Defend the Scent Border!

Well, I haven’t been on the BW forums in far too long. But I wrote this adventure last night, ran it today, and will run it again on Sunday. It went really well today, and I think it’s a very solid example of how to plan a mission.

“Defend the Scent Border”
by Matt Weber

It’s summer, 1153. You are in Barkstone, having just completed a mission there, in which you fought off some local predators more vicious than the local guard could handle. You are enjoying the warm weather and the town’s hospitality when a young mouse, panting with exhaustion, dashes into the center of the town square. “Oh, thank goodness! Mouse Guard!” she exclaims upon seeing your cloaks. “My name is Halit, and I’m from Pebblebrook. We need you to come at once!”

She goes on to explain that there was a small breach in the scent border near Pebblebrook, which is the furthest west of the Mouse Territories towns. Some flaw in the original laying during the spring, or maybe it was the recent rainshower… anyway, a few weasels spotted the breach before any mice did. They attempted to drag off a local farm family. There was a fight, and some local guards and huntsmen killed all but one of the weasels. Unfortunately, one of the weasels got away, and the town elders assume more are on the way.

Pebblebrook is a small struggling settlement, ruled by the stony paw of Lorkin, head of the Stonemasons Guild. Due to its position near the border, the Guild always keeps extra packets of scent on hand, and during the summer pays for a scientist to stay on hand. The scientist, Leeta, is already working on repairing the scent border, but the work will take a little while to complete.

Halit and her companion Beltran came here as quickly as they could. Beltran was eaten by an owl. You notice that one of Halit’s arms is covered in a bloody, ragged bandage. She is too beaten up to help the patrol travel to Pebblebrook. “Just watch out for the Takkis River,” she tells you.

The Takkis, you see, has flooded. And the Patrol has to cross it. It’s the only major geographical obstacle between Barkstone and Pebblebrook. There’s a network of stones that travelers use, but the tops of the stones are now mostly below water. Pathfinder 5 to find a way to cross, or Nature 5 to climb the tall nearby trees and and cross over on their branches. Failure on the Pathfinder option: sploosh: the Patrol goes for a swim and ends up Tired (primary roller) and Angry (assistants). Failure on the Nature option: they wake up the owl as they blunder through the branches — yes, the same owl who ate Beltran, and he’s looking for a midday snack.

When the PCs arrive at Pebblebrook, there are already sounds of fighting! The weasels have come back! By the time they arrive, the town’s defenders have all been either killed or driven back. Leeta has sustained an injury to the leg and can’t walk, and there are five remaining Weasels (4 soldiers + 1 captain, p. 203-4). They break into two teams, with the conflict goals 1) Capture Leeta (Captain and two soldiers) and 2) Raze the nearby cropfields (the other two soldiers).

End of GM’s turn.

And Nature help the Territories if the Weasels get ahold of a live scientist!


So what happened when you ran it?! Did they capture the Guard Captain? Did they raise the crops?

So, the players rolled incredibly well, and also outscripted me for the most part. I also had them make powerful characters: a Guard Captain, played outstandingly by gooderguy, a Patrol Leader, and a Patrol Guard. (The fourth character, who I wrote tonight in case I have a full crew on Sunday, is also a Patrol Guard.) I also gave them 2 fate and 2 persona each, a decision I do not regret. I doubt things will go so well for the PCs on Sunday, due to both statistical variation and more inexperienced players.

Anyway, yes, they crossed the river without a hitch. Before making the Pathfinding roll, they made an implement to help them cross with Survivalist. (Effectively, a linked test, though obviously not in so many words!) They made long poles and lashed them together so that they could lean on them as they walked across.

During the fight, Captain Deezle took on the two soldiers who were trying to burn the fields, while Patrol Leader Soren and Patrol Guard Willard fought the Weasel Captain and his two troopers. Both teams completely schooled me. Soren ripped out a weasel’s liver after getting his sword disarmed! (Soren has Vital Organs-Wise!)

Deezle’s goal was to send the weasels back to weasel-ville with tales of the Mouse Guard’s prowess and insisting that the invasion was a mistake. Soren’s goal was to capture the enemy Captain.

I did get minor compromises from both, however. The fields team dropped their torches when they fled, and Deezle wound up getting Sick (and Willard Injured) from trying to fight the blaze during the Player’s Turn. While Willard and Soren found themselves so overcome with bloodlust that they were still Angry after the fight was over.

During the Player’s Turn, there was much recovering from conditions, though Deezle was not able to recover from his sickness and his Oratory dropped due to his now raspy voice from smoke inhalation.

Also, Soren, who is from Pebblebrook, tried to get his Dad elected leader of the Stonemasons Guild, and got schooled in a negotiation conflict. I had never done one before, and I ran it in an interesting way: each volley he went to a different person in the town to try to cut a deal with them to support his Dad, from other political muckety-mucks to common laborers. It worked really well. But Soren didn’t have the right skills, and pretty much got his ass handed to him. His father was exposed for his corrupt ways and exiled from town! But everyone was impressed with Soren’s heroism and honesty, and a statue of him is even now being constructed in the town square.

Finally, Deezle led an interrogation (Argument Conflict) of the captured Weasel Captain. This led to the worst, and yet most seasonal, pun of the day, when I intoned “Let my weasel go” to the tune of “Let my people go.” It also included a lot of Bad Mouse / Good Mouse interaction between Soren and Deezle. Throughout the session Deezle made great use of his Weasel-wise! The PCs agreed to let the Weasel Captain go at the eastern edge of the Mouse Territories, while the Captain gave them some information about an upcoming invasion that the Weasels are planning!


Cool setup, but I have a question since I don’t have my book in front of me.

I may be completely misremembering, but I was under the impression that the scent border was really only for large predators and that it didn’t really keep Weasels away.