Question on Conflicts and tests

Hi everyone! Ready to run a one off adventure featuring a fight with a Horned Owl! I was thinking to provide something cool for an apiarist to think of trying with her skill: near the conflict, there will be a beehive she might be able to stir up–especially if she manages to get some honey onto the owl!

Here is the question: in the rules, during a conflict, there doesn’t seem to be an opportunity for some basic tests to make this happen apart from the three actions the sides are permitted. Is it possible to interject these three main actions with the occasional individual checks to allow for something like a specific action (targetting the owl with honey and inciting a bee swarm)?

As written, it seems like this could also be considered a maneuver action, but the effect seems a little weak compared to what I envision. Is it alright to adjudicate additional benefits (an extra -1D if the owl is impeded by angry bees?).

I suppose, this might also come into play with many other situations when very specific circumstances would seem to warrant individual tests. If you are disarmed, for example, should you be allowed to test your Health to leap down and retrieve your fallen sword?

Thanks for your help with this!

I think the best you could hope for is for the apiarist to help the hunter with the maneuver. Apiarists handle bees, but hunters handle owls.

Think about it this way: If you could just swap out “Hunter” for “Apiarist”, why would you take “Hunter”?

The MG scripting system is meant to be way way more abstract than, say, Fight! in Burning Wheel. There really isn’t space for “retrieve your dropped weapon” type actions inside the script. Losing your sword in a Maneuver is assumed to include the abstraction of you trying to get it back.


Thanks for the thoughts! I see what you mean. Though with such a limited circumstance as hoping there were bees in the vicinity for such a trick, I doubbt anyone would seriously consider the skill swap!

In the specific example I posed though, I also thought of another ay to do it: there is an actual Bee listing in the Denizens chapter. Perhaps they can be allowed as allies for a round or two. They’re not too powerful, but it might be useful.

As for the abstract nature of the scripting, I would imagine a GM may allow a weapon retrival in a subsequent round of actions that would include a Maneuver? Does that make sense?

You could let her set it up as tools/supplies for the conflict.

Tools/supplies is a good solution, too. Kind of a conditional ongoing advantage die (in BW-speak) that you can lose.

Great idea! I had considered that but was confused as to the timing if the action occurred during the middle of the conflict rather than being pre planned. I guess it could be set up via a Maneuver that grants a tool/supply if successful.

You all think the picking up the disarmed weapon is feasible with a successful new maneuver? Is that all part of the “scripting”?

if you are part of a team and each member is taking actions, I’m more prone to allow a single mouse of hte group to recover their weapon if I’ve disarmed it. since they are all trading off actions in the conflict, the mouse can recover it between sets of three actions much like they could swap weapons at that time.

if you are fighting alone it might be made harder. i might be inclined to require a maneuver to recover the disarmed weapon, but generally, if it is already a fight of one mouse in a conflict, it is more likely the conflict will conclude quite quickly. i would be less inclined to allow the recovery of a weapon in the midst of the conflict unless it is starting to drag on too much.

on the other hand, it might be a duel in which the opponent would allow you to recover your weapon as a formal ettiquette of honor in dueling.

Wow. I just thought in a Metal Gear Solid 3 kind of villain: a mouse apiarist with an army of angry bees. Thanks for the idea. ;D

Someone once told me that if you are the victim of a successful maneuver action you can describe it as if you’ve lost your weapon and recovered it. (That’s the -1D to your next action for example.) A disarm means that you could not recovered your weapon (maybe it’s fell through a crack or something) and if you finish the conflict with a compromise maybe you must to test to recover your lost sword or whatever.

Thanks for your replies and suggestions! As always, things are most fun when you can interpret them as they make the most sense to you and your group. I like the free-for-all scripting of Mouseguard. In the end, its up to each GM to adjudicate the story for its highest entertainment value. Appreciated!

Another thought: If you were to script a Maneuver against an NPC and decided to take the “disarm the opponent” option, and the GM later re-armed the NPC, would you feel like that was fair or unfair?

Unless the opposing NPC had multiple weapons to begin with, and was simply switching to a new one, I’d think it was quite unfair to turn my 3-point ‘lose a weapon for the rest of the conflict’ into a 1-point ‘impede the next action’ situation.

Unless the opponent had previously been described as having a second weapon, I’d be quite annoyed at losing the effect of my Maneuver action by having the most expensive (and explicitly conflict-long) effect suddenly become temporary.

