AdamThePony

Joined November 2011
136 followers
22,727 story views
1h, 15m ago

A person who was skeptical about Ponies. Then he saw them and became a Brony.

Latest Stories

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Jul
19th
2014

Ponyfinder Review · 9:24pm

To preface this review, I’d like to share an anecdote about the tedium that it took to get this book in my possession.

As some of you may be aware, among other nerdy pursuits, I like to play (but am mostly a collector/connoisseur) of Tabletop RPGs. Ever since my first days of playing systems like Microlite20 and TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes, I’d had a fascination with RPGs, especially ones which base themselves on particular styles of gaming (such as Fight!, an RPG devoted to emulating Fighting Games). So, when I’d discovered that Ponyfinder a Kickstarted campaign book for the Pathfinder Roleplaying system was in circulation, I had to get my metaphorical hooves on it  by any means necessary.

However, multiple Google searches failed me, and neither 4chan’s /tg/ or /mlp/ boards were willing to touch the campaign book at all, much less share their copy. It wasn’t until I was on the IRC chat of the Legend system (a free, massively overhauled version of D&D 3.5e that also had a pony supplement to go along with it) that I serendipitously ran into someone who had a copy, who styled himself as Iron Heart.

Naturally, I was ecstatic to finally have the setting and see what goodies lied betwixt its binds.

Having finally read it, however, I think I’m starting to see why even /mlp/ didn’t have interest in this book.

You know those knock-off toys of My Little Pony you see at your local supermarket or dollar store? The ones that try to emulate generation four while trying to act all cool and macho to distance themselves from the bright, feminine, idealistic genuine article?

Well, that’s sort of what Ponyfinder is. It has that general flavor of G4 MLP, but it’s been marred here and there by what feels like a needlessly arbitrary dash of cynicism due to the fact it’s trying to connect itself with Pathfinder.

Allow me to go into greater detail.

The front cover, as befitting of any Pathfinder cover, depicts a Unicorn Paladin, A Unicorn (or perhaps Gem Unicorn) Wizard, and a Winged Cat Monk facing off against a creature vaguely resembling the Tatzlwurm from Three’s a Crowd. It also has the standard bells and whistles of any Pathfinder book, with the name of the book, a stamp saying it’s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible, and our primary author, David Silver. A brief google search seems to imply that this is Silver’s first outing in the realms of 3rd Party Pathfinder books.

This can only go well.

The next two pages are devoted to a map of the setting of Everglow. Get used to these names, because they’re writing around plenty of trademarks in this book. It looks pretty close to Equestria, but has the marks of Human and Elven settlements being to the east and west of this continent. More on that in a little while.

At page seven—after the expected guff of the table of contents, dedications and so forth—we get an anecdote on the creation myth of Everglow. Placed within the loose barriers of the elemental planes, Everglow is a “blessed” place, with enough vibrance to support many a magical race that would otherwise be unsupported in other worlds. The first being to set foot on this fertile bed of magic and life was a human. Her name was lost to time, canonically, but is later listed as Shiela. Seeing the potential in this world, she took it under her care and created the races that would populate it. She started off with feline races, creating the purrsians, sun cats, and griffons. They were finely crafted, but vain, selfish beings who saw peace as a tertiary goal.

Not pleased, she then created the goats which, while sociable, warm-hearted, and friendly, were too timid and meek to become a driving force of this world.

So, figuring that the Rule of Three would work in her favor, she created ponykind, and adorned them with Brands of Destiny. This done, she faded away into obscurity, becoming the settings equivalent of Exalted’s God of Exaltation. Though many dispute her existence, her mark upon the world is fairly substantial.

All in all, I think it’s a pretty nice way to about a creation myth, especially one with a Lauren Faust expy at its crux. It’s fairly concise and whimsical.

