An interesting new Instinct

One of our Patrol Guards changed his instinct before our session began. His new Instinct: Belittle other mice whenever possible as long as it won’t come back to bite me in the ass

I just had to throw it up here for others to read.

I guess there won’t be any problem to explain why he gets enemies from The Enemity Clause :slight_smile:

If the players can hold the distance between themselves and the characters I think it can be interesting since it will create conflict, smaller or bigger, since it’s not a get-along-attitude. Luckily it has a hold-back-mechanism in the ‘’ as long as it won’t come back to bite me in the ass’’

It seems like more of a Belief than an Instinct. The last clause isn’t really part of an Instinct. “As long as it won’t come back to bite me in the ass” isn’t a gut reaction nor is it something within the player’s control.

I agree that it sounds more like a belief. I also agree that it will breed contempt from fellows.

I’m going to encourage him to consider a change–Instinct: Belittle others when cornered. I hope that could make him less of an always-abrasive-jerk to a flawed-insecure-mouse. It should reduce the resentment in the group but still allow him to come up with zingers when he is threatened.

This is the Patrol Guard that is being groomed for a promotion; stuff rides on his shoulders quite a lot. Failures and bad decisions could leave him feeling responsible and ready to pass the blame by pointing out the errors of other mice and belittling those who would give him instruction or chastisement.

So far this mouse has really pulled together a theme as the angry old man. He came in with Oldfur trait and has for several sessions been unable to pass the Ob 2 Will test to overcome Angry. He used lots of checks trying to clear that condition and failed frequently. When he did succeed, something came up that left him angry again. I’ve already told him that he will probably be gaining the Bitter and Jaded traits next winter. The rest of the patrol feels he is a good candidate for Lecherous too, but I’m not going to allow the campaign to permit that trope to filter into our sessions. I have limits about how far I’ll roleplay.

It is too bad that he so often forgot to use his former Instinct: Always look for small details. I would have made it well worth his time to pause to search for small details, but he never brought it up.

That’s not how instincts work - if he has the instinct, he shouldn’t have to bring it up. He’s perfectly capable of saying he’s searching for small details without having the instinct. The instinct means that you should give him the benefits without him bringing it up - you assume he’s doing it.

no way. i tell them to know their characters and play their characters. From the text describing instincts, that seems to be the appropriate fashion: the player should be looking for times to play their instinct. This supports the rewards section as well. If i simply gave an award for having an instinct that I had to recall for them, that would be a superfluous reward.

I totally agree on you here. The rewards are there to motivate the players to act out their characters. The Beliefs and Instincts also fill the function of getting situations where you have to make choices; I do belive X but on the other hand -> angst or running with the instinct no matter if that’s the smartest thing to do or not and creating a little role playing and maybe plot/role playing hooks for the other players and the game master.

I do agree with Jim that if a character has a specific Instinct, the benefits (or penalties) should be assumed. However, when I run a game, if a player has an Instinct that is relevant to the current situation, and does not bring it up on their own, rather than simply assuming it, I give them a little prod.

Example 1: “Your Instinct is to draw your sword at the first sign of danger. This seems like a dangerous situation, and you didn’t mention anything about drawing your sword. Should I assume you’re playing /with/ or /against/ your Instinct right now?”

Example 2: Player 1: “That’s it; I’m getting out of here, fast!” GM: “Ok, you turn tail and run, but find yourself behind (Player 2), whose Instinct is to flee from large predators… That is, unless you want to roleplay something otherwise, (Player 2).”

So, giving the players an opportunity to bring their Instincts into play, and giving a nudge if it seems appropriate, with some small amount of assumption and a fair amount of cooperation all around. Generally, makes for an enjoyable game for everyone at the table.

Slashdevnul: MG Instincts are more belief like than BW ones. The MG BIGs are really a codified pattern of 3 BW beliefs… they don’t carry the action macro elements a BW instinct does.

at the OP: I find it wordy, but I’d let it roll, too… but with a revision: Belittle other mice whenever possible as long as they don’t look to be in charge.

Changing it for appearance instead of qualified evaluation makes it the kind of thing easier to adjudicate in play.

I was about to counter what Jim said, but Aramis got there first. I see this a bit on these forums where the BW mechanics sneak into MG player’s heads without them realizing it. That being said, if I had a player that put that as a instinct, I’d highly recommend that they change it to a belief, or give some if/then conditions for it to work with. Still, if they’d insist on using it as-is, I’d go with it and try to push it during the session HARD. I think the reward cycle would iron out if the player would want to change it or not. It’s their character after all, not mine.

Hmmm. The MG rules on pp48-9 seem to suggest that the “challenge” to Instincts as read should be used as counter-flavour – that is, if I were a GM-by-numbers I might think: I will give my players space to use their Instincts in a fun-for-the-player-and-character way three times out of four, or four times out of five, and then, for spice, one time I will throw my players into a challenging scene that plays against their instincts.

To me, this seems a slightly different approach to BW, where the suggestion seemed to lean much more towards confrontation of BITS with “going with BITS” used as momentary relief.

When you say “push it … HARD”, I read that as a recommendation towards the second method.

Are we drifting Mouse Guard’s intent by recommending that? Am I misreading MG’s intended play stance? To me, there’s a big difference in approach here, and so my players should have the right to walk in with their eyes open – if I were building a character and knew that my Instinct was, more often than not, going to be thrown in my face and frustrated, that would certainly affect the kind of Instinct I’d chose: there are places where, as a player, I’d be more willing to be challenged, and others, less so. Accordingly, if it were a “four times out of five, you get to be cool this way, and I’ll give you lots of opportunity to”, that’s a different feel, to me.

well, I agree that it would be hard to play through a game in which the Ethos of a character were frequently being placed in duress by a GM/Moderator. I’d prefer a game in which I create a character that generally ‘fits’ in the world with occassional quirks and rough spots.

The player and I talked about it; he’s not so pleased with it being his instinct. It was funny the first night he thought it up, but later felt it was simply used in anger. He’s still unsure of just what the instinct really ought to be.

After reading through the preview of BWGold, I saw that BW treats instincts as completely automatic–no questions asked. I might adopt that fo rhte future in MG and encourage a more active use of Belief, Goals, and Traits as the grinding gears of roleplay rather than a quick and dirty Instinct.

In particular, some of the members of our patrol liked Saxon’s Instinct most of all and want to use it nearly verbatim. They’d prefer to have an Instinct that has a clear trigger word and defined response. It seems they would like somehting more Pavlovian than something they must watch for.

In addition, they are ending up with rewards at the end of sessions which they tend to save for a rainy day. So, I’d like to push htem into using the rewards more frequently before ensuring they have rewards coming from all possible sources–including Playing an Instinct. I’ve observed that it comes too naturally or it is simply too forgettable; rarely does it seem in-between the extremes.

I’d prefer to have the group using rewards more steadily and earning rewards for Playing a Trait really well rather than simply earning a check or gaining an extra die during a test. This could encourage a group to deeply ingrain the traits–in both good and bad ways–into the roleplay rather than a short quip based on Instinct.

Even in the demo I ran, I put their BIG’s right into the challenges. Fight or run for Saxon. Better chance to prove self by working alone, but chance to help for Lieam. Pointedly asking Kenzie’s player for decisions, and watching for asking Saxon’s opinion. For all three as a group: Help assuredly but fail, or try and probably fail, or leave and succeed but cause a distressed family to perish.

The deer-in-the-headlights look when Lieam’s player suddenly realized what was happening… and how much it would mess with the beliefs on the sheet.