IT’S HERE! The new Pokémon RTM rules!


haha that looks terrible. It looks much nicer in the pdf.

Yes, one year later, I got interested in this dumb idea again, and here it is: the official release of the Pokémon Real Trainer Mode rules!

(Or at least an “open beta” release. I might make some more notes and adjustments to it depending on feedback, but at this point it is, I believe, pretty solid. I don’t forsee much changing from here out.)

You can get it from this Dropbox link.


It is a set of optional rules you can follow when playing pokémon games, including a rudimentary AI for your pokémon.

See, Pokémon promises the experience of being a pokémon trainer, travelling the world and training monsters to fight each other, but it doesn’t really deliver on that experience because you have full control over your pokémon in battle. You’re just a guy with six funny-looking heads, the exact same as any other JRPG party. RTM takes control of your monsters’ actions out of your hands, via four simple tables and a six-sided die. With this system, you really are just standing at ringside, watching your guys fight. You can shout “Use Thunder Shock, you bastard!” at Pikachu, and maybe he’ll listen, but probably he won’t.

Also, there is a small chance of perma-death, in that the PC becomes an extremely rickety and untrustworthy device that is pretty likely to destroy pokémon stored in it. This means that you are encouraged to develop a tight team of six that can take all comers without subbing guys in and out — a much more personal crew.

This combines to provide a pretty strong perspective shift: your role as trainer is to plan out a roster, capture the needed pokémon, train them, carefully research your opponents and what you’re walking into as you travel, and keep a careful watch for potion-throwing opportunities in battle (because item use becomes both more important and more difficult). With the battles essentially out of your hands, it becomes much more like a training sim, where research and planning is key.


No. God no. It’s not very much harder than a regular run of Pokémon, I don’t think, so long as you plan carefully. I do provide some options for making it harder though, if you want that. And I suppose you could use one or both of the Nuzlocke rules while playing RTM, but… I’m not sure that would be a good idea.  Try it at your own risk.

(I do recommend you play with the optional rule that you can’t buy Revives or Revival Herbs from shops — otherwise what little permadeath there is in RTM has no teeth at all once you get to a Pokémart that sells Revives. I would have made that a full-on rule, but making things hard isn’t the point of this, really.)


Nope! It is not very much grindier than the base game, in my experience. In my run of FireRed, I had to do some extra grinding at the beginning to get going, and at the end to level up for the Elite 4, and at one point in the middle when one of my pokémon decided to make itself useless and I had to catch and train up a replacement. Other than that, I went the whole run pretty much just on the EXP you get from fighting trainers along the way.  If you wind up facing a Gym Leader without the scissors to his paper, you might have to grind up a bit or train a pinch hitter — but again, that can usually be prevented with careful planning.

Anyway, I encourage you to try it out, if you’re inclined to play a pokémon game! Speaking as someone who has very little patience for JRPGs, this ruleset made the difference between a grindy JRPG with no real story to speak of, and an interesting training sim with a team I actually cared about.  I’m currently two badges into my second game (Alpha Sapphire), with long-term plans to collect every one of the 50 gym badges in the series.

If you have questions or comments, feel free to email me at pokemon.RTM at, or @Rifflesby on Twitter.

EDIT: Regarding Mega-Evolution — I haven’t reached a point in the game where I could test it out personally. Until further notice, just treat it like anything else the rules don’t specify, and play it like you normally would.

ACNL Villager Management

If you’re playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf and are at all like me, you’ve probably got some notions about how you want your town laid out. Maybe you’ve already dropped a bunch of patterns around to make paths, and have planned out where certain public works are going to be located once you’ve unlocked them. You’re the mayor, after all, and development of the town is your job.

Well, surprise surprise, the animals do not give one thin shit about your plans for the town. Continue reading

Couplea things for you

Firstly, I dunno how many of you are into video game soundtracks like I am — I find them to be the perfect thing to listen to at work, because they don’t have any distracting lyrics, and they’re generally pretty uptempo. And if I’m working on something moodier, or horror-ish or something, I can generally find a suitable matching game soundtrack.

Anyway, while looking for the soundtrack to 999 this morning, I stumbled across this site, which is pretty much the game soundtrack goldmine. (Naturally, you should buy these instead of torrenting whenever that’s an option, but since most of these are obscure Japan-only releases or promotional giveaways that you aren’t going to find for sale, I don’t think anyone’ll look down on you too harshly.)

Secondly, while cleaning out my millions of open firefox tabs, I ran into this, which I meant to share with you several days ago but forgot. It’s a story about some punks who build their own alternative to the Voyager I space probe out of beer cans. There’s a transcript there on the page if you prefer to read, but in this case I recommend listening to the audio version instead, as it’s well-read and funny, and it’s only half an hour long.

Etrian Odyssey IV QR Codes

So Etrian Odyssey 4 came out, for everyone who’s into long and complicated Japanese RPGs where you have to draw your own map. Like me!

It has a feature where you can use the 3DS camera to scan promotional QR codes and get free gear and extra sidequests. Naturally, the people who pay attention to Facebook and Twitter are kindly compiling all the codes they find in a forum thread, for people who don’t pay attention to such things. Like me!

Anyway, click the pic to get there. You’ll have to browse the whole thread, as the first post isn’t fully updated. You will also have to bookmark the page, since the quest codes don’t scan until you get to the part of the game where they’re relevant. Or you could just come back here and click the pic again, I guess!