How to avoid too fast missions?

I recently got my Mouse Guard rule book and I will be running it this Thursday using sample characters and Find the Grain Peddler -mission. After reading the whole book and reading the mission multiple times I have some questions that I would like to get answers to.

From how I have read the Grain Peddler mission is that with two lucky and successful tests GM turn can be over, fast and quite boring, without leaving much for Players turn ether. But when you read the mission, it basically says that successful scout and successful persuasion tests are all that is needed to get over GMs turn.

So first question is. Have I read it right? And if I have what should I do to avoid missions being over too fast. I thought about making the integration of Peddler a conflict, at least.

Also I would like to know if I can introduce new obstacles to game even after successful test, for example what if Peddler tries to run after found traitor. How I see it that kind of things are for twists, but can they be used even after successful test. Rules seems to have one example of this in situation with snake, where if mice succeed to stay in area even when snake tries to drive them away they get attacked by snake.

Hi Apsu,

The first time out, just stick to the mission format as described in the Mission chapter. Pick two obstacles and go.

Remember, complex obstacles require more than one test to bypass. Also, conflicts tend to generate a lot of checks.

If your GM’s Turn happens fast, go into a Players’ Turn and then jump right back into a GM’s Turn. It’s a nice rhythm.


Thank you Luke.

I had realised that complex obstacles and conflicts are good places to earn checks. But how I saw it the Grain Peddler mission can be over with two simple tests and it might be so that unexperienced players won’t get any checks, resulting short players turn.

But I liked your pice of advice about multiple GMs and players turns. It is a great solution for my problem of “What if GMs turn and players turn are both really short?”

Well, than you one more time, I’ll remeber your advice tomorrow while playing.

Another way is to get your players to accept failure as interesting, and thus earn checks by reducing their dice and increasing the obstacle’s dice… and thus triggering more table talk and more complications.

If you also use complications instead of conditions, you can extend the GM turn…but don’t go too far.

Missions are variable in length. Sometimes they’re going to be nice and quick. Sometimes they’ll drag on for weeks.

Tonights session is over. Things went as I feared in my first post. Scout test, success. Find hidden thing from grain, success.

I ran with it like Luke said that I should do. There were no conflicts and players had only the free check in their turn. But all went well. Players got the idea and rules of the game, so my Goal as GM was achieved.

And because of the short game session we had time to make player characters that we can use next week to start a new campaign.

(edit: I want to add that I was in the middle of posting this when Apsu posted his update above. Sounds like they hit the worst case I listed below; but hopefully the players learned enough of the mechanics to know that increasing the challenge doesn’t mean failing the mission.)

I know what Aramis means … but his choice of words may be confusing.

It’s not about “accept failure” … but it’s really more about “increasing the obstacle” … the outcome of the dice roll is not really as important as getting more checks to spend during the Players Turn.

Depending on what is happening, having both a short GM turn and a short Players Turn can be a very very big problem: Is there any real meat to the storytelling? I think you may need to have a talk with your players, since they can easily be the ones driving a short cycle.

Worst case example, taking the Grain Peddler mission. The players overcome both of the GM Turn obstacles with just two rolls: A fantastic Scouting or Pathfinding roll to find the peddler; and a fantastic Persuation roll to get the information. The players did this by maximizing their dice and not earning extra checks. They end up at the Players Turn with just their single free checks. Let’s say there’s only 3 players … so they only get to pursue 3 “story points”. These could be: (1) Pathfind to Barkstone; (2) Persuation to drop off the peddler with the local authorities; and (3) Circles to have a messenger mouse sent to Gwendolyn with a progress report.

Compare with … The players don’t maximize their dice and each of the 3 players manage to earn one extra check (one from each of 2 obstacles, and a third from one of the twists). So they now get to pursue 6 “story points”. They use the same 3 above … PLUS: (4) One patrolmember uses resources to buy food and drink for everyone (to recover from some conditions suffered during the GM turn; (5) While at the tavern/bar, they seek info about who the peddler might be doing business with; (6) They manage to deceive the cartographer who is recruiting for the march against Lockhaven.

Let me put it another way …

If you are a player, then imagine that you are Kiefer Sutherland playing the role of Jack Bauer in 24.

Now, as the executive producer and the main actor, you could try to convince the writers that you want Jack Bauer to have all the possible resources at his disposal and have an extremely easy adventure in defeating the terrorist threat … the TV show is over in 24 minutes instead of 24 hours.

On the other hand, you could make the show be more exciting and interesting if Jack Bauer ran into complications, if his anger management issues started hindering his investigation, and if his patriotic “purpose driven” traits mark him as a loose cannon with the by-the-book FBI and he doesn’t get all the support he needs.

By the end of the TV series, is Jack Bauer in worse condition? Yeah! But think about what Kiefer Sutherland earned in the process!

Storm, I don’t think it’s too much of an issue, really. At least not in this case. As Apsu said, the way his session worked out allowed him and the other players to get an idea for the system and how it worked. Great!

Something to stress for the next game, though: Earning checks. How do you earn checks and why do I (as a player running a character) want them? Going through that will really flesh things out, I think.

Ultimately, if the situation recurs, you do as Luke suggested: Go into another round of GM’s Turn and Players’ Turn. There’s nothing saying that 1 GM’s Turn + 1 Players’ Turn = 1 session. If you finish one “round” quickly, go into another and keep things moving. Also remind players that they’ll always be operating on your terms unless they build up checks to do their own thing on their turn.

Agreed, and that’s what my post was trying to be about.

And now that I think about it, there’s a case that is worse than what I had outlined: The players fail the rolls at the obstacles without earning a check, and they come out of the GM turn full of conditions and just the 3 free checks. At that point, the story may be interesting, but the players are slowly losing control over which way the story goes; because they’ll be tempted to spend the few checks they have on recovery.

Yeah, but that’ll learn 'em the importance of earning checks. :wink:

About checks. Players didn’t get any, but I also explained those quite badly before the game, after they knew how GMs/Players turn thing works it was easier to explain and I’m quite sure that next week there will be some check earning.

Also after we stopped the session I said that we could start with new GMs turn or we can make characters for next time and everyone wanted to make their own character.

Talk slower. :slight_smile:

In my experience if things are going well the missions go pretty quickly. It’s when the mouse poo hits the fan is when the game takes longer and things get more interesting. You can throw the biggest nastiest bear in the forest at your mice but if the get rid of it in three actions the game isn’t that interesting. The trick is to make things difficult for the mice. Give them conditions, misleading evidence, reasons not to trust each other or anyone. This leads to a lot more dialogue and more people pitching in ideas for ways to get things done.

Players seem to have a lot more fun when they feel that despite whatever decision they make you will have something scary for them to deal with. They will banter and brainstorm trying to think of what you will do to them in every situation and try to find ways to get the most passable challenge.

Try not to have a full story thought out before playing. If you do this you will try to find ways to interpret what the players say to make it fit into your design. Instead come up with a task and let the players actions dictate what the actual story is.

I hope this was helpful and hope you enjoy the game.