Ponyfinder In Equestria – Sea Ponies and the general Aquatic Template for standard games

Our next major Ponyfinder Pony Type is the Sea Horse or Seapony. In the show we have Seaponies / Hippocampi (equine upper body, fishlike lower body), at least some of whom are transformed hippogryphs (eagle-like upper body and equine lower body). Hippogryphs seem to be basically equivalent to Pegasi from what little the wiki’s have on them. They might trade out some impact resistance for effective talons, but that’s merely a guess and it’s not really at all relevant to their Seapony form. Seaponies do seem to come in at least the usual basic variants – unicorn-styled, pegasus-styled, and earth pony styled. Given that they may be able to shift to land forms, that seems reasonable enough. They might be related to the Sirens, since there’s a pretty strong resemblance.

We also see Mermares, who are more like real world Seahorses or actual fish, with fins and no limbs. Again, from what (very, VERY) little there is on the wikis… they seem to be pretty much equivalent to the other pony subtypes; they’re just shapeshifted a little more and are noted as being unusually competitive. Of course, it’s not like there aren’t unusually competitive ponies, so that’s not really much of a difference.

Seaponies didn’t make it to the original series of pony articles because – at that point – they weren’t even firmly established as existing.

In Ponyfinder “Sea Horses” replace some basic Pony bonuses (a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison, spells, and spell-like abilities, as well as Endurance as a bonus feat) with a small penalty (their base speed is reduced to 30 feet), a 40 foot swim speed, and getting Swim as a Class Skill.

Honestly, this is generally a bad deal. Like it or not, ground movement, poisons, spells, and spell-like abilities come up a lot more often in d20 games than swimming unless you’re in a specialty game. Worse, even in a specialty game a swim speed can be provided by various cheap-and-easy items and spells – which will certainly be available if the adventure calls for them. Otherwise most of the characters will not be able to meaningfully participate.

Secondarily… in d20 a hostile environment is mostly just a statement from the game master that “I haven’t put anything here yet” or “this area is for higher level characters who can afford the right gear” – and if not, is usually inserted simply so that a character with some special racial adaption or other ability will get a chance to use it. The first is impossible to adventure in (there’s nothing to do), the second is problematic (the area is set up for higher level characters, so you go in alone?), and the third gets a bit contrived after the first few times around.

An ability that the game master has to set you up to let you use simply isn’t all that useful compared to the stuff that gets used all the time – and so I’m going to squeeze this down a bit until it’s not very expensive either.

Ergo, I’m going to be going with Innate Enchantment, using a Greater Armor Crystal Of Aquatic Action and a very small Immunity to having to wear armor to use the thing.

So… Innate Enchantment (up to 7500 GP effective value, 8 CP) plus Immunity / The need to attach the crystal to Armor to use it (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP), both Corrupted / only functional when in water, causes a partial shapeshift into a more water-adapted form. Net Total: 6 CP. This would cost some experience points to activate in 3.5, but we’re presuming the Pathfinder Package Deal to go with Ponyfinder – and so there’s no XP cost.

As for the list of Innate Enchantments, we have…

  • Greater Armor Crystal Of Aquatic Action (3000 GP). The user takes no armor check penalty on swim checks, gains a swim speed (and a +8 bonus on Swim checks) equal to half their land speed (normally 20′ for a pony), takes no penalties on attacks or movement while underwater (as if under the effect of freedom of movement), and has Water Breathing.
    • Really, the appearance of this thing in the Magic Item Compendium tells me that the people who wrote it have much the same idea about hostile environments as I do.
  • Mindlink (Water Creatures Only x.5, Does not extend past normal conversational range x.7) Seaponies can “speak” with any aquatic creature that is capable of language, is willing to talk to them, and is not immune to mental effects (700 GP).
  • Snakeblood Tooth (1350 GP). +5 Alchemical Bonus versus Ingested Poisons. 3 Charges/Day: 1 to gain that +5 versus all poisons for three rounds, 2 to share it with three nearby allies, and 3 to become immune to poison for a round. Considering the number of toxic fish, snails, jellyfish, and other things that live in the sea, Seaponies really need some extra resistance to poisons. Have some Fugu!
  • Resist Energy (Cold Only, x.5, Personal Only x.7 = 700 GP). Seaponies are pretty much immune to the cold of the depths thanks to having Cold Resistance 10 when in the water.
  • Resist Energy (Variant, Pressure Only, x.5, Personal Only x.7 = 700 GP). Seaponies are immune to water pressure damage down to great depths, due to having resistance 10 to it.
  • Wings of the Sea (+30′ Swim Speed base but +20 Only x.7, Personal Only x.7 = 980 GP). Seaponies swim as fast as they can gallop, having a base Swim Speed of 40′.
  • Mundane Equipment Equivalents:
    • Air Bladders x 100 (10 GP): Any seapony can share a bit of its water-breathing magic with any air-dweller it is in contact with, but can only do so for a total of ten minutes divided by the number of creatures that it is trying to help before the air runs out. Fortunately, a seapony can restore it’s reserves with a minute or so at the surface. Secondarily, they can also produce a fairly good-sized bubble of air by similarly exhausting their reserves.
    • Buoyancy Belt (10 GP): Lets you adjust yourself for neutral buoyancy, gaining a +2 Circumstance Bonus to Swim Checks. Note that this does stack with the Circumstance Bonus from the Swim Fins.
    • Compass (10 GP): +2 to Navigate Checks
    • Depth Sensor (20 GP): Lets you know about how deep you are.
    • Fishing Net (4 GP): Lets you tow along small items, clusters of seaweed, and similar items without carrying a net or bag.
    • Knife (2 CP): Seaponies can use their fins to slice their way out of nets and other entanglements.
    • Signal Whistle (1 GP): A DC 5 Perform check allows you to send simple signals, audible normally for the first quarter-mile, -2 to perception DC per additional quarter-mile. Seaponies can make a variety of sounds which travel very well under water.
    • Swim Goggles (5 GP); These keep stuff out of your eyes and let you see twice as far as usual when under water.
    • Swim Fins (8 GP): +2 Circumstance Bonus to Swim checks (for a grant total of +12).

