Mausugado: Mouse Guard in Feudal Japan

As the title shows, I’m building a Mouse Guard setting with a feudal Japan twist. For the most part, it will play as the regular Mouse Guard game with a few new weapons and a whole new culture. However, I would like honor to play a significant role in the game and have come up with three options:

Honor as simply another way to earn Fate or Persona. As in “Did your character act with honor or with dishonor?” In this way, it is similar to Belief. If a character is played for a session with honor, he gains a Fate point. If he sacrifices honor but for the greater good, he gains a Persona point. If he simply acts dishonorably for selfish reasons, he gains nothing.

Honor as its own reward, in addition to Fate and Persona. For each session your character acts with honor, he gains an Honor point. If he sacrifices honor for the greater good, he neither gains nor loses. If he acts with dishonor for selfish reasons, he loses an Honor point. Honor points can be spent at any time honor would effect the outcome of a roll. (It is up to the player to explain how his character’s honor might effect the situation at hand). Spending one Honor point would allow a player to reroll all dice, (including successes). Honor points can only be spent once per test.

Honor as a form of karma. Anytime a character’s honorable actions put himself (and possibly his patrol) at a disadvantage, he takes a -1D to the roll to gain one Honor point for future use. A character can have a maximum number of Honor points equal to his untaxed Nature score. At any time, when in a situation where acting with honor would be advantageous for the character (and possibly the patrol), he may spend any or all of his Honor points to add +1D to his next roll for each Honor points spent.

#1 would be the easiest addition, with little change to the game mechanics.

#2 would be a little more of a change, but makes Honor a more significant part of the game.

#3 would be the biggest change, with a whole new mechanic to the system, but making Honor even more significant to the world.

I personally like #3, but it is a big change and my group says I tend to overthink and overcomplicate, so this might be an example of that. #1 would be the simplest solution, having very little impact on the game. #2 might be a good compromise between the other two.

So, I was wondering what you guys think. Any preferences? Or other ideas?

I struggle to respond without being critical.

I think you would place a bit too much weight into the character function and reward system.

I feel the wholesale replacement of Belief with Honor is a functionally appropriate choice. It doesn’t rock the character too much. It is a rather semantic modification. You ouwld have to write some samples of how to make statements of Honor which reflect the differences from a statement of Belief. But also, the rewards system does not have to change; it remains as is. The player would be able to gain reward to making a point of acting with Honor just as they might gain a reward for acting against Honor.

I would drop the indication of not receiving a reward for making a selfish action. That’s simply part of the story. It does not have to reward selfishness, but it can reward the player embracing a difficult decision or tolerating a non-altruistic motivation. It could simply reward the player for showing something honest about their character–selfishness can be present even among the most virtuous or most honorable.

your #3 might go over better as a replacement for Nature, but that really overcomplicates the function of that Ability.

your #2 overcomplicates the reward system, which is already a little steep learning for new players and older players alike. It can also make a session more difficult to conclude by adding another reward to be judged. I do not agree that it would make Honor more significant, but would trivialize it into a new reward economy.

your #1 could be modified. I can certainly imagine a method of replacing one of the MVP, Workhorse, or Embodiment rewards with a Most Honorable reward. In that case, I might replace Embodiment with Most Honorable and describe it as a reward for making a PC’s Honor statement come to life in a really cool way. In other words, instead of just Embodiment, you focus it on embodiment of the statement of Honor for that PC. At least I can imagine that helps players feel increased incentive for really playing up their choices aligned with Honor.

But, I feel you will have a best result not by including an additional component, but instead by making a replacement component. I feel you can get good results by replacing Belief with Honor, and modification of Embodiment to focus more specifically on Honor. Those two choices would be very minimal.

One additional thought crosses my mind. If, in case you do not want to replace Belief, you instead replaced the Persona with Honor (not changing the function at all), you may be able to illustrate the significance of honor without making a statement about dishonor or selfishness. The method for gaining Honor would be through the existing methods for earning Persona. The method of using Honor would be the same as for using Persona. It simply makes a semantic modification to highlight the depth of meaning you wish to portray. It might even feel a bit like karma–accomplish your Goal, make crucial tests, have the right stuff, and be the embodiment of an honorable individual, that will bring good karma which results in successes down the road.


