So just to clarify- Have the characters forsaken the guard, or the players done with the campaign?
I’ll post an AP in the next few days but briefly…
Players tracked Brynn (dragged away by a flying squirrel) to Sprucetuck.
In their varied attempts to break into the town, they encountered Sloan (one of their enemies, a Sprucetuck Loremouse master, once feral after he spent years in the Dark Heather but sometimes still gives into his rages) and demanded Brynn’s release. Sloan said Brynn stole from Sprucetuck so they will put her on trial. But no worries, the penalty for theft is not death or anything so barbaric (as he let out a growl). The PCs didn’t care and it was a fight!
It was brutal. He had mouse snipers, wall climbing, door smashing, ball kicking, weapon disarming, almost falling off a balcony, skunk scent bombs, and more! The 4th player joined in. He’s a nerdy tenderpaw archivist / insectist / scientist, with a firefly on his back, Sprucetuck native, former student of Slaon, hates Jin (leader of Sprucetuck) because he wanted to rule but didn’t score high enough on the science test.
The PCs beat Sloan into unconsciousness and rescued Brynn. But suffered conditions.
Mission 1 - Player Turn:
PCs healed, had 2 amazing scenes overcoming anger, Cale convinced Bynn to rejoin the Guard, Bynn and Cale foreshadowed a blooming love, the PCs broke into the acorn, discovered plans for weapons of mass scent destruction (maybe to be used against Weasels), made copies, and more!
We reviewed Beliefs, Instincts, Goals and awarded rewards.
Mission 2 - GM Turn:
A huge argument broke out between the PCs, 2 of their enemies (who are Mouse Guard Patrol Leaders) to convince Gwendolyn what to do about Sprucetuck.
The Scent Border needs to be replenished in a week, Sprucetuck is late with the scent, but they spent time creating their own personal scent border, Elmoss is under attack by Flying Squirrels, and the PCs have evidence that Sprucetuck may be weaponizing the scent.
The NPCs argued the Mouse Guard has grown weak by letting poor excuses for Guard Mice like Fynn (a PC) into their ranks, lost the Territories respect, and need heavy internal restructuring before dealing with Sprucetuck. A smaller, leaner Mouse Guard may simply be what the Territories want. Sprucetuck is out of their jurisdiction and they’re sure the Scent Border will be fine.
The PCs argued that Gwendolyn needs to increase the Mouse Guard’s jurisdiction, have more influence over the Territories, starting with entering Sprucetuck, finding out exactly what they’re doing, and babysitting them till they finish the scent. There was also mention of starting a Mouse Guard science division.
The PCs lost! But were due a compromise.
The argument was fantastic as it was a great way for the players to express what they want and don’t want out of the campaign in character. It set the tone for the future. We were also strict with the -1D penalty for repeating in an Argument conflict. Which helped keep everything to the point as we didn’t want to waste too much great roleplaying material in just 1 action.
After the meeting, Gwendolyn excused everyone except for the PCs. For their compromise, Gwendolyn agreed with them but for political reasons couldn’t approve of their suggested tactics. Instead the PCs may join an unsanctioned, will be disavowed if they are caught, secret group called the Black Guard. They must give up their Mouse Guard cloaks, and all official Mouse Guard status. But she will help them break into Sprucetuck, find out what’s happening before time runs out, and do what is necessary. The PCs handed over their cloaks and were given special black cloaks with compartments for hiding small items. Thus the Black Guard was reborn!
We were all pumped! It was a very successful session. I have no idea where we go next but the options are wide and full of possibility. Now the PCs can conflict with everyone, including the Mouse Guard. Which is great since two of their enemies are Patrol Leaders!
I was happy!
One thing I’m enjoying about the game, we don’t know how long we’re going to play. One player may move away at any moment and another player has a new born. The game itself is one of the few times she isn’t with her less than 1 month old baby. So there is a pressure to make everything count. No holding back! Any session may be our last! I like it!
The Black Guard is an amazing compromise and twist.
We played again last night but I was in no condition to GM
I was in day 2 of recovering from removing all 4 wisdom teeth. My face was swollen like a chipmunk. I slowly lost my voice. And the bandage from a neck wound I sustained came loose mid-game and bled all over my shirt! It was quite horrific and ridiculous. But we soldiered on!
Not my best session but ok all things considered!
