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Satoshi_Red
June 20th, 2008, 10:07 PM
I suppose this is the right place to put this. XD. I’ve made a load of mental notes that I like to refer back to when writing stories, even ones that don’t take place in the same universe. My notes are based more on what I think the pokemon world should be like than actual canon, and, well… I tend to take the outlook of ‘realistic is best’ so beware if you aren’t fond of that.

I may add on to these later on.

My Notes:

Evolution:

‘Growing Older’: A common theme that I see is pokemon evolving naturally as they grow older. This is a somewhat logical idea; a baby pokemon growing older should logically when reaching adult age become an adult pokemon, and not stay, say, a Pichu. But there are several issues you have to deal with. This is why I like to combine this with other ‘evolving’ explanations and make only some pokemon evolve this way. For instance, what about metal type pokemon? Cars and things don’t grow into different shapes like we do as time passes, so what about Voltorb and so on? And what about pokemon that don’t evolve? Should they stay the same size their entire life from day one, then? And if they don’t need to evolve to grow into a breeding mature adult, then they must have another reason for evolving, right?

Another issue is age. A trainer can’t wait for, say, Charmander, to grow for twenty years before evolving into Charmeleon. But animals with quicker life-cycles and maturation tend to die quicker. Having a pokemon that takes a few weeks to evolve into a breeding adult most likely means a pokemon that grows to old age within a year if they are like most animals. (Which, actually, they aren’t, but still.) Having a pokemon that will stay with you for years and years might mean getting a pokemon that takes a few years to become an adult if age is the deciding factor of evolution for you.

‘Experience, Stimuli Trigger’: Classical evolution. A pokemon reaches the logical stage where it can’t gain much more from remaining a lower-stage pokemon, so it evolves into an upper stage. A pokemon gets a stone and it evolves with the stone as the trigger. A pokemon is thrust into a totally new environment with strangers it doesn’t recognize, having been just ‘traded’, and evolves as a response to anticipated new stresses.
For stones, I am not a big fan of the classic ‘radiation’ theory where the radiation mutates the genes. For one, why would it mutate the genes the exact same way every time into something so beneficial? Why doesn’t it cause cancer? More likely is that the pokemon is preprogrammed to evolve to a form that can better withstand the radiation, making it partially immune to it.

Another idea I like to use about stones is that, over time, some pokemon lose evolve forms as ‘real evolution’ makes them unneeded. Why evolve if you are capable of breeding well before then and have an easy environment where you won’t even survive longer if you do? Especially if evolving makes you need to gather more food each day? If certain substances and hormones trigger evolution, then artificially adding these back to a pokemon’s diet after they lose the ability to make it themselves could trigger evolution in it when they don’t naturally evolve. The downside is that it could make a pokemon evolve well before their ancestors who naturally evolved would have.

Note that downsides do not have to be actual downsides story-wise. Writing a story about a Jolteon who contracted cancer because their foolish owner cared more about winning a tournament than having their pokemon live after it would be highly interesting. Likewise, if the main reason trainers catch wild pokemon instead of simply breeding them is due to not wanting to wait for the Pokemon to age, it would be interesting to see how pokemon that only become powerful with old age become rare from being caught more frequently then they are replaced.

For training, consider what non-training equal there is in the wild. Do pokemon evolve as a response to increases in difficulty of finding food and getting away from danger, or change in environment, like an unexpected forest fire or natural gradual shift of forest to desert and the like? Evolving generally means getting bigger and being faster and stronger, which means eating lots more food and keeping in shape to ensure best development. In this case, do pokemon only evolve in times of plenty, like when humans feed them constantly or the forest is in full bloom? Those are some of my interpretations.

‘Magic’ I dislike this one the most. But if done well it can be interesting. A young pokemon asks Jirachi to turn him into his evolved form, which he doesn’t want to wait to obtain, and suddenly finds there are not as many perks to it as he thought, finding the world from a more adult perspective confusing and complicated. You can’t really make magic realistic, because, magic is the opposite of reality, but if you treat it like a thing bound to rules and logic just like everything else you can at least make it seem like it is enough to appeal realism fanatics. A common theme I see is ‘it was prophesied, so now, human/goldfish/whatever, you will evolve into a pokemon X, yadda yak yak.’ but one should at least give some clue as to where the prophecy came from and, if a prophecy only says a thing will happen instead of making it happen (Unless it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. -_- I see too many of those!), then how did it happen and where did the magic come from in the first place?

‘Upgrade’ For metal/technological (Porygon) pokemon, a technological upgrade may be what makes them evolve, or the simple process of binding two individuals together. Imagine if, in order to evolve or ‘breed‘, a Voltorb had to collect metal and/or computer parts to form a larger or another individual, perhaps destroying another Voltorb or Electrode in order to accomplish this! That could make for a fascinating story as well.

