My Third Custom Mission

My Third Custom Mission

I ran a group of friends through Trouble in Grasslake using sample characters on a prior week. I and they were rusty on the playstyle and rules of MG. It was a great reminder and we had lots of fun. One mouse was nearly killed. He also nearly married Miss Flower, but got Sloan to convince her he was far superior and deserved her attention and affection.

So, this mission is the follow-on custom mission which I formed ad-hoc very recently.

Mission: The Island of Thrace, part 1 of ?
(Readers may also wish to look at the Territories forum for my description of Thrace Island and its residents.)

Thom with his mentee Sloan, Nathaniel, and Kyle had spent several weeks in Grasslake and Burl. Kyle was very nearly eaten by a snapping turtle; he would forever carry the scar of a missing right ear as a result of the fight. Yet, the patrol prevailed in slaying the turtle outright.

Thom thought it wise to aid Kyle’s recovery by spending several weeks lazily boating on Grass Lake and patrolling the calm region of Grasslake and Burl. The wound would fortunately not impede Kyle’s hearing, but needed plenty of time to mend.

While there, he wrote a report to Gwendolyn of the events and requested they be invited back to Lockhaven early in fall for a better recovery. He reported the patrol would move to Sandmason then Mapleharbor before turning toward Lockhaven unless her response gave other instructions.

Allow a patrol member to make a weather watcher test, else the weather during this mission will be autumn storms

Introduce the Mission

Gwendolyn sends her response via a three-mouse squad of Jim (one of Thom’s former Tenderpaws), Curt, and Logan. The letter instructs that Kyle and Nathaniel will return to Lockhaven while Thom will include these three in the following mission.

(We were reviewing character creation, so I forced the players of Kyle and Nathaniel to create new mice alongside a newcomer; Sloan and Thom remained.)

Assign the Mission:
Thom was instructed that a letter had arrived from a delegate on the island of Thrace. The island is near the coast of Lillygrove and accessible by ship from any of the three ports on that sea. This was a strange and unexpected letter as the residents of Thrace have had little to do with the mainland for many generations; Gwendolyn has never met a thracian mouse, yet knows that Lillygrove holds a blood feud with thracians. She warns not to incite further violence.

She reports that this delegate wishes to visit Lockhaven and spend the entire winter upcoming there in the home of the Guard; she heard that many civic leaders had been meeting with Gwendolyn, the matriarch of the Guard. This delegate identified herself as Kara Thrace (yeah, i know; Battlestar Galactica has been on the brain). Since the island is named Thrace also, the suspicion is that she is among the ruling elite of the island.

They must arrive at the island and escort her safely to Lockhaven. Gwendolyn can think of no mouse better to entrust with this task than Thom.

She otherwise has no instructions or words of wisdom.

Allow the patrol to write goals and review beliefs and instincts

Allow a patrol member to test Circles to determine if they have any knowledge of the thracian mice customs, community, or other things; set the Ob as you see fit

GM’s Turn:

Permit the patrol to determine their intended route to arrive at Thrace island before determining Ob for Pathfinder

Thom looked over the territory map and decided it was best to avoid Lillygrove in favor of Shorestone. He assigned Curt to pathfind their route to Shorestone knowing that he had rarely practiced the skill.

Curt happily routed the patrol with confidence directly to Rootwallow. Thom was not amused.

However, the group had a chance to talk about the correct route from Rootwallow to Shorestone with locals; one local warned that Shorestone villagers had been travelling to Appleloft for the winter due to an otter lairing nearby. Thom reconfirmed. Yes, there was reportedly an otter now living near the village of Shorestone. The village had been slowly emptying toward Appleloft.

The patrol made their way to Shorestone regardless. They found it mostly abandoned. Shops were closed, the docks were quiet. With a circles test, Thom looked around to find someone that could work a boat, had authority to launch from the docks, and would be willing to help. I only wish he’d used a trait against himself for the checks. He did find a fellow that worked the docks. This fellow knew of the feud with Lillygrove and was not happy at all to hear the group wanted passage to Thrace. In fact, he was also upset that the Guard just wandered into town and wanted the town to serve up passage on their ships with an otter moving about nearby.

It didn’t look great.

Sloan suggested they find a place to stay rather than waste the evening talking to the dock worker. He found an abandoned inn, and the patrol made themselves comfortable for a night.

On the following day, Curt and Logan took the task of scouting the otter’s lair to assess the threat and return with a report. Unfortunately, Curt’s hard working attitude kept the pair out in the cold for too long. Logan came back tired, but Curt came back tired and sick. Thom was not amused.

