Ponies of the Eclipse – Pegasus Ponies

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.

8 Responses

  1. That does seem to cover it pretty well. I was wondering if there’d be anything here about the effects of spending a good portion of their lives at high altitudes…but Cloudsdale seems to be as high as most pegasi fly, and I’d be surprised if that was more than a mile off the ground. As such, oxygen and atmospheric pressure aren’t really issues (and they have endure elements for the temperature).

    Even if those were concerns, I’d expect that figuring out how to (instinctively) deal with that via their air magic would be among the first thing that pegasus foals learn.

    • I thought about it (it was on the list for the Champions versions after all). However, in d20, Pegasi (living on mountains and clouds) are considered “Acclimated to High Altitudes” by default – which means they’re fine up to 15,000 feet anyway.

      Now one bird got scooped into a jet engine at 37,900 feet, but that was wildly abnormal and no one knows what it was doing there. High-altitude Cirrus Clouds are normally made of ice crystals, and have a ceiling of about 20,000 feet. Thunderheads can reach heights of 50,000 feet – although that’s mostly due to winds and they’re quite unstable. Unless they need to pass over the Himalayas or something I can’t think of any reason to take Cloudsdale above 15,000 feet. After all, the highest peak in the rocky mountains is a mere 14,439 feet tall.

      Pegasi parents who want to take their infants above 15,000 feet for lengthy periods (Perhaps to dodge a dragon or something?) will just have to either a) cast air-supplying spells themselves if the kids instinctive cantrips won’t do, b) wait until the kid invests one or more skill points into air magic mastery so they can cast first level effects themselves, c) provide the kid with protective equipment, or d) come up with a more reasonable plan.

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