[My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

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[My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Alzrius » Sun Apr 23, 2017 3:17 am

Role-playing games are, at their core, something you do with friends. Whether people you’ve just met, or a group that you’ve known for years, sitting down around the game table is fundamentally an activity that’s about friendship. So wouldn’t it make sense for the actual game-play to be about friendship as well? Of course, that’d require something different from the usual fare of “killing monsters and taking their stuff.” It’d need to be something like…

My Little Pony: Tails of Equestria: The Storytelling Game.

Based on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Tails of Equestria (and no, that’s not a typo; it’s “Tails”) is the official tabletop RPG adaptation of the TV show. Created by River Horse Games and distributed in the US and Canada by Shinobi 7, the main (or should I say “mane”?) rulebook is a 152-page full-color hardback. Retailing for $34.95, it’s reasonably priced for what’s being offered.

There are several things to be said about the book before we start looking at the RPG system itself. The first being that this book is COLORFUL! This isn’t so much due to the full-color interior artwork as it is just how much of it there is to be found; I believe there’s only a single page (the first page of the index) that doesn’t have a picture or illustration on it somewhere. Other than that, every single page has a screenshot, drawing, picture, or other artwork on it. More than that, there are numerous instances of one- and two-page full spreads throughout the book as well; each of the book’s twelve chapters, and the adventure and appendix, have a two-page spread opening them, which comes out to almost 20% of the book right there. That’s before looking at the rest of the book’s artwork. If you were to look at a text-only version of this product, I suspect that it would be literally half as many pages as the finished book.

The other thing that needs to be explicitly noted is that this book is meant not only for younger gamers, but those with no experience with tabletop role-playing games. That might be expected, given the target demographic of the source material, but it’s worth repeating. Indeed, the expected “what’s a ‘role-playing game’?” blurb is actually on the back cover! Moreover, the book’s writing is very simplistic, and clearly meant to be approachable by younger readers. While it never talks down to you, it also is making a clear-cut effort to be as unintimidating as it possibly can. (On that note, it flat-out states that it’s using “storytelling game” as a synonym for “role-playing game,” which are fighting words in some parts of the RPG community.)

The book also takes a moment to moment to mention other Tails of Equestria products (e.g. dice, character sheets, etc.), doing so first in the book’s introduction and then again at the end, but I can’t find it in myself to be cynical about this. That’s because the book also goes out of its way to suggest free alternatives to these. For example, it not only says that you can find dice-rolling programs online, but offers “dice charts” – full-page charts with random numbers that you can point to randomly in lieu of rolling dice – in the appendix. Similarly, there’s a blank character sheet in the back of the book as well. So the book is making an effort to be playable right out of the metaphorical box.

So with all of that said, what’s the actual RPG like?

All PCs play as one of the three main kinds of ponies: unicorns, pegasi, or earth ponies (in fact, “PC” stands for “pony character” here). Alicorns – ponies that blend all three types – are mentioned, the book flat-out says that you can’t play an alicorn character. Needless to say, I’m sure that house rules to allow for this are being implemented even now.

The central aspect of characters are traits and talents. Traits are essentially ability scores; Body, Mind, and Charm. Talents, by contrast, are skills, being things like Keen Knowledge: History or Fly (if you’re a pegasus). Each race includes one talent for free (such as the aforementioned Fly for pegasi). Each trait and talent is measured in terms of the die size associated with it. So your earth pony PC might start out with Body d8, Mind d4, and Charm d6 for your traits, with Stout Heart d6 and Special Skill: Running d6 for your talents.

These dice showcase one of the core aspects of the game rules: there are no numerical modifiers to dice rolls. To be clear, you can modify your rolls, but only with regard to the size and/or number of dice used. In the latter case, you always pick the die with the best result; the only time you add or subtract anything is with regards to your character’s other main mechanic: stamina points, which are essentially hit points by another name.

Most of the other aspects of characters are largely non-mechanical in nature. You pick which Element of Harmony (the game’s six principle virtues: Kindness, Laughter, Generosity, Loyalty, Honesty, and Magic) your character most closely aligns to, but this is purely as a role-playing guideline. Quirks, the inverse of talents, are likewise not measured with dice rolls. Instead, when a quirk comes up and you voluntarily allow it to impede your character’s efficacy, you’re rewarded with a token of friendship.

