Actual Play: Grasslake building and Rustleaf Musfire

Here is another actual play report. It does need some additional details, but I’m tired at the moment. I’ll return to describe the mission better at another time.

Hello all, here are some notes of the events from the Summer 1153 session 1. In our next schedule, we’ll have another Summer 1153 session approximately following the events from this session.

Prologue & Foreshadow

In the past session, our patrol dealt a bit of therapists’ role for Florette and Lester. It was an eccentric situation and not aligned to Guard duties, but the patrol took it upon themselves to handle the matter in a fantastic manner.

The summer heat has arrived in Grasslake, and prairies are active with many animals and robust plant growth. The patrol are asked to offer compensation to Grasslake militia for receiving lessons in hare riding.

Assignments & BIGs

As the summer heat waves arose in the prairies surrounding Grasslake, Cpt Isabel had arrived from a visit in Wolfepointe to issue new orders. The patrol has been gaining experience with hare riding from lessons offered by Grasslake militia. Isabel orders the patrol to offer a gift of extending the existing stables, then get to Rustleaf before the Musfire festivities.

We reviewed BIGs, and those perhaps need some additional work to refine.

GM Turn Hazards & Conditions

Building work is a significant challenge, and represents a hazard from the affairs of mice. Having few skills for building, Grdms J initially attempted to demolish portions of the stables for renovation, but had no serious plan to rebuild. The patrol followed up by hiring a builder to manage the chore.

We had a brief Player Turn before the next mission task.

Trekking to Rustleaf was a fairly modest undertaking, and not as serious a trip as the initial travel to reach Grasslake, but Isabel had given the suggestion to escort mice headed to Rustleaf. She was also hopeful the patrol could borrow hares from Grasslake to increase the reputation of the mounted corp in Rustleaf Musfire events. The patrol needed to convince militia captain Brahm to loan hares and supplies for feeding. He negotiated they take some mice along–mice he doesn’t tend to like escorting. One of those happened to be Grdms J’s enemy from Pt Sumac, Marc.

Player Turn Checks & Conditions

In the first Player Turn, the patrol focused on recovery and logging activities for Lockhaven archives.

In the second Player Turn, once in Rustleaf, the patrol has some additional recovery, but also had some competing in the games and a bit of relationship work with Marc to gain trust and eliminate his long-held grudge. He is a potential supplier for the mounted corps.

I remembered today that I need to fill some details better. In the game, we have several text notes left on the virtual tabletop which add to reminders of what happened. yet, in the report, it is not as easy to see the details of this mission.

In my foreshadow, hopefully, the notes of weather and animal activity are noted. During the GM Turn, I determined the weather to be a heat wave, and alerted the players of that condition. Later, they did see a fox with kits and a raccoon. I’ll get those matters more detailed today.

Also, I removed any lingering conditions from the previous session, but did not grant the Healthy status except to one mouse who issued the prologue and alleviated Angry by that means. I’ve been giving a +1D for Healthy (nicked from Torchbearer). So, players were able to begin having alleviated the lingering conditions (which was only Angry), but only one had a +1D for tests from being Healthy.

There is some work to do on BIGs, but that’s not something I’m bringing to these forums at this time. There is also some work on my part to better stomp on Beliefs and be more mindful of Instinct triggers. I have not been intentional about it in mission design.

With the heat wave, all labor had a chance to cause Sick. Travel also had a chance to cause Sick. So, the intent was to challenge the idea of spending hot summer days out working and trekking. I’m not sure it hit hard. Yet, I did not use it as a factor for tests, which I think might have improved the sentiment that choosing to be out working or trekking in the heat wave was folly to begin with.

The mission assignment to build a stables extension for Grasslake militia does not fit the duties terribly well, but it is fitting for our campaign. The desire on Isabel’s part is to have a place where Grasslake can increase the breeding stock of hares and potentially offer a place for Lockhaven breeders to learn and for riders to train. At the moment, I’m not being a stickler about having Loremouse trained in order to ride. I’m just treating the riding lessons as a narrative chore. I’m a bit undecided on really making a skill of it, or perhaps making it a wise which each patrol mate needs to gain.

My inclination is to encourage some sort of wise that will serve to assist a rider when dice roll cowards on a test in which they are riding, but I don’t feel inclined to force the number of tests needed to advance a skill via Beginner’s Luck. So, I might have an easy decision ahead.

The work of building the stables began with table chatter on the idea of what skill would be a good fit. None of the patrol mates are rated in a typical building skill of Carpenter or Stonemason. In that way, it would have been Beginner’s Luck or Nature tests. But, one cloakmouse is rated in Laborer, and that seemed a good fit for demolition work and some effort toward new construction. With a patrol mate offering Rabbits & Hares-wise, they were all reminded that rabbits are willing to burrow, but hares are not; hares prefer above ground nests. It was meant to inform the decisions about design of the structure.

As for the table chatter, it was a bit more directed at mechanics of what skill works, and toward the risk of attempting Beginner’s Luck. In the end, it felt a little rigid, but the patrol chose a plan to use a rated skill of Laborer, and draw upon Persona to tap Nature. It turned out coward dice, but only slim margin of failure. I used that as a chance to give the Injured condition. I chose that for a chance to practice recovery, and it seemed a good way to say, “Yes, you get to work demolishing a wall and you’ll have quite a bit of work to connect an extension, but your demolition was well done. Only, you were injured by having an unsupported beam fall.” I didn’t feel a twist in this case was quite right.