Which comes out to exactly 7500 GP.

That means that you can be a basic Seapony for only 6 CP – the cost of one feat. Ergo, if you want to be a Seapony variant on another type of Pony… you just have to spend your bonus or first level feat on it, and there you go. On those occasions when you have to adventure underwater, you’ll have no trouble at all doing so.

It’s important to note that the basic seapony package doesn’t rely on the Superheroic World Template; their abilities are all standard innate enchantments – and so the same package can be used to create aquatic elves, mermen, and similar oceanic characters in pretty much any fantasy campaign.

For a psychological note, seaponies are commonly rather nervous about being too far away from either land or water, That shouldn’t be surprising given that their basic defensive strategy is pretty obviously “If being chased by a land monster, go underwater. If being chased by a water monster, go ashore”. Thus almost all seapony settlements are near the shore, usually underwater where there is less competition for space and resources from other ponies, and at a depth sufficient to avoid problems with tides, storm surges, and similar disturbances. There’s usually a mixed seapony/other pony settlement on the shore nearby since that benefits both groups. It offers the land-dwellers easy access to the coral, pearls, useful seaweeds, and other riches of the seas and the seaponies easy access to forged metal goods, cooked foodstuffs, and a wide selection of other items and services that would call for quite a lot of magic to produce or use underwater. Outside of the shift in environment, however, the social behaviors of the Seaponies are pretty much identical to those of their kindred ashore.

Now if you want some advanced seapony feats you can buy:

  • Heart Of the Ocean: Blessing with the Group Upgrade, Specialized and Corrupted / only to allow the user to bestow the Seapony Package on up to (1.5 x Cha Mod, rounded up) land dwellers (6 CP). With this ability a seapony with a decent Charisma score can take his or her entire party for an adventure beneath the waves.
  • The Unbridled Storm: Seapony magic is normally vulnerable to Dispel Magic and Antimagic effects. If you want to make it an Extraordinary Ability instead buy Immunity to Antimagical and Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Epic, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Innate Enchantments, Only those that come with being a Seapony, 6 CP).
  • Harness The Tides: Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (3 floating CP) / points may only be used in conjunction with Create Relic, all relics must be inked to seapony culture or the sea in some fashion (3 CP), Create Relic, Specialized / only for use with the points from Enthusiast, above (3 CP). This allows a seapony mystic to create reasonably formidable devices.
  • Blood Of The Oceans: Immunity to Aging (Uncommon, Severe, Major (6 CP). Those seaponies who learn to draw their strength from the near-eternal forces of the depths may survive for several millenia with few signs of age – although even their immunity will eventually run out. Variant forms of this ability do turn up; some versions can draw on either positive or negative emotional energy to provide similar effects.

So the Sirens? Well…. presuming that you want to use them again (since otherwise there’s no reason to bring them up), we’ll have to assume that their defeat was temporary. If they’re not just monsters – and the fact that they turned human while Spike turned into a dog argues that they’re pretty much ponies – then they’re probably seaponies gone wrong. Ergo, they have:

  • Harness The Tides – allowing them to make mystic amulets to boost their Mystic Artist abilities.
  • The Negative Emotional Energy version of Blood Of The Oceans for long lifespans.
  • A level or two worth of Mystic Artist (Music) / Bard-style abilities, probably Specialized / their effects are drastically reduced without Equestrian Magic to help power them. Thus, while they could support themselves handily in the human world, they couldn’t achieve the fame, wealth, and power that they felt was their due there without more Equestrian magic.

