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It's a simple fact in the world of Mons Series: Given the way that most problems resolve around mon-on-mon fights, you need a Mon yourself to get anywhere. But Mons themselves are often recruited through combat—either by defeating them, catching them, or appealing to them to join your cause. Since you need Mons to fight Mons, how do you even get into the world of Mon combat in the first place? Enter the Starter Mon!

The Starter Mon is exactly what its name implies: It's the first Mon the player (or main character) receives on their journey To Be a Master. Unlike regular Mons, this one is usually not caught or recruited like other Mons would be; it's typically given to them by an outside source, such as an Old Master. While in many RPGs, the Starting Equipment tends to be bottom-of-the-barrel, cheap and ordinary stuff, the Starter Mon tends to be a bit different (and a bit more valuable). They typically have three or more of the following traits:

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  • They tend to run the gamut from rather rare to outright unique. Frequently, the only place they will be available is from the start of the game. If they can be found in the game world, it's often only under special conditions, or in out-of-the-way places. They also tend to possess unique abilities no other Mon in the series has.
  • The player is offered a choice between more than one. In this case, picking one is a lot like picking a starting class in other RPGs.
  • They tend to be at the very least moderately powerful; usually strong enough to be worth using the entire game. The Starting Mon is often intended to function as The Hero of the group, sometimes in more ways than one.
  • If they aren't very strong to start off with, they'll become so later on...
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  • Even if Mons in the series aren't necessarily Bond Creatures, the Starting Mon has a higher than normal chance of being a Bond Creature, or of having a special link with the protagonist.
  • They are iconic of the game, or franchise, in some way. They are often pushed in The Merch and the marketing for the series.

In other words, think Starting Equipment meets The Hero.

Free To Play games with Mons elements tend to use a slightly different set of characteristics for their starters. Their starter mons tend to be much weaker and more common, more like Com Mons. While they can be useful later in the game, the intention is usually to keep you playing the game so you can earn better creatures—and possibly pay for better ones.


Examples:

