Apologies for the doublepost, but I figured that since it was an actual (and super belated) article and not just passive chatter, that it merited a bump.
Morphs [Oak Catalog #]
- Zorua [#570]
- Zoroark [#571]
Zorua and its evolution, Zoroark are Pokemon that are distinguished by lithe physical builds, and a phenomenal, though poorly understood ability to manipulate some wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation.
The initial morph, Zorua, is a quadrupedal vulpine Pokémon with a primarily gray pelt and a black ruff of fur around its neck. Zorua's ears are vaguely triangular in shape with dark-furred insides, and it has a large, whirled scruff of fur on its head, tipped with red fur that is similar in color to patches along its feet and nearby its eyes. Other noteworthy attributes of Zorua’s physical appearance include forward-facing eyes with small pupils, and a mouth with small, developing fangs that can be cleanly hidden when its mouth is closed. Typical individuals will stand roughly 70 centimeters tall, and will weigh a little over 10 kilograms.
Zoroark is the mature form and currently presumed final form. Unlike Zorua, Zoroark have developed stronger hind legs that are capable of supporting faculvative bipedalism, and their front limbs have developed more pronounced elbow joints and sharp red-colored claws. A Zoroark’s pelt is similar in color to that of the dominant color of its younger counterpart’s, accompanied with red markings on the interior of its ears, above its eyes, and around the edges of its mouth. Beyond this, Zoroark possess a black ruff of fur about their upper torso, and develop a bushy and striking red-and-black mane that extends for most of the creature’s body length. Zoroark appear to pin back this mane into the rough form of a ponytail, often around a “tie” that is fashioned shortly before evolution that appears to have elements of a rite of social passage. In popular art, the tie is generally depicted as being a green orb, though significantly different form factors have been recorded. Typical individuals will measure approximately 160 centimeters in height when standing upright, and weigh slightly over 80 kilograms.
Although the truly astonishing variance in individual appearance made possible through its abilities to generate illusions would perhaps render this section somewhat redundant, it should be noted that a number of natural phenotype variations among individuals have been documented. Dominant fur color has been noted to range over various shades of gray, slate-gray being the most commonly observed, though individuals with brownish-gray and lighter gray pelts are not uncommonly documented. In exceedingly rare circumstances, some Pokemon from this line will carry a genetic mutation that leads to noticeable divergence in the natural pelt color are documented. Such individuals typically have a primary pelt that is a dark gray-brown in color with darker ruffs and blue accenting fur, as Zoroark, carriers of this mutagen possess light-gray, brownish-red and violet fur and claws in place of their more numerous counterparts’ dominantly colored regions, and black and red regions. Zoroark pelt colors outside of this range have been claimed, though it is unclear whether or not such reports are accurately reflecting the natural state of their pelts, or a state created via illusory abilities.
Zorua and Zoroark are perhaps most deeply associated with their command over the paranormal ability termed "Illusion", an ability that is only replicated by a handful of other Pokemon, and to far less extensive degrees. Contrary to popular belief, the properties of Illusion do not appear to be comparable to the technique "Transform". Rather than a physical transformation into another form, Illusion appears to rely on a barrage of stimuli that are designed to deceive sensory organs that appear to be tied to manipulation of electromagnetic radiation.
Illusion as performed by Zorua and Zoroark are noted to have a truly wide variety of potential effects. The most ubiquitous of these is that of visual distortion, where an individual can alter its appearance to take that of another object, or of their surroundings. More proficient individuals have been known to generate entire effects up to and including false landscapes with their ability. Some individuals' command over their ability appear to be capable of extending into portions of the ultraviolet and infrared range, distorting otherwise normal patterns in order to deceive prey sensitive to those spectra. Illusions by more proficient individuals are noted to sometimes have a haptic component, with limited mimicry of texture and heat.
