How do you make a session of MG last long enough?

Hey there, this is my first post. I have played other RPGs, most often Dungeons and Dragons, and in those games there is a lot that goes on in between conflicts. some one could be buying more potions, there could be travel involved, long discussions, multiple characters going off on separate missions. Most of all there is a lot of room for actual role playing, and building your character a bit. From the way the Mouse Guard RPG book made it sound you go from one conflict to another, 4 to 6 times and then its done. Sessions I have been a part of in the past lasted 4 hours, or atleast two. and I just dont see how a mission in mouse guard last more than an hour. Can someone who has successfully played before please explain to me how a typical game usually plays out?

Thanks a lot.


PS: I know I have a stupid user name, I just wanted to be able to post on the forums quickly.

If your group prefers a “slower pace” I can see a few things you could try.

As long as no dice are being rolled there is no reason the players can’t RP to their hearts content in any turn. During the GM turn they can do so between conflicts and if a die roll seems eminent then push the next conflict down on them, “it is then that you see a dark shadow pass overhead…” (animal conflict go!).

During the Player turn there is even less constraint, they just have to be aware that if they make a roll because of RP they used one of their checks for the turn.

Plus: travel and buying stuff and whatnot is already built into the rules. Although splitting up is just plain deadly, “oops a frog” (dead).

Welcome to the forums! :slight_smile:

My MG sessions generally last between 2 and 4 hours. I’d say 3 hours is average (2 for GM’s Turn, 1 for Player’s Turn). If I want a longer session, we just do Rewards and go straight into another mission.

You’d be surprised at how long those conflicts last if you use a mixture of simple tests, complex harzards and full conflicts, while encouraging helping and trait usage.

It’s funny how you ask this, since certain things (such as buying potions) with some groups I played with go something like: “I want 5 Cure Lights, How much should I subtract from my sheet?”, since they’re just trying to gear up for the next big fight. With Mouse Guard my players tend to actually want to roleplay out various “small” scenes such as dealing with merchants.

I think a big part of this is that the character creation system in Mouse Guard forces players to actually think out multiple aspects of their characters, other than just “the numbers”.

Another answer to this question is: Success is boring. An overly short Mouse Guard game means that you’re taking it too easy on your players, and they’re passing all of their tests. This leads to no complications, which means a very linear, quick (and boring) game.

You know, I thought that once, too, but in practice I found [-Actual-Play-GM-s-Turn-and-Player-s-Turn&p=72346#post72346"]that wasn’t the case]([Mouse-Guard).


Another thing worth pointing out, because I didn’t see it explicitly mentioned:

Narrate, narrate, narrate!

Some groups get stuck in a rut: okay, it’s an Ob 4 pathfinder test to get to the next village. roll Success. Okay, you’re at the city. BORING

This goes for conflicts, too. Don’t just say I attack roll. Embellish! Describe!

It wasn’t clear from the OP whether your group is doing that or not. If not, definitely stay on top of it. Don’t let any rolls happen without some narration to back it up.

What you’re describing is a feature, not a bug. You can always have another GM’s Turn / Player’s Turn. My record is 3 full cycles in about 3 hours (with myself GMing plus 2 players who already knew the game—we weren’t rushing, the game was just really humming).


I’ll echo what has been said above. Especially that it is possible to play multiple cycles in a single game session.

As long as everybody is having fun, you’re doing it right.

I’ve been an RPG player for a long time but am about to GM Mouse Guard with my regular group for the first time tomorrow night. Its taken me a long time to finally get my head around the rules and summon the courage to put it in front of the others. I have to say that I’m honestly fascinated to see how it will pan out as the system is unlike anything we’ve ever played. I’ve summarised the rules for myself countless times in order to ensure that I can run it smoothly without too much reference to the book.
I understand that it is very much a group driven game with the players developing the story as much as the GM; I can’t wait to see the response tomorrow night when they realise they have to do some work for a change!
That said, having been over the rules again and again I still don’t believe that any of the sample missions could last more than 45 mins as compared with our usual 4 hour RPG sessions. I’m starting with “The Grain Peddlar” but have basically made notes so that I can present the rest of Autumn 1152 (or Fall 1152 as some of you refer to it) as game plot if they fly through the sample mission too fast. None of my group have read any of the comics which is useful in that sense.
I shall report back tomorrow, if I survive!