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Video Game examples

    Pokémon 
Pokémon, being the Trope Codifier for the modern Mons Series, naturally features many, many examples of this trope, used in different ways:
  • The "main series" Pokemon games traditionally feature a trio of starter Pokemon, each one having three stages, each embodying the elements of Fire, Water, and Grass. These also form one of the most basic Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors triangles in the game: Fire beats Grass, Grass beats Water, Water beats Fire. As of Gen III, the starters can also learn a trio of "ultimate moves": Frenzy Plant, Blast Burn, Hydro Cannon. As of Gen V, they can be taught team combo moves Grass Pledge, Fire Pledge, and Water Pledge. Many starters also typically have a signature move that only they can learn (for their generation, at least). Aside from a pseudo-stater trio in Gen V, the starters also have unique abilities in Overgrow, Blaze, and Torrent.
    • Generation I: Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle. While they did not have official signature moves, they're known for Solar Beam, Flamethrower, and Hydro Pump. Although there was no way to obtain more of these Pokémon within the Game Boy games, those who beat the Elite Four tower in the first Pokémon Stadium spin-off game would be rewarded with one of the choice Pokemon. This included not only the starters, but other Pokémon that required you to pick one out of a selection (such as the fossils, Fighting Dojo Pokémon, or Eevee). Also, the ultimate moves were unique to the Kanto starters in Gen III before being opened up to all starters in Gen IV. Generation VI then made them the first starter trio capable of Mega Evolution, with Charizard having two options. Pikachu is also considered a Generation I starter choice due to its use in Pokémon Yellow.
    • Generation II: Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Totodile. Again, these did not have signature moves. Cyndaquil in particular was associated with the new move Flame Wheel, and to a lesser extent old moves Razor Leaf for Chikorita and Bite for Totodile. Generation II is the only Pokémon generation where all the starters remain pure-type throughout their entire evolutionary cycle. In every other generation, one or more of the starters acquires an additional type in its final evolution.
    • Generation III: Treecko, Torchic, Mudkip. This was the first starter trio to learn official signature moves: Grovyle and Sceptile have Leaf Blade, Blaziken has Blaze Kick, and Marshtomp and Swampert have Muddy Water. They're also the other starter trio known for Mega Evolution.
    • Generation IV: Turtwig, Chimchar, Piplup. They are the first starter trio to have dual type in their final evolution stage (though Monferno is a Fire/Fighting-type). Strangely, this group went back to not having signature moves, and didn't really have moves associated with the lines at all.
    • Generation V
      • Snivy, Tepig, Oshawott. This group had signature moves again: Snivy learns Leaf Tornado, Tepig learns Heat Crash, and Oshawott learns Razor Shell. Strangely enough, only Heat Crash was an actually exclusive move—other 'mons could learn Leaf Tornado and Razor Shell, they just weren't natively available in Generation V.
      • In addition to the usual three starters, fifth generation features a trio of elemental monkeys, Pansage, Pansear, and Panpour, that are often considered a "secondary starter trio". They have the same types as the regular starters (Grass, Fire, Water), and you're given one for free soon after the beginning of the game—you get whichever your main starter is strong against. They can be caught, but they're extremely rare. And they have as their Hidden Abilities the same abilities the "regular" starters get.
    • Generation VI
      • Chespin, Fennekin, Froakie. Their signature moves were Spiky Shield for Chespin, Mystical Fire for Fennekin, and Water Shuriken for Froakie.
      • In the sixth generation, the starters' secondary types in their final evolutions also form an elemental triangle, with their secondary type being super effective on the same starter their primary type is effective against; Water/Dark, Fire/Psychic, Grass/Fighting. Additionally, the three starters also represent the Fighter, Mage, Thief class archetypes for RPGs.
      • The sixth generation is also the only main-series Pokemon game to give the player two real starter Pokémon: in addition to the regular starters, the player also gets to pick the Kanto starter Pokémon (Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle) after defeating Professor Sycamore.
      • The sixth generation is the first game where starter Pokémon can be caught in the wild, though it's only during the Playable Epilogue. The "Friend Safari" that becomes accessible then can have wild starter Pokémon available, provided that you have the Safari that has them.
    • Generation VII:
      • Rowlet, Litten, Popplio. Theirs are Spirit Shackle, Darkest Lariat and Sparkling Aria, respectively. Notably, the first two signature moves are typed after the secondary types of the respective starter's final evolution. Rowlet starts out as Grass/Flying, but it becomes Grass/Ghost in the end, while the other two become Fire/Dark and Water/Fairy. They're also the only starter trio with exclusive Z-moves, which derive from the aforementioned signature moves: Sinister Arrow Raid, Malicious Moonsault, and Oceanic Operetta.
