The Magic of Critical Die Rollsnote For those who can't read the text: Applejack: Uh, it's not as bad as it looks? Rarity: No, dear, it's pretty much exactly as bad as it looks. Twilight Sparkle: My plan... The dice hated my plan. Rainbow Dash: How was I supposed to know the dragon was FIVE LEVELS higher than us? Pinkie Pie: THIS is what happens when the DM smiles? Boy, I should've been paying attention!
All There in the Manual: In-universe: the GM sent Dash's player a ten-page email explaining her character. She barely skimmed enough to pick up the term 'weatherpony', and misunderstood that as being able to predict the weather instead of controlling it.
The players' takes on their respective ponies. invoked
In-Universe, there's the Diamond Dogs' take on Equestrian society: that all ponies are massive Hypocrites who look down upon other races, and Celestia is a tyrant who disguises her true nature with false kindness.
Backstory: All the characters have some backstory, Applejack most of all.
Big WHAT: From Twilight's teammates and the GM when she announces the Elements of Harmony are within her friends.
Brick Joke: During Twilight's introduction, Pinkie's player mentions that ponies can't get drunk. Later, during her introduction, she brings it back up.
Broad Strokes: While the basic events of the episodes remain the same, the author has thrown in some extra scenes (such as Twilight writing another letter to Celestia just before NightMare Moon's arrival or talking to the more experienced players after their first session wraps up) or changed how they play out (like Fluttershy botching her roll and Rarity going over the cliff).
The Swarm of the Century arc was completely derailed, leading into a combined session based off the events of A Bird in the Hoof and A Dog and Pony Show.
The latter of the above has gone askew several times, with a complete reversal of the "This is whining!" scene and the attempted rescue nearly getting derailed by Twilight deciding it simply wouldn't be in-character for her Lawful Good wizard to spend any time with the Rogue Rarity.
Brutal Honesty: During Dash's temptation, Rarity and Applejack's players state she's not very good at roleplaying and was probably the worst choice for the solo scene, leading her to take both scene and offer more seriously.
When Twilight states that Applejack represents the Element of Honesty, AJ's player is honestly surprised at how she classes her behavior:
AJ's Player: Honesty…huh, never looked at it that way. Everyone else calls it annoying. GM: That's because it IS, sometimes.
Chekhov's Skill: The site includes a Cast List with stat sheets for the players, which are updated after every campaign. This includes information on their skills which can come into play in the strip, such as Fluttershy having a 15 in Intimidate.
Before embarking on the Dragonshy arc, the players outlined how they'd upgraded their characters. Among these, AJ mentions how she took Alertness and Evade Ambush, meaning that she can't ever be surprised and can keep her allies from being surprised. Several arcs later, she reminds the GM about this during the Diamond Dog's attempted ambush.
The cast page was updated with Angel Bunny's stat block before the Feeling Pinkie Keen arc. It's annoying abilities later caused Pinkie to blow up the King Timberwolf.
Didn't Think This Through: Twilight counters Nightmare Moon's seizing of the Elements by fast talking up a claim that her friends represent five of the six elements. Unfortunately she doesn't immediately have a justification of how the sixth element is in the party's possession.
Drama Queen: Philomena. Rainbow Dash as well, at least according to Applejack.
Elephant in the Living Room: After the "Bridle Gossip" campaign, the GM decides to directly address this by asking the players if they weren't satisfied with how the session turned out. Though they have several gripes, AJ points out that perhaps the biggest elephant in the room is how the GM manipulated Pinkie's player.
Enforced Method Acting: Played for LaughsIn-Universe in the "Bridle Gossip" campaign: the GM refuses to let Fluttershy take a different curse, but wasn't expecting her player to try and actually speak her lines in a "deep, manly voice". He then suggests the others act out their curses, which isn't received well.
Even Evil HasTrue Companions: How Dash's player justifies having the Element of Loyalty. Just because she's Chaotic Evil doesn't mean she won't stick by her friends no matter what others (or the GM) say.
Fantastic Racism: Naturally appears in the adaptation of "Bridle Gossip"; as in the original episode, the main reason for the distrust isn't her appearance, but the fact she lives in the Everfree Forest and acts like a witch.
Friend to All Living Things: Fluttershy, naturally. She is very enthusiastic about it as well, going from soft-spoken to gushing when asked to describe her character's special talent.
