First baby steps in Mouse Guard

Tonight me, my fiance, and three friends had our first go at Mouse Guard. I GM’d the session with the other 4 forming the fledgling patrol. It was an impromptu session so I hadn’t really prepared for it, other than reading through the rulebook of course.

I decided to go for the Grain-Peddler mission, but with a few differences. Firstly we all decided that we would be more invested in the characters if we made our own characters. We spent at least 90 minutes doing this, working through the recruitment section of the rule book and discussing ideas. I think this worked really well and, although the patrol may not have the best spread of skills, everyone really got into the process. The result was a patrol consisting of the following characters.

Abram: A 50 year old grey furred Patrol Leader from Lockhaven. His shaggy unkempt facial fur looking very much like a beard. He lost an eye in a long forgotten battle and so wears an eye-patch. He is a short, stout mouse, serious, stoic and unyielding. A large axe is his weapon of choice, he is a skilled fighter and skilled pathfinder.

Loonis: A 15 year old black furred tenderpaw, her mentor being Abram the Patrol Leader. She is an inquisitive mouse from Sprucetuck who is obsessed with other animals. She leaves no stone unturned and will often think of paths and ideas others don’t even consider. Her tail is incredibly long, a family trait. Her preferred weapon is a sling. Although she is not able to wear a guards cloak she does wear a colourful scarf.

Titus: A young determined blonde guard mouse also from Sprucetuck. He is a scientist and cartographer. He wields a bow and carries his map making equipment in a small waterproof pouch. Titus managed to convince the Sprucetuck magistrates not allow Loonis to join the guard after she was convicted on a charge of petty theft.

Quinn: A brown guard mouse from Port Sumac, she has a distinctive white stripe on her nose. She is very knowledgable about the weather, but also a skilled hunter.

(I’m writing this without the character sheets so I am little hazy on some of the details)

This was my first time GMing an RPG so I’m not sure if I did everything properly. But the important thing is that everyone seemed to have fun. Below I am going to tell the tale of this patrol and their mission to find the missing grain peddler.

The patrol gathered after they were summoned by Gwendolyne. She informed them of the mission to find the missing grain-peddler who had gone missing somewhere on route from Shaleburrow and Barkstone. She also took Abram aside and informed him of the possibility that the peddler is a spy, giving him a special mission to find evidence proving that he is a spy. Once the group gathered their equipment and supplies they got on the road to Shaleburrow (I got them to roll and easy pathfinder test to get to Shaleburrow). Being Autumn there was a prolonged spell of cold rain that made their journey miserable and wet (survivalist test, passed).

Once in Shaleburrow the patrol decided to have a good nights sleep to recharge. In the morning they searched for someone with knowledge of the town to ask about the missing peddler (circles test, passed). Another grain-peddler named Jonas seemed to know the most. He had seen the grain-peddler in the tavern in Shaleburrow talking to two armed, black furred mice. Jonas also informed the patrol that the missing peddlers cart had freshly painted red wheels. The patrol couldn’t find any more information on the two black mice so they decided to head out to check the road from Shaleburrow to Barkstone.

The rain had brought down leaves from the trees, the path wasn’t poorly maintained but the leaf cover made it more difficult to look for signs of the peddler (pathfinder test, failed). Frustrated by the lack of progress the patrol sat down for a bite to eat and a rethink. From behind a tree emerged a cheeky ground squirrel intent on stealing the patrols supplies and bury them for winter. The patrol jumped to their feet and grabbed their weapons. While the squirrel skittered around looking for an opening, Titus and Loonis tried to get into a position where they could their long range weapons. Meanwhile Abram tried hacking at the squirrels hind legs, he nicked some flesh but barely slowed it down. Quinn made a daring move and sprung into the air and onto the squirrels back, she ran up to the top of it’s head and jabbed a dagger into it’s forehead. The pain was too much for the squirrel and it fled. All the running around in an attempt to get a good shot at the squirrel left Titus and Loonis tired (condition applied as a small compromise).