Final word on it:
Most likely, evolution would differ between species. Some may evolve to adopt different feeding strategies, some may evolve in order to deal with new stress that would kill weaker members of the population, some may evolve to get breeding rights or better breeding rights, and some might just evolve in response to growing older! And of course, some may evolve by simply merging together, Magnemite or Diglett. But some people may prefer for the majority of pokemon to fall under one explanation for evolution.

Pokemon Intelligence:

Pokemon are often depicted as being just as intelligent as humans. However, I contend that even when at that level of intelligence there should be many differences in behavior. The logical thing to do is to strip away the different cultural concepts that we have and are not 'inborn' things required to be intelligent and then consider what you have. Reading and writing, things like depth perception in art (Such is a relatively new concept. Is the man aiming for the tiny elephant, or the large deer? The elephant is 'closer' but culture tells us that it must be far away if the painting is realistic), many lingual concepts, ownership of land, and so on. Something fairly universal about humans and animals that come closest to us in intelligence, is the appearance of 'culture' even if it isn't the same as ours.

So how to approach it? Culture can be so incredibly varied--; but while the exact words and concepts vary, the logic behind them is often traced to the environment. Consider the attitudes towards women over the ages in the west. While the thought-processes were often wacked, there were at least slight explanations as to why women had to be the ones doing the household chores and things like that. A lot of labor had to be done, and it was logical to divide it up according to who was staying home the most and who was more likely to leave. Agriculture demanded many hours of work, and it was much easier to steal someone else's crops than make your own. Men were much more expendable than women biologically. It made sense to keep the women at home and watching the children and doing the chores while sending the men off to do things like wars and getting killed. Eventually technology advanced and less and less people had to work agriculturally; suddenly it didn't make as much biological sense to keep the women at home so much.

The end-point is, bad attitudes developed towards women as an explanation why it was them who stayed home instead of going off to war. People weren't logical enough to really think 'Well, if I had to choose between there being one guy and several women or having several men and one woman in terms of replacing the population...'. And one shouldn't have illogical attitudes appear in any pokemon culture as well without at least a hint of logic behind them.

Less intelligent pokemon:

People seem to think making pokemon animal-like in intelligence is an excuse not to develop them beyond two-dimensionality. I do not think this the case. Pokemon are clearly, at a base level, at least able to understand attack commands. This places them at a higher level of intelligence than a fly. More likely, they would be very mammalian or birdlike in intelligence, likely as intelligent as a toddler for some of them or higher. Some dogs, animals which, like pokemon, can be taught to attack on command, can show understanding of about two hundred different words, and learn for instance that 'Stacy' is a person they like or that 'heart' means that heart shaped toy of theirs and not their ball.

They may, if bird-like in intelligence, be able to understand that placing a nut on a road while there is a red light means that after green light the nut will be crushed for them. They may even understand that pulling a lever will make a piece of fruit drop down from the vending machine; but only a few will understand why and be able to figure it out on their own. Even those with feline-like or especially rat-like intelligence may understand how to open doors and pull ropes and figure such out on their own. They are likely to respond more quickly to body language and tone of voice than actual meaning, with body language what they pay attention most to.

They may possess unique 'words' with very specific meanings like 'snake'. They are likely to have a limited list of words and have sometimes one word carry an entire sentence of meaning; toddlers do the same thing. 'Da!' and an insistant outholding of arms; who wouldn't recognize this as saying 'Daddy, pick me up!' if spoken by a baby? Likewise, 'Chuuuu' with ears facing depressively downward might mean 'Oh no, I really do not like the sound of this!' instead of simply 'Yes' or 'No' like it would be for us. Even with on-par human intelligence I often like to depict pokemon speaking this way, sometimes to convey complex meanings. 'Achik!' accompanied by unworried tone of voice and poking into a backpack and a proud, certain body-language. 'No worries, he won't find us digging through his stuff, not while I'm around!'

But, how is personality affected by varying intelligence? As it turns out, it doesn't just go away, or it shouldn't. Not being able to say 'Why should I go with you just to get beaten up?' doesn't mean that all pokemon will be happy to go along with a trainer just like that. And one thing being less intelligent may do is give them less morality! Help you escape from team rocket? More like run away and abandon you from those scary group of humans! After all, how could an unintelligent animal understood what it did wrong with running away from danger? Only some insane beast would willingly stick around to get killed for no apparent reason!

