. It’s once again time to get the latest material index updated and to transfer the material from the old one to the main index tabs at the top of the page. If you want the very latest material, it may be necessary to either scroll down or consult the “Recent Posts” listing-widget on the lower right. The previous Latest Materials Index can be found HERE and – for those who like to rummage at random – the full post-by-post index can be found occupying a great deal of space in the lower right column.
. Eclipse Classless d20 Character Construction Cribsheet / Sample Character List – Character Creation Primer – Compiled Martial Arts.
. Subindexes: RPG Design – Twilight Isles – Battletech – Champions – d20 – Legend of the Five Rings – Shadowrun – White Wolf – Other Games – Battling Business World – Star Wars
Aging never comes up much in the show. That’s not too surprising really, but we can still take a look at what clues we do have. At least to start with I’ll ignore the possible variances in calenders, timekeeping, and lifespan by focusing on human-equivalent ages.
- Laureen Faust has stated that she thought of the maturity levels of the six primary characters as being between 12 and 17. Presumably, of course, that was when the show started. There’s a certain amount of cartoon agelessness of course, but the characters do seem to grow and age to some degree – so they’ve we can reasonably assume that they’ve gotten older by now. Hopefully the show will eventually give up on the Cutie Mark Crusaders routine. Even if you don’t go by the one season equals one year theory those kids have been at it for a long time.
- Ponyville seems to use one-room schoolhouses and offers no apparent institutions of higher education. One-room schoolhouses are typically used for elementary education – normally up to age 11 or so, 12 at an outside limit. This fits in with a predominantly rural and vaguely pre-industrial to very early industrial society quite nicely. It also works well with things like arts and crafts and making “Hearts And Hooves Day” cards being a part of the lessons and with the general maturity levels of the characters.
- Higher education seems to come in the form of learning-by-doing, apprenticeships, special tutors, and a very few institutions of higher learning (not that seem to teach much) located in the capital. Interestingly, while there are several of Twilight’s classmates in Ponyville, there is no mention of advanced educational institutions save for the royal school for gifted Unicorns. Could that school be the ONLY institution of higher learning in Equestria? After all, Twilight seems to carry out most of the countries research and development by herself in a basement laboratory. I guess that when you’re living in a semi-utopia there’s no great urge to change things.
- Ponies cutie marks reveal their specialized talents, and apparently their “destinies”, quite early on. Not too surprisingly, once a cutie mark reveals a ponies life path and what will make them happiest to do… they tend to do it quite a lot.
- Given that many of the kids in school have cutie marks, ponies can be expected to get their cutie marks at around 8-10, with prodigies getting them a bit earlier. Thereafter they can be expected to focus on their special talents to a considerable extent.
- From the lack of disbelief about Applebloom’s instant super-proficiency in The Cutie Pox, an appropriate cutie mark will at least drastically shorten the time required to learn a profession, even if it’s unlikely to provide all the related skills necessary to master it. Modern apprenticeships – and higher-education style degree-seeking – typically lasts for three to six years, even if the classical term was commonly seven years (allowing the apprentice to pay back the master with service. Oh, if only modern student loans were so readily dealt with). Given the existence of cutie marks, going with the modern terms seems more likely.
Ergo, ponies will be full-fledged professionals in their fields, ready to get jobs or open their own businesses, at ages (8-10) + (3-6) – a range from a bare minimum of 11 to about 16 and likely averaging about thirteen to fourteen. Those with truly exceptional talents may then expect to move up in their fields fairly rapidly.
So if the six primary characters took a year to get established… we have them out on their own at the equivalent of 12 to 17, neatly matching Laureen Faust’s estimate on their maturity. Yes, that’s young to be out on their own, but that doesn’t seem to bother ponies much. Note that no pony shows all that much concern over kids wandering off into a dangerous wilderness on their own or not returning to Cloudsdale after falling off! Evidently young ponies don’t need nearly as much supervision as young humans do. To confirm that, look at the Cake Twins; at one month old they can speak, eat food, walk, run, fly, and are teething. How long would it be before they could wander off from Mommy and still do just fine as long as they had the protection of a herd – or town?
On the other end of things, Pinkie Pie, who still lives with substitute parents as an apprentice baker despite her obvious talents, is stated to be a year younger than Fluttershy, and is likely the youngest amongst the major characters (and on the cusp of moving out). Rainbow Dash is blatantly good enough to impress the Wonderbolts early on – but she doesn’t actually formally apply to join them until season three. Why didn’t she do that much earlier? Perhaps she was underage for the military? After all, she was competing in the “Best YOUNG Fliers” competition – just as she went to “Junior Flight Camp” (this does not necessarily imply that there’s a “Senior Flight Camp”, just that those participating are young).
All in all, this means that ponies will likely be established professionals well before they really start dating, much less getting married. Consider Rarity. From her appearance in the Cutie Mark Chronicles Rarity seems to be a bit older – perhaps a year or so – than the other main characters. She’s established her own business/home, but is only now starting to make headway in the larger fashion industry beyond Ponyville despite her obvious expertise.
Rarity is also the only one of the main characters who’s shown any obvious serious interest in the opposite sex, and even that is of the “marry the handsome prince!” variety rather than anything realistic (that low maturity level strikes again). Still, Shining Armor is apparently not all that many years older than Twilight, and he gets married at the end of season two. Evidently pony courtships aren’t all THAT long and getting married relatively young is quite acceptable – which fits in with relatively young independence.
Putting it all together… when the series starts that gives us about nine to ten for the Cutie Mark Crusaders, fourteen or so for Pinkie Pie, about fifteen for most of the main characters, sixteen or seventeen for Rarity, nineteen or twenty for Shining Armor (even if he doesn’t show up for another two years), and – as a bonus – a usual standard of four or five years between children.
As far as lifespan and aging goes… the demographics of Ponyville are more than a bit odd by human standards. We see a few babies, a modest number of kids, lots and lots of young adults or adults, a few “mature” types (most notably the Cakes), and few elders. We don’t really see any teenagers – except for one or two in a flashback. Presuming a steady-state population… I’d guess that ponies tend towards growth spurts. They go from “infant” to “child” fairly quickly, spend a modest chunk of time as kids, and then go to young adult/adult – and thereafter change very little for quite some time – until they rather abruptly become old. While that probably doesn’t last too long compared to what humans are used to, there are always a few exceptional cases. (Honestly, I suspect that the Cakes are intentionally going for a “middle-aged” look just to advertise their Ma-and-Pa baking).
That gives us “baby” for a year or two, “child” for ten years or so, “young-looking adult” for sixty years or more, and “elder” for ten to fifteen years – presuming that ponies live about as long as humans do. Given higher constitutions, magic, plentiful exercise, and supernatural healing talents (as well as a standard bit of wish-fulfillment) they may live a little longer even without any special resistance to aging in their racial templates – perhaps as much as 150 years in a few, exceptional, cases. Of course, being ponies, they might also age a bit faster than humans – or the subraces could all age at different rates (and no, I’m not getting into that possibility. It gets WAY too messy).
Yes, Family Appreciation Day tells us that Granny Smith helped found Ponyville, while Winter Wrap Up has Twilight comment that Ponyville has been doing a no-magic winter wrap up for “hundreds of years”. Ergo Granny Smith is hundreds of years old… or perhaps Twilight was thinking of Earth Pony towns in general terms or even made a mistake due to scriptwriters not minutely comparing the dialogue across episodes. Still, if we stretch ponies semi-ageless adulthood out to a couple of centuries it would neatly explain the shortage of elders and kids. I don’t really think it’s justified – but it’s not as if old age is a common cause of player character death in most games anyway.
To continue with the demographics, there are people out there who have laboriously gone through the crowd scenes and counted ponies – and the conclusion is pretty much always the same; females far outnumber the males.
I could have told them that without counting. The show focuses on a group of female ponies since it was made to appeal to little girls. The number of female pony models in the animation library is thus far larger than the number of male pony models. Ergo, when the animators are making random background ponies to fill out a crowd scene, and want as much variety as possible, they’re going to mix their models as much as possible – which will result in a solid majority for female ponies.
