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My Little RPGGeek: Reviewing is Magic
Shanya Almafeta
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I like My Little Pony. I like roleplaying. These are two great tastes that taste great together. And the Geek has several pony roleplaying games for us to peruse.

( Posted as a Geeklist instead of as a series of reviews to avoid spamming the front page with ZOMG PONY. )
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1. RPG Item: Pony Tales [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked]
Shanya Almafeta
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The Gist
The first of the ponyplaying games, but not the best. Based on the d6 System, improperly licensed under the OGL. It's the shortest of the RPGs at 20 pages, but it does not make up for in brevity what it loses in page count; too many irrelevant rules are copied and pasted from the d6 System SRD, leaving less room for pony. Kind of like if George Lucas directed My Little Pony.

Character Creation
To start, you choose a race and a gender. (Curiously, gender does matter in Pony Tales: it affects your aptitude minimums.) The seven attributes - Muscle, Hardness, Speed, Agility, Smarts, Learning, and Magic - begin with 9d already distributed among them, and a further 9d can be distributed by the player (to a max of 5d).

After aptitudes, you can divide your talents up. Talents may be either mundane or magical; earth ponies can treat non-magical things as magical if it deals with the wilderness, pegasi can learn flight and weather talents, while unicorns can learn 'zap zap'-type magic. Beyond a few examples, though, skills are freeform.

Finally, each pony selects one weakness. The examples given line up with the 'mane six': Brash, Fastidious, Introverted, Random, Stubborn, and Timid. There are no mechanics for their usage.

Resolution
As in the d6 System, all resolution is made by rolling the sum of your attribute and your skill, and comparing the total against a narrator-set seret difficulty number. Modifiers generally change the difficulty (situational, rushing, or range), except for taking extra time, which adds extra dice.

Curiously, there is no 'wild die' mechanic: no critical successes or critical failures, just margins of success and failure.

Theme Support
In Pony Tales, theme support is barely present. The show itself is hardly mentioned in the core rules; the closest thing to the mention of a character is the mention of a 'sun princess' in the size table. There are 46 episodes of examples to draw from - this is unforgivable! It might be said that this was done to comply with the OGL - but the text mentions Equestria by name, and section 15 of the OGL doesn't mention the open game content it draws from. (Nor does the book include the OGL-mandated Declaration of Open Game Content.)

After mentioning 'fighting barely happens', the book proceeds to dedicate 20% of its few pages to the act - including a reference to firing handguns across crowded ballrooms. Well, it certainly would have spiced up the Grand Galloping Gala.

There is a twelve-page supplement, The Magical Land, with the subtitle "Background Information & Speculation;" it's rather light on speculation, and heavy on information, but much of the information does not concern the show exactly. Rather, it tries to pinpoint an exact analogue of Equestrian society to human society. It makes the case that Equestrian society is set in an analogue from the 1860s to the 1880s of human history. The Magical Land says nothing to tell the reader that Equestria is... well, a magical land; a small, sequestered center of culture and morality surrounded by barely-explored wilderness hiding alien horrors.

The is the only RPG that I'm actively going to recommend against playing; the OGL issues need to be addressed. Pony Tales is best for players who are already familiar with the d6 System, yet who want to trot out their ponysonas once in a while for roleplaying. Luckily for us, this isn't the only RPG to use a d6 diepool as its base mechanic.

Curiously
This is the only RPG I've ever seen where Aerial Dreyage (the skill at drawing chariots through the sky) is a standalone skill.

Rating: A hungry parasprite that only looks adorable until you get to know it.

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2. RPG Item: The Savage World of My Little Pony (3rd Edition) [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Shanya Almafeta
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The Gist
A 62-page fan supplement for the Savage Worlds system. Forgive me for not being familiar with the system; reading over it already turned me off on the system. But if it's for pony, then if I must then I must.

Character Creation
Pony breeds in this game slightly affect character creation; Earth Ponies get a bonus attribute point and a free physical edge, Pegasi get Wings but must pay extra for Vigor, and Unicorns get Arcane Background but must pay extra for Strength.

The five attributes - Agility, Smarts, Spirit, Strength, and Vigor - are rated in terms of dice: from d4 (default) to d12. All ponies receive 4 points (5 if Earth Pony) to divide among these attributes, which can increase to a maximum of d12.

After buying up attributes, it's time to buy skills. Ponies (unless young, like the CMC) start with 15 points of skills; one point buys a d4, five points buys a d12, and so on, with a maximum skill of d12. Levels in excess of a related attribute cost double Skills come from a limited list of 18. The list is essentially the same as in Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition, but with a few changes: Persusasion is split into Manners and Speech (which is to expected, considering how many MLP stories are 'class' stories); 'Survival' is renamed 'Nature'; 'Racing' replaces 'Riding', for obvious reasons; and in a move that is both a nod to the fandom and one that I wouldn't mind being copied into other roleplaying games, 'Intimidation' is renamed 'Swagger'.

Characters can take up to three Hindrances: One major, and up to two minor. These points can be used to earn extra attribute points, skill points, or upgrade their wealth rating (which starts at simple 'Spending Money').

Finally, you can take Edges based on the number of Hindrances you took. This is where the Savage World of My Little Pony truly shines. The only other game that has ever given me this much excitement about 'shopping lists' is Jadeclaw. Edges come in several categories (background, physical, leadership, professional, social, weird, wildcard, and heroic), not to mention Unicorn powers and Earth Pony and Pegasus feats. Like Jadeclaw, there are orders of magnitude more edges to buy than you can start with, and they give you a fantastic idea of not only where your character is, but where you want them to go.

Resolution
The weak part of The Savage World of My Little Pony is its resolution system; as the title betrays, it's tied to Savage Worlds. For all tests, you roll your appropriate trait (an Attribute or Skill) and a d6, and take the higher result. The target number for (almost) all rolls is 4. Even completely untrained (where you treat your attribute or skill as d4-2), you have a basic 50% chance of success at whatever you do. It's a remarkably... safe way to do roleplaying.

( Also, your dice explode. Just in case you need to be 20% more redonculous. )

In addition to the usual herd of polyhedrals, your play group needs a deck of playing cards, with jokers. Actions are done in suit order, with jokers being able to go at any time with bonuses (just in case the target number of 4 on d6+dX was too difficult). The biggest fault with this is that online play just became impossible... too bad.

