27 Dec

Pokémon Spotlight: Dunsparce

Dunsparce is adorable. Do I really have to say more? Well, maybe I should, or this wouldn’t be worth posting on its own.


Artwork by usutsuki

It creates mazes in dark locations. When spotted, it flees into the ground by digging with its tail. – Dunsparce Pokédex Entry

Dunsparce continues our course of covering Pokémon whose stat deficiencies become much less significant in the transition from video game to tabletop. Probably its biggest gain in PTU, however, is the addition of two Connection Abilities that effectively expand its maximum movelist size by two. Spite and Dig are pretty potent Moves with the effects of Spiteful Intervention and Dig Away behind them too.

Dunsparce Plot Hooks

Priceless artifacts are disappearing at a world-changing archaeological dig site in the middle of the night. A quick investigation reveals the startling truth – a vast network of Dunsparce tunnels exists just underneath the dig site, and the burrowing Pokémon have been sneaking the artifacts away while everyone sleeps. The tunnels are too small for humans to fit inside, and they are too delicate to expand without risking the collapse of the entire site! What do the Dunsparce want with the artifacts? Are they merely shiny tokens they’re collecting, or do they serve some important purpose for the colony? Can they be negotiated with, or is the best solution to send Pokémon in to retrieve the artifacts?

(This is a great hook to use if you want to give your players a break from the usual routine and let them roleplay as their smaller Pokémon instead of their Trainer as they explore the Dunsparce colony’s tunnels and try to negotiate with the burrowing snakes – or attempt a heist!)

A talking Dunsparce has been said to appear to lost travelers wandering through a certain swamp. The advice it gives is of dubious worth and often laced with lies but no outright malicious intent. Despite its poor reputation, it’s been said that it knows ancient secrets about the swamp and is willing to share them if it likes you, but only for the right price – a bottle of fine liquor. What is the truth behind this mysterious Dunsparce? How does it know what it knows? …What’s its favorite drink?

A strange underground city uses Dunsparce to deliver messages between distant districts. However, they start going missing, one by one, and communication in the city is put at risk. Despite their best efforts, the citizens are baffled, as the tunnels for the Pokémon appear undamaged, and there’s no sign of struggle at the tunnel entrances either. Is some stealthy predator feasting upon the city’s Dunsparce? Or is someone perhaps trying to ensure certain messages don’t get delivered within the city?

Dunsparce Builds

Dunsparce is privileged to be among one of the few non-Legendary Pokémon lines with the Serene Grace Ability, and it can make pretty excellent use of that with its Tutor and TM Moves. With a Physical build, Rock Slide, Headbutt, Bite, Zen Headbutt, and Body Slam are all strong options. A character using Brutal Training may decide to specialize in both triggering Dunsparce’s Effect Ranges on Moves as well as scoring Critical Hits, making Drill Run a powerful choice as well. Aqua Tail, Pursuit, and a multitude of other Moves can give Dunsparce better Type coverage. The glaring weakness of this tactic, however, is that Dunsparce has rather poor Speed and won’t make great use of Flinch effect ranges without some Vitamin help or another means to change Base Stat Relations.

On the Special side, Dunsparce has Ancient Power, Water Pulse, Secret Power, and a variety of the most popular effective TMs (Thunderbolt, Ice Beam, Flamethrower…) to make use of with Serene Grace. Dunsparce also does well as a pure annoyer. Spite, Yawn, and Glare are in its Level-Up Move list, and it can pick up Magic Coat, Stealth Rock, Attract, and more from TMs, Egg Moves, and Tutors. Dig Away helps it stay alive, and Spiteful Intervention makes one of your disrupting Moves free on your Move list. Perhaps one of its greatest strengths is that you can never be quite sure what a Dunsparce is going to spring on you, from the strategies I outlined here to more niche combinations like Defense Curl + Rollout.

Variants and Shinies

1. Dancesparce: This Dunsparce variant sure has some moves! Living in a region where permafrost and ground ice make burrowing underground difficult for most of the year, this population of Dunsparce have adapted to using their drill-like tails for other purposes. They’re able to balance on the tip and spin like a top in a dizzying dance that confuses potential predators and allows them to move more nimbly in combat.
Mechanics: Rattled is replaced with Spinning Dance, and Teeter Dance is learned at Level 20. At Level 37, this Dunsparce chooses between learning Coil or Quiver Dance.

2. Primeval Dunsparce: Forgotten by time and civilization, this Dunsparce variant lives deep underground where light is virtually non-existent. Despite its large size, it has a rather slow metabolism and sleeps for long periods of time – unless it’s disturbed and awakened, of course.
Mechanics: Normal/Ground Type. Large Size, WC 5, Power 8, has the Blindsense and Tremorsense Capabilities. Replace Take Down with Magnitude, Roost with Rest, and Double-Edge with Head Smash.

3. Sage Dunsparce: This rare, possibly one-of-a-kind, Dunsparce was found waddling about in the middle of a Dream World research lab, having dug its away in and seemingly attracted by the Dream Smoke stored in large vats throughout the facility. It has the most curious ability, which has both intrigued and terrified those who’ve met it – place this Dunsparce on someone’s head, and it will begin talking to give sagely life advice for the person if they are awake or narrating their dreams to everyone around them if the person is asleep.

When not resting on someone’s head, it behaves as any Dunsparce would and does not appear any more intelligent than a normal specimen despite its Psychic Typing. Scientists have also noted that the Dunsparce speaks in a manner very similar to the person whose head they’ve been placed upon, and they seem capable of drawing upon the person’s memories and emotions when giving advice.

No one knows what happens if you try to position the Dunsparce so it’s half on one person’s head and half on another’s.
Mechanics: Normal/Psychic Type, has the Dream Reader Capability. Replace Spite with Hypnosis and Spiteful Intervention with Hypnotic. Replace Take Down with Zen Headbutt. Can learn Psychic Type TMs.

And as a bonus, since Game Freak refused to do this for us…


Artwork by Dragonith

Mega Dunsparce
Mega Ability: Regalize
Type Change: Normal –> Normal/Dragon
Stat Bonuses: +4 Speed, +3 Atk, +3 Defense
Capability Changes: Jump changes to 2/2, gains Sky 7

At-Will – Free Action
Trigger: The user uses a Normal-Type damaging Move.
Effect: The Move is changed to be Dragon-Type.

This version of Mega Dunsparce pays tribute to its resemblance to the Mesoamerican Feathered Serpent, letting the burrowing snake take to the air with a dragon’s dignity.

Special thanks to CounterBeard, zoofman, Domovoi, and Aori for helping me pull this post together after I lost a draft of it I started a while ago!

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