Ponies of the Eclipse – Magic Items, Cutie Marks, and Alignments

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.

Pony Alignments:

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.

4 Responses

  1. It’s not really a magic item per se, but the Fires of Friendship also seem analogous to the Crystal Heart and the Elements of Harmony (and, by extension, the Tree of Harmony and the Rainbow powers…though given that the former is more of a place/thing, and the latter is ill-defined to say the least, they don’t really qualify as magic items either).

    Of course, the episode Daring Don’t mentioned quite a few other magic items, apparently of considerable power (along with what seems like several other villains that Celestia just sort of ignores), including the Amulet of Atonement and the Rings of Scorchero (which are actually in the episode…albeit as McGuffins).

    • I think that I’d count the Fires of Friendship as ritual magic drawing on the “friendship is magic” world law – unless I just built it into the Tree of Harmony.

      The Tree of Harmony is about the only thing in the show that I think I’d build as an (Eclipse-style of course) God:

      *It’s a mysterious elder power that’s pretty much immune to age, disease, and transformation (otherwise I’m fairly sure that Discord wouldn’t have needed to attack it indirectly) – all of which are side effects of godhood.

      *It exerts it’s Sphere of Influence over vast areas.

      *It empowers champions using the Bestowal, Empower Champion, or Life Creation (or some combination thereof) functions of Godfire. This is also a possible origin for Celestia and Luna.

      *It creates mighty relics, such as the Elements of Harmony, using Divine Infusion.

      *It may use Sanctify to protect the places where ponies (and other people) come together in friendship and harmony with the Fires of Friendship.

      *It probably uses Endowment to encourage friendship and harmony – thus allowing true friends acting together to accomplish greater things than they could alone.

      *Using Know the Flock and The Spark Within (manifested as the Cutie Map), the tree can easily detect things that it’s champions need to deal with and alert them to those problems.

      *While it has no apparent cult of it’s own (although it may get a trickle of power from those who know about it), the Elements of Harmony become famous – and when they’re returned to it, that potential would become available to the tree, empowering it with a sudden rush of Godfire. No wonder it suddenly got better.

      Now the Tree is pretty passive and subtle for a god, but what would you expect of a plant deity? Breakdancing?

      Daring Do sources do mention a bunch of things – the Sapphire Stone, the Rings of Scorchero, the Flankara Relics, the Eternal Flower, the Half-Gilded Horseshoe, and so on – but since we haven’t got a clue as to what most of them actually do*, I just left them as “enough ancient artifacts to keep Daring Do perpetually busy”.

      *The rings… make it hot out? Really? Of what actual use to anyone is that? Who would bother making these things, unless, perhaps, they were made to keep the Wendigo away? Even the suggestion that I ran across in some fanfction (“Why ancient rituals don’t always work”) that the Rings were actually mistranslated, and were meant to bless fertility festivals to shore up the population by inducing estrus (“unrelenting heat”) made a lot more sense than “they make it hot out” (and made a rather funny story, albeit one with some “adult” passages).

  2. […] Magic Items in Equestria, Cutie Marks and Names, Pony Alignments. Why Equestria is a world of Charms, Talismans, and Relics – a standard Literary Magic Item world. Commentary: Building the Tree of Harmony, the Fires of Friendship, and the Cutie Map. […]

  3. […] Magic Items in Equestria, Cutie Marks and Names, Pony Alignments. Why Equestria is a world of Charms, Talismans, and Relics – a standard Literary Magic Item world. Commentary: Building the Tree of Harmony, the Fires of Friendship, and the Cutie Map. […]

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