Following that, we get the gamut of racial statblocks for the various varieties of ponydom, including the standard three tribes, along with Gem, Leatherwing, and Sea ponies, along with Zebras and Doppelgangers (changelings). We also get a couple of fairly non-standard races to choose—Chaos Hunters, who are ponies branded by fate to do battle with demons and monsters, and Clockworks, which are to ponies what Warforged are to humanoids. An impressive start, to be certain, and the fluff concerning them definitely fits the bill. There’s also rules for how to deal with certain tribulations of playing races of no fingers.

Then we get to the weird stuff.

Sorcerers get a couple of new bloodlines with this book, one called Unification (For those weirdoes who want to play as sorcerers with equestrian blood giving them power), and another for Vampiric (for those edgy guys who like playing moody, emo bloodsuckers).

Moving past that, we get to perhaps my favorite part of the book; How ponies fit certain professions. The fluff here is pretty strong (with a few exceptions), and gives you an idea of how even some of the odder classes (like Gunslinger, Cavalier, and Monk) would function as pony professions. You also get a whopping eleven racial archetypes to work with (One for Barbarian, Rogue, Druid, Gunslinger, Bard, Magus, Alchemist, Paladin, and Witch, and a couple for Wizards) There’s also a page for Eidolon evolutions for Summoners, to boot.

Next, there’s a crap-ton of feats for ponies of all mentioned stripes, which cover things like cloud-walking, affinity with the equine gods, mastering your special talent, or using your natural abilities better. Most of them are pretty good, some of them are kind of worthless (like Sea Ponies being able to get up from prone faster), and a few are mostly for flavor. (like Pious Brand, which has your holy pony’s Brand of Destiny match the divine symbol of the deity they worship).

I think my favorite is the Clockwork’s feat of having integrated firearms. Bad. Ass.

After that, we get a few more race things, which bring up the Cloven (goats with a penchant of mild xenopobia and a knack for being quiet and unassuming), Flutterponies (basically, breezies before breezies were concieved), Griffons, Phoenix Wolves (a small race of redeemed hellhounds resembling timberwolves), Purrisans (winged cats who were among the first sentient races of Everglow), Steelhearts (Pony Golems!), and Sun Cats (nomadic lionoid creatures who forwent hunting ponies as prey, eventually becoming good trading neighbors.)

And to round things out, we come to the Pony Pantheon. Ponies do indeed have gods, and this book details eight of them—one for every alignment save Chaotic Good. To give a brief summary, in order of appearance they are as follows:

Blaze (Corona Blaze) - Chaotic Evil

Kara (Queen Chrysalis) - Neutral Evil

Moon Princess (Princess Luna) - Lawful Neutral

Luminance (Princess Twilight) - Lawful Good

Shiela the Author (Lauren Faust/Megan(?)) - True Neutral

Sun Queen (Princess Celestia) - Neutral Good

The Nightmare (Nightmare Moon) - Lawful Evil

Unspoken (Discord) - Chaotic Neutral

All of them have descriptions of their appearance and demeanor, means of offering divine revelations and visitations, favored weapons, domains, and holy symbols.

Following this, we get more fluff, including what the races of Everglow do for fun (Ponies like to run, throw horseshoes, tell stories and even play cards, Purrsians play a seek and find sort of game, etc.), alongside the age, height and weight blocks that are typically used with these kinds of books, as well as rules for having Pony Companions and Familiars, and a few optional rules for playing with realism, which can be helpful if you happen to be running a campaign with non-pony PCs.

So you may be wondering, then, why I was so upfront in expressing my vitriol at the beginning, bashing this book’s unneeded darkening of the MLP mythos just to make it in line with Pathfinder.

That, my dears, lies in its history.

I won’t go into as much detail on this as I had in prior segments, as the history itself is short enough on its own for you to read on your own, but I will give you the cliffnotes of it.

