We’ve just had an intense fall and with winter upon us we’ll be staying in and having a winter session. Normally when preparing a game I’ll lay out the rough details of obstacles and conflicts, NPCs, locations as well as brainstorming on how adapt if the players take the mission in a new direction.
But the winter session seems to be much more open ended than a regular mission, giving players the run of Lockhaven and creating their own tests and with the reflection on character performance directing the action.
So how do you guys find it’s best to prepare for winter sessions? Right now I’m thinking I should have a few NPC archetypes roughed out that can become a scientist or smith or guardmouse as needed. Does going linearly through the sections (recovery, pracice, reflection etc) work well or should I perhaps prepare a list of the actions they can take during the winter session and let players go check items off at their own pace? At the very least I’ll be making a copy of the traits, wises and skills so they can see what’s available to them.
What are these for? I haven’t found the Mice of the Territories, which starts on page 193 in the denizens chapter, lacking for on-the-fly use in any of the sessions I’ve run.
Go through the steps in the winter session in order, like it says to do on page 158. As GM, the I’ve found it most important to prepare for the reflection section by reviewing my notes from the preceding missions. Other than that, the players contribute a lot to the winter session, especially their characters’ unfinished business, so like any Mouse Guard session, don’t go overboard on prep.
The Winter session, I feel is the best method of illustrating the course of growth from the play sessions. I’ve found that incomers from D&D are able to easily assimilate the session as though it is a “leveling up” session. This helps associate something more familiar (if needed).
Like Daniel, I do little preparation for the course of a Winter session. Although, I did have a fun time once by placing the patrol in a mate’s hometown of Lillygrove as his parents were having an engagement ball for him in their boatcrafting warehouse. The entire patrol spent the winter with the family prior to the Yulefrost ball. It was a really fun session in which I could include the patrol’s most recent friends and enemies as well as the Enemy of the mouse whose parents hosted the patrol.
Similarly, I reread notes and/or transcripts from missions of the year to get ideas of traits I’d like to push/pull of patrol mice.
Initially, I would echo the encouragement to follow the text of the book closely with respect to the order presented. Perhaps as the players get more accustomed, you could have a checklist of each item which must be fulfilled; allow the players to simply report on activities and mark the checklist. If a player hasn’t completed a checklist item, identify it for them to cover.
I’ve not started to do that with players yet, so I’m not speaking from experience. Moving through the steps can give the impression that they are taking things in that order, so remind players that the steps are not chronological in-game–it is simply a logical out-of-game presentation of the tasks they are allowed to conduct.
The Winter session provides the players a great chance to drive their agenda quite solidly into new twists for the coming year. Don’t stand in the way with textbook step-by-steps if the players are really getting the spirit of it.
Perfect, thank for that. That’s all I need to hear. ^^
Oh and by archetypes I just mean notes for personality types - which is usually just a name, a couple of descriptive words and a voice style. Just in case I struggle with coming up with a character on the fly, I can turn these notes into a baker or mayor or guardsmous as needed. The denizens chapter is great and fills in everything else I need.
That’s cool. Usually I just take a name from page 309 and look at the mouse’s Traits for roleplaying clues. But if you’re making notes on voice style, I’m guessing we have different methods of preparing for sessions.
Yeah, I’m always in awe of my actor friends who seem to be able to produce fully formed characters at the drop of a hat. I’m not quite there yet - so I do a bit of thinking in advance. ^^
^______________^; (I personally completely dig the amazing characters you place in game Squeaks!)
Instead of just presenting a book-standard archetype, it feels so organic and personalizing. (I took that cue from you to pair up; fur colour, ‘sounds like’, obvious drives/tendencies with the other stat-info.)
*tis why the name-horde pages I have iz so useful too~!
Something I’ve found with each game passing is that all the key NPCs that come up in those slowly accumulate into ‘denizens’ (but flavoured for each area) can move around freely in the world. Totally why I write them down in my separate character bookie, always there to flip back to~
…and we are going to have to go over again how Winter ‘level up’ mission run (As I still haven’t done onea’ those yet~!) when we finally have that super wanky ‘GMs plotting by candle-light’ evening some time in the near future :>
Hah, this is more of a private conversation - but we can totally go over that if you like. I think the Winter misson was pretty straight forward. In the end I just ran each bit in the order the book presents it and it played out like one great big players turn. So I think I just tried to keep things going with the flavour text to make it feel like you were really exploring the nooks and crannies of Lockhaven.