• "Tails of Equestria" and "Tails of Equestria: The Curious Case of the Malfunctioning P.R.A.N.C.E.R. and Other Tails" Review

    While the show may be over, the good people over at River Horse are still making content for their MLP role-playing game, Tails of Equestria. Oddly enough, we never actually reviewed the core game back when it came out.

    Recently, River Horse sent yours truly a review copy of the latest expansion. I hope they don't mind me using this as an opportunity to talk about the core game as well.

    Head on down below the break for a review of both Tails of Equestria and The Curious Case of the Malfunctioning P.R.A.N.C.E.R.

    Tails of Equestria

    If, like me, you've never played a tabletop RPG before then you'll find Tails of Equestria to be a great introduction. The twelve-chapter core book introduces you to every concept in the game, and it does it in a way that's easy to understand.

    Character creation takes up roughly half of the book, and it's a detailed process.  Every player character has a Body, Mind, Charm and Stamina statistic that comes into play during a session. Each type of playable pony -- Earth, Pegasus and Unicorn -- also has their own special secondary skill that uses a D6 die. Unicorns get the ability to move things with the power of magic, Earth ponies are really tough, and Pegasi propel themselves through the sky with their wings.  Before any prospective Donut Steele players ask, no, you can't be an alicorn. All of these natural skills give you a leg-up in some way, and I think it'll encourage players to seriously consider which type of pony they want to be.

    Then there's the Talent and Quirk system, which gives your character their skills and weaknesses. You can pick both from dedicated lists in the book or make one up if you're feeling creative.  Of course, you'll also have to pick a cutie mark talent. And although you can add more talents as you level up your character, this talent is the key to your character's personality.

    Speaking of leveling up, you're going to need to level up if you want to use your talents. When you start at level one, all talents have a die value of D4 -- which means they won't be much help for most challenges unless the GM is feeling merciful or the test is really easy.

    Leveling up itself is simple: at the end of a campaign or an adventure, your character's level increases by one.

    That's it.

    The game recommends you start over with a new character once you reach level ten, so keep that in mind as you plan out which adventures you want to play.

    It's surprisingly fun to sit down and create a character using the book's guidelines. There's enough room for you to be creative, and plenty of suggestions to keep you on track. The book even has a list of questions to ask yourself when you want to determine your pony's personality. Honestly, a lot of fanfic writers could benefit from having this book on their reference shelf.

    When it comes to gameplay, Tails of Equestria is different from most RPGS in one very important way, and I'm not talking about the colorful ponies. You see, Tails of Equestria discourages combat. A lot. While it does have a combat system, called "Scuffles," trying to fight all the time will quickly earn you a ticket to Knockoutville with a pit stop at Bad Times Canyon. Instead, you're encouraged to work with other players to find a peaceful solution, such as talking things out or befriending your enemies.

    You know, the way Twiggles and Co. handle things on the show ninety-five percent of the time.

    Of course, you can fight things, but going the peaceful route gives you a chance to earn Tokens of Friendship so I really don't know why you'd go out brawling unless you've got some kind of blood lust thing going.

    What are Tokens of Friendship? I'm glad you asked. Tokens of Friendship are the game's physical representation of THE POWER OF F R I E N D SH I P. You earn these things by leveling up or performing a great act of friendship. They let you change a die roll, or even the story if your group uses enough of them. In this way, the game encourages you to help your fellow players and any non-player characters you meet during your adventure.

    I think the focus on noncombat solutions and friendship is the biggest selling point for this game. Where most RPGS, to my knowledge, revolve around crushing your enemies and maybe backstabbing the rest of the party, Tails of Equestria forces you to think outside the box. With combat off the table, I'm sure players will have to find all kinds of creative ways to deal with a problem.

    That's not to say the game wants you to be perfectly harmonious with the world. A story with no conflict would be insufferably boring, after all -- just ask anyone who had to sit through the first two seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The game specifically warns you against making characters that get along too well, and there is a dedicated combat system that covers pretty much everything.