So the Sirens were drawn to Canterlot High when Equestrian magic started flowing into the world there to try to claim it and bring their powers back to full potency. Despite having the edge in level and skill, they lost again because it turned out that the magic they were using to power their abilities was flowing into the world through the Rainbooms – so trying to use it fight the Rainbooms was fighting their own power source. Not being complete idiots (even if Sonata is a bit ditzy) after their inevitable loss they retreated to recover, restore their over-strained voices, and make some new amulets. They haven’t been seen since because they still haven’t figured out a way to get around the fact that the Rainbooms are unwilling to act as power batteries for them. If and when they think of something, discover the portal and go home, or find another way to draw magic from Equestria, they’ll be back.

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2 Responses

  1. Given that the current season of MLP:FiM has presented all hippogriffs as possessing a pearl-fragment necklace that allows them (and, apparently, several willing companions who are in physical contact) to transform into sea ponies and back again at will…that apparently means that they all have 2 CP relics, where the relic powers are the basic sea pony package and “Heart of the Ocean” modifier given above.

    Of course, that’s somewhat awkward, given that the movie had Queen Novo being very worried about letting the Pearl of Transformation fall into the wrong hands (i.e. the Storm King’s). I suppose she might have lightened up after her enemy’s demise, but it’s still strange she’d not only (apparently) allow the Pearl to be broken into shards, but would hand them out to everyone in her kingdom. It might be more convenient for everyone to be able to change their form at will, but it’s hardly secure.

    Given that, I’d presume that the fragments are nowhere near as strong as the original, hence why they can only change the users into sea ponies and back. I’d further postulate that they need to be linked to the wearer’s own energies in order to function (unlike the original Pearl, which was treated as though anyone could use it), requiring that the wearer invest their own CP into them. Hence why there’d be a greatly reduced fear of them being absconded.

    Now, requiring a CP investment is typically a corruption for reduced cost, which doesn’t really sit well with a 2 CP relic…so I’d say throw in “The Unbridled Storm” modifier also (making sure that no one drowns if they run into a freak antimagic field or gets attacked by a magic-draining enemy while underwater). That makes it a 3 CP relic reduced to 2 CP, nicely tying everything together. I suspect the hippogriffs have a culture that encourages this investment, probably as part of a coming-of-age ceremony.

    Having said that…I’m still rather curious as to what the original Pearl of Transformation would look like with game stats. The discussion Twilight and Queen Novo have suggest that it can only be used on willing creatures, and that it has an expansive range of polymorphing abilities (i.e. Twilight says “With this, we could transform everypony at home into something powerful enough to face the Storm King’s army!” and Queen Novo doesn’t contradict her, though she objects to its use). We also know it can transform at least seven creatures simultaneously (i.e. the Mane Six and Spike).

    The transformation seems to preserve their innate magical abilities (i.e. their cutie marks are still visible), but with reducing the overall number of limbs and letting them breathe underwater, that’s, what, a “major physical” transformation (TPE, p. 88)? As for the duration…well, we only see the Mane Six stay transformed for a few minutes, but the implication is that such changes are permanent until reversed (hence why the hippogriffs have been down there for so long, but Queen Novo says that she “wants to make sure [the Pearl] still works” when she transforms the Mane Six and Spike; it clearly hasn’t been used to repeatedly transform the population, who have been down there for some time (hence why Silverstream doesn’t know what stairs are).

    So take a level 0 shapeshift spell, +2 for major physical changes, +4 for mass targeting, +2 for hours/level duration, which then requires another +2 levels for a flat twenty-four hours (as per the Persistent metamagic theorem, Eclipse p. 59), and another +12 levels to make that permanent, and…hm, that’s a level 22 spell. Which can apparently be used at will…

    Maybe it’s a good thing that it was broken up into a bunch of low-power relics.

    • Well… “Major Physical” certainly sounds appropriate enough. You’d save a three or four levels with the modifier for built-in Metamagic, which would get it down to 18’th level – and figuring superheroic Equestria would let you power the effect with Mana, so any character with Con 14+ could power the thing.

      So Inherent Spell, with Advanced I, II, and III (24 CP), all Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect – this being My Little Pony almost certainly including no inanimate transformations, must suit the environment, and nothing directly harmful, as well as likely some skill or power level requirements and whatever else comes to mind, including investing your own points in the item.

      That gets us a set of four major, and probably long-term, spells of levels 9, 12, 15, and 18. Given the “no harmful effects” restriction but yet the Storm King apparently wanting the thing… I’d guess at a level nine personal temporary transformation to a more powerful form (Shapechange or a longer-duration Iron Body or some such), a level twelve landshaping application (for building cities, erecting or removing defensive works, and so on), and a level fifteen broad area stabilization-against-transformation effect – basically an anti-Discord ward. That would give it major military applications even without any offensive capability – and provide a good reason for either breaking the thing up or pretending to while making sure that everyone put a couple of points into less potentially-disastrous versions of their own.

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