Conflict Mechanics

I was looking over some posts on and got a little confused about something. When you have two teams that both have an independent or versus test you only roll once for both the teams, correct? When the teams both roll at the same time would you simply add 1 die for the entire other team or would you add in 1d per mouse on the other team that could help? Also, who rolls the dice? Doesn’t this make someone miss out on rolling for their turn? Would you have each person roll the dice for their respective teams then? Would you allow the players to just choose whose skill to use (the character with the highest skill)?

It’s one die for the helping team. Yes, that does mean you have to choose which team is rolling.

So a better strategy for two teams of mice would be to coordinate so that they are not doing the same thing on each round, correct? Is that what this is meant to avoid?

RAW, I don’t believe the teams are supposed to coordinate like that. It says all teams choose actions as normal, which is privately, and then reveal them.

Doesn’t that act as a rather large penalty for having mice on 2+ teams? What purpose does that serve?

I believe it keeps conflicts chaotic and dynamic. It also means that two teams don’t get two massive attacks in the same turn. It’s only a penalty if the game is geared towards both teams acting separately, which it isn’t.

It seems not a large penalty at all. The difficulty of managing three or more teams is fitting to occasionally reducing the number of dice rolled.

I think the more important point of three or more teams isthe need for each team to have a unique goal which is divergent from another. In addition, the conflict doesn’t end while there are more than one team with Dispo. If this is the case of two mice teams against an opponent, they must continue to confront each other.

If one team surrenders, they come out with worse results than even the mutual opponent who earned a compromise.

I thought a group of 5 mice were required to be split into 2 groups? You are saying this only happens if the goal of the mice are divergent? So if I had a group of 5 mice fighting two Weasels and everyone was in agreement that their goal was “hold off the weasels while the villagers escape” you would let them all be on the same team? That works okay?

yes. if everyone agrees on the goal, i’d maintain one team. This means each mouse acts fewer times in the conflict, but does a good job representing teamwork.

ok, it is true the rules text is clear about the team sizes. I guess the issue with the matter is they should not simply be two teams working together in all actions to fulfill the same objective. This will provide too well combined a force against opponents.

so, w/ a group of 5 or 6 mice, I’d really pressure the players to consider multiple angles of how to confront the opponent as well as multiple angles of how the results should unfold. I’d want them to have some split which naturally illustrates unique perspectives.

When you are Mouse with 2 Fighter in a Fighter conflict and you are on 1 team then at some point you have to roll your 2 dice. If you are on the other team you can just provide helping die.

I’ve been ruminating on this and it’s something I would like to understand as I am hoping to run another Mouse Guard game here in a few months (a one shot again). Let’s say you have a group of weasels that are attacking a caravan of mice under the protection of our guard mice. The conflict begins, and the weasels’ goal is to grab as many tender mouse-like morsels as they can while our mice (5 mice total) have a slight disagreement as to what our goal should be. One group (3 mice) wants their goal to be Drive off the Weasels. The other group (two players) wants to Protect the Caravan Mice.

Question #1: In this instance, the goals of the mice groups are different so they should be on separate teams?
Question #2: In the 3-mice group who is driving off the weasels, they roll the appropriate skill +2 dice from the other mice in the team helping, and can get another +1 dice from the other group of 2 mice who are protecting the caravan (assuming they can make a case for helping, which shouldn’t be too hard here), correct? The other team rolls the same, with only a +1 die from help within the team and a +1 die from the other team.
Question #3: When the Weasels are dispatched and our two mice teams still have disposition left over do they need to continue the conflict even though their goals do not seem to cross each other? How could you amend the example to have the conflicts of the mice overlap to where they would have to keep going?

Thanks all! Sorry for all the questions but appreciate the help!

Well, the mouse teams both achieved their goals and their opposition was reduced to zero dispo right? Conflict over. You get helping dice from teammates and a die from the other team if they’ve both scripted versus or independent tests.

I’ve got a different angle.

I’ll name the teams: Weasels-Team MouseEaters; Mice 1-Team WeaselFighters; Mice 2-Team MouseDefenders.

Okay, all three teams open with Dispo 5 (for my sake). Each has a goal: MouseEaters-We gotta eat mice; WeaselFighters-We gotta hurt weasels; MouseDefenders-We gotta protect travelers.

