Small Group Worries

I’m going to attempt to start my first MG game tomorrow (finally!) and I’m worried that having only two players is going to be problematic. Luke recommends 3 players and 1 gm, so are there any pitfalls I should expect to run into with just two? Now in other games I’d be tempted to run my own PC as well as gm, but I get the impression that would wonky things up a bunch so I’m nervous of that too.

Smaller is better than larger, I find. You’ll be fine with 2 players. Conflict actions will just need to swap back and forth (ABA, BAB, etc) and it’d be a good idea for each to be fairly niche, with a bit of overlap (such as Hunter or Fighter), between the two players’ characters.

One thing you’ll have to watch out for is larger groups opposing them. With only two players, they can’t really split their team into two to face off against two. So try to keep any conflicts as one team vs one team.

Honestly, there really aren’t any pitfalls to having just 2 players. Three is definitely the sweet spot, but the game doesn’t penalize people for not being able to get the stars to align. :slight_smile:

Niche protection and part balance aren’t important in Mouse Guard. You’ll be fine with a two-mouse patrol.

GM PCs are against the spirit of Mouse Guard.

Niche protection is fairly important in all RPGs, to be honest. I agree skill niches aren’t as important in MG as in some other games, but overall character niches sure as hell are. Having only two PCs both with very similar skill sets would make for a pretty boring game, but having two PCs with really similar Beliefs/Instincts would be a non-starter. Imagine if the MG comics only dealt with the adventures of Liaem and Saxon? Yay… zzzzz… :slight_smile:

For added clarity, I’m not saying “polar opposites.” I’m saying to define a niche of player interest, both for Beliefs as well as abilities (skills, stats, Circles, Resources), and the game will be fun.

Mouse Guard makes no strongly defined niches to be filled (unlike many of the & crowd). Therefore, as with Pendragon or EQ, it is requisite for players to create their niche, to play up the minor differences.

The game won’t enforce these different pseudo-niches, either. It’s entirely the players who create them, want them; Unlike most games, MG actually rewards overlap.

And while I find MG works less than stellar for 2p, it’s not due to niche issues; it’s due to scaling of difficulties being for 3-4p.

Thanks all. Any suggestions on which of the starting stories might work the best for 2 PCs?

Yeah, see that was my impression.

I’d go with “Deliver the Mail” in the back of the book. It’s served me well as a beginning MG gm. Although, I think the other two would work fine as well, it’s just that “The Mail” is the easiest to wrap my head around.

I don’t mean to take this thread way away from its intent, but I’m kind of wondering if you guys aren’t playing a prank on me or something.

Every game has niches. If nothing else, MG has even stronger niches (which are player defined, not system defined) than D&D. Those come in the form of BIGs. If I had a Belief “No mouse can get by without help from others” and another player wrote up “It takes many mice to be successful,” I’d be pretty pissed. Niche protection is important. Overlapping Beliefs are not good things. Complementary (and contrary) Beliefs? Absolutely.

You’ll have to explain that one to me. That’s not making any sense to me. Point me to any pre-gen character in the book that fills the same role (i.e., niche) as any other which is designated for the same scenario/pre-made one-shot?

Patrick, I think William and I are referring to niches in a real traditional sense, as in what a character does (e.g. fight, track, or heal). Ensuring each character has a distinct agenda or shtick as defined by his or her BIGs is fairly recent RPG technology, at least as far as Luke’s implemented it in his games.

Skill overlap is very useful in Mouse Guard, both for helping one another on standard tests and for group conflicts.

Ah, gotcha. I was thinking in the broader sense of overlap in terms of what people like to focus on in the game, even down to what they want their character to be about (BIGs/BITs). I hear ya. Didn’t mean to come across as an utter pedant.

2 people would be fine.

Glad to hear two players will work fine. I hope to start tomorrow night with two players, both are redwall fans, one has read Fall 1152.

At home I have two other potential players (my kids) ages 6&10. The older has read both MG collections, the younger, I’m not sure.

I’m not sure about mixing the two groups so it may stay at 2 and 2 for a while.

Deliver the mail looks like a fun game for the older pair especially.

Even there (BIGs), it rewards overlap… If everyone has similar and overlapping goals, it induces far more incentive to cooperative efforts in the player turn. In fact, my players intuited pretty darned quick that interrelated BIGs also meant more artha in the party as a rule, simply because everyone got the same amount when they worked together for similar overlapping goals.

MG has no niche protections… save the party themselves… especially when it comes to BIGs; there is no requirement for them to be PVPish, and very clear benefits to keeping them at least congruent, if not nearly identical.

Deliver the Mail spins off into follow up missions well, too.

I completely and utterly disagree. Only one person would need to be proactive, and the others just leech by tossing in help dice, since they have no unique or personal direction themselves. In gaming terms, you’re just multi-boxing: 1 person doing stuff with others bot’d to your following in that player’s wake, tossing in dice to simply to lessen failure chances.

Anyhoo… maybe we can have a thumb-war or something at 10-10-10. :wink: We’ll have to agree to disagree until then, Daniel. And I’m still not completely convinced that either, (1) we’re talking about the exact same thing from a slightly different standpoint, or (2) we’re just debating two completely different things altogether.

We ended up with 3 and it worked well. At least 2 others are interested in joining. The rules worked very well with a small group, and I did not feel that the tasks were impossible. Combat was the hardest, but they came up with a great tactical plan.

Help dice were a common feature. Using traits to hinder themselves was not. I think that will come with further exposure to the turn structure.

It will take another couple of sessions before I can really comment on the overlapping BIGs question. And I realize I forgot to have them write new BIGs for the follow-on run to Delivering the Mail.

That wasn’t me, but I challenge you to a game of rock-paper-scissors nonetheless!

Just to be clear, they need only to rewrite their Goals for each mission. Glad to hear your session went well.

Ninja-Cowboy-Bear is the new hotness.

Amateurs. I’ll take on all comers in a game of Ice Cream Cone-Vagina-Karate Man.

Rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock ftw.

Glad to hear it went well, Dave! Sorry we made a train wreck of your thread.