Thursday, January 5, 2012

MLP RPG: Unknown Ponies

On January 1st, 2012, four ponies crossed the Everfree Forest to investigate disturbing reports of attacks and disappearances within the town of White Stable. This is their story...


On New Years' Day, I ran a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic role-playing game over Skype. The players were as follows:
  • Jennifer Paradis as Pinkie Pie
  • Will Sweet as Rainbow Dash
  • Benjamin Worley as Rarity
  • and Mxyzplk as Twilight Sparkle.

I'd like to state again, just for the record, that I had three male players in a game based upon a girls' cartoon, and none of them were self-conscious about playing magical pastel ponies. We all had a fantastic (dare I say fabulous?) time playing, and there were several instances in which the entire group was reduced to howling laughter and/or tears.

Despite all the work I did last year talking about MLP:FiM is a Dungeons & Dragons game, I didn't use D&D or Pathfinder for the system. I figured that since this was a game based upon a cartoon, the system should be streamlined and fast-moving. To that end, I used Unknown Armies, which I further simplified because, again, this was a game about cartoon characters and I felt it didn't really matter if, say, I delineated the exact mechanical differences between Applejack's ability to perform farm games and her skill at rodeo. Therefore, if a pony had a skill, she had it at the rating of the appropriate stat.

Here are the character sheets:
Spike the baby dragon was an NPC and therefore had no sheet.

For those who haven't played Unknown Armies, the mechanics are pretty simple: roll under your score on percentile dice. 01 is a critical success, 00 a critical failure, and doubles are either extra-good or extra-bad depending on success or failure. If something is marked as an obsession skill, then you can flip-flop the roll; this makes a disastrous 91 into an amazing 19.

I houseruled what I call the Cutie Mark Critical: if you roll a 01 or successful double on your obsession skill, or on anything which is related to your Element of Harmony, you get a super-fantastic amazing success that results in such things as Sonic Rainbooms or intimidating a dragon into submission.

The emotional triggers are used mostly for role-playing purposes, although with UA's rules about mental disorders it would be fairly easy to bolt on a system to replicate how Cutie Mark Critical Fumbles can result in emotional breakdowns and ponies going crazy.



Things I learned from last night's My Little Pony RPG:

  • A better (read: more entertaining) word for unicorn telekinesis is "Ponykinesis". Please update your lexicons accordingly. 
  • When I say "It's quiet... too quiet," a cat will jump out. Of course, in this case it was Nyan Cat because one of the players had opened another tab and didn't realize it would be audible across his microphone. It totally wrecked the tense atmosphere but we all laughed.
  • Twilight Sparkle has a morbid sense of humor ("Everypony knows that there's no such thing as a vampony! They're actually mis-identified Chupacabra.") and, in a pinch, is willing to resort to Necromancy. (This was due mostly to Mxyzplk's interpretation of the character which could best be summarized as "Twilight Sparkle by means of H.P. Lovecraft." Strangely, it fit the adventure.)
  • Vamponies are attracted to bright colors and sudden movement, and they drain color from whatever they feed upon. 
  • Anyone who plays as Pinkie Pie has at least one actual, ready-to-perform song up her sleeve. 
  • I do an excellent Diamond Dog impression, even if it's hard on my throat.
  • Speaking like GLaDOS is both fun and habit-forming. 
  • Even in the midst of nearly certain death, Rarity takes the time to look fabulous, dahling. 
  • Sonic Rainbooms are lethal to the undead.

 If I had to do it over again...
  • I'd revisit the stats as I think some of them need re-balancing
  • Certain skills (like Pinkie Pie's Create Wacky Contraptions) need some sort of "X times per session" limit to them
  • I'd find a way to more fully integrate the Element of Harmony into the character as a kind of mechanical benefit -- perhaps when acting according to their Element, they can roll 2 sets of percentile dice and take the better number? Not sure how best to replicate this. 
  • I'd record the session because we spent at least half of the 5 hour session howling with laughter.

A good time was had by all, and I suspect this won't be my last time running a game in Equestria. If you'd like to give pony role-playing a try, leave a comment below and I'll see about setting something up.


1 comment:

Colin said...

I dunno... she looked prettt angry wish Dash after the madness started to set in.
Aand now I notice every comment I've made today has been a counterargument. Bleh. Time for bed, I guess! I will check out that game sysem tomorrow, though!

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