GMs Turn ?(s)

My group is very used to other systems so I need to get something straight:

I, the GM, am supposed to prefab (or fabricate on the fly based on twists) every GM Turn test. I decide before hand how many pathfinding, survivalist etc. tests will need to be made and when the players hit those obstacles they roll as dictated?

Example: “You’re in the woods, make a pathfinding test to find your way.”
Then they roll and pass or fail then I determine consequences.

We’re awfully used to “We need to find our way in the woods, ok, can I roll Archivist to remember a landmark I read about or Astrology-Wise to follow constellations for direction?”

Would an appropriate player’s turn test be “I wander off into the woods for some alone time and test Pathfinding to get back.” allowing players to use their strengths in creative ways as they describe…

Thanks for any input!


See page 70. I’ve posted a pertinent snippet from that page below.

Players’ Role in the GM’s Turn

During the GM’s Turn, the players must confront the obstacles placed before them by the GM. Describe your character’s reactions to the obstacles. Describe what he says and does to try to overcome.

The GM will point to certain tests to overcome obstacles. The players may suggest other tests, other ways to navigate the situation.

The GM must suggest at least one way to overcome the Obstacle. The GM may suggest other ways.

The players can chat about it briefly, but no dilly dallying. If a player suggests an alternate course of action to overcome the Obstacle and the GM thinks it is appropriate, then the player who made the suggestion tests.


You might have been rattling off a quick example, but the obstacles in the GM’s Turn need to be specific. “Make a Scout test to find the peddler before he reaches Barkstone,” or “Test Pathfinder to locate the ruins of Ferndale out in the Darkheather.” Then, one of the players will volunteer herself for the task. This isn’t a game where the players are just “in the woods” sometimes.

During the GM’s Turn, there should be one test or conflict at the heart of each mission obstacle. This is similar to how scenes work in the Players’ Turn–they revolve around one test or conflict. Everything else is incidental. Identify two obstacles crucial to the mission and Say Yes to everything else.

If your players are requesting scenes like this, you’re not hitting them hard enough. There’s no conflict here, nothing to be gained outside a passed or failed skill test. Tell the player he gets out and back without incident and then ask “Now what?” They players should be spending their checks recovering, hashing out their relationships, resolving unfinished business from the GM’s Turn, or preparing for future missions. All this leaves little time for nature walks, but I have a feeling your players will have plenty of interesting things they want to do when it is their opportunity.

With only 1 session under our belt my players are so used to being resources hogs and “failure means death or total plot derail” afficianados that they were totally unwilling to use traits to nerf themselves. As a result they had 0 spare checks (though they did dominate most Obstacles).

I think once we get a little more comfortable with the idea of “ok, if I don’t roll well enough we still move forward I’m just at a minor penalty…” they’ll embrace the RP opportunity of traits impeding them. Especially once we all grok that failure is half the path to improvement!

Thanks Pete for the snip from the book. I’m however pretty anal and my group is pretty… argumentative, so I prefer to have all possible solutions in front of me so they can just pick one. If I let them hash out elaborate plans to use science as astronomy to make a space cartography check to make a map so they can find a space prostitute on a corner who will give them a bonus die because she’s a local… you get the point. A big selling point for me was the 3 hour time frame for the average session and the compromises for conflicts. I know denying them the option of approaching problems “outside the box I’ve built” steals a little from the players but it only happens during my turn. Player’s Turn is their chance to use Scout for panty raids and Scientist to make gunpowder!

Thanks again guys!

Yeah, the GM’s Turn is your chance to beat them up. Player’s Turn is their chance to create the cockamamie plans. Once you start a series of sessions, the plans start to matter more as they roll over into the next GM’s Turn/Session.

The first time they hit a player’s turn where they have a clear agenda but not nearly enough checks to complete it, they WILL start using traits and earning checks. Mouse Guard teaches that very smoothly.

My only advice would be to start them off gently. Don’t hit them with heavy conditions, try a few light ones until they get the hang of earning checks.

I would actually like to offer an alternative point of view to this…

Don’t start off gently. Hitting them hard ESPECIALLY in the beginning will set the tone of the game! Just make sure you’re there as a GM and fellow player to let them know about all of their mechanical options. Always be fair, but keep the game challenging. They will learn the failures can be much fun for both GMs and Players.

I think that the game will get harder on the characters (not players) as their players will start to impede themselves for those all important checks, fate points, persona points, and failed tests. That’s another great thing, the players will be determining how fast it gets harder for the mice simply by taking more advantage of the system. Another thing that makes GMing fun: less worry over difficulty levels.

As far as the GM’s turn goes, don’t forget that this is YOUR time to have fun as well. You are the director of this part of the movie. If you aren’t in the driver’s seat pushing on the gas, the car will just sit there.