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Tales of Equestria Starter BoxIf you come to a gaming, anime, or comic convention in or near Columbia, South Carolina, you’ll usually find me there running both Dungeons and Dragons Adventurers League and the Tails of Equestria RPG. Dungeons and Dragons is a traditional convention offering, but Tails of Equestria is not a normally offered game and some folks are intrigued as to why I choose to run the game.

There is a subculture of males who love just about everything there is to the My Little Pony cartoon franchise. There are even conventions and meet-ups dedicated to this subculture. These folks are often known as “Bro-nies” and so the first question is whether I’m one? I’m not. I love the message of the revamped My Little Pony series, especially as a father of young daughters, but I grew up on mecha anime, and that’s what I love. However, I do love the RPG.

The first reason is that the RPG teaches the fundamental message of the new series of shows and movies: the importance of friendship and building/maintaining healthy relationships. The game is built around that concept. The more your ponies (characters) live up to these ideals, the better you’ll do. Sometimes, the only way to get past something is because a friend helps you out. Just like in real life! When I say build around the concept, there are game mechanics, specifically the tokens of friendship, that emphasize being there for one another and for the non-player ponies and other characters you encounter.

Second, it’s a wide-open system. Imagination and role-playing take center stage. Games like Dungeons and Dragons and it’s related sibling, Pathfinder, can devolve more into roll-playing (rolling dice like a wargame) than role-playing. Dice are an important aspect of the Tails of Equestria RPG, like most RPGs, but they don’t ever rule the day.

Third, why role-playing is center stage, the system is detailed enough that hard-core tactical players have enough to take the edge off when it comes to combat and other challenges. I’ve had very tactical RPGers remark that they enjoy the options that the challenge system offers. Speaking of teamwork, when the player ponies gang up against an opposing foe, the “weight of dice” (rolling enough dice to get the result you want, even if the odds for any single roll isn’t very good) often carry the day. This is often the way it is in the real world and not only does it carry over in the game, but it emphasizes collaborating towards a common goal, even if it’s a short term one of taking out an opposing minion.

Finally, the rules are still light enough where it’s applicable to a broad range of ages. I’ve had games at conventions where adults are sitting down playing at a table with six and seven year-olds and they’re all understanding the rules, able to play, and having a great time. Tails of Equestria strikes the right balance where we have just enough rules.

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