Forgot You Could Fly: Dash keeps reminding everyone that she and 'the Druid' can fly. Including the Druid.
Genre Savvy: Applejack's player is exceedingly so, both when it comes to common game cliches and dealing with the Game Master. Rarity is also pretty savvy, and Twilight's savviness is more focused on story cliches than gameplay mechanics.
The GM allows the players to shape the game world as they're playing, and railroaded the party through a series of challenges in Everfree Forest. Twilight then uses those experiences to justify their gaining the Elements of Harmony.
Twilight's player (unwittingly) Metagamed Rarity into admitting she was a Rogue rather than letting her stick to her cover story of being a humble dressmaker. This has caused her considerable grief since then due to knowing that one of her friends is a member of the Thieves Guild that her royal mentor has been hunting for generations.
Info Dump: Fluttershy's gushing over Spike leads to him relating how dragons first came to Equestria. Most of it is off-panel, though, with the reader only getting to hear the lead-in and tail end.
Irony (Situational): As the DM eventually points out, the events of their second campaign have a parallel to what they wanted to happen in the first campaign: mainly, the players be rendered "beaten, helpless, fearing for (their) lives..."
The DM keeps trying to get the players to learn friendship lessons, but they're more focused on combat. The one time (s)he wants them to focus on combat, they end up learning a lesson on friendship instead.
Karma Houdini: Averted with Zecora in "Bridle Gossip", who is arrested for their crimes.
Killer Game Master: Zigzagged. The GM is fond of giving the players enough rope to hang themselves with, and when his plans get completely derailed, he flips out. However, he's also willing to recognize and reward their hard work…but nearly ends the campaign after their first session because Twilight scuttled all his original plans.
Killer Rabbit: Being based on an imp assassin who nearly wiped the party three times in a past campaign, Angel Bunny is a literal example of this trope. When it fights the King Timberwolf, Pinkie just decides that it explodes because she doesn't want to deal with its annoying abilities.
Kleptomaniac Hero: Being a social rogue, Rarity naturally has some inclination towards this, as seen in the "Dragonshy" arc. Dash is also a big fan of looting.
Large Ham: Rarity's player busts out the ham when she realizes what Twilight's trying to do with the Elements of Harmony.
The Legend of Chekhov: The tale of the two Alicorn sisters that opens the first campaign tells the history of Celestia, Luna and Nightmare Moon…and was completely ignored by the players, leading to confusion and surprise when they found out that was meant to be relevant.
Similarly, Spike told Fluttershy and Twilight the legend of how dragons came to Equestria. This turns out to be relevant during the "Dragonshy" arc because dragons migrated there from another world, meaning Fluttershy's druid powers won't work on them.
Meta Gaming: Twilight gets caught in a conundrum when the player knows something about Rarity, but the character does not.
AJ's player deliberately designed her as Genre Savvy enough to justify this as in-character knowledge and/or reasonable conclusions based on her in-character knowledge.
Dash's Leave Your Quest Test leads to a brief discussion about this, as the rest of the group presumes she'll use OOC knowledge to her benefit. She doesn't.
During the A Dog and Pony Show arc, Rarity's player cites this as a reason why she didn't want to involve the others on her side quest: according to her, AJ would be constantly making checks and trying to determine her true motives, rather than simply helping her out.
Min-Maxing: Twilight's player chose 'Magic' as her special talent specifically for the gameplay benefits. Similarly, Applejack's player established her talent as 'running Sweet Apple Acres' in order to justify a steady income.
Fluttershy is the only pony who doesn't have some shade of this, her player's inexperience leading to her focusing on charisma, which is mostly wasted on a druid. However, she mentions that she couldn't decide on just one animal companion, leading to her focus on Animal Empathy.
Naturally appears in the One Piece Grand Line 3 Point 5Crossover. Cory's first character is Snips, with his scissors mark symbolizing a talent for 'cutting'. Meaning he's the fastest when it comes to cutting, and every cut deals massive damage. When that doesn't pass, his second attempt's the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well... with ALL their talents.
Even Nat, who's the reasonable role player in Grand Line 3.5, seems like a min-maxing power gamer next to the regulars when she plays Trixie.
Still present in the second Grand Line 3.5 crossover. Luke is now playing as Dr. Whooves, complete with traits such as Immortality. Cory seems to have at least toned it down a little, but given that he's depicted as Big Mac, this can easily go the way of Zoro.
