Thursday, January 24, 2013

Unknown Ponies: Using the Friendship Track

The Friendship Track has long been a point of confusion among Unknown Ponies players. I'm not sure why, but it seems like players either do not understand how the track should work, or feel they must go out of their way to interact with NPCs to grind for Friendship Points. I've long sought to explain how the system worked, but have had limited success.

However, that all changed last week. 

Saturday's episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, "Keep Calm and Flutter On,"  featured the return of fan favorite Discord and the attempt by Fluttershy to rehabilitate him.  At the end (Spoiler Alert!),  Fluttershy gets him to reconsider his ways by... well, let's just roll the clip: 

When I saw this, my jaw hit the floor because throughout the episode Fluttershy -- to use Unknown Ponies terminology -- had been building up Friendship Points through her interaction with Discord. At the climax of the show, she then royally bitchslapped him by spending ALL OF THEM (possibly with a Magic point to amplify success).

Here's a breakdown of how I would have handled it using UP:FIA rules:
  • Generosity point for allowing Discord to stay at her house; Kindness point for making an effort to make him feel welcome. 
  • Kindness point awarded when Discord breaks her lamp and she says nothing.
  • Loyalty point (trust) awarded when Fluttershy leaves Discord alone in her house. 
  • another Generosity point awarded when she allows Discord to keep rotating the house because "it makes him feel comfortable."  
  • When Discord says "You're too kind, Fluttershy" one of the PCs pipes up and says "That's another Kindness point, right?" The Ponymaster, trapped by her own words, says yes. 
  • Fluttershy decides to hold a dinner party for her friends. This might require spending three Generosity points to ensure Discord's cooperation -- but then, it might not, if Discord saw the party as an opportunity for more mischief. Either way, it's a win for Fluttershy's player: she either keeps the points, or has definite proof that spending the points are influencing Discord's behavior. 
  • Kindness point awarded for Fluttershy saying that "I can't remember my house ever being this lively before you came along" to Discord. 
  • The rest of the dinner party is a bit of a wash, because any Loyalty points earned from interaction with Discord would be lost through failing to object to the mistreatment of the other ponies.
  • Honesty point awarded when Fluttershy promises never to use her Element of Harmony against Discord. She gets two more when Spike tries to get her to use it and she says "I made a promise and I intend to keep it."
  • Cue Discord gloating about how Fluttershy's friendship make her incapable of acting against him, and he is free forever.  The PCs now know this is the critical moment. Fluttershy says "NOT your friend!" and walks off; Discord taunts her about "You think I'll change things back? Because if I don't, I'll lose the one friend I ever had?"
  • The PC says "Yep!" and spends all her points. This episode alone, Fluttershy's player has earned 4 Kindness, 3 Honesty, two Generosity and one Loyalty -- not counting however many more the character might have had stored. 
  • The other PCs, whose characters are watching from the bank, are also free to spend THEIR  Friendship points as well in order to help Fluttershy, because they are A) present, B) affected by this too, and C) friends with Fluttershy. 
  • Epic smackdown commences.

"Well played, Fluttershy. Well played."

So after watching and coming to this realization, I knew that what I needed to do was analyze a show in the full context of Unknown Ponies. So tomorrow, what I will do is give a play-by-play of the Season 3 episode "One Bad Apple,"  because it is both a Cutie Mark Crusaders episode (and therefore precisely the kind of adventure that UPFIA is trying to emulate) and because it is the first CMC episode to show actual skill improvement.

Stay tuned, fellow Bronies! Same pony time, same pony channel!


  1. Ooooh.  

    Yes I can see that working.  And it makes sense that Flutteryshy didn't get any Magic or Laughter points.Is there a bonus if a PC has at least one of each of the 6?

  2. Bout bloody time you got back to this. Your loyal cadre of playtesters have been waiting with baited breaths. ;)

  3. Possibly. Am toying with the notion that 1 of each can be converted into a Magic point in the same way that having 5 of a kind can, but that might end up being way too powerful. Feel free to run simulations on that, Math Pony!


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