Ponykind in Everglow began as one primitive, tribal race. They bore not wings, horns, or fins, and were bound to the earth, acting as their custodians. Their beliefs were primal and pagan, and they celebrated the great machine of nature, in all its bounty and danger. When ponykind settled down and began to tame Everglow, they began to grow diverse and evolve, becoming new breeds and races to coincide with the environs they called home.

However, with this diversity, ponykind lost its cohesion, and oftentimes, meetings between the newly formed tribes were hostile, resulting in many territorial battles. However, thanks to a faction of ponies called the Seekers of the One Herd, they slowly began to unite under one banner.

Things began to further change when a Unicorn monarch named Iliana took the scene. With a new faction of loyal imperialists loyal to her banner and a message of unity in her heart, her burgeoning kingdom came into contact with with a tribe of ponies who were, for lack of a better description, the equivalent to The Scourge. Iliana, being the idealistic, redeeming type, tried to reason with them, but they wouldn’t have it, and thus the War of Broken Bones erupted. The war lasted twenty years, and at the end, the victory of Iliana commanded the respect of the other pony tribes, and an empire was soon born.

Newly united, Ponykind encountered dwarves, and after some unease, became quite comfy with Ponydom and Purrsians as fellow traders and scholars.

At the Height of the Empire, most of the continent is under Imperial control, with the few who did not fading away into obscurity through their own infighting exhausting them. Queen Iliana has become a true God-Queen, loved and worshipped by her subjects. WIth their dominion established, Ponykind turned to the other races of the world, taking interest in their works and sharing their foes. Humans, ever growing, try to stake their claim in Everglow, but are not yet organized enough to truly lay a firm foothold. It is here that the Pony Pantheon was founded, with Queen Iliana providing the template.

The Seekers have grown strong and retain their Peacekeeping sensibilities, while also serving to look for the remnants of other tribes. Then there are the Unbound Hooves, who are basically all about bucking the chains of destiny and following their own pursuits.

Last, there was the fall of the empire. With Queen Iliana in her senior years, she tried to future-proof her Queendom by apprenticing young ponies in her virtues. However, none of them seemed to be worthy successors, and cared more for the throne than the peace of their empire. When the queen passed, she left no heir in her wake. Thus, with the political void came infighting, and with infighting came civil war. The War of Hoof and Fire ravaged Everglow, with the Drakehooves (a tribe of ponies well-versed in dealings with dragons) attempting to seize the capital themselves. By the end, the continent was in shambles, and the dark age called The Great Loneliness ensued.

The empire now in shambles, Humans and Elves took quarter in the lands that had once known prosperity. With their prayers to the gods now falling upon deaf ears, Ponykind felt adrift, and now had to face the rest of the world they had once blissfully ignored, embracing globalism. The Seekers attempt to pick up the pieces, but Ponykind has changed.

I think you can see the point I’m trying to make. While in the show proper, the events prior to Equestria’s founding were not pleasant, and they did in fact have to face ethereal creatures, it was not in this sort. The conclusion of their history smacks too much of Warhammer to be properly Pony enough.

“But Adam,” you cry out, “Don’t you typically like your Pony fics to be somewhat dark? Don’t you like having other races interact with Ponies and Griffons and stuff?”

And to that, I would typically say “yes”. However, I have standards for both. First, there has to be a proper reason for the fic to be dark, rather than just so it fills the requirements of whatever crossover or some such it might be tackling. I read Fallout Equestria from the perspective of a Fallout story with Ponies, rather than a proper mix of the two. And second, while I can understand there being necessary conflict, the idea of Humankind seizing the lands of Ponydom, and vice versa, without good reason, is a very divisive one.

And mind you, this is coming from a guy who has read not only Fallout Equestria and one of its spin offs, Pink Eyes through to completion, but has also read and written quite a bit of works in The Conversion Bureau setting, and is currently reading Project: Sunflower. I’ve also read World of Ponycraft as well.

