New to MG, looking for some input.

Hey guys, I’ve been interested in Mouse Guard for a long time, but we’ve never been able to actually play before. It’s always been an issue with interest, to be honest; I don’t know many people, for whatever reason, that want to roleplay as a mouse. I think I’ve finally found a group of people who do, though, and I’d like to write something up that they’re going to be interested in. I’ve got a pretty rough idea for a story, and I was wondering if I could grab some input from you guys?

Essentially, there’s a weather-watching observatory to the South and East of Lockhaven, sort of near the crossroads between Ivydale and Blackrock. It remains staffed during the long Winter months, but only by a handful of science-mice that are dedicated to logging their observations. Now that Winter’s broken, the Guard wants to send our group to the observatory to make sure everything’s okay. They’ll bring along some additional supplies, to help restore what was lost over the Winter. They’ll be bringing along some fragile equipment, including a replacement lens for the telescope, and jars full of a special grease that the science-mice need for the gears inside it.

It’s all pretty basic.

I was wondering if maybe it would be a good idea for the science mice to be dead when the Guard arrives? Maybe long dead. Like, they’ve been dead most of the Winter, but since the trails were all closed, nobody knew until now. The players would then be stuck in a bit of a difficult situation: the Guard needs the reports from this observatory to keep their weather watchers up to date on weather patterns and whatnot, and there is at least one science-mouse in the group that could operate most of the equipment there. Maybe there are some clues as to who might be responsible for the massacre? Do the mice return to Lockhaven and report the incident to their superiors? Do they head to the next town and try to figure things out on their own?

Is this an appropriate opening story?

Is there anything here I’m missing? How can I improve it?

Anything you guys can add would be greatly appreciated.

That sounds like a pretty good opening hook for a campaign. The only thing that seems problematic is the need for your players to make weather recordings themselves. Getting stuck in one location making recordings does not sound like much fun to me, especially when there are crimes to investigate and criminals to catch. However, maybe there are certain recordings that are especially important, and you could give the patrol a one-time Science obstacle (or even a conflict) to make the most critical measurements. Then the patrol can investigate the murders!

How do the characters’ Beliefs and Instincts tie in to the situation at the observatory? Were any of the characters’ relationship mice present among the observatory’s staff? Does one of the characters have a particular interest in weather watching?

Also, be careful with the bait and switch of assigning the patrol to deliver equipment to the observatory and then finding the weather watchers killed. The patrol will write Goals around the mission they’re given, so don’t invalidate those Goals by changing the situation drastically. If you want to have the reveal of the slaughter at the observatory, make the assignment simply finding out why the weather watchers have fallen out of communication with Lockhaven.

Weather observatory is a cool idea, though. I might steal that for a future campaign.

If this is your first time, you might try one of the sample missions first. It will help you get a feel for writing your own missions.

Thanks, guys. As far as the group’s beliefs / instincts go, they’re pretty up in the air at this point. My wife’s made a science-mouse who’s interested in bugs, books, and “making that big discovery”, but she hasn’t finished up her character yet. A friend of mine will be making the patrol leader, and I know he wants him to be an older mouse who’s been doing work for the Guard for a long time, as a scout. Kind of like a ranger, I guess? He told me he wants his character to primarily have worked on his own, up until this point. Now he’s in control of a proper patrol, and he’s got a lot going for him, but it’s also awkward because he’s so accustomed to only looking after himself. That’s all I know about him, at this point. His girlfriend plans to play as well, and has also indicated she’s interested in being a “science-mouse”. That’s all the info I have on her, though.

[edit] Oh, I also have an NPC character, I guess. He’s a character I wrote up to play myself, but since I’ll be the story-teller, I feel like I can still use him to introduce plot points and stuff. His name’s Angus, and he’s a generous and hard-working, but fat, little mouse from Appleloft. He doesn’t have a lot of self-confidence, unfortuntely. He’s in love with his childhood friend, a girl named Clover, and even though it’s obvious to everyone else that she loves him, too, he just doesn’t see it. He simply doesn’t have enough self-confidence to recognize that a pretty and smart girl like Clover would be interested in a mouse like him. He’s got it in his head that he has to be big and brave and strong to win her heart, so he’s decided to join the Guard. Unfortunately, he’s pretty awful with a weapon, and he’s not particularly brave. I plan to introduce him as the group’s Tenderpaw.

I’m okay to write my own story, to be honest. I’ve been a story-teller / DM in D&D, Vampire, Shadowrun, etc, and I’m totally comfortable writing my own stuff. I just want to make sure the idea fits into the world of Mouse Guard, basically. I see where there might be some conflict with personal goals in this case, but, how does something like that resolve? I don’t think the whole idea of bringing some gear to people, only to find out they’re dead when you arrive is too out of the ordinary, you know?

In mouse guard you don’t write your own Story. You make a framework from which the Story develops in Play by you and also strongly the players

The role of game master in Mouse Guard is to create missions that challenge the characters’ Beliefs and Instincts. Planning missions will be difficult if these elements haven’t been defined. It also make playing a character alongside the patrol hard. Being the person who generates the game’s adversity and the person who resolves it isn’t much fun.

I highly recommend going through one of the book’s sample missions with the provided characters before recruiting your own guardmice. I’ve done this with everyone I’ve played Mouse Guard with and it’s a helpful exercise in familiarizing yourselves with the game. Sometimes we choose to have future missions with the provided characters; sometimes we make our own and start a new campaign. Either way, it’s valuable.

What Obstacles are you planning on throwing at them? Are they simple tests, complex hazards or full conflicts?

Where are you ending the GM’s turn?

Mr Duck!
I don’t want to make a thing about this. You can run the game however you like. I feel it’s only fair to warn you that Mouse Guard does not play like D&D and its children (Vampire, Shadowrun, etc.). As Praion pointed out, your job in Mouse Guard is expressly not to make a story. Your job is to make heroes out of your guardmice by providing them with a series of difficult and meaningful challenges. It seems like it’s a subtle difference, but in play the results are different.

In D&D, there’s a story either as a result of an accident or because the GM builds rails for one. I love D&D. I play D&D. There’s nothing wrong with this.

In Mouse Guard, there’s a story because the game rules are constructed to produce a story. It will often be an unexpected story, but it will be a story nonetheless. Layering your D&D skills on top of Mouse Guard is unnecessary. You get to do less work in this game and enjoy it just as much.

I hope that’s clear.

I’m sure you’ll have a great time with the game no matter what you choose.

Oh, yeah. I understand how Mouse Guard is different from D&D and other table-top RPGs from a story-teller’s perspective. I get what my role is, and I get how it’s different from what I’ve done in the past. I only pointed out that I have experience “writing stories” and “story-telling” in other games because I do. I’m new to Mouse Guard, not to creative writing or table-top gaming in general.

My $.02 is that the story hook you’ve got is pretty awesome. I’m sure there are ways you can mold the ideas you have around the MG frame. As Luke once told me: MG takes different muscles than D&D. Flex 'em!

Most of the characters are finished now, or nearly there. I know a lot more about everyone’s Beliefs and Instincts, and I’ve decided that I won’t have a character involved with the party (if only to avoid splitting into 2 groups every Conflict). I’m hammering out my obstacles and everything now, and I’d already be finished if E3 weren’t on this week, lol. I’m hoping to have almost everything finished tomorrow, in which case, I’ll post it all here (or maybe in another thread) for critique. Thanks for the input, guys.