Fight vs. Hunter...

Forgive me if my search-fu is weak. I can only assume this has been discussed before, but I can’t seem to find it.

I’ve recently begun thinking of running a Mouse Guard game (the party in the D&D game I’m running just lost one of their healers and is going in to the toughest fight they’ve faced yet with at least 2 of them sitting at 0 healing surges, so the game may well be coming to a natural close). I’ve run through the character creation process for Mouse Guard a few times, and I think I’ve got a handle on it, but I keep coming up with one question I can’t seem to resolve.

Fighter and Hunter are two different skills, but it seems that Fighter can be used for anything Hunter applies to. I understand that the two skills have different flavor (Fighter = fight mice, Hunter = fight animals), but if Fighter is also usable for fight animals, what exactly is the point of having a separate Hunter skill?

It’s just bugging me from the stand-point of game mechanics. If I have a character who is focused in Hunter, he will not be good at fighting mice, but will be good at fighting animals. If I have a character who is focused in Fighter, he will be good at both fighting mice and fighting animals. What am I missing?

Well, if that is your character concept, yes, why not? Hunter also is useful for other things besides fighting.

Ok, that may be what I’m missing, can someone clarify?

I would not let a player use Hunter in a sword fight. Hunter could be used to track an animal, or to learn something about its habits.

I think the skills sections is pretty clear, hunter is versus animals, fighter is versus mice (and, I would say, weasels).


I agree, Hunter doesn’t apply in a sword fight, so it’s not good when fighting against Mice (or weasels, probably). That’s what I was saying from the beginning. The question is what Hunter does do that Fighter doesn’t.

For example, looking at the Skills by Conflict/Action chart, we see that the ‘Fight’ conflict type uses Fighter for the attack type actions. On the other hand, the ‘Fight Animal’ conflict type uses Fighter or Hunter for the attack type actions.

I’m rereading the skill descriptions, and they certainly seem to support the idea that Fighter is vs. Mice/Weasels and Hunter is vs. everything else, but then I look at the ‘Skills by Conflict/Action’ chart, and it distinctly says something different.
The section of the Hunter skill on p248 also seems to say that it includes a broad, but shallow version of an ‘animal-wise’ skill, letting the character potentially know a subset of information about any animal, where a normal ‘*-wise’ skill would let them know a lot about a specific type of animal.

Have I got my head wrapped around the pros & cons of the two skills there?

All of that said, tracking an animal would seem to be distinctly the domain of the ‘Scout’ skill.

I suspect one of the aspects of Hunter v. Fighter is the value to the story. I saw several members of my group trying to push up Fighter in order to better face off against their perceived opponent: combat. However, I wanted to illustrate the larger scope of MG and importance of facing a variety of challenges effectively to serve their community of mice.

I believe one of the reasons the players perceived combat as the largest winning factor is related to playing D&D encounters immediately before our MG sessions.

A mouse which has concentrated on fighting at the expense of hunting has likely made a name for himself as a violent soldier. Perhaps a guardmouse like that was viable during the Weasel War, but now that sort of hot-headed mouse presents a strange lack of Nature (Mouse) all around. The reputation may include a mouse which thinks first of attacking a problem–attacking a mouse believed to be guilty, attacking mice believed to be a threat, attacking mice that have different opinions, etc.

A mouse which has placed a higher emphasis on hunting and allowed fighting to fall away from the priority skills may yet illustrate a mouse with a strange Nature (Mouse) whne one considers that mice are primarily herbivores–they typically do not need to hunt animals for food. Yet, the ability to protect a community from predators may appear more universally useful and more appealling to other mice than fighting.

This will be reflected also in the sort of campaign setting you describe.

I forced my group to make Weather Watcher tests, Administrator tests, and Survivalist tests knowing that few mice in their patrol had those skills. I watched them seeking to use Fighter in conflicts that were not appropriate to the skill. I more frequently heard them present goals which seemed, ‘My way or the highway.’ Their BIGs frequently revolved around fighting. The patrol had trouble facing obstacles which did not cater to an aggressive, violent attitude.

It was leading to their patrol gaining a reputation among the territory and the Guard of violence, selfishness, and insensitivity. We unfortunately ended before a winter session in which Gwendolyn was intending to place several of their patrol on probation for choices made during patrols that were not within their jurisdiction to make. They had disregarded settlement issues when attempting to mediate.

I had planned for about one Fight conflict per 6 sessions. This left the group woefully unprepared for facing other conflicts and complex tests during other sessions.