In contrast, that’s exactly what I had planned in my notes for the mission. I was going to have a weather twist in which the heat wave produced a massive hail storm. In the midst of building, the patrol would be faced with requests from the militia to assist with gathering the hail into the cisterns for water. Following the heat wave, Grasslake doesn’t want to have a drought, so gathering all the ice would be a benefit. And, they’d have a distraction from the building effort while also facing that the hail might damage the unfinished portions. So, I forgot that available twist until later.

Following the injury, patrol mates conferred and realized that building was a poor choice. They opted for a revised plan in which they hired in builders. That was a good opportunity for a Resources test. They passed the resources test, but I was thinking it was a good spot to consider the weather twist. With the success, I told them of the hail storm, and (as they were not doing the work) the invitation from the militia to gather ice into the cisterns. As it was not a Twist from coward dice, I just said they all got to work and got the job done. No need for an additional test and the risks from rolling dice–it was like a ‘Good Idea’ moment; since, they hired a builder and paid well, they were free to do other tasks without factors.

So, I did have the weather remain in heat wave state, even after the hail storm. A short player turn allowed for recovery attempt(s). It was fairly simple, and having given the condition recently, I felt this was a good time for practicing the rules and mechanics for recovery.

As a note, I did not give the full building chore as Success w/ Condition(s) in the case of Laborer. I felt Laborer does not resolve the scope and scale of building. I should have been more clear in table chatter that course of action would only go so far. In my mind, they succeeded as demolition crew with an injury for one and exhaustion for a patrol mate. But, that would not resolve the need to build–that was covered by hiring a builder.

Returning to the GM Turn, the patrol needed to trek to Rustleaf before Musfire. Having hired a builder, and recovered of the conditions, they had to think whether they wanted to borrow hares or go without. They decided to speak with Brahm, and used Persuader (patrol) Vs Haggler (Brahm) to convince him to allow them hares and supplies of rations and other needs for travel. His retort included the desire to see that some mice were escorted who he finds irritating.

So, that became the first portion of a complex series. It ensured having hares and supplies.

I emphasized the warning that trekking in the heat wave was a challenge, and set them to work on the next portion of the task. This portion was the route and camps. It would be a few nights of wilderness camping along one of two possible routes. One route was rolling prairie under hot sunshine; the other route was just along the marshy edge through forest growth with shade, but also muddy, marshy lake shore. They opted for the prairie route. This held greater risk of becoming sick in the heat wave while the other route would have avoided that risk.

I don’t think I expressed that well, but it goes that way sometimes.

With the route and camps at stake, a Pathfinder test (coward dice) and Survivalist test (success) were required. They did fine on the route, but did end up Sick. They had fine camps for the needs, and the mice under escort were even pleased. This moment allowed for more role-play than table chatter as one of the mice under escort was an enemy. That allowed discussion and apologies, and complaints and accusations. It was discovered that damages from goods in Pt Sumac were not reimbursed by Lockhaven, so this enemy had made several efforts to damage the career of the Guardmouse responsible. But, she did a good job turning the tables by offering an opening to become a supplier for the mounted corps.

I need to return and clarify, but that’s a neat turn of events for the role of enemy. Rather than play entirely defensive, the cloakmouse created a peace offering. That’s a good way to turn around that relationship and build upon campaign objectives. It was spontaneous good thinking and a good example of leadership. If the player is interested in turning that contact from enemy to friend (or at least neutral), there is a good start. If they want to keep that contact as enemy, it makes a juicy twist if he becomes a supplier on whom the mounted corps relies.

After arrival in Rustleaf, there was another round of recovery attempts, and I sort of created an interesting snake oil moment. I’ll need to explain a bit. There are basically three routes to recovery: try on your own, get a healer to test, or take the scar via Suck It Up or Sweat It Out. I know that’s not the terms from Mouse Guard, but you’re with me, right? Rather than attempt the Ob 4 Will test to recover from Sick, and worried about the patrol mate rated in Healer, the players wanted to buy something to recover from heat sickness. That’s not one of the basic paths to recovery.

I’m not sure about why we didn’t test Circles to find a healer, but Resources was already on the table from earlier, and I saw an opportunity to attempt another practice of Resources. In this case, the test was similar to a Circles Ob for finding a healer. The factors seemed to be: something uncommon, it will probably work, and only one is needed. Once that pass was rolled, I used the NPC stats for a healer and tested just as though they found a NPC. But, one difference here is that they don’t have a contact to return to in future. Not even a merchant name who sells this stuff. And, they have no recipe to make this using Healer or Brewer (or maybe Miller).

What they do have is a chance this won’t work at all, and they have no one to blame but themselves. They also have a chance to attempt creating a recipe to make the concoction for themselves. It could be complex like a test of Harvester to gather the proper blend of herbs, Miller to dry and powder the herbs, Brewer to steep the tea just so, and Healer to distill and bottle the elixir. Perhaps later, the recipe can be better recorded with an Archivist test and they can reduce the number of tests for creating these little peppy potions. And, maybe there is a potential test for creating more consistent results which don’t call for GM to roll out a test whether is resolves their recovery. So, although it is not a contact like having a Circles test, I think there are some really positive stories ahead if they want to work on having recipes for recovery items.

Lastly, I wanted to note the forging of a knife for Marc, the enemy, as it was a good chance to accomplish a Goal and use a rated skill. This was just a means of spending a check in the Player Turn, and worked toward that effort to make a peace offering. I chose the knife for being Ob 1, and I, as GM, rolled for a player that had been present, but got dropped from Roll20. It was a success, and that’s beneficial for advancement in addition to the story purpose. So, it’s a fairly nice knife, made in short order, and serves to strengthen the relationship.