Interfere instead of Help?

So this comes up often enough in Dungeon World games - a player tries something and another player Interferes, sabotaging their roll. This is very simple to negotiate, requiring 2 quick rolls. It also leads to some excellent drama.

But consider the following in Mouse Guard:

Mice A, B, C, and D are attempting a task - say Obstacle:4. Mouse A leads the task and takes help from B. But C and D say that instead of helping they wish to actively sabotage A’s task (for whatever motive). How do you rule this?

I could break this up into several Tests - but then the game will become bogged down in constant dice rolling, with opportunities for spending Persona and Fate dragging out the exchange for even longer. I could let the saboteurs roll a die each to add to the Obstacle rating - which keeps it down to one Test and we can get on with the story. But I’ve strayed into a homebrew solution and I’m wondering if I’ve missed a natural solution in the Mouse Guard ruleset for this.

In a conflict, PCs may join or help the GM’s team, but for obstacles there is no rule for being counter-helpful.

In the Players’ Turn, if a player wants to do something another player is opposed to, I suggest a versus test with Persuader or Manipulator to resolve the dispute. In the GM’s Turn, you just have to tackle the obstacle. Only the GM can call for tests in his turn, so the best (worst) you could do is not help. The best way to deliberately fail would be to tackle the obstacle yourself by piping up first, and then invoke a trait against your mouse, declining any help at the same time.

Is this something that has come up in play? Why is your patrol sabotaging itself? I mean, MG is not DW, and missions are hard enough with teamwork.

I’ve had one instance of player vs player whilst they were chasing after the same love interest. It was one of the best games I’ve ever run. Sabotage has come up from time to time and I’m forced to simply say that all one can do is not help. It is very unsatisfying. And yet my players are reading about sabotage and rebellion in the Mouse Guard comic.

Why is your patrol sabotaging itself? I mean, MG is not DW, and missions are hard enough with teamwork.

Why indeed would my patrol want to play characters with complex motivations? Ones whose goals may differ.

Because it makes for a great story.

Changing the leader of the Test has multiple issues. The worst being that we establish a precedent where a player can steal a Test by sabotage - thus they gain advancement points and checks for doing so. It then becomes a must-play-mini-game where it is not clear who has the right to a Test, but sabotaging it is very beneficial. I don’t like this solution. It also involves a bit of time-travel.

I’m tempted to just straight up convert a dissenting player’s vote into +1 Ob. That would be less homebrew, and show the harsh nature of not working together. There’s less metagaming involved as well.

Well, when I want complex characters with clashing or self-contradictory interests and intra-party conflicts, I usually go for BW, which supports this kind of thing much better. As you note, MG is more built for generating the “one for all, all for one” type of story, with conflicts between the PCs limited to the Players’ Turn.

How would your hack handle conflicting interests in the GM’s Turn? The dissenting players increase the Ob so the patrol fails to overcome the obstacle; then what? If you choose success with a condition, then everybody including the saboteur gets hit with it and the patrol succeeds anyway? And if you choose a twist, then the whole patrol gets involved in it and it complicates things for everyone? Or would the saboteur be somehow exempt, since he basically got his intent?

I would just ask what the mouse was doing to sabotage and then ask what everyone is doing about it. Depending on what’s going on, we’re either in a conflict or a versus. In a versus, I’d be ready with a Twist. If I couldn’t figure out a Twist, I’d give the loser a condition and success. Since they both succeeded now, I’d declare it a tie and direct them to the tie breaker rules.

By the way, I’m not saying that this is not good or against the spirit of the game:

Because that’s great stuff, of course. It’s just that I’d handle it as a versus test or conflict in the Players’ Turn.

Having read the remainder of the thread, I’ll temper my response a bit. As GM, I’d rule the highest ranking mouse may take disciplinary action over the matter; since, clearly the patrol mates are trying to create havoc in the patrol. I’d count on the patrol working things out using PvP tests of Persuader, Manipulator, Haggler, Administrator, Instructor, and possibly Orator. I’d insist the players express clarification how this conduct remains befitting of the Mouse Guard Oath. Otherwise, they may be subject to disciplinary hearings by Guard Captains or Matriarch of the Guard.