For the duration of the mission, the cold weather and impending storms create trouble for the mice; consider requiring Health tests against the season for extended periods outside; use tired and sick as complications for failed tests when appropriate

Mission Obstacles:

Animal Obstacle: Otter
I had intended for the group to encounter an otter. Curt’s scout attempt resulted in no successes. I felt that it didn’t even deserve success with a twist. I sent him packing with tired and sick and no sighting of an otter.

In this case, the otter has a special role in the narrative. The thracians have a small stable of otter mounts that serve as passenger boats. They have given careful instructions to Jason, one of the royal otter mounts, to meet the Guard patrol and bring them to Thrace. He is being particularly conspicuous, but cannot speak Mouse-speak.

The mention of an otter was a very big red light to the team. They were very surprised and afraid this would be another fight like the turtle. Each was thinking of how they might devise to kill the otter.

For players, the mention of the otter should stand out. These are large creatures. Although they do not often hunt mice, they are playful in ways that can hurt or kill a mouse, they might happily eat a mouse, and they cannot easily communicate with mice.

Allow a patrol member to test a Wise or Skill appropriate to otters if they wish

Because this otter was meant to be a courier and servant, the conflict to convince the Guard that it was safe was going to be an Arguement using persuader and deceiver, yet the otter has not got a fantastic skillset in its nature for this purpose. The result would have been a neat conflict.

  • The goal of the otter would be something akin to, “I will show these mice I am friendly and intend to serve them.”

The primary role-play of its persuader attempts would be Whistling and Playing from Nature (Otter). This is a chance to let go of the anthropomorphic aspects a bit and get playful about an otter trying to convince mice that it is friendly. It should be fairly funny and largely an exercise in mistranslation.

If the patrol acts violently against the otter, it could generate exciting conflicts when they finally arrive at Thrace.

In our case, I chose to drop the otter due to Curt’s utter failure as a scout. Instead, I opened the table to suggestions of what the group ought to do next. Sloan suggested a perfect complex task.

Sloan used his archivist skill and asked for assistance from Jim’s deceiver skill to create a forged bill of sale for one of the boats at the dock. They would use this to convince a different dock worker to allow them to take their purchased boat; the patrol would offer payment for the mouse to serve as a sailor for the team. Sloan used persona and fate duing his attempt at the forgery.

With a perfect bill of sale, the two mice instructed Thom in seeking out a dock worker and helping to conceal any noticeable falsehoods in the documents as he tried to make the persuader test followed by a resources test. He also called upon persona and fate in his attempt. The group successfully acquired a small boat christened The Doubleback. It was a shallow bottomed boat with two small sails that provided room for the patrol and the hired mouse.

They sailed to Thrace.

They were welcomed by a squad of spear-mice on the shore; one greeted them and kindly escorted the patrol (minus their hired sailor) to the main gathering hall where they met Kara Thrace; she introduced three members of some sort of council body which were near. Both the lead soldier and Kara asked if they had not met Jason. It was strange to them they had not met Jason.

Nevertheless, she invited them to dine with the thracians that evening and she would be ready in the morning to travel. She said that a messenger would be sent to collect Jason as he would be needed in the morning.

The dinner festival displayed a strangely different culture than the mainland mice. I totally creeped out the players as I described their mice being served cooked spiders, ants, and served some strange musky cheese. When they asked from what sort of milk the cheese was made, the thracians responded with confusion, “It is otter milk we use. Do you not make cheese from otter’s milk?” That really threw the group for a loop as they began to realize that these mice had fairly good relations with otters.

It was fully revealed the following morning as Kara led the patrol to the docks and introduced her own mount, Axyl, and their intended mount, Jason. She explained, as they sat dumbfounded, that they would board floating rafts while pole-mice would push the rafts outward into the water; the otter would swim around and roll under the raft, then rise to place the raft steadily on his belly. Then the otter would swim them to the cove slightly north of Shorestone and allow the pole-mice to take over again when the water was shallow enough.

Everything went exactly as she described. They arrived safely at the cove. The otters whistled playfully and seemed entirely happy to have done such a good deed for the mice.

Mice Obstacle: Soldiers of Lillygrove
The first dock worker had sent a runner during the night to warn Lillygrove of the patrol seeking transport to Thrace and encouraged them to come running. A town captain and three soldiers came and easily sighted the group sailing into the cove by otter transport. They waited until the group moved inland.

