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.

Pokémon RTM 1.4

New rule. I call it the “Gary Oak Is a Motherfucker” rule.

The problem with Gary (and Pokérivals in general) is that a) they are very high level compared to other trainers you’ve dealt with leading up to that fight, and therefore will obliterate you if you aren’t ready for them, and b) they appear out of nowhere, so you WON’T be ready for them, unless you’ve played through the game before and know when to expect them.

(Yes, it is obvious at this point: Gary kicked my goddamn ass in Cerulean.)

It is not really suggested that you play your first run through a pokémon game this way. But I want it to be possible, so something obviously needs to be done about that motherfucker Gary.

The Gary Oak Is a Motherfucker rule is this: For any trainer battle in which the trainer surprises you by running in from offscreen, you are allowed one mulligan — that is, any pokémon fainted in your first attempt only at that fight may be healed for free, without revives, even in the event of a total party wipe. If you wipe, you had better find somewhere else to train before activating that event again.

If you know when and where Gary shows up, you may not take the mulligan. This is only for unexpected trainer battles. (And, to reiterate, they have to come from offscreen, so “I didn’t know that NPC standing there was a trainer” doesn’t count either.)

Pokémon RTM 1.3

Discovered a problem with using the PC to temporarily store fainted pokémon so that they aren’t healed by the Nurse: turns out the PC also heals mons. That throws a bit of a wrench into things.

New Rule: Assign a particular PC box to be Fainted Pokémon Storage. Rename the box accordingly, in games that permit it. Whenever you have a fainted (but not killed) party member, and don’t have a Revive to heal it with, drop them off in that box as soon as possible. (Remember to switch back to your main box afterward, so that captured mons aren’t sent to the Fainted box.) You may withdraw mons from that box only by paying for each one by discarding a Revive from your inventory. (You don’t need to roll the die.)

You may leave fainted mons in your party if you wish (for example if you’re on your way to the Lavender Tower heal pad, or somewhere where a Revive is available, etc.), but you cannot use Pokécenter healing while you have fainted party members.

Pokémon: RTM 1.2

Blame @ZombieHam for this.

1) When a pokémon wishes to learn a new move (due to levelling up) but already has four moves, roll:
   1: The move is not learned.
    2-3: Roll again:
       • 1-4: Replace the corresponding move. (re-roll if impossible [HM])
       • 5: The move is not learned.
       • 6: Replace the move of your choice (or don’t learn it, if you prefer).
    4-6: Replace the move of your choice (or don’t learn it, if you prefer).

2) When attempting to teach a move to a pokémon using an HM or TM, and the pokémon already has 4 moves, roll:
    1: Randomly select a different party member that is permitted to learn that move. Start this process over, except you are now attempting to teach the move to the new pokémon.
    2-3: Roll again:
       • 1-4 Replace the corresponding move. (re-roll if impossible [HM])
       • 5: If a TM, throw it away unused. If an HM, start over.
       • 6: Replace the move of your choice.
    4-6: Replace the move of your choice.

Yes, this is horrible. You are training horrible little monsters who do not listen to you, and who get in the way when you’re trying to teach new moves to other party members. As a trainer, your job is to embrace anarchy and roll with the punches; to survive, you must adapt to the capricious whims of fate (and little bastard monsters).

Pokémon: RTM 1.1

I started testing out Real Trainer Mode on an ebay copy of Fire Red. Some early thoughts and rule adjustments:

a) In PARTY.3 (withdrawing from the PC), change the 1 result to: “Roll for a random party member. If you roll a blank space, nothing happens and the withdraw is unsuccessful. Otherwise, the party member indicated is deleted and replaced with the withdrawn pokémon.”

b) In COMBAT.1 (switching), change the die results to:
   1: The switch fails. Continue with the fight.
   2-3: Roll for a random party member. If you roll the currently active pokémon, the switch fails and the fight continues. Otherwise, switch to the indicated party member. If you roll an ineligible result, roll again.
   4-6: Switch as normal.

New optional rule: To fully experience the infuriating magic of Twitch Plays Pokémon, roll a die whenever you move to a space which is adjacent to a ledge. On a roll of 1, you must hop down. (Suggested by Jenni)

Suggestion: For more TPP goodness, name your pokémon randomly by closing your eyes, moving the d-pad around, and occasionally pressing A. In later-gen games, you may wish to switch to lowercase after the first letter. (My Squirtle’s name is “H tores”.)

Warning: Be super goddamn careful at the beginning of the game, before you get pokéballs. If Gary or wild pokémon knock out your starter before you have the opportunity to get any more guys, it’s game over. Remember to pick up the free Potion from your home PC.


