My Fifth Custom Mission

Introduce the Session
During this session the group will be confined in a settlement. That can make it hard to feel as though time is passing quickly. It could easily be used for a brief mission or part of a larger mission to help them feel as though more of a season has passed.

In addition to that, this mission is fully inspired by skydut and the thread he posted offering mission ideas. I liked the concept behind the Great Hare Race so much I had to create a mission for it.

Prologue

Allow a patrol member to offer the prologue

Allow a patrol member to predict the weather, else, the weather is determined by the GM

Assign the Mission

The patrol arrives in Wolfpointe (or a settlement of the GM’s choosing) after a spring of spreading scent border resin. It is a good chance to rest as summer begins to heat up the climate.

Upon arrival at Wolfpointe, the local militia welcomes the Guard mice and escorts them to the chieftain for permission to reside in the village for a time. The chieftain will want to protect his town from a military presence; any mouse carrying a military or soldierly weapon (such as halberd, sword, axe, mace) will be required to turn over their weapon to the local force until the party is prepared to leave. He will offer them a dagger, staff, or sling if they protest against setting aside their defense.

The chieftain is glad the Guard is here to watch the annual rite of passage for Wolfpointe youths; the Great Hare Race is a tradition in their growth from pup to adult in the eyes of Wolfpoint culture. They are welcome to meet the mice and visit in the town, but should remember that deadly weapons cannot be allowed near the hares.

The hares are also excited by the upcoming race. Indeed, it is far more the best hare which wins than the best mouse rider. Each volunteers and accepts some training from their respective rider. The mice of Wolfpointe offer protection over the hutches in spring and food throughout the year to hares which live nearby.
The chieftain’s son is also participating this year. The age at which Wolfpointe mice may enter the race is 14 summers.

While speaking with the chieftain (as he will answer other questions about their customs), a frantic and distressed mouse rushes in and ignores all etiquette to announce that one of the hares is ill and possibly dead; it is the hare of the chieftain’s son. This individual does not know what happened, but is merely a worker under the main hare loremouse. When he came to fulfill his cleaning duties, he found the sick hare. He can tell little else to the patrol or chieftain.

The patrol now sees an opportunity to ingratiate themselves to the mice of Wolfpointe, particularly the chieftain and his family. This is a good task to become engaged in as a Guard mouse.

Alternately you could establish a mission wholly unrelated to the hares, but present this as an immediate problem to be faced before the mission can continue.

Write Goals

Allow the patrol to write Goals

Each patrol member should write a goal knowing they will spend much of the session involved in affairs of Wolfpointe (or whichever settlement they are presently). They may still exert a goal which leads the patrol elsewhere, but someone should become connected to the sick hare.

Review Beliefs and Instincts

Allow the patrol to review Beliefs and Instincts

If there is a need to change Belief or Instinct, review these before the session begins as a group.

Mission Obstacles

This mission focuses on animals and mice; however, the focus on mice is more prominent.

Animal Obstacle

The hare has been poisoned by another mouse in some way connected to the race. The patrol will need to first identify why the hare is ill, then they may identify the poison or cure. It presents only half of the problem. This hare is assigned to the chieftain’s son; the poisoner most likely did this deliberately to force him out of the race.

Mice Obstacle

When the patrol has at least determined that poison was used, they may move on to seeking out the poisoner. This is not an easy task. Firstly, an enemy of the patrol is in town and has a personal stake in the race. (If you can bring an enemy in that is great, but it might not fully make sense).

A childhood bully has a personal stake in the race; a young female mouse has already been promised by her father in marriage to an older mouse seeking a wife. Her father’s status as a merchant is important; she is best represented by the Peddler template, but bump the Cunning trait to level 2 for her. She hopes that by winning the race, she can later induce the hare to take her away from Wolfpointe and avoid an arranged marriage. She might find interest in the Guard, but many other avenues are open to her.

The hare loremouse has a personal stake in the race. He has arranged with the girl’s father to take her in marriage after her rite of passage. If she wins, it will look far better for him to marry such a young mouse of renown. It will also help ensure the father retains interest in the arrangement. He uses the Naturalist template with an added Hare-wise of 3-4 ranks.

