We’re all new to Mouse Guard. The GM and myself have both read the rulebook twice, while the other two players know nothing. I don’t know if it was intentional, but we played the entire session without the rules for Persona Points, Fate or Checks.
Mouse Guard is unlike any other RPG we’ve played before. In particular I’m struggling with the concept of the GM and player turns. I thought they’d be alternating every 20-30 minutes, but the GM said it was more like 1-2 hours. I read the rules again since and it looks like he’s correct.
I’d really appreciate experienced players pointing out anything we’re doing wrong. The story telling aspect works great, and I love the character generation in particular the belief, goal and instinct. However I’m finding Conflicts unbelievably clunky and a barrier to good role-play.
Just for fun I’m writing this from the point of view of my character Osric. He’s a tenderpaw in his second year, desperately trying not to flunk out like last year.
His attitude comes across rather self centred and bitter, but it’s worth noting he spent almost the entire session tired and angry.
I don’t know the months of the Mouse Guard calender so I’m guessing. (Vernalstar is the Mouse festival to welcome spring)
[i]6th of Vernalstar 1153
It’s a new year and our patrol is ready to depart Lockhaven on it’s first mission. It’s a simple mail delivery with an unusual twist. There’s no mail bag, just a single sealed letter to be hand delivered to Calen the Patrol Captain at Port Sumac. I have no idea of the contents, but it must be of extreme importance. My mentor Brand and I have the great honour of being joined by the legendary hero Sloan the Explorer. If the tavern gossip is to be believed, he is the greatest swordsmouse in the entire Territories. We are to leave at dawn tomorrow and travel with all haste.
It is with great excitement and trepidation that I look forward to visiting my childhood town. It’s been over six years since I was forced to leave, and yet I still wonder how I will stand up to the bullies of my youth. I can only hope the old memories do not resurface, plaguing my nightmares once again with the images of my parents deaths.
I am pleased that the patrol has required use of my skills so early in the mission. I have double checked my calculations and am sure my weather watching is correct. The road to Darkwater is newly clear, and with my boating knowledge finding passage to Port Sumac should be easy.[/i]
Weather watching is a simple test against Spring. I pass and choose ideal travelling weather (I’ve only skim read the weather rules at this point)
[i]12th of Vernalstar 1153
I do not believe such a straightforward journey could be so exhausting! No trouble on the road, but the relentless pace has left the others so irritable. We’ve made it to Darkwater but finding a boat Captain willing to sail tomorrow was harder than expected. Brand is very displeased with the way we are being overcharged. Worst of all, I’m the one he takes it out on. I can’t wait until I’m a Mouse Guard. Today he had the nerve to set me some “Easy tasks to build my confidence”. What a joke! “Osric, pick up that drift wood for me will you”. I’m so sick of his arrogance.[/i]
Travel to Darkwater is resolved as a pathfinding conflict. We win, but lose half our deposition in the process. The GM rules that if we are unwilling to take any time penalty, all the mice are now angry and tired. This seems excessive to me, but I don’t know the rules well enough to argue the call. Besides GM word is law.
The whole conflict felt very mechanical and abstract. Didn’t work for me at all. At least the adventure improved dramatically past this point.
Picking up sticks was a table chatter joke. I added it to the story for colour. I assume Brand wanted to end the day with some wood carving as both he and Osric are carpenters. Osric fails to see this and storms off in a huff.
[i]13th of Vernalstar 1153
This was a day of great excitement. Best of all I preformed as a great hero. My initiative has saved us days, possibly even weeks of trouble.