Tokens of friendship are a meta-mechanic that allow characters to affect dice rolls, or alternatively to change minor aspects of the setting. You start with a limited number of them, but can gain more in various ways (such as by role-playing quirks, as noted above). The game lays out the basic manner by which tokens can be used, and how many tokens are required for certain actions, but makes sure to leave this open to GM adjudication. Wisely, this is framed in reference to the GM being encouraged to lower the total cost of tokens for certain effects if multiple PCs contribute them, serving to incentivize the cooperative aspect that this book is predicated upon.

At the end of each adventure, characters gain a level. This isn’t tracked by any sort of point mechanic; completing an adventure is worth one level, period. Leveling allows you to buy larger dice for some of your traits and talents, though the game implies – but doesn’t outrightly state – that this tops out at a d20 (given that some of the example creatures have multiple dice for certain traits, there’s an obvious house rule of allowing you to buy a second die at a d4 after your first one hits a d20). You can also purchase new talents (or new quirks, if you’re so inclined), which always come in at a d4.

Your trait and talent dice are put into play for one of two different types of rolls: tests (where you’re rolling to try and equal or exceed a static number) and challenges (where making an opposed roll; this is where you’ll find the combat rules). The thing to note is that you can usually – but not always – roll your dice for the most-relevant trait AND roll the die for an applicable talent, keeping the better result. More notably, there are several sub-rules given for these rolls as well. For example, rolling double or more versus a target number (or an opponent’s score) allows for a critical hi-, er, amazing success, or what happens if several characters work together (which, in a friendship-focused game, naturally provides notable advantages).

I should note that the combat rules – called “scuffles” here – are set up in such a way that most fights probably won’t last long. Basically, each opponent makes a Body challenge (with a combat-relevant talent, if any) and the one with the higher roll subtracts the TOTAL value of that roll from their opponent’s stamina points. Given that your total stamina points are the maximum value of your Body and Mind dice, that means that characters will only be able to take a couple of hits before being defeated (though characters who run out of stamina don’t die; rather, they lose consciousness, run away, admit defeat, etc.). That certainly fits the theme of the show, where combat is only rarely used, but if you want fights to last longer, consider having the loser’s die roll subtracted from the winner’s die roll to determine how many stamina points are lost.

There’s a basic equipment list in the book, and some quick rules for how much money characters have/earn. This section felt odd, if for no other reason than equipping for their adventures isn’t something that’s done very often by the characters in the TV show. Given that having the proper equipment can bump up the die used on a relevant roll to the next-larger one, PCs will almost certainly be looking to purchase goods that they think might be useful in the near future. Though I have to note that, for fans of the show, the list of prices for various goods is a godsend; finally something hard-and-fast with regards to how much things cost!

The book’s introductory adventure is entitled “The Pet Predicament.” It sees the PCs being called up by the Mane Six to look after their pets while they go investigate a new threat to Equestria. Naturally, the pets don’t take very well to their new keepers, and a search-and-rescue mission ensues when they all wander off and get into trouble. Despite the low-stakes nature of the adventure, it does a fairly good job laying out the game rules, and has several call-outs to aspects of the show built into it (e.g. a meeting with Zecora). Of course, it ends with a sudden cliffhanger that just so happens to lead into the next adventure (sold separately).

More noteworthy is that this is where we get stats for creatures and NPCs. While all of the creatures used in the adventure are given game mechanics, it’s more noteworthy that this is where we get stats for the Mane Six, and even Zecora to boot! Of course, there’s a bit of an irony in that Spike (and the pets) remain without stats, given that Spike and co. are typically overlooked to the point of it being a minor trope in the series anyway. A few generic stat blocks for background ponies wrap this section up.