The patrol found the squirrel’s burrow on the other side of the tree, inside the burrow was an upturned grain cart with red wheels. A quick search by Abram revealed a detailed map of Lockhaven covered in notes and marks, all but confirming Gwendolyne’s fears. There was no sign of the peddler but Loonis decided that she might be able to spot something from a higher vantage point. She climbed as high up the tree as she could (nature test) and managed to spot a sodden, miserable looking mouse with grey fur sheltering under a near by shrub. Abram sent Loonis and Titus to get the peddler and bring him back to the burrow for questioning. The peddler spotted them coming and made a break for it, Titus and Loonis were soon in hot pursuit (chase conflict). Titus sprinted directly towards the peddler hoping to tackle him to the ground, but the peddler dodged through a gap between two roots. The peddler sprinted for the bushs, Loonis had other ideas though and flung a rock from her slingshot. The rock hit the back of the peddlers head, knocking him to the floor. The peddler was up and running before either mouse could reach him, he dodged under a low branch and vanished into the undergrowth. All was not lost though, when the peddler fell he dropped an ornate dagger on the ground. A clue! (This is where the GM turn ended, the mission was complete, but there were plenty of questions)

The patrol made their way to Barkstone to look for answers. Loonis tried to find someone who would be able to tell the patrol where the grain was headed (spent check for a circles test, failed). She didn’t manage to find anyone but she did notice the change in mood whenever people in the town noticed the cloaked guard mice approaching. Abram was suspicious and made his way to the local’s tavern, as the mice entered they could feel the atmosphere in the bar change. For some reason the residents of Barkstone (or at least some of them) did not like the guard. Abram approached the barmouse despite the fat old mouse’s orders to leave. The barmouse refused to tell Abram anything, at least until Abram produced some coins and slid them towards the barmouse (resources test, passed). The barmouse didn’t know about the map but he did recognise the decoration on the dagger. Apparently there have been multiple mice over the past few weeks wearing weapons decorated with the same ebony patterns and engravings. Most had black fur and those who did not wore black leather armour. After being told this little bit of information the tavern muscle ushered the guard mice out the tavern. The doors locked behind them.

Quinn had kept quiet in the bar and didn’t trust they had been told everything they needed to know. She removed her cloak and weapons and went back to the locked bar door. The peephole slid open and the eyes of the black furred mouse bouncer peered out. She managed to convince the black mouse that she was from Elmoss and visiting her cousin in Barkstone (deciever test, passed). The bouncer let her into the bar. She took a seat near a group of slightly drunk local mouse and listened. They spoke loudly and unashamedly about the dislike of the mouse guard, of how lockhaven held too much power over the territories and how one day they would learn their lesson. Quinn didn’t find out anything concrete but it certainly confirmed their fears that things weren’t right in Barkstone.

While Quinn gathered what information she could in the bar Titus took the opportunity to map the areas they had travelled through on the way to Barkstone. He found a table in the local inn and produced his cartography equipment, it had thankfully remained dry despite the persistent autumn rain on their travels (cartography test, failed). Titus was tired from his travels and clumsily knocked his pot of ink over, it covered his parchment in dark ink, ruining his map.

Loonis meanwhile crafted some medicine to help relieve the tiredness of her and Titus (healer test passed).

(This is where the player turn ended).

Things weren’t perfect but overall I think it went well considering it was our first session. Comments would be greatly appreciated from experienced players. One thing I tried to push players to do was to use their traits against themselves to earn check but it only happened once (Loonis getting her long tail stuck when climbing the tree). I think next time they will do more to earn checks. Conflicts took a bit of getting used to. For the most part I gave the players alot of freedom to solve the problems themselves, there was plenty of discussion as to what they could accomplish with each skill.

Is it feasible for player to solve an obstacle using multiple tests? Maybe one to create a certain piece of equipment and then another to test the use of the equipment. Or would this be accomplished with one roll including a +1D for help?

There were a few other things but I’ll get to those tomorrow. I’ve been writing this post for far too long.

Sounds like you had a great time. Well done!

About multiple tests, lookup the rules on complex obstacles on page 92. Also, if one of the mice wants to create a tool, let common sense guide you. Apply conditions and twists as needed.

Players should create tools in the PT. During the GM’s turn, there should be a sense of urgency and thus no time to stop and mess around.