      • All the previous starters are available in the wild note  via Island Scan, a feature that involves scanning QR codes into your Pokedex. After scanning 10 codes, a rare Pokémon becomes available to catch.
      • In Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the Ultra Beast Poipole is described as being a popular first partner in its own world, and its evolution, Naganadel, has a base stat total on par with many fully-evolved starters. Similarly, it's the only Ultra Beast in the game where the player gets only one of it.
    • Generation VIII:
      • Grookey, Scorbunny and Sobble.
  • As the Series Mascot, Pikachu is one of the most common starter choices found in spinoffs.
    • Pokémon Yellow (and its quasi-remake Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu!) has Pikachu as the only starting Pokemon in place of the usual Generation I starters. In Yellow, Pikachu can no longer be caught in the wild, and the special Pikachu you start with cannot be evolved into Raichu. It was also the first Pokemon in the series to have a Happiness value. Like its Kanto brothers, it also received an "ultimate move" of sorts in Volt Tackle. In Let's Go, Pikachu!'s counterpart Let's Go, Eevee!, the rival has Pikachu as his starter instead.
    • All Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games (except for Blazing and Stormy Adventure Squad, due to the way the Adventure Squad games split starter choices).
    • All Pokémon Rumble games except for the first game and Rush.
    • Pokemon GO, as a hidden option.
    • Pokémon Quest
  • Many Pokémon spinoff games have Eevee as their starting Pokémon. In addition to being a rare Pokémon, it can evolve into up to eight different Pokemon, each of a different type, thus offering the player a choice down the line. All of its evolutions are popular and well-liked, in addition to being fairly strong. Games with Eevee (or one of its evolutions) as a starter:
    • Pokémon Yellow: The rival started with an Eevee opposed to the player's Pikachu. With no breeding mechanics in Gen I, when the player obtains their own Eevee they have a choice between three evolution stones sold in the Mart of the same town Eevee's in. The rival will choose whatever evolution has the best defense against Pikachu depending on how many battles he loses at the beginning of the game.
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team, Explorers of Sky, and Blazing Adventure Squad.
    • Pokémon Colosseum (you have two starters; Espeon and Umbreon, two of Eevee's forms).
    • Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness.
    • Pokémon Conquest.
    • Pokémon Quest
    • Pokémon Let's Go, Eevee! In its counterpart Let's Go, Pikachu!, the Eevee goes to the rival as it did in Yellow. In this case, his Eevee will always become a Jolteon in order to match Pikachu's type.
  • The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series lets you choose two starters; one representing you and one as your friend and partner:
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team: You and your partner can be any of the ten Gen I to III starters. You can also be an Eevee, Machop, Cubone, Psyduck, Meowth, or Skitty; but your partner can't.
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Darkness: The Gen I to IV starters for both characters, plus Meowth, Skitty, and Munchlax for you.
      • Its third version, Explorers of Sky, removes Meowth and Munchlax but adds Phanpy, Riolu, Shinx, Eevee, and Vulpix.
    • In the Japan-only Mystery Dungeon Adventure Squad games, each of the three has its own set of starters based on the game's associated element and color:
      • Blazing Adventure Squad has the Gen I-IV fire starters (Charmander, Cyndaquil, Torchic, Chimchar), Vulpix, Growlithe, Eevee, Teddiursa, and Buneary.
      • Stormy Adventure Squad has the Gen I-IV water starters (Squirtle, Totodile, Mudkip, Piplup), Wooper, Phanpy, Azurill, Wynaut, and Riolu.
      • Light Adventure Squad has Pikachu, Meowth, Psyduck, Pichu, Togepi, Mareep, Elekid, Shinx, and Pachirisu.
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity: Only the Gen V starters, Pikachu, and Axew.
    • Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon: All starters from Gens I to VI plus Riolu.
  • Pokémon Ranger: The original game has Minun or Plusle, depending on whether you pick the male or female player character. Shadows of Almia starts with Pachirisu, Starly, or Munchlax. Guardian Signs provides a Pichu to the player.
  • Pokémon Rumble has Ratatta for the first game and Rumble Rush, and Pikachu for Rumble Blast and Rumble World. Rumble U, being a multiplayer game, provides four Pokémon to begin with; the Gen V starters and Pikachu.
  • Pokemon GO uses the Gen I starters. Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle are initially presented, but Pikachu is a hidden fourth option that appears if you refuse to select one of the first three.
  • Pokémon Quest, focusing on Gen I characters, has the four Gen I starters and Eevee.

