(Mouse Guard) Secrets of the North: Dunedain Rangers

That’s cool. How about Hunting Shadow Creatures or Hunting Minions of the Enemy or Hunting the Shadow Tainted? This is set in the Fourth Age so there’s not a clear and present ‘Enemy’ like Sauron though, yet…

I’m the least sure about Nature Lore (this would be a subset under Lore which is this games version of LoreMouse). An alternative might be “Imposing” since the noble characters in the books seem to be able to intimidate others.

This might also tie better into the high Nature hermit side.

(Highly cribbed from the Dwarf Guard hack http://www.burningwheel.org/forum/showthread.php?t=6930)


A hack for Mouse Guard, set with the Rangers of the North in the Fourth Age of Middle Earth.


You are the Dunedain Rangers, sworn defenders of the Realms and personal envoys of King Elessar. Rangers keep the the civilized areas in Arnor safe from Shadow creatures and other dangers. They keep these missions quite for the benefit of the common men and hobbits who do not really want to know what lurks in the dark. They also have to deal with the fact that most local leadership are family-based, insular, and suspicious of them.


Hunting down Shadow creatures (Orcs, etc) which have moved into the wild lands after the fall of the Dark Lord. Exploring old settlements to determine if these are accessible for reclamation. Clearing and scouting paths between settlements. Rescuing, delivering important mail and people and assisting trade caravans. And anything else their King or Captain tells them to do.


As per Mouse Guard with the “weapon” mods being applied to special other gear also.


Rangers are from Gondor or from Arnor.


There is not as much danger in the seasons. Bad weather may still delay or even harm the Rangers but the Seasons are not the biggest danger.


Lots of miscellaneous monsters, but the most important are Orcs. Trolls, Wolves, Spiders, and other Shadow creatures also pose a danger to the Rangers and to the people they are sworn to protect.

Orc Nature is Foul, Angry, Destructive, Fighting.

Troll Nature is Tough, Big, Strong, Fast Recovery.

Wolf Nature is Sensitive Ears and Nose, Pack Hunter, Claw&Bite, Stealthy

Spider Nature is Patient, Poison Bite, Webbing, Alien


Skill have stayed mostly the same, including the 24 skill limit with the following changes.

Apiarist is called Herdsman, Insectrist is called Animal Trainer, Loremouse is Lore (Access limited to types based on personal background), and Scientist is called Alchemy.

There are new skills; Riding, Augury.


Obviously, the Wises need to be modified. I’m working on that soon.


Obviously, some Traits need to be modified and a few more added. I’m working on that soon.


not sure what to correlate this with since colored cloaks seem out of place. Any suggestions?


There are five ranks, Tenderpaw is replaced by Recruit, and Guardsmouse is replaced by Scout. Patrol Guard is replaced by Ranger, Patrol Leader is replaced by Senior, Patrol Captain is replace by Captain.


The Ranger Nature is Sneaking, Observing, Hunting Shadow Creatures, and Imposing.

Everyone’s nature begins at 2, modified by the following questions (limitations coming later). Minimum 1, Maximum 6.

Have you killed a Shadow Creature? If yes +1 Nature.
Have you survived something in the Wild that could have killed you? If yes +1 Nature.
Can you trace your lineage back to the Second Age? If yes, +1 Nature.
Do you want to be alone? If yes +1 Nature.
Do you have a home in a city? If yes -1 Nature.
Are you married? If yes, -1 Nature.
Do you stay in touch with your friends and family? If yes, -1 Nature.

If you reach 7 Nature you are too much a loner for the Rangers. After the mission you go off by yourself and become a hermit or you fall to a tragic doom (if you take this option you may carry any Fate or Persona forward to your new character).

If you reach 0 Nature you are too civilized for the Rangers. After the mission, you settle into a position/pension in Gondor, get married, have fat babies and forget about the dark, wet, cold and danger of your previous life or you leave right now abandoning your team (if you take this option you may carry any Fate or Persona forward to your new character).

BIRTHPLACES (short write-up and Traits coming later):

Minas Tirith
Morthond Vale
Ringló Vale

Also looking for places in the North characters can come from. I may not use all of these but its cool to think about it.


is slightly modified, replace the second question with the following:
Are your parents nobility, stewards, master craftsmen, or merchants?
Yes: +1 Resources

Stays the same.


Same basic conditions with the following modifications. You may take a number of Injured Conditions until you lose all dice in either Nature, Will or Health. When this happens you are Dying and may not continue in the mission without a Healer passing a Ob 4 test each success above the obstacle reduces the die penalty by one down to a minimum of -1D (the Ranger must remain Injured since you eliminate the Dying condition before you can address the Injured condition). A later Health or Healer test may alleviate this Injured condition as per the book rules. With a failed test you reduce Will and Health by one but you are stabilized and recover to the lower values. You should make sure to Heal your compatriots so that this does not happen to anyone.

Fur Color is LINEAGE

Damn. Luke beat me to it. I was going to suggest signet rings (or insignia in general) to replace cloak.

I would say Patrol Leader = Captain, and Patrol Captain = Lord or King. I say this because there are many “captains of men” (as the books have written) but the Patrol Captain would be Elessar, no?

@luke. That’s awesome! Do the other parts look ok so far?

@rafe. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to think about it. I was putting Ellesar in the ‘matriach’ role. I think you’re right though the titles could be improved. Anyone else have a suggestion?

