08 Nov

Pokémon Spotlight: Phantump Family

These are two of my favorite new Pokémon from Gen 6 and near the top of my favorite Grass Pokémon too. It’s hard not to get inspired when looking at these two lovely spooky trees, and their signature Ability, Forest Lord, was among the first that I wrote up for the 1.04 ‘dex as we were adding the new Pokémon.

This post will be the first in a series of Pokémon Spotlights that will hopefully give GMs and players alike inspiration for their games. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shoutout to Old Greg’s Daily Pocket Monster blog, which has sadly been discontinued. His posts were greatly appreciated throughout the Pokémon Tabletop community, and I’ll do my best to fill his shoes. Now, without further ado, let’s jump in!

look out behind you, Serena!

Artwork by 雛瀬かぐや

According to old tales, these Pokémon are stumps possessed by the spirits of children who died while lost in the forest. – Phantump Pokédex entry

Using its roots as a nervous system, it controls the trees in the forest. It’s kind to the Pokémon that reside in its body. – Trevenant Pokédex entry

Quite tantalizing Pokédex entries from a GM’s point of view, aren’t they? Ghost Type Pokédex entries have always explored a somewhat darker side of the Pokémon world that’s rarely directly addressed in the official material, but I thought Phantump and Trevenant were especially interesting because they have another side to them to contrast the morbidity.

Phantumps may be born from the souls of lost children, and Trevenant may trap unfortunate trespassers to their forests. But Trevenants are also guardians of the forest and the caretakers of Pokémon they allow to live within them. I like to imagine that these protective tendencies come from the children’s sense of hopelessness and fear before they died, becoming a strong desire to protect and nurture others as they developed into Trevenant.

While working on the ‘dex for PTU 1.04, I thought about how I would want to run an encounter with Phantump and Trevenant. The idea of a group of these arboreal Pokémon hiding among the normal trees of a forest and manipulating them to strike their increasingly confused and terrified foes greatly appealed to me. Their ability from the Pokédex to control a network of trees became the Forest Lord Ability, of course, which I feel does a great job of giving this Pokémon line something rather unique and interesting.

Phantump Family Plot Hooks

Deep within dark and decaying woods, an ancient Trevenant rises high into the sky. An entire forest ecosystem thrives within its hollow trunk and branches, but these woods are slowly dying, and the Trevenant is no exception. Does the source of this affliction lie in the labyrinthine city spread throughout this Pokémon’s body, or is some external force poisoning the land and killing the forest?

Years ago, an entire Junior Ranger troop lost their lives when an ill-timed storm trapped them within a wintry forest. Now, Phantump haunt the forest, still twisted with bitterness at their circumstances and envy for the living. No one has successfully navigated these woods since the incident, and they are now considered lost to civilization. However, the parents of the kids have gathered together seeking an entourage to help lead them into the forest to gain closure and say their goodbyes. Will this be a heartfelt final reunion, or have years of spite grown too ingrained in the lost children of the woods?

A child falls prey to a deathly curse after trespassing within sacred woodlands where a coterie of Trevenants forbid the presence of humans. It causes their body to slowly fade away into ephemera, and those close to the child start to lose their memories of them. The local doctors are stumped, but an expert in esoteric herbology theorizes that the leaves of a Trevenant offered freely with the forest’s blessing can be brewed into a potent tea that may cure their condition. Will the child’s trespass be forgiven, or is he doomed to fade away, forgotten by even his friends and family?

Phantump Family Builds

The Phantump line plays two major combat rolls excellently, with great Status Moves that allow it to act as a Disabler and Stats and a Move Pool that allow it to be an Offensive Tank as well. In both cases, their Harvest Ability gives them a crucial edge, allowing them to repeatedly use curative berries and defensive berries such as Sitrus, Kee, and Maranga Berries, or more offensive berry options such as Liechi Berries.

The Disabler build can either use Attack Conflict to forgo Attack altogether in favor of defensive Stats, or use its Attack Stat for Moves such as Horn Leech which give it more staying power. Its Natural Move Set has options such as Confuse Ray, Will-o-Wisp, Curse, Leech Seed, and more for wearing down opponents with Status Afflictions, and Moves like Ingrain and Destiny Bond can help it remain standing or make it dangerous to attack. Forest’s Curse can be devastating on a prepared team who can nail a foe with Fire, Flying, and Ice attacks once they’re hexxed. Thanks to datamining, we know what it can learn via tutors in ORAS as well, and the addition of Moves like Block, Pain Split, Magic Coat, and Spite will make a Disabler Treveant even more unpredictable and scary.

The Offensive Tank wants to make the most of Trevenant’s multiple health draining Moves – Horn Leech is learned naturally, and Drain Punch becomes available with tutoring. Dig, Bulldoze, Rock Slide, and Poison Jab give interesting options to give the Pokémon more type coverage to make up for its natural lack of offensive variety. Even without committing to a dedicated Disabler build, Trevenant can make great use of its Status Moves, such as using Will-O-Wisp to lower the Defense of its victims.

Variants and Shinies

Like so many Grass Pokémon, Trevenant has multiple Abilities related to the Sunny Weather, which can seem a bit at odds with the vision of the spooky tree Pokémon lurking deep within dark haunted woods. Personally, I find it easier to imagine them living in a thick and humid jungle where the canopy blocks out most of the sun, or within a snowy forest where sunlight is scarce most of the year. Either way, it can be interesting to give the Pokémon different Abilities depending on where in the region they’re found.

Winter Trevenant: The Pokémon’s branches are devoid of leaves and usually weighed down by heavy clumps of snow. Their ghostly bodies, more visible on a Phantump than a Trevenant, are a bleached white color rather than pitch black.
Mechanics: Replace Harvest with Winter’s Kiss and Leaf Guard with Abominable. Replace Growth with Mist.

Rainforest Trevenant: The Pokémon is mottled with a layer of moss and wreathed with vines. Their leaves reflect a medley of designs, taken from the myriad trees they live among. Whether due to their natural habitat or perhaps just an inherent quality, their bark is usually slightly damp and they smell of fresh dew.
Mechanics: Replace Leaf Guard with Hydration and Harvest with Rain Dish. Rainforest Trevenant are born with the Water Sport Move and can learn Aqua Jet with Latent Potential.

Ashen Trevenant: This particular regional variant of Phantump and Trevenant is quite rare and sought after by collectors and battlers alike for their unique fireproof properties. One can most reliably find them by looking through the aftermath of recent wildfires.

These variants of the species stand out like a sore thumb – their bark turns a stark white in reaction to exposure to fire, and their leaves become red and orange, looking much like Shiny Trevenants. They fade back into their original coloration within days of exposure, making the window of opportunity to identify and capture them quite small. Soon after a wildfire, they migrate en masse to another forest where they eventually become indistinguishable from their more mundane neighbors once more.
Mechanics: Fire Punch can be taught via Tutor. Restructure the Pokémon’s Ability list as follows:

Basic Ability: Flash Fire
Adv Ability 1: Natural Cure
Adv Ability 2: Harvest
Adv Ability 3: Life Force / Forest Lord
High Ability: Guardian Wisps

Guardian Wisps
Scene – Free Action
Effect: Connection – Will-O-Wisp. Once a Scene when the user may activate this Ability while using Will-O-Wisp. Instead of attacking an opponent, the user summons two Guardian Wisps. Whenever the user is targeted by a foe within 6 meters, the user may expend a Guardian Wisp to immediately use the Move Will-O-Wisp, ignoring Frequency, against their Attacker as a Free Action.

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