Kneejerk Review of 2e rule book

So, I got the pre-order of the 2e book and box set. Box should be later this year. Book was today.

Here is a kneejerk review:
Artwork: great stuff. additional artwork from the additional years of MG content.

Physical book: good construction; semi-gloss pages. Found a few text errors, but nothing seems serious yet. Easy enough to correct in-my-head while reading.

Existing Rules: yes, lots of stuff is just a repeat of the existing rules; not loads of changes for the update. Ifyou are already accustomed to Mouse Guard, it will be no trouble to make the transition at all. No trouble.

New Rules: I’ll have to digest the recruitment process. It has basically reduced the guessing game of which Guard skills will be useful. So, just as Health & Will are provided based on rank–also initial Skills are set by rank. Questions are removed from Circles & Resources–those are set by rank. Otherwise, mostly same process; it will just make most same-ranked mice have a minimum baseline of same skills.

New use of wises seems a good move toward the Torchbearer methods. I might (or might not) miss having a rating to test a Wise itself. There is a chapter to instruct on the use of Wises which states a wise is not tested itself, only provides a bonus to other tests. Wises will be changed more often? Maybe? Hard to say in this kneejerk review.

New Animal NPCs: can’t confirm, but I think I saw animals listed which I had not seen in past. I will confirm later.

NPC stats: NPCs have been updated regarding Wises (i.e. lost the rating for Wises). Will review later if there are other changes in NPC stats.

Weapon Stats: did not notice big differences, but I saw Staff and Spear have an additional attribute each which I look forward to (suspense). Will review in more detail later.

Mission Design: appears no change.

Conflict Design: will review in more detail later. For now, I’ll say that I saw clarification about Feint x Defend which is written with the text I suggested at Burning Wheel forum (totally neat!!). Otherwise, nothing appeared to throw me for a loop.

Recommendation: Yes

I recommend it as a buy.

I (tentatively) see the new Wises as a benefit and can easily see benefit in the Recruitment process. If needed, those with 1e content can use the previous Recruitment process for a bit extra customization, yet lower streamlining.

Want to Play: well, I’ve got a 1e game in which I a a player thru Google Docs. I’d like to have a table game running, but I doubt that will get started soon. And I’ll be running a one-shot at Virtuacon’15.

Were there any changes to the teamwork sections?

The teams helping teams rules in combat are gone.

As Luke mentions above, the multiple team rules are removed, but not without guidance.

So, there are a few things I’ve noted while reading through the Conflict chapter regarding teamwork, teams, and multiple teams.

  • During the volley of actions, a player should receive Helper dice from no more than two patrol mates (or NPCs).

This will be a helpful rule when dealing with large patrols and large scenes. It easily says, ‘not everyone and everything can help you accomplish a brief action in a conflict.’ I guess it also kinda says, ‘keep up an urgent pace.’

  • The idea of multiple teams based on the number of mice is removed.

This will be helpful, but may create questions. I’d say the best advice here is to encourage and enable players to sit-out when the conflict isn’t really in the best interest of their PC mouse, but instead, allow a more manageable team size be formed (if there is a large patrol). I’ve found only one table group had a large enough patrol to consider multiple teams, and that wasn’t a best case example of a conflict.

  • The idea of multiple teams is presented with guidance about the scope or scale of the conflict scene. I won’t recopy rules text, but here is the summary: if the case is large or distant, GM could run two concurrent conflicts against multiple teams (probably 2) by switching back and forth between.

This means the multiple teams don’t Help each other. It means they have their own Conflict Goal. It means they have their own Compromise. It shares spotlight time back-n-forth. It discourages a large fight becoming a rout by way of multiple teams attacking a single GM team. It instructs the scope and scale of the conflict.

Here’s an off-the-cuff example:
Journey Conflict
GM Side: Winter Wilderness
Player Side: Kenzie & Sadie; Leiam & Celanawe

K & S have been dropped into the ruinous catacombs of Darkheather and must contend with the strange environment to return to Lockhaven (as a team). L & C are moving overland through Winter conditions to reach Lockhaven. Saxon sits out of the conflict favoring a Pathfinder Vs Wilderness (Darkheather) test after all is said and done.

Team K & S: goal to reach Lockhaven, Dispo, face fear, darkness, chill

Team L & C: goal to return medicine to Lockhaven, Dispo, face freezing, tracked by owl

Compromise K & S: we’ve found a breach in the cistern wall after following an underground river

Compromise L & C: the medicine bottles burst in freezing conditions; must face Fight Animal conflict against the Owl; Leiam is designated as the Black Axe by Celanawe

So, that’s just an example of how that one overall Wilderness Obstacle might be described as a multiple team conflict; because, the teams are distant from each other and must face the Wilderness conditions independent of one another. Neither would be able to Help across the distance between teams. Also, they shared the spotlight, held independent goals, accomplished independent compromises, and this allowed Saxon to sit-out from a team.

From some reading today:
Today I continued reading front-to-back. I’ve just reached the Obstacles chapter. Here are a few notes I’ve found to comment in review:

Wises have been changed such that there is not a rating. They are not tested in any manner like a Skill. This is a change from earlier rules, but (I think) reflects how Wises were often used in past. I found Wises were very rarely tested in manner like a Skill, but instead were used as a flavor and Helper for the task at hand which was completed by a Skill.

I’m optimistic about the change; however, in some areas of the text, this is not well reflected. There is a chapter about Wises and how to use them, but earlier text in some cases has not been updated to reflect the new rules. Specifically, the red italic text meant to illustrate example in-game advice still speaks of testing a Wise to overcome an obstacle.

I don’t think those small snippets will confuse anyone; I feel it was an inconsequential oversight during editing to properly alter all the spots where Wises are spoken of in the text.

More about Wises in future, after I’ve read the chapter (a second time).

Player-vs-Player in the GM Turn:
There is one note that I will express about a piece of general text in this heading. The text says a GM provides a Twist as the result of PvP test in the GM Turn. This was not previously outlined. In addition, players may not use Traits in PvP tests. This ought to be noted by the special Rules Bullet, but is included in general rules text.

Both represent changes from the previous instruction regarding PvP scenes.

I’m pleased with the instruction to remove Traits from play in those moments. I’m less concerned about providing a Twist as GM. I’ve done few PvP scenes, but those I’ve used vary between Success w/ Condition or Twist. So, I’m not sure I’ll change to always using a Twist, but I want to mention a kneejerk thought.

