The Pleasant Commentator and Review Group! 1,218 members · 156 stories
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Asilin
Group Admin

So…this is an interesting one. We have a crossover of MLP with Ponyfinder, which is itself a crossover of MLP and Pathfinder. And, to top it off, by the guy who created the Ponyfinder system.

I’m not sure how many levels of meta we’re allowed to go before it’s not a crossover anymore.

So I’m not going to sweat and am just going to enjoy the inevitable madness that should come from combining D&D and ponies.


Because I’m not a complete geek or anything…


Commentary


So our premise is that Twilight while trying to work a portal spell she found in an old book has the spell go horribly wrong, sending her and Spike into another world. Okay, fair enough. However, where we have our first major failure is in the initial descriptions of how things are different here. Twilight notices that her body has changed and it’s described thusly:

Looking herself over, she could see that her new form had a lot of bumps, ridges, and other intricacies that her old world had little use for.

This really tells me nothing. What kinds of bumps and ridges? Where are they placed? Are you trying to indicate that she looks more like an Earth horse? Or some sort of hybrid between cartoon and real? This is one of those areas where I’m questioning the crossover label because, unless you’ve gone into great specifics over how the ponies look in your D&D setting, I think most people would assume that they look very similar to the cartoon. This is your world building: build it up.

And…we’re fighting orcs? Ya know, everything I’ve heard about this system has indicated “Pathfinder rules for adventures with ponies”, so I kinda figured you’d be fighting and dealing with stuff that came up in the show rather than the typical D&D palette. Small disappointment there.

And starting to see what feels like head hopping. When it was just Twilight and Spike, the level of detail given for Spike’s POV was understandable: Twilight can see what he sees, and they’ve been together so long that some of his thought process would be known to her. So it doesn’t feel like omniscient/head hopping; it feels like third limited close on Twilight. Here though:

The other rider bore down on the lavender alicorn, driving his spear at her.

We see quite clearly that you’re not in third limited. And you went from Twilight’s action, to this line, right to Spike. And I’ll be honest, I’m confused as to this POV choice. This is Twilight and Spike’s story. Doesn’t matter if your D&D DM would be telling this to two players this way; as a story, we’re mostly concerned about these two. Now, if there’s another major plot line that involves another POV character, I could buy that, but in that case, we should be introduced to that plot line in rather short order, like have another scene after Twilight gets taken by the portal. Then I could buy the omniscient because we’re jumping through multiple story lines with different characters at different times. But when your focusing on a small number of characters in the same plot, why pull so far away?

Beyond that, good fight sequence. Get to see the issues she’s going to have to get used to here.

Twilight’s being sold as a slave, yadda yadda… And your slavers have some of the worst insults.

"Don't be a baby," he mocked, spitting on her prone form before leaving the cage.

LOL! Don’t be a baby? Seriously? You’ve got a Teen rating here. There’s a million other things I could see slavers calling their product, and that’s not one of them. It’s too clean, it’s juvenile, and, frankly, it doesn’t make sense. We say that to people that we see acting younger than they should be for inappropriate reasons. She has every right to be acting out right now. They must be used to this sort of behavior from new merchandise. So why wouldn’t they be throwing out ideas about what her fate/use will be in her new owner’s hands? Or theirs? That would be more threatening, and insulting, than being called a baby right now.

Lots of little errors around your dialogue at the opening of Chapter 4:

"You keep bringing the money," said the biped standing beside him, gesturing greedily with his fingers, "And we'll make it worth coming out to say hello."

Either a period instead of the comma after fingers or the and should be lower case.

"We're leaving. Stand up and follow me." he said

Comma instead of the second period.

He raised a brow at her, "Why should I?"

Period instead of a comma.

Ouch! This is some really rough dialogue and misattributed to boot:

Spike raised a brow, "He was mostly listening from what I saw, though he did a good job of that, uh, I should introduce myself. I am Twilight Sparkle, this is Spike. We're from Equestria."

Just the transition from them talking to trying to introduce themselves. I had to read that several times to get a good feel for it. Plus, Twilight’s talking, not Spike.

And I’m really starting to dislike Dawn Event. Not sure if he’s a cleric or a paladin, but I’m leaning towards the latter. He’s definitely got the whole “stick up my ass” thing going for him that most stereotypical paladins do.

Oh. So he is a cleric. Still coming off like an ass.

Oh God damnit! This whole exchange from whether she should get her horn collar off to her story about Spike’s birth is just pissing me off! I want to punch Dawn at this point. Why isn’t he allowing her any choice? It would be a simple matter to explain that he understands how her magic isn’t reacting well, then explain he could take it off and they deal with the consequences or leave it on and wait for somebody who can train her and let her decide! And why the hell is Spike agreeing with him? Spike would know Twilight to be a quick learner! And why is Dawn making any judgement on her and Spike’s relationship or world anyway? ARGH!

