4 Players - 2 Obstacles


i had a thought about luck, checks and obstacles.

Does MG brake when players are lucky? Let’s take the standard Grain Peddler example. Let’s say Kenzie rolls against the grain peddler uses a trait to get 2 checks but still rolls well and the GP looses hard. Then there is another check for Lieam from the map.

Then we are in the Player Turn.


2 simple obstacles still seem to be a bit low for a 4 player patrol. That’s why i am leaning torwards complex obstacles/conflicts(you can really farm checks here). Of course Kenzie could still decide to forgo help and stuff but then you really start to metagame and some characters don’t really are like that.
Am i making a to huge deal about this? I still love MG and think this can be overcome by clever GMing and a bit of player metagaming but still… It seems like a valid point.

You can always throw in another obstacle if you think things are progressing too quickly. It doesn’t make any difference to the players whether you planned a certain obstacle from the beginning, or introduced it on the fly, as long as you can pull it off. You could even pick a couple of back-ups to have on hand, just in case. You just want it to feel like a natural result of success and progression, rather than a derailment or complication a la twists. That really has more to do with how you frame the new obstacle than what it is. For instance, one session my players had just crossed a stream on their way to Sprucetuck, and I introduced a cart stuck in the muddy road. The farm mice trying to free their cart were on their way to Sprucetuck as well, with a load of handicrafts to sell at the Vernalstar market. Because they were trying to travel in the same direction as the mice in my patrol, this new obstacle fed into the journey and helped expand the world. On the other hand, if the farm mice had been going in a completely different direction, or desired the patrol’s help with something completely unrelated to their destination and mission, it could have come across as a derailment and complication (the way, say, a guardmouse getting swept downriver or carried off by a hawk would have forced the patrol to put their plans on hold and search for him).

The Seasons chapter has a million awesome ideas for weather related obstacles, and these will almost always feel appropriate (as long as you don’t introduce a blizzard in the summer or something ridiculous like that), so they might be especially good back-up obstacles if you haven’t already used a weather-related obstacle. They would differ from weather-related twists in that they must correspond to the weather you introduced at the beginning of the session. So if it is hot and dry, you could start a grass fire the players must escape or hide from. In early spring, have the players cross a stream swollen with snowmelt. Etc, etc.

Also, I think complex obstacles are awesome, particularly if they can be solved multiple ways. Usually, I’ll introduce the new obstacle (for example, the cart stuck in the mud), tell the players the level of difficulty of the most obvious way of overcoming it is (“It will require an ob5 Health test to free the cart with brute force”) and then let the players figure the rest out. In this case, the players chose to forage for for a stick to use as a lever, though they also considered setting up a block-and-tackle. River crossings are one of my favorite obstacles, actually, because there are so many ways to tackle them, and players can surprise you with their ingenuity. Maybe they’ll choose to wade into the icy water - or maybe they’ll choose to build a boat, or look for a friendly turtle to give them a ride; you never know.

I’m ran the Grain Peddler sample mission three times, and in two of them players were lucky. Between two and four hours each. It did not feel short. And you can always start a second Players’ Turn after the end of the first.

I don’t think it breaks when players are lucky as there are times when the GM will get lucky too. The biggest reason I don’t think it “breaks” is because during the player turn, Kenzie and Lieam (or whoever earned a few checks) is allowed to use his checks to start his own conflict or attempt other checks (meaning more chances for twists and conditions during the player’s turn). A good example would be a journey conflict to Barkstone. Even if the weather was Spring and Clear and Warm you could say they had a harsh snowy winter (which winter isn’t harsh when you’re a mouse) and that the warmth is melting the snow and making travelling difficult. Have the Season (Spring 6-Snow, Mud, Rain, Flooding) vs the Guard in a Conflict. With 4 mice though they would probably slaughter this as they would probably be rolling a 4 (if it’s something they are good at) and then having 3 teamwork die for at least a 7 and that’s before they add in other skills and wises and if they’re great at it then it would be a 9 to start which is about what you would probably be rolling each turn for the weather. They’ll still need to be lucky though. I found with large teams or two teams of mice it’s good to have the same on the opposing force, so say have them go against a group of 3 weasels or 2 teams of 2 weasels. When you put them up against something that is the same as them. LUCK will play a much bigger part.
I recently ran a session in Summer where the players obtained Ducks as mounts to fly from Grasslake to Sprucetuck which was under siege by ants. The mission was for them to obtain a mount (Obstacle 1 was a Conflict with an Animal) to get there as fast as possible and then they had to get Supplies to deliver from Lockhaven (Obstacle 2 was going to be a Mouse obstacle to obtain the supplies for Sprucetuck but as part of the comprimise for the Duck conflict I made it that they had to do a complex obstacle to obtain the items for trout a la creme (that was the way they convinced the ducks to take them, the promise of exotic foods). So Obstacle 2 was a complex obstacle with rather large Obstacles (finding trout, finding creme and foraging for herbs) rather than a single check for an obstacle. They passed ALL of these with no failure at all (although they did give a comprimise to the ducks in the conflict). 2 of them had earned a check (so 2 for the player turn with their free one) and then the third only got his free check. One of them got the supplies given to them by Gwendolyn and handled his Anger while laboring, another got a boat that they converted into a saddle to hold the supplies and aid them in the transport of the goods, the third one of them ate to relieve his Hunger (he had his parents there so I didn’t charge him a check) and he obtained a map of secret entrances to Sprucetuck, the first one then replaced his spear from two sessions ago and then to my surprise they had done a Weather Watcher at the beginning of the session and chosen flash floods (they thought it might help them get rid of the ants next session) and the same one of them decided he wanted to use one of his checks for a Journey conflict. I said, that’s excellent. The summer thunderstorm has some lightning and so the ducks have to fly low in the trees to lower the risk of being struck by lightning but this obviously poses its own risks. He agreed and we started rolling. I did actions in the conflict like a Feint was a surprise gust of wind that tried to slam them into trees and an Attack was lightning hitting a nearby tree and the ducks had to get out of the way of falling shrapnel and a Maneuver was disorienting fog and heavy rain that led them to disadvantaged positions (like closer to the tops of the hills to expose them to lightning). The result was the ducks almost crash landing outside of the city almost a mouse mile away but it was near Sprucetuck to where their maps were relevant and the supplies were safely in the boat they were using as a makeshift saddle. Everyone had a great time and although there were not many failures (if any) it was very fun for them and for me to run it. Also, it took us to right at the four hour mark to play this session with the GM Turn, Player’s Turn and Rewards.
Also, in the case of the Grain Peddler mission with multiple teams I would have had one of the obstacles be the Scout Obstacle and the second one I would of had to fight off a Snake that had tracked him down (but not eaten him yet) and then went to the Player Turn for them to use their checks (like to find the map and go to Barkstone) to complete their goals.