For Conrad - Sadie's Initiative

(This has some Spoilers from the Autumn series of Mouse Guard. Be warned.)

When Sadie travelled to to the shore post Calogero, she found a lone member of the Mouse Guard, the peg-legged Conrad. When the Post was overtaken by crabs, Sadie barely escaped, due to Conrad’s noble sacrifice.

This decision to station one Mouse Guard member was hotly contested by Sadie, who believed that an organized troupe could have fought their way out without casualties. Conrad’s death and Sadie’s relentless campaigning brought about a new initiative.

Each Troop would be assigned an area of the Mouse Territories, an be in charge of activities within that area. They would be provided with a watch post from the generous donations by the Mouse settlements in their area, and would stay in this region for the year. Diffusing the Mouse Guard in this manner means that troop response times are much higher, and the immediate problems in the region, be it wild animals, dangerous weather, or other wilderness problems, would be dealt with quickly.

Each troop would be assigned with maintaining goodwill to the neighboring mouse settlements, as their watchpost depends on those settlement’s donations. They will be responsible for resupplying the watch post, and keeping it in good working order.

In the late Autumn, the disparate troops will be recalled to Lockhaven, for a full report over the winter months.

So that’s the premise of my Mouse Guard Campaign. The Initiative idea was based on my wish to develop a specific part of the Territories in great detail, specifically the Lilygrove-Oakgrove-Flintrust-Willowroot-Birchflow settlements around the small lake. By placing the troop in this single location, we can zoom into that part of the map and develop the area in great detail. The players are excited to use wises to detail the location, and develop the various inhabitants with Circles.

I’ve taken the time to consider things like trade routes amongst the settlements in this part of the Territories. Disruptions in trade will make for interesting missions, both in terms of shortages causing problems, dealing with the disruption itself, and the mice that are on either end of producer and consumer.

A lot of the Mouse Guard I’ve played has been in the kind of Star Trek:TNG sort of vibe, where we go to all kinds of disparate locations and solve problems. This has created a sense of disconnection. If I forge ties to someone in Shaleburrow, but then never have a mission near Shaleburrow again, it feels like the relationship I forged is a waste of time. I’m trying to create a vibe similar to Deep Space 9, where the problems solved create other problems in the area, and the relationships deepen and change over time.

We’ve taken some time to create characters with this initiative in mind, and I’ll get them up in a bit. Our first mission was a bit of a mess, mostly player eagerness to play right after we created characters, and because I didn’t know things like Beliefs and Instincts it didn’t go so great.

The second mission, with time to prepare and keep Beliefs and Instincts firmly in mind, went much better. I’ll detail that in a bit as well. We’re on a bit of a break over the Christmas season, but I hope to restart in January and play through the full year in the region.

Fugel Swaesleoth.jpg
This is Fugel Swaesleoth, the Patrol Leader of the Troop. The is one of the youngest Patrol leaders of the Mouse Guard at the tender age of 21. He’s inexperienced but eager.
Fugel’s Belief: All life is precious and mice are it’s caretakers.
Fugel’s Instinct: Never let adversity dampen my enthusiasm.
Fugel’s Goal (for the second mission) - Learn what makes these mice (of my troop) tick.

This is Sima, a Tenderpaw under the tuteledge of Fugel. She is a young mousemaid of 15, and was born with blindness. Determined to never let her blindness prevent her from her dreams, she applied to the Mouse Guard against the wishes of her overprotective parents.
Sima’s Belief: Blinkness is not a weakness, I can act as well as any seeing person.
Sima’s Instinct: Always take insult when someone mentions my Blindness.
Sima’s Goal (Mission two): Prove my usefulness by completing each tasked asked of me.

Brom is a Patrol Guard assigned to the Troop. A taciturn loner and veteran of the weasel wars, Brom sees everything through a practical lens, and favors survival over heroism.
Brom’s Belief: Bravery means living to see the job done.
Brom’s Instinct: Always Scout Alone.
Brom’s Goal (Mission two): Keep Fugel alive by keeping him out of direct danger.

Thamis Lang.jpg
Thamis Lang is a Patrol Guard assigned to the troop. Another veteran of the Weasel Wars, Thamis is a clash of insubordination and fierce loyalty, not afraid to speak him mind to protect the Mouse Guard.
Thamis’ Belief: A strong patrol thrives, a weak patrol perishes.
Thamis’ Instinct: Never back down from a challenge
Thamis’ Goal (Mission 2): Assure the natural order of the Patrol, the leader must lead, the followers must follow.

Oh man, those illustrations are sweet.

Maybe it’s just me, but… I like it more this way: “Blinkness is not a weakness, I can act as well as any seeing mouse.” xD

The third drawing is my favorite. ^^

ARGH! Curse my spelling fail.

We handed out the mouse templates to the players during character creation, and it really helped them visualize their characters as they began to draw and then pencil crayon them in. It was also a lot of fun, something I highly recommend as an optional part of the character generation process.

Plus it’s fairly easy to color in the templates to give some visuals of major NPCs.

One idea for developing continuity might be to set things up in parallel. For example:

Mission 1: Shaleburrow (Grain Peddler) vs Mission 1: Lilygrove (Deliver the Mail) If they choose to go to Shaleburrow then they catch a spy and gain favor with the Guard but because they didn’t deliver the mail from Lilygrove, the mice they are angry at the Guard.

If you set up each town as having different missions that occur at the same time as other ones, you can make it so your Patrol will naturally focus on one or just a couple areas because that’s where they’re doing the most good. Otherwise, they’ll do lots of missions but they’ll be a large amount of resentment towards the Guard. Where if they help only one or two towns, you can make the argument that the Guard is spread thin but when they come to town, they really help out.

And then once you have things set up, just recycle the order of missions so you don’t have to create so many. For example:

Mission 2: Shaleburrow (Deliver the Mail) vs Mission 2: Lilygrove (Deliver the Mail) Shaleburrow needs its mail delivered but so does Lilygrove and Lilygrove has been waiting even longer, what to do? Lilygrove won’t be happy about having to wait so long and if you ignore them again, they’ll be furious. But if you don’t deliver the mail for Shaleburrow, then they’ll be mad at you too. And, the mail for each town is going in opposite directions!

This way you give your players just enough rope to hang themselves either way and you could make their neglect of towns eventually scale up to riots or something. Also, if you have 3+ towns like you mentioned, it’ll be next to impossible to try to service them all in a timely fashion. One or more town will get left out and now maybe they’ll form an alliance against you. They’ll develop into the towns where all your evil mice are from, etc.

Finally, I like doing this because it makes your players sit down and think about what they want to do next. They have an inbox that they can’t ever keep up with. You have to make decisions and maybe if your Patrol has mice from different local towns, then they all want to help their hometowns. It’s a great way to create player conflict and to simply harass them >.^!