Mission for a Con - A patrol to far

So I’ve taken upon myself to arrrange a Mouse Guard-spot for a Convention. Maybe not that big a deal, but though I’ve played/GMed a few Burning Wheel Campaigns and played in a short Rangers of the North campaign, I’ve never played Mouse Guard except the first mission when MG was new and none knew how to play.

While I’m not all bad for it, I’ve a bit uncertain about the mechanics behind the Mission Obstacles. I’d be happy if someone took a look at them:

Mission I: A patrol to far (Winter mission)

GM: Let everyone start with nature tapped, and then assign 2x hungry and 1x tired, if four guardsmice tap another for the last mouse), we’ve said 3-4 players.

Scene A: Outside it is snowing and getting colder (as night falls). Gwendolyn gets the senior mouse and tells her to gather the guardsmouse she can get and rescue a patrol that’s gone missing. Most important is the Pharmacist Mrs. Millicent Honeyleaf, one of a few who can brew medicine and her scientist-husband makes the scent-border elixir. A couple of friend/mentor/enemy will probably be mentioned in the patrol as well.

FIRST OBSTACLE: (Wilderness?)

The patrol must be found. It has gone from Lockhaven towards Sprucestruck, but patrol going the other way have not seen it. They got scared by a roaming badger.

SCOUT Vs Ob.5 /Vs Winter 5D + 2D snow

Possible help Pathfinder, Survivalist, Hunter?

TWIST 1: Two patrol mice is found (tired) and can tell the rescuers that the missing patrol left the paths to avoid a hungry badger. The guardsmice are (probably) A friend/(mentor) and an enemy (but adjust to pick from player choices). They will probably ask to not be saved, or saved, whatever you think will get the players rolling (look at the characters’ goals). Maybe they want a message delievered to their parents/Gwendoly?


A cave in. The last of the patrol is safe, under a root, (they can spot a cleverly placed guards cloak, of a mentor/friend?), but there’s need to get the patrol out. (Friend: Persuader 4, Will 4, Sick, Tired, Thirsty) (Enemy: Deceiver 4, Will 4, Hungry)

Laborer Vs Ob. 5, possible help Survivalist, Health?

(I’m thinking conditions tired/thirsty could be an idea.)

TWIST 2: A badger

Probably a chase scene, I think the badger will want to eat at least one mouse. The players might enact a fight scene, that will probably go bad. Saving the badger for later could be cool, if it’s been probably built up. Seeing some tracks in the snow, on the way to the patrol?

Players’ Turn:

They have conditions. They might have goals of bringing the Pharmacist/Friend/Mentor to Sprucetruck/wherever/Lockhaven. Maybe they’ve offered or promised to do something i

Mission II: A spring dam-break (spring mission)

Scene A: Gwendolyn/Someone tells them to run too [Ivydale?/someplace] because of a flood.

When the patrol arrive in [Ivydale?] they’ll report to [someone/mentor?] and asked if they’ll help the mice stuck on a shrinking island, or mend the breaking dam.

OBSTACLE 1: Swim/row out to help the mice. Health Ob.5/Survivalist Ob. 4) Help suggestions survivalist, scientist, pathfinder

OBSTACLE 2: An Ob. 4 Carpentertest (help suggestion, Scientist, stonemason, labourer)

TWIST 1: A mother mouse will besiege [one of-/the patrol leader] to help her little children who are stuck on a roof. She’ll be firm and assertive:

A Vs test (Mrs. Strongbranch, Persuader 4, Deceiver 4, Will 4). After the Every second Ecchange will give a cumulative -1D to the patrol’s next task.

TWIST 2: A Bull frog will attack [someone].

(again conditions may be ok, if the patrol eases their first task they might help with the other or employ the bull frog twist?)

Mission three: Summer deliveries (summer mission)

Scene A: Retrospect to Gwendolyn giving the orders to make a common run assisting the locals on their route, delievering mail and taking messages.

OBSTACLE 1: A mother screams excitingly when seeing the patrol pass her cottage. “Please find my little girl!”, she shrills, she went missing hours ago and I’ve looked at the paths to the berry bushes, but I couldn’t find her.

Test Scout Vs girl’s nature (6) (help include survivalist, loremouse?, hunter?)

(I’ve stolen this from the forums. The young girl has gone missing, hiding from an Owl, behind the bark of a tree. Night will soon fall.)

TWIST 1: The Owl attacks!

OBSTACLE 2: Deliever the mail to [Known town] Obtstacle 3. Let the patrol see badger tracks.

TWIST 2: The badger is heading for [Known town], what will the patrol do?

Player’s turn:: Suggest they either follow goals or try to do something about the badger, if they’re not into anything special. I doubt the 5 hours spot will last this long, but if so - go out with a bang!

Note: I tried non-fighty Obstacles, as this the main target is kids

COMMENTS and Suggestions most welcome!!

multiple posts coming

Mission I: A patrol too far (Winter mission)

GM: Let everyone start with nature tapped, and then assign 2x hungry and 1x tired, if four guardsmice tap another for the last mouse), we’ve said 3-4 players.

Right away: No! Don’t tell the players they are in a one-shot, try-it-out session while hobbling the group from the start! Don’t do it! The mice are in Lockhaven; they’ve rested, eaten, relaxed, and recovered; that’s the fact of Lockhaven–it is a safe haven. Don’t have any mice wth Taxed Nature, Condiions, or anything crippling like that. The game wll be just fine regardless. As this is a pre-made scenario, you can pre-gen the mice in the patrol with Nature 3–too easy.

