Some confusion on Player's turn check limitations.

The book states quite clearly that in the Player’s Turn each player gets to perform one test for each check that they have.

Then in the ‘Deliver the Mail’ adventure, there are are two Mouse twists, offering two entire side missions consisting of several tests each - both costing just one check to embark on.

Have I read that right?

If so, how does that work? What is an acceptable amount of mission for one check?

-EDIT- No. I haven’t read that right atall. It says in both cases, “Players can spend their checks.” Plural. Problem solved. -EDIT-


It looks like searching for the rocking chair is two tests, while escorting Loretta is one test. So, I think the plurality of checks doesn’t mean what you think it does as escorting Loretta would only require one check, but getting the chair does look like it would take two.

You get one check for free. But like you pointed out, with just that, you might not have a chance to fulfill the side quest, much less recover from any conditions you suffered. But! You can get more checks by using traits against yourself during the GM’s Turn. So your players really need to understand that they’ll need to stack the deck against themselves in the first part of the game if they want to have enough going in to do everything they want (or maybe need) to do in the second half of the game.

Running out of checks is something that’s been bugging me, actually.

Player: I spend a check to search the area for the body.
Gm: Roll your Scout - Everyone else can help.
Dice rolls.
GM:You succeed. You find the body washed up on a river bank. Looks like he’s been garrotted.
Player: I search the body.
GM: Do you have a check?
Player: Nope.
GM: Anyone else have a check?
Rest of group: No. nope. nada. zip. niente.
GM: Then you can’t. It’s GM’s turn again now.
Player: What? I’m stood right next to the body. It’ll take a minute or two. Why can’t I search it?
GM: You just can’t it’s my turn now. - thinks for a moment - Okay, look. You’re right, it’s ridiculous. First thing you can do in the GM’s turn is make a roll to check the body.
Player: Cool. So what’s the point in the GM turn, Player turn if we can just carry on what we were doing in anyway?
GM: Well… it’s er… I’ll get back to you on that one. Anyway, make your roll.

This didn’t happen but we did have a situation the other night, in which the group wanted to sneak up to a house, pick the lock on the door and get in unseen - however as half of them only had one check, they’d have reached the house and been unable to do anything else. The other half had nothing so would have had to stay where they are. I think.

I’m certain I’m not doing it right, I’m just not sure why.

As for earning checks by playing Traits against themselves. I think they’re getting the hang of it, but they do tend to forget. Actually one of them thinks the whole concept is ‘ghey’ and threw a hissy fit the other night when the opportunity to hinder himself came up. The rest of the group is just not quite sure why. :confused:


Scarecrow, Im new to mouse guard rpg and still getting used to its concepts, but i think you are playing the checks wrong.

My internal compass is telling me that using checks for pcs to do stuff during the Gms turn is wrong. It makes no sense for the players to have to have a check to use every little thing. Roleplays are usually about avoiding constrictions on players unless for good reasons for example to maintain the narrative.

From what I have read I think checks are supposed to only be used in the players turn, and are rewards for acting out traits or against traits. They are used by the players to do their own thing, develop their own story outside of the gms narrative.

So in your example if the players want to search the body then as GM I would allow it, without a test unless there was something hidden on the body that would be difficult to find.

Why would that be more than one check? I’d say to the person initiating it: “Roll Scout.” Others can help. Done. Tell them what they find, if they succeeded. If they failed, they’re Tired or Angry.

Sheeptoy, you can use checks in the GM’s Turn, but at 2 checks per instead of 1 check per. Also, I think Scarecrow is specifically talking about spending checks in the Players’ Turn.

Sorry just losing the plot.

One thing that I find hard to understand is why have the checks system anyway, it seems to artificially constrain the story. Most other games I have played just treat what the players and the Gm do as one story, not divided into a Gms or players turn.

I can see that it has the advantage of giving the GM control over the story he wants to tell, and maybe gives the players a reason to play off their traits.

This is not a criticism of the game, it does things differently thats all and I was wondering why?

I shall butt out now.


So it’s fairly vague, then. You aren’t spending a check per test, you’re more sort of spending a check to initiate a side quest. So let’s say in my first example, a player says that he wants to search for ‘Yellow Pete’s’ body. He spends a check and as he’s successful, gets to take control of the narrative until that reaches a natural conclusion, ie: they find Pete’s body and search it and maybe carry it back to town. At that point, their particular stint in the spotlight ends and another player may spend a check to start up their scene. They aren’t spending a check to find Yellow Pete, they’re spending a check to successfully undertake and complete their particular side quest?

In the second example: One player spends a check to sneak up to the house. If he’s successful, does he automatically also get to pick the lock and sneak around inside? It’s all inclusive in one test?
If he succeeds, are the other players allowed to join him without testing? If they have no checks left, must they stay where they are? Why would they if they didn’t want to?


