Other Animal Languages

Hello everyone…

When I finish reading Winter 1152, I noticed Black Axe (Celnawe) talked to the Owl and translate it for his companion in a dramatic scene.

Black Axe: Hoot Hoot*
Horned Owl: Hoot Hooot*
Liam: What she said?
Black Axe: This will end in death!

In another cool scene, we saw the hares discussing about their allies and Kenzy remind then they can understand their language and ask politely for help.

So, it´s clear to me that all animals in the Mouse guard universe are able to talk, but they had different languages and cultures (like the Bats who scort the soul of a dead companion to the skys). I want to know what Guardmouse skill is used to understand and speak those obscure languages. Their is a Wise that could came up to stablish such communication between mouse and other animais?

I ask this because Liam doesn´t understand the Owl and was surprised by the Black Axe knowledge of suxh thing but Kenzy is proficient with languages… Bats talks in common mouse tongue but in a peculiar and frightining way with Saxon.

In terms of MG RPG, that would be Loremouse, possibly with Owl-wise added.

Well, you really right about the Loremouse is the most indicated to do the Animal language aspect of the comics but in general lines the skill said:

Loremice study the ways and habits of animals. Using their knowledge, they can perform rudimentary communications and discern the Nature of the animal.

– emphasis mine –

After this, the communication aspect is said to be a hard thing as below:

Loremouse Factors

Communication (start counting at 2; this is a hard thing): Beasts of feather, beasts of fur, scaly beasts, beasts of water.

Nature: You may read the aspects of a creature’s Nature using the Loremouse skill.

Make a versus test between Loremouse and the creature’s Nature. Success indicates that the GM informs the loremouse of the aspects of the creature’s Nature. Suggested Help for Loremouse: Hunter, Scientist and appropriate wises.

I really like the ideia to use the wise skill to cover this communication issue, but don´t you think that the mechanic of language using Loremouse with one or more animal-wise can be automatic after the first success to stablish some straight forward communication? After all, asking for too many tests to understand each sentence said by a informant Bird will annoy any player who spent one or more skills in linguistic.

I strongly suggest to use loremouse+wise versus rolls in a conflict of Argument with other talking animals in the proper dialect like Kensey did with the hares in the stable.

You roll once to try to communicate with whatever animal you’re interested in trying to communicate with and you have a conversation or exchange. Why would you roll for every sentence?

When the skill said “rudimentary communication”, I understand that you only listen basic ideas or express yourself using simple sentences or common expressions. This kind of conversation is far from the eloquent discussion set between Kenzy and Hares, so I imagine that will be necessery to roll for each sentences if this skill is not complete with any Wise.

Games like Spacemaster and Rolemaster had languages with levels of mastery from 1 through 10 that define how well you are capable to communicate with others. Rank 1 in an language gives you the capacity to speak and understand very basic and rudimentary ideas: “Where is the bathroom?” or “What time is it?”, but the tenth level of mastery you praticaly is fluent and maybe had a deep knowledge of this languange.

I know the Guard Mouse RPG don´t need such thing to make the feel and wonder of the comicbook series, BUT I just need to know what my players will hear and speak if they try to trick a fox to help them to hunt down a wounded Black Bear using the basic loremouse and what they can do if someone had a Fox-wise skill.

I think the challenge will be higher in the first case, right? :wink:

I guess MG doesn’t really allow for conversations, so much as being able to ascertain a creature’s Nature and be able to convey simple things like “Go away” or “We’re just passing through… nothin’ to see here…” or “Carry this gear across the bridge, Mr. Beetle.” I don’t think it’s meant to allow an actual conversation as we think of it, so much as to get across a simple idea.

It’s more like a Ranger’s Animal Empathy ability (D&D) than Low Speech (BW trait).

The few times this has come up in my game, I have either:

a) used loremouse to establish if communication is possible, and then had a conversation


b) established from fictional background that a particular mouse knows another animal language: for example we have one mouse who was held as a slave by weasels for a long time, as a result, he is assumed to speak weasel.

In terms of the comics, the key is how close the other species is to a mouse. small mamals will have ‘accents’ that mice may or may not be able to wade through. Larger mamals could sound like they speak a foriegn language while feathered or scalled creatures could communicaye in ways that sound like nothing more than noises to mouse ears.

The goal in the game was that lore mouse would be the skill and that it wouldn’t be easy…which is why the ‘rudimentary’ line is in there…if any mouse can talk to any…say…badger into doing his bidding, the game falls apart.

This explain a lot and gave me a new way to see the loremouse skill…

Thanks David for the insight!