Thanks to everyone for the help. Since I’m still new to all this its been slow going but very rewarding. B-)

Maybe Patrol Leader = Captain, and Patrol Captain = Lord Captain or Senior Captain?.

I would argue there is no need for the matriarch role since you have Elessar in Gondor. In that case, a Patrol Captain could be a Lord or Lady, since that role (in Mouse Guard) is more of an administrative role (from what I remember reading). That would be a good opening for a Lord or Lady, as they have other concerns themselves and, additionally, are responsible to the King (Elessar), which allows for the flow of chain of command, so to speak.

So… recruit, scout, ranger, captain, lord/lady… the king. Thoughts?

Sorry if I seem a little overzealous or such. I’m just really into your project, S&S and would love to see it work and use it myself. :slight_smile:

Gwendolyn=Elessar. Yes.


Wow these are some great ideas!
Thanks for posting this.

This is a great example I can show the players who don’t dig the “mice with swords” thing - and maybe get them to play.

(Sorry I don’t have anything substantial to contribute).

Thanks for the encouragement. It’s been interesting since until recently I’d not run any BW product. Now, I have a couple of sessions of MG under my belt (with and without Ranger mods). I feel much more confident I’ll be able to pull this off at GenCon. :o

You won’t make it to GenCon unless you post those APs. . .

taps a bat against his palm as a subtle hint


Okay, I’ve given this some thought and consulted with my muse, Msr Sorensen. This is a near-perfect hack except for Nature. As it stands now, it’s twinky power fantasy. It’s about awesome hiding killing dudes who hide and kill. Why? Nature.

Nature in Mouse Guard is a force at odds with the duty that must be performed. As it stands now, Nature in this hack is perfectly in tune with the duty. This does not adequately represent the source material. Aragorn is not at peace with himself and his role. To put it in game terms: His Nature is one thing, his duty is another.

Therefore, I propose Nature’s descriptors for these Rangers be Grief, Tradition and Family.

Grief – the weight of the tide of time upon the immortal and long-lived
Tradition – the rituals, etiquette, mores and values of this most venerable culture
Family – the deep-seated instinct to build families, dynasties and lineages.

Note well that none of these are particularly useful to their duty. In fact, these qualities call these men home like a siren song. At home, they can mourn their grief, practice right and good traditions and tend to their families. In fact, this is what they fight for when they roam and range. That internal conflict will add depth and vulnerabilities to these hardened fighting men.


Very insightful. I would only add that descriptors in MG work best when they are active verbs (in the gerund form to get all technical): Escaping, Hiding, Climbing, etc. Otherwise the descriptors tend get a little too squishy.

Grief is easy. It becomes Grieving. It has to be tied to the actual act of dealing with the tide of time.

Tradition and Family are more difficult. Absent more inspiration, gerund phrases might do the trick:

Respecting Tradition, Upholding (husbanding?) Family.

Wow, that’s a really good point, Luke! I’d never thought of Nature in MG that way.

However, I’m having a hard time picturing how one could tap Nature in a way that wouldn’t always be against their Nature. For instance, how does one tap Nature to grieve, regardless?

For example, in MG, while mouse Nature is contrary to their duties, they are still activities they can make use of; i.e., hiding, climbing, etc., are not stretches for them. It’s contrary to the Guard element of Mouse Guard, but not to the mice.

So how does one tap Nature (without it being against Nature) for Tradition, Family and Grief?

I think the 3 (and 3 is a perfect number, given Tolkien’s use of the conventions of numbers of power – 3, 7, 9, 13) aspects of Nature need to be an activity, but, as Luke said, also need to be activities that are not in keeping with the duties expected of a Dunedain Ranger.

Ruling could be one, perhaps? It isn’t in their nature (which is partly why Aragorn resisted for so long and why his attitude/persona shift occurred when he took up the crown).

Speaking the Truth could be another. Most Dunedain seem forthright and honest, though it may not serve them best, situation depending. (Aragorn gets a strip torn off him for using ‘Ugly Truth’ by telling Theoden to go to war, for instance.)

Seeking Knowledge could be the last. The Dunedain are the remnant of the Numenoreans, renowned scholars and men of such learning that they became decadent and arrogant as a result.

Just some ideas.

Forgive me Patrick if I find those a bit bland. They’re pretty typical RPG abilities.

How do you use Grief? Oh my. You use it for funeral rites. You use it to swear vengeance or enact revenge on your father’s murderer. You use it to forgive.

How do you use Tradition? To right fallen communities, to bring them from the path of the Shadow. To go before the king. To teach children, to impress foreigners, to be really conservative assholes. Why did Numenor fall? It broke with Tradition.

How do you use Family? To sire children, to convince your wife, to argue with your father, to put your upstart brother in his place.

Escaping, Climbing, Foraging and Hiding are obviously useful, but they are directly at odds with the expectation and needs of the Mouse Guard and the mouse communities. Obviously, the Tolkien stuff needs a slightly different premise, but it needs a strong one nonetheless.


Allegiance or Conformity for the first maybe. Fidelity for the second?

Nah. Those are all nouns. It’s not about what you are. It’s about what you do.

How about: Grieving, Traditional, and Familial?

(Not sure if that is what your looking for though - nouns, bah).

Greiving Upholding Tradition, and Upholding Family, to put them in gerund form.