Overall, I only noticed a few production issues with the book, such as two instances where there wasn’t a space between words. More hilariously, the table of contents listed chapter five as being “Traits & Shamans” when the chapter itself correctly listed it as being about “Traits & Stamina.” So it looks like we’ll need to wait until a future book to have more shaman characters besides our resident zebra! (I’m also convinced that Twilight not having the Stout Heart is an error as well, since it’s the racial talent for earth ponies, which as an alicorn she should have.) But overall, there aren’t really any errors here.

I’d say that the book’s biggest issue is that it doesn’t have very much in the way of help for GMs. While there’s plenty of advice as to how to be a good role-player, coming up with adventures is an area that it doesn’t really cover. This is somewhat understandable, as adventures are likely to focus around social, puzzle, and even athletic challenges, rather than combat per se. Moreover, they’re going to need to be at least somewhat tailored for each group, depending on the talents that the PCs are bringing to the table. A group of all pegasi is going to be very different from a mixed group. Although these are areas that the book can’t readily address, I still feel like it should have said something about them, even if only to acknowledge them in overview.

Despite this, Tails of Equestria is a great game for bringing young people into the hobby, though this is predicated on them already being fans of the show. The mechanics are light and easy to grasp, and the book’s presentation means that it’s actually not that difficult for younger gamers to pick up and start using on their own. Likewise, older members of the RPG community will likely have reason to appreciate the RPG engine that the game runs on, though the book’s focus on introductory presentation will be somewhat wasted on them.

If you’re a fan of ponies and slinging dice, I definitely recommend checking out Tails of Equestria.
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Big Mac » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:43 pm

Nice review Alzrius.

I'll probably be sticking with Spelljammer, but am curious about one thing. How useful would this book be to someone who has not watched the MLP series? Does it explain how the world works? Are there maps and details about what goes on in parts of the world?
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Alzrius » Tue Apr 25, 2017 1:00 am

Big Mac wrote:Nice review Alzrius.

I'll probably be sticking with Spelljammer, but am curious about one thing. How useful would this book be to someone who has not watched the MLP series? Does it explain how the world works? Are there maps and details about what goes on in parts of the world?


In all honesty, this book would only be of limited use insofar as familiarizing someone with MLP:FiM goes. That's because the book assumes that potential players already have a high degree of familiarity with the world and how it works; indeed, the book is essentially banking on that to draw in new players. While it does offer basic overviews of the three main types of ponies, gives very brief summaries of the six main characters, and has a map of the setting, the more salient details of the world aren't really touched upon. This book will tell you (in a very offhanded manner) that Princess Celestia and Princess Luna are the highest authorities, for example, but it won't mention that they actually move the sun and the moon around, respectively. It barely mentions that pegasi have to manually create the weather, and doesn't mention at all that Tartarus is a prison for numerous dangerous monsters, or that changelings were once a major threat to Equestria (but have since reformed; though I suspect the reformation episodes happened after the book's writing was finished), etc.

To be fair, the series is far more concerned about being entertaining than with being consistent, and so most world-building has to be gleaned from the bits and pieces that are given out across the breadth of the series. But what's there is, to my mind, a very interesting setting that's quite different from the usual fantasy fare, even if it is intended for kids. But insofar as trying to create a cohesive whole goes, this book is not at all concerned with doing that. It's taking it for granted that you already know the show, and any tidbits it lets slip are purely incidental.
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Big Mac » Tue May 02, 2017 12:15 pm

Alzrius wrote:To be fair, the series is far more concerned about being entertaining than with being consistent, and so most world-building has to be gleaned from the bits and pieces that are given out across the breadth of the series. But what's there is, to my mind, a very interesting setting that's quite different from the usual fantasy fare, even if it is intended for kids. But insofar as trying to create a cohesive whole goes, this book is not at all concerned with doing that. It's taking it for granted that you already know the show, and any tidbits it lets slip are purely incidental.


I'll be interested to see if it connects well with it's target audience and if they go along with the vague stuff or if they complain about not having enough information.