The chieftain’s son has a personal stake in the race, but his stake is that of losing. He knows that he cannot easily win, but if he cannot race, another rite of passage must be designed. It is likely he could find an alternate better suited to his talents. He uses the Archivist template with the addition of Politics-wise of 2 ranks.

The patrol cannot possibly track all these mice, but one or two might give them a good head start on which is the poisoner of the hare. Each is willing to talk a bit, but has something to hide as well. If the patrol seems to question that which they wish to hide, at the very least make them test Persuader vs Will. In addition, they will need to use Circles or Scout to find the mice to speak with.

There is a village healer they might seek out in pursuit of more info about the poison, but this individual can say nothing of the poisoner.

Mission Twists

Failures should involve some twists if the patrol doesn’t suffer a few conditions as well.

Wilderness Twist

In the case of failing a Circles or Scout test related to the mice obstacle, this could easily become a chase in the open wilderness surrounding Wolfpointe. The mouse may not be guilty, but still want to escape questioning by the Guard. They might seek out a solitary location to wait for things to blow over.

In such a chase through the wilderness, ensure you give the local mouse some tools to use from the terrain. Include bramble tunnels, hidey-holes, hare dens, and other interesting terrain.

This is also a good chance to create a conflict using two teams. The local mouse acts as a team in the chase, and the wilderness terrain acts as a team in the chase. Both have somewhat different goals. The wilderness will act against both local mouse and patrol. Running two teams in this way takes a bit of added bookkeeping, but creates a dynamic scene.

Weather Twist

In the case of failure related to the hare illness, use a change in weather to make a change to the race schedule. Perhaps a summer thunderstorm tears through the stables and the hares must be relocated, illness and all. The heat of a drought could mean the hares don’t wish to expend such energy racing, and all present some signs of distress and illness.

Use the weather to create a twisted conflict which requires immediate action rather than a simple health test to handle the change of climate.

GM’s Turn
Introduce the First Scene

The mice are escorted to the stables and may approach the scene from a variety of angles. The hare is still alive right now, but it is ill. (as a frame of reference, consider this is not terribly unlike the sick triceratops scene from Jurassic Park). The mice could tackle the problem at hand in many ways.

Allow the patrol to discuss the problem together before requiring a roll; Healer, Loremouse, and Scientist are all appropriate skills as well as helper dice; Hunter, and Harvester might be appropriate helper dice

Use a skill vs Nature (Hare) 6 to establish how difficult it is to recognize the source of illness

You may wish to follow this up with scientist or loremouse to further investigate by creating a complex obstacle.

When the patrol has learned all they can from the stables, it is time to move forward. They cannot stop to take time for healing the beast just yet. The chieftain also wants answers right away: Should he announce in town that a hare was poisoned? Should he cancel or change the race schedule? Are other hares or any mice in danger of this illness or poison?

Introduce the Second Scene

The hare loremouse will stop to speak with the patrol about the food he has been providing and other basic care needs of the hares. He runs a good stable for the hares.

The chieftain’s son wants to see his hare and has several questions for the patrol: Will the hare die? What is the illness? Could he race in a few days?
He will openly reveal that other peers of his age group insult him and bully him. One young girl mouse is the worst of all, but several are culprits. Another bully is the enemy of the patrol member (if available to use).

The mice must decide who they wish to speak with in more detail. By now they should at least know that the illness was caused by a poison even if they do not know which poison, when it was ingested, or how toxic it might be.

The mice do not get to ask much of the loremouse nor chieftain’s son at this time. They will have to select a mouse to follow-up.

Allow the patrol to decide who is most suspect and should be questioned; generate a test using Scout or Circles to find that mouse for questioning

If you feel generous, they might be allowed to follow-up on a second mouse who might be suspect.

They might choose to initiate a conflict such as an argument or negotiation conflict to find more information about who is the culprit.

Fulfill the Mission

I purposefully selected the merchant’s daughter as the poisoner, but each GM might choose another mouse as the poisoner. Alternately, you could wait for a player to make an assumption such as, “I will perform a circles test to find the poisoner.” A successful test in such a case means who they find is, in fact, the poisoner; a failure means whatever you might like. Perhaps they find an innocent mouse and make wild accusations, maybe they find the poisoner, but their questioning leads them astray, or they find the poisoner willing to frame a scapegoat to stay safe.

