Taxing Resources

IMO the tax on Resources should work the way tax on Nature does, or the way Resources Tax works in BW. Otherwise it’s impossible to advance Resources… or is that deliberate?


You’re making some strange and high falutin claims there, sir.

Am I wrong? Let’s say I have Resources 4 (in MG). To advance it, I need to succeed 4 times, and fail 3 times. But failed Resources test lower the stat…and wipe all tests… right?

How does Mouse Guard actually work?

Oh…I. Know!

OK, so I just double-checked the text, p. 238 I believe. It says that the GM may deplete your Resources on a failed check of that ability. It even goes on to specify that the ability may be advanced as normal after depletion! But is that “advanced as normal” at the new level, or the old one? Since there’s nothing about BW-style Tax—that I could find, anyway—it seems that it would be at the new level. And that any pre-existing Passes and Fails would be cleared, per the rule cited in the OP.

Conclusion: You can’t advance Resources in MG, unless the GM doesn’t ever take the option of depleting it.

…What am I missing?


Depleting resources is just one of three options: twist, condition or depletion. Therefore, saying “impossible” or “can’t ever” is a bit extreme.

Sure, but if the GM employs it even once, you’re boned.


The GM’s role is to test, challenge, and beat up the PCs to force them to prove their heroism…

You mean, you lose a point of Resources and a couple of tests. I do not understand why you’re resorting to hyperbole on this issue.

That it’s often better as a GM to use the other options - a twist or condition. A twist might be something as simple as “First, fetch me this thing…” (some easier to obtain resource roll, or some other skill roll, or remove the item from existing inventory…). And the GM can always invite input as to which the party would prefer…

It’s not like in BW, where there is temp drain upon it. But you could always import that… along with all the other complications BW’s resources rules have that MG’s don’t.

Well, because it works differently than the entire rest of the game. Sure, it’s possible to lose tests on other skills or abilities, but not from a single failed roll of that ability—you have to get a (severe) Condition, and then also fail the Recovery test. There’s nothing else in the game where you can deplete the stat by testing the stat! I mean, except Nature–but oh wait Nature works like Resources in BW.

Look, I love MG, and in particular I love how harsh it is. But the way Resources works is especially cruel, or at least potentially so, and there’s no explanation of just how harsh the depletion option is, relative to all the other bad stuff that can happen to the mice. Furthermore, as we’ve seen in this thread, it’s a landmine for people new to the game. So not only is it unnecessarily harsh, it’s also confusing.

I do think using BW-style Tax would be an easy solution. It’s not like it’s a concept that’s too advanced for MG—again, see Nature.


We haven’t seen anyone hit a landmine in this thread. The original question was about wiping out advances when a skill or stat is reduced.

I’ve always just assumed that being in the guard is bad for one’s pocketbook.

Is the failure marked for advancement before or after the GM chooses to reduce your resources rating?

That’s a good question.

Another thing that bothers me, the more I think about this: what is happening fictionally that justifies wiping the tests? Is it that I’ve suddenly forgotten everything I’ve learned so far about how to manage my resources well, because I overextended myself once?

In contrast, when you reduce a rating in a skill due to failed recovery from Injury or Sickness, it’s much easier to justify the blank slate of tests: you have to re-learn how to use your sword arm as it heals, or adjust your speaking style to the way the smoke inhalation changed your voice (AP example), or, at the very least, you took a hard knock on the head and forgot some lore (if the skill reduced is academic).

And, again, those other losses aren’t recursive in the same way.


If there was no taxing mechanic, you’d complain that there was no way to reduce Resources when a player overreached. No matter what they bought, pass or fail, their skill would increase.

And Resources don’t work like they do in Burning Wheel because:

  1. This game is not Burning Wheel
  2. This game is not about Resources; it’s about Nature.

Actually, I have always answered that question for players saying that its not a narrative event at all in teh fiction. In fact, in the fiction, nothing is happeneing at all. It is entirely a mechanical event. The player has called upon the available mechanical rule and it turned out as a failed test; the GM invokes an available mechanical rule and it turns up with a lost point of Resources.

Now, I’m not saying it is a bad thing to spend a moment imagining the narrative fiction of it, as long as that doesn’t call into question the mechanics. For example, when you fail a Circle test, the GM might introduce an enemy. Similar to the Resources failure permitting a depletion, this is an available rule which the GM doesn’t have to invoke this rule, but can. What if you came away from a failed resources test indicating that you just had to take up a loan to gather the money needed to get what you want? Wouldn’t it be neat to say that it has a lasting impact of a new relationship: your creditor.

overall, I don’t get bothered that tests get wiped, its a mechanical event, not a narrative event. There is no obligation for a mechanical event to have a narrative justification.

Aha, thank you, an actual response.

Note that what I’m arguing for is a taxing mechanic. If you fail too many times, your Resources drops to, say, 0/4, and then drops to 3 and tests are wiped out. And note also that there’s a nice death spiral there, though not one that’s impossible to pull out of.

Nature still gets rolled (and, obviously, tapped) much more often, so I don’t think implementing this will make the game “about Resources” rather than about Nature. Imma try it next time I run an MG campaign.


Always happy to provide answers people can ignore!

it seems to me that saying that Resources can only advance if the GM decides not to nuke your stats is like saying that i can only get better at fighting if the GM doesn’t murder me. it comes down to the GM being sensitive to the atmosphere of the game and the table and making a choice that, central to MG, forces your character to make tough decisions.

Resources represents not just your “money” or funding, but also your ability to acquire things based on your knowledge, your connections, your resourcefulness and cunning, etc. so from a story perspective your Resources could be reduced to represent somebody becoming suspicious if you’re trying to get like a bunch of weapons or very particular items, or they might be deciding that you’re too expensive to hang around with, or from a monetary perspective somebody could have ripped you off–which may actually leave you wiser but you’ll certainly be without funds, and as Resources is an aggregate skill a tax is still justifiable from both a mechanics and a storytelling perspective. or maybe your character is a bit of a rogue with some underworld connections and a Resource tax represents a fence you know and use getting picked up by the Guard–and what if that mouse decides to talk about one of his loyal customers? in addition to a mechanical problem your character now has a personal problem, which is something that can be used to guide your players’ turns.

basically what i’m getting at is that Resources is a very mutable and abstract type of skill, and while it fulfills specific functions it can work in a myriad of ways. a skilled GM will take into account what specific method you’ve declared that you’ll be utilizing of all of the possibilities (a fence, a straight transaction, an appeal to Gwendolyn) and arbitrate failed conditions accordingly. sometimes that will result in a hit to your Resources, and as long as it’s creating compelling gameplay then it’s in the spirit of the game.