Mission 2 - Player Turn:
Cale fails to embarrass Walmond (the Patrol Leader from Copperwood who wants the Guard to shrink in size), Autumn finds a fighting instructor, and Bixby fails to overcome his anger by daydreaming of a future advanced cross territory mouse communication system.
Mission 3 - GM Turn:
Gwendolyn sends to Black Guard to break into Sprucetuck and take charge of the Scent Border situation. Finn (who missed the session) is being sent on a different mission and will explain when he returns.
Bixby used Weather Watcher to predict the weather would calm from it’s current sharp and dangerous winds.
The PCs stealthily approach Sprucetuck but discovered they are being hunted by a shadowy mouse with 2 small snakes.
They ambush their stalker with a pit trap! It’s Sloan (the once feral Sprucetuck Loremouse master the PCs beat into unconsciousness in game 2) wearing a face mask! The PCs kill the 2 baby snakes and interrogate Sloan.
Sloan reveals that he’s responsible for the attacks on Elmoss by order of Sprucetuck. If Elmoss is out of the picture, Sprucetuck becomes the only supplier of medicine and can charge whatever they want. Bixby interrogates Sloan about his mask. Jin distributed these masks to everyone in Sprucetuck as protection from the new Scent Border.
Cale asks Sloan how many people have died in Elmoss (Cale’s home). Sloan brags, at least a dozen. After a tense stare down… Cale stabs Sloan in the chest and leaves him to bleed out. Bixby (Cale’s tenderpaw) is horrified and erases Cale’s name as his Mentor from his character sheet!
Autumn tries to cover up any evidence of Sloan’s death but fails! We agree to leave the twist (for failing) open for the future… possibly a missing body… or Sloan is still alive!
The PCs enter Sprucetuck where Bixby has family. He finds his friend Loonis the beekeeper attending the hive. The bees look sick and bloated as they are injected with viles filled with yellowish chemicals. Bixby wants Loonis to tell them where the Scent is and where they can find wagons (to carry the scent out of Sprucetuck). Loonis wants Bixby to turn himself over to try to exonerate his name (for helping Brynn, a Sprucetuck criminal, escape the authorities in game 2).
Loonis loses but as a compromise the PCs agree to escort her and her family out of Sprucetuck. Loonis reveals that Jin (7 year old Mouse Sprucetuck mayor) wants to expand the Scent Border. Right now it only protects us from land creatures. But what about birds, owls, and flying squirrels? Jin wants to make the Scent Border airborne!
Bixby bursts out that they must be using the bees to create Scent Border 2.0 and that’s why they are injecting them with something. Loonis says that something is the Scent or at least most of it, modified, which is why they couldn’t give it over to the Mouse Guard. But there is still scent remaining in Sprucetuck. Just not enough to protect the territories till Winter (probably only till end of Fall). The masks everyone is wearing is to protect them from any side effects when the bees unleash the new scent into the air. It’s supposed to be safe long term but may make mice sick at first.
The PCs procure wagons, and sneak into the main area where the remaining Scent is kept… except Jin and Bixby’s parents are there. The entire room is a giant map of the Territories and Jin is throwing a temper tantrum like a baby. Jin storms off leaving Bixby’s parents to work on what appears to be plans for a cross territory communication system (Bixby claims Jin stole the idea from him when they were childhood friends).
The PCs reveal themselves and try to convince Bixby’s parents that Jin and Sprucetuck have participated in horrific acts. His parents claim that although Jin came up with the idea for the new Scent Border, if what they say is true about Elmoss, Jin isn’t responsible. They claim Jin is a puppet whose strings are being pulled by the leaders of Copperwood (Cale suspects Walmund).
After Cale compliments Bixby in front of his parents, Bixby writes down Cale’s name back on his character sheet as his mentor (which he erased when Cale killed Sloan). They all escape together with the remaining scent.
Mission 3 - Player Turn:
Back in Lockhaven, Bixby overcomes his anger, Autumn fails to improve her fighting skills, and Cale’s becomes closer to Brynn.
The PCs examine the Sprucetuck facemasks (protection from the eventual airborne Scent Border) and reverse engineer to make more.
I almost had no voice by the end and was starting to feel loopy from my pain killers (having just taken out my wisdom teeth).
Looking back, I would have changed a few things.