I suppose that if the RPG does well, they can always add additional supplements that give more detail. Although I would guess they would be equally unconventional.
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Angel Tarragon » Tue May 02, 2017 9:16 pm

I have a friend that is really int MLP and would love this game, if it were consistent with canon already established by the season of the show so far. :roll:

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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Alzrius » Wed May 03, 2017 4:03 pm

Angel Tarragon wrote:I have a friend that is really int MLP and would love this game, if it were consistent with canon already established by the season of the show so far. :roll:


I want to reiterate, this book is entirely consistent with the canon; what I was saying - with regard to Big Mac's question - is that this book simply doesn't go out of its way to present much in the way of setting information, since it assumes that anyone opening the covers already knows about the world and how it works. It does talk about the setting and characters somewhat, but most of that is incidental, save for things like a brief recap of the six main characters, etc.

As for what season it deals with, it briefly mentions (and, I believe, has at least one screenshot of) Flurry Heart, so it's at least as far along as the beginning of the sixth season (we're currently four episodes into the seventh season, as of right now).
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Angel Tarragon » Wed May 03, 2017 6:23 pm

Alzrius wrote:
Angel Tarragon wrote:I have a friend that is really int MLP and would love this game, if it were consistent with canon already established by the season of the show so far. :roll:


I want to reiterate, this book is entirely consistent with the canon; what I was saying - with regard to Big Mac's question - is that this book simply doesn't go out of its way to present much in the way of setting information, since it assumes that anyone opening the covers already knows about the world and how it works. It does talk about the setting and characters somewhat, but most of that is incidental, save for things like a brief recap of the six main characters, etc.

As for what season it deals with, it briefly mentions (and, I believe, has at least one screenshot of) Flurry Heart, so it's at least as far along as the beginning of the sixth season (we're currently four episodes into the seventh season, as of right now).
Ah, okay. My mistake.
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Big Mac » Thu May 04, 2017 12:37 pm

Alzrius wrote:I want to reiterate, this book is entirely consistent with the canon; what I was saying - with regard to Big Mac's question - is that this book simply doesn't go out of its way to present much in the way of setting information, since it assumes that anyone opening the covers already knows about the world and how it works. It does talk about the setting and characters somewhat, but most of that is incidental, save for things like a brief recap of the six main characters, etc.


Thanks for clarifying that. Sorry if I introduced any confusion to anyone. :)

If they wanted to make a companion, with more setting information, do you think that a book of similar size would do the job?

Do you know of any follow up books that are planned?
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Alzrius » Thu May 04, 2017 6:23 pm

Big Mac wrote:If they wanted to make a companion, with more setting information, do you think that a book of similar size would do the job?


That's a difficult question to answer, simply because I think that any such book would have a very difficult time being made in the first place.

The underlying issue is that the source material (that is, the show itself) is - as noted previously - primarily concerned with being entertaining, rather than presenting a holistically-designed world that follows internal logic and self-consistency. This doesn't mean that it ignores those things, but that they're simply not very high up on its priority list, and so because of this the salient details that go into world-building get ignored left and right.

The best place to see an example of this is when trying to establish relative distances and measure how far apart major settlements are. When Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie go to Griffonstone in The Lost Treasure of Griffonstone, for example, we're not told anything about how long of a trip that is. We just get a scene of them talking about it beforehand, then a brief scene of them on a train, and then their arrival. We don't know if they needed to spend a few hours to get there, or a few days or even weeks. There is an official map of Equestria (which puts Griffonstone on what looks like another continent), but it has no scale given. The previous version of that map (where the western coast has a different shape) out-and-out said that it wasn't to scale.

It's not hard to understand why the show chose to gloss over the trip like that. The episode was about the adventure the two had in Griffonstone, not about the logistical elements of getting there or how either of them dealt with travel-related issues, so it wasn't important for the show to give us any of those details. Worse, giving too many details means that there's more for the audience to pin the show's writers down with, as they'd notice if they accidentally give conflicting information later. By contrast, building a campaign setting, where players are going to want to explore details so as to better explore the world (and exploit whatever they can so as to better face the challenges they come up against), requires details like that. As such, overlooking them can be very difficult unless everyone agrees to not sweat the small stuff virtually all of the time...and if you're going that far, then you don't really need a book of setting details to begin with anyway.

