Several Questions bout MG

Hello, everyone!

First time post, but long time lurker~

Anyhow, I’m not a complete stranger to MG itself and currently running my third MG campaign. (First campaign has been slightly rocky, but the story was awesome and the players themselves despite being pushed to their limits enjoyed the story) (Second one was very short lived due to moving away)

Anyhow, I have couple of questions that I need answered due to the players questioning it or suggesting the idea of it that I couldn’t find in the book or I perhaps missed a sentence or two.

In the player phase, can people lend help to one another? For example, a Healer is going to try and heal Injured condition, and there’s another Healer in the group. Can that player get a helping die?

There was an argument based on the trait level themselves (Me vs the group argument) They were saying that level 3 traits is basically useless since it is usable only once, and that level 2 is better due to being able to get literally an extra die every turn (if applicable) in a conflict without it being used up. I tried to emphasis the possible role playing aspect of the level 3 by doing almost an impossible thing, not to mention being able to reroll all failure, but the group has been stubborn insisting that a die per turn better.

Also when it comes to recovering certain conditions, like tired or hungry/thirsty (in the player phase), can one player say I wish to purchase several comfy room for all my team mates (his end goal is to cure tire condition for him and his other team mate) can he do that? He did this before, and I didn’t really thought on how to handle it so I basically did the Resource check being at higher level. But I would like to know how you guys have handled it.

Another thing I’m having difficulty with is the group concept of the player phase: it’s all done in a day while they see GM phase as takes anywhere from a day to a week long. What can I do to make them not think that? Because of that thought process, they do nothing but heal, rest, try to get better gears, haggle and so forth.

I am having a small issue when it comes to conflict with the group. They were asking if death is hard to do (Killing) why would capturing be just as difficult? From that argument, they can just do a goal (if involving mice/weasels/animals) kill so that way they can just do capturing when that was their intention from the beginning. How do you guys deal with this?

In regards to failure, they seem bit fixed on the aspect of margin of failures. Every now and than, when they fail, one or two of the members would ‘remind’ me that the group hasn’t failed that horribly (3 success against OB 4) I told them that the margin of failures applies in very specific situation. But they seem bit discontent with that ruling, saying "If I were doing scout and I failed by one, that should not get my group wandering into an animal territory where it’s certainly dangerous. My thought to this was that, unless the situation states margin of failures, in general a failure is a failure.

Also in the chase conflict, can Nature be used in all 4 actions (Attack, Defend, Feint, and Maneuver) if they are, in this conflict running away from an animal? During this time, they can use weapons by using nature? Like Hook and Line/Bow?

Thanks everyone. I might edit it with more questions but I think that about sum it up for me

oh, oh. Want to answer everything! Give me the weekend! No there is too much; let me summarize some initial points right now then explain with greater detail later.

I the Player Turn (PT) the mice may Help each other in certain ways, and will be bound to the same risk of Success w/ Condition or Twist as the testing mouse. A test to recover cannot be Helped; however, testing to Heal another may be Helped by another trained Healer. I might give additional details after the weekend.

Arguing the value of Traits is a hard topic. I personally like to manage multiple level 1 Traits instead of a single level 2 Trait. I’ve never played with or GMd for a level 3 Trait.

I have allowed one mouse to arrange the food/drink/shelter for multiple patrol mates with an increased Ob. This is only in the case of Resources/Circles to obtain food, drink, shelter. In the case of testing Health or Will to cover multiple patrol mates I have not allowed. I would encourage (and have seen) patrol mates Helping in the Resources or Circles test if they really want to be included in the result (but this is not something I’ve required—encouraged only).

PT and GM Turn should have a unique narrative chronology regardless of how long tests take to roll and adjudicate. I typically allow each player to use 1 check, then describe some time passing; then each player may use another check (if they have it) before some additional time passes.

  • Two Notes:
  1. Consider not only the events which are going on locally which the patrol might participate in regardless of a check being used (such as the hare race I recently described during the PT currently going–they were participants, but no one spent a check to decisively take action during the race).
  2. But Also, consider whether the check takes time to fulfill (such as the recovery from Injured which consisted of several days of physical therapy, or the boatcrafting which covered several days of labor).

The turns always take some time; therefore, the tests/checks always take some time. Thus, while considering the obstacles and twists of a session, also imagine if there are other events (less critical or non-obstructive) which are going on for the patrol to be aware of.