In a relief from the supplement's connection with the Savage Worlds system, the combat system is completely rewritten. Instead of being injured, you become daunted. Daunts affect your Spirit, not your Vigor, but work similarly functionally; they affect your rolls, and you may suffer permanent Daunts from three terrible rules. Curiously, The Savage World of My Little Pony does have character death, after a fashion; after attaining three permanent Daunts, they "give up." No explicit rules are given for Giving Up, but it's taken to mean that you have at most until the end of the session to depart the group - leaving you free to choose from literally giving up, retiring, heroically sacrificing yourself, actually dying from your wounds, or whatever method of "dying" is suitable and suitably dramatic for your story.

Curiously
This is the only RPG I know that has white text on black pages. ( EDIT: That was present in the edition I reviewed, but not in the current edition of the game. I'm ging to be rereading and reupdating. )

Theme Support
In addition to using screenshots from the show, the book is replete with information about the show. The Mane Six all have writeups (for quick play or as the background characters in your groups' stories), and monsters take place. The book goes beyond the show's standard greco-lovecraftian themes and branches out into monsters from faerie stories and Carrol's Wonderland; you might stare down a herd of wendigo one week, then face a jabberwock the next.

Rating: Why, a roleplaying game of this calibre (and tied to such a self-important system) can only be summed up as The Great and Powerful Trixie!

( That's not great and powerful praise. )

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3. RPG Item: Unknown Ponies: the Failure is Awesome RPG [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked]
Shanya Almafeta
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Life isn't easy when you're a blank flank.

The Gist
Unknown Ponies is a constantly-updated brief mini-roleplaying game by a gamer whose first roleplaying game was Unknown Armies. ( No, I don't know who would inflict UA on someone as their first RPG, either. ) This review applies to version 2.5 of Unknown Ponies, which is an 8-page PDF. Notably, it is not about playing any kind of pony: it is only for playing "blank flanks," ponies who have yet to discover their role in life.

God help me, it's the Cutie Mark Crusaders RPG.

Character Creation
All characters start by choosing a race; Unicorn, Pegasus, or Earth Pony. Unicorns get extra Mind as well as magic and telekinesis; Pegasi get extra Speed as well as flight and weather control; Earth Ponies get extra Body as well as skill points. (Sorry, Scootaloo.)

Then, attributes. The four attributes are the classic split: Body, Speed, Mind, and Soul. All attributes start at 40%, before the +10% bonus from your race is applied. From there, you can freely move attribute points around, with a limit in character creation of 30% lower and 70% upper. This section is replete with in-universe examples, from high to low, in a nice touch similar to Star Wars (WotC Original Edition). Of course, the book then goes on to give examples higher than 70% - Big Macintosh with 90% body, Rainbow Dash with 80% speed, Twilight Sparkle has 90% mind, and Derpy has 80% soul - but that just drives home the point that you are playing a filly and even the non-failure-proof "mane six" are better than you.

After attributes come skills. All characters receive certain skills for free at 25% (although they are encouraged to rename skills to better suit characters; filly Fluttershy might have "Flail About" instead of "Struggle", for example). After taking the free skills, characters get a number of skill points to spend on each attributes' skills equal to each attribute; for example, a default pegasus filly with 40% body, 50% speed, 40% mind, and 40% soul would receive 40 points to spend on body skills, 50 points to spend on speed skills, 40 points to spend on mind skills, and 40 points to spend on soul skills. The attributes also act as a limiter, meaning no skill may exceed its attribute - although this only comes into play for Earth ponies.

After choosing skills, you have to choose three triggers - anger, fear, and noble. Your pony's anger trigger makes her roiling mad; her fear trigger makes her cower or flee; her noble trigger makes her stubbornly stand up for what she believes in.

Resolution
Unknown Ponies is a simple percentile system: roll equal to or less than your attribute or skill on d100. Of course, there are a few special rules.

First, if you fail, you gain 1% in the related skill. As everypony knows, Failure is Awesome. (And campaigns are sure to be short with this rule.) In addition, if you roll a natural 00, you suffer a Cutie Mark Critical Failure; an automatic skill failure, compounded by personal breakdown.

Second, the goal of resolution is not to succeed - although success is handy. The goal of resolution is to gain your Cutie Mark - which, for the non-pony fans in the audience, is a mark of your pony's calling and true nature. It does not bind them, but it describes them. At any point after reaching 40% in a skill, when you roll a 01 for that skill, you can declare you've earned your cutie mark. In addition to the perquisite tattoo appearing on your backside, the skill in question becomes an Obsession skill (allowing you to 'flip' the dice, swapping the 10s place for the 1s place), and you can earn a Cutie Mark Critical on any roll of 01 or doubles.

Finally, experience merits its own description.. Experience is not awarded at the end of the adventure, and is not measured in generic points. Instead, experience is awarded onto five tracks: Kindness, Honesty, Generosity, Loyalty, and Humor. A point from each of these five tracks (or five points from any track) can be cashed in for a point on the sixth track, Magic. Points on the magic track can be used to increase Attributes by 1% (and thus raising the cap for what skills can become), can improve a skill roll by one degree of success (Cutie Mark Critical Failure - > Failure - > Success - > Cutie Mark Critical), or to activate a skill that is too difficult or flashy to use otherwise.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
(Twilight Sparkle's time travel or Pinkie Pie's inexplicable teleportation, for example.)


Theme Support
For is restricted theme - a niche subset of an already restricted theme, "My Little Pony" - the PDF's support is fair. It does let you build characters in relation to others, and gives plenty of examples from the show. But at only eight pages - much of which are eaten up by layout woes - there's only so much depth this game can give you.

Curiously
Straight from the author's mouth: "Failure results in learning. Learning is growth. Growth is awesome. Therefore, failure is awesome (eventually)." So, now we have the complete polar opposite of the Savage World roleplaying game. I guess that not even us pony fans can agree on what a pony RPG should work like.

Rating: The Cutie Mark Crusaders just took to the stage and are singing their hearts out. They're terribly off key - but you can't help but sing along.

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4. RPG Item: My Little Pony: Roleplaying is Magic (Season Two Edition) [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Shanya Almafeta
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It's certainly the prettiest of all the RPGs in this batch.

