Design & Development04/01/2006

Here Come the Ponies

We're hoping this column becomes your window into roleplaying design and development—or at least the way we approach these things here at Wizards of the Coast. We'll handle a wide range of topics in weeks to come, from frank discussions about over- or underpowered material, to the design goals of a certain supplement, to what we think are the next big ideas for the Dungeons & Dragons game. All of this comes bundled with a healthy look at the people and events that are roleplaying R&D.

This week, we take an unexpected tour of Butterfly Island.

For this edition of Design & Development, we wanted to move past the world of Eberron, past the world of the Forgotten Realms—all the way past the Hollow World of Mystara—to a mysterious land known as Butterfly Island.

That’s right. It’s time to discuss the My Little Pony Roleplaying Game.

If you haven’t read today’s press release, we’ve reprinted it below. Go ahead, take a look. We’ll wait right here for you…

“Here Come the Ponies”: Legendary MY LITTLE PONY Becomes a Roleplaying Game

Be the first to experience the new My Little Pony Roleplaying Game

April 1, 2006 (Renton, Wash.) – Mothers and daughters will be delighted to be the first to experience the My Little Pony Roleplaying Game, coming this August from Wizards of the Coast, a developer and publisher of game-based entertainment products and a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., (NYSE:HAS). This first-of-its-kind roleplaying game features characters inspired by the legendary My Little Pony storyline.

Leveraging opportunities between Hasbro’s core girl brand and Wizards of the Coast’s most popular game formats, the My Little Pony RPG marks an exciting d20 experience for girls ages 3-7, a previously unexplored segment of the roleplaying game marketplace.

The My Little Pony RPG uses the game system of the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game, featuring custom-designed ponies with rules for choosing a wide range of pony colors, hair styles, accessories such as “cutie marks,” and powers such as “rainbow flight” and “find-and-seek”. Containing both adventures (foiling the nefarious “Dark Rustler”) and adventure hooks (collecting the most butterflies and rainbow berries), the My Little Pony RPG core rulebook presents a fully detailed world, with such popular locations as Celebration Castle, Twinkle Twirl’s Dance Studio, and the Cotton Candy Café.

"If it's on Butterfly Island, it's in the My Little Pony RPG core rulebook, and we expect the book to be an invaluable tool for RPG fans and game developers alike," said Jonathan Tweet, senior game designer with Wizards of the Coast. "Not only will this RPG appeal to current fans of My Little Pony, but it will also help core roleplayers come to appreciate the depth and possibilities in this unique fantasy world. I know I did.”

In addition to creating their own ponies, players have the opportunity to meet and adventure with such iconic characters as SPARKLEWORKS, TWINKLE TWIRL, CHERRY BLOSSOM, and GOOD MORNING SUNSHINE. Wizards of the Coast will offer a preview of the My Little Pony Roleplaying Game through the My Little Pony Birthday Club via Club members will be the first to learn how to play this exciting new game.

“We’re very excited for this opportunity. We feel this takes the sweetness of the Pony brand and combines it with a very sophisticated game experience. It’s a chance for mothers and daughters to play together, and for girls to really involve themselves in the Pony lifestyle,” said Valerie Jurries, vice president of girls toys with Hasbro.

The My Little Pony RPG coincides with the My Little Pony brand’s 24th anniversary. Starting in August, Wizards of the Coast will release the My Little Pony RPG core rulebook featuring dynamic artwork that brings the fantasy of the My Little Pony universe into every roleplaying session. Corresponding My Little Pony miniatures, compatible with the D&D Miniatures line, are planned for release in 2007.

“Personally, I am very excited about this game. It’s a tremendous opportunity to harness the strengths of Wizards' high involvement gameplay with Hasbro’s property branding. This is going to be big with little girls. It’s a great chance for Wizards to branch out roleplaying games in a way that makes sense,” said Casey Reeter, vice president of marketing, Wizards of the Coast.

Hasbro (NYSE:HAS) is a worldwide leader in children's and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER, and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.

Wizards of the Coast, Inc., is a worldwide leader in the trading card game and tabletop roleplaying game categories, and a leading developer and publisher of game-based entertainment products. The company holds an exclusive patent on trading card games (TCGs) and their method of play and produces the premier trading card game, Magic: The Gathering®, among many other trading card games and family card and board games. Wizards is also a leading publisher of roleplaying games, such as Dungeons & Dragons®, and publisher of fantasy series fiction with numerous New York Times best-sellers. For more information, visit the Wizards of the Coast website at

Wizards of the Coast, Magic: The Gathering, and Dungeons & Dragons are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast Inc. ©2006 Wizards.

My Little Pony is a registered trademark of Hasbro, Inc. ©2006 Hasbro.

My Little Pony RPG -- April Fool's!

April 2, 2006 (Renton, Wash.) -- For all you My Little Pony fans out there who saw yesterday's "press release," thanks for being good sports. Wizards of the Coast loves being able to joke around with our fans, and this was too good to pass up. We also send a big thanks to Hasbro for playing along. Until next time, file this one alongside the rumors about a sixth color for the Magic: The Gathering trading card game, and remember—don't take any wooden nickels.

Now that you’ve had a look, I’m sure your initial thoughts are—well, incredulous. We’ve got to be kidding, right? We’re not. We really do believe the time has come to bring RPGs to a new segment of the market—namely, to young girls aged 3-7. On the face of it, we agree—the premise might seem ridiculous. But let’s take a closer look.

For one thing, market research has consistently shown us that new players are skewing younger and younger when it comes to RPGs. The D&D Basic Game sold out its initial print runs and continues to sell extraordinarily well.

For another thing, when it comes to playing games, research also shows us that young girls prefer gaming activities among their peers that are cooperative in nature as opposed to competitive. Granted, that’s not always the case (I’m certain we all know some extremely competitive girls), but it serves us as a general statement concerning roleplaying games. And when it comes to cooperative activities, there’s very little that can compare to the group play inherent in RPGs.

So yes, we do believe the time has come for the My Little Pony Roleplaying Game. True, this almost certainly isn’t a game those of you reading this column will pick up for yourself. But it might be something you’ll steer your daughters, sisters, and younger cousins to. And since it is skewed so young, it’s the kind of RPG that benefits from a parent or guardian assuming the role of Dungeon Master (or Stable Master, to use a bit of MLP parlance), which means the game fits in quite nicely as part of “family night,” with mom or dad running the adventure.

What does all this mean for D&D? From R&D’s perspective, we’ll be looking at the My Little Pony RPG as something of a transitional game. It teaches young girls the basics of roleplaying, with the idea that as they grow older they’ll be more interested in picking up the D&D Basic Game. Conversely, we’ll be doing more on the D&D side of things to make the transition that much easier for these incoming players—meaning, you can expect future adventures to be more “mount-friendly” so to speak. These MLP players will be used to adventuring as ponies, so they’ll likely come to D&D with expectations of bringing their mounts (horses or otherwise) from the beginning of the adventure to the end. Paladins’ warhorses will certainly see some attention, as will centaurs and other tauric creatures as player character races.

Well, wait. Wait just a minute—this is all starting to sound a little too reasonable. Somebody might read this and decide we should start making the My Little Pony RPG. And that’s not what we want for April Fool’s!

Enjoy your adventures—pony or otherwise!

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