I didn’t take that as being critical in the least bit. I appreciate the well thought out responce and suggestions. As I said in my OP, my group says I consistently overthink and overcomplicate and you simply reinforced their opinion. My #1 was my attempt to work on fixing that personal room for growth, but your suggestions were even more to the point. Short of someone elso posting another suggestion, I might put it to my group that we will simply rename Persona as Honor. Your points on how a PC earns Persona is as fine a definition of Honor as anything. Thanks again for the detailed and well-thought out responce.


I’m really excited and interested to see what you come up with for this.

My semi-regular Mouse Guard game kind of sputtered out (replaced with SW:EotE and Torchbearer, so that’s not such a terrible thing), but I had plans on including a traveling samurai/ronin NPC into a future session, possibly dragging the characters off into new adventures in the exotic Far East Territories.

When I was looking at this, my thoughts not based so much around changing the BIG mechanics, but rather coming up with replacements for the Guard Ranks (along the lines of something like Samurai, Ronin, Ninja, Lord, etc.), and requiring that at least one of the character’s BIGs were in some way tied to the concept of Honor. And also potentially introducing new or re-skinning some existing weapons to better match the setting.

Mausogado: “Masakatsu Agatsu!”

Ok, I’ll bite. What does “Masakatsu Agatsu” mean?

I’ll post more info as I work on it. The idea originally came up when I was thinking of making a foreign mouse from an Asian land. Then I figured, what the hell. I’ll just make the setting. Our regular MG group has been semi-retired in favor of TorchBearer as well, so this might get used in the not-so-near future.

“Masakatsu Agatsu” is something I picked up from Aikido, which seems very much like it could be a plug-in replacement in this setting for the standard Mouse Guard creed “It’s not what you fight; It’s what you fight for”. Roughly translated, it means “true victory is victory over yourself”.

Oh, that’s so incredibly super-cool. I really dig how it’s absolutely within the spirit of BW, but also lends its own slant to the game. Plus, it definitely plugs into Nature.

I intend on posting regular updates in this thread, to keep guys updated and to get your input. However, I don’t really want to just cut and paste the entire document here each time. Is there a way to post a link to the document? I can see how to post pics and vids, but not docs. Any ideas?

Put it up on Google Drive or Dropbox and send us the link?

Amazon has a new file sharing/collaboration service called Zocalo. I have created a “Mausugado” folder in Zocalo which you could use. Just PM me your email address, and I’ll get you full access to that folder.

Thanks, I’ll do that, but I also created a folder on DropBox called Mausugado and have the PDF saved there.
Here’s the link. I hope it works.

As far as the Mausugado creed, I found this warrior’s creed online and I think it works. (I obviously modified it a bit to fit the Mouse Guard world.)

The Mausugado Creed
As a Guard Mouse, I live by choice, not by chance.
I am motivated, not manipulated.
I am useful, not used.
I make changes, not excuses.
I excel, but do not compete.
I choose self-esteem, not self pity.
I choose to listen to my inner voice, not to the random opinions of others.
As a Guard Mouse, I choose to do the things that others won’t
so I can continue to do the things others can’t.

Downloaded the PDF and it is great work! My only critque is the use of term Ninja. Shinobi would the more culturally appropraitely term. Also Shinobi were not open about their occupations in Fuedal Japan, as the occupation was seen as deeply dishonorable. My advice would be to do more research of historical “Ninja” and revise the setting to be more in line with the History it is based on.

Everything else is incrediably inspired, and the adaptation of the Mouse Guard into this Feudal Japanese setting is spot on.

Thanks. I’ll look into the shinobi. I was using the term ninja because the documents I was researching online used it and ninja is more commonly known to the general public than shinobi, (although, being the old man that I am, I remember the Shinobi video game…awesome side-scroller). But, I’ll look into it and maybe make some changes.

I agree with the replacement of “ninja” with "shinobi’. Also… sumo?! I want (no, NEED!) to see more about that.