The third crossover has Twilight and Fluttershy's players getting in on the act, with Twilight playing Boa Hancock complete with multitudinous followers and Taken for Granite skills, and Fluttershy (with Grand Line 3.5's DM's assistance) playing a twinked-out master grappler Captain Hina.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At the end of the Nightmare Moon arc, the GM invokes this by telling Twilight's player that they can't play anymore because she utterly demolished all his original plans. Fortunately, the others call him on this.
Twilight's player does it again, this time taking out the parasprites before they become a problem.
Twilight's meta-gaming when she first met Rarity, where she acted on what her player knew about her profession despite how Twilight should've had no idea whatsoever, has had long-standing consequences for the group. Since the rest of the Mane Six know that Rarity's a Rogue, there's a level of distrust there leading to several complications, with some of the largest so far coming during the A Dog and Pony Show arc.
The Nicknamer: Dash is the 'can't be bothered learning your real name' variety, calling the others by their classes.
Newb: Both Twilight and Fluttershy's players are new to roleplaying. Twilight is well versed in the rules of Dungeons & Dragons, while Fluttershy is less interested in the rules than she is in the setting itself.
Noodle Incident: Rarity's player has run at least one campaign of her own. Details are sparse, but apparently she would never drop the party into a grove of magical fear trees…that didn't talk.
Rainbow Dash's player was a guest DM once in a previous campaign; she notes that that session was written off as non-canon. Applejack's player's response was simply "Good times."
Not Worth Killing: Nightmare Moon's original impression of the Main Six. She changes her tune after they start awakening the elements, though.
NPC: Spike's dialogue is naturally provided by the GM, along with many other minor characters.
Off the Rails: The DM didn't foresee the possibility of Twilight successfully assigning her party all the Elements of Harmony.
The CMC's make a darn good attempt at this in objection to Fluttershy's request to find her rabbits; they accuse her of being evil instead and attack her. This turns out to be a very bad idea; see Total Party Kill, Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies and Oh Crap.
Twilight does it again, this time taking out the parasprites before they become a problem. Luckily, the GM thinks fast, and creates a new storyline, this one based on "A Dog and Pony Show" and "A Bird in the Hoof" and quite possibly "Fall Weather Friends" as well.
Oh Crap: The CMC's reaction to realizing that the quest giver they just attacked was a 15th level druid.
The Role Player: Played with through Applejack: her player created an extensive history for her, including the Apple Clan and Sweet Apple Acres. However, this was at least partly so that she could exploit the advantages they provided. Rarity and Fluttershy are straighter examples.
Rage Against the Mentor: After the party, Twilight surprisingly contacts Celestia again to call her out over acting like she didn't know the legend of the Mare in the Moon. Celestia's response is basically telling her flat-out that the fate of the world does, in fact, rely on her ability to make good friends.
Railroading: The GM does this occasionally, with Twilight immediately recognizing it the first time it happens. However, thus far the cast seems more or less content to follow the plot.
In Bridle Gossip, the GM uses the NPC Apple Bloom to drive the plot, until Twilight derails everything by deciding to simply go and explain everything to the citizens of Ponyville to enlist their help.
Judging from the GM's reaction when AJ uses a feat to prevent the Diamond Dog's ambush, they fully expected to be able to railroad the player ponies that way.
When Pinkie's player takes a turn as PM, she quickly shows signs of being a horrible railroader. Twilight makes a save? Spike fails it to get the same result. Twilight doesn't want to see what Pinkie's up to? The PM implies she's a horrible friend.
Reason You Suck Speech: Dog-and-Pony Show has the Diamond Dogs leader ranting about how ponies always say Equestria is the best place to live, but it's rather not. Pony society is (at least to an outside observer) based on institutionalized hypocrisy, and since Celestia controls the sun, by extension she rules the entire world (and makes a subtle reference to the Celestia-is-a-tyrant meme). Therefore, he feels completely justified in taking Rarity as a slave. Cue the comment sections being mostly how something similar happened to one's RP group.
Refuge in Audacity: Rarity indulges in this by stealing from a dragon's hoard while trying to convince him to leave by pointing out how he could be targeted by thieves.
Rainbow Dash: Oh, great. Is this book just gonna TELL us the information?
GM: As soon as you open the book you hear: "Hey! How about a little respect for the R.G?!"