When offering a Success w/ Condition, I rarely felt it did a great thing in the Patrol. That PvP disagreement simply led to a Condition being placed on the PC, and one idea winning out over another idea. Sometimes that is a good thing to do, but using the dice to determine which plan proceeds feel uncompelling and unfair. Thus, providing a Twist says, ‘whatever you were trying to decide is further complicated by an unforeseen issue. Now What?!’

I like the instruction, and will try to keep that as my method going forward, but sometimes Success w/ Condition worked out right without distraction from the obstacle.

There has been no change to the Rewards. I kinda feel it would be nice to see some additional advisory text in those areas following the many years of Mouse Guard being played, discussed, and reviewed. There has been loads of poking and prodding through the years, and certainly some advice about how to adjudicate rewards would be a benefit.

I did notice the rewards were spoken of in the sample mission illustrating play structure. That was good–light-handed and concise.

Weapon of Choice:
Strangely, I’ve always wished Hook and Line were removed from the main rules and placed instead in the box-set supplement. It is only Conrad who is illustrated with hook and line. In Black Axe we see more of the story behind such a tool. It makes good sense for him as a character; although, it was initially a harpoon. I’m betting he could have replaced or repaired the harpoon following the adventure of Black Axe. But, for the common Guard, I don’t think it is really fitting enough to be included.

Also, I’ve seen folks who think the hook and line is a sign that Humans once existed or still existed near the Mouse Territories by which such objects were discovered. I’ve always disliked that too.

That’s just a thought, and barely worth including in a review–but this is a kneejerk review, so everything is fair game!

That’s my update from today’s reading.

I’ve continued reading front-to-back today from Obstacles and Conflicts chapters followed by Condition & Recovery chapter. Here are some kneejerk review comments from today’s reading.

First, this has been separated into new chapters, whereas previous rules text had one chapter of Resolution for Obstacles, Conflicts, Compromises Conditions, and Recovery.

Second, I’m noticing more text errors such as grammar or mismatched verb agreement. It still falls into inconsequential faults which bear little influence on understanding the rules text; however, it is becoming a bit more annoying to see these small faults. I’ve been running and playing MG for about 5 years, so it would be hard to throw me for a loop. I understand the message, but my desire for perfection gets irked.

Obstacles & Tests:
The rules do not present changes in these areas aside from removing Wises from being tested.

No Weasels rule:
I have never felt this coming up in play, so I don’t have any special interpretation for this. However, I wonder if the rule is necessary or not. I can imagine it, but have not seen it or experienced it.

Now, I’ve seen players cringe when facing an obstacle. That’s fun. But I haven’t had a player that seems to be weaseling out of a hard test in order to accomplish the obstacle.

Who Makes the Test:
As long as there is table chatter in which players are willing to help each other and suggest plans by which fellow players can use skills or traits, I’ll never worry much about making the suggesting player be the testing player. But, I’ve done this at the table when a player suggests a plan, doesn’t quite have the skill, and no one else speaks up.

I love the tiebreaker rules and I’m glad there is not a change in this update. This functions well and the rules are smooth. I especially love when players cringe to hear about the options for a tiebreaker.

One note, I’ve preread the Wises chapter once (and will read it again), so I’m aware there are some tricks with Wises which might be used to break a tie aside from the options outlined in the Obstacles chapter. Those tricks are not mentioned in the tiebreaker text.

Complex Obstacles:
My note here is the lack of guidance how to adjudicate the results of multiple tests to overcome an obstacle when multiple skills and/or abilities are required. Even I tend to vary between one result for all the tests or a result for each test. I don’t present a totally consistent GM style. So, guidance here would have been apropos.

I am Wise:
An important note in the changed language here is that Wises are no longer identified as self-help. This is a complete departure from prior rules, so players and GMs take note: a PC may use a Wise as a Helper die for a patrol mate–and insulate the PC from Conditions–but no longer grab a bonus die for having a Wise.

More on Wises later when I’ve read the chapter (a second time).

Beginner’s Luck:
No changes were made here. I’d like to note that no clarification has been given about using Traits–for or against–when using BL. So, I’ll suggest to players and GMs that Traits are applied–for or against–after the total dice is taken, halfed, and rounded up. This is the same advice as for using Persona or tapping Nature.

Behind the Scenes:
There is a bit of simple advice to GMs that NPCs get by according to you the GM, rather than by rolling dice. I imagine this is not surprising or new, but it is nice to see as advice for GMs who may be inexperienced or totally compulsive about using the dice for everything going on in the world.

Conflicts & Compromises:
Overall, no major changes to call out and no big advice columns to call out. There are a few things to write here, but nothing big.

In the process of holding a conflict, there is now advice to choose a Conflict Captain among the player group who will lead and guide the player side during the conflict–selecting the appropriate goal, making the Dispo roll, selecting actions, assigning PCs to actions, etc. Nothing difficult, but it consolidates the table chatter a little bit. It also appears to consolidate the dice rolling to the Conflict Captain. Not sure I’ll worry about that, but can’t hurt.

Helper dice from the patrol mates (or GM NPCs) may come from only two team members. This restricts large teams from stomping competition with piles of Helper dice.

Another change here is in the example provided. In the prior rules text, the example Conflict illustrates Leiam fighting solo against the milksnake with heroic effort and death-defying results. It’s great stuff, but lacks some examples of key Conflict structure (in my opinion). It also tends to set the wrong expectation for players when they read that example.

Instead, Luke, et al, wisely chooses to use the example of Kenzie, Saxon, and Leiam fighting the snake prior to finding the nest. This example provides a better view of the conflict structure and sets expectations of Compromise. The example shows Kenzie, Saxon, and Leiam losing to the snake with a compromise of hiding until they can safely find the nest. This presents a reader with a review of a conflict structure and a compromise structure. It still foreshadows a future fight with the snake to finally kill it.

Action table is a bit cleaner, as is the descriptive text of the action interaction. It is not much, but it is enough to clarify a few things that were confusing (at times).

Never seen this in play; not sure why it is still included aside from the advice to fight for a compromise.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind a rule for ending a conflict before a side has reached 0 Dispo. I’ve seen plenty of conflicts that don’t sizzle. Some conflicts fizzle instead. It would be nice to have an easy-to-apply rule for ending a conflict that’s just turning out boring even if both teams still have some Dispo to burn. Would you make a compromise based on how much was lost? Would you back down to a Vs test?

