Lions of Judah :: Old Testament Israelites


I just ran a successful game of a Mouse Guard hack called Lions of Judah at a convention over the weekend. In the hack, the players are cast as Old Testament Israelites who are called into service as the titular Lions to kick-ass for the Lord God as his Chosen People escape from 350 years of slavery under the wicked Pharoahs of Egypt and claim the promised land of Canaan.

The exploratory con-game went well - folks over here in the UK aren’t so keen to play wee medieval mice, but they’re happy to run with Rangers of Middle Earth or Old Testament Israelites. We had a furious battle and rescue on the bottom of the Red Sea, a Twist that saw the Lions swept away by the returning waters and cast ashore miles away from their families; a terrible trek across a searing desert while Satan plagued them with visions of water; an encounter with a hairy-shouldered sweaty Assyrian merchant called Musa at an oasis; the attempted seduction of houris after Satan had inflamed the passions of a lustful Lion; a brutal sacking of a Hittite village, and the destruction of a Ba’al temple.

I’d like to hear the thoughts of the community on this board. Find below the current answers to Luke’s questions for nascent Mouse Guard hacks. I’m especially interested in commentary about the Israelite Nature - Sinning worked real nice in play, the others less so.

I appreciate that this is a wall of text - phew, what can you do? :confused:

[ul][li] Play must be team-based.
[/li][li] There must be an implacable, over-arching force.
[/li][li] There must be dramatic adventure that focuses on fighting for what you believe in.[/ul]
[/li]I think this hack has all of those.


The characters are Old Testament Israelite soldiers-come-prophets of the Lord God. They are of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, but they are set apart to do the Will of the Lord God of the Israelites. They are the Lions of Judah.

They travel from tribe to tribe, from land to land, across blazing deserts and high mountains, to share the Word of the Lord God with His Chosen People, to smite His enemies with furious purpose, and to make sacrifice to the Lord God. It is a hard life and a hard road to walk. That is why no man walks it alone.

The Lions of Judah are opposed by the enemies of the Chosen People: the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and the Hittites. The Lions must also contend with the weakness of the Israelites, for whom it is all too easy to turn away from worship of the Lord God. Every step on this road of faith and service is also ensnared with the devices of Satan, who seeks to destroy the Lions of Judah from within with temptation and doubt.

Overarching Conflict

Survival in a harsh world as the Chosen People of the Lord God. Though they are grievously assailed, obedience to the will of their Lord God will see them triumph over their Enemies and claim the Earth for their children and their children’s children.

The implacable force is the Lord God. His ways are not the ways of the Israelites. His divine plan is inscrutable and made manifest using the following Hazards:

[ul][li] the Weather (unchanged from Mouse Guard)
[/li][li] the Wilderness (unchanged)
[/li][li] the Enemies of the Israelites such as the Egyptians (replaces Animal)
[/li][li] the Israelites (replaces Mice)[/ul]
[/li]The Lord God also at times manifests his trials and tribulations through his servant Satan.

Animals are uninteresting in a game that is squarely about a Chosen People and their Lord God. Though animals are present in the setting, I’ve dropped the Animal Hazard in favour of Enemies. Israelites fighting dinosaurs sounds very cool colour-wise, but it’s not central to the overarching conflict.


Pretty much the same kind of Missions as regular Mouse Guard, coloured somewhat by the setting.

[ul][li] Blazing a trail through the desert in search of the Promised Land.
[/li][li] Smiting the enemies of the Lord God with furious purpose.
[/li][li] Making sacrifices to the Lord God.
[/li][li] Journeying to holy mountains to receive the word of the Lord God.
[/li][li] Preaching the word of the Lord God to the Israelites.
[/li][li] Freeing Israelites from their captors.
[/li][li] Guiding Israelites between communities.
[/li][li] Ministering to those Israelites that are falling in their faith.
[/li][li] Officiating at ceremonies such as marriages.[/ul]

The Middle East of the Old Testament, specifically the land of milk and honey, Canaan.


The peoples of the Middle East at the time of the Old Testament. The Israelites are the Chosen People of the one true God. Other peoples of the region such as the Hittites are Enemies of the Israelites. They worship false gods.

Satan stalks the lands, tempting and tormenting the most faithful of the Israelites. He is a friend to the Enemies of the Israelites. Satan is an agent of the Lord God, and does His Will in all things.


The Nature is ‘‘Israelite’’.

[ul][li] Surviving
[/li][li] Toiling
[/li][li] Sinning[/ul]
The Israelites have had hardship and misery - floods, plagues, slavery - thrown at them in spades and they’re still alive. Hence, Surviving is a key aspect of the Israelite Nature. The Israelites just won’t die.

The Israelites are hard bloody workers. It’s why the Pharaohs so loved the bricks made by the Israelites while they were in captivity. They toil like no other race, hence Toiling.

The Israelites are the Chosen People of the Lord God, but the Old Testament is littered with their sins. They’re darn good at turning their face away from the Lord God, and so Sinning is another key aspect of the Israelite Nature.

