My Fourth Custom Mission

Introduce the Session: Dam, like a Beaver

This was the first in a short series of teaching sessions to hopefully convert a few more and inspire a new GM into leaping at the chance to run their own game. I used the sample mission from the box set supplement as a foundation and began to make some alterations. I also created my own sample characters for the players. We will be learning character recruitment at a later session.

In this session, the characters of the patrol will be sent to pour scent border barrels, but will find that a beaver pond now blocks some of the route needed for the scent border. That might or might not present a problem. Also, the spring wilderness presents its own challenges.

[i]*** Allow a player to present the Prologue if appropriate

*** Allow a patrol member to attempt Weather Watcher if no one did so during the last Player’s Turn; else, the weather is unseasonably cold[/i]

Assign the Mission: Pour the Scent Border

The festival of Vernalstar has passed with happiness and prosperity for many mice. Gwendolyn has been preparing mission briefs, but did pause in her duties to enjoy the festival with Saxon in Flintrust. When she returned to Lockhaven, she called the patrol to give them a mission. Initially, it seemed they would be sent on a routine presence patrol, but she stops during the brief to rethink her plans. She tells the group to return in a few hours.

Gwendolyn has sent a runner to follow a shipment of scent barrels headed to Darkwater for shipping across the bay to Port Sumac. Erick, a Guard Captain is managing the shipment and distributing barrels to patrols for pouring the northern scent border. The patrol will be sent to Port Sumac to meet with Erick, then will move onward to pour the border over approximately a third of the border from the water inland. She commands the Patrol Leader to gather a small number of mice and report his patrol list to Rand before leaving. She also tells the group that they ought to take advantage of the summer to patrol the Grass Lake region, Port Sumac and Rustleaf region, and possibly visit Wolfpointe or Mapleharbor by the end of the season. From there, she might have sent a letter for some ideas of Summer duties.

In any case, get engaged in the duties of the Guard; the group need not hurry.

[i]*** Allow players to write goals for their mice.

*** Allow players to review Beliefs and Instincts for their mice.

*** Allow the senior ranking mouse’s player to narrate the mice he chooses and why. Other players may also narrate a brief introduction to the patrol of their activities when the leader of the patrol comes calling.[/i]

The succint mission is: Pour the scent border over the designated length of the border before summer.

[b]GM’s Turn

Mission Scenes:

Wilderness Obstacle: Complex[/b]

The patrol will initially be following the tracks of several wheeled carts bearing the scent border barrels. It may be wpring, yet the trail from Lockhaven to Darkwater is not terribly difficult. The group could choose to head around the bay by land to Port Sumac rather than seek passage on a ship.

[i]*** Allow the senior ranking mouse to discuss with the patrol how best to arrive at Port Sumac to speak with Erick.

*** Factor the obstacle for Pathfinder to make their way by land, for Circles followed by Haggler to make their way by water.

*** In both cases, consider if the weather calls for a Health test against illness.[/i]

Erick is not a much loved mice among some of the lower ranked mice. (Some of the sample characters I made consider him an enemy). He complains to the patrol about his given task of managing shipments. He is especially frustrated that only a short time ago, another patrol, among which some treat him as an enemy, gathered their assigned barrels. He does not have beetles that can act as porters for the carts. It will probably take one mouse to handle a cart, so a small patrol cannot take all four barrels he needs to assign them in one trip. Also, a third or fourth mouse of a patrol should probably not pull a cart to afford for sharing the load among the mice over the several days of travel to the border.

Erick will maintain the other two barrels in a warehouse until the patrol can return. Two other patrols are assigned the duty of pouring scent border during this season, so the patrol should anticipate seeing other Guard members in the wilderness.

The patrol now needs to make their way out to the section assigned for them to pour. They might choose to start somewhere inland headed for the coast, or they might head all the way to the coast and move inland. It should not be too hard either way.

[i]*** Allow the patrol to decide and describe their method of travelling the final leg of the journey before the can get to work.

