A couple of questions from last night's session... (SPOILERS for House of 3 Squires)

I ran the second session of The House of Three Squires last night. A lot of fun. This is the first dungeon-style crawl rpg I’ve run and it’s neat. The players are curious to explore! That said, I’ve got a few things I wanted to clear up:

[li]When do I initiate a conflict, and when do I simply make something a versus test? Right now I’m going by the feel at the table and pacing. 1-2 conflicts per session as the books says.
[/li][li]One of the players did a scavenger test to find some wine in the inn itself. I was debating on having this be a “good idea”, but decided to make him roll since the house seemed thoroughly ransacked. Fair? He got the wine with a condition, and man did that hurt the group.
[/li][li]They jumped into a kill conflict with the giant rats and two PCs died! It was an exciting conflict and they got to describe their character’s deaths. Should I have done that? It was part of the compromise discussion, so that seemed correct, but I wasn’t sure if this was similar to them losing a roll and having the GM take over their characters for a moment (describing the deaths).
[/li][li]In that rat conflict, I totally missed the might rule (didn’t see it until this morning) about the +1s for successful attack actions! I’m pretty sure this would’ve kept two of their characters alive. I feel terrible about this. We made new characters for them after the session for next time and the story has continued. I’ve forgotten rules before and just let them know that I’m learning the game as well, but this is a big one. Do I owe them anything? I want to be fair, but retconning those cool deaths seems lame. Advice? Should I even bring it up?


  1. You should go with what feels right for you, though I think usually encountering something hostile calls for a conflict. But if it’s not a dramatic or pivotal moment it’s probably fine to abbreviate it with a versus test.
  2. I think that’s fair. If you were looking for wine in a full wine cellar, that would be a Good Idea (though there might be a Criminal test to shoplift it out assuming anyone’s around to see).
  3. That sounds great! The GM usually describes a failure so that they can incorporate a twist into the description (I assume that’s the reason) but if it’s part of a kill conflict I don’t see any reason not to let your players describe how their characters died heroically! It’s nice that they were into the drama enough to go for that instead of just being pouty about dying, so I say let them go for it! Actually, now that I think about it, you should always let you players describe their deaths. Death isn’t a twist, it’s a condition, which means they always succeed at what they were doing when they die, which means they describe how it went down.
  4. Tell them. It sounds like they weren’t too bitchy about their characters dying in the first place, and they’re probably already getting attached to their new characters, so it doesn’t sound like they’ll hate you forever. Admitting mistakes can help build trust too.

Hi Jesse,

Sounds like you’re doing just fine!

  1. It’s largely a feel thing and pacing thing. In general, if they’re doing something that feels important and falls into one of the 8 standard conflict types, I make it a conflict.

  2. That seems reasonable to me. If the players were in area 3 when that player searched, Good Idea would have been very reasonable.

  3. Sounds just fine to me! One thing that I like a great deal about this game is that the players know that they’re on the hook when they seek to kill, which often means the decision to kill is not an easy one! To reinforce that, it’s really important that they pay the consequences for that decision when they fail. As for describing their own deaths, I think it’s fine. It would also be fine if you had described the deaths. When deaths have occurred while I’m running, there’s often a little back and forth between me and the player to get the details right.

  4. It’s a game with a lot of moving parts. They’re going to miss rules sometimes and you will miss other rules as well. It happens. It sounds like your players are pretty well adjusted and enjoyed themselves regardless. I’d explain what happened and ask them to help you remember the rule going forward. I wouldn’t retcon at this point. By the same token, if you forget a rule at some point and it helps them, don’t retcon that either. Just note it and try to remember next time!

jovialbard, I owe you a coke! :slight_smile:

Haha, do you have any mountain dew?

Cool. Thanks for the advice! I’m retaining more rules with each session. I gotta say that knowing Mouse Guard has helped with the big-picture stuff, but has been a problem in keeping the little details correct.

I’m working my way up to Burning Empires, but that will be a while, heh.

I told my players that BW and Burning Empires have 10 or 12 or whatever possible actions during conflicts and they’re like: “INSANE. We’re still afraid to use Feint!”

I love Feint, because no matter how many times I’ve scripted a feint and it didn’t work out for me, all I ever remember are the awesome moments when it does.

Feint is so rewarding in Mouse Guard and Torchbearer. You’re only truly vulnerable against attack. 3 in 4 odds are pretty good!

Anyway, it sounds like you’re doing great. The game is pretty robust; it shouldn’t implode if you get a rule or two wrong. Once you internalize the rules, it should flow pretty smoothly.

Definitely this. I just finished running my second session and it went so much smoother and everything really popped.