And…we have humans, dwarves, and elves in this setting too? This is starting to sound like a needlessly complicated setting.

And continuing on “reasons I’m disliking Dawn Event”, why didn’t he mention needing to get Twilight clothes? I mean, he’s got armor and such, he’s obviously very well-known in the city they’re showing up at, he should know the standards there, even if those standards differ elsewhere. But I get the feeling they probably don’t. So why the hell wasn’t that addressed where she wouldn’t, you know, be traumatized/embarrassed? Heck, standard adventure package outfit tends to include a cloak. Have him offer it to her!

And more races added to the mix. I’m beginning to wonder how big the Player’s Guide to this playsetting is. Also, you need to keep race capitalization consistent:

That was a Purrsian. They are feline, yes, but they are no more cats than you are an equine. You are a pony, she is a purrsian.

You capitalize it the first time, but not the second. Choose one.

On the one hand, good blend in of their classes. On the other, I’m getting really tired of the exposition. Mostly because it’s all tagged dialogue and it’s beginning to feel mighty repetitive. I’m starting to think that you have 131 chapters because you want to describe everything rather than because that’s how long the story takes.

Holy crap, that’s a large picture. Honestly, this is one of those times where I’d support a hyperlink if you want to show off the original artwork because this feels like a major distraction to your story. Plus, it really feels like you’re including these pictures so you don’t have to do full descriptions.

And…they’re off with a new guide, and I still don’t know what the main conflict is going to be. Y’know, the thing that Twilight’s going to have to help Dawn Event with in order to get home because that’s how these things work. I think I’m going to call it here.


Review


My biggest takeaway from this story is that it seems to be meant to show off the world of Ponyfinder. And show it off it does, in intricate detail.

I should probably mention that I seriously dislike this kind of tale. It’s why I’ve never been able to finish LotR. And it seems to be plaguing a lot of epic fantasies nowadays.

But, ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with showing off your world. We all want to do that as writers, particularly when we’ve put in so much time and effort into the background.

However, even Tolkien knew that he needed a Ring to keep the story moving. I stopped at a little under 12k words, and I don’t know what your “Ring” is. What is the main conflict? What’s going to keep Twilight and Spike moving forward? By the time they reached the city, it really should’ve been broached or brought up soon after arriving. Instead we got three more chapters of exposition and character building.

Further, I question the POV choice. Why are we back in 3rd omniscient? This is Twilight and Spike’s story. Bringing the camera down to them and focusing on their reactions, their thoughts about the world would up the intimacy and even the drama of the story as they have to deal with standards, culture, and natural rules which are not their own. It gives us, the readers, a natural conduit for our own reactions since we’re kind of in the same boat as the main characters: being introduced to a world that is similar but distinctly different from our own.

Beyond that and some minor grammar errors, this story has some amazingly strong world building, even if I don’t think some of the decisions make sense. I can buy into why Twilight and Spike end up there, which is what carried me through as far as I went. I did appreciate the comparisons made between the characters, even if I wished it would wrap up sooner. It felt like a roleplay session, which I could appreciate as a player.

Overall, it’s a decently written story that does have a lot going for it, but really feels like it’s trying to include way too much.


Tips


Tighten the pacing of the story. How important is it to spend a whole chapter in the tailor’s shop? Or show a full day’s travel? While the information presented in those segments is important, those bits could be introduced or summarized elsewhere.

Give us a bone on what the main plot is going to be earlier. We know that the main goal is getting Twilight and Spike home, but that doesn’t equate to what is going to prevent them from doing so or what trails they have to face to do so. Or, you know, what probably really caused them to be there in the first place. Heck, let Dawn Event slip something into all the exposition and “I’m the wise mentor” speech he’s got going on. I’m sure you can find something vague enough to catch our interest without spelling it out if you want.

Also, drop a lot of the saidisms. The characters don’t need to “note”, “explain”, “comment”, “continue”, or the rest. You use a lot of action tagging; let that stand on its own. If you need a dialogue tag, said is perfectly fine: we expect it and thus ignore it. Save the saidisms for particular emphasis.

And watch your punctuation around your dialogue. You use commas and periods interchangeably when they’re not.


Verdict


Overall this story is an interesting way to introduce an audience to a new setting that they might enjoy exploring more in a hands on manner. The pacing could use some work to deliver the meat of the story sooner so we have something to gnaw on while getting the potatoes and cake of the story, but folks who are interested in the Ponyfinder setting will probably get a kick out of this story. So, all in all, I rate it

Enjoyable.

