I've been feeling bored enough lately to revist this. I'm strongly considering converting my PF game to 3.5e (I never wanted to do PF anyway), so i figured I'd brainstorm about pony races for 3.5e.
Anyway, I figured that since that anything that flies at lvl 1 is undoubtedly level adjusted in 3.5e, I figured the pony races may as well be statted as level adjusted creatures. A good yard stick could be the "Winged Creature" template, from Savage Species (page 137). A winged creature gains a +2 bonus to dex, and gains a fly speed, at the cost of +2 LA. Since I haven't seen any other race that has a fly speed with any less than +2 LA, it can be assumed that WoTC would measure the pegasus's flight at a minimum cost of +2 LA.
Now, if we consider all ponies to somehow be of equal power racially, we might consider unicorns and earth pony traits to be +2 LA as well. In this sense, we should consider "unicorn traits", "pegasus traits" and "earth pony traits" to be templates that add +2 LA to a base "pony" race.
The question arises, what exactly should a "pony" creature looks like? A few things stand out that should be expressed mechanically:>Quadripedal:
The ponies in the show are walk on all fours. If we ignored the mechanical implications of this, we wouldn't be using ponies but instead semi-anthro creatures similar to ponies.>Fingerless
Ponies lack thubs, and hands for that matter. You can stretch the concept of "squishy frogs" so far, so it should be assumed that earth ponies and pegasi get along with only their mouths for the most part. The mechanical impact of this shouldn't be too heavy, but it should be notable.>Medium
You could argue that ponies could be considered to be small, but in a world where they're the dominant race, they should be considered to be the yardstick for all other races.
These two traits could be expressed as followed:
Fingerless Rules:>Hand and ring covering magic items automatically adjust to fit, becoming anklets that otherwise function normally.>Any worn magical foot items (boots, shoes, etc.) adapt to cover all four extremities.>Those with hooves may use horseshoe items, but doing so occupies the hooves, preventing boots, shoes, and other such things.>Creatures with fingerless may wield/use items with their mouth as if their primary hand.>Abilities requiring touch can be made with paws, talons, hooves or horn. There is no mechanical benefit to this and it resolves exactly the same as a humanoid touch with a finger.>Unarmed attacks can come in the form of teeth, slams, or hooves. They do normal damage for an unarmed adventurer of medium size and are resolved entirely as unarmed attacks.>Somatic components are handled with hoof, talon, paw, and/or horn.>One-handed weapons with the ammunition property may be loaded despite lacking a free hand.
The last note stands out for any modern setting. I know it's bullshit, but it is based on a cartoon, right?
Quadripedal:>Land speed of 40 when on all fours; 20 when bipedal>Increase carrying capacity by 50% of those for medium creatures>+4 to resist being tripped>Ponies qualify for ride-by-attack and spirited charge as if they were centaurs. Ponies are considered to have Mounted Combat for the purpose of meeting the prerequisites of other feats.
These may look like they're power-increasing traits, but they only barely make up for the inevitable complications that would arise from lack of fingers. Increasing carrying capacity is reasonable since pony characters are unlikely to have horses or other mounts to carry their equipment; encumbrance is only important for flying builds or hulking hurler builds. The speed increase also accounts for lack of mounts, as well as for the awkwardness that would come from using two-handed reach weapons. Most quadripedal creatures have speeds of at least 40, so this seems reasonable. These traits could be applied to any pony-like races in the game as well.
The note about ride-by-attack stands out, but I think it's fine. Lack of arms makes a big difference in melee, so giving chargers a little bit of an extra edge shouldn't hurt. Pegasi qualify for fly-by-attack, which is much better.
Now for the good part:>Cutie Mark: All ponies recieve Least Dragonmark as a bonus feat. The pony may select marks based on their tribe, or any aberrant mark.
Cutie marks are magical in nature and represent a pony's destiny in the world. I feel like they're almost identical to Eberron's dragonmarks, except that all ponies manifest them, and not just the dragonmarked houses. A pony with a cutie mark would gain a bonus to a particular skill, and would be able to use a certain spell-like ability a limited number of times per day. For example, a warrior pony with an equivalent to the Mark Of Sentinel may have a shield as a CM, allowing said pony to use Shield Other a limited number of times per day, as an expression of the talent to protect others.
Dragonmarks are a fun mechanic in Eberron, and I think they'd be a perfect stand-in for cutie marks in a pony game, especially since they would give DMs the option to use all sorts of lore and content from the Eberron setting. Mechanically, they're significant enough to be interesting, but not powerful enough to make a huge difference.
I'll lay out how I envision each race manifesting dragonmarks in my next post, when I finish typing up the pony tribes as +2 LA races. I might just go to bed if nobody is interested though. I already did most of my game as PF, so converting it to 3.5e is gonna be a chore if I follow through with it..