Gear for Conflicts:
Fighting weapons have no new weapons, nor are any lost, but attributes in some cases have been altered. I won’t recopy rules text, but here are a few highlights:

  • don’t use a bow in the rain
  • halberd is less confusing and more distinct
  • staff can be used for teaching lessons (cryptic, but you’ll see)
  • where is mace–why couldn’t that be included in the rules?
  • armor is absorptive rather than benefiting Dispo

Hey, Why are the weapons of other conflicts from the box set supplement not included here? I kinda know those are being saved for the box set; however, this would be a good spot for adding content from the previous rules by consolidating earlier box set content into the new rules–that would allow the new box set to have really enticing content. As it stands, all the weapons of wit, military weapons, and cut to the chase weapons have been included without changes, so I imagine the upcoming new box set will have the same content for new weapons in Journey, Speech, Negotiation, and Fight Animal conflicts plus Mounts in War and the Mace weapon for fighting.

So, if anything, I’m not surprised, but this is the first point where I really want to say, “Why were the existing rules and box set supplement rules not consolidated to provide all that content in the new rules with juicy new content in the new box set supplement?” I’ll come back to this in future. I promise I’ll come back to this in future.

Death and Killing:
No big change, but the guidance of which side of winning or losing you happen to be on has been included. It is a good thing and will clarify for GMs and player alike.

Conditions & Recovery:
Honestly, I saw no changes in this area. That’s fine, but I might have liked to see Scared or Afraid as a Condition which came over from Torchbearer.

I’ll respond to myself in that case too.

The comics really don’t show mice behaving differently due to fear. At least, that’s my interpretation on the comics. I don’t think that the Condition would fit the spirit of Mouse Guard, while it totally works in Torchbearer. Perhaps others have considered whether fear should represent a Condition in MG. That’s my two cents.

Oh, while this is a kneejerk review, I’ll mention I’ve always kinda wished that Angry were instead Upset. That can still be anger, but could also easily fit distress, shyness, humiliation, grieving, fear, disgust, or that gut feeling that something isn’t right (and more). I already use Angry in that way as GM, and treat it that way as player. But, I feel the derived connotation for GMs and players would be improved by making the actual term Upset rather than Angry.

Well that’s my reading for today. Tomorrow I’ll read through Seasons, Territories, and Denizens.

I moved today’s reading into late night. I’m sure someone wondered about the morning update.

I’ve continued the front-to-back reading in Seasons, Territories, and Denizens chapters. These chapters appear to be included wholesale without additional content or revisions.

Here are the comments from my kneejerk review:

As previously mentioned, there are some text errors. I still consider these inconsequential.

Seasons: Winter Session: Practice:
Because this section was not revised, the text still instructs a player to gain a new Wise with rating 2. This is totally contrary to the new rules update to Wises. In addition, the practice of 3 skills retains the previous text verbatim; thus, a player is encouraged to practice “a patrol skill or a wise or anything,” yet considering the new rules, a wise cannot be practiced.

Similar to other text errors, this won’t throw me for a loop after so many years playing and having preread the Wises chapter. It simply represents a failure to review and revise the rules text in this section of the chapter. Other GMs may also find no trouble reading past this and realizing it is now mute; however, it is unfortunate to find this revision overlooked.

Denizens: Weasels:
A concise clarification instructs GMs and players that weasels may be face with both Fighter or Hunter. Simple and concise–the clarification is worthwhile.

Weasels have a bit different Nature than in previous rules. Small change, but an easy adaptation. Get the book for yourself to see the new descriptors.

Weasel Allies:
Some new descriptors for Nature of other animals has been injected to replace previous rules.

Beetles have a new descriptor word to replace Carapace–which is not an action.

No other livestock was considered for inclusion–too bad. I’m playing in a campaign which presented the use of earthworms as livestock. Also, I’m sure ants could be a possible livestock addition which mice might foster similar to bees. Since Rootwallow already has the weaving of silk, it wouldn’t hurt to include silk worms, spiders, or inch worms (yeah, they have a silken thread too) as livestock. Missed opportunity for enrichment of the mouse world.

Wild Animals:
Some have new descriptors for Nature; mostly this is about placing actions into the descriptors, but I also see some consolidation.

Chipmunk removed!?

Opossum added! I knew I’d seen something new when I scanned through this chapter days ago.

Star-Nosed Mole removed?!

Animal Lore:
Small text change–big connotation change–"… how they communicate," became, “… languages.” This is a strange alteration; since, nearly no other animals have culture like mice such that they use language, yet all animals find methods of communication and most recognize communication across species as well.

I admit I didn’t anticipate much regarding revisions in these chapters. The general spirit of the game relies on consistency in these topics. However, I’m disappointed to see animals removed rather than more animals added. I’m frustrated that no other generic NPCs were added. I further frustrated that no advice about building NPCs was included; we’ve been playing, running, discussing, and poking & prodding Mouse Guard since 2008?! right? I’m sure these topics of NPCs, livestock, animals (and their cultures), structure of the Guard, number of mice in the Territories, outline of other cities, towns, and villages, and many other topics that fit these chapters have been enriched, expanded upon, and requested often enough that more content could have been included in these chapters.

For example, the Burning Wheel forum has loads of example for NPCs, cities, towns and villages, wilderness lore, weather events, plants, fungi and animals, and even illnesses! It would be great to see Luke, et al, capture some of the best stuff, address some of the pressing questions, and conclude some of the arguments by adding new content in Seasons, Territories, and Denizens chapters.

Maybe there is some really juicy content in the upcoming box set supplement.

I want to make sure to close this update with a positive attitude. I recognize that comments above seem like harsh complaints–and I don’t intend anything as an insult–against the new edition. Allow me to solidify those observations while also taking responsibility.

During the past years playing in games, running games, and trying to evangelize Mouse Guard in many opportunities, I’ve also spent a great deal of time writing privately. I’ve got a store of ideas stuck in my head. I’ve withheld some of my nuggets. I’ve even been trying to write a Guide to Mouse Guard. But, I procrastinate; I put it aside; I edit before writing (which is pretty backwards).

All that, and I don’t even have to deal with the strange politics of Archaia/Boom, the vagaries of capitalist business, the facts of the RPG industry, and other factors that make this new edition a really great accomplishment in its own right. So, Kudos to Luke, et al, for getting this contracted, published, and pushed through the strange politics of Archaia/Boom, facing the vagaries of capitalist business, writing the facts of the RPG industry, and kicking ass in so many other ways!

Bravo! May the Burning Wheel forum always be here to add content which the publisher wouldn’t agree to (probably based on page count and cost of ink or not making a blood oath or other such evil dealing).

