FINALLY Running Mouse Guard

Hi All:

Been lurking for a while, but as I finish up the reading of the rulebook and prep for our first session, I just wanted to start my salvo of questions around Goals.

I read a post that had many replies centering around Goals and frankly, I think it confused me more! LOL

Like many on the forum here, I’m an ex-D&D GM, so these new rules are WAY different, but I’m looking forward to using them and so are my players (we’re all in our 40’s, so we have a good group of mature players).

So back to the specific question re: Goals. It seems there are a number of Goals that come up in the game. There’s character goals which are the ones that actually create your character’s personality. Then, there seems to be a Mission Goal (“Deliver mail to a town.”). But then, there also seems to be “situational” goals specific to conflict. The post I read had to do with a snake taking a mouse away to eat and the other Mouse Guard players trying to save him. Their Goals seemed to have changed at that moment from “delivering the mail” to say, “saving their fellow guard mouse.”

I hope this isn’t annoying to ask all of you to re-explain this but it seems to be a major part of the game that I want to understand before running it.

Thanks ans I look forward to ‘meeting’ all of you.

Congrats on getting started! I’ve only run a few sessions, so I’m still wet behind the ears, but I think I understand your confusion.

From what I understand, there are 2 types of goals: an initial goal that each players set for themselves after hearing the mission (progress/accomplishment of this goal counts towards reward at the end of the session) and conflict goals that each side set when engaging in a conflict, which are a statement of what each side hopes to achieve by fighting/arguing/fleeing, etc. These conflict goals are important for determining compromises because they set the stakes.

I’d be happy to give some examples, but I don’t have my book in front of me, so they’d be pretty hand-wavy. Hope that gets the ball rolling.

What’s your question? There’s a whole lot of statements in there.

Thanks for the quick response! When you get some time, I’d love to read accounts of your first missions! Your post made a lot of sense. Particularly, I’d like to read more about what makes good (and not good) conflict goals. Again, that post I’m referring to said to NOT allow diametrically opposed goals.

Further thoughts?

Hi Luke,

I would just like more clarification around what makes good/not good conflict goals to start.

At start, the goal line is empty - players fill it in after being briefed. So, IMO, a good goal is one that they can achieve during or immediately following the mission, but isn’t automatic. Especially if it’s something that will require a check to accomplish.

Sure thing, I wrote up an account of my first session a while ago:[MG]-First-time-GM-runs-Deliver-the-Mail

It was a bit bumpy, but the players had a blast and have lobbied for a big campaign, set to start just before Halloween.

And as for what makes good conflict goals, they don’t have to be complicated, and the book provides a list of good verbs to use for each conflict type. Say for an argument: “I convince So-and-so to admit he’s a no-good thief who stole my girlfriend.” In the event of a compromise, So-and-so might say, “Yeah, I did take your girlfriend, but I’m not a no-good thief. I’m just a bolder mouse than you.” You have to have a goal beyond simply winning the conflict, because the scripting/dice will decide that outcome for you. In the example above, I won the argument sure, but victory wasn’t all that sweet. Pick something achievable and open to compromise, and you should be fine.

Incompatible conflict goals [me: “I kill the snake.” snake:" I survive the encounter."] are problematic in the event of ties, because, in those cases, both sides achieve their goals, but a snake cannot both be killed and survive. Easy test to avoid this kind of error, just ask if both sides could get want they want without creating a paradox (undead snake). If the answer is no, then tweak one of the goals.

I’ll take a look at your past thread…much thanks, and also thank you for further clarifying Goals. It made sense to me explained that way (I liked your “easy test” LOL). I will share our adventure once through with it as well.

I’ll have more questions as we play more, I’m sure, and I’m grateful for this forum.

Thanks again!!

Something important to note, especially for D&D converts (myself included) is how it’s actually very, very important in Mouse Guard to actually write your Goals on your sheets. Don’t just discuss them casually at the beginning of the session (or not at all, which seems to be how most other RPGs are played), but actually write them on your character sheet.

To me, Mouse Guard seems to be a far more focused game than D&D. If you want to accomplish something specific, then that specific thing is written on your character sheet. And you had damn well better be actively working toward your Goal, or you’re not going to see much in the way of reward/advancement for your character, no matter how many dragons… er, snakes, you kill.

You can check out some play postings from my group linked here and here

I come from the 4e D&D background before learning and playing MG. I found that one method of helping everyone learn was running the sample missions with the sample mice. After those were complete, we created our own mice and started to use custom missions. . Some players liked the sample mice enough that they rebuilt those almost exactly.

Practicing with the samples took away the sense of urgent desire for success knowing that these characters wouldn’t be used a second time. When it came time to create characters, everyone was more prepared and aware. It helped get them invested in their mice.

I also brought colored pencils and required each player to color in their own mouse and one of the NPCs from their character sheet. I’m not sure if that helped.