three others; a few are vulnerable to only one, and Ice (which also kinda got shafted, I think mainly because Generations 1 and 2 had no pure Ice-types) is vulnerable to four.  Grass is vulnerable to five: Flying, Ice, Fire, Bug and Poison.  Only one other type has that many defensive weaknesses - ironically, that would be Rock (vulnerable to Fighting, Steel, Ground, Grass and Water).  Rock, though, gets to enjoy being one of the game’s better offensive types - Rock is the only type other than Ground to be strong against a greater number of types than it is weak against, offensively.  Grass, not so much - Grass attacks are weak against seven different types (Grass, Flying, Bug, Fire, Dragon, Poison and Steel), which until X and Y was more than any other - and that changed not because Grass’s situation improved, but because the next-worst-off type, Bug, gained a new disadvantage against Fairy-types.  They’re strong against three (Rock, Ground and Water), which is sort of average, really.

Grass does, admittedly, have a decent number of resistances - four of them (Water, Electric, Ground and Grass itself), while many types only have two or three, but it doesn’t really stand out in that regard - Water, Rock and Dragon also have four, as do Ghost, Fairy and Flying if you count their immunities (which, y’know, are kind of better), Poison has five, Fire has six, and Steel blows them all out of the water with eleven.  It has to be said that counting types can only go so far - Dragon, for instance, was hands-down the best attacking type of the fourth and fifth generations, despite being strong against only one type (itself), because it had nearly perfect neutral coverage, resisted only by Steel.  The problem, though, is that where types like Dragon and Rock lose out in one respect but do very well in another, Grass kinda loses everywhere.  Grass-types are, admittedly, also immune to Leech Seed and, as of X and Y, powder attacks (the important ones being Stun Spore, Sleep Powder and Spore) - so basically they’re really good at blocking other Grass-types.  That seems to be the niche Game Freak has in mind for them here.  I mean… not that those immunities aren’t useful, but they’re also kind of a slap in the face.

So, when I put it like that, it seems like the obvious thing to do is strip out some of those damned weaknesses (the attacks, I think, are fine as they are - Solarbeam could maybe use some work, because at the moment it’s kind of a gimmick and only viable on dedicated sun-abuse teams, but I’m not sure how to change it).  Let’s start with Flying.  Why does Flying beat Grass?  I’ve seen element-based systems before where Plant/Forest is actually strong against Wind/Sky, birds can help plants through pollination (analogy with the Grass-Water relationship), and it’s scientific fact that plants bolster hillsides against erosion by the wind.  I say make Grass-types resist Flying attacks, and Grass attacks neutral to Flying-types.  Make Flying-types strong against Water instead; the smug pricks deserve it.  We can probably get away with removing Steel’s resistance to Grass too, since Steel has too many damn resistances anyway.  In flavour terms that’s not as solid, because there’s precedent for Metal-beats-Wood in the Chinese Wu Xing cycles, but the fact is, there are probably ways to justify having Steel resist everything, so I think a little more restraint is in order when dealing with that type.  Those things won’t make Grass an amazing type, but it’ll certainly make it not suck!

Bug could use some help too, but I’ve been babbling long enough…


Q
Ever thought of giving Kid Icarus: Uprising a try? It may only be loosely based on Greek Myth, but it's got enough references, along with an engaging plot with interesting characters and hilariously witty dialogue, to make anyone smile. Though some of the jokes that refer to the old NES title may fly over your head (no pun intended), and it takes a bit of time to get used to the control style, I'm still sure you'd be in for a fun time.
A

Not really a good time for me to be picking up new games at the moment, sorry.