Experienced but not promoted guard mice

I can see that some of the benefits of creating a patrol leader mouse comes from that it’s the good mice that get’s promoted. Still, should really all patrol guards from21 to 50 years old have the same amount of traits, skills and so on? I guess you can’t promote every experienced and good guard mice even if they deserve it since there ought to be a limited need for patrol leaders. Therefore I thought that maybe there should be a small bonus for older patrol guards, maybe for patrol guards older than 40?

The patrol leader gets the following beyond what the patrol guard get:
+1 Will
+1 Skill
+1 Wise
+1 Resource
+1 Skill (Life on the road)

I think that the older patrol guards should have a least +1 Skill from Life on the road but maybe even +1 Wise. Am I missing something? Is there some kind of design based on the game world I miss or something?

What do you think?

I think that you need to remember one thing: Whatever works for your game, run with it.

To directly answer your question though, yes, it is entirely possible that experienced mice exist but are not promoted to patrol guard. No, not all patrol guards have the same amount of skills/traits/etc. Remember we have all those rules, but Liam, an official canon mouse guard tenderpaw, is already an EXCEPTION to those rules.

So, why are all mice of a certain age given generic stats? To make the game simpler. Instead of having to worry about every nuance possible (and having thousands of supplements), we are simply given a template to work with. Instead of having to stat out a mayor mouse, a governor mouse, and a senator mouse, we simply have a politician mouse and can work from there and tweak it as we need. Instead of having to stat a guard mouse, a patrol mouse, an archer mouse, and a SWAT mouse, we have a soldier mouse and work from there.

It’s not about the minor details. It’s all about the fun and the story telling and the adventures that arise from a simple “deliver these letters to the next town” mission…

Don’t take my word on it though, just my $0.02

I guess it just was more than a nuance for us. I like the simplicity, we just draw the line at different places. Anyway, yesterday we decided to go for a rule saying that if you choose a patrol guard and he/se is at least 40 years old the mouse gets +1 skill (Life on the Road) and +1 wise. My question was more about if you others thought it was neither too small bonus nor too big bonus for an older not promoted patrol guard rather than if we could change the rules. Sometimes one might also miss effects from rule changes that a third party spot immediately. Thanks for your thoughts, it’s always nice to hear what others has to say.

Would a specific, appropriate Trait given to older patrol guards be sufficient? In a similar way, you could also use their age and experience for your angle when conducting the Winter Session.

I’m tempted to say just leave it as is, but I’d have to look at my book and see the discrepancy for myself. In my games, differing levels of ability between the mice hasn’t caused any problems.

“To each his own,” isn’t really the kind of advice that get’s bandied about with Luke’s games.

That was my first thought but then the player would have to call on his trait any time he wants to be experienced which either would mean that he wouldn’t be experienced everytime or would use that one trait as much as he can. I don’t see the same problem with the Oldfur trait since I see it as a more-experienced-than-normally trait.

About the Winter Session, how do you mean?

I don’t have my book handy so please bear with me . . . I mean using the character’s status as an experienced member of the guard to inform the Trait you (the GM) choose to award or modify. As you said initially, perhaps the character has been passed over for advancement (Bitter), simply a long-standing member of the guard with no interest in leading a patrol (Lone-Wolf), or unfit for a leadership role (Indecisive). The section on the Winter Session has considerations to make regarding when a patrol guard should be promoted to patrol leader.

Of course, the way the mouse is played leading up to the review has an impact on this. Regardless, I was looking for another angle than the patrol guard just being more skilled or more wise than his or her compatriots. Neither have my groups seen the need to balance the patrol guard profile nor have I crunched the numbers on it. Do all guardmice get two Traits, except for tenderpaws who get three?

That’s some interesting thoughts on traits. The problem for our group was that usually there’s only one patrol leader in a patrol (logical) which means that only one player can play a experienced and skilled guard mouse. Of course if you have some sort of special units patrol there could be several officers in the same patrol.

Patrol Guards and Guard Captains also get 3 traits.

What I like about this system is that adding a wise or a trait as a house-rule does not automatically mean you unbalance the game. Why? Because those traits only come in when YOU, the GM, want them to. You can have a Patrol Leader mouse and call him a Patrol Guard, and it’s just like having 2 Patrol Leaders in the Patrol but having one be the actual Patrol Leader and the other one being “demoted” to Patrol Guard (sorry, browsed the book but can’t find the page number for this).

Sorry about that, I know what you mean. Still getting to learn about the “culture” on these forums!

I don’t have my book with me but I’m pretty sure that Saxon and Kenzie share the same rank even though Kenzie is the official leader of their patrol group. Just because someone is given the rank of Patrol Leader doesn’t mean they are forced into the leadership role. I don’t think it’s super common but it’s totally legit within cannon and shouldn’t break anything.

