Bringing new players into the fold

Hey all!
I run a monthly one shot game to get people playing some different games. It has been a real blast and my horizons have been expanded beyond my wildest dreams. Some games are a little out the and some are fairly easy to drop people into.

My first question is how hard is it to introduce people to Mouse Guard?
My second question is if anyone has any suggestions or pearls to get said people up to speed quickly?

More concisely, how do you get people past the “huh?” phase and into the fun parts?

I am also new to Mouse Guard and it will be my first time running it.

Any thoughts?

I know the central idea (one of them at least) is to “fail forward”. How often does failure lead to death? In a one shot situation should I worry about people dying? On my reads through the game it seems like the world is a very dangerous place for a mouse. Our do I just need to be careful about setting up conflicts that are life or death?

Death isn’t on the line until death’s on the line, as far as I recall. You can’t accidentally die. It’s either giving them a condition, or pulling out a twist…which might lead to a dangerous animal encounter, if you wish. (Which, I mean–give it to them. It’s not easy to kill a guardmouse. You have to lose a conflict badly, when life was on the line.)

CarpeGuitarrem is right; death is not accidental in MG. It must be part of a stated goal in a conflict. That is helpful to players who want to invest in their character over a period before finding something worth dying for (or risking death for).

Yes, the world is dangerous for a mouse.

There are two short gimmicks I have used which help players get into thinking like a mouse. I’ll keep these brief, but you can PM for clarifying details.

Mouse Ball
In this gimmick, players should offer answers that have a mouse perspective. Ask players to give short answers about what the world around them is like. Consider topics such as:

  • What sort of things would cause fear for a mouse? (‘everything’ or ‘anything’ are not valid answers)
  • What sort of duties might Guard mice be called to fulfill?
  • What are favorite foods of the Mice Territories?
  • What sorts of predators prowl the Territories?

It is intended to get players listening to each other as well as reducing self-censorship. It ought to give players a sense of the world they are playing in as well as provide suggestions to GM how they want the world to feel.

It can be short enough to run a minute or two before a game session or could be engaged for longer brainstorms about a multi-session running campaign.

Epic Journey
In this gimmick, players should narrate their own patrol through challenges, failures, and successes. Ask players to give a number of sentences telling of the patrol facing an obstacle, what skills or wises are critical, and how it turns out.

This is a bit more complex, but is played without dice or goals. The GM provides a season and a mission. One player takes over thinking of their own belief and instinct; they pick an obstacle from Weather, Wilderness, or Animal. That player tells how the obstacle challenges the patrol and how the patrol chooses to face it; they tell what skills or wises their patrol uses. They decide without dice if it was a pass or fail and tell how that turns out. Another player picks up the story with a new obstacle.

During Epic Journey, players don’t choose from Mice obstacles–it is about their own mice and patrol mates rather than other mice of the Territories. Also, there are no goals, dice, or Player Turn. A GM may choose to use rewards related to Belief and Instinct if desired.

It will take longer to run through. It is intended to get players thinking about stories; it should also help illustrate how the skills and wises face obstacles as well as how the patrol works as a team. It ought to give players a chance to display their Belief and Instinct as well as provide a GM with clues about how to challenge and trigger Belief and Instinct.

by the way, without accidental death, the GM gets to comfortably watch the development of the campaign without fear a critical patrol member will simply die from a foolish act or a run of unexpected dice rolls.

For a one shot with new players, I’d start with Pre-gens but let the players provide Belief, Instinct and Goal. I’d explain a bit about how skills are used, how traits can help or hinder, and how artha is earned and spent. Then I’d just start, teaching as the game progresses. Be ready to prod players with “Do you want to bring in a trait to earn a check here?” and “How does Lyam feel about that?”

I was going to assemble a one-sheet that briefly summarizes the different points and checks and some basic fundamentals (Conflicts, mostly), how nature can be used, etc. I am definitely going with pregenerated characters. I am probably going to just steal mice sheets from wherever I can. I would like to sit down and make a mouse at some point. It seems like it would be an interesting journey.

Thanks for the info everyone! I really hope it goes well!

I cannot recommend this page enough for that. Also, use the official Mouse Guard sheets, for the simple reason that they reprint a lot of the rules and charts for quick reference! :smiley:

In regards to a one shot, how many checks, Fate points, and persona points do people start with? It seems like everything I have read in the book suggests that they are granted these sorts of things (Fate points and Persona points) at the end of the game that then carry forward. How many would you start a group of one-shot mice with?

Just found it at the end of the Recruitment chapter. 1 fate point, 1 persona point. I assume they only get checks if they use traits against themselves. Nevermind!