Another example is the cost of goods and services, of which we have only a few examples that aren't very helpful. We see Fluttershy try to buy a cherry for two bits (the bit being the Equestrian unit of currency) in Putting Your Hoof Down, but in Call of the Cutie Apple Bloom demands four bits for an entire bag of apples. (You might make a case that cherries are extremely rare, but in The Last Roundup we see Cherry Jubilee has a cherry ranch that processes lots of them in Dodge Junction, which doesn't seem that far away from Ponyville, where Fluttershy lives.) There's a reason why I noted that the price list in the Tails of Equestria book was such a big deal.

What this means is that, even for someone who's watched every episode, has a copy of the official map, etc. there are still massive gaps in what would otherwise be considered basic knowledge for a tabletop game world. Presuming that they couldn't just start making stuff up to fill that all in, that would make for a rather awkward time trying to make a setting book with any real detail. I suspect that any such attempt wouldn't be a very long book at all.

Do you know of any follow up books that are planned?


There are several. :)

It's not a book, but there are official Tokens of Friendship plastic crystals to act as counters for the mechanic laid out in the core rulebook. Unfortunately, they're not very good. To quote a comment I made on another forum:

Alzrius wrote:The actual plastic gems are smaller than the pictures make them appear. In the photos I saw, the looked like they were somewhat larger than standard marbles; in fact they're about half that size shown. Also, the "collector's bag" that it comes with is rather poorly designed; the drawstring has no catch or seal on it, so the bag sort of falls open unless you re-knot it when you draw the bag, which is a pain.

The real irony is that the box that the product came in was actually quite a bit nicer than the one in the picture. That one looks like a flimsy cardboard box, complete with a hole-punched tab so that it can hang from a store rack. In fact, the box that I got was not only made out of sturdy cardboard, but was a two-piece model, where the top and bottom were separate pieces, the former sitting snugly over the latter, all with no hole-punched tab on them. It was rather classy, which made the sub-par nature of the actual product all the more disappointing.

If you want to represent Tokens of Friendship during a Tails of Equestria game, save your money and use flattened marbles or pennies or even pieces of candy. The official Tokens aren't something I can recommend in good conscience.


Also releasing very soon (and already out in some parts of the world) is The Curse of the Statuettes Expansion Pack, which is a boxed set with an adventure (picking up where the adventure in the core rulebook leaves off), GM's screen, character sheets, and (I think) polyhedral dice. The character sheets are notable because they'll have ones where the area for drawing a picture of your PC will have template images of a pony (six different types, for male and female pegasi, earth ponies, and unicorns) that you can draw the mane, tail, and cutie mark (and other accoutrements) on.

The adventure will have your characters looking for the Mane Six (i.e. the six main characters from the show) after they don't return from investigating the latest threat to Equestria, where ponies are randomly turning into statuettes for varying durations. (Fun fact: this is a staple of the lead game designer's home games. He would always have his PCs tick off a god or something at the start of a campaign, who'd curse the PCs to become statuettes at random times for random durations. This was actually an in-game mechanic for when someone couldn't make it to game night - that way, they'd have an excuse for why their character suddenly wasn't there anymore; they'd turned into a statuette! That this ties in nicely to pony figurines seems to be a coincidence, since none are being explicitly tied to this product line that I've heard.)

There will also be dice sets sold separately, each set coming in a case that has a theme: unicorn, pegasus, or earth pony. Notably, each such set will include a mini-adventure.

Later on, we'll also get the Bestiary of Equestria. In addition to having numerous monsters and creatures from the series, this will also have PC rules for non-pony characters! So far we've been told that this will let you play griffons, (presumably young) dragons, and even (probably post-redemption) changelings!

I'm given to understand that the Bestiary will be out next quarter (i.e. Q3 2017), and that after that we'll get at least one product every quarter going forward.
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Alzrius » Mon May 08, 2017 7:54 pm

River Horse Games have just announced the name of the next Tails of Equestria adventure in their email newsletter: Festival of Lights, "a story of delving and of darkness."

A sneak preview will be available at the UK Games Expo, June 2nd - 4th.
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Alzrius » Mon May 22, 2017 8:24 pm

Ahead of the upcoming UK Games Expo, River Horse Games has released a free mini-adventure for Tails of Equestria!

