New Player/New Mission

Hey all,

So I’m new to Mouse Guard, though I’ve posted on here a few times already. I’m ready to begin my first real session tomorrow and I wanted to run my mission by some more experienced players/gms first. Here goes:

Mission Synopsis:

A generous silk merchant has recently been the guest at Lockhaven after coming bearing gifts of silk cloaks intended as retirement gifts for those who may retire in the following winter. Though Gwendolyn is grateful for the gifts the merchant, Lavertus, has overstayed his welcome and has become overbearing. As gently as possible, Gwendolyn has finally coerced the Merchant to accept an escort from Lockhaven to Rootwallow (enter my new patrol players).

In actuality the merchant is not as gregarious as indicated. He had some shady dealings in Shaleburrow and only narrowly managed to get out of there with his hide intact. He’s stayed ahead of the small group of pursuers and has ducked into Lockhaven under somewhat false pretenses. (He was bringing the silk cloaks to the Guard, but was planning on trading them for a profit rather than gifting them) He’s hoping that staying for an extended visit in Lockhaven will shake his pursuers, but realizes he can’t stay any longer, so he’s hoping a Guard escort will stave them off.

Now, I know the rules are intended for 2 obstacles with potential for twists and conditions, but here is my ideal scenario:

Obstacle 1:
The shady merchant mouse will try to convince the patrol to follow a shortcut he knows to avoid the main roads, as he knows the mice pursuing him will be watching the roads. I figure this is a versus test, his deception vs their (will? Persuader?) A question I have here: How do I avoid the patrol from just saying “Yes, let’s do the shortcut”? Do I enforce the versus test or give them the option?

Success: I’d like to have them continue on the road to Rootwallow as planned, but have them waylaid by the band of angry mice pursuing the merchant. Alternatively (if the overall consensus is two mouse obstacles for one mission is a bad choice) a weather obstacle (recent rain having turned the established path into a quagmire of mud). More on this later.

Failure: The mice are convinced by the merchant to take the shortcut but get hopelessly lost (since there is no actual shortcut). Ob 5 Pathfinder test to get back on the road. (Failure here will be a tired condition)

Obstacle 2:

My ideal scenario here is to have the mice pursuing the merchant waylay the band and initiate a conflict with them. If I did go this way (hypothetically), would I decide as the GM if it were a fight conflict (NPC goal to capture the merchant) or an argument conflict (convince the patrol to let them take him back to Shaleburrow for justice) or would I allow the patrol to play it out first?

Now, I do understand that the ideal scenario is two seperate types of obstacles (whereas these are both mouse obstacles), but are these different enough? If not, I’m happy to replace it with a weather based obstacle as listed above (road turning to mud) with an extended obstacle to get the merchant safely across.

If I go weather based than I would have the failure be based on how things went above. If they are already beat up from failures, I’d probably make it a condition of hungry or thirsty from working so hard. If I feel that they were doing well above (mostly successes) than an animal twist that indicates that they need to go around, rather than through and put them in a conflict against a small animal (maybe a bullfrog)

If I were to go with the second mouse obstacle, I could have the merchant become a friend or enemy depending on how things play out. Same with the leader of the mouse band. If I go with the weather obstacle, then the merchant can share with him the truth after seeing their skill. Perhaps he could provide them with a second mission for the next session (goto shaleburrow and try to fix his errors).

So that’s my plan. Please critique the s*** out of it as much as possible in the short time frame left! (I’m running the session in 24 hours). I’ll post a brief report afterwards on what worked/failed.

Also, it bears mentioning that my patrol is non existant thus far, so I might make some subtle (or significant) changes at the table based on instincts/beliefs if necessary or possible.

Thanks for reading. Apologies for the super long post.

Never apologize for a long post.

Heads up, Character creation/recruitment will take a decent chunk of time, unfortunatly you cant direct exact aspects of the mission to challenge their beliefs
I like the mission outline, great set up.
Now, this may be simply my interpretation, if Luke, Kendesign, Lord Hampshire want to correct me, but I find Mouse Guard to be a co-operative story telling.
So how I’d word the first obstacle with Lavertus would be. “The merchant mouse suggests against your better judgement to take a more direct route to Rootwallow. Will Vs Test” If the players want to discuss the idea in greater detail, make it a complex challenge between the Merchant and the patrol OR a simple persuader roll between the patrol. Twist could be an animal to scare the patrol into making a quick decision to run or hide. Just spit balling here. If they hide from the animal and stay hidden, the mice looking for Lavertus could find the patrol. OR actually better yet, If the go off to find a new path and fail the pathfinder roll, they stumble across the Shaleburrow mice looking for Lavertus, who themselves could be pretending to simply be lost and need help. Lavertus would then squirm during the entire interact. The direct approach from the Shaleburrow mice will likely tear the patrol in half between doing what is right and what will likely be their goals of safetly delivering Lavertus to Rootwallow. Lots of different directions to go. Essentially coming up with back ups is key since the end will hinge on how the group reacts and what their beliefs and instincts are.

The result of friend/enemy works, that or a simple contact.

Obstacle 1 failure should introduce a twist, not convince the mice to do something. If you want to force them down the shortcut, use a full conflict. If the mice agree to the short cut, then there’s no test.

Bandits on the road is a fine Obstacle 2. You can definitely decide that the bandits attack and they’re in a fight conflict. Or you could give them options, maybe talking their way out with an argument conflict.

What Beliefs and Instincts can you play on to create a conflict between the guardmice and the merchant over which route to take? You could bring their Goals into the engagement, too. If Gwendolyn orders the patrol to escort the merchant along the most direct route, and he suggests a shady shortcut, it should create controversy. Then use an argument conflict to decide the course of action. If you play your cards right, some of the guardmice might choose to side with the merchant in the argument.

Make the second obstacle a pathfinder test, with different Obs depending on whether the mice went the direct route or the shortcut. If they fail the test, use an animal or weather twist (or simply assign conditions) in order to keep from doubling up on the mice hazard.

Call for a Players’ Turn in Rootwallow. (Are any of the characters from there? If not, you may want to pick a different settlement as the destination). Then you can have the pursuing mice arrive in town and use that to start off a new mission of apprehending the dubious merchant.

James makes a fine suggestion for how to structure the session as well. With whatever you choose, good luck! Be sure to report back afterwards.

Thanks for the advice guys! I’m gonna use ideas from both.

For the first obstacle I’ll utilize the animal twist, which I like. I’ll be prepared for them to either go fight or flight to deal with it, so I’ll make sure it’s not a too dangerous of an animal. Maybe a ground squirrel that is concerned the Mice are getting to close to its food stores and wants to drive them off. If they fail with the merchant than their loud arguing draws the attention of the squirrel who charges in chittering at them to try to scare them away.

It seems like the general consensus is that it’s ok for two mouse obstacles in the mission, so I’ll stick with the Shaleburrow mouse as the second obstacle but I’ll be flexible with how they interact with the patrol. They’ll want the merchant but will try to do it without violence if possible. Depending on how the patrol reacts it will either be an argument conflict or a fight conflict with their goal to take the merchant (by word or by force). I can already see the options for compromise if either side should fail.

I posted my reply before this one was up. This is also a solid plan of action. Too many choices!!

What I like about this plan is it extends the overall arc of the mission. They can complete the initial mission by successfully escorting the merchant, and then have a jump off point for the next mission by dealing with the angry mice from Shaleburrow. I also like the idea that the patrol might be split in which route to take. A little mouse on mouse conflict sounds fun.

As for the players, like I said, they haven’t made characters yet. I can easily change the destination to fit with one of the players home towns/cities. I just chose rootwallow because I needed a merchant antagonist and liked the idea of him bringing silk cloaks as gifts to the guard. He doesn’t necessarily have to be returning home though, he can be on the next leg of his journey (or concerned about returning home since the Shaleburrow mice might be waiting for him.)

In light of this new advice I might swing this way.

Ob 1 will be an argument conflict and Ob 2 will be the pathfinder with the above mentioned animal twist on failure.

Ok, based on feedback, here is my amended mission layout:

Setup: Gwendolyn assembles the newly formed patrol and informs them that she has an important mission for them to conduct. A recent guest of the guard, a merchant by the name of Lavertus has been staying within Lockhaven after bearing gifts of silk cloaks to the guard. While it has been appreciated, Lavertus has been delaying his departure, but Gwendolyn can not afford to feed him any longer (he’s a portly little mouse that eats way more than his share). Gwendolyn has finally convinced Lavertus that he should be on his way by agreeing to see to an escort.

As mentioned above, Lavertus specifically doesn’t want to leave Lockhaven for fear of retribution of some shady dealings he had done in Shaleburrow. Lavertus will be escorted to his next destination in the territories (which will be one of the player’s hometown. Preferably if I have a tenderpaw it’ll be theirs). Gwendolyn will warn the players that since spring has just begun, the pathfinders have not had ample opportunity to clear even the common routes, so the journey will already be dangerous, and that it is important that they use the utmost caution on the road (the implication being to stay on the beaten path. I don’t want to explcitly spell this out though).

Once they’ve set out from Lockhaven and are past sight of the walls the merchant Lavertus will begin talking about how much time he lost in Lockhaven, and that it could be costly for him. He will be subtle at first to try to feel out if any of the patrol mice seem particularly brave or adventurous, but eventually he will stop outright to push the issue (particularly if he feels he has a potential ally).

He will refuse to move from the spot insisting that his shortcut will save them a lot of time, triggering:

Obstacle 1: Conflict versus merchant mouse. Merchant goal is to convince the patrol to leave the road and take a “shortcut” to their destination.

Comrpomises get a bit tricky here, since both sides have (presumably) a clear goal (staying on the road, not staying on the road), but I figure I can wing it well enough. Maybe they stay on the beaten path for a while and then take half of a shortcut, or something to that effect.

Once the conflict has been resolved they set back out to continue their journey which will lead to:

Obstacle 2:

Pathfinder test to (wherever). Ob 3 (if they won the previous conflict and are on the road) or Ob 6 (if they’re bushwacking through a non-existant shortcut. The Ob can be adjusted as necessary based on compromises.

Should they fail the pathfinder test I’ll break in with an animal twist, being an angry ground squirrel who is threatened by the mice who are getting close to his dwindling food supplies. The goal for the squirrel will be to drive the mice off from his territory.

Once the mice have dealt with the squirrel they’ll be able to finish their journey to their location and enter the players turn. I’ll let them poke around town and do what they want. If I can play it right with the merchant they may want to spend a circle test or two to learn more about him. Once their done with their checks I’ll end the session by narrating how a small group of angry mice approach them saying “You, guards! Where is that sneakthief merchant you were travelling with?” and leave off from there for next session.

The follow up mission can involve them tracking the merchant, with a third having them escort him back to Shaleburrow for trial and a fourth possibly to ensure that the merchant has a fair trial.

The patrol doesn’t need their goal to be “staying on the road.” If the merchant (or the merchant’s side) loses, then he explicitly does not achieve his goal. In other words, he will be forced to take the prescribed path. Let the guardmice come up with their own goal, which could lead to an interesting compromise. Likely, this will be something that comes out of roleplay, and can’t be foreseen when planning the session.

Yeah, I totally get that, which is why compromises can get even trickier, since I can’t plan for them. :stuck_out_tongue: I’m used to D&D/Pathfinder which has me scripting everything well in advance, and being able to just say “No, that skill does not work and/or is not applicable here”. I was telling my wife (one of my players) today that this likely be the hardest habit to break for both me, and the players. Specifically handing over the reins to them and letting them have (more or less) complete control on the player’s turn. It may take a few sessions but I think the players will really start to get into it and I’m looking forward to having some of the burden taken off of me in regards to driving the story. I never “railroad” my players, but they tend to prefer a much more linear campaign with clear goals in front of them. I’m intrigued to see how they’ll end up spending checks in the first few player turns.

I received the D&D next playstuff today which is cool, but I can honestly say I’m more excited for this game of MG than I am for the D&D playtest I’m doing on Saturday.

So my first session is complete things went okay. There were definitely some rule questions that we ran into some issues with, but they’ve been addressed by the awesome Daniel H. already.

First a brief introduction to our Patrol:

Logan is an oldfur who had semi-retired from the Guard in the past after having become fed up with the politics and hassle of the “civilized” mouse world. He spent some time living in the wilderness but decided to rejoin the guard after the attempted uprising by Midnight. With the guard being vulnerable he feels that they could use his experience and skills once again.
Rank: Patrol Leader
Belief: I would rather face a threat in the wilderness than a stranger in the cities.
Instinct: When in doubt, listen to my surroundings

Jon is a rough around the edges smith from Copperwood who joined the guard to try to make a name for himself and prove that he can be a hero.
Rank: Guard Mouse
Belief: I will protect all innocent mice.
Instinct: Assess the threat to determine the situation

Nina is a young tenderpaw from sprucetuck who is academic and out of her element in any sort of physical altercation. She joined the Guard to see more of the territories and learn from the experience
Rank: Tenderpaw
Belief: I will pursue knowledge above all else
Instinct: When a threat arises, retreat and monitor the outcome.

The mission started with a tired Gwendolyn explaining that the merchant Lavertus had come to Lockhaven bearing gifts of fine silk cloaks, and while the gifts were appreciated, the portly mouse was eating through their remaining stores from winter rapidly, as well as becoming a bit too demanding of hospitality. Gwendolyn finally managed to convince Lavertus that he should be on his way with the rest of his goods, and that she would provide a guard escort. Gwendolyn assigned Logan this mission as he has just returned to the guard and has Nina to guide. She also requested a trusted mouse, Jon, to join as well to help acclimate Logan back into the guard.

Goals: Logan - Ensure that I do not fall victim to any sort of deception.
Jon - Ensure that no harm comes to the merchant that I am escorting
Nina - Follow my patrol leaders order without question

As they set out the merchant was amicable to the guard, trying to engage them in conversation. Logan had little patience for his endless prattle, but Jon was a bit more gregarious towards him, until the Merchant attempted to garner favour with Jon by promising to ensure he receives a “merchant’s welcome” in Copperwood, which is Jon’s hometown. Jon took exception to the fact that Lavertus thought he could provide a better experience than someone who grew up there. Throughout the conversation Lavertus tried to guide the patrol to a subtle short cut that he claimed would get them there a lot quicker. None of the patrol were biting, as Jon was already put off by the merchant, Logan didn’t want the added risk of going off the trail and Nina, while curious about taking the road less travelled deferred to her patrol leader.

Finally Lavertus put his foot down and insisted that as an honored guest of Gwendolyn, it was his right to dictate the path as they were mere “escorts assigned to him”. Cue the conflict versus Lavertus.

The players rolled well in the disposition so they were confident, and the roleplaying was pretty good. Some of the stuff they used to assist may have been a stretch, but they were engaged and trying their best to be creative so I was a bit generous with the assistance dice. Ultimately they wore the merchant down by pointing out the numerous threats off the beaten path, and insisting that since they were more experience with the wilderness, they should be heeded.

This is where I made one key mistake. In implementing a compromise, I decided that they would take the main road until they got closer to Copperwood, then look for a shortcut. I realize this was bad for two reasons. One, the players won the conflict with their goal to stay on the road, so this compromised their victory, not Lavertus’ loss. The second reason was it didn’t logistically make sense (since the road is straight after the halfway point), although Lavertus had his own reason to want off the road. In retrospect, having the mice become tired or thirsty from arguing so long probably would have made more sense for the compromise.

So they set back out on the path to Copperwood, with Lavertus being grumpy and less talkative with them. I had them make a Pathfinder check at this point (OB 4, since they were taking a partial shortcut. Again, should have been 3 with no compromise). Logan instructed Nina to do the Pathinding test as part of her learning more about her guard duties (which was great) which she failed, getting them hopelessly lost. They stumbled into a clearing and decided it was a good time to take a break and regain their bearings. As they consulted each other for a plan of action, an angry squirrel jumped out; as it was afraid they were trying to steal his food.

The party initially wanted to just run from the squirrel, which I suppose I should have allowed, and since the Squirrel just wanted them gone, it wouldn’t even have been a chase conflict. I decided that since this was supposed to be an animal twist, running didn’t really have the same oomph that I wanted, so I had Lavertus dive into a nearby hidey hole and refuse to come out until the Squirrel was gone. Jon was ready to fight the squirrel but Logan wanted to avoid the entire situation. He was upset with Lavertus as is, and was ready to leave him behind until his patrol mates convinced him otherwise (just through RP, no rolls). Logan wanted to try to convince Lavertus to flee with them before fighting so I allowed a persuader vs. will test, which he failed. At that point they jumped into a fight with the squirrel. The squirrel’s goal was to drive the mice off, the party’s goal was to provide enough of a window of escape for Lavertus to get out of the damned hole.

Nina is not a combatant so she fled to the edge of the clearing, scurried up a tree and began taking notes on the battle while Logan and Jon fought the squirrel. Jon hefted his blacksmiths hammer (which I just treated as an Axe for simplicity sakes) and walloped the squirrel pretty quickly. They drove it off long enough to gather Lavertus and finish their travel to Copperwood; though they were angry at the Merchant for all the trouble he caused (minor compromise from the squirrel conflict).

Once in Copperwood the merchant bid them a curt adieu and took his leave. Cue the players turn. Jon had earned one extra check in the argument with Lavertus (he used his independence trait to push the other mice out of the argument and handle it himself) so he started. He spent some time visiting friends and family to try to erase the anger he felt towards Lavertus. Success!

Logan was still too angry at Lavertus, as he represented everything he hates about city mice, so he decided to spend some time scouting the area, looking for more squirrels. (Failed the scout check, but I didn’t have any negative consequences. What should I have done on this, during the players turn?)

Nina wasn’t angry about the squirrel incident as it was a learning experience for her (didn’t participate in the conflict) and so she decided to try to find an apothecary in town who might be able to teach her more about the local flora and fauna (circles check, failed. Also no consequences. Thoughts?)

Jon spent his second check by joining Logan in his scouting, now that his spirits were raised. (Same as the other two, fail, no consequence).

After the players had spent their checks, we finished the session by having the angry group of Shaleburrow mice approach and accuse the patrol of aiding the shady merchant escape shaleburrow justice, and demand that they do something to make up for it.

This is where things could get potentially dicey. Logan’s player already told me OOC that he doesn’t like city mice, and this attitude is directly why. His logic is that the shaleburrow mice should deal it with it their selves, and leave the guard out of it. In character, it fits, but from my perspective, with the Guard already suffering losses from the rebellion in 1152, they need to re-enforce their reputation amongst the territories, not jeopardize it more. I think what I want to do is have the Shaleburrow mice enlist the town guard from Copperwood to arrest the guard, and then make next sessions Mission to convince the Copperwood council to let them go. I figure a negotiation conflict (basically a trial) to start and then maybe a storm hits Copperwood, so a complex test to try to assist the town. This gives them a bad start but a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of the town. It also gives the merchant some time to get ahead of them, so they can pursue him as mission 3?


Go for it!