(NOTICE: If you got here from Googling for Real Trainer Mode, what you probably want is this page. This one here is the old version.)

So, as some of you are aware, I got super into the whole Twitch Plays Pokemon thing. At least for Gen I (Red), that is; I haven’t gotten into the new game (Crystal) as much. Maybe because I don’t have any nostalgia for Gen II. I really enjoyed the first run, though, and kind of didn’t want it to end. I considered doing a Nuzlocke run, but that doesn’t have any of the random accidents and surprises that made the TPP run so interesting. So I started making up my own set of rules.

As I was working on them, I had the thought that they were turning into a somewhat realistic simulation of what it would actually be like to be a pokémon trainer. After all, you couldn’t actually choose what attacks your guys use in fights — at best, you could shout suggestions at them, and maybe they’d listen, but more likely they’d be distracted by the crazy goddamn thing they’re fighting. And storing living creatures electronically on a home computer? Not just that but sending them over a modem line to the computer of some dude named Bill that you hardly even know? Are you nuts?

So, here’s my set of rules. The game plays basically the same, until you either get into a fight, or try to interact with a PC, at which point you’ll need a regular six-sided die. These rules aren’t tested yet, as I’m waiting on a cheap used GBA I ordered off eBay. If you try this out, let me know how it went. Share some stories.


1) You may catch any number of pokémon, without restriction.

2) Before attempting to manually store a pokémon in the PC, roll a die. If you roll a 1, delete it immediately.

3) Before attempting to withdraw any pokémon from the PC, roll a die:
1: Delete a random member of your party. if you roll an empty space, do not reroll. Regardless, the withdraw is unsuccessful.
2: Delete the pokémon you were attempting to withdraw.
3: Delete a random pokémon from the top 6 of the current box. (Again, do not reroll blanks.) The withdraw is unsuccessful.
4-6: Withdraw is successful.

1) You may attempt to switch pokémon at the beginning of a combat round. Roll a die:
1-2: Roll again and switch to that party member. Re-roll if that is impossible.
3-6: Switch as normal.

2) After resolving any switching (or deciding not to switch), roll a die:
1-4: Use the attack corresponding to that number. Re-roll if that is impossible.
5: You may use an item of your choice, or try to escape, or roll again.
6: You may use an item of your choice, or an attack of your choice, or try to escape.

1) Pokémon killed by poison or burn damage (whether in combat or in the world) are dead permanently.

2) Pokémon that faint must be healed with a Revive before they can be healed normally (e.g. potion, Pokécenter, etc.).
— Fainted pokémon that are healed accidentally must be destroyed immediately.
— You are permitted to use the PC to temporarily store fainted pokémon so that they aren’t healed at the Pokécenter, but they must be withdrawn immediately afterward. Fainted pokémon stored for any other reason are subject to the standard PC-use rules.
— Unusual healing circumstances (e.g. the heal pad in Lavender Tower) are permitted for fainted pokémon. (Therefore, a pilgrimage back to Lavender Town is a possibility, if you can’t afford to buy Revives. Good luck with the ghosts.) Mom’s healing does not count as unusual.

3) In the event of a total party wipe, all current party members are killed permanently.

4) Treat permanently killed members of your party as blank slots until you can get back to a PC to discard them. Pokémon that are only fainted are still subject to (e.g.) being chosen as sacrifices to the PC.

1) Eggs are treated as regular pokémon for all possible purposes. For example, eggs carried during a party wipe are destroyed along with your regular pokémon.

2) You are not permitted to teach HM02 (Fly) to any pokémon.

3) No trading with other players. You may trade with yourself, if you want to import your crew to another game.

4) Do not use the Pokéwalker.

5) You may use the Daycare freely. It is recommended you do so before screwing around with the PC.

6) Optional: For extra difficulty, allow escaping from fights only on a roll of 6, rather than the usual 5 or 6.

ermagerd cersterch

So remember that cross-stitch thing I was working on two and a half years ago, and then stopped when I was about 90% finished? Well, I finally got around to picking it back up again.

This is a Prinny from the Disgaea games. They are the souls of dead criminals, who have gone to hell and been given the bodies of penguins. Penguins that explode when you kick them.

Unfortunately, the color palette in Disgaea is kind of muted and desaturated, which made the color-matching for this guy the real hell (har). I guess he came out okay, but I wish I could have found a slightly lighter blue-gray for the main body color. He doesn’t look as nice as Wooper, that’s for sure.

Anyway, just two more characters left.