Still, the “why” doesn’t really matter; since we’re simulating the show, all that matters is that the females shown greatly outnumber the males. Yet the few pony families we actually see are almost exclusively male-female pairs. Of course, it’s a children’s cartoon, and is looking for sales – not controversy. Ergo, most of those spare mares are not getting to reproduce, and probably never find a relationship.
Yet family sizes are not all that large, and the population seems to be relatively stable, if not slowly expanding. Ergo, most of that huge excess of females are having kids at some point – and the only apparently single-parent family mentioned is that of Filthy Rich, a stallion.
A lot of families are just mysteriously absent. Sweetie Belle’s parents keep leaving her with her sister Rarity, Scootaloo’s parents have yet to be confirmed to exist (even if they obviously did at some earlier time) – but they certainly have no objections to her trailing around after Rainbow Dash instead of them. Rainbow Dash herself has appeared in a flashback with what secondary sources establish as “Rainbow Blaze”, her father – but neither of her parents have ever appeared in the shows “present”.
So we have contradictory observations circling gently around a huge blank spot labeled “we are not going to cover our character’s sex lives, or anything potentially controversial or upsetting about parents, in a children’s cartoon”.
That same blank spot does leave us some wiggle room though. Given that Equestria doesn’t seem to regulate ponies lives very much, I’d guess that quite a lot of pony families are not stable. Some pairings may be (especially amongst the nobles and royalty, who tend to be strict about that sort of thing), but families are a lot less necessary than they are with humans. Ponies are unaffected by most weather, can eat grass and hay if food is short, don’t need clothing, need less education, and go independent at a rather early age. A pony kid… can be left to run around town when not in school as long as there’s a dry corner for them to sleep and keep their schoolbooks in and a few bags of grain around to supplement the occasional fancier meal. They’ll get the attention and social interaction they need all over town.
Thus, if parents drift apart, or a mare who wants a kid just has a one-night stand, or three or more ponies form a small herd, or two mares want to have some kids via some stallion without a long-term relationship, or any of a hundred other family relationships crop up, their social structure can handle it with no trouble at all. Ponies have a lot of freedom compared to humans, and little reason not to use it. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Flim-Flam brothers try to find a mare or two in every town. They may or may not succeed at that – and may or may not have some angry mares after them – but it won’t really matter to society.
Magic Items in Equestria:
When it comes to magical items, Equestra has a lot more – and a lot less – than a normal d20 game.
You generally won’t find any magical items in the possession of ordinary folks in d20. They’re far, FAR, too expensive. In Equestria, however… you find kids playing with magical toys (they have video games, with no trace of the infrastructure needed to produce technological versions), household appliances such as refrigerators, Tank’s little helicopter, and a lot more. Admittedly, a lot of that is thrown in to make it easier for current-day kids to relate to the setting – but it’s there.
Slightly more powerful items include things like Zecora and Applebloom’s potions, bows that fire arrows of ice (even if they are only used as sports equipment), and the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy (although it’s not clear whether it’s powered by a spell or by raw magical energy). This stuff isn’t incredibly powerful – but some of this stuff is being produced by little kids. After just a few lessons. On the other hand… it’s still pretty utilitarian and low-powered. “Crushing apples really fast”, “producing arrows”, and even “making a plant grow” really isn’t going to impress most d20 adventurers.
For major items we have Starswirl’s Mirror, the Crystal Heart, the Alicorn Amulet, the Elements of Harmony themselves, and (apparently) enough ancient artifacts to keep Daring Do perpetually busy. The Mirror is conventional enough, but the Heart, Amulet, and Elements pretty obviously fall into the “Unique Artifacts and Relics” category.
On the (presumably) “natural magic” side we have poison joke, magical pools, magical plants, and any number of other weird phenomena – but it all pretty much falls under “natural artifacts” or “magical organisms” – neither of which we have to worry about ponies making.
We don’t seem to see much in the way of magical weapons, magical armor, spell-storing items, attribute boosters, or most of the other standard d20 paraphernalia.
In Eclipse terms Equestria is a standard literary-styled world – using Charms and Talismans (very minor items produced by simple crafts skills, in The Practical Enchanter), Artifacts (unique and powerful devices which can act on their own), and Relics (items which empower their users in various exotic ways) – limiting magic item creation feats to the Create Artifact and Create Relic abilities. Both of those are pretty hard to use, so major magic items are scarce. Charms and Talismans, however, will be common and cheap enough for ordinary ponies to have – but a character can only support so many Charms and Talismans at one time.
Of course that’s a world law rather than something which would appear on a character sheet, which is why it’s being discussed here rather than in the sections on pony races.
Cutie Marks in Pony Society:
Cutie Marks are very important in pony society on the show. While it’s likely that their effects of changing them in Magical Mystery Cure were greatly exaggerated by Starswirl’s spell (how would “your talents change” translate into “you forgot your jobs, where you live, and more”?), they still announce a ponies special talent, their profession / destiny, and often even their name, to the world.
Or do they? An awful lot of them are pretty ambiguous and ponies are named before their cutie marks appear. For an example, we have Rarity, with a cutie mark of three diamonds. Given how common gems are in Equestria, how do three diamonds announce “Rarity”? Wouldn’t such a mark be more suitable to a gem-miner? She does have a special gem-finding spell, but how do those diamonds indicate telekinetic skill or good taste? Do they indicate creativity? What does Silver Spoon’s silver spoon indicate? Perhaps “my talent is having an unambiguous nametag”? If Cutie marks reveal special talents and names why are there an awful lot of ponies with known cutie marks and unknown talents and names? For that matter, why did Fluttershy’s cutie mark change when she was – very temporarily – a bat-pony?
Evidently cutie marks represent the state of your inner magic (which can be sent lethally out of control by the Cutie Pox and altered in many ways – altering your cutie mark). Gaining a cutie mark seems to be more of a personal notification – “Hey! You’ve just found a major talent and had a deep insight into what makes you happy! DON’T MISS IT!” – than anything else. If that changes… so will the cutie mark.
Still, while Cutie marks help their possessors understand their special talents, the interpretation of their marks is up to them. Does Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark indicate a talent for speed, for showing off, for performing, for controlling the weather, for light displays, for pushing past normal limits on behalf of her friends, or for something else entirely? Does it represent more than one of those things? Who knows? She may have gotten it racing, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a lot more aspects than that.
In a game setting, driven by it’s own internal rules rather than by toys, presumably it’s also up to the possessor as to whether or not to alter their name to reflect their cutie mark more closely. Otherwise we’re pretty much stuck with the “parental magic” explanation – which fails to explain why both older and younger ponies would fail to recognize the connection between a kids name and the cutie marks they’re likely to get.
In this setting… the players should look at the talents they’ve given their character, and what they plan to add to those abilities in the future, and select a cutie mark and name that seems fitting to them. It’s not like that doesn’t happen in a lot of games anyway, it’s just not usually a formal part of character creation.
Like it or not, Equestria is semi-utopian. What can you expect of a world where Friendship and Harmony are not just external forces of nature as well as mental constructs, but the supreme powers of creation? That makes pony alignments pretty straightforward; they’re basically good. Sure, there are atypical ponies – but the basic tendency is pretty obvious, at least in those games which are using alignment.
As for law and chaos… Unicorn Ponies tend to organize things, study, and concentrate in large, well-run, cities. They get very upset when things are out of place (Rarity and her workroom, Twilight and her books), and want everything just so. It’s hard to show much more obvious tendencies towards “Law” than that. Unicorns tend towards Lawful Good.
Pegasi are independent, more than a bit flighty (pun intended, but still accurate enough), live in cloud cities which drift around, seem to be impulsive, let their kids run off young (Fluttershy fell off a cloud as a kid and settled down in Ponyville – and her parents didn’t come and get her). They have a hard time organizing large groups, even when they need to (Hurricane Fluttershy). They tend to work best in small groups and have a hard time with discipline. Pegasi are fairly obviously inclined towards Chaotic Good.
Earth Ponies cluster in modest, stable, villages, have no problems with Unicorns or Pegasi, get together to work on medium sized projects (such as a barn raising) but have trouble organizing really large ones (Winter Wrap Up), and are too helpful for their own good (Applebuck Season). They respect authority figures, but are well aware that they’re fallible. They value tradition, but are willing to adopt things that work – such as respecting Pinkie Sense. Earth Ponies default to Neutral Good.
