Actual Play Report: Deliver the Mail

So, I ran a game for newbs: ages 5 and 7 years old, with their pop (age 35+). It was a case of sharing a game to play which was not electronic. I chose to use the sample mission, Deliver the Mail.

Start: Guard Recruitment - 2 Guardmice (G and W)
Rather than throw pre-gens at the kids, I gave them an intro, asked them what sorts dangers mice would face, and started them on a path of Recruitment. I will save space–best line:
GM: “So, W, you save for winter, stand to fight, and fear the large predators; good, you have Nature 5. Okay, G. You save for winter, and stand to fight. The last question is, Do you fear owls, weasels, and wolves?”

G: “Um. Sorta, No.”

This is the 5 yr old. It killed. He just didn’t give eff about the large predators.

So, the creations became:

W, tawnyfur Guardmouse from Sprucetuck
A natural scientist, and insect wrangler, who is thoughtful and tough. He wears a dark red cloak, was apprenticed as an insect wrangler in Lockhaven. His mentor stressed fighting, so he made that his specialty, while also picking up some hunting, survival, and pathfinding. He’s particularly wise to Darkheather, and celebrations. This mouse carries a shield, but also carries bow and arrows.

G, brownfur Guardmouse from Ivydale
A natural scout, and harvester, who is a hard worker with a wolf’s snout. He wears a light green cloak, was apprenticed as an armorer in Lockhaven. His mentor stressed instruction, but he made hunting is specialty (remember, not afraid of large predators), while also practicing fighting, pathfinding, and scouting. He’s particularly wise to weeds, and Lockhaven. This mouse carries sword and shield.

Rather than having dad trudge through recruitment, since he was handling the grill and other food related tasks, I gave him an altered pre-gen to create the following:

Simon, blackfur Patrol Leader from Sprucetuck
A natural loremouse, and librarian, who is a brave, yet stoic mouse who has a keen weather sense. He wears a bright red cloak, was apprenticed as an insect wrangler in Lockhaven. His mentor stressed weather watching, and he made that his specialty, while also learning fighting, hunting, teaching, pathfinding, scouting, and survival. He’s particularly wise to weasels, poison, and rain.

Although I might be branded a heretic, I chose not to introduce BIGs to the kids and knew that dad was busy enough that it would be too much for his plate. I also ignored relationships (i.e. no parents, artisans, mentors, friends, enemies). I further truncated the process by skipping Circles and Resources questions in favor of giving base numbers.

I feel like dropping BIGs on the 5 and 7 yr old would have be workable, but I had limited time before bed. I wanted to play without too much worry. But you may see later that I got to include parents in the session.

GM Turn: Wow.
The mission was handed down from Gwendolyn to Simon, W, and G all at once: Take these two large mailbags, and this large messenger bag with a shiny buckle. The mail must be distributed to Elmoss, Sprucetuck, Dorigift, and Gilpledge. After that, you can find good things to do; maybe visiting Rootwallow, Shorestone, and Mapleharbor will fill your time, but don’t worry if you can’t make it to the additional settlements. Take care of the mail. Oh, by the way, that messenger bag with the shiny buckle must be delivered to Martin in Gilpledge. He’ll be expecting it.

W felt confident in his trail skills, so he started to suggest the route. Simon considered the difficulty of such a task to be a bit too great a risk, so W countered, “You can speak to hares; what if you go ask for the hares to carry us?”

This led from a simple obstacle of Pathfinder Ob 6, to a complex obstacle of Loremouse Ob 3, and Harvester vs Nature (Hare) 6. The idea was, once they spoke with the hares, they had to negotiate how to feed the hares for such a long run far from the warrens near Lockhaven. The team surprised me with all successes in both tasks. They really chose to rally for the Harvester test; with Hard Worker and Tapped Nature to successfully resolve daily foraging during the trek.

The patrol paused in Sprucetuck to visit W’s family. His parents were looking to move their research of wasps and hornets away from Sprucetuck. They were hoping to move into Rootwallow and begin the study of a large hornet’s nest near there. But, they complained to W, no one knew them, and it was so hard to get reestablished in a new place. Also, they worried, the spider-keepers of Rootwallow might be very upset for hornets to be studied so closely; they might feel these stinging insects would be a danger to the spiders which provide silk. W agreed he would look for someone in Rootwallow to take them in and help them relocate their research.

