MG v2 - 1st Session Questions

Hi Gang,

I read the book, watched the Roll20 MG sessions, and GM’d my first burning wheel family game this past weekend. I had a few questions I would love clarified!

Skill Tests
[ul]
[li]Do helpers get to mark a pass/fail as well? The book mentions helpers get all the benefits/detriments the person rolling does - unless you use a Wise to help.
[/li][li]Mason skill - is this the same as stonemason? “Mason” wasn’t in the skill list, stonemason was.
[/li][li]Beginner’s luck, if you get the right # of tests (equal to nature), your skill starts at what level? 2?
[/li][/ul]

Conflicts
[ul]
[li]What happens if you tie a roll (Maneuver v. Defend) - normally in a skill tie you roll Health/Will, is that the case during a conflict as well?
[/li][li]When determining disposition, can you get assistance? I think so - the game is very help-centric (which I like).
[/li][li]Similarly for the NPC starting disposition, they get Base + 1 die for each other enemy on that team helping - assuming it can be explained w/ the story?
[/li][li]Can you get assistance on every action during a conflict from all your team mates?
[/li][li]
[/li][/ul]

GM Turn
[ul]
[li]Typically, how many obstacles are in an average GM turn, is this completely story driven? If the party is making camp out in the woods, do they get a Player Turn?
[/li][li]Players wanting to do things during GM turn (Cartographer, Herbalist/Gathering), are they allowed, or must they do this during Player Turn?
[/li][li]
[/li][/ul]

Player Turn
[ul]
[li]If you pursue an open issue from the GM turn, how does that work? Do they get 1 roll? What if there’s a PvE conflict, is that their one check?
[/li][li]
[/li][/ul]

Traits
[ul]
[li]Foolish & Impetuous aren’t in the Trait section of the book - is this an oversight?
[/li][li]
[/li][/ul]

Thanks in advance! We dug the game!

Helpers don’t mark pass/fail; however, those who assist with Wise should note pass/fail as that is part of advancing / using the Wise.
Mason skill is probably an editing error; I’d simply call that as Stonemason
Yes, after making attempts equal to Nature rating, a skill opens at rank 2.

Conflicts
[ul]
[li]What happens if you tie a roll (Maneuver v. Defend) - normally in a skill tie you roll Health/Will, is that the case during a conflict as well?
[/li]> [li]When determining disposition, can you get assistance? I think so - the game is very help-centric (which I like).
[/li]> [li]Similarly for the NPC starting disposition, they get Base + 1 die for each other enemy on that team helping - assuming it can be explained w/ the story?
[/li]> [li]Can you get assistance on every action during a conflict from all your team mates?
[/li]> [/ul]

Yes, tiebreakers occur during Conflicts and will be treated in the same fashion. I might add one little tidbit: in case you find the Tiebreaker creates a tie, and there is no method to shift toward one side or another, the GM should call the stalemate, yet offer no margin of success / failure in the Action exchange. Simply call the stalemate and move to the next Action exchange in the Volley.

Yes, all those participating on a side should offer a Helper narration and die; I also allow Traits, Persona, and Fate when rolling Dispo.

Yes, the GM side of a Conflict should include all those participating in the Dispo attempt.

Sure, you could have Helpers in every action; there might be times this isn’t possible due to not having an applicable Skill, Wise, Gear; however, it also may occur that a teammate doesn’t quite align to the conduct of that action (such as a pacifist choosing not to Help during an Attack, but offering Maneuver and Defender Helpers quite readily). That isn’t often; more often all the team is scrambling to assist and support each other. A caveat is that only 2 teammates may offer Helper dice in a given Action.

GM Turn
[ul]
[li]Typically, how many obstacles are in an average GM turn, is this completely story driven? If the party is making camp out in the woods, do they get a Player Turn?
[/li]> [li]Players wanting to do things during GM turn (Cartographer, Herbalist/Gathering), are they allowed, or must they do this during Player Turn?
[/li]> [/ul]

Hmmm. Yes, story driven, and largely a GM habit. Personally, I’m careful to have only two Obstacles and usually one Twist. However, I break my own habits for some sessions. It is also easy to move from Obstacle to Twist, then Twist upon that, then Twist upon that, and potentially never return to find the second Obstacle initially sketched into the session notes. When the party must camp in the wilderness, a Player Turn may be offered. The advice is that the mission is complete, the party is safe, OR when the obstacles are faced; so I’ve certainly had some GM Turns end with the mission incomplete, the party in shambles, but the obstacles finished–they’ve got to start the PT with finding safety, and must consider how to complete the mission. I don’t think there is a perfect rule, but a reasonable practice for a new GM is to have the obstacles played through, place the patrol in safety or mostly safety, and the mission incomplete; this drives the players to use checks first on the completion of a mission, then on themselves. Later, as the group matures, other scenarios can develop–such as mission is complete, party is in safety, and obstacles are complete which leaves them a question of how to fulfill the Guard oath and duties without specific orders.