Face it. It’s a cartoon that – at least originally – targeted little girls. It’s a place where an arrogant little girl who harasses and verbally taunts other children is considered a fairly major villain and where even most of the (few) primary villains cause less destruction than the mailmare.
So now that we have the races, here’s how to build a pony…
Rainbow Dash is brash, impulsive, egotistical, prankster, who would be pretty unbearable if she wasn’t also loyal to the point of absurdity, heroic, capable of living up to much of her boasting, and normally only taken in small doses (if you must watch a My Little Pony marathon, don’t say that I didn’t warn you that there might be side effects).
Of course, if you don’t know at least that much, and likely more, you wouldn’t be reading these articles at all. Ergo I’ll just get on with the game statistics.
Since the questions come up, here is where we’ll find the fundamental difference between Ponyfinder and these articles.
Ponyfinder is about fitting pony-styled characters into a conventional 3.5 or Pathfinder game. If Ponyfinder allowed you to build a Pegasus child with no character levels (or even with one) who could fly at supersonic speeds, survive sideswiping other pegasi children at that speed without injuring them or itself, and maintain control at that speed, then Ponyfinder would have failed. Characters of level one or less with regularly-usable powers on that scale simply will not fit into a standard 3.5 or Pathfinder game.
The Eclipse conversion, on the other hand, must specifically allow pegasi children of level zero to be built with that ability (among many others) since it appeared on the show. If the Eclipse conversion doesn’t allow the such a character than it has failed.
Mutually exclusive design goals generally do not work out – which is one reason why the Eclipse version is built using a world law (the Superheroic World Template (Eclipse: The Codex Persona), which provides a flow of free mana to keep their abilities powered up with) and the Low-Level Adventurer Template, which makes low-level characters significantly more skilled and durable. If you remove those options these versions will be be powered down considerably. Of course, if you do that… they will no longer function all that much like they do on the show.
So lets make some statistics for Rainbow Dash.
To summarize the low-level adventurer template, those affected get:
- A -3 penalty on unskilled skill checks.
- Very slow level advancement, by direct session-based character point awards rather than experience points. Succeeding in goals helps, but killing things and taking their stuff does not.
- The status of valuable trouble magnets – they’re rare and find trouble everywhere they go.
- A +3 bonus on five skills which suit their backgrounds and training. Sadly, this cannot be applied to active magical skills.
- Extra hit points equal to [12 + (2 x Con Mod)].
- Two minor special talents. For the full list see the Template, for Rainbow Dash we’ll take Evasive (a +2 bonus to her AC) and Sun Eyes (allowing her to ignore penalties for excessive illumination, such as sun on clouds, and providing a +4 bonus on saves against bright lights, such as Color Spray.
To summarize the Basic Pony Modifiers:
- Quadruped. In general ponies are slow and have trouble moving while using tools or weapons.
- Attribute Modifiers: -2 Dex, +2 Con. An additional +2 Con and +2 Chr are dispellable magical bonuses.
- Damage Reduction 9/- versus both Physical and Energy Attacks, only DR 2/- versus melee attacks by living creatures.
- Endure Elements. Ponies pretty much ignore the weather.
- Ponies heal 1d8+1 damage per round three times per day.
- Ponies are always treated as having lots of pockets, even in the nude.
- Ponies get minor cartoon effects, such as hair that responds to moods, blushing through fur, and so on.
- Ponies may begin or participate in spontaneously choreographed musical numbers that provide bonuses for group tasks.
- Have a base pool of 1d6+3 (8) Mana, regaining 1d6 with an hours rest up to three times a day and 1-2 points to day regardless.
- Get a +2 Racial Bonus to Perform/Sing
To summarize the Pegasus Subrace Modifiers:
- 40′ Flight, with perfect maneuverability
- Adept (Rune Magic/Air, Mastery and Casting, Flight, and Knowledge/Nature (Specialized for Double Effect in Weather Prediction and air-related phenomena).
- +3 Racial Bonus on all Adept Skills (effectively +6 for the specialized Survival)
- Damage from high-speed collisions, crashes, and similar impacts is one-fourth normal to a maximum of 6d6.
- Resist Lightning 10 (stacks with general energy resistance).
- +2 racial bonus to Spot.
- Additional +6 Racial Bonus to Spot/Specialized, only to make up for range, fog, and other atmospheric penalties (3 CP).
Yes, that’s a whole bunch of racial stuff. That’s because ponies come with a whole load of powers and abilities straight out of the box, even if taking them out of the box does make them a lot less collectable.
These are, as always for a cartoon character, are pretty debatable – but lets take a look.
- Strength: If we write off her hauling around four other ponies while making sharp turns at hypersonic speed as a manifestation of air magic (flight), Rainbow doesn’t show any great strength; Rarity hauled a huge boulder around, but Rainbow couldn’t get her wing-tip out from under one. A turtle managed it for her though. She did beat Applejack in hoofwrestling, but a single good roll (see her Luck power, later on) would account for that.
- Dexterity: Rainbow Dash is fast, and agile, and pulls off a lot of impressive maneuvering. On the other hand, she crashes a lot too – even being having a nickname of “Rainbow Crash”. Personally, I’d say that she’s got a pretty good dexterity, but is FAR too inclined to push her abilities beyond the limits of safety. It’s a good thing that Pegasi are inherently crash-resistant.
- Intelligence: About the best we can say here is that she’s not stupid (although the impulsiveness tends to make her act foolishly pretty often) – but she’s not especially brilliant either. Even if she does read all the adventures of the pony version of Indiana Jones, she’s no bookworm.
- Wisdom: Rainbow is reasonably alert when she’s not asleep, fairly willful (even if she cannot deal with separation, procrastinates, and has little control when she wants something, and gives up fairly readily in quite a few cases), and tolerably perceptive (even disregarding the “learning while flying” thing, which is only a special effect in d20 terms). She also doesn’t show a lot of what I’d think of as “wisdom”, even if d20 “wisdom” has nothing at all to do with being “wise”. Wisdom is in competition with Strength for Rainbow’s weakest attribute – but she does get a lot of exercise.
- Constitution: Rainbow is notorious for smashing into things and making mighty efforts and recovering in mere moments. She pushes herself to her limits practicing extreme tricks over and over again, and she may nap a lot, but it never seems to be for very long. I’d make this pretty high. That’s really the case for most of the six primary characters.
- Charisma: Honestly, Rainbow is more than a bit abrasive. Sure, she’s a very social pony in a show built around friendship, and so certainly isn’t repellent, and once she makes a friend her fanatical loyalty tends to make it easy for her to keep them – but I can’t say that she’s marvelously charismatic. She’s just too narcissistic.
Well, this is a high-powered campaign, so…
Filly Rainbow Dash: L0 (Well, technically ECL 1 – but when pretty everyone in the world is of a +1 (or more) ECL race it doesn’t really stand out).
Available Character Points 24 (L0 Base) + 10 (Disadvantages: Brash and Impulsive, Pathologically Competitive Showoff, Irrationally Loyal) = 34.
We don’t see a lot of Filly Rainbow Dash – but she is capable of pulling off a Sonic Rainboom when focused on competing and supporting a friend. In d20 terms, that means that she’s capable of accessing at least fourth level effects with her air magic to get to Lightning Step or Rapid Travel (the one-level-reduced “fast movement” variants on Dimension Door and Teleport from The Practical Enchanter) with a spectacular (if ultimately just special effects and thus about +1 to +2 spell levels) “sonic rainboom” add-on.
- That means getting to +16 with her Dexterity–based Rune Magic. That’s +3 (race) +2 (attribute) +3 (skill points, requiring only 2 per skill due to Adept for a total cost of 4 CP) = +8. That will let her pull off second level air magic effects at an effective caster level of four – pretty good, but not good enough as of yet!
- She’ll also want a good Flight skill. That’s another (2 CP) for a +3 bonus on that too. Given that this will obviously be one of the five non-magical skills that gets a +3 bonus from the low-level adventurer template (as for the others… Say a Martial Art, Survival, Intimidate, and Perception) she’ll be starting out with a pretty good check – but not good enough to avoid crashing fairly often at the speeds she reaches.
