While gyms in Hayle mirror gyms throughout the rest of the region in many ways, they also differ from other gyms in equally significant ways. While a standard gym's purpose is to distribute gym badges, Hayle's gyms also perform a second, equally important function: the distribution of starter pokemon to aspiring trainers and testing the skills of those who seek to become league trainers.

Starter Battle
Each gym leader runs their starter battles a little bit differently, but they all follow the same format for the most part. Individuals seeking to become trainers usually come around the gym a couple of times to watch battles, listen to gym trainers give short talks on pokemon battling 101, and, most importantly, seek out a potential starter to bond with. On the first monday of each month, candidates get the chance to fight the gym leader. Winners get their trainer license and become official league members, and losers must try again. If they accumulate three losses, then they lose all chances to join the league. Of course, leaders don’t get too crazy in these fights, but it is a legitimate test that prospective trainers must pass. A gym leader won’t take a dive just so a kid can get his license. In addition to their starters, gym leaders tend to send new trainers off with a useful TM and some useful advice for the road. It’s tradition to wait until midway through a trainer’s gym challenge for an individual to return and challenge their home gym.

Gym leaders obtain these starter pokemon from a variety of places, and the gyms are stocked with a huge variety of typed pokemon in all levels to accommodate challenges and newcomers. Gym trainers will drop off unwanted captures for a bit of cash, gym leaders will ship pokemon to the appropriate gyms. There is no shortage of options for trainers to choose from when starting their journey.

Standard Gym Challenges
As in all regions, trainers can earn badges by completing gym challenges. Even those who aren’t interested in challenging the elite four or becoming a professional battler will still take challenges however, as there are many services and areas that are only accessible to trainers with a certain number of badges (for instance Armedius Academy will only accept students who have obtained three badges). Even the Varro Corporation uses the number of badges a trainer has as an indicator of what products and services a trainer has the ability to manage. Thus, gym battling is important to a certain extent for all trainers, although those not interested in the league challenge are usually satisfied with 4-5 badges.

When challenging a gym leader each participant is limited on the number of pokemon they can use determined by the number of badges that the challenger has already obtained. The more badges a challenger has accrued, the longer the battles become as each side uses more and more pokemon. The table below details how many pokemon may be used in each challenge. These battles are 1:1 and follow the rules of any non-contact league battle. Winners take home a TM and the option of either a wad of cash or one of the pokemon on the leader’s team that they defeated.

Challenger's # of Badges Challenger # of Pokemon Leader # of Pokemon
0 3 2
1 4 3
2 4 3
3 5 4
4 5 4
5 6 5
6 6 5
7 6 6

Secret Gym Challenge
However, instead of taking a standard gym challenge, trainers can instead choose to take what is known as a Secret Challenge. This is an unconventional style of battling with a win condition separate from simply fainting an opponent’s entire team. Each gym leader crafts their own to fit their tastes, so the challenges range in difficulty from near equal to a normal battle to much harder. While the gym leaders would prefer that every challenger take these personalized challenges, the unpredictability and variance from the norm tends to drive most trainers away from this style of battling. At one point in time, these challenges were held in secret and challengers were sworn to secrecy as to the contents of the battle. However, tradition has evolved to the point where Secret Challenges are viewed as a more exciting alternative to a standard gym battle (as if they weren’t exciting enough already), and they attract large crowds who seek to view these special battles. Part of the excitement is that, in many of these battles, a trainer’s entire team fights at the same time against the entire gym leader’s team, providing a much more dynamic battle than a simple 1:1 (the normal pokemon limits still apply to these special challenges, however). Gym leaders tend to provide special rewards to those who defeat them at a game they designed themselves.