This two-page adventure is a scene (two scenes, actually) that can be interjected into any larger adventure. Its title is The Gift Horse, and you can download it for free over here. As a note, their newsletter strongly implied that this would be the format of the mini-adventures released with the upcoming dice sets.
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Alzrius » Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:45 pm

The Curse of the Statuettes has just been released in North America! It's $25.95 - though the website I linked to only has a 2-day shipping option, which costs a whopping $14.50 - and includes dice, character sheets, and a GM screen in addition to the adventure itself. I've already ordered my copy, so I'll be sure to post a review once it arrives.
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Alzrius » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:12 pm

It's taken me too long to get around to this, due to a combination of the two-day shipping needing five days, and a sudden illness on my part, but I've finally received and read through The Curse of the Statuettes. What follows is my take on it:

The Curse of the Statuettes calls itself an "adventure pack," and it's not hard to see why. Although it's entirely possible to get a Tails of Equestria game up and running with no more than what's in the main rulebook, this set contains both the accessories (i.e. a set of dice, a GM's screen, and a pad of character sheets) that are staples of an RPG session and a 48-page adventure. While the adventure is the main thrust of what's here, I want to cover the other aspects of the pack in turn.

I was quite pleased to see that Curse is a true boxed set. Contained in two slide-together pieces of high-grade cardboard, this is something that's become all too rare in contemporary RPGs. Rather oddly, the boxed set is just tall enough to be noticeable compared to others of its ilk; most (that I have, at least) are 9 inches by 11.5 inches or thereabouts. This one is 9 x 13 inches. That seems slightly unnecessary when you take into account that the interior has a supplementary piece of cardboard acting as a cradle for the book, pad of character sheets, and GM's screen. Wouldn't it have been easier just to make a shorter box?

The dice are a standard set of RPG polyhedrals, being a D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, and D20. Take note that there's no percentile-D10 here, since Tails of Equestria makes no use of one. While it's barely worth mentioning, the six dice are contained in a small ziplock bag, which might make it easier to store them for younger gamers who don't have their own dicebag yet. Amusingly enough, the dice are color-coded to match the listing of the different dice in the Tails of Equestria rulebook. This isn't a coincidence, as that book notes that River Horse Games (who made Tails of Equestria) color-codes the dice in ALL of their games, and is apparently given over to using that instead of the "D-number" notation that gamers prefer (e.g. they'll say "the blue die" instead of "d20"). The irony, of course, is that they DON'T do that in Tails of Equestria, saying "D20" instead. But I digress...

The GM's screen is a three-panel piece that's quite wide, but not very tall. The outer faces show the Mane Six (i.e. Twilight Sparkle and friends) standing in front of the magical map of Equestria in her castle. On the inside, the center panel reproduces the (current) official map of Equestria, whereas the left and right panels reprint salient information from the core rulebook. On the left you'll find the rules regarding test DCs, the rules for critical successes and fumbles, and the rules regarding tokens of friendship. The right panel has the equipment list and stats for generic earth ponies, pegasi, and unicorns.

The pony character sheets are a single pad containing 40 sheets in total; five copies of eight different sheets. Calling them "different" needs an explanation. Most of the sheets have pre-drawn outlines of mare and stallion versions of each of the three pony types, which you can expand upon by coloring them in. There are also sheets whose character pictures have been left completely blank. Although it can be easy to overlook, each sheet is outlined in either blue or brown, with the former being for females and the latter being for males. That makes it rather awkward to have blank pictures for both males and females (i.e. there's a blue-outlined sheet with a blank picture, and a brown-outlined sheet with a blank picture), but there you are.

Finally, we come to the actual adventure for which the boxed set is named. The Curse of the Statuettes is, like the rest of the set, a fairly high-production item. Despite being only 48 pages in length, it's a perfect-bound booklet, and each page is laminated. This was probably a necessity due to the book being so art-heavy. While it doesn't quite live up to the core rulebook's having artwork on every single page, it comes close: this book is heavily illustrated (though, ironically, virtually none of these are deliberately designed to be shown to the players). Even the text is set against a sand-colored background.