Scene A: Outside it is snowing and getting colder (as night falls). Gwendolyn gets the senior mouse and tells her to gather the guardsmouse she can get and rescue a patrol that’s gone missing. Most important is the Pharmacist Mrs. Millicent Honeyleaf, one of a few who can brew medicine and her scientist-husband makes the scent-border elixir. A couple of friend/mentor/enemy will probably be mentioned in the patrol as well.

Sure, go for adding conacts from the relationships, but make it light-handed. Rather than filling the group of lost mice with multilpe conacts; instead, make plenty of overlapping contacts inside the pre-gen patrol. I’d say focs on the Friend and Enemy slots, don’t worry too much about other relationships. Make more than one pre-gen a Sprucetucker to more easily place the medicine brewer and scent border brewer into their relationships.

I’m going to rewrite the mission in my pattern; there was too much to comment bit-by-bit.

A Patrol Too Far (Autumn)
Introduce the session:
The patrols are returning to Lockhaven to overwinter; snow flurries have already begun during the weeks overwhich Guard members have been gathering at the citadel. One patrol was assigned to escort the notable science and medicine couple from Sprucetuck to Lockhaven as resident artisans; the knowledge they bring is indispensible for the Guard recruits in next Spring. The patrol has not arrivd; Gwendolyn assigns your patrol to seek them out in the wilderness between Sprucetuck and Lockhaven in order to bring them safely back. Although G hates to admit, she confides in the Patrol Leader that patrol has had serious inner conflict and might have gotten into infighting for authority.

Assign the Mission:
The patrol must leave Lockhaven in search of the late patrol and their escorted invitees; the criical task is to bring the invited guests; otherwise, they may need to recruit anew in Sprucetuck (i.e. invite a medicine and science mouse from Sprucetuck and escort to Lockhaven).

Prologue: By GM
In the past year, your patrol has been capable and stable; Gwendolyn has placed great trust in your ability to see things clearly and make good decisions. One by one, the team has displayed greate strengths and virtues. This Winter in Lockhaven might be a final celebration as several patrol mates are ready for promotion.

Obstacles: Wilderness : Weather
Twists: Mice : Everything Gets Worse

Wilderness Obstacle:
The patrol has taken all they can muster to carry from Lockhaven; sadly, the hares have turned down the request to serve as mounts for this mission. Goodbyes are offered, and well wishes received, then patrol mates take to the wilds under snow-white skies heavy with snow. The weather is Unseasonably Cold (pg 148 ). Daily frost begins on the edge of twilight until following the sunrise–sometimes frost remains longer into the morning.

As the key task for the patrol to suceed is that of finding the missing patrol and invitees, the primary skill is Scout. No one is trying to hide–quite the opposite–thus the obstacle is determined by the Wilderness symptoms of Autumn. This includes leaves slick with moisture, freezing mud, and hardened thorns, brambles, and other underbrush. In addition, the harsh conditions of late Autumn require critical Survivalist training.

Complex Obstacle: Scout Ob 7 (mouse-sized, location: ‘over there’, left this season, time) : Survivalist Vs Autumn 5
The patrol may need to split efforts to addres both tests. Allow the players to describe actions to gain bonus dice for inventive actions and proper use of gear. Do allow a mouse to roll Nature (forage) or Harvester to get improvised supplies or food; however, this gives +1D (per test) to Autumn for the additional effort being expended in trivialities. Encourage players to offer Harvester as a Helper instead. Nature cannot Help a skill. Risk of failed Nature (forage) or Harvester test(s) is Angry.

Roll Survivalist test first; if passed, move forward with narration of searching. Otherwise, impose the Tired Condition on the mouse who rolled, Hungry/Thirsty Condition on Helpers. Roll Scout test second; if passed, move forward to next obstacle. Otherwise, the patrol finds the missing mice are infighting and stuck in a bad spot without proper supplies or provisions (the Mice twist).

Weather Obstacle:
The patrol finds the missing mice–they are in bad conditions without proper supplies or provisions, but everyone has kept a positive outlook and tried to work hard in collaboration. Unfortunately the invited couple has taken ill during the dreary conditions of travel. The missing mice felt it was unsafe to continue onward, and fear their medicine and science mice are close to death. They are trying to work together, but lack the decision making or other skills to solve the mishap.

The patrol has arrived in time to help, but heavy weather of a late Autumn Storm (pg 148 ) has also arrived. Before the patrol can take further actions, they must decide whether to hunker down to protect everyone, seek help in the nearest settlement (probably Elmoss), or escort the entire group to Lockhaven. The decision will determine whether they face a simple obstacle, complex obstacle, or a Journey Conflict.

Simple Test:
If the patrol opts to seek help, they have a Pathfinder Ob 6 (nearby, overgrown, time, weather). If the test is passed, move forward to Player Turn. Otherwise, the patrol arrives in the nearby settlement (probably Elmoss) successfully, but they are Sick from exhuastion and harsh weather conditions. The snow is falling heavily before they arrive–returning tracks are totally lost. They now move into the Player Turn.