By the way, these chapters have some changes in the art inclusions as well. Some of it is really nice to see beside the rules.

As I continue the kneejerk review, look forward to: Abilities & Skills, Traits, and Wises chapters in the upcoming days.

I’ve continued the front-to-back reading tonight in Abilities & Skills, Traits, and Wises.

Yes, there were a bit of text errors during this reading. In fact, one threw me for a loop. It was brief–very brief. However, it was a bit of a loop, and I had to do a double or triple take to get on track again.

Abilities & Skills:
This will be brief. There were no new skills presented; however, Deceiver was renamed Manipulator. That’s a good change of the connotation for GMs and players.

I had no anticipation of new skills, but in the kneejerk review I can indulge in a wishlist. I kinda want to split Scientist a bit–like Alchemist, Physicist, and Naturalist. I’d love to see Survivalist, Pioneer, and Engineer–like ‘here’s dealing with a bit of trekking,’ ‘here’s running an expedition and settlement,’ and ‘here’s building large, permanent structures.’ I almost want to see Navigator to manage waterborne pathfinding–currently handled by Boatcrafter.

That’s all just a silly wishlist that inflates the skill list–possibly unnecessarily.

I won’t recopy rules text verbatim, but it will be hard to describe the changes without revealing some new rules. It is fairly concise and easy to understand. The trait list hasn’t changed at all.

Level 1 Trait:
no change: bonus once per session.

Level 2 Trait:
as lvl 1 trait but twice per session. The red italic example text was not updated to reflect the change.

Level 3 Trait:
as axe (i.e. deadly) for all applicable tests per session.

These changes secure the position of Level 3 for more potent traits. The existing rule of fixing failed dice just wasn’t good enough to have a level 3 trait (from my perspective). The rule will require that you’re already winning a test, but having a bonus to the margin of success is a nice hat-trick. It also provides a better position for level 2 traits as more helpful, but not totally rewriting the presence of the trait in the characteristics of the mouse.

So, if you are accustomed to Torchbearer Traits, this is fairly easy to recognize.

Recharge a Trait:
The rules text was not updated to reflect this recharge now applies to Level 1 and Level 2 traits rather than Level 1 and Level 3.

The short review on this is that Wises now operate in the same manner as Torchbearer Wises. So, for those who are accustomed to Torchbearer, this will be easy to implement. So, this provides a few changes for GMs and players that I can outline a bit.

I Am Wise:
Players no longer gain a bonus die from their own Wise. They may only offer a bonus to a patrol mate. This exempts the PC from Conditions in the case of failure. It also must be chosen rather than offering a Helper by Ability or Skill–you can offer your help in action or knowledge, but not both.

Deeper Understanding:
Read Torchbearer–you got it. Use this for a reroll of a failed die with a Fate point.

Of Course!:
Read Torchbearer–you got it. Use this for a reroll of all failed dice with a Persona point.

Using Wises:
Read Torchbearer–you got it. Use the Wise for a pass, fail, w/ Fate, and w/ Persona to grab a perk.

New Wises:
Here’s a bit of a problem. The Wises chapter refers to the Winter session. One of the perks available is to change the wise–that’s a method of picking up a new wise. A PC can only have 4 total wises [except for G, who has 5 Wises] (which holds 4 slots for 24 total Skills & Wises). Also, the rule still exists by which a player can erase a skill or wise that’s no longer wanted in order to open up space for more.

Then there’s the Winter session in which you gain a new Wise through Practice.

So, to get the perk of having a Wise and using it, requires (probably) a large handful of tests in which the Wise gets used in tests. Remember, you’ll only benefit yourself when using a Fate or Persona point, and always benefit others while protecting yourself from their failures. But, if you run through a few years of missions, there is a good chance you’ll fill that dance card before you can get all the uses and earn the perk. I’ll have to try it out, but it’s disappointing that Wises don’t benefit the PC without a price.

Initially, I viewed the new rules–well, new system–for Wises as a benefit. I still feel overall the new system will be a benefit; however, I’m going to miss having a test of knowledge without a test of actions. I’ll also miss having knowledge that can help myself on a test. I think there’s something about the Torchbearer system for Wises that doesn’t feel like the right spirit for Mouse Guard. It’s hard to put my finger on it specifically.

Now that I’ve read this far, I’ve got to mention there are a few errors in the NPC lists include Wises with ratings copied from earlier text. It isn’t in all the NPC stats, but there are a few. That’s irritating; since, it indicates some revision was done, but a few spots got missed in the revision.

Another oddity in the text errors was noticed in the Obstacles chapter. Some red italic text illustrated an example of a complex obstacle which mentioned an, “Ob 2 Architect,” test. Seeing that I initially got my hopes up that there were new skills in the list which included Architect; however, not at all. It was just an inconsequential text error.

That’s the details for today’s reading and kneejerk review. I’ll keep reading, but the next chapter for review is likely the Recruitment chapter.

Today, the kneejerk review is short. I did read today. I read the sample missions.

I don’t have much to say about this chapter. These are the sample missions from the previous book and appear to be unchanged.

I’ve been busy today, so I don’t have time for reading the Recruitment chapter prior to this kneejerk review today. I’ll get it done soon and post about the changes in Recruitment.

I’ll say only one thing about the sample missions: once you have played through a handful of times, you’ll feel eager to design missions as GM; the sample missions have limited replay value after you know them and approximately how they unfold.

I’ve preordered the box set with my LGS.
This review concerns me :frowning:
Luke’s style of writing is confusing to me at times. I had high hopes that 2e would correct a lot of things and bring about some clarity. It sounds like with the editing issues, it will be more difficult to comprehend.
I’m still planning on getting the box when it comes out. Especially for all the dice, cards, and goodies. But I’m a little disheartened that it sounds like instead of a new edition, it could have been a fairly small supplement of errata and rules changes.

Tell me more about the style of writing or areas which could be clarified. I’ve felt this rules update provides three good changes: Wises, Traits, Multi-Team Conflict that are areas for a rousing excitement. The recruitment chapter actually does streamline the process, and I’ll be posting that review shortly.

Although I do agree the feel of this edition has been errata and clarification. That’s also disheartening for me.

I’ve been busy with day-job workload, but I had time to settle in for reading the Recruitment chapter. Here’s the kneejerk review.

Firstly, Recruitment is just the (better) term for Character Generation in Mouse Guard–in case anyone reading didn’t realize. It has traditionally been an easy process, and the new edition provides a slightly streamlined process. I do think it’s an improvement; however, I’ve got a .pdf of the earlier process in case I want to offer more customization for players that don’t like the constraints of the new steps.

