Official Races in the Ability System

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Official Races in the Ability System

Post  Philadelphus on Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:17 am

With the introduction of the abilities system for Pony Tales and Living Legends we pretty much demolished the last traces of race-specific abilities, as any character of any race or species can take any ability given the right flavor. Some people were uncomfortable with this change, and I understand the feeling; it's a feeling that a pegasus should have the ability to fly, a unicorn ought to be able to move things around with telekinesis, etc.. Too much freedom in character design can be a little unnerving.

With this mind, I wrote up some official racial templates for Pony Tales a few weeks ago that I unfortunately forgot to post in the interim. They're ready for forum feedback, however, so now that I've been reminded here they are. (Living Legends races will be coming in the same format as soon as I get time.)

Racial Templates for Pony Tales

These take a different form than the original racial templates with racial traits and utility talents. This is because each character is balanced to every other character, so we can be a little more free with the recommendations for each race. I've settled on two type of abilities: core abilities, and suggested abilities. Core abilities are those things that it makes sense for a particular creature to have, like a pegasus being able to fly. These are the things we recommend characters of that race have, as they're things that it would generally make sense for a creature of that particular species or race be able to do. You don't have to take them if you want to play a character whose flavor doesn't fit with them; for instance, you could play as a pegasus whose wings don't allow them to fly if you wanted to (like Scootaloo), as long as it fits with the character's flavor and backstory.

Suggested abilities are just that: suggestions for things to take for new players or if you get stuck. They're things that aren't quite core abilities, but that would make sense for a creature of a particular race or species to have.

I've tried to keep the core abilities for each race to a minimum in point cost, because these will be the things most characters will taking, so keeping their cost down allows more freedom in other aspects of character growth. Anyway, take a look and tell me what you think.

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Re: Official Races in the Ability System

Post  ZamuelNow on Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:31 am

Lumping zebra and crystal ponies in with earth ponies feels kinda weird. I get why it was done so I won't suggest splitting them but just noting that. Earth ponies do wind up in a weird spot since while their official ability among the three pony races is "grow plants", it doesn't show up all that much. I want to suggest Nature's Touch be a core ability but don't think it gets presented enough for that. I will say that Freaky Knowledge should be in the core or suggested list, especially since zebra are part of that grouping as well.

Diamond dogs should have Call Out as a suggested ability.

Ahuitzotl should probably have Mook as a suggested ability.

You may or may not want to make a special section mentioning alicorns. Personally, I feel the "correct" way to make one is to not be level one but for players who want to make one in earnest may want suggestions along with extra discussion for players and GMs.

G4 style Breezies could potentially be a new race option.
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Re: Official Races in the Ability System

Post  Crystalite on Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:35 pm

I think we could benefit from one of these for Living Legends as well.
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Re: Official Races in the Ability System

Post  Philadelphus on Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:09 pm

That's next on my list of things to do.  Smile

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Re: Official Races in the Ability System

Post  Stairc -Dan Felder on Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:11 pm

Good points Z. I think a section addressing the Alicorns-in-the-room is a good idea. Perhaps not even providing a template for them, because that implies they're an easily playable option, but at least a section addressing that it's possible to make an alicorn character concept with the rules but such things should be talked over extensively with a DM to make sure it fits into the setting (and that most alicorns probably shouldn't be level 1 in any case, unless there's extraordinary story reasons).

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Re: Official Races in the Ability System

Post  mjh6 on Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:37 pm

Honestly, given how becoming an Alicorn worked for Twilight, it sounds more like a destiny than anything.
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Re: Official Races in the Ability System

Post  Crystalite on Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:18 pm

True. But you can get the "basics" of Alicorn-hood with default Abilities.

Perhaps what we need is a more generic "demi-god" Destiny. I'll start a thread for it.
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Re: Official Races in the Ability System

Post  Philadelphus on Tue Apr 01, 2014 5:41 am

ZamuelNow wrote:Lumping zebra and crystal ponies in with earth ponies feels kinda weird.  I get why it was done so I won't suggest splitting them but just noting that.  Earth ponies do wind up in a weird spot since while their official ability among the three pony races is "grow plants", it doesn't show up all that much.  I want to suggest Nature's Touch be a core ability but don't think it gets presented enough for that.  I will say that Freaky Knowledge should be in the core or suggested list, especially since zebra are part of that grouping as well.
Freaky Knowledge definitely makes sense there. I too think lumping them feels slightly odd, but we have so very little to go on with crystal ponies and zebras. I'm not averse to potentially splitting them up if we can come up with sufficiently different abilities.

ZamuelNow wrote:Diamond dogs should have Call Out as a suggested ability.
I can see that.

ZamuelNow wrote:Ahuitzotl should probably have Mook as a suggested ability.
That I'm a little less sure about. We've only seen one ahuizotl in the show, so I'm cautious about extrapolating abilities based on one data point. Regarding Ahuizotl's feline helpers, I'd say they fit better as companions, since they're obviously not disposable minions. And the other ponies helping him are either hired for money or helping him for other reasons.

ZamuelNow wrote:You may or may not want to make a special section mentioning alicorns.  Personally, I feel the "correct" way to make one is to not be level one but for players who want to make one in earnest may want suggestions along with extra discussion for players and GMs.

G4 style Breezies could potentially be a new race option.
I'll write something up regarding alicorns. Breezies seem like they'd be difficult to balance in a party, unless it was an all-breezy party (that could be a neat campaign, come to think of it).

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Re: Official Races in the Ability System

Post  ZamuelNow on Tue Apr 01, 2014 2:23 pm

mjh6 wrote:Honestly, given how becoming an Alicorn worked for Twilight, it sounds more like a destiny than anything.
Crystalite wrote:True. But you can get the "basics" of Alicorn-hood with default Abilities.

I think that's a lot of why it should be a discussion as opposed to a set of build suggestions.  There's a couple different ways to go about it as long as it's not a level 1 character.

Philadelphus wrote:Freaky Knowledge definitely makes sense there. I too think lumping them feels slightly odd, but we have so very little to go on with crystal ponies and zebras. I'm not averse to potentially splitting them up if we can come up with sufficiently different abilities.

I'm not sure we can properly split off zebra and crystal ponies due to stuff removed from the system and how little race specific info the show gives us about them.  However, I did come up with an idea to help make them fit better with the template.  Make Adept a suggested ability and Freaky Knowledge the core ability.  Manages to cover the two side branches better, plus it's simply more interesting to suggest a player get something that builds off of their character concept instead of a bigger crit range.

Philadelphus wrote:That I'm a little less sure about. We've only seen one ahuizotl in the show, so I'm cautious about extrapolating abilities based on one data point. Regarding Ahuizotl's feline helpers, I'd say they fit better as companions, since they're obviously not disposable minions. And the other ponies helping him are either hired for money or helping him for other reasons.

While I'd argue that Mook can potentially handle multiple concepts of recurring lackeys, it does admittedly feel more like he has his own party and allies.  Though only having one data point is an interesting recurring problem.  We run into it with Zecora though we do know that more zebra exist in the world.  Technically, Instant-Party sorta feels more like a personal ability than a racial.  Unless we're building G3 earth ponies... Razz 

Philadelphus wrote:Breezies seem like they'd be difficult to balance in a party, unless it was an all-breezy party (that could be a neat campaign, come to think of it).

The biggest issue is figuring out how strict the GM should be about size rules.  Once that's worked out, they don't seem all that hard to build, in my opinion.
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