Complex Test:
If the patrol opts to hunker down, they face a struggle against a harsh storm. First, remind mice that the storm is a factor in tests, and they will have to test Health Ob 3 at the end of this obstacle risking the Sick Condition. The patrol will have to test Weather Watcher Vs Autumn 6 (Autumn, Storm) to determine how long the storm might last before they can again travel. Following this test, they will have to suggest what other tasks are most critical–allow only one to be a candidate for dice. If the Weather Watcher test is failed, the patrol faces worsening conditions (th Everythign Gets Worse twist). If it is passed, the patrol can determine when conditions will ease and make appropriate decisions about food rationing. The players must suggest which test is the most important and only get one additional dice roll. Some possible tests might include:
[li]Survivalist to improve camp conditions
[/li][li]Healer to stabilize the ill invited mice
[/li][li]Pathfinder to establish a route to safety (when the weather breaks)
[/li][li]Harvester to increase (or find) available rations

There may be others of lesser, but reasonable value such as:
[li]Administrator to establish a rationing plan and schedule for care of the sick or watching for predators
[/li][li]Archivist to record as much knowledge from the ill mice as possible
[/li][li]Loremouse to garner help from forest or prairie animals

Use the description of the task to determine Ob.

If the suggested test fails, the patrol and the rescued mice succeed at hunkering down through the storm, but gain the Angry Condition from tight quarters, light rations, and limited sleep. They are ready to proceed on a path to safety. However, at this time, begin the Player Turn.

Journey Conflict: (Personal Favorite)
This is more complex, but if the patrol opts to journey through the storm to rescue all the mice by bringing them to Lockhaven (or returning to Sprucetuck) they truly face risk of death for themselves and others.

With limited space, I’ll say, this Journey Conflict is a complex thing. I won’t explain each step. I’ll just say the goal of the Autumn Weather is, “I will wear them down; I will break their morale; I will make them lost; I will make them die.” No kiddie gloves–this is a widow-maker challenge.

At the end of the Conflict and Compormise, begin the Player Turn.

Mice Twist:
If the patrol has failed the Scout test, this is the Twist (kinda success w/ Twist). The missing mice have insufficient skills, suppplies, gear, and provisions to succeed on the escort mission. They have begun to fight about who should make decisions and dispute the order of commands. The invited medicine and science mice are frustrated, but reasonably healthy; however, they are also bound as prisoners to prevent them running off on their own to escape the indecision of the arguing mice.

The patrol faces an Argument Conflict (probably) to resolve the failures and get these mice rescued. I don’t know quite how I would play it, but I think the GM side (proposed by an upstart Patrol Guard w/ Guardmouse support) would be, “You’ve mistaken the path, and the weather, now we’re going to die unless you let me take the lead.” I’d be sure this mouse has fair skills for Pathfinder and Survivalist (which has been withheld due to upset feelings about leadership) just as evidence he could lead the way if given a chance. Let the players take side where they wish (which is why it might be a simple test of convincing missing Patrol Leader to agree). The player suggestions about how to resolve might really alter how things go. For example, they might leave the missing mice to their woes and only convince them to give over the invited medicine and science mice for safe escort.

Following the resolution of this Twist places them against the Weather Obstacle. Session moves forward from there including any results of the Mice Twist.

Everything Gets Worse Twist:
(pg 69). The Autumn Weather only gets worse when the Weather Watcher fails to recognize a bad situation. This twist is applied after the Weather Watcher test as the patrol chooses to hunker down. This maks a greater impact on the complex obstacle second test. Not only is weather and time a factor, but also the shift in weather alters the course of action. I would move to Cold Snap or Ice Storm (pg 154) which implies that Winter truly has begun for the mice. They don’t have a test from this, it is just something additional on top of everything else.

Player Turn:
The patrol has arrived at the Player Turn with one of three possible fates. They may have scrambled to a nearby settlement (probably Elmoss) and must now think of the second attempt to resuce missing mice; the PT should focus on Weather, Path, Survival, and supplies/provisions/gear. They may have hunkered down in the wild and now must complete the rescue attempt; the PT should emphasize Path and Survival–once they arrive at Lockhaven (which could be the opening Pathfinder) they can think of other tests. They may be suffering the compromise of a Journey Conflict (which is dynamically complex); probably this placed the patrol at Lockhaven (or Sprucetuck) but caused one or more deaths among the NC mice or PC mice. At the least, the patrol should have nearly all Conditions checked by that point.

Don’t tell players to recover. Allow it, but encourage them to consider other options to really enjoy the system and feel they’ve attempted multiple facets of the available choices. If this will be followed with Spring mission; just assume everyone recovers during Winter.

What the hell is this? Don’t do this! This is not within the rules anywhere and not in the spirit of the game mechanics. It will only serve to piss off the players and hobble the decision making. I’ll rewrite this is a way that in easy to use and makes good sense in the spirit of the game and in mechanics.

I’m going to rewrite this in my pattern. There was barely enough to say antyhing.

The Dam Overflow (Spring)
Introduce the session:
A, the springtime is lovely in the Territories; especially lovely is the load of mail and packages which need to be distributed and redistributed to and among the settlements. The patrol has a routine task of mail duties interrupted to manage overflow and run-off which threatens nearby towns as much as the downstream city of Mapleharbor. Privately, Gwendolyn confides in the youngest Guardmouse (of the patrol) that she misses the sweet wines of Shaleburrow so much; since, they were finished off so early in last Winter’s Yule celebration.