    Other Video Games 
  • Azur Lane features quite a few "starters" for each category of ship. The absolute classic example of this trope occurs with Javelin, Z23, Laffey, and Ayanami, the destroyers you start the game with. As a Free To Play game, the "cheaper" variant of the trope also occurs with some Crutch Character ships in their class that get obsolete fast: Repulse (BC/BB) and Long Island(CV/L). A few strong free ships are also given to the player for simply progressing, without needing to dive into the gacha or map drops: Portland will usually be a player's first heavy cruiser, and Prinz Eugen is another heavy cruiser and typically a player's first "Super Rare" (highest-rarity) ship.
  • The Digimon video games, naturally, use this trope.
  • Oddly for a Mons Series, the Monster Rancher franchise usually averts this: Since monsters in the game are randomly generated based on different factors (such as CDs or other games inserted in the console, or strings of code), the player can start with just about any monster they want, and as many as they want. Some breeds are locked from the start, however.
  • Ni no Kuni
  • Monster Racers has Leafee, Cuboom, and Phoechick. Each one specializes in running on a different kind of terrain (Grass, Sand, and Lava respectively).
  • When players are first introduced to the Summoning feature in Onmyōji, they are guaranteed to get a 3-star SR Yuki-onna and a 2-star R Sanbi-no-kitsune. Both are powerful attacker-type shikigami.
  • Fossil Fighters
    • The first game has a Spinax who is given to you to start. Spinax is actually a fairly ordinary and easy-to-find fossil in the first area, though he is fairly useful throughout the game.
    • The second game takes a more traditional approach to this trope: At the start of the game, Joe Wildwest offers you a choice between four different dinos, one for each main element in the game. All of them possess Super Evolver capabilities and all are fairly strong, and cannot be found until later in the game. You also receive a Tricera after the cleaning tutorial.
    • The third game, Fossil Fighters Frontier, has Chompasaurus, a tiny T-rex like dino who can change form and evolve like a more traditional Mon. Your entire group of friends treats him like your Team Pet and he's a special friend of the main character. And he's the de-powered form of a powerful genetically-altered beast.
  • Fate/Grand Order: The game has two types of Starter Servants:
    • The first type is the guaranteed Shielder every player will start with: Mash Kyrielight. She will always be the player's first Servant and she's the only one the player doesn't need to roll or to have partake in events for. She also serves as the player's Signature Mon and the game's Series Mascot.
    • In addition to Mash, the player will also perform a Starter Summon, which is a 10-Summon that has one guaranteed out of ten available 4* Servants. The Starter Summon does not include any 5* Servant or any other 4* Servants other than the ten available ones. The ten 4* Servants are Siegfried (Saber), Chevalier d'Eon (Saber), EMIYA (Archer), Elisabeth Báthory (Lancer), Marie Antoinette (Rider), Saint Martha (Rider), Carmilla (Assassin), Stheno (Assassin), Heracles (Berserker) and Tamamo Cat (Berserker). Note that there's no Caster amongst them. Due to the nature of Starter Summon, it's easy for new players and veterans to reroll it (read: re-start a new game and roll again) to obtain the 4* they desire, with Heracles and EMIYA being the two most popular choices.
  • Granblue Fantasy: Katalina is the starting Story character, while Walder is the tutorial R character who everyone gets. An update in 2017 included the rigged SSR tutorial draw which gives out a free SSR character of a specific element. They are Carmelina, Melleau, Charlotta, Zeta, Lady Grey, and De La Fille.
  • Dragon Quest Monsters
    • The very first game starts you out with an ordinary and humble Slime. For the most part, it's largely because Slime is the Mascot Mook of the Dragon Quest series... but Slimes in the DQM universe do have the potential to learn the single most powerful attack spell in the game, typically only usable by boss monsters and other difficult-to-breed creatures. The Level Cap might keep your starter from learning that spell, but that's not to say his offspring won't be able to.
    • Joker gives you a special, form-swapping monster partner. He's always a member of your party, unlike others, and he's a member of the special "???" monster family that normally only holds bosses.
  • Eternal Eyes gives you Mooscue, the game's Mascot Mook, as one of your two starting mons.
  • The traditional starter 'bot in Robopon is Sunny, a vaguely rabbit-like red robot. The Japan-only second games also have C-Cell, a battery-like robot.
  • Kewne in Azure Dreams. He is explicitly closely linked to the protagonist—necessarily so, because he's the one who levels up in the protagonist's place. (Or rather, the protagonist de-levels whenever he leaves a dungeon, and Kewne doesn't.) He's also the only monster who doesn't follow the elemental color-coding of the other monsters ( Well, aside from the final boss), and has his own special sprite.
  • Dinosaur-themed RPG Fossil League has a Staurikosaurus who befriends the protagonist the first time he travels back in time. In addition to being a Neutral-element dinosaur who can use many different skill types, he's also the only one of his species you meet, and the only dinosaur you get to name. You can't take him out of your party, and he behaves more closely to a pet than the other dinosaurs you recruit do.
  • Mobile/DSi game Crystal Monsters gives you a choice between a fire type, water type, and plant type 'mon, much like Pokemon does. They cannot be caught in the wild, but they can be bred later on in the game.
  • Shin Megami Tensei will often start you off with Pixie, a low level tiny fairy with usually the lowest level elec spell and lowest level heal spell.
    • In the Shin Megami Tensei spinoff Devil Children, the only installments in the Lighter and Softer Devil Children series to come to the US, there are Rox and Nex; Rox in the dark version and Nex in the light version. They are the human characters' special partners, and can evolve at certain moments in the games (which no other monster can do). They even have special fusion rules associated with them, and can't be removed from the party, either.