On the other hand, she can only preform a sonic rainboom when she’s both competing and going to the rescue of her friends. Augmented Bonus is usually restricted (GM approval only) in Superheroic Settings due to the ease of pumping any single attribute to grotesque levels, but this looks like a place for a limited application. Buy…
- Augmented Bonus/Pushing Beyond Her Limits (Add Con Mod to Dex Mod for Rune Magic Purposes)/Corrupted for Increased Effect (+8); Only usable when protecting friends, children, or helpless NPC’s. (6 CP).
That gets her neatly to the +16 she needs – capable of creating level four air magic effects with an effective caster level of eight, which is just enough to break the sound barrier with Rapid Travel. While she can only do it when she really needs that speed, when she’s going to help one of her friends, there is very little in the way of level-appropriate obstacles that can stop her.
Accounting for her spectacular special effects – her contrails, buccaneer blaze, super-speed strut, sonic rainboom, and sonic rainbomb (as used on Applejack’s barn given that the basic effect is just a big pressure wave explosion) – is also easy enough, even if most characters don’t want to put that much effort into special effects. Buy:
- Metamagic/Amplify and two levels of Sreamline, both Specialized and Corrupted/only usable with Air Rune Magic, only to add spectacular special effects (6 CP). That adds two levels worth of special effects to her air manipulations, at least when she wants to do so. She is more than a bit of a show-off after all.
- Rainbow seems to be really good at short-term boosts. That’s Physical Hysteria (6 CP) – which allows her to spend Mana as a free action to get a one-round +6 boost on her abilities, a talent seen when she was hoofwrestling Applejack and one which will make her a top athlete and help her smash her way through Applejacks barn later on.
That’s 24 CP so far. As expected, Rainbow’s flight and athletic capabilities aren’t going to leave a lot of points left over for anything else; we’re down to ten. Still, while there’s not THAT much else we know about Rainbow as a filly, there are a few things we can buy:
- She was a feisty kid. So +1 BAB, Specialized in Unarmed Combat (3 CP). I’d be REALLY surprised if Rainbow didn’t slug a few other youngsters along the way.
- She was tough. So we’ll buy up to a d6 Hit Die (3 CP) even before level one, giving her a total of 30 HP when combined with the bonus from the low-level adventurer template. Combined with her inherent pony toughness that will let her bang around quite a bit.
- She did become Ponyville’s weather manager quite early on, so we can presume a knack for that too – a pair of +3 Specialties in Weather Manipulation for Air Magic Mastery and Casting (2 CP). That’s not overwhelming, and won’t get her to third level weather effects quite yet – but it will be really easy for her to get to that as she starts her next level so she can start managing Ponyville’s weather.
- She was friends with Gilda the Griffin – a very valuable contact for a feisty kid considering how much Gilda would be likely to intimidate other Pegasus foals. There was a rough patch, but Gilda turned out to be a valuable contact later on too, and is unusual enough to be worth the cost (1 CP).
- Finally I’ll put the last CP into Specific Knowledge of the Wonderbolts (1 CP). It could have gone into quite a few other things, but I had to pick something – and the fascination with the Wonderbolts and competition seems like it started fairly early on.
That comes out to 34 CP – exactly what Filly Rainbow has available. She can be expected to start her apprenticeship with the weather teams soon after achieving her cutie mark. Given her natural talents it probably won’t take all that long either, giving her plenty of time to become a local weather manager before the start of the series.
Since level zero works out fine, we’ll go on to level one.
Level One Rainbow Dash:
To follow d20 tradition, I’ll say that Rainbow was a freshly-minted level one (OK, technically ECL 2 – but every adult in town is ECL 2) character at the beginning of season one. She’s also acquired Duties (Ponyville) and her first-level bonus feat, and so has another 32 CP to spend.
- Rainbow gets swatted by monsters and survives and she crashes a LOT. I think I’d better get her up to a d12 hit die, at the cost of another (5 CP). This gets her up to 39 HP – enough to easily survive her worst possible (6d6) crashes, even without her natural damage reduction.
- +2 on her Reflex Saves is in order, for (6 CP).
- Luck, with +2 Bonus Uses (9 CP). Rainbow is notorious for getting lucky and for pulling off the most absurd rescues and maneuvers when it really counts – and a little luck will make that happen as reliably as it does in the show.
- An additional +1 BAB (+2 total), Specialized in Unarmed Combat (3 CP).
- +1 to her Rune Magic Mastery and Casting Skills (1 CP). That’s only +9 as a base – but with her specialties, that’s enough to achieve third level effects at caster level six in flying speed and weather control. Is that enough to clear the skies over Ponyville in ten seconds flat? Well… maybe. If you time it right that’s time enough for three spells, and removing a few clouds isn’t THAT big a trick. Maybe she threw in a physical boost too.
- +1 to her Flight and +2 to her Air Specialty in Survival (to help with weather management) (1 CP). That’s still not enough to make her wild stunts reliable, but it’s quite enough to make her quite competent.
- +4 to her Martial Arts (4 CP). With her +3 template bonus, and +2 Dex, that makes her quite good – albeit not quite black-belt level as she will be later on.
- +3 Speed Specialties in Air Rune Magic Casting and Mastery (2 CP). Rainbow won’t yet be able to perform a Sonic Rainboom without the emotional push of helping a friend, but she’s getting a lot closer.
- Specific Knowledge/Cloud Architecture. This will help her build, maintain, and (perhaps most importantly) repair her cloud-house despite her undoubted tendency to crash into it (1 CP).
Higher Level Rainbow Dash:
By the end of season one, Rainbow can be expected to be level three, gaining some 58 CP along the way. Expenditures here will include:
Rainbow acquires the Element of Loyalty (Relic, free), expends some character points on acquiring two royal Contacts (Celestia and Luna, 4 CP), a certain amount of reputation and influence, even if she rarely uses it (since these are limited, about 6 CP), and a great deal of flexibility about taking time off from her job (Minor Privilege, 3 CP). With her Rune Magic skills up to +11 as a base (2 CP) she’s not QUITE up to performing her Sonic Rainboom at will even with her specialties to get her to +14 (it takes +16) – but a couple of instances of Skill Emphasis (+2 to both Casting and Mastery, for 6 CP in total) will allow her to perform it reliably by the time Lesson Zero rolls around early in season two. That in turn will allow it to be a standard part of her repertoire well before A Canterlot Wedding, where she has it down well enough to put in a practiced performance on cue. Another Specific Knowledge (Daring Do novels) is only (1 CP), but she’ll need Reflex Training (Specialized in casting Air Magic spells to boos her physical feats, 6 CP). That will allow her to use one of her favorite tricks – surrounding herself in a high-pressure zone to shield her from impacts and enhance her physical attacks as a free action – as seen when she destroys Applejack’s barn.
That leaves her 30 CP to spend on things like more hit dice, more BAB, her various other skills, saving throws, and getting some AC bonuses – but there’s no real point in going into a lot of detail; there’s no direct evidence as to how many points go where. Call it 2d6 HD (her high constitution will be doing the heavy lifting here, 4 CP), +1 on each save (9 CP), Defender (6 CP), another +1 BAB with unarmed conbat (3 CP), and 8 skill points (8 CP).
Overall, however, this combination of race, template, and world law does let us build and progress the character in a very good match to the actual events on the show – which is what this set of articles is all about, even if it WOULD blow a “standard” Pathfinder or 3.5 game apart.
Unicorn Pony (+32 CP, 63 CP or +1 ECL Total):
My Little Pony-style Unicorns are something of a headache to fit into d20.
That’s partially because unicorn children seem to be far more powerful than most unicorn adults. Even counting Twilight Sparkle as an exception, Pumpkin Cake can break chains, dimension door or teleport, phase through matter, move and animate objects, and fly around – at one month old. In the comics, Sweetie Belle, who certainly doesn’t seem to be a magical genius or exceptionally powerful, accidentally transforms half the ponies of Ponyville into animate fruit, apparently irresistibly. Yes, that seems to be mostly cosmetic (and so could be considered an illusion or a rather minor transformation rather than a major one) – but it’s still pretty impressive for someone who can barely levitate a broom.