The Gist
The biggest (at 162 pages) and best-illustrated and best-laid out of the five, MLP:RIM probably also has the biggest fanbase, based on googled session reports. Although Roleplaying Is Magic has lots of detail and bar-setting theme support, this does not hide some gaping faults.

Character Creation
Forgive me for being a bit frustrated, I'm trying to review these quickly - and this book is not helping. This book is replete with basic information about roleplaying, sprinkled throughout the book, to help players who have never played a RPG before; it would be helpful if I was using this game to teach new players, and not 't working under a deadline.

Character creation starts with a race: pegasus, unicorn, earth pony, or baby dragon. Each race gets its own page describing its culture, +3 in attribute bonuses spread among the three attributes (ponies get +2 to one and +1 to another, while dragons get +1 to all three), and one special racial ability. None of the abilities quite work like each other; earth ponies get extra experience points, pegasi get special attributes in addition to the base three to describe their ability to fly, unicorns get special rules for weaving aspects into spells, and baby dragons have to choose a draconic heritage and a limited number of draconic special abilities (such as wings or flame breath).

Next comes a pony's guiding element - Kindness, Laughter, Generosity, Honestly, Loyalty, and Magic. This slightly modifies how they use Willpower, but primarily covers how they recover Willpower. (The book credits the World of Darkness as an inspiration, and nowhere is it more notable than here.)

After choosing race, you choose an age category. Equines choose foal (like the CMC and their classmates), filly/colt (like the Mane Six), or mare/stallion; dragons choose hatchling (like Spike) or drake. Each gain their own special talents and a certain number of experience points to spend later in chargen. (Putting dragons in is a curious choice because Spike seems more like a snarky, jokey GMPC than a PC... but as a dragon fan I'll forgive the inclusion of dragons any day of the week.)

After that, equines choose their Special Purpose and Cutie Mark. (Dragons instead have their racial special ability, Dragonheart.) In RIM, these can come in one of six flavors: Goal, Passion, Calling, Conviction, Heritage, or Destiny. For now, all a Special Purpose does is increase the roll of the die by half, although it does come into play later. Mechanics for being a Blank Flank are also listed.

Next come attributes; three primary (Body, Mind, Heart) and four secondary (Energy, Courage, Fortitude, Willpower). You gain three points from your race, and up to three for your age, to spend on your primary attributes.

Secondary attributes are equal to the sum of two or three attributes, and while it's possible to have an attribute of 0, it's not possible to have two 0, so no secondary attribute can be zero. That's important, because secondary attributes are the defenses in this system.

After choosing attributes, you choose up to two Talents. Each talent is tied to an aspect of an attribute, and provides a reroll of the dice in specialized situations. These talents cover the usual attribute descriptions: Strong, Fast, Smart, Creative, Charismatic, and Tireless, among others.

Next comes Jobs. Each pony starts with one Job Point (save Earth Ponies, who get two); each Job Point can buy a new Job at Job Level 1, or increase your Job Level of an existing Job at level 1. (No, there's no Final Fantasy Tactics inspiration in this game.) Jobs are explicitly not tied to any skills, and can be used with any skill that may have been relevant to your skill. Jobs are entirely freeform. Skills are next - and they're entirely freeform, too. Your initial skill points start out equal to your Mind, and can be spent as you see fit.

Although both Jobs and Skills are freeform, a list of canon examples would have been helpful...

Next come the description of each racial ability: The Earth Pony Way, Sky-Bound Soars and Daring Dives, Magic Makes It All Complete, and Know the Hoard.

Flaws come next. Flaws are not mandatory, and flaws offer no recompense; they're just traits you can apply to your pony if you think it suits them. There is a short list of sample flaws, such as Dense, Clumsy, You Are So Random, Low Society, and DO NOT FEAR US (emphasis on the CAPITAL LETTERS).

After all the above, character creation continues with defining your character's style, appearance, and (outwards) personality. Finally, you can choose to spend as much of your initial experience points as you like - or to save them for later. There is no penalty (other than lack of skill) for not spending your experience points right away. These experience points can buy a small number of special abilities (such as The Perfect Pet, Hoof-to-Hoof Combat, or Toast of the Town) or simply to improve general abilities.

Already, I can fit the other four RPGs in the pagecount of this RPG.

Resolution
Resolution can be summed up simply: d20 + relevant Attribute + best relevant Job + relevant Skill. So why does explaining that take from page 74 to page 92?

MLP:FIM is one of the most rules-heavy RPGs I've ever played, and I play GURPS (3rd Edition). There's rules for determining the type of task, and the complexity (target number) of the task. There's rules for being helped out (Harmony bonus); you can spend Willpower to improve a roll; experience points can be used to grant yourself bonuses for a scene; tools come in various qualities and grant bonuses; talents allow rolling dice again or negate automatic failure for rolling a 1; your Special Purpose increases the amount rolled on the die by half the die's result; and we haven't even gone into racial special abilities.

A natural roll of 1 is an automatic failure (unless you have a talent), and a natural roll of 20 is an automatic success (and restores any resources spent on the roll; Willpower, etc.).

And this all is described in maximum verbosity. The prose is so purple it almost blends in with the purple background of the page.

The three kinds of damage (damage, fatigue, and horror) are dealt to three different pools: Fortitude, Energy, and Courage. If any of these pools are emptied, the character is "sidelined".

After about 100 pages of character generation heavily interspersed with chargen advice and setting information, I'll be honest... I'm a bit disappointed to find "d20+bonus, roll high" as the mechanic behind all this wonder. Then again, that familiarity might be part of this RPG's popularity.

Experience Points are earned in the post-session Letter to Celestia. Curiously, experience points are earned by the character, but given out to the group as a whole; for each scene of 'honest' character development that comes about in the letter, the group earns one experience point. The listed rate - 'about' one experience point per major plot point - means that most characters will earn one experience point per session, and earning no experience points in a session is distinctly possible. These points can be used to recover Willpower, to buy advancements, or to buy scene-long bonuses.

Theme Support
Time for a drink from the firehose... the pink pony firehose ... of cupcakes. Okay, scratch that metaphor, but let's just say that this is where this game distinctly shines.