Personally, I’d arrange a Chase conflict; the weasels are chasing the mice teams + travelers and the mice teams + travelers are trying to escape; MouseEaters get to describe attempts to snatch mice; WeaselFighters get to describe attempts to stab, slice, trap, or otherwise harm weasels; MouseDefenders get to describe attempts to protect mice. Everyone still has to use the same skills for a Chase conflict.

Another conflict, like Fight conflict might be just as workable, but I’m getting to provide my own interpretation.

Each team selects actions secretly–even true of mouse teams.

MouseEaters: Attack MouseDefenders. Attack WeaselFighters. Manuever against MouseDefenders.
WeaselFighters: Attack MouseEaters. Manuever against MouseEaters. Feint against MouseDefenders.
MouseDefenders: Defend against MouseEaters. Feint against WeaselFighters. Attack against MouseEaters.

First action: Weasels are really going for their objective and the Mouse Defenders are in the way, they’ve even got the WeaselFighters gunning for them too. The Attack against the Defend is versus; the Attack against Attack is independent. So, opening up, MouseDefenders stands solo rolling to oppose MouseEaters–basically, they are trying to prevent loss of Dispo in the opening action. The WeaselFighters get a free shot at tearing up the weasels. MouseEaters roll Scout to track the prey watchful of their every move; MouseDefenders roll Pathfinder carefully hiding and escaping from harm as best they can. WeaselFighters roll Scout watchful of the weasels and looking for chances to hinder and harm. Let’s say the Dispo changes some from this action-MouseEaters 5s: MouseDefenders 4s: WeaselFighters 4s-our defenders are down by 1 and the weasels are down by 4; Dispo stands now at MouseEaters 1: MouseDefenders 4: WeaselFighters 5. Great opener!

Second action: Weasels are upset by the spies hindering and harming their hunt, so they are going to get around them to reach the traveling mice and strangely, the MouseDefenders are trying to get their own patrol mates to pay attention to their escort duty by sabotaging the tricks and traps. The WeaselFighters are getting stung by patrol mates and are being tracked by weasels! The Attack against Maneuver is versus; the Feint against Maneuver is independent. Trouble! MouseEaters roll Scout to catch sight of mice trying to trick and trap; WeaselFighters roll Scout to keep a close eye on the weasel band–both are watching for each other! Out of no where, MouseDefenders roll Pathfinder placing themselves and the travelers in danger to get the attention of the patrol mates who have been tempting fate–they want to snap their fellows to their senses! Let’s look how Dispo might change from this action-MouseEaters 4s: MouseDefenders 3s: WeaselFighters 3s-our weasels place a dent into the fighters, followed by a gouge from the defenders; Dispo stands at MouseEaters 1: MouseDefenders 4: WeaselFighters 1. Terrifying prospects!

Third action: Weasels think they can really move against the quarry now, so defenders are going to make a major effort to get away for good; the fighters are giving their patrol mates frustration for risking the whole thing over a matter of priority. The Maneuver against Attack is versus; the Feint against Attack may not test–phew, at least they won’t harm their fellows nor help the weasels. MouseEaters roll Scout to find the travellers who are less defended and seemingly careless (remember Feint from last action); MouseDefenders roll Scout to watch the predator and remain out of reach. WeaselFighters don’t roll, but can describe attempting to lead the escort right along the nose of weasels just to get a chance to slash at the predators. Let’s look at how Dispo changes now-MouseEaters 4s: MouseDefenders 7s (they tapped Nature): WeaselFighters n/a-the defenders really wanted to secure the safety of the caravan and trashed the weasels, so the fighters didn’t end up causing any major issue; Dispo stands now MouseEaters 0: MouseDefenders 4: WeaselFighters 1. Interesting!

Some may say the conflict is over, but not in my perspective! It is not done until only one team remains with Dispo. So, I’d say this calls for another round of actions. In my perspective, even teams at Dispo 0 get to act, and could resurge with a Defend! Very big warning to the mice!

Please see my comments in a later reply. The conflict should end after the above volley. The GM’s side has reached Dispo 0 and must concede total loss to the players’ side. The two mouse teams must work out a compromise which both agree upon and offer that to the GM’s side.