Characters that get weaker as they grow up don’t fit into d20 as easily as most. Sure, you can just handwave it in a lot of games – but even if child PC’s are uncommon, kids are very common indeed. It makes it kind of hard to raise tension with a monster attacking a village if the smaller local kids panic-response can be expected to include blasting it with horrific spells. Given that that doesn’t seem to happen, it seems likely that very young unicorns only have mighty magical powers when it’s cute and funny for the audience.
That’s right up there with “The Cutie Mark Crusaders use a vacuum cleaner to suck the colors out of a rainbow, leaving it grey”. So… the winds from a storm have no effect on a rainbow, but the little wind from a vacuum cleaner sucks it dry of color? Across several miles? In seconds? It’s really hard to make that sort of thing consistent with a role-playing setting where the players expect to have at least some notion of what does and does not work.
Honestly, I’ve left this to simmer for days to see if I thought of anything – but there is no way to put “Children have mighty magical powers that only manifest to frustrate their caregivers or annoy others when it will be especially amusing to semi-omniscient third-party audiences outside the settings reality” into a setting in any way that makes sense in that setting. It doesn’t even make any sense as a curse on the kids or even on their caretakers.
I can’t put a cost on “the game master is feeling playful today”; it’s not even a character attribute.
Rather more importantly though… The vast majority of Unicorn adults – unlike, say, Earth Pony farmers or the rather ubiquitous competitive flyers and weather team members – tend to be pretty underpowered. Most of them seem to be capable of sensing magic, of making light, of telekinetically manipulating nearby items pretty much as if they had hands, and of doing something related to their cutie mark, even if it’s just a skill boost – and most of the time we don’t even see that much. After all… Trixie is powerful and versatile enough to make a living doing magic shows in a world full of magic users – and just how effective was Trixie? Under her own power Trixie is a good telekinetic, does firework and light displays, changes hair colors, momentarily shuts up a heckler with an easily-removed “mouth zipper”, creates electrical energy discharges sufficient to be annoying and startling to a Pegasus (cartoon joy buzzer style), and animates a rope.
For ordinary Unicorns we have Claude (who is good at animating puppets – and not giant battle-puppets or sneaky assassin-puppets or anything like that. Just puppets on a puppet-stage), Doughnut Joe (who is good at making doughnuts), Dr Horse (who is presumably capable of using a diagnostic spell and – I’d hope – a few other medical magics what with going through medical school), Fancy Pants (who is apparently skilled at fine control with his telekinesis), Fleur Dis Lee (who seems to have a knack for looking pretty), Flim and Flam (who have bonuses to fast talk and a spell for powering gadgets – if that isn’t an inherent function of the gadget), Jet Set and Upper Crust (who seem to specialize in being snobs), Sapphire Shores (who is good at singing, and might possibly do her own effects or background music), Trenderhoof (a skilled writer), and rather a lot of background ponies and Unicorn aristocrats who are never seen doing anything at all.
So for Basic Unicorn Magic we’ll need…
Occult Talent, Corrupted/these abilities are focused by the Unicorn’s horn; a successful attack on the horn, damage to it, curse on it, or other harmful effect on it, will block the use of this ability until the problem is corrected (or the user buys off this limitation. This limitation is quite obvious, since using their talents causes both the user’s horn and the target to be surrounded by matching glows (4 CP). For an instinctive spell list we have:
- L0: Dancing Lights (in many trivial variants), Daze (with various special effects), Detect Magic, and (Skill) Mastery (provides a +3 competence bonus on a particular skill for ten minutes per level, +6 if it only covers a limited aspect of a skill).
- L1) Greater Mage Hand.
A Unicorn can use four level zero and one first level effects each day without cost. After that, the spells may be powered by Mana (one point of Mana equates to two spell levels). As usual for the Occult Talent ability the Caster Level is equal to the characters level and no components are required.
Of course, there are a few required secondary powers.
Immunity/Being unable to Concentrate on more than one thing at a time (Common, Minor, Minor – covering up to three tasks and/or spells of up to level three at any one time, 4 CP).
One of the most inhuman things about Unicorns is their ability to pay attention to several things at once – reading while levitating the book and talking to friends, or manipulating several things with Greater Mage Hand at one time, and otherwise concentrating on several things at one time. Minor upgrades to this ability neatly explain why the greatest scholars and such tend to be Unicorns, as well as how Celestia (who also possesses Unicorn Magic) can keep track of so many things at one time.
Upgrade their basic Mana supply with the Spell Enhancement Natural Magic option (2 CP). Since this is just buying off a minor limitation, it’s quite cheap.
Metamagic: Amplify (Specialized and Corrupted/Only applies to Occult Talent abilities, 2 CP).
A Unicorn may spend up to three points of extra mana on a spell to boost its power – thus turning Dancing Lights into a fireworks show, or a blinding glare, or some such, turning Daze into Daze Monster or more, analyzing magical energies, boosting their skill further, or lifting greater weights at longer ranges. Thus – if the Superheroic World Template is in play – the baseline (Con 12) Unicorn can use their Occult Talents indefinitely, while those at Con 14+, 16+, and 18+ can boost them to accomplish a good deal more – and all unicorns have enough of a mana reserve to manage one or two more potent effects in an emergency. While these abilities do take a certain amount of training to use properly there’s no price break for THAT. Random NPC’s ponies may never have learned, but players are not going to cripple themselves by decreeing that their characters did not pay attention in magic kindergarten.
Unicorns get a +2 Racial Bonus to Knowledge/Arcana (2 CP). They may not have undertaken any formal study, but they do work with the basics, and can sense magic, almost from birth. They aren’t going to be unfamiliar with the stuff.
Attribute Shift, +2 Intelligence/-2 Strength (6 CP). A Unicorn’s multi-tasking ability makes them a very quick study indeed. While this doesn’t mean that there are no stupid unicorns, it does raise the average.
Advanced Unicorn Magic is a bit different. Unicorns get a Bonus Feat (6 CP) – but they don’t have to use it to learn further magic. Since young Unicorns tend to be subject to strange little obsessions, they may choose to develop almost anything.
Quite a few will, however, simply develop Improved Occult Talent (Corrupted as the basic version, 4 CP) and upgrade their basic Occult Talent for Increased Effect (additional formulas, +2 CP) – adding another three level zero and three level one spells to their list and increasing their daily “free” uses to 5 L0 spells and 3 L1 spells. This option is simple, practical, and requires only a moderate amount of study – not to mention that it can offer access to higher level spells, although extra Mana will have to be spent to get them down to an effective level of one. For ponies who expect to pursue a particular profession (and who don’t expect to be gaining a lot of levels) this is a fine choice. A few well-chosen low level spells can make life much easier, or make you an excellent doctor, or help immeasurably with many other professions.
The Hedge Magic list is an excellent source for this kind of thing.
There are Unicorns with major talents, but most of them seem to be strictly limited to particular themes – and so their abilities can be handled as forms of Rune Magic; they simply buy a +3 Racial Bonus on the appropriate Casting and Mastery skills (6 CP). In the case of villains, they can also be presumed to have a couple of character levels, and so may have added powers from that For some examples we have….
- King Sombra: Darkness/Negation, including mental darkness – despair, fear, forgetfulness, and compulsion. He doesn’t get enough screen time to really display anything else, but he is supposed to have survived a battle with Celestia and Luna, so presumably he’s got some levels to work with. Fortunately for him, concealing yourself, turning into an incorporeal shadow, and negating incoming attacks makes for some fairly good defenses.
- Party Favor: Object Conjuration – admittedly, in the form of balloon creations. Still an extremely handy ability since the binoculars and bridge he creates are perfectly functional and there’s no reason to suspect that he’s limited to binoculars and bridges.
- Rarity: Rarity is kind of tricky. At first glance, her magic is all over the place. Yes, she’s very good at multitasking and telekinesis, but otherwise she finds gems, makes topiary, makes beds, styles manes, repairs mustaches, cleans up messes (a must with Sweetie Belle around), heals plants (reattaching broken branches to trees), adds, removes, and modifies clothing, entertains, makes tea, rearranges furniture, repairs wheels, and creates light shows and backdrops. Rarity is a Hearthcrafter – a specialist in household magic. She can locate what she needs for household tasks, create elegant gardens, care for a household and the appearance and minor illnesses and disasters of the ponies in it, and greatly accelerate the typical tasks of running a household – such as making clothing.
