Cedar the mudkip has always been an outcast, but she never let it get her down. Instead of swimming with her peers, she loves to play in the dirt and mud. She wants to be more connected with her earthen roots, but her tribe only sees themselves as water elementals, and everyone she knows sees earth pokemon as silly and useless. Cedar's hopes of meeting like-minded pokemon seem slim, until the day a mysterious desert egg pops up in her village. Upon setting out to bring the egg home, Cedar will embark on a life-changing journey where she'll meet new friends, face villains and hardship, and find roots she never knew she had.
Finding Your Roots is an Omega Ruby earthlocke told in the style of Pokemon Mystery Dungeons. Pokemon belongs to Nintendo and Game Freak, and PMD belongs to Nintendo, Game Freak, and Chunsoft.
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Hello, and welcome to a new series that I like to call Finding Your Roots: Gameplay Retrospectives! This is brought to you by my readers over on Deviantart, who expressed interest in learning more about the gameplay that became FYR! As you all know, FYR is based on a Nuzlocke run of Pokemon Omega Ruby that I played in July 2018. I wasn’t originally planning to turn that gameplay into a comic, but I luckily took some very detailed notes on what occurred, so let’s get into it! This first entry will go over the gameplay for Chapters 1-5 of FYR.
Rustboro Gym: Leader Roxanne
Dewford Gym: Leader Brawley
Met: Route 101, lv 5
Personality: Brave, Good endurance
Met: Route 116, lv 6
Ability: Compound Eyes
Personality: Rash, Proud of her power
Met: Granite Cave, lv 10
Personality: Careful, Quick to flee
Met: Granite Cave, lv 1
Ability: Arena Trap
Personality: Jolly, Strong willed
Cedar: Mudkip (Route 101)
Shelly: Nincada (Route 116)
Brawler: Geodude (Granite Cave)
Nauki: Trapinch (Granite Cave)
Cedar: Mudkip > Marshtomp
The gameplay for Book One of FYR was, for the most part, simple and straightforward! There weren’t a lot of big surprises or shocking twists. The Nuzlocke gameplay was fairly vanilla with one exception: This was an earthlocke. My ruleset dictated that I could only catch ground, rock, and steel-types for the entire run, along with pokemon that would eventually evolve to have one of those three types. (I call this group of pokemon earth-types.)
Why did I choose to play this way? Because earth-types are the BEST! I fell in love with them in late 2017, when I played a duolocke of Pokemon Sun that was essentially carried by two earth-types on my team: Pebba the gigalith and Abbaley the mudsdale. These girls were freaking BEASTS and demolished Alola under their earthen feet. After doing some thinking about previous nuzlockes I’ve ran, I realized just how reliably tanky and strong a lot of earth-types are. Rock-types have amazing defense and attack, ground-types have some incredible moves, and steel-types resist almost everything in the game. They’re like, the perfect types! Before I started earthlocking Omega Ruby, I’d just gotten out of a Heartgold nuzlocke that went really poorly, so I wanted to go easy on myself for this next run. Hence, I decided to only catch the three best types in the game. This is also why I implemented my revive clause: I was allowed to ignore three faints throughout the run.
The run began with receiving Cedar from Professor Birch. I was excited to see that I got a female mudkip on the first try! I consider female starters to be lucky omens for nuzlocke runs, so I already felt set up for a great run. Why did I name her Cedar? Idk, the name just kinda jumped out at me! I collected my new baby mudkip, beat up May’s treecko without any trouble, and moved along out of Littleroot and into the world of Hoenn.
So, here’s the first major difference between the comic and its gameplay. In the comic, Cedar finds the egg in Littleroot. But in the gameplay, the egg did not actually enter the party until Petalburg City. I don’t quite remember why I waited that long to trade the egg into the game. Maybe that was the point in the game where the trade function became available? I’m not sure. But between Littleroot and Petalburg, Cedar was the only pokemon in the party.
Once I finished the cutscene with Wally, the egg was bred by @pkmnMasterWheeler and traded to me by an old friend, @Polymori. I had no idea what was in the egg; it was a surprise that the two of them decided on together! Trapinch is an incredibly special and important pokemon to me, so Polymori decided the egg should have a trapinch inside. The reason I had an egg traded into the game in the first place was because I wanted this to be an easy, relaxed nuzlocke run. Since I couldn’t make any catches until Rustboro, I felt it was a long time to go with only a single pokemon to rely on. The egg was supposed to act as a second starter, a free catch to help me through the early game.
