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Discussion What exactly is Special Defense in Pokemon?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by MissingNo., Jul 1, 2019.

  1. MissingNo.

    MissingNo. Member

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    Something occurred to me recently when brain storming ideas for a project.
    What exactly is Special Defense in Pokemon? Now I'm not questioning Sp Def as a game mechanic or think that it should be removed, but rather I'm fascinated by what it means from the
    perspective of the physical body. And I can't seem to think of what attribute of the body would constitute a "Special Defense".

    See in most other RPGs instead of Sp Def/ Sp Atk they have Magic Def/ Magic Atk and
    the standard Atk/ Def.

    Attack and Defense is simple as it represents the strength of a physical object like a punch, sword, arrow or any other solid object. And the defense from a thematic stand point is usually
    represented by armor or muscle mass.

    Magic Defense has several thematic explanations like the characters clothes or body is magic imbued or that they have a magic barrier or aura surrounding them or it can even be represented by
    spiritual power or protection from the gods or something. But for Special Defense I can't think of any thematic explanation for it.
    What exactly is a special defense? I mean if a Pokemon had gained tougher, I would imagine their ability to resist the pressure of water would also increase. We know for defense
    that would represent the Pokemon's armor, thick skin or muscles but for special defense I can't think of anything, it just sort of exists.

    Thoughts anyone?

    Disclaimer: I know I'm massively overthinking this but I found the question fascinating.
     
    Bearman_18 likes this.
  2. MikeDark_x

    MikeDark_x Member

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    You are overthinking and made me start wondering the same

    Hmmm technically one could say that the special attack moves have something beyond the physical impact from them which is what truly does damage (say I doubt bubble will actually do much damage on it's own if it manages to even do damage), a more powerful special attack will deliver that with higher might, and so on, so special defense would protect from that unknown energy... maybe?
     
    MissingNo. likes this.
  3. MissingNo.

    MissingNo. Member

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    Well I found the thought interesting and also most other games explain their gameplay mechanics in some sort of a way. Wheres in Pokemon it seems like it just sort of exists.

    The bubble thing is interesting, especially when you think about the move absorb. That attack wouldn't do much on it's own because it's just a plant absorbing nutrients.
    But clearly Pokemon are using a beefed up version.

    Psychic seems to make the most sense for Sp Def because you can explain it as the Pokemon's mental barrier or they have a psychic barrier.

    I think Sp Def is just the result of many RPGs preceding Pokemon having magic def and attack and the developers shoved it in the game without much explanation because it was the standard.
    Obviously it's not bad as a game mechanic but thematically it falls apart.
     
    MikeDark_x likes this.
  4. nacho_chicken

    nacho_chicken Member

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    Obviously Defense is for resisting physical attacks. SpDef is therefore resistance against anything not covered by Defense. It's just an easy way to simplify things. There are plenty of RPGs that do have separate atk/def stats for damage types (e.g. Fire, Ice, Electricity, etc.), but most of Pokemon's audience is either too young, too casual, or too sane to want to micromanage separate attack/defense stats for each of the 18 types.
     
  5. MissingNo.

    MissingNo. Member

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    Well yes, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the mechanics. I think you missed some of my post, this is not a discussion about the mechanics or gameplay but rather what Sp def
    represents in their world. Every stat aside from Sp Def has a clear explanation of what it means in the world.
     
  6. nacho_chicken

    nacho_chicken Member

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    It doesn't directly represent anything in their world. Neither do Attack, Defense, or Speed. It's purely a way to convey information to the player in an easy-to-understand way. An in-universe Pokedex saying things like "Piplup has 53 base Attack" out loud would shatter the illusion that Pokemon are living, breathing creatures. It's why the Pokedex doesn't share meta-universe information like stats -- it helps add suspension of disbelief. When you look too deep into any fiction the cracks will show.
     
  7. MissingNo.

    MissingNo. Member

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    I disagree immensely. If that is the case then the stats might as well be named socks, pants and pizza because they apparently don't represent anything.
    They are named what they are for a reason as they represent an aspect of the character. Speed represents a characters movement speed or reflexes,
    Attack represents the force of an attack or the physical strength of the character, defense represents tough skin or armor, HP represents the amount of punishment
    a character can take, their body fat or their physical size.

    This is why Pikachus base speed stat is 90 compared to weedles base of 50 or Snorlax's base of 30. It represents how effective the character is in that particular area.
    Also when other RPGs have different classes, the stats are purposely adjusted to what thematically suits the class.

    Yes I agree but I'm not saying the value should ever be spoken, but what I am saying is that the stats represent a certain aspect of a Pokemon and the values represent how proficient they are at it.

