Action oriented macros?

First post so let’s see…
While in the BW book it has a lot of extensive (and quite good) explanations as to how an instinct works, I was wondering if they work the same in MG? I’ll give an example.

Mouse Instinct: Always check the weather each morning.
I, as the GM, translate this as a weather watch check, which is what my player was intending. (although it might have been a pre-made character from the book)

Does this allow the character a free test in the morning? Even during the GM turn? Does the player need a check in order to get the test or without the check will it simply be roleplay. In burning wheel it certainly would, but I’m unsure about player power during the GM turn. Thanks for any input!

This post seems a little out of place so I thought I should rephrase.

Can instincts perform tests? Should they be designed to do just that? Should I put in a twist if they fail?


Instincts in MG are different than Instincts in BW. They aren’t about protecting your character or gaining actions, they’re just about encouraging you to add to everyone’s experience every session by roleplaying out your instinct.

For instance, I just played a Patrol Leader whose instinct was: “Always make sure my patrol mates’ bellies are full every evening.”

At the end of the last session, during the players’ turn, I made sure to spend one of my checks to cook for the patrol.

I didn’t get the test for free. I had to spend the check to do it.

If it’s something you could roll for, then roll. If the player fails the roll, a twist or condition is in order.

If it’s something you can roleplay out without having to roll, that’s OK too.

Right on, I can see that. An example I can think of that proves the difference is instincts like “Draw my dagger at the first sign of trouble” As far as I’m aware your weapon being drawn is not really part of the combat step. If it’s conceivable to have your weapon then it’s drawn and ready. In that example it doesn’t give you a mechanical bonus to combat.
I gotta say I still feel open ended about this. It’s a strong enough answer that I can easily say to my players “no you don’t get a free test, the instinct is just a guideline for roleplay” but something makes me hesitate still. Since I can’t pin down my problem you should probably ignore me.
Thanks again for the response.

As you suspect, it isn’t about a mechanical advantage; it’s about saying to the GM “Here’s how to push me. Challenge me on this and you’ll see some interesting conflict.”

With the example of pulling your weapon at the first sign of trouble, you face the character with a danger that isn’t violence: a local crowd antagonizes the character, or someone jumps out of the shadows (it’s a frightened little mouse). The character pulls a weapon.

Just tell them they’re not playing BW. :stuck_out_tongue: The MG text is very explicit on how Instincts work in MG.

Besides which, most “macros” from BW simply aren’t needed in MG since the timing is a lot more fluid.