I originally planned to trade it in and hatch it immediately, but that didn’t end up happening. I just left the egg in the party with Cedar until it hatched naturally. Why? Because I didn’t need it. Cedar was a BEAST! With a brave nature to boost her attack, this little girl decimated Hoenn. There was no challenge that could stand in her way, no pokemon strong enough to defeat her! This is why I decided for Cedar’s character to be a little fighter who’s ready to throw down no matter what. And because she was the only pokemon in the party, she soaked up exp. points like a sponge in an ocean. Pretty quickly, she was overleveled. We passed through Petalburg Woods without any issues, and the fight against the first Magma grunt was a joke. This is why I combined the Wally encounter in Petalburg City with the whole Petalburg Woods segment and cut out the Magma grunt fight; there wasn’t really anything interesting from the gameplay to show! Once we reached Rustboro City, she was level 15 and on the cusp of her first evolution. It was time for Rustboro Gym!
Another major comic-to-gameplay difference: while Cedar met Shelly before the gym battle began, I actually didn’t make my second catch until after the gym battle was over. This was a rock gym and I had an overleveled water-type, so I wasn’t concerned about this battle. Usually, hubris is what gets me in nuzlockes, but not this time! Cedar swept the gym like a champion. Here are the notes I took on the battle! I hope they’re comprehensible. :’D
Rustboro Gym Battle:
Cedar sent out. Geodude sent out.
Cedar used water gun. 1hp sturdy.
Geodude used rock tomb. Little dmg.
Roksa used super potion. Geodude healed to ⅔ green.
Cedar used tackle. Half green.
Cedar used water gun. Geodude fainted!
Nosepass sent out.
Nosepass used tackle. A critical hit! Half yellow. ¾ green from oran berry.
Cedar used water gun. Half green.
Nosepass used tackle. Half green.
Cedar used water gun. Red.
Nosepass used tackle. A critical hit! ⅓ yellow.
Cedar used water gun. Nosepass fainted!
Once the gym battle was complete, Cedar hit level 16 and evolved! I had a Marshtomp already and a cool gym battle evolution set up for my comic! (Even though I didn’t know it at the time, since I didn’t decide to make a comic until the run was complete. But it was really lucky!) The only surprises that the gym threw at me were the two critical hits that Nosepass got on her. As you can see from the notes, she took care of Geodude without any problems but struggled more on Nosepass. This is why, in the comic, Cedar takes out Stonecrusher without much issue but struggles a lot more when fighting Roksa the Nosepass.
Then, it was time for our first proper catch! See, the reason I didn’t catch a nincada before the gym battle is because I actually forgot there was an available earth-type near Rustboro. XD Before I started the run, I even checked the available catches on every early-game route to see when I would be able to catch pokemon, and I still forgot! So, when I headed to Route 116, I ran into nincada by happenstance. Cedar battled her, I threw my pokeball, and Shelly was caught!
Shelly was named after a ninjask I had in a nuzlocke run of Pokemon X named Shell. And Shell the ninjask, by extension, was named after a pet I had at the time, a mouse named Shelly. So Shelly is named after a ninjask that was named after a mouse lol. But see, the unfortunate thing about this catch was that while Cedar was level 16, Shelly was only level 6. She was flimsy and weak and had a looooong way to go to catch up. So, for most of the gameplay going forward, I only ever sent Shelly out to switch train her on various trainers.
Shelly was underleveled for all of Book One’s gameplay, and additionally, she was weak in general. I couldn’t use her in a fight without her HP dropping quickly, and she was incapable of dealing significant damage. But she was still my pokemon, and I can be pretty loyal to team members, so I didn’t box her. It’s funny: when Chapter 4 was releasing, most people expected me to box Shelly and write her off the team by having her join Peako’s pirate crew. Nah! Shelly was in the party the entire time. But she was still very weak, and this explains Shelly’s characterization in the comic. Comic!Shelly has a lot of anxiety about conflict and violence. Unlike Cedar, she isn’t a fighter at all; conflict makes her nervous, and she tends to run away or hide behind her teammates rather than fight anyone herself. Shelly hiding behind Cedar a lot of the time in the comic is a direct translation of me switch-training her. I would send Shelly into battle on the first turn, and then immediately switch in Cedar to take care of the danger. It felt like Shelly would bump into danger and immediately run back to hide behind Cedar! So, this is how I decided to write her in the comic.