Player’s Turn

When the players have had the chance to test in regards to the ill hare, then been allowed to test in regards to seeking the poisoner, the GM’s turn ends. They are in a safe haven. They might have even found the guilty mouse.

At this point they may use checks to turn more of the outcome for the settlement. They might choose from the ideas below:

• Recommend a sentence to the chieftain
• Search the guilty mouse’s property for evidence
• Suggest an alternate rite of passage
• Create a cure for the hare
• Practice a new skill or wise
• Discuss terms of service with hares

this was a fun mission to run for the group. Each was quickly drawn into the mystery of the ill hare.

One player has been really enjoying his science mouse. I made a sample mouse with a natural inclination toward science which he is using often. He is very pleased at how often he can aid the story with his science knowledge.

Strangely, he is also doing very well at bringing his mouse to life. Last night’s game he earned the Embodiment reward. I’ll describe a bit of what he did for that nomination.

Spencer is a young mouse (16), so he is close to the age of the Chieftain’s son, Josef. He used one check to speak with Josef about possibly marrying Alastair, the poisoner and the merchant’s daughter. He explained to Josef that though she was his greatest bully, the poisoner of his hare, and a fiercely independent mouse (who drew her dagger on the patrol three times while argueing with them), she could become a loving and loyal wife if he would show mercy and forgiveness. Josef’s inclination was to fight her to the death in defense of his honor and his hare’s life. Spencer was not successful using Persuader to sway the mind of Josef, yet Josef agreed to think on it further.

Spencer later used a check to speak with the Chieftain about offering mercy and forgiveness to Alastair (the poisoner) and possibly encouraging his son to take her in marriage. The chieftain was less inclined, but was willing to hear his arguement. [related note: we had ordered korean food as the session started; my fortune cokie was, “Once a mid has been stretched by an idea, it cannot assume its original form.” I decided this was the chieftain’s Belief.] Spencer posited that: “The errors of youth need not define one’s destiny.” Suddenly it seemed perfect for a full conflict.

It went well. Spencer called upon Mood as an added weapon for his arguement. I actually had the chieftain surrender to Spencer and assume a different outlook regarding Alastair (the poisoner) and agreed she could be forgiven and possibly he might encourage his son to marry her.

Everyone noticed I read his belief from the fortune cookie and got a laught from that.

It was a good session, but the group is sitll very success-oriented. One player mentioned that sometimes failure simply isn’t more fun. I’ll paraphrase his comments, ‘you might take a condition, or have a twist, but that means you have to spend checks to overcome a condition or fail to fulfill a goal while a twist takes over.’ He didn’t feel it was always worthwhile to fail tests.

Regardless of being success-oriented, your players must fail some rolls anyway and earn conditions or twists despite what they’d prefer.

Anyway, if you want to break the players of this habit, start playing hard on Beliefs and Goals. Create situations in which Beliefs and Goals are at odds with one another, and situations in which players have to choose who accomplishes their goals or which goals are accomplished.

One question, if they’re not failing enough tests are they advancing their abilities?

no one has advanced anything yet. Spencer is close to advancing his Will. That is a good thing for him; because it started low. So, he is making some progress there.

Several times the players are relying on Beginner’s Luck; they have yet to use these skills enough to fully learn the new skills.

Our Guardmouse began with Healer 5. She has made two successes without failing yet. Her belief is, “No mouse should ever die unnaturally.” It was created after I explained the story of making the sample character, “Scarlette was assigned to duties in Rustleaf during the Weasel War, but her hometown of Ferndale fell in the war; her parents were slain in the siege of Ferndale.”

I’ve been looking to nail down her Belief more often than the other two, “Study a task before attempting to tackle it,” and, “The youth should run the world, yet the old should guide them.” Their Beliefs have been harder to step on.

I’m planning to push three scenes during the autumn session to create more trouble. Also, I’m planning a conflict in which a group of bandits form a team while the wilderness also forms a team. That should put htem at their backs a bit too.

Five missions and no advancements? Ouch.

“Study a task before attempting to tackle it” is a good Instinct but a poor Belief. You should talk to that player about changing it.

“The youth should run the world…” Is a great Belief and very easy to challenge. Simply put the old, infirm and wise in charge and you have a challenge. You could go further and have settlements with disenfranchised, indentured or even enslaved youth.