Realistic Descriptions for various things like attacks:

Pokeball example: The ball was smooth and metal. Beneath the hallow inside, the most important and often overlooked parts of the ball lay. A small needle containing a harmless batch of chemicals could rise up at any moment to gently poke a pokemon, stabilizing them and reducing their metabolism greatly. A small curved point at the front of it could produce a laser beam of light; a computer inside capable of taking the information from the light that bounced back and produce a series of calculations about where to aim a small spray that would trigger an old fossil gene to react; a gene that would cause uncontrollable minimizing to pokeball size.


Water attacks: I like to think of moves like bubble as containing highly compressed air that causes pain on popping, and impossible feats like watergun where the pokemon produces more water than their own body mass to either be likely partially produced outside of the body (Collected from the air, perhaps. Like rain dance?) or to only appear to be too much for the body, a strong thick sac inside capable of storing loads of water and compressing it slightly.

Plant attacks: Seeds thrown don't seem to be able to do a lot of damage in reality. However, if shot out at high speeds they could very well be like 'bullet seeds'. Normal leaves tend not to be very dangerous but specially produced ones can have extremely sharp edges and possess thorns, and could possibly have evolved more for doing damage than for photosynthezing, explaining why plant pokemon seem to eat just as much as other pokemon. Vines attached to animal muscle could be thrown about quite flexibly; perhaps even held upright for long periods in the air like shown in the cartoons.

Harmless flame: Pokemon like charmander could possibly produce their flame a mere centimeter from their actual flesh, or have it burn with a specially produced 'slime' that protects the flesh from burning and feeds the fire very slowly.

Lists:

Sometimes it is nice to have a list to refer to when one is trying to think of pokemon in a certain power range. I’ll add more as I think of them. Or if you like you could help. I don’t like using fourth generation having never played those games, so pardon me if I only use pokemon I’m slightly familiar with. I’m also not as familiar with third, so you probably won’t see as many of those at least at first. I don’t need to write a list for legends, because everyone knows those. ‘Average’ here means ‘Arbitrary power level I made up just because’.

Extremely Uber-Weak Pokemon:
Magikarp, Feebas, Metapod, Kakuna, Abra, Silcoon, Azurill
// Togepi, Hoppip, Igglybuff (When early enough ‘level‘, they have no damaging moves)
Still Uber-Weak Pokemon:
Caterpie, Weedle, Wurmple, Dunsparce, Sunkern
Average Pokemon:
Pidgey, Sandshrew, Rattata, Ekans, Zubat, Jigglypuff, Nidoran, Meowth, Paras, Mankey, Swinup, Bellsprout, Sentret, Hoot-hoot, Spinarak, Pichu, Magby, Skiploom, Shuckle, Pineco, Wooper, Elekid, Smoochum, Eevee, Mankey, Far-fetched, Doduo, Krabby, Shelder
Above Average:
Sandslash, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Arbok, Ditto, Smeargle, Jolteon/Vaporeon/Flareon, Pikachu, Nidorino/Nidorina, Clefairy/Clefable, Vulpix, Houndour, Ariados, Kingdra, Marill, Slugma, Aipom, Snubbul, Quilfish, Electrabuzz, Dodrio, Seal, Grimer, Cloyster, Furret, Drowzee, Kingler, Electrode, Exeggutor.
Cubbone, Butterfree, Scyther, Hitmonlee, Hitmonchan, Hitmontop, Rhyhorn, Cyndaquil, Chikorita, Totodile, Noctowl, Growlithe, Ponyta, Wigglytuff, Golbat, Gloom, Parasect, Venomoth, Dugtrio, Persian, Psyduck, Slowpoke, Primeape, Poliwag/Poliwhirl, Gastly, Weepinbell, Tentacruel, Graveler, Magnemite, Onix, Natu, Chinchou, Flaaffy, Azumarill, Treecko, Tochic, Mudkip… (And lots more I’m sure. -_- Don‘t read it too deeply.) Kecleon.
Powerful:
Evolved Starters, Legends. No brainer, this one. Espeon, Umbreon, other fully evolved forms, dragons, Alakazam, Tyranitar, Aggron, etc, etc.
Different possible ‘Starters’ who evolve three times:
Oddish, Geodude, Gastly, Nidoran, Dratini, Pidgey, Caterpie, Weedle, Abra, Machop, Bellsprout, Aron, Larvitar, Mareep, Hoppip, Lotad, Seedot, Spheal, Whismur, Ralts
Uber-Popular (Useful if you want to avoid them):
Pikachu, Pichu, Legendaries, Eevee and Evolutions, All Starters (except maybe Chikorita), Absol, Meowth, Any dragon-type, Growlithe, Houndour, Minun, Scyther, Vulpix, Ralts. (Chances are good you’ve got a fic with one of these mentioned if you’ve ever written a fan fiction.)
Pokemon used simply because they are believed to be unpopular/weak (Anti-sues):
Rattata, Caterpie, Magikarp, Quilfish