Thursday, January 26, 2012

Unknown Ponies: Questions, Addenda, and Advanced Rules

1) Unknown Ponies: Failure is Awesome is up to version 1.5. Most of the changes are grammatical in nature, with a few bits added for additional clarity. The link is the same, as every time I update the version I overwrite the old one.

2) Would people be interested if I added stats of the Mane 6, Cutie Mark Crusaders, and other NPCs (Big Macintosh, Derpy Hooves, Mayor Mare etc)? Would you prefer them either appended to the PDF or as a separate download?

3) Advanced Rules: Names and the Cute-ceañera
While many players of Unknown Ponies will have a firm notion in mind of their PC's eventual cutie mark and will name him or her accordingly, there are some players who will find it more interesting and challenging to leave their cutie marks up to chance and role-playing. This however presents a problem when it comes to names.

While some ponies have names which are unrelated to their cutie marks (Pinkie Pie), many more of them do. This is not a problem on the show, as the writers have the ability to decide ahead of time what a pony's cutie mark will be and name that pony accordingly. For a player who wants to role-play the discovery of a cutie mark, this is not possible, and as characters need to be named something, they are forced to either take a generic name or risk choosing a name which will potentially clash once their special talent is discovered.

Correcting this is simple: we take the concept of the cute-ceañera -- a party held for colts and fillies upon gaining a cutie mark, and combine it with the Japanese coming-of-age ceremony known as the genpuku.  When a pony comes of age, she may choose a new adult name (usually related to her cutie mark) at her cute-ceañera, or she may choose to keep her childhood name. Neither is more socially-acceptable than the other; it is entirely a personal choice of that pony.


  1. Hey, out of curiosity, is this specifically for you to run, or if we're interested, can we run a game? Because if it's just for you to run, I'd love to join, and if we can run a game, I'll love you forever because I've been looking for a MLP:FiM DND type game that I can run for my friends during our game nights.

  2. I guess I should post this here?

    So I'm starting up a campaign of this and I have just two rules things I think you may want to make more explicit:
    Regarding skills, can anypony subtract from one skill to add outside the other? The way you have it written kind of implies only Earth Ponies can do that. I have a Unicorn player who is a painter, which is a Soul skill. I eventually just told him to knock 5% off five other skills and he can start with it.

    Secondly, can anypony learn spells from a book a la Twilight Sparkle? I just ruled in my game that unless Unicorn Magic is your Obsession skill, it's restricted to one thing. This seems reasonable to me but should be addressed in version Fluttershy.

    Love your work and looking forward to running the game~!

    Edit: Also, will there be a character sheet included in the next update? I'm using adapted UA ones for now, but having a kosher Ponies character sheet would be cool

  3. Regarding point one: Are you talking about Blank Flanks, or adult ponies?

    Point two:  Yes, that seems reasonable. Unless that specific spell somehow ties into that pony's obsession (example: I could easily see Rarity learning any spell that has to do with glamour or gems).

    Yes, a character sheet is definitely in the works!

    So, I'm curious: Do you know why I'm calling it "Version Fluttershy"?

  4. Point One: Blank Flanks.

    And I assume it's because we are going to love it.

  5. Hmm. As written, Earth Ponies are the only ones who begin the game with addition skills as Blank Flanks because that's their schtick. Pegasi fly and control weather; unicorns have magic and ponykinesis; earth ponies are the skill masters. It's a balance thing.

    That said, I'm perfectly okay with how you house-ruled it. :)

    And it's called Version Fluttershy because she'd like to be a three...


  6. Like to be a three...

    I can die happy now.

    Just curious (and to press the point a little bit), how would you handle in your system a pony like Rarity, whose obsession is pretty clearly Fashion (a Soul skill under my reading of UA, which I also GM), but as a filly wouldn't get any points to have a Fashion skill in the first place.

  7. Filly-Rarity wouldn't have the points at character creation. However, her player can immediately start trying to make fashions during the game.

    From p6 of UP v2.5:

    Whenever a character wishes to perform an action (if she has no skill for that action, give her a 10% chance of success), have her roll percentile dice. If she succeeds, BRAVO! The reward of success is success itself. However, if she fails – which is far more likely – her skill increases by 1% as a result of learning from that failure.

    (Emphasis added)

    Should I make it more clear that the moment you earn XP in a skill (from failure), you write it down on your character sheet?

  8. Ahhh, good point. Silly me equating character creation with sum of everything :p 

    I think it just needs to be a little clearer on acquiring new skills during play. That skills you already have improve immediately is pretty obvious to me.

    (I assume the pony keeps that 10% chance until her skill hits 11%, doing otherwise seems a little unfair.)

    Also, since one of my players raised this objection- it doesn't quite make sense that the cutie mark itself is earned via failure. All of the other improvement makes sense, but the only canon cutie mark earned by failing is Twilight's. Applejack, Fluttershy, and Pinkie earned it dramatically (and the latter two arguably didn't even have the skill before the mark was earned), and Dashie and Rarity by rolling 01s. The example he made was with my painter PC- it doesn't particularly make sense to earn a cutie mark after making real stinker.

    I think I set him straight but you may want to emphasize that the cutie mark is a dramatic, and not merely mechanical, part of the system. It should seem less like a Pokémon evolving and more like getting a prestige class in DnD, if you will.

    (sorry if it seems like I'm constantly nitpicking your system!)

  9. No no, you aren't nitpicking, you're critiquing. Clarity is essential for a good product.

    Since things are getting a bit... cramped... here on le blog, I'm going to start a new comment just after this one.

  10. Okay, so:

    Agreed that I should be clearer on how to earn new skills. The moment you try something for which you have no skill, you have a flat 10% chance at success -- unless the Ponymaster decides that, for whatever reason, you cannot try it unskilled. (I don't see this as happening often, but it is plausible.)

    Once you've rolled the dice, you should write down this skill on your sheet at either 10 or 11%, depending on if you failed or not.

    Regarding the Cutie Mark: I agree that its appearance should be dramatic, which is why I suggested it be awarded when rolling a 01 or a matched success. However... keep in mind the absolute devotion that is involved in raising a skill to 40%. Think of all the practicing that this suggests. Awarding a cutie mark is less "failing upwards" than it is "You've rolled this skill so many times in the game that it is CLEARLY part of your pony's personality. This devotion to the cause suggests that your pony has practiced until s/he has clearly mastered the skill. Therefore, I am awarding you a cutie point because clearly your pony is stubborn and believes in him/herself."

  11. I gotcha~ That's about the end of any critiques or comments I have right now.

    I'll letcha know how the game goes and if my players manage to poke any new holes anywhere. I'm really looking forward to using the Friendship track in particular~
    (oh also I lied- as I'm typing this one of my players asked if he could be a zebra or buffalo. I told him they're currently NPP only, but since Alchemy has rules now any chance of rules for those two? If not in Fluttershy perhaps Version joyously-awful-four-pun)

  12. Mechanically, Zebras are just Earth Ponies with an exotic way of speaking and the ability to begin the game knowing Alchemy.
    (Zecora has a cutie mark, you know. I think it's a very stylized version of a cauldron, seen from above, with the ingredients swirling inside.)

    Buffalo don't have cutie marks, and neither do cows or donkeys, so I don't see why anyone would want to play one.

    Griffons, maybe. And Kelpies are always an option!


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