Assign the Mission:
The patrol has a season-long route moving mail between the towns of Thistledon, Shaleburow, Ivydale, Blackrock, and Ironwood; any mail outside those towns can be ignored. Also, find ways to be a benefit to the towns; since, you’ll be visiting multiple times in the season.

[this places some heavy expectations on the players to invent any additional purpose in the role; it also conceals the obstacles, so there is more which must be done in the Player Turn]

Prologue: by GM?
The past Winter was less aggressive than expected. This is a fantastic benefit! The patrol has rested, relaxed, recuperated, and feasted! In fact, with spare time and good will, the mice of Lockhaven have been writing loads of letters and making trinkets for sending gifts. The mail routes will be busy this season as everyone expects the Territories had a mild Winter as well.

Obstacles: Wilderness : Mice
Twists: [other] Mice : Animal

Wilderness Obstacle:
Players shoudl determine the path of their mail route and report to the GM where they head to first, second, so on. At the start, GM, allow the players to describe mail call in the first few towns. When you’ve heard a few good tales, introduce them to a leisurely walk toward Ivydale (from wherever they have been previously). As the approach the town, they already begin to feel the spongy, moist, soil underneath their paw-feet. Most of the patrol realizes before seeing that a local beaver pond has been in disrepair (probably due to the beavers being harrassed by a bear) and finally overflowed with the run-off and spring melt. The dam is spilling in a bad way, and the town of Ivydale is in distress. An Ivydaler rushes to welcome the patrol and reports the Loremice shamans who were trying to find the beaver family have become stranded at the beaver lodge in the middle of the pond. It’s fairly urgent, but Ivydalers can help the patrol to recover the beaver-whisperers.

However, aside from that, the town doesn’t think the pond is needed if there are no beavers to maintain the waters; they’re ready for the dam to be breached and the pond to drain.

Initially, the patrol must face the task of recovering the loremice who went in search of the beavers. Their boats didn’t survive the crossing too well–too bad. Ivydalers are not known as boatcrafters.

Simple Test: Boatcrafter Ob 5 (multiuse, patrol-group)
This isn’t a terrible plan, but finding a quality boatcrafter might be improbable. The alternate is: Survivalist 8 (jury-rig boat, large group). That is a workable alternate, but maybe no one feels bold enough. An alternate is: Health Ob 9 (as Survivalist, time)–keep in mind they will have to swim at about one Guard for each one Local Ivydaler; that’s a lot of trips, so time is a factor.

Passed, move forward to Mice Obstacle; otherwise, Guard members involved face the Condition of Tired (Boatcraft), Hungry/Thirsty and Tired (Survivalist), or Tired and Sick (Health). In other words, it would be a really key coice to have a talented Boatcrafter; other wise, the test gets much harder and the risk is greater. In the case of Beginner’s Luck, treat as Health test for Conditions.

Alternate Result:
A GM may consider using the [other] Mice Twist instead of Success w/ Conditions. It is described below.

Mice Obstacle:
As the patrol deals with the task(s) of recovering stranded mice, the town starts to debate the next best course of action. Some local Ivydalers want to rebuild lakesde cottages and shoppettes. Other local Ivydalers want to completely breach the dam and allow the pond to drain. Some visiting Mapleharbor mice don’t like the sound of bursting the dam; since, that could flood Mapleharbor downstream; however, if it were controlled, the pond could be drained without serious danger to their town.

It is a complex situation. The patrol has no obligation to solve the debate nor take action, but they have a serious dispute getting started. Everyone will request their involvement to mediate.

The results depend on what the players agree to. They can look at the situation in many ways.

Simple Test:
If the patrol opts to repair the dam on behalf of the local shore-dwellers, they’ve got a seriously challenging test. This is a simple test: Scientist Ob 5 (engineering, beneficial) will be needed to repair the dam with proper engineering. An alternate is: Carpenter/Stonemason Ob 7 (as Scientist, incorrect skill), but this is not the correct skill to really solve the problem long-term; it will not last long despite how well the carpenter/stonemason performs the work. The challenge is herculean, and nearly impossible for even the whole town to succeed.

Complex Test:
If the patrol opts to find a new beaver family to occupy the pond (or at least a muskrat who can try to upkeep the dam). This choice requires a complex obstacle requiring Scout Vs Nature (beaver) 7 [or Vs Nature (muskrat) 6] in order to find an animal which is suitable followed by a Loremouse Vs Nature (beaver) 7 [or Vs Nature (muskrat) 6] in order to explain the available pond site and dam repair.

Speech Conflict:
If the patrol opts to join the argument on one or another side, they have some assistance from locals (or visitors) trying to sway public opinion. They enter the Speech Conflict on a side and face (only) one other side of the debate (the third idea can serve as a Maneuver or Feint narration). This is a speech to get a large sway in the town and garner support to get work accomplished. Once the Conflict is complete, include the work to be done in the Compromise. I’d say, narrate the work being done, but a GM could also require PT checks be spent in pursuit ofthe result with hefty benefits from locals. The Compromise will determine much of how this turns out. Keep in mind that only one party is fully served, and two sides are mostly underserved. If the patrol argues for the shore-dwellers, the dame must be repaired; if they argue for the Mapleharbor mice, the pond might get drained, but it still has to be done very carefully to avoid overflooding the town downstream. Someone gets treated to less than they desire to have.