*** Factor a Pathfinder test for the final distance.[/i]

[In the case of failure while travelling to Port Sumac, you can simply assign the Hungry condition. The mice have either chosen a path which has not yet returned from winter or they must forgo a nice meal to handle the cost of boat passage.

In the case of failure on the final leg of the travel, the group will find that a beaver’s dam now forms a small, shallow marsh causing difficulty arriving at their intended destination.]

Animal Twist: A Beaver and Dam Family

The ground becomes a bit spongy and damp during travel. After a day or so of damp grounds, the standing water starts to cause trouble over some areas. Finally, the mud and standing water are becoming a hinderance to moving the carts along. Unless recent rains can account for the marsh forming underpaw, the mice can probably guess that a beaver dam is creating a new pond. The flooding may well threaten Wolfpointe if it becomes large enough. It might be a good new habitat for critters to hunt too.

The patrol must weave around to circumnavigate the pond, scout out the beaver for a chat, or build a boat to cross the water with the barrels. It is not yet clear whether the pond has flooded the border.

*** Allow the patrol to decide and describe their intended course of action. They may elect to Pathfind around the pond in hopes of avoiding a beaver encounter; they may elect to Scout out the beaver for an arguement, negotiation, chase, or fight; they may elect to Boatcraft a vessel that can carry the mice and barrels across the shallow pond to fulfill their intended task.

*** Factor an appropriate Pathfinder, Scout, or Boatcrafter test.

[In the case of failure, the beaver has found them and has an unfriendly demand that they leave. Mice could attract predators that threaten his young beavers which are about the size of mice right now. He already can smell the marks of a predator and worries enough each day as it is.

In the case of success at Pathfinder or Boatcrafter, they are able to transport the scent barrels beyond the pond to find where they must begin pouring. They avoiding seeing or being seen by the beaver.

In the case of success at Scout, they have found the beaver and may approach to initiate a Negotiation or Arguement conflict; they might also be devious and intiate a Chase conflict.]

Twisted Animal Conflict: A Beaver

The beaver does not have the same understanding of the scent border as do the mice. He will not easily understand the explanation of the scent border and barrels of concocted odor. On the contrary, he is strongly convinced that this area is already claimed by a large predator or pack of predators–he suspects wolves.

The mice in particular are a greater danger because they may attract raptors, wolves, coyotes, or foxes. All of these large predators could easily make an attack against his children if he is not careful in his duty to build a den. The predators would probably not target an adult beaver quite as zealously.

The beaver is prepared to intiate an Arguement Conflict to convince the mice they are a great attraction for threatening predators. They must leave and cannot find homes near his. It is important for him to succeed, and in the case of success, the beaver might Chase the mice away if they are unwilling to go.

*** Allow the patrol to respond to the beaver’s initial demand. They might feel no reason to conflict with the beaver’s arguement. If they respond in a way that conflicts with the beaver’s intent, begin to form an Arguement conflict.

Weather Obstacle: Pouring in the Rain

[The patrol must pour the two initial barrels of scent, then must return to recover the next two barrels to conclude their mission. If they have not encountered the animal twist, this following obstacle should be used to conclude the mission before turning to the Player’s Turn. If they did encounter the beaver, and have dealt with a conflict, this obstacle could be forgone at teh discretion of the GM.]

After arriving at the location assigned to pour the scent barrels, the patrol may now get to work; however, the sudden Spring storm will create an entirely new challenge to the task. The group could wait through the rain, but it is likely this will last a few days. If they pour the scent border during the rain, it might spread farther than usual and save time–even if it dillutes the scent a bit. On the other hand, it might rain so much the scent gets washed away before it can soak into the soil.

[i]*** Allow the patrol to decide and describe how to proceed. If they choose to wait out the storm, they must construct a suitable shelter for themselves and the barrels as Survivalists. They could choose to pour the scent border despite the weather as Laborers.

