i’m blackhathedgehog, a new member of the forum! i’m here to ask for some guidance about how to run my current (rather rowdy) Patrol. We’ve been really enjoying the game so far, but i’m looking on how to step-up my game.
- i have no RPG experience other than a few informal games back in college
- None of the six players of the Patrol have any RPG experience at all
- We’ve been playing for a few months (Grain Peddler twice, then we just completed our fifth mission last weekend)
- i’m still defining player expectations for what sort of universe they want to explore
So far, i’ve mostly been focused on modifying missions either from the rulebook or from session reports that are available online – they’ve been a great asset and thanks to everyone who has ever contributed a Mouse Guard session report on this website or others.
i have various gaps in my own play (of course, as a new GM), but i’m looking less for tips to improve myself and more for potential directions to challenge the Patrol. Currently we have:
- Patrol Leader
- Mouse-orientated, mostly focused on journalism and record-keeping. Not really much for fighting and recently has almost completely lost control of the Patrol (eg, everyone walks over him all the time). Currently working with the player to help setup a backbone.
(OLD Belief): It is not enough to only know that something occurs, but also why, in order to find the solution.
Belief: It is my responsibility to teach my patrol new skills
Instinct: I must note down important information and observations as soon as possible.
- Patrol Guard 1
- Independent, unnaturally talented with fast fingers and ability to create tools. Has difficulty with Tenderpaws, due to an unfortunate habit of getting them killed.
Belief: Even the most useless-seeming things can be repurposed and given new life.
Instinct: If you don’t have what you need but you have the materials to make it, make it.
- Patrol Guard 2
- Combat-focused mouse. A small war-hero of the Winter War
Belief: Every problem has a solution if you stick with it long enough!
Instinct: If time allows, preparing now saves time later.
- Guard Mouse 1
- Healer-focused mouse. Generally values the safety and emotional strength of the Patrol over solely completing the mission.
Belief: There’s good to be found in every person and situation.
Instinct: Assist my patrolmates, whether they ask me to or not.
- Guard Mouse 2
- Older guard mouse who is worried about missing up a promotion to Patrol Guard. Very specialized into Pathfinding. Extremely impulsive and has a habit of running up to dangerous animals to roll Loremouse to try to talk to them… even though initially he didn’t even have any.
(OLD Belief): Even just one mouse can make a difference.
Belief: Diplomacy trumps aggression for results
Instinct: Always say what’s on my mind.
- Reckless. Orphan and former thief. Was persuaded into the Guard after being caught by the Patrol Leader. Number 1 Priority is getting a big sword and swinging it around.
Belief: If I work hard enough, I will always get what I need.
Instinct: If there is action, get involved and make yourself useful. Don’t delay, and don’t hold back!*
Key Challenges That Are Mostly Addressed:
- There’s a lot of players which means a lot of helper die! For the most part, i’ve been restricting them to two helper die for all tasks (rather than just only conflicts) so not everything has to have an inflated Obstacle value.
- I tend to add at least one semi-filler obstacle to each mission so that more players get the chance to roll. Also, I try to make most obstacles into two or three part tests so that there are more opportunities there.
- Building on the last point, I tend to use more twists or twist-twists rather than only handing out Conditions so that I can extend the amount of rolls players get in the GM phase.
- I try to separate the Patrol at some point during the Missions, but I can’t do that every mission or it’s too predictable
Two missions ago I did a mission that (I thought) had challenged 5 of the 6 mice but at the end of the game every single player thought that their belief went unchallenged! I assume that it’s my fault since every single player didn’t recognize what I was trying to do: How can I try to make it more clear when i’m challenging a particular player’s belief? Or is it just the case of some mice having a bit too abstract BIGs? I would really appreciate advice on this point in particular.
A lot of players also means a lot of checks! For the most part, the players have learned that checks are really good (the Tenderpaw player in particular hasn’t figured that out and refuses to hinder/impede/tie). So, in order to deal with that I tend to leave the Missions not-quite-achieved at the end of the GM Turn. This means that players are spending their checks either finalizing the core Mission or their own personal goals. Some players have recently expressed that this isn’t exactly fair: the rulebook often describes the Player Turn as a sort of “sandbox” and that the players get to explore the world somewhat freely (and, of course, recover from conditions). How can I balance player exploration while leaving missions somewhat open-ended?
Finally, one of the key issues i’ve been having is the suicidal tendencies of the Tenderpaw and Guard Mouse 2. They both have “Foolish”/”Brave”/“Impetuous” traits so they tend to chunk a surprising amount of die when doing dumb things. They aren’t trying to necessarily be “Big Damn Heroes” and slay the Dragon – they want to befriend the Dragon. Always. This has gotten to such a point that the players have started toying the “No Weasels” line and joking about it - which I obviously need to shut down. I’ve been considering introducing situations where attempting to befriend leads into a Conflict of “imma gonna eat you” but i’m hesitant to have such a punishing Conflict and actually killing a PC for no-good-reason. I did miss out one moment where Lester was trying to discredit the Tenderpaw and the Tenderpaw really wanted to punch Lester – I should have had that happen and pulled the Tenderpaw into a Conflict. The timing would have been particularly disreputeful while the turtle was laying waste to Grasslake!
I’ve conspired with the Patrol Leader to make sure that he uses In-Character RP to keep the mice in check. I’m also certainly planning on trying to introduce a “friendly” weasel who acts just fine for a few missions… but then inevitably betrays the Patrol, of course. So I do have some longer term plans for that.
Anyway, i’d really appreciate any input some of the more experienced GMs might have! I can certainly write up more or go more deeply into past specific examples or future plans but I don’t want to write too much just for my introduction