A while ago, David Silver posted on the Pathfinder Online Collective that he was looking for reviewers for his Pathfinder setting, Ponyfinder. Now I am not interested in My Little Pony in any way and I took this as a "let's see how stupid this can be." I expected a product designed for fanboys wanting to play ponies.
Next, it is a pathfinder product. So the basic tropes exists: levels, alignment, race, class, etc. In that Ponyfinder is very easy to adapt to any campaign setting. A Pathfinder player would be at home if given a character made with these rules.
Pony Creation Rules
Let me start by saying that when I really expected it to be fairly terrible. However, I what I read surprised me greatly.
First, ponies are fey. This really surprised me (I expected magical beasts). The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. The ponykind race and their rules are pretty tight and well-written. I actually had a number of idea about how to import some of the ideas into other settings. This could make a very interesting encounter.
One little gem: the fingerless rule. Yes, ponies are fingerless! The rules here are well-written, tight and allows for ponies to actually be playable in any setting! From this point on (page 9), my initial apprehension turned to excitement. I wanted to read more and see how I could use these rules in my own game.
As a curmudgeon, getting me to want to read more is a huge win for Dave and his Silver Games crew.
Next come the alternate race traits, presented as "packages". Nine alternative ponies allow you to play a unicorn, pegasus or a zebra. There are a few traits that can be used to create a truly "super" pony. Some of these could really cause game balance issue, but a quick "no" by the GM should address most of these issues.
Each of the alternate ponies are flavorful in their descriptions. The sea horse being the one I see with fewer usage, but mostly for the same reason sea elves are not the most common elven race encountered.
Perhaps the biggest issue I have with some of the races is their ability to fly, from level one. This is something that is common in Pathfinder: flying at low-level is a game winner.
New Rules options
We are presented with a new bloodline: Unification which is very pony-like and allows the pony sorcerer to gain abilities from other breeds of ponies.
The second one I have more issues with and would outright prevent its selection. The writing here is not as crisp, which is a shame because the fluff was really great: one of your ancestor "got it on" with vampires. The 1st level ability allows the sorcerer to inflict negative levels with a touch attack. However, it cannot be used to kill someone. The other ability, Vampire's Gift is written as follows:
Vampire’s Gift (Ex): DR 5/magic or silver DR 1 per 2 levels(maximum 5).
It seems to be missing something. Does the pony get DR 5/magic at lvl1 and DR (1/2 levels, up to 5)/silver? That is extremely powerful.
After these two entries, is a list of "Ponies as ..." which gives some information on the classes and the recommended breed for each of them. While I am not naturally drawn to these sections, I made an effort to go through. The writing is good and interesting. Definitely something to guide a new player build a better pony.
Then we are shown a number of racial class archetypes. One that particular drew my eye was the Elemental Savant for Druid replaces all the animal ability with elemental-related powers. I really think this one was a stroke of genius. LOVE IT.
Next comes the section on the new feats. The feats presented herein all add or improve ponies' abilities and racial traits. I think this was a very good move by the team.
Other races come next: I found them less interesting to tell the truth: you can play a cloven (goat), flutterpony (pony-butterfly), griffons (well... griffons), phoenix wolf (fire wolf), purrsian (winged cats), steelheart (construct ponies), sun cats (fey lion). These are interesting, but I wasn't sold on the steelheart (too much like the clockwork pony racial archetype).
The deity section is interesting, presenting a small but working pantheon. However, the art of the deities is one step above. One element I liked were the "revelations" and "visitation" entries. Revelation tells the GM how the deity provides its followers with insight or guidance while Visitation gives the basics of how the deity would appear to a worshipper. These two make the god very usable, particularly in a campaign where they interfere frequently with the world.
The Games and sports is interesting because it gives insight into pony society. I read this with interest.
The height/ weight/ age section comes next. It is fine, but not something I really care about.
Next section is Ponykind as companions or familiars. These two are particularly interesting and, I suspect could be the one section that will find its way into most games. This section has some minor stat block formatting issues, but the rules elements are present. I like the rules for those who may want to use their pony as a mount. I am not so sure about the pony as familiar. Not because of the pony stats, but because they gain additional abilities. This part is not as clear as the rest, it seems to indicate that the pony is also a full-on wizard, that is pretty powerful.
The optional rules are some of the most important part of how to incorporate them into the rest of the rules: options to remove the type (fey) advantage vs humanoid, Options on how to use ponies as ponies, etc. These rules are interesting and will give the prospective Pony-GM some food for thought in preparing for their game.
History of Everglow
We are then presented with a history of Everglow. The writing is fine, but the real gems in there is in the breakdown of the history. Each era has a number of factions that would allow a GM to create organizations. These are presented in a clean format, with each group having an advantage and a liability. In addition to that, faction traits - much like other Paizo products are present. As usual, the traits have some that are WAY too good and others not so much.
These eras include alternative pony traits and rule options. I am almost disappointed that some of these options are not part of the main rules.
Notable NPCs, groups
Next is a gazetteer, in a format consistent with classic products. These vary in interest, but the writing is solid.
Next we have a section on famous ponies. The art here, like in the deity section is nice. The NPCs are interesting. The element I was greatly pleased with is in the GM notes. After the "public" history, we are given a something for the GM to use them. Giving ideas on how to use the Pony, with his/ her motivations goals and how to integrate that pony in your game.
Then we are given three notable groups. After the interesting groups from the eras, these fell flat to me. They just weren't exciting. I guess my main gripe has to do with them not being as good as the previous ones.
The plot hooks here are simple, but effective. I read them a few times and could see myself expanding most of them into adventures.
Pony ingenuity and Magic
This is the section for new goodies. The big flaw equipment is costs and weights are not easy to find, some referring to the CRB for prices and weight. A simple issue, but just a tad nagging.
The formatting for the magic items is more problematic, a lot of blank spaces makes the start/ end of items difficult to find. It resembles Pathfinder format, but it isn't. Too bad, because the items are interesting and flavorful. I love the queen's slippers in particular.
The spells are fine. I found a few minor editing issues, but they don't feel overpowered and are flavorful.
Next come the new traits.
The bestiary section has a few creatures that range from CR 1/3 to 12. The creatures are flavorful and I did not find any issue with them. Their potential for reusability is limited but in an Everglow campaign, I would expect to see them rather regularly.
Tomorrow, more ponies and the completion of the review.