*** Factor an appropriate test and ensure you include the weather as a factor.[/i]

[In the case of failure at Survivalist, the scent barrels are badly damaged or lost in the stormy weather. The mice did not make appropriate shelters; in addition to the lost equipment, they are made tired by their inability to properly rest through the inclimate weather.

In the case of failure at Laborer, creatively consider what might not go aright for the task. This could mean that one or more mice are musky with scent. This could also indicate that the border is not strong enough to deter predators during this and other seasons. Working in poor conditions might create Anger or lead to an Injury.]

[b]Player’s Turn

Session Scenes: [/b]

The group has done what they can for their task. Now, they may use checks earned to fulfill their own interests. Some suggestions include:

  • Return to Pt Sumac to recover the second two barrels
  • Learn something about the beaver by using Beginner’s Luck in Beaver-wise or Dam-wise
  • Forage food, herbs, or other things from the surroundings
  • Recover from conditions

This mission went well for the group learning and for me to run. I do have a few lessons learned.

I liked giving them an arguement with a critter. The beaver just doesn’t think quite like mice. The mice should not think quite like the beaver. I allows Loremouse to be used for any action in the Arguement conflict, but I think that I should have also required it be a helping die to any mouse that did not have Loremouse.

The group was quickly scared into thinking that the beaver was a threat to their lives. They were ready to fight. Although no one had Beaver-wise at the time, I did at least tell them that beavers do not eat mice.

During the goals writing period, the patrol had a great dynamic response. One wrote, ‘I will learn something about at least one animal during this mission,’ which was easy to accomodate. Another wrote, ‘I will gather rare healing herbs from the border region during the season.’ Initially, I thought it would be easy, but after considering the factors when the players used a check to carry out the task during the player’s turn, I found it turned up about Ob 8. She did rally by tapping Nature and requesting help from the patrol. She was successful.

The Patrol Leader had some trouble with the goal, but finally wrote, ‘I will ensure the scent border is repoured.’ I’m glad that at least one chose a goal related to the mission. He was thinking of some sort of teaching goal for the younger Guardmouse in the patrol.

I actually ended the mission after the beaver arguement, but now I’m thinking that I should have waited a bit on that. However, one interesting event was that a player volunteered to pull the Weather Watcher test. He succeeded and called for Spring Storms right from the start. The remainder of the session included the storms in the factors.

Another odd thing happened when we came to the arguement, since the beaver used nature, I felt that I should have been changing his number a bit each time, or at least used a different number than the full nature. I could really use some advice for animals acting against their nature and being used in ways that are outside of Fight Animal, Chase, or War.

So, as the patrol came to disposition against the beaver, they actually ended up with Dispo 1 from the outset. I decided to at least save the attack from round 1 of actions in hopes taht they could learn the conflict system a bit better. It worked out. We got two rounds of conflict before the beaver won. Twice the beaver tried to feint when they scripted attack; that helped a lot. They didn’t push the Dispo down much, but it was enough to expect a minor compromise.

When a player used a check to roll a Beginner’s Luck of Beaver-wise, he got three successes of three dice. I felt like it deserved a better result than simply, “write X and mark a use of the skill; you’re now learning Beaver-wise.” In fact, learning wises and using wises is something I need some advice about. I seems that few players care to have wises above 2. I’ve never seen a description of them being tested in-play. They can’t be used in actions of a conflict, but I can imagine a trivia conflict in which testing wises is important.

Lastly, no one used a check to patrol any other regions. In fact, they didn’t even use a pathfinder to leave the region. I’ll be starting them in Wolfpoint during next session, but I’m thinking of using that sort of twist in a later mission–they didn’t visit anywhere else to check in. Strangely, using a check to pour the scent border was the final check used after all other actions. I figure something will come from that.

Hi Ken,
Those are great goals, but remember one mouse MUST take a mission-related goal. It’s in the rules. Doesn’t have to be the patrol leader, though.


thanks for the reminder. I’ll make sure to bring that up before writing goals at the next session.