The Deliver the Mail sample mission is quite straight forward, but everytime I read through it I get confused by the last obstacle in the GMs turn, Martin the carpenter. Martin wants you to help him get to Walnutpeck. Ok, fair enough. But how is this an obstacle and why is it so likely that the characters will say no to him and an arguement conflict will happen? I could understand it if they met Martin earlier on, before Gilpledge, so he would hinder the guard mice in finishing their mission in time. But when they meet him in Gilpledge, the ast place they are delivering the mail, what is stopping them from dropping off the mail and going with him? Ok, I get that some of them might have a few conditions and would like to have a players turn for other reasons too. But knowing my players I cant say it is unlikely for them to just go with the guy, especially when the mail is at its destination already. How urgent and eager is Martin anyway? Cant they just say "hey, guy, let us rest and well come with you". How is the arguement conflict happening? I cant railroad my players into it!
Love the system and structure of play, but couldn`t quite wrap my head around this one… Help me out?
Echo: Martin will not wait for Guard to rest–every day of weathering, lack of care, and missing his dear grannie’s, sentimental chair is painful for a woodworker liker Martin.
Now, as to the sample mission’s presentation of an Argument Conflict, this is more challenging for a GM to present. Here’s my breakdown: first hazard, then obstacle, then how to act.
First, in the rules text on pg 60, the description is “four general hazards” for confrontation opens the idea of repeatable, cyclical events. And, “include a combination of problems from these,” gives a bit more info. Then, the text begins a more detailed description of the manner in which these hazards are characterized. In those descriptive paragraphs, they get called out as obstacles; however, on pg 61, mission design begins by again calling out, “pick two of the four hazards,” while two are reserved as potential Twist material.
Then, mission design continues with several topics about how to use the hazards to select an obstacle for players to address. This is pgs 62 - 64, and the topics are meant to serve as brainstorming prompts. So, let’s move together to pg 67 and bring Martin back into the discussion. The GM has an obstacle and, “determines what is required.” In the case of Martin, I’d describe approximately: a mice hazard of the mission is that local mice requesting chores from the patrol will become angry, will complain, and will obstruct if they are ignored or refused; Martin isn’t just a happy, cheerful fellow pub-goer. Martin is an obstacle to everyone and complains that the Guard lost his lovely chair when forcing an evacuation; as GM, I’m going to look at BIGs to find a hook if possible, but largely the idea here is that he’ll bad-mouth the Guard and the patrol and probably include some dishonor of the dead Guard mates that tried to save Walnutpeck during the war prior to evacuation–maybe even some ill-spoken words about the reception of refugees in Gilpledge (or other settlements) for an extra measure of boorish behavior. My objective in presenting the hazard, and specifically Martin as obstacle is to present some insulting demand on the patrol by a churlish local mouse who will insult, bully, and complain. I want the patrol to initially open this encounter with distaste for the idea of offering service to the guy, yet also feel a sense of availability (as the mail has all been delivered) and obligation (as he’s a local mouse asking for Guard assistance). I don’t want it to seem unwarranted, but certainly unwanted.
Next, I’ll see how they act. In my mind, the method to bypass Martin could be very simply, “Yes, we’ll help wit that matter.” And that might easily lead to, “Ok, let’s begin the Player Turn and you can follow-thru with your agreement.” In fact, I’ve played this sample once with a distracted Ptl Ldr who turned his back while a patrol mate agreed without conditions or reservations to the request. There’s no test needed for that! The Ptl Ldr turned around and quickly requested at least a test to determine the terms of agreement, which I kindly allowed as a simple Persuader Vs Persuader. However, the table chatter might lead toward other plans and that huge variety of other plans could lead to many sources of influencing the scene. By the text of the sample mission, Martin is fully willing to argue his case fiercely using pathos, ethos, and logos (and whatever muckraking and mudslinging he can muster) in a full Argument Conflict, but as GM, I might downgrade that if the players seem agreeable, but want only to haggle the terms of agreement.
Martin is noted in the text as having no skill, and his Goal in case of a conflict does say, “Please,” yet that argument doesn’t have do be kind or dignified. As a character, the text of the sample mission doesn’t give much detail.
Escorting mice is a valid and worthy duty for the patrol to engage, so that’s not far-fetched. Mail delivery is fairly routine as a duty, but perhaps adding the return mail exchange would heighten the desire for players to urgently leave Gilpledge with a bit of post and parcel heading back into the Territories rather than offering a scavenger hunt for the chair in dangerous terrain.
But, you should keep in mind the best portion of your question is that players might agree outright; as GM, allow it as a method for driving forward on that hazard/obstacle, and in this case, start the Player Turn. Smart players might know, “we’d better dispute this at least enough to get a Check or two, which is where a full argument could be really helpful.” The conflict might allow for several patrol mates to gain a Check, maybe two, which will be useful to complete the request. The sample mission makes it clear the actual effort to assist Martin occurs not during GM Turn, but during Player Turn.