During the GM Turn, I allow players to describe the things they want to do, then determine whether that’s fine or requires a test. Many are just fine to allow. My philosophy is, “Say, ‘yes,’ Say, ‘no,’ or Roll Dice!” Sometimes they want to conduct some action which would clearly overwhelm their available time with non-mission or non-obstacle related things; that’s a good time to say, “No, you simply can’t waste time on that, and need to stay focused.” Other instances might be mission or obstacle related, but are kinda not critical; this is a good chance to say, “Yes, that would be a good Helper die to offer for your patrol mate in this test,” or, “Yes, that’s an alternative plan which could resolve the issue; now does the patrol agree to set aside other plans to follow your suggestion.” Still other instances might be, “Yes, that’s not anything consequential, and you do just as you’ve described.” The caveat in those instances might be: no permanent Gear or Pass / Fail is produced from it. So, Cartographer as a hobby–sure, but not so detailed a map that it becomes a +1D Gear (map) benefit; foraging for mushrooms–sure, but not so successful as to overcome Hungry. The last thing to say is that sometimes there are useful actions that deserve a test outside of the mission or Obstacle at hand; perhaps checking weather, speaking with animals, giving directions to passers by, convincing mice to join up, etc. which kinda influence the course of events and distinctly employ a Skill with risk of causing problems; you check the weather and assure the group of what’s upcoming (only it impacts towns and wilds differently than the patrol); you chatter with an animal and gain information (but it is from that animal’s point of view, which may not serve mice well); you offer directions or a map to traveling mice (yet, they are discovered later to be bandits seeking clues about their next target); you speak at a local academy and convince youngsters to recruit (and then are required to escort them along after they are kicked out of their training school).

A final comment on dealing with these requests may to to say, “Sure, you’re spending a few spare moments on that talent all along the way; let’s use your first check in PT to test how effective you’ve been along the way and finalize the resulting contribution.”

Player Turn
[ul]
[li]If you pursue an open issue from the GM turn, how does that work? Do they get 1 roll? What if there’s a PvE conflict, is that their one check?
[/li]> [/ul]

Yes, generally dealing with something from GM Turn is approximately 1 check to get 1 test / conflict. Now that’s another area where GM habit has shaped my method. I encourage players to pencil-in the idea of what they want to do with a Check(s) as we begin the PT; I can help identify things which (a) won’t require a check, (b) are candidates for Complex Tests of 1-3 checks, or © candidates for Conflict. This gives a chance to revise as the PT progresses. Here’s two examples: several mice in the patrol are Hungry or Tired–one player could opt to 'Source food/drink or lodging for the patrol to offer all patrol mates to recover Hungry/Thirsty or Tired (as needed); a patrol mate wants to track a criminal / blaze a trail / whatever else–other patrol mates interested in that conclusion could opt to join as Helpers or encourage it as a Conflict rather than spend a Check on nearly the same thing.

Traits
[ul]
[li]Foolish & Impetuous aren’t in the Trait section of the book - is this an oversight?
[/li]> [/ul]

Not exactly an oversight, but unfortunate those were left out. Use the other Trait descriptions as a sample, and develop some beneficial and detrimental descriptions that fit your game. I think of Foolish being a bit more negative, yet the fool can sometimes resolve problems or pass their problems onto others

A caveat is that only 2 teammates may offer Helper dice in a given Action.

Whoa. I TOTALLY missed this! I don’t have my book with me (and I don’t have the 2e PDF, as you may have seen in another thread), do you happen to know the page number or section where this is stated?

they’ve got to start the PT with finding safety, and must consider how to complete the mission.

Would there be a 2nd GM turn (regardless of what success/progress the players made on their turn)? Is there incentive for the players to use checks/actions on the mission completion vs. healing themselves, if they know that they get a 2nd GM/Player turn cycle?

Those examples you gave (patrol comes across a group of travelling mice, and wants to recruit or give them a map), is that then player turn testing? If it’s the GM turn, but it’s a twist, or it’s something the players want to drive towards (vs. your mission), how do you transition to allow them the turn to do this at that moment if it’s still the GM Turn?
This, by the way is the most difficult thing for me to get my head around. :wink:

Thank you Ken, for all your help (I assume you are also one of the folks answering my G+ questions). Sorry to overload the groups with questions, but MG is great, and different enough where I want to make sure I’m understanding the rules, before changing/breaking them.

Ah - I see on p103, 2 teammates max during conflicts - not during normal rolls. Doesn’t seem to be a max on helping with a non-conflict test.