- Shining Armor: Warding, albeit with some level-based area-of-effect boosts. He obviously has the “protective big brother” thing down pretty well though.
- Starlight Glimmer: Evocation. Starlight is probably the most directly combative Unicorn seen so far, her “explosive dimension door” can probably be fit into Evocation, and her “equalization” spell has been stated to be the result of long study – and thus not a normal part of her talent. Her telekinesis is pretty good as well. Still, she is the villain of a two-parter, opposed the entire party on her own, and escaped, so a few levels worth of upgrades seems likely.
- Sunset Shimmer: Fire, including it’s philosophical effects of transformation and fascination.
- Trixie Lulamoon: Transformations – although she also seems to be good with fireworks and has unusually strong telekinesis.
And then we have Twilight Sparkle, with a theme of “Magic”. That’s way too broad for Rune Magic. She might just be learning a few more formulas or instances of Occult Talent – but that would limit her to fourth level effects, and some of the things she does seem like they’d be over that limit unless she’s stacking on a lot of “free” metamagic. Still, this is Eclipse, and there are plenty of other magical systems she could be using. After all, Twilight is supposed to be the most powerful Unicorn that Celestia had seen in more than a thousand years – and was apparently destined to become an Alicorn. I think that we can safely count Twilight as being special or higher level or both.
This still doesn’t really explain why – looking at the setting – most of the aristocrats seem to be Unicorns. The Pegasi do better in the military roles, the Earth Ponies are better in most of the basic economic production roles, and being good with a particular skill only goes so far. A Unicorn with the proper talent will have an edge as a jeweler, or a smith, or whatever – but versatility has it’s own value. Even worse, while the value of having a master chef in charge of your kitchen is readily apparent, why would that position translate into becoming an aristocrat? While it’s true that individual Unicorns can be extremely powerful, it’s also true that any pony can become extremely powerful (certainly so in d20, and there are hints in the show) – and that that kind of power is very rare. What’s so valuable about having a Unicorn in charge?
Well, what happens in Winter Wrap Up when Twilight steps in to take charge? Sure, she’s exceptional – but she is sort of the essential Unicorn on steroids. Evidently, what with that multi-tasking ability, really smart Unicorns are incredibly good at getting things organized – and that’s something we can buy quite readily.
Executive, Corrupted for Increased Effect (add the user’s Int Mod to his or her effective level of use)/requires 2 Mana/hour to power (6 CP). This gives us the Unicorn Aristocracy. Putting a smart Unicorn in charge of a project or area results in an immediate jump in efficiency and production whether or not said Unicorn really knows what he or she is doing – and the effect is fully compatible with the augmentations enjoyed by other types of ponies. Even better… that gives us an aristocracy based on harmony, mutual benefits, and service to the community, rather than on wealth or military power – and that suits ponies very nicely indeed.
While a Unicorn’s role in a group is obviously “the mage”, in d20 terms they’re a lot closer to a magical thief. Telekinesis can handle a LOT of traps, open many doors, scoop things out of pools of lava, and more. While Runecasters may have combative magic on tap, their specialization makes them far less of a game-dominator than a classical Wizard or Sorcerer. Think Aahz and Skeeve (from the Mythadventures series) or low-end Warlock rather than Wizard.
Pegasus Pony (+32 CP, 63 CP or +1 ECL Total):
The development of Earth Ponies is pretty obvious; they’re almost ideally suited to survive in primitive tribes and small villages in pretty much any solid terrain. Only the most extreme environments and most vicious predators can even be expected to slow them up.
Pegasi… have a problem. Flight is a great way to get away from predators, and cloud-walking makes for safer sleeping (barring Gryphons, and Dragons, and… never mind, just give me a nice well-built stockade with a roof, OK?) – but, like it or not, herbivores need to spend a LOT of time where the plants are just to eat enough to survive. And Earth Ponies can be expected to support a much larger – and thus more dominant, civilized, and well-defended – population in any given area than Pegasi can simply because they can produce a great deal more food on a given area. Sure, Pegasi can make it rain – but Earth Ponies will innately sense how to manage the local ecology and water supply (that Nature Sense of theirs again) and can build aqueducts, qanats, dams, and similar structures if they must. When you come right down to it, Earth Ponies can be expected to hold all the terrain they can stand on, and it’s not like you can just drop a grappling hook and expect to haul up enough food to support a small herd on a cloud-raft!
Oh wait. There IS a place that you can do that and not have to compete with the Earth Ponies.
Out over the seas there’s plenty of water vapor to make clouds with, you can get fresh water out of those clouds – and you can haul up plenty of perfectly edible seaweed, catch fish (either with a nice lazy day of napping and fishing or – if you’re a little desperate – by throwing lightning into the water to stun them), and cruise around with no one to bother you. Dragons like solid ground to sit on, and Gryphons prefer places with prey other than fisherponies with sharp pointy things behind hardened cloud-ramparts. And if you’ve just GOT to cook something… lightning will do that nicely as well. What little bit you need from the surface you can either trade for, raid for, or harvest from islands which are too small to interest the Earth Ponies.
OK, that’s basically speculation, but I need SOMETHING to work with other than “a play about events from a couple of thousand years ago presents Pegasi as having a militaristic society during a time of great stress”. Even Granny Smith’s story about the founding of Ponyville provided me with more to go on than that.
Like Earth Ponies, Pegasi Ponies are incapable of casting “spells” in Friendship Is Magic (although more than a few of their air-based tricks are basically equivalent to spells) Also like Earth Ponies, this restriction does not apply in d20 and Eclipse, where there are a LOT of ways to use magic other than having a Unicorn’s horn.
Modified Diet: Pegasi Ponies can eat fish, but can get indigestion if they eat too much in the way of fiber-heavy vegetables; they’ve adapted to a more nutrient-dense diet (No real effect and no cost).
Winged Flight: Two levels of Celerity with the Additional modifier (Flight, 40′ base, perfect maneuverability), Specialized for reduced cost: will not function properly if the user’s wings are entangled, damaged, or otherwise restrained (although, weirdly enough, as long as the user’s wings are free to move, it doesn’t matter if they are actually moving), is subject to dispelling, antimagic, and similar effects, and makes the user magically conspicuous (which, as a small upside, at least could help Pegasi avoid running into each other when visibility is poor if they learn to sense that aura) (12 CP).
Pegasi flight is explicitly stated to be magical (as if that wasn’t blatantly obvious from the way that they pretty much park themselves in midair), but Pegasi flight speeds are subject to even more artistic license than most things in the show. Pegasi are fairly commonly shown crossing a considerable portion of the sky in seconds (calling for speeds of several miles per second), at other times sonic rainboom speeds (explicitly stated by Pinkie to be past the speed of sound) seem to be only about twice as fast as terminal velocity for ponies – or about half the speed of sound. Moreover, their high-speed flight (and its assorted contrails) is even more blatantly magical than simply hovering about and keeping up with the ground-bound ponies when traveling in a group. Ergo I’ve matched other ponies base ground movement of 40′ with a base Pegasi flight movement of 40′. Higher speeds are usually a function of special training and/or Pegasi Air Magic – which, if they’re good enough, can be basically equivalent to using medium-range teleportation. Similarly, they can lighten heavy weights – such as chariots and carts full of furniture – with their magic to allow them to be easily towed along.
Pegasi flight may require a trickle of mana – probably a point or so an hour. If so, and a Pegasus Pony either has a poor constitution or the Superheroic World Template is not in use, young or sickly Pegasi will only be able to fly for a limited time and even healthy adults may be limited at low levels. While this would easily account for the occasional flightless or flight-limited Pegasus, it won’t matter much to player characters in any case. It may be important to the setting though.
Cloud-Walking: Immunity/Falling (Common, Major, Minor, 6 CP base), Specialized/only while there’s a cloud of some sort to “support” them. Oddly enough, “clouds” of insects, smoke, and similar things work just fine (3 CP).