    I also agree with this but this was just supposed to be a fun conversation of what exactly it represents because it's fun to think of the little details.
    This is not me criticizing the series and trying my best to find the cracks so I can laugh at them.
     
  8. nacho_chicken

    nacho_chicken Member

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    Yes, that's exactly what I was saying:
    If your low-HP Charmander hits another Charmander with Flamethrower, you're going to do very little damage compared to hitting Bulbasaur with the same move. For metagame reasons, it's because your Charmander has poor SpAtk IV/EV, the enemy Charmander has max SpDef IV/EV, you're dealing 1.5x damage from STAB, 1.5x damage from Blaze, 1.5x damage from sunny weather, 1.2x damage from holding Charcoal, .5x damage because of typing. For in-universe reasons it's because your Charmander isn't very skilled at breathing fire, the enemy's has trained to resist fire better, your Charmander is in a pinch and thus exerting even more effort, your Charmander is using Charcoal to make its flame burn hotter, because it's already a really hot day, and because Charmander's body naturally resists fire. Unless your game is Dwarf Fortress, you're not going to simulate in-universe physics to an absurd degree. So you go with shortcuts that are easy to convey to players as information. If you examine simplified game mechanics with an in-universe lens, you're always going to come up short. There is no singular "thematic reason" for SpDef because it represents a multitude of concepts.

    Please don't take this the wrong way, I'm not trying to "ruin your for-fun topic" or "calling you out for criticizing the series." I'm just stating my opinions on the subject and discussing it.
     
    MissingNo. likes this.
  9. MissingNo.

    MissingNo. Member

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    Well yes there is game balance and just straight up game mechanics, but often I find it's a mix of what fits the game and what fits the narrative or world.
    The other stats have some sort of explanation while with Sp Def it's not clear exactly. I guess what I am saying is that the other stats have loose but understandable explanations
    while Sp Def dangles by a string.

    Oh yes I'm sorry I missed that part. But yeah that is correct, none of the stats represent something really specific. Although I do think from a thematic standpoint they represent better than Sp Def does.

    I apologize for taking you the wrong way initially, I guess I was thinking I was being perceived as someone looking for cracks so I could criticize the games.
    Although if I wanted to do that there is much better low hanging fruit.:p
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
    nacho_chicken likes this.
  10. ElectroMan

    ElectroMan Jack of All Shades

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    I know, let us try to understand, in our own physical rules, a game where any critter can violate the law of conservation of energy and materialize stuff out of thin air for government-sanctioned cockfights.
     
    MissingNo. likes this.
  11. MissingNo.

    MissingNo. Member

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    Electroman I have missed your snark. Seems you haven't lost your touch.

    There is plenty of low hanging fruit if your looking for flaws. The series has it in spades.

    That being said I find most of the time the series gives loose but fine explanations for the crazy things going on while in the case of Sp Def there isn't anything indicating what a special defense is.

    At least with "any critter can violate the law of conservation of energy and materialize stuff out of thin air" there is the explanation that these creatures literally have that type of energy (Water, Grass, Fire and so on)
    flowing through their body and are born that way, or that they have a diet consisting of that type or they absorb energy of that type from the environment around them. Yes obviously it is not realistic but the
    explanation works well enough for the fantasy.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2019
  12. HeWhoShallNotBeNamed

    HeWhoShallNotBeNamed Member

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    Government-sanctioned cockfights involving twelve year olds that travel across the country unattended, being accosted by any grown adults whose line of sight they cross while training their pets to attack wild animals. That seems perfectly fine. And I haven't really kept up with the series since about generation 3, but I'm pretty sure one of these "pets" is literally just an ice cream cone now. Where's the explanation for that?
     
  13. MissingNo.

    MissingNo. Member

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    The explanation is that the designers ran out of ideas.

    Never said there is a explanation for everything, Pokemon is full of nonsensical bat**** crazy stuff but I don't think it detracts from the series. People don't play Pokemon for realism.
     
  14. HeWhoShallNotBeNamed

    HeWhoShallNotBeNamed Member

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    I know. And I agree that things like the ice cream Pokémon don't detract from the series. I was just saying there are a lot of things in this series in particular that don't hold up to examination. Like Dugtrio. Say I had three cats. Those are three cats, not one new animal that evolved from a cat. I mean, am I crazy here?

    But to your original point: Maybe Sp Def reperesents a kind of mental toughness, an ability to push past the things that might not do much physical harm but could otherwise be debilitating, like status effects. Maybe a Pokémon with a higher special defense rating is seen as less likely to give up in the face of adversity like poison or paralysis.
     
    MissingNo. likes this.
  15. debleb

    debleb Member

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    Maybe it means mental strength?
     

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