Help me understand GM vs. Players' turn

I’m trying to get my head around the pacing and purpose of the GM/Players’ turn structure of play. I understand the general purpose and how they work, but I’m still struggling with the pacing of them.

For example: In our first session (Mail Delivery mission), the players’ lost the mailbag to the Raven (he’s brutal for new characters and was made more brutal by some very lucky rolls on my part). However, rather than having them simply track him down and try to recover the mail, I wanted to build upon the twist by having the Raven actually head into the Darkheather. There I thought I’d introduce a Weasel raiding party although the goal would be to avoid the party and get back to Gilpledge to warn the town.

My primary question is where do I introduce the players’ turn (PT)? I almost feel like I probably should have introduced one at each stop along the mail delivery (since they passed through several settlements) but that feels too often (and the mission text suggests that as well). However, as it stands now the pair of guard mice are pretty “beat up” due to their run-ins and experiences along the path. What kind of pacing should I be aiming for?

Also, what exactly is the objective of the GM vs. the Players’ turns? I understand what’s written in the book but I’m having a hard time really seeing the difference aside from the players’ having a bit more control over the narrative flow of things during their turn (though the GM still determines twists, conflicts, etc). Mechanically, the PT obviously gives the PCs a chance to recover, but in that case it seems like every stop along the way where they have the chance to rest ought to trigger a PT.

A few comments:

  1. perhaps, when they lost to the raven, they could have gotten the mail back, but at a cost of injuries.

  2. if you had a conflict with the raven (which it sounds like) then the weasels are a bit over the top

I announce 2 obstacles, plan a 3rd as a definite, and save the fourth type for the first twist. If I need extra twists, I won’t go more than 2 of each type of obstacles, and even then, I stop using twists and instead invoke conditions after 6 obstacles, including 1 conflict. A second conflict I only use if the players demand it.

So, after 4-6, obstacles, if they aren’t on track, one more to reach a safe haven of some kind, and player turn. Same mission continues following. I’ve done that once. (all 4 mice sick, injured, hungry and tired.)

Then again, in the player turn, I let them narrate until I think they need a roll… then they get about 1-3 sentences on a success, and turn over to someone else with checks.

You’re fighting your good instincts, MJ. Page 69, Moving from Obstacle to Obstacle supports your impulse to bring in the weasels. Failure can be used to introduce new obstacles that make matters worse.

You don’t introduce a Players’ Turn at every city on the mail route because this isn’t an extended mission and the players haven’t completed their mission.

Send them into the wilderness after the raven. Have them encounter weasels. You’re the GM, you get to do fun stuff like that. You tell them what the obstacle is.

So if you want to have them encounter the weasels coming for Gilpledge: Scout vs Scout to spot the weasels and then Nature vs Nature for the chase. Two rolls as part of one complex obstacle and the twist is done.