You can choose to make a campaign that encourages and empowers Fighter over Hunter. I think that the value comes not from mechanical usefullness, but instead from story value. In my story the mice which focused on Fighter were becoming a serious liability to the Guard; Gwendolyn was unhappy with the damage control from their conduct; the patrol was less capable of serving the community effectively. In your story, you may find that Fighter is far more valuable as a skill and provide a campaign that rewards the investment; those mice are better prepared to serve the Guard; the patrol is better served for their presence.

Mechanically, you are seeing correctly that Fighter can be applied to both Fight and Fight Animal while Hunter can be applied only to Fight Animal and Hunter tests. However, that presents only half of the game. You must now decide what is more valuable in the campaign you want to present. Bring the campaign to life through compelling reasons that Fighter or Hunter has more value than the other. You can also create compelling reasons why Baker, Cook, or Harvester are key skills for the campaign.

Which ever direction you go, let the players understand the setting enough to determine how much their own mice values the skills and desires to fulfill those skills.

There’s not a lot left to be said here. But I would like to add… That hunter is a great skill in the right campaign. If all your characters did was fight mice and weasels. They would better off placing those skill points elsewhere. But in my opinion that would be a very boring game. Naturally I would see more animal fights. Being that mice are at the bottom of the food chain.

Personally I see hunter in between fighter, scout and loremouse. A tenderpaw doesn’t have much to start with in points. So I feel this is an all around good bet for them.

But whatever you do be sure to let the players know what type of campaign you’re going to run. It’s not fair to the players let them build their mice one way and you GM the game another way.

Fighter: use of weapons in combat. no good for subduing non-mouse, non-weasel opponents.

Hunter: ability to best animals both in combat and afoot. Ability to capture live prey if needed.

Voice, I would look at skills in Mouse Guard a different way. It’s not X skill does this and Y skill does that. I think it’s more like this: A mouse with Hunter can do anything a hunter could reasonable be expected to do. That’s why the skills are Hunt-er and Fight-er, not Hunt-ing or Fight-ing.

And yes, there is some overlap between skills.

Ok, that makes a lot of sense, espeically ThisIsVictor’s response. I just wanted to make sure I had a handle on it so I could explain it to my players when/if it came up.


It also comes down to the description the players are giving to their actions. The descriptions should be appropriate to the skills used, as explained in Describe Your Action on page 87.

For instance, let’s say you’re in a Fight Animal conflict against a wolverine. A wolverine is far too big for a patrol of mice to kill, so your goal is to lead it away from the camp of mice traders that it is heading toward.

If you jump toward it and try to pink it in the nose with your sword, you should roll Fighter. If you make a call intended to mimic the sound of a female wolverine in heat and so lead it in a different direction, that’s Hunter.

Pelt it with pine cones? Fighter. Catch it with a snare or pit trap? Hunter.

Having the Hunter skill gives you a much wider variety of possible descriptions at your disposal.The GM’s job is to listen to the descriptions and determine which skill is appropriate for the test at hand. This is true even in conflicts. If a player is in a Fight Animal conflict and gives an Attack description that sounds like Hunter, the GM should require a Hunter roll, even if the player’s character has a Fighter 6 and is unskilled in Hunter.

It should also be noted that Hunter can be used outside conflicts. You can use it to determine things such as which animal made a trail you come across, what an animal typically eats (or doesn’t eat), what sorts of weapons it has at its disposal, and determine what sort of animal a nest/den/burrow belongs to.

Ok, if that’s the case, I’m confused again. If Hunter is the fight-an-animal skill, why would you not use Hunter to stab the wolverine in the nose or nail it with a thrown pine cone? Does that mean a mouse who is good at fending off non-mouse, non-weasel intrusions would need to be good at both Fighter and Hunter?

Don’t be confused. It sounds like you’re over thinking this to me. There is overlap of course, so focusing on that overlap won’t help you understand the skills. Fighter is for fighting. Simple. Hunter is for hunting. Simple. When you’re in a fight with an animal, both are useful. Just depends on your character and what they want to focus on.

I’d go with whichever skill is most appropriate to the player’s description of what they’re doing. If one skill is higher than the other, have them describe it better to use that skill.

because swatting an elephant with a stick is not elephant hunting.

Strange, elephants and their kin were hunted (successfully) way back when the spear was the pinnacle of weapons technology. A spear is, after all, a long stick with a sharp point.

I do think you just made his argument though. The “hunters” would have to work in groups with their spears and other tools to trick the elephants into a corner or trap so the hunters would have an advantage. If you just threw a spear at it you better hope there is a narrow crag in ten feet or so or you are d-e-a-d.

Elephants are still considered very deadly alone even when a solo hunter has an automatic rifle today.

Which is as good a reason as any for why Fighter is an acceptable skill to use for an Attack of Feint in a Fight Animal conflict.