I only skimmed the document, but will give it a full read-through when I get a moment. Looks pretty sweet, though.

Sorry I haven’t posted any updates or replies, guys. I haven’t given it up, just on vacation and haven’t had time. I’ll get back to the Mausugado next week. Thanks for all the input. It’s much appreciated.

Just a minor update and a question of political correctness.

Above, I edited the creed to make it a little less wordy. I’m also considering eliminating the line about not competing. At least in our campaigns, competition is a big part of the player’s turns.

As far as the question of political correctness:

The world is loosely based on Feudal Japan culture. While I use a lot of translated words, historical events and traditional occupations, much of the world is total fiction, such as city placement, specific environments, history, etc.

I was originally going to base the Imperial religions on Buddhism and Shinto, but I thought that any changes I made to these religions to make it fit this world might cause inadvertent offense to members of those religions. (Admittedly, it is doubtful that anyone belonging to those religions would read this hack, but you never know.) So, I made up a fictional religion with no basis in reality and I’m fine with that.

My question, however, is with the Kingdom of Rats. The map of the world is a fairly accurate map of real-world Japan and thus has the continent of Asia to the north west. In my world, the Kingdom of Rats is in no way based off of Chinese or Korean cultures. If anything, it is closer to the Mongolian people who followed Genghis Khan. Even then, I am going to leave these barbarians loosely defined because, to the mice of The Ninth Empire, the rattu are a mysterious and savage people and I don’t want the players to know anything that the mice wouldn’t know. So, other than the placement of the continent, they are in no way based off of any culture and I mean no offense to the Chinese or Korean people. The question is, would offense be taken anyway? Should I change create a whole new home for the Kingdom of Rats so that it is in no way connected to the Asian culture, even in placement on the map? I don’t mean offense and I don’t think offense would be taken, but I’d like your opinions. What do you guys think?

I would consider looking at what rats are like in actual Japan. (Remember: scale down distances; the entirety of Mausugaado probably takes place on a single island, like Okinawa.) I suspect that Dave drew on the actual biomes of Canada for Mouse Guard, so you should follow suit. (I’m betting that the sea voyage in The Legend of the Black Axe was in reality across one of the Great Lakes or something.) Draw inspiration from that, and it’ll help you to give the rattu a more honest depiction.

That’s another thought. I was actually considering using an actual map of Japan and scale it down to the scale of mice. Making actually four islands plus all the small ones and scale them to mouse size. The other option would be having them on the main island I guess and just having the Mausugado there and then maybe the rats on the other islands. Maybe even mouse societies that don’t agree with the Mausugado philosophy. Not sure which way to go here.

Had a game session last night playing TorchBearer with my group. Afterwards, had an informative and inspirational talk about Mausugado, the end result of which is, basically I’m going to rewrite just about everything I’ve done so far. :slight_smile: The initial thought was inspired by CarpeGuitarrim’s post above. The following are the more important ideas, but even these are open to debate:

China will not be incorporated at all. Instead of being a multi-island empire, the mouse society will utilize just the main island. The surrounding islands will be occupied by the enemy rat barbarians.

While the Emperor will still be the public face of political power, it will also be much as feudal Japan was: The Emperor is really just a tool to be manipulated by the shoguns, who are truly the ones who control the Empire. While the shoguns are the true leaders of the Empire, the Emperor is merely the religious symbol of authority. Still considered a Living God, he has little true power and relies on the Mausugado to maintain peace and balance among the shoguns. Unfortunately for the Emperor, only in death does he become a Risen God, finally gaining true respect and honor.

However, in Mausugado, while shoguns control political power and have small forces for personal protection, they are not a military power and are not capable of protecting the Empire as a whole. They can muster up small armies of commoners to help the Mausugado when needed. But, it is the Mouse Guard that is, in the end, charged with protecting the shores (borders) from the raids of the rattu and the perils of predators and other animals dangerous to mouse society.

These are the current planned changes. Any thoughts or additions?

“If a Mouse were to be suddenly caught in a trap, he should still be able to perform one more action with certainty.” — Hagakure