[other] Mice Twist:
While the patrol tries to deal with stranded loremice at the beaver lodge, a local Ivydaler (or more) pleads for individual assistance in getting her loved-ones from a flooded town/neighborhood. This is probably a distraction from the other mice, so she is going to get pushy and aggressive–including a bit of propaganda about what the Guard won’t do to help. Initially, this might be a simple Persuader Vs Will test, but the players might describe something that fits a Persuader Vs Persuader (such as convincing her to simmer down until they’ve rescued mice in the open pond). Also, she is willing to drive into a Negotiation Conflict to get service from the patrol in exchange for something she can offer–but they have to stop what they are doing to serve her immediately. The patrol may wish to ignore this distraction, but it risks leaving the stranded loremice in dangerous circumstances just as much as leaving her loved-ones in dangerous circumstances. The primary difference is that she has a loud mouth and plenty of listeners.

Animal Twist:
When the patrol get to work at repairing the dam, draining the pond, or even destroying the pond, there is likely failure. In the midst of such challenges, the local bullfrog will happily attempt to make a meal of a patrol mouse. Now, the impulse might be to escalate to Fight Animal Conflict; however, the frog needs a quick, safe meal. If it cannot grb and eat the mouse in one attempt, it will not stick around to get poked, stabbed, hit, burned, beaten, shaken, or anything else–FROGS ARE NOT FIGHTERS! So, I would suggest the following:

Simple Test:
Nature (hiding, escaping) Vs Nature (bullfrog) 5 will do the trick. Explain the frog has been watching, and the mice have seen it; it isn’t trying to hide from them. It has been watching for the best target to grab and swallow before leaping into the pond. The mice are trying to be wary, but they have work to do, so if it tries nothing, why bother it? The bullfrog will attempt to strike the lowest Nature score in the group (smaller mouse in case of tie). Basically, it wants the easiest meal.

If the mouse targeted passes, the frog makes the attempt, it fails or fails to secure the meal, and the patrol is totally going to chase it off without further patience. There will be no more tests regarding the frog at this time. However, if the mouse fails, the frog gains a short term success. I’d give Success w/ Condition to the patrol mate. They are grabbed, they are swallowed (while dropping anythign in their hands), an the frog leaps into the pond; however, they are not dead. Thus, they fight, the get vomitted up, and they swim to safety with a few kicks to the frog’s face. They are left Tired and/or Angry (depending on margin of failure), but they have succeeded in escaping from the frog’s attack.

The case against Fight Animal:
The frog is not a dragon! It is not an Ogre! It is not a goblin! The frog is like most predators in that they want a good, easy opportunity. Any meal which must be won through hard effort had better be a damn good meal and a sure thing. Any degree of pain or suffering to secure a meal is very likely to remove or reduce the desire to eat. That is part of the fight or flight response. Once the team starts to fight the frog, it will want to get away quickly and protect itself in the best way: dive underwater and stay there until the threat is passed.

Don’t try to make the frog into a dragon/ogre/goblin. It may be larger than the mice, but it is still fragile. It is not a fighter; any pain will send it away quickly.

Player Turn:
The GM can initiate the Player Turn at any time. During the course of this mission, the patrol is in and out of safe settlements so quickly. The mail route is routine with limited worry–for this mission. A GM could start the PT following the town speech, following the frog attack, whenever, etc. The PT should focus on non-Guard tasks as well as mail route tasks. They might easily have promises to keep from the debate, or feel inclined to follow-thru on other suggestions which were offered as solutions. One such might be having a muskrat come assist taking down the dam and beaver lodge. Another might be barter in Shaleburrow to supply Lockhaven with more sweet wine during next Winter.

[this is also where players may need to invent events going on in which to create purpose and engaging scenes]

Rewriting my in pattern to complete the advice section.

Special Summer Deliveries (Summer)
Introduce the session:
The patrol did a good job in Spring running the local mail circle; however, there are special packas which need to go farther afield. G trusts the patrol with anon-routine courier task taking treaties and gifts to Lillygrove where a bt of additional political friendship is needed. The patrol finds it hard to resist a trip so far into the Southeast hinterland; mice from Lillygrove are much different.

Assign the mission:
The patrol must successfully carry the non-routine mail to Lillygrove for approval from a local magistrate; in doing so, they must also repair the bridge at [hamlet] South of Blackrock where wild-mice have burned it last season.

[partly I’m inventing an event which was not mentioned in your sample, but also, it gives a curious circumstance: who are the wild-mice and why are they burning bridges]

Prologue: by GM?
The patrol has been together for many seasons, and this is a special case of travel to repair bridges both along the path as well as between mouse communities. During other seasons, this patrol has proven a strong voice of reason in mediating disputes and a strong hand of action in getting things done.

Obstacles: Animal : Wilderness
Twists: Mice : [other] Animal (I don’t like this; this could very easily be a Weather Twist instead and fit better; I’ll show you how.)

Animal Obstacle:
The patrol begins the trek with high spirits and hopeful hearts. The mail route from Spring has been almost relaxing. The tasks to accomplish have left little strain, so the patrol is glad to be out on the trail for a longer distance. Unfortunately, they are being watched. The patrol don’t realize they have passed into sight of a voracious owl who hunts with wicked accuracy. They need to be careful, but they aren’t even aware they are being hunted.