The town captain ordered the patrol to back away as they would be arresting and executing this thracian mouse. Initially, the town captain wants an arguement to goad the patrol into fighting. Under such conditions, he can claim they were aggressors.

The town captain will initiate an Arguement conflict to provoke the patrol to fighting.

  • The goal of the guard captain and his team of three soldiers is something akin to, “I will goad this patrol to fight, and my soldiers will shine best as trained combatants.”

The choice to create an arguement conflict serves two roles, one: the team may choose to surrender to the goal and leap into a fray and two: the town captain and his soldiers will have to use Beginner’s Luck throughout the conflict (providing a grand advantage to the patrol). This gives a strong chance for the players to feel their mice may be capable fighters, but are also very level-headed by resisting the insults, jeers, and threats.

Thom was not amused.

In fact, the patrol was glad to keep a level head. They had lots of role-play material to use. Thom brought up the turtle from the previous session, scars from the weasel wars, and so much more from his past as a Guard veteran. The other mice comfortably held their weapons sheathed and felt little need to brandish them foolishly.

The militia eventually lost heartily. The town captain quipped as he ran, “I’ll have you know I intend to write a strongly worded letter to Gwendolyn about this.”

Kara Thrace was thrilled to see the mice in action protecting her.

This is the perfect spot to end the GM’s turn. From here, they have faced their trials and need to handle the final travel. Since I’m rusty, I didn’t think of this until later. I factored an Ob for pathfinding their way back to Lockhaven and ended the GMs’ turn in the safety of Lockhaven.

This was particularly unfortunate for me since the group had largely chosen goals related to escorting Kara to Lockhaven. So, had I ended before that was provided on asilver platter, they would have needed the checks to ensure safe arrival.

Mission Twists:
This mission was put to gether somewhat ad-hoc, but there are some important things to keep in mind when planning twists during this mission.

Lillygrove was painted as a feuding city with Thrace. The people there have strong animosity toward the thracians and would not be happy with the Guard visiting, nor a thracian meeting with Gwendolyn.

The otter in this case was a member of the thracian navy. If the patrol had reacted with violence it could have been very bad for their relations with Thrace in the long-term and short-term.

Although this mission did not include a major event on Thrace, they could have just as easily created a faux pas on Thrace that ignited trouble. Kara might have not wanted to travel; a key leader might feel insulted.

Once on the mainland, the patrol faces a tough fight with the town captain and soldiers. These NPCs would have been excellent in a fight conflict. It would be a neat twist to see how things turn out with a fight rather than an arguement.

If the group accepted the order to back away from the thracian delegate, she could have easily called upon her otter mounts to protect.

This does not even begin to expose the weather twists that threaten a small group of mice if they fail a pathfinder or survivalist test.

Player’s Turn:
Now that the group was handled their two major obstacles and possibly forced to manage twists and complications, the time has come for them to use the checks gained to finalize the session.

Some of the suggested uses include:

  • initiate a negotiation conflict with Kara to learn about training otters as mounts
  • iniitate an orator conflict to speak against the feud in Lillygrove
  • overcome conditions

Sloan had made the unrelated, unexpected goal: “I will meet Gwendolyn.”

For his check, the player was uncertain just how to complete or even work toward his goal. He was also interested in setting up a scene to use his Deceiver for a failure to advance it.

I suggested he could use his check to arrange a meeting with Gwendolyn to lie about the forged bill of sale or some other aspect of the mission. She has the sort of Will that would be hard to beat and his Deceiver would likely fail to give him the skill advancement.

It turned out to be a really fun scene to play.

Thom had been invited to join Sloan in using his check. He chose to use his check to remain after Sloan left and tender his resignation to Gwendolyn. Initially I didn’t see why he needed a check for that, but then decided that Gwendolyn might have some opposing feelings. I didn’t want to create a full conflict, so I suggested either Persuader vs Persuader (i.e. G wants to convince him to stay on; T wants to convince her to let go) or Persuader vs. Will (i.e. G wants to convince him to stay; T has made up his mind). I used her compassionate trait and her strong persuader with the following, “Thom, I understand the path has been long for you. Why, it has only been a few seasons since Saxon has begun courting me; already I realize how much I’ve missed. Won’t you rest through the winter here in Lockhaven. Maybe I can have a different post for you; I could promote you to a Guard Captain to keep you here at a desk in Lockhaven or send you to a regional keep for a non-travelling assignment.” Thom’s player choce the Persuader vs Will, but didn’t succeed. We both agreed that he would at least stay on through winter and consider her proposal for his career’s future.