Throughout the book - through chargen, resolution, and the GM's section - there is information on how an episode of MLP plays out. Many sections have headings which are quotes from the show (or at least fan memes), and the book is replete with game design and show trivia callouts. The book includes almost as much information about Equestria as a wiki would, in a format that's far more pleasant to read.

Curiously
This roleplaying game has the gall to call itself "rules light" and to call traditional roleplaying games 'complex'. As against that, I present the following quotes of what this "rules light" roleplaying game looks like:

Quote:
"When a character uses their second wind, they choose the Secondary Attribute which has been diminished to zero, and restore a number of points to it equal to their score in the lower of the two Primary Attributes which determines its maximum score."

"Eleventh, if your character’s Special Purpose applies to the task (or if they are a Blank Flank and have chosen to use their special ability on the task), they gain a bonus to the check result equal to half the bonus granted by the d20 roll, rounded up."

"When a character whose Guiding Element of Harmony is Honesty uses their ‘second wind’ to recover from being sidelined, or spends Willpower to inspire another character to recover from being sidelined, if they are restoring their own (or the other character’s) Courage, they restore an amount equal to the character’s Mind or Heart score, whichever is higher."

"To subsume their instinctual power and restore their conscious will, a character may, once per play session, choose to ‘sacrifice’ a number of Dragonheart Points to restore their Willpower. Each Dragonheart Point sacrificed in this way is lost, and restores one point of Willpower (up to the character’s maximum). However, the instinctual will of a dragon can never be entirely suppressed; a character cannot use this sacrificing of points to reduce their total number of Dragonheart Points below the number of their Heart attribute score."
Just because you don't spend your complexity in the traditional rules-heavy areas - combat, treasure, loot, magical spells - doesn't mean your roleplaying game is not rules-heavy.

Rating: A box of delicious triple-chocolate cupcakes from Sugarcube Corner, rich and sweet and dark and crumbling with moisture on the tongue - but one of them is a chocolate-and-habanero cupcake accidentally thrown into the box.

Link (mlprim.com)
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5. RPG: Ponies & Parasprites [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Shanya Almafeta
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The Gist
Split up into lots of small support books, Ponies & Parasprites has playtesting where it doesn't have formatting. It is a simple d6 die pool system, reminiscent of KwaiTana, but it has influences from Maid: The Role-Playing Game.

And I'm in a campaign of this, and have the most experience with this system - which is why I left it for last , because writing five reviews has taken half past FOREVER OH GOD WHY DID I START THIS

Character Creation
First, PnP has the three basic races of the setting. Earth Ponies get extra Body, bonus skill points, and the racial ability Tough as Nails; Pegasi get extra Heart and the racial abilities Flight and Cloudwalk; Unicorns get extra Mind and the racial abilities Magic and Telekinesis.

After choosing your starting race, you choose an age: Colts/Fillies, Ponies (when defining age, somewhere between teenagers and young adults) and Mares/Stallions. Naturally, older ponies have more Attributes and Skills. Each also gains one ability that allows them to use their Love (a metagame mechanic) in active ways. ( Unlike FIM, the mane six are considered Ponies, not Colts/Fillies. )

Next are attributes. In a damning error, it is not stated that you start with one dot in each attribute; this is evident by the character sheets, and implied in one of the examples, but never outright stated in the rules themselves. After your free dot from your race and your free dot in each attribute, you get three, five, or seven (based on age) dots to divide among the three attributes, with a maximum of five dots in any ability.

Next, you choose a Cutie Mark and corresponding Special Talent. Rolls aligned with your Cutie Mark can explode, allowing 6s to generate bonus dice. (Most other modifiers are in terms of dice added or subtrated from your dice pool.)

Your Love score - which combines health, stamina, self-confidence, luck, and a general measure of how your day is going - starts at 1.

Next are the ten skills - Academics, Acrobatics, Animal Kin, Athletics, Awareness, Crafting, Diplomacy, Medicine, Performance, Sneaking, and Linguistics. Save for Linguistics, all are rated in terms of dots, and have the same limit of five dots. You spend from 5 to 15 dice (based, once again, in terms of age; multiplied by 1.5 if Earth Pony) on these ten skills. Two of these skills earn specializations; at least one of these has to be related to your Cutie Mark, if you have it. Specializations are free-form, but examples are provided.

After these, you choose a single freeform 'perk' and a single freeform 'flaw'; here, they are called "I am good at:" and "I am bad at:" They can align to an attribute or skill, but don't have to; in my PnP game, for example, my pony Sparkler has the "I am bad at" of "not spending money," based on a scene in the opening session where she downed cider with one hoof and threw money away with another.

You can choose to have one signature possession, which grants a small bonus, although you don't need to make it something you carry along with you. (Twilight's signature possession would be her library, and Rarity her obsessively-perfected workshop.) Anything else you can just grab from home as is needed (the joy of domestic roleplaying).

Resolution
PnP resolution is a d6 die pool system: add together the dots from your attribute and your relevant skill, and beat a secret target number set by the Pony In Charge (PIC). Add your Love score (positive or negative) to the total. If you double the target number, you earn a critical success; if you roll half the target number, you earn a critical failure. Thus, Love not only increases your basic success rate, but it sharply modifies how many critical failures or successes you earn. Besides your Special Talent and Love, all modifiers - specialization, help, all modifiers are modified in terms of dice.

Each age gets one way to modify their rolls with their Love. Colts and fillies have Unlimited Potential, and get to double their Love (or upgrade it to positive) for one roll per session. Ponies get Hero-Type, and may upgrade a number of dice equal to their Love to a 6 (which cannot explode, not being 'natural' 6s). Mares and stallions get Been There, Done That, and can add to their roll a number of dice equal to 1 plus their current Love (which can explode, if they come up 6) if they can justify their modification by remembering something from their childhood. These are supposed to be in reverse order, where Colts and Fillies have the greatest freeform modification of results while mares and stallions have the least - but doesn't it seem like it's in reverse order, with Mares and Stallions getting the biggest bonus and the best resistance to Love damage?

Speaking of - let's talk Love. Simply put, it's one of the most interesting mechanics in any roleplaying game I've ever read. Instead of a hit point track, Love is what goes up and down in this game. As it goes up, your character has the best day ever; they succeed at everything, get along with everyone, and their successes are more critically so. When it goes down, they get more critical failures, get irritable with everyone, and generally become more discorded versions of their normal selves.