… with opportunities for spending Persona and Fate … the saboteurs … add to the Obstacle …

In PvP, Fate and Persona cannot be used thru 2e rules. I would allow that (without a dice roll) patrol mates may add a Helper to opposing force in Vs tests, but not add to a factored Ob. So, they could potentially interfere when there is clearly an opposition, but could do little to alter the factors of an Ob test. Well, I suppose there are some possible contributions I’d allow, but those would have to be connected to Time, Night, Weather. So, if the sabotuer causes that the task must be fulfilled faster than usual, during night hours, or under harsh weather conditions, I’d let those become altering factors of an Ob rating.

I want to echo Bobo’s advisement. Simply being in disagreement doesn’t require the GM to permit dice to roll. Whichever patrol mouse presents the plan–or player in table chatter–must make the test. If they want the entire patrol to fail, they’ve got to speak up, ignore help and gear, and detriment their own effort. However, in respect to that, they can’t tell me their mouse sits around doing nothing! They still have to describe the actions to intently fulfill the task; otherwise, I’ll allow another mouse to attempt and ignore their narrative.

Those characters in the comic are not characters in a game; don’t think that someone gets to play Midnight as a PC. The rules text clearly indicates that PC mice are Guard members, and not rebels, retirees, or reservists.

Why indeed would my patrol want to play characters with complex motivations? Ones whose goals may differ.

Hardly a sufficient explanation for my GMing to warrant interparty hooliganism during MG; play a different game for that sort of horseplay. There are games in which that sort of interparty conflict is normal, expected, and encouraged. Use the right tool for the job.

Changing the leader of the Test … a precedent where a player can … gain advancement points and checks … where it is not clear who has the right to a Test …

I disagree here, in that GM still has room to, “Say, ‘Yes;’ say, ‘No;’ or Roll Dice.” Simply allow that the sabotage gains traction under a Say, ‘Yes,’ permission and then ensure everyone sees how successful the sabotage went, and that they can now realize their patrol mate has been a blue falcon (buddy F-er). So, mouse D intones, “Not more of this routine mail-delivery, I’m going to attempt to attract a blue jay to steal the mailbag with the shiney buckle; would that be a Loremouse test? I’m such a Brave mouse that I’m not afraid of blue jays fighting with us for the mailbag (thinking of grabbing a check).” GM response, “Yes, you whistle a quick loud call and hail three nearby jays who’ve been trying to court a local female. All three are among the largest, most agressive males in the area. Your call is heard as a fighting tune from an unknown male. They swoop closer for a look and your entire patrol is stuck in the middle of the squabbling birds. Now, patrol, you’ve got three large, aggressive jays cocked and ready to start a ground-fight overtop of your encampment and it is clear that mouse D was trying to call them in.”

This is a case of saying, 'Yes, you use your skill to fulfill the intent, but the consequences are not dictated by your authorship." Thus, no test was offered, no pass/fail, no checks gained, and the new scene is simply a cool moment in which everyone can view their patrol mate’s skill and trait being a troubling combo. It doesn’t become a mini-game for advancement if the GM doesn’t offer advancement opportunity.

… convert a dissenting player’s vote into +1 Ob. … less homebrew … harsh nature of not working together … less metagaming involved …

As mentioned, I’d allow a player’s dissent to be thru joining the opposition in Vs tests and probably not impacting factors unless they can force the task into Time, Night, Weather contention.

A response for Bobo’s questions is that the saboteur doesn’t really have a chance to stop things from happening unless that mouse speaks up first to lead the test. They can’t skip the consequence or even author the consequence by their dice roll. They would have to succeed to get their intent.

Which is the moment I remind players that as GM, I’m not a secret vault. If they want to play the backstabber, everyone at the table gets to hear the narration of the knife and the assault. Some players revel in that, and others reel at the social exposure.

I also don’t want this to seem as if I’m calling it out as intrisically wrong to have disagreement and PvP tests; however, MG is not in the spirit of internal bullying. Get the issues out in the table chatter and find a good method for dealing. Don’t lose sight of the Mouse Guard Oath and Duties–that’s the purpose of the mission design and the mechanics design.