To close this part of the book, arguably the best part comes in the crunch, with races such as Antean Ponies (the Goliaths to regular Pony’s Humans), Ghost Ponies, and Sun Ponies (Ponies who are adapted to the desert, and have forsaken their previous destinies in reverence of the Sun). There are also plenty of things on factions, for those who like that kind of stuff. Unless your group is alright with this fluff, feel free to reject this history and substitute your own. You are less likely to piss off your group that way.

Pages 79-105 act as the books Gazetteer, listing people, places, and groups of note, and giving plot hooks for GMs.

Then we have a section on Equine Equipment, which includes saddle racks, striking horseshoes, a modified thieve’s toolkit, as well as magic items like the Elements of Destiny, the Flight Apple, the Helping Hand Pendant (based on a spell in the spell list that creates a hand of force to aid in the use of ranged weapons that need two hands to operate), the charming Queen’s slippers, and the Spectacles of the Brand, which can help divine the meaning of a Brand of Destiny.

Pony Spells are small, but useful. You’ve got the standard “taste the rainbow” attack, a Zebra spell that lets you take the persona of a forebears, a spell that aids grazing to restore health, and so on. Most of them are supportive, with only one that has any truly malign intent.

There’s also flavor traits, like being accustomed to Humanoids and hailing from a certain place.

And lastly, the Bestiary. It’s rather slim pickings, with only a few monsters. What few you have will make good additions to your bestiary nevertheless, like Deeptide ponies (monsterous Sea Ponies of Doom), Gem Knolls (This book’s take on Diamond Dogs), Inevitable Vanguards (Hulking extraplanar defenders of Law and Order), and Unfulfilled, ponies who have passed away before completing a task vital to their destiny, whose spirits possess ponies in order to finish their ghostly business.

So, with all that covered, you may be wondering what my final thoughts are.

Well, from the perspective of Crunch, the book’s nicely laid out. Plenty of races to pick from, some nice additions to existing classes, and nice new archetypes to play with, and some good items to use. From a Fluff perspective, while the descriptions of Pony Society, their Gods, and how they would do certain professions is nice—and there’s enough sun-praising to send Solaire’s codpiece into high orbit—the history is where it falls flat. It smacks of Warhammer by the end, and just doesn’t fit well.

Bottom line, if you want to use this book in your group, unless they are fine with the history, scrap it entirely. The rest of the fluff is worth the price of admission, and if you’ve ever wanted to play as a robotic horse with a blunderbuss in its hoof, you finally have your opportunity. Just be forewarned that bringing this book up will probably raise a few eyebrows.

The book retails for about $25 US, which I think is mainly due to the crisp art on offer. You can find it at DriveThruRPG here, and elsewhere where RPG books are sold online.

As an addendum, if you’d like to check out Legend, the latest edition can be found for free here, and the pony supplement can be found here. I highly recommend it for people who want a nice, streamlined d20 game built off the back of D&D 3.5e.

AdamThePony · 46 views · Report

Comments

#1213939 · 6w, 5d ago · · ·

Follow cuz old member

#1208241 · 7w, 1d ago · · ·

Oh, well thank you for your support. :twilightsmile:

#1180527 · 9w, 2d ago · · ·

>>1180405

:rainbowlaugh:

Nice to hear your thanks, dude. Sorry to hear about your problemas.

#1180405 · 9w, 2d ago · 1 · ·

Thank you for putting a star favorite on my story, Adam. I've been dealing with these backstabbing crooks from the surgicenter (whose awful schemes I should have seen coming) and your attention brightened my day. Your star favorite won't pay their bills, but it surely makes a hefty deposit in the bank vaults of my heart.

(I'm not sure if you are human or horse, Adam the Pony; I will translate the above to the most of my abilities)

Clud clud, hoofscrape, Adam. Tail swish Tail Swish clud-clud clop (snort! snort! snort!) clud-clud sigh. Whinny hoofscrape, Whinny grunt, Whinny nod.

#1127028 · 13w, 4d ago · · ·

Thanks for the watch!  :twilightsmile:

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