Posts Tagged ‘Tails of Equestria’

Tails of Equestria – Character Levels and the Mane Six

June 18, 2017

One of the most enjoyable parts of an RPG adaptation of a popular series is seeing how it stats out the characters from that series. That’s because – since RPG fans are inveterate tinkerers who want to quantify their fantasies so as to better understand (and so enjoy) them – this lets us get a better handle on what they can do. With that level of concrete information, we can evaluate them in more objective terms; this forms a more stable foundation that we can hang new possibilities on, and so let our imaginations run (even more) wild.

Tails of Equestria, with its stats for the Mane Six, is no exception to this.

Pony Power Levels

Chapter 11 goes over the process of gaining levels. In brief, a PC (pony character) gains a level every time they finish an adventure, regardless of how many sessions that takes. Experience isn’t tracked; it’s one level per adventure, period. (Mini-adventures, such as The Gift Horse, are typically meant to be dropped into their full-length counterparts as an extra scenario, rather than being treated as full adventures in-and-of themselves.)

Gaining a level if a fairly simple process in Tails of Equestria. You increase one of your traits by one die size (and, if it’s Body or Mind, increase your Stamina points accordingly). You increase all of the talents that you used during the adventure by one die size (which means that canny players will try and find a way to use as many of their talents as they can during the adventure). You increase a single talent that you didn’t use by one die size OR learn a brand new talent at D4 value. You might choose an additional quirk, though this isn’t recommended.

That’s pretty much it.

The chapter also notes that characters that reach level 10 should typically be retired. Adventures for ponies beyond that point are “epic quests” due to the scope of the challenges that ponies of such a high level will likely face. (I also can’t help but note the amusing irony that ponies above level 10 are, essentially, “epic-level” characters.)

Naturally, this leads us to wonder if the Mane Six – whose stat blocks are on pages 136-137 – are epic-level ponies. At a glance, it’s not immediately obvious, since their stat blocks don’t list their character levels. Luckily, we can reverse-engineer their stats to figure out what level they are; while this can’t be done with their talents (since those are only raised if they were “used” or not during adventures, and so can’t be reliably measured), their traits have starting values and rates of increase that are set.

All 1st-level characters in Tails of Equestria start with a D4 and a D6, which they can place in either their Mind or Body traits as they choose. Their Charm trait always starts out as a D6. Finally, earth ponies – thanks to their Stout Heart racial talent – always bump up their Body value by one die size. In other words, we know what the total value of a 1st-level character’s traits will be. Since we know that characters always bump up a single trait by one die size when they gain a level, we can subtract this from a character’s starting trait values to figure out what their level is.

How does she not have “Being Awesome” as a talent?

For example, Rainbow Dash has Body D20, Mind D10, and Charm D10. Regardless of how she arranged her initial Mind and Body trait values (i.e. whether she started out with Body D6 and Mind D4, or Body D4 and Mind D6), we can chart the number of die increases she’s received, and the number will be the same either way. In this case, her current traits represent nine increases over a 1st-level character’s trait values…meaning that she’s level 10.

Some quick calculations show that this is the same for Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rarity; all are level 10 characters.

Twilight probably should be the same, but there’s a bit of an issue with saying for certain. If we judge her by the starting trait values of a unicorn (since she was one originally), then she’s received ten increases, rather than nine, which would make her a level 11 character. But as I noted previously, she should likely have the Stout Heart talent of an earth pony, due to her alicorn nature. Since having this talent automatically increases your Body trait by one die size, that would mean that Twilight has only gained nine increases, and so is a level 10 character, the same as her friends. That strikes me as being more in keeping with her character (even if she has had several adventures on her own, such as the events of Equestria Girls and Rainbow Rocks).

Naturally, this leads us to wonder what – out of over a hundred-fifty episodes – these nine adventures have been that raised the Mane Six’s levels. It’s tempting to consider the major two-parters that constitutes most of the season premieres and finales up through the beginning of season six (the earliest that Tails of Equestria can reasonably be set, since it references Flurry Heart), but not all of the Mane Six participated in those (e.g. the events of the season five finale, The Cutie Re-Mark – Parts 1 & 2).

Epic Ponies

By now it’s fairly obvious why the rules recommend retiring a character that hits 10th level: a unicorn or pegasus that hits 14th level (or an earth pony that hits 13th level) will be able to max out all of their traits as D20s! What happens if they continue gaining levels after that? Well, the rules don’t say, but they do give us a hint…

Several creatures have multiple dice for a trait, such as how the ursa minor has a whopping 3D20 for its Body trait! More relevant to ponies is that Zecora’s (p. 135) traits are Body D12, Mind D20+D6, and Charm D20. From this, we can infer what happens for ponies that want to increase their traits past a D20 value: they start adding a second die! As per Zecora’s stat block, second dice for the Body or Mind traits count towards your total Stamina points.