[COLOR="#696969"]Second volley of actions:
MouseEaters: Defend against MouseDefenders. Attack MouseDefenders. Attack MouseDefenders.
WeaselFighters: Defend against MouseDefenders. Attack MouseDefenders. Attack MouseEaters.
MouseDefenders: Attack WeaselFighters. Defend against WeaselFighters. Attack MouseEaters.

First action: The weasels are just not giving up, but the fighters are upset about running from a worthy fight; both teams act against the safety of the defenders and travellers. Thinking the danger might be gone, the defenders are ready to really place distance between themselves and the weasels by stomping on the idea of digging in to fight them. The Defends against the Attack help each other–yes, WeaselFighters are getting a Helper die from MouseEaters! Yes, they are getting the Helper die, since the weasels are still putting pressure on the group and emphasizing the danger of running away–better to stand and fight. MouseEaters give a Helping die to WeaselFighters who roll Pathfinder to lead the group backtracking into stalking range; MouseDefenders roll Scout as they are watchful of just what is going on and don’t want to get caught unwarily. Let’s check the outcome-MouseEaters n/a: MouseDefenders 2s: WeaselFighters 3s-the defenders watch the fighters prove their point as the weasels come into view; Dispo stands at MouseEaters 0: MouseDefenders 4: WeaselFighters 2. Fascinating!

Second action: The weasels are ready to corner a large group of harried mice with glee, and the fighters are really going to dig in for the scrap now. The defenders are trying to get the fighters back on track to rush away–they were foolish to let them take lead! The Attacks against the Defend help each other–yes, WeaselFighters or MouseEaters gains help from one another (since MouseEaters are not targetted by MouseDefenders, I’ll have them give a Helping die, but another view might say, ‘they helped last action, this action they roll with help from WeaselFighters’). MouseEaters give a Helping die to WeaselFighters who roll Scout to size up the circumstances they’ve just encountered; MouseDefenders roll Pathfinder as they desperately look for a way out of the mess. Let’s check the results-MouseEaters n/a: MouseDefenders 1s: WeaselFighters 4s-this puts everyone on the ropes as fighters want a fight, weasels want several meals, and defenders are nearly cornered; Dispo stands at MouseEaters 0: MouseDefenders 1: WeaselFighters 2. Dun Dun Duunn.

Third action: All the mice were lucky to secretly pick their target and action, but it shows no one thought they would be around for the final action. The weasels have really held out strong; their potential compromise is going to be a fat payoff moment as they drive for eating NPC mice who were being escorted. All Attacks behave independently; however, this means the mice teams must choose to help each other; one rolls while the other helps (I’ll say the WeaselFighters graciously claim the Helper from the patrol mates). MouseEaters roll Scout as they try to capture mice running amok in fear while trying to avoid being stuck by a fighter. MouseDefenders tolerate giving a Helper die to WeaselFighters who roll Scout to watch for openings in which they can stick weasels. Results-MouseEaters 4s: MouseDefenders n/a: WeaselFighters 4s-in this action, the final tally concludes the conflict; Dispo stands at MouseEaters 0: MouseDefenders 0: WeaselFighters 2. Possible compromise of a Fight conflict.[/COLOR]

Ok, keep in mind this was a lengthy example without dice and just to illustrate some points in my perspective. The teams had to confront each other; in some actions they had to consider how their own actions helped the opposition or gained help from the opposition. Everyone lost more from Dispo than they might have otherwise. If anyone had surrendered–like WeaselFighters when they were down so badly after the first volley of actions–they would have less claim on compromise winnings than even the loser of the conflict.

As it stands, that conflict could have gone loads of other ways. I chose the outcome I wanted to highlight. Had it been a Fight conflict, the whole thing could have been far different. It would have been a vastly different turnout as a Negotiation conflict as well.

{special note: In one action, the MouseEaters were Defending while no one was targeting them with Attack–I could (and probably should) have called that independent instead of having them Help the WeaseFighters against MouseDefenders. Also, WeaselFighters have every right to not accept the Helper Die.}

In my perspective on conflicts, it is not over until there is but one team remaining with Dispo. The exception is if the teams reach Dispo 0 in the same action.