The letter has been delivered, and I can’t say I was surprised when it contained additional instructions for us. Apparently Siemon one of the Port Sumac Mouse Guard is a suspected rebel from last years war. We are to return him to Lockhaven for questioning as quickly as possible. Captain Calen turned pale as he revealed that even as we spoke Siemon was boarding a boat the “Short Leg Runner” for a mission to Lonepine. There was no time to waste. I threw my armour to Sloan and sprinted off leaving them with the words “I’ll bring him back. Be ready.” A childhood of fleeing bullies came back to me, and I flew through the streets of Port Sumac with easy familiarity. I arrived on the docks to find Siemon still discussing travel plans with the boat captain. He was very reluctant to come with me, but I played the role of a flustered tenderpaw who’s just passing on a message. He fell for it like a stone, and we were soon heading back to Captain Calen to clarify his orders. Clearly I have natural acting talent!
As we returned I could see Brand and Sloan still arguing over their plans, I could only hope Siemon did not guess at their intentions. I have to admit Brand’s solution was pretty clever. We have convinced Siemon that he is urgently needed in Lockhaven to repair tunnel damage and prevent flooding. You could visibly see him stand taller when told that Gwendolyn had specifically asked for him by name. Fortunately I was on hand to improvise. The others don’t have any science knowledge at all.
Siemon has extensive contacts in Port Sumac, he practically walked into Dain a boat captain on walking out the Mouse Guard offices. We’ll sail back to Darkwater tomorrow.[/i]
Conversations with Calen are role-played without mechanics.
Running to the docks and persuading Siemon to return to Calen are simple tests (health and persuade). Although I was unbelievably lucky in having Osric pass both.
Deceiving Siemon is critical to the story and is resolved as a Conflict. It feels strange, but I guess we’ll get better at it. Brand’s player really struggles to come up with a new line for every attack without repeating himself. It’s a very close conflict, but we luck out with a feint against a defend and the line “Gwendolyn has asked for you personally.” We’ve lost almost all our disposition and the GM awards the compromise that Siemon is very suspicious.
The GM rolled a Circles Test for Siemon to find a boat, and rolled a massive 5 successes. Not sure if that’s good for him or us.
[i]14th of Vernalstar 1153
The boat is steady and the weather calm, I’ve got a spare moment to write my journal.
I am so pissed off with Brand’s actions today.
As we were boarding his boat Wind Walker, Dain revealed that there is not adequate supplies for 5 mice. Sloan attempted to get him to leave anyway, but he insisted in stocking up on food. Things were quiet for ten minutes after he left and then all chaos broke loose.
Next thing I know my patrol begins casting off the boat. Siemon is as shocked as I am and rightly accuses Sloan of stealing his friends boat. Sloan then draws his sword, commanding Siemon to remain seated. Siemon then pulls out a pair of knives and battle commences! All the while Brand is yelling at me to sail the boat out of the harbour. I am torn in anguish. I can’t steal a boat. Especially not here in my hometown. I’ve had enough time in the courts as it is. I wanted so much to make a good impression on my old acquaintances. But I can’t disobey a direct order from my mentor. I’d never become a Mouse Guard. And without the Mouse Guard I’ll be alone in the world again.
The suspect Siemon has been restrained, and we’re on the return trip to Lockhaven.[/i]
We’re not sure how to detect a secret communication between Siemon and Dain. The GM lets us all try to pass a listen check using Deceive. Brand passes using his Big Ears trait.
Dain is going to try and find out the contents of the letter we delivered.
Table chatter go nuts as we decide what to do. Sloan’s player is under extreme time pressure and has only ten minutes to resolve the scene. He argues for the direct approach of restraining Siemon and stealing the boat. I argue against this as it’s in direct violation of Osric’s goal for the session. (Stand proud of my achievements in my home town) Brand agrees with Sloan and a dramatic battle begins.
This is resolved as a fight conflict with Brand and Sloan against Siemon. Meanwhile Osric passes a boatcraft test to sail the vessel out of the harbour. As the conflict drags on this brings up an interesting point. How does a character go about entering a conflict late? Should the conflict have been larger to include the objective “Restrain Siemon while sailing out of the harbour”?
Although this was the low point of the mission for my character, as a player I find it very interesting to be forced to act in direct violation of my mission goals.