Autumn wanted to find an Instructor to help her train her Fighter skill. She spent one Player Turn circling up an Instructor and a second Player Turn paying them for instruction. But I didn’t read the Instructor rules carefully. I didn’t realize the Instructor makes a skill test against an Obstacle equal to the student’s Nature. In this case Autumn’s Nature was 5 and only rolled 6 dice (5 for her Instructor skill and +1D for Help). The test was failed and I wasn’t sure if the Condition / Twist rules for failures applied to NPCs. Could Autumn gain a Condition for an NPC to succeed at a failed skill test? I wasn’t sure how to handle it and at that point I could barely speak. Autumn’s player felt cheated because she spent 2 checks towards this goal and if she knew the test was rolled against her Nature, she would have went a different direction. I could have handled this much better.
Mission 3’s GM turn was probably too long. I felt it may have benefited from being cut into 2 GM Turns and giving the PCs a Player Turn in-between. The PCs overcame 2 Hazards and any emerging twists but I kept going since it seemed to fit the fiction. But thinking back I would have cut to a Player turn.
At the end when the PCs were leaving Spruncetuck with Loomis, her family, Bixby’s parents, 2 wagons, and barrels of scent… I made it a simple roll which felt anticlimactic. There was way too much fiction resolve in that single roll and it didn’t feel right. It should have been a full Conflict. I probably was too out of it at that point to play out another Conflict so looking back I would have ended the session on a cliffhanger and completed the GM Turn next session, starting with that Conflict.
One player brought up that mice are nocturnal and it was strange how many years Mice lived in the game. Another player countered with, Mice also don’t wear armor and use swords!
Otherwise, it worked well all things considered! The game itself is going in crazy directions! And we’re consistently hitting everyone’s Beliefs, Goals, Instincts, and incorporating their Enemies and Friends.
This thread is lovely and inspiring, this one and the thread about the swedish game gives me ideas for the next campaign (although set in a pre-medieval mediterranean setting). Thanks a lot.
Thanks! I’m having a glorious time!
Mission 4 – GM Turn:
Finn missed the last session on a covert quest to find another member of the Black Guard stationed in Copperwood. He only finds a corpse! Finn drags the body back with him.
Gwendolyn sends the PCs to protect the laborers replenishing the Scent Border. They only have enough Scent to last till the end of Fall but not survive Winter. And with the border already weak, animals may invade the territories at any moment. They start with the border’s weakest point outside the corpse of Walnutpeck (a town swallowed by the Dark Heather).
Finn arrives mid-trip with the dead mouse. Autumn rolls Circles to determine its identity. She fails! Twist, she removes its Black Guard cloak and pauses… it’s Caleb, her mentor! Finn jokes, maybe all the Mouse Guard are secretly in the Black Guard!
Bixby tries to determine the cause of death and fails! Caleb was stung with augmented bee venom behind the ear but Bixby himself becomes poisoned!
The PCs hold a Funeral for Caleb, burying him under the most ornate rocks they can find and chant one of the awesome quotes from the book, I can’t remember which but it may have been a combination of the following:
“Heroes fall, heroes break, heroes bleed. They shed bitter tears, pull themselves up, not to concede. Often are they waylaid and frequent they mourn. Heroes are rarely made and even more seldom born. Not till they all die, do mice sing of their tale. A job, a duty, a thankless obligation not to fail. Send any mouse to do the job, it may or may not be done. Ask the Guard to do the task, even death cannot prevent it from completion.” I described the camera panning to Autumn as they spoke of heroes and death not preventing tasks from being completed.
Cold rain begins to fall threatening the PCs with sickness as a Weather Watcher attempt is made and failed! Twist, the rain falls harder, weakening the existing Scent Border even more! But most of the PCs make their Health tests to avoid sickness and Cale creates cover out of fallen leaves using Survivalist.
Autumns breaks apart from the group in search for Sloan’s body (she failed to cover up the evidence of his death last mission). All that’s left is a blood trail from a makeshift grave leading towards Lockhaven. Autumn rejoins and nervously debriefs the group. Cale responds, “if needed, I’ll kill him twice.”
At the border outside of Walnutpeck, the PCs are surprised by the awe inspiring sight of a relatively gigantic deer slowly walking towards them from behind the Scent Border. Below 5 mice dressed in white full body suits are laying down a scent mixture that the PCs identify as the same concoction that Brynn (Cale’s close friend) was covered in during the fist mission when she fled Sprucetuck.
