Quick question about skills and character creation:

I’m building a few NPCs to use in a game I’ve just started, and I’m running into a bit of a snag during character creation. The question, “What kind of experience do you have in the Guard” has options that are a little confusing. There’s a list of skills that players can choose from, and then it states that “Tenderpaws may consider Laborer part of the above list”, “Guardmice may consider Haggler part of the above list”, “Patrol Guards may consider Cook part of the above list”, and so on. My question is whether or not a mouse of higher rank may consider skills available to lower ranked mice open to them, as well; can a Patrol Guard consider Haggler part of the above list? I assume they can, but I just wanted to make sure.

no he can’t

… really? Well, that’s definitely the first rule I’m ignoring in my games, then. I’m piecing together a social character, who’s very persuasive, and a fine Haggler. He’s a veteran of the Winter War, and very quick-witted. I wanted him to be a Patrol Guard, because I can imagine that character doing a lot of independent work for the Guard (negotiations, and the like). Also, he’s from Copperwood, so he’s got a natural independent streak, which fits in well with the Patrol Guard rank. If he’s not capable of dropping points in Haggler, though (outside of selecting Haggler as a Copperwood bonus, or choosing it as something he’s naturally good at), then the whole concept falls apart.

Thanks for the clarification, Praion, but I’m definitely tossing that rule in the garbage.

Character burning is a bitch. But you should be able to at least get a 3 in it and activate Deal-wise

I typically have allowed the skills of lesser ranks to be available to higher ranks in character building. I do say that you ought to be building a character with the group of other mice he’ll be played with. It is not so great to build a character in a vacuum. Your GM may decide there is more to consider about the campaign. The GM ought to have the final word on what rank you can assume, what skills may be selected, and whatever else.

If you feel so strongly that the Haggler skill is of such great importance to the character, you should gain it through Copperwood, Natural Talent, and/or opting for Guardmouse rank. Those choices are absolutely player choices which I doubt a GM would restrict.

I suppose my biggest issue is that it just doesn’t make much sense from a continuity standpoint: a Guard Captain, for example, who stands by Gwendolyn’s right paw, and is invaluable to the Guard for his skill as an Orator and military strategist, likely still knows a thing or two about cooking. He likely hasn’t forgotten how to haggle, you know? This character was once a Tenderpaw, like every other fresh-faced recruit, and likely broke his back doing general labor for the Guard. But unless he’s naturally talented at Labor, his experience isn’t reflected on the character sheet.

I mean, I’m no stranger to House Rules or anything. I don’t have any issue with simply ignoring this particular rule. I just think it’s silly.

It is a matter of character balance than a rule to make sence. If there were no advantages for taking a lower ranking mouse why would you? And as mentioned above there are ways around this small issue.

You have to have incentives for players to want to take a mouse of lower ranks. There can only be one Patrol leader and all the rest of the players would feel burned if you change the character creation too much. So be careful on how much you change.

Make characters is about choises. That means that sometimes you must to make sacrifices. You can’t have your concept right every time.

However, why the book says: “Captains may ALSO consider Orator, Militarist and Administrator”?

I never worry about continuity, but your Guard Captain can still cook without the skill, using the beginners luck rules. He’s fine at scratching up a meal, but cooking for the patrol gets hard. Which makes it’s own kind of sense.

And, even if he fails that just means he’s angry or tired, or something more important happened. The dude is able to cook. You’re Patrol Guard is able to haggle the same way.

Ah, but you fall into a huge pitfall here. This is not a continuity matter. It is a game design matter. In this case, the designer made a choice not chained to story: a player may select from the given skills according to rank selected.

The Guardmouse is the rank and file–there should and will be plenty throughout a campaign or three. The Patrol Guard is suited to independent missions–a great choice when there is only a GM and PC or GM and two PCs. The Tenderpaw is a raw recruit, more informed by his/her family and youth than by service–this is not a rank for learning the game; it is a rank for making a story. The Patrol Leader is needed in every patrol and their rarity among the Guard is felt–the player behind a PL may feel disconnected from time to time since the lower ranks will pull more tests for advancement.

If you look at it from a story perspective, it is confusing to imagine that in making rank, the skill was lost. If you look at it from a game perspective, it is a player choice which character concept can be supported and how.

In addition, the GM may well agree that a PL still retains the Labor, Cooking, and Haggling of earlier times in his/her service. Instead of the experience being reflected on the character sheet, it can be reflected in the story regardless.