Going by potential damage alone you might need a much higher level of Immunity than “Minor” to handle falling (although, on the other hand, “falling” doesn’t hurt a bit; it’s stopping at the end of the fall that hurts), but going by the level of effect required for Feather Fall, Levitation, and Flight magic, “Minor” seems quite sufficient.
Adept (Rune Magic/Air, Mastery and Casting, Flight, Knowledge/Nature (Specialized for Double Effect in Weather Prediction and air-related phenomena) (6 CP).
Air magic pretty obviously covers manipulating weather and clouds, boosting their flight, making winds, dust devils, and larger weather effects, solidifying clouds, generating lightning, resisting the effects of high altitude, and – at upper levels – the “high speed movement” variations on teleportation. It’s what allows Pegasi to pull flying chariots and wagons – and it can also cover things like compensating for accelerating and steering projectiles (an aspect which is likely to see far more use in most d20 games than in the show), making equipment out of clouds, detecting things disturbing the air in the dark, and creating clouds. Still, while Air Magic is flashier, more dramatic, and has more combat applications than an Earth Pony’s Homesteading magic, it is considerably more specialized.
+3 Racial Bonus on all Adept Skills (4 CP).
Innate Enchantment: Feather Fall, x.7 Cost/only reduces the damage from high-speed collisions, crashes, and similar impacts, rather than negating it. Damage is one-fourth normal to a maximum of 6d6 (980 GP, 1 CP). While Rainbow Dash is the most notorious crasher, she’s hardly the only Pegasus who crashes into things, and it very rarely seems to hurt them much.
Innate Enchantment: Resist Energy (x.7 Modifier/electrical energy only, 980 GP, 1 CP, 10 points of resistance): Given that this stacks with their innate toughness, Pegasi are fairly resistant to lightning- although hardly immune.
+2 Racial Bonus to Spot (2 CP).
Additional +6 Racial Bonus to Spot/Specialized, only to make up for range, fog, and other atmospheric penalties (3 CP).
Pegasi obviously make ideal transport specialists, scouts, weather manipulators, and ranged combatants – and it’s worth noting that the difference between a weather team helping out the Earth Pony farmers and a guard team of aerial lookouts ready to throw lightning bolts at anything that threatens those same farmers is simply which way they happen to be looking at the moment. Thus, of course, you get the Wonderbolts curious mixture of professional athletes / exhibition group / military strike force. For Pegasi, there really isn’t a very big difference.
So you want to be a pony… Honestly, I’m not entirely sure why you want to drag a cartoon pony – an outrageously cute creature from a setting that resolves problems with friendship and harmony – into a d20 world that probably revolves around killing things and taking their stuff, but Eclipse is all about letting you do what you want. So lets build some ponies. Basics first, then the individual subtype modifiers.
- Medium Size: Ponies are short (about four feet as adults) due to their quadrupedal nature, but are still hefty enough to make the medium size category. No adjustments here.
- Humanoid: For rules purposes, ponies are considered to be humanoids. Just think of them as humans with “clubbed” hands and REALLY bad posture and you won’t be far off.
- Herbivores. Ponies can eat quite a few plants that humans would find indigestible, but can’t generally eat meat (although milk, eggs, and cheese are just fine). They can also apparently eat enormous amounts of cake, pastry, and ice cream without damaging their health. This isn’t generally important.
Now for the stuff that costs points.
- Quadruped / “Accursed” (-3 CP): Ponies only move at half ground speed when they can’t use all four legs. They can use one hoof as if they were hooking a forearm around something, one forehoof and their mouth as if they were a hand, and may use both forehooves and their mouth as if they were a hand-and-a-half (-4 penalty on anything which requires two hands). As some slight compensation, this does provide the usual quadruped bonuses (+10 ground movement and increased carrying capacity, along with a +4 against Bull Rush). Fortunately, rings, boots, and so on adapt to fit anyone – so there are no changes in their behavior for ponies even if they can wear magical horseshoes in their “boots” slot.
- Attribute Shift /-2 Dex, +2 Con: Ponies are fast and coordinated enough, but – when you come right down to it – hooves and mouths just aren’t quite as good as hands when it comes to fine work and (outside of Pinky Pie, who breaks the rules anyway) I don’t recall a lot of pony trapeze artists or acrobats either (6 CP).
- General Damage Reduction 3, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (DR 9/-, versus both physical and energy attacks)/only to convert lethal to nonlethal damage, only one-half of the base effect (DR 2/-) versus melee attacks by living creatures. Ponies can withstand smashing into heaps of rocks at high speed, but can still be readily hurt by weapons and other living creatures and are stunned a LOT more often than they bleed. They also don’t need oven mitts and are almost unharmed by small bolts of lightning (6 CP).
- Innate Enchantment (8 CP / 7000 GP Value). All effects Caster Level 1 x spell level 0 (½) or 1 x 2,000 gp (for unlimited-use, use-activated unless otherwise noted). Usually a x .7 personal-only modifier also applies.
- +2 enhancement bonus to Constitution (L1, 1400 GP). Ponies are very healthy critters.
- +2 Enhancement Bonus to Charisma (L1, 1400 GP). Ponies are cute and very social.
- Endure Elements (L1, 3/Day, 840 GP). Ponies generally don’t need clothing, regardless of the weather, although things like booties and scarves do make them more comfortable when it’s cold or wet out (even if they do appear and disappear at random).
- Cure Light Wounds (L1, 3/Day, 840 GP). Ponies heal far more quickly than they have any right to, and shrug off minor injuries in moments, but there do seem to be limits; major injuries may take several days to heal.
- Pockets (L0 Bard, Sorcerer/Wizard Transmutation, 1 hour per level duration: The target has lots of inconspicious pockets and pouches (concealed as if by a decent tailor, although this won’t get past any kind of a search) to keep things in, regardless of their state of dress or undress. 700 GP). Ponies don’t seem to have much trouble carrying money, small tools, and other odds and ends.
- Prestidigitation (L0, 1000 GP, x.5 for a limited selection of effects, 500 GP). This covers minor tricks like always having sunglasses on, defying gravity just long enough to look comical and say “Uh-oh!” before falling, having what little clothing they wear go back to normal despite being blown up, automatically returning their hair to it’s usual look, gulping down whole cakes, never suffering from indecent exposure, cleaning up in moments, picking up objects with hooves, continuing to look vaguely “adult” until they’re getting really old, having their hairstyle change to fit their moods, and even a bit of background music. While this stretches the limits of Prestidigitation, the lack of control – and of having any actual effects – makes up for it.
- Harmonic Convergence (L1 Bard Divination, effective for the duration of the performance or task. When the user makes music anyone who hears him or her will automatically know how to best participate in the music and choreography and may “take twelve” in doing so if they decide to participate. If this is used to help coordinate a multi-person task, such as building a structure, harvesting fields, or clearing up an area, the total amount of work done by those who participate will be increased by 20%, rather than being reduced due to the distraction. If used during a social event, everyone who participates will find their attitudes towards each other improved by one level. In Equestria, where animals are quite intelligent, they tend to join in too – but this may or may not work in worlds where animals act like actual animals and where friendship isn’t the greatest power in the universe. 1400 GP).
- Immunity/stacking limitations when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (common/minor/trivial; only covers level 0 or 1 effects) (2 CP).
- Immunity/the normal XP cost of racial innate enchantments (uncommon/minor/trivial) (1 CP). Ponies are born with their innate enchantments, and need not pay any extra experience for them. If the Pathfinder Package deal is in use, this cost will not apply – and ponies gain an additional +1 racial bonus to singing.
- 1d6+3 Mana, Specialized/only usable with innate racial talents, Corrupted/no natural magic option (4 CP). Ponies all have at least a small reserve of magic, even if most of them can’t use it for anything except their instinctive abilities.
- Rite of Chi, with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized/requires an hour or so of rest per use (4 CP).
- +2 Racial Bonus to Perform/Sing (2 CP), +1 Racial Bonus to Perform/Dance (1 CP). Ponies aren’t necessarily brilliant singers and dancers – but they all seem to be capable of participating in group performances competently.