I think that’s probably the best note to be mentioned: If you have the earlier rules, it is an easy option to use those earlier rules in case you don’t like the new edition Recruitment process. This will vary among GMs and players as it will also vary based on the sort of campaign a GM and players wants to develop.

All Together Now:
Do play-group Recruitment for characters rather than individual player Recruitment for a character. That’s the same advice as previous, but I just like it.

I don’t see a change here; I want to call this out for being too simplified. Concept is Conquest! In the Mouse Guard game (and from my experience, Burning Wheel and Torchbearer share this), the concept is a very important step. I’d say this critical step for a play group to discuss together. When I have introduced players into table sessions or shared google doc sessions, the concept sheet is a step I provide first; it is a page which encourages the player to describe the concept in a concise paragraph rather than a short phrase.

Guard Rank:
Here is the meat of PC capability–though not the whole identity.

The new rules will feel more like Torchbearer in the case of a starting package. Rank now determines Skills baseline, Health & Will (as before), and (later) Circles & Resources. Rank provides influence on Age, Wises, and available Skill/Trait choices.

This marks a change in the process by which a baseline package of skills is determined which speaks to the minimum requirements for function in the organizational rank; this is story as mechanics. Some GMs and players will hate that. To that demographic especially I advise adapting the earlier Recruitment rules.

To other GMs and players, I suggest this is a good tool for determining Promotion–if you start a PC and reach at least the minimum baseline in the Recruitment Skills for your next rank, then you’re probably a candidate for promotion!

This does not show automatic progression in the same skills from Tenderpaw - Guardmouse - Patrol Guard - Patrol Leader. Each rank has some overlap, but also some skills are set in a rank which does not show in another. I recall some comments about this in the forum. Summarized, the comment seemed to ask, “Why would another rank no longer have the skills they previously acquired?” which is a bit of a misunderstanding about the recruitment process. It is intended to create a snapshot of the PC in media res–all the play which happens afterward will change and develop the character further.

This new process removes the tabula rasa experience for players who were trying hard to build a PC to deal with exact obstacles of the campaign or mission. You don’t get a blank slate from step one. You now begin with a baseline Skill package. Each other mouse of a same rank will also have the same baseline. This will be a guide for Helper dice, but it will also provide some table chatter about who makes the test—now more players will have similar skills in a patrol.

Side note: Guard Captain also has a starting skill package.

Choosing Skills: Where were you Born?
The hometown choices have been provided again. It will provide a Skill and a Trait intended to represent the hometown. I’ve personally never liked this, but I don’t complain too much.

I’d rather see a list included of common skills and traits which could be chosen instead of the Hometown package. I think it would be especially appealing for PCs of Patrol Guard and higher rank who may have been away from home for longer. That’s me linking story and mechanics (which some GMs and players hate); however, considering this is a status quo of the new process when choosing rank, maybe it is fitting to consider this. It does not, however, fit with the goal of a streamlined Recruitment process.

Choosing Skills: Life Experience
Everyone has a natural talent; I can understand why Tenderpawsand Guard Captains choose two from this list. The Tenderpaw has recently come from home—they had more time for developing a natural talent. The Guard Captain is rarely on the patrol—they’ve got more time for engaging a natural talent.

Everyone has a trade learned from parents. I kinda wish this list were longer. I’m not convinced everyone’s parent passed a craft/trade skill; however, I give this a pass.

Everyone has interpersonal communication: Manipulator, Orator, Persauder are the choices here. I’ve always wished Haggler were a choice. It is not easy to pick up these skills and not frequent they are practiced in sessions.

Everyone experienced an apprenticeship when joining the Guard, and the available skills are craft/trade centric—just like the parental skill.

Everyone had mentorship when joining the Guard, and the skills available come from the Guard list, excuse me, the patrol skills. A Tenderpaw no longer chooses two—the skill package supplants having two picks from the mentorship.

Everyone aside from Tenderpaws has a specialty among the patrol skills.

Mouse Nature:
This has moved to post-Skill tally, which is a good choice as it provided in past some influence over the Traits allowable and the Fighter skill. In the move, some wording has changed to retain the influence over Fighter, but also allow a player to gain Traits in the process of answering questions. This might offer more of the same Traits in a patrol too.

Side Note: for those adapting the earlier process, I would be sure to use this observation about moving the Nature step after the Skill step and before the Trait step.

Being Wise:
The rank determines the number of starting wises and influences the choices. Specifically, Tenderpaws must choose one of two options—both of which confuse me a bit. Guard Captain must choose one of two options—both of which seem totally apropos. However, whether these confuse or are apropos, I’m still thinking about the new system for Wises and wondering how much shoehorn I already had to listen for regarding Wises about unrelated stuff—sometimes it was really good roleplay and enriching story. Most often, players in search of a bonus didn’t know how to make the most of Wises. The required choices for Tenderpaws and Guard Captains don’t seem easy to apply in all cases—which is fine—and seem downright campaign or mission specific in most cases.

Guard Resources:
Determined by rank; no questions.

Guard Circles:
Determined by rank; no questions

I feel these could have been listed in the starting rank package alongside Health & Will to save page space; however, there is still a short blurb of text about each Ability. That blurb also exists in greater detail in the Abilities & Skills chapter.

Mouse Traits:
Everyone has a natural inherent trait choice, and this appears to be a large list of options. I think I’d have chosen the more physical and mental traits for this list and left off the emotional and experiential traits. For example, Weather Sense seems rather like an accumulation of weather event experiences while Short seems rather like a physical description. Another example, Longtail seems a physical description while Curious seems a mental quirk. This is not a huge issue, but seems like a niche place to encouraging players to have Traits which come from multiple facets of character attributes.

Only the Tenderpaw has retained a parental trait. I wish Guardmouse also had this choice, and I think for most of my GMing I’ll allow Tenderpaw and Guardmouse to have a parental trait.

Only Patrol Leader and Guard Captain have acquired a Life on the Road trait, and the text now specifies this is not for Patrol Guard where earlier text only specified Guardmouse and Tenderpaw. I think for most of my GMing I’ll allow Patrol Guard and Patrol Leader to have a Life on the Road trait—Guard Captains have to spend more time in Lockhaven, so they’ve kinda lost this attribute.

The idea for me is that choice of, ‘how many traits can I get?’ sometimes determines the choice of rank. I’d rather reduce that for players. I think most new players should be starting as Guardmouse, some playing time prepares them for Patrol Guard or Patrol Leader. Only veteran players should be Tenderpaw or Guard Captain. That’s just my opinionated opinion. No one else should feel compelled to agree.

