I was figuring I’d take a crack at a Firefly/Serenity hack for Mouse Guard (hence the title). I sifted through the forum and notices that the biggest sticking point was Nature. I brainstormed on the idea for quite some time with a number of friends (who range in experience with gaming in general and Mouse Guard in specific from null to habitual gamers, as well as all of them being huge Firefly junkies), and the biggest conclusion we came to was that the Overarching Force that both helped them complete jobs and opposed them at every turn could easily be simply Resources.
Think about it: Life on the edge Alliance control, picking up jobs where you can for money, having to spend money to keep your second-(or third-)hand ship still flying, having to buy and kitbash all sorts of gadgets to complete jobs and get out of all sorts of situations, and affluence simply getting in the way.
Give Resources the keywords “Escaping, Scrounging/Scavenging, Hiding, Juryrigging,” as those are the things folk on the edge need most and do best, anything else automatically taxes or taxes by margin, and I think we have something special.
“Tapping Resources(Nature)” with persona, or simply using Resources in place of a skill, would represent having purchased or jury-rigged just the right widget for the occasion.
Resources hitting 0 would represent an inability to keep the ship flying, or simply an inability to do your part and becoming planet-bound temporarily (while gaining a trait reminiscent of being dirt poor).
Resources hitting 7 would represent becoming too affluent (and plausibly stuck-up) for life on the frontier. A quick binge later (dropping Resources and gaining a trait like “Clean Hands” or “Too Well Dressed For This”) and we’re back on the ship.
Other than the Resources=Nature bit, the rest is easy peasy. Any big holes in the idea? Is there something I haven’t spotted that just makes this unworkable?
It seems to me that Nature needs to pull the characters in a different direction than their duty. In a Firefly game, the duty is obviously to keep flying and look out for the crew. I’d say that Nature should be something like “Escaping, Hiding, Accepting your place” or something along those lines.
Regardless of regularly touted axioms, it’s always seemed to me that MG Nature re: player characters is less about simply conflicting with one’s duty directly, and more about having to maintain a careful balance between doing what you want and submitting to the great overarching force. In Mouse Guard, this pull is between Mousey Nature and a guard’s honour and personal mission. At Nature 0 a mouse becomes too attached to his mission, and cannot continue being a guard until he’s worked it out (i.e. downtime via Winter Session). At Nature 7 a mouse has become “too Mousey” for the guard, and develops characteristics appropriately while shedding some of that Nature. Both ends of the spectrum muss a person up in doing his or her job.
Likewise with Resources in my proposed hack. Of course, the “calling” of the characters in this is less “keep flying” and more “support ourselves in life on the frontier” as Mouse Guard is less “propagate the continued existence of the Guard” and more “protect the mice of the territories.” Resources, like Nature, can be very useful in one’s duties, hence the ability to call on it in any situation. It’s taxing to do it though, except when the chips are down and you’re ready to drop the job, or at least ready to look after your own hide more so than the job.
The "Keep Flying part of things is assumed. We’re gonna keep this ship up in the air no matter what. The question is more how; how are we going to keep things going; how are we going to get the jobs we need; how low are we willing to go to keep the ship up in the air; how are we going to deal with it when things go south; and how are we going to deal when something critical on the ship inevitably breaks right down.
If Resources as Nature leaves a terrible taste in someone’s mouth, maybe leave Nature and resources separate, and make it Nature (Frontier) - Scavenging, Juryrigging, Escaping, Hiding. I still think the need to keep resources in equilibrium is really where it’s at though.
Yeah, Resources as Nature sounds like it could get a little too fiddly. Civilized vs. Frontier is a good rubric to judge by, though. Kinda like Alliance vs. Independent. Go too far one way, you’re hopelessly obsessed with winning the war you already lost, or you’re stuck in the Core World mindset entirely, so that you utterly despise and hate the space life. To me, Nature always seems like a conflict between the civilized and the wild (human vs. mouse).
P.S. Firefly Guard is an rockin’ awesome idea. The system would work wonderfully, because Firefly is all about beliefs, instincts, goals. Albeit a tad lethal at times.
Very true, but if it’s the beliefs, instincts, and goals that attract Tilde_See to MG, wouldn’t Burning Empires be a more appropriate system to tweak? Granted, I haven’t read most of Burning Empires, but I’m going to make the assumption that it might be more feasible considering it’s in a science fiction setting using humans as PCs.
From what I’ve looked at in Burning Empires, it’s got a very strong focus on the "big picture"of things, of nation conflicts and the human/alien struggle. In my mind, the idea of Mouse Guard (a group of mice adventuring out in a big world) matches the idea of Firefly a lot better (a group of people flying through a big 'verse). The other thing is, Firefly is far more of a western than a sci-fi series, anyhow. So the sci-fi bit isn’t necessarily relevant.
