Players volunteering checks in the GM Turn...

Question setup:
I tried the “Deliver the Mail” mission. The players failed the pathfinder test and got twisted to the Raven. Upon describing the scene and just before the encounter with the raven, one player wanted to scout the hole to make sure it was clear…

I rolled with it, what would you have done?
It’s where games become interesting and that’s the whole purpose of a game but how does it factor in the “Mouse Guard” way to frame scenes, the obstacle being trumped and all…

Totally up to you as the GM. Personally I would have allowed the scouting roll, as it makes sense to me in that situation.

He wanted to interject a roll between the failure and the twist? I would have described him scouting and hand the raven burst in on him.

Why? Because it’s action. Being surprised by a raven sets up the next situation with a powerful bang. Scouting a hole is not terribly exciting and not explicit about what happens next. Also, ESPECIALLY in this case since we the players already know there’s a raven on the prowl, there’s no new information in that roll. Better to cut out the roll and jump to the action.

Which is what the rules reinforce!

Though I agree with Luke in the example given, I am normally happy to have players volunteer ideas for rolls as it generally means there is an opporuntity for more twists and conditions. However, there has to be some meaning to the success if you allow the roll, which isn’t the case of the above Scout roll example.

I agree with most of what’s been said and I also would like to point out that quite a few GMs seem not to be in synch with the Luke’s vision of the game. Allowing the roll now interferes in the game mechanics wich are so vital to this kind of game. After all, it was designed for that purpose.

On the other hand, the player has 2 main reasons to perform these kind of actions.

First for personal satisfaction of having thwarted the enemy. It always leaves a bad taste in the mouth when the GM describes something and you have no choice but to accept it. You know you would have been more cautious then that! This stems from the fact that in other games, the only power the players have over the game in terms of mechanics are the dice rolls. If you don’t get to roll, it’s GM fiat, why not just go see a movie or read a book then… But after playing MG for a while, I’m sure the players will welcome the conflicts and tribulations it produce.

The second reason is for the suspense of that one roll. If there is something in the hole and you fail the roll, the situation becomes that more dire but if you succeed, then you get either to move away from the conflict (which you probably don’t want to in MG) or get the drop on your enemy, alleviating much suffering in the long run.

Here I’m starting to see the pattern that I was looking for in all my questions so far. The GM turn is ACTION. When I first read that reply I was… “If that game is only action, action, action, then where is the down time, but also, this is for action freaks! (insert unnamed game title here…)” But then I realised that the player turn is often where things come back down a little and you get air to breath. I’m a GM who likes to depict nice scenes where the people get to wind down after a while, now I know where to put it :slight_smile:

I think you missed the point. If a dice roll doesn’t add anything then the GM shouldn’t call for a roll, such as a case as the further Scout roll to see if there is actually a Raven or not (when this has already been established). Otherwise its simply deception to hide the GM Fiat.

What is being suggested here is that a roll has been made and the Raven is in play. Let the result of that first roll ride and play out the consequences. As a GM you shouldn’t try and emasculate the risks the player took by asking for yet another dice roll that really adds nothing to the scene.

From this POV, MG is actually much more honest than most traditional RPGs IMO. I think this also impacts your other comments on the transparency of the system. In a traditional RPG a GM is forced to hide things from their players in an effort to create an appropriate illusion. MG tries to bust some of that by having the consequences of actions and the impact of decisions be known by everyone. As a GM, this honesty can actually be refreshing and make the job easier and more fun IME.

On the other hand, if there is something to be added by the dice roll in terms of a success and failure then you should definitely have them roll. For example, I had several player volunteered rolls in my last session (

Calling for a roll with no real consequences may create an illusion of suspension but it doesn’t actually create suspension. If it is done too many times, then that suspension is lost. I have played many Call of Cthulhu games where a GM calls for Spot rolls and influences play simply by calling for more or less. As such, I can tell from the rolls called what outcome the GM is rooting for and loose all suspension.

The failed Pathfinder roll had suspension as it had real risk associated with it. Unless a Scout roll adds substantial further risk, then all you are doing is rolling dice for no real reason. Personally, I think its better to let the scene play.


I won’t post your entire reply but first, you separated my 2 points which are meant to build one upon the other. I separated them so it is presented in a clearer way.

But just for argument’s sake, the spot check is not something I asked for to give a false sense of suspension. It is something the player asked for his own sense of suspension. I don’t like to take that away from my players. Also I would never go back and just ask for a roll if the presence of something had been established… that’s just lame. My player said that: “Before revealing something like that, could you (the GM) present the situation of the night getting close and of finding a whole in a tree, the I (the Player) could have suggested the scout roll before you (the GM) disclose that it is empty or there is an occupant”.

On top of that, it could bring very real benefits in term of getting the drop (and possibly some bonuses) in the resulting conflict. Imagine if instead of presenting the situation with the tree hole and shelter for the night, I would have said: “There’s a Raven near, you can hear it, let’s make a versus test with scouting to see who spots the other first!” (a thing wich I’ve seen used in the book as a starting obstacle and even as a twist). So it simply comes down to presentation I think. Maybe, knowing my players, I should have slided in that scout roll that way as a twist before getting into the conflict. What do you think?

This helped me a lot though!
You said: “The failed Pathfinder roll had suspension as it had real risk associated with it.” I realised that failing a roll twists something but that something is or should be more “dangerous” then the previous situation :). I had read it in the book without realising fully what it meant, thanks!

If you could have worked in a cool twist from a fail and a reasonable benefit for the success, then I personally think the Scout roll is fine. My only concern with the roll is that there doesn’t seem to be any real benefit from the success as the Raven has already been introduced due to the fail Pathfinder roll. So even though the player called for the roll, the GM already knows the result. In this case, why roll dice, just jump into the action as Luke suggests.

A situation where a player volunteered roll would be more acceptable is where the player wanted to make a Scout roll to hide from the Raven. This would essentially be an alternative way to avoid the Raven Conflict. It would have been tough to succeed given the Raven’s Nature but there is a very real consequence to success and failure in this case and so the dice do come into play.

Using a similar but slightly different example from my AP was one player asking if they could try and direct the townspeople from the giant turtle, as an alternative to having to tackling or distracting the turtle head on. This was a reaosnably idea with very real consequences on a success (avoid the immediate danger to the townsfolk) and fail (twist and conditions). Plus it was in response to pressure.

In my experience, players ask for rolls like this to get some kind of advantage against a problem the GM is presenting, not to make a situation more dramatic.

Believe me, there’s all sorts out there :wink: