Nature (Adventurer), and general D&D hackery.

For a D&D hack, there needs to be a good, flexible Nature theme. Perhaps the seven deadly sins? Pride in your ability forces you apart from your people (because D&D is all about a motley crew of miscreants). Greed leads you towards the loot. Sloth is deeper; while there’s the in-joke (can we sleep now? I need to heal up!), there’s also the “desire to retire.”

As Luke noted in his hacking thread, a Mouse Guard TC needs three things:
[li]Team-based adventure. D&D has always had this.[/li][li]An implacable, over-arching force (of nature). The characters are points of light in a world of darkness, but the over-arching force generally changes per-campaign.[/li][li]Dramatic adventure that focuses on fighting for what you believe in. Another D&D staple. [/li][/ul]

I think conflicts are pretty well covered, though there should probably be one in there for traps. Hazards continue to include weather, wilderness (inc. dungeons), animals (monsters, inc. dragons), and mice (people). Territories depend on your setting; Forgotten Realms and Eberron are all ready for an easy conversion.

As for skills and abilities, they should be generally good, though minor renaming (for familiarity; perhaps health -> constitution, for example) might be nice. D&D 4.0 includes a bunch of backgrounds, which lead straight into traits and territory skills. Most D&Ders can handle the idea of wises as old-school “Knowledge (…)” skills, so that’s nice and easy to keep.

Fighter becomes a 4.0-style power source, which gives us fun things like Psionics and Arcane mages practically for free. Most of the other skills can stay as-is, and we’d take the Realm Guard changes for humanoid characters.

As noted, there should be a Trap conflict. The base can be Health or Nature, like a fight, but the test skill should be something like Scout (for noticing it) or Hunter (for disabling it). I’d rather have a skill like Thievery, but I’m not sure what it’d replace, or if it’d just be new. Perhaps a Trap-wise? Seems like a cop-out.

Power sources in 4.0 are things like Arcane, Divine, Primal, Martial (direct replacement for Fighter), and Psionic. The thought is that they’re pulling power from there to do crazy cool things on the other end.

The end result is that you can use any of these power sources in a conflict to replace Fighter, but that makes for interesting issues with flavor (why can I use magic missile to beat someone up, but I can’t use mage hand outside a fight?). As far as D&D is concerned, there are a few powers that are useful outside combat (grant skill bonuses, etc.), but not too many. Perhaps we go with a 3rd ed. or earlier flavor?

For 3.5, at least, we could use an Arcane skill along the lines of Art Magic, but that pulls us quite some distance from the simplicity of Mouse Guard, and I’m less happy with it.

I’d much rather a compromise. Characters can take power source skills as they relate to other skills. That is, you don’t just take “Arcane”, you take “Arcane (Fighter)” for magic missile or fireball, and “Arcane (Scout)” if you’ve got magically enhanced senses. This allows for nice, flavorful characters, and cool effects in-game.

The problem with that solution is differentiating Arcane, Divine, and Psionic abilities (because I think we drop Martial, at least, since it’s just normal skill use; perhaps we keep Primal, the druid form of Divine?). What’s making an Arcane (Hunter) different from a Hunter, anyway?

Guard Rank: Alright, we kill the age correspondence, and just make the Guard Rank into a power source analog.

Tendermouse -> Martial, like a Fighter.
Guardmouse -> Primal, like a Barbarian.
Patrol Guard -> Divine, like a Cleric.
Patrol Leader -> Arcane, like a Sorcerer.
Guard Captain -> Arcane, like a Wizard.

This gives us cool class-like flavor while remaining flexible during character creation, and retaining interesting differences between ranks.

Mouse Nature: Nature remains a choice of deadly sins, and perhaps the questionnaire can direct the player towards their top two or three, as well as determining a starting value.

Where Were You Born?: This will be different for each setting. I’ll write one up for Forgotten Realms later on.

Natural Talent: This can probably stay as-is. Fighters need more varied talents (or they get boring), and wizards are (like Guard Captains) naturally high power level.

Parent’s Trade: Fighters again get two; seems good. Trade might still make flavor sense, but I’m not sure.

Social Skills: Sorcerers and wizards get two? Seems off. Perhaps we turn one of these into something like a Bard?

Artisan Skills: Everyone gets one, seems good.

Adventuring Skills: Fighters get two (continued goodness), sorcerers get two; leaning more towards Patrol Leader as Bard.

More Adventuring Skills: Here’s where the number of skill points really goes crazy, but it’s the “extra” skills each rank gets access to where we can boost differentiation between them. By default, Fighter gets Laborer, Barbarian gets Haggler, Cleric gets Cook, Sorcerer gets Persuader and Loremouse (that does it, Sorcerer is now Bard), and the Wizard gets Orator, Militarist, and Administrator.

Fighter as Laborer might be good, and the Bard with Persuader and Lore seems great. Barbarian with Haggler doesn’t do it for me. A Cleric that can Cook would be a fun concept, but also doesn’t seem right.

Specialty: Everyone but Fighter gets this. Hm.

Wises: Get them in proportion to your rank, eh?

Resources: Also in proportion to your rank.

Circles: Also in proportion to your rank.

Yeah, I think we avoid the class-as-rank concept. Some of them gel alright, but it just doesn’t smell right to me. Some kind of abstract “adventurer experience” terminology might be best, or even something that was definitely brain-vs-brawn in scale.

Rank 2 should be “Adventurer,” perhaps, and rank 1 can be “Tenderfoot,” for a simple conversion. We have no patrol or generic “guard,” though, and parties are almost always tossed together by some sort of chance (thus the old trope).

This is cool, but have you looked at Realm Guard? Check out what they’ve done. It seems a better starting point for what you’re after than just straight Mouse Guard.

I did take a look, at least at the 1.5 pdf (I saw discussion about a 1.6 version, but couldn’t find it). The main difference is the feel (all rangers vs. the wizard/fighter/rogue adventuring party).

As for the starting point; yeah, we’d probably start with the skills from Realm Guard, as they’re better for this sort of thing. I saw a comment of yours where you noted that different Nature descriptors (between characters) made for a very different game, and so I didn’t want to use the same descriptors as they had for Men/Elves/etc. D&D also needs magic, and Realm Guard doesn’t currently have that (in 1.5, at least).

Also, the change in ranks; right now, I’m just looking for different names (the most important part, of course! /sarcasm), while I think about making the magic implementation as simple as possible.

A thought on establishing Nature(s):

My understanding is that a good Nature has to do a couple things:

  1. Provide tension between what the character must do and what “his kind” does naturally – that is, establish an outsider element. How much of an outsider is the character? How exceptional? I see many/most MG hacks screwing this one up (as did my own couple attempts).

  2. Provide easy thematic touchpoints for the players and GM to grab onto. I like that, in MG, everyone has the same Nature so therefore everyone is thematically joined. It’s not like you have issues a, b, and c to deal with while I have x, y and z. We all have to decide, in our own ways, if running and hiding is the appropriate response to a threat. When you run and hide but I do not, we are both saying something about our mousiness.

So! For a D&D type of hack, I think question #1 is juicy and interesting. What do we know about “adventurers”? They’re risk-takers, often greedy, occasionally idealistic, quick to violence, ambitious (if you take the kill-them-and-take-their-stuff element to its logical conclusion). So IMO one way you could go would be to establish an anti-adventurer Nature. That COULD be keyed into their race(s).

Human: laying low, knowing your place, moving through cities

Elf: meditating, being passive, moving through forests

Dwarf: being greedy and selfish, being grumpy, moving underground

…and so on. This approach doesn’t hit my point #2 very hard, but it’d be a good way to map classic D&D races. What this DOES do well is set up that outsider tension from #1: Human adventurers will do very well in urban settings but they fall apart when they go outside (assuming they’re very high Human), Dwarves will excel at being greedy and selfish but that’s not a good way to act in a party of “adventurers,” and so on.

Anyway, just a thought.

So, it seems like Nature in MG is really a way of mechanically adding a few more BITs, then, with the added constraint of the 0 and 7 limits. Hm.

Yeah, point #2 was what I was going for with a general “Adventurer Nature,” because then we get shared characteristics among the players. Perhaps that’s unnecessary, though.

This is your thing and I don’t want to piss on it. My constructive criticism is that I’m not too keen on the rank = class thing. That seems better handled by skills.

Hmmm, I dig Nature as motivation instead of race, which would be typical,

Well…take a look at Mouse in MG. If you’re very mousy, you’re gonna be amazing at running and hiding and foraging and a bunch of other stuff that might be useful, but also at odds with being a Guardmouse. That’s why there isn’t a “Guardmouse” nature. Then there’d be no tension. IOW why not rack up the highest possible Guardmouse (or Adventurer) nature? It becomes the “I Am A Badass” stat.

On that note, I’ve been rethinking your Seven Sins angle. I dunno if I would per se come up with seven separate natures, but I think you could create a very heavy, Gothic, Catholic vibe if you had…

Nature (Sinner): useful when being slothful, proud, envious, greedy, wrathful, lustful, or gluttonous.

At 0: You transcend the mortal coil and arise into Heaven
At 7: Consumed by sin, your soul is claimed by dark forces and you descend into Hell

Oh man, the temptation to use your Sinner nature would be humongous. In fact the whole “temptation” angle is hot, as it relates to the concept of sin.

Hmmm. Inquisitors hunting down the devil and the only way to really beat him is to risk falling… It may have some legs.

Sounds awesome to me. It also feeds much better into a MG hack, too, with a much more interesting (imho) “implacable, over-arching force.”

Ah, right! That’s where my confusion came from. I was reading it as Nature (mouse -> guardmouse), when it’s really Nature (mouse -> NOT guardmouse). This makes a lot more sense.

If you are committed to this direction, maybe you could condense the list a bit. Something like Selfishness, Impatience, aaaaanndd something else I can’t put my finger on. Passion is what I’m thinking of but doesn’t sound right. Something to tie in the Lust, and Wrath together… Hmm

Or maybe take a note from the Lions of Judah hack and make it Fearful.

Mouse Guard isn’t exactly the system I would want to mod for a high-fantasy, varied game like D&D, but that’s neither here nor there. Personally, I would suggest a Nature that reflects the common person in a pseudo-medieval society: obedience, regret, cautiousness. This way, players will always be fighting their Nature by doing the things adventurers do. At the same time, this Nature is flexible enough to allow each character to have a distinct personality without causing some players to have to fight their Nature so often that they become frustrated (unless, of course, you have a obedient, regretful, cautious character. In which case, your character would be unfit for adventuring and wouldn’t make for good gameplay anyway).

As for the different classes, I think that it should come down to skills. Not very D&D-like, I know, but doing something akin to a class system, I believe, would force you to come up with some sort of skill-point character creation system, which would be a lot of work on your part.

Well, I suppose you could also do a different Recruitment process for every class.

Not unlike the Mouse nature, actually…

Well, I suppose you could also do a different Recruitment process for every class.

Kinda like how BW does lifepaths, from what I hear.

Similar, yes, but no skill points and you’ll only choose one.

Desire or Appetite maybe? Like desire/appetite for sex, vengeance or destruction.


I don’t think Desire is the right word…I think he’s not looking for the desire aspect so much as the intensity aspect…the raw savagery of humanity, almost. Passion is close.