Presuming that Zecora started out with the trait values of a typical pony (i.e. a D4 and D6 for her Mind and Body stats and a D6 for Charm), then her current trait dice make her a level 15 character!

A second die for a trait – which I’ll go ahead and say should always start at a D4, just like a new talent – is most likely treated similarly to how you use talents in conjunction with traits. That is, you roll both dice at once, and take the highest value rolled; you do not add them together. So if Zecora were rolling her Mind trait, she would roll a D20 and a D6, and take whichever rolled the highest (if she were using a relevant talent,  such as Keen Knowledge: Potions (D20), she would roll that as well, taking the best result from all three dice). Having a second die therefore means that you’re much less likely to have bad rolls (this will become more true if you continue to increase your second die’s size). GMs should probably strictly enforce the note on page 87 that no trait should be more than two die sizes above any other…though ironically Zecora herself, with her Body D12 and Mind D20+D6, is breaking that guideline!

These same rules should apply for talents that are increased beyond a D20 as well. Note that any trait or talent that reaches a D20 value – let alone gets a second die – is no longer able to use the Exploding Hoof technique (page 57); when you’re already rolling a D20 normally, rolling a only single die in hopes of getting maximum die value so that you can roll the next larger die is pointless.

In the event that a character ends up with 2D20 and still wants to increase the die value, then they can add a third in the same way, with potentially no limit to the number of dice that can be gained, though at that point you’ve likely gone well beyond what the book would consider to be epic adventures!

For a character that powerful, becoming an alicorn is likely something of an afterthought.

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Tails of Equestria – Suggested Errata

June 10, 2017

So I imagine that my longtime readers (all four of them) are wondering why I haven’t had anything to say about the official My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic RPG, Tails of Equestria, up until now. After all, I’ve made quite a few posts about ponies in RPGs up until now, so why not a peep about the game since it released a few weeks ago?

In fact, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the game since it was first announced, and have already gotten a copy and reviewed it on various other websites. I haven’t mentioned it here simply because I use this blog for making more substantive posts than simple reviews, such as posting sample builds, suggesting variant rules, or mentioning some changes that I think should be made. This post is one of the latter, as there’s a (somewhat minor) issue that I noticed:

There seems to be an error in Twilight Sparkle’s stat block.

Before going any further, I should note that – as with all RPG systems that I talk about here – familiarity with the game rules is assumed. Use the link to the aforementioned review for an explanation of how the Tails of Equestria game rules work.

Pages 24-29 lay out the characteristics of each of the three pony types, noting that each has a racial talent at a D6 value: Fly for pegasi, Telekinesis for unicorns, and Stout Heart for earth ponies. Page 30, which briefly covers alicorns (and flat-out says that you can’t play one) says that they combine the characteristics of all three types of ponies: “Alicorn magic is not fully understood, but it is known that Alicorns have the magical powers of the Unicorns, the flying abilities of the Pegasi, and the strength of the good, true-hearted Earth ponies.” That seems to suggest, in other words, that alicorns should have the talents of each type of pony.

On page 137, however, Twilight only has two of them: Telekinesis (D20) and Fly (D6).

“She is Twilight Sparkle. Equestrian. She will not complain, so I complain for her.”

While it’s a bit odd that her Fly talent is so low – that would mean that, since becoming an alicorn (presuming that she gained her Fly talent as a D6 and not a D4, which seems like a reasonable assumption), her ability to fly has never been “used” during an adventure, since every talent you use is automatically bumped up by one die value when gaining a level (see page 87) – that she doesn’t have Stout Heart at all is a notable oversight.

That’s because, as outlined on page 25, the Stout Heart talent represents the only time in the entire game where you modify a die roll via elementary arithmetic: in addition to bumping your Body trait up by one die size, Stout Heart lets you roll the die associated with it (that is, the die associated with the Stout Heart talent itself) and add the result to any test that uses your Body trait. That’s the only time addition or subtraction are used in the game; all other mechanical interfaces with the rules rely on changing the number of rolls you get, how many dice are rolled, or the size of the dice being used.

This means that Twilight not having Stout Heart listed among her talents isn’t a purely academic notation; she’s actually (albeit slightly) reduced in what she can accomplish under the game rules. Most likely, she should have this at a D6 value, the same as for her Fly talent. Hopefully this will be corrected in future printings.