In an example of play, my Tenderpaw was asked to lead the patrol as Pathfinder over a few weeks’ travel. The dice rolled out a fail; however, the GM reflected that each patrolmate had a Pathfinder of 3 or more, and my Mentor had specifically asked me to do it for learning. It would be silly to imagine the other patrolmates and my mentor wouldn’t step in to make corrections in my Pathfinding during the trip. SO, the twist was not that I got the patrol lost in the woods (since the others would have quickly corrected my mistake); the twist was that an otter found us a tempting play-toy and intercepted us along the totally correct path.

Don’t fall into the pitfall that the game and the story must be equal. It is not ‘longer life indicates more experience and thus higher stats’. At the time of character creation, the player establishes what is most important to fulfill the character concept, including sacrifices to get what they most want for their concept.

I interpreted it as an artefact of setting history. Today’s Patrol Leader may not be a decent Labourer, and today’s Tenderpaw maybe is. But back when he was a tenderpaw things were done differently. Maybe back in those days some other skill was emphasised for tenderpaws.

I don’t think anyone can say “This is the way it works now, therefore this is also the way it worked three decades ago”. There’s all kinds of context that it has to coexist with.

I don’t think that wanting your character to have higher numbers is a good reason to change the rules. You can give your mouse haggling through other means. The number may not be as high, but all you have to do to increase it is use it! That’s what I love about Mouse Guard. If you want to improve at something, just do it! You don’t have to kill 50 orcs to improve your thievery skills.

Meh. It really isn’t about wanting my character to have high numbers, it’s about wanting my characters to have numbers that reflect his experience. If I wanted to be a Fighter, I could choost that skill as something my Mentor emphasised, I could select it as many times as I wanted during the Guard experience section, and it could even be my specialty. Whenever I end up making any mouse, it always ends up with more in Fighter than I feel like it should, because I have the opportunity to put points into it at almost every turn.

But if I don’t want a particularly martial character? If I want someone with some social skills? Outside of being ranked as a Guardmouse, I have only two opportunities to increase my Haggler: Be from Copperwood (what if I don’t want him to be?) and pick Haggler as the skill in which you’re naturally talented. And if I pick it as something I’m naturally talented in, that means I can’t be naturally talented in Persuader or Deciever. So … my social character’s going to have the bare minimum in either of those (and he can’t have both).

I’m disregarding the rule because it doesn’t make any sense, and because the current system completly shifts characters toward martial archetypes, while turning them away from social archetypes.

I just did my damnedest to create someone skilled in the art of negotiation: he ended up with 3 Haggler, 2 Persuader, and 5 Fighter. When I started writing him up, I imagined him having no higher than a 2-3 Fighter. In the end, Fighter turned out to be his highest skill and his specialty.

That makes no sense.

But you chose to make Fighter his specialty.

Let me try something

Patrol Leader from Copperwood

Haggler 3
Deciver 3
Persuader 4
Archivist 3
Instructor 2
Survivalist 2
Hunter 3
Loremouse 4
Pathfinder 3
Scam-Wise 2
Deal-Wise 3
Merchant-Wise 2

Circles 5 !!!
Ressources 5
Independent, Extrovert, Clever

what about these stats? okay for you? Able to scam or haggle with a merchant and talk to animals too.

The most he had in any of the other skills that he could specialize in was 1.

Didn’t make a lot of sense for something so low to be his specialty.

That’s very near to exactly the kind of character I’m trying to create.

It’s a burning game, you shouldn’t get the character you want right from the gate…

What is missing from the concept? Fighting power?

I think there’s a disconnect somewhere here. I don’t want something that’s perfect right out of the gate. What I want is a balanced character creation system: if Player 1 wants to have a martial character, who can help the group during Fight Conflicts, his mouse can max out Fighter or Hunter skills during character creation; if Player 2 wants to have a stealth character, who can help the group along with Journey and Chase Conflicts, his mouse can get really high scores in Pathfinder, Scout, etc; if Player 3 wants to have a social character, who can help the group along with Argument and Negotiation Conflicts, he can … have 3 in Haggler and 2 in Persuader, if he’s from Copperwood, and if he chose Haggler as the skill he’s naturally talented at.

… ?

If he chooses to be a Guardmouse, he can have more points in Haggler (but his Will, the base for Argument and Negotiation Conflicts, is the second lowest in the game). If he chooses to be a Patrol Leader (let’s hope somebody else didn’t already snatch that rank up), he can have more points in Persuader (but he can’t increase Haggler beyond 2 + 1).

No other player had to jump through those kinds of hoops to have the mouse they wanted at character creation. Everyone else can be exactly the way they wanted to be, “right out of the gate”.

What do we learn from this? Being a social mouse is hard, there are more important jobs to do as a Guard Mouse. You are a ranger, a trailblazer a predatorfighter but not a diplomat. Good diplomats are hard to find in the Guard.
Your job normaly is not to Haggle for stuff but to protect the caravan of the guy that haggled.

The Guard are not for talking