Once we reached Dewford Town, I went to Granite Cave right away, encountered a Geodude, caught him, and named him Brawler. Another major comic-to-gameplay difference: Brawler was caught as a Geodude in-game but is introduced as a graveler in-comic. I think I’ve explained this before in a Q&A, but the reason for the change is that I wanted Brawler to be the adult of the team. In FYR, evolution is linked to aging; pokemon will naturally evolve as they age, so having an adult geodude on the team didn’t make sense with FYR’s worldbuilding. All Geodudes who reach Brawler’s age will have evolved into graveler already! I decided to introduce Brawler as an adult because throughout most of the gameplay, Brawler was an extremely reliable presence on the team. I could always trust him to switch in safely, tank a hit, and pack a punch. He was a caretaker! Almost like… a dad? :3c So yeah, this is why Brawler is characterized this way, and this is why I introduced him as a graveler. I’ll note in a future Gameplay Retrospective when he actually evolved into graveler in-game.
It was time for the Dewford Gym, but just like with Rustboro Gym, I wasn’t too concerned. Cedar was powerful and overleveled. My main concern was that she didn’t have any backup. The egg wasn’t hatched yet, and my new catches were still weak and underleveled. But after battling the gym trainers, I felt confident enough to make the incredibly smart decision of… switch-training on the gym leader.
… YEAH IDK EITHER!
Dewford Gym Battle:
Shelly sent out. Machop sent out.
Cedar switched in.
Machop used bulk up.
Cedar used mud shot. ⅓ yellow.
Brawley used super potion. Machop at full.
Cedar used water gun. ⅓ yellow.
Cedar used water gun. Machop fainted!
Brawler switched in. Makuhita sent out.
Cedar switched in.
Makuhita used sand attack.
Cedar used mud shot. Missed.
Makuhita used bulk up.
Cedar used mud shot. Half yellow.
Makuhita used bulk up.
Cedar used water gun. Makuhita fainted!
But despite being an idiot, this gym battle was a joke. Cedar quite literally didn’t take a hit, and Brawler and Shelly got their juicy, juicy exp. The switch-training is represented in the comic by Brawler and Shelly going to with Cedar to watch her battle against Tiny and Silver. Since switch-training in nuzlockes is usually represented by the switch-trained characters observing the battle and taking notes on the battle to learn, I did a looser version of this! Additionally, while Cedar struggled against Tiny in the comic, her taking out Silver in a single-hit is what I used to represent the gym battle being laughably easy.
And then, the most miraculous thing happened. As we were heading into Granite Cave to meet with Steven Stone, the egg hatched. (Comic-Gameplay Difference: The egg in-game hatched before we met Steven Stone, but in-comic, it hatched after that encounter.) And the baby was a trapinch! :D
Okay, so I’m gonna explain why the egg baby is a trapinch, because it’s actually quite the story. Before I became a comic artist, I was a prose writer. I used to write lots of books and pokemon fanfiction. In 2015 while I was in high school, I suffered a pretty bad trauma in my life (not as bad as you’re thinking, I swear) and processed out the experience by writing a fanfiction story about a trapinch named Nauki and a mudkip named Nalo, taking place in Hoenn. It’s titled In The Heart of Mt. Chimney. This book is still what I consider to be the best story I’ve ever written, and because of it, the pokemon trapinch captured a really special place in my heart. Many years later, in 2018, I decided to rewrite this fanfiction as an original novel with human characters and try to publish it professionally. This was at the exact same time that I played this earthlocke run of Pokemon Omega Ruby! My friends knew this, and Polymori decided the egg should be a trapinch due to this special connection.
The line-up couldn’t have been more perfect. In The Heart of Mt. Chimney was about a trapinch and his adopted mudkip older sister, found family-style. It took place in Hoenn. And it was inspired by an event in my life that occurred because of my country’s racism. So of course, when the egg hatched, I had to name the baby Nauki.
Also, he was hatched with a shit ton of crazy egg moves. PkmnMasterWheeler went NUTS breeding this little guy!!! He had like, earth power and rock slide and dig??? What the frick! XD
And that’s it for the gameplay of Book One of FYR! Overall, it was pretty straightforward and vanilla, but I think the comic-gameplay differences and the gameplay translations into the comic’s story are pretty interesting! FYR being based on gameplay is very important to me. I don’t just want to loosely follow Pokemon Omega Ruby’s plot, I want to follow FYR’s gameplay. The distinction is very important to me, and that fact will become more and more clear as the comic progresses. We’ll do another Gameplay Retrospective at the end of Chapter 7.
Until then, ciao!