Now that I’ve taken the time to watch Serenity, I entirely agree (admittedly, I hadn’t seen the movie or the series until just a while ago). Also, I do think that, possibly in addition to the manipulation of the Resources stat, that Nature be implemented for humans just as it is for mice. For instance, it is in human nature to work as a team; teamwork was a requisite when our species was young and fending off predators that were (and, for many, are) able to quickly take us down. Now that we have developed civilization, on the other hand, selfishness has flourished.
For this, I suggest that human Nature be defined, more or less, as teamwork. Those whose Nature have been reduced to zero have become selfish, only concerned with saving their own skin. Those whose Nature have reached it’s maximum, on the other hand, have become doormats, concerned mostly with pleasing others.
I thought this would be appropriate for what is otherwise a very character-driven setting, especially one where human nature comes into play so often (or at least so it seemed from Serenity)
I like that idea! Think of it this way: Firefly has as a major theme the idea of loyalty to others. Mal is all about his crew, and how his crew is his crew, even Simon, who starts as more of a hindrance to them. So maybe something like “Nature: Crew”, or something similar. Here’s something to consider–if Nature is about working with others, that means following your Nature leads you to associate more closely with the law, ergo with the Alliance. Taxing your Nature leads you to take Maverick actions, like the Independents. Which means that, like in Mouse Guard, you’ll be working against Nature to do a lot of stuff. I like that. It’s shiny. So maybe “Nature: Citizen”? Descriptors “assisting”, “lawful”, “protecting”, something like that?
Also: glad to hear you’ve now seen the series. One of the best things I’ve watched in a long time.
That sounds like a good idea on paper, but I think one universal form of Nature will work to make things less complicated because, keep in mind, another part of human Nature is obedience to authority, so those two alone will be able to encompass any kind of character, civilian or otherwise, and we haven’t even scratched the surface yet.
Well, I recommend (for ease of play) that there be one Nature for all people: Teamwork, Following, Cautious, Tool Making/Using. Your common citizen will have a very high nature, followed by your more radical citizen, followed by a ship crew member, followed by a ship captain, and finally followed by a major business or political leader.
It sounds good to me. What do you think?
EDIT: Sorry if I’m not being as open minded as I should in regards to implementing multiple forms of Nature for different types of characters. I feel that it would limit the characters to their societal roles instead of what people are at their core; I believe the universal system would be more realistic and, at the same time, more flexible. However, if you are attached to the idea of multiple forms of Nature, I’d be more than willing to throw some ideas your way, but I highly urge you to use a universal system, even if it isn’t the one I pointed out specifically.
I like the idea of a Serenity RPG played with Mouseguard.
It goes well with the genre of a small team tackling the universe.
As for Nature, I also think it should be one nature for all humanity and leave it as is…
What I mean is the more near to 0 you get in Mouseguard, the more humanlike you become.
I would state that that is the ultimate “Civilized” being.
Too much that way, you go out of adventuring.
The reverse would be to “Barbaric” and you can’t stand people anymore.
Basically, the nearer 0 you get, the more you will disappear and you will only think of others.
The nearer to 7 and the more you think about only yourself.
To me Firefly is the ultimate struggle between what you have to do for yourself and what you have to do for others.
Now, all the descriptors go to the mousy nature in Mouseguard so for Firefly, I’d go very “Basic” human primal stuff.
Something like: … winning, controlling, hoarding, and something else…
Wich is an ironic wink to society, most “higher up the food chain / sophisticated” people in term of money are actually very barbaric in nature!
I think that the descriptors are good except for law-abiding.
The reason is that nature descriptors push characters towards the upper hand of the scale where they return to beasts.
Lower end of the scale is where you are more human, work in collectivity, abide by the law and sacrifice yourself for the greater good.
Remember also the use of the nature stat number in the easiness of learning new skills with beginner’s luck.
More “civilized” people get skilled, more “barbaric” people survive against the odds (while their persona points last).
Well, part of the reasoning I’m seeing is that Nature is what you struggle against to adventure. Nature is the one thing which really gets in the way of your adventuring. You have to struggle against what your nature is pulling you towards in order to survive. The Nature of a mouse tugs at them, trying to get them to settle down and not fight or adventure. The Guard knows that they have to fight this, because they serve a purpose beyond it. Of course, if they fight it too hard, they lose touch with their roots (Nature 0), and get lost in their zeal.
It doesn’t really seem so much “human vs. beast” to me, considering it like that. Something key to remember is that if abiding by the law is what taxes nature, then you’ll actually want to raise nature in order to play in the 'Verse, because you’re breaking the law a lot.
I think “Law-abiding” would become far too common to consider. Constantly having your Nature taxed will get very distracting. Granted, it is a very important stat in Mouse Guard, but it isn’t constantly being challenged.