Gm and Player Turns...

I’ve read the rules on the Gm and Player “turns”, but I’m still not certain what that actually entails. For example,: a dnd game. Game opens, scene set, fight starts (GM turn). After fight, PCs heal, loot etc (Players turn). Next encounter, scene described, goal, steal something, (Gm turn). B and E rolls, sneak past sleeping guards, steal object, escape (Players turn). Next encounter, hock stolen obeject, conflict is an argument over price with NPC (GM turn). Players haggle back, change mind or sell (PLayers turn). You get my drift. So, to my understanding, in essence, a DND game is a series of GM and Player “turns”.
As “turns” are in Mouse gurad, can someone explain the difference to me?

In D&D terms, the GM’s Turn is the Dungeon. The Player’s Turn is when the party heads back to town to rest up and get new gear.

So, if I understand correctly, the GM’s turn is attaiing the GOAL of the scenario and the players turn is the AFTERMATH?
Incidentally, thanks for replying to me so quickly.

“It’s good to be known, it’s better to be known as strange”.
Chairman Kaga, Iron Chef Japan

Sometimes. Sometimes, you fail to achieve your goal cleanly in the GM’s turn. Then in the player’s turn, you decide what’s important and what you want to do about it.

The interesting thing about Mouse Guard is that if you want actions to take in the player’s turn you have to earn them through role playing and challenging your character’s beliefs, along with accepting failing against an opponent, in the GM’s turn. Also you will be encouraging the other player’s to challenge their characters because you can’t spend more than one check then other players in the player’s turn.

I believe this builds a bound with the group more as they have to work together and form relationships to advance their own needs.

I wish every game system had something like this.

Reading through the forums I’ve seen where it was stated that the GM will often times flat out tell the players, “No, you can’t do that’”. I once played a game wherein whenver we went off track (according to the GM) we were told, “No, you can’t go there”. We never played with him as a GM again as the game was sripted so there was no role-playing.
The whole, rolling only when and what the GM tells you seems too restrictive. Why can’t a player make search rolls, or healing rolls before going on? To simply say, “You don’t have time to heal” doesn’t add a sense of urgency, but rather, it tells the players, “Look, this is my game and I want it to go this way”. That’s not good gaming.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m intrigued by the game, am a fan and bought the box set the moment I found out it was available and I’m not sorry I did. For the price, in todays gaimng market, the box set is a really good deal.
Is there some place I can go to read or hear a game in session to understand the whole turn concept?

Those are good questions. One philosophy behind MG is that the GM doesn’t ask you to roll unless they’ve thought about that test and decided the results are worth rolling for and will be interesting. This results in fewer but more meaningful rolls. So, no endless searching when there’s nothing for you to find. If the GM asks for a scout roll, it’s because you’re either going to get the clue (success), or you’re going to get the clue with a cost (Condition), or the situation is going to dramatically change (Twist). With regard to Conditions, that’s the price you paid for getting what you want. If you get the clue and then roll to heal and recover after each condition, what’s the point? The healing roll is boring and Conditions are rendered a waste of time.

Also, by spending 2 checks, you can find time to heal during the GMs turn. Outside that, yes, the restrictive nature of the frame is there to enforce just how much the world is out to get you as a mouse and that there’s only time for the mission, and that only the mission is important. That said, it’s not a perfect fit for everyone.

Give it a try if you’re interested yet, but make sure that your group knows what they’re getting into. Good luck :slight_smile:

Mouse Guard is different than other roleplaying games. In order to simulate the urgency of the comics, we built the turn structures. The turn structures let the players know that they’re under pressure, just like the guardmice in the comics. You should try it out. It works way better than I ever thought it would.

The turn structure requires buy in from the players. If they aren’t bought into the concept then it’s not going to work. This means either they’ve read the rules for it or had it explained to them. If they don’t have this knowledge then the player’s turn doesn’t look like it has much value to it.

Also think of it this way too. If you got a bad cut while on a camping trip with friends, and none of them were doctors, would you be able to get stitched up, antibiotics and bed rest to recover if you had to hike five miles that day?

Without magic healing on the go is nearly in possible. You can stabilize someone but healing is much different.

If someone wants to search an area for something when nothing is there to be found why would you have them role, unless you were trying to deceive them?

In D&D, and other games like it, the characters are extremely powerful, almost god like to the towns folk, and the laws of reality are bent so hard it baffles the mind. Mouse Guard has no magic and the mice are vulnerable. So if you want to play Mouse Guard you have to unlearn all that you know about Role Playing. Also Mouse Guard encourages Role Playing more than any game system I played before. And I played a lot of then since 1981.

Also a GM should rarely say no. They should just set the Ob rating at its reasonable level. Sometimes that can be too high for the players to accomplish.(I can say I am going to flip the car over but without lots of help I am not going to no matter how hard I try.)

Give the game a chance and you will find it is a great breath of fresh air after many stale games repeating the same uber gaming.

Thank you one and all for your replies. In the context as explained by all of you I now have a much clearer understanding of the reasoning behind the structure. I’ve got my first MG planned for next week, a test run. I am very intrgued by the whole concept and will be giving it a try hopefullty in the next few days.

Thanks again for all the come backs,

Yes, the Actual Play forum has threads where people talk about the Mouse Guard games they are running. I put [-Actual-Play-GM-s-Turn-and-Player-s-Turn"]one of my own]([Mouse-Guard)there specifically to illustrate how the Turn structure works in play. Hopefully you find it helpful.

I’m glad you’re getting a chance to give the game a shot, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.


In my play of the game, I’ve been seeing two aspects of the GM’s/Players’ Turn mechanic that seem relevant to this conversation:

  1. A GM can say “no” in the GM’s Turn. However, “no” often actually means something more like, “Not yet, but if that’s something you really want to do, you can do it later if you earn enough checks.”

  2. I see the GM’s Turn as a kind of “GM’s Insurance vs. Players”. It allows the GM to formulate several scenes or aspects of a story, knowing that the players cannot (at least initially) veer the story off-course as it is so easy to do in some other RPGs. The Players’ Turn is where the tables turn. It’s the “Players’ Insurance vs. GM Railroading”, where they can direct the story more in the directions of things that interest them. The system of checks and balances (GM’s Turn limited by 2 Obstacles, Players’ Turn limited by earned Checks) keeps things both fair and interesting.