Bixby rolls Circles to determine if he knows any of them. He succeeds, the large silhouette gives Brackson, scientist from Sprucetuck, away. Bixby approaches and calls out to Brackson. Brackson panics and pretends to be someone else, trying to disguise his voice (imagine someone approaching Batman and crying out… “hey Bruce”). Hilarity ensued. Cale demands the 5 white mice stop what they’re doing immediately. They freak out the way drug dealers might in a drug bust… trying to flush drugs down a toilet but instead they empty their pockets to spread their weaponized scent all over the Scent Border. The PCs attack!
PCs win when Finn headlocks one scientist and delivers a running clothesline to a second (while still holding on to the first). Compromise, although the weaponized scent is stopped and no other animals approach, the deer enters and begins to wander the mouse territories looking for food (and possibly hiding from predators that were following its scent). The PCs successfully collect the remaining weaponized scent for use later and the laborers secure the Scent Border.
Mission 4 – Player Turn:
The 5 scientists the PCs captured earlier are thrown into jail.
Rumors of a deer walking the territories spread quickly.
Gwendolyn refuses to tell Finn what Caleb was up to for his own safety. Finn succeeds in a Persuader test, 3 vs 7 dice! Gwendolyn is impressed by the way Finn holds himself and suggests that maybe one day he could replace her. Gwendolyn reveals that Caleb was investigating Walmund. There are rumors Copperwood is pulling Sprucetcuk’s strings and Gwendolyn, out of respect for all of Walmund’s years in the Guard, wants proof before acting against him. She is hoping the rumors are wrong.
Cale turns to Hannidy for instruction, he wants to learn how to lead armies (Militarist). They spend all night playing miniature games similar to Warhammer except with Mice and Weasel minis. The whole time Hannidy continues to mock how weak Finn is and says if it were up to him, he would force everyone in Lockhaven to enlist. To soften the mood, Hannidy retells story of his military reenactment parties and shows Cale his cosplay Weasel suit.
Bixby had I believe every condition marked! Tired, Hungry, Angry, Injured, and Sick! Many PC checks were spent tending to him.
Finn tried to obtain an ornate shield from his rich parents (to match his fancy helmet) but failed! He gained the Hungry condition. He could smell his parents making his favorite meal but couldn’t have any because Hannidy is coming over and they are going to try to convince him that Finn isn’t so bad.
Autumn failed to follow Ivy’s instructions in an attempt to become a better fighter. Twist, Ivy wants nothing to do with Autumn and becomes her enemy.
Autumn confers with her friend Thom, the local gossip, to find out if Sloan has been seen in Lockhaven. She discovers Sloan arrived bleeding to death and asking to speak to Gwendolyn. He was taken away by the guard and hidden away under Gwendolyn’s order.
Mission 5 is tonight!
We started late last time because of dinner problems but I was shocked how much we accomplished in 2 hours (vs the normal 3).
I think one of our favorite parts of the game is ties and deciding if you should break it in the favor of the GM to earn checks! It happened 3 times last session.
About sneaky deals with the weasels, why not sneaky deals with the ferrets? They might be willing to make deals without the weasels knowing if it can help them rise against their opressors (at least Iäve got the impression that the weasels live some kind of spartan life with the ferrets like helots. Ferrets might even be willing to ambush a few weasels now and then and sell their musk if the mice need it?
Ferrets are a possibility! I don’t believe the main book covers them but they may be in the upcoming boxset.
John–there’s a little bit on page 205.
Mission 6 is tonight!
Here’s a recap of Mission 5…
Mission 5 – GM Turn:
Gwendolyn asks the PCs to travel to Elmoss and end the flying squirrel attacks once and for all. Gwendolyn reluctantly reveals that Walmond (Patrol Leader from Copperwood who’s suspected to be working with Sprucetuck) insists that he lead the mission. Gwendolyn asks Cale to keep an eye on Walmond. Bixby won’t be joining them as he has his own secret mission (his player missed the session).
Suddenly a swarm of Bees invades Lockhaven! They scatter searching for the 5 captured Sprucetuck scientists from last mission. Their goal… assassinate the scientists before they confess anything. PCs win but with a major compromise. All the scientists die except one, Brackson who Bixby knows.