Rainbow Dash: Really? You're gonna take everything I say and…? Oh gee, I wonder if…
Required Secondary Powers: Applejack's player establishes this about Cutie Marks. Essentially, if a pony's Cutie Mark symbolizes what they're best at, they have to know everything about that particular subject, and barring obscenely specific talents, there's bound to be some skills that overlap with other fields. So even though, for example, Applejack is an apple farmer, there are plenty of skills and aptitudes that cross over into her player class as a ranger.
Actually happens in one of the bonus strips when the CMCs try to derail the plot by accusing Fluttershy of being evil when she sets them a fetch quest, promptly attacking her familiar, Angel. Fluttershy promptly reveals herself to be a 15th level druid and wipes them out.
Then is announced when the DM is 'subtly' informed that the dragon's snores would probably cause avalanches on their own, regardless of how loud the players are.
Schrödinger's Gun: The GM has this in his arsenal, and Applejack's player is Genre Savvy enough to recognize it, to the point she warns him against turning an idle comment by Twilight into a plot twist.
Schrödinger's Suggestion Box: As the GM is still creating the game world, they're open to ideas from the players. For instance, Applejack gets all the benefits of the money Sweet Apple Acres brings in because her player put a lot of hard work into her background and family tree.
Show Within a Show: Meta-example; It's common (at this point every strip) for the commenters to tell stories of their own role playing exploits that relate the current strip, more than just anecdotes, most are longer than the strips themselves.
Simpleton Voice: Subverted, the Diamond Dogs might sound dumb, but they know what they're doing.
Spanner in the Works: The GM always seems to have some specific, exact plan for how the players are supposed to handle a given situation. Very rarely do things play out as intended. Twilight's often the cause of this.
Team Mom: Applejack's player encourages the others and is more than willing to help the newbies get accustomed to the game. She also uses this to justify a little metagaming here and there, such as being familiar enough with both Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie that she's ready to run damage control when they start being themselves.
Tempting Fate: When they first learn about the Elements of Harmony, the party decides that, while they don't know how to use them, they should collect the Elements anyway, if only to prevent Nightmare Moon from using them. Applejack's player immediately tells the GM that if he hadn't come up with that idea on his own, he can't use it now.
Just before the Manticore encounter, Dash comments that she'd like to face something that isn't a cliff or cloud. She's rather pleased when it shows up.
Twice in rapid succession during the "Dragonshy" session. First, Twilight's player prepared a speech to convince the dragon to leave in advance…but didn't write it down, stating when asked that she memorized it. Naturally, she blanks out under pressure. Next, Rarity's player delivers an off-the-cuff speech…but tempts fate by secretly rolling to steal from his hoard the whole time she's talking.
In the "Bridle Gossip" session, Twilight's player rolls Arcana to examine the Poison Joke flower.
GM: After a couple hours of study, you figure out that the flower has some kind of natural enchantment built into it. But the effect of the enchantment eludes you. Twilight: Really? That's it for a 29? GM: A bit lower and you wouldn't have learned anything at all. The dormant enchantment was extremely tough to spot. Twilight: Well then. I guess nothing else is going to happen tonight. I go to sleep. GM: While you're asleep, something happens... Twilight: Dammit!
This Is Gonna Suck: Rarity's player reacts this way when she hears Pinkie Pie's about to use a Glib Limerick.
GM: Really? You actually want to keep playing my little pony game?
Token Evil Teammate: Rainbow Dash and Rarity. Ironically, though the latter has shifted to Unaligned through Character Development, she tends to cop more of this treatment from the other players simply due to her profession.
Total Party Kill: Happens to the CMC's due to them derailing the Game Master's plot and attacking Fluttershy as evil, when she was just trying to set them a fetch quest. She turns out to be a 15th level druid.
What Could Have Been: Newbiespud detailed how the Swarm of the Century arc would have played out if Twilight hadn't completely derailed it: the Parasprites wouldn't deal much damage to the PCs, but drain their ability to heal while gobbling up all the food and keeping them from resting. Pinkie Pie's search for instruments would be her 'taking 20' on her Streetwise task, with the others trying a shorter, more direct approach.
World of Pun: The amount of pony puns gets Lampshaded early on, by Pinkie Pie's happy player. Dash's player is much less pleased, and Rarity's player mentions that if she were running the campaign, such puns would be an executable offense (or all characters who hear the pun take damage, at least).