Leader City Types Secret Challenge Format
Augustus West Stormwrack Harbor Water/Ice Capture the Flag: The challenge takes place in a half submerged shipwreck, and the challenger must retrieve a flag from the bottom of the depths and take it to the ship’s figurehead. Full Team, Full Contact Optional.
Lillian Summers Thousand Acres Ranch Normal/Flying/Bug A Day on the Ranch Lillian throws her challengers onto a specially prepared ranch for 24 hours. She gives them a list of tasks to complete in this time, which can range from collecting honey from hostile Combee to stopping a herd of rampaging Taurous from destroying a house. Trainers who can succeed at the assigned tasks within the given time will win the challenge. Full Team, Full Contact.
Leo Blackwell Wrystone Nature Preserve Fire/Grass Safari Hunt: Leo releases several pairs of wild pokemon from the Safari Zone (or the highly aggressive danger zone pokemon at high levels) into the arena, each pair is split into a challenger target and a gym leader target. Both parties try to capture these pokemon as quickly as possible. While their teams are allowed to interfere with the opponent’s pokemon, they may not target their opponent’s targets or the opposing trainer. The first party to capture all of their targets wins. Full Team, Partial Contact.
Teller Brand Hayle Central Electric/Poison Race Race Revolution: This battle consists of a race around a track for four laps. Only one pokemon may be on the track for each team at a time. Each combatant is given a certain number of points at the start of the match. If a pokemon faints, a set point value is deducted from their trainer's savings, and switching pokemon costs points as well. Trainers may also spend their points to manipulate the tech-heavy racetrack arena to their advantage by activating powerful effects and obstacles for their own advantage. The first trainer to go ‘bankrupt’ loses. 1:1.
Savannah Hawthorne Hidden Oasis Rock/Ground/Fighting Pillars: This battle takes place on a set of pillars separated by open air. One random pillar falls each round, forcing its inhabitant to either jump to another pillar, take flight, or fall. Pokemon may also attempt to preemptively push each other off of the pillars. The first team to have all their combatants fall (or fly below a certain level) loses the match. Full Team, Full Contact Optional (trainer replaces 1 pokemon).
Koon Aeros Armedius Academy Psychic/Fairy Board Game Battle: Pokemon take the place of game pieces as Koon and the challenger engage a Kreino* match, a traditional Hayle strategy game. Inanimate pieces can inflict damage and status ailments on pokemon, but if two pokemon pieces meet, they must battle to determine which piece is captured. A player wins by capturing their opponent’s champion, which must be a pokemon piece. Full Team, Full Contact Optional (trainer must be the champion piece).
Ibis Tithel Serenity Town Ghost/Dark Hide and Seek: Each team secretly designates one of its pokemon as ‘it’. The challenge is won by fainting your opponent’s ‘it’, even if no other pokemon on the team have been fainted. Full Team.
Androssi Zahaard Zahaard Fortress Dragon/Steel Castle Siege: Inside a scaled down version of the Zahaard Palace, challengers must obtain the crown from the treasury and then make their way to the throne room. If the challenger can sit on the throne while wearing the crown, they win the challenge. Full Team, Full Contact.

*Open spoiler for full rules of the game

While a trainer’s official badge count is recorded on their trainer license, badges in Hayle remain as powerful manifestations of a trainer’s ability to battle. Additionally, the badges are potent held items that can grant unique abilities. For instance, the Wild Badge that Leo gives out grants its holder the ability to use one additional digestion buff per scene.

Leader City Types Badge
Augustus West Stormwrack Harbor Water/Ice Tide Badge
Lillian Summers Thousand Acres Ranch Normal/Flying/Bug Harvest Badge
Leo Blackwell Wrystone Nature Preserve Fire/Grass Wild Badge
Teller Brand Hayle Central Electric/Poison Metro Badge
Savannah Hawthorne Hidden Oasis Rock/Ground/Fighting Dune Badge
Koon Aeros Armedius Academy Psychic/Fairy Lore Badge
Ibis Tithel Serenity Town Ghost/Dark Spirit Badge
Androssi Zahaard Zahaard Fortress Dragon/Steel Regal Badge

Being a gym leader is usually a pretty stable job. Unless a leader decides to step down, its rare for them to lose their position. For instance, Lillian Summers has been serving for over five decades and plans to continue for as long as she is physically able to do so. When stepping down a leader chooses their successor. While the other gym leaders could veto this decision, generally they allow other leaders to do what they like. The most stable gym leader succession is in the Zahaard gym, where gym leadership is passed down the Zahaard line since the gym was founded.

However, leaders can’t get terribly complacent. As gym leaders, their positions are able to be challenged at any time. At any point, a registered league trainer may challenge for the title of gym leader. Once this challenge is issued, leaders have until the next starter battle to prepare for the fight, and there the starters will be treated to an especially high level battle before their own matches. The other gym leaders tend to come to these events to see if they’ll have a new colleague at the battle’s end. This is rare however, and doesn’t occur often. Of the current gym leaders, only Ibis obtained her position in this manner, and two years after gaining her license no less.

In these battles, both sides are required to use pokemon of their gyms type in an equal spread. For instance, a battle with Koon for the Armedius Academy gym leader position would involve each trainer using three of each psychic and fairy type pokemon. Dual types such as Gardevoir can count as either type at the wielder's discretion.

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