    It just, you know, really wants you to find a different solution.

    The rest of the game revolves around tests and challenges. The difference between the two, aside from tests allowing you to use a special thing called the EXPLODING HOOF technique, is the former requires you to work with the other players as a team, while the latter is all about competing with each other like Applejack and Rainbow Dash. Both of them can and will put every trait and talent you've got to the test, and if you've ever wondered where those die rolls come in, this is that part.

    The very last part of the core book, after you've created your character and learned how to play, is a starter campaign about babysitting the mane six's various pets. That might sound dull, but it quickly turns into a hectic quest thanks to the actions of everybody's least favorite bunny, Angel. It's a fun adventure that gives new players a taste of nearly anything that'll happen in a typical campaign.

    Overall, Tails of Equestria gives you a great character creation system, fun gameplay, and encourages creative thinking. If you know enough people to play it with, pick up a copy and start having your adventure.

    However, I recommend you play with at least four people -- three players, one GM. Since the game heavily relies on friendship and teamwork, the more people you have in your party, the better.

    Now, on to the expansion.

    The Curious Case of the Malfunctioning P.R.A.N.C.E.R. and Other Tails

    While most expansion books are one big campaign, this book gives you six adventures in one anthology. All of the adventures are short; the book itself says they're only supposed to last a single session. That's not to say you couldn't make them last longer; creative GMs can probably turn at least one of them into an adventure across time and space. But what makes these short stories interesting is the expansion's central premise.

    The Curious Case of the Malfunctioning P.R.A.N.C.E.R. and Other Tales is designed to teach players a real world concept through a role-playing session. In one adventure you'll learn about the scientific method, in another you'll learn how a jury trial works. And in one of them you get to learn the horrors of retail work. It's fascinating to see how these concepts tie into their respective stories, and I'm sure a younger player will learn a lot by putting them to practical use.

    This premise is the book's biggest strength, but it doesn't always work as well as it can. One adventure, for instance, is built around the ability to read a map. It's a fun journey across the ocean, don't get me wrong, but I think anyone old enough to play a role-playing game would have at least a rudimentary understanding of how a map works.

    I wish some of the stories were expanded a little, too. OBJECTION! has you act the defense for a Diamond Dog accused of theft, and while the court case provides plenty of opportunities to learn about logical fallacies and the legal system, it really could've benefited from having more characters to interact with. But what's there is an entertaining courtroom drama, and I'm sure the players will be too occupied with the prosecution's accusations to worry about a minimalist cast.

    Entertaining is a good word to describe this expansion. All of the adventures move at a breakneck pace and you can tell the writers had fun writing them. And even if you don't like one campaign, you've got five others that'll give you a totally different story.

    Yes, there's something here for everyone. Have you ever wanted to learn how to bake a cake? Flip to Piece of Cake, where you can find a real cake recipe -- which produces a delicious cake, by the way -- and a campaign built around finding ingredients and baking up some crazy confectionery. Want to help a pony win an election for the position of Chief Party Planner? Turn to The Pony Party.

    When it comes to gameplay, these adventures are a bit more challenging than the one you'll find in the core book. The expansion says it's suitable for level one-ten players, but I'd recommend waiting until you're at least at level two before you start one of the stories here. None of them are meant to be your first adventure, if you ask me.

    Still, this would work well as a followup to your first big campaign, or even in-between campaigns as the book itself suggests. At the end of the day, the expansion will give you a fun afternoon while you're getting ready for a bigger adventure down the road.

    Although the adventures may be short, and while the basic premise doesn't always land right, The Curious Case of the Malfunctioning P.R.A.N.C.E.R. and Other Tails is definitely a worthwhile expansion that'll give you a lot of fun single-session games.

    You can pick up a copy of The Curious Case of the Malfunctioning P.R.A.N.C.E.R. and Other Tails here.

    For a copy of the base game, go here.

    algernon97 was going to run a campaign, but
     then society took a Coronavirus to the knee.