Conflict goals is a large topic. I must defer until I can think my thoughts. Basic line of thought: If the goal is set to kill, the compromise will not result in capture; if the goal was set to capture, the compromise will not result in death. I will have to write more on this topic for certain.

Regarding coward dice and such. Ah, such a big area to consider. I’ll have to write more. Basic line of thought: If they set out to do a task, it went exactly as described until one of two things: a Twist interrupted or disrupted the good job they were already doing, or they completed the task well at the cost of a Condition. This takes finesse, so I’ll have to write an example or three.

Chase Conflict…not understanding quite right. Chase uses Scout for Attack and Maneuver, Pathfinder for Defend and Feint. If a mouse has neither of those skills, they might be using Nature instead. So, let’s say, patrol mice are chasing an opponent: patrol still uses Scout and Pathfinder primarily, Nature if needed. So, let’s say patrol mice are being chased: patrol still uses Scout and Pathfinder primarily, Nature if needed. Here is the significant difference: While running away from an opponent, Tapping Nature to hide, escape, or climb will not risk Taxing Nature if, in fact, they describe the Attack, Defend, Feint, or Maneuver as hiding, escaping, or climbing. In contrast, if the patrol chases an opponent, then Tapping Nature to climb will not risk Taxing Nature, but for what reason would they be hiding or escaping from the opponent whom they are chasing? So, in that conflict, the protagonist and antagonist should be well identified–in other words, who is chasing whom.

Also note, why are they using weapons during the chase? Pg 122 identifies more appropriate gear for Chase conflicts than the weapons of a Fight or Fight Animal conflict. I guess, I wouldn’t argue about the narrative inclusion if it really is the most appropo, but I wouldn’t let the attributes of the weapon be invoked in a Chase conflict. I would use the pg 122 examples under Cut to the Chase; if the narrative description of the weapon seems to fit the description of a device for Chase conflicts, then I’d warrant that effect. Dirty Tricks might be a clearly advantageous use of combat weapons.

Now for a kick, let’s review Fight or Fight Animal. These both allow Nature for Defend and Maneuver. I see this as a clear indication that hiding, escaping, and/or climbing are integral to defense, movement, and strategy during those confrontations. While it may behoove a narrative to consider the actions of hiding, escaping, or climbing in Defend of Maneuver actions, I feel it is less necessary, since that is already identified as the appropriate skill for those two actions in those two conflicts.

Also note, the weapons are used in the same manner for fighting among mice as between mice and animals. That is a very generous mechanic!!! There is no text saying a knife is useless against a bear! There is nothing stated to diminish value of a sling with stones against a turtle! It is merely my opinion, but in some cases of combat with animals, the weapons chosen should be subject to scrutiny in respect to whether it is the best tactic and well utilized. But, Luke was generous in leaving that decision mechanically mute regarding the difference of fighting mice or fighting animals. Thankfully, alongside a confirmation that fighting weapons can be used against animals, there is also a collection of suggested additional gear for Fight Animal conflicts contained in the box set supplement.

Do they use their level 1 traits? Those aren’t “basically useless” even though they can only be used once.
I haven’t played with level 3 traits yet, so I can’t call on experience, but I suspect your players are underestimating the strength of re-rolling all failures. On the other hand, if they don’t want level 3 traits, they don’t have to have them, right? No harm.
They might change their minds if they face an antagonist or two who have level 3 traits to call on.

Ah gotcha.

Thanks for the quick answers, kendesign.

Though this raise some new questions, during a chase conflict, do they have the power to utilize the the weapons’ actual use into it? For example, usage of the Bow +2 D for Maneuver? Or does that usually warrant the Dirty Trick? Or does it depends on the actual description of how the tools/weapons are being used?
For example, a Mouse Guard used a Hook and Line to latch onto a low hanging branch and try and swing upward? Based on the description, I can give them a ‘Dirty Trick’ or ‘Right Tool’ advantage? If that’s the case, than I probably done the Chase conflict wrong and probably would explain why the team has ended very strongly against me.

@SeaWyrm That’s a good point. I should work a NPC into a conflict against them with a level 3 traits. They just argue that in a long run, having an additional die to every roll is better than fielding a possible one great roll.

As result, I think the best way for me to deal with this is to have all players fully explain how they can use their traits, and lending helping die. They usually just keep it simple like I have this ‘skill’ so I can help right? I should try and enforce on how they are using the skills to lend a helping hand.

