I need help with my belief and instinct.

I’m currently playing Grint, an older patrol guard, (48,) who is a loner. He’s a trapper/hunter/scout/guide that lives on his own most of the time, coming in when summoned to do missions for the Guard. He’s an skilled archer but only proficient with the sword. He has no interest in the politics of the Guard and thus does not wish to promote higher than his current rank of Patrol Guard. (He is, however, currently the leader of the group since our Patrol Leader was killed by a hawk.)

Grint’s current belief and instinct fit his character, but I have trouble fitting them into the game except under infrequent circumstances. I’d like to keep the themes of the belief and instinct, but re-imagine them so that they are more playable.

Grint’s Belief: Never fight what you can trap.
I’m told that this sounds more like an instinct, but, ideally, it would apply to more than just fighting. For example, instead of arguing with someone, he would manipulate them into aggreeing with him. However, with a few exceptions, the opportunity to set traps ahead of time are hard to come by. So, I would like to reword the belief, keeping the same gist, but broadening the scope.

Grint’s Instinct: [i]Always use the environment to your advantage.[i]
I believe the trouble with this instinct is more in my playing style than in the instinct itself. I’m used to D&D, which tells you in detail what your options are. MG is much more open to improvisation. During conflicts, I need to make myself use the environment, not wait for opportunities to be presented to me. However, my problem with this instinct is that it is nearly useless in some conflicts, such as arguments. How do I use the environment to my advantage during an argument?

My GM mentioned tonight that Grint may need to realize that his Belief is more appropriate to living on his own in the wilderness than as part of a patrol. My thought is that I might combine the two into a single Instinct and come up with a new, appropriate Belief. I just started thinking on this, but any input by you guys would be greatly appreciated.

I would be concerned with a loner mouse having arrived at Patrol Guard rank without an interest in internal politics. Yes Ptl Guard should be independent and capable, but they’ve also got to have the highest level of trust from the Matriarch.

I don’t see that the Instinct is much of a problem. You will have to imporvise what is in the scene rather than expect the GM to describe each detail. In fact, that is a selling point over D&D. Rather than play a game of ‘mother may i’ by asking, “Is there a rock over here,” “Does that stream bend over this way,” “How tall is the tree?” you can declare points of setting and props. It makes the entire game better when you do so. Why wouldn’t you declare the aspects of the scene that can be used by your Instinct?

It might be true that in some scenes the Instinct doesn’t fit, but that isn’t a problem. To earn the reward, you need only use it once in a session. If you are truly trying to use it in every moment of description, it might become a bit cliche.

Another factor in Instinct is creating a statement with a trigger that the GM can play with. In your current belief, there is not much a GM can do to trigger a response. Image if you swapped the current Belief to become an Instinct: Never fight an animal which can be trapped. In such a case, every time that the patrol is faced with a creature (mouse or animal), you could start to suggest ways that the patrol could work to trap it rather than fight it. That uses your Instinct and allow the GM to trigger it by introducing an animal.

If perhaps you shifted the current Instinct to a Belief: The Guard must understand and use the environment advantageously, I suspect you could have lots of fun with that. I don’t immediately see ways that you could play against it, but I’m certain there are some scenes that pausing to understand and use the environment would be detrimental. This would allow you to use a large variety of skills in support of your belief too. Right now, just Fighter and Hunter get spotlighted, but with the Belief I wrote you could spotlight Weather Watcher, Hunter, Instructor, Scout, Pathfinder, Cartographer, Orator, Persuader, Deceiver, Nature (Mouse), Stonemason, Carpenter, Smith, Armorer, and probably more. See, in each of those skills you can easily describe how Grint understands and uses the environment while using the skill–this includes when using those skills to help others.

Gaining reward for Playing Toward or Playing Against the Belief is more difficult in-game. You should make the Belief broad enough that it can be applied more easily. When an Instinct can be triggered by the GM, you help to make a more collaborative game; other players could also act to trigger the Instinct.

To address your points:

  1. Grint didn’t really “arrive” at Patrol Guard rank. He is trusted by the Matriarch, enough that he is regularly called in for missions, utilized as a guide and scout, and has currently been called in to mentor a Tenderpaw. He has earned the Patrol Guard rank, but simply has no interest in going further in the Guard.

  2. I completely agree with your comparisons of D&D to MG. I tried to say that in my post:

I believe the trouble with this instinct is more in my playing style than in the instinct itself. I’m used to D&D, which tells you in detail what your options are. MG is much more open to improvisation. During conflicts, I need to make myself use the environment, not wait for opportunities to be presented to me.

However, I disagree that you can earn the reward simply for using it once per session. To me, an instinct should be used whenever applicable. That might only be once per session, but if more than one opportunity presents itself, that should still be the character’s instinctual reaction. But, no, it shouldn’t be overused either.

  1. I do like the idea of switching my instict and belief and rewording the instinct. And, I tend to take the instinct a little too literally, thinking you should actually act on an instinct to gain the reward. An instinct isn’t neccessarily something you do, but your gut reaction. If I simply suggest ways to implement my instinct, that is actually following my instinct. Interesting…

Thanks for your ideas. I’ll see what I can do with them.

Just a suggestion, give him one instinct or Belief that contradicts his loner nature. Something like, always get involved in things I know I shouldn’t. Or always butt in when I see someone being an idiot. Or a Belief like “I must learn to work with my teammates if the Patrol is to succeed.”

If you keep his current Belief, consider rewording as something like “A cunning plan is always better than direct action!” or “never confront something directly when you can trick them instead.” it will not only help you, but also help the GM if your BITs are easier to understand and exploit.

I’m a newbie, but, like kendesign, I think it might be simpler to just switch the two, and just reword the part that was initially the “instinct”.

I’ll detail the reasoning for why I think so:

Using the environment as a belief for a character like Grint would imply shrewdness. In non-combat situations, it says that while he despises politics and believes he is above them, he is not ignorant to what’s going on around him, and has no problems using the ebb and flow of those same politics to get his way. In which case, it is easy to see challenges and conflicts with his beliefs because he might not like taking advantage of the politics of his situation(s) to get his way. Grint might wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and despise what he sees. He may be a loner because others see his unconscious self-loathing and follow suit - in essence, he becomes a loner by way of self-fulfilling prophecy.

In combat situations, it’s self explanatory. If you really want to throw Grint a curveball, all that’s necessary is wide-open space with limited supplies and hawks overhead or something.