Please see my comments in a later reply. I’ve learned this is not accurate. The more accurate statement is the conflict is not over until there is but one side with remaining Dispo. The exception is if the sides reach Dispo 0 in the same action.

Keep in mind rules from page 114: the teams still act secretly and should direct their actions at a target. If they both target the same team, they might end up helping each other rather than rolling independently.

Now, my perspective does not appear confirmed nor denied by the rules text. It is true that if a team reaches Dispo 0 they have not won, but I don’t see anything that indicates they can’t continue if the conflict continues. I would welcome additional insight to counter my perspective.

Please see my comments in a later reply. This statement is totally disproved. The rules text is water tight, and I needed to read more thoroughly. Multiple teams make up a side of the conflict and may work together, even when their goals are slightly different. If a team is reduced to Dispo 0, they may no longer choose actions, nor throw dice in the conflict, and ought not be included as Helpers for the partner team in their side. The side continues if there is a team with Dispo 1 or more. That team chooses actions.

In another viewpoint, the teammates who want different things, and maybe don’t want the risk of a certain action are permitted to stand out of a conflict and avoid the binding results. Team MouseDefenders might have said, “You go have your fight while we hunker down here safely out of the conflict. Once your Fight conflict concludes, we’ll look over the Compromise and see what we ought to do next. We’re still your patrol mates, but are not willing to risk Injury or Death. Our sense of duty is to safely escort the caravan.”

Similarly, Team WeaselFighters might have said, “You take the lead on a Chase conflict to get safely out of range, but we want a fight later and don’t want to risk becoming Tired or Injured or some worse fate in the Compromise. We’re still your patrol mates, but we want to be fresh and ready for a Fight conflict later. Our sense of duty is to aggressively fight against these predators.”

It seems hard to leave your play mates without your Helping dice, skills, and gear, but when the difference of opinion is strong enough to consider multiple teams, it is possibly strong enough to weigh the risks and how the compromise or conditions may hamper other goals and interests.

I added that last bit; because, I have seen it at the table. The group was facing a Journey conflict in terrible weather after arranging safe, secure, dry accommodations. The Patrol Leader commanded the patrol to follow him into the thunderstorm to warn a settlement of possible flashflood. One Guardmouse wanted to refuse and remain behind–he didn’t want to risk himself, his gear, or anything over this order from the PL. I encouraged the group to be tolerant and allow him to follow along narratively, but not require his involvement in the Journey conflict.

The team was upset. They felt he was placing his selfish ideas above the ideals of the Guard–which may have been true. However, he wanted to play his PC rather true to form. He was a good sport, and didn’t retaliate when the group poked at him for standing out of the conflict.

It was also a difficult choice to deny his help to the team, especially when a close friend was washed down a mudslide, but the PL would not stop to recover him. Since he was still fresh after the conflict, he was in the best shape to spend a check searching for and rescuing his friend–another Guardmouse in the patrol. He couldn’t do anything to help during the conflict, but since he was not Tired and Sick, he was in a better condition for the search once the storm had passed.


First off, THANK YOU for putting so much thought into your response. Going to take some digesting!

  1. You structured your conflict as a Chase with the two groups of mice basically disagreeing over whether to stand ground or head for the hills, correct?
  2. If you have multiple groups against which you are interacting in a conflict the action only applies to one group? Simply, using your action against one group leaves you vulnerable to the other group’s action? In this case, with a chase, it makes sense for mice to use actions against each other to simulate internal struggle. In the case of a fight, they very likely would have focused their efforts more on the weasels, yes? Because the outcome, had it gone badly, would have meant dead mice?
  3. Is there any instance where you would have more than one group of bad guys to fight? If you had 4 Weasels, would you ever split them up into 2 groups of 2? Say that 2 of the Weasels are trying to peel the guard mice off from the caravan and 2 were trying to race ahead and close off the caravan’s escape?
  4. I notice you used very simple goals for your groups at the top. I have started falling into the idea of using 2 step goals (“Peel off the Guardmice from the caravan and close off the Caravan’s escape”) that lend themselves easily to compromise that allows them to achieve one or the other. Is this a good strategy?

Thanks again for all the effort, Kenneth. Appreciate it!

you’re welcome.