The patrol completed the mail route (having had all successes in their tests) without interruption. They proceeded to speak with Martin in Gilpledge. He pleaded for their help in recovering the heirloom rocking chair.

[now, by this time, the 5 yr old had left to watch tv. We had another player sit-in to finish G’s role in the patrol. the character morphed a bit in the hand-off.]

Martin explained himself, and W agreed without argument that the patrol would help him. Then Simon approached to ask what W had promised to Martin. Simon and G were not too pleased with the idea of roving across the border. The results of their discussion centered on persuading Martin how dangerous the request really was. He was still trying to haggle their service without a pricetag. Simon took lead on the difference of opinion–Haggler vs Persuader. Martin was a good haggler; he was certain that such a request was withing Guard duties and ought to be accepted. Simon, with the wise comments on Darkheather and weasels, was also completely clear: this task is worthy of the Guard, but is very dangerous, so Martin must negotiate with the hares (still giving a ride for mail carrying) to also ride outside the border, into Walnutpeck, and back with the chair.

Martin didn’t even know how to begin negotiating with the hares, so that failed. It created a Twist. The hares would not accept the risk, and might run off if asked twice. It was more foreboding even that a cool rain began to fall. The patrol was healthy enough to handle rain, but couldn’t expect the hares to help Martin.

Player Turn: Oops.
The entirely successful GM Turn indicated no one had gained a condition, there had been only one Twist due to Martin’s failure to negotiate with hares, and the group had earned no additional checks. Partly, I didn’t encourage that too strongly. But also, there were many distractions during the session.

Each mouse of the patrol had one check to spend. G was immediately decisive and wanted to leave town in order to patrol the other settlements Gwendolyn mentioned. He felt fearful of weasels (see that odd change after the new player took over? too bad; the 5 yr old would have rushed to battle). Thinking of his patrolmate leaving, W got it into his mind he could walk away from this dangerous request also. They may have promised, but they had placed the condition on Martin to work things out with the hares.

It was neat to watch this thought dawn upon the 7 yr old, “We can just walk out of town? I don’t have to follow through?”

So, I called on Simon to alert him of the two Guardmice under his command. He empathized. He was understanding. He spoke to Martin about their promise, they would help him recover the chair, but must call upon an additional patrol of Guard to help them fulfill the dangerous task. Martin reciprocated the compassion and promised to trust and wait patiently.

The patrol followed G’s pathfinding to reach Rootwallow. While there, Simon attended the nearby towns in search of another Patrol Leader. His successful circles test garnered the support of another patrol who would leave for Gilpledge and await his return (but could not stay through Summer). That had spent both G’s and Simon’s checks.

W wanted to follow through on his father’s request to find a place in Rootwallow. He searched for a family member. W doesn’t come from a huge family, but large enough that he might have a relative in Rootwallow. I noted he had an opportunity to use his talent for public speaking (orator) to try presenting a lecture about the value of good science in understanding the insects and that his parents will need help moving to Rootwallow for their research.

Unfortunately, he focused on a more personal approach and instead opted for circles. It was an unfortunate failure. He found a mouse, named Stephan, who claimed to be a great uncle and related by his father’s side. He would be pleased for research minded mice to come live with him. I warned the player, “Your mouse doesn’t know yet, but he will find out later, this mouse is lying. He wants to steal your parents’ research and claim it as his own. For now, you think he is family, but you’ll find out on a future visit that he was posing as family dishonestly.”

That was all checks spent.

End: Fun!
I did choose to bypass Rewards, since there had been no BIGs. I just congratulated the patrol on such an awesome delivery of their duties. They had some hot dice all evening aside from the final circles test by W. They had bypassed difficulties of failure. I did explain that was too bad, since it is a part of the game which is kinda enjoyable.

I’m not sure I’ll get to play again with the kids soon, but if I do, I’m going to introduce Beliefs (at the least). That is complex, but it allows for the kids to begin looking at motivation.

I did talk about using Traits both for and against, but no one gave that a try. I’d like to introduce that in a future session too. Since they kinda felt the loss of not getting many actions in the PT, I think it will be simple to explain that when Traits work against you, you get to do more in the PT.