Cut out some of the extraneous information and treat it more like a story than a guided tour, and I would put it in the ranks of the Dragonlance and Magic the Gathering series.

One Day I will get a reviewer to read more than 10% of the story. thank you for reading what you did though, I do appreciate the review.

Inquisitor M
Group Contributor

4272197 Geekery. I may know of this:

That would be me in the front with a mahoosive red robe, back in... 2001? Maybe before that, even.

Karibela
Group Contributor

4272197
4272261
Wait, that was only 10%?

In that case, the name 'review' is a bit misleading. Maybe name it 'first impressions' instead?

Other than that, I enjoyed the review!

4272298 The story is over 250k words long. It goes from Equestria to Everglow to Equestria back to Everglow and then back to Equestria to wrap things up. A lot of things happen.

There's a sequel already posted and growing.

Asilin
Group Admin

4272261
4272298

We're only required to read at least 10k. And, frankly, given the premise, I was set to read more, actually planning to read half before reviewing. However, as I noted in my review, by the seventh chapter and 300 words under 12k, I was bored because there was no plot. No conflict. We were on a guided tour through events that might eventually lead to them getting home, but I don't know. And if you can't at least give me the hints of a plot in 10k words, you've got pacing issues.


4272293

Love it!

4272321 To be... blunt. That sounds like the opposite of 'enjoyable', but then it also, as pointed above, sounds like a first impression and less of a review. First impression: Too Long, Didn't Read.

That is a valid assessment, but it feels weird to get a rating of 'enjoyable' when all the words in the review kind of add together to 'very not enjoyable'.

Does the story have a butt ton of world building? Yes. A lot of people seem to like that, given the amount of people who were quite upset when the story did finally wrap up. It does pick up as it goes, when Twilight stops being helpless and gets her hooves under her, and starts being an adventurer, but it never stops. It's not supposed to stop. That's part of the point, which ultimately comes down to 'Meh, not my kind of story', which is also a valid opinion.

Asilin
Group Admin

4272419

To be... blunt. That sounds like the opposite of 'enjoyable', but then it also, as pointed above, sounds like a first impression and less of a review. First impression: Too Long, Didn't Read.

It also wasn't necessarily a "Needs Work" either. To the right audience, it would be enjoyable, and, honestly, if you fixed the pacing issues, I would boot it to a recommended. I also don't think it's an issue of TL;DR either. The length of your work didn't concern me: I'm an avid reader of epics. What concerned me was going so long without a proper hook. You followed the typical ABC opening (Action, Background, Conflict), but failed to deliver the conflict in a timely fashion.

Does the story have a butt ton of world building? Yes. A lot of people seem to like that, given the amount of people who were quite upset when the story did finally wrap up. It does pick up as it goes, when Twilight stops being helpless and gets her hooves under her, and starts being an adventurer, but it never stops. It's not supposed to stop. That's part of the point, which ultimately comes down to 'Meh, not my kind of story', which is also a valid opinion.

A lot of epics do that too. I specifically pointed to Tolkien for a reason though. He spent a lot of time on world building in his story and included a lot of things that, really, have no bearing to the plot in any way, shape, or form. Yet a lot of people read it and enjoy it and often tell other readers to just skip the extraneous world building (like his poems). Why? Because, to a great extent, his hook is excellent and present from the beginning. Here's an evil dangerous ring! Keep it safe! Ohnoz, it's been discovered! You must get it to safety!

Everything else that follows are complications to that hook, that initial conflict that drives the characters out of safety and into the rest of the world.

Now, you have a good initial hook with the fish out of water story: "We need to get home". But instead of bringing in more conflicts, we stall out on a lot of background and world building. And sure, having a couple of chapters of calm between the orcs and arriving at the city made sense. But then, instead of launching to the next plot point as you arrive at the next major destination we got more character interaction.

I mean, even the hobbits had to face new issues when they arrived new places (as a note, it was the constant poetry that drove me out of LotR; I can't skip it as a reader, but I can't stand it either).

So yeah, if your readers like constant world building and character development with very little plot, then they'll enjoy it. That's why I gave it the rating I did. I don't have to personally enjoy it to recognize intended audience and make a judgement based on that.

4272454 Fair enough. apologies if I came off a bit snippy.

Cromegas_Flare
Group Admin

4272547
It's a fair concern. It sometimes gets to a fine line between 'Needs Work' and 'Enjoyable'

Something we need to think about in the future for a better rating system. However, that can wait as we are still testing changes recently made.

Noted.

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