And best of all, love stacks. When performing tests as a group, everyone's love is added to the total. This also suits the setting well. When Nightmare Moon attacked, everyone coming through the tainted Luna's attacks having reaffirmed their values and their identities would have bolsted their Love so high that, when acting as a unified group against a single target, they were unstoppable. Similarly, when Discord attacked and twisted everyone into a dark mirror image of themselves, everyone's Love was so low that not even the single unaffected pony, Twilight Sparkle, could get anything done until she got away from the group and had time to clear her head. ( Of course, in our group of 20, that would have given us a base of +20 to all rolls... luckily we had enough GMs to split the group. )

This isn't a setting where damage kills you - no, you're not that lucky. In PnP, Love damage darkens you, twists you. To others, it turns you into something you're not, but to you, you know better: it turns you into something you're afraid of being, someone who you keep in the deepest furthest reaches of your mind. Twilight, the calm and studious one, becomes a manipulative witch who isn't afraid to use infectious mind-control magic to get her way. Fluttershy, normally so calm and self-effacting, becomes a self-centered, snide jerk. Pinkie Pie, the effervescent party animal who loves to bring joy to others, becomes a violent and reclusive shut-in with a slight issues telling who she is and who her characters are. The Love mechanic is dark and twisted and absolutely bucking brilliant and they can do so much with it.

A more 'traditional' damage system, exhaustion, is included. Exhaustion can be Physical, Mental, or Emotional; each point of exhaustion reduces its relevant attribute by one dot, to a minimum of 0. When your exhaustion equals an attribute, you will pass out at the end of the scene but can attempt rolls based on skills alone; when you have more exhaustion than an attribute, you pass out immediately. (Notably, exhaustion only reduces attributes to 0; they do not reduce skills, your special talent bonus, the bonus from any help you receive, or the bonus you get from your current Love.)

Some simple magic rules are included; unicorns can cast Spells (freeform magic, based on their cutie mark) or Rituals (complex magic, based on research). Frankly... these rules are too complex for too little return. A total of 18 spells, half of which are banned from new ponies learning, just isn't enough.

Curiously, combat rules are not included in the basic rules! Even in the expansion, they're little more than a contest of skills, with the note that engaging in combat always results in at least one point of exhasusion, win or lose.

Theme Support
Okay, getting off my love for Love...

Although the book is full of examples (most using background characters from the show), most of the theme support comes from the later Ponies & Parasprites Bestiary and Expanded Content RPG items. Most importantly - the book includes a sample play session and sample adventure (based on the Nightmare Moon episode).

Finally, with the Expanded Content guide, this book goes further than the others into exploring the rapidly expanding world of fanon.

Curiously
This game actually has rules for different languages - Cry (griffin), Draconic (the 'old tongue' in this setting), Nuban (zebra), and The Voice of Thunder (buffalo)

Rating: A heartfelt crayon drawing posted on Cherilee's refrigerator; where it lacks in skill, it makes up in heart and care in its creation.

Link (Facebook)
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6. RPG Item: Laser Ponies [Average Rating:7.33 Unranked]
Shanya Almafeta
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Summon up your inner eleven-year-old, we're going wumpus hunting!

I got shown this item after I had submitted the original five. And how can I resist an invitation to review a pony roleplaying game?

The Gist
Not based on My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic, Laser Ponies is a commercial product inspired by 80s animation and the original generations of MLP - Generation 1 in particular.

However, as a pastiche of several 80s cartoons, Laser Ponies is the roleplaying game of merchandisably pastel ponies who shoot rainbow lasers out of their eyes.

Character Creation
Notably, this is the first pony RPG I've reviewed to use random character creation. It's a little hard to follow, because chargen is split between the 'Qik Start Rules' (pages 18-24) and the supplement's rules (pages 11-13).

To start with, you choose an Age (Foal, Yearling, Filly/Colt, Stallion/Mare, Elder), a gender, and your filly's coat and mane. Most characters start out as fillies or colts, but there are few mechanical descriptions.

Next, you roll 1d20 six times, halve the result, and add 6 to the result to get six scores in the range of 6 to 16. (The rules never say how you round that roll, but considering the range of scores it lists, I'd assume fractions are dropped.)

After, you assign your six scores to your six "Words" (QAGS' term for what most RPGs call Traits). Three are attributes: Body, Brain, and Nerve. Two are 'Gimmicks', or special powers: one is freeform, and one is the gimmick universal to all Laser Ponies, "Shoot Lasers." Your last Word is your Job - also freeform.

Despite the names, Attributes are the typical mind, body, soul split seen often in three-stat RPGs. Only one provides a mechanical bonus outside of checks: your Health Points are equal to your Body.

Your Job is what you do in the lands of Glitter Valley. Although completely freeform, some sample jobs are included; these include Beautician, Chef, Lookout, and Storyteller.

You start with two Gimmicks. The freeform Gimmick can be any of your choice, and are much more powerful than in Friendship is Magic; the list of sample Gimmicks includes Amazing Speed, Flying, Prophetic Dreams, and Walk through Walls.

Next, you choose a Weakness; it, effectively, is a trait that works against you, and that activates if you 'pass' its test. Your weakness starts out "equal to [your] Gimmick score" - but which gimmick, the rules don't say; the Qik start rules are written for one gimmick alone. I'd imagine that your weakness is tied to your discretionary gimmick, for what sort of Laser Pony would be punished for being too good at lasers? The list of sample Weaknesses tends towards the silly, and includes Cranky, Excitable, Prophetic Dreams (again!) and Smelly.

After choosing a Weakness, you choose Skills. Skills are, again, freeform abilities, rated in bonuses. The book contradicts itself here; characters either get three skills (rated at +3, +2, and +1) or two skills (rated at +3 and +1). I'd tend towards the former, even if the sample characters use the latter. Skills are freeform, and the sample list includes both the starkly utilitarian (Crack Shot, Dodge, Magic) and the fantastically frou-frou (Babysitting, Braiding, Bow Tying, Ribbon Tying). In Glitter Valley, fashion is serious business.

Finally, you choose a Tag Line (the sample characters include "I don't want to watch these dumb kids! I want to fight!" and "I sense great danger ahead") and roll for Yum Yums - which function both as bonus points to spend on character rolls and in-game snacks. (True MLP fans will have to resist the urge to use muffins, as then your Yum Yum pool will get very large.)