Not exactly. What I meant was that all those things they wanted to do could be done with one roll, because there is no Stealther, Lockerpicker, etc, skills. Scout works as a general skill for getting up to the place unseen.

However… if the players want to earn tests for skills, then they need the checks to spend and say “I’m using Pathfinder to find a sneaky approach.” “I’m using Survivalist to pick the lock.” “I’m using Scout to look for clues inside.” That’s fine, but they spend checks on it.

If they don’t have checks, hit 'em during the GM’s Turn with more conditions. Checks are necessary to drive the game. If they aren’t going after them of their own initiative, “show” (okay, force) them to see why they will need them.

… Says I. :slight_smile:

I was talking to my play group about the Checks system on Saturday while we played.

I may be wrong about this, but I think the checks-in-player’s-turn system is set up as a control - a counter to bad (or at least annoying) player behavior that Luke’s encountered in BW and BE play.

Witness: Luke has said in interviews that he is annoyed by player’s pixel-bitching during ForKs and trying to roll in every skill they have - I haven’t played BW, but I’ve seen the same thing in Heroquest - as a result, in Mouse Guard, you can only assist someone with one skill, and you can only assist yourself with a single wise.*

I feel as though the Player Checks limitation is a similar type of control. Since skills are improved only through use, I can easily imagine a scenario in BW or BE play where players get to a relatively safe area and proceed to request dozens of skills checks… some of them are interesting and story-driven, sure… others are just for the sake of trying to level up your Combat Macramé.

Assuming that is something that happens, it follows that the limited number of checks allowed in each player turn is a direct counter to that kind of behavior.

Disclaimer: I’m attributing motive to Luke that has NO BASIS in any statements he’s made (to my knowledge) – this is just my opinion on the whys and wherefores behind the system.

It occurred to me a few days ago that you could have viable and balanced play without using the Player Turn/Checks limitation, IF you had a strong (and strongly enforced) “no asshat” social contract at the table, but if you throw out the player checks system, you lose the the system-based incentive for using your Traits in a negative way. I’d definitely count that as a net loss.

    • You can, of course, roll other skills to create stuff that will give someone else a Gear bonus, AND THEN ALSO assist them, but that kind of investment in the whole process = awesome, so clearly it’s not a problem.

Mouse Guard is set up to be a game. Something that you play. The turns – which are common to nearly every other type of game out there – are in place to aid with the currency system (traits, advancement, rewards), to encourage failure, to dramatize failure* and, most important, to clearly delineate the roles and actions of play for people who have never played a roleplaying game before.

Doycet, you’re right. You don’t need the turns structure to play Mouse Guard. You know what else you don’t need? You don’t need this game to play Mouse Guard. You can “play Mouse Guard” using freeform in a chat program. However, this is a particular and peculiar game with its own premise and design goals. Playing this game requires that you engage with this strange little system – whehter you know “how to roleplay or not.”


*This has the side effect of creating narrative.

Hi Luke,

Please don’t misunderstand: in examining the whole structure of the thing, I feel that the game is much better WITH the Player Turns/Player Checks/Trait Use.

Could you go without all that? Sure. I have no desire to do that. I like the MG rules.

(I’m sure you’re terribly relieved that I like your game. What a weight that must be off your mind.)

I may be wrong about this, but I think the checks-in-player’s-turn system is set up as a control - a counter to bad (or at least annoying) player behavior.

I feel as though I may have inadvertently stepped on toes with this statement. I did not mean to say that the Trait Checks system only functioned as a control on bad behavior – it obviously (and more importantly) creates interesting story stuff in the game. I just think is also accomplishes that other thing.

(I seem to have fastened my mouth around my foot this morning, so I’ll just stop talking for a bit.)

Sure, that all makes sense and I’m perfectly fine with it.
I understand what the checks system is for. It just breaks for me, and I just can’t get my head around the idea that if a player runs out of checks, whatever they are doing, they have to stop dead, and now they have to do what I tell them to do. There’s no logic to it.
If a player got to initiate and complete a whole sidequest for a check, that’d work better for me - but then it becomes a tad subjective. How much should they be allowed to do? etc…


The most basic criticism here is, “If your players are running out of checks, then they need to earn more in the GM’s Turn.” But that’s not very helpful.

Are you pixel-bitching your players? In the GM’s Turn, are you calling for three tests to sneak up to and break into a house? That’s wrong. That’s one Scout test. It’s mildly subjective, but the game is clear on this: testing the same ability repeatedly for the same intent is against the rules. One test of an ability, pass or fail, determines the result of the intent.

Sneaking into a house.
Journeying to Wolfpointe.
Building a new gate for the town.
Restarting Dad’s business.
Making new friends in the Guard.

Those can all be accomplished in one test.

A single check can also be used to trigger a conflict. You can accomplish a hell of a lot in a conflict!

