Questions about sentient animals

Hello! I was out with a bunch of geek friends last weekend, and picked up the Mouse Guard book as an early bday gift for myself. We started playing the next day, and although there were some confusing points (I’ve been gaming for a few years now, but a new system is always slippery), I really only have one question that comes to mind -

Are mice and weasels the only sentient animals?
I know there are other animals, and I’ve looked up some pictures from the comics - while one person in the group swears up and down he’s seen a talking rabbit (and an owl) in the comics, I can’t seem to find anything to support this.

I suppose this raises a few lesser questions, as well - if they are able to speak, can mice understand them, or are there separate languages amongst the animals?

Our GM has poured over the book and claims to have found nothing, but I haven’t read the denizens section completely since I’m not GMing for awhile yet (it’ll be for a different group).

The game is very fun otherwise, and I’d like to thank anyone who answers in advance! :smiley:

There is a talking rabbit in Winter 1152, Chapter 6, around page 6.

From what I could tell, Mice and Weasels are the only civilized species (Towns, weapons, and other such stuff). However some other animals seem to be able to talk, even though sometimes mice don’t normally understand them (The farther from being like a mouse the more different the language). Black Axe talks with the Owl in Winter 1152 and the Bats talk at one point too.(Chapter 4, page 5 and Chapter 3, page 14 respectively)

For the Mouse Guard rules about talking with animals see page 222 in the Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game.

Thank you! I haven’t managed to get hold of the comics (the local store only has a couple issues of Winter), so this info is much appreciated. I also see the small section on communication you mentioned, and it’s very helpful as well.

I know Apophenia’s already pointed this out, but I just thought I’d put up some quotes from the book.

Regarding communication:
“Most animals have no culture to speak of. The mice in Mouse Guard are special. Other animals exist as animals do. The mice may communicate with them, but each animal speaks its own “foreign tongue.” The closer to mousedom the animal is, the easier it is to understand that language. Weasels, like mice, have speech and culture. They are the dark mirror in which the mice are reflected—mice are peaceful and wish to survive, weasels are rapacious and wish to conquer and enslave…Animals are studied by loremice in order to discover their habits, instincts, personalities and how they communicate. If a guardmouse wishes to know something about or communicate with one of these animals, he must make a Loremouse test.” ~222

Regarding loremouse:
“Loremice study the ways and habits of animals. Using their knowledge, they can perform rudimentary communications and discern the Nature of the animal.” ~249

Regarding hares:
“Hares are sapient and peaceful, but they don’t wear much in terms of clothing or use tools or weapons. From time to time, hares and mice ally. The hares allow the mice to use them as mounts and are paid for their services in food or manufactured goods. Not all mice understand hares. These creatures speak softly and with few words. In fact, many mice fail to notice hares even speaking at all. Those that take the time find hares to be spartan, stoic and reserved. There are a few guardmice who have been trained to work with the hares. They have fashioned tack and harness to fit the bodies of hares for riding or towing. It is not easy to ride hares. Unless trained in how to address them, most mice will have no luck getting hares to listen to them, let alone ride on them.” ~213

Hope this helps.

I know Apophenia’s already pointed this out, but I just thought I’d put up some quotes from the book.

Regarding communication:
“Most animals have no culture to speak of. The mice in Mouse Guard are special. Other animals exist as animals do. The mice may communicate with them, but each animal speaks its own “foreign tongue.” The closer to mousedom the animal is, the easier it is to understand that language. Weasels, like mice, have speech and culture. They are the dark mirror in which the mice are reflected—mice are peaceful and wish to survive, weasels are rapacious and wish to conquer and enslave…Animals are studied by loremice in order to discover their habits, instincts, personalities and how they communicate. If a guardmouse wishes to know something about or communicate with one of these animals, he must make a Loremouse test.” ~222

Regarding loremouse:
“Loremice study the ways and habits of animals. Using their knowledge, they can perform rudimentary communications and discern the Nature of the animal.” ~249

Regarding hares:
“Hares are sapient and peaceful, but they don’t wear much in terms of clothing or use tools or weapons. From time to time, hares and mice ally. The hares allow the mice to use them as mounts and are paid for their services in food or manufactured goods. Not all mice understand hares. These creatures speak softly and with few words. In fact, many mice fail to notice hares even speaking at all. Those that take the time find hares to be spartan, stoic and reserved. There are a few guardmice who have been trained to work with the hares. They have fashioned tack and harness to fit the bodies of hares for riding or towing. It is not easy to ride hares. Unless trained in how to address them, most mice will have no luck getting hares to listen to them, let alone ride on them.” ~213

Hope this helps.

