I’m not sure if I ever mentioned this before, but I now have a local group to play Dungeons & Dragons with.

I’m in a messaging group of local Pokemon GO players, to coordinate raids. But of course it’s not all ‘business’ that we talk about, and I’ve gotten to know quite a few local people that I would otherwise not have been connected with. People help each other with small stuff as well, and that’s pretty neat!
One day someone was invited to a raid that was close to their home, but they declined because they were playing D&D at a friends house. Several people in the group remarked that they were curious about it and that they wanted to try it out to see what it was about. Turns out that I was the only one with game mastering experience, so I ended up with a group of three players, two of whom had never played before. I ran a version of “The Secret of Cedar Peak” for them, and they are credited as playtesters as well. Lots of fun, and I even ran a really short session for two of the players one evening.

Last weekend was a special raid weekend in Pokemon GO, and I participated in a little ‘raid train’ across the area with a group. As usual with these things, the group thinned out a bit, and we were left with five people for the last three battles. Two of these were the new-to-D&D players from the group. While waiting for a raid to begin, we chatted a bit (as we always do) and in the course of that conversation one of the D&D players mentioned that me and the other knew what their kitchen looked like. Visiting other Pokemon GO players is unusual, so that prompted some questioning, and we told that we had played D&D at the kitchen table there.
And then the two D&D players started to convince the other two that it was a lot of fun, and now I have a group of five players! I’m busy creating characters for the new players (which is not that easy if you don’t have any experience with D&D), and we’re scheduled to play next week Saturday!

Casual raid trains

Today in Pokemon Go, from 16:00 for three hours, the Legendary Pokemon Raikou was in raids in every Gym. This is not new — it’s been in raids and even in the weekly field research breakthroughs, but from today it can actually be shiny! Shiny Pokemon have a variant colour scheme and are extra-rare, but it doesn’t have any game effects. And since it was a special Raid Day, you’d get five free raid passes today, instead of the usual one. With a pass you could have saved from yesterday, that would mean you could do six raids for free.
What with the release of a new shiny Pokemon, the raid fever was running high with the usual suspects. Plans were made to visit all the gyms in the neighbourhood and far and wide outside of that, going by car and bicycle. I’ve done a few of those raids, and I don’t like the high pace: there’s no time to properly catch the Pokemon after the raid because you have to go to the next, resulting in irresponsible driving and a general feeling of stress.
I don’t need more stress in my life, so I wanted to do a raid train with the other ‘casuals’: just six raids (or maybe more if people wanted to invest the paid raid passes), and we’d simply walk from gym to gym. There are four EX raid gyms in our neighbourhood, and we’d visit three of them on the route that I designed. We got enough casuals to make it viable, so at 16:00 we set off.

At our second gym, just as we were finishing up, a boy of 14 years old comes ambling up and asks us if we were playing Pokemon Go, and whether he could tag along with us? Of course, that wasn’t a problem, and our little raid group gained a member. Two raids later, a friend of his turns up, and we gained a second member. And just as we were walking towards the sixth gym, we passed a boy helping his mother unloading groceries from the car. Apparently he knew our two new members, and when they told him they were going to do another Raikou raid, he got really excited and wanted to come too. A minute later, he turns up with his mothers’ phone (because his own phone apparently didn’t have “outside internet”). Second raid he did (our seventh and last), he even got a shiny!
We didn’t get any shinies this time, but it was a lot of fun to see the enthusiasm of these boys as they got to raid with us — something they otherwise would not have been able to do. It was a lot of fun, and we ended up at the gym behind our house, so we said goodbye and went home. An afternoon well spent.

One of the silly things we do is insert the names of some Pokemon that we catch in Pokemon GO in the lyrics of songs. (It’s mostly klik who sings them to me, because her singing voice is so much better than mine.)

In the Valentine’s Day event that just ended, a lot of pink pokemon were spawning all over the place. One of those is the apty-named ‘Luvdisc’, a heart-shaped, pink fish. So when we caught the umpeenth one, klik sang to me: “The Luvdisc soon will be making another run…” But my inner music lyricist sings: “We missed you, hissed the Luvdisc…

Turns out she didn’t know the song, so I looked it up on YouTube and we watched it together — it’s been quite some time since I saw the video myself. It’s a typical product of the 80’s, and it looks like it was all shot in one night. There is a funny scene (which starts at 1:13) with Robert Smith sitting with a little kitten in his lap, singing. You can see the moment the kitten starts to get agitated, but Smith isn’t paying attention to it, so when the moment comes the kitten attacks because it had enough, he gets scratched a bit and seems to yelp out in surprise. And then in the rest of the video, there’s no more kittens — I guess he had enough of kittens for the rest of the night!

Some months ago, there was a new Pokemon introduced in Pokemon GO: the Meltan, a metal type. It was first shown during the Chikorita community day, and turned out to be all Ditto’s. And with the launch of Pokemon Let’s Go on the Switch console, Nintendo introduced a way to transfer Pokemon to the Switch, and the reward is a box that spawns Meltan.

There was a special event that coincided with the launch of the game on the Switch, that allowed you to catch a Meltan without a Switch connection. It was a nine-step special research, and it required quite some special things, like battling in 10 raids. And while the quest would stay once you started it, the event that spawned the pokemon you needed to catch ended some time ago.

I had already resigned myself to not being able to finish in time, but then on the last evening my RPG session was cancelled, so I could walk around and do a few raids (in one case just throwing my raid pass in the raid and walking away). With only one hour left on the event, I finished up all of the required “research” and managed to catch Meltan!

But Klik lagged behind in the number of raids, so she was still working on it. And the going was slow, because the pokemon needed were not spawning regularly! But this Saturday, as we were returning from dumping some old bookcases, I saw a Cubone on the radar — so we turned the car around and drove to the spot indicated. Sure enough, there was a Cubone and she could finish the seventh step!

The eighth step involved catching two Anorith or Lileeps, and two Kabuto or Omanyte. The Anorith are spawning regularly around the gym behind the house, so that was easy. And there was one lucky Omanyte spawn that evening around here too… But that last needed pokemon was elusive! Until tonight, when someone remarked on the local Pokemon GO WhatsApp group that there was an Omanyte near the petting zoo. So we jumped in our shoes and went there without any detours. Sure enough, it was there!

So now we both have our Meltans!