It should be noted that individuals appear to perform their illusions on a as-needed basis, manipulating only portions of the electromagnetic spectrum that are immediately necessary to deceive present foes. This phenomenon can best be illustrated by simply maintaining more than one camera with differing recording intervals focused on a creature from this line under illusion. An individual will generally have exceedingly great difficulty specializing his or her illusion for both cameras' framerates, which will cause the true form of the individual to be visible in occasional frames of one or the other camera if the individual makes the attempt.
It should be noted that while formidable, Illusion is far from a complete camouflaging organism. Some of the most common methods of detection of individuals in wild settings by aware prey are via the smell of an individual Zorua line member that has not taken sufficient steps to attempt to mask its scent, as well as sound via a careless trodding of branches or undergrowth. Less experienced individuals from the Zorua stage are noted to often have trouble concealing their tail in their Illusions. This phenomenon appears to be the reason for Zoroark's "hair tie", as individuals that cast illusions without it were documented to often have significant problems disguising the entirety of their manes properly.
Creatures from this line have demonstrated a remarkable versatility in the techniques they can be taught in captivity, which include paranormal abilities associated with "Ghost" and "Fighting"-Type Pokemon along with the occasional use of the "Psychic" phenomenon "Extrasensory" and a wide breadth of physical techniques. A curious anatomical trait that Zoroark possess is the presence of a vestigial structure that with tutoring, can enable it to perform pyrogenic techniques such as Flamethrower. It remains unclear whether the vestigial organ in question is a dedicated pyrogenic structure, or merely an atrophied version of an "omnisac". There is presently a leaning to the former explanation given the closely-related Vulpix line, which beyond similarities in abilities, appears to be capable of disseminating a number of techniques to offspring via crossbreeding.
On rare occasions, individuals from this line have been documented communicating from what appears to be an ability akin to telepathy. Said individuals are noted to sometimes become incredibly proficient in human languages, to the point of being able to hold short conversations with unsuspecting humans. As with many aspects of these creatures, the nature of this ability remains nebulous, even after significant research under the direction of Professor Juniper. It remains unclear if this ability is learnable, or if it is an ability associated with a submorph as some researchers have proposed.
For obvious reasons, Zorua and Zoroark have very poorly-documented ranges, though sightings of the creatures are not uncommon in Unova. Based off of the locations of most sightings, it is generally accepted that Zorua and Zoroark typically dwell in woodland and grassland settings in wild contexts. Sightings appear to be particularly high near bodies of water such as rivers and streams, suggesting a valuing of mobility amongst wild Zorua line members. A handful of accounts suggest that Zorua and Zoroark may have had a range in Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh and their surrounding regions, though it is unclear whether or not this is merely conflation with local accounts revolving around Pokemon such as Ninetales, which have at times been documented exhibiting more limited analogues to the illusions of the Zorua line.
Creatures from this line will often disguise areas that they dwell in through illusory landscapes. Curiously, in recent decades, these illusory landscapes have come to often incorporate features of human habitation, with a number of encounters having stemmed from seeming trailer houses and abandoned structures. This ability appears to be capable of disguising even fairly large areas, one of the most spectacular examples consisting of an entire illusory acre of flat grassland with a farm in the center, a fence surrounding the land, complete with ‘Keep Out’ sign on top of a mailbox. The illusion was only finally discovered after a group of rowdy youths set upon the premises during Halloween with the intention of vandalizing the property. When one of the youths set off a firecracker, the facade was broken after maintainers of the illusion were startled, prompting a hasty retreat by its occupants.
There are also a small number of cases documented each year of creatures from this line being encountered in urban settings, typically after a chance mishap with their illusions. It is difficult to determine how many of the cases are merely due to particularly mischievous or rowdy captive individuals, though at least some of the cases, often the ones revolving around the most impressive creators of Illusions, involved individuals that were untrained.
