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Does the quadratic amount of Tokens of Friendship gained by PCs become problematic with more players? What are reasonable alternatives for allotting Friendship?

In Tails of Equestria, every PC (Pony Character) is given a number of Tokens of Friendship at the beginning of each adventure equal to the number of players (PCs + GM) playing the game. This means that the total number of Tokens that the group is collectively given is equal to:

PCs * (PCs + 1)

or, alternatively,

(PCs ^ 2) + PCs

This has quadratic growth, and results in larger groups having an enormous wealth of Friendship compared to smaller groups.

PCs         Friendship
--------------------
 2  =  2*3  =   6
 3  =  3*4  =  12
 4  =  4*5  =  20
 5  =  5*6  =  30
 6  =  6*7  =  42

As can be seen, a group of 5 players would receive a whopping 2.5 times as many Tokens of Friendship as a group of 3 players would. 6 players would have a massive pool, while 2 players would have almost none.

Friendship is capable of many powerful things, not the least of which is its high-end power at the cost of 3 tokens, which allows an automatic success at any check.

By giving back 3 Tokens of Friendship to the GM, you pass the test or win the challenge automatically - no re-roll is needed!

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The book does suggest that a form of Rule Zero is in place here, in which the GM can dictate higher or lower costs of Friendship as the situation calls for, but this only punts on the real issue. It's clear that Friendship applies to both Tests and Challenges, which is essentially all types of standard dice rolls in the system.

My fear is that a large group would have so many tokens that they could practically complete an entire adventure with nothing but the power of friendship! While this is certainly... thematic and fitting with the tone of the source material, it would also result in failing to interact with any other mechanics of the game.

Does this quadratic function cause degenerate play? Is it wise to replace it with a linear function?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Does the GM use the tokens they are given in the same way? \$\endgroup\$
    – Skrillaka
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 4:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @A.McCurran The GM doesn't get tokens. The PCs each get tokens based on the total number of players (PCs + GM). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 5:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's… a weird mechanic. Normally, a littler group will get more—not less!—of a precious resource than a bigger group because the bigger group already has enough resources in the form of more PCs! Is a reason for this (seeming?) disconnect present in the text? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 7:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I assume it is to push the moral lesson of the value of friendship through their mechanics. Not that I think this is a good reason, or a good way to do it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 12:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there an indication somewhere in this game's rules about how many players you could play with? I mean, any RPG becomes degenerated if you start playing it with ten times the recommended number of PCs. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 13:41

1 Answer 1

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Mechanically, there is potential for this. But it depends on your players, and the GM.

Tails of Equestria, as designed, is mechanically easier to succeed in with larger groups. This is kinda weird, but it is the way it is.

As you pointed out, the larger your party, the more Tokens you start play with to influence gameplay and make success more likely. In most other systems, this would be somewhat balanced by the fact that, in order to do something, you'd need more total successes (one per party member) in order to have the party succeed at many tasks.

To give an example from another game system...in order for the party to successfully sneak somewhere, everyone has to pass their Stealth Checks. Thus, more dice are being thrown, more successes are needed, and so more Tokens may need to be spent for re-rolls or auto-successes.

But, according to the rules laid out in the Tests chapter...if multiple ponies are trying to accomplish the same task, they all roll for it and you take the highest result. And if they are all trying at the same time, then the GM reduces the target number per character that is helping.

So, simply put....the more players you have, the more dice are getting thrown at any given challenge, the more the Target Number is reduced, and thus...you are significantly more likely to succeed on that task.

Whether or not there are types of tests that you cannot team up on is not laid out in the rules, and would thus be GM discretion. Personally, I would rule that some things require all characters to succeed (such as jumping across a ravine), and such tests could potentially devour Friendship Points at a high speed.

Now...as for whether or not this is a problem, as I said: it depends on your players and it depends on the GM. If the GM throws harder challenges at the larger group (which they should, given the mechanics), or simply calls for a larger number of tests...they may be forced to expend Friendship Points more often. Smaller groups often have an easier time RPing (in my experience) and so a smaller group of players is more likely to earn Friendship Points.

And, as to whether or not a larger party having an easier time finding success is a problem for you and your players...that really depends on you and the people you play with. In other game systems, there is a wide range of 'tastes' in terms of challenge. You have people who enjoy a good story and don't really want to be in a lot of danger. Then you have people who play the Tomb of Horrors, Call of Cthulhu, and try to run the Renraku Arcology.

But, in terms of simple mechanics...you are correct. Tails of Equestria is mechanically easier for a larger group of players. AFAIK, no reasoning behind this decision has been officially laid down.

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    \$\begingroup\$ How does this match your experience playing Tales of Equestria? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 16:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have not played with enough groups of varying size to provide a good sample cross-section. this is primarily based on an understanding of the mechanics of the game. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 16:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ About the "jumping over a ravine" part there is an in-universe example of that, \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 8:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AnneAunyme Yup, which is why I cited that example specifically. :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 14:26

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