The Laser Ponies section says you ignore "Who Would Play Him/Her In The Movie," as in normal QAGS, but I think they missed the chance to add the word 'Voice' in there and make it about voice actors. Just... beware any player who chose the voice of Tara Strong.

Resolution
Since this is a game about laser ponies, there's more emphasis placed on combat than in any other pony RPG (save Pony Tales). The basic resolution system is d20 rollunder - a system which has faded in time, but one of my personal favorites.

First, if your Weakness applies, you have to test that. If the Weakness succeeds (the die came up equal to or less than your Weakness trait), it overpowers you and you likely fail.

Next, you determine which Word (a Job or a Gimmick) applies, and add all relevant Skills to the total. Most modifiers, if applicable, are added to this roll. Finally, if two or more Words are applicable, you get a Second Chance: you try to succeed with the best Word, then you try with your second best Word. (Having three or more Words that apply doesn't mean you get Third Chances, Fourth Chances, etc.) A natural 20 is an automatic failure, but a natural 1 is not an automatic success. If you succeed, your Degree of Success is the number on the die; if you fail, your Degree of Success is the amount you went over the target number.

If a task requires training (GM's discretion) and you don't have it (also GM's discretion), your target number is half a relevant attribute, and you do not get to take a Second Chance. All in all, QAGS is a very forgiving system.

Yum Yums, this system's combination plot-modification-points and tasty-gametime-snack, can be used in several ways: an automatic success, rerolls, improving degrees of success, automatically succeeding on weakness rolls, increasing outgoing damage or reducing incoming damage, bending reality. And, of course, you can eat them. Yum Yums are also usable in normal QAGS games for character improvement, but that's considered beyond the scope of Laser Ponies. (Obviously, Hex Games has never heard of iteratively upgrading a toy in order to rerelease it and get collector sales.)

Combat is a factor in the Glitter Valley setting - being surrounded by bears, the minions of the Chasm Queen, the lizards of the Red Plains, and all other sorts of foes are present in the land of Panagonia. By default, attacks are mutual, but only the winner scores damage. The winner's margin of success, minus the loser's margin of success (or 0 if the loser failed), plus the pony's damage bonus (based on age) determines the damage done, and a character dies if they reach 0 Health Points. (On average, two attacks is risky, and four attacks is lethal to one of the involved parties. Then again, the giant monsters in the book may not be 'average' combatants...)

Finally, four our more ponies working together (to cross the streams) can, once per session, call on Pony Power. The pony with the best Gimmick Power rolls to hit, and all damage modifiers are included in one roll, for a ravening blast of friendship and magic.

Theme Support
Per the small GM's section, "A Laser Ponies game should feel like the most awesome Saturday morning cartoon never made." It goes on to describe the feel of the cartoon that later came out... but Laser Ponies doesn't have fifty episodes, playsets, trading cards and blind bags chock full of to draw upon. Luckily, Laser Ponies has just enough space to build its own world, illustrated by a six-year-old girl for added child-approvedness (sort of the inverse of Axe Cop).

Laser Ponies is set in the world of Panagonia, in which Glitter Valley is surrouned by lands of adventure: the Evergreen Forest, the Craggy Mountains, the Chasm and the madness which spews from it, the Red Plains and the Haunted Castle on the far edge, and the Rainbow Falls. The world is big enough to have undiscovered secrets but small enough to be explorable - the longest distance given is "three days' gallop." The Laser Ponies, themselves, are the descendants of the Solar Stallions, ponies created by the sun goddess (sound familiar?), having given up the ability to race amongst the stars in order to protect the sacred spark of life on Panagonia.

There are several other races around, and while the Laser Ponies are at peace with many races (the squirrel, the badger, the beaver and mole), they have uneasy relations with others (the bear, the wolves, the lizards and the glorps), and the ponies are currently in a "peace" with the Chasm Queen and her hordes of unique monsters after a Great Monster War.

Some of the story of the setting is told as a history, other parts are told as legend... and frankly, I want more. Leighton Connor is a talented writer, and I could stand to see a lot more about this world.

It's not Equestria. And it's tied to QAGS - and not well; the editing and layout really needs to be a step higher. But the theme support is where the spark resides in this game.

Curiously
Laser Ponies includes a random 'adventure' generator, where you roll an A-plot and a B-plot; the A-plot is cutesy and personality-driven, while the B-plot is metaplot and action-driven. I'll roll one up now, getting 3 and 10 on two rolls of 1d20: "When the Ponies decide to put on a talent show, a Pony discovers an ancient magical artifact that the Chasm Queen wants for herself." Bam! Instant eighties cartoon plot.

Rating: A VHS recording starting with a wicked 80s guitar riff, set over an 80s technicolor toy-friendly cartoon wonderland - where the tracking has gone off with age, and the poorly timed dubbing become all too visible.

Link (rpgnow.com)
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7. RPG Item: Player's Handbook (Pony Tales: Aspirations of Harmony) [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Shanya Almafeta
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The Gist
This 30-page RPG (with additional design notes in non-paginated callouts) combines My Little Pony with elements of console-style roleplaying, especially japanese console roleplaying game. Filly Fantasy, perhaps?

This RPG was originally loosely based on the webcomic Friendship is Dragons.

Character Creation
Character creation is simple, based on spending points. Despite the influences, there are no hardset classes per se.

There are four attributes, based on the classic four-stat split; Athletics, Body, Knowledge, and Horse Sense. (The latter is a combination of perception and social skills, and is the 'soul' stat of the classic four-stat split.) Each stat starts at 5, and you can divide 8 points any way you like among the four stats, to a maximum of 10.

Each attribute is tied into two or three Skills: Athletics to Stunts and Endurance; Precision to Stealth, Mechanics, and Acrobatics; Knowledge to Arcana, History, and Heal; and Horse Sense to Perception, Persuasion, and Streetwise. You may choose two of these to be considered trained; you get a +3 bonus to use these skills.

After your skills, you choose a Cutie Mark, and one skill related to your cutie mark. This skill receives an additional +5 (which can stack with the bonus from training), and also upgrades criticals; normal critical successes are upgraded to Cutie Mark Criticals, which "makes normal Critical Successes look tame by comparison."