Lastly, they were wondering how to level up wises but the only thing I can find in the book is in the Winter part of the chapter, but that only allows them to get a new wise to lvl 2. The players wanted to know how they can level up the wises

The physical weapons, like a bow or a hook and line, only give those benefits in a combat conflict. It’s a bit like how you wouldn’t get to use a sword or shield as a weapon in an argument conflict. At least, not as described.

the way I understand it, a weapon doesn’t confer its attributes to other conflicts. Such as the bow: how are they using it in the chase? Both the patrol and the opponent are moving–possibly with pauses now and then–quickly trying to increase/decrease the distance. If the player describes using the combat weapon, I’d probably consider it against Dirty Tricks. The description should matter.

For example, a Mouse Guard used a Hook and Line to latch onto a low hanging branch and try and swing upward? Based on the description, I can give them a ‘Dirty Trick’ or ‘Right Tool’ advantage? If that’s the case, than I probably done the Chase conflict wrong and probably would explain why the team has ended very strongly against me.

This is an excellent example! I would totally award the effect of Right Tool for that description of gear.

As result, I think the best way for me to deal with this is to have all players fully explain how they can use their traits, and lending helping die. They usually just keep it simple like I have this ‘skill’ so I can help right? I should try and enforce on how they are using the skills to lend a helping hand.
well, mice can Help with an Ability (Health, Will, etc.) or a Skill or Wise. So, they can’t just help each other with a Trait. But I think I see what you mean: players should be a bit descriptive. Don’t push too hard, but encourage them to describe enough that the patrol mate can decide whether they want help in that way or not. I don’t penalize for players asking help either. If they know a patrol mate has a good helping skill or wise, that’s a good use of table chatter.

Lastly, they were wondering how to level up wises but the only thing I can find in the book is in the Winter part of the chapter, but that only allows them to get a new wise to lvl 2. The players wanted to know how they can level up the wises
I can imagine three methods for increasing Wise ratings; however, I think this particular problem may be part of the decision regarding a change in Wises for Torchbearer (in case you know how Wises work in that game).

(1) An Instructor can offer a Wise test. It would be a simple description of a knowledgeable teacher or coach offering specific instruction on a topic. Just follow the rules for using Instructor. Just, instead of a skill test, it offers a wise test. This also allows patrol mates to instruct each other in not only skills, but also in wises.

(2) A mouse spends a check during the PT to specifically study a topic, observe something, or reflect on something learned. You could give them a Wise test using the factors and the description of what they are trying to recognize from their study method.

(3) An obstacle of the GM Turn (or even a twist) requires not action, but judgement. Use a wise test to determine whether the patrol can discover what a best course of action is. I didn’t get to play this out yet, but I had an idea once that the patrol is taking shelter from a heavy rain with other town mice. In the cavernous shelter, a shout of, “Snake,” rings out. The patrol needs to make a Snake-wise test Vs Nature (snake) to determine what sort of snake this is and what sort of danger it represents. The success means the player gets to say what sort of snake and how it must be dealt with; a Twist means they misidentify the snake and resolve to fight it rather than relocate the shelter during the rainstorm.

That sort of idea could be used for any sort of obstacle: Mice, Animal, Weather, Wilderness. Basically, anything that needs good information in order to make good decisions is a candidate for a Wise test. In fact, with a large patrol, making complex obstacles requiring a wise test and a skill test will help more participation among the patrol as well as highlight interesting lore about the campaign world; it can lead to loads of creative collaboration.

Having seen the effect of tapping Nature and then using a Level 3 trait to reroll failures i can tell you that it is powerful and awesome.

Okay, you start each session with a mission, then players make a Goal for that mission. Conflicts have a sort of mini-Goal. Similar advice works: have a target, state an intent, make a condition. In this sense, compound goals can be helpful; e.g. “We will kill Firebrand (fox) to make Grasslake safer for future generations,” against “I must hunt a rich meal for my mate–even risking my life–so she knows I am fiercely dominant and cunning,” (spoiler, the fox lost this Fight Animal conflict). You can see that in each goal, there is a target (the fox is targeting the hares and mounted mice), an intent–kill the fox, obtain a meal–and conditions–make Grasslake safer, show off for a mate.

In the end of the fight, those conditions were very important in the compromise.

In this case, the patrol wrote a goal which could not be supported by the rules of Natural Order: the fox was too large for a kill without a war or something like science. Personally, I’m fine with that, but later, players would have preferred to write a goal that is within reach.