My sessions last between 2-3 hours. And you should have no problems afjudge. Mouse Guard can be a little overwhelming to those not use to how it plays but once you do and actually get a few games in, you will get the hang of it rather quick. The system for Mouse Guard has become one of my top systems hands down and it is an added bonus that it is all about my favourite comic series as well. Look forward to hearing how your first session worked out for you. Also want to say as a side note that the Box Set is stunningly gorgeous and is a must have.

Following my previous post I GMed my first game of Mouse Guard last night and it was a great success. I was a little nervous that the Grain Peddler scenario seemed a little thin for a whole evenings entertainment and indeed after handing out the characters, giving a brief rundown of the rules and introducing the set-up we ended up getting through the mission (including a fight with the snake) in about 1.5 hours. After that it was interesting to see how it worked as I handed over the narrative to the player’s and let them decide what happens next. Having a few experienced GMs at the table helped as they were willing to throw themselves wholeheartedly into some outrageous situations.
What was immediately apparent though was how reluctant the players were to earn checks; its not in the nature of old school RPGers to willingly break a tie in favour of the GM or to hand +2D to their opponent, so I had to play a little loose with the checks and tests in the Player’s part of the game.
The compromise negotiations also threw them a bit at the end of the first conflict, but by the end of the game they were making some great suggestions. A fight between the patrol (goal: escape) and the town guard in Barkstone (goal: capture the patrol) ended in a zero disposition tie, so one of the players suggested that since neither side achieved their goal it should end in a stand-off with the patrol trapped in a warehouse like Butch Cassidy & Sundance.
We ended up playing for nearly four hours and it got the thumbs up all round. A great game indeed. Thanks Luke.


Your players need to understand that all of MG involves failing forward. Even if they hand 2D to the GM, they’re just complicating the situation for themselves. I don’t think you ever really “fail” outside scripted conflicts.

I’m glad it went well. I knew time management wasn’t going to be a problem. :slight_smile:

As for the checks/PT system: Mouse Guard is designed to be played and learned over multiple sessions. The most players – experienced or otherwise – won’t get it in the first session. But by showing them how they need checks in the players’ turn, the system clicks for most players and they start to add characterization in the second session.

The idea of buying checks is one aspect I’m having difficulty getting across to the players in my game. I’ve explained it to them before all three sessions, but I think they’re having issues getting over the ‘but if I fail my roll I fail my task’ mind set hammered in by past game systems. (Heck, I’m GMing and I fell back into that at the end of the session prior to this most recent one.)

Also, we start out narrating OK, but we find ourselves getting caught up in the card interactions as much as the narration of the events, so it starts to die down about half way through the first Conflict. (At least we noticed it, so we can work on it!)

I only had one session that ran shorter than expected, and that was the night where all of the players were rolling incredibly on the dice. (Over the course of the night, I think 6 dice came up ‘cowards’ for the players.) My big mistake that night was that I had actually set up all of the really interesting things to happen as a result of complications on simple tests used to help set the scenes. With the way they rolled, none of those complications happened. That was a planning failure on my part, excusable only because it was my second session ever. Fortunately, I learned from that. (Speaking of which, I really need to update my Missions thread with the group’s progress.)

If they’re not earning checks, focus on beating them up more in the GM’s Turn. If they have a bunch of conditions, they’ll want the checks in order to recover. As for narration, don’t let anyone roll dice until you’re satisfied. Don’t let them help if they don’t describe how they’re helping.