Double thanks! I knew about the loremice (just wasn’t sure if they could actually speak to other animals), but the hares bit is new to me. That all sounds very neat. Hopefully today I can wrench the book out of our GM’s grip. :stuck_out_tongue:

Actually, I think it all points to something really beautiful. Mice recognize the trappings of mouse cultures. They recognize their tools, their towns, their languages. They can recognize the culture of the weasels, the animals most closely related to them, but it all seems exotic and foreign. Hares, too; though they speak with an accent, and it seems like not all mice can understand all hares, or vice-versa. Most mice would think that owls have no language, but someone like Celanwe can speak to them.

Putting it all together–it looks a lot like ALL animals have their own culture, in their own way. What changes isn’t what animals have culture, but how closely related they are to mice, and thus, how easily mice can recognize that culture.

It’s interesting that “beasts of feather” are the easiest of the loremouse communication factors.

Mice are clearly intended to be able to comprehend birds easily. And naturally, to befriend and ride noble ducks.

During my reading of MG, I was happily stricken with the following sudden epiphany:

The Territories exist within a Faerie Realm, where Mice and Weasels (and their ilk) were for whatever Fey reason(s) granted sapience; whereas the other animals remain merely sentient.

Mice still have a tenuous connection to their original animal natures, and are thus, with effort or through practice, still able to communicate with other non-sapient animals in an entirely natural and rudimentary fashion: via body language, scent and animal empathy.

Perhaps within this realm of fey, whatever source/entity/cause that imbued Mice and Weasel-kind with sapience, may also slowly be doing the same for other animals - which is why some animals appear to possibly show faintly subtle signs of sapience…

Oh, yeah - forgot to add:

It didn’t take me long from there to run with that idea and conceive of a Mouse Guard hack:

Instead of Mice… Gnomes!

Instead of Weasels… Goblins!

An MG hack set in the fey and focused on ‘the little people’ would be pretty cool - especially if it were filled with the art of Brian Froud!

Example source material:

http://www.amazon.com/Gnomes-30th-Anniversary-Wil-Huygen/dp/0810954982/ref=pd_sim_b_3_img

http://www.amazon.com/Goblins-Brian-Froud/dp/B000FDK7F0/ref=pd_sim_b_4_img

http://www.amazon.com/Brian-Frouds-World-Faerie-v/dp/193378413X/ref=pd_sim_b_1_img

The only place that gnomes exist within the framework of all things Burning is within the belly of a Noble and Heroic leopard seal.

Isn’t that Wil Huygen gnome stuff basically Mouse Guard already? Gnomes living secretly with sophisticated technical arts and imperiled by horrible troll things?

ASIDE: For some reason D&D4 gnomes make me think of space-insects possessing children. Brrr. Creepy-ass art.

… and therein the belly of the Noble leopard seal exists a wondrous realm of Faerie, where busy Gnomes frolic and drink wine amongst the denizens of the Fey Forest.

(c8=

Exactly.

the topic of Burning Gnomes came up here http://story-games.com/forums/comments.php?DiscussionID=10561&page=1#Comment_234281

But not much came of it.

NAY! That is where you are wrong! Search the forums for gnomeworld and read the thread titled “Be Good”. All your questions will be answered!

Colin:

Please stop fucking with my propaganda. Think how much easier it’s going to be for a leopard seal to catch Corey’s gnome friends and thrash them against the water until their pointy hats and trousers are thrown free and they are ready to eat, if he tells them that the “realm of Faerie” is waiting instead of the “realm of digestion.”

Crap, you’re right. The Realm of Faerie is indeed within the belly of the noble leopard seal, and they are naught but happy for it is full of mud and gunk to keep their pants properly dirty and there is vast amounts of snow for the purposes of creating fires.

Not quite sure what to make of all this gnome hate - but I think that I’ll leave this one well enough alone…

…well, except to say: Oooooooooomray

Show us on the doll where the gnomes touched you…

The haaaaatsssssss ;_;