Envisioning locales and environments is a crucial step in my design process when I’m working on a game. My work on mouse guard has proved no different. Birchflow is the first locale that I’ve expanded upon for my own use.

Birchflow is one of the largest groupings of artisans in the Territories. Mice of the ‘soft sciences’ have been drawn to it for generations. What was once a small commune of mice who gathered to revere the forces of nature that seem to hold all mice captive, it has developed into a major trading partner. The birch trees that make its walls provide a supple wood and the makings of brilliantly white paper. The stream that runs through its borders provides ample cold-cellars to prepare brews and aged foods. Their skill is elevated by the belief that to craft delicacies (for the tongue or for the eye) from the bounty the world provides is to honor nature. It is the sale of these highly sought after goods that brought Birchflow from a simple vestige of nature worship into a thriving, defensible monastery. The artisans are able to purchase their safety from certain dogs of war by continuing to train the most skilled crafters in all the Territories. The books they illuminate and the records the duplicate make them invaluable to the guard and earn them a guardian in Lockhaven.

Birchflow is separated into a series of small dormitories, studios, and storerooms spread among a close-growing thicket of birch trees. A network of streams weave their way through Birchflow towards the great lake to the east. Over time they have made deep valleys of their banks, protecting Birchflow from flooding, but making access somewhat difficult for mice and land-bound predators alike.


Birchflow is a theocracy, commanded by The Prior, the most devoted of the monks. He is counseled by his most valued friends and acolytes, as well as the Masterpaw for each of the cities more profitable trades. When the standing Prior steps down or passes on, his advisors elect his successor.

Residents of Birchflow tend to be prefer perfecting their craft alone rather than accept help from others once they’ve completed their apprenticeship. They also dedicate their lives to the work of their craft. These craftsmice can easily lose sight of things that fall outside their discipline.
Recruitment Skills: Brewer, Archivist, Loremouse
Recruitment Traits: Independent, Disciplined, Steady Paws

Major Trades
Birch Bark Paper (famous for its pure white finish), books, cured/cellerable foods, artisan beer

Imports: Inks, grains, and metals.
Exports: Cellerable foods and brews.


Useful, but don’t be wed to it. This might be an idealized form… for instance, if the Prior is named as an enemy or friend or parent by a player.

Authorship is important in Mouse Guard, so don’t take everything said here too seriously. Many of us are sorta amateurs and students of the process.

However, any setting also has room for movement by the players unless it matters so much to you that you demand the truth, such that you are willing to walk into the fire to claim possession of it yourself.

Think about character creation. The process shouldn’t be orphaned or divorced from setting & situation. So, too, is setting related to player & situation.

What’s the story? Who are your player characters?

What pieces of this are you willing to compromise to forge something true with your players? What matters so much you’re willing to fight them for it?

Don’t do everything that Luke did in writing the book with David Petersen. Setting exists to be trampled upon, eaten by mooses, crapped on by wolves.

It took an imperfect setting for the false Black Axe to come to Lockhaven.

TL;DR, sorta :wink:

The neat things about traits & BIGs, they inform you immediately.

What are the things that make this place different than any other? Bin the rest. Or, don’t waste too many cycles on it.

This is one of the lessons of the Monster Burner. Monsters are monstrous because of those things where they aren’t human. It’s “the other” on the wrong side of the tracks that matters, not the parts that call you to home.

What you have is written well. What does it tell me about your story? If you need this level of detail, great. Give your players room to explode it, though.

What is the story about?

Cool details.

The people parts (err, ah, mice parts) need the most flexibility, IMO. You’ve got some specifics already, so I’d caution against more. Don’t make the setting too buttoned down and civilized.

Mice are a thorn in your players’ paws. They agitate and confound. Don’t button down the mice in your setting, and be ready to throw stuff into your players’ faces to challenge their BIGs.

That’s a pain in the ass with the Pathfinder APs that I have. Scripted. What if the Queen of Korvosa plays better as a “good” NPC for your players?

Don’t make the streets too clean. Or, don’t YOU believe that the town is exactly like this. Don’t let your players believe it.

Throw belief into the fire, see what comes out after it’s been tested. Collisions and explosions are good because then you know what matters. What’s your story’s Black Axe?