    • The Shin Megami Tensei: Persona subseries, from the third title onwards, has the protagonist's initial Persona. While other Personas are mostly generic demons from Shin Megami Tensei games, these initial Personas have unique designs exclusive to the game, and are heavily associated with the protagonists themselves. In addition, they start with level 1, is of the Fool Arcana, and cannot be gotten through random encounters.
      • Persona 3 has Orpheus, the starter Persona of the protagonist. It's fairly unremarkable and players will often fuse it away for better Personas. Fairly late in the game, however, you can fuse Orpheus with Thanatos to create the protagonist's ultimate Persona, Messiah. Additionally, in the Updated Re-release versions, a much stronger version, named Orpheus Telos, is available as the highest level and most customizable Persona in the game.
      • Persona 4 has Izanagi, the initial Persona of the protagonist. Like Orpheus in the previous game, it's fairly unremarkable and players will often fuse him away. In New Game+ after getting the True Ending, however, you can fuse Izanagi-no-Okami, a level 90 Persona and the only one of the World Arcana, which requires regular Izanagi as one of its component. It also plays into the story as The Killer's Persona is its Evil Twin, Magatsu Izanagi and the True Final Boss is Izanami, the vengeful wife of Izanagi in the myths. In the Persona 4: Arena duology, the protagonist exclusively uses Izanagi and Izanagi-no-Okami.
      • Persona 5: Arsene, the only level 1 Persona Guardian Entity, who you get at the very start of the game and starts with nothing but a weak physical attack and a weak darkness spell. Leveling him up will take longer than any other Persona in the game, and you'll have to sacrifice dozens of stronger Guardian Entities to him to give him enough high-end skills to make him useful beyond the first dungeon. As with Persona 4 Arena, Joker exclusively uses Arsene when he appears in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (despite his lack of power in his home game, which is explicitly noted in the launch trailer but Handwaved away by Rule of Cool).
  • Spectrobes actually gives you three starters: Two adult Spectrobes for combat, and one child Spectrobe for finding fossils/gems with. In every game in the series, either the child, one of the adults, or both with be members of the Komainu family, Komainu being the Mascot Mook of the games.
  • The first yokai you recruit in Yo-Kai Watch is a cicada yokai, but the yokai who actually fills the Starting Mon role is Jibanyan. He's a unique, powerful yokai who is introduced in a special storyline quest, and he's the Mascot Mook of the series. The sequel makes him the actual first Yokai you recruit, he can't be traded, and unlike in the first game, when you evolve him into either Thornyan or Baddinyan, you can still use his regular form.
  • Moco Moco Friends has Scrunchie, a mysterious, chipmunk-like Plushkin whom no one had ever seen before until Moco befriended her. Unlike other Plushkins, she evolves through story events and learns powerful Light spells.
  • In Dinosaur King, your starting mon is determined based on your choice of player character. Max starts with a Triceratops, while Rex gets a Carnotaurus.
  • In Invizimals, you have a choice between two insect-like Invizimals, Stingwing and Ironbug, to catch at the beginning of the game.
  • Metal Walker has Meta Ball. He's explicitly a good friend of the protagonist, and he's also the Mascot Mook who shows up on the game's box art.
  • In the first Telefang games, your Starter Mon depends on your version. Power version nets you the armadillo-like Crypto, while the Speed version gets you the draconic Fungus.
  • ZanZarah: The Hidden Portal: Before you leave the First Town, you must choose one three starter fairies offered to you by Rufus: an all-rounder Nature fairy Sillia with a good evolution path, a tanky Stone fairy Grem, or a wonky Water fairy Tadana. The last one seems like an odd choice, except that you won't have a chance to capture another water fairy for quite a while after that.
  • Monster Hunter Stories plays with this. In general, Rathalos ticks all the boxes: rare, powerful, the first "Monstie" that the player meets, forms a special bond with the protagonist, and already a mascot of the parent franchise. However, it suffers a Disney Death at the end of the prologue before you get any actual game time with it. When you actually start playing, you're given a Com Mon Velocidrome instead, and have to wait until you're reunited with Rathalos. Once it does reappear, it's even further treated as special, as it opens up a sixth slot in your team roster exclusively for it, and you won't be able to switch it out until the post-game.
  • In Puzzle & Dragons, you're given the choice between Tyrra, Plessie, and Brachy.
    • In the 3DS spinoff Puzzle & Dragons Z, the choices are instead Melagon, Zabgon, and Morigon. In plot terms, the Starter Mon's narrative role goes to Syrup, a little dragon that befriends the hero and is the Sleep-Mode Size form of the Skydragon of Life, Zerclea, but he's an NPC that never takes part in combat. As a nod to the parent game, Tyrra, Plessie, and Brachy can be found in the post-game areas.
    • For Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Edition, the Leader characters, Mario and Luigi, have most of the Starting Mon traits; you start with Small versions of each but unlock more versions of both throughout the game. You're also given Red Toad as your first Helper character and a Goomba and Green Koopa Troopa to fill out your Mons roster slots at the start.

Non-Video Game examples

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Burnt Meatballs in Fighting Foodons were Chase's first attempt at making a Foodon. They're not particularly powerful, but Chase nonetheless has a special connection to them and keeps them around.

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