So, the fight occurred. Mice ended with a Major Compromise to the losing fox. I like to think of the Compromise as a bigger version of resolving obstacles. So, Obstacles are resolved by Success w/ Conditions or Twist. A Compromise should be approximately Success w/ Conditions or Twist, but it can mix some of that into the result.

The conditions stated in the goals helped when negotiating with the fox hunt. I was easily able to say, “Great, he doesn’t get his immediate goal of a meal–no one gets eaten. Not only that, but also the female shows up to see him crippled and half-blinded by the hare-riding, spear-carrying mice! He doesn’t appear dominant or cunning at all–hares and mice are his favored prey, but they just thrashed him in a fight!.” I was also able to use the conditions of the patrol’s goal: Grasslake will be safer. Firebrand will have to leave, will have to find a new place to hunt and probably relearn how to hunt after his injuries; he won’t have offspring this year, and maybe not ever again. Grasslake will be safer (and the female preyed upon ground squirrels mostly).

So, after laying out the Success of their goal, I laid out the Conditions. The mice and hares did get Injured; and they haven’t got time to finish off Firebrand, since the female showed up (they couldn’t suddenly fight two). The mice and hares suffered from Injured and couldn’t leap into a new Fight conflict to really land the killing blow.

I kinda mixed in a Twist by mentioning that the hares had been wanting to go to Wolfepointe for annual races. Considering the injuries, it wasn’t the best choice. But that was another session, so it wasn’t a twist the patrol could really take action against.

Now let’s contrast with simple, straightforward goals. Those seem nice, but they’ve got less on the line.

Capture the bandits.
Kill the weasel.
Find the lost mice.

In those cases, start to ask a few questions to spur conditions:
What would you risk?
Unless what happens?
What is this for?
How long can you spend on this?
Who is really in danger?
Is my cause really right?

Anything might be a question which inspires a conditional addition.

Capture the guilty bandits for a fair trial.
Kill the weasel, so he cannot warn others.
Find the lost mice before the cold makes us sick.

In those cases, the conditional statements give more friction for the conflict actions as well as more ideas for the compromise. Imagine if you can say to the players,

You’ve captured the bandits, but while escorting them through town, a group riots and stones the bandits–they won’t get a fair trial here.
You’ve chased the weasel through wild terrain beyond the scent border; you’ve killed the weasel, but you are deep in Dark Heather lands.
You’ve tried everything to find these mice in the wilderness, but the constant, cold rain has taken its toll–test Health to avoid becoming Sick.

Killing and Death
Killing does have certain additional mechanical rules which should cause it to be more difficult to successfully kill, or, at the very least, ensure that killing comes at a price. Those rules don’t have to be applied to a goal of capture, injury, convincing, etc.

Downgrading Success
You might notice from my fox hunt example, that the kill wasn’t accomplished, even though all the rest of the goal was fulfilled. In that case, I negotiated the downgrade after the conflict was complete and we saw the outcome. It doesn’t mean that a new goal–a new intent–can be adopted as soon as a compromise. However, you can use the compromise to introduce a new conflict, such as a (lost) fight to kill becomes a (follow-on) chase to capture. In that way, they’ve got to drive through another conflict to get a different goal. This is another valuable element to a compound goal. Consider this:

These bandits have a right to fair trial, whether willingly or by force.
We must kill this weasel whether in fighting or taken captive for execution.
Those lost mice were going somewhere, and we will find them safe or otherwise.

In those cases, the downgrade is foreshadowed in the goal statement.

So, the summary is to encourage players to think of goals which have more than a target and an action. Think of conditions, risks, methods, intent, purpose, influence, foreshadowing, and other factors that combine to make the conflict more engaging.

When tackling an obstacle, a failure allows you to either introduce a twist or, when you can’t think of anything good or want to cut to the chase, to grant success at a price. MoF does not enter into it. What do they want, an only very slightly interesting twist when they fail just a bit? It’s not punishment for botching a test or something. Tell them to take it like a mouse and hit them with the best twist you can come up with. Twists are what makes this game fun!

Thank you Bobo for posting what I was thinking.

Now, what usually trips this up is the GM treating Twists and/or Conditions as failures. Neither of them are instances of the mice “failing,” especially when they get a Condition. That’s absolutely Success with a capital S…with a side order of tired or hungry or whatever. Twists are trickier, but I would never (and I do mean never) narrate a mouse failing and then twist things. That turns cool narrative story beats and action sequences into pure poison, where the players feel their mice are inadequate instead of reveling in their turns of fate.