… conflict in the Players’ Turn.

This is another critical moment for permitting the characters to disagree; if they are earning plenty of checks, they can set the pace for facing disagreements and settling matters.

I was assuming everyone was playing in good faith. That there were good reasons for mice to disagree and all players were on board with what’s going on and the players were playing the game together even if some conflict had emerged between the mice. If these things aren’t true, then there’s no test because there’s no game.

sure, and I kinda presumed that as a foundation; however, the original poster’s use of sabotage did color my response somewhat also. In addition, the first example given illustrated two mice coordinating to sabotage which I felt displays some approximate misunderstanding of the spirit of MG patrols.

In contrast, I’ve found that certain instances of one patrol mate sincerely standing aside from Helper role, even though it pains the player to stand aside from supporting a fellow, become memorable and dramatic without creating an uneasy feeling which would be associated with sabotage. I’ve frequently used those examples when pitching the game to potential players to highlight that the game mechanics encourage players to make choices and recognize the consequences of choices.

So, I do agree that there are good reasons for patrol mates to disagree both with each other as well as with other Guard members (like Captains or the Matriarch). I don’t tend to think of those disagreements being illustrated or narrated as sabotage.

Putting aside all the good points about spirit of play, I’d just add a factor to the test being made.

I see this from two points of view:

1: It’s a personal rivalry between players that has little to do with the actual storyline.

2: The saboteur has something against the Guard or what the Guard is doing.

In the first instance, it’s good story telling but, since it doesn’t impact the story as much, it should be handled during the player’s turn. Probably a versus test between the two rivals or maybe adding a factor to an Independant test. If the saboteur loses, the twist could be that he gets caught and loses face among his peers, maybe a demotion, depending on the severity of the situation.

In the second, it is much more severe and could be handled in the GM or player’s turns, whenever it gets brought up. It should probably still be a versus test or an added factor, but, if it’s serious and/or complicated enough, it could be a player vs. player conflict. Either way, the twist should be much more severe. At a minimum, a demotion, but possibly being kicked from the Guard or even imprisonment or execution. (I would hope that, even in this situation I, a player mouse wouldn’t commit crimes that would call for imprisonment, let alone execution.)

But, as has been stated above, MG is about playing Guard Mice, not spies, criminals or saboteurs. These situations should be uncommon, if not rare or even unique. I played a mouse (the late, great Micah the Mapmaker) who had been convicted of thievery and placed into the Guard by his father in lieu of imprisonmnet. Micah hated it and gave his companions a hard time and I probably pushed it a little too hard at first. But he ended up being a good mouse and died a hero’s death. If you want to play a criminal/spy/saboteur, use those skills in support of the Guard. Not against it.

(And forgive me if I got some of the terminology mixed up. We played MG for a LONG time, but now we’re playing Torchbearer.)

The trouble I’m having with this thread right now is that I feel like I’m being told, “play Lawful-Good or don’t play at all.” And I should railroad any players who step out of line - remind them that they must be Lawful-Good. Good people apparently never do bad things.

Which makes no sense to me - because good people can find themselves doing terrible things. Either because they are forced to by circumstances or because they lack the information or open mindedness to do otherwise.

So I must ask what happens in that circumstance. When two well meaning actions are set against each other - but we have already decided on performing a simple Test. Is there a simple way to resolve this? Resolving it in the Player’s Turn seems very odd because I wasn’t aware that the Player’s Turn handled flashbacks.

I can’t find any mention of Persona or Fate not being allowed during Player versus Player in the 2nd edition rulebook. Can someone point me to a page number please?

I don’t believe the game has a simple way to deal with Mice interfering with each other, nor should it really. That’s not a simple issue given what this game is about.

It’s not a matter of play lawful good or else ( or maybe it kinda is), but in the GM’s turn player choices are constrained. The game makes it easy to help someone because it’s designed to encourage players to help each other as good patrol mice should. It makes it easy to hinder oneself, because it wants to encourage players to make interesting trade offs. It does not make it easy to interfere, because it is not encouraging interference. You want to interfere with my simple test, it isn’t so simple any more.