Simple Test: Nature (hiding) Vs Nature (great horned owl) 8
Like the bullfrog in Spring, this animal will target the mouse with lowest Nature (smallest mouse in case of tie); it wants an easy meal. However, there is a different case here in the fact that just being grabbed nearly always means death. I wouldn’t deal out death without a Conflict. Thus, the first step is about the gap between Nature (hiding) and Nature (great horned owl).

Here is how it works: If the mouse passes the test outright, the patrol realizes they are being hunted long prior to an attack; they react with caution and slip into thick underbrush. In the thick cover, they find the missing child and safely treat for hunger/thirst and fatigue–she will be fine and leads them to her home in the wild-mice community. In contrast, if the mouse fails, the margin of failure determines the result–if the margin of failure is quite high (e.g. failed by 4-8 gap), then they are very much a target of the owl and realize the paramount jeopardy–they must run away from this area as fast as possible and find safety; in case the players refuse to run away, create a forced Chase Conflict as they try to get into a safe palce to counter the owl’s hunting. (we’ll return to this later). In the case of a moderate margin of failure (e.g. 1-4 gap), they realize they are being hunted, and face the Mice Twist; as they rush to safety, they encounter the distraught mother from a wild-mice community who (though she distrusts the cloakmice) pleads for help finding her daughter. See below for more details.

Chase Conflict:
I’m not in favor of mice turning against owls, but the players might really want it. The Natural Order dictates the mice cannot outright kill the owl, but they can cause severe injury which might later cause its death or prepare another hunt to kill once they have a band of skill hunters or a science plan of some type. So, they may permit the chase with a goal of causing injury to the opponent by running through thorns, stones, trees, whatever. It is still a hard challenge–a widow-maker challenge. They risk a PC death in this attempt, and should be well aware of the risk–a risk that is not placed upon the owl for having chased.

Wilderness Obstacle:
The realization of being hunted by an owl pushes the patrol away from known paths to avoid any open country. They might also have the wild-mice community included in this obstacle. They’ve got to fix the bridge at [hamlet] South of Blackrock before they make the whole trek into Lillygrove; otherwise, they’ve missed a key task in the mission. The wilderness is a serious obstacle for this bridge over a dry creekbed; there are yearly floods which cause erosion under the bridge foundation.

Complex Test:
First, the mice have to face the facts about the location: it is placed in a terrible spot! They’ll need to consider moving the bridge which might not be so close to the [hamlet] afterall. Second, they’ve got to build a new bridge which might (hopefully) last longer than a year–the last bridge was wooden and burned by wild-mice.

Pathfinder Ob 4 (blaze a new trail) will do for moving the location. In case of failed dice, give Success w/ Condition Angry when the locals force the patrol to place it close to the [hamlet] despite how unwise their placement happens to be. So, yes, they’ve moved the location, but not to a wise location.

Carpenter/Stonemason Ob 6 (moonshot) will do, but won’t really solve the long-term problem; this sort of bridge will probably only last about a year or so. Failure gives Success w/ Tired and Injured (maybe Hungry/Thirsty and Tired) as they spend weeks trying to set a foundation and get the arched bridge complete. An alternate is Scientist Ob 4 (engineer, beneficial) which is a better choice for long-term success against the erosion and other factors; however, carpenter and stonemason will be required Helper dice–without that Help it will only produce a design, not a bridge!

In this complex situation, they risk largely Conditions, no need to have an Animal Twist. However, a Weather Twist causing issues with the bridge or other events in the future might work. More on this later.

Mice Twist:
There are wild-mice who still live in the old ways which subsist on the wild hoard of food and things. These mice can speak with settled mice, and often have fiery disagreements. Some live in the outskirts of towns and hamlets, but most live wild and free in the small communities lead by (varied) patriarchal or matriachal leadership. There are some customs which resemble the lives of settled mice. These mice tend to distrust cloakmice as the symbol of settlement overtaking the wilderness. Not all, but many, wild-mice refuse to accept help from those outside their community. Disputes are blood-feuds; kinship is clannish.

If the patrol can realize how valuable it would be to rescue the child of a wild-mouse, this might help them understand why the bridge was burned in Spring, and how to prevent it being burned again. This is a complex situation.

Complex Test:
Scout Vs Nature (hiding) 5 is a fairly good representation of the need to track the wild-mouse-child. If passed, the patrol find the child suffering from hunger/thrist and fatigue; they manage the issues and get her back to wild-mouse-mother. More to follow. If the test is failed, offer Success w/ Condition Tired as the patrol refuse to give up throughout the night (possibly multiple nights) as they search frantically for the wild-mouse-child.

Persuader Vs Will 3 is a fairly good representation of talking with the wild-mouse-mother about how to find trust between the cloakmice and the wild-mice (of her clan only). Pass indicates she will vouch for them in her clan and they can begin to create new bridges of trust–possibly asking any question the GM is willing to answer (remember, Fun Once, Let’s Not Do It Again means that they get all the answers from the Persuader dice roll and don’t have to keep rolling dice for more info–in fact, they should not roll again for more info).

[other] Animal Twist:
The original plan had a badger approaching a known town (such as Lillygrove) if the patrol failed at delivering the mail–probably from a failed Pathfinder test. I dropped that obstacle, so this doesn’t quite fit. Also, they’ve already faced the owl in this session. Similar to owl, the badger cannot be killed by a patrol through Fight Animal Conflict. So, this is a fairly similar Animal situation which is another reason I don’t think it fits.

