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A short while ago, I asked a question about Pokérole, and received a satisfactory answer. However, that answer made me think of another, related question: How is the level of an evolved Pokémon calculated?

The rules for calculating level seem quite clear: A Pokémon starts at level 1, and every time I improve one of its stats or teach it a new move, its level increases by a specific amount. In almost all cases, the later evolutionary stages of a Pokémon evolutionary path are more inherently powerful than the earlier stages: At level 1, a second- or final-stage Pokémon will have higher starting stats and start out knowing more moves than its first-stage equivalent.

Where this gets weird is when a Pokémon raised from its first stage evolves into a later one: Applying the rules I just described means that a Pokémon's level depends on the stage you started building it from.

For example, suppose I have a level 1 Squirtle. I train its dexterity up a dot and teach it Water Gun, raising it to level 4. Shortly afterward, it evolves into a Wartortle. It now has... Exactly the same abilities that a level 1 Wartortle would have started with. Except that it counts as being three levels higher.

This probably isn't a huge issue, since the level differences it results in are usually pretty minor. Still, level is used to calculate a number of things, most notably including how many experience points a Pokémon is worth when defeated; I can't shake the feeling that I might have missed something. Is level supposed to be adjusted upward when building evolved Pokémon to account for advancement during their earlier stages, or not? Or is it up to each table and GM to decide?

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You decide

There's no RAW about this. The fact that none of the listed Pokémons have a default level is a clear indicator for me that, RAI-wise, you can decide for yourself.

The biggest kink in all this is that if you catch a Pokémon through battling, then the Pokémon you used gets the short end of the stick with regards to experience. If you want to apply the rules, then you need to have the level of the Pokémon (but the pokedex don't list default levels). So either you calculate it (based on the level rules) or you just award experience based on how dangerous it was (catching a Charizard vs catching a Charmander).

The Evolution stages (like: when reaching a certain age / size / Maturity / anything stones related) have no link to level.

If you want to go meta, you could play up this whole level thing as human concept that doesn't make sense with regards to Pokémons (as in nobody talks about having a level 5 dog / cat / goldfish).


How to calculate levels?

The rules for Gaining Levels is listed on p61. Let's apply this step by step to the Squirtle we have:

  1. Our Squirtle (level 1) doesn't know Tackle.
    • It raises dexterity from 1 to 2. This boosts it's level by 2. We now have a level 3 Squirtle.
    • We train it to use Water Gun. The level of the Squirtle is now 4.
    • If evolved, it becomes a level 4 Wartortle (that still doesn't know Tackle).
  2. The trainer acquires a Squirtle (level 1).
    • We train it to use Tackle (or the ST ruled that it knew it), the level of our Squirtle remains the same (level 1).
    • We increase dexterity. It's now level 3.
    • After learning Water Gun it becomes level 4.
    • If evolved, it becomes a level 4 Wartortle (that knows Tackle & Water Gun).

You don't seem to have missed anything with regards to the level calculation.

Important point is that moves with zero experience cost are not automatically known by a Pokémon. On p25 in the "Filling a Pokémon character sheet" it's stated that this is done by the discretion of the ST.

Returning to the Wartortle. Based upon the Storyteller tip on p61 & the sidebar on p78 you could do the following for when the players encounter one in the wild:

  • It could know Tackle, Water Gun, both or neither and still be level 1.
  • It could be level 2, having mastered Tail Whip and Tackle, Water Gun, both or neither.
  • It could also be level 3 (coming from a Squirtle that raised its dexterity to 2) and know Tackle, Water Gun, both or neither.
  • It could also be level 10 (coming from Squirtle and having a maxed out Dexterity) and know Tackle, Water Gun, both or neither.

This information could be telegraphed to the players by describing the actions of the Wartortle:

  • They go in to capture it, but it defends itself with a Tail Whip and escapes.
  • The player's Pokémon isn't agile enough to corner the level 10 Wartortle with maxed Dexterity.

Or you could ignore the entire level thing for wild Pokémon and just play them as you like. If they get captured, you calculate the level based upon what moves you used & stats. You can balance this out with a higher disobedience if you fear that players get their hands on a powerful Pokémon (as noted on p27 in the Disobedience section).

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Is level supposed to be adjusted upward when building evolved Pokémon to account for advancement during their earlier stages, or not?

I think it is. What my group did was calculate the level of Evolved Pokémon taking its non-evolved form as the base for level 1.

In your Squirtle example. Its starting Attributes at Level 1 are:
STR 2/4
DEX 1/3
VIT 2/4
SPE 2/4
INS 2/4

I'll disregard Moves for the moment, assuming that it was only taught those with zero exp. cost.

Wartortle's starting Attributes are:
STR 2/4
DEX 2/4
VIT 2/5
SPE 2/4
INS 2/5

It really only "increased" its second point in DEX compared to its previous form, making this Wartortle level 3 if we take Squirtle as the base for level 1.

That means that your Squirtle should at least get that second point on DEX (or get to level 3), to evolve into a Wartortle as page 78 says that the starting attributes are the weakest.

If you continue calculating up to Blastoise's Starting Attributes:
STR 2/5
DEX 2/5
VIT 3/6
SPE 2/5
INS 3/6

Wartortle should get trained to get the third point on VIT and INS to evolve into a Blastoise.

In the end you'd get: Squirtle - lvl 1 Wartortle - lvl 3 Blastoise lvl - 9 (Consider that they are all at their weakest, though)

So if you have a Squirtle, buy its second point in Dexterity, the Move "water gun" making it level 4 and Evolve it, It would be a level 4 Wartortle, it would be 1 level higher than a wild Wartortle who learned "Water gun" naturally, because you started training it before. That's what they meant by saying you could have an un-evolved pokemon that could be just as powerful, if not more than its evolved stages.

For Pokemon who evolve by other means, such as Trade or with Stones, I believe there could be cases where they could come out weaker or at a lower level that they should, but you can see that they lose the chance to learn certain moves or they become too expensive, and thus players are encouraged to keep them un-evolved for longer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While your group's interpretation is plausible, it's not the only plausible one. I've looked at the link you provided, and while it can be interpreted as meaning what you say it does, it could also just be saying that as a Pokemon can evolve at any level, level and evolutionary stage aren't strongly correlated. What makes you believe your group's interpretation to be on the only correct one? \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Jan 2 '16 at 9:46

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