Now, you choose your race. The classic three races are the three races present. Earth Ponies get Naturally Skilled (granting two specialization bonuses of +5 to two different areas of interest), Friend In Deed (able to provide greater bonuses when aiding another), and Epic Pwny (criticals on 19 and 20). Pegasi gain Flight and Weather-Crafting. Unicorns gain Ponykinesis and - in an unusual turn, not magic (since the game's other influence means that 'wizards and sorcerers' are possible) - but Finishing School (granting one free utility talent later in chargen).

Two 'advanced' races are included: Griffon and Changeling. Instead of gaining cutie marks, non-pony races gain a third skill. Griffons are Sisters of the Sky (they can fly and take non-weather-shaping pegasi talents), are Half Lion (gain bonsues to Persuastion to intimidate), and are - as Gilda might say - All Awesome (and can turn one critical failure per day into a critical success). Changelings can shapeshift and can - at increased cost - take utility talents from any race.

Next, you can choose up to five Utility Talents, whether from the generic pool or from the pool of traits unique to your race. Some of these traits are positive and negative ('Derp' increases the critical failure range to 1-3 instead of just 1, but provides a bonus Magic Point per day), some are outright magical (The Stare, which allows you to spend a Magic point to buff a Persuasion check after you have rolled it), and some are outright silly ('Fracture The Fourth Wall' means that for the next ten minutes of real time, the GM cannot bug you for using playing knowledge as character knowledge).

A pony's Element comes next. (No word on whether or not griffons or changelings get elements.) Each of the main six elements gets one special talent that can be used once per session at the cost of a Magic point. Ponies with the Generosity talent 'A Beautiful Heart', for example, can provide +15 to an ally's skill check; the Kindness talent 'Sharing Kindness' can immediately make one hostile creature non-hostile; the Laughter talent 'Tons of Fun' allows you one roll on the Tons of Fun table (directly inspried by AD&D's Rod of Wonder); et al.

Now, you get to choose eight Combat Talents; each talent is rated in terms of power points it provides or costs. Mundane attacks (such as Stab) grant power points, while incredible abilities (such as Chain Lightning) cost power points. (The mechanism is obviously inspired by the Planeswalker cards of Magic: The Gathering.) Upon looking at the categories, the inspiration is obvious: all combat talents are categorized as Ardent, Cleric, Paladin, Psion, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock, Warlord, or Wizard. And there's an expansion out there offering even more combat talents.

Finally, first-level ponies go to the Combat chapter to choose one Special Move from a limited list.

All ponies start with 30 hit points and 1 magic point.

Resolution
Being based on classic fantasy, it's no surprise that resolution is based on classic fantasy roleplaying; here, the d20 System. Resolution is attribute + training or Cutie Mark bonuses + 1d20 versus a secret target number, with the target numbers also being similar to the d20 System's benchmarks.

Combat is a curious mix of classic consoles and Dungeons & Dragons; as a stated goal is "to be able to be able to be played over Skype voice-chatting without confusion," it eschews many of the things that require physical collocation (tactical battle maps, range). These people should get together with the designers of Super Console.

As such, this is an extremely minimalist system. That's not to say it's simple; the complexity in combat comes from the dozens of combat talents and the many ways they can interact. Many abilities include special tags such as 'weakened', 'resist X', 'X ongoing damage', and other such Your 'stance' can only include 5 of your learned 8 abilities each battle. Theoretically, choosing a 'stance' before each battle could add a tactical element to each fight - but from the descriptions of the various combat talents, I get the feeling it'll just slow down the rate your ponies turn their foes into non-ponylike sashimi.

There is no rolling to hit - only rolling to damage. Critical hits happen whenever you roll the higest number on a d8, d10, or d12 for damage; the larger the die, the better the critical hit. Critical hits are rated as special effects; players of Jadeclaw will be slightly familiar with the effects; however, instead of each ability having its own critical hit, all players choose one 'Special Ability' in character creation. For example, a character who chooses Knight's Justice as their critical path will be able to taunt monsters when they critically hit on a d8, prevent two allies from being attacked when they critically hit on a d10, and halve all damage one ally takes on a critical hit on a d12.

A system for levelling up is mentioned as something "to be implemented in next edition."

Theme Support
The weakest part of this game is its theme support. I'm not talking in the mechanics; the mechanics have interesting ways to implement details about both Equestria and Coneria alike. The problem is that although you can see how the game supports the themes in a superficial level, this mixture is such an eclectic mix that it's hard to follow along with the GMs and see how the game is to be played.

The Ponyhandler's Guide - ugh, sorry, time out. Really, 'Ponyhandler'. I swear, sooner or later some pony RPG is going to refer to their GM as the Horse Whisperer. Moving on...

Although the mechanics in the Player's Handbook are obviously suited for both the primary influences on this game, The Ponyhandler's Guide is where the bulk of the genre support comes from. Unfortunately, it's fairly weak. When it comes to combat, the support is plentiful; a small selection of monsters and guidelines for properly pacing combat are included. So that covers the fantasy side of our Filly Fantasy roleplaying game.

On the filly side, though... the game is fairly lacking. There's a few pages on how to expand 'normal' roleplaying adventure hooks into more postive and Saturday-morning-friendly equestrian adventures, but the book spends too much time on worked examples and not nearly enough time on how-tos. (This is the reason I haven't volunteered to GM in my PnP game, incidentally.)

It's incomplete - but I'm rating it as such. Mechanically, they have the bones of a good RPG; with their light heart and their active development community, they have the heart. Let's hope they finish fleshing it out.

Curiously
The layout of the document - with frequent callouts 'hovering' over the text, something you can only see when viewing this doucment in Google Docs - make this hard to submit. Do the design notes count as part of the pagecount, or not? (I'm assuming not, for now.)

Rating: With notable influences from D&D 4th edition, Jadeclaw, Final Fantasy, and My Little Pony, I can only describe this gaming gumbo as - Discord.

Link (forumotion.com)
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8. RPG Item: Don't Rest Your Hooves [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Shanya Almafeta
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I'm afraid this is going to be less detailed of a review than most of mine. You see, Don't Rest Your Head is a commercial RPG I don't own, and I can't find a copy for cheap. So, I have to rely on reviews of the base game - and I can't judge it for quality.

Play the Pony RPG drinking game with me! Every time I discover a new terrible equine pun in a pony RPG, take a shot.

