Ideas for Port Sumac

I run a monthly Mouse Guard game, and the fourth session is coming up this Saturday. Our intrepid Patrol will be making their way to Port Sumac for the first leg of their mail delivery assignment. Port Sumac also happens to be the hometown of one of the Patrol members. In the comics, Celanawe describes the inhabitants of Port Sumac as the filthiest, roughest, and greediest mice in the Territories (yes, yes, we made the obligatory “Just like Mouse Eisly” joke).

But I am at a loss on just what to showcase.

There was an interesting thread on gambling that I am hoping to get some use from.

The parents of the Player’s character still live in the Port, but no Friends or Enemies do (they are in different locations), so I don’t have a lot of personal things to work with. My initial thought was something happening with her parents - perhaps a ship captain rivalry, or merchant blockade, or something of the like.

All of the sessions thus far have featured predators, so I’d kind of like to stay away from them. And given Port Sumac’s reputation, it seems ripe for mouse on mouse intrigue.

I’m looking for inspiration. Please!

What is the parents’ trade?

I’m sorry, I am at work and don’t have the answer to that. I’ll reply again when I do.

I had to contact the Player to see what she had in mind for her parents and this is what she sent me:

Millicent’s parents are Gill and Ilsa, both insectrists. They specialize in wrangling beetles to eat pests that damage Port Sumac’s food stores and warehouse inventory. She has a brother named Frances who still lives in Port Sumac. She has a pretty strained relationship with him, though. Her parents are kind of obsessive about what they do (I picture them a bit absent-minded/out of touch with the world when it has to do with anything not insect-related) and raised both Millicent and Frances that way. But Frances, instead of following in the parents’ footsteps or even joining the Mouseguard, has instead fallen in with a thuggish gang of ruffians called PST (Port Sumac Tanglefur). Millicent finds this all embarrassing and distasteful.

Millicent’s Belief: “Anymouse can become a threat worse than a predator.” And her Instinct: “Always circumnavigate an obstacle before you tackle it.”

So I’ve got some good things to work with. Still, I am still very interested in suggestions and inspiration.

I did a beetle cattle drive once, which went over well with the players. I can’t remember if it was a conflict that used Insectrist for attack/defend and laborer for maneuver/feint, or it was just a complex obstacle with three different parts. So that’s one idea.

Obviously, Frances and the gang threatening the settlement plays well into Millicent’s Belief. Perhaps they’re waylaying supplies headed to the town, or maybe they’re beetle wranglers threatening to disrupt the work that Millicent’s parents have been doing.

If I was preparing this mission, I’d have a weather or journey obstacle for the patrol while traveling to Port sumac, and then maybe something with delivering the mail or dealing with the beetle herd for the second mission hazard. Set up the situation with Millicent’s brother and the gang, but let the players choose how to approach it during the Players’ Turn.

Thanks Daniel H, for taking the time to inspire. I really appreciate it.

They’ve spent a lot of time travelling, so I am actually considering simply fast-forwarding to their arrival to Port Sumac rather than putting some kind of journey obstacle in their way. While I agree that it would be a good time for one, that is more or less what started the previous session out (a Journey obstacle), so I’d kind of like to avoid any repetition.

I am tempted to set up a Yojimbo/Fistful of Dollars situation with two rival gangs making life very difficult for some of the townsfolk. Millicent’s parents may be being squeezed for protection money from both gangs, or maybe one gang is targeting their pest control business for a rival merchant. Frances might belong to the gang that is targeting his own parents. Perhaps the parents are ignorant/in denial of their son’s involvement. Perhaps things are getting too heavy for Frances but now that he’s ‘in’ he can’t get out. And along comes the Patrol of Guard mice with the mail and Frances’ sister is among them.

I could make the gangs connected to different Merchant Houses, that are perhaps fighting a clandestine war of sorts. Originally I was thinking about how ships used to press-gang townsfolk into service, but I can’t really see anything on that scale happening in the Territories. But maybe the Merchant Houses press young mice into their gangs.

It’s all still ruminating. But thank you again Daniel H, for tossing out some great ideas.

Hey, it’s my pleasure. I hope you find some of it useful.

What can you do to make the mail delivery an interesting part of the GM’s Turn? Is there an important missive that needs to reach someone specific? What obstacles (literally) can you put in the way of the patrol getting the mail to Port Sumac?

I also looked over the description of the town in the rulebook, mostly because I’m not familiar with Port Sumac from my own games. It says that the head of the council of ship captains that rules the city is the mouse who made the most in trade the previous year, but the council determines taxes and laws in the port. To say nothing of the council-members receiving a share of all imports and exports for their “trouble.” Seems pretty ripe for corruption–I could imagine a council-head rigging the system to stay on top in profits once he achieves that position. Perhaps the council-head is using Frances’s gang to muscle the other council-members into voting his way on issues of taxes and legislation.

Anyway, just a few more thoughts. Good luck with whatever direction you decide to go in.