Question about improving Wises

If a player makes a test using a skill, and brings a wise in to play, does the wise also get marked with a Pass or Fail toward advancement?

Otherwise, are Wises generally advanced in the same way that skills are - by having Tests use them? (“Lets see if you can figure out where the squirrel’s den is - who’s got Squirrel Wise? Roll it!”)

It seems that there’s mention of adding a new Wise at rank 2 during Winter Session, but I don’t see any other mention of Wise improvement.


You have to roll it on its own to improve it.


Hello. I am new to MG, but I have run 3 sessions with my family so far and everyone is very excited about it.

My question is, can a few of you offer up some examples of OB1 or OB2 wise tests?

I know the grading system on p 255, but was wondering how players phrase these types of questions. Do you have an interesting example from your game?


I use this table for my Wises Obs

really interesting and likely Ob1
likely or interesting Ob2
completly unlikely Ob 3

something like that. I am more inclined to give them lower Wises Obs since Mouse Guard encourages you to have more low level wises.

Hi there.

Ob 1: Who rules Lockhaven? (Gwendolyn, matriarch of the Guard); what kind of people live there (the Mouse Guard and skilled and trustworthy mice invited by the Guard)
Ob 2: What are Lockhaven’s major trades? (textiles, weapons and armor, prepared foods, honey and wax)

Ob 1: Are weasels intelligent? (yes, they have language, culture and technology)
Ob 2: Where do weasels live? (the Darkheather, along the Southwest border of the territories)

This is a bit outside of the question, but could be good to think about.

If your group runs into Wise tests often on its own (maybe you spend a lot of time in Lockhaven, or near the scent border, or dealing with weasels) then the Wises will tend to level up organically.

If your group is like mine, maybe the Wises tend not to show up as tests at all. My group would rather get skill advancement on their Boatcrafter than their Stream-wise. So the Wises end up aiding other rolls often, but don’t get tested themselves very often. This is okay, because Level 2 Stream-wise and Level 6 Stream-wise add the same +1D to a Boatcrafter test.

So if you are having a hard time thinking of good Wise tests, it doesn’t hurt to just leave it be and treat your Wises as nice self helpers. The system works pretty well with Wises. If they come up a lot, they level. If they don’t come up a lot, they’re still useful and don’t need to level. (As long as your group is okay with a half column of 2’s on their sheet next to the Wises)

Well you still can test wises on your own to establish facts.

I’ve heard this and read a few examples. This is the type of wise test I was asking for clarification and examples of.

Can a player say, “I am going to use my Snapping Turtle-wise to predict that this beast will get thirsty in roughly 1/2 hour and need to get some water to drink.” Then roll against a wise test, if passing making his prediction a fact?

If it’s likely, reasonable, and seems fun on its face: Ob 1.
If it’s unlikely, unreasonable, or it being untrue would be more fun: +1 ob for each, +2 if you need a very before the word.
If it’s absurd, insane or should just plain fail, +3 ob per each.

But he still succeeds with a twist or a condition… the twists will be entertaining.

Thanks, all. I think I get it.

Wises are difficult to advance in Mouse Guard. Players have to be proactive about generating information in the PT, otherwise they typically act only as bonus dice.

This bugs me a little bit, because someone with a ton of knowledge about a subject and someone with incidental knowledge about a subject are equally useful. They both more or less grant +1D to some other skill test.

In practice, a mouse will have a 2 or 3 in any given Wise. I’m sure there’s some path through recruitment that ends up with a higher one, but it’s not terribly common. Usually wises are unique per character, too.

Yes, which means Wises as skills are silly. They don’t need to be skills, because they are “helpers,” either present or not. Their level doesn’t matter.

But helping is not all you can do with a wise. They can give you great narrative control if you want to have it.

The level does matter, because wises can be used to overcome obstacles in your path, by creating new landscape features in the Territories. And sometimes, the obstacles can get pretty high. Here’s an example:

Gamemaster: The River is swollen from the spring rain, with dangerous currents. But you must cross it to get to Barkstone.

Mouse Guard Player: You know, I think there’s a place to Ford the river nearby. My River-Wise should be able to find it.

Gamemaster: This isn’t a particularly well known stretch of water (+1 Obstacle) and the spring rain has changed the landscape (+1 Obstacle), so Obstacle 3.

Mouse Guard Player: Good thing I have a 4 in that Wise.

A failure could indicate that the Ford is found, but proves difficult to cross, leading to a Tired condition. Or maybe the Ford has a stranded mouse Merchant on it, asking the Guard for help in getting his stuck wagon across, as a twist.

I’ve actually used Wises as part of a complex obstacle to grant more than just the typical +1D helpers that it usually gives. (As a disclaimer, I don’t know if this would technically be considered best practice, but I had to come up with something on the fly and it seemed to work.)

What happened is that we had a bunch of mice attempting to sneak into Ivydale, which was under the control of a splinter faction of potentially hostile Guardmice. In my setting, there was a large open space outside of the settlement, and the patrol was in the treeline, preparing to try to cross. One of the mice had Open Spaces-wise 2, so he asked how that could help. I thought about just using it for the one helper die, but I imagined that he was analyzing the terrain from his relatively safe cover. So what I did was to allow him to roll two dice as a separate test to find the optimal path. Each success would be added to the mice’s Scout to cross the ground undetected. What I did warn him, however, was that if he rolled both as failures, he would “misread” the terrain and it would create a +1 Ob to the Scout test. He ended up rolling two successes and described an almost imperceptible dip that ran through the field off to the left, which would actually shield them from the line of sight most of the guard towers, most of the time.

I’ve had some spectacular uses of wises as declarative narrative generation. Players using them to “know” when rebels will attack, how many are in a given cell, whether or not Lockhaven’s captain is one of them…

I stand corrected! Those are awesome uses of wises. So far I’ve never had any players do anything other than “Oh I guess I can get +1D from a wise.” Now I can poke and prod them with other ideas.