I suggest Weather Twist:
The bridge building should be a challenge already, but the really key detail is drawing up plans which can succeed. Strangely, after the plans are drawn up, Summer unleashes a frightening thunderstorm that delays the start date for the bridge as water rushes through the build site in a flash flood. A new drawing will be required following new erosion. Since the patrol already rolled a Carpenter, Stonemason, or Scientist to arrive at this Twist, the test is a bit different. There are a number of new issues coming up after the flash flood from the thunderstorm. Laborers are claiming they haven’t been paid, equipment is missing, supplies and provisions are washed away too. The need is for a foreman to arise who can settle the issues and get the project back on track. Allow players to discuss and suggest plans. Only one task will be tested, but others can be Helpers. Here are some suggestions which might be considered:
[li]Adminstrator to set the claims to rest with new promises/contracts, ordering new supplies and provisions, and sending search parties to recover/forage washed away equipment
[/li][li]Archivist to prove payments were made and count the losses of equipment, supplies, and provisions
[/li][li]Brewer to get everyone to shut up and enjoy a good beer–all problems either go away or get exponentially worse after a few good brewskies
[/li][li]Persuader or Deceiver to get laborers back to work, ignore/avoid debts, and restore faith in the work of the Guard
[/li][li]Haggler to renegotiate contracts, arrange resupply or requip purchases, and alleviate burdens

Of course a good ieda might also be smiply: Weather Watcher to predict when the next work-stopping/work-ruining thunderstorm will come (get the work done before then and get moving! Ha!)

Player Turn:
Following the obstacles, begin the PT while the patrol is in the [hamlet] South of Blackrock. The PT should focus on finishing the delivery of mail to Lillygrove. Alternately, they might see a reason to break open the gift as a goodwill offering to the wild-mice nearby. Also, players will have to be inventive about how to show Guard purpose and honor in the circumstances.

more likely, the group is going to need 4 hours for one mission. Also, if this is a con-game try-it-out, then you probably have to spend time explaining rules to a group that is unaccustomed to Mouse Guard.

Don’t try to go out with a BANG like that. The players are probably having trouble figuring out why they have to care so much about everything. You need to focus on the BIGs of the PC mice. This is made a lot easier when you are writing pre-gen mice to fit the mission.

The key to Mouse Guard is not the BANG. It is the individual decisions and consequences. Focus on the BIGs, focus obstacle on the BIGs. The BIGs are the focus of the rewards. The BIGs are the shorthand answer to ‘Who Am I?’ when a player is reading the character sheet.

The BANG of a large animal which cannot be killed is a morale killer and a distraction from the purpose of playing this game.

Sweet Jesus, thank you very much, Kevin! Not only are the missions you propose really great, but I’ve learned about complex tests and got reminded that the Obstacle-count is in the skill-descriptions.

I’ll thourougly enjoy playing your proposed missions, but I think I need to scale everything down not the least for myself. I’ll read properly through after sleep & work, maybe I’ll glean even more insight, not the least a better understanding about the Obstacles (weather/wilderness/mice/predator). I really look forward to reading all this, as I think this is what I need to grasp the game.

Thank you, again, and I’ll promise to tell wether the convention-game(s) avoided a disaster. (Two weeks from now.)

I agree on the estimate of one mission per 5 hour spot. When I’ve played or game mastered at conventions here in Sweden it’s usually 5 or 6 hour spots and some groups have been through a mission in less than 5 hours but the ones needing some extra explanation and the ones actually role playing take fill their five hour spot. Both as a player and GM I definitely prefer finishing a little early than having to rush it at the end or never getting to finish. I’ve been in the situation, as a player, that the scenario makers didn’t count on us role playing so much and also evolving relations (PC - PC and PC - NPC) that the time was up after only half the scenario. That was painful since we really enjoyed the scenario. Luckily for us we got the opportunity to finish it outside convention time but that had it’s own drawbacks. Also if I compare with when we played our campaigns on weekdays we usually got through the GM phase or the Players phase in one evening and one evening never was more than 3 hours actual play after some food and talk. I would always count on 4-5 h for a mission.

When I arranged and game mastered Mouse Guard SPQM I also had a lot of ideas. What I did was that I sketched a longer story of 7 (if I remember correctly) missions and then I ran mission one on GothCon, mission two on LinCon the same year, mission three on GothCon the next year and mission four on LinCon the same year and so on. One benefit from that was that a few returning groups actually got to follow the story another one was that I got a bigger outlet for my creativity and enjoyed it more myself (I like longer story arcs). What I also did was that when I had GM:ed mission one I talked with the other GMs who ran it and took the happenings and outcomes and merged it into the story and slightly changed my story arc and mission two with the great ideas and role playing (You never come up with all the good ideas yourself). I repeated that for every mission and enjoyed it much and some returning players also noticed “We did that” or “I did that” in the background story for the coming missions. To make it easier with the background story I published it on my blog so the players could read it before the actual convention and before the actual gaming spot on the convention (keep it short enough though). Maybe that could be something for you too?

I did run a convention game once with an unkillable monster. A huge snapping turtle wanted to lay her eggs in the sandy town square at Grasslake. I straight up told the players that the turtle was invulnerable to mouse weapons. They decided to split their efforts. Half worked to evacuate the town, the other half worked to encourage the turtle to move along.

