Skill Advancement Through Helping

My wife and I were discussing how certain characters, do to larger number of lower rating skills, will consistently end up providing help dice to the specialists, but rarely be encouraged to make the primary roll. Thus their skill advancement is limited largely to what they squeeze out of the player turn, or situations so specific only their one skill will be of use, which could be few and far between. A proposal:

Every time you successfully provide a help die based on a skill, you get a “Helper Point” on the skill you used to justify the help. When your number of Helper Points equals your nature, erase them and apply a success or failure mark (your choice) to the skill. It would be slow going to raise a skill this way, but it could provide a little extra bonus to the extremely helpful, encourage people picking up a few more side skills, and encourage more thoughtful/inventive behavior about what help is being thrown in.


Not to get in the way of your hack, but the rules on page 87 are designed to counter this type of play. It’s not the player with the highest skill who tests, but the player who speaks up. This encourages roleplaying rather than number crunching.

Also, the patrol leader can designate a test for a character, as described on page 87. A good patrol leader will give his tenderpaws a chance to prove themselves.

I remember reading this, and then somehow my mind brings up Naruto and Kakashi, and the ways their “ninja-team” works.

I appreciate any input Luke (especially yours since you have the global vision of what you were aiming to accomplish). I know those sections and I don’t really see the idea as incompatable with them. Its more just throwing a bone to helpful people with a clear vision of how they are contributing to the patrol even when they aren’t the best at the specific job in question… And in intense situations (like non-patrol mice lives being on the line), the Patrol Leader (as well as other members of the patrol) is simply more likely to suggest sending in the specialist then the newbie.

But like any optional idea, a group’s mileage may vary. I don’t know if I’d ever even implement anything like this.

p.s. As a clarification regarding p87. Say that mouse A (the “player who speaks up”, which may or may not be the Patrol Leader) suggests mouse B should do something, because mouse B is the best at it (i.e. “Mouse B, perhaps you could use your excellent fieldcraft skills to scout for the orphans.”)? If Mouse B agrees that’s a great idea and does it, it would be Mouse B who rolls their skill, right?

I wanted to return to this issue, because I think discussion in another thread helps this one out, somewhat.

One possible “playstyle flaw” is for the GM and the players to follow the GM’s Turn like a railroad. This is the case where the GM offers up the obstacle, gives the “standard solution”, and the players quietly pick one mouse to lead and the rest to offer help dice. To further aggravate the problem, the patrol manages to avoid any twists.

End result: the players took the least number of checks during the GM’s turn, and now they don’t have a lot of checks to play with during the Player’s turn.

In this thread, we are trying to “fix the problem” by changing the rules – awarding helpers with some fraction of a check.

But in another thread, I think we hit the ideal solution: instead of strictly following the standard solution, encourage the players to make a complex one. So, rather than having just one test to overcome an obstacle, the players have to come up with ways that more than one can have their individual skills be tested … before leading up to overcoming the obstacle.

The notion of using complex series of checks certainly has benefits, and is sort my first instinct since that’s how I’d run it in traditional games. But this is MG, and the standard rules seem to encourage the flat approach (one check offered, players propose possible optional check, roll). While I’m the first to argue against obsessive following of smaller rules (i.e. how hard it is to get a mouse to give you a free lunch), and like to theorise big scale things like revamping the turn structure (playing what-if is a great way to widen perspective), I wouldn’t actually advocate abandoning anything entirely as I’d be concerned what impact actually cracking the larger structures would have.

For instance, take your example of the broken bridge. Your proposal is to replace the single aided carpentry check with three seperate checks to diagnose, gather, and repair. In the process, you have tripled the chance of a twist/condition. This dramaticly increases the chance of pushing the story away from the actual goal or leaving the mice damaged enough to disrupt later checks. Unless you likewise propose that complex checks leading to the same goal be handled as a single unit in which the overall success/failure of the entire set produces a single result. But in that case, haven’t we just essentially created a Conflict?

Of course that could lead to the possible conclusion that the resolution for the helpers not getting skill training benefits issue is to run more things as a Conflict… But following that approach could potentially bog down the game, as Conflicts have a lot more external maintenance requirements then normal test…

I still don’t have my rulebook (darn mail man), but from some of the actual play sessions I’m reading, I guess that GMs are beginning to blur the lines between GM Turn and Player Turn.

That’s not to say that the players are running loose and pursuing their own agenda during the GM’s turn. Just that the GM has allowed the players to offer up a complex solution, rather than a one-roll solution. But all those checks still have to address the obstacle.

I don’t know what Luke et al had in mind in terms of playstyle. But, as you said, you can be straight-by-the-book, or you can loosey-goosey.

You guys are seriously confusing me when you keep saying “checks” and you mean “tests.”

Serpine, don’t forget the distinction between a simple obstacle and a complex obstacle.


Frankly the game’s use of the word “Check” confuses me horribly. For 25 years I’ve been telling people to “Make a <insert name of skill here> check” and my brain is simply not flexible enough to suddenly adapt because a game I bought a month ago just happens to use that term for player driven events…

Anyway, I don’t think I’m confused about Simple versus Complex … thingies… (;)) , but I’ll review the relevant portions when I get home and have the book handy.

p.s. Hmph… Now my forum rank is Armiger… I wonder what book I’d need to figure out what all those titles are anyway.

Whoa … me too! Let me know what it means when you find out!

My group had to adjust our vocabulary around the game.
Check was the points for doing nasty stuff to yourself.
Tick was for any experience marked
Test and/or Roll replaced check for “make a x check on Ob y