Caleb’s family (Autumn’s mentor) ask Autumn if it’s true, is Caleb really dead? After a moment of consolement, Caleb’s daughter gives Autumns her father’s favorite binoculars as a gift to remember him.
Walmond arrives to lead the PCs to Elmoss. He appoints Brynn (Cale’s friend who he convinced to rejoin the guard) as his second in command. Cale hates Walmund but possibly loves Brynn. Tension!
On the trip, Walmond rides a large rabbit that resembles a giant pillow while the rest of the PCs travel by foot. Walmond barks orders while looking down on everyone. Every time the PCs make a test, Walmond offers help coupled with insults referencing their lack of experience in comparison to his own greatness. The PCs only take it for so long before they refuse any help.
The PCs arrive to witness flying squirrels tearing off the moss growing around Elmoss’ tree exterior. Elmoss uses the moss to make medicine and trade with other mice for basic services. The PCs rush for Elmoss’ entrance, hoping to check on the mice trapped inside before engaging the squirrels. Walmond greets Elmoss’ royal family, King and Queen Agresta and promises their nightmare is coming to an end. He mentions he has the paperwork they’ve been discussing but they can talk business after the squirrels are dealt with. The Agrestas thank Walmond for all the supplies Copperwood has provided Elmoss in their time of need.
The squirrels break through Elmoss, trying to kidnap anyone they can get their hands on but after an extended conflict, the PCs savagely beatdown and nail 3 squirrels to the ground with Autumn’s arrows while scaring the rest away. But compromise! King Agresta has been kidnapped. Fortunately the escaping wounded squirrels left a trail to follow.
Walmond demands to speak to Queen Agresta in private, bringing the papers he mentioned earlier with him.
Mission 5 – Player Turn:
Autumn and Cale investigate Elmoss food supplies, specifically looking for anything Copperwood donated. They find traces of weaponized scent! Possibly the reason the flying squirrels attacked Elmoss.
Finn eavesdrops on Walmond and Queen Agresta’s conversation. Walmond wants her to sign Elmoss’ rulership over to a joint union between Copperwood and Sprucetuck in exchange for protection and economic incentives. Finn bursts in… “Don’t sign those papers!”
Finn and Walmond have an Argument conflict, 2 dice vs 6! But we ruled that if Finn can survive 3 actions, that gives Autumn and Cale enough time to arrive to help… which they eventually do. The argument intensifies but ends with both sides having 0 disposition. After discussing what to do, we decide that Queen Agresta states that whomever brings her kidnapped husband back to her first, will decide the fate of these paper and all of Elmoss!
Autumn gathers and feeds poisoned food to Walmond’s rabbit mount to make it sick and slow.
Cale heals the 3 flying squirrels they captured. Autumn gathers food (not poisoned) to feed them. And one of the PCs obtains saddles that could be fitted onto the squirrels.
Autumn begins blazing a path to retrieve the lost king of Elmoss!
I love that they plan on riding the flying squirrels. The enemy of my enemy is my friend kind of thing.
Mission 6 – GM Turn:
Brynn (who was with Walmond) staggers slowly (like a zombie) towards the PCs preparing for their race to save the king, carrying Walmond’s battleaxe… soaked in blood.
The PCs do their best to snap her out of her shock. She speaks…
FLASHBACK: Walmond finds his rabbit mount sick and useless. Realizing the PCs may now save the king first, Walmond snaps! He screams at Brynn to put the fluffy pillow like rabbit out of its misery. Brynn defiantly insists it’s just sick. Walmond orders, berates and finally places his own axe in her hands, clasps his hands around hers, and together they end its life.
The PCs are pissed. Walmond shows up, postures, and promises to retrieve the king first.
Bixby missed last mission working with his parents to develop his dream for MouseNet. He plans to use tubes and air pressure to transport messages in locked safes disguised as acorns through the underground tunnels beneath Lockhaven. His parents insist the Guard are too narrowminded to fund Bixby’s vision and only Jin and Sprucetuck will understand and support him. Since Jin and Bixby were childhood friends, all Jin thinks about is Bixby’s ideas. Jin’s convinced Bixby is the key he’s missing.
Gwendolyn introduces Bixby to a very, very old nameless member of the Black Guard who walks with a cane whose joints crack as he walks closer. In raspy low voice, he promises he will train Bixby (we imagined he was like old Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond). Their first lesson… using bats as stealth gliders! The nameless old man carries Bixby in his arms as they fly to meet the rest of the PCs in Elmoss.