The remainder of the Recruitment process is unchanged: Name, Fur Color, Parents, Senior Artisan, Mentor, Friend, Enemy, Cloak Color, etc.

Now, Torchbearer doesn’t fill your contact list with NPCs, and I kinda wish Mouse Guard did something similar. Torchbearer declares the PC has not got more than three NPC relationships. I’d like to see something like that in Mouse Guard, but with the explicit declaration that one or more of the Parents, Artisan, or Mentor is dead—lost in some foul way to predator, weather, or wilderness. Yes, someone your PC once knew closely has met an untimely and unfavorable death! And it shaped something about what you do in the Guard.

Another Torchbearer declaration is about level, but might—maybe—be translated into Rank. It states that you surpass your mentor and must choose another. I’d like to see something like that in Mouse Guard. I’d prefer that Patrol Guard and Patrol Leader must have a different mentor than when they were Tenderpaw and/or Guardmouse rank. So, its fine if, as Tenderpaw or Guadmouse, you have a dead mentor, but upon making the promotion to Ptl Guard or Ptl Leader, you had better find a new mentor—a living mentor—who helps you progress and stabilize in the new rank/role.

But, that’s a silly dream; since, we’ve gotten this new edition due to extensive effort (not by me, but by the Burning Wheel team), and having a new change for a few silly wishes by a fan would be absurd.

Well, that’s the end of it. I’ve finished my kneejerk review. I still want to chat more about it. I think I’ll have to create another, more thoughtful review. I’ll have to create some additional review from a new perspective.

Best wishes to everyone—go play!

This is going to be a rant. But bear in mind, I love the Mouse Guard universe, and I have much respect for Luke Crane and the style of RPG he’s lovingly crafted. Here we go.

I have difficulty with what I’d call “very structured vaguery”. And it seems to be a writing style.

Conflicting Things

Animals under Denizens of the Territories are very nicely laid out. And I expect each piece of information is important, but then it gets murky.

The rules say, “Animals always fight with their Nature ability; they use it for all actions.” (p. 111)
Then Luke said in a forum post that the Nature aspects are there to tell you what the animals do. If something is outside an animals Nature, they shouldn’t be doing it.
Coyotes do not have “predator” listed under their Nature, but they do have the “Snapping Jaws” weapon.

So it seems to me either, the aspects are nebulous and only there to give you a general idea of the animal (unlike Mouse Nature aspects), and the forum post is incorrect.
OR, Coyotes are supposed to have “predator” but do not. In which case Crabs, Herons, Newts, Porcupines, and Skinks also have Fight-related weapons and no Nature aspect that would allow them to be used.

The Assumption of Understanding

The Skills section is beautifully laid out and structured, but there’s no explanation on how to use the Factors. I understand now after digging through the forums and finding some fan-made supplemental downloads. But the point is, the rulebook should be the goto source for new players.
It’s not that I saw this section and had a mental meltdown because I couldn’t comprehend this alien concept. The real issue is that much of the rules and page layouts feel very familiar and sensible. But then the book leans on that assumption and simply gives no further instructions, which leaves me with many small questions to be clarified.

Rules Spread Out Everywhere

“Nature”, is another sticky spot with rules spread all across the book. I think small clarifications would greatly help. For example, 0 Mouse Nature does not mean the mouse is too “human”, instead, it is simply “unmouselike”. There’s a big difference between the two.
Then there’s all sorts of testing, and taxing, and recovery, and beginner’s luck scattered across the pages. And the whole thing feels to me like a clunky swiss army knife stamped with the words “intuitive and obvious” which it simply is not for new players. I think I would’ve liked to see ALL of the Nature rules collected into one place, with everyone’s questions from the past 7 years taken into consideration, and detailed examples in multiple scenarios given.

I think Nature, the turn structure, twists, BIGs, mechanics translating into narrative, and why all those things are key to succesfully running Mouse Guard are the biggest things new players have trouble adapting to. It would be nice to see a little more explanation and love given to the troublesome concepts, so Luke doesn’t have to spend so much time in the forums answering the questions that should have already been answered by the rulebook.

Saturnine, the rules for using skill factors are on p. 231 (1st ed.); the headings “Factoring Obstacles” and “Skill Factors” are in the index.

I must admit I’m a bit puzzled by your experience with the book. Apart from a few very minor points I found the whole book exceedingly clear and lucid. In fact, Mouse Guard is the book I point to when the talk comes around to teaching roleplaying games, especially to complete beginners.

That said, the quality of the editing and proofreading is one of the things I loved about MG, so, yeah, hearing about textual errors and outdated examples makes me a bit sad.

Ah, you’re right. It is there, tucked behind rules for Nature rather than as the beginning of the Skills section for some reason. :stuck_out_tongue:

I do see two types of people in the MG community: those who find the writing and layout to be incredibly intuitive and easy to digest, and those who are confused by it. And I think the number of threads that ask for clarity on the same questions over and over is an indication that for a significant group of people, some of the concepts are not explained in a way that they can easily mesh with.

I’ve spent a lot of time reading Luke and Thor’s explanations, and have essentially found answers to my questions. At this point, my frustration is that it’s apparently not being addressed (and may be getting worse). I would think if anyone understands just how many questions and how much confusion there has been, it would be Mr. Crane. And the response (from whomever) usually comes down to, “Well, it makes sense to me.” The forums suggest to me that a little more work could be done for those who it doesn’t immediately click with. But I’m just defending my own confusion now haha.

By the way, Bobo, do you know the answer to the animal Nature aspects question? I’ve shrugged off the inconsistency and had animal fight conflicts when “predator” is not specifically listed, but that’s just me house-ruling it.

What are the coyote natures again?

(This is really derailing kendesign’s thread – mods, may I suggest splitting this discussion off into a thread of its own, starting with post 13?)

I guess this is one of those things that are perfectly clear to me and not clear at all to you; I’ll give it a go.

Predator just means that the animal is actively going hunting for prey (read: mice). It’s a predator, simple as that. A snapping turtle will not go on the prowl for mice. That doesn’t mean it won’t snap up any mouse it happens to come across, as its description tells you. (It even has a trait for that.)

You can have fight conflicts with any animal. You can fight a moose, if you want to; it even has weapons listed. The animals in the book are there to serve as obstacles (see “The Mission”), and one possible way to deal with obstacles is fighting them (see “Resolution”).

