I’m planning a mission where the party will head out to their hometowns to pick up and escort mice who wish to make the grade and join the Mouse Guard. I’m planning this session for a group which has already played a few sessions, so they are already comfortable with their characters and the newbies will give them a chance to reflect on how they’ve grown.
Has anyone run a mission like this before? What sort of challenges do you think new recruits would face? What would you like to see in a mission like this?
I’m thinking new recruits would kind of been shown the basic jobs of the mouse guard, so you could have a few missions like escorting someone, being in a town meeting and trying to be the neutral voice, and getting the scent border renewed.
If I had a recommendation at all, it would be to put the tenderpaws in danger. I think there’s plenty of potential for these young mice to be put in a situation where they’re under threat in a way that will challenge your players. Bear in mind that, by definition, these tenderpaws are looking to enter into the Guard - this means that it’s very likely for them to be eager prove their worth and jump into situations they’re not ready for, and need the players to bail them out of. Have them sneak off to investigate some tracks your patrol came across once the patrol members nod off during camp. Or at minimum, I would have a formidable beast descend on the group while they’re traveling. Now the patrol has the dual focus of both dealing with the creature directly, as well as trying to make sure the tenderpaws are protected during the encounter.
If the violent aspect isn’t what you’re looking for, I would try and shift the focus towards the patrol testing the tenderpaws during their travels as a way to evaluate the young mice. This is a great opportunity to make a lot of use of the Instructor skill, which can be very useful for your players once they finish with this part of your campaign if none of them already have it, or if someone has it and isn’t paying much attention to it. The Instructor skill can really ramp up player advancement by using it to give teammates checks they need to increase skills, so showcasing it here can move your players to looking at it more often during play once they’ve completed the escort mission(s).
I like the idea of the recruits doing “cardboard” missions. Like having a big wooden weasel to knock over, big shoes in the shape of paw prints so that the players can leave tracks to follow, a maze they have to riddle through, roleplaying a dispute, etc. Regarding the scent border the book says that only trusted Guard can tackle this, so I think it would be too dangerous for some kids to be that close to Wild Country or Darkheather.
Well it wouldn’t be an adventure without a sudden disaster meaning that the kids are forced to take on the role of real Mouse Guard!
Pushing Instructor is good though - most players don’t pick it so there will be lots of Twists as they try to learn it. I think the idea that they are out of their depth being teachers is a great angle - and the climax being a real problem that puts those skills to the test. They could rely on the recruits for help - but allowing them to help puts them in grave danger.