As for the forum culture here, many of the regulars (including Luke) come from playing a lot of games that are broken as written and need extensive house ruling or rules ignoring in order to function. One of the core parts of Burning Wheel (and Burning Wheel derivitive games) is to be functional as written as well as try to evoke a specific gameplay style, which is why “to each his own” is a fairly uncommon thing ot see here. There are rules interpretations and attempts to clarify certain weirdnesses (see the approximately thirty threads on multiple combatants in Fight!) but there’s only about two pages of errata for a game that’s pushing five years. Hm, this reads a bit too fanboyish… what I’m trying to say is that the forum members don’t have a slavish devotion to the text but do recognize that there has been an effort to recognize that Burning Wheel has been written with the intent of not requiring (and in fact doesn’t contain) the so-called “Rule 0.”

So yeah, in the end it’s always going to be a case of “whatever works for your game you should do” but the rules have been written with the attempt to not be artificially limiting in dumb ways. RAW with a teeny modification (you can have multiple people of the rank of patrol leader in your patrol) that might already be in place has less of an impact for the same result as adding an extra (subjective) trait. It also adds for some great RP possibilities and inter-group tensions because there are two people who could be in charge but one gets to make the rules.

Did players have issue with the discrepancy between Patrol Guard and Guardmouse?

Cathexis, thanks for explaining the “culture” to me. I do agree with you, the RAW of Mouse Guard needs little modification, if any! I can’t speak for BW since I don’t have it, and MG was a little confusing to get a handle on, but now that things are starting to clear up, I feel it’s easy and intuitive to play and so far I have not found anything broken with it. Sure, there are some things I’d like to tweak, like illern wanting to have Patrol Guards with Patrol Leader stats (or at least boosting older Patrol Guard stats), and I tell him “whatever works for your games!” but do note that we are tweaking the game to our scenario to add more flavor — we are not tweaking it to fix anything. :smiley:

Hey, no problem. We’re all in danger of becoming grumpy internet men around here. I’m pretty sure though that good mice promoted to patrol leader don’t need to be in charge, so you can just have a secondary leader or something.

As for names, call me Colin. Cath’s my internet handle but I like the whole “first name” thing.

Ah, nice to meet you, then, Colin. Unfortunately, my handle IS my name :smiley:

No, since guardmice always are young we figured that when you have done your time as tenderpaw and not done too bad you become a guardmouse. After some time as guardmouse you become patrol guard, when depending on your talent. So no one ever is a guardmouse for long as long as they don’t misbehave but then maybe they are thrown out.

Sounds as a good idea and of course you then can have the same situation as we sought with a patrol leader and a a little older patrol guard (a conflict on who actually knows better). If there’s two patrol leaders according to grade but one of them has been appointed ‘‘more leader’’ and therefore has the last word in the patrol there might be some conflict if the other mouse with almost the same experience thinks otherwise and thinks it’s just administration that has decided who get to lead the group.

I would rule the other way. If you don’t have what is required to be a guardmouse, you stay a tenderpaw. Remember the book says the mentor has to “pass” the tenderpaw, so if the mentor decides you aren’t ready to be a guardmouse, then tough luck. Guardmouse to Patrol Guard is the same thing as well, though this time there’s no mentor so I’d guess it’s more of how your peers/superiors/Patrol Leader rate you that decides your promotion, not how long you’ve been a guardmouse.

As an added fluff, some patrols spend most of their time on the borders of the Territories, and I’d say they only come home for the Winter season, so someone might get “promoted” to Patrol Guard stats early in the year (maybe a season after they leave Lockhaven) but don’t get the actual promotion until they come into Lockhaven in winter, get the reports to Gwendolyn, and have her come around to handing out the promotions.

Read up on p.298. There can only be two patrol leaders if there are two tenderpaws. I would also think that if there are two patrol leader-ranked mice in a patrol, Gwendolyn would designate one as the actual patrol leader and the other as just another member of the patrol, to act at patrol guard rank. So the patrol leader can consult the “patrol leader at patrol guard rank” mouse, but his word is final because he is the leader even if they have the same rank.

I think we’re saying, or writing, almost the same thing (sometimes I find it hard to get the nuances right with these second languages). Also I was thinking more of special units composed to do the harder missions. Then you’d probably need the best guards and if the best guards are patrol leaders then you have to put together a few units that don’t follow the rules for normal patrol composition. Although real life military rules are quite strict I think this was and is done when composing units for special missions.

Anyway, that’s just my thoughts.

Yes, I agree but it’s also a creating character problem - a meta problem, with some players - not all, just some. Also, if all really good patrol guards get promoted there ought to be too many patrol leaders, I think. But if you can be experienced but not promoted it opens up for more mice with experience. Of course all this depends on how many mice one thinks get really experienced and really good at their skills.

That’s a good point, didn’t think of that.

One character in a game had been a Patrol Leader before a severe demotion; the character was created as a regular Guardmouse with the Scarred trait. It has worked fine in play.

One thing I like about this game is the balance among new characters as I’ve seen it in play. None of my players have wanted to create a Patrol Leader despite the apparent bonuses, although two of the characters are old mice. Those few extra skill points for experience doesn’t seem to be enough incentive to deal with the headache of leadership responsibilities.