"The Fall of the Mouse Guard!" Vary long term mission.

Hi all I decided after doing some small games with my group that I wanted to do something larger scale and longer games. When I started running mouse guard I had 4 players now I have 8. I may split my players up into two different missions during some weeks to have smaller games but the missions will effect the whole game.

I am looking for advice on long term campaigns (Lasting about a year our time and about 2 - 3 years in game) Has anyone run a story arc that long and what advice do you give a new-ish GM who is starting a long plot line mission out?

Here is what I am planning already to do,

First off I am going to have small plots or goals for my players to finish, so that there is still that sense of completion but the goals will all go towards the magor story arch.

I am also about choices, I will have a problem but there will be 3 set missions to fix the problem and each will have its merits and pitfalls.

Let me go into some of the story so you can see what I am talking about


“The fall of the Mouse Guard”

It is the year 1267, Sarah the new leader of the mouse guard has spent 5 years watching over a restless peace in the lands. Cities grow restless and some start to believe that they no longer need the mouse guard to protect them, and now start to see them as meddlesome guardsmen sent from mouse guard to control and rule over all other mice. This is of course a lie, but a clever one spread on perpouse by an underground movement that is becoming more and more public. In the first few months of springs this movement called the “Ravens Truth” became known everywhere when there members start to preach on the “dictatorship of the mouse guard, how mice should be free but instead we bow willing into the will of the mouse guard, feeding them and protecting there power.”

The story takes place with a group of mouse guard about to set out to correct these lies when something happens in lockhaven. The black axe’s Axe is stolen. During the leadershiop of the Sabrina (The mouse guard leader between Sara and Gwen in my fluff) The last black axe died in combat uniting a once divided mouse people. Sabrina took the axe and placed it high in her office of power to remind people the price of bickering among our towns and how the last weasel war almost ended in defeat if it was not for the black axe and how he united us in death.

My party will be giving 3 choices, Try to track down the thief and bring back the axe or make a new axe and replace it. There are two ways about making a new one, the first is by research and finding an old tome that had the secretes on how to make the axe. the other way is to find a distant relative of the mouse who made the axe and hope the knowledge was passed down. (witch it was). In this case and others it will be 3 NPC characters that will argue out what path to take and then leave it up to the party to make the selection on what path(s) should be taken.

During there mission something dark will happen. An army will take lockhaven, it will be an army of not enemies but of mislead mice who were convinced that the mouse guard themselves are the root of all evil and under the rain of the Raven’s Truth all mice will be equal. Being a mouse guard will be band, mice will be arrested for wearing there mouse guard cloaks. It will be a dark time for the guard. The party must now move in secrete and try to mobilize the remaining guard and level headed allies to take back the lockhaven and remove the evil that is Raven’s Truth.

That is the idea of the story so far, as you can see I have a good idea of the over all plot that will take some time to over come. I am planning on building mission off the the players choices and there out comes may spark new missions. I plan to have some debate battles early on with the mice having to out speech some of the Raven’s Truth mice in cities to win over allies to there cause.

I also have a deck of random events I have been working on in case my party wants to go off and do something I did not plan for and need something on the spot and I cant think of anything appropriate.

Where I need help is in the advice, where have you had problems with long campaigns and how did you fix them and so forth this is my first non-one session GM-ing so any advice would be welcome. Also what do you think of my story idea?

Thanks for the advice and help
-Andrew Haught

Hi Andrew,

What are the characters’ Beliefs and Instincts? How do these events challenge those? Do these events incorporate their relationships?

We have yet to make characters for the mission we are meeting tonight to do just that. Relationships are going to be key aspects to the mission, From fronds to mentors they are going to be key allies needed to take back the rightful place of the mouse guard. Even there enemies may turn out to be there only choice to defeat a certain enemy or challenge for when the world around you falls apart an enemy may just as well help you build it back up.

The whole feel of the campaign is that they are out numbered and they need to band together whatever strength they can to weather the storm and regroup and retake what is lost. I for see some combat actions in the game but I think there will be more Debate and Roll play to get some of the main story plots completed. It can end in many ways with only a small band of friends and loyal mouse guards armed with mythical black weapons like the black ax taking back whats there to a whole army being lead by the players against a horde of enemies a epic scale war. I could also end in sneaking around and assassinations it really will depend on what my players decided to do and how they want to tackle the big issue. I will through in NPC and Relationships as gate ways to smaller missions that will unlock bigger goals as such.

But to answer your question I intend to rely heavily on relationships once i get them. as for beliefs and instincts I am going to challenge them greatly, I am going to throw some tough moral issues as well, will they be willing to do anything to win the day or are they still mouse guard?

You’re risking undermining your long-term campaign by planning out anything before the characters have been recruited. If the players are not bought into the situation through what they express with their characters’ Beliefs, Instincts, skills, and relationships, then it’s going to be difficult to achieve a game of the scope you desire. You will be better off looking at what the players have flagged as interesting to them and challenging those aspects appropriately, and letting the campaign grow out of that. It’s fine to introduce a central conceit–like that someone has succeeded Gwendolyn as the Guard’s matriarch–and see how they respond, but leave the specifics of how they handle any situation (whether it’s a single mission obstacle or something larger) in their hands.

Kudos for the strong theme. It can be difficult to get the players all in-line when you have a strong theme in mind for a campaign.

It is better to present it to them without secrets or concealed details. Tell them what sort of campaign you would like to produce for them and ask them to build PCs that can fit that story best of all. Encourage them to select a Friend and Enemy that is directly and deeply involved with the major factions. Encourage them to spread their skills into the activities which will be highlighted in the campaign; they’ll enjoy being at least capable of participating.

You certainly need to find a good compromise between the sort of game the players want to have and the sort of game you want to provide; talking openly will help them buy into the premise you present. It will give them a chance to interweave their own perspective on the overall theme.

I see what you are saying, and I am keeping it open as can be, When making characters I nudged my players to remember the the debate skills and told them that they may end up using them alot. But as for enemies and family i let them choose who they wanted and it worked out better then i thought, I got one who is going to have to try and work with an enemy that killed his mother (well he does not know that yet). I have another one who had a close friend be killed by bandits and that bandit camp may be the only safe haven for them to go to in a part of the story (bits i have yet to write) another has a rival family that works in the same field as his own that rival mouse family will be one of the first to join the Ravens Truth and become one of the main enemies the party has to face.

The way i see it is the underlining story is that the mouse guard has fallen and and the world is now under the hard and cruel rule of the Ravens truth. What will my party do? will the continue to help mice in need? will they try and rally an army to retake the world they once knew? Will they make raiding parties and try to topple the new government with small strikes target to do the most damage? Will they seek help from unlikely allies or is revenge more important to them?

My game was always going to be set in this world but the world is opened ended to fit my players characters, we have a mouse who loves books and old knowledge then that will be key to winning the war, I don’t see a problem with letting the players make what they want and me to develop a world where they will be needed.

I feel this format is more freeing then others for my players, in the normal world they would have to report to the mouse guard and do odd missions that may or may not be something the party would have considered doing themselves but in this world, my party goes off on there first mission, it allot more complicated then they thought, they return to find lockhaven defeated. Mouse Guard bodies are sattered around the entrance, as a warning to all mice who still think there is a guard. the world as they know it is gone. An army occupies lockhaven, and it is vast. What will my party do? it is completely up to them how they want to aporch this massive problem. They have there allies in towns that will help them, there are the other patrols of mouse guard all over that could be united to form an army. There are also spies and traitors and loads of plot twists not to say that there still are owls and snakes in the world.

I see the world as so opened ended that my party will have loads of chances to added there own perspective and to do what they want.