If you want to know whether an animal will actually eat mice or not, check its description. Nearly all of the animals listed do, even those without relevant traits (otters, e.g.). But those that do have a trait like Devouring or Predator, those make a business of it and are really bad news for the patrol.


Sorry, I didn’t see your question – it’s Intelligent, Adaptable, Unpredictable, Tenacious.

I love it! I’ve got a few responses and I think I’ve got to break up my responses into multiple posts.

I’ll use info from 1e and 2e to provide perspective and maintain the spirit of review.

So, first, I agree the use of descriptors in 1e can lead to some confusion. And I think one factor which occured was taht many animals were described using a mix of mouse’s-eye-view and human’s-eye-view to create the Nature (animal) descriptors.

A good example of this is Black Bear: Nature 12 - Powerful, Curiosity, Voraciaous Appetite, Destructor!

From a human perspective, these mostly make sense except for maybe Destructor!; since we know bears aren’t really intending to destroy anything. We know they’re simply big and strong, so stuff tends to get broken and destroyed when bears mess with them.

Also, Voracious Appetite is fairly reasonable; however, modern ecology would also remind us the bears have a routine of overeating before winter to stock fat reserves, and opportunitistically seek out high-calorie meals to fit that need. It isn’t totally a voracious appetite, but it is a purposeful appetite.

In contrast, from a mouse’s view, the bear shows up unexpectedly, destroys everything, and eats non-stop. Destructor! and Voracious Appetite relate to the only thing a mouse sees or knows about the creature. Mice don’t have a larger perspective.

Here’s why I think this is a good example of the Structured Vaguery which occurs. Now, GMs look at the descriptors and imagine, “The best ways to include a bear in-game is for the bear to be an unstoppable force of eating and destroying who is also curious enough to look into places that seem unlikely or unappealing.”

Now, let’s compare to 2e notes.

Black Bear: Nature 12 - Eating, Wandering, Protecting

You may have seen loads of threads about Nature; since, every hack on MG needs to understand it. It’s been used in Torchbearer quite well, and used well in Realm Guard. That means lots of learning before 2e was republished and we see a benefit happening in the Denizens.

First, I’d say these descriptors are much closer to human’s-eye-view which benefits consistency. Second the descriptors are active verbs–participles I think would be the grammatical term. Or are they gerunds? I don’t know. They’re all actions with an -ing ending. Third, the descriptors among all Denizens has removed Predator at all. No animal has retained Predator among the Descriptors.

So, to a GM, now the bear can be brought into a campaign just doing what it does; it eats plenty, it wanders (possibly aimlessly), and it protects things like cubs, territory, or patches of food (like berry patches or a stolen wolf kill). Now, mice will see the bear from their own perspective, but the GM is kinda being told, ‘just be a bear, man! it doesn’t have to go after the mice; its just being a bear.’ So, while just being a bear, some kind of trouble may be happening for mice nearby.

Active verbs are a great tool for helping the GM see how to just personify the animal in a creative way and don’t inject it where it doesn’t belong. Here are a few that I think are great descriptors:

  • Weasel: Bullying, Gloating, Burrow Stealing (from Aggressive to Bullying is good)
  • Blue Jay: Flying, Screeching, Remembering (not Intelligent, Talkative–adjectives)
  • Bullfrog: Leaping, Croaking, Hiding, Hunting (not Predator, nor Hunter–the skill)
  • Fox: Learning, Stalking, Tricking (not Fast Learner, Predator, Trickster–adjectives)
  • Pine Snake: Mouse Hunting, Climbing, Hiding, Constricting (not Predator–Mouse Hunting)

Now, there are also some kinda silly descriptors which are going to be fun. Her’s a few that I think are kinda silly:

  • Kestrel: Acting All Noble
  • Moose: Standing Silently
  • Porcupine: Snarfling
  • Skunk: Stubbornly Not Doing What You Want It to Do
  • Wolverine: Fighting Things Way Bigger

Acting All Noble?! What is that like? Well, it gives the GM something to think about. Snarfling?! How do I use that in-game? Well, it gives the GM something to personify the animal. Silly, and worth having.

Removing Predator is a great choice! Primarily, it’s just an adjective, but there are many kinds of predator-prey relationships. Some are even better defined now than before. Here are some examples of more fitting descriptors than Predator:

  • Badger: Night Hunting
  • Bat: Insect Hunting
  • Green Snake: Insect Hunting
  • Milk Nake: Hunting
  • Pine Snake: Mouse Hunting
  • Snake: Hunting

See how these snakes are differentiated whereas they used to all be Predator?? That’s a great new thing. Now, if a GM has an idea of a corn snake, copperhead, rattlesnake, or earth snake, they’ve got a basic Snake pattern, but also the reminder by way of Pine Snake and Green Snake that the descriptor might need to include what these animal typically hunt. Also, if a GM wants to include a livestock ranch of crickets (for example), then an appropriate Animal obstalce with Green Snake could be just what the Guard must face, rather than Pine Snake!

Inherent Self-Defense:
Here is an area of Denizens I wish were included and explained better. Just as mice will defend themselves aggressively against a predator, so too will other animals self-protect against assault. This isn’t outlined quite as effectively. Here’s an example of the subtle and telling change, which could have been larger:
Goose: from Flying, Aggressive, Swimming (1e) to Flying, Defending Territory, Swimming (2e)

The subtle change here seems to say, the goose will be aggressive about defending territory, not just all around aggressive. When threatened (especially by mice wielding weapons), the GM can ask, “is the goose trying to defend territory, or is it just being driven away from good grazing?” or maybe a more pointed question, “is the goose defending territory, or trying to drive mice away and claim territory in an aggressive way?”

See, with earlier rules, the goose might drive away other denizens through aggression, but current rules help describe the goose’s agression as a defensive choice when dealing with territory. That’s a benefit!

Also, it can mean that some animal interactions can be less of a conflict or a different type of confrontation. Let’s look at moose.
Moose: (1e) Eerily Quiet, Hooves and Antlers, Gigantic, Grazer

This places the moose in a strange place when facing a group of mice. What does Hooves and Antlers really do? They are listed as weapons too, so is that all they should do? Serve as weapons? How do I use Gigantic? Do the mice have anything they can do about the moose being Gigantic?

