So, my 4 PBEM players were tasked to pour the scent border in spring. They made it to the area and were attacked by a fox. During the conflict, one player dropped out so I thematically had his mouse, the patrol leader, turn out to have been scouting ahead and he missed the whole fight. The 3 mice totally destroyed the fox, driving it away into the woods and only losing one disposition in the process. The mice then go searching for their missing patrol leader, who they find slain in the underbrush…but not by a fox…by sword or dagger wounds.
At that point I ended that GM turn and let the players begin spending checks.
First, one mouse, the grizzled veteran decided to track whomever killed the patrol leader. Done. Except I made it be a complex test involving scout followed by hunter as they closed in on the target. The second mouse agreed to this and two checks were spent. The SCOUT test was successful. They found weasel tracks. The follow-up HUNTER test was failed. I had the lead hunter get caught in a noose trap and he was strung up in a tree. A clanging bell attached to the trap announced to the enemy that they’d caught something. The weasels are heard approaching in the distance.
The next mouse, Sebastian, spends a check to quickly release his captured companion free action and then retreat silently back to the trail section where they were supposed to pour the scent border. His attitude was “live to fight another day and accomplish the main task of pouring the border”.
That’s where we are now. Am I handling this all correctly? It’s a little tricky. I was tempted to make Sebastian make an ESCAPE roll to get away from the weasels, which seems thematically correct but it didn’t seem fair to force it on the player in the player turn. What would you do? I let them escape for free and then let the player do what he wanted by initiating a LABORER test to pour the border.
I don’t think anything is wrong.
Personally, I tend to avoid placing obstacles in the Player Turn that will require them to spend checks to face an obstacle.
However, they made decisions to fulfill the mission and avoid a conflict with the weasels.
Hmmmmm… last night I woke up in the middle of the night with clarity on what I was really trying to ask:
CAN THE GM ASSIGN A TEST/OBSTACLE FOR THE PLAYERS IN THE PLAYER TURN?
CAN THE GM APPLY TWISTS TO FAILED ROLLS IN THE PLAYER’S TURN AND THEREFORE TRIGGER A SEQUENCE OF FOLLOW UP TESTS/OBSTACLES WHICH REQUIRE THE PLAYERS TO SPEND CHECKS TO RESOLVE/OVERCOME? (or should the GM just assign conditions or negative story outcomes such as tired, hungry, a new enemy, a new potential story arch (but not force them to take it), etc.
1 question : noo
2 question : kinda…
A failed roll can make a situation bad. After reading Apocalypse World i think in Mouse Guard this is the point where you “make a move” in form of a twist. Let’s say a mouse want’s to climb up a tree and fails the roll. Now i introduce a twist in form of a kestrel circling over him and having spotted him. He can do something about this or he doesn’t. If he fails his next roll the kestrel will swoop down and grap him. No the player finds his mouse in the claws of a bid that wants to eat him. He can hope his friends get him out or he can do something himself. I won’t kill him with a twist (because i can’t) but i can make the situation worse and worse if he does not do something about it. That is the price of twists after all.
Take his failure and make your move.
Players spend checks following their agendas. You can drop them in a river with twist, but I don’t think you want to force them to pay a check not to drown.
There’s a good discussion of Twists in the Players Turn on Page 75. Essentially, you use twists to setup adversity in the next GM turn.
What I would do is use conditions mainly, use twists to set up problems for the GM’s turn. Starting the next mission with Archibald just got washed down the river, someone make a Ob 3 Scout test to find him before the milk snake does sounds awesome.
So here’s ANOTHER issue. Going back the the above story in progress, Sebastian, the Tenderpaw, led his patrol hastily away from the approaching weasels. I decided that no roll was required for this because it was the player’s turn and I didn’t want to force an ESCAPE roll and a spent check on Sebastian’s turn. He decided that he wanted to return to the area where they interrupted pouring the scent border and to finish the job. That’s what HE wanted to do, so I said spend one check and make a LABORER 3 test. He didn’t have laborer and neither did his comrades, so he used his nature and rolled two successes. So, can I spin off on twists and force follow up tests, but not make those tests cost checks to do?
I appreciate the above advice. However, it seems like there should be more available to me other than just assigning conditions and allowing success at whatever they want to accomplish. The concept of twists is that you DON’T ALLOW THE SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF THE TASK AT HAND but you don’t assign a condition. But you trigger a spin off problem that must be overcome. If all I can’t do that in the player turn, essentially they would know that no matter what they want to try to do, IT WILL BE SUCCESSFUL. They only need to fear having CONDITIONS applied or possibly STORY ARCH TWISTS such as making new enemies, or new available juicy story arch problems.
In fact, I think I’ve answered my own question. I’m going to try the following: when a player fails a test after spending a check in the player’s turn, I will still use the same rules of test failure. I will choose from:
- allow the task to succeed but apply a CONDITION or create a negative story arch event
- allow the task to fail and provide a TWIST (but no condition). The spinoff twist will be a follow up test that the same mouse must lead on, but it WON’T COST A CHECK. It’ll just be an extra problem that he will have to deal with.
I think that option #2 simply MUST be an option because otherwise, the players would have no fear of failing a roll. They would know that they would always succeed.
Going back to my story in progress, I wish that I would have made Sebastian have to roll to escape the inbound weasels. LOL. Oh well, the players are all having a TOTAL BLAST, so as long as everyone is having fun I’m happy.
Feedback is still appreciated. Tell me examples of how YOU"VE handled failed tests in the players turn.
2: NO. That would give you FREE checks for advancement, this is bad.
You shouldn’t put a player in a place where he has no choice but to spend a check for X but you can make it so, that it is a choice. A hard choice maybe.
In the above example, you could have a badger drive them away from the scent border as a twist. They now have a choice, deal with the predator in the players turn or do something else. If they tackle the badger, it’ll cost at least a check. If they do other things like recover from conditions, make a tool, deal with an NPC, those may cost checks.
Assuming the badger is still out there in the next GM’s turn, you can make it “Drive the badger away from the scent border.”