So last weekend I ran my first game of Mouseguard. I have had the box set since Christmas and have shied away from playing since I couldn’t find anyone to run the game for me. Instead I decided to have my first experience with any burning game be with me as GM. I think, ok I know I screwed up in a couple of places. Hopefully you guys can give me some feedback.
I got 2 friends to play with me, Dave and Phil. I decided to run “Find the Grain Peddler” from the book using the pre-generated characters. Dave looked at the 4 characters and couldn’t decide who he wanted to play. So he rolled a die and wound up as Kenzie the patrol leader. Phil arrived at the table and immediately said I want to be Saxon. Rock and Roll we’re ready to play. I had recently listed to Jennisodes episode 4 “Fluency Play” with Jason Godesky http://www.jennisodes.com/podcasts/fluency-play/. So I had gone online and printed out his thoughts on Mouseguard http://thefifthworldsg.blogspot.com/2009/05/pedagogy-of-playing-mouse-guard.html and the doc he linked to by Sean Nittner http://wildljduck.livejournal.com/64567.html . I didn’t follow it exactly but hit some of the points. We started with a warm up game of “Mouseball”. Then we did the introductions and home town descriptions and talked about their bits. I also told them I was starting them with 1 persona and 2 fate. Then I had Saxon tell me about his friend and I asked him to describe a time he helped his friend out. It was a description of a problem the mouse had that related to one of Saxon’s skills so I had him roll a skill challenge. I set the difficulty at Ob3 and and explained how one of his traits helped him and told him to add a die, then I said he could fork in a die from one of his wises. Then I told him his friend was helping and added another die and he beat the challenge. I pointed out that he had rolled 2 axes and said he could have spent an artha to add 2 more dice and if he kept rolling axes he would keep adding dice. Then I asked about his enemy and he described a scene where he intimidated his enemy. We did the same for Kenzie and did not use “Fight” or “DoW”, but I explained the cards and gave a general overview of how they work.
Gwendolyn gave them their mission and the 2 guard mice set off to find the Peddler. Kenzie said he was going to make the scout challenge to locate him. I forgot to tell him the consequences of failure. I not only allowed him to fork in a trait, but a wise and a related skill as well as a helping die from Saxon. This is one place I think I messed up. Can you fork more than one trait and one wise? Can non wise skills fork? Can a patrol-mate give you more than one helping die? Anyway he beat this handily and they found the peddler before he got eaten by the snake. They started roleplaying with the peddler and it turned into an interrogation and I had them roll a vs intimidate. I probably should have used DoW here but I didn’t. I also forgot to tell them the consequences of failure again, in fact I never did that the whole game session. This time the snakes ruled their dice and even spending a fate it failed. So I added a twist. I explained they were too far from town to get there tonight so they made camp. The peddler walked away from the fire to make water and they heard him squeal. The two guards came running and found him struggling in the snakes mouth. I asked them their intent and they said they wanted to save the peddler from the snake. I said the snake wants to drive you off so it can eat it’s dinner. I chose a versus animal test rather than fight and Saxon stood up. Once again I allowed them to fork in more than I should have, they spent a fate and still no help. The snake slapped them aside with it’s tail and slithered off with her prize. I gave Saxon the condition “injured” and Kenzie got “Tired”. Phil said yeah Saxon has bruised ribs he got bounced pretty hard by the snake. I said upon returning to the camp they find the map in the grain cart and the GM’s turn is over. The players argued a little about where to camp. Kenzie said he was tired and just wanted to rest here but Saxon wanted to push on. I was about to call for a DoW when they compromised. The patrol decided to move away from this location and set up camp a little further away so the snake didn’t decide to come back for dessert. Neither of them had earned any checks so they each only had their one free action. They said they wanted to spend them recovering from their conditions. On the free player moves do they still have to roll? Well I made them do so. Kenzie was able to eat some grain and get enough rest to recover from his condition but Saxon failed his health test. I didn’t know what to do here and I made failure boring. I know, bad Marco, no GM artha for you. What should I do when a player fails a recovery roll? I have been thinking about it and had some thoughts. Change the condition to a lesser one like angry or tired. Add a twist? It seems ridiculous to add a condition on a failed recovery roll. I was injured, I try some first aid to clean my wounds and bandage myself. I don’t do a good job and now not only am I injured but I am tired or angry too. I guess it could make sense but that’s where we ended the session. Next time they want to continue to the town and investigate who the peddler was taking the map to. Saxon wanted to use the peddlers cart and hat and pretend he is a different peddler.
Advise? Constructive criticism?