Curse picks up where the core rulebook's intro-adventure, The Pet Predicament, left off: Spike has just rushed in to meet the PCs and begged them for help: the Mane Six, who were investigating a new threat to Equestria, have been captured! (I find it amusing that the Mane Six had stats given in the core rulebook, despite having almost no screen time in its adventure, whereas Spike appears in both adventures and receives stats in neither; it's just too apropos.) The PCs need to retrace their hoofsteps and figure out not only what happened to them, but how to solve the mystery that they were investigating.

The format of the adventure is meant to be very friendly to new GMs, to the point where it almost feels as if it's acting like an on-site coach. This isn't just due to the overview and preparation advice it gives, but in how it makes sure to use bold for things such as character names, tests and challenges, things that cause Stamina damage, etc. But the most notable aspect is the writing itself: most RPG adventures are written in a very "as-is" format, telling you what's there and leaving it at that, while others take a "if they do this, then this happens" approach. By contrast, whenever Curse presents a location or scenario, the writing comes across more like inspirational notes and salient reminders for an improv set. While it does talk about consequences to the PCs actions, the presentation is given in a way that is quite clearly trying to be evocative, inspiring the GM so that they'll in turn paint a vivid picture for the PCs. That's how I read it, at least.

The course of the adventure sits comfortably between a railroad and a sandbox. The setup presumes that the PCs grab the initial hook, after which they're largely expected to follow the trail of breadcrumbs that's laid out for them, though they have a middle segment where they can choose what order to follow them in. (To my delight, there was even a random encounter table at once point!) The book walks a tightrope with trying to tie itself into the source material without getting entangled by it, and does a good job as the PCs peel back the layers of the mystery. Most of the character tasks in this are focused around overcoming obstacles and challenges, with major threats being something you run away from rather than defeat (though there's at least one fight where you have to win, rather than escape). There are also a few scenes that have scripted endings regardless of what the PCs do, mostly with regards to the villain making early appearances as foreshadowing. Of course, the end of the adventure resolves the immediate threat, while still leaving a new mystery beckoning...

I have to take a moment to note the one thing this adventure doesn't do, which left me scratching my head. The entire idea of a "curse that turns you into a figurine at random times for random durations" was originally the idea of Tails of Equestria's lead designer (and editor for Curse), who always had - in whatever RPG he ran - that happen to the PCs at the start of a new campaign. The idea was that allowed for an in-game explanation for what happened when someone couldn't make it to game night. It's a creative idea, and it works very well here...except the book never once tells you to actually put that idea into practice! Obviously, you can connect the dots yourself, but I'm still surprised that it wasn't ever explicitly stated in the text.

Still, that aside, what's here is a very solid expansion pack for the Tails of Equestria RPG. Between the accessories and the adventure, this really helps to get a new game off the ground, and it as much of an introduction for the GM as it is for the players. It's a great product, and I'd definitely recommend it to fans of the game.
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Giorgio » Sat Jul 01, 2017 11:35 pm

Thanks for the reviews and information. :)
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Alzrius » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:40 pm

So River Horse just put up a preview for the Tails of Equestria dice sets.

To recap: these are three different sets of dice, each containing a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20. Each set is themed around one of the three types of ponies (earth ponies, pegasi, or unicorns), with each set also including a mini-adventure.

The preview doesn't add much new information, though we do get pictures. From what I can tell, the cases that the dice come in are metal (I think), and that suggests that they'll rest in a foam insert. We're also shown that the mini-adventure is folded so that it can fit into the case, which seems to confirm the idea that these are one- or two-page scenarios, similar to the mini-adventure they recently released on their website.

The other bit of new information is that, in addition to the dice being color-coded to match the usual River Horse Games presentation (mentioned in my review of Curse of the Statuettes), they're also in a different style depending on the set: the earth pony set has marble dice, the unicorn set has glitter dice, and the pegasus set has gem dice. Picture of the dice are shown in the preview.

The blurb is given below:

Take a look at the upcoming Dice Sets for Tails of Equestria: The Storytelling Game!