It was a sort of Mouse Guard Godzilla movie. I did not tell the players that they had to remove the turtle, they came up with that goal on their own. If I hadn’t told them the turtle is invulnerable, do not bother attacking it, I think they would have thought “dragon” instead of “Godzilla” and tried combat. I really did not want a TPK as the opening of the game.

I found that Mouse Guard is a different mindset to what many players are used to. Being smaller and weaker than almost everything in the world, including the weather is tough to get used to at first. This is a game where conflict and combat are not always (or even often) synonymous.

In the event the players evacuating the town had to deal with Mouse obstacles, there is always someone who refuses to move, argues against them at every turn, etc.

The get the monster to move crew came up with the plan of building a large fire under the turtle’s tail to persuade it that this was not a suitable nesting/egg laying site. The turtle snapped at anything that came in range of her front, but pretty much ignored mice to her rear. At least until the fire was lit. Then chaos broke loose!

Much of the town ended up destroyed, and I would have incorporated teh rebuilding into an on going campaign as a source of story seeds.

[sidenote] I’ve actually recently took part in running two games (with multiple groups) with “unkillable” opposition (armies invading). For youngsters between 11-18ish. Of about 20 players one-and-a-half character survived…

I do agree with the idea that some would take offence, and that’s not neccesarily the best for a tournament game.

I am reading as much as possible to learn more :). In some of the examples above, I see obstacles like Scout 7, survivalist 8, health 9. An obstacle test means you have to roll that number for success, right? My pc’s usually have scout, survivalist and health of 3 or 4, at most 5. They might have a wise that can help and we usually only play with 2 or 3 people so there is usually only 1 or 2 helping dice. So there is almost no chance they could roll those obstacle numbers. How is it that other people are? Do most people play with a large group and so have a lot of helping dice? Should I adjust what should be a 7, 8 or 9 down to 3-6, since we play with only a couple of people?

And I’ve be been wondering, if you are rolling an ability, can you only help yourself with ONE other wise, skill or ability? Or can you help with as many as make sense?


You can help one of your own skills with a wise but only one. The rest has to come from a tool or other beings.

I don’t adjust resistance that’s static like seasons. Seasons are hard no matter if you’re one or many. Either my players’ characters try and might succeed or succeed with a cost or they seek help from a tool or other mice or other beings or they try too work around the problem.

Sometimes in reality you have a problem you can’t solve or that is very risky. In those cases the challenge can be too find another way to do the same thing in an easier way or work around the problem so you don’t have to face that risky problem.

This a thing I do in all RPGs, not only MG. It would feel weird if X were harder for the rest of the world than for the characters. If the characters should be able to do stuff other beings in the same world can’t do. The characters should be superhuman, supermice or super-X.

Nature is there for those moments a mouse wants to succeed at the impossible. Otherwise they typically succeed with a cost. Being in the guard is exhausting, dangerous work. That’s why I make sure never to describe failed rolls in terms of mouse failure. It’s always success, success with a condition, or success interrupted by a twist. And don’t elide it. Don’t make a successful roll awesome and success with a condition feel like a GM reprieve from a player failure. Success is success and it always deserves attention.

i really can’t stress this point enough.

That high Ob is not hard to adjust. Here are some ideas:

Scout Ob 7 ?! how about Scout Ob 5 (big, location: roughly known, this season, time) and this can be fairly simple by changing the narrative a little. So, instead of the patrol and escorted mice, GM can say, ‘they’ve got loads of stuff, so the Sprucetuck mice arranged for a cart to be pulled by a wild turkey; also, they can’t move too fast with the wheels of the cart over slushy, frosty ground, so another Guard patrol recently reported their approximate last known location.’ That allows the GM to reduce the Ob by altering the scene.

Survivalist Ob 8 ?! how about Survivalist Ob 7 (jury-rig boat, patrol sized group) and this can be fairly easy to say, “only one Guard can guide the boat to ensure there is room for the few loremice who need to be rescued.” Now, that’s also a case in which the really important skill in crafting a waterborne vessel is to have Boatcrafter, but the Survivalist skill could manage a back-up choice.

Health Ob 9 ?! how about telling the patrol that if no Guard mouse has Boatcrafter, or possibly Survivalist as a back-up, the option of swimming the pond to recover the loremice is a possible choice, but it is a very hard thing to do. To avoid a huge Ob, perhaps choose to test Health Vs Season and allow the pond to act as a symptom of the wilderness which can use the Season rating to test Vs. I think the gamble in this case is that the Season might roll cowards and this test won’t feel difficult.


Health Ob 9 ?! this isn’t like Survivalist and making an emergency boat. Instead, it might be more like Pathfinder Ob 5 (nearby, blazing a new trail) which reflects the swim across the pond and back. You could still include Time as a factor for Ob 6. This will feel less challenging than the Survivalist, so a foreshadow to make this stand apart is that coward dice lead to Success w/ Condition: Sick while the Survivalist would have been Success w/ Condition: Tired. That’s not a huge concession, but maybe a choice to distinguish the challenge of using different skills.

Otherwise, the other missions also have some high Ob tests listed which might be subject to a change of narrative to reduce the Ob. That’s a good tool for the GM to make choices about the challenge level against the patrol. Another help can be including Helper dice from NPC mice if appropriate.