If an Israelite wishes to do something that is at odds with the will of the Lord God, then it is done at the full Nature Exponent. David pursuing Bathsheba is an example of such.


These are the new Traits.

[ul][li] Righteous
[/li][li] Tireless
[/li][li] Proud
[/li][li] Covetous
[/li][li] Vengeful
[/li][li] Lustful[/ul]
These Traits are renamed versions of existing Traits.

[ul][li] Bigpaw becomes Goliath
[/li][li] Guard’s Honour becomes Lion’s Honour
[/li][li] Oldfur becomes Methuselah
[/li][li] Skinny becomes Emaciated
[/li][li] Steady Paws becomes Steady Hands[/ul]
These Traits are no longer in the game.

[ul][li] Big Ear
[/li][li] Hard Worker (Israelite Nature makes this redundant)
[/li][li] Longtail
[/li][li] Sharptooth
[/li][li] Wolf’s Snout[/ul]

The following Skills are new.

[ul][li] Riding
[/li][li] Ceremony[/ul]
The following Skills have new names.

[ul][li] Loremouse becomes Kohen
[/li][li] Scientist becomes Chirurgeon[/ul]
These Skills are inappropriate and are removed.

[ul][li] Apiarist
[/li][*] Insectrist[/ul]

Oh sweet JESU, this is awesome.

One quibble: Can we tighten up the SURVIVAL descriptor for Nature? It seems way too gameable.

Sin as part of Nature is just farking awesome, though.


“Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.”
–Judges 2:16


Sure thing.

How about just wholesale replacing it with “Fearful”?

Source rationale: the Israelites were afeared of many things - their fear after Moses walked up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments led to the creation of the Golden Calf; their fear of the Giants in the Land of Canaan as reported by the Twelve Spies led directly to the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years; etc.

Game rational: being Fearful is not a great Nature for a Lion of Judah - to be a Lion means that you must not be afeared. You gotta be a freaking Lion for the Lord God. So with “Fearful” there’s the conflict between the Israelite fearfulness and the duty of a Lion of Judah - namely to step up to the plate and take a swing for your Beliefs.

That’s very apt, nice one :slight_smile:


Fearful isn’t bad, but the Israelites still did dumb things in spite of fear. The ones who were upright and good did fear the LORD, but many didn’t have a proper fear/respect.

Doubter? Sometimes, the People did like to hedge their bets with the divine and all… But there’s overlap with Sin.

Sin is such a broad category of issues, but it is the thematic element. It is hard to avoid the word.

If you could break Sin into components, maybe that would be adequate? Being willful and selfish (part 1)… And doubting in the LORD (part 2)? (Material and Spiritual issues of Sin?)

And would Sin be the nature for all, then? Israelites consistently broke the Covenant, but Canaanites and other inhabitants of the land also did silly things before the LORD. (“Oh, let’s put that box in front of our statue to Dagon. What could possibly go wrong?”)

Or maybe there is some other status that is like Sin, but not encompassing the People. The non-Israelite Goyim, Gentiles, or whatever?

Maybe “Goy” is Nature for enemies like the Philistines? The Goyim just aren’t the People.

I like Fearful because their god is one that instills fear – it is proper to be fearful before him.

And I like it because it references back to Escaping/Hiding from Mouse Guard.

I think there’s an intentional tension here that would be interesting to explore in play.

EDIT: As in, what Luke said.

It was the first thing I thought of. This is an interesting hack; I hope you get to run it again.

I love this. The cool thing is that there is a very strong through line in the hebrew texts that every biblical and historic disaster that befalls the ancient israelites can be traced back to a failing of the Israelites themselve. So an Israelite Obstacle leading to a weather twist (flood, lightning) or an enemy twist (destruction of the temple) is in keeping with the source material.

What about including Idolatrous in the trait list? (Nazarene might be cool too)

Skills - Insectrist and Apiarist could translate to Herdsman, no?

Nature - Toiling, Sinning and Fearing are perfect for Nature. The Israelites never do dumb things in spite of fear. They do dumb things because the fear the wrong stuff :wink:

The old testament is chock full of apiary references. They LOVE their honey.

Insectrist going to herdsman makes it fill the same relative role.

Thanks for the replies guys.

I’ll have another run out with Fearful then and see how it plays.

Good call on the Apiarist and Insectrist skills too - I’ll add them back in to the rough draft of the Recruitment chapter.

I’d like to PDF this up in the same manner as the Realm Guard hack. There’s loads of top-banana public domain art that has the Old Testament as its subject - some of Gustav Dore’s work forex - so making the PDF look pretty is on the cards.


Hi, I just wanted to chime in and add my voice to the chorus. This hack is exciting and imaginative.
Now I must see about recruiting some locals to play…


Has this hack gotten any further along? It’s a pretty cool idea.

I haven’t even read or played Mouse Guard and this looks brilliant! If anyone ever runs this as a PbP or, better yet, on Google Wave, count me in - twice!