The Gist
Don't Rest Your Hooves is a game of psychological survival horror with ponies.

Character Creation
As this is not an adventure game - you are not meant to overcome tasks, and you are not (encouraged) to survive - there are no attributes, no skills, no powers, no calculated scores. Yeah; it's a horror game. Character creation, instead, is descriptive. Most of the stages of character creation come by answering questions.

"My Name Is..." is straightforwards enough; most names are beautiful, or silly, or punny. Or two out of three. "And I Am..." invites you to describe your pony's physical description in broad brushes, to include (at a minimum) race, gender, and whether or not they have a cutie mark (if so, what it is and what it means).

"Why Am I Not Happy?" is where this game takes a left turn at Albuquerque. In Don't Rest Your Hooves, your peaceful idyllic Equestrian life has been shattered by some terrible realization. Perhaps it's world shattering ("Why are we all here?") or paranoid ("If Celestia died, would her sun from our sky and leave us all to die cold and alone?"). The sample character, Sugar Bottom (groan), has a much simpler, yet darker, reason to not be happy: "I'm too manipulative, using and upsetting the people around me."

In short, your unhappiness is why you're a Pony Character (PC), and not yet 'Nother Pony in the Crowds (NPC). Yes - those are the actual backronyms used in this game.

"How Did I Realize This?" asks you to expound on this key kernel of discontent. It was the event that keyed you off to what is wrong with the world - or yourself. For the sample character, it was a day she spent faking illness so her friends would fawn over her - except that she became actually sick of herself by the end.

"What's On The Surface" and "What Lies Beneath" are similarly tied up. One is your style, panache, and outwards personality; one are the elements of your personality that you keep suppressed, whether for propriety's sake or for your own good. Similarly to the Love mechanic in PnP, this game isn't about becoming a monster, it's about avoiding becoming something you don't want to be.

"My Dream Is To..." gives the Stablemaster (what this game calls the narrator) something to move your character. It might be a personal change (Sugar Bottom still ugh wants to no longer feel terrible about her manipulativeness), a huge change in where you are (becoming royalty), or a change in the way you live your life (no longer hiding behind dusty old books).

"When you get upset" is one of the only three decisions in character creation tied to game mechanics. You have to spread three marks between two choices: Active or Passive. (It's easy to see how the Mane Six line theirs up.)

Their "Spark" is the virtue that best defines what motivates them. The game suggests that it be one of the Elements of Harmony... but their sample character's Spark is Leadership.

Finally, each characters has a power that stems from their Cutie Mark. This power can be just about anything: the sample character has Mind Control.

Resolution
I wish I could tell you. Fan supplement for a game I don't own, remember? But I'll try.

Basic resolution, as in the base game, has two aspects: who succeeds and who has narrative control. Low numbers help net successes, but high numbers determine who has narrative control. More dice helps both... but in this game, all the methods of getting extra dice come at a risk.

The key game mechanic in this game is not Exhaustion, as it seems to be in core DRYH - it's Spark. Spark is a blessing and a curse. Spark is how much of your guiding Element (loyalty, honesty, laughter, kindness, generosity, magic) is shining through for your character. The higher your Spark goes, the more dice you can roll - but the more and more 'stereotypical' you become. The problem with the Elements is that you can be consumed by them, straightjacketed into a perfect pony archetype. Let your Spark pool reach six and you've become just a 'Nother Pony in the Crowd: a happy-go-lucky NPC who doesn't know why they were so unhappy just a moment ago. Just another Stepford Smiler.

Your Cutie Mark power nets you up to six dice, to be used at *any* time, for narrative control. The tone of the resolution, however, can cause your six Cutie Mark dice to start replacing your three Friendship dice. Contrary to what it sounds like, this is not 'levelling up' your character. Lose all your Friendship dice, and you become not only just 'Nother Pony in the Crowd, but an actual antagonist - you've just destroyed your friendships and your dreams irrevocably. (Kinda like what happened with Gilda (volume warning).)

The remaining mechanics are based on... candy. (Better call Bon Bon.) The game calls for two types: one for Chaos Candy, and one for Harmony Candy. The Stablemaster gets a Chaos Candy whenever a test resolves with a Discord (i.e., the Stablemaster wins narrative control, regardless of who wins in the test). Chaos Candy can remove 6s from dice pools, making it easier for the Stablemaster to gain narrative control. Chaos Candy, once spent, becomes a piece of Harmony Candy to be used by the players to add 1s to their dice pools.

Theme Support
This is the last thing I expected to write once I started writing this review, especially since I don't have enough rules to play the game yet, but... I think this is a good fit.

While My Little Pony has adventurous 'bookends' at the end of each season, the bulk of the show is based around overcoming personal problems - with the help of your friends. Don't Rest Your Hooves suits this style of roleplaying: exploring a characters' inner virtues and flaws, hopes and dreams. Certainly, it's campaign-unfriendly, as there are several kinds of Mandatory Failure Modes­­™; even a basic skill test can launch you headfirst right out of the story. (Even if you're just rolling to make a rose petal salad. Guess the dressing really was tricky.) However, this lends the game an element of the same drama we get when watching the show. MLP subverts just enough of the tropes of childhood animation that you are kept on your toes; there's a certain element of tenseness, a hope for characters that may never be met or a sudden appreciation for a character that had never been considered serious. Although I think there have to be better mechanics than 'roll a saving throw against becoming an NPC', it certainly means that there's an element of actual drama to it.

Mandatory Failure Modes are unacceptable in most roleplaying games. But, as a one-shot low-mechanics con game, where you dive headfirst into a character's head, it's fine for sending a group of players through a whistlestop tour of Equestria in sixty minutes.

Curiously
I used the words psychological survival horror with ponies and I would love to play this game.

First Unknown Armies, now Don't Rest Your Head... perhaps Dogs In The Vineyard or Deadlands is next?

Rating: A night of scary ghost stories told in a closed-down library.

Link (... or not)
Right now, being a fan made labor of love that has been iteratively upgraded by several different authors since its original post as a joke on 4chan, there is no 'official' copy (even though there are session reports out there). What is considered the best, most complete and up-to-date version of Don't Rest Your Hooves is right now hosted on a very not-safe-for-work website. If you're interested, please DDG it.
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