I´m planning to gamemaster a session of mouseguard. However, I read the book and I have a few questions:
1- How do I determine a team´s starting disposition? I know it´s the player who initiated the conflict the one who test the skill, but how do I know which one began it in a fight?
2- I didn´t quite understand the Journey Conflict? Is it a way to shorten several days of travelling with only a couple of actions? I thought about using it to reflect the life of a mouseguard on the road, but it appears to be to fast for it…
3- One of my players might want to play with a mouse which is not on the Guard, how would you adress that?
In a fight conflict, it’s normally the person who first decides it’s come down to a fight (if that’s a player). If it’s not up to any of the players, it’s often the patrol leader or the patrol’s “fighter,” if there is one so specifically focused. Go with what makes sense.
It’s not about shortening a journey, necessarily, but rather drawing attention to a particular period of conflict, difficulty or action during the trip, no matter if it’s 1 day or 2 weeks of travel. The rest is simply described in whatever fashion you like.
I’m not sure that would be a good idea. That person would basically stand outside of the needs of a mission and a common basis with the Guard. A Mouse Guard patrol is very mobile, but also very diverse in terms of who is in the Guard. Not everyone has to be a soldier because it’s not an army, exactly. Guard Mice are medics, thinkers, fighters, strategists, explorers, survivalists, etc. There’s really no reason not to have a non Guard Mouse in the patrol since virtually any kind of mouse can be suited to the Mouse Guard.
Yes! I does make sense… I thought something like that, but I was afraid that was some kind of rule I missed…
same as above!
Well, he really wants to be some kind of “mouse pirate”, a roquish character son of a deceased mouseguard… not being a mouseguard seens to be the core of his idea, but the recruitment rules are made for mouseguards only.
You don’t play pirates in Mouse Guard, you fight them. Seriously, you play the Mouse Guard in Mouse Guard. It’s right there on the tin! But he can play a guardmouse who’s from a seaside town and has the Boatcrafter skill. So his history can include a bit of the seafaring adventure, but his character is Mouse Guard now.
If I were running it? I would see if he would go with a backstory of being pressed into service by Gwendolyn. She’s a very smart and capable leader and depending on where you’re setting the story in the timeline (Winter 1152 specifically), strapped on resources and mouse-power. Perhaps something linked in his backstory. Avenge father, repay a debt to the Guard for being saved, likes shiney things and Gwendolyn is paying him. Who knows? As long as it keeps him with those of the team she has assigned him to and allows the story to flow easily it doesn’t matter in the long run if he’s Guard or not. Maybe if he works out well he’ll become one. Not every mouse who was ever important to the territories served with the Guard. The Defender Trait (pg. 263) hints at mice who were not of the Guard but took up arms to defend during the Winter War of 1149. Why can’t an underhanded sailor whose father was a Guard mouse?
I’d have him create a character by the ruleset to keep him on an even mechanical basis with the rest of the players but backstories are things of words that should be looked at with an eye of makign things work out for everyone.
Mouse Guard is a game about doing your duty in the face of the impossible. Sure, this pirate mouse might help out the Guard once, but what happens after his debt is repaid and it’s the middle of winter and it’s time to go back out on the ice? He’s got no obligation and the player has no motivation.
And while we like to think that are our players are all going to play Han Solo, but they don’t. They take the path of least resistance.
I’d say “OK, you want to be a mouse pirate. Tell me why you’re going on missions with the Mouse Guard.” It’s not your job to provide an explanation for his character to be involved in the game - you’ve already offered one (you’re a member of the Mouse Guard), if he doesn’t like that I would say it’s his responsibility to come up with a viable alternative.
That said it might be worthwhile talking with him about why he doesn’t want to play a Guardsmouse, because this could be a symptom of something larger.
Some players don’t want their characters to be part of a Organization or to be under the command of another PC - often they have some lack of trust that the other player won’t abuse their position. You migt be able to calm his fears - point out how they could use the conflict system to handle intraparty disputes on the players turn, with mechanical backing.
He might also be engaging in some kind of niche protection - if everyone is a guardsmouse his character might not feel “special” enough. That one might be tougher to deal with but you can try to convince him that having a specialization within the context of the group is just as good.
On the other hand, maybe playing a Guardsmouse and doing Guardsmouse things just doesn’t interest him as much as being a pirate and doing pirate things. This is the biggest danger since it means that this game is not for him, and he’s going to be dissatisfied and likely to be disruptive. Either suggest he sit this one out, or post your Mouse Pirates hack over in the appropriate forum.
Now this can be true if the player and the GM don’t have an understanding before hand. If they discuss the character’s progression and plan out how it will end before hand it can make for those great role-playing moments. Granted unexperienced gamers may have trouble with this but with cooperation and communication it could make a good story. MouseGuard is about conflicts, both personal and external. Facing a crossroads where you must choose either your selfish nature or the more noble path of those whom you have walked with can be a great moment. While it would be a little unorthodox the key is planning and agreement.
If we all played by how things should always be, Hobbits would never leave the Shire and go off with crazy old Wizards on grand adventures. Farmer kids from Tatooine would never take up saving the universe. Certain unmentionable Drow would never take up twin scimitars and fight against his whole race. These characters are already acting outside the bounds of what is considered normal for them. That’s why they’re characters.
Does this mean this particular group could do it well, or even at all? I don’t know. I’ve seen this scenario happen before and it was some great roleplay. It does take a bit of planning and experienced players that have a good relationship with their storyteller never hurts. I just think it shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Saying they always take the path of least resistance is a bit extreme don’t you think?
You know 4 Crow, I appreciate what you’re saying. However, I don’t think your advice is appropriate in a thread entitled “Newbie Questions.” You yourself note that “unexperienced gamers may have trouble with this.”
So why don’t we endeavor to read the original posts and do our best to answer those questions and give the best advice? We want newbie players to have the best experience possible with the game, don’t we?
Actually, I might have confused you a bit with the “newbie” thing… me and my friends played other RPGs for a long time, but we´re gonna try MouseGuard of the first time. Now, I´m gonna go with the pirate´s idea, even knowing that it might be a disaster awaiting to happen… the first time the guard and the outlaw meet it will probably have some problems, but I think I will convince the player to be “drafted” by Gwendolyn by the end of the session…
The GM’s job isn’t to convince a player of anything. His job is to challenge Beliefs and give the player the opportunity to be a hero. The player gets to decide his reaction. The game is, in fact, more player-centric than most other RPGs. Thus this experiment is unlikely to go as planned.
You can do whatever you want with the game, I’m just trying to help you get the most of your first experience.