No; we know more about why the moose have antlers and how they fight. It isn’t hard to find a nature documentary to get an idea of what the moose do with hooves and antlers. So, let’s keep looking.
Moose: (2e) Grazing, Stomping, Standing Silently, Migrating

This gives better tools and imagery for GMs to use the beasts. What are they doing? Just migrating thru the territories. What is the problem for mice? Well, they stomp all around as they go! How do you interact with them? Not sure, they seem to just stand around silently if mice try to talk. Do we need to deal with them? Maybe, they’ll graze all the good foods while passing through.

See, much better tools with that.

I don’t know. I think I’ll always prefer "Powerful, Curiosity, Voraciaous Appetite, Destructor!" That’s how I would run my bear.

I knew this would take a few responses, so here’s to Abilities & Skills. I’ll stick with reference in 2e; since, the changes have been so minimal in this chapter between the two editions.

As Bobo said, the instruction on this does exist in the chapter; however, I want to start with agreement that learning to Factor an Ob take reflection and experience. In addition, it takes reflection and experience for both GM and players. The GM challenge and the player challenge are not identical. Having sat on both sides of the screen, I can see a few things clearly, and others not so much.

The first thing to learn is pretty similar for both GM and Player, yet each applies/implements differently. This is the idea of Range of Difficulty. This subsection of the Factoring Obstacles section (of the Abilities & Skills chapter) gives some nice generic advice about what the factors ought to describe. This should be recognized by players as an advisory warning about the sort of troubles the PC mice might face. It should give a clue about the teamwork which may often be needed. This ought to tell GMs an instructional guide about the sort of troubles the NPC mice, animals, weather, and wilderness ought to cause. It should give a clue about the peril which may often be faced.

Also, both GMs and players should pay attention to keywords; here’s what I mean:

  • Ob 1: easily overcome, single guardmouse
  • Ob 2: bulk of Guard’s work, slight risk
  • Ob 3: challenging, need help, a lot of situations
  • Ob 4: require teamwork, stroke of luck
  • Ob 5: requires dedicated teamwork
  • Ob 6: extreme circumstances

Now, the red italic text soon following shows a good example of reverse engineering the clues by way of keyword. In the example text there are two Admin factors: write a report about a single mouse (Ob 2); write a budget for an outpost (Ob 5). Using some reverse engineering should inspire a few questions

“Does the Admin need any help for writing the report? Probably not. What slight risk might be faced? Maybe causing an angry scene at most. How often will the report need to be written? Fairly often. When in a session does it fit? Probably fitting in Player Turn, but not quite for GM Turn.”

"Does the Admin need help for writing the budget? Yes, a dedicated team of accountants, investors, managers/supervisors, vendors, suppliers, organizational heads, etc. ought be be called on for help getting this done (at least narrative-wise if not also in Helper dice). What could go wrong? Big stuff like an outpost famine, illness, rebellion, or other major issue. How often will the budget need to be written? Hopefully not often–at most maybe once each year. “When in a session does it fit? Probably quite appropriate in GM Turn or Player Turn.”

That’s possibly only scratching the surface, but I hope this illustrates how influential the Factoring Obstacles learning curve will be for GMs when designing missions, for players when considering Player Turn checks, for GMs using Twists, for players when hoping for success w/ conditions, etc.

Following my agreement that this area can quickly cause a mental meltdown, I also want to agree the similar appearance and structure of the many Abilities and Skills listed later in the chapter forms a misleading sense of reason. I don’t advocate for vastly different appearance and structure, but it would help if more red italic example text were interspersed in the list of Skills. That would help to add some clarification by way of examples.

Abilities: Nature:
First, this is a PC attachment as well as a player resource for authorship. It tells the player roughly how mouse-like or human-like the PC happens to be. Twice in the rules text, the rating of 0 is noted as “human”; later it is also noted as distinctly unmouselike. I think there would be a benefit to noting this as un-mouse-like rather than human in all cases. Here are two reasons:

  • there are no humans in the MG world to be more like
  • what are the Nature (human) descriptors (not present in the rules text and open to debate)

The un-mouse-like would also need to be qualified, but this would be beneficial also. Such as, when you’ve reached rating 0, what were you trying to do? Was it during a fight that you finally taxed yourself to that point? Maybe this means you are behaving more like a weasel than a mouse. Was it during a science experiment? Maybe this means you are less interested in foraging, due to increased interest in making things. Was it during a test of Archivist? Maybe this indicates you have more interest in settling down cozy and tight for reading. In any case, when instructed to gain a trait that relates to the test involved, this is a perfect moment to also reinforce that un-mouse-like behavior which is supplanting a Nature (mouse) descriptor. This reduces the open debate of what is human-like and provides a more clear pattern for returning from Nature taxed to 0.

When describing the Nature (mouse) 7 rating, the implied attitude is that such mice are intensely more mouselike and probably too settled and cautious for adventure. This seems odd; since, I would think instead that they are less inclined to be settled and cautious, but instead more wild, fickle, energetic, and primal. I would imagine these such mice (would have a terribly hard time learning new Skills) are those wild mice which live apart from settlements and bear little desire to live a civilized way.

In turn, this leads me to think of the unmouselike Nature 0 mice as those who are intensely settled and cautious. These are the mice (would have a terribly easy time learning new Skills) that build up civilized settlements, provide clear societal patterns, and probably have some intense charisma for attracting followers and maintaining popularity.

In simplest terms, the higher rating should be really great at escaping, hiding, foraging, and climbing like mice we would anticipate in our real world wild places, and lower rating should be really great at learning, settling, thinking, and gathering. Now, admittedly, that’s kinda my own take on Nature (human), yet it isn’t very perfect. The best Guard members are probably those who can strike a good balance between the two extremes.

This next leads me to the topic of using Nature (animal) as a tool for understanding how to inject the Denizens as a GM. I’ve kinda scratched this topic in the previous response; however, I wanted to address a new perspective. This is the reminder that the descriptors should define what the animal is really doing most of the time. When you place the PCs into a stressful situation, often they act in ways that are beneficial, but not always within Nature (mouse). In similar fashion, when NPC animals are placed in stress, they might behave in ways outside or against their Nature (animal), yet the GM still should be prepared to illustrate what stressor is causing the unexpected situation. Otherwise, the GM should genuinely present the animals in natural ways and illustrate how the typical behavior is causing trouble for mice. In the case of most animals, there are really great ways to do just that. The proper descriptors of 2e are a great benefit in this sense.

So, I hope that in some ways I’ve illustrated my own interpretation of Structured Vaguery which I see in the realm of Abilities & Skills. I see it most of all in Nature ratings, but also due to the necessary learning curve via experience and reflection. So, the game requires some investment from GMs and players which some cannot immediately offer.