There are three sets to choose from: one for Earth Ponies, one for Unicorns, and one for Pegasi. You can collect a different set of dice to use for different pony characters!

Each set contains six roleplaying dice from D4 to D20, colour-coded as referenced in the Tails of Equestria core rulebook, and each with a different style. Also included in each set is a unique Mini-Adventure, perfect for including as part of a longer story, or as a standalone short session!

Don’t forget to follow the Official Tails of Equestria Facebook page to see what’s coming up!
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Alzrius » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:49 pm

So I just received an email from River Horse indicating that the three dice sets are now available. While they don't seem to be up at the Soda Pop Miniatures page yet, that will probably change soon. Moreover, the notification reminded me that I wanted to review the dice sets here, having picked them up at Gen Con.

As I'd previously speculated, each set comes in a metal container. To my surprise, the cover of these containers isn't hinged; rather, it simply fits atop the container and can be completely removed. More notably, there isn't any sort of lip or catch around the container itself to keep the lid in place. For the most part, this isn't a big deal, as the lids fit rather snugly, but that's not a guarantee. Of the three dice sets, I can turn two of them upside-down without anything spilling out, but the third one's cover would immediately fall off if I tried that.

The inside of each container wasn't quite as nice as I was expecting/hoping it would be. I'd thought that there'd be a foam insert, possibly with individual areas for each die. Instead, the containers all have a hard plastic interior with a single recess in the center where all the dice are meant to go. The dice themselves are sealed within a small ziplock bag. As noted before, each set has dice in a different style; marble dice for the earth pony set, gem dice for the pegasus set, and glitter dice for the unicorn set. What that means is that the marble dice are solid with subtle streaks and whorls through them, the gem dice are translucent, and the glitter dice have small, sparkly particles in them. The dice themselves are all color-coded as per the Tails of Equestria rulebook.

Finally, each set comes with a two-page adventure, printed on both sides of a single sheet that's been folded down to fit into the container. While none of these adventures are long enough to be a scenario unto themselves (the text suggests dropping them into an existing adventure), they have rewards of both a tangible variety and a chance to earn new tokens of friendship depending on how the PCs conduct themselves. Interestingly, each adventure is lightly (though not exclusively) themed around the type of pony on the tin. So the pegasus adventure "Flying High" is primarily focused around pegasus ponies, whereas earth ponies fit in best with the earth pony dice set adventure "One Good Turn Deserves Another," etc. These are nice little inclusions, and probably the main reason to pick up the dice sets if you already have sufficient dice to play (though really, who ever has enough dice?).
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Re: [My Little Pony] Tails of Equestria

Postby Alzrius » Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:08 am

The latest email update from River Horse arrived yesterday to announce the release of Tails of Equestria's second full-length adventure, The Festival of Lights! The website's product page is now taking orders (though ordering from that site only works for customers outside of North America), and lists a price of $17.57.

Interestingly, the email provides a bit more information than what's on the product page:

Something moves in the deep dark beneath Equestria...

A brand new full adventure for Tails of Equestria, The Festival of Lights is available now!
It can be used to follow on from your adventures with The Curse of the Statuettes, or to start a new series of adventures!

In The Festival of Lights you will delve deep into the Umber Depths, a vast system of caves and tunnels that stretches beneath Equestria. The city of Umberfoal has been lost and forgotten for a thousand years--until now. The city now wakes, its denizens lost and confused, in great need of help...

...but Umberfoal isn't the only thing that now wakes in the dark.

Descending deeper and deeper, a sinister threat lies in wait. Always in the shadows, it plots and schemes, poised to strike at just the right moment.

The moment is coming. The Festival of Lights must be held. The fate of Umberfoal, and perhaps all Equestria depends on it!

A classic RPG dungeon-delve experience comes to Tails of Equestria!

In The Festival of Lights you'll find new monsters, maps, and magic items that keep the action intense and the adventure unpredictable. Experience Equestria like never before!


There were also two previews in the email, the first one being a map of the city of Umberfoal, and the second being for some new monsters (presumably met in the adventure):

Image

Image

Hopefully the North American release will follow soon!
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