Freezing rain begins to fall as the ground becomes slickened with ice.
Bixby rejoins the PCs but as he turns to thank his transporter… he’s gone! The race is on! Chase conflict. The PCs kick Walmond’s ass, it’s quite embarrassing. Walomond, without his mount, is too slow, gets lost, and eventually runs into the gargantuan deer that’s stalking the territories. The race to find the king leads to a scene of carnage.
A squirrel, thrown against a tree, twitches in pain from its broken back. Another squirrel’s eyes were torn out and dragged up a tree by its empty sockets. The tree top features a nest and the sounds of a whimpering king. Pinned under an owl’s talon, the king is quickly approaching a heart attack. Owl eggs are scattered about between discared round pellets made of mouse fur and pulverized bone with little mouse skulls peaking out at the PCs. The owl settles down for a peaceful nap… till Finn on a flying squirrel charges, swinging his sword at its sleeping face!
FLASHBACK: Finn retells a story of a renowned mouse warrior he looked up to as a child who gained fame by killing a hawk and in a moment of doubt as old age crept in, sought to backup his reputation by fighting an owl. The hero died. Finn wonders, “is this the owl that killed my hero”, “or if not, is this my chance to prove myself a hero in my own right!”
Fight animal conflict!
I can’t do this fight justice but we had to rescript a few times as the conflict ebbed and flowed with defend actions repeatedly replenishing damaged disposition. The dispositions started around 8 vs 14, in the owl’s favor. Finn cut off one of the owl’s ears. Autumn shot arrows at its eyes. Bixby used stealth to drag the king away. The PCs crippled one of the owl’s wings. Cale was pinned under a claw but then places his sword between the owl’s fingers and begun to cut deep with a sawing motion. The owl fumbled about accidentally smashing one of its own eggs! Bixby found a scent pack on the king (that drew the owl to him) and dispatches it. Finn slices the owl’s eye. Cale threatens to destroy its remaining eggs. Autumn fires an arrow into the owl’s mouth as it almost bits Finn’s head off. Flying squirrels are clawed and thrown about. As the owl tries to escape, Finn holds on with a handful of feathers and catches a bumpy ride. The owl crunches Finn’s arm with its beak, biting deep into bone. The PCs win with only 2 disposition left!
The owl fled as Finn simply lets go and free falls, back first, into the unknown. He’s convinced he’s unkillable and no matter the danger, he will survive, this fall will be no exception. And Finn does indeed survive! Although severely injured (he jokes, maybe I’ll fight the deer next). The rest of the PCs weren’t faring much better. Plenty of injured, sick, and angry conditions were inflicted. Plus a few dead or dying squirrels. And Bixby’s friend firefly (who he carries around as a backpack) becomes sick. But the king is safe!
Mission 6 – Player Turn:
Bixby heals his firefly and builds a whistle to call bats. He uses it as the sun begins to rise but the moon is still in full view. A bat shape flies past Bixby’s view of the moon, consumes Bixby in its shadow, and lands before him. It spreads its wings to reveal the nameless old black guard who’s quite pleased with Bixby.
Cale heals his anger by talking with Brynn who decides Walmond is up to no good and will back Cale’s story when he exposes him. Cale heals Finn’s badly injured arm.
Finn and Autumn retrieve several owl feathers from their previous encounter. Finn wants to add an owl feather to his fancy helmet and save a few to design a custom owl cloak.
Autumn and Finn find Walmond sulking in the forest, filled with anger, and generally disenfranchised with himself. Autumn begins demeaning him and tries to get Walmond to understand what a loser he actually is. He regretfully agrees that he’s fallen to depths he’s never tasted before. Autumn is pleased but then Walmond loudly declares he must earn back his self respect. He draws his battleaxe and charges the PCs!
Things just keep getting more and more insane! And we’ve only explored a small percentage of the conflicts we’ve setup. It’s going to get even bumpier real fast! I’m loving every moment and the players seemed very happy with the last session. And now winter is coming!
This was also the session where 2 of the players (who never played Mouse Guard before this game) said they now really understood why checks were so important and how to game them. The last few games we averaged 2-3 ties per session where players earned checks by breaking contests in the GM’s favor (so earning checks was easy). Also, this was the first time PCs suffered conditions as part of a compromise in an extended conflict.