Partly I appreciate the compliment; however, more honestly, I don’t subscribe to the alignment concept and don’t think it is at all fitting of MG. Regarding the feeling you get, I do have passionate opinions about the spirit of the world–I even love the light-handed lack of canon content and limited lore content. Thus, I would have to admit and concede that I present the game as a challenge specifically for that purpose of playing out individuals held to a common oath, having a common mission (not a quest; never a quest), and seeking to enrich, enhance, protect, and provide life, liberty, and stability in the lives of other individuals and society as a whole. The constraint of the oath and duties, the constraint of cyclical Weather, Wilderness, Animals, Mice, the constraint of changing seasons, and other constraints generate increased creativity and better stories.

In fact, imagine the example you mentioned of two mice pursuing the same love. Isn’t the constraint of only one pursuer becoming the lover a critical foundation for the memorable story? If instead the constraint were removed, and as a group everyone seemed to say, ‘it’s fine if they have a big love, open relationship,’ wouldn’t that diminish the memorable play to win the pursuit?

Aside from MG, I’ve had some experience with D&D, Traveller, Star Wars, Werewolf, and exposure to Burning Wheel, and Torchbearer. I’ve probably got a few others under the ‘exposure’ heading. I found many were lacking due to a lack of constraints–sometimes even the constraint of a railroad made a far better play experience. That has given me the most passionate ideas and ideals about MG.

So, I confess that I don’t buy Lawful-Good; however, I do emphasize and remind that (pg 19) characters around the table have taken an oath that all others in the patrol and in the Guard have also recited, that (pg 20-21) the work of their characters and the Guard will surround a select assignment list which may repeat across missions, that (pg 60-61) the hazards and obstacles frequently seem to repeat and never seem to be diminished, eliminated, mitigated, or finished, that (pg 93) the patrol must coordinate and collaborate to overcome obstacles together. Those are critical foundations to get players in the same game and on the same page.

Built upon that foundation, players should be aware that (pg 94) they often share the results as a patrol, that (pg 67) the GM has discretion over whether to test or not test, that (pg 75) other players are not bound to confront or conflict patrol mates if they choose not to, that (pg 221-223) not every monstrous beast can be slain by mice, that (pg 71) confrontations inside the patrol will be simple and quick, and never lead to a winner-loser but instead alwasy lead to a new scenario.

I’ve simply never viewed MG as a sandbox type of game, so the idea of railroading should be a topic of acclimatization for players and GM alike. When in the Player Turn, they’ve got the authorship and the GM gets railroaded (somewhat).

… because good people can find themselves doing terrible things. … forced to by circumstances … lack the information or open mindedness …

Absolutely true! And totally within the MG realm of game mechanics. All I would say is that there are not clear and rewarding mechanics to allow that between patrol mates. I would encourage more case-by-case examples. That always helps to clear the air over theory and start a discussion of practice.

… two well meaning actions are set against each other - but we have already decided on performing a simple Test. … Resolving it in the Player’s Turn …

Sure, use the instruction of pg 71 wherein the confrontation takes place as a single Vs test and plays out into a Twist. That’s the rules. While I won’t dispute there are moments that feels unsatisfying, the game is never attempting to reward or encourage patrol mates to fight amongst themselves. The rule about always using a twist is a portion of the mind-control (aka railroading) of MG: making a big stink or tantrum doesn’t lead to one side winning over a losing side, but instead only leads to a worsened scenario where the initial obstacle is replaced by or combined with something less expected or less desired.

Otherwise, use pg 75 to allow players to drive a bigger issue by way of Conflict mechanics which will not always lead to a Twist, but at the least won’t lead to an exclusively GM-written Twist. And in this case, I’m not against using a flashback as long as the results wouldn’t require retroactive revision of other events. The more common story-telling method would simply state that issues don’t get resolved in GM Turn when a Twist comes along as a result of PvP Vs confrontation! It was interrupted and the Player Turn is time to get it done with.

… any mention of Persona or Fate not being allowed during Player versus Player … page number please?
I apologize. I was incorrect stating that. I was mistakenly thinking of pg 258 which restricts from gaining a check by using a trait against yourself. Sorry for that error.