After five missions, your game should focus on challenging the players’ BIGs. They should feel like they are the protagonists in a big story.
-L

that is good advice for BIGs. I think we’ll have to review that section of the book before we begin move forward next session. We’ll be adding a Tenderpaw to the group next week regardless. The player was really excited and kept in contact with me, but then was placed on extra duty (he is in the US Army) at the last moment. He wasn’t able to get with us during the previous weeks.

My title is probably misleading. My first and second custom missions (threads are around here somewhere) was a different patrol from about a year ago. It got pretty crazy with about 6 players each week. Still fun, but too many mice to allow each to shine and develop. My third custom mission with the island of Thrace was for another group of friends that I’m still trying to fully convert. This fourth and fifth custom mission have been the spring and summer sessions of a new patrol recently formed. (I do happen to have one player that has been a patrol member in each of these three groups.)

This current patrol is Adelaide, Scarlette, and Spencer. Our incoming player next session will be Tenderpaw to Adelaide.

One of the notes I made during last week’s reward at the conclusion was a reminder that the best way to ensure that you’ve acted on your belief is to use the belief in the narration. In the case of Brock, chieftain of Wolfpointe, I made his belief a part of his arguement goal against Spencer. Spencer’s argument goal is a good candidate for a belief instead of his current belief.

I like the advise to use an enslaved and disenfranchised youth. I’ll integrate that into my mission planning already underway for autumn session. I’m really looking forward to it being loads of difficult decisions for the group as they will be asked to escort a mixed group of criminals and legitimate settlers from Flintrust to Windselm. I hope it stomps on everyone’s beliefs.

Right. Beliefs are more about mouthing your views. As the GM endeavor to create situations in which the player must decide if he still cleaves to his Belief, if his Belief is more important than his Goal or if his Instinct will trump a Belief.

-L

tonight, two of our players were not able to make it. However, Adelaide’s and Spencer’s players were present. I did pull out my books to help them review BIGs.

In Adelaide’s case, the Belief (The youngfurs should run the world; the oldfurs should guide and protect them) is good, yet he forgets to be watchful for its use. I reminded him of the small scene in which he Scouted out his enemy in Wolfpointe thinking he had something to do with the poisoning of the hare. He didn’t poison the hare, but he was part of the race with hopes of being accepted in the town; his goal was to open his own bar or pub.

Adelaide’s enemy is a former Tenderpaw now dismissed from the Guard despite Adelaide’s recommendation. Something I remarked during our reflection tonight was, “Affleck (the enemy) is a youth without interest in running the world, he simply wants to run his own life. He has no mentor, no oldfur to guide and protect him. It was a direct opposition to Adelaide’s Belief, yet as his enemy, you didn’t look at how Adelaide might still want this youth interested in the future of all mice and still needed guidance and protection.” It was quite a moment of realization when he thought of the scene with that added perspective.

He did rewrite his Instinct (If you know how to do it, get it done yourself). I told him that was a bit vague, yet also a bit derailing. Did it mean that for any skill he had any training, he would push aside other volunteers doing it himself? That might too often make others feel useless. He changed his Instinct to something with a bit more trigger, more specfic application, and it really will help. The new Instinct for Adelaide is, “Always seek to avoid danger.” This will come up sometimes, but not for every test; it doesn’t interfere directly with other mice making tests of their skills.

Spencer had a fairly good Instinct, but he rewrote that, and it is far better now. The former: “Act before planning; build before planning.” Although we all understood it, it wasn’t getting great use. The new and improved, “When pressured for time, throw planning aside.” This makes his Instinct more specific without derailing any other mice actions. It also shows that Spencer does tend to plan carefully, but he will not freeze under pressure; he will toss aside the careful plans for decisive (sometimes risky) action.

Spencer’s Belief was woeful (Study a problem before attempting to tackle it) in its lack of statement, lack of action, and vague applicability. We talked about the conflict with Brock, chieftain of Wolfpointe. I hoped he would take up a Belief related to that arguement. However, his choice is a great illustration of what he wants Spencer to be. Spencer is a science mouse and an instructor. His new Belief, “Sometimes mice must be taught to solve their own problems; sometimes the Guard must solve problems for mice.”

It was unfortunate the entire group coudn’t meet tonight, but these two mice have much improved BIGs for having reviewed the chapter on the subject.