Also, since checks are a known, open commodity, it’s very easy to listen to what the players want to accomplish and tell them if they have enough checks or not. If you don’t think they have enough, then tell me! “I think that’s going to be a whole mission. Use your checks to rest, recover and prepare. I’ll throw it back at you in my turn.”



I will offer a suggestion (yeah, I kept my mouth shut for all of 10 minutes - new record, that).

Suggestion: If the player has something that they want to do, and they have one Check with which to do it, and it makes any kind of sense to do it with one skill test, then they can do it with one skill test. (This is not a big deal: guards can navigate a route from Wolfpointe to Dorigift with one Pathfinder roll. You can do a lot with a single skill test.)

Caveat: they don’t HAVE to do it with one Check, if they have more than one Check to use, and they want to use them both on this… Thing They Are Doing. But, as Luke already said, they shouldn’t be rolling the same skill over and over; that second skill test should really be for some DIFFERENT goal than the first test.


Player: “I want to go find the body of the missing mouse guard, and see what killed him. I have one check.”
GM: “Okay, Roll Scout.”
(stuff happens)

Player1: “I want to go find the body of the missing mouse guard, and see what killed him. I have two checks I want to use on this.”
GM: “Okay, Roll Scout.” (player does so, and may get Consequences but, per the rules, not a Twist)
GM (back to Player 1): Okay, the guy was killed by an animal, probably a… raven?
Player1: A raven? What… why? What? Why would a raven kill a mouse like that?
GM: Good questions. Use your second check to test Loremouse?
Player1: Please…

You may ask: if I could have done what I set out to do with one skill test, what is the benefit of choosing to use two checks? They are many, but include the chance to earn a tic toward improvement on two different skills. Aside from that, you’re making that scene more important to your character by investing two Checks in it. Obviously, it’s a big deal to you, and your investment in it makes it more important to the game as a whole.

Thanks, Luke.

That works for me. It seems my problem is, essentially that I’m making my players roll for everything they do in a very granular fashion. You’re right, I don’t do that in the GM’s turn.

My head is still in D&D mode which works for 99% of other roleplaying games - just not for Mouse Guard (which is what I love about the game).




Ok, I am super new to MG. I just read through it and will have to read it again to grok it to where I am comfortable to run/play it. I mention that so you know where my knowledge of the game is, when I continue…

In the house example, and I guess to some extent the washed-ashore-body example, my gut tells me that if a single player shows interest in the course of action I would go with a single roll and if more than one showed interest (possibly they helped with the roll) then maybe each player/character could use their own check to advance the scene.

On a somewhat different note, if all players where pushing in (using their checks too) to get to the house, find a way in, and scout it out… New mission time! Animal: Cat & Mouse: House Mouse Phillip… It is obviously something that they are interested in doing. Couldn’t we just ramp it up a bit and see where it goes?

Again, just trying to think my way into the system and all it’s greatness.

The Bane

"Also, since checks are a known, open commodity, it’s very easy to listen to what the players want to accomplish and tell them if they have enough checks or not. If you don’t think they have enough, then tell me! “I think that’s going to be a whole mission. Use your checks to rest, recover and prepare. I’ll throw it back at you in my turn.”


I think I may have reiterated what Luke pointed out above. Sorry for my lack of cognition during my first read through of this thread. (minus 10 :cool: points)

Yes, but to put this in the context of the thread, be sure that the checks being spent are, in fact, advancing the scene. If all the players are interested in searching the house, it’s still not appropriate to have one player test Scout to sneak up to the house, one player test Scout to pick the lock, et cetera. One player can test Scout (with the patrol helping!) to sneak up and gain entry to the house. The next player can test to do something else to advance the scene: search the house, maybe, or interrogate whoever’s inside. And, as you (and Luke) said, if the players are really digging wherever the “house” story is going, it might end up as the next GM’s Turn mission.


Thanks for pointing that out, and I should have been a bit more distinct in my example. As I saw it, and I may be wrong do to my limited experience:

  1. One mouse makes the Scout Check with the others helping where appropriate: If successful, they get inside and find Brail, a blind hermit. If they are not successful, they find Drax the Cat. (Can I throw a Twist at the Players in their turn?)

  2. Assuming they succeed, another mouse may want to try and convince Brail to leave the “comfort” of his home for a mouse stronghold where he would be safer under his condition. Again others can help.

  3. The final mouse wants to round up enough supplies for Brail to be comfortable in a new home while the others “help”.

Now I must consult the book to see if I can Twist rolls in the Player’s turn… 3) could be a Twist to a failed 2). He won’t leave with out his hidden stashes, but he can’t recall all the places he hid them… did I mention he was forgetful too?

Oh, I think I am going to love this game.

Sorry if I have hijacked this thread. It was not my intention.

The Bane