My Group Plans to Remove the GM's/Player's Turn

Yes, me too. The structure of the GM’s Turn/Player’s Turn isn’t as rigid as it seems. I believe that MG sessions should quickly evolve into organic storytelling. My group actually plans to ignore the GM’s Turn/Player’s Turn structure and just do what feels right at any given moment in the story.

Really, you should try it as written for two or three sessions, at least to have something on which to base your comparison. Are the other players behind this change?

There’s a little bit of a danger here, and it has to do with the way that the characters improve. Unlike other RPGs, there’s no “experience point reward”. And aside from the activities in Winter Season, the only way to improve the character is by ticking off those successes and failures.

Which means that the amount of skill/ability tests have to be regulated somehow. And that’s what the GM/Player Turn structure tries to control. The GM is able to make every test “worth it” through the limitations that the structure puts on how many times a player can actually roll the dice.

If you take that structure away, you may have a harder time deciding if the players are just throwing tests around for the sake of speeding up their skill/ability advancement.

What will players spend their Checks on?

The logical followup: If Checks aren’t a resource, do they have any motivation to chase them?


Umm, I didn’t start this thread, although it sure looks like I did. How’d that happen?

A moderator probably split off a portion of another thread, accomplishing three things:
– the original thread isn’t derailed by a different discussion
– the new discussion isn’t buried in another thread
– there’s less confusion of which discussion a reply is responding to

It really helps other readers too!

I think that’s kinda rhetorical – meaning that the intention may be to completely ignore checks.

The logical followup: If Checks aren’t a resource, do they have any motivation to chase them?

There’s one other “use” for checks, and that’s to recharge the usage of traits.

However, I do understand your point, and I agree with it… This kind of group playstyle (Player’s Turn all the time) is more suited to other game systems. I think Aramis is headed in that direction too (he refers to it as “sandbox” games).

Wanderer: yes, I spoke with my players about this; we always discuss things and come to an agreement before applying them. It was a player’s idea to try and play the game without the GM’s/Player’s Turn breakdown. He feels like it constrains his freedom to do whatever he wants his character to do at any given time - which is one of the big selling points for table-top RPGs.

Stormtower: as GM, I will adjudicate which rolls are rewarded by advancement checks. Only tests made in dramatic situations and tests made in ways that will change the story in a significant way, would meet this requirement.

Paul B: in addition to the stuff you can already spend checks on (except for tests, which would no longer be required), players can spend 1 check to add +1D to any significant test rolls OR spend 2 checks to add +1s to any significant test rolls.

Keep in kind we haven’t played this way yet, we’re just thinking we might try it next time.

Edit: also, I have a question: my Burning Wheel books are on the way so I haven’t read them yet, but does BW break the game into GM/Player’s Turns?

Ah yes, one of my favorite RPG fallacies. There are precious few RPGs in which this is actually true. Come to think of it, I can’t think of one good example.

For the rest of RPG-dom, this is a mantra that we repeat as we play our alignment, for our class, supported by our proficienies in our faux fantasy world.

I think you know what I’m talking about, but I’ll try to clarify.

In the GM’s Turn a player can’t go about doing whatever he wants. He can’t say, “Hey, on our way to Sprucetuck I want to stop and see if I can purchase some elixirs.” The GM has to say, “No, you can’t do that right now.”

That has nothing to do with limitations based on alignment, class, etc. It has everything to do with the GM/Player’s Turn system.

Idea that might help clarify: Think of the GM’s turn as “playing to your team membership.” Much in the same way as you might constrain your own choices when playing to an alignment or any other fictional inside-the-RPG affiliation.

It’ll feel different inside your head, of course: When you’re playing to alignment (or whateva), you’re choosing to do so. During the GM’s turn it’ll feel like you have no choice in the matter. But the net result is the same.

I think it’d be very similar to a system in which, say, there were swaths of time in-game in which you simply could not break alignment, or you simply had to carry out orders from your Noble House, or whatever.