I would only think it was fair if the GM had a successful Maneuver of his own that managed grant him an extra 2D (Gain Position)–or perhaps in lieu of the 2D advantage?

At any rate, we just got through playing the adventure versus the Great Horned Owl, Grimolga. The winged beast caught the two-mouse patrol while they were searching her nest, within the cavernous hollows of an enormous oak tree. The Patrol Leader wisely chose to flee down the winding dark chasm within the bowels of the trunk. The owl gave chase, scrambling in the tight confines, hoping to trap the mice.

In the Chase conflict that ensued, there was a moment that I described how the apiarist Patrol Leader, Antoinette, saw a small beehive attached to the interior trunk wall. She used this information to describe how she swatted the hive with her sword, waking the bees, and threw the pot of honey at the owl behind her. I allowed this description to work with her Maneuver (during a Chase, maneuvers account for dirty tricks). After a successful roll (margin of 5!), the Mice garnered 2D bonus to their next roll, a -1D for the owl, and (I adjudicated here) a permanent 1s thanks to the swarming bees!

In the end, they tapped Nature and used their Fate with an Attack and, despite being brought down to 3 Disposition, managed to hit the Owl for an amazing 13 points! They found a crevasse and dove through, dropping to the ground far below with only moss to break their fall. They were Tired and Injured, but escaped the dreaded Grimolga!

I think the bees helped and added to the story. I think the permanent 1s was not too much of a rule break, if at all.

I have to eat my words! I ran a game session last night in which the party fought a raven. Over the course of the combat, the raven pulled a disarm on the halberd weilding guardmouse in one set of actions then attempted a second disarm against the archer patrol guard in the following set of actions (yet failed).

When speaking of how to recover the weapon, I didn’t hesitate, “You’d probably need to simply wait until the end of combat to recover that, but I might allow a maneuver to recover the weapon instead of disarm the raven.”

The patrol leader pulled his bottle of brew and gave that to his mate as a makeshift club between action sets.

Exactly! Disarm states that you lose the advantage of a weapon for the remainder of the combat. The actual implementation of this should be done through the fiction/narrative that you and your players create, but it should never be something that allows the weapon to just be simply picked up again in a subsequent action within that same combat. Having the weapon knocked too far away to conveniently grab, lodged in (or up) a tree, knocked into a deep crevasse, or something along those lines usually makes sense.

Bear in mind that your mice can still fight without weapons, they just do so without the additional +D and +s advantages that they bring. I would probably allow my players to use something like a jug as a makeshift club, for purposes of describing their attacks, but would probably not allow them any additional dice for it.

One other thing: how would you script disarming a raven? Or any other animal for that matter? Is it a matter of injuring its talons or whatever natural weapons they bear? In the Chase I described above, I just awarded the other two Maneuver benefits: Impede and Gain Position. I wasn’t sure if you could disarm anything in a Chase.

Those are both good options, sure. Or narrate a situation in which the "weapons " aren’t useful any more: the owl lands so it can’t use its talons any more, or whatever.

Thanks folks! You’ve all been very helpful!

You can disarm in just about anything where someone has a weapon that applies.

Don’t forget that most of the critter weapons listed are for fights, not chases… so some chase appropriate weapons should be awarded them… wings should be +2D or some such; fast and agile maybe +3D. Eagles and Falcons probably should get a bonus die for exquisitely good sight and owls for hearing.

And any bonus of such can be nerfed.

Nip a flight feather, and the wing no longer is that much an advantage.

Mud or sand in the eyes disarms exquisite vision.

Cut the feathers that form the sound channel for those owl ears, and those are disarmed.

Have the bird peck the rock, and the sore beak is no longer quite the advantage, but one that, like a tool-weapon, could theoretically be recovered.

Being in a tunnel system disarms sight-based advantages of things not in the tunnel.

A house rule…
As for tool-weapons (non-natural ones, such as swords, bows, daggers, etc), I’ve always allowed recovering them with a later maneuver (and 4s on it), but if you fail, it’s not where you can get to it or it’s damaged… Letting it ride. So, if you don’t get the 4s to recover your bow, but got 1s to 3s, the string is broken; if you got 1s to 3s on the sword, the hilt is slick or loose and you can’t wield it effectively. If you failed (0s), it’s out of reach.

Makes for more “realistic” fights, but it’s a bit more tracking.
I’d also allow recovering from that sore beak or dirt in the eyes… at least for crows and ravens…