Help with challenging this belief

“Life is a giant game of chess”.

This player wanted to have a destiny style look on life where if something major happens (Friend dies etc) there was nothing he could do to stop it.
Would the best way to challenge this is to give them a chance to stop it or is there a better way?

To me “Life is a giant game of chess” actually sounds more like anything can be changed if you see the pattern first.
Stoicism is one thing, but a major belief that all things are predestined is hard to use with a guard mouse whose job it is to save mice and avert disasters. I would ask the player if what he wants is a stoic character or a manipulator (chess player). Or if he really wants to be playing Mouse Guard, and if so what he wants out of the game.
As to how to challenge said character, put his loved ones in danger. Make him chose between the death of friends or the death of a whole town and see which he picks.

“Life is a giant game of chess” doesn’t really communicate much. He may know what the belief means, and you may know what it means, but I certainly don’t know what it means. I’d ask him to reformulate it in terms that are more explicit about what his mouse believes, because once that’s really nailed down you know how to challenge it.

If it really is fatalism, though, I’m not sure it’s a great belief. Beliefs shouldn’t encourage passivity, they should impel activity. “I’m helpless!” is the worst sort of belief: acting on it makes the game terrible.

I could challenge that belief in play. If you see life as a game with your friends and family as pawns, that’s aloof at best. More likely this character is a sociopath.
So simply provide him with emotional decisions. Not only “do I save the mouselings or my mom?” style decisions, but decisions about falling in love, building a family and retiring from the guard. How is that a game of chess? What happens when the game is over? Is life over?

Should be pretty easy to engage in a philosophical dialogue about this idea through play!

Thanks everyone I’ll keep these in mind in our next session.:slight_smile:

Here’s another one I need help with;

“All stories are true if you know where to look”.

I think I’d ask them to rewrite that one to comply with the definition of a belief:

A Belief is an ethical or moral statement that encompasses how the character views his world. Page 29

If the player is up for it, I’d lead them on all sorts of red herring chases and false leads. Eye witnesses to crimes would turn out to be liars; mice claiming bankruptcy would be wealthy; all sorts of con-mice would try to convince the patrol mouse to follow them on any goose chase.

In fact, that could be the life of the campaign–following untruths or half-truths to discover what about a story has a shred of truth to it and where to look for that truth.

But I’d do it with a fair degree of transparency to ensure the player is making a decision to follow thru on the PC Belief or playing against the Belief according to choice, rather than chance. What I mean is, if you use the red herring or goose chase too often, the player might begin to think it is always the case and simply stop playing the Belief with the complaint that it is never true. If the player knows, and then makes a choice as the PC, then he’s in on the hijinks. It becomes a bit meta, yet the player gets to play along with both player knowledge and PC knowledge. I assure you the transparency will make for a better experience in this case.

Be careful with aphorisms as beliefs. It’s too easy to make them either nice sounding but meaningless or pretty summations of obvious truths. Beliefs have to be more than just something that is believed, they have to be driving principles. “All stories are true if you know where to look” can be made into a motivation, but it isn’t one at first glance. “Even falsehoods are spoken with a reason, and finding the reason is finding the truth,” is better. That makes explicit following up on lies and tricks for understanding. I do think it’s important to get players to rephrase beliefs in actionable and impelling terms, because otherwise you’re just grasping at what they mean. That’s not the GMs job; it’s the player’s job to make the belief something meaty enough to challenge without mental gymnastics.

I like what you’ve added to our discussion here. I agree. The players need the Belief as an actionable principle.