A more practical thought: Keep the GM’s turn short. Long enough for players to rack up 3-4 checks apiece (a secret: check-earning and condition-setting is the only real function of the GM’s turn). I guarantee they’ll have more checks than they need when it comes to their turn. Of course, between the short GM turn and the high-ish Checks target, they’ll be strongly motivated to trigger their Traits. But, since it sounds like you also have players who have no interest in complicating their characters’ lives via Traits, that won’t work.

If you opt out of the MG economy, it’s no surprise that it doesn’t work.


What a strange thing to assert! The player can absolutely say that. In turn, the GM is obligated to offer, “The path to Sprucetuck is washed out, make an Ob 4 Pathfinder test.” Or, “En route to Sprucetuck, you hear plaintive cries settling through the branches. There’s a lost mouse out there! Make an Ob 3 Scout test to find her.”

Mouse Guard gives you the tools to make life interesting, rather than just another shopping trip.


OK, got it. Thanks.

No, but at it’s core it has the same ideas about only rolling dice when it’s important. Burning Empires has a scene economy that sort of bridges Burning Wheel and Mouse Guard.

Or, not to undermine Luke, here, but there’s a reason the player’s not supposed to be able to pick up elixirs whenever he wants to. It’s part of the feel of Mouse Guard. When on a mission in the GM’s Turn, time is always of the essence and resources are always scarce.

Thanks Daniel and everyone else. Your comments are helpful.

Paul: where do you get that my players “have no interest in complicating their characters’ lives via Traits”? They most certainly do. They really embrace that aspect of traits and have used them in both sessions to enrich the story and increase everyone’s enjoyment of the game. Maybe you should ask before you make such assumptions.

Yipes! Totally my bad. There’s been a lot of MG chat lately and I got you confused with someone else (and it’s not at all an unusual condition for players to find themselves in – earn checks only when it means absolutely no risk to themselves).


OK Paul - thanks for the explanation. No hard feelings.

I think we have the core issue in the debate coming out here: Everybody is interpreting how much structure (free will wise) the GM turn is supposed to be differently. The book seems to imply a very tight structure were you are presented specific choices in a specific order only branching on test failures. Some interpret this as a specific series of events, or a specific series of problem areas, but generally the interpretation is you can not just go shopping on the way to what you are trying to accomplish or choose to ignore the mission altogether. Others (including the game author in this thread) instead seem to have the perpective that the players can set their own course, inrerupting or even ignoring the presented mission or even looking for things to do on their own, in which case new events are generated on the fly by the GM. In another thread it seemed Luke indicated he defined the low-choice structure in the book as a training tool for when you broke into a purely free form structure, which could be the source of some if the confusion.

The basic point is, if the GM turn us supposed to be open path then experiments to remove it likely are not needed and people saying “MG is supposed to be played this special hard-core way in the GM turn” are needlessly stressing the free form supporters out.

Agreed. I apologize if I’ve stressed the by-the-book. I just think the “hard core” rules should be given more than one or two sessions before the group starts to tweak it. Mouse Guard is soooo different from other RPGs.

Think about it, just the basic premise is entirely different.

In many other RPGs, we’re used playing characters like “humans-at-the-top of the food chain”. We’re used to having technology (and magic, in many cases) at our character’s beck and call. We’re used to having self-sufficient and independent characters.

In Mouse Guard, the characters are near the bottom of the food chain. There’s barely any technology, and certainly no magic. And the main reason the patrol will be able to overcome the obstacles is through teamwork – the patrol members lean on each other for support.

The thing is, I don’t really think the premise is a factor here. There have been plenty of rpgs with relatively weak characters that have to rely on teamwork and even D&D can go that way depending in setting and character level. I honestly think the MG mechanics would work great for a super hero game if there was a setting factor to handle the conflict Nature represents (the Taint that afflicts supers in the game Abberant comes to mind). The basic question, how forced are you to cleave to the mission event script by the letter and/or the intent of the rules during the GM turn? Do you need to break the game to go off mission during the GM turn, or is that an inherent expectation of advanced play? If the players can always choose their direction in the GM turn and the true definition of their turn is actually “when they get to define story events rather then look for the GMs” then it requires some different perspectives.