Unknown Ponies: Failure is Awesome

Art by the incomparable Joie Brown.

Given the runaway popularity of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Dungeons & Dragons series of posts, it was only a matter of time before I decided to try and run a game myself.

Ironically, despite having devoted 2 weeks to explaining how the Mane 6 fit classic D&D character tropes, I decided to use a completely different system. This was mostly due to the fact that both d20 games, D&D and Pathfinder, were too granular for what I felt should be a free-wheeling game more focused on interaction than levels, and conflict rather than combat.

To that end, I used the engine of the late, great, and still-missed Unknown Armies RPG. What started off as a simple play on words (replace "armies" with "ponies") soon became the seed of something greater. It led me to ask the question, "Why are these ponies unknown?"

Answer: because they're Blank Flanks. They are unknown both because they aren't famous, and also because their capabilities and potential are mysteries to themselves. Therefore, this is a game about self-discovery -- it is the Find Your Cutie Mark RPG.

How to replicate that? I took a good look at the Cutie Mark Crusaders, and in each of their episodes, one or more of the CMC fail horribly at tasks. Sometimes this failure is humorous, and sometimes it's tragic, but it is only through their failure that they learn and grow.

Failure results in learning. Learning is growth. Growth is awesome. Therefore, failure is awesome (eventually).

While this game can be used to play any of the Mane Six, or indeed any adult pony, I feel that it is at its best when used to play Blank Flank fillies and colts. This results in a more nuanced, organic character, and closely fits the theme of "learning from lessons" which is the core of the cartoon.

Version History
  • Version Pun:  Playtest version. More failure, less awesome. 
  • Version Hoof: Raised the base of all skills by 10% to decrease frustration. Some minor edits. 
  • Version Hoof-Print-Five:  Added art by the formidable Joie Brown, along with more edits. Current version.
  • Version Fluttershy:  Still in development. Will include stats for Non-Player Ponies, adventure ideas, and optional rules. 

Optional Rules


  1. you should test Savage Wolrds. Somebody "translated" MLP to SW.


  2. Hello! Author of Pony Tales here—the one on Deviantart, not Stairc’s. I’m terribly terribly dilatory, but I thought I should add your game to my little list of links to other pony games, with your permission of course.

    —Dave Bryant

  3. Having missed the first MLP roleplay, I must know... will you be open to running this game soon?

  4. Erin, check out 3GRP. http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/daniel-coonrod/3grp/ebook/product-17408872.html
    If you want freewheeling and don't want focus on levels this is it.

  5. Hi!

    I want to talk with you about the game, but I cannot see any mail around here, so here is mine:

    Please, write me. I think you will like what I want to say to you ^^

    See ya!

  6. Any plans for a podcast?

  7. Maybe, someday, I'll share the Kelpie I whipped up...

  8. Hi, The links are dead.
    Is it possible to have these resources?
    I'm willing to pay for them if is this the case.

  9. hi, i translated your book to PT-BR :)
    if you want to talk about it, I can share some of my social networks -v-


The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.