After a run of regular Mouse Guard, my Tuesday night group felt ready to try the Army of Shadows hack by John Anderson. I’ve tweaked a few things, but John has already done a great job capturing the atmosphere of a game set in the Weasel Occupied Mouse Territories, 1941.
We started our first session of AoS with an attempt to combine character creation with a hint of roleplaying. I described a bit about Port Sumac, after the war, and then focused on how the characters arrived at Cafe Ophelia, just before curfew, one at a time; each one was led down to a secret room in the basement where they introduced themselves while sitting around a rough wooden table, beneath a bare lightbulb hanging from a wire.
One of the players hadn’t received the modified character sheet I had sent on Excel, and following along with the MG book confused him, mostly because of the changes in the skill list. But we got through to filling out the relationship map and creating NPCs, and that was the most collaborative part of the session, as I hoped it would be; each player created only 2 of his 4 contacts among Family, Friend, Enemy, and Mentor. I believe this is a key part of this campaign, and each contact has a box to track whether they know the PC is involved with the resistance. The more friends, enemies, and family know about a PCs nocturnal activities, the more likely the chance of betrayal and collaboration with Weasel occupation forces, not to mention a loss of Trust rating.
Here are the members of the cell, all of them post-war citizen recruits:
- Jean-Claude, an older, graying mouse who lost an eye in a bombing the previous year; he may be a double agent for the Weasels. Or not.
- Martin, a white mouse from Elmoss, a doctor.
- Henri, a brown mouse from the country who loves his cheese, now unemployed in the city and resentful of the Weasels destroying his farm.
- Olsen, a brown mouse in blue overalls, a member of both the international Mouxist group and the electrician’s union; he wears thick eyeglasses and tinkers with explosives.
And significant NPCs:
- Eloise: Olsen’s common-law wife (also his sister-in-law, before his wife died), and Jean-Claude’s enemy.
- Yulon the Newt: a merchant in Port Sumac who is everyone’s friend (almost), but he has crossed Olsen in a manner know one yet knows.
- Eugenie: Martin’s sister & a member of the resistance, also Olsen’s recruiter & mentor.
- Patrick: Jean-Claude’s brother, Martin’s mentor, and Henri’s enemy.
- Father Antoine: Martin’s enemy & Henri’s brother.
We still have a few more NPCs to complete before the next game, but I believe we have a good start with some dynamic relationships among the PCs and their contacts.
We concluded with Sean, the mouse trained in the Northern Isles, walking into the room and introducing himself, explaining that all of these new recruits were now part of this new resistance cell, and they were about to commence their first mission together.
You can find more information about John’s work here: http://burningplay.wordpress.com/category/mouse-guard/army-of-shadows/