The effects of failing a Test

So how should one interpret the rules on ‘‘Fail with a Twist’’ in the rue book? Do the characters always have the possibility to try again and againa nd again or can a Fail mean that they actually failed for good or at least need to attack the problem at a totally different angle?

If they for example are transporting a macguffin and has been through a lot of attempts at stopping them and an attempt to steal the mcguffin succeeds, the patrol lose a Conflict, and roles turn around as part of a Compromise. Now the bandits are hunting the patrol who has gotten the macguffin back and a new Conflict takes place and the patrol wins with Compromise. I now gave the players to options:

1: You get the macguffin but during this chase the civilians you escorted and left behind has been approached by someone, you don’t know who, and been threatened, persuaded or something else into leaving/returning home.

2: We have a crescando on this hunt back and forth with a Test which decides who gets the macguffin and the civilians is out of the scope.

The players choose number 2 and the patrol lost this Test and I said they lost the macguffin and couldn’t try yet another scout/hunt-the-bandits-down-Test. They could of course run to the closet big city, just a few hours away, and try to round up other patrols and militia and form a possy and comb the area and try to get hold of the macguffin. My players didn’t want to accept that the chase would be over for them.

The question is then:
Do the rules or the intent with the rules say anything about this? Can a fail, especially after several turns back and forth, mean that the cause actually is lost or do the characters always have the opportunity to try again and again and…?

See page 91: “Move the story forward as if the patrol had overcome the initial obstacle”.

I think of it more as: “Succeed with a Twist”.

Why are the players getting to choose?

In Mouse Guard, single tests can feel shallow because there is not dead-end-style failure. Either the test is passed, the test is failed and the character(s) succeed with a condition, or the test is failed and following a twist, play proceeds as if the initial test was passed.

The consequence of this, as reinforced by “Fun Once! Let’s Not Do It Again” on page 90, is that there’s no back and forth testing to overcome the same obstacle. Single tests usually resolve things broadly. If you want to effect change in what’s happening in the game, it’s best to use the results of extended conflicts. Losing a conflict should create a new situation that the game master or the other players can follow up on as they see fit.

Does that help? I’m focusing on your first and last paragraphs. I know you’re not new to Mouse Guard, but it does have a particular economy concerning when dice are rolled. I suspect you all may be going outside of this framework if you’re encountering issues like this regularly.

If the patrol won the conflict, they get their stakes. If their goal was to get the thingy, the compromise shouldn’t be “you actually lose the thingy.”

Yes, it does help and I think it is at least partly about not being able to put it all in a singe Test or Conflict, even Conflicts are seen upon as ‘‘one die roll’’. Probably deeply rooted instincts gained from the 15 years of other types of role playing before we started to play Mouse Guard RPG and probably also a natural way of looking upon events as a lot of actions and chains of actions and then considering every Test/Conflict as one of the actions in the Chain of actions when I guess one rather should look at Tests as a Chain of actions (even if it should happen to be just one action) and Conflicts as a Chain of actions where each action (Attack/Defend/Feint/Maneuver) as the separate actions in the Chain of actions. I think it’s also about wanting to always have a second or third chance to succeed when it’s important stuff. It’s hard I guess to raise the view and look at the Tests and Conflicts as the turning points in the story rather than actions the characters do.

Or have I now sailed of away and got lost on the same big sea as Conrad and company in Black Axe? :slight_smile:

Yes, your character can try again if he or she fails. No, the player can’t try again.

You say what your character is trying to do: “I’m Trying to find the traitor. I’m going to still looking all day if I can find him.”

Good. That’s a Scout test. Make the roll.

Fail. Well, you’ve been searching all day for the traitor. At night, you realize that you will not find him. When you are returning to the inn, some very ugly mice appear in front of you. They want to know why you are asking so many questions in the town."

Your character can try once. One test. Your character can try it twice. One test. Your character can try all day if he want. One test only. Or maybe two or three test, if he needs two or three Skills to overcome the Obstacle. Or maybe a Conflict. But one Obstacle always. Or he fails, or he success.

I think that’s a fair self-assessment. One of the most useful skills I’ve found for game mastering Mouse Guard and Burning Wheel is the ability to identify the exigency in a situation, and framing scenes around that turning point. It’s crucial to the interaction between tests, advancement, and earning and spending checks for the Players’ Turn. It’s easy for game sessions to feel flat or limp when the group starts getting away from this economy.