  1. yes, the idea is: initially, the Guard patrol disagrees about how to keep the caravan safe–fight or flight. That seemed like a good initial step for a Chase in which the fighters are looking for a good place to stand ground, but the defenders are looking for a good escape route.

  2. that’s been my interpretation. The individual team needs to target another individual team. 1-on-1 conflicts are fairly obvious. I think in terms of GM-toward-Players first, so that was weasels against mice. When the target of a team is not responding to that action, that is when I look at whether the teams are acting as helpers or not.

If they had begun with a fight, I suspect the teams might have been: Eat mice, Harm weasels, and Defend mice (in simplest form). The mice might have avoided conflicting with each other as much as possible. As that might have less room for a game-changing compromise, it is serious business.

  1. yes, but I haven’t done that at a table yet. I prefer to settle one objective at a time. I can imagine doing that more often in talky conflicts like Negotiation and Argument if the NPCs are already somewhat split, and the team splits as well. If I’ve got a player team thinking of two goals, I might consider having NPCs join their stakes, or having NPC teams with two goals. Your question for 4 can assist in reducing this.

  2. I agree that compound goals are a good strategy. I use that quite a bit. I try to foreshadow possible compromise by way of a compound goal.

For example, not willing to risk his flesh, a mouse might place the goal: I must drive off this predator without being harmed. When the compromise comes round, the player might more easily say, ‘My priority is not being harmed, so maybe the animal is not driven off. I’ll have to explain my caution to town locals in an argument conflict.’ The GM can counter, but that goal kinda foreshadowed the mouse wouldn’t want to be harmed (i.e. not gain Injured condition). Also, they got to suggest the Twist of a confrontation with locals upset about poor results.

I also want to say, I’ve been reflecting on my analysis above. I’ve got some new insights that have shifted my perspective. Page 97 offers an easy checklist of steps. Looking at the final two bullets, I realize the intended rules clearly correct my opinion.

‘all teams who still have Dispo of 1 or more choose 3 more actions,’ correctly contradicts my idea of having a team who ended a volley at zero being included in the next volley. I’ll edit my comment of the previous reply.

‘the process continues until all teams on the players’ side or the GM’s side have been reduced to Dispo 0,’ initially appears confusing, but helps identify that multiple teams help keep the side alive. If the players have split into two teams, they make up one side; the GM must reduce both teams to Dispo 0 rather than just one team. If the GM has split NPCs into two teams, they make up one side; the players must reduce both teams to Dispo 0.

‘once one side has been reduced to Dispo 0, work out a compromise,’ correctly contradicts my idea of having leftover teams of the same side finish each other off. I’ll edit my comment of the previous reply. When read in combination with the bullet above, it appears confusing, but the term side refers to multiple teams make up a side of the conflict. The whole side must be reduced to Dispo 0, rather than just one team.

Both of these bullets combined illustrate that I’ve been wrong for quite a while, having forgotten the exact wording of the rules.

Thus, two teams of mice, might still have differing goals, but once they’ve pushed down the Dispo of a mutual opponent (the opposing side), stop the conflict actions and work out a compromise. Whomever lost the least Dispo still wins, whomever lost the most (starting at the team who reached Dispo 0) still must seek and be offered a compromise. But, the runner-up team will probably get more from the compromise than the loser. The winner will get the most.

During the conflict, two mice teams might occasionally target each other, but there is far less need to ensure they reach Dispo 0, just focus on keeping your own Dispo up and pushing down the opposing side. In fact, targeting each other can be a severe detriment, as it places the whole side at risk!

The example conflict described on page 110 also supports the rules of page 97. As soon as a side reaches Dispo 0, stop the conflict and work out the compromise. A team may only act which has Dispo 1 and above.

Page 114 also makes reference to, “involving multiple teams per side.” This also supports the previous bullets of pg 97. It also helps define that one side will generally target the opposing side (though probably still must target a specified team of that side). So, while it may have multiple teams, they still can behave like a 1-on-1 conflict; in that case, it is one side against one side.

Page 115 also refers to sides in the rule of Tying a Conflict.

So, to anyone who has taken my advice in the past, I was wrong for some of that. I should have returned to read the rules more thoroughly.

I just realized, Kenneth, that I never thanked you for all the information. Thank you. They asked if I would be willing to run some Mouse Guard at Origins this year and I hope I get to!