If it’s the GM’s turn and the mice ask for directions, the players can probably just give them the directions, right? Any time you drop the narrative off in the players’ laps without calling for a test you’re inviting this confusion about what they can and can’t do. An easy fix is not to do that. Narrate until you get to an obstacle. If you bring random traveling mice into the mix, have a good idea why theyre here and present them as a mice obstacle.

hmmm. I’d say the players should feel incentive and motivation to work toward the completion of the mission; however, that can depend on the mission and state of completion. Another GM Turn should be a new mission–even when it is a follow-on to the current mission. I prefer to roll out 1 season per 1 session and use it as a highlight of the critical mission and largest events/scenes of the season. So, during the PT, I still consider time to be rolling by. This means that player checks are separated a bit with very low detail about what happened in the intervening hours/days/weeks. Well, I say that 'cause I do that in the GM Turn too; I don’t try to describe everything in high detail, so the mission might take several weeks, but we only ‘zoom in’ on a few key scenes of that effort.

I’m trying an online season-to-session rate of 2 Spring, 3 Summer, 2 Autumn, 1 Winter. We aren’t far along, so it is hard to say how that plan is going. I’ve done a few past seasons split across 2 sessions as well, and I like that. I especially like when a mission kinda requires a dual session cycle to finalize, but I don’t prefer to do that too often.

I want players to use the PT for non-mission, non-recovery, and non-shopping tasks. I want to see crafting skills, leisure travel, relationships, and spontaneous undertakings. If they can’t get recovered, can’t seem to complete the mission, or can’t seem to get the resources then players are hesitant to try those other things.

Those examples you gave (patrol comes across a group of travelling mice, and wants to recruit or give them a map), is that then player turn testing? If it’s the GM turn, but it’s a twist, or it’s something the players want to drive towards (vs. your mission), how do you transition to allow them the turn to do this at that moment if it’s still the GM Turn?
This, by the way is the most difficult thing for me to get my head around. :wink:

I’m willing to offer a test which is neither Obstacle nor Twist during the GM Turn, but it is rare. I wouldn’t place a GM Turn on hold to offer a fast round of tests, then swap back into GM Turn mode. In that sense, I don’t play it like Torchbearer with its Camp Phase. I think there may be a future mod to include a Camp Phase in MG then a Town Phase as a more full PT. I don’t know; it might not fit the spirit of MG very well. I suspect it would lengthen the game session beyond reasonable time.

So, I’ll also narrate a scene, let the players respond, and move forward. Sometimes the stuff they want to do warrants a test, and sometimes not. Here’s one of my fave moments: In a face-to-face session with Dad, 10yr old son (Will), and 7yr old son (Gary). None of the three are really gamers, and all are totally appeasing me to play MG for a few hours.

Will gets approached by an NPC who wants the patrol to do something (a bit absurd and dangerous) which NPC is prepared to have Argument Conflict to convince the patrol to agree. Dad is distracted, so he misses the request. Will and Ewan both respond, “Sure, we’ll do that for you. We promise to (do whatever, I think it was searching for a group of lost science mice).”

So, that was my Mice Obstacle, and they instantly deflated any test by immediately and enthusiastically agreeing to the (absurd) request. Dad turned around to hear what was going on and cautioned, ‘we should maybe not do this.’ We opted for a Persuader vs Persuader to assure the promise would be honored, but the Ptl Ldr could limit the terms based on safety.

That was a fairly good Mice Obstacle, and having a fine roll of dice, the patrol succeeded. They were on the hook for their promise, and it came up during the PT to carry out the task promised.

Had they failed, the Twist would have been something like: Your patrol gets started right away on the (absurd task) and finds itself ambushed by Animal/Weather/Wilderness Twist.

The challenge in offering a non-Obstacle or non-Twist test is that every roll of dice should have risk. If the risk is, “You’ll probably succeed at cost of hunger, anger, fatigue,” then it’s not a terrible choice for GM–still could be bad for players. If the risk is, “You’ll really end up going along a side-quest if this fails,” then GM beware–that limited planning might make far less sense now.

I haven’t mentioned my fave type of Twist: Everything Gets Worse (pg 69), “Or twists can be used to bring in new encounters with the same obstacle. In other words, they can be used to make the existing situation worse.” That’s a simple way to keep your planning roughly in place while making their progress seem and feel much harder.

Another fave Twist method: Something Cool (pg 68 ), “Twists usually come in the form of new obstacles to overcome, but sometimes they can just be cool moments you describe.” So, not every Twist must call in a new hazard with test(s).

If you keep those in mind when there are low-consequence dice rolls failed, you can fit in more tests for those groups who need to learn about Traits and Wises. In low-consequence / low-risk tests, Helpers might want to stick with Wises to avoid getting bundled into the Conditions; likewise, the testing player might feel okay about using a Trait to detriment for the Check.