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There’s so much more to the world of Pokémon than simply rampaging across the landscape challenging gym leaders and taking badges – but that’s what we are going to focus on anyway. The world of Pokémon is high magic and high powered Pokémon of CR 5 or more can be found in towns performing physical labor, which definitionally means that the world has 6th level characters working as carpenters and fishermen. Badges are gained from defeating a gym leader in a gym challenge. And yet, gym leaders are usually selected as the strongest and most capable of the adherents to a particular school of Pokémon thought. One may certainly ask, in a world where 6th level characters are not an unusual sight, how can the players hope to gain a Badge even after months of play?
The answer is simply that winning a gym challenge is not the same as defeating the best that a gym has to offer. The leader of the Stone Gym is about 15th level, but he doesn’t just throw down with his Colossal Earth Elemental Scorpion at the start of each Badge match. Gaining a Badge is to be accepted by that gym. Badge matches are very formalized, and the gym leader isn’t throwing out anything close to their strongest Pokémon. On the other hand, the challenger is supposed to be using her strongest Pokémon – it’s expected that a Badge Challenger is not going to be as strong as a gym leader and it would be fairly pointless if each new candidate had to be stronger than the gym leader just to join.
Badge Matches and Gym MatchesEdit
A successful Badge match proves that a Pokémaster is worthy to join a gym, but what if a Pokémaster wishes to push himself – to prove that the gym may not be worthy of her?
That’s where Gym matches come in. These are still settled with strict rules in a (hopefully) non-fatal manner for Pokémasters and Pokémon alike – but there is a crucial difference. The battle is for the honor of the Gym, not the Challenger, and the Gym leader is expected to use their strongest Pokémon and techniques. Obviously, a prospective Gym challenger would have to prove herself in many ways just to be granted an opportunity to compete in a Gym match. The winner of a Gym match is frequently made Gym Leader if she wasn’t before. The loser is deeply shamed. Gym matches are a big affair, and rarely happen.
In a worst case scenario, a Gym might declare a gang war on another. Until the war is settled in some way Pokémasters of varying strengths from the different Gyms will fight each other in battles – often without rules and to the death. Regardless of who wins such an affair, it is almost guaranteed that both sides will lose.
Destroying a GymEdit
As long as even a single member of a Gym breathes and trains Pokémon the Gym still stands. A Gym exists in the hearts and minds of its members – not in the building which houses it.
Badges come in a variety of levels, and vary greatly dependant upon the issuing Gym. Generally, a Gym will issue an apprenticeship Badge specially designed for newcomers to the profession. To qualify one normally has to perform a relatively simple task – perhaps defeat a CR 1 Pokémon in a non-lethal battle. The apprenticeship Badge is normally a non-magical and inexpensive item and entitles its bearer to be trained in the philosophies and techniques of the Gym.
Most Gyms also issue a membership Badge. Possession of such a Badge indicates a formidable amount of skill as it indicates that the bearer has overcome a moderate obstacle such as besting 3 of the Gym Leader’s CR 5 Pokémon in sequential single combat with her own Pokémon. Such a Badge usually takes the form of a signet ring or other nearly unforgeable and permanent item. Particularly wealthy Gyms sometimes have permanent magical effects applied to their membership Badges – such as continual flame spells or arcane marks.
Finally, the majority of Gyms provide a Master’s Badge. Only a few can aspire to such a Badge – as the trial is grueling in the extreme. Generally, a Gym Leader will come to a Master’s Badge battle with a full compliment of Pokémon of about CR 10, or maybe one of her strongest Pokémon and one or two weak utility Pokémon. Winning a Master’s Badge challenge is no small feat. Most Gyms provide an actual magic item as their Master’s Badge. A Master’s Badge is generally expected to float around the Pokémaster like an Ioun Stone. A Pokémaster with several rocks of varying colors floating around her is indeed someone to be feared!
Badges? We Don't Need No Stinking Badges!Edit
Not all Pokémasters compete for Badges at all. There are some who refuse to pursue the lure of Badges and Gym acceptance. Often as not, these Gymless Pokémasters congregate together and ironically behave exactly like a Gym in all but name.
Rules of EngagementEdit
In a formal Pokémon match, whether it is for Badges, a Gym, or just honor, the rules are pretty much the same:
- No one dies. Not the trainers, not the Pokémon. This rule comes first. Regardless of what you are fighting for noone uses potentially lethal attacks. This means that some potentially powerful Pokémon – such as Gorgon and Cockatrice – are generally unused in formal competition as their attacks cannot be used to subdue rather than slay.
- Pokémon fight alone. The Pokémasters and bystanders do not interfere with the Pokémon – to help or hinder either side. Also, Pokémon do not summon or duplicate themselves or other Pokémon during formal competition.
- Pokémon fight each other. That means that their attacks are not to directly or indirectly attack the other trainer or bystanders. Once again, this means that some Pokémon who have primary area of effect attacks are generally shunned for formal competition – such as Kraken, or Hezrou.
- No substitutions. A Pokémaster decides their order of Pokémon before the match, and may not recall or transfer Pokémon once the match has begun.
- One fall and you’re out. When a Pokémon gets knocked out or surrenders – it is out of the match. Even if it is revived before the match is done it can’t come back into the match.
- Last Pokémaster with active Pokémon wins.