Ponies could arguably have low-light vision (they almost always seem to have enough light and those enormous eyes should be good for SOMETHING other than attracting hugs and begging), but there’s really no evidence for it. Similarly, they might have natural weapons (hooves) – but the royal guards all use weapons, and those few who seem to punch and kick effectively (Rarity and Rainbow Dash mostly, although Pinkie and Applejack seem to know the basics) both seem to have some martial arts training (in Rainbow’s case, apparently a black belt in Karate). Still, if I giving them things that they MIGHT have there’ll be no end to it.
With a total cost of 31 CP, your basic pony is a +0 ECL character. Since I expect to wind up with the various specific pony types as +1 ECL races, that means that there’s 32 CP available for each subrace.
Earth Ponies (+32 CP, 63 CP Total):
Earth ponies are the basis of pony society; the founders, farmers, builders, miners, and workers who support everyone else. Earth ponies can get along without controlled weather, and without delicate devices and enchantments – but neither Pegasi nor Unicorns can get along without the food, fiber, wood, and metals that the Earth Ponies produce. This doesn’t mean that Pegasi and Unicorns are incapable of farming – but barring very special talents Earth Ponies are just so much better at it that they might as well not bother.
Earth Ponies cannot cast spells in Friendship is Magic, since spellcasting there requires either a Unicorn’s horn or some special ability, such as Discord’s powers of Chaos Magic. D20 in general, and Eclipse in particular, offers a far, FAR, wider range of ways of using magical power – and cutting Earth Ponies off from all of them would make them almost unplayable in quite a lot of games. Ergo, d20 Earth Ponies can develop magical abilities if they wish, even if they usually stick to professions that take more advantage of their natural affinities.
- Berserker (+8 Str) with Enduring (no fatigue afterwards), Powered by Mana (2 points) option. (9 CP). Earth ponies can manifest incredible strength, dragging around piles of anvils, houses, and similar massive weights. Other ponies sometimes develop this ability, but it’s not a normal thing for them.
- Occult Sense/Nature Sense, Specialized/only provides very vague information save for in relation to agriculture (3 CP). Earth ponies are aware when something is “wrong” with nature, but only really get details when it’s related to their agricultural endeavors.
- Specialist/Standing Firm: +4 to resist bull rushes and knockdowns (3 CP). Specialist is normally used for offensive tricks – but this seems appropriate enough, especially since even charging buffalo seem to be unable to knock earth ponies off their feet. Note that this stacks with the usual bonus for being a quadruped.
- Adept (Rune Magic/Homesteading Magic, both Mastery and Casting, Knowledge/Nature and Survival) (6 CP).
Homesteading magic covers a great deal of practical stuff – growing, harvesting, and preserving crops, extracting resources, fashioning simple tools, erecting barns and houses, making simple clothing, and pretty much all the other stuff that goes into establishing and living in small rural communities. Earth ponies are thus generally the founders, pioneers, farmers, and builders of pony society – the ones who tame and work the land. Homesteading magic is generally inconspicious, used as a part of a longer action. Thus, for example, “Applebucking” is a simple, low-level, harvesting spell – cast by setting up the buckets and kicking the tree. Most earth ponies don’t even recognize that they’re casting spells at all. They just manage to get a lot done each day, and don’t really see why that’s anything exceptional.
The “Superheroic” World Template allows each character to spend (Con Mod) points of Mana each round, although those points cannot be saved for later use. Thus Applejack (Con 18+ and highly skilled) can support Sweet Apple Acres with an endless stream of third or fourth level agricultural spells – allowing her to handle an incredibly large farm and explaining why it collapses so fast without her in Magical Mystery Cure; her brother may be physically stronger, but he has a lower Con and may have less skill; he can’t pour as much magic into the place as Applejack can. Without this world template Ponies will still be able to use their inherent magics and magical skills several times a day – but they won’t be able to use them all day long, the way that they do in the show. That, of course, will power them down enough to make them reasonably compatible with a standard d20 game.
- +3 Racial Bonus on all Adept Skills (4 CP).
- Tireless, corrupted for two-thirds cost/subject to dispelling, antimagic, and similar effects (4 CP). Earth ponies simply do not seem to get tired under any normal circumstances, even from things like spending a day and a night dragging a train across the desert.
- +3 Racial Bonus on any one “unarmed” (hoof based) Martial Arts style (3 CP). Earth Ponies are generally well-attuned to their natural equine combat instincts (such as they are). This doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily great fighters, but they can “punch” and “kick” reasonably effectively and can build on that if they want to. Given that fighting isn’t really that useful as a way to resolve problems in the show, this usually isn’t all that relevant.
Some sources imply that Earth Ponies can develop powerful defenses against Unicorn magic, or can readily smash stone with their kicks, and so on – but that wanders off into speculative abilities again. If you want that sort of thing in Eclipse, go ahead and develop it; it will just be a personal power instead of something inherent in your race.
And this is getting longer than I thought, so Unicorns and Pegasi will have to be next time around.
Thanks to Night Templar’s long-range mental probing, the players have some basic ideas about Azorath’s current state – even if they are missing a LOT of the details.
The modern history of Azorath starts about three thousand years ago, when Azor ascended to a higher plane (at least according to legend). He left behind a legacy of new invocations – mighty, but mostly relatively practical, spells allowing the Azuri to control the elemental aspects of the world and to call upon a wide variety of useful powers. With those powers in hand, the High Council of Azor – once Azor’s delegates and advisers – took over what “government” there was in their own right.
While the worship of Azor continued as usual (and still continues today, although there are a few philosophical faiths mixed in), other things began to change. Casual agriculture became more systematic, and the population grew – although, for some reason, the number of the Azuri did not, remaining fixed at some 100,000. It wasn’t long before the extraction of metals from ores (long known thanks to the occasional Azuri blasting rocks for target practice), the widespread use of carts and wheelbarrows, and the cultivation of earthly fruit trees, became firmly established. Plows were introduced, and the population increased yet again – although, once again, the number of the Azuri did not. As their percentage in the population decreased, the Azuri became more distant overlords rather than neighbors and more or less “feudal” domains developed, with networks of family alliances forming greater “nations”. Today the Azuri mostly provide large-scale services, major medical magic, and fight the occasional war. Fortunately for the human population, the Azuri find all but the most talented and highly-trained humans a liability in a fight – and so mostly settle “wars” with personal duels and occasional inter-family vendettas.
With the introduction of the crossbow, the Council began applying the brakes. First to weapons development, and then to other social changes. Too MUCH change would be a challenge to the divine order of the world. Too much more expansion would outrun the ability of the limited number of Azuri to supervise as well – and that would never do either. Who would maintain the stability of the world if that was allowed to happen?
Today Azorath is populated by some four hundred million humans, occupying roughly half of the best lands around the equator. They use late medieval to early renaissance technology – albeit with a lack of guns (the Azuri have not permitted them to develop, although they have no problems with fireworks) and an abundance of the minor magic that makes life so much more comfortable. The world is full of farmers, herders, weavers, potters, glassblowers, magicians, traveling players, and the thousand other trades of a prosperous (if somewhat primitive) society. Major roads are created by Azuri magic, are made of stone, and are driven though major obstacles. Minor roads are mostly of trampled earth. Thanks to the frequency of earthquakes, most of the population lives in rather lightly-built homes – often little more than frameworks with walls and roofs of trained vines providing a welcome relief from the heat while long-term spells keep out pests and inclement weather.
Taxes are relatively high, but when hasn’t that been true?
The Azuri are fairly straightforward; they are supposed to be descended from Azor; when they have children one to three in each generation will develop a combination of psionic talents and the ability to use several specific invocations that ONLY work for the Azuri. Their usual psychic talents include telepathy, teleportation, energy projection, enhanced durability, and some level of longevity and rapid healing. Other powers are rarer but possible; occasional children will develop weird sets of thematic powers. Their Invocations include several sets of elemental powers (these are in common use) and a selection of rarer spells. A VERY few can develop really exotic magical powers, but there are only a few hundred with that potential in any generation.
Still, having been raised as a divine ruling elite for millennia, more than a few of them are spoiled, entitled, and arrogant. Unfortunately , they’re still the only real organizing principle that the people of Azorath have ever known and do provide some rather important services.