Creatures from this line show a significant variance in feeding behaviors, which is influenced heavily by local environments. In most settings, Zorua and its evolutions are omnivorous organisms with a heavy carnivorous slant. Prey organisms are diverse, and include a number of mammalian, avian, and invertebrate organisms. This diet is typically supplemented with a variety of berries, fruits, and grasses, though appears to be given less priority over meat. In settings with few natural predators and plentiful prey, it is not unheard of for Zorua and Zoroark to subsist entirely off of a carnivorous diet.
Prey organisms generally scale in size depending upon the form and mode of hunting. Zorua will typically prey upon small avian creatures, while solitary Zoroark have been noted to hunt quarry consisting of moderate-sized creatures. In the event of pack hunting, prey as large as Bouffalant have been observed being subdued and consumed. In exceedingly lean times, cannibalism has been documented amongst Zorua line populations, though appears to be extremely damaging to existing social structures, as individuals that engage in cannibalism appear to be subjected to lasting social stigma amongst their peers and from individuals from other packs.
It should be noted that creatures from this line do not appear to be capable of handling abrupt shifts in dietary equilibrium well. One of the most pronounced examples of this is of individuals that have become accustomed to diets consisting almost entirely of plant matter or meat, which will cause abrupt disruptions to this equilibrium to lead to symptoms akin to gastroenteritis.
Although the often negative portrayals of these creatures' behavior as being ill-tempered, duplicitous, and violent are undoubtedly not a holistically accurate depiction of individuals from the Zorua line, it should go without saying that needlessly antagonizing an creature from this line is far from a sound proposition.
Both creatures utilize attacks that incorporate slashing at foes with claws. Although such an attack from a Zorua is unlikely to deal more than a few lacerations, it should be noted that the elder morph, Zoroark is more than capable of inflicting wounds that can potentially cause severe blood loss with similar techniques. Creatures from this line are also known to utilize attacks that exploit the momentum and movements of their assailants to deal harm, as well as attacks that involve pursuing after enemies while off guard at the sign of them faltering and beginning to fall back into retreat. Both stages of the Zorua line are known to exhibit paranormal abilities, which manifest themselves in techniques such as "Dark Pulse" and "Night Daze". While not physically harmful, it should be noted that such paranormal techniques will have effects similar to a potent psychic assault. Antagonizing an individual raised in captivity raises a number of other hazards, as captive individuals have been noted to learn a wide variety of attacks beyond the fare of their wild counterparts, including the use of pyrogenic techniques capable of inflicting second and third-degree burns.
It should be noted that in a wild context, encounters with Zorua line members are seldom with solitary individuals, and that antagonizing an individual runs the risk of drawing its packmates to its defense. Other hazards associated with these creatures include an often incredibly strong maternal instinct among female Zoroark. One particularly notorious recent episode involved an incident in Sinnoh involving a corrupt media mogul that attempted to coerce a mother Zoroark into complying with his orders through threatening her child. Through a long and somewhat incredulous series of events, the aforementioned mother Zoroark (dubbed "Meema" by the local press) allegedly wound up fighting a Suicune, Raikou, and Entei to a standstill in her quest to retrieve her child.
Other, more mundane hazards stem from an often strong affinity among creatures of this line to surprise other entities. Although this often is something as simple as a simple abrupt dispelling of an illusion or well-natured prank, antics by undertrained or simply particularly vindictive individuals can be significantly more troublesome, with accounts of persons being disoriented into effectively walking around in circles thanks to a series of high-quality and constantly maintained illusions having been documented. In folklore, it is alleged that some illusions were maintained so competently that the trapped victim was fooled all the way up to the point of eventually dying from starvation. Although such an event is undeniably implausible, the presence of contemporary accounts of persons suffering the misfortune of being caught in such an illusory maze for prolonged periods of time suggests that such an event is hardly impossible (also, there would be the far more immediate threat of being attacked by the maintainers of the illusion well before death by exhaustion).
Courting and Childrearing
Although both the Zorua and Zoroark stages are capable of reproducing in captive settings, in wild contexts, reproduction is carried out almost entirely by Zoroark. The ability to mate and have young appears to be tightly regulated by the dominant individuals of a pack. Unions that do not receive the blessing of these individuals are typically suffered exceedingly poorly. These regulations appear to have some elements of demographic engineering to them, as dominant individuals are known to favor pairings of their subordinates with individuals from outside packs and to periodically fission packs in the event of overly large sizes or severe gender ratio imbalances.
Mates are typically drawn from 1 pair of packs at a time, agreed upon by their respective dominant individuals. For a period of time extending as much as 5 months over the fall and winter, the members of the 2 packs will intermingle with each other and begin initial courtship.
Courtship among individuals of this line is typically built around displays of prowess with illusory abilities. Common modes of exhibiting such prowess include the creation of illusions for display, as well as the infiltration and retrieval of different artifacts and trinkets from places seen as being dangerous. Mate selection is typically done via the female, though inversions are recorded on an infrequent basis.
In the spring, if a pair has received the blessing of their packs' dominant individuals, they will retire to a secluded spot. Here, the two will battle to establish hierarchical dominance, and upon settling the matter will mate. Afterwards, the two will either return to the victor's pack, or remain in seclusion in order to start a new pack. Female Zoroark in wild settings appear to generally be more fecund than their captive counterparts, and will bear litters of up to 6 young, which are fiercely protected by their mother. These creatures are also capable of reproducing with Pokemon outside of their immediate line, though the practice is scarcely recorded outside of captivity.
Like many other mammalian Pokemon, Zorua line members appear to have a mechanism that allows for both ovoviviparous and oviparous methods of production, the latter being most commonly seen in captive reproduction, in the case of multiple birth, and in reproduction among Zorua. Newborn Zorua are born blind and dependent upon their parents, only attaining sight after the second or third week of life.
In wild settings, Zorua line members appear to typically organize themselves into pack structures based upon kinship ties. These packs typically consist of a dominant male and female, with a number of subordinate individuals. Wild packs generally are known to consist of between 8 and 10 individuals, though anecdotal accounts of packs as large as 40 individuals have been recorded.
Within these packs, there are often distinct familial units built around a breeding pair and incorporating their progeny. These units are fluid and generally dissolve after all the young of a pair of Zoroark have attained their mature form. Such units are lead by either a matriarch or patriarch determined during the mating season, which protect their young while in the Zorua state and tutor techniques related to hunting and creating illusions. As these young near evolution, these parents will fashion "ties" for their offspring's future manes. These ties are generally fashioned out of cords fashioned from vines or pieces of scavenged cloth or in the cases of populations that regularly interact with human settlements, occasionally human-sourced hairbands, along with additional layering around the tie to act as a protective buffer, leading to a typically "orb-like" appearance. Other form factors for these ties have been documented when conventional resources to fashion ties are scarce, including flat bands and ties fashioned around bones not wholly unlike how individuals from the Vullaby line incorporate bones into their feathers.
Zoroark packs appear to have a very strong focus on interpersonal ties, with individuals that remain in a pack beyond their first 3 months in their final form typically staying for the duration of their lives. Outside of the aforementioned window of time and a handful of later life events associated with mating cycles, pack desertion appears to be a sort of "cardinal sin" amongst members of Zorua line packs, with individuals that attempt to leave their packs outside of such events often becoming social pariahs amongst their peers.
Solitary individuals from this line are known to exist in wild contexts, though the status appear to typically be viewed by individuals of local packs as a sign of strong social ineptitude. If such an individual is encountered by a Zorua pack, they will sometimes attempt to incorporate the loner into their ranks, albeit with low status. These "loners" are also known to display a curious, if rarely-exhibited social behavior in which an abandoned or orphaned Zorua and solitary Zoroark of no biological relation but strong bond will mutually adopt each other as parent and child. Circumstances with weak pack structures or many solitary Zorua line members are generally seen as aberrations, and tend to correspond to periods of severe disruption within the environments of these creatures.
Creatures from this line have occasionally been documented collaborating with Vulpix line members in and around regions west of Unova Route 14. Generally these interactions amount to less intimate behaviors such as mutual assistance herding prey into traps, though the creatures have at times been documented cohabitating within common territories, particularly during cold autumn and winter months. In periods of time with limited prey and / or shelter, such amicableness is far more likely to be replaced with a fierce and hostile competition between individuals from the two lines for resources. Zorua line members in Unova have occasionally been documented interacting with Riolu line members. Interactions among forest-dwelling individuals are typically are of a similar nature to Vulpix, though it has been noted that the former tend to be noticeably disadvantaged in the event of hostility during lean times. What few accounts of interactions with individual Riolu line members hailing from more rugged settings exist seems to evidence a more aloof interaction between the two. A somewhat morbid example of mutual interaction between creatures from the two lines that has become better documented in more recent decades. There has been a startling number of accounts of would-be poachers of Riolu line members in Unova being gravely injured or meeting untimely ends via attacks via collaborating Riolu and Zorua line packs.
In Popular Culture
Zorua and Zoroark have generally possessed varying depictions in the folklore of cultures that have had contact with them, ranging from generally favorable portrayals of playful tricksters, to being castigated as malevolent and duplicitous fiends. Regardless, such cultures often imitate the imagery of these creatures, especially in Unova. A prevalent legend in Unova is of the Trickster Zoroark, who could reshape itself so thoroughly that it could switch gender at will
. While Zoroark’s ability to create illusions is true, the gender switching is only true for the sexual dimorphism of a living creature it disguises itself as. The markings on the face of a fully grown Zoroark were often mimicked in Unovan stage plays dating as far back as 200 years ago, usually worn by the villain of the story. It has been noted that in historical times, Zoroark were seen as being invaluable for military applications for their ability to mask the movement of troops and equipment, infiltration of enemy targets, as well as their effectiveness in countering infiltration by ghost-type Pokemon.
Creatures from the Zorua line have had a strong historical tie to the film industry. Before the advent of computer effects, many Unovan films utilized illusions generated by Zorua line members to provide visual spectacle, a practice which remains alive in independent and small film scenes in Unova. There have been recorded cases of Zoroark cries being sampled and modified for the cries of deadly monsters. Zorua cries have also been sampled for the cries of a smaller creature, often revealed to be the reason for a larger monster's rampage
. As of this writing, the only Zoroark Actress was one nicknamed 'Julia', used to play the role of 'Tweedle Dee' in the classic film 'Nidorina in Wonderland
'. It should come as no surprise based off of this that other sectors of the film industry would be influenced by these creatures' iconography and portrayal. A particularly famous example stems from a series of cartoon shorts featuring a male Zoroark fruitlessly chasing an unusually speedy Unfezant
with the intent to eat it. His whacky adventures have entertained three generations so far
and shows no sign of stopping in the immediate future. The Zoroark, named Wile E. Zoroark
, has once even been adopted as the mascot of the studio that created him, eventually replaced with Beethoven the Beheeyem, Unovan Drillbur
, and finally Mint Mincinno
Curiously enough, Zoroark appear to have become increasingly ingrained in the popular culture in Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and their surrounding regions since first contact with Unova and its surrounding regions, with works derived from local folklore that is presently presumed to have been written in reference to Vulpix line members sometimes being reworked around members of the Zorua line. One example being the modeling of a shapeshifting swordsman from a video game carrying hefty influence by local folklore off of these creatures
There is a small amount of evidence that suggests that Zoroark may have had a presence in these regions even before this event, though its veracity is presently hotly contested.
Original Article by Calamity Jane.
4/2013 Revision by Tracer Bullet.
Criticisms and comments are deeply appreciated. If you're reading this, Jane, I realize that it's probably somewhat